2 Kings 17
This chapter gives us an account of the captivity of the ten tribes,
and so finishes the history of that kingdom, after it had continued
about 265 years, from the setting up of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. In
it we have,
I. A short narrative of this destruction,
2 Kings 17:1-6.
II. Remarks upon it, and the causes of it, for the justifying of God
in it and for warning to others,
2 Kings 17:7-23.
III. An account of the nations which succeeded them in the possession
of their land, and the mongrel religion set up among them,
2 Kings 17:24-41.
|Samaria Besieged by the Assyrians; Israel Subdued by Assyria.
||B. C. 730.|
1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the
son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD,
but not as the kings of Israel that were before him.
3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea
became his servant, and gave him presents.
4 And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he
had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present
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 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and
went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.
6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria,
and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah
and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the
We have here the reign and ruin of Hoshea, the last of the kings of
Israel, concerning whom observe,
I. That, though he forced his way to the crown by treason and murder
(as we read
2 Kings 15:30),
yet he gained not the possession of it till seven or eight years after;
for it was in the fourth year of Ahaz that he slew Pekah, but did not
himself begin to reign till the twelfth year of Ahaz,
2 Kings 17:1.
Whether by the king of Assyria, or by the king of Judah, or by some of
his own people, does not appear, but it seems so long he was kept out
of the throne he aimed at. Justly were his bad practices thus
chastised, and the word of the prophet was thus fulfilled
Now they shall say We have no king, because we feared not the
II. That, though he was bad, yet not so bad as the kings of Israel had
been before him
(2 Kings 17:2),
not so devoted to the calves as they had been. One of them (that at
Dan), the Jews say, had been, before this, carried away by the king of
Assyria in the expedition recorded
2 Kings 15:29,
(to which perhaps the prophet refers,
Thy calf, O Samaria! has cast thee off), which made him put the
less confidence in the other. And some say that this Hoshea took off
the embargo which the former kings had put their subjects under,
forbidding them to go up to Jerusalem to worship, which he permitted
those to do that had a mind to it. But what shall we think of this
dispensation of providence, that the destruction of the kingdom of
Israel should come in the reign of one of the best of its kings? Thy
judgments, O God! are a great deep. God would hereby show
that in bringing this ruin upon them he designed to punish,
1. Not only the sins of that generation, but of the foregoing ages, and
to reckon for the iniquities of their fathers, who had been long in
filing the measure and treasuring up wrath against this day of wrath.
2. Not only the sins of their kings, but the sins of the people. If
Hoshea was not so bad as the former kings, yet the people were as bad
as those that went before them, and it was an aggravation of their
badness, and brought ruin the sooner, that their king did not set them
so bad an example as the former kings had done, nor hinder them from
reforming; he gave them leave to do better, but they did as bad as
ever, which laid the blame of their sin and ruin wholly upon
III. That the destruction came gradually. They were for some time made
tributaries before they were made captives to the king of Assyria
(2 Kings 17:3),
and, if that less judgment had prevailed to humble and reform them, the
greater would have been prevented.
IV. That they brought it upon themselves by the indirect course they
took to shake off the yoke of the king of Assyria,
2 Kings 17:4.
Had the king and people of Israel applied to God, made their peace with
him and their prayers to him, they might have recovered their liberty,
ease, and honour; but they withheld their tribute, and trusted to the
king of Egypt to assist them in their revolt, which, if it had taken
effect, would have been but to change their oppressors. But Egypt
became to them the staff of a broken reed. This provoked the king of
Assyria to proceed against them with the more severity. Men get nothing
by struggling with the net, but entangle themselves the more.
V. That it was an utter destruction that came upon them.
1. The king of Israel was made a prisoner; he was shut up and bound,
being, it is probable, taken by surprise, before Samaria was besieged.
2. The land of Israel was made a prey. The army of the king of Assyria
came up throughout all the land, made themselves master of it
(2 Kings 17:5),
and treated the people as traitors to be punished with the sword of
justice rather than as fair enemies.
