2 Kings 15-17
Contemporary English Version
King Azariah of Judah
15 Azariah son of Amaziah became king of Judah in Jeroboam’s twenty-seventh year as king of Israel. 2 He was only sixteen years old when he became king, and he ruled fifty-two years from Jerusalem, which was also the hometown of his mother Jecoliah.
3 Azariah obeyed the Lord by doing right, as his father Amaziah had done. 4 But Azariah did not destroy the local shrines,[a] and they were still used as places for offering sacrifices.
5 The Lord punished Azariah with leprosy[b] for the rest of his life. He wasn’t allowed to live in the royal palace, so his son Jotham lived there and ruled in his place.
6 Everything else Azariah did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah. 7 Azariah died and was buried beside his ancestors in Jerusalem. His son Jotham then became king.
King Zechariah of Israel
8 Zechariah son of Jeroboam became king of Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Azariah’s rule in Judah, but he ruled only six months from Samaria. 9 Like his ancestors, Zechariah disobeyed the Lord by following the evil ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused the Israelites to sin.
10 Shallum son of Jabesh plotted against Zechariah and killed him in public.[c] Shallum then became king. 11-12 So the Lord had kept his promise to Jehu that the next four kings of Israel would come from his family.[d]
Everything else Zechariah did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Israel.
King Shallum of Israel
13 Shallum became king of Israel in the thirty-ninth year of Azariah’s[e] rule in Judah. But only one month after Shallum became king, 14-16 Menahem son of Gadi came to Samaria from Tirzah and killed him. Menahem then became king. The town of Tiphsah would not surrender to him, so he destroyed it and all the surrounding towns as far as Tirzah. He killed everyone living in Tiphsah, and with his sword he even ripped open pregnant women.
Everything else Shallum did while he was king, including his plot against Zechariah, is written in The History of the Kings of Israel.
King Menahem of Israel
17 Menahem became king of Israel in Azariah’s thirty-ninth year as king of Judah, and he ruled Israel ten years from Samaria. 18 He constantly disobeyed the Lord by following the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused the Israelites to sin.
19 During Menahem’s rule, King Tiglath Pileser[f] of Assyria invaded Israel. He agreed to help Menahem keep control of his kingdom, if Menahem would pay him over thirty tons of silver. 20 So Menahem ordered every rich person in Israel to give him at least one pound of silver, and he gave it all to Tiglath Pileser, who stopped his attack and left Israel.
21 Everything else Menahem did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Israel. 22 Menahem died, and his son Pekahiah became king.
King Pekahiah of Israel
23 Pekahiah became king of Israel in the fiftieth year of Azariah’s rule in Judah, and he ruled two years from Samaria. 24 He disobeyed the Lord and caused the Israelites to sin, just as Jeroboam son of Nebat had done.
25 Pekah son of Remaliah was Pekahiah’s chief officer, but he made plans to kill the king. So he and fifty men from Gilead broke into the strongest part of the palace in Samaria and murdered Pekahiah, together with Argob and Arieh.[g] Pekah then became king.
26 Everything else Pekahiah did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Israel.
King Pekah of Israel
27 Pekah son of Remaliah became king of Israel in Azariah’s fifty-second year as king of Judah, and he ruled twenty years from Samaria. 28 He disobeyed the Lord and followed the evil example of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused the Israelites to sin.
29 During Pekah’s rule, King Tiglath Pileser of Assyria marched into Israel. He captured the territories of Gilead and Galilee, including the towns of Ijon, Abel-Bethmaacah, Janoah, Kedesh, and Hazor, as well as the entire territory of Naphtali. Then he took Israelites from those regions to Assyria as prisoners.[h]
30 In the twentieth year of Jotham’s rule in Judah, Hoshea son of Elah plotted against Pekah and murdered him. Hoshea then became king of Israel.
31 Everything else Pekah did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Israel.
King Jotham of Judah
32 Jotham son of Azariah[i] became king of Judah in the second year of Pekah’s rule in Israel. 33 Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he ruled sixteen years from Jerusalem. His mother Jerusha was the daughter of Zadok.
34 Jotham followed the example of his father by obeying the Lord and doing right. 35 It was Jotham who rebuilt the Upper Gate that led into the court around the Lord’s temple. But the local shrines were not destroyed, and they were still used as places for offering sacrifices.
36 Everything else Jotham did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah. 37 During his rule, the Lord let King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel start attacking Judah. 38 Jotham died and was buried beside his ancestors in Jerusalem, and his son Ahaz became king.
King Ahaz of Judah
16 Ahaz son of Jotham became king of Judah in the seventeenth year of Pekah’s rule in Israel. 2 He was twenty years old at the time, and he ruled from Jerusalem for sixteen years.
Ahaz wasn’t like his ancestor David. Instead, he disobeyed the Lord 3 and was even more sinful than the kings of Israel. He sacrificed his own son, which was a disgusting custom of the nations that the Lord had forced out of Israel. 4 Ahaz offered sacrifices at the local shrines, as well as on every hill and in the shade of large trees.
