2 Kings 17:7
So the Israelis have been captured and taken to Assyria to be slaves. Why? Because they were very naughty. For generations, they refused to trust God and live by his laws. They worshipped foreign gods, built altars and temples to them and sacrificed their children to those gods. So God sent them away from His presence. And as of the writing of the Bible, they were still there, in Assyria, held as slaves.
Having pretty much emptied out Israel, the King of Assyria sent some of his own people to live there. They were living within the Lord’s land, but they were not serving the Lord, they were serving their foreign gods instead. God no likey, so He sent in lions to attack and kill the Assyrians living in His land. When the king of Assyria was told what was happening, he sent one of the captured Israelites, a priest, to go back and teach the Assyrian people how to please God. It didn’t work, and the people continued worshipping whomever the hell they wanted. And then nothing really happens.
What happened to the tribe of Judah, you might be asking. When we left them last, Hezekiah had become king over Judah. Hezekiah was a stand up guy; he followed all of the Lord’s commandments and laws. He destroyed all of the temples and altars erected for other gods. Because of this, Hezekiah was successful in all he did. Except that one time, when Assyria attacked Jerusalem, and it looked like they were going to take the city. Luckily, as the Israelites had so often done, Hezekiah struck a deal with the Assyrian King. He paid him in gold from Solomon’s temple. How there is any left, I don’t know. That place has been ransacked more times than I can recount. And why if Hezekiah was such a great dude, God allowed the Assyrians to attack and almost defeat Hezekiah and his people, I do not know.
Anyway, the King of Assyria decided to try a different tactic in taking Jerusalem. He sent some of his commanders to Jerusalem to talk to the Israelites in that city. The Assyrians threatened the people, saying that their king had defeated many peoples and many gods, how would Judah be any different? They told the Israelites that they would take them to a nice land with olives and stuff, or they could fight Assyria and die. The Israelites , terrified out of their minds, did not respond.
Hezekiah went to Solomon’s temple at once to pray to God. God was not impressed by the threats of the Assyrians. In fact, He was really pissed off. That night, God “went out and put to death a 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp.” This broke the will of Assyria’s King, and he led his men back to his own land. God wasn’t done with him though; this particular Assyrian King (his name is Sennacherib, see why I’ve avoided typing some of these names?) was later killed by two of his own sons.
Sometime later, Hezekiah became very ill. The prophet Isaiah told Hezekiah that he would surely die, but Hezekiah called out to the Lord, reminding him that he had been a faithful servant. God changed his mind, and Isaiah helped to heal Hezekiah.
A foreign king, the King of Babylon, heard that Hezekiah had been ill and sent messengers and gifts to him in Jerusalem. Hezekiah greeted them kindly and showed them all that he had. Somehow, he had a lot of riches to show them. The way that Israeli kings go through treasure, they must have had fucking Rumpelstiltskin hidden somewhere. The Babylonian messengers were very impressed by all that they had seen and departed to go back home. Isaiah was not pleased with Hezekiah; he told Hezekiah that all he had shown the messengers, all of the riches of Judah (and even some Hezekiah’s sons) would be captured and carried back to Babylon.
Faced with that gruesome news, Hezekiah dies not long after. His son, Manasseh took the throne. Manasseh was nothing like his father, unfortunately. He committed hella sins in the eyes of Lord. Hella. Apparently, he was worse than the foreigners that the Israelites had pushed out to take over the Holy Land. He was worse than king before him or since. He worshipped foreign gods, built altars, sacrificed his children and spilled so much innocent blood that he “filled Jerusalem from end to end.” So not a nice guy.
And God gives one of His, “I’m gonna kill the shit out of you” speeches. Only this time He won’t even waste his time on dogs chewing carcasses; this time He will “wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes out a dish.” God is just real over everyone’s shit. Manasseh lives out his life (he rules for 55 years) and eventually dies, his son Amon becoming the new king.
Amon was just like his father, and before he had ruled for very long some of his officials assassinated him. His killers chose one of Amon’s son to be the new king, his name was Josiah. Luckily for everyone involved, Josiah did not take after his father. Josiah, like David, walked in the ways of the Lord.
Josiah began to repair Solomon’s temple, sparing no expense to make it as beautiful as it had once been. While working on it, the books that held God’s laws were found. Upon reading it, Josiah realized how evil his people and been. He tore his robes and wept. Josiah sent for a prophet; the prophet told him that God would not turn his fury away from Judah, even though Josiah was a great king. God told Josiah how seriously dead he was going to make everyone, but He did take some pity on Josiah. God allowed that Josiah would live out his life in peace, but once he died, serious shit was gonna go down.
Josiah went on a rampage. He destroyed everything that had made God angry. He even went into parts of Israel that Israelites no longer lived in and destroyed temples and altars to foreign gods there. He slaughtered eunuchs and priests who worshipped other gods. He also held the first Passover in Israel since the times of the judges. Josiah held to God and His laws as no king ever had or has.
Still, it was not enough. The Lord would not turn from his anger and still intended on destroying Jerusalem and Judah. And Josiah didn’t even get to live out his life in peace like he was supposed to. The Egyptian and Assyrian Kings came together to attack Jerusalem. Josiah was killed in battle but the city was saved. (For the moment.) Josiah’s son, Jehoahaz, became King of Judah.
Jehoahaz was not a great dude and did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Before long, the Egyptian Pharaoh kidnapped Jehoahaz and took him to Egypt, where he died. The Pharaoh also placed a harsh levy on Judah and replaced Jahoahaz with his son, Jehoiakim. The new King had to tax his people harshly to pay the levy. But the Egyptians were attacked and beaten by the Babylonians, who invaded and claimed Judah, taking the King as a vassal. When Jehoiakim died, he was replaced by his son Jehoiachim. He is pretty much the same guy in name and deeds.
During the Jehoiachim’s reign, the Babylonians decided that kind of ruling over Judah wasn’t really good enough. They attacked and defeated the Israelites, carrying away all but the poorest in the land off to Babylon. The palace and temple were also ransacked. The Babylonian king replaced Jehoiachim with his uncle, Zedekiah, to be king over the poor Israelites whom he had left in Judah to work the fields and vineyards.
Zedekiah wasn’t any better than the last two kings and did not walk in the ways of the Lord. He thought it would be a good idea to rebel against the King of Babylon. He was wrong. The Babylonians captured him. They killed all of his sons right in front of him, then poked out his eyes, then put him in shackles and marched him to the Babylonian king. The Babylonians also wrecked what was left of Jerusalem. They destroyed all of the important buildings, like Solomon’s temple and the palace, burning them to the ground. They also destroyed the wall around Jerusalem. The most important priests and commanders who had been under Zedekiah were killed. More people were carried off and taken to be slaves.
Over those very poor, very few still left in Israel, the Babylonian king appointed a governor. That governor was assassinated by the remaining Israelites, and they fled to Egypt in fear of the Babylonians. Once a new, friendlier king took over Babylon, Jehoiachim (still alive apparently) was let out of jail and allowed to sit at the king’s table for the rest of his life.
Apparently, this is what happens when you spend generations ignoring the guy who saved you from slavery. God had just absolutely had it up to his eyebrows and was over it. He sent His people away, He “thrust them from his presence.” And now they’re back in slavery; they’ve come full circle, and everyone has learned their lesson right? I highly doubt it.