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- 2 Kings
by Editor - Joseph Exell
THOUGH the two Books of the Kings "were originally and are really but one work, by one writer or compiler," and though most of the points which need to be touched on in an "Introduction," being common to both books, have been already treated in the Introductory section prefixed to the Commentary on I Kings, still there seem to be certain subjects more particularly connected with the Second Book, which require a more general and consecutive treatment than is possible in a running commentary on the text; and the consideration of these will form, it is hoped, a not superfluous or unwelcome "Introduction" to the present volume. These subjects are, especially,
(1) "the difficulties in the Chronology," and
(2) "the interconnection between sacred and profane history during the period of the Israelite monarchy."
1. DIFFICULTIES IN THE CHRONOLOGY.
The difficulties in the chronology attach almost exclusively to the Second Book. In the First Book we find, indeed, that portions of years are counted for years in the estimates given of the length of kings' reigns, and that thus there is a tendency in the chronology to exaggerate itself — a tendency which is most marked where the reigns are shortest. But the synchronisms which enable us to detect this peculiarity are a sufficient safeguard from serious error; and it is not difficult to arrange in parallel columns the Jewish and the Israelite lists in such a way that all or almost all the statements made in the book are brought into harmony; e.g. Rehoboam reigned seventeen full years (1 Kings 14:21), when he was succeeded by Abijam, whose first year was parallel with the eighteenth of Jeroboam (1 Kings 15:1), and who reigned three full years (1 Kings 15:2), dying and being succeeded by Asa in Jeroboam's twentieth year (1 Kings 15:9). Jeroboam, having reigned twenty-two years incomplete (1 Kings 14:20), died in Asa's second year, and was succeeded by Nadab (1 Kings 14:25), who reigned parts of two years, being slain by Baasha in Asa's third year (1 Kings 15:28). Baasha held the throne for twenty four incomplete years, his accession falling in Asa's third, and his death in Asa's twenty-sixth year (1 Kings 16:8). Elah's "two years" (1 Kings 16:8) were, like Nadab's and Baasha's, incomplete, since he ascended the throne in Asa's twenty-sixth, and was killed by Zimri in Asa's twenty-seventh year (1 Kings 16:15). At the end of a week Zimri was slain by Omri, and a struggle followed between Omri and Tibni, which lasted four years — from Asa's twenty-seventh year to his thirty-first (1 Kings 16:23). Omri's reign was reckoned by some to begin at this time, by others to have begun upon the death of Zimri. It is from this earlier event that his "twelve years" are to be dated, and those years are again incomplete, since they commenced in Asa's twenty-seventh, and terminated in Ms thirty-eighth year (1 Kings 16:29). Ahab's "twentytwo years" (1 Kings 16:29) should, apparently, be twenty-one, since they ran parallel with the last four years of Asa and with the first seventeen of Jehoshaphat. The entire period from the accession of Rehoboam and Jeroboam to the death of Ahab and accession of Ahaziah in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat was seventy-eight years.
TABULAR VIEW OF THE CHRONOLOGY OF I KINGS.
Year before Christ
Year of the Davidic kingdom
King of All Israel
SOLOMON, 40 years Kings of Judah
(1 Kings 11:42) Kings of Israel
Rehoboam, 17 years (1 Kings 14:21)
Jeroboam, 22 years (1 Kings 14:20)
Abijam, 3 years (1 Kings 15:2)
18th year of Jeroboam (1 Kings 15:1)
Asa, 41 years (1 Kings 15:10)
20th year of Jeroboam (1 Kings 15:9)
2nd year of Asa (1 Kings 15:25)
Nedab, 2 years (1 Kings 15:25)
3rd year of Asa (1 Kings 15:28)
Baasha, 24 years (1 Kings 15:33)
26th year of Asa (1 Kings 16:8)
Elah, 2 years (1 Kings 16:8)
27th year of Asa (1 Kings 16:10, 1 Kings 16:21)
Zimri (1 Kings 16:10) Tibni (1 Kings 16:21) Omri (1 Kings 16:21), 12 years (1 Kings 16:23)
31st year of Asa (1 Kings 16:23)
Omri alone (1 Kings 16:23)
38th year of Asa (1 Kings 16:29)
Ahab, 22 (21?) years (1 Kings 16:29)
Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:41)
4th year of Ahab (1 Kings 22:41)
17th year of Jehoshaphat
Ahaziah (1 Kings 22:51)
The chronology of the Second Book of Kings is far more complicated. The following are some of its difficulties.
