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The Lord’s Love for Unfaithful Israel

14 “But then I will win her back once again.
    I will lead her into the desert
    and speak tenderly to her there.
15 I will return her vineyards to her
    and transform the Valley of Trouble[a] into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
    as she did long ago when she was young,
    when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
16 When that day comes,” says the Lord,
    “you will call me ‘my husband’
    instead of ‘my master.’[b]
17 O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips,
    and you will never mention them again.
18 On that day I will make a covenant
    with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky
and the animals that scurry along the ground
    so they will not harm you.
I will remove all weapons of war from the land,
    all swords and bows,
so you can live unafraid
    in peace and safety.
19 I will make you my wife forever,
    showing you righteousness and justice,
    unfailing love and compassion.
20 I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
    and you will finally know me as the Lord.

21 “In that day, I will answer,”
    says the Lord.
“I will answer the sky as it pleads for clouds.
    And the sky will answer the earth with rain.
22 Then the earth will answer the thirsty cries
    of the grain, the grapevines, and the olive trees.
And they in turn will answer,
    ‘Jezreel’—‘God plants!’
23 At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites
    and raise them for myself.
I will show love
    to those I called ‘Not loved.’[c]
And to those I called ‘Not my people,’[d]
    I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’
And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’”

Hosea’s Wife Is Redeemed

Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she[e] commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.[f]

So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver[g] and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine.[h] Then I said to her, “You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution. During this time, you will not have sexual relations with anyone, not even with me.[i]

This shows that Israel will go a long time without a king or prince, and without sacrifices, sacred pillars, priests,[j] or even idols! But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the Lord their God and to David’s descendant, their king.[k] In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the Lord and of his goodness.

The Lord’s Case against Israel

Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel!
    The Lord has brought charges against you, saying:
“There is no faithfulness, no kindness,
    no knowledge of God in your land.
You make vows and break them;
    you kill and steal and commit adultery.
There is violence everywhere—
    one murder after another.
That is why your land is in mourning,
    and everyone is wasting away.
Even the wild animals, the birds of the sky,
    and the fish of the sea are disappearing.

“Don’t point your finger at someone else
    and try to pass the blame!
My complaint, you priests,
    is with you.[l]
So you will stumble in broad daylight,
    and your false prophets will fall with you in the night.
    And I will destroy Israel, your mother.
My people are being destroyed
    because they don’t know me.
Since you priests refuse to know me,
    I refuse to recognize you as my priests.
Since you have forgotten the laws of your God,
    I will forget to bless your children.
The more priests there are,
    the more they sin against me.
They have exchanged the glory of God
    for the shame of idols.[m]

“When the people bring their sin offerings, the priests get fed.
    So the priests are glad when the people sin!
‘And what the priests do, the people also do.’
    So now I will punish both priests and people
    for their wicked deeds.
10 They will eat and still be hungry.
    They will play the prostitute and gain nothing from it,
for they have deserted the Lord
11     to worship other gods.

“Wine has robbed my people
    of their understanding.
12 They ask a piece of wood for advice!
    They think a stick can tell them the future!
Longing after idols
    has made them foolish.
They have played the prostitute,
    serving other gods and deserting their God.
13 They offer sacrifices to idols on the mountaintops.
    They go up into the hills to burn incense
    in the pleasant shade of oaks, poplars, and terebinth trees.

“That is why your daughters turn to prostitution,
    and your daughters-in-law commit adultery.
14 But why should I punish them
    for their prostitution and adultery?
For your men are doing the same thing,
    sinning with whores and shrine prostitutes.
O foolish people! You refuse to understand,
    so you will be destroyed.

15 “Though you, Israel, are a prostitute,
    may Judah not be guilty of such things.
Do not join the false worship at Gilgal or Beth-aven,[n]
    and do not take oaths there in the Lord’s name.
16 Israel is stubborn,
    like a stubborn heifer.
So should the Lord feed her
    like a lamb in a lush pasture?
17 Leave Israel[o] alone,
    because she is married to idolatry.
18 When the rulers of Israel finish their drinking,
    off they go to find some prostitutes.
    They love shame more than honor.[p]
19 So a mighty wind will sweep them away.
    Their sacrifices to idols will bring them shame.

