Christian Churches of God

No. 212F

 

 

Descendants of Abraham

Part VI: Israel

 

(Edition 2.0 20070323-20070323-20070418)

 

The nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms: one of Judah and the other of Israel proper.

 

This section deals with the nation of Israel often referred to as the Lost Ten Tribes and their role in prophecy.

 

 

 

 

 

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(Copyright ã 2007 Wade Cox & anor.)

 

 

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Descendants of Abraham Part VI: Israel

 


 

Introduction

The story of the kingdom of Israel up until the death of Solomon is contained in the paper Rule of the Kings Part III: Solomon and the Key of David (No. 282C).

 

This work is concerned with the fate of Israel after the division. God ordained the resulting division of Solomon’s Kingdom as punishment for his idolatry

 

Upon Solomon’s death in 932 BCE, his son Rehoboam was proclaimed king. Many in Israel showed their displeasure by supporting his rival, Jeroboam, the Ephraimite.

 

The Northern Kingdom soon became idolatrous also, and it was periodically invaded and most of its inhabitants were sent into captivity. The final Assyrian invasion and deportation of Israel occurred in 722 BCE.

 

These events can be seen ultimately as a means of preserving both Israel and Judah.

 

The restoration of a united Kingdom is prophesied.

 

The reigns of all 20 kings of the Northern Kingdom will be examined chronologically.

 

A suggested Chronology of the Kings of Israel is also appended.

 

Jeroboam

The first ruler of the breakaway Kingdom of Israel was Jeroboam the son of Nebath, from the tribe of Ephraim. The complete story of his life and reign, as recorded in 1Kings 12 and 13, is dealt with in the paper Jeroboam and the Hillel Calendar (No. 191).

 

We saw that Jeroboam had been involved in a rebellion against Solomon whereby, “he lifted up his hand against the king” (1Kgs. 11:26ff.; 2Chr. 2:6). He then fled to Egypt for sanctuary, just as many others had done before and since, including Messiah’s parents (cf. Hos. 11:1; Mat. 2:15).

 

In 1Kings 11:28 it is said that Jeroboam was a very industrious and capable man who had been put in charge of the forced labour of the House of Joseph during Solomon’s extensive building programs.

 

On his return from exile following the death of Solomon, Jeroboam and the congregation of Israel came before the new king, Rehoboam, to ask that he lighten the hard service imposed by his father (2Chr. 10:2ff.). The older and more experienced advisers approached Rehoboam with a plea on behalf of Israel.

 

1Kings 12:7  And they said to him, "If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants for ever." (RSV)

 

This fundamental principle of service to one’s people was reinforced by Christ in a rebuke to his disciples.

 

Mark 10:42b-44  "You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. (RSV)

 

The need sometimes to speak a good or gentle word, even to an oppressive and hard-hearted Pharaoh let alone the people of Israel, was enjoined upon Moses by the Angel of Yahovah, as the Qur’an records.

 

Surah 20:42  Go, thou and thy brother, with My tokens, and be not faint in remembrance of Me. 43 Go, both of you, unto Pharaoh. Lo! he hath transgressed (the bounds). 44 And speak unto him a gentle word, that peradventure he may heed or fear. (Pickthal)

According to God’s purpose, however, the burden upon the Israelites was not lightened by Rehoboam, so that the division between Judah and Israel was inevitably swift, decisive and permanent. Judah was told that the division of the kingdom had been ordered by God; hence, civil war was narrowly averted … for the time being. However, “there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life” (1Kgs. 15:6).

 

The united Kingdom of Saul, David and Solomon had lasted exactly 120 years, from 1052 to 932 BCE, while the Northern Kingdom of Israel was to survive for a further 210 years. Ahijah the prophet had already informed Jeroboam that he was to be given leadership over these northern ten tribes (v. 35).

 

The story of the Northern Kingdom continues in 2Chronicles 13, where Jeroboam and Abijah, the new king of Judah, are preparing for battle.

 

2Chronicles 13:1-22  In the eighteenth year of King Jerobo'am Abi'jah began to reign over Judah. 2 He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Micai'ah the daughter of U'riel of Gib'e-ah. Now there was war between Abi'jah and Jerobo'am. 3 Abi'jah went out to battle having an army of valiant men of war, four hundred thousand picked men; and Jerobo'am drew up his line of battle against him with eight hundred thousand picked mighty warriors. 4 Then Abi'jah stood up on Mount Zemara'im which is in the hill country of E'phraim, and said, "Hear me, O Jerobo'am and all Israel! 5 Ought you not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel for ever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?

 

The covenant of salt could not be altered or rescinded (Num. 18:19) and Abijah is reminding Israel of this fact. Such a covenant is further explained in the paper Passover Questions and the Reasons for Our Faith (No. 51) under the heading ‘Salt’.

 

6 Yet Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his lord; 7 and certain worthless scoundrels gathered about him and defied Rehobo'am the son of Solomon, when Rehobo'am was young and irresolute and could not withstand them. 8 "And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David, because you are a great multitude and have with you the golden calves which Jerobo'am made you for gods. 9 Have you not driven out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of what are no gods.

 

As a direct result of Jeroboam’s slide into idolatry many of the former priests and Levites found themselves destitute and deserted the Northern Kingdom for Jerusalem.

 

2Chronicles 11:13-16  And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him from all places where they lived. 14 For the Levites left their common lands and their holdings and came to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jerobo'am and his sons cast them out from serving as priests of the LORD, 15 and he appointed his own priests for the high places, and for the satyrs, and for the calves which he had made. 16 And those who had set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came after them from all the tribes of Israel to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the LORD, the God of their fathers. (RSV)

 

It may be that fully two-thirds of the people – a great multitude – sided with Jeroboam in his rebellion (cf. also the size of the armies). The ultimate defeat of the northern Israelites was sealed, firstly by taking to themselves the priestly duties reserved for those of Aaronic or Levitical descent and, secondly, from their idolatry in worship of the golden calves. The fact is, however, that the Levites did not all remove to Jerusalem and the twenty-four divisions of the Levites had to be reconstituted from the three full divisions left in Judah plus some returnees; and that remained the case after the Babylonian captivity also.

 

Continuing in 2Chronicles 13:

10 But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. We have priests ministering to the LORD who are sons of Aaron, and Levites for their service. 11 They offer to the LORD every morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices, set out the showbread on the table of pure gold, and care for the golden lampstand that its lamps may burn every evening; for we keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken him. 12 Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers; for you cannot succeed."

 

Judah continued to uphold the correct Temple service and was favoured by God for so doing. King Asa had also removed the sun images (Heb. chamman) from all the cities of Judah (2Chr. 14:5).

 

13 Jerobo'am had sent an ambush around to come on them from behind; thus his troops were in front of Judah, and the ambush was behind them. 14 And when Judah looked, behold, the battle was before and behind them; and they cried to the LORD, and the priests blew the trumpets. 15 Then the men of Judah raised the battle shout. And when the men of Judah shouted, God defeated Jerobo'am and all Israel before Abi'jah and Judah. 16 The men of Israel fled before Judah, and God gave them into their hand. 17 Abi'jah and his people slew them with a great slaughter; so there fell slain of Israel five hundred thousand picked men. 18 Thus the men of Israel were subdued at that time, and the men of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the LORD, the God of their fathers.

 

Although the army of Judah was outnumbered two-to-one by the other Israelites in this battle, they correctly deduced that they had God (and moral right) on their side; and so prevailed. They inflicted losses of 500,000 men killed upon Israel – more than half of its warrior strength. Thus Judah was able to encroach upon Ephraim’s territory to the north and create a buffer zone.

 

19 And Abi'jah pursued Jerobo'am, and took cities from him, Bethel with its villages and Jesha'nah with its villages and Ephron with its villages. 20 Jerobo'am did not recover his power in the days of Abi'jah; and the LORD smote him, and he died. 21 But Abi'jah grew mighty. And he took fourteen wives, and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. 22 The rest of the acts of Abi'jah, his ways and his sayings, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo. (RSV)

 

King Jeroboam was finally struck down by God and died. Although his name is forever synonymous with “evil”, the Hebrew word ra‘ or ra‘ah (SHD 7451) used can mean disaster or calamity (resulting from sin) and not just moral wickedness. Jeroboam’s reign, as well as those of subsequent kings, generally proved disastrous.


Nadab

Jeroboam was followed on the throne of Israel by his son Nadab (meaning generous) who reigned for only 2 years.

 

1Kings 15:25-31  Nadab the son of Jerobo'am began to reign over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah; and he reigned over Israel two years. 26 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin which he made Israel to sin. 27 Ba'asha the son of Ahi'jah, of the house of Is'sachar, conspired against him; and Ba'asha struck him down at Gib'bethon, which belonged to the Philistines; for Nadab and all Israel were laying siege to Gib'bethon. 28 So Ba'asha killed him in the third year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his stead. 29 And as soon as he was king, he killed all the house of Jerobo'am; he left to the house of Jerobo'am not one that breathed, until he had destroyed it, according to the word of the LORD which he spoke by his servant Ahi'jah the Shi'lonite; 30 it was for the sins of Jerobo'am which he sinned and which he made Israel to sin, and because of the anger to which he provoked the LORD, the God of Israel. 31 Now the rest of the acts of Nadab, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? (RSV)

 

Little else is known of Nadab from either the Bible or secular sources. He was killed by Baasha at a place called Gibbethon just inside the border with Philistia.

 

Baasha

The second dynasty in Israel began with Baasha, son of Ahijah of the tribe of Issachar and from humble beginnings, who would certainly live up to his name (meaning wicked).

 

1Kings 15:32-34 And there was war between Asa and Ba'asha king of Israel all their days. 33 In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Ba'asha the son of Ahi'jah began to reign over all Israel at Tirzah, and reigned twenty-four years. 34 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jerobo'am and in his sin which he made Israel to sin. (RSV)

 

He reigned in the new capital Tirzah in the period ca. 909-886 BCE following its relocation from Shechem. Baasha’s idolatry was merely a continuation of what Jeroboam had begun.

 

In King Asa’s 36th year on the throne of Judah, and while that kingdom was enjoying relative peace, Baasha began a military campaign against him (2Chr. 16:1ff.). Asa called for help from the Syrian king Ben-hadad of Damascus (Heb. Darmesek) who attacked several Israelite cities in order to relieve the pressure on Judah (v. 4). However, Asa had forgotten his covenant of reliance upon God; consequently, he was told by the prophet Hanani: “henceforth, you shall have wars!” (v. 9).

 

During this turbulent period King Asa built a fortress at Mizpah on the main route north from Jerusalem (1Kgs. 15:22; 2Chr. 16:6). It was built partly from the materials Baasha had been using to fortify Ramah of Benjamin on the same road. The walls of Mizpah were discovered to be an impressive 26 feet (8 metres) thick in a 1930s American excavation of the site – now Tell en-Nasbe, seven miles (11 km) north of Jerusalem. This massive construction hints at the intensity and bitterness of the wars between the rival kingdoms.

 

1Kings 16:1-7  And the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hana'ni against Ba'asha, saying, 2 "Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jerobo'am, and have made my people Israel to sin, provoking me to anger with their sins, 3 behold, I will utterly sweep away Ba'asha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat. 4 Any one belonging to Ba'asha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and any one of his who dies in the field the birds of the air shall eat." 5 Now the rest of the acts of Ba'asha, and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 6 And Ba'asha slept with his fathers, and was buried at Tirzah; and Elah his son reigned in his stead. 7 Moreover the word of the LORD came by the prophet Jehu the son of Hana'ni against Ba'asha and his house, both because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jerobo'am, and also because he destroyed it. (RSV)

 

Although Baasha was the instrument for fulfilling Ahijah’s prophecy by killing Nadab (14:1ff.), it was still a regicide that had to be punished (see the paper Genealogy of the Messiah (No. 119)). It was subsequently returned upon Baasha’s own family by his ‘servant’ Zimri when he became king.

 

Despite his wickedness, Baasha enjoyed the third longest reign in Israel’s history (24 years) and died a natural death.

 

Elah

Elah the son of Baasha became the fourth king on Israel’s throne. His reign of two years was cut short by his own chariot-force commander, Zimri, during a bout of drunkenness. It is not unreasonable to suppose that Arza was party to the conspiracy to murder Elah.

 

1Kings 16:8-10  In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Ba'asha began to reign over Israel in Tirzah, and reigned two years. 9 But his servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him. When he was at Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, who was over the household in Tirzah, 10 Zimri came in and struck him down and killed him, in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his stead. (RSV)

 

Tirzah was an ancient Canaanite city of particular beauty. Solomon had compared his Shulammite woman to Tirzah in Song of Songs 6:4 (see the paper Song of Songs (No. 145)). It is now called Tell el-Farah and lies about 9 miles (14 km) north of modern Sabastiyeh (formerly Samaria).

 

While Judah at this time was enjoying relative stability under King Asa (who reigned a total of 41 years), Israel experienced the second murder of their incumbent king. In fact, during his reign Asa saw no fewer than seven kings come and go on the throne of Israel.

 

Zimri

Zimri was a successful cavalry officer and commanded half of Israel’s chariot force. His name means my music. Once he became king, however, Zimri belied his melodious name and set about fulfilling Jehu’s prophecy concerning the house of Baasha with ruthless efficiency.

 

1Kings 16:11-20  When he began to reign, as soon as he had seated himself on his throne, he killed all the house of Ba'asha; he did not leave him a single male of his kinsmen or his friends. 12 Thus Zimri destroyed all the house of Ba'asha, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke against Ba'asha by Jehu the prophet, 13 for all the sins of Ba'asha and the sins of Elah his son which they sinned, and which they made Israel to sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols. 14 Now the rest of the acts of Elah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 15a In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned seven days in Tirzah.

 

When Israel heard that Zimri had murdered the king in a conspiracy the army commander Omri was declared king and they took the city.

 

Zimri committed suicide by deliberately setting fire to the king’s house while still inside (v. 18). The destruction of the palace may have been one reason for the subsequent transfer of the capital to Samaria (renamed Sebaste by the Romans).

15b Now the troops were encamped against Gib'bethon, which belonged to the Philistines, 16 and the troops who were encamped heard it said, "Zimri has conspired, and he has killed the king"; therefore all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp. 17 So Omri went up from Gib'bethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah. 18 And when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king's house, and burned the king's house over him with fire, and died, 19 because of his sins which he committed, doing evil in the sight of the LORD, walking in the way of Jerobo'am, and for his sin which he committed, making Israel to sin. 20 Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and the conspiracy which he made, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? (RSV)

 

Gibbethon (the mound), the Philistine city in the tribal lands of Dan that was given to the Kohathite Levites, again figured in the story of transfer of the kingship. It was the same city of the siege in which Nadab was killed by Baasha.

 

Tibni and Omri

In verse 16 we saw another military commander, Omri (heaping), being made king by all Israel. However, Tibni (probably originally Tabni), the son of Ginath, garnered enough support from half of Israel to also be proclaimed king. What followed was a three-year civil war where Tibni was killed and Omri ascended the throne of all Israel.

 

The Jewish Encyclopedia claims that he “was regent over half the kingdom of Israel for a period of four years” (art. ‘Zimri’), while David Rohl, the Egyptologist and historian, says in The Lost Testament (Century, London, 2002) that Tibni reigned for 2 years and died in battle. Ward (The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible art. ‘Tibni’, Vol. 4, p. 641) says the civil war was three years. The Bible states simply that he “died”.

 

1Kings 16:21-28  Then the people of Israel were divided into two parts; half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri. 22 But the people who followed Omri overcame the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath; so Tibni died, and Omri became king. 23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri began to reign over Israel, and reigned for twelve years; six years he reigned in Tirzah. 24 He bought the hill of Sama'ria from Shemer for two talents of silver; and he fortified the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, Sama'ria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill.

 

The most notable achievement of Omri was the building of a new capital at Samaria, for which site at Shomeron he paid a mere two talents of silver, the same amount given by Naaman to Elisha’s mercenary servant Gehazi (2Kgs. 5:23).

 

Omri reigned six years in Tirzah, before relocating to Samaria in about 880 BCE. In The Bible as History, Werner Keller gives details of the site of the new city.

 

The choice of a site revealed the expert who was guided by strategic considerations. Samaria lies on a solitary hill, about 300 feet high, which rises gently out of a broad and fertile valley and is surrounded by a semi-circle of higher mountains. A local spring makes the place ideal for defence. (Bantam Books, Hodder & Stoughton, 1980; pp. 243-4)

 

Great military planner or not, Omri found little favour with God. He has the distinction of having done more evil than all previous kings, excepting Jeroboam perhaps.

 

25 Omri did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did more evil than all who were before him. 26 For he walked in all the way of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, and in the sins which he made Israel to sin, provoking the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger by their idols.

 

He was the Omri mentioned in the inscription on the famous Moabite Stone (now in the Louvre Museum, Paris) attributed to King Mesha of Moab whose capital was at Kir-Haresheth, the modern Kerak/Karak. Part of the inscription on the stone reads:

 

Omri [was] king of Israel, and he oppressed Moab many days, for Chemosh was angry with his land. His son followed him and he also said, ‘I will oppress Moab.’ In my days Che[mosh] said, ‘I will see my desire on him and his house. And Israel surely perished forever! (lines 4-7)

 

Israel was indeed effectively ‘to perish’ from off their land when they were deported by their Assyrian conquerors beyond the Araxes River. Chemosh here is the god associated with the golden calves that Jeroboam erected and to which children were sacrificed (see the paper The Golden Calf (No. 222)).

 

The Assyrians had already shown their intentions during Omri’s reign by attacking and pillaging the Phoenician cities of Tyre, Sidon and Byblos. An inscription of King Ashurnasir-pal II proclaimed triumphantly:

 

I marched from the Orontes … I conquered the cities … I caused great slaughter, I destroyed, I demolished, I burned. I took their warriors prisoner and impaled them on stakes before their cities. I settled Assyrians in their place … I washed my weapons in the Great Sea.

 

The Orontes is the main river flowing through Syria and is about 400 miles (640 km) long. Both Israel and Syria were to suffer the same fate at the hands of the determined Assyrians during the reign of Hoshea, although the invasions had actually begun as early as Menahem’s reign, as seen below.

 

The moral corruption that was to develop in Israel included adherence to the so-called statutes of Omri and the wicked ways of his successor, King Ahab, and was denounced by the prophet Micah.

 

Micah 6:16  For you have kept the statutes of Omri, and all the works of the house of Ahab; and you have walked in their counsels; that I may make you a desolation, and your inhabitants a hissing; so you shall bear the scorn of the peoples." (RSV)

 

1Kings 15 ends:

27 Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and the might that he showed, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 28 And Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Sama'ria; and Ahab his son reigned in his stead. (RSV)

 

Unlike several of his predecessors and despite being an unrepentant idolatrous king it seems that Omri died in peace.

