Please you then listen to the dirge I raise for you, men of Israel: Fallen she is, never to rise again,
Israel, the unsubdued; stretched at full length she lies there forsaken!
Ay, the Lord God says, but a hundred citizens, but ten villagers left to you, city that marched out a thousand, village a hundred strong!
Yet warning the Lord gave to the race of Israel: On peril of your lives, to my aid betake you!
Not to Bethel, not to Galgal’s ring-shrine, or Bersabee pilgrimage; a long road yonder circle shall lead you, a road that never returns; house of God shall not avail you, that is home of idols now!
On your lives, to the Lord betake you, as you would not see all Joseph ablaze, quenchless fire raging over Bethel!
And still you poison the springs of justice, still in the dust fling honour away.
Creator he of Arcturus and Orion; dawn brings he out of darkness, and turns night to day, beckons to the waters of the sea, and over the surface of earth spreads them, such the power of his name!
At his glance falls ruin on the strong, devastation on the fortified.
Ill looks he will earn at yonder city gate, that finds fault; the wise word, there, is a thing abominable.
Yet, trust me, it shall nothing avail you, this harrying of the poor, and taking toll of the best they have. Houses of stone you build you shall never dwell in, sunny vineyards you plant you shall drink of never.
Your often misdoing, your heinous guilt, never think I am blind to it; innocence hated, the bribe taken, the poor refused their rights at the judgement-seat!
And should wisdom keep silence in times like these, ill times like these?✻
Set your minds on right, that now are set on wrong-doing; so you shall find life, so your boast shall come true that the Lord, the God of hosts, is with you.
Shun wrong, cherish the right, justice enthrone at your judgement-seat; then there is hope that the Lord, the God of hosts, will have mercy on some remnant of Joseph’s line.
This doom he utters, he, the Lord of hosts, he, our Master: Market-place or street is none but shall echo with wailing and cries of woe; country-folk, and such as are skilled in mourning, they shall call in to make dirge and dole;✻
dirge, too, the vineyards shall sing; all this, when I make my way through your midst, the Lord says.
Fools, that wait eagerly for the day of the Lord’s coming! Think you it shall serve your turn? Nay, it is the Lord’s day of triumph, not yours; dawn it must, but in darkness, not in light.
Speeds he well, that shuns lion and meets bear? Has he joy of his home-coming, that leans hand on wall, and all at once is bitten by a viper?
And for you, that day brings darkness, not the light you craved for; no radiance haunts about it, only gloom.
Oh, but I am sick and tired of them, your solemn feasts; incense that goes up from your assemblies I can breathe no longer!
Burnt-sacrifice still? Bloodless offerings still? Nay, I will have none of them; fat be the victims you slay in welcome, I care not.
O to be rid of the singing, the harp’s music, that dins my ear!
And like waters rolling in full tide, like a perennial stream, right and justice shall abound …
What, men of Israel, did you spend forty years in the desert, ever for me your burnt-sacrifice, ever for me your offerings;
and now would you have Moloch for your king, a star for your god, carry shrine of theirs, idolatrous image you made of them, hither and thither?✻
What wonder if I banish you beyond Damascus far away? Dooms you with his own sign-manual the Lord, the God of hosts.
The Holy Bible