Israel Reaps the Whirlwind
8 Set the trumpet to your lips [announcing impending judgment]!
Like a [great] vulture the enemy comes against the house of the Lord,
Because they have broken My covenant
And transgressed and rebelled against My law.
Then they will cry out to Me,
“My God, we of Israel know You!”
Israel has rejected the good;
The enemy shall pursue him.
They set up kings, but not from Me [therefore without My blessing];
They have appointed princes, but I did not know it.
With their silver and their gold they made idols for themselves,
That they might be cut off.
He has rejected your [pagan] calf, O Samaria, saying,
“My wrath burns against them.”
How long will they be incapable of innocence?
For even this [loathsome calf] is from Israel.
A craftsman made it, so it is not God;
Surely the calf of Samaria will be broken to pieces and go up in flames.
For they sow the wind [in evil]
And they reap the whirlwind [in disaster].
The standing grain has no growth;
It yields no grain.
If it were to yield, strangers would swallow it up.
Israel is [as if] swallowed up [by enemies];
They are now among the nations
Like a vessel [of cheap, coarse pottery] that is useless.
For they have gone up to Assyria,
Like a wild donkey wandering alone and taking her own way;
Ephraim has hired lovers (pagan allies).
Yes, even though [with presents] they hire allies among the nations,
Now I will gather them up;
And [in a little while] they will begin [a]to grow weak and diminish
Because of the burden imposed by the king of princes [the king of Assyria].
For Ephraim has constructed many altars for sin;
They are altars intended for sinning [which multiply his guilt].
I wrote for him the ten thousand precepts of My law,
But they are regarded as a strange thing [which does not concern him].
As for My sacrificial offerings,
They sacrifice the meat [as a mere formality] and eat it,
But the Lord is not pleased with them and does not accept them.
Now He will remember and take into account their wickedness and guilt,
And punish them for their sins.
They will return [in captivity] to [another] Egypt [that is, Assyria].(A)
For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces [and pagan temples],
And Judah has built many fortified cities;
But I will send a fire upon their cities so that it may consume their palaces and fortresses.(B)
9 Do not rejoice, O Israel, with exultation as do the [pagan] peoples,
For you have played the prostitute, turning away from your God.
You have loved prostitutes’ earnings on every threshing floor [attributing the harvest to the Baals instead of to God].
The threshing floor and the wine press will no longer feed them,
And the new wine will fail them [because they failed to honor the God who provides].
They will not remain in the land of the Lord,
But Ephraim will return to [another] Egypt [in bondage]
And they will eat [ceremonially] unclean food in Assyria.(C)
They will not pour out drink offerings of wine to the Lord;
Their sacrifices will not please Him.
Their bread will be like mourners’ bread [eaten at funerals];
All who eat it will be [ceremonially] unclean,
For their bread will be for themselves;
It will not enter the house of the Lord [to be consecrated].
What will you do on the day of the appointed festival
And on the day of the feast of the Lord [when you are in exile]?
For behold, they will go away because of devastation and destruction;
Egypt will gather them up, Memphis will bury them.
Weeds will take over their treasures of silver;
Thorns will grow in their tents.
The days of punishment have come;
The days of retribution are at hand;
Let Israel know this!
The prophet is [considered] a fool;
The man [of God] who is inspired is [treated as if] demented,
Because of the abundance of your wickedness and guilt,
And because your deep antagonism [toward God and the prophets] is so great.(D)
Ephraim was a watchman with my God, a [true] prophet [to warn the nation];
But the snare of a bird catcher was laid in all his paths.
And there is only deep hostility in the house of his God (the land of Israel).
They have deeply corrupted (perverted) themselves
As in the days of Gibeah.
The Lord will remember their wickedness and guilt;
He will punish their sins.(E)
I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness [an unexpected and refreshing delight];
I saw your fathers (ancestors) as the first ripe fruit on the fig tree in its first season,
But they came to Baal-peor and consecrated themselves to shamefulness [the worship of Baal],
And [because of their spiritual and physical adultery] they became as detestable and loathsome as the thing they loved.
