Nelson's Bible Dictionary


Prosperity and the Prophets. For both Israel and Judah the eighth century B.C. was marked by a period of prosperity. Jeroboam II (about 782 BC - 752 BC) was able to develop agriculture, trade, and commerce because the westward advance of Assyria compelled the Syrian armies to defend their eastern territories. In Judah, Uzziah (790 BC - 740 BC) raised the prosperity of the country to levels unknown since the time of David. In both nations there was a sense that the true "golden age" had arrived.

Unfortunately, however, idolatry and the rejection of covenant spirituality were prominent, especially in Israel. Prophets such as Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah spoke out against these abuses. They condemned the exploitation of the poor. They also rebuked the rich for accumulating land and wealth illegally, and for forsaking the simple Hebrew way of life for the luxurious living of pagan nations.

Fall of the Northern Kingdom. The end of all this for Israel occurred shortly after Jeroboam's death. The kingship was left to political opportunists. But they were dwarfed by the powerful Assyrian monarch Tiglath-Pileser III. About 745 BC he placed Menahem of Israel (752 BC - 741 BC) under tribute. But when Menahem died, Israel joined an alliance against Assyria.

Ahaz of Judah, alarmed by this move, appealed to Tiglath-Pileser for help. Tiglath-Pileser overthrew Damascus in 732 BC (Isa 8:4; 17:1; Amos 1:4). He then carried people from the territory of Naphtali captive to Assyria (2 Kings 15:29). But he still had to reckon with the resistance from Samaria under Pekah, whose murderer, Hoshea, was later made an Assyrian vassal.

On Tiglath-Pileser's death (727 BC), Hoshea of Israel rebelled. This brought the Assyrians to Samaria in a siege that ended three years later with the fall of Israel and the deportation of more northern tribesmen in 722 BC Isaiah's prediction that God would use Assyria as the rod of His anger upon Israel (Isa 10:5-6) had been fulfilled.

(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)