1 1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to Hosea son of Beeri, during the reign of Ussiah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah in Judah, and of Jeroboam son of Joash, in Israel.
Take a wife: she will betray you
• 2 When Yahweh began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, take for your wife a woman involved in sacred prostitution and have children born of prostitution, for the land is wholeheartedly lapsing into prostitution and turning away from Yahweh.”
3 So he married Gomer, daughter of Diblaim. And she was with child and bore a son. 4 Yahweh told him, “Name him Jezreel, for I will soon punish the family of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel. I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. 5 The days are coming when Israel will be defeated in the Valley of Jezreel.”
6 Gomer was again with child and gave birth to a daughter. Yahweh said to Hosea, “Name her Unloved, for I will have no more love for the nation of Israel, nor will I forgive them.” (7)
8 After weaning Unloved, Gomer was with child again and had another son. 9 Yahweh said, “Name him Not-my-people, for you are not my people, nor AM-I for you.”
2 • 4 Denounce your mother, denounce
– for she is not my wife,
nor am I her husband.
Let her rid her face of her ornaments
and her breasts of her lewd idols;
5 or I will strip her naked
as on the day of her birth;
I will reduce her to an arid land,
making of her a desert –
I will let her die of thirst.
6 How could I love her children?
They are children of adultery;
7 their mother has played the harlot
they are children of debauchery.
She said, “I will go after my lovers,
who give me my bread and water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.”
10 Yet she would not acknowledge that it was I
who gave her the grain, the wine and the oil,
and the silver and gold
with which this people made their Baals.
11 So I will take back my grain when it ripens
and my new wine when it is ready;
I will take back my wool and my flax
which I gave to cover her nudity.
12 Before her lovers I will lay bare her shame
and no one can rescue her from my power.
13 I will bring an end to all her gladness,
her monthly feasts, sabbaths and celebrations.
14 I will lay waste her vines,
and her fig trees, for she said,
“My lovers gave them to me.”
I will turn them into thickets
to be ravaged by wild beasts.
15 I will punish her for the feast days
when she brought burnt offerings to the Baals,
decked herself with her gaudy jewels,
ran after her lovers and forgot me, says Yahweh.
8 With thorns, therefore, I will block her path,
wall her and not let her find her way out.
9 Pursuing her lovers,
she will not overtake them;
looking for her lovers, she will not find them.
Then she will say, “I will go back to my husband
for I was better off then than now.”
16 So I am going to allure her,
lead her once more into the desert,
where I can speak to her tenderly.
17 Then I will give back her vineyards,
make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will answer me as in her youth,
as when she came out of the land of Egypt.
18 On that day, Yahweh says,
you will call me my husband,
and never again: my Baal.
19 I will take the names of Baals from her lips
and no longer will they be invoked.
20 That day on her behalf I will make a covenant
with beasts of the field and birds of the air,
with creatures creeping upon the ground.
I will wipe out the sword and war in the land;
I will make people rest safe and secure.
21 You will be my spouse forever,
betrothed in justice and integrity;
we will be united in love and tenderness.
22 I will espouse you in faithfulness
and you will come to know Yahweh.
23 This is what Yahweh says of those days,
“I will be at peace with the heavens,
and they will respond to the earth;
24 the earth will respond to the grain, wine and oil,
which will come up to the expectation of Jezreel.
25 I will sow them for myself in the land;
I will show my love to Unloved;
I will say to Not-my-people, “You are my people”;
and they will answer, “You are my God.”
3 1 Yahweh said to me, “Welcome once more this woman who makes love to others. Love her just as Yahweh loves his people who turn to other gods and offer raisin cakes to them.”
2 So I bought her for fifteen pieces of silver and a whole measure of barley. 3 Then I said to her, “You shall stay here with me many days without giving yourself to anyone and without deserting me for another man. And I too will stand aloof.”
4 For the people of Israel shall be for many days without king or ruler, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without divination or household idol.
5 Then the people of Israel shall turn back, looking for Yahweh, their God, and for David, their king. In the last days they will come respectfully to Yahweh and to his blessings.
2 1 Yet the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, that cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” they shall be called “children of the living God.” 2 The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited, they will appoint one leader to rule over them, and they will come up out of the land. For there will be a great victory in Jezreel. 3 You will call your brothers My-people, and your sisters My-loved-ones.