 

Ahab

Although one of the most notorious of all the kings of Israel, Ahab had one of the longest reigns at 22 years, from ca. 874 to 853 BCE. He had the singular dishonour of doing more evil than all that were before him (vv. 30,33) and was also the first king to come into conflict with the Assyrians in the time of Shalmaneser III. Perhaps the two events were linked. The more evil they became the more prone to invasions they were to become.

 

1Kings 16:29-34  In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Sama'ria twenty-two years. 30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all that were before him. 31 And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, he took for wife Jez'ebel the daughter of Ethba'al king of the Sido'nians, and went and served Ba'al, and worshiped him. 32 He erected an altar for Ba'al in the house of Ba'al, which he built in Sama'ria. 33 And Ahab made an Ashe'rah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. 34 In his days Hi'el of Bethel built Jericho; he laid its foundation at the cost of Abi'ram his first-born, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun. (RSV)

 

Ahab (whose name means brother/friend of his father) married Jezebel (Yezebul) the daughter of Ethbaal (Ittobaal) king of Sidon. Ahab’s Phoenician wife inevitably led him into serving her gods, namely Baal and Astarte/Ishtar, in the same way that Solomon had been enticed by his foreign wives. The Baal here has been identified as either Baal Shamem (lord of heaven) or Melqart, ‘king of Tyre’ (or king of the underworld).

 

Hiel (God lives) of Bethel seems to have had a literal death-wish (v. 34), not for himself but for his two sons when he planned to rebuild the foundations and raise the gates of Jericho (see the curse in Jos. 6:26). David Rohl states that from this time onwards “the ruin-mound of Jericho was reoccupied on a permanent basis”. In The Lost Testament he gives an alternative and plausible reason for Hiel’s sacrifice of his sons.

 

As had been the custom for centuries in the ancient Levant, Hiel ritually sacrificed his eldest and youngest sons, Abiram and Segub, in order to lay their bodies as foundation deposits beneath the chieftain’s new residence and town gate. … Hiel’s new town is represented in the archaeological record by Iron Age pottery found at Jericho, the succeeding phases of which continue on down into Byzantine times. Now that the Holy Land stratigraphical timeline has been re-synchronised [by Rohl] with the New Chronology historical timeline (and therefore biblical history), the pattern of archaeological remains at Tell es-Sultan (the ruin-mound of Jericho) corresponds remarkably with the biblical narrative (op. cit., p.401).

 

It was to be that Jericho was not to be rebuilt but the words of God were disobeyed, with the prophesied penalty. Jericho, or Moon City, was a rebuilt on these ancient practices and sacrifices.

The Subjugation of Israel

King Shalmaneser III was sent against Israel, which was forced to pay annual tribute to avoid immediate conquest. Shalmaneser reigned ca. 858-824 BCE and his Annals record that he came up against Ahab and Israel in the 6th, 11th and 14th years of his reign. He refers to Ahab of Israel as Akhabbu of Sir’ala in these campaign records.

 

Elijah’s Prophecy

The significance of Elijah being a Gileadite or Gadite is explained in the paper Measuring the Temple (No. 137) and is shown to have relevance to the Last Days. The brook Cherith (SHD 3747) has the meaning cutting, derived from karath (3772), as in to cut a covenant.

 

1Kings 17:1-24  Now Eli'jah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word." 2 And the word of the LORD came to him, 3 "Depart from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is east of the Jordan. 4 You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." 5 So he went and did according to the word of the LORD; he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. 7 And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the LORD came to him, 9 "Arise, go to Zar'ephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwellthere. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you."

 

In this text we see a demonstration of the promise by God that he would feed His servants even in times of famine, both physical and spiritual (cf. also Isa. 49:10). Isaiah 33 confirms that the righteous will have their bread and water supplied; and there were none more righteous than Elijah at this time.

 

Isaiah 33:15-16  He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil, 16 he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him, his water will be sure. (RSV)

 

Elijah was then sent to Zarephath, the Sarepta of Luke 4:26, now known as Surafend. Its name means refinery, from the root meaning to smelt, refine or test.

 

10 So he arose and went to Zar'ephath; and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink." 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, "Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." 12 And she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a cruse; and now, I am gathering a couple of sticks, that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." 13 And Eli'jah said to her, "Fear not; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the LORD the God of Israel, `The jar of meal shall not be spent, and the cruse of oil shall not fail, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'" 15 And she went and did as Eli'jah said; and she, and he, and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of meal was not spent, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD which he spoke by Eli'jah. 17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; and his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Eli'jah, "What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!" 19 And he said to her, "Give me your son." And he took him from her bosom, and carried him up into the upper chamber, where he lodged, and laid him upon his own bed. 20 And he cried to the LORD, "O LORD my God, hast thou brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?" 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried to the LORD, "O LORD my God, let this child's soul come into him again." 22 And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Eli'jah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Eli'jah took the child, and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and delivered him to his mother; and Eli'jah said, "See, your son lives." 24 And the woman said to Eli'jah, "Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth." (RSV)

 

The city lived up to its name by being a place of testing for the widow: she was shown undeniably who was the man of God, i.e. His spokesman rather than simply a prophet as a foreteller of events. This incident also shows that even God’s greatest prophets are required to be persistent in prayer, and that an answer may not be given immediately. Although He hears all prayer, God responds according to His own timing.

 

As noted earlier, God also ensures that His servants are fed and watered at all times, in this case by a woman, but also by birds (v. 5) and an angel (19:5-6).

 

1Kings 18:1-46  After many days the word of the LORD came to Eli'jah, in the third year, saying, "Go, show yourself to Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth." 2 So Eli'jah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Sama'ria. 3 And Ahab called Obadi'ah, who was over the household. (Now Obadi'ah revered the LORD greatly; 4 and when Jez'ebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, Obadi'ah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)

 

Bullinger notes that this is the first recorded instance of civil power being used against the true religion (Companion Bible), although the civil power was used in Egypt against the covenant people. It is here being used to suppress the prophets of God within Israel itself. This was to continue for centuries wherever Israel was established, either along with or mingled with other nations.

 

5 And Ahab said to Obadi'ah, "Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys; perhaps we may find grass and save the horses and mules alive, and not lose some of the animals." 6 So they divided the land between them to pass through it; Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadi'ah went in another direction by himself. 7 And as Obadi'ah was on the way, behold, Eli'jah met him; and Obadi'ah recognized him, and fell on his face, and said, "Is it you, my lord Eli'jah?" 8 And he answered him, "It is I. Go, tell your lord, `Behold, Eli'jah is here.'" 9 And he said, "Wherein have I sinned, that you would give your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? 10 As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom whither my lord has not sent to seek you; and when they would say, `He is not here,' he would take an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you.

 

We see here the lengths to which the false religious system goes to find (and, where possible, kill) the prophets of God. However, the system is only permitted certain power for a specific time as all nations and peoples are ultimately in God’s hands. He may also choose to delegate power over the nations to His prophets, such as Elijah here and Jeremiah (Jer. 1:10).

 

2Chronicles 20:6  "O LORD, God of our fathers, art thou not God in heaven? Dost thou not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In thy hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee. (RSV)

 

Continuing in 1Kings 18:

11 And now you say, `Go, tell your lord, "Behold, Eli'jah is here."' 12 And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the LORD will carry you whither I know not; and so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have revered the LORD from my youth. 13 Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jez'ebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid a hundred men of the LORD'S prophets by fifties in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? 14 And now you say, `Go, tell your lord, "Behold, Eli'jah is here"'; and he will kill me."15 And Eli'jah said, "As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today." 16 So Obadi'ah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Eli'jah. 17 When Ahab saw Eli'jah, Ahab said to him, "Is it you, you troubler of Israel?" 18 And he answered, "I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father's house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and followed the Ba'als. 19 Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the four hundred and fifty prophets of Ba'al and the four hundred prophets of Ashe'rah, who eat at Jez'ebel's table." (RSV)

 

The full text (vv. 20-40) of Elijah’s test of spiritual strength with the 450 priests of Baal is given in the paper Law and the Second Commandment (No. 254). Following the killing of all these idolatrous priests by Elijah and the people at the brook Kishon, the prophet appeared again before King Ahab.

 

1Kings 18:41-46  And Eli'jah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of the rushing of rain." 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Eli'jah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees. 43 And he said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." And he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And he said, "Go again seven times." 44 And at the seventh time he said, "Behold, a little cloud like a man's hand is rising out of the sea." And he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, `Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.'" 45 And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. 46 And the hand of the LORD was on Eli'jah; and he girded up his loins and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. (RSV)

 

Carmel, meaning garden-land and hence a particularly fertile area of Israel, was referred to in the records of Pharaoh Thutmosis III in the 15th century BCE as Holy Head, and so has always had some spiritual significance. Mount Carmel was supposedly the location of an oracle, which the Roman Emperor Vespasian consulted before besieging Jerusalem.

 

Elijah is said to have lived in a particular cave (of the Sons of the Prophet; 1Kgs.19:9), located on the outskirts of modern Haifa. Even today the cave is a place of pilgrimage and prayer for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. There is also a perennial fountain on the Carmel range said to be that used by Elijah, and in the southeast tip of the range is the supposed site of the testing of Baal, called in Arabic, El-Muhraka, the place of burning. The nearby river Kishon rises in Mt. Tabor and empties into the Mediterranean.

 

1Kings 19:1-21  Ahab told Jez'ebel all that Eli'jah had done, and how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jez'ebel sent a messenger to Eli'jah, saying, "So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow." 3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

 

Queen Jezebel was now extremely vexed because her prophets had not only been shown to be powerless before the single priest of God but also had been destroyed. She was determined to take revenge on Elijah, who literally ran for his life into a remote area. The symbols of the rain and the power exercised by Elijah are important to the function of the elect in the Last Days. Elijah will again be sent to Israel in the Last Days and he will exercise the power of the Holy Spirit as the Seven Spirits of God in command of the Seven Churches, culminating in the Laws of God being developed and the nexus of the Law being restored (see the paper Seven Spirits of God (No. 64)). Why then did Elijah run to Judah from Israel after performing such a miracle? Was he entirely afraid or simply weary of the work of God? The symbol is that He will deal with Israel and the false religions and then also with Judah, who is separate to the nation of Israel but is to be rejoined to it. In the strength and power of God he will rebuke Israel and the nations of the world following that.

 

4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked that he might die, saying, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers." 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree; and behold, an angel touched him, and said to him, "Arise and eat." 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the LORD came again a second time, and touched him, and said, "Arise and eat, else the journey will be too great for you." 8 And he arose, and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.

 

Exactly as Moses had done and Christ would do in the future, Elijah fasted for 40 days and nights in the wilderness (cf. Ex. 34:28; Mat. 4:1-2). It is significant that these three met together in the transfiguration scene witnessed by a select few disciples during the demonstration of the Kingdom of God in power (Mk. 9:1-4). See also the paper The Angel of YHVH (No. 24).

 

Mark 9:1-4  And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power." 2 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them, 3 and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Eli'jah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. (RSV)

 

Continuing in 1Kings 19:

9 And there he came to a cave, and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, "What are you doing here, Eli'jah?" 10 He said, "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."

 

Bullinger’s comment here is that “there were lay altars (local) for customary individual offerings by laymen, as well as at Jerusalem. These had no horns.” (ibid.) The tribes of Israel sacrificed locally and conducted prayer services locally while their priestly divisions were on duty at the Tabernacle and later at the Temple under Solomon.

 

11 And he said, "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And when Eli'jah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Eli'jah?" 14 He said, "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."

 

The still small voice was that of an angelic being (cf. The Angel of YHVH (No. 24)). The word for word repetition of Elijah’s explanation to this Angel indicates its importance (vv. 10,14).

 

15 And the LORD said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, you shall anoint Haz'ael to be king over Syria; 16 and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel; and Eli'sha the son of Shaphat of A'bel-meho'lah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And him who escapes from the sword of Haz'ael shall Jehu slay; and him who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Eli'sha slay. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Ba'al, and every mouth that has not kissed him."

 

Elijah is given the task of anointing two kings, of Syria and Israel, and one prophet, Elisha, who was eventually to take over from him.

 

The practice of bending the knee and kissing the images of Baal is carried on to this day in a number of religions including the churches that purport to be Christian.

 

Elisha anointed

19 So he departed from there, and found Eli'sha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing, with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Eli'jah passed by him and cast his mantle upon him. 20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Eli'jah, and said, "Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you." And he said to him, "Go back again; for what have I done to you?" 21 And he returned from following him, and took the yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Eli'jah, and ministered to him. (RSV)

 

Elisha the son of Shaphat has the composite meaning of “God is salvation: He has judged”. Elisha demonstrated the same unwillingness to go immediately with Elijah, as did some of Jesus’ potential disciples (Lk. 9:57-62). A similar reluctance followed by obedience, as required by God, is found in the parable of the two sons (Mat. 21:28ff.).

 

Israel’s War with Syria

Syria was also known as Aram or the Aramaean Kingdom of Damascus. 1Kings 20 details the war that developed between Ben-hadad of Syria and his thirty-two allies on one side and Israel on the other.

 

1Kings 20:1-43  Ben-ha'dad the king of Syria gathered all his army together; thirty-two kings were with him, and horses and chariots; and he went up and besieged Sama'ria, and fought against it. 2 And he sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, and said to him, "Thus says Ben-ha'dad: 3 `Your silver and your gold are mine; your fairest wives and children also are mine.'" 4 And the king of Israel answered, "As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have." 5 The messengers came again, and said, "Thus says Ben-ha'dad: `I sent to you, saying, "Deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children"; 6 nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants, and lay hands on whatever pleases them, and take it away.'" 7 Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, "Mark, now, and see how this man is seeking trouble; for he sent to me for my wives and my children, and for my silver and my gold, and I did not refuse him." 8 And all the elders and all the people said to him, "Do not heed or consent." 9 So he said to the messengers of Ben-ha'dad, "Tell my lord the king, `All that you first demanded of your servant I will do; but this thing I cannot do.'" And the messengers departed and brought him word again. 10 Ben-ha'dad sent to him and said, "The gods do so to me, and more also, if the dust of Sama'ria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me." 11 And the king of Israel answered, "Tell him, `Let not him that girds on his armor boast himself as he that puts it off.'" 12 When Ben-ha'dad heard this message as he was drinking with the kings in the booths, he said to his men, "Take your positions." And they took their positions against the city. 13 And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, "Thus says the LORD, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day; and you shall know that I am the LORD." 14 And Ahab said, "By whom?" He said, "Thus says the LORD, By the servants of the governors of the districts." Then he said, "Who shall begin the battle?" He answered, "You." 15 Then he mustered the servants of the governors of the districts, and they were two hundred and thirty-two; and after them he mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand. 16 And they went out at noon, while Ben-ha'dad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, he and the thirty-two kings who helped him. 17 The servants of the governors of the districts went out first. And Ben-ha'dad sent out scouts, and they reported to him, "Men are coming out from Sama'ria." 18 He said, "If they have come out for peace, take them live; or if they have come out for war, take them alive." 19 So these went out of the city, the servants of the governors of the districts, and the army which followed them. 20 And each killed his man; the Syrians fled and Israel pursued them, but Ben-ha'dad king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen. 21 And the king of Israel went out, and captured the horses and chariots, and killed the Syrians with a great slaughter. 22 Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel, and said to him, "Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do; for in the spring the king of Syria will come up against you."

 

Springtime was traditionally the time to begin military campaigning. 2Samuel 11:1 reads: “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go forth to battle …” (RSV); although the literal Hebrew is at the return of the year, indicating precisely when the year begins in God’s true Calendar, namely, March/April in the northern hemisphere. It will be so also in the Last Days that the Spring-offensives will determine the conduct of some theatre operations such as of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2007. The major offensives will be from Spring to Summer and the King of the South will push at the King of the North from Spring to Summer, and many of the sons of Shem will die in that war.

 

23 And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, "Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. 24 And do this: remove the kings, each from his post, and put commanders in their places; 25 and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot; then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they." And he hearkened to their voice, and did so. 26 In the spring Ben-ha'dad mustered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel. 27 And the people of Israel were mustered, and were provisioned, and went against them; the people of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Syrians filled the country. 28 And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, "Thus says the LORD, `Because the Syrians have said, "The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys," therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.'" 29 And they encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle was joined; and the people of Israel smote of the Syrians a hundred thousand foot soldiers in one day. 30 And the rest fled into the city of Aphek; and the wall fell upon twenty-seven thousand men that were left. Ben-ha'dad also fled, and entered an inner chamber in the city. 31 And his servants said to him, "Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings; let us put sackcloth on our loins and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will spare your life." 32 So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and went to the king of Israel and said, "Your servant Ben-ha'dad says, `Pray, let me live.'" And he said, "Does he still live? He is my brother." 33 Now the men were watching for an omen, and they quickly took it up from him and said, "Yes, your brother Ben-ha'dad." Then he said, "Go and bring him." Then Ben-ha'dad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot. 34 And Ben-ha'dad said to him, "The cities which my father took from your father I will restore; and you may establish bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Sama'ria." And Ahab said, "I will let you go on these terms." So he made a covenant with him and let him go.

Note that they encamped seven days and joined battle on the seventh day. This is the same as it was at Jericho and has a similar symbolism (see the paper The Fall of Jericho (No. 42)).

 

Ahab actually sinned by sparing the defeated Ben-hadad’s life and this subsequently brought great trouble to the whole of Israel (1Kgs. 20:20-43).

 

The story continues in verse 35.

35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow at the command of the LORD, "Strike me, I pray." But the man refused to strike him. 36 Then he said to him, "Because you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as you have gone from me, a lion shall kill you." And as soon as he had departed from him, a lion met him and killed him.

 

Josephus identified this certain man with Micaiah in 1Kings 22:8. Severe and sometimes immediate consequences result from failure to obey a directive from God through His servants the prophets.

 

37 Then he found another man, and said, "Strike me, I pray." And the man struck him, smiting and wounding him. 38 So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. 39 And as the king passed, he cried to the king and said, "Your servant went out into the midst of the battle; and behold, a soldier turned and brought a man to me, and said, `Keep this man; if by any means he be missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.' 40 And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone." The king of Israel said to him, "So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it." 41 Then he made haste to take the bandage away from his eyes; and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 And he said to him, "Thus says the LORD, `Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.'" 43 And the king of Israel went to his house resentful and sullen, and came to Sama'ria. (RSV)


Naboth’s Vineyard

1Kings 21:1-29  Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Sama'ria. 2 And after this Ahab said to Naboth, "Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money."

