17:2 not as the kings. From this brief notice, we gather that Hoshea was the least wicked (not the most righteous!) of all the kings of Israel before him. Nevertheless, the decay of Israel politically and spiritually was already beyond recovery.
17:3 Hoshea. Hoshea was the last king of Israel before the Assyrian captivity. Shalmenezer V besieged the well-fortified capital city of Samaria, but died in the siege. His successor, Sargon II, sacked the city and carried the Israelites away to various Assyrian cities (this information is obtained from an inscription in Sargon’s palace). See Isaiah 20:1. It is noteworthy that the names of at least ten Hebrew kings (Omri, Ahab, Jehu, Menahem, Pekah, and Hoshea, of Israel; and Uzziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh, of Judah) have been found on excavated Assyrian tablets. The same is true of the various Assyrian kings mentioned in the Bible. All such records are fully consistent with the Biblical records.
17:6 carried Israel away. In his inscription, Sargon II boasted of this new policy of deporting captive peoples—including Israel—away from their native lands, resettling their lands with people from other nations.
17:7 Israel had sinned. At this point, the unknown compiler and writer of the book of Kings concludes the sad history of the northern kingdom with a seventeen-verse recital of the reasons why God finally had to uproot His chosen people from the promised land and send them into captivity under the cruel Assyrians. This was in fulfillment of many unheeded prophetic warnings (e.g., I Kings 14:15-16).
17:18 the tribe of Judah only. Judah was the tribe of the Davidic kings, and so the nation was called Judah. However the tribes of Benjamin, Simeon and Levi had to a large extent been assimilated into Judah. Also, spiritually minded individuals from the northern tribes had filtered back into Judah. Note II Chronicles 11:16; Acts 26:7; James 1:1; etc., so that Judah eventually came to represent all twelve tribes. The ten tribes departed into Assyria never returned to the promised land in a tribal sense, and this fact has lent itself to many speculations about the present whereabouts of the “ten lost tribes.”
17:24 instead of the children of Israel. The “mongrelization” of the remaining Israelite population would take about sixty-five years, according to the prophecy of Isaiah 7:8. This would probably identify the “king of Assyria” mentioned in this verse as Esar-haddon, the grandson of Sargon (note Ezra 4:2).
17:33 their own gods. The new inhabitants of Samaria, after the best of the Israelites had been carried away into Assyria, soon became a mixed nation—partly composed of Israeli blood and partly of many other tribes, all of which were pagan (II Kings 17:24). Consequently, their religion became a strange mixture of worship of Jehovah and of various pagan gods. These people became the Samaritans of New Testament times, despised by their Jewish half-brothers. Except for scattered individuals, the exiled Israelites never returned to their homeland.