Israel’s leaders stinking drunk
A foul bouquet of drunks1
Too bad for the drunks of Ephraim.
Their pretty blossoms are wilted and limp.
They used to be the brightest flowers in the valley.
Now they’re a bouquet of drunks.
The LORD recruited someone strong,
With the combined strength
of a hammering hailstorm,
A tornado, and a flood.
God’s going to throw him onto the earth.
3 The limp little blossoms—Ephraim’s drunks—
Will get trampled where they lay.
4 The wilted, limp flower
From the brightest in the valley
Will live a short life,
Like that of summer’s early figs.
First one to see those figs
Devours them. All gone.
Justice is coming to Jerusalem5
When this happens, people will finally see
That the LORD of all
Is the glory and the beauty of Israel.
People will defend their cities.
In the meantime, crooks in charge7
But for now, the leaders are drunks.
When priests and prophets open their mouths,
They reek of booze breath.
They don’t make sense,
They report their visions incorrectly.
And they make bad decisions.
But the table is covered in vomit.
9 So, who will teach the lessons,
And what students will they teach?
Are the leaders even fit to teach
Babies pulled off the breast?
10 “Repeat after me,
A, B, C,
1, 2, 3.
A, B, C, 1, 2, 3.”
11 Others will speak up.
But they’ll sound odd and foreign.
12 They’ll say unusual things like:
“This is how to live in peace:
Help weary people find peace.
This is how you’ll find your own peace.”
But no one will listen.
13 So, the LORD will teach what they want.
“Repeat after me,
A, B, C,
1, 2, 3.
A, B, C, 1, 2, 3.”
They’ll learn nothing and they’ll fall behind.
This failure will become the trap
That gets them conquered and captured.
God revoke’s Israel’s deal with death14
It’s time now for you Jerusalem rulers,
You bunch of ridiculing fools,
To hear the message the LORD has for you.
A deal with the grave.
So you think when terrible trouble comes
It won’t come to you.
Why do you believe lies like that?
Why do put your faith in false security?
16 Here’s what the LORD says:
I’m going to lay a foundation stone in Jerusalem.
It’s the perfect cornerstone,
A solid foundation to build on.
You can count on this rock to hold you.
It’ll give you no worry.
17 I’m going to run this nation with a plumbline.
The straight line is justice.
The plumb weight keeping it straight is goodness.
I’ll send a hailstorm to drive out the lies,
And a flood to wash them away.
18 I’ll revoke your deal with death,
The agreement you make with the grave.
When trouble comes calling—and it will—
It’s coming to you, with a beat-down.
19 Whenever trouble passes through your land
It’ll pay you a visit, morning, midday, or night.
It’s going to teach you a thing or two,
Terrifying and horrifying lessons.
20 You bought yourself a bed too short
And a blanket to match.
Way to go.
21 The LORD’s going to fight
Like he did at Mount Perazim.
He’s going to show his rage
Like he did in Gibeon’s valley.
But this time he’s fighting against Judah.
People will say, “These are strange battles for God.
He shouldn’t get into these fights.”
22 Stop badmouthing God.
Or you’ll pay a higher price.
This is the message from the LORD God of all.
It’s the announcement of your destruction.
Parable about a farmer with a plan23
I’m going to tell you something.
They’re not sod-busting all the time.
25 After they plow, don’t they plant spices and grains?
Dill and cumin, wheat and barley?
With spelt along the outside of the fields?
26 They know what they’re doing.
God taught them.
27 They don’t pull a huge threshing board
Over delicate dill stems
Or crush cumin with a wagon wheel.
They knock them loose with a stick.
28 You crush grain into flour.
But you don’t pulverize it into nothing.
You crush it under a grinding wheel
But you stop when it turns to flour.
29 The LORD works like this, too.
So, he knows how far to go
And when to stop.
He’s a wise and wonderful advisor.
Ephraim was the dominate tribe in the northern Jewish nation of Israel. So, the reference to Ephraim here was probably to the rulers of Israel.
Scholars translate this verse in many different ways. But the general consensus is that the writer is ridiculing the national leaders as incompetent. Some scholars say he uses ancient Hebrew words representing letters of the alphabet, tsaw and qaw as though the most insightful lesson these leaders are capable of teaching is the A, B, C’s.
Literally, Sheol, a word Old Testament writers used to describe the place of the dead. It is a kind of underworld where the dead are cut off from the living—and from God—and there is no coming back.
Jerusalem leaders apparently made a peace agreement with some group or kingdom that promised to protect them. One possibility is an agreement Jerusalem King Josiah made with Assyria and Egypt, the tag team of superpowers of the day. That didn’t stop Scythian raiders on horseback from swooping down upon them from what is now Ukraine and beyond.
It’s not clear what God is going to do. The Hebrew word is qum. It can mean dozens of things, including: rise to power, revolt, attack, survive, convict.
Mount Perazim isn’t mentioned again, so it’s unclear where it was. But David defeated Philistines at Baal Perazim (2 Samuel 5:17-21). They attacked him in his early years as King in Jerusalem, hoping to stop him before he got any stronger.
Joshua beat the Amorites at the Battle of Gibeon (Joshua 10:1-11).
Many Israelites seem to think it was God’s job to protect them, not to fight against them and certainly not to let them get wiped off the political map and exiled into another country. But they had apparently overlooked the penalty clauses in their ancient agreement with God (Deuteronomy 28:58-62).
Spelt is a nutritious, nutty-flavored grain related to wheat, barley, and rye. It has been cultivated since about 5000 BC, as far as archaeology reveals.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.