 

This is precisely the type of situation that Samuel had warned Israel about when, in their faithlessness, they had asked for a flesh-and-blood king like the surrounding nations (1Sam. 8:11,14). In accordance with the Law (Lev. 25:23; Num. 36:7,8), Naboth quite rightly refused to part with his inheritance, even to a king of Israel.

 

3 But Naboth said to Ahab, "The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers." 4 And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, "I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers." And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food. 5 But Jez'ebel his wife came to him, and said to him, "Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?" 6 And he said to her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to him, `Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it'; and he answered, `I will not give you my vineyard.'" 7 And Jez'ebel his wife said to him, "Do you now govern Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite." 8 So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who dwelt with Naboth in his city. 9 And she wrote in the letters, "Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people; 10 and set two base fellows opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, `You have cursed God and the king.' Then take him out, and stone him to death." 11 And the men of his city, the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city, did as Jez'ebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters which she had sent to them, 12 they proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. 13 And the two base fellows came in and sat opposite him; and the base fellows brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, "Naboth cursed God and the king." So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death with stones.

 

The matter of swearing an oath falsely (vv. 10-13) is dealt with in the paper Law and the Third Commandment (No. 255).

 

14 Then they sent to Jez'ebel, saying, "Naboth has been stoned; he is dead." 15 As soon as Jez'ebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jez'ebel said to Ahab, "Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead." 16 And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it. 17 Then the word of the LORD came to Eli'jah the Tishbite, saying, 18 "Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Sama'ria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. 19 And you shall say to him, `Thus says the LORD, "Have you killed, and also taken possession?"' And you shall say to him, `Thus says the LORD: "In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood."'" 20 Ahab said to Eli'jah, "Have you found me, O my enemy?" He answered, "I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD. 21 Behold, I will bring evil upon you; I will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel; 22 and I will make your house like the house of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, and like the house of Ba'asha the son of Ahi'jah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin. 23 And of Jez'ebel the LORD also said, `The dogs shall eat Jez'ebel within the bounds of Jezreel.' 24 Any one belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and any one of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat."

 

Jezebel’s blood was thus to join Naboth’s in the dust of Jezreel rather than in her capital city of Samaria.

 

25 (There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jez'ebel his wife incited. 26 He did very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD cast out before the people of Israel.) 27 And when Ahab heard those words, he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted and lay in sackcloth, and went about dejectedly. 28 And the word of the LORD came to Eli'jah the Tishbite, saying, 29 "Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days; but in his son's days I will bring the evil upon his house." (RSV)

 

In spite of the multitude of Ahab’s evil deeds, as soon as he fasted and humbled himself before God, his repentance (however brief) was accepted and the intended retribution was put upon his son’s head instead. Ahab’s repentance can be compared with that of King Manasseh of Judah (2Chr. 33:12-13).

 

Assuming Ahab as a devotee of Baal was a type of Satan, we can deduce from this that even the present ‘king’ of this Earth will one day repent and find acceptance from God. The Great Whore of the religious systems of this world, typified by his consort Jezebel, will be totally cut off and destroyed, however. She typifies the religion of the god of this world for whom the name King of Tyre is an epithet. Her death represents the cutting of Tyre and Sidon, symbols of religious power on this Earth.

 

In his book, The History and Religion of Israel, Dr. G.W. Anderson linked the breakdown in social justice with the introduction of the Baal system to Israel.

 

As the importation of Baal worship involved a denial of the supreme lordship of Yahweh in Israel, so the ruthless removal of Naboth and his sons was an outrage against the status and rights of the ordinary Israelite within the covenant community and against the sanctity of the administration of justice. Developments had already begun which were to be increasingly evident in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah: the pressure, not only of Canaanite fertility religion, but of the cults of foreign kingdoms; the threat to traditional norms of equity brought about by economic and social changes; and the corruption of judges and witnesses in the interests of the rich and powerful. Later prophets inveighed against these abuses. (Oxford University Press, 1966; p.94)

 

Anderson could hardly better describe the situation in the nations descended from Israel today, nearly 2900 years later.

 

In its article ‘Ahab’, the Jewish Encyclopedia gives a more favourable view of this particular king of Israel.

 

Though held up as a warning to sinners, Ahab is also described as displaying noble traits of character (Sanh. 102b; Yer. Sanh. xi. 29b). Talmudic literature represents him as an enthusiastic idolater who left no hilltop in Palestine without an idol before which he bowed, and to which he or his wife, Jezebel, brought his weight in gold as a daily offering. So defiant in his apostasy was he that he had inscribed on all the doors of the city of Samaria the words, "Ahab hath abjured the living God of Israel." Nevertheless, he paid great respect to the representatives of learning, "to the Torah given in twenty-two letters," for which reason he was permitted to reign for twenty-two successive years. He generously supported the students of the Law out of his royal treasury, in consequence of which half his sins were forgiven him.

 

This belies the persecution of his wife of the prophets. Ahab supported both sides to cover contingencies, as it were.

 

Israel and Judah at War with Syria

We see that there had been a peace of sorts between Israel and Syria for three years (cf. 20:34). However, the warlike tendencies of the kings of Israel soon surfaced with an attempt to retake Ramoth-gilead from the Syrians, with Judah’s help. This was a City of Refuge, probably taken in the former war (16:34; 20:43) by Ben-hadad I from Ahab’s father Omri; however, his son Ben-hadad II agreed to restore it to Israel. During this time Jehoshaphat “strengthened himself against Israel” (2Chr. 17.1).

 

1Kings 22:1-39  For three years Syria and Israel continued without war. 2 But in the third year Jehosh'aphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. 3 And the king of Israel said to his servants, "Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, and we keep quiet and do not take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?" 4 And he said to Jehosh'aphat, "Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?" And Jehosh'aphat said to the king of Israel, "I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses." 5 And Jehosh'aphat said to the king of Israel, "Inquire first for the word of the LORD." 6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, "Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I forbear?" And they said, "Go up; for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king." 7 But Jehosh'aphat said, "Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?" 8 And the king of Israel said to Jehosh'aphat, "There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micai'ah the son of Imlah; but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil." And Jehosh'aphat said, "Let not the king say so." 9 Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, "Bring quickly Micai'ah the son of Imlah." 10 Now the king of Israel and Jehosh'aphat the king of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Sama'ria; and all the prophets were prophesying before them. 11 And Zedeki'ah the son of Chena'anah made for himself horns of iron, and said, "Thus says the LORD, `With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.'" 12 And all the prophets prophesied so, and said, "Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the LORD will give it into the hand of the king." 13 And the messenger who went to summon Micai'ah said to him, "Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king; let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably." 14 But Micai'ah said, "As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I will speak." 15 And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, "Micai'ah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we forbear?" And he answered him, "Go up and triumph; the LORD will give it into the hand of the king." 16 But the king said to him, "How many times shall I adjure you that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?" 17 And he said, "I saw all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd; and the LORD said, `These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.'"

 

The forthcoming battle against the Syrians is also described in 2Chronicles 18:2ff. Christ himself spoke of similar lost souls in Israel in his day.

 

Matthew 9:35-38  And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." (RSV)

 

Continuing in 1Kings 22:

18 And the king of Israel said to Jehosh'aphat, "Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?" 19 And Micai'ah said, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; 20 and the LORD said, `Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?' And one said one thing, and another said another. 21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, `I will entice him.' 22 And the LORD said to him, `By what means?' And he said, `I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' And he said, `You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go forth and do so.' 23 Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the LORD has spoken evil concerning you." 24 Then Zedeki'ah the son of Chena'anah came near and struck Micai'ah on the cheek, and said, "How did the Spirit of the LORD go from me to speak to you?" 25 And Micai'ah said, "Behold, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide yourself." 26 And the king of Israel said, "Seize Micai'ah, and take him back to Amon the governor of the city and to Jo'ash the king's son; 27 and say, `Thus says the king, "Put this fellow in prison, and feed him with scant fare of bread and water, until I come in peace."'" 28 And Micai'ah said, "If you return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me." And he said, "Hear, all you peoples!"

 

The word for hear is shama‘ (SHD 8085) meaning not just to listen with one’s ears but, more importantly, to obey or be obedient. It is the same term used for the ‘Shema Ysrael (Deut. 6:4).

 

29 So the king of Israel and Jehosh'aphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. 30 And the king of Israel said to Jehosh'aphat, "I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes." And the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle. 31 Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, "Fight with neither small nor great, but only with the king of Israel." 32 And when the captains of the chariots saw Jehosh'aphat, they said, "It is surely the king of Israel." So they turned to fight against him; and Jehosh'aphat cried out. 33 And when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him. 34 But a certain man drew his bow at a venture, and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate; therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, "Turn about, and carry me out o the battle, for I am wounded." 35 And the battle grew hot that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died; and the blood of the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot. 36 And about sunset a cry went through the army, "Every man to his city, and every man to his country!" 37 So the king died, and was brought to Sama'ria; and they buried the king in Sama'ria. 38 And they washed the chariot by the pool of Sama'ria, and the dogs licked up his blood, and the harlots washed themselves in it, according to the word of the LORD which he had spoken. 39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he built, and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

 

The ivory houses mentioned in verse 39 were long thought to have been inventions by the writer of the Book of Kings (i.e. Jeremiah, according to the Talmud). During two archaeological excavations in 1908-10 and 1931-35, however, the site of the former capital of Samaria revealed some surprising finds.

 

On the acropolis on the west side of the hill foundations and walls of a building were exposed. This enclosed a wide courtyard and was a royal palace of the northern kingdom of Israel. …

 

As the rubble was being carted off the diggers very quickly noticed the innumerable splinters of ivory that it contained. Finds of ivory in itself are nothing unusual in Palestinian excavation. On almost every site this expensive material is encountered, but always in isolated pieces, yet in Samaria the ground is literally covered with them. At every step, every square yard, they came across these yellowish brown chips and flakes, as well as fragments which still showed the marvellous craftsmanship of these elegant reliefs carved by Phoenician masters. …

 

Obviously this monarch did not build his entire palace of ivory. … It is now quite clear what happened: Ahab had the rooms of the palace decorated with this wonderful material and filled them with ivory furniture (Keller, The Bible as History, op. cit., p. 245-6).

 

Once again, the Bible record stands up to the most minute scrutiny when viewed alongside archaeological finds and in the light of secular historical records. Werner Keller concurs with this sentiment (hence the title of his book) by adding:

 

The proofs of the historical basis for the drought [1Kgs. 17:1] and for Ahab’s father-in-law Ethbaal of Sidon were provided by Menander of Ephesus, a Phoenician historian. … Menander records the catastrophic drought which set in throughout Palestine and Syria during the reign of Ittobaal [Ethbaal] and lasted a whole year. (ibid., p.246)

 

As we saw in 1Kings 22:37, after Ahab was killed in battle his body was taken to Samaria and buried in that city. He thus suffered a less ignominious end than either his wife or son.

 

Ahaziah

The fourth dynasty in Israel continued with its ninth king, Ahaziah, son of the infamous Ahab. He ascended the throne in the 17th year of Jehoshaphat of Judah, but reigned for only two years.

 

1Kings 22:40-53  So Ahab slept with his fathers; and Ahazi'ah his son reigned in his stead. 41 Jehosh'aphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. 42 Jehosh'aphat was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Azu'bah the daughter of Shilhi. 43 He walked in all the way of Asa his father; he did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the LORD; yet the high places were not taken away, and the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. 44 Jehosh'aphat also made peace with the king of Israel. 45 Now the rest of the acts of Jehosh'aphat, and his might that he showed, and how he warred, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 46 And the remnant of the male cult prostitutes who remained in the days of his father Asa, he exterminated from the land. 47 There was no king in Edom; a deputy was king. 48 Jehosh'aphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold; but they did not go, for the ships were wrecked at E'zion-ge'ber. 49 Then Ahazi'ah the son of Ahab said to Jehosh'aphat, "Let my servants go with your servants in the ships," but Jehosh'aphat was not willing.

 

2Chronicles 20:35-37 expands upon the story and highlights inappropriate alliances.

37 Then Elie'zer the son of Do-dav'ahu of Mare'shah prophesied against Jehosh'aphat, saying, "Because you have joined with Ahazi'ah, the LORD will destroy what you have made." And the ships were wrecked and were not able to go to Tarshish. (RSV)

1Kings 22 continues:

50 And Jehosh'aphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father; and Jeho'ram his son reigned in his stead. 51 Ahazi'ah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Sama'ria in the seventeenth year of Jehosh'aphat king of Judah, and he reigned two years over Israel. 52 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. 53 He served Ba'al and worshiped him, and provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger in every way that his father had done. (RSV)


We can see the evil influence that Israel had exerted upon Judah from 2Kings 8:26-27, where Ahaziah “did evil in the sight of the Lord as did the house of Ahab: for he was the son-in-law of the house of Ahab.”

 

2Kings 1:1-18  After the death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel.

 

David had previously subdued Moab (2Sam. 8:2) and, at the break-up of the united Kingdom, control over them passed to Israel. The Moabite Stone records the rebellion of Moab following the death of King Ahab. The text in 2Kings 1 continues:

 

2 Now Ahazi'ah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber in Sama'ria, and lay sick; so he sent messengers, telling them, "Go, inquire of Ba'al-ze'bub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness."

 

A fatal mistake … as we see in verse 4. Baal-zebub, the pagan lord of the flies, had its name changed by the Jews to Beel-zebul (lord of dung); this became the Greek Baal-zebul (lord of abominable idols) as in Matthew 12:24, and was identified with Satan (v. 26). Consulting or serving ‘gods that are not gods’ or demons was strictly forbidden (Ex. 23:13; 2Kgs. 17:35, etc.).

 

3 But the angel of the LORD said to Eli'jah the Tishbite, "Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Sama'ria, and say to them, `Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Ba'al-ze'bub, the god of Ekron?' 4 Now therefore thus says the LORD, `You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone, but you shall surely die.'" So Eli'jah went. 5 The messengers returned to the king, and he said to them, "Why have you returned?" 6 And they said to him, "There came a man to meet us, and said to us, `Go back to the king who sent you, and say to him, Thus says the LORD, Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Ba'al-ze'bub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone, but shall surely die.'" 7 He said to them, "What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?" 8 They answered him, "He wore a garment of haircloth, with a girdle of leather about his loins." And he said, "It is Eli'jah the Tishbite."

 

The true prophets of God often wore rough or hairy clothing (cf. Zech. 13:4) as a token of their humility perhaps or as a kind of permanent sackcloth in mourning for their nation and its inhabitants. John the Baptist, who was likened to Elijah, was another prophet clothed in rough garments (Mat.3:4; 11:8).

 

9 Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty men with his fifty. He went up to Eli'jah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, "O man of God, the king says, `Come down.'" 10 But Eli'jah answered the captain of fifty, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then fire came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. 11 Again the king sent to him another captain of fifty men with his fifty. And he went up and said to him, "O man of God, this is the king's order, `Come down quickly!'" 12 But Eli'jah answered them, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. 13 Again the king sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Eli'jah, and entreated him, "O man of God, I pray you, let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight. 14 Lo, fire came down from heaven, and consumed the two former captains of fifty men with their fifties; but now let my life be precious in your sight."

 

Elijah’s calling down of fire from heaven was considered an historical event worth repeating – at least to the disciples James and John, who happened to be in the “Samaria” of Elijah at the time of their request to Jesus (Lk. 9:54).

 

15 Then the angel of the LORD said to Eli'jah, "Go down with him; do not be afraid of him." So he arose and went down with him to the king, 16 and said to him, "Thus says the LORD, `Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Ba'al-ze'bub, the god of Ekron, – is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of his word? – therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone, but you shall surely die.'" 17 So he died according to the word of the LORD which Eli'jah had spoken. Jeho'ram, his brother, became king in his stead in the second year of Jeho'ram the son of Jehosh'aphat, king of Judah, because Ahazi'ah had no son. 18 Now the rest of the acts of Ahazi'ah which he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? (RSV)


The taking of Elijah by a whirlwind (2Kgs. 2:1-17) is covered in the paper
The Witnesses (including the Two Witnesses) (No. 135). He was succeeded in the chief prophet-ship of Israel by Elisha (God is salvation), who had been called by God about ten years earlier (1Kgs. 19:16). He referred to Elijah as my father, the repetition of this term (2:12) giving an implied meaning of revered or beloved father-figure or mentor. The term Father is now forbidden to the Church by Christ; it is to be used of God and of no priest.

 

It was noted also that Elisha had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit before the latter was “taken” by God. Bullinger suggests that this was fulfilled in the number of recorded miracles the two prophets performed: Elijah performed eight miracles, Elisha sixteen miracles.

 

2Kings 2:18-25  And they came back to him, while he tarried at Jericho, and he said to them, "Did I not say to you, Do not go?" 19 Now the men of the city said to Eli'sha, "Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful." 20 He said, "Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it." So they brought it to him. 21 Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it, and said, "Thus says the LORD, I have made this water wholesome; henceforth neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it." 22 So the water has been wholesome to this day, according to the word which Eli'sha spoke. 23 He went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!" 24 And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. 25 From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and thence he returned to Sama'ria. (RSV)

 

The Hebrew word na’ar used here was also applied to Isaac (28 years old), Joseph (39) and Rehoboam (40), as per Bullinger’s note (Comp. Bible). It means youth and covers the same broad meaning.

 

Jehoram

The tenth king to reign in Israel was Jehoram or Joram, Ahab’s son by Jezebel and the brother of the previous king Ahaziah who produced no male heir (v. 17). Coincidentally, there was a king named Jehoram on the throne of Judah at the same time; he had all his brothers killed as potential rivals (2Chr. 21:4). This Jehoram also married Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, and by so doing effectively introduced idolatry into Judah from Israel (cf. 2Chr. 21:5-6).

 

2Chronicles 21:13  but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem into unfaithfulness, as the house of Ahab led Israel into unfaithfulness, and also you have killed your brothers, of your father's house, who were better than yourself; (RSV)

 

Israel was consistently held up as an example that Judah ought not to follow (also 2Chr. 17:4).

 

2Kings 3:1-27  In the eighteenth year of Jehosh'aphat king of Judah, Jeho'ram the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Sama'ria, and he reigned twelve years. 2 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, though not like his father and mother, for he put away the pillar of Ba'al which his father had made. 3 Nevertheless he clung to the sin of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from it.

 

Jehoram’s evil was tempered somewhat by the fact that he got rid of the pillar dedicated to Baal worship in Samaria.

 

4 Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder; and he had to deliver annually to the king of Israel a hundred thousand lambs, and the wool of a hundred thousand rams. 5 But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6 So King Jeho'ram marched out of Sama'ria at that time and mustered all Israel. 7 And he went and sent word to Jehosh'aphat king of Judah, "The king of Moab has rebelled against me; will you go with me to battle against Moab?" And he said, "I will go; I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses." 8 Then he said, "By which way shall we march?" Jeho'ram answered, "By the way of the wilderness of Edom." 9 So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. And when they had made a circuitous march of seven days, there was no water for the army or for the beasts which followed them. 10 Then the king of Israel said, "Alas! The LORD has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab."

