Jezreel, Blood of
the murder perpetrated here by Ahab and Jehu (Hos. 1:4; comp. 1
Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 9:6-10).
=Jeho'ram. (1.) One of the kings of Israel (2 Kings 8:16, 25,
28). He was the son of Ahab.
(2.) Jehoram, the son and successor of Jehoshaphat on the
throne of Judah (2 Kings 8:24).
with Baal, a king of Sidon (B.C. 940-908), father of Jezebel,
who was the wife of Ahab (1 Kings 16:31). He is said to have
been also a priest of Astarte, whose worship was closely allied
to that of Baal, and this may account for his daughter's zeal in
promoting idolatry in Israel. This marriage of Ahab was most
fatal to both Israel and Judah. Dido, the founder of Carthage,
was his granddaughter.
fruits, "the Jezreelite," was the owner of a portion of ground
on the eastern slope of the hill of Jezreel (2 Kings 9:25, 26).
This small "plat of ground" seems to have been all he possessed.
It was a vineyard, and lay "hard by the palace of Ahab" (1 Kings
21:1, 2), who greatly coveted it. Naboth, however, refused on
any terms to part with it to the king. He had inherited it from
his fathers, and no Israelite could lawfully sell his property
(Lev. 25:23). Jezebel, Ahab's wife, was grievously offended at
Naboth's refusal to part with his vineyard. By a crafty and
cruel plot she compassed his death. His sons also shared his
fate (2 Kings 9:26; 1 Kings 21:19). She then came to Ahab and
said, "Arise, take possession of the vineyard; for Naboth is not
alive, but dead." Ahab arose and went forth into the garden
which had so treacherously and cruelly been acquired, seemingly
enjoying his new possession, when, lo, Elijah suddenly appeared
before him and pronounced against him a fearful doom (1 Kings
21:17-24). Jehu and Bidcar were with Ahab at this time, and so
deeply were the words of Elijah imprinted on Jehu's memory that
many years afterwards he refers to them (2 Kings 9:26), and he
was the chief instrument in inflicting this sentence on Ahab and
Jezebel and all their house (9:30-37). The house of Ahab was
extinguished by him. Not one of all his great men and his
kinsfolk and his priests did Jehu spare (10:11).
Ahab humbled himself at Elijah's words (1 Kings 21:28, 29),
and therefore the prophecy was fulfilled not in his fate but in
that of his son Joram (2 Kings 9:25).
The history of Naboth, compared with that of Ahab and Jezebel,
furnishes a remarkable illustration of the law of a retributive
providence, a law which runs through all history (comp. Ps.
father's brother. (1.) The son of Omri, whom he succeeded as the
seventh king of Israel. His history is recorded in 1 Kings
16-22. His wife was Jezebel (q.v.), who exercised a very evil
influence over him. To the calf-worship introduced by Jeroboam
he added the worship of Baal. He was severely admonished by
Elijah (q.v.) for his wickedness. His anger was on this account
kindled against the prophet, and he sought to kill him. He
undertook three campaigns against Ben-hadad II., king of
Damascus. In the first two, which were defensive, he gained a
complete victory over Ben-hadad, who fell into his hands, and
was afterwards released on the condition of his restoring all
the cities of Israel he then held, and granting certain other
concessions to Ahab. After three years of peace, for some cause
Ahab renewed war (1 Kings 22:3) with Ben-hadad by assaulting the
city of Ramoth-gilead, although the prophet Micaiah warned him
that he would not succeed, and that the 400 false prophets who
encouraged him were only leading him to his ruin. Micaiah was
imprisoned for thus venturing to dissuade Ahab from his purpose.
Ahab went into the battle disguised, that he might if possible
escape the notice of his enemies; but an arrow from a bow "drawn
at a venture" pierced him, and though stayed up in his chariot
for a time he died towards evening, and Elijah's prophecy (1
Kings 21:19) was fulfilled. He reigned twenty-three years.
Because of his idolatry, lust, and covetousness, Ahab is
referred to as pre-eminently the type of a wicked king (2 Kings
8:18; 2 Chr. 22:3; Micah 6:16).
(2.) A false prophet referred to by Jeremiah (Jer. 29:21), of
whom nothing further is known.
whom God afflicts. (1.) The daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, and
the wife of Jehoram, king of Judah (2 Kings 8:18), who "walked
in the ways of the house of Ahab" (2 Chr. 21:6), called
"daughter" of Omri (2 Kings 8:26). On the death of her husband
and of her son Ahaziah, she resolved to seat herself on the
vacant throne. She slew all Ahaziah's children except Joash, the
youngest (2 Kings 11:1,2). After a reign of six years she was
put to death in an insurrection (2 Kings 11:20; 2 Chr. 21:6;
22:10-12; 23:15), stirred up among the people in connection with
Josiah's being crowned as king.
(2.) Ezra 8:7. (3.) 1 Chr. 8:26.
who is like Jehovah?, the son of Imlah, a faithful prophet of
Samaria (1 Kings 22:8-28). Three years after the great battle
with Ben-hadad (20:29-34), Ahab proposed to Jehoshaphat, king of
Judah, that they should go up against Ramoth-Gilead to do battle
again with Ben-hadad. Jehoshaphat agreed, but suggested that
inquiry should be first made "at the word of Jehovah." Ahab's
prophets approved of the expedition; but Jehoshaphat, still
dissatisfied, asked if there was no other prophet besides the
four hundred that had appeared, and was informed of this
Micaiah. He was sent for from prison, where he had been
confined, probably on account of some prediction disagreeable to
Ahab; and he condemned the expedition, and prophesied that it
would end, as it did, in disaster. We hear nothing further of
this prophet. Some have supposed that he was the unnamed prophet
referred to in 1 Kings 20:35-42.
God scatters. (1.) A town of Issachar (Josh. 19:18), where the
kings of Israel often resided (1 Kings 18:45; 21:1; 2 Kings
9:30). Here Elijah met Ahab, Jehu, and Bidkar; and here Jehu
executed his dreadful commission against the house of Ahab (2
Kings 9:14-37; 10:1-11). It has been identified with the modern
Zerin, on the most western point of the range of Gilboa,
reaching down into the great and fertile valley of Jezreel, to
which it gave its name.
(2.) A town in Judah (Josh. 15:56), to the south-east of
Hebron. Ahinoam, one of David's wives, probably belonged to this
place (1 Sam. 27:3).
(3.) A symbolical name given by Hosea to his oldest son (Hos.
1:4), in token of a great slaughter predicted by him, like that
which had formerly taken place in the plain of Esdraelon (comp.
