Retribution for Israel's Sin1 Israel was a luxuriant vine, yielding fruit for himself. The more his fruit increased, the more he increased the altars. The better his land produced, the better he made the sacred pillars. 2 Their hearts are devious; now they must bear their guilt. The LORD will break down their altars and demolish their sacred pillars. 3 Surely now they will say, “We have no king, for we do not revere the LORD. What can a king do for us?” 4 They speak mere words; with false oaths they make covenants. So judgment springs up like poisonous weeds in the furrows of a field. 5 The people of Samaria will fear for the calf of Beth-aven. ▼
▼Beth-aven means house of wickedness. This is a derogatory term for Bethel, which means house of GodIndeed, its people will mourn for it with its idolatrous priests— those who rejoiced in its glory— for it has been taken from them into exile . 6 Yes, it will be carried to Assyria as tribute to the great king. ▼
▼Or to King JarebEphraim will be seized with shame and Israel ashamed of its wooden idols. ▼
▼Or of its own counsel7 Samaria will be carried off [with] her king like a twig on the surface of the water. 8 The high places of Aven, ▼
▼Aven is a reference to Beth-aven (a derogatory term for Bethel); see verse 5the sin of Israel, will be destroyed; thorns and thistles will grow over their altars. Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!” and to the hills, “Fall on us!” 9 Since the days of Gibeah you have sinned, O Israel, and there you have remained. Did not the battle in Gibeah overtake the sons of iniquity? ▼
▼Or Did not the battle overtake the sons of iniquity in Gibeah10 I will chasten them when I please; nations will be gathered against them to put them in bondage for their double transgression. 11 Ephraim is a well-trained heifer that loves to thresh; but I will place a yoke on her fair neck. I will harness Ephraim, Judah will plow, [and] Jacob will break the hard ground . 12 Sow for yourselves righteousness and reap the fruit of loving devotion; break up your unplowed ground. For [it is] time to seek the LORD until He comes and sends righteousness upon you like rain. 13 You have plowed wickedness and reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and in the multitude of your mighty men, 14 the roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be demolished as Shalman devastated Beth-arbel in the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to pieces along with their children. 15 Thus it will be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great wickedness. When the day dawns, the king of Israel will be utterly cut off.
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