and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead; of whom much is said in the following part of this history.
INTRODUCTION TO 2 Kings 17
This chapter relates the captivity of the ten tribes of Israel, and how it came about, 2 Kings 17:1, the cause of it, their idolatry, which they persisted in, notwithstanding the remonstrances made against it, 2 Kings 17:7, in whose stead were placed people from different parts, who exercised a mixed religion, partly Heathenish, and partly Israelitish, 2 Kings 17:24.
(r) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 22.
(s) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 22. (t) T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 88. Kimchi in loc. (u) Seder Olam Raba, ut supra. (c. 22.)
and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents, to depart from him; he became tributary to him, and agreed to pay him a yearly tax.
(w) Antiqu. l. 9. c. 14. sect. 2.((x) De Judicio Temp. fol. 221. 2.
for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt; to treat with him, and enter into alliance with him, to help him against, and free him from, the king of Assyria. This king of Egypt is supposed to be Sabacon the Ethiopian, who reigned in Egypt ninety years; of whom Herodotus (y) and Diodorus Siculus (z) make mention; by Theodoret he is called Adramelech the Ethiopian, who dwelt in Egypt:
and brought no presents to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year; did not pay him his yearly tribute:
therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison; that is, after he took Samaria, the siege of which is next related; unless it can be thought that he met with him somewhere out of the capital, and seized him, and made him his prisoner, and after that besieged his city; which is not so likely.
(y) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 137. (z) Bibliothec l. 1. p. 59.
and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years; so long the city held out against him, see 2 Kings 18:9.
and carried Israel away into Assyria; not only the inhabitants of Samaria, but all the ten tribes inhabiting the several parts of the kingdom, for which Josephus is express (a).
and placed them in Halah, and in Habor, by the river of Gozan; some of them he placed here, which were in Assyria. Halah is the Calachena of Ptolemy, at the north of Assyria, and Habor is the mount Chobaras of the same; from which mountain, as you go to the Caspian sea, about midway, is the city Gauzania, the same with Gozan, which might give name to this river (b). The Jews say (c), this is the river Sambation, which runs so swiftly, that there is no passing except on the sabbath day; and which then the Jews cannot pass because of the profanation of the sabbath; and is the reason they give why the ten tribes are there detained; and Manasseh ben Israel (d) fancies Habor to be Tabor, a province in Tartary, where some Jews are:
and in the cities of the Medes; others of them he placed there, under his jurisdiction, the same with Hara, 1 Chronicles 5:26, which with the Greeks is called Aria; and Herodotus says (e), these Medes formerly were called by all Arii. It appears from hence that the kingdom of Media was now subject to the king of Assyria: some (f) take Halach to be Colchi, and Habor to be Iberia, and Hara to be Armenia, and Gauzani to be Media, which all bounded the north of Assyria.
(a) Antiqu. l. 9. c. 10. sect. 1.((b) Vid. Witsium de 10 Trib. Israel. c. 4. sect. 2.((c) Rambam apud Eliam in Tishbi, p. 134. (d) Spes Israelis, sect. 17. p. 55. (e) Polymnia, sive, l. 7. c. 60. So Pausanias Corinthiac. sive, l. 2. p. 91. Vid. Vossium in Melam, de Situ Orbis, l. 1. c. 2. p. 13. (f) See Bierwood's Inquiries, p. 104.
which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; which is observed to show their ingratitude, and to aggravate their sin of idolatry:
and had feared other gods; which could do them neither good nor hurt, wherefore it must be great stupidity to fear them.
and of the kings of Israel, which they had made; their laws and statutes, to worship the golden calves, and not go up to Jerusalem to worship.
and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city; not content with those built in former times, they built new ones; and these not in their metropolis only, but in all the cities of the kingdom; and not in large cities only, but in every town and village between one fortified city and another; even wherever there was a watch tower erected, either for shepherds to watch their flocks, or for keepers of gardens, orchards, and vineyards, to watch the fruits of them, that they were not taken away.
(g) "occultaverunt", Montanus, Vatablus, Grotius; "palliaverunt", Piscator.
(h) Agreement of Customs between the East Indians and Jews, art. 5. p. 34.
as did the Heathen whom the Lord carried away before them: the Canaanites, and therefore they might justly expect to be carried captive also:
and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger: by their several immoralities, but especially their idolatries.
whereof the Lord said unto them, ye shall not do this thing; see Exodus 20:3.
