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Chapter 3

If a man divorces his wife(A)
    and she leaves him
    and then becomes the wife of another,
Can she return to the first?[a]
    Would not this land be wholly defiled?
But you have played the prostitute with many lovers,
    and yet you would return to me!—oracle of the Lord.
Raise your eyes to the heights, and look,
    where have men not lain with you?
Along the roadways you waited for them
    like an Arabian[b] in the wilderness.
You defiled the land
    by your wicked prostitution.(B)
Therefore the showers were withheld,
    the spring rain did not fall.
But because you have a prostitute’s brow,
    you refused to be ashamed.(C)
Even now do you not call me, “My father,
    you are the bridegroom of my youth?
Will he keep his wrath forever,
    will he hold his grudge to the end?”
This is what you say; yet you do
    all the evil you can.

Judah and Israel. The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: Do you see what rebellious Israel has done? She has gone up every high mountain, and under every green tree she has played the prostitute.(D) And I thought: After she has done all this, she will return to me. But she did not return. Then, even though that traitor her sister Judah, saw that, in response to all the adulteries rebel Israel had committed, I sent her away and gave her a bill of divorce, nevertheless Judah, the traitor, her sister, was not frightened; she too went off and played the prostitute.(E) With her casual prostitution, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and wood.(F) 10 In spite of all this, Judah, the traitor, her sister, did not return to me wholeheartedly, but insincerely—oracle of the Lord.

Restoration of Israel. 11 Then the Lord said to me: Rebel Israel is more just than traitor Judah.(G) 12 Go, proclaim these words toward the north, and say:

Return, rebel Israel—oracle of the Lord
    I will not remain angry with you;
For I am merciful, oracle of the Lord,
    I will not keep my anger forever.(H)
13 Only admit your guilt:
    how you have rebelled against the Lord, your God,
How you ran here and there to strangers
    under every green tree
    and would not listen to my voice—oracle of the Lord.(I)
14 Return, rebellious children—oracle of the Lord[c]
    for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city, two from a clan,
    and bring you to Zion.(J)
15 I will appoint for you shepherds after my own heart,
    who will shepherd you wisely and prudently.(K)
16 When you increase in number and are fruitful in the land—
    oracle of the Lord
They will in those days no longer say,
    “The ark of the covenant of the Lord!”
They will no longer think of it, or remember it,
    or miss it, or make another one.

17 At that time they will call Jerusalem “the Lord’s throne.” All nations will gather together there to honor the name of the Lord at Jerusalem, and they will no longer stubbornly follow their wicked heart.(L) 18 In those days the house of Judah will walk alongside the house of Israel; together they will come from the land of the north to the land which I gave your ancestors as a heritage.(M)

Conditions for Forgiveness

19 I thought:
    How I would like to make you my children!
So I gave you a pleasant land,
    the most beautiful heritage among the nations!
You would call me, “My Father,” I thought,
    and you would never turn away from me.(N)
20 But like a woman faithless to her lover,
    thus have you been faithless to me,
    house of Israel—oracle of the Lord.(O)
21 A cry is heard on the heights!
    the plaintive weeping of Israel’s children,
Because they have perverted their way,
    they have forgotten the Lord, their God.
22 Return, rebellious children!
    I will heal your rebellions.
“Here we are! We belong to you,
    for you are the Lord, our God.(P)
23 Deceptive indeed are the hills,
    the mountains, clamorous;
Only in the Lord our God
    is Israel’s salvation.(Q)
24 The shameful thing[d] has devoured
    our ancestors’ worth from our youth,
Their sheep and cattle,
    their sons and daughters.
25 Let us lie down in our shame,
    let our disgrace cover us,
    for we have sinned against the Lord, our God,
We and our ancestors, from our youth to this day;
    we did not listen to the voice of the Lord, our God.”(R)


  1. 3:1 Can she return to the first?: i.e., her first husband. Here the Hebrew is emended in light of the Septuagint and Dt 24:1–4, which forbids a man to take back a woman once he has divorced her. The prophet uses this analogy to illustrate the presumption of Judah, the unfaithful wife, who assumes she can easily return to the Lord after worshiping other gods.
  2. 3:2 An Arabian: here depicted as a marauder lying in wait for caravans.
  3. 3:14–18 A remnant of Israel (v. 14) will reunite with Judah (v. 18). The former Israelite community, represented by the ark of the covenant, will be replaced by a universal alliance, symbolized by Jerusalem, the Lord’s throne, to which all nations will be gathered (v. 17).
  4. 3:24 The shameful thing: Heb. bosheth (“shame”), a term often substituted for the name of Baal, a Canaanite god worshiped at local shrines.

“If a man divorces(A) his wife
    and she leaves him and marries another man,
should he return to her again?
    Would not the land be completely defiled?(B)
But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers(C)
    would you now return to me?”(D)
declares the Lord.
“Look up to the barren heights(E) and see.
    Is there any place where you have not been ravished?
By the roadside(F) you sat waiting for lovers,
    sat like a nomad in the desert.
You have defiled the land(G)
    with your prostitution(H) and wickedness.
Therefore the showers have been withheld,(I)
    and no spring rains(J) have fallen.
Yet you have the brazen(K) look of a prostitute;
    you refuse to blush with shame.(L)
Have you not just called to me:
    ‘My Father,(M) my friend from my youth,(N)
will you always be angry?(O)
    Will your wrath continue forever?’
This is how you talk,
    but you do all the evil you can.”

Unfaithful Israel

During the reign of King Josiah,(P) the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what faithless(Q) Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree(R) and has committed adultery(S) there. I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister(T) Judah saw it.(U) I gave faithless Israel(V) her certificate of divorce(W) and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear;(X) she also went out and committed adultery. Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land(Y) and committed adultery(Z) with stone(AA) and wood.(AB) 10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return(AC) to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,(AD)” declares the Lord.(AE)

11 The Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous(AF) than unfaithful(AG) Judah.(AH) 12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north:(AI)

“‘Return,(AJ) faithless(AK) Israel,’ declares the Lord,
    ‘I will frown on you no longer,
for I am faithful,’(AL) declares the Lord,
    ‘I will not be angry(AM) forever.
13 Only acknowledge(AN) your guilt—
    you have rebelled against the Lord your God,
you have scattered your favors to foreign gods(AO)
    under every spreading tree,(AP)
    and have not obeyed(AQ) me,’”
declares the Lord.

14 “Return,(AR) faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband.(AS) I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds(AT) after my own heart,(AU) who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 16 In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,” declares the Lord, “people will no longer say, ‘The ark(AV) of the covenant of the Lord.’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered;(AW) it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne(AX) of the Lord, and all nations(AY) will gather in Jerusalem to honor(AZ) the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.(BA) 18 In those days the people of Judah will join the people of Israel,(BB) and together(BC) they will come from a northern(BD) land to the land(BE) I gave your ancestors as an inheritance.

19 “I myself said,

“‘How gladly would I treat you like my children
    and give you a pleasant land,(BF)
    the most beautiful inheritance(BG) of any nation.’
I thought you would call me ‘Father’(BH)
    and not turn away from following me.
20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband,
    so you, Israel, have been unfaithful(BI) to me,”
declares the Lord.

21 A cry is heard on the barren heights,(BJ)
    the weeping(BK) and pleading of the people of Israel,
because they have perverted their ways
    and have forgotten(BL) the Lord their God.

22 “Return,(BM) faithless people;
    I will cure(BN) you of backsliding.”(BO)

“Yes, we will come to you,
    for you are the Lord our God.
23 Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills(BP)
    and mountains is a deception;
surely in the Lord our God
    is the salvation(BQ) of Israel.
24 From our youth shameful(BR) gods have consumed
    the fruits of our ancestors’ labor—
their flocks and herds,
    their sons and daughters.
25 Let us lie down in our shame,(BS)
    and let our disgrace cover us.
We have sinned(BT) against the Lord our God,
    both we and our ancestors;(BU)
from our youth(BV) till this day
    we have not obeyed(BW) the Lord our God.”