"Every time I gave Israel a fresh start, wiped the slate clean and got them going again, Ephraim soon filled the slate with new sins, the treachery of Samaria written out in bold print. Two-faced and double-tongued, they steal you blind, pick you clean.
It never crosses their mind that I keep account of their every crime. They're mud-spattered head to toe with the residue of sin. I see who they are and what they've done.
"They entertain the king with their evil circus, delight the princes with their acrobatic lies.
They're a bunch of overheated adulterers, like an oven that holds its heat From the kneading of the dough to the rising of the bread.
On the royal holiday the princes get drunk on wine and the frenzy of the mocking mob.
They're like wood stoves, red-hot with lust. Through the night their passion is banked; in the morning it blazes up, flames hungrily licking.
Murderous and volcanic, they incinerate their rulers. Their kings fall one by one, and no one pays any attention to me.
"Ephraim mingles with the pagans, dissipating himself. Ephraim is half-baked.
Strangers suck him dry but he doesn't even notice. His hair has turned gray - he doesn't notice.
Bloated by arrogance, big as a house, Israel's a public disgrace. Israel lumbers along oblivious to God, despite all the signs, ignoring God.
"Ephraim is bird-brained, mindless, clueless, First chirping after Egypt, then fluttering after Assyria.
I'll throw my net over them. I'll clip their wings. I'll teach them to mind me!
Doom! They've run away from home. Now they're really in trouble! They've defied me. And I'm supposed to help them while they feed me a line of lies?
Instead of crying out to me in heartfelt prayer, they whoop it up in bed with their whores, Gash themselves bloody in their sex-and-religion orgies, but turn their backs on me.
I'm the one who gave them good minds and healthy bodies, and how am I repaid? With evil scheming!
They turn, but not to me - turn here, then there, like a weather vane. Their rulers will be cut down, murdered - just deserts for their mocking blasphemies. And the final sentence? Ridicule in the court of world opinion.
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)