“·The Israelites will become captives again, as they were in [or Will they not return to…? or They will not return to] Egypt, and ·Assyria will [or will not Assyria…?] become their king, because they refuse to turn back to God.
“When Israel was only a child, I loved him. I called out, ‘My son!’—called him out of Egypt. But when others called him, he ran off and left me. He worshiped the popular sex gods, he played at religion with toy gods. Still, I stuck with him. I led Ephraim. I rescued him from human bondage, But he never acknowledged my help, never admitted that I was the one pulling his wagon, That I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek, that I bent down to feed him. Now he wants to go back to Egypt or go over to Assyria— anything but return to me! That’s why his cities are unsafe—the murder rate skyrockets and every plan to improve things falls to pieces. My people are hell-bent on leaving me. They pray to god Baal for help. He doesn’t lift a finger to help them. But how can I give up on you, Ephraim? How can I turn you loose, Israel? How can I leave you to be ruined like Admah, devastated like luckless Zeboim? I can’t bear to even think such thoughts. My insides churn in protest. And so I’m not going to act on my anger. I’m not going to destroy Ephraim. And why? Because I am God and not a human. I’m The Holy One and I’m here—in your very midst.
He shall not turn again into the land of Egypt. And Assur, he shall be king of him, for they would not turn (again to me). (And so they shall return to the land of Egypt. And the Assyrian, he shall be their king, because they would not return to me.)
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