When Ephraim spoke, they were feared, for they were the leading tribe in Israel. But when they were guilty of Baal worship, they died. Now they constantly sin, making for themselves idols from molten metal. All of these idols are skillfully made from silver by their craftsmen. “Offer sacrifices to these idols,” say the people. “Kiss the bull calf idols.” Consequently they will be like the morning mist, like early morning dew, like chaff blowing away from the threshing floor, like smoke from a chimney.
Yet I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt. You shall know* no other gods but me. None can save you except me. I looked after you in the wilderness; in that dry desert land it was like pasture to them and they were satisfied. But when they were satisfied they became arrogant, and they forgot me. So I will be like a lion to them, like a leopard I will lie in wait beside the path. I will be like a mother bear whose cubs have been taken, I will rip out their hearts. I shall devour them like a lion, like a wild beast I will tear them apart. You have destroyed yourselves, Israel, for your only help is in me. 10 Where then is your king? Let him save you in all your cities! Where are your leaders who demanded a king and princes from me? 11 In my anger I give you a king, and in my fury I take one.§
12 Ephraim's guilt is packed up; their sin will be eradicated.* 13 The pain of childbirth has come to them, trying to give birth to a son who is notwisebecause he is not in the right position when the time comes.
14 I shall redeem them from the power of Sheol; I shall deliver them from death. Where, death, are your plagues? Where, Sheol, is your destruction? Compassion is hidden from my sight.
15 Even though they flourish among the reeds, an east wind will come, a wind from the Lord that rises in the desert will dry up their springs and their wells will fail. It will rob from their treasury everything of value.
16 Samaria will have to bear the consequences of their guilt, because they rebelled against her God. They will be slaughtered by the sword; their children will be dashed to the ground; their pregnant women will be ripped open.
* 13:4 A variation of the Ten Commandments with “know” replacing “have” (Exodus 20:3). This change is significant in that the word “know” carries overtones of intimate relations, and can be linked to the erotic nature of Baal worship. Israel should not be “knowing” Baal but the true God. 13:5 “It was like pasture to them,” or “I fed them.” 13:6 See the warning that this could happen in Deuteronomy 8:11-14. § 13:11 The verb forms used here are not past tense, so the usual translation referring back to God's provision of king Saul in response to the people's demands is problematic here. Since Hosea is dealing with the present situation of the northern kingdom, one interpretation is that the king God is giving is the king of Assyria, and the one he is taking is the king of Israel. Though in the previous verse God does mention the people's previous demand for a king, he begins that verse with the current question, “Where then is your king?” * 13:12 “Eradicated”: literally, “concealed.” What Hosea seems to be saying is that Israel's sins have come to the point that God has to take action by eliminating the problem by allowing invasion and exile. The worship of Baal has to be ended (“concealed”—but not in sense of it being simply hidden away and continuing). 13:13 This could refer to the problems of a breech baby delivery in which both mother and baby could potentially die. 13:15 Or “brothers.”