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God’s Love for His People

11 When Israel was a child,
I loved him,
and I called
    my son out of Egypt.
But as the saying goes,
“The more they were called,
    the more they rebelled.”[a]
They never stopped offering
incense and sacrifices
    to the idols of Baal.

I took Israel by the arm
    and taught them to walk.
But they would not admit
that I was the one
    who had healed them.
I led them with kindness
and with love,
    not with ropes.
I held them close to me;[b]
    I bent down to feed them.

But they trusted Egypt
instead of returning to me;
    now Assyria will rule them.
War will visit their cities,
    and their plans will fail.[c]
My people are determined
    to reject me for a god
they think is stronger,
    but he can’t help.[d]

Israel, I can’t let you go.
    I can’t give you up.
How could I possibly destroy you
as I did the towns of Admah
    and Zeboiim?[e]
I just can’t do it.
My feelings for you
    are much too strong.
Israel, I won’t lose my temper
    and destroy you again.
I am the Holy God—
not merely some human,
    and I won’t stay angry.

10 I, the Lord, will roar like a lion,
and my children will return,
    trembling
from the west.
11 They will come back,
fluttering like birds from Egypt
    or like doves from Assyria.
Then I will bring them
back to their homes.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

Israel and Judah Compared

12 Israel is deceitful to me,
    their loyal and holy God;
they surround me with lies,
and Judah worships
    other gods.[f]

Footnotes

  1. 11.2 But. . . rebelled: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 11.4 I held. . . to me: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 11.6 fail: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 6.
  4. 11.7 help: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 7.
  5. 11.8 Admah and Zeboiim: When the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, he also destroyed these two towns (see Deuteronomy 29.23).
  6. 11.12 and Judah worships other gods: Or “but Judah remains faithful.”

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