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Verses 8-26

Chaos in Israel (15:8-26)

The long and prosperous reign of Jeroboam II brought political as well as social and religious troubles. When Jeroboam died, Israel entered a time of political chaos, as ambitious men fought to seize power. The nation lost its stability, and Assyria soon began to show interest in adding Israel to its rapidly expanding empire.

Jehu’s dynasty, which began bloodily, ended bloodily when its fifth king was murdered after a reign of only six months (8-12; cf. 10:30; Hosea 1:4; Amos 7:9). The assassin, Shallum, reigned only one month before he was murdered by Menahem, who then seized the throne (13-16). Menahem survived ten years, but only by buying the protection of the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III (also known as Pul). This policy damaged Israel’s economy, weakened its independence and opened the way for eventual conquest by Assyria (17-22).

Israel’s army commander Pekah was opposed to this pro-Assyrian policy. After Menahem died and was succeeded by his son Pekahiah, Pekah murdered Pekahiah and made himself king (23-26). The plots, assassinations and repeated changes in foreign policy were condemned by God’s prophets (Hosea 5:13; Hosea 7:3,Hosea 7:7,Hosea 7:11; Hosea 8:4; Hosea 10:3-4; Hosea 12:1).

Isaiah and Ahaz

Meanwhile Tiglath-pileser III was working towards a complete military conquest of Israel. (The prophets had already predicted such a conquest; see Hosea 10:5-8; Amos 7:17.) Realizing this, the Syrian king Rezin and the Israelite king Pekah formed a defence alliance to resist Assyria. They tried to persuade Judah’s king Jotham and the succeeding king Ahaz to join them, but the kings of Judah refused. Rezin and Pekah then attacked Ahaz, with the aim of conquering Judah, putting their own king on the throne, then forcing Judah to join their anti-Assyrian alliance (see 15:37; 16:5; Isaiah 7:1-2,Isaiah 7:6).

As the Israel-Syrian invasion force approached, Ahaz panicked. But one man among his advisers, the prophet Isaiah, remained calm and urged the king to trust in God. Isaiah assured Ahaz that he need not fear, for Israel-Syria would not defeat Judah, but would themselves be conquered by Assyria. Ahaz had only to trust in God (Isaiah 7:2-9; Isaiah 8:4). However, Ahaz neither trusted in God nor believed Isaiah. Instead he asked Assyria to come and help him. Isaiah warned that this was foolish, for it would put Judah under Assyria’s control (Isaiah 8:5-8). Again Ahaz ignored the advice (see 16:7-8).

Assyria then attacked Syria and Israel. Assyria’s policy was to carry off the people of a conquered country into other countries of the Assyrian Empire (to prevent rebellion breaking out in the conquered territory) and replace them with settlers from elsewhere. Therefore, when Tiglath-pileser conquered Syria, he transported the people into captivity in Assyria (732 BC). This brought the kingdom of Syria to an end, as foretold by God’s prophets (see 16:9; Isaiah 17:1; Amos 1:4-5). Tiglath-pileser attacked Israel also, overrunning its eastern and northern territory and taking the inhabitants into captivity (see 15:29). This was the beginning of the end for Israel.


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