24 The king of Assyria transported groups of people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and resettled them in the towns of Samaria, replacing the people of Israel. They took possession of Samaria and lived in its towns.25 But since these foreign settlers did not worship the Lord when they first arrived, the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them.
26 So a message was sent to the king of Assyria: “The people you have sent to live in the towns of Samaria do not know the religious customs of the God of the land. He has sent lions among them to destroy them because they have not worshiped him correctly.”
27 The king of Assyria then commanded, “Send one of the exiled priests back to Samaria. Let him live there and teach the new residents the religious customs of the God of the land.”28 So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria returned to Bethel and taught the new residents how to worship the Lord.
29 But these various groups of foreigners also continued to worship their own gods. In town after town where they lived, they placed their idols at the pagan shrines that the people of Samaria had built.30 Those from Babylon worshiped idols of their god Succoth-benoth. Those from Cuthah worshiped their god Nergal. And those from Hamath worshiped Ashima.31 The Avvites worshiped their gods Nibhaz and Tartak. And the people from Sepharvaim even burned their own children as sacrifices to their gods Adrammelech and Anammelech.
32 These new residents worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests to offer sacrifices at their places of worship.33 And though they worshiped the Lord, they continued to follow their own gods according to the religious customs of the nations from which they came.34 And this is still going on today. They continue to follow their former practices instead of truly worshiping the Lord and obeying the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands he gave the descendants of Jacob, whose name he changed to Israel.
35 For the Lord had made a covenant with the descendants of Jacob and commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow before them or serve them or offer sacrifices to them.36 But worship only the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt with great strength and a powerful arm. Bow down to him alone, and offer sacrifices only to him.37 Be careful at all times to obey the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands that he wrote for you. You must not worship other gods.38 Do not forget the covenant I made with you, and do not worship other gods.39 You must worship only the Lord your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.”
40 But the people would not listen and continued to follow their former practices.41 So while these new residents worshiped the Lord, they also worshiped their idols. And to this day their descendants do the same.
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