Sometimes They Come Back
An Investigative look into the Assyrian invasion and deportation of the Ten Tribes of Israel.
by Cam Rea (Kendallville, Indiana)
O, Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. (Isaiah 10:5)
Not a bad way to start an introduction. This article you are about to read is based mainly on the Histories of Assyria, and Israel, from the mid 8th to the 7th century BCE. What this article will provide is a better understanding of the political and spiritual issues, that are associated with Assyria and Israel. As well as the social issues concerning the deportation of the Ten Tribes of Israel. We will discuss Assyria’s policy towards captives. We shall also look into where the Ten Tribes were placed, and take a look at the regions they were placed in. I will try to provide the best answers for this topic you are about to read. I also want to point out that there are many facts in this article, and just as many speculations. Not everything in this article should be considered factual. Remember we are dealing with a history that at times appears to be silent. I hope all who read this article also enjoys it. I also hope that those who read this article can build from it. This article is not the complete definitive answer on the subject, just a small piece of it.
Rebirth of Assyria:
The year 745 BCE. The event, the Northern Ten Tribes, and much of the Middle east, were about to become dissembled by the powerful Assyrian Empire under their king Tiglath-pileser III also known as Pul in (1 Chronicles 5:26). Tiglath-pileser III is regarded as the founder of the second Assyrian empire. The origins of Tiglath-pileser are obscure and we do not know his real name for sure, but it may have been Pul. We shall discuss the name Pul later. The name Tiglath-pileser is a name he took once he ascended the throne. What we can say is that he must have been a charismatic man with the ability to lead, and because of this he was able to seize the crown of Assyria, and unite the warring factions into a single unit, and provide a network of security and trade within the empire. That would one day extend to those he conquered, or made into vassals attached to the Assyrian empire. What we have here is what the History Channel would call Man, Moment, and Machine. The moment was now for Assyria. All one has to do is look in the bible and realize that Assyria had no outside threats. The Hittites, and Egyptians, are a shell of their former glory, and imposed no threat to the Assyrian borders. The once United Kingdom of Israel under King David, and King Solomon, was divided and to busy fighting amongst themselves, and worshiping other gods they knew not before. Syria was not even a threat. Phoenicia was unstable on land, and had no real standing army other then those they relied on. The rest of the smaller tribal groups were mere principalities, or city states similar to Phoenicia. From the view that 1 & 2 Kings gives us, as well as 1 & 2 Chronicles, one could easily say the Middle East was easy to take because it was so fragmented. The Machine was the powerful Assyrian army. Tiglath-pileser III rejuvenated the Assyrian army by changing the methods in which it used to be conducted. In the past Assyria relied on their provincial governors to supply the army. Military forces were really provincial militias made up of your typical workforce, and the only permanent army was the royal guards. What Tiglath-pileser III did was reorganize the army into a permanent standing fighting force that over time became a professional army. By creating a permanent army, Tiglath-pileser III had a tighter control on his Kingdom due to the fact that the army was loyal to him, and not to provincial governors that provided the army temporally. Because of this, Tiglath-pileser III transformed the population back into a model military society based on war and expansion, and to quench the thirst of their rejuvenated philosophy, which was the worship of war.
Like a lion on the Serengeti, Assyria represented the lion, and the Serengeti represented the Middle East. Tiglath-pileser IIIs first footstep outside of Assyria stained the desert floor blood red. I’m not joking!
None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken: Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind: Isaiah 5:27-28
In order to secure his holdings, Tiglath-pileser III sent his new professional army to secure his empire by attacking the upstart Syrian-Urartu alliance that posed a potential threat as they had in the past. Tiglath-pileser III Led his forces towards the Aramaean Syrian tribes which had always given Assyria trouble. Powerful Aramaean tribes had invaded the Kingdom of Babylonia from the south, taken the cities of Sippar and Dur-Kurigalzu, undermined the Babylonian way of life, as well as threatening to destabilize Assyria’s power, influence, and prestige they had done to that of Babylonia. Because of this, the weakened state of Babylonia needed a champion. Assyria’s hatred for the troublesome Aramaeans gave them the reason to strike, and to reestablish their rule over Babylonia. Tiglath-pileser III would go on pushing further south for sometime, winning battle after battle with his new army. Gaining ever more confidence after each engagement with the enemy before turning east and crossing the Tigris River. While on the east side of the Tigris, Tiglath-pileser III began attacking along the mountains of Elam, taking many nomadic tribes captive. He then turned westward crossing the Tigris, and began his assault on the Aramaeans till he pushed them out of the cities of Sippar, and Dur-Kurigalzu, and continued to push south till he reached Nippur, an ancient city of Babylon, before turning back. The people of Babylon looked to Tiglath-pileser III as the savior of Babylonia which in turn did not bode well for Nabonassar, the King of Babylon. Tiglath-pileser III began by setting up a new government in Babylonia and placing the kingdom under the suzerainty of Assyria. Never before had Babylonia been under the complete rule of Assyria. Thus Nabonassar became a mere vassal king, a symbol of state and not power. While the real King was Tiglath-pileser III, the conqueror and savior of Babylonia.
1 Chronicles 5:26 And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day.
Before we go on, the name “Pul” or “Pulu” has significant meaning. 1 Chronicles 5:26 is the first time we hear a mention of Pul and Tiglath-pileser III. It seems that even the Bible indicates that Tiglath-pileser III invaded Babylon before he conquered the northern Kingdom of Israel, and that the name Pul that is mentioned was possibly his real name. When God says he stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, what we have here is an anachronism. Two different things that represent the same thing, or in this case the same person, and what I mean is that Tiglath-pileser III took the hand of Bel (Marduk the supreme God of Babylonia), and by taking Marduk’s hand Tiglath-pileser III was thus proclaiming himself the son of God in the city of Hammurabi on New Year’s Day. He renamed himself Pul or Pulu, and was proclaimed King of Babylon. We can say that by this very act Tiglath-pileser III was proclaiming himself a Priestly-King, or a type of Messiah. This shows that the intention of Tiglath-pileser III was to unite the military, and spiritual power together into one entity. Pul represents the spiritual crown, and Tiglath-pileser represents the military crown. Tiglath-pileser wanted a one world empire. Now some may debate this, and say he took this title Pul or Pulu the year before he died. This is not true. It’s recorded twice that he took the oath; and in Babylonian tradition, a King had to take Marduk’s hand every year on New Year’s to be the King of Babylonia. We also have to remember that he invaded Babylonia to free them from the Syrian threat, while at the same time making the King of Babylonia a mere vassal while the real king was Tiglath-pileser III. Now I don’t want to get off track, but I thought it might help to clarify who Tiglath-pileser III is, and why the name Pul is mentioned in the same sentence.
After securing Babylon and driving out the Aramaean raiders. Tiglath-pileser III was to turn his army loose on the known world. His first campaign of aggression would be against Northern Syria an ally of Urartu. Urartu was a rival to Assyria, and at the time was gaining much influence over the former vassals of Assyria. This posed a threat to Assyria. Because of the threat it imposed on the weakened state of Assyria Tiglath-pileser III decided it was time to take action, and to restore the right of Assyria’s might. Tiglath-pileser III didn’t want to take the chance of invading Urartu head on. The Kingdom of Urartu was located on a mountainous plateau of what is today eastern Turkey, and Armenia, and leads up into the Caucasus Mountains with Lake Van in the middle of the kingdom. It would have been difficult for the Assyrian army to invade head on. This may indicate that the Assyrian army wasn’t built for mountainous warfare. Tiglath-pileser III knew that he had to either conquer them, or to beat them so badly that he could come back later and finish the job. The Kingdom of Urartu would be no joke for Assyria.
Tiglath-pileser III assembled his army, crossed the Euphrates, and headed for Northern Syria to the city of Arpad. Before Tiglath-pileser III reached the city of Arpad, a coalition was already assembled to counter the Assyrians. The armies of Urartu were led by King Sardui II, and the armies of Arpad were led by King Matiil, as well as many other Syrian tribal kings. Both the coalition and Assyria would meet head on. The Assyrians were victorious. Over 70,000 are said to have been slain or captured.
Tiglath-pileser III was to then turn his attention back to the land of Medes conquering them on the Iranian plateau. Tiglath-pileser III would deport 65,000 and later another 154,000. Also the Syrians would suffer from deportation as 30,000 were placed in the region of the Zargos Mountains.
From what we read in a time span of 6 to 5 years the Assyrian army had conquered a vast amount of land in a short time. I don’t want to get off track but it’s important that we take a look at the speed and structure of the Assyrian army. The person I recommend that all should read who take interest in Military History is a man by the name of Richard A. Gabriel. Richard Gabriel is probably the leading expert in military history. What I’m about to show you are some passages from the book that he, and Karen Metz collaborated on. The title of the book is “From Sumer to Rome”:
In the 8th century B.C., when the entire Assyrian army included 150,000-200,000 men, a combat field army of 50,000 men would be equal to 5 modern American heavy divisions, or 8 Soviet field divisions. When arrayed for battle, a field army occupied an area of 2,500 yards (almost 1.5 miles) across and 100 yards deep. After the fall of Rome, it was not until Napoleon’s re-institution of conscription that armies of such a size would be mustered. The Assyrians were the first to invent large cavalry squadrons.
A special logistics branch, the Musarkisus, was created to keep the army supplied with horses. It was able to obtain 3,000 horses a month for military use. Once again, it was not until Napoleon that such large amounts of horses would be systematically procured for the army. In a climate such as the Middle East, a soldier would need 3,402 calories a day and 70 grams of protein to sustain him, in addition to 9 quarts of water. A ration of 3 pounds of wheat daily (or 150,000 pounds daily for a field army) would only provide 2,205 calories daily, insufficient for the needs of a soldier. The “strategic mobility” of the Assyrian army, or their ability to project their military force over a given area, was 375,000 square miles. After Rome fell, no army exceeded this area until the American Civil War, when the use of railroads made troop movements easier. In terms of efficiency of organization, no military staff (i.e. administrators, logistic officers and engineers) would reach the proficiency of the Assyrian or Roman military staffs until the German general staff of the 1870’s. The prototype of a modern soldier’s equipment (helmet, body armor, boots [a particular Assyrian innovation], and backpack) was invented by ancient armies and disappeared for almost 1,000 years after the fall of the Roman Empire. The killing power of an ancient composite bow (i.e. the accuracy, force, distance, and speed of deployment) was not matched until the introduction of the Prussian needle gun in 1871. According to modern tests, the body armor, helmet, and shield of the Assyrians would have provided excellent protection against firearms until Napoleon. If the dispersion of field formations, inaccuracy of early firearms, and rates of fire are considered, the Assyrian soldier would have been safer on a battlefield in the 18th century than on an Ancient Near Eastern one. This is what the Near East had to face. An iron lion.
Western union the best way to get paid:
In 738 Tiglath-pileser III made his way west to collect tribute, and to expand the ever growing Assyrian Empire. Tiglath-pileser III began his regional tour starting with what was left of the fractured kingdoms of the former Hittite empire. Then turning south to Syria again, and then west to subdue without a fight the city states of Phoenicia, and collecting just about anything and everything the individual kingdoms could offer to keep Assyria out of their lands, by turning themselves into Assyria’s vassals. Next on the list for Assyria was the Kingdom of Israel.  Menahem was the King of Israel at the time when Tiglath-pileser III came upon the northern horizon of Israel. For a long time before the Assyrian threat the Hebrew prophets Hosea, Amos, Joel foretold of the coming destruction of Israel if they didn’t repent and come back to the Almighty.
(Kings 15:19-20) And Pul the king of Assyria came against the land: and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand. And Menahem exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land.
