swallows up the nation of Israel: “In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes” (2 Kings 17:6). The judgment declared against idolatry and disobedience to the covenant centuries before has been fulfilled: “I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you, and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste” (Leviticus 26:33). “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all
things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against
you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you. The LORD will bring a nation
against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the
eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand, a hard-faced nation who
shall not respect the old or show mercy to the young (Deuteronomy 28:47-50). The ten tribes of the north are conquered and taken into exile.
A land empty of inhabitants is of no use to the Assyrians, so in accordance with their policy of exile, they send other nations to settle in the Promised Land: “And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the people of Israel. And they took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities” (2 Kings 17:24). They mix devotion to the pagan gods of their places of origin with devotion to Yahweh: “They feared the LORD but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away… So these nations feared the LORD and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children – as their fathers did, so they do to this day” (2 Kings 17:33, 41). The descendants of these people from outside the covenant with Abraham and Moses will remain in the Promised Land; seven centuries later they will appear in the New Testament under the name “Samaritans”.
But the Assyrians did not stop with the conquest of Israel: “In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them” (2 Kings 18:13). Sennacherib sent an official, the Rabshakeh, to threaten and intimidate the people so that they would rebel against the weak anointed one of Yahweh and turn themselves over to the powerful king of Assyria. Yahweh responds with an impressive salvation. He declares to His enemy, “I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me. Because you have raged against me and your complacency has come into my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came” (2 Kings 19:27-28). He promises
Hezekiah, “For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band
of survivors. The zeal of the LORD will do this… I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David” (2 Kings 19:31, 34). And He immediately fulfills the promised salvation.
Despite the mercies shown to him, Hezekiah once again trusts the nations who do not know Yahweh for salvation, this time seeking alliance with Babylon (2 Kings 20:12-19). The Assyrian threat will be replaced by the Babylonian threat.
Judgment against sin will continue until it is completely uprooted.