(i) Vid. Macrob. l. 1. c. 7. Lactant. de fals. Relig. l. 1. c. 20.
saying, turn ye from your ways; repent of them, and reform from them, worship of the calves particularly:
and keep my commandments, and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers; which was given them and enjoined them at Mount Sinai:
and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets; by whom he put them in mind of them, explained them, and urged obedience to them.
but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God: as Terah and Nahor, who were idolaters; or rather, their fathers in the wilderness, that made and served the calf, and those that rebelled against Moses and Aaron; it is a metaphor taken from oxen, that will not submit their necks to the yoke, but draw back from it, or cast it off, see Acts 7:51.
and his testimonies which he testified against them; calling heaven and earth to witness what he would do to them if they broke his laws, Deuteronomy 4:26, and which were so many testifications of his mind and will what they should do, or otherwise what should be done to them; Ben Gersom also interprets this of the feasts of the passover and tabernacles, which were witnesses of Israel's coming out of Egypt, and of the sanctification and redemption of the firstborn, a testimony of the slaying the firstborn in Egypt:
and they followed vanity; idols, which are vain things for help, can neither hear, see, speak, &c.
and became vain; as sottish and stupid as the idols they worshipped; which is the usual fruit and effect of idolatry, see Romans 1:21.
and went after the heathen that were round about them: imitated them in their idolatrous practices, as the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, &c. concerning
whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them; of this charge see Deuteronomy 6:13.
and made them molten images, even two calves; which they set up at Dan and Bethel, in the times of their first king Jeroboam, 1 Kings 13:28.
and made a grove; as Ahab, another of their kings, did, 1 Kings 16:33.
and worshipped all the host of heaven: not the angels, sometimes so called, but, besides the sun and moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Venus:
and served Baal; which was service to the sun, as Abarbinel interprets it; this was the god of the Zidonians Ahab worshipped, having married a princess of that people, 1 Kings 16:31.
and used divination and enchantments: to get knowledge of what was to be done at present, or of things to come, neglecting the word of God and his prophets, and acting against the express law of God, Deuteronomy 18:10.
and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger; as Ahab their king did, see 1 Kings 21:20, they were as much the servants of sin as if they had sold themselves to be slaves to it.
and removed them out of his sight; not out of the reach of his all seeing eye, but from all tokens of his favour, from the good land he had given them, and all the benefits and privileges of it:
there was none left but the tribe of Judah only; and part of Benjamin, which was annexed to it, and incorporated in it, and made one kingdom, and maintained the same worship; and there was the lot of Simeon, which was within the tribe of Judah; and the priests and the Levites, and various individuals of the several tribes, that came and settled among them for the sake of worship; but no perfect, distinct, tribe besides.
but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made; worshipping the calves as they did, particularly in the times of Ahaz, he setting the example, see 2 Kings 16:3.
and afflicted them; as he did before he utterly cast them off, as by famine, drought, and pestilence, Amos 4:6.
and delivered them into the hands of spoilers; as, first, into the hands of Hazael and Benhadad, kings of Syria, and then of Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, 2 Kings 13:3,
until he had cast them out of his sight; by suffering them, as now, to be carried captive by Shalmaneser, 2 Kings 17:6.
and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king; of themselves, without consulting the Lord and his prophets; and which was resented by him, though it was his will, and he had foretold it, that Jeroboam should be king, see Hosea 8:4.
and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the Lord; forbidding them to go up to Jerusalem to worship; the Targum is,
"made them to err:"
and made them sin a great sin; obliging them to worship the calves he set up.
they departed not from them: in all succeeding reigns, until the time of their captivity.
as he had said by all his servants the prophets; by Hosea, Amos, Micah, and others; see their prophecies, and also 1 Kings 13:32,
so was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria, unto this day; the time of the writing this book; nor have they returned unto our days, nearly 2,800 years later.
and from Cuthah; which, according to Josephus (k), was a city in Persia, where was a river of the same name; but it was rather a place in Erech, in the country of Babylon; see Gill on Genesis 10:10,
and from Ava; the same with Ivah, Isaiah 37:13, where perhaps a colony of the Avim had settled, Deuteronomy 2:23.
and from Hamath; a city of Syria, which lay on the northern borders of the land of Canaan, Numbers 34:8
and from Sepharvaim; thought by some to be the Sippara of Ptolemy, or the Sippareni of Abydenus, in Mesopotamia; though Vitringa takes it to be a city in Syro-Phoenicia; see Gill on Isaiah 36:19,
and placed them in the cities of Samaria, instead of the children of Israel; not in Samaria, which was now destroyed, according to the prophecy in Micah 1:6 as Abarbinel and other Jewish writers note:
and they possessed Samaria; as an inheritance; sowed it with corn, and planted vineyards there:
and dwelt in the cities thereof; in the several parts of the kingdom.
(k) Antiqu. l. 9. c. 14. sect. 1.
therefore the Lord sent lions among them; even into their cities, into which lions sometimes came (l), especially when old, out of the thickets of Jordan and other places where they haunted, see Jeremiah 49:19.
which slew some of them; this the Lord did to assert his sovereignty, authority, and mighty power, and to let them know that he could as easily clear the land of them, as they, by his permission, had cleared the land of the Israelites, Josephus (m) calls this a plague that was sent among them.
