2 Kings 17:29
However, every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelled.
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(29) Howbeit.And. The colonists did not fear Jehovah in a monotheistic sense; they simply added his cultus to that of their ancestral deities.

The houses of the high places.—The temples or chaples which constituted the sanctuaries of the different cities in the Samaritan territory.

The Samaritansi.e., the people of northern Israel. (Comp. Samaria in 2Kings 17:24.)

Dwelt.Were dwelling.

2 Kings 17:29. Howbeit, every nation made gods of their own — Or, worshipped, as the Hebrew word here used sometimes means; of which see Exodus 32:35. That is, they worshipped the gods which they had served in the places from whence they came. And put them in the high places which the Samaritans — That is, which the former inhabitants of the city and kingdom had made.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 "Samaritans" here are the Israelites. The temples built by them at the high places 1 Kings 12:31; 1 Kings 13:32 had remained standing at the time of their departure. They were now occupied by the new-comers, who set up their own worship in the old sanctuaries. 29. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own—These Assyrian colonists, however, though instructed in the worship, and acknowledging the being of the God of Israel, did not suppose Him to be the only God. Like other heathens, they combined His worship with that of their own gods; and as they formed a promiscuous society from different nations or provinces, a variety of idols was acknowledged among them. Made gods of their own or, worshipped, (as that verb is sometimes used; of which see Exodus 32:35) i.e. those whom they worshipped in the places from whence they came, whose names here follow.

The Samaritans, i.e. the former people, or inhabitants, not of the city, but of the kingdom of Samaria. Howbeit, every nation made gods of their own,.... Served and worshipped those they brought with them, and which were the work of their own hands, even the nations, or those out of the nations, mentioned 2 Kings 17:24 these, notwithstanding the instructions they had about the worship of the God of Israel, retained and served their own deities: and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt; as the Israelites had built high places everywhere for idolatry, and put images in them, 2 Kings 17:9 these Heathens placed their gods there in the room of them, which were as follow. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.
29. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own] When they beheld the calves of Dan and Bethel, they would see nothing higher in them than in their own objects of worship. So the adoption of the new form of worship would not draw them from the attachment to their earlier divinities.

the high places which the Samaritans] All was ready for the strangers to set up their idols in every place to which they came.Verse 29. - Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. The several bands of settlers found in the cities assigned to them "houses of the high places," or high-place temples (ver. 9), which had been left standing when the inhabitants were carried off. These "houses" they converted to their own use, setting up in them their several idolatries. The sons of Israel (the ten tribes) walked in all the sins of Jeroboam, till the Lord removed them from His face, thrust them out of the land of the Lord, as He had threatened them through all His prophets, namely, from the time of Jeroboam onwards (compare 1 Kings 14:15-16, and also Hosea 1:6; Hosea 9:16; Amos 3:11-12; Amos 5:27; Isaiah 28:1 etc.). The banishment to Assyria (see 2 Kings 17:6) lasted "unto this day," i.e., till the time when our books were written.

