In Ahaz's twelfth year as king of Judah, Hoshea, son of Elah, began to rule as king of Israel in Samaria. He ruled for nine years.
He did what the LORD considered evil, but he didn't do what the kings of Israel before him had done.
King Shalmaneser of Assyria defeated Hoshea, who became his servant and was required to make annual payments to him.
The king of Assyria found Hoshea to be a traitor. (Hoshea had sent messengers to King Dais of Egypt and had stopped making annual payments to the king of Assyria.) So the king of Assyria arrested him and put him in prison.
Then the king of Assyria attacked the entire country. He attacked Samaria and blockaded it for three years.
In Hoshea's ninth year as king of Israel, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and took the Israelites to Assyria as captives. He settled them in Halah, along the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
The Israelites sinned against the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt [and rescued them] from the power of Pharaoh (the king of Egypt). They worshiped other gods
and lived by the customs of the nations that the LORD had forced out of the Israelites' way. They also did what their kings wanted them to do.
The Israelites secretly did things against the LORD their God that weren't right: They built for themselves illegal places of worship in all of their cities, from the [smallest] watchtower to the [largest] fortified city.
They set up sacred stones and poles dedicated to the goddess Asherah on every high hill and under every large tree.
At all the illegal places of worship, they sacrificed in the same way as the nations that the LORD had removed from the land ahead of them. They did evil things and made the LORD furious.
They served idols, although the LORD had said, "Never do this."
The LORD had warned Israel and Judah through every kind of prophet and seer, "Turn from your evil ways, and obey my commands and decrees as I commanded your ancestors in all my teachings, the commands I sent to you through my servants the prophets."
But they refused to listen. They became as impossible to deal with as their ancestors who refused to trust the LORD their God.
They rejected his decrees, the promise he made to their ancestors, and the warnings he had given them. They went after worthless idols and became as worthless as the idols. They behaved like the nations around them, although the LORD had commanded them not to do that.
They abandoned all the commands of the LORD their God: They made two calves out of cast metal. They made a pole dedicated to the goddess Asherah. They prayed to the entire army of heaven. They worshiped Baal.
They sacrificed their sons and daughters by burning them alive. They practiced black magic and cast evil spells. They sold themselves by doing what the LORD considered evil, and they made him furious.
The LORD became so angry with Israel that he removed them from his sight. Only the tribe of Judah was left.
Even Judah didn't obey the commands of the LORD their God but lived according to Israel's customs.
So the LORD rejected all of Israel's descendants, made them suffer, handed them over to those who looted their property, and finally turned away from Israel.
When he tore Israel away from the family of David, the people of Israel made Jeroboam (Nebat's son) king. Jeroboam forced Israel away from the LORD and led them to commit a serious sin.
The Israelites followed all the sins Jeroboam committed and never turned away from them.
Finally, the LORD turned away from Israel as he had said he would through all his servants, the prophets. So the people of Israel were taken from their land to Assyria as captives, and they are still there today.
The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its cities.
When they first came to live there, they didn't worship the LORD. So the LORD sent lions to kill some of them.
Then someone said to the king of Assyria, "The people you took as captives and settled in the cities of Samaria don't know the customs of the god of that country, so he sent lions. Now the lions are killing them because they don't know the customs of the god of this country."
The king of Assyria gave this command: "Bring one of the priests you captured from there. Let him go back to teach them the customs of the god of that country."
So one of the priests who had been taken prisoner from Samaria went to live in Bethel. He taught them how to worship the LORD.
But each group [that settled in Samaria] continued to make its own gods. They put them at the illegal places of worship, which the people of Samaria had made. Each group did this in the cities where they lived:
The people from Babylon made Succoth Benoth. The people from Cuth made Nergal. The people from Hamath made Ashima.
The people from Avva made Nibhaz and Tartak. The people from Sepharvaim burned their children for Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.
So while these people were worshiping the LORD, they also appointed all kinds of people to serve as priests for the shrines at their illegal places of worship.
They worshiped the LORD but also served their own gods according to the customs of the nations from which they had come.
Today they are still following their customs, as they've done from the beginning. They don't fear the LORD or live by the decrees, customs, teachings, or commands that the LORD gave to the descendants of Jacob (whom he named Israel).
When the LORD made a promise to Israel, he commanded, "Never worship other gods, bow down to them, serve them, or sacrifice to them.
Instead, worship the LORD, who used his great power and a mighty arm to bring you out of Egypt. Bow down to the LORD, and sacrifice to him.
Faithfully obey the laws, rules, teachings, and commands that he wrote for you: 'Never worship other gods.
Never forget the promise I made to you. Never worship other gods.
Instead, worship the LORD your God, and he will rescue you from your enemies.'"
The people of Israel had refused to listen and made up their own rules, as they had done from the beginning.
These [other] nations worshiped the LORD but also served their own idols. So did their children and their grandchildren. They still do whatever their ancestors did.