Fall of Samaria

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The Fall of Samaria (723 BC according to Ussher,[1] or 722-1 BC according to Thiele[2][3][4]) took place in the ninth year of the reign of Hoshea and the sixth year of the reign of Hezekiah. It marked the end of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.


Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom, built by King Omri nearly two hundred years before. Hoshea took the throne of Northern Israel after a nine-year interregnum following the death of Pekah. (The Thiele chronology does not reckon any such interregnum,[5] but Ussher[6] does.) For the first part of his reign, Hoshea sent tribute to Shalmaneser V of Assyria.

But then Hoshea sent messages to Pharaoh So of Egypt, and suspended payment of the tribute. This set the stage, and Shalmaneser prepared for war.


The siege of Samaria lasted for three years, and began with the almost immediate imprisonment of Hoshea by Shalmaneser. When the siege was over, "[i]n the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes."[7]

Shalmaneser then brought in colonies of foreigners, as was common Assyrian policy in conquered lands:[8]
And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them. Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land. Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land. Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.[9]

In this context, one must remember that these "priests" of the Northern Kingdom were not Levites.

This formed the basis for the extreme enmity between Jew and Samaritan that was still apparent in Jesus' day.

Extrabiblical Debate

Some scholars have disputed the notion that Shalmaneser (or, as they suppose, Sargon II) deported all of the people of the Northern Kingdom. They base their contention on a stela attributed to this Sargon, listing 27,290 captives.[2][8]
"I (Sargon) besieged and conquered Samaria, led away as booty 27,290 inhabitants... I installed over (those remaining) an officer of mine and imposed upon them the tribute of the former king".[10]
However, that number might have been an under-report by a later monarch hoping to diminish the accomplishments of Shalmaneser.[8] Furthermore, Mackey[11] in 2001 presented an analysis identifying Sargon as Sennacherib. Later monarchs were known to exaggerate their own importance and even to expropriate the achievements of their predecessors.[3] Thus Shalmaneser's successor would appear to have a double motive for diminishing Shalmaneser's victory to enhance his own stature.

Related References

  1. James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003 (ISBN 0890513600), pghh. 628-32
  2. 2.0 2.1 Leon J. Wood, A Survey of Israel's History, rev. ed. David O'Brien, Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1986 (ISBN 031034770X), pp. 281-284
  3. 3.0 3.1 Larry Pierce, Evidentialism–the Bible and Assyrian chronology TJ 15(1):62–68 April 2001
  4. Vailhé, S. "Entry for Samaria." The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XIII. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
  5. Wood, op. cit., pp. 281-282
  6. Ussher, op. cit., pghh. 611, 615
  7. II_Kings 17:6 (KJV)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Authors unknown, "Were All the People of the Northern Kingdom Deported?", The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy, United Church of God, 2007. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
  9. II_Kings 17:24-29 (KJV)
  10. The NIV Study Bible (1985), Zondervan Press, Pg. 552
  11. Mackey, Damien. Sargon is Sennacherib 2001. Retrieved May 28, 2007.

See also