Samarian Tribute

Credit:, Ashmolean Museum

Deuteronomy 17 discusses laws that relate to kings. “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us, be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite.” The king is also not to “take many wives, or his heart will be led astray” and not to “turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.”

In 2 Kings 9, Jehu the son of Nimshi set about to take the throne from Joram son of Ahab, the Ahab whose wife Jezebel had turned her husband towards other gods and who killed God’s prophets.

On Jehu’s dash to reach Joram son of Ahab, the lookout recognized who was coming. “The lookout reported, “The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi, he drives like a maniac.” Jehu found Joram and “drew his bow and shot Joram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart and he slumped down in his chariot. Jehu said to Bidkar, his chariot officer, Pick him up and throw him on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite.” Jehu then found the wife who led Joram astray. “He looked up at the window and called out, Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. Throw her down! Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.”

Jehu’s taking of the throne initiated a new dynasty. He would be followed by his descendants Jehoahaz, Jehoash and Jereboam.

In 2 Kings 13, Jehu’s grandson Jehoash, by then king, would retake territory from the Arameans. “Hazael king of Aram died, and Ben-Hadad his son succeeded him as king. Then Jehoash son of Jehoahaz recaptured from Ben-Hadad son of Hazael the towns he had taken in battle from his father Jehoahaz. Three times Jehoash defeated him, and so he recovered the Israelite towns.”

While Jehoash had success against the Arameans, he appears not to have been impervious to danger.

Adad-nirari III was the King of Assyria from 811 to 783 BC, and like many of his forerunners, he had a military policy to extract resources from neighboring states. In the Tell al-Rimah Stela, Adad-nirari III records that “I received 2,000 talents of silver, 1,000 talents of copper, 2,000 talents of iron, 3,000 linen garments with multicolored trim – the tribute of Mari’ – of the land of Damascus. I received the tribute of Jehoash the Samarian, of the Tyrian ruler and of the Sidonian ruler.” The Jehoash the Samarian appears to be the one mentioned in the Bible, identified by the city from which he ruled, Samaria.

It is notable that in the earlier Assyrian ‘Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser’ the Israelite king is identified as coming from the land of Omri, Ahab’s father. The Tell al-Rimah Stela appears to recognize that this king of Israel, Jehoash, is not a descendent of Omri and Ahab, but rather is from a different line and is identified by his capital city at Samaria.

An image of the Tell al-Rimah stela can be seen in the image via this link below:

The image above is of a cylinder seal of Adad-Nirari III, held at University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum.