The Lord Strengthens Judah and Rescues Ephraim
1Ask the LORD for rain in the spring season,a
the LORD who brings storm clouds, and heavy rains,b
who gives to everyone grain in the fields.
2For the teraphim* have spoken nonsense,c
the diviners have seen false visions;
Deceitful dreams they have told,
empty comfort they have offered.
This is why they wandered like sheep,
wretched, for they have no shepherd.d
3My wrath is kindled against the shepherds,*
and I will punish the leaders.
For the LORD of hosts attends to the flock, the house of Judah,
and will make them like a splendid horse in battle.
4From them will come the tower,
from them the tent peg,
from them the bow of war,
from them every officer.
5Together they will be like warriors,
trampling the mud of the streets in battle.
They will wage war because the LORD is with them,
and will put the horsemen to shame.
6I will strengthen the house of Judah,e
the house of Joseph* I will save;
I will bring them back, because I have mercy on them;
they will be as if I had never cast them off,
for I am the LORD their God, and I will answer them.f
7Then Ephraim will be like a hero,
and their hearts will be cheered as by wine.g
Their children will see and rejoice—
their hearts will exult in the LORD.
8I will whistle for them and gather them in;
for I will redeem them
and they will be as numerous as before.*
9I sowed them among the nations,
yet in distant lands they will remember me;
they will bear their children and return.h
10I will bring them back from the land of Egypt,
and gather them from Assyria.
To the land of Gilead and to Lebanon I will bring them,
until no room is found for them.
11I will cross over to Egypt
and smite the waves of the sea,
and all the depths of the Nile will dry up.
The pride of Assyria will be cast down,
and the scepter of Egypt disappear.
12I will strengthen them in the LORD,i
in whose name they will walk—oracle of the LORD.
* [10:2] Teraphim: household idols or cult objects (see Gn 31:19, 30–35; Jgs 17:5; 1 Sm 19:11–17), or ancestor statuettes (see 2 Kgs 23:24; Hos 3:4).
* [10:3] Against the shepherds: bad leaders or false prophets.
* [10:6] The house of Joseph: represents the Northern Kingdom (Israel), as does Ephraim in v. 7 below.
* [10:8] Gather them in…be as numerous as before: God’s intention is to bring back the exiles and redeem them as at the time of the exodus. This image, resumed in vv. 10–11, anticipates an expanded population, echoes the ancestral promise (Gn 1:22, 28; 9:1, 7; 35:11), and also suggests an awareness of the acute demographic decline of Jews in Palestine in the Persian period.
c. [10:2] 1 Sm 15:23.
h. [10:9] Dt 30:1–3; Bar 2:30–32.