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"Defend your clan, even with your life." - Warrior code, Warrior cats novel series

More Blog Posts222

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Apr
16th
2018

The Syro-Ephraimite War · 4:47am Apr 16th, 2018

I've been thinking about this conflict, which is recorded in the Bible, and I've been thinking about making a blog about this event.

So, you might be thinking, "what was the Syro Ephraimite War (also known as the Syro-Ephraimite Crisis)?" This was the war recorded in 2 Kings 16, 2 Chronicles 28, and Isaiah 7. King Rezin of Aram (Syria) and King Pekah of the northern kingdom of Israel invaded the southern kingdom of Judah, then ruled by the infamous King Ahaz. The reason for the invasion is not specifically stated, but historians generally believe (with good reason) that it was prompted by the rising power of Assyria, then under King Tiglath-Pileser III. Israel and Aram, though traditionally enemies, realized that they could not defeat Assyria alone, and sought to create a coalition; a similar coalition had defeated or stalemated the Assyrians over a century earlier at the Battle of Qarqar (Assyrian claims of victory there seem to be fabrications, given that they failed to make any significant progress toward the Mediterranean for at least four years afterward) in 853 BC (in which King Ahab of Israel is noted, in ancient non-biblical sources, to have brought 2,000 chariots and 10,000 infantry).

The main problem was that King Ahaz adamantly refused to join the anti-Assyrian coalition. Judah may not have been at its most powerful, but it may have had significant strength. Israel and Aram, in their rebellion against Assyria (both were, or had been, Assyrian vassals), decided to launch an invasion of Judah, hoping to replace the uncooperative Ahaz with the "son of Tabeal" (Isaiah 7:6), a member of the Judean aristocracy.

https://i0.wp.com/www.joeledmundanderson.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/SyroEphraimite-Crisis.jpg

(I apologize for the poor rendering. If you need to, please open the image in a new tab and zoom in, or please click on the link and then zoom in.)

Judah, according to 2 Chronicles 28:5-6, suffered a massive battlefield defeat. If I had to guess whether this was an effort to halt the coalition advance or an effort to relieve Jerusalem, I can't be sure, but I'd wager it was the former. The coalition then besieged Jerusalem, but were unable to capture it. 2 Chronicles 28:17-18 note that Judah was also invaded by the Philistines and the Edomites at this time, who took territory and captives. Both Kings and Chronicles treat this invasion as punishment for disobedience to God's Law.

At this point, the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 7:4) told King Ahaz not to fear the invaders, stating that God would not allow the allied forces to prevail, also predicting the Immanuel Prophecy in the King's hearing (Isaiah 7:13-15) before stating that both Israel and Aram (otherwise known as Syria) would be destroyed (Isaiah 7:16). Isaiah's first son (Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, "Swift to the spoil, quick to the plunder.") would be named in prediction of the fall of both the coalition kingdoms to Assyria.

However, King Ahaz typically refused to heed, sending a massive bribe to Assyria, including treasures from the Temple (2 Kings 16:7-8), and offered it to Tiglath-Pileser III, asking for assistance.

Here, people may think there is a contradiction in the Bible, because 2 Kings makes it clear that Assyria invaded Aram at this time (as do non-biblical sources), destroying Damascus and executing King Rezin in 733 BC. 2 Chronicles 28:17-18, however, claims that the Assyrian King did not help. The writer of Chronicles is familiar with history as it was at the time, and expected his readers to be aware of 2 Kings. The main thing to know is that, while Tiglath-Pileser did invade Aram and destroy it, it was not for Judah's benefit; Judah would shortly thereafter become an Assyrian vassal, and the bribe gave the Assyrian ruler an extra excuse to attack and gain power for himself. Indeed, during King Hezekiah's time, Assyria directly invaded Judah and carried off, according to Assyrian sources, 200,150 people and, according to Assyrian King Sennacherib, "...Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage." While this invasion was annihilated by the direct intervention of God (Who sent an angel to obliterate, possibly by plague, the invading army), it was partly a result of Ahaz's earlier actions as King of Judah. His son had to deal with the devil he, Ahaz, had bargained with. TLDR, asking Assyria to help in this situation was like making a pact with the devil; short-term gain, massive long term loss. Judah would pay dearly for asking for Assyrian assistance, even if that payment was not immediate.

With Aram destroyed, King Pekah apparently abandoned his invasion. Unfortunately, while Judah was momentarily rescued, no such good came of either of the coalition kingdoms. Aram was destroyed, and Pekah of Israel would be assassinated and replaced by King Hoshea, who was for a while compliant with the Assyrian overlords before attempting to rebel and being arrested. The Northern Kingdom, after a siege of Samaria lasting three years, was destroyed in 722 BC.

The Syro-Ephraimite War was a significant event in the Bible. It hastened the destruction of Aram, Israel, and Judah. In purely military terms, the war was a loss for the three smaller kingdoms, and a major gain for Assyria. By focusing their efforts on invading Judah, Aram and Israel were left relatively defenseless back home. Israel's population would be deported and scattered as a result of Hoshea's rebellion. The ultimate cause of Israel and Judah's destruction was disobedience to God, Who, it must be noted, waited for hundreds of years for these kingdoms to change their ways and rescuing them numerous times before finally punishing them. The eventual result was the Babylonian Captivity from 605 (with further deportations in 597 and 587 BC) to 538 BC. Fortunately, that story would have a happy ending with the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel in 538 BC under Cyrus the Great of Persia, with a renewed effort (detailed in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah) to follow God and rebuild the Temple and Jerusalem.

Thank you for reading. May God go with you all.

Sources;

The Bible (Zondervan NASB Study Bible)
The Syro-Ephraimite War: Context, Conflict, and Consequences, by Vann D. Rolfson
Wikipedia
Google Images (google "Syro-Ephraimite War)
Gotquestions.org

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Comments ( 3 )

You've gone it down, son :rainbowderp:

I very much enjoyed this piece of history. Always good to learn something knew.

I know this is a late post, but do you think what happened then, might be in some connected to the conflict in Syria today?

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