When Assyria Conquered Israel

Not only students, but other sources regularly refer to Assyria conquering Israel in 722 BCE.

This reflects a misunderstanding of the Bible and other evidence.

Assyria was already the dominant power in the region, and had been for a decade or more. Israel and Judah were vassal states within the territory of the Assyrian Empire.

Then they rebelled, and Assyrian sent in troops to punish the rebellious kingdoms and their rulers.

To talk about this as Assyria “conquering” Israel makes it sound as though Assyria was taking over for the first time. But it wasn’t. It was asserting its control over territories which it already possessed, and which were rebelling, expecting that support from Egypt and from one another would be sufficient to accomplish their aim of throwing off Assyrian rule.

They were wrong.



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  • Carlos

    So how did an independent confederation of semitic tribes calling themselves Israel become a vassal state of the Assyrian Empire to begin with?

    • It’s mostly in the Bible.

    • By the Assyrian Empire extending to encompass their region. But I feel like that is stating the obvious, and so perhaps I am misunderstanding what you are asking?

  • Also, Nadav Na’aman has a good piece on Sargon II and the timing of Israel ceasing to be a Kingdom.