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This chapter relates the captivity of the ten tribes of Israel, and how it came about, ( 2 Kings 17:1-6), the cause of it, their idolatry, which they persisted in, notwithstanding the remonstrances made against it, ( Kings 17:7-23), in whose stead were placed people from different parts, who exercised a mixed religion, partly Heathenish, and partly Israelitish, ( 2 Kings 17:24).
Ver. 1 . In the tenth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years .] In this account there is some difficulty, since it was in the twentieth of Jotham, that is, the fourth of Ahaz, that Hosea conspired against Pekah king of Israel, and slew him, when it might be reasonably thought he began his reign: now either there was an interregnum until the twelfth of Ahaz, or Hoshea however was not generally received and acknowledged as king till then, as others think; he being a tributary to the king of Assyria, and a kind of viceroy, is not said to reign until he rebelled against him; after which he reigned nine years, four in the times of Ahaz, and five in the reign of Hezekiah, ( 2 Kings 18:9,10), in this way the author of the Jewish chronology goes f188 , in which he is followed by other Jewish writers; and this bids as fair as any to remove the difficulty, unless these nine years refer to the time of his reign before the twelfth of Ahaz; and the sense be, that in the twelfth of Ahaz he had reigned nine year’s; but it is said he “began” to reign then.
Ver. 2 . And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him .] He did not worship Baal, as some of them had done; and he could not worship the calves, as all of them had, for they were carried away by the Assyrians in the former captivities, as the Jews say; and who also observe f190 , that he removed the garrisons set on the borders of the land to watch the Israelites, that they might not go up to Jerusalem; and this being done on the fifteenth of Ab, that day was afterwards observed as a festival on that account; and they further remark f191 , that the captivity of the ten tribes was in the reign of this king, who was better than the rest, to show that it was not barely the sins of the kings on whom the Israelites would cast the blame, that they were carried captives, but their own, according to ( Hosea 5:3).
Ver. 3 . Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria , etc.] Which some take to be the same with Tiglathpileser, (see 1 Chronicles 5:26) but he rather seems to be his son; his name was to be found, as Josephus relates, in the archives of the Tyrians, against whom he had an expedition; his name is Salmanassar in Metasthenes f193 , who says he reigned seventeen years: and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents , to depart from him; he became tributary to him, and agreed to pay him a yearly tax.
Ver. 4 . And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea , etc.] That he was forming a scheme to rebel against him, and cast off his yoke; of this he had intelligence by spies he sent, and placed to observe him very probably: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt ; to treat with him, and enter into alliance with him, to help him against, and free him from, the king of Assyria. This king of Egypt is supposed to be Sabacon the Ethiopian, who reigned in Egypt ninety years; of whom Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus make mention; by Theodoret he is called Adramelech the Ethiopian, who dwelt in Egypt: and brought no presents to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year ; did not pay him his yearly tribute: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison ; that is, after he took Samaria, the siege of which is next related; unless it can be thought that he met with him somewhere out of the capital, and seized him, and made him his prisoner, and after that besieged his city; which is not so likely.
Ver. 5 . Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land , etc.] Of Israel, there being none to oppose his march; Hoshea not daring to come out, and meet him and fight him: and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years ; so long the city held out against him, (see 2 Kings 18:9,10).
Ver. 6 . In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria , etc.]. Which was the last year of his reign, and to be reckoned either from the time of his reigning in full power and authority, or from his first casting off the Assyrian yoke; (see Gill on “ 2 Kings 17:1”) and carried Israel away into Assyria ; not only the inhabitants of Samaria, but all the ten tribes inhabiting the several parts of the kingdom, for which Josephus is express f196 and placed them in Halah, and in Habor, by the river of Gozan ; some of them he placed here, which were in Assyria. Halah is the Calachena of Ptolemy, at the north of Assyria, and Habor is the mount Chobaras of the same; from which mountain, as you go to the Caspian sea, about midway, is the city Gauzania, the same with Gozan, which might give name to this river f197 . The Jews say f198 , this is the river Sambation, which runs so swiftly, that there is no passing except on the sabbath day; and which then the Jews cannot pass because of the profanation of the sabbath; and is the reason they give why the ten tribes are there detained; and Manasseh ben Israel fancies Habor to be Tabor, a province in Tartary, where some Jews are: and in the cities of the Medes ; others of them he placed there, under his jurisdiction, the same with Hara, ( 1 Chronicles 5:26), which with the Greeks is called Aria; and Herodotus says f200 , these Medes formerly were called by all Arii. It appears from hence that the kingdom of Media was now subject to the king of Assyria: some take Halach to be Colchi, and Habor to be Iberia, and Hara to be Armenia, and Gauzani to be Media, which all bounded the north of Assyria.
