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The Untold Story of the Kingdom of Judah

(E2) The Untold Story of Judah’s Enslavement to Assyria

Prof. Oded Lipschits

King Ahaz came to power at the time when the Syro-Ephraimite alliance was formed, and it can be assumed that Rezin, King of Damascus, and Pekah, King of Israel, attacked Judah immediately upon his ascension to the throne, in order to take advantage of the fact that his position was not yet established, and in the hope that they would be able to force him to join the war or replace him with another king.
Ahaz turned out to be a wise, level-headed and determined king, and as one who maintained the traditional policy of the kings of Judah, who always advocated submission to the big and powerful kingdoms out of an assessment that Judah was too weak and too small to stand against these powerful forces, and would not be able to survive a strong military blow.
With the support of the prophet Isaiah, while standing against circles that supported joining the anti-Assyrian alliance and wanted to replace Ahaz with another king, Ahaz was smart to be wary of Assyria’s power, estimated that Assyria would defeat the Syro-Ephraimite alliance and realized that preventing Judah from rebelling against Assyria was the only possibility to maintain its independence and integrity. Indeed, in the face of the severe Assyrian damage to the Kingdom of Israel and the destruction of Damascus (732 BCE), Judah came out unscathed.
The Deuteronomistic historiographers condemned Ahaz’s enslavement to Tiglath-Pileser, since from the perspective from which the his description was written in the days of Josiah, when Assyria withdrew from the region and its hundred-year reign was now only a memory, the kings who let their people be enslaved to foreign kingdoms were slandered, and the kings who rebelled were praised. This memory of Ahaz, which was also embedded in places and objects in the temple that were associated with his name, underestimated the value of a brave and wise king, who reigned during one of the stormy periods that passed over the kingdom of Judah, during Assyria’s takeover of the entire area, managed to survive the attack by the Syro-Ephraimite alliance and protected the borders of his kingdom against the Assyrians. The archaeological finds in the Jerusalem's area also indicate a great change in the administration and economy that took place in the days of Ahaz, and this was also completely ignored by the authors of the historiographical

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