The Fall of the Northern Kingdom Israel: when, how, & why

Read 2 Kings 17.1-41 | Lesson 10 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points


  1. We are all surrounded in our daily lives by all kinds of warning alerts and alarms: tornado warning sirens, smoke and CO2 alarms, screeching alerts on our phones warning us of weather dangers, and, of course, in our automobiles. When Debbie and I first bought our new vehicle, both of us were paranoid and skittish about driving it because we had to get used to all the beeps and alerts that frequently gave us warning signals and messages. If we drive too close to the lines on either side of the driving lane, we get a bright orange icon that pops up on the console screen “LANE DEPARTURE,” and the steering wheel gently wobbles back and forth. If we ride the lines too long, the bright orange icon flashes “STEERING REQUIRED,” and the beeping starts. If we approach an object or another vehicle too closely, the bright orange warning icon flashes “BRAKE,” and if we don’t brake enough soon enough, the repeated warning beeping starts, and the vehicle will actually begin braking itself. Then, of course, when the fuel begins to run low, the bright orange warning icon flashes “LOW FUEL,” and the car will start ‘ding’ing.
  2. The purpose of all these warning signals is to alert us to DANGER, and if we ignore them, it will end in DISASTER.
  3. That is the story we will learn from in our lesson: how Yahweh repeatedly sent the Northern Kingdom Israel warning message after warning message; but Israel stubbornly rejected and rebelled against them all; until Yahweh finally brought disaster upon them by the invasion of the Assyrians – casting them out of their homeland and into bondage, captivity, and exile.
  4. In this lesson, we’ll examine The Fall of the Northern Kingdom Israel: when, how, and why.


  1. After the death of King Solomon, the united kingdom of Israel was divided when the northern tribes rebelled and seceded / 1 Kings 12
  2. The northern tribes/kingdom were called Israel and the southern tribes/kingdom were called Judah.
  3. The northern kingdom’s first king was Jeroboam … by the way, the history of the kingdom Israel is summarized for us again here in 2 Kings 17.21-23
  4. They existed as a separate kingdom for 209 years until this time we are studying now [Jeroboam’s reign over Israel was circa 931 BC]
  5. 722 BC. This seminal date marks the Assyrian exile and captivity. This is one of those dates you need to know and remember. This event will set the course of history forever for the 10 northern tribes.


  1. v 1 / Hoshea was the reigning king of Israel. He reigned for nine years.
  2. v 3 / Early on in his reign, Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria [the superpower at that time] began marching toward Samaria, conquering all the other kingdoms as he came / see ch 16.9
  3. He forced Hoshea to submit to him as a vassal kingdom and pay an annual tribute. Hoshea acquiesced, conceded, and complied with his demands.
  4. v 4 / However, Hoshea began feeling his oats, and didn’t want his annual tribute to the Assyrians any longer. He resented being subject and subservient to the Assyrian king.
  5. So instead he took the annual tribute money and sent it to So, king of Egypt, and made an alliance with the Egyptians, thinking they could fend off the Assyrians. Of course, the Assyrian king took that as an act of insubordination, betrayal, and treason and decided to move in to take Samaria by force.
  6. v 5 / The king of Assyria captured Hoshea and imprisoned him … then they laid siege to Samaria – barricaded and blockaded the city – for three years. They shut the city in on themselves – no one could come in or go out for those three years while they lived off of what food and water they had in the city.


  1. Then, in the 9th year of King Hoshea’s reign – THIS IS THE 722 BC DATE – the Assyrians broke into the city and captured it.
  2. They carried off the inhabitants of Samaria to Assyria and re-settled them in cities they had designated for that purpose.
  3. Assyrian historical records of this event record that they carried off and re-settled 27,290 captive Israelites.


  1. Now we get to the crux of the lesson: the WHY. NOTE the opening phrase in v 7: And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God…”
  2. KEEP IN MIND: the Holy Spirit-inspired author, writer, historian, narrator is not writing like a field reporter – describing the events as they happened – but rather many years later as a commentator [see “to this day” in vv 23, 34, 41]. He is evaluating the events in retrospectfrom Yahweh’s perspective … as Yahweh saw, evaluated, and judged them!
  3. As a reminder, I’m including this statement from Lesson 1: However, these records are not just royal or national chronicles [they recorded and kept meticulous records of their national affairs – especially their royal reigns]. They are specifically Yahweh’s holy critiques and evaluations of their relationships with Him. Here is an excellent Purpose Statement for these books from Yahweh’s holy perspective: “The books of Kings continue the story of kingship begun in Samuel, and their primary purpose is to record the ‘covenant failure’ of the Hebrew united and divided monarchies. The Biblical narrative implicitly balances the notion of God’s sovereignty and the reality of human freedom and declares that God was justified in exiling His people for the failure of the kings of Israel and Judah to uphold the ideals of the Davidic covenant.” [A Survey of the Old Testament / Andrew E. Hill & Jonathan H. Walton]. This theme also serves to show us the ultimate failure of all human kings and our need for King Jesus to come with His Gospel and salvation!
  4. vv 7-8 / YAHWEH’S CHARGES & INDICTMENTS: Here is a summary of what will follow. The narrator will give numerous details in the succeeding verses. What we will do in the following verses is note several specific kinds of statements that are all woven together to build the case for cause and effectcharges, indictments, evidences, witnesses against them, and consequences.
  5. I will denote them by these categories:
    • Egregious Sins that the people of Israel committed against Yahweh
    • Repeated Warnings that Yahweh had given them over and over again – pointing out what they were doing against Him and His covenant, calling them to repent and return to Him, and warning them of the disastrous consequences of their continued disobedience and rebellion against Him
    • Stubborn Refusals/Rebellions that Israel threw back at Yahweh. These were not just ‘slip-ups’ that they committed – they flouted and flaunted their contempt and disdain for Yahweh with every act of rebellion
    • Disastrous Consequences that Yahweh brought upon them as He had warned them and said He would / Yahweh had even warned them of eventual captivity in Deuteronomy 28 & 29!

