2 Kings 17:23
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 to this day.
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(23) By all his servants the prophets.—Comp. Hosea 1:6; Hosea 9:16; Amos 3:11-12; Amos 5:27; Isaiah 28:1-4.

So was Israel carried away.—That the land was not entirely depopulated appears from such passages as 2Chronicles 30:1; 2Chronicles 34:9. But henceforth “the distinctive character of the nation was lost; such Hebrews as remained in their old land became mixed with their heathen neighbours. When Josiah destroyed the ancient high places of the northern kingdom he slew their priests, whereas the priests of Judæan sanctuaries were provided for at Jerusalem. It is plain from this that he regarded the worship of the northern sanctuaries as purely heathenish (comp. 2Kings 23:20 with 2Kings 17:5), and it was only in much later times that the mixed population of Samaria became possessed of the Pentateuch, and set up a worship on Mount Gerizim, in imitation of the ritual of the second Temple. We have no reason to think that the captive Ephraimites were more able to retain their distinctive character than their brethren who remained in Palestine. The problem of the lost tribes, which has so much attraction for some speculators, is a purely fanciful one. The people whom Hosea and Amos describe were not fitted to maintain themselves apart from the heathen among whom they dwelt. Scattered among strange nations, they accepted the service of strange gods (Deuteronomy 28:64), and, losing their distinctive religion, lost also their distinctive existence.” (Robertson Smith.)

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.As he had said by all his servants the prophets - The writer refers not only to the extant prophecies of Moses (Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 4:26-27; Deuteronomy 28:36, etc.), Ahijah the Shilohite (marginal reference), Hosea Hos 9:3, Hosea 9:17, and Amos Amo 7:17, but also to the entire series of warnings and predictions which prophet after prophet in a long unbroken succession had addressed to the disobedient Israelites 2 Kings 17:13 on their apostasy, and so leaving them wholly "without excuse" (see the 2 Kings 17:13 note).

Unto this day - The words, taken in combination with the rest of the chapter, distinctly show that the Israelites had not returned to their land by the time of the composition of the Books of Kings. They show nothing as to their ultimate fate. But, on the whole, it would seem probable:

(1) that the ten tribes never formed a community in their exile, but were scattered from the first; and

(2) that their descendants either blended with the pagan and were absorbed, or returned to Palestine with Zerubbabel and Ezra, or became inseparable united with the dispersed Jews in Mesopotamia and the adjacent countries.

No discovery, therefore, of the ten tribes is to be expected, nor can works written to prove their identity with any existing race or body of persons be regarded as anything more than ingenious exercitations.

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.

The Lord removed Israel out of his sight: they continued to the last obstinate and incorrigible under all the instructions and corrections which God sent to them; and therefore were most justly given up by God into this dreadful captivity; which all this foregoing discourse was designed to prove. Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight,.... Suffered them to be carried captive into the land of Assyria:

as he had said by all his servants the prophets; by Hosea, Amos, Micah, and others; see their prophecies, and also 1 Kings 13:32,

so was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria, unto this day; the time of the writing this book; nor have they returned unto our days, nearly 2,800 years later.

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.
23. as he had said by all his servants the prophets] R.V. as he spake by the hand of all his servants the prophets. These were probably more numerous, in connexion with the northern kingdom than with the kingdom of Judah, and conspicuous among them were the great figures of Elijah and Elisha. The other prophets of Israel were Ahijah the Shilonite of the land of Ephraim (1 Kings 14:4), an anonymous prophet in Beth-el (1 Kings 13:11), Micaiah the son of Imlah in Samaria (1 Kings 22:10). Elijah was a Gileadite (1 Kings 17:1), and Abel-meholah, Elisha’s birthplace, was in the tribe of Issachar (1 Kings 19:16), Jonah was born at Gath-hepher in Galilee in the tribe of Zebulon (2 Kings 14:25), Nahum the Elkoshite was of Israel (Nahum 1:1), and probably Hosea also. The prophecy of Amos is concerning Israel, but he was born at Tekoah in Judah.

to Assyria unto this day] See above on 2 Kings 2:22. The R.V. begins this last clause ‘So Israel was’ &c.Verse 23. - Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight (see the comment on ver. 18) as he had said by all his servants the prophets. The destruction of the kingdom of Israel had been distinctly prophesied by Ahijah the Shilonite (1 Kings 14:15, 16), Hosea (Hosea 1:4; 9:3, 17), and Amos (Amos 7:17). General warnings and denunciations had been given by Moses (Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 4:26, 27; Deuteronomy 28:36, etc.), by Isaiah (Isaiah 7:8; Isaiah 28:1-4), and probably by the entire series of prophets enumerated in the comment on ver. 13. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day; i.e. up to the time that the Second Book of Kings was written, about B.C. 580-560, the Israelites remained within the limits of the country to which they were carried by the conqueror. Not long after this time, about B.C. 538, a considerable number returned with Zerubbabel to Palestine, and others with Ezra (see Ezra 2:70; Ezra 3:1; Ezra 6:16, 17; Ezra 7:13; Ezra 8:35-1 Chronicles 9:2, 3; Zechariah 8:13). What became of the rest has been a fertile subject of speculation. Probably the more religions united with the Jewish communities, which were gradually formed in almost all the cities of the East; while the irreligious laid aside their peculiar customs, and became blended indistinguishably with the heathen. 'There is no ground for expecting to find the "ten tribes" anywhere at the present day. The climax of their apostasy: "They made themselves molten images, two (golden) calves" (1 Kings 12:28), which are called מסּכה after Exodus 32:4, Exodus 32:8, and Deuteronomy 9:12, Deuteronomy 9:16, "and Asherah," i.e., idols of Astarte (for the fact, see 1 Kings 16:33), "and worshipped all the host of heaven (sun, moon, and stars), and served Baal" - in the time of Ahab and his family (1 Kings 16:32). The worshipping of all the host of heaven is not specially mentioned in the history of the kingdom of the ten tribes, but occurs first of all in Judah in the time of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:3). The fact that the host of heaven is mentioned between Asherah and Baal shows that the historian refers to the Baal and Astarte worship, and has borrowed the expression from Deuteronomy 4:19 and Deuteronomy 17:3, to show the character of this worship, since both Baal and Astarte were deities of a sidereal nature. The first half of 2 Kings 17:17 rests upon Deuteronomy 18:10, where the worship of Moloch is forbidden along with soothsaying and augury. There is no allusion to this worship in the history of the kingdom of the ten tribes, although it certainly existed in the time of Ahab. The second half of 2 Kings 17:17 also refers to the conduct of Ahab (see at 1 Kings 21:20).
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