Hosea 10

The Lord says that Israel is guilty

1 Israel was like a healthy vine that had lots of grapes.

But as the Israelites became more and more rich,

they built more and more altars.

As their land gave more crops,

they made the pillars that they worshipped more beautiful.

2 They do not truly trust God.

They are guilty and they must receive their punishment.

The Lord will break their altars.

He will destroy their special pillars.

3 Soon these people will say, ‘We did not respect the Lord's authority.

Because of that we have no king.

But even if we had a king now, he could not do anything to help us.’

4 They promise to do many things,

but they never do what they promise.

They make useless agreements.

So people accuse each other in the courts.

They are like weeds that grow in a farmer's field.

5 The people who live in Samaria will be afraid.

They will worry about their image of a calf at Beth Aven.

10:5People worshipped a gold calf at Bethel. Hosea calls Bethel ‘Beth Aven’. Bethel means ‘House of God’ but Beth Aven means ‘House of wicked things’.

They will weep because it will go away from them.

The priests who serve the idol will cry too.

They know that an enemy will take away their great and beautiful idol.

6 Assyria's army will carry the idol away.

10:6Assyria's army will take the idol away when they win the war.

It will be a gift to give honour to Assyria's great king.

Ephraim's people will feel ashamed.

They will be sorry that they trusted in their wooden idol.

7 The people of Samaria and their king will come to an end.

10:7King Hoshea of Israel was put in a prison in 723 BC. See 2 Kings 17:1-6.

They will be like a small stick that water carries away.

8 The wicked altars on the hills will break into pieces.

10:8Assyria destroyed Samaria in 722 BC. Nobody built it again.

These are places where Israel's people have done bad things.

Thorn bushes and weeds will grow all over their altars.

Then the people will say to the mountains, ‘Hide us!’

They will say to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’

The Lord promises to punish Israel

9 The Lord says,

‘People of Israel, you have continued to do bad things,

since the time that you were at Gibeah.

10:9Hosea writes again about what he said in 9:9. Israel's people sinned very badly at the time of Gibeah. They were not able to stop doing this sin.

When the people did evil things at Gibeah,

war destroyed them as a result.

10 When I decide that the time is right,

I will punish the Israelites.

Because of their many sins,

I will bring other nations to attack them.

Their enemies will tie them up with chains.

11 Ephraim was like a cow that I had taught to stamp on grain.

10:11Farmers used cows to stamp on grain, so that the seeds of grain became separate from the chaff.

She loved to work for me.

But now I will make her do hard work!

I will put a heavy yoke on her beautiful neck.

Judah will also have to plough the ground.

Jacob's descendants must work to dig up the hard ground.

10:11Jacob's descendants were the people of Israel. God changed Jacob's name to ‘Israel’.

12 Be like a farmer who plants good seed.

Plant things that are good and right.

Then your harvest will be faithful love.

Plough the hard ground and prepare it for the Lord to bless you.

It is time for you to turn back to the Lord.

Then he will bless you with good things,

like rain that falls on the ground!

13 But instead, you have planted evil things.

So your harvest is terrible trouble.

The food that you eat comes from your lies.

You trusted in your own strength to save you.

You thought that your strong army would keep you safe.

14 So you will soon hear the noise of war.

Enemies will destroy all your strong buildings.

It will be like the time that King Shalman's army destroyed Beth Arbel.

10:14We do not know what happened at Beth-Arbel.

In that battle, cruel soldiers killed mothers together with their children.

15 The same thing will happen to you, people of Bethel,

because of the wicked things that you have done.

10:15Bethel means ‘House of God’ so here it may mean all the people of Israel.

When the day of your punishment arrives,

the king of Israel will surely die.’