The Sadness of Exile
1 Israel, don’t celebrate like the nations do. Don’t be happy. You acted like a prostitute and left your God. You committed your sexual sin on every threshing floor.
2 But the grain from those threshing floors will not provide enough food for Israel. There will not be enough wine for Israel.
3 The Israelites will not stay in the LORD’S land. Ephraim will return to Egypt. In Assyria they will eat food that they should not eat.
4 They will not be able to give offerings of wine to the LORD. None of their sacrifices will please him. What they offer will be like food eaten at a funeral—whoever eats it will become unclean. They can eat that food for their own hunger, but it cannot be taken into the Lord’s Temple.
5 They will not be able to celebrate the LORD’S feasts or festivals.
6 The people of Israel left because the enemy took everything from them. But Egypt will take the people themselves. Memphis will bury them. Weeds will grow over their silver treasures, and thorns will grow where the Israelites lived.
Israel Rejected the True Prophets
7 The prophet says, “Israel, learn this: The time of punishment has come. The time has come for you to pay for the evil things you did.” But the people of Israel say, “The prophet is a fool. This man with God’s Spirit is crazy.” The prophet says, “You will be punished for your terrible sins. You will be punished for your hate.”
8 God and the prophet are like guards watching over Ephraim, but there are many traps along his way. And people hate the prophet, even in the house of his God.
9 The Israelites have gone deep into ruin as in the time of Gibeah. God will remember the Israelites’ sins, and he will punish them.
Israel Is Ruined by Its Worship of Idols
10 “At the time I, the Lord, found Israel, they were like fresh grapes in the desert. They were like the first figs on a fig tree at the beginning of the season. But when they came to Baal Peor, they changed. So I had to cut them off like rotten fruit. They became like the terrible things that they loved.
The Israelites Will Have No Children
11 “Like a bird, Ephraim’s glory will fly away. There will be no more pregnancies, no more births, and no more babies.
12 But even if the Israelites do raise their children, it will not help, because I will take the children away from them. I will leave them, and they will have nothing but troubles.”
13 I can see that Ephraim is leading his children into a trap. Ephraim will lead his children out to the killer.
14 LORD, give them what you will. Give them a womb that loses babies and breasts that cannot give milk.
15 All their evil is in Gilgal;
I began hating them there.
I will force them to leave my house
because of the evil things they do.
I will not love them anymore.
Their leaders are rebels who turned against me.
16 Ephraim will be punished.
Their root is dying.
They will not have any more babies.
They might give birth to babies,
but I will kill the precious babies who come from their bodies.
17 Those people will not listen to my God,
so he will refuse to listen to them.
And they will wander among the nations without a home.