Hos. 1:4, 5).
servant of the Lord. (1.) An Israelite who was chief in the
household of King Ahab (1 Kings 18:3). Amid great spiritual
degeneracy he maintained his fidelity to God, and interposed to
protect The Lord's prophets, an hundred of whom he hid at great
personal risk in a cave (4, 13). Ahab seems to have held Obadiah
in great honour, although he had no sympathy with his piety (5,
6, 7). The last notice of him is his bringing back tidings to
Ahab that Elijah, whom he had so long sought for, was at hand
(9-16). "Go," said Elijah to him, when he met him in the way,
"go tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here."
(2.) A chief of the tribe of Issachar (1 Chr. 7:3).
(3.) A descendant of Saul (1 Chr. 8:38).
(4.) A Levite, after the Captivity (1 Chr. 9:16).
(5.) A Gadite who joined David at Ziklag (1 Chr. 12:9).
(6.) A prince of Zebulun in the time of David (1 Chr. 27:19).
(7.) One of the princes sent by Jehoshaphat to instruct the
people in the law (2 Chr. 17:7).
(8.) A Levite who superintended the repairs of the temple
under Josiah (2 Chr. 34:12).
(9.) One who accompanied Ezra on the return from Babylon (Ezra
(10.) A prophet, fourth of the minor prophets in the Hebrew
canon, and fifth in the LXX. He was probably contemporary with
Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Of his personal history nothing is known.
a cutting; separation; a gorge, a torrent-bed or winter-stream,
a "brook," in whose banks the prophet Elijah hid himself during
the early part of the three years' drought (1 Kings 17:3, 5). It
has by some been identified as the Wady el-Kelt behind Jericho,
which is formed by the junction of many streams flowing from the
mountains west of Jericho. It is dry in summer. Travellers have
described it as one of the wildest ravines of this wild region,
and peculiarly fitted to afford a secure asylum to the
persecuted. But if the prophet's interview with Ahab was in
Samaria, and he thence journeyed toward the east, it is probable
that he crossed Jordan and found refuge in some of the ravines
of Gilead. The "brook" is said to have been "before Jordan,"
which probably means that it opened toward that river, into
which it flowed. This description would apply to the east as
well as to the west of Jordan. Thus Elijah's hiding-place may
have been the Jermuk, in the territory of the half-tribe of
mentioned among the extraordinary phenomena of Israel (Ps.
18:7; comp. Hab. 3:6; Nah. 1:5; Isa. 5:25).
The first earthquake in Israel of which we have any record
happened in the reign of Ahab (1 Kings 19:11, 12). Another took
place in the days of Uzziah, King of Judah (Zech. 14:5). The
most memorable earthquake taking place in New Testament times
happened at the crucifixion of our Lord (Matt. 27:54). An
earthquake at Philippi shook the prison in which Paul and Silas
were imprisoned (Act 16:26).
It is used figuratively as a token of the presence of the Lord
(Judg. 5:4; 2 Sam. 22:8; Ps. 77:18; 97:4; 104:32).
heights of Gilead, a city of refuge on the east of Jordan;
called "Ramoth in Gilead" (Deut. 4:43; Josh. 20:8; 21:38). Here
Ahab, who joined Jehoshaphat in an endeavour to rescue it from
the hands of the king of Syria, was mortally wounded (1 Kings
22:1-36). A similar attempt was afterwards made by Ahaziah and
Joram, when the latter was wounded (2 Kings 8:28). In this city
Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, was anointed by one of the sons of
the prophets (9:1, 4).
It has with probability been identified with Reimun, on the
northern slope of the Jabbok, about 5 miles west of Jerash or
Gerasa, one of the cities of Decapolis. Others identify it with
Gerosh, about 25 miles north-east of es-Salt, with which also
many have identified it. (See RAMATH-MIZPEH ¯T0003066.)
Jehovah-exalted. (1.) Son of Toi, king of Hamath, sent by his
father to congratulate David on the occasion of his victory over
Hadadezer (2 Sam. 8:10).
(2.) A Levite of the family of Gershom (1 Chr. 26:25).
(3.) A priest sent by Jehoshaphat to instructruct the people
in Judah (2 Chr. 17:8).
(4.) The son of Ahab and Jezebel, and successor to his brother
Ahaziah on the throne of Israel. He reigned twelve years, B.C.
896-884 (2 Kings 1:17; 3:1). His first work was to reduce to
subjection the Moabites, who had asserted their independence in
the reign of his brother. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, assisted
Jehoram in this effort. He was further helped by his ally the
king of Edom. Elisha went forth with the confederated army (2
Kings 3:1-19), and at the solicitation of Jehoshaphat encouraged
the army with the assurance from the Lord of a speedy victory.
The Moabites under Mesha their king were utterly routed and
their cities destroyed. At Kir-haraseth Mesha made a final
stand. The Israelites refrained from pressing their victory
further, and returned to their own land.
Elisha afterwards again befriended Jehoram when a war broke
out between the Syrians and Israel, and in a remarkable way
brought that war to a bloodless close (2 Kings 6:23). But
Jehoram, becoming confident in his own power, sank into
idolatry, and brought upon himself and his land another Syrian
invasion, which led to great suffering and distress in Samaria
(2 Kings 6:24-33). By a remarkable providential interposition
the city was saved from utter destruction, and the Syrians were
put to flight (2 Kings 7:6-15).
Jehoram was wounded in a battle with the Syrians at Ramah, and
obliged to return to Jezreel (2 Kings 8:29; 9:14, 15), and soon
after the army proclaimed their leader Jehu king of Israel, and
revolted from their allegiance to Jehoram (2 Kings 9). Jehoram
was pierced by an arrow from Jehu's bow on the piece of ground
at Jezreel which Ahab had taken from Naboth, and there he died
(2 Kings 9:21-29).
(5.) The eldest son and successor of Jehoshaphat, king of
Judah. He reigned eight years (B.C. 892-885) alone as king of
Judah, having been previously for some years associated with his
father (2 Chr. 21:5, 20; 2 Kings 8:16). His wife was Athaliah,
the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. His daughter Jehosheba was
married to the high priest Jehoiada. He sank into gross
idolatry, and brought upon himself and his kingdom the anger of
Jehovah. The Edomites revolted from under his yoke, and the
Philistines and the Arabians and Cushites invaded the land, and
carried away great spoil, along with Jehoram's wives and all his
children, except Ahaziah. He died a painful death from a fearful
malady, and was refused a place in the sepulchre of the kings (2
Kings 8:16-24; 2 Chr. 21).
held by Jehovah. (1.) The son and successor of Ahab. He followed
the counsels of his mother Jezebel, and imitated in wickedness
the ways of his father. In his reign the Moabites revolted from
under his authority (2 Kings 3:5-7). He united with Jehoshaphat
in an attempt to revive maritime trade by the Red Sea, which
proved a failure (2 Chr. 20:35-37). His messengers, sent to
consult the god of Ekron regarding his recovery from the effects
of a fall from the roof-gallery of his palace, were met on the
way by Elijah, who sent them back to tell the king that he would
never rise from his bed (1 Kings 22:51; 2 Kings 1:18).
