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Interaction of Assyrian Kings with Israel and Judah about 730 B.C.
By Fred P. Miller
2 Kings 15:19 And Pul the king of Assyria (Tiglath-pilezer III) came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand. 20 And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.
2 Kings 15:23 In the fiftieth year of Azariah (Uzziah) king of Judah Pekahiah the son of Menahem began to reign over Israel in Samaria,
2 Kings 15:25 But Pekah the son of Remaliah, a captain of his, conspired against him, and smote him in Samaria,
1 Chron 5:4 [Reuben] The sons of Joel; Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son, 5 Micah his son, Reaia his son, Baal his son, 6 Beerah his son, whom Tilgath-pileser king of Assyria carried away captive: he was prince of the Reubenites.
1 Chron 5:26 And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, who is also Tilgath-pileser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day.
(Tiglath-pilezer began a three step deportation of Israel with the initial deportation of the tribes east of the Jordan. This is supported by Gad still being located east of the Jordan in the time of Saul as per 1 Samuel 13:7 which locates the "Land of Gad," "And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.")
2 Kings 15:29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.
2 Kings 16:5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. 6 At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drove the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there to this day. 7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria , saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me. 8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria. 9 And the king of Assyria heard him: for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin. 10 And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.
2 Chron. 28:20 And Tilgathpileser king of Assyria came unto him, (Ahaz) and distressed him, but strengthened him not. 21 For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the LORD, and out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: (Tiglathpilezer) but he helped him not.
2 Kings 17:1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years. 2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. 3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents. 4 And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea : for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria (Shalmaneser), as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria (Shalmaneser) shut him up, and bound him in prison. 5 Then the king of Assyria (Shalmaneser) came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria ( Sargon II) took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
2 Kings 18:9 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria , and besieged it. 10 And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken (by Sargon II). 11 And the king( s) of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria , (on more than one occasion by Tiglath-pileser, Shalmaneser, and Sargon II at different times) and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes:
2 Kings 18:13 Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.
Isaiah 36:1 Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah , that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them.
2 Kings 19:36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh . 37 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, (approximately 20 years later) that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.
2 Chron 32:21 (When Sennacherib invaded Judah) the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valor, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword. 22 Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side.
Isaiah 37:36 Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred eighty five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. 38 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead
Consequences of the Division of Israel into Two Kingdoms
The kingdom established by David [circa 1050 B.C.] on the foundations started by Saul and Samuel attained all the borders and limits of the Biblical promised land. God's land-promises made to the Patriarchs were completely fulfilled in the kingdom of David and Solomon and these borders were kept by Israel through the time of David and Solomon. More than this, all of the Near East was under the control of the united tribes of Israel and ruled from Jerusalem. Garrisons of Israeli soldiers were stationed in Damascus, Hamath, Ammon, Edom, Moab and the out posts of the Negev and the Euphrates River. Shipping in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean was under the control of Israel. Coincidentally the strongest nations of the Near East, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, were eclipsed by the power of Israel and due to Israel's political power and control this period is an empty page in the annals of those subject nations. In an extraordinary chart of world history the period of the greatness of David's united kingdom is shown as a period that produces little or no records from the nations usually thought to be the greatest nations of history. This said chart maps all of civilized world history from Sumer to the present. It is in full color on fifteen 12"X18" pages. The total chart stretches 15 feet therefore, and the charting is in small print. In the corresponding streams that chart Egypt, Assyria and Babylon at the point where the chronology matches the period of the United Israeli Kingdom the following entries are made: Re: Egypt, "Egyptian History a Blank"; Re: Babylon: "Break in Babylonian History," Re: Assyria: "Few Assyrian Inscriptions known for 150 Years." There is historical silence that is all but incredible for the greatest nations of the world during the suzerainty of the kingdom of David. No wonder the prophets saw the future age of Glory as the restoration of the kingdom of David. See this in: Hull Edward, M.A., L.L.D., F.R.S.; The Wall chart of World History; Pub. Princess House, London; many editions from 1890 - 1992. Go here: to see a small portion of the chart that depicts this period of history.
Evil acts of men, who throw away the blessings of God, produce results that can not be seen at their inception. Thus the division of the kingdom of Solomon into two warring factions unleashed the powers that were formerly held in check by the unity of the people of God. After the death of Solomon, and the division of his kingdom, Assyria and Egypt entered into a period of rivalry as to which nation would be greatest. The might of the Assyrian Empire, which became a scourge of Israel and victimizer of Judah, would make its dominant historical appearance as a direct result of the division of Solomon's kingdom. When the division came there was then no power, as there had been, to inhibit the spread of the fiercest and most brutal conquerors yet known. The Assyrian Empire would rise after the death of Solomon and was divinely appointed by God to punish his people Israel. When that use was finished, God promised to destroy Assyria because they had not done his will by simply punishing Israel but used excessive violence, torture, and rapine. Among other extremities, they are known to have frequently skinned their captives alive.
