24 The king of Assyria brought in people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and relocated them in the towns of Samaria, replacing the exiled Israelites. They moved in as if they owned the place and made themselves at home. When the Assyrians first moved in, God was just another god to them; they neither honored nor worshiped him. Then God sent lions among them and people were mauled and killed. 26 This message was then sent back to the king of Assyria: "The people you brought in to occupy the towns of Samaria don't know what's expected of them from the god of the land, and now he's sent lions and they're killing people right and left because nobody knows what the god of the land expects of them." 27 The king of Assyria ordered, "Send back some priests who were taken into exile from there. They can go back and live there and instruct the people in what the god of the land expects of them." 28 One of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came back and moved into Bethel. He taught them how to honor and worship God.
But each people that Assyria had settled went ahead anyway making its own gods and setting them up in the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines that the citizens of Samaria had left behind - a local custom-made god for each people:
for Babylon, Succoth Benoth; for Cuthah, Nergal; for Hamath, Ashima; for Avva, Nibhaz and Tartak; for Sepharvaim, Adrammelech and Anammelech (people burned their children in sacrificial offerings to these gods!). 32 They honored and worshiped God, but not exclusively - they also appointed all sorts of priests, regardless of qualification, to conduct a variety of rites at the local fertility shrines. They honored and worshiped God, but they also kept up their devotions to the old gods of the places they had come from.
34 And they're still doing it, still worshiping any old god that has nostalgic appeal to them. They don't really worship God - they don't take seriously what he says regarding how to behave and what to believe, what he revealed to the children of Jacob whom he named Israel. God made a covenant with his people and ordered them, "Don't honor other gods: Don't worship them, don't serve them, don't offer sacrifices to them. Worship God, the God who delivered you from Egypt in great and personal power. Reverence and fear him. Worship him. Sacrifice to him. And only him! All the things he had written down for you, directing you in what to believe and how to behave - well, do them for as long as you live. And whatever you do, don't worship other gods! And the covenant he made with you, don't forget your part in that. And don't worship other gods! Worship God, and God only - he's the one who will save you from enemy oppression." 40 But they didn't pay any attention. They kept doing what they'd always done. As it turned out, all the time these people were putting on a front of worshiping God, they were at the same time involved with their local idols. And they're still doing it. Like father, like son.