Hoshea, son of Elah

“In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel who were before him. Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him; and Hoshea became his vassal, and paid him tribute money.” (2Ki 17:1-3)

Attempting to break free from Assyrian control, Hoshea sought an alliance with So (Osorkon IV, 727-722 B.C.), king of Egypt and refused to pay the annual tribute. Not a wise move since Assyria was quite powerful, and alliances with pagan nations were forbidden by God (Deu 7:2). This revolt precipitated a siege against Samaria by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser V (son of Tiglath-Pileser III), who captured Hoshea and bound him in prison (2Ki 17:4). Shalmaneser died shortly after he had begun dismantling Israel, but he was succeeded by Sargon II, who stepped up the campaign of destruction against the northern kingdom. While Samaria's internal water supply and food reserves allowed her to endure the assault for three years, the end was as predicted:

“In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” (2Ki 17:6)

As the prophet Hosea had foretold, Samaria was now cut off and her king disappeared like a twig floating on the waters (Hosea 10:7). The capture of Samaria marked the end of the northern kingdom of Israel.

The Assyrian policy was to carry off most of the populace to distant locations and then resettle a conquered land with foreigners. Assyrian records indicate that 27,290 Israelites were deported to the upper Tigris-Euphrates Valley. “Halah” was a city northeast of Nineveh. The “Habor” River was a northern tributary of the Euphrates. The cities of “the Medes” were northeast of Nineveh.

The Jews were carried off as far east as Susa, where the book of Esther later took place. God did exactly what He said He would do in Deuteronomy 28.