Page images

power appears to have lain dormant in that direction. But "God stirred up the spirit of Pul," and he invaded Israel, B. c. 770, in the twentieth year of his reign. The act is thus recorded in Scripture: "And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him." [For Menahem had usurped the crown of Israel in the same year, and therefore needed protection.] "And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land," 2 Kings xv. 19, 20; 1 Chron. v. 26.

It is considered, by the best authorities, that Pul was the Assyrian Belus; that he shared a joint worship with the original Belus, or the sun; and that the temple of Belus, at Babylon, was dedicated to both, Babylon being originally a province of the Assyrian empire. Dr. Hales conceives, that he was the second Belus of the Greeks, Nimrod, or Ninus, being the first, who built the temple of that name at Babylon; and, like the first, was deified after his death. It is probable, that he attracted their attention by his excursions into Syria and Palestine. He died B. c. 747.


This conqueror seems to have been the son of Pul. Sir Isaac Newton conjectures, and Mr. Hales concurs in the conjecture, that at Pul's death his dominions were divided between his two sons; when the sovereignty of Assyria was given to the elder, Tiglath-pileser; and the prefecture of Babylon to the younger, Nabonassar, from the date of whose government the celebrated era of that name took its rise, B. C. 747. The celebrated Semiramis, says the latter author, who built the walls of Babylon, according to Herodotus, might have been either the mother or the wife of Nabonassar.

In the seventh year of his reign, B. c. 740, Tiglath-pileser found an opportunity of interfering in the disturbances that broke out in Syria and Palestine. The cause of this interference is thus narrated by the sacred historian: "Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to war: and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drave the Jews from Elath: and the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day.

So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me. 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," 2 Kings xvi. 5—9.

This act fulfilled the prophecies of Amos:

"And the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the Lord." -Amos i. 5.

"Have not I brought up.............the Syrians from Kir?"-Amos ix. 7.

But the sacred historian says of Tiglath-pileser, that he distressed Ahaz, and strengthened him not, 2 Chron. xxviii. 21. At this time, indeed, he carried away the Transjordanite tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh, captives to Media, where he planted them in Halah, Habor, and on the river Gozan, 1 Chron. v. 26; and also the other half of Manasseh in Galilee, 2 Kings xv. 29, which acts were also in accordance with the sure word of prophecy:

"I hate, I despise your feast days,

And I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.

Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings,
I will not accept of them:

Neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.
Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs;

For I will not hear the melody of thy viols.

But let judgment run down as waters,

And righteousness as a mighty stream.

Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings

In the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?

But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch
And Chiun your images,

The star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.

Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus."

Or, as it is in the Acts of the Apostles:

Amos v. 21-27.

"I will carry you away beyond Babylon."—Acts vii. 43.

And again:

"Now therefore hear thou the word of the Lord: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac. Therefore thus saith the Lord;

Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city,

And thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword,
And thy land shall be divided by line;
And thou shalt die in a polluted land:

And Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.”

Amos vii. 16, 17.

Compare also 2 Kings xvi. 5-9, and Isa. viii. 1—11.


This prince is simply called Shalman in Hos. x. 14. He was the successor of Tiglath-pileser, and, according to Dr. Hales, his reign extended from 726 to 714 B. c.

In the fifth year of his reign, B. c. 722, the king of Israel having rebelled against him, Shalmaneser invaded Israel, and besieged Samaria, which he took, B. c. 719; and fulfilling the prophecies of Amos and the other prophets, referred to in a previous page, he transported the chief of the people of the seven western tribes beyond Assyria, and planted them in Media, 2 Kings xvii. 5, 6, whither his father had transplanted the Transjordanite, or eastern tribes. Thus was completed the captivity of the ten revolted tribes, in the course of twentyone years, that is, from 740 to 719 B. C.

On the policy of the Assyrian monarchs in transplanting their captives thither, Dr. Hales remarks: "The geographical position of Media was wisely chosen for the distribution of the great body of the captives; for, first, it was so remote, and so impeded and interspersed with great mountains and numerous and deep rivers, that it would be extremly difficult for them to escape from this natural prison, and return to their own country. And, second, they would also be opposed in their passage through Kir, or Assyria Proper, not only by the native Assyrians, but also by their enemies, the Syrians, transplanted there before them. And, third, the superior civilization of the Israelites, and their skill in agriculture and in the arts, would tend to civilize and improve those wild and barbarous regions. And, fourth, they could safely be allowed more liberty, and have their minds more at ease than if they were subject to a more rigorous confinement nearer to their native country."

The causes for the captivity of Israel are stated, 2 Kings xvii. 7—23, where the judgments, says the author of the Kings of Judah and Israel,* are fully vindicated, while the

*This work is published by the Religious Tract Society, and the reader is referred to it as containing the Jewish history of this period.

sins of Israel, and the extent to which they carried their idolatry, are strikingly delineated.

It may be mentioned, that the tribe of Naphtali is said to have been carried away by Tiglath-pileser, 2 Kings xv. 29. In the book of Tobit, however, the writer who was of that tribe, ascribes his captivity to Enemessar, or Shalmaneser. See Tobit i. 1, 2.

Besides the final subversion of the kingdom of Israel by this prince, Josephus preserves a passage from the archives of Tyre, from which it appears that the Assyrian king overrun Phenicia also, and received the submission of the whole country except Tyre. The elder Tyre, (Pale-tyrus,) Sidon, Acre, and other towns, seem to have been glad of the opportunity of exchanging the yoke of their neighbour for that of a foreign power; for they assisted the Assyrians with a fleet of sixty ships, which the Tyrians defeated with only twelve. ships. Upon this, Shalmaneser advanced to Tyre, and kept it in a state of blockade for five years, when his death occasioned the undertaking to be discontinued. He was succeeded in his kingdom by


whose reign, according to Hales, extended from 714 to 710 B. C. As soon as this prince was settled on the throne, he renewed a demand which had been exacted by his father from Hezekiah, king of Judah, and upon his refusal to comply, he declared war against him, and invaded Judah with a mighty army. Hezekiah acknowledged his offence, and offered to submit to any tribute the king should impose upon him. Accordingly, he paid the stipulated sum of 300 talents of silver, and thirty talents of gold, (in the whole amounting to 285,8127. sterling,) to raise which, he exhausted the royal and sacred treasuries, and stripped off the gold with which the doors and pillars of the temple were overlaid, which, to this pious king, must have been a grievious necessity indeed, 2 Kings xviii. 13—16.

The Assyrian monarch, however, regarding neither the sanctity of oaths nor treaties, still pushed on his conquests. Nothing was able to withstand his power, and Jerusalem was reduced to the utmost extremity. While he himself was ravaging the whole country, and reducing the important frontier towns toward Egypt, (which he determined to invade, because So, king of Egypt, had encouraged Hoshea to revolt,

ith promises of assistance he did not perform, and now, erhaps, renewed to Hezekiah, as may be gathered from Kings xviii. 21,) he sent three of his generals, Tartan, Rabiris, and Rabshakeh, with a great host, to besiege Jerusalem, nd to summon Hezekiah to surrender. They came to the ery walls, and there not only ridiculed his expectations om Egypt, but his faith in Jehovah. They also exhorted he people to desert their prince, and promised them plenty nd security, under the rule of their master; and threatened utter destruction unless they submitted to his yoke, 2 Kings viii. 17-35.

At this message from the Assyrian monarch, Hezekiah vas deeply distressed. He saw that the situation of himself and people was a very critical one, and that nothing but a lisplay of Divine power, manifested on behalf of Jerusalem, could save them. With outward tokens, therefore of humiliaion, and deep emotions of godly sorrow, he repaired to the emple, accompanied by his nobles, to seek that aid. From hence he sent to solicit the intercession of the prophet Isaiah on their behalf and received an immediate reply, that Sennacherib should be constrained to depart from them, and should lie by the sword, 2 Kings xix. 1-7.; Isa. xxxviii. 1—7.

At this critical juncture, Hezekiah fell sick of the plague. He was brought to the brink of the grave, and a message rom God bade him prepare to leave the world. In this disress, Hezekiah again resorted to prayer, and received in answer, a declaration, that on the third day he should be perFectly restored, and that fifteen years should be added to his Life. For the confirmation of his faith, the shadow of the sun was carried back ten degrees; that is, the light was protracted in a miraculous manner, in token of his recovery, 2 Kings xx. 1-11; Isa. xxxviii.

Shortly after this event, as we are told by Herodotus, the king of Assyria invaded Egypt, but without success. [See the History of the Egyptians, page 137.] His account, however, is evidently a caricature of the miraculous deliverance romised to Hezekiah, for the blasphemies of the Assyrians. · Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a Tumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land," 2 Kings xix. 7. See also Isa. xxxi. 8, 9.

The rumour which Sennacherib heard, was, that Tirhakah, king of Cush, or Arabian Ethiopia, was come out to fight against him on his passage homewards, 2 Kings xix. 9.

« PreviousContinue »