When Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel, finally fell to an Assyrian siege in 722 BC (2 Kings 17.5-6), the Israelites fell into the hands of one of the cruelest, most feared empires of the ancient world. The atrocities of the Assyrians were legendary. Ancient records indicate that they not only burned cities, but burned children, impaled captives on stakes, beheaded prisoners, or tortured them by chopping off legs and hands. Nevertheless, God used “Assyria, the rod of My anger” (Isaiah 10.5) to discipline His people for their stubborn commitment to the practice of idolatry.
- The Assyrian kings who besieged, conquered, and exiled Israel:Tiglath-pileser III began the campaign against Israel.
- Shalmaneser V captured Samaria following a three-year siege and began the deportation of Israel to Assyria.
- Sargon II completed the deportation.
Sennacherib invaded Judah and set siege to Jerusalem. One night during the siege the angel of the LORD passed over the encampment and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Sennacherib returned home defeated and was assassinated by his own sons (2 Kings 19.35-37).