1 Come, and let us return unto Jehovah; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
The sickness may be metaphorical or literal. Either way, God is the one who restores to wholeness those who are broken. God will restore the covenant.
2 After two days will he revive us: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live before him. 3 And let us know, let us follow on to know Jehovah: his going forth is sure as the morning; and he will come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that watereth the earth.
The coming of God is as certain as the dawn. And when he comes he brings life, just as the autumn rains made it possible for the harvest to be successful.
4 O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the dew that goeth early away.
Yet the faithfulness of the people is as fleeting and uncertain as the fog or the dew. It is there when the darkness is present -- but when the light of joy dawns, it disappears.
5 Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.
The word spoken and the act fulfilled are simultaneous. Both occur immediately by the power of God. See 2 Kings 17:13-14.
6 For I desire goodness, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings. 7 But they like Adam have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.
Instead of such fleeting faithfulness, God desires real loyalty. A difficulty lies in the verse -- for the Hebrew text literally says “at Adam they have transgressed” instead of “like Adam...”. The city of Adam was on the Jordan river, cf. Josh 3:16. But the specific breach of covenant that took place there is unknown.
8 Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity; it is stained with blood.
Murder and anarchy are rampant.
9 And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way toward Shechem; yea, they have committed lewdnesshave seen a horrible thing: there whoredom is found in Ephraim, Israel is defiled.
The picture of the priests here is that they are caricatured as a bunch of highwaymen!!! Like common thieves they rob the people by misleading them in worship and robbing them of God.
11 Also, O Judah, there is a harvest appointed for thee, when I bring back the captivity of my people.
In the Old Testament, harvest can have a positive connotation (as in Dt 28:4) or a negative connotation (as in Jer 51:33). Since it here seems to take place after the restoration, it should probably be taken in a positive light.
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