People > Tiglath-Pileser III

Tiglath-Pileser III

Background

Tiglath-Pileser III was the king of Assyria who reigned between 745 BCE and 727 BCE and ruled over the Neo-Assyrian Empire. He was responsible for merging the two major kingdoms of Assyria and Babylonia. Since the days of Adad-nirari III (reigned 810–783 bc) Assyria had been politically and militarily weak, for its northern neighbour, Urartu, dominated the states controlling its principal trade routes to the Mediterranean and to the Iranian plateau. Some portions of the empire had ceased to pay the tribute required by treaties. In the spring of 745 bc a rebellion against the weak king Ashur-nirari V, a son of Adad-nirari III, brought a new ruler, who was then governor of Calah, to power. This new ruler assumed the throne name of Tiglath-pileser in what may have been a deliberate reference to an illustrious forebear, Tiglath-pileser I (reigned c. 1115–c. 1077 bc). As king, Tiglath-pileser III, an intelligent and vigorous man, acted swiftly. He rearranged territorial governorships by subdividing the larger provinces that had tended to strive for independence from the central power. Outside the immediate home territory he appointed Assyrian officials to be directly responsible to him as well as to support their local ruler. By 738 there were 80 such provinces. The Assyrians had to report directly to the king, who thus was able to check continuously on the loyalty and efficiency of all of his civil servants. They were responsible for local taxation, the storage of military supplies, and the calling up of local forces to support the new Assyrian army, now a skilled professional force compared with its predecessor, which had relied on somewhat haphazard conscription. A new intelligence system, using reports transmitted by staging posts, was also created. Military campaigns. Tiglath-pileser was thus prepared to break the stranglehold of the surrounding tribes. He first moved eastward against Zamua (modern Sulaymānīyah), then north against the Medes. Both were brought back under control of the adjacent provincial governors. The tribal lands of Puqudu, northeast of Baghdad, were joined to the Arrapkha (Kirkūk) province, thereby holding the Aramaean tribes in check. This and contiguous operations strengthened the hands of Nabonassar, the native king of Babylonia, who maintained peace until his death in 734. All this was facilitated by Tiglath-pileser’s policy of mass resettlement. Groups whose loyalty was assured, since they were now dependent on the king for protection in a foreign environment, were settled in troublesome border regions. In 742–741 alone, tens of thousands were thus resettled. Tiglath-pileser next attacked the Urartian ruler Sarduri II and his neo-Hittite and Aramaean allies, whom he defeated in 743 bc. Advance westward was, however, barred by the capital of Arpad, which had to be besieged for three years—a technique now feasible to a standing army. The victory in 741 was far-reaching, as noted in the Bible (Isaiah 37:13), and was to stem the barbarian pressures from the north that, after Tiglath-pileser, were to threaten civilizations throughout the area. Tribute was brought to him at Arpad from Damascus, Tyre, Cilicia, and other cities and regions. The Assyrian king’s skill is best seen in his handling of affairs in Syria and Palestine. From an independent military headquarters he bypassed the rebels’ ringleader at Damascus, won over most coastal cities, cut off supplies of timber from Egypt, and sent a force to Ashkelon and Gaza. In 734 the border with Egypt was sealed. The tribes of Ammon, Edom, and Moab, who, with Israel, had attacked Ahaz of Judah—a vassal of Assyria—now had to pay tribute. Over the next two years Tiglath-pileser systematically broke the power of Damascus. Israel was made subject through the assassination of Pekah (Pakaha) and his replacement by a pro-Assyrian vassal Hoshea (Ausi). Galilee was made part of an adjacent province. The Assyrian sensed that these rebels were encouraged by Ukin-zer, the Chaldean chief who, in 734, had seized the throne of Babylon. Using consummate diplomacy, Tiglath-pileser sowed discord among other Aramaean tribes, one of whose chiefs he won over. His strategy now paid off. He could move the Assyrian army through areas held by loyal governors or vassals east of the Tigris. One force seized Babylon and another the rebel stronghold of Sapia. It proved a fitting culmination that in 729–728 Tiglath-pileser himself took over the throne of Babylon using his personal (or perhaps Babylonian) name of Pulu (II Kings 15:19; I Chronicles 5:26). He died soon afterward, having set Assyria on the road it was to follow to its end.

Assyrian King List

King Name Years of Rule Kingdom
Eriba-Adad I 1380–1353 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-uballit I 1353–1318 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Enlil-nirari 1317–1308 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Arik-den-ili 1307–1296 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Adad-nirari I 1295–1264 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Shalmaneser I 1263–1234 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Tukulti-Ninurta I 1233–1197 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-nadin-apli 1196–1194 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-nirari III 1193–1188 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Enlil-kudurri-usur 1187–1183 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ninurta-apal-Ekur 1182–1180 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-Dan I 1179-1133 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ninurta-tukulti-Ashur 1333 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Mutakkil-nusku 1333 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-resh-ishi I 1133-1115 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Tiglath-Pileser I 1115-1076 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Asharid-apal-Ekur 1076-1074 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-bel-kala 1074-1056 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Eriba-Adad II 1056-1054 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Shamshi-Adad IV 1054-1050 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-nasir-pal I 1050-1031 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Shalmaneser II 1031-1019 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-nirari IV 1019-1013 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-rabi II 1013-972 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-resh-ishi II 972-967 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Tiglath-Pileser II 967-935 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-Dan II 935-912 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Adad-nirari II 912-891 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Tukulti-Ninurta II 891-884 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Ashur-nasir-pal II 884-859 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Shalmaneser III 859-824 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Shamshi-adad V 824-811 BCE Middle Assyrian Empire
Shammu-ramat 811-808 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Adad-nirari III 811-783 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Shalmeneser IV 783-773 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Ashur-dan III 773-755 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Ashur-nirari V 755-745 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Tiglath-Pileser III 745-727 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Shalmaneser V 727-722 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Sargon II 722–705 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Sennacherib 705–681 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Esarhaddon 681–669 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Ashurbanipal 669–631 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Ashur-etli-ilani 631-627 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Sin-shumu-lishir 626 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Sin-shar-ishkun 627-612 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire
Ashur-uballit II 612-608 BCE Neo-Assyrian Empire

Sources

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