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The People of Israel Ignored What the Lord Had Done for Them

12 [a]The people of Ephraim try to catch the wind
and try to chase the east wind all day.
They are very violent and destructive.
They make treaties with Assyria and take olive oil to Egypt.

The Lord brings charges against Judah and punishes Jacob
because of the way their people act.
He will pay them back for what they have done.
Their ancestor Jacob held on to his brother’s heel
while the two of them were in their mother’s womb.
When Jacob became a man, he struggled with God.
He struggled with the Messenger and won.
Jacob cried and pleaded with him.
Jacob found him at Bethel,
and he talked with him there.
The Lord is the God of Armies.
The Lord is the name by which he is remembered.
Return to your God.
Be loyal and fair, and always wait with hope for your God.

⌞The Lord says,⌟ “The merchants use dishonest scales.
They love to cheat people.
The people of Ephraim say, ‘We’re rich. We’ve made a fortune.
With all this wealth, no one will find us guilty of any sin.’
I am the Lord your God.
I brought you out of Egypt.
I will make you live in tents again
as you did during your appointed festivals.
10 I spoke to the prophets and gave them many visions.
I taught lessons through the prophets.” [b]

11 The people of Gilead are evil.
They are worthless.
They sacrifice bulls in Gilgal.
But their altars will become like piles of rubble
beside a plowed field.
12 Jacob fled to the country of Syria.
Israel worked to get a wife; he took care of sheep to pay for her.
13 The Lord used a prophet to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt.
He used a prophet to take care of them.

14 The people of Ephraim made the Lord bitter.
He will hold them guilty of murder.
The Lord will pay them back for their insults.

The People of Israel Will Be Punished for Their Idolatry

13 When the tribe of Ephraim spoke, people trembled.
The people of Ephraim were important in Israel.
Then they became guilty of worshiping Baal,
so they must die.
They keep on sinning more and more.
They make idols from silver for themselves.
These idols are skillfully made.
All of them are the work of craftsmen.
People say this about the Israelites: “They offer human sacrifices
and kiss calf-shaped idols.”
That is why they will be like fog in the morning
and like morning dew that disappears quickly.
They will be like straw blown away from threshing floors.[c]
They will be like smoke rising from chimneys.

“I am the Lord your God. I brought you out of Egypt.
You have known no god besides me.
There is no savior except me.
I took care of you [d] in the desert, in a dry land.
When I fed you, you were full.
When you were full, you became arrogant.
That is why you forgot me.
So I will be like a lion.
Like a leopard I will wait by the road to ambush you.
Like a bear that has lost her cubs, I will attack you.
I will rip you open.
Like a lion I will devour you.
Like a wild animal I will tear you apart.
You are destroying yourself, Israel.
You are against me, your helper.

10 “Where, now, is your king, the one who is supposed to save you?
Where in all your cities are your judges?
You said, ‘Give us kings and officials!’
11 I gave you a king when I was angry,
and I took him away when I was furious.

12 “Ephraim’s wickedness is on record.
The record of the people’s sins is safely stored away.
13 They have the opportunity to live again,
but they are not smart enough to take it.
They are like a baby who is about to be born
but won’t come out of its mother’s womb.

14 “I want to free them from the power of the grave.
I want to reclaim them from death.
Death, I want to be a plague to you.
Grave, I want to destroy you.[e]
I won’t even think of changing my plans.”

15 The people of Ephraim have become important among their relatives.
However, the Lord’s scorching wind will come from the east.
It will blow out of the desert.
Then their springs will run dry,
and their wells will dry up.
The wind will destroy every precious thing in their storehouses.[f]
16 The people of Samaria are guilty as charged
because they rebelled against their God.
They will be killed in war,
their children will be smashed to death,
and their pregnant women will be ripped open.

The Lord Offers to Forgive Israel

14 [g]Israel, return to the Lord your God.
You have stumbled because of your sins.
Return to the Lord, and say these things to him:
“Forgive all our sins, and kindly receive us.
Then we’ll praise you with our lips.
Assyria cannot save us.
We won’t ride on horses anymore.
We will never again say
that the things our hands have made are our gods.
You love orphans.”

⌞The Lord says,⌟ “I will cure them of their unfaithfulness.
I will love them freely.
I will no longer be angry with them.
I will be like dew to the people of Israel.
They will blossom like flowers.
They will be firmly rooted like cedars from Lebanon.
They will be like growing branches.
They will be beautiful like olive trees.
They will be fragrant like cedars from Lebanon.
They will live again in God’s shadow.
They will grow like grain.
They will blossom like grapevines.
They will be as famous as the wines from Lebanon.

“The people of Ephraim will have nothing more to do with idols.
I will answer them and take care of them.
I am like a growing pine tree.
Their fruit comes from me.”

Wise people will understand these things.
A person with insight will recognize them.
The Lord’s ways are right.
Righteous people live by them.
Rebellious people stumble over them.


  1. 12:1 Hosea 12:1–14 in English Bibles is Hosea 12:2–15 in the Hebrew Bible.
  2. 12:10 Or “I brought destruction through the prophets.”
  3. 13:3 A threshing floor is an outdoor area where grain is separated from its husks.
  4. 13:5 Greek; Masoretic Text “I knew you.”
  5. 13:14 Or “Death, where is your plague? Grave, where is your destruction?”
  6. 13:15 Hosea 13:16 in English Bibles is Hosea 14:1 in the Hebrew Bible.
  7. 14:1 Hosea 14:1–9 in English Bibles is Hosea 14:2–10 in the Hebrew Bible.