Tributary to Nebuchadnezzar & Babylon

Looks pretty bad here, seems like most people see You as being worth maybe a penny.  I bet You get fed up with them and want to destroy them like you did back in Noah’s time (Gen 7-8), but I know that You don’t break promises, and You said that You wouldn’t do that anymore, that’s why we have a rainbow after it rains (Gen 9:121-15). 

So what’s next?

Jerusalem located on a plateau in the Judean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, is one of the oldest cities in the world.

It is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Israelis and Palestinians both claim Jerusalem as their capital, as Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there and the State of Palestine ultimately foresees it as its seat of power; however, neither claim is widely recognized internationally.

During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.

The oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th millennium B.C.

In 1538, walls were built around Jerusalem under Suleiman the Magnificent.

Today those walls define the Old City, which has been traditionally divided into four quarters—known since the early 19th century as the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters.

The Old City became a World Heritage site in 1981, and is on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Modern Jerusalem has grown far beyond the Old City’s boundaries.

According to the Biblical tradition, King David established the city as the capital of the united Kingdom of Israel and his son, King Solomon, commissioned the building of the First Temple; there is no archaeological evidence that Solomon’s Temple existed or any record of it, other than the Bible.

These foundational events, straddling the dawn of the 1st millennium B.C., assumed central symbolic importance for the Jewish people.

The sobriquet of holy city (עיר הקודש, transliterated ‘ir haqodesh) was probably attached to Jerusalem in post-exilic times.

The holiness of Jerusalem in Christianity, conserved in the Septuagint which Christians adopted as their own authority, was reinforced by the New Testament account of Jesus’s crucifixion there.

In Islam, Jerusalem is the third-holiest city, after Mecca and Medina.

In Islamic tradition in 610 CE it became the first Qibla, the focal point for Muslim prayer (salat), and Muhammad made his Night Journey there ten years later, ascending to heaven where he speaks to God, according to the Quran.

As a result, despite having an area of only 0.9 square kilometres (0.35 sq mi), the Old City is home to many sites of seminal religious importance, among them the Temple Mount and its Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque.

Today, the status of Jerusalem remains one of the core issues in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, West Jerusalem was among the areas captured and later annexed by Israel while East Jerusalem, including the Old City, was captured and later annexed by Jordan.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War and subsequently annexed it.

Israel’s 1980 Basic Law the Jerusalem Law refers to Jerusalem as the country’s undivided capital.

The international community rejected the annexation as illegal and treats East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory occupied by Israel.

The international community does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the city hosts no foreign embassies.

In 2011, Jerusalem had a population of 801,000, of which Jews comprised 497,000 (62%), Muslims 281,000 (35%), Christians 14,000 (around 2%) and 9,000 (1%) were not classified by religion.

All branches of the Israeli government are located in Jerusalem, including the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), the residences of the Prime Minister and President, and the Supreme Court.

Jerusalem is home to the Hebrew University and to the Israel Museum with its Shrine of the Book.

“In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him.

And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servants the prophets.

Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did;

And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the Lord would not pardon.

Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead.

And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt.

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother’s name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.

And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father had done” (2 Kgs 24:1-9).

At this time King Nebuchadnezar attacked and overtook Jerusalem.  He then took all the treasures out of the house of the Lord, cut in pieces the vessels of gold Solomon had made in the temple of God, captured all the princes, mighty men, craftsmen and smiths, about 10,000. 

Plains of Jericho
Jericho is a city located near the Jordan River in the Palestine.

It is the administrative seat of the Jericho Governorate.

In 2007, it had a population of 18,346.

The city was occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967, and has been held under Israeli occupation since 1967; administrative control was handed over to the Palestinian Authority in 1994.

It is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.

Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (9000 B.C., almost to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch of the Earth’s history.

Jericho is described in the Bible as the “City of Palm Trees”.

Copious springs in and around the city attracted human habitation for thousands of years.

He left nothing there but the poor.  He also brought King Jehoiachin, his wives, his mother, and his officers to Babylon.  Nebuchadnezzar made Mattaniah, at the age of 21, king of Jerusalem, and changed his name to Zedikiah, and his mother was Hamutal, and he did evil in the eyes of God.

“For through the anger of the LORD it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon” (2 Kgs 24:20).

During Nebuchadnezzar’s 9th year as king of Babylon he attacked Jerusalem and besieged it, and a famine came about so there was no bread for the people.

“And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain.

And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him.

So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him.

And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon” (2 Kgs 25:4-7).

During Nebuchadnezzar’s 19th year of being king of Babylon, Nebuzar-adan, a captain guard and servant to the king, entered Jerusalem and burnt the house of the Lord, the kings house, and every house there, as well as torn down the walls of the city.

“Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carry away.

But the captain of the guard left of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen.

And the pillars of brass that were in the house of the Lord, and the bases, and the brasen sea that was in the house of the Lord, did the Chaldees break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon.

And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away.

And the firepans, and the bowls, and such things as were of gold, in gold, and of silver, in silver, the captain of the guard took away.

The two pillars, one sea, and the bases which Solomon had made for the house of theLord; the brass of all these vessels was without weight.

The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and the chapiter upon it was brass: and the height of the chapiter three cubits; and the wreathen work, and pomegranates upon the chapiter round about, all of brass: and like unto these had the second pillar with wreathen work.

And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door:

And out of the city he took an officer that was set over the men of war, and five men of them that were in the king’s presence, which were found in the city, and the principal scribe of the host, which mustered the people of the land, and threescore men of the people of the land that were found in the city:

And Nebuzaradan captain of the guard took these, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah:

And the king of Babylon smote them, and slew them at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away out of their land.

And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler.

Evil-Merodach
Son of Nebuchadnezzar, and third ruler of the New Babylonian empire; reigned from 561 to 560 B.C.

His name in Babylonian is “Amil-Marduk” or “Avel-Marduk”= “man,” or “servant, of Marduk.”

No personal or historical inscriptions of his reign have been discovered, and there are only two sources of information concerning him—the Scriptures and Berosus.

According to the Bible he released in the year of his accession, the imprisoned king Jehoiachin, invited him to his table, clothed him with royal raiment, and elevated him above all other captive kings that were in Babylon.

Tiele, Cheyne, and Hommel are of the opinion that perhaps Neriglissar, Evil-merodach’s brother-in-law, who is praised for his benevolence, was instrumental in the freeing of the Judean king. Grätz, on the other hand, conjectures the influence of the Jewish eunuchs (referring to Jer. 39:7 and Daniel).

Berosus, however, says that Evil-merodach ruled “unjustly and lewdly.”

Possibly his treatment of the exiled king was held by the priestly, or national, party to have been unlawful; or it may be that the memory of some injury rankled in the mind of the priestly writer, or writers, of his history (Winckler, “Gesch. Babyloniens und Assyriens,” p. 314).

Evil merodach was unable to counteract the danger arising from Median immigration.

The party opposed to him soon succeeded in dethroning him, and he was assassinated by order of Neriglissar, who succeeded him.

And when all the captains of the armies, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, there came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Careah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men.

And Gedaliah sware to them, and to their men, and said unto them, Fear not to be the servants of the Chaldees: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon; and it shall be well with you.

But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldees that were with him at Mizpah.

And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the armies, arose, and came to Egypt: for they were afraid of the Chaldees.

And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison;

And he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon;

And changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life.

And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life” (2 Kgs 25:11-30).

1 In case you caught the fact that God would not forgive Manasseh for all the murders I need to explain it especially since I have pointed out numerous times that all sins are forgiven accept for blasphemy of the Holy Ghost:

“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.  

And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matt 12:31-32).

For example of this see Act 5:1-10.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that all sins but blasphemy of the Holy Ghost would be forgiven before Jesus came, so it could have been different, but I don’t think so because God doesn’t change:

“For I am the LORD, I change not…” (Mal 3:6)

“And Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jas 1:17).

Yet, to be forgiven of your sins you have to ask and you must be sincere in your heart.  Those that make a career out of sinning need not waste their breath because God is not a fool and cannot be used:

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

If you do not have Jesus you have nothing but absolute damnation.
Allergies really sucks, like when the top of the inside of your mouth itches and the only way to scratch it is with your tongue, but that just makes it worse.

Imagine if it never stopped, that would be really irritating.

Yet, spending eternity in hell would be much worse because you would have to hang out with the Catholic priests, politicians, people like Oprah and the like.

He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the  Sprit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal 6:7-8). 

God does not even listen to sinners:

“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Is 59:1-2).

Therefore I must assume that Manasseh ignored God’s warning, he defied Him, so he’s obviously going to spend eternity in Hell.

Babylon

Babylon, now in ruins.
Nothing but sand-blown ruins marks the spot where Babylon once stood in the Iraq desert.

Amid them is all that remains of a great palace built by King Nebuchadnezzar 25 centuries ago, to mark his prowess as the greatest conqueror of the day.

Babylon was situated in central Mesopotamia on the river Euphrates, some 50 miles south of modern Baghdad, capital of Iraq.  A huge plantationof palm trees added to the beauty of the ancient city, and a permanent water supply assured fertility for the surrounding areas.

It was within easy reach of the Persian Gulf and being situated on an important caravan-trade route, was in contact with all the most important cultural centers of the ancient Near East.

The date of its foundation is still disputed.  The connection between Akkad, Calneh, Erech, and Babylon (Gen 10:10) indicates a period at least as early as 3000 B.C.  Babylon may have been founded originally by the Sumerians, and an early tablet recorded that Sargon of Akkad (c. 2400) destroyed Babylon and took some of its sacred earth to his own capital city, Akkad.

Whatever the date of its foundation, the earliest archaeological levels of the mound that once was stately Babylon come from the first dynasty period, i.e., the 19th to 16th centuries B.C.

The Ishtar Gate, one of the eight gates of the inner city of Babylon, was built during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (604- 562 BC).

Only the foundations of the gate were found, going down some 45 feet, with molded, unglazed figures.

The gateway has been reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin, from the glazed bricks found, so its original height is different in size.

Reconstructed height is 47 feet.

The history of Babylon is complicated by the fact that it was governed by rulers from several lands who were successively engaged in struggles for its capture and retention. 

It was the scene of many a decisive battle, its magnificent buildings plundered in various periods and its walls, and temples leveled from time to time. 

Yet this apparently indestructible city rose from its ruins on each occasion more splendid than before, until during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (c. 605-562 B.C.) it was probably the largest and most elaborate city in the ancient world.

All that now remains of its former glory is a series of mounds some five miles in extent, lying mostly on the left bank of the Euphrates.

Nebuchadnezzar II was king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, who reigned c. 605 B.C. – 562 B.C.

Both the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple are ascribed to him.

He is featured in the Book of Daniel and is mentioned in several other books of the Bible.

The Akkadian name, Nabû-kudurri-uṣur, means “O god Nabu, preserve/defend my firstborn son”.

Nabu, son of the god Marduk, is the Babylonian deity of wisdom.

In an inscription, Nebuchadnezzar styles himself as Nabu’s “beloved” and “favourite”.

His name has previously been mistakenly interpreted as “O Nabu, defend my kudurru”, in which sense a kudurru is an inscribed stone deed of property.

The political history of Babylon was bound up with that of Babylonia and Assyria, though from the beginning of the 18th century B.C. (about the period of Terah’s migration from Ur, Gen 11:31) until the time of the Assyrian regime (9th to 6th centuries B.C.), Babylon was the dominant influence in Mesopotamia.

Under Hammurabi (c. 1704-1662 B.C.), the last great king of the first dynasty, the Babylonian Empire stretched from the Persian Gulf to the middle Euphrates and upper Tigris regions.

Archaeological discoveries have brought to light many of the achievements of this remarkable scholar-statesman, the most interesting of which is his celebrated legal code (See “The Hammurabi Code” below).

The first dynasty of Babylon fell about 1596 B.C. when the Hittite king Murilis I advanced from Anatolia (modern Turkey) with an army and sacked the city.  Four about 300 years Babylon was at the mercy of the Kassites who lived to the north, the Elamites, and other warlike nomadic people. 

An early Assyrian monarch Tukulti-Ninurta I (c. 1250) occupied Babylon and took the sacred statue of Marduk, patron deity of the city to Asshur.

The Pedestal of Tukulti-Ninurta I
Although the cult pedestal of the Middle Assyrian king Tukulti-Ninurta mentions in its short inscription that it is dedicated to the god Nuska, the relief on the front that depicts the king in a rare kind of narrative, standing and kneeling in front of the very same pedestal was frequently discussed by art-historians.

More strikingly on top of the depicted pedestal there is not the lamp, the usual divine symbol for the god Nuska, but most likely the representation of a tablet and a stylus, symbols for the god Nabû.

Occasionally the vassal ruler revolted and attempted to form a new dynasty in Babylon, but by the time of Tiglath-Pileser Israel of Assyria (c. 745-727) Babylon was completely under Assyrian control.  This redoubtable monarch attacked the northern kingdom of Israel, carried away captives from Gilead, Galilee, and Naphtali, demanded booty, and reduced Israel to a series of provinces.

One of the more vigorous vassal rulers of Babylon who revolted against Assyria was Markukapal-iddin (c. 722-711), the Merodach-Baladan.  He endeavored to organize a coalition against his overlord Sargon II (c. 722-705) and sought the kingdom of Judah as an ally.

A battle at Carchemish in 605 B.C. against the Egyptians gave the Babylonian forces a decided military advantage, and Nabopolassar determined to occupy southern Palestine, probably intending to use it as an advance base for a subsequent attack on Egypt. 

Nebuchadnezzar directed the operation on the death of Nabopolassar in 605, and in 597 the first attack on Judah took place.  This was followed by orders in 586 and 581, when several thousand inhabitants of Judah were sent to Babylon as captives.

Once Nebuchadnezzar felt reasonably secure, he devoted an increasing amount of cultural interests in imperial territory, and more particularly in Babylon.  His objective was to make this capital the most notable city in the world and to this end, he constructed new canals and navigable waterways, erected magnificent buildings, and laid out extensive parks. 

A number of travelers who visited Babylon at this time have left their impressions of the city.  The description furnished by Herodotus in particular clearly indicates his amazement at the city’s great size and splendor.

According to this notable historian of antiquity, the city occupied an area of about 200 square miles and was built on both sides of the Euphrates.  It was protected by a double defensive brick wall reinforced with towers. 

Outside the city wall, about 20 yards distant, was an additional defensive wall of burnt bricks set in bitumen.  The outer portion of the twin walls extended over 17 miles and was constructed under Nebuchadnezzar, while his predecessors were responsible for other parts of the fortification. 

Nabonidus in relief showing him praying to the moon, sun and Venus.
Nabonidus was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556-539 B.C.

Nabonidus’ background is not clear.

He said in his inscriptions that he was of unimportant origins.

Similarly, his mother Addagoppe, who lived to an old age and may have been connected to the temple of the moon-god Sîn in Harran, does not mention her family background in her inscriptions.

Excavations at the mound have shown that the earliest attempt at constructing a defensive system goes back to the 19th century B.C.  The city was believed to be impregnable.

Darius, relief from the Central Relief of the Northern Stairs of the Apadana, Persepolis.
When Darius became king in 522 B.C., the Persian empire was in great turmoil.

It had been founded less than thirty years before by Cyrus the Great, who had defeated his Median overlord Astyages in 550 and had taken over his empire.

Nebuchadnezzar died in 562 B.C. and during the next five years three kings, one whom was the Evil-Merodach of 2 Kings 25:27, occupied the throne until Nabonidus came to power in 556.

Nabonidus was a mystic who had antiquarian interests and after a short rule he made his son, Bel-harusur regent while he retired to Teioma in Arabia.  Nine years later the city was overthrown by Cyrus. 

