BAR 34:05, Sep/Oct 2008
There is a large and ever-growing body of extrabiblical evidence that confirms the existence of well over a dozen kings of ancient Israel and Judah. The dates of these outside sources also provide general corroboration for the sequence of kings outlined for both Israel and Judah in 1 and 2 Kings.
The various royal cuneiform inscriptions of the neo-Assyrian empire offer the most compelling confirmation of ancient Israel’s monarchic history. Ten Israelite kings have been identified in Assyrian documents from the ninth to seventh centuries B.C.: Omri, Ahab, Jehu, Joash, Menahem, Pekah and Hoshea of Israel, and Ahaz, Hezekiah and Manasseh of Judah.c The Assyrian records show that although some Israelite kings, such as Ahab and Hezekiah, chose to defend their lands against the expanding Assyrian empire, other kings, like Jehu and Ahaz, sought to secure a more peaceful relationship with Assyria by sending tribute. In addition, a Babylonian ration text recording oil shipments makes reference to Jehoiachin, one of the last kings of Judah.