How terrible it will be for Samaria, the pride of Israel's drunken people! That beautiful crown of flowers is just a dying plant set on a hill above a rich valley where drunkards live.
Look, the Lord has someone who is strong and powerful. Like a storm of hail and strong wind, like a sudden flood of water pouring over the country, he will throw Samaria down to the ground.
That city, the pride of Israel's drunken people, will be trampled underfoot.
That beautiful crown of flowers is just a dying plant set on a hill above a rich valley. That city will be like the first fig of summer. Anyone who sees it quickly picks it and eats it.
At that time the Lord All-Powerful will be like a beautiful crown, like a wonderful crown of flowers for his people who are left alive.
Then he will give wisdom to the judges who must decide cases and strength to those who battle at the city gate.
But now those leaders are drunk with wine; they stumble from drinking too much beer. The priests and prophets are drunk with beer and are filled with wine. They stumble from too much beer. The prophets are drunk when they see their visions; the judges stumble when they make their decisions.
Every table is covered with vomit, so there is not a clean place anywhere.
The Lord is trying to teach the people a lesson; he is trying to make them understand his teachings. But the people are like babies too old for breast milk, like those who no longer nurse at their mother's breast.
So they make fun of the Lord's prophet and say: "A command here, a command there. A rule here, a rule there. A little lesson here, a little lesson there."
So the Lord will use strange words and foreign languages to speak to these people.
God said to them, "Here is a place of rest; let the tired people come and rest. This is the place of peace." But the people would not listen.
So the words of the Lord will be, "A command here, a command there. A rule here, a rule there. A little lesson here, a little lesson there." They will fall back and be defeated; they will be trapped and captured.
So listen to the Lord's message, you who brag, you leaders in Jerusalem.
You say, "We have made an agreement with death; we have a contract with death. When terrible punishment passes by, it won't hurt us. Our lies will keep us safe, and our tricks will hide us."
Because of these things, this is what the Lord God says: "I will put a stone in the ground in Jerusalem, a tested stone. Everything will be built on this important and precious rock. Anyone who trusts in it will never be disappointed.
I will use justice as a measuring line and goodness as the standard. The lies you hide behind will be destroyed as if by hail. They will be washed away as if in a flood.
Your agreement with death will be erased; your contract with death will not help you. When terrible punishment comes, you will be crushed by it.
Whenever punishment comes, it will take you away. It will come morning after morning; it will defeat you by day and by night. Those who understand this punishment will be terrified."
You will be like the person who tried to sleep on a bed that was too short and with a blanket that was too narrow to wrap around himself.
The Lord will fight as he did at Mount Perazim. He will be angry as he was in the Valley of Gibeon. He will do his work, his strange work. He will finish his job, his strange job.
Now, you must not make fun of these things, or the ropes around you will become tighter. how the whole earth will be destroyed.
Listen closely to what I tell you; listen carefully to what I say.
A farmer does not plow his field all the time; he does not go on working the soil.
He makes the ground flat and smooth. Then he plants the dill and scatters the cumin. He plants the wheat in rows, the barley in its special place, and other wheat as a border around the field.
His God teaches him and shows him the right way.
A farmer doesn't use heavy boards to crush dill; he doesn't use a wagon wheel to crush cumin. He uses a small stick to break open the dill, and with a stick he opens the cumin.
The grain is ground to make bread. People do not ruin it by crushing it forever. The farmer separates the wheat from the chaff with his cart, but he does not let his horses grind it.
This lesson also comes from the Lord All-Powerful, who gives wonderful advice, who is very wise.