Bible: Hosea 9-14

Fertility Cult Festivals Have Intoxicated Israel

9:1 O Israel, do not rejoice jubilantly 1  like the nations,

for you are unfaithful 2  to your God.

You love to receive a prostitute's wages 3 

on all the floors where you thresh your grain.

9:2 Threshing floors and wine vats will not feed the people, 4 

and new wine only deceives them. 5 

Assyrian Exile Will Reverse the Egyptian Exodus

9:3 They will not remain in the Lord’s land.

Ephraim will return to Egypt;

they will eat ritually unclean food in Assyria.

9:4 They will not pour out drink offerings of wine to the Lord;

they will not please him with their sacrifices.

Their sacrifices will be like bread eaten while in mourning;

all those who eat them will make themselves ritually unclean.

For their bread will be only to satisfy their appetite;

it will not come into the temple of the Lord.

9:5 So what will you do on the festival day,

on the festival days of the Lord?

No Escape for the Israelites This Time!

9:6 Look! 6  Even if 7  they flee from the destruction,

Egypt will take hold 8  of them,

and Memphis will bury them.

The weeds will inherit the silver they treasure 9 

thorn bushes will occupy their homes. 10 

9:7 The time of judgment 11  is about to arrive! 12 

The time of retribution 13  is imminent! 14 

Let Israel know! 15 

Israel Rejects Hosea’s Prophetic Exhortations

The prophet is considered a fool 16 

the inspired man 17  is viewed as a madman 18 

because of the multitude of your sins

and your intense 19  animosity.

9:8 The prophet 20  is a watchman 21  over Ephraim 22  on behalf of God, 23 

yet traps 24  are laid for him along all of his paths; 25 

animosity rages against him in the land 26  of his God.

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

9:9 They have sunk deep into corruption 27 

as in the days of Gibeah.

He will remember their wrongdoing.

He will repay them for their sins.

9:10 When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the wilderness.

I viewed your ancestors 28  like an early fig on a fig tree in its first season.

Then they came to Baal-Peor and they dedicated themselves to shame

they became as detestable as what they loved.

The Fertility Worshipers Will Become Infertile

9:11 Ephraim will be like a bird;

what they value 29  will fly away.

They will not bear children –

they will not enjoy pregnancy –

they will not even conceive! 30 

9:12 Even if they raise their children,

I will take away every last one of them. 31 

Woe to them!

For I will turn away from them.

9:13 Just as lion cubs are born predators, 32 

so Ephraim will bear his sons for slaughter.

9:14 Give them, O Lord

what will you give them?

Give them wombs that miscarry,

and breasts that cannot nurse! 33 

9:15 Because of all their evil in Gilgal,

I hate them there.

On account of their evil deeds,

I will drive them out of my land. 34 

I will no longer love them;

all their rulers are rebels.

9:16 Ephraim will be struck down 35 

their root will be dried up;

they will not yield any fruit.

Even if they do bear children,

I will kill their precious offspring.

9:17 My God will reject them,

for they have not obeyed him;

so they will be fugitives among the nations.

Israel is Guilty of Fertility Cult Worship

10:1 Israel was a fertile vine

that yielded fruit.

As his fruit multiplied,

he multiplied altars to Baal. 36 

As his land prospered,

they adorned the fertility pillars.

10:2 Their heart is slipping;

soon they will be punished for their guilt.

The Lord 37  will break their altars;

he will completely destroy their fertility pillars.

The Lord Will Punish Israel by Removing Its Kings

10:3 Very soon they will say, “We have no king

since we did not fear the Lord.

But what can a king do for us anyway?

10:4 They 38  utter empty words, 39 

taking 40  false oaths and making empty 41  agreements.

Therefore legal disputes sprout up

like poisonous weeds 42  in the furrows of a plowed field.

The Calf Idol and Idolaters of Samaria Will Be Exiled

10:5 The inhabitants 43  of Samaria will lament 44  over the calf idol 45  of Beth Aven. 46 

Its people will mourn over it;

its idolatrous priests will wail 47  over it, 48 

because its splendor will be taken from them 49  into exile.

10:6 Even the calf idol 50  will be carried to Assyria,

as tribute for the great king. 51 

Ephraim will be disgraced;

Israel will be put to shame because 52  of its wooden idol. 53 

10:7 Samaria and its king will be carried off 54 

like a twig 55  on the surface of the waters.

10:8 The high places of the “House 56  of Wickedness 57  will be destroyed;

it is the place where Israel sins.

Thorns and thistles will grow up over its altars.

Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!”

and to the hills, “Fall on us!

Failure to Learn from the Sin and Judgment of Gibeah

10:9 O Israel, you have sinned since the time 58  of Gibeah,

and there you have remained.

