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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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—Biblical Data:

Last of the nineteen kings of Israel; son of Elah (2 Kings 15:30). Hoshea secured the throne through a conspiracy in which he was the leader, and which resulted in the assassination of Pekah, "in the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah" (2 Kings 17:1). He reigned nine years (ib.), and did that which was evil in the eyes of Yhwh, though not to the extent to which his predecessors had gone (2 Kings 17:2). Coming into conflict with Shalmaneser, King of Assyria, Hoshea was reduced to vassalage, and was forced to pay an annual tribute to his Assyrian conqueror (2 Kings 17:3). After a time, however, having negotiated an alliance with the Egyptian ruler So, he discontinued the tribute. This was taken as a sign of rebellion by the Assyrian monarch, and Hoshea, was seized and imprisoned (2 Kings 17:4). Samaria was besieged by the Assyrian forces, which, after three years, "in the ninth year of Hoshea," captured the city and carried its population into exile (2 Kings 17:6).

—Critical View (1):

The motives of Hoshea's policy are made intelligible by reference to the Assyrian documents and to the political conditions in western Asia reflected by them. Under See AHAZ, Judah had rendered allegiance to Tiglath-pileser III. of Assyria, while the Northern Kingdom under PEKAH, in league with Rezin of Damascus, had attempted to coerce the Judean king into joint action against Assyria (2 Kings 16:5; Isaiah 7:1-6). Tiglath-pileser, however, went to the aid of his ally (comp. 2 Kings 16:9). At this juncture Hoshea placed himself at the head of the Assyrian party in Samaria and removed Pekah by assassination; Tiglath-pileser rewarded Hoshea by making him king over Israel, or, rather, over EPHRAIM, then reduced to very small dimensions.

So long as Tiglath-pileser was on the throne Hoshea remained loyal; but when Shalmaneser IV. succeeded, he made an effort to regain his independence. In Egypt the Ethiopian dynasty had begun to reign, and Hoshea entered into negotiations with So (, probably more correctly vocalized as ), an underling of King Shabako (see Winckler, "Untersuchungen zur Altorientalischen Gesch." pp. 92-94; idem, in "Mittheilungen der Vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft," 1:5; Rogers, "Hist. of Babylonia and Assyria," 2:144; comp. Meyer, "Gesch. des Alten, Egyptens," pp. 343-346). Hoshea, probably misled by favorable promises on the part of the Ethiopian ruler of Egypt, discontinued paying tribute. Shalmaneser IV. soon interpreted this symptom, and directed his armies against Samaria. The details of the campaign are not known. It is likely that Hoshea, disappointed by the "broken reed" (="Egypt"; see Isaiah 20, 30:1-5, 31:1-3), endeavored to avert the calamity by resuming the payment of tribute, but that, distrusted, he was forced to fight, and was taken prisoner in battle (Hommel, "Gesch. Babyloniens und Assyriens," p. 675; Rogers, c.). The capital, though deprived of the ruler, made an effective defense, and Shalmaneser died before it was captured (comp. Winckler, in Schrader, "K. A. T." 3d ed., p. 268).

The chronology of Hoshea's reign is involved indifficulties. The Biblical statement in 2 Kings 15:30, giving the twentieth year of Jotham as the beginning of the reign, is to be dismissed either as due to a scribal error or as dating from the beginning of Jotham's reign. The "nine years" given Hoshea extend from 733, the year of Pekah's assassination, to 724, the year of Hoshea's capture and three years before the fall of Samaria. These dates, however, are not accepted by all modern scholars (see Hommel, c. pp. 964 et seq.; idem, "Assyria," in Hastings, "Dict. Bible"; Tiele, "Babylonisch-Assyrische Gesch. "1:232; Winckler, "Gesch. Babyloniens und Assyriens," p. 230). References to the events of Hoshea's reign are found in Hosea xi- and Isaiah 28

E. G. H.
I. M. P.

—Critical View (2):

This last king of Israel appears on the Assyrian monuments as "Ausi(a)." The statement of 2 Kings 17:1 that he ascended the throne in the twelfth year of Ahaz must be dismissed as unhistorical. Hoshea became king in 733 (or in 734); for when Assyria came to the rescue of Ahaz against Rezin of Damascus and Pekah of Israel, the last-named was assassinated and Hoshea appointed or confirmed as king by Tiglath-pileser III. (Schrader, "K. A. T." 2d ed., p. 475; idem, "K. B." 2:32). From 2 Kings 15:29,30 and 17:3-6 it would appear that Hoshea had rebelled twice against Assyria. This at first glance is highly improbable. He had been the leader of the pro-Assyrian party and owed his throne to Tiglath-pileser III. It is reasonable to infer that the death of this monarch brought about the change in Hoshea's relations to the Assyrian suzerain, and induced him to look for foreign allies to enable him to throw off the burden of the annual tribute, which must have been a terrible drain on the people (comp. Hosea 5:11-13).

Winckler first attempted to separate the Biblical passages quoted above into two parallel accounts of one event, in order to eliminate the assumption of two uprisings with refusal of tribute under Shalmaneser. Kittel ("Die Bücher der Könige" on 2 Kings 17:3) meets the difficulty by omitting Shalmaneser as a later gloss. Under Tiglath-pileser, Hoshea paid the annual tribute; after that ruler's death, he regarded, contrary to Hosea's warning, the political conditions as favorable for declaring himself independent.

According to 2 Kings 17:4, So, King of Egypt, was the monarch from whom Hoshea expected effective assistance. Generally this So (or Sewe = Assyrian "Sib'e") is identified with Shabako, the Ethiopian, who at the time controlled the destinies of Egypt. Winckler makes him a prince or vassal prince or even a general of the North-Arabian empire of Muá¹£ri ("Mitt. der Vorderas. Ges." 1898, p. 5), and contends that in this anti-Assyrian movement, in which also Tyre had a share, the last effort was made on the part of the Arabic commercial states to gain control of Palestine, and thus to shut out Assyria from the Arabo-Indian commerce, for which possession of the Mediterranean ports was of vital importance (Schrader, "K. A. T." 3d ed., pp. 268 et seq.).

Hoshea's attempt, whoever were his supporters, failed. In 725 B.C. Shalmaneser invaded Israel. Hoshea must have surrendered to him at once. This would give nine years to his reign. He was blinded (read instead of the tautological in 2 Kings 17:4), and was led away a prisoner. The three years' siege of Samaria is not to be counted as part of his reign.

The assumption that Hoshea's wickedness was less than his predecessors' (2 Kings 17:2) is probably an afterthought (if it is not due to a corruption of the original text; see Lucian's recension of LXX.). Possibly his earlier fidelity to Assyria, which was regarded by the prophetic party as God's predestined instrument, may underly the conception of his (by comparison) less censurable impiety (ISAIAH).

E. G. H.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Hoshea'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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