Cyrus did not pillage Babylon, but acted respectfully toward the shrines and deities of the land.  Enslaved populations were liberated, including the captive Hebrews, and Cyrus, “King of Babylon,” set about building up his vast Persian Empire.

Darius I (c. 321-485) continued the political tendencies begun by Cyrus, but in later years the center of influence of the Achaemenid regime moved from Babylon to Persepolis and Ecbatana.  When the Persian Empire fell to Alexander the Great in 330, Babylon was destroyed.

Alexander intended to reconstruct the great ziggurat, and ordered the rubble removed from the site, but at his death in 323, the task was left unfinished.

Although remaining an inhabited site, Babylon declined still further in importance under the Parthians (c. 125 B.C.)  and was last mentioned on a Babylonian clay  tablet dated about 10 B.C.

The Law Read to the People & The Kingdom of Josiah

You sound as mad as You did when the devil tricked Adam and Eve and they weren’t meaning to ignore You. 

You gonna mess some people up pretty bad, aren’t  You? 

“And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem” (2 Kgs 23:1).

Babylonian Chronicles for years 615-609 B.C.
Babylonian king Nabopolassar ruled over the rising empire from about 626 to 605 B.C.

The Babylonian Chronicle for the years 615-609 B.C. tells of the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C.

The wounded Assyrian Empire would collapse seven years later at the battle of Carchemish.

—–

Nabopolassar was the king of Babylonia and played a key role in the demise of the Assyrian Empire following the death of the last powerful Assyrian king,

The following pictures relate to kings of Neo-Babylon Empire.

The king, with the men of Judah and Jerusalem, the priests, and the prophets went to the house of the Lord.  The king stood by a pillar, promising Him that he would abide in His commandments, testimonies, statutes, and express His words of the covenant to the people. 

The king told Hilkiah, the high priest, to take from the temple of God the vessels made for Baal and the grove, and then to burn them and carry the ashes to Beth-el.  He then put down the idolatrous priests (more than likely executed them – c.f Ex 22:8).

He also destroyed the house of sodomites where women wove hangings for the grove, removed the priests from the cities of Judah, defiled their high places, defiled Topheth (the place where they made their children pass through the fire to 1 Molech). 

The kings of Judah had given horses to the sun so they were taken away.  The alters  on top of the upper chamber of Ahaz that had been made by the kings of Judah and Manasseh were destroyed.  And the high places that Solomon had made for Ashtoreth (see Jerry and God box Bride for Isaac), for 2 Chemosh, and for Milcom (same as Molech) were defiled.  

He broke down the images and cut down the groves and filled them with the bones of men.  The altar at Beth-el was burned and stamped to powder, and the grove there burned.  Josiah noticed the sepulchers that were in the mount so he took the bones and burned them upon the altar and polluted it.

Ruins of King Nebuchadnezzar II palace in Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar II was king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, who reigned c. 605 B.C. – 562 B.C.

Both the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple are ascribed to him.

He is featured in the Book of Daniel and is mentioned in several other books of the Bible.

Then Josiah said,

“What title is that that I see?  And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulcher of the man of God (Elisha), which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el.

And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria” (2 Kgs 23:17-18).

What Josiah did in Beth-el he did in Samaria, and he slew all the priests of the high places and returned to Jerusalem.

“And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the Passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.

Surely there was not holden such a Passover from the days of the Judges that Judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah;

But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this Passover was holden to the LORD in Jerusalem.

Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

Babylonian ration tablet naming Jeconiah.
Evil-merodach came to power in Babylon upon the death of his father Nebuchadnezzar in 562 B.C.

There are only two references to him in the Bible, and these are parallel accounts.

Evidence suggests that Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, Coniah), the king of Judah who was taken to Babylon in 597 B.C., was treated like a king in exile during most, or all, of his time in Babylon.

The kindness of Evil-merodach receives special attention.

And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal.

When the Babylonian Empire empire was absorbed into the Persian Achaemenid Empire, the name “Chaldean” lost its meaning as the name of a race of men, and came to be applied only to a social class.

The Persians found the Chaldeans masters of reading and writing, and especially versed in all forms of incantation,

in sorcery, witchcraft, and the magical arts.

They quite naturally spoke of astrologists and astronomers as Chaldeans.

It therefore resulted that Chaldean came to mean astrologist.

In this sense it is used in the Book of Daniel and with the same meaning it is used by the classical writers.

Nergal-sharezer or Neriglissar was King of Babylon from 560 to 556 B.C.

He was the son-in-law of Nebuchadrezzar II, whose son and heir, Amel-Marduk, Nergal-sharezer murdered and succeeded.

A Babylonian chronicle describes his western war in 557/556.

He is traditionally listed as a king of the Chaldean Dynasty, however it is not known if he was a Chaldean or native of Babylon, as he was not related by blood to Nabopolassar and his successors.

His name is mentioned as one of high-ranking officers of king Nebuchadnezzar II in the Bible .

And the LORD said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.  

Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?” (2 Kgs 23:21-28).

Pharaoh-nechoch of Egypt went against the king of Assyria at the Euphrates River and King Josiah against him and he slew him at Megiddo. 

His servants carried him away dead, took him to Jerusalem, buried him in his own sepulcher, and the people anointed his 23 year old son, Jehoahaz, as king.  His mother was Hamutal,  he reigned for three months, and he did what was evil in the eyes of God.

“And Pharaoh-nechoh put him in bands at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of an hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold.

And Pharaoh-nechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim, and took Jehoahaz away: and he came to Egypt, and died there.

Labashi-Marduk, was king of Babylon (556 B.C.), and son of Neriglissar.

Labashi-Marduk succeeded his father when still only a boy, after the latter’s four-year reign.

Most likely due to his very young age, he was unfit to rule, and was murdered in a conspiracy only nine months after his inauguration.

He is traditionally listed as a king of the Chaldean Dynasty, being, probably, the son of Neriglissar by his wife, who was the daughter of Nebuchadrezzar.

Nabonidus was next chosen as the new king.

And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every one according to his taxation, to give it unto Pharaoh-nechoh.

Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.

And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done” (2 Kgs 23:33-37).

1 Molech/Moloch was a heathen god, especially of the Ammorites, who worshipped him with gruesome orgies in which children were sacrificed.  In some places an image of the god was heated and the bodies of children who had been slain were placed in his arms.  The worship was known to Israel before they entered Canaan and Moses forbade such worship (Lev 18:21; 20:1-5). 

King Solomon, to please his heathen wives, had set up high places for Chemosh and for Molech on Mount Oliver (1 Kgs 11:7). 

The words Malcham, Molech, and Moloch are all variants of Hebrew words that mean the reigning one.  Later Jews, after making sacrifices to Molech, would often go to worship in the house of the Lord and this impiety was particularly offensive to God (Jer 7:9-11).

The Cylinders of Nabonidus refers to cuneiform inscriptions of king Nabonidus of Babylonia (556-539 B.C.).

These inscriptions were made on clay cylinders.

They include the Nabonidus Cylinder from Sippar, and the Nabonidus Cylinders from Ur, four in number.

Nabonidus was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556-539 B.C.

2 Chemosh was the god of Moab, so named in after an ancient Israelite son (Num 21:29, alluded to in Jer 48:7, 13, 46).  Hephthah refers to Chemosh as the god of the Ammonites (Jdg 11:24), either by mistake or Ammon also worshipped Chemosh in addition to Molech.

The Kingdom of Josiah

The rapid decline of Assyrian power created an opening for an opportunist like Josiah to steer Judah along a new course of reform and independence.

Admittedly, the resurgence of Egyptian might in the Levant under the 6th Dynasty somewhat restricted Josiah’s ambitions; but it appears that the Egyptians primarily were concerned with supply lines and garrisons along the main trunk route (the International Coastal Highway) critical to Egyptian support of Assyrian forces in northern Syria.

This left Josiah considerable maneuvering room, especially in the last two decades of his 31 year reign.  Josiah came to the throne as an eight-year-old boy.

Unlike his father and grandfather, Josiah demonstrated a godly character, and his reign was most remembered for a thorough purge of pagan practices that had proliferated under Manasseh and Amon.

The precise chronology of the Josianic reform is unclear.  According to Chronicles, it may have begun as early as his 8th regal year (ca. 633/32 B.C.), but it is more likely that upon reaching manhood in his 12th year (628/27 B.C.) Josiah began the activity of reforming the cult.

If so, this would roughly correspond to the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 B.C., a momentous event in the Assyrian decline.

Book of Law Found

The Law: The First Five Books
The first five books of the Bible are sometimes called the Pentateuch which means “five books.”

They are also known as the books of the law because they contain the laws and instruction given by the Lord through Moses to the people of Israel.

These books were written by Moses, except for the last portion of Deuteronomy because it tells about the death of Moses.

These five books lay the foundation for the coming of Christ in that here God chooses and brings into being the nation of Israel.

As God’s chosen people, Israel became the custodians of the Old Testament, the recipients of the covenants of promise, and the channel of Messiah (Rom. 3:2, 9:1-5).

In 622 B.C. the recovery of “the book of the law” in the temple, generally regarded as some form of Deuteronomy, gave a great boost to Josiah’s efforts  (2 Kgs 22:8-20).  

The Bible describes a variety of pagan elements within both Jerusalem and Judah that Josiah dismantled or destroyed: high places of Baal, symbols of Asherah, horses and chariots dedicated to the sun, vessels used in the worship of the “host of heaven” (astral deities), and the places of human sacrifice in the Valley of Ben-hinnom (2 Kgs 23:4-20; 2 Chr 34:1-7).

He also removed idolatrous priests and attempted to centralize worship practices in Jerusalem.  These actions undoubtedly isolated key elements of Judean society, especially those who favored a policy of pacification with Assyria and, of course, any displaced or banished priests.  

Yet Josiah’s efforts had sufficient backing to last throughout his reign.  Moreover, these reforms clearly signaled a new nationalistic policy designed to reestablish Judean autonomy as much as possible in the rapidly changing international scene.

Baalbek is the name of an archaeological site in Lebanon.
In Roman times it was known as Heliopolis or City of the Sun.

An example of how ancient is the site can be found in that its holiest area (in pagan times) was the Temple of Baal-Jupiter — a hybrid between the ancient Canaanite god Baal (lord) and the Roman Jupiter.

Josiah’s Accomplishments

To what degree Josiah reached his nationalistic goal is not clear.  Certainly, the Egyptian king Psammeticus I was not unaware of Josiah’s ambitions.

However, historically the Egyptians preferred to maintain control of the coastal routes of Palestine and the major cities inland along the International Coastal Highway.  What Josiah did in the mountainous hinterlands was of less concern.

Certain biblical texts suggest that Josiah did quite a lot.  He received moneys from towns in Manasseh and Ephraim and carried out purges in those territories and as far north as Naphtali (2 Chr 34:6, 9).  This strongly suggests that Josiah was claiming the northern territories of old Israel.

The writer of Kings records that Josiah dismantled the high place at Bethel built by Jeroboam I and carried out additional cleansings in Samaria (2 Kgs 23:15-20).

In Judah the reform effort extended from “Geba to Beer-sheba” (2 Kgs 23:8). Taken together it is tempting to propose that Josiah had in mind nothing short of a restoration of the old Davidic kingdom.

Whether Josiah pursued this goal as at least a nominal vassal of Egypt or whether he acted completely independently cannot be determined.

Josiah’s Death

Although many house shrines have been found elsewhere, the one excavated at Tel Rehov features a unique element: a lion with its paws extended onto the heads of two human figures.

It is not clear how any of these house shrines functioned.

They may have held fertility figurines or other sacred objects.

It is also unclear who this particular house shrine – Israelites or Canaanites.

Although Tel Rehov was located in the northern kingdom of Israel, the artistic traditions reflected in Rehov’s cultic objects suggest influence of pre-Israelite culture and possibly of a different place altogether (Late Bronze Age Syria).

What is clear is that these shrines were used in local, personal and more-obscure forms of ritual activity than the centralized, public religious-political centers in Dan and Jerusalem.

What is clear is that in 609 B.C. Josiah met his death in battle with the Egyptian king Neco II (610-594 B.C.).  Neco was leading an Egyptian force northward to support a final Assyrian effort to recapture Haran.  

Josiah intercepted Neco near Megiddo, was mortally wounded, and eventually was buried in Jerusalem (2 Kgs 23:28-30; 2 Chr 35:20-27).  Josiah’s motives for attacking Neco are unclear; perhaps he sensed the ultimate victory of Babylon over Egypt, or maybe he feared further Egyptian interference in his kingdom.

The result was not only the loss of a great king, but also the end of the religious reforms and the reduction of any territories outside of Judah (except Bethel) over which Josiah had gained control.

The Neo-Babylonian Empire
and the Last Kings of Judah

The consolidation of the Chaldean Dynasty at Babylon was complete by 609 B.C.  The victories of Nabopolassar over Assyrian and Egyptian armies made Babylon the master of Mesopotamia and placed Babylonian armies in position to thrust southward into Syria and Palestine.  

Only Egypt, now ruled by Neco II, could put up an effective resistance to the Babylonian advance.  The prophet Habbakuk foresaw these events, declaring that God was “rousing the Chaldeans/ that bitter and hasty nation/who march through the breadth of the earth/to seize habitations not their own” (Hab. 1:6).

Judah’s Dilemma 

The power struggle between Babylonia and Egypt placed the kings of Judah in a most precarious situation. After the death of Josiah in 609 B.C., Neco removed Jehoahaz, a son of Josiah chosen by the people of Judah, and replaced him with another son whose throne name was Jehoiakim (2 Kgs. 23:30-35).

Whatever independence Judah enjoyed under Josiah clearly was gone; Judah was an Egyptian vassal, and Jehoiakim reigned at the pleasure of Neco.  This state of affairs did not last long however.

This is the largest man-made cave in Israel and is believed to be part of the ancient quarry from which stone was cut for both and first and second Temples.

This quarry ran underground and the Old City is built on top of it.

It is believed that Zedekiah fled Jerusalem through this cave when the Chaldeans over threw the city.

he was captured near Jericho.

The Battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C. established Babylon as the dominant power all the way to the border of Egypt (the Wadi el-Arish).  In 604 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar campaigned in Palestine and conquered Ashkelon.

Jehoiakim quickly gave allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar, who had recently been crowned king of Babylon after his father’s death shortly after the Battle of Carchemish. Perhaps during this campaign Nebuchadnezzar took hostages, including Daniel and his three companions Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, and carried them captive to Babylon (Dan. 1:1-7 – this is the story about the three being thrown into the furnace).

Judah now was caught between two unequal superpowers, Egypt and Babylon.  Babylon controlled the Levant; Egypt, however, resented the loss of prestige and the loss of Phoenician ports, important links in maritime trade.

In 605 B.C., just four years later, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated Egypt at the Battle of Carchemish, and took control of Judah.

Second Chronocles 36:7 tells us that, at that time, “Nebuchadnezzar also brought some of the articles of the house of the LORD to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon” (2 Kgs 24:13-14).

But he did much more than that which angered God and he paid a very high price for it (Dan 4:4-37).

Consequently, Egypt constantly promoted rebellion against Babylon among the states of the southern Levant by promising support.  Moreover, Jehoiakim, who owed his throne to Neco, was pro-Egyptian in his politics.  

He had considerable backing for his position within the leadership of Judah, despite Jeremiah’s repeated warnings that God was using Babylon to punish Judah’s sins, thus making resistance to Babylon futile.

Jehoiakim paid tribute to Babylon for three years (604- 601 B.C.), but then withheld his pledge late in 601 B.C. when Nebuchadnezzar suffered a temporary setback as Neco thwarted his attempt to invade Egypt.  Judah, with Egyptian support, now was in open rebellion against Babylon.