 

In this case God arranged for the Moabites to succeed in the battle against an unlikely alliance of Israel, Judah and Edom. The latter’s seven-day circuit through the wilderness was not to have the positive result achieved by Joshua and the Israelites when they circled around Jericho in seven days (see the paper The Fall of Jericho (No. 142)).

 

Elisha’s Prophecy

11 And Jehosh'aphat said, "Is there no prophet of the LORD here, through whom we may inquire of the LORD?" Then one of the king of Israel's servants answered, "Eli'sha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Eli'jah." 12 And Jehosh'aphat said, "The word of the LORD is with him." So the king of Israel and Jehosh'aphat and the king of Edom went down to him. 13 And Eli'sha said to the king of Israel, "What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother." But the king of Israel said to him, "No; it is the LORD who has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab." 14 And Eli'sha said, "As the LORD of hosts lives, whom I serve, were it not that I have regard for Jehosh'aphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you, nor see you. 15 But now bring me a minstrel." And when the minstrel played, the power of the LORD came upon him. 16 And he said, "Thus says the LORD, `I will make this dry stream-bed full of pools.' 17 For thus says the LORD, `You shall not see wind or rain, but that stream-bed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your cattle, and your beasts.' 18 This is a light thing in the sight of the LORD; he will also give the Moabites into your hand, 19 and you shall conquer every fortified city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop up all springs of water, and ruin every good piece of land with stones." 20 The next morning, about the time of offering the sacrifice, behold, water came from the direction of Edom, till the country was filled with water. 21 When all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them, all who were able to put on armor, from the youngest to the oldest, were called out, and were drawn up at the frontier. 22 And when they rose early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood. 23 And they said, "This is blood; the kings have surely fought together, and slain one another. Now then, Moab, to the spoil!" 24 But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose and attacked the Moabites, till they fled before them; and they went forward, slaughtering the Moabites as they went. 25 And they overthrew the cities, and on every good piece of land every man threw a stone, until it was covered; they stopped every spring of water, and felled all the good trees; till only its stones were left in Kir-har'eseth, and the slingers surrounded and conquered it. 26 When the king of Moab saw that the battle was going against him, he took with him seven hundred swordsmen to break through, opposite the king of Edom; but they could not. 27 Then he took his eldest son who was to reign in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there came great wrath upon Israel; and they withdrew from him and returned to their own land. (RSV)

 

This barbaric practice of burning one’s first-born son in offering to a god (e.g. Chemosh) was apparently endemic in the Middle East, which is perhaps why Abraham was not fazed by the Angel’s request to sacrifice his son Isaac (cf. the paper The Angel and Abraham’s Sacrifice (No. 71)). The Israelites had to be told specifically to desist from such an abomination (Lev. 18:21), although many ignored the injunction. The kings of Israel appeared particularly prone (2Kgs. 16:3; 2Chr. 33:6).

 

The great wrath upon Israel may have reflected the demons being permitted to punish Israel and allow the Moabites to gain their freedom. Israel’s joint expedition to bring Moab to heel had failed, and it was King Mesha who gained the ascendancy. He took many cities belonging to Reuben and Gad (e.g. Aroer, Dibon and Kerioth) as a sort of prelude to what would happen under the Assyrians, when these tribes to the east of the Jordan would be among the first to go into captivity.

 

2Kings 4:1-44  Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Eli'sha, "Your servant my husband is dead; and you know that your servant feared the LORD, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves." 2 And Eli'sha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?" And she said, "Your maidservant has nothing in the house, except a jar of oil." 3 Then he said, "Go outside, borrow vessels of all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. 4 Then go in, and shut the door upon yourself and your sons, and pour into all these vessels; and when one is full, set it aside." 5 So she went from him and shut the door upon herself and her sons; and as she poured they brought the vessels to her. 6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." And he said to her, "There is not another." Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest."

 

Elisha and the Shunemite

The following story has a number of parallels with that of Elijah and the poor widow of Zarephath (1Kgs. 17:10ff.).

 

8 One day Eli'sha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. 9 And she said to her husband, "Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God, who is continually passing our way. 10 Let us make a small roof chamber with walls, and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there." (RSV)

 

The word used to describe the woman can mean either monetarily wealthy or a person of high standing in the community. The chamber given to Elisha became a safe haven or sanctuary for him, a type of Tabernacle, with its table (cf. shewbread) and lamp stand. It was almost as if Elisha’s bed also became a holy thing as it had played a part in healings (2Kgs. 4:21; cf. also Elijah’s bed in 1Kgs 17:19) and before which the prophet offered up his prayers; hence, it could perhaps be likened to the altar of incense.

 

The rest of the story of Elisha and the Shunemite woman (2Kgs. 4:11-37) is dealt with in the paper Song of Songs (No. 145).

 

2Kings 4:38-44  And Eli'sha came again to Gilgal when there was a famine in the land. And as the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, "Set on the great pot, and boil pottage for the sons of the prophets." 39 One of them went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of pottage, not knowing what they were. 40 And they poured out for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the pottage, they cried out, "O man of God, there is death in the pot!" And they could not eat it. 41 He said, "Then bring meal." And he threw it into the pot, and said, "Pour out for the men, that they may eat." And there was no harm in the pot. 42 A man came from Ba'al-shal'ishah, bringing the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Eli'sha said, "Give to the man, that they may eat." 43 But his servant said, "How am I to set this before a hundred men?" So he repeated, "Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the LORD, `They shall eat and have some left.'" 44 So he set it before them. And they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the LORD. (RSV)

 

The feeding of the hundred men here is one of three miracles in the Bible concerned with feeding a multitude (see Mat. 14:20; 15:34,38). This event took place during the Passover season as the first-fruits of the barley harvest are mentioned (see The Passover (No. 98)). The town in Ephraim from which the man came was Baal-shalishah, meaning thrice-great lord (BDB).


The complete text of 2Kings 5 concerning Naaman, the Syrian leper, is dealt with in the paper The Messages of Revelation 14 (No. 270).

 

The Army of God

2Kings 6:1-33  Now the sons of the prophets said to Eli'sha, "See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us. 2 Let us go to the Jordan and each of us get there a log, and let us make a place for us to dwell there." And he answered, "Go." 3 Then one of them said, "Be pleased to go with your servants." And he answered, "I will go." 4 So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5 But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water; and he cried out, "Alas, my master! It was borrowed." 6 Then the man of God said, "Where did it fall?" When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick, and threw it in there, and made the iron float. 7 And he said, "Take it up." So he reached out his hand and took it. 8 Once when the king of Syria was warring against Israel, he took counsel with his servants, saying, "At such and such a place shall be my camp." 9 But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, "Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are going down there." 10 And the king of Israel sent to the place of which the man of God told him. Thus he used to warn him, so that he saved himself there more than once or twice. 11 And the mind of the king of Syria was greatly troubled because of this thing; and he called his servants and said to them, "Will you not show me who of us is for the king of Israel [Jehoram]?" 12 And one of his servants said, "None, my lord, O king; but Eli'sha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber." 13 And he said, "Go and see where he is, that I may send and seize him." It was told him, "Behold, he is in Dothan." 14 So he sent there horses and chariots and a great army; and they came by night, and surrounded the city. 15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was round about the city. And the servant said, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" 16 He said, "Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." 17 Then Eli'sha prayed, and said, "O LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see." So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Eli'sha.

 

Elisha was forewarned by the Angel of God of the intent of the king of Syria (probably Ben-hadad of 1Kgs. 20:1), who became so frustrated that his plans were being revealed in advance to Israel that he set out to capture the prophet. However, Elisha’s servant saw an angelic army that more than matched the Syrian army surrounding the city of Dothan. Such a Host is alluded to in Isaiah 66 (cf. also Ps. 34:7).

 

The above incident had a remarkable parallel during a First World War battle in France when the British and their allies were in danger of being overrun by the Germans. The incident concerned the so-called White Cavalry, as witnessed by British Captain Cecil Hayward.

 

The following account of what occurred between the months of April and August, 1918, I can personally vouch for as being true; … I was responsible for the intelligence on this sector of the battle area, and therefore made my headquarters in the bright little town of Bethune …

 

The British troops had been in the trenches fighting for weeks without rest or relief owing to the fact that reserves were practically exhausted.

 

… the enemy shellfire, which had been largely directed against the shattered town of Bethune, suddenly lifted and began to burst on a slight rise beyond its outskirts. This open ground was absolutely bare of trees, houses or human beings, yet the enemy gunfire broke on it with increasing fury, and was augmented by heavy bursts of massed machine guns which raked it backward and forward with a hail of lead. We stood looking in astonishment.

 

"Fritz has gone barmy, sir," said the Sergeant. "What in the world is he peppering the naked ground for?"  "I can't think," I replied. "Get along down to the canal and see what is happening there."

 

I followed him shortly afterwards, being eager to see for myself, as there were obviously no troops within sight against whom the Germans could be directing their fire. As I made my way over the scattered debris of the ruined houses, the enemy's fire suddenly ceased, and a curious calm fell on everything. …

 

Outlined on the slight rise by the La Bassee village, and as far as we could see, was a dense line of German troops, who a short time before had commenced a forward movement to victory, in mass formation. This line suddenly halted, and, as we watched, we saw it break!

 

Before our astonished eyes, that well-drilled and seemingly victorious army broke up into groups of frightened men who were fleeing from us, throwing down their arms, haversacks, rifles, coats and anything which might impede their flight.

 

It was not long before my Sergeant arrived with two German officer prisoners … Briefly, the statement the senior German officer made was as follows:

 

The order had been given to advance in mass formation, and our troops were marching behind us singing their way to victory; when Friedrich my lieutenant here said:

 

"Herr Kapitan, just look at that open ground behind Bethune. There is a brigade of cavalry coming up through the smoke drifting across it. They must be mad, these English, to advance against such a force as ours in the open. I suppose they must be cavalry of one of their Colonial Forces, for, see, they are all in white uniform and are mounted on white horses."

 

"Strange," I said. "I have never heard of the English having any white-uniformed cavalry, whether Colonial or not. They have all been fighting on foot for several years past, and anyway, they are in khaki, not white."

 

"We saw the shells bursting among the horses and their riders, all of whom came forward at a quiet walk-trot, in parade-ground formation, each man and horse in his exact place. Shortly afterwards our machine guns opened a heavy fire, raking the advancing cavalry with a hail of lead; but on they came and not a single man or horse fell.

 

Steadily they advanced, clear in the shining sunlight; and a few paces in front of them rode their leader, a fine figure of a man, whose hair, like spun gold, shone in an aura round his head. By his side was a great sword, but his hands lay quietly holding the reins, as his huge white charger bore him proudly forward.

 

In spite of heavy shell and concentrated machine-gun fire, the White Cavalry advanced, remorseless as fate, like the incoming tide surging over a sandy beach. …

 

Then a great fear fell on me, and I turned to flee; yes, I, an Officer of the Prussian Guard, fled, panic stricken, and around me were hundreds of terrified men, whimpering like children, throwing away their arms and accoutrements in order not to have their movements impeded … all running. Their one desire was to get away from that advancing White Cavalry; above all from their awe-inspiring leader whose hair shone like a golden aureole.

 

That is all I have to tell you. We are beaten. The German Army is broken. There may be fighting, but we have lost the war. We are beaten – by the White Cavalry … I cannot understand … I cannot understand."

 

During the following few days I examined many prisoners, and in substance, their accounts tallied with the one given here. This is in spite of the fact that at least two of us could swear that we saw no cavalry in action, here or elsewhere, at that particular time. Neither did any of us see so much as a single white horse either with or without a rider. But it was not necessary for us to do so, the evidence of their presence had to come from the enemy.

 

It appears that the God of Hosts had indeed dispatched an angelic army (although not a fiery one) at a critical point in the battle. In this instance, the whole of the German Army was able to see the White Cavalry; the British soldiers saw nothing. While this incident may sound mythical, the fact that it was recorded by the British from German eyewitnesses and the British involved saw nothing would tend to indicate its authenticity.

 

Obviously enough men had died on both sides and the Host had intervened to shorten the conflict.

 

The story of Elisha and the Syrian host continues in 2Kings 6.

18 And when the Syrians came down against him, Eli'sha prayed to the LORD, and said, "Strike this people, I pray thee, with blindness." So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Eli'sha. 19 And Eli'sha said to them, "This is not the way, and this is not the city; follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek." And he led them to Sama'ria. 20 As soon as they entered Sama'ria, Eli'sha said, "O LORD, open the eyes of these men, that they may see." So the LORD opened their eyes, and they saw; and lo, they were in the midst of Sama'ria. 21 When the king of Israel saw them he said to Eli'sha, "My father, shall I slay them? Shall I slay them?" 22 He answered, "You shall not slay them. Would you slay those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master." 23 So he prepared for them a great feast; and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians came no more on raids into the land of Israel.

 

Here we see the correct conduct in dealing with prisoners of war when not told specifically by God to extirpate them. It is normally the sign of a civilised society to be magnanimous in victory, although the decision in this case was to have an unfortunate outcome. We see in verse 21 the king of Israel also deferring to Elisha as his “father”, a title of honour and affection.

Siege and famine in Israel

24 Afterward Ben-ha'dad king of Syria mustered his entire army, and went up, and besieged Sama'ria. 25 And there was a great famine in Sama'ria, as they besieged it, until an ass's head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove's dung for five shekels of silver. 26 Now as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, "Help, my lord, O king!" 27 And he said, "If the LORD will not help you, whence shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the wine press?" 28 And the king asked her, "What is your trouble?" She answered, "This woman said to me, `Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.' 29 So we boiled my son, and ate him. And on the next day I said to her, `Give your son, that we may eat him'; but she has hidden her son."

 

This gruesome incident reflected the dire situation in which the inhabitants of the city of Samaria found themselves. The curse of Deuteronomy 28:50-57 – promised long before by Moses as an inevitable consequence of disobedience to God – had come upon Samaria.

 

30 When the king heard the words of the woman he rent his clothes – now he was passing by upon the wall – and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth beneath upon his body – 31 and he said, "May God do so to me, and more also, if the head of Eli'sha the son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today." 32 Eli'sha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. Now the king had dispatched a man from his presence; but before the messenger arrived Eli'sha said to the elders, "Do you see how this murderer has sent to take off my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door, and hold the door fast against him. Is not the sound of his master's feet behind him?" 33 And while he was still speaking with them, the king came down to him and said, "This trouble is from the LORD! Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?" (RSV)

It seems beheading was a routine method of killing God’s prophets in these times: Elisha here was threatened with it, while John the Baptist suffered it, as did many martyrs for the truth (Rev. 20:4). Their reward, however, is pre-eminence in the First Resurrection.

 

At the height of the siege and consequent famine in the city, Elisha made the most incredible prophecy: an imminent end to the famine and an abundance of food to follow.

 

2Kings 7:1-20  But Eli'sha said, "Hear the word of the LORD: thus says the LORD, Tomorrow about this time a measure of fine meal shall be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Sama'ria." 2 Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned said to the man of God, "If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?" But he said, "You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it."

 

A minor historical point is made by Werner Keller concerning the person known as the captain (lord: KJV) in verse 2. The Hebrew word is shaliysh (SHD 7991), from the root meaning three or triad. He states:

 

Every chariot was manned by three men: the driver, the fighter, and a man who stood behind him. With outstretched arms he held on to two short straps which were fastened to the right and left sides of the chariot. In this way he protected the warrior and the driver in the rear and prevented them from being thrown out during those furious sallies in battle when the open car passed over dead and wounded men. This then was the “third man” … the strap-hanger in King Jehoram’s chariot. (op. cit., p. 247)

 

The third man would presumably have carried a shield on his back for his own protection in addition to his armour to avoid the fate suffered by King Jehoram (2Kgs. 9:24). This man is mentioned again in verse 17, where he comes to an unfortunate end.

 

3 Now there were four men who were lepers at the entrance to the gate; and they said to one another, "Why do we sit here till we die? 4 If we say, `Let us enter the city,' the famine is in the city, and we shall die there; and if we sit here, we die also. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians; if they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die." 5 So they arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians; but when they came to the edge of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no one there. 6 For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots, and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, "Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come upon us." 7 So they fled away in the twilight and forsook their tents, their horses, and their asses, leaving the camp as it was, and fled for their lives.

 

This time it was just the sound of a huge army which caused panic in the Syrian host. They seemed to have forgotten about the angelic army previously sent to unsettle them, as they attributed the sound to the Hittites or Egyptians.

 

8 And when these lepers came to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent, and ate and drank, and they carried off silver and gold and clothing, and went and hid them; then they came back, and entered another tent, and carried off things from it, and went and hid them. 9 Then they said to one another, "We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news; if we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us; now therefore come, let us go and tell the king's household." 10 So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city, and told them, "We came to the camp of the Syrians, and behold, there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied, and the asses tied, and the tents as they were." 11 Then the gatekeepers called out, and it was told within the king's household. 12 And the king rose in the night, and said to his servants, "I will tell you what the Syrians have prepared against us. They know that we are hungry; therefore they have gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the open country, thinking, `When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive and get into the city.'" 13 And one of his servants said, "Let some men take five of the remaining horses, seeing that those who are left here will fare like the whole multitude of Israel that have already perished; let us send and see." 14 So they took two mounted men, and the king sent them after the army of the Syrians, saying, "Go and see." 15 So they went after them as far as the Jordan; and, lo, all the way was littered with garments and equipment which the Syrians had thrown away in their haste. And the messengers returned, and told the king. 16 Then the people went out, and plundered the camp of the Syrians. So a measure of fine meal was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the LORD. 17 Now the king had appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to have charge of the gate; and the people trod upon him in the gate, so that he died, as the man of God had said when the king came down to him. 18 For when the man of God had said to the king, "Two measures of barley shall be sold for a shekel, and a measure of fine meal for a shekel, about this time tomorrow in the gate of Sama'ria," 19 the captain had answered the man of God, "If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could such a thing be?" And he had said, "You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it." 20 And so it happened to him, for the people trod upon him in the gate and he died. (RSV)

 

This text seems to represent a fatal lesson in not believing the words of God’s true prophets and in blasphemously suggesting a limit to God’s power. Elisha prepared the Shunemite woman for the approaching seven-year famine by sending her to “Egypt”, just as the Patriarch Jacob had sent his sons there for sustenance during a similar famine in Palestine. In this case she went to the land of the Philistines. Once again, Egypt is represented as a place of sanctuary.

 

2Kings 8:1-15  Now Eli'sha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, "Arise, and depart with your household, and sojourn wherever you can; for the LORD has called for a famine, and it will come upon the land for seven years." 2 So the woman arose, and did according to the word of the man of God; she went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. 3 And at the end of the seven years, when the woman returned from the land of the Philistines, she went forth to appeal to the king for her house and her land. 4 Now the king was talking with Geha'zi the servant of the man of God, saying, "Tell me all the great things that Eli'sha has done." 5 And while he was telling the king how Eli'sha had restored the dead to life, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her land. And Geha'zi said, "My lord, O king, here is the woman, and here is her son whom Eli'sha restored to life." 6 And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed an official for her, saying, "Restore all that was hers, together with all the produce of the fields from the day that she left the land until now." 7 Now Eli'sha came to Damascus. Ben-ha'dad the king of Syria was sick; and when it was told him, "The man of God has come here," 8 the king said to Haz'ael, "Take a present with you and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of the LORD through him, saying, `Shall I recover from this sickness?'" 9 So Haz'ael went to meet him, and took a present with him, all kinds of goods of Damascus, forty camel loads. When he came and stood before him, he said, "Your son Ben-ha'dad king of Syria has sent me to you, saying, `Shall I recover from this sickness?'" 10 And Eli'sha said to him, "Go, say to him, `You shall certainly recover'; but the LORD has shown me that he shall certainly die." 11 And he fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was ashamed. And the man of God wept. 12 And Haz'ael said, "Why does my lord weep?" He answered, "Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel; you will set on fire their fortresses, and you will slay their young men with the sword, and dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their women with child." 13 And Haz'ael said, "What is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?" Eli'sha answered, "The LORD has shown me that you are to be king over Syria." 14 Then he departed from Eli'sha, and came to his master, who said to him, "What did Eli'sha say to you?" And he answered, "He told me that you would certainly recover." 15 But on the morrow he took the coverlet and dipped it in water and spread it over his face, till he died. And Haz'ael became king in his stead. (RSV)

 

Ben-hadad of Syria was thus smothered to death by his servant Hazael, who then ascended the throne. We saw earlier that Jehoram, king of Israel, was also killed by someone close to him, namely his commander, Jehu (see below). Jehoram had reigned for 12 years.

 

Jehu

The eleventh king of Israel was Jehu, an army commander and expert charioteer (2Kgs. 9:20) who was anointed king by Elisha in Ramoth-gilead while he and his troops waited for an expected Syrian attack. He was also commissioned by the prophet to wipe out the whole house of Ahab.

 

Jehu began the fourth dynasty, which was to last for nearly 90 years. While varying widely on most of their chronologies of the kings, biblical scholars almost universally agree that his reign covered the period 842 to 814 BCE, thus providing a reference point for dating before and after. The dates for the start of Jeroboam’s reign (932 BCE) and the captivity of Israel (722 BCE) are also reasonably certain.

 

2Kings 9:1-37  Then Eli'sha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets and said to him, "Gird up your loins, and take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead. 2 And when you arrive, look there for Jehu the son of Jehosh'aphat, son of Nimshi; and go in and bid him rise from among his fellows, and lead him to an inner chamber. 3 Then take the flask of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, `Thus says the LORD, I anoint you king over Israel.' Then open the door and flee; do not tarry." 4 So the young man, the prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead. 5 And when he came, behold, the commanders of the army were in council; and he said, "I have an errand to you, O commander." And Jehu said, "To which of us all?" And he said, "To you, O commander." 6 So he arose, and went into the house; and the young man poured the oil on his head, saying to him, "Thus says the LORD the God of Israel, I anoint you king over the people of the LORD, over Israel. 7 And you shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge on Jez'ebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD. 8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. 9 And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, and like the house of Ba'asha the son of Ahi'jah. 10 And the dogs shall eat Jez'ebel in the territory of Jezreel, and none shall bury her." Then he opened the door, and fled.

 

This was the third time that God had arranged for all the males of a king’s house to be slaughtered; the others involved Jeroboam and Baasha, who was the one destined to kill Jeroboam’s descendants (cf. 1Kgs. 15:29; 16:11). 

 

11 When Jehu came out to the servants of his master, they said to him, "Is all well? Why did this mad fellow come to you?" And he said to them, "You know the fellow and his talk." 12 And they said, "That is not true; tell us now." And he said, "Thus and so he spoke to me, saying, `Thus says the LORD, I anoint you king over Israel.'" 13 Then in haste every man of them took his garment, and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet, and proclaimed, "Jehu is king." 14 Thus Jehu the son of Jehosh'aphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. (Now Joram with all Israel had been on guard at Ramoth-gilead against Haz'ael king of Syria; 15 but King Joram had returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him, when he fought with Haz'ael king of Syria.) So Jehu said, "If this is your mind, then let no one slip out of the city to go and tell the news in Jezreel." 16 Then Jehu mounted his chariot, and went to Jezreel, for Joram lay there. And Ahazi'ah king of Judah had come down to visit Joram.

 

This wasn’t the first time that a prophet of God was called mad; Messiah himself suffered the accusation (Jn. 10:20). Joram here is King Jehoram, the tenth ruler in Israel since the split with Judah. Ahaziah was the son of Athaliah and thus the grandson of the infamous Ahab and Jezebel; and “his mother was his counselor in doing wickedly” (2Chr. 22:3). Again, an unrighteous king’s downfall was occasioned by God (v. 7). Ahaziah was also the grandson of the noble Jehoshaphat of Judah who, unlike the kings of Israel, “sought the Lord with all his heart” (v. 9).

 

17 Now the watchman was standing on the tower in Jezreel, and he spied the company of Jehu as he came, and said, "I see a company." And Joram said, "Take a horseman, and send to meet them, and let him say, `Is it peace?'" 18 So a man on horseback went to meet him, and said, "Thus says the king, `Is it peace?'" And Jehu said, "What have you to do with peace? Turn round and ride behind me." And the watchman reported, saying, "The messenger reached them, but he is not coming back." 19 Then he sent out a second horseman, who came to them, and said, "Thus the king has said, `Is it peace?'" And Jehu answered, "What have you to do with peace? Turn round and ride behind me." 20 Again the watchman reported, "He reached them, but he is not coming back. And the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he drives furiously." 21 Joram said, "Make ready." And they made ready his chariot. Then Jora king of Israel and Ahazi'ah king of Judah set out, each in his chariot, and went to meet Jehu, and met him at the property of Naboth the Jezreelite. 22 And when Joram saw Jehu, he said, "Is it peace, Jehu?" He answered, "What peace can there be, so long as the harlotries and the sorceries of your mother Jez'ebel are so many?"

 

Asking about peace three times was perhaps an earnest desire for a peace that could never come at this juncture (cf. Jer. 6:14; 8:11); for, “the way of peace they know not” (Isa. 59:8). However, there is to be a day when peace does break out according to the word of God’s true prophets.

 

Jeremiah 28:9  As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet." (RSV)

 

As Jezebel personified idolatrous pagan practices, it appears there will be no real peace within or between the nations until all these Babylonian influences have been removed, and the wall of separation between God and mankind generally that was built upon this idolatry is torn down. Harlotries represent idolatry, and sorceries (witchcrafts: KJV) are spiritism, the two words being used together in Numbers 24:1, 25:1 and 31:16.

 

23 Then Joram reined about and fled, saying to Ahazi'ah, "Treachery, O Ahazi'ah!" 24 And Jehu drew his bow with his full strength, and shot Joram between the shoulders, so that the arrow pierced his heart, and he sank in his chariot. 25 Jehu said to Bidkar his aide, "Take him up, and cast him on the plot of ground belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite; for remember, when you and I rode side by side behind Ahab his father, how the LORD uttered this oracle against him: 26 `As surely as I saw yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons – says the LORD – I will requite you on this plot of ground.' Now therefore take him up and cast him on the plot of ground, in accordance with the word of the LORD." 27 When Ahazi'ah the king of Judah saw this, he fled in the direction of Beth-haggan. And Jehu pursued him, and said, "Shoot him also"; and they shot him in the chariot at the ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megid'do, and died there. 28 His servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his fathers in the city of David.

 

Thus we see Jehu killing both kings Jehoram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah in quick succession. The latter had only just recovered from wounds received while fighting the Syrians (v. 15), but was killed by divine command to avenge the death of Naboth and his sons (vv. 25-26). Jehu was commissioned by Elijah to destroy the whole house of Ahab including his wife Jezebel. It is noted that Jehoram’s body was cast into Naboth’s field; he thereby joined his mother Jezebel’s blood in the dust of Jezreel, in accordance with the earlier prophecy (1Kgs. 21:23).

 

29 In the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab, Ahazi'ah began to reign over Judah. 30 When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jez'ebel heard of it; and she painted her eyes, and adorned her head, and looked out of the window. 31 And as Jehu entered the gate, she said, "Is it peace, you Zimri, murderer of your master?" 32 And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, "Who is on my side? Who?" Two or three eunuchs looked out at him. 33 He said, "Throw her down." So they threw her down; and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her. 34 Then he went in and ate and drank; and he said, "See now to this cursed woman, and bury her; for she is a king's daughter." 35 But when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. 36 When they came back and told him, he said, "This is the word of the LORD, which he spoke by his servant Eli'jah the Tishbite, `In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jez'ebel; 37 and the corpse of Jez'ebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no one can say, This is Jez'ebel.'" (RSV)

 

This signifies that the entire Babylonian mystery religion will one day be brought to remembrance no more; it is to be thoroughly eliminated.

 

In connection with Jezreel, the prophet Hosea (Hoshea) mentioned the final captivity and deportation of Israel that was to happen during the reign of his namesake, King Hoshea.

 

Hosea 1:4-7a  And the LORD said to him, "Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 And on that day, I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel." 6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, "Call her name Not pitied, for I will no more have pity on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. 7 But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will deliver them by the LORD their God;  (RSV)

 

The whole house of Ahab was about to be cut off, with literal beheadings of his 70 “sons” or descendants, possibly including his grandsons and great-grandsons.


2Kings 10:1-36  Now Ahab had seventy sons in Sama'ria. So Jehu wrote letters, and sent them to Sama'ria, to the rulers of the city, to the elders, and to the guardians of the sons of Ahab, saying, 2 "Now then, as soon as this letter comes to you, seeing your master's sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, fortified cities also, and weapons, 3 select the best and fittest of your master's sons and set him on his father's throne, and fight for your master's house." 4 But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, "Behold, the two kings could not stand before him; how then can we stand?" 5 So he who was over the palace, and he who was over the city, together with the elders and the guardians, sent to Jehu, saying, "We are your servants, and we will do all that you bid us. We will not make any one king; do whatever is good in your eyes." 6 Then he wrote to them a second letter, saying, "If you are on my side, and if you are ready to obey me, take the heads of your master's sons, and come to me at Jezreel tomorrow at this time." Now the king's sons, seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, who were bringing them up. 7 And when the letter came to them, they took the king's sons, and slew them, seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent them to him at Jezreel. 8 When the messenger came and told him, "They have brought the heads of the king's sons," he said, "Lay them in two heaps at the entrance of the gate until the morning." 9 Then in the morning, when he went out, he stood, and said to all the people, "You are innocent. It was I who conspired against my master, and slew him; but who struck down all these? 10 Know then that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spoke concerning the house of Ahab; for the LORD has done what he said by his servant Eli'ah." 11 So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, all his great men, and his familiar friends, and his priests, until he left him none remaining.

 

Hence, according to the prophecy of Elijah (9:8), the whole household in Jezreel loyal to King Ahab was killed. These were not just his blood relatives, but also those who had advised and ministered as priests to Ahab. And Jehu hadn’t finished yet.

 

12 Then he set out and went to Sama'ria. On the way, when he was at Beth-eked of the Shepherds, 13 Jehu met the kinsmen of Ahazi'ah king of Judah, and he said, "Who are you?" And they answered, "We are the kinsmen of Ahazi'ah, and we came down to visit the royal princes and the sons of the queen mother." 14 He said, "Take them alive." And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of Beth-eked, forty-two persons, and he spared none of them. 15 And when he departed from there, he met Jehon'adab the son of Rechab coming to meet him; and he greeted him, and said to him, "Is your heart true to my heart as mine is to yours?" And Jehon'adab answered, "It is." Jehu said, "If it is, give me your hand." So he gave him his hand. And Jehu took him up with him into the chariot. 16 And he said, "Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD." So he had him ride in his chariot.

 

Jehonadab, son of Rechab, was a Kenite and a descendant of Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro (see the paper Descendants of Abraham Part IV: Sons of Keturah (No. 212D)). He was to prove a loyal assistant to Jehu in the destruction of the Baal system in Israel – with possible repeat application to the Last Days.

 

17 And when he came to Sama'ria, he slew all that remained to Ahab in Sama'ria, till he had wiped them out, according to the word of the LORD which he spoke to Eli'jah. 18 Then Jehu assembled all the people, and said to them, "Ahab served Ba'al a little; but Jehu will serve him much. 19 Now therefore call to me all the prophets of Ba'al, all his worshipers and all his priests; let none be missing, for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Ba'al; whoever is missing shall not live." But Jehu did it with cunning in order to destroy the worshipers of Ba'al. 20 And Jehu ordered, "Sanctify a solemn assembly for Ba'al." So they proclaimed it. 21 And Jehu sent throughout all Israel; and all the worshipers of Ba'al came, so that there was not a man left who did not come. And they entered the house of Ba'al, and the house of Ba'al was filled from one end to the other. 22 He said to him who was in charge of the wardrobe, "Bring out the vestments for all the worshipers of Ba'al." So he brought out the vestments for them. 23 Then Jehu went into the house of Ba'al with Jehon'adab the son of Rechab; and he said to the worshipers of Ba'al, "Search, and see that there is no servant of the LORD here among you, but only the worshipers of Ba'al." 24 Then he went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings. Now Jehu had stationed eighty men outside, and said, "The man who allows any of those whom I give into your hands to escape shall forfeit his life." 25 So as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, Jehu said to the guard and to the officers, "Go in and slay them; let not a man escape." So when they put them to the sword, the guard and the officers cast them out and went into the inner room of the house of Ba'al 26 and they brought out the pillar that was in the house of Ba'al, and burned it. 27 And they demolished the pillar of Ba'al, and demolished the house of Ba'al, and made it a latrine to this day. 28 Thus Jehu wiped out Ba'al from Israel.

 

This destruction of the Baal system in Israel, albeit temporary (and seen earlier with the prophet Elijah), is mentioned in the paper Seven Days of the Feasts (No. 49). And, in spite of Jehu’s zeal and being used in such a mighty way, he still retained Jeroboam’s golden calves – apparently a separate form of idolatry to the Baal system.

 

29 But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and in Dan. 30 And the LORD said to Jehu, "Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." 31 But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD the God of Israel with all his heart; he did not turn from the sins of Jerobo'am, which he made Israel to sin. 32 In those days the LORD began to cut off parts of Israel. Haz'ael defeated them throughout the territory of Israel: 33 from the Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manas'sites, from Aro'er, which is by the valley of the Arnon, that is, Gilead and Bashan. 34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehu, and all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 35 So Jehu slept with his fathers, and they buried him in Sama'ria. And Jeho'ahaz his son reigned in his stead. 36 The time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Sama'ria was twenty-eight years. (RSV)

 

It is by God’s will here that parts of Israel are conquered, such as all of the eastern side of the Jordan by Hazael of Syria. He greatly punished Israel as foretold by Elisha (2Kgs. 8:12); however, the Syrians appeared not to have taken the Israelites into captivity as happened later with the Assyrians.

 

Jehu had also been forced to pay tribute to King Shalmaneser III of Assyria as noted on the so-called Black Obelisk (now in the British Museum, London), discovered by A.H. Layard in 1846 during an archaeological excavation at Nimrud, south of Baghdad. The Obelisk also mentions King Hazael of Damascus (2Kgs. 8:28; 9:14). Some commentators suggest that this Shalmaneser had even assisted Jehu to claim the throne of Israel.

 

Manasseh was cut off because of the sins of Jehu. It is of note that the three capitals of the Northern Kingdom after the division, namely Shechem, Tirzah and Samaria, were all located within the tribal territory of Manasseh. In a sense we thus have three “over-turnings” (from Jerusalem) of the capital of the northern tribes (cf. Ezek. 21:26-27).

 

Despite his idolatry, Jehu’s dynasty was to be the longest in Israel’s history.

 

Jehoahaz

The twelfth king of Israel was Jehoahaz (Jehovah has seized), son of Jehu. His reign lasted 17 years.

 

2Kings 13:1-9  In the twenty-third year of Jo'ash the son of Ahazi'ah, king of Judah, Jeho'ahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in Sama'ria, and he reigned seventeen years. 2 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed the sins of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from them. 3 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he gave them continually into the hand of Haz'ael king of Syria and into the hand of Ben-ha'dad the son of Haz'ael. 4 Then Jeho'ahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened to him; for he saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Syria oppressed them.

 

It was the typical and oft-repeated cycle of idolatry/punishment/repentance, but again God took note of the latter and provided a means of deliverance, in this case a saviour – either an angel, or Elisha, or a general of Jehovah (cf. v. 25; 14:27; Bullinger‘s note).

 

5 (Therefore the LORD gave Israel a savior, so that they escaped from the hand of the Syrians; and the people of Israel dwelt in their homes as formerly. 6 Nevertheless they did not depart from the sins of the house of Jerobo'am, which he made Israel to sin, but walked in them; and the Ashe'rah also remained in Sama'ria.) 7 For there was not left to Jeho'ahaz an army of more than fifty horsemen and ten chariots and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Syria had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing. 8 Now the rest of the acts of Jeho'ahaz and all that he did, and his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 9 So Jeho'ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in Sama'ria; and Jo'ash his son reigned in his stead. (RSV)

 

Jehoash

The thirteenth man to ascend the throne of Israel was Jehoash (given by the Lord: BDB), son of the previous king, Jehoahaz.

 

2Kings 13:10-25  In the thirty-seventh year of Jo'ash king of Judah Jeho'ash the son of Jeho'ahaz began to reign over Israel in Sama'ria, and he reigned sixteen years. 11 He also did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from all the sins of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin, but he walked in them. 12 Now the rest of the acts of Jo'ash, and all that he did, and the might with which he fought against Amazi'ah king of Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 13 So Jo'ash slept with his fathers, and Jerobo'am sat upon his throne; and Jo'ash was buried in Sama'ria with the kings of Israel. 14 Now when Eli'sha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, Jo'ash king of Israel went down to him, and wept before him, crying, "My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" 15 And Eli'sha said to him, "Take a bow and arrows"; so he took a bow and arrows. 16 Then he said to the king of Israel, "Draw the bow"; and he drew it. And Eli'sha laid his hands upon the king's hands. 17 And he said, "Open the window eastward"; and he opened it. Then Eli'sha said, "Shoot"; and he shot. And he said, "The LORD's arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria! For you shall fight the Syrians in Aphek until you have made an end of them." 18 And he said, "Take the arrows"; and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground with them"; and he struck three times, and stopped. 19 Then the man of God was angry with him, and said, "You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times."

We now see an incredible miracle performed by God using the dead body of Elisha.

20 So Eli'sha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Eli'sha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Eli'sha, he revived, and stood on his feet.

This act was to represent the Resurrection of the Dead through the intervention of Messiah in the Holy Spirit. The acts of resurrection that were tied to Elisha were to point to the fact that God worked through him and it was not the power of Elisha himself, as he remained dead for this last example.

 

22 Now Haz'ael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jeho'ahaz. 23 But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them; nor has he cast them from his presence until now. 24 When Haz'ael king of Syria died, Ben-ha'dad his son became king in his stead. 25 Then Jeho'ash the son of Jeho'ahaz took again from Ben-ha'dad the son of Haz'ael the cities which he had taken from Jeho'ahaz his father in war. Three times Jo'ash defeated him and recovered the cities of Israel. (RSV)

 

Jehoash actually regained territory lost to Syria. The arrows represented God’s deliverance, to happen three times only. In verse 20 we again see that the spring months were the time for war (cf. 2Sam. 11:1).

 

2Kings 14:1-22  In the second year of Jo'ash the son of Jo'ahaz, king of Israel, Amazi'ah the son of Jo'ash, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jeho-ad'din of Jerusalem. 3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not like David his father; he did in all things as Jo'ash his father had done. 4 But the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. 5 And as soon as the royal power was firmly in his hand he killed his servants who had slain the king his father. 6 But he did not put to death the children of the murderers; according to what is written in the book of the law of Moses, where the LORD commanded, "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, or the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall die for his own sin."

 

This injunction is from Exodus 17:14 and Deuteronomy 24:16. As related in 2Chronicles 25, Amaziah set out to deal with the Edomites and unwisely enlisted Israel’s aid.

 

2Chronicles 25:5-10  Then Amazi'ah assembled the men of Judah, and set them by fathers' houses under commanders of thousands and of hundreds for all Judah and Benjamin. He mustered those twenty years old and upward, and found that they were three hundred thousand picked men, fit for war, able to handle spear and shield. 6 He hired also a hundred thousand mighty men of valor from Israel for a hundred talents of silver. 7 But a man of God came to him and said, "O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the LORD is not with Israel, with all these E'phraimites. 8 But if you suppose that in this way you will be strong for war, God will cast you down before the enemy; for God has power to help or to cast down." 9 And Amazi'ah said to the man of God, "But what shall we do about the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel?" The man of God answered, "The LORD is able to give you much more than this." 10 Then Amazi'ah discharged the army that had come to him from E'phraim, to go home again. And they became very angry with Judah, and returned home in fierce anger. (RSV)

 

This is reminiscent of the time when the foreigners in Jerusalem wanted to assist with reconstruction of the Temple under Ezra and Nehemiah; however, they were told they had no part in it, just as the Ephraimites or Israelites above had no part in the army of the Lord because of their sins.

 

Returning to 2Kings 14:

7 He killed ten thousand E'domites in the Valley of Salt and took Sela by storm, and called it Jok'the-el, which is its name to this day. 8 Then Amazi'ah sent messengers to Jeho'ash the son of Jeho'ahaz, son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, "Come, let us look one another in the face." 9 And Jeho'ash king of Israel sent word to Amazi'ah king of Judah, "A thistle on Lebanon sent to a cedar on Lebanon, saying, `Give your daughter to my son for a wife'; and a wild beast of Lebanon passed by and trampled down the thistle. 10 You have indeed smitten Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Be content with your glory, and stay at home; for why should you provoke trouble so that you fall, you and Judah with you?" 11 But Amazi'ah would not listen. So Jeho'ash king of Israel went up, and he and Amazi'ah king of Judah faced one another in battle at Beth-she'mesh, which belongs to Judah.

 

Beth-shemesh (house of the sun; now Ain Shems) is on the border between Judah and Dan and lies about 15 miles (24 km) west of Jerusalem (Jos. 15:10). It was one of the cities of the priests (Jos. 21:9). In this instance, Israel was given the victory over Judah.

 

12 And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his home. 13 And Jeho'ash king of Israel captured Amazi'ah king of Judah, the son of Jeho'ash, son of Ahazi'ah, at Beth-she'mesh, and came to Jerusalem, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem for four hundred cubits, from the E'phraim Gate to the Corner Gate. 14 And he seized all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king's house, also hostages, and he returned to Sama'ria. 15 Now the rest of the acts of Jeho'ash which he did, and his might, and how he fought with Amazi'ah king of Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 16 And Jeho'ash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Sama'ria with the kings of Israel; and Jerobo'am his son reigned in his stead. 17 Amazi'ah the son of Jo'ash, king of Judah, lived fifteen years after the death of Jeho'ash son of Jeho'ahaz, king of Israel. 18 Now the rest of the deeds of Amazi'ah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 19 And they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish. But they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there. 20 And they brought him upon horses; and he was buried in Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David. 21 And all the people of Judah took Azari'ah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amazi'ah. 22 He built Elath and restored it to Judah, after the king slept with his fathers. (RSV)

 

Lachish is the city that would become famous for the historically important Letters written on potsherds during the Babylonian siege. This was during the campaigns that led to the capture of Jerusalem and subsequent exile of Judah. Lachish sat on the frontier between Judah and Philistia, and is known today as Tel el-Hesy.

 

Jehoash’s reign lasted sixteen years. He apparently died in peace and was buried in the capital, Samaria.


Jeroboam II

The fourth dynasty begun by Jehu was continued by accession to Israel’s throne of the second king named Jeroboam, this one being the son of Jehoash.

 

2Kings 14:23-29  In the fifteenth year of Amazi'ah the son of Jo'ash, king of Judah, Jerobo'am the son of Jo'ash, king of Israel, began to reign in Sama'ria, and he reigned forty-one years.

 

There is some confusion and seeming contradictions in the length of reign ascribed to Jeroboam in the Bible, as the Jewish Encyclopedia points out.

 

The chronological data require emending. The synchronism in II Kings xiv. 23 agrees with verse 17 preceding, but does not harmonize with xv. 1 following. Again, the length of the reign (41 years) cannot be reconciled with xv. 8. In xv. 1 "twenty-seventh year" must be changed to "fifteenth," while the "forty-one" in xiv. 23 should perhaps be "fifty-one." The dating formerly accepted (825-772 B.C.) is now generally abandoned; about 785(3)-745(3) is more probable. (art. ‘Jeroboam’)

 

The likely duration of Jeroboam’s reign over Samaria or Israel is ca.782-753 BCE, although this 30-year period is still at odds with the biblical figure of 41 years (v. 29). The most reasonable explanation is that Jeroboam was co-regent with his father for about 11 years, beginning as early as 793 BCE, and perhaps ruling over a portion of his father’s Kingdom. He then ascended the throne over all Israel upon the death of Jehoash.

 

24 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from all the sins of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. 25 He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amit'tai, the prophet, who was from Gath-he'pher.

 

Under Jeroboam, Israel was able to move across the Jordan again and extend its territory as far north as the border with Syria. The Sea of the Arabah (meaning plain) is the same as the Salt (Dead) Sea.

 

26 For the LORD saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter, for there was none left, bond or free, and there was none to help Israel. 27 But the LORD had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, so he saved them by the hand of Jerobo'am the son of Jo'ash. 28 Now the rest of the acts of Jerobo'am, and all that he did, and his might, how he fought, and how he recovered for Israel Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 29 And Jerobo'am slept with his fathers, the kings of Israel, and Zechari'ah his son reigned in his stead. (RSV)


Damascus and Hamath were both originally part of the Kingdom under Solomon (1Kgs. 4:21); however, Damascus was later lost to King Rezin of Syria (1Kgs. 11:23-25). The prophet Amos had much to say during this period of Israel’s history.

 

Amos 1:1-5  The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Teko'a, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzzi'ah king of Judah and in the days of Jerobo'am the son of Jo'ash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. 2 And he said: "The LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers." 3 Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron. 4 So I will send a fire upon the house of Haz'ael, and it shall devour the strongholds of Ben-ha'dad. 5 I will break the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitants from the Valley of Aven, and him that holds the scepter from Beth-eden; and the people of Syria shall go into exile to Kir," says the LORD. (RSV)

 

Amos (a burden) was originally from Judah; however, most of his ministry was to the Northern Kingdom in the period of about 765-755 BCE. Significantly, he prophesied during the reign of the second Jeroboam, the first having been the originator of serious idolatry in Israel. He was also a contemporary of the prophets Hosea, Isaiah, Jonah and Micah, many of whose prophecies were to have dual application, both within a relatively short period of their own time and in the Last Days.

 

The story concerning Israel briefly switches to Judah, but with relevance to the Northern Kingdom.

 

2Kings 15:1-7  In the twenty-seventh year of Jerobo'am king of Israel Azari'ah the son of Amazi'ah, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jecoli'ah of Jerusalem. 3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Amazi'ah had done. 4 Nevertheless the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. 5 And the LORD smote the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death, and he dwelt in a separate house. And Jotham the king's son was over the household, governing the people of the land. 6 Now the rest of the acts of Azari'ah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 7 And Azari'ah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Jotham his son reigned in his stead. (RSV)

 

Bullinger says of King Jotham of Judah:

The first-named of the four kings in whose reign Isaiah prophesied (Isa. 1:1). Micah also began to prophesy and mourn over the coming dispersion of Israel (Comp. Bible).

 

Jeroboam II was on the throne during a period of about fifty years when both Israel and Judah enjoyed relative stability and prosperity. This came at a great price, however, for the people soon forgot their God when they grew fat, just as Moses had warned (Deut. 31:20).

 

Zechariah

The fifteenth king of Israel was Zechariah (Jehovah remembers), son of Jeroboam. He reigned for only six months and was murdered by Shallum who succeeded him.

 

2Kings 15:8-12  In the thirty-eighth year of Azari'ah king of Judah Zechari'ah the son of Jerobo'am reigned over Israel in Sama'ria six months. 9 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. 10 Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and struck him down at Ibleam [or before the people: KJV], and killed him, and reigned in his stead. 11 Now the rest of the deeds of Zechari'ah, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 12 (This was the promise of the LORD which he gave to Jehu, "Your sons shall sit upon the throne of Israel to the fourth generation." And so it came to pass.) (RSV)

 

Zechariah was the fourth generation from Jehu (v. 12), whose dynasty ended there as prophesied.


Shallum

Shallum (retribution), the son of Jabesh, began the second shortest reign of all the kings of Israel, possibly as a result of ending Jehu’s dynasty by conspiring against and then killing the incumbent, Zechariah.

 

2Kings 15:13-15  Shallum the son of Jabesh began to reign in the thirty-ninth year of Uzzi'ah king of Judah, and he reigned one month in Sama'ria. 14 Then Men'ahem the son of Gadi came up from Tirzah and came to Sama'ria, and he struck down Shallum the son of Jabesh in Sama'ria and slew him, and reigned in his stead. 15 Now the rest of the deeds of Shallum, and the conspiracy which he made, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. (RSV)

 

Shallum reigned for a single month before being killed by Menahem. He thus became a giver and receiver of what was possibly divine, and certainly swift, retribution.


Menahem

Menahem (meaning comforter!), the seventeenth king of Israel who began the 5th dynasty, was a violent and merciless man (v. 16). He had slain his predecessor Shallum and taken the crown.

 

2Kings 15:16-22  At that time Men'ahem sacked Tappuah and all who were in it and its territory from Tirzah on; because they did not open it to him, therefore he sacked it, and he ripped up all the women in it who were with child.

 

The city of Tappuah, which Menahem sacked, was on the border between Ephraim and Manasseh (Jos. 17:8).

 

17 In the thirty-ninth year of Azari'ah king of Judah Men'ahem the son of Gadi began to reign over Israel, and he reigned ten years in Sama'ria. 18 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart all his days from all the sins of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. 19 Pul the king of Assyria came against the land; and Men'ahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that he might help him to confirm his hold of the royal power. 20 Men'ahem exacted the money from Israel, that is, from all the wealthy men, fifty shekels of silver from every man, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and did not stay there in the land.

 

This is the first recorded invasion of the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians under King Tiglath-pileser III, or Pul, referred to as God’s “razor” in Isaiah 7:20. In this case he demanded only tribute of Israel. As with the Syrians earlier, no land was occupied and no one was taken into captivity. That would come much later.

 

The biblical account tallies with a record in the Annals of Tiglath-pileser, which reads succinctly: “I received tribute from Menahem of Samaria.” Werner Keller suggest there were probably 60,000 wealthy men in Israel at the time, so quite a substantial sum was raised to buy off the Assyrians. The obvious danger was in not knowing how long they would be prepared to demand only the riches of Israel.

 

21 Now the rest of the deeds of Men'ahem, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 22 And Men'ahem slept with his fathers, and Pekahi'ah his son reigned in his stead. (RSV)

 

Menahem thus appears to have been the only king of this turbulent period to have died a natural death. He reigned for 10 years and was a contemporary of the prophets Hosea and Amos.

 

Pekahiah

Menahem’s son Pekahiah was next to ascend  the throne of Israel. While Azariah was enjoying his Jubilee year as king of Judah, the rapid turnover of kings on the throne of Israel continued. It seems the first Jeroboam had a lot to answer for as the ‘original and worst’, his name being constantly raised as the one who led Israel into sin and idolatry – and from which it never recovered.

 

2Kings 15:23-26  In the fiftieth year of Azari'ah king of Judah Pekahi'ah the son of Men'ahem began to reign over Israel in Sama'ria, and he reigned two years. 24 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not turn away from the sins of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. 25 And Pekah the son of Remali'ah, his captain, conspired against him with fifty men of the Gileadites, and slew him in Sama'ria, in the citadel of the king's house; he slew him, and reigned in his stead. 26 Now the rest of the deeds of Pekahi'ah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. (RSV)


Pekahiah’s was killed by his successor Pekah, his reign having lasted only 2 years.

 

Pekah

The nineteenth and penultimate king of Israel was Pekah, son of Remaliah. He was an army officer and possibly the chief bodyguard and advisor to King Pekahiah. It seems that the regicide he committed with the 50 men from Gilead against Pekahiah was also to have severe repercussions, albeit many years later. Unwisely, he had made a pact with King Rezin of Syria against Assyria.

 

2Kings 15:27-38  In the fifty-second year of Azari'ah king of Judah Pekah the son of Remali'ah began to reign over Israel in Sama'ria, and reigned twenty years. 28 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from the sins of Jerobo'am the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. 29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel Tig'lath-pile'ser king of Assyria came and captured I'jon, A'bel-beth-ma'acah, Jan-o'ah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naph'tali; and he carried the people captive to Assyria.

 

This was actually the second recorded invasion of Israel by the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser III, but with a completely different emphasis than the first, which was about eight years earlier. It was attested in the Annals of Tiglath-pileser, in particular the one describing his Western and Gaza/Damascus Campaign of ca. 734-733 BCE, as follows:

 

Bit Humri [House of Omri, i.e. Israel]: all of whose cities I had added to my territories on my former campaigns, and I had left out only the city of Samaria. … The whole of Naphtali I took for Assyria. I put my officials over them as governors. The land of Bit Humri, all its people and their possessions I took away to Assyria.

 

The land of Naphtali was one of the richest in Palestine, and Josephus spoke of it as being the “ambition of nature” or a type of paradise on Earth. It had close commercial and social connections with Phoenicia; for example, Hiram the master metal-smith in Solomon's time was half-Tyrian, half-Naphtalite (1Kgs. 7:13-14).

 

The Assyrians had swept down the coast to Phoenicia, before turning south-east and heading directly towards the Sea of Chinnereth (Galilee). They overran the northern half of Asher, and the territories of Naphtali and Dan. The army then crossed the Jordan into Gilead, mopping up the eastern Manassites and Gadites, then the Reubenites to the south. 1Chronicles 5:26 makes only a briefly mention of what must have been a major campaign.

 

1Chronicles 5:26  So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, the spirit of Til'gath-pilne'ser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, namely, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manas'seh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan, to this day. (RSV)


The first deportation of the tribes on the eastern side of the Jordan (i.e. those that had settled first in their inheritance) into Halah and Habor occurred in about 741 BCE. Thus we see the territory administered by Pekah getting rapidly smaller. Eventually, only the capital city of Samaria was to be left to Hoshea, the last king of Israel.

 

30 Then Hoshe'a the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remali'ah, and struck him down, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzzi'ah. 31 Now the rest of the acts of Pekah, and all that he did, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 32 In the second year of Pekah the son of Remali'ah, king of Israel, Jotham the son of Uzzi'ah, king of Judah, began to reign. 33 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jeru'sha the daughter of Zadok. 34 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzzi'ah had done. 35 Nevertheless the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. He built the upper gate of the house of the LORD. 36 Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 37 In those days the LORD began to send Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remali'ah against Judah. 38 Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father; and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead. (RSV)

 

We see in 2Chronicles 28 that Pekah is used to rebuke Judah for its idolatry

 

2Chronicles 28:5b-20  He was also given into the hand of the king of Israel, who defeated him with great slaughter. 6 For Pekah the son of Remali'ah slew a hundred and twenty thousand in Judah in one day, all of them men of valor, because they had forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers. 7 And Zichri, a mighty man of E'phraim, slew Ma-asei'ah the king's son and Azri'kam the commander of the palace and Elka'nah the next in authority to the king. 8 The men of Israel took captive two hundred thousand of their kinsfolk, women, sons, and daughters; they also took much spoil from them and brought the spoil to Sama'ria. 9 But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded; and he went out to meet the army that came to Sama'ria, and said to them, "Behold, because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand, but you have slain them in a rage which has reached up to heaven. 10 And now you intend to subjugate the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves. Have you not sins of your own against the LORD your God?

 

Flushed with the success God had given them in the battle, the Israelites were about to enslave the captives of Judah (still described as their kinfolk), until the prophet Oded intervened to remind them of their own less-than-sinless behaviour (cf. Jn. 8:7).

