1 When Israel was a young man, I loved him like a son,
and I summoned my son out of Egypt.
2 But the more I summoned them,
the farther they departed from me.
They sacrificed to the Baal idols
and burned incense to images.
3 Yet it was I who led Ephraim,
I took them by the arm;
but they did not acknowledge
that I had healed them.
4 I led them with leather cords,
with leather ropes;
I lifted the yoke from their neck,
and gently fed them.
5 They will return to Egypt!
Assyria will rule over them
because they refuse to repent!
6 A sword will flash in their cities,
it will destroy the bars of their city gates,
and will devour them in their fortresses.
7 My people are obsessed with turning away from me;
they call to Baal, but he will never exalt them!
The Divine Dilemma: Judgment or Mercy?
8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I surrender you, O Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboiim?
I have had a change of heart!
All my tender compassions are aroused!
9 I cannot carry out my fierce anger!
I cannot totally destroy Ephraim!
Because I am God, and not man – the Holy One among you –
I will not come in wrath!
God Will Restore the Exiles to Israel
10 He will roar like a lion,
and they will follow the Lord;
when he roars,
his children will come trembling from the west.
11 They will return in fear and trembling
like birds from Egypt,
like doves from Assyria,
and I will settle them in their homes,” declares the Lord.
God’s Lawsuit against Israel: Breach of Covenant
12 Ephraim has surrounded me with lies;
the house of Israel has surrounded me with deceit.
But Judah still roams about with God;
he remains faithful to the Holy One.