1 "Come, let us return to the LORD! He has torn us in pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds.
2 In just a short time, he will restore us so we can live in his presence.
3 Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him! Then he will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring."
4 "O Israel* and Judah, what should I do with you?" asks the LORD. "For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight.1
5 I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces. I have slaughtered you with my words, threatening you with death. My judgment will strike you as surely as day follows night.
6 I want you to be merciful; I don't want your sacrifices. I want you to know God; that's more important than burnt offerings.
7 "But like Adam, you broke my covenant and rebelled against me.
8 Gilead is a city of sinners, tracked with footprints of blood.
9 Its citizens are bands of robbers, lying in ambush for their victims. Gangs of priests murder travelers along the road to Shechem and practice every kind of sin.
10 Yes, I have seen a horrible thing in Israel: My people have defiled themselves by chasing after other gods!
11 "O Judah, a harvest of punishment is also waiting for you, though I wanted so much to restore the fortunes of my people!
Read Hosea 7