Foreign people come to live in Israel
24 The king of Assyria brought foreign people to live in the towns of Samaria. They came from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim. They lived in places in Samaria where the Israelites had lived. They took Samaria for themselves and they lived in its towns. 25 When those people first lived in Samaria, they did not worship the Lord. So the Lord sent lions among them. The lions were killing some of the people. 26 People told the king of Assyria, ‘You sent some nations of people to go and live in the towns of Samaria. But they do not know how to obey the rules of that country's god. So he has sent lions to attack them. The lions are killing them because they do not know the rules of that country's god.’
17:24Samaria here means the whole kingdom of Israel, but not the kingdom of Judah.
27 The king of Assyria replied, ‘You took some Israelite priests away from Samaria as prisoners. Send one of them back to live there. Then he can teach the people what the god of that country wants them to do.’
28 So they sent back one of the priests that they had caught and taken away to Assyria. He went to live in Bethel. He taught the people how to worship the Lord properly.
29 But the people of each nation that had gone to live in Samaria made their own idols to worship. They put them at the altars that the Israelites had built on the hills. They did this in each town where they lived. 30 The people from Babylon made idols of the god called Succoth-Benoth. The people from Cuthah made idols of the god called Nergal. The people from Hamath made idols of the god called Ashima. 31 The people from Avva made idols of their gods called Nibhaz and Tartak. The people from Sepharvaim burned their children in fire as offerings to their gods, Adrammelech and Anammelech.
17:29People thought that their gods only had power in their own country.
32 The foreign people in Samaria also worshipped the Lord. They chose some of their own people to serve as priests at the altars on the hills. 33 In this way, they worshipped the Lord, but they also served their own gods. They did that in the way that they had always done in their own countries. That was what they did before the Assyrians sent them to live in Samaria. 34 Even today, they still do things in the same way that they have always done them. They do not truly worship the Lord. They do not obey his rules, his laws or his teaching. They do not obey the commands that the Lord gave to the descendants of Jacob. Jacob was the man that the Lord gave the new name ‘Israel’. 35 The Lord made a covenant with the descendants of Israel. He said to them, ‘Do not worship any other gods. Do not bend down low to give them honour. Do not serve them. Do not offer any sacrifices to them. 36 Instead, you must worship only the Lord. He is the one who used his great power to bring you safely out of Egypt. Bend down low to give him honour. Offer sacrifices to him. 37 You must be careful to obey his rules, his teaching his laws and his commands that he wrote for you. You must not worship other gods. 38 Never forget the covenant that I made with you. Do not worship any other gods. 39 Instead, you must only worship the Lord your God. It is he who will save you from the power of all your enemies.’
40 But the foreign people who now lived in Samaria would not accept the Lord's teaching. They continued to live in the way that they always had done. 41 Even while they were worshipping the Lord, they continued to serve their own idols. Their children and their grandchildren continue to live as their fathers did, even today.