2 Kings 17
Israel Taken Captive
The Reign of Hoshea (ISRAEL)
Hoshea Becomes King of Israel (1-2)
Hoshea, the last king of Israel, began to reign after Pekah, seeking to preserve Israel by pledging allegiance to Assyria. He was not near the evil king as those before him but he did as all those previous kings by perpetuating the worship of Yahweh before the golden calves (1-2).
Israel Taken Captive (3-6)
After Tiglath-pileser died, the new king Shalmaneser attacked Samaria to assert Assyria's continued dominance over Israel and sought to have Hoshea pay a heavier tribute (3). King Hoshea refused and sought to build a coalition with So, king of Egypt. Hoshea's treachery was eventually discovered and Hoshea was arrested and imprisoned (4). Shalmaneser eventually came to Samaria and besieged the kingless city. For one full year and parts of two others (making up the three years), Israel waited for the allies Hoshea had made of the Egyptians for help but their help never arrived (5). Samaria fell and the people not only of Samaria but of Israel were carried away into exile to Assyria. They were made into colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and then were also repopulated in the cities of Medes (6). Israel descends into captivity and scattered to the winds only a few in number to return to the land.
The Explanation of Israel's Captivity (7-19)
The author of 2 Kings takes time to elaborate why, at long last, after such a great and powerful exodus from Egypt, after such a pinnacle of success under Kings David and Solomon and after such miraculous deliverance in battle on numerous occasions why, at long last, Israel was swept away into captivity (8).
a) they worshiped other gods (7)
b) they followed pagan worship customs
c) they followed Israel's false cult custom of worshiping Yahweh (8)
d) they secretly practiced certain immoral worship rites they sought to keep hidden from the outside world
e) they build shrines every where focusing worship on themselves (9)
f) they set up Asherah poles encouraging all sorts of immorality-driven worship (10)
g) they made every hilltop a place into an entertainment site and amused themselves by the worship of every god of the nations who had been in the land before them (11)
h) they worshiped what their hands could make despite being warned not to (12)
i) they graciously sent prophets from Yahweh calling them to turn from their ways but they were stubborn and refused to listen and believe in Yahweh
j) they rejected the covenant Yahweh had made with them and despised His warnings to return to that covenant (13-14)
k) they worshiped powerless idols and became powerless themselves
l) they followed the examples of the nations around them and refused to follow Yahweh's command to be different (15)
m) they rejected the worship instructions of Yahweh and made golden calves to worship Yahweh,
n) they not only erected the Asherah poles but practiced Baalism and imported the cult of Mesopotamia worshiping the demonic forces of heaven (16)
o) they sacrificed their own sons and daughters by fire to false gods
p) they practiced demonic black magic, replaced prophecy with fortunetelling, and gave into the art of sorcery and casting spells (17)
Because of this list, the Lord swept Israel away from His presence, and they were no more a nation, leaving only Judah as a lamp of Yahweh in the land (18).
But even Judah refused to obey and listen but followed Israel in many of its evil practices (19). In words almost too painful to read, the matter is brought to a heart-breaking close—Yahweh rejected and disowned Israel and punished them by giving them over to their enemies and, like Adam and Eve, banishing them from his presence, causing them to disinherit the land (20).
The Rejection of Israel (21-23)
The rejection of Israel happened in stages, not all at once. The author of 2 Kings rehearses those stages.
1) The Lord tore Israel away from the kingdom of David, Judah, and gave it to Jeroboam who introduced them to a false and evil way of worshiping Yahweh before two golden calves he had built. This false form of worship led Israel into all kinds of other evil (21-22).
2) The Lord then swept Israel away from his presence, disinherited them, and exiled them away from the promised land (23).
3) The Lord would then "cast off all the seed of Israel" (Jeremiah 31:37) which would include Judah, which the rest of 2 Kings will devote its attention to.
The Worship Customs of Samaria After the Exile (24-34)
After the king of Assyria removed the Israelites from Samaria and surrounding cities, he sent foreign colonists to repopulate the area. During the time of depopulation, prides of lions began to form, and as the new colonists came into the land to populate it, they did not revere God's purpose for the land, so Yahweh used the situation to gain their attention by allowing the lions to attack the new settlers He left unprotected, some of them getting killed. Eventually they wanted to know how the Israelites worshiped, hoping this was the cause for the lion plague (24-26).
While there would have been a remnant of Israelites left in the land, they would not have known much about the worship of Yahweh so the Assyrian king sent a priest to to live among them to teach them about the Israeli worship of Yahweh at the golden calves (27). One of those priests did return and went to Bethel to help the colonists out, but it is never defined whether he created another golden calf or used the one which was once there (28).
Of course, those settlers did worship Yahweh (32,33), but they also continued their polytheism and were determined to amuse themselves by worshiping the gods they were familiar with and devoted to. They were just like the Israelites and were not able to truly and fully worship Yahweh, obeying the instructions He had given to Jacob's descendants who He renamed Israel (29-34).
Yahweh Rehearses His Call to Worship (35-41)
Yahweh ends this chapter rehearsing his clear call to covenant worship and drives the point home—Israel's problem was a worship problem; she was disinherited because of her response to Yahweh's covenant to worship Him.
The Covenant of Worship
a) worship no other gods, nor bow before them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them (35)
b) worship only Yahweh, remembering His power to deliver from slavery (36)
c) be careful to listen and obey His instructions concerning worship (37)
d) do not to forget the covenant of worship Yahweh made (38)
e) worship only Yahweh as a “must" for only He is a God Who rescues (39)
However, the people of Israel would not listen to Him; they would not cease from their former practice of worshiping what amused them and satisfied their sensual appetites (40). The new colonists of the land eventually did the same thing; they worshiped their idols and taught their descendants to do the same thing (41). This whole book is devoted to chronicling the great difficulty all people have with being fully devoted to the worship of Yahweh, the very problem Jesus would come to help resolve.