The Death of Ephraim
1When Ephraim spoke there was terror;
he was exalted in Israel;#Exalted in Israel: Ephraim enjoyed a privileged position in Israel (Gn 48:14–19).
but he became guilty through Baal and died.
2Now they continue to sin,
making for themselves molten images,
Silver idols according to their skill,#Is 40:19–20; 44:9–20.
all of them the work of artisans.
“To these, offer sacrifice,” they say.
People kiss calves!#Kiss calves: apparently a reference to a ritual gesture associated with the worship of Baal represented as a calf (1 Kgs 19:18). #1 Kgs 19:18.
3Therefore, they will be like a morning cloud
or like the dew that vanishes with the dawn,
Like chaff storm-driven from the threshing floor#Is 17:13; Zep 2:2; Ps 1:4.
or like smoke out of the window.
4I, the Lord, am your God,
since the land of Egypt;#I, the Lord
land of Egypt: according to 1 Kgs 12:28, Jeroboam introduced the calves used in the worship at the sanctuaries in Bethel and Dan with the words: “Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” #Ex 20:2.
Gods apart from me you do not know;
there is no savior but me.#Is 43:11.
5I fed you in the wilderness,
in the parched land.
6When I fed them, they were satisfied;
when satisfied, they became proud,
therefore they forgot me.
7So, I will be like a lion to them,
like a leopard by the road I will keep watch.
8#2 Sm 17:8. I will attack them like a bear robbed of its young,
and tear their hearts from their breasts;
I will devour them on the spot like a lion,
as a wild animal would rip them open.
9#Only God can save Israel, not the king, whom Israel had requested from the Lord (1 Sm 8:1–9). I destroy you, Israel!
who is there to help you?
10Where now is your king,
that he may rescue you?
And all your princes,
that they may defend you?
Of whom you said,
“Give me a king and princes”?#1 Sm 8:5.
11I give you a king in my anger,
and I take him away in my wrath.#I give you a king
in my wrath: the Lord punished the people of the Northern Kingdom by giving them kings who were soon deposed (see notes on 7:3–7 and 8:4).
12The guilt of Ephraim is wrapped up,
his sin is stored away.
13#Ephraim will die along with its stored-up sin, just as a mother dies along with a child that she cannot deliver. The birth pangs will come for him,#Is 26:17–18; Jer 6:24; 22:23.
but this is an unwise child,
Who, when it is time, does not present himself
at the mouth of the womb.#Is 37:3.
14#God calls upon “death” and “Sheol” to send their auxiliaries, “plagues” and “sting,” to punish Israel (Hb 3:5; Ps 91:6). Paul uses this text in a different way to speak about the victory over death (1 Cor 15:54–55). Shall I deliver them from the power of Sheol?
shall I redeem them from death?
Where are your plagues, O death!
where is your sting, Sheol!#1 Cor 15:55.
Compassion is hidden from my eyes.
15Though Ephraim#Although “Ephraim” is not explicitly mentioned in the text (the Hebrew text has the word “he”), the wordplay with the Hebrew word for “flourish” (yaphrî’) suggests the use of “Ephraim” in the translation. Wind: possibly Assyria. may flourish among his brothers,
an east wind#Ez 19:12. will come, a wind from the Lord,
rising from the wilderness,
That will dry up his spring,
and leave his fountain dry.
It will loot his treasury
of every precious thing.