The Bible – Old Testament
Hear this word which I utter over you, a lament, O house of Israel:
She is fallen, to rise no more, the virgin Israel; She lies abandoned upon her land, with no one to raise her up.
For thus says the Lord GOD: The city that marched out with a thousand shall be left without a hundred, Another that marched out with a hundred shall be left with ten, of the house of Israel.
For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: Seek me, that you may live,
but do not seek Bethel; Do not come to Gilgal, and do not cross to Beer-sheba. For Gilgal shall be led into exile, and Bethel shall become nought.
1 Seek the LORD, that you may live, lest he come upon the house of Joseph like a fire That shall consume, with none to quench it for the house of Israel:
Woe to those who turn judgment to wormwood and cast justice to the ground!
He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns darkness into dawn, and darkens day into night; Who summons the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the surface of the earth;
Who flashes destruction upon the strong, and brings ruin upon the fortress; whose name is LORD.
2 They hate him who reproves at the gate and abhor him who speaks the truth.
Therefore, because you have trampled upon the weak and exacted of them levies of grain, Though you have built houses of hewn stone, you shall not live in them! Though you have planted choice vineyards, you shall not drink their wine!
Yes, I know how many are your crimes, how grievous your sins: Oppressing the just, accepting bribes, repelling the needy at the gate!
Therefore the prudent man is silent at this time, for it is an evil time.
Seek good and not evil, that you may live; Then truly will the LORD, the God of hosts, be with you as you claim!
Hate evil and love good, and let justice prevail at the gate; Then it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.
Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord: In every square there shall be lamentation, and in every street they shall cry, Alas! Alas! They shall summon the farmers to wail and professional mourners to lament,
And in every vineyard there shall be lamentation when I pass through your midst, says the LORD.
3 Woe to those who yearn for the day of the LORD! What will this day of the LORD mean for you? Darkness and not light!
As if a man went to flee from a lion, and a bear should meet him; Or as if on entering his house he were to rest his hand against the wall, and a snake should bite him.
Will not the day of the LORD be darkness and not light, gloom without any brightness?
4 I hate, I spurn your feasts, I take no pleasure in your solemnities;
Your cereal offerings I will not accept, nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings.
Away with your noisy songs! I will not listen to the melodies of your harps. But if you would offer me holocausts,
then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream.
5 Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings for forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?
6 You will carry away Sakkuth, your king, and Kaiwan, your star god, the images that you have made for yourselves;
For I will exile you beyond Damascus, say I, the LORD, the God of hosts by name.
2  At the gate: see note on ⇒ Psalm 127:5.
3  Day ot the LORD: a technical expression which in earliest times referred to God’s special intervention in human affairs. Through it his power and justice triumphed in his people. The present passage is the first instance in which it means a day of punishment of sinners. During the exile it assumed the meaning of a time when God would avenge Israel against her oppressors and bring about her restoration (⇒ Jeremiah 50:27; ⇒ Ezekiel 30:3-5). Still later it came to mean the day of final judgment of the world when the good will be rewarded and the wicked punished (⇒ Malachi 3:19ff)); ⇒ Joel 2:1-⇒ 3:5; ⇒ Zephaniah 1:14-⇒ 2:15).
4 [21-27] The Lord condemns, not ritual worship in itself, but the cult whose exterior rites and solemnity have no relation to interior morality and justice. The Israelites falsely worshiped him as neighboring nations adored Baal or Chamos, deities which were thought to protect their respective peoples against their enemies in return for ritual observances, without any relation to right conduct.
5  The meaning is not certain; according to some, the idea is that during the forty years’ wandering in the desert the simple, rudimentary worship of God was accompanied by the practice of justice, in contrast to the elaborate ritual unaccompanied by works of justice in the prophet’s time.
6  Sakkuth . . . star god: although the text is uncertain, it seems quite probable that reference is made to the Assyrian deities, Sakkuth, god of war and light, and Kaiwan, the planet Saturn. The people will go into exile, from which these gods have been unable to save them.