In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.
Verse 1. - In the twelfth year of Ahaz King of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria. In 2 Kings 15:30 Hoshea was said to have smitten Pekah and slain him, and become king in his stead, "in the twentieth year of Jotham." This has been supposed to mean "in the twentieth year from the accession of Jotham," or, in other words, in the fourth year of Ahaz, since Jotham reigned only sixteen years (2 Kings 15:33). But now the beginning of his reign is placed eight years later. An interregnum of this duration has been placed by some between Pekah and Doshea; but this is contradicted by 2 Kings 15:30, and also by an inscription of Tiglath-pileser ('Eponym Canon,' pp. 123,124, lines 17, 18). If Ahaz reigned sixteen years, the present statement would seem to be correct, and the former one wrong. Hoshea's accession may be confidently dated as in B.C. 730. Nine years (comp. 2 Kings 18:10). It is certain that Hoshea's reign came to an end in the first year of Sargon, B.C. 722, from which to B.C. 730 would be eight complete, or nine incomplete, years.
And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him.
Verse 2. - And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. Hoshea's general attitude towards Jehovah was much the same as that of former kings of Israel. De maintained the calf-worship, leant upon "arms of flesh," and turned a deaf ear to the teaching of the prophets e.g, Hoshea and Micah, who addressed their warnings to him. But he was not guilty of any special wickedness - he set up no new idolatry; he seems to have allowed his subjects, if they pleased, to attend the festival worship at Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 30:11, 18). The rabbis add that when the golden calf of Bethel had been carried off by the Assyrians in one of their incursions, he did not replace it ('Seder Olam,' 2 Kings 22.); but it is not at all clear that the image was carried away until Hoshea's reign was over (see Dr. Pusey's comment on Barnes' NotesHosea 10:6 in his ' Minor Prophets,' p. 64).
Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.
Verse 3. - Against him came up Shal-maneser King of Assyria. Shalmaneser's succession to Tiglath-pileser on the throne of Assyria, once doubted, is now rendered certain by the Eponym Canon, which makes him ascend the throne in B.C. 727, and cease to reign in B.C. 722. It is uncertain whether he was Tiglath-pileser's son or a usurper. The name, Shalmaneser (Sali-manu-uzur) was an old royal name in Assyria, and signified "Shalman protects" (compare the names Nabu-kudur-uzur, Nergal-asar-uzur, Nabu-pal-uzur, etc.). And Hoshea became his servant. Hoshea had been placed on the throne by Tiglath-pileser ('Eponym Canon,' pp. 123, 124, lines 17,18), and had paid him tribute (ibid., lines 18, 19). We must suppose that on Tiglath-pileser's death, in B.C. 727, he had revolted, and resumed his independence. Shalmaneser. having become king, probably came up against Hoshea in the same year, and forced him to resume his position of Assyrian tributary. This may have been the time when "Shalman spoiled Beth-Arbel in the day of battle" (Dos. 10:14), defeating Hoshea near that place (Arbela, now Irbid, in Galilee), and taking it. And gave him presents; or, rendered him tribute, as in the margin of the Authorized Version.
And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.
Verse 4. - And the King of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So, King of Egypt. We learn from the Prophet Hosea that the expediency of calling in Egypt as a counterpoise to Assyria had long been in the thoughts of those who directed the policy of the Israelite state (see Hosea 7:11; Hosea 12:1, etc.). Now at last the plunge was taken. An Ethiopian dynasty of some strength and vigor had possession of Egypt, and held its court during some part of the year at Memphis (Hosea 9:6). The king who occupied the throne was called Shabak or Shebek - a name which the Greeks represented by Sabakos or Sevechus, and the Hebrews by סוא. (The original vocalization of this word was probably סֵוֶא, Seveh; but in later times this vocalization was lost, and the Masorites pointed the word as סוא, Soh or So). The Assyrians knew the king as Sibakhi, and contended with him under Sargon. Hoshea now sent an embassy to this monarch's court, requesting his alliance and his support against the great Asiatic power by which the existence of all the petty states of Western Asia was threatened. Shalmaneser was at the time endeavoring to capture Tyro, and Hoshea might reasonably fear that, when Tyre was taken, his own turn would come. It is not clear how Shabak received Hoshea's overtures; but we may, perhaps, assume that it was with favor, since otherwise Hoshea would scarcely have ventured to withhold his tribute, as he seems to have done. It must have been in reliance on "the strength of Egypt" that he ventured to brave the anger of Assyria. And brought no present - or, sent no tribute - to the King of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the King of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. The ultimate result is mentioned at once, before the steps by which it was accomplished are related. Shalmaneser did not "summon Hoshea before his presence to listen to his explanations," and then, "as soon as he came, take him prisoner, put him in chains, and imprison him" (as Ewald thinks), but simply declared war, invaded Hoshea's country, besieged him in his capital, and ultimately, when he surrendered, consigned him to a prison, as Nebuchadnezzar afterwards did Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:15; 2 Kings 25:27). Otherwise Hoshea's reign would have come to an end in his sixth or seventh, and not in his ninth year.
Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.
Verse 5. - Then the King of Assyria - rather, and the King of Assyria - came up throughout all the land - i.e., with an army that spread itself at once over the whole land, that came to conquer, not merely to strike a blow, and obtain submission, as on the former occasion (see ver. 3, and the comment) - and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. From some time in Hoshea's seventh year (2 Kings 18:9) to some time in his ninth (2 Kings 18:10). According to the Hebrew mode of reckoning, parts of years are counted as years; and thus the siege need not have lasted much over a year, though it may have been extended to nearly three years. In either case, there was ample time for Shabak to have brought up his forces, had he been so minded; and his failure to do so, or in any way to succor his ally, showed how little reliance was to be placed on Egyptian promises (comp. 2 Kings 18:21).
In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
Verse 6. - In the ninth year of Hoshea the wing of Assyria took Samaria. In B.C. 722, the ninth year of Hoshea, there seems to have been a revolution at Nineveh. The reign of Shalmaneser came to an end, and Sargon seated himself upon the throne. There have been commentators on Kings (Keil, Bahr) who have supposed that Shalmaneser and Sargon were the same person, and have even claimed that the Assyrian inscriptions support their view. But the fact is otherwise. Nothing is more certain than that, according to them, Sargon succeeded Shalmaneser IV. in B.C. 722 by a revolution, and was the head of a new dynasty. He claims in his annals, among his earliest acts, the siege and capture of Samaria ('Eponym Canon,' p. 125). It is remarkable that Scripture, while in no way connecting him with the capture, never distinctly assigns it to Shalmaneser. Here we are only told that "the King of Assyria" took it. In 2 Kings 18:9, 10, where we are distinctly told that Shalmaneser "came up against Samaria, and besieged it," the capture is expressed by the phrase, "they took it," not "he took it." Perhaps neither king was present in person at the siege, or, at any rate, at its termination. The city may have been taken by an Assyrian general, while Shalmaneser and Sargon were contending for the crown. In that case, the capture might be assigned to either. Sargon certainly claims it; Shalmaneser's annals have been so mutilated by his successors that we cannot tell whether he claimed it or not. The city fell in B.C. 722; and the deportation of its inhabitants at once took place. And carried Israel away into Assyria. The inscription of Sargon above referred to mentions only the deportation, from the city of Samaria itself, of 27,290 persons. No doubt a vast number of others were carried off from the smaller towns and from the country districts. Still, the country was not left uninhabited, and Sargon assessed its tribute at the old rate ('Eponym Canon,' l.s.c.). Nor was the cry of Samaria destroyed, since we hear of it subsequently more than once in the Assyrian annals. And placed them in Halah. "Halah" (חֲלַה) has been supposed by some to be the old Assyrian city (Genesis 10:11) of Calah (כָּלַח), which was, down to the' time of Tiglath-pileser, the main capital; but the difference of spelling is an objection, and the Assyrians do not seem to have ever transported subject-populations to their capitals. It is moreover reasonable to suppose that Halah, Habor, Gozan, and Hara (1 Chronicles 5:26) were in the same neighborhood. This last consideration points to the "Chalcitis" of Ptolemy (5. 18) as the true "Halah," since it was in the immediate vicinity of the Khabour, of Gauzanitis, and of Haran. And in Habor by the river of Gozan. This is a mistranslation. The Hebrew runs, "And on Habor (Khabor), the river of Gozan" (so also in 2 Kings 18:11). "Habor, the river of Gozan," is undoubtedly one of the Khabours. Those who find Halah in Calah, or in Calacine (Calachene), generally prefer the eastern river which runs into the Tigris from Kurdistan a little below Jezireh. But there is no evidence that rids river bore the name in antiquity. The Western Khabour, on the other hand, was well known to the Assyrians under that appellation, and is the Aborrhas of Strabo and Procopius, the Chaboras of Pliny and Ptolemy, the Aburas of Isadore of Charax, and the Abora of Zosimus. It adjoins a district called Chalcitis, and it drains the country of Gauzanitis or Mygdonia. The Western Khabour is a river of Upper Mesopotamia, and runs into the Euphrates from the northeast near the site of the ancient Circesion. The tract which it drains is called Mygdonia by Strabo, Gauzanitis by Ptolemy. And in the cities of the Medes. Media had been repeatedly invaded and ravaged by the Assyrians from the time of Vulnirari IV. (about B.C. 810); but the first king to conquer any portion of it, and people its cities with settlers from other parts of his dominions, was Sargon (Oppert, ' Inscriptions des Sargonides,' pp. 25, 37). We learn from the present passage that a certain number of these settlers were Israelites (comp. 2 Kings 18:11 and Tobit 1:14).
For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,
The provocations which induced God to destroy the Israelite kingdom. Here, for once, the writer ceases to be the mere historian, and becomes the religious teacher and prophet, drawing out the lessons of history, and justifying the ways of God to man. As Bahr says, he "does not carry on the narrative as taken from the original authorities, but himself here begins a review of the history and fate of Israel, which ends with ver. 23, and forms an independent section by itself." The section divides itself into four portions:
(1) From ver. 7 to ver. 12, a general statement of Israel's wickedness;
(2) from ver. 13 to ver. 15, a special aggravation of their guilt, viz. their rejection of prophets;
(3) vers: 16 and 17 contain a specification of their chief acts of sin; and
(4) from ver. 18 to ver. 23, a general summary, including some words of warning to Judah. Verse 7. - For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God; rather, And it came to pass, when, etc. The clauses from the present to the end of ver. 17 depend on the "when" of this verse; the apodosis does not come till ver. 18, "When the children of Israel had done all that is stated in vers. 7-17, then the result was that the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight." Which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt. So commencing his long series of mercies to the nation, and indicating his gracious favor towards it. "The deliverance from Egypt," as Bahr well says, "was not only the beginning, but the symbol, of all Divine grace towards Israel, and the pledge of its Divine guidance." Hence the stress laid upon it, both here and by the Prophet Hoses (comp. Hosea 11:1; Hosea 12:9, 13; Hosea 13:4). From under the hand - i.e. the oppression - of Pharaoh King of Egypt, and had feared other gods; i.e. reverenced and worshipped them.