3. The royal city of Israel was besieged, and at length taken. Three
years it held out after the country was conquered, and no doubt a great
deal of misery was endured at that time which is not particularly
recorded; but the brevity of the story, and the passing of this matter
over lightly, methinks, intimate that they were abandoned of God and he
did not now regard the affliction of Israel, as sometimes as he had
4. The people of Israel were carried captives into Assyria,
2 Kings 17:6.
The generality of the people, those that were of any note, were forced
away into the conqueror's country, to be slaves and beggars there.
(1.) Thus he was pleased to exercise a dominion over them, and to show
that they were entirely at his disposal.
(2.) By depriving them of their possessions and estates, real and
personal, and exposing them to all the hardships and reproaches of a
removal to a strange country, under the power of an imperious army, he
chastised them for their rebellion and their endeavour to shake off his
(3.) Thus he effectually prevented all such attempts for the future and
secured their country to himself.
(4.) Thus he got the benefit of their service in his own country, as
Pharaoh did that of their fathers; and so this unworthy people were
lost as they were found, and ended as they began, in servitude and
(5.) Thus he made room for those of his own country that had little,
and little to do, at home, to settle in a good land, a land flowing
with milk and honey. In all these several ways he served himself by
this captivity of the ten tribes. We are here told in what places of
his kingdom he disposed of them--in Halah and Habor, in
places, we may suppose, far distant from each other, lest they should
keep up a correspondence, incorporate again, and become formidable.
There, we have reason to think, after some time they were so mingled
with the nations that they were lost, and the name of Israel was no
more in remembrance. Those that forgot God were themselves
forgotten; those that studied to be like the nations were buried among
them; and those that would not serve God in their own land were made to
serve their enemies in a strange land. It is probable that they were
the men of honour and estates who were carried captive, and that many
of the meaner sort of people were left behind, many of every tribe, who
either went over to Judah or became subject to the Assyrian colonies,
and their posterity were Galileans or Samaritans. But
thus ended Israel as a nation; now they became Lo-ammi--not a
people, and Lo-ruhamah--unpitied. Now Canaan spued them out.
When we read of their entry under Hoshea the son of Nun who would have
thought that such as this should be their exit under Hoshea the son of
Elah? Thus Rome's glory in Augustus sunk, many ages after, in
Augustulus. Providence so ordered the eclipsing of the honour of the
ten tribes that the honour of Judah (the royal tribe) and Levi (the
holy tribe), which yet remained, might shine the brighter. Yet we find
a number sealed of every one of the twelve tribes
except Dan. James writes to the twelve tribes scattered abroad
and Paul speaks of the twelve tribes which instantly served God day
so that though we never read of those that were carried captive, nor
have any reason to credit the conjecture of some (that they yet remain
a distinct body in some remote corner of the world), yet a remnant of
them did escape, to keep up the name of Israel, till it came to be worn
by the gospel church, the spiritual Israel, in which it will ever
|The Wickedness of Israel.
||B. C. 730.|
7 For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned
against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the
land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and
had feared other gods,
8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the LORD cast
out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of
Israel, which they had made.
9 And the children of Israel did secretly those things that
were not right against the LORD their God, and they built them
high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen
to the fenced city.
10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill,
and under every green tree:
11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as
did the heathen whom the LORD carried away before them; and
wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger:
12 For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them,
Ye shall not do this thing.
13 Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by
all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye 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 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their
necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in
the LORD their God.
15 And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he
made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified
against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went
after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom
the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.
16 And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God,
and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove,
and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.
17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass
through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold
themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to
18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed
them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah
19 Also Judah kept not the commandments of the LORD their God,
but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.
20 And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted
them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had
cast them out of his sight.
21 For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made
Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from
following the LORD, and made them sin a great sin.
22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of
Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them;
23 Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had
said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away
out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.