The First Campaign Against Jerusalem

Nebuchadnezzar delayed his response to Judah’s rebellion for a short time, preferring to harass Jehoiakim with auxiliary troops (2 Kgs 24:2).

Bands of Ammonites, Moabites, and Arameans attacked Judah.  Edomites took advantage of the deteriorating situation by attacking Judah from the south, pillaging as opportunity permitted (2 Kgs 24:1-2; Ps 137:7; Lam 4:21-22; Oba 10-14).

In 598 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar led the Babylonian army against Jehoiakim.  Jerusalem was besieged and finally surrendered on March 16, 597 B.C. Jehoiakim apparently died during the siege (see 2 Kgs 24:6, but compare 2 Chr 36:6) and was replaced by Jehoiachin, who surrendered the city.

The Babylonians plundered Jerusalem, including the temple treasures, and deported Jehoiachin and his family to Babylon along with other Jewish leaders (2 Kgs 24:13-16).  This first deportation in 597 B.C. included the prophet Ezekiel.

The End Of Judah And Jerusalem

After the surrender of Jerusalem in 597 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar appointed Mattaniah, the young uncle of Jehoiachin, as king of Judah and changed his name to Zedekiah.  Zedekiah’s reign of eleven years was marked by anti-Babylonian conspiracy despite strong condemnation of this policy by Jeremiah (Jer 27-29). 

“Lachish Letters” found in the ruins of the city of Lachish destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.

The letter contains a report of a junior military officer to his superior indicating his compliance with orders received by means of a fire signal.

The text reads: “Know that we are watching for the signals of Lachish according to all the indications that my lord has given, for we cannot see the signal of Azekah.”

Zedekiah ignored these warnings, perhaps inspired by recent Egyptian advances against Babylon by Psammeticus II (595-589 B.C.) and Hophra (Apries, 589-570 B.C.).  The latter campaigned in 588 B.C. against Tyre and Sidon.

In the same year Nebuchadnezzar attacked Judah in response to Zedekiah’s rebellion.  The cities of Judah suffered grievously, a fact attested by destruction levels at various sites.  The evidence from Lachish is particularly gripping.  Lachish again fell to foreign troops, as it had in 701 B.C.

Eighteen ostraca – the “Lachish Letters” – found in the destruction of level II contain grim testimony to the hopeless circumstance.  One letter mentions how officials watched for fire signals from Lachish because they no longer could see the beacons from nearby Azekah.

Likely, Azekah already had fallen to Babylonian forces.

Nebuchadnezzar’s army besieged Jerusalem for two years (588-586 B.C.).  Cut off from any possible hope and with food supplies depleted, Jerusalem fell in July of 586 B.C.  

The Babylonians destroyed the city, breaking down the fortifications and burning the temple, palaces, and houses (2 Kgs 25:8-21; Jer 39:1-10).  Burnt debris excavated in several places in Jerusalem gives evidence of the ferocity of the attack and aftermath.  

Zedekiah fled Jerusalem to the east but was captured near Jericho.  Taken before Nebuchadnezzar, who was at Riblah in central Syria.  Zedekiah was forced to witness the execution of his sons before being blinded and led away to Babylon in chains.  

An additional deportation of Jews further depleted the leadership of the kingdom (Jer 52:29; 2 Kgs 25:11). Judah and Jerusalem lay defenseless, open to attack, with few material resources and little hope for the immediate future.  The days of exile predicted by Jeremiah had become reality.

Reign of Josiah & Assyria Attacks Egypt, Babylon, and the Kingdom of Josiah

So you gave Hezekiah an extra 15 years to live.  Yeah, I remember now that only 1You decide when we die. 

Josiah or Yoshiyahu meaning “healed by Yah” or “supported of Yah”, was a king of Judah (641–609 B.C.), according to the Bible, who instituted major reforms.

Josiah is credited by most historians with having established or compiled important Scriptures during the Deuteronomic reform that occurred during his rule.

Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after the assassination of his father, King Amon, and reigned for thirty-one years, from 641/640 to 610/609 B.C.

He is also one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.

“Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath.

And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.

And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the Lord, saying,

Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people:

And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches of the house,

Unto carpenters, and builders, and masons, and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the houseJosiah or Yoshiyahu” (2 Kgs 22:1-6).

And as with other priests in a previous Jerry and God box The Reign of Jehoash, they kept the money.  Hilkiah, the high priest, found and gave the book of the law to Shaphan and he read it before the king.

“Josiah or YoshiyahuAnd it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.

Necho II was a king of the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt (c. 610 BC – c. 595 B.C.).

Necho undertook a number of construction projects across his kingdom.

In his reign, according to the Greek historian Herodotus (4.42), Necho II sent out an expedition of Phoenicians, which in three years sailed from the Red Sea around Africa to the mouth of the Nile.

His son, Psammetichus II, upon succession may have removed Necho’s name from monuments.

Necho played a significant role in the histories of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the Neo-Babylonian Empire and the Kingdom of Judah.

Necho II is most likely the pharaoh mentioned in several books of the Bible.

The second campaign’s aim of Necho’s campaigns was Asiatic conquest, to contain the Westward advance of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, and cut off its trade route across the Euphrates.

However, the Egyptians were defeated by the unexpected attack of the Babylonians and were eventually expelled from Syria.

The Egyptologist Donald B. Redford observed that although Necho II was “a man of action from the start, and endowed with an imagination perhaps beyond that of his contemporaries, Necho had the misfortune to foster the impression of being a failure.”

And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying,

Go ye, enquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.

So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.

And she said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,

Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read:

Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.

But to the king of Judah which sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard;

Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord.

King Manasseh
Manasseh was a king of the Kingdom of Judah.

He was the only son of Hezekiah with Hephzi-bah.

He became king at an age of 12 and reigned for 55 years.

Edwin Thiele has concluded that he commenced his reign as co-regent with his father Hezekiah in 697/696 B.C., with his sole reign beginning in 687/686 B.C. and continuing until his death in 643/642 B.C.

William F. Albright has dated his reign from 687 – 642 B.C.

Manasseh was the first king of Judah who would not have had a direct experience with the Kingdom of Israel, which had been destroyed by the Assyrians in c. 720 B.C. and much of its population deported.

He re-instituted pagan worship and reversed the religious reforms made by his father Hezekiah; for which he is condemned by several religious texts.

Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again” (2 Kgs 22:11-20).

1 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the Judgment” (Heb 9:27).

Assyria Attacks Egypt, Babylon,
and the Kingdom of Josiah 

The later years of Hezekiah’s reign passed unnoticed by the biblical writers.  Presumably, he caused no further trouble for Assyria.  His son Manasseh succeeded him in 687 B.C. and ruled 55 years.

Like his grandfather Ahaz, Manasseh returned to pagan ways, permitting idolatrous practices and abominations to flourish.  Altars to astral deities appeared in the court of the temple, while the high places dedicated to Baal were rebuilt.  

The practice of human sacrifice returned to Jerusalem (2 Kgs 21:1-17; 2 Chr 33:1-21). The writer of Chronicles noted that Manasseh repented in later years and includes a description of some building activities in Jerusalem, but Manasseh had little practical political recourse other than to play the loyal vassal of Assyria.

Against the background of Assyrian dominance, Manasseh’s course seemed logical.  Assyrian kings reached the height of their power shortly after 700 B.C.  Sennacherib dealt with perennial Babylonian rebellion by sacking the city in 689 B.C.

The image of Marduk was taken to Assyria, and Sennacherib took the ancient title of “King of Sumer and Akkad.”  His death in 681 B.C. at the hands of one of his own sons produced a momentary shudder in the Assyrian juggernaut, but another son – Esarhaddon – quickly gained control.

Assyrian Supremacy under Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal II

King Esarhaddon

Esarhaddon (681-669 B.C.) healed the breach with Babylon by rebuilding the city.  He gave the Medes military assistance in order to check Elamite advances and as a buffer against the invading Cimmerians (the Gomer of the Bible) and the Scythians (biblical Ashkenaz).

In the west, Esarhaddon quelled revolts in Tyre and Sidon and received tribute from various Syro-Palestinian kings, including Manasseh, who is mentioned in a tribute list.  The Egyptian king Tirhakah (690-664 B.C.) stirred up problems to the south, eventually requiring an Assyrian response.

In 671 B.C. Esarhaddon attacked Tirhakah, took Memphis, and received tribute from the native princes of the Egyptian Delta.  Tirhakah escaped, only to return later to retake Memphis, provoking a second Assyrian campaign.  Esarhaddon died, however, before he reached his objective.

 

 

Ashurbanipal II

In 669 B.C. Ashurbanipal II (669-627 B.C.) succeeded Esarhaddon as king of Assyria, and his brother Shamash-shum-ukin became king of Babylon.  This division of power was according to the will of Esarhaddon, who sought to ensure an orderly succession.

 

 

 

 

 

Victory Over Egypt

Tirhakah

Ashurbanipal completed the conquest of Egypt by marching against Tirhakah in 667 B.C. and defeating him; Memphis again was captured, but Tirhakah escaped.

His successor Tanuatamun retook the Delta, but Ashurbanipal dealt him a crushing blow and pursued his army as far south as Thebes (biblical No-amon), sacking the city in 663 B.C. (Nah. 3:8-10 mentions the sack of Thebes).  Assyrian power had now reached its zenith despite the fact that Ashurbanipal was not particularly adept either as a soldier or statesman.

 

Threats To The Assyrian Empire

Babylon and the cities and tribes of Southern Mesopotamia

South of the Assyrian heartland lies Babylonia.

As the birthplace of Mesopotamia’s common cuneiform culture, the region could boast cultural traditions stretching back for millennia.

But by the 8th century B.C., its political unity as a kingdom under the rule of the king of Babylon had been lost and the ancient cities and tribal federations of Babylonia acted as independent units whose conflicts made the region subject to repeated political upheaval. Neighboring states became increasingly involved in the politics of Babylonia, and foremost among them was Assyria.

In 729 B.C., Tiglath-pileser III (744-727 B.C.) assumed the office of the king of Babylon in an attempt to defend and further Assyrian interests in Babylonia.

The Assyrian Empire was already on the verge of serious trouble during the reign of Ashurbanipal. Restless tribes threatened Assyrian interests in many directions.  Cimmerians and Scythians bore down in areas north and west of the Assyrian heartland, while Medes and Persians entrenched themselves in various parts of the Iranian plateau.

Ashurbanipal fought a lengthy, bloody war against Elam from 655 to 642 B.C., during which the Elamite capital, Susa, was destroyed.

Babylon became a serious problem for Assyria. Ashurbanipal’s brother, Shamash-shum-ukin, revolted with Elamite and Chaldean support in 652 B.C.  A long and cruel Assyrian siege of Babylon ended in 648 B.C. with the suicide of Shamash-shum-ukin as the Babylonian defense failed.

Egypt proved troublesome for Assyria also. Though generally on cooperative terms with Assyria, kings of the 26th Dynasty of Sais expelled Assyrian garrisons with the help of Lydian mercenaries.  During these tumultuous years, Ashurbanipal proved to be ineffective as serious cracks appeared in the Assyrian Empire.

Assyria’s Fall

The death of Ashurbanipal in 627 B.C. marked the beginning of the end for Assyria.  Already weakened by decades of external conflict and increasing social unrest, Assyria suffered a four-year civil war between two sons of Ashurbanipal: Ashur-etil-ilani and Sin-shar-iskin.  

Neither provided adequate leadership, although the latter secured the throne in 623 B.C. and ruled until 612 B.C.  The domestic turmoil invited disaster since powerful enemies of Assyria waited in the wings.

The Rival Powers and Assyria’s Final Days

In 626 B.C. Nabopolassar, the last in a long line of Chaldean troublemakers for Assyria, seized the throne of Babylon.  From northwest Iran, the Medes began to attack Assyrian territories, first led by Phraortes I (664-610 B.C.) and then more vigorous under Cyaxares (623-584 B.C.).

Psammeticus I (664-610 B.C.) of Egypt came to the aid of Assyria, apparently more fearful of a strong Medo-Chaldean alliance controlling Mesopotamia and threatening the Levant than of the status quo with Assyria.  

Psammeticus also was undoubtedly reasserting traditional Egyptian claims on Syria and Palestine, seeking to control the vital trade routes of that region.

The end for Assyria came rapidly during the final two decades of the 7th century.  Nabopolassar attacked Assyria from the south, while Cyaxares slashed at the Assyrian heartland from the east.  

Psammetichus III 526 to 525 B.C.
Psamtik III (also spelled Psammetichus or Psammeticus) was the last Pharaoh of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt from 526 B.C. to 525 B.C.

Most of what is known about his reign and life was documented by the Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century B.C.

Herodotus states that Psamtik had ruled Egypt for only six months before he was confronted by a Persian invasion of his country led by King Cambyses II of Persia.

Psammetichus was subsequently defeated at Pelusium, and fled to Memphis where he was captured.

The deposed pharaoh was carried off to Susa in chains, and later executed.

Babylonian king Nabopolassar ruled over the rising empire from about 626 to 605 B.C.

The Babylonian Chronicle for the years 615-609 B.C. tells of the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C.

The wounded Assyrian Empire would collapse seven years later at the battle of Carchemish.

In 614 B.C. Ashur, the ancient Assyrian capital and namesake of the great god of Assyria, fell to Median forces commanded by Cyaxares.  Shortly thereafter, Cyaxares and Nabopolassar joined against Assyria in a formal alliance sealed by marriage.  Nineveh fell in 612 B.C. to the coalition.  Sin-shar-iskin perished, and the capital of Assyria was destroyed.

The prophet Nahum exulted in the destruction wreaked upon once-powerful Nineveh (Nah 1:15-3:19). The remnants of the Assyrian army, led by a surviving member of the Assyrian royalty, Ashur-uballit II, fled to Haran in northwest Mesopotamia.

Bolstered by Egyptian support, Ashur-uballit fought a rear guard action against Nabopolassar, but Haran fell in 610 B.C.  A year later the Assyrians, now vigorously supported by the new Egyptian pharaoh Neco II (610-594 B.C.), attempted to gain back Haran, but the attempt was unsuccessful. For all practical purposes, Assyria ceased to exist.  

The only question remaining was whether Neco II could retain any control of Syria-Palestine in the face of the Chaldean (Babylonian) advance.

The Palace of Darius at Susa, capital of the Persian Empire

Egyptian Ambitions

Egypt retained control of the International Coastal Highway and had substantial garrisons at Riblah in central Syria and Carchemish on the west bank of the Euphrates River.  In addition, the Egyptians controlled the cities of the Philistine Plain (Jer. 47:1) and other key sites on the International Coastal Highway, likely including Megiddo, near where Josiah died fighting Neco in 609 B.C. (2 Kgs 23:28-30).

The final showdown between Egypt and Babylonia occurred in 605 B.C. at Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabopolassar, led the Chaldean troops that day in a great struggle, graphically recalled by an oracle in Jeremiah (Jer 46).  Of Egypt, the prophet says: 

The swift cannot flee away,

nor the warrior escape;

in the north by the river Euphrates

they have stumbled and fallen. . .

That day is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts,

a day of vengeance,

to avenge himself on his foes.

The sword shall devour and be sated,

and drink its fill of their blood.

For the Lord GOD of hosts holds a sacrifice

in the north country by the river Euphrates.

(Jer 46:6, 10).

Though fiercely contested, the battle of Carchemish was won by Nebuchadnezzar.  In that same year, 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar took the throne of Babylon upon the death of his father – an event that, as much as any other, marked the beginning of a new empire: the Neo-Babylonian Empire.  In the process, the fate of Palestine had been sealed.

Hezekiah Wishes Not to Die & Assyrian Warfare

I was a bit confused because Hezekiah walked with You, but You let the Assyrians win the war.  But then You came an squashed him. 

I guess You were testing Hezekiah, like you did with Abraham and Isaac. 

