New English Translation
Israel is Guilty of Fertility Cult Worship
1 Israel was a fertile vine that yielded fruit. As his fruit multiplied, he multiplied altars to Baal. As his land prospered, they adorned the fertility pillars.
2 Their heart is slipping; soon they will be punished for their guilt. The LORD will break their altars; he will completely destroy their fertility pillars.
The LORD Will Punish Israel by Removing Its Kings
3 Very soon they will say, "We have no king since we did not fear the LORD. But what can a king do for us anyway?"
4 They utter empty words, taking false oaths and making empty agreements. Therefore legal disputes sprout up like poisonous weeds in the furrows of a plowed field.
The Calf Idol and Idolaters of Samaria Will Be Exiled
5 The inhabitants of Samaria will lament over the calf idol of Beth Aven. Its people will mourn over it; its idolatrous priests will wail over it, because its splendor will be taken from them into exile.
6 Even the calf idol will be carried to Assyria, as tribute for the great king. Ephraim will be disgraced; Israel will be put to shame because of its wooden idol.
7 Samaria and its king will be carried off like a twig on the surface of the waters.
8 The high places of the "House of Wickedness" will be destroyed; it is the place where Israel sins. Thorns and thistles will grow up over its altars. Then they will say to the mountains, "Cover us!" and to the hills, "Fall on us!"
Failure to Learn from the Sin and Judgment of Gibeah
9 O Israel, you have sinned since the time of Gibeah, and there you have remained. Did not war overtake the evildoers in Gibeah?
10 When I please, I will discipline them; I will gather nations together to attack them, to bind them in chains for their two sins.
Fertility Imagery: Plowing, Sowing, and Reaping
11 Ephraim was a well-trained heifer who loved to thresh grain; I myself put a fine yokeon her neck. I will harness Ephraim. Let Judah plow! Let Jacob break up the unplowed ground for himself!
12 Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap unfailing love. Break up the unplowed ground for yourselves, for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers deliverance on you.
13 But you have plowed wickedness; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your chariots; you have relied on your many warriors.
Bethel Will Be Destroyed Like Beth Arbel
14 The roar of battle will rise against your people; all your fortresses will be devastated, just as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children.
15 So will it happen to you, O Bethel, because of your great wickedness! When that day dawns, the king of Israel will be destroyed.
King James Version
1 Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.
2 Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images.
3 For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us?
4 They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.
5 The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Beth-aven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it.
6 It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel.
7 As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water.
8 The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us.
9 O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them.
10 It is in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows.
11 And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods.
12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
13 Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.
14 Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Beth-arbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon her children.
15 So shall Beth-el do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.