Melachim 2/Kings 2-Chapter 17: The exile of the tribes from Israel

1.      The reign of Hosheia:

  • His year or reign: Hosheia, the son of Elah, reigned over the people of Israel in the twelfth year of Achaz the king of Yehuda.
  • His years of reign: He reigned for a total of nine years.
  • His deeds: Hosheia did evil in the eyes of Hashem, although he was not as evil as the kings of Israel who had preceded him.

2.      Shalmaneser conquers the kingdom of Israel and exiles thethe 10 tribes:

  • Shalmaneser makes Hosheia pay him a tribute: Shalmaneser, the king of Ashur, went up against him, and Hoshea became his servant, and had to pay him tribute.
  • Shalmaneser imprisons Hosheia: Shalmaneser the king of Ashur discovered that Hosheia had conspired against him and that he sent messengers to Su, the king of Egypt, and did not pay tribute to the king of Ashur that year. So, the king of Ashur arrested him and confined him in a prison.
  • Shalmaneser besieges and exiles the Jewish people: Shalmaneser the king of Ashur went up to conquer the entire land of the kingdom of Israel, and he went up to Shomron and besieged it for three years. In the ninth year of reign of Hosheia, Shalmaneser the king of Ashur conquered the city of Shomron and exiled the Israelites to Ashur. He settled them in the countries of Bachlach, and in Chavur, the Gozan River, and the cities of Media.

3.      The sins of the Jewish people that caused God to exile them:

  • Serving idolatry: The Jewish people sinned against Hashem who brought them up from the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and they feared other deities.
  • Following the ways of the Gentiles: They followed the ways of the Gentile nations whom Hashem had driven out from the land of Israel. The kings of Israel also went in these ways and practiced idolatry.
  • Denying divine providence: The Jewish people fabricated false ideas about Hashem their God [such as to say that He does not see them or listen to them, and denied his divine providence over them[1]].
  • Building altars for idolatry: The Jewish people built for themselves altars for idolatry in all their cities, from the watchtower to the fortified cities.
  • Building monuments and idolatry trees: The Jewish people erected for themselves monuments and Asheira trees on every high hill and under every green tree.
  • Offering incense to idolatry: They offered incense to idolatry on their altars, as did the nations that Hashem had exiled from the land of Israel, and they did evil things to anger Hashem. They worshipped the idols which Hashem had warned them against.
  • G-d warns the Jewish people to repent but they do not heed His call: Hashem had warned the kingdom of Israel and Yehuda through their prophets telling them to repent from their evil ways, and to keep G-d’s commandments. However, they did not listen to the reproof of the prophets, and they hardened their necks and were stubborn like their ancestors who did not believe in Hashem their God. They despised the laws of His Torah and went after vein and worthless things.
  • A list of their sins of idolatry: They forsook all the commandments of Hashem, and made for themselves two molten calves, an Asherah, tree and they worshipped and bowed down to all of the legions of the heavens, and they worshipped the idolatry of Baal.
  • The sin of Molech: The Jewish people passed their sons and daughters through fire as was done by the idolatry of Molech.
  • The sin of sorcery: The Jewish people practiced enchantment and divination and other forbidden forms of sorcery.
  • Addiction to evil: The Jewish people became addicted to do all that was evil in the eyes of Hashem.
  • The punishment of the Jewish people: Hashem became very angry with Israel, and He decided to punish them and exile them from before Him. All the tribes were exiled from the land and there was no tribe left but the tribe of Yehuda alone.
  • The sins of the tribe of Yehudah: Also the tribe of Yehuda sinned and did not observe the commandments of Hashem, and they followed the practices of the kingdom of Israel. Hashem despised all of the Jewish people, and He oppressed them, and delivered them into the hands of plunderers until He eventually threw them away from before Him and exiled them from His land.
  • The sins of Yeravam Ben Nevat: The people of Israel had torn away from the house of David and had appointed Yeravam the son of Nevat as king, and Yeravam led the Jewish people astray from the ways of God and caused them to commit a grave sin. The children of Israel followed all the sins that were committed by Yeravam. As a result, Hashem removed the Jewish people from His Presence, as Hashem had warned through his prophets, and Jewish people were exiled from their land to the land of Ashur until this day.

4.      The cities of Shomron are resettled with Gentiles who are attacked by lions and convert:

  • The king of Ashur brought people from Babylonia and from Cutah and Avva and Chamas and Sefarvaim, and he settled them in the cities of Shomron in place of the Jewish people, and they took possession of Shomron and dwelt in its cities.
  • Hashem sends lions to attack the Gentile people: When the gentile nations lived in these cities, they did not fear Hashem, and Hashem incited lions against them, and they were killed by the lions.
  • The Gentiles of the land complain to the king of Ashur: The Gentile nations living in the Shomron complained to the king of Ashur about their predicament, telling him that they are not aware of what the God of this land desires of them, and He has incited lions against them, and they are killing them, as they do not know which laws God wants them to follow in this land.
  • A priest is sent to the land to teach them the laws of God: The king of Ashur instructed for a priest of the Jewish people to be brought from exile back to their city in order to teach them the law of God. So, one of the priests whom they had exiled from Shomron came and settled in Beis Eil, and he taught them how they should fear Hashem.
  • The Gentile nations serve their idolatry in the land: Each of the Gentile nations who lived in the cities of Israel made for themselves deities of their original land. The people of Babylonia made idols in the form of a female chicken with her chicks, and the people of Cuth made an idols in the form of a male chicken, and the people of Chamas made idols in the form of a goat and the people of Avvim made idols in the form of a dog and donkeys. The Sefarvite people burnt their children alive in a fire to Adramelech and Anamelech, the deities of Sepharvaim, who were in the form of a mule and horse. They feared Hashem and made some of them priests of the high places, and they would practice their [rites] in the temple of the high places.
  • The Gentile nations nonetheless also fear God and convert even though they continue serving idols: Although the gentile nations worshipped their deities, as was their custom in their original lands that they were exiled from, nonetheless, they [converted to Judaism due to their fear of the lions[2]] and also feared God to some degree. However, they did not fully follow the rules of the Torah and continued to also serve idolatry, and follow in their earlier ways. This continued throughout all their generations and their descendants follow these ways until today.

[1] See Radak and Metzudos Dovid 17:9

[2] Rashi 17:34

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