King Hezekiah
Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and the 13th king of Judah.

Archaeologist Edwin Thiele has concluded that his reign was between c. 715 and 686 B.C.

He is also one of the most prominent kings of Judah entioned in the Bible and is one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.

Hezekiah witnessed the destruction of the northern Kingdom of Israel by Sargon’s Assyrians in c. 720 B.C. and was king of Judah during the invasion and siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib in 701 B.C.

Hezekiah enacted sweeping religious reforms, during which he removed the worship of foreign deities from the Temple in Jerusalem, and restored the worship of Yahweh, God of Israel, in accordance with the Torah.

Isaiah and Micah prophesied during his reign.

“In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,

I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.

And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,

Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. 

And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.

And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.

And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the LORD the third day?

And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?

And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.

And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the LORD: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz” (2 Kgs 20:1-11).

At this time King Berodach-baladan of Babylon sent letters and a present to Hezekiah because he heard that he was sick.  And Hezekiah showed them all the precious things he had: the silver, gold, spices, precious ointment, and armor, and everything else.  And Isaiah came to him and asked,

Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. He did evil in the Eyes of The LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations The LORD Had Driven Out before the Israelites.

He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them.

“…What said these men?  And from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon.

And he said, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.

And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD.

Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD. 

And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?

And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead” (2 Kgs 20:14-21).

“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzi-bah” (2 Kgs 21:1).

And he did evil in the eyes of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen.  He built high places that Hezekiah had torn down, and reared up altars for Baal, made a grove, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them.

“And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord said, In Jerusalem will I put my name.

And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.

And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.

And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which theLord said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:

Hezekiah’s Pool
This is the view of what is called “Hezekiah’s Pool” but is thought to be a reservoir from the time of Herod that received water from aqueducts that are still visible outside the Jaffa Gate.

It also may have been a quarry outside the city where stones were cut for an Old Testament wall to the east of here.

Some consider this to be the pool mentioned in Is 36:2 and 2 Kgs 18:17 where Sennacherib’s field commander met Hezekiah’s men “at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field”.

It is located in the Christian Quarter and in this photo is viewed from the Petra Hotel which is just inside the Jaffa Gate across from the Citadel.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is not in the top left corner of the photo.

At one time the courtyard around the reservoir was encircled with inns and rest stops for travels and royal couriers.

Today these buildings are workshops and up until recently the pool was used as a trash dump.

The site has never been excavated but there are plans to do so in the future.

Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them” (2 Kgs 21:4-8).

But the people ignored God and Manasseh seduced to be more evil than the nations that God had destroyed.

“And the Lord spake by his servants the prophets, saying,

Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols:

Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.

And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.

And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies;

Because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.

Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.

Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and all that he did, and his sin that he sinned, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

And Manasseh slept with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.

Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah.

And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Manasseh did.

And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshiped them:

And he forsook the Lord God of his fathers, and walked not in the way of the Lord.

And the servants of Amon conspired against him, and slew the king in his own house.

And the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead.

Now the rest of the acts of Amon which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

And he was buried in his sepulchre in the garden of Uzza: and Josiah his son reigned in his stead” (2 Kgs 21:10-26).

Shalmaneser, Emperor of Assyria.

Assyrian Warfare 

The Assyrian army marched with a reputation for unbridled cruelty and professional efficiency.  Nahum’s graphic descriptions of Assyrian chariotry capture the chaotic terror the Assyrian military could inflict (Nah 3:1-3). 

Indeed, the Neo-Assyrian Empire gathered together a finely tuned military machine and employed it judiciously to maintain and expand Assyrian economic and political objectives. 

Far from being sadistic brutes, the Assyrians used cruelty selectively against chronically rebellious peoples to prevent further sedition.

In effect, Assyrian battle tactics served propaganda purposes by clearly demonstrating the consequences of rebellion. The numerous reliefs in Assyrian palaces depicting torture and mutilations of captured leaders were grim reminders to visiting provincial officials of the penalties for rebellion.

Sling-Men
Although the bow and javelin are more famous ancient weapons, the sling was just as important to the skirmishers of old.

More than 3,000 years ago, an army of Israelites led by King Saul confronted a force of Philistine invaders in the valley of Elah. As the Philistines occupied a mountain on one side of the valley, and the Israelites occupied another on the opposite side, an enormous champion clad from head to foot in bronze, wielding a gigantic spear, emerged from among the front ranks and addressed the Israelites.

The warrior declared himself as Goliath of Gath and challenged any soldier among them to face him in single combat. None of the Israelites was brave enough to fight the mighty Philistine warrior, except for one. The challenger was not a soldier, but instead a young shepherd named David.

Assyrian kings commanded armies that could number in the hundreds of thousands.  The nature of the terrain and the military objectives determined the size of the force.  A standing army provided protection for the king, permanent garrison personnel, and immediately available troops. 

These men were professionals, conscripted from both native Assyrian and provincial territories. Provinces were required to provide a certain levy of troops for the army.  Other troops could be conscripted quickly in time of national need. 

Major Assyrian cities – Nineveh, Calah, and Khorsabad – had large royal arsenals where troops could be marshaled, equipped, reviewed, and dispatched.  These arsenals consisted of storage facilities, workshops, and official accommodations surrounding large courtyards. “Fort Shalmaneser” at Calah is a good example of these military bases.

The Assyrian army consisted of many different kinds of troops.  The infantry contained sling-men, spearmen, and archers.  They were used both in pitched battles in open terrain as well as in siege warfare.

The archers, with their strong and accurate composite bows, were the backbone of the infantry.  From the 8th century onward the Assyrians used sling-men, whose deadly projectiles proved especially useful in providing cover fire when besieging fortified cities.  The cavalry consisted of mounted archers and spearmen, valuable in open terrain but seldom used in siege warfare.

The Assyrian chariot corps was among the most feared elements in the army.  Reliefs depict chariots pulled by two or four horses manned by two, three, and even four crewmen.  The two-man crew consisted of a driver and an archer.  

Ivory plaque depicting a winged sphinx, Phoenician, found at Fort Shalameser, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq, 9th-8th century B.C.

]Fort Shalmaneser consisted of a palace, storerooms and arsenal for the Assyrian army.

Later, one and then two shield bearers were added.  The driver also wielded a spear in battle, and all crewmen possessed swords.  In addition to these battle troops, the army carried transport wagons and supply personnel; engineers who cut roads, built bridges, constructed ramps, and built siege machines; intelligence operatives (spies and interpreters); scribes who recorded the campaign and provided lists of the booty taken; and cultic personnel who offered sacrifices and divined omens.  

Normally, the army campaigned in the summer months, avoiding the agricultural season and the bad winter weather.  In friendly territory, local vassals supplied provisions, but in hostile regions the army lived off the land.

The Assyrian army engaged in guerilla warfare (especially in the northern mountain regions), pitched battles in open terrain, and siege warfare. The Battle of Qarqar in 853 B.C. between a coalition involving Ahab of Israel and Shalmaneser III is typical of pitched battles.

Armies took a horrific mauling, and much loss of life could be expected, even in victory.  The people of Israel and Judah were, unfortunately, more familiar with siege warfare.  The Assyrians often surrounded a city with the intent of taking the city by assault or starving the city into submission. 

An Assyrian relief from the palace of Tiglath-pileser III at Nineveh showing an Assyrian battering ram at work.

The keys to resisting a siege successfully were threefold:

(1) strong fortifications,
(2) a secure water supply, and

(3) adequate food supplies.  

The archaeology of many cities of  Israel and Judah during the Assyrian period shows a preoccupation with these Assyrian reliefs contain many scenes displaying their siege strategies.  The “Lachish Frieze” is especially pertinent, since it depicts Sennacherib’s siege of Lachish in his campaign aimed at Jerusalem in 701 B.C.

A grain storage silo at Megiddo.

Typically, the Assyrians encamped near their target and established a perimeter around the city, ensuring no escape for the defenders.  Assyrian siege machinery, including battering rams with mobile siege towers, were maneuvered into position along ramparts of earth and stones constructed by engineers.  The battering rams were used to attack gates and weak points in walls (Ez 4:2; 21:22).

Crews inside operated the ram, while from above archers gave protecting fire.  Rams even carried firemen whose mission was to thwart any attempt by defenders to set the siege machines on fire. Assault troops used scaling ladders to reach the upper walls of a city, while sappers tunneled beneath the fortifications or attempted to breach walls at weak points.

Detail of the siege of Lachish recorded on the walls of the palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh.

Assyrian battering rams attack the desperate defenders of the Judean city who attempt to counteract the assault by hurling flaming torches toward the battering rams.

At the left captives stream out of the doomed city.

Archers and sling-men provided covering fire to the assault forces from the periphery.  This coordinated attack involving different elements placed maximum pressure upon the defenders, whose hopes rested on hurling projectiles at the attackers while attempting to set the siege machine on fire.

If resistance proved too costly to the attackers or if the siege could be prolonged until help came or the enemy simply gave up, the city might be spared.  Often cities suffered severe famine during a siege; inhabitants occasionally resorted to cannibalism to relieve their desperate plight (2 Kgs 6:24-30).

The Assyrians employed a type of psychological warfare to break the resistance of a city.  During Sennacherib’s campaign against Judah, he sent military officials (the Rabshakeh, Tartan, and Rabsaris) to Jerusalem along with a military contingent to threaten Hezekiah (2 Kgs 18-19).

The Rabshakeh addressed the Inhabitants of Jerusalem in the Hebrew language as he warned them of the futility of resistance.  He seems to have been well informed of Hezekiah’s reform efforts and used his information to suggest that Hezekiah had offended the God of Israel (2 Kgs 18-22).

The Rabshakeh also taunted Hezekiah for trusting in Egyptian help and his own military preparations.  The Assyrian intelligence system provided reliable information, a fact demonstrated often in other Assyrian documents. 

When the city surrendered or was taken by assault, various fates awaited the survivors.  Many were killed, especially the leaders.  Their mutilated bodies were often displayed on Assyrian reliefs.  This was especially true of chronically rebellious territories.

This is the Sennacherib Prism, almost identical to the Taylor Prism.

What is written on it is too long to post, to read it go here.

The cuneiform inscriptioin reads: Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, sat upon a (nimedu) – throne and passed in review the body (taken) from Lachish (La-ki-su). (ANET 288).

More often, the Assyrians gathered groups of survivors and deported them to other parts of the Assyrian Empire.  The Assyrians chose areas similar to the deportee’s homeland when possible.  These people were important sources of labor and could be used to make agriculturally unproductive lands valuable again.

Families were not broken up, and some effort was expended to make the transition successful.  The experience must have been traumatic, although interestingly, the Israelite deportees must have quickly assimilated to their new surroundings and did not retain their identity as those of their later kindred in the Babylonian captivity.

King Sennacherib (pronounced Sin-ahhe-criba) is one of the greatest Assyrian rulers, whose reign from 704 BC to 681 BC ended rather abruptly. 

King Sennacherib was the son of Sargon II.  Upon his father’s death, Sennacherib got right down to business without so much as a learning curve, thanks to his experience dealing with issues at home while his father was away on campaigns.

Much of Sennacherib’s rule consisted of him protecting what his father had acquired of land and power, but in the midst of all that maintenance, Sennacherib did manage a few substantial accomplishments of his own and established himself and his empire as a force to be reckoned with.  His greatest achievement is an achievement within an achievement.

A relief showing King Sennacherib on a throne in camp during a conquest.

Upon his father’s death, Sennacherib moved the Assyrian capital from Dur-Sharrukin (modern-day Khorsabad) to the city of Nineveh.  The rulers of Nineveh were horrible, when they conquered certain people they would skin them and cover the walls of the kingdom with their skins.  You will hear more of this in the Book of Jonah (the guy that spent three days in the belly of a whale).

Before its epic revamp, Nineveh had been the empire’s religious hub, waning in importance, despite its perfect location on the trade route between the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. Enter the visionary ruler, and it became the capital of a most powerful empire, a pulsating metropolis twice the size of Sargon’s capital, and suddenly the envy of the ancient world.  Nineveh is believed to have been the first planned city.

Herodotus relates the following Egyptian story that some historians refer to as a more believable account of Sennacherib’s army being devastated.

King Sethos I, sometimes called Seti
The Temple (also known as The Great Temple of Abydos) is recognized as among the most significant structures in the area, as was primarily built as a memorial to King Seti I (father of Ramses II), and a place of reverence for the lineage of the past Pharoahs.

The temple is well known for the “Abydos King List”, a list of rulers of the principle dynasties, carved onto a wall. The site includes seven chapels dedicated to the worship of the pharaoh and the six gods Ptah, Re-Horakhty, Amun-Re, Osiris, Isis and Horus.

These chapels provide an invaluable resource for the study of Ancient Egyptian religion as they contain the first complete form of the Daily Ritual, which was performed throughout Egypt during the the pharaonic period. The reliefs on the temple walls are acclaimed for their detail, technique and high artistic accomplishment.

The next king, I was told, was a priest of Vulcan, called Sethos.  This monarch despised and neglected the warrior class of the Egyptians, as though he did not need their services.  Among other  indignities which he offered them, he took from them the lands which they had possessed under all the previous kings, consisting of twelve acres of choice land for each warrior.  

Seti I was the second ruler of the 19th Dynasty and ruled over Egypt from about 1290 to 1279 BC. He comes from the marriage of his father Ramses I with the daughter of a military official. His mother was called SA.t-Ra (Sat-Re) and was elevated to the rank of Hm.t-nTr (God’s Wife) by her husband, King Ramses I, although she was not a princess by birth.

vSetho’s wife, whom he had married before his accession to the throne, was Thuja / Thije / Tuja / Mut – Tuja. She was the daughter of a general of the cavalry named Raias. She gave her husband at least three children (according to Schneider Lexicon of the Pharaohs) of which the second was the later King Ramses II.

Afterwards, therefore, when Sanacharib, king of the Arabians and Assyrians, marched his vast army into Egypt, the warriors one and all refused to come to his aid.  On this the monarch, greatly distressed, entered into the inner sanctuary, and, before the image of the god, bewailed the fate which impended over him.

As he wept he fell asleep, and dreamed that the god came and stood at his side, bidding him be of good cheer, and go boldly forth to meet the Arabian host, which would do him no hurt, as he himself would send those who should help him. 

Sethos, then, relying on the dream, collected such of the Egyptians as were willing to follow him, who were none of them warriors, but traders, artisans, and market people; and with these marched to Pelusium, which commands the entrance into Egypt, and there pitched his camp.

As the two armies lay here opposite one another, there came in the night, a multitude of field-mice, which devoured all the quivers and bowstrings of the enemy, and ate the thongs by which they managed their shields.  

Next morning they commenced their fight, and great multitudes fell, as they had no arms with which to defend themselves.  There stands to this day in the temple of Vulcan, a stone statue of Sethos, with a mouse in his hand and an inscription to this effect – “Look on me, and learn to reverence the gods.” (couldn’t find that statute).

Reign of Hosen Over Israel & Jerusalem from Hezekiah to the Destruction in 586 B.C. and

I don’t know what’s wrong with these people, it’s not like they haven’t seen Your power and love, let alone know about the Holy Ghost. 

Just like today, idiots are still walking around – I used to be one of them – but we have something those people didn’t have, we have 1 Jesus Christ and the 2 Holy Ghost with us always.

Hezekiah, at the age of 25, began to reign and he reigned 29 years in Jerusalem.  His mother’s name was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.  He did what was right in the eyes of God. 

This creation is a combination of the crucifixion and the Nehushtan of Moses (the bronze serpent), taken at the top of Mt. Nebo, from whence Moses viewed the Promised Land before passing away.

He removed the high places, broke the images, cut down the groves, broke up the brazen serpent that Moses had made because the people used it as a incense burner, and called it Nehushtan.

