1 "When Israel was a child, I loved him as a son, and I called my son out of Egypt.
2 But the more I* called to him, the more he rebelled, offering sacrifices to the images of Baal and burning incense to idols.1
3 It was I who taught Israel* how to walk, leading him along by the hand. But he doesn't know or even care that it was I who took care of him.2
4 I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him.
5 "But since my people refuse to return to me, they will go back to Egypt and will be forced to serve Assyria.
6 War will swirl through their cities; their enemies will crash through their gates and destroy them, trapping them in their own evil plans.
7 For my people are determined to desert me. They call me the Most High, but they don't truly honor me.
8 "Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah and Zeboiim? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows.
9 No, I will not punish you as much as my burning anger tells me to. I will not completely destroy Israel, for I am God and not a mere mortal. I am the Holy One living among you, and I will not come to destroy.
10 "For someday the people will follow the LORD. I will roar like a lion, and my people will return trembling from the west.
11 Like a flock of birds, they will come from Egypt. Flying like doves, they will return from Assyria. And I will bring them home again," says the LORD.
12 Israel surrounds me with lies and deceit, but Judah still walks with God and is faithful to the Holy One.*3
Read Hosea 12