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2.9.2 - Fall of Israel (Northern Kingdom)

Assyrian Archers

Assyrian Archers


For most of the period of the divided kingdom, the sins of the northern kingdom are the more flagrant of the two kingdoms. Golden calves (idols) are set up in the northern kingdom as a substitute for the proscribed worship of God which was to take place in Jerusalem within the southern kingdom (1K. 11:27-29). Some of the rulers of the northern kingdom were particularly evil (e.g., Omri, Ahab, cf. 1K. 16:25, 30).

After many years of rule characterized by idolatry and disobedience to God, the northern kingdom fell to Assyria (2K. 17:5-23).2 Many from the ten northern tribes were taken captive and the Assyrians imported people from foreign regions and resettled them in the place of the northern kingdom.3

The fall of the northern kingdom of Israel to Assyria was intended to serve as a warning to the southern kingdom of Judah that God’s judgment would not be withheld indefinitely (Jer. 3:8-11; 7:15; Eze. 16:46-55; 23:1-21, 31-49). Unfortunately, this fearful demonstration of God’s judgment largely fell on deaf ears and the southern kingdom continued in disobedience. It would appear that those in the southern kingdom believed that the throne of David and Jerusalem were both so special to God that it was inconceivable that He would also overthrow Judah. Events of history would soon prove otherwise.


1 Relief depicting Assyrian archers attacking a besieged city, most likely in Mesopotamia. An Assyrian soldier holds a large shield to protect two archers as they take aim. From the Central Palace in Nimrud and now in the British Museum, London. Circa 728 BC. Image courtesy of ChrisO. Image is in the public domain.

2 Most scholars give this date as 722 B.C. Jones believes this is an erroneous date based upon the faulty Assyrian Eponym list. He prefers a biblically-derived date of 740 B.C. [Floyd Nolen Jones, Chronology of the Old Testament: A Return to Basics, 4th ed. (The Woodlands, TX: KingsWord Press, 1993, 1999), 81n1]

3 Prior to the fall of the northern kingdom to Assyria, many from among the ten northern tribes emigrated south to the kingdom of Judah. Thus, the ten tribes were not lost. “It must be noted that even though the Kingdom of Israel had been terminated and all but the poorest of its people carried away from the land and resettled in the farthest regions of the Assyrian Empire back in B.C. 721 (2K. 17; 18:9-12), Judah had long before become a truly ‘representative’ Kingdom. On several occasions, mass emigrations of people from all the tribes left the northern kingdom and went down to live in the southern kingdom (2Chr. 11:1, 13-17; 12:1, 6; 15:8-9; 35:17-19). In this manner, the Kingdom of Judah became not only heavily populated, but around a century after the fall of Samaria, capital of the northern realm, members of all the tribes of Israel were still said to be living there (2Chr. 35:17-19).”—Jones, Chronology of the Old Testament: A Return to Basics, 4th ed., 139. For additional information concerning the migrations of the ten tribes to the southern kingdom, see [Anthony C. Garland, A Testimony of Jesus Christ : A Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Vol. 2 (Rev. 15-22) (Camano Island, WA:, 2004), 4.17].

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