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SHALMANESER (shăl'măn-ē'zêr, Heb. shalman’-eser, Assyr. Sulman-asaridu, Sulman [the god] is chief). The title of five Assyrian kings, only one of whom is directly mentioned in the OT; another one is important because he refers to an Israelite king.

1. Shalmaneser III (859-824 b.c.), son of Ashurnasirpal; the first Assyrian king who, as far as the records reveal, had political and military contacts with a king of the northern kingdom of Israel. Although Shalmaneser III is not mentioned as such in the biblical narrative (1Kgs.16.29-1Kgs.22.40; 2Chr.18.1-2Chr.18.34), yet his Monolith Inscription in the British Museum recounts a coalition composed principally of Syria (Hadadezer = Ben-Hadad) and of Israel (“Ahab, the Israelite”), which he met and presumably defeated at Karkar, north of Hamath in the Orontes Valley, in 853. Ahab, according to this inscription, contributed two thousand chariots and ten thousand troops in the battle against Shalmaneser. As indicated above, no record of this event is found in the contemporary biblical data. The reference to Ahab in a nonbiblical archaeological source adds substantial weight to the trustworthiness of the OT record.

SHALMANESER shăl’ mə ne’ zər (שַׁלְמַנְאֶ֖סֶר; Gr. Σαλαννέσαρ; Σαλμανάσαρ; Assyr. S̆ulmanuašaridu, “[the god] S̆ulman is chief”). The name of several Assyrian kings. 1. Shalmaneser I (1274-1245 b.c.), son of Adad-nirari I, the greatest warrior of the Middle Assyrian period who defeated the people of Urartu, Guti and in the W the Hurrians, Hittites and Aramaeans (Aḫlamu). By his capture of Carchemish he was the first to bring Assyria into direct clash with the Egyptians in Asia.

2. Shalmaneser II (1030-1020 b.c.) took action to strengthen Assyria after a period of domination by Aramaean tribes.

3. Shalmaneser III (858-824 b.c.), son of Ashurnasirpal II, was the first Assyrian king to come into direct contact with Israel. By a long series of raids he sought to contain the pressure of the hill-tribesmen in Urartu and the Medes and Persians in the Urmia region, but this did not prevent his main thrust to the W in thirty-one years of campaigning.

Three expeditions were needed to neutralize Bīt-Adini (Beth-Eden) and thus gain a hold of the Euphrates crossing. Its capital Til-Barsip was captured in 856 and renamed Kār-Shalmaneser. In 853 the main march was directed toward Damascus via Aleppo. After the capture of Argan the army advanced to Qarqar on the Orontes near Hama where it was faced by a powerful alliance led by Irhuleni of Hamath with 700 cavalry and 10,000 men backed by Adad-’idri (Hadadezer, the Biblical Ben-hadad II) with 1,200 chariots, 1,200 horsemen and 20,000 infantry. Ahab the Israelite (Aḫabbu [māt] Sir’ilaia) supplied 2,000 chariots and 10,000 men. Contingents from twelve kings, including Cilicia, Arvad, Musru, Ammon and Arabia (Gindibu’ brought in 1,000 camels) brought the total muster to 62,900 men, 1,900 cavalry and 3,900 chariots. Shalmaneser claimed the victory in a bloody contest in which 20,500 died. It is, however, significant that neither Hamath nor Damascus was taken, and that the Assyrians did not reappear in the W for three years (1 Kings 16:29; 20:20; 22:1).

In 849 Shalmaneser again marched westward. Carchemish, the last nominally independent state in the Upper Euphrates valley, was incorporated into the growing provincial system under direct Assyrian control. The Assyrians claimed the defeat of Hadadezer of Damascus, but this is unlikely to have been more than a temporary setback since they had to take the field again the following year to meet the same king and his twelve allies near Ashtamaku. But again the Assyrians do not appear to have been able to follow up their claimed victory. In his fourteenth year (845 b.c.) Shalmaneser massed a force of 120,000 men and claimed to have defeated Hadadezer yet again.