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.
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.
And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.
Verse 9. - And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God. Most of the evil practices of the Israelites were open and flagrant, but some sought the veil of secrecy, as the use of divination and enchantments (ver. 17). It is doubtful, however, whether the Hebrew words have the signification assigned to them in the Authorized Version. They may mean no more than that the Israelites made their evil deeds a barrier between themselves and God. And they built them high places in an their cities (comp. 1 Kings 14:23). "In all their cities" is probably rhetorical; but the gist of the charge is that, instead of keeping to the one temple and one altar commanded by God for the conservation of their belief in his unity, the Israelites "erected places of worship all over the country, after the fashion of the heathen" (Bahr), and so at once depraved their own faith, and ceased to be a perpetual protest to the surrounding nations. From the tower of the watchman to the fenced city; i.e. from the smallest and most solitary place of human abode to the largest and most populous (comp. 2 Kings 18:8). The expression was no doubt proverbial, and (as used here) is a strong hyperbole.
And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:
Verse 10. - And they set them up images; rather, pillars (comp. Gem 28:18, 22; 31:13, 45, 51, 52; 35:14, 20; Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 12:3; 2 Samuel 18:18, where the same word is so rendered). The matse voth were stone pillars, anciently connected with the worship of Baal, but in Judah perhaps used in a debased and debasing worship of Jehovah with self-invented rites, instead of those which had the express sanction of God, being commanded in the Law (see the 'Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 1.p. 417). And groves (compare the comment on 1 Kings 14:14 and
And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the LORD carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger:
Verse 11. - And there they burnt incense in all the high places (comp. 1 Kings 3:3; 1 Kings 22:43; 2 Kings 12:3; 2 Kings 14:4; 2 Kings 15:4, 35; 2 Kings 16:4). Incense symbolized prayer (Psalm 141:2), and ought to have been burnt only on the golden altar of incense within the veil. As did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them. The offering of incense to their gods by the Canaanitish nations had not been previously mentioned; but the use of incense in religious worship was so widely spread in the ancient world, that their employment of it might have been assumed as almost certain. The Egyptians used incense largely in the worship of Ammon ('Records of the Past,' vol. 10. p. 19). The Babylonians burnt a thousand talents' weight of it every year at the great festival of Bel-Merodach (Herod., 1:183). The Greeks and Romans offered it with every sacrifice. And wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger (see below, vers. 15-17).
For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.
Verse 12. - For they served idols; rather, and they served idols. The sense flows on from ver. 7, each verso being joined to the preceding one by the van connective. Gillulim, the term translated "idols," is a word rarely used, except by Ezekiel, with whom it is common. "It contains," as Bahr says, "a subordinate contemptuous and abusive signification;" the primary meaning of galal being "dung," "ordure." Whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing (see Exodus 20:4, 5, 23; Deuteronomy 4:16-18, etc.).
Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.
Verse 13. - Yet the Lord testified - rather, and the Lord testified - against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers. A "seer" is, properly, one who sees visions; a "prophet," one inspired to pour forth utterances. But the words were used as synonyms (see 1 Samuel 9:9). Ever since the revolt of Jeroboam, there had been a succession of prophets in both countries whose office it had been to rebuke sin and to enforce the precepts of the Law. In Judah there had been Shemaiah, contemporary with Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:2; 2 Chronicles 12:5); Iddo, contemporary with Abijah (2 Chronicles 13:22); Azariah, with Asa (2 Chronicles 15:1); Hanani, with the same (2 Chronicles 16:7); Jehu, the son of Hanani, with Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 19:2); Jahaziel, the son of Zechariah, with the same (2 Chronicles 20:14); Eliezer, the son of Dodavah, also contemporary with the same (2 Chronicles 20:37); Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, contemporary with Joash (2 Chronicles 24:20); another Zechariah, contemporary with Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:5); Joel, Micah, and Isaiah, besides several whose names are unknown. In Israel, the succession had included Ahijah the Shilonite, contemporary with Jeroboam (1 Kings 14:2); Jehu, the son of Hanani, with Baasha (1 Kings 16:1); Elijah, and Micaiah the son of Imlah, with Ahab (1 Kings 22:8) and Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:3); Elisha, with Jehoram, John, Jehoahaz, and Joash (2 Kings 3:11-13:14); Jonah, with Jeroboam II. (2 Kings 14:25); Hosea and Amos, with the same (Hosea 1:1; Amos 1:1): and Oded (2 Chronicles 28:9), contemporary with Pekah. God had never left himself without living witness. Besides the written testimony of the Law, he had sent them a continuous series of prophets, who "repeated and enforced the teaching of the Law by word of month, breathing into the old words a new life, applying them to the facts of their own times, urging them on the con- sciences of their hearers, and authoritatively declaring to them that the terrible threatenings of the Law were directed against the very sins which they habitually practiced." The prophets continually addressed them in the Name of God, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the Law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. This was the general burden of the prophetical teaching, both in Israel and in Judah, both before the captivity of Israel and afterwards (see Hosea 12:6; Hosea 14:2; Joel 2:12, 13; Amos 5:4-15; Isaiah 1:16-20; Isaiah 31:6; Jeremiah 3:7, 14; Ezekiel 14:6; Ezekiel 18:30, etc.).
Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God.
Verse 14. - Notwithstanding they would not hear; rather, and they would not hear. The construction still runs on without any change (see the comment on vers. 7 and 12). But hardened their necks. (On the origin of the phrase, see 'Homiletic Commentary' on Exodus 32:9.) The obstinate perversity of the Israelites, which the phrase expresses, is noted through the entire history (see Exodus 33:3, 5; Exodus 34:9; Deuteronomy 9:6, 13; Psalm 75:5; 2 Chronicles 30:8; 2 Chronicles 36:13; Nehemiah 9:16, 17, 29; Jeremiah 7:26; Jeremiah 17:23; Acts 7:51, etc.). Like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God. The reference is especially to the many passages in the Pentateuch where the Israelites are called "a stiff-necked people" (see, besides those already quoted, Deuteronomy 31:27).
And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.
Verse 15. - And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers. The covenant made at Sinai, first by the people generally (Exodus 19:5-8), and then by their formal representatives (Exodus 24:3-8), was, on their part, a solemn promise that "all which the Lord commanded them they would do." Rejecting the "statutes" of God was thus rejecting the "covenant." And his testimonies which he testified against them. The "testimonies" of God are his commandments, considered as witnessing of him and setting forth his nature. The use of the term is common in Deuteronomy and in the Psalms, but otherwise rare. And they followed vanity, and became vain. False gods are "vanity;" false religions are "vanity;" there is nothing firm or substantial about them; they belong to the realm of futility and nothingness. And the followers of such religions derive weakness from them - they "become vain " - i.e. weak, futile, impotent. Their energies are wasted; they effect nothing of that which they wish to effect; they are completely powerless for good, at any rate; and they are not really powerful for evil. Their plans, for the most part, miscarry; and "their end is destruction." And went after the heathen that were round about them. Upon a neglect to keep God's commandments follows active revolt from him, and the doing of that which he has forbidden. When they rejected God's statutes, the Israelites adopted "the statutes of the heathen" (ver. 8), and "walked in them." Concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them (see above, ver. 12, and compare the comment on ver. 8).
And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.
Verses 16, 17. - The main sins of Israel are now specified, that they themselves may stand self-convicted, and that others may be warned against doing the like. First, generally. Verse 16. - They left all the commandments of the Lord their God; i.e. neglected them, rendered them no obedience, offered none of the stated sacrifices, attended none of the appointed feasts, broke the moral law (Hosea 4:1, 2, 11; Hosea 7:1, etc.) by swearing, and lying, and stealing, and committing adultery, by drunkenness, and lewdness, and bloodshed. And made them molten images, even two calves. These at least were undeniable - there they were at Dan and Bethel, until the Captivity came (Hosea 8:5; Hosea 10:5, 6; Hosea 13:2; Amos 8:14), worshipped, sworn by (Amos 8:14), viewed as living gods (Amos 8:14), offered to, trusted in. Every king had upheld them, so that Bethel was regarded as "the king's court," and "the king's chapel" (Amos 7:13); all the people were devoted to them, and "brought their sacrifices to Bethel every morning" (Amos 4:4), "and their tithes after three years." And made a grove. The "grove "(asherah) which Ahab set up at Samaria (1 Kings 16:38), and which remained there certainly to the time of Jehoahaz (see the comment on 2 Kings 13:6). And worshipped all the host of heaven. This worship had not been mentioned before; and it is nowhere else ascribed to the Israelites of the northern kingdom. Manasseh seems to have introduced it into Judah (2 Kings 21:3; 2 Kings 23:5, 11). Such knowledge as we have of the Western Asiatic religions seems to indicate that astral worship, strictly so called, was a peculiarity of the Assyro-Babylonian and Arabian systems only, and did not belong to the Syrian, or the Phoenician, or the Canaanite. It may be suspected that the present passage is somewhat rhetorical, and assigns to the Israelites the "worship of the host of heaven," simply because an astral character attached to Baal and Ashtoreth, who were associated in the religion of the Phoenicians with the sun and moon. On the ether hand, it is just possible that the Assyro-Babylonian star-worship had been introduced into Israel under Menahem, Pekah, or Hoshea. And served Baal. The Baal-worship, introduced by Ahab (1 Kings 16:31), was not finally abolished by Jehu (2 Kings 10:28). Like other popular religions, it had a revival Hosea, writing under the later kings from Jeroboam II. to Hoshea, alludes to the Baal-worship (Hosea 2:8, 17) as continuing.
