The Lord's Accusation against Israel
1The Lord has an accusation to bring against the people who live in this land. Listen, Israel, to what he says: “There is no faithfulness or love in the land, and the people do not acknowledge me as God. 2They make promises and break them; they lie, murder, steal, and commit adultery. Crimes increase, and there is one murder after another. 3And so the land will dry up, and everything that lives on it will die. All the animals and birds, and even the fish, will die.”
The Lord Accuses the Priests
4The Lord says, “Let no one accuse the people or reprimand them — my complaint is against you priests.#4.4 Probable text my complaint is against you priests; Hebrew your people are like those with a complaint against the priests. 5Night and day you blunder on, and the prophets do no better than you. I am going to destroy Israel, your mother. 6My people are doomed because they do not acknowledge me. You priests have refused to acknowledge me and have rejected my teaching, and so I reject you and will not acknowledge your sons as my priests.
7“The more of you priests there are, the more you sin against me, and so I will turn your honour into disgrace. 8You grow rich from the sins of my people, and so you want them to sin more and more. 9You will suffer the same punishment as the people! I will punish you and make you pay for the evil you do. 10You will eat your share of the sacrifices, but still be hungry. You will worship the fertility gods, but still have no children, because you have turned away from me to follow other gods.”
The Lord Condemns Pagan Worship
11The Lord says, “Wine, both old and new, is robbing my people of their senses! 12They ask for revelations from a piece of wood! A stick tells them what they want to know! They have left me. Like a woman who becomes a prostitute, they have given themselves to other gods. 13At sacred places on the mountain tops they offer sacrifices, and on the hills they burn incense under tall, spreading trees, because the shade is so pleasant!
“As a result, your daughters serve as prostitutes, and your daughters-in-law commit adultery. 14Yet I will not punish them for this, because you yourselves go off with temple prostitutes,#4.14 temple prostitutes: These women were found in Canaanite temples, where fertility gods were worshipped. It was believed that intercourse with these prostitutes assured fertile fields and herds. and together with them you offer pagan sacrifices. As the proverb says, ‘A people without sense will be ruined.’
15“Even though you people of Israel are unfaithful to me, may Judah not be guilty of the same thing. Don't worship at Gilgal or Bethaven,#4.15 Bethaven: This name means “house of evil” or “house of idolatry” and in this passage refers to the city of Bethel, a name which means “house of God”. See also 5.8, 10.5 and 10.8. or make promises there in the name of the living Lord. 16The people of Israel are as stubborn as mules. How can I feed them like lambs in a meadow? 17The people of Israel are under the spell of idols. Let them go their own way. 18After drinking much wine, they delight in their prostitution, preferring disgrace to honour. 19They will be carried away as by the wind, and they will be ashamed of their pagan sacrifices.#4.19 sacrifices; some ancient translations altars. Verses 17–19 in Hebrew are unclear.