A nation wiped out forever – Monday, 12th week in ordinary time – 2 Kings 17:5-8, 13- 15a, 18

The text of today tells us of the tragic fall of Samaria, the capital of Israel; the northern kingdom in 721 BC. The Northern Kingdom has variously been called Israel, Samaria or the Ten Tribes, as opposed to the Southern Kingdom known also as Judah.This took place under the evil reign of King Hoshea. Hoshea was king in the north while Ahaz was king in the south. Hoshea had assassinated King Pekha and took the throne and started his own brief dynasty which he reigned for nine years. Like the kings in the north before him, he did evil in the sight of the LORD but by no means the worst of the kings of Israel.

When Tiglath-pileser III died in 727 BC he was succeeded by his son Shalmaneser V (727-722. There were two super powers on the international stage at this time; Assyria to the north and Egypt to the south. Hoshea chose to become a vassal king to the Assyrians and paid tribute money. But the king of Assyria uncovered a conspiracy by Hoshea; for Hsohea had sent messengers to Sais, which was at that time the capital of Egypt in the hope of forming new allies. He then stopped paying tribute to the Assyrians. Hoshea did not look to the LORD for help, he looked to Egypt. Shalmaneser who got wind of this conspiracy would have none of this; he imprisoned Hoshea

Now that the king was imprisoned the nation was ripe for the plucking. The Assyrians besieged Samaria for three years. The fact that it took Assyria that long to break Samaria’s resistance is a testimony to the good wall Omri and Ahab had built around the capital city. This was a long, dedicated campaign to finally crush the rebellious kingdom of Israel, who had defied the power of the Assyrian Empire. Two hundred years and 19 kings after the time of Solomon the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell.

The Assyrian conquest policy was simple. Displace the conquered people so that they cannot regroup. They led the captives away on journeys of hundreds of miles, with the captives naked and attached together with a system of strings and fishhooks pierced through their lower lips. They deported all but the very lowest classes back to the key cities of their empire, either to train and utilize the talented or to enslave the able.

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