2 Kings 17:26
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.
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(26) They spake.—Rather, men spake, i.e., the prefects of the province.

The manner of the God.—The word mishpāt, “judgment,” “decision,” here means “appointed worship” or “cultus.” In the Koran the word din, “judgment,” is used in a similar way, as equivalent to “religion,” especially the religion of Islam.

2 Kings 17:26. Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, &c. — They wrote, or sent messengers to him, to acquaint him with this grievance, setting forth, it is likely, the loss which their infant colony had sustained by the lions, and the continual fear they were in of them; and that they looked upon it as a judgment sent upon them for not worshipping the God of the land, which they could not, because they knew not how. The God of Israel was the God of the whole earth, but they ignorantly call him the God of the land, imagining him to be like one of their local deities, who were supposed to preside only over particular countries or provinces; and apprehending themselves to be within his reach, as being now in the country in which he governed, and therefore 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. In short, these heathen beg to be taught that which Israelites hated to be taught!

17:24-41 The terror of the Almighty will sometimes produce a forced or feigned submission in unconverted men; like those brought from different countries to inhabit Israel. But such will form unworthy thoughts of God, will expect to please him by outward forms, and will vainly try to reconcile his service with the love of the world and the indulgence of their lusts. May that fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, possess our hearts, and influence our conduct, that we may be ready for every change. Wordly settlements are uncertain; we know not whither we may be driven before we die, and we must soon leave the world; but the righteous hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken from him.The depopulation of the country, insufficiently remedied by the influx of foreigners, had the natural consequence of multiplying the wild beasts and making them bolder. Probably a certain number had always lurked in the jungle along the course of the Jordan Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44; and these now ventured into the hill country, and perhaps even into the cities. The colonists regarded their sufferings from the lions as a judgment upon them from "the god of the land" (2 Kings 17:26; compare 1 Kings 20:23 note). 24-28. the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, etc.—This was not Shalmaneser, but Esar-haddon (Eze 4:2). The places vacated by the captive Israelites he ordered to be occupied by several colonies of his own subjects from Babylon and other provinces.

from Cuthah—the Chaldee form of Cush or Susiana, now Khusistan.

Ava—supposed to be Ahivaz, situated on the river Karuns, which empties into the head of the Persian Gulf.

Hamath—on the Orontes.

Sepharvaim—Siphara, a city on the Euphrates above Babylon.

placed them in the cities of Samaria, &c.—It must not be supposed that the Israelites were universally removed to a man. A remnant was left, chiefly however of the poor and lower classes, with whom these foreign colonists mingled; so that the prevailing character of society about Samaria was heathen, not Israelite. For the Assyrian colonists became masters of the land; and, forming partial intermarriages with the remnant Jews, the inhabitants became a mongrel race, no longer a people of Ephraim (Isa 7:6). These people, imperfectly instructed in the creed of the Jews, acquired also a mongrel doctrine. Being too few to replenish the land, lions, by which the land had been infested (Jud 14:5; 1Sa 17:34; 1Ki 13:24; 20:36; So 4:8), multiplied and committed frequent ravages upon them. Recognizing in these attacks a judgment from the God of the land, whom they had not worshipped, they petitioned the Assyrian court to send them some Jewish priests who might instruct them in the right way of serving Him. The king, in compliance with their request, sent them one of the exiled priests of Israel [2Ki 17:27], who established his headquarters at Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. It is not said that he took a copy of the Pentateuch with him, out of which he might teach them. Oral teaching was much better fitted for the superstitious people than instruction out of a written book. He could teach them more effectually by word of mouth. Believing that he would adopt the best and simplest method for them, it is unlikely that he took the written law with him, and so gave origin to the Samaritan copy of the Pentateuch [Davidson, Criticism]. Besides, it is evident from his being one of the exiled priests, and from his settlement at Beth-el, that he was not a Levite, but one of the calf-worshipping priests. Consequently his instructions would be neither sound nor efficient.

