Day 183: Israel Falls to Assyria

2 Kings 17:5-41 After the defeat of Samaria and Israel, Assyria deported a portion of the Israelite population-perhaps ten to twenty percent, and most likely the more elite citizens-to Assyria (ca. 722 BC). The Sacred Author attributes the fall of the Northern Kingdom to the persistent sins of Israel, idolatry, and the failure to worship the One True God. The Lord had sent prophets to warn the people of the consequences of their disobedience, but he was not heeded. Even to the time of Christ, the Samaritans would claim fidelity to the true and proper forms of worship, but the two Books of Kings demonstrate the faith of Abraham was preserved only in Judah. (CCC 1440, 2114, 2138)

Micah 5:1-4 This beautiful passage is a clear prophecy of the coming Messiah. Matthew’s Gospel reconstructs it to speak of Bethlehem as “by no means the least” of the tribes of Judah (cf. Mt 2:4-6). The prophecies foretold that the Messiah would come from the line of David, who also was born in Bethlehem. John’s Gospel also makes reference to this prophecy (cf. Jn 7:40-42). (CCC 207, 712)

Ch 5:5-15 The Messiah would bring an interior peace and joy to the remnant of Israel. The coming of the Savior marks the last days, meaning the final stage of God’s plan for salvation. Through his Death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ overcame sin, and those who accept him enjoy the gift of peace that the world cannot give. (CCC 65, 585, 732)

Ch 6:1-8 The sins of the people still needed to be addressed. Despite all that God had done for his people throughout history, they still turned to idolatry and sin. As in the other prophetic books, God was not swayed by mere burnt offerings and other exterior gestures, for such formalities are useless without interior repentance and conversion of heart. True religious practice goes beyond simply performing rituals of worship but involves loving God and neighbor expressed in concrete deeds. (CCC 1836, 2581)

Ch 6:9-16 The Lord detailed some of the sins of Jerusalem: vendors cheating their customers, the wealthy doing violence and injustice to the poor, widespread deceit, and the practice of idolatry. For all of this, Jerusalem was brought low.

Ch 7:1-20 After some final warnings of punishment, the prophet encouraged prayer inspired by hope in God’s mercy. With great joy in the promise of Israel’s restoration, Micah left his readers with the assurance that Jerusalem would rise again and the enemies of Israel would be punished. God will always remain faithful: forgiving sins, offering mercy and compassion, and maintaining the covenant he made with the patriarchs. (CCC 346)

Psalm 140 This prayer begs for deliverance from evildoers who close in around the petitioner. This appeal is inspired with confidence in God’s justice and assistance, since God has never ceased to come to the aid of those who offer humble prayer. Although the psalmist requests some dire punishments for his enemies, his tone is one of deference to God, who is always just. (CCC 271, 1991)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Key Event 44: Israel Falls to Assyria (2 Kings 17:1-23)

In 722 BC, Assyria destroys the Northern Kingdom of Israel and deports much of its population.  The ten northern tribes become assimilated among the nations and are for the most part lost to history.

Key Event 45: Foreign Possession of Samaria (2 Kings 17:24-41)

The Northern Kingdom of Israel is known by the name of its capital city, Samaria, which is conquered by Assyria in 722 BC.  Assyria forcibly resettles five other conquered peoples in Samaria, resulting in an ethic and religious mix between these resettled Gentiles and the Israelites still left in the land.  The mixed people is the origin of the Samaritans referred to in the New Testament (see Jn 4).

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven, thank you. Thank you for your Word. Thank you for your love for us. Thank you for calling us back to you. Lord God, the Psalmist David is praying. He is praying to you for help because yes, it’s true that we face the snares of our enemies. We face the net that our enemies have laid for us and now those could be human enemies, but just like St. Paul said, ‘The REAL enemies we face are not flesh and blood, but are Principalities and Powers, the evil spirits, the Satan that roams around the world seeking the ruin of souls. And so we pray for your protection against the true enemy. Lord God, you have revealed to us that the forces that are against us are the world, the flesh, and the Devil. The fallen world. The corrupt world. Our own fallen flesh. And the fallen angel of Satan. All three of those obstacles, all three of those enemies trip us up. They become snares for us. And so we just ask you, help us not only to be vigilant and to be wise, to be able to have our eyes open clearly, and to see those traps of the world, the flesh, and the devil. But also, to have the courage in the midst of the battle to call out to you, in the midst of the battle to actually fight. Lord God, let us never ever just exchange comfort for truth. Let us never try to escape discomfort by capitulating to the traps and the snares of the Enemy. Help us always to be courageous, to be wise, and to be yours in all things. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”