vv 7-18

  • Egregious Sins: And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced.  / What would have made Israel think that if Yahweh had cast the Caananite nations out of the land so He could give that Promised Land to His people as their covenant homeland … that He would not cast Israel out also for importing, adopting, and practicing the same sins?
  • Egregious Sins: And the people of Israel did secretly against the LORD their God things that were not right.  / These were the sins they practiced in secrecy because they refused to love Yahweh with all their hearts and keep His covenant commandments – then there were all these other egregious sins they committed openly in their national and civil and ‘religious’ life…
  • Egregious Sins: They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city.  / in other words, everywhere they lived in Israel … from the smallest village and hamlet to the major fortified cities.
  • Egregious Sins: They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 11 and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. / These were vile, obscene, and idolatrous images to the false gods of the heathen nations … which they adopted and practiced.
  • Egregious Sins: And they did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger, 12 and they served idols,  / and they did all this openly, brazenly, throwing it back in Yahweh’s holy face, as if to say, “NO! We will not love You only – take this!”
  • Repeated Warnings: …of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this.” / as He did repeatedly from the first giving of the Law at Sinai / see Exodus 20.1-4, et. al. 
  • Repeated Warnings: 13 Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”  / Yahweh had repeatedly sent them prophet after prophet with their stern warnings from Yahweh – warning after warning… [NOTE: a similar testimony from Yahweh will be given to Judah 136 years later when they, too, fell to the Babylonians / 2 Chronicles 36.15]
  • Stubborn Refusals/Rebellions: 14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God.  / We have to remember here the solemn warnings for stubborn refusal to receive and obey God’s corrections in Proverbs 28.14 & 29.1 … read them]
  • Stubborn Refusals/Rebellions: 15 They despised His statutes and His covenant that He made with their fathers
  • Repeated Warnings: …and the warnings that He gave them.
  • Egregious Sins: They went after false idols and became false,
  • Egregious Sins: …and they followed the nations that were around them,
  • Repeated Warnings: …concerning whom the LORD had commanded them that they should not do like them. 
  • Stubborn Refusals/Rebellions: 16 And they abandoned all the commandments of the LORD their God,
  • Egregious Sins: …and made for themselves metal images of two calves;  / these are the two golden calves that Jeroboam initially erected as their central and primary objects of worship / see 1 Kings 12.25-33
  • Egregious Sins: …and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal.  / even continued after Elijah’s showdown at Mount Carmel / 1 Kings 18 
  • Egregious Sins: 17 And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger.  / Yes, this was child sacrifice which was prominently practiced.
  • Disastrous Consequences: 18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of His sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.


  1. The events in this brief account did not happen for another 136 years after the Fall of the Northern Kingdom Israel. That was in the year 586 BC. That’s another important seminal date you need to know and remember:
    • 722 BC: The Fall of the Northern Kingdom Israel and their captivity and their exile to Assyrian – from whence they never returned en masse.
    • 586 BC: The Fall of the Southern Kingdom Judah, the destruction of Jerusalem and The Temple, and their captivity and exile into Babylon – from whence they would return 70 years later according to Yahweh’s promise / Jeremiah 25.1-14 [especially vv 11-12] & 29.10-14
  2. This account is written more fully in 2 Kings 24-25 & 2 Chronicles 36
  3. But the narrator, again writing in retrospect years after the events, brings this statement into this account to show that “And Yahweh rejected ALL the descendants of Israel [both Israel and Judah] and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them out of His sight.” [NOTE: from 1 Kings 5-8 to here is the beginning and end of The Temple]
  4. You would have thought that the Southern Kingdom Judah would have taken serious note of Yahweh’s disastrous consequences that He brought upon the Northern Kingdom Israel … would have seen Yahweh’s judgment and Israel’s fall as yet another serious warning and ultimatum to turn from their own idolatries and covenant-breaking against Yahweh. But they didn’t – and the same disastrous consequences befell them 136 years later.
  5. Jeremiah laments their obstinate refusal to repent of their same sins and return to fear Yahweh and serve Him only … even after this serious warning and ultimatum Yahweh gave them by casting Israel out of the land / Jeremiah 3.6-11


  1. These verses briefly and succinctly summarize and encapsulate their 209-year history as a separate, divided kingdom – from the time of their secession from Judah under Jeroboam, their first king [1 Kings 12], to the Assyrian captivity and exile.
  2. And as the narrator says when he writes years later, “So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day.”


  1. We don’t have the time to draw out this section of 2 Kings 17 – so let me summarize it briefly…
  2. When the Jewish Samaritans were taken into exile to Assyria, the Assyrian king transplanted them with numerous other nationalities from other peoples he had conquered. When they moved into the land, they brought their own provincial gods and idolatries with them and began to practice them.
  3. Yahweh plagued them with ravaging lions … so they petitioned the Assyrian king to send them a former Samaritan priest to “teach them the law of the god of the land” …which he did…
  4. However, what they did was to mix, syncretize, and assimilate their own pagan practices with some of the formalities of the worship of Yahweh they had learned from the Samaritan priest.
  5. From that day on, ‘the Samaritans’ would be known as a mixed-breed inferior ethnic/religious class.
  6. So that, even in Jesus’ day, it would be the prevailing rule: “For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” / John 4.9


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