Worship Of Calf Idols!
He has rejected your calf, O Samaria, saying, “My anger burns against them!” How long will they be incapable of innocence?
Hosea 8:5 (NASB)
The first person speech of God gives way to the prophet’s third person: “He has rejected your calf, O Samaria.” The entire history of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) had been marked by worship of calves that the first king, Jeroboam I, had set up about 930 B.C. (1 Kings 12:28-33).
God never accepted those calves as true representation of his worship. Indeed, the calves incited Israel to worship the bull that represented Baal in the Canaanite worship system.
God’s first person reappears to say, My anger burns against them. The plural refers at least to the calves at Dan and Bethel, the two official Northern Kingdom temples, and possibly to other calves used in worship at outlying high places or even to calves in official Baal sanctuaries.
God concludes the verse with a cry of exasperation,
God wanted a people who knew him so well that they would keep his laws, keep their covenant agreement, and thus enter a love relationship with him. But a look into the past showed no hope for the future.
For this [calf] too is from Israel; a craftsman made it; therefore it is not God. The calf of Samaria shall be broken to shivers and go up in flames.
Hosea 8:6 (AMP)
God’s exasperation continues as he exclaims that the calves are from Israel, made by human hands.
How can people possibly worship them?
Here Hosea echoes Isaiah’s plaintive poetry (Isa. 40:19-20). Human artisans cannot create gods, much less the one true God. Their creations are doomed to end up as splintered ruins. They have no power.
Holman Old Testament Commentary