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2 Kings 16-17-18, Bible Highlights: week starting september 14

Highlights From Bible Reading: 2 Kings 16-18. Information for personal study.

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Research for Highlights of : 2 Kings 16-18


(2 KINGS 16:2)

“Aʹhaz was 20 years old when he became king, and he reigned for 16 years in Jerusalem. He did not do what was right in the eyes of Jehovah his God as David his forefather had done.”

*** it-1 p. 61 Ahaz ***
1. The son of King Jotham of Judah. Ahaz began to reign at the age of 20 and continued for 16 years.—2Ki 16:2; 2Ch 28:1.
Since Ahaz’ son Hezekiah was 25 when he began to reign, this would mean that Ahaz was less than 12 years old when fathering him. (2Ki 18:1, 2) Whereas puberty in males is usually reached between the ages of 12 and 15 in temperate climates, it may come earlier in warmer climates. Marriage customs also vary. Zeitschrift für Semitistik und verwandte Gebiete (edited by E. Littmann, Leipzig, 1927, Vol. 5, p. 132) reported that child marriage is frequent in the Promised Land even in modern times, one case being cited of two brothers aged 8 and 12 who were married, the wife of the older attending school with her husband. However, one Hebrew manuscript, the Syriac Peshitta, and some manuscripts of the Greek Septuagint at 2 Chronicles 28:1 give “twenty-five years” as the age of Ahaz when beginning to reign.

(2 KINGS 16:3)

“Instead, he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and he even made his own son pass through the fire, following the detestable practices of the nations that Jehovah had driven out from before the Israelites.”

*** ip-1 chap. 1 p. 8 An Ancient Prophet With a Modern Message ***
Some say that to “pass through the fire” may simply indicate a purification ceremony. It seems, though, that in this context the phrase refers to a literal sacrifice. There is no question that child sacrifice was practiced by Canaanites and apostate Israelites.—Deuteronomy 12:31; Psalm 106:37, 38.

*** ip-1 chap. 1 p. 8 par. 7 An Ancient Prophet With a Modern Message ***
Ahaz, for instance, not only tolerated idolatry among his subjects but personally engaged in it, making his own offspring “pass through the fire” in a ritual sacrifice to the Canaanite god Molech. (2 Kings 16:3, 4; 2 Chronicles 28:3, 4)

*** w97 7/15 p. 14 par. 3 Are You Pursuing Virtue? ***
His father, King Ahaz of Judah, evidently worshiped Molech. “Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and for sixteen years he reigned in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the eyes of Jehovah his God like David his forefather. And he went walking in the way of the kings of Israel, and even his own son he made pass through the fire, according to the detestable things of the nations whom Jehovah drove out because of the sons of Israel. And he kept sacrificing and making sacrificial smoke on the high places and upon the hills and under every luxuriant tree.” (2 Kings 16:2-4) Some claim that ‘passing through the fire’ signified some sort of purification ritual and not human sacrifice. However, the book Molech—A God of Human Sacrifice in the Old Testament, by John Day, observes: “There is evidence in classical and Punic [Carthaginian] sources, as well as archaeological evidence, for the existence of human sacrifice . . . in the Canaanite world, and so there is no reason to doubt the Old Testament allusions [to human sacrifice].” Furthermore, 2 Chronicles 28:3 specifically says that Ahaz “proceeded to burn up his sons in the fire.” (Compare Deuteronomy 12:31; Psalm 106:37, 38.) What wicked acts!

(2 KINGS 16:6)

“At that time King Reʹzin of Syria restored Eʹlath to Eʹdom, after which he drove the Jews out of Eʹlath. And the Eʹdom•ites entered Eʹlath, and they have occupied it down to this day.”

*** it-1 p. 704 Elath ***
Then, during the rule of Ahaz (761-746 B.C.E.), it was wrested from Judah by the Syrians and was reoccupied by the Edomites, thereafter never returning to the Judeans. (2Ki 16:6) The Masoretic text here reads “Syria” or “Aram” (Heb., ʼAramʹ) instead of “Edom” (ʼEdhohmʹ). Most current scholars, however, accept the latter reading, in the margin, believing that a scribe confused the Hebrew letter daʹleth (ד) with the similar-shaped letter rehsh (ר).

(2 KINGS 16:9)

“The king of As•syrʹi•a responded to his request, and he went up to Damascus and captured it and led its people into exile to Kir, and he put Reʹzin to death.”

*** it-1 p. 414 Captivity ***
Assyria, it seems, was the first to introduce the policy of uprooting and removing the entire populations of captured towns from their homeland and repopulating the territory with captives from other parts of the empire. This deportation policy of Assyria was not enforced against only the Jews, for when Damascus, the capital of Syria, fell under the crushing military onslaught of this second world power, its people were banished to Kir, as foretold by the prophet Amos. (2Ki 16:8, 9; Am 1:5) The practice had a twofold effect: It discouraged the few remaining ones from subversive activity; and the surrounding nations that may have been friendly with those taken captive were less inclined to give aid and assistance to the new foreign element brought in from distant places.

*** it-1 p. 572 Damascus ***
During the reign of King Ahaz of Judah (761-746 B.C.E.), Rezin of Damascus, in league with Pekah of Israel, swept through Judah to Elath on the Gulf of ʽAqaba. This so frightened King Ahaz that he sent a bribe to Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria, asking him to divert Syrian pressure from Judah. With alacrity, the Assyrian attacked Damascus, captured it, put Rezin to death, and exiled many of the Damascenes. (2Ki 16:5-9; 2Ch 28:5, 16) Thereby Jehovah’s prophecies through Isaiah and Amos were fulfilled (Isa 8:4; 10:5, 8, 9; Am 1:3-5),

*** it-1 p. 1047 Hazael ***
However, Shalmaneser III evidently failed to take Damascus itself. This was apparently left for Tiglath-pileser III to accomplish, in the days of Syrian King Rezin. This fulfilled Jehovah’s prophecy through Amos: “I will send a fire onto the house of Hazael, and it must devour the dwelling towers of Ben-hadad. And I will break the bar of Damascus.”—Am 1:4, 5; 2Ki 16:9.

*** it-1 p. 1219 Isaiah ***
The name given to the boy by God’s command was Maher-shalal-hash-baz, meaning “Hurry, O Spoil! He Has Made Haste to the Plunder; or, Hurrying to the Spoil, He Has Made Haste to the Plunder.” It was said that before this son would know how to call out, “My father!” and “My mother!” the threat to Judah existing from the conspiracy of Syria and the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel would be removed.—Isa 8:1-4.
The prophecy indicated that relief would come to Judah soon; relief did come when Assyria interfered with the campaign against Judah by King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel. The Assyrians captured Damascus and, later, in 740 B.C.E., despoiled and destroyed the kingdom of Israel, fully carrying out the prophetic meaning of the boy’s name. (2Ki 16:5-9; 17:1-6) However, instead of trusting in Jehovah, King Ahaz tried to stave off the threat made by Syria and Israel, resorting to bribery of the king of Assyria to gain his protection. Because of this, Jehovah allowed Assyria to become a great threat to Judah and actually to flood into the land right up to Jerusalem itself, as Isaiah had warned.—Isa 7:17-20.

*** it-2 p. 174 Kir ***
KIR
The place from which the Aramaeans came to Syria, although not necessarily their original home. (Am 9:7) Through his prophet Amos (1:5), Jehovah indicated that the Aramaeans would return to Kir, but as exiles. This prophecy was fulfilled when Tiglath-pileser III, after being bribed by Judean King Ahaz to do so, captured Damascus, the Aramaean capital, and led its inhabitants into exile at Kir.—2Ki 16:7-9.

(2 KINGS 16:10)

“Then King Aʹhaz went to meet King Tigʹlath-pil•eʹser of As•syrʹi•a at Damascus. When he saw the altar that was in Damascus, King Aʹhaz sent U•riʹjah the priest a plan of the altar, showing its pattern and how it was made.”

