Ephraim and Judah saw that they were not in a good place, since they were sick and wounded. King Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria had taken over the northern half of Israel. Then the king of Israel, King Pekah (737-732 BCE) made an alliance with the king of Aram, the area around Damascus, or southern Syria. However, this did not help. Therefore, Yahweh was going to be a lion against Ephraim, and a young lion against Judah. Meanwhile, Yahweh was going to tear himself away. He was not going to rescue them.
Yahweh has scorned his own altar in the Temple at Jerusalem. He has disowned his own sanctuary. The enemies have taken over the palaces and its walls. There are now clamorous battle cries in the house of Yahweh, as if it was a festival day, but without anyone there. The house of Yahweh has been destroyed. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Zayin. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.