Are you really returning to me?
1 If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he come back to her? Wouldn’t the land be totally polluted? But you, you are a harlot with many lovers, and you still have the nerve to return to me? – it is Yahweh who speaks.
2 Lift your eyes to the hills and see: Where have you not been violated? By the wayside you sat waiting for your lovers, like an Arab in the wilderness, and you have dishonored the land with your evil and your harlotry!
3 The showers held back and there was no spring rain for you, yet you have a harlot’s brow and refuse to be ashamed! 4 Worse still you called to me: ‘Father, guide of my youth! 5 Will you always be angry? Will your wrath last forever?’ That is what you said, and did evil as much as you were able to.”
Comparison of the two sisters
6 During the reign of King Josiah, Yahweh said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone on every high hill and under every green tree and there played the harlot! 7 So I thought: After all this she will return to me; but she did not.
7 Her perverse sister, Judah, saw 8 that for all the adulteries of that unfaithful Israel, I sent her away with a certificate of divorce. Yet I saw that the disloyal Judah had no fear and that she too went and played the harlot! 9 Because of her harlotry, she dishonored the land, sinning with stones and trees. 10 And even after that her sister, the unfaithful Judah, did not come to me wholeheartedly. It was only pretense. It is Yahweh who speaks.”
11 And Yahweh continued, “Rebellious Israel has been less guilty than false Judah. 12 Go and shout this message to the north:
12 Come back, unfaithful Israel – it is Yahweh who speaks – I will not let my anger fall on you for I am merciful, I will not be angry forever.
13 Simply confess your guilt; you have rebelled against Yahweh your God, and have scattered your favors among strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed my voice – it is the word of Yahweh.
The new Jerusalem
14 Come back, faithless people – it is Yahweh who speaks – for I am your master. I will select one from a city and two from a family and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and prudence. 16 And when you have increased and multiplied in the land in those days – it is Yahweh who speaks – people will no longer speak of the ark of the covenant of Yahweh; it will not be remembered or missed, nor shall it be made again!
17 Then they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of Yahweh’ and all the nations will gather there to honor the name of Yahweh and no longer will they follow the stubbornness of their wicked hearts.
18 In those days the people of Judah will unite with the people of Israel and together they will return from the north to the land that I gave to their ancestors as a heritage.
Continuation of the poem for conversion
19 And I thought: How gladly would I have placed you among my children and given you as your inheritance a beautiful land, the most splendid among all the nations! And I thought you would call me ‘my father’ and not turn from following me!
20 But, like a woman unfaithful to her husband, you have been unfaithful to me, O people of Israel! – it is Yahweh who speaks.”
21 A cry is heard in the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the children of Israel, because they have perverted their way and have forgotten Yahweh their God!
22 “Come back, unfaithful people, I will heal you of your rebelliousness!”
22 ‘Yes, we come to you, for you are Yahweh our God!
23 Truly the temples on the heights and the feasts on the hills are useless; only Yahweh our God can save Israel.
24 The infamous god has devoured all the fruits of our ancestors’ labor since our youth, their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. 25 Let us lie down in our shame and let our confusion cover us, for it is against Yahweh our God that we have sinned from our youth until this day, we and our fathers, and we have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh our God!’