Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!
C.—The Fall of the Kingdom of Israel, under Hoshea
2 Kings 17:1-41
1In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began [omit began] Hoshea the son of Elah [became king] to reign [omit to reign] in Samaria over Israel nine years. 2And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. 3Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents 4[tribute] And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present 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. 5Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. 6In the ninth year1 of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in [on the] Habor [,] by the river of [omit of] Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes [Media].
7For so it was, that [so it came to pass that when] the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, 8And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and [in those] of the kings of Israel, which [statutes] they [i.e., the kings] had made. [:—] 9And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city. 10And they set them up images and groves [statues] in [on] every high hill, and under every green tree: 11And there they burnt incense in [on] all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away [removed] before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger: 12For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing. 13Yet the Lord testified2 against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets,3 and by [and by] all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. 14Notwithstanding, they would not hear [And they heard not], but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God. 15And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them. 16And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove [an Astartestatue] and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divinations and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, 18to provoke him to anger. [:—] Therefore [It came to pass, I say (2 Kings 17:7), that then] the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. [(] 19Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel 20which they made. [)] And [then] the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. 21For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave [seduced]4 Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin. 22For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them:5 23Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.
24And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, 25and dwelt in the cities thereof. And so it was [it came to pass] at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of [slaughtered amongst] them. 26Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land. 27Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land. 28Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear6 the Lord. 29Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. 30And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them [from the common people] priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the 33houses of the high places. They [i.e., these immigrants] feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom [whence] they [were] carried away from thence [omit from thence].
34Unto this day they [i.e., the remnant of the Israelites] do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; 35With whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow 36yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them: But [only] the Lord, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice. 37And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods. 38And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not 39forget; neither shall ye fear other gods. [;] But [only] the Lord your God ye 40shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. Howbeit [and] they did not hearken, but they did after their former manners.
41So these nations [i.e., all the mixed inhabitants of the northern kingdom] feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.
The Chronology of the Period from the Reign of Jehu until the fall of the Kingdom of Israel
[Compare the Appendix on the Chronology]
This period, as well as that from Ahab to Jehu, presents chronological difficulties. Their solution can be successfully accomplished only by starting from the surest possible data, and bringing together and comparing all the separate chronological statements. For the starting-point we have the year 884 in which Jehu, in Israel, and Athaliah, in Judah, came to the throne; the date of the close of the period is also firmly established. The kingdom of Israel came to an end, according to the great majority of the chronologers, in the year 721 b.c. However much they may differ about the limits of the several reigns, they generally agree in this. So Petavius, Usher, Scaliger, Seyffarth, Winer, Tiele, Keil. See Herzog’s Encyc. XVIII. s. 459, where Rösch has collected into a table the results of the investigations of twelve chronologers. [Rawlinson may be added to the number of those who advocate the date 721. On the other hand are Des Vignoles, 718; Bengel, 722; Ewald, 719; Thenius, 722; Bunsen, 709; Niebuhr. 719; and Lepsius still later, 693. It cannot be regarded as a satisfactory scientific procedure to thus borrow the results of a certain number of scholars. There is no such consensus of opinion as would enable us to simply proceed from these dates as results of science which are no longer questioned. In the absence of such a consensus it is mere building upon the sand to make them the foundation of a calculation which makes claim to reliability. It is to gain the appearance of certainty where there is no certainty. In the Appendix on the Chronology will be found a brief criticism of these chronological data and an estimate of their value.—W. G. S.] Bengel and Thenius adopt the date 722, but the difference is not important. They agree with the others in placing Hezekiah’s accession in the year 727, and Samaria fell (2 Kings 18:10) during his sixth year, that is, in the year 721. Ewald adopts the year 719 instead of 721. The cause of this difference is that he reckons the years of some of the reigns as complete years, which, as we shall see, is inadmissible. Bunsen differs very widely from the rest. He fixes this date as 709, but his entire calculation is founded upon data of the Assyrian chronology which are, as yet, in the highest degree uncertain, and which have not been yet regarded by anybody as correct. [See the Appendix on the Chronology, §§ 3 and 6.] They cannot, therefore, avail to shake our confidence in the two dates 884 and 721. This period accordingly covers 163 years, and, as the numbers given for the various reigns do not always apply to complete years, but sometimes to fragments of years (see Pt. II., p. 86), inasmuch as the year in which one died and another succeeded may be counted twice over, these 163 years give us the only reliable basis for estimating the length of the separate reigns. If then we calculate, commencing from the year 884, we reach the following results:—
a) For the kings of Judah. Athaliah reigned from 884 on for six years. In the seventh, that is in 877, Joash became king (2 Kings 11:3; 2 Kings 12:2). Since, however, he became king in the seventh year of Jehu, the forty years of his reign were not complete years, so that the accession of his successor falls in 838.—Amaziah reigned 29 years (2 Kings 14:2), that is to 809, or, if the years were not all complete, until 810, or possibly 811.—Uzziah (Azariah) reigned 52 years (2 Kings 15:2), that is, until 759 or 758, for all the years of his reign can hardly have been complete twelve-months.—Jotham reigned 16 years (2 Kings 15:33), that is, until 743.—Ahaz reigned 16 years (2 Kings 16:2), that is, until 727, in which year Hezekiah came to the throne. In the latter’s sixth year (2 Kings 18:10) Samaria fell; that is, in 721. If we add together the numbers representing the durations of these reigns we get 165 years, whereas the time from 884 to 721 is only 163 years. This difference is only apparent. It proceeds from the fact that fragments of years at the beginning or end of reigns are counted as years.
b) For the kings of Israel. Jehu reigned from 884 on for 28 years (2 Kings 10:3; 2 Kings 10:6), that is, until 856.—Jehoahaz reigned 17 years (2 Kings 13:1), that is, till 840 or 839.—Jehoash ruled 16 years (2 Kings 13:10), that is, until 823.—Jeroboam II. reigned, according to 2 Kings 14:23 only 41 years. But, as he is said in the same verse to have become king in the fifteenth year of Amaziah of Judah, and as this statement is consistent with 2 Kings 14:1; 2 Kings 14:17, he must have been king, as is shown above (chap. 14, Exeg. on 2 Kings 17:23), for 51 or 52 years, unless we are willing to assume that there was an interval of anarchy for 10 or 11 years. At any rate, his son Zachariah did not come to the throne before the year 773. He only ruled six months and his successor Shallum, in the following year, 772, only one month (2 Kings 15:8; 2 Kings 15:13). Menahem reigned from 772 on for 10 years (2 Kings 15:17), that is until 762.—Pekahiah reigned two years (2 Kings 15:23), that is, until 760.—Pekah ruled only 20 years according to 2 Kings 15:27; but according to 2 Kings 17:32 he ascended the throne two years before Jotham of Judah, survived him (he lived 16 years, 2 Kings 17:33), and waged war with Ahaz, his successor. It was not until the twelfth year of the last-named king that Hoshea became king. Now 2+16+12=30; therefore, either Pekah reigned 30 years and not 20, or there was no king in Israel for a space of 10 years (see notes on 2 Kings 15:27). [See the Supp. Note after the Exeg. section on the fifteenth chapter.] This much is certain, that Hoshea became king 30 years after 760, when Pekah ascended the throne, that is, in 730. He reigned 9 years, that is, until 721.—The sum of all the reigns mentioned is 164 instead of 163 years, and this slight difference is accounted for as before in the case of the kings of Judah.
c) The synchronistic data between the reigns in the two kingdoms. Athaliah in Judah and Jehu in Israel began to reign in the same year 884. Joash, Athaliah’s successor, became king in the seventh year of Jehu (2 Kings 12:2), or, since the latter became king in 884, in 877.—Amaziah became king in the second year of Jehoash (2 Kings 14:1), or, since Jehoash ascended the throne in 840 or 839, in the year 838.—Uzziah became king, according to 2 Kings 15:1, in the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam II, but this statement rests, as was shown in the comment on that passage, and as is generally admitted, upon an error of the copyist. We must read, according to 2 Kings 14:17, in the fifteenth year, but this was not a full year, so that Josephus says: “In the fourteenth year of Jeroboam.” Since now the latter became king in 823, Uzziah ascended the throne in 809.—Jotham became king in the second year of Pekah, 2 Kings 15:32, or, as the latter became king in 760, in 759.—Ahaz became king in the seventeenth year of Pekah (2 Kings 16:1), or, as the latter began to reign in 760, in 743.—Hezekiah finally became king in the third year of Hoshea (2 Kings 18:1), or, as he ascended the throne in 730, in 727.—In Israel, the successor of Jehu, Jehoahaz, began to reign, according to the correct reading in 2 Kings 13:1 (see Exeg. note thereon), in the twenty-first year of Joash, king of Judah, or, as he became king in 877, in 856.—Joash became king in the thirty-seventh year of Jehoash of Judah (2 Kings 13:10), or, as the latter ruled from 877, in 840 or 839.—Jeroboam II. became king in the fifteenth year of Amaziah (2 Kings 14:23), or, as the latter began to reign in 838, in 823.—The accession of the five following kings: Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah is defined (2 Kings 15:8; 2 Kings 15:13; 2Ki 15:17; 2 Kings 15:23; 2 Kings 15:27) in terms of the years of Uzziah’s reign. Since, however, the year of the accession of this king is less certain than that of almost any other (Bengel and Thenius put it in 811, Usher and Keil in 810, Petavius and Winer in 809, Ewald and Niebuhr in 808), it is uncertain what year was his thirty-eighth, thirty-ninth, fiftieth and fifty-second. But this does not render the chronology radically uncertain. The year of accession of these kings can be very satisfactorily ascertained from other data (see above, under b). Moreover, the statements in terms of the years of Uzziah’s reign are not perfectly accurate, as we see from 2 Kings 15:13; 2 Kings 15:23. For, if Menahem became king in the thirty-ninth of Uzziah and reigned 10 years, Pekahiah must have followed in the forty-ninth, and not, as 2 Kings 17:23 states, in the fiftieth of Uzziah. On the other hand, it is certain that Menahem and Pekahiah together reigned for 12 years, viz., from 722 to 760. The year in which Zachariah began to reign (according to 2 Kings 17:8 the thirty-eighth of Uzziah) may, therefore, have been the year 773; but it is also possible, inasmuch as he and Shallum did not both together reign for a year, that all these kings, Zachariah, Shallum, and Menahem, came to the throne in the same year, 772, and therefore, since the synchronistic data and the chronological data do not coincide, that the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth of Uzziah both fell in the year 772.—Hoshea, finally, became king in the twelfth year of Ahaz (2 Kings 17:1), or, since he became king in 743, and this was the very beginning of his twelfth year, in 730.
d) From this review it follows that the chronological data in no less than fifteen places, however much they may traverse and interlace one another, nevertheless agree, for the difference of a single year which appears here and there is fully accounted for by the peculiarity of the Jewish mode of reckoning, and it cannot be regarded here, any more than in the former period, as a contradiction. [In making this comment on the chronology, Bähr must take it for granted that the reader has fresh in his mind those changes in the text which have been found necessary, and those assumptions which have been made in order to complete the construction of the chronology. With this modification the above may be allowed to pass as a just comment on what has gone before. Otherwise it would convey a very incorrect impression of the reliability of this chronology.—W. G. S.]
