1 ISRAEL IS a luxuriant vine that puts forth its [material] fruit. According to the abundance of his fruit he has multiplied his altars [to idols]; according to the goodness and prosperity of their land they have made goodly pillars or obelisks [to false gods].
2 Their heart is divided and deceitful; now shall they be found guilty and suffer punishment. The Lord will smite and break down [the horns of] their altars; He will destroy their [idolatrous] pillars.
3 Surely now they shall say, We have no [actual] king because we fear not the Lord; and as for the king, what can he do for us?
4 They have spoken mere words of the lips, swearing falsely in making covenants; therefore judgment springs up like hemlock [or other poisonous plants] in the furrows of the field.
5 The inhabitants of Samaria shall be in terror for the calf [idol] of Beth-aven [the house of idolatry, contemptuously meaning Bethel], for its people shall mourn over it and its [idolatrous] priests who rejoiced over it [shall tremble] for the glory of [their calf god], because it is departed from it.
6 [The golden calf] shall also be carried into Assyria as a tribute-gift to the fighting King Jareb; Ephraim shall be put to shame and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel [to set up calf worship and detach Israel from Judah].
7 As for Samaria, her king and her whole monarchy are cut off like twigs or foam upon the water.
8 The high places also of Aven [once Beth(el), house of God, now (Beth-)aven, house of idolatry], the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed; the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their [idol] altars, and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us! And to the hills, Fall on us! [Luke 23:30; Rev. 6:16; 9:6.]
9 O Israel, you have [willfully] sinned from the days of Gibeah [when you all but wiped out the tribe of Benjamin]! There [Israel] stood [then, only] that the battle against the sons of unrighteousness might not overtake and turn against them at Gibeah [but now the kingdom of the ten tribes and the name of Ephraim shall be utterly blotted out]. [Judg. 20.]
10 When I please I will chastise them, and hostile peoples shall be gathered against them when I shall bind and yoke them for their two transgressions [revolt from the Lord their God and the worship of idols]. [Jer. 2:13; Lam. 3:31-33.]
11 Ephraim indeed is a heifer broken in and loving to tread out the grain, but I have [heretofore] spared the beauty of her fair neck. I will now set a rider upon Ephraim and make him to draw; Judah shall plow and Jacob shall break his clods.
12 Sow for yourselves according to righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God); reap according to mercy and loving-kindness. Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, to inquire for and of Him, and to require His favor, till He comes and teaches you righteousness and rains His righteous gift of salvation upon you. [II Cor. 9:10.]
13 You have plowed and plotted wickedness, you have reaped the [willful] injustice [of oppressors], you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your [own] way and your chariots, in the multitude of your mighty men,
14 Therefore shall a tumult arise against your people and all your fortresses shall be wasted and destroyed, as Shalmaneser wasted and destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle; the mother was dashed in pieces with her children. [II Kings 17:3.]
15 So shall it be done to you at [idolatrous] Bethel because of your great wickedness; at daybreak shall the king of Israel be utterly cut off.