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2 Kings 17:6-41

Context
17:6 In the ninth year of Hoshea’s reign, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the people of Israel 1  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

17:7 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 2  Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped 3  other gods; 17:8 they observed the practices 4  of the nations whom the Lord had driven out from before Israel, and followed the example of the kings of Israel. 5  17:9 The Israelites said things about the Lord their God that were not right. 6  They built high places in all their cities, from the watchtower to the fortress. 7  17:10 They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. 17:11 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. 8  17:12 They worshiped 9  the disgusting idols 10  in blatant disregard of the Lord’s command. 11 

17:13 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.” 12  17:14 But they did not pay attention and were as stubborn as their ancestors, 13  who had not trusted the Lord their God. 17:15 They rejected his rules, the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and the laws he had commanded them to obey. 14  They paid allegiance to 15  worthless idols, and so became worthless to the Lord. 16  They copied the practices of the surrounding nations in blatant disregard of the Lord’s command. 17  17:16 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, 18  and worshiped 19  Baal. 17:17 They passed their sons and daughters through the fire, 20  and practiced divination and omen reading. They committed themselves to doing evil in the sight of the Lord and made him angry. 21 

17:18 So the Lord was furious 22  with Israel and rejected them; 23  only the tribe of Judah was left. 17:19 Judah also failed to keep the commandments of the Lord their God; they followed Israel’s example. 24  17:20 So the Lord rejected all of Israel’s descendants; he humiliated 25  them and handed them over to robbers, until he had thrown them from his presence. 17:21 He tore Israel away from David’s dynasty, and Jeroboam son of Nebat became their king. 26  Jeroboam drove Israel away 27  from the Lord and encouraged them to commit a serious sin. 28  17:22 The Israelites followed in the sinful ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat and did not repudiate 29  them. 17:23 Finally 30  the Lord rejected Israel 31  just as he had warned he would do 32  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

17:24 The king of Assyria brought foreigners 33  from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and settled them in the cities of Samaria 34  in place of the Israelites. They took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities. 17:25 When they first moved in, 35  they did not worship 36  the Lord. So the Lord sent lions among them and the lions were killing them. 17:26 The king of Assyria was told, 37  “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 38  because they do not know the requirements of the God of the land.” 17:27 So the king of Assyria ordered, “Take back one of the priests whom you 39  deported from there. He must settle there and teach them the requirements of the God of the land.” 40  17:28 So one of the priests whom they had deported from Samaria went back and settled in Bethel. 41  He taught them how to worship 42  the Lord.

17:29 But each of these nations made 43  its own gods and put them in the shrines on the high places that the people of Samaria 44  had made. Each nation did this in the cities where they lived. 17:30 The people from Babylon made Succoth Benoth, 45  the people from Cuth made Nergal, 46  the people from Hamath made Ashima, 47  17:31 the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, 48  and the Sepharvites burned their sons in the fire as an offering to Adrammelech and Anammelech, 49  the gods of Sepharvaim. 17:32 At the same time they worshiped 50  the Lord. They appointed some of their own people to serve as priests in the shrines on the high places. 51  17:33 They were worshiping 52  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.

17:34 To this very day they observe their earlier practices. They do not worship 53  the Lord; they do not obey the rules, regulations, law, and commandments that the Lord gave 54  the descendants of Jacob, whom he renamed Israel. 17:35 The Lord made an agreement 55  with them 56  and instructed them, “You must not worship other gods. Do not bow down to them, serve them, or offer sacrifices to them. 17:36 Instead you must worship the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt by his great power and military ability; 57  bow down to him and offer sacrifices to him. 17:37 You must carefully obey at all times the rules, regulations, law, and commandments he wrote down for you. You must not worship other gods. 17:38 You must never forget the agreement I made with you, and you must not worship other gods. 17:39 Instead you must worship the Lord your God; then he will rescue you from the power of all your enemies.” 17:40 But they 58  pay no attention; instead they observe their earlier practices. 17:41 These nations are worshiping 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.

1 tn The Hebrew text has simply “Israel” as the object of the verb.

2 tn Heb “and from under the hand of.” The words “freed them” are added in the translation for stylistic reasons.

3 tn Heb “feared.”

4 tn Heb “walked in the customs.”

5 tn Heb “and [the practices of] the kings of Israel which they did.”

6 tn The meaning of the verb וַיְחַפְּאוּ (vayÿkhappÿu), translated here “said,” is uncertain. Some relate it to the verbal root חָפַה (khafah), “to cover,” and translate “they did it in secret” (see BDB 341 s.v. חָפָא). However, the pagan practices specified in the following sentences were hardly done in secret. Others propose a meaning “ascribe, impute,” which makes good contextual sense but has little etymological support (see HALOT 339 s.v. חפא). In this case Israel claimed that the Lord authorized their pagan practices.

7 sn That is, from the city’s perimeter to the central citadel.

8 tn Heb “and they did evil things, angering the Lord.”

