1If a man divorces his wifea
and she leaves him
and then becomes the wife of another,
Can she return to the first?*
Would not this land be wholly defiled?
But you have played the prostitute with many lovers,
and yet you would return to me!—oracle of the LORD.
2Raise your eyes to the heights, and look,
where have men not lain with you?
Along the roadways you waited for them
like an Arabian* in the wilderness.
You defiled the land
by your wicked prostitution.b
3Therefore the showers were withheld,
the spring rain did not fall.
But because you have a prostitute’s brow,
you refused to be ashamed.c
4Even now do you not call me, “My father,
you are the bridegroom of my youth?
5Will he keep his wrath forever,
will he hold his grudge to the end?”
This is what you say; yet you do
all the evil you can.
Judah and Israel. 6The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: Do you see what rebellious Israel has done? She has gone up every high mountain, and under every green tree she has played the prostitute.d 7And I thought: After she has done all this, she will return to me. But she did not return. Then, even though that traitor her sister Judah, saw 8that, in response to all the adulteries rebel Israel had committed, I sent her away and gave her a bill of divorce, nevertheless Judah, the traitor, her sister, was not frightened; she too went off and played the prostitute.e 9With her casual prostitution, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and wood.f 10In spite of all this, Judah, the traitor, her sister, did not return to me wholeheartedly, but insincerely—oracle of the LORD.
Restoration of Israel. 11Then the LORD said to me: Rebel Israel is more just than traitor Judah.g 12Go, proclaim these words toward the north, and say:
Return, rebel Israel—oracle of the LORD—
I will not remain angry with you;
For I am merciful, oracle of the LORD,
I will not keep my anger forever.h
13Only admit your guilt:
how you have rebelled against the LORD, your God,
How you ran here and there to strangers
under every green tree
and would not listen to my voice—oracle of the LORD.i
14Return, rebellious children—oracle of the LORD—*
for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city, two from a clan,
and bring you to Zion.j
15I will appoint for you shepherds after my own heart,
who will shepherd you wisely and prudently.k
16When you increase in number and are fruitful in the land—
oracle of the LORD—
They will in those days no longer say,
“The ark of the covenant of the LORD!”
They will no longer think of it, or remember it,
or miss it, or make another one.
17At that time they will call Jerusalem “the LORD’s throne.” All nations will gather together there to honor the name of the LORD at Jerusalem, and they will no longer stubbornly follow their wicked heart.l 18In those days the house of Judah will walk alongside the house of Israel; together they will come from the land of the north to the land which I gave your ancestors as a heritage.m
Conditions for Forgiveness
How I would like to make you my children!
So I gave you a pleasant land,
the most beautiful heritage among the nations!
You would call me, “My Father,” I thought,
and you would never turn away from me.n
20But like a woman faithless to her lover,
thus have you been faithless to me,
house of Israel—oracle of the LORD.o
21A cry is heard on the heights!
the plaintive weeping of Israel’s children,
Because they have perverted their way,
they have forgotten the LORD, their God.
22Return, rebellious children!
I will heal your rebellions.
“Here we are! We belong to you,
for you are the LORD, our God.p
23Deceptive indeed are the hills,
the mountains, clamorous;
Only in the LORD our God
is Israel’s salvation.q
24The shameful thing* has devoured
our ancestors’ worth from our youth,
Their sheep and cattle,
their sons and daughters.
25Let us lie down in our shame,
let our disgrace cover us,
for we have sinned against the LORD, our God,
We and our ancestors, from our youth to this day;
we did not listen to the voice of the LORD, our God.”r
* [3:1] Can she return to the first?: i.e., her first husband. Here the Hebrew is emended in light of the Septuagint and Dt 24:1–4, which forbids a man to take back a woman once he has divorced her. The prophet uses this analogy to illustrate the presumption of Judah, the unfaithful wife, who assumes she can easily return to the Lord after worshiping other gods.
* [3:2] An Arabian: here depicted as a marauder lying in wait for caravans.
* [3:14–18] A remnant of Israel (v. 14) will reunite with Judah (v. 18). The former Israelite community, represented by the ark of the covenant, will be replaced by a universal alliance, symbolized by Jerusalem, the Lord’s throne, to which all nations will be gathered (v. 17).
* [3:24] The shameful thing: Heb. bosheth (“shame”), a term often substituted for the name of Baal, a Canaanite god worshiped at local shrines.
e. [3:8] 2 Kgs 17:6, 18–23; Ez 23:11.
i. [3:13] Jer 2:20, 25; Lv 26:40.
j. [3:14] Jer 23:3; Is 10:21–22.
n. [3:19] Jer 31:9, 20; Is 63:16.