The storm was on the horizon and it was time to pay up. Menahem gave a thousand talents of silver to Tiglath-pileser III by extracting 50 shekels from each wealthy man. That comes to 60,000 citizens of wealth that paid. Which makes one wonder how many poor people had to repay the wealthy for lost income? After getting his tribute Tiglath-pileser III left the outskirts of Israel leaving the Kingdom intact and still in the hands of Menahem. One can only speculate if this was a one time tribute deal or multiple times year after year. In either case Menahem has just made his Kingdom look impotent before the King of Assyria. But what could King Menahem do? When all one has to do is read (2 Kings 15:16), and realize the majority of his people wouldn’t fight for him anyway. When Menahem died, his son Pekahiah took the throne and reigned for only two years. He was to be murdered by Pekah, and 50 Gileadites in Samaria inside the palace (2 Kings 15:23-26). It seems that Pekah murdered Pekahiah because Pekahiah had continued to let Assyria dominate Israel, which in turn made the people of Israel angry, and the result was the King being murdered by a man of the military. We read that Pekah made an alliance with King Rezin of Damascus. This indicates that Pekah was cutting the Assyrian yoke off Israel’s neck. Pekah would also go to the Edomites and the Philistines for their support of a joint coalition or alliance, in order to stop the Assyrian war machine from moving any further west or south. Pekah may have sent emissaries to King Jotham [of Judah] at the time about joining the alliance against Assyria, but we have no word of it, and we can only speculate. It seems that Jotham would have known of this alliance, but decided not to join it, and probably for good reason. Jotham’s reasoning may have been, Why fight two enemies when he’d rather face one? There was no telling what Israel and Syria had in store for them. Judah wasn’t popular with either Israel or Syria. This maybe the reason for the attack on Judah by King Pekah and King Rezin. When King Jotham [of Judah] died his son Ahaz took the throne and was considered an evil King by God because, unlike his father Jotham, King Ahaz worshiped other gods, and even passed his own children through the fire to Baal. Israel and Syria invaded Judah most likely to set up a puppet King. The man whom they wanted was the son of Tabeal, who was possibly a Syrian (Isaiah 7:6). If this was accomplished, it would give them the “Yes” factor to join them, and to go to war with them against Assyria. This invasion into Judah by Israel and Syria is recorded in (2 King 16-5-6 & 2 Chronicles 28:5-9). King Rezin of Syria attacked Judah first. As King Rezin was moving his forces south, he began pillaging villages, and most likely destroying or occupying the garrisons on the eastern boarders of Judah, and taking captives till he reached Elath on the Gulf of Aqaba, which is connected to the Red Sea. Now we might ask ourselves what is so special about Elath. The answer is Nothing. It’s the road that runs through Elath. Through Elath runs the “Kings Highway”. The “Kings Highway” in ancient times started from Heliopolis, Egypt. The road then runs through Elath. From Elath it then hugs the boarders of eastern Judah and Israel, and then up to Damascus, and from there to Resafa on the upper Euphrates. This is a strategic military highway mentioned in the book of (Numbers 20:17& 21:22), and King Rezin now controlled it. This meant the King of Syria could now deploy his forces up and down the eastern borders of Israel and Judah. This gave King Rezin the upper hand over Judah in strategic terms. While that was going on King Ahaz of Judah most likely assembled his forces, and sent them towards the Syrian attacker to retake the city of Elath. While the forces of King Ahaz were occupied, the forces of King Pekah of Israel with the possibility of Syrian forces, engaged the forces of King Ahaz, that were sent to take back Elath. In that engagement the forces of King Pekah killed 120,000 men of Judah in one day, and captured 200,000. This capture of 200,000 was most likely over time, and not in one day as some speculate (2Chronicles 28:6). After the battle King Ahaz would have returned to Jerusalem to seal up the gates and prepare for a siege. But before that happened, it’s most likely that King Ahaz immediately sent messengers with treasure, that came from the house of the Lord as a gift to the King of Assyria. By doing this, King Ahaz had just made the Kingdom of Judah a vassal to the Assyrian Empire (2Kings 16:7-8). King Ahaz had ignored the prophet Isaiah that God sent, and ignored the warnings from God about trusting Assyria for help. Ahaz had just created a bigger burden then what was outside Jerusalem’s gates besieging the city. After the message was sent for help, the city of Jerusalem was then besieged by the forces of Israel and Syria. Now we don’t know how long the siege of Jerusalem took place, but we know it couldn’t have lasted long. For we read in (2Chronicles 28:20) that the King of Assyria was on his way. Shortly after the siege was lifted, two more enemies of the Syrian Israel alliance came forth for their share. We read in (2Chronicles 28:17-19) that Edomites came to pillage and take captives in the surrounding country side of Judah, while the invading Philistines took many cities and villages. Judah was thus stripped naked. In 2Chronicles 28:5 & 2Chronicles 28:9 we read about the captives that Syria and Israel took back to their Kingdoms. What is interesting, and we can only speculate, is that (2 Chronicles 28:5 & 28:9) describe a quick scenario about the siege of Jerusalem which was lifted in haste, due to the Assyrian war machine that was quickly approaching the Kingdom’s of Israel and Syria. King Pekah and Rezin returned quickly to their capitals with their spoils and captives to prepare their defenses. But before Assyria invades, we read that God sent the Prophet Oded to Samaria the capital of Israel to rescue the prisoners that were taken during the invasion of Judah, and to keep them out of harms way right before the Assyrians could take them in the coming invasion. If we go back and read (2 Chronicles 28:9), notice that Oded talked to many who were the leaders of Ephraim about the prisoners release. This leaves us to speculate that King Pekah of Israel is either dead, or has been locked away by his own people till Assyria came.
Around 734 B.C. Assyria was now on the war path. King Tiglath-pileser III was at the head of his army when they entered Syria on their way to besiege Damascus (2 Kings 16:9). King Rezin of Syria and his army would meet the Assyrian forces head on. We don’t know any details about the battle, but what we do know is that King Rezin almost lost his life in the battle, and he quickly fled back to Damascus with a remnant of his army. Once the gates were shut the siege was on. This event is also mentioned by Tiglath-pileser III on his inscriptions.
That one (Rezin of Damascus) fled alone to save his life*** and like a mouse he entered the gate of his city. His nobles I captured alive with my own hands, and hanged them on stakes and let his land gaze on them. 45 soldiers of my camp*** I selected, and like a bird in a cage I shut him up. His gardens and*** plantations without number I cut down, not one escaped***.
Tiglath-pileser III boasts that he destroyed 591 cites in Syria, and took many captive back into Assyria, with the possibility of Jews that were previously taken captive by King Rezin when he invaded Judah and besieged Jerusalem along with King Pekah of Israel. Hadaru the house of the father of Rezin of Syria where he was born, I besieged, I captured… captives I carried off. 16 districts of Syria I destroyed like mounds left by a flood  It’s said that the siege took two years to complete, and most likely during the siege Tiglath-pileser III assembled and sent his forces to the regions conspiring against Assyria. We don’t know if Tiglath-pileser III stayed with his army at the siege of Damascus, or whether he spearheaded the invasion into Israel, or attacked along the coast line of Palestine. But we do know that two armies were sent to subdue, and incorporate the regions hostile to Assyria. From Damascus the Assyrian Army forked out like a snakes tongue.
To the Coast!:
Tiglath-pileser III sent one army to spearhead an attack and subdue the ever so often rebellious Phoenician cities, along with the Philistines on the coast line of the Levant. Taking the cites of Sumer, Arka, Byblos, and Sidon. Next was Tyre, forcing them to pay tribute, and give part of their population over as captives. The Assyrian army continued to march south, sacking Accho and burning it to ashes. Next was Dor, a port city of the tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 17:11), then Aphek, a city belonging to the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:30-31).The Assyrian army also destroyed the Philistine cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Gaza, and continued on till it reached the river El Arish that borders Egypt. Tiglath-pileser makes mention of Gaza Hanno of Gaza fled before my weapons. We will take a closer look at this inscription in its entirety a little bit later.  Now it seems that by taking the coast line the Assyrians were cutting Israel off from their Phoenician allies, as well as the tribes that border the Mediterranean sea, and preventing anymore from fleeing by sea. This doesn’t mean that many hadn’t already fled prior to the coastal invasion. In all probability many probably did flee by sea when the news of the coming invasion was first heard. We also have to remember that the tribe of Dan were seafarer’s, (Judges 5:17) and possibly transported many out of the region. We also should not forget that Asher and Manasseh most likely had ships as well, since they did border the coast, and likely fled with the Phoenicians whose city-ports for the most part were going to be destroyed. The Phoenician’s and Israelite’s had many settlements such as Carthage, or small colonies in regions like Spain, and the British isles. Because of the many settlements between Phoenicia, and coastal Israel, both could pack up and leave in order to escape impending danger. This coastal take over by Assyria most likely had an economic impact. With many Phoenician cities along with the Tribes who had cities on the coast were either destroyed or occupied. Because of this many of the surrounding nations whether free or vassal to Assyria, now depended on Assyria for economic prosperity as well as military security.
The psychological impact must have been great. Israel was now in the process of being squeezed to death by the Assyrian advance. The people of the tribes that bordered the Mediterranean Sea either got out by beating the Assyrian advance, or fled inland getting away from carnage that was eating up the land and cities like a swarm of army ants! Before we go any further, let me explain what I mean by eating up the land and cities like a swarm of army ants! The phrase may sound dramatic. The fact is that when an Assyrian army captured a fortified city, or even a village, they would destroy and take everything. Trees that were in or around the city or village were usually cut down and taken back as timber. Date trees would be stripped, and then cut down, leaving only the stump behind so they can’t grow again. While other trees would be literally uprooted, and replanted back in Assyria. Farm lands most likely would be stripped bare. The people’s items of value would be taken, apart from the things the captives may need in their day to day life. Even the temple’s valuables such as gold, or silver, would be stripped. The idols in the temple were transported back to Assyria, and paraded as weak gods, that couldn’t compete with the Assyrian ones .
When the Assyrians marched down the coast, it’s most likely that the second wave of invasion waited for some time, before it began its march from the north advancing inland as described in (2 Kings 15:29). This second wave of attack that Tiglath-pileser III sent, was the tip of the sword. While the coastal invasion was pushing south, we can speculate that parts of the army turned inland from the coast pushing somewhat east, and flanking the population in, while the larger northern army began it’s descent south into the tribal lands of Dan and Naphtali and beyond. Now Tiglath-pileser III makes mention of conquering Naphtali, and his conquest of the coast in his inscription.
*** on the border of the Land of Omri [viz. Israel] …
the wide land of Naphtali in its entirety,
I brought within the border of Assyria.
My official (tartan) I set over them as governor.
Hanno of Gaza fled before my weapons. 
This inscription shows two different events at the same time. Notice that Tiglath-pileser III mentions of taking Naphtali in it’s entirety, and that he brought them into Assyria. Now notice what he has to say at the end. Hanno of Gaza fled before my weapons. What this inscription may indicate is that Tiglath-pilesers army had just completed the take over of Naphtali, while at the same time completing the final phase of conquering Gaza which was a Philistine city! This inscription seems to show us that prior to taking Naphtali, Tiglath-pileser’s army had been conquering the coastal regions of the Levant till it reached the border of Egypt. Now read (2 Kings 15:29).
In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.
This verse which describes all of Naphtali taken into captivity matches Tiglath-pileser’s inscription. We also notice the cities of Ijon, Abelbethmaachah, Janoah, Kedesh and Hazor. Everyone of these cities that are described in 2 Kings 15:29 have been unearthed in the last century, and show the signs of the Assyrian destruction and deportation of the people. But what else is interesting is that archeology has found many cities destroyed by Tiglath-pileser’s Assyrian army. Below is a list of the cities associated with each tribe that were effected by Tiglath-pileser’s invasion.
Naphtali Ephraim Manasseh Dan Asher Gad Zebulon
Ijon Janoah Beth-shean Dan Rehob Jabesh Yokneam
Abel-Beth-maachah Tel-Hadar Tel Aviv
The cities above in the list that are highlighted are cities that were destroyed and never rebuilt, with the exception of Megiddo which the Assyrians would later reoccupy, and set up as the capital of the newly conquered region.