“He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.

For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses.

And the Lord was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.

He smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city” (2 Kgs 18:5-8).

King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked Samaria and at the end of three years Samaria lost so the king captured the people of Israel and placed them in Halah, in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.  The people didn’t obey God so when they cried out to Him 3 He didn’t hear.

“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.

And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.

And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house.

Sennacherib was king of Assyria when Hezekiah the Judean revolt against Assyria.

In response, Sennacherib led his armies to Judah.

He first destroyed all of the fortified cities west of Jerusalem before attempting to siege Jerusalem.

The most famous battle was the siege of Lachish.

At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.

And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field.

And when they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder.

And Rabshakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?

Thou sayest, (but they are but vain words,) I have counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me?

Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.

But if ye say unto me, We trust in the Lord our God: is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?

Now therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my lord the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.

How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?

Am I now come up without the Lord against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.

Lachish was an ancient Near East town located at the site of modern Tell ed-Duweir in the Shephelah, a region between Mount Hebron and the maritime plain of Philista (Josh 10:3, 5, 12:11).

The town was first mentioned in the Amarna letters as Lakisha-Lakisa.

According to the Bible, the Israelites captured and destroyed Lachish for joining the league against the Gibeonites (Josh 10:31-33), but its territory was later assigned to the tribe of Judah and became a part of the Kingdom of Israel.

Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and talk not with us in the Jews’ language in the ears of the people that are on the wall.

But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?

Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and spake, saying, Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria:

Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand:

Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.

Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and then eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern:

Isaiah is a major prophet who is considered the greatest prophet of all time.

At the time he entered Israel’s history, the second half of the 8th century B.C., the Kingdom of Judah had been recently attacked by the Assyrian.

Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil olive and of honey, that ye may live, and not die: and hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuadeth you, saying, The Lord will deliver us.

Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?

Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? have they delivered Samaria out of mine hand?

Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?

But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not.

Then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh” (2 Kgs 18:13-37).

“And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD” (2 Kgs 19:1).

He sent the household Eliakim, the scribe Shebna, and the elders in sackcloth to the Prophet Isaiah.

“And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.

It may be the Lord thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left” (2 Kgs 19:3-4).

Archaelogists have found the oldest known human ancestors in Ethiopia.

Originally called Abyssinia, Ethopia is sub-Saharan Africa’s oldest state, and its Solomonic dynasty claims descent from King Menelik I, traditionally believed to have been the son of the queen of Sheba and King Solomon.

After the servants found Isaiah he said to them,

“Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.

Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.

So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.

And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying,

Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.

Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered?

Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed; as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Thelasar?

Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivah? (2 Kgs 19:6-13).

When Hezekiah received the letter from the messenger he took it into the house of the Lord and prayed,

Nineveh as seen from the Tigris river today.

Today no longer found only ruins of the city, built of massive stone dating from 700 B.C.

The city was heavily exploited in recent times by archaeologists.

City walls were supplied 15 crossing gates monumental that works as the control points at the exit and entrance of the city.

Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.

Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God.

Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands,

And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.

Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.

Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.

This is the word that the Lord hath spoken concerning him; The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.

Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.

By thy messengers thou hast reproached the Lord, and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedar trees thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel.

I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places.

Ancient Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, was the home of a people with a terrible reputation for viciousness and cruelty, especially to conquered rulers who rebelled against their power and authority.

However, they were in reality no more or less cruel than other peoples throughout history.

Jonah (the one in the story with the whale) hate the people of Nineveh, he hated them so much he argued with God, praying that He destory them.

You will read about this in the book of Janah.

Hast thou not heard long ago how I have done it, and of ancient times that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps.

Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the house tops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.

But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me.

Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.

And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such things as grow of themselves, and in the second year that which springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof.

And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.

For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.

Nisroch is the Assyrian god of agriculture, in whose temple king Sennacherib was worshiping when he was assassinated by his own sons in revenge for the destruction of Babylon.

Josephus calls him Dagon.

His identification as a god in Mesopotamia is unclear.

Some suggest he could be the same as Nusku or Dagon.

Hebrew Legend

In the Midrash, “Nisroch” is actually said to be derived from the Hebrew word “neser.”

Neser was the name given to a plank of wood discovered by Sennacherib on his return to Assyria from his campaign in Judah.

The sages write that this plank was originally part of Noah’s Ark, and that Sennacherib worshiped it as an idol.

It would therefore be concluded that it was this idol that Sennacherib was worshiping when he was murdered by his two sons.

Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.

By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord.

For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.

And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.

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” (2 Kgs 19:15-37).

1 “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21).

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith (Rom 1:16-17).

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, buy by me (Jn 14:1 & 6).

2  These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (Jn 14:25-26).

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.  Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom 8:9).

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Gen 1:2).

3 “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear (Is 59:1-2).

Jerusalem from Hezekiah
to the Destruction in 586 B.C.

The Western Wall Tunnel is an underground tunnel exposing the full length of the Western Wall.

The tunnel is adjacent to the Western Wall and is located under buildings of the Old City of Jerusalem.

While the open-air portion of the Western Wall is approximately 60 meters (200 ft) long, the majority of its original length is hidden underground.

The tunnel allows access to an additional 485 meters (1,591 ft) of the wall.

Recent archaeological excavations have confirmed a western expansion of Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah (715-687 B.C.).

Archaeologists speculate that a population influx, in part of Israelite refugees fleeing the Assyrian invasion, made the expansion necessary. Clear evidence indicates the southwestern hill was now incorporated into Jerusalem’s defenses.

A segment of a “broad wall” 65 meters long and 7 meters wide, south of the Transversal Valley, had been unearthed by Naham Avigad.  Avigad attributed the wall to Hezekiah, who “counted the houses of Jerusalem, and…broke down the houses to fortify the wall” (Is 22:10). 

Indeed, Hezekiah’s wall was built on top of the foundations of houses visible under the outer edge of Avigad’s wall.

This massive wall, made to withstand Assyrian siege tactics, enclosed the western hill; its line apparently turned south above the Hinnom Valley and continued southward, joining the City of David’s fortifications near the juncture of the Hinnom and Kidron Valleys.

The Siloam Pool has long been considered a sacred Christian site, even if the correct identification of the site itself was uncertain. According to the Gospel of John, it was at the Siloam Pool where Jesus healed the blind man (John 9:1–11).

Traditionally, the Christian site of the Siloam Pool was the pool and church that were built by the Byzantine empress Eudocia (c. 400–460 A.D.) to commemorate the miracle recounted in the New Testament. However, the exact location of the original pool as it existed during the time of Jesus remained a mystery until June 2004.

The “broad wall” enclosed an additional 90 acres of land, making the total fortified area of Jerusalem approximately 150 acres. The area taken in included the mishneh – “Second Quarter,” where the prophet Huldah lived (2 Kgs 22:14) – and the maktesh (the Mortar), probably a reference to the depression between the western and eastern slope (Zech 1:11).  Population estimates for the city at this time range from 15,000 to 25,000.

Hezekiah’s Water Tunnel
A 1750-foot (530m) tunnel carved during the reign of Hezekiah to bring water from one side of the city to the other, Hezekiah’s Tunnel together with the 6th c. tunnel of Euphalios in Greece are considered the greatest works of water engineering technology in the pre-Classical period.

Had it followed a straight line, the length would have been 1070 ft (335m) or 40% shorter.

The Water Systems

By about 700 B.C. Jerusalem benefited from three water systems.  In addition to Warren’s Shaft, which gave vertical access to the Gihon Spring, two other systems channeled the water of the spring to various parts of the city.

The Siloam Channel extends four hundred meters from the Gihon Spring southward to a pool at the southern end of the eastern ridge.  The channel lies outside the protective walls of the city.  

It was composed of both a narrow tunnel and a covered channel capped by stone.  The channel not only brought water to a reservoir, but was used as an irrigation system as well.  Apertures in the east side of the channel could be opened to water fields located in the Kidron Valley.

Hezekiah’s most impressive engineering feat was a tunnel excavated through the eastern ridge and was used to bring the waters of the Gihon Spring inside Jerusalem.  

Two teams of workmen starting from opposite sides carved a 533-meter-long tunnel through the southeastern hill.  The tunnel emerges in the southern Tyropoeon Valley and empties into the Pool of Siloam.  

An overflow channel continues southward from the pool.  This system gave Jerusalem a protected water supply in times of siege, an expedient measure taken by Hezekiah as he steered Judah along a course of independence against Assyrian control (Is 22:10-11; 2 Kgs 20:20; 2 Chr 32:34).

Jerusalem in the Last Years of the Monarchy

Remarkable finds illuminating Jerusalem between about 700 to 587 B.C. come from the east slope of the southeastern ridge. A series of terraces descending along the slope supported numerous public and domestic structures clinging to the slope. 

House of Ahiel
The stairs to access the roof of the House of Ahiel can be seen on the left in this photo.

(Photo from 2007, with the back right pillar leaning in the corner.)

Some are large stone buildings (ashlar masonry) that probably served some public function.  Other structures were more modest private dwellings patterned after a typical four-room plan known from other sites.

The “House of Ahiel,” so-called because of a name found in the ruins, is more typical of these dwellings. Narrow alleyways and steps interconnected the various units along the slope.

One partially excavated building yielded 51 clay sealings called bullae used as seals on documents.  The bullae mention names including two that may have biblical connections.

One bulla mentions Gemariah ben Shaphan, possibly the royal official mentioned several times in Jeremiah (36:9-12, 25-26).  Azariah ben Hilkiah is mentioned on another bulla, likely a priest named in priestly genealogical lists (1 Chr 9:10-11; cf. Ezra 7:1).

Additional finds from the houses of the eastern slope include weights, zoomorphic figurines, fragments of carved wood, and fertility figurines. The latter testify to the pagan worship practices tolerated and promoted by Manasseh and other Judean kings.

Prophetic warnings failed to root out these practices that brought God’s judgment upon the city when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, sacked Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

Archaeologists have found abundant evidence in many excavated areas of the city of the final assault inflicted upon Jerusalem and the conflagration that consumed parts of the city. After 586 b.c. Jerusalem languished in ruins until exiles began the long process of rebuilding in the post-exilic period.

The Siege of Jerusalem

While besieging Libnah and Lachish, Sennacherib sent a high military officer – the Rabshakeh – to Jerusalem to demand the surrender of the city. The Assyrian forces surrounded the city and built an earthen embarkment around it to prevent any escape.

Sennacherib boasted that he made Hezekiah a prisoner in Jerusalem “like a bird in a cage.”  At some point, an Egyptian force led by Tirhakah intervened in response to Hezekiah’s desperate appeals, but Sennacherib defeated the expedition near Eltekeh.

The Taylor Prism in the British Museum tells how Sennacherib “shut up Hezekiah like a bird in a cage” (2 Kgs 18:17).

Each record mentions that Hezekiah paid Sennacherib 30 talents of gold.

The Rabshakeh taunted the Jerusalem citizenry for relying on Egypt, “that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it” (2 Kgs 18:21).  The situation appeared hopeless, and Hezekiah, cut off from all help, despaired for the city. 

Isaiah encouraged the king and gave assurance to Hezekiah that Jerusalem would not fall. Subsequently, in a miraculous intervention, the besieging Assyrian army lost 185,000 men, and the siege was lifted (2 Kgs 19:35-36). 

Actually, it wasn’t miraculous since it was the work of God.

An interesting incident reported by the Greek historian Herodotus recalls that the Assyrian army met defeat near Pelusium when a plague of mice stripped the weapons of the Assyrian troops.

What, if any, relationship exists between the two accounts of an Assyrian defeat in the southern Levant cannot be determined for certain.  Nonetheless, Jerusalem was spared destruction although Hezekiah paid a great price for his rebellion.  In addition to the destruction of numerous Judean cities.  Hezekiah paid a large tribute to Sennacherib and lost control of Philistine territory previously under his control.

Kings of Israel and Judah & Judah Alone Amid International Powers

There are a lot of wars and a lot of deaths, but it appears that nothing is accomplished.  Again I must say, nothing’s changed. 

If people would stop thinking of themselves and 1 look to You things would be good. 

Azariah
Uzziah, also known as Azariah was a king of the ancient Kingdom of Judah, and one of Amaziah’s sons, whom the people appointed to replace his father.

(According to James F. Drsicoll, the second form of his name most likely results from a copyist’s error.)

He is one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.

Uzziah was sixteen when he became king of Judah and reigned for fifty-two years.

William F. Albright has dated his reign to 783–742 B.C.

Edwin R. Thiele’s chronology has Uzziah becoming coregent with his father Amaziah in 792/791 B.C.

Uzziah was struck with leprosy for disobeying the Lord (2 Kgs 15:5; 2 Chr 26:19-21).

Thiele dates Uzziah’s being struck with leprosy to 751/750 B.C., at which time his son Jotham took over the government, with Uzziah living on until 740/739 B.C.

Pekah became king of Israel in the last year of Uzziah’s reign.

The Catholic Encyclopedia dates his reign from 809-759 B.C.

Azariah, at the age of 16 lived in Jerusalem and began to reign Judah and did so for 52 years, his mother was Jecholia, and he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, accept he didn’t remove the high places and the people sacrificed and burnt incense there. 

The Lord smote Azariah with leprosy until the day he died, and his son, Jotham, judged the people of the land.  

“And the rest of the acts of Azariah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?” (2 Kin 15:6).

Azariah was buried in the city of David, and Jothan reigned in his stead.

Zechariah lived in Samaria and reigned for six months, and he did evil in the eyes of the Lord.  And Jabesh’s son, Shallum, conspired against and smote him before the people, and then killed him, and reigned instead. 

“And the rest of the acts of Zechariah (not the prophet you will learn about later), and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?” (2 Kin 15:11).

Azariah was buried in the city of David, and Jothan reigned in his stead.

“This was the word of the LORD which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass” (2 Kin 15:12).

Shallum reigned a month in Samaria because Menahem went to Tirzah and then to Samari and killed him and reigned in his stead.

“And the rest of the acts of Shallum, and his conspiracy which he made, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel” (2 Kin 15:15).

Menahem then smote Tiphsah and everyone else that was there and around, and ripped the women that were pregnant.  He reigned for 10 years in Samaria, and was evil in the eyes of God. 

King Pul of Assyria went against Menahem so he gave the king a 1,000 talents of silver.  He also took 50 shekels of silver from all the mighty men to give to the Assyrian king. 

“And the rest of the acts of Menahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?” (2 Kin 15:21). 

When Menahem died Pekahiah reigned in his stead and did so for two years, and he did evil in the eyes of the Lord.  But Remaliah’s son, Pekah, with Argob, Arieh, and 50 other men of the Gileadites,  conspired against, smote, and killed him in Samaria, and reign in his stead.  

“And the rest of the acts of Pekahiah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israe”l (2 Kin 15:26).

Pekah reigned for 20 years and during this time King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria captured Ijon, Abel-ebth-maachah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, Galilee, and all the land of Naphtali, and took them to Assyria.

Hoshea conspired against Pekah, smote, and killed him, and reigned in his stead. 

And the rest of the acts of Pekah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel (2 Kin 1531).

Jotham, at the age of 25, began to reign and he reigned for 16 years in Jerusalem.  His mother was Jerusha.  And he did what was right in the eyes of God, like his father Uzziah had done. 

Menahem, from a Hebrew word meaning “the consoler” or “comforter”, was a king of the northern Israelite Kingdom of Israel.

He was the son of Gadi, and the founder of the dynasty known as the House of Gadi or House of Menahem.

In the Bible
Menahem’s ten year reign is told in 2 Kgs 15:14-22.

When Shallum conspired against and assassinated Zechariah in Samaria, and set himself upon the throne of the northern kingdom, Menahem – who, like Shallum, had served as a captain in Zechariah’s army – refused to recognize the murderous usurper.

