"Listen to this, priests! Attention, people of Israel! Royal family - all ears! You're in charge of justice around here. But what have you done? Exploited people at Mizpah, ripped them off on Tabor,
Victimized them at Shittim. I'm going to punish the lot of you.
"I know you, Ephraim, inside and out. Yes, Israel, I see right through you! Ephraim, you've played your sex-and-religion games long enough. All Israel is thoroughly polluted.
They couldn't turn to God if they wanted to. Their evil life is a bad habit. Every breath they take is a whore's breath. They wouldn't recognize God if they saw me.
"Bloated by arrogance, big as a house, they're a public disgrace, The lot of them - Israel, Ephraim, Judah - lurching and weaving down their guilty streets.
When they decide to get their lives together and go off looking for God once again, They'll find it's too late. I, God, will be long gone.
They've played fast and loose with me for too long, filling the country with their bastard offspring. A plague of locusts will devastate their violated land.
"Blow the ram's horn shofar in Gibeah, the bugle in Ramah! Signal the invasion of Sin City! Scare the daylights out of Benjamin!
Ephraim will be left wasted, a lifeless moonscape. I'm telling it straight, the unvarnished truth, to the tribes of Israel.
"Israel's rulers are crooks and thieves, cheating the people of their land, And I'm angry, good and angry. Every inch of their bodies is going to feel my anger.
"Brutal Ephraim is himself brutalized - a taste of his own medicine! He was so determined to do it his own worthless way.
Therefore I'm pus to Ephraim, dry rot in the house of Judah.
"When Ephraim saw he was sick and Judah saw his pus-filled sores, Ephraim went running to Assyria, went for help to the big king. But he can't heal you. He can't cure your oozing sores.
"I'm a grizzly charging Ephraim, a grizzly with cubs charging Judah. I'll rip them to pieces - yes, I will! No one can stop me now. I'll drag them off. No one can help them.
Then I'll go back to where I came from until they come to their senses. When they finally hit rock bottom, maybe they'll come looking for me."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)