Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 2 Kings 17:14
2 Kings 17. Hoshea, and Israel’s Exile (732 – 723 B.C.)
When Tiglath-pileser dies, Hoshea rebels against his son. A treaty is made with Egypt, and tribute withheld. This is foolish, for Egypt is in a particularly weakened state.
Shalmaneser V (727-722) does not hesitate, and returns with his armies. Hoshea crumbles. He rushes to meet the Assyrian with his tribute money. He is taken captive, and Israel is invaded. It takes three years (724-722_, but Samaria finally falls, and the history of Israel ends.
3 Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him; and Hoshea became his vassal, and paid him tribute money. 4 And the king of Assyria uncovered a conspiracy by Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and brought no tribute 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. 5 Now the king of Assyria went throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
Exile. Assyria’s policy is to take defeated people from their lands and resettle them. This is designed to shatter nationalistic feeling and prevent future rebellions. People from many nations are brought in to settle Israel’s vacated lands.
The 10 lost tribes. Israel’s exile has stimulated much speculation about the fate of the 10 “lost” tribes. Wild theories have suggested that the British, or the American Indians, are descended from these “lost” peoples. But the tribes are not lost! The original division of the land into two kingdoms saw many peoples from Israel move south to Judah. These were those who refuse to accept the false worship system instituted by Jeroboam I, and who came to Judah for the freedom to worship the Lord (1 Kings 12:27; cf. 2 Chron. 11:13-17). Thus representatives from all the family of Israel are included in the “two” tribes of Judah, and none of God’s people have been “lost.”
Some have suggested, because Assyrian records list only 27,290 deportees, that most of the Israelites stayed in the land. It is best to understand this number as those taken when Samaria fell, and to realize that the others would have been moved during the siege of the capital. The OT record itself seems to suggest that most if not all the Israelites were taken (cf. 2 Kings 17:20).
Historical impact. The people of Israel were replaced by others from a number of regions of the Assyrian empire
(17:24). These people brought their own gods and cults, but also added worship of Yahweh, who was viewed as a local deity who should be worshipped to avoid his displeasure. This thinking was typical of the time.
The imported peoples’ worship of God was always mixed with he worship of pagan deities as well (17:33). In NT
times their descendants are the familiar “Samaritans” of the Gospels, who were held in contempt by the Pharisees and other Orthodox Jews.
28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. 29 However every nation continued to make gods of its own, and put them in the shrines on the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities where they dwelt. 30 The men of Babylon made Succoth Benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of
Hamath made Ashima, 31 and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 So they feared the Lord, and from every class they appointed for themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. 33 They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods–according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away. 34 To this day they continue practicing the former rituals; they do not fear the Lord…
–> Thus chapter describes how Israel fell into captivity after God had emancipated them by taking them out of Egypt and explains the reasons for Israel’s judgment (17:7-23).
For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of
the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, 8 and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. 9 Also the children of Israel secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city. 10 They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. 11 There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the Lord had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger, 12 for they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.” 13 Yet the Lord testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn 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 Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them. 16 So they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17 And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, 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 from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone. 19 Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. 20 And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight. 21 For He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them commit a great sin. 22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, 23 until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.