Study Notes

2Kings 17:1-41


The northern kingdom of Israel has consistently shown that they had no heart for the Lord. And although God is merciful and longsuffering, He does judge sin. This will be the last chapter to discuss the kings of Israel, since their sin will be finally judged, and they will cease to exist.

17:1-2 Another Evil King For Israel

The former kings of Israel were certainly a hard act to follow when it came to wickedness. Ho-SHAY-ah, the son of Ay-LAW became king, and did evil, but nothing compared to his predecessors.

17:3-6 Hoshea's Conspiracy, Shalmaneser's Attack

Shal-man-EH-ser was the king of Assyria at this time in history, coming after Tig-LATH pil-EH-ser (or Pul). He conquered the northern kingdom, and King Ho-SHAY-ah was put in subjection to the Assyrian king. Heavy taxes were levied against his kingdom.

But Ho-SHAY-ah had secretly sent to So, the Pharaoh of Egypt, for military assistance. He must have felt very confident that the Egyptians would rally to their side, for he did not send the tribute money that year. But his confidence was broken when he was captured and put in prison.

Shal-man-EH-ser then invaded the northern kingdom and besieged Samaria. The people of the kingdom of Israel were carried away to Khal-AKH, Khaw-BORE, on the river Go-ZAWN, and the cities of the Medes.

Hosea the prophet had warned of this very happening. He wrote,

Hosea 7:10-13 Though the pride of Israel testifies against him, yet they have neither returned to the LORD their God, nor have they sought Him, for all this. So Ephraim has become like a silly dove, without sense; They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. When they go, I will spread My net over them; I will bring them down like the birds of the sky. I will chastise them in accordance with the proclamation to their assembly. Woe to them, for they have strayed from Me! Destruction is theirs, for they have rebelled against Me! ...

The year was 722 BC. The prophet's words came true, and the apostate northern kingdom of Israel disappeared into the Assyrian captivity.

17:7-12 Israel's Sins

Israel's sins had been numerous. They had forgotten where God had taken them from, and forgotten why He drove out the nations from the land of Canaan. They had turned away from the Lord, and followed after idolatry. This was not just a few people in a few places - it had permeated the culture. Idols were as numerous as televisions in our society. No matter how big or small the population was - whether it was a city or simply a watchtower, there were idols being worshiped.

17:13-14 God's Warning

God didn't just have a bad day and smite them all. He was longsuffering - warning them over and over. He used the prophets to say continually, "Get back to the Bible, obey the Lord."

But they didn't listen. It says that they "stiffened their necks." This term refers to horses that won't turn when the reins are pulled in one direction or another. Refusing to obey, they stubbornly stiffen their necks.

17:15-17 Leaving The Word For Vanity And Idols

"They followed vanity and became vain." The terms "vanity" and "vain" mean "vapor" or "emptiness." They worshipped their idols, and became just like them - empty, hollow, vain. The Psalmist wrote,

Ps. 115:4-8 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man's hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; They have eyes, but they cannot see; They have ears, but they cannot hear; They have noses, but they cannot smell; They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat. Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them.

They became like their false gods, because they refused to obey the true and living God. They had disregarded the Lord's command and instead imitated the nations around them.

Many of you parents of teenagers know some of the frustration God must have been experiencing. No matter how many times we let teens know, "I've been there. I remember how important fitting in feels. To be wearing the right fashions, to be cool instead of a nerd, to belong. But it's just chasing the wind, it's vanity. When you get out of high school, those things won't matter, those people will be gone, and then what are you left with? Wasted years, a lot of regrets, and an education that wasn't as good as it could have been."

The Israelites were chasing the wind, following vanity. And instead of listening to the Lord's warning, they tumbled headlong into horrible practices - idolatry, immorality, witchcraft, even sacrificing their babies.

17:18-23 None Was Left

They had provoked the Lord to anger, after having had tons of chances to repent. Finally, God judged - they were carried away to the Assyrian captivity. Only Judah was left, and even they weren't walking righteously.

17:24 Out With The Old, In With The New

The practice of the ancient cultures was to conquer an area, remove the inhabitants, and replace them with their own citizens. This was beneficial to the conquerors in two ways. First, the people who were taken away and settled into other lands would lose their culture over time - their language, culture, and practices would be forgotten, thus, there would be no organized opposition to take the land back.

Secondly, the new inhabitants' occupation of the area would solidify their hold on the territory.

And so the king of Assyria, after carting off the Jews of the northern kingdom, brought in men from Babylon, from Koo-THAW, Av-VAW, Kham-AWTH, and Sef-ar-VAH-yim, who settled in the area of Samaria.

17:25-28 New Inhabitants Killed By Lions

The new inhabitants were of the Assyrian kingdom - idolaters, and the Lord brought judgment upon them by using lions to kill them.

The people recognized that this was a judgment of God, and informed Shal-man-EH-ser. His solution was to find one of the Jewish priests that had been exiled, bring him back, and have him instruct the people in "the custom of the god of the land." Remember that the pagans only believed in territorial gods, not in one supreme creator god. They thought that there were many gods, and that each had power over a certain area. You recall in 1Kings 20 that when the Arameans were defeated by Israel, they said,

1Kgs. 20:23 ..."Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we; but rather let us fight against them in the plain, {and} surely we shall be stronger than they."

So the Assyrians thought that they just needed to appease the god of the area of Samaria. They did so by bringing in a Jewish priest. He lived at Bayth-AL and taught them.

17:29-31 The False Deities Of The Assyrians

Even though they were receiving instruction regarding the Lord, they did not repent of their sin. They still worshiped their idols in the high places. Their idols were abominable.

The men from Babylon worshiped Sook-KOHTH Ben-OHTH. This god's name means "booths of the daughters," referring to the tents of the prostitutes.

The men of Cuth worshiped Nare-GAL, whose name means "hero."

The people of Kham-AWTH made the idol Ash-ee-MAW, which means, "guiltiness: I will make desolate."

The Avvites made the dog-god Nib-KHAZ, which means"the barker," as well as a donkey named Tar-TAWK, meaning "the prince of darkness."

The Sef-ar-VITES offered their children as human sacrifices to Ad-ram-MEH-lek and An-am-MEH-lek, the gods of the sun, one male, one female.

These are still the gods that people are bowing down to today. There are those who serve sex, those who have their heroes, those whose guilt makes their lives desolate. There are even animal worshippers and sun worshippers permeating our society.

17:32-41 Fearing The Lord, Serving Idols

Even while they worshiped their false gods, they had a knowledge of God. They feared the Lord, but continued to practice their sin. In churches today, there are those that believe they fear god, but still are slaves to sex, hero-worship, animal worship, and sun worship.

Let's not deceive ourselves. Like Jesus said,

Matt. 6:24 "No one can serve two masters..."

If we are to worship the Lord, we must remove the foreign gods, direct our whole heart to Him and serve Him alone (1Sam 7:3).

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