The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Fourth Book of Kings
It was in the twelfth year of Achaz that Osee, son of Ela, began his reign at Sa-maria; it lasted nine years.
He too defied the Lord’s will, yet not so wantonly as the other kings of Israel before him.
This king was attacked by Salmanasar, king of the Assyrians, and made his vassal, and forced to pay tribute.
Afterwards, the Assyrian king found out that he had sent an embassy to Sua, king of Egypt, hoping thus to rebel, and to be rid of his yearly tribute; whereupon he seized him, put him in chains, and imprisoned him.
Then he overran the whole country with his troops, and marched against Samaria, which for three whole years he kept beleaguered.
At last, in the ninth year of Osee, Samaria was taken, and all the Israelites carried off to the Assyrian country; where they were settled in Hala, in Habor, by the river of Gozan, and among the cities of Media.
Such was their doom, who had no sooner escaped from Egypt and from the power of Pharao, than they wronged the God who had rescued them by worshipping alien gods instead.
Afterwards, they took their forms of worship from the very nations the Lord had driven out to make room for them, or from kings who imitated their ways.
With false inventions these Israelites offended the Lord that was their own God, making themselves mountain shrines in all their townships from lonely hamlet to walled city.✻
No high hill, no leafy wood, but had its images and its sacred trees;
and there they burnt incense on their altars, imitating the nations God had dispossessed before their onslaught. Foul deeds were done, to challenge the Lord’s anger,
shameless rites practised, such as the Lord had forbidden expressly.
The Lord did not leave himself without witness; by prophet and seer he warned them, Come back from these graceless ways, follow precept and observance of mine; as the law bids you, that I enjoined on your fathers; as the prophets bade you, my servants that spoke in my name.
But they gave him never a hearing; strained at his yoke; they would be like their fathers, obstinately defying the Lord their God.
The usages he had taught them, the covenant he had made with their fathers, the warnings he had given them by his prophets, all lightly cast aside, to false rites they betook themselves, and learned false ways; imitated the forbidden example of the heathen round about them.
Forgotten, all the commandments of the Lord their God; they must have two golden calves, they must have sacred trees, they must worship all the host of heaven, and become Baal’s servants;
consecrate their sons and daughters by passage through the fire, take their orders from wizard and soothsayer; enslave themselves to defiance of the Lord’s will, and provoke his vengeance.
So it was that the Lord, in anger, banished Israel from his presence, and the tribe of Juda stood alone
(not that even these kept the commandments of the Lord their God; these too strayed into false paths, of Israel’s making).
All Israel’s race, then, the Lord cast off; humbled them, and left them at the spoiler’s mercy; was ready, at last, to banish them from his presence altogether.
So it was decreed, from the time when the Israelites first cut themselves off from David’s line, and made Jeroboam, son of Nabat, their king; Jeroboam it was that drove men away from the Lord’s worship, and taught them to commit heinous sin.
To his evil example the men of Israel clung, and would never forgo it,
until at last the Lord banished them from his presence, as all his prophets had foretold in his name, and they were carried off from their own country into Assyria, where they remain to this day.
And now the Assyrian king brought men from Babylon, and Cutha, and Avah, and Emath, and Sepharvaim, and settled these, instead of the Israelites, in the cities that belonged to Samaria. So they took possession of it, and made their homes in its cities,
but at their first coming they paid the Lord no reverence, and thereupon he sent a plague of lions, that preyed upon them.
News of this came to the Assyrian king, and a warning with it: The nations thou hast removed, and settled down in the cities of Samaria, have never learned how the God of that land would be worshipped; and he, the Lord, has sent a plague of lions among them. Must they die for want of knowledge how their new God is to be worshipped?
So the Assyrian king gave orders that one of the priests carried away thence should be restored to his home; should go to live among them, and teach them how to worship the Lord.
So one of the exiled priests from Samaria came to live at Bethel, and teach them he did;
but still each nation would fashion the image of its own god, and they set up these images in the hill-shrines they had made, one in this city and another in that.
The men of Babylon must have Socoth-Benoth, and the Chutaeans Nergel, and the Emathites Asima,
and the Hevites Nabahaz and Tharthac; while the men of Sepharvaim offered their own children to the gods of Sepharvaim, Adramelech and Anamelech.
And in spite of it, they worshipped the Lord. They found priests among the dregs of the people, fit to serve hill-shrines, and in the hill-shrines they installed them;
but though they worshipped the Lord, they still paid court to their own gods with the usages of their own folk, learned before ever they came to Samaria.
And so it is to this day; the old habits still cling. This is not to fear the Lord, this is not to keep observance and decree, law and command, as the sons of Jacob should; Jacob, to whom the Lord gave his name of Israel.
With them he made a covenant; and by that covenant they were to give alien gods neither fear nor reverence, neither worship nor sacrifice.
To the Lord your God, he told them, the God who rescued you from Egypt with such signal proofs of his constraining power, all fear, all worship, all sacrifice belongs;
his the observances, his the decrees, his the law of tabled precepts, that you must keep ever in mind, obey ever in act; no alien god must you fear.
Never let his covenant go unremembered; the worship you deny to alien gods
give to him only; then he will deliver you from the power of your enemies.
To all this they paid no heed; old custom was still the rule they lived by.
Here then, were nations that worshipped the Lord, yet obeyed their own false gods still; their sons, their grandsons did no better; and such is the rule they follow down to this day.
The Holy Bible