1 "When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. He exalted himself in Israel. But when he offended in Baal, he died.
2 And now they sin more and more, and have made for themselves molten images of their silver and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of craftsmen. They say of them, 'Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves.'
3 Therefore, they shall be as the morning cloud and as the early dew that passes away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind from the floor and as the smoke from the smoke-chamber.
4 Yet I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt, and you shall know no God but me, for there is no savior besides me.
5 I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.
6 According to their pasture, so they were filled. They were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore, they have forgotten me.
7 Therefore, I will be to them as a lion. As a leopard by the way I will observe them.
8 I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps and will rend the enclosure of their heart. And there I will devour them like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them.
9 O Israel, you have destroyed yourself, but your help is in me.
10 I will be your king. Where is any other who may save you in all your cities, and your judges of whom you said, 'Give me a king and princes'?
11 I gave you a king in my anger and took him away in my wrath.
12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up. His sin is hid.
13 The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him. He is an unwise son, for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.
14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave. I will redeem them from death. O death, I will be your plagues. O grave, I will be your destruction. Repentance shall be hid from my eyes.
15 Though he is fruitful among his brothers, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry and his fountain shall be dried up. He shall pillage the treasure of all pleasant vessels.
16 Samaria shall become desolate, for she has rebelled against her God. They shall fall by the sword. Their infants shall be dashed in pieces and their women with child shall be ripped up."
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This chapter begins with observing the different state and condition of Ephraim before and after his idolatry (verse 1); his increase in it (verse 2); and therefore his prosperity was very short lived, which is signified by various metaphors (verse 3); and his sins are aggravated by the former goodness of God to him, his great ingratitude to God, and forgetfulness of him (verses 4-6); hence he is threatened with his wrath and vengeance in a very severe manner (verses 7-8); for which he had none to blame but himself; indeed, such was the grace and goodness of God to him, that though he had destroyed himself, yet there were help and salvation for him in [God] (verse 9); though not in his king he had desired, and was given, and was taken away in wrath (verses 10-11); but his sin being bound up and hid, and he foolish and unwise, sharp corrections would be given to him (verses 12-13); and yet a gracious promise is made of redemption from death and the grave by the Messiah (verse 14); but, notwithstanding this, and all his present prosperity, he would be blasted in his wealth and riches; and Samaria the metropolis of his country would he desolate; and the inhabitants of it be used in the most cruel manner, because of their rebellion against God (verses 15-16).
[v.2] - "They say of them, 'Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves.'" - This may also be read as, "They say one to another, while they immolate men, 'Let them kiss the calves.'" This passage condemns the practice of kissing idols(i.e., giving adoration to idols), as in 1st Kings 19:18; Job 31:26-28, and the appeasement of idols by burning people, especially children, as sacrifices to them, as in Leviticus 18:21; Deuteronomy 18:10; 2nd Kings 16:3, 17:17, 21:6, 23:10; 2nd Chronicles 33:6; Jeremiah 32:35; Ezekiel 16:21, 20:26, 31.
[v.6] - Reference, Deuteronomy 32:15.
[v.7-8] - Reference, Psalm 18:26.
[v.9] - Reference, Isaiah 59:1-2.
[v.10] - Reference, 1st Samuel 8:7.
[v.14] - Quoted in 1st Corinthians 15:55.