Sennacherib

Sennacherib[a] was the king of Assyria from 705 BCE to 681 BCE. He is principally remembered for his military campaigns against Babylon and Judah, and for his building programs – most notably at the Assyrian capital of Nineveh.[1] He was assassinated in obscure circumstances in 681 BCE,[2] apparently by his eldest son (his designated successor, Esarhaddon, was the youngest).[3]

The primary preoccupation of his reign was the so-called "Babylonian problem", the refusal of the people of Babylonia to continue to accept Assyrian rule, culminating in his destruction of the city in 689 BCE.[4] Further successful campaigns were carried out in the Levant, in the mountains east of Assyria, against the kingdoms of Urartu, Cilicia and the Neo-Hittites of Anatolia, and against the Arabs in the northern Arabian deserts.[5] His campaigns in Syria are recorded in the Second Book of Kings in the Hebrew Bible.[6] His death was welcomed in Babylon as divine punishment for the destruction of that city.[7]

He was also a notable builder: it was under him that Assyrian art reached its peak.[8] His building projects included the beautification of Nineveh, a canal 50 km long to bring water to the city,[9] and the "Palace Without Rival", which included what may have been the prototype of the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, or even the actual Hanging Gardens.[10]

Sennacherib
Sennacherib
Sennacherib during his Babylonian war, relief from his palace in Nineveh
King of the Neo-Assyrian Empire
Reign705–681 BCE
PredecessorSargon II
SuccessorEsarhaddon
Bornc. 740 BC
Kalhu
Died681 BCE
Nineveh
SpouseTašmētu-šarrat
Naqī'ā/Zakūtu
IssueAššur-nādin-šumi
Aššur-ilī-muballissu
Arda-Mulišši (Adrammelech)
Aššur-šumu-ušabši
Nergal-MU-...
Nabu-šarru-uṣur (Sharezer)
Aššur-aḥa-iddina (Esarhaddon)
DynastySargonid dynasty
FatherSargon II
MotherRa'īmā

Background: The Neo-Assyrian empire, 911–612 BCE

Map of Assyria
Map of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and its expansions – dark green shows the empire in 824 BCE, light green in 671 BCE.

Assyria began as a Bronze Age city-state or small kingdom on the middle-Tigris.[11] The kingdom collapsed at the end of the Bronze Age, but was reconstituted at the beginning of the Iron Age, and under Tiglath-Pileser III and his sons Shalmaneser V and Sargon II (combined reigns 744–705 BCE), Assyria extended its rule over Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Syria-Palestine, making its capital Nineveh, one of the richest cities of the ancient world.[12][13] The empire's rise aroused the fear and hatred of its neighbours, notably Babylon, Elam and Egypt, and the many smaller kingdoms of the region such as Judah. Any perceived weakness on the part of Assyria led inevitably to rebellion, particularly by the Babylonians.[14] Solving the so-called "Babylonian problem" was Sennacherib's primary preoccupation.[15]

The "Babylonian problem"

Sennacherib's grandfather Tiglath-pileser III, unlike his predecessors who installed puppet rulers, had made himself king of Babylon, creating a dual monarchy in which the Babylonians retained a nominal independence. This arrangement was never accepted by powerful local leaders, particularly an important tribal chief named Marduk-apla-iddina (the Merodach-baladan of the Bible). Marduk-apla-iddina paid tribute to Tiglath-pileser, but when Tiglath-pileser's successor Shalmaneser V was overthrown by Sargon II (Sennacherib's father) he seized the opportunity to crown himself king of Babylon whilst Sargon was preoccupied driving the Cimmerians from his colonies in Persia and Media. The next thirty years saw a repeating pattern of Assyrian reconquest and renewed rebellion.[16]

Sennacherib sling
Assyrian warriors armed with slings from the palace of Sennacherib, 7th century BCE

