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"Babylon The Great Has Fallen!"
God's Kingdom Rules!

Chapter 7

Israel Feels Assyria's Aggressions

TILL his old age King Solomon ruled wisely in Zion or Jerusalem. Toward the end of his forty-year reign his subjects began to feel oppressions. This was not according to the will of the God of Israel, but it resulted from the fact that as Solomon got old his many pagan wives "inclined his heart to follow other gods; and his heart did not prove to be complete with Jehovah his God like the heart of David his father." (1 Kings 11: 4) So this king who built the holy temple of Jehovah turned to building places of pagan worship for the gods of his wives. Solomon was the son of David of the tribe of Judah, and it had been prophesied that the scepter would not depart out of the tribe of Judah until the Promised Seed, Shiloh, came. Besides that, Jehovah had promised King David that the kingship would not be taken away from his family. (Genesis 49: 10; 2 Samuel 7:11-16) God held true to this prophecy and to this covenant with David for an everlasting kingdom. But he told unfaithful King Solomon that He would rip the greater part of the nation out from the control of Solomon's royal successor.

"One tribe [that of Benjamin, loyal to Judah] I shall give to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen," said Jehovah to Solomon. — 1 Kings 11:9-13.

In 997 B.C. Solomon's son Rehoboam succeeded him to the throne. Rehoboam refused to lighten the people's burdens but threatened to make them even more


oppressive. So ten tribes of Israel revolted against further rule by David's royal house. God would not let King Rehoboam fight to bring the rebellious tribes back under his scepter. Along with the tribe of Benjamin, the Levites who served at Jehovah's temple remained loyal to David's house. The Levites would now get tithes from only two tribes instead of from all twelve. Since they stuck to Jehovah's temple at the capital city of the kingdom of Judah, they fell under the displeasure of the first king of the new kingdom of the ten rebellious tribes, the kingdom of Israel. That king was named Jeroboam, of the tribe of Ephraim, and he made his capital at Shechem, thirty miles north of Jerusalem.

King Jeroboam did not trust Jehovah's promise that he would give Jeroboam a lasting kingdom if he would keep worshiping Jehovah as King David had done. (1 Kings 11:26-39) He feared that regular worship by his subjects at Jehovah's house in Judah's capital city of Jerusalem would finally wean them back to the kingdom of David's royal house. So Jeroboam did not try to imitate King David in worshiping Jehovah. He reasoned that the break with the royal house of David must mean also a break with the worship of David's God at Jerusalem, a break with Jehovah's house or temple there. Unmindful of how Jehovah had shown his indignation against calf worship by the Israelites at the foot of the mountain of the Ten Commandments, King Jeroboam set up golden calf worship in the new kingdom of Israel. — 1 Kings 12:1-33; Exodus 32:1-35.

In ancient Babylon the bull was a symbol of the storm god, Hadad. But King Jeroboam would make the golden calf the symbol of the God of Israel, setting up one calf with its altar far up north in Dan and the other calf down south at Bethel, quite near to Jerusalem, less than fifteen miles away. The Levites could not serve it such places of false worship. Hence King Jeroboam dismissed them and made priests for the calf worship


from the Israelites in general. Because of such false worship in Israel, many individuals from the ten tribes, besides the Levites, went over to the kingdom of Judah to be true to Jehovah's worship and to live under the chosen royal house of David. — 2 Chronicles 11:13-17.

In process of time the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel was transferred to Tirzah and finally to Samaria. There the capital remained till Samaria was destroyed and the kingdom of Israel was overthrown. (1 Kings 15:21, 33; 16:15-28) The religious situation in the kingdom of Israel became worse when Ahab the son of Omri the founder of Samaria became king and married a Baal worshiper and built a temple and altar of Baal in this capital city. Thus calf worship and Baal worship went on in that apostate land. (1 Kings 16:29-33) In the days of King Jehu of Israel, about thirty years later, this Baal worship was uprooted from the land of Israel at Jehovah's own orders to Jehu. But King Jehu and his successors continued to worship the calves. — 2 Kings 9:1 to 10:31.

After Jehu nine kings (only four of these being of Jehu's family) ruled over the kingdom of Israel, through a period of 141 years. In the meantime Egypt of the Pharaohs had to yield place to Assyria as the dominant world power of the day. So during the reign of the fourth last king of Samaria, the Assyrian king named Pul (or, Tiglath-pileser III) invaded the land, and King Menahem was obliged to pay a great sum of money at the expense of his subjects for the Assyrian king to withdraw from the land. The next king also enjoyed the benefit of this. But the following king, Pekah, lost much territory to the invading king of Assyria, and many of Pekah's subjects were carried exile into Assyria. (2 Kings 15:17-29) Pekah's assassin, Hoshea, became king in his stead, but only to become the last king of Samaria. — 2 Kings 15:30; 17:1, 2.