Ver. 7 . For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God , etc.] By committing idolatry, which is the sin enlarged upon in the following discourse, as the cause of their being carried captive: which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt ; which is observed to show their ingratitude, and to aggravate their sin of idolatry: and had feared other gods ; which could do them neither good nor hurt, wherefore it must be great stupidity to fear them.
Ver. 8 . And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel , etc.] Meaning the Canaanites, in whose idolatrous ways they walked, and whom they imitated; though their ejection out of the land should have been a warning to them, and they were the more inexcusable, as they were particularly cautioned against walking in them, ( Leviticus 18:3) and of the kings of Israel, which they had made ; their laws and statutes, to worship the golden calves, and not go up to Jerusalem to worship.
Ver. 9 . And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God , etc.] As being partly conscious to themselves that they were not right, and ashamed to commit them openly; and partly as foolishly imagining, that, being done privately, they were not seen and observed of God, having imbibed some atheistical notions of him, that he was not omniscient, or saw not, and had forsaken the earth; or they “covered” these actions of theirs under reigned and plausible pretences, that what they did they were obliged to by their kings, and with political views, and that they worshipped the true God in the calves; but these were coverings too thin not to be seen through: and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city ; not content with those built in former times, they built new ones; and these not in their metropolis only, but in all the cities of the kingdom; and not in large cities only, but in every town and village between one fortified city and another; even wherever there was a watch tower erected, either for shepherds to watch their flocks, or for keepers of gardens, orchards, and vineyards, to watch the fruits of them, that they were not taken away.
Ver. 10 . And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree .] That is, statues and idols; for groves of trees could not be set under green trees; but they placed idols of stone, and of wood, as the latter were, in such places as Heathens were wont to do; (see Jeremiah 3:6 (see Gill on “ 1 Kings 14:23”)), so the Indians to this day have idols dispersed here and there in the fields, placed in little groves, or at the foot of some hill that casts a shadow f203 .
Ver. 11 . And there they burnt incense in all the high places , etc.] As even the tribe of Judah did, which is observed in all the preceding reigns: as did the Heathen whom the Lord carried away before them : the Canaanites, and therefore they might justly expect to be carried captive also: and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger : by their several immoralities, but especially their idolatries.
Ver. 12 . For they served idols , etc.] Baalim, as the Targum; dunghill gods, as the word signifies, as they are often called in Scripture; and Sterculius was one of the names of Saturn, an Heathen deity, which he had, as is supposed, by his finding out the method of making land fruitful with dung f204 : whereof the Lord said unto them, ye shall not do this thing ; (see Exodus 20:3-5,23).
Ver. 13 . Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, [and by] all the seers , etc.] Against their sins, reproving them for them, dehorting them from them, exhorting them to repent and leave them; as in all preceding reigns, by Ahijah the Shilonite, by Elijah and Elisha, by Hosea, Amos, and Micah, and others: saying, turn ye from your ways ; repent of them, and reform from them, worship of the calves particularly: and keep my commandments, and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers ; which was given them and enjoined them at Mount Sinai: and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets ; by whom he put them in mind of them, explained them, and urged obedience to them.
Ver. 14 . Notwithstanding, they would not hear , etc.] Their instructions, advice, and admonitions, and obey them: but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God : as Terah and Nahor, who were idolaters; or rather, their fathers in the wilderness, that made and served the calf, and those that rebelled against Moses and Aaron; it is a metaphor taken from oxen, that will not submit their necks to the yoke, but draw back from it, or cast it off, (see Acts 7:51).
