After a period in which Assyria had been weakened by revolts and the encroachments of Urartu to the north, Tiglath‐pileser III (745–727), called Pul in the Hebrew Bible, reasserted Assyrian power. He captured Arvad, invaded Philistia, and received tribute from numerous places and people, including Kumukhu (Commagene), Milid (Melitene), Kue, Samal, Damascus, Tyre, Gebal, the queen of Arabia, and also Menahem of Israel. He reached, but was unable to conquer, Turushpa in Urartu. Having been paid by King Ahaz of Judah to help to counter the attacks being made on his kingdom by Israel and Damascus (2 Kgs. 16: 5–9; see also Isa. 7–8 ), he conquered Damascus and annexed much of Israel, placing Hoshea on the throne of the northern kingdom.
Soon after Tiglath‐pileser was succeeded by Shalmaneser V (727–722), Israel revolted against Assyria. Shalmaneser advanced and imprisoned Hoshea, and besieged and captured Samaria. His successor Sargon II also claimed credit for the defeat of Samaria; in his annals he is reported to have deported 27,290 Israelites to various places in his empire, including the area of the Habor (the river of Gozan) and Media. He rebuilt Samaria, populating it with aliens from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim. He faced further difficulties in the west; Hannoo, the king of Gaza, and Re'e (previously misread as Sib'e and equated with the King So of 2 Kgs. 17: 4 ) the Tartan (commander‐in‐chief or governor general) of Egypt were defeated at Raphia. In 711, Azuri, the king of Ashdod, withheld tribute, and the revolt spread. So Sargon invaded, captured Ashdod along with Gath and Asdudimmu, and made the area an Assyrian province. Sargon also conquered Babylonia which was under Merodach‐baladan, and built a new capital at Dur‐sharrukin (Khorsabad), north of Nineveh.
Sargon's son Sennacherib (705–681) had to face revolts in Phoenicia and Philistia, encouraged by Merodach‐baladan and by Egypt (see 2 Kgs. 20: 12–19 ). Sennacherib advanced down the east Mediterranean coastlands; the Phoenician cities capitulated, and Moab, Edom, and Ammon, among others, sent tribute. An Egyptian–Ethiopian army was defeated at Eltekeh and Ekron was captured. Judah was invaded, numerous cities captured (see ‘The Kingdom of Judah’ ) and Jerusalem besieged. But Sennacherib withdrew without taking the city and King Hezekiah of Judah later sent tribute to Nineveh. Babylonia fell to Sennacherib in 689, and Babylon itself was ruthlessly laid waste.