Though the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes was but briefly
related, it is in these verses largely commented upon by our historian,
and the reasons of it assigned, not taken from the second causes--the
weakness of Israel, their impolitic management, and the strength and
growing greatness of the Assyrian monarch (these things are
overlooked)--but only from the First Cause. Observe,
1. It was the Lord that removed Israel out of his sight; whoever
were the instruments, he was the author of this calamity. It was
destruction from the Almighty; the Assyrian was but the rod
of his anger,
It was the Lord that rejected the seed of Israel, else their
enemies could not have seized upon them,
2 Kings 17:20.
Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? Did not the
We lose the benefit of national judgments if we do not eye the hand of
God in them, and the fulfilling of the scripture, for that also is
taken notice of here
(2 Kings 17:23):
The Lord removed Israel out of his favour, and out of their own
land, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. Rather
shall heaven and earth pass than one tittle of God's word fall to the
ground. When God's word and his works are compared, it will be found
not only that they agree, but that they illustrate each other. But why
would God ruin a people that were raised and incorporated, as Israel
was, by miracles and oracles? Why would he undo that which he himself
had done at so vast an expense? Was it purely an act of sovereignty?
No, it was an act of necessary justice. For,
2. They provoked him to do this by their wickedness. Was it God's
doing? Nay, it was their own; by their way and their doings they
procured all this to themselves, and it was their own wickedness
that did correct them. This the sacred historian shows here at large,
that it might appear that God did them no wrong and that others might
hear and fear. Come and see what it was that did all this mischief,
that broke their power and laid their honour in the dust; it was sin;
that, and nothing else, separated between them and God. This is here
very movingly laid open as the cause of all the desolations of Israel.
He here shows,
I. What God had done for Israel, to engage them to serve him.
1. He gave them their liberty
(2 Kings 17:7):
He brought them from under the hand of Pharaoh who oppressed
them, asserted their freedom (Israel is my son), and effected
their freedom with a high hand. Thus they were bound in duty and
gratitude to be his servants, for he had loosed their bonds; nor would
he that rescued them out of the hand of the king of Egypt have
contradicted himself so far as to deliver them into the hand of the
king of Assyria, as he did, if they had not, by their iniquity,
betrayed their liberty and sold themselves.
2. He gave them their law, and was himself their king. They were
immediately under a divine regimen. They could not plead ignorance of
good and evil, sin and duty, for God had particularly charged them
against those very things which here he charges them with
(2 Kings 17:15),
That they should not do like the heathen. Nor could they be in
any doubt concerning their obligation to observe the laws which they
are here charged with rejecting, for they were the commandments and
statutes of the Lord their God
(2 Kings 17:13),
so that no room was left to dispute whether they should keep them or
no. He had not dealt so with other nations,
3. He gave them their land, for he cast out the heathen from
(2 Kings 17:8),
to make room for them; and the casting out of them for their idolatries
was as fair a warning as could be given to Israel not to do like
II. What they had done against God, notwithstanding these engagements
which he had laid upon them.
1. In general. They sinned against the Lord their God
(2 Kings 17:7),
they did those things that were not right
(2 Kings 17:9),
but secretly. So wedded were they to their evil practices that
when they could not do them publicly, could not for shame or could not
for fear, they would do them secretly--an evidence of their atheism,
that they thought what was done in secret was from under the eye of God
himself and would not be required. Again, they wrought wicked things in
such a direct contradiction to the divine law that they seemed as if
they were done on purpose to provoke the Lord to anger
(2 Kings 17:11),
in contempt of his authority and defiance of his justice. They
rejected God's statutes and his covenant
(2 Kings 17:15),
would not be bound up either by his command or the consent they
themselves had given to the covenant, but threw off the obligations of
both, and therefore God justly rejected them,
2 Kings 17:20.
They left all the commandments of the Lord their God
(2 Kings 17:16),
left the way, left the work, which those commandments prescribed them
and directed them in. Nay, lastly, they sold themselves to do evil
in the sight of the Lord, that is, they wholly addicted themselves
to sin, as slaves to the service of those to whom they are sold, and,
by their obstinately persisting in sin, so hardened their own hearts
that at length it had become morally impossible for them to recover
themselves, as one that has sold himself has put his liberty past
2. In particular. Though they were guilty (no doubt) of many
immoralities, and violated all the commands of the second table, yet
nothing is here specified, but their idolatry. This was the sin
that did most easily beset them; this was, of all sins, most provoking
to God: it was the spiritual adultery that broke the marriage-covenant,
and was the inlet of all other wickedness. Hence it is again and again
mentioned here as the sin that ruined them.
