17 Israel Taken Captive

<< 2 Kings 17: Israel Taken Captive to Assyria >>

NINEVEH was “an exceeding great city” far away to the northeast of Canaan, on the Tigris River. It was the capital of Assyria. The ruins and inscriptions now being dug from the sand show us what a great city it was from which the armies used to go out each year to put down some rebellion or to conquer some new country.

When Samuel was a child, there was a strong king in Nineveh, whom he may have heard spoken of with fear. During the days of David and Solomon, Assyria was weak; but it had now grown strong again, and Canaan and the other countries by the sea began to be in danger. From this time on Assyria was the great enemy of Israel, and the Lord could not protect them as in the old days, because they disobeyed Him and worshipped idols.

The danger grew greater year by year, and the people of Israel went on disobeying the Lord. When Hoshea was King in Samaria the Assyrians came under their king, Shalmaneser, and Hoshea had to pay a heavy tribute each year. But afterwards he plotted with the Egyptians and refused to pay the tribute.

Then Samaria was besieged three years, and taken, and the people were led away captive. The strong city of Tyre was taken after five years’ siege. The Assyrian records also tell the story, and even give a picture of the siege of Samaria. Some who read the records understand them to say that Shalmaneser died before Samaria was taken, and that the next king, Sargon, is the one who took the city.

We see the people being led captives to distant lands. How sad to be taken away from their homes that they loved, often separated from family and friends, and sent to a strange country to live, perhaps as slaves! Some of the people were placed “in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan,” which probably means the region west of Nineveh about the river Khabour, a branch of the Euphrates. Others were placed in the cities of the Medes, which were further away, to the east of the Tigris River.

These poor captives were children of Israel whose fathers the Lord had brought out of Egypt, and to whom He had promised such happiness in their own dear land, if they would be faithful to Him. And all this trouble had come upon them because they had disobeyed the Lord and worshipped idols and done evil.

Then the king of Assyria, brought strange people from other places to the cities of Samaria. Some were from Babylon on the lower Euphrates. The other places named were perhaps also along the Euphrates, except Hamath, which was the old Hittite city on the Orontes, to the north of Canaan. These strange people brought their idols and their heathen worship with them; and although a priest of Israel was sent back to them to teach them how they should fear the Lord, they only added this to their other worship, and still served their idols. We shall find that long afterwards the Jews at Jerusalem would not let these strangers help in rebuilding the temple. And even in the Gospel days the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans.

Now shall we read the story ?

In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him resents. And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king ofAssyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city. And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree: And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the LORD carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger: For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing…. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.

And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them. Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land. Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land. Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; With whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them: But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice. And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods. And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods. But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner. So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.—2 Kings XVII. 1-12, 23-41.

Author: William L. Worcester 1904

Spiritual Correspondences

Israel >> Understanding with its intelligence

Judah >> Will with its affections

Israel’s captivity >> Captivity of the understanding when it comes into states of darkness and stupidity through false beliefs

Captivity of Judah >> Captivity of the Will through evil

Assyria >> Rational faculty becomes self-confident and excuses evil >> Enemy of spiritual intelligence [Israel]

Places of captivity >> States of darkness [ignorance and evil]

Idolatrous people brought in to occupy land >> Evil and falsity replaces Truth

Lions attack >> Evil passions attack those who are not protected by true faith in the Lord

Spiritual Meaning

2 KINGS XVII

1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.

1 In that state of the celestial church in which vastation is complete, there arises a new state of the corrupted spiritual church in which also the extreme of vastation is about to occur.

2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him.

2 And this state is one of opposition to Divine Truth from Divine Good, but is distinguished from all former states of the spiritual church.

3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.

3 For then man is coming under the dominion of the corrupted Rational Faculty, which takes away all peace, rendering him a slave to mere reasoning, and devoted to its allurements.

4 And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.

4 But those who are in good In such a state of the general church depend upon the Lord for salvation and on the good of simple science or knowledge, not being allured by reasonings, as is the corrupted man continually. Yet nevertheless the good are hindered by the general state of corruption, being tempted both as to the will and as to the understanding.

5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.

5 And all the affections of man are being corrupted by false reasoning, while the doctrine of the church is completely beset by it.

6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

6 And it happens, when the conjunction of evil and falsity is at hand, that then the power of natural reasoning is allowed to fully carry a way the mind, so that man becomes entirely external as to various doctrines relating to Divine things.

7 For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,

7 For the man of the spiritual church is at all times free, and by the abuse of freedom opposes Divine Good from which is Divine Truth, although he has been liberated from the dominion of the merely natural man and the fallacies thereof; and therefore he suffers himself to be led astray by falsities and evils,

8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.

