Destruction of Idolatrous Cultic Objects
1a Israel is a luxuriant vine
whose fruit matches its growth.
The more abundant his fruit,
the more altars he built;
The more productive his land,
the more sacred pillars* he set up.
2Their heart is false!
Now they will pay for their guilt:
God will break down their altars
and destroy their sacred pillars.
3For now they will say,
“We have no king!*
Since we do not fear the LORD,
the king—what could he do for us?”
4They make promises,
swear false oaths, and make covenants,
While lawsuits sprout
like poisonous weeds* in the furrows of a field!
5The inhabitants of Samaria are afraid
for the calf of Beth-aven;*
Its people mourn for it
and its idolatrous priests wail over it,
—over its glory which has departed from it.b
6It too will be carried to Assyria,
as an offering to the great king.* c
Ephraim will be put to shame,
Israel will be shamed by his schemes.
7Samaria and her king will disappear,
like a twig upon the waters.
8The high places of Aven* will be destroyed,
the sin of Israel;
thorns and thistles will overgrow their altars.
Then they will cry out to the mountains, “Cover us!”
and to the hills, “Fall upon us!”d
War Because of Israel’s Wickedness
9Since the days of Gibeahe
you have sinned, Israel.
There they took their stand;
will war not reach them in Gibeah?
Against a perverse people
10I came and I chastised them;
Peoples will be gathered against them
when I bind them to their two crimes.*
11Ephraim was a trained heifer,
that loved to thresh;
I myself laid a yoke
upon her beautiful neck;
I will make Ephraim break ground, Judah must plow,
Jacob must harrow for himself:
12“Sow for yourselves justice,
reap the reward of loyalty;
Break up for yourselves a new field,f
for it is time to seek the LORD,
till he comes and rains justice upon you.”g
13But you have plowed wickedness,
and eaten the fruit of falsehood.
Because you have trusted in your own power,
and in your many warriors,h
14The clamor of war shall break out among your people
and all your fortresses shall be ravaged
As Salman ravaged Beth-arbel* on the day of war,
smashing mothers along with their children.i
15So it will be done to you, Bethel,
because of your utter wickedness:
At dawn* the king of Israel
will utterly disappear.
* [10:1] Sacred pillars: see note on 3:4.
* [10:3] No king: the instability of the monarchy (7:3–7) and its vassalage to foreign kings (7:8–16) render the monarchy ineffective. The kings do the opposite of what they are supposed to do (10:4).
* [10:4] Lawsuits…like poisonous weeds: the administration of justice, which should have been the mainstay of the people, has in corrupt hands become another instrument of oppression; cf. Am 6:12.
* [10:5] The calf of Beth-aven: see note on 4:15.
* [10:6] The great king: a title used by the Assyrian kings. See also note on 5:13.
* [10:8] Aven: wickedness, first of all at Bethel (v. 5), but also at all the high places.
* [10:10] Two crimes: the allusion is not clear; a possible reference is the outrage described in Jgs 19.
* [10:14] As Salman ravaged Beth-arbel: perhaps Salamanu, king of Moab, mentioned in an inscription of Tiglath-pileser III, after an invasion in Gilead (Transjordan), where there was a Beth-arbel, close to present Irbid.
* [10:15] At dawn: normally the moment of God’s victory over Israel’s enemies, and thus his salvation (Is 17:14; Ps 46:6). Here it is a reversal of this expectation.
d. [10:8] Is 2:10, 19; Lk 23:30; Rev 6:16.