This is a very heavy section as it records the last days and fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. It is recorded that the reason for this was the sin of the people in following after other gods and constructing altars on every hill. It concludes with the judgement: “The Israelites persisted in all the sins of Jeroboam and did not turn away from them until the Lord removed them from his presence, as he had warned through all his servants the prophets. So the people of Israel were taken from their homeland into exile in Assyria, and they are still there” (17:22-23). Obviously this record was finalised after the time of the exile and the compiler accepts the actions of the Lord as being just, given the circumstances.
After the Israelites were taken into captivity they were replaced by other people groups who worshipped a multitude of gods. Due to attacks from lions they were trained in the ways of God and became syncretists, worshipping both their ancestral gods and the God of the Jews.
In Judah the story was a different one as Hezekiah came to power and followed the Lord. This was coupled with his defeat of their Assyrian overlords and Philistine adversaries. In the sixth year of his reign Samaria fell and in the fourteenth year Assyria laid siege to Judah and Hezekiah was forced to buy them off with all of the silver and most of the gold in the treasury and temple. When Assyria’s field commander laid siege to Jerusalem he made little of the Lord God and announced that God was powerless to defeat Assyria. The Assyrian spokesman used Hebrew so that all the people in the city would understand his threats and quake with fear.