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Tiglath-Pileser

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(Heb. Tiglath'Pile'ser, פַּלְאֶסֶר תַּגְלִת, 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 16:10; or briefly Tiglath'Pele'ser, תַּגַלִת פֵּלֶסֶר, 2 Kings 16:7), or (less correctly) Til'gath- pilne'ser (Heb. Tilgath'Pilne'ser, תַּלַגִּת פַּלְנְאֶסֶר, 1 Chronicles 5:6; 2 Chronicles 28:20; or briefly Tilgath'Pilne'ser, תַּלְגִּת פַּלְנֶסֶר, 1. Chronicles 5, 26), an Assyriant king. The Sept. Graecizes the name θαλγαθφελλα σάρ (v.r. θαλγαλφελλασάρ, Ἀλγαθφελλασάρ, Ἀγλὰθ Φαλλασάρ ), Josephus, θεγλαφαλασσάρης (Ant. 9:12,. 3), and the Vulg. Theglath-Phalasar. The monumental name is, according to Rawlinson, Tukulti-pal-zira;. according to Oppert, Tuklat-pal-asar (i.e. assur); according to Hincks, Tiklat-pal-isri; according to others, Tigulti-pal-tsira. The signification of the name is somewhat doubtful. M. Oppert renders it, "Adoratio [sit] filio Zodiaci," and explains "the son of the Zodiac" as Nin, or Hercules (Expedition Scientifique en Mesopotamie, 2, 352). It would seem to signify "worship of the son of Assur," perhaps as a royal sobriquet. The Assyrian king of this name mentioned in Scripture is Tiglath-pileser II, an earlier king of the same name having ascended the Assyrian throne about B.C. 1130; of whose reign, or a portion of it, two cylinders are preserved in the British Museum (Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies, 2, 62- 79). We here condense all the information accessible, from whatever source, concerning the later monarch of this name.

1. Biblical Statements. Tiglathi-pi'eser is the second; Assyrian king mentioned in Scripture as having come into contact with the Israelites, the first being Put (q.v.). He attacked Samaria in the reign of Pekah (B.C. 756- 736), on what ground we are not told, but probably because Pekah had withheld his tribute, and, having entered his territories, took Ijon, and Abel-bethmaachah, and Janoah and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, and all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria" (2 Kings 15:29) thus "lightly afflicting the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali" (Isaiah 9:1) the most northern, and so the most exposed, portion of the country.. The date of this invasion cannot at present be fixed; but it was apparently many years afterwards that Tiglath-pileser made a second expedition into these parts, which had more important results than his former one. It appears that after the date of his first expedition a close league was formed between Rezin,-king of Syria, and Pekah, having for its special object the humiliation of Judaea, and intended to further generally the interests of the two allies. At first great successes were gained by Pekah and his confederate (2 Kings 15:37; 2 Chronicles 28:6-8); but on their proceeding to attack Jerusalem itself, and to threaten Ahaz, who was then king, with deposition from his throne, which they were about to give to a pretender, "the son of Tabeal" (Isaiah 7:6), the Jewish monarch applied to Assyria for assistance, and Tiglath-pileser, consenting to aid him, again appeared at the head of an army in these regions. He first marched, naturally, against Damascus, which he took (2 Kings 16:9), razing it (according to his own statement) to the ground, and killing Rezin, the Damascene monarch. After this, probably, he proceeded to chastise Pekah, whose country he entered on the northeast, where it bordered upon "Syria of Damascus." Here he overran the whole district to the east of Jordan, no longer "lightly afflicting" Samaria, but injuring her far "m more grievously, by the way of the sea, in Galilee of the Gentiles" (Isaiah 9:1), carrying into captivity "the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh" (1 Chronicles 5:26), who had previously held this country, and placing them in Upper Mesopotamia from Harran to about Nisibis (ibid.). Thus the result of this expedition was the absorption of the kingdom of Damascus, and of an important portion of Samaria, into the Assyrian empire; and it further brought the kingdom of Judah into the condition of a mere tributary and vassal of the Assyrian monarch.

Before returning into his own land, Tiglath-pileser had an interview with Ahaz at Damascus (2 Kings 16:10). Here, doubtless, was settled the amount of tribute which Judaea was to pay annually; and it may be suspected that here, too, it was explained to Ahaz by his suzerain that a certain deference to the Assyrian gods was due on the part of all tributaries, who were usually required to set up in their capital "the laws of Asshur," or "altars to the great gods." The "altar" which Ahaz "saw at Damascus," and of which he sent the pattern to Urijah the priest (2 Kings 16:10-11), has been conjectured to have been such a badge of subjection; but it seems to have been adopted only out of love for a prevalent fashion. This is all that Scripture tells us of Tiglath-pileser. He appears to have succeeded Pul, and to have been succeeded by Shalmaneser; to have been contemporary with Rezin, Pekah, and Ahaz; and therefore to have ruled Assyria during the latter half of the 8th century before our era. (See ASSYRIA).

