4 Israel, listen as the Lord accuses everyone in the land! No one is faithful or loyal or truly cares about God. 2 Cursing, dishonesty, murder, robbery, unfaithfulness— these happen all the time. Violence is everywhere. 3 And so your land is a desert. Every living creature is dying— people and wild animals, birds and fish.
The Lord Warns the Priests
4 Don’t accuse just anyone! Not everyone is at fault. My case is against you, the priests.[a] 5 You and the prophets will stumble day and night; I’ll silence your mothers. 6 You priests have rejected me, and my people are destroyed by refusing to obey. Now I’ll reject you and forget your children, because you have forgotten my Law.
7 By adding more of you priests, you multiply the number of people who sin. Now I’ll change your pride into shame. 8 You encourage others to sin, so you can stuff yourselves on their sin offerings.
9 That’s why I will punish the people for their deeds, just as I will punish you priests. 10 Their food won’t satisfy, and having sex at pagan shrines won’t produce children. My people have rebelled 11 and have been unfaithful to me, their Lord.
God Condemns Israel’s Idolatry
My people, you are foolish because of too much pleasure and too much wine. 12 You expect wooden idols and other objects of wood to give you advice. Lusting for sex at pagan shrines has made you unfaithful to me, your God. 13 You offer sacrifices on mountaintops and hills, under oak trees, and wherever good shade is found.
Your own daughters and daughters-in-law sell themselves for sex. 14 But I won’t punish them. You men are to blame, because you go to prostitutes and offer sacrifices with them at pagan shrines. Your own foolishness will lead to your ruin. 15 Israel, you are unfaithful, but don’t lead Judah to sin. Stop worshiping at Gilgal or at sinful Bethel.[b] And quit making promises in my name— the name of the living Lord. 16 You are nothing more than a stubborn cow— so stubborn that I, the Lord, cannot feed you like lambs in an open pasture.
17 You people of Israel[c] are charmed by[d] idols. Leave them alone! 18 You get drunk, then sleep with prostitutes; you would rather be vulgar than lead a decent life.[e] 19 And so you will be swept away in a whirlwind for sacrificing to idols.
4.4priests: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 4. Hosea may have had in mind only one priest, possibly the chief priest.
4.15sinful Bethel: The Hebrew text has “Beth-Aven,” which means “house of sin” or “house of nothing,” referring to “Bethel,” which means “house of God.”
4.17Israel: The Hebrew text has “Ephraim,” the leading tribe of the northern kingdom of Israel, which sometimes stands for the whole kingdom.
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