By 841 the alliance had broken up and Hazael was ruling in Damascus in place of the murdered Adad-’idri (2 Kings 8:15). He now had to face the Assyrians alone and to do this he made a vigorous stand on Mt. Senir (Hermon, cf. Deut 3:9), losing 16,000 men and some territory. However, the line of attack was diverted to the Mediterranean via the Hauran. At Ba’al-rasi (N of Beirut) Shalmaneser received tribute from Tyre and Sidon brought in by ship, and from “Jehu, son of Omri” carried, according to the inscr. and reliefs on the Black Obelisk set up in Calah to commemorate the event, by Israelite porters. Although this incident is not mentioned in the OT it accords with the policy of the usurper Jehu who may well have sought unsuccessfully for help against Hazael’s raids on N Israel (2 Kings 10:31f.). It explains the subsequent need for Assyrian intervention when Samaria made its bid for independence. After one further unsuccessful attempt to capture Damascus in 838, Sennacherib appears to have left the W alone, prob. because of increasing internal disorders at home.

In Babylonia Marduk-zakir-shumi was engaged in a struggle with his brother following the death of his father, Nabu-apla-iddina, with whom Assyria had been in close treaty relationship (885-852). He now invoked the help of Shalmaneser who in 851 moved to Babylon, defeated the rebels and made a display of strength through Chaldaean country (Kaldu) to the Persian Gulf.

Toward the end of his reign Shalmaneser seems to have stayed at Calah the city rebuilt by his father. Here he built himself a new palace and armory, an action perhaps necessitated by the revolt of one of his sons, Ashurdanin-apla, who had led Nineveh, Erbil and Arrapha to revolt. Another son, Shamshi-Adad V was taking action against the rebels when his aged father died and he claimed the throne.

4. Shalmaneser IV (782-772 b.c.), son of Adad-nirari III who had taken tribute from Samaria (Rimah stela). Most of his reign was spent in attempting to suppress local disturbances.

5. Shalmaneser V (726-722 b.c.) continued his predecessor’s practice of periodical marches through Syria to collect tribute. He made Hoshea of Israel a vassal (2 Kings 17:3), but when in his seventh regnal year Hoshea ceased to pay the annual tribute Shalmaneser was quick to react. He besieged Samaria for three years, but it is not yet known why he was not in command when the city fell to Sargon II, in 723/2 unless he had retired to Nineveh where he died.


A. L. Oppenheim, ANET (1955), 277-281; D. J. Wiseman, “Shalmaneser III’s operations against the Aramaeans” in D. W. Thomas, Documents from Old Testament Times (1958), 46-50.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The name of several Assyrian kings. See Assyria; Captivity. It is Shalmaneser IV who is mentioned in the Biblical history (2Ki 17:3; 18:9). He succeeded Tiglathpileser on the throne in 727 BC, but whether he was a son of his predecessor, or a usurper, is not apparent. His reign was short, and, as no annals of it have come to light, we have only the accounts contained in 2 Kings for his history. In the passages referred to above, we learn that Hoshea, king of Israel, who had become his vassal, refused to continue the payment of tribute, relying upon help from So, king of Egypt. No help, however, came from Egypt, and Hoshea had to face the chastising forces of his suzerain with his own unaided resources, the result being that he was taken prisoner outside Samaria and most likely carried away to Nineveh. The Biblical narrative goes on to say that the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it 3 years. There is reason to believe that, as the siege of Samaria was proceeding, Shalmaneser retired to Nineveh and died, for, when the city was taken in 722 BC, it is Sargon who claims, in his copious annals, to have captured it and carried its inhabitants into captivity. It is just possible that Shalman (Ho 10:14) is a contraction for Shalmaneser, but the identity of Shalman and of Beth-arbel named in the same passage is not sufficiently made out.


Schrader, COT, I, 258 ff; McCurdy, HPM, I, 387 ff.