(1.) They feared other gods
(2 Kings 17:7),
that is, worshipped them and paid their homage to them, as if they
feared their displeasure.
(2.) They walked in the statutes of the heathen, which were
contrary to God's statutes
(2 Kings 17:8),
did as did the heathen
(2 Kings 17:11),
went after the heathen that were round about them
(2 Kings 17:15),
so prostituting the honour of their peculiarity, and defeating God's
design concerning them, which was that they should be distinguished
from the heathen. Must those that were taught of God go to school to
the heathen--those that were appropriated to God take their measures
from the nations that were abandoned by him?
(3.) They walked in the statutes of the idolatrous kings of
(2 Kings 17:8),
in all the sins of Jeroboam,
2 Kings 17:22.
When their kings assumed a power to alter and add to the divine
institutions they submitted to them, and thought the command of their
kings would bear them out in disobedience to the command of their God.
(4.) They built themselves high places in all their cities,
2 Kings 17:9.
If in any place there was but the tower of the watchmen (a country
tower that had no walls, but only a tower to shelter the watch in time
of danger), or but a lodge for shepherds, it must be honoured with a
high place, and that with an altar. If there was a fenced city, it must
be further fortified with a high place. Having forsaken God's only
place, they knew no end of high places, in which every man followed his
own fancy and directed his devotion to what god he pleased. Sacred
things were hereby profaned and laid common, when their altars were
as heaps in the furrows of the field,
(5.) They set them up images and groves--Asherim (even wooden
images, so some think the term, which we translate groves,
should be rendered) or Ashtaroth (so others)--directed contrary
to the second commandment,
2 Kings 17:10.
They served idols
(2 Kings 17:12),
the works of their own hands and creatures of their own fancy, though
God had warned them particularly not to do this thing.
(6.) They burnt incense in all the high places, to the honour of
strange gods, for it was to the dishonour of the true God,
2 Kings 17:11.
(7.) They followed vanity. Idols are called so, because they could do
neither good nor evil, but were the most insignificant things that
could be; those that worshipped them were like unto them, and so they
became vain and good for nothing
(2 Kings 17:16),
vain in their devotions, which were brutish and ridiculous, and so
became vain in their whole conversation.
(8.) Besides the molten images, even the two calves, they worshipped
all the host of heaven--the sun, moon, and stars: for it is not
meant of the heavenly host of angels; they could not rise so far above
sensible things as to think of them. And, withal, they served Baal, the
deified heroes of the Gentiles,
2 Kings 17:16.
(9.) They caused their children to pass through the fire, in
token of their dedicating them to their idols.
(10.) They used divinations and enchantments, that they might receive
directions from the gods to whom they paid their devotions.
III. What means God used with them, to bring them off from their
idolatries, and to how little purpose. He testified against them,
showed them their sins and warned them of the fatal consequences of
them by all the prophets and all the seers (for so the prophets
had been formerly called), and pressed them to turn from their evil
2 Kings 17:13.
We have read of prophets, more or less, in every reign. Though they had
forsaken God's family of priests, he did not leave them without a
succession of prophets, who made it their business to teach them the
good knowledge of the Lord, but all in vain
(2 Kings 17:14);
they would not hear, but hardened their necks, persisted in their
idolatries, and were like their fathers, that would not bow their necks
to God's yoke, because they did not believe in him, did not
receive his truths, nor would venture upon his promises: it seems to
refer to their fathers in the wilderness; the same sin that kept them
out of Canaan turned these out, and that was unbelief.
