Passage: Hosea 13, 14 (RSV)

Hosea 13

1When E'phraim spoke, men trembled; he was exalted in Israel; but he incurred guilt through Ba'al and died.
2And now they sin more and more, and make for themselves molten images, idols skilfully made of their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. Sacrifice to these, they say. Men kiss calves!
3Therefore they shall be like the morning mist or like the dew that goes early away, like the chaff that swirls from the threshing floor or like smoke from a window.
4I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.
5It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought;
6but when they had fed to the full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.
7So I will be to them like a lion, like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.
8I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rend them.
9I will destroy you, O Israel; who can help you?
10Where now is your king, to save you; where are all your princes, to defend you -- those of whom you said, "Give me a king and princes"?
11I have given you kings in my anger, and I have taken them away in my wrath.
12The iniquity of E'phraim is bound up, his sin is kept in store.
13The pangs of childbirth come for him, but he is an unwise son; for now he does not present himself at the mouth of the womb.
14Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? Compassion is hid from my eyes.
15Though he may flourish as the reed plant, the east wind, the wind of the LORD, shall come, rising from the wilderness; and his fountain shall dry up, his spring shall be parched; it shall strip his treasury of every precious thing.
16Sama'ria shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open.

Hosea 14

1Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
2Take with you words and return to the LORD; say to him, "Take away all iniquity; accept that which is good and we will render the fruit of our lips.
3Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses; and we will say no more, `Our God,' to the work of our hands. In thee the orphan finds mercy."
4I will heal their faithlessness; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.
5I will be as the dew to Israel; he shall blossom as the lily, he shall strike root as the poplar;
6his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon.
7They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom as the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
8O E'phraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress, from me comes your fruit.
9Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.

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