HOSHEA (Heb. הוֹשֵׁעַ; probably an abbreviation of a fuller form ending with the divine appellation and meaning "[Let] yhwh save"; A-ú-si-ʾ in Assyrian inscriptions), son of Elah and the last king of Israel (732–724 b.c.e.). Hoshea secured the throne after his revolt against *Pekah son of Remaliah and the latter's assassination (ii Kings 15:30), an event which occurred after the Assyrian king *Tiglath-Pileser iii (745–727) had exiled most of the kingdom of Israel and divided it into Assyrian provinces (732 b.c.e.; ibid., 15:29); Hoshea's rump kingdom was thus confined to the hill country of Ephraim. It appears that in his revolt and assumption of the throne he was supported by the Assyrians, but it also is possible that he gained Assyrian approval and support after his revolt. Tiglath-Pileser iii recorded in his annals that after the Samarians overthrew Pekah, he made Hoshea king, and imposed a tribute on him (Pritchard, Texts, 284; Tadmor, 140–41). Thus, from the start Hoshea was a vassal of Assyria.
Accordingly, the notice in ii Kings 17:3 that Shalmaneser v (727–722) came up against Hoshea is an indication that the death of Tiglath-Pileser had encouraged Hoshea to attempt to free himself of the Assyrian yoke. Unsuccessful, Hoshea paid tribute for some time, but then rebelled against Assyria counting on aid from Egypt (see *So), probably within a broader framework of a planned anti-Assyrian revolt. Hosea was imprisoned by the king of Assyria, but the king was, nonetheless, compelled to besiege the city. According to ii Kings 17:6 the Assyrian king besieged Samaria for three years (ii Kings 17:4), but in the ninth year of Hoshea's reign conquered Samaria and sent the northerners into exile. During the progress of the siege the city was apparently governed by the elders or by army officers. Some of the chronological details are unclear. The "three years" may be less than three full calendar years. The name of the king of Assyria who conquered Samaria is not given in ii Kings 17:6. According to the Babylonian Chronicle, Shalmaneser v demolished Samaria. But according to the inscriptions of Sargon ii (722–705) it was he who conquered Samaria and the whole of the land of Omri (i.e., Northern Israel). Apparently, Sargon's claim refers to the final conquest after Hoshea's deposition, The statement in ii Kings 17:2, Hoshea "did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, yet not as the kings of Israel who were before him," seems to mean that he abolished the golden calf of Beth-El, "the sin of Jeroboam, son of Nebat," for which all his predecessors were censured. However, speculative statements in the Talmuds explain the sentence as referring to his having abolished the guards that Jeroboam i had placed on the road leading to Jerusalem to prevent pilgrims from visiting the Temple (Ta'an. 30b–31a; tj, Ta'an. 4:9, 69c; see also The Fifteenth of *Av).
Bright, Hist, 257–8; Olmstead, in: ajsll, 21 (1904), 179–84; E.R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (1951), 105ff.; Tadmor, in: Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 12 (1958), 22–40, 77–100; May, in: ba, 6 (1943), 57–60; Alt, Kl Schr, 2 (1953), 188–205; Albright, in: basor, 130 (1953), 8–11; 141 (1956), 23–27; J.A. Montgomery, The Book of Kings (icc, 1951), 464–6. add. bibliography: M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, ii Kings (1988); J. Kuntz, in: abd, 3:298–99; B. Becking, The Fall of Samaria (1991); H. Tadmor, The Inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser iii King of Assyria (1994).
[Jacob Liver /
S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]