Did not war overtake the evildoers in Gibeah?

10:10 When I please, 59  I will discipline them; 60 

I will gather nations together to attack them, 61 

to bind them in chains 62  for their two sins. 63 

Fertility Imagery: Plowing, Sowing, and Reaping

10:11 Ephraim was a well-trained heifer who loved to thresh grain;

I myself put a fine yoke 64 on her neck.

I will harness Ephraim.

Let Judah plow! 65 

Let Jacob break up 66  the unplowed ground for himself!

10:12 Sow righteousness for yourselves,

reap unfailing love.

Break up the unplowed ground for yourselves,

for it is time to seek the Lord,

until he comes and showers deliverance 67  on you.

10:13 But you have plowed wickedness;

you have reaped injustice;

you have eaten the fruit of deception.

Because you have depended on your chariots; 68 

you have relied 69  on your many warriors.

Bethel Will Be Destroyed Like Beth Arbel

10:14 The roar of battle will rise against your people;

all your fortresses will be devastated,

just as Shalman devastated 70  Beth Arbel on the day of battle,

when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children.

10:15 So will it happen to you, O Bethel, 71 

because of your great wickedness!

When that day dawns, 72 

the king of Israel will be destroyed. 73 

Reversal of the Exodus: Return to Egypt and Exile in Assyria

11:1 When Israel was a young man, I loved him like a son, 74 

and I summoned my son 75  out of Egypt.

11:2 But the more I summoned 76  them,

the farther they departed from me. 77 

They sacrificed to the Baal idols

and burned incense to images.

11:3 Yet it was I who led 78  Ephraim,

I took them by the arm;

but they did not acknowledge

that I had healed them. 79 

11:4 I led them with leather 80  cords,

with leather 81  ropes;

I lifted the yoke 82  from their neck, 83 

and gently fed them. 84 

11:5 They will return to Egypt! 85 

Assyria will rule over them 86 

because they refuse to repent! 87 

11:6 A sword will flash in their cities,

it will destroy the bars of their city gates,

and will devour them in their fortresses.

11:7 My people are obsessed 88  with turning away from me; 89 

they call to Baal, 90  but he will never exalt them!

The Divine Dilemma: Judgment or Mercy?

11:8 How can I give you up, 91  O Ephraim?

How can I surrender you, O Israel?

How can I treat you like Admah?

How can I make you like Zeboiim?

I have had a change of heart! 92 

All my tender compassions are aroused! 93 

11:9 I cannot carry out 94  my fierce anger!

I cannot totally destroy Ephraim!

Because I am God, and not man – the Holy One among you –

I will not come in wrath!

God Will Restore the Exiles to Israel

11:10 He will roar like a lion,

and they will follow the Lord;

when he roars,

his children will come trembling 95  from the west.

11:11 They will return in fear and trembling 96 

like birds from Egypt,

like doves from Assyria,

and I will settle them in their homes,” declares the Lord.

God’s Lawsuit against Israel: Breach of Covenant

11:12 97  Ephraim has surrounded me with lies;

the house of Israel has surrounded me 98  with deceit.

But Judah still roams about with 99  God;

he remains faithful to the Holy One.

12:1 Ephraim continually feeds on the wind;

he chases the east wind all day;

he multiplies lies and violence.

They make treaties 100  with Assyria,

and send olive oil as tribute 101  to Egypt.

12:2 The Lord also has a covenant lawsuit 102  against Judah;

he will punish Jacob according to his ways

and repay him according to his deeds.

Israel Must Return to the God of Jacob

12:3 In the womb he attacked his brother;

in his manly vigor he struggled 103  with God.

12:4 He struggled 104  with an angel and prevailed;

he wept and begged for his favor.

He found God 105  at Bethel, 106 

and there he spoke with him! 107 

12:5 As for the Lord God Almighty,

the Lord is the name by which he is remembered! 108 

12:6 But you must return 109  to your God,

by maintaining love and justice,

and by waiting 110  for your God to return to you. 111 

The Lord Refutes Israel’s False Claim of Innocence

12:7 The businessmen love to cheat; 112 

they use dishonest scales. 113 

12:8 Ephraim boasts, 114 I am very rich!

I have become wealthy! 115 

In all that I have done to gain my wealth, 116 

no one can accuse me of any offense 117  that is actually sinful.” 118 

12:9I am the Lord your God 119  who brought you 120  out of Egypt;

I will make you live in tents again as in the days of old. 121 

12:10 I spoke to the prophets;

I myself revealed many visions; 122 

I spoke in parables 123  through 124  the prophets.”

12:11 Is there idolatry 125  in Gilead? 126 

Certainly its inhabitants 127  will come to nothing! 128 

Do they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal?

Surely their altars will be like stones heaped up on a plowed field!

