2 Those who have revolted against Me have dug a deep pit of slaughter,
so I’m going to punish all of you.
God is describing the fate of those rebellious leaders who have dug a deep hole: because of their depravity, they will be led to slavery in shackles.
Hosea’s prophecy is fulfilled in 722 b.c., when Shalmaneser V leads his Assyrian army to conquer Samaria, the capital city of Israel. But leveling the city and slaughtering countless citizens isn’t what ends Israel’s legacy. In the years following the war, Sargon II systematically deports the remaining Israelites to cities in the Assyrian Empire and repopulates Samaria with foreigners to suppress future rebellions. This policy decimates the cultures of the ten tribes who inhabited the Northern Kingdom and leads to the fabled “Lost Tribes of Israel.”
It may be assumed that the members of the ten tribes assimilate into their new cultures and abandon their history and religion; they simply blend into their surroundings to survive. However, in the third century a.d., Christian poet Commodian compiles the writings of several early rabbis and weaves the story of the ten tribes’ post-deportation lives. These ten tribes reside in a sort of paradise beyond a river, where everyone lives long lives, experiences no pain, and follows God’s laws. One day, the story goes, these tribes will return to Jerusalem, recapture her, and dwell in her.
3 I know Ephraim; Israel isn’t hiding from Me.
Even now Ephraim plays the part of a whore;
Israel is covering herself in impurity.
4 They’re so caught up in their way of life
that they can’t return to their God.
They have a spirit of prostitution within them,
so they don’t know Me; I am the Eternal One.