The Fall of Samaria Reconsidered

The first thing we should note about the last days of independent Iron Age Samaria is that it was in rebellion against Sargon II (see p. 34) when he campaigned in the West in his second year (in late 720 BC). This would be bizarre had Samaria been devastated by an invasion of Shalmaneser V in 723 BC, but it would be expected had Shalmaneser only imprisoned Hoshea in that year for attempting to ally with Egypt and either left the government to the nobles or peacefully took over Samaria and made it into an Assyrian province. Certainly many towns and most villages of Samaria would be destroyed during a three-year siege of Samaria by Shalmaneser V, thus leaving no room for a revolt of Samaria in late 720 BC. However, if the three year siege is an artificial construct (an idea for which I have argued for before) made up by the author of 2 Kings 17 due to his assumption that the Assyrian deportation of the Samarian villagers to the cities of the Medes and northern Mesopotamia took place in the same year as the last year of the last king of Israel. The second thing we should note about the last days of independent Iron Age Samaria was that Samaria was not destroyed by the Assyrian conquest. This suggests that Samaria was not taken after a three-year long siege, but, rather surrendered peacefully to Sargon II in 720 BC (as Ekron happened to do in the same year, I might add). The third thing we should note about the last days of independent Samaria is that Arpad was involved in the 722-720 BC revolt, even though it had been turned into an Assyrian province after a real three-year long Assyrian conquest only 20 years earlier, thus suggesting the Urartians and Hamathites had a hand in encouraging Arpad to rebel. Samaria and Gaza were likely encouraged by Piankhy and Shabaka of Egypt and Nubia, who fought Sargon II’s army at Raphia after Sargon II’s Samaria campaign. They were defeated. Thus, Sargon II conquered all the Levant in his late 720 BC campaign, and even gained some possible Egyptian territory, that is, the territory between the Besor and the Wadi el-Arish.