 

11 Now hear me, and send back the captives from your kinsfolk whom you have taken, for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you." 12 Certain chiefs also of the men of E'phraim, Azari'ah the son of Joha'nan, Berechi'ah the son of Meshil'lemoth, Jehizki'ah the son of Shallum, and Ama'sa the son of Hadlai, stood up against those who were coming from the war, 13 and said to them, "You shall not bring the captives in here, for you propose to bring upon us guilt against the LORD in addition to our present sins and guilt. For our guilt is already great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel." 14 So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the assembly. 15 And the men who have been mentioned by name rose and took the captives, and with the spoil they clothed all that were naked among them; they clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them; and carrying all the feeble among them on asses, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Sama'ria.

 

The Israelites were in imminent danger of incurring God’s wrath; therefore the chieftains of Ephraim wisely had the captives clothed and fed and their wounds dressed, before sending them to Jericho. Even so, Judah’s troubles were not over.

 

16 At that time King Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria for help. 17 For the E'domites had again invaded and defeated Judah, and carried away captives. 18 And the Philistines had made raids on the cities in the Shephe'lah and the Negeb of Judah, and had taken Beth-she'mesh, Ai'jalon, Gede'roth, Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages, and Gimzo with its villages; and they settled there. 19 For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had dealt wantonly in Judah and had been faithless to the LORD. 20 So Til'gath-pilne'ser king of Assyria came against him, and afflicted him instead of strengthening him. (RSV)

 

Again the Assyrians were used as God’s instrument of punishment, this time against their former allies, Judah.

 

Isaiah 7:1-9  In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzzi'ah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remali'ah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but they could not conquer it. 2 When the house of David was told, "Syria is in league with E'phraim," his heart and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind. 3 And the LORD said to Isaiah, "Go forth to meet Ahaz, you and She'ar-jash'ub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Fuller's Field, 4 and say to him, `Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remali'ah. 5 Because Syria, with E'phraim and the son of Remali'ah, has devised evil against you, saying, 6 "Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer it for ourselves, and set up the son of Ta'be-el as king in the midst of it," 7 thus says the Lord GOD: It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass. 8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. (Within sixty-five years E'phraim will be broken to pieces so that it will no longer be a people.) 9 And the head of E'phraim is Sama'ria, and the head of Sama'ria is the son of Remali'ah. If you will not believe, surely you shall not be established.'" (RSV)

 

In spite of Isaiah’s prophecy that the Israel/Syria alliance would not succeed against Judah, Ahaz still didn’t put his trust in God. He showed weakness by ‘supping with the devil’ as it were, in the form of the Assyrian king (2Kgs. 16:1ff.), just as Hoshea of Israel was to run to Egypt for support against Assyria (see below).

 

2Kings 16:1-5  In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remali'ah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God, as his father David had done, 3 but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree. 5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remali'ah, king of Israel, came up to wage war on Jerusalem, and they besieged Ahaz but could not conquer him. (RSV)

 

There is more confusion regarding the actual regnal years of King Pekah. The Jewish Encyclopedia (art. ‘Pekah’) provides a possible explanation.

 

The length of Pekah's reign is stated (II Kings xv. 27) to have been twenty years. This extent is impossible if reckoned from the usurpation of Pekahiah's throne (736) to the succession of Hoshea (733-31). There is, however, an explanation that has some plausibility. When Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam II, was slain by Shallum, it was the beginning of general anarchy in Israel. Shallum reigned a short time in Samaria; but east of the Jordan Pekah and his Gileadite followers assumed independence, with Pekah as king. That was about 750 or 751. At the accession of Pekahiah, Pekah and his valiant followers may have offered their services to the king at Samaria. Pekahiah may have innocently accepted the offer and have thus given Pekah the long-wished-for opportunity to become king of all Israel. Such an explanation would account for the round number of twenty years of kingship (750-731).

 

According to the Chronology of the Kings of Israel (Table 1, appended), the usurpation of Pekahiah’s throne by Pekah was probably in 740 rather than in 736, with the succession of Hoshea in 731 BCE. Also, the twenty years of kingship was perhaps 751-731 BCE; hence there is a reasonable concurrence with the accepted dates.

 

Hoshea

Unbeknown to Hoshea when he acceded to the throne, he would be the twentieth and last of a far from illustrious line of kings of Israel. From the Annals of the Gaza/Damascus campaign of Tiglath-pileser, it appears that Hoshea was merely a puppet ruler and Israel a vassal province of Assyria. The Annals state: “They overthrew Pekah their king and I made Hoshea to be king over them.”

 

The name Hoshea (meaning salvation or deliverer) was part of the name given to Joshua, son of Nun, and to Messiah: YaHoshua (SHD 3091: Jehovah is salvation) indicating that God was with him. The same could not be said of King Hoshea, who was almost an antitype of Messiah by effectively leading his people into captivity. We see also that King Jeconiah of Judah became plain Coniah after the divine prefix Je- (Ye-) had been removed as a sign of God’s disfavour (see the paper Genealogy of the Messiah (No. 119)).

 

It appears Hoshea also did evil in God’s sight but not to the same degree as Ahab and other idolatrous kings.

 

2Kings 17:1-6  In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah Hoshe'a the son of Elah began to reign in Sama'ria over Israel, and he reigned nine years. 2 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, yet not as the kings of Israel who were before him. 3 Against him came up Shalmane'ser king of Assyria; and Hoshe'a became his vassal, and paid him tribute.

 

Unfortunately for Hoshea, Shalmaneser V (reigned 726-722 BCE) discovered that he had been seeking assistance from a Pharaoh, named variously So, Sewe or Sib’e (Assyr.) with a view to avoiding the heavy annual tribute imposed by Assyria. Egypt, however, was found to be a broken reed to Israel (cf. Isa. 36:6). It was to be Hoshea’s last mistake. He was supposedly blinded (see art. ‘Hoshea’, Jew. Encyc.) and imprisoned at Shalmaneser’s behest.

 

4 But the king of Assyria found treachery in Hoshe'a; for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year; therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. 5 Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Sama'ria, and for three years he besieged it. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshe'a the king of Assyria captured Sama'ria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. (RSV)

 

As recorded in 1Chronicles 5:26, Tiglath-pileser, or Pul, had also transported the northerners and easterners of Israel to the cities of Assyria, in particular, Halah and Hazor. This time, however, the Assyrians, perhaps in a spirit of ‘divide and rule’, also sent some of the latest contingent farther east into the cities of Media. It wouldn’t have made sense to leave them among their previously-exiled brethren in the Assyrian cities to plot rebellion; and these were a rebellious people after all.

 

Shalmaneser died unexpectedly during the first year of the siege of Samaria. His successor, Sargon II (the king of Assyria in v. 6), captured the city and, together with many of the remnant of Israelite tribes west of the Jordan, the inhabitants were taken into captivity and exiled. Sargon claimed in his Annals: “I besieged and conquered Samaria … I led away into captivity 27,290 people who lived there.”

 

Josephus states that it was Shalmaneser himself who arranged the deportations (Antiq. Jews, Bk. 9, 13) by assuming that the “king of Assyria” was the same person in verses 3, 5 and 6 above; if this were so, however, these could only have been Israelites deported from the area surrounding Samaria and not from the capital itself, which fell to Sargon.

 

Sargon II was the “tartan” (turtaanu: commander-in-chief) of Shalmaneser’s army and supposedly seized the throne of Assyria around the time of the siege of Samaria.

 

This was to be the third and final invasion directed primarily at the Northern Kingdom. However, there were still some original inhabitants left in the land after Sargon’s deportations, as noted from their attendance at the fourth Great Passover called by King Hezekiah (who reigned ca. 726-697) in Jerusalem (see The Seven Great Passovers of the Bible (No. 107)).

 

In 2Chronicles 30, we see that Hezekiah called all Israel, from Dan to Beersheba (v. 5); however, only those of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun responded positively (v. 11). Hezekiah followed this up with a wholesale destruction of the Baal system throughout Israel (2Chr. 31).

 

Thus ended the reigns of 20 kings and 5 dynasties in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

 

Reasons for the Captivity and Exile

Second Kings gives a comprehensive list of reasons for Israel’s captivity and exile. The people were reminded that their forebears had been taken out of bondage in Egypt but had quickly returned to the worship of pagan gods; basically, they proved ungrateful for the salvation afforded by their God. They preferred to have gods they could see with their eyes and touch with their hands – their golden calves, their Asherah pillars and their Baals – rather than walking by faith before an invisible God Most High as the Patriarch Abraham had done and for which he was honoured and blessed.

 

The northern tribes of Israel had followed their first king Jeroboam just as eagerly into idolatrous worship as their ancestors under Moses had done. It was an intolerable situation that could only be remedied by enslavement once again. 2Kings 17:7ff. is a summary of all that had happened to Israel.

 

2Kings 17:7-23  And this was so, because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods 8 and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs which the kings of Israel had introduced. 9 And the people of Israel did secretly against the LORD their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places at all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city; 10 they set up for themselves pillars and Ashe'rim on every high hill and under every green tree; 11 and there they burned incense on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger, 12 and they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, "You shall not do this." 13 Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, "Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets."

 

There were a total of nine prophets in the Northern Kingdom of Israel: Ahijah, Jehu (son of Hanani), Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah, Jonah, Oded, Amos, and Hosea, many of whom were contemporaneous; therefore, Israel could not say it wasn’t warned by God of the calamities to come as a direct result of its sins.

 

14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God. 15 They despised his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and the warnings which he gave them. They went after false idols, and became false, and they followed the nations that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them that they should not do like them. 16 And they forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made for themselves molten images of two calves; and they made an Ashe'rah, and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Ba'al. 17 And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings, and used divination and sorcery, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. 18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight; none was left but the tribe of Judah only.

 

When speaking to Judah, Jeremiah reminded them of what had happened to Ephraim (Jer. 7:15) as a representative of all the northern tribes. Isaiah had foretold something similar in Isaiah 7:8.

 

19 Judah also did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the customs which Israel had introduced. 20 And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel, and afflicted them, and gave them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. 21 When he had torn Israel from the house of David they made Jerobo'am the son of Nebat king. And Jerobo'am drove Israel from following the LORD and made them commit great sin. 22 The people of Israel walked in all the sins which Jerobo'am did; they did not depart from them, 23 until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had spoken by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day. (RSV)

 

The punishment for their persistent idolatrous practices was to be banished from the land of Israel. The prophet Amos predicted the subsequent dispersal of the people of Israel throughout the world – including the self-satisfied and arrogant, or those who considered themselves immune.

 

Amos 9:9-10  “For lo, I will command, and shake the house of Israel among all the nations as one shakes with a sieve, but no pebble [grain: KJV] shall fall upon the earth. 10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Evil shall not overtake or meet us.’” (RSV)

 

Resettlement and future of Israel

2Kings 17:24-41 And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sephar-va'im, and placed them in the cities of Sama'ria instead of the people of Israel; and they took possession of Sama'ria, and dwelt in its cities.

 

Bullinger’s note to verse 24 details the areas from which the new residents of Israel were brought:

Cuthah. Ten miles north-east of Babylon. In the first year of Sargon there was war between Cuthah and Babylon, and the people of Cuthah were transported to Syria and Palestine.

Ava = either the Ivah of 18.34, or the Ahava of Ezra 8.15.

Hamath. The one in Syria.

Sepharvaim (Dual). The two Sippars in Babylonia. Sippar sa Samas (the sun-god) and Sippar sa Anuituv.

 

The Assyrians showed their typical astuteness. By bringing disparate peoples into Israel, they realised it would take generations (if ever) for them to coalesce and provide any serious opposition; hence rebellion could be minimised for a long time. It was an effective means of keeping their vassal state of Samaria in bondage.

 

Israel’s captivity and deportation was to be followed almost 50 years later by that of her sister Judah. During the Assyrian Esar-haddon’s campaign against Judah in ca. 676 BCE, he removed many of the remaining Israelites from Samaria and replaced them with more foreigners.

 

An equally diverse contingent was later sent into Israel by Asnapper (Osnappar) or Ashurbani-pal, son of Esar-haddon. These were the Apharsathchites, Apharsites, Archevites, Babylonians, Dehavites, Dinaites, Elamites, Susanchites and Tarpelites (Ezra 4:9-10, KJV).

 

The word Apharsathchites is a Persian loan word denoting a judicial official connected with the Old Persian frasaka, indicating an investigator. The cuneiform is iprasakku. Its use in Ezra 4:9 is connected with the Old Persian from frestak meaning messenger. They were thus the early administrators and couriers.

 

Apharsites are identified as a section of Persians (RSV) or undefined Gentilic (see Interp. Dict., Vol. 1, p. 156).

 

Archevites are the Aramaic Khetibh, the Akkadian Uruk or Erech. They are thus a Semitic people as well. 

 

Babylonians are obviously the citizens of Babylon before it was split from the Assyrian Empire.

 

Dehavites are part of the group that signed the letter to Artaxerxes to stop the rebuilding of Jerusalem. They were identified by Herodotus (I, 1, 25) as the Daoi, which were a Persian tribe that lived on the shores of the Caspian Sea (Strabo XI. 7). The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible thinks that the word is dihu and should be read as the men of Susa and that the mispointing created a new tribe.  However, the vast extent of the dispersal of the Israelites beyond the Araxes into Parthia and Scythia and into Media and northern Persia does not exclude the first meaning.

 

Dinaites are mentioned often in the Aramaic papyri and they are judges. These judges also wrote to Artaxerxes (Ezra 4:9). It is an official title and is rendered as such in the LXX (Lucianic Recensions). Herodotus and Josephus describe them briefly (cf. Schnell, Interp. Dict., ibid., Vol. 1, p. 844).

 

Elamites are Semitic Persians to the east of the Medes.

 

Susanchites are natives of Susa in Persia.

 

Tarpelites is a rendering of an Aramaic word which is translated in the LXX as tarphallaioi and the Vulgate Terphalaei. It is either a professional name or a tribal name and various meanings have been suggested.

 

Tibarenes, or sons of Tubal, have been suggested along with men of the Tetrapolis, which includes Antioch, Seleucia, Apamea, and Laodicea (following Strabo XVI, pp. 749-50); or from the Persian tarapara meaning beyond the River referring to Syrians west of the Euphrates. The resettlement of Israel to the north might well lend credence to the northern captives being sent to the south, which was the usual Assyrian practice of sending captives to the opposite ends of the empire. Tubal would account for the Japhethite YDNA R in the area.

 

If they come from southern Anatolia in what is now Turkey they may be Arabs, as the original inhabitants of Edessa became part of the Parthian Empire and one of its mints. The inhabitants there were sons of Keturah called Arabs.

 

The R1b YDNA comes directly from the Hittite alliance.

 

Cutheans are Cutha or Kuthu from the city of that name north-east of Babylon at Tell Ibrahim. It was famous for the cult of Nergal, god of the underworld, and the Cutheans brought the cult with them to Palestine (cf. Jacobsen Interp. Dict., Vol. 1, p. 752). Nergal might be identified with Mormo, god of the cult of the dead. It would explain the reincarnation aspects of the religion of the Druze and the views of some rabbis in Jerusalem today.

 

Medes are sons of Madai son of Japheth and their homeland is on the mountain country north of Babylon and north-west of Persia. The mtDNA I haplogroup is prevalent there among the Kurds and in Italy where the sons of Aeneas went after the fall of Troy with a band of the  Riphathian Celts of Troy and founded Rome. That group is also present but rare in Britain and in some Egyptians and others in the Middle East.

 

The operation to replace many of the remaining Israelites in Samaria (not just the capital) may have fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 7:8 concerning the 65 years of Ephraim, i.e. from 741 to 676 BCE. These are the people who became known in NT times as the Samaritans, although some were undoubtedly true Israelites as we now know from the YDNA tests done on the Samaritan families, having close relationship with some Jews. During the Byzantine Empire the vast numbers that inhabited Samaria of the Samaritans were slaughtered systematically by the Byzantine emperors on an ongoing basis because of constant rebellion. There are now only some 700 left still following the Calendar of Jeroboam and always placing the New Year after 25 March. This practice is a great clue to the location of the Israelites before the mid-eighteenth century when the Gregorian calendar was adopted.

 

Judah itself was never replanted with Gentiles; rather it was left largely empty until the Jews and other tribes returned from captivity 70 years later. Ezra spoke of a time following the return from this last captivity.

 

Ezra 4:1-2  Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel, 2 they approached Zerub'babel and the heads of fathers' houses and said to them, "Let us build with you; for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of E'sar-had'don king of Assyria who brought us here." (RSV)

 

Here is direct evidence that these people didn’t consider themselves true Israelites. They knew their own history (as did the Samaritan woman to whom Christ spoke: Jn. 4:7ff.), that their forebears had been planted in the land by Esar-haddon, who had conducted the fifth major Assyrian invasion of Palestine (his predecessor Sennacherib had also invaded). These foreigners wanted to help with the rebuilding of the Temple under Ezra and Nehemiah, but their hearts weren’t right, as Ezra could discern (see the paper Reading the Law with Ezra and Nehemiah (No. 250)).

 

Continuing with 2Kings 17:

25 And at the beginning of their dwelling there, they did not fear the LORD; therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of them. 26 So the king of Assyria was told, "The nations which you have carried away and placed in the cities of Sama'ria do not know the law of the god of the land; therefore he has sent lions among them, and behold, they are killing them, because they do not know the law of the god of the land." 27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, "Send there one of the priests whom you carried away thence; and let him go and dwell there, and teach them the law of the god of the land." 28 So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Sama'ria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.

 

A rather remarkable situation, where we have the Assyrian king arranging for a priest to return from captivity in order to instruct the foreigners occupying Samaria about the God of Israel. Bullinger says that the priest here is: ‘An idolatrous Israelite priest from Samaria’ (note to v. 27); however, this may be incorrect, as the word used for Lord throughout is Yahovah rather than Baal. The term god in verses 26 and 27 is Elohim, hence the ‘god of the land (of Israel)’ is Yahovah Elohim, or the Angel of Great Counsel.

 

This gesture by the Assyrians was probably done for purely pragmatic reasons, as it seems they were more interested in maintaining social harmony and efficient administration (for which they were renowned) of their vassal states than in eliminating other religions or even restricting their practices.

 

It was the first recorded case of someone from Israel (possibly a Levite) preaching to the Gentiles, and was the same area (known then as Galilee of the nations) to which Christ went prior to his crucifixion following his rejection by Judah.

 

Isaiah 9:1  But there will be no gloom for her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zeb'ulun and the land of Naph'tali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. (RSV)

 

We saw in the reign of Pekah that Naphtali was the first tribe of Israel to go into captivity, hence being brought into contempt, which occurred during Isaiah’s lifetime. Isaiah 9:1-7 talks about the establishment of God’s Kingdom under Messiah and, implicit in the second fulfilment of the dual prophecy, is something positive for Galilee, basically Zebulun and Naphtali, in these Latter Days.