5-6 While Ahaz was ruling Judah, the king of Edom recaptured the town of Elath from Judah and forced out the people of Judah. Edomites[j] then moved into Elath, and they still live there.
About the same time, King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel marched to Jerusalem and attacked, but they could not capture it.
7 Ahaz sent a message to King Tiglath Pileser of Assyria that said, “Your Majesty, King Rezin and King Pekah are attacking me, your loyal servant. Please come and rescue me.” 8 Along with the message, Ahaz sent silver and gold from the Lord’s temple and from the palace treasury as a gift for the Assyrian king.
9 As soon as Tiglath Pileser received the message, he and his troops marched to Syria. He captured the capital city of Damascus, then he took the people living there to the town of Kir as prisoners and killed King Rezin.[k]
10 Later, Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath Pileser. And while Ahaz was there, he saw an altar and sent a model of it back to Uriah the priest, along with the plans for building one. 11 Uriah followed the plans and built an altar exactly like the one in Damascus, finishing it just before Ahaz came back.
12 When Ahaz returned, he went to see the altar and to offer sacrifices on it. He walked up to the altar 13 and poured wine over it. Then he offered sacrifices to please the Lord, to give him thanks, and to ask for his blessings.[l] 14 After that, he had the bronze altar moved aside,[m] so his new altar would be right in front of the Lord’s temple. 15 He told Uriah the priest:
From now on, the morning and evening sacrifices as well as all gifts of grain and wine are to be offered on this altar. The sacrifices for the people and for the king must also be offered here. Sprinkle the blood from all the sacrifices on it, but leave the bronze altar for me to use for prayer and finding out what God wants me to do.
16 Uriah did everything Ahaz told him.
17 Ahaz also had the side panels and the small bowls taken off the movable stands in the Lord’s temple. He had the large bronze bowl, called the Sea, removed from the bronze bulls on which it rested and had it placed on a stand made of stone. 18 He took down the special tent that was used for worship on the Sabbath[n] and closed up the private entrance that the kings of Judah used for going into the temple. He did all these things to please Tiglath Pileser.
19 Everything else Ahaz did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah. 20 Ahaz died and was buried beside his ancestors in Jerusalem,[o] and his son Hezekiah became king.
King Hoshea of Israel
17 Hoshea son of Elah became king of Israel in the twelfth year of Ahaz’s rule in Judah, and he ruled nine years from Samaria. 2 Hoshea disobeyed the Lord and sinned, but not as much as the earlier Israelite kings had done.
3 During Hoshea’s rule, King Shalmaneser of Assyria[p] invaded Israel; he took control of the country and made Hoshea pay taxes. 4 But later, Hoshea refused to pay the taxes and asked King So of Egypt to help him rebel. When Shalmaneser found out, he arrested Hoshea and put him in prison.
Samaria Is Destroyed and the Israelites Are Taken to Assyria
5 Shalmaneser invaded Israel and attacked the city of Samaria for three years, 6 before capturing it in the ninth year of Hoshea’s rule. The Assyrian king[q] took the Israelites away to Assyria as prisoners. He forced some of them to live in the town of Halah, others to live near the Habor River in the territory of Gozan, and still others to live in towns where the Median people lived.
7 All of this happened because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had rescued them from Egypt, where they had been slaves. They worshiped foreign gods, 8 followed the customs of the nations that the Lord had forced out of Israel, and were just as sinful as the Israelite kings. 9 Even worse, the Israelites tried to hide their sins from the Lord their God. They built their own local shrines everywhere in Israel—from small towns to large, walled cities. 10 They also built stone images of foreign gods and set up sacred poles[r] for the worship of Asherah on every hill and under every shady tree. 11 They offered sacrifices at the shrines,[s] just as the foreign nations had done before the Lord forced them out of Israel. They did sinful things that made the Lord very angry.
12 Even though the Lord had commanded the Israelites not to worship idols,[t] they did it anyway. 13 So the Lord made sure that every prophet warned Israel and Judah with these words: “I, the Lord, command you to stop doing sinful things and start obeying my laws and teachings! I gave them to your ancestors, and I told my servants the prophets to repeat them to you.”
14 But the Israelites would not listen; they were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to worship the Lord their God. 15 They ignored the Lord’s warnings and commands, and they rejected the solemn agreement he had made with their ancestors. They worshiped worthless idols and became worthless themselves. The Lord had told the Israelites not to do the things that the foreign nations around them were doing, but Israel became just like them.
16 The people of Israel disobeyed all the commands of the Lord their God. They made two gold statues of calves and set up a sacred pole for Asherah; they also worshiped the stars and the god Baal. 17 They used magic and witchcraft and even sacrificed their own children. The Israelites were determined to do whatever the Lord hated. 18 The Lord became so furious with the people of Israel that he allowed them to be carried away as prisoners.
