Hoshea Reigns in Israel
17 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah began to reign in Samaria over Israel, and he reigned nine years. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, yet not as the kings of Israel who were before him. Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria. And Hoshea became his vassal and paid him tribute. But the king of Assyria found treachery in Hoshea, for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison. Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Samaria, and for three years he besieged it.
The Fall of Israel
In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
Exile Because of Idolatry
And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced. And the people of Israel did secretly against the LORD their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger, and they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this.” Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”
But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God. They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them that they should not do like them. And they abandoned all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.
Judah also did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had cast them out of his sight.
When he had torn Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. And Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD and made them commit great sin. The people of Israel walked in all the sins that Jeroboam did. They did not depart from them, until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had spoken by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day.
Assyria Resettles Samaria
And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the people of Israel. And they took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities. And at the beginning of their dwelling there, they did not fear the LORD. Therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of them. So the king of Assyria was told, “The nations that you have carried away and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the law of the god of the land. Therefore he has sent lions among them, and behold, they are killing them, because they do not know the law of the god of the land.” Then the king of Assyria commanded, “Send there one of the priests whom you carried away from there, and let him go and dwell there and teach them the law of the god of the land.” So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and lived in Bethel and taught them how they should fear the LORD.
But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the shrines of the high places that the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities in which they lived. The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. They also feared the LORD and appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. So they feared the LORD but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.
To this day they do according to the former manner. They do not fear the LORD, and they do not follow the statutes or the rules or the law or the commandment that the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel. The LORD made a covenant with them and commanded them, “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, but you shall fear the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice. And the statutes and the rules and the law and the commandment that he wrote for you, you shall always be careful to do. You shall not fear other gods, and you shall not forget the covenant that I have made with you. You shall not fear other gods, but you shall fear the LORD your God, and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.” However, they would not listen, but they did according to their former manner.
So these nations feared the LORD and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day.
2 Kings 17 Commentary
by Hank Workman
It is a salacious list. Entitled, “Why Israel Fell” it records all that Israel participated in and why God removed His presence. Smack in the middle of this litany of sins it states:
“They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.”2 Kings 17:15 NIV
The Israelites sunk so low.
God brought judgment because they gave of themselves completely to things not of Him. They copied the religious practices, often barbaric and murderous, of which the surrounding nations practiced. Their own desires are what ruled as they lived completely selfishly. Ruin would come for both their public sins and their secret ones. Not only did they condone wickedness in the public eye, but their private life was also far worse.
Strangely, they took on the characteristics of the surrounding pagan countries. Copying these worthless behaviors and actions made them worthless in the plans that God had intended.
This all would bring serious consequences as exile was fast approaching. God had given fair warning. Again and again He had sent prophets among calling them back to no avail. He still had been reaching out through all this up until the end, but they were so lost in their own waywardness, they failed to even hear or heed the conviction.
God does still reach the same toward us. When people are so lost in their ways, so determined to do things their way, He still pursues us relentlessly. If we have hardened our hearts, determined our own steps, we are the ones who make ourselves unreachable.
It’s quite a sad statement they became worthless. This description is something no one would want to ever hear. We can be as successful as we think we are in this world, but God’s point of view is what really matters in the end. Success in His eyes is that of obedience, following relentlessly His ways and pursuing things that matter spiritually.
2 Kings 17 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Hoshea was the last king of Israel before it was captured by the Assyrians. In this chapter, the writer goes back and highlights exactly why Israel was led off to captivity. It’s an exhaustive list of the horrific sins for the northern kingdom. The writer makes special note that while Judah would still exist, they were not innocent in the least and, in fact, copied many of the same sinful practices of their northern neighbors.
Overall, we can take some very convicting truths from this chapter that have some application today. The people of this time were taught how to worship and honor God. Their ancestors could tell story after story of God’s faithfulness. But there was a disconnect in living life the way that God wanted them to live. Why? Let’s look at a few reasons that are still applicable today…
We Make God In Our Own Image
Verse 7 and 8 of 2 Kings 17 inform us that the people “walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel.” In other words, God delivered them and set them up for a fruitful life, and they went back to bondage. Not only that, they made these false practices the most important thing in their life. Remember back when the Israelites were bickering at Moses in the wilderness? “We would be better off as slaves in Egypt!” This was the attitude of that generation, but it wasn’t just them. We see it all throughout Israel’s history and if we’re honest, we see it in our own history as well.
Though we have been delivered from our chains through Jesus Christ, we are often tempted to go back… and we do. Making God in your own image means that you know the truth but you refuse to see God for who He is. This often happens when we don’t want Him to change us or we want to be validated in our own pattern of thinking.
For example, you might not really believe that God loves ALL of you and died for ALL of your sins, so in your continual shame, you go back. Or, you might read about the grace of God and think He is a God who takes sin lightly, so in your justification, you go back. Or, you may not understand that as your Father, God wants you to come to Him with everything – even your deepest darkest thoughts – so you try and hold on to those things and control them yourself which causes you to… yes… go back.
God loves you with everything but He will not be defined any other way than how He has lived as Jesus Christ and how He has spoken through His Word.
We Keep Secrets Hidden
Verse 8 of 2 Kings 17 says that “the people of Israel did secretly against the LORD their God things that were not right.” Of course, the term “secret” is a mirage because God was watching the whole time. But again, by making God in our own image, we are prone to developing behaviors that are inconsistent with truth. Because they made idols, their minds became dark and they actually believed they could hide things from God.
How does this happen today?
We don’t air our deepest and darkest sins to others because we fear that people won’t like us anymore. Many of us would lose something. Relationships. Respect. Employment. Reputations.
So because we believe that, we often take that same attitude into our relationship with God as well as His church. The church was established for believers to gather together for encouragement, accountability, spiritual depth, and the spreading of the Gospel. As you read in 2 Kings 17, the corruption of secret sins began with leadership and trickled down. The church needs to be a place of accountability but it also needs to be a place that functions as the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus loved sinners unconditionally and welcomed them into His presence for true healing. Jesus also held a strict line for those who were placed in positions of leadership and knew the right way to live.
Christianity isn’t just an individual report, it’s also a group project.
2 Kings 17 shows us what happens when we intentionally hide from God and don’t involve Him in our daily decisions. Furthermore, it shows us how far off course we can become collectively when we are not operating in the grace and truth organism that Jesus so powerfully began.