HOSHEA ( = "[God is] salvation"; in the Assyrian tablets, "Ausi(a)" ["Zeitschrift für Assyriologie," ii. 261]).
Last of the nineteen kings of Israel; son of Elah (II Kings xv. 30). Hoshea secured the throne through a conspiracy in which he was the leader, and which resulted in the assassination of Pekah, "in the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah" (II Kings xvii. 1). He reigned nine years (ib.), and did that which was evil in the eyes of
The motives of Hoshea's policy are made intelligible by reference to the Assyrian documents and to the political conditions in western Asia reflected by them. Under Ahaz, Judah had rendered allegiance to Tiglath-pileser III. of Assyria, while the Northern Kingdom under Pekah, in league with
So long as Tiglath-pileser was on the throne Hoshea remained loyal; but when Shalmaneser IV. succeeded, he made an effort to regain his independence. In Egypt the Ethiopian dynasty had begun to reign, and Hoshea entered into negotiations with So (, probably more correctly vocalized as ), an underling of King Shabako (see Winckler, "Untersuchungen zur Altorientalischen Gesch." pp. 92-94; idem, in "Mittheilungen der Vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft," i. 5; Rogers, "Hist. of Babylonia and Assyria," ii. 144; comp. Meyer, "Gesch. des Alten, Egyptens," pp. 343-346). Hoshea, probably misled by favorable promises on the part of the Ethiopian ruler of Egypt, discontinued paying tribute. Shalmaneser IV. soon interpreted this symptom, and directed his armies against Samaria. The details of the campaign are not known. It is likely that Hoshea, disappointed by the "broken reed" (="Egypt"; see Isa. xx., xxx. 1-5, xxxi. 1-3), endeavored to avert the calamity by resuming the payment of tribute, but that, distrusted, he was forced to fight, and was taken prisoner in battle (Hommel, "Gesch. Babyloniens und Assyriens," p. 675; Rogers, l.c.). The capital, though deprived of the ruler, made an effective defense, and Shalmaneser died before it was captured (comp. Winckler, in Schrader, "K. A. T." 3d ed., p. 268).
The chronology of Hoshea's reign is involved indifficulties. The Biblical statement in II Kings xv. 30, giving the twentieth year of Jotham as the beginning of the reign, is to be dismissed either as due to a scribal error or as dating from the beginning of Jotham's reign. The "nine years" given Hoshea extend from 733, the year of Pekah's assassination, to 724, the year of Hoshea's capture and three years before the fall of Samaria. These dates, however, are not accepted by all modern scholars (see Hommel, l.c. pp. 964 et seq.; idem, "Assyria," in Hastings, "Dict. Bible"; Tiele, "Babylonisch-Assyrische Gesch. "i. 232; Winckler, "Gesch. Babyloniens und Assyriens," p. 230). References to the events of Hoshea's reign are found in Hosea xi-xiv. and Isa. xxviii.
This last king of Israel appears on the Assyrian monuments as "Ausi(a)." The statement of II Kings xvii. 1 that he ascended the throne in the twelfth year of Ahaz must be dismissed as unhistorical. Hoshea became king in 733 (or in 734); for when Assyria came to the rescue of Ahaz against Rezin of Damascus and Pekah of Israel, the last-named was assassinated and Hoshea appointed or confirmed as king by Tiglath-pileser III. (Schrader, "K. A. T." 2d ed., p. 475; idem, "K. B." ii. 32). From II Kings xv. 29, 30 and xvii. 3-6 it would appear that Hoshea had rebelled twice against Assyria. This at first glance is highly improbable. He had been the leader of the pro-Assyrian party and owed his throne to Tiglath-pileser III. It is reasonable to infer that the death of this monarch brought about the change in Hoshea's relations to the Assyrian suzerain, and induced him to look for foreign allies to enable him to throw off the burden of the annual tribute, which must have been a terrible drain on the people (comp. Hosea v. 11-13).
Winckler first attempted to separate the Biblical passages quoted above into two parallel accounts of one event, in order to eliminate the assumption of two uprisings with refusal of tribute under Shalmaneser. Kittel ("Die Bücher der Könige" on II Kings xvii. 3) meets the difficulty by omitting Shalmaneser as a later gloss. Under Tiglath-pileser, Hoshea paid the annual tribute; after that ruler's death, he regarded, contrary to Hosea's warning, the political conditions as favorable for declaring himself independent.
According to II Kings xvii. 4, So, King of Egypt, was the monarch from whom Hoshea expected effective assistance. Generally this So (or Sewe = Assyrian "Sib'e") is identified with Shabako, the Ethiopian, who at the time controlled the destinies of Egypt. Winckler makes him a prince or vassal prince or even a general of the North-Arabian empire of Muṣri ("Mitt. der Vorderas. Ges." 1898, p. 5), and contends that in this anti-Assyrian movement, in which also Tyre had a share, the last effort was made on the part of the Arabic commercial states to gain control of Palestine, and thus to shut out Assyria from the Arabo-Indian commerce, for which possession of the Mediterranean ports was of vital importance (Schrader, "K. A. T." 3d ed., pp. 268 et seq.).
Hoshea's attempt, whoever were his supporters, failed. In 725
The assumption that Hoshea's wickedness was less than his predecessors' (II Kings xvii. 2) is probably an afterthought (if it is not due to a corruption of the original text; see Lucian's recension of LXX.). Possibly his earlier fidelity to Assyria, which was regarded by the prophetic party as God's predestined instrument, may underly the conception of his (by comparison) less censurable impiety (See Isaiah).