The Failure of Israel’s Leaders

“Hear this, you priests.
    Pay attention, you leaders of Israel.
Listen, you members of the royal family.
    Judgment has been handed down against you.
For you have led the people into a snare
    by worshiping the idols at Mizpah and Tabor.
You have dug a deep pit to trap them at Acacia Grove.[q]
    But I will settle with you for what you have done.
I know what you are like, O Ephraim.
    You cannot hide yourself from me, O Israel.
You have left me as a prostitute leaves her husband;
    you are utterly defiled.
Your deeds won’t let you return to your God.
    You are a prostitute through and through,
    and you do not know the Lord.

“The arrogance of Israel testifies against her;
    Israel and Ephraim will stumble under their load of guilt.
    Judah, too, will fall with them.
When they come with their flocks and herds
    to offer sacrifices to the Lord,
they will not find him,
    because he has withdrawn from them.
They have betrayed the honor of the Lord,
    bearing children that are not his.
Now their false religion will devour them
    along with their wealth.[r]

“Sound the alarm in Gibeah!
    Blow the trumpet in Ramah!
Raise the battle cry in Beth-aven[s]!
    Lead on into battle, O warriors of Benjamin!
One thing is certain, Israel[t]:
    On your day of punishment,
    you will become a heap of rubble.

10 “The leaders of Judah have become like thieves.[u]
    So I will pour my anger on them like a waterfall.
11 The people of Israel will be crushed and broken by my judgment
    because they are determined to worship idols.[v]
12 I will destroy Israel as a moth consumes wool.
    I will make Judah as weak as rotten wood.

13 “When Israel and Judah saw how sick they were,
    Israel turned to Assyria—
to the great king there—
    but he could neither help nor cure them.
14 I will be like a lion to Israel,
    like a strong young lion to Judah.
    I will tear them to pieces!
I will carry them off,
    and no one will be left to rescue them.
15 Then I will return to my place
    until they admit their guilt and turn to me.
For as soon as trouble comes,
    they will earnestly search for me.”

A Call to Repentance

“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces;
    now he will heal us.
He has injured us;
    now he will bandage our wounds.
In just a short time he will restore us,
    so that we may live in his presence.
Oh, that we might know the Lord!
    Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
    or the coming of rains in early spring.”

“O Israel[w] and Judah,
    what should I do with you?” asks the Lord.
“For your love vanishes like the morning mist
    and disappears like dew in the sunlight.
I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces—
    to slaughter you with my words,
    with judgments as inescapable as light.
I want you to show love,[x]
    not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me[y]
    more than I want burnt offerings.
But like Adam,[z] you broke my covenant
    and betrayed my trust.

“Gilead is a city of sinners,
    tracked with footprints of blood.
Priests form bands of robbers,
    waiting in ambush for their victims.
They murder travelers along the road to Shechem
    and practice every kind of sin.
10 Yes, I have seen something horrible in Ephraim and Israel:
    My people are defiled by prostituting themselves with other gods!

11 “O Judah, a harvest of punishment is also waiting for you,
    though I wanted to restore the fortunes of my people.

Israel’s Love for Wickedness

“I want to heal Israel, but its[aa] sins are too great.
    Samaria is filled with liars.
Thieves are on the inside
    and bandits on the outside!
Its people don’t realize
    that I am watching them.
Their sinful deeds are all around them,
    and I see them all.

“The people entertain the king with their wickedness,
    and the princes laugh at their lies.
They are all adulterers,
    always aflame with lust.
They are like an oven that is kept hot
    while the baker is kneading the dough.
On royal holidays, the princes get drunk with wine,
    carousing with those who mock them.
Their hearts are like an oven
    blazing with intrigue.
Their plot smolders[ab] through the night,
    and in the morning it breaks out like a raging fire.
Burning like an oven,
    they consume their leaders.
They kill their kings one after another,
    and no one cries to me for help.

“The people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners,
    making themselves as worthless as a half-baked cake!
Worshiping foreign gods has sapped their strength,
    but they don’t even know it.
Their hair is gray,
    but they don’t realize they’re old and weak.
10 Their arrogance testifies against them,
    yet they don’t return to the Lord their God
    or even try to find him.

11 “The people of Israel have become like silly, witless doves,
    first calling to Egypt, then flying to Assyria for help.
12 But as they fly about,
    I will throw my net over them
and bring them down like a bird from the sky.
    I will punish them for all the evil they do.[ac]

13 “What sorrow awaits those who have deserted me!
    Let them die, for they have rebelled against me.
I wanted to redeem them,
    but they have told lies about me.
14 They do not cry out to me with sincere hearts.
    Instead, they sit on their couches and wail.
They cut themselves,[ad] begging foreign gods for grain and new wine,
    and they turn away from me.
15 I trained them and made them strong,
    yet now they plot evil against me.
16 They look everywhere except to the Most High.
    They are as useless as a crooked bow.
Their leaders will be killed by their enemies
    because of their insolence toward me.
Then the people of Egypt
    will laugh at them.