A man by the name Z. Gal conducted a survey of the region and concluded from his research the entire northern part of the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed. It appears as if lower Galilee was significantly deserted and its inhabitants exiled. The events of 733/2 BCE provide a tragic landmark in the history of the Israelite settlement in Galilee, whatever had not been destroyed by the wars was removed and laid waste by the exiles, and the region was not occupied during the 7th-6th centuries BCE!  From what archeology has found to the survey conducted, we can speculate that a majority went into exile. As for how many were taken, we don’t know. For we don’t have all of Tiglath-pileser’s inscriptions. Most of Tiglath-pileser’s inscriptions concerning Israel are destroyed, or one tablet may read clearly, while the bottom half of the tablet is mutilated leaving us unfulfilled. There is only one tablet that has a number of how many were taken during Tiglath-pileser’s invasion. It records that he invaded both lower Galilee and Beth Nethopha valley, and it says he took into exile 13,200 people. This is the only shred of evidence that deals with a number. In the end Tiglath-pileser III took many back with him. In his inscription he says,
The Land of Omri ***
all its people together with their goods
I carried off to Assyria.
Pekah, their king they deposed,
and I placed Hoshea over them as king.
10 talents of gold, 10 talents of silver,
as their tribute I received from them,
and to Assyria I carried them.
The land of Omri is Israel. As for taking all the people back with their goods is an exaggeration. I would say since a remnant was left behind to continue on because Tiglath-Pileser describes that the elders of the remaining tribes murdered Pekah. Tiglath-pileser makes mention of placing Hoshea on the throne. Which may indicate that Hoshea was an inside man for Assyria, and possibly offering a great amount of money for the throne. Also we read that 10 talents of silver, and 10 talents of gold was to be the tribute which was most likely a first time payment till next year. 
Before we go any further some questions need to be asked. In the books of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, as well as what Tiglath-pileser’s inscriptions say. We do not find any passages referring to any battle that may have taken place between Israel and Assyria. This makes one wonder if the Israelite army depleted itself of man power during the battle with Judah in 2 Chronicles 28:6. Or maybe there is another reason as to why we don’t read of any battle taking place between the forces of Tiglath-pileser III, and Pekah of Israel, and we might know why?
Lets look at 2 Chronicles 28:12-13 (12) Then certain of the heads of the children of Ephraim, Azariah the son of Johanan, Berechiah the son of Meshillemoth, and Jehizkiah the son of Shallum, and Amasa the son of Hadlai, stood up against them that came from the war, (13) and said unto them, Ye shall not bring in the captives hither: for whereas we have offended against the LORD already, ye intend to add more to our sins and to our trespass: for our trespass is great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.
Notice what verse 13 says in (2 Chronicles 28:12-13). This verse may be the key as to why we don’t hear of any known battle, or even battles. The heads of Ephraim already knew of their sin, and knew of the coming destruction. It would be futile to fight God’s wrath, or even add to it. Therefore, we could speculate, that the majority of Israel finally understood the Prophets that were sent in the past, and in the present like Oded, but now it was to late, it was time to pay for their sins. This is not to say that no small battles ever occurred. We can be sure that there were minor engagements at times among the people of Israel against the Assyrians, it’s only human nature to fight when it comes to protecting ones family and goods, but there is no known full fledged battle or battles that ever occurred .
Even though the Bible speaks silently on the Issue Tiglath-pileser III mentions the Israelite forces in his military annuals: carried off [to] Assyria the land of Bit-Humria (Israel). […its] ‘auxiliary [army’,] […] all of its people.
From this small fragment inscription Tiglath-pileser III not only tells us that he deported a large amount of Israel’s people, but he also took the Israelite army and incorporated them into the Assyrian army as auxiliaries.
Hoshea, the last King of Israel:
This was the beginning of a nine year rule for King Hoshea in (2 Kings 17:1). Hoshea had to pay a tribute to Tiglath-pileser III for putting him on the throne, and making the Kingdom of Israel vassals to Assyria again. Now when Tiglath-pileser III died around 727 B.C., we can speculate that Hoshea probably stopped paying the annual tribute, and because of this Hoshea would be visited again, by the new King of Assyria Shalmaneser V. Shalmaneser V would extract tribute from him as well (2 Kings 17:3). What could be said about (2 Kings 17:3) is that King Shalmaneser V, or an Assyrian official, was paying a visit not only to Israel at the time, but paying a visit to all the vassals of Assyria. By showing up with the Army, Shalmaneser V was making sure that to all who swore allegiance in the past, to continue on honoring that allegiance to Assyria. It might also be possible to say that Shalmaneser V was just making his rounds collecting gifts because he’s the new King in town. This would not last long, for we read in (2 Kings 17:4) that Hoshea stopped paying tribute, and pulled his support for the mighty Assyria, and looked else where for protection, or even possibly to start up a new anti-Assyrian coalition. Either way both are plausible. King Hoshea would look to Egypt, and it’s King So for that protection. This King So has been a matter of debate for sometime, and we’re not going to get into who he possibly was. Now because of this treason to King Shalmaneser V, the Kingdom of Israel would be invaded again. King Shalmaneser V would besiege Samaria the capital of Israel for three years, but some say he died shortly before or after the fall of Samaria. In either case the event is recorded in 2 Kings 17:5-6. But there are two inscriptions by Sargon II where he takes full credit for the capture of Samaria, and the deporting of the cities population back to Assyria. The first inscription is more about his military campaigns through out his rule, and is found on a prism known as MS 2368: BIT-HABAN, PARSHUMASH, MANNAEA, URARTU; THE HEROIC MAN WHO DEFEATED HUMBANIGASH, KING OF ELAM; WHO MADE THE EXTENSIVE BIT-HUMRIYA (HOUSE OF OMRI) TOTTER, THE DEFEAT OF MUSRU IN RAPIHU; BOUND TO ASHUR, WHO CONQUERED THE TAMUDI; WHO CAUGHT THE IONIANS IN THE SEA LIKE A BIRD-CATCHER; ALSO BIT-BURTASHA, KIAKKI AND AMRISH, THEIR RULERS; WHO DROVE AWAY MIT (MIDAS), KING OF MUSHKU; WHO PLUNDERED HAMATH AND CARCHEMISH; GREAT HAND CONQUERED, THE DEVASTATOR OF URARTU, MUSASIR; THE URARTIANS BY THE TERROR OF HIS WEAPONS, KILLED BY HIS OWN HANDS; WHO DESTROYED THE PEOPLES OF HARHAR, WHO GATHERED THE MANNAEANS, ELLIPI; WHO CHANGED THE ABODE OF P?A, LALLUKNU; WHO FLAYED THE SKIN OF ASHUR-L I, THEIR GOVERNOR; WHO IMPOSED THE YOKE OF ASHUR ON SHURD» FROM MELIDU, HIS ROYAL CITY; THE FEARSOME ONSLAUGHT, WHO HAD NO FEAR OF BATTLE,
As you can read in this inscription the Kingdom of Israel is known as Bit-Humriya. Now the second inscription is one most of us are familiar with. At the beginning of my royal rule, I _ _ _ the town of the Samaritans I besieged, conquered. _ _ _ for the god _ _ _ who let me achieve this my triumph _ _ _ I led away as prisoners 27,290 inhabitants of it and equipped from among them soldiers to man 50 chariots of my royal corps _ _ _ 
When one reads the inscription what many failed to notice, or maybe understand, is that it took three years to capture the city, because it was heavily defended. I highly doubt that many were women and children. After the city finally fell we notice something different in the inscription. 27,290 inhabitants were lead away as prisoners. Not a one was killed. Sargon II wasn’t known for his cruel treatment of captured cities when compared to King Asherbanipal II of Assyria. Also we can speculate that many more Israelites in the region were taken, and it seems that many may have fled into Judea at the time. Archaeological evidence shows that Jerusalem expanded 3 to 4 times its original size by the end of the 8th century BCE. Now what is interesting is that Sargon II equipped the captured chariots with the people he captured from Samaria. 100 men would be the requirement for the 50 chariots. The remaining 27,190 most likely became an auxiliary unit for the Assyrian army. Also I want to mention that the same inscription above is found on the Nimrud Prism, and it says that Sargon II captured 200 chariots, and equipped them with the captured men. But what is most interesting is Stephanie Dalley points out in her article that the Assyrian tablets mention that Sargon II allowed the Israelite charioteers to retain their identity! This Israelite chariot unit was the only foreign unit to keep it’s name in Assyria’s main Royal army. Sargon II must have respected them very much to give them such a position.  Below is what is left from the chariot list that bares the names of the Israelites that Sargon II captured, and incorporated into his Royal Army. This list is provided by Bob Becking in his book called”The Fall of Samaria: An Historical and Archaeological Study”.
16 Ib-ba-da-la-a Da-la-PAP
17 Ja-u-ga-a A-tam-ru
18 PAP?-id-ri Ab-di-mil-ku
19 EN-BAD Na-ar-me-na-a
20 Gab-bi-e Sa-ma?-a
21 PAPid-ri Ba-hi-e
22 PAP-i-u Ba-hi-e
23 SU pdPA.U.GIN-in85
The Samaritan cohort according to line 23 under the control of Nebu-belu-ukin, can be seen as the remnant of the chariot brigades captured by Sargon II. According to the editors all personal names in this fragment are Westsemitic. This view must be modified. What is interesting in this list is the name Sama. It’s speculated that Sama was from Samaria, an Israelite who was the commander of teams for the royal Assyrian army, and had significant influence with the Sargonid family. This was the last conquest by Assyria into Israel. The kingdom had now vanished. It was a gradual conquering of the Ten Tribes of Israel starting around 734 BCE, and would last till about 720 BCE. Many of Reuben, Gad, Naphtali, Manasseh, Asher, Zebulon, Issachar, Dan, Ephraim, and some Levities, were the first to go along with their families and clans, (2 Kings 15:29) and by 721 or 720 B.C. the rest of what was left of the tribes, had been taken into a land not of their own along with their King Hoshea, (2 Kings 17: 4,18) leaving only Judah behind (2 Kings 17:18).
Deportation and Relocation:
With the devastation of many cities, and provinces associated with the Northern Kingdom. Many people, and royalty, as in the case of Beerah prince of the Reubenites (1 Chronicles 5:6), were taken back to Assyria for the relocation program Assyria set up with all those whom they conquered for the most part. What is interesting is that the Israelite royalty would be taken to live at the royal court. Tiglath-pileser III makes mention of this when he first invaded Israel during Pekah’s rule, and also this would happen to King Hosea as well . Also it seems that Tiglath-pileser’s wife was of Hebrew origin, her name was Yaba. There was also Atalia the wife of Sargon II. Tiglath-pileser III also took Damascus during the invasion of Israel, and slew King Rezin in the process. The Syrian people from Damascus were taken captive, and sent to Kir (2 Kings 16:9). Once Gilead was taken, Tiglath-pileser III sent his Assyrian forces further south into the lands of Amon, Edom, and Moab, and making them his vassals. What must be understood is that Assyria was surrounding Judah. With the coast conquered, and the nations bordering Judah on the east, west, and south sides were all now paying tribute to Assyria. Judah was now surrounded by it’s enemies, even if the enemies are vassals like Judah. It would be just a matter of time till another war came. Now for the Israelites that were taken captive, it would be a long march to their new home, and most likely taking the King’s Highway which leads strait into the heart of Assyria. From there they would be assigned and sent to their new locations. Now lets take a look at 1Ch 5:26. And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day.
