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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 17

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1In the twelfth year of King Ahaz of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king over Israel and he reigned in Samaria for nine years. 2He did what was wrong in the eyes of the LORD, but not as previous kings of Israel had done. 3King Shalmaneser of Assyria marched up against Hoshea, who had been tributary to him, 4but when the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was being disloyal to him, sending envoys to the king of Egypt at So a 17:4 to the … So: prob. rdg; Heb. to So king of Egypt. , and withholding the annual tribute which he had been paying, the king of Assyria seized and imprisoned him. 5He overran the whole country and, reaching Samaria, besieged it for three years. 6In the ninth year of Hoshea he captured Samaria and deported its people to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the towns of Media.

7All this came about because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God who brought them up from Egypt, from the despotic rule of Pharaoh king of Egypt; they paid homage to other gods 8and observed the laws and customs of the nations whom the LORD had dispossessed before them b 17:8 before them: so Syriac; Heb. adds and those of the kings of Israel which they practised. , 9and uttered blasphemies against the LORD their God; they built shrines for themselves in all their settlements, from watch-tower to fortified city; 10they set up for themselves sacred pillars and sacred poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree, 11and burnt offerings at all the shrines there, as the nations did whom the LORD had displaced before them. By this wickedness of theirs they provoked the LORD's anger. 12They worshipped idols, a thing which the LORD had forbidden them to do.

13Still the LORD solemnly charged Israel and Judah by every prophet and seer, saying, ‘Give up your evil ways; keep my commandments and statutes given in all the law which I enjoined on your forefathers and delivered to you through my servants the prophets.’ 14They would not listen, however, but were as stubborn and rebellious as their forefathers had been, for they too refused to put their trust in the LORD their God. 15They rejected his statutes and the covenant which he had made with their forefathers and the solemn warnings which he had given to them. Following worthless idols they became worthless themselves and imitated the nations round about them, which the LORD had forbidden them to do. 16Forsaking every commandment of the LORD their God, they made themselves images, two calves of cast metal, and also a sacred pole. They prostrated themselves to all the host of heaven and worshipped Baal; 17they made their sons and daughters pass through the fire. They practised augury and divination; they sold themselves to do what was wrong in the eyes of the LORD and so provoked his anger.

18Thus it was that the LORD was incensed against Israel and banished them from his presence; only the tribe of Judah was left. 19Even Judah did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God but followed the practices adopted by Israel; 20so the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel and punished them and gave them over to plunderers and finally flung them out from his presence. 21When he tore Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat king, and he seduced Israel from their allegiance to the LORD and led them into grave sin. 22The Israelites persisted in all the sins that Jeroboam had committed and did not give them up, 23until finally the LORD banished the Israelites from his presence, as he had threatened through all his servants the prophets, and they were deported from their own land to exile in Assyria; and there they are to this day.

24Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and settled them in the towns of Samaria in place of the Israelites; so they occupied Samaria and lived in its towns. 25In the early years of their settlement they did not pay homage to the LORD, so the LORD sent lions among them to prey on them. 26The king of Assyria was told that the deported peoples whom he had settled in the towns of Samaria did not know the established usage of the God of the country, and that he had sent lions among them which were preying on them because they did not know this. 27The king, therefore, gave orders that one of the priests taken captive from Samaria should be sent back to live there and teach the people the usage of the God of the country. 28So one of the deported priests came and lived at Bethel, and taught them how to worship the LORD.

29But each of the nations went on making its own god. They set them up in niches at the shrines which the Samaritans had made, each nation in its own settlements. 30Succoth-be-noth was worshipped by the men of Babylon, Nergal by the men of Cuth, Ashima by the men of Hamath, 31Nibhaz and Tartak by the Avvites; and the Sepharvites burnt their children as offerings to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32While still paying homage to the LORD, they appointed all sorts of people to act as priests of the shrines and they resorted to them there. 33They paid homage to the LORD, while at the same time they served their own gods, according to the custom of the nations from which they had been carried into exile.

34They keep up these old practices to this day; they do not pay homage to the LORD, for they do not keep his c 17:34 his: prob. rdg; Heb. their. statutes and his judgements, the law and commandment, which he enjoined on the descendants of Jacob whom he named Israel. 35When the LORD made a covenant with them, he gave them this commandment: ‘Do not pay homage to other gods or bow down to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, 36but pay homage to the LORD who brought you up from Egypt with great power and with outstretched arm; to him alone you are to bow down, to him alone you are to offer sacrifice. 37You must faithfully keep the statutes, the judgements, the law, and the commandments which he wrote for you; you must not pay homage to other gods. 38Do not forget the covenant which I made with you; do not pay homage to other gods. 39But to the LORD your God you are to pay homage; it is he who will preserve you from all your enemies.’ 40However, they would not listen but continued their former practices. 41While these nations paid homage to the LORD they continued to serve their images, and their children and their children's children have maintained the practice of their forefathers to this day.

Notes:

a 17:4 to the … So: prob. rdg; Heb. to So king of Egypt.

b 17:8 before them: so Syriac; Heb. adds and those of the kings of Israel which they practised.

c 17:34 his: prob. rdg; Heb. their.

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