And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Statutes of the heathen . . . and of the kings of Israel.—The national guilt was twofold. It comprised: (1) idolatry in the strict sense—i.e., worship of other gods than Jehovah; (2) a heathenish mode of worshipping Jehovah Himself—namely, under the form of a bullock, as Jeroboam I. had ordained. The term “statutes” means religious rules or ordinances. (Comp. Exodus 12:14, “statutes;” Leviticus 20:23, “manners;” 1Kings 3:3, “ordinance.”)
Which they had made—i.e., the statutes which the kings of Israel had made. (Comp. 2Kings 17:19 b.)2 Kings 17:8-9. And walked in the statutes of the heathen — According to their laws and customs in the worship of their Baals, and other of their sins. And of the kings of Israel, which statutes they had made — Had ordained concerning the worship of the calves, and against their going up to Jerusalem to worship. And the children of Israel did secretly, &c. — This belongs, either, 1st, To their gross idolatries, and other abominable practices, which they were ashamed to own before others; or, 2d, To the worship of the calves, and so the words are otherwise rendered, They covered things that were not right toward the Lord: they covered their idolatrous worship of the calves with fair pretences of necessity, the two kingdoms being now divided, and at enmity; and of their honest intention of serving the true God, and retaining the substance of the Jewish religion. From the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city — In all parts and places, both in cities and in the country; yea, in the most uninhabited parts, where few or none dwelt besides the watch-men, who were left there in towers, to preserve the cattle and fruits of the earth, or to give notice of the approach of enemies.Exodus 20:2-3. The writer subdivides the idolatries of the Israelites into two classes, pagan and native - those which they adopted from the nations whom they drove out, and those which their own kings imposed on them. Under the former head would come the great mass of the idolatrous usages described in 2 Kings 17:9-11, 2 Kings 17:17; "the high places" 2 Kings 17:9, 2 Kings 17:11; the "images" and "groves" 2 Kings 17:10; the causing of their children to "pass through the fire" 2 Kings 17:17; and the "worship of the host of heaven" 2 Kings 17:16 : under the latter would fall the principal points in 2 Kings 17:12, 2 Kings 17:16, 2 Kings 17:21.
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.In the statutes of the heathen, i.e. according to the laws and customs of the heathen, in the worship of their Baals, and other of their sins. Which they had made, i.e. which the kings of Israel had ordained concerning the worship of the calves, and against their going up to Jerusalem to worship. Leviticus 18:3. And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. and walked in the statutes of the heathen] The book of Judges is full of instances of the way in which the people again and again fell away to the practices of the Canaanites (cf. Jdg 2:11-13).
and of the kings of Israel, which they had [R.V. omits had] made] i.e. In the statutes of the kings of Israel. Such are the ordinances of Jeroboam the son of Nebat about the calves in Dan and Bethel, and the worship of Baal, which Ahab and Jezebel introduced.Verse 8. - And walked in the statutes of the heathen. The" statutes of the heathen" are their customs and observances, especially in matters of religion. The Israelites had been repeatedly warned not to follow these (see Leviticus 18:3, 30; Deuteronomy 12:29-31; Deuteronomy 18:9-14, etc.). Whom the Lord east out from before the children of Israel - i.e. the Canaanitish nations, whose idolatries and other "abominations" were particularly hateful to God (see Leviticus 18:26-29; Deuteronomy 20:18; Deuteronomy 29:17; Deuteronomy 32:16, etc.) - and of the kings of Israel. The sins and idolatries of Israel had a double origin. The great majority were derived from the heathen nations with whom they were brought into contact, and were adopted voluntarily by the people themselves. Of this kind were the worship at "high places" (ver. 9), the "images" and "groves" (ver. 10), the causing of their children to "pass through the fire" (ver. 17), the employment of divination and enchantments (ver. 17), and perhaps the "worship of the host of heaven" (ver. 16). A certain number, however, came in from a different source, being imposed upon the people by their kings. To this class belong the desertion of the temple-worship, enforced by Jeroboam (vex. 21), the setting up of the calves at Dan and Bethel (ver. 16) by the same, and the Baal and Astarte worship (ver. 16), introduced by Ahab. This last and worst idolatry was not established without a good deal of persecution, as we learn from 1 Kings 18:4. Which they had made. 2 Kings 17:1. In the twelfth year of Ahaz began Hoshea to reign. As Hoshea conspired against Pekah, according to 2 Kings 15:30, in the fourth year of Ahaz, and after murdering him made himself king, whereas according to the verse before us it was not till the twelfth year of Ahaz that he really became king, his possession of the throne must have been contested for eight years. The earlier commentators and almost all the chronologists have therefore justly assumed that there was en eight years' anarchy between the death of Pekah and the commencement of Hoshea's reign. This assumption merits the preference above all the attempts made to remove the discrepancy by alterations of the text, since there is nothing at all surprising in the existence of anarchy at a time when the kingdom was in a state of the greatest inward disturbance and decay. Hoshea reigned nine years, and "did that which was evil in the eyes of Jehovah, though not like the kings of Israel before him" (2 Kings 17:2). We are not told in what Hoshea was better than his predecessors, nor can it be determined with any certainty, although the assumption that he allowed his subjects to visit the temple at Jerusalem is a very probable one, inasmuch as, according to 2 Chronicles 30:10., Hezekiah invited to the feast of the Passover, held at Jerusalem, the Israelites from Ephraim and Manasseh as far as to Zebulun, and some individuals from these tribes accepted his invitation. But although Hoshea was better than his predecessors, the judgment of destruction burst upon the sinful kingdom and people in his reign, because he had not truly turned to the Lord; a fact which has been frequently repeated in the history of the world, namely, that the last rulers of a decaying kingdom have not been so bad as their forefathers. "God is accustomed to defer the punishment of the elders in the greatness of His long-suffering, to see whether their descendants will come to repentance; but if this be not the case, although they may not be so bad, the anger of God proceeds at length to visit iniquity (cf. Exodus 20:5)." Seb. Schmidt.
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