The first wave of captives as we read went to Halah, Habor, Hara and the river Gozan. Now read 2 Kings 17:6. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
Once again we see the same familiar names as before. Halah, Habor and by the river of Gozan. But now we read of them being placed in the cities of the Medes. Now read 2 Kings 18:10-11. And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11 And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes:
Once again we see the same names as described in 2 Kings 17:6 with the term Medes added. But where are these places that the Bible describes? Lets start with Halah. According to the Talmud Halah is known as Holwan or Holman. This Holwan is found in the Zagros Mountains, which is east of the Tigris River. In later Assyrian writings it was referred to as Yasubi and Yasubgalli. Now what makes these two terms interesting is Yasubi means Joseph, while Yasubgalli means Exiles of Joseph. Also we find Sabatus River, or Sabbath River, which refers to the Lower Zab River that is near the city of Gomara, which was the Scythian capital of Sakkiz till the Scythians migrated to southern Russia. East of Halah/Holman and the river Sabatus, you will come upon two groups before you reach the city of Ecbatana which was a Median city. These two groups were called Sagartii and Syromedia. The Sagarti were known as Asakarti by Media-Persia. The Asakarti according to Jewish legend was the Tribe of Issachar. While the term Syromedia means those that have been exiled from Syria and placed in Media. What is interesting is that the word Syrian means Arami in the Semitic language. In ancient times the word Syrians were included in the former Kingdom of Israel according to Ptolemy. Now lets take a look at the name Gozan. The Gozan river seems to be the Ouzan river which is southwest of the Caspian Sea. The Ouzan is also known as Gouzan by the locals. Ptolemy refers to this river as the Cyrus River with the city of Gauzania on its banks. In the Talmud it’s known by the name of Ginzak on the banks of the Gozan. Around the Gozan river region lived the Cadussi. The Cadussi were a Scythian group that were akin to the Sakae. This Cadussi group called themselves according to Pliny, Gaeli. This name Gaeli could have two meanings. The first could mean they were from Galilee, while it also could be derived from the Hebrew word Goleh, which can mean exile or it can mean to wander. But before we go on, we need to address the other Gozan River. This other river Gozan is called Gauzanitus by Ptolemy. This river Gozan is found east of the Euphrates River, and flows south till it eventually ends up connecting with the Khabur River. This Khabur River is also connected to the Euphrates. Now if you follow the Khabur River to the north you will come upon the city of Nisibis. The city of Nisibis is found in the region of Hadayb-Adiabene which according to the Talmud is the place of Habor also pronounced as Khabor where the exiles were placed. Now the term Medes that is added in seems to indicate where they could be found. Since Habor, Halah, and the river Gouzan, with the possibility of the Gozan River are found in Median territory. The only place on this list that may not be Median is Hara since it’s further to the east, and is located on the border of what is today Iran and Afghanistan. In ancient times Hara was in the region of Magan and Meluhha who were vassals to Assyria, and were around the Bactrian and Indus valley regions. We can speculate that once the deported Israelites were settled down, it’s most likely that the Israelite’s would adopt the customs and ways of their new Median nomadic neighbors.
Who were the Medes?
The Medes were a nomadic group that lived in what is today the country of Iran, and also in the north western region of the Caucasus. They basically lived around the Caspian Sea region. Their origin is also very obscure. The Medes were known for their horsemanship in combat, and were also known for breeding horses in and around the Zargos mountain ranges. The Median warrior would wear a felt hat turban. He would wear metal scale body armor that overlapped each row and was sewn into the leather or felt garment, and they also wore long sleeve tunics. The Median warrior also used a very large bow, and an assortment of daggers and no sword. Even though the Median warrior sounds heavy, he was much lighter and quicker then his Assyrian counterparts. This is one of the reasons why the Assyrians wanted the Medes in their army. Since we discussed the locations of the Israelites and also who are the Medes. The next question or questions is how would the Assyrians treat the deported Israelites? What rights would the Israelite captives have? Could the Israelites move freely around? All these questions above and many more as well will be answered. So lets get started.
There are many accounts of the Assyrian King giving instruction as how to treat and provide for the refugees. The refugees would be fed along the journey, and treated by physicians to keep hygiene up, and to keep disease out. They would be given footwear if needed, and the women and children were provided carts for the long tract. Families were not divided as some think. The Assyrians wanted to keep the families and communities together, as well as their national identity. Assyria was not a melting pot of nations like here in the United States. The Assyrian’s wanted to preserve the identity of the deportees for social and military strength, and to lessen the possible acts of rebellion. Once the refugees made it into the Assyrian homeland they were sent to deportee camps, before being sent to the region assigned to them. Kind of a debriefing center we could say. Peoples of the four quarters, of strange tongues and different speech, dwelling in mountains and plains. I took as spoil at the word of Ashur my lord. I made of them one purpose, I made them take up abode therein [i.e., inside Dur-Sharrukin]. I sent natives of Assyria, competent in everything, as overseers and supervisors, to instruct them in custom and to serve the gods and the king. —Sargon II 
Now after the Assyrians settled the captives in the region assigned to them, the Assyrian monarch would make them feel welcomed and comfortable. This was done to keep any attempt of rebellion down, but also the Assyrian monarch took the role as spokesman for the god’s, and it was his duty to accept all nations, and to keep the peace within the Assyrian Empire. Now many deportees like the Israelites were settled next to more aggressive deportees in order to keep the peace. Think about it. If a rebellious group kept causing trouble, the best way to counter it, is to bring a new group in that has been showered with the monarch’s favor. The Medes for instance are a good example of not favoring the Assyrians all to well. This is the likely reason as to why the Israelites were settled in the cities and territories of the Medes. Most of the rebellious deportees despised the new arrivals thinking their working for the Assyrians to spy on them. In a way this could be true. Since the Israelites would be shown favorable treatment, they would likely be inclined to tell the Assyrian administrator in the province if anything suspicious was going on. But we also have to remember that it works the other way around as well. We could say both groups watched each other, but kept at least one of their eye’s on the Assyrians. Once settled in, the Israelites would begin the task of rebuilding. Deportees would be given a settlement that had been either previously destroyed by the Assyrians, or had never been destroyed at all. They would have begun by rebuilding the homes that have been mostly destroyed, or building new homes. Also they would have new fields to plough, and many children to raise. Also many were given the task of doing public works, some were artisans, others were scribes and the list goes on. It was life as usual once settled in. We can say that nothing really changed for the Israelites, other then the new location.  To give a good example would be Fort Sargon. Fort Sargon was built mostly by Israelites. Here is the tablet that makes mention of its construction around 714 BCE: Concerning what the king, my lord, wrote to me: ‘Provide all the Samarians in your hands with work in Dur-Sarrukin’, I subsequently sent your word to the sheiks, saying: ‘collect your carpenters and potters; let them come and direct the deportees who are in Dur-Sarrukin’.
Were the deported Israelites made slaves? The answer is no. The practice of slavery in Assyria was not common for deportees or prisoners of war. Once the deportees were settled into the region given to them, they were free to go about their business. They were also not treated as lowlifes as some would believe. There are also countless examples of the land being farmed by freemen, and not by slaves. The auxiliary units in the Assyrian army were freemen as well. Also there is no proof that the Assyrian’s ever put deportees into a life of slavery.
Could the Israelites Bear Arms?
The answer is a shocking yes! The Israelite deportees also had the military advantage given to them by the Assyrians. We also have to keep in mind, that as the Assyrian Empire continued to grow, the native population of Assyria became to small to support the needs of their army, as well as to govern the regions of the empire due to its expanding size. This is where all the deportees come in. Sargon II may have been the first Assyrian king to allow deportees to hold high administrative positions, and by allowing deportees into highest levels of government, it would allow them the power to dictate, and to administer to their people as well. The same could be applied to the Israelite deportees, like Hilkiyahu, a general in the Assyrian army under Sargon II, who was given the same rank as Sargon’s brother, and made the seventh most important man in Assyria. Now the reason Sargon II promoted this practice was to unite the people of Assyria into one people, but in turn it made the native Assyrians a minority. It was from Tiglath-pileser III that the practice of using deportees as auxiliary units in the Assyrian army, as well as homeland protection came from. This would become the norm, but Sargon II expanded it even bigger then before. These deportees were given the task to garrison their province or region with their own men, as well as provide troops to garrison the strategic areas within the empire, or to provide extra troops for war if needed. But their main role was to keep the peace within the confines of the empire as armed tribal auxiliaries. Sargon II was also the first king to provide Iron weapons, armor, and helmets to his army and auxiliaries. We also have to remember that many of the deportees had their own specialty of combat they could contribute, and they were not forbidden to train in the art of war, but to expand in the knowledge of war, and to add to it. War was business in ancient Assyria 
Could the Israelites master the horse?
The answer is yes! This is not problematic. The Israelites were surrounded by Medes, and would have to adapt. Let me give you an example. I served 3 years in the U.S. Army, I deported myself into a society and land not of my own. Now before I went to basic, I knew nothing about the military world. After three and a half months, I was now a Combat Engineer, capable of providing a hole in the enemy defenses to get the infantry through, and to fight along side the infantry in any combat situation. After a year, I was well more advanced then before. This could be said for the Israelite captives as well, and I’ll show you why. Now I’ve already provided the info as to could the Israelites bare arms. Could the Israelites master the horse in a generation? I don’t see why not. The Northern Israelites were known for their mastery of charioteering and the use of the Nubian horses. We also have many more examples from the Bible, of the Israelites using chariots in battle. Take for instance King Ahab. It’s said that Ahab had 2,000 chariots, and sent them into battle against King Shalmaneser III at the battle of Qarqar. Also there is the famous horse stables of King Solomon mentioned in 1 Kings 4:26, 9:15, 10:26. Those who used the chariot most likely understood the horse when it comes to speed and control. As for the weapons, the sword and bow were the norm, as well as the spear and lance to any Israelite. These were familiar weapons whether you were a farmer or a combat soldier. We also must not forget that weapons in ancient times were common among people in terms of everyday use. From the use in combat, to the use in farming, to the use in hunting, and even butchering. We could say it was as normal to them in everyday use, as it is to us when it comes to driving a car, or operating a computer. What else is interesting is the fact that horse stables found in Urartu are similar to the Megiddo stables. Most likely these were built after Sargon II conquered a good portion of Urartu. The Assyrians during the reign of Tiglath-pileser III used cavalry in combat, but not on a wide scale use. After Tiglath-plieser III conquered some of the tribes of the Medes, he took notice of the Median Cavalries effectiveness in combat. Tiglath-pileser III incorporated the use of Median cavalry into his own army as auxiliaries. Overtime the Assyrian army would have three types of cavalry. The first type was light cavalry which consisted of Medes and other nomads. These were quick, and only used a bow and javelin. Next was the Assyrian Heavy archer, which consisted of heavy scale body armor, and then your heavy cavalry man, fully armored and built for fighting infantry. Tiglath-pileser III and his successor’s loved them so much, they would replace the majority of chariot units with elite cavalry units over time. The chariot would only be used by the King, and his nobles, and the warrior elite. The reason for the replacement was due to the ever expanding empire. Along with expansion of the empire came the difference in terrain. The chariot was a perfect weapon against infantry on the open field, but it had little effect in mountainous or rocky regions. Due to the difficulties of the land the horse was the best way to go. With some of the Median tribes conquered, and their land annexed into the Assyrian empire, the need for horses was so great that it became an industry of breeding. The Assyrians would request that 3,000 horses be provided each month! The people in charge of this operation were called Musarkisus. They were so important that they had to report directly to the king and not to provincial governors. You might be wondering where did all these horses come from? The answer is from every province in the empire! Each province had two horse recruitment officers, and it was their job to get as many horses as they could, and train them before they were sent off for military use. When added up, the provinces mustered roughly 36,000 horses a year for military service! The horses were then sent all over the empire, and kept in national stables. We can also speculate that many more horses were left for the auxiliary units not native to Assyria. Also the Kingdom of Urartu traded and sold horses to Assyria. The Kingdom of Urartu was known for it’s horsemanship and was friendly to nomads. Also I want to point something out before we go any further. Can a deportee serve in the native Assyrian army? The answer is yes once again. Many of the deportees as we discussed before were warriors before. The Assyrians would look for the strongest fit man or men, and send them to an unknown region to be trained in Assyrian martial arts and tactics. Take for example Sargon II capturing Samaria. He didn’t kill them, he incorporated them into his army. What else is interesting is that after the training some would stay with the Assyrian army, while others would be sent back to their tribe to train the auxiliary units in the Assyrian art of combat whether it was cavalry or infantry.
Who are the Cimmerians?
