Copyright 1994 - 2019 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
August 27, 2012
Last Updated :
August 27, 2012
NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.
King David's Conquest Of Damascus Hamath And Zobal In Syria, Continuous Border Wars Before Empires Nations And Kingdoms, Top Of The Mountain Isn't Always So Peaceful, The Spirit Of Competition Is The Spirit Of The World, Border Skirmishes In Northeastern Israel, Jeroboam Recovers Damascus And Hamath, Ministry Of The Prophet Jonah, Jewish Rebellion: Vessels Of Wrath And Rods Of Chastisement, Israelite Apostasy Leads To Assyrian Conquest Of Northern Kingdom Of Israel And Ten Lost Tribes Are Deported To Assyrian-Held Lands, Israelites Were Invaders And Aggressors, Millennia-Long Sibling Rivalries, Psalm 83 As Viewed From Perspective Of Threatened Nations, First Diaspora: Shalmaneser And Assyrians Conquer Northern Kingdom Of Israel, Ten Lost Tribes Deported, Second Diaspora Occurs As Babylonians Destroy Jerusalem And Solomon's Temple And Deport The Jews To Babylon, Cooperate Or Be Invaded And Conquered, Third Diaspora 70 AD : Vespasian And Titus Invade Jerusalem And Destroy Temple, The Jews Are Again Dispersed, Fear Of Discovery And Retribution, The Axe Will Always Fall, Psalm 83 War Doctrine Is False And Is Promoted By Misguided Christians And Zionist Jews, Twisting And Misinterpreting Old Testament Prophecies, Pro-Israel Anti-Iran Psychological Warfare In The Mass Media, Hollywood's Version Of The Jews
Continuing our discussion concerning the Syrians and Hamath, at least three hundred and seventy years after the death of Joshua, and following the period of the Judges, we find King David conquering the Syrians. In the following set of verses, due to the ambiguity of the word "he" in the phrase "he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates", it is somewhat difficult to ascertain if King David sought to recover the northern border of the kingdom of Israel from the Syrian king Hadadezer, or if the Syrian king Hadadezer sought to recover the border of his kingdom from King David. In these verses, Zobah is a Syrian kingdom -- or region -- that was located near or next to Hamath:
"David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates. And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: and David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots. And when the Syrians of Damascus came to succour Hadadezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men. Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus: and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts. And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went. And David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem. And from Betah, and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, king David took exceeding much brass. When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the host of Hadadezer, Then Toi sent Joram his son unto king David, to salute him, and to bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer, and smitten him: for Hadadezer had wars with Toi. And Joram brought with him vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and vessels of brass: Which also king David did dedicate unto the LORD, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated of all nations which he subdued; Of Syria, and of Moab, and of the children of Ammon, and of the Philistines, and of Amalek, and of the spoil of Hadadezer, son of Rehob, king of Zobah. And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of the Syrians in the valley of salt, being eighteen thousand men."
2 Samuel 8:3-13, KJV
The same holds true in the following set of verses as well. It is a bit difficult to know for certain if the phrase "as he went to stablish his dominion by the river Euphrates" is referring to King David doing this, or King Hadarezer doing this. As a matter of clarification, please note that these verses are referring to the part of the Euphrates River that flows through northeastern Syria, and not to the part that flows through the length of modern-day Iraq, which at that time had not yet become the dominant Babylonian Empire:
"Now after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them, and took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines. And he smote Moab; and the Moabites became David's servants, and brought gifts. And David smote Hadarezer king of Zobah unto Hamath, as he went to stablish his dominion by the river Euphrates. And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: David also houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them an hundred chariots. And when the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadarezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men. Then David put garrisons in Syriadamascus; and the Syrians became David's servants, and brought gifts. Thus the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went. And David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadarezer, and brought them to Jerusalem. Likewise from Tibhath, and from Chun, cities of Hadarezer, brought David very much brass, wherewith Solomon made the brasen sea, and the pillars, and the vessels of brass. Now when Tou king of Hamath heard how David had smitten all the host of Hadarezer king of Zobah; He sent Hadoram his son to king David, to enquire of his welfare, and to congratulate him, because he had fought against Hadarezer, and smitten him; (for Hadarezer had war with Tou;) and with him all manner of vessels of gold and silver and brass. Them also king David dedicated unto the LORD, with the silver and the gold that he brought from all these nations; from Edom, and from Moab, and from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines, and from Amalek. Moreover Abishai the son of Zeruiah slew of the Edomites in the valley of salt eighteen thousand. And he put garrisons in Edom; and all the Edomites became David's servants. Thus the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went."