*** it-1 p. 62 Ahaz ***
As a vassal king, Ahaz was apparently summoned to Damascus to render homage to Tiglath-pileser III and, while in that city, admired the pagan altar there, copied its design, and had priest Urijah build a duplicate to be placed before the temple in Jerusalem. Ahaz then presumed to offer sacrifices on this “great altar.” The original copper altar was set to one side until the king should decide what use to make of it. (2Ki 16:10-16)

*** it-1 p. 204 Assyria ***
Additionally, Judah was now in a subservient position toward Assyria, and Ahaz of Judah traveled to Damascus, which had also fallen to the Assyrians, and evidently rendered homage to Tiglath-pileser.—2Ki 15:29; 16:5-10,

(2 KINGS 16:18)

“And the covered structure for the Sabbath that had been built in the house and the king’s outer entryway he shifted away from the house of Jehovah; he did so because of the king of As•syrʹi•a.”

*** it-1 p. 62 Ahaz ***
Meanwhile he mutilated much of the copper temple equipment and rearranged other features in the temple area all “because of the king of Assyria,” perhaps to pay the heavy tribute imposed on Judah or possibly to conceal some of the temple wealth from the greedy Assyrian’s eyes. The temple doors were closed and Ahaz “made altars for himself at every corner in Jerusalem.”—2Ki 16:17, 18; 2Ch 28:23-25.

(2 KINGS 17:1)

“In the 12th year of King Aʹhaz of Judah, Ho•sheʹa the son of Eʹlah became king over Israel in Sa•marʹi•a; he ruled for nine years.”

*** si p. 149 par. 4 Bible Book Number 30—Amos ***
The last stronghold of Israel, the fortified city of Samaria, after being besieged by the Assyrian army under Shalmaneser V, fell in the year 740 B.C.E. (2 Ki. 17:1-6)

*** it-1 pp. 1148-1149 Hoshea ***
4. Last king of the northern kingdom of Israel, which came to its end in 740 B.C.E.; son of Elah. He did what was bad in Jehovah’s sight, yet not to the same degree as his predecessors. (2Ki 17:1, 2) Hoshea had no hereditary claim to the throne, nor did he receive a special anointing from God to be king. Rather, it was by conspiracy against and murder of King Pekah that the usurper Hoshea gained the throne. Second Kings 15:30 states that Hoshea put Pekah to death and “began to reign in place of him in the twentieth year of Jotham.” Since Judean King Jotham is credited with only 16 years (2Ki 15:32, 33; 2Ch 27:1, 8), this may refer to the 20th year counting from the start of Jotham’s kingship, which would actually be the fourth year of the reign of Jotham’s successor Ahaz.—See JOTHAM No. 3.
It appears that Hoshea was not fully recognized as king over Israel until sometime later, however. Second Kings 17:1 states that, in the 12th year of Ahaz, Hoshea “became king in Samaria over Israel for nine years.” So, it may be that at this point Hoshea was able to establish full control from Samaria. Possibly Assyrian backing at this point aided him, for the records of Assyrian King Tiglath-pileser III make the claim that he put Hoshea on the throne.—See chart “Outstanding Dates During the Period of the Kings of Judah and of Israel” in CHRONOLOGY article.

(2 KINGS 17:5)

“The king of As•syrʹi•a invaded the entire land, and he came to Sa•marʹi•a and laid siege to it for three years.”

*** w88 2/15 p. 27 Part 2—Cruel Assyria—The Second Great World Power ***
Shalmaneser V, who succeeded Tiglath-pileser, invaded the northern ten-tribe kingdom of Israel and laid siege to its well-fortified capital Samaria. After a three-year siege, Samaria fell (in 740 B.C.E.), as Jehovah’s prophets had said would happen.—Micah 1:1, 6; 2 Kings 17:5.

(2 KINGS 17:6)

“In the ninth year of Ho•sheʹa, the king of As•syrʹi•a captured Sa•marʹi•a. He then led the people of Israel into exile in As•syrʹi•a and made them dwell in Haʹlah and in Haʹbor at the river Goʹzan and in the cities of the Medes.”

*** si p. 145 par. 14 Bible Book Number 28—Hosea ***
Israel was deserted by her lovers among the idolatrous neighbor nations and reaped the whirlwind of destruction from Assyria in 740 B.C.E. (Hos. 8:7-10; 2 Ki. 15:20; 17:3-6, 18)

*** si p. 156 par. 4 Bible Book Number 33—Micah ***
Samaria was ruined by the Assyrians in 740 B.C.E. when they took the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity. (2 Ki. 17:5, 6)

*** gm chap. 4 pp. 47-48 par. 20 How Believable Is the “Old Testament”? ***
20 Then, in the year 740 B.C.E., God allowed the rebellious northern kingdom of Israel to be destroyed by the Assyrians. (2 Kings 17:6-18) Speaking of the Bible account of this event, archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon comments: “One might have a suspicion that some of this is hyperbole.” But is it? She adds: “The archaeological evidence of the fall of the kingdom of Israel is almost more vivid than that of the Biblical record. . . . The complete obliteration of the Israelite towns of Samaria and Hazor and the accompanying destruction of Megiddo is the factual archaeological evidence that the [Bible] writer was not exaggerating.”11

*** w88 2/15 p. 27 Part 2—Cruel Assyria—The Second Great World Power ***
Sargon II succeeded Shalmaneser and may have completed the conquest of Samaria, as the beginning of his reign is said to coincide with the year the city fell. The Bible says that after Samaria fell, the king of Assyria “led Israel into exile in Assyria.” (2 Kings 17:6) An Assyrian inscription, found at Khorsabad, confirms this. On it Sargon states: “I besieged and conquered Samaria, led away as booty 27,290 inhabitants of it.”

*** it-1 p. 62 Ahaz ***
With regard to the “sixty-five years” at Isaiah 7:8, which Isaiah prophesied would be the period within which Ephraim would be “shattered to pieces,” the Commentary on the Whole Bible (by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown) states: “One deportation of Israel happened within one or two years from this time [the time of Isaiah’s prophecy], under Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15. 29). Another in the reign of Hoshea, under Shalmaneser (2 Kings 17. 1-6), was about twenty years after. But the final one which utterly ‘broke’ up Israel so as to be ‘not a people,’ accompanied by a colonization of Samaria with foreigners, was under Esar-haddon, who carried away Manasseh, king of Judah, also, in the twenty-second year of his reign, sixty-five years from the utterance of this prophecy (cf. Ezra 4.2, 3, 10, with 2 Kings 17.24; 2 Chronicles 33.11).”

*** it-1 p. 100 Amos, Book of ***
The highly fortified city of Samaria itself was besieged and captured in 740 B.C.E., and the Assyrian army took the inhabitants “into exile beyond Damascus,” as foretold by Amos. (Am 5:27; 2Ki 17:5, 6)

*** it-1 p. 993 Gozan ***
At 2 Kings 17:6 and 18:11 some translations read “Habor, the river of Gozan” (AS, RS), instead of “Habor at [or, by] the river Gozan” (NW, Yg), thus also making Gozan a place in these texts. But the rendering “Habor, the river of Gozan,” does not harmonize with 1 Chronicles 5:26. In this passage Habor is listed between Halah and Hara; and Hara, not Habor, is listed before Gozan. This indicates that Habor and “the river of Gozan” (AS) are not synonymous. Hence, those who identify Gozan as a place throughout are obliged to reject the Chronicles reference. However, since the Hebrew allows for a consistent rendering of “river Gozan” in all three texts, there is reason to believe that it was in the vicinity of a river called Gozan that the king of Assyria settled some of the exiled Israelites of the northern kingdom. The Qezel Owzan of NW Iran has been suggested as a possible identification of “the river Gozan.” It rises in the mountains SE of Lake Urmia (in what used to be the land of the Medes) and finally empties as the Sefid Rud or White River (the name applied to its lower course) into the SW section of the Caspian Sea. According to another view, the Gozan is a river of Mesopotamia.

*** it-1 p. 1014 Habor ***
HABOR
(Haʹbor).
A city or district to which the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III exiled numerous Israelites of the ten-tribe kingdom. (1Ch 5:26) Some scholars have linked this Habor with Abhar, a town located on the Qezel Owzan River of NW Iran about 210 km (130 mi) W of Tehran. At 2 Kings 17:6 and 18:11 some favor the reading “Habor, the river of Gozan” (AS, RS), and they suggest identifying the Habor with a tributary of the Euphrates, the Khabur River of SE Turkey and NE Syria. However, in agreement with 1 Chronicles 5:26, this phrase may instead be translated “Habor at [or, by] the river Gozan.”—NW, Yg; see GOZAN.