(Note: As the Hebrew דע, like the German bis, is not always used in an exclusive sense, but is frequently abstracted from what lies behind the terminus ad quem mentioned, it by no means follows from the words, "the Lord rejected Israel ... to this day," that the ten tribes returned to their own country after the time when our books were written, viz., about the middle of the sixth century b.c. And it is just as impossible to prove the opposite view, which is very widely spread, namely, that they are living as a body in banishment even at the present day. It is well known how often the long-lost ten tribes have been discovered, in the numerous Jewish communities of southern Arabia, in India, more especially in Malabar, in China, Turkistan, and Cashmir, or in Afghanistan (see Ritter's Erdkunde, x. p. 246), and even in America itself; and now Dr. Asahel Grant (Die Nestorianer oder die zehn Stmme) thinks that he has found them in the independent Nestorians and the Jews living among them; whereas others, such as Witsius (Δεκαφυλ. c. iv.ff.), J. D. Michaelis (de exsilio decem tribuum, comm. iii.), and last of all Robinson in the word quoted by Ritter, l. c. p. 245 (The Nestorians, etc., New York, 1841), have endeavoured to prove that the ten tribes became partly mixed up with the Judaeans during the Babylonian captivity, and partly attached themselves to the exile who were led back to Palestine by Zerubbabel and Ezra; that a portion again became broken up at a still later period by mixing with the rest of the Jews, who were scattered throughout all the world after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, and a further portion a long time ago by conversion to Christianity, so that every attempt to discover the remnants of the ten tribes anywhere must be altogether futile. This view is in general the correct one, though its supporters have mixed up the sound arguments with many that are untenable. For example, the predications quoted by Ritter (p. 25), probably after Robinson (viz., Jeremiah 50:4-5, Jeremiah 50:17, Jeremiah 50:19, and Ezekiel 37:11.), and also the prophetic declarations cited by Witsius (v. 11-14: viz., Isaiah 14:1; Micah 2:12; Jeremiah 3:12; Jeremiah 30:3-4; Jeremiah 33:7-8), prove very little, because for the most part they refer to Messianic times and are to be understood spiritually. So much, however, may certainly be gathered from the books of Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, that the Judaeans whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive were not all placed in the province of Babylonia, but were also dispersed in the different districts that constituted first the Assyrian, then the Chaldaean, and afterwards the Persian empire on the other side of the Euphrates, so that with the cessation of that division which had been so strictly maintained to suit the policy of the Israelitish kings, the ancient separation would also disappear, and their common mournful lot of dispersion among the heathen would of necessity bring about a closer union among all the descendants of Jacob; just as we find that the kings of Persia knew of no difference between Jews and Israelites, and in the time of Xerxes the grand vizier Haman wanted to exterminate all the Jews (not the Judaeans merely, but all the Hebrews). Moreover, the edict of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-4), "who among you of all his people," and that of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:13), "whoever in my kingdom is willing of the people of Israel," gave permission to all the Israelites of the twelve tribes to return to Palestine. And who could maintain with any show of reason, that no one belonging to the ten tribes availed himself of this permission? And though Grant argues, on the other side, that with regard to the 50,000 whom Cyrus sent away to their home it is expressly stated that they were of those "whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away into Babylon" (Ezra 2:1), with which 2 Kings 1:5 may also be compared, "then rose up the heads of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites, etc.;" these words apply to the majority of those who returned, and undoubtedly prove that the ten tribes as such did not return to Palestine, but they by no means prove that a considerable number of members of the remaining tribes may not have attached themselves to the large number of citizens of the kingdom of Judah who returned. And not only Lightfoot (Hor. hebr. in Ephesians 1 ad Cor. Addenda ad c. 14, Opp. ii. p. 929) and Witsius (p. 346), but the Rabbins long before them in Seder Olam rab. c. 29, p. 86, have inferred from the fact that the number of persons and families given separately in Ezra 2 only amounts to 30,360, whereas in Ezra 2:64 the total number of persons who returned is said to have been 42,360 heads, besides 7337 men-servants and maid-servants, that this excess above the families of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi, who are mentioned by name, may have come from the ten tribes. Moreover, those who returned did regard themselves as the representatives of the twelve tribes; for at the dedication of the new temple (Ezra 6:17) they offered "sin-offerings for all Israel, according to the number of the twelve tribes." And those who returned with Ezra did the same. As a thanksgiving for their safe return to their fatherland, they offered in sacrifice "twelve oxen for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven sheep, and twelve he-goats for a sin-offering, all as a burnt-offering for Jehovah" (Ezra 8:35). There is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of those who returned with Zerubbabel and Ezra belonged to the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi; which may be explained very simply from the fact, that as they had been a much shorter time in exile, they had retained a much stronger longing for the home given by the Lord to their fathers than the tribes that were carried away 180 years before. But that they also followed in great numbers at a future time, after those who had returned before had risen to a state of greater ecclesiastical and civil prosperity in their own home, is an inference that must be drawn from the fact that in the time of Christ and His apostles, Galilee, and in part also Peraea, was very densely populated by Israelites; and this population cannot be traced back either to the Jews who returned to Jerusalem and Judaea under Zerubbabel and Ezra, or to the small number of Israelites who were left behind in the land when the Assyrian deportation took place.

On the other hand, even the arguments adduced by Grant in support of his view, viz., (1) that we have not the slightest historical evidence that the ten tribes every left Assyria again, (2) that on the return from the Babylonian captivity they did not come back with the rest, prove as argumenta a silentio but very little, and lose their force still more if the assumptions upon which they are based - namely, that the ten tribes who were transported to Assyria and Media had no intercourse whatever with the Jews who were led away to Babylon, but kept themselves unmixed and quite apart from the Judaeans, and that as they did not return with Zerubbabel and Ezra, they did not return to their native land at any later period-are, as we have shown above, untenable. Consequently the further arguments of Grant, (3) that according to Josephus (Ant. xi. 5, 2) the ten tribes were still in the land of their captivity in the first century, and according to Jerome (Comm. on the Prophets) in the fifth; and (4) that in the present day they are still in the country of the ancient Assyrians, since the Nestorians, both according to their own statement and according to the testimony of the Jews there, as Beni Yisrael, and that of the ten tribes, and are also proved to be Israelites by many of the customs and usages which they have preserved (Die Nestor. pp. 113ff.); prove nothing more than that there may still be descendants of the Israelites who were banished thither among the Jews and Nestorians living in northern Assyria by the Uramiah-lake, and by no means that the Jews living there are the unmixed descendants of the ten tribes. The statements made by the Jews lose all their importance from the fact, that Jews of other lands maintain just the same concerning themselves. And the Mosaic manners and customs of the Nestorians prove nothing more than that they are of Jewish origin. In general, the Israelites and Jews who have come into heathen lands from the time of Salmanasar and Nebuchadnezzar onwards, and have settled there, have become so mixed up with the Jews who were scattered in all quarters of the globe from the time of Alexander the Great, and more especially since the destruction of the Jewish state by the Romans, that the last traces of the old division into tribes have entirely disappeared.)

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