All of that took place because the people of Israel had committed sins against the LORD their God. He had brought them up out of Egypt. He had brought them out from under the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. But they worshiped other gods.
The LORD had driven out other nations to make room for them. But they followed the evil practices of those nations. They also followed the practices that the kings of Israel had started.
The people of Israel did things against the LORD their God in secret. What they did wasn't right. They built high places for worship in all of their towns. They built them at lookout towers. They also built them at cities that had high walls around them.
They set up sacred stones. And they set up poles that were used to worship the goddess Asherah. They did that on every high hill and under every green tree.
The LORD had driven out nations to make room for Israel. But the people of Israel burned incense at every high place, just as those nations had done. The Israelites did evil things that made the LORD very angry.
They worshiped statues of gods. They did it even though the LORD had said, "Do not do that."
The LORD warned Israel and Judah through all of his prophets and seers. He said, "Turn from your evil ways. Keep my commands and rules. Obey every part of my Law. I commanded your people who lived long ago to obey it. And I gave it to you through my servants the prophets."
But the people wouldn't listen. They were as stubborn as their people of long ago had been. Those people didn't trust in the LORD their God.
They refused to obey his rules. They broke the covenant he had made with them. They didn't pay any attention to the warnings he had given them. They worshiped worthless statues of gods. Then they themselves became worthless. They followed the example of the nations that were around them. They did it even though the LORD had ordered them not to. He had said, "Do not do as they do." They did the very things the LORD had told them not to do.
They turned away from all of the commands of the LORD their God. They made two statues of gods for themselves. The statues were shaped like calves. They made a pole that was used to worship the goddess Asherah. They bowed down to all of the stars. And they worshiped the god Baal.
They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced all kinds of evil magic. They gave themselves over to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord. All of those things made him very angry.
So the LORD was filled with anger against Israel. He removed them from his land. Only the tribe of Judah was left.
And even Judah didn't obey the commands of the LORD their God. They followed the practices Israel had started.
So the LORD turned his back on all of the people of Israel. He made them suffer. He handed them over to people who stole everything they had. And finally he threw them out of his land.
He tore Israel away from the royal house of David. The people of Israel made Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, their king. Jeroboam tried to get Israel to stop following the Lord. He caused them to commit a terrible sin.
The people of Israel were stubborn. They continued to commit all of the sins Jeroboam had committed. They didn't turn away from them.
So the LORD removed them from his land. That's what he had warned them he would do. He had given that warning through all of his servants the prophets. So the people of Israel were taken away from their country. They were forced to go to Assyria. And that's where they still are.
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.