The false alliance with Assyria (Hos 5:13-5:14)

“Ephraim saw

His sickness.

Judah saw

His wound.

Then Ephraim

Went to Assyria.

He sent

To the great king.

But he is not able

To cure you.

He was not able

To heal your wound.

I will be

Like a lion

To Ephraim.

I will be

Like a young lion

To the house of Judah.

I myself

Will tear.

I will go away.

I will carry off.

None shall rescue.”

Ephraim and Judah saw that they were not in a good place, since they were sick and wounded. King Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria had taken over the northern half of Israel. Then the king of Israel, King Pekah (737-732 BCE) made an alliance with the king of Aram, the area around Damascus, or southern Syria. However, this did not help. Therefore, Yahweh was going to be a lion against Ephraim, and a young lion against Judah. Meanwhile, Yahweh was going to tear himself away. He was not going to rescue them.

Advertisements

The rhetorical questions (Isa 10:15-10:15)

“Shall the axe vaunt itself

Over the one who wields it?

Can the saw magnify itself

Against the one who handles it?

Can the rod

Raise the one who lifts it up?

Can the staff

Lift the one who is not wood?”

Isaiah asks a series of rhetorical questions about the proud King Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BCE) of Assyria. The axe cannot wield itself. Someone, like Yahweh, has to wield the axe, who is the king. A saw, like the king, will not work unless someone is making it work, like Yahweh. The rod by itself, the king, is useless unless Yahweh lifts it up for punishment. Can a staff of wood do anything without someone controlling it like Yahweh. Yahweh is controlling this proud king, but he thinks that he is in charge.

The words of the king of Assyria (Isa 10:13-10:14)

“The king says.

‘By the strength of my hand

I have done it.

By my wisdom,

I have understanding.

I have removed

The boundaries of peoples.

I have plundered

Their treasures.

Like a bull,

I have brought down

Those who sat on thrones.

My hand has found,

Like a nest,

The wealth of the peoples.

As one gather eggs

That have been forsaken,

So I have gathered all the earth.

There was none

That moved a wing,

Or opened its mouth,

Or chirped.’”

Isaiah says that King Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BCE) then proclaimed that he had removed the boundaries between the various countries. They were all subservient to him. He had plundered their treasures like a bull and removed their leaders from their thrones. He did this with the strength of his arm and his understanding of wisdom. He found a wealthy nest wherever he went. Thus he picked up the lost eggs, as he gathered people from all over the earth. Nobody objected. No one moved a wing or opened their mouths. There was no chirping about what he was doing.

The boast of the king of Assyria (Isa 10:8-10:11)

“The King of Assyria says.

‘Are not my commanders all kings?

Is not Calno

Like Carchemish?

Is not Hamath

Like Arpad?

Is not Samaria

Like Damascus?

As my hand has reached

To the kingdoms of the idols

Whose images

Were greater than those of Jerusalem.

They were greater than those of Samaria.

Shall I not do to Jerusalem

As I have done to Samaria?

Shall I not do to her idols

As I have done to the Samarian images?’”

King Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BCE), the king of Assyria said that he had commanders in his army that could become kings. He cited the examples of his capture of various towns or cities like Calno in 742 BCE and Carchemish, which is now on the border between Turkey and Syria, but was part of the Syrian empire that was lost in 738 BCE. There also was the capture of other western Syrian town of Hama or Hamath and Arpad that were in this same area that Tiglath-Pileser III captured in 741 BCE. Finally there was Damascus, also in Syria, that was captured in 732 BCE. King Menahem of Samaria was the king of northern Israel from 743-738 BCE, who paid tribute to the King of Assyria, as mentioned in 2 Chronicles, chapter 26, and 2 Kings, chapter 15. Now King Tiglath-Pileser III was thinking of attacking Jerusalem. What he had done to Samaria, he would the same to Judah by destroying their images, since he thought that Yahweh was just another idol god.

The role of the king of Assyria (Isa 10:5-10:7)

“O Assyria!

The rod of my anger!

The club in their hands

Is my fury!

Against a godless nation,

I send him.

Against the people of my wrath,

I command him

To take spoil.

I command him

To seize plunder.

I command him

To tread them down

Like the mire of the streets.

This is not what he intends.

He did not have this in mind.

But in his heart,

He wanted to destroy.

He wanted to cut off

Not a few nations.”

It seems like Yahweh is sending the king of Assyria as his rod and club to work out God’s plans. Thus, King Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BCE) of Assyria wanted to deport people, so that they would not lead a revolt against him. This Assyrian king was to be the stick of Yahweh’s anger to make the northern Israelites like sludge in the streets. He would take the plunder and the spoils of the people of Yahweh, the northern Israelites. The Assyrian king controlled a great part of the Middle East from the Tigris River, including Babylon, during this time of Isaiah. However, the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III did not intend to do the will of Yahweh. He really wanted to destroy and cut up many nations with his deportation and plunder policies.

The transgressions of the half tribe of Manasseh (1 Chr 5:25-5:26)

“But the half tribe of Manasseh transgressed against the God of their ancestors. They prostituted themselves to the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of King Pul of Assyria, the spirit of King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. He carried them away, namely, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan, to this day.”

The Assyrian captivity seems to be blamed on the half tribe of Manasseh only. They served the gods of the land they took over. However, they were so far from Jerusalem, it would not seem feasible that they would go to Jerusalem. They seem to have transgressed the same as the other people of Israel and the people of Judah. King Pul was a real character, also known as Tiglath-pileser III, the king of Babylon and Assyria who lived in the 8th century BCE, as the founder of the 2nd Assyrian Empire (745-727 BCE) so that King Tiglath-pileser III and King Pul are the same person. He had originally accepted money from King Menahem (743-738) of Israel as in 2 Kings, chapter 15. However, when the next few kings refused to pay, the king of Assyria invaded all the land. He carried the Israelites away to Assyria. He placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan. It is not clear whether this east area was taken before the west area of Israel in 721 under the new king of Assyria, King Sargon II (722-705 BCE). However, they both ended up in the same places Halah, Habor, Hara and the Gozan River in central Asia in the Mesopotamian area. Halah and Habor were mentioned in 2 Kings, chapter 17, but Hara has been added here and not found elsewhere in biblical literature.  This biblical author seems to indicate that the half-tribe of Manasseh never returned from the Exile.