The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser

"And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria; And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel" 1 Kings 19:15-16

Biblical History

The Northern Kingdom (Israel)

The Northern Kingdom of Israel consisted of 10 of the tribes (excluding Judah and Benjamin). It lasted for about 210 years until it was destroyed by Assyria in 722 BC. Its capital was Samaria. Every king of Israel was evil. In the northern kingdom there were 9 dynasties (family lines of kings) and 19 kings in all. An average of 11 years to a reign. 8 of these kings met death by violence.

The epitaph written over every one of its kings was:

I Kings 15:34 "And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin by which he had made Israel to sin. "
 

It was king Ahab who introduced Baal worship to them.

I Kings 16:30-33 "Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him."

God attempted to save the northern kingdom of Israel by sending them Elijah and Elisha who were his prophets "mouthpieces", they lived during the period from 875-800 BC.

 

Paraphrased Biblical History

Events Surrounding the Time Period of Jehu

Elijah and Elisha

Elijah's ministry was nearing its end and so he anointed the young Elisha to be a prophet in Israel for the Lord. It was at this time that Ahab was king over the northern kingdom of Israel. he time period was around 850 B.C.

Naboth's Vineyard

King Ahab lusted after Naboth's beautiful Vineyard, but Naboth would not sell it for any price. Queen Jezebel rebuked Ahab and took the vineyard by force by having Naboth killed. Ahab was glad that he finally got the great vineyard, and at no cost. Elijah came and told Ahab that God was going to judge him, his house, and Jezebel.

King Ahab Dies

The Syrians begin attacking Israel, so Judah in the south comes to help fight the Syrians. Ahab is scared of Elijah's prophecy and disguises himself as a normal soldier, in the midst of the battle a stray arrow hits him, and later he dies.

Jehoram Becomes King

Ahab's kingdom passes on to their son Jehoram (or Joram), but Jezebel was still the real power behind the throne.

Archaeological Note: It is interesting that at this time the king of Moab rebelled against Jehoram, as the Bible says:

"And Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool. But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel." 2 Kings 3:4-5

This rebellion against Jehoram was also mentioned on the Moabite Stone (also known as the Mesha Stele) which was discovered in 1868 in the ruins of ancient Moab.

Elijah is Taken Up in a Fiery Chariot

Elijah received a word from the Lord, and Elisha came with him on his last journey. They came to the Jordan River, Elijah struck it with his cloak and the waters parted, and both of them walked across on dry land. Elijah asked Elisha if he had any requests before the Lord took him away. Elisha asked to be doubly anointed as a prophet like Elijah so he could continue doing the work for the Lord. Elijah promised him, "if you see
me when I'm taken from you, it will be a sign that God has granted your request." Suddenly a chariot of fire came down and took Elijah up in a whirlwind. Elisha stood staring for some time, then he reached down and picked up Elijah's cloak, turned and headed back. He struck the waters of the Jordan River with the Elijah's cloak and the waters parted again.

The Prophet Elisha

News that Elijah was gone spread quickly even to the palace of Queen Jezebel in Samaria, and she was very happy. She began to rule Israel with an iron fist, severely oppressing the people, even the poor. Elisha helped many including one poor woman by doing a miracle, he asked her to collect all the jars that she could, and the Lord filled every jar with the finest oil in order for her to pay the moneylender. Elisha's fame spread everywhere and especially his generosity and kindness. He did other great miracles: He raised the Shunammites son from the dead, the poisonous pottage was healed, the loaves of bread were multiplied, the axe head was made to float, water for the armies of Israel and Judah, the cleansing of the Syrian leper, and others mentioned below.

