Assyrian Conquest of Palestine and Syria (c. 743–733 B.C.E.)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Assyria vs. Palestine and Syria
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Present-day Middle East
DECLARATION: None known
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Assyria was empirebuilding,
seeking to make all other states in the region
OUTCOME: Palestine and Syria were thoroughly subjugated.
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
Up until the reign of Tiglath-pileser III (fl. c. 745–727),
Assyria had repeatedly invaded Syria and Palestine but
lacked the administrative organization to maintain control
over the regions. Tiglath-pileser developed an efficient
military state, overcoming Assyria’s bureaucratic shortcomings
and thus creating the conditions for his empire to
dominate the Middle East.
In 743 Tiglath-pileser marched into Syria and defeated
a Urartu army. Poised to capture the Syrian city of Arpad,
Tiglath-pileser was met with heavy resistance. For three
years he laid siege to the city. In 740 Arpad capitulated,
and Tiglath-pileser decimated the population, killing virtually
every inhabitant. Two years later a Syrian-backed
coalition in the north attacked Assyria, meeting with
equally disastrous results. By 735 Tiglath-pileser was master
of all Syria, forcing tribute from every Syrian province
from Damascus to Anatolia.
The following year, 734 B.C.E., the Assyrians conquered
Palestine. The conquest gave Tiglath-pileser control
of the important Gaza coastline, which proved a key
link in obtaining tribute from the leaders of southern Arabia.
Behind the emperor’s back, his vassal states formed a
secret alliance. The plot between Damascus and Israel
against Assyria was revealed, however, when the leaders of
Judah, refusing to join the alliance, approached Tiglathpileser
for protection. The Assyrian king responded by
crushing Israel in 733. The next year the Assyrians marched
on Damascus, executed the king, and replaced him with
an Assyrian puppet. Both Syria and Palestine would
remain in foreign hands for the next 27 centuries.
See also ASSYRIAN WARS (746–609 B.C.E.).
Further reading: Robert W. Rogers, A History of Babylonia
and Assyria (Santa Clarita, Calif.: Books for Libraries,
1971); Nigel Tallis, Assyria at War, 1000–610 B.C. (London: