2 Kings 17:1-18:12
King Hoshea of Israel
17 Hoshea son of Elah became king of Israel in the twelfth year of Ahaz’s rule in Judah, and he ruled nine years from Samaria. 2 Hoshea disobeyed the Lord and sinned, but not as much as the earlier Israelite kings had done.
3 During Hoshea’s rule, King Shalmaneser of Assyria[a] invaded Israel; he took control of the country and made Hoshea pay taxes. 4 But later, Hoshea refused to pay the taxes and asked King So of Egypt to help him rebel. When Shalmaneser found out, he arrested Hoshea and put him in prison.
Samaria Is Destroyed and the Israelites Are Taken to Assyria
5 Shalmaneser invaded Israel and attacked the city of Samaria for three years, 6 before capturing it in the ninth year of Hoshea’s rule. The Assyrian king[b] took the Israelites away to Assyria as prisoners. He forced some of them to live in the town of Halah, others to live near the Habor River in the territory of Gozan, and still others to live in towns where the Median people lived.
7 All of this happened because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had rescued them from Egypt, where they had been slaves. They worshiped foreign gods, 8 followed the customs of the nations that the Lord had forced out of Israel, and were just as sinful as the Israelite kings. 9 Even worse, the Israelites tried to hide their sins from the Lord their God. They built their own local shrines everywhere in Israel—from small towns to large, walled cities. 10 They also built stone images of foreign gods and set up sacred poles[c] for the worship of Asherah on every hill and under every shady tree. 11 They offered sacrifices at the shrines,[d] just as the foreign nations had done before the Lord forced them out of Israel. They did sinful things that made the Lord very angry.
12 Even though the Lord had commanded the Israelites not to worship idols,[e] they did it anyway. 13 So the Lord made sure that every prophet warned Israel and Judah with these words: “I, the Lord, command you to stop doing sinful things and start obeying my laws and teachings! I gave them to your ancestors, and I told my servants the prophets to repeat them to you.”
14 But the Israelites would not listen; they were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to worship the Lord their God. 15 They ignored the Lord’s warnings and commands, and they rejected the solemn agreement he had made with their ancestors. They worshiped worthless idols and became worthless themselves. The Lord had told the Israelites not to do the things that the foreign nations around them were doing, but Israel became just like them.
16 The people of Israel disobeyed all the commands of the Lord their God. They made two gold statues of calves and set up a sacred pole for Asherah; they also worshiped the stars and the god Baal. 17 They used magic and witchcraft and even sacrificed their own children. The Israelites were determined to do whatever the Lord hated. 18 The Lord became so furious with the people of Israel that he allowed them to be carried away as prisoners.
Only the people living in Judah were left, 19 but they also disobeyed the Lord’s commands and acted like the Israelites. 20 So the Lord turned his back on everyone in Israel and Judah[f] and let them be punished and defeated until no one was left.
21 Earlier, when the Lord took the northern tribes away from David’s family,[g] the people living in northern Israel chose Jeroboam son of Nebat as their king. Jeroboam caused the Israelites to sin and to stop worshiping the Lord. 22 The people kept on sinning like Jeroboam, 23 until the Lord got rid of them, just as he had warned his servants the prophets.
That’s why the people of Israel were taken away as prisoners to Assyria, and that’s where they remained.
Foreigners Are Resettled in Israel
24 The king of Assyria took people who were living in the cities of Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and forced them to move to Israel. They took over the towns where the Israelites had lived, including the capital city of Samaria.
25 At first these people did not worship the Lord, so he sent lions to attack them, and the lions killed some of them. 26 A messenger told the king of Assyria, “The people you moved to Israel don’t know how to worship the god of that country. So he sent lions that have attacked and killed some of them.”
27 The king replied, “Get one of the Israelite priests we brought here and send him back to Israel. He can live there and teach them about the god of that country.” 28 One of the Israelite priests was chosen to go back to Israel. He lived in Bethel and taught the people how to worship the Lord.
29 But in towns all over Israel, the different groups of people made statues of their own gods, then they placed these idols in local Israelite[h] shrines. 30 The people from Babylonia made the god Succoth-Benoth; those from Cuthah made the god Nergal; those from Hamath made Ashima; 31 those from Avva made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the people from Sepharvaim sacrificed their children to their own gods Adrammelech and Anammelech. 32-33 They worshiped their own gods, just as they had before they were taken away to Israel. They also worshiped the Lord, but they chose their own people to be priests at the shrines. 34 Everyone followed their old customs. None of them worshiped only the Lord, and they refused to obey the laws and commands that the Lord had given to the descendants of Jacob, the man he named Israel. 35 At the time when the Lord had made his solemn agreement with the people of Israel, he told them:
Do not worship any other gods! Do not bow down to them or offer them a sacrifice. 36 Worship only me! I am the one who rescued you from Egypt with my mighty power. Bow down to me and offer sacrifices. 37 Never worship any other god, always obey my laws and teachings, 38 and remember the solemn agreement between us.
I will say it again: Do not worship any god 39 except me. I am the Lord your God, and I will rescue you from all your enemies.
40 But the people living in Israel ignored that command and kept on following their old customs. 41 They did worship the Lord, but they also worshiped their own idols. Their descendants did the same thing.
King Hezekiah of Judah
18 Hezekiah son of Ahaz became king of Judah in the third year of Hoshea’s rule in Israel. 2 Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he ruled twenty-nine years from Jerusalem. His mother Abi was the daughter of Zechariah.
3 Hezekiah obeyed the Lord, just as his ancestor David had done. 4 He destroyed the local shrines, then tore down the images of foreign gods and cut down the sacred pole for worshiping the goddess Asherah. He also smashed the bronze snake Moses had made. The people had named it Nehushtan[i] and had been offering sacrifices to it.
5 Hezekiah trusted the Lord God of Israel. No other king of Judah was like Hezekiah, either before or after him. 6 He was completely faithful to the Lord and obeyed the laws the Lord had given to Moses for the people. 7 The Lord helped Hezekiah, so he was successful in everything he did. He even rebelled against the king of Assyria, refusing to be his servant. 8 Hezekiah defeated the Philistine towns as far away as Gaza—from the smallest towns to the large, walled cities.
9 During the fourth year of Hezekiah’s rule, which was the seventh year of Hoshea’s rule in Israel, King Shalmaneser of Assyria led his troops to Samaria, the capital city of Israel. They attacked 10 and captured it three years later,[j] in the sixth year of Hezekiah’s rule and the ninth year of Hoshea’s rule. 11 The king of Assyria[k] took the Israelites away as prisoners; he forced some of them to live in the town of Halah, others to live near the Habor River in the territory of Gozan, and still others to live in towns where the Median people lived. 12 All of that happened because the people of Israel had not obeyed the Lord their God. They rejected the solemn agreement he had made with them, and they ignored everything that the Lord’s servant Moses had told them.
- 17.3 King Shalmaneser of Assyria: The son of Tiglath Pileser, who ruled Assyria from 727 to 722 B.C.
- 17.6 The Assyrian king: Probably Sargon, Shalmaneser’s successor. Shalmaneser died after the city of Samaria was captured (722 B.C.) but before the people were taken away as prisoners (720 B.C.). Sargon ruled Assyria from 721 to 705 B.C.
- 17.10 sacred poles: See the note at 13.6,7.
- 17.11 shrines: See the note at 12.3.
- 17.12 the Lord. . . idols: See Exodus 20.4,5.
- 17.20 Israel and Judah: Or “Israel,” that is, the northern kingdom only.
- 17.21 when the Lord. . . family: See 1 Kings 11.29-39.
- 17.29 Israelite: The Hebrew text has “Samaritan,” which is a later word to describe the people who lived in northern Israel at this time.
- 18.4 the bronze snake. . . Nehushtan: See Numbers 21.8,9. “Nehushtan” is a nickname that sounds like the Hebrew words for “snake” and “bronze.”
- 18.10 three years later: When the Israelites measured time, part of a year could be counted as a whole year.
- 18.11 The king of Assyria: Probably Sargon, Shalmaneser’s successor (see the note at 17.6).
Paul Goes through Macedonia and Greece
20 When the riot was over, Paul sent for the followers and encouraged them. He then told them good-by and left for Macedonia. 2 As he traveled from place to place, he encouraged the followers with many messages. Finally, he went to Greece[a] 3 and stayed there for three months.
Paul was about to sail to Syria. But some of the Jewish leaders plotted against him, so he decided to return by way of Macedonia. 4 With him were Sopater, son of Pyrrhus from Berea, and Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica. Gaius from Derbe was also with him, and so were Timothy and the two Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5 They went on ahead to Troas and waited for us there. 6 After the Festival of Thin Bread, we sailed from Philippi. Five days later we met them in Troas and stayed there for a week.
Paul’s Last Visit to Troas
7 On the first day of the week[b] we met to break bread together.[c] Paul spoke to the people until midnight because he was leaving the next morning. 8 In the upstairs room where we were meeting, there were a lot of lamps. 9 A young man by the name of Eutychus was sitting on a window sill. While Paul was speaking, the young man got very sleepy. Finally, he went to sleep and fell three floors all the way down to the ground. When they picked him up, he was dead.
10 Paul went down and bent over Eutychus. He took him in his arms and said, “Don’t worry! He’s alive.” 11 After Paul had gone back upstairs, he broke bread, and ate with us. He then spoke until dawn and left. 12 Then the followers took the young man home alive and were very happy.
The Voyage from Troas to Miletus
13 Paul decided to travel by land to Assos. The rest of us went on ahead by ship, and we were to take him aboard there. 14 When he met us in Assos, he came aboard, and we sailed on to Mitylene. 15 The next day we came to a place near Chios, and the following day we reached Samos. The day after that we sailed to Miletus. 16 Paul had decided to sail on past Ephesus, because he did not want to spend too much time in Asia. He was in a hurry and wanted to be in Jerusalem in time for Pentecost.[d]
Paul Says Good-By to the Church Leaders of Ephesus
17 From Miletus, Paul sent a message for the church leaders at Ephesus to come and meet with him. 18 When they got there, he said:
You know everything I did during the time I was with you when I first came to Asia. 19 Some of the Jews plotted against me and caused me a lot of sorrow and trouble. But I served the Lord and was humble. 20 When I preached in public or taught in your homes, I didn’t hold back from telling anything that would help you. 21 I told Jews and Gentiles to turn to God and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
22 I don’t know what will happen to me in Jerusalem, but I must obey God’s Spirit and go there. 23 In every city I visit, I am told by the Holy Spirit that I will be put in jail and will be in trouble in Jerusalem. 24 But I don’t care what happens to me, as long as I finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do. And that work is to tell the good news about God’s great kindness.
25 I have gone from place to place, preaching to you about God’s kingdom, but now I know that none of you will ever see me again. 26 I tell you today that I am no longer responsible for any of you! 27 I have told you everything God wants you to know. 28 Look after yourselves and everyone the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be like shepherds to God’s church. It is the flock that he bought with the blood of his own Son.[e]
29 I know that after I am gone, others will come like fierce wolves to attack you. 30 Some of your own people will tell lies to win over the Lord’s followers. 31 Be on your guard! Remember how day and night for three years I kept warning you with tears in my eyes.
32 I now place you in God’s care. Remember the message about his great kindness! This message can help you and give you what belongs to you as God’s people. 33 I have never wanted anyone’s money or clothes. 34 You know how I have worked with my own hands to make a living for myself and my friends. 35 By everything I did, I showed how you should work to help everyone who is weak. Remember that our Lord Jesus said, “More blessings come from giving than from receiving.”
36 After Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 Everyone cried and hugged and kissed him. 38 They were especially sad because Paul had told them, “You will never see me again.”
Then they went with him to the ship.
- 20.2 Greece: Probably Corinth.
- 20.7 On the first day of the week: Since the Jewish day began at sunset, the meeting would have begun in the evening.
- 20.7 break bread together: See the note at 2.46.
- 20.16 in time for Pentecost: The Jewish people liked to be in Jerusalem for this festival (see the note at 2.1).
- 20.28 the blood of his own Son: Or “his own blood.”
Come Praise the Lord
148 Shout praises to the Lord!
Shout the Lord’s praises
in the highest heavens.
2 All of you angels,
and all who serve him above,
come and offer praise.
3 Sun and moon,
and all of you bright stars,
come and offer praise.
4 Highest heavens,
and the water
above the highest heavens,[a]
come and offer praise.
5 Let all things praise
the name of the Lord,
because they were created
at his command.
6 He made them to last forever,
and nothing can change
what he has done.[b]
7 All creatures on earth,
you obey his commands,
so come praise the Lord!
8 Sea monsters and the deep sea,
fire and hail,
snow and frost,
and every stormy wind,
come praise the Lord!
9 All mountains and hills,
fruit trees and cedars,
10 every wild and tame animal,
all reptiles and birds,
come praise the Lord!
11 Every king and every ruler,
all nations on earth,
12 every man and every woman,
young people and old,
come praise the Lord!
13 All creation, come praise
the name of the Lord.
Praise his name alone.
The glory of God is greater
than heaven and earth.
14 Like a bull with mighty horns,
the Lord protects
his faithful nation Israel,
because they belong to him.
Shout praises to the Lord!
6 Foolish talk will get you
into a lot of trouble.
7 Saying foolish things
is like setting a trap
to destroy yourself.