The Assyrian Invasion and fall of Samaria
The kingdom of Israel was divided into the Judah and Israel after the death of King Solomon. The capital of Judah was Samaria while Jerusalem was established as the kingdom of Israel. Both kingdoms were ruled by different kings. Some of these kings led the people wisely and they contributed to the success of their nations. Most historical events concerning the land of Israel are recorded in the Jewish religious books and the Christian Bible. The success of different kings is directly linked to how they obeyed God. God expected the Israelites to obey Him and follow His commands. Failure to do this often led to punishment and the suffering of the nation. On the other hand, the kings who chose to lead the people according to God’s commands were often successful. They led the people to expand their territories and their nations prospered under them.
Israel and Judah had become weak after the division although both sides had been prosperous for a while. Assyria had an account of weak kings and this resulted into a weak nation. King Tiglath-pileser III or Pul, managed to unify Assyria and make it a strong and powerful nation. This made it easier for Assyria to capture other nations and they concentrated on the west (Bullock 46). Tiglath-pileser attacked and carried away the people living in Galilee and Gilead. He carried away the Reubenites, Gadites and half the tribe of Manasseh, and resettled them in Halah, Habor, Hara and the River Gozan (1 Chronicles 5:26). When the kingdom of Israel was united, their rivals and enemies were not able to defeat them in the war. The division of the kingdom made it easier for them to attack the land.
The king of Assyria expected the kings of Israel and Judah to pay them tribute since he had made them servants when he captured them. Hoshea and Hezekiah were the kings of Israel and Judah respectively, at the time the king of Assyria besieged Samaria. King Hezekiah refused to do this and the king considered him rebellious. King Hoshea on the other hand was Shalmaneser’s vassal and he had agreed to pay him tribute. King Hoshea kept his throne as long as he continued to pay tribute to the king. He was the last king of Israel before the Assyrians besieged the land. He however went against the king of Assyria and refused to pay him the tribute they had agreed and he sought help from the Egyptians. This was a grave mistake, as Egyptians and Assyrians were enemies at the time. This happened during the fourth year of King Hezekiah and the seventh year of King Hoshea.
After the king besieged Samaria, he fought over the city for three years until he eventually took control. King Shalmaneser V took the Israelites away from their land into Assyria. He settled them in “Halah and in Habor by the River Gozan and in the city of Medes” (2 Kings 6). It is interesting to note that the king chose to settle the people in the same region where Tiglath-pileser had settled the first captives. The king of Assyria then settled in Samaria and the city became one of the centers of the Assyria. During the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, King Sennacherib, who was the Assyrian king at the time, captured the cities of Judah. Pul had made it easier for Assyria to dominate other nations and expand their territory. He was succeeded by Shalmaneser V, who captured and conquered Syria and invaded Israel. Part of his mission was to invade Judah after besieging Samaria.
Shalmaneser V was succeeded by one of the most evil kings of Assyria. King Sargon II was wicked and was even hated by the Assyrians. Sargon is credited for completing the work started by his predecessor. He completed the siege of Samaria, something the previous kings had failed to do, and he captured the Israelites. Sargon was succeeded by Sennacherib who captured many cities in Judah and exiled many people. Some critics do not agree with Sargon’s claim of capturing the city (Thiele 163). Sargon is not mentioned in biblical records. He was one of the soldiers of king Shalmenesar’s army and this meant that he played a pivotal role in capturing the city. It was Shalmaneser, who came against Hoshea and forced him to pay tribute (2 Kings 17). The Bible does not mention the king by name after these events take place. Some of the scholars have taken this to mean that Samaria might have been captured by two kings. This is not supported by biblical records. The Bible mentions all the kings that were involved in war with the Israelites. It would therefore not omit the mention of the king who would capture Samaria.
The Assyrians had developed and perfected the art of exiling their captives. They usually took the people they had captured and scattered them in different parts of Assyria. They then took their own people to live in the captured lands. This happened to the Israelites when they were captured. The Assyrians scattered the ten tribes of Israel in different parts of Assyria and they resettled in Samaria. The Israelites were scattered throughout the vast territory of Assyria and they found it hard to continue with their culture and traditions. They abandoned their religion as they became assimilated with the communities living in the region. On the other hand, some of the Assyrians and other people who had been captured by the Assyrians were settled in Samaria and they became the Samaritans.
The Israelites sinned against God when they disobeyed and disregarded him. Their leaders were also to blame as some of them disobeyed God and mistreated the people. These were the initial signs that the kingdom would divide. Once the kingdom divided, the two nations became less powerful. The other nations took advantage of this weakness and were able to capture them. The people did not seem to realize that their success depended on their obedience of God. Their defeat was further enhanced by their quickness to adopt the customs and traditions of the other nations, while abandoning their own.
Bullock, C. Hassell. An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2007. Print
Thiele, R. Edwin. The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 1994. Print
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