Sargon dealt with the Babylonian problem by cultivating the Babylonians; Sennacherib took a radically different approach, and there is little sign that he cared about Babylonian popular opinion or took part in the ceremonial duties expected of a Babylonian king, notably the New Year ritual. His relations, instead, were predominantly military, and culminated in his complete destruction of Babylon in 689 BCE.[17] He destroyed the temples and the images of the gods, except for that of Marduk, the creator-god and divine patron of Babylon, which he took to Assyria.[18] This caused consternation in Assyria itself, where Babylon and its gods were held in high esteem.[19] Sennacherib attempted to justify his actions to his own countrymen through a campaign of religious propaganda.[20] Among the elements of this campaign he commissioned a myth in which Marduk was put on trial before Ashur, the god of Assyria–the text is fragmentary but it seems Marduk is found guilty of some grave offense;[21] he described his defeat of the Babylonian rebels in language of the Babylonian creation myth, identifying Babylon with the evil demon-goddess Tiamat and himself with Marduk;[22] Ashur replaced Marduk in the New Year Festival; and in the temple of the festival he placed a symbolic pile of rubble from Babylon.[23] In Babylon itself, Sennacherib's policy spawned a deep seated hatred amongst much of the populace.[24]

Accession and military campaigns

Accession

Sennacherib was probably not the first-born son of Sargon II (his name implies a compensation for dead brothers), but he was groomed for royal succession and entrusted with administrative duties from an early age.[25] Sargon died in battle, and ancient sources give three different years for Sennacherib's first reign-year—705 BCE, 704 BCE, and 703 BCE—suggesting that the succession was not smooth.[15] The transition sparked uprisings in Syria-Palestine, where the Egyptians incited rebellion, and more seriously in Babylonia, where Marduk-apla-iddina II assumed the throne and assembled a large army of rebellious Chaldeans, Aramaeans, Arabs and Elamites.[25]

Military campaigns in Mesopotamia, Syria, Israel, and Judah

Sennacherib's first campaign began late in 703 BCE against Marduk-apla-iddina (now Marduk-apla-iddina II), who had once more taken the throne of Babylon.[26] The rebellion was defeated, Marduk-apla-iddina fled to his Elamite protectors, and Babylon was taken and the palace plundered, although the citizens were not harmed.[26] An Assyrian puppet king named Bel-ibni was placed on the throne and for the next two years Babylon was left in peace.[26]

In 701 BCE, Sennacherib turned from Babylonia to the western part of the empire, where Hezekiah of Judah, incited by the new Nubian rulers of Egypt and Marduk-apla-iddina, had renounced Assyrian allegiance. The rebellion involved various small Canaanite and Phoenician states in the area: Sidon and Ashkelon were taken by force and a string of other cities and states, including Byblos, Ashdod, Ammon, Moab and Edom then paid tribute without resistance. Ekron called on Egypt for help but the Egyptians were defeated by Assyria. Sennacherib then turned on Jerusalem, Hezekiah's capital. He besieged the city and gave its surrounding towns to Assyrian vassal rulers in Ekron, Gaza and Ashdod. However, Sennacherib did not breach the city,[27] and Hezekiah remained on his throne as a vassal ruler.[28]

In 699 BCE, Bel-ibni, who had proved untrustworthy or incompetent as king of Babylon, was replaced by Sennacherib's eldest son, Ashur-nadin-shumi.[29] Marduk-apla-iddina continued his rebellion with the help of Elam, and in 694 BCE Sennacherib took a fleet of Phoenician ships down the Tigris River to destroy the Elamite base on the shore of the Persian Gulf, but while he was doing this the Elamites captured Ashur-nadin-shumi and put Nergal-ushezib, the son of Marduk-apla-iddina, on the throne of Babylon.[19] Nergal-ushezib was captured in 693 BCE and taken to Nineveh, and Sennacherib attacked Elam again. The Elamite king fled to the mountains and Sennacherib plundered his kingdom, but when he withdrew the Elamites returned to Babylon and put another rebel leader, Mushezib-Marduk, on the Babylonian throne. Babylon eventually fell to the Assyrians in 689 BCE after a lengthy siege, and Sennacherib put an end to the "Babylonian problem" by utterly destroying the city and even the mound on which it stood by diverting the water of the surrounding canals over the site.[24]