Menahem marched from Tirzah to Samaria, about six miles westwards and laid siege to Samaria.

He took the city, murdered Shallum a month into his reign (2 Kgs 15:13), and set himself upon the throne (2 Kgs 15:14).

According to Josephus, he was a general of the army of Israel.

He brutally suppressed a revolt at Tiphsah

He destroyed the city – which has not been located – and put all its inhabitants to death, even ripping open the pregnant women (2 Kgs 15:16).

The Prophet Hosea describes the drunkenness and debauchery implied in the words “he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam.” (2 Kgs 15:18 and Hos 7:1-15).

The author of the Books of Kings describes his rule as one of cruelty and oppression.

The author is apparently synopsizing the “annals of the Kings of Israel”, (2 Kgs 15:21) and gives scant details of Menahem’s reign.

Yet, the high places weren’t torn down and the people sacrificed and burned incense, and he built the higher gate of the house of the Lord.

“Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?” (2 Kin 15:36).  

Eilat (Eloth)
Eilat is the southern resort and port city in Israel.

Nearby, on the Jordanian side, was the location of Eloth, a major ancient city for 3,000 years, which included King Solomon’s sea port of Etzion-Geber.

Jotham died and was buried in the city of David, and his son Ahaz reigned in his stead.

“In those days the LORD began to send against Judah Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah” (2 Kin 15:37).

Ahaz, at the age of 20, began to reign and did so for 16 years in Jerusalem, and did evil in the eyes of God, walking in the way of the kings of Israel, and made his son pass through the fire like the heathen’s do. 

He also sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.  Then the king of Syria, Rezin, recovered Elath to Syria and ran the Jews to Elath so the Syrians went to Elath and lived there.

So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser 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.

“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.

And the king of Assyria hearkened unto 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.

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.

And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus.

And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar: and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon.

And he burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar.

And he brought also the brasen altar, which was before the Lord, from the forefront of the house, from between the altar and the house of the Lord, and put it on the north side of the altar.

Andking Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the evening meat offering, and the king’s burnt sacrifice, and his meat offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice: and the brasen altar shall be for me to enquire by.

Thus did Urijah the priest, according to all that king Ahaz commanded.

Iron Age temple at Arad.
The people had fallen back into idolatry.

A temple at Tel Arad that dates to the time of Hezekiah’s reform .

In the Holy of Holies, they found two incense altars and two tablets, one for Yahweh and the other was for Baal and Asherah.

You can serve only one God – Matt 6:24.

And king Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, and removed the laver from off them; and took down the sea from off the brasen oxen that were under it, and put it upon the pavement of stones.

And the covert for the sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king’s entry without, turned he from the house of the Lord for the king of Assyria.

Capital of Moab
Known in the Bible as Kir, Kir Moab, Kir-Heres(eth), and Hereseth, this site (modern Kerak) was the capital city of Moab.

It is situated on an isolated hilltop, with a view in all directions.

The Crusaders recognized the defensible aspect of the site and in 1140 A.D. they made Kerak one of their strongest fortresses in the Middle East.

The remains of the Crusader castle are shown here.

Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead (2 Kin 16:7-20).

1 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6:25-33).

Judah Alone Amid International Powers

King Hezekiah built massive walls around the courtyards.

Hezekiah’s Reform

Hezekiah came to the throne of Judah in these turbulent times.  The date Hezekiah became king is disputed; certain biblical statements permit a date as early as 729 or as late as 715 B.C., the later date is traditionally preferred (715-687 B.C.).

 Unlike his father, Ahaz, Hezekiah steered a course of religious reform and political freedom (2 Chr 29-31). As early as 712 B.C., he contemplated joining a revolt against Assyria led by Ashdod and supported by Shabako of Egypt; however, along with Edom and Moab, Hezekiah pulled back, perhaps cautioned by Isaiah’s warnings against depending upon Egyptian help (Is 20).

Seal of Hezekiah
King Hezekiah owned at least 2 seals, both inscriptions say,

“(Seal) of Hezekiah, (son of) Ahaz, King (of) Judah” (לחזקיהו אחז מלך יהדה).”

King Hezekiah of Judah is one of the few shining lights in the annals of the kings of Judah and Israel, and one of the most outstanding kings of the tribe of Judah.

He achieved fame both for his exceptional piety and for his vigorous political activities and religious reform (2 Kgs 18-22; Is 36-39; 2 Chr 19-32).

As a result of Ahaz’s abject submission to Assyria, the religious life of the nation had been contaminated by heathen influences.

Isaiah’s early prophecies reveal the superstition, idolatry and spiritual blindness of the people.

From the beginning of his reign Hezekiah sought to put matters right.

The temple was reopened and cleansed from all that made it unfit for use, true worship was re-established, and the ancient covenant between Yahweh and Israel was reaffirmed.

Indeed, numerous Israelites from the north, at the invitation of Hezekiah, attended one of the greatest Pesachs (Passovers) ever since the disruption (2 Chr. 30). Hezekiah’s reformation spread beyond Jerusalem itself and into the countryside of Judah and Benjamin and as far north as Ephraim and Manasseh.

So great was its impact.

He even destroyed the Mosaic bronze serpent that Moses had made because it had become an idolatrous object of veneration.

In spite of all the good he did, Hezekiah had a major weakness, and it was this weakness that caused God to withdraw from him, 2 Chr 32:31.

Gradually Hezekiah strengthened his position by extending his control over cities in the Philistine Plain (2 Kg 18:8).  

Jar handle bearing the Hebrew inscription l’melek (“belonging to the king”).

Next, he carried out a series of religious reforms that eliminate the pagan practices permitted by Ahaz.  

Hezekiah ordered the destruction of high places with their idolatrous symbols (sacred pillars and Asherim [wooden objects sacred to Asherah] cleansed the Jerusalem temple, and celebrated a great Passover (2 Chr 29-31).

Under Hezekiah, Judah became the strongest state in the southern Levant.  

Hezekiah’s Opportunity for Revolt

When Sargon II died in 705 B.C., his successor, Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.), faced revolt in Babylon, once again led by Merodach-baladan.  At some point Hezekiah received in Jerusalem envoys sent from Merodach-baladan, an act intimating an anti-Assyrian conspiracy (2 Kgs 20:12-15).  

That Hezekiah intended rebellion seems clear from the biblical descriptions of the  strengthening of his country’s defenses. 

Hezekiah’s Preparation for War

In Jerusalem, Hezekiah built a massive new wall to fortify the western suburbs of the city, and he secured the city’s water supply by diverting the waters of the Gihon Spring through a 1,700-foot tunnel that led to a pool within the city fortifications (Is 22:8-11; 2 Kgs 20:20; 2 Chr 32:30).  

Hezekiah strengthened the army and apparently provided a supply system of stored goods designed to withstand Assyrian siege. 

N

Nineveh, Iraq
The ancient city of Nineveh is situated just outside Mosul on the east bank of the River Tigris.

Nobody knows exactly when it was inhabited for the first time, but it was a cultural settlement in the 6th millennium B.C., right through Sumerian and Babylonian periods.

In fact, the name of Nineveh is of Sumerian origin.

Nineveh was the 3rd capital of Assyria Empire after Assur and Nimrud, dating from the reign of the great King Sennacherib (704-681 BC) and was one of the most powerful cities of the Middle East: the hub of the civilized ancient World. Its downfall came in 612 BC, when it was sacked by the Medes of Northern Persia whom killed the last great king of Nineveh, Ashurbanipal (669-624 BC).

This city, a beloved of the goddess Ishtar, was ruled by a number of great Assyrian Kings, such as Sargon II (721-705 BC), before he moved to Khorsabad, succeeded by his son Sennacherib who abandoned his father’s new capital and went back to Nineveh, and Esarhaddon (681-669 B.C.) and Ashurbanipal, all of whom enlarged and built up the city turning it into a beautiful 700 hectares large city of wide boulevards, large squares, parks, and gardens.

umerous storage-jar fragments stamped with a royal seal, inscribed “belonging (or for) the king” (L’melek in Hebrew), found in excavations in Judah bear four names: Ziph, Socoh, Hebron, and the enigmatic mmsht.  

The first three are Judean towns, while the latter may refer to the governmental offices at Jerusalem.  Perhaps these four names designated regional collection-distribution centers of essential goods – oil, wine, etc.  Goods would be collected in the form of taxes in kind, stored, and then redistributed as needed.

Hezekiah’s Rebellion

With his kingdom properly prepared, Hezekiah rebelled against Sennacherib, provoking an Assyrian response in 701 B.C.  Hezekiah’s actions were part of a larger anti-Assyrian insurrection that included Sidon, Ashkelon, and the citizens of Ekron, who turned their king, Padi, over to Hezekiah.

Sennacherib’s campaign to crush the rebellious vassals is well documented both in biblical and Assyrian texts (2 Kgs 18:13-19:35; Is 36-37; 2 Chr 32:1-23; five whole or fragmentary copies of Sennacherib’s Annals mention the campaign).

Assyrian Attacks on Judah

First, Sennacherib moved against Sidon, replacing its rebellious kings and receiving tribute from subjugated Phoenician cities.  

Next, Sennacherib moved south against Ashkelon and removed its king, Sidqia.  He subdued cities in the northern Philistine Plain (Joppa, Bene-berak, Azor, and Beth-dagon) formerly controlled by Sidqia and then proceeded into the Shephelah. 

Evil Ishtar
The Assyrian and Babylonian counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate northwest Semitic goddess Astarte.

Anunit, Atarsamain and Esther are alternative names for Ishtar.

Ishtar is a goddess of fertility, love, and war.

In the Babylonian pantheon, she “was the divine personification of the planet Venus”.

Ishtar was above all associated with sexuality: her cult involved sacred prostitution; her holy city Erech was called the “town of the sacred courtesans”; and she herself was the “courtesan of the gods”.

Ishtar was the daughter of Sin or Anu.She was particularly worshiped at Nineveh and Arbela (Erbil).

Sennacherib’s annals mention the capture of Ekron and Timnah, both located in the strategic Sorek Valley.  Assyrian pressure forced Hezekiah to release Padi, who was reinstated as king of Ekron.

The villages and towns of the Shephelah were particularly hard hit by the Assyrian invasion. Friezes from Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh depict in graphic detail the siege of Lachish, a key Judean fortress in the Shephelah protecting the approaches to Jerusalem.  

Micah 1:10-16 undoubtedly refers to other towns that suffered a similar fate (Moresheth-gath, Achzib, Gath, and Adullam); Libnah is mentioned in the account of the Rabshakeh’s warnings to the citizens of Jerusalem (2 Kgs 19:8). 

An oracle of Isaiah suggests a northern approach to Jerusalem by elements of the Assyrian army, which threatened the towns and villages of Benjamin (Is 10:28-34). 

Altogether, Sennacherib claims to have destroyed 46 Judean cities, a boast adequately supported by the numerous destruction levels found in the excavation of Judean sites datable close to 700 B.C.

 

 

Illness of Elisha & Ben-Hadad III of Aram and Jehoash of Israel

There are a lot of wars and a lot of deaths, but it appears that nothing is accomplished.  Again I must say, nothing’s changed.  If people would stop thinking of themselves and 1look to You thinks would be good.” 

Ben-Hadad III of Aram and Jehoash of Israel.

Within the 23 years that Joash reigned over Judah, Jehoahaz, Jehu’s son, lived in Samaria and reigned for 17 years (during the time of Jesus the Hebrews never went to Samaria because the Jews lived there and the Hebrews weren’t supposed to associate with them).

Jehoahaz did evil, following the sins of Jeroboam.  God was angry with Israel and delivered them to King Hazael of Syria and his son Ben-hadad.  Jehoahaz prayed to God for help.

Jehoahaz of Israel was king of Israel and the son of Jehu (2 Kgs 10:35).

William F. Albright has dated his reign to 815 B.C. – 801 B.C., while E. R. Thiele offers the dates 814 B.C. – 798 B.C.

A stamp seal dated to the end of the 7th century B.C. has been found with the inscription “[belonging] to Jehoahaz, son of the king”.

He reigned seventeen years.

His account in 2 Kings states that he was initially faithful to Yahweh, but his people followed the religious practices of the house of Jeroboam, which included the worship of a cultic pole of Asherah in Samaria.

The kings of the Arameans, Hazael and Ben-hadad, prevailed over him, leaving him an army of 50 horsemen, 10 chariots and 10,000 foot soldiers (2 Kgs 13:1-9).

Jehoahaz besought the Lord for a deliverer to relieve Israel from Aramean oppression.

Just when that savior appeared or who he was is not determined.

But in II Kgs 13. 25, and 14. 27, Jehoahaz’s son Joash and his grandson Jeroboam II. would seem to fulfil the requirements.

It is also true that Adad-nirari III, King of Assyria (812-783 B.C.), made campaigns into the west (804-797), and on one of the incursions captured and sacked the city of Damascus, thus removing the worst enemy of Israel’s prosperity.

(And the Lord gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime.

Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove also in Samaria.)

Neither did he leave of the people to Jehoahaz but fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing.

Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, and all that he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?” (2 Kgs 13:5-8).

Jehoahaz died and was buried in Samaria, and Joash reigned.  After his 37th year of reign Jehoahaz’s son, Jehoahaz lived in Samaria and reigned over Israel for 16 years.  And he did evil, and died and was also buried in Samaria. 

“And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, and his might wherewith he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?” (2 Kgs 13:12). 

“Elisha became ill and Joash, king of Israel, came to him and wept, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof” (2 Kgs 13:14).

Elisha told him to get a bow and arrow and set one up to shoot.  They then went to the eastward window and the king had the bow to shoot and Elisha put his hand atop the kings and told him to shoot, and after he let the arrow go Elisha said,

“The arrow of the Lord‘s deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.

And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed.

Tell Aphek (Afek, Antipatris) was a gateway on the main trade route from north to south.

More than 6,000 years of successive cities have been built on the mound overlooking the springs of the Yarkon river.

And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.

And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year” (2 Kgs 13:17-20).

And it came to pass, they were burying a man and they saw a band of other men so they tossed the man into Elisha’s sepulcher and when the dead man’s body touched Elisha’s he came back to live and jumped up.

“But Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz.

And the Lord was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.

So Hazael king of Syria died; and Benhadad his son reigned in his stead” (2 Kgs 13:22-24).

In the second year of Joash’s reign his son Amaziah, at the age of 25, began to reign, and he reigned for 29 years.  His mother’s name was Jehoaddan and from Jerusalem. 

And he did what was right in the eyes of God, but not like David had done, but like his father Joash did.  So the high places weren’t taken down and people did burnt offerings there.

Panorama of Elisha’s Tomb
Some Muslims believe the tomb of Elisha is in Al-Awjam in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia.

The shrine was removed by the Government because such veneration is not in accordance with Wahhabi or Salafi Islam.

It had been an important landmark for many centuries during and before the Sunni Ottoman dominance of the Middle-East.

It had been a destination for pilgrims.

“But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

Joktheel/Selah
Seizing the rock city of Petra in Edom by storm was not small feat for a king.

He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand, and took Selah by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day” (2 Kgs 14:6-7).

Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face.

“And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.

Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart hath lifted thee up: glory of this, and tarry at home: for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?

But Amaziah would not hear. Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah.

And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents.

Ancient Gate of the City
It appears to have had some kind of sliding door mechanism, something that rolled between those large hewn boulders.

And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Bethshemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits.

And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria.

Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might, and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?” (2 Kgs 14:8-15).

“And the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

The southern tip of modern Israel, ancient Elath (today Eilat) was outside the prescribed boundaries of the Promised Land for the children of Israel.

It was one of the stops on the wilderness travels (Deut 2:8).