And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
Verse 17. - And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire. (On this phrase, see the comment upon 2 Kings 16:3.) The sin of child-murder had not Been previously laid to the charge of Israel; but, as it had infected Judah (2 Kings 16:3), there is no reason why it should not have invaded also the sister kingdom. Perhaps it is alluded to by Hosea 4:2; Hosea 5:2; and Hosea 6:8. It was an old sin of the Canaanitish nations (Leviticus 18:21, etc.), and continued to be practiced by the Moabites (2 Kings 3:27; Amos 2:1) and Ammonites, neighbors of Israel. And used divination and enchantments. The "witchcrafts" of Jezebel have been already mentioned (2 Kings 9:22). Magical practices always accompanied idolatry, and were of many kinds. Sometimes divination was by means of staves or rods (rhabdomancy), which were manipulated in various ways (Herod., 4:67; Schol. ad Nicandr., 'Theriac.,' 613; Tacit., 'German.,' § 10; Atom. Marc., 31:2; Hosea 4:12). Sometimes it was by arrows (Ezekiel 21:21). Very often, especially in Greece and Rome, it was by inspecting the entrails of victims. Where faith in God wanes, a trust in magical practices, astrology, chiromancy, "sertes Virgilianae," horoscopes, spirit-rapping, and the like, almost always supervenes. And sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. (On the expression, "sold themselves to do evil," see the comment upon 1 Kings 21:20.)
Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.
Verse 18. - Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel; rather, that then the Lord was very angry, etc. We have here the apodosis of the long sentence beginning with ver. 7 and continuing to the end of ver. 17. When all that is enumerated in these verses had taken place, then the Lord was moved to anger against Israel, then matters had reached a crisis, the cup of their iniquity was full, and God's wrath, long restrained, descended on them. And removed them out of his sight. Removal out of God's sight is loss of his favor and of his care. "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous" (Psalm 34:15) - he "knoweth their way," "watcheth ever them" (Jeremiah 31:28), "careth for them" (Psalm 146:8); but "the countenance of the Lord is against them [averted from them] who do evil" (Psalm 34:16). He will not look upon them nor hear them. There was none left but the tribe of Judah only. The "tribe of Judah" stands for the kingdom of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin (see 1 Kings 11:31-36; 1 Kings 12:23; '2 Chronicles 17:14-18), into which the greater part of Dan and Simeon had also been absorbed. This became now, exclusively, God's "peculiar people," the object of his love and of his care. The writer, it must be remembered, belongs to the period of the Captivity, and is not speaking of the restored Israel.
Also Judah kept not the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.
Verse 19. - Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God. The sharp contrast which the writer has drawn between Israel and Judah in ver. 18 reminds him that the difference was only for a time. Judah followed in Israel's sins, and ultimately shared in her punishment. This verso and the next are parenthetic. But walked in the statutes of Israel which they made; i.e. followed Israel in all her evil courses, first in her Baal-worship, under Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah; then in her other malpractices under Ahaz (2 Kings 16:3, 4), Manasseh (2 Kings 21:2-9), and Amen (2 Kings 21:20-22). Of course, the calf-worship is excepted, Judah having no temptation to follow Israel in that.
And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight.
Verse 20. - And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel. God is no respecter of persons. As he had rejected the ten tribes on account of certain transgressions, which have been enumerated (vers. 8-17), so, when Judah committed the self-same sins, and transgressed equally, Judah had equally to be rejected. "All the seed of Israel" is the entire nation - Israel in the widest sense, made up of Judah and of Israel in the narrow sense. So Keil, rightly. And afflicted them - by the hands of Sargon, and Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon (2 Chronicles 33:11), and Pharaoh-Nechoh, and others - and delivered them into the hands of spoilers. The "spoilers" intended are probably, first, the "bands of the Chaldees, and of the Syrians, and of the Moabites, and of the children of Ammon," who were let loose upon Judaea by Nebuchadnezzar when Jehoiakim rebelled against him (2 Kings 24:2), and secondly Nebuchadnezzar himself and Nebuzaradan, who completed the spoliation of the country, and plundered Jerusalem itself, to punish the revolts of Jehoiachid and Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:13-16 and 2 Kings 25:8-21), when all the treasures of the temple were carried off. Until he had cast them out of his sight; i.e. until he had punished Judah as he had previously punished Israel (ver. 18), which was what justice required.
For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the LORD, and made them sin a great sin.
Verse 21. - For he rent; rather, for he had rent. The nexus of the verse is with ver. 18. The difference between the fates of Israel and Judah - the survival of Judah for a hundred and thirty-four years - is traced back to the separation under Rehoboam, and to the wicked policy which Jeroboam then pursued, and left as a legacy to his successors. Israel could suffer alone, while Judah was spared, because the kingdom of David and Solomon had been rent in twain, and the two states had thenceforth continued separate. Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the Lord. The separation alone might not have had any ill result; but it was followed by the appointment of Jeroboam as king, and Jeroboam introduced the fatal taint of idolatry, from which all the other evils flowed, including the earlier destruction of the northern kingdom. Jeroboam not only introduced the worship of the calves, but he "drave Israel from following the Lord " - i.e. compelled the people to discontinue the practice of going up to worship at Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 11:13-16), and required them to take part in the calf-worship. And [thus] made them sin a great sin.