Minor campaigns

Sennacherib conducted minor campaigns on his borders, but without significantly adding to the already vast empire. In 702 BCE and from 699 BCE until 697 BCE, he made several campaigns in the mountains east of Assyria, on one of which he received tribute from the Medes.[30] In 696 BCE and 695 BCE, he sent expeditions into Anatolia, where several vassals had rebelled following the death of Sargon. Around 690 BCE, he campaigned in the northern Arabian deserts, conquering Dumat al-Jandal, where the queen of the Arabs had taken refuge.[31]

Administration and building projects

View of ancient Nineveh, Description de L'Universe (Alain Manesson Mallet, 1719)
View of ancient Nineveh, Description de L'Univers (Alain Manesson Mallet, 1719).

The Assyrian empire was divided into provinces, each provincial governor being responsible for matters such as the maintenance of roads and public buildings, and for the implementation of administrative policy. One major element of that policy was the massive deportation and redistribution of populations, which aimed to punish, prevent rebellion, and repopulate depopulated areas in order to maintain food production in the empire. As many as 4.5 million people may have been moved between 745 BCE and 612 BCE, and Sennacherib alone could have been responsible for displacing 470,000 people.[32]

Sennacherib made Nineveh a truly magnificent city using this forced labour (specifically, people from Chaldea, the Araamaeans, the Mannai, the people of Kue and Hilakku, Philistia and Tyre).[33] He laid out new streets and squares and built within it the famous "palace without a rival", the plan of which has been mostly recovered and has overall dimensions of about 503 by 242 metres (1,650 by 794 ft). It comprised at least 80 rooms, many of which were lined with sculpture. A large number of cuneiform tablets were found in the palace. The solid foundation was made out of limestone blocks and mud bricks; it was 22 metres (72 feet) tall. In total, the foundation is made of roughly 2,680,000 cubic metres (3,510,000 cubic yards) of brick (approximately 160 million bricks). The walls on top, made out of mud brick, were an additional 20 metres (66 feet) tall. Some of the principal doorways were flanked by colossal stone door figures weighing up to 30,000 kilograms (30 t); they included many winged lions or bulls with a man's head. These were transported 50 kilometres (31 miles) from quarries at Balatai and they had to be lifted up 20 metres (66 feet) once they arrived at the site, presumably by a ramp. There are also 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) of stone panels carved in bas-relief, that include pictorial records documenting every construction step including carving the statues and transporting them on a barge. One picture shows 44 men towing a colossal statue. The carving shows three men directing the operation while standing on the Colossus. Once the statues arrived at their destination, the final carving was done. Most of the statues weigh between 9,000 and 27,000 kg (20,000 and 60,000 lb).[9][10]

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 122
Jerusalem Delivered from Sennacherib, 1860 woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld

The stone carvings in the walls include many battle scenes, impalings and scenes showing Sennacherib's men parading the spoils of war before him. He also bragged about his conquests: he wrote of Babylon: "Its inhabitants, young and old, I did not spare, and with their corpses I filled the streets of the city." He later wrote about a battle in Lachish: "And Hezekiah of Judah who had not submitted to my yoke...him I shut up in Jerusalem his royal city like a caged bird. Earthworks I threw up against him, and anyone coming out of his city gate I made pay for his crime. His cities which I had plundered I had cut off from his land." [11]

At this time, the total area of Nineveh comprised about 7 square kilometres (1,700 acres), and fifteen great gates penetrated its walls. An elaborate system of eighteen canals brought water from the hills to Nineveh, and several sections of a magnificently constructed aqueduct erected by Sennacherib were discovered at Jerwan, about 65 kilometres (40 miles) distant. [12] The enclosed area had more than 100,000 inhabitants (maybe closer to 150,000), about twice as many as Babylon at the time, placing it among the largest settlements worldwide.

