6 Let’s return to the Lord. He has torn us to shreds, but he will bandage our wounds and make us well. 2 In two or three days he will heal us and restore our strength that we may live with him. 3 Let’s do our best to know the Lord. His coming is as certain as the morning sun; he will refresh us like rain renewing the earth in the springtime.
The Lord Speaks to Israel and Judah
4 People of Israel and Judah, what can I do with you? Your love for me disappears more quickly than mist or dew at sunrise. 5 That’s why I slaughtered you with the words of my prophets. That’s why my judgments blazed like the dawning sun.[a] 6 I’d rather for you to be faithful and to know me than to offer sacrifices.
7 At a place named Adam, you[b] betrayed me by breaking our agreement. 8 Everyone in Gilead is evil; your hands are stained with the blood of victims.[c] 9 You priests are like a gang of robbers in ambush.[d] On the road to Shechem[e] you murder and commit other horrible crimes. 10 I have seen a terrible thing in Israel— you are unfaithful and unfit to worship me. 11 People of Judah, your time is coming too.
The Lord Wants To Help Israel
I, the Lord, would like to make my nation prosper again 7 and to heal its wounds. But then I see the crimes in Israel[f] and Samaria. Everyone is deceitful; robbers roam the streets. 2 No one realizes that I have seen their sins surround them like a flood.
3 The king and his officials take great pleasure in their sin and deceit. 4 Everyone burns with desire— they are like coals in an oven, ready to burst into flames. 5 On the day their king was crowned, his officials got him drunk, and he joined in their foolishness.[g]
6 Their anger is a fire that smolders all night, then flares up at dawn. 7 They are flames destroying their leaders. And their kings are powerless; none of them trust me.
8 The people of Israel[h] have mixed with foreigners; they are a thin piece of bread scorched on one side. 9 They don’t seem to realize how weak and feeble they are; their hair has turned gray, while foreigners rule. 10 I am the Lord, their God, but in all of their troubles their pride keeps them from returning to me.
No Help from Foreign Nations
The Lord said:
11 Israel[i] is a senseless bird, fluttering back and forth between Egypt and Assyria. 12 But I will catch them in a net as hunters trap birds; I threatened to punish them, and indeed I will.[j] 13 Trouble and destruction will be their reward for rejecting me. I would have rescued them, but they told me lies.
14 They don’t really pray to me; they just howl in their beds. They have rejected me for Baal and slashed themselves,[k] in the hope that Baal will bless their crops. 15 I taught them what they know, and I made them strong. Now they plot against me 16 and refuse to obey.[l] They are more useless than a crooked arrow. Their leaders will die in war for saying foolish things. Egyptians will laugh at them.
Israel Rejects the Lord
The Lord said:
8 Sound a warning! Israel, you broke our agreement and ignored my teaching. Now an eagle is swooping down to attack my land. 2 Israel, you say, “We claim you, the Lord, as our God.” 3 But your enemies will chase you for rejecting our good agreement.[m]
4 You chose kings and leaders without consulting me; you made silver and gold idols that led to your downfall. 5 City of Samaria, I’m angry because of your idol in the shape of a calf. When will you ever be innocent again? 6 Someone from Israel built that idol for you, but only I am God. And so it will be smashed to pieces.[n]
7 If you scatter wind instead of wheat, you will harvest a whirlwind and have no wheat. Even if you harvest grain, enemies will steal it all.
8 Israel, you are ruined, and now the nations consider you worthless. 9 You are like a wild donkey that goes its own way. You’ve run off to Assyria and hired them as allies. 10 You can bargain with nations, but I’ll catch you anyway. Soon you will suffer abuse by kings and rulers.
11 Israel, you have built many altars where you offer sacrifices for sin. But these altars have become places for sin. 12 My instructions for sacrifices were written in detail, but you ignored them. 13 You sacrifice your best animals and eat the sacrificial meals,[o] but I, the Lord, refuse your offerings. I will remember your sins and punish you. Then you will return to Egypt.[p]
14 Israel, I created you, but you forgot me. You and Judah built palaces and many strong cities.[q] Now I will send fire to destroy your towns and fortresses.
