1 When Ephraim spoke, men trembled; he was exalted in Israel; but he incurred guilt through Baal and died. 2 And now they sin more and more, and make for themselves molten images, idols skillfully made of their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. Sacrifice to these, they say. Men kiss calves! 3 Therefore they shall be like the morning mist or like the dew that goes early away, like the chaff that swirls from the threshing floor or like smoke from a window.
In the first verse of this chapter, the question is, what did Ephraim say that made men tremble? It seems strange and mysterious. However in the Hebrew text there is no break between this chapter and the preceding one. It is one continuos idea. The last verse of 12 said—
Ephraim has given bitter provocation; so his LORD will leave his bloodguilt upon him, and will turn back upon him his reproaches. Hos. 12:14
So what Ephraim spoke, that made men tremble in the first verse of this chapter was something to the effect that Baal worship was good. It was this that provoked God and any sensible person should tremble at the thought of provoking the Creator of the Universe.
This may have exalted Ephraim in The Ten Northern Tribes, as people always gladly follow error. There are always those that want to be free from a jealous vengeful God. Anyone that will give them the kind of god they want, will be praised. This kind of lie will ultimately lead to great judgement. Teaching that Baal brought them out of Egypt, and that he was the one who sent the rains that made the crops grow, was a grave error. Just as teaching that Sunday is the Sabbath, nor Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, or Easter is the day He rose from the dead. Lying about God is a dangerous thing.
Not only did they teach others Baal worship, but they put actual idols before the people, and taught them to sacrifice to them. However they are warned that like the dew of dawn they were going to melt away. Like chaff they will blow away, were no one knows who or where they are.
4 I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior. 5 It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; 6 but when they had fed to the full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me. 7 So I will be to them like a lion, like a leopard I will lurk beside the way. 8 I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rend them.
The LORD, like any jilted husband, was outraged by their treatment of Him. It is He who brought them out of Egypt, feed the in the wilderness, watered them in desert. But since they came into the land of milk and honey and had eaten their fill they no longer remembered Him. So like an animal of prey, He will tear them apart, devour and destroy them. God Himself is going to do this personally, just as He had personally killed the first-born of Egypt.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. Ex. 12:12
A people cannot just walk away from the God of covenants. Even today to break a contract is a serious matter, and to break a contract with the Creator of the Universe is just plan stupid.
There are no other gods that make covenants with people. There are gods of places, and gods of the families and ancestry, and there are gods of the heavens. None of them make covenants. People just believe that they are there. Where the God of the Bible makes covenants, where those who follow Him are blessed, and the promise of eternal life is dependent on a blood covenant.
9 I will destroy you, O Israel; who can help you? 10 Where now is your king, to save you; where are all your princes, to defend you — those of whom you said, “Give me a king and princes”? 11 I have given you kings in my anger, and I have taken them away in my wrath.
However the people did not want the God of the blood covenant they had wanted kings instead of God’s direct rule. God asked “how are those kings working out?” “How are they going to defend the people?”
The Assyrians were coming, because God was going send them. When they came the people all went into exile. That is the price for not keeping the covenant with God.
12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up, his sin is kept in store. 13 The pangs of childbirth come for him, but he is an unwise son; for now he does not present himself at the mouth of the womb.
Judgement was coming, and the people are not going to want to see it come. Because off all their sin and all their iniquity the Ten Northern Tribes, are still-born. God reasoned that he was not going to rescue them from Sheol or the place of the dead. He had no more compassion on His favored son.
The last king of the Ten Northern Tribes was Hoshea, he was taken by Shalmaneser (727-722 B.C.) king of Assyria [2 Kings 17]. Then it was his son Sargon II (722-705 B.C.) who took the common people into captivity. The Ten Northern Tribes ceased to exist some time in late 722 B.C. or early 721 B.C.
In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 2 Kings 17:6
FYI: Sargon and his son Esarhaddon (681-669 B.C.) as well as the next king Ashurbanipal (669-633 B.C.) had a policy of interchanging minority groups with in the borders of the empire. So the area that had been the Ten Northern Tribe’s were repopulated with peoples from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim, all peoples from Mesopotamia. They were the forefathers of the people called the Samaritans.
14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? Compassion is hid from my eyes.
They will go down to Sheol with no compassion from God. God could easily remove the plagues and destruction, but He will not.
FYI: Sheol is the place of the dead in the Old Testament. Unfortunately most peoples ideas of heaven and hell come from paganism and not the Bible. The place is alway described as down, therefore it is subterranean. Both the good and the bad where said to be there. According to Messiah there is a great chasm between the good and bad. [Luke 16:26]
15 Though he may flourish as the reed plant, the east wind, the wind of the LORD, shall come, rising from the wilderness; and his fountain shall dry up, his spring shall be parched; it shall strip his treasury of every precious thing. 16 Samaria shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open.
There is nothing to be done. They are to be dried up by the east wind. They will fall by the sword, the little ones dashed in pieces and the pregnant will be ripped open. All this because they did not keep faith with the One True God. Because the gods of the pagan nations were more exciting, fun, controllable, than a jealous vengeful God who wanted their undivided love. They mixed their ideas of God with pagan ideas. So now they are gone.
The Congregation of the Lord received the same kind of warning.
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Rom. 11:17-21