Hosea 8 − Commentary

God is Angry with Israel Because She Prays to Idols

1 Put a trumpet to your lips and warn people!

An eagle is over the Lord's house,

because the people of Israel have broken my covenant.

They have not kept my laws.

2 Israel calls out to me. She says, 'We in Israel know you'.

3 But Israel refused the good things that I gave.

So the enemy will follow her.

4 My people chose kings, but they did not ask me for help.

My people chose leaders, but they did not choose men that I knew.

Israel used her silver and gold to make idols for herself.

I will destroy them because of this.

5 I do not like the gold bull that the people of Samaria worship.

I am very angry with the people of Israel.

It will take a long time for them to be without sin.

6 A worker from Israel made that young cow.

It is not a god at all!

I will break Samaria's bull into pieces.

7 The people of Israel did a stupid thing − it was like trying to plant the wind.

But they will only get troubles − they will receive a very strong wind in return.

The wheat in the field will grow, but it will not produce any flour.

If the wheat grew, then foreigners would eat it.

8 Israel has become like any other nation.

She is like something that nobody wants.

9 Israel has gone to Assyria for help.

She is like a wild animal that walks without any direction.

The people of Israel have sold themselves to other countries.

They wanted to love these countries.

10 They have sold themselves to other nations.

But I will bring the people of Israel together.

There will be a time when they stop appointing kings or leaders.

11 Ephraim has built more and more altars.

But these altars have become places where Ephraim sins.

12 I gave the people of Israel all my commandments.

But they act as if those commandments do not mean anything to them.

13 Israel loves sacrifices.

She offers meat in these sacrifices and then they eat it.

The Lord does not accept these sacrifices.

He remembers their guilt.

And he will punish their sins.

They must return to Egypt.

14 Israel built houses for kings.

But she forgot the person who made Israel!

Judah made her towns strong.

But I will send fire on the cities of Judah.

And this fire will destroy these strong towns!

A new part of the book of Hosea begins here. The chapter is about how God wants to forget Israel. Hosea describes Israel's sin. Then, at the end of the chapter, Hosea describes God's judgement. God is going to kill Israel (verse 1). He will do this in war (verse 3). Deuteronomy 28:49 says, 'God will bring a nation against you from far away, like an eagle...' In 5:14, God is like a young lion that also wants to kill. There is a good reason why God wants to do this. Israel has broken God's covenant and God's laws.

Israel says that she 'calls out' to God (verse 2). She says that she wants God's help. They needed food. They wanted God to look after them. They thought that God would always be able to help them. But Israel has shown that they did not want God. They should know that Assyria will win the war because of this.

Hosea now describes Israel's sins. They wanted to choose their kings. But it is God alone who chooses kings (verse 4). It is God who gives kings to countries (see 1 Kings 19:15-16). It was a big mistake when Israel decided to choose her own kings.

The other big sin of Israel was that she made idols. But the Israelites will destroy themselves with these idols. God does not want to know about the 'gold bull' of Samaria. King Jeroboam 1^st^ built this bull (1 Kings 12:26-30). He was trying to copy the bull that Aaron had built (Exodus 32). Some people say that this animal was not an idol. They say that the animal was not trying to copy a god. The people that made the animal made it into something else. But Exodus 32:4 says that people looked at it as if it was a god. After many years, people forgot that the animal was not a god. It slowly became one.

Because of this, God is 'angry' with Israel (verse 5). We do not know what the idol looked like. Perhaps it was a person with the head of a bull. Perhaps it was a young bull. It is probable that the idol was wooden. But a person cannot see God. Hosea says that this idol of a cow or bull is really nothing (verse 6). God will destroy this bull easily. The people were breaking the commandment in Exodus 20:4-6.

Hosea then uses another picture (verse 7). The 'wind' and the 'very strong wind' are Israel's enemies. It is like the curse of Deuteronomy 28:38, 'You will sow much seed in the field. But there will be very little harvest'. The Israelites will receive what they deserve. The phrase about the wind might have another meaning. Perhaps Hosea means that the people are behaving without any purpose. They do not know which way to go (see Job 7:7). The 'very strong wind' comes and makes this worse. God will make sure that their wheat will not produce anything. The enemy (Assyria) will get what Israel has worked for. Lamentations 2:5 says, 'God is like an enemy; he has eaten Israel'. Israel will stop being anything. Nobody will be able to use her (verse 8).

In 732 BC, Hoshea, when he became king, went to Assyria for help. He wanted to stop Tiglath-Pileser 3^rd^ from ruling Israel (verse 9). But Israel is like an animal. She does not know where she is going. She is alone (see Job 24:5) and lost. But God will find her and then he will punish her.

Verse 10 is describing the time when a foreign nation will control Israel. Israel will have to pay large taxes. (This happened when Hoshea was king of Israel.) They will not be free.

God hated the altars in the North (verse 11). There were too many. The covenant said that there should only be one altar. It was Jeroboam 1^st^ who built all these altars (1 Kings 12:26-33). He wanted to stop people going to Jerusalem. But then it became easy for people to worship in wrong ways. The altars became places where people ate and drank too much. They became a place to sin.

The people also did not want to know about the law (verse 12). The priests and the prophets did not tell the people about the law. So, the people did not think that the law was important.

The people made sacrifices but the people were not clean to God (verse 13). They were not sorry for their sin. So, God would send them back to Egypt. This does not mean that God will actually send them to Egypt. It means that they will go into exile somewhere. Israel wanted to put their hope in 'houses for kings'. But God is going to burn these places. He will send an army to destroy Israel's hopes.