Hoshea’s Reign over Israel
1 In the twelfth year of King Ahaz’s reign over Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king over Israel. He reigned in Samaria for nine years. 2 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not to the same degree as the Israelite kings who preceded him. 3 King Shalmaneser of Assyria threatened him; Hoshea became his subject and paid him tribute. 4 The king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was planning a revolt. Hoshea had sent messengers to King So of Egypt and had not sent his annual tribute to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria arrested him and imprisoned him. 5 The king of Assyria marched through the whole land. He attacked Samaria and besieged it for three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea’s reign, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the people of Israel to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, along the Habor (the river of Gozan), and in the cities of the Medes.
A Summary of Israel’s Sinful History
7 This happened because the Israelites sinned against the Lord their God, who brought them up from the land of Egypt and freed them from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshipped other gods; 8 they observed the practices of the nations whom the Lord had driven out from before Israel, and followed the example of the kings of Israel. 9 The Israelites said things about the Lord their God that were not right. They built high places in all their cities, from the watchtower to the fortress. 10 They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. 11 They burned incense on all the high places just like the nations whom the Lord had driven away from before them. Their evil practices made the Lord angry. 12 They worshipped the disgusting idols in blatant disregard of the Lord’s command.
13 The Lord solemnly warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and all the seers, “Turn back from your evil ways; obey my commandments and rules that are recorded in the law. I ordered your ancestors to keep this law and sent my servants the prophets to remind you of its demands.” 14 But they did not pay attention and were as stubborn as their ancestors, who had not trusted the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his rules, the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and the laws he had commanded them to obey. They paid allegiance to worthless idols, and so became worthless to the Lord. They copied the practices of the surrounding nations in blatant disregard of the Lord’s command. 16 They abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God; they made two metal calves and an Asherah pole, bowed down to all the stars in the sky, and worshipped Baal. 17 They passed their sons and daughters through the fire, and practised divination and omen reading. They committed themselves to doing evil in the sight of the Lord and made him angry.
18 So the Lord was furious with Israel and rejected them; only the tribe of Judah was left. 19 Judah also failed to keep the commandments of the Lord their God; they followed Israel’s example. 20 So the Lord rejected all of Israel’s descendants; he humiliated them and handed them over to robbers, until he had thrown them from his presence. 21 He tore Israel away from David’s dynasty, and Jeroboam son of Nebat became their king. Jeroboam drove Israel away from the Lord and encouraged them to commit a serious sin. 22 The Israelites followed in the sinful ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat and did not repudiate them. 23 Finally the Lord rejected Israel just as he had warned he would do through all his servants the prophets. Israel was deported from its land to Assyria and remains there to this very day.
The King of Assyria Populates Israel with Foreigners
24 The king of Assyria brought foreigners from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the Israelites. They took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities. 25 When they first moved in, they did not worship the Lord. So the Lord sent lions among them and the lions were killing them. 26 The king of Assyria was told, “The nations whom you deported and settled in the cities of Samaria do not know the requirements of the God of the land, so he has sent lions among them. They are killing the people because they do not know the requirements of the God of the land.” 27 So the king of Assyria ordered, “Take back one of the priests whom you deported from there. He must settle there and teach them the requirements of the God of the land.” 28 So one of the priests whom they had deported from Samaria went back and settled in Bethel. He taught them how to worship the Lord.
29 But each of these nations made its own gods and put them in the shrines on the high places that the people of Samaria had made. Each nation did this in the cities where they lived. 30 The people from Babylon made Succoth Benoth, the people from Cuth made Nergal, the people from Hamath made Ashima, 31 the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their sons in the fire as an offering to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 At the same time they worshipped the Lord. They appointed some of their own people to serve as priests in the shrines on the high places. 33 They were worshipping the Lord and at the same time serving their own gods in accordance with the practices of the nations from which they had been deported.
34 To this very day they observe their earlier practices. They do not worship the Lord; they do not obey the rules, regulations, law, and commandments that the Lord gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he renamed Israel. 35 The Lord made an agreement with them and instructed them, “You must not worship other gods. Do not bow down to them, serve them, or offer sacrifices to them. 36 Instead you must worship the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt by his great power and military ability; bow down to him and offer sacrifices to him. 37 You must carefully obey at all times the rules, regulations, law, and commandments he wrote down for you. You must not worship other gods. 38 You must never forget the agreement I made with you, and you must not worship other gods. 39 Instead you must worship the Lord your God; then he will rescue you from the power of all your enemies.” 40 But they pay no attention; instead they observe their earlier practices. 41 These nations are worshipping the Lord and at the same time serving their idols; their sons and grandsons do just as their fathers have done, to this very day.
C H Spurgeon
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.