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Second Kings - Chapter 17
Last Days of tweet - Verses 1-6
Hoshea was the last king of the northern kingdom. He was better than the kings of Israel who had preceded him, but was still characterized as "evil in the sight of the Lord." He was not bad enough to be likened to Jeroboam, which certainly is a slight recommendation of him. However Israel had passed the point of no return in their spiritual relationship. The long threatened judgment of the Lord for their sins was about to fall. Nationally they illustrate the proverb of Solomon, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
Hoshea’s reign lasted nine years. Like his immediate predecessors it appears that Hoshea was constrained to pay heavy tribute to the Assyrian king to maintain his reign over his kingdom. By this time Tiglath-pileser had passed on, and Shalmaneser was the new king of Assyria. When Hoshea had assassinated Pekah and made himself king Shalmaneser came to insure that the tribute was continued, and Hoshea paid him and became subservient to him.
But Hoshea tired of the tribute and sought a more lenient master by applying to So, the king of Egypt. The kings of Israel and Judah seem always to have favored Egypt over the conquerors from the north. But Egypt was actually threatened also by the mighty powers coming out of the Mesopotamian Valley, and might have helped the Israelite kingdoms out of self interest. But the hopes of Hoshea were frustrated when Shalmaneser learned what he was doing. He came back to Samaria, took Hoshea and shut him up, bound in prison.
The details of Hoshea’s imprisonment are somewhat vague. The Assyrian king besieged Samaria for a period of three years, and it fell to him in the ninth year of Hoshea’s reign. Does the statement concerning Hoshea’s imprisonment relate to the beginning of the siege or to the end? Contextually it seems that he was taken off to prison at the beginning. But since it is said that Hoshea reigned over Israel for nine years, and that the city was taken by Shalmaneser in the ninth year of Hoshea, it seems that he may not have been carted off to prison until the city fell. It makes little difference, of course, for the outcome was the ultimate end of the northern kingdom. Its inhabitants were resettled in far off countries in keeping with the policy of the Assyrian emperors. Some of the places are not clearly identified to which they were carried. Halah and Gozan are thought to have been an area in northeastern Mesopotamia on the Habor River, a tributary of the Euphrates. Media was far across the Tigris to the east. The prediction of Moses, hundreds of years before, as Israel stood poised to enter the promised land, was being fulfilled (De 28:63-68).
God’s Judgment of Israel - Verses 7-23
In this passage is found the Lord’s indictment, trial, and judgment against Israel for their apostasy from Him. He begins by stating the charge. They had sinned against Him though He had done so much for them, bringing them out of Egypt, out-of their bondage to Pharaoh, and they had turned to reverence other gods. Secondly, they had followed the statutes of the heathen whom the Lord had displaced in order to give them the land. Third, they had followed their kings in their evil leadership and had secretly tried to hide their idolatry from God. Fourth, their idol worship had spread to all the land, to every city and even to the remote outposts of their borders. In short they had come to indulge in everything the heathen had done before the Lord drove them out of Canaan and gave the land to Israel.
Israel was utterly without excuse, for the Lord had warned them before they came into the land that they would be cast out when they disobeyed and turned to other gods. Even then, however, He did not cast them out without sending them reminder in the many prophets and seers He had sent them. At least fifteen different prophets are named, besides several who were not named who were sent to preach to Israel and turn them back to the Lord during the years from the beginning of the kingship in Israel to the fall of Samaria. But the Lord says, "You would not hear, you hardened your necks just as your fathers hardened their necks." They rejected the law of the Lord and chose vanity and emptiness, and it had brought them to this place.
The Lord charged Israel with leaving His commandments and making for themselves two molten calves, prostitution groves, of worshipping the heavenly bodies, turning to Baal, sacrificing their children in the fire, practicing the vagaries of the occult, completely selling themselves out to do evil in His sight. They had thus provoked Him to anger, and He had determined for this to remove them out of His sight, to take from them His divine watchcare, so that only the tribe of Judah was left.
