Israel in Assyrian Exile
the records of the assyrian kings
as found on assyrian monuments
Excerpts from "Sacred Books And Early Literature Of The East,"
Charles F. Horne, editor.
Parke, Austin, and Lipscomb, Inc.,
New York and London, publisher, 1917
Notes and illustrations have been added by the present editor, J.S. Brooks, and were not part of the original text.
Assyria began to rise to military power as early as the period of the Tel-el-Amarna letters (1400 B.C.). At that time her rulers had become rivals of Babylon. But the fighting Assyrian kings met many a rebuff, and the age of their actual world-empire scarcely begins until we come to King Shalmaneser III, who ruled from 858-824 B.C. Shalmaneser was not, like the earlier Assyrian kings, a mere marauder, a ravager of other lands. He was a statesman, an organizer, who tried to retain permanent hold of the regions he had conquered, and to restore them to prosperity under his control. Shalmaneser III is also the first Assyrian king of whom we know definitely that he came in contact with the kings of Bible story, the Hebrew rulers of Judah and Samaria, and the Aramaic kings of Damascus.
Shalmaneser asserts his victory over all these western kings; but when we allow for the boastful tone of Assyrian inscriptions it seems probable that they fairly held their own against him. The consolidation and extension of his power were mainly in his own valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates. Several of Shalmaneser’s inscriptions have come down to us, the most noted being the one here given and known as ‘the Black Obelisk’ inscription. It is engraved on an obelisk of black marble, about five feet high, which was set up in his capital. On all four sides of the obelisk there are sculptured figures of vassals bringing tribute, among them being the tribute of ‘Jehu of Israel,’ of Bible fame.
Next come the longer and still more boastful inscriptions of Sargon II (721-705 B.C.) and his son Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.). Both of these grim and furious destroyers ravaged the surrounding lands with a cruelty and a breadth of successful destruction previously unknown even to Assyrian annals. Again and again Sargon II records of a captured city, ‘its king I flayed’ or ‘its warriors I set up on stakes.’ It was in Sargon’s reign that the kingdom of Israel was finally destroyed, though the Jewish history rightly attributes the final attack to his predecessor, Shalmaneser V, who began the campaign but died before completing it. Thus the actual destruction of Samaria, the capital of Israel, was accomplished by Sargon, and it was he who dragged the ‘ten tribes’ of the Hebrews away to Assyria as his captives and so utterly dispersed them that we know them only as the ‘ten lost tribes.’ Sargon in his inscription describes this capture of Samaria, its rebellion, and its second capture.
Sennacherib also tells of warring in Palestine, and boasts of his success against Hezekiah, King of Judah. He makes no mention of the story which the Bible tells of his losing an army by pestilence; but then the Assyrian kings never mention their defeats. We know that their campaigns were sometimes failures; but we have to read between the lines of their boasting to discover these. Sennacherib admits quite plainly that he did not conquer Jerusalem, but only held its king besieged ‘like a caged bird,’ and then abandoned the attack, for some reason which he did not care, in his pompous record, to admit.
Black Obelisk Of Shalmaneser III (858-824 B.C.)
Accompanying the Sculpture
“The Tribute of ‘Su’a, of the country of the Guzanians: silver, gold, lead, articles of bronze, scepters for the King’s hand, horses, and camels with double backs: I received.
The tribute of Jehu, of the land of Omri, silver, gold, bowls of gold, vessels of gold, goblets of gold, pitchers of gold, lead, scepters for the King’s hand, and staves: I received.
The tribute of the country of Muzri: camels with double backs, an ox of the river ‘Saceya, horses, wild asses, elephants, and apes: I received.
The tribute of Marduk-pal-itstsar, of the country of the ‘Sukhians: silver, gold, pitchers of gold, tusks of the wild bull, staves, antimony, garments of many colors, and linen: I received.
The tribute of Garparunda, of the country of the Patinians: silver, gold, lead, bronze, gums, articles of bronze, tusks of wild bulls, and ebony: I received.” [End of Inscription]
Editor’s note to the Black Obelisk inscription: The House of Israel was not called “Israel” by the Assyrians, but instead, “Khumri,” meaning the “House of Omri.” In the inscription above we see the Israelite King Jehu identified by the Assyrians as from “the land of Omri,” or Khumri. For additional information, see pages 70-72 of "The Story Of Celto-Saxon Israel" book for a discussion of the ‘Cymri’.
Of Sargon II (722-705 B.C.)