After Jehovah had exercised merciful patience with the paganized kings of Israel for more than 250 years,


his day of judgment for that ten-tribe kingdom arrived. King Shalmaneser of Assyria invaded Israel and King Hoshea became his vassal, paying tribute to him. But Hoshea appealed by letter to Egypt, the former world power, for help to break Assyria's hold on him. So King Shalmaneser captured the rebellious King Hoshea and kept him bound in the house of detention. Not satisfied with this, but apparently while holding King Hoshea under detention, the king of Assyria moved against Samaria to destroy it. Samaria was well fortified on a height and was well stocked with food and so was well able to stand a long siege. It held out for three years, or until in the ninth year of the reign of King Hoshea. Then, in 740 B.C.,* it fell. King Sargon II of Assyria is credited with taking the city. His records tell us that 27,290 of Samaria's chief citizens were carried off captive.

To resettle the land the king of Assyria brought in people from Babylon and other places to occupy the cities of the kingdom of Israel. (2 Kings 17:3-24) Although the Israelites had proved unfaithful to the God of their forefathers, yet Jehovah did not forget what Assyria did to these people of His. He brought due punishment upon Assyria by an executioner.


During the days of Jerusalem's eleventh king, Uzziah (or, Azariah) by name, the king of Assyria began his invasions of the land of the kingdom of Israel. (2 Kings 15:17-19) Assyria was then the rising world power, and for this reason Jehovah by his prophets warned the kingdom of Judah not to trust in it or to make any alliance with it for help against the enemies of Jerusalem. Foremost among such prophets was Isaiah the son of Amoz. He began to prophesy in the land of Judah in the days of King Uzziah of Jerusalem. In his prophecy Isaiah mentions Assyria and Assyrians

* Not in 722/1 B.C., as given in secular chronologies in general.

forty-four times, or far more than any other prophet of the Bible. His prophesying continued into the reign of King Hezekiah. — Isaiah 1:1.

King Ahaz, the father of Hezekiah, refused to heed Isaiah's inspired counsel and made alliance with the king of Assyria for protection against two conspirators, the king of Israel and the king of Syria. In pointing out that this would not be entirely with benefits to King Ahaz, the prophet Isaiah uttered a prophecy foretelling the virgin birth of the Messiah, Christ. Isaiah said:

"Jehovah himself will give you men a sign: Look! The maiden herself will actually become pregnant, and she is giving birth to a son, and she will certainly call his name Immanuel [='With Us Is God']. Butter and honey he will eat by the time that he knows how to reject the bad and choose the good. For before the boy will know how to reject the bad and choose the good, the ground of whose two kings [of Israel and of Syria] you are feeling a sickening dread will be left entirely. Jehovah will bring against you and against your people and against the house of your father days such as have not come since the day of Ephraim's turning away from alongside Judah [in 997 B.C.], namely, the king of Assyria." — Isaiah 7: 14-17.

Isaiah's words made it plain to King Ahaz that the real danger to the land of Immanuel was, not the two conspiring kings of Israel and Syria, but the king of the Second World Power, Assyria. (Isaiah 7:18-20: 8: 7, 8) In the year 740 B.C. Samaria the capital of the kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrian world power. At the time of its fall Sargon II became or made himself king of Assyria and took the credit for the capture of the Israelite capital of Samaria. That triumph of Assyria was in the sixth year of the reign of the son of Ahaz, namely, Hezekiah the king of Jerusalem. (2 Kings 18:9-12) During the reign of King Sargon II of Assyria this Second World Power reached the peak of


its ascendancy. The prophet Isaiah uttered a prophecy concerning Sargon and foretold that he would subjugate Egypt and Ethiopia and lead away captives therefrom. (Isaiah 20:1-6) Secular history records that Sargon II levied tribute on Egypt, the previous dominant world power.

