People of Israel, listen to this message that the Lord has spoken against youall of you, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt. I chose a special relationship* with you alone out of all the families of the earth, and so I will punish you for your wrongdoing. Can two people walk together unless they have arranged to meet? Does a lion roar in the forest before finding its prey? Does a young lion growl from its den if it has caught nothing? Does a bird fall into a trap and get caught unless the spring is set? Does a trap spring shut if there's nothing there to catch? When the trumpet sounds in the city, shouldn't the people be alarmed? When a disaster comes to a city, isn't it the Lord who does it? For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his intentions to his servants the prophets. The lion has roaredso who isn't scared? The Lord God has spokenso who can refuse to speak for him?
Announce this to the fortresses of Ashdod and to the fortresses in the land of Egypt: Assemble yourselves on Samaria's mountains and see all the turmoil and oppression happening in the country. 10 They don't know how to do what is right, declares the Lord. They have stored up in their fortresses what they've taken by violence and robbery.
11 As a result, says the Lord, an enemy will surround you, break down your strongholds, and plunder your fortresses.
12 This is what the Lord says: Just as a shepherd tries to rescue a sheep from a lion's mouth, but only saves a couple of legs or a piece of an ear, so it will be for the people of Israel living in Samariaall that will besavedwill be the corner of a couch and a piece of a leg from a bed.
13 Listen! Warn the house of Jacob, declares the Lord God of power. 14 For on that day I will punish Israel for their sins. I will destroy the altars of Bethel: the corners§ of the altar will be cut off and fall to the ground. 15 I will tear down their winter houses and their summer houses as well, their houses filled with ivory will be ruinedtheir many houses will be destroyed.
* 3:2 The word often translated here as “know” is related to choice and intimacy, not mere knowledge. 3:8 “Speak for him”: or “prophesy.” 3:12 The point being made here is not how little is saved, but nothing is saved except proof of total destruction. A shepherd took the remains of a sheep to the owner to prove how the animal died; otherwise he would have to pay for it himself. Similarly with Israel, it's destruction would be so complete that the only evidence left would only confirm this. § 3:14 Literally, “horns.” If anyone held on to these horns on the corner of an altar they were given sanctuary. By cutting them down the Lord shows that nowhere can be seen as a place of safety.