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The Bible and Modern Discovery.
The Jewish Exile and the
Assyrian Records. HOSHEA came to the throne of Samaria in connection with the Palestinian campaign of Tiglathpileser II., which took place in 734 B.C., and seems to have remained a vassal of Assyria until Tiglath-pileser's death. Whether any overt act of rebellion or any secret conspiracy on followed that event, we do not know. It is not at all unlikely; and such a fact would give the best explanation of the statement (2 Kings xvii. 3),
“ Against him came up Shalmaneser, king of Assyria.” This was Shalmaneser IV., Tiglath-pileser's successor, of whom we learn from Josephus that he made an expedition to Phoenicia. His reign was a short one (B.C. 727-724), and only the scantiest notices of it have as yet been furnished by the contemporary monuments.
2 Kings xvii. 3, and the following verses, tell us all we know about Hoshea's relations with him. It would appear that Hoshea submitted to him without a struggle, acknowledged him as his suzerain, and began to pay him a yearly tribute. This submission was not permanent, however, and was doubtless insincere from the first. Underhand negotiations with Egypt led Hoshea to a fatal confidence in his ability to resist the might of Assyria, and he raised the standard of independence by omitting to send the tribute when it fell due in a certain year. The consequence was that Shalmaneser “shut him up and bound him in prison.” Where this occurred we are not told, but the absence of any statement that the king of Assyria marched into Palestine before seizing Hoshea favours the view that the latter
had been summoned to Nineveh to give an account of his remissness, and was there imprisoned.
We cannot be perfectly sure of this, it is true, and it seems strange that when Hoshea had been emboldened to refuse the tribute, he should not have been courageous, and indeed discreet, enough to stand his ground in Samaria, or take refuge elsewhere.
The extreme brevity of the statement in. Kings leaves room for various conjectures. A negative confirmation of its trustworthiness appears, however, in the fact that the cuneiform inscriptions which relate to the fall of Samaria (see below) make no allusion to Hoshea, and, at all events, we must suppose that wherever he was seized, his place of imprisonment was in Assyrian territory.
But harmony was not restored by the incarceration of Hoshea. It is probable that his chief men, leaders of the army and rulers of the people, had shared in his desire for freedom from Assyria, and were now enraged at his captivity. Accordingly, “the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and beseiged it three years.” (2 Kings xvii. 5.) The long resistance of which the city was capable, even without the leadership of its king, is evidence of the powerful nature of its defences, and suggests the possibility of a different issue if Egypt had responded to Hoshea's. appeal with active assistance. As it was, the city at length fell, and the northern kingdom of Israel was at an end.
Just here, however, the Assyrian inscriptions inform us of an im-portant fact, which could not have been inferred from the Biblical account. 2 Kings xvii. 6, begins as follows: “In the ninth year of
Hoshea the king of Assyria took | garrison, and that the object of Samaria.” It is put beyond a such deportations, was not to doubt, by the cuneiform records, depopulate but to weaken. In that this “ King of Assyria” was regard to v. 24, we learn from not the same with the one who another passage of Sargon's rebegan the siege; it wa's not Shal- cords that in his first full regnal maneser IV., but Sargon II., into year. (B. C., 721), he transported whose hands Samaria fell. It is captives from Babylonia to “ the quite probable that the writer of land Chatti,” a term which inKings was not aware of this. cluded Syria and Palestine, and Sargon is mentioned only once in other passages still tell us that in the Bible (Is xx. 1), but he was a his seventh year (B. C. 715) he colmighty warrior, and his name was onized people from various subject known in western Asia, far and territories in the land of the wide. His reign extended from house of Omri,” i.e., Northern Israel, B. C. 722 to 705, and in the year and, specifically, "in Samaria." of his ascending the throne, he There are two matters of detail himself tells us, he captured the upon which more precise confirmacity of Samaria.
tion would be welcome. Sargon's The refractory spirit of the peo- inscriptions do not mention the ple was now to be crushed. The places to which the Israelites were severest treatment was determined deported, nor do they specify the upon for the prostrate nation. We Babylonian and other cities, whose are further told in 2 King xvii. 6, names appear in v.24. Indeed, the that the king of Assyria
inscription which refers to the Israel away into Assyria, and year B. c. 715 (see above) gives placed them in Halah and in quite a different list. This, howHabor by the river of Gozan, and in ever, only shows that the colonithe cities of the Medes.” What zation of 715 is not the one which Tiglath-pileser had done to the the writer of Kings had particularly east-Jordan land and to Galilee a in mind. The captives brought in dozen years before, now became 721 from Babylonia were doubtless the lot of the ten tribes as a whole. from various cities, among which To complete the conquest and it is entirely probable that two prevent any dream of recovery, we such important ones as Sepharvaim learn from v. 24 that “the king and Cuthab would be represented. of Assyria brought men from About Ava we know nothing Babylon, and from Cuthah, and further, but the annals of Sargon from Ava, and from Hamath, and inform us that he captured Hamath from Sepharvaim, and placed them in his second regnal year, and took in the cities of Samaria, instead of as his share of the booty 200 the children of Israel.
chariots and 600 horsemen. This These statements receive abun- points to the captivity of a large dant general confirmation from the number of other persons, who records of Sargon's reign. In one would be deposited, according to place we read: “The city of custom, in some conquered country. Samaria I besieged, I captured. It would be strange if none of 27,280 of its inhabitants I carried them had been brought to Samaria away.” Another inscription adds: and the mention of Hamath in “In their place I settled the men v. 24 is precisely what we should of countries I had conquered.” expect. There is, therefore, on The number which Sargon here this point, no trace of disagreegives may seem small, but we are ment between the Hebrew and the to remember that the long seige Assyrian documents. must have told heavily upon the
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