Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, began Hoshea . . . to
reign--The statement in
may be reconciled with the present passage in the following manner:
Hoshea conspired against Pekah in the twentieth year of the latter,
which was the eighteenth of Jotham's reign. It was two years before
Hoshea was acknowledged king of Israel, that is, in the fourth of Ahaz,
and twentieth of Jotham. In the twelfth year of Ahaz his reign began to
be tranquil and prosperous [CALMET].
2. he did evil . . . but not as the kings of Israel--Unlike his
predecessors from the time of Jeroboam, he neither established the
rites of Baal, nor compelled the people to adhere to the symbolic
worship of the calves.
In these respects, Hoshea acted as became a constitutional king of
Israel. Yet, through the influence of the nineteen princes who had
swayed the scepter before him (all of whom had been zealous patrons of
idolatry, and many of whom had been also infamous for personal crimes),
the whole nation had become so completely demoralized that the
righteous judgment of an angry Providence impended over it.
3. Against him came up Shalmaneser--or Shalman
the same as the Sargon of Isaiah
Very recently the name of this Assyrian king has been traced on the
Ninevite monuments, as concerned in an expedition against a king of
Samaria, whose name, though mutilated, COLONEL
RAWLINSON reads as Hoshea.
4. found conspiracy in Hoshea--After having paid tribute for several
years, Hoshea, determined on throwing off the Assyrian yoke, withheld
the stipulated tribute. Shalmaneser, incensed at this rebellion,
proclaimed war against Israel. This was in the sixth year of Hoshea's
he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt--the Sabaco of the classic
historians, a famous Ethiopian who, for fifty years, occupied the
Egyptian throne, and through whose aid Hoshea hoped to resist the
threatened attack of the Assyrian conqueror. But Shalmaneser,
marching against [Hoshea], scoured the whole country of Israel,
besieged the capital Samaria, and carried the principal inhabitants
into captivity in his own land, having taken the king himself, and
imprisoned him for life. This ancient policy of transplanting a
conquered people into a foreign land, was founded on the idea that,
among a mixed multitude, differing in language and religion, they would
be kept in better subjection, and have less opportunity of combining
together to recover their independence.
6. carried Israel away--that is, the remaining tribes
and placed them, &c.--This passage GESENIUS
renders thus, omitting
the particle by, which is printed in italics to show it is not in
the original: "and placed them in Halah, and on the Chabor, a river of
Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes."
Halah--the same as Calah
(Ge 10:11, 12),
in the region of the Laycus or Zab river, about a day's journey from
the ruins of Nineveh.
Chabor--is a river, and it is remarkable that there is a river
rising in the central highlands of Assyria which retains this name
Khabour unchanged to the present day.
Gozan--("pasture") or Zozan, are the highlands of Assyria, which
afford pasturage. The region in which the Chabor and the Zab rise, and
through which they flow, is peculiarly of this character. The
Nestorians repair to it with their numerous flocks, spending the summer
on the banks or in the highlands of the Chabor or the Zab. Considering
the high authority we possess for regarding Gozan and Zozan as one
name, there can be no doubt that this is the Gozan referred to in this
cities of the Medes--"villages," according to the Syriac and
Vulgate versions, or "mountains," according to the Septuagint. The Medish inhabitants of Gozan, having revolted, had been destroyed by
the kings of Assyria, and nothing was more natural than that they
should wish to place in it an industrious people, like the captive
Israelites, while it was well suited to their pastoral life
7. For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned--There is here
given a very full and impressive vindication of the divine procedure in
punishing His highly privileged, but rebellious and apostate, people.
No wonder that amid so gross a perversion of the worship of the true
God, and the national propensity to do reverence to idols, the divine
patience was exhausted; and that the God whom they had forsaken
permitted them to go into captivity, that they might learn the
difference between His service and that of their despotic conquerors.
24-28. the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, etc.--This
was not Shalmaneser, but Esar-haddon
The places vacated by the captive Israelites he ordered to be occupied
by several colonies of his own subjects from Babylon and other
from Cuthah--the Chaldee form of Cush or Susiana, now Khusistan.
Ava--supposed to be Ahivaz, situated on the river Karuns,
which empties into the head of the Persian Gulf.
Hamath--on the Orontes.
Sepharvaim--Siphara, a city on the Euphrates above Babylon.
placed them in the cities of Samaria, &c.--It must not be supposed
that the Israelites were universally removed to a man. A remnant was
left, chiefly however of the poor and lower classes, with whom these
foreign colonists mingled; so that the prevailing character of society
about Samaria was heathen, not Israelite. For the Assyrian colonists
became masters of the land; and, forming partial intermarriages with
the remnant Jews, the inhabitants became a mongrel race, no longer a
people of Ephraim
These people, imperfectly instructed in the creed of the Jews, acquired
also a mongrel doctrine. Being too few to replenish the land, lions, by
which the land had been infested
1Ki 13:24; 20:36;
multiplied and committed frequent ravages upon them. Recognizing in
these attacks a judgment from the God of the land, whom they had not
worshipped, they petitioned the Assyrian court to send them some Jewish
priests who might instruct them in the right way of serving Him. The
king, in compliance with their request, sent them one of the exiled
priests of Israel
who established his headquarters at Beth-el, and taught them how they
should fear the Lord. It is not said that he took a copy of the
Pentateuch with him, out of which he might teach them. Oral
teaching was much better fitted for the superstitious people than
instruction out of a written book. He could teach them more effectually
by word of mouth. Believing that he would adopt the best and simplest
method for them, it is unlikely that he took the written law with him,
and so gave origin to the Samaritan copy of the Pentateuch [DAVIDSON, Criticism]. Besides, it is evident from
his being one of the exiled priests, and from his settlement at
Beth-el, that he was not a Levite, but one of the calf-worshipping
priests. Consequently his instructions would be neither sound nor
29. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own--These Assyrian
colonists, however, though instructed in the worship, and acknowledging
the being of the God of Israel, did not suppose Him to be the only God.
Like other heathens, they combined His worship with that of their own
gods; and as they formed a promiscuous society from different nations
or provinces, a variety of idols was acknowledged among them.
30. Succoth-benoth--that is, the "tents" or "booths of the daughters,"
similar to those in which the Babylonian damsels celebrated impure
Nergal--The Jewish writers say this idol was in the form of a cock, and
it is certain that a cock is often associated with a priest on the
Assyrian monuments [LAYARD].
But modern critics, looking to the
astrological character of Assyrian idolatry, generally consider Nergal
as the planet Mars, the god of war. The name of this idol formed part
of the appellation of two of the king of Babylon's princes
Ashima--an idol under the form of an entirely bald he-goat.
31. Nibhaz--under that of a dog--that Egyptian form of animal-worship
having prevailed in ancient Syria, as is evident from the image of a
large dog at the mouth of the Nahr-el-Kelb, or Dog river.
Tartak--According to the rabbis, it was in the form of an ass, but
others understand it as a planet of ill-omen, probably Saturn.
Adrammelech--supposed by some to be the same as Molech, and in
Assyrian mythology to stand for the sun. It was worshipped in the form
of a mule--others maintain in that of a peacock.
Anammelech--worshipped in the form of a hare; others say in that of
34. Unto this day--the time of the Babylonian exile, when this book
was composed. Their religion was a strange medley or compound of the
service of God and the service of idols. Such was the first settlement
of the people, afterwards called Samaritans, who were sent from Assyria
to colonize the land, when the kingdom of Israel, after having
continued three hundred fifty-six years, was overthrown.