ho she´a (הושׁע, hoshea‛, “salvation”; 2Ki_17:1-9):
1. A Satrap of Assyria
Son of Elah, the 19th and last king of Israel. The time was one of social revolution and dynastic change. Of the last five kings of Israel, four had met their deaths by violence. Hoshea himself was one of these assassins (2Ki_15:30), and the nominee of Tiglath-pileser III, whose annals read, “Pekah I slew, Hoshea I appointed over them.” Though called king, Hoshea was thus really a satrap of Assyria and held his appointment only during good behavior. The realm which he administered was but the shadow of its former self. Tiglath-pileser had already carried into captivity the northern tribes of Zebulun, Naphtali, Asher and Dan; as also the two and a half tribes east of the Jordan (2Ki_15:29). Apart from those forming the kingdom of Judah, there remained only Ephraim, Issachar, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
2. The Reduced Kingdom of Israel
Isaiah refers to the fall of Syria in the words, “Damascus is taken away from being a city” (Isa_17:1), and to the foreign occupations of Northern Israel in the words, “He brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali … by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations” (Isa_9:1).
3. Hosea and Ephraim
But Hosea is the prophet in whose writings we see most clearly the reflection of the politics of the day, and the altered condition of things in Israel. In the 2nd division of his and book, chapters 4 through 14, Hosea deals with a state of things which can only be subsequent to the first great deportation of Israelites, and therefore belongs to the reigns of Pekah and Hoshea. The larger part of the nation being removed, he addresses his utterances no longer to all Israel, but to Ephraim, the chief of the remaining tribes. This name he uses no less than 35 t, though not to the total exclusion of the term “Israel,” as in Hos_11:1, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him,” the whole nation in such cases being meant. Of the 35 uses of “Ephraim,” the first is, “Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone” (Hos_4:17), and the last, “Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?” (Hos_14:8), showing that, in the prophet’s estimation, the idolatrous worship of Yahweh, as associated with the golden calves of Dan and Bethel, lay at the root of the nation’s calamities.
4. Hosea’s Dependent Position
Over this shrunken and weakened kingdom – corresponding generally with the Samaritan district of the New Testament – Hoshea was placed as the viceroy of a foreign power. The first official year of his governorship was 729, though he may have been appointed a few months earlier. Tiglath-pileser III died in 727, so that three years’ tribute was probably paid to Nineveh. There was, however, a political party in Samaria, which, ground down by cruel exactions, was for making an alliance with Egypt, hoping that, in the jealousy and antipathies of the two world-powers, it might find some relief or even a measure of independence. Hosea, himself a prophet of the north, allows us to see beneath the surface of court life in Samaria. “They call unto Egypt, they go to Assyria” (Hos_7:11), and again, “They make a covenant with Assyria, and oil is carried into Egypt” (Hos_12:1). This political duplicity from which it was the king’s prime duty to save his people, probably took its origin about the time of Tiglath-pileser’s death in 727.
5. His Treasonable Action
That event either caused or promoted the treasonable action, and the passage of large quantities of oil on the southward road was an object-lesson to be read of all men. On the accession of Shalmaneser IV – who is the Shalmaneser of the Bible (2Ki_17:3; 2Ki_18:9) – Hoshea would seem to have carried, or sent, the annual tribute for 726 to the treasury at Nineveh (2Ki_17:3). The text is not clear as to who was the bearer of this tribute, but from the statement that Shalmaneser came up against him, and Hoshea became his servant, it may be presumed that the tribute for the first year after Tiglath-pileser’s death was at first refused, then, when a military demonstration took place, was paid, and obedience promised. In such a case Hoshea would be required to attend at his suzerain’s court and do homage to the sovereign.
6. His Final Arrest
This is what probably took place, not without inquiry into the past. Grave suspicions were thus aroused as to the loyalty of Hoshea, and on these being confirmed by the confession or discovery that messengers had passed to “So king of Egypt,” and the further withholding of the tribute (2Ki_17:4), Hoshea was arrested and shut up in prison. Here he disappears from history. Such was the ignominious end of a line of kings, not one of whom had, in all the vicissitudes of two and a quarter centuries, been in harmony with theocratic spirit, or realized that the true welfare and dignity of the state lay in the unalloyed worship of Yahweh.
