2 Kings 15-17

Chapter 15

Uzziah (Rembrandt, 1635)

Uzziah (Rembrandt, 1635)

We’re up to King Azariah (aka Uzziah) of Judah, who Yahweh struck with leprosy because he did not destroy the pagan shrines. The rest of this chapter lists a long succession of various kings of Israel and Judah who do evil in the lord’s sight and are variously at war and/or assassinated. Their claims to fame include ripping open pregnant women and extortion. I’m not even going to waste any more time studying the details. The once-great nation of Israel is clearly a train wreck and heading for oblivion.

Chapter 16

It’s no surprise that this is just more of the same. It starts with King Ahaz of Judah, who practices child sacrifice, along with other pagan rituals. And everyone seems to be at war with everyone else. If military history fascinates you, go ahead and knock yourself out trying to figure out who is allied with whom. From verse 5, I figure that old enemies Israel and Aram are now allied and attacking Judah, which used to be part of Israel. Go figure. Judah begs Assyria for help, and pays off the Assyrian king using the royal treasury, so Assyria invades Aram and takes its people as hostage. King Ahaz then swears allegiance to Assyria and defers to their customs by copying the Assyrian altar.

Chapter 17

The rest is all the same only worse. Only a few more chapters to go and we’ll be done with Kings, and it’s like reading the about the last days of the Third Reich. The Israelites are now vassals to Assyria, but the king of Israel conspires against Assyria, so Assyria invades Israel, besieges Samaria (the capital) for 3 years, and finally exiles all the Israelites to Assyria. Now only Judah remains. A lengthy explanation follows (v 7-23); basically it blames the Israelites for not following all the covenants set out by Moses (see Deuteronomy 29).

Now Assyria repopulates the abandoned Israelite towns with people from all over, but because the newcomers don’t worship Yahwah, they are beset by lions. So the king sends to Assyria to get some of the Israelite priests back, to teach Israelite customs and worship practices to the immigrants. Does this strike anyone else as laughable? Israeli territory ends up as a multi-cultural mixed bag, with each community of settlers mixing their ancestral customs with those of Israel. Sort of like what happens now in most parts of the world. Bet Yahweh won’t like it though.

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