The LORD says, "I would like to heal Israel. But when I try to, Ephraim's sins are brought out into the open. The crimes of Samaria are made known to everyone. The people tell lies. They break into houses and steal. They rob others in the streets.
But they do not realize that I remember all of the evil things they do. Their sins pile up and cover them. I am always aware of those sins.
"Their evil conduct even makes the king glad. Their lies make the princes happy.
But all of the people are unfaithful to the king. Their anger against him burns like the coals in an oven. The baker does not even need to stir up the fire until the dough is ready."
On special days to honor our king, the princes get drunk with wine. And the king enjoys the party. He joins hands with those who pretend to be faithful to him.
Their hearts are as hot as an oven. They make evil plans to get rid of him. Their anger burns like a slow fire all night. In the morning it blazes out like a flaming fire.
All of them are as hot as an oven. They destroy their rulers. All of their kings fall from power. But none of them calls on the LORD for help.
The people of Ephraim mix with the nations. They are like a flat cake that is baked on only one side.
People from other lands make them weaker and weaker. But they don't realize it. Their hair is becoming gray. But they don't even notice it.
The pride of Israel witnesses that they are guilty. But in spite of everything, they don't return to the LORD their God. They don't go to him for help.
The LORD says, "The people of Ephraim are like a dove. They are easily tricked. They do not have any sense at all. First they call out to Egypt for help. Then they turn to Assyria.
When they send for help, I will throw my net over them. I will capture them like birds of the air. I will punish them, just as I warned them I would.
How terrible it will be for them! They have wandered away from me. So they will be destroyed. They have refused to obey me. I long to save them. But they tell lies about me.
They do not cry out to me from their hearts. Instead, they just lie on their beds and sob. They cut themselves when they pray to Baal for grain and fresh wine. So they turn away from me.
I brought them up and made them strong. But they make evil plans against me.
I am the Most High God. But they do not turn to me. They are like a bow that does not shoot straight. Their leaders will be killed with swords. They will die because they have spoken too proudly. The people of Egypt will make fun of them."