Who are the Cimmerians? Many historians tell us that the Cimmerians migrated from the Black Sea region, and made their way down through the Caucasus mountains and helped King Sargon II in 714 BCE defeat the kingdom of Urartu. This is the popular version of how they came about, and you can find this same sequence in most history books on the issue. But we have a problem. The problem is no archaeologist has yet demonstrated the presence of the Cimmerians originating, or even evolving from the region north of the Black Sea. Now I know that many will rely on Herodotus, but even he can’t be fully trusted. When Herodotus wrote his famous book “The Histories” nearly two centuries had already past when the event of 714 BCE had happened. Most people use to rely on Herodotus, but as time went on and new discoveries were made, Herodotus would be given another title to his name. Not only was Herodotus known as the father of history, but also the father of lies. I wouldn’t go as far as calling Herodotus a liar. I do think he may have garbled some of the events. Most historians today do not rely on Herodotus. That’s not to say Herodotus is completely wrong, its just he is not completely relied on anymore. What is interesting is that Herodotus mentions the Cimmerians, but they’re not mentioned by Hesiod in the 9th century BCE, nor are they mentioned by Aristcas of Proconnesus in the 7th century BCE. Also there are no reports of them north of the Black Sea region in the 6th or 5th century BCE. Also there is no archaeological evidence that indicate a large mass of people coming down from the north, and passing along the east coast of the Black Sea, or through the passes that lead through the Caucasus in the western region. Now when people or historians were reading Herodotus, and taking most of what he said as fact, a new discovery was made in the 19th century. Sir Henry Layard and others excavated the remains of the city of Nimrud Calah in Iraq. What they found about the Cimmerians did not follow the accounts of Herodotus. The Assyrian clay tablets were the first to mention the Cimmerians in documentation. The Assyrian tablets mention them as Gimira, or in the Babylonia term Gimiri, or Gamirri, and Gimirrai which can mean tribes, and not only that the terms Gamirri, and Gimirrai, were also applied to the Scythians and Sakas as well. Also Gumri, and Gamira, and Gamira can mean exiles. Some may say that Gamira and its meaning of mobile exiles, could refer to any of the nations conquered by Assyria. This would be wrong to think. For the word Gamira is associated only to certain groups in a region assigned to them by the Assyrians, that is near the border of Urartu and lake Urmia. We also have to keep in mind that these terms can be applied to Gomer as well. Now the name of Israel in Assyrian is based on the name of the King who built Samaria the capital of Israel, who was called Omri (1 Kings 16:24), and because of this the Assyrians would refer to them as Beth-Omri, Bit-Khumri, and Khumri before the invasion and deportation of Israel. During captivity the exiled Israelites in Assyria were called Bit-Humri, Bit-Humriya Ghumri, and Ghomri. Now the name Ghomri or even Ghumri would later become Gamera, or written as Gamirrai and Gimira by the Assyrians in the 7th century BCE. This is where we get the name Cimmerians in English. Another example would be to take the name Khumri for instance. Khumri means those associated with the house of Israel. It’s possible that the K could be switched to a G, and make Ghumri based on the Northern Israelite dialect. Also the name Omri based on the same dialect could be said as Gomri. As you can see it can be confusing, but it’s not impossible to identify the Israelites that were exiled to that region. Also we have another interesting name given to the Gimira (Cimmerians) by the Assyrian’s. It seems to be a nickname, or a term to describe them. This term they used was Offspring of Outcasts. This term was also expressed by the Prophet Amos. The Prophet Amos saw the future of Ten Tribes as being out casts from Assyria (Amos 4:3) HEAR, THIS WORD, YE KINE OF BASHAN, THAT ARE IN THE MOUNTAIN OF SAMARIA, WHICH OPPRESS THE POOR, WHICH CRUSH THE NEEDY, WHO SAY TO THEIR HUSBANDS, BRING, AND LET US DRINK…EACH WOMAN WILL BE CARRIED STRAIGHT OUT THROUGH THE BREACHES AND CAST OUT BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS OF MANNSE.
This verse is based on the Aramaic translation of Yehonathan. In Hebrew the original translation was harmonah which the KJ translates as to the places. Har is mountains, and Monah means Mannae. From this translation we get The mountains of Mannae. We will discuss the term Offspring of Outcasts and the tablet it’s found on, and the Mountains of Mannae later. Now many of you or some of you reading this may say that the names Ghomri, Gamera, Khomri, are different groups and are in no way related. This maybe so, but consider this. In the 9th century BCE we have very few names mentioned of none-Akkadian origin in the high ruling offices. By the 8th and 7th century BCE we encounter many more names of Aramaic origin on all levels of Assyria’s administration. During the reign of Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon II, the majority of the empire spoke some form of Aramaic in one way or another. Also Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon II’s wives were of Aramaic origin due to their names. Which indicates that most of the ruling class were bilingual. Now the deportees that were taken in to learn Assyrian would learn Akkadian cuneiform script, but their primary language of communication was Aramaic. Because of this we can say for sure that the different speakers of Aramaic could have corrupted Assyrian script based on language.
Hosea Quick Bit:
The prophet Hosea married a woman named Gomer who was a prostitute, and whom he had kids with. One could say Hosea represents God’s love, while Gomer’s actions represents Israel going after other gods they didn’t know, and we can say Gomer would be the care taker of the Israelites till they matured. Hosea and Gomer’s kids represented the Israelites that were in captivity due to unfaithfulness. For the Israelites would live, and die, and give birth, in the lands of Gomer for a short time. The moral of the story is God forgives his children no matter how bad they are, and hopes they will come back to him. The prophetic side of the story is that Israel would dwell in the lands of a stranger as punishment for a short period of time. Now from a secular stand point, we could also say the Medes, the Mannae, and many others are the many tribes that came out of, or are akin to Gomer. The reason for this is that the Israelite exiles were sent into the territory of the Medes, Mannae, and other various nomadic groups, in which they took the Israelite captives under their wing, and basically adopted them as one of their own. Also the Assyrian’s make no distinction between the Cimmerians, Medes, and Mannae because of their nomadic way of life. This didn’t mean the Assyrian’s couldn’t tell them apart. For we know that the Assyrian’s mention them individually in their tablets.
Location of the Cimmerians:
The Cimmerians according to Assyrian inscriptions are mentioned to be settled west or northwest near lake Urmia, which means they were settled within or on the fringes of the lands of Mannae, which is located in and around the mountains of Mannae. Also it seems that they bordered the Medes, that seems to be near the Kingdom of Urartu. In 714 BCE. The Cimmerians were first mentioned as Gamir by the Assyrians when King Rusa I of Urartu invaded Assyria passing through the land of Guriania, and into the land of Gamir, in which he was defeated.
To the king my lord, your servant Sennacherib. May it be well with the king my lord. It is well with the land of Assyria. It is well with the temples. It is well with every fortified city of the king. May the heart of the king my lord be exceedingly glad. The people of the Ukkai have sent word unto me, saying, When the king of the people of Urartu went to the land of Gamir, his army met with a debacle, he himself and his district commanders with their contingents have hurled back, his…….. two of his district commanders…….. has come…….. has seized…….. the…….. who came…… of his land……… who will establish…….. This is the news from Ukkai. Ashurrisua has sent word as follows, news of Urartu the former (report) which I sent, that is true. A great slaughter has taken place among them. Now his land is quiet. His officers have gone, each to his own district. Rev. Kakkadanu as commander-in-chief has been captured. The king of the land of Urartu is in the land of Uazaun. This is the report of Ashurrisua. Nabuli’ the governor of Halsu has reported to me as follows: Unto the garrisons of the fortified cities which command the border I sent for news of the king of Urartu. (They replied), saying, ‘When he went to the land of Gamir, his army (met) with a debacle. Three of his officers, together with their troops, were slain. He himself escaped (and) entered his own land. His camp has not yet been attacked.”’ This is the news from Nabuli’. His brother of the city of Musasir and his son have gone to greet the king of Urartu. A messenger of the Hubushkian has also gone to greet him. The garrison of every fortress on the border sends reports like this. The letter which Nabuli’u, the overseer of the house of Ahatabisha, brought from the land of Tabal, I have forwarded to the king my lord.—-Letter 197
As we can see from the inscriptions above we get the term Gamir, or the land of Gamir. This land of Gamir was invaded by King Rusa of Urartu in which the King and his army were defeated. King Rusa’s invasion of Assyria was an attempt to stop the growth of Assyrian influence, by trying to invade the region of lake Urmia. The Manneans were in the area of the invasion, and were sandwiched in by the Assyrians and the Medes and Urartu as well. The Manneans were in an almost constant tug of war between Assyria and Urartu. Also King Rusa was trying to take the neighboring districts or regions that have Assyrian governors, and trying to set up puppet governors of his own, in order to form a new anti-Assyrian alliance. We also have to understand that in the Assyrian tablets the Gimira are not known as mercenaries, or a conquering people that came in from the north. The Assyrian’s speak of these people as a conquered people, that were settled down in a hostile region to act as a buffer state.
Invasion of Urartu:
Now after the defeat. Sargon II would begin a new campaign into the Kingdom of Urartu. This was going to be dangerous for the terrain in Urartu is mountainous and rough. But in any case the Assyrian’s were fed up with Urartu. It was time to take it completely. Sargon II assembled his forces, and entered into the Kingdom of Urartu with his sappers paving the way into the country. We also have a report of the Gamri invading Urartu.
To the overseer of the place my lord, your servant Arad-Sin. The Gamera went forth from the midst of the Mannai and into the land of Urartu they entered……… Ishtarduri……… the messenger of the governor of the city of Uesi went unto Urzani. Rev. Concerning……. saying…… the troops….. let them come. The whole land of Urartu is exceedingly afraid on account of the people of the city of Bulia and the city of Suriana. They assemble the troops, saying, Immediately our forces are like reeds, shall we plant (the foot) against him? Concerning this booty of which they speak, saying, Plunder he has taken, it is so, (and) they say, From the district of the city of……——–Letter 112.
As we can see from this letter that the Gamir along with the Assyrian’s invaded the Kingdom of Urartu, and plundered it, but did not conquer it. Sargon’s forces during the invasion of Urartu had a hard fight. The mountainous terrain and the many defenses set up by the Urartu slowed his main army down. His main army began to become undisciplined, and began to show signs of mutiny. Sargon even gives us an account:
The harassed troops of Ashur, who had come a long way, very weary and slow to respond, who had crossed and re-crossed sheer mountains innumerable, of great trouble for ascent and decent, their moral turned mutinous. I could give no ease to their weariness, no water to quench their thirst; I could set up no camp, nor fix defences.
This is an interesting statement Sargon makes, because line three says their moral turned mutinous. It seems that Sargon’s forces are fed up with him! Why would his forces be fed up? The answer maybe because they were getting no where in Urartu. The land was rough mountains terrain, they were also tired from the previous campaigns in which they took 22 cities that rebelled, before they moved north to fight the Urartu. Sargon was known for conquering on a constant basis, and war was the economy of ancient Assyria. Now Sargon wouldn’t conquer Urartu, but he did given them a black eye, and it did keep the Kingdom of Urartu down from giving Assyria anymore trouble. After this event, Sargon II would turn his attentions back to the festering problems sprouting up in Babylonia.