9 tn Or “served.”

10 sn See the note at 1 Kgs 15:12.

11 tn Heb “about which the Lord had said to them, ‘You must not do this thing.’”

12 tn Heb “obey my commandments and rules according to all the law which I commanded your fathers and which I sent to you by the hand of my servants the prophets.”

13 tn Heb and they stiffened their neck like the neck of their fathers.”

14 tn Or “and his warnings he had given them.”

15 tn Heb “They went [or, ‘followed’] after.” This idiom probably does not mean much if translated literally. It is found most often in Deuteronomy or in literature related to the covenant. It refers in the first instance to loyalty to God and to His covenant or His commandments (1 Kgs 14:8; 2 Chr 34:31) with the metaphor of a path or way underlying it (Deut 11:28; 28:14). To “follow other gods” was to abandon this way and this loyalty (to “abandon” or “forget” God, Judg 2:12; Hos 2:13) and to follow the customs or religious traditions of the pagan nations (2 Kgs 17:15). The classic text on “following” God or another god is 1 Kgs 18:18, 21 where Elijah taunts the people with “halting between two opinions” whether the Lord was the true God or Baal was. The idiom is often found followed by “to serve and to worship” or “they served and worshiped” such and such a god or entity (Jer 8:2; 11:10; 13:10; 16:11; 25:6; 35:15).

16 tn Heb “they followed after the worthless thing/things and became worthless.” The words “to the Lord” are not in the Hebrew text but are implicit from the context. There is an obvious wordplay on the verb “became worthless” and the noun “worthless thing”, which is probably to be understood collectively and to refer to idols as it does in Jer 8:19; 10:8; 14:22; Jonah 2:8.

17 tn Heb “and [they walked] after the nations which were around them, concerning which the Lord commanded them not to do like them.”

18 tn The phrase כָל צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם (khol tsÿvahashamayim), traditionally translated “all the host of heaven,” refers to the heavenly lights, including stars and planets. In 1 Kgs 22:19 these heavenly bodies are pictured as members of the Lord’s royal court or assembly, but many other texts view them as the illegitimate objects of pagan and Israelite worship.

19 tn Or “served.”

20 sn See the note at 2 Kgs 16:3.

21 tn Heb “they sold themselves to doing what was evil in the eyes of the Lord, angering him.”

22 tn Heb “very angry.”

23 tn Heb “turned them away from his face.”

24 tn Heb “they walked in the practices of Israel which they did.”

25 tn Or “afflicted.”

26 tn Heb “and they made Jeroboam son of Nebat king.”

27 tc The consonantal text (Kethib) assumes the verb is נָדָא (nada’), an alternate form of נָדָה (nadah), “push away.” The marginal reading (Qere) assumes the verb נָדָח (nadakh), “drive away.”

28 tn Heb “a great sin.”

29 tn Heb “turn away from.”

30 tn Heb “until.”

31 tn Heb “the Lord turned Israel away from his face.”

32 tn Heb “just as he said.”

33 tn The object is supplied in the translation.

34 sn In vv. 24-29 Samaria stands for the entire northern kingdom of Israel.

35 tn Heb “in the beginning of their living there.”

36 tn Heb “fear.”

37 tn Heb “and they said to the king of Assyria, saying.” The plural subject of the verb is indefinite.

38 tn Heb “Look they are killing them.”

39 tc The second plural subject may refer to the leaders of the Assyrian army. However, some prefer to read “whom I deported,” changing the verb to a first person singular form with a third masculine plural pronominal suffix. This reading has some support from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic witnesses.

40 tc Heb “and let them go and let them live there, and let him teach them the requirements of the God of the land.” The two plural verbs seem inconsistent with the preceding and following contexts, where only one priest is sent back to Samaria. The singular has the support of Greek, Syriac, and Latin witnesses.

41 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

42 tn Heb “fear.”

43 sn The verb “make” refers to the production of idols. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 210-11.

44 tn Heb “Samaritans.” This refers to the Israelites who had been deported from the land.

45 sn No deity is known by the name Succoth Benoth in extant Mesopotamian literature. For speculation as to the identity of this deity, see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 211.

46 sn Nergal was a Mesopotamian god of the underworld.

47 sn This deity is unknown in extra-biblical literature. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 211-12.

48 sn Nibhaz and Tartak were two Elamite deities. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 212.

49 sn Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of the Sepharvaim are unknown in extra-biblical literature. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 212.

50 tn Heb “feared.”

51 tn Heb “and they appointed for themselves from their whole people priests for the high places and they were serving for them in the house[s] of the high places.”

52 tn Heb “fearing.”

53 tn Heb “fear.”

54 tn Heb “commanded.”

55 tn Or “covenant.”

56 sn That is, the descendants of Jacob/Israel (see v. 35b).

57 tn Heb “and outstretched arm.”

58 sn This refers to the foreigners whom the king of Assyria settled in the land (see v. 35a).



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