*** it-1 p. 1148 Hosea, Book of ***
Fulfilled Prophecies. The prophetic words of Hosea 13:16 concerning Samaria’s fall were fulfilled. Hosea’s prophecy also showed that Israel would be deserted by her lovers among the nations. (Ho 8:7-10) Indeed, they were of no assistance when Samaria was destroyed and inhabitants of Israel became Assyrian captives in 740 B.C.E.—2Ki 17:3-6.

(2 KINGS 17:10)

“They kept setting up for themselves sacred pillars and sacred poles on every high hill and under every luxuriant tree;”

*** it-2 p. 835 Sacred Pole ***
Both Israel and Judah disregarded God’s express command not to set up sacred pillars and sacred poles; they placed them upon “every high hill and under every luxuriant tree” alongside the altars used for sacrifice. It has been suggested that the poles represented the female principle, whereas the pillars represented the male principle. These appendages of idolatry, likely phallic symbols, were associated with grossly immoral sex orgies, as is indicated by the reference to male prostitutes being in the land as early as Rehoboam’s reign. (1Ki 14:22-24; 2Ki 17:10) Only seldom did kings such as Hezekiah (and Josiah) come along, who “removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars to pieces and cut down the sacred pole.”—2Ki 18:4; 2Ch 34:7.

(2 KINGS 17:16)

“They kept leaving all the commandments of Jehovah their God, and they made metal statues of two calves and a sacred pole, and they bowed down to all the army of the heavens and served Baʹal.”

*** it-1 p. 229 Baal ***
There are indications that Baal and other gods and goddesses of the Canaanite pantheon were associated in the minds of their worshipers with certain heavenly bodies. For instance, one of the Ras Shamra texts mentions an offering to “Queen Shapash (the Sun) and to the stars,” and another alludes to “the army of the sun and the host of the day.”
It is, therefore, noteworthy that the Bible makes several references to the heavenly bodies in connection with Baal worship. Describing the wayward course of the kingdom of Israel, the Scriptural record states: “They kept leaving all the commandments of Jehovah . . . , and they began to bow down to all the army of the heavens and to serve Baal.” (2Ki 17:16)

(2 KINGS 17:18)

“So Jehovah was very angry with Israel, so that he removed them from his sight. He did not let any remain but the tribe of Judah alone.”

*** si p. 145 par. 14 Bible Book Number 28—Hosea ***
Israel was deserted by her lovers among the idolatrous neighbor nations and reaped the whirlwind of destruction from Assyria in 740 B.C.E. (Hos. 8:7-10; 2 Ki. 15:20; 17:3-6, 18) However, Hosea had foretold that Jehovah would show mercy to Judah and save her, but not by military might. This was fulfilled when Jehovah’s angel slew 185,000 of the Assyrians threatening Jerusalem. (Hos. 1:7; 2 Ki. 19:34, 35)

(2 KINGS 17:21)

“He ripped Israel away from the house of David, and they made Jer•o•boʹam the son of Neʹbat king. But Jer•o•boʹam caused Israel to stray from following Jehovah, and he caused them to commit a great sin.”

*** it-1 p. 1231 Israel ***
During the next 390 years following the death of Solomon and the breaking up of the united kingdom and on down to the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., the term “Israel” usually applied only to the ten tribes under the rule of the northern kingdom. (2Ki 17:21-23)

(2 KINGS 17:24)

“The king of As•syrʹi•a then brought people from Babylon, Cuʹthah, Avʹva, Haʹmath, and Seph•ar•vaʹim and settled them in the cities of Sa•marʹi•a in place of the Israelites; they took possession of Sa•marʹi•a and lived in its cities.”

*** w88 2/15 p. 27 Part 2—Cruel Assyria—The Second Great World Power ***
The Bible further says that after the Israelites were moved out, the king of Assyria brought people from other regions “and had them dwell in the cities of Samaria instead of the sons of Israel; and they began to take possession of Samaria and to dwell in its cities.”—2 Kings 17:24.
Do Assyrian records confirm this too? Yes, Sargon’s own annals, recorded on the Nimrud Prism, say: “I restored the city of Samaria . . . I brought into it people from the countries conquered by my own hands.”—Illustrations of Old Testament History, R. D. Barnett, page 52.

*** it-1 p. 62 Ahaz ***
With regard to the “sixty-five years” at Isaiah 7:8, which Isaiah prophesied would be the period within which Ephraim would be “shattered to pieces,” the Commentary on the Whole Bible (by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown) states: “One deportation of Israel happened within one or two years from this time [the time of Isaiah’s prophecy], under Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15. 29). Another in the reign of Hoshea, under Shalmaneser (2 Kings 17. 1-6), was about twenty years after. But the final one which utterly ‘broke’ up Israel so as to be ‘not a people,’ accompanied by a colonization of Samaria with foreigners, was under Esar-haddon, who carried away Manasseh, king of Judah, also, in the twenty-second year of his reign, sixty-five years from the utterance of this prophecy (cf. Ezra 4.2, 3, 10, with 2 Kings 17.24; 2 Chronicles 33.11).”

*** it-1 p. 204 Assyria ***
It was perhaps first during Sargon’s reign that people from Babylon and Syria were brought into Samaria to repopulate it, the Assyrian king later sending an Israelite priest back from exile to instruct them in “the religion of the God of the land.”—2Ki 17:24-28; see SAMARIA No. 2; SAMARITAN.

*** it-1 p. 222 Avvites ***
AVVITES
(Avʹvites).
Inhabitants of Avva, who were among the peoples whom the Assyrians used to replace exiled Israelites after capturing Samaria in 740 B.C.E. (2Ki 17:24) All these transplanted inhabitants came to be known as Samaritans.

*** it-1 p. 1233 Israel ***
The policy of the Assyrians, inaugurated by Shalmaneser’s predecessor Tiglath-pileser III, was to remove captives from conquered territory and transplant in their place peoples from other parts of the empire. Thus, future uprisings were discouraged. In this instance the other national groups brought into Israel’s territory eventually became intermingled both racially and religiously and were known thereafter as Samaritans.—2Ki 17:24-33; Ezr 4:1, 2, 9, 10; Lu 9:52; Joh 4:7-43.

(2 KINGS 17:26)

“It was reported to the king of As•syrʹi•a: “The nations that you have taken into exile and resettled in the cities of Sa•marʹi•a do not know the religion of the God of the land. So he keeps sending lions among them, which are putting them to death, because none of them know the religion of the God of the land.””

*** it-2 p. 847 Samaria ***
Lions began to multiply in the land, probably because the land, or a large part of it, had lain waste for a time. (Compare Ex 23:29.) The settlers doubtless felt, superstitiously, that it was because they did not understand how to worship the god of the land. Therefore the king of Assyria sent back a calf-worshiping Israelite priest from exile. He taught the settlers about Jehovah, but in the same manner as Jeroboam had done, so that they learned something about Jehovah but actually continued to worship their own false gods.—2Ki 17:24-41.

(2 KINGS 17:28)

“So one of the priests whom they had taken into exile from Sa•marʹi•a came back to live in Bethʹel, and he began to teach them how they should fear Jehovah.”

*** it-1 p. 297 Bethel ***
Bethel continued as an idolatrous sanctuary till the fall of the northern kingdom to Assyria in 740 B.C.E. Thus Jeremiah, over a century later, could refer to it as a warning example to those trusting in false gods to their eventual shame. (Jer 48:13) Even thereafter Bethel continued as a religious center, for the king of Assyria sent one of the exiled priests back to Israel to teach the lion-plagued people “the religion of the God of the land,” and this priest settled in Bethel, teaching the people “as to how they ought to fear Jehovah.” The results clearly indicate that he was a priest of the golden calf, since “it was of Jehovah that they became fearers, but it was of their own gods that they proved to be worshipers,” and things continued on the same false and idolatrous basis initiated by Jeroboam.—2Ki 17:25, 27-33.

(2 KINGS 17:29)

“However, each different nation made their own god, which they placed in the houses of worship on the high places that the Sa•marʹi•tans had made; each different nation did so in their cities where they were living.”

*** it-1 p. 1025 Hamath ***
In the eighth century B.C.E. Hamath and her neighbors, including the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, were overrun by the Assyrians in their sweep to world domination. Assyria’s policy was to exchange and relocate her captives, and so people of Hamath were brought in to replace inhabitants of Samaria who, in turn, were moved to Hamath and other places. (2Ki 17:24; 19:12, 13; Isa 10:9-11; 37:12, 13) In the high places of Samaria, the Hamathites then set up images of their god Ashima, even though this worthless god had proved to be helpless against the Assyrians.—2Ki 17:29, 30; 18:33, 34; Isa 36:18, 19.

