2 Kings 16
Ahaz King of Judah
Ahaz began to rule as king over Judah. It was in the 17th year of the rule of Pekah, the son of Remaliah. Ahaz was the son of Jotham. Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 16 years. Ahaz didn’t do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He didn’t do what King David had done. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel. He even sacrificed his son in the fire to another god. He followed the practices of the nations. The Lord hated those practices. He had driven out those nations to make room for the Israelites. Ahaz offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places. He also did it on the tops of hills and under every green tree.
Rezin and Pekah marched up to Jerusalem and surrounded it. Rezin was king of Aram. Pekah, the son of Remaliah, was king of Israel. They attacked Ahaz. But they couldn’t overpower him. At that time Rezin, the king of Aram, won back Elath for Aram. He drove out the people of Judah. Then the people of Edom moved into Elath. And they still live there to this day.
Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-Pileser. He was king of Assyria. The message of Ahaz said, “I am your servant. You are my master. Come up and save me from the power of the kings of Aram and Israel. They are attacking me.” Ahaz took the silver and gold that were in the Lord’s temple. He also took the silver and gold that were among the treasures in the royal palace. He sent all of it as a gift to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria did what Ahaz asked him to do. He attacked the city of Damascus and captured it. He sent its people away to Kir. And he put Rezin to death.
Then King Ahaz went to Damascus. He went there to see Tiglath-Pileser, the king of Assyria. Ahaz saw an altar in Damascus. He sent a drawing of it to Uriah the priest. Ahaz also sent him plans for building it. So Uriah the priest built an altar. He followed all the plans King Ahaz had sent from Damascus. He finished it before Ahaz returned. The king came back from Damascus. When he saw the altar, he approached it. Then he offered sacrifices on it. He offered up his burnt offering and grain offering. He poured out his drink offering. And he splashed the blood from his friendship offerings against the altar. The bronze altar for burnt offerings stood in front of the Lord. It was between the new altar and the Lord’s temple. Ahaz took the bronze altar away from the front of the temple. He put it on the north side of the new altar.
Then King Ahaz gave orders to Uriah the priest. He said, “Offer sacrifices on the large new altar. Offer the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering. Offer my burnt offering and my grain offering. Offer the burnt offering of all the people of the land. Offer their grain offering and their drink offering. Splash against this altar the blood from all the burnt offerings and sacrifices. But I will use the bronze altar to look for advice and direction.” Uriah the priest did just as King Ahaz had ordered.
Ahaz cut off the sides of the bronze stands. He removed the bowls from the stands. He removed the huge bowl from the bronze bulls it stood on. He placed the bowl on a stone base. He took away the covered area that had been used on the Sabbath day. It had been built at the Lord’s temple. He removed the royal entrance that was outside the temple. Ahaz did all these things to honor the king of Assyria.
The other events of the rule of Ahaz are written down. Everything he did is written in the official records of the kings of Judah. Ahaz joined the members of his family who had already died. He was buried in the family tomb in the City of David. Ahaz’s son Hezekiah became the next king after him.
2 Kings 17
Hoshea the Last King of Israel
Hoshea became king of Israel in Samaria. It was in the 12th year that Ahaz was king of Judah. Hoshea ruled for nine years. He was the son of Elah. Hoshea did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. But he wasn’t as evil as the kings of Israel who ruled before him.
Shalmaneser came up to attack Hoshea. Shalmaneser was king of Assyria. He had been Hoshea’s master. He had forced Hoshea to bring him gifts. But the king of Assyria found out that Hoshea had turned against him. Hoshea had sent messengers to So, the king of Egypt. Hoshea didn’t send gifts to the king of Assyria anymore. He had been sending them every year. So Shalmaneser grabbed him and put him in prison. The king of Assyria marched into the whole land of Israel. He marched to Samaria and surrounded it for three years. From time to time he attacked it. Finally, the king of Assyria captured Samaria. It was in the ninth year of Hoshea. The king of Assyria took the Israelites away from their own land. He sent them off to Assyria. He made some of them live in Halah. He made others live in Gozan on the Habor River. And he made others live in the towns of the Medes.
