The destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel (Hos 13:9-13:11)

“I will destroy you!

O Israel!

Who can help you?

Where now is your king?

Can he save you?

Where in all your cities,

Are your rulers?

You said.

‘Give me a king!

Give me rulers!’

I have given you

A king.

In my anger,

I took him away

In my wrath.”

Yahweh was going to destroy the northern kingdom of Israel. Who was going to help them? Who could save them? What happened to their rulers? Yahweh gave them a king because they wanted one. Now in his anger and wrath, Yahweh was going to take their king away. This might be a reference to King Hoshea who ruled from 732-724 BCE, when the northern dynasty fell.

The title of Hosea (Hos 1:1-1:1)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Hosea,

The son of Beeri.

This was in the days

Of King Uzziah,

Of King Jotham,

Of King Ahaz,

Of King Hezekiah,

Kings of Judah.

This was in the days

Of King Jeroboam.

The son of Joash,

The king of Israel.”

Hosea was a prophet during the last days of the kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BCE. He also was the earliest Israelite written prophet that we know of. This work of Hosea is considered the first of the 12 minor prophets. In a classic prophetic phrase, the word of Yahweh came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, who may have been a prophet himself. At that time, the kings of Judah were King Uzziah (781-740 BCE), King Jotham (740-736 BCE), King Ahaz (736-716 BCE), and King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE), spanning nearly 100 years. Meanwhile, the king of Israel mentioned here was only King Jeroboam II (783-743 BCE), the son of King Joash (798-783 BCE). That would eliminate all the Judean kings after King Uzziah. The last 4 kings of Israel were King Menahem, (743-738 BCE), King Pekahiah (738-737 BCE), King Pekah (737-732 BCE), and King Hoshea (732-724 BCE), but they were not mentioned here.

The taking of Samaria (2 Kings 18:9-18:12)

“In the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of King Hoshea son of Elah of Israel, King Shalmaneser of Assyria came up against Samaria. He besieged it and at the end of three years he took it. In the sixth year of King Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of King Hoshea of Israel, Samaria was taken. The king of Assyria carried the Israelites away to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. This was done because they did not obey the voice of Yahweh their God but transgressed his covenant, all that Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded. They neither listened nor obeyed.”

Once again, we have the siege of Samaria, the taking of Samaria, the deportation of the Israelites to Babylon as in preceding chapter. Now it is under King Hezekiah instead of the time of his father King Ahaz. However, it is the same King Shalmaneser of Assyria and King Hoshea of Israel who are the winners and losers in this battle. As in the preceding chapter they go to the various places near Babylon and in the cities of Medes. The reason that the Israelites were punished was due to the fact that they did not follow Yahweh nor Moses, since they were disobedient. However, the people of Judah were not obedient either.

The reign of King Hezekiah in Judah (716-687 BCE) (2 Kings 18:1-18:4)

“In the third year of King Hoshea son of Elah of Israel, King Hezekiah son of King Ahaz of Judah began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign. He reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the sight of Yahweh, just as his ancestor King David had done. He removed the high places, broke the pillars, and cut down the sacred poles. Then he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made. Until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it. It was called Nehushtan.”

According to most archeological reports, the fall of Samaria took place during the reign of King Ahaz of Judah, not under King Hezekiah, who was a good king. He followed King David rather than his father, King Ahaz, who was not as good in the sight of Yahweh. Finally, he removed all the foreign god high places and broke the foreign god’s sacred pillars and poles. Perhaps the fall of Samaria contributed to the unification of the Yahweh cult. He also got rid of Nehushtan, the bronze serpent of Moses. Although this is the only time that this name appears in the biblical literature, there is a question as to whether it refers to the serpent or the bronze that it was made of. Certainly it had some connection to Moses and yet was a bronze image of a serpent.

The taking of Samaria (721 BCE) (2 Kings 17:5-17:6)

“Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land. He came to Samaria and for three years he besieged it. In the ninth year of King Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria. He carried the Israelites away to Assyria. He placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.”

King Shalmaneser V of Assyria attacked Israel. He besieged Samaria for 3 years. Finally it was captured in 721 BCE. However, by this time, there was a new king of Assyria, King Sargon II (722-705 BCE). He took the Israelites out of Samaria and reestablished them in Medes, which was a northern part of Persia that had rich agricultural fields. They were probably brought there for farming purposes. They may have been migrant field workers or slave field workers. The Medes people may have been the forefathers of the present day Kurds in northern Iraq and Turkey, which is approximately where Medes was. The Habor and the Gozan are in central Asia in the Mesopotamian area.