Phrygia, Assyria, and the Cimmerian Rebellion of 705 BCE:
After Sargon II wounded the Kingdom of Urartu, he turned his attention to Babylonia in 710 BCE and would stay there till 707 BCE. During that time period Judah, Edom, Philistia, Moab, and Egypt began to conspire and start rebellions within Assyria. Sargon II was very busy putting down the rebellions within the Empire. Now lets back up to about 711 BCE. Right after Sargon defeated the Kingdom of Urartu. King Midas of Phrygia made a peace treaty with King Sargon II. This treaty kept the nation of Urartu and the region of Northern Syria squeezed between the two powers. What makes this peace treaty interesting is the fact that Phrygia was on the side of Urartu. King Midas didn’t trust the Assyrians nor their interests. Because of this we can speculate that King Midas saved Urartu from being completely conquered, and by doing so it reduced Urartu to a mere buffer state to keep their distance from Assyria. Now what made this peace treaty special to Assyria was the abundance of Iron found in Phrygia. Sargon II needed all the iron he could get his hands on for his army. Not only was this a peace treaty, but an economic treaty as well. As for the Kingdom of Urartu they would have to give 500 timbers and many men over to Sargon II, in order to help him build his great palace. Now a few years after the war around 710/09 BCE King Midas sends a request for aid against the Cimmerians (Greek: Kimmerioi). This Cimmerian force seems to be raiding the country side of Phrygia, and King Midas can’t force them out. But what makes this so much more interesting is that this Cimmerian force could have been the same force that was sent into Urartu during Sargon’s invasion. Remember the letter above that expressed: The Gamera went forth from the midst of the Mannai and into the land of Urartu. Add that letter with the statement that Sargon II made about his men being mutinous, and we may have a connection. It could be possible that the Cimmerian force Sargon had sent into Urartu became mutinous, and fled into the neighboring land of Phrygia where they plundered the country side for sometime, and it’s possible that they fled north for a few years, and then came back south into the lands of Phrygia in 710/09 BCE. Also we have no reports of Sargon II giving aid to King Midas between 710 and 705 BCE. In 708 BCE a report came from an Assyrian officer named Ashur-risua, that King Argishti of Urartu was assembling a large army to attack Assyria. The fact of the matter is that it was preparing to battle the Cimmerians that were led by Eshpai. These Cimmerians had earlier ravaged Urartu in 714 BCE. The battle would take place the following spring in 707BCE. The armies of Urartu were defeated but the Cimmerians suffered greatly, and were not able to press into Urartu. It was Sennacherib that reported these events to his father King Sargon II. We can speculate that the Cimmerians were making there way back, by attempting to pass through the lands of Urartu, on their way home to Gamir. Sargon II most likely got the reports back from the watch towers, or frontier garrisons that are stationed along the Assyrian border. Now as the Cimmerian forces were coming back into the Assyrian lands, Sargon II had to do something about the situation. He couldn’t have these rebellious forces influence the Assyrian border provinces to rise up against Assyria, nor allow the Kingdom of Urartu to regain a resurgence in power, which would destabilize the region, and disrupt the peace treaty between Assyria and Phrygia. So in 705 BCE Sargon II would lead his forces back to the north near the border of Urartu, to face the Cimmerian forces. The Assyrian’s would defeat them in battle, but even with the victory the Assyrian’s paid a heavy price. Sargon II would be killed in the battle, and was the first Assyrian king to die in battle. With his death the idea for a full scale rebellion was about to start. The once seemingly invincible Assyrian king was now dead.
After Sargon II died, his son Sennacherib became the next King of Assyria. Sennacherib was given a vast empire but with it came vast problems. These problems of rebellions were nothing new to him. Sennacherib was an experienced warrior and administrator, and once was in command of the northern frontier. After a year on the throne the vassal state of Babylonia began to rebel along with Aramaean tribes and Elam. Judah under King Hezekiah through in his lot for rebellion, as well as the Egyptians. King Sennacherib began the task of putting down the rebellions. It was around 701 BCE when Sennacherib would bring his armies into Judah. Sennacherib’s forces began eating up the land and sacking the cities like Lachish, till his forces came to the walls of Jerusalem. This is where we get Sennacherib’s account of Hezekiah, and what he did to Judah on the Taylor Prism.
As for Hezekiah the Judahite, who did not submit to my yoke: forty-six of his strong, walled cities, as well as the small towns in their area, which were without number, by leveling with battering-rams and by bringing up siege-engines, and by attacking and storming on foot, by mines, tunnels, and breeches, I besieged and took them. 200,150 people, great and small, male and female, horses, mules, asses, camels, cattle and sheep without number, I brought away from them and counted as spoil. (Hezekiah) himself, like a caged bird I shut up in Jerusalem, his royal city. I threw up earthworks against him the one coming out of the city-gate, I turned back to his misery. His cities, which I had despoiled, I cut off from his land, and to Mitinti, king of Ashdod, Padi, king of Ekron, and Silli-b king of Gaza, I gave (them). And thus I diminished his land. I added to the former tribute, and I laid upon him the surrender of their land and imposts gifts for my majesty. As for Hezekiah, the terrifying splendor of my majesty overcame him, and the Arabs and his mercenary troops which he had brought in to strengthen Jerusalem, his royal city, deserted him. In addition to the thirty talents of gold and eight hundred talents of silver, gems, antimony, jewels, large carnelians, ivory-inlaid couches, ivory-inlaid chairs, elephant hides, elephant tusks, ebony, boxwood, all kinds of valuable treasures, as well as his daughters, his harem, his male and female musicians, which he had brought after me to Nineveh, my royal city. To pay tribute and to accept servitude, he dispatched his messengers…
Now most of us know the rest of the story about the 185,000 Assyrians that were slain by the death angel in 2 Kings 19:35-37. So what happened to the 200,150 Jewish captives? We don’t know for sure, but we can speculate that the Assyrian’s may have taken them to the areas where the Ten Tribes had been previously settled. The reason for this is due in part to the Assyrian’s keeping people of the same identity together as mentioned earlier in this article. The Assyrian’s did not believe in mixing one deported group with another. Some may say what about the Israelites being deported into the cities of the Medes? The Israelites weren’t mixed with the Medes, they were settled among them in their own land apart from the Medes. What else becomes interesting is that before the siege of Jerusalem, King Sennacherib created a unit from the best warriors from the captured city of Lachish to be his personal bodyguards. After the failed siege of Jerusalem, Sennacherib would return home to begin the process again of putting down more rebellions. Sennacherib would face the Cimmerian forces that his father Sargon II had faced and died in battle against. Sennacherib would beat the Cimmerian forces in Elam. It was these Cimmerians that Sennacherib would drive out of his kingdom. These Cimmerians would flee west into the Kingdom of Phrygia, and go to conquer a portion of it in 695 BCE. During the invasion King Midas was so overwhelmed that he committed suicide by drinking bull’s blood. But this wasn’t the end of the Cimmerians. This was just one group that rebelled. The rest of the Cimmerians were still settled on the fringes of the Assyrian empire, and by the time Sennacherib was murdered (2 Kings 19:37) they had full control of the province of Mannae. In conclusion to Sennacherib one might take noticed to the massive waves of rebellions that went on. Once he ascended the throne, he was dealt with revolt after revolt, and never fully effectively stabilized the empire. Throughout his reign he had to suppress many rebellions all over again.
Esarhaddon, Cimmerians, and the New Threat:
Esarhaddon ascended the throne and became the next King of Assyria in 680 BCE. Esarhaddon was the youngest son of King Sennacherib and his mother was possibly of Hebrew origin who went by the name of Queen Naqi’a (Zakitu). When Esarhaddon became King his mother gained much power and influence at the court. Queen Naqi’a was called ummi sarri or mother of the king. She would help Esarhaddon decide many plans and policy’s during his reign as King. King Esarhaddon’s first order of business was to regain the trust of Assyria’s old allies, and put down the on going rebellions. Esarhaddon would extend his hand out to the Medes to regain their trust. Esarhaddon needed the Medes to help him crush Urartu, Elam, and the Cimmerians. Esarhaddon also wanted the Medes for another reason. That reason was to support who ever the King decided to sit upon the thrones of Assyria and Babylonia when he died. The idea behind this was to prevent another civil war or mass rebellion. It seems the Medes pretended to have interest, and as time went on the idea was soon to fail. As Assyria was slowly regaining its power of influence mainly in the west. It was still having problems in the east. Tensions were high in the east especially with an old familiar group known as the Cimmerians. This time the Cimmerians seem to have more control over the province of Mannae. The man to lead the Cimmerians was known by the Assyrians as King Teushpa of the Umman Manda. He would lead the Cimmerian forces into battle against King Esarhaddon. This term Umman Manda must be addressed before we go on. Umman Manda is not only addressed to the Cimmerians by the Assyrian’s, the Assyrians also apply this term to the Sakae and the Guti. The dialects of Umman Manda can possibly mean People of Manasseh Umman means people and Manda means Manasseh. The reason for this is when one looks at the northern dialects of Aramaic, Persian, and Hebrew. The d sound was changed for the s sound, and Manda becomes Manasseh. Also this term Umman Manda has been analyzed, and traced to the semitic nomads that lived in the eastern region of Israel, where the tribe of Manasseh lived, but also to the Euphrates river. So from the west of the Euphrates to the east of Manasseh the term Umman Manda is common. Now this Teushpa would battle King Esarhaddon at Khubushna which was a city in the Khubushkia province in 679 BCE. Teushpa would be defeated and his forces driven into the already wounded Kingdom of Phrygia. King Esarhaddon mentions Teushpa in his letter. Teushpa of Gimirrai, the Umman-manda whose home is remote, in the land of Hubushna, besides the whole of his army, I destroyed with the sword. After the battle King Esarhaddon drove them back into Anatolia where they would go on to conquer what was left of the Phrygia. We can also speculate that these Cimmerians were a mixed bunch. Some coming from the already conquered portions of Phrygia, and some from the province of Mannae that Teushpa led into Assyria were possibly the same Cimmerians that were defeated by Sennacherib around 695 BCE. Also if we read the inscription you notice Esarhaddon refers to their home being remote, in the land of Hubushna. This sentence may have two meanings in it. When he speaks of their home being remote, Esarhaddon could be saying their land was far off, and he knew where the Gimira (Cimmerians) came from. Some might argue this due to the name Hubushna in the inscription. The only problem with this, is that Hubushna is not remote and is well known by the Assyrians. Hubushna is a region found in central Asia Minor, and used to be a part of the Kingdom of Phrygia, and before that it belonged to the Hittite’s. So it doesn’t seem that Esarhaddon would think Hubushna was remote, but I could be wrong. Now after this battle there would be another rebellion coming out of northwestern Iran and into Assyria around 674 BCE. Now earlier we discussed how Esarhaddon wanted the support of the Medes due to their growing power. Esarhaddon wanted to avoid a war with the Medes due to the economic loss it would create. The economic loss would be the horses that Assyria bought from the Medes for their army. War would finally break out between the two that would involve a few others. Esarhaddon even wrote a prayer about it in his letter addressing the issues of loyalty, tribute, and rebellion.
Regarding Kastariti, the chieftain of the city Karkassi, who has sent the following message to Mamitiarsu, chieftain of the Medes, saying, ‘Let us get together against the Assyrians!’ Will Mamitiarsu listen to him, will he take notice of him, will he turn his face toward him, and within the year make war on Esarhaddon, king of Assyria?
As you can read that this prayer questions the intentions of the northern provinces of Assyria as well as the Medes. Esarhaddon wants to know if they will unite against him by asking the gods. Now this next prayer of Esarhaddon indicates an alliance has been made with an added tribe.
Will Kastariti, together with his warriors, or the warriors of the Gimira, or the warriors of the Medes, or the warriors of the Mannai, or any other enemy whatever, as many as there may be, succeed in their plan? Will they take Kisassu, either by storm, force, war. Battle and slaughter… by battering ram, or any other artifice of war by which a town may be taken, will they force their way into the midst of that city Kisassu, will their forces conquer that city of Kisassu, will it fall into their hands?
From this inscription the forces under a man named Kastariti united and created a coalition against Assyria. Now the interesting part is that Esarhaddon mentions Gimira. One would think that they have finally been uprooted and driven out. Many Gimira were still settled in the land of Mannai at this time. What else is interesting in this inscription is the mentioning of Mannai. The Gimira (Cimmerians) lived in this province already. So why would Esarhaddon mention the place as separate from the Gimira? Esarhaddon speaks of the warriors of Mannai, and the warriors of Gimira who he previously defeated, and sent back running into Asia Minor as separate people. The answer maybe the Ishkuza. We will talk more about the Ishkuza later. This anti-Assyrian alliance coming from the northeast of Assyria, and led by Kastariti also known as (Phraortes) the first king of Media would be defeated, but it wasn’t the end of them. King Kastariti would flee back into a now independent northwestern Media, while the Cimmerians would return back to Mannae, or possibly fled to Asia Minor.
