1 ‘Listen to this, you priests! Be careful how you listen, people in Israel! Listen, you that belong to the family of kings! I (God) have decided what to do with you. You have tried to catch people at Mizpah. You were like a net on the ground at Tabor. 2 The people who will not obey me have killed very many people. So I will tell them all that they should not have done it. And I will punish them. 3 I know what the people from Ephraim are like. They cannot hide from me. They live like a prostitute and they have become very bad. 4 Israel's people have done bad things. This makes it impossible for them to return to their God. They are like prostitutes. They do not know the Lord. 5 Israel's people think that they are too good. This is something that has made me angry with them. Their sins cause them to fall. But Judah's people will fall with them. 6 They take their sheep and cows to offer as sacrifices to the Lord. But it does not help them. They cannot find the Lord because he has left them. 7 They have not obeyed the Lord. Their children are not his. They have times when they enjoy themselves at the beginning of every month. But at the beginning of the month I will destroy their fields and they themselves will die.’
5:1There were two places called Mizpah in Israel. One place was in Gilead, east of the Jordan river. The other place was Mizpah in Benjamin's country. The word ‘catch’ means that the leaders tried to take people away from God.
5:1Tabor is a mountain. Perhaps bad things happened there.
5:3Ephraim was the name that people used for the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
5:6Israel's people thought that many sacrifices were important. The people will try to find God, but God has left them.
Judah and Israel will fight each other in a war
5:8A new part of Hosea's book begins here. Very many of these verses are about war. Hosea tells Israel's people that they should prepare for war.
8 ‘Make a noise with the horn in Gibeah!
Make a noise with the trumpet in Ramah!
Shout about war at Beth Aven!
Go into war, men in Benjamin's family!
5:8Gibeah, Ramah and Beth Aven were all near Jerusalem. The war will come from the south of Israel. The people from Benjamin's family lived near the south of Israel.
9 The day will happen. Then I will tell them that they are wrong.
None of Ephraim's people will still be alive.
People in Israel, you can be sure that this will happen.
10 The leaders of Judah are like people who rob. They have robbed land. So I (God) will punish them very much because I am so angry with them.
5:10Hosea has bad things to say about Judah's leaders. He says that they have moved special things. These things showed people where one person's land and another person's land met. To move those things was against God's rules (Deuteronomy 19:14).
11 Israel's people are in trouble because people attack them. Other countries have come as judges. This is because Israel's people wanted help from idols.
12 I (God) will destroy Israel,
as an insect destroys a piece of cloth.
I will destroy Judah,
as water destroys a piece of wood.
13 Ephraim's people saw that they were like a sick man.
Judah's people saw that they were like a man with wounds.
So they went to Assyria for help.
They told their problems to the great king,
but that king cannot bring you health.
5:13Perhaps the great king was Tiglath-Pileser 3rd. We cannot be sure. Judah's people asked Assyria for help after Syria and Israel attacked them in 734 BC.
He cannot stop you hurting.
14 I will attack Ephraim's people like a lion.
I will attack Judah's people like a young lion.
I, the Lord, will break them into pieces.
I will carry them away.
Nobody will be able to save them.
15 One day, the people will accept that they are guilty.
Until then, I will stay in my home.
Then they will come to look for me.
They will try to find me when their troubles are very bad.’