Naaman the Syrian General

One day Syrian raiders kidnapped an Israeli girl, she became a servant for the wife of the general of the Syrian army, his name was Naaman. It turned out that one day the servant girl saw the wife weeping, the Israeli girl asked her why, she told her that her husband Naaman was a leper. The Israeli girl said that she knew of a prophet in Israel named Elisha who can heal him of his leprosy. When Naaman heard of this he asked the King of Syria to contact the King of Israel asking him for permission to go to the prophet Elisha to be healed. The King of Syria sent a letter to the King of Israel asking him to cure his general When king Jehoram read the letter, he thought it was a trap, "how can I cure his general of an incurable disease?" Elisha heard about the Kings dilemma and sent his servant to tell the King that the Syrian general will learn that power is with God's prophet. Naaman, the Syrian general, received the word and came to the house of Elisha. Elisha greeted him and heard his request. Elisha told him to go wash seven times in the Jordan River and he will be cured. Naaman considered that foolish and thought the waters in his own country were better than Israel's, and he became outraged and drove away in his chariot. But Naaman's servant said to him, "if Elisha had asked you to do something hard you would have done it, why not do this easy thing that he asks?" So the general came back, went to the Jordan River, stripped down and washed seven times. At once his leprosy was cured. He returned to Elisha's house and confessed that there is no God except the God of Israel.

The King of Syria's Plot to Ambush Jehoram

But the Lord's punishment upon the house of Ahab, and Queen Jezebel was still lingering. The King of Syria devised a plan to ambush Jehoram. A few days later on the road to Samaria Elisha warned the King of Israel about the ambush. The Syrian soldiers lie in wait but Jehoram never comes, they set another trap but Elisha also helps the King escape that trap as well. The King of Syria becomes so outraged that he accuses his own men of treason. They tell him that it is because of Elisha that they are failing. The King of Syria gathers his army to come to the house of Elisha in Dothan, and he surrounds the whole city. Elisha's servant reports to Elisha that the whole Syrian army is here, and Elisha says, "do not fear, there is more on our side than there is on theirs." Elisha asks the Lord to open his servants eyes so that he can see the chariots of fire that are surrounding Elisha's house. As they walk out to meet the army the Syrian soldiers rushed on them and at once they were stricken with blindness. Elisha at that time led them to Samaria, the capital of Israel, and asked the Lord to open their blind eyes. The King of Israel was amazed and was ready to slay them all when Elisha told him to feed them and send them home.

Death by Starvation

For a period of time there was peace between Syria and Israel, but the King of Syria finally lost patience and cut off all the food supply into Samaria and began to was with Israel. The The Israelites fled into the high hill walled fortress of Samaria. The Syrian army came and surrounded the city. After a long siege the Israelites within the gates began to die of starvation to the point that they were eating human flesh. The King of Israel realized that his army was not strong enough to fight against Syria and he and Jezebel his Queen were constantly blaming the God of Israel, and his prophet Elisha for the problems. She finally convinced Jehoram to murder Elisha and to call on Baal for help. At that time Elisha was visiting friends and told them to open the door because the King is sending a soldier to kill him. At that exact moment they opened the door and a soldier came falling in before Elisha. At the last minute the King becomes worried about killing Elisha, and he comes into the house himself. He began accusing God and accusing Elisha about the Syrian siege, saying that it would be better to surrender rather than starve to death. Elijah said to trust in God and that their would be plenty of food by tomorrow, but because the servant of the king did not believe God, Elisha said the servant would hear about the food but would not eat of it.

The Four Lepers

Meanwhile there were four lepers starving within the city, and they came to the conclusion that there was no hope for them in getting any food whatsoever. They decided to go over to the Syrian camp and beg for food, "perhaps they will give us something to eat, for even if they kill us it would be better than staying here and starving to death." So they decide to do it and on their way a miracle happens, God causes their footsteps to sound like the greatest armies of the earth with horses and chariots. The Syrians were so frightened that they quickly ran in terror, leaving everything, even their clothes, weapons and food and even the gold in their tents. When the four lepers arrived they were amazed that no one was there, and food was so plentiful and still warm in the pots. The four lepers ate their fill, and began to feel guilty about everybody starving within the gate of Samaria. They came back to the gate and told the people and yelled "the Syrians are gone, they left their camp, their food, their horses, their tents, they left everything and are gone." The King of Israel heard this and thought it was an ambush, he sent some scouts and found out it was just as they said. The scouts found the camp deserted and when they had caught up to a Syrian soldier they asked him what happened, the soldier said, "we were in our camp and suddenly heard the sound of thousands of horses and chariots, the Hittites from the North, and the Egyptians from the South, all were coming upon us and we ran in fear." The scouts realized it was a miracle, and they remembered Elisha's word "by tomorrow there be food for all." And when the king ordered the city gate to be opened the king's servant who did not believe Elisha was trampled to death, the same servant to whom Elisha had said "you will hear about the food but you will not eat of it."