1. Two dates are given for the accession of Jehoram of Israel, viz. the second year of Jehoram of Judah (2 Kings 1:17), and the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 3:1).
2. Jehoram of Judah is said to have begun to reign in the fifth year of his father Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 8:16), and also in the fifth year of Jehoram of Israel, which was the twenty-second year of Jehoshaphat.
3. Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, is said (2 Kings 13:1) to have ascended the throne in the twenty-third year of Joash of Judah; but as Joash ascended the throne in the seventh of Jehu (2 Kings 12:1), and Jehu reigned no more than twenty-eight years (2 Kings 10:36), the true year of the accession of Jehoahaz must have been (as Josephus says it was) Joash's twenty-first.
4. Amaziah's first year is made to run parallel with the second year of Joash of Israel (2 Kings 14:1); but if the reign of this Joash began in the thirty-seventh year of his namesake of Judah (2 Kings 13:10), and if this monarch reigned altogether forty years (2 Kings 12:1), Amaziah cannot have succeeded him till Joash of Israel's fourth year.
5. Azariah is said to have begun to reign in the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam II. (2 Kings 15:1); but if Amaziah lived fifteen years only after the death of Joash of Israel (2 Kings 14:17), Azariah should have succeeded him in Jeroboam's sixteenth year.
6. Zachariah's accession, which seems (2 Kings 14:29) to be placed directly after his father's death, should have fallen in Azariah's twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth year; but it is placed in his thirty-eighth (2 Kings 15:8); so that an interregnum of eleven or twelve years, whereof Scripture gives no hint, and which is very unlikely, has to be interpolated between the son's reign and the father's.
7. Jotham is given in one place a reign of sixteen years (2 Kings 15:33), while in another (2 Kings 15:30) his twentieth year is spoken of.
8. Hoshea's accession is placed (2 Kings 15:30) in the twentieth year of Jotham — regarded by some as the fourth year of Ahaz, and again (2 Kings 17:1) in the twelfth year of Ahaz.
9. Hezekiah's first year is said to have been the third of Hoshea (2 Kings 18:1), but his fourth year is made Hoshea's seventh instead of his sixth, and his sixth year Hoshea's ninth (2 Kings 18:9, 2 Kings 18:10) instead of his eighth.
10. Altogether, the years of the Israelite monarchy, from the accession of Ahaziah to the captivity of Hoshea, are made to amount to a hundred and fifty-nine, while those of the Judaean monarchy for the same period amount to a hundred and eighty-three, or an addition of twenty-four.
The difficulties are increased if we compare the sacred chronology for the period with the profane. The Assyrian annals place an interval of a hundred and thirty-two years only between the taking of Samaria and a year in the reign of Ahab, while the scriptural numbers make the interval, at the lowest computation, a hundred and sixty years, and at the highest a hundred and eighty-four. By the Assyrian annals Hezekiah's expedition against Sennacherib took place in the twenty-first year after the fall of Samaria; by the present scriptural numbers (2 Kings 18:10, 2 Kings 18:13) it took place in the eighth year afterwards.
It is evident that any attempt to restore the true chronology must be to a large extent conjectural, and almost arbitrary. Some of the scriptural numbers must be altered, or else suppositions must be made for which there is no warranty. Still, a commentator is almost forced to take some definite view, and, so long as he allows that his view is merely put forward tentatively and provisionally, he is not open to censure. No apology would therefore seem to be needed for the following tabular conspectus of the probable chronology of the period between the accession of Ahaziah of Israel and the fall of Samaria: —
After the termination of the Israelite monarchy by the capture of Samaria in
B.C. 722, the difficulties of the chronology become much less, chiefly from the absence of those exact synchronisms which have constituted the main difficulty in the period between the accession of Ahaziah and the Israelite captivity. Such exact synchronisms as occur (2 Kings 24:12; 2 Kings 25:2, 2 Kings 25:8, and 27) show in general a remarkable agreement between sacred history and profane, while the vaguer ones (2 Kings 20:12; 2 Kings 23:29; 2 Kings 24:1) are also quite consonant with the accounts given to us by secular historians. The only serious difficulty which meets us is the date in 2 Kings 18:14, which assigns the first expedition of Sennacherib against Jerusalem to Hezekiah's fourteenth year, or B.C. 714, whereas the Assyrian annals place it in Sennacherib's fourth year, which was B.C. 701, or thirteen years later. This date is best regarded as an interpolation — a marginal gloss which has crept into the text, and which was the mere conjecture of a commentator. The event itself probably occurred in the twenty-seventh year of Hezekiah's reign.
