2 KINGS CHAPTER 17.
The Captivity of the Ten Tribes.
THE END OF ISRAEL AS A NATION. — V. 1. In the twelfth year of Ahaz, king of Judah, began Hoshea, the son of Elah, after some eight years of a state bordering on anarchy, to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years. V. 2. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, since Jeroboam’s calf-worship was not abolished under him, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him, he was not their equal in idolatrous practices. V. 3. Against him came up Shalmaneser, king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, a tributary vassal, and gave him presents, rendered the tribute demanded of him. V. 4. And the king of Assyria, Shalmaneser, whose general was Sargon, found conspiracy in Hoshea, he received evidence of the fact that the king of Israel was secretly planning to overthrow his power; for he had sent messengers to So, also called Seveh and Shebek, king of Egypt, the only other great power which seemed in a position to cope with Assyria, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year, he had refused to deliver his tribute money and thus revolted against the Assyrian supremacy; therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison, this being the end of his reign. V. 5. Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years, since it was very strongly fortified. V. 6. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel, what was left of the ten tribes after the campaign of Tiglath-pileser, chap. 15, 29, away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, in Northern Assyria, not far from the Caspian Sea, and in the cities of the Medes. It was at this time that the captive king of Israel was taken in chains to Assyria and there put in prison. The reasons for this fearful catastrophe, whereby Israel ceased to exist as a nation, are now given. V. 7. For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord, their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, a fact of which their prophets had reminded them time and again, and had feared other gods, this worship of idols being equivalent to a complete rejection of Jehovah, v. 8. and walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, accepting all their religious ordinances and customs, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. Instead of abiding faithfully by the ordinances which Jehovah had given, the people observed the new rules, as given them by their kings, without divine authority. V. 9. And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord, their God, literally, “covered over, or attached to, Jehovah,” things that were not right or proper, either concealing Him by this mass of strange material, or ascribing things to Him with which He had no business, and they built them high places in all their cities, namely, for purposes of idolatry, from the tower of the watchmen, the lonely buildings erected for the protection of the flocks, to the fenced city; the places of their idol worship were found everywhere. V. 10. And they set them up images, statues of Baal, and groves, Ashera idols, dedicated to the heathen goddess Astarte, in every high hill and under every green tree; v. 11. and there they burned incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them, and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger; v. 12. for they served idols, logs and masses of stone, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing, Deut. 4, 19. V. 13. Yet the Lord testified against Israel and against Judah, in the course of all these many years, by all the prophets and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the Law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants, the prophets. They had had both the written Law and the preaching of the prophets to guide them, but they had heeded neither. V. 14. Notwithstanding, they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, they were stubborn and obstinate, that did not believe in the Lord, their God. V. 15. And they rejected His statutes, the precepts of the covenant, and His covenant that He made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He testified against them, warning them of the results of their wickedness; and they followed vanity and became vain, Rom. 1, 21; for heathenism deals with nothingness, with things that really do not exist, but in the foolish imagination of men, and went after the heathen that were round about them, following them in all their idolatry and wickedness, concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them, Deut. 12, 30. 31. V. 16. And they left all the commandments of the Lord, their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, the ones made by Jeroboam, and made a grove, wooden Ashera idols, and worshiped all the host of heaven, the sun, the moon, the planets, for traces of this idolatry were found very early, and served Baal. V. 17. And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, a particularly horrible offense, and used divination and enchantments, Deut. 18, 10, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, slaves to every form of wickedness, to provoke Him to anger. V. 18. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah only, the ten tribes were led away from the country where Jehovah had His dwelling. V. 19. Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord, their God, they also became guilty of apostasy, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made, following the idolatrous customs of the northern nation. V. 20. And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, the reference here being to the ten tribes, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, the heathen nations which made them tributary and plundered them, until He had cast them out of His sight. V. 21. For He rent Israel from the house of David, for the division of the kingdom of Solomon took place according to God’s decree; and they made Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, king; and 3eroboam drave Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin, in establishing idol-worship. V. 22. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did, they departed not from them, v.23. until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, since it persevered in wickedness in spite of all divine warnings, as He had said by all His servants, the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. It was the end of the former mighty kingdom. Some parts of the Christian Church today resemble the kingdom of Israel before the Exile. The redemption through the blood of Christ is denied, the fundamental facts of God’s Word are denied, hypocrisy is lifting its head with ever greater arrogance. But the time will come when all such false Christians will be rejected forever from the face of the Lord.
THE ORIGIN OF THE SAMARITANS. — V. 24. And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sephar-vaim, colonists from all these cities, districts, and provinces to the north and east, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel, the great majority of whom had been taken away and never saw the land of their birth again; and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. V. 25. And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there that they feared not the Lord, there was no worship of Jehovah in the land; therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which had had a chance to multiply during the time that the country lay waste, which slew some of them. V. 26. Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, sending him a special message, saying, The nations which thou hast removed and placed in the cities of Samaria know not the manner of the God of the land, for they believed that each country had its own god; therefore He hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land, had no idea of the religious customs and worship which He desired. V. 27. Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence, one of those addicted to calf-worship, and let them go and dwell there, that is, the colonists, who were not to leave the country, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land. V. 28. Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, one of the former centers of calf-worship, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. It was, indeed, only a very meager and insufficient instruction, because the man himself possessed only an incomplete knowledge of Jehovah. Therefore a strange mixture of religions resulted. V. 29. Howbeit, every nation made gods of their own, retaining their old idols, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, in the old places of worship, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt; since they lived in communities according to the countries from which they came, they retained their ancient worship beside that of Jehovah. The religion of Samaria therefore became a monstrosity, as the further description shows. V. 30. And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the goddess of victories and also of fertility, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, the god of battles, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, a very repulsive god under the picture of a goat, v. 31. and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, the former in the shape of a dog, the latter in that of a donkey, and the Sepharvites burned their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim, idols like the Moloch of the southeastern nations. V. 32. So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them, from the mass of the people, without regard to Levitical extraction, priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. V. 33. They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. It was a hybrid religion of the most abominable kind, which has left its impress on the people of that country to this day. V. 34. Unto this day they do after their former manners; they fear not the Lord, for it is impossible for true reverence and devotion to exist under such conditions, 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, v. 35. with whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, in the assembly at Mount Sinai and through Moses, His servant, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them; v. 36. 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, Deut. 10, 20. V. 37. And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the Law, and the commandment which He wrote for you ye shall observe to do forevermore; and ye shall not fear other gods. V. 38. And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget, Deut. 4, 23; neither shall ye fear other gods. V. 39. But the Lord, your God, ye shall fear; and He shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. V. 40. Howbeit, they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner, they continued the worship introduced by Jeroboam. V. 41. So these nations, the inhabitants of Samaria, feared the Lord, they knew of Him and were afraid of Him as a mighty God, and served their graven images, to those they gave their faith and worship, both their children and their children’s children; as did their fathers, so do they unto this day. Although the Samaritans, after the Jewish exile, discontinued the actual gross service of idols, they remain in their blindness and darkness to this day, accepting only the five Books of Moses as the Word of God and rejecting Jesus as the Messiah. They are nearer the true religion than the heathen, but the knowledge which they possess is not the saving knowledge. There is only one way to heaven – through the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior.