2 Kings 17:30
And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,
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(30) Succoth-benoth.—The Hebrew spelling of this name has probably suffered in transmission. The Babylonian goddess Zirbânit or Zarpanitum (“seed-maker”) the consort of Merodach, appears to be meant.

Nergal.—The name of the god represented by the colossal lions which guarded the doorways of Assyrian palaces. These colossi were called nirgali; and a syllabary informs us that Nergal was the god of Kutha.

Ashima.—Nothing is known of this idol. Schrader (in Riehm) pronounces against identification with the Phœnician Esm̂un. Lane’s lexicon gives an Arabic word, ‘usâmatu, or ’al’-usâmatu, “the lion,” which may be cognate with Ashima.

2 Kings 17:30. The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, &c. — In this and the following verse are the names of the gods or goddesses which each nation of these new-comers to Samaria and its vicinity set up. The learned are not agreed as to the signification of several of these names, nor is it worth while to spend time in endeavouring to determine it. The reader whose curiosity leads him to wish for information on the subject, may consult Selden, Vossius, and Jurieu. Concerning two or three of them we may observe as follows: The first name signifies, The tabernacles of the daughters, or young women, and, if it be the name of an idol, it was doubtless the same with the imaginary goddess termed Venus by the Greeks and Romans. The Jewish rabbins tell us, she was worshipped under the emblem of a hen and chickens. There is reason to believe, that in these succoth, or tents, young women exposed themselves to prostitution in honour of the Babylonish goddess Melitta. Nergal, worshipped by the Cuthites, or Persians, was probably the fire, or the sun, being derived from נר, ner, light, and גלל, galal, to revolve. The Jewish doctors say his idol was represented in the shape of a cock. Adrammelech and Anammelech were only different names for Moloch, as is evident from their burning their children to these idols in the fire. See the Universal History and Calmet. Alas! how vain were these idolaters in their imaginations! It is justly observed by Henry, that our very ignorance concerning these idols teaches us the accomplishment of God’s word by Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 10:11,) that these false gods should all perish. They are all buried in oblivion, while the name of the true God shall continue for ever!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.Succoth-benoth probably represents a Babylonian goddess called Zir-banit, the wife of Merodach. She and her husband were, next to Bel and Beltis, the favorite divinities of the Babylonians.

Nergal, etymologically "the great man," or "the great hero," was the Babylonian god of war and hunting. His name forms an element in the Babylonian royal appellation, Nergal-shar-ezar or Neriglissar. The Assyrian inscriptions connect Nergal in a very special way with Cutha, of which he was evidently the tutelary deity.

Ashima is ingeniously conjectured to be the same as Esmun, the AEsculapius of the Cabiri or "great gods" of the Phoenicians.

30. Succoth-benoth—that is, the "tents" or "booths of the daughters," similar to those in which the Babylonian damsels celebrated impure rites (Am 2:8).

Nergal—The Jewish writers say this idol was in the form of a cock, and it is certain that a cock is often associated with a priest on the Assyrian monuments [Layard]. But modern critics, looking to the astrological character of Assyrian idolatry, generally consider Nergal as the planet Mars, the god of war. The name of this idol formed part of the appellation of two of the king of Babylon's princes (Jer 39:3).

Ashima—an idol under the form of an entirely bald he-goat.

No text from Poole on this verse. And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth,.... That is, those that came from Babylon made and served an idol of this name, which, according to the Jewish writers (u), were the figures of an hen and chickens; but others suppose them to be the Pleiades, or seven stars, the stars being had in great veneration by the Babylonians; though others rather think those Succothbenoth, "tabernacles", or "booths of the daughters", as the words may be rendered, have respect to the apartments in the temple of Venus, or Mylitta with the Babylonians and Assyrians, in which women once in their lives prostituted themselves to whomsoever asked them, in honour of Venus; of which filthy practice of theirs Herodotus (w) makes mention; and Valerius Maximus speaks (x) of a temple of Sicca Venus, which is near in sound to this, where the like impurities were committed:

and the men of Cuth made Nergal; which, according to the Jews, was in the likeness of a cock; but others, because the first part of the word signifies a lamp, suppose fire is meant, worshipped by the Persians, from whom it is thought these men came; but rather the word signifies, as Hillerus (y) observes, the fountain of light, and denotes the sun, worshipped by the Babylonians, Cuth being a province of theirs; from hence one of the princes of Babylon had part of his name, Jeremiah 39:3.

and the men of Hamath made Ashima; which, the Jews say, was in the form of a goat, without any wool on it, or an ape (z); but according to Hillerus (a), with the Arabs, Ashima is the name of a lion, a symbol of the sun, under which form it might be worshipped; unless Ashima is the same with Shamaim, the heavens, worshipped by the Heathens; we read of the Ashemath of Samaria, by which they swore, Amos 8:14, though that was before these men came thither.

