HE power and peace that Judah enjoyed under Jeroboam the second did not last after his death. His great kingdom fell apart, and his son Zechariah reigned only six months. He was slain in the sight of his people by Shallum, who made himself king. But after only a month of rule, Shallum himself was killed by Menahem, who reigned ten years of wickedness and of suffering in the land, for the Assyrians spoiled the land and took away the riches of Israel. Then came Pekahiah, who was slain by Pekah, and Hoshea, who in turn slew Pekah. So nearly all the latter kings of Israel won the throne by murder, and were themselves slain. The land was helpless, and its enemies, the Assyrians from Nineveh, won victories, and carried away many of the people, and robbed those who were left. All these evils came upon the Israelites, because they and their kings had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers and worshipped idols.
Hoshea was the last of the kings over the Ten Tribes; nineteen kings in all, from Jeroboam to Hoshea. In Hoshea's time, the king of Assyria, whose name was Shalmanezer, came up with a great army against Samaria. He laid siege against the city; but it was in a strong place, and hard to take, for it stood on a high hill. The siege lasted three years, and before it was ended, Shalmanezer, the king of Assyria, died, and Sargon, a great warrior and conqueror, reigned in his place. Sargon took Samaria, and put to death Hoshea the last king of Israel. He carried away nearly all the people from the land, and led them into distant countries in the east, to Mesopotamia, to Media, and the lands near the great Caspian Sea. This Sargon did, in order to keep the Israelites from again breaking away from his rule.
As in their own land the children of Israel had forsaken the Lord and had worshipped idols, so after they were taken to these distant lands they sought the gods of the people among whom they were living. They married the people of those lands, and ceased to be Israelites; and after a time they lost all knowledge of their own God, who had given them his words and sent them his prophets. So there came an end to the Ten Tribes of Israel, for they never again came back to their own land, and were lost among the people of the far east.
But a small part of the people of Israel were left in their own land. The king of Assyria brought to the land of Israel people from other countries, and placed them in the land. But they were too few to fill the land, and to care for it; so that the wild beasts began to increase in Israel, and many of these strange people were killed by lions who lived among the mountains and in the valleys. They thought that the lions came upon them because they did not worship the God who ruled in that land, and they sent to the king of Assyria, saying, "Send us a priest who can teach us how to worship the God to whom this land belongs; for he has sent lions among us, and they are destroying us."
They supposed that each land must have its own God, as the Philistines worshipped Dagon, and the Moabites Chemosh, and the Tyrians and Zidonians, Baal and Asherah. They did not know that there is only one God, who rules all the world, and who is to be worshipped by all men.
Then the king of Assyria sent to these people a priest from among the Israelites in his land; and this priest tried to teach them how to worship the Lord. But with the Lord's worship, they mingled the worship of idols; and did not serve the Lord only, as God would have them serve him. In after time these people were called Samaritans, from Samaria, which had been their chief city. They had their temple to the Lord on Mount Gerizim, near the city of Shechem, and in that city a few of them are found even in our time.