In His Palace At Khorsabad
Palace of Sargon, the great King, the powerful King, King of the Legions, King of Assyria, Viceroy of the gods at Babylon, King of the Sumers and of the Akkads, favorite of the great gods…
I besieged and occupied the town of Samaria, and took 27,280 of its inhabitants captive. I took from them 50 chariots, but left them the rest of their belongings. I placed my lieutenants over them; I renewed the obligation imposed upon them by one of the Kings who preceded me…
Jaubid of Hamath, a smith, was not the legitimate master of the throne; he was an infidel and an impious man, and he had coveted the royalty of Hamath. He incited the towns of Arpad, Simyra, Damascus, and Samaria to rise against me, took his precautions with each of them, and prepared for battle. I counted all the troops of the god Ashur; in the town of Karkar, which had declared itself for the rebel, I besieged him and his warriors, I occupied Karkar and reduced it to ashes. I took him, himself, and had him flayed, and I killed the chief of the rioters in each town, and reduced them to a heap of ruins. I recruited my forces with 200 chariots and 600 horsemen from among the inhabitants of the country of Hamath and added them to my empire.” [End of Inscription]
Editor’s note to the Khorsabad inscription: When Sargon II reports the number of captives exiled from the House of Israel, it should be remembered that this was only one of several exiles of God's people between 732 and 676 B.C. In addition, recent scholarship believes that it was Sargon's predecessor, Shalmaneser V, who captured Jerusalem in 722 B.C., and that the exile which Sargon here speaks of was at the time of a smaller rebellion at Samaria in 720 B.C. If so, we have no inscriptions surviving to tell of the number exiled at the time of the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Ephraim-Israel in 722 B.C.
Inscription Of Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.)
In the course of my campaign Beth-Dagon, Joppa, Benebarqua, Azuru, the cities of Tsidqa, which had not quickly thrown themselves at my feet, I besieged, I took, I carried away their spoil. The governors, chiefs, and people of Ekron who had cast Padi, their king according to Assyrian right and oath, into iron chains, and had, in hostile manner, given him to Hezekiah of Judah – he shut him up in prison – feared in their hearts. The kings of Egypt called forth the archers, chariots, and horses of the king of Melukhkhi, a force without number, and came to their help; before the city of Eltekeh they arranged their battle array, appealing to their weapons. With the help of Ashur, my lord, I fought with them and accomplished their defeat. The chief of the chariots of the king of Melukhkhi my hands took alive in the fight. Eltekeh and Temnath I besieged, I took, and carried away their spoil.To the city of Ekron I went; the governors and princes, who had committed a transgression, I killed and bound their corpses on poles around the city. The inhabitants of the city who had committed sin and evil I counted as spoil; to the rest of them who had committed no sin and wrong, who had no guilt, I spoke peace. Padi, their King, I brought forth from the city of Jerusalem; upon the throne of lordship over them I placed him. The tribute of my lordship I laid upon him. But Hezekiah, of Judah, who had not submitted to my yoke, I besieged 46 of his strong cities, fortresses, and small cities of their environs, without number, and by casting down the walls and advancing the engines, by an assault of the light-armed soldiers, by breaches, by striking, and by axes I took them; 200,150 men, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, asses, camels, oxen, and sheep without number I brought out from them, I counted them as spoil. Hezekiah himself I shut up like a caged bird in Jerusalem, his royal city; the walls I fortified against him, and whosoever came out of the gates of the city I turned back. His cities, which I had plundered, I divided from his land and gave them to Mitinti, King of Ashdod, to Padi, King of Ekron, and to Tsil-Bal, King of Gaza, and thus diminished his territory. To the former tribute, paid yearly, I added the tribute of alliance of my lordship, and laid that upon him. Hezekiah himself was overwhelmed by the fear of the brightness of my lordship; the Arabians and his other faith warriors whom, as a defense for Jerusalem, his royal city, he had brought in, fell into fear. With 30 talents of gold and 800 talents of silver, precious stones, gukhli daggassi, large lapis lazuli, couches of ivory, thrones of ivory, ivory, usu wood, boxwood of every kind, a heavy treasure, and his daughters, his women of the palace, the young men and young women, to Nineveh, the city of my lordship, I caused to be brought after me, and he sent his ambassadors to give tribute and to pay homage.”
Editor’s note to Sennacherib's inscription: This Assyrian invasion and exile of the people of Judah took place in 701 B.C., two decades after the exile of the House of Israel. Most people today are not aware that all of the land of Judah, except for the city of Jerusalem, was overrun by the Assyrians and its people exiled. Only a remnant of the House of Judah remained to be exiled for seventy years by the Babylonians a century later. Therefore, a significant number of Israelites of all twelve tribes were exiled by the Assyrians and never returned to Canaan. The became "wanderers among the nations" and Bible prophecy spoke of them growing in number and becoming a company of nations. See the research on this website and the books offered on this important subject.