Hoshea's Wicked Reign.
1. In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah,
began Hoshea … to reign—The statement in 2Ki 15:30 may be reconciled with the present
passage in the following manner: Hoshea conspired against Pekah in the
twentieth year of the latter, which was the eighteenth of Jotham's
reign. It was two years before Hoshea was acknowledged king of Israel,
that is, in the fourth of Ahaz, and twentieth of Jotham. In the twelfth
year of Ahaz his reign began to be tranquil and prosperous [Calmet].
2. he did evil … but not as the kings of
Israel—Unlike his predecessors from the time of Jeroboam, he
neither established the rites of Baal, nor compelled the people to
adhere to the symbolic worship of the calves. [See on 2Ch 30:1.] In these respects, Hoshea acted as became a
constitutional king of Israel. Yet, through the influence of the
nineteen princes who had swayed the scepter before him (all of whom had
been zealous patrons of idolatry, and many of whom had been also
infamous for personal crimes), the whole nation had become so
completely demoralized that the righteous judgment of an angry
Providence impended over it.
3. Against him came up Shalmaneser—or
10:14), the same as the
Sargon of Isaiah [Isa 20:1].
Very recently the name of this Assyrian king has been traced on the
Ninevite monuments, as concerned in an expedition against a king of
Samaria, whose name, though mutilated, Colonel
Rawlinson reads as Hoshea.
4. found conspiracy in Hoshea—After
having paid tribute for several years, Hoshea, determined on throwing
off the Assyrian yoke, withheld the stipulated tribute. Shalmaneser,
incensed at this rebellion, proclaimed war against Israel. This was in
the sixth year of Hoshea's reign.
he had sent messengers to So, king of
Egypt—the Sabaco of the classic historians, a famous
Ethiopian who, for fifty years, occupied the Egyptian throne, and
through whose aid Hoshea hoped to resist the threatened attack of the
Assyrian conqueror. But Shalmaneser, marching against [Hoshea], scoured
the whole country of Israel, besieged the capital Samaria, and carried
the principal inhabitants into captivity in his own land, having taken
the king himself, and imprisoned him for life. This ancient policy of
transplanting a conquered people into a foreign land, was founded on
the idea that, among a mixed multitude, differing in language and
religion, they would be kept in better subjection, and have less
opportunity of combining together to recover their independence.
6. carried Israel away—that is, the
remaining tribes (see on 2Ki 15:29).
and placed them, &c.—This passage
Gesenius renders thus, omitting the
particle by, which is printed in italics to show it is not in
the original: "and placed them in Halah, and on the Chabor, a river of
Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes."
Halah—the same as Calah (Ge 10:11, 12), in the region of the Laycus or
Zab river, about a day's journey from the ruins of Nineveh.
Chabor—is a river, and it is
remarkable that there is a river rising in the central highlands of
Assyria which retains this name Khabour unchanged to the present
Gozan—("pasture") or Zozan, are the
highlands of Assyria, which afford pasturage. The region in which the
Chabor and the Zab rise, and through which they flow, is peculiarly of
this character. The Nestorians repair to it with their numerous flocks,
spending the summer on the banks or in the highlands of the Chabor or
the Zab. Considering the high authority we possess for regarding Gozan
and Zozan as one name, there can be no doubt that this is the Gozan
referred to in this passage.
cities of the Medes—"villages,"
according to the Syriac and Vulgate versions, or
"mountains," according to the Septuagint. The Medish inhabitants
of Gozan, having revolted, had been destroyed by the kings of Assyria,
and nothing was more natural than that they should wish to place in it
an industrious people, like the captive Israelites, while it was well
suited to their pastoral life [Grant,
2Ki 17:7-41. Samaria Taken,
and Israel for Their Sins Carried Captive.
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.
