5 “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. 2 You have dug a deep pit to trap them at Acacia Grove.[a] But I will settle with you for what you have done. 3 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. 4 Your deeds won’t let you return to your God. You are a prostitute through and through, and you do not know the Lord.
5 “The arrogance of Israel testifies against her; Israel and Ephraim will stumble under their load of guilt. Judah, too, will fall with them. 6 When they come with their flocks and herds to offer sacrifices to the Lord, they will not find him, because he has withdrawn from them. 7 They have betrayed the honor of the Lord, bearing children that are not his.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.[b]
8 “Sound the alarm in Gibeah! Blow the trumpet in Ramah! Raise the battle cry in Beth-aven[c]! Lead on into battle, O warriors of Benjamin! 9 One thing is certain, Israel[d]: On your day of punishment, you will become a heap of rubble.
10 “The leaders of Judah have become like thieves.[e] 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.[f] 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
6 “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. 2 In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. 3 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.”
4 “O Israel[g] 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. 5 I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces— to slaughter you with my words, with judgments as inescapable as light. 6 I want you to show love,[h] not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me[i] more than I want burnt offerings. 7 But like Adam,[j] you broke my covenant and betrayed my trust.
8 “Gilead is a city of sinners, tracked with footprints of blood. 9 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
7 “I want to heal Israel, but its[k] sins are too great. Samaria is filled with liars. Thieves are on the inside and bandits on the outside! 2 Its people don’t realize that I am watching them. Their sinful deeds are all around them, and I see them all.
3 “The people entertain the king with their wickedness, and the princes laugh at their lies. 4 They are all adulterers, always aflame with lust. They are like an oven that is kept hot while the baker is kneading the dough. 5 On royal holidays, the princes get drunk with wine, carousing with those who mock them. 6 Their hearts are like an oven blazing with intrigue. Their plot smolders[l] through the night, and in the morning it breaks out like a raging fire. 7 Burning like an oven, they consume their leaders. They kill their kings one after another, and no one cries to me for help.
8 “The people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, making themselves as worthless as a half-baked cake! 9 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.[m]
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,[n] 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
8 “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. 2 Now Israel pleads with me, ‘Help us, for you are our God!’ 3 But it is too late. The people of Israel have rejected what is good, and now their enemies will chase after them. 4 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.
5 “O Samaria, I reject this calf— this idol you have made. My fury burns against you. How long will you be incapable of innocence? 6 This calf you worship, O Israel, was crafted by your own hands! It is not God! Therefore, it must be smashed to bits.
7 “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. 8 The people of Israel have been swallowed up; they lie among the nations like an old discarded pot. 9 Like a wild donkey looking for a mate, they have gone up to Assyria. The people of Israel[o] 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.”
5:2Hebrew at Shittim. The meaning of the Hebrew for this sentence is uncertain.
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