(u) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 63. 2.((w) Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 199. (x) L. 2. c. 6. sect. 15. (y) Onomastic. Sacr. p. 601. (z) David de Pomis Lexic. fol. 17. 2.((a) Onomast. Sacr. p. 609.

And the men of Babylon made {q} Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,

(q) Meaning that every country served the idol that was most esteemed in the place to which they came.

30. Succoth-benoth] This name of the deity of the Babylonians is probably (according to Rawlinson Herod. bk. i. p. 630) meant to represent the Chaldæan goddess Zir-banit, the wife of Merodach (i.e. Bel) who was specially worshipped in Babylon.

Nergal] The Assyrian or Babylonian god who answers to the classic Mars, the god of war. It is an argument for Cuthah being the place near Babylon between the Euphrates and the Tigris (see note on verse 24) that the city which stood there is found to have been specially devoted to Nergal, whose image we are here told was set up in Samaria by the men of Cuth.

Ashima] Jewish tradition explains this name as signifying a short-haired goat. Hence it has been thought that the divinity so called was a sort of oriental Pan, a god of shepherds and of the woods. But others think that in the name there is a trace of the Phœnician god Esmûn, who answers to Æsculapius, the deity that presided over medicine.Verse 30. - And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth. There is no deity of this name in the Assyrian or Babylonian lists. The explanation of the word as "tents" or "huts of daughters," which Satisfied Selden, Calmer, Gesenius, Winer, Keil, and others, is rendered absolutely impossible by the context, which requires that the word, whatever its meaning, should be the name of a deity. The Septuagint interpreters, while as much puzzled as others by the word itself, at least saw this, and rendered the expression by τὴν Σουκχὼθ Βενίθ, showing that they regarded it as the name of a goddess. The Babylonian goddess who corresponds most nearly to the word, and is most likely to be intended, would seem to be Zirat-banit, the wife of Merodach ('Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology,' vol. 4. pp. 136-147). Zirat-banit means "the creating lady;" but the Hebrew interpreter seems to have mistaken the first element, which he confounded with Zarat, the Baby-Ionian for "tents," and so translated by "Succoth." The goddess Zirat-banit was certainly one of the principal deities of Babylon, and would be more likely to be selected than any ether goddess. Probably she was worshipped in combination with her husband, Merodach. And the men of Cuth - i.e. "Cuthah" - made Nergal. Nergal was the special deity of Cutha. He was the Babylonian war-god, and had a high position in the Assyrian pantheon also. His name appears as an element in the "Ner-gal-sharezer" of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 39:3, 13) and the Neriglissar of Ptolemy and Berosus. And the men of Hamath made Ashima. The-nius conjectures that "Ashima" represents the Phoenician Eshmoun,one of the Cabiri, or eight "Great Ones." But the etymological resemblance of the two words is not close, and it is not at all certain that the Hamathites at any time acknowledged the Phoenician deities. The Hamathite inscriptions are in the character now known as "Hittite;" and there is reason to believe that the people were non-Semitic. This identification, therefore, must be regarded as very doubtful. Perhaps "Ashima" represents Simi, the daughter of Hadad (see Melito, 'Apologia'). The Samaritans and Their Worship. - After the transportation of the Israelites, the king of Assyria brought colonists from different provinces of his kingdom into the cities of Samaria. The king of Assyria is not Salmanasar, for it is evident from 2 Kings 17:25 that a considerable period intervened between the carrying away of the Israelites and the sending of colonists into the depopulated land. It is true that Salmanasar only is mentioned in what precedes, but the section vv. 24-41 is not so closely connected with the first portion of the chapter, that the same king of Assyria must necessarily be spoken of in both. According to Ezra 4:2, it was Esarhaddon who removed the heathen settlers to Samaria. It is true that the attempt has been made to reconcile this with the assumption that the king of Assyria mentioned in our verse is Salmanasar, by the conjecture that one portion of these colonists was settled there by Salmanasar, another by Esarhaddon; and it has also been assumed that in this expedition Esarhaddon carried away the last remnant of the ten tribes, namely, all who had fled into the mountains and inaccessible corners of the land, and to some extent also in Judaea, during Salmanasar's invasion, and had then collected together in the land again after the Assyrians had withdrawn. But there is not the smallest intimation anywhere of a second transplantation of heathen colonists to Samaria, any more than of a second removal of the remnant of the Israelites who were left behind in the land after the time of Salmanasar. The prediction in Isaiah 7:8, that in sixty-five years more Ephraim was to be destroyed, so that it would be no longer a people, even if it referred to the transplantation of the heathen colonists to Samaria by Esarhaddon, as Usher, Hengstenberg, and others suppose, would by no means necessitate the carrying away of the last remnant of the Israelites by this king, but simply the occupation of the land by heathen settlers, with whom the last remains of the Ephraimites intermingled, so that Ephraim ceased to be a people. As long as the land of Israel was merely laid waste and deprived of the greater portion of its Israelitish population, there always remained the possibility that the exiles might one day return to their native land and once more form one people with those who were left behind, and so long might Israel be still regarded as a nation; just as the Judaeans, when in exile in Babylon, did not cease to be a people, because they looked forward with certain hope to a return to their fatherland after a banishment of seventy years. But after heathen colonists had been transplanted into the land, with whom the remainder of the Israelites who were left in the land became fused, so that there arose a mixed Samaritan people of a predominantly heathen character, it was impossible to speak any longer of a people of Ephraim in the land of Israel. This transplantation of colonists out of Babel, Cutha, etc., into the cities of Samaria might therefore be regarded as the point of time at which the nation of Ephraim was entirely dissolved, without any removal of the last remnant of the Israelites having taken place. We must indeed assume this if the ten tribes were deported to the very last man, and the Samaritans were in their origin a purely heathen people without any admixture of Israelitish blood, as Hengstenberg assumes and has endeavoured to prove. But the very opposite of this is unmistakeably apparent from 2 Chronicles 34:6, 2 Chronicles 34:9, according to which there were not a few Israelites left in the depopulated land in the time of Josiah. (Compare Kalkar, Die Samaritaner ein Mischvolk, in Pelt's theol. Mitarbeiten, iii. 3, pp. 24ff.). - We therefore regard Esarhaddon as the Assyrian king who brought the colonists to Samaria. The object to ויּבא may be supplied from the context, more especially from ויּשׁב, which follows. He brought inhabitants from Babel, i.e., from the country, not the city of Babylon, from Cuthah, etc. The situation of Cuthah or Cuth (2 Kings 17:30) cannot be determined with certainty. M. v. Niebuhr (Gesch. p. 166) follows Josephus, who speaks of the Cuthaeans in Ant. ix. 14, 3, and x. 9, 7, as a people dwelling in Persia and Media, and identifies them with the Kossaeans, Kissians, Khushiya, Chuzi, who lived to the north-east of Susa, in the north-eastern portion of the present Khusistan; whereas Gesenius (thes. p. 674), Rosenmller (bibl. Althk. 1, 2, p. 29), and J. D. Michaelis (Supplem. ad Lex. hebr. p. 1255) have decided in favour of the Cutha (Arabic kth or ktha) in the Babylonian Irak, in the neighbourhood of the Nahr Malca, in support of which the fact may also be adduced, that, according to a communication from Spiegel (in the Auslande, 1864, No. 46, p. 1089), Cutha, a town not mentioned elsewhere, was situated by the wall in the north-east of Babylon, probably on the spot where the hill Ohaimir with its ruins stands. The greater number of colonists appear to have come from Cutha, because the Samaritans are called כותיים by the Rabbins.