Now, on the other hand, there remains one datum which is utterly irreconcilable with these which have been considered. According to 2 Kings 15:30 Hoshea became king in the twentieth year of Jotham, son of Uzziah. This stands in contradiction to three other statements which are consistent with each other. According to 2 Kings 15:33 Jotham did not reign for 20 but only for 16 years, as is also stated in 2 Chronicles 27:1. According to 2 Kings 17:1, Hoshea did not become king until the twelfth year of Ahaz the successor of Jotham. According to 2 Kings 16:1, Ahaz commenced to reign in the seventeenth year of Pekah, and as Ahaz waged war with Pekah (2 Kings 16:5), it is impossible that Pekah’s successor, Hoshea, should have begun to reign during the reign of the predecessor of Ahaz, Jotham. All sorts of attempts have been made to solve this flat contradiction (see Winer, R.-W.-B. 1, s. 614). We take notice here only of the two most common ones. The first is to this effect: Jotham was coregent with his father Uzziah for four years, during his sickness (2 Kings 15:5). If these four years are added to the sixteen of his reign, he was king for 20 years, and Hoshea became king in his twentieth. This attempt at a solution is disposed of, not to speak of other objections, by the statement in 2 Kings 17:1, that Hoshea did not become king until the twelfth year of Jotham’s successor, Ahaz. The second attempt at a solution, the one which was adopted by Usher, and which has been lately designated by Keil as the only successful one, assumes that, in 2 Kings 15:30; 2 Kings 15:4 years of the reign of Ahaz are reckoned in the reign of Jotham, “because the history of Jotham’s reign is not narrated until we come to 2 Kings 17:32 sq.” But the years of the reign of a king cannot possibly be reckoned on after his death, least of all when, as here, his successor followed immediately; moreover, as above stated, Hoshea did not become king in the fourth of Ahaz (or, if so reckoned, the twentieth of Jotham) but in the twelfth of Ahaz. All attempts at a reconciliation are here vain. Hitzig and Thenius have attempted to escape the difficulty by text-conjectures, but these are so complicated that they do not fall, in point of improbability, at all behind the artificial attempts at reconciliation. When we examine the final words of 2 Kings 15:30 : “In the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah,” they strike us as strange and unusual. In other cases we do not find the date of a king’s accession given in terms of the corresponding reign in the sister-kingdom until we come to the place where the history of the new reign begins (see the proof-passages quoted above, Pt. II., p. 89). Such is the case here also with reference to Hoshea, 2 Kings 17:1. The author, who, in the usual place, viz., where the history of Jotham’s reign begins, 2 Kings 15:33, states the duration of that reign at 16 years, in agreement with 2 Chronicles 27:1, cannot possibly have spoken, a few lines before, in 2 Kings 17:30, of the twentieth year of Jotham. If he had, he must have been more forgetful than the most thoughtless copyist. In fact these words are, in this place, not only superfluous, because the statement of the year in which Hoshea became king is given farther on in its proper place (2 Kings 17:1), but they are even a cause of confusion. If they should be adopted as correct, it would be necessary to change a whole series of data to correspond with them. All this renders it very probable that the words are a false and late addition, in regard to which the case stands as it does with 2 Kings 1:17 (see Pt. II., pp. 87–8). Another circumstance which goes to prove this is that Jotham’s father is called, in 2Ki 17:1; 2 Kings 17:6-8; 2 Kings 17:13; 2Ki 17:17; 2 Kings 17:23; 2 Kings 17:27, Azariah; here all at once he is called Uzziah. Keil unjustly characterizes the erasure of this clause as “violent,” for we are compelled to it, since fifteen other passages, all of which are consistent with one another, are in irreconcilable conflict with this one, so that it introduces contradiction and confusion into the entire chronology of the period. The question is simply whether we will correct all the other data to bring them into consistency with this one, or whether we will sacrifice it. If it is not “violent” to change the number “27,” in 2 Kings 15:1, into 15, as Keil does, then it is not violent to regard the number 20, in 2 Kings 15:30, as incorrect.
e) In this period, as well as in the former one, some have thought it necessary to assume joint-reigns and interregna, that is, times of anarchy in which there was no king. So it is supposed that the two Israelitish kings Jehoahaz and Jehoash reigned together for 2 or 3 years, and the Jewish kings Jotham and Ahaz for 4 years. We have spoken above (Pt. II, p. 88) about the theory of joint-reigns in general, but besides this, the first of these cases is disposed of when we have discovered the correct reading in 2 Kings 13:1; 2 Kings 13:10 (see Exeg. notes thereon); and the second, when we have removed the false addition 2 Kings 15:30, upon which alone it rests. The assumed interregna have much more probability in their favor. Formerly it was often assumed that there was an interregnum of 11 years between Amaziah and Uzziah in Judah, but this is now almost entirely abandoned, and rightly. On the other hand, two others are still assumed in the history of Israel by almost all scholars, the first of 11 years, between Jeroboam 2. and Zachariah; the second of 9 or 10 years, between Pekah and Hoshea, to which reference was made above under b). But the biblical text does not hint at any such interregna, though they must have been of great importance for the history of the kingdom. On the contrary, it always assumes that each king was followed immediately upon his death by his successor. The author makes especial mention of the fact about Edom that “there was no king in Edom” (1 Kings 22:48), and he mentions a king who reigned but 7 days (1 Kings 16:15), and another who reigned but a month (2 Kings 15:13). Certainly he would not have passed in silence over the fact that Israel, at two different times, for periods of 9 or 11 years, was without a king. It is true, as Keil says, that “A period of anarchy in a time of the utmost confusion and distraction would not be anything astonishing,” but it certainly would be astonishing that the text should be silent about such an important historical event. There are no historical statements whatsoever in the text which have led to the hypothesis of interregna. This hypothesis is the result solely of the desire to reconcile certain chronological data. We cannot, however, be induced to manufacture history to account for certain discrepancies in figures, discrepancies which can arise so easily from simple errors either of a copyist or of others. Josephus is as silent about any periods in which there were no kings as the Bible is. Ewald calls the hypothesis that there were such periods “erroneous in every respect. It contradicts the tenor of the text directly, and produces an utterly incorrect conception of the history.” Bunsen also rejects the hypothesis decidedly. Wolff, in the work quoted above (Pt. II., p. 89) says: “We must, therefore, have done entirely with this notion of interregna as an escape from difficulties. It invents arbitrarily blank and empty periods and inserts them in the history.” When, however, Wolff changes most of the chronological data of the text,—when he gives Jehoahaz 14 instead of 17 years, and Jehoash 19 instead of 16, when he makes Amaziah succeed in the fourth instead of the second year of Jehoash, Zachariah in the twenty-sixth instead of in the thirty-eighth year of Uzziah, Pekahiah in the thirty-eighth instead of in the fiftieth year of Uzziah, Pekah in the forty-first instead of in the fifty-second of Uzziah, and asserts that the two Israelitish kings Jehoash and Jeroboam II. ruled over Judah, the former for 4 years and the latter for 27 years, that is all as void of foundation and as arbitrary as is the “interregnum-hypothesis” which he rejects.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
2 Kings 17:2. And he did that which was evil * * * but not as the kings of Israel, i.e., not to the same degree as his predecessors. As the formula: “He did that which was evil, &c.,” always refers to the attitude towards Jehovah and the Jehovah-cultus, so the restriction: “But not,” &c., must be understood as applying to the same, just as in 2 Kings 3:2. We are not told wherein Hoshea differed from his predecessors in this respect. It is not at all probable that he desisted from the calf-worship (Thenius). If he had done so he would have broken down the wall of separation between the two kingdoms, and the text would certainly have contained some mention of it. The old commentators for the most part follow the statement of the rabbis in the book, Seder Olam, chap. 22, according to which Hoshea did not replace the golden calf-image at Bethel (Hosea 10:6), which had been carried away by the Assyrians, and made no opposition to his subjects’ accepting Hezekiah’s invitation to the passover-festival at Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 30:6-11). But, according to the account in Chronicles, this invitation was laughed at and scorned; only “a few” accepted it, which shows that Jeroboam’s cultus was still maintained under Hoshea. Moreover, Hezekiah’s passover certainly did not take place before the three-year siege of Samaria, but rather after it. Perhaps Hoshea’s better behavior was limited to this, that he was an opponent of the idolatry which had found entrance under his immediate predecessors.
2 Kings 17:3. Against him came up Shalmaneser, king of Assyria. This king must have ruled between Tiglath Pileser (2 Kings 25:29) and Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:13) in Assyria. It has hitherto been believed that Sargon, who is mentioned in Isaiah 20:1, ruled for a short time between these two, but, “through the deciphering of the cuneiform inscriptions it is placed beyond a doubt that the king of Assyria who is called in the biblical annals Shalmaneser or Shalman [Hosea 10:14], really bore the name of Sargana, so that he is identical with Sargon, who was the father and immediate predecessor of Sennacherib” (Wolff, in the above quoted work, s. 672. cf. Brandis, Ueber den historischen Gewinn aus der Entzifferung der assyrischen Inschriften, ss. 48 and 53). [Later discoveries show that this statement is incorrect. Sargon and Shalmaneser are different persons, and not even of the same dynasty. See the Supp. Note at the end of this section, in which this whole subject is treated.] Among the countries mentioned in the inscriptions as having been conquered by Sargana is “Samirina” (Samaria). (See notes on 2 Kings 18:13 below.) Hoshea does not seem to have provoked Shalmaneser’s first expedition against him (2 Kings 17:3). It appears to have been an expedition of conquest on the part of the growing and spreading Assyrian power, yet it is also possible that Tiglath Pileser had imposed a tribute upon Pekah which Hoshea refused to continue to pay, and that the expedition was intended to compel him to do so. When he, however, at a later time, again refused the tribute (2 Kings 17:4), and had recourse to Egypt for help to resist, the king of Assyria came a second time and took away from him his country and his people. As Shalmaneser waged war with Tyre, but island Tyre resisted him for five years (Josephus; Antiq. 9, 14, 2), Ewald supposes, and very many of the latest authorities follow him, that the people of Samaria joyfully recognized in this a proof that the Assyrians were not invincible, and considered this a favorable opportunity to make an offensive and defensive alliance with Egypt; furthermore, that when Shalmaneser heard of this, he suddenly marched against Hoshea. It is impossible, however, to determine certainly whether the war against Island-Tyre took place before or after the fall of Samaria. Knobel in fact, in his comment on Isaiah 20:1, assumes that it took place after that event. Thenius unnecessarily desires to change קֶשֶׁר, conspiracy, to שֶׁקֶר, falsehood, deceit. We have to understand by “conspiracy” nothing more than a secret agreement. The name of the Egyptian king סוא is to be punctuated סֵוֶא, Seveh. In Manetho he is called Ζευεχὸς. He is doubtless “one of the two kings named Shebek of the twenty-fifth dynasty, belonging to the Ethiopic race” (Keil). Hoshea turned to him because Egypt was at that time the only great power which seemed at all able to cope with Assyria. It seems, however, that Seveh did not enter into the alliance, or, if he did, that he did not carry it out when the Assyrian attack was made. On the words: The king of Assyria shut him up, &c., Vatablus remarks: Hoc dicitur per anticipationem; postea narratur, quomodo factum. The final consequences which Hoshea’s attempted revolt had for his own person are stated forthwith, and then in 2 Kings 17:5-6 the particular description of the course of events in regard to the country and the people is given (Thenius). It is not, therefore, correct that “Shalmaneser ordered him to appear and give an account of his conduct” before the siege of Samaria, “and then, when he came in obedience to this command, made him prisoner” (Ewald, Schlier). The text does not say this; on the contrary, the words in 2 Kings 17:6 and in 2 Kings 18:10 : “In the ninth year of Hoshea,” assume that Hoshea was king when the city was taken. Moreover, it is very improbable that Hoshea, who had sought for, and was expecting, aid from Egypt, would have forthwith obeyed the summons of the king of Assyria, from which he could not anticipate any pleasant consequences, and that, after the king of Samaria had been made captive, that city should have resisted for three years. On the contrary, the captive king was taken in chains to Assyria after the city had been taken, and there he was put in prison, while his people were led into exile in distant regions. “Plate 100 in Botta’s Monum. de Ninev. represents a king standing upon a war chariot, before whom a chained captive with apparently. Hebrew features is being led. Plate 106 represents two figures with the same cast of countenance and appropriate costume, one of whom is presenting the model of a fortified city” (Thenius). עצר is used here as in Jeremiah 33:1; Jeremiah 36:5—The three years of the siege were not thirty-six months, for, according to 2 Kings 18:9 sq. it began in the seventh of Hoshea, and the city was taken in his ninth. Accordingly it can hardly have lasted for two years and a half. [The later discoveries have so changed the face of our knowledge of all this contemporaneous history that the above must all be modified by what is stated in the Supp. Note below.]