*** it-2 p. 847 Samaritan ***
SAMARITAN
(Sa•marʹi•tan) [probably, Of (Belonging to) Samaria].
The term “Samaritans” first appeared in Scripture after the conquest of the ten-tribe kingdom of Samaria in 740 B.C.E.; it was applied to those who lived in the northern kingdom before that conquest as distinct from the foreigners later brought in from other parts of the Assyrian Empire. (2Ki 17:29)

(2 KINGS 17:30)

“So the men of Babylon made Sucʹcoth-beʹnoth, the men of Cuth made Nerʹgal, the men of Haʹmath made A•shiʹma,”

*** it-1 p. 192 Ashima ***
ASHIMA
(A•shiʹma).
A deity worshiped by the people from Hamath whom the king of Assyria settled in Samaria after his taking the Israelites into captivity. (2Ki 17:24, 30) Ashima, according to the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 63b), was represented as a hairless he-goat, and for this reason some have identified Ashima with Pan, a pastoral god of fertility. Another suggestion is that the name Ashima may be a deliberate alteration of “Asherah” (the Canaanite fertility goddess) to combine it with the Hebrew word ʼa•shamʹ (“guilt”; Ge 26:10). However, nothing can be stated with any certainty aside from what is contained in the Bible.

*** it-1 p. 562 Cuth, Cuthah ***
CUTH, CUTHAH
(Cuʹthah).
Both “Cuth” and “Cuthah” refer to the same original home of a people moved by the king of Assyria to the cities of Samaria after Israel’s exiling in 740 B.C.E. (2Ki 17:23, 24, 30) The deportees from Cuthah and other locations were, however, plagued with man-killing lions and, on appealing to the Assyrian king for aid, were supplied with a priest formerly of the northern kingdom of Israel. Since the worship practiced in Israel had long been disapproved by God (1Ki 13:33, 34; 16:31-33), this priest’s services failed to produce genuine worshipers of Jehovah, so that “it was of their own gods that [the colonists] proved to be worshipers,” those from Cuthah continuing to serve their god Nergal. The race formed by the intermarrying of the ‘people of Cuthah’ and other nations with the remaining Israelites came to be generally called “Samaritan.” According to Josephus, these were “called Chuthaioi (Cuthim) in the Hebrew tongue, and Samareitai (Samaritans) by the Greeks.” (Jewish Antiquities, IX, 290 [xiv, 3]) The designation “Cuthim” was apparently used because of the predominance of people from Cuthah among the original settlers.—2Ki 17:24-41.
The discovery of contract tablets at Tell Ibrahim (Imam Ibrahim), about 50 km (30 mi) NE of Babylon, containing the name Kutu (the Akkadian equivalent of Cuth), has led most geographers to identify Tell Ibrahim with the Biblical Cuthah. The indications are that Cuthah was at one time among the more important cities in the Babylonian Empire and was also probably quite extensive, as the mound marking it today is some 18 m (60 ft) high and 3 km (2 mi) in circumference. What is believed to have been the site of an ancient temple dedicated to Nergal is pointed out amid these ruins in accord with the Biblical statement that “the men of Cuth” were devotees of that god.—2Ki 17:29, 30.

*** it-2 p. 493 Nergal ***
NERGAL
(Nerʹgal).
A Babylonian deity especially worshiped at Cuthah, a city that history says was dedicated to Nergal. The people of Cuth (Cuthah), whom the king of Assyria settled in the territory of Samaria, continued worshiping this deity. (2Ki 17:24, 30, 33) Some scholars suggest that Nergal was originally associated with fire and the heat of the sun and that later he came to be regarded as a god of war and hunting as well as a bringer of pestilence. The appellatives applied to Nergal in religious texts indicate that he was basically viewed as a destroyer. He is called “the raging king,” “the violent one,” and “the one who burns.” Nergal also came to be regarded as the god of the underworld and the consort of Eresh-Kigal. The human-headed and winged lion is thought to have been the emblem of Nergal.

(2 KINGS 17:31)

“and the Avʹvites made Nibʹhaz and Tarʹtak. The Seʹphar•vites would burn their sons in the fire to A•dramʹme•lech and A•namʹme•lech, the gods of Seph•ar•vaʹim.”

*** it-2 p. 1068 Tartak ***
TARTAK
(Tarʹtak).
A deity worshiped by the Avvites, whom the king of Assyria settled in the territory of Samaria after he took the Israelites of the ten-tribe kingdom into exile. (2Ki 17:31) According to the Babylonian Talmud, Tartak had the form of an ass. (Sanhedrin 63b) Based on the conclusion that the name Tartak may be comparable to the Pahlavi (Persian) word tar-thakh (intense darkness, hero of darkness), it has been suggested that Tartak may have been a demon of the lower regions. Aside from the brief reference to Tartak in the Scriptures, however, nothing can be stated with any certainty concerning the nature of this deity.

(2 KINGS 17:41)

“So these nations came to fear Jehovah, but they were also serving their own graven images. Both their sons and their grandsons have done just as their forefathers did, down to this day.”

*** w90 12/1 pp. 3-4 Which God Do You Worship? ***
Fusion Worship
Take the example of the ancient Samaritans. Many of these were originally foreigners that the Assyrians introduced into Palestine to replace the exiled ten northern tribes of Israel. Previously, they had followed pagan gods, but now they made an effort to learn about Jehovah, the God of Israel. Did they then abandon their old religion? No. The Bible reports: “It was according to their former religion that they were doing. And these nations came to be fearers of Jehovah, but it was their own graven images that they proved to be serving.” (2 Kings 17:40, 41) So the Samaritans, while nominally recognizing Jehovah, still served their old gods, thus practicing a kind of fusion religion.

(2 KINGS 18:1)

“In the third year of Ho•sheʹa the son of Eʹlah the king of Israel, Hez•e•kiʹah the son of King Aʹhaz of Judah became king.”

*** it-1 p. 1102 Hezekiah ***
1. King of Judah, 745-717 B.C.E. He apparently became king when his father Ahaz died, in “the third year of Hoshea” king of Israel (perhaps meaning Hoshea’s third year as tributary king under Tiglath-pileser III), counting his reign officially from Nisan of the following year (745 B.C.E.). (2Ki 18:1)

(2 KINGS 18:2)

“He was 25 years old when he became king, and he reigned for 29 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Aʹbi the daughter of Zech•a•riʹah.”

*** it-1 p. 61 Ahaz ***
1. The son of King Jotham of Judah. Ahaz began to reign at the age of 20 and continued for 16 years.—2Ki 16:2; 2Ch 28:1.
Since Ahaz’ son Hezekiah was 25 when he began to reign, this would mean that Ahaz was less than 12 years old when fathering him. (2Ki 18:1, 2) Whereas puberty in males is usually reached between the ages of 12 and 15 in temperate climates, it may come earlier in warmer climates. Marriage customs also vary. Zeitschrift für Semitistik und verwandte Gebiete (edited by E. Littmann, Leipzig, 1927, Vol. 5, p. 132) reported that child marriage is frequent in the Promised Land even in modern times, one case being cited of two brothers aged 8 and 12 who were married, the wife of the older attending school with her husband. However, one Hebrew manuscript, the Syriac Peshitta, and some manuscripts of the Greek Septuagint at 2 Chronicles 28:1 give “twenty-five years” as the age of Ahaz when beginning to reign.

(2 KINGS 18:4)

“He was the one who removed the high places, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the sacred pole. He also crushed the copper serpent that Moses had made; for down to that time the people of Israel had been making sacrificial smoke to it and it used to be called the copper serpent-idol.”

*** it-1 p. 505 Copper Serpent ***
The Israelites kept the copper serpent and later improperly began to worship it, making sacrificial smoke to it. Hence, as part of his religious reforms, Judean King Hezekiah (745-717 B.C.E.) had the more than 700-year-old copper serpent crushed to pieces because the people had made an idol of it. According to the Hebrew text, the account at 2 Kings 18:4 literally reads, “he (one) began to call it Nehushtan.” Some translations leave the word “Nehushtan” untranslated. (AT; Ro; RS) In Koehler and Baumgartner’s lexicon, suggested meanings of the Hebrew term nechush•tanʹ are “bronze serpent” and “serpent-idol of bronze.” (Hebräisches und Aramäisches Lexikon zum Alten Testament, Leiden, 1983, p. 653) The New World Translation appropriately says that the copper serpent “used to be called the copper serpent-idol.”