It is possible that the garden which Sennacherib built next to his palace, with its associated irrigation works, was the original Hanging Gardens of Babylon.[34]

Death

Limestone stele of king Sennacherib from Nineveh. Ancient Orient Museum, Istanbul Archeological Museums, Turkey
Limestone stele of king Sennacherib from Nineveh. Ancient Orient Museum, Istanbul Archeological Museums, Turkey

Sennacherib was assassinated in obscure circumstances in 681 BCE.[2] An inscription by Sennacherib's successor, Esarhaddon, describes how Esarhaddon heard that his brothers were fighting in the streets of Nineveh, hurried back from the Western provinces with an army, defeated them all, and took the throne.[35] The inscription does not mention that the brothers were fighting because one of them had just murdered Sennacherib, but this is indicated in the Babylonian chronicles, the Bible (2 Kings 19:36-37, 2 Chron. 32:21, Isaiah 37:36–38, Tobit 1:21), and in later Assyrian records.[35][3] Esarhaddon's silence on the subject of the name of his father's murderer may have been to avoid perpetuating any perceptions of instability.[36] To one Babylonian historian, it was divine punishment for what the king had done to Babylon.[7]

Professor Simo Parpola, basing his findings on a fragmented letter surviving from that period,[37] holds that Arda-Mulišši, known as Adrammelech in the Bible (2 Kings 19:37; Isaiah 37:38), was the son who killed the King, and that a series of events beginning in 694 BCE set the stage for the assassination.[38] In 694 BC, Sennacherib's oldest son and heir-designate Assur-nãdin-sumi was captured by Elamites and Babylonians and was removed to Elam, whereafter he disappears from the historical record. Arda-Mulišši, the next eldest son, was expected to be the next heir-designate. However, Naqi'a Zakitu, the king's second wife, (entirely unrelated to Arda-Mulišši) used her influence to have the King proclaim her own son Esarhaddon the heir-designate. Sennacherib made all of Assyria and its subject peoples swear allegiance to the new crown prince.

Despite this, Arda-Mulišši continued to be a popular figure among the powerful at court. Over the following years, dislike of Esarhaddon grew in court, and simultaneously the popularity of Arda-Mulišši and his other brothers expanded. Worried over this turn of events, Sennacherib sent Crown Prince Esarhaddon to the safety of the western provinces. Arda-Mulišši, feeling that a decisive act would grant him the kingship, made "a treaty of rebellion" with co-conspirators and moved to kill his father. Sennacherib was then murdered, either by being stabbed directly by his son, or by being crushed as he prayed to Nisroch underneath a statue of a winged bull colossus that guarded the temple.[38]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Akkadian: 𒌍𒉽𒈨𒌍𒋢 Sîn-ahhe-erība, "Sîn has replaced my brothers"; Syriac: ܣܝܢܚܪܝܒ‎, romanizedSīnḥārīḇ; Hebrew: סַנְחֵרִיב, Modern: Sanḥērív, Tiberian: Sanḥēríḇ as seen in 2 Kings 18:13, Isaiah 36:1, Isaiah 37:17, and 2 Chronicles 32:1 (pronounced in Modern Hebrew Hebrew pronunciation: [/sanχeːˈʁiv/] or in some Mizrahi dialects Hebrew pronunciation: [/sanħeːˈʁiv])

