Israel is Guilty of Fertility Cult Worship
1 Israel was a fertile vine
that yielded fruit.
As his fruit multiplied,
he multiplied altars to Baal.
As his land prospered,
they adorned the fertility pillars.
2 Their heart is slipping;
soon they will be punished for their guilt.
The Lord will break their altars;
he will completely destroy their fertility pillars.
The Lord Will Punish Israel by Removing Its Kings
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?”
4 They utter empty words,
taking false oaths and making empty agreements.
Therefore legal disputes sprout up
like poisonous weeds in the furrows of a ploughed field.
The Calf Idol and Idolaters of Samaria Will Be Exiled
5 The inhabitants of Samaria will lament over the calf idol of Beth Aven.
Its people will mourn over it;
its idolatrous priests will wail over it,
because its splendour will be taken from them into exile.
6 Even the calf idol will be carried to Assyria,
as tribute for the great king.
Ephraim will be disgraced;
Israel will be put to shame because of its wooden idol.
7 Samaria and its king will be carried off
like a twig on the surface of the waters.
8 The high places of the “House of Wickedness” 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
9 O Israel, you have sinned since the time of Gibeah,
and there you have remained.
Did not war overtake the evildoers in Gibeah?
10 When I please, I will discipline them;
I will gather nations together to attack them,
to bind them in chains for their two sins.
Fertility Imagery: Ploughing, Sowing, and Reaping
11 Ephraim was a well-trained heifer who loved to thresh grain;
I myself put a fine yoke on her neck.
I will harness Ephraim.
Let Judah plow!
Let Jacob break up the unploughed ground for himself!
12 Sow righteousness for yourselves,
reap unfailing love.
Break up the unploughed ground for yourselves,
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes and showers deliverance on you.
13 But you have ploughed wickedness;
you have reaped injustice;
you have eaten the fruit of deception.
Because you have depended on your chariots;
you have relied on your many warriors.
Bethel Will Be Destroyed Like Beth Arbel
14 The roar of battle will rise against your people;
all your fortresses will be devastated,
just as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle,
when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children.
15 So will it happen to you, O Bethel,
because of your great wickedness!
When that day dawns,
the king of Israel will be destroyed.