Keyes speaks of Assyria about 1270 B.C.,"with Tiglath Pileser I's death: Then for two centuries this ambitious land was compelled to attend to concerns within her own boundaries. It was during this untroubled term that Israel experienced its "Golden Age" in the reigns of David and Solomon." (Keyes, Nelson Beecher; Story of the Bible World; C. S. Hammond & Co. 1959, New York et. al.) According to the Encyclopedia Britannica (fourteenth edition)there is historical silence from 1107 B.C. until 883 B.C. in the Assyrian annals. It is with the accession of Assur-nazir-pal III that Assyria again enters historical knowledge. His son Shalmanezer II (not the Biblical Shalmanezer but an ancestor of 100 years earlier) set the nation on a course toward power and greatness that would be reached in the reign of Tiglath-pilezer in 745 B.C. Historians differ on the numbers they ascribe to the Assyrian kings. The III ascribed by one author may be II when another writes. Remembering the name and the context without giving importance to the number may help. During the reign of Tiglath-pilezer the beginning of the end for the northern kingdom of Israel was begun when he deported, first, the tribes east of the Jordan, and later destroyed Galilee, mentioned in 2 Kings 15:29 and Isaiah 7-9. There is an extraordinary messianic prophecy in Is. 9:1,2 where Tiglath-Pilezer's destruction of Galilee is called a "light affliction" when viewed in contrast to the heavy affliction to be brought by the future visitation of the Messiah. It is likely that Tiglath Pilezer actually made three invasions of Israel. The last included this devastation of Galilee and, when joined by Ahaz, he destroyed Damascus.
Assyria as a renewed Empire had resurfaced with the division of the United Kingdom about 975 B.C. It would last exactly from the beginning of the Divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah until the very end of the Divided Kingdom period, just before the beginning of the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews. It would have a life span of slightly more than 360 years and then it would disappear with the fall of Nineveh in 610 B.C. just four years before the first captivity of Judah and the defeat of the Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish. This last mentioned battle happened just after the fall of Nineveh, Assyria's capital, and set the course for Egypt's downfall and its becoming the "basest of nations." At that time Egypt lost self rule when under Nebuchadnezzar it was conquered and placed under the Babylonians and would not regain self rule again until 1955. They were successively ruled by the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks and in 1917 the British received the "mandate" which did not end until 1955.
The Assyrian Empire was a thorn in the side for Israel and Judah for the whole term of her existence. Its life can be divided into three periods of roughly just over 100 years each. (1.) 950 B.C. to 800 B.C. is the period of Assyria's growth and rise to political power and whose only competitor was Egypt. (2.) 800 to 700 B.C. marks the period of political and cultural superiority and expansion to its greatest limits reached under Tiglath-pilezer III. Israel was exiled in this period and Judah was harassed and lost much territory to Assyria. 700 to 610 B.C. was a period of sustaining what had been gained and decline. Egypt had been subjugated politically but won the cultural struggle. Nineveh accepted the art and cultural styles of Egypt much like Americans are led by European culture. The artifacts dug from Nimrud from this period are almost totally Egyptian in style. Afterward laxity due to ease led to rebellion among the subject peoples and Babylon allied with the Medes and Scythians overthrew Nineveh at the close of the period. The Babylonians were so closely connected with the Assyrian Empire, so that even though Assyria lost power with the fall of Nineveh, the Babylonians inherited so much of what had been Assyrian that historians, and even Bible writers as well, often refer to Babylonian Kings and Persian Kings as Kings of Assyria. This is because much of the territory and the political structure of the Babylonian and Persian Empires would be founded on Assyrian foundations. Ezra calls Darius Hystaspes under whom the Temple was rebuilt in the Persian period "The King of Assyria" in Ezra 6:22. The same Darius is called "Darius the Mede" in Daniel 11:1 and Darius the son of Ahasuerus in Daniel 9:1. He is called Darius the Persian" in Nehemiah 12:22. Each name is correct in the context of his life. Babylonians are called "Assyrians" in Isaiah 14:25.
The sequence of events gleaned from books of history and the Bible books of Kings, Chronicles and Isaiah give this outline: At the time of Menahem who was a predecessor of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-pilezer III established his presence in Palestine and Samaria became a tributary of Assyria (not for the first time since Jehu was a tributary to Assyria before this). Menahem died and his son Pekahiah briefly ruled until he was overthrown by a military ruler, Pekah the son of Remaliah. Shortly after the brief 2 year reign of Pekahiah Tiglath Pilezer made his first military attack on Israel and took the tribes east of the Jordan into captivity before 734 B.C.. Pekah had revolted against Pekahiah and succeeded to rule in Samaria. Then Tiglath-pilezer returned for a second visit at the invitation of Ahaz when he devastated all the land of Galilee and the rest of Gilead and removed the people into captivity at the same time as his assault against Damascus in 731 B.C.. This was precipitated by Pekah who had appealed to Rezin the King of Damascus to join him in an attack on Judah to replace Ahaz who was then King of Judah. Ahaz appealed to Tiglath-Pilezer King of Assyria to help him. Ahaz stripped the temple of its gold to pay a bribe to the Assyrian king. Tiglath-pilezer went to war against Samaria and Damascus but not to help Ahaz, who foolishly fawned before him seeking his favor. Tiglath-pilezer devastated Galilee (referred to in Isaiah 9:1 as mentioned above) and also destroyed Damascus where Ahaz then went to humble himself before the King of Assyria where also he tried to win the king of Assyria's approval by copying an altar which the Assyrian king built.