IV. How God punished them for their sins. He was very angry with
(2 Kings 17:18);
for, in the matter of his worship, he is a jealous God, and resents
nothing more deeply than giving that honour to any creature which is
due to himself only. He afflicted them
(2 Kings 17:20)
and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, in the days of the
judges and of Saul, and afterwards in the days of most of their kings,
to see if they would be awakened by the judgments of God to consider
and amend their ways; but, when all these corrections did not prevail
to drive out the folly, God first rent Israel from the house of
David, under which they might have been happy. As Judah was hereby
weakened, so Israel was hereby corrupted; for they made a man king who
drove them from following the Lord and caused them to sin a great
2 Kings 17:21.
This was a national judgment, and the punishment of their former
idolatries; and, at length, he removed them quite out of his
(2 Kings 17:18,23),
without giving them any hopes of a return out of their captivity.
Lastly, Here is a complaint against Judah in the midst of all
(2 Kings 17:19):
Also Judah kept not the commandments of God; though they were
not as yet quite so bad as Israel, yet they walked in the statutes
of Israel; and this aggravated the sin of Israel, that they
communicated the infection of it to Judah; see
Those that bring sin into a country or family bring a plague into it
and will have to answer for all the mischief that follows.
|The Samaritans' Idolatry.
||B. C. 720.|
24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from
Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and
placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of
Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities
25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there,
that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions
among them, which slew some of them.
26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The
nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of
Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he
hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because
they know not the manner of the God of the land.
27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither
one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go
and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of
28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from
Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should
fear the LORD.
29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them
in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made,
every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.
30 And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of
Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,
31 And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites
burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the
gods of Sepharvaim.
32 So they feared the LORD, 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.
33 They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the
manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.
34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear
not the LORD, 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;
35 With whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them,
saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them,
nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:
36 But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt
with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and
him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.
37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the
commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for
evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.
38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not
forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.
39 But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver
you out of the hand of all your enemies.
40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their
41 So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven
images, both their children, and their children's children: as
did their fathers, so do they unto this day.
Never was land lost, we say, for want of an heir. When the children of
Israel were dispossessed, and turned out of Canaan, the king of Assyria
soon transplanted thither the supernumeraries of his own country, such
as it could well spare, who should be servants to him and masters to
the Israelites that remained; and here we have an account of these new
inhabitants, whose story is related here that we may take our leave of
Samaria, as also of the Israelites that were carried captive into
I. Concerning the Assyrians that were brought into the land of Israel
we are here told,
1. That they possessed Samaria and dwelt in the cities thereof,
2 Kings 17:24.
It is common for lands to change their owners, but sad that the holy
land should become a heathen land again. See what work sin makes.
2. That at their first coming God sent lions among them. They
were probably insufficient to people the country, which occasioned
the beasts of the field to multiply against them
yet, besides the natural cause, there was a manifest hand of God in it,
who is Lord of hosts, of all the creatures, and can serve his own
purposes by which he pleases, small or great, lice or lions. God
ordered them this rough welcome to check their pride and insolence, and
to let them know that though they had conquered Israel the God of
Israel had power enough to deal with them--that he could have prevented
their settling here, by ordering lions into the service of Israel, and
that he permitted it, not for their righteousness, but the wickedness
of his own people--and that they were now under his visitation. They
had lived without God in their own land, and were not plagued with
lions; but, if they do so in this land, it is at their peril.
3. That they sent a remonstrance of this grievance to the king their
master, setting forth, it is likely, the loss their infant colony had
sustained by the lions and the continual fear they were in of them, and
stating that they looked upon it to be a judgment upon them for not
worshipping the God of the land, which they could not, because they
knew not how,
2 Kings 17:26.
The God of Israel was the God of the whole world, but they ignorantly
call him the God of the land, apprehending themselves therefore
within his reach, and concerned to be upon good terms with him. Herein
they shamed the Israelites, who were not so ready to hear the voice of
God's judgments as they were, and who had not served the God of that
land, though he was the God of their fathers and their great
benefactor, and though they were well instructed in the manner of his
worship. Assyrians begged to be taught that which Israelites hated to
4. That the king of Assyria took care to have them taught the manner
of the God of the land
(2 Kings 17:27,28),
not out of any affection to that God, but to save his subjects from the
lions. On this errand he sent back one of the priests whom he had
carried away captive. A prophet would have done them more good, for
this was but one of the priests of the calves, and therefore chose to
dwell at Bethel for old acquaintance' sake, and, though he might teach
them to do better than they did, he was not likely to teach them to do
well, unless he had taught his own people better. However, he came and
dwelt among them, to teach them how they should fear the Lord.