Ver. 15 . And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers , etc.] At Sinai and Horeb, (see Exodus 24:8 Deuteronomy 29:1), and his testimonies which he testified against them ; calling heaven and earth to witness what he would do to them if they broke his laws, ( Deuteronomy 4:26 30:19 32:1), and which were so many testifications of his mind and will what they should do, or otherwise what should be done to them; Ben Gersom also interprets this of the feasts of the passover and tabernacles, which were witnesses of Israel’s coming out of Egypt, and of the sanctification and redemption of the firstborn, a testimony of the slaying the firstborn in Egypt: and they followed vanity ; idols, which are vain things for help, can neither hear, see, speak, etc. and became vain ; as sottish and stupid as the idols they worshipped; which is the usual fruit and effect of idolatry, (see Romans 1:21-28) and went after the heathen that were round about them : imitated them in their idolatrous practices, as the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, etc. concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them ; of this charge (see Deuteronomy 6:13,14).
Ver. 16 . And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God , etc.] Which their idolatry led them to; and indeed he that offends in one point is guilty of them all, ( James 2:10) and made them molten images, [even] two calves ; which they set up at Dan and Bethel, in the times of their first king Jeroboam, ( 1 Kings 13:28,29) and made a grove ; as Ahab, another of their kings, did, ( 1 Kings 16:33) and worshipped all the host of heaven : not the angels, sometimes so called, but, besides the sun and moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Venus: and served Baal ; which was service to the sun, as Abarbinel interprets it; this was the god of the Zidonians Ahab worshipped, having married a princess of that people, ( 1 Kings 16:31,32).
Ver. 17 . And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire , etc.] To Baal or Moloch, which were the same, and represented the sun, which, as the above writer observes, presides in the element of fire; this was done either by way of lustration, or so as to be burnt, (see 2 Kings 16:3) and used divination and enchantments : to get knowledge of what was to be done at present, or of things to come, neglecting the word of God and his prophets, and acting against the express law of God, ( Deuteronomy 18:10-12) and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger ; as Ahab their king did, (see 1 Kings 21:20,25), they were as much the servants of sin as if they had sold themselves to be slaves to it.
Ver. 18 . Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel , etc.] Nothing being more provoking to him than idolatry: and removed them out of his sight ; not out of the reach of his all seeing eye, but from all tokens of his favour, from the good land he had given them, and all the benefits and privileges of it: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only ; and part of Benjamin, which was annexed to it, and incorporated in it, and made one kingdom, and maintained the same worship; and there was the lot of Simeon, which was within the tribe of Judah; and the priests and the Levites, and various individuals of the several tribes, that came and settled among them for the sake of worship; but no perfect, distinct, tribe besides.
Ver. 19 . Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God , etc.] But were infected with the idolatry of the ten tribes, and drawn into it by their example, and persisted therein, notwithstanding what befell the ten tribes; which are aggravations of the sins of them both, (see Jeremiah 3:7-10), but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made ; worshipping the calves as they did, particularly in the times of Ahaz, he setting the example, (see 2 Kings 16:3).
Ver. 20 . And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel , etc.] The ten tribes, with loathing and contempt, and wrote a “loammi” on them, rejected them from being his people, gave them a bill of divorce, and declared them no more under his care and patronage: and afflicted them ; as he did before he utterly cast them off, as by famine, drought, and pestilence, ( Amos 4:6-11) and delivered them into the hands of spoilers ; as, first, into the hands of Hazael and Benhadad, kings of Syria, and then of Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, ( 2 Kings 13:3,22 15:29), until he had cast them out of his sight ; by suffering them, as now, to be carried captive by Shalmaneser, ( 2 Kings 17:6).
