13 When the tribe of Ephraim spoke, the other tribes trembled with fear. Ephraim was honored in Israel. But its people sinned by worshiping Baal. So they were as good as dead. 2 Now they sin more and more. They use their silver to make statues of gods for themselves. The statues come from their own clever ideas. Skilled workers make all of them. The people pray to these gods. They offer human sacrifices to them. They kiss the gods that look like calves. 3 So these people will vanish like the morning mist. They will soon disappear like the early dew. They will be like straw that the wind blows around on a threshing floor. They will be like smoke that escapes through a window.
4 The Lord says,
“People of Israel, I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt. You must not worship any god but me. You must not have any savior except me. 5 I took care of you in the desert. It was a land of burning heat. 6 I fed them until they were satisfied. Then they became proud. They forgot all about me. 7 So I will leap on them like a lion. I will hide and wait beside the road like a leopard. 8 I will attack them like a bear that is robbed of her cubs. I will rip them wide open. Like a lion I will eat them up. Like a wild animal I will tear them apart.
9 “Israel, you will be destroyed. I helped you. But you turned against me. 10 Where is your king? Wasn’t he supposed to save you? Where are the rulers in all your towns? You said, ‘Give us a king and princes.’ 11 So I became angry and gave you a king. Then I took him away from you. 12 Ephraim’s guilt is piling up. I am keeping a record of all their sins. 13 They will suffer pain like a woman having a baby. They are like foolish children. It is time for them to be born. But they don’t have the sense to come out of their mother’s body.
14 “I will set these people free from the power of the grave. I will save them from death. Death, where are your plagues? Grave, where is your power to destroy?
“I will no longer pity Ephraim. 15 Even though they are doing well among the other tribes, trouble will come to them. I will send a hot and dry wind from the east. It will blow in from the desert. Their springs will not have any water. Their wells will dry up. All their treasures will be taken out of their storerooms. 16 The people of Samaria must pay for their sins. They have refused to obey me. They will be killed by swords. Their little children will be smashed on the ground. Their pregnant women will be ripped wide open.”
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