(2.) The son of Joram, or Jehoram, and sixth king of Judah.
Called Jehoahaz (2 Chr. 21:17; 25:23), and Azariah (2 Chr.
22:6). Guided by his idolatrous mother Athaliah, his reign was
disastrous (2 Kings 8:24-29; 9:29). He joined his uncle Jehoram,
king of Israel, in an expedition against Hazael, king of
Damascus; but was wounded at the pass of Gur when attempting to
escape, and had strength only to reach Megiddo, where he died (2
Kings 9:22-28). He reigned only one year.
builder. (1.) The governor of Samaria in the time of Ahab. The
prophet Micaiah was committed to his custody (1 Kings 22:26; 2
(2.) The son of Manasseh, and fourteenth king of Judah. He
restored idolatry, and set up the images which his father had
cast down. Zephaniah (1:4; 3:4, 11) refers to the moral
depravity prevailing in this king's reign.
He was assassinated (2 Kings 21:18-26: 2 Chr. 33:20-25) by his
own servants, who conspired against him.
(3.) An Egyptian god, usually depicted with a human body and
the head of a ram, referred to in Jer. 46:25, where the word
"multitudes" in the Authorized Version is more appropriately
rendered "Amon" in the Revised Version. In Nah. 3:8 the
expression "populous No" of the Authorized version is rendered
in the Revised Version "No-amon." Amon is identified with Ra,
the sun-god of Heliopolis.
(4.) Neh. 7:59.
built fortress, a city and fortress of Moab, the modern Kerak, a
small town on the brow of a steep hill about 6 miles from
Rabbath-Moab and 10 miles from the Dead Sea; called also
Kir-haresh, Kir-hareseth, Kir-heres (Isa. 16:7, 11; Jer. 48:31,
36). After the death of Ahab, Mesha, king of Moab (see MOABITE
STONE ¯T0002586), threw off allegiance to the king of Israel,
and fought successfully for the independence of his kingdom.
After this Jehoram, king of Israel, in seeking to regain his
supremacy over Moab, entered into an alliance with Jehoshaphat,
king of Judah, and with the king of Edom. The three kings led
their armies against Mesha, who was driven back to seek refuge
in Kir-haraseth. The Moabites were driven to despair. Mesha then
took his eldest son, who would have reigned in his stead, and
offered him as a burnt-offering on the wall of the fortress in
the sight of the allied armies. "There was great indignation
against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to
their own land." The invaders evacuated the land of Moab, and
Mesha achieved the independence of his country (2 Kings
middle district, Vulgate, Messa. (1.) A plain in that part of
the boundaries of Arabia inhabited by the descendants of Joktan
(2.) Heb. meysh'a, "deliverance," the eldest son of Caleb (1
Chr. 2:42), and brother of Jerahmeel.
(3.) Heb. id, a king of Moab, the son of Chemosh-Gad, a man of
great wealth in flocks and herds (2 Kings 3:4). After the death
of Ahab at Ramoth-Gilead, Mesha shook off the yoke of Israel;
but on the ascension of Jehoram to the throne of Israel, that
king sought the help of Jehoshaphat in an attempt to reduce the
Moabites again to their former condition. The united armies of
the two kings came unexpectedly on the army of the Moabites, and
gained over them an easy victory. The whole land was devastated
by the conquering armies, and Mesha sought refuge in his last
stronghold, Kir-harasheth (q.v.). Reduced to despair, he
ascended the wall of the city, and there, in the sight of the
allied armies, offered his first-born son a sacrifice to
Chemosh, the fire-god of the Moabites. This fearful spectacle
filled the beholders with horror, and they retired from before
the besieged city, and recrossed the Jordan laden with spoil (2
The exploits of Mesha are recorded in the Phoenician
inscription on a block of black basalt found at Dibon, in Moab,
usually called the "Moabite stone" (q.v.).
a basalt stone, bearing an inscription by King Mesha, which was
discovered at Dibon by Klein, a German missionary at Jerusalem,
in 1868. It was 3 1/2 feet high and 2 in breadth and in
thickness, rounded at the top. It consisted of thirty-four
lines, written in Hebrew-Phoenician characters. It was set up by
Mesha as a record and memorial of his victories. It records (1)
Mesha's wars with Omri, (2) his public buildings, and (3) his
wars against Horonaim. This inscription in a remarkable degree
supplements and corroborates the history of King Mesha recorded
in 2 Kings 3:4-27.
With the exception of a very few variations, the Moabite
language in which the inscription is written is identical with
the Hebrew. The form of the letters here used supplies very
important and interesting information regarding the history of
the formation of the alphabet, as well as, incidentally,
regarding the arts of civilized life of those times in the land
This ancient monument, recording the heroic struggles of King
Mesha with Omri and Ahab, was erected about B.C. 900. Here "we
have the identical slab on which the workmen of the old world
carved the history of their own times, and from which the eye of
their contemporaries read thousands of years ago the record of
events of which they themselves had been the witnesses." It is
the oldest inscription written in alphabetic characters, and
hence is, apart from its value in the domain of Hebrew
antiquities, of great linguistic importance.
The first great persecution for religious opinion of which we
have any record was that which broke out against the worshippers
of God among the Jews in the days of Ahab, when that king, at
the instigation of his wife Jezebel, "a woman in whom, with the
reckless and licentious habits of an Oriental queen, were united
the fiercest and sternest qualities inherent in the old Semitic
race", sought in the most relentless manner to extirpate the
worship of Jehovah and substitute in its place the worship of
Ashtoreth and Baal. Ahab's example in this respect was followed
by Manasseh, who "shed innocent blood very much, till he had
filled Jerusalem from one end to another" (2 Kings 21:16; comp.
24:4). In all ages, in one form or another, the people of God
have had to suffer persecution. In its earliest history the
Christian church passed through many bloody persecutions. Of
subsequent centuries in our own and in other lands the same sad
record may be made.
Christians are forbidden to seek the propagation of the gospel
by force (Matt. 7:1; Luke 9:54-56; Rom. 14:4; James 4:11, 12).
The words of Ps. 7:13, "He ordaineth his arrows against the
persecutors," ought rather to be, as in the Revised Version, "He
maketh his arrows fiery [shafts]."
God his salvation, the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, who
became the attendant and disciple of Elijah (1 Kings 19:16-19).
His name first occurs in the command given to Elijah to anoint
him as his successor (1 Kings 19:16). This was the only one of
the three commands then given to Elijah which he accomplished.
On his way from Sinai to Damascus he found Elisha at his native
place engaged in the labours of the field, ploughing with twelve
yoke of oxen. He went over to him, threw over his shoulders his
rough mantle, and at once adopted him as a son, and invested him
with the prophetical office (comp. Luke 9:61, 62). Elisha
accepted the call thus given (about four years before the death
of Ahab), and for some seven or eight years became the close
attendant on Elijah till he was parted from him and taken up
into heaven. During all these years we hear nothing of Elisha
except in connection with the closing scenes of Elijah's life.