(2 KINGS 18:5)

“He trusted in Jehovah the God of Israel; there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah after him nor among those prior to him.”

*** it-1 p. 1102 Hezekiah ***
Hezekiah was outstanding as a king who “kept sticking to Jehovah,” doing what was right in Jehovah’s eyes and following his commandments. From the beginning of his reign he proved himself zealous for the promotion of true worship, not only in Judah but in all the territory of Israel. In following the ways of Jehovah as David his forefather had done, it could be said of Hezekiah that “after him there proved to be no one like him among all the kings of Judah, even those who had happened to be prior to him.” For this “Jehovah proved to be with him.”—2Ki 18:3-7.

(2 KINGS 18:6)

“He held fast to Jehovah. He did not turn away from following him; he continued to keep the commandments that Jehovah had given to Moses.”

*** it-1 p. 1102 Hezekiah ***
Hezekiah was outstanding as a king who “kept sticking to Jehovah,” doing what was right in Jehovah’s eyes and following his commandments. From the beginning of his reign he proved himself zealous for the promotion of true worship, not only in Judah but in all the territory of Israel. In following the ways of Jehovah as David his forefather had done, it could be said of Hezekiah that “after him there proved to be no one like him among all the kings of Judah, even those who had happened to be prior to him.” For this “Jehovah proved to be with him.”—2Ki 18:3-7.

(2 KINGS 18:8)

“He also defeated the Phi•lisʹtines clear to Gazʹa and its territories, from watchtower to fortified city.”

*** it-1 p. 901 Gaza ***
From this time onward, Gaza appears to have been generally loyal to Assyria. Hence, it may be that King Hezekiah’s striking down the Philistines as far as Gaza was a phase of his revolt against Assyria. (2Ki 18:1, 7, 8)

*** it-2 pp. 633-634 Philistia ***
Prophetic References. The prophecy of Joel indicated that because of their selling “the sons of Judah” and “the sons of Jerusalem” to “the sons of the Greeks,” the Philistines would experience like treatment. (Joe 3:4-8) Since the words of the prophet Joel appear to have been recorded in the ninth century B.C.E., the defeats of the Philistines at the hands of Uzziah (2Ch 26:6-8) and Hezekiah (2Ki 18:8) could have been included in the fulfillment of this prophecy.
However, a larger fulfillment evidently came after the Israelites returned from Babylonian exile. Notes commentator C. F. Keil: “Alexander the Great and his successors set many of the Jewish prisoners of war in their lands at liberty (compare the promise of King Demetrius to Jonathan, ‘I will send away in freedom such of the Judaeans as have been made prisoners, and reduced to slavery in our land,’ Josephus, Ant. xiii. 2, 3), and portions of the Philistian and Phoenician lands were for a time under Jewish sway.” (Commentary on the Old Testament, 1973, Vol. X, Joel, p. 224) (Compare Ob 19, 20.) Noteworthy, too, is the fact that Alexander the Great took the Philistine city of Gaza. Many of the inhabitants were slain, and the survivors were sold into slavery. A number of other prophecies likewise pointed to the execution of Jehovah’s vengeance upon the Philistines.—Isa 14:31; Jer 25:9, 20; 47:1-7; Eze 25:15, 16; Am 1:6-8; Zep 2:5; Zec 9:5-7; for details see ASHDOD; ASHKELON; EKRON; GATH; GAZA No. 1.

(2 KINGS 18:9)

“In the fourth year of King Hez•e•kiʹah, that is, the seventh year of Ho•sheʹa the son of Eʹlah the king of Israel, King Shal•man•eʹser of As•syrʹi•a came up against Sa•marʹi•a and began to lay siege to it.”

*** it-1 p. 415 Captivity ***
In 742 B.C.E. the Assyrian army under Shalmaneser V besieged Samaria. (2Ki 18:9,

*** it-2 p. 865 Sargon ***
In his annals Sargon made the claim: “I besieged and conquered Samaria (Sa-me-ri-na).” (Ancient Near Eastern Texts, edited by James B. Pritchard, 1974, p. 284) However, that appears to be simply a boastful claim by Sargon or those who sought to glorify him, in which the accomplishment of the preceding ruler was claimed for the new monarch. A Babylonian chronicle, which may be more neutral, states concerning Shalmaneser V: “He ravaged Samaria.” (Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, by A. K. Grayson, 1975, p. 73) The Bible, at 2 Kings 18:9, 10, states simply that Shalmaneser ‘laid siege’ to Samaria and that “they got to capture it.” Compare 2 Kings 17:1-6, which says that Shalmaneser the king of Assyria imposed tribute on Hoshea, the king of Samaria, and then states that later “the king of Assyria captured Samaria.”

(2 KINGS 18:10)

“They captured it at the end of three years; in the sixth year of Hez•e•kiʹah, which was the ninth year of King Ho•sheʹa of Israel, Sa•marʹi•a was captured.”

*** it-1 p. 415 Captivity ***
In 742 B.C.E. the Assyrian army under Shalmaneser V besieged Samaria. (2Ki 18:9, 10) When Samaria fell in 740 B.C.E., thus ending the ten-tribe kingdom, its inhabitants were taken into exile “in Halah and in Habor at the river Gozan and in the cities of the Medes.” This was because, as the Scriptures say, “they had not listened to the voice of Jehovah their God, but kept overstepping his covenant, even all that Moses the servant of Jehovah had commanded. They neither listened nor performed.”—2Ki 18:11, 12; 17:6; see SARGON.

*** it-2 p. 865 Sargon ***
In his annals Sargon made the claim: “I besieged and conquered Samaria (Sa-me-ri-na).” (Ancient Near Eastern Texts, edited by James B. Pritchard, 1974, p. 284) However, that appears to be simply a boastful claim by Sargon or those who sought to glorify him, in which the accomplishment of the preceding ruler was claimed for the new monarch. A Babylonian chronicle, which may be more neutral, states concerning Shalmaneser V: “He ravaged Samaria.” (Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, by A. K. Grayson, 1975, p. 73) The Bible, at 2 Kings 18:9, 10, states simply that Shalmaneser ‘laid siege’ to Samaria and that “they got to capture it.” Compare 2 Kings 17:1-6, which says that Shalmaneser the king of Assyria imposed tribute on Hoshea, the king of Samaria, and then states that later “the king of Assyria captured Samaria.”

*** it-2 pp. 865-866 Sargon ***
Sargon’s aggressive reign brought the Assyrian Empire to a new peak of power and produced the last great Assyrian dynasty. Historians would credit Sargon with a rule of 17 years. Since he is supposed to have begun his rule at or shortly after the fall of Samaria in Hezekiah’s sixth year (2Ki 18:10), and since his son and successor to the throne, Sennacherib, invaded Judah in Hezekiah’s 14th year (2Ki 18:13), a 17-year rule for Sargon could be possible only if Sennacherib were a coregent at the time of his attacking Judah. It seems equally likely that the historians’ figure is in error. They certainly cannot rely on the eponym lists to establish these reigns, as is shown in the article CHRONOLOGY. The general unreliability of the Assyrian scribes and their practice of “adjusting” the different editions of the annals to suit the ruler’s ego are also discussed there.

(2 KINGS 18:11)

“Then the king of As•syrʹi•a took Israel into exile in As•syrʹi•a and settled them in Haʹlah and in Haʹbor at the river Goʹzan and in the cities of the Medes.”

*** it-1 p. 993 Gozan ***
At 2 Kings 17:6 and 18:11 some translations read “Habor, the river of Gozan” (AS, RS), instead of “Habor at [or, by] the river Gozan” (NW, Yg), thus also making Gozan a place in these texts. But the rendering “Habor, the river of Gozan,” does not harmonize with 1 Chronicles 5:26. In this passage Habor is listed between Halah and Hara; and Hara, not Habor, is listed before Gozan. This indicates that Habor and “the river of Gozan” (AS) are not synonymous. Hence, those who identify Gozan as a place throughout are obliged to reject the Chronicles reference. However, since the Hebrew allows for a consistent rendering of “river Gozan” in all three texts, there is reason to believe that it was in the vicinity of a river called Gozan that the king of Assyria settled some of the exiled Israelites of the northern kingdom. The Qezel Owzan of NW Iran has been suggested as a possible identification of “the river Gozan.” It rises in the mountains SE of Lake Urmia (in what used to be the land of the Medes) and finally empties as the Sefid Rud or White River (the name applied to its lower course) into the SW section of the Caspian Sea. According to another view, the Gozan is a river of Mesopotamia.

*** it-1 p. 1014 Habor ***
HABOR
(Haʹbor).
A city or district to which the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III exiled numerous Israelites of the ten-tribe kingdom. (1Ch 5:26) Some scholars have linked this Habor with Abhar, a town located on the Qezel Owzan River of NW Iran about 210 km (130 mi) W of Tehran. At 2 Kings 17:6 and 18:11 some favor the reading “Habor, the river of Gozan” (AS, RS), and they suggest identifying the Habor with a tributary of the Euphrates, the Khabur River of SE Turkey and NE Syria. However, in agreement with 1 Chronicles 5:26, this phrase may instead be translated “Habor at [or, by] the river Gozan.”—NW, Yg; see GOZAN.

(2 KINGS 18:13)

“In the 14th year of King Hez•e•kiʹah, Sen•nachʹer•ib the king of As•syrʹi•a came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.”

*** ba pp. 14-15 Can This Book Be Trusted? ***
But these ruins had more to tell. On the walls of one well-preserved chamber was a display showing the capture of a well-fortified city, with captives being marched before the invading king. Above the king is this inscription: “Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, sat upon a nîmedu -throne and passed in review the booty (taken) from Lachish (La-ki-su).”6
This display and inscription, which can be viewed in the British Museum, agree with the Bible’s account of the capture of the Judean city of Lachish by Sennacherib, recorded at 2 Kings 18:13, 14. Commenting on the significance of the find, Layard wrote: “Who would have believed it probable or possible, before these discoveries were made, that beneath the heap of earth and rubbish which marked the site of Nineveh, there would be found the history of the wars between Hezekiah [king of Judah] and Sennacherib, written at the very time when they took place by Sennacherib himself, and confirming even in minute details the Biblical record?”7

*** w93 6/1 pp. 5-6 A Lost Empire That Embarrassed Bible Critics ***
Today this display and inscription can be viewed in the British Museum. It agrees with the historical event recorded in the Bible at 2 Kings 18:13, 14: “In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib the king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and proceeded to seize them. So Hezekiah the king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying: ‘I have sinned. Turn back from against me. Whatever you may impose upon me I shall carry.’ Accordingly the king of Assyria laid upon Hezekiah the king of Judah three hundred silver talents and thirty gold talents.”
Other inscriptions were found among the ruins of Nineveh giving additional details of Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah and the tribute paid by Hezekiah. “Perhaps one of the most remarkable coincidences of historic testimony on record, the amount of the treasure in gold taken from Hezekiah, thirty talents, agrees in the two perfectly independent accounts,” wrote Layard. Sir Henry Rawlinson, who helped decipher Assyrian writing, announced that these inscriptions “placed beyond the reach of dispute [Sennacherib’s] historic identity.” Furthermore, Layard asks in his book Nineveh and Babylon: “Who would have believed it probable or possible, before these discoveries were made, that beneath the heap of earth and rubbish which marked the site of Nineveh, there would be found the history of the wars between Hezekiah and Sennacherib, written at the very time when they took place by Sennacherib himself, and confirming even in minute details the Biblical record?”

*** si p. 156 par. 5 Bible Book Number 33—Micah ***
The invasion of Judah in Hezekiah’s reign, as foretold by Micah, was well chronicled by Sennacherib. (Mic. 1:6, 9; 2 Ki. 18:13) He had a large four-paneled relief made on the wall of his palace at Nineveh depicting the capture of Lachish. On his prism he states: “I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities . . . I drove out (of them) 200,150 people . . . Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage.” He also lists tribute paid to him by Hezekiah, although he exaggerates the amount. He makes no mention of the calamity that befell his troops.—2 Ki. 18:14-16; 19:35.

*** w88 2/15 p. 27 Part 2—Cruel Assyria—The Second Great World Power ***
The Bible says that “Sennacherib the king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and proceeded to seize them.”

*** w88 2/15 p. 27 Part 2—Cruel Assyria—The Second Great World Power ***
2 Kings 18:13,

*** w88 2/15 p. 28 Part 2—Cruel Assyria—The Second Great World Power ***
His annals, recorded on both the Oriental Institute Prism and the Taylor Prism, say: “As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities, walled forts and to the countless small villages in their vicinity, and conquered (them)

*** it-1 p. 204 Assyria ***
Sennacherib. Sennacherib, the son of Sargon II, attacked the kingdom of Judah during Hezekiah’s 14th year (732 B.C.E.). (2Ki 18:13; Isa 36:1) Hezekiah had rebelled against the Assyrian yoke imposed as a result of the action of his father Ahaz. (2Ki 18:7) Sennacherib reacted by sweeping through Judah, reportedly conquering 46 cities (compare Isa 36:1, 2)

*** it-1 p. 204 Assyria ***
These events, with the exception of the destruction of the Assyrian troops, are also recorded on a prism of Sennacherib and one of Esar-haddon.—PICTURES, Vol. 1, p. 957.

*** it-1 p. 415 Captivity ***
During the century and more that followed the overthrow of the northern kingdom, other notable exiles began. Before Sennacherib’s humiliating defeat at God’s hand in 732 B.C.E., he attacked various places in Judah. It is claimed by Sennacherib in his annals that he captured 200,150 from towns and fortresses in Judah’s territory, though, judging from the tone of the annals, the number is probably an exaggeration. (2Ki 18:13)

(2 KINGS 18:14)

“So King Hez•e•kiʹah of Judah sent word to the king of As•syrʹi•a at Laʹchish: “I am at fault. Withdraw from against me, and I will give whatever you may impose on me.” The king of As•syrʹi•a imposed on King Hez•e•kiʹah of Judah a fine of 300 silver talents and 30 gold talents.”

*** ip-1 chap. 29 p. 385 pars. 4-5 A King’s Faith Is Rewarded ***
Perhaps hoping to protect Jerusalem from an immediate assault by the relentless Assyrian army, Hezekiah agrees to pay Sennacherib an enormous tribute of 300 silver talents and 30 gold talents.—2 Kings 18:14.
5 Since there is not enough gold and silver in the royal treasury to pay the tribute, Hezekiah retrieves what precious metals he can from the temple. He also cuts down the temple doors, which have been overlaid with gold, and sends them to Sennacherib. This satisfies the Assyrian, but only for a while. (2 Kings 18:15, 16)

*** ip-1 chap. 29 p. 385 A King’s Faith Is Rewarded ***
Worth more than $9.5 million (U.S.) at current values.

*** ba pp. 14-15 Can This Book Be Trusted? ***
But these ruins had more to tell. On the walls of one well-preserved chamber was a display showing the capture of a well-fortified city, with captives being marched before the invading king. Above the king is this inscription: “Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, sat upon a nîmedu -throne and passed in review the booty (taken) from Lachish (La-ki-su).”6
This display and inscription, which can be viewed in the British Museum, agree with the Bible’s account of the capture of the Judean city of Lachish by Sennacherib, recorded at 2 Kings 18:13, 14. Commenting on the significance of the find, Layard wrote: “Who would have believed it probable or possible, before these discoveries were made, that beneath the heap of earth and rubbish which marked the site of Nineveh, there would be found the history of the wars between Hezekiah [king of Judah] and Sennacherib, written at the very time when they took place by Sennacherib himself, and confirming even in minute details the Biblical record?”7

*** w93 6/1 pp. 5-6 A Lost Empire That Embarrassed Bible Critics ***
Today this display and inscription can be viewed in the British Museum. It agrees with the historical event recorded in the Bible at 2 Kings 18:13, 14: “In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib the king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and proceeded to seize them. So Hezekiah the king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying: ‘I have sinned. Turn back from against me. Whatever you may impose upon me I shall carry.’ Accordingly the king of Assyria laid upon Hezekiah the king of Judah three hundred silver talents and thirty gold talents.”
Other inscriptions were found among the ruins of Nineveh giving additional details of Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah and the tribute paid by Hezekiah. “Perhaps one of the most remarkable coincidences of historic testimony on record, the amount of the treasure in gold taken from Hezekiah, thirty talents, agrees in the two perfectly independent accounts,” wrote Layard. Sir Henry Rawlinson, who helped decipher Assyrian writing, announced that these inscriptions “placed beyond the reach of dispute [Sennacherib’s] historic identity.” Furthermore, Layard asks in his book Nineveh and Babylon: “Who would have believed it probable or possible, before these discoveries were made, that beneath the heap of earth and rubbish which marked the site of Nineveh, there would be found the history of the wars between Hezekiah and Sennacherib, written at the very time when they took place by Sennacherib himself, and confirming even in minute details the Biblical record?”

