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17 It was in the twelfth year of Achaz king of Y’hudah that Hoshea the son of Elah began his reign over Isra’el in Shomron; he ruled for nine years. He did what was evil from Adonai’s perspective, although he wasn’t as bad as the kings of Isra’el who had preceded him.

Shalman’eser king of Ashur advanced against Hoshea, and Hoshea became his vassal and paid him tribute. But the king of Ashur found that Hoshea was conspiring [against him] — he had sent messengers to So the king of Egypt and not paid his tribute to the king of Ashur, as he had previously done every year. For this the king of Ashur imprisoned him, putting him in chains. Then the king of Ashur invaded all the land, advanced on Shomron and put it under siege for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Ashur captured Shomron. He carried Isra’el away captive to Ashur, resettling them in Halach, in Havor on the Gozan River and in the cities of the Medes.

This came about because the people of Isra’el had sinned against Adonai their God, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, out from under the domination of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They feared other gods and lived by the customs of the nations that Adonai had expelled ahead of the people of Isra’el and by those of the kings of Isra’el. The people of Isra’el secretly did things that were not right, according to Adonai their God. They built high places for themselves wherever they lived, from the watchtower to the fortified city. 10 They set up standing-stones and sacred poles for themselves on any high hill and under any green tree. 11 Then they would make offerings on all the high places, like the nations Adonai had expelled ahead of them, and would do wicked things to provoke the anger of Adonai; 12 moreover, they served idols, something Adonai had expressly told them not to do. 13 Adonai had warned Isra’el and Y’hudah in advance through every prophet and seer, “Turn from your evil ways; and obey my mitzvot and regulations, in accordance with the entire Torah which I ordered your ancestors to keep and which I sent to you through my servants the prophets.” 14 Nevertheless, they refused to listen but made themselves as stubborn as their ancestors, who did not put their trust in Adonai their God. 15 Thus they rejected his laws; his covenant, which he had made with their ancestors; and the solemn warnings he had given them. Instead they pursued worthless things and became worthless themselves, imitating the nations around them, whom Adonai had ordered them not to emulate. 16 They abandoned all the mitzvot of Adonai their God. They made cast metal images for themselves, two calves. They made an asherah. They worshipped the whole army of heaven. They served Ba‘al. 17 They had their sons and daughters pass through fire [as a sacrifice]. They used divination and magic spells. And they gave themselves over to do what was evil from Adonai’s perspective, thereby provoking him; 18 so that Adonai, by now very angry with Isra’el, removed them from his sight. None was left except the tribe of Y’hudah alone. 19 (However, neither did Y’hudah obey the mitzvot of Adonai their God; rather they lived according to the customs of Isra’el.)

20 Yes, Adonai came to despise all the descendants of Isra’el. He caused them trouble and handed them over to plunderers, until finally he threw them out of his sight. 21 He tore Isra’el away from the house of David. They made Yarov‘am the son of N’vat king; and Yarov‘am drew Isra’el away from following Adonai and made them commit a great sin. 22 The people of Isra’el followed the example of all the sins that Yarov‘am had committed and did not turn away from them, 23 until Adonai removed Isra’el out of his sight, as he had said he would through all his servants the prophets. Thus Isra’el was carried away captive from their own land to Ashur, and it remains so to this day.

24 The king of Ashur brought people from Bavel, Kutah, ‘Ava, Hamat and S’farvayim and settled them in the cities of Shomron in place of the people of Isra’el; they took possession of Shomron and lived in its cities. 25 When they first came to live there, they did not fear Adonai. Therefore Adonai sent lions among them, which killed some of them. 26 So they said to the king of Ashur, “The nations you carried away and settled in the cities of Shomron are not familiar with the rules for worshipping the God of the land. Therefore he has sent lions among them; and they are there, killing them; because they’re not familiar with the rules for worshipping the God of the land.” 27 In response, the king of Ashur gave this order: “Take back one of the cohanim you brought from there. Have him go and live there, and have him teach them the rules for worshipping the God of the land.” 28 So one of the cohanim they had carried away captive from Shomron came and lived in Beit-El, and he taught them how they should fear Adonai.

29 Nevertheless, every nation made gods of their own and put them in the temples on the high places which the Shomronim had made, every nation in the cities where they lived. 30 Thus the people from Bavel made Sukkot-B’not, those from Kutah made Nergal, those from Hamat made Ashima, 31 the ‘Avim made Nivchaz and Tartak, and the S’farvim burned up their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adramelekh and ‘Anamelekh the gods of S’farvayim. 32 So they feared Adonai, while at the same time they appointed for themselves priests from among themselves to preside at the high places, and they would sacrifice for them in the temples on the high places. 33 They both feared Adonai and served their own gods in the manner customary among the nations from which they had been taken away. 34 To this day they continue to follow their former [pagan] customs. They do not fear Adonai. They do not follow the regulations, rulings, Torah or mitzvah which Adonai ordered the descendants of Ya‘akov, to whom he gave the name Isra’el, 35 with whom Adonai had made a covenant and charged them, “Do not fear other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. 36 On the contrary, you are to fear Adonai, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm. Worship him, and sacrifice to him. 37 You are to observe forever the laws, rulings, Torah and mitzvah which he wrote for you. You are not to fear other gods, 38 and you are not to forget the covenant I made with you. No, you must not fear other gods 39 but must fear Adonai your God; then he will rescue you from the power of all your enemies.” 40 However, they didn’t listen, but followed their old [pagan] practices. 41 So these nations mixed fearing Adonai with serving their carved idols; likewise their children; and to this day, their descendants do the same as their ancestors did.

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