2 Kings 17:16
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Molten images.1Kings 12:28. Literally, a casting.

A grove.An Asherah (1Kings 14:23; 1Kings 16:33). Schlottmann writes: “That Ashera was only another name for the same supreme goddess (i.e., Ashtoreth) is at once shown by the parallelism of ‘Baal and Ashtaroth’ (Judges 2:13) with ‘Baal and Asherim’ (the plural of Ashera) in Judges 3:7. In quite the same way Baal and Ashera stand side by side in Judges 6:28, 2Kings 23:4; and in 1Kings 18:19 the 450 prophets of the Baal and the 400 of the Ashera. further, in 2Chronicles 15:16; 2Chronicles 24:18, the LXX. render Ashera by Astarte; and in other passages Aquila, Symmachus, and the Peshito do the same thing.” He then refers to 1Kings 14:23 and Isaiah 17:8; Isaiah 27:9, and continues: “according to these and many other passages, Ashera was used as the designation of the commonest material representation of the goddess. It consisted of a block of wood, of considerable size (Judges 6:26), and resembling a tree, as is shown by the expressions used in connection with it, such as setting up,’ ‘planting,’ and ‘cutting down’ (2Kings 17:10; Deuteronomy 16:21; Judges 6:28; 2Kings 18:4, &c). In Isaiah 27:9 the LXX. actually renders tree; ‘and so the Peshito in Deut. vi 21, Micah 5:13. Hence, we must not think of pillars like the Greek Hermae, but of a real trunk planted in the ground, rootless, but not branchless; for which purpose pines and evergreens were preferred. The tree signifies, according to an ancient and widespread conception, nature, or the world, which in this case stands as goddess at the side of the Baal——the lord of the world. (Comp. the Norse tree, Yggdrasil, and the Assyrian sacred tree.) Hence, the Ashera was set up by the altar of Baal (Judges 6:28). (Comp. Deuteronomy 16:21.)” Schlottmann adds that Movers is wrong in making Astarte and Ashera two different goddesses, the former being “the stern, cruel virgin,” the latter, “the goddess who excites to pleasure;” and he justly observes that, as in the case of Baal, the same deity may be conceived under contrary aspects (Riehm’s Handworterbuch Bibl. Alterthums, pp. Ill—114). For the Hebrew conception of Astarte see Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 44:17 seq. Kuenen, Rel. of Isr. i. 88 seq., agrees with Movers, but hardly proves his case.

Worshipped all the host of heaven.2Kings 21:3; comp. 2Kings 23:4.

17:7-23 Though the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes was but briefly related, it is in these verses largely commented upon, and the reasons of it given. It was destruction from the Almighty: the Assyrian was but the rod of his anger, Isa 10:5. 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. And vast as the outward wickedness of the world is, the secret sins, evil thoughts, desires, and purposes of mankind are much greater. There are outward sins which are marked by infamy; but ingratitude, neglect, and enmity to God, and the idolatry and impiety which proceed therefrom, are far more malignant. Without turning from every evil way, and keeping God's statutes, there can be no true godliness; but this must spring from belief of his testimony, as to wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness, and his mercy in Christ Jesus.In 2 Kings 17:10 there is a reference to the old high-place worship, which was professedly a worship of Yahweh, but with unauthorized rites and emblems; here the reference is to Ahab's setting up a grove to Baal in the city of Samaria (marginal reference).

And worshipped all the host of heaven - Astral worship has not hitherto been mentioned as practiced by the Israelites. Moses had warned against it Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3, so that it no doubt existed in his day, either among the Canaanite nations or among the Arabians Job 31:26-28. Perhaps it was involved to some extent in the Baal worship of the Phoenicians, for Baal and Astarte were probably associated in the minds of their worshippers with the Sun and moon. Later in the history we shall find a very decided and well-developed astral worship prevalent among the Jews, which is probably Assyro-Babylonian (2 Kings 21:3 note).

2Ki 17:7-41. Samaria Taken, and Israel for Their Sins Carried Captive.

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.

They left all the commandments of the Lord; they grew worse and worse; from a partial disobedience to some of God’s laws, they fell by degrees to a total apostacy from all of them.

