1“Listen to this, you priests! Pay attention, people of Israel! Listen, you that belong to the royal family! You are supposed to judge with justice — so judgement will fall on you! You have become a trap at Mizpah, a net spread on Mount Tabor, 2a deep pit at Acacia City, and I will punish all of you. 3I know what Israel is like — she cannot hide from me. She has been unfaithful, and her people are unfit to worship me.”
Hosea Warns against Idolatry
4The evil that the people have done prevents them from returning to their God. Idolatry has a powerful hold on them, and they do not acknowledge the LORD. 5The arrogance of the people of Israel cries out against them. Their sins make them stumble and fall, and the people of Judah fall with them. 6They take their sheep and cattle to offer as sacrifices to the LORD, but it does them no good. They cannot find him, for he has left them. 7They have been unfaithful to the LORD; their children do not belong to him. So now they and their lands will soon be destroyed.
War between Judah and Israel
8Blow the war trumpets in Gibeah! Sound the alarm in Ramah! Raise the war cry at Bethaven! Into battle, men of Benjamin! 9The day of punishment is coming, and Israel will be ruined. People of Israel, this will surely happen!
10The LORD says, “I am angry because the leaders of Judah have invaded Israel and stolen land from her. So I will pour out punishment on them like a flood. 11Israel is suffering oppression; she has lost land that was rightfully hers, because she insisted on going for help to those who had none to give.12I will bring destruction on Israel and ruin on the people of Judah.
13“When Israel saw how sick she was and when Judah saw her own wounds, then Israel went to Assyria to ask the great emperor for help, but he could not cure them or heal their wounds. 14I will attack the people of Israel and Judah like a lion. I myself will tear them to pieces and then leave them. When I drag them off, no one will be able to save them.
15“I will abandon my people until they have suffered enough for their sins and come looking for me. Perhaps in their suffering they will try to find me.”
The People's Insincere Repentance
1The people say, “Let's return to the LORD! He has hurt us, but he will be sure to heal us; he has wounded us, but he will bandage our wounds, won't he? 2In two or three days he will revive us, and we will live in his presence. 3Let us try to know the LORD. He will come to us as surely as the day dawns, as surely as the spring rains that water the earth.”
4But the LORD says, “Israel and Judah, what am I going to do with you? Your love for me disappears as quickly as morning mist; it is like dew, that vanishes early in the day. 5That is why I have sent my prophets to you with my message of judgement and destruction. What I want from you is plain and clear: 6I want your constant love, not your animal sacrifices. I would rather have my people know me than burn offerings to me.
7“But as soon as they entered the land at Adam, they broke the covenant I had made with them. 8Gilead is a city full of evil people and murderers. 9The priests are like a gang of robbers who wait in ambush for someone. Even on the road to the holy place at Shechem they commit murder. And they do all this evil deliberately! 10I have seen a horrible thing in Israel: my people have defiled themselves by worshipping idols.
11“And as for you, people of Judah, I have set a time to punish you also for what you are doing.
1“Whenever I want to heal my people Israel and make them prosperous again, all I can see is their wickedness and the evil they do. They cheat one another; they break into houses and steal; they rob people in the streets. 2It never enters their heads that I will remember all this evil; but their sins surround them, and I cannot avoid seeing them.”
Conspiracy in the Palace
3The LORD says, “People deceive the king and his officers by their evil plots. 4They are all treacherous and disloyal. Their hatred smoulders like the fire in an oven, which is not stirred by the baker until the dough is ready to bake. 5On the day of the king's celebration they made the king and his officials drunk and foolish with wine. 6Yes, they burned like an oven with their plotting. All night their anger smouldered, and in the morning it burst into flames.
7“In the heat of their anger they murdered their rulers. Their kings have been assassinated one after another, but no one prays to me for help.”