Ver. 21 . For he rent Israel from the house of David , etc.] In the times of Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when ten tribes revolted from him, signified by the rending of a garment in twelve pieces, ten of which were given to Jeroboam; and it is here ascribed to the Lord, being according to his purpose and decree, and which was brought about by his providence, agreeably to a prophecy of his, (see 1 Kings 11:30,31) and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king ; of themselves, without consulting the Lord and his prophets; and which was resented by him, though it was his will, and he had foretold it, that Jeroboam should be king, (see Hosea 8:4) and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the Lord ; forbidding them to go up to Jerusalem to worship; the Targum is, “made them to err:” and made them sin a great sin ; obliging them to worship the calves he set up.
Ver. 22 . For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did , etc.] They observed his injunction, not to go to Jerusalem to worship, and they worshipped the calves he did: they departed not from them : in all succeeding reigns, until the time of their captivity.
Ver. 23 . Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight , etc.] Suffered them to be carried captive into the land of Assyria: as he had said by all his servants the prophets ; by Hosea, Amos, Micah, and others; see their prophecies, and also ( 1 Kings 13:32 14:15,16), so was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria, unto this day ; the time of the writing this book; nor have they returned unto our days, nearly 2,800 years later.
Ver. 24 . And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon , etc.] Which was at this time under the dominion of the king of Assyria; though in a little time after this it revolted, and had a king of its own, ( 2 Kings 20:12), this king of Assyria was either Shalmaneser, who carried Israel captive, or it may be rather his son Esarhaddon, (see Ezra 4:2), and from Cuthah ; which, according to Josephus f205 , was a city in Persia, where was a river of the same name; but it was rather a place in Erech, in the country of Babylon, (see Gill on “ Genesis 10:10”), and from Ava ; the same with Ivah, ( Isaiah 37:13), where perhaps a colony of the Avim had settled, ( Deuteronomy 2:23) and from Hamath ; a city of Syria, which lay on the northern borders of the land of Canaan, ( Numbers 34:8) and from Sepharvaim ; thought by some to be the Sippara of Ptolemy, or the Sippareni of Abydenus, in Mesopotamia; though Vitringa takes it to be a city in Syro-Phoenicia, (see Gill on “ Isaiah 36:19”), and placed them in the cities of Samaria, instead of the children of Israel ; not in Samaria, which was now destroyed, according to the prophecy in ( Micah 1:6) as Abarbinel and other Jewish writers note: and they possessed Samaria ; as an inheritance; sowed it with corn, and planted vineyards there: and dwelt in the cities thereof ; in the several parts of the kingdom.
Ver. 25 . And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord , etc.] Did not serve him in any manner, but their idols only, which they brought with them; whereas it was usual with Heathens to serve the gods of the country, as they reputed them, where they came, along with their own; but even this those men did not do: therefore the Lord sent lions among them ; even into their cities, into which lions sometimes came f206 , especially when old, out of the thickets of Jordan and other places where they haunted, (see Jeremiah 49:19) which slew some of them ; this the Lord did to assert his sovereignty, authority, and mighty power, and to let them know that he could as easily clear the land of them, as they, by his permission, had cleared the land of the Israelites, Josephus calls this a plague that was sent among them.
Ver. 26 . Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria , etc.] In letters, or by messengers they sent unto him: saying, the nations which thou hast removed ; from different places before mentioned: and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land ; taking Jehovah the God of Israel to be a topical deity, limited peculiarly to the land of Israel, whereas he was the God of the whole earth; a like notion obtained among the Syrians, (see 1 Kings 20:28) now they say they know not his “manner” or “judgment” f208 , the laws, statutes, ordinances, and judgments, according to which he was worshipped by the people of Israel: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them ; they perceived it was not a common case, nor could they impute it to any second cause, as want of food with the lions, etc. but the hand of a superior Being was in it: and they could think of no other reason, but because they know not the manner of the God of the land ; how he was to be worshipped; and because they did not worship him, and knew not how to do it, it was resented in this manner by him.
Ver. 27 . Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying , etc.] Gave the following orders and directions: carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence ; for they carried away all the people of every class, civil and religious: and let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land ; it is in the plural number, “let them go”, etc. f209 ; there might be more priests than one ordered, or, however, others, to attend and assist him in his work; the Jews say f210 , two were sent to circumcise them, and teach them the book of the law; and they give their names, Dosthai, or Dosithaeus, and Zachariah; and Josephus says, the people desired that priests might be sent to them of the captives.