2 Kings 17:6. And carried Israel away into Assyria, i.e., into the kingdom of Assyria, which then included Mesopotamia, Media, Elam, and Babylon (Winer, R.-W.-B. I. s. 102). It is, therefore, a general designation of place which is followed by the names of the particular localities in this kingdom. The two first names, in Halah and on the Habor, belong together, as well as the two latter, On the river Gozan and in the cities of Media, as is evident from 1 Chronicles 5:26 : “And brought them unto Halah, and [to the] Habor, and [to] Hara [i.e., Media] and to the river Gozan.” This verse also shows that נְהַר גּוֹזָן is not, as has often been supposed, in apposition to בְּחַבוֹר: “To the Habor, the river of Gozan,” so that Habor would be the name of this river. There is nothing else with which the name Halah can be identified but the district in the north of Assyria bordering upon Armenia, which Strabo (2 Kings 11:8; 2 Kings 11:4 and 2 Kings 16:1; 2 Kings 16:1) calls Καλαχανή, and Ptolemy (2 Kings 6:1) Καλακινή. [Lenormant takes it to mean Calah, the capital of Assyria at this time.] Habor is not כְּבָר (Ezekiel 1:1; Ezekiel 1:3) in upper Mesopotamia, the large river which flows into the Euphrates, but, because the name Halah precedes, it must be “the smaller river of this name which flows westward and empties into the Tigris to the north of Nineveh” (Ewald). Here, in northern Assyria, there is a river, “which is called Khabur Chasaniœ to distinguish it from the river Chaboras or Chebar in Mesopotamia. It still bears its ancient name” (Keil). The Jewish tradition also favors this. This designates northern Assyria, and, in fact, the mountainous region, the district on the border between Assyria and Media, on the side towards Armenia, as the place of exile of the ten tribes (cf. Wickelhaus; Das Exil der zehn Stämme Israels, in the Deutsch-morgenländ. Zeitschrift; V. s. 474). The river Gozan is “the Kisel-osen, which rises in the northern part of the Zagros range and flows into the Caspian Sea” (Fürst, Dictionary s. v.). It refers, therefore, not to the district of Mesopotamia which Ptolemy calls (2 Kings 5:18) Γαυζανῖτις, but to the city of Media which he mentions (2 Kings 6:2) as Γαυζανία. This we see also from the passage in Chronicles quoted above, where “the river Gozan” is mentioned after Harah, Media. “If this river, which bounds Media, is the one meant, we can understand why the ‘and’ is, in this connection, omitted before it. The two first names and the two latter names then belong more closely in pairs” (Ewald). Thenius desires to change נְהַר into נַהֲרֵי, and עָרֵי into הָרֵי, because the Sept. here read: ἐν ’Eλαὲ καὶ ἑν ’Αβὼρ ποταμοῖς Γωζὰν καὶ ἐν ὁρίοις Μήδων, so that Halah also would have to be taken as the name of a river, that is, of the one anciently called Mygdonius and afterwards Saokaras. But the Sept. have, in the similar verse, 2 Kings 18:11, the singular ποταμῷ. The plural ποταμοῖς is, therefore, evidently a mistake. This disposes of the rash supposition that Halah is the Saokaras. The proposed reading הָרֵי is, to say the least, unnecessary.
2 Kings 17:7. And it came to pass when the children of Israel, &c. The frequently recurring ויהי יכ means always: “And it came to pass when (Genesis 6:1; Genesis 26:8; Genesis 27:1; Exodus 1:21; Judges 6:7, &c.). It is not correct, therefore, to translate as Bunsen, De Wette, and others do: “And it came to pass, because.” 2 Kings 17:7 does not carry on the narrative as it is taken from the original authorities, but the writer himself here begins a review of the history and fate of Israel, which ends with 2 Kings 17:23 and forms an independent section by itself. The conclusion to the opening sentence: “And it came to pass, when,” &c. follows in 2 Kings 17:18 : “That then the Lord was very angry.” 2 Kings 17:8-15 contain merely a development of what is said in 2 Kings 17:7, inasmuch as they go on to specify how, and by what means, the children of Israel “sinned,” viz., partly by apostatizing from Jehovah and falling into idolatry (Exodus 20:2-3), and partly by making for themselves molten calf-images to represent Jehovah (Exodus 20:4). It is shown in the verses from 18 to 23 that these transgressions brought down judgments upon them, and what was the character of these judgments—The words in 2 Kings 17:7 : Which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt * * * king of Egypt must not be taken as a parenthesis, as Luther takes them. They do not contain a mere incidental remark; rather the entire emphasis rests upon them, as is evident from Hosea 12:10; Hosea 13:4-6. The deliverance from Egypt was really the selection of Israel to be God’s peculiar and covenant people (Exodus 19:4-6). It was not only the beginning, but also the symbol, of all divine grace towards Israel, the pledge of its divine guidance. It therefore stands at the head of the covenant, or organic law (Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6), and it is always cited as the chief and fundamental act of the divine favor (Leviticus 11:45; Joshua 24:17; 1 Kings 8:51; Psalms 81:10; Jeremiah 2:6, &c.). Therefore this author also makes that the standpoint for his review and criticism of the history. He means to say, thereby: although no people on earth had experienced such favor from Almighty God as Israel had, nevertheless it abandoned this God and adored other gods. 2 Kings 17:8-12 state the manner in which this latter fault was committed. The worship of idols was the worship practised by the very people whom God expelled before the Israelites, and whose utter destruction he commanded, that is to say, of the nations of Western Asia (2 Kings 17:8, cf. Deuteronomy 11:23; 1Ki 14:24; 1 Kings 21:26; 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 21:2). But the Israelites erected places of worship all over the country, after the fashion of the heathen, instead of worshipping the one true God in the one central sanctuary (2 Kings 17:9-11). They also followed the example of the heathen in setting up idol images which they worshipped (2 Kings 17:12)—חֻקּוֹת, 2 Kings 17:8, means religious ordinances (see notes on 1 Kings 2:3; 1 Kings 3:3). Instead of holding faithfully to the ordinances which Jehovah had given, the kings of Israel gave to the people ordinances made by themselves, which were obeyed and observed by them. The result is given in 2 Kings 17:9. The words וַיְחַפְּאוּ דְּבָרִים are translated by Keil, who follows Hengstenberg: “They covered Jehovah, their God, over with words which were not right, i.e., they sought, by arbitrary distortions of God’s word, to conceal the true character of Jehovah.” It is clear however, from דְּבָרִים in 2 Kings 17:11, and, still more certainly, from הָדָּבָר, 2 Kings 17:12, where it cannot possibly be understood otherwise than as thing; that that is its sense here, and not word. The fundamental Signification of הפא or חפה is to cover, cloak over, envelop (2 Samuel 15:30; Est 6:12; 2 Chronicles 3:5; 2 Chronicles 3:7; 2 Chronicles 3:9). The literal rendering of these words would therefore be: “They covered Jehovah with things which were not right” (2 Kings 7:9), i.e., They concealed him by them, so that he could no longer be seen and recognized, which is as much as to say that they practically denied and ignored him. Compare the formula כפר עליו to reconcile any one with Jehovah; primarily, to cover up his sins before Jehovah. The things by means of which, or with which, they denied Jehovah are mentioned forthwith, so that Luther correctly represents the sense when he puts nämlich before the following words. The translation of the Sept. is entirely incorrect: καὶ ἠμφιέσαντο λόγους . Thenius follows this, and explains thus: “They dressed up, decorated, and adorned things which were not right, against Jehovah; i.e., they made a parade of things which were not right against Him,” and he calls attention, in this connection, to “the parade and pomp of the external forms of idolatry.” It is equally incorrect to render the words as the Vulg. does: et offenderunt verbis non rectis dominum suum; or, as Gesenius does: perfide egerunt res in Jehovam; or, as De Wette does: “They wrought secretly things which were not right, against Jehovah.” “With words of covering עַל is never against, but always over, or upon (Exodus 37:9; Exodus 40:3; Ezekiel 24:7)—[ The uncertainty attaching to the interpretation of these words is apparent from these diverse renderings of the various expositors. Bähr’s interpretation, which is closely akin to that of Keil and Hengstenberg, is fanciful and far-fetched. The idea of men covering God, that is, obscuring the sense of His presence, and of their responsibility to Him, by their sins, and thus practically denying Him, is, in a religious sense, most true and just; but it is very foreign to the simplicity of the conceptions which we find in the Old Testament, especially in the historical books. The meaning of חפא על is, to cover a material over an object, or, in the English idiom, to cover an object with a material. If the notion be not pushed farther than this, that they had put their evil lusts and deeds between themselves and God, and preferred these to Him, it offers a meaning which is satisfactory, and which agrees well with the latter half of the verse. I have, however, allowed the E. V., which agrees substantially with the rendering of Gesenius and De Wette, to remain unaltered—W. G. S.]
2 Kings 17:9. From the tower of the watchmen, &c, i, e., from the lonely buildings erected as a protection for the flocks (2 Chronicles 26:10) to the largest and most strongly fortified cities—On 2 Kings 17:10 see 2 Kings 16:4. On מַצֵּבוֹת see notes on 2 Kings 3:2. On אֲשֵׁרִים see note on 1 Kings 14:15. On the meaning of כעם see 1 Kings 14:1-20; Hist. § 3.—In ver 12, the emphasis is on הַגִּלֻּלִים, which contains a subordinate contemptuous and abusive signification (see note on 1 Kings 15:12). Israel sank so low that it worshipped lifeless idols, which it ought to have treated with contempt, and whose worship it ought to have disdained.