24-28. the king of Assyria brought men from
Babylon, etc.—This was not Shalmaneser, but Esar-haddon
4:2). The places vacated by
the captive Israelites he ordered to be occupied by several colonies of
his own subjects from Babylon and other provinces.
from Cuthah—the Chaldee form of Cush
or Susiana, now Khusistan.
Ava—supposed to be Ahivaz, situated on
the river Karuns, which empties into the head of the Persian Gulf.
Hamath—on the Orontes.
Sepharvaim—Siphara, a city on the
Euphrates above Babylon.
placed them in the cities of Samaria,
&c.—It must not be supposed that the Israelites were
universally removed to a man. A remnant was left, chiefly however of
the poor and lower classes, with whom these foreign colonists mingled;
so that the prevailing character of society about Samaria was heathen,
not Israelite. For the Assyrian colonists became masters of the land;
and, forming partial intermarriages with the remnant Jews, the
inhabitants became a mongrel race, no longer a people of Ephraim (Isa 7:6). These people, imperfectly
instructed in the creed of the Jews, acquired also a mongrel doctrine.
Being too few to replenish the land, lions, by which the land had been
infested (Jud 14:5; 1Sa 17:34; 1Ki 13:24;
20:36; So 4:8), multiplied
and committed frequent ravages upon them. Recognizing in these attacks
a judgment from the God of the land, whom they had not worshipped, they
petitioned the Assyrian court to send them some Jewish priests who
might instruct them in the right way of serving Him. The king, in
compliance with their request, sent them one of the exiled priests of
Israel [2Ki 17:27],
who established his headquarters at Beth-el, and taught them how they
should fear the Lord. It is not said that he took a copy of the
Pentateuch with him, out of which he might teach them. Oral
teaching was much better fitted for the superstitious people than
instruction out of a written book. He could teach them more effectually
by word of mouth. Believing that he would adopt the best and simplest
method for them, it is unlikely that he took the written law with him,
and so gave origin to the Samaritan copy of the Pentateuch [Davidson, Criticism]. Besides, it is
evident from his being one of the exiled priests, and from his
settlement at Beth-el, that he was not a Levite, but one of the
calf-worshipping priests. Consequently his instructions would be
neither sound nor efficient.
29. Howbeit every nation made gods of their
own—These Assyrian colonists, however, though instructed in
the worship, and acknowledging the being of the God of Israel, did not
suppose Him to be the only God. Like other heathens, they combined His
worship with that of their own gods; and as they formed a promiscuous
society from different nations or provinces, a variety of idols was
acknowledged among them.
30. Succoth-benoth—that is, the "tents"
or "booths of the daughters," similar to those in which the Babylonian
damsels celebrated impure rites (Am 2:8).
Nergal—The Jewish writers say this
idol was in the form of a cock, and it is certain that a cock is often
associated with a priest on the Assyrian monuments [Layard]. But modern critics, looking to the
astrological character of Assyrian idolatry, generally consider Nergal
as the planet Mars, the god of war. The name of this idol formed part
of the appellation of two of the king of Babylon's princes (Jer 39:3).
Ashima—an idol under the form of an
entirely bald he-goat.
31. Nibhaz—under that of a
dog—that Egyptian form of animal-worship having prevailed in
ancient Syria, as is evident from the image of a large dog at the mouth
of the Nahr-el-Kelb, or Dog river.
Tartak—According to the rabbis, it was
in the form of an ass, but others understand it as a planet of
ill-omen, probably Saturn.
Adrammelech—supposed by some to be the
same as Molech, and in Assyrian mythology to stand for the sun. It was
worshipped in the form of a mule—others maintain in that of a
Anammelech—worshipped in the form of a
hare; others say in that of a goat.
34. Unto this day—the time of the
Babylonian exile, when this book was composed. Their religion was a
strange medley or compound of the service of God and the service of
idols. Such was the first settlement of the people, afterwards called
Samaritans, who were sent from Assyria to colonize the land, when the
kingdom of Israel, after having continued three hundred fifty-six
years, was overthrown.