10 Israel, once a vibrant vine that bore adequate fruit, is now barren. The more fruit he bore, the more altars he made; the more his fertile soil produced, the more he made the sacred pillars. 2 But they aren’t loyal to God in their hearts, and now they’ll pay the penalty: the Eternal will break apart their altars and smash their sacred pillars. 3 Then they’ll say, “We don’t have our own king anymore because we didn’t fear the Eternal One. But even if we still had a king, what could he do for us?”
A nation without a functioning king is no nation at all.
4 They speak a lot of sensible words, but their oaths are insincere, and their covenant promises are empty. This is why the king’s judgment sprouts up like poisonous weeds in a plowed field. 5 The people of Samaria are afraid of what will happen to the calf-idol of Beth-aven; the people will mourn for it, and its pagan priests will join in lament. They’ll wail when its glory departs. 6 The wretched idol will be taken to Assyria and given to the great king. Ephraim will be disgraced; Israel will be ashamed because of this king’s counsel. 7 Samaria and her king will be cut off, carried away like a twig on the swirling waters. 8 The wicked high places where Israel’s people sinned will be destroyed; thorns and thistles will cover their once-proud altars. People will beg the mountains, “Surround us!” They’ll plead with the hills, “Cover us!”[a]
9 Eternal One: From the days of Gibeah you, Israel, have sinned![b] And they’re still the same today. Nothing has changed. Will war overtake these people of wickedness in Gibeah? 10 At the time I choose, I’ll punish them: nations will gather against them because they have compounded their own guilt. 11 Ephraim was a trained heifer who loved to tread on the threshing floor. Now I have lashed a yoke to her fair neck. Judah will plow, and Jacob will break up the hard, compacted soil.
12 Plant a crop of righteousness for yourselves, harvest the fruit of unfailing love, And break up your hard soil, because it’s time to seek the Eternal until He comes and waters your fields with justice.
13 You’ve plowed wickedness and reaped injustice; you’ve eaten the fruit of deception. Because you’ve trusted in your own might, in the size and skill of your army, 14 So the nations will line up against you in battle and all of your fortifications will be destroyed, Just as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel when he fought against it and dashed its mothers to pieces with their children! 15 The same thing will happen to you, O Bethel, because you’re so wicked. When that day breaks, the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.
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