As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird;
No birth, no pregnancy, and [because of their impurity] no conception.
Even though they bring up their children,
Yet I will bereave them until not one is left.
Indeed, woe (judgment is coming) to them when I look away and withdraw [My blessing] from them!
Ephraim, as I have seen,
Is planted in a pleasant [and prosperous] meadow like Tyre;
But Ephraim will bring out his children to the executioner [for slaughter].
Give them [the punishment they deserve], O Lord! What will You give?
Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.
All their wickedness [says the Lord] is focused in Gilgal;
Indeed, I came to hate them there!
Because of the wickedness of their [idolatrous] practices
I will drive them out of My house (the land of Israel)!
I will love them no longer;
All their princes are rebels.(F)
Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up,
They will bear no fruit.
Even though they give birth,
I will slay the precious children of their womb.
My God will reject them and cast them away
Because they did not listen to Him;
And they will be wanderers (fugitives) among the nations.
Retribution for Israel’s Sin
10 Israel is a luxuriant and prolific vine;
He produces fruit for himself.
The more his fruit,
The more altars he made [to Baal];
The richer his land,
The better he made the [idolatrous] pillars.
Their heart is divided (faithless);
Now they must bear their guilt and punishment.
The Lord will break down [the horns of] their altars;
He will destroy their idolatrous pillars.
Surely now they will say [in despair], “We have no [true] king,
For we do not revere the Lord;
And as for the king, what can he do for us [to rescue us]?”
They have spoken empty (disingenuous) words,
Swearing falsely to make covenants [they intend to break];
Therefore, judgment springs up like poisonous weeds in the furrows of the field.
The people of Samaria will fear and tremble
For the [idolatrous] calf of [b]Beth-aven (House of Wickedness).
Indeed, its people will mourn over it
And its idolatrous priests will cry out and wail over it,
Over its glory, because the glory [of their calf god] has departed from it.
The golden calf itself will be carried to Assyria
As tribute to King Jareb;
Ephraim will be seized with shame
And Israel will be ashamed of his own counsel [to worship the calf and separate Israel from Judah].
As for Samaria, her king will be cut off and float away
Like a twig on the surface of the water.
Also the high places of Aven (Beth-aven), the sin of Israel, will be destroyed;
The thorn and the thistle will grow on their [pagan] altars,
And [in despair] they will say to the mountains,
“Cover us!” And to the hills, “Fall on us!”(G)
O Israel, you have [willfully] sinned since the days of Gibeah;
There they (Israel) stand!
Will not the battle against the sons of wickedness overtake them at Gibeah?(H)
When it is my desire [to defend My righteousness], I will chastise them;
And [hostile] peoples will be gathered against them
When they are bound and punished for their double guilt [their revolt against the Lord and their worship of idols].(I)
Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to tread out the grain,
But I will come over her fair neck with a heavy yoke [for hard field work].
I will harness Ephraim;
Judah will plow and Jacob will harrow and rake for himself.
Sow with a view to righteousness [that righteousness, like seed, may germinate];
Reap in accordance with mercy and lovingkindness.
Break up your uncultivated ground,
For it is time to seek and search diligently for the Lord [and to long for His blessing]
Until He comes to rain righteousness and His gift of salvation on you.(J)
You have plowed and planted wickedness, you have reaped the [willful] injustice [of oppressors],
You have eaten the fruit of lies.
Because you have trusted in your own way and your chariots, and in your many warriors,
Therefore an uproar will arise among your people,
And all your fortresses will be destroyed,
As Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle,
When mothers were dashed in pieces with their children.(K)
In this way it will be done to you at [idolatrous] Bethel because of your great wickedness;
At daybreak the king of Israel will be completely cut off.