References

  1. ^ McKenzie 1995, p. 786.
  2. ^ a b Cline & Graham 2011, p. 252.
  3. ^ a b Grayson 1991, p. 121.
  4. ^ Grayson 1991, p. 105,109.
  5. ^ Grayson 1991, p. 111–113.
  6. ^ Grabbe 2003, p. 308–309.
  7. ^ a b Foster & Foster 2009, p. 123.
  8. ^ Von Solden 1994, p. 58.
  9. ^ Von Solden 1994, p. 58,100.
  10. ^ Foster & Foster 2009, p. 121-123.
  11. ^ Cline & Graham 2011, p. 37.
  12. ^ Bertman 2005, p. 57.
  13. ^ Cline & Graham 2011, p. 40.
  14. ^ Bertman 2005, p. 40.
  15. ^ a b Grayson 1991, p. 105.
  16. ^ Brinkman 1991, p. 24-32.
  17. ^ Brinkman 1991, p. 32-37.
  18. ^ Grayson 1991, p. 118.
  19. ^ a b Leick 2009, p. 156.
  20. ^ Grayson 1991, p. 118-119.
  21. ^ Grayson 1991, p. 119.
  22. ^ McCormick 2002, p. 156,158.
  23. ^ Grayson 1991, p. 116.
  24. ^ a b Grayson 1991, p. 109.
  25. ^ a b Leick 2009, p. 155.
  26. ^ a b c Grayson 1991, p. 106.
  27. ^ Grayson 1991, p. 110.
  28. ^ Grabbe 2003, p. 314.
  29. ^ Grayson 1991, p. 107-108.
  30. ^ D.D. Luckenbill (ed. & trans.), The Annals of Sennacherib (Chicago, 1924), p. 24
  31. ^ Grayson 1991, p. 111-113.
  32. ^ Cline & Graham 2011, p. 50.
  33. ^ D.D. Luckenbill (ed. & trans.) (1924). The Annals of Sennacherib. Chicago: University of Chicago.
  34. ^ Stephanie Dalley (2013)The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: an elusive world Wonder traced OUP ISBN 978-0-19-966226-5
  35. ^ a b Porter 1994, p. 108.
  36. ^ Porter 1994, p. 108-109.
  37. ^ Assyrian and Babylonian Letters XI, No.1091. Originally translated by R. Harper. Chicago 1911.
  38. ^ a b Simo Parpola (1980). "The Murderer of Sennacherib". Gateways to Babylon.

Bibliography

External links

Preceded by
Sargon II
King of Babylon
705 – 703 BCE
Succeeded by
Marduk-zakir-shumi II
King of Assyria
705 – 681 BCE
Succeeded by
Esarhaddon
Preceded by
Mušezib-Marduk
King of Babylon
689–681 BCE
Succeeded by
Esarhaddon
Ashur-nadin-shumi

Ashur-nadin-shumi (died 694 BC) was the son of the Assyrian king Sennacherib, and an ancient King of Babylon.

Assyrian siege of Jerusalem

In approximately 701 BCE, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, attacked the fortified cities of the Kingdom of Judah in a campaign of subjugation. Sennacherib besieged Jerusalem, but failed to capture it — it is the only city mentioned as being besieged on Sennacherib's Stele, of which the capture is not mentioned.

Battle of Halule

The Battle of Halule took place in 691 BC between the Assyrian empire and the rebelling forces of the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Persians, Medes, Elamites and Aramaic tribes.

Bel-ibni

Bel-ibni was a Babylonian nobleman who served as King of Babylon for several years as the nominee of the Assyrian king Sennacherib.Sennacherib, believing that direct Assyrian rule was too costly, appointed Bel-ibni, a young Babylonian nobleman raised at the Assyrian court, King of Babylon in 703 BC.

The experiment with a native puppet king was hardly more successful than direct Assyrian control. Soon Bel-ibni was conspiring with the Chaldeans and Elamites against the Assyrians. After defeating the opposing coalition in 700 BC, Sennacherib deposed Bel-ibni and carried him off to Assyrian exile, replacing him with Sennacherib's own son, Ashur-nadin-shumi.