Ver. 28 . Then one of the priests whom, they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel , etc.] According to an Arabic writer f212 , his name was Uzziah; but Epiphanius says his name was Esdras; but he wrongly makes him to be sent by Nebuchadnezzar, thirty years after the captivity of the Jews in Babylon: this priest was, doubtless, one of the priests of the calves; for there were none else in the kingdom of Israel carried captive, and as seems also by his choosing to dwell in Bethel, where probably he formerly dwelt, and officiated in the service of the calf there, and by teaching to make priests of the lowest order of the people, as Jeroboam’s priests were, ( 2 Kings 17:32) and taught them how they should fear the Lord ; serve and worship him; he might not teach them the worship of the calves, that being a political business, and now no end to be answered by it; and besides, they were now carried out of the land. This priest taught, no doubt, according to the law of Moses, but was not the author of the Pentateuch; which ridiculous conceit of Leviticus Clerc is sufficiently exposed by Witsius f214 .
Ver. 29 . Howbeit, every nation made gods of their own , etc.] Served and worshipped those they brought with them, and which were the work of their own hands, even the nations, or those out of the nations, mentioned ( 2 Kings 17:24) these, notwithstanding the instructions they had about the worship of the God of Israel, retained and served their own deities: and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt; as the Israelites had built high places everywhere for idolatry, and put images in them, ( 2 Kings 17:9-11) these Heathens placed their gods there in the room of them, which were as follow.
Ver. 30 . And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth , etc.] That is, those that came from Babylon made and served an idol of this name, which, according to the Jewish writers f215 , were the figures of an hen and chickens; but others suppose them to be the Pleiades, or seven stars, the stars being had in great veneration by the Babylonians; though others rather think those Succothbenoth, “tabernacles”, or “booths of the daughters”, as the words may be rendered, have respect to the apartments in the temple of Venus, or Mylitta with the Babylonians and Assyrians, in which women once in their lives prostituted themselves to whomsoever asked them, in honour of Venus; of which filthy practice of theirs Herodotus makes mention; and Valerius Maximus speaks of a temple of Sicca Venus, which is near in sound to this, where the like impurities were committed: and the men of Cuth made Nergal ; which, according to the Jews, was in the likeness of a cock; but others, because the first part of the word signifies a lamp, suppose fire is meant, worshipped by the Persians, from whom it is thought these men came; but rather the word signifies, as Hillerus observes, the fountain of light, and denotes the sun, worshipped by the Babylonians, Cuth being a province of theirs; from hence one of the princes of Babylon had part of his name, ( Jeremiah 39:3) and the men of Hamath made Ashima ; which, the Jews say, was in the form of a goat, without any wool on it, or an ape f219 ; but according to Hillerus f220 , with the Arabs, Ashima is the name of a lion, a symbol of the sun, under which form it might be worshipped; unless Ashima is the same with Shamaim, the heavens, worshipped by the Heathens; we read of the Ashemath of Samaria, by which they swore, ( Amos 8:14), though that was before these men came thither.
Ver. 31 . And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak , etc.] The former of which is represented by the Jews in the shape of a dog, deriving the word from “nabach”, to bark, as if it was the same with the Anubis Latrator of Virgil f221 , an Egyptian deity; though that is said to have its name from NO[b , which in the Egyptian language signifies “gold”, the statutes of it being made of gold; and the latter in the form of an ass, for what reason I cannot say; but the first word, according to Hillerus f223 , signifies, “the remote one seeth”, that is, the sun, which beholds all things; and Tartak is a chain, and may denote the fixed stars chained as it were in their places; or the satellites of the planets, chained to their orbs: and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and to Anammelech the gods of Sepharvaim ; which were the same with Moloch; which may be concluded, partly from the worship paid them, and partly from the signification of their names; both end with “melech”, king, which Moloch also signifies; the first may be interpreted the mighty king, and the latter the king that answers in an oracular way; from the first, one of the sons of Sennacherib king of Assyria had his name, ( Isaiah 37:36), though the Jews, according to their fancy, represent the one in the likeness of a mule, and the other in the likeness of a horse; and some make the one to be a peacock, and the other a pheasant f224 ; the Septuagint version puts the article before them in the feminine gender, excepting the two last, taking them for she deities, or leaving the word eikona , “images”, to be understood.
