The Lord’s Case against Israel
1 Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel!
The Lord has brought charges against you, saying:
“There is no faithfulness, no kindness,
no knowledge of God in your land.
2 You make vows and break them;
you kill and steal and commit adultery.
There is violence everywhere—
one murder after another.
3 That is why your land is in mourning,
and everyone is wasting away.
Even the wild animals, the birds of the sky,
and the fish of the sea are disappearing.
4 “Don’t point your finger at someone else
and try to pass the blame!
My complaint, you priests,
is with you.[a]
5 So you will stumble in broad daylight,
and your false prophets will fall with you in the night.
And I will destroy Israel, your mother.
6 My people are being destroyed
because they don’t know me.
Since you priests refuse to know me,
I refuse to recognize you as my priests.
Since you have forgotten the laws of your God,
I will forget to bless your children.
7 The more priests there are,
the more they sin against me.
They have exchanged the glory of God
for the shame of idols.[b]
8 “When the people bring their sin offerings, the priests get fed.
So the priests are glad when the people sin!
9 ‘And what the priests do, the people also do.’
So now I will punish both priests and people
for their wicked deeds.
10 They will eat and still be hungry.
They will play the prostitute and gain nothing from it,
for they have deserted the Lord
11 to worship other gods.
“Wine has robbed my people
of their understanding.
12 They ask a piece of wood for advice!
They think a stick can tell them the future!
Longing after idols
has made them foolish.
They have played the prostitute,
serving other gods and deserting their God.
13 They offer sacrifices to idols on the mountaintops.
They go up into the hills to burn incense
in the pleasant shade of oaks, poplars, and terebinth trees.
“That is why your daughters turn to prostitution,
and your daughters-in-law commit adultery.
14 But why should I punish them
for their prostitution and adultery?
For your men are doing the same thing,
sinning with whores and shrine prostitutes.
O foolish people! You refuse to understand,
so you will be destroyed.
15 “Though you, Israel, are a prostitute,
may Judah not be guilty of such things.
Do not join the false worship at Gilgal or Beth-aven,[c]
and do not take oaths there in the Lord’s name.
16 Israel is stubborn,
like a stubborn heifer.
So should the Lord feed her
like a lamb in a lush pasture?
17 Leave Israel[d] alone,
because she is married to idolatry.
18 When the rulers of Israel finish their drinking,
off they go to find some prostitutes.
They love shame more than honor.[e]
19 So a mighty wind will sweep them away.
Their sacrifices to idols will bring them shame.
- 4:4 Hebrew Your people are like those with a complaint against the priests.
- 4:7 As in Syriac version and an ancient Hebrew tradition; Masoretic Text reads I will turn their glory into shame.
- 4:15 Beth-aven means “house of wickedness”; it is being used as another name for Bethel, which means “house of God.”
- 4:17 Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel.
- 4:18 As in Greek version; the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.