The host of heaven; the stars, as Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, &c. See Deu 4:19. And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God,.... Which their idolatry led them to; and indeed he that offends in one point is guilty of them all, James 2:10.

and made them molten images, even two calves; which they set up at Dan and Bethel, in the times of their first king Jeroboam, 1 Kings 13:28.

and made a grove; as Ahab, another of their kings, did, 1 Kings 16:33.

and worshipped all the host of heaven: not the angels, sometimes so called, but, besides the sun and moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Venus:

and served Baal; which was service to the sun, as Abarbinel interprets it; this was the god of the Zidonians Ahab worshipped, having married a princess of that people, 1 Kings 16:31.

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 {g} host of heaven, and served Baal.

(g) That is, the sun, moon and stars, De 4:19.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. And they left [R.V. forsook] all the commandments] The R.V. adopts the most usual rendering of the verb, which is stronger in such a combination than ‘left’. It is noteworthy that the sin of the calves is connected with the casting away of all the divine law. As soon as any other object is set up instead of God, all that He values has perished from man’s worship.

a grove] R.V. an Asherah. See above on verse 10.

and worshipped all the host of heaven] On the temptation to this worship of the heavenly bodies, and its prohibition, cf. Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3. See also what is said of Hezekiah’s and Josiah’s reformations. That God’s people did fall into this sin we know from Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5. Most likely it was introduced through the communications of Ahaz with Assyria.Verses 16, 17. - The main sins of Israel are now specified, that they themselves may stand self-convicted, and that others may be warned against doing the like. First, generally. Verse 16. - They left all the commandments of the Lord their God; i.e. neglected them, rendered them no obedience, offered none of the stated sacrifices, attended none of the appointed feasts, broke the moral law (Hosea 4:1, 2, 11; Hosea 7:1, etc.) by swearing, and lying, and stealing, and committing adultery, by drunkenness, and lewdness, and bloodshed. And made them molten images, even two calves. These at least were undeniable - there they were at Dan and Bethel, until the Captivity came (Hosea 8:5; Hosea 10:5, 6; Hosea 13:2; Amos 8:14), worshipped, sworn by (Amos 8:14), viewed as living gods (Amos 8:14), offered to, trusted in. Every king had upheld them, so that Bethel was regarded as "the king's court," and "the king's chapel" (Amos 7:13); all the people were devoted to them, and "brought their sacrifices to Bethel every morning" (Amos 4:4), "and their tithes after three years." And made a grove. The "grove "(asherah) which Ahab set up at Samaria (1 Kings 16:38), and which remained there certainly to the time of Jehoahaz (see the comment on 2 Kings 13:6). And worshipped all the host of heaven. This worship had not been mentioned before; and it is nowhere else ascribed to the Israelites of the northern kingdom. Manasseh seems to have introduced it into Judah (2 Kings 21:3; 2 Kings 23:5, 11). Such knowledge as we have of the Western Asiatic religions seems to indicate that astral worship, strictly so called, was a peculiarity of the Assyro-Babylonian and Arabian systems only, and did not belong to the Syrian, or the Phoenician, or the Canaanite. It may be suspected that the present passage is somewhat rhetorical, and assigns to the Israelites the "worship of the host of heaven," simply because an astral character attached to Baal and Ashtoreth, who were associated in the religion of the Phoenicians with the sun and moon. On the ether hand, it is just possible that the Assyro-Babylonian star-worship had been introduced into Israel under Menahem, Pekah, or Hoshea. And served Baal. The Baal-worship, introduced by Ahab (1 Kings 16:31), was not finally abolished by Jehu (2 Kings 10:28). Like other popular religions, it had a revival Hosea, writing under the later kings from Jeroboam II. to Hoshea, alludes to the Baal-worship (Hosea 2:8, 17) as continuing. They set up for themselves monuments and asherim on every high hill, etc., - a practice condemned in 1 Kings 14:16, 1 Kings 14:23, as early as the time of Jeroboam. In this description of their idolatry, the historian, however, had in his mind not only the ten tribes, but also Judah, as is evident from 2 Kings 17:13, "Jehovah testified against Israel and Judah through His prophets," and also from 2 Kings 17:19.
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