*** w88 2/15 p. 27 Part 2—Cruel Assyria—The Second Great World Power ***
Jerusalem’s king Hezekiah, frightened by this threat, “sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish” and offered to buy him off with a heavy tribute.—2 Kings 18:13, 14.
Does Sennacherib confirm that he was at Lachish? Definitely! He displayed scenes of this siege on large panels in his immense palace that archaeologists studied at Nineveh. These detailed panels in the British Museum show Lachish under attack. Inhabitants stream out in surrender. Captives are led by. Some are impaled on posts. Others pay homage to Sennacherib himself, the very person mentioned in the Biblical account. An inscription in wedge-shaped cuneiform writing says: “Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, sat upon a nímedu-throne and passed in review the booty (taken) from Lachish.”
The Bible says that Hezekiah paid as tribute “three hundred silver talents and thirty gold talents.” (2 Kings 18:14, 15) This payment is confirmed in Sennacherib’s annals, though he claims to have received “800 talents of silver.”

*** it-1 p. 148 Archaeology ***
Nineveh, Assyria’s capital, was the site of excavations that unearthed the immense palace of Sennacherib, containing about 70 rooms, with sculptured slabs lining over 3,000 m (nearly 10,000 ft) of the walls. One depicted Judean prisoners being led into captivity following the fall of Lachish in 732 B.C.E. (2Ki 18:13-17; 2Ch 32:9; PICTURE, Vol. 1, p. 952)

*** it-1 p. 204 Assyria ***
These events, with the exception of the destruction of the Assyrian troops, are also recorded on a prism of Sennacherib and one of Esar-haddon.—PICTURES, Vol. 1, p. 957.

*** it-1 p. 204 Assyria ***
and then, from his camp at Lachish, he demanded of Hezekiah a tribute of 30 gold talents (c. $11,560,000) and 300 silver talents (c. $1,982,000). (2Ki 18:14-16; 2Ch 32:1; compare Isa 8:5-8.)

*** it-1 p. 951 Enemy Nations That Attacked Israel ***
Assyria 2Ki 15:19, 20, 29; 17:1-6; 18:13-35

*** it-1 p. 952 Enemy Nations That Attacked Israel ***
[Picture on page 952]
Assyrian soldiers taking Jews from Lachish into exile

(2 KINGS 18:15)

“So Hez•e•kiʹah gave all the silver that could be found at the house of Jehovah and in the treasuries of the king’s house.”

*** w93 6/1 p. 6 A Lost Empire That Embarrassed Bible Critics ***
Of course, some details of Sennacherib’s record do not agree with the Bible. For example, archaeologist Alan Millard notes: “The most striking fact comes at the end [of Sennacherib’s record]. Hezekiah sent his messenger, and all the tribute, to Sennacherib ‘later, to Nineveh’. The Assyrian army did not carry them home in triumph in the usual way.” The Bible states that the tribute was paid before the king of Assyria returned to Nineveh. (2 Kings 18:15-17) Why the difference? And why was Sennacherib unable to boast about conquering the Judean capital, Jerusalem, in the way he boasted of his conquest of the Judean fortress Lachish? Three Bible writers give the answer. One of them, an eyewitness, wrote: “The angel of Jehovah proceeded to go forth and strike down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When people rose up early in the morning, why, there all of them were dead carcasses. Hence Sennacherib the king of Assyria pulled away and went and returned and took up dwelling in Nineveh.”—Isaiah 37:36, 37; 2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21.

(2 KINGS 18:17)

“The king of As•syrʹi•a then sent the Tarʹtan, the Rabʹsa•ris, and the Rabʹsha•keh with a vast army from Laʹchish to King Hez•e•kiʹah in Jerusalem. They went up to Jerusalem and took up a position by the conduit of the upper pool, which is at the highway of the laundryman’s field.”

*** ip-1 chap. 29 p. 386 par. 7 A King’s Faith Is Rewarded ***
7 Sennacherib dispatches Rabshakeh (a military title, not a personal name) along with two other dignitaries to Jerusalem to demand the city’s surrender. (2 Kings 18:17)

*** it-1 p. 957 Assyrian Empire ***
[Picture on page 957]
Sennacherib’s representative taunts Jehovah and demands Jerusalem’s capitulation

*** it-2 p. 211 Laundryman’s Field ***
LAUNDRYMAN’S FIELD
Apparently an area close to the city of Jerusalem where laundrymen worked.
Isaiah and his son Shear-jashub were to meet King Ahaz by the “highway of the laundryman’s field”; later, Sennacherib’s emissaries came to the same vicinity. (2Ki 18:17; Isa 7:3; 36:2) While this “highway of the laundryman’s field” was obviously outside the city, it was near enough that the taunts of Sennacherib’s messengers could be heard by those on the city walls.—2Ki 18:18, 26, 27; Isa 36:1, 2.
A “conduit” is mentioned in connection with the “highway of the laundryman’s field.” This could not refer to what is called Hezekiah’s tunnel, as that had not yet been constructed in Ahaz’ day. The conduit therefore seems to have been one that ran through the torrent valley of Kidron down to the S end of the City of David. The laundryman’s field appears to have been located either in this part of the valley or somewhat farther S, near the suggested site of En-rogel.

*** it-2 p. 651 Pool ***
The Biblical references to the “old pool” (Isa 22:11), “upper pool” (2Ki 18:17; Isa 7:3; 36:2), and “lower pool” (Isa 22:9) give no indication about their exact position in relation to the city of Jerusalem. Scholars generally believe that the “lower pool” (perhaps the same as “the Pool of the Canal” mentioned at Ne 3:15) may be identified with Birket el-Hamra at the southern end of the Tyropoeon Valley. But opinions vary considerably regarding the placement of the “upper pool.”—See POOL OF THE CANAL.

*** it-2 p. 725 Rabsaris ***
RABSARIS
(Rabʹsa•ris) [Chief Court Official].
The title of the chief court official in the Assyrian and Babylonian governments. The Rabsaris was one of the committee of three high Assyrian dignitaries that was sent by the king of Assyria to demand the surrender of Jerusalem in King Hezekiah’s time.—2Ki 18:17.
The Rabsaris was one of the Babylonian officials taking control of Jerusalem for Nebuchadnezzar when the city fell in 607 B.C.E., and Nebushazban is named as the Rabsaris in connection with Jeremiah’s being directed to dwell with Gedaliah. (Jer 39:3, 13, 14; 40:1-5) Excavations have unearthed inscriptions bearing the title.—Bulletin of the Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem, 1967, Vol. XXXI, p. 77; Le palais royal d’Ugarit, III, Paris, 1955, No. 16:162, p. 126.

*** it-2 p. 725 Rabshakeh ***
RABSHAKEH
(Rabʹsha•keh) [from Akkadian, probably meaning “Chief Cupbearer”].
The title of a major Assyrian official. (2Ki 18:17) A building inscription of the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III says: “I sent an officer of mine, the rabsaq, to Tyre.” Also, from a tablet in the British Museum an inscription of King Ashurbanipal reads: “I ordered to add to my former (battle-) forces (in Egypt) the rabsaq -officer.”—Ancient Near Eastern Texts, edited by J. Pritchard, 1974, pp. 282, 296.
While Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, was laying siege to the Judean fortress of Lachish, he sent a heavy military force to Jerusalem under the Tartan, the commander-in-chief, along with two other high officials, the Rabsaris and the Rabshakeh. (2Ki 18:17; the entire account appears also at Isa chaps 36, 37.) Of these three superior Assyrian officials, Rabshakeh was the chief spokesman in an effort to force King Hezekiah to capitulate in surrender. (2Ki 18:19-25) The three stood by the conduit of the upper pool.