2 Kings 17:13. The author now goes on in his review to the consideration of that which Jehovah had done in his faithfulness and truth, in contrast to the apostasy of the people, which has just been described. These dealings of God with His people had remained fruitless, or had produced exactly contrary results from those which were desired (2 Kings 17:13-17). Not only in Israel, of which kingdom he has hitherto been speaking especially, but also in Judah, which, according to 2 Kings 17:19, had behaved in a similar manner, had Jehovah borne witness to himself, not only by the law and testimony which had been given, but also by his prophets and seers. Quacunque ratione vel forma illis cernendam proponebat voluntatem suam (Piscator). The form of speech in 2 Kings 17:14, to harden one’s neck, i.e., to be stiff-necked or obstinate, is borrowed from Deuteronomy 10:16. Cf. Exodus 32:9. To disobedience and obstinacy (2 Kings 17:14) they added formal rejection and contempt of the commands and of the testimonies of Jehovah (2 Kings 17:15), and then followed complete decline into heathenism. This last is described by the words: They followed vanity and became vain. The same form of speech is used in Jeremiah 2:5, and St. Paul makes use, in reference to the heathen, in Romans 1:21, of the same expression which the Sept. here use to render this: ἐματαιώθησαν. Heathenism deals with nothingness, vanity, that is, with what has no existence, so that it is folly and falsehood (Deuteronomy 32:21). As a proof that they have fallen into heathenism, that is, have become vain, a series of facts is detailed in 2 Kings 17:16-17, from which this appears clearly. In the first place they made calf-images, then Ascheræ, then they adored the host of heaven (the stars or constellations), and finally they caused their children even to go through the fire (see note on 2 Kings 16:3), and devoted themselves to soothsaying and augury. Besides all this, they sold themselves, that is, “they surrendered themselves into complete slavery to idolatrous practices” (Thenius). All the host of heaven is here mentioned between the worship of the Ascheræ and that of Moloch; that is, by the side of the Moon-goddess and the Sun-god, cf. Deuteronomy 17:3; Deuteronomy 4:19. Perhaps the planets are to be especially understood by it. As the author has here only that period in view which fell before the Assyrian influence commenced, we cannot understand him to refer to the Assyrio-Chaldean worship of the constellations, which is not met with among the Hebrews before the time of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:3; 2 Kings 23:5; 2 Kings 23:11), but only to that which was common in Western Asia, such as we find especially among the Arabs (Winer, R.-W.-B., II. s. 528). Soothsaying and augury are mentioned with the same expressions in Numbers 23:23 and in Deuteronomy 18:10, by the side of the worship of Moloch. They seem to have been especially connected with this worship (Winer, l. c., s. 672).
[As has been abundantly shown in the translator’s notes on the two last chapters (see especially note on 2 Kings 16:3), the Assyrian religion became known to the Israelites in the time of Ahaz and Pekah. The subdivisions of the deity (if they may be so called), which these heathen believed in, have been described in that note. But, by the side of each such subordinate or local god, we find a goddess, as the passive principle by the side of the active. These couplets had different names in different places (Bel and Belit at Babylon; Shed and Shedath among the Hittites (שַׁדַּי, Genesis 17:1; Job 5:17; Ruth 1:20, &c.); Hadad and Atargath at Damascus). The couplet which the Israelites adopted, Baal and Ashtaroth, is that of Sidon, showing whence this religious idea came to them. On the Baal-worship and the rites of Moloch see note on 2 Kings 16:3. The astral idea in this heathen religion does not seem to have attracted the attention of the Israelites before the time of Pekah and Ahaz, although Ashtaroth always had a distinctly sidereal character among the Phœnicians. The whole religious conception which has been above described, and which prevailed in Western Asia, was carried out by the Chaldeans and Assyrians into an astral system of deities. When the hierarchy of divinities, or deified emanations and attributes, with their corresponding masculine and feminine forms, had been elaborated, they were identified with the luminaries visible in the heavens. The sun, moon, planets, constellations, and stars formed a corresponding hierarchy whose members were identified. Eight cabirim or planets were reckoned; one was supposed to be invisible because it was nearer to the ultimate and original source, the ALL. It is not difficult to perceive the step by which they passed from this to astrology, divination, and sorcery. If the heavenly bodies are gods, or represent gods, and if they are seen to be in motion, then it is natural to suppose that those motions correspond with and cause the mutations of earthly events and fortune. Since the time of Ahaz and Pekah these religious notions had been introduced into Israel and Judah and accepted there. It is to them that the text refers.—“W. G. S.]
2 Kings 17:18. That then the Lord was very angry, &c. Here begins the real conclusion to 2 Kings 17:7 [see the amended translation]. As we had, in 2 Kings 17:8-17, the more complete development of 2 Kings 17:7, so we have here, in 2 Kings 17:19-23, that of 2 Kings 17:18 Out of his sight, i.e. out of the Holy Land where Jehovah has His dwelling; out of the land of the covenant and the land of revelation. Cf. Ezekiel 11:15 sq. On the tribe of Judah only, see 1 Kings 11:13; 1Ki 11:31; 1 Kings 11:36 (Exeg. notes).—In 2 Kings 17:19 the old expositors thought they saw the statement of a still farther reason for the rejection of Israel by God, which consisted in this, that it had, by its apostasy, tainted Judah also (Hosea 4:15), but the context shows that this notion is false. The verse is rather a parenthesis, as the Berleberg. Bibel observes. It contains an incidental remark which is brought out by the “only” in 2 Kings 17:18. It means to say that “in truth Judah was also ripe for punishment” (Thenius). 2 Kings 17:20 follows directly upon 2 Kings 17:18 in the connection of thought. We must understand by all the seed of Israel, not the entire people. Israel and Judah (Keil), but only the ten tribes; for the rejection of Judah had not yet occurred. The inhabitants of certain districts had been taken into exile, during the reign of Pekah (2 Kings 15:29). The inhabitants of the entire country were now, under Hoshea, taken away. Before that Jehovah had given them, for their chastisement and warning, into the hands of plunderers or “spoilers;” first into the hands of the Syrians (2 Kings 10:32; 2 Kings 13:3), and then into those of the Assyrians (2 Kings 15:19; 2 Kings 15:29)—כִּי in 2 Kings 17:21, connects back, not only with 2 Kings 17:18, but also with what has been said in 2 Kings 17:18-20. Grotius says justly in regard to 2 Kings 17:21 : ἐπάνοδος ad ostendendam malorum originem. Jeroboam’s calf-worship, which led to pure idolatry, was a consequence of the revolt from the house of David and the separation from Judah, so that these were the cause of all the misfortune. The Vulg. therefore renders, according to the sense: Ex eo jam tempore quo scissus est Israel a domo David. It cannot be correct to take Jehovah as the subject of קרע, as the old expositors did, and as Keil still does. This is a deduction from 1 Kings 11:11; 1 Kings 11:31, but the final cause of the apostasy and rejection of Israel is here given, and that cannot lie in Jehovah himself. The separation from the House of David took place indeed according to God’s decree; but it was only intended to serve as a humiliation to the House of David, and was not to last “forever” (1 Kings 11:39). It took for granted, moreover, that Jeroboam would remain faithful to the covenant and to the Law of Jehovah (1 Kings 11:38). But Jeroboam broke with these in order to make the separation permanent. The separation thereby became the germ of all calamity for Israel. The natural subject of קרע is יִשְׂרָאֵל (see 1 Kings 12:16), and it is not necessary to read, as Thenius does, נִקְרַע, i.e. “Israel had torn itself away;” nor to supply, as De Wette does, אֶת־הַמַּמְלָכָה: “Israel had torn away the royal authority from the House of David,” for it is not the monarchy as such which is here in question, but the separation between Israel and Judah, that is, the disruption of the theocratic relation. The words mean simply: secessionem fecerant (Clericus).
2 Kings 17:22 is not a mere repetition of 2 Kings 17:21, but it means: Israel not only fell into this sin of Jeroboam, but it persevered in it in spite of all the divine warnings and chastisements
2 Kings 17:23. As he had said by all His servants the prophets. Cf., for instance, Hosea 1:6; Hosea 9:16; Amos 3:11-12; Amos 5:27 : Isaiah 28:3. Unto this day, i.e. until the time at which the author was writing, which does not mean to affirm that the exile did not last any longer.
2 Kings 17:24. And the king of Assyria brought. This king the old expositors supposed to be Esar-haddon (2 Kings 19:37), because (Ezra 4:2) the Samaritans who desired to take part in the erection of the second temple, say to Zerubbabel: “We do sacrifice unto him [your God] since the days of Esarhaddon, king of Assur, which brought us up hither.” Keil still maintains this, because he thinks that 2 Kings 17:25 shows “that considerable time must have elapsed between the leading of the Israelites into exile and the introduction of new colonists into the depopulated country.” But this does not by any means follow from the words: It came to pass at the beginning of their dwelling there. The context forbids us to think of any other king, than the one above mentioned, Shalmaneser. Esarhaddon was not even his immediate successor, for [Sargon and] Sennacherib intervened. He did not come to the throne until 695  B.C., that is, twenty-six years after the Israelites were led into exile by Shalmaneser in 721. Nothing is more improbable than that the latter should have left the country destitute of population, and that this state of things should have lasted for twenty-six years. The colonists who speak in Ezra 4:2 are [descendants of] later ones, whom Esarhaddon may have sent, for some reason unknown to us, to join those already there. Why does not the author mention by name the king who is spoken of in 2 Kings 19:37, if that is the one he here meant? [This point also is treated in the Note below, at the end of Exeg. section.] Babel is here not the city, but the province, as in Psalms 137:1. The position of Cuthah is entirely uncertain. Josephus says: τὸ Χουθαίων ἕθνος, οἳ πρότερον ἐνδοτέρω τῆς Περσίδος καὶ τῆς Μηδίας ἦσαν. According to Gesenius and Rosenmüller, Babylonian Irak must be thought of as lying somewhere in the region of Nahar Malka. Clericus considers the Cuthæans as identical with the Kossæans, in Susiana, in the northeast of what is now Khurdistan, and this opinion is the best founded (cf. Winer, if. R.-W.-B. I. s. 237). As the Samaritans are called by the rabbis simply כותיים, it seems probable that the Cuthæans composed the main body of the colonists. [Cuthah was close to Babylon,—a suburb of it. See the Supp. Note below.] The location of the city or district Ava is also uncertain. It has been sought in Persia, in Syria, and in Mesopotamia. Perhaps it is to be identified with the Ivah which is mentioned in 2 Kings 18:34; 2 Kings 19:13; Isaiah 37:13. [Ivah, however, is unknown. In 2 Kings 17:31 it is said that “the Avites made Nibhaz,” a Chaldean god. Hence this place was unquestionably in Chaldea, near the others except Hamath. Whoever caused this migration had just conquered Chaldea, see the Supplementary Note below.] Hamath (1 Kings 8:65; 2 Kings 14:25), in the north of Palestine, on the Orontes, had then already fallen under Assyrian dominion. Sepharvaim is generally believed to be the Σιπφάρα mentioned by Ptolemy (2 Kings 5:18; 2 Kings 5:7), the southernmost city of Mesopotamia, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. However, as it is mentioned in Isaiah 36:19, together with Hamath and Arpad, Syrian localities, we might be rather led, with Vitringa and Ewald, to the supposition that it was a Syrian city. [It is undoubtedly Sippara, called by the Greeks Heliopolis. (Its divinity was Shamash, the sun, שֶׁמֶשׁ). The Chaldean legend of the flood says that Xisuthrus, warned by the gods of the approach of the flood, buried at Sippara tables on which were written an account of the origin of the world and of the ordinances of religion. His children dug them up after the flood, and they became authorities for the Chaldean religion (Lenormant). The primitive Chaldeans were Turanians; but if the word has a Semitic etymology it would seem to mean the Scripture-city (ספר).—W. G. S.] (On these different names, see Winer, R.-W.-B. s. v., [and the Dictionaries of the Bible]. This is the first time that שֹׁמְרוֹן is used of the entire kingdom. It is incorrect to infer, as Hengstenberg does, from the words: Instead of the children of Israel, that all the inhabitants, to the last man, were taken into exile, for, see 2 Chronicles 34:9. [Samaria was now reduced from the tributary to the provincial position, as Damascus had been twelve years before.]