The relationship of Elath to Ezion Geber is unclear; the Bible says that these two places were near each other by the Red Sea but the exact location of these ancient sites is still uncertain.

Now they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem: and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there.

And they brought him on horses: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.

And all the people of Judah took Azariah, which was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah” (2 Kgs 14:19-21).

In the 15 years that Amaziah had been king of Judah, Jeroboam began to reign in Samaria and for 41 years.  He did evil in the sight of the Lord, but he restored the coast of Israel from entering Hamath. 

“For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel.

And the Lord said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead” (2 Kgs 14:26-29).

Ben-Hadad III of Aram
and Jehoash of Israel

Iron Age ruins of Samaria at the City Acropolis
Samaria was an ancient city in the Land of Israel.

It was the capital of the Kingdom of Israel in the 9th century B.C. and 8th century B.C.

The ruins of the city are located in the Samaria mountains and are under the jurisdiction of Israel National Park Authority.

During the second half of the 9th century B.C., the northern kingdom suf­fered a great deal in wars with Hazael, king of Aram.

During the reign of Jehoash (c. 798-782 B.C.), however, the tide turned. Elisha predicted that Jehoash would be victorious over the Arameans three times.

Tell al-Rimah is an archaeological site in Nineveh Province (Iraq).

Its ancient name may have been either Karana or Qattara.

The region was originally surveyed by Seton Lloyd in 1938.

The site of Tell al-Rimah was excavated from 1964 to 1971 by a British School of Archaeology in Iraq team led by David Oates.

A large temple and palace from the early second millennium B.C. were excavated, as well as a Neo-Assyrian building. Tell al-Rimah also is known for having a third millennium example of brink vaulting.

In about 800 B.C. Hazael was suc­ceeded by his son Ben-Hadad.

Being the third king with that name in the Old Testa­ment, he is usually referred to as Ben-Hadad III.

Elisha’s prophecy came true as Jehoash defeated Ben-Hadad III three times and recovered all of the cities Hazael had cap­tured from Israel (vv.24—25).

This most likely occurred after Ben-Hadad’s subjugation by the Assyrians, when the Aramean kingdom was considerably weakened.

The Tell al-Rimah Stele, an inscription that comes from Adadnirari III (king of Assyria from 810 to 783 B.C.), mentions Jehoash and apparently Ben-Hadad III.

Dis­covered in 1967 at the site of Tell al-Rimah in modern Iraq, some 40 miles (64.5 km) west of Nineveh, it is a record of Adadnirari’s cam­paign to the west in about 796 B.C.

According to the stele Adadnirari received tribute pay­ments from “Mari of Damascus,” “Joash the Samarian” and unnamed rulers of Tyre and Sidon.

Mari of Damascus is probably Ben-Hadad III; the inscription states that he sent vast amounts of silver, copper, iron and cloth­ing to Adadnirari.

Joash the Samarian is Jehoash of Israel.  The amount of tribute paid by Jehoash and the rulers of Tyre and Sidon is not mentioned, but in another stele, the “Sabaa Stele,” Adadnirari gives another account of a triumph over “Mari of Damascus,” whom he confined to Damascus and from whom he exacted an enormous amount of gold and silver.

The Reign of Jehoash & The Samaria Ostraca

These people are bad.  The majority of them worship Baal or some other false god, instead of You.  Nothing’s changed, and You kill a lot of the people that aren’t with You and it only makes sense this 1 will happen in the end (2 Kgs 11:).

Beersheba is the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel.

Often referred to as the “Capital of the Negev”, it is the seventh-largest city in Israel with a population of 197,269.

Beersheba grew in importance in the 19th century, when the Ottoman Turks built a regional police station there.

The Battle of Beersheba was part of a wider British offensive in World War I aimed at breaking the Turkish defensive line from Gaza to Beersheba.

In 1947, Bir Seb’a as it was known, was envisioned as part of the Arab state in the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine.

Following the declaration of Israel’s independence, the Egyptian army amassed its forces in Beersheba as a strategic and logistical base. In the Battle of Beersheba waged in October 1948,

it was conquered by the Israel Defense Forces.

Beersheba has grown considerably since then.

A large portion of the population is made up of the descendants of Sephardi Jews and Mizrahi Jews who immigrated from Arab countries after 1948, as well as smaller communities of Bene Israel and Cochin Jews from India.

Second and third waves of immigration have taken place since 1990, bringing Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, as well as Beta Israel immigrants from Ethiopia.

The Soviet immigrants have made the game of chess a major sport in Beersheba.

The city is now Israel’s national chess center, with more chess grand masters per capita than any other city in the world.

“And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal.

But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons which were slain; and they hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not slain.

And he was with her hid in the house of the Lord six years. And Athaliah did reign over the land” (2 Kin 11:1-3).

After seven years Jehoada gathered up the hundreds of rulers with their captains and guards to make a covenant with them, and he showed them the king’s son.  He then said,

“This is the thing that ye shall do; A third part of you that enter in on the sabbath shall even be keepers of the watch of the king’s house;

And a third part shall be at the gate of Sur; and a third part at the gate behind the guard: so shall ye keep the watch of the house, that it be not broken down.

And two parts of all you that go forth on the sabbath, even they shall keep the watch of the house of the Lord about the king.

And ye shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand: and he that cometh within the ranges, let him be slain: and be ye with the king as he goeth out and as he cometh in” (2 Kin 11:5-8).

And that is what they did.  The priests handed out the spears and shield that had been King David’s.

“And he brought forth the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king.

And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people into the temple of the Lord.

Tell es-Safi
The Tell eṣ-Ṣāfī was a Palestinian village, located on the southern banks of Wadi ‘Ajjur, 35 kilometers (22 mi) northwest of Hebron that was depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war on orders of Shimon Avidan, commander of the Givati Brigade.

Archaeological excavations at the site reveal that it had been continuously inhabited since the 5th millennium B.C.

On the Madaba Map, the name is Saphitha, while the Crusaders called it Blanche Garde.

It is mentioned by Arab geographers in the 13th and 16th centuries.

Under the Ottoman Empire, it was part of the district of Gaza.

In modern times, the houses were built of sun-dried brick.

The villagers were Muslim and cultivated cereals and orchards.

Today Tell es-Safi is an archaeological site known as Tel Tzafit.

The remains of the Crusader fort and the Arab village can still be seen on the tel.

And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king, and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets: and Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, Treason.

But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the host, and said unto them, Have her forth without the ranges: and him that followeth her kill with the sword. For the priest had said, Let her not be slain in the house of the Lord.

And they laid hands on her; and she went by the way by the which the horses came into the king’s house: and there was she slain.

And Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people, that they should be the Lord‘s people; between the king also and the people” (2 Kin 11:12-17).

Jehoiada then made a covenant between God and the people, and then the people tore down the house of Baal, destroyed the images, and killed Mattan, the priest of Baal.  Jehoida then sat at the throne and the people killed Athaliah. 

It was during the seventh year of Jehu that Jehoash, at the age of seven, became king of Jerusalem and he reigned for 40 years.  His mother was Zibiah of 2Beer-sheba (the most southerly town in the kingdom of Judah. 

In the days of the conquest of Canaan it was allotted to the tribe of Simeon.  The expression from Dan to Beersheba is used to designate the northern and southern extremities of the nation of Israel).

“And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.

And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the Lord, even the money of every one that passeth the account, the money that every man is set at, and all the money that cometh into any man’s heart to bring into the house of the Lord,

The Western Wall in the midst of the Old City in Jerusalem is the section of the Western supporting wall of the Temple Mount which has remained intact since the destruction of the Second Jerusalem Temple (70 C.E.).

It became the most sacred spot in Jewish religious and national consciousness and tradition by virtue of its proximity to the Western Wall of the Holy of Holies in the Temple, from which, according to numerous sources, the Divine Presence never departed.

It became a center of mourning over the destruction of the Temple and Israel’s exile, on the one hand, and of religious – in 20th century also national – communion with the memory of Israel’s former glory and the hope for its restoration, on the other.

Because of the former association, it became known in European languages as the “Wailing Wall”.

Let the priests take it to them, every man of his acquaintance: and let them repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach shall be found.

But it was so, that in the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house” (2 Kin 12:2-6).

Jehoash called in the priest, Jehoiada, and the other priests and asked why they hadn’t done the repair jobs, and told them that they wouldn’t be getting any more money, and they agreed that they wouldn’t, nor would they do any repairs. 

But Jehoiada took a chest and bore a hole in the lid and put it by the altar, and the priests that kept the door of the church put the money in there.

“And it was so, when they saw that there was much money in the chest, that the king’s scribe and the high priest came up, and they put up in bags, and told the money that was found in the house of the Lord.

The Tunnel Alongside the Western Wall
Religious Jews can enter the western wall tunnel from the prayer area, tourist visitors must enter from the north of the western wall plaza.

The western wall tunnel was dug after 1967 in several stages, although some parts are older.

The last short part was dug under the Netanyahu government and caused an Arab upheaval.

Upon entering, a long vaulted corridor turns eastwards to the Wall.

It was built in the early Arab period and served as a secret underground passage.

The roof was used to support the Street of the Chain lying above-ground.

The arches on the left supported a 12.5 meter broad bridge with an aqueduct in Herod’s time which brought water from Solomon’s Pools to the Temple.

The archway was destroyed by the Zealots who defended Jerusalem against the Romans in 70 CE.

Later it was rebuilt again by the Crusaders.

And they gave the money, being told, into the hands of them that did the work, that had the oversight of the house of the Lord: and they laid it out to the carpenters and builders, that wrought upon the house of the Lord,

And to masons, and hewers of stone, and to buy timber and hewed stone to repair the breaches of the house of the Lord, and for all that was laid out for the house to repair it” (2 Kin 12:10-12).

None of the money had been spent on bowls of silver, snuffers, basons, trumpets, or any vessels of gold or silver. All the money was given to the workmen, except the trespass and sin money, that was given to the priests.

“Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem.

And Jehoash king of Judah took all the hallowed things that Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own hallowed things, and all the gold that was found in the treasures of the house of the Lord, and in the king’s house, and sent it to Hazael king of Syria: and he went away from Jerusalem.

And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla.

Jehoram of Israel
Jehoram (or Joram) was a king of the northern Kingdom of Israel.

He was the son of Ahab and Jezebel, and brother to King Ahaziah.

According to 2 Kgs 8:16, in the fifth year of Joram of Israel, (another) Jehoram became king of Judah, when his father Jehoshaphat was (still) king of Judah, indicating a co-regency.

The author of Kings also speaks of both Jehoram of Israel and Jehoram of Judah in the same passage, which can be confusing.

Reign

Jehoram began to reign in Israel in the 18th year of Jehoshaphat of Judah, and ruled 12 years (2 Kgs 3:1).

William F. Albright has dated his reign to 849–842 B.C., whereas E. R. Thiele proposed 852-841 B.C.

Like his predecessors, Jehoram worshiped Baal.

With Jehoshaphat of Judah and the King of Edom, Jehoram attacked Mesha, King of Moab.

In the war between Syria and Israel, Elisha befriended Jehoram, revealing to him the plans of the enemy.

Subsequently, when Ben-hadad besieged Samaria, reducing the city almost to starvation, Jehoram sought to kill the prophet.

The latter, however, foretold that a period of plenty was imminent; the siege was soon lifted, the city’s food supplies were replenished, and the old relation between the king and the prophet was restored.

When Hazael, king of the Arameans, revolted in Damascus, as Elisha had predicted (II Kgs 8:12).

Jehoram made an alliance with his nephew Ahaziah, King of Judah.

The two kings set forth to take Ramoth-gilead from Syria.

The project failed; Jehoram was wounded in the fighting, and he withdrew to Jezreel to recover.

It is likely that his defeat at Ramoth-Gilead was a disaster.

As a result, while Jehoram was recuperating at Jezreel, his general Jehu incited a revolt.

Jehu murdered Jehoram by shooting him in the back with an arrow, and had his body thrown into the field of Naboth the Jezreelite, as punishment for his parent’s sin in stealing the former’s land.

With the death of Jehoram, the Omri Dynasty became extinct.

Jehu claimed the throne of Israel as his own.

The author of the Tel Dan Stele (found in 1993-94 during archaeological excavations of the site of Laish) claimed to have slain both Ahaziah and Jehoram.

Hazael is the most likely to have written it.

For Jozachar the son of Shimeath, and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, smote him, and he died; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead (2 Kin 12:17-21).

1 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal 3:6).

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb 13:8).

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and may there be which go in there at: Boy, do I ever know that gate, you’d think I was the one that made it.

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt 7:13-14).

Took me 45 years, but I found it and I’m not leaving it. 

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt 7:21-23).

He is not talking about non-believers here, they already have their one-way ticket to hell.  He’s talking about pastors, priests, and the like.  Those that believe and even preach the gospel, but they are doing it for man, and not for Him.

2 Beer-shebe is where Abraham had made a covenant with the Philistine princes (Gen 21:32), where Hagar ran from when Sarah kicked her out (Gen 21:14), where Abraham dwelled after offering up Isaac (Gen 22:19).

Here God appeared to Jacob (Gen 46:1), where Elijah sought refuge from Jezebel (1 Kgs 19:3), and the prophet Amos  rebuked the idolatrous tendencies he saw infiltrating the religious life of Beersheba from Bethel and from Dan (Amos 8:14).  This town is not mentioned at all in the New Testament, the modern name of is Bir Es Seba.

The Samaria Ostraca

Samaria Ostracon Recreation
The Samaria Ostraca are 64 legible ostraca which were found in Samaria.

These are written in early Hebrew characters, which very closely resemble those of the Siloam Inscription, but show a slight development of the cursive script.

These ostraca were found in the treasury of the palace of Ahab, king of Israel and probably date about his period, 850 B.C.

At least they must all date prior to 750 B.C., when the palace was destroyed.

Description
They are written on fragments of five different types of vessels—large thick amphorae, with a drab or grey surface; large thin amphorae, with a drab or grey surface; jugs of soft brown ware with a reddish slip; basins of the same ware; and bowls of coarse ware with a red or yellow slip, all of these presumably being vessels that were used in receiving and storing the revenue.

Sherds with a smooth surface or a slip would naturally be preferred for writing.

These ostraca are evidently part of a somewhat clumsy method of book-keeping.

Either they were a “day-book,” notes of daily receipts to be written up in some form of “ledger” afterwards; or they were the sole record kept of the amount of wine and oil received in various years from various places.

They may have been written and handed in by the givers, not by the receivers.

All of them began with a date, such as “In the ninth, tenth, or fifteenth year” presumably of the reign of Ahab.

This is followed by the amount and quality of wine or oil received, with the name of the place where it came from and of the giver, such as “in the tenth year wine of Kerm-ha-Tell for a jar of fine oil” where evidently wine was accepted in place of fine oil.

“A jar of old wine” and “a jar of fine oil” are the most usual descriptions.

Examples
Ostracon No. I contains a list of amounts paid in by five people. It reads : IN THE TENTH YEAR. To SHEMARYAU. FROM BEER-YAM Jars of Old Wine. Rage’, son of Elisha’…… ‘Uzza, son of ( ) .. i Eliba, son of ( ) i Ba’ala, son of Elisha…… i Yeda ‘Yau, son of ( ) .. i

Ostracon No. 2 is a similar document: IN THE TENTH YEAR. To GADDIYAU. FROM AZAH Jars of Old Wine. Abi-ba’al Ahaz .. Sheba’ Meriba’al

Ostracon, No. 18 In the tenth year. From Hazeroth to Gaddiyau. A jar of fine oil.

Ostracon, No- 30 In the fifteenth year. From Shemida to Hillez (son of) Gaddiyau. Gera (son of) Hanniab.

Samaria Ostracon, No. 55 In the tenth year. (From the) vineyard of Yehau-eli. A jar of fine oil.

