The lord’s Judgment against Israel
1How prosperous Israel is—
a luxuriant vine loaded with fruit.
But the richer the people get,
the more pagan altars they build.
The more bountiful their harvests,
the more beautiful their sacred pillars.
2The hearts of the people are fickle;
they are guilty and must be punished.
The lord will break down their altars
and smash their sacred pillars.
3Then they will say, “We have no king
because we didn’t fear the lord.
But even if we had a king,
what could he do for us anyway?”
4They spout empty words
and make covenants they don’t intend to keep.
So injustice springs up among them
like poisonous weeds in a farmer’s field.
5The people of Samaria tremble in fear
for their calf idol at Beth-aven,# Beth-aven means “house of wickedness”; it is being used as another name for Bethel, which means “house of God.”
and they mourn for it.
Though its priests rejoice over it,
its glory will be stripped away.# Or will be taken away into exile.
6This idol will be carted away to Assyria,
a gift to the great king there.
Ephraim will be ridiculed and Israel will be shamed,
because its people have trusted in this idol.
7Samaria and its king will be cut off;
they will float away like driftwood on an ocean wave.
8And the pagan shrines of Aven,# Aven is a reference to Beth-aven; see 10:5a and the note there. the place of Israel’s sin, will crumble.
Thorns and thistles will grow up around their altars.
They will beg the mountains, “Bury us!”
and plead with the hills, “Fall on us!”
9The lord says, “O Israel, ever since Gibeah,
there has been only sin and more sin!
You have made no progress whatsoever.
Was it not right that the wicked men of Gibeah were attacked?
10Now whenever it fits my plan,
I will attack you, too.
I will call out the armies of the nations
to punish you for your multiplied sins.
11“Israel# Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel. is like a trained heifer treading out the grain—
an easy job she loves.
But I will put a heavy yoke on her tender neck.
I will force Judah to pull the plow
and Israel# Hebrew Jacob. The names “Jacob” and “Israel” are often interchanged throughout the Old Testament, referring sometimes to the individual patriarch and sometimes to the nation. to break up the hard ground.
12I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness,
and you will harvest a crop of love.
Plow up the hard ground of your hearts,
for now is the time to seek the lord,
that he may come
and shower righteousness upon you.’
13“But you have cultivated wickedness
and harvested a thriving crop of sins.
You have eaten the fruit of lies—
trusting in your military might,
believing that great armies
could make your nation safe.
14Now the terrors of war
will rise among your people.
All your fortifications will fall,
just as when Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel.
Even mothers and children
were dashed to death there.
15You will share that fate, Bethel,
because of your great wickedness.
When the day of judgment dawns,
the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.