The subjoined table will complete the chronology of the Davidic monarchy, and may be regarded as scarcely presenting any doubtful points or uncertainties —
2. INTERCONNECTION BETWEEN SACRED AND PROFANE HISTORY DURING THE PERIOD OF THE ISRAELITE MONARCHY.
At the commencement of the monarchy, during the reigns of David and Solomon, the great world-power was Egypt. Assyria, which had exercised an extensive sway in Western Asia from about B.C. 1300 to B.C. 1070, in the latter part of the eleventh century B.C. passed under a cloud, and did not emerge from it until about B.C. 900. Egypt, on the other hand, about me. 1100, began to increase in strength, and soon after B.C. 1000, resumed her role of Asiatic conqueror under the Sheshonks and Osarkons. It is quite in accordance with these facts that, in the first period of the Israelite monarchy, from the accession of David to the usurpations of Jehu and Athaliah, the historical Scriptures contain no mention at all of Assyria, which lay entirely without the sphere of Hebrew influence, having lost all its authority over any part of the tract west of the Euphrates. Egypt, on the contrary, comes once more to the front. Unmentioned in the history from the date of the Exodus to the accession of Solomon, she then reappears as a power friendly to Israel, and anxious to make alliance with the new kingdom which has been established at no great distance from her borders. Who the Pharaoh was who gave his daughter to Solomon (1 Kings 3:1), and with her the city of Gezer as a dowry (1 Kings 9:16), is uncertain; but there can be no doubt that he was one of the kings of Manetho's twenty-first dynasty, and it is probable that he was one of the later kings, either Pinetem II., the last but one, or Hor-Pasebensha, the last. The union of the two royal houses led to much intercourse between the two peoples, and a brisk trade was established between Palestine and the valley of the Nile, which included a large importation of Egyptian horses and chariots into Palestine, and even into Syria (1 Kings 10:28, 1 Kings 10:29), where the Hittite kings purchased them. Political refugees passed from one country to the other without question (2 Kings 11:17-19), and sometimes those from Asia obtained considerable influence at the Egyptian court.
The twenty-first Egyptian dynasty was succeeded by the twenty-second, probably somewhat late in the reign of Solomon. The new dynasty continued the policy of receiving Asiatic refugees, and Sheshonk (or Shishak), the first monarch, gave an asylum to Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:40) not many years before Solomon's death. There was nothing in this to disturb the relations between the two countries; but when Jeroboam, after the death of Solomon, reamed to Palestine, and the two rival kingdoms of Judah and Israel were established side by side in a relation of mutual hostility, Egypt could not well remain friendly to both. Not unnaturally she leant to the state which was the larger, and appeared to be the more powerful of the two, and which had, moreover, been founded by the Israelite refugee to whom she had given an asylum, and who had probably lived in Egypt on terms of personal intimacy with the reigning monarch. Accordingly, the great expedition of Shishak into Asia (2 Chronicles 12:2-4) in Rehoboam's fifth year, which is recorded on the walls of the temple at Karnak , appears to have been undertaken, in great part, in the interest of Jeroboam, whose hands were thereby greatly strengthened against his adversary. Rehoboam became for a time an Egyptian tributary (2 Chronicles 12:8); and though the Yuteh, malk of the Karnak inscription may not especially designate him, yet the war was certainly directed mainly against the adman kingdom, and resulted in its degradation. Sheshonk had probably entertained designs of wider conquest, and he actually subjected many of the Arab tribes in the trans-Jordanic region, and in the tract between Egypt and Palestine; but his military ardor was not sufficient to urge him to further efforts, and it was left for one of his successors to invade Asia with a greater force in the hope of sweeping all before him. Zerach the Ethiopian, who in the eleventh year of Asa (2 Chronicles 14:1, 2 Chronicles 14:9) made an expedition into Palestine at the head of an army of a million men, is probably identical with Osarkon (Ua-sar-ken) II., the great-grandson of Sheshonk I., and the fourth king of the twenty-second Manethonian dynasty. Zerach's army consisted of Cushites and Lubim (2 Chronicles 16:8), as Sheshonk's (Shishak's) did of Cushites, Lubim, and Sakkyim (2 Chronicles 12:3). He invaded Judea in the south, and marched upon Jerusalem by the way of Mareshah. Here, however, Asa met him, with forces not much exceeding half the number of his adversary's, and defeated him in a pitched battle — one of the most glorious in all Hebrew history — entirely discomfiting his host and pursuing it to Gerar, on the extreme south of Palestine, and returning with an immense spoil to Jerusalem. The Egyptian aspirations after Asiatic conquests were crushed by this terrible blow; and it was not till the advance of Assyria menaced Egypt herself with conquest that the soil of Palestine was again trodden by an Egyptian army.
