The Assyrian Captivity
Shalmaneser IV and Sargon II
The Northern Kingdom of Israel scoffed at Isaiah’s warnings about Assyrian
invasion as "childish" and Isaiah’s reply was that they would find Assyrian
bondage as monotonous as his warnings.
In 722 B.C. Shalmaneser IV, who had been reigning for about five years, laid
siege to Samaria. Then his successor, Sargon II, finally took the city and laid
claim to the victory. The siege lasted a full 3 years.
According to Assyrian records Sargon carried off 27,290 inhabitants. He took
fifty chariots as "the
portion of his royalty" and
received the same tribute as "the
former king." It
seems clear that Sargon did not make the land desolate nor did he depopulate it.
But he did put an end to its independence and set over it an Assyrian governor.
In 720 we find Samaria, with Arpad, Simyra, and Damascus, joining in the revolt
headed by Hamath.
The captivity seems to have been limited to Samaria and the surrounding region.
In Hezekiah's time (2 Chron 30:11), in Josiah's time (34:9), and even in
Jeremiah's time (Jer 41:5) there were Israelites in the Northern Kingdom who
worshipped the Lord at Jerusalem.
The 27,290 captives taken away by Sargon II, according to Biblical and
historical records, were of the city of Samaria and its vicinity. The areas
south of it remained Jewish, and even in the far north the area of Galilee must
have been considered a Jewish region since it was during Jesus’ day.
The Samaria of Josephus encompassed what was formerly the territory of Ephraim,
but the Cuthaean Samaritans "possessed
only a few towns and villages of this large area" and
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