Up till that time Babylon had been subject to Assyria and paid tribute to the Second World Power. But after Sargon II became king of Assyria there was a movement to free Babylon from Assyrian domination. A Chaldean named Merodach-baladan had himself proclaimed king of Babylon. So King Sargon of Assyria proceeded against this upstart, but it appears that the resulting battle with him was inconclusive, and Merodach-baladan remained as king of Babylon. Years later King Sargon of Assyria marched against Babylon, drove out Merodach-baladan and had himself crowned as the ruler of the city, and held it till his death. Sargon was succeeded to the throne of Assyria by his son Sennacherib. Once again the Babylonians revolted and they set over themselves Merodach-baladan. Thus trouble arose once again for Assyria from the Babylonian quarter. So now King Sennacherib sought to unseat Merodach-baladan.

Militaristic King Sennacherib was bent on conquest. His father, King Sargon II, had captured the Israelite capital of Samaria during the sixth year of the reign of King Hezekiah of Jerusalem. So Sennacherib became ambitious to add the conquest of the holy city of Jerusalem to his trophies of war, especially after its king, Hezekiah, tried to withdraw from the alliance that had been entered into with Assyria by his father King Ahaz.

In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah's reign King Sennacherib came against him. He "came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and proceeded to seize them." For the time being King Hezekiah bought him off by agreeing to pay a great sum of tribute money. Some time afterward Sennacherib, who was laying


siege to the Judean city of Lachish, sent military commanders up to Jerusalem to demand the surrender of the city. Standing outside the city, they called out to those on the walls of Jerusalem to capitulate to Sennacherib and quit trusting in King Hezekiah's God, Jehovah, for up till then no gods had been able to stand up against the conquering Sennacherib. Distressed King* Hezekiah asked the prophet Isaiah to pray to Jehovah. In answer Jehovah told King Hezekiah through Isaiah that He would cause the king of Assyria to go back home, only to fall there by the sword. — 2 Kings 18:13 to 19:8.

The Assyrian military men, under their chief spokesman Rabshakeh, reported back to King Sennacherib, who was now at another Judean city named Libnah. He sent messengers back to Jerusalem with letters that greatly belittled Hezekiah's God. After King Hezekiah read the abusive letters of intimidation, he went up to Jehovah's temple, spread the letters out before Jehovah and prayed to him for salvation. Resenting the insult that had been heaped upon his God, Hezekiah prayed: "And now, O Jehovah God, save us, please, out of [Sennacherib's] hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Jehovah, are God alone."  — 2 Kings 19:8-19.

Jehovah assured King Hezekiah through Isaiah that his prayer had been heard. Then Jehovah addressed himself to the boastful king of Assyria and said: "The virgin [uncaptured] daughter of Zion has despised you, she has held you in derision. Behind you the daughter of Jerusalem has wagged her head. Whom have you taunted and spoken of abusively? And against whom have you lifted up your voice and do you raise your eyes on high? It is against the Holy One of Israel! By means of your messengers you have taunted Jehovah . . . because your exciting yourself against me and your roaring have come up into my ears. And I shall certainly put my hook in your nose and my bridle between


your lips, and I shall indeed lead you back by the way by which you have come."

Then Jehovah gave Hezekiah a sign that this would be done to the king of Assyria so as to bring in peaceful conditions again in the land of Judah. On account of Sennacherib's invasion they would reap no crop that year, and the second year they would not sow seed or reap, but the third year they would peacefully go ahead with cultivating the land and reaping a harvest: "For out of Jerusalem a remnant will go forth, and those who escape from Mount Zion. The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this." (2 Kings 19:20-31) That "second year" according to Bible chronology would be the sixth sabbath year of the Jubilee cycle, in which the Jews were to let their God-given land enjoy a rest or sabbath. — Leviticus 25:1-12.

Finally Jehovah assured King Hezekiah that the king of Assyria would not get near Zion or Jerusalem in any assault but would go back home in failure: "And I shall certainly defend this city to save it for my own sake and for the sake of David my servant."

Darkness fell. It was a tense night for Jerusalem. But the following morning the camping ground of the Assyrians was found littered with dead corpses. What had happened? "It came about on that night that the angel of Jehovah proceeded to go out and strike down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians." How near the Assyrian encampment was to Jerusalem the Bible does not indicate, but there came no attack upon the "virgin daughter of Zion," "the daughter of Jerusalem." Instead, the humiliated King Sennacherib beat a hasty retreat back to his capital Nineveh, to inquire of his false god Nisroch. As Sennacherib retreated northward, the "daughter of Zion" derided him and wagged her head after him. She rejoiced that her God Jehovah had vindicated his universal sovereignty over Assyria, the Second World


Power, and had proved that he was the only God.  — 2 Kings 19:32-37.

