Chapter 4

1Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel; for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land; for there is neither truth nor loving-kindness nor knowledge of God in the land.   אשִׁמְע֥וּ דְבַר־יְהֹוָ֖ה בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל כִּ֣י רִ֚יב לַֽיהֹוָה֙ עִם־יוֹשְׁבֵ֣י הָאָ֔רֶץ כִּ֠י אֵֽין־אֱמֶ֧ת וְאֵֽין־חֶ֛סֶד וְאֵֽין־דַּ֥עַת אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּאָֽרֶץ:
2There is swearing and lying and killing and stealing and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and blood touches blood.   באָלֹ֣ה וְכַחֵ֔שׁ וְרָצֹ֥חַ וְגָנֹ֖ב וְנָאֹ֑ף פָּרָ֕צוּ וְדָמִ֥ים בְּדָמִ֖ים נָגָֽעוּ:
swearing and lying: They swear falsely.  
they break all bounds: Jonathan paraphrases: They bear children from their friends’ wives.  
blood touches blood: They multiply transgression upon transgression (Targum Jonathan). Now according to its more apparent meaning: they broke down all bounds and increased bloodshed until the blood of one murdered person touches the blood of another.  
3Therefore shall the land mourn, and all that dwell therein shall be cut off, along with the beasts of the field, and the fowl of the heavens; also the fish of the sea shall be diminished.   געַל־כֵּ֣ן | תֶּֽאֱבַ֣ל הָאָ֗רֶץ וְאֻמְלַל֙ כָּל־יוֹשֵׁ֣ב בָּ֔הּ בְּחַיַּ֥ת הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה וּבְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם וְגַם־דְּגֵ֥י הַיָּ֖ם יֵֽאָסֵֽפוּ:
shall… mourn: the land shall be destroyed and the mourning therein shall grow.  
shall be diminished: Heb. יֵאָסְפוּ. Jonathan renders: diminished because of their sins. It is an expression of destruction, similar to, “I will utterly consume them (אָסֹף אֲסִיפֵם) ” (Jeremiah 8:13).  
4Surely let no man strive, and let no man reprove; for your people are like them who strive with the priest.   דאַ֥ךְ אִ֛ישׁ אַל־יָרֵ֖ב וְאַל־יוֹכַ֣ח אִ֑ישׁ וְעַמְּךָ֖ כִּמְרִיבֵ֥י כֹהֵֽן:
let no man strive: You forewarn the true prophets not to strive with you nor to reprove you, as it is written concerning Amos (7:16), that Amaziah the priest of Bethel said to him (i.e. to Amos): “Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.” This transpired in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash in whose time Hosea prophesied.  
them who strive with the priest: They strive with their instructors, for the priests were the instructors, as it is written [concerning the priestly tribe of Levi]: “They shall teach Your judgments to Jacob, etc.” (Deut. 33:10).  
5Therefore you shall stumble in the daytime, and the prophet that is with you shall also stumble with you in the night, and I will silence your mother.   הוְכָֽשַׁלְתָּ֣ הַיּ֔וֹם וְכָשַׁ֧ל גַּם־נָבִ֛יא עִמְּךָ֖ לָ֑יְלָה וְדָמִ֖יתִי אִמֶּֽךָ:
stumble: You shall stumble in the daytime and the false prophets with you shall also stumble as if it were night, and I will (thereby) put to shame your assembly. [from Targum Jonathan]  
the prophet that is with you: To be understood as the plural: The prophets that are with you.  
silence: Heb. וְדָמִתִי similar to: “my people were silenced (Heb. נִדְמוּ עַמִי of v. 6)” just as a man who sits bewildered and cannot respond.  