4 • 1 Hear the word of Yahweh, Israel! for Yahweh has an accusation to bring against the inhabitants of this land. There is neither truth nor goodness nor knowledge of God in the country; 2 only perjury, lies, murder, theft and adultery, with continual bloodshed.
3 That is why the country is in mourning with all who live there wasting away; the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, even the fish are dying. 4 But let no one apologize or accuse another, for it is you, priest, whom I single out!
5 You will stumble in broad daylight, and the prophet will fall with you into darkness; I will silence you. 6 My people perish for want of knowledge. As you have dropped the Knowledge, I will drop you from my priesthood, and since you ignore the law of your God, I, too, will ignore your children.
7 All have offended me; they have exchanged me, their Glory, for idols, their shame. 8 Since they eat of the sacrifices for sin, they like my people to sin.
9 Yet it will be for the people as for the priest; I shall punish both for their conduct and repay them for their deeds. 10 They will eat and not be satisfied; they will multiply their prostitutions but remain without child, for they have no reverence for Yahweh. 11 Harlotry, wine and liquors have taken hold of their hearts.
12 My people consult a wooden idol and rely on a rod for information. A spirit of adultery leads them astray and makes them unfaithful to their God. 13 They sacrifice on the mountain tops and offer incense on the hills, under the oak, the poplar and the terebinth, wherever the shade is pleasant.
14 That is why, if your daughters turn to prostitution and your daughters-in-law to adultery, I will not punish them, for you yourselves go off with harlots and sacrifice with temple prostitutes. A senseless people destroys itself.
(15 If Israel is a prostitute, there is no reason for Judah to sin. Do not go to Gilgal or Beth-aven; do not swear, “As Yahweh lives!”)
16 Since Israel is as obstinate as a stubborn cow, will Yahweh pasture it gently as a lamb? 17 Ephraim is devoted to idols, let Yahweh leave him alone! 18 After being drunk with wine they go with prostitutes; they prefer their idols to their Glory. 19 A whirlwind will sweep them away and they will have gained nothing with their sacrifices.
Against the royal officials
5 • 1 Hear this, O priests! and you, people of Israel, pay attention! Hear, officials of the king for you are to be judged. You have been a snare at Mizpah and a net on Tabor, 2 and a deep pit at Shittim, so I am to punish you all.
3 I know what Israel is like; he cannot hide from me. Ephraim is playing the harlot; Israel is a people which defiles itself.
4 Their deeds prevent them from returning to their God; a spirit of prostitution has taken hold of them and they do not know Yahweh. 5 The pride of Israel is witness against him; this people are failing because of their guilt.
6 With their sheep and bulls they will go in search of Yahweh, but they will not find him for he has gone far from them. 7 He found they were unfaithful and their children were not his. So now the destroyer will do away with them and their lands will be devastated.
• 8 Blow the horn at Gibeah, the trumpet at Ramah, raise the battlecry in Beth-aven! For Benjamin has been defeated, 9 the day has come in which Ephraim is ruined. Let the tribes of Israel know that this is about to occur! 10 The princes of Judah are like those who remove border stones and I shall pour out my anger on them like a flood. 11 In the same way those of Ephraim are oppressors and trample justice.
12 I will be like a moth for Ephraim, like rot for Judah. 13 Ephraim saw he was sick and Judah saw his ulcer. Then Ephraim turned to the great King of Assyria for help, but he will not cure you or heal your sores.
14 I will be like a leopard for Ephraim and like a lion for Judah. I will tear them to pieces and leave them. When I carry them off, no one will rescue them. 15 Then I will go away and return to my place until they admit their guilt and come back to me, for in their anguish they will earnestly seek me.
6 • 1 Come, let us return to Yahweh.
He who shattered us to pieces, will heal us as well;
he has struck us down, but he will bind up our wounds.
2 Two days later he will bring us back to life;
on the third day, he will raise us up,
and we shall live in his presence.
3 Let us strive to know Yahweh.
His coming is as certain as the dawn;
5c his judgment will burst forth like the light;
he will come to us as showers come,
like spring rain that waters the earth.
4 O Ephraim, what shall I do with you?
O Judah, how shall I deal with you?
This love of yours is like morning mist,
like morning dew that quickly disappears.
