Okay, so it's not really new, but it is new to me. From time to time I happen upon some new bit of evidence that supports the veracity of the Bible. Today, what I discovered has to do with the final decades of the nation of Israel (8th c. BC).
In 2 Kings, we are told of a gradual domination of Israel by the Assyrians. Phase 1 called for King Menahem of Israel to pay tribute to Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria. Scripturally, it is described in this way:
Then Pul [aka, Tiglath-Pileser] king of Assyria invaded the land, and Menahem gave him a thousand talents of silver to gain his support and strengthen his own hold on the kingdom. Menahem exacted this money from Israel. Every wealthy person had to contribute fifty shekels of silver to be given to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria withdrew and stayed in the land no longer. (2 Kings 15:19-21, NIV)
Not long after, when King Menahem died and his son was killed, King Pekah of Israel was confronted once again by the Assyrians. This time the invaders took captives and Hoshea conspired to take over Israel. Here is how that is described:
In the time of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maakah, Janoah, Kedesh and Hazor. He took Gilead and Galilee, including all the land of Naphtali, and deported the people to Assyria. Then Hoshea son of Elah conspired against Pekah son of Remaliah. He attacked and assassinated him, and then succeeded him as king in the twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah. (2 Kings 15:29-30, NIV)
Finally, because Hoshea did not fulfill his role as a puppet king, Shalmanesar V, who took over the Assyrian throne from his father Tiglath-Pileser, invaded Israel and dismantled it. The biblical record remembers it this way:
Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up to attack Hoshea, who had been Shalmaneser’s vassal and had paid him tribute. But the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was a traitor, for he had sent envoys to So king of Egypt, and he no longer paid tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore Shalmaneser seized him and put him in prison. The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes. (2 Kings 17:3-6, NIV)
So, what we have is a three-phase destruction of Israel. Phase 1: Tribute Only. Phase 2: Puppet King. Phase 3: Destruction and Mass Deportation. The question one might ask, however, is: "Did this really happen?" This is where my "discovery" comes in. And it has to do with what is preserved on stone tablets and ancient walls left by Assyrian leaders which speak of these same three phases. In other words, it is from these ancient sources that we find confirmation of the Bible's account.
Read for yourself how Tiglath-Pileser described Phase 1:
I received tribute from Kushtashpi of Commagene, Rezon of Damascus, Menahem of Samaria [the capital of Israel] . . . gold, silver, tin, iron, elephant-hides, ivory linen garments with multi-colored trimmings, blue-dyed wool, ebony-wood, boxwood-wood, whatever was precious (enough for a) royal treasure. (Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, J.B. Pritchard, 2011, pp. 264-265)
Tiglath-Pileser later goes on to describe Phase 2 -- the installation of Hoshea as the puppet king and the continued tribute:
Israel . . . overthrew their king Pekah and I placed Hosea as king over them. I received from them 10 talents of gold, 1,000 talents of silver as their [tri]bute and brought them to Assyria. (ANET, p. 265)
Finally, came Phase 3, which though initiated by Shalmaneser was claimed by Sargon II who deposed Shalmaneser in the year of Israel's fall. Sargon II recorded it this way:
I besieged and conquered Samaria, led away as booty 27,290 inhabitants of it. (ANET, p. 266)
So, again what is described is a three-phase dismantling of the sovereignty of Israel by Assyria. It is what the Bible says. It is what the record of the Assyrians tells us.
Okay, I admit I can be bit of a Bible nerd at times, but it seems to me that information like this is rather significant. There's a good chance that at some point you have heard the claim that the Bible is just a made-up book of stories. It may have even caused a few doubts to enter your mind. But there is no need for that. "Discoveries" like this are just waiting to be found. If you are willing to look.
To make your own discoveries, check out The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible by James M. Holden & Norman Geisler.
John likes to help people wrestle with the big questions of life in his work with Search Ministries. He served as a pastor in Houston for 16 years, earned his doctorate at Biola University, and is a contributing author of Reasons to Believe: Thoughtful Responses to Life’s Toughest Questions.