After Elijah, Elisha was accepted as the leader of the sons of
the prophets, and became noted in Israel. He possessed,
according to his own request, "a double portion" of Elijah's
spirit (2 Kings 2:9); and for the long period of about sixty
years (B.C. 892-832) held the office of "prophet in Israel" (2
After Elijah's departure, Elisha returned to Jericho, and
there healed the spring of water by casting salt into it (2
Kings 2:21). We next find him at Bethel (2:23), where, with the
sternness of his master, he cursed the youths who came out and
scoffed at him as a prophet of God: "Go up, thou bald head." The
judgment at once took effect, and God terribly visited the
dishonour done to his prophet as dishonour done to himself. We
next read of his predicting a fall of rain when the army of
Jehoram was faint from thirst (2 Kings 3:9-20); of the
multiplying of the poor widow's cruse of oil (4:1-7); the
miracle of restoring to life the son of the woman of Shunem
(4:18-37); the multiplication of the twenty loaves of new barley
into a sufficient supply for an hundred men (4:42-44); of the
cure of Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy (5:1-27); of the
punishment of Gehazi for his falsehood and his covetousness; of
the recovery of the axe lost in the waters of the Jordan
(6:1-7); of the miracle at Dothan, half-way on the road between
Samaria and Jezreel; of the siege of Samaria by the king of
Syria, and of the terrible sufferings of the people in
connection with it, and Elisha's prophecy as to the relief that
would come (2 Kings 6:24-7:2).
We then find Elisha at Damascus, to carry out the command
given to his master to anoint Hazael king over Syria (2 Kings
8:7-15); thereafter he directs one of the sons of the prophets
to anoint Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Israel, instead
of Ahab. Thus the three commands given to Elijah (9:1-10) were
at length carried out.
We do not again read of him till we find him on his death-bed
in his own house (2 Kings 13:14-19). Joash, the grandson of
Jehu, comes to mourn over his approaching departure, and utters
the same words as those of Elisha when Elijah was taken away:
"My father, my father! the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen
Afterwards when a dead body is laid in Elisha's grave a year
after his burial, no sooner does it touch the hallowed remains
than the man "revived, and stood up on his feet" (2 Kings
a watch-mountain or a watch-tower. In the heart of the mountains
of Israel, a few miles north-west of Shechem, stands the "hill
of Shomeron," a solitary mountain, a great "mamelon." It is an
oblong hill, with steep but not inaccessible sides, and a long
flat top. Omri, the king of Israel, purchased this hill from
Shemer its owner for two talents of silver, and built on its
broad summit the city to which he gave the name of "Shomeron",
i.e., Samaria, as the new capital of his kingdom instead of
Tirzah (1 Kings 16:24). As such it possessed many advantages.
Here Omri resided during the last six years of his reign. As the
result of an unsuccessful war with Syria, he appears to have
been obliged to grant to the Syrians the right to "make streets
in Samaria", i.e., probably permission to the Syrian merchants
to carry on their trade in the Israelite capital. This would
imply the existence of a considerable Syrian population. "It was
the only great city of Israel created by the sovereign. All
the others had been already consecrated by patriarchal tradition
or previous possession. But Samaria was the choice of Omri
alone. He, indeed, gave to the city which he had built the name
of its former owner, but its especial connection with himself as
its founder is proved by the designation which it seems Samaria
bears in Assyrian inscriptions, Beth-khumri ('the house or
palace of Omri').", Stanley.
Samaria was frequently besieged. In the days of Ahab, Benhadad
II. came up against it with thirty-two vassal kings, but was
defeated with a great slaughter (1 Kings 20:1-21). A second
time, next year, he assailed it; but was again utterly routed,
and was compelled to surrender to Ahab (20:28-34), whose army,
as compared with that of Benhadad, was no more than "two little
flocks of kids."
In the days of Jehoram this Benhadad again laid siege to
Samaria, during which the city was reduced to the direst
extremities. But just when success seemed to be within their
reach, they suddenly broke up the seige, alarmed by a mysterious
noise of chariots and horses and a great army, and fled, leaving
their camp with all its contents behind them. The famishing
inhabitants of the city were soon relieved with the abundance of
the spoil of the Syrian camp; and it came to pass, according to
the word of Elisha, that "a measure of fine flour was sold for a
shekel, and two measures of barely for a shekel, in the gates of
Samaria" (2 Kings 7:1-20).
Shalmaneser invaded Israel in the days of Hoshea, and reduced
it to vassalage. He laid siege to Samaria (B.C. 723), which held
out for three years, and was at length captured by Sargon, who
completed the conquest Shalmaneser had begun (2 Kings 18:9-12;
17:3), and removed vast numbers of the tribes into captivity.
(See SARGON ¯T0003227.)
This city, after passing through various vicissitudes, was
given by the emperor Augustus to Herod the Great, who rebuilt
it, and called it Sebaste (Gr. form of Augustus) in honour of
the emperor. In the New Testament the only mention of it is in
Acts 8:5-14, where it is recorded that Philip went down to the
city of Samaria and preached there.
It is now represented by the hamlet of Sebustieh, containing
about three hundred inhabitants. The ruins of the ancient town
are all scattered over the hill, down the sides of which they
have rolled. The shafts of about one hundred of what must have
been grand Corinthian columns are still standing, and attract
much attention, although nothing definite is known regarding
them. (Comp. Micah 1:6.)
In the time of Christ, Western Israel was divided into
three provinces, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. Samaria occupied
the centre of Israel (John 4:4). It is called in the Talmud
the "land of the Cuthim," and is not regarded as a part of the
Holy Land at all.
It may be noticed that the distance between Samaria and
Jerusalem, the respective capitals of the two kingdoms, is only
35 miles in a direct line.
lord. (1.) The name appropriated to the principal male god of
the Phoenicians. It is found in several places in the plural
BAALIM (Judg. 2:11; 10:10; 1 Kings 18:18; Jer. 2:23; Hos. 2:17).
Baal is identified with Molech (Jer. 19:5). It was known to the
Israelites as Baal-peor (Num. 25:3; Deut. 4:3), was worshipped
till the time of Samuel (1 Sam 7:4), and was afterwards the
religion of the ten tribes in the time of Ahab (1 Kings
16:31-33; 18:19, 22). It prevailed also for a time in the
kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 8:27; comp. 11:18; 16:3; 2 Chr. 28:2),
till finally put an end to by the severe discipline of the
Captivity (Zeph. 1:4-6). The priests of Baal were in great
numbers (1 Kings 18:19), and of various classes (2 Kings 10:19).
Their mode of offering sacrifices is described in 1 Kings
18:25-29. The sun-god, under the general title of Baal, or
"lord," was the chief object of worship of the Canaanites. Each
locality had its special Baal, and the various local Baals were
summed up under the name of Baalim, or "lords." Each Baal had a
wife, who was a colourless reflection of himself.
