What or whom does "them" reference in 2 Kings 17:22?

For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them (2 Kings 17:22 KJV)

The Answers presented offer an idea of Sin or Idolatry, however how can I see that this is correct when this verse:

But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. (2 Kings 17:39 KJV)

Gives the possibility that "them" could mean the Assyrians or perhaps even those following Jeroboam?

2 Answers 2


The Book of Kings was written in Judah during the monolatrous period of the late monarchy and is consistently critical of the monarchy during the early monarchy. Each king of the former northern kingdom, Israel, was (correctly) described as worshipping more than one god, a practice that the Deuteronomist, author of Kings, viewed with abhorrence. Each Israelite king was somewhat euphemistically described as doing "that which was evil in the sight of the LORD" like each of his predecessors. We now know from archaeology and exegesis that Israel was a thoroughly polytheistic state.

2 Kings 17:20-22 is, from the Deuteronomist's perspective, a summary of everything wrong with the Israelite monarchy and the reference to Jeroboam is undoubtedly a reference to the legendary first king of the northern monarchy. By saying the "children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam, they are being accused of these sins from the very beginning: "they departed not from them." The Deuteronomist then implies in verse 23 that as a consequence of these sins, "the LORD removed Israel out of his sight ... So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day."

The reference to 'sins' that included worshipping other gods, as well as child sacrifices and other sins that drove God to anger, as we read in verse 17:17:

2 Kings 17:19: And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.

Criticism of the early Judahite kings was more muted, but most kings were still condemned for polytheism, as we see in a preceding verse:

2 Kings 17:19: Also Judah kept not the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.

  • I believe you, however I would like reinforcing convincing to discount the Assyrians as an option. The question had been updated to express this. Thanks for the time.
    – Decrypted
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 19:27
  • 1
    Hi @Decrypted: I have added a further para to show that the passage really is about the Israelites not departing from the sins for the entire period of the northern monarchy. Because this should now be clear, I did not set out to prove the negative ('not Assyrians') and in any case the context would make that meaning improbable: the defeat of Israel has been described and thus the Israelites no longer have any autonomy of action that can be criticised. Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 22:00

When you read the Hebrew, the answer is a no-brainer.

The original Hebrew says,

  • וילכו בני ישראל
    • then went-they children of Israel
  • בכל חטאות ירבעם
    • all the waywardness/sins of Jeroboam
  • אשר עשה לא סרו ממנה
    • which did not depart-reject-they from-it-her
    • From which they did not depart-reject

I hyphenated the grammatical person. The "them" (actually "her") is part of the 3rd person plural inflection necessary for proper grammar of the word "from" [ממנה].

  • למה הסר הוא ממני

    • why remove it-he from-me?
    • [ממני] = from-me
  • למה הסר ההם ממנה

    • why remove the-them from it-her
    • [ממנה] = from-it-her
  • No need to go into obfuscated arguments when you can get the answer right from the clear and present grammar of the original Hebrew source.
    – Cynthia
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 7:06
  • This doesn't resolve the question of to what ממנה refers and why ממנה is singular whereas חטאות is plural. So it's not quite a no-brainer. In this context, ממנה is better rendered "it", referring to a preceding feminine class noun in singular form. The MT is in fact problematic. Some commentators try to resolve by saying that ממנה refers to the חטאה גדולה at the end of the preceding verse.
    – user17080
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 14:53
  • [אשר עשה לא סרו ממנה] = from which did not depart.
    – Cynthia
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 18:09
  • Biblical Hebrew is an earthy, primitive language that does have much abstract linguistic elements. However Hellenized and Hellenism-influenced persons have been erroneously attempting to perceive biblical Hebrew thro the abstract lens of Hellenism. For example, the septuagint is due to a bunch of Hellenized Jews trying to show of their primitive religion too has the sophistry and fairylandistan of Hellenism, and therefore proceeded to inject and retrofit pagan elements into their translation of the Hebrew.
    – Cynthia
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 18:22
  • Why septuagint was a grammatical mistake ... chosenrace.avishegnath.com/2015/11/jesus-is-pagan-god.html
    – Cynthia
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 18:24

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