Hosea's Unfaithful Wife and Her Children
1 1 This is God's Message to Hosea son of Beeri. It came to him during the royal reigns of Judah's kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. This was also the time that Jeroboam son of Joash was king over Israel. This Whole Country Has Become a Whorehouse
2 The first time God spoke to Hosea he said: "Find a whore and marry her. Make this whore the mother of your children. And here's why: This whole country has become a whorehouse, unfaithful to me, God." 3 Hosea did it. He picked Gomer daughter of Diblaim. She got pregnant and gave him a son. 4 Then God told him: "Name him Jezreel. It won't be long now before I'll make the people of Israel pay for the massacre at Jezreel. I'm calling it quits on the kingdom of Israel. 5 Payday is coming! I'm going to chop Israel's bows and arrows into kindling in the valley of Jezreel." 6 Gomer got pregnant again. This time she had a daughter. God told Hosea: "Name this one No-Mercy. I'm fed up with Israel. I've run out of mercy. There's no more forgiveness. 7 Judah's another story. I'll continue having mercy on them. I'll save them. It will be their God who saves them, Not their armaments and armies, not their horsepower and manpower."
8 After Gomer had weaned No-Mercy, she got pregnant yet again and had a son. 9 God said: "Name him Nobody. You've become nobodies to me, and I, God, am a nobody to you. 10 "But down the road the population of Israel is going to explode past counting, like sand on the ocean beaches. In the very place where they were once named Nobody, they will be named God's Somebody. 11 Everybody in Judah and everybody in Israel will be assembled as one people. They'll choose a single leader. There'll be no stopping them - a great day in Jezreel!
The LORD's Love for His Unfaithful People
2 1 Rename your brothers 'God's Somebody.' Rename your sisters 'All Mercy.' Wild Weekends and Unholy Holidays 2 "Haul your mother into court. Accuse her! She's no longer my wife. I'm no longer her husband. Tell her to quit dressing like a whore, displaying her breasts for sale. 3 If she refuses, I'll rip off her clothes and expose her, naked as a newborn. I'll turn her skin into dried-out leather, her body into a badlands landscape, a rack of bones in the desert. 4 I'll have nothing to do with her children, born one and all in a whorehouse. 5 Face it: Your mother's been a whore, bringing bastard children into the world. She said, 'I'm off to see my lovers! They'll wine and dine me, Dress and caress me, perfume and adorn me!'
6 But I'll fix her: I'll dump her in a field of thistles, then lose her in a dead-end alley. 7 She'll go on the hunt for her lovers but not bring down a single one. She'll look high and low but won't find a one. Then she'll say, 'I'm going back to my husband, the one I started out with. That was a better life by far than this one.' 8 She didn't know that it was I all along who wined and dined and adorned her, That I was the one who dressed her up in the big-city fashions and jewelry that she wasted on wild Baal-orgies. 9 I'm about to bring her up short: No more wining and dining! Silk lingerie and gowns are a thing of the past. 10 I'll expose her genitals to the public. All her fly-by-night lovers will be helpless to help her. 11 Party time is over. I'm calling a halt to the whole business, her wild weekends and unholy holidays. 12 I'll wreck her sumptuous gardens and ornamental fountains, of which she bragged, 'Whoring paid for all this!' They will soon be dumping grounds for garbage, feeding grounds for stray dogs and cats. 13 I'll make her pay for her indulgence in promiscuous religion - all that sensuous Baal worship And all the promiscuous sex that went with it, stalking her lovers, dressed to kill, And not a thought for me." God's Message! To Start All Over Again
14 "And now, here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to start all over again. I'm taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I'll court her. 15 I'll give her bouquets of roses. I'll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope. She'll respond like she did as a young girl, those days when she was fresh out of Egypt. 16 "At that time" - this is God's Message still - "you'll address me, 'Dear husband!' Never again will you address me, 'My slave-master!' 17 I'll wash your mouth out with soap, get rid of all the dirty false-god names, not so much as a whisper of those names again. 18 At the same time I'll make a peace treaty between you and wild animals and birds and reptiles, And get rid of all weapons of war. Think of it! Safe from beasts and bullies! 19 And then I'll marry you for good - forever! I'll marry you true and proper, in love and tenderness. 20 Yes, I'll marry you and neither leave you nor let you go. You'll know me, God, for who I really am. 21 "On the very same day, I'll answer" - this is God's Message - "I'll answer the sky, sky will answer earth, 22 Earth will answer grain and wine and olive oil, and they'll all answer Jezreel. 23 I'll plant her in the good earth. I'll have mercy on No-Mercy. I'll say to Nobody, 'You're my dear Somebody,' and he'll say 'You're my God!'"
Hosea and the Adulteress
3 1 hen God ordered me, "Start all over: Love your wife again, your wife who's in bed with her latest boyfriend, your cheating wife. Love her the way I, God, love the Israelite people, even as they flirt and party with every god that takes their fancy." 2 I did it. I paid good money to get her back. It cost me the price of a slave. 3 Then I told her, "From now on you're living with me. No more whoring, no more sleeping around. You're living with me and I'm living with you." 4 The people of Israel are going to live a long time stripped of security and protection, without religion and comfort, godless and prayerless. 5 But in time they'll come back, these Israelites, come back looking for their God and their David-King. They'll come back chastened to reverence before God and his good gifts, ready for the End of the story of his love.
The LORD's Controversy with Israel
4 1 Attention all Israelites! God's Message! God indicts the whole population: "No one is faithful. No one loves. No one knows the first thing about God. 2 All this cussing and lying and killing, theft and loose sex, sheer anarchy, one murder after another! 3 And because of all this, the very land itself weeps and everything in it is grief-stricken - animals in the fields and birds on the wing, even the fish in the sea are listless, lifeless. 4 "But don't look for someone to blame. No finger pointing! You, priest, are the one in the dock. 5 You stumble around in broad daylight, And then the prophets take over and stumble all night. Your mother is as bad as you.
6 My people are ruined because they don't know what's right or true. Because you've turned your back on knowledge, I've turned my back on you priests. Because you refuse to recognize the revelation of God, I'm no longer recognizing your children. 7 The more priests, the more sin. They traded in their glory for shame. 8 They pig out on my people's sins. They can't wait for the latest in evil. 9 The result: You can't tell the people from the priests, the priests from the people. I'm on my way to make them both pay and take the consequences of the bad lives they've lived. 10 They'll eat and be as hungry as ever, have sex and get no satisfaction. They walked out on me, their God, for a life of rutting with whores. They Make a Picnic Out of Religion 11 "Wine and whiskey leave my people in a stupor.
12 They ask questions of a dead tree, expect answers from a sturdy walking stick. Drunk on sex, they can't find their way home. They've replaced their God with their genitals. 13 They worship on the tops of mountains, make a picnic out of religion. Under the oaks and elms on the hills they stretch out and take it easy. Before you know it, your daughters are whores and the wives of your sons are sleeping around. 14 But I'm not going after your whoring daughters or the adulterous wives of your sons. It's the men who pick up the whores that I'm after, the men who worship at the holy whorehouses - a stupid people, ruined by whores! 15 "You've ruined your own life, Israel - but don't drag Judah down with you! Don't go to the sex shrine at Gilgal, don't go to that sin city Bethel, Don't go around saying 'God bless you' and not mean it, taking God's name in vain. 16 Israel is stubborn as a mule. How can God lead him like a lamb to open pasture? 17 Ephraim is addicted to idols. Let him go. 18 When the beer runs out, it's sex, sex, and more sex. Bold and sordid debauchery - how they love it! 19 The whirlwind has them in its clutches. Their sex-worship leaves them finally impotent.
The Punishment for Israel's Apostasy
5 1 "Listen to this, priests! Attention, people of Israel! Royal family - all ears! You're in charge of justice around here. But what have you done? Exploited people at Mizpah, ripped them off on Tabor, 2 Victimized them at Shittim. I'm going to punish the lot of you. 3 "I know you, Ephraim, inside and out. Yes, Israel, I see right through you! Ephraim, you've played your sex-and-religion games long enough. All Israel is thoroughly polluted. 4 They couldn't turn to God if they wanted to. Their evil life is a bad habit. Every breath they take is a whore's breath. They wouldn't recognize God if they saw me. 5 "Bloated by arrogance, big as a house, they're a public disgrace, The lot of them - Israel, Ephraim, Judah - lurching and weaving down their guilty streets. 6 When they decide to get their lives together and go off looking for God once again, They'll find it's too late. I, God, will be long gone. 7 They've played fast and loose with me for too long, filling the country with their bastard offspring. A plague of locusts will devastate their violated land.