They spake, i.e. they wrote, or sent messengers to him for relief.

Know not the manner of the God of the land; they supposed the true God to be like one of their topical deities, who had their particular countries and provinces allotted to them.

Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria,.... In letters, or by messengers they sent unto him:

saying, the nations which thou hast removed; from different places before mentioned:

and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land; taking Jehovah the God of Israel to be a topical deity, limited peculiarly to the land of Israel, whereas he was the God of the whole earth; a like notion obtained among the Syrians, see 1 Kings 20:28 now they say they know not his "manner" or "judgment" (n), the laws, statutes, ordinances, and judgments, according to which he was worshipped by the people of Israel:

therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them; they perceived it was not a common case, nor could they impute it to any second cause, as want of food with the lions, &c. but the hand of a superior Being was in it: and they could think of no other reason, but

because they know not the manner of the God of the land; how he was to be worshipped; and because they did not worship him, and knew not how to do it, it was resented in this manner by him.

(n) "judicium", Pagninus, Montanus, &c.

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.
26. they spake to the king of Assyria] Whose thoughts on such a matter would be in accord with their own, and who would therefore take steps that the colonists should be instructed in the worship of the local deity, as he and they would consider Jehovah to be.

thou hast removed] R.V. carried away. For the word in the original is the same which is translated ‘carried away’ above in verse 11, and a different verb from that which is rendered ‘removed’ in verse 18.

the manner of the God of the land] i.e. The way in which he would desire to be worshipped. This must vary with the various attributes and characteristics which were assigned to the god of the place.

Verse 26. - Wherefore they spake to the Feng of Assyria, saying. The meaning seems to be, not that the colonists made direct complaint to the king, but that some of the persons about the court, having heard of the matter, reported it to him as one requiring consideration and remedy. Hence the use of the third person instead of the first. The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria (see ver. 24), know not the manner of the God of the land. It was the general belief of the heathen nations of antiquity that each country and nation had its own god or gods, who presided over its destinies, protected it, went out at the head of its armies, and fought for it against its enemies. Each god had his own "manner," or ritual and method of worship, which was, in some respects at any rate, different from that of all other gods. Unless this ritual and method were known, new-comers into any land were almost sure to displease the local deity, who did not allow of any departure from traditional usage in his worship. Therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, bemuse they know not the manner of the God of the land. 2 Kings 17:26In the earliest period of their settlement in the cities of Samaria the new settlers were visited by lions, which may have multiplied greatly during the time that the land was lying waste. The settlers regarded this as a punishment from Jehovah, i.e., from the deity of the land, whom they did not worship, and therefore asked the king of Assyria for a priest to teach them the right, i.e., the proper, worship of God of the land; whereupon the king sent them one of the priests who had been carried away, and he took up his abode in Bethel, and instructed the people in the worship of Jehovah. The author of our books also looked upon the lions as sent by Jehovah as a punishment, according to Leviticus 26:22, because the new settlers did not fear Him. העריות: the lions which had taken up their abode there. שׁם וישׁבוּ וילכוּ: that they (the priest with his companions) went away and dwelt there. There is no need therefore to alter the plural into the singular.

The priest sent by the Assyrian king was of course an Israelitish priest of the calves, for he was one of those who had been carried away and settled in Bethel, the chief seat of Jeroboam's image-worship, and he also taught the colonists to fear or worship Jehovah after the manner of the land. This explains the state of divine worship in the land as described in 2 Kings 17:29. "Every separate nation (גּוי גּוי: see Ewald, 313, a.) made itself its own gods, and set them up in the houses of the high places (הבּמות בּית: see at 1 Kings 12:31, and for the singular בּית, Ewald, 270, c.) which the Samaritans (השּׁמרנים, not the colonists sent thither by Esarhaddon, but the former inhabitants of the kingdom of Israel, who are so called from the capital Samaria) had made (built); every nation in the cities where they dwelt."

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