The scene is set. God has an indictment against His people. He will judge; Israel will be ruined. But not forever.
Hear the word of YHWH, ye children of Israel; for YHWH hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor goodness, nor knowledge of God in the land. There is nought but swearing and breaking faith, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery; they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.
Yet let no man strive, neither let any man reprove; for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. And thou shalt stumble in the day, and the prophet also shall stumble with thee in the night; and I will destroy thy mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children. As they were multiplied, so they sinned against me: I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of my people, and set their heart on their iniquity.
And it shall be, like people, like priest; and I will punish them for their ways, and will requite them their doings. And they shall eat, and not have enough; they shall play the harlot, and shall not increase; because they have left off taking heed to YHWH. Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the understanding. My people ask counsel at their stock, and their staff declareth unto them; for the spirit of whoredom hath caused them to err, and they have played the harlot, departing from under their God. They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and terebinths, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters play the harlot, and your brides commit adultery. I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot, nor your brides when they commit adultery; for the men themselves go apart with harlots, and they sacrifice with the prostitutes; and the people that doth not understand shall be overthrown.
Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Beth-aven, nor swear, As YHWH liveth. For Israel hath behaved himself stubbornly, like a stubborn heifer: now will YHWH feed them as a lamb in a large place. Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone. Their drink is become sour; they play the harlot continually; her rulers dearly love shame. The wind hath wrapped her up in its wings; and they shall be put to shame because of their sacrifices.
Hear this, O ye priests, and hearken, O house of Israel, and give ear, O house of the king; for unto you pertaineth the judgment; for ye have been a snare at Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor. And the revolters are gone deep in making slaughter; but I am a rebuker of them all. I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me; for now, O Ephraim, thou hast played the harlot, Israel is defiled. Their doings will not suffer them to turn unto their God; for the spirit of whoredom is within them, and they know not YHWH. And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore Israel and Ephraim shall stumble in their iniquity; Judah also shall stumble with them. They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek YHWH; but they shall not find him: he hath withdrawn himself from them. They have dealt treacherously against YHWH; for they have borne strange children: now shall the new moon devour them with their fields.
Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah: sound an alarm at Beth-aven; behind thee, O Benjamin. Ephraim shall become a desolation in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be. The princes of Judah are like them that remove the landmark: I will pour out my wrath upon them like water. Ephraim is oppressed, he is crushed in judgment; because he was content to walk after man’s command. Therefore am I unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness.
When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to Assyria, and sent to king Jareb: but he is not able to heal you, neither will he cure you of your wound. For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and there shall be none to deliver. I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me earnestly (Hosea 4:1-5:15).