December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- When I would bring about the restoration of my people, when I would heal Israel, The guilt of Ephraim stands out, the wickedness of Samaria; They practice falsehood, thieves break in, bandits plunder abroad.
- Yet they do not remind themselves that I remember all their wickedness. Even now their crimes surround them, present to my sight.
- 1 In their wickedness they regale the king, the princes too, with their deceits.
- They are all kindled to wrath like a blazing oven, Whose fire the baker desists from stirring once the dough is kneaded until it has risen.
- On the day of our king, the princes are overcome with the heat of wine. He extends his hand among dissemblers;
- the plotters approach with hearts like ovens. All the night their anger sleeps; in the morning it flares like a blazing fire.
- They are all heated like ovens, and consume their rulers. All their kings have fallen; none of them calls upon me.
- 2 Ephraim mingles with the nations, Ephraim is a hearth cake unturned.
- Strangers have sapped his strength, but he takes no notice of it; Of gray hairs, too, there is a sprinkling, but he takes no notice of it.
- The arrogance of Israel bears witness against him; yet they do not return to the LORD, their God, nor seek him, for all that.
- Ephraim is like a dove, silly and senseless; They call upon Egypt, they go to Assyria.
- Even as they go I will spread my net around them, like birds in the air I will bring them down. In an instant I will send them captive from their land.
- Woe to them, they have strayed from me! Ruin to them, they have sinned against me! Though I wished to redeem them, they spoke lies against me.
- 3 They have not cried to me from their hearts when they wailed upon their beds; For wheat and wine they lacerated themselves, while they rebelled against me.
- Though I trained and strengthened their arms, yet they devised evil against me.
- They have again become useless, like a treacherous bow. Their princes shall fall by the sword because of the insolence of their tongues; thus they shall be mocked in the land of Egypt.
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1 [3-7] This passage refers to the dynastic upheavals of Israel's declining days. Between the death of Jeroboam II and the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians, a matter of some twenty-five years, there were four separate dynasties on the throne and as many murdered kings. The prophet compares the Israelite nobles who were inflamed with passion to an overheated oven that consumes what it is supposed to bake; thus the land consumes its kings. Regale: with wine (Hosea 7:3). Like fire smoldering through the night and blazing up in the morning, the sleeping anger of plotters soon breaks out in open rebellion; the succession of night and morning suggests the short reigns of the various kings of this troubled period.
2  A hearth cake unturned: burnt on one side, half baked on the other, and therefore useless. Israel's decline in power is ascribed to its disastrous meddling in the power politics of the neighboring nations.
3  They lacerated themselves: a common oriental practice in prayers of earnest impetration (1 Kings 18:28); the practice was forbidden in Israelite religion (Lev 19:28; Deut 14:1).
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