Jeroboam II ruled Israel for forty years. Because of his kindness to the prophets Jonah and Amos, he was spared the misfortune that had been foretold for the dynasty of Jehu and the people of Israel. The city of Nineveh repented when G‑d sent His prophet to them, but the people of Israel refused to mend their evil ways. They became worse from day to day.

After Jeroboam died, his son Zechariah ascended the throne. His weak and sinful rule had lasted scarcely six months when he was openly murdered by Shallum, before all the people. Shallum slaughtered all the descendants of Jehu's family and made himself king over Israel. However, his reign had lasted only one month when he too was slain by a man called Menahem ben Gadi.

Menahem was not better than his predecessors. Being a professional soldier, he ruled by brutal force. Seeing that only a few of the people sympathized with him, he ruled with extreme cruelty. He destroyed entire cities when there was only a rumor of revolt. He killed many thousands of people who did not please him, and thus he became increasingly disliked by his subjects.

Assyrian Oppression

In addition to internal unrest and anarchy, there was trouble from outside. As the prophet Amos had foretold, the kingdom of Assyria had slowly won supremacy over all its neighbors. Led by their king Put, the Assyrians invaded the land of Israel, which lay in the path of their conquests to the West and the South. Menahem was so engrossed in the fight against his adversaries within, that he preferred to give up all resistance to the invaders and pay heavy tribute in exchange for King Pul's promise to support his rule. The one thousand talents of silver which he promised to pay the king of Assyria were collected from the people, of whom each man had to pay fifty shekels.

Pekahiah and Pekah

Menahem died after ruling for ten years. He was succeeded by his son Pekahiah. But two years later the king was murdered by Pekah ben Remaliah, one of the army generals.

The weight of Assyria's dominion over the land of Israel began to bear down more heavily. Pekah saw there was no escape from complete subjugation by Assyria. He therefore willingly joined the revolt which King Rezin of Syria had raised against Assyria, in the hope of enlisting Egypt also in an effort to stem the tide of Assyrian conquest.

Pekah and Rezin approached the king of Judea to join their league. But King Jotham, and later King Ahaz, warned by their prophets, refused to be a party to the revolt. Pekah and Rezin threatened Judea and finally invaded it, avenging themselves cruelly upon its inhabitants that fell into their hands. Ahaz, however, appealed to King Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria to come to his rescue. Tiglath-Pileser had only waited for this opportunity. His armies marched into Syria, defeated Rezin, killed him, and occupied the land, which Tiglath-Pileser then annexed and made one of Assyria's provinces. Next he turned against Israel and sliced off most of the northern part of the land, taking the inhabitants captive.

Hoshea—Last King of Israel

Then Tiglath-Pileser organized and supported a revolt against King Pekah, under the leadership of Hoshea, son of Elah. Hoshea killed Pekah in the twentieth year of his rule and became first administrator and, after eight years, king, by Assyria's grace.

During all this time the morale of Israel sank lower and lower. But Divine retribution was not long in coming. Lack of political leadership and the continued process of losing one province after another to Assyria completely demoralized the population. Under the circumstances, there seemed no hope for the Northern Kingdom to survive.

End of Northern Kingdom

In the meantime Tiglath-Pileser died and was succeeded by Shalmaneser, who was just as cruel and ruthless as his predecessor. He annexed one province of Israel after another and finally left the king not much more than the immediate land around Samaria. In his despair, Hoshea turned to the King of Egypt for help, but Shalmaneser found out about it and imprisoned Hoshea. Then he ravaged what was left of the land of Israel and besieged Samaria. The city held out for three years. The capital of the Northern Kingdom fell (in the year 3205), and the Kingdom of Israel (or Ephraim) came to an end. Scores of thousands of the conquered people were led into captivity. In their place came other settlers from Assyria, especially the Kutheans, who became known as the Samaritans. They occupied the cities of the land of Israel and became half assimilated with the remaining native Israelites. Although they worshiped the G‑d of Israel, they also clung to their idols. The people of Israel, however, who for the most part were transported to the Assyrian empire, disappeared completely without leaving any indication of their fate. No trace has been found of the Ten Tribes. Tradition has it that when G‑d gathers the Jewish exiles from all corners of the earth, the "lost tribes of Israel" will also return to their homeland under the leadership of the Messiah, a descendant of the house of David. Israel will then once again be a united people, one nation, one land, one faith, one G‑d.