Assyria's advance to greatness, which commenced about B.C. 900, upon Egypt's decline, is not noticed so early in the scriptural narrative as might have been expected. We find by the Assyrian annals that the contact of Assyria with the northern kingdom began as early as the reign of Jehu, if not even in that of Ahab. An "Ahab," described as "Ahab of Samhala" or "Sirhala," is engaged in battle with Shalmaneser II. about B.C. 854, and suffers defeat. But chronological considerations render it extremely doubtful whether the person thus designated can have been the son of Omri. Jehu, however, seems certainly to have come within the sphere of Shalmaneser's influence, and to have been induced in send him presents, which Shalmaneser regarded as a tribute, not later than the year B.C. 842, according to the Assyrian chronology. Assyria was at this time pressing especially upon the Syrian states, the Hamathites, Hittites, Syrians of Damascus, and Phoenicians. Shalmaneser contended successively with the Benhadad who preceded Hazael on the Damascene throne, and with Hazael himself; his reign, according to the Assyrian reckoning, extended from B.C. 860 to B.C. 825. His attacks, and those of his successor, Shamas-Vul, may have advantaged the Israelites by weakening the Damascene kingdom, which was at this time their principal adversary (see 2 Kings 10:32, 2 Kings 10:33; 2 Kings 12:17, 2 Kings 12:18; 2 Kings 13:17-25).
The advance of Assyria, though not uncheckered by defeats, continued, without serious interruption, until, in the reign of Menahem, an actual invasion of the northern kingdom took place under a monarch called Pal (2 Kings 15:19; 1 Chronicles 5:26), who put the land to a tribute of a thousand talents of silver. The native monuments make no mention of this Pal, for he can scarcely be Tiglath-pileser, who took the name and reigned as Palu (Pul or Porus) in Babylon for two years before his decease in B.C. 727; since Pal is distinguished from Tiglath-pileser both in Kings (2 Kings 15:19, 2 Kings 15:29) and in Chronicles (1 Chronicles 5:26), and moreover Tiglath-pileser's first year was B.C. 745. It seems most probable that the Pal who attacked Menahem was a pretender to the throne of Assyria, contemporary with Asshur-dayan III., in whose time we hear of several revolts, and midway in whose reign three copies of the Eponym Canon draw a line, the usual sign of the commencement of a now reign. Pul may have been acknowledged as King of Assyria by a portion of the nation from B.C. 763, where the line is drawn, to B.C. 758, when peace is said to have been restored to the land; and during this interval may have made the expedition mentioned in 2 Kings 15:19.