Israel and the Nations
8The LORD says, “The people of Israel are like a half-baked loaf of bread. They rely on the nations around them 9and do not realize that this reliance on foreigners has robbed them of their strength. Their days are numbered, but they don't even know it. 10The arrogance of the people of Israel cries out against them. In spite of everything that has happened, they have not returned to me, the LORD their God. 11Israel flits about like a silly pigeon; first her people call on Egypt for help, and then they run to Assyria! 12But I will spread out a net and catch them like birds as they go by. I will punish them for the evil they have done.
13“They are doomed! They have left me and rebelled against me. They will be destroyed. I wanted to save them, but their worship of me was false. 14They have not prayed to me sincerely, but instead they throw themselves down and wail as the heathen do. When they pray for corn and wine, they gash themselves like pagans. What rebels they are! 15Even though I was the one who brought them up and made them strong, they plotted against me. 16They keep on turning away from me to a god that is powerless. They are as unreliable as a crooked bow. Because their leaders talk arrogantly, they will die a violent death, and the Egyptians will laugh.”
The LORD Condemns Israel for Idol Worship
1The LORD says, “Sound the alarm! Enemies are swooping down on my land like eagles! My people have broken the covenant I made with them and have rebelled against my teaching. 2Even though they call me their God and claim that they are my people and that they know me, 3they have rejected what is good. Because of this their enemies will pursue them.
4“My people chose kings, but they did it on their own. They appointed leaders, but without my approval. They took their silver and gold and made idols — for their own destruction. 5I hate the gold bull worshipped by the people of the city of Samaria. I am furious with them. How long will it be before they give up their idolatry? 6An Israelite craftsman made the idol, and it is not a god at all! The gold bull worshipped in Samaria will be smashed to pieces! 7When they sow the wind, they will reap a storm! A field of corn that doesn't ripen can never produce any bread. But even if it did, foreigners would eat it up. 8Israel has become like any other nation and is as useless as a broken pot. 9Stubborn as wild donkeys, the people of Israel go their own way. They have gone off to seek help from Assyria, and have paid other nations to protect them. 10But now I am going to gather them together and punish them. Soon they will writhe in pain, when the emperor of Assyria oppresses them.
11“The more altars the people of Israel build for removing sin, the more places they have for sinning! 12I write down countless teachings for the people, but they reject them as strange and foreign. 13They offer sacrifices to me and eat the meat of the sacrifices. But I, the LORD, am not pleased with them, and now I will remember their sin and punish them for it; I will send them back to Egypt!
14“The people of Israel have built palaces, but they have forgotten their own Maker. The people of Judah have built fortified cities. But I will send fire that will burn down their palaces and their cities.”
Hosea Announces Punishment for Israel
1People of Israel, stop celebrating your festivals like pagans. You have turned away from your God and have been unfaithful to him. All over the land you have sold yourselves like prostitutes to the god Baal and have loved the corn you thought he paid you with! 2But soon you will not have enough corn and olive oil, and there will be no wine. 3The people of Israel will not remain in the LORD's land, but will have to go back to Egypt and will have to eat forbidden food in Assyria. 4In those foreign lands they will not be able to make offerings of wine to the LORD, or bring their sacrifices to him. Their food will defile everyone who eats it, like food eaten at funerals. It will be used only to satisfy their hunger; none of it will be taken as an offering to the LORD's Temple. 5And when the time comes for the appointed festivals in honour of the LORD, what will they do then? 6When the disaster comes and the people are scattered, the Egyptians will gather them up — gather them for burial there at Memphis! Their treasures of silver and the places where their homes once stood will be overgrown with weeds and thorn bushes.
7The time for punishment has come, the time when people will get what they deserve. When that happens, Israel will know it! “This prophet,” you say, “is a fool. This inspired man is insane.” You people hate me so much because your sin is so great. 8God has sent me as a prophet to warn his people Israel. Yet wherever I go, you try to trap me like a bird. Even in God's Temple the people are the prophet's enemies. 9They are hopelessly evil in what they do, just as they were at Gibeah. God will remember their sin and punish them for it.