A few years later Tiglath-pilezer had died and was succeeded by Shalmanezer IV. Hoshea began, in the 12th year of Ahaz, to be the last king of Israel to reign. Hoshea was soon subdued by Shalmanezer IV and became tributary to him. Hoshea conspired with the king of Egypt to help throw off the Assyrian yoke. In the ninth year of Hoshea, which was the forth year of Hezekiah of Judah who succeeded Ahaz, Hoshea was imprisoned by Shalmanezer who then besieged Samaria for 3 years at which time it fell decisively and finally. By this time Hezekiah, the king, of whom it is said he was righteous like his ancestor David, had succeeded his father Ahaz. Shalmanezer IV died during the siege of Samaria and was succeeded by Sargon II (722 - 706 B.C.) who completed the conquest of Samaria in 722 B.C.. Then the rest of the so-called 10 tribes were led into captivity by Sargon which completed their deportation which had been started by Tiglath-pilezer. The year was 722 B.C. It was the sixth year of Hezekiah which marks the end of the political identity of the northern tribes and of the kingdom of Israel. Although they lost their land the tribes did not lose their national or family identity and they would later be restored to the nation of Judah under the generic name of "Jews" after the Babylonian captivity of Judah. From that time forward, no matter what your tribe you would be called a Jew.
To sum up then: In a first assault, Tiglath-pilezer had taken captive the tribes east of the Jordan, i.e., the tribes of Reuben, Manasseh, and Gad, about 734 B.C.. Approximately 731 B.C. the tribes of Dan, Naphtali, and Zebulun were taken during the invasion and the destruction of Galilee and Damascus by Tiglath-pilezer. The rest (three tribes: Ephraim, Issachar and Asher and the rest of Manasseh) of the "10 Tribes" (actually only 9) went into captivity under Sargon II at the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C.
Actually there were only nine tribes in the northern kingdom after the Levites abandoned their cities in the north and joined Judah after the apostasy of Jeroboam I. Simeon was still settled in the portion of the tribe of Judah although part of Simeon had immigrated to various other locations, some "lehutz la'aretz" or outside the Holy Land. 2Chron. 4:43,44 describes some men of Simeon who immigrated from Judah to Edom. "42 And some of them, even of the sons of Simeon, five hundred men, went to mount Seir, having for their captains Pelatiah, and Neariah, and Rephaiah, and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi. 43 And they smote the rest of the Amalekites that were escaped, and dwelt there unto this day." Thus the kingdom of Judah, after the fall of Samaria and before the Babylonian captivity, consisted of four tribes. Judah, Benjamin, Simeon, and Levi.
Just before the fall of Samaria Hezekiah began a reform in Jerusalem which gave the Jews a respite and a period of good times. Sargon, although he was also a military leader, spent most of his time, after the fall of Samaria in the sixth year of Hezekiah, consolidating his empire and attempting a restoration of Sumerian culture and language at Babylon. Upon his death Sennacherib succeeded and came against Judah in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah. There is difficulty here between the Biblical commentators and secular historians on the chronologies. The differences can be disregarded at this point but they should be noted. However after many successes in Palestine Sennacherib armies were struck by God with a pestilence and myriads of men, 185,000, died in their tents. Sennacherib returned in shame to Nineveh where he was killed by two of his sons who were killed by their brother Esarhaddon who took the kingdom. Assyria would maintain control of the Middle East for another hundred years. Then about 612 B.C. there was a spontaneous rising of Scythian, Median and Babylonian forces who joined to overthrow Nineveh in 610 B.C. After the fall of Nineveh the Babylonian monarch would subdue his allies and pass the torch of Empire on to his son Nebuchadnezzar. This new world leader established the first world empire and brought about the end of the Davidic kingdom of Judah, destroying the city of Jerusalem and taking the Jews into captivity until the end of the Babylonian dynasty and the rise of the Persians in 536 B.C.
May we repeat: Evil men can not know the forces that are unleashed when the people of God are divided into fighting factions. Christians and Christian families need to preserve peace lest Satan get an advantage that will have consequences for generations to come.
Fred would like to hear your comments or answer any questions you may have via e-mail.
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