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.
Israel and Judah Will Be Judged
The Lord said:
5 Listen, you priests! Pay attention, Israel![f] Listen, you members of the royal family. Justice was your duty. But[g] at Mizpah and Mount Tabor you trapped the people. 2 At the place of worship you were a treacherous pit,[h] and I will punish you.
3 Israel, I know all about you, and because of your unfaithfulness, I find you unacceptable. 4 Your evil deeds are the reason you won’t return to me, your Lord God. And your constant craving for sex keeps you from knowing me.
5 Israel, your pride testifies to your guilt; it makes you stumble, and Judah stumbles too. 6 You offer sheep and cattle as sacrifices to me, but I have turned away and refuse to be found. 7 You have been unfaithful to me, your Lord; you have had children by prostitutes.[i] So at the New Moon Festival, you and your crops will be destroyed.[j]
The Lord Warns Israel and Judah
8 Give a warning on the trumpet! Let it be heard in Gibeah, Ramah, and sinful Bethel.[k] Benjamin, watch out![l] 9 I, the Lord, will punish and wipe out Israel. This is my solemn promise to every tribe of Israel. 10 Judah’s leaders are like crooks who move boundary markers; that’s why I will flood them with my anger.
11 Israel was brutally crushed. They got what they deserved for worshiping useless idols.[m] 12 Now I, the Lord, will fill Israel with maggots and make Judah rot. 13 When Israel and Judah saw their sickness and wounds, Israel asked help from Assyria and its mighty king.[n]
But the king cannot cure them or heal their wounds. 14 So I’ll become a fierce lion attacking Israel and Judah. I’ll snatch and carry off what I want, and no one can stop me. 15 Then I’ll return to my temple until they confess their guilt and worship me, until they are desperate and beg for my help.
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.
5.7So. . . destroyed: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
5.8sinful Bethel: See the note at 4.15. Gibeah is three miles north of Jerusalem, Ramah is five miles north, and Bethel is eleven miles north. The attack comes from the south, and all the land of Benjamin (belonging to Israel) is in danger.
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