2. Monumental Records. From his own inscriptions we learn that his reign lasted at least seventeen years; that, besides warring in Syria and Samaria, he attacked Babylonia, Media, Armenia, and the independent tribes in the upper regions of Mesopotamia, thus, like the other great Assyrian monarchs, warring along the whole frontier of the empire; and, finally, that he was (probably) not a legitimate prince, but a usurper and the founder of a dynasty. This last fact is gathered from the circumstance that, whereas the Assyrian kings generally glory in their ancestry, Tiglath-pileser omits all mention of his, not even recording his father's name upon his monuments. It accords remarkably with the statements of Berosus (in Euseb. Chronicles Song of Solomon 1, 4) and Herodotus (1, 95), that about this time, i.e. in the latter half of the 8th century B.C., there was a change of dynasty in Assyria, the old family, which had ruled for 520 (526) years, being superseded by another not long before the accession of Sennacherib. The authority of these two writers, combined with the monumental indications, justifies us in concluding that the founder of the lower dynasty or empire, the first monarch of the new kingdom, was the Tiglath-pileser of Scripture, whose date must certainly be about this time, and whose monuments show him to have been a self-raised sovereign. The exact date of the change cannot be positively fixed; but it is probably marked by the era of Nabonassar in Babylon, which synchronizes with B.C. 747. According to this view, Tiglath-pileser reigned certainly from B.C. 747 to 730, and possibly a few years longer, being succeeded by Shalmaneser at least as early as 725. In the Assyrian Chronological Canon, of which there are four copies in the British Museum, all more or less fragmentary, the reign of Tiglath-pileser seems to be reckoned at either sixteen or seventeen years (see Atheneum, No. 1812, p. 84). Rawlinson's latest computation places his accession in 744 (ibid. Aug. 23, 1863). (See SHALMANESER).

The circumstances under which Tiglath-pileser obtained the crown have not come down to us from any good authority; but there is a tradition on the subject which seems to deserve mention. Alexander Polyhistor, the friend of Sylla, who had access to the writings of Berosus, related that the first Assyrian dynasty continued from Ninus, its founder, to a certain belief (Pul), and that he was succeeded by Beletaras, a man of low rank, a mere vine-dresser (φυτουργός ), who had the charge of the gardens attached to the royal palace. Beletaras, he said, having acquired the sovereignty in an extraordinary way, fixed it in his own family, in which it continued to the time of the destruction of Nineveh (Fr. Hist. Gr. 3, 210). It can scarcely be doubted that Beletaras here is intended to represent Tiglath-pileser, Beltar being, in fact, another mode of expressing the native Pal-tsira or Palli-tsir (Oppert), which the Hebrews represented by Pileser. Whether there is any truth in the tradition may, perhaps, be doubted. It bears too near a resemblance to the Oriental stories of Cyrus, Gyges, Amasis, and others, to have in itself much claim to our acceptance. On the other hand, as above mentioned, it harmonizes with the remarkable fact-unparalleled in the rest of the Assyrian records that Tiglath-pileser is absolutely silent on the subject of his ancestry, neither mentioning his father's name nor making any allusion whatever to his birth, descent, or parentage.

Tiglath-pileser's wars do not generally appear to have been of much importance. In Armenia he reduced the rebel princes, and afterwards conquered the city of Arpad after a year's resistance. In Babylonia he took Sippara (Sepharvaim) and several places of less note in the northern portion of the country; but he does not seem to have penetrated far, or to have come into contact with Nabonassar, who reigned from B.C. 747 to 733 at Babylon. In Media and Upper Mesopotamia he obtained certain successes, but made no permanent conquests. It was on his western frontier only that his victories advanced the limits of the empire. Among the conquered cities appear to be reckoned Megiddo (Magidu) and Dor (Duru), both connected with Manasseh (Manatsuah). Before he left Syria, Tiglathpileser received submission, not only from Ahaz, but from the kings of the neighboring countries. He records his taking tribute from a king of Judah called Yahu-khazi-a name which might represent Jehoahaz; but, as shown by the chronology, it probably stands for Ahaz, whose name may have been changed by his Assyrian suzerain, as happened afterwards to Eliakim and Zedekiah (2 Kings 23:34; 2 Kings 24:17). The destruction of Damascus, the absorption of Syria, and the extension of Assyrian influence over Judaea are the chief events of Tiglath-pileser's reign, which seems to have had fewer external triumphs than those of most Assyrian monarchs. Probably his usurpation was not endured quite patiently, and domestic, troubles or dangers acted as a check upon his expeditions against foreign countries. No palace or great building can be ascribed to this king. His slabs, which are tolerably numerous, show that he must have built or adorned a residence at Calah (? Nimrid), where they were found; but, as they were not discovered in situ, we cannot say anything of the edifice to which they originally belonged. They bear marks of wanton defacement; and it is plain that the later kings purposely injured them; for, not only is the writing often erased, but the slabs have been torn down, broken, and used as building materials by Esar-haddon in the great palace which he erected at Calah, the southern capital. The dynasty of Sargon was hostile to the first two princes of the Lower Kingdom, and the result of their hostility is that we have far less monumental knowledge of Shalmaneser and Tiglath-pileser than of various kings of the Upper Empire. (See NINEVEH).

See Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies, 2, 127-132; Smith, Assyria from the Monuments, p. 77 sq. (Am. ed.); Journ. Sac. Lit. April, 1854, p. 253. (See ISRAEL, KINGDOM OF).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Tiglath-Pileser'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/t/tiglath-pileser.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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