6My people were silenced for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being a priest to me; seeing that you have forgotten the Torah of your God, I, too, will forget your children.   ונִדְמ֥וּ עַמִּ֖י מִבְּלִ֣י הַדָּ֑עַת כִּ֣י אַתָּ֞ה הַדַּ֣עַת מָאַ֗סְתָּ וְאֶמְאָֽסְךָ֙ (כתיב וְאֶמְאָֽסְאךָ֙) מִכַּהֵ֣ן לִ֔י וַתִּשְׁכַּח֙ תּוֹרַ֣ת אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ אֶשְׁכַּ֥ח בָּנֶ֖יךָ גַּם־אָֽנִי:
forget your children: For those who stood on Mt. Sinai offered their children as surety for their parents to keep the Torah. [based on Tanhuma, vayigash 2, Mid. Psalms 8:4]  
7The more they have increased, the more they have sinned against Me; I will (therefore) exchange their honor for shame.   זכְּרֻבָּ֖ם כֵּ֣ן חָֽטְאוּ־לִ֑י כְּבוֹדָ֖ם בְּקָל֥וֹן אָמִֽיר:
the more they have sinned against me: As they multiplied and increased, so they continued to sin.(Heb. כֵן חָטְאוּ.) So is the Hebrew expression in numerous places: “As they afflicted them, so they increased (Heb. אוֹתו ֹכֵן יִרְבֶּה כֲּאֲשֶׁר יְעַנוּ);” “As they called them so they turned away from them, (Heb. קָרְאוּ לָהֶם כֵּן הָלְכוּ מִפְּנֵיהֶם Hosea 11:2),” the more the prophets called after them to rebuke them, so they ran away from them.  
the more they have increased the more they have sinned: Therefore “I will exchange their glory for shame.”  
8They feed on the sin offerings of My people, and set their heart on their inquity.   חחַטַּ֥את עַמִּ֖י יֹאכֵ֑לוּ וְאֶל־עֲו‍ֹנָ֖ם יִשְׂא֥וּ נַפְשֽׁוֹ:
the sin- offerings of My people: Heb. חַטַּאתעַמִּי. Every (mention of) חַטַּאת in the books of the Twelve Prophets appear with (the diacritical voweling of) ‘patachin’ (under the letter ט) as follows: חַטַּאת, since all are connected (to the following word) with the exception of one: “she was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion. (Heb. חַטָּאתהִיא לְבַתצִיוּן Michah 1:3).” The sin-offerings of my nation shall be eaten by the false prophets concerning whom had been stated above: “and the prophet that is with you shall also stumble with you (v. 5).” They became for them priests of the high places who would eat what the legitimate priests should rightfully have eaten.  
set their heart on their iniquity: On the iniquity of the people of Israel, the prophet sets his heart; for the prophet himself hopes that they shall bring him money and sacrifices to expiate their sins.  
9And it shall be like people, like priest; and I will punish them for their ways, and requite them for their deeds.   טוְהָיָ֥ה כָעָ֖ם כַּכֹּהֵ֑ן וּפָֽקַדְתִּ֚י עָלָיו֙ דְּרָכָ֔יו וּמַֽעֲלָלָ֖יו אָשִׁ֥יב לֽוֹ:
like people, like priest: I will equate the nation to the disgrace of the priests whom I desecrated from administering to them. So will I desecrate them among the nations. So had Jonathan translated.  
10For they shall eat, and not be satisfied; they shall commit harlotry and shall not increase; because they have forsaken God to take heed [of His ways].   יוְאָֽכְלוּ֙ וְלֹ֣א יִשְׂבָּ֔עוּ הִזְנ֖וּ וְלֹ֣א יִפְרֹ֑צוּ כִּֽי־אֶת־יְהֹוָ֥ה עָֽזְב֖וּ לִשְׁמֹֽר:
shall not increase: Shall not raise children.  
11Harlotry and [old] wine and new wine take away the heart.   יאזְנ֛וּת וְיַ֥יִן וְתִיר֖וֹשׁ יִֽקַּח־לֵֽב:
take away the heart: The harlotry and [old] wine and new wine with which they are involved have captured their hearts away from me.  
12My people takes counsel of his piece of wood, and his rod declares to him. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to err, and they have gone astray lewdly from under their God.   יבעַמִּי֙ בְּעֵצ֣וֹ יִשְׁאָ֔ל וּמַקְל֖וֹ יַגִּ֣יד ל֑וֹ כִּ֣י ר֚וּחַ זְנוּנִים֙ הִתְעָ֔ה וַיִּזְנ֖וּ מִתַּ֥חַת אֱלֹֽהֵיהֶֽם:
takes counsel of his piece of wood: Of the idol which he has made of wood.  
declares to him: To his words (the rod’s) he hearkens: that which the prophets of Baal declare to him in the name of the idols.  
