Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 236

Babylon next claimed the attention of Tiglath-pileser. Nabonassar had died and was succeeded by his son Nabu-nadin-zeri, who, after reigning for two years, was slain in a rebellion. The throne was then seized by Nabu-shum-ukin, but in less than two months this usurper was assassinated and the Chaldaeans had one of their chiefs, Ukinzer, proclaimed king (732 B.C.).

When the Assyrian king returned from Syria in 731 B.C. he invaded Babylonia. He was met with a stubborn resistance. Ukinzer took refuge in his capital, Shapia, which held out successfully, although the surrounding country was ravaged and despoiled. Two years afterwards Tiglath-pileser returned, captured Shapia, and restored peace throughout Babylonia. He was welcomed in Babylon, which opened its gates to him, and he had himself proclaimed king of Sumer and Akkad. The Chaldaeans paid tribute.

Tiglath-pileser had now reached the height of his ambition. He had not only extended his empire in the west from Cappadocia to the river of Egypt, crippled Urartu and pacified his eastern frontier, but brought Assyria into close union with Babylonia, the mother land, the home of culture and the land of the ancient gods. He did not live long, however, to enjoy his final triumph, for he died a little over twelve months after he "took the hands of Bel (Merodach)" at Babylon.

He was succeeded by Shalmaneser V (727-722 B.C.), who may have been his son, but this is not quite certain. Little is known regarding his brief reign. In 725 B.C. he led an expedition to Syria and Phoenicia. Several of the vassal peoples had revolted when they heard of the death of Tiglath-pileser. These included the Phoenicians, the Philistines, and the Israelites who were intriguing with either Egypt or Mutsri.

Apparently Hoshea, king of Israel, pretended when the Assyrians entered his country that he remained friendly. Shalmaneser, however, was well informed, and made Hoshea a prisoner. Samaria closed its gates against him although their king had been dispatched to Assyria.

The Biblical account of the campaign is as follows: "Against him (Hoshea) came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents. And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt,[519] and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year; therefore the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison.

"Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years."[520]

Shalmaneser died before Samaria was captured, and may have been assassinated. The next Assyrian monarch, Sargon II (722-705 B.C.), was not related to either of his two predecessors. He is referred to by Isaiah,[521] and is the Arkeanos of Ptolemy. He was the Assyrian monarch who deported the "Lost Ten Tribes".

"In the ninth year of Hoshea" (and the first of Sargon) "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."[522] In all, according to Sargon's record, "27,290 people dwelling in the midst of it (Samaria) I carried off".