1 Chronicles 18:1-13, KJV
Regardless of how we choose to interpret the previous two sets of verses, the main point to consider is that there were constant border skirmishes between the Israelites and the Syrians; and these wars and threats of war were still occurring between these two parties at the time that Asaph wrote Psalm 83 about one hundred years later. As I have mentioned before, whenever one is on top of the mountain, it is not always necessarily a peaceful place to be, due to the fact that one's enemies are constantly endeavoring to pull him down, so that they can occupy that coveted position. We see the same thing happening in the world today as well, in the political world, in the business world, in the world of sports, etc. The spirit of competition is the spirit of the world.
As the previous verses reveal, one point which becomes very evident as we study the Scriptures, is that just as still occurs in our current time, ancient borders were constantly switching back and forth as empires, nations, kingdoms and kings waged wars against each other and raided each other's territories, as they endeavored to expand their sphere of power and influence. As I mentioned a moment ago, following the collapse of the United Kingdom which occurred after the reign of David's son, Solomon, this very same area in the extreme northeastern part of Israel continued to be a source of trouble for the kings of Judah and Samaria. It seems that another border change occurred about seventy years after the reign of King Jehoshaphat, who, as I mentioned in part one, reigned about one hundred years after King David. Allow me to emphasize again that it is commonly held that Psalm 83 describes events -- and a threat -- which actually occurred during Jehoshaphat's reign, and there is really no reason to think otherwise.
However, in the latter case, that region of Syria was not recovered by a Judean king. It was regained by Jeroboam, who was the son of Joash, and the king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Furthermore, the Scriptures seem to indicate that Jeroboam did not recapture the two cities of Damascus and Hamath and the region to the sea for the king of Judah, who at that time was Amaziah. Rather, Jeroboam recovered them for himself; that is, to keep them as a part of his own kingdom. These events would have occurred about two hundred years after the time of King David. Consider the following verses, and notice that we are told that Jeroboam did this "for Israel", and not for Judah, which was the Southern Kingdom:
"In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher. For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel. And the LORD said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash. Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?"
2 Kings 14:23-28, KJV
Once again, there is a degree of ambiguity in the previous verses. You will notice that they say "Damascus and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel". While it is clear that Jeroboam restored this area to the Northern Kingdom, what is not clear is if he recovered it from the Assyrians, or from the king of Judah; that is, Amaziah. Considering that Israel had already been divided into northern and southern kingdoms, it does not make much sense that Damascus and Hamath would still pertain to the Southern Kingdom. Thus, my impression is that what is really being implied here is "which [formerly] belonged to Judah". That Jeroboam took these lands from the Assyrians to the north makes a lot more sense; particularly when we see exactly how the Assyrians eventually responded to these acts of aggression which were being perpetrated by the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel; which I will discuss momentarily.
One other point which is worthy of note is that the writer states that the Prophet Jonah -- who prophesied against the Assyrians for forty days -- prophesied that Jeroboam would restore this region to the Northern Kingdom. However, if we read the Book of Jonah, we discover that there is no mention of this war whatsoever. Therefore, we can conclude that the writer of the Second Book of the Kings is revealing something that is not included in the Book of Jonah, and that Jonah did more than just prophesy against the city of Nineveh.
As I amply point out in the series entitled "The Fruits of Disobedience", despite God's patience with, and great Mercy on the ancient Israelites, they just never seemed to learn their lesson for very long. No matter how many times God delivered them from their enemies, they just kept falling back into their sinful, rebellious ways again and again. I have made it abundantly clear in a number of my articles -- as I have in this one as well -- that God used these foreign powers and nations as His "vessels of wrath", and His "rods of chastisement", to keep the Jews in line. Whenever they would fall into apostasy, the Lord would send them problems through their enemies; whether it was the Midianites, the Philistines, the Edomites, or some other nation.
It isn't surprising then that about ninety-four years after the reign of Judean king Amaziah -- at which time Jeroboam regained Damascus, Hamath and the surrounding region -- that the Israelites were once again worshipping the foreign gods. Thus, the Lord was forced to deal with them. The Israelites already knew that they were backslidden from the Lord. They knew that if they kept mocking the Lord, that He would not ignore their rebellion forever. One reason why they were so aware of their sins, is because the Prophet Isaiah warned them for years regarding what was about to happen to them. Please note that I am referring to the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
As you can imagine, the Assyrians -- note that Assyria was still the dominant power at that time, and not Babylonia -- had an axe to grind, due to the events which we have already discussed. In other words, they were tired of the Israelites continuously trying to grab territory from the southwestern corner of their empire. So how did the Assyrians respond?