13They sacrifice upon the mountaintops and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and styraxes and elms, because its shadow is good; therefore your daughters commit harlotry, and your daughters-in-law commit adultery.   יגעַל־רָאשֵׁ֨י הֶהָרִ֜ים יְזַבֵּ֗חוּ וְעַל־הַגְּבָעוֹת֙ יְקַטֵּ֔רוּ תַּ֣חַת אַלּ֧וֹן וְלִבְנֶ֛ה וְאֵלָ֖ה כִּי־ט֣וֹב צִלָּ֑הּ עַל־כֵּ֗ן תִּזְנֶ֙ינָה֙ בְּנ֣וֹתֵיכֶ֔ם וְכַלּוֹתֵיכֶ֖ם תְּנָאַֽפְנָה:
oaks: késna (chéna) in old French, upon which grows a fruit called ‘glant’ in old French (acorns).  
styraxes: Heb. לִבְנֶה, a tree whose bark is white (Heb. לָבָן).  
elms: ‘olma’ in old French, whose branches are many and are planted for shade.  
therefore: Because you participate in idolatry, and the gentile nations join you, you therefore intermarry with them; [hence] your daughters born to you from their daughters act in the manner of their mothers and commit adultery. So does Jonathan interpret.  
14I will not punish your daughters when they commit harlotry, nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery; for they themselves join with harlots, and they sacrifice with the prostitutes; therefore the people that do not understand shall be knocked about.   ידלֹֽא־אֶפְק֨וֹד עַל־בְּנֽוֹתֵיכֶ֜ם כִּ֣י תִזְנֶ֗ינָה וְעַל־כַּלּֽוֹתֵיכֶם֙ כִּֽי תְנָאַ֔פְנָה כִּֽי־הֵם֙ עִם־הַזֹּנ֣וֹת יְפָרֵ֔דוּ וְעִם־הַקְּדֵשׁ֖וֹת יְזַבֵּ֑חוּ וְעָ֥ם לֹֽא־יָבִ֖ין יִלָּבֵֽט:
I will not punish your daughters: anymore, to test them with the ‘bitter waters’ should they commit adultery. Why? Because their husbands join with harlots; for once the man is not free of sin, the waters do not test his wife. [based on Sifrei Num. 5:82 and Sotah 47a]  
join: Heb. יִפָרֵדוּ. Jonathan translates מִסְתַייעָן from סִיעָה, ‘a company,’ that is, they join with them (the harlots) in drinking wine. Now Menahem [Machbereth Menahem p. 145] connects it with עָבְשוּ פְרוּדוֹת“the wine barrels decay” (of Joel 1:17) where they (פְרוּדוֹת) are wine barrels.  
the people that does not understand shall be knocked about: Because you do not set your heart to comprehend, therefore you shall be knocked about, struck with (divine) visitation: יִלָּבֵט is an expression of road weariness and toilsome burden, ‘délaser’ in old French.  
15Though you, O Israel, play the harlot, let not Judah also become guilty; and do not come to Gilgal, nor go up to Beth-aven, nor swear, 'As the Lord lives.'   טואִם־זֹנֶ֚ה אַתָּה֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אַל־יֶאְשַׁ֖ם יְהוּדָ֑ה וְאַל־תָּבֹ֣אוּ הַגִּלְגָּ֗ל וְאַל־תַּֽעֲלוּ֙ בֵּ֣ית אָ֔וֶן וְאַל־תִּשָּֽׁבְע֖וּ חַי־יְהֹוָֽה:
Though you, O Israel, play the harlot: the sons of Judah ought not learn their (sic) way. An alternate explanation is: Though you, O Israel, play the harlot, let not Judah become guilty. Though Israel is as a harlot, the sons of Judah are not guilty thereof, and I shall [therefore] not hold them accountable, as it is written above (1:17): “But I will have compassion upon the house of Judah.”  
