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2 Kings 17:15-17

Context
17:15 They rejected his rules, the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and the laws he had commanded them to obey. 1  They paid allegiance to 2  worthless idols, and so became worthless to the Lord. 3  They copied the practices of the surrounding nations in blatant disregard of the Lord’s command. 4  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, 5  and worshiped 6  Baal. 17:17 They passed their sons and daughters through the fire, 7  and practiced divination and omen reading. They committed themselves to doing evil in the sight of the Lord and made him angry. 8 

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

2 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).

3 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.

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

5 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.

6 tn Or “served.”

7 sn See the note at 2 Kgs 16:3.

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



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