Jacob in Aram, Israel in Egypt, and Ephraim in Trouble

12:12 Jacob fled to the country of Aram,

then Israel worked 129  to acquire a wife;

he tended sheep to pay for her.

12:13 The Lord brought Israel out of Egypt by a prophet,

and due to a prophet 130  Israel 131  was preserved alive. 132 

12:14 But Ephraim bitterly 133  provoked him to anger;

so he will hold him accountable for the blood he has shed, 134 

his Lord 135  will repay him for the contempt he has shown. 136 

Baal Worshipers and Calf Worshipers to be Destroyed

13:1 When Ephraim 137  spoke, 138  there was terror; 139 

he was exalted 140  in Israel,

but he became guilty by worshiping Baal and died.

13:2 Even now they persist in sin! 141 

They make metal images for themselves,

idols that they skillfully fashion 142  from their own silver;

all of them are nothing but the work of craftsmen!

There is a saying about them: 143 

“Those who sacrifice 144  to the calf idol are calf kissers! 145 

13:3 Therefore they will disappear like 146  the morning mist, 147 

like early morning dew that evaporates, 148 

like chaff that is blown away 149  from a threshing floor,

like smoke that disappears through an open window.

Well-Fed Israel Will Be Fed to Wild Animals

13:4 But I am the Lord your God,

who brought you out of Egypt.

Therefore, you must not acknowledge any God but me;

except me there is no Savior.

13:5 I cared 150  for you in the wilderness,

in the dry desert where no water was. 151 

13:6 When they were fed, 152  they became satisfied;

when they were satisfied, they became proud; 153 

as a result, they forgot me!

13:7 So 154  I will pounce on them like a lion; 155 

like a leopard I will lurk by the path.

13:8 I will attack them like a bear robbed of her cubs

I will rip open their chests.

I will devour them there like a lion

like a wild animal would tear them apart.

Israel’s King Unable to Deliver the Nation

13:9 I will destroy you, 156  O Israel!

Who 157  is there to help you?

13:10 Where 158  then is your king,

that he may save you in all your cities?

Where are 159  your rulers for whom you asked, saying,

Give me a king and princes?

13:11 I granted 160  you a king in my anger,

and I will take him away in my wrath!

Israel’s Punishment Will Not Be Withheld Much Longer

13:12 The punishment 161  of Ephraim has been decreed; 162 

his punishment is being stored up for the future.

13:13 The labor pains of a woman will overtake him,

but the baby will lack wisdom;

when the time arrives,

he will not come out of the womb!

The Lord Will Not Relent from the Threatened Judgment

13:14 Will I deliver them from the power of Sheol? No, I will not! 163 

Will I redeem them from death? No, I will not!

O Death, bring on your plagues! 164 

O Sheol, bring on your destruction! 165 

My eyes will not show any compassion! 166 

The Capital of the Northern Empire Will Be Destroyed

13:15 Even though he flourishes like a reed plant, 167 

a scorching east wind will come,

a wind from the Lord rising up from the desert.

As a result, his spring will dry up; 168 

his well will become dry.

That wind 169  will spoil all his delightful foods

in the containers in his storehouse.

13:16 170  Samaria will be held guilty, 171 

because she rebelled against her God.

They will fall by the sword,

their infants will be dashed to the ground –

their 172  pregnant women will be ripped open.

Prophetic Call to Genuine Repentance

14:1 Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,

for your sin has been your downfall! 173 

14:2 Return to the Lord and repent! 174 

Say to him: “Completely 175  forgive our iniquity;

accept 176  our penitential prayer, 177 

that we may offer the praise of our lips as sacrificial bulls. 178 

14:3 Assyria cannot save us;

we will not ride warhorses.

We will never again say, ‘Our gods

to what our own hands have made.

For only you will show compassion to Orphan Israel! 179 

Divine Promise to Relent from Judgment and to Restore Blessings

14:4I will heal their waywardness 180 

and love them freely, 181 

for my anger will turn 182  away from them.

14:5 I will be like the dew to Israel;

he will blossom like a lily,

he will send down his roots like a cedar of 183  Lebanon.

14:6 His young shoots will grow;

his splendor will be like an olive tree,

his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.

14:7 People will reside again 184  in his shade;

they will plant and harvest grain in abundance. 185 

They will blossom like a vine,

and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon.

14:8 O Ephraim, I do not want to have anything to do 186  with idols anymore!

I will answer him and care for him.

I am like 187  a luxuriant cypress tree; 188 

your fruitfulness comes from me! 189 

Concluding Exhortation

14:9 Who is wise?

Let him discern 190  these things!

Who is discerning?

Let him understand them!

For the ways of the Lord are right;

the godly walk in them,

but in them the rebellious stumble.

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