Of the expedition of Tiglath-pileser against Pekah King of Israel, which resulted in the conquest of the trans-Jordanic territory, and the captivity of the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, the Assyrian annals contain a fragmentary account, as well as of the war between the same monarch and Rezin King of Damascus, mentioned in 2 Kings 16:9. Tiglath-pileser appears in his inscriptions as a great and warlike monarch, who reestablished the military supremacy of Assyria over Western Asia after a period of depression. He seems to have ascended the throne in the year B.C. 745, and to have reigned from that date until B.C. 727 — a space of eighteen years. In the earlier part of his reign he seems to have invaded Judaea, probably from the Philistine plain, and to have been engaged for some time in a war with a king of Judah whom he calls Azariah, but who must apparently have been either Jotham or Ahaz. This war, which is not mentioned in Scripture, had no important result; but in a little time it was followed by another which greatly increased the influence of Assyria in the Palestinian region. Ahaz now certainly occupied the Judaean throne, while that of Samaria was held a by Pekah, and that of Damascus by Rezin. The northern kings were anxious to form a Syrian confederacy against Assyrian aggression, and invited Ahaz to join them; but, that monarch declining, they resolved to put him down, and give his kingdom to a creature of their own, a certain Ben-Tabeal (Isaiah 7:6), who is thought to have been a Damascene. Under these circumstances, Ahaz invoked the aid of Tiglathpileser against their common enemies (2 Kings 16:7), and a war followed, which lasted apparently three years. Tiglathpileser's first efforts were against Rezin. After several battles in the open field, wherein the Assyrian arms were successful, he forced the Syrian king to take refuge within the walls of Damascus, which he then besieged and took. Rezin fell into his hands, and was slain (2 Kings 16:9); several of his generals were impaled on crosses; the country was ravaged; the unarmed inhabitants seized, and the mass of them carried away as captives. The war was then carried from the Damascene territory into that of Samaria, which was entered upon the north and upon the east, and treated much as the Damascene had been. The captivity of Israel commenced. Assyria extended her territory from the Lebanon and the Hamathites' country, to the hills of Galilee and the coast of the Dead Sea. Judaea, under Ahaz, became her tributary, as did Moab, Edom, and Ammon. In Samaria a new king was set up in the person of Hoshea, who murdered Pekah, with the connivance of the Assyrian monarch.
The Assyrian records agree with Scripture in making a Shalmaneser (Shalmaneser IV.) the successor of Tiglath-pileser though they do not represent Shalmaneser (as Scripture has generally been supposed to do) as the conqueror of Samaria. They give to this king a reign of five years only, from B.C. 727 to B.C. 723, and represent him as a warlike monarch, engaged in a series of military expeditions; but the notices of him which have come down to us are extremely scanty and fragmentary, and throw little light on the biblical narrative. We learn, however, from Phoenician sources, that Shalmaneser's wars were at any rate in the neighborhood of Palestine, since we are told that he overran all Phoenicia, took Sidon, the continental Tyre, and Akko, and even attacked the island Tyre with a fleet manned chiefly by Phoenician sailors. His enterprises seem to have been cut short by a domestic revolution, headed by the great Sargon, who drove Shalmaneser from the throne, probably put him to death, and mutilated his annals. Sargon claims as his first act the conquest of Samaria, from which he says that he carried off 27,290 captives. He is, perhaps, the king intended in 2 Kings 17:6 and 18:11; and he obtains distinct mention in Isaiah 20:1. Hezekiah seems to have revolted from him (2 Kings 18:7); but he was successful in most other quarters. He put down a rebellion in which Hamath, Arpaf, Zimirra, Damascus, and Samaria were combined, about B.C. 720, defeated an Egyptian army, and took Raphia and Oaza in the same year, conquered Ashdod in B.C. 711, and Babylon in
B.C. 710; invaded Edom in B.C. 707, and established his authority over Cyprus and over some of the islands of the Persian Gulf about the same time. In his reign the Assyrian empire advanced itself to the borders of
Egypt, and from thenceforth until about B.C. 650 the two countries were engaged in almost perpetual hostilities, Judaea and Syria furnishing for the most part the hattie-ground between the contending forces. Sargon's first adversary was a certain Sibache, who is probably identical with the Shabak or Shabatok of the hieroglyphics, the Sabaco of Herodotus, and the So or Seveh of Scripture (2 Kings 17:4). He afterwards contended with a monarch whom he calls the King of Meroe, who is perhaps Tirhakah, perhaps Shabatok. After reigning seventeen years, Sargon died, and was succeeded on the Assyrian throne by the world-famous Sennacherib, the most widely known, if not really the greatest, of Assyrian monarchs.
It was in the middle of the reign of Sargon — about B.C. 714 or 713 — that the first contact occurred between Judaea and Babylon. A native prince, named Merodach-Baladan, rose in insurrection against the Assyrians on the death of Shalmaneser, and succeeded in re-establishing Babylonian independence for a short space. Threatened by Sargon, and anxious to strengthen himself by alliances, this king sent, about B.C. 714, an embassy into Palestine, under the pretence of congratulating Hezekiah on his recovery from his severe illness (2 Kings 20:12). The ambassadors were received with favor, and shown all Hezekiah's treasures (2 Kings 20:13); and it is most likely that an alliance was concluded; but a few years later, B.C. 710, Sargon marched an army into Babylonia, defeated Merodach-Baladan, and expelled him from the county, took Babylon, anti, following the examples of Tiglath-pileser and Shalmaneser, established himself as king. The Canon of Ptolemy calls him Arkeanos (equivalent to Sarkina), and assigns him the space from B.C. 710 to B.C.