5 This is why I smote you through the prophets,
and have slain you by the words of my mouth.
6 For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice;
it is knowledge of God, not burnt offerings.
• 7 At Adam they broke my covenant; there they were unfaithful to me. 8 Gilead is a city of evildoers, stained with footprints of blood. 9 Like thieves in an ambush, so are the priests; they murder on the road to Shechem and commit adultery. 10 In Bethel I saw their disgraceful conduct; that is where Ephraim played the harlot and was defiled. 11 (For you, too, Judah, I have a harvest stored when I bring back my captive people and heal Israel.)
7 1 The sin of Ephraim appears clearly; the wickedness of Samaria is obvious. They cheat one another, they break into houses while bandits raid outside. 2 They do not realize that I am mindful of their evil deeds. They are engulfed by their sins which are always before me. 3 They amuse the king with their wickedness and the officials with their trickery. 4 They are and remain adulterers, like an oven heated by a baker; he has not to stir the fire from the time the dough is kneaded until it rises.
5 On the day of the king his officials get drunk and the king joins hands with the revelers. 6 In their plotting they burn like an oven; all night their anger smolders and in the morning blazes like a fire. 7 They are all heated like an oven and they devour their own rulers; all their kings fall but none of them calls on me for help.
8 Ephraim mixes with other nations. He is like a half-baked loaf; 9 the nations around him consume his strength but he is unaware of it. He has become old and he does not know it.
10 Israel’s arrogance is witness against him but even so they will not turn back to Yahweh, their God, or search for him. 11 Ephraim is like a silly pigeon, now calling on Egypt, now turning to Assyria. 12 But wherever they turn I shall throw my net over them for they rebelled against me and they will fall like birds.
13 Woe to them who fled far from me; disgrace will fall on those who deceived me. I wanted to redeem them but they spoke evil of me. 14 They did not call on me sincerely when they groaned on their beds because of their wheat and wine and turned to me.
15 When I made them successful and strong, they plotted evil against me. 16 Now they turn to nothingness. They are deceptive as a twisted bow. Their leaders will fall by the sword because of their insolent talk; in the land of Egypt, people will make fun of them.
8 • 1 Sound the trumpet, sentry! Warn the people of Yahweh because they have broken my covenant and are unfaithful to my Law. 2 They cry to me, “We, Israel, acknowledge you, O God.” 3 But Israel rejected what is right and this is why the enemy will hunt them down. 4 Without my approval they set up kings and without my blessing appointed leaders. With their silver and gold they fashioned idols to their own ruin.
5 To me, Samaria, your calf is loathsome and my anger blazes against you. How long will you remain defiled? 6 The calf is yours, Israel, a craftsman has made it; it is not God and will be broken into pieces. 7 As they sow the wind, they will reap the whirlwind. Like the erect ear of corn they will bear no grain and produce no flour, or if they do, foreigners will devour it.
8-9 Israel lived apart as a wild donkey, but he was eaten up. Now they are among pagans as a worthless object. Ephraim went to Assyria with gifts. 10 Now they have been given up to the nations and I shall gather them. For in no time they have been left with no prophets, or kings, or leaders.
• 11 Ephraim built many altars but his altars made him more guilty. 12 I wrote out for him the numerous precepts of my Law, but they look on them as coming from foreigners.
13 They offer sacrifices to me because they are those who eat the meat, but Yahweh does not accept their sacrifices for he is mindful of their sin and remembers their wickedness. They will return to Egypt.
14 Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces, but I will set fire to their towns and burn their palaces.
The exile is foretold
9 1 Do not rejoice and celebrate, Israel, like other nations, for you have deserted your God. You are fond of prostitution gifts and run to every threshing floor where there is wheat. 2 This is why threshing floors and vats will not feed you; new wine will disappoint you. 3 No longer will you remain in Yahweh’s land. Ephraim will return to Egypt – in fact to Assyria, where they will eat unclean food.
4 No more will they be able to pour out the wine offering for Yahweh and no longer will they sacrifice to him. They will have only bread for mourners; all who eat it will be defiled. This food will be for themselves and it will not be taken into the house of Yahweh.
5 What shall you do on the feast? You will leave but not for the pilgrimage to Yahweh; rather you will flee because of the invaders. 6 Egypt will gather you and Memphis entomb you. Nettles will take over your treasures of silver and thorns creep over your tents.