(2.) A Benjamite, son of Jehiel, the progenitor of the
Gibeonites (1 Chr. 8:30; 9:36).
(3.) The name of a place inhabited by the Simeonites, the same
probably as Baal-ath-beer (1 Chr. 4:33; Josh. 19:8).
whose God is Jehovah. (1.) "The Tishbite," the "Elias" of the
New Testament, is suddenly introduced to our notice in 1 Kings
17:1 as delivering a message from the Lord to Ahab. There is
mention made of a town called Thisbe, south of Kadesh, but it is
impossible to say whether this was the place referred to in the
name given to the prophet.
Having delivered his message to Ahab, he retired at the
command of God to a hiding-place by the brook Cherith, beyond
Jordan, where he was fed by ravens. When the brook dried up God
sent him to the widow of Zarephath, a city of Zidon, from whose
scanty store he was supported for the space of two years. During
this period the widow's son died, and was restored to life by
Elijah (1 Kings 17: 2-24).
During all these two years a famine prevailed in the land. At
the close of this period of retirement and of preparation for
his work (comp. Gal. 1:17, 18) Elijah met Obadiah, one of Ahab's
officers, whom he had sent out to seek for pasturage for the
cattle, and bade him go and tell his master that Elijah was
there. The king came and met Elijah, and reproached him as the
troubler of Israel. It was then proposed that sacrifices should
be publicly offered, for the purpose of determining whether Baal
or Jehovah were the true God. This was done on Carmel, with the
result that the people fell on their faces, crying, "The Lord,
he is the God." Thus was accomplished the great work of Elijah's
ministry. The prophets of Baal were then put to death by the
order of Elijah. Not one of them escaped. Then immediately
followed rain, according to the word of Elijah, and in answer to
his prayer (James 5:18).
Jezebel, enraged at the fate that had befallen her priests of
Baal, threatened to put Elijah to death (1 Kings 19:1-13). He
therefore fled in alarm to Beersheba, and thence went alone a
day's journey into the wilderness, and sat down in despondency
under a juniper tree. As he slept an angel touched him, and said
unto him, "Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for
thee." He arose and found a cake and a cruse of water. Having
partaken of the provision thus miraculously supplied, he went
forward on his solitary way for forty days and forty nights to
Horeb, the mount of God, where he took up his abode in a cave.
Here the Lord appeared unto him and said, "What dost thou here,
Elijah?" In answer to his despondent words God manifests to him
his glory, and then directs him to return to Damascus and anoint
Hazael king over Syria, and Jehu king over Israel, and Elisha to
be prophet in his room (1 Kings 19:13-21; comp. 2 Kings 8:7-15;
Some six years after this he warned Ahab and Jezebel of the
violent deaths they would die (1 Kings 21:19-24; 22:38). He
also, four years afterwards, warned Ahaziah (q.v.), who had
succeeded his father Ahab, of his approaching death (2 Kings
1:1-16). (See NABOTH ¯T0002645.) During these intervals he
probably withdrew to some quiet retirement, no one knew where.
His interview with Ahaziah's messengers on the way to Ekron, and
the account of the destruction of his captains with their
fifties, suggest the idea that he may have been in retirement at
this time on Mount Carmel.
The time now drew near when he was to be taken up into heaven
(2 Kings 2:1-12). He had a presentiment of what was awaiting
him. He went down to Gilgal, where was a school of the prophets,
and where his successor Elisha, whom he had anointed some years
before, resided. Elisha was solemnized by the thought of his
master's leaving him, and refused to be parted from him. "They
two went on," and came to Bethel and Jericho, and crossed the
Jordan, the waters of which were "divided hither and thither"
when smitten with Elijah's mantle. Arrived at the borders of
Gilead, which Elijah had left many years before, it "came to
pass as they still went on and talked" they were suddenly
separated by a chariot and horses of fire; and "Elijah went up
by a whirlwind into heaven, "Elisha receiving his mantle, which
fell from him as he ascended.
No one of the old prophets is so frequently referred to in the
New Testament. The priests and Levites said to the Baptist (John
1:25), "Why baptizest thou, if thou be not that Christ, nor
Elias?" Paul (Rom. 11:2) refers to an incident in his history to
illustrate his argument that God had not cast away his people.
James (5:17) finds in him an illustration of the power of
prayer. (See also Luke 4:25; 9:54.) He was a type of John the
Baptist in the sternness and power of his reproofs (Luke 9:8).
He was the Elijah that "must first come" (Matt. 11:11, 14), the
forerunner of our Lord announced by Malachi. Even outwardly the
Baptist corresponded so closely to the earlier prophet that he
might be styled a second Elijah. In him we see "the same
connection with a wild and wilderness country; the same long
retirement in the desert; the same sudden, startling entrance on
his work (1 Kings 17:1; Luke 3:2); even the same dress, a hairy
garment, and a leathern girdle about the loins (2 Kings 1:8;
How deep the impression was which Elijah made "on the mind of
the nation may be judged from the fixed belief, which rested on
the words of Malachi (4:5, 6), which many centuries after
prevailed that he would again appear for the relief and
restoration of the country. Each remarkable person as he arrives
on the scene, be his habits and characteristics what they may,
the stern John equally with his gentle Successor, is proclaimed
to be Elijah (Matt. 11:13, 14; 16:14; 17:10; Mark 9:11; 15:35;
Luke 9:7, 8; John 1:21). His appearance in glory on the mount of
transfiguration does not seem to have startled the disciples.
They were 'sore afraid,' but not apparently surprised."
(2.) The Elijah spoken of in 2 Chr. 21:12-15 is by some
supposed to be a different person from the foregoing. He lived
in the time of Jehoram, to whom he sent a letter of warning
(comp. 1 Chr. 28:19; Jer. 36), and acted as a prophet in Judah;
while the Tishbite was a prophet of the northern kingdom. But
there does not seem any necessity for concluding that the writer
of this letter was some other Elijah than the Tishbite. It may
be supposed either that Elijah anticipated the character of
Jehoram, and so wrote the warning message, which was preserved
in the schools of the prophets till Jehoram ascended the throne
after the Tishbite's translation, or that the translation did
not actually take place till after the accession of Jehoram to
the throne (2 Chr. 21:12; 2 Kings 8:16). The events of 2 Kings 2
may not be recorded in chronological order, and thus there may
be room for the opinion that Elijah was still alive in the
beginning of Jehoram's reign.
chaste, the daughter of Ethbaal, the king of the Zidonians, and
the wife of Ahab, the king of Israel (1 Kings 16:31). This was
the "first time that a king of Israel had allied himself by
marriage with a heathen princess; and the alliance was in this
case of a peculiarly disastrous kind. Jezebel has stamped her
name on history as the representative of all that is designing,
crafty, malicious, revengeful, and cruel. She is the first great
instigator of persecution against the saints of God. Guided by
no principle, restrained by no fear of either God or man,
passionate in her attachment to her heathen worship, she spared
no pains to maintain idolatry around her in all its splendour.