*** it-2 p. 1068 Tartan ***
TARTAN
(Tarʹtan).
Assyrian writings indicate that the title Tartan applied to an officer of high rank, probably second only to the king. Concerning the order of the titles in Assyrian eponym lists, James B. Pritchard, editor of Ancient Near Eastern Texts (1974, p. 274), comments: “Later on, the position of the official within the hierarchy was decisive for the sequence, the highest official (tartanu) following the king immediately, while important palace officers . . . and the governors of the foremost provinces took their turn in well-established order.” (See CHRONOLOGY [Eponym (limmu) lists].) An inscription by Assyrian King Ashurbanipal, now in the British Museum, reads, in part: “I became very angry on account of these happenings, my soul was aflame. I called the turtan -official, the governors, and also their assistants and gave immediately the order.”—Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 296.
King Sennacherib sent the Tartan along with other officials, including the Rabshakeh, the king’s chief cupbearer who acted as spokesman, to deliver an ultimatum of capitulation to Jerusalem. The Tartan is listed first, possibly because his was the superior position. (2Ki 18:17, 28-35)

(2 KINGS 18:18)

“When they called for the king to come out, E•liʹa•kim son of Hil•kiʹah, who was in charge of the household, Shebʹnah the secretary, and Joʹah son of Aʹsaph the recorder came out to them.”

*** it-1 p. 186 Asaph ***
3. Among the officials of King Hezekiah (745-717 B.C.E.) is mentioned “Joah the son of Asaph the recorder.” (2Ki 18:18, 37; Isa 36:3, 22) While John Kitto’s Cyclopædia of Biblical Literature (1880, Vol. I, p. 233) applies the term “recorder” to Asaph, most scholars view it as applying to Joah (thus, Joah ben Asaph, the recorder). Since the term “son” is often used in the sense of “descendant,” some suggest that this Asaph is the same as No. 1.

(2 KINGS 18:21)

“Look! You trust in the support of this crushed reed, Egypt, which if a man should lean on it would enter into his palm and pierce it. That is the way Pharʹaoh king of Egypt is to all those who trust in him.”

*** w10 7/15 pp. 12-13 “Do Not Be Afraid. I Myself Will Help You” ***
Look! you have put your trust in the support of this crushed reed, Egypt, which, if a man should brace himself upon it, would certainly enter into his palm and pierce it.’” (2 Ki. 18:19, 21) Rabshakeh’s accusation was false, for Hezekiah had not made an alliance with Egypt. Still, the accusation emphasized what Rabshakeh wanted the Jews to remember clearly: ‘No one will come to your aid. You are on your own—isolated.’

*** w05 8/1 p. 11 par. 5 Highlights From the Book of Second Kings ***
18:19-21, 25—Had Hezekiah made an alliance with Egypt? No. Rabshakeh’s accusation was false, as was his claim to have come with “authorization from Jehovah.” Faithful King Hezekiah relied solely on Jehovah.

*** it-1 p. 77 Alliance ***
Faithful Hezekiah of Judah, however, though falsely accused of trusting in Egypt, relied solely on Jehovah and was saved from the Assyrian Sennacherib’s attack.—2Ki 18:19-22, 32-35; 19:14-19, 28, 32-36; compare Isa 31:1-3.

*** it-2 p. 763 Reed ***
Figurative Use. “Reed” is used in the Bible to represent instability and frailty. (1Ki 14:15; Eze 29:6, 7) Egypt was compared to a crushed reed, the sharp, pointed slivers of which would penetrate the palm of anyone leaning upon it. (2Ki 18:21; Isa 36:6)

(2 KINGS 18:22)

“And if you should say to me, ‘We trust in Jehovah our God,’ is he not the one whose high places and altars Hez•e•kiʹah has removed, while he says to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You should bow down before this altar in Jerusalem’?”’”

*** w10 7/15 p. 13 “Do Not Be Afraid. I Myself Will Help You” ***
Planting Doubts Fails to Succeed
Rabshakeh used cunning reasoning in an effort to plant doubts. He said: “Is [Jehovah] not the one whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has removed? . . . Jehovah himself said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and you must bring it to ruin.’” (2 Ki. 18:22, 25) Thus Rabshakeh argued that Jehovah would not fight for His people because He was displeased with them. But the opposite was true. Jehovah was pleased with Hezekiah and the Jews who had returned to true worship.—2 Ki. 18:3-7.

(2 KINGS 18:26)

“At this E•liʹa•kim son of Hil•kiʹah, and Shebʹnah and Joʹah said to the Rabʹsha•keh: “Speak to your servants, please, in the Ar•a•maʹic language, for we can understand it; do not speak to us in the language of the Jews in the hearing of the people on the wall.””

*** it-1 p. 145 Aramaic ***
It seems that it is this Official Aramaic that is found in the writings of Ezra, Jeremiah, and Daniel. The Scriptures also give evidence of the fact that Aramaic was a lingua franca of those ancient times. Thus, in the eighth century B.C.E., appointed spokesmen for King Hezekiah of Judah appealed to Assyrian King Sennacherib’s representative Rabshakeh, saying: “Speak, please, to your servants in the Syrian [Aramaean, and hence, Aramaic] language, for we are listening; and do not speak to us in the Jews’ language in the ears of the people that are on the wall.” (Isa 36:11; 2Ki 18:26) The officials of Judah understood Aramaic, or Syrian, but evidently it was not understood by the common people among the Hebrews at that time in Jerusalem.

*** it-1 p. 1069 Hebrew, II ***
In the eighth century B.C.E., the difference between Hebrew and Aramaic had become wide enough to mark them as separate languages. This is seen when King Hezekiah’s representatives requested the spokesmen of Assyrian King Sennacherib to “speak with your servants, please, in the Syrian [Aramaic] language, for we can listen; and do not speak with us in the Jews’ language in the ears of the people that are on the wall.” (2Ki 18:17, 18, 26) Although Aramaic was then the lingua franca of the Middle East and was used in international diplomatic communication, it was not understood by the majority of the Judeans. The earliest known non-Biblical written documents in Aramaic are from about the same period, and these confirm the distinction between the two languages.

(2 KINGS 18:28)

“Then the Rabʹsha•keh stood and called out loudly in the language of the Jews, saying: “Hear the word of the great king, the king of As•syrʹi•a.”

*** it-1 p. 957 Assyrian Empire ***
[Picture on page 957]
Sennacherib’s representative taunts Jehovah and demands Jerusalem’s capitulation

(2 KINGS 18:34)

“Where are the gods of Haʹmath and Arʹpad? Where are the gods of Seph•ar•vaʹim, Heʹna, and Ivʹvah? Have they rescued Sa•marʹi•a out of my hand?”

*** it-1 p. 179 Arpad ***
ARPAD
(Arʹpad).
A royal city of N Syria always associated in the Bible with the city of Hamath. Arpad has been identified with Tell Erfad (Tell Rifʽat) about 30 km (19 mi) NNW of Aleppo. Situated on the road leading S to Hamath and Damascus, it came under frequent attack from the Assyrians and was eventually conquered by Tiglath-pileser III and later by Sargon II. Thus Sargon’s son, Sennacherib, when threatening Jerusalem in 732 B.C.E., had his spokesman Rabshakeh refer to the fate of Arpad as an evidence of the inability of the gods of the nations to resist Assyria’s mighty power. (2Ki 18:34; 19:12, 13; Isa 36:19; 37:12, 13) The prophet Isaiah had earlier foretold such boasting. (Isa 10:9)

(2 KINGS 18:37)

“But E•liʹa•kim son of Hil•kiʹah, who was in charge of the household, Shebʹnah the secretary, and Joʹah son of Aʹsaph the recorder came to Hez•e•kiʹah with their garments ripped apart and told him the words of the Rabʹsha•keh.”

*** it-1 p. 186 Asaph ***
3. Among the officials of King Hezekiah (745-717 B.C.E.) is mentioned “Joah the son of Asaph the recorder.” (2Ki 18:18, 37; Isa 36:3, 22) While John Kitto’s Cyclopædia of Biblical Literature (1880, Vol. I, p. 233) applies the term “recorder” to Asaph, most scholars view it as applying to Joah (thus, Joah ben Asaph, the recorder). Since the term “son” is often used in the sense of “descendant,” some suggest that this Asaph is the same as No. 1.

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