Israel Is Forced to Leave the Land Because of Sin
All of this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God. He had brought them up out of Egypt. He had brought them out from under the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. But they worshiped other gods. The Lord had driven out other nations to make room for Israel. But they followed the evil practices of those nations. They also followed the practices that the kings of Israel had started. The Israelites did things in secret against the Lord their God. What they did wasn’t right. They built high places for worship in all their towns. They built them at lookout towers. They also built them at cities that had high walls around them. They set up sacred stones. And they set up poles used to worship the female god named Asherah. They did that on every high hill and under every green tree. The Lord had driven out nations to make room for Israel. But the Israelites burned incense at every high place, just as those nations had done. The Israelites did evil things that made the Lord very angry. They worshiped statues of gods. They did it even though the Lord had said, “Do not do that.” The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers. He said, “Turn from your evil ways. Keep my commands and rules. Obey every part of my Law. I commanded your people who lived long ago to obey it. And I gave it to you through my servants the prophets.”
But the people wouldn’t listen. They were as stubborn as their people of long ago had been. Those people didn’t trust in the Lord their God. They refused to obey his rules. They broke the covenant he had made with them. They didn’t pay any attention to the rules he had warned them to keep. They worshiped worthless statues of gods. Then they themselves became worthless. They followed the example of the nations around them. They did it even though the Lord had ordered them not to. He had said, “Do not do as they do.”
They turned away from all the commands of the Lord their God. They made two statues of gods for themselves. The statues were shaped like calves. They made a pole used to worship the female god named Asherah. They bowed down to all the stars. And they worshiped the god named Baal. They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced all kinds of evil magic. They gave up following God’s rules. They did only what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. All these things made him very angry.
So the Lord was very angry with Israel. He removed them from his land. Only the tribe of Judah was left. And even Judah didn’t obey the commands of the Lord their God. They followed the practices Israel had started. So the Lord turned his back on all the people of Israel. He made them suffer. He handed them over to people who stole everything they had. And finally he threw them out of his land.
The Lord took control of Israel away from the royal house of David. The Israelites made Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, their king. Jeroboam tried to get Israel to stop following the Lord. He caused them to commit a terrible sin. The Israelites were stubborn. They continued to commit all the sins Jeroboam had committed. They didn’t turn away from them. So the Lord removed them from his land. That’s what he had warned them he would do. He had given that warning through all his servants the prophets. So the people of Israel were taken away from their country. They were forced to go to Assyria. And that’s where they still are.
Assyria Makes Other People Live in Samaria
The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim. He made all of them live in the towns of Samaria. They took the place of the people of Israel. They lived in all the towns of Samaria. When they first lived there, they didn’t worship the Lord. So he sent lions among them. And the lions killed some of the people. A report was given to the king of Assyria. He was told, “You forced people to leave their own homes and live in the towns of Samaria. But they don’t know what the god of that country requires. So he has sent lions among them. And the lions are killing the people off. That’s because the people don’t know what that god requires.”
Then the king of Assyria gave an order. He said, “Get one of the priests you captured from Samaria. Send him back to live there. Have him teach the people what the god of that land requires.” So a priest went back to live in Bethel. He was one of the priests who had been forced to leave Samaria. He taught the people of Bethel how to worship the Lord.
In spite of that, the people from each nation made statues of their own gods. They made them in all the towns where they had been forced to live. They set up those statues in small temples. The people of Samaria had built the temples at the high places. The people from Babylon made statues of the god named Sukkoth Benoth. Those from Kuthah made statues of the god named Nergal. Those from Hamath made statues of the god named Ashima. The Avvites made statues of the gods named Nibhaz and Tartak. The Sepharvites sacrificed their children in the fire to the gods named Adrammelek and Anammelek. They were the gods of Sepharvaim. So the people of Samaria worshiped the Lord. But they also appointed all kinds of their own people to be their priests. The priests served in the small temples at the high places. The people worshiped the Lord. But they also served their own gods. They followed the evil practices of the nations they had been taken from.
The people of Samaria are still stubborn. They continue in their old practices to this day. And now they don’t even worship the Lord. They don’t follow his directions and rules. They don’t obey his laws and commands. The Lord had given all these laws to the family of Jacob. He gave the name Israel to Jacob. The Lord made a covenant with the Israelites. At that time he commanded them, “Do not worship any other gods. Do not bow down to them. Do not serve them or sacrifice to them. The Lord is the one you must worship. The Lord brought you up out of Egypt by his great power. He saved you by reaching out his mighty arm. You must bow down only to him. You must offer sacrifices only to him. You must always be careful to follow his directions and rules. You must obey the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. Do not forget the covenant I made with you. And remember, you must not worship other gods. Instead, worship the Lord your God. He will save you from the powerful hand of all your enemies.”
But the people wouldn’t listen. Instead, they were stubborn. They continued in their old practices. They worshiped the Lord. But at the same time, they served the statues of their gods. And to this day their children and grandchildren continue to do what their people before them did.