However, Sennacherib had yet to settle matters with Babylon, for Merodach-baladan was still rebellious. He was seeking allies to help him overthrow the king of Assyria, Babylon's overlord. Merodach-baladan had heard that, sometime before Jehovah delivered Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib, the king of Jerusalem had been mortally sick but had recovered by a miracle. Yes, Hezekiah, in his fourteenth year of his reign, had fallen victim to a malignant boil. Jehovah had even told Hezekiah through Isaiah that he should prepare for death. But at that time Hezekiah had no son, no successor to his throne, and the royal line of David through him was in danger of being broken. With weeping King Hezekiah prayed to have his life spared at that time. Jehovah mercifully heard his prayer and promised to add fifteen years to his life, and gave him a miraculous sign as an assurance of this. Hezekiah got well, and in the third year thereafter Hezekiah had a son called Manasseh. When this son Manasseh was twelve years old, he succeeded King Hezekiah, whose addition of fifteen years to his life had permitted him to reign twenty-nine years. — 2 Kings 20:12; 21:1; Isaiah 38:1 to 39:1.

When Merodach-baladan sent messengers with letters and a gift, King Hezekiah was pleased to receive them. It may have been in order to impress the king of Babylon as a possible ally against the king of Assyria that Hezekiah showed the Babylonian messengers his properties and wealth. But such a display of riches could also excite greed in the king of Babylon. The prophet Isaiah was against any alliance with Babylon or dependence upon her instead of upon Jehovah God. So after the messengers departed, Isaiah asked Hezekiah who they were and how he had treated them. Then Isaiah said:


"Hear the word of Jehovah of armies, 'Look! Days are coming, and all that is in your own house and that your forefathers have stored up down to this day will actually be carried to Babylon.' 'Nothing will be left,' Jehovah has said. 'And some of your own sons that will come forth from you, to whom you will become father, will themselves be taken and actually become court officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.'"  — Isaiah 39:1-7.

Hezekiah expressed relief that this calamity would not happen in his own day. (2 Kings 20:12-20) It may have been with regard to his dealings with the Babylonian messengers of Merodach-baladan that 2 Chronicles 32:24-26 refers, saying: "In those days Hezekiah fell sick to the point of dying, and he began to pray to Jehovah. So He talked to him, and a portent He gave him. But according to the benefit rendered him Hezekiah made no return, for his heart became haughty and there came to be indignation against him and against Judah and Jerusalem. However, Hezekiah humbled himself for the haughtiness of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and Jehovah's indignation did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah." So he died in peace and left the kingdom to Manasseh.

As for King Merodach-baladan of Babylon and his relations with King Sennacherib of Assyria, we read on page 33 of the book Israel and Babylon:

Sennacherib's first task was to conquer that "prop of evil deeds," "that worker of wickedness," as he quaintly describes him. Babylon was captured but Merodach-baladan escaped and fled. It was at this period, rather than at the time of his earlier conflict with Sargon, that Merodach-baladan sought to enlist help from Hezekiah of Judah as recorded in 2 Kings 20:12-19. Babylon, however, continued to give trouble with the readily granted aid of the Elamites, Merodach-baladan making yet another appearance, if not more than one, on the scene; she was finally crushed in 689, the city being levelled to the ground. Apparently Sennacherib had treated Babylon with great forbearance up to this time,


and adopted this terrible policy in sheer despair. [Sidney] Smith thinks [in his book The First Campaign of Sennacherib] that a passage in the annals of Ashurbanipal may be interpreted to mean that Sennacherib was actually engaged in the reconstruction of Babylon when he was assassinated. — 1925 edition, by W. L. Wardle, M.A., B.D., London, England.

Esar-haddon succeeded his assassinated father to the throne of Nineveh, capital of Assyria. (2 Kings 19:37; Isaiah 37:37, 38) It was he who rebuilt the city of Babylon and sent back to it the statue of its chief god, Bel-Merodach, besides restoring the temples of other deities. When Esar-haddon died, his successor Ashurbanipal appointed a viceroy to rule Babylon. Nabopolassar the father of Nebuchadnezzar II was the last viceroy appointed by Assyria. (ISBE, Volume 1, page 367) Now the question came to be, Will Assyria, "the land of Nimrod," hold onto her position as the Second World Power? She had been able to bring the fall and destruction of ancient Babylon, but she had been unable to capture and destroy Zion or Jerusalem, "the town of the grand King." (Micah 5:6; Psalm 48: 1, 2) At any rate, Assyria was yet to have her judgment day because of all she had done to Jehovah's land and to his chosen people.

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