2 Kings 16
Ahaz Reigns over Judah
In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, became king. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God, as his father (ancestor) David had done. Instead he walked in the way of the [idolatrous] kings of Israel, and even made his son pass through the fire [as a human sacrifice], in accordance with the repulsive [and idolatrous] practices of the [pagan] nations whom the Lord drove out before the Israelites. He also sacrificed and burned incense on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.
Then Rezin the king of Aram (Syria) and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to wage war. They besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome and conquer him. At that time Rezin king of Aram recovered [a]Elath [in Edom] for Aram, and drove the Jews away from it. The Arameans came to Elath, and live there to this day.
Ahaz Seeks Help of Assyria
So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and son. Come up and rescue me from the hand of the kings of Aram and of Israel, who are rising up against me.” And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house, and sent a gift to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria listened to him; and he went up against Damascus and captured it, and carried its people away into exile to Kir, and put Rezin [king of Aram] to death.
Now King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser the king of Assyria, and saw the pagan altar which was at Damascus. Then King Ahaz sent a model of the altar to Urijah the priest along with a [detailed] pattern for all its construction. So Urijah the priest built an altar; in accordance with everything that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus, that is how Urijah the priest made it before King Ahaz returned from Damascus. When the king came from Damascus, he saw the altar; then the king approached the altar and offered [sacrifices] on it, and burned his burnt offering and his grain offering, and poured out his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings on the altar. He brought the bronze altar, which was before the Lord, from the front of the house (temple), from between the [new] altar and the house of the Lord, and put it on the north side of the [new] altar. Then King Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, “Upon the great [new] altar, burn the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, and the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land and their grain offering and their drink offerings; and sprinkle on the new altar all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice. But the [old] bronze altar shall be kept for me to use to [b]examine the sacrifices.” Urijah the priest acted in accordance with everything that King Ahaz commanded.
Then King Ahaz cut away the frames of the basin stands [in the temple], and removed the basin from [each of] them; and he took down the [large] Sea from the bronze oxen which were under it, and put it on a plastered stone floor. He removed from the house of the Lord the covered way for the Sabbath which they had built in the house, and the outer entrance of the king, because of the king of Assyria [who might confiscate them].
Hezekiah Reigns over Judah
Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? So Ahaz slept with his fathers [in death] and was buried with his fathers in the City of David; and his son Hezekiah became king in his place.
- 2 Kings 16:6 Elath was located on the Gulf of Aqaba, the southernmost port city of Judah.
- 2 Kings 16:15 The meaning of the Hebrew here is not certain, but Ahaz was probably referring to the pagan practice of examining the entrails of sacrifices as omens for deciding whether to go to war or for other major decisions.
2 Kings 17
Hoshea Reigns over Israel
In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned for nine years. He did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel who came before him. [a]Shalmaneser [V] king of Assyria came up against him, and Hoshea became his servant and paid him tribute (money). But the king of Assyria discovered a conspiracy in Hoshea, who sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year; therefore the king of Assyria arrested him and bound him in prison.
Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land [of Israel] and went up to [b]Samaria and besieged it for three years.
In the ninth year of Hoshea, [c]the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried [the people of] Israel into exile to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and in Habor, by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
Why Israel Fell
Now this came about because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared [and worshiped] other gods and walked in the customs of the [pagan] nations whom the Lord had driven out before the sons (descendants) of Israel, and in the pagan customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced. The Israelites ascribed things to the Lord their God which were not true. They built for themselves high places [of worship] in all their towns, from [the lonely] lookout tower to the [populous] fortified city. They set up for themselves sacred pillars (memorial stones) and [d]Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree. There they burned incense on all the high places, just as the [pagan] nations whom the Lord had deported before them; and they did evil and contemptible things, provoking the Lord [to anger]. And they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.” Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments and My statutes, in accordance with all the Law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.” However they did not listen, but stiffened their necks as did their fathers who did not believe (trust in, rely on, remain steadfast to) the Lord their God. They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers, as well as His warnings that he gave them. And they followed vanity [that is, false gods, idols] and became vain (empty-headed). They followed the [pagan practices of the] nations which surrounded them, although the Lord had commanded that they were not to do as they did. They abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God and made for themselves cast images of two calves; and they made an Asherah [idol] and worshiped all the [starry] host of heaven and served Baal. They made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire [as human sacrifices], and used divination [to foretell the future] and enchantments; and they sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none [of the tribes] was left except the tribe of Judah.
Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God either, but walked in the customs which Israel introduced. So the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel (Jacob) and [repeatedly] afflicted them and handed them over to plunderers, until He had cast them out of His sight.
When He had torn Israel from the [royal] house of David, they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. And Jeroboam drove Israel away from following the Lord and made them commit a great sin. For the Israelites walked in all the [idolatrous] sins which Jeroboam committed; they did not turn from them until the Lord removed Israel from His sight, just as He had foretold through all His servants the prophets. So Israel went into exile from their own land to Assyria to this day [the date of this writing].
Cities of Israel Filled with Strangers
The king of Assyria brought men from Babylon and from Cuthah and from Avva and from Hamath and Sepharvaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the sons (people) of Israel. They took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities. Now when they began to live there, they did not fear the Lord; therefore the Lord sent lions among them which killed some of them. So the king of Assyria was told, “The nations whom you have sent into exile and settled in the cities of Samaria do not know the custom of the god of the land; so He has sent lions among them, and they are killing them because they do not know the manner of [worship demanded by] the god of the land.”
Then the king of Assyria commanded, “Take back [to Samaria] one of the priests whom you brought from there, and have him go and live there; and have him teach the people the custom of the god of the land.” So one of the priests whom they had exiled from Samaria came [back] and lived in Bethel and taught them how they should fear [and worship] the Lord.
But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the houses (shrines) of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities where they lived. The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. They also feared the Lord and appointed from among themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods, following the custom of the nations from among whom they had been sent into exile.
To this day they act in accordance with their former [pagan] customs: they do not [really] fear the Lord, nor do they obey their statutes and ordinances, nor the law, nor the commandments which the Lord commanded the sons (descendants) of Jacob, whom He named Israel; with whom the Lord had made a covenant and commanded them, saying, “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them. But the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, and to Him you shall bow yourselves down, and to Him you shall sacrifice. The statutes and the ordinances and the law and the commandment which He wrote for you [by the hand of Moses], you shall observe and do forever. You shall not fear (worship, serve) other gods. The covenant that I have made with you, you shall not forget; you shall not fear other gods. But the Lord your God you shall fear [and worship]; then He will rescue you from the hands of all your enemies.” However, they did not listen, but they acted in accordance with their former custom. So these nations [superficially] feared the Lord; they also served their idols, as did their children and their children’s children, just as their fathers did, so do they to this day [the date of this writing].
- 2 Kings 17:3 Shalmaneser V succeeded his father Tiglath-pileser III as king in 727 b.c. He ruled five years and was succeeded by Sargon II in 722 b.c.
- 2 Kings 17:5 Samaria was well-fortified and very difficult to conquer. The siege, led by Shalmaneser V, began in 725 b.c.
- 2 Kings 17:6 Sargon II seized the Assyrian throne after the death of Shalmaneser V and was in power when Samaria was finally captured.
- 2 Kings 17:10 Symbols of the goddess Asherah.