Israel Harvests the Whirlwind

“Sound the alarm!
    The enemy descends like an eagle on the people of the Lord,
for they have broken my covenant
    and revolted against my law.
Now Israel pleads with me,
    ‘Help us, for you are our God!’
But it is too late.
The people of Israel have rejected what is good,
    and now their enemies will chase after them.
The people have appointed kings without my consent,
    and princes without my approval.
By making idols for themselves from their silver and gold,
    they have brought about their own destruction.

“O Samaria, I reject this calf—
    this idol you have made.
My fury burns against you.
    How long will you be incapable of innocence?
This calf you worship, O Israel,
    was crafted by your own hands!
It is not God!
    Therefore, it must be smashed to bits.

“They have planted the wind
    and will harvest the whirlwind.
The stalks of grain wither
    and produce nothing to eat.
And even if there is any grain,
    foreigners will eat it.
The people of Israel have been swallowed up;
    they lie among the nations like an old discarded pot.
Like a wild donkey looking for a mate,
    they have gone up to Assyria.
The people of Israel[ae] have sold themselves—
    sold themselves to many lovers.
10 But though they have sold themselves to many allies,
    I will now gather them together for judgment.
Then they will writhe
    under the burden of the great king.

11 “Israel has built many altars to take away sin,
    but these very altars became places for sinning!
12 Even though I gave them all my laws,
    they act as if those laws don’t apply to them.
13 The people love to offer sacrifices to me,
    feasting on the meat,
    but I do not accept their sacrifices.
I will hold my people accountable for their sins,
    and I will punish them.
    They will return to Egypt.
14 Israel has forgotten its Maker and built great palaces,
    and Judah has fortified its cities.
Therefore, I will send down fire on their cities
    and will burn up their fortresses.”

Footnotes

  1. 2:15 Hebrew valley of Achor.
  2. 2:16 Hebrew ‘my baal.’
  3. 2:23a Hebrew Lo-ruhamah; see 1:6.
  4. 2:23b Hebrew Lo-ammi; see 1:9.
  5. 3:1a Or Go and love a woman who.
  6. 3:1b Hebrew love their raisin cakes.
  7. 3:2a Hebrew 15 [shekels] of silver, about 6 ounces or 171 grams in weight.
  8. 3:2b As in Greek version, which reads a homer of barley and a wineskin full of wine; Hebrew reads a homer [5 bushels or 220 liters] of barley and a lethek [2.5 bushels or 110 liters] of barley.
  9. 3:3 Or and I will live with you.
  10. 3:4 Hebrew ephod, the vest worn by the priest.
  11. 3:5 Hebrew to David their king.
  12. 4:4 Hebrew Your people are like those with a complaint against the priests.
  13. 4:7 As in Syriac version and an ancient Hebrew tradition; Masoretic Text reads I will turn their glory into shame.
  14. 4:15 Beth-aven means “house of wickedness”; it is being used as another name for Bethel, which means “house of God.”
  15. 4:17 Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel.
  16. 4:18 As in Greek version; the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  17. 5:2 Hebrew at Shittim. The meaning of the Hebrew for this sentence is uncertain.
  18. 5:7 The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  19. 5:8 Beth-aven means “house of wickedness”; it is being used as another name for Bethel, which means “house of God.”
  20. 5:9 Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel; also in 5:11, 12, 13, 14.
  21. 5:10 Hebrew like those who move a boundary marker.
  22. 5:11 Or determined to follow human commands. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  23. 6:4 Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel.
  24. 6:6a Greek version translates this Hebrew term as to show mercy. Compare Matt 9:13; 12:7.
  25. 6:6b Hebrew to know God.
  26. 6:7 Or But at Adam.
  27. 7:1 Hebrew Ephraim’s, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel; similarly in 7:8, 11.
  28. 7:6 Hebrew Their baker sleeps.
  29. 7:12 Hebrew I will punish them because of what was reported against them in the assembly.
  30. 7:14 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads They gather together.
  31. 8:9 Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel; also in 8:11.

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