For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them;
Verse 22. - For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did. The nation, having been once persuaded to adopt Jeroboam's innovations, continued to "walk" in them - followed Jeroboam's example in "all his sins" - gave up the temple-worship altogether; accepted the ministrations of priests not of the seed of Aaron (1 Kings 13:33; 2 Chronicles 13:9); brought their tithes to these idol-priests; sacrificed to the calves at Dan and Bethel (Amos 4:4); and put their trust in the "similitude of a calf that eateth hay." They departed not from them (comp. 1 Kings 15:26, 34; 1 Kings 16:2, 19, 26, 31; 2 Kings 3:3; 2 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 13:6, 11; 2 Kings 14:24; 2 Kings 15:9, 18, 28).
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.
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.
And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.
Verses 24-41. - Re-peopling of the kingdom of Israel by Assyrian colonists, and formation of a mixed religion. The writer, before dismissing the subject of the Israelite kingdom, proceeds to inform us of certain results of the conquest. Having removed the bulk of the native inhabitants, the Assyrians did not allow the country to lie waste, but proceeded to replace the population which they had carried off by settlers from other localities (ver. 24). These settlers were, after a short time, incommoded by lions, which increased upon them, and diminished their numbers (ver. 25). The idea arose that the visitation was supernatural, and might be traced to the fact that the newcomers, not knowing "the manner of the God of the land," displeased him by the neglect of his rites or by the introduction of alien worship (ver. 26). A remedy for this was sought in the sending to them from Assyria one of the priests who had been carried off, from whom it was thought they might learn how "the God of the land" was to be propitiated. This was the orion of the "mixed religion" which grew up in the country. While the nations who had replaced the Israelites brought in their own superstitions, and severally worshipped their own gods (vers. 30, 31), there was a general acknowledgment of Jehovah by all of them, and a continuance of Jehovistic worship in the various high places. The nations both "feared the Lord, and served their graven images," down to the time when the writer of Kings composed his work (vers. 33-41). Verse 24. - And the King of Assyria brought men from Babylon. It has been supposed, in connection with Ezra 4:2, that no colonists were introduced into the country till the time of Esarhaddon, who began to reign in B.C. 681. But this, which would be intrinsically most improbable (for when did a king forego his tribute from a fertile country for forty-one years?), is contradicted by a statement of Sargon, that he placed colonists there in B.C. 715 ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. it. p. 415). These were not necessarily the first; and, on the whole, it is probable that the re-peopling of the country begun earlier. Hamath was reduced by Sargon in B.C. 720, and punished severely. Its inhabitants were carried off, and replaced by Assyrians ('Eponym Canon,' p. 127). Probably some of them were at once settled in Samaria. The conquest of Babylon by Sargon was not till later. It occurred in B.C. 709, and was probably followed by the immediate deportation of some of its inhabitants to the same quarter. And from Cuthah. "Cuthah," or "Cutha," was an important Babylonian city, often mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions ('Records of the Past,' vol. 1. pp. 74, 75; vol. 3. p. 35; vol. 5. pp. 93, 94, 102). Its ruins exist at the site now called Ibrahim, about fifteen miles northeast of Babylon. Sargon must have become master of it when he put down Merodach-Baladan and assumed the sovereignty of Babylonia, in B.C. 709. Why the later Jews called the Samaritans "Cuthaeans," rather than Sepharvites, or Avites, or Hamathites, it is impossible to determine. Possibly the Cuthaean settlers preponderated in numbers ever the others. And from Ava. "Ava" (עוא) is probably the same as the Ivah (עוה) of 2 Kings 18:34 and 2 Kings 19:13, and perhaps identical with the Ahava (אהוא) of Ezra (Ezra 8:15, 21). The city intended is thought to be the "Is" of Herodotus (1. 179), and the modern Hit. Hit lies upon the Euphrates, about a hundred and thirty miles above Babylon, in lat. 33° 45' nearly. It is famous for its bitumen springs. And from Hamath (see the comment on 2 Kings 14:25). Hamath on the Orontes was conquered by Sargon in B.C. 720, two years after his capture of Samaria ('Eponym Canon,' pp. 126-128). Its rude inhabitants were carried off, and Assyrians were placed there. And from Sepharvaim. It is generally allowed that "Sepharvaim" is "Sippara," the dual form being accounted for by the fact that Sippara was a double town, partly on the right and partly on the left bank of a stream derived from the Euphrates. Hence Pliny speaks of it as "oppida Hipparenorum" ('Hist. Nat.,' 6:30). The exact site, at Abu-Habba, sixteen miles southwest of Baghdad, has only recently been discovered (see the 'Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology' for 1885, vol. 8. pp. 172-176). And placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. Transplantation of nations, commenced by Tiglath-pileser, was practiced on a still larger scale by Sargon. The following summary will illustrate this point: "In all his wars Sargon largely employed the system of wholesale deportation. The Israelites were removed from Samaria, and planted partly in Gozan or Mygdonia, and partly in the cities recently taken from the Medes. Hamath and Damascus were peopled with captives from Armenia and other regions of the north. A portion of the Tibareni were carried captive to Assyria, and Assyrians were established in the Tibarenian country. Vast numbers of the inhabitants of the Zagros range were also transported to Assyria; Babylonians, Cuthaeans, Sapharrites, Arabians, and others were placed in Samaria; men from the extreme east (perhaps Media) in Ashdod. The Comukha were removed from the extreme north to Susiana, and Chaldaeans were brought from the extreme south to supply their places. Everywhere Sargon 'changed the abodes' of his subjects, his aim being, as it would seem, to weaken the stronger races by dispersion, and to destroy the spirit of the weaker ones by severing at a blow all the links which unite a patriotic people to the country it has long inhabited. The practice had not been unknown to previous monarchs; but it had never been employed by any of them so generally or on so grand a scale as it was by this king" (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. it. p. 423).