 

It is noteworthy that the men of Naphtali (plus Asher and Manasseh) assisted Gideon against the Midianites (Jdg. 7:23) – again with possible end-time connotations.

 

The prophet Obadiah spoke of a time when the exiles would be returned to the Promised Land from Halah (cf. 1Chr. 5:26).

 

Obadiah 1:20  The exiles in Halah who are of the people of Israel shall possess Phoenicia as far as Zar'ephath; and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sephar'ad shall possess the cities of the Negeb. (RSV)

 

This place of exile called Sepharad (appropriately meaning separated) is probably to be identified as Sardis, capital of Lydia in Asia Minor. An Aramaic inscription has been found at Sardis itself in a bilingual inscription of the name and it is identical with the text used in Obadiah. The meaning is that Judah shall be returned and inhabit the south to the Negeb and Israel will return and inhabit Phoenicia between Tyre and within six miles from Sidon.

 

Halah is an unknown site in the Assyrian Empire or kingdom to which some of the Kingdom of Israel were deported by Shalmaneser in the ninth year of King Hosea (2Kgs. 17:6; 18:11). 1Chronicles 5:26 deals with Pul’s or Tiglath-pileser’s exiling of Israelites to Halah. The RSV in Obadiah 1:20 reads the exiles in Halah for what is termed the exiles of this host (see also Gordon Interp. Dict., ibid., art. ‘Halah’, Vol. 2, p. 512).

 

Good King Josiah of Judah instituted the fifth Great Passover as recorded in 2Chronicles 35 (see The Seven Great Passovers of the Bible (No. 107)). Josiah also took his campaign of removing idolatry from his own land into Samaria (2Chr. 34:33), which was inhabited largely by Gentiles. The term all Israel in verse 3 hints that there were remnants of the original tribes extant.

 

Josiah’s missionary-type activity could also have relevance to these Last Days, whereby Judah may be called upon to take the message of salvation to the Gentiles, as had been originally intended. See the paper Josiah’s Restoration (No. 245).

 

Continuing in 2Kings 17, with reference again to Samaria:

29 But every nation still made gods of its own, and put them in the shrines of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities in which they dwelt; 30 the men of Babylon made Suc'coth-be'noth, the men of Cuth[ah] made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashi'ma, 31 and the Av'vites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sephar'vites burned their children in the fire to Adram'melech and Anam'melech, the gods of Sephar-va'im.

 

In his note to verse 30, Bullinger (Comp. Bible, p.515) says of these five nations:

Each brought its own gods. Thus (according to the language of the O.T.) Samaria committed adultery (idolatry) with five husbands (cp. Isa.54.5 with Isa.23.17. Jer.22.20. Hos.2.10-12). Repeated individually in John 4.18. No wonder the woman worshipped she knew not what (John 4.22).

 

Succoth-Benoth means the Booths of Girls and is probably a reference to Sarpanitu the female consort of Marduk, city god of Babylon. Nergal we have explained earlier.

 

Ashima, also Ashimah (Amos 8:14), may be a corruption of a Canaanite goddess worshipped in Syria on the Orontes River at Hamath (now Nahr el Asi). This was the ancient northern border of Israel.

 

The Avvites were allegedly Avvim or aboriginal Canaanites that lived in villages near Gaza and were supposedly destroyed by the Philistines or Caphtorim (Deut. 2:23; Jos. 13:3; 2Kgs. 17:31). They were resettled in Samaria. The name Tartuk is unknown but appears to be a corruption of Atargatis the mother goddess worshipped in Syria by the Aramaeans, and thus the Avvim are probably sons of Aram that settled on the coast. The more modern term for her is Dercato and the fish was held sacred to her and is the origin of the fish symbol attributed to Christianity and the origin of eating fish as a religious symbol.

 

Nibhaz, on the other hand, is known to be a deity worshipped by the Syrian colonists of Israel from Iwwa. Gray believes that the name is a wilful Hebrew distortion of the name of the mizbeah or the altar of the deity which itself was worshipped (cf. Interp. Dict., Vol. 3, p. 546).

 

The Sepharvites we see worshipped the version of  Melech, Adram Melech and Anam Melech.

 

The Serpharvaim are believed to be the Sabraim of Syria by A.L. Oppenheim (see Interp. Dict., Vol. 1, p. 50). It is considered to be either an unnamed local deity or a version of the god Athtar, the Venus Star. It is also the name of the son of Sennacharib who, with Sharezar, murdered his father in the temple of Nisroch (2Kgs. 19:37; cf. Isa. 37:39). However, there is no known Assyrian interpretation of the name.

 

The term Melech seems to convey the name Moloch, which is probably related to the Hebrew melek or king. The name Anam Melech is probably Anu is king. Moloch may well simply be the Moabite form for Lord or King. The Bible clearly says they burned children to the deities, but there is no feature of this aspect of the cult in Mesopotamia. However, the practice was carried out all over Phoenicia and at Carthage in North Africa. Thus the Syrians affected by the cult of Moloch would have allocated their own personalised version of the deity.

 

We can see that these numerous Samaritans were not true Israelites but many were Semites with some Japhethites and Hamites among them. 

 

2Kings 17 continues:

32 They also feared the LORD, and appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. 33 So they feared the LORD but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away. 34 To this day they do according to the former manner. They do not fear the LORD, and they do not follow the statutes or the ordinances or the law or the commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 35 The LORD made a covenant with them, and commanded them, "You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them; 36 but you shall fear the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm; you shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice. 37 And the statutes and the ordinances and the law and the commandment which he wrote for you, you shall always be careful to do. You shall not fear other gods, 38 and you shall not forget the covenant that I have made with you. You shall not fear other gods, 39 but you shall fear the LORD your God, and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies." 40 However they would not listen, but they did according to their former manner. 41 So these nations feared the LORD, and also served their graven images; their children likewise, and their children's children – as their fathers did, so they do to this day. (RSV)

 

Hence there was a real mixture of religious practice among the people in Samaria at that time, which is precisely the situation among the descendants of Israel today. Many people ostensibly follow the Bible yet they do not keep the whole Law of God as given therein. And those who purport to be Bible-believing Christians are simultaneously worshipping on the Day of the Sun, paying obeisance to the goddess Astarte/Easter, and observing the pagan winter festival called Christmas – all in the name of God and supposedly to His glory (cf. 2Tim. 3:4-5).

 

The One True God tells them quite unequivocally, however, that: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isa. 55:8) and hence, these people are worshipping what they know not and, therefore, largely in vain.

 

Conclusion

In all of the foregoing history of Israel we can see a divine plan being worked out by God in His omniscience. He arranged for the northern tribes to be sent into captivity in Assyria, ultimately for their benefit and certain preservation; then, by various routes, they were pushed into many lands far to the north and ultimately northwest from Palestine.

 

The New Testament tells us that the Ten Tribes were scattered abroad (Jas. 1:1) and James addresses his epistle to them. The Apostle to the circumcision was Peter. Hippolytus tells us that mission was far to the north. Peter went to Antioch and established the Church there, then went on from there to the north.

 

From the text Origins of the Christian Church in Britain (No. 266) we saw that:

“Peter is listed by Hippolytus as preaching the gospel in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia and Betania, and Italy and Asia. He is then held to have been crucified upside down in the time of Nero (ANF, Vol. V, pp. 254-255). However, so also were a number of other apostles crucified upside down, such as Philip and Bartholomew. Andrew was also crucified on an olive tree.

 

The sheer breadth of Peter’s ministry makes it impossible that he could have been bishop of Rome. Betania is in the area of Tbilisi in the Caucasus. It is the area from where the Anglo-Saxons came as part of the Parthian horde and where the Israelites had been banished. Peter’s major area of mission was to the Lost Tribes of Israel scattered abroad and there fused with the Scythians and Parthians, and not to Rome. Paul was apostle to the Gentiles not Peter; he was an apostle to the circumcision.

 

Peter was originally bishop or patriarch of Antioch, and appointed Evodius as bishop there in his place, well before he died. Evodius died ca 68 and was replaced by Ignatius of Antioch as bishop. Eusebius, (Historia Ecclesiastica, II.iii.22) records that Ignatius succeeded Evodius. Theodoret (Dial. Immutab., I, iv, 33a) states that Peter himself appointed Ignatius to the see of Antioch. That means Peter must have been there in 68 CE on the death of Evodius, and he either returned to Rome or was never killed in Rome. Alternatively, Ignatius may have gone to Rome on the death of Evodius, or he was appointed by instrument of Peter and perhaps ordained by John. Thus Peter is intimately associated with Antioch, and not with Rome, and in appointing its bishops.

 

Ignatius styled himself Theophoret or bearer of God, and is understood to have been a disciple of Peter and John. Indeed, he must have been, as John lived and controlled the Church from Ephesus and Ignatius must have had close association with him.

 

Ignatius was martyred between 98 and 117 CE.

 

If the tradition is to be accepted that Peter ordained Clement as bishop of Rome on the death of Linus, then Peter was not martyred in Rome where it is commonly believed he died. Such a view must be dismissed unless Linus was martyred shortly before Peter, and Peter then appointed Clement, or had given such instructions”(ibid.).

 

However, the timing of the appointments in Antioch shows that Peter was still overseeing operations there to the tribes in the dispersion. The sheer magnitude of the area of Peter’s administration is to the north and Italy was a minor part of it and barely rates a mention in relation to the other areas. Rome itself is not even mentioned as part of the ministry. There is only a general reference to Italy. Linus is specifically mentioned by Hippolytus as being bishop of Rome when Peter is alive. The details are in the Appendix of paper No. 266 (ibid.).

 

We can safely say that the Ten Tribes were in the Caucasus in what was Parthia and Scythia at the time of Peter’s missions between 30 and 68 CE.

 

At its greatest extent Parthia occupied a vast area. Parthia and the surrounding nations that made up its Empire had a large number of Israelites and many made pilgrimages to Jerusalem, as we know from Acts 2:9-11.  Parthia at one time occupied areas now in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel.

 

Parthia stood between Rome and the East.

The sub-kingdoms of the Parthians were Characene, Elymais and Persis.

 

After defeating the Romans, but weakened by them, the Persians who were once part of its empire attacked and defeated the Parthians and caused a portion of its central horde to move north-west into Europe under The Judge who was its leader U’din or Odin or Woden. They brought with them the Almanac or calendar based on the New Moons. Almanach means the counting in Arabic.  Some of the horde that were to become the Kurds remained behind. Their most famous leader was Salah’ u’din or Saladin.

 

Without any doubt at the time of Peter’s mission and at the time of the writing of the text to the Hebrews, these areas listed by Hippolytus were all parts of the Parthian Empire. Some attribute the Book of Hebrews to Paul and four texts place it after 2Thessalonians, but the dating and the intent was within the jurisdiction of Peter.

 

Thus the area contained the groups that went from what is now Armenia and Georgia and the area around the Black Sea and Caspian Sea into Europe. The tradition that Peter preached to the British comes from his mission to the Israelites among the Anglo-Saxons, Jutes and other tribes of the Horde while in Parthia and not in Britain itself. The combination of these people would be of R1b and a Semitic Haplogroup I. We find this combination throughout Western Europe in the Celts, Angles, Saxons of Britain and Saxony, Jutes, Danes, Norse, Frisians, and into France and Spain. West Europe and Denmark are largely a combination of R1b and I Haplogroups. Some are known Anglo-Saxons and Celts, some are Gomerites and some are Magogites. Some are Goths, Alans and Heruli.  The I groups are Semites and the divisions of them will no doubt identify the tribes (see the paper Genetic Origin of the Nations (No. 265)).

 

These Gomerites and the I Hg Semites fit the description of Israelites scattered throughout Parthia, and what was Scythia.

 

“Like other aspects of Parthian material culture, there are distinct differences between regions in burial practices.  There have been few Parthian burials reported from Iran.  This is probably due to the nature of burial, as simple cremation-type burials leave little for archaeology.  Further west the picture is more complicated.  The site of Shahr-I Qumis (northeast of Tehran) yielded evidence for multi-room funerary structures.  Human and animal bones were found together, leading the excavators to speculate on a cultural connection with the Scythians, who deposited horse bones with human burials.  As with other areas of the Parthian empire, too little is known about the relationship between material remains and religion (Hansman and Stronach 1970: 49).”

http://www.parthia.com/nineveh/06.htm

 

The Parthians were not one tribal group and were nomads. They wore trousers and were associated with horsemanship. Many Scythians wore kilts, and further east they were in the Uigur autonomous region of what is now China. The men also took wives from other racial or sedentary groups.

 

YDNA evidence now shows that Scots, Irish and other Celts, as well as Anglo-Saxons and Normans, have predominantly R1b YDNA with a section of Semitic I. The historical record shows they were all from the area of the Russian steppes with some from Assyria, such as the Hermanduri, or men of Ur, who form the modern German Thuringians.

 

The Romans recruited the Sarmatians after they managed to defeat them and placed many of them in Britain in the army, and these were once no doubt part of the Parthian horde that did not move into Europe with the Anglo-Saxons. The Massagetae, or Greater Goths, and Vandals moved in as part of the Horde and all were Unitarian Sabbatarians. The Goths split up into the Ostrogoths (Eastern Goths) who settled in Italy and Austria along with the Lombards and the Visi-Goths (Western Goths) who occupied Spain. These people were all predominantly R1b or I haplogroups. Thus they were a mixture of Japhethite and Semite lineage. Hence the prophecy was fulfilled that Japheth would be enlarged and would dwell in the tents of Shem. In other words, Japheth would be the larger or greater people but the birthright promises of Shem would be conferred on him as well due to their intermarriage.

 

The Anglo-Saxons and the Lombards that split off from them all wore trousers and fringes around the bottoms of them.

 

There is little doubt that the R1bs come from the one ancestor, and ultimately the R1a Slavs also come from the same lineage, perhaps higher up; or perhaps some of them became R1a and some developed into R1b due to isolation from the same ancestors.

 

The intermingling of the people now has resulted in all of them carrying some Israelite bloodlines whether they are YDNA Israelites or YDNA Celts of the Hittite and later Parthian alliances.

Khazars

The removal of the Parthians, that were the Anglo-Saxons, Lombards, Jutes, Goths and Vandals, saw the Khazars take up the area once occupied by these nomads and the Israelites and Jews that remained behind with them.

 

The Khazars were comprised of Ashkenazi Gomerites and Slavs, but the R1a of the Slavs predominated among them suggesting that the R1 divisions into R1a and R1b occurred after the split, or they mutated somehow. The predominance in Norway and Sweden of R1a indicates that it may have occurred in the first millennium of the Current Era. The absence of R1b in North Africa where the Vandals went indicated they either were completely wiped out or were RxR1 basics and settled in Cameroon. Thus the divisions may be very much later indeed.

 

On the other hand, the Semitic groups may have settled into four basic stable groups early; and Assyrians and Arphaxadite Hebrews contain multiple types of Hg. I.

The Healing of the Breach

The Kingdom of Israel, which ended with Hoshea, was not to be united again with Judah, in effect, until about 2500 years later in the Last Days. The union was commenced from West Europe and ultimately the Americas and Australasia and South Africa. It was to be in Europe where most of the “lost” Ten Tribes of Israel had surfaced under Haplogroup I. Many Israelites were in the "Isles of the Sea" or the UK and Ireland, and more Jews now live side by side with the Hg I and R1B Celto/Israelites in the US and British Commonwealth than anywhere else on Earth. The YDNA lines of the kings from 1066 were Norman R1b, with Hebrew Davidic lines inherited chiefly through the females, being transferred by marriage or migration (see the papers Descendants of Abraham Part V: Judah (No. 212E) and also From David and the Exilarchs to the House of Windsor (No. 67)). 

 

The Union of the Crowns between the royal houses of England and Scotland was effected in 1603. Despite sharing a sovereign, however, it wasn’t until the Act of Union of the Parliaments exactly 300 years ago (in 1707) that the two countries settled their differences long enough to create a new entity called Great Britain. With the inclusion of Ireland in January 1801, the country became known as the United Kingdom for the first time. (Most of Ireland has since become independent.)

 

God has certainly protected these islands in spite of the endemic idolatry and the inroads that Trinitarianism quickly made. These began basically with Augustine’s mission to England, which came soon after the death of the notable Irish Sabbatarian saint, Columba, in 597 CE. This was a mere seven years after the rise of the so-called Holy Roman Empire, perhaps indicating that the British Isles was considered an important bastion that had to be thoroughly infiltrated with the Babylonian mysteries in order to eliminate the worship of the One True God of Columba’s followers and others.

 

Wherever they are found in the world today, whether in the north (Jer. 3:12) or scattered across the globe, the descendants of Israel, either through direct YDNA lineage or through cross-breeding with Parthian Anglo-Saxons or Jutes and Lombards or Hittites and other Celts and indeed all nations, are urged to repent and return to the God who their fathers' knew.

 

Jeremiah 3:11-13a  And the LORD said to me, "Faithless Israel has shown herself less guilty than false Judah. 12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, `Return, faithless Israel, says the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, says the LORD; I will not be angry for ever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God ... (RSV)

 

The call is presently going out to all nations for all people to repent and become the Israel of God, which will ultimately fill the whole Earth.

 

q


 

 

 

 


 

 

 

    Table 1: Chronology of the Kings of Israel

 

Dynasty: no.

King

Period of Reign (BCE)

Duration

 

End

I: 1

Jeroboam

932 - 910/09

22 years

Died

I: 2

Nadab

910/09 - 909/08

2 years

Murdered

II: 3

Baasha

909/08 - 886/85

24 years

Died

II: 4

Elah

886/85 - 885/84

2 years

Murdered

5

Zimri

885/84

7 days

Suicide

6*

Tibni

885/84 - 883/82

2 years

Died

III: 7*

Omri

885/84 - 874/73

12 years

Died

III: 8

Ahab

874/73 - 853

22 years

Killed in battle

III: 9

Ahaziah

853 - 852

2 years

Died

III: 10

Jehoram

852 - 841

12 years

Murdered

IV: 11

Jehu

841 - 814/13

28 years

Died

IV: 12

Jehoahaz

814/13 - 798

17 years

Died

IV: 13

Jehoash

798 - 782/81

16 years

Died

IV: 14

Jeroboam II

[793] 782/81 - 753

41 years

Died

IV: 15

Zechariah

753 - 752

6 months

Murdered

16

Shallum

752

1 month

Murdered

V: 17

Menahem

752 - 742/41

10 years

Died

V: 18

Pekahiah

742/41 - 740/39

2 years

Murdered

V: 19

Pekah

[751] 740/39 - 732/31

20 years

Murdered

20

Hoshea

732/31 - 722

9 years

Died

 

Notes:  1) Discrepancies in the reigns of Jeroboam II and Pekah are examined in the text;  2) * denotes concurrent reign