A collection of inscriptions written with ink on pottery fragments or os­traca (singular ostracon) was discovered during excavations at Samaria in 1910.

They record shipments of wine and oil received in Samaria from locations in its vicinity, apparently during the ninth, tenth and fifteenth years of Jeroboam II (c. 786— 746 B.C.), although the dating of the ostraca is disputed.

The texts include some or all of the following elements: date (year of a king), place, clan name, sender, recipient and com­modity (wine or oil).

The ostraca provide samples of Israelite script, showing us how Hebrew was written at this time.

They also illustrate the record­keeping of the time and provide valuable geographic information on towns in the area.

The most interesting aspect of the ostraca is the clan names. Samaria is located in the tribal area of Manasseh.

Ten clans of Manasseh settled in Canaan and received tracts of land (Jos 17:1-13).

Those dans were Abiezer, Asriel, Helek, Shechem and Shemida, sons of Gilead (Jos 17:1-2) and Hoglah, Mahlah, Milcah, Noah and Tirzah, the daughters of Zelophehad, son of Hepher (Jos 17:3-4).

All of the clans named after Gilead’s sons are represented in the ostraca, along with two of the five clans named after Zelophehad’s daughters (those of Hoglafi and Noah).

The clan names preserved on the Samaria Ostraca provide an extra biblical link between the clans of Manasseh and the ter­ritory in which the Bible claims they settled.

Judgment on the House of Ahab & The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

Jezebel should have listened to You a long time ago and 1 You would have let her live, because I know that You don’t want to kill anyone, but if they’re evil they gotta go because You 2 don’t like evilness.

“And Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria.  And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to them that brought up Ahab’s children, saying,

The vicinity of the Valley of Megiddo (Jezreel/Esdrelon many significant historical battles.

* Thutmose III of Egypt fought Syrian forces – 1468 B.C.

* Joshua defeated the King of Megiddo – Josh 12:21.

* Deborah and Barak defeated the Kings of Canaan – Jdg 5:19.

* Gideon defeated the Midianites – Jdg 7.

* Saul was defeated by the Philistines – 1 Sam 28-31.

* Ahaziah, king of Judah, died there – 2 Kgs 9:27.

* King Josiah was slain in a battle against Pharaoh Neco of Egypt – 2 Kgs 23:29-30; 2 Chr 35:20-27.

Now as soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master’s sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, a fenced city also, and armour;

Look even out the best and meetest of your master’s sons, and set him on his father’s throne, and fight for your master’s house” (2 Kgs 10:1-3).

But they were afraid and didn’t think they would prevail, but those that were over the house, the city, and the elders also, said to him, 

“We are thy servants, and will do all that thou shalt bid us; we will not make any king: do thou that which is good in thine eyes.

Then he wrote a letter the second time to them, saying, If ye be mine, and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master’s sons, and come to me to Jezreel by to morrow this time. Now the king’s sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, which brought them up.

And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king’s sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel.

And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king’s sons. And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning.

And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, Ye be righteous: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him: but who slew all these?

Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the Lord, which theLord spake concerning the house of Ahab: for the Lord hath done that which he spake by his servant Elijah” (2 Kgs 10:5-10).

So Jehu killed everyone that lived in Jezreel and then went to Samaria.  While he was at the shearing house he met the brothers of Ahaziah king of Judah and asked who they were and they told him and said they were going down to salute the children of the king and queen.

“And he said, Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house, even two and forty men; neither left he any of them” (2 Kgs 10:14).

Jehu left and as he was traveling as the son of Rechab, Jehonadabo, came to meet him, and Jehu asked,

Ancient Watcher Tower in the West Bank (Samaria)
Excavated agricultural watchtower, which guarded an irrigated farm near Nazareth (where Jesus was raised) in the 1st century A.D.

These towers:

* Built by individual families to safeguard valuable plots of farmland.

* Were once a common sight along the hills of ancient Galilee, Samaria, and Judea.

Many contained inner rooms used for shelter, storage, and possible wine cellars.

In the tower Galilee, most watchtowers appear to have been solid, used only for guarding crops and perhaps storing stones for building.

Although many can still be found in Judea and Samaria, Galilean watchtowers are increasingly rare.

“Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot.

And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord. So they made him ride in his chariot.

And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the Lord, which he spake to Elijah.

And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much.

Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshipers of Baal.

And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it” (2 Kgs 10:15-20).

Jehu then called for all the worshipers of Baal to meet at the house of Baal and the amount of people filled it.

“And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshipers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments.

The Temple of Baal in Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra is a city of ruins in south-central Syria (less than 100 miles from the Iraqi border!). It was inhabited by various groups–Aramaeans, Persians, Romans, Arabs, Ottomans, among others.

And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshipers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the Lord, but the worshipers of Baal only.

And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu appointed fourscore men without, and said, If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him.

And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal.

And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them.

And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day.

One of the Many Baal Statues
Baal, also rendered Baʿal is a North-West Semitic title and honorific meaning “master” or “lord” that is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu.

A Baalist or Baalite means a worshiper of Baal.

“Baal” may refer to any god and even to human officials.

In some texts it is used for Hadad, a god of thunderstorms, fertility and agriculture, and the lord of Heaven.

Since only priests were allowed to utter his divine name, Hadad,

Ba‛al was commonly used.

Nevertheless, few if any biblical uses of “Baal” refer to Hadad, the lord over the assembly of gods on the holy mount of Heaven; most refer to a variety of local spirit-deities worshiped as cult images, each called Baal and regarded in the Hebrew Bible in that context as a “false god”.

Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.

Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.

And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.

But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of  3 Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.

In those days the Lord began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel;

From Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan.

Now the rest of the acts of Jehu, and all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

And Jehu slept with his fathers: and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his stead.

And the time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty and eight years” (2 Kgs 10:22-36).

Jehu,was the tenth king of Israel since Jeroboam I, noted for exterminating the house of Ahab at the instruction of Yahweh. He was the son of Jehoshaphat, and grandson of Nimshi.

William F. Albright has dated his reign to 842–815 B.C., while E. R. Thiele offers the dates 841–814 B.C.

The principal source for the events of his reign comes from 2 Kgs 9-10.

1 “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ez 33:11).

2 “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate” (Prov 8:13).

“Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish Judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph” (Amos 5:15).

3 Jeroboam was the first king of northern Israel and conspired against Solomon, but failed.  During his time there was constant war between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. 

On the 15th day of the 8th month he proclaimed a holiday where he went to Bethel and sacrificed on the altar to the golden calf.

Jehu/The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

The “Black Obelisk” of Shalmaneser III (reigned 858-824 BC) is a black limestone Assyrian bas-relief sculpture from Nimrud (ancient Calah, fortress city defending Nineveh), in northern Iraq.

Height: 197.85 cm.

Width: 45.08 cm.

It is currently displayed in the British Museum.

It records the military exploits of Shalmaneser which include taking tribute from Jehu son of Omri? See next picture.

In 841 B.C. Jehu became king of the northern kingdom by means of a bloody coup (2 Kgs 9-10).

He moved to rid Israel of Baal worship, but this did not end idolatry, for Jehu continued to worship the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.

No sooner had Jehu established his rule than he found himself forced to pay homage to Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria (an event not mentioned in the Bible but recorded in several inscriptions by Shalmaneser).

The most interesting record is the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser, discovered by Englishman Sir Henry Layard in Calah, Iraq, in 1846.

This obelisk provides both a written and a pictorial record of the kings who paid tribute to Assyria.

It depicts Jehu, on his hands and knees with his nose and chin toward the ground, before Shalmaneser.  Behind Jehu (on the other three sides of the obelisk) are 13 Israelite emissaries bearing tribute.

The inscription reads, “I received the tribute of Jehu of the House of Omri (i.e., lsrael): silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden goblet, golden cups, golden buckets, tin, a staff of the king’s hand, (and) javelins (?).”

All 14 of the Israelites pictured are bearded, with long hair and pointed caps. Each wears a belted tunic with fringe at the bottom.

In addition, each of the 13 porters wears a mantle or cloak over the tunic, which extends over the shoulders and is fringed or tasseled down the front on both sides.

Jehu is not wearing the outer garment, possibly as a sign of  humiliation before Shalmaneser.

The Obelisk of Shalmaneser provides the only known surviving likeness of a king of Israel or Judah.

The Slaying of Jezebel & The Tel Dan Stele

As I had said, since Elisha walks with You, You made it so everyone listened to what he says (Prov 16:17). 

The king didn’t hesitate to give back the house and land to the lady, and he even gave more than she asked for. 

Jezebel: Infamous Queen
The Bible depicts Jezebel as an evil, headstrong heathen.

Jezebel means ‘Where is the prince?’- the ‘prince’ being the fertility god Baal.

When Baal was in the underworld or Land of the Dead, it was winter. Baal’s followers would then chant ‘Where is the prince?’ as a prayer to encourage the onset of spring and the return of vegetation.

Jezebel was unflinchingly loyal to Baal, and went to her death wearing the ritual make-up and headdress of a priestess of Baal.

Ahab means ‘brother of the father’.

Elijah means ‘My god is Jah’.

Jehu means ‘It is he, Jah’.

Elisha means ‘God has helped’.

Gold spiral bracelet of two snakes whose tails are tied in a Hercules knot that is decorated with a garnet in a bezel setting; from Eretria, on the island of Euboea, 4th–3rd century B.C.

“And Elisha the prophet called one of the children of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramothgilead:

And when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber;

Then take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not” (2 Kgs 9:1-3).

“So the young man went to Ramoth-gilead and when he arrived the captains of the host were sitting and he said, I have an errand to thee, O captain. And Jehu said, Unto which of all us? And he said, To thee, O captain” (2 Kgs 9:5).

He then went into the house and poured oil on Jehu’s head and said, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the LORD, even over Israel.

And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel.

For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel: And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah: And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled.

Close up of Jehu doing homage to Shalmaneser III.
(One of the reliefs on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser).
This is the same Jehu as the Jehu mentioned in Scripture.

This is one of the the most important discoveries in Biblical Archaeology.

The panel depicts the Hebrew king Jehu, or possibly one of his servants, bringing gifts to Shalmaneser III and kneeling at his feet.

“The time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years” (2 Kgs 10:36).

Jehu came out and they asked him if all was well and he told them that the messenger, under the power of God, anointed him king.

“Then they hasted, and took every man his garment, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king.

So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. (Now Joram had kept Ramothgilead, he and all Israel, because of Hazael king of Syria.

But king Joram was returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him, when he fought with Hazael king of Syria.) And Jehu said, If it be your minds, then let none go forth nor escape out of the city to go to tell it in Jezreel” (2 Kgs 9:13-15).

So Jehu went to Jezreel and a watchman of Jezreel saw them coming and told Joram and he told him to get a horseman and go and find out if he comes in peace.

“So there went one on horseback to meet him, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? And Jehu said, What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me. And the watchman told, saying, The messenger came to them, but he cometh not again.

Then he sent out a second on horseback, which came to them, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? And Jehu answered, What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me.

And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not again: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously.

And Joram said, Make ready. And his chariot was made ready. And Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out against Jehu, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite.

And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?

And Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah.

And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot.

Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain, Take up, and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite: for remember how that, when I and thou rode together after Ahab his father, the Lord laid this burden upon him;

Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, saith theLord; and I will requite thee in this plat, saith the Lord. Now therefore take and cast him into the plat of ground, according to the word of the Lord.

But when Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden house. And Jehu followed after him, and said, Smite him also in the chariot. And they did so at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo, and died there.

And his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his sepulchre with his fathers in the city of David.

And in the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Judah.

The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III is a four-sided monument or pillar made of black limestone.

It stands about 6 1/2 feet tall.

It was discovered in 1846 by A.H. Layard in the Central Palace of Shalmaneser III at the ruins of Nimrud, known in the Bible as Calah, and known in ancient Assyrian inscriptions as Kalhu.

It is now on display in the British Museum.

The Obelisk contains five rows of bas-relief (carved) panels on each of the four sides, twenty panels in all.

Directly above each panel are cuneiform inscriptions describing tribute offered by submissive kings during Shalmaneser’s war campaigns with Syria and the West.

The “Jehu Relief” is the most significant panel because it reveals a bearded Semite in royal attire bowing with his face to the ground before king Shalmaneser III, with Hebrew servants standing behind him bearing gifts.

The cuneiform text around it reveals the tribute bearer and his gifts, it says:

“The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri: I received from him silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin, a staff for a king [and] spears.”

The Assyrians referred to a northern Israel king as a “son of Omri”, whether they were a direct son of Omri or not. Other Assyrian inscriptions reveal Israel’s southern kings from Judah, as recorded on Sennacherib’s Clay Prism (also known as the Taylor Prism) which reads “Hezekiah the Judahite”.

The Black Obelisk has been precisely dated to 841 B.C., due to the accurate Assyrian dating methods.

And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?

The Tel Dan Stele is a stele (inscribed stone) discovered in 1993/94 during excavations at Tel Dan in northern Israel.

Its author was a king of Damascus, Hazael or one of his sons, and it contains an Aramaic inscription commemorating victories over local peoples including “Israel” and possibly the “House of David.”

The inscription generated excitement among biblical scholars and biblical archaeologists because certain letters are identical to the Hebrew (and early Aramaic) words for “House of David.”

If these letters refer to the Davidic line then this is the first time the name “David” has been recognized at any archaeological site.

The scholarly consensus among archaeologists and epigraphers is that the fragment is an authentic reference to the biblical King David.

The Stele is currently on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs.

And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot.

And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king’s daughter.

And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands.

Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel:

And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel” (2 Kgs 9:18-37).

1 In the manner of Jezebel’s death the word of the Lord was confirmed, the word she had defied during her life (1 Kgs 21:23).

The Tel Dan Stele

In 1993 and 1994 fragments of an Aramaic monumental inscription were discovered in Tel Dan, Israel. Although

only a fraction of the original inscription was recovered, the preserved portion alludes to eight Biblical kings.

Based on the names recorded in the document, it can be dated to around 841 B.C.

Even though his name is missing, it appears that Hazael,  king of Aram from approximately 842 – 800 B.C., commissioned the stela (or stele) to com­memorate his defeat of Jorarr and Ahaziah at Ramoth Gilead (2 Kgs 8:28-29).

Hazael is men­tioned in the records of Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria from approximately 858- 824 B.C., and his name is inscribed on objects taken as booty by the Assyrians.

The initial lines of the inscription men­tion “my father,” possibly a reference to Ben-Hadad II, Hazael’s predecessor.

The names of Joram and Ahab can be restored in the phrase “[l killed Jo]ram son of [Ahab] king of Israel,” where the brackets indicate lacunae in the original text.

Joram was king of Israel from approximately 852 to 841 B.C., while Ahab ruled from approximately 874 to 853 B.C.

This is followed by the statement “and [I] killed [Ahaz]Iahu son of [Jehoram kinjg of the House of David.” Ahaziah/Ahaziahu ruled Judah in 841 B.C.

The name of Jehoram, who reigned from 848 to 841 B.C., can be supplied where the text is missing.

The most remarkable aspect of the Tel Dan Stele is the phrase “House of David,” pro­viding extra-biblical evidence for the exis­tence of David.

This is important because some recent scholars have denied the exis­tence of the united kingdom under David and Solomon, treating David as a character more of legend than of reality.

This inscrip­tion demonstrates that ancient kings recog­nized the Davidic dynasty over Jerusalem and by implication validates the historicity of David himself.

Some scholars have tried to avoid this implication by arguing for an alternative translation for “House of David,” claiming that the words refer to some place or to a god rather than to King David. Few are”‘ persuaded by these protests, and the inscrip­tion is widely recognized to be an extra-bib­lical witness to the dynasty of David.