(l) Aristot. Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 44. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 16. (m) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 9. c. 14. sect. 1.)
saying, the nations which thou hast removed; from different places before mentioned:
and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land; taking Jehovah the God of Israel to be a topical deity, limited peculiarly to the land of Israel, whereas he was the God of the whole earth; a like notion obtained among the Syrians, see 1 Kings 20:28 now they say they know not his "manner" or "judgment" (n), the laws, statutes, ordinances, and judgments, according to which he was worshipped by the people of Israel:
therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them; they perceived it was not a common case, nor could they impute it to any second cause, as want of food with the lions, &c. but the hand of a superior Being was in it: and they could think of no other reason, but
because they know not the manner of the God of the land; how he was to be worshipped; and because they did not worship him, and knew not how to do it, it was resented in this manner by him.
(n) "judicium", Pagninus, Montanus, &c.
carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; for they carried away all the people of every class, civil and religious:
and let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land; it is in the plural number, "let them go", &c. (o); there might be more priests than one ordered, or, however, others, to attend and assist him in his work; the Jews say (p), two were sent to circumcise them, and teach them the book of the law; and they give their names, Dosthai, or Dosithaeus, and Zachariah; and Josephus (q) says, the people desired that priests might be sent to them of the captives.
(o) "eant et sedeant", Montanus. (p) Pirke Eliezer, c. 38. (q) Antiqu. l. 9. c. 14. sect. 3.
and taught them how they should fear the Lord; serve and worship him; he might not teach them the worship of the calves, that being a political business, and now no end to be answered by it; and besides, they were now carried out of the land. This priest taught, no doubt, according to the law of Moses, but was not the author of the Pentateuch; which ridiculous conceit of Le Clerc is sufficiently exposed by Witsius (t).
(r) Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. Dyn. 3. p. 65. (s) Contr. Haeres. l. 1. Haer. 8. (t) Miscellan. tom. 1. l. 1. c. 14. sect. 7. 28.
and the men of Cuth made Nergal; which, according to the Jews, was in the likeness of a cock; but others, because the first part of the word signifies a lamp, suppose fire is meant, worshipped by the Persians, from whom it is thought these men came; but rather the word signifies, as Hillerus (y) observes, the fountain of light, and denotes the sun, worshipped by the Babylonians, Cuth being a province of theirs; from hence one of the princes of Babylon had part of his name, Jeremiah 39:3.
and the men of Hamath made Ashima; which, the Jews say, was in the form of a goat, without any wool on it, or an ape (z); but according to Hillerus (a), with the Arabs, Ashima is the name of a lion, a symbol of the sun, under which form it might be worshipped; unless Ashima is the same with Shamaim, the heavens, worshipped by the Heathens; we read of the Ashemath of Samaria, by which they swore, Amos 8:14, though that was before these men came thither.
(u) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 63. 2.((w) Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 199. (x) L. 2. c. 6. sect. 15. (y) Onomastic. Sacr. p. 601. (z) David de Pomis Lexic. fol. 17. 2.((a) Onomast. Sacr. p. 609.
and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and to Anammelech the gods of Sepharvaim; which were the same with Moloch; which may be concluded, partly from the worship paid them, and partly from the signification of their names; both end with "melech", king, which Moloch also signifies; the first may be interpreted the mighty king, and the latter the king that answers in an oracular way; from the first, one of the sons of Sennacherib king of Assyria had his name, Isaiah 37:36, though the Jews, according to their fancy, represent the one in the likeness of a mule, and the other in the likeness of a horse; and some make the one to be a peacock, and the other a pheasant (e); the Septuagint version puts the article before them in the feminine gender, excepting the two last, taking them for she deities, or leaving the word "images", to be understood.
(b) Aeneid. l. 6. So Ovid. Metamorph. l. 9. Fab. 12. ver. 689. (c) Jablonski apud Michael. Obs. Sacr. Exercit. 4. p. 66, 67. (d) Ut supra, (Onomast. Sacr.) p. 859. (e) Vid. Kimchium in loc.
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; these were made after the manner of Jeroboam's priests, 1 Kings 12:31, and were to sacrifice to the God of Israel in the high places, and temples built there; for otherwise they had, no doubt, priests of their own to sacrifice to their gods, and which they brought with them.
after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence; the Israelites, whom they had carried captive from Samaria; they worshipped the Lord in their idols, as they did, who pretended to worship God in the calves; so they worshipped the supreme God in and by their idols, and made use of them as mediators with him.
they fear not the Lord; did not worship him, at least not alone, and much less in a spiritual manner, with reverence and godly fear:
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; that is, they did not observe the statutes and ordinances of the law given on Mount Sinai respecting religious worship, to act according to them.
and charged them, saying, ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them; all which is contained in the first and second commandments of the law.
him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice: and him only, and not other gods; none but he being the object of religious fear and divine worship, and to whom sacrifices should be offered.
ye shall observe to do for evermore; those commands relating to religious worship, especially the object of it, and to moral duties, being of eternal obligation; and all other statutes and ordinances of a ceremonial kind he ordered to be written for them, being such that they were to regard until the Messiah came, and a new world began:
and ye shall not fear other gods; which is repeated, that it might be observed, as it also afterwards is.
neither shall ye fear other gods; or make them the object of worship.
and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies; that is, provided they feared and served him as he required, and it became them to do.