עוּא, Avva, is almost always, and probably with correctness, regarded as being the same place as the עוּה (Ivvah) mentioned in 2 Kings 18:34 and 2 Kings 19:13, as the conjecture naturally suggests itself to every one that the Avvaeans removed to Samaria by Esarhaddon were inhabitants of the kingdom of Avva destroyed by the Assyrian king, and the form עוּה is probably simply connected with the appellative explanation given to the word by the Masoretes. As Ivvh is placed by the side of Henah in 2 Kings 18:34 and 2 Kings 19:13, Avva can hardly by any other than the country of Hebeh, situated on the Euphrates between Anah and the Chabur (M. v. Niebuhr, p. 167). Hamath is Epiphania on the Orontes: see at 1 Kings 8:65 and Numbers 13:21. Sepharvaim is no doubt the Sippara (Σιπφάρα) of Ptolem. (v. 18, 7), the southernmost city of Mesopotamia on the Euphrates, above the Nahr Malca, the Ἡλιούπολις ἐν Σιππάροισιν or Σιππαρεενῶν πόλις, which Berosus and Abydenus mention (in Euseb. Praepar, evang. ix. 12 and 41, and Chronic. Armen. i. pp. 33, 36, 49, 55) as belonging to the time of the flood. - שׁמרון: this is the first time in which the name is evidently applied to the kingdom of Samaria.

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