Israel Will Be Punished
9 Israel, don’t celebrate or make noisy shouts[r] like other nations. You have been unfaithful to your God. Wherever grain is threshed, you behave like prostitutes because you enjoy the money you receive.[s] 2 But you will run short of grain and wine, 3 and you will have to leave the land of the Lord. Some of you will go to Egypt; others will go to Assyria and eat unclean food.
4 You won’t be able to offer sacrifices of wine to the Lord. None of your sacrifices will please him— they will be unclean like food offered to the dead. Your food will only be used to satisfy your hunger; none of it will be brought to the Lord’s temple. 5 You will no longer be able to celebrate the festival of the Lord.[t] 6 Even if you escape alive, you will end up in Egypt and be buried in Memphis.[u] Your silver treasures will be lost among weeds;[v] thorns will sprout in your tents.
7 Israel, the time has come. You will get what you deserve, and you will know it. “Prophets are fools,” you say. “And God’s messengers are crazy.” Your terrible guilt has filled you with hatred.
8 Israel, the Lord sent me to look after you.[w] But you trap his prophets and flood his temple with your hatred. 9 You are brutal and corrupt, as were the men of Gibeah.[x] But God remembers your sin, and you will be punished.
Sin’s Terrible Results
10 Israel, when I, the Lord, found you long ago it was like finding grapes in a barren desert or tender young figs. Then you worshiped Baal Peor, that disgusting idol, and you became as disgusting as the idol you loved.
11 And so, Israel, your glory will fly away like birds— your women will no longer be able to give birth. 12 Even if you do have children, I will take them all and leave you to mourn. I will turn away, and you will sink down in deep trouble. 13 Israel, when I first met you, I thought of you as palm trees growing in fertile ground.[y] Now you lead your people out, only to be slaughtered.
14 Our Lord, do just one thing for your people— make their women unable to have children or to nurse their babies.
The Lord’s Judgment on Israel
15 Israel, I first began to hate you because you did evil at Gilgal.[z] Now I will chase you out of my house. No longer will I love you; your leaders betrayed me. 16 Israel, you are a vine with dried-up roots and fruitless branches. Even if you had more children and loved them dearly, I would slaughter them all.
Hosea Warns Israel
17 Israel, you disobeyed my God. Now he will force you to roam from nation to nation.
6.5That’s why my. . . sun: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
6.7At. . . you: Or “Like Adam, you” or “Each one of you.”
6.8your hands. . . victims: This may refer to child sacrifice.
6.9You. . . ambush: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
6.9Shechem: This was one of the towns where people could run for safety, if they had accidentally killed someone (see Joshua 20.1-9).
7.1Israel: See the note at 4.17. Samaria was the capital city of Israel.
7.5foolishness: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 5.
7.8,11Israel: Hebrew “Ephraim” (see the note at 4.17).
7.8,11Israel: Hebrew “Ephraim” (see the note at 4.17).
7.12I threatened. . . will: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
7.14slashed themselves: One ancient translation and some Hebrew manuscripts; other Hebrew manuscripts “gather together.” Slashing themselves was one way of worshiping Baal (see 1 Kings 18.28).
7.16and. . . obey: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
8.3our good agreement: Or “me, the Good One” (referring to God).
8.13sacrifice. . . sacrificial meals: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. Two kinds of sacrifices are referred to: Those in which the whole animal is burned on the altar (“whole burnt offerings” in traditional translations) and those in which part is eaten by the worshipers (“fellowship offerings” in traditional translations).
8.13return to Egypt: Either as slaves or to find help against Assyria.
8.14built palaces. . . cities: They did this because they no longer trusted the Lord to protect them. “Palaces” may also mean “temples.”
9.1or. . . shouts: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
9.1Wherever. . . receive: Grain was threshed on hills or other places where the wind could blow away the husks. People also met at these places to worship Baal, the god they thought had given them the grain harvest.
9.5festival of the Lord: Probably the Festival of Shelters.
9.6Memphis: An Egyptian city with a famous cemetery.
9.6Your silver. . . weeds: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
9.8Israel. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
9.9the men of Gibeah: They raped and murdered a woman (see Judges 19).
9.13Israel, when. . . ground: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
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