Only the people living in Judah were left, 19 but they also disobeyed the Lord’s commands and acted like the Israelites. 20 So the Lord turned his back on everyone in Israel and Judah[u] and let them be punished and defeated until no one was left.
21 Earlier, when the Lord took the northern tribes away from David’s family,[v] the people living in northern Israel chose Jeroboam son of Nebat as their king. Jeroboam caused the Israelites to sin and to stop worshiping the Lord. 22 The people kept on sinning like Jeroboam, 23 until the Lord got rid of them, just as he had warned his servants the prophets.
That’s why the people of Israel were taken away as prisoners to Assyria, and that’s where they remained.
Foreigners Are Resettled in Israel
24 The king of Assyria took people who were living in the cities of Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and forced them to move to Israel. They took over the towns where the Israelites had lived, including the capital city of Samaria.
25 At first these people did not worship the Lord, so he sent lions to attack them, and the lions killed some of them. 26 A messenger told the king of Assyria, “The people you moved to Israel don’t know how to worship the god of that country. So he sent lions that have attacked and killed some of them.”
27 The king replied, “Get one of the Israelite priests we brought here and send him back to Israel. He can live there and teach them about the god of that country.” 28 One of the Israelite priests was chosen to go back to Israel. He lived in Bethel and taught the people how to worship the Lord.
29 But in towns all over Israel, the different groups of people made statues of their own gods, then they placed these idols in local Israelite[w] shrines. 30 The people from Babylonia made the god Succoth-Benoth; those from Cuthah made the god Nergal; those from Hamath made Ashima; 31 those from Avva made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the people from Sepharvaim sacrificed their children to their own gods Adrammelech and Anammelech. 32-33 They worshiped their own gods, just as they had before they were taken away to Israel. They also worshiped the Lord, but they chose their own people to be priests at the shrines. 34 Everyone followed their old customs. None of them worshiped only the Lord, and they refused to obey the laws and commands that the Lord had given to the descendants of Jacob, the man he named Israel. 35 At the time when the Lord had made his solemn agreement with the people of Israel, he told them:
Do not worship any other gods! Do not bow down to them or offer them a sacrifice. 36 Worship only me! I am the one who rescued you from Egypt with my mighty power. Bow down to me and offer sacrifices. 37 Never worship any other god, always obey my laws and teachings, 38 and remember the solemn agreement between us.
I will say it again: Do not worship any god 39 except me. I am the Lord your God, and I will rescue you from all your enemies.
40 But the people living in Israel ignored that command and kept on following their old customs. 41 They did worship the Lord, but they also worshiped their own idols. Their descendants did the same thing.
- 15.4 local shrines: See the note at 12.3.
- 15.5 leprosy: See the note at 5.1.
- 15.10 in public: Hebrew; some manuscripts of one ancient translation “in Ibleam.”
- 15.11,12 So the Lord. . . family: See 10.28-31.
- 15.13 Azariah’s: The Hebrew text has “Uzziah’s,” another spelling of the name.
- 15.19 Tiglath Pileser: The Hebrew text has “Pul,” another name for Tiglath Pileser, who ruled Assyria from 745 to 727 B.C.
- 15.25 together with Argob and Arieh: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 15.29 prisoners: The events in this verse probably took place around 733 B.C.
- 15.32 Azariah: See the note at 15.13.
- 16.5,6 the king of Edom. . . Edomites: The Hebrew text has “King Rezin of Syria. . . Syrians”; in Hebrew, there is only one letter difference between “Edom” and “Aram,” which is the usual Hebrew name for Syria in the Bible (see also 2 Chronicles 28.17).
- 16.9 King Rezin: This probably took place around 734 B.C., before the events in 15.29.
- 16.13 offered. . . blessings: In traditional translations, these sacrifices are usually called “whole burnt offerings,” “grain offerings,” and “peace offerings.” These are described in Leviticus 1—3.
- 16.14 aside: Hebrew “to the north.”
- 16.18 the special tent. . . Sabbath: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 16.20 Jerusalem: See the note at 8.24.
- 17.3 King Shalmaneser of Assyria: The son of Tiglath Pileser, who ruled Assyria from 727 to 722 B.C.
- 17.6 The Assyrian king: Probably Sargon, Shalmaneser’s successor. Shalmaneser died after the city of Samaria was captured (722 B.C.) but before the people were taken away as prisoners (720 B.C.). Sargon ruled Assyria from 721 to 705 B.C.
- 17.10 sacred poles: See the note at 13.6,7.
- 17.11 shrines: See the note at 12.3.
- 17.12 the Lord. . . idols: See Exodus 20.4,5.
- 17.20 Israel and Judah: Or “Israel,” that is, the northern kingdom only.
- 17.21 when the Lord. . . family: See 1 Kings 11.29-39.
- 17.29 Israelite: The Hebrew text has “Samaritan,” which is a later word to describe the people who lived in northern Israel at this time.