2 Kings 17:23-24. So was Israel carried away out of their own hand to Assyria this day. And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.
It was a part of the tactics of the Assyrian empire to take people away from their original location and colonize them in other places — to shift them to another land; so that while the Israelites were taken to Babylon, numbers of those who had lived round about Babylon were brought to live in the Samaritan province, in order that nationalities might thus be broken down and patriotism might expire, thus making it easier for the Assyrian tyrant to govern the land.
2 Kings 17:25-27. And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them. Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land. Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach in the manner of the God of the land.
He did not care one single farthing himself what religion they were of: but if they did not happen to have a religion to suit the country, “Well, then, send one of the priests who used to live there who can teach them what it is.” According to his notions, they could take it up just when they liked.
2 Kings 17:28-31. Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech the gods of Sepharvaim.
It would answer no practical purpose if I were to explain the meaning of the names of these various gods. They were some of them of brute forms. Their worship was generally attended with the most lascivious rites, and especially the worship of Molech or Moloch, who is mentioned under two different forms here. He was a god whose worship was consummated with the most dreadful cruelties, for children were passed through the fires and burnt in his honour.
2 Kings 17:32-38. So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. They feared the LORD, and served their own gods after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; with whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them nor sacrifice to them; but the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice. And the statues, and the ordinances, and the laws and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods. And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.
How this warning comes over and over and over again!” Hear, O Israel. The Lord thy God is one God.” The worship of anything else under any pretext whatsoever, besides the one ever-blessed trinity in unity is for ever forbidden to us.
2 Kings 17:39-41. But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did their former manner. So these nations feared the LORD and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.
Trying, as far us ever they could, to link the old idolatries with the worship of the true God, which thing is the most loathsome in the sight of Most High.