1When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
2The more I called them,
the further they went from me;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals,
and they burned incense to idols.
3Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up in my arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
4I led them
with bands of human kindness,
with cords of love.
I treated them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks;
I bent down to them and fed them.
5They will return to the land of Egypt,
and Assyria will be their king,
because they have refused to return to me.
6The sword will strike wildly in their cities;
it will consume the bars of their gates
and will take everything because of their schemes.
7My people are bent on turning away from me;
and though they cry out to the Most High,#Heb uncertain
he will not raise them up.
8How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart winces within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
Israel’s and Judah’s responses
9I won’t act on the heat of my anger;
I won’t return to destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a human being,
the holy one in your midst;
I won’t come in harsh judgment.
10They will walk after the LORD,
who roars like a lion.
When he roars,
his children will come trembling from the west.
11They will come trembling like a bird,
and like a dove from the land of Assyria;
and I will return them to their homes, says the LORD.
12#12:1 in Heb Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,
the house of Israel with faithless acts;
but Judah still walks with God,
and is faithful to the holy one.