1 whenever I want to heal Israel,
the sin of Ephraim is revealed,
and the evil deeds of Samaria are exposed.
For they do what is wrong;
thieves break into houses,
and gangs rob people out in the streets.
2 They do not realize#tn Heb “and they do not say in their heart”; TEV “It never enters their heads.”
that I remember all of their wicked deeds.
Their evil deeds have now surrounded them;
their sinful deeds are always before me.#tn Heb “they [the sinful deeds] are before my face” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV); NCV “they are right in front of me.”
Political Intrigue and Conspiracy in the Palace
3 The royal advisers delight the king with their evil schemes,
the princes make him glad with their lies.
4 They are all like bakers,#tc The MT reads מְנָאֲפִים (mÿna’afim, “adulterers”; Piel participle masculine plural from נָאַף, na’af, “to commit adultery”), which does not seem to fit the context. The original reading was probably אוֹפִים (’ofim, “bakers”; Qal participle masculine plural from אָפַה, ’afah, “to bake”), which harmonizes well with the baker/oven/fire motif in 7:4-7. The textual deviation was caused by: (1) confusion of נ (nun) and ו (vav), (2) metathesis of נ/ו (nun/vav) and א (alef), and (3) dittography of מ (mem) from the preceding word. Original כֻּלָּם אוֹפִים (kullam ’ofim, “all of them are bakers”) was confused for כֻּלָּם מְנָאֲפִים (“all of them are adulterers”). In spite of this most English versions follow the reading of the MT here.
they#tc The MT preserves the enigmatic כְּמוֹ תַנּוּר בֹּעֵרָה מֵ (kÿmo tannur bo’erah me, “Like a burning oven, from…?”). The adjectival participle בֹּעֵרָה (“burning”) is feminine while the noun תַנּוּר (tannur, “oven”) that it modifies is masculine. The BHS editors solve this problem by simply redividing the words: כְּמוֹ תַנּוּר בֹּעֵר הֵם (cÿmo tannur bo’er hem, “they are like a burning oven”). This solution is followed by many English versions (e.g., NCV, NRSV, NLT). are like a smoldering oven;
they are like a baker who does not stoke the fire
until the kneaded dough is ready for baking.
5 At the celebration#tn Heb “the day of” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); NIV “On the day of the festival of our king”; NLT “On royal holidays.” of their king,#tc The MT preserves the awkward 1st person common plural suffix reading מַלְכֵּנוּ (malakenu, “our king”). The BHS editors suggest reading the 3rd person masculine plural suffix מַלְכָּם (malkam, “their king”; so CEV), as reflected in the Aramaic Targum.
his princes become inflamed#tc The MT vocalizes the consonants החלו as הֶחֱלוּ a Hiphil perfect 3rd person common plural from I חָלָה (“to become sick”). However, this is syntactically awkward. The BHS editors suggest revocalizing it as Hiphil infinitive construct + 3rd person masculine singular suffix from חָלַל (khalal, “to begin”) or Hiphil perfect 3rd person common plural from חָלַל. For a discussion of this textual problem, see D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 5:240.tn Heb “when their king began [to reign].” with wine;
they conspire#tn Heb “he joined hands”; NCV “make agreements.” with evildoers.
6 They approach him, all the while plotting against him.
Their hearts are like an oven;
their anger smolders all night long,
but in the morning it bursts into a flaming fire.
7 All of them are blazing like an oven;
they devour their rulers.
All of their kings fall –
and none of them call on me!
Israel Lacks Discernment and Refuses to Repent
8 Ephraim has mixed itself like flour#tn The words “like flour” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied by the imagery. among the nations;
Ephraim is like a ruined cake of bread that is scorched on one side.#tn Heb “a cake of bread not turned.” This metaphor compares Ephraim to a ruined cake of bread that was not turned over in time to avoid being scorched and burned (see BDB 728 s.v. עֻגָה). Cf. NLT “as worthless as a half-baked cake.”
9 Foreigners are consuming what his strenuous labor produced,#tn Heb “foreigners consume his strength”; NRSV “devour (sap NIV) his strength.”
but he does not recognize it!
His head is filled with gray hair,
but he does not realize it!
10 The arrogance of Israel testifies against him,
yet they refuse to return to the Lord their God!
In spite of all this they refuse to seek him!
Israel Turns to Assyria and Egypt for Help
11 Ephraim has been like a dove,
easily deceived and lacking discernment.
They called to Egypt for help;
they turned to Assyria for protection.
12 I will throw my bird net over them while they are flying,
I will bring them down like birds in the sky;
I will discipline them when I hear them flocking together.
Israel Has Turned Away from the Lord
13 Woe to them! For they have fled from me!
Destruction to them! For they have rebelled against me!
I want to deliver#tn Heb “redeem” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); NCV, TEV “save”; CEV “I would have rescued them.” them,
but they have lied to me.
14 They do not pray to me,#tn Heb “they do not cry out to me in their heart”; NLT “with sincere hearts.”
but howl in distress on their beds;
They slash themselves#tc The MT reads יִתְגּוֹרָרוּ (yitgoraru) which is either (1) Hitpolel imperfect 3rd person masculine plural (“they assemble themselves”; so KJV, NASB) from I גּוּר (gur, “to sojourn”; BDB 157 s.v. I גּוּר) or (2) Hitpolel imperfect 3rd person masculine plural (“they excite themselves”) from II גּוּר (gur, “to stir up”; BDB 158 s.v. II גּוּר). However, the Hebrew lexicographers suggest that both of these options are unlikely. Several other Hebrew mss preserve an alternate textual tradition of יִתְגּוֹדָדוּ (yitgodadu) which is a Hitpolel imperfect 3rd person common plural (“they slash themselves”) from גָּדַד (gadad, “to cut”; BDB 151 s.v. גָּדַד), as also reflected in the LXX (cf. NAB “they lacerated themselves”; NRSV, TEV “gash themselves”; NLT “cut themselves.” This reflects the pagan Canaanite cultic practice of priests cutting themselves and draining their blood on the ground to elicit agricultural fertility by resurrecting the slain fertility god Baal from the underworld (Deut 14:1; 1 Kgs 18:28; Jer 16:6; 41:5; 47:5). Cf. CEV which adds “in the hope that Baal will bless their crops.” for grain and new wine,
but turn away from me.
15 Although I trained and strengthened them,#tn Heb “their arms” (so NAB, NRSV).
they plot evil against me!
16 They turn to Baal;#tc The MT reads the enigmatic יָשׁוּבוּ לֹא עָל (yashuvu lo’ ’al) which is taken variously: “they turn, but not upward” (NASB); “they do not turn to the Most High” (NIV); “they return, but not to the most High” (KJV). The BHS editors suggest יָשׁוּבוּ לַבַּעַל (yashuvu labba’al, “they turn to Baal”; so RSV) or יָשׁוּבוּ לַבְּלִיַּעַל (yashuvu labbÿliyya’al, “they turn to Belial”) which is reflected by the LXX.
they are like an unreliable bow.
Their leaders will fall by the sword
because their prayers to Baal#tn Heb “because their tongue.” The term “tongue” is used figuratively, as a metonymy of cause (tongue) for the effect (prayers to Baal). have made me angry.
So people will disdain them in the land of Egypt.#tn Heb “this [will] be for scorn in the land of Egypt”; NIV “they will be ridiculed (NAB shall be mocked) in the land of Egypt.”
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