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Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel. The Lord has filed a lawsuit against you listing the following charges: “There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You swear and lie and kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere, with one murder after another.

“That is why your land is not producing; it is filled with sadness, and all living things grow sick and die; the animals, the birds, and even the fish begin to disappear.

“Don’t point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame to him! Look, priest, I am pointing my finger at you. As a sentence for your crimes, you priests will stumble in broad daylight as well as in the night, and so will your false ‘prophets’ too; and I will destroy your mother, Israel. My people are destroyed because they don’t know me, and it is all your fault, you priests, for you yourselves refuse to know me; therefore, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten my laws, I will ‘forget’ to bless your children. The more my people multiplied, the more they sinned against me. They exchanged the glory of God for the disgrace of idols.

“The priests rejoice in the sins of the people; they lap it up and lick their lips for more! And thus it is: ‘Like priests, like people’—because the priests are wicked, the people are too. Therefore, I will punish both priests and people for all their wicked deeds. 10 They will eat and still be hungry. Though they do a big business as prostitutes, they shall have no children, for they have deserted me and turned to other gods.

11 “Wine, women, and song have robbed my people of their brains. 12 For they are asking a piece of wood to tell them what to do. ‘Divine Truth’ comes to them through tea leaves![a] Longing after idols has made them foolish. For they have played the harlot, serving other gods, deserting me. 13 They sacrifice to idols on the tops of mountains; they go up into the hills to burn incense in the pleasant shade of oaks and poplars and sumac trees.

“There your daughters turn to prostitution and your brides commit adultery. 14 But why should I punish them? For you men are doing the same thing, sinning with harlots and temple prostitutes. Fools! Your doom is sealed, for you refuse to understand.

15 “But though Israel is a prostitute, may Judah stay far from such a life. O Judah, do not join with those who insincerely worship me at Gilgal and at Bethel. Their worship is mere pretense. 16 Don’t be like Israel, stubborn as a heifer, resisting the Lord’s attempts to lead her in green pastures. 17 Stay away from her, for she is wedded to idolatry.

18 “The men of Israel finish up their drinking bouts, and off they go to find some whores. Their love for shame is greater than for honor.[b]

19 “Therefore, a mighty wind shall sweep them away;[c] they shall die in shame because they sacrifice to idols.


  1. Hosea 4:12 through tea leaves, literally, “through their staff.” There is no modern parallel to this ancient practice used by sorcerers, whose predictions were based on how their staffs landed on the ground when thrown or allowed to fall.
  2. Hosea 4:18 Their love for shame is greater than for honor. The Hebrew text is uncertain. The translation follows the Greek version.
  3. Hosea 4:19 a mighty wind shall sweep them away. The Assyrian invasion came about twenty years later, and the nation disappeared.

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