10The LORD says, “When I first found Israel, it was like finding grapes growing in the desert. When I first saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the first ripe figs of the season. But when they came to Mount Peor, they began to worship Baal, and soon became as disgusting as the gods they loved. 11Israel's greatness will fly away like a bird, and there will be no more children born to them, no more women pregnant, no more children conceived. 12But even if they did bring up children, I would take them away and not leave one alive. When I abandon these people, terrible things will happen to them.”
13LORD, I can see their children being hunted down and killed. 14What shall I ask you to do to these people? Make their women barren! Make them unable to nurse their babies!
The LORD's Judgement on Israel
15The LORD says, “All their evil-doing began in Gilgal. It was there that I began to hate them. And because of the evil they have done, I will drive them out of my land. I will not love them any more; all their leaders have rebelled against me. 16The people of Israel are like a plant whose roots have dried up and which bears no fruit. They will have no children, but even if they did, I would kill the children so dear to them.”
The Prophet Speaks about Israel
17The God I serve will reject his people, because they have not listened to him. They will become wanderers among the nations.
1The people of Israel were like a grapevine that was full of grapes. The more prosperous they were, the more altars they built. The more productive their land was, the more beautiful they made the sacred stone pillars they worship. 2The people whose hearts are deceitful must now suffer for their sins. God will break down their altars and destroy their sacred pillars.
3These people will soon be saying, “We have no king because we did not fear the LORD. But what could a king do for us anyway?” 4They utter empty words and make false promises and useless treaties. Justice has become injustice, growing like poisonous weeds in a ploughed field.
5The people who live in the city of Samaria will be afraid and will mourn the loss of the gold bull at Bethaven. They and the priests who serve the idol will weep over it. They will wail when it is stripped of its golden splendour. 6The idol will be carried off to Assyria as tribute to the great emperor. The people of Israel will be disgraced and put to shame because of the advice they followed. 7Their king will be carried off, like a chip of wood on water. 8The hilltop shrines of Aven, where the people of Israel worship idols, will be destroyed. Thorns and weeds will grow up over their altars. The people will call out to the mountains, “Hide us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”
The LORD Pronounces Judgement on Israel
9The LORD says, “The people of Israel have not stopped sinning against me since the time of their sin at Gibeah. So at Gibeah war will catch up with them. 10I will attack this sinful people and punish them. Nations will join together against them, and they will be punished for their many sins.
11“Israel was once like a well-trained young cow, ready and willing to thresh grain. But I decided to put a yoke on her beautiful neck and to harness her for harder work. I made Judah pull the plough and Israel pull the harrow. 12I said, ‘Plough new ground for yourselves, plant righteousness, and reap the blessings that your devotion to me will produce. It is time for you to turn to me, your LORD, and I will come and pour out blessings upon you.’ 13But instead you planted evil and reaped its harvest. You have eaten the fruit produced by your lies.
“Because you trusted in your chariots and in the large number of your soldiers, 14war will come to your people, and all your fortresses will be destroyed. It will be like the day when King Shalman destroyed the city of Betharbel in battle, and mothers and their children were crushed to death. 15That is what will happen to you, people of Bethel, because of the terrible evil that you have done. As soon as the battle begins, the king of Israel will die.”
God's Love for his Rebellious People
1The LORD says,
“When Israel was a child, I loved him
and called him out of Egypt as my son.
2But the more I called to him,
the more he turned away from me.
My people sacrificed to Baal;
they burnt incense to idols.
3Yet I was the one who taught Israel to walk.
I took my people up in my arms,
but they did not acknowledge that I took care of them.
4I drew them to me with affection and love.
I picked them up and held them to my cheek;
I bent down to them and fed them.
5“They refuse to return to me, and so they must return to Egypt, and Assyria will rule them. 6War will sweep through their cities and break down the city gates. It will destroy my people because they do what they themselves think best. 7They insist on turning away from me. They will cry out because of the yoke that is on them, but no one will lift it from them.
8“How can I give you up, Israel?
How can I abandon you?
Could I ever destroy you as I did Admah,
or treat you as I did Zeboiim?
My heart will not let me do it!
My love for you is too strong.
9I will not punish you in my anger;
I will not destroy Israel again.
For I am God and not a human being.
I, the Holy One, am with you.
I will not come to you in anger.
10“My people will follow me when I roar like a lion at their enemies. They will hurry to me from the west. 11They will come from Egypt, as swiftly as birds, and from Assyria, like doves. I will bring them to their homes again. I, the LORD, have spoken.”
Israel and Judah are Condemned
12The LORD says, “The people of Israel have surrounded me with lies and deceit, and the people of Judah are still rebelling against me, the faithful and holy God.
