2 Kings 17: The Northern Kingdom (Ten Tribes) Taken Captive

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 115–116


There is a story of two young men in a rowboat floating down a river. Although the river was calm where they floated, they were approaching an area where the water increased in speed and roughness as it headed toward a very steep, tall waterfall.A man along the shore noticed the two men on the river and called out, “Hello! The rapids are in front of you and are followed by the waterfall!”The young men heard the warning, but they felt fine about what they were doing and the boat was easily controlled. They continued laughing and joking, paying no attention to the man on the shore or the danger ahead.The man on the shore shouted again with some urgency, “The rapids and falls will soon be upon you!”The two men still did not seem to care. As the water began increasing in speed, however, the men became a little worried and tried to get the boat to shore. But it was too late. The current was too powerful, and over the falls they went to their death. Their fate could have been avoided had they listened to the warning voice (see David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals [1953], 912).This imaginary story is much like the situation of the Israelites in 2 Kings 17, especially the position of the Northern Kingdom, where, as you have read in 1–2 Kings, virtually every king in some way promoted idolatry. From the time of the splitting of the two kingdoms after Solomon until the time of the events in 2 Kings 17 was about two hundred years. In other words, the Lord gave Israel two hundred years to change and put Him and His laws above all other things, but they would not. Surely the Lord was merciful in allowing such a long time for the Israelites to repent. Chapter 17 of 2 Kings is also where we read how the Lord allowed the Assyrians to take the Israelites captive, removing them from their land of promise.The Assyrians were one of the most brutal of all conquering kingdoms in history. They treated their captive prisoners in some of the most savage ways known to man. In addition, in order to extend their own kingdom and culture, they did everything they could to separate those whom they captured from their culture. Consequently, when the Assyrians captured thousands of Israelites from the Northern Kingdom, we never really find out what happened to them. Although some remained in the land and intermarried with their Assyrian captors, most became “lost” from our knowledge and are known as the “lost ten tribes of Israel.”As you read, look for reasons why the Israelites lost the Lord’s protection and were taken captive by the Assyrians.
map of Israel and Judah torn in two

Understanding the Scriptures

2 Kings 17

Conspiracy (v. 4)A plan to be a traitor 
Besieged it (v. 5)Surrounded it, preventing anything from going in or out 
Statutes (vv. 8, 15, 34, 37)Laws 
Heathen (vv. 8, 11, 15)Those who do not worship the true God 
Vanity (v. 15)Things that have no eternal value 
Vain (v. 15)Focused on self and things of the world rather than things of eternal value 
Charged (vv. 15, 35)Commanded 
Molten images (v. 16)Idols made by man 
Divination (v. 17)To get false revelation through communication with evil spirits 
Enchantments (v. 17)Supposed magic spells 
Spoilers (v. 20)Enemies who steal and ruin 

2 Kings 18:5–18—Israel Attacked by the Assyrians and Removed

In the Church we speak of the “lost ten tribes” (see Articles of Faith 1:10). These lost tribes refer to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, which included the lands of inheritance of ten full tribes. In 2 Kings 18 we learn why and how many were carried away into Assyria and never heard of again as a people. The Lord is gathering the house of Israel in the latter days. To learn more about the ten tribes, look up scriptures found in the Topical Guide under the headings “Israel, gathering of”; “Israel, restoration of”; and “Israel, ten lost tribes of.”

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study 2 Kings 17.

Activity A iconA Warning Fulfilled

When the Lord first gave the Israelites their promised land, He gave them some warnings:

  1. 1.

    Summarize the prophecy the Lord gave Israel in Deuteronomy 4:24–28.

  2. 2.

    In what ways was that prophecy being fulfilled in 2 Kings 17? Be specific in your answer.

Activity B iconLet Me Count the Ways

  1. 1.

    List the ways Israel sinned against the Lord (look in 2 Kings 17:7–23).

  2. 2.

    Read Doctrine and Covenants 1:14–16 and describe how people in our day could be considered guilty of the same sins as the children of Israel.

Activity C iconLost, but Not Forgotten

Read Deuteronomy 4:29–31, and summarize the promise the Lord made to the people and their descendants who were scattered.