1 WHEN EPHRAIM spoke with trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended and became guilty in Baal worship, he died [spiritually, and then outward ruin came also, sealing Israel's doom as a nation].
2 And now they sin more and more and have made for themselves molten images of their silver, even idols according to their own understanding [as it pleased them], all of them the work of the craftsmen. To these [very works of their hands] they speak or pray who sacrifice to them; they kiss and show homage to the calves [as if they were alive]!
3 Therefore they shall be like the morning mist or like the dew that passes early away, like the chaff that swirls with the whirlwind from the threshing floor and as the smoke out of the chimney or through the window.
4 Yet I am the Lord your God from [the time you became a nation in] the land of Egypt, and you shall know or recognize no God but Me, for there is no Savior besides Me.
5 I knew (recognized, understood, and had regard for) you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.
6 According to their pasture, so were they filled [when they fed, they grew full], and their heart was lifted up; therefore have they forgotten Me.
7 Therefore I have become to them like a lion; like a leopard I will lurk by the way [to Assyria] and watch them.
8 I will meet them like a bear that is robbed of her cubs, and I will rend the covering of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lioness, as a wild beast would tear them.
9 It is your destruction, O Israel, that you have been against Me, for in Me is your help.
10 Where now is your king that he may save you in all your cities? And your judges of whom you said, Give me a king and princes?
11 I have given you a king in My anger, and I have taken him away in My wrath.
12 The iniquity of Ephraim [not fully punished yet] is bound up [as in a bag]; his sin is laid up in store [for judgment and destruction].
13 The pains of a woman in childbirth are coming on for him [to be born]; but he is an unwise son, for now when it is time [to be born], he comes not to the place where [unborn] children break forth [he needs new birth but makes no effort to acquire it].
14 Should I ransom them from the power of Sheol (the place of the dead)? Should I redeem them from death? O death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? Relenting and compassion are hidden from My eyes. [I Cor. 15:55.]
15 For though among his brethren [his fellow tribes] he may be fruitful, an east wind [Assyria] will come, the breath of the Lord rising from the desert; and Ephraim's spring shall become dry and his fountain be dried up. [Assyria] shall plunder his treasury of every precious vessel.
16 Samaria shall bear her guilt and become desolate, for she rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women shall be ripped up.