And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them.
Verse 25. - And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord. They were ignorant, i.e., of Jehovah, and paid him no religious regard. They brought with them their own forms of heathenism (see vers. 30, 31). Therefore the Lord sent lions among them. Lions are not now found in Palestine, nor indeed in any part of Syria, though they are numerous in Mesopotamia; but anciently they appear to have been tolerably common in all parts of the Holy Land (see the comment on 1 Kings 13:24). We may gather from what is said here that, though new settlers had been brought into the country by the Assyrians, yet still there had been a considerable decrease in the population, which had been favorable to the lions multiplying. The new settlers, it is to be noted, were placed in the towns (ver. 24); and it is probable that many of the country districts lay waste and desolate. Still, the writer views the great increase in the number of the lions as a Divine judgment, which it may have been, though based upon a natural circumstance. Which slew some of them. (For the great boldness of the Palestinian lion, see 1 Kings 13:24; 1 Kings 20:36; Proverbs 22:13; Isaiah 31:4; Isaiah 38:13; Jeremiah 5:6, etc.)
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.
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.
Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.
Verse 27. - Then the King of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence. It does not appear that this was a suggestion of the colonists. Either it was the king's own idea, or that of one of his advisers. The priests, who ministered at the two national sanctuaries - those of Dan and Bethel - had, as important personages, been all carried off. Though a "remnant" of Israel was left in the land (2 Chronicles 34:9), they were probably of the baser sort (comp. 2 Kings 25:12), or at any rate could not be trusted to know the details and intricacies of the Samaritan ritual. Thus it was necessary to send back a priest. And let them go and dwell there. We should have expected, "Let him go;" but the writer assumes that the priest would have an entourage, assistant-ministers and servants, and so says, "Let them go;" but immediately afterwards, And let him teach - since he alone would be competent - them the manner of the God of the land.
Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.
Verse 28. - Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria - the country, not the city, as in vers. 24 and 25 - came and dwelt in Bethel. Bethel from a very early time greatly eclipsed Dan. While the allusions to Bethel, commonly called "Bethaven" (" House of nothingness" for "House of God "), are frequent in the Israelitish prophets (Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:8; Hosea 10:5, 8, 15; Amos 3:14; Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5, 6; Amos 7:10-13), there is but a single distinct allusion to Dan (Amos 8:14). Bethel was "the king's chapel" and "the king's court" (Amos 7:13). The priest selected by Sargon's advisers was a Bethelite priest, and, returning thither, took up the worship familiar to him. And taught them - i.e., the new settlers - how they should fear the Lord. This worship could only be that of the calf-priests instituted by Jeroboam, which was, however, most certainly a worship of Jehovah, and an imitation or travesty of the temple - worship at Jerusalem. Whether the returned priest set up a new calf-idol to replace the one which had been carried off to Assyria (Hosea 10:5), is doubtful.
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.
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.
And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,
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').
And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.
Verse 31. - And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak. "Nibhaz" and "Tartak" are very obscure. The Sabians are said to have acknowledged an evil demon, whom they called Nib'az or Nabaz (Norberg, 'Onomastieen,' p. 100); and Tartak has been derived by Gesenius from the Pehlevi Tar-thak, "hero of darkness;" but these guesses cannot be regarded as entitled to much attention. We do not know what the religion of the Avites was, and need not be surprised that the names of their gods are new to us. The polytheism of the East was prolific of deities, and still more of divine names. Nibhaz and Tartak may have been purely local gods, or they may have been local names for gods worshipped under other appellations in the general pantheon of Babylonia. And the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. The god principally worshipped at Sippara was Shamas, "the sun." It is probable that "Adrammelech" (equivalent to adir-melek, "the glorious king," or edir-malek, "the arranging king") was one of his titles. Shamas, in the Babylonian mythology, was always closely connected with Anunit, a sun-goddess; and it is probably this name which is represented by Anammelech, which we may regard as an intentional corruption, derisive and contemptuous.
So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.
Verse 32. - So they feared the Lord - rather, and they (also) honored Jehovah; i.e. with their idolatrous worship they combined also the worship of Jehovah (comp. ver. 28) - and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places - i.e., followed the example of Jeroboam in taking for priests persons of all ranks, even the lowest (see the comment on 1 Kings 12:31) - which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places (comp. ver. 29).
They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.
Verse 33. - They feared the Lord, and served their own gods. This syncretism, this mixed religion, is so surprising to the writer, and so abhorrent to his religious sentiments, that he cannot but dwell upon it, not shrinking from repeating himself (see vers. 32, 33, 41), in order to arrest the reader's attention, and point out to him the folly and absurdity of such conduct. The practice was still going on in his own day (vers. 34, 41), and may have had attractions for the descendants of the small Israelite population which had been left in the land. After the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence; rather, after the manner of the nations from whom they (i.e. the authorities) carried them away; i.e. after the manner of their countrymen at home. The translation of the Revised Version gives the sense, while changing the construction - "after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away."
Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel;
Verse 34. - Unto this day - i.e., the time at which Kings was written (about B.C. 580-560) - they do after the former manners - that is, they maintain the mixed religion, which they set up on the coming of the Samaritan priest from Assyria a hundred and fifty or sixty years previously - they fear not the Lord. This statement seems directly opposed to the thrice-repeated one (vers. 32, 33, 41), "They feared the Lord;" but the apparent contradiction is easily reconciled. The new immigrants "feared Jehovah" in a certain sense, i.e. externally. They admitted him into their pantheon, and had ritual observances in his honor. But they did not really fear him in their hearts. Had they done so, they would have inquired what were his laws, statutes, and ordinances, and would have set themselves to obey them. This they did not think of doing. Neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances - either the "statutes" and "ordinances" are regarded as having become de jure "theirs" by their occupation of the Holy Land, or "their" refers by anticipation to "the children of Jacob" towards the close of the verse - or after the Law - rather, and after the Law - and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel (see Genesis 32:28).
With whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:
Verse 35. - With whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them (see Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7; Deuteronomy 6:14; Deuteronomy 11:28. For the "covenant," see Exodus 19:5-8; Exodus 24:3-8).
But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.
Verse 36. - But the Lord, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched-out arm (comp. Exodus 6:6; Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 7:19; Deuteronomy 9:29; Psalm 136:12, etc.), him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice (see Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20; Deuteronomy 13:4; Joshua 24:14, etc.).
And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.
Verse 37. - And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the Law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you - i.e., which, by his Providence, were given you in a written form (comp. Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 31:9; Joshua 8:34) - ye shall observe to do forevermore (comp. Leviticus 18:4, 5; Leviticus 19:37; Deuteronomy 4:6; Deuteronomy 5:1; Deuteronomy 6:24, 25, etc.); and ye shall not fear other gods (see the comment on ver. 35).
And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.
Verse 38. - And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget. The "covenant" intended is not the covenant of circumcision, which God made with Abraham (Genesis 17:9-14), but the covenant of protection and obedience made at Sinai between God and the entire people (Exodus 19:5-8), and most solemnly ratified by sprinkling with blood and by a covenant feast, as related in Exodus 24:3-11. This was the covenant which Israel had been warned so frequently not to "forget" (Deuteronomy 4:23; Deuteronomy 8:11; Deuteronomy 26:13; Proverbs 2:17), yet which they had "forgotten," or, at any rate, "forsaken," as already declared in ver. 15. Neither shall ye fear other gods. The writer has probably a practical object in his reiteration. He expects his words to reach the ears of the mixed race inhabiting Samaria in his day, and would fain warn them against their idolatrous practices, and point them to the pure worship of Jehovah. It is pleasing to remember that ultimately the mixed race was won to the true faith, and that the Samaritans of our Lord's time were as true worshippers of Jehovah, and as zealous followers of the Law, as the Jews themselves. The interesting community at Nablous still maintains Samaritan forms, and reads the Samaritan Pentateuch.
But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.
Verse 39. - But the Lord your God ye shall fear (comp. ver. 36); and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. This promise had been made repeatedly (see Exodus 23:27; Leviticus 26:7, 8; Deuteronomy 6:18, 19; Deuteronomy 20:4; Deuteronomy 23:14; Deuteronomy 28:7, etc.). The writer of Chronicles aims at showing in detail that the promise was literally fulfilled in the history, victory in every case declaring itself in favor of God's people, when they were faithful and obedient, while reverses always befell them in the contrary ease (see 1 Chronicles 5:20-22; 1 Chronicles 10:13; 1 Chronicles 14:10-16; 2 Chronicles 12:1-12; 2 Chronicles 13:4-18; 2 Chronicles 14:9-12; 2 Chronicles 20:5-30, etc.).
Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.
Verse 40. - Howbeit they did not hearken. The mixed race, with their mixed religion, though professing to be worshippers of Jehovah, paid no attention to the warnings and threatenings of the Law (ver. 34), which were to them a dead letter. But they did after their former manner; i.e. they continued to maintain the syncretism described in vers. 28-33.
So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.
Verse 41. - So these nations - i.e., the Babylonians, Cuthaeans, Hamathites, Avites, and Sepharvites settled in Samaria - feared the Lord, and served their graven images. The rabbinical writers tell us that Nergal was worshipped under the form of a cock, Ashima under the form of a goat, Nibhaz under the form of a dog, Tartak under that of an ass, while Adrammelech and Anammelech were represented by a mule and a horse respectively. Not much confidence can be placed in these representations. The Babylonian gods were ordinarily figured in human forms. Animal ones - as those of the bull and the lion, generally winged and human-headed, were in a few cases, but only in a few, used to represent the gods symbolically. Other emblems employed were the winged circle for Asshur; the disc plain or four-rayed for the male sun, six or eight-rayed for the female sun; the crescent for the moon-god Sin; the thunderbolt for the god of the atmosphere, Vul or Rimmon; the wedge or arrow-head, the fundamental element of writing, for Nebo. Images, however, were made of all the gods, and were no doubt set up by the several "nations" in their respective "cities." Both their children, and their children's children - i.e. their descendants to the time of the writer of Kings - as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.