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Chapter 10

Destruction of Idolatrous Cultic Objects

(A)Israel is a luxuriant vine
    whose fruit matches its growth.
The more abundant his fruit,
    the more altars he built;
The more productive his land,
    the more sacred pillars[a] he set up.
Their heart is false!
    Now they will pay for their guilt:
God will break down their altars
    and destroy their sacred pillars.
For now they will say,
    “We have no king![b]
Since we do not fear the Lord,
    the king—what could he do for us?”
They make promises,
    swear false oaths, and make covenants,
While lawsuits sprout
    like poisonous weeds[c] in the furrows of a field!

The inhabitants of Samaria are afraid
    for the calf of Beth-aven;[d]
Its people mourn for it
    and its idolatrous priests wail over it,
    —over its glory which has departed from it.(B)
It too will be carried to Assyria,
    as an offering to the great king.[e](C)
Ephraim will be put to shame,
    Israel will be shamed by his schemes.

Samaria and her king will disappear,
    like a twig upon the waters.
The high places of Aven[f] will be destroyed,
    the sin of Israel;
    thorns and thistles will overgrow their altars.
Then they will cry out to the mountains, “Cover us!”
    and to the hills, “Fall upon us!”(D)

War Because of Israel’s Wickedness

Since the days of Gibeah(E)
    you have sinned, Israel.
There they took their stand;
    will war not reach them in Gibeah?
Against a perverse people
10     I came and I chastised them;
Peoples will be gathered against them
    when I bind them to their two crimes.[g]
11 Ephraim was a trained heifer,
    that loved to thresh;
I myself laid a yoke
    upon her beautiful neck;
I will make Ephraim break ground, Judah must plow,
    Jacob must harrow for himself:
12 “Sow for yourselves justice,
    reap the reward of loyalty;
Break up for yourselves a new field,(F)
    for it is time to seek the Lord,
    till he comes and rains justice upon you.”(G)
13 But you have plowed wickedness,
    reaped perversity,
    and eaten the fruit of falsehood.
Because you have trusted in your own power,
    and in your many warriors,(H)
14 The clamor of war shall break out among your people
    and all your fortresses shall be ravaged
As Salman ravaged Beth-arbel[h] on the day of war,
    smashing mothers along with their children.(I)
15 So it will be done to you, Bethel,
    because of your utter wickedness:
At dawn[i] the king of Israel
    will utterly disappear.


  1. 10:1 Sacred pillars: see note on 3:4.
  2. 10:3 No king: the instability of the monarchy (7:3–7) and its vassalage to foreign kings (7:8–16) render the monarchy ineffective. The kings do the opposite of what they are supposed to do (10:4).
  3. 10:4 Lawsuits…like poisonous weeds: the administration of justice, which should have been the mainstay of the people, has in corrupt hands become another instrument of oppression; cf. Am 6:12.
  4. 10:5 The calf of Beth-aven: see note on 4:15.
  5. 10:6 The great king: a title used by the Assyrian kings. See also note on 5:13.
  6. 10:8 Aven: wickedness, first of all at Bethel (v. 5), but also at all the high places.
  7. 10:10 Two crimes: the allusion is not clear; a possible reference is the outrage described in Jgs 19.
  8. 10:14 As Salman ravaged Beth-arbel: perhaps Salamanu, king of Moab, mentioned in an inscription of Tiglath-pileser III, after an invasion in Gilead (Transjordan), where there was a Beth-arbel, close to present Irbid.
  9. 10:15 At dawn: normally the moment of God’s victory over Israel’s enemies, and thus his salvation (Is 17:14; Ps 46:6). Here it is a reversal of this expectation.

10 Israel was a spreading vine;(A)
    he brought forth fruit for himself.
As his fruit increased,
    he built more altars;(B)
as his land prospered,(C)
    he adorned his sacred stones.(D)
Their heart is deceitful,(E)
    and now they must bear their guilt.(F)
The Lord will demolish their altars(G)
    and destroy their sacred stones.(H)

Then they will say, “We have no king
    because we did not revere the Lord.
But even if we had a king,
    what could he do for us?”
They make many promises,
    take false oaths(I)
    and make agreements;(J)
therefore lawsuits spring up
    like poisonous weeds(K) in a plowed field.
The people who live in Samaria fear
    for the calf-idol(L) of Beth Aven.[a](M)
Its people will mourn over it,
    and so will its idolatrous priests,(N)
those who had rejoiced over its splendor,
    because it is taken from them into exile.(O)
It will be carried to Assyria(P)
    as tribute(Q) for the great king.(R)
Ephraim will be disgraced;(S)
    Israel will be ashamed(T) of its foreign alliances.
Samaria’s king will be destroyed,(U)
    swept away like a twig on the surface of the waters.
The high places(V) of wickedness[b](W) will be destroyed—
    it is the sin of Israel.
Thorns(X) and thistles will grow up
    and cover their altars.(Y)
Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!”(Z)
    and to the hills, “Fall on us!”(AA)

“Since the days of Gibeah,(AB) you have sinned,(AC) Israel,
    and there you have remained.[c]
Will not war again overtake
    the evildoers in Gibeah?
10 When I please, I will punish(AD) them;
    nations will be gathered against them
    to put them in bonds for their double sin.
11 Ephraim is a trained heifer
    that loves to thresh;
so I will put a yoke(AE)
    on her fair neck.
I will drive Ephraim,
    Judah must plow,
    and Jacob must break up the ground.
12 Sow(AF) righteousness(AG) for yourselves,
    reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;(AH)
    for it is time to seek(AI) the Lord,
until he comes
    and showers his righteousness(AJ) on you.
13 But you have planted wickedness,
    you have reaped evil,(AK)
    you have eaten the fruit of deception.(AL)
Because you have depended on your own strength
    and on your many warriors,(AM)
14 the roar of battle will rise against your people,
    so that all your fortresses will be devastated(AN)
as Shalman(AO) devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle,
    when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children.(AP)
15 So will it happen to you, Bethel,
    because your wickedness is great.
When that day dawns,
    the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.(AQ)


  1. Hosea 10:5 Beth Aven means house of wickedness (a derogatory name for Bethel, which means house of God).
  2. Hosea 10:8 Hebrew aven, a reference to Beth Aven (a derogatory name for Bethel); see verse 5.
  3. Hosea 10:9 Or there a stand was taken