As I point out in other articles, not only did the Assyrians -- under the leadership of Shalmaneser V -- regain the cities which they had lost, but they went even further and conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, deported the so-called "Ten Lost Tribes" to some of their own controlled territories, and imported foreigners into the Northern Kingdom. These events occurred during the reign of Judean king Ahaz, who ruled the Southern Kingdom of Judah just prior to good king Hezekiah. Consider the following verses:
"In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents. And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city. And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree: And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the LORD carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger: For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing. Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them. And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. Also Judah kept not the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the LORD, and made them sin a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof."
2 Kings 17:1-24, KJV
Considering the volume of Scriptural evidence which I have now provided, it should be clear to you why the Syrians would choose to join the military confederacy which was conspiring against Israel in Psalm 83. As with the other nations which we have examined, they viewed the Israelites as the invaders and the aggressors. As we have already learned, for more than four hundred years, the Jews literally disappeared from sight while they were in bondage in Egypt. Then, once God liberated them through the hand of Moses, they very aggressively began their campaign to conquer the land of Canaan and the outlying areas. They interrupted what had been the status quo for many hundreds of years, stepped on a lot of toes, and engendered fear in the surrounding nations.
One related point that is worth mentioning here is that while the Assyrians were descended from Shem's second son, Asshur, Abraham's family -- and thus the Israelites -- were descended from Shem's third son, Arphaxad. So what we can see in both Biblical history and secular history, is that since the very first conflict which occurred in the Book of Genesis between the first two siblings -- that is, Cain and Abel -- there have been continual rivalries between different brothers and their descendants. In fact, as I have mentioned before, the current situation in the lands of the Middle East is really one, long, drawn-out family feud between the different sides of the Patriarch Abraham's family. The intervention by some foreign powers -- particularly the British and the French -- which carved up the Middle East as they pleased, may have only aggravated the problem further.
With our discussion of the Syrians, we have now examined to a limited degree, the various parties who posed a threat to Israel, and who Asaph prayed against in Psalm 83. We have also come to understand some of the reasons why they would hold hostile attitudes towards the Jews of Judah, as well as towards the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom. To reiterate, for the most part, the Israelites were the aggressors since the time of Moses and Joshua. They had territorial conquest on their minds for literally hundreds of years. Obviously, I cannot possibly discuss every single conflict, hostility and war which may have occurred between Israel and these other kingdoms. To do so would require a great deal of time, and would extend this already lengthy series into a book-length tome.
While some of you who are reading this series -- particularly those of you who are Christians and pro-Israel supporters -- may view what the ancient Israelites did, and what the modern Jews continue to do, as their "Divine Right", in our attempt to understand the context of Psalm 83, we simply cannot adopt that position. We need to view the situation which existed at that time from the perspective of those nations who had lost something to the Israelites, and who felt threatened by the Israelites. Once you do this, you will come to understand why the conspiracy existed in the first place. You will hopefully also come to understand why Psalm 83 deals specifically with a situation which existed at that time -- that is, during the time of King Jehoshaphat and Asaph -- and that it is not a prophecy, and has nothing to do with a war in the Middle East at some point in our own near future.
What should also hopefully be apparent to you, is that the fears which Asaph expressed in Psalm 83, became a reality in a matter of decades, and reached their maximum fulfillment about two hundred years after the reign of King Jehoshaphat, when Assyrian forces under the leadership of King Shalmaneser regained the cities which the Syrians had lost, conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, deported the "Ten Lost Tribes" to Syrian controlled territories, and imported foreigners into the Northern Kingdom, as a way to weaken the local populace. Historically-speaking, this event is referred to as the First Diaspora. As I mentioned earlier, this invasion is also what the Prophet Isaiah foresaw coming, as a result of the sins of his people.
To add to this point, I should also mention that about one hundred and fifty years later, the Southern Kingdom of Judah suffered a very similar fate -- and for very similar reasons such as gross idolatry -- when the armies of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel, destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple which had been built by Solomon, and carried off many thousands of Jews to Babylon. I discuss these events in more detail in other articles, so I will limit their mention here. This dispersion of the Jews from Jerusalem and Judah by the Babylonians is referred to as the Second Diaspora. The final siege and conquest -- and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple -- occurred around 587 BC.
Exactly how each of the parties who are mentioned in Psalm 83 carried out their roles is difficult to say, due to a lack of specifics in both the Scriptures and in the secular historical record. However, there are several points which are worthy of our consideration. The first of these points is survival. When a world power -- in this case, the Assyrian and the Babylonian Empires -- embarks on territorial expansion, minor players -- such as the nations which are mentioned in Psalm 83 -- have a choice. Either they can acquiesce to the demands of the major player -- meaning become puppet states, pay tribute and maybe contribute soldiers and supplies to their armies -- or else they can resist, and be invaded and conquered themselves.
