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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 17

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 30-41

C. The Second Period of Antagonism 9:30-17:41

The kingdoms of Israel and Judah continued without an alliance between them for the rest of the time the Northern Kingdom existed. This period began with Jehu’s accession to the throne of Israel in 841 B.C. and continued until the Assyrian captivity of the Northern Kingdom in 722 B.C.

Verses 1-6

16. Hoshea’s evil reign in Israel 17:1-6

Hoshea was the Northern Kingdom’s last king. He reigned in Samaria for 9 years (732-722 B.C.). He was a bad king, but he was not as bad as his predecessors. A seal of Abdi, an official of Hoshea, has been discovered that bears the name of this Israelite king, who was heretofore unmentioned outside the Bible. [Note: See Andre Lemaire, "Name of Israel’s Last King Surfaces in a Private Collection," Biblical Archaeology Review 21:6 (November-December 1995):49-52.]

Shalmaneser V (727-722 B.C.) had succeeded his father Tiglath-Pileser III on Assyria’s throne. Hoshea became the servant of Assyria rather than of Yahweh (2 Kings 17:3). However, he was not a faithful servant even of Shalmaneser (2 Kings 17:4). This led to the end of his freedom and the siege of his capital (2 Kings 17:4-5). Samaria fell to Assyria in 722 B.C., and a second deportation of the population to various parts of the Assyrian empire followed in harmony with Assyria’s policy toward conquered peoples (cf. 2 Kings 15:29). [Note: See Luckenbill, 2:2, 26-27. See Rodger C. Young, "When Was Samaria Captured? The Need for Precision in Biblical Chronologies," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 47:4 (December 2004):577-95, for a reexamination of Thiele’s dates; and idem, "Tables of Reign Lengths from the Hebrew Court Recorders," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 48:2 (June 2005):225-48.]

"So" (2 Kings 17:4) may be the Hebrew pronunciation of the Egyptian capital, Sais, rather than the name of a pharaoh. [Note: H. Goedicke, "The End of So, King of Egypt," Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research 171 (1963):64-66.] The verse so translated would read ". . . who had sent messengers to So [to the] king of Egypt," as in the NIV margin. Alternatively "So" may have been Pharaoh Tefnakht [Note: John Day, "The Problem of ’So, King of Egypt’ in 2 Kings 17:4," Vetus Testamentum 42:3 (July 1992):289-301.] or Pharaoh Piankhy. [Note: Alberto R. W. Green, "The Identity of King So of Egypt-An Alternative Interpretation," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 52:2 (April 1993):99-108. On the subject of Egyptian history during this period, see Hallo and Simpson, pp. 287-92.]

As God had promised, the Israelites’ apostasy had resulted in their scattering among other peoples (Deuteronomy 28:64). According to 1 Chronicles 7, some members of the ten northern tribes returned to the Promised Land at the end of the 70-year Babylonian Captivity. Apparently most of the Northern Kingdom exiles intermarried and lost their identity among the other Semitic people among whom they went to live. There is no evidence that the "ten lost tribes" became the American Indians, the Afghans, the Armenians, the Nestorians, or the English, as various modern cults claim. [Note: See The New Scofield Reference Bible, p. 446.]

Israel had suffered for 209 years under 20 different kings from 9 different families, sometimes called dynasties. The heads of these ruling families were Jeroboam I (two kings), Baasha (two kings), Zimri (two kings), Omri (four kings), Jehu (five kings), Shallum (one king), Menahem (two kings), Pekah (one king), and Hoshea (one king). Seven of these kings died at the hands of assassins: Nadab, Elah, Jehoram, Zechariah, Shallum, Pekahiah, and Pekah. All of them were evil. They did not comply with the will of Yahweh as contained in the Mosaic Law and the revelations of His prophets.

Verses 7-23

The reasons for the captivity 17:7-23

In this section the writer catalogued Israel’s transgressions of God’s Word that resulted in her going into captivity. Ironically, Israel’s last king had sought help from Egypt, from which Israel had fled 724 years earlier.

They feared other gods (2 Kings 17:7; cf. Exodus 20:3; Judges 6:10).

They adopted Canaanite customs (2 Kings 17:8; cf. Leviticus 18:3; Deuteronomy 18:9).

They adopted customs condemned by the Mosaic Law (2 Kings 17:8; cf. 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 17:19).