Hazael King of Syria

During this time Elisha journeyed over 100 miles northeast to Damascus in Syria. King Benhadad was very sick and when he learned that Elisha was in Damascus he asked one of his court officials named Hazael to have Elisha "inquire of the Lord" whether he was going to recover or die. Little did Benhadad realize that Hazael had planned to suffocate him that night in his bed and seize the throne. Later that day he found Elisha, the prophet told Hazael to tell the king that he may recover, but he told Hazael that the king was going to die. Then Elisha looked at Hazael and became very disturbed and broke into tears, Hazael wondered why he wept and Elisha replied:

"Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child. And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The LORD hath shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria." II Kings 8:7-13

Archaeological Note: It is interesting that the Bible mentions Ben-hadad and Hazael of Damascus, Syria. An inscription by Shalmaneser III says "I fought with Ben-hadad. I accomplished his defeat. Hazael, son of a nobody, seized his throne."

Jehu is Anointed King by Elisha

God had done many miracles to show Israel that he is their true God. But King Jehoram and his wife Jezebel continued to worshiped Baal and built temples to Baal throughout Israel. The Syrians began attacking Israel again and Jehoram came to the battle and got wounded. It was at this time that he put his commander Jehu in charge, and returned to Samaria. Jehu also was approached by a young prophet of God, sent by Elisha, the prophet anointed him with oil and said to him "thus says the Lord, I have anointed you to be king over Israel to fight for those who worship me and to fight against those who worship Baal." Jehu took this responsibility very seriously and went to kill Jezebel and her son Jehoram. He asked the army of Israel if they were with him, and they got excited saying "we are with you to a man".

Jehu Comes to Kill Jehoram

Jehoram was in Jezreel when he saw the army approaching, he noticed Jehu driving very swiftly, and thought he is bringing him news of the war. He said to Jehu when he arrived, "are you bring me news of peace?", Jehu replied "how can there be peace in Israel while you and your mother are worshiping Baal?"Jehoram tried to escape but was killed by Jehu.

Jehu Comes to Kill Jezebel

When Jezebel heard the news about her son, and also that Jehu was coming for her next, she looked out the window and noticed Jehu riding swiftly through the gate. At once Jehu cried "who is on the Lord side", the servants inside the palace pushed Jezebel out the window and she died. Elijah's prophecy had come true and Baal worship was removed from Israel. Idols were broken, and heathen temples were destroyed, and made a place to dump refuse.

Jehu Comes to Judah

Next Jehu came and killed Ahaziah, the king of Judah (son-in-law of Ahab) and his brothers, Ahab?s 70 sons, and all friends of Ahab?s house. He destroyed all the temples of Baal and any worshippers and priests.

But king Jehu ?did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, and took no heed to walk in the law of God.? God used a wicked man to destroy wicked people.

2 Kings 10:31 "But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin."

Assyria Conquers Syria

During this time Hazael king of Syria took over Gilead and Bashan of the land of Israel in the east of the Jordan River. Assyria was starting to move westward in their war campaigns and collecting tribute from anyone un-submissive.

Jehu Pays Tribute to Shalmaneser

When Jehu heard that Hazael and Syria had been defeated by Shalmaneser III of Assyria, he immediately came and brought tribute, as seen on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser.

Assyria is the Lord's Instrument

The Lord called for a nation far away, a ruthless nation, a conquering nation, to come and destroy the northern kingdom of Israel and put an end to their idolatry.

Isaiah 10

5 - O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.
6 - I will send him (Assyria) against a hypocritical nation (Israel), and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
7 - Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.
8 - For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?
9 - [Is] not Calno as Carchemish? [is] not Hamath as Arpad? [is] not Samaria as Damascus?
10 - As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria;
11 - Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?

Afterward the Lord Will Destroy Assyria

The Lord also predicted the total destruction of Assyria which would be carried out by Babylon in 612 BC.

Isaiah 10

12 - Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.

Also see Chart of Hebrew Kings and Prophets

 

The Black Obelisk

 


Biblical Archaeology
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