705. It was in this latter year that Sargon died.
The death of Sargon and the accession of the untried Sennacherib gave the signal for a series of revolts. In Babylonia several pretenders arose, and after a time Merodach-Baladan re-established himself as king; but he only wore the crown for six months. In B.C. 702 Sennacherib drove him out, recovered the country to Assyria, and placed a viceroy upon the Babylonian throne. The next year he made his great expedition into Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine, chastised Sidon and other Phoenician towns which had thrown off the Assyrian yoke, took Ascalon and Ekron, defeating a force of Egyptians and Ethiopians, which had come to help the people of the Jattor city, and then overran Judeea, and attacked Jerusalem. "Because Hezekiah King of Judah," he says, "would not submit to my yoke, I came up against him, and by force of arms and by the might of my power I took forty-six of his strong-fenced cities, and of the smaller towns which were scattered about I took and plundered a countless number. And from these places I captured and carried off as spoil 200,150 people, old and young, male and female, together with horses and mares, asses and camels, oxen and sheep, a countless multitude. And Hezekiah himself I shut up in Jerusalem, his capital, like a bird in a cage, building towers round about the city to hem him in, and raising banks of earth against the gates, so as to prevent escape.... Then upon this Hezekiah there fell the fear of the power of my arms, and he sent out to me the chiefs and the elders of Jerusalem, with thirty talents of gold, and eight hundred talents of silver, and divers treasures, a rich and immense booty.... All these things were brought to me at Nineveh, the seat of my government, Hezekiah having sent them by way of tribute, and as a token of submission to my power." The close accord of this entire account with the notice contained in the Second Book of Kings (2 Kings 18:13-16) is very striking. The "fenced cities" are the first object of attack; then Jerusalem is threatened; Hezekiah is shut up in the place; then submission is made; a sum of money in gold and silver is paid for a ransom; even the number of the talents of gold is the same in both narratives. The only discrepancy is with respect to the silver, in which Sennacherib may include all that he carried of from the country. Finally, the invading host retires, the siege is broken up, and peace restored between the countries. One serious difficulty alone presents itself — viz, the date of the expedition in the present Hebrew text. This is given as "the fourteenth year of Hezekiah," or eight years only after the capture of Samaria. But in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, B.C. 714, Sargon was still upon the throne; the Assyrian arms were engaged in Media and Armenia; and there was no Assyrian expedition into Palestine. Sennacherib's invasion cannot possibly have taken place until B.C. 705, nine years later, for not till then did he ascend the throne; and by his annals 6 it appears not to have actually taken place till his fourth year, B.C. 701. The date, therefore, in 2 Kings 18:13 must be an error; and the choice would seem to lie between regarding it as a corruption — "fourteenth" for "twenty-seventh" — and viewing it as the marginal note of a commentator which has crept into the text.
After an interval (2 Chronicles 32:9), which may not have exceeded a few months, and which certainly cannot have exceeded a year or two, Senn-Acherib attacked Hezekiah for the second time. It probably vexed him that he had not insisted on occupying Jerusalem with a garrison, and he may also have received fresh provocation from Hezekiah, if that monarch had made an application to Egypt for aid, as he seems to have done (2 Kings 18:24; Isaiah 30:1-4). At any rate, Sennacherib proceeded once more to threaten Jerusalem, sent a force against it under three of his chief officials (2 Kings 18:17), attempted to stir up disaffection among the soldiers of the garrison (2 Kings 18:17-36), and announced his intention of coming against the city in person and "destroying it utterly" (2 Kings 19:10-13). At the same time, he laid siege to various towns in Southern Palestine, and contemplated invading Egypt, where Tirhakah was collecting an army to oppose him (2 Kings 19:9). But at this point of his career his ambition received a signal check. In a single night, silently and suddenly — as the Jews believed, by the direct action of the Almighty (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Isaiah 37:36) — almost his whole army was destroyed; and nothing remained for him hut to relinquish his hopes of further conquest in the south-west, and to make a hurried retreat to his capital (2 Kings 19:36).
