Hoshea, son of Elah, became king of Israel, in the twelfth year of the reign of King Ahaz of Judah. He reigned in Samaria for nine years. He did what was evil in the Lord's sight, but not in the same way the kings of Israel who were before him.
Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, came and attacked him, and Hoshea submitted to him and paid him tribute.
But then the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was being disloyal. Hoshea had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, asking for help, and he also had stopped sending annual tribute to the king of Assyria as he had done previously. So the king of Assyria arrested Hoshea and put him in prison.
Then the king of Assyria invaded the whole country, and attacked Samaria, besieging it for three years. In the ninth year of the reign of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River, and in the towns of the Medes.
All this happened because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, the one who had led them out of Egypt, saving them from the power of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. They had worshiped other gods, adopting the ways of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites, and the pagan practices introduced by the kings of Israel. Secretly the Israelites did things that were not right against the Lord their God. They built high places in all their towns, from watchtowers to fortified cities. 10 They set up pagan stone pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. 11 They offered sacrifices on all the high places, just like the nations the Lord drove out before them. They did evil things, angering the Lord. 12 They worshiped idols, even though the Lord had told them, “You are not to do this.”
13 Yet the Lord had warned Israel and Judah repeatedly through all his prophets and seers, saying, “Leave your wicked ways and keep my commandments and instructions. Follow the whole law that I ordered your forefathers to obey, and gave to you through my servants the prophets.”
14 But they refused listen, and they were as stubborn as their forefathers who did not trust the Lord their God. 15 They gave up on his regulations and the covenant he had made with their forefathers, as well as the decrees he had given them. They followed pointless idols and they became pointless themselves, copying the nations around them that the Lord ordered them not to copy. 16 They ignored all the commandments of the Lord their God, and they made themselves two metal idols of calves and an Asherah pole. They bowed down in worship to the sun, moon, and stars and served Baal. 17 They sacrificed their sons and daughters as pagan burnt offerings, and practiced fortune-telling and witchcraft. They gave themselves over to doing what was evil in the Lord's sight, making him angry.
18 So the Lord was extremely angry with Israel, and he banished them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, 19 but even Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but followed the idolatry that Israel had introduced. 20 The Lord gave up on all the descendants of Israel. He punished them and handed them over to their enemies,* until he had banished them from his presence.
21 When the Lord ripped Israel away from the house of David, they made Jeroboam, son of Nebat, their king. Jeroboam led Israel away from the Lord and made them commit terrible sins. 22 The Israelites continued to practice all the sins that Jeroboam committed. They did not stop doing them, 23 so the Lord eventually expelled them from his presence, just as he had said he would through all his servants, the prophets. So the Israelites were deported from their land and taken to Assyria, where they are to this day.
24 The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria instead of the Israelites. They took over ownership of Samaria and lived in its towns. 25 When they first started living there they did not worship the Lord, so he sent lions there among them, killing some of them.
26 The king of Assyria was told, “The peoples that you brought and settled in the towns of Samaria they don't not know the rules of the God of the land. As a result, he has sent lions among them, which are killing them off because they don't know what the God of the land requires.”
27 The king of Assyria gave the order: “Send back one of the priests you deported from Samaria, and let him go back and live there and teach the rules of the God of the land.” 28 So one of the priests who had been deported from Samaria returned to live in Bethel, and taught them how to worship the Lord.
29 But the people of the different nations went on making their own gods in the towns where they had settled, and they placed them in the shrines of the high places that the people of Samaria had made. 30 Those from Babylon made Sukkoth Benoth, those from Kuthah made Nergal, and those from Hamath made Ashima. 31 The Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites sacrificed their children as burnt offerings to their gods Adrammelech and Anammelech.
32 While they worshiped the Lord, they also appointed priests from all kinds of their own people to offer sacrifices for them in the shrines of the high places. 33 So even though they worshiped the Lord, they also worshiped their own gods following the practices of the nations they had come from. 34 Even to this day they are still following their former practices. None of them truly worship the Lord or observe the regulations, requirements, laws, and commandments that the Lord gave to the descendants of Jacob, the one he named Israel.
35 For the Lord had made an agreement with the Israelites, ordering them, “Don't worship other gods or bow down to them; don't serve them or offer sacrifices to them. 36 You must worship only the Lord, who led you out of Egypt, helping you with his great power and strong arm. Only bow down to him; only offer sacrifices to him. 37 Always pay attention to observe the regulations, requirements, laws, and commandments he gave you in writing, and don't worship other gods. 38 Don't forget the agreement I have made with you, and don't worship other gods. 39 You must worship only the Lord your God, and he will save you from all your enemies.”
40 But they refused to listen, and continued their former idolatrous practices. 41 Even while these people from different nations were worshiping the Lord, they were actually worshiping their idols. Their children and grandchildren continue to do as their forefathers did to this day.
* 17:20 “Enemies”: literally, “plunderers.”