2 Kings 17:25. And it came to pass at the beginning of their dwelling there, &c. The land became desolate in consequence of the exile of its inhabitants, especially as some time, no doubt, elapsed before the new colonists arrived and brought the land once more under cultivation. It is also probable that their number was not nearly as great as that of the exiles. So it came to pass that the lions, which had been in the country in small numbers before the exile, multiplied to such a degree as to be dangerous to the new inhabitants. Under the circumstances this was not purely a natural incident, but a divine dispensation. The author so considers it, having in mind Leviticus 26:22 (Exodus 23:29; Deuteronomy 32:24; cf. Ezekiel 14:15). The colonists saw in this an interposition of the god of the country, because they had not worshipped him. In order to escape from the plague they sent a request (2 Kings 17:26) to the king who had located them in this country, that he would send some one to them who could teach them how to worship the local deity, so that he might release them from the calamity. [See, on the heathen conception of local deities, Pt. II. p. 57.] With a genuine heathen judgment they considered the external worship a means of appeasing the god of whom they knew nothing. The priest who was sent to them was, as 2 Kings 17:27 expressly states, one of the exiles—that is to say, one of the priests of Jeroboam’s calf-worship. He took up his residence at Bethel, the chief seat of the calf-worship (1 Kings 12:29), although the Assyrians had carried away the golden calf (Hosea 10:5). Perhaps they erected there new images, not molten images, but less artistic and less expensive ones. The sending of this priest seems to be so particularly narrated, because it shows how it came that the country did not become entirely heathen.
2 Kings 17:29. Every nation made gods of their own. The new inhabitants, who had been brought from very different countries, set up, in the houses on the high places, which the Samaritans had prepared as places of worship (see Exeg. on 1 Kings 3:2-3), the images of their gods. Selden (De Diis Syr. ii. 7) understands סֻבּוֹת בְּנוֹת in the literal meaning of the words: “Daughter=huts,” and most of the expositors since his time have followed him in this interpretation. It is then understood to refer to the huts or tents in which the young women prostituted themselves in honor of Mylitta, i.e. Venus, a custom which Herodotus speaks of, i. 199. However, this is clearly against the context, for, whereas 2 Kings 17:29 treats of the places of worship, 2 Kings 17:30 gives the names of the gods whose images were set up in them. Succoth-Benoth is the first-mentioned amongst these. It is not, therefore, an appellative any more than the following names: Nergal, Asima, Nibhaz, and Tartak. The old versions all give it as a proper name. The Sept. have τὴν Σωκχὼθ Βανώθ or Βενίθ They therefore understood by it a female divinity. “סִכּוּת (Amos 5:26) was the name of a female divinity, בְּנוֹת and בֶּנִית appears only to contain a modification of it. Neither word is to be referred to a Hebrew etymology” (Fürst). We must not, therefore, understand it as referring to “little temples or shrines which were worshipped, together with the image which they contained” (Gesenius), but to the image of a particular divinity of which we know nothing further. The rabbis assert that it was a hen with her chickens, representing the constellation of the “Clucking Hen” [the Pleiades]. This is possible, but no further proofs of it can be produced. Movers’ interpretation of it, as female genitals, is entirely without foundation. The passage 2 Kings 23:7, which is often referred to for the above-mentioned ordinary interpretation, has no pertinency here.
[For an exhaustive summary of the different interpretations of these words heretofore offered, see Herzog’s Encyc. XV. s. 253. The Babylonian goddess Bilit or Mylitta (see note on 2 Kings 17:17) took two forms, just as Venus did in the classical mythology. The one, Taauth, was austere, the other, Nana or Zarpanit, was voluptuous. She had a temple at Babylon, where every woman was forced, once in her life-time, to surrender to a stranger as an act of worship to the goddess. At Cutha she was worshipped as Succoth-benoth, a name referring to these prostitutions. In the astral system she is Ishtar. In her “austere” form she is sanguinary and is the “Goddess of Battles—the Queen of Victories;” in her voluptuous form she presides over reproduction. Moreover two Ishtars are distinguished, each of which presides over two weeks of the month (hence called the “Goddess fifteen”). This accounts for the Phoenician plural form Ashtaroth. (Lenormant.)]
The names Nergal, Asima, Nibhaz, and Tartak have hitherto been explained very diversely upon etymological grounds, some of which are fictitious, and all of which are very uncertain. (See Gesenius’ Thesaurus; Winer’s R.-W.-B. s. v.) We therefore pass over these attempts at explanation. The rabbis ascribe to Nergal (probably Mars) the form of a cock, which certainly does occur frequently on the old Assyrian monuments; to Asima, the form of a goat; to Nibhaz, that of a dog; to Tartak, that of an ass. But these statements also rest upon very uncertain etymologies. The case is not much better with the names Adrammelech and Anammelech. We can only infer from the child-sacrifices which were offered to these idols so much as this, “that they were akin to Moloch” (Keil). The interpretations of Movers and Hitzig are very uncertain and doubtful.
[In an inscription of Nebuchadnezzar, now in the British Museum, is read: “I consecrated the portico of the god Nergal and of the god Nibhaz, the gods of the temple Valpitlam at Cutha.” (See note on 2 Kings 17:24) “The special god of this town was Nergal, and we learn from some mythological details given in the tablets of the library of Asshurbanipal, that he was worshipped there under the form of a lion” (Lenormant. I., 485.) His image is rare. He stands on the legs of a cock and has a sword in his hand. His epithets are: “the Great Hero, the King of Eight, the Master of Battles, Champion of the Gods” Hence he is identified with Mars.—Adrammelech=Adar-Malik, i.e. “Adar the king.” Adar (fire) was also called Samdan (the powerful). He was the Assyrian Hercules. Anammelech=Anu-Malik, i. e. “Anu,” or “Oannes, the king.” “Oannes, the ‘Lord of the Lower World, the Lord of Darkness,’ was represented on the monuments under the strange figure of a man with an eagle’s tail, and for his head-dress an enormous fish, whose open mouth rises above his head, while the body covers his shoulders” (Lenormant.)]
According to 2 Kings 17:32, the worship of heathen gods and the worship of Jehovah, under the form of the calf, existed side by side. In regard to the priests “from the mass of the people” see note on 1 Kings 12:31.
2 Kings 17:33 repeats and brings together the contents of 2 Kings 17:28-32.
2 Kings 17:34. Unto this day they do after the former manners. Even at the time at which the author was writing they still followed the way of the first colonists, that is, those which are described in 2 Kings 17:28-33. Some did not worship Jehovah, but served idols (2 Kings 17:25; 2 Kings 17:29); these were the heathen who had immigrated, who had brought their national divinities with them and still worshipped them; the others worshipped Jehovah indeed (2 Kings 17:28-32), but not according to the ordinances which had been given them by Him; these were those of the Israelites who remained, and those who adopted the worship taught by the priests of Jeroboam’s calf-worship, who were sent back for the purpose (2 Kings 17:27). The words in 2 Kings 17:34 : After their statutes or after their ordinances, do not, therefore, stand “in contrast” with those which immediately follow, as Keil thinks, that is, with the words: After the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, so that the meaning would be: “Until this day the Samaritans have retained their peculiar worship, which consists of idolatry and the worship of Jehovah through the calf-image, and do not worship according to the manner of the ten tribes, nor according to the Mosaic law.” The ו before כַּתּוֹרָה cannot have any other meaning than that which it has before the preceding and the following words. It does not, therefore, mean “still,” but “and” in the sense of “namely,” in which sense it so often occurs. The words “וכתורה וגו״ form an epexegesis to כהקתם וגו״,” as Thenius justly remarks cf. 1 Kings 2:3)—The sentence: Whom he named Israel has the same sense here as in 1 Kings 18:31—In reference to those who at the time of the author still persisted in illegal worship, or even in idolatry, he points expressly, in order to show the heinousness of their offence, in 2 Kings 17:35-39, to what Jehovah had done amongst His people and for them, and how earnestly he had warned them against any breach of the covenant—On 2 Kings 17:36 see note above on 2 Kings 17:7. The breach of the covenant was the more base inasmuch as the Lord had miraculously removed all the hindrances, even the greatest ones, and had held faithful to His people. In 2 Kings 17:37 particular stress is laid upon the fact that the Law was written, and not merely spoken. The existence of the written law is, therefore, assumed as undoubted—And they did not hearken (2 Kings 17:40); i.e. “Those descendants of the ones to whom this warning and exhortation had been addressed, who had remained in the land” (Thenius). Their former manner, i. e. the worship introduced by Jeroboam. 2 Kings 17:41 brings the author’s review of the history to a close with a reference to the posterity of the apostates who had, not desisted from the sins of their fathers. [There is great obscurity in the verses 33–41, probably because the writer has in mind different classes of the Samaritan population whom he does not distinguish or define. Thus the subject changes in 2 Kings 17:33-34 without being specified in such a manner as the laws of grammar require. If we paragraph as is done in the amended translation, and identify the subjects as is there suggested, we reach a clear meaning.—The new population of the northern kingdom might be classified thus: (a) Sincere worshippers of Jehovah in the old theocratic sense. These were very few, if indeed there were any. (b) Worshippers of Jehovah under the form of the calf, i.e., adherents of the old worship of the northern tribes, (c) Israelites who adhered to the calf-worship, but had adopted also the idolatry of the heathen colonists, (d) Heathen colonists who had adopted the calf-worship.—Thus there were very few, possibly none, whom this theocratic author could approve. The third and fourth were the largest classes, and are the ones referred to in the text. Those under (c) “feared not the Lord,” i.e. in the religious sense. They knew him and should have been his servants, but were not, while they apostatized to idolatry. Those under (d) “feared the Lord,” not in the religious sense,—they never had been taught to fear God in that sense,—but they were afraid of Him, and paid Him deference, but served, i.e., gave their faith and worship to their heathen divinities—W. G. S.]
