10 Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself. As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones. 2 Their heart is deceitful, and now they must bear their guilt. The Lord will demolish their altars and destroy their sacred stones.
3 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?” 4 They make many promises, take false oaths and make agreements; therefore lawsuits spring up like poisonous weeds in a plowed field. 5 The people who live in Samaria fear for the calf-idol of Beth Aven.[a] Its people will mourn over it, and so will its idolatrous priests, those who had rejoiced over its splendor, because it is taken from them into exile. 6 It will be carried to Assyria as tribute for the great king. Ephraim will be disgraced; Israel will be ashamed of its foreign alliances. 7 Samaria’s king will be destroyed, swept away like a twig on the surface of the waters. 8 The high places of wickedness[b] will be destroyed— it is the sin of Israel. Thorns and thistles will grow up and cover their altars. Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!” and to the hills, “Fall on us!”
9 “Since the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, Israel, and there you have remained.[c] Will not war again overtake the evildoers in Gibeah? 10 When I please, I will punish 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 on her fair neck. I will drive Ephraim, Judah must plow, and Jacob must break up the ground. 12 Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you. 13 But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors, 14 the roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated— as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children. 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.
God’s Love for Israel
11 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. 2 But the more they were called, the more they went away from me.[d] They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. 3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. 4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.
5 “Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent? 6 A sword will flash in their cities; it will devour their false prophets and put an end to their plans. 7 My people are determined to turn from me. Even though they call me God Most High, I will by no means exalt them.
8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. 9 I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I devastate Ephraim again. For I am God, and not a man— the Holy One among you. I will not come against their cities. 10 They will follow the Lord; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west. 11 They will come from Egypt, trembling like sparrows, from Assyria, fluttering like doves. I will settle them in their homes,” declares the Lord.
12 Ephraim has surrounded me with lies, Israel with deceit. And Judah is unruly against God, even against the faithful Holy One.[e]
12 [f]1 Ephraim feeds on the wind; he pursues the east wind all day and multiplies lies and violence. He makes a treaty with Assyria and sends olive oil to Egypt. 2 The Lord has a charge to bring against Judah; he will punish Jacob[g] according to his ways and repay him according to his deeds. 3 In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel; as a man he struggled with God. 4 He struggled with the angel and overcame him; he wept and begged for his favor. He found him at Bethel and talked with him there— 5 the Lord God Almighty, the Lord is his name! 6 But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.
7 The merchant uses dishonest scales and loves to defraud. 8 Ephraim boasts, “I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin.”
9 “I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of your appointed festivals. 10 I spoke to the prophets, gave them many visions and told parables through them.”
11 Is Gilead wicked? Its people are worthless! Do they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal? Their altars will be like piles of stones on a plowed field. 12 Jacob fled to the country of Aram[h]; Israel served to get a wife, and to pay for her he tended sheep. 13 The Lord used a prophet to bring Israel up from Egypt, by a prophet he cared for him. 14 But Ephraim has aroused his bitter anger; his Lord will leave on him the guilt of his bloodshed and will repay him for his contempt.
The Lord’s Anger Against Israel
13 When Ephraim spoke, people trembled; he was exalted in Israel. But he became guilty of Baal worship and died. 2 Now they sin more and more; they make idols for themselves from their silver, cleverly fashioned images, all of them the work of craftsmen. It is said of these people, “They offer human sacrifices! They kiss[i] calf-idols!” 3 Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears, like chaff swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window.
4 “But I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. 5 I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of burning heat. 6 When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me. 7 So I will be like a lion to them, like a leopard I will lurk by the path. 8 Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open; like a lion I will devour them— a wild animal will tear them apart.
9 “You are destroyed, Israel, because you are against me, against your helper. 10 Where is your king, that he may save you? Where are your rulers in all your towns, of whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’? 11 So in my anger I gave you a king, and in my wrath I took him away. 12 The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record. 13 Pains as of a woman in childbirth come to him, but he is a child without wisdom; when the time arrives, he doesn’t have the sense to come out of the womb.
14 “I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?
“I will have no compassion, 15 even though he thrives among his brothers. An east wind from the Lord will come, blowing in from the desert; his spring will fail and his well dry up. His storehouse will be plundered of all its treasures. 16 The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.”[j]
Repentance to Bring Blessing
14 [k]Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! 2 Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.[l] 3 Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses. We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.”
4 “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. 5 I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; 6 his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. 7 People will dwell again in his shade; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine— Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon. 8 Ephraim, what more have I[m] to do with idols? I will answer him and care for him. I am like a flourishing juniper; your fruitfulness comes from me.”
9 Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.
Hosea 10:5Beth Aven means house of wickedness (a derogatory name for Bethel, which means house of God).
Hosea 10:8Hebrew aven, a reference to Beth Aven (a derogatory name for Bethel); see verse 5.
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