From Days of Celebration to Days of Punishment
1Do not rejoice, Israel,
do not exult like the nations!
For you have prostituted yourself, abandoning your God,
loving a prostitute’s fee
upon every threshing floor.*
2Threshing floor and wine press will not nourish them,
the new wine will fail them.
3They will not dwell in the LORD’s land;
Ephraim will return to Egypt,
and in Assyria they will eat unclean food.
4They will not pour libations of wine to the LORD,
and their sacrifices will not please him.
Their bread will be like mourners’ bread,* a
that makes unclean all who eat of it;
Their food will be for their own appetites;
it cannot enter the house of the LORD.
5What will you do on the festival day,
the day of the LORD’s feast?*
6* When they flee from the devastation,
Egypt will gather them, Memphis will bury them.
Weeds will overgrow their silver treasures,
and thorns, their tents.
7They have come, the days of punishment!
they have come, the days of recompense!
Let Israel know it!
“The prophet is a fool,b
the man of the spirit is mad!”
Because your iniquity is great,
great, too, is your hostility.
8* The watchman of Ephraim, the people of my God, is the prophet;c
yet a fowler’s snare is on all his ways,
hostility in the house of his God.
9They have sunk to the depths of corruption,
God will remember their iniquity
and punish their sins.
From Former Glory to a History of Corruption
10Like grapes in the desert,
I found Israel;
Like the first fruits of the fig tree, its first to ripen,e
I looked on your ancestors.
But when they came to Baal-peor* f
and consecrated themselves to the Shameful One,
they became as abhorrent as the thing they loved.
11Ephraim is like a bird:
their glory flies away—
no birth, no pregnancy, no conception.g
12Even though they bring up their children,
I will make them childless, until no one is left.
Indeed, woe to them
when I turn away from them!
13Ephraim, as I saw, was a tree
planted in a meadow;
But now Ephraim will bring out
his children to the slaughterer!
14Give them, LORD!
give them what?
Give them a miscarrying womb,
and dry breasts!h
15All their misfortune began in Gilgal;*
yes, there I rejected them.
Because of their wicked deeds
I will drive them out of my house.
I will love them no longer;
all their princes are rebels.
16* Ephraim is stricken,
their root is dried up;i
they will bear no fruit.j
Were they to bear children,
I would slay the beloved of their womb.
17My God will disown them
because they have not listened to him;
they will be wanderers among the nations.k
* [9:1] Threshing floor: an allusion to harvest festivals in honor of Baal, to whom the Israelites had attributed the fertility of the land; cf. 2:7.
* [9:4] Mourners’ bread: bread eaten at funeral rites (Dt 26:14). The presence of a corpse also made all food prepared in that house unclean (Jer 16:5–7).
* [9:5] The LORD’s feast: probably the important autumn feast of Booths, the most important of the Israelite public celebrations (Lv 23:34).
* [9:6] Instead of gathering for celebration (v. 5), they will be gathered for death. Memphis: known for the monumental pyramid tombs. Silver treasures: the silver statues of Baal (8:4).
* [9:8] Prophets, like Hosea himself, are called to be sentinels for Israel, warning Israel of God’s coming wrath (see Ez 3:17; 33:7), but often meet rejection.
* [9:9] The days of Gibeah: the precise allusion is not clear. Perhaps it is a reference to the outrage committed at Gibeah in the days of the judges (Jgs 19–21), or to questions surrounding Saul’s kingship at Gibeah (1 Sm 10:26; 14:2; 22:6).
* [9:10] Baal-peor: where the Israelites consecrated themselves for the first time to Baal (Nm 25; see note on Hos 5:1–2). Baal is here called the Shameful One.
* [9:15] Gilgal: possibly a reference to Saul’s disobedience to Samuel (1 Sm 13:7–14; 15), or to the idolatry practiced in that place (see note on Hos 4:15).
* [9:16] Wordplay on the Hebrew word for “fruit” (peri) and Ephraim (see note on 8:9). The whole passage (vv. 10–17) presents a reversal of Ephraim’s name (Gn 41:52). He will have no fruit, a condition which will result in extinction.
b. [9:7] 2 Kgs 9:11; Jn 10:20.
c. [9:8] Jer 6:17; Ez 3:17; 33:2, 6, 7.
h. [9:14] Jb 3:11–12; Lk 23:29.