1Look at Samaria! The drunk people of Ephraim are proud of that city. That city sits on a hill with a rich valley around it. The people of Samaria think their city is a beautiful crown of flowers. But they are drunk with wine. And this “Beautiful Crown” is just a dying plant. 2Look, my Master has a person that is strong and brave. That person will come into the country like a storm of hail and rain. He will come like a storm into the country. He will be like a powerful river of water flooding the country. He will throw that crown ˻(Samaria)˼ down to the ground. 3The drunk people of Ephraim are proud of their “Beautiful Crown.” But that city will be walked on. 4That city sits on a hill with a rich valley around it. And that “Beautiful Crown of Flowers” is just a dying plant. That city will be like the first figs of summer. When a person sees one of those figs, he quickly picks it and eats it. 5At that time, the Lord All-Powerful will become the “Beautiful Crown.” He will be the “Wonderful Crown of Flowers” for his people that are left. 6Then the Lord will give wisdom to the judges that rule his people. The Lord will give strength to the people in battles at the city gates. 7But now those leaders are drunk. The priests and prophets are all drunk with wine and beer. They stumble and fall down. The prophets are drunk when they see their dreams. The judges are drunk when they make their decisions. 8Every table is covered with vomit. There is not a clean place anywhere. 9The Lord is trying to teach a lesson to the people. The Lord is trying to make the people understand his teachings. But the people are like little babies. They are like babies that were at their mother’s breast only a very short time ago. 10˻So the Lord speaks to them like they are babies˼: Saw lasaw saw lasaw Qaw laqaw qaw laqaw Ze’er sham ze’er sham. 11The Lord will use this strange way of talking and he will use other languages to speak to these people. 12In the past God spoke to those people, and he said, “Here is a resting place. This is the peaceful place. Let the tired people come and rest. This is the place of peace.” But the people did not want to listen to God. 13So the words from God were like a foreign language: Saw lasaw saw lasaw. Qaw laqaw qaw laqaw. Ze’er sham ze’er sham.” The people did like they wanted to do. So the people fell back and were defeated. The people were trapped and captured. 14You leaders in Jerusalem should listen to the Lord’s message. But now you refuse to listen to him. 15You people say, “We have made an agreement with death. We have a contract with Sheol—˻the place of death˼. So we will not be punished. Punishment will pass us without hurting us. We will hide behind our tricks and lies.” 16Because of those things, the Lord my Master says, “I will put a rock—a cornerstone—in the ground in Zion. This will be a very precious stone. Everything will be built on this very important rock. Any person that trusts ˻in that rock˼ will not be disappointed. 17“˻People use˼ a measuring line with a weight ˻to show a wall is straight. In the same way˼, I will use justice and goodness ˻to show what is right˼. “You evil people are trying to hide behind your lies and tricks. But ˻you will be punished. It will be like˼ a storm or a flood is coming to destroy your hiding places. 18Your agreement with death will be erased. Your contract with Sheol will not help you. “Some person will come and punish you. He will make you like the dirt he walks on. 19That person will come and take you away. Your punishment will be terrible. Your punishment will come early in the morning, and it will continue late into the night. 20“Then you will understand this story: A man tried to sleep on a bed that was too short for him. And he had a blanket that was not wide enough to cover him. ˻The bed and blanket were useless, and so were your agreements˼.” 21The Lord will fight like he did at Mount Perazim. The Lord will be angry like he was in Gibeon Valley. Then the Lord will do the things he must do. The Lord will do some strange things. But he will finish his work. His work is a stranger’s job. 22Now, you must not fight against those things. If you do, the ropes around you will become tighter. The words I heard will not change. Those words came from the Lord All-Powerful, the ruler of all the earth. And those things will be done. 23Listen closely to the message I am telling you. 24Does a farmer plow his field all the time? No! Does he work the soil all the time? No! 25A farmer prepares the ground, and then he plants the seed. A farmer plants different kinds of seeds different ways. A farmer scatters dill seeds. A farmer throws cummin seeds on the ground. And a farmer plants wheat in rows. A farmer plants barley in its special place, and he plants spelt seeds at the edge of his field. 26Our God is using this to teach you a lesson. ˻This example˼ shows us that God is fair when he punishes his people. 27Does a farmer use large boards with sharp teeth to crush dill seeds? No! Does a farmer use a wagon to crush cummin seeds? No! A farmer uses a small stick to break the hulls from these seeds of grain. 28When a woman makes bread, she works and presses the dough with her hands, but she does not do this forever. The Lord punishes his people in the same way. He will scare them with the wagon wheel, but he will not crush them completely. He will not allow many horses to trample ˻(walk on)˼ them. 29This lesson comes from the Lord All-Powerful. The Lord gives wonderful advice. God is truly wise.