Hear this, you priests! Pay attention, house of Israel! Listen, members of the royal family! Judgment belongs with you* because you have been a snare set at Mizpah and a net spread out on Tabor. You dug a deep trap in Shittim, but I will punish you for all these things you have done. I know Ephraim very well, and Israel cannot hide from me, for now Ephraim is a prostitute and Israel is defiled. Your actions stop you from coming back to your God for a spirit of prostitution is within you and you do not know the Lord. Israel's pride speaks against them, right in the face. Israel and Ephraim will stumble because of their guilt, and Judah will stumble along with them. They will go to seek the Lord with their herds and flocks,§ but they will not find him, for he has given up on them. They have been unfaithful to the Lord and have had children that are not his.* Now the New Moon will destroy them along with their fields.
Blow the horn in Gibeah! Sound the trumpet in Ramah! Shout an alarm in Beth-aven! Lead the way, Benjamin! Ephraim will be left desolate on the day of punishment. Among the tribes of Israel I will reveal what is the real truth. 10 The rulers of Judah have become thieves like those who illegally move boundaries. I will pour out my anger like water upon them.§ 11 The people of Ephraim are crushed, smashed to pieces in judgment because they were determined to follow human commands.* 12 I am like a maggot to Ephraim, and like something rotten to the people of Judah.
13 When Ephraim saw how sick they were, and Judah saw how wounded they were, Ephraim turned to the great king of Assyria for help, but he could not heal them or cure their wounds. 14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a fierce lion to the people of Judah. I will come and tear them to pieces, and carry them off, and no one will be able to rescue them. 15 Then I will leave and return to where I came from until they acknowledge their wrongs, and in their distress they will seek my face and beg for my help.”
* 5:2 The phrase is literally “for you the judgment” and so is ambiguous. It could simply mean that God's judgment is against these leaders; but it could also mean that the power of judgment belongs to them and they have not exercised this authority wisely. 5:2 Both Mizpah and Mt. Tabor had particular historical significance for Israel but are now sites of degradation. 5:2 Shittim was the last place the Israelites camped before crossing the Jordan (Numbers 25). § 5:6 The mention of herds and flocks indicate that the people were using many sacrifices and offerings, thinking God would be pleased. However, theirs is not a true worship, but is more like pagan worship trying to appease the deity. * 5:7 The word used here of the children is that they are “foreign”—meaning that they are both illegitimate and also the offspring of “foreign” gods. 5:7 Various explanations of this sentence have been given. The observance of new Moon festivals was part of Israelite worship but had become corrupted (see for example Is. 1:13) so this could be now taken as a symbol for pagan worship. In addition the northern kingdom under Jeroboam had instituted different festivals which were not ordained of God (see 1 Kings 12:33). The main point is the corrupting influence of pagan beliefs on the genuine worship of the true God. 5:8 The three places mentioned are on the northern border between Judah and Israel in the territory of the southern tribe of Benjamin. § 5:10 See a similar image in Isaiah 8:5-10 describing the end of the northern kingdom at the hands of the Assyrians. * 5:11 This verse has been linked to the decision of King Menahem of Israel's decision to agree to a huge payment in silver to the Assyrian king as a means of avoiding conflict (see 2 Kings 15:19-20). Others have thought the “human commands” are Jeroboam's institution of calves as images to worship (1 Kings 12). Alternatively the end of this verse could also be translated “determined to follow idolatry.”