If we consider how much the different Psalm 83 nations hated the Israelites, it makes perfect sense that they would take advantage of a major world power coming along, and would side with that power in order to wreak revenge on the Jews. This could be what the conspiracy was all about. If you are at all familiar with the events surrounding the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, this is exactly what occurred. The Romans did not go it alone. While Vespasian and Titus were obviously the major players in that conflict -- that is, the First Jewish-Roman War -- they were joined by local allies, as well as by the armies of King Herod Agrippa II, who had fled from Jerusalem when the unrest intensified there. This was in fact the Third Diaspora, which resulted in the Jews being dispersed yet again. They just never seem to learn.
In both cases when the Assyrians and the Babylonians invaded and conquered Israel and Judah, it is probable that the enemy nations which are mentioned in Psalm 83, were quick to take advantage of the situation. In other words, they acted like vultures and scavenged on the remains of what had been Israel and Judah. So again, those things which Asaph feared in Psalm 83 were no doubt realized. I am reminded of something which the Patriarch Job said in the Book which is named after him:
"For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me."
Job 3:25, KJV
Whether we are speaking of a nation, or of an individual, or even of a child, the simple truth of the matter is that the reason why we fear, is because we know in our hearts that we are doing something wrong, and we fear discovery, as well as eventual retribution. The Apostles Peter and Paul both say the very same thing when they write the following:
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."
Hebrews 10:26-27, KJV
"Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake."
Romans 13:2-5, KJV
As I mentioned earlier, the Israelites knew that they were in rebellion against the Lord, and they were aware of the fact that the axe of God's Judgments would fall sooner or later, as it always does. Yet they persisted in their sins until the Lord let His anger be felt in a very powerful way; on three different occasions, in fact: the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Romans.
To reiterate, everything we have examined strongly suggests that Psalm 83 actually describes past historic events which have already transpired, and that it is not a prophecy about a near-future war which will occur in the Middle East between the state of Israel and her Arab and Muslim enemies, as some Zionist-leaning Christians have proposed. As such, I remain personally convinced by the Scriptural evidence which I have presented to you, that the Psalm 83 War doctrine is nothing short of a false doctrine. My impression is that it has been promoted in different areas of the Internet by some misguided Christians, quite possibly with the tacit approval of certain Zionist Jews themselves.
The evidence I have seen suggests that these Christians have patched together different verses from different Prophetic Books in the Old Testament, in order to convince people that Psalm 83 is a near-future prophecy. The misguided Christians who commit this mistake have taken some of these prophecies out of their proper historical context, in order to weave together their futuristic interpretation, and it is wrong to do this. In short, I simply do not believe that these people even know what they are talking about. They are in way over their heads, and they are leading people astray. Let me again remind my readers of the following verses:
"Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm."
1 Timothy 1:5-7, KJV
"And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know."
1 Corinthians 8:2, KJV
"And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
2 Peter 3:15-16, KJV
If we consider the psychological war which is currently being waged in the mass media by both the Israelis and pro-Israel supporters, as a result of the threat -- real or imagined -- from Iran, it becomes even more apparent why these misguided Christians would promote this Psalm 83 War false doctrine, in which Israel will supposedly prevail over her enemies. But the point remains that I am personally convinced that these people are wrong. You may or may not agree with my assessment.
While some modern Christians -- particularly Christians who reside in the United States of America -- are enamored with Israel and are very pro-Israel, and continue to view the Jews as God's "Chosen People" who apparently can do no wrong, and who have the right to do as they please, I suspect that their perception of the Jews is skewed in large part by the modern entertainment industry, as well as by other forms of the mass media. Given that Hollywood -- or unHolywood as I prefer to call it -- is controlled by powerful Jews, it should come as no surprise to us that it produces a lot of movies which all promote a very pro-Israel position.
Sadly, for a lot of Christians -- at least for Christians who reside in the USA -- their knowledge of the Jews' history can probably be summed up in glorious movie extravaganzas such as "The Ten Commandments", "Ben Hur" and 1995's "Moses", which starred British actor Ben Kingsley. Quite a few movies and TV mini-series have also been produced which explore the lives of the early Patriarchs, as well as some of the Prophets, and a few of the more famous kings such as David and Solomon. But have you ever wondered why there is so much cinematographic silence following the lives of the early Patriarchs and the liberator Moses? This is a question which I will address as we continue this series in part seven.
Please go to part seven for the conclusion of this series.
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