They practiced secret sins (2 Kings 17:9).

They built pagan high places (2 Kings 17:9; cf. Deuteronomy 12:2-7; Deuteronomy 12:13-14).

They made many sacred pillars and Asherim (2 Kings 17:10; cf. Exodus 34:12-14).

They burned incense to other gods (2 Kings 17:11).

They did evil things that provoked Yahweh (2 Kings 17:11).

They served idols (2 Kings 17:12; cf. Exodus 20:4).

They refused to heed God’s warnings (2 Kings 17:13-14).

They became obstinate (2 Kings 17:14; cf. Exodus 32:9; Exodus 33:3).

They rejected God’s statutes (2 Kings 17:15).

They rejected God’s covenant (2 Kings 17:15; cf. Exodus 24:6-8; Deuteronomy 29:25).

They pursued vanity (2 Kings 17:15; cf. Deuteronomy 32:21).

They became vain (2 Kings 17:15).

They followed foreign nations (2 Kings 17:15; cf. Deuteronomy 12:30-31).

They forsook Yahweh’s commandments (2 Kings 17:16).

They made molten calves (2 Kings 17:16; cf. Exodus 20:4).

They made an Asherah (2 Kings 17:16; cf. Exodus 20:4).

They worshipped the stars (2 Kings 17:16; cf. Deuteronomy 4:15; Deuteronomy 4:19; Amos 5:26).

They served Baal (2 Kings 17:16).

They practiced child sacrifice (2 Kings 17:17; cf. Leviticus 18:21; Deuteronomy 12:31).

They practiced witchcraft (2 Kings 17:17; cf. Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10-12).

They sold themselves to do evil (2 Kings 17:17; cf. 2 Kings 21:20).

Though God allowed Judah to remain, she was not innocent (2 Kings 17:19).

The cult of Jeroboam was a major source of Israel’s apostasy (2 Kings 17:21-22).

Verses 7-41

17. The captivity of the Northern Kingdom 17:7-41

The writer of Kings took special pains to explain the reasons for and the results of Israel’s captivity.

Verses 24-41

The results of the captivity 17:24-41

The immediate result of the captivity (2 Kings 17:24-33) was twofold. The Assyrians deported many Israelites to other places in the Assyrian Empire, and they imported other people from the empire into the newly formed Assyrian province that they called Samaria (2 Kings 17:24). The king who did this was probably Sargon II (722-705 B.C.). Shalmaneser died either during or shortly after the siege of Samaria. These imported foreigners eventually intermarried with the Jews who remained in the land and probably were the ancestors of the Samaritans of Jesus’ day (cf. John 4:9). As polytheists the Assyrians did not hesitate to worship Yahweh as well as their other gods (cf. Exodus 20:3). They had no priestly caste but appointed anyone as a priest (2 Kings 17:32). The syncretistic worship of Yahweh and false gods prevailed (2 Kings 17:32-33). The writer again emphasized the judgment of God that came on the Israelites who remained in the land for their apostasy.

The continuing result of the captivity (2 Kings 17:34-41) was the same. In this section of verses the theme of Israel’s disobedience reaches a climax. In 2 Kings 17:35-39 there are several loose quotations of passages from the Mosaic Law: Exodus 6:6; Exodus 9:15; Exodus 14:15-30; Exodus 20:4-5; Exodus 20:23; Leviticus 19:32; Deuteronomy 4:23; Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:6; Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 5:32; Deuteronomy 6:12-13; and Deuteronomy 7:11; Deuteronomy 7:25.

This chapter concludes the second major section of Kings: the history of the Divided Kingdom (1 Kings 12 -2 Kings 17). The lessons of the history of this period that the writer emphasized could not be clearer.

"God’s people had become disloyal to their Suzerain who had brought them redemptively out of Egyptian servitude. They had expressed disloyalty by worshipping other gods (2 Kings 17:15-17). And they did all this despite his persistent reminders to them through his spokesmen, the prophets, that what they were doing constituted high treason. The inevitable result was the judgment of God, a judgment which took the form of exile from the land of promise." [Note: Merrill, Kingdom of . . ., p. 399. See also Pauline Viviano, "2 Kings 17 : A Rhetorical and Form Critical Analysis," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 49 (October 1987):548-49.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Kings 17". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/2-kings-17.html. 2012.
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