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Novotny, Jamie (2018): Contextualizing the last days of the kingdom of Israel. What can Assyrian official inscriptions actually tell us? In: Hasegawa, Shuichi; Levin, Christoph; Radner, Karen (eds.) : The Last Days of the Kingdom of Israel. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, Vol. 511. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter. pp. 35-54


Considerable scholarly effort has been made trying to lift the heavy veil shrouding the details of the history of the final two decades of the kingdom of Israel, including the identity of the Assyrian ruler who conquered its capital Samaria and captured its last king Hoshea. Because there are significant discrepancies in extant primary sources, in particular between the Old Testament and Assyrian inscriptions, scholars have yet to satisfactorily answer the most important questions about this crucial period of history of the Levant. Assyrian sources, especially royal inscriptions, may provide some key pieces to the puzzle, but what can they tell us about the last twenty to thirty years of the kingdom of Israel, the fall of Samaria, and the fate of Hoshea? This paper will examine the available inscriptions of the eighth- and seventh-century Assyrian kings in order to elucidate what information that genre of Akkadian text can and cannot provide with regard to the history of Israel. Special attention will be given to potential lost sources to determine if new Assyrian texts could really help scholars solve some of the mysteries of the Bible. This paper will serve as a general introduction to the more topic-specific papers given in Part I of this book. Nevertheless, I do hope to say a few things not covered in the other presentations. As a word of warning, at least one section of this paper will be purely speculative. However, these conjectures will be deeply rooted in the extant source material of Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon II.