The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon. He also brought them from Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim. He settled all of them in the towns of Samaria. They took the place of the people of Israel. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns.
When they first lived there, they didn't worship the Lord. So he sent lions among them. And the lions killed some of the people.
A report was given to the king of Assyria. He was told, "You forced people to leave their own homes. You settled them in the towns of Samaria. But they don't know what the god of that country requires. So he has sent lions among them. And the lions are killing the people off. That's because the people don't know what that god requires."
Then the king of Assyria gave an order. He said, "Get one of the priests you captured from Samaria. Send him back to live there. Have him teach the people what the god of that land requires."
So one of the priests went back to live in Bethel. He was one of those who had been forced to leave Samaria. He taught the people there how to worship the Lord.
In spite of that, the people from each nation made statues of their own gods. They made them in all of the towns where they had settled. They set up those statues in small temples. The people of Samaria had built the temples at the high places.
The people from Babylon made statues of the god Succoth Benoth. Those from Cuthah made statues of Nergal. Those from Hamath made statues of Ashima.
The Avvites made statues of Nibhaz and Tartak. The Sepharvites sacrificed their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech. They were the gods of Sepharvaim.
So the people of Samaria worshiped the Lord. But they also appointed all kinds of their own people to serve them as priests. The priests served in the small temples at the high places.
The people worshiped the Lord. But they also served their own gods. They followed the evil practices of the nations from which they had been brought.
They are still stubborn. They continue in their old practices to this very day. And now they don't even worship the Lord. They don't follow his directions and rules. They don't obey his laws and commands. The LORD had given all of those laws to the family of Jacob. He gave the name Israel to Jacob.
The LORD made a covenant with the people of Israel. At that time he commanded them, "Do not worship any other gods. Do not bow down to them. Do not serve them or sacrifice to them.
I am the one you must worship. I brought you up out of Egypt by my great power. I saved you by reaching out my mighty arm. You must bow down to me. You must offer sacrifices to me.
You must always be careful to follow my directions and rules. You must obey the laws and commands I wrote for you. Do not worship other gods.
"Do not forget the covenant I made with you. And remember, you must not worship other gods.
Instead, worship me. I will save you from the powerful hand of all of your enemies. I am the LORD your God."
But the people wouldn't listen. Instead, they were stubborn. They continued in their old practices.
They worshiped the Lord. But at the same time, they served the statues of their gods. And to this very day their children and grandchildren continue to do what their people before them did.