Some may wonder what does Esarhaddon’s palace have anything to do with the tribes of Israel? Maybe nothing, but we may have a clue of who the tribes were. During Esarhaddon’s reign, he decided to build a place. During the building of the palace Esarhaddon needed material for his inscriptions. So Esarhaddon stripped the slabs that mentioned the annuals and campaigns of Tiglath-pileser III off the walls, and had them for the most part mutilated. The reason for this is that Esarhaddon wanted them for his own inscription. This very act was never done before nor after Esarhaddon. Now some may say we have many accounts of Tiglath-pileser III from his own inscription’s. This is true. It seems the Esarhaddon kept the beginning rule of Tiglath-pileser III, but when it reaches Tiglath’s campaign in the Northern Kingdom of Israel it is bare! We have a few remnants about Tiglath’s campaign concerning Israel which I provided earlier in the article, and that’s all we have. Also the inscriptions concerning Syria for the most part are gone as well. After King Rezin’s death the inscriptions bare little, if any, if nothing anymore. What’s funny is that Esarhaddon wanted them for his inscriptions. The problem is he never finished it. It would be left alone till it was discovered. This act seems deliberate. It seems that Esarhaddon was damning Tiglath-pileser III for bringing in the Israelites. If you have not noticed so far the name Gimira or Gamera and the many other names that are identical, are often the aggressor going strait for the jugular vein in Assyria. I also know that Assyria had many rebellions within it’s borders. But when the Assyrians are talking about the people of Gimira they get a tongue lashing.
Enter into the midst of the Mannai, all the troops should not enter. Let the cavalry and the Dakku invade the Gimiraa (Cimmerians), who have spoken saying, The Mannai pertain to you, we have not interfered. Certainly this is a lie. They are the offspring of outcasts, they recognize nether the oath of a god nor a (human) agreement. Let the chariots and baggage wagons take up a position on either side of the pass; (then) with the horses and the Dakku, let them enter and take the plunder of the plain of the Mannai; and let them return and at the pass let them bivouac…… once or twice they shall enter and…… plunder and the Gimiraa (Cimmerians)….. they come, the troops…… shall enter against the cities of the Mannai……Belhabu of the Mannai….. they will change to the hands of the king my lord……. on the fifteenth day the moon appears with the sun. This is against them. Will you restrain the feet of the Cimmerians from them? If they approach, their coming and going of any sort I not know? I have sent a message to the king my lord. May the lord of kings inquire of a man acquainted with the country and may the king, at his pleasure, send to his troops raiders in addition to the (other) fighting men. A fortress there against the enemy do you provision for yourself. Let all the troops enter the Gududanu.
As you can see they are regarded as the offspring of outcasts. Which seems to indicate that their forefathers were cast out by God, and the ones being referred to here are the generation that were born in exile. Also we notice that they recognize nether oath of a god nor a human. These two terms seem to correspond with (Amos 4:3). Also this letter shows us how much Esarhaddon hates them, and gives us a good example as to why the slab inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III were mutilated. Esarhaddon wanted all memory erased of these cursed people.
Soon after the battle with the Cimmerians we have this interesting group known as the Ishkuza. These Ishkuza came from the ranks of the Cimmerians and are identified with the Scythians. Before we go on we must understand that the word Scythian is a generic term. George Rawlinson explains: The term ‘Scythic’ is not… ethnical. It designates a life rather than a descent, habits rather than blood. It is applied by Greeks and Romans to Indo-European and Turanian races indifferently, provided they are nomads, dwelling in tents… living on the produce of their flocks and herds…
But who are the Ishkuza, and where did they come from? The name Ishkuza was first mentioned by the Assyrians during the reign of Esarhaddon.
Will the Iskuza warriors who live in the district of the Mannai, and have moved to the frontiers of the Mannai, succeed in their plan? Will they march out the pass of Hubushkia and reach the towns of Harrania and Anisuskia, and take much booty and heavy spoil from the borders of Assyria?
From this inscription we gather that the Ishkuza originated in the region of Mannai (Mannae), and soon after began to spread out and settle on the frontiers of the land of Mannai. Also we have no indication of a war between the Cimmerians and Ishkuza. Also the Assyrians see no difference between the two groups. The Assyrians also called the Ishkuza (Umman Manda) like they did with the Cimmerians. Also many Historians have said that archaeologists cannot distinguish who is a Scythian from a Cimmerian, and their names were also interchangeable. Take for instance the name Iskuzai or Asguzai which occurs rarely in the Assyrian language of Akkadian. But Gimirrai and Gamir were the terms to distinguish the Cimmerians and Scythians in the Assyrian language of Akkadian. Now the name Ishkuza is derived from the Hebrew term Ishak. Ishak means Isaac, and Isaac was the name for the Ten tribes in the Kingdom of Israel (Amos 7:9). Also the name Ishkuza was known as Zohak and Sakai in Persian, and Saka in Afghanistan. This term Saka in Afghanistan is interesting. In the Bactria region near the Oxus river the locals called them Sakan or Iskuza, which both names meant the Sons of Issac. Now that we have an idea who the Iskuza were, the question is what did they do? In 676 BCE the Iskuza (Ishkuza) appear among what was left of the Cimmerians in the region of Mannai. Most of the Cimmerians had long moved west or northwest by this time into Asia Minor, and some possibly went north through the Caucasus into what is today southern Russia, and some of them even joined the ranks of Esarhaddon’s army. Now around 676 BCE a Scythian king by the name Ishpaka led his forces along with the aid of Urartu, and the Cimmerians into Assyria, while making various raids into the region. King Esarhaddon had to do something about the situation before it got way out of hand. In 676 BCE King Esarhaddon met the Iskuza (Scythian) forces and slew King Ispaka in the battle. The Scythains returned north back to Mannai, and King Esarhaddon returned home. Esarhaddon’s next move was to invade the Medes and gain back what they lost, and also put an end to the border raids being conducted by the Medians. But during the invasion of Media it seems the Iskuza (Scythians) were already in northwestern Persia as allies to the Medes, and also settled in the former Kingdom of Urartu where they established their capital known as Sakiz. In any case Esarhaddon still took many Median cities, and a few provinces, and much spoil. We could speculate that Esarhaddon decided not to go the distance due to the presence of the Iskuza in the area. Esarhaddon wrote a prayer about the situation.
I ask thee Samas; great lord, whether the nobles and governors of Bit-kari and Saparda with their warriors, horses and military forces, as many as there may be, will be opposed, and whether… himself, or his son, of the Iskuza warriors, or anyone else who is with him, will attack the nobles and governor, nobles, warriors, horses and troops of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, which are in Bitkari, and which have entered the land of the Medes in order to collect the tribute of horses, (be attacked) by the hand of the Iskuza warriors?
After some time had passed Esarhaddon came up with a sly plan that yanked the Scythians away from their alliance with the Medians. King Esarhaddon gave his daughter to Bartatua the King of the Iskuza (Scythians), in order to gain their support. This would be a good move at first, but over time the Scythians would prove to be to unstable to control, and it also gave them a voice when it came to Mesopotamian politics.
Regarding Bartatua, king of the Iskuza who has just sent his ambassador to Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, about a princess… I ask you Shamash, great lord, if Esarhaddon gives a princess to Bartatua king of the Iskuza for a wife, whether Bartatua will observe and keep his oath to Esarhaddon, king of Assyria?
What I find interesting is that King Esarhaddon is willing to make an alliance with King Bartatua. It seems King Esarhaddon is fearful of the Iskuza, even though King Esarhaddon had beaten the Iskuza forces. Or the Iskuza became powerful due to the influence they had in Media, and that may suggest that some of the Medes were their kin, and they were just protecting their interest. Now after these events King Esarhaddon would begin the task of putting down rebellions one after another in the west during the last years of his life. So much for Pax Assyria when it comes to the west. Now after most of the rebellions were put down, King Esarhaddon would finally die in 669 BCE on his way to Egypt. His son Ashurbanipal would take control of a dying empire.
Ashurbanipal and the Medes:
Ashurbanipal would begin his reign in 668 BCE. Once King Ashurbanipal took the throne he gained the rebellions that his father fought previously. In 667 BCE he sent a stronger army to put down the rebellion in Egypt, and retook the city of Memphis. In doing so a man by the name of Necho would be put on the throne of Egypt with the Assyrian army backing his claim. Now around 664 BCE Gyges of Lydia would come to Ashurbanipal asking for military assistance against the same old foe, the Cimmerians. Ashurbanipal sent a message to his god Shamash asking for what would be a wise thing to do in dealing with the Cimmerians and others. The king wishes to know whether such a messenger will return safely to Assyria, or will he be attacked by the Cimmerians, or the Urartians, or the Manneans, or the Scythians, or the…. eans, or any enemy, and whether they will seize and kill that messenger. Also Ashurbanipal viewed the Gimirrai (Cimmerians) as a wicked people.
They were a wicked enemy, who had never honored my ancestors or me.
Ashurbanipal hated and feared the Cimmerians and Scythians so much, he seems to constantly ask the gods what will their next move be, and how bad will they hurt us. King Gyges would give Ashurbanipal two Cimmerian chieftains to gain military assistance from Assyria. Assyria would help by attacking the Cimmerian rear in Asia Minor. But also Ashurbanipal records that Gyges looked to Egypt for assistance and by doing so rebelled against Assyria. Ashurbanipal was so furious he says: His messenger whom he kept sending to me to bring me greetings, he suddenly discontinued… he sent his forces to the aid of Tushamilki king of Egypt, who had thrown off the yoke of my sovereignty. I heard of it, and prayed to Assur and Ishtar, saying, ‘May his body be cast before his enemy, may his foes carry off his limbs.’ The Cimmerians, whom he had trodden underfoot by calling upon my name, invaded and overpowered the whole of his land.
King Gyges would die in battle against the Cimmerians around 652 BCE. Before the rebellion and death of King Gyges by the Cimmerians. King Ashurbanipal of Assyria invaded the land of the Mannaeans around 660-659 BCE to recover some lost territory, and some key fortresses within and around the region of Mannaean, that Esarhaddon had passed into the hands of the people of Mannaeans. On the way back it seems that Ashurbanipal’s forces invaded into Median territory, and took many towns and fortresses from the Medes. The reason for this is unclear, but for the Medes it meant war. In 653-652 BCE A man by the name of Phraortes who was king of the Medes would lead his forces against Assyria and die in battle. What is interesting about Phraortes name is that its the Greek form for the name Phares. King David of Israel was from the line of Phares. Could it be that this Phraotes was an Israelite who’s family before him was settled among the Medes? The name Phares in Median territory would be rare to hear if ever. In any case the prophet Jeremiah said: As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me. 33:22
As you can read David’s seed was multiplied. It makes one wonder how many more Israelites in captivity were from the line of David.
Iskuza domination of Media:
Soon after the death of Phraortes. King Madyes led his Iskuza (Scythian) forces into the land of the Medes where the Scythians would rule for 28 years. During the 28 year rule most Medes would adopt the manners and customs of their Scythian masters. Everything from dress to warfare. Median families would send their sons to Scythian schools that trained them in the arts of archery and language. We could say Scythianization became the trend from Asia Minor to the Indus Valley. It was during the Scythian rule of Media that the Cimmerians were giving King Ashurbanipal trouble again. In around 641-640 BCE King Dugdammi of the Umman Manda is not the King of the Umman-Manda according to one of Ashurbanipal inscription’s. Ashurbanipal calls him: King of the Saka and Qutium.
This inscription and title makes one wonder if Dugdammi was a Scythian King, or maybe Ashurbanipal couldn’t tell them apart as we noticed earlier with other Assyrian kings in the past. In any case, the terms Cimmerians and Scythians no matter how generic the terms maybe, they are still one in the same.
