2 Kings 17:41
So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they to this day.
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(41) So these nations feared . . . images.—A variation of 2Kings 17:33.

Their children, and their children’s children.—The captivity of Ephraim took place in 721 B.C. Two generations later bring us to the times of the exile of Judah—the age of the last Redactor of Kings.

2 Kings 17:41. So these nations feared the Lord, &c. — Namely, the nations that came in the place of the Israelites. They followed their example, and acted as they had done, endeavouring to unite things perfectly irreconcilable, the worship of the true God and the worship of idols. 17:24-41 The terror of the Almighty will sometimes produce a forced or feigned submission in unconverted men; like those brought from different countries to inhabit Israel. But such will form unworthy thoughts of God, will expect to please him by outward forms, and will vainly try to reconcile his service with the love of the world and the indulgence of their lusts. May that fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, possess our hearts, and influence our conduct, that we may be ready for every change. Wordly settlements are uncertain; we know not whither we may be driven before we die, and we must soon leave the world; but the righteous hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken from him.Their graven images - The Babylonians appear to have made a very sparing use of animal forms among their religious emblems. They represented the male Sun, Shamas, by a circle, plain or crossed; the female Sun, Anunit, by a six-rayed or eight-rayed star; Nebo by a single wedge or arrow-head, the fundamental element of their writing; the god of the atmosphere by a double or triple thunderbolt. The gods generally were represented under human forms. A few of them had, in addition, animal emblems - the lion, the bull, the eagle, or the serpent; but these seem never to have been set up for worship in temples. There was nothing intentionally grotesque in the Babylonian religion, as there was in the Egyptian and Phoenician.

So do they unto this day - The mixed worship, the union of professed reverence for Yahweh with the grossest idolatry, continued to the time of the composition of this book, which must have been as late as 561 B.C., or, at any rate, as late as 580 B.C. 2 Kings 25:27. It did not, however, continue much longer. When the Samaritans wished to join the Jews in rebuilding the temple (about 537 B.C.), they showed that inclination to draw nearer to the Jewish cult which henceforth marked their religious progress. Long before the erection of a temple to Yahweh on Mount Gerizim (409 B.C.) they had laid aside all their idolatrous rites, and, admitting the binding authority of the Pentateuch, had taken upon them the observance of the entire Law.

34. Unto this day—the time of the Babylonian exile, when this book was composed. Their religion was a strange medley or compound of the service of God and the service of idols. Such was the first settlement of the people, afterwards called Samaritans, who were sent from Assyria to colonize the land, when the kingdom of Israel, after having continued three hundred fifty-six years, was overthrown. So, i.e. in like manner, and after their example. These nations, who came in their stead. So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images,.... 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.

So these {t} nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

(t) That is, these strangers who were sent into Samaria by the Assyrians.

41. both their children] R.V. their children likewise. A change which makes a semicolon necessary at the end of the previous clause.

It would seem from this statement that the mixed population in Samaria adhered to their several forms of idolatry through several generations, though we know that on the return of the captive Jews from Babylon b.c. 534, their descendants claimed to be allowed to take part in the restoration of the temple. The concluding words of the verse ‘so do they unto this day’ may be, and most probably are, taken from a document of earlier date than the compilation of the books of Kings. These carry the history down to about b.c. 560. The time between that date and the earlier days, when the priest sent from Babylon began to teach them something about Jehovah, may be taken in round numbers at a century and a half or nearly so. In that period the document was written from which our compiler drew, and when its author wrote the Samaritans were still idolaters. Such changes as were wrought among them, till they were all agreed to accept as authoritative the five books of Moses, would come about very gradually. Yet even imperfect teaching about Jehovah produced its effect. The priest who came to them would be one of those who had ministered at Bethel or Dan. Yet from the calves he would teach them of the God who had led Israel from Egypt to Canaan, and even from such lessons they would be brought to see that Jehovah was more than any mere local divinity, and to desire to join with the people whom they saw Him bringing once more out of the land of their captivity.Verse 41. - So these nations - i.e., the Babylonians, Cuthaeans, Hamathites, Avites, and Sepharvites settled in Samaria - feared the Lord, and served their graven images. The rabbinical writers tell us that Nergal was worshipped under the form of a cock, Ashima under the form of a goat, Nibhaz under the form of a dog, Tartak under that of an ass, while Adrammelech and Anammelech were represented by a mule and a horse respectively. Not much confidence can be placed in these representations. The Babylonian gods were ordinarily figured in human forms. Animal ones - as those of the bull and the lion, generally winged and human-headed, were in a few cases, but only in a few, used to represent the gods symbolically. Other emblems employed were the winged circle for Asshur; the disc plain or four-rayed for the male sun, six or eight-rayed for the female sun; the crescent for the moon-god Sin; the thunderbolt for the god of the atmosphere, Vul or Rimmon; the wedge or arrow-head, the fundamental element of writing, for Nebo. Images, however, were made of all the gods, and were no doubt set up by the several "nations" in their respective "cities." Both their children, and their children's children - i.e. their descendants to the time of the writer of Kings - as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

This mixed cultus, composed of the worship of idols and the worship of Jehovah, they retained till the time when the books of the Kings were written. "Unto this day they do after the former customs." הראשׁנים המּשׁפּטים can only be the religious usages and ordinances which were introduced at the settlement of the new inhabitants, and which are described in 2 Kings 17:28-33. The prophetic historian observes still further, that "they fear not Jehovah, and do not according to their statutes and their rights, nor according to the law and commandment which the Lord had laid down for the sons of Jacob, to whom He gave the name of Israel" (see 1 Kings 18:31), i.e., according to the Mosaic law. חקּתם and משׁפּטם "their statutes and their right," stands in antithesis to והמּצוה התּורה which Jehovah gave to the children of Israel. If, then, the clause, "they do not according to their statutes and their right," is not to contain a glaring contradiction to the previous assertion, "unto this day they do after their first (former) rights," we must understand by וּמשׁפּטם חקּתם the statutes and the right of the ten tribes, i.e., the worship of Jehovah under the symbols of the calves, and must explain the inexactness of the expression "their statutes and their right" from the fact that the historian was thinking of the Israelites who had been left behind in the land, or of the remnant of the Israelitish population that had become mixed up with the heathen settlers (2 Kings 23:19-20; 2 Chronicles 34:6, 2 Chronicles 34:9, 2 Chronicles 34:33). The meaning of the verse is therefore evidently the following: The inhabitants of Samaria retain to this day the cultus composed of the worship of idols and of Jehovah under the form of an image, and do not worship Jehovah either after the manner of the ten tribes or according to the precepts of the Mosaic law. Their worship is an amalgamation of the Jehovah image-worship and of heathen idolatry (cf. 2 Kings 17:41). - To indicate the character of this worship still more clearly, and hold it up as a complete breach of the covenant and as utter apostasy from Jehovah, the historian describes still more fully, in 2 Kings 17:35-39, how earnestly and emphatically the people of Israel had been prohibited from worshipping other gods, and urged to worship Jehovah alone, who had redeemed Israel out of Egypt and exalted it into His own nation. For 2 Kings 17:35 compare Exodus 20:5; for 2 Kings 17:36, the exposition of 2 Kings 17:7, also Exodus 32:11; Exodus 6:6; Exodus 20:23; Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:15, etc. In 2 Kings 17:37 the committal of the thorah to writing is presupposed. For 2 Kings 17:39, see Deuteronomy 13:5; Deuteronomy 23:15, etc.
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