9
Israel, don't rejoice! Don't celebrate like other nations! For you have practiced prostitution; you have loved a prostitute's wages on every threshing floor of grain.* The threshing floor where grain was processed after harvest was often the place where fertility gods were worshiped in connection with a good harvest. Your threshing floors and winepresses will not feed you; the land will fail to produce your new wine. You will not stay in the Lord's land, instead Ephraim will return to Egypt, and will eat unclean food in Assyria. You won't pour out any drink offerings to the Lord. None of your sacrifices will please him. Your sacrifices will be like food eaten by a person in mourning A person in mourning would have touched a dead body, making them unclean (see Leviticus 21:11, Numbers 19:11 etc.)—all who eat will be unclean. You will eat this food yourselves, but it will not enter the house of the Lord. What are you going to do on the days of your appointed religious feasts, on the days of the festivals of the Lord? This may refer specifically to the special day instituted by Jeroboam I ( 1 Kings 12:32) as a substitute religious observance in the northern shrines, in contrast to the true days given by God that were celebrated in the southern kingdom. Look, they have left because of the destruction: Egypt with gather them, and Memphis will bury them. They gain a “valued possession” for their silver.§ Obviously there is a degree of sarcasm here. By fleeing to Egypt, all they received in return for their payment was ruin and death. Weeds will possess them, and thorns will grow over their tents.
The time of punishment has come; the day of retribution has arrived. Let Israel know! You say* Implied. Clearly this is the view of the people. the prophet is a fool, the man of the Spirit is mad, because your sin and hostility is so great. The watchman over Ephraim is with my God, and a prophet is a birdcatcher's snare on all his ways. Some have seen this as the work of a false prophet, but bearing in my Israel's sinfulness, a true prophet would be regarded by the people as setting snares for them, following the reasoning of the preceding verse. Hatred is in the house of his God for they have corrupted themselves so deeply, as in the time of Gibeah. This alludes to the story of the rape and murder of the Levite's concubine in Judges 19 and on. He will remember their sin; he will punish their wickedness.
10 When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert. When I saw your forefathers it was like seeing early fruit on the fig tree. But when they came to Baal Peor, they gave themselves over to that shameful idol, becoming as filthy as the filthy thing they loved.§ This refers to the incident in Numbers 25 when the people of Israel were seduced by Moabite women into immoral sexual worship of their god. 11 Ephraim! Like a bird that flies away so shall your glory—no births, no pregnancies, no conceptions. 12 Even if they bring up children, I will make sure they do not survive. What a disaster for you when I turn away from you! 13 Ephraim! Just as I saw Tyre planted in a meadow, so too Ephraim will lead out his children to the murderer.* Both Israel and the people of Tyre practiced child sacrifice. Both cities were conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BC. 14 Give them—well, Lord, what should you give them? Give them wombs that miscarry and dry breasts. Since Baal worship centered on fertility, barrenness was a clear punishment, opposite of what fertility gods claimed. 15 All of their evil began at Gilgal, and that's where I began to hate them. I will drive them out of my house because of their wickedness. I will love them no longer; all their leaders are rebels. 16 Ephraim, you are blighted, dried up from the roots. You shall bear no fruit. Even if you have children, I will slaughter your beloved offspring. 17 My God will reject you because you have not listened to him, and you will become homeless wanderers among the nations.

*9:1 The threshing floor where grain was processed after harvest was often the place where fertility gods were worshiped in connection with a good harvest.

9:4 A person in mourning would have touched a dead body, making them unclean (see Leviticus 21:11, Numbers 19:11 etc.)

9:5 This may refer specifically to the special day instituted by Jeroboam I ( 1 Kings 12:32) as a substitute religious observance in the northern shrines, in contrast to the true days given by God that were celebrated in the southern kingdom.

§9:6 Obviously there is a degree of sarcasm here. By fleeing to Egypt, all they received in return for their payment was ruin and death.

*9:7 Implied. Clearly this is the view of the people.

9:8 Some have seen this as the work of a false prophet, but bearing in my Israel's sinfulness, a true prophet would be regarded by the people as setting snares for them, following the reasoning of the preceding verse.

9:9 This alludes to the story of the rape and murder of the Levite's concubine in Judges 19 and on.

§9:10 This refers to the incident in Numbers 25 when the people of Israel were seduced by Moabite women into immoral sexual worship of their god.

*9:13 Both Israel and the people of Tyre practiced child sacrifice. Both cities were conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BC.

9:14 Since Baal worship centered on fertility, barrenness was a clear punishment, opposite of what fertility gods claimed.