[Supplementary Note on the references to contemporaneous history in chap. 17. (See similar notes after chaps. 2 Kings 15:16.) The great king Tiglath Pileser died in 727. In the same year Ahaz died and was succeeded by Hezekiah on the throne of Judah. Shalmaneser (IV. Rawlinson; VI. Lenormant), the next king of Assyria, seems to have been a less able ruler. “We have no records of him save some bronze weights in the British Museum. The dates, however, are furnished by the canon. Hoshea’s revolt against Pekah, as we saw at the end of the note on chap. 15, was a success for the policy of submission to Assyria. However, this entire history is nothing but a series of revolts against Assyria, and Hoshea, in his turn, soon renewed the attempt. In 725 the Ethiopians, who had for some time held dominion over Upper Egypt, invaded Lower Egypt under a king named Shebek (Sabacon, Shabaka). This name is really Shaba or Shava, with the Cushite article ka appended. It is therefore written in Hebrew סוא. The Massoretes punctuated this סוֹא. (See note on 2 Kings 17:4 above.) This king succeeded in overrunning all of Egypt, and conquering it, although the native dynasty preserved its succession, being confined to the western half of the delta “in the marshes” (Herod. II. 137). The appearance of this great conqueror on the scene infused hope into the small nations of Western Asia that they might be able at least to change masters; that this new Egyptian power might form a counterpoise to the Assyrian; and that his rule might be found milder. Hoshea was seduced by this hope. He plotted a revolt, but Shalmaneser hastened to crush the attempt before union with Shebek might make it formidable. He captured Hoshea, conquered the province of Samaria, and in December, 724, laid siege to the capital by investment. In 722 he died. He left a son who was a minor. The Tartan or general-in-chief, Sargon, a member of the royal family, seized the throne in spite of some opposition. An eclipse of March 19, 721, was influential in some way at this crisis. For three years he was nominally regent for the young prince (Samdan-Malik=Samdan [Hercules] is King). From 718 on he reigned alone. He was a great conqueror, one of the most famous of the kings of Assyria. He regained all the territory which had been lost and extended the empire beyond any limits which it had ever attained “The long inscriptions found by M. Botta in the palace of Khor-sabad make us even better acquainted with the details of his reign than with those of more than one of the Roman emperors.” A long inscription, called commonly the “Acts of Sargon,” details the events of fifteen campaigns. The following are the contents, so far as they are interesting to us in the present connection:
“I besieged, took, and occupied the city of Samaria, and caried into captivity 27,280 of its inhabitants. I changed the former government of the country, and placed over it lieutenants of my own” Thus he counts the capture of Samaria among his own achievements. In place of the inhabitants whom he forced to emigrate, he introduced colonies from Elam which he had just conquered.
“… and Sebeh, Sultan [so Lenormant translates a rare title which is said to mean suzerain, referring probably to Shebek’s position as a recent conqueror and not regular king] of Egypt, came to Raphia to fight against me; they met me and I routed them. Sebeh fled.”
Pursuing the record in order to find traces of the recolonization of Samaria, we notice the following:
From 720 to 715 the Assyrians were occupied in an unsuccessful siege of Tyre. “Yaubid of Hamath.… persuaded … Damascus and Samaria to revolt against me, and prepared for battle.… I killed the chiefs of the rebels in each city and destroyed the cities.” [This revolt of Samaria, after its reduction to a province, is not mentioned in the Bible. It may have been after this conquest of Hamath that some of the inhabitants of that country were colonized in Samaria.]
The inhabitants of Papha in Pisidia were transported to Damascus.
In 710 he marched against Ashdod, which had revolted (Isaiah 20:1).
In 709, according to the canon of Ptolemy, Sargon defeated Merodach Baladan at the battle of Dur Yakin. By this victory he resubjugated Chaldea, which had been independent since 747. The prisoners taken in Chaldea were colonized in Samaria. In August, 704, Sargon was assassinated.
He was succeeded by Sennacherib, whose glory rivalled that of his predecessor. In regard to him see the Note after the Exeg. section on the next chapter. In 681 he was assassinated by his two sons.
Another son, Esarhaddon, succeeded him, and reigned from 681 to 667. On him also see below. We are only concerned here with one statement in his annals.—At the close of his first campaign, which was in Phœnicia, he says: “I settled the inhabitants of Syria and the sea shore in strange lands. I built in Syria a fortress, called Dur-asshur-akhiddin, and there established men whom my bow had subdued in the mountains, and towards the sea of the rising sun (Caspian)” [Whether Syria here includes Samaria is indeed doubtful, but it is probable that, as the policy of transportation was practised more and more, it became more thorough and comprehensive. Probably this was a large migration, since the name of a country is given for the new seat of the colonists instead of the names of cities. Hence the memory of this migration was perpetuated while the lesser migrations under Sargon were forgotten. It is not at all likely that the different migrations remained distinct from one another, and remembered each the time and occasion of its own migration. The second temple was finished in 516 (Ewald), so that from the time of Esarhaddon to the time of the speakers in Ezra 4:2 there must have been 160 years. This is sufficient to account for the fact that they ascribe their origin to Esarhaddon.] In this account we have followed Lenormant’s Manual very closely.—W. G. S.]
HISTORICAL AND ETHICAL
1. Only so much is narrated in regard to the nine years’ reign of Hoshea as pertains to this fact, that he was the last king of the kingdom of the ten tribes. “Hoshea’s chief aim was to become independent of Assyria. He saw what a mistake Menahem had made when he called Pul into the country, and what had been the sad consequences to Pekah, who had subjected himself to Tiglath Pileser” (Schlier). [See the last paragraph of the Supplementary Note on chap. 15.] He therefore refused the tribute which had been imposed, turned to Egypt for help, and defended himself for three years bravely and perseveringly against the Assyrian power. From this it is evident that he was not a weak ruler, but that he had a strong will and was an able general. But the despairing resistance was useless, the measure was full, the days of the northern kingdom were numbered, and the long threatened ruin drew on unchecked. The criticism upon Hoshea’s reign, and his conduct in general, which is given in 2 Kings 17:2, is often understood as if it asserted that he was the best of all the kings of the northern kingdom. Ewald says: “It seems like a harsh jest of fate that this Hoshea, who was to be the last king, was better than all his predecessors. The words of the noble prophets who, during the last fifty years, had spoken so many and such grand oracles in regard to this kingdom, had perhaps had more influence upon him. But as these prophets had always foretold the destruction of the kingdom as certain, so the irresistible power which works in history was now to show that an individual, though a king, better than all his predecessors, is too weak to arrest the ruin of the commonwealth when the time for reformation is past” The Calwer Bibel also says of Hoshea: “When he was at length seated upon the throne he showed himself personally better than all his predecessors, and nevertheless it was in his reign that the destruction was consummated.” Schlier also supposes that Hoshea, in the conflict, through which it is assumed that he won the throne, “turned to the Lord more sincerely than his predecessors.” There is not a word of all that, however, in the text. The words in 2 Kings 17:2 do not say that he was better than all his predecessors, but only that he was not as bad as the kings before him (לְפָנָיו). This can only be understood, however, as applying to his immediate predecessors (Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah), for the word “all” is not in the text. [It is arbitrary and untenable to restrict the application of the words to these kings. The “all” is not in the text, but it is a fact that the author introduces a modification here into the standing formula which goes farther towards lessening the sweeping condemnation than any which is introduced at the mention of any other king of the northern kingdom. Jehoram is said to have been bad, but not as bad as Ahab and Jezebel (2 Kings 3:2). In the other cases the condemnation is utter and complete. The modification introduced in reference to Hoshea, slight as it is, is, therefore, by comparison, very weighty.—W. G. S.] The statement does not apply to his personal and moral character, but to his attitude as king towards the national religion. He made his way to the throne by conspiracy and murder (2 Kings 15:30), as several of his predecessors had done. He did not, therefore, have any “better principles,” and was not a “better man” than they. If he had listened to the warnings of the true prophets, he would not have turned to Egypt for help, for they warned him against this as much as against Assyria. The least probable supposition of all is that Hoshea gave up the cultus which Jeroboam had introduced, for, if he had done so, then his fate would have been undeserved. [This argument is presumptuous and unfounded. All such inferences from the dispensations of Providence to the desert of those who suffer calamity are precarious and unbecoming. The special fact here at. stake is insignificant, but the general principle involved in this method of argument is of the first importance.—W. G. S.] The review of the history which the author appends to the story of this reign assumes that the king adhered to Jeroboam’s cultus. His case is similar to that of Jehoram, of whom it is said (2 Kings 3:2): “He wrought evil in the. sight of the Lord, but not like his father and like his mother, for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam.” Hoshea may have differed from his immediate predecessors in the same way. Probably he was led more by political than by religious considerations, at least we find no sign at all of the latter. We have no reason at all to imagine that he was genuinely converted. For the rest, it has several times occurred in the history of the world, as Keil remarks, that the last rulers of a falling kingdom have been better than their predecessors.
2. The somewhat lengthy review which the author appends to the story of the downfall of the northern kingdom is, as Hess observes: “Almost the only instance in the Old Testament where the author departs from his usual habit of simply narrating, without inserting any comments of his own.” We see from this that he was interested not only in the narrative, but also in something further. Here, where the kingdom of the ten tribes comes to an end, and disappears forever from history, was the place, if there was any, for casting a glance back upon its development and history, and for bringing together the characteristics of the story in a summary. This he does from the Old Testament stand-point, according to which God chose the people of Israel to be His own peculiar people, made a covenant with it, and took it under His especial guidance and direction for the welfare and salvation of all nations. The breach of the covenant by the northern kingdom is, therefore, in his view, the first, the peculiar, and the only cause of its final fall, and this fall is the judgment of the holy and just God. By showing this in careful detail he makes it clear to us that this is the only light in which the history can be or ought to be criticised. His mode of criticism, therefore, stands in marked contrast with that of modern critical science, which considers it its task to set aside this point of view,—to measure the history of the people of God by the same standards as that of any other ancient people. There is no other passage in the Bible where what we have called in the Introduction, § 3, the theocratic-pragmatic form of representation, is so clearly and distinctly evident as in this review. This is a proof that the author of these books was a prophet, or belonged to the prophet-class, and so that it is properly reckoned among the נְבִיאים. This review, however, is noticeable also in another respect, viz., that the existence of the תּוֹרָה with all its עֵדוֹת הֻקּוֹת מִצְוֹת, and מִשְׁפָּטִים, long before the time of the monarchy, and that too in a written form (2 Kings 17:37), is assumed in it as unquestioned. If the author had not known that this Law, in the form in which he was familiar with it, had existed long before the division of the kingdom, he could not have declared so distinctly and decidedly that the fall of the kingdom of the ten tribes was a divine judgment upon it for its apostasy from that Law.
