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2 Kings Chapter 17 | Parsha:

1In the twelfth year of King Ahaz of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king over Israel in Samaria—for nine years. 2He did what was displeasing to the Lord, though not as much as the kings of Israel who preceded him. 3King Shalmaneser marched against him, and Hoshea became his vassal and paid him tribute. 4But the king of Assyria caught Hoshea in an act of treachery: he had sent envoys to King So of Egypt, and he had not paid the tribute to the king of Assyria, as in previous years. And the king of Assyria arrested him and put him in prison. 5Then the king of Assyria marched against the whole land; he came to Samaria and besieged it for three years. 6In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria. He deported the Israelites to Assyria and settled them in Halah, at the [River] Habor, at the River Gozan, and in the towns of Media.

7This happened because the Israelites sinned against the Lord their God, who had freed them from the land of Egypt, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods 8and followed the customs of the nations which the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites and the customs which the kings of Israel had practiced. 9The Israelites committed against the Lord their God acts which were not right: They built for themselves shrines in all their settlements, from watchtowers to fortified cities; 10they set up pillars and sacred posts for themselves on every lofty hill and under every leafy tree; 11and they offered sacrifices there, at all the shrines, like the nations whom the Lord had driven into exile before them. They committed wicked acts to vex the Lord, 12and they worshiped fetishes concerning which the Lord had said to them, “You must not do this thing.”

13The Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet [and] every seer, saying: “Turn back from your wicked ways, and observe My commandments and My laws, according to all the Teaching that I commanded your fathers and that I transmitted to you through My servants the prophets.” 14But they did not obey; they stiffened their necks, like their fathers who did not have faith in the Lord their God; 15they spurned His laws and the covenant that He had made with their fathers, and the warnings He had given them. They went after delusion and were deluded; [they imitated] the nations that were about them, which the Lord had forbidden them to emulate. 16They rejected all the commandments of the Lord their God; they made molten idols for themselves—two calves—and they made a sacred post and they bowed down to all the host of heaven, and they worshiped Baal. 17They consigned their sons and daughters to the fire; they practiced augury and divination, and gave themselves over to what was displeasing to the Lord and vexed Him. 18The Lord was incensed at Israel and He banished them from His presence; none was left but the tribe of Judah alone.

19Nor did Judah keep the commandments of the Lord their God; they followed the customs that Israel had practiced. 20So the Lord spurned all the offspring of Israel, and He afflicted them and delivered them into the hands of plunderers, and finally He cast them out from His presence.

21For Israel broke away from the House of David, and they made Jeroboam son of Nebat king. Jeroboam caused Israel to stray from the Lord and to commit great sin, 22and the Israelites persisted in all the sins which Jeroboam had committed; they did not depart from them. 23In the end, the Lord removed Israel from His presence, as He had warned them through all His servants the prophets. So the Israelites were deported from their land to Assyria, as is still the case.

24The king of Assyria brought [people] from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and he settled them in the towns of Samaria in place of the Israelites; they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its towns. 25When they first settled there, they did not worship the Lord; so the Lord sent lions against them which killed some of them. 26They said to the king of Assyria: “The nations which you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know the rules of the God of the land; therefore He has let lions loose against them which are killing them—for they do not know the rules of the God of the land.”

27The king of Assyria gave an order: “Send there one of the priests whom you have deported; let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the practices of the God of the land.” 28So one of the priests whom they had exiled from Samaria came and settled in Bethel; he taught them how to worship the Lord. 29However, each nation continued to make its own gods and to set them up in the cult places which had been made by the people of Samaria; each nation [set them up] in the towns in which it lived. 30The Babylonians made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children [as offerings] to Adrammelech and Anamelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32They worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed from their own ranks priests of the shrines, who officiated for them in the cult places. 33They worshiped the Lord, while serving their own gods according to the practices of the nations from which they had been deported. 34To this day, they follow their former practices. They do not worship the Lord [properly]. They do not follow the laws and practices, the Teaching and Instruction that the Lord enjoined upon the descendants of Jacob—who was given the name Israel— 35with whom He made a covenant and whom He commanded: “You shall worship no other gods; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them nor sacrifice to them. 36You must worship only the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great might and with an outstretched arm: to Him alone shall you bow down and to Him alone shall you sacrifice. 37You shall observe faithfully, all your days, the laws and the practices; the Teaching and Instruction that I wrote down for you; do not worship other gods. 38Do not forget the covenant that I made with you; do not worship other gods. 39Worship only the Lord your God, and He will save you from the hands of all your enemies.” 40But they did not obey; they continued their former practices. 41Those nations worshiped the Lord, but they also served their idols. To this day their children and their children’s children do as their ancestors did.

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