Ver. 32 . So they feared the Lord , etc.] Worshipped the God of Israel in the manner they were taught: and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places ; these were made after the manner of Jeroboam’s priests, ( 1 Kings 12:31), and were to sacrifice to the God of Israel in the high places, and temples built there; for otherwise they had, no doubt, priests of their own to sacrifice to their gods, and which they brought with them.
Ver. 33 . They feared the Lord, and served their own gods , etc.] Worshipped both: after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence ; the Israelites, whom they had carried captive from Samaria; they worshipped the Lord in their idols, as they did, who pretended to worship God in the calves; so they worshipped the supreme God in and by their idols, and made use of them as mediators with him.
Ver. 34 . Unto this day they do after the former manners , etc.] Which may be understood either of the new colonies in Samaria doing after the former customs in their own land, or after the customs of the idolatrous Israelites; or of the Israelites in captivity continuing in their idolatry, not being in the least reformed by their troubles; or of such of them as were left in the land, who repented not of their idolatries, nor reformed from them: they fear not the Lord ; did not worship him, at least not alone, and much less in a spiritual manner, with reverence and godly fear: neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel ; that is, they did not observe the statutes and ordinances of the law given on Mount Sinai respecting religious worship, to act according to them.
Ver. 35 . With whom the Lord had made a covenant , etc.] As he did at Sinai, ( 2 Kings 17:15) and charged them, saying, ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them ; all which is contained in the first and second commandments of the law.
Ver. 36 . But the Lord, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt, with a great power, and a stretched out arm , etc.] Which is observed, to show the obligations they lay under, in point of gratitude, to serve the Lord: him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice : and him only, and not other gods; none but he being the object of religious fear and divine worship, and to whom sacrifices should be offered.
Ver. 37 . And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment which he wrote for you , etc.] On the two tables of stone: ye shall observe to do for evermore ; those commands relating to religious worship, especially the object of it, and to moral duties, being of eternal obligation; and all other statutes and ordinances of a ceremonial kind he ordered to be written for them, being such that they were to regard until the Messiah came, and a new world began: and ye shall not fear other gods ; which is repeated, that it might be observed, as it also afterwards is.
Ver. 38 . And the covenant that I have made with you, ye shall not forget , etc.] The law given at Mount Sinai; the first table of which chiefly concerned the worship of the one true and living God, and forbid the worship of any other, as follows: neither shall ye fear other gods ; or make them the object of worship.
Ver. 39 . But the Lord your God ye shall fear , etc.] Or worship him, both internally and externally, according to his revealed will; for the fear of God includes both internal and external worship: and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies ; that is, provided they feared and served him as he required, and it became them to do.
Ver. 40 . Howbeit, they did not hearken, but did after their former manner .] They did not repent of their idolatries, but persisted in them, and even when they were in captivity in Assyria, or such of them as were left in the land.
Ver. 41 . So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images , etc.] Just in like manner as the Israelites had done, who served the Lord and the calves, and worshipped God and Baal: both their children, and their children’s children ; that is, the children and children’s children of the Samaritans: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day ; to the writing of this book, which some ascribe to Jeremiah, to whose times, and even longer, they continued this mixed and mongrel worship, for the space of three hundred years, to the times of Alexander the great, of whom Sanballat, governor of Samaria, got leave to build a temple, on Gerizim, for his son-in-law Manasseh, of which he became priest; and the Samaritans were prevailed upon to relinquish their idolatry, and to worship only the God of Israel; and yet it seems but ignorantly, and not without superstition, to the times of Christ, ( John 4:22).