The Fall of Assyria and the Scythian rampage:
During the reign of Ashurbanipal many rebellions popped up here and there. The beginning of the end for Assyria began in 652 BCE. Ashurbanipal’s older half brother Shamash-shum-ukin, the crown prince of Babylonia, rebelled for he felt that he should be king of Assyria. The war between the two brothers would last for almost three years, and the battles seem to never end. In the end the crown prince of Babylon lost all hope. With his city being slaughtered, he decided to set his palace on fire and die in the flames. Elam would not subdue till it was completely destroyed and Susa leveled. Elam’s gods would become captives in Assyria, and thrown to the four winds. Ashurbanipal would celebrate this triumph by riding his chariot through the streets of Nineveh, with three Elamite princes and a King from Arabia harnessed to his chariot. The Cimmerians were still a problem, but could not be subdued. Egypt had been stripped, and left with only a loincloth to wear. One could look at Ashurbanipal’s reign and say it was a success. But in all reality it was one exhaustive campaign after another. Even though Ashurbanipal drained the riches from the Near East, it also drained him as well, and most likely was the cause of his death. With the death of Ashurbanipal in or between 631 or 627 a message of rebellion went out to all those who wished for revenge. It was soon after that the Scythians launched a massive attack on the Assyrian Empire. After crossing the Assyrian border the city of Calah was in the cross hairs of the Scythians. Calah had great importance due to being not only the military headquarters but also the armory. By taking this city was an act of ripping the heart out of the nation. Assyria was now for the most part without an army. The Scythians would raid town and province, and taking all they can, while burning the past behind them as they left. The Scythians would pass through Assyria like a hot knife through butter. Now out of all this rampage, the Scythians came upon the land of Palestine. Only to be given gifts by Psammitichus the king of Egypt, and sent them on their way. It was some time later around 616 BCE that the Scythians would switch sides back to the Assyrians, and join them along side Mannaeans and Egyptians. The reason for the switch is unclear, and it could be due to the Scythian chiefs that were murdered by the Medes during a banquet. This may have caused the temporary switch that pitted Scythia against Media for a short time. Scythia’s opponent was the Babylonians, Medes (Manda), Guti, and Gimiri. Assyria also sent messengers to the city of Ecbatana. Calling for the Scythians of that city to come to their aid. Once the Scythians arrived they seem to have switched sides, and in 612 BCE the walls of Nineveh came tumbling down, till all that was left was the dust being kicked up from the ground. Also I want to point out that the term Medes at the time Assyria fell seems to be a Greek mistranslation. It seems that the Babylonians didn’t recognize them as Medes, but as Manda which is a different group, and most likely related to the Gimiri. 
1 Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not; 2 The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the prancing horses, and of the jumping chariots. 3 The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcasses; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses: 4 Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts. 5 Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame. 6 And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazing stock. 7 And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee? Nahum 3:1-7 (KJV)
So complete was the destruction of the Assyrian capital that two centuries later Xenophon and his Greek mercenary army of 10,000 men passed the ruins of Nineveh unaware of what they were passing. Not a single vestige of Assyrian power remained. A people who had lived on the Tigris for more than 2,000 years had literally disappeared from the face of the earth. ————-Richard Gabriel, The Great Armies of Antiquity.
In conclusion to this article, we have to realize that not only do they sometimes come back, but sometimes they don’t forget. But before I let you go, I have one last inscription to show you. It’s from the reign of Ashurbanipal. During my research I came across this unique find, and I want to share it with you. You will not find any commentary for this tablet, nor in a book that I’m aware of that even talks about it. This inscription was discovered, translated, cataloged, and forgotten for more then 60 years until now.
To the king of the countries my lord, your servant Bel-ushezib. May Bel, Nabu and Shamash bless the king my lord. When the sun stands within the halo of the moon, (then) shall all men in every land bear witness to the truth: the son shall bear witness to the truth with his father. Saturn stands within the halo of the moon. When a halo surrounds the moon and Cancer stands within it, (it means that) the king of Akkad will continue long in life. When a “river” surrounds the moon, floods and rain storms will follow. Cancer stands within the halo of the moon. A king, mighty and just . . . during the reign of the king your father . . . (fragments) . . . Arad-Gula . . . as follows, “That which concerning the forgotten (?) grain (?) the . . . official . . . . Concerning this word which Mardia heard . . . and the tribal chief.” Yadi’, the tribal chief, and all the chiefs of Yakimanu, had appointed him in the presence of the general, over the country of the Mannai; but now they say, “The slayer of our lord shall not become great over us.”
The lord of kings should ask the generals. May he hear of the welfare of the king, it rejoices me likewise. Now Mardia, the overseer of the slaves of the household of the general, having forsaken his lord, entered the service of Nergal-asharidu; let him bring over the interpreter (?) and the captains to Nergal-asharidu; they shall take (the) oaths and carry one talent of silver with them to their homes. . . . food, grain, date-wine . . . took. May the king know (of it).
Here is the translation of the above emphasized passage with the equivalents of the names Yadi, and Yakimanu given in English.
Chief Judah, the tribal chief [Yadi], and all the chiefs of Jacobs people [Yakimanu] had appointed him in the presence of the general, over the country of the Mannai.
King James Bible/ Yalichev, Mercenaries of the ancient world, p. 74-75
King James Bible/ Rogers, A history of Babylonia and Assyria, Vol II p. 38
Mackenzie, Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 446-447
Dalley, Myths from Mesopotamia, p. 285
Richard A. Gabriel and Karen S. Metz. “From Sumer to Rome: The Military Capabilities of Ancient Armies.” New York: Greenwood Press, 1991
Gordon, The Ancient Near East, p. 228
King James Bible/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King%27s_Highway_%28ancient%29
King James Bible
Sir Henry Rawlinson, Assyrian Discovery, p.246
Caiger, Bible and Spade Ch 12
Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in ancient times p. 342
Stern, Archeology of the land of the Bible Vol II p. 58,64
King James Bible/ Herzog and Gichon, Battles of the Bible p. 197./ Caiger, Bible and Spade Ch 12
King James Bible/ Collins, Israel’s Lost Empires, p. 96-98
Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies Vol I, p. 276-277
Caiger, Bible and Spade, Ch 12
Stern, Archeology of the land of the Bible Vol II, P. 46-48, 237
Stern, Archeology of the land of the Bible volume II, p. 43
Caiger, Bible and Spade, Ch 12
King James Bible
Chavalas, Younger, Jr, Mesopotamia and the Bible, p. 294
King James Bible
King James Bible/ Luckenbill, The Records of Assyria, Vol. II, par 4.
Armstrong, “Jerusalem One City, Three Faiths”, p. 68
Becking, The Fall of Samaria: An Historical and Archaeological study, p. 42
Dalley, Foreign Chariotry and Cavalry in the armies of Tiglathpileser-iii and Sargon-ii, Iraq, vol.xlvii, 1985, London, p.35
Becking, The Fall of Samaria: An Historical and Archaeological study, p. 75
Chavalas, Younger, Jr, Mesopotamia and the Bible, p. 297
King James Bible/ Gabriel, The Great Captains of Antiquity, p. 62
Dalley, The Legacy of Mesopotamia, p. 62
Chavalas, Younger, Jr, Mesopotamia and the Bible, p. 297
Davidiy, The Tribes, p. 79
Davidiy, The Tribes, p. 114
Davidiy, The Tribes, p. 79-83
Davidiy, The Tribes, p. 77
Cameron, History of Early Iran, p. 171
Boutell & Lacombe, Arms and Armour in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, p. 51
Oded, Mass Deportations and Deportees in the Neo-Assyrian Empire, p. 23-25, 35-36
Gabriel, The Great Captains of Antiquity, p. 61
Yalichev, Mercenaries of the ancient world, p. 72-73
Gabriel, The Great Captains of Antiquity, p. 58
Chavalas, Younger, Jr, Mesopotamia and the Bible, p. 298
Saggs, The Might that was Assyria, p. 134-135
Gabriel, The Great Armies of Antiquity, p. 127
Dalley, Foreign Chariotry and Cavalry in the armies of Tiglathpileser-iii and Sargon-ii, Iraq, vol.xlvii, 1985, London, p. 31
Gabriel, The Great Captains of Antiquity, p. 63/ Davidiy, Origin, p. 29
Becking, The Fall of Samaria: An Historical and Archaeological study, p. 75
Keller, The Bible As History, p. 220
King James Bible
Finkelstein/Silberman, The Bible Unearthed, p. 211
V. Vuksic & Z. Grbasic, Cavalry: The History of a Fighting Elite, p. 38
Gabriel, The Great Armies of Antiquity, p. 133
Piotrovvskia, Urartu, p. 130
Yalichev, “Mercenaries of the Ancient World”, p. 72
Kristensen, “Who Were the Cimmerians and Where Did They Come From?” p. 6-8
Gershevitch, The Cambridge History of Iran, p. 93
Davidiy, Origin, p. 36/ Gershevitch, The Cambridge History of Iran, p. 94
Pinches, Assyria and Babylon, p. 339
Davidiy, Origin, p. 37-38
Parpola, Assyrian Identity In Ancient Times And Today, p. 6
King James Bible/ Davidiy, Origin, p. 36
Drews, Early Riders: The Beginnings of Mounted Warfare, p. 119
Capt, Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets, p. 111
Gabriel, The Great Battles of Antiquity, p. 107
Kristensen, Who were the Cimmerians, and were did they come from? p. 13
Capt, Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets, p. 115
Saggs, The Might that was Assyria, p. 94
Gabriel, The Great Captians of Antiquity, p. 65
Keller, The Bible As History, p. 271
Gabriel, The Great Captains of Antiquity, p. 81
Gabriel, The Great Captains of Antiquity, p. 71
Gabriel, The Great Captains of Antiquity, p. 64
Edwards, Boardman, Bury, Cook, The Cambridge Ancient History, p. 356
Capt, Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets, p. 115
Saggs, The Might that was Assyria, p. 94
Chahin, The Kingdom of Armenia, p. 94
Gabriel, The Great Captins of Antiquity, p. 52
Saggs, The Might that was Assyria, p. 98,100-101
Pritchard’s, Ancient near east text, Vol I, p. 200
Oded, Mass Deportations and Deportees in the Neo-Assyrian Empire, p. 23-25, 35-36
Davidy, The Tribes, p. 37
Davidy, Origin, p. 37
Borgeaud, Mother of the Gods: from Cybele to the Virgin Mary, p. 3
Davidiy, The Tribes, p. 31
Saggs, The Might that was Assyria, p. 100-103
Jackson, Women Who Ruled, p. 127
Marsman, Women in Ugarit and Israel, p. 348
Saggs, The Might that was Assyria, p. 104
Davidiy, The Tribes, p. 30
Kristensen, Who were the Cimmerians, and were did they come from? p. 100
Annals of Archeology and Anthropology, By University of Liverpool Institute of Archeology, p. 106
Goodspeed, A History of the Babylonians and Assyrians, p. 291
Annals of Archeology and Anthropology, By University of Liverpool Institute of Archeology, p. 106
Edwards, Boardman, Bury, Cook, The Cambridge Ancient History, p. 564
Roux, Ancient Iraq, p. 327
Capt, Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets, p. 117
Falk, A Psychoanalytic History of the Jews, p. 192
Rogers, A History of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 266-267
Capt, Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets, p. 119-120
Rawlinson, The Sixth Oriental Monarchy, p. 20
Capt, Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets, p. 120
Davidiy, Origin, p. 40-42
Hand, Jeremiah’s Journey, p. 110
Davidiy, Origin, p. 43
Tamara, The Scythians, p. 45
Williams, The Historians’ History of the World, p. 423
Capt, Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets, p. 121
Edwards, Boardman, Bury, Cook, The Cambridge Ancient History, p. 358-359
Klaube, Politische religiose texte, p. 30
Saggs, The Might that was Assyria, p. 108
Drews, Early Riders: The Beginnings of Mounted Warfare, p. 111-112
Capt, Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets, p. 126
Gershevitch, The Cambridge History of Iran, p. 114, 116
Collins, Israel’s Lost Empires, p. 199
Herodotus, The Histories, p. 59
Vogelsang, The Afghans, p. 90
Gershevitch, The Cambridge History of Iran, p. 118
Roux, Ancient Iraq, p. 333-336
Edwards, Boardman, Bury, Cook, The Cambridge Ancient History, p. 219
Keller, The Bible as History, p. 296
Herodotus, The Histories, p. 59
Davidiy, Origin, p. 52
Gabriel, The Great Armies of Antiquity, p. 137
American Oriental Series, Volume 6, State Letters of Assyria; Harper 1109 (83-1-18, 47), pg. 221-2.