The circumstances are a little bit vague. Whatever the case, these people were not well received by the remaining inhabitants of the land—lions—which started killing them off. As a result, the people wanted to know how to propitiate the gods of the land, which is what the Gentiles did in their idolatries. They felt that, if they could propitiate the local gods, they would chase the lions away, and the people would then be able to live in the land. They turned to their pagan religion to get rid of the lions.
They appealed to the king of Assyria, who sent back an Israelite priest (verse 27). He, in his misunderstanding and deception, decided that a priest from the land would know how to propitiate the god of the land, and the lions problem would go away. All the people needed was to be taught how to worship the gods of that area.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Fifteen)
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