Four hundred and fifty prophets ministered under her care to
Baal, besides four hundred prophets of the groves [R.V.,
'prophets of the Asherah'], which ate at her table (1 Kings
18:19). The idolatry, too, was of the most debased and sensual
kind." Her conduct was in many respects very disastrous to the
kingdom both of Israel and Judah (21:1-29). At length she came
to an untimely end. As Jehu rode into the gates of Jezreel, she
looked out at the window of the palace, and said, "Had Zimri
peace, who slew his master?" He looked up and called to her
chamberlains, who instantly threw her from the window, so that
she was dashed in pieces on the street, and his horses trod her
under their feet. She was immediately consumed by the dogs of
the street (2 Kings 9:7-37), according to the word of Elijah the
Tishbite (1 Kings 21:19).
Her name afterwards came to be used as the synonym for a
wicked woman (Rev. 2: 20).
It may be noted that she is said to have been the grand-aunt
of Dido, the founder of Carthage.
servant of Jehovah. When Elah was murdered by Zimri at Tirzah (1
Kings 16:15-27), Omri, his captain, was made king (B.C. 931).
For four years there was continued opposition to his reign,
Tibni, another claimant to the throne, leading the opposing
party; but at the close of that period all his rivals were
defeated, and he became king of Israel, "Tibni died and Omri
reigned" (B.C. 927). By his vigour and power he gained great
eminence and consolidated the kingdom. He fixed his dynasty on
the throne so firmly that it continued during four succeeding
reigns. Tirza was for six years the seat of his government. He
then removed the capital to Samaria (q.v.), where he died, and
was succeeded by his son Ahab. "He wrought evil in the eyes of
the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him."
Beth-omri, "the house" or "city of Omri," is the name usually
found on Assyrian inscriptions for Samaria. In the stele of
Mesha (the "Moabite stone"), which was erected in Moab about
twenty or thirty years after Omri's death, it is recorded that
Omri oppressed Moab till Mesha delivered the land: "Omri, king
of Israel, oppressed Moab many days, for Chemosh was angry with
his land. His son succeeded him, and he also said, I will
oppress Moab" (comp. 2 Kings 1:1; 3:4, 5). The "Moabite stone"
also records that "Omri took the land of Medeba, and occupied it
in his day and in the days of his son forty years."
the designation of a tribe descended from Moab, the son of Lot
(Gen. 19:37). From Zoar, the cradle of this tribe, on the
south-eastern border of the Dead Sea, they gradually spread over
the region on the east of Jordan. Rameses II., the Pharaoh of
the Oppression, enumerates Moab (Muab) among his conquests.
Shortly before the Exodus, the warlike Amorites crossed the
Jordan under Sihon their king and drove the Moabites (Num.
21:26-30) out of the region between the Arnon and the Jabbok,
and occupied it, making Heshbon their capital. They were then
confined to the territory to the south of the Arnon.
On their journey the Israelites did not pass through Moab, but
through the "wilderness" to the east (Deut. 2:8; Judg. 11:18),
at length reaching the country to the north of the Arnon. Here
they remained for some time till they had conquered Bashan (see
SIHON ¯T0003427; OG ¯T0002771). The Moabites were alarmed, and
their king, Balak, sought aid from the Midianites (Num. 22:2-4).
It was while they were here that the visit of Balaam (q.v.) to
Balak took place. (See MOSES ¯T0002602.)
After the Conquest, the Moabites maintained hostile relations
with the Israelites, and frequently harassed them in war (Judg.
3:12-30; 1 Sam. 14). The story of Ruth, however, shows the
existence of friendly relations between Moab and Bethlehem. By
his descent from Ruth, David may be said to have had Moabite
blood in his veins. Yet there was war between David and the
Moabites (2 Sam. 8:2; 23:20; 1 Chr. 18:2), from whom he took
great spoil (2 Sam. 8:2, 11, 12; 1 Chr. 11:22; 18:11).
During the one hundred and fifty years which followed the
defeat of the Moabites, after the death of Ahab (see MESHA
¯T0002505), they regained, apparently, much of their former
prosperty. At this time Isaiah (15:1) delivered his "burden of
Moab," predicting the coming of judgment on that land (comp. 2
Kings 17:3; 18:9; 1 Chr. 5:25, 26). Between the time of Isaiah
and the commencement of the Babylonian captivity we have very
seldom any reference to Moab (Jer. 25:21; 27:3; 40:11; Zeph.
After the Return, it was Sanballat, a Moabite, who took chief
part in seeking to prevent the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Neh.
2:19; 4:1; 6:1).
righteousness of Jehovah. (1.) The last king of Judah. He was
the third son of Josiah, and his mother's name was Hamutal, the
daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah, and hence he was the brother of
Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:31; 24:17, 18). His original name was
Mattaniah; but when Nebuchadnezzar placed him on the throne as
the successor to Jehoiachin he changed his name to Zedekiah. The
prophet Jeremiah was his counsellor, yet "he did evil in the
sight of the Lord" (2 Kings 24:19, 20; Jer. 52:2, 3). He
ascended the throne at the age of twenty-one years. The kingdom
was at that time tributary to Nebuchadnezzar; but, despite the
strong remonstrances of Jeremiah and others, as well as the
example of Jehoiachin, he threw off the yoke of Babylon, and
entered into an alliance with Hophra, king of Egypt. This
brought up Nebuchadnezzar, "with all his host" (2 King 25:1),
against Jerusalem. During this siege, which lasted about
eighteen months, "every worst woe befell the devoted city, which
drank the cup of God's fury to the dregs" (2 Kings 25:3; Lam.
4:4, 5, 10). The city was plundered and laid in ruins. Zedekiah
and his followers, attempting to escape, were made captive and
taken to Riblah. There, after seeing his own children put to
death, his own eyes were put out, and, being loaded with chains,
he was carried captive (B.C. 588) to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-7; 2
Chr. 36:12; Jer. 32:4,5; 34:2, 3; 39:1-7; 52:4-11; Ezek. 12:12),
where he remained a prisoner, how long is unknown, to the day of
After the fall of Jerusalem, Nebuzaraddan was sent to carry
out its complete destruction. The city was razed to the ground.
Only a small number of vinedressers and husbandmen were
permitted to remain in the land (Jer. 52:16). Gedaliah, with a
Chaldean guard stationed at Mizpah, ruled over Judah (2 Kings
25:22, 24; jer. 40:1, 2, 5, 6).
(2.) The son of Chenaanah, a false prophet in the days of Ahab
(1 Kings 22:11, 24; 2 Chr. 18:10, 23).
