2 Kings 17
Hoshea the Last King of Israel
1Hoshea became king of Israel in Samaria. It was in the 12th year that Ahaz was king of Judah. Hoshea ruled for nine years. He was the son of Elah. 2Hoshea did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. But he wasn’t as evil as the kings of Israel who ruled before him.
3Shalmaneser came up to attack Hoshea. Shalmaneser was king of Assyria. He had been Hoshea’s master. He had forced Hoshea to bring him gifts. 4But the king of Assyria found out that Hoshea had turned against him. Hoshea had sent messengers to So, the king of Egypt. Hoshea didn’t send gifts to the king of Assyria anymore. He had been sending them every year. So Shalmaneser grabbed him and put him in prison. 5The king of Assyria marched into the whole land of Israel. He marched to Samaria and surrounded it for three years. From time to time he attacked it. 6Finally, the king of Assyria captured Samaria. It was in the ninth year of Hoshea. The king of Assyria took the Israelites away from their own land. He sent them off to Assyria. He made some of them live in Halah. He made others live in Gozan on the Habor River. And he made others live in the towns of the Medes.
Israel Is Forced to Leave the Land Because of Sin
7All of this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God. He had brought them up out of Egypt. He had brought them out from under the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. But they worshiped other gods. 8The Lord had driven out other nations to make room for Israel. But they followed the evil practices of those nations. They also followed the practices that the kings of Israel had started. 9The Israelites did things in secret against the Lord their God. What they did wasn’t right. They built high places for worship in all their towns. They built them at lookout towers. They also built them at cities that had high walls around them. 10They set up sacred stones. And they set up poles used to worship the female god named Asherah. They did that on every high hill and under every green tree. 11The Lord had driven out nations to make room for Israel. But the Israelites burned incense at every high place, just as those nations had done. The Israelites did evil things that made the Lord very angry. 12They worshiped statues of gods. They did it even though the Lord had said, “Do not do that.” 13The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers. He said, “Turn from your evil ways. Keep my commands and rules. Obey every part of my Law. I commanded your people who lived long ago to obey it. And I gave it to you through my servants the prophets.”
14But the people wouldn’t listen. They were as stubborn as their people of long ago had been. Those people didn’t trust in the Lord their God. 15They refused to obey his rules. They broke the covenant he had made with them. They didn’t pay any attention to the rules he had warned them to keep. They worshiped worthless statues of gods. Then they themselves became worthless. They followed the example of the nations around them. They did it even though the Lord had ordered them not to. He had said, “Do not do as they do.”
16They turned away from all the commands of the Lord their God. They made two statues of gods for themselves. The statues were shaped like calves. They made a pole used to worship the female god named Asherah. They bowed down to all the stars. And they worshiped the god named Baal. 17They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced all kinds of evil magic. They gave up following God’s rules. They did only what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. All these things made him very angry.
18So the Lord was very angry with Israel. He removed them from his land. Only the tribe of Judah was left. 19And even Judah didn’t obey the commands of the Lord their God. They followed the practices Israel had started. 20So the Lord turned his back on all the people of Israel. He made them suffer. He handed them over to people who stole everything they had. And finally he threw them out of his land.
21The Lord took control of Israel away from the royal house of David. The Israelites made Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, their king. Jeroboam tried to get Israel to stop following the Lord. He caused them to commit a terrible sin. 22The Israelites were stubborn. They continued to commit all the sins Jeroboam had committed. They didn’t turn away from them. 23So the Lord removed them from his land. That’s what he had warned them he would do. He had given that warning through all his servants the prophets. So the people of Israel were taken away from their country. They were forced to go to Assyria. And that’s where they still are.
Assyria Makes Other People Live in Samaria
24The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim. He made all of them live in the towns of Samaria. They took the place of the people of Israel. They lived in all the towns of Samaria. 25When they first lived there, they didn’t worship the Lord. So he sent lions among them. And the lions killed some of the people. 26A report was given to the king of Assyria. He was told, “You forced people to leave their own homes and live in the towns of Samaria. But they don’t know what the god of that country requires. So he has sent lions among them. And the lions are killing the people off. That’s because the people don’t know what that god requires.”
27Then the king of Assyria gave an order. He said, “Get one of the priests you captured from Samaria. Send him back to live there. Have him teach the people what the god of that land requires.” 28So a priest went back to live in Bethel. He was one of the priests who had been forced to leave Samaria. He taught the people of Bethel how to worship the Lord.
29In spite of that, the people from each nation made statues of their own gods. They made them in all the towns where they had been forced to live. They set up those statues in small temples. The people of Samaria had built the temples at the high places. 30The people from Babylon made statues of the god named Sukkoth Benoth. Those from Kuthah made statues of the god named Nergal. Those from Hamath made statues of the god named Ashima. 31The Avvites made statues of the gods named Nibhaz and Tartak. The Sepharvites sacrificed their children in the fire to the gods named Adrammelek and Anammelek. They were the gods of Sepharvaim. 32So the people of Samaria worshiped the Lord. But they also appointed all kinds of their own people to be their priests. The priests served in the small temples at the high places. 33The people worshiped the Lord. But they also served their own gods. They followed the evil practices of the nations they had been taken from.
34The people of Samaria are still stubborn. They continue in their old practices to this day. And now they don’t even worship the Lord. They don’t follow his directions and rules. They don’t obey his laws and commands. The Lord had given all these laws to the family of Jacob. He gave the name Israel to Jacob. 35The Lord made a covenant with the Israelites. At that time he commanded them, “Do not worship any other gods. Do not bow down to them. Do not serve them or sacrifice to them. 36The Lord is the one you must worship. The Lord brought you up out of Egypt by his great power. He saved you by reaching out his mighty arm. You must bow down only to him. You must offer sacrifices only to him. 37You must always be careful to follow his directions and rules. You must obey the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. 38Do not forget the covenant I made with you. And remember, you must not worship other gods. 39Instead, worship the Lord your God. He will save you from the powerful hand of all your enemies.”
40But the people wouldn’t listen. Instead, they were stubborn. They continued in their old practices. 41They worshiped the Lord. But at the same time, they served the statues of their gods. And to this day their children and grandchildren continue to do what their people before them did.