7. Battle of Beth-Arbel
With Hoshea in his hands, Shalmaneser’s troops marched, in the spring or summer of 725, to the completion of Assyria’s work in Palestine. Isaiah has much to say in his 10th and 11th chapters on the divinely sanctioned mission of “the Assyrian” and of the ultimate fate that should befall him for his pride and cruelty in carrying out his mission. The campaign was not a bloodless one. At Beth-arbel – at present unidentified – the hostile forces met, with the result that might have been expected. “Shalman spoiled Beth-arbel in the day of battle” (Hos_10:14). The defeated army took refuge behind the walls of Samaria, and the siege began. The city was well placed for purposes of defense, being built on the summit of a lonely hill, which was Omri’s reason for moving the capital from Tirzah (1Ki_16:24). It was probably during the continuance of the siege that Isaiah wrote his prophecy, “Woe to the crown of pride of the drunkards of Ephraim,” etc. (Isa 28), in which the hill of Samaria with its coronet of walls is compared to a diadem of flowers worn in a scene of revelry, which should fade and die. Micah’s elegy on the fall of Samaria (chapter 1) has the same topographical note, “I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will uncover the foundations thereof” (Mic_1:6).
8. Fall of Samaria in 721
Shalmaneser’s reign was one of exactly five years, December, 727 to December, 722, and the city fell in the 1st month of his successor’s reign. The history of its fall is summarized in Sargon’s great Khorsabad inscription in these words, “Samaria I besieged, I captured. 27,290 of her inhabitants I carried away. 50 chariots I collected from their midst. The rest of their property I caused to be taken.”
9. Hoshea’s Character
Hoshea’s character is summed up in the qualified phrase, “He did evil in the sight of the Lord, yet not as the kings of Israel that were before him.” The meaning may be that, while not a high-principled man or of irreproachable life, he did not give to the idolatry of Bethel the official sanction and prominence which each of his 18 predecessors had done. According to Hos_10:6 the golden calf of Samaria was to be taken to Assyria, to the shame of its erstwhile worshippers.
shal-ma-ne´zer (שׁלמנאסר, shalman’eser; Septuagint Σαμεννάσαρ, Samennásar, Σαλμανάσαρ, Salmanásar): The name of several Assyrian kings. It is Shalmaneser V who is mentioned in the Biblical history (2Ki_17:3; 2Ki_18:9). He succeeded Tiglathpileser on the throne in 727 BC, but whether he was a son of his predecessor, or a usurper, is not apparent. His reign was short, and, as no annals of it have come to light, we have only the accounts contained in 2 Kings for his history. In the passages referred to above, we learn that Hoshea, king of Israel, who had become his vassal, refused to continue the payment of tribute, relying upon help from So, king of Egypt. No help, however, came from Egypt, and Hoshea had to face the chastising forces of his suzerain with his own unaided resources, the result being that he was taken prisoner outside Samaria and most likely carried away to Nineveh. The Biblical narrative goes on to say that the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it 3 years. There is reason to believe that, as the siege of Samaria was proceeding, Shalmaneser retired to Nineveh and died, for, when the city was taken in 722 BC, it is Sargon who claims, in his copious annals, to have captured it and carried its inhabitants into captivity. It is just possible that Shalman (Hos_10:14) is a contraction for Shalmaneser, but the identity of Shalman and of Beth-arbel named in the same passage is not sufficiently made out.
(Modern scholars think Shalmaneser did in fact complete the conquest of Samaria, but Sargon his successor claimed the victory for himself.)
All the land – The second invasion of Shalmaneser (726 B.C., his second year), is here contrasted with the first, as extending to the whole country, whereas the first had afflicted only a part.
Three years – From the fourth to the sixth of Hezekiah, and from the seventh to the ninth of Heshea; two years, therefore, according to our reckoning, but three, according to that of the Hebrews. This was a long time for so small a place to resist the Assyrians but Samaria was favorably situated on a steep hill; probably Sabaco made some attempts to relieve his vassal; the war with Tyre must have distracted Shalmaneser; and there is reason to believe that before the capture was effected a revolt had broken out at Nineveh which must have claimed Shalmaneser’s chief attention, though it did not induce him to abandon his enterprise.
The king of Assyria took Samaria – i. e., from the Assyrian inscriptions, not Shalmaneser but Sargon, who claims to have captured the city in the first year of his reign (721 B.C.). At first Sargon carried off from Samaria no more than 27,280 prisoners and was so far from depopulating the country that he assessed the tribute on the remaining inhabitants at the same rate as before the conquest. But later in his reign he effected the wholesale deportation here mentioned.
Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan – Rather, “on the Habor, the river of Gozan.” Halah is the tract which Ptolemy calls Chalcitis, on the borders of Gauzanitis (Gozan) in the vicinity of the Chaboras, or Khabour (Habor, the great affluent of the Euphrates). In this region is a remarkable mound called Gla, which probably marks the site, and represents the name, of the city of Chalach, from where the district Chalcitis was so called.
In the cities of the Medes – Sargon relates that he overran Media, seized and “annexed to Assyria” a number of the towns, and also established in the country a set of fortified posts or colonies.
