2 Kings 16-17; 2 Chronicles 28; Isaiah 7-8
The final days of the northern kingdom of Israel were marked by a failed gamble and a desperate gambit. The failed gamble came as an attempt by Aram and Israel to compel neighboring states (including Judah) to form an alliance against the expanding Assyrian Empire around 735 B.C. When Judah refused, Aram and Israel attacked Judah and tried to set up a man named Tabeel as king in Jerusalem, and it is likely that Edom and Philistia raided Judah as well. In desperation, King Ahaz of Judah made a costly gambit: He petitioned the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III (also called Pul) for help, but this help would come at the expense of a sizeable tribute and Judah’s independence. Assyria attacked Aram and Israel (annexing all of Aram and much of Israel), but thereafter Judah became a vassal, or subject kingdom, to Assyria and was required to pay them regular tribute. This time of intense fear, anxiety, and complex political maneuvering by Assyria, Aram, Israel, and Judah forms the backdrop for Isaiah’s famous prophecies in Isaiah 7-8. The northern kingdom of Israel never regained its strength after this and was completely absorbed into the Assyrian Empire by 722 B.C.