Israel’s Riches Led to
Its Worship of Idols
1 Israel is like a vine
that grows plenty of fruit.
But as Israel got more and more things,
he built more and more altars to honor false gods.
His land became better and better,
so he put up better and better stones to honor false gods.
2 The people of Israel tried to trick God,
but now they must accept their guilt.
He will break down their altars
and destroy their memorial stones.
The Evil Decisions of the Israelites
3 Now the Israelites say, “We have no king. We don’t honor the LORD. And his king cannot do anything to us.”
4 They make promises, but they are only telling lies. They don’t keep their promises. They make agreements with other countries. God does not like those agreements. The judges are like poisonous weeds growing in a plowed field.
The people from Samaria worship the calves at Beth Aven.*
They will cry. The priests will cry, because their beautiful idol is gone. It was carried away. 6
It was carried away as a gift to the great king of Assyria. He will keep Ephraim’s shameful idol. Israel will be ashamed of its idol.† 7
Samaria’s false god‡
will be destroyed. It will be like a piece of wood floating away on the water’s surface.
Israel sinned and built many high places. The high places of Aven§
will be destroyed. Thorns and weeds will grow on their altars. Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!” and to the hills, “Fall on us!”
Israel Will Pay for Sin
“Israel, you have sinned since the time of Gibeah. (And the people have continued to sin there.) Those evil people at Gibeah will be trapped by war. 10
I will come to punish them. Armies will come together against them and punish the Israelites for both of their sins.*
11 “Ephraim is like a trained young cow that loves to walk on grain on the threshing floor. I will put a good yoke on her neck. I will put the ropes on Ephraim. Then Judah will begin plowing. Jacob will break the ground himself.”
12 If you plant goodness, you will harvest faithful love. Plow your ground, and you will harvest with the LORD. He will come, and he will make goodness fall on you like rain.
But you planted evil, and you harvested trouble. You ate the fruit of your lies, because you had trusted in your power and your soldiers. 14
So your armies will hear the noise of battle, and all your fortresses will be destroyed. It will be like the time Shalman†
destroyed Beth Arbel. At that time of war, mothers were killed with their children. 15
And this will happen to you at Bethel, because you did so many evil things. When that day begins, the king of Israel will be fully destroyed.