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2 Kings 17:1-11 (The Message)

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1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king of Israel. He ruled in Samaria for nine years. 2 As far as God was concerned, he lived a bad life, but not nearly as bad as the kings who had preceded him. 3 Then Shalmaneser king of Assyria attacked. Hoshea was already a puppet of the Assyrian king and regularly sent him tribute, 4 but Shalmaneser discovered that Hoshea had been operating traitorously behind his back - having worked out a deal with King So of Egypt. And, adding insult to injury, Hoshea was way behind on his annual payments of tribute to Assyria. So the king of Assyria arrested him and threw him in prison, 5 then proceeded to invade the entire country. He attacked Samaria and threw up a siege against it. The siege lasted three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea's reign the king of Assyria captured Samaria and took the people into exile in Assyria. He relocated them in Halah, in Gozan along the Habor River, and in the towns of the Medes. 7 The exile came about because of sin: The children of Israel sinned against God, their God, who had delivered them from Egypt and the brutal oppression of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They took up with other gods, 8 fell in with the ways of life of the pagan nations God had chased off, and went along with whatever their kings did. 9 They did all kinds of things on the sly, things offensive to their God, then openly and shamelessly built local sex-and-religion shrines at every available site. 10 They set up their sex-and-religion symbols at practically every crossroads. 11 Everywhere you looked there was smoke from their pagan offerings to the deities - the identical offerings that had gotten the pagan nations off into exile. They had accumulated a long list of evil actions and God was fed up,
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