Hoshea’s Reign over Israel

1 In the twelfth year of King Ahaz’s reign over Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king over Israel. He reigned in Samaria1 for nine years. 2 He did evil in the sight of2 the Lord, but not to the same degree as the Israelite kings who preceded him. 3 King Shalmaneser of Assyria threatened3 him; Hoshea became his subject and paid him tribute. 4 The king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was planning a revolt.4 Hoshea had sent messengers to King So5 of Egypt and had not sent his annual tribute to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria arrested him and imprisoned him.6 5 The king of Assyria marched through7 the whole land. He attacked Samaria and besieged it for three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea’s reign, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the people of Israel8 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

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 of9 Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped10 other gods; 8 they observed the practices11 of the nations whom the Lord had driven out from before Israel, and followed the example of the kings of Israel.12 9 The Israelites said things about the Lord their God that were not right.13 They built high places in all their cities, from the watchtower to the fortress.14 10 They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. 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.15 12 They worshiped16 the disgusting idols17 in blatant disregard of the Lord’s command.18

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.”19 14 But they did not pay attention and were as stubborn as their ancestors,20 who had not trusted the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his rules, the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and the laws he had commanded them to obey.21 They paid allegiance to22 worthless idols, and so became worthless to the Lord.23 They copied the practices of the surrounding nations in blatant disregard of the Lord’s command.24 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,25 and worshiped26 Baal. 17 They passed their sons and daughters through the fire,27 and practiced divination and omen reading. They committed themselves to doing evil in the sight of the Lord and made him angry.28

18 So the Lord was furious29 with Israel and rejected them;30 only the tribe of Judah was left. 19 Judah also failed to keep the commandments of the Lord their God; they followed Israel’s example.31 20 So the Lord rejected all of Israel’s descendants; he humiliated32 them and handed them over to robbers, until he had thrown them from his presence. 21 He tore Israel away from David’s dynasty, and Jeroboam son of Nebat became their king.33 Jeroboam drove Israel away34 from the Lord and encouraged them to commit a serious sin.35 22 The Israelites followed in the sinful ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat and did not repudiate36 them. 23 Finally37 the Lord rejected Israel38 just as he had warned he would do39 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

24 The king of Assyria brought foreigners40 from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and settled them in the cities of Samaria41 in place of the Israelites. They took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities. 25 When they first moved in,42 they did not worship43 the Lord. So the Lord sent lions among them and the lions were killing them. 26 The king of Assyria was told,44The 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 people45 because they do not know the requirements of the God of the land.” 27 So the king of Assyria ordered, “Take back one of the priests whom you46 deported from there. He must settle there and teach them the requirements of the God of the land.”47 28 So one of the priests whom they had deported from Samaria went back and settled in Bethel.48 He taught them how to worship49 the Lord.

29 But each of these nations made50 its own gods and put them in the shrines on the high places that the people of Samaria51 had made. Each nation did this in the cities where they lived. 30 The people from Babylon made Succoth Benoth,52 the people from Cuth made Nergal,53 the people from Hamath made Ashima,54 31 the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak,55 and the Sepharvites burned their sons in the fire as an offering to Adrammelech and Anammelech,56 the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 At the same time they worshiped57 the Lord. They appointed some of their own people to serve as priests in the shrines on the high places.58 33 They were worshiping59 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.

34 To this very day they observe their earlier practices. They do not worship60 the Lord; they do not obey the rules, regulations, law, and commandments that the Lord gave61 the descendants of Jacob, whom he renamed Israel. 35 The Lord made an agreement62 with them63 and instructed them, “You must not worship other gods. Do not bow down to them, serve them, or offer sacrifices to them. 36 Instead you must worship the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt by his great power and military ability;64 bow down to him and offer sacrifices to him. 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. 38 You must never forget the agreement I made with you, and you must not worship other gods. 39 Instead you must worship the Lord your God; then he will rescue you from the power of all your enemies.” 40 But they65 pay no attention; instead they observe their earlier practices. 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.

117:1map For location see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1. 217:2tn Heb “in the eyes of.” 317:3tn Heb “went up against.” 417:4tn Heb “and the king of Assyria found in Hoshea conspiracy.” 517:4sn For discussion of this name, see HALOT 744 s.v. סוֹא and M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 196. 617:4tn Heb “and bound him in the house of confinement.” 717:5tn Heb “went up against.” 817:6tn The Hebrew text has simply “Israel” as the object of the verb. 917:7tn Heb “and from under the hand of.” The words “freed them” are added in the translation for stylistic reasons. 1017:7tn Heb “feared.” 1117:8tn Heb “walked in the customs.” 1217:8tn Heb “and [the practices of] the kings of Israel which they did.” 1317:9tn 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. 1417:9sn That is, from the city’s perimeter to the central citadel. 1517:11tn Heb “and they did evil things, angering the Lord.” 1617:12tn Or “served.” 1717:12sn See the note at 1 Kgs 15:12. 1817:12tn Heb “about which the Lord had said to them, ‘You must not do this thing.’” 1917:13tn 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.” 2017:14tn Heb and they stiffened their neck like the neck of their fathers.” 2117:15tn Or “and his warnings he had given them.” 2217:15tn 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). 2317:15tn 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. 2417:15tn Heb “and [they walked] after the nations which were around them, concerning which the Lord commanded them not to do like them.” 2517:16tn 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. 2617:16tn Or “served.” 2717:17sn See the note at 2 Kgs 16:3. 2817:17tn Heb “they sold themselves to doing what was evil in the eyes of the Lord, angering him.” 2917:18tn Heb “very angry.” 3017:18tn Heb “turned them away from his face.” 3117:19tn Heb “they walked in the practices of Israel which they did.” 3217:20tn Or “afflicted.” 3317:21tn Heb “and they made Jeroboam son of Nebat king.” 3417:21tc 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.” 3517:21tn Heb “a great sin.” 3617:22tn Heb “turn away from.” 3717:23tn Heb “until.” 3817:23tn Heb “the Lord turned Israel away from his face.” 3917:23tn Heb “just as he said.” 4017:24tn The object is supplied in the translation. 4117:24sn In vv. 24-29 Samaria stands for the entire northern kingdom of Israel. 4217:25tn Heb “in the beginning of their living there.” 4317:25tn Heb “fear.” 4417:26tn Heb “and they said to the king of Assyria, saying.” The plural subject of the verb is indefinite. 4517:26tn Heb “Look they are killing them.” 4617:27tc 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. 4717:27tc 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. 4817:28map For location see Map4-G4; Map5-C1; Map6-E3; Map7-D1; Map8-G3. 4917:28tn Heb “fear.” 5017:29sn The verb “make” refers to the production of idols. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 210-11. 5117:29tn Heb “Samaritans.” This refers to the Israelites who had been deported from the land. 5217:30sn 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. 5317:30sn Nergal was a Mesopotamian god of the underworld. 5417:30sn This deity is unknown in extra-biblical literature. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 211-12. 5517:31sn Nibhaz and Tartak were two Elamite deities. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 212. 5617:31sn Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of the Sepharvaim are unknown in extra-biblical literature. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 212. 5717:32tn Heb “feared.” 5817:32tn 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.” 5917:33tn Heb “fearing.” 6017:34tn Heb “fear.” 6117:34tn Heb “commanded.” 6217:35tn Or “covenant.” 6317:35sn That is, the descendants of Jacob/Israel (see v. 35b). 6417:36tn Heb “and outstretched arm.” 6517:40sn This refers to the foreigners whom the king of Assyria settled in the land (see v. 35a).