7 The time of punishment has come, the day of retribution is here. The Israelites will know it. The prophets will go out of their mind; the seers will become like mad men because your defeat will be as great as your sins have been.
8 Ephraim watches before my God; his prophets try to stop the enemy on every path to protect the house of their gods. 9 Yet they are as corrupted as they were long ago in Gibeah. Yahweh will remember their wickedness and punish their sin.
10 I found Israel like wild grapes in the desert, I saw your ancestors like the first fruits on a fig tree. But no sooner had they come to Baal-peor than they gave themselves to the idol; and they became as worthless as their dirty god. 11 The glory of Ephraim will flee away like a bird; it has died stillborn, miscarried, not even conceived. 12 Had they brought out children, I would take them off before they were adults, for woe to them when I abandon them!
13 I have seen that Ephraim will make his sons like a game; he will send his sons to be slaughtered. 14 Give them, Yahweh, what you will; give them wombs that miscarry and breasts that are dry.
15 It is at Gilgal that their wickedness is seen. There I hated them. I will expel them from my House because of their evil conduct. I will love them no longer for all their leaders are rebels. 16 Ephraim is blighted; his root is withered; he will produce no fruit. Even when they are with child, the child will die in the womb. 17 My God will reject them because they did not listen; he will make them wander among the nations.
10 1 Israel was a spreading vine, rich in fruit. The more his fruit increased, the more altars he built; the more his land prospered, the more he adorned his sacred stones.
2 Their heart is divided! They shall pay for it. Their altars will be thrown down and their sacred stones broken to pieces.
3 Now they say, “We have no king (because we have no fear of God) and what good would a king do us?” 4 Let them speak like this, take an oath and make covenants! Their sentence is growing like weeds in a plowed field.
5 The people of Samaria tremble for their idols of Bethel; they mourn for their calf as do the priests who were so proud of it. 6 The glorious idol has been taken far away, carried off to Assyria as a tribute to the great king. Ephraim will reap the shame of this; the people of Israel will be disgraced. 7 As for the king of Samaria, he has been carried off like foam on water.
8 The idolatrous high places – the sin of Israel – will be destroyed. Thorn and thistle will creep over the altars. Then they will say to the mountains: “Cover us,” and to the hills: “Fall on us.”
9 Since the days of Gibeah you have sinned and rebelled, Israel. Will not the battle against the evildoers of Gibeah overtake you again? 10 I shall come and punish you, gathering the nations against you because of your double sin.
Admonition and call to conversion
11 Ephraim is a well-trained heifer fond of threshing; on her neck I shall place a yoke; Ephraim will be harnessed and plowed; the nation of Jacob will break the clods.
12 Plow new ground, sow for yourselves justice and reap the harvest of kindness. It is the time to go seeking Yahweh until he comes to rain salvation on you.
13 For your part you planted wickedness, reaped evil and ate the fruit of falsehood. When you rely on your own strength and your many warriors, confusion will overcome your people. 14 See, your fortresses are destroyed as when Shalman devastated Beth-arbel; all was crushed. 15 That is what will happen to you, people of Israel, because of your great evil. The storm will blow away the king of Israel.
I called my son out of Egypt
11 • 1 I loved Israel when he was a child; out of Egypt I called my son. 2 But the more I have called, the further have they gone from me – sacrificing to the Baals, burning incense to the idols.
3 Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; yet little did they realize that it was I who cared for them. 4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with leading strings of love, and I became for them as one who eases the yoke upon their neck and stoops down to feed them.
5 If they refuse to return to me, they will have to go back to Egypt and be ruled by an Assyrian king. 6 Swords will flash in their cities, slaughtering their sons, putting an end to all their plans.
7 They insist on turning away from me; they cry out because the yoke is upon them and no one lifts it. 8 How can I give you up, Ephraim? Can I abandon you like Admah or make you like Zeboiim? My heart is troubled within me and I am moved with compassion. 9 I will not give vent to my great anger; I will not return to destroy Ephraim for I am God and not human. I am the Holy One in your midst and I do not want to come to you in anger.
10 You will follow Yahweh when he roars like a lion. When he roars his sons will come trembling from the west; 11 they will come with fear like sparrows from Egypt, like doves from Assyria. For I will bring them to their homes again.
12 1 Ephraim has surrounded me with lies; Israel comes to me with deceit. They follow Baal and run after the sanctuaries. 2 Ephraim feeds on wind, forever chasing the east wind, always more given to falsehood and violence. They have made a treaty with Assyria and brought oil to Egypt.
3 Yahweh has brought Jacob to trial. He will call him to account for his ways and repay his deeds.
4 In the womb he supplanted his brother and later he struggled with God, battling until he got the better of the angel. 5 The angel, in fact, wept and pleaded with him! He met him at Bethel and there he spoke to him. 6 (Yahweh, the God of armies, Yahweh is his Name.)
7 You must return to your God, practice love and justice and trust in your God.)
8 Canaan has dishonest scales and likes to cheat. 9 Ephraim boasts, “I have become rich and possess a fortune.” Yet he will be left with nothing of what he has treasured for he was doing wrong.
10 I am Yahweh, your God, since the days of Egypt; I will have you live in tents again as in the days of Meeting. 11 Then I will speak to the prophets, give them many visions and teach you through their parables.
12 The people of Gilead are wicked; they are false. They offered sacrifices to bulls in Gilgal. This is why their altars will become ruins on a plowed field.
13 Jacob fled to the plains of Aram; Israel served to have a wife, and for her sake he cared for sheep. 14 Yahweh, in turn brought Israel out of Egypt through a prophet; by means of this prophet he cared for them. 15 Ephraim, nevertheless, angered him bitterly. The Lord will bring down on him the blood he shed and repay him for his contempt.
13 1 When Ephraim spoke all trembled; he was powerful in Israel but became guilty of Baal worship and ruined himself. 2 They now continue to sin and make images from molten metal, fashioning idols from silver, the work of craftsmen. And they call them God! They offer sacrifices to them and humans adore calves! 3 That is why they will be like morning mist and like dew which does not last, like the straw swept away on the threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window.
4 But I am Yahweh, your God who brought you out of Egypt; you have no God other than me and no savior but me.
5 I knew you in the desert, in a land of scorching heat. 6 When they had food they were satisfied and when they were satisfied they became proud and no longer remembered me. 7 So I became for them like a leopard, like a tiger I watched out for them, 8 and attacked them with the fury of a bear that has lost its cubs. I tore out their heart and like a lion I devoured them; like a savage beast I tore them apart.
9 Israel, you had in me a helper, will I be now your destroyer? 10 Where is your king that he may rescue your cities? Where are your rulers about whom you said, “Give us a king and commanders.” 11 So in my anger I gave you a king and in my fury I took him away.
12 The wickedness of Ephraim is deep-set; his sin is stored up. 13 The pangs of woman in labor come upon him. But the child is capricious. When it is time he does not leave the womb.
14 Will I ransom them from the power of the netherworld? Will I rescue them from death? Not at all! Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O netherworld, is your venom? Yet my eyes will not look with compassion 15 on the one who excelled among his brothers. Yahweh will send the east wind from the desert to dry up his sources of water and parch his fountains, to strip him of all his treasures.
14 1 Samaria is guilty for she rebelled against her God. They will fall by the sword, their little ones will be crushed and women with child ripped open.
• 2 Return to your God Yahweh, O Israel!
Your sins have caused your downfall.
3 Return to Yahweh with humble words. Say to him,
“Oh you who show compassion to the fatherless
forgive our debt, be appeased.
Instead of bulls and sacrifices,
accept the praise from our lips.
4 Assyria will not save us:
no longer shall we look for horses
nor ever again shall we say ‘Our gods’
to the work of our hands.”
5 I will heal their wavering
and love them with all my heart
for my anger has turned from them.
6 I shall be like dew to Israel
like the lily will he blossom.
Like a cedar he will send down his roots;
7 his young shoots will grow and spread.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
his fragrance, like a Lebanon cedar.
8 They will dwell in my shade again,
they will flourish like the grain,
they will blossom like a vine,
and their fame will be like Lebanon wine.
9 What would Ephraim do with idols,
when it is I who hear and make him prosper?
I am like an ever-green cypress tree;
all your fruitfulness comes from me.
10 Who is wise enough to grasp all this?
Who is discerning and will understand?
Straight are the ways of Yahweh:
the just walk in them, but the sinners stumble.