I. ORACLES OF PUNISHMENT
2Hear, O peoples, all of you,
give heed, O earth, and all that is in it!a
Let the Lord GOD be witness against you,
the Lord from his holy temple!*
3For see, the LORD goes out from his placeb
and descending, treads upon the heights of the earth.*
4The mountains melt under him
and the valleys split open,
Like wax before the fire,
like water poured down a slope.
5All this is for the crime of Jacob,
for the sins of the house of Israel.*
What is the crime of Jacob? Is it not Samaria?
And what is the sin of the house of Judah?
Is it not Jerusalem?
6So I will make Samaria a ruin in the field,
a place to plant vineyards;
I will throw its stones into the valley,
and lay bare its foundations.*
7All its carved figures shall be broken to pieces,c
all its wages shall be burned in the fire,
and all its idols I will destroy.
As the wages of a prostitute* it gathered them,
and to the wages of a prostitute they shall return.
8* For this I will lament and wail,
go barefoot and naked;
I will utter lamentation like the jackals,
mourning like the ostriches,d
9For her wound is incurable;
it has come even to Judah.
It has reached to the gate of my people,
even to Jerusalem.
10* Do not announce it in Gath,
do not weep at all;
roll in the dust.e
you who dwell in Shaphir!
The inhabitants of Zaanan
do not come forth from their city.
There is lamentation in Beth-ezel.
It will withdraw its support from you.
12The inhabitants of Maroth
hope for good,
But evil has come down from the LORD
to the gate of Jerusalem.
13Harness steeds to the chariots,
inhabitants of Lachish;
You are the beginning of sin
for daughter Zion,
For in you were found
the crimes of Israel.
14Therefore you must give back the dowry
The houses of Achzib* are a dry stream bed
to the kings of Israel.
15Again I will bring the conqueror to you,
inhabitants of Mareshah;
The glory of Israel shall come
even to Adullam.
16Make yourself bald, cut off your hair,
for the children whom you cherish;
Make yourself bald as a vulture,
for they are taken from you into exile.*
* [1:2] The prophet summons all the peoples to hear the divine accusations against them. What follows in 1:2–3:12 is a series of prophecies of punishment addressed to the capital cities of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, Samaria and Jerusalem. The prophecies indict the leaders and main officials, including prophets. Because of the corruption and selfishness of their leaders, Samaria and Jerusalem will fall to their enemies.
* [1:5] Although the summons (1:2) had been addressed to all people, the Lord speaks against Israel and Judah, identifying their crimes with the respective capital cities of Samaria and Jerusalem. Only Samaria, however, is scheduled for destruction in the announcement of punishment (vv. 6–7).
* [1:6] The punishment of Samaria will be a military disaster such as the one that actually came at the hands of the Assyrian army in 722/721 B.C.
* [1:7] The wages of a prostitute: as often in the prophets, prostitution is a metaphor for idolatry (Hos 1–3; 4:14). They shall return: i.e., Samaria’s idols shall come to nothing just as the wages of a prostitute are counted as nothing.
* [1:10–15] Not all of the cities and villages in this long list can be located with certainty. However, those which can be identified, including the prophet’s hometown, lie southwest of Jerusalem. In the Hebrew, wordplays on the names of these cities abound. The territory involved corresponds to that decimated by the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 701 B.C., during the reign of Hezekiah. Do not weep at all: some commentators and translators understand the Hebrew differently. They argue that the translation “in (unknown place name) weep!” fits the context better.
* [1:14] The houses of Achzib: there is a wordplay here. In the Hebrew, the word translated here as “dry stream bed” is ’achzab; this word is sometimes translated as “deception” or “disappointment.”