3. The forced emigration of the ten tribes to Assyria was a result of the despotic principle which was accepted throughout the entire Orient, that it was right to make any revolt of subjugated nations impossible (see Exeg. on 1 Kings 8:50). In this case it was not merely a transportation into another country, but also the commencement of the dissolution of the ten tribes as a nationality. No one particular province in Assyria was assigned to them as their dwelling-place, but several, which were far separated from one another, so that, although this or that tribe may have been kept more or less together, as seems probable from Tob. i., yet the different tribes were scattered up and down in a foreign nation, without the least organic connection with one another. They never again came together; on the contrary they were gradually lost among the surrounding nations, so that no one knows, until this day, what became of them, and every attempt to discover the remains of them has been vain. (See, on the attempts which have been made, Keil, Comm. zu den BÜchern d. K. s. 311, sq.) In this particular the exile of the ten tribes differs from that of Judah and Benjamin. The exile in Babylon was temporary. It lasted for a definite period which had been foretold by the prophets (2 Chronicles 36:21; Jeremiah 29:10). It was not like the Assyrian exile, a period of national dissolution. Judah did not perish in exile; it rather gained strength, and finally came back into the land of promise, whereas, of the ten tribes only a few who had joined themselves to Judah, and become a part of it, ever found their way back. The ten tribes had, by their violent separation from the rest of the nation, broken the unity of the chosen people, and, in order to maintain this separation, they had revolted from the national covenant with Jehovah. The breach of the covenant was the corner-stone of their existence as a separate nationality. Thereby also they had given up the destiny of the people of God in the world’s history. They were the larger fragment of the entire nation, but they were only a separate member which was torn away from the common stock, a branch separated from the trunk, which could only wither away. After 250 years of separate existence, when all the proofs of the divine grace and faithfulness had proved vain, it was the natural fate of the ten tribes to perish and to cease to be an independent nation. “The Lord removed them out of his sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone” (2 Kings 17:18). The case was different with Judah. Although it had sinned often and deeply against its God, yet it never revolted formally and in principle from the covenant, much less was its existence built upon a breach of the covenant. It remained the supporter and the preserver of the Law, and therefore also of the promise. Its deportation was indeed a heavy punishment and a well-deserved chastisement, but it did not perish thereby, nor disappear as a nation from history, but it was preserved until He came of whom it was said: “The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32, sq.).
4. The population of the country of the ten tribes after their migration consisted, in the first place, of the few of the ancient inhabitants who had remained. That such a remnant did remain is certain, whether we assume that there were two immigrations, one under Shalmaneser and the other under Esarhaddon, or only one under the latter (see note on 2 Kings 17:24 under Exegetical [See, also, the bracketed note under Exeget. and Crit., on 2 Kings 17:41, for the classes among the population, and the Supplementary Note above, at the end of the Exeg. section, for the details of the repopulation of the country by Sargon and Esarhaddon.]). This is proved beyond question by 2 Chronicles 30:6; 2 Chronicles 30:10; 2 Chronicles 34:9; Jeremiah 41:5. Furthermore this is supported by “the analogy of all similar deportations, in which only the mass of the population was carried off, especially the classes from whom revolts might be expected, and by the fact that, in a mountainous country, it would be impossible to seize every man of the population” (Keil). [For the number of persons carried away see the Inscription quoted in the Supp. Note above.] The new inhabitants, however, formed the chief portion of the population. The king of Assyria had brought them from different parts of his kingdom, which was already far extended. They did not, therefore, belong to one, but to many diverse nationalities and races. They worshipped various national divinities, and each nation amongst them had its own cultus which it retained (2 Kings 17:29-31). Their common life in the same country produced unavoidably a mixture of the various nationalities with each other as well as with the remnant of the Israelites. A nation was thus formed which lacked all unity of worship, and which, socially and religiously, formed a complete chaos. As the exiles, scattered in different localities, lost their national unity and character, so did also the few Isralites who remained in the country and formed connections with the immigrants. In place of unity there arose a complete dissolution and disintegration of the nationality of the ten tribes. They never regained their unity. The author means to say in the passage from 2 Kings 17:24 on that this was the judgment of God upon the covenant-breaking and apostate people which had resisted every chastisement and every warning to reform.
5. The cultus which prevailed in the northern kingdom after the exile of the ten tribes, is commonly designated as an “amalgam of Jehovah calf-worship, and heathen idolatry” (Keil and others). But the text speaks, not of an amalgamated cultus, but of an amalgamated population (see notes on 2 Kings 17:34). Jeroboam’s Jehovah-worship, although it was illegal, was nevertheless monotheism. As such it simply and utterly excluded polytheism. So, for instance, Jehu, who maintained Jeroboam’s cultus, rooted out idolatry with violence (2 Kings 10:28 sq.). Now a cultus which had for its object the one true God, and at the same time many gods, a cultus in which monotheism and polytheism were combined, is inconceivable, because it involves a fundamental contradiction. [This is unquestionably true in logic, but such inconsistencies are very common in history. The population of Samaria (see bracketed note on 2 Kings 17:41 under Exeg.) had no such clear and well-defined devotion to the Jehovah-worship, even under its degraded form, and no such pure consciousness of the bearings of the various parts of their cultus upon one another, as to feel this contradiction and try to escape it. A truer conception of the state of things would be that the Jehovah calf-worship, when reestablished, took its place among the other acknowledged forms of worship. The remains of the ancient Israelitish population cultivated this worship especially, the other nationalties cultivated each its own cultus especially, and thus the various forms existed side by side, doubtless not without mutual influence on one another. This is substantially the view advocated by Bahr below, and it is far more consistent with all we know of the state of things than the amalgamation theory. The latter cannot be disposed of, however, by showing its logical inconsistency.—W. G. S.] It seems that the exiles maintained in their banishment the worship of Jehovah through Jeroboam’s calf images (Tob. i. 5). It is still more probable that those who remained in Samaria did the same. The priest who was sent back to Samaria (2 Kings 17:27) was to “teach them the manner of the God of the land.” He therefore took up his residence at the chief seat of Jeroboam’s worship, at Bethel, which thus became once more the centre of this worship. It was not, however, the source of a new worship which combined the ancient form with idolatry. That the Jehovah-worship was maintained in the country without mixture with heathenism is shown by the statement of those who, 200 years afterwards, came to Zerubbabel and said: “Let us build with you; for we seek your God as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon, king of Assur, who brought us up hither” (Ezra 4:2). In later times this Samaritan people “was more strict in its adherence to the Mosaic law than even the Jews” (Von Gerlach). How could this have been the case if their cultus had been mixed with idolatry from the time of the Assyrian exile onwards? The form of Jehovah-worship which Jeroboam had introduced, and heathen idolatry, existed, as a consequence of the mixed population, alongside of one another, but not in one another. Although individuals may have tried to practise both worships at once, or may have turned now to one and now to the other, the mass of the Israelites who remained held firmly to the illegitimate Jehovah-worship, so that this gradually gained the upper hand of heathenism. At the time of Christ we hear no more of the latter in Samaria. As the Samaritans recognized the authority of the whole Pentateuch, the Jews could not regard them as idolators. They were not willing, however, to have any intercourse with them, because, in blood, they were no longer pure Israelites, and so were not a portion of the people which was sharply separated, in. blood, from all heathen nations. They were considered, ἀλλογενεῖς and as such they were held in about the same estimation as the heathen (Luke 17:16; Luke 17:18; Matthew 10:5; John 4:9; John 8:48). The bitter hostility between the Samaritans and the-Jews is to be ascribed, in great part, to the ancient, deep-rooted, never extinguished hatred of the tribes of Judah and Ephraim for one another (see 1 Kings 12:0, Hist. § 1.). On the Samaritans see Winer, R.-W.-B. II. s. 369; Herzog, Real-Encyc. XIII. s. 363.
6. Finally, we may here briefly take notice of the manner in which modern historians represent and judge the fall of the Kingdom of the Ten Tribes. “Samaria,” says Duncker (Gesch. d. Alt. s. 443, sq.), “defended itself with the energy of despair in the determination either to preserve its independent national existence or to perish. It was only after a siege of three years’ duration, and the most obstinate resistance, that the capital fell, and with it the kingdom. Without proper preparation or energetic leadership, unsupported by the natural allies in Judah or by Egypt, Israel fell after brave resistance, and so not without honor.” Weber speaks in like manner of the “glorious” fall of Israel. Menzel (Staats- und Religionsgesch. s. 229) passes his judgment as follows: “The energetic prophet class, which had had so much to do with the foundation of the kingdom of Israel, had found its grave with Elisha. The prophets Amos and Hosea, who appeared during the reigns of the last kings of the house of Israel, saw their activity limited to rebukes and reproofs. The former was banished from Bethel as an inciter of sedition. The ancient prophets do not seem to have recorded anything which would cast upon the kings or the people of Israel the reproach of an idolatry which was stained by human blood, as the historical and prophetical books do for several of the kings of Judah, although they are severe enough in their denunciations of the vices, and of the illegitimate forms of worship, of the northern kingdom. It is true that the institution of the prophets had shown itself incapable of arresting the decline of the northern kingdom, or of setting up a strong dynasty in the place of the regular succession which had been broken by the overthrow of the house of Omri, and that, in Judah, the duration of the kingdom of the house of David had been preserved, by the help of the priesthood, yet even there the final ruin had only been postponed for a century.” As for this last conception of the history, which in fact makes the prophets responsible for the fall of Israel, in the first place it runs directly counter to the entire history of the redemptive scheme, and in so far needs no refutation. It only shows how far astray we may go, if we give up and abandon the stand-point from which alone this history claims to be considered, and from which alone it can be understood. But the first representation quoted above is, to say the least, destitute of foundation, for the text, which says no more than that Shalmaneser, after 2½ years’ siege, took the city, does not by any means intend by this to chant a song of praise and glory over the fallen city. There is no syllable to imply that this siege was lengthened out by the brave and “heroic resistance” of the inhabitants. The great allied army of the Syrians and the Israelites besieged Jerusalem for a long time, and nevertheless could not take it (2 Kings 16:5), though the cowardly Ahaz did not offer heroic resistance. Shalmaneser was at the same time carrying on war with the surrounding people, by which the strength of his army was divided. Moreover, Samaria had a very strong site on a hill. Still other circumstances which are not mentioned may have conspired to lengthen out the siege. Although the city may have been bravely defended, which certainly is very possible, yet it does not follow that the northern kingdom “fell with honor.” It is impossible to speak of the “glorious end” of a kingdom which was in a state of anarchy, and which was politically, morally, and religiously rotten and shattered, as the contemporary prophets testify in the plainest and strongest terms. The praise which is awarded, however, is most plainly shown to be undeserved by the review which the ancient historian himself gives of the decline and fall of Israel.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
2 Kings 17:1-6. The last King of Israel. a) “He did, &c., yet not, &c.,” 2 Kings 17:2. (Though he did not go so far in wickedness as the 18 who preceded him, nevertheless he did not walk in the way of salvation. Half-way conversion is no conversion. In order to bring back the nation from its wicked ways, he should have been himself devoted to the Lord with all his heart. When people are not fully in earnest in their conversion, then there is no cessation of corruption, whether it be the case of an individual or of a State.) b) He makes a covenant with the king of Egypt, 2 Kings 17:4. (By this he showed that his heart was not perfect with God. Egypt, the very power out of whose hand God had wonderfully rescued His people, was to help him against Assyria. But: “Cursed be the man,” &c., Jeremiah 17:5; Jeremiah 17:7; Hosea 7:11-13. “Woe to them,” &c., Isaiah 31:1. “It is better,” &c., Psalms 118:8-9; Psalms 91:1. sq.). c) He loses his land and his people and is cast into prison, 2 Kings 17:4-6. (By conspiracy and murder he had attained to the throne and to the highest pitch of human greatness, but his end was disgrace, misery, and life-long imprisonment, Psalms 1:1-6. Thus ended the kingdom of Israel, Isaiah 28:1-4.)—Cramer: Godless men think that they will escape punishment though they do not repent. They therefore fall into discontent; as a result of such discontent they have recourse to forbidden means, such as perjury, treachery, and secret plots. They hew them out cisterns that can hold no water, Jeremiah 2:13, for it is vain to make covenants with the godless, and to neglect the true God (Hosea 7:11).—Starke: Upon him who will not be humbled by small evils God sends great and heavy ones (1 Peter 5:6).