1Everything that the people of Israel do from morning to night is useless and destructive. Treachery and acts of violence increase among them. They make treaties with Assyria and do business with Egypt.”
2The LORD has an accusation to bring against the people of Judah; he is also going to punish Israel for the way her people act. He will pay them back for what they have done. 3Their ancestor Jacob struggled with his twin brother Esau while the two of them were still in their mother's womb; when Jacob grew up, he fought against God — 4he fought against an angel and won. He wept and asked for a blessing. And at Bethel God came to our ancestor Jacob and spoke with him.5This was the LORD God Almighty — the LORD is the name by which he is to be worshipped. 6So now, descendants of Jacob, trust in your God and return to him. Be loyal and just, and wait patiently for your God to act.
Further Words of Judgement
7The LORD says, “The people of Israel are as dishonest as the Canaanites; they love to cheat their customers with false scales. 8‘We are rich,’ they say. ‘We've made a fortune. And no one can accuse us of getting rich dishonestly.’ 9But I, the LORD your God who led you out of Egypt, I will make you live in tents again, as you did when I came to you in the desert.
10“I spoke to the prophets and gave them many visions, and through the prophets I gave my people warnings. 11Yet idols are worshipped in Gilead, and those who worship them will die. Bulls are sacrificed in Gilgal, and the altars there will become piles of stone in the open fields.”
12Our ancestor Jacob had to flee to Mesopotamia, where, in order to get a wife, he worked for another man and took care of his sheep. 13The LORD sent a prophet to rescue the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt and to take care of them. 14The people of Israel have made the LORD bitterly angry; they deserve death for their crimes. Their Lord will punish them for the disgrace they have brought on him.
Final Judgement on Israel
1In the past, when the tribe of Ephraim spoke, the other tribes of Israel were afraid; they looked up to Ephraim. But the people sinned by worshipping Baal, and for this they will die. 2They still keep on sinning by making metal images to worship — idols of silver, designed by human minds, made by human hands. And then they say, “Offer sacrifices to them!” How can anyone kiss those idols — idols in the shape of bulls!3And so these people will disappear like morning mist, like the dew that vanishes early in the day. They will be like chaff which the wind blows from the threshing place, like smoke from a chimney.
4The LORD says, “I am the LORD your God, who led you out of Egypt. You have no God but me. I alone am your saviour. 5I took care of you in a dry, desert land. 6But when you entered the good land, you became full and satisfied, and then you grew proud and forgot me. 7So I will attack you like a lion. Like a leopard I will lie in wait along your path. 8I will attack you like a bear that has lost her cubs, and I will tear you open. Like a lion I will devour you on the spot, and will tear you to pieces like a wild animal.
9“I will destroy you, people of Israel! Then who can help you?10You asked for a king and for leaders, but how can they save the nation?11In my anger I have given you kings, and in my fury I have taken them away.
12“Israel's sin and guilt are on record, and the records are safely stored away. 13Israel has a chance to live, but is too foolish to take it — like a child about to be born, who refuses to come out of the womb. 14I will not save this people from the world of the dead or rescue them from the power of death. Bring on your plagues, death! Bring on your destruction, world of the dead! I will no longer have pity for this people. 15Even though Israel flourishes like weeds, I will send a hot east wind from the desert, and it will dry up their springs and wells. It will take away everything of value. 16Samaria must be punished for rebelling against me. Her people will die in war; babies will be dashed to the ground, and pregnant women will be ripped open.”
Hosea's Plea to Israel
1Return to the LORD your God, people of Israel. Your sin has made you stumble and fall. 2Return to the LORD, and let this prayer be your offering to him: “Forgive all our sins and accept our prayer, and we will praise you as we have promised. 3Assyria can never save us, and war horses cannot protect us. We will never again say to our idols that they are our God. O LORD, you show mercy to those who have no one else to turn to.”
The LORD Promises New Life for Israel
4The LORD says,
“I will bring my people back to me.
I will love them with all my heart;
no longer am I angry with them.
5I will be to the people of Israel
like rain in a dry land.
They will blossom like flowers;
they will be firmly rooted
like the trees of Lebanon.
6They will be alive with new growth,
and beautiful like olive trees.
They will be fragrant
like the cedars of Lebanon.
7Once again they will live under my protection.
They will grow corn
and be fruitful like a vineyard.
They will be as famous as the wine of Lebanon.
8The people of Israel will have nothing more to do with idols;
I will answer their prayers and take care of them;
Like an evergreen tree I will shelter them;
I am the source of all their blessings.”
9May those who are wise understand what is written here, and may they take it to heart. The LORD's ways are right, and righteous people live by following them, but sinners stumble and fall because they ignore them.