But Judah was also not guiltless. They too had rejected His commandments and patterned their walk like that of Israel. For that they would be cast out too. The Lord was rejecting them all, delivering them into the hand of spoilers. Already Judah had been chastised of Him in wresting the tribes of the north from the family of David and giving them to Jeroboam. From Jeroboam Israel had then run their wicked course to the finish, in spite of all the Lord did to bring them again to Him. So they went into their long dispersion"unto this day."
Land Resettlement - Verses 24-41
The other side of the Assyrian policy of resettlement of conquered lands brought strange people into the former ten tribes of the north. These were people from Babylon, in lower Mesopotamia; Cuthah, a short distance east of Babylon; Ava, on the Orontes River, inland from the northeast coast of the Mediterranean Sea; Hamath, same general area; and Sepharvaim, of indefinite location, probably also in the area of Ava and Hamath.
The statement that these people `feared not the Lord" means they were unacquainted with His worship and had no reverence for Him. With the depopulation of the land the lions had come into these newly desolate lands and posed a formidable danger to the new inhabitants. They perceived that their trouble arose from their ignorance of the God of the land, on which basis they appealed to the Assyrian king to send them someone who could teach them how to worship. the God of the land, so they could do things which would please Him and escape from the lions. The remedy prescribed was to send one of the priests of the calf worship, who had been brought out with the captives, back to the land to teach them what to do. This was of course a good example of what Jesus v ould later refer to as the blind leading the blind (Matthew 15:14).
The repatriated priest set up at the old calf-temple of Bethel and proceeded to teach the people the worship of "Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin." There was a major difference this time; the new people were not Israel and had not subjected themselves to the law, so that God’s chastisements did not fall on them for disobedience to the covenant. so the newcomers learned the religion of the calves, which purportedly was the worship of the Lord, but which was actually an abomination to Him.
The new people did not forsake their own gods, but merely added the calves to their idols. They came to be called the Samaritans, and would be a constant source of trouble to the Jews who returned from the captivity in the times of Jerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. They and their impure religion would persist to the time of Christ. Orthodox Jews would refer to them contemptuously as "lion proselytes" because they "converted" out of fear of the lions, and would have no dealings with them (John 4:9).
Many different gods found place among the Samaritans, as they utilized the old high places of Israel which had been longtime an object of divine wrath in Israel’s later history. They included the Babylonian diety, Succothbenoth, or "supreme-arbiter"; Nergal, god of pestilence and war, of the Cutha; Ashima, of the Hamathites; the Avite Nibhaz, borrowed from the Elamites, and Tartak; Adrammelech and Anammelech, deities of the Sepharvaim, to whom children were sacrificed. In this conglomerate mess the Samaritans "feared the Lord," meaning they gave Him reverence, and served their own gods as well, just as they had done before being brought to Palestine.
Because of this attempted mixture of paganism and true worship the Jews rejected them, and rightly so. Their attempt would fall under the condemnation of Jesus, when He said, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). They followed the former practice of the Israelitish kings in making men of the lowest sort priests of the system. Verse 34 characterizes their worship for what it really was, "they fear not the Lord," in that they did not follow His statutes and ordinances, nor keep His commandments and law as He gave them to the children of Israel.
So the Samaritans did not worship the Lord. His charge was that no other god was to be served or reverenced. The God who brought Israel out of Egypt by His great power should be the only One they worshipped and to whom sacrifice should have been. made. They should have kept their statutes, ordinances, law, and commandments perpetually, as He had Moses to record it and deliver it to their priests. Had they done this they would have been delivered from their enemies and would have remained in their land. Neither could these Samaritans expect the blessing of the Lord unless they were faithful to them. But their system of multiple worship of graven images continued through the succeeding generations. They were never His people.
Lessons for this section: 1) Judgment eventually comes to all who reject the Lord; 2) some people insist on their own way knowing that the Lord will bring them into judgment for it; 3) when His people leave His way God will no longer go with them; 4) the average person seeks to please the Lord, if he does so at all, out of fear rather than reverent love; 5) there is a vast difference between fear of God and worship of God, for "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18).
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Kings 17". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany