When I would have restored the fortunes of my people,
1when I would have healed Israel,
The guilt of Ephraim was revealed,
the wickedness of Samaria:
They practiced falsehood.
Thieves break in,
bandits roam outside.
2Yet they do not call to mind
that I remember all their wickedness.a
Now their crimes surround them,
present to my sight.b
Israel’s Domestic Politics*
3With their wickedness they make the king rejoice,
the princes too, with their treacherous deeds.
4They are all adulterers,*
like a blazing oven,
Which the baker quits stoking,
after the dough’s kneading until its rising.
5On the day of our king,
they made the princes sick with poisoned wine;
he extended his hand to the scoffers.
6For they draw near in ambush
with their hearts like an oven.
All the night their anger sleeps;
in the morning it flares like a blazing fire.
7They are all heated like ovens,
and consume their rulers.
All their kings have fallen;
none of them calls upon me.
Israel’s Foreign Politics
8Ephraim is mixed with the nations,*
Ephraim is an unturned cake.
9Strangers have consumed his strength,
but he does not know it;c
Gray hairs are strewn on his head,
but he takes no notice of it.
10The arrogance of Israel bears witness against him;
yet they do not return to the LORD, their God,
nor seek him, despite all this.d
11Ephraim is like a dove,
silly and senseless;
They call upon Egypt,
they go to Assyria.
12When they go I will spread my net around them,
like birds in the air I will bring them down.e
I will chastise them when I hear of their assembly.
13Woe to them, for they have strayed from me!
Ruin to them, for they have rebelled against me!
Though I wished to redeem them,
they spoke lies against me.
14They have not cried to me from their hearts
when they wailed upon their beds;
For wheat and wine they lacerated themselves;*
they rebelled against me.
15Though I trained and strengthened their arms,
yet they devised evil against me.
16They have again become useless,
they have been like a treacherous bow.f
Their princes shall fall by the sword
because of the insolence of their tongues;
thus they shall be mocked in the land of Egypt.
* [7:3–7] This passage perhaps refers to a conspiracy at the royal court. Between the death of Jeroboam II (743 B.C.) and the fall of Samaria (722/721), nearly all the kings were murdered (2 Kgs 15:10, 14, 25, 30).
* [7:4] Adulterers: the unfaithful nobles who kill the king. Their passion is compared to the fire of the oven. The point of the metaphor is that, like this oven whose fire is always ready to blaze up again, the conspirators are always ready for rebellion.
* [7:8] Is mixed with the nations: the people reject exclusive allegiance to the Lord, and they now try to find their salvation in alliances with foreign nations. An unturned cake: burnt on one side, but not baked at all on the other, and thus worthless.
* [7:14] Lacerated themselves: a ritual to obtain a good harvest from Baal (2:7–10; 1 Kgs 18:28; Jer 16:6; 41:5). This practice was forbidden (Lv 19:28; Dt 14:1).