(3.) The son of Hananiah, a prince of Judah in the days of
Jehoiakim (Jer. 36:12).
Israel, Kingdom of
(B.C. 975-B.C. 722). Soon after the death of Solomon, Ahijah's
prophecy (1 Kings 11:31-35) was fulfilled, and the kingdom was
rent in twain. Rehoboam, the son and successor of Solomon, was
scarcely seated on his throne when the old jealousies between
Judah and the other tribes broke out anew, and Jeroboam was sent
for from Egypt by the malcontents (12:2,3). Rehoboam insolently
refused to lighten the burdensome taxation and services which
his father had imposed on his subjects (12:4), and the rebellion
became complete. Ephraim and all Israel raised the old cry,
"Every man to his tents, O Israel" (2 Sam. 20:1). Rehoboam fled
to Jerusalem (1 Kings 12:1-18; 2 Chr. 10), and Jeroboam was
proclaimed king over all Israel at Shechem, Judah and Benjamin
remaining faithful to Solomon's son. War, with varying success,
was carried on between the two kingdoms for about sixty years,
till Jehoshaphat entered into an alliance with the house of
Extent of the kingdom. In the time of Solomon the area of
Israel, excluding the Phoenician territories on the shore of
the Mediterranean, did not much exceed 13,000 square miles. The
kingdom of Israel comprehended about 9,375 square miles. Shechem
was the first capital of this kingdom (1 Kings 12:25),
afterwards Tirza (14:17). Samaria was subsequently chosen as the
capital (16:24), and continued to be so till the destruction of
the kingdom by the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:5). During the siege of
Samaria (which lasted for three years) by the Assyrians,
Shalmaneser died and was succeeded by Sargon, who himself thus
records the capture of that city: "Samaria I looked at, I
captured; 27,280 men who dwelt in it I carried away" (2 Kings
17:6) into Assyria. Thus after a duration of two hundred and
fifty-three years the kingdom of the ten tribes came to an end.
They were scattered throughout the East. (See CAPTIVITY
"Judah held its ground against Assyria for yet one hundred and
twenty-three years, and became the rallying-point of the
dispersed of every tribe, and eventually gave its name to the
whole race. Those of the people who in the last struggle escaped
into the territories of Judah or other neighbouring countries
naturally looked to Judah as the head and home of their race.
And when Judah itself was carried off to Babylon, many of the
exiled Israelites joined them from Assyria, and swelled that
immense population which made Babylonia a second Israel."
After the deportation of the ten tribes, the deserted land was
colonized by various eastern tribes, whom the king of Assyria
sent thither (Ezra 4:2, 10; 2 Kings 17:24-29). (See KINGS
In contrast with the kingdom of Judah is that of Israel. (1.)
"There was no fixed capital and no religious centre. (2.) The
army was often insubordinate. (3.) The succession was constantly
interrupted, so that out of nineteen kings there were no less
than nine dynasties, each ushered in by a revolution. (4.) The
authorized priests left the kingdom in a body, and the
priesthood established by Jeroboam had no divine sanction and no
promise; it was corrupt at its very source." (Maclean's O. T.
Jehovah-judged. (1.) One of David's body-guard (1 Chr. 11:43).
(2.) One of the priests who accompanied the removal of the ark
to Jerusalem (1 Chr. 15:24).
(3.) Son of Ahilud, "recorder" or annalist under David and
Solomon (2 Sam. 8:16), a state officer of high rank, chancellor
or vizier of the kingdom.
(4.) Solomon's purveyor in Issachar (1 Kings 4:17).
(5.) The son and successor of Asa, king of Judah. After
fortifying his kingdom against Israel (2 Chr. 17:1, 2), he set
himself to cleanse the land of idolatry (1 Kings 22:43). In the
third year of his reign he sent out priests and Levites over the
land to instruct the people in the law (2 Chr. 17:7-9). He
enjoyed a great measure of peace and prosperity, the blessing of
God resting on the people "in their basket and their store."
The great mistake of his reign was his entering into an
alliance with Ahab, the king of Israel, which involved him in
much disgrace, and brought disaster on his kingdom (1 Kings
22:1-33). Escaping from the bloody battle of Ramoth-gilead, the
prophet Jehu (2 Chr. 19:1-3) reproached him for the course he
had been pursuing, whereupon he entered with rigour on his
former course of opposition to all idolatry, and of deepening
interest in the worship of God and in the righteous government
of the people (2 Chr. 19:4-11).
Again he entered into an alliance with Ahaziah, the king of
Israel, for the purpose of carrying on maritime commerce with
Ophir. But the fleet that was then equipped at Ezion-gaber was
speedily wrecked. A new fleet was fitted out without the
co-operation of the king of Israel, and although it was
successful, the trade was not prosecuted (2 Chr. 20:35-37; 1
He subsequently joined Jehoram, king of Israel, in a war
against the Moabites, who were under tribute to Israel. This war
was successful. The Moabites were subdued; but the dreadful act
of Mesha in offering his own son a sacrifice on the walls of
Kir-haresheth in the sight of the armies of Israel filled him
with horror, and he withdrew and returned to his own land (2
The last most notable event of his reign was that recorded in
2 Chr. 20. The Moabites formed a great and powerful confederacy
with the surrounding nations, and came against Jehoshaphat. The
allied forces were encamped at Engedi. The king and his people
were filled with alarm, and betook themselves to God in prayer.
The king prayed in the court of the temple, "O our God, wilt
thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great
company that cometh against us." Amid the silence that followed,
the voice of Jahaziel the Levite was heard announcing that on
the morrow all this great host would be overthrown. So it was,
for they quarrelled among themselves, and slew one another,
leaving to the people of Judah only to gather the rich spoils of
the slain. This was recognized as a great deliverance wrought
for them by God (B.C. 890). Soon after this Jehoshaphat died,
after a reign of twenty-five years, being sixty years of age,
and was succeeded by his son Jehoram (1 Kings 22:50). He had
this testimony, that "he sought the Lord with all his heart" (2
Chr. 22:9). The kingdom of Judah was never more prosperous than
under his reign.
(6.) The son of Nimshi, and father of Jehu, king of Israel (2
Kings 9:2, 14).
Jehovah is he. (1.) The son of Obed, and father of Azariah (1
(2.) One of the Benjamite slingers that joined David at Ziklag
(1 Chr. 12:3).
(3.) The son of Hanani, a prophet of Judah (1 Kings 16:1, 7; 2
Chr. 19:2; 20:34), who pronounced the sentence of God against
Baasha, the king of Israel.