and do not come: you sons of Judah to Gilgal. (Judah shall be blameless) provided the sons of Judah do not come to Gilgal where the ten tribes worship [idols], as it is stated: “All their wickedness is in Gilgal” (Hosea 9: 15); “[Come] to Gilgal and multiply transgression” (Amos 4:4).  
nor go up to Beth-aven: This is Bethel (which is called by the pejorative, Beth-aven, house of iniquity), for Jeroboam set up the calves there.  
nor swear: with them (the Israelite kingdom) “as the Lord lives”, “for if they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’ they, nevertheless, swear falsely” (Jer. 5:2). When they swore falsely, they would mention the name of Heaven, but when they swore truthfully, they would swear in the name of the Baalim.  
16For Israel has rebelled like a rebellious cow; now shall the Lord feed them as a lamb in a broad [pasture] area.   טזכִּי כְּפָרָ֣ה סֹֽרֵרָ֔ה סָרַ֖ר יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל עַתָּה֙ יִרְעֵ֣ם יְהֹוָ֔ה כְּכֶ֖בֶשׂ בַּמֶּרְחָֽב:
like a rebellious cow: Like a fattened ox which kicks, so has Israel strayed due to an abundance of food and drink.  
now shall the Lord feed them: a limited feeding, as a lamb who feeds in a wide [sparsely vegetated] area, rather than as a fattened ox which is stuffed with barley and vetch.  
17Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.   יזחֲב֧וּר עֲצַבִּ֛ים אֶפְרָ֖יִם הַֽנַּח־לֽוֹ:
Ephraim is joined to idols: [he] is joined to idols and cannot divest himself of them. Hence you, the prophet, ‘let him alone,’ and do not prophesy for the purpose of rebuking him since it will not avail.  
18Their drinking bouts have become strange; they have led them to harlotry; her rulers love to invite disgrace [upon them].   יחסָ֖ר סָבְאָ֑ם הַזְנֵ֣ה הִזְנ֔וּ אָֽהֲב֥וּ הֵב֛וּ קָל֖וֹן מָֽגִנֶּֽיהָ:
Their drinking bouts have become strange: Their drinking bouts have become estranged from Me. סָר is an expression of ‘foreign.’ Comp. (Jer. 2:21) “a degenerate wild vine (סוּרֵי הַגֶּפֶן נָכְרִיָּה),” i.e., removed from its place and changed to another. סָבְאָם Their wine feast that was with the harlots.  
love to invite disgrace: Heb. הֵבוּ. They invited disgrace for themselves. הֵבוּ is an expression of preparation. Comp. (Gen. 11:4) “Get ready (הָבָה) and let us build”, “Get ready (הָבָה) and let us descend,” (Ex. 10:1) “Get ready (הָבָה) and let us deal wisely.”  
her rulers: Heb. מָגִנֶּיהָ, her shields, her princes and her kings.  
19The wind has bound her up in its wings, and they shall be ashamed of their altars.   יטצָרַ֥ר ר֛וּחַ אוֹתָ֖הּ בִּכְנָפֶ֑יהָ וְיֵבֹ֖שׁוּ מִזִּבְחוֹתָֽם:
The wind has bound her up in its wings: The wind has attached itself to its wings, like a bird, which the wind does not permit to alight until it bears it off into the distance. So will the enemies come upon them and drive them into exile.  
and they shall be ashamed of their altars: Heb. מִזְבְּחוֹתָם, of the altars of their deities (lit. their abominations), to which they do not turn. Now, just as חֵטְא, sin, can be stated in the feminine as חֲטָאָה, so can one say, instead of זֶבח, זִבְחָה, which denotes the places where they would sacrifice. And so did Jonathan render: of the altars of their abominations. Addendum according to Abarbanel: I found a Midrash Tanhuma, where it is an expression of tying, like a man who threatens a person who provokes him, “[I swear] by your life that I will tie it to you at your end.” So does this verse threaten Israel: “My zeal and My fury are tied up to avenge Myself at the end, and they will be ashamed of their deeds.”