2 Kings 15:30; 17:1-6
“Scornful men bring a city into a snare: but wise men turn away wrath.”—Proverbs 29:8
“In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.” He was the last of the nineteen kings who ruled (or, rather, misruled) Israel. An interregnum of at least eight years (see Hezekiah) occurred between the murder of Pekah, his predecessor, and his actual assumption of the throne. Why this kingless interval, we have no means of knowing, nor how the time was occupied. Josephus, even if we could always trust him, gives us no help here (the usual way of re-writers, or would-be improvers, of Scripture history), for he passes the subject over in silence. But God’s word has chronicled Hoshea’s wickedness thus: “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him.” There is nothing in the last clause of the above that could be construed to Hoshea’s credit, for the Assyrian plunderers had in all probability removed and carried away the golden calves of Dan and Bethel. See Hosea 10:5-8. If he did not worship them, or other abominations, it was not because he “abhorred idols” (Rom. 2:22).
But his evil doings, whatever their character, speedily brought the Assyrian, “the rod of God’s anger,” upon him and his iniquitous subjects. “Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.” He who conspired against his weaker Israelitish master attempted the same (to his sorrow) with his powerful Gentile lord. “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.”
What follows, in reference to the siege of Samaria, occurred, in point of time, before Hoshea’s imprisonment, though recorded after. “Hoshea’s imprisonment was not
before the capture of Samaria, but the sacred writer first records the
eventual fate of Hoshea himself, then details the invasion as it affected Samaria and Israel”
(Fausset). “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.” This siege and capture of Samaria are recorded on the monuments of Assyria just as they are narrated here in 2 Kings 17. What finally became of Hoshea is not revealed, unless he is the king meant in the prophet’s poetic allusion, “As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the wa- ter” (Hos. 10:7). His name means
deliverer, and may have a prophetic significance, as a gracious reminder to the now long scattered nation, of that great “Deliverer” who shall “come out of Zion” (God’s grace) “and turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” And then, and so, “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26).
A brief review of Israel’s course and its consequences is now given us: as in 2 Chron. 36:15-23 the end
Judah’s kingdom is given us, with a glimpse, there, of coming mercy to a remnant.
So instructive and touching is the inspired review given of Israel’s downward course, in the passage following what has been already quoted (in reference to the siege and capture of Samaria), that we cannot forbear repeating it here in full:
“And it was so, because the children of Israel had sinned against Jehovah their God, who 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 they walked in the statutes of the nations that Jehovah had dispossessed from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. And the children of Israel did secretly against their God things that were not right; and they built them high places in all their cities, from the watchmen’s tower to the fortified city. And they set them up columns [or statutes] and Asherahs on every high hill and under every green tree; and there they burned incense on all the high places, as did the nations that Jehovah had carried away from before them, and they wrought wicked things to provoke Jehovah to anger; and they served idols, as to which Jehovah had said to them, Ye shall not do this thing. And Jehovah testified against Israel and against Judah, by all the prophets, all the seers, saying, Turn from your evil ways, and keep my commandments, my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets. But they would not hear, and hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, who did not believe in Jehovah their God. And they rejected His statutes, and His covenant which He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified unto them; and they followed vanity and became vain, and [went] after the nations that were round about them, concerning whom Jehovah had charged them that they should not do like them. And they forsook all the commandments of Jehovah their God, and made them molten images, two calves, and made an Asherah, and worshiped all the host of the heavens, and served Baal; and they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of Jehovah, to provoke Him to anger. Therefore Jehovah was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of His sight. There remained but the tribe of Judah only. Also Judah kept not the commandments of Jehovah their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they had made. And Jehovah rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hands of spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight. For Israel had rent [the kingdom] from the house of David; and they had made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king; and Jeroboam violently turned Israel from following Jehovah, and made them sin a great sin. And the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them: until Jehovah had removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said through all His servants the prophets, and Israel was carried away out of their own land to Assyria, unto this day” (2 Kings 17:7-23, N. Tr.).
It has been truly observed that “the most dismal picture of Old Testament history is that of the kingdom of Israel.” Of the nine distinct dynasties that successively ruled the dissevered tribes, three ended with the total extirpation of the reigning family. The kingdom continued for a period of about two hundred and fifty years, and the inspired records of those eventful two-and-a-half centuries of Israel’s kings and people furnish us with little more than repeated and fearful exhibitions of lawlessness and evil. Out of the nineteen kings that reigned from the great schism to the deportation to the land of Assyria, only seven died natural deaths (Baasha, Omri, Jehu, Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam II., and Menahem); seven were assassinated (Nadab, Elah, Joram, Zachariah, Shallum, Pekaiah, and Pekah); one committed suicide (Zimri); one died of wounds received in battle (Ahab); one was “struck” by the judgment of God (Jeroboam); one died of injuries received from a fall (Ahaziah); and the other, and last (Hoshea), apparently was “cut off as foam upon the water.” To this not unmeaning array of facts must be added two prolonged periods of anarchy, when “there was no king in Israel,” every man doing, in all likelihood,” that which was right in his own eyes.”
The kingdom of Judah continued for more than a century and a quarter after the kingdom of Israel had ceased to exist, making its history fully one-third longer than that of the ten tribes. Then it too, like its sister-kingdom, fell into disintegration and decay, and was given up to the first universal empire, under the renowned Nebuchadnezzar. This world-monarchy began the “times of the Gentiles,” during which “the Most High ruleth over [not ‘in,’ as in A. V.] the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will” (Dan. 4:25)—setting up over it, at times, even “the basest of men” (as Belshazzar, the last Darius, Alexander, Nero, etc.). Since that day empire has superseded empire, dynasty has supplanted dynasty, and king succeeded king, as God has said, “I will overturn, overturn, overturn it! This also shall be no [more], until He come whose right it is; and I will give it [to Him]” (Ezek. 21:27, N. Tr.). It is “till He come,” which, we hope, will be very soon; and then the eye of weeping, waiting Israel “shall see the King in His beauty.”
But before this, one, “the wilful king,” the “profane, wicked prince of Israel” (the Antichrist), must come. And from his unworthy head shall be removed the mitre-crown (see Ezek. 21:25, 26, N. Tr.), to be placed, with many others, on the once thorn-crowned brow of Him who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. That, Christian reader, will be our highest joy and glory, to see Him, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, honored and owned by all, as God’s “First-born, higher than the kings of the earth.”
“The Ruler over men shall be just,
Ruling in the fear of God;
And He shall be as the light of the morning,
Like the rising of the sun,
A morning without clouds,
When, from the sunshine after rain,
The green grass springeth from the earth.
For this is all my salvation,
And every desire “
(2 Sam. 23:3-5, N. Tr.)
“Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”