Hoshea Begins His Rule Over Israel
1 Hoshea son of Elah began to rule in Samaria over Israel. This was during the 12th year that Ahaz was king of Judah. Hoshea ruled nine years. 2 He did what the LORD said was wrong, but he was not as bad as the kings of Israel who had ruled before him.
3 King Shalmaneser of Assyria came to fight against Hoshea and defeated him. So Hoshea paid tribute to Shalmaneser.
4 Later, Hoshea sent messengers to the king of Egypt to ask for help. That king’s name was So. That year Hoshea did not pay tribute to the king of Assyria as he did every other year. The king of Assyria learned that Hoshea had made plans against him. So he arrested Hoshea and put him in jail.
5 The king of Assyria attacked many places in Israel. Then he came to Samaria and fought against it for three years. 6 The king of Assyria took Samaria during the ninth year that Hoshea was king of Israel. He captured many Israelites and took them as prisoners to Assyria. He made them live in Halah by the Habor River at Gozan and in other cities of the Medes.
7 These things happened because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God. And it was the Lord who brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt! He saved them from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. But the Israelites began worshiping other gods. 8 They began doing the same things that other people did. And the LORD had forced those people to leave their land when the Israelites came. The Israelites also chose to be ruled by kings. 9 The Israelites secretly did things against the LORD their God, and those things were wrong!
The Israelites built high places in all their cities—from the smallest town to the largest city. 10 They put up memorial stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. 11 They burned incense there in all those places for worship.* places for worship Or “high places,” places for worshiping God or false gods. These places were often on the hills and mountains. They did these things like the nations that the LORD forced out of the land before them. The Israelites did evil things that made the LORD angry. 12 They served idols, and the LORD had said to them, “You must not do this.”
13 The LORD used every prophet and every seer to warn Israel and Judah. He said, “Turn away from the evil things you do. Obey my commands and laws. Follow all the law that I gave to your ancestors. I used my servants the prophets to give this law to you.”
14 But the people would not listen. They were very stubborn like their ancestors. Their ancestors did not believe the LORD their God. 15 They refused to follow his laws and the agreement he made with their ancestors. They would not listen to his warnings. They worshiped idols that were worth nothing and they themselves became worth nothing. The LORD had warned them not to do the evil things that the people in the nations around them did. But they lived the same way those people lived.
16 The people stopped following the commands of the LORD their God. They made two gold statues of calves. They made Asherah poles. They worshiped all the stars of heaven and served Baal. 17 They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They used magic and witchcraft to try to learn the future. They sold themselves to do what the LORD said was evil. They did this to make him angry. 18 So the LORD became very angry with Israel and removed them from his sight. There were no Israelites left, except the tribe of Judah.
The People of Judah Are Also Guilty
19 But even the people of Judah did not obey the commands of the LORD their God. They lived just as the Israelites had.
20 The LORD rejected all the Israelites. He brought them many troubles. He let people destroy them. Finally, he threw them away and removed them from his sight. 21 He tore them from the family of David, and they made Jeroboam son of Nebat their king. Jeroboam pulled the Israelites away from following the LORD. He caused them to commit a great sin. 22 So the Israelites sinned in all the ways Jeroboam did. And they did not stop committing these sins 23 until the LORD took Israel away from his sight. And he said this would happen. He sent his prophets to tell the people this would happen. So the Israelites were taken out of their country into Assyria. And they have been there to this day.
Foreigners Settle in Israel
24 The king of Assyria took the Israelites out of Samaria and brought in other people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim. They took over Samaria and lived in the cities around it. 25 When these people began to live in Samaria, they did not honor the LORD, so the LORD sent lions to attack them. The lions killed some of them. 26 Some people said to the king of Assyria, “The people who you took away and put in the cities of Samaria don’t know the law of the god of that country. So that god sent lions to attack them. The lions killed them because they don’t know the law of the god of that country.”
27 So the king of Assyria gave this command: “You took some priests from Samaria. Send one of them who I captured back to Samaria. Let that priest go and live there. Then he can teach the people the law of the god of that country.”
28 So one of the priests who the Assyrians had carried away from Samaria came to live in Bethel. He taught the people how they should honor the LORD.
29 But all those people made gods of their own. They put them in the temples at the high places that the people of Samaria had made. They did this wherever they lived. 30 The people of Babylon made the false god Succoth Benoth. The people of Cuthah made the false god Nergal. The people of Hamath made the false god Ashima. 31 The people of Avva made the false gods Nibhaz and Tartak. The people from Sepharvaim also burned their children in the fire to honor their false gods, Adrammelech and Anammelech.
32 But they also worshiped the LORD. They chose priests for the high places from among the people. These priests made sacrifices for the people in the temples at those places of worship. 33 They respected the LORD but also served their own gods, just as they did in their own countries.
34 Even today, they live the same way they did in the past. They don’t honor the LORD. They don’t obey the rules and commands of the Israelites. They don’t obey the law or the commands that the LORD gave to the children of Jacob. 35 The LORD made an agreement with the Israelites. He commanded them, “You must not honor other gods. You must not worship them or serve them or offer sacrifices to them. 36 But you must follow the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt. He used his great power to save you. You must worship him and make sacrifices to him. 37 You must obey the rules, laws, teachings, and commands that he wrote for you. You must obey these things all the time. You must not respect other gods. 38 You must not forget the agreement that I made with you. You must not respect other gods. 39 No, you must respect only the LORD your God. Then he will save you from all your enemies.”
40 But the Israelites did not listen. They kept on doing the same things they did before. 41 So now those other nations respected the LORD, but they also served their own idols. Their children and grandchildren did the same thing their ancestors did. They still do these things to this day.
*17:11 places for worship Or “high places,” places for worshiping God or false gods. These places were often on the hills and mountains.