The reasons for which God suffered the Israelites to be deprived of their land and carried into captivity were:
1. their idolatries;
2. their rejection of the Law;
3. their disregard of the warning voices of prophets and seers.
Idolatry was worse in the Israelites than in other nations, since it argued not merely folly and a gross carnal spirit, but also black ingratitude Exo_20:2-3. The writer subdivides the idolatries of the Israelites into two classes, pagan and native – those which they adopted from the nations whom they drove out, and those which their own kings imposed on them. Under the former head would come the great mass of the idolatrous usages described in 2Ki_17:9-11, 2Ki_17:17; “the high places” 2Ki_17:9, 2Ki_17:11; the “images” and “groves” 2Ki_17:10; the causing of their children to “pass through the fire” 2Ki_17:17; and the “worship of the host of heaven” 2Ki_17:16 : under the latter would fall the principal points in 2Ki_17:12, 2Ki_17:16, 2Ki_17:21.
Which they had made – “Which” refers to “statutes.” The lsraelites had “walked in the statutes of the pagan, and in those of the kings of Israel, which (statutes) they (the kings) had made.”
Literally, the words run thus – “And the children of Israel concealed (or ‘dissembled’) words which were not so concerning the Lord their God;” the true meaning of which probably is, the Israelites cloaked or covered their idolatry with the pretence that it was a worship of Yahweh: they glossed it over and dissembled toward God, instead of openly acknowledging their apostasy.
From the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city – This phrase was probably a proverbial expression for universality, meaning strictly; “alike in the most populous and in the most desolate regions.” “Towers of watchmen” were built for the protection of the flocks and herds which were pastured in waste and desert places 2Ch_26:10; 2Ch_27:4.
God raised up a succession of prophets and seers, who repeated and enforced the warnings of the Law, and breathed into the old words a new life. Among this succession were, in Israel, Ahijah the Shilonite 1Ki_14:2, Jehu the son of Hanani 1Ki_16:1, Elijah, Micaiah the son of Imlah 1Ki_22:8, Elisha, Jonah the son of Amittai 2Ki_14:25, Oded 2Ch_28:9, Amos, and Hosea; in Judah, up to this time, Shemaiah 2Ch_11:2; 2Ch_12:5, Iddo 2Ch_12:15; 2Ch_13:22, Azariah the son of Oded 2Ch_15:1, Hanani 2Ch_16:7, Jehu his son 2Ch_19:2, Jahaziel the son of Zechariah 2Ch_20:14, Eliezer the son of Dodavah (2Ch_20:37), Zechariah the son of Jehoiada 2Ch_24:20, another Zechariah 2Ch_26:5, Joel, Micah, and Isaiah, besides several whose names are not known. Some of these persons are called “prophets,” others “seers.” Occasionally, the same person has both titles (as Iddo and Jehu the son of Hanani), which seems to show that there was no very important distinction between them.
Probably the conjecture is right that “prophet” נביא nâbîy’ in strictness designates the official members of the prophetical order only, while “seer” חזה chôzeh is applicable to all, whether members of the order or not, who receive a prophetical revelation.
To “harden” or “stiffen the neck” is a common Hebrew expression significative of unbending obstinacy and determined self-will. See the marginal references.
As idols are “vanity” and “nothingness,” mere weakness and impotence, so idolators are “vain” and impotent. Their energies have been wasted, their time misspent; they have missed the real object of their existence; their whole life has been a mistake; and the result is utter powerlessness. Literally, the word rendered “vanity” seems to mean “breath” or “vapor” – a familiar image for nonentity. It occurs frequently in the prophets, and especially in Jeremiah (e. g. Jer_2:5; Jer_8:19; Jer_14:22, etc.).
2Ki 17:18 Judah only – And the greatest part of the tribe of Benjamin, with those of the tribes of Simeon and Levi who were incorporated with them.
This verse and the next are parenthetical. Here again, as in 2Ki_17:13, the writer is led on from his account of the sins and punishment of the Israelites to glance at the similar sins and similar punishment of the Jews.
It was the worst reproach which could be urged against any Jewish king, that he “walked in the way of the kings of Israel” 2Ki_8:18; 2Ki_16:3; 2Ch_21:6; 2Ch_28:2. The Baal worship is generally the special sin at which the phrase is leveled; but the meaning here seems to be wider. Compare Mic_6:16.
All the seed of lsrael – The Jews, i. e. as well as the Israelites. God’s dealings with both kingdoms were alike. “Spoilers” were sent against each, time after time, before the final ruin came on them – against Israel, Pul and Tiglath-pileser 2Ki_15:19, 2Ki_15:29; 1Ch_5:26; against Judah, Sennacherib 2Ki_18:13-16, Esar-haddon 2Ch_33:11, and Nebuchadnezzar thrice.