8 "Blow the ram's horn shofar in Gibeah, the bugle in Ramah! Signal the invasion of Sin City! Scare the daylights out of Benjamin! 9 Ephraim will be left wasted, a lifeless moonscape. I'm telling it straight, the unvarnished truth, to the tribes of Israel. 10 "Israel's rulers are crooks and thieves, cheating the people of their land, And I'm angry, good and angry. Every inch of their bodies is going to feel my anger. 11 "Brutal Ephraim is himself brutalized - a taste of his own medicine! He was so determined to do it his own worthless way. 12 Therefore I'm pus to Ephraim, dry rot in the house of Judah. 13 "When Ephraim saw he was sick and Judah saw his pus-filled sores, Ephraim went running to Assyria, went for help to the big king. But he can't heal you. He can't cure your oozing sores. 14 "I'm a grizzly charging Ephraim, a grizzly with cubs charging Judah. I'll rip them to pieces - yes, I will! No one can stop me now. I'll drag them off. No one can help them.
The Insincerity of Israel's Repentance
15 Then I'll go back to where I came from until they come to their senses. When they finally hit rock bottom, maybe they'll come looking for me."
6 1 "Come on, let's go back to God. He hurt us, but he'll heal us. He hit us hard, but he'll put us right again. 2 In a couple of days we'll feel better. By the third day he'll have made us brand-new, Alive and on our feet, fit to face him. 3 We're ready to study God, eager for God-knowledge. As sure as dawn breaks, so sure is his daily arrival. He comes as rain comes, as spring rain refreshing the ground."
4 "What am I to do with you, Ephraim? What do I make of you, Judah? Your declarations of love last no longer than morning mist and predawn dew. 5 That's why I use prophets to shake you to attention, why my words cut you to the quick: To wake you up to my judgment blazing like light. 6 I'm after love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings. 7 You broke the covenant - just like Adam! You broke faith with me - ungrateful wretches! 8 "Gilead has become Crime City - blood on the sidewalks, blood on the streets. 9 It used to be robbers who mugged pedestrians. Now it's gangs of priests Assaulting worshipers on their way to Shechem. Nothing is sacred to them. 10 "I saw a shocking thing in the country of Israel: Ephraim worshiping in a religious whorehouse, and Israel in the mud right there with him. 11 "You're as bad as the worst of them, Judah. You've been sowing wild oats. Now it's harvest time.
Israel's Iniquity and Rebellion
7 1 "Every time I gave Israel a fresh start, wiped the slate clean and got them going again, Ephraim soon filled the slate with new sins, the treachery of Samaria written out in bold print. Two-faced and double-tongued, they steal you blind, pick you clean. 2 It never crosses their mind that I keep account of their every crime. They're mud-spattered head to toe with the residue of sin. I see who they are and what they've done. 3 "They entertain the king with their evil circus, delight the princes with their acrobatic lies. 4 They're a bunch of overheated adulterers, like an oven that holds its heat From the kneading of the dough to the rising of the bread. 5 On the royal holiday the princes get drunk on wine and the frenzy of the mocking mob. 6 They're like wood stoves, red-hot with lust. Through the night their passion is banked; in the morning it blazes up, flames hungrily licking. 7 Murderous and volcanic, they incinerate their rulers. Their kings fall one by one, and no one pays any attention to me.
8 "Ephraim mingles with the pagans, dissipating himself. Ephraim is half-baked. 9 Strangers suck him dry but he doesn't even notice. His hair has turned gray - he doesn't notice. 10 Bloated by arrogance, big as a house, Israel's a public disgrace. Israel lumbers along oblivious to God, despite all the signs, ignoring God. 11 "Ephraim is bird-brained, mindless, clueless, First chirping after Egypt, then fluttering after Assyria. 12 I'll throw my net over them. I'll clip their wings. I'll teach them to mind me! 13 Doom! They've run away from home. Now they're really in trouble! They've defied me. And I'm supposed to help them while they feed me a line of lies? 14 Instead of crying out to me in heartfelt prayer, they whoop it up in bed with their whores, Gash themselves bloody in their sex-and-religion orgies, but turn their backs on me. 15 I'm the one who gave them good minds and healthy bodies, and how am I repaid? With evil scheming! 16 They turn, but not to me - turn here, then there, like a weather vane. Their rulers will be cut down, murdered - just deserts for their mocking blasphemies. And the final sentence? Ridicule in the court of world opinion.