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Hoshea Begins His Rule Over Israel

17 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. 2Hoshea did the things the Lord said were wrong. But Hoshea was not as bad as the kings of Israel that ruled before him. 3Shalmaneser king of Assyria came to fight against Hoshea. {Shalmaneser defeated Hoshea} and Hoshea became his servant. So Hoshea paid tribute* to Shalmaneser. 4Later, 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 like he did every other year. The king of Assyria learned that Hoshea had made plans against him. So the king of Assyria arrested Hoshea and put him in jail. 5The king of Assyria attacked many places in Israel. Then he came to Samaria. He fought against Samaria for three years. 6The king of Assyria took Samaria during the ninth year that Hoshea was king of Israel. The king of Assyria 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. 7These things happened because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God. And it was the Lord that brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt! The Lord saved them from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. But the Israelites began worshiping other gods. 8They 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, {not by God}. 9The 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. 10The Israelites put up memorial stones* and Asherah poles* on every high hill and under every green tree. 11The Israelites burned incense* there in all those places of worship. 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. 12They served idols.* And the Lord had said to the Israelites, “You must not do this thing.” 13The Lord used every prophet and every seer* to warn Israel and Judah. The Lord 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.” 14But the people would not listen. They were very stubborn like their ancestors.* Their ancestors did not believe the Lord their God. 15The people refused the Lord’s laws and his Agreement that he made with their ancestors. They refused to listen to the Lord’s warnings. They worshiped idols* that were worth nothing and they themselves became worth nothing. They lived like the people in the nations around them. They did those bad things. And the Lord had warned the people of Israel. The Lord told them not to do those bad things. 16The 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.* 17They 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 the Lord angry. 18So the Lord became very angry at Israel and took them out of his sight. There were no Israelites left, except the family group of Judah!

The People of Judah Are Also Guilty

19But even the people of Judah did not obey the commands of the Lord their God. The people of Judah lived just like the people of Israel. 20The Lord rejected all the people of Israel. He brought them many troubles. He let people destroy them. And, finally, he threw them away and put them out of his sight. 21The Lord tore Israel from the family of David, and the Israelites made Jeroboam son of Nebat their king. Jeroboam pulled the Israelites away from following the Lord. Jeroboam caused the Israelites to do a great sin. 22So the Israelites followed all the sins that Jeroboam did. They did not stop doing these sins 23until the Lord took Israel away from his sight. And the Lord 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.

The Beginning of the Samaritan People

24{The king of Assyria took the Israelites out of Samaria.} Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim. He put those people in Samaria. Those people took over Samaria and lived in the cities around it. 25When these people began to live in Samaria, they did not honor the Lord. So the Lord sent lions to attack them. These lions killed some of those people. 26Some people said to the king of Assyria, “Those people that you took away and put in the cities of Samaria do not know the law of the god of that country. So that god sent lions to attack those people. The lions killed those people because those people don’t know the law of the god of that country.” 27So the king of Assyria gave this command: “You took some priests from Samaria. Send one of those priests that I captured back to Samaria. Let that priest go and live there. Then that priest can teach the people the law of the god of that country.” 28So one of the priests that the Assyrians had carried away from Samaria came to live in Bethel. This priest taught the people how they should honor the Lord. 29But all those people made gods of their own and put them in the temples at the high places* the Samarians had made. Those people did this wherever they lived. 30The 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. 31The people of Avva made {the false gods} Nibhaz and Tartak. And the people from Sepharvaim burned their children in the fire to honor their false gods, Adrammelech and Anammelech. 32But those people 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. 33They respected the Lord, but they also served their own gods. Those people served their gods the same as they did in the countries they were taken from. 34Even today those people live like they did in the past. They do not honor the Lord. They do not obey the rules and commands of the Israelites. They do not obey the Law or the commands that the Lord gave to the children of Jacob (Israel). 35The Lord made an Agreement with the people of Israel. The Lord commanded them, “You must not honor other gods. You must not worship them, or serve them, or offer sacrifices to them. 36But you must follow the Lord. The Lord is the God that brought you out of Egypt. The Lord used his great power to save you. You must worship the Lord and make sacrifices to him. 37You 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. 38You must not forget the Agreement that I made with you. You must not respect other gods. 39No! You respect only the Lord your God! Then he will save you from all your enemies.” 40But the Israelites did not listen. They kept on doing the same things they did before. 41So now those other nations respect the Lord, but they also serve their own idols. Their children and grandchildren do the same thing their ancestors* did. They still do those things to this day.

tribute Money paid to a foreign king or nation to pay for being protected. high places Places for worshiping God or false gods. These places were often on the hills and mountains. memorial stones Stones that were set up to help people remember something special. In ancient Israel, people often set up stones as special places to worship false gods. Asherah poles These poles were used to honor the female god Asherah that the Canaanite people worshiped. incense A kind of spice that smells good when it is burned. It was burned as a gift to God. idols Statues of false gods that people worshiped. seer A kind of prophet, a person that spoke for God. This word shows the prophet saw things in visions. ancestors Literally, “fathers.” This means a person’s parents, grandparents, and all the people they are descended from. Baal The Canaanite people believed that this false god brought the rain and storms. They also thought that he made the land produce good crops. witchcraft Using magic or the power of Satan to do things.

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