God is the Loving Father of His People
11 When Israel was a child [a young nation], I loved him,
And I called My son out of Egypt.(L)
The more they [the prophets] called them [to repentance and obedience],
The more they went away from them;
They kept sacrificing to the Baals
And burning incense to the carved images.
Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them in My arms [nurturing the young nation];
But they did not know that I healed them.
I led them gently with cords of a man, with bonds of love [guiding them],
And I was to them as one who lifts up and eases the yoke [of the law] over their jaws;
And I bent down to them and fed them.
They will not return to the land of Egypt,
But Assyria will be their king [bringing them into captivity]
Because they refused to return to Me.
The sword will whirl against and fall on their cities,
And will demolish the bars of their gates and fortifications
And will consume them because of their counsels.
My people are bent on turning from Me;
Though the prophets call them to the One on high,
None at all exalts Him.
How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I surrender you, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like [c]Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within Me;
All My compassions are kindled together [for My nation of Israel].(M)
I will not execute the fierceness of My anger;
I will not return to Ephraim to destroy him again.
For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst [who will not revoke My covenant],
And I will not come in wrath or enter the city [in judgment].
They will walk after the Lord [in obedience and worship],
Who will roar like a lion;
He will roar [summoning them]
And His sons will come trembling from the west.
They will come trembling and hurriedly like birds from Egypt
And like doves from the land of Assyria;
And I will settle them in their houses [in the land of their inheritance], declares the Lord.
Ephraim surrounds Me with lies
And the house of Israel with deceit;
Judah is also unruly against God,
Even against the faithful Holy One.
12 Ephraim feeds on the [emptiness of the] wind
And [continually] pursues the [parching] east wind [which brings destruction];
Every day he multiplies lies and violence.
Further, he makes a covenant with Assyria
And (olive) oil is carried to Egypt [to seek alliances].(N)
The Lord also has a dispute [a legal complaint and an indictment] with Judah,
And He will punish Jacob in accordance with his ways;
He will repay him in accordance with his deeds.
In their mother’s womb he took his brother by the heel,
And in his maturity he contended with God.(O)
He wrestled with the angel and prevailed;
He wept [in repentance] and sought His favor.
He met Him at Bethel
And there God spoke with [him and through him with] us—(P)
Even the Lord, the God of hosts,
The name of Him [who spoke with Jacob] is the Lord.
Therefore, return [in repentance] to your God,
Observe and highly regard kindness and justice,
And wait [expectantly] for your God continually.
A merchant, in whose hand are false and fraudulent balances;
He loves to oppress and exploit.
Ephraim said, “I have indeed become rich [and powerful as a nation];
I have found wealth for myself.
In all my labors they will not find in me
Any wickedness that would be sin.”(Q)
But I have been the Lord your God since [you became a nation in] the land of Egypt;
I will make you live in tents again,
As in the days of the appointed and solemn [d]festival.(R)
I have also spoken to [you through] the prophets,
And I gave [them] many visions [to make My will known],
And through the prophets I gave parables [to appeal to your sense of right and wrong].
Is there wickedness (idolatry) in Gilead?
Surely the people there are worthless.
In Gilgal [they defy Me when] they sacrifice bulls,
Yes, [after My judgment] their [pagan] altars are like the stone heaps
In the furrows of the fields.
Now Jacob (Israel) fled into the open country of Aram (Paddan-aram),(S)
And [there] Israel (Jacob) worked and served for a wife,
And for a wife he kept sheep.(T)
And by a prophet (Moses) the Lord brought Israel up from Egypt,
And by a prophet Israel was preserved.
Ephraim has provoked most bitter anger;
So his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him [invoking punishment]
And bring back to him his shame and dishonor.
13 When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling and terror.
He exalted himself [above the other tribes] in Israel;
But through [the worship of] Baal he became guilty and died [spiritually, and then came ruin, sealing Israel’s doom as a nation].
And now they sin more and more,
And make for themselves molten images,
Idols skillfully made from their silver [as it pleased them],
All of them the work of the craftsmen.
They say of these [very works of their hands], “Let those who sacrifice kiss and show respect to the calves [as if they were living gods]!”
Therefore they will be [swiftly dissipated] like the morning cloud
Or like dew which soon disappears,
Like chaff which swirls with the whirlwind from the threshing floor,
And like smoke from the chimney or through the window [worthless and without substance —they will vanish].
Yet I have been the Lord your God
Since [the time you became a nation in] the land of Egypt;
And you were not to know any god except Me,
For there is no savior besides Me.
I knew and regarded you and cared for you in the wilderness,
In the land of drought.
When they had their pasture, they became satisfied,
And being satisfied, their heart became proud (self-centered);
Therefore they forgot Me.
So I will be like a lion to them;
Like a leopard I will watch and lie in wait [ready to attack] by the road [to Assyria].
I will encounter them like a bear robbed of her cubs,
And I will tear open their chests;
There I will also devour them like a lioness,
As a wild beast would tear them.
It is your destruction, O Israel,
Because you are against Me, [and have rebelled] against your help.
Where now is your king
That he may save you [when you are attacked] in all your cities?
And your judges of whom you asked,
“Give me a king and princes”?
I gave you a king in My anger,
And I took him away in My wrath [as punishment].
The wickedness of Ephraim [which is not yet completely punished] is bound up [as in a bag];
His sin is stored up [for judgment and destruction].
The pains of childbirth come on him;
But he is not a wise son,
For it is not the time to delay [his chance at a new birth] as the womb opens [but he ignores the opportunity to change].
Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol (the place of the dead)?
Shall I redeem them from death?
[e]O death, where are your thorns?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from My eyes [because of their failure to repent].(U)
For though he flourishes among the reeds (his fellow tribes),
An east wind (Assyria) will come,
The breath of the Lord rising from the desert;
And Ephraim’s spring will become dry
And his fountain will be dried up.
Assyria will plunder his treasury of every precious object.
Samaria will be found guilty [and become desolate],
Because she rebelled against her God;
They will fall by the sword,
Their infants will be dashed in pieces,
And their pregnant women will be ripped open.
Israel’s Future Blessing
14 O Israel, return [in repentance] to the Lord your God,
For you have stumbled and fallen [visited by tragedy], because of your sin.
Take the words [confessing your guilt] with you and return to the Lord.
Say to Him, “Take away all our wickedness;
Accept what is good and receive us graciously,
So that we may present the fruit of our lips (gratitude).(V)
“Assyria will not save us;
We will not ride on horses [relying on military might],
Nor will we say again to [the idols who are] the work of our hands,
‘You are our gods.’
For in You [O Lord] the orphan finds love and compassion and mercy.”
I will heal their apostasy and faithlessness;
I will love them freely,
For My anger has turned away from Israel.
I shall be like the dew to Israel;
He will blossom like the lily,
And he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon.
His shoots will sprout,
And his beauty will be like the olive tree
And his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.
Those who live in his shadow
Will again raise grain,
And they will blossom like the vine.
His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon.
O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
It is I who have answered and will care for you and watch over you.
I am like a luxuriant cypress tree;
With Me your fruit is found [which is to nourish you].
Whoever is [spiritually] wise, let him understand these things;
Whoever is [spiritually] discerning and understanding, let him know them.
For the ways of the Lord are right,
And the righteous will walk in them,
But transgressors will stumble and fall in them.(W)
- Hosea 8:10 Lit to be small.
- Hosea 10:5 Jeroboam was the king who established the worship of the golden calf at Bethel (House of God), later known as Beth-aven (1 Kin 12:28-33).
- Hosea 11:8 The cities totally destroyed with Sodom.
- Hosea 12:9 I.e. the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles).
- Hosea 13:14 The apostle Paul brings this passage to mind—but with a change of meaning made possible by the resurrection of Christ.