Ok. Long chapter, late night. Let’s get started!
Hoshea is now the king of Israel. “And he did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord, though not like the kings of Israel who had preceded him (Kings II 17:2).” He basically gets taken over by the king of Assyria, and pays tribute to him. But apparently he’s also conspiring against the king, so he’s thrown in prison and Samaria is attacked. The Israelites are exiled to Assyria. If this isn’t bad enough, the people turn to idolatry and evil deeds. “And they followed the statutes of the nations whom the Lord had driven out from before the children of Israel, and the kings of Israel that they practiced (Kings II 17:8).” The people keep worshipping idols, in spite of prophets begging them to turn back towards God.
“And they forsook all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves two molten calves, and they made an asherah, and they prostrated themselves before the entire host of the heavens, and they worshipped the Baal (Kings II 17:16).” They do everything that they’ve specifically been told not to do. They practice divination, put their children through fire, and essentially do everything possible to piss God off. The Judeans follow the path of the Israelites, so God hates all of the people at this point. Things deteriorate even further. With the Israelites in Assyria, new people move into Samaria. They’re evil too, and God sends lions to eat them. This is definitely not a part of the Torah that we covered in Hebrew School.
One of the priests starts to teach the people about God again, and it starts to work. “And they feared the Lord, and they made some of them priests of the high places, and they would practice their [rites] in the temple of the high places (Kings II 17:32).” They basically integrate God and paganism, worshipping God and their own gods too. This isn’t good enough, of course, but the people don’t stop. I think there’s something to be said about the fact that the people keep reverting to idolatry. There must be something extremely appealing about it that draws the people in, regardless of the continual consequences.