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Chapter 12

Infidelity of Israel[a]

Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,
    the house of Israel, with deceit;
Judah still wanders about with gods,
    and is faithful to holy ones.[b]
[c]Ephraim shepherds the wind,
    and pursues the east wind all day long.
He multiplies lies and violence:
    They make a covenant with Assyria,
    and oil is carried to Egypt.

The Lord has a dispute with Judah,
    and will punish Jacob[d] for his conduct,
    and repay him for his deeds.
In the womb he supplanted his brother,(A)
    and in his vigor he contended with a divine being;
He contended with an angel and prevailed,(B)
    he wept and entreated him.
At Bethel he met with him,
    and there he spoke with him.(C)
The Lord is the God of hosts,
    the Lord is his name!(D)
You must return to your God.
    Maintain loyalty and justice
    and always hope in your God.

A merchant who holds a false balance,
    he loves to extort!
Ephraim has said,
    “How rich I have become;
    I have made a fortune!”(E)
All his gain will not suffice
    for the guilt of his sin.
10 I the Lord have been your God,
    since the land of Egypt;(F)
I will again have you live in tents,
    as on feast days.
11 I spoke to the prophets,
    I granted many visions,(G)
    and through the prophets I told parables.
12 In Gilead is falsehood, they have come to nothing;
    in Gilgal they sacrifice bulls,
But their altars are like heaps of stones(H)
    in the furrows of the field.

13 Jacob fled to the land of Aram,
    and Israel served for a wife;
    for a wife he tended sheep.(I)
14 But by a prophet[e] the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt,
    and by a prophet Israel was tended.(J)
15 Ephraim has aroused bitter anger,
    so his Lord shall cast his bloodguilt upon him
    and repay him for his scorn.


  1. 12:1–15 This chapter draws a parallel between the history of Israel and events in the life of Jacob-Israel, the ancestor.
  2. 12:1 An attack on the idolatry of both kingdoms, Israel and Judah. Holy ones: subordinate gods, members of the divine council.
  3. 12:2 Hosea frequently condemns the alliances with Assyria and Egypt, the two world powers (7:8–16).
  4. 12:3 Jacob: whose name was changed to Israel (Gn 35:10).
  5. 12:14 A prophet: Moses.