Whether he taught them out of the book of the law, or only by word of
mouth, is uncertain.
5. That, being thus taught, they made a mongrel religion of it,
worshipped the God of Israel for fear and their own idols for love
(2 Kings 17:33):
They feared the Lord, but they served their own gods.
They all agreed to worship the God of the land according to the manner,
to serve the Jewish festivals and rites of sacrificing, but every
nation made gods of their own besides, not only for their private use
in their own families, but to be put in the houses of their high
2 Kings 17:9.
The idols of each country are here named,
2 Kings 17:30,31.
The learned are at a loss for the signification of several of these
names, and cannot agree by what representations these gods were
worshipped. If we may credit the traditions of the Jewish doctors, they
tell us that Succoth-Benoth was worshipped in a hen and chickens,
Nergal in a cock, Ashima in a smooth goat, Nibhaz in a dog, Tartak in
an ass, Adrammelech in a peacock, Anammelech in a pheasant. Our own
tell us, more probably, that Succoth-Benoth (signifying the tents of
the daughters) was Venus. Nergal, being worshipped by the Cuthites,
or Persians, was the fire, Adrammelech and Anammelech were only
distinctions of Moloch. See how vain idolaters were in their
imaginations, and wonder at their sottishness. Our very ignorance
concerning these idols teaches us the accomplishment of that word which
God has spoken, that these false gods should all perish
they are all buried in oblivion, while the name of the true God shall
continue for ever.
6. This medley superstition is here said to continue unto this
(2 Kings 17:41),
till the time when this book was written and long after, above 300
years in all, till the time of Alexander the Great, when Manasse,
brother to Jaddus the high priest of the Jews, having married the
daughter of Sanballat, governor of the Samaritans, went over to them,
got leave of Alexander to build a temple in Mount Gerizim, drew over
many of the Jews to him, and prevailed with the Samaritans to cast away
all their idols and to worship the God of Israel only; yet their
worship was mixed with so much superstition that our Saviour told them
they knew not what they worshipped,
II. Concerning the Israelites that were carried into the land of
Assyria. This historian has occasion to speak of them
(2 Kings 17:22),
showing that their successors in the land did as they had done
(after the manner of the nations whom they carried away), they
worshipped both the God of Israel and those other gods; but what did
the captives do in the land of their affliction? Were they reformed,
and brought to repentance, by their troubles? No, they did after the
2 Kings 17:34.
When the two tribes were afterwards carried into Babylon, they were
cured by it of their idolatry, and therefore, after seventy years, they
were brought back with joy; but the ten tribes were hardened in the
furnace, and therefore were justly lost in it and left to perish. This
obstinacy of theirs is here aggravated by the consideration,
1. Of the honour God had put upon them, as the seed of Jacob, whom
he named Israel, and from him they were so named, but were a
reproach to that worthy name by which they were called.
2. Of the covenant he made with them, and the charge he gave them upon
that covenant, which is here very fully recited, that they should
fear and serve the Lord Jehovah only, who had brought them up
out of Egypt
(2 Kings 17:36),
that, having received his statutes and ordinances in writing, they
should observe to do them for evermore
(2 Kings 17:37),
and never forget that covenant which God had made with them, the
promises and conditions of that covenant, especially that great article
of it which is here thrice repeated, because it had been so often
inculcated and so much insisted on, that they should not fear other
gods. He had told them that, if they kept close to him, he would
deliver them out of the hand of all their enemies
(2 Kings 17:39);
yet when they were in the hand of their enemies, and stood in need of
deliverance, they were so stupid, and had so little sense of their own
interest, that they did after the former manner
(2 Kings 17:40),
they served both the true God and false gods, as if they knew no
difference. Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone. So they
did, and so did the nations that succeeded them. Well might the apostle
ask, What then, Are we better than they? No, in no wise, for both
Jews and Gentiles are all under sin,