2 Kings Chapter 17

Israel had a king named Pekah, who began his rule while Azariah was king in Judah. Shortly after Pekah became king, Jotham began to rule in Judah. This lasted well over a decade, when Jotham died and Ahaz became king of Judah. Then, a man named Hoshea conspired against Pekah, killed him, and became the king of Israel. This chapter begins at this point in the history of Israel.

1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him.

Ahaz had ruled in Judah for twelve years, when Hoshea became king of Israel. He only ruled for nine years. He was not a righteous leaders, but ruled in ways that went against the ways of the Lord. However, he was not as bad as some who had been kings before him.

3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.
4 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.

The Assyrians came against Israel, led by Shalmaneser. Hoshea allowed Israel to become servants to the Assyrians, and paid tribute to their king. Shalmaneser found out that Hoshea had sent messengers to Egypt, but had not brought tribute to him in Assyria as he had done each year, so Shalmaneser had Hoshea captured and put in prison.

5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.
6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

Shalmaneser went throughout Israel and besieged the capital of Samaria for three years. Then, he captured it and carried the people of Samaria into Assyria, to places like Halah, Habor and the cities of the Medes.

7 For so it was, that 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,
8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
9 And 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.
10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:
11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger:
12 For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.

The Israelites had sinned against God, even though He had saved them from the Egyptians. They chose to fear other gods, such as Baal, before they feared the Lord, becoming like those other nations who had been in the promised land before they lived there. The nations that their ancestors had worked hard to destroy from out of the land, under the direction of God. The Israelite people had done much wickedness in secret, and had built temples in each city, where they made sacrifices and offerings to their made-up gods. They built idols to worship and placed them all through the land. The Lord had commanded the Israelites not to do these wicked, idolatrous things.

13 Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, 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.
14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God.
15 And 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.
16 And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.
17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.

Many prophets and seers were raised in Israel, to testify the word of the Lord against them and against Judah. The Isarelites were called to repent and return to following the commandments of God. The people would not hearken to the prophets, and they rejected them. They would not believe their words, and many generations in turn, refused to turn away from wickedness. They became a vain people, following after the traditions of the other nations around them. The Israelites made idols to worship Baal, including two calves in one high place. They had done this, so that it was convenient for people, who were far away from the temple, to worship often. There they built a grove or a place to worship where many acts of evil were committed in the name of Baal. This included the act of sacrificing their own children. They also used divination and enchantments. All these things caused the Lord to be provoked to anger against them. Because of these things, the Lord had them removed from the land of promise, leaving only the tribe of Judah. This was the main part of the scattering of the ten tribes of Israel.

19 Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.
20 And 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.
21 For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin.
22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them;
23 Until 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.

Ahaz ruled in great wickedness, and when he died, his son, Hezekiah, became ruler of Judah. The people of Judah were then a wicked people, who created their own laws to live by. As a result, the Lord rejected them along with Israel. Over the course of time, and because they had allowed the influence of evil to cause them to walk in sin, the Israelite nation was left to the hands of enemy nations, and God allowed them, specifically the ten tribes, to be carried captive into Assyria.

24 And 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, and dwelt in the cities thereof.
25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them.
26 Wherefore 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.
27 Then 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.
28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the Lord.

The Assyrian king placed men from several foreign cities, in Samaria and the land of the Isarelites. As a side note, I have studied some of the practices of ancient times and one of them was to take a conquered people and remove them from their own land to an unknown place. When the kings did this, some believed it would cause the people to become more loyal to them, since they would not have any comforts or anything familiar to fall back on. They would need to rely on the government to know what to do in their new life. This act would also lower the chances for rebellion, because a conquered people were not left to gather together and rise up against an unwanted leader. So, the Assyrian king removed the Israelites from their familiar lands and from the common society and they became servants of a new land and king. Then, the king took others from different places and put them together in Samaria, creating a new society of people who were more likely to be loyal to him and easier to manage or control.

The foreigners were not a god-fearing people, and were not acceptable to the Lord, so He sent lions into the land and some of the men were killed. The people told the king that those who were there did not know the ways of the God of the land, so they were being killed by lions. The king commanded that an Israelite priest be returned to Israel, or Samaria, to live there and teach the people about the Lord. They did as he commanded, and the priest lived in Beth-el.

29 Howbeit 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.
30 And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,
31 And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.
32 So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.
33 They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.
34 Unto this day they 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;
35 With whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:
36 But 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.
37 And 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.
38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.
39 But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.
40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.
41 So these nations 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.

Nevertheless, these people were from many nations who had their own gods, so they used the high places to worship their gods. Each group of people followed after their own traditions of worship, even including human sacrifices. They learned to fear the Lord as well, but they did not worship Him alone, much like the people who had already been carried away from the land. Their manner of worship and their lifestyles became a mixture of all types and continued from generation to generation in a land where the Lord had made covenants with the people of Israel. They lived according to their own interpretations of what God wanted, and therefore were never fully committed to following the Lord. The Lord has given men strict commandments in order to provide safety and assurance of greater blessings to come. When we pick and choose which commandments we will keep, or begin to put our own interpretations into those commandments, we forfeit that safety and assurance in favor of our own wisdom and the consequences will follow.

Sadly, the people of the Lord had forgotten Him and turned to false gods and unholy acts in the name of those gods. Nonetheless, the Lord had not forgotten them and had given them chances time and time again, to repent and return to righteousness. They did not, and so the Lord allowed them to deal with the consequences of their choices. The ten tribes of Israel were scattered among foreign lands and another people were placed in the land that had been promised to the faithful people of the Lord. We are also given the opportunity to be the Lord’s people. Those who are faithful today, can receive promises of God by making covenants, just as the Israelites had done. If we have made covenants with God, we have a need to remember Him. We will face the same challenges of the temptation towards idolatry in our own lives, though we may not recognize the things we choose as gods. Anytime we willfully turn from the Lord in an effort to worship something else, or raise something else to a place above the Lord, we are in fact doing what the Israelites did in ancient times. The adversary knows this and is working hard to draw us away with all types of distractions and temptations. If we can remember the Lord, especially when faced with temptation, we will be blessed beyond anything we can imagine. If we make choices to turn from the Lord, without repentance, we will deal with the consequences of our choices, and be scattered. To keep the Lord in our remembrance, the modern prophets and apostles have taught us that we need to pray, study the scriptures, repent, attend church and partake of the sacrament to renew our covenants with the Lord, and serve those in need. I am so grateful for the blessings of remembrance. I know that if we have a remembrance of the Lord and the things that He has done for us, especially that of the Atonement, we will not be put in bondage and scattered like the Israelites, but will have freedom and the blessings of eternity.

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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