The later years of Sennacherib were inglorious. In B.C. 694 Babylonia revolted from him, and succeeded in re-establishing its independence. Between this date and his death the only expeditions which can be probably assigned to him are one into Cilicia and another into Edom. He certainly made no attempt to recover the laurels which he had lost in Palestine and on the borders of Egypt, but allowed Manasseh in Judea, and Tirhakah in the valley of the Nile, to remain unmolested. Domestic troubles probably occupied the later portion of his reign, which was terminated by his murder in 681 B.C. (2 Kings 19:37), after he had held the Assyrian throne for the space of twenty-four years.
Sennacherib's murder is not distinctly mentioned in the Assyrian records, but Esarhaddon appears as his son and successor, and there are traces of this prince having had at first to contend for the crown with his half-brothers, Adrammelech and Sharezer (2 Kings 19:37). The scene of the conflict was Armenia; and after it was over, Esarhaddon appears to have made an expedition into Syria, where Sidon had revolted, and, afar crushing the revolt, to have established his authority over the whole of Phoenicia, Palestine, and the adjacent countries. Mannasseh, the weak son of Hezekiah, was at this time forced to become a tributary and subject-monarch, as were also the kings of Edom, Moab, and Ammon, of Tyre, Gebal, and Arvad, of Gaza, Ekren, Ascalon, and Ashdod. Assyria's dominion was at once extended and consolidated, and the way was paved for aggressions upon Egypt, which began about B.C. 672, in Esarhaddon's ninth year.
The offense given by Manasseh to his sovereign, on account of which he was arrested and carried captive to Babylonn (2 Chronicles 33:11), may be probably assigned to the reign of Esarhaddon, who alone of aI1 the Assyrian kings maintained a residence in that city. And we may conjecture that his restoration to his kingdom (2 Chronicles 32:13) had a connection with Esarhaddon's Egyptian projects, since it would have been only prudent to secure the fidelity of Jerusalem before the perils of an Egyptian campaign were affronted. Esarhaddon carried on war with Tirhakah successfully between B.C. 673 and B.C. 670; but in B.C. 669 or 668 the fortune of war turned against him, and Tirhakah once more established his authority over the whole of Egypt.
It is somewhat remarkable that Scripture makes no mention of Esarhaddon's son and successor, Asshur-bani-pal, who mounted the Assyrian throne in B.C. 668, and reigned till B.C. 626. This prince must have been contemporary with Manasseh for twenty-five years, with Amen, and with Josiah. In the early part of his reign he made at least two expeditions against Egypt, and must have repeatedly passed through Palestine at the head of powerful armies. In his later years he warred successfully with Elam, Babylon, Armenia, Phoenicia, and Arabia. It was about the middle of his reign that the decline of Assyria began. A great Scythic invasion swept over Western Asia, and spread everywhere ruin and desolation. Assyria's distant dependencies, Egypt, Palestine, Lydia, detached themselves. Before she had time to recover from her depressed condition, her conquest was taken in hand by the combined Medes and Babylonians Nineveh fell about B.C. 616, or a little earlier, and Western Asia became a field wherein rival ambitions met and collided. Media, Babylonia, Lydia, and Egypt, all of them sought to profit by the downfall of the great power so long dominant over the Oriental world, while even such petty states as Judaea took the opportunity to aggrandize themselves (2 Kings 23:15-20; 2 Chronicles 34:6).
So far as Judaea was concerned, the world-powers which took the place of Assyria, and strove to establish their domination in the place of hers, were Babylon and Egypt. Egypt appears to have anticipated her rival. As early as the reign of Psamatik I. she recommenced aggressions upon Asia by persistent attacks upon the strongest of the Philistine cities, the famous Ashdod, and about B.C. 610, under Neco, the son and successor of Psamatik, she invaded Syria in force, defeated Josiah at Megiddo, overran Judea, Phoenicia, and Syria as far as Taurus and the middle Euphrates, and made herself mistress of the entire region between the borders of Egypt and the great city of Carchemish. Neco held possession for some years of this rich and interesting region, recovering thus the hold upon Asia which had been possessed a thousand years earlier by the great monarchs of the eighteenth dynasty — the Thothmeses and Amenhoteps. Then, however, Babylon bestirred herself. Nabopolassar, the prince who, in conjunction with the Median monarch Cyaxares, had attacked and destroyed Nineveh, became independent King of Babylon from the moment of Assyrias downfall; but it took him some time to establish his authority over the tract lying between Babylon and Carchemish, though probably he claimed a dominion over all the western provinces of the Assyrian empire from the first. Neco's conquest he viewed as a rebellion which must be crushed; but it was not till the year B.C. 605, when he was already becoming enfeebled by old age, that he found himself in a position to carry the Babylonian arms into the far West, and attempt the chastisement of the "rebel." Even then he had to give up the notion of proceeding against his enemy in person, and to depute the task of subjugation to his eldest son, the crown prince, Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar, in B.C. 605, led the Babylonian forces from the capital to Carehemish (now Jerabus), and there engaged the troops of Neco in the great battle which destroyed Egypt's last hope of maintaining her Asiatic supremacy, and installed Babylon in the position of the dominant power of South-Western Asia. From her defeat at Carchemish Egypt never recovered. She made some feeble efforts under Apries (Pharaoh-Hophra) and Amasis to effect Phoenician and Cyprian conquests; but the results were trivial, and in a short time she collapsed utterly. Babylon, on the other hand, carried all before her. Nebuchadnezzar conquered Elam, Syria, Phoenicia, Judaea, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Egypt. In his long reign of foray-three years he seems not to have met with a reverse. The Babylonian empire under his sway attained to an extraordinary degree of prosperity. Jehoiakim having "become his servant" in B.C. 605 (2 Kings 24:1), revolted from him in B.C. 602, and was deposed (2 Chronicles 36:6) and probably put to death by him (Jeremiah 22:19; Jeremiah 36:30) in B.C. 598. Jehoiachin, his son, was then set up as king, but within three months (2 Kings 24:8) displeased his lord paramount, who deprived him Of his throne, and carried him captive to Babylon in B.C. 597 (2 Kings 24:10-15). Still, Judaea was allowed to maintain its semi-independence. Zedekiah, uncle to Jehoiachin, received the crown at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:17), and swore fealty to him (2 Chronicles 36:13); but after a short time he too began to contemplate revolt, made an alliance with Egypt (Ezekiel 17:15), and in B.c. 588 openly declared himself independent of his suzerain (2 Kings 24:20). Nebuchadnezzar was not slow to accept the challenge. He at once marched against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it. Apries (Hophra), the Egyptian monarch, made one attempt to come to the assistance of his ally (Jeremiah 37:5); but the attempt failed, either through the defeat of his army or through his own want of resolution. In
B.C. 586, after a siege of eighteen months, the end came. A breach was made in the northern wall of the town, and a lodgment effected within the defenses (Jeremiah 39:2, Jeremiah 39:3). Zedekiah fled, but was pursued and made a prisoner, blinded, and carried to Babylon (Jeremiah 39:4-7). Jerusalem surrendered itself; the temple, palace, and chief houses were burnt (2 Kings 25:9); and the bulk of the population, all except the very poor, were carried off into Babylonia as captives. The history of the entire Israelite monarchy thus ends. From the accession of Saul to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar was a period of five hundred and seven years, which was divisible into three portions:
(1) from the accession of Saul to that of Rehoboam — the period of the undivided monarchy — a space of a hundred and twenty years, from B.C. 1092 to B.C. 972;
(2) from the accession of Rehoboam in Judah and of Jeroboam in Israel to the fall of Samaria — the period of the two parallel kingdoms — a space of two hundred and fifty years, from B.C. 972 to B.C. 722; and
(3) from the destruction of the Israelite kingdom to the final captivity of Judah, a period of a hundred and thirty-seven years, from B.C. 722 to B.C. 586 inclusive. During the first period Israel's fortunes were connected with those of Egypt; during the second, partly with Egypt but mainly with Assyria; during the third, to some extent with both Egypt and Assyria, but mainly with Babylon. Most, if not all, of the points of contact between Israel and these nations during the period treated of have been touched on in these pages, and the result would seem to be a remarkable general harmony and agreement between the sacred records and the profane, together with a certain residuum of difficulties, for the most part connected with the chronology. On these it is not improbable that future discoveries may throw further light; though it is, perhaps, too much to expect that all difficulties will be ultimately swept away. It does not seem to be the general way of God's providence to make everything plain to us. "The trying of faith worketh patience," and without it patience would never "have her perfect work," nor would faith itself be deserving of those encomiums and that "good report" which it obtains throughout the Christian Scriptures.
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20