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Chapter 5

Guilt of the Religious and Political Leaders

Hear this, priests,
    Pay attention, house of Israel,
Household of the king, give ear!(A)
    For you are responsible for judgment.[a]
But you have been a snare at Mizpah,[b]
    a net spread upon Tabor,
a pit dug deep in Shittim.
    Now I will discipline them all.

I know Ephraim,
    and Israel is not hidden from me:
Now, Ephraim, you have practiced prostitution,
    Israel is defiled.
Their deeds do not allow them
    to return to their God;(B)
For the spirit of prostitution is in them,
    and they do not know the Lord.

The arrogance of Israel bears witness against him;
    Israel and Ephraim stumble because of their iniquity,
    and Judah stumbles with them.
With their flocks and herds they will go
    to seek the Lord, but will not find him;(C)
    he has withdrawn from them.
They have betrayed the Lord,
    for they have borne illegitimate children;
Now the new moon[c] will devour them
    together with their fields.

Political Upheavals[d]

Blow the ram’s horn in Gibeah,
    the trumpet in Ramah!
Sound the alarm in Beth-aven:(D)
    “Look behind you, Benjamin!”[e]
Ephraim shall become a wasteland
    on the day of punishment:
Among the tribes of Israel
    I announce what is sure to be.
10 The princes of Judah have become
    like those who move a boundary line;[f](E)
Upon them I will pour out
    my wrath like water.
11 Ephraim is oppressed, crushed by judgment,
    for he has willingly gone after filth![g]
12 I am like a moth for Ephraim,(F)
    like rot for the house of Judah.
13 When Ephraim saw his infirmity,
    and Judah his sore,
Ephraim went to Assyria,
    and sent to the great king.[h](G)
But he cannot heal you,
    nor take away your sore.
14 For I am like a lion to Ephraim,
    like a young lion to the house of Judah;(H)
It is I who tear the prey and depart,
    I carry it away and no one can save it.(I)

Insincere Conversion

15 I will go back to my place
    until they make reparation
    and seek my presence.
In their affliction, they shall look for me.(J)

Footnotes

  1. 5:1 For you…judgment: possibly “for you are called to judgment.”
  2. 5:1–2 Mizpah: several places bear this name; the best known is in Benjamin (1 Sm 7:6, 16; 10:17). Perhaps this is a wordplay on mishpat, “justice,” “judgment.” Tabor: the mountain that dominates the valley of Jezreel. Shittim: in Transjordan, where Israel committed its first act of idolatry with the Baal of Peor (9:10; cf. Nm 25). At these three places the leaders had misled the people by an idolatrous cult or by an abuse of justice.
  3. 5:7 New moon: normally a feast day of joy (2:13), but, because of infidelity, it will be a day of destruction.
  4. 5:8–14 This passage describes political and military conflict between Judah and Israel. Perhaps some allusion is made to the Syro-Ephraimite war of 735–734 B.C., when a coalition of Arameans and Israelites attempted to dethrone the king of Judah (2 Kgs 16:5; Is 7:1–9). Judah repulsed the attempt with the aid of Assyria, and the latter devastated both Aram and Israel.
  5. 5:8 A vision of invasion, from Gibeah and Ramah in northern Judah, into Israel.
  6. 5:10 Move a boundary line: invasion by Judah (v. 8) is compared to a case of social injustice (Dt 19:14; 27:17; Prv 23:10–11).
  7. 5:11 Filth: Ephraim’s reliance on foreign nations and their gods.
  8. 5:13 Ephraim went…king: in 738 the Israelite king Menahem had to pay tribute to the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III, whose vassal he became (2 Kgs 15:19–20). Under the threat of the Syro-Ephraimite invasion King Ahaz of Judah also submitted to Tiglath-pileser (2 Kgs 16:7–9). Great king: Heb. melek-yarev; may be a proper name: King Yarev, but unknown; or “the defender king”: irony about the great king of Assyria (see note on 10:6).

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