Hosea 8.4-7,11-13; Psalm 113B; Matthew 9.32-38
Hosea refers to Israel as Samaria, after its capital city. Hosea writes in the 8th Century Before Christ, long after David’s united monarchy has been sundered into two kingdoms: Judah, centred on Jerusalem, in the south, and Israel in the north. Hosea denounces the ‘calf of Samaria’, a reference to the golden calf made by Aaron whilst the people impatiently awaited Moses’ return from his conference with their Lord and God. [Exodus 32.1-35] For Hosea that episode stood for the whole history of Israel’s relationship with God. ‘They will have to go back to Egypt’ he asserts.
Israel was formed as a nation by the experience of wandering in the wilderness. Upon their liberation from Egypt God had declared that they would not enter the promised land by the short way but ‘by the roundabout way of the wilderness’. [Exodus 13.17-18] Continually the people complained that Moses had led them to a place of death [14.11; 16.2-3; 17.3] but, paradoxically, the wilderness was a place where they were to find life worthy of the name.
[cf John 10.10] In the wilderness a loose collection of slaves was transformed into a people united to each other by their ever-deepening union with God himself.