Destruction of Idolatrous Cultic Objects
1#Is 5:1–7. Israel is a luxuriant vine
whose fruit matches its growth.
The more abundant his fruit,
the more altars he built;
The more productive his land,
the more sacred pillars#Sacred pillars: see note on 3:4. he set up.
2Their heart is false!
Now they will pay for their guilt:
God will break down their altars
and destroy their sacred pillars.
3For now they will say,
“We have no king!#No king: the instability of the monarchy (7:3–7) and its vassalage to foreign kings (7:8–16) render the monarchy ineffective. The kings do the opposite of what they are supposed to do (10:4).
Since we do not fear the Lord,
the king—what could he do for us?”
4They make promises,
swear false oaths, and make covenants,
While lawsuits sprout
like poisonous weeds#Lawsuits
like poisonous weeds: the administration of justice, which should have been the mainstay of the people, has in corrupt hands become another instrument of oppression; cf. Am 6:12. in the furrows of a field!
5The inhabitants of Samaria are afraid
for the calf of Beth-aven;#The calf of Beth-aven: see note on 4:15.
Its people mourn for it
and its idolatrous priests wail over it,
—over its glory which has departed from it.#1 Sm 4:21–22.
6It too will be carried to Assyria,
as an offering to the great king.#The great king: a title used by the Assyrian kings. See also note on 5:13. #Am 5:27.
Ephraim will be put to shame,
Israel will be shamed by his schemes.
7Samaria and her king will disappear,
like a twig upon the waters.
8The high places of Aven#Aven: wickedness, first of all at Bethel (v. 5), but also at all the high places. will be destroyed,
the sin of Israel;
thorns and thistles will overgrow their altars.
Then they will cry out to the mountains, “Cover us!”
and to the hills, “Fall upon us!”#Is 2:10, 19; Lk 23:30; Rev 6:16.
War Because of Israel’s Wickedness
9Since the days of Gibeah#Jgs 19–21.
you have sinned, Israel.
There they took their stand;
will war not reach them in Gibeah?
Against a perverse people
10I came and I chastised them;
Peoples will be gathered against them
when I bind them to their two crimes.#Two crimes: the allusion is not clear; a possible reference is the outrage described in Jgs 19.
11Ephraim was a trained heifer,
that loved to thresh;
I myself laid a yoke
upon her beautiful neck;
I will make Ephraim break ground, Judah must plow,
Jacob must harrow for himself:
12“Sow for yourselves justice,
reap the reward of loyalty;
Break up for yourselves a new field,#Jer 4:3.
for it is time to seek the Lord,
till he comes and rains justice upon you.”#Is 45:8; Jl 2:23.
13But you have plowed wickedness,
and eaten the fruit of falsehood.
Because you have trusted in your own power,
and in your many warriors,#Is 31:1.
14The clamor of war shall break out among your people
and all your fortresses shall be ravaged
As Salman ravaged Beth-arbel#As Salman ravaged Beth-arbel: perhaps Salamanu, king of Moab, mentioned in an inscription of Tiglath-pileser III, after an invasion in Gilead (Transjordan), where there was a Beth-arbel, close to present Irbid. on the day of war,
smashing mothers along with their children.#Ps 137:9; Am 1:13.
15So it will be done to you, Bethel,
because of your utter wickedness:
At dawn#At dawn: normally the moment of God’s victory over Israel’s enemies, and thus his salvation (Is 17:14; Ps 46:6). Here it is a reversal of this expectation. the king of Israel
will utterly disappear.