2 Kings 17:7-23. The fall of the kingdom of the ten tribes. a) It was the result of the sin and guilt of the people. (Separation from the other tribes and dissolution of the national unity—revolt from the national covenant and overthrow of the Law—degeneration into heathenism—persistence in sin—moral and religious corruption, Matthew 12:25; Hosea 13:9.) It was a judgment of the just and holy God. (“I, the Lord, … give to every man according to his ways;” Jeremiah 17:10; Romans 2:5-6 : “The Lord God, merciful and gracious,” etc., Exodus 34:6; “God is not mocked,” Galatians 6:7. He guarded the kingdom of Israel for 250 years in patience and long-suffering. He warned, and threatened, and taught, and chastised, and sent messengers to summon them to return. When all proved vain He sent the Assyrians, the rod of His wrath and the staff of His indignation, Isaiah 10:5-6. He removed them from before His face. The judgment never fails to come. It does not come at once, it is often delayed for centuries, but it comes at last, upon States as well as upon individuals, 1 Corinthians 10:11-12.)—Berleb. Bibel: Would that men, when they read such passages, would stop and think, and would enter upon a comparison between the people of God of that time and of this, and would thus make application of the lesson of history. The people of Israel were hardly as wicked as the Christians of to-day. The responsibility to-day is far greater, for they were called to righteousness under the old Law, we under the Gospel of free grace. The people of the ten tribes did not reject belief in the God who had brought them out of Egypt, when they founded the kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 12:28), but they made to themselves, contrary to the law of this God, an image of Him. This was the beginning of their downfall, the germ of their ruin, which produced all the evil fruits which followed. This led from error to error. They commenced with an image of Jehovah; they finished with the frightful sacrifices of Moloch. He who has once abandoned the centre of revealed truth, sinks inevitably deeper and deeper, either into unbelief or into superstition, so that he finally comes to consider darkness light, and folly wisdom. So it was in Israel, so it is now in Christendom. He who abandons the central truth of Christianity, Christ, the Son of God, is in the way of losing God, for “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father” (1 John 2:23).—A nation which no longer respects the word of God, but makes a religion for itself according to its own good pleasure, will sooner or later come to ruin.
2 Kings 17:9-12. External rites of worship were not wanting in the land of Israel. In all the cities, on all the mountains and hills, under all the green trees, there were places for prayer, altars, and images, but nevertheless the true God was not known (Acts 17:22-23), and no worship of the true God in spirit and in truth existed. Their heart was darkened in spite of all their worship (Romans 1:21; Romans 1:23), because they did not revere the word of God, and placed their light under a bushel. So it was at the time when Luther appeared, and so it is yet everywhere where the light of the Gospel is not set upon a candlestick that it may give light to the whole house. What is the use of crucifixes if the Crucified One dwell not in the heart, and if the flesh with its lusts be not crucified?
2 Kings 17:13-14. Starke: Before God sends forth His judgments and chastisements, He sends out true and upright teachers who call the people to repentance (2 Chronicles 36:15-16).—The Lord still provides a testimony of Himself, and sends to the unbelieving and perverse world this message by His faithful servants: Turn ye from your evil ways! But, as it was with Israel, so it is still; those who preach repentance are laughed to scorn. He, however, who does not listen to the exhortation to repentance, does not remain as he was, he becomes continually worse and worse. If such a heavy punishment fell upon those who would not hear the prophets, what must those expect who do not listen to the words of the Son of God, but persevere in their unbelief and in their sins? Hebrews 4:7; Heb 10:29. 2 Kings 17:15-17. Contempt for the covenant and for the testimonies of God makes men “vain,” that is, insignificant and empty, like the heathen whose gods are nothingness. [A heathen god is nothing, a nullity, it is emptiness, a name for something which does not exist, vanity. People who worship them make themselves empty, insignificant, and vain.] The further a man removes himself from God, the more vain and insignificant he becomes, however learned and cultivated he may be, and however highly esteemed he may appear.—If an entire people falls into slavery and misery, or even loses its national existence, the reason for it must not be sought merely in external, political circumstances, but, first of all, in its apostasy from the living God and His word.—Berl. Bibel: They rejected His ordinances, not indeed by a declaration in words, but by their life and conduct. What can be regarded among us as more explicit rejection and contempt of God, than to assert and to try to convince one’s self that it is impossible to keep God’s ordinances? Only look at Christ’s ordinances in Matthew 5:6, , Matthew 5:7, and compare them with the maxims which we profess, and then say whether more of us accept than reject the former. How do we keep the covenant which we have made in baptism, to conduct ourselves as those who belong to God (Galatians 5:24)? But that covenant is the covenant of a good conscience towards God (1 Peter 3:21). If we take up the point of “vanity,” we may use the words of Ecclesiastes 1:2. Our speeches, our works, our dress, our buildings, our food, and all our habits of mind bear testimony of its truth. They served Baal; we serve the belly, mammon, the world, nay, even the devil himself, Romans 6:16. They caused their children to pass through the fire; through how many dangerous fires of worldly lust we cause our children to pass? Most of them are so corrupted by false education, and so much trained to evil by false example, that finally parents and children fall together into the eternal fire.
2 Kings 17:18. Kyburz: The kingdom of Israel had nineteen kings, and not one of them was truly pious. Wonder not at the wrath but at the patience of God, in that He endured their evil ways for many hundred years, and at their ingratitude, that they did not allow themselves, by His long-suffering, to be led to repentance. Is it any better nowadays?
2 Kings 17:19. Richter: Judah was corrupted by Israel as Germany was by France. Observe: Israel was never improved by the good which still remained in Judah, but Judah was only too often corrupted by the evil in Israel. Evil conquers and spreads faster than good.
2 Kings 17:20-23. Pfaff. Bibel: When the measure of sin is full, then at last the judgments of God begin to fall (Psalms 7:11-12).—Würt Summ.: We should see ourselves in this mirror and not bring on and hasten the ruin of our fatherland by our sins, for what here befell the kingdom of Israel, or even more, may befall us (Romans 11:21).
2 Kings 17:24-41. The Land of the Ten Tribes after their Exile. a) The substitution of foreign and heathen nations for the Israelitish population, 2 Kings 17:24-33. b) The religious state of things in the country, which was produced by this. Cramer: It is indeed a great calamity when the inhabitants of a country are expelled, with their wives and children, by the invasion of foreign nations; but it is a still greater misfortune when the devil’s temple is set up in places where the worship of the true God has been celebrated (Psalms 74:3).—Würt. Summ.: The land in which Christ and His Apostles preached has fared as did the land of Israel; the Koran now prevails there. So also have many other cities and States fared, which now hear the doctrines of Antichrist, instead of the doctrines of Christ. Therefore we ought to guard ourselves against contempt of the word of God, that God may not be led to chastise our land and church also (Revelation 2:5).
2 Kings 17:25-28. The heathen immigrants imagined that, in order to get rid of the plague of the lions, it was necessary to observe particular religious ceremonies. This fancy prevails yet to a considerable extent even in Christendom. People think that they can be delivered from all sorts of evil by practising certain rites, whereas no religious acts are pleasing to Almighty God, or have value, unless they are an involuntary, direct expression of living faith, and of surrender of the heart to God.
2 Kings 17:27. The king of Assyria, a heathen, took care that the religious necessities of his subjects should be provided for. He even sent a priest of Jehovah to teach them. Would that all Christian rulers were like him in this! 2 Kings 17:29-33. A country cannot fall lower than it does when each man makes unto himself his own god. We are indeed beyond the danger of making to ourselves idols of wood and stone, silver and gold, but we are none the less disposed to form idols for ourselves out of our own imaginations, and not to fear and worship the one true God as He has revealed Himself to us. That is the cultivated heathenism of the present day. Some make to themselves a god who dwells above the stars and does not care much for the omissions or commissions of men upon earth; others, one who can do everything but chastise and punish, or one in whose sight men forgive themselves their own sins; who does not recompense each according to his works, but forgives all without discrimination, and who opens heaven to all alike, no matter how they have lived upon earth (Jeremiah 10:14-15).
2 Kings 17:29. Cramer: Sketch of the papacy, under which each country, city, and house has its own divinity, its saint and patron. (“O Israel!…in me is thine help:” Hosea 13:9; see also 2 Kings 17:39 of this chapter).
2 Kings 17:33. Berl. Bib. They feared the Lord and worshipped their own idols! Is not that exactly the state of things amongst us? We want to serve more than one Lord. We have invented a kind of fear of God with which the worship of gold, fame, and worldly enjoyment, and, above all, of selfishness, is not inconsistent, nay, it is rather a component part of it.
2 Kings 17:34, sq. Decay in religious matters, lack of unity of conviction in the highest and noblest affairs, prevents a nation from ever becoming great and strong. It is a sign of the most radical corruption. Similarity of faith and community of worship form a strong uniting force, and are the condition of true national unity. The existence of different creeds and confessions by the side of one another is a source of national weakness. It is an error to try to produce this unity by force; it is a blessing only when it proceeds from a free conviction (Ephesians 4:3-6).—J. Lange: The correct application of the lesson of this passage is to abstain from communion with whatever is inconsistent with the Christian religion, for, outside of Christianity there are, besides the errors which undermine the foundation of faith, also those ordinances of men, and service of the world and sin, which, alas! the majority, even in evangelical churches, while they have knowledge of the pure truth of the gospel, yet endeavor to unite with pure religion. Verily, to serve God and sin at the same time is as radical an apostasy from true religion as ever the errors of the Samaritans were.
2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 17:6. [בשׁנת התשׁיעית The stat. const., is used in such cases, where only the second word has the article, in order to form a closer connection between the words. Ew. § 287a. 1.
2 Kings 17:13; 2 Kings 17:13.—[On the hifil form ויעד cf. וַיָּסַר, Genesis 8:13; Gesen. § 72. 7.—W. G. S.]
2 Kings 17:13; 2 Kings 17:13.—The keri נביא for the chetib נביאו is in so far correct that the ו belongs to the following word, כל, as a copula, and there is no sufficient reason why נביא should have the possessive pronoun and חזה not. The keri is followed by the Vulg. and the Syr. and Arab. versions, and is presented by several codices. Maurer and Keil prefer the chetib, but do not offer satisfactory reasons for it.—Bähr.[Ew. § 156 e. note 2, says that, if the chetib is to be kept, then חזֶֹה is a noun = oracle.
2 Kings 17:21; 2 Kings 17:21.—[The chetib, וַיַּדֵּא, is hifil from נדא, or, by an interchange of consonants which is frequent in books later than the Pentateuch, נדה. The form does not occur elsewhere from either of those stems. The keri proposes וַיַּדַּח, hif. of נדח. The signification is the same, repel, remove, or seduce (Deuteronomy 13:14; Proverbs 7:21).
2 Kings 17:22; 2 Kings 17:22.—[The fem. suff. in ממנה refers to the plural חטאות. Abstracts are expressed by the plur. or by the fem., and sometimes, where the words are far separated, such an interchange of the one for the other, in relative words, takes place. Cf. Job 39:15; Job 14:19; 2 Kings 3:8; 2 Kings 10:26. Ew. § 317 a.
2 Kings 17:28; 2 Kings 17:28.—[Imperf. in an indirect question referring to something which at a past time was regarded as not to come to pass.—W. G. S.]
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Kings 17". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13