8 And is captivated by the external rituals springing from evils, from which the Lord by Redemption and Regeneration delivers mankind, and by those also which the church in its corruption invents.

9 And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.

9 Moreover he indulges in evils secretly, although it is known that such evils are sins against the Lord, and devotes himself to evils although instructed by doctrine in the spiritual church and this notwithstanding his knowledge of the truths of the Word which defend him externally and internally.

10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:

10 Also the corrupted spiritual man is led astray by falsities springing from evil affections and by falsities originating in the affection of what is false:

11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the LORD carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger:

11 For he worships, in reality, his own natural loves from which the Lord by Redemption and Regeneration continually delivers him; and by his wicked acts he averts himself from the Lord.

12 For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.

12 And thus he is guilty of genuine idolatry or self-worship, which is forbidden.

23 Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.

23 And there is no longer conjunction with the Lord by that corrupted church as Divine Truth dictates. And hence charity which constitutes the essential of the church is rejected, and the corrupted rational faculty has perpetual predominance.

24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.

24 And this corrupted rational faculty so perverts the spiritual church as to introduce evils and falsities from various sources, including the selfish love of dominion; and these falsities take the place of truths, establishing themselves both in the will and in the understanding of the man of the vastated church.

25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them.

25 Wherefore in the beginning of this state wickedness prevails, and powerful falsities from evil and ignorance cause still greater devastation.

26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.

26 And hence the man of the church appeals to his rational faculty, for there is perception that falsities when introduced cause dense ignorance of Divine Truths, and that hence also falsities from evil infest those who are in such ignorance: so that they earnestly desire deliverance from the suffering which falsity and evil naturally bring with them.

27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.

27 And therefore it is suggested by the rational faculty, that worship should be instituted which is grounded in celestial good, according to the state of the corrupted church, and that from such worship should be derived some knowledge of truth.

28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.

28 And this is actually effected in the vastated church; for celestial good as it is manifested in the natural mind of man, in such a state, is the essential of worship, and according to it some truth is taught.

29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.

29 But yet everyone, according to the state of the natural mind, adopts falsities as truths, uniting them with his natural affections, which are ignorant of truth, these falsities being formed from evils.

30 And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,

30 And thus adulterated and falsified truths are adopted by those who are in the love of dominion from the love of self; evils from inmost falsities by those who are in the pride of intellect from the love of self; the falsities of a barren faith bv those who are in falsities from the love of the world;

31 And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.

31 Evils producing falsities by those who are in worldly passions from the love of the world, these evils inducing ignorance; and evils and falsities from merely sensual love by those who are in such love, and thereby destroy in themselves heavenly truth and affection.

32 So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.

32 And thus, while there is, by this vastated spiritual church, some acknowledgment of the Lord, yet they are devoted to merely natural loves and hence to external worship without an internal principle.

33 They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.

33 In fact, they acknowledge the Lord with the understanding accompanied by slavish fear, but their wills are given up to their own natural loves, even as is the case with those who are in evil and at the same time in ignorance.

34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel;

34 And this they do perpetually, according to habit formed from life; they have no true fear of the Lord grounded in love, neither do they act according to the externals of worship as to truth and good, nor according to the internals of worship in particular and generally, by which man may become, from the Lord, internal instead of external.

35 With whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:

35 For it is by the internal or spiritual part that man has conjunction with the Lord, and from which he perceives that devotion to a merely natural life, either as to thought or to affection internally, or as to thought or as to affection externally, is not allowable.

36 But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.

36 But, on the contrary, that the Lord ought to be truly worshipped, both as to understanding, as to will, and as to the outward life, because He alone, by Divine Omnipotence, in particular and in general, has delivered mankind from the bondage of merely natural love.

37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.

37 And that, therefore, man ought to keep the laws of Divine Order, both as to truth and good externally, and as to truth and good internally, because these are revealed in the Word, and are worthy of perpetual observance; whence it is not allowable, to the spiritual man, to become absorbed in merely natural things.

38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.

38 But he ought to remember his capacity for conjunction with the Lord, and not to he led astray into evils and errors.

39 But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.

39 Wherefore he should truly be elevated to Divine Truth from Divine Good from which there is actual deliverance from all sin and falsity.

40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.

40 But those who are of the vastated church are not willing to truly fear the Lord, freely preferring their own depraved loves.

41 So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

41 So that there remains to them only the slavish fear of the Lord, which is he fear of punishment; and yet they are devoted to the falsities, or rather to the phantasies of their evils. And this state remains with them through all the successive stages of their eternal life, because evil and falsity cannot produce any states but such as are evil and false, and according to their ruling loves so they act perpetually.

Author: Rev. HENRY MACLAGAN (1905)