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King Hoshea (Hebrew, saved, salvation) or possibly A-ú-si-' (Assyrian)[1] (r. 730-721 BC according to Ussher,[2] or r. 732-722 BC according to Thiele[3]) was the nineteenth and last king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The history of the Northern Kingdom ends with Hoshea's presumed death in prison.


Hoshea came to his throne by an act of murder[1][4][5][6][7]—and the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III boasts that he had a hand in the death of Hoshea's predecessor Pekah and the placement of Hoshea on the throne.[1][8] Tiglath-Pileser also says that Hoshea paid him an annual tribute[1] of ten talents of gold and ten thousand talents of silver.[8] This is more than ten times the one-off tribute that King Menahem paid to King "Pul" (presumably Ashur-Dan III). This could be either a revisionist boast by Tiglath-Pileser, a record of a total amount of tribute paid to Tiglath-Pileser over a number of years, or a total valuation of the spoils that Tiglath-Pileser captured in his war against King Pekah.

Ussher states flatly that Hoshea deposed and killed Pekah in the fourth year of King Ahaz of the Southern Kingdom,[2][9] but that his reign did not really begin until eight to nine years later, in the twelfth year of Ahaz.[10] These nine years constituted the Second Interregnum of the Northern Kingdom.[11] Thiele denies that any such interregnum took place.[3]

In any event, Ussher's dates for Tiglath-Pileser bracket the death of Pekah and the eventual pacification of the Northern Kingdom, so that when Hoshea finally does begin to reign, Tiglath-Pileser is still alive and on his throne. Conventional Assyrian chronology also shows Tiglath-Pileser still living and reigning at the time of Thiele's date for Hoshea's accession.

Ussher's and Thiele's dates for Hoshea are only two years apart. Thiele's warrant for placing Hoshea two years earlier than does Ussher is the conventional dating of the Fall of Samaria at 722 or 723 BC. Ussher calculated a date of 721 BC by a strict construction of the Bible's dates.

Domestic Policy and Relations with Judah

The Bible says that Hoshea "did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him."[4][12] Modern commentators suggest that Hoshea's "not-quite-as-evil" policy was one of toleration, rather than wholehearted acceptance, of the worship of the true God. Hoshea did not forbid people to go to the Temple of Jerusalem to worship God, nor compel anyone to worship Jeroboam I's golden calves nor to worship Baal.[13] He even allowed the emissaries of King Hezekiah to come into his kingdom, as they did shortly after Hezekiah's Passover, to destroy the high places in various tribal provinces of his kingdom.[14] But Hoshea did not himself worship God, either.

Relations with Assyria

The Tribute

Tiglath-Pileser III died in 728 BC according to Ussher,[2] or anywhere from 727 to 725 BC according to multiple Assyriologists. The Bible says that Tiglath-Pileser's son and successor Shalmaneser V (or IV as some historians number him) attacked and defeated Hoshea and his army, and Hoshea was forced to pay an annual tribute—to Shalmaneser, not to Tiglath-Pileser.[6][7][15][16]

Conspiracy against Assyria

In or shortly before the sixth year of his reign, Hoshea did a foolish thing: he tried to contract a secret military alliance with a Pharaoh of Egypt called So in the Bible, and abruptly suspended the annual tribute.[1][5][6][11][13][16] For that, Shalmaneser had Hoshea arrested and thrown into prison—where, presumably, he died.[1][5][6][7][16][17]

The identity of So is a matter of continuing scholarly controversy. The most likely candidate today, in light of the recent research by Egyptologist David Down, is Sheshonq I, the Libyan.[18] (Ironically, Sheshonq I was originally identified as Shishak, the Pharaoh who exacted tribute from Rehoboam.)

The prophet Isaiah specifically warned[19] against this alliance, but obviously Hoshea did not heed this warning.

Fall of Samaria

Main Article: Fall of Samaria

Shalmaneser, his patience exhausted, marched against Samaria in the seventh year of Hoshea's reign and captured it in his ninth year. The author of the Books of the Kings specifically synchronizes this period with the fourth through sixth years of Hezekiah's reign.[4][6][7][11][13][16][20][21]


At least one modern Bible commentator[14] has compared and contrasted the reigns, policies, and results of Hoshea and Hezekiah, to show that those who trust in the might of man will not stand, while those who trust in God will stand.

All instances of Hoshea in the Bible

in the Bible Hoshea refers to five different persons:

  • 1. Joshua, the son of Nun, after his original name. (Num. 13:8, 16; Deut. 32:44)
  • 2. The son of Azaziah, and ruler of Ephraim in David's time. (1 Chr. 27:20)
  • 3. The nineteenth and last king of Israel. (Isa. 7:16)
  • 4. One of the heads of the people who sealed the covenant with Nehemiah. (Neh. 10:23) (B.C. 410.)[22]

The exact dates are not provided by the text are usually considered approximate.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Hoshea." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 4 June 2007
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003 (ISBN 0890513600), pghh. 611, 615, 616, 629-634
  3. 3.0 3.1 Leon J. Wood, A Survey of Israel's History, rev. ed. David O'Brien, Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1986 (ISBN 031034770X), pp. 281-282
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Authors unknown. "King Hoshea - Biography." The Kings of Israel, hosted at http://www.geocities.com/ Retrieved June 4, 2007.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Caldecott, W. Shaw. "Hoshea." International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia. Edited by James Orr. Blue Letter Bible. 1913. 5 May 2003. 4 Jun 2007.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Authors unknown. "Hoshea." AllAboutGod.com. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 George Konig, Hoshea, King of Israel, AboutBibleProphecy.com, 2007. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
  8. 8.0 8.1 John Argubright. "King Hoshea." Bible Believer's Archaeology, Vol. 1: Historical Evidence That Proves the Bible. BibleHistory.net, 2007. Retrieved June 4, 2007. Requires PDF reader.
  9. II_Kings 15:30 (NASB)
  10. II_Kings 17:1 (NASB)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Authors unknown. "Entry for Hoshea." WebBible Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
  12. II_Kings 17:2 (KJV)
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Authors unknown. "II Kings, Chapter 17." Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Calvin College, 2005. Retrieved June 1, 2007.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Authors unknown. "The Reigns Of Hezekiah Of Judah and Hoshea Of Israel And Their Relationship To God’s Eternal Purpose." Bellevue Church of Christ. Retrieved May 30, 2007. (Requires PDF reader)
  15. II_Kings 17:3 (NASB)
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Authors unknown. "Entry for Hoshea." Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
  17. II_Kings 18:4 (NASB)
  18. Velikovsky, Immanuel. "Pharaon So." The Assyrian Conquest. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
  19. Isaiah 31:1,3 (NASB)
  20. II_Kings 17:5-6 (NASB)
  21. II_Kings 18:9-10 (NASB)
  22. Smith's Bible Dictionary by Dr. William Smith (1884); http://www.bible-history.com/smiths/H/Hoshea

See also