All this took place because the Israelites had sinned1 against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt2 from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods
and followed the practices of the nations3 the LORD had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced.
The Israelites secretly did things against the LORD their God that were not right. From watchtower to fortified city4 they built themselves high places in all their towns.
They set up sacred stones5 and Asherah poles6 on every high hill and under every spreading tree.711
At every high place they burned incense, as the nations whom the LORD had driven out before them had done. They did wicked things that provoked the LORD to anger.
They worshiped idols,8 though the LORD had said, "You shall not do this."a13
The LORD warned9 Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers:10 "Turn from your evil ways.11 Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your fathers to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets."1214
But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked13 as their fathers, who did not trust in the LORD their God.
They rejected his decrees and the covenant14 he had made with their fathers and the warnings he had given them. They followed worthless idols15 and themselves became worthless.16 They imitated the nations17 around them although the LORD had ordered them, "Do not do as they do," and they did the things the LORD had forbidden them to do.
They forsook all the commands of the LORD their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves,18 and an Asherah19 pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts,20 and they worshiped Baal.2117
They sacrificed22 their sons and daughters inb the fire. They practiced divination and sorcery23 and sold24 themselves to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger.
So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence.25 Only the tribe of Judah was left,
and even Judah did not keep the commands of the LORD their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced.2620
Therefore the LORD rejected all the people of Israel; he afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers,27 until he thrust them from his presence.2821
When he tore29 Israel away from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat their king.30 Jeroboam enticed Israel away from following the LORD and caused them to commit a great sin.3122
The Israelites persisted in all the sins of Jeroboam and did not turn away from them
until the LORD removed them from his presence,32 as he had warned33 through all his servants the prophets. So the people of Israel were taken from their homeland34 into exile in Assyria, and they are still there.
The king of Assyria35 brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim36 and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns.
When they first lived there, they did not worship the LORD; so he sent lions37 among them and they killed some of the people.
It was reported to the king of Assyria: "The people you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god of that country requires. He has sent lions among them, which are killing them off, because the people do not know what he requires."
Then the king of Assyria gave this order: "Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires."
So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the LORD.
Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns38 where they settled, and set them up in the shrines39 the people of Samaria had made at the high places.40