(4.) King of Israel, the son of Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 9:2), and
grandson of Nimshi. The story of his exaltation to the throne is
deeply interesting. During the progress of a war against the
Syrians, who were becoming more and more troublesome to Israel,
in a battle at Ramoth-gilead Jehoram, the king of Israel, had
been wounded; and leaving his army there, had returned to
Jezreel, whither his ally, Ahaziah, king of Judah, had also gone
on a visit of sympathy with him (2 Kings 8:28, 29). The
commanders, being left in charge of the conduct of the war, met
in council; and while engaged in their deliberations, a
messenger from Elisha appeared in the camp, and taking Jehu from
the council, led him into a secret chamber, and there anointed
him king over Israel, and immediately retired and disappeared (2
Kings 9:5, 6). On being interrogated by his companions as to the
object of this mysterious visitor, he informed them of what had
been done, when immediately, with the utmost enthusiasm, they
blew their trumpets and proclaimed him king (2 Kings 9:11-14).
He then with a chosen band set forth with all speed to Jezreel,
where, with his own hand, he slew Jehoram, shooting him through
the heart with an arrow (9:24). The king of Judah, when trying
to escape, was fatally wounded by one of Jehu's soldiers at
Beth-gan. On entering the city, Jehu commanded the eunchs of the
royal palace to cast down Jezebel into the street, where her
mangled body was trodden under foot by the horses. Jehu was now
master of Jezreel, whence he communicated with the persons in
authority in Samaria the capital, commanding them to appear
before him on the morrow with the heads of all the royal princes
of Samaria. Accordingly on the morrow seventy heads were piled
up in two heaps at his gate. At "the shearing-house" (2 Kings
10:12-14) other forty-two connected with the house of Ahab were
put to death (2 Kings 10:14). As Jehu rode on toward Samaria, he
met Jehonadab (q.v.), whom he took into his chariot, and they
entered the capital together. By a cunning stratagem he cut off
all the worshippers of Baal found in Samaria (2 Kings 10:19-25),
and destroyed the temple of the idol (2 Kings 10:27).
Notwithstanding all this apparent zeal for the worship of
Jehovah, Jehu yet tolerated the worship of the golden calves at
Dan and Bethel. For this the divine displeasure rested upon him,
and his kingdom suffered disaster in war with the Syrians (2
Kings 10:29-33). He died after a reign of twenty-eight years
(B.C. 884-856), and was buried in Samaria (10:34-36). "He was
one of those decisive, terrible, and ambitious, yet prudent,
calculating, and passionless men whom God from time to time
raises up to change the fate of empires and execute his
judgments on the earth." He was the first Jewish king who came
in contact with the Assyrian power in the time of Shalmaneser
the name derived from the city Asshur on the Tigris, the
original capital of the country, was originally a colony from
Babylonia, and was ruled by viceroys from that kingdom. It was a
mountainous region lying to the north of Babylonia, extending
along the Tigris as far as to the high mountain range of
Armenia, the Gordiaean or Carduchian mountains. It was founded
in B.C. 1700 under Bel-kap-kapu, and became an independent and a
conquering power, and shook off the yoke of its Babylonian
masters. It subdued the whole of Northern Asia. The Assyrians
were Semites (Gen. 10:22), but in process of time non-Semite
tribes mingled with the inhabitants. They were a military
people, the "Romans of the East."
Of the early history of the kingdom of Assyria little is
positively known. In B.C. 1120 Tiglath-pileser I., the greatest
of the Assyrian kings, "crossed the Euphrates, defeated the
kings of the Hittites, captured the city of Carchemish, and
advanced as far as the shores of the Mediterranean." He may be
regarded as the founder of the first Assyrian empire. After this
the Assyrians gradually extended their power, subjugating the
states of Northern Syria. In the reign of Ahab, king of Israel,
Shalmaneser II. marched an army against the Syrian states, whose
allied army he encountered and vanquished at Karkar. This led to
Ahab's casting off the yoke of Damascus and allying himself with
Judah. Some years after this the Assyrian king marched an army
against Hazael, king of Damascus. He besieged and took that
city. He also brought under tribute Jehu, and the cities of Tyre
About a hundred years after this (B.C. 745) the crown was
seized by a military adventurer called Pul, who assumed the name
of Tiglath-pileser III. He directed his armies into Syria, which
had by this time regained its independence, and took (B.C. 740)
Arpad, near Aleppo, after a siege of three years, and reduced
Hamath. Azariah (Uzziah) was an ally of the king of Hamath, and
thus was compelled by Tiglath-pileser to do him homage and pay a
In B.C. 738, in the reign of Menahem, king of Israel, Pul
invaded Israel, and imposed on it a heavy tribute (2 Kings
15:19). Ahaz, the king of Judah, when engaged in a war against
Israel and Syria, appealed for help to this Assyrian king by
means of a present of gold and silver (2 Kings 16:8); who
accordingly "marched against Damascus, defeated and put Rezin to
death, and besieged the city itself." Leaving a portion of his
army to continue the siege, "he advanced through the province
east of Jordan, spreading fire and sword," and became master of
Philistia, and took Samaria and Damascus. He died B.C. 727, and
was succeeded by Shalmanezer IV., who ruled till B.C. 722. He
also invaded Syria (2 Kings 17:5), but was deposed in favour of
Sargon (q.v.) the Tartan, or commander-in-chief of the army, who
took Samaria (q.v.) after a siege of three years, and so put an
end to the kingdom of Israel, carrying the people away into
captivity, B.C. 722 (2 Kings 17:1-6, 24; 18:7, 9). He also
overran the land of Judah, and took the city of Jerusalem (Isa.
10:6, 12, 22, 24, 34). Mention is next made of Sennacherib (B.C.
705), the son and successor of Sargon (2 Kings 18:13; 19:37;
Isa. 7:17, 18); and then of Esar-haddon, his son and successor,
who took Manasseh, king of Judah, captive, and kept him for some
time a prisoner at Babylon, which he alone of all the Assyrian
kings made the seat of his government (2 Kings 19:37; Isa.
Assur-bani-pal, the son of Esarhaddon, became king, and in
Ezra 4:10 is referred to as Asnapper. From an early period
Assyria had entered on a conquering career, and having absorbed
Babylon, the kingdoms of Hamath, Damascus, and Samaria, it
conquered Phoenicia, and made Judea feudatory, and subjected
Philistia and Idumea. At length, however, its power declined. In
B.C. 727 the Babylonians threw off the rule of the Assyrians,
under the leadership of the powerful Chaldean prince
Merodach-baladan (2 Kings 20:12), who, after twelve years, was
subdued by Sargon, who now reunited the kingdom, and ruled over
a vast empire. But on his death the smouldering flames of
rebellion again burst forth, and the Babylonians and Medes
successfully asserted their independence (B.C. 625), and Assyria
fell according to the prophecies of Isaiah (10:5-19), Nahum
(3:19), and Zephaniah (3:13), and the many separate kingdoms of
which it was composed ceased to recognize the "great king" (2
Kings 18:19; Isa. 36:4). Ezekiel (31) attests (about B.C. 586)
how completely Assyria was overthrown. It ceases to be a nation.
(See NINEVEH ¯T0002735; BABYLON ¯T0000409.)