Esarhaddon

Esarhaddon (Akkadian: 𒀭𒊹𒋀𒋧𒈾 Aššur-aḫa-iddina "Ashur has given a brother"; Hebrew: אֵסַרְחַדֹּן, Modern: ’ēsárḥadón, Tiberian: ’esārḥādon; Ancient Greek: Ασαρχαδδων; Latin: Asor Haddan) was a king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire who reigned 681 – 669 BC. He was the youngest son of Sennacherib and the West Semitic queen Naqi'a (Zakitu), Sennacherib's second wife.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World as listed by Hellenic culture, described as a remarkable feat of engineering with an ascending series of tiered gardens containing a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and vines, resembling a large green mountain constructed of mud bricks, and said to have been built in the ancient city of Babylon, near present-day Hillah, Babil province, in Iraq. Its name is derived from the Greek word kremastós (κρεμαστός, lit. "overhanging"), which has a broader meaning than the modern English word "hanging" and refers to trees being planted on a raised structure such as a terrace.According to one legend, the Hanging Gardens were built alongside a grand palace known as The Marvel of Mankind, by the Neo-Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II (who ruled between 605 and 562 BC), for his Median wife Queen Amytis, because she missed the green hills and valleys of her homeland. This was attested to by the Babylonian priest Berossus, writing in about 290 BC, a description that was later quoted by Josephus. The construction of the Hanging Gardens has also been attributed to the legendary queen Semiramis, who supposedly ruled Babylon in the 9th century BC, and they have been called the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis as an alternative name.The Hanging Gardens are the only one of the Seven Wonders for which the location has not been definitively established. There are no extant Babylonian texts that mention the gardens, and no definitive archaeological evidence has been found in Babylon. Three theories have been suggested to account for this. One: that they were purely mythical, and the descriptions found in ancient Greek and Roman writings (including those of Strabo, Diodorus Siculus and Quintus Curtius Rufus) represented a romantic ideal of an eastern garden. Two: that they existed in Babylon, but were completely destroyed sometime around the first century AD. Three: that the legend refers to a well-documented garden that the Assyrian King Sennacherib (704–681 BC) built in his capital city of Nineveh on the River Tigris, near the modern city of Mosul.

Hezekiah

Hezekiah (; Hebrew: חִזְקִיָּהוּ) was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the son of Ahaz and the 13th king of Judah. Edwin Thiele concluded that his reign was between c. 715 and 686 BCE. He is considered a very righteous king by the author of the Books of Kings. He is also one of the most prominent kings of Judah mentioned in the Bible and is one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.According to the Bible, Hezekiah witnessed the destruction of the northern Kingdom of Israel by Sargon's Assyrians in c. 722 BCE and was king of Judah during the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib in 701 BCE. Hezekiah enacted sweeping religious reforms, including a strict mandate for the sole worship of Yahweh and a prohibition on venerating other deities within the Temple of Jerusalem. Isaiah and Micah prophesied during his reign.

Lachish reliefs

The Lachish reliefs are a set of Assyrian palace reliefs narrating the story of the Assyrian victory over the kingdom of Judah during the siege of Lachish in 701 BCE. Carved between 700-681 BCE, as a decoration of the South-West Palace of Sennacherib in Nineveh (in modern Iraq), the relief is today in the British Museum in London, and was included as item 21 in the BBC radio 4 series A History of the World in 100 Objects. The palace room, where the relief was discovered in 1845-47, was fully covered with the "Lachish relief" and was 12 metres (39 ft) wide and 5.10 metres (16.7 ft) long. The Lion Hunt of Ashurbanipal sequence was found in the same palace.

Mushezib-Marduk

Mushezib-Marduk (reigned 693 BC-689 BC), Chaldean prince chosen as King of Babylon after Nergal-ushezib.He led the Babylonian populace in revolt against Assyria and King Sennacherib in 689 BC, with the support of Elam and King Humban-nimena (who was attacked by the Babylonians and the Assyrians only years before), at the Battle of Halule. It is not clear who won this battle, since both sides claimed victory, and all rulers remained on their thrones, but as the Assyrians subsequently retreated, they are likely to have suffered the greatest losses.Mushezib-Marduk lost his ally when the Elamite king Humban-nimena suffered a stroke later that same year, an opportunity King Sennacherib quickly seized by attacking Babylon, and eventually capturing it after a nine-month siege. To avenge the death of his son, whom the Babylonians had effectively killed when they handed him over to the Elamites in 694 BC, Sennacherib pillaged and burned Babylon, tore down its walls, and even diverted the Euphrates into the city. During the Sack of Babylon, Mushezib-Marduk was most likely murdered.

Neo-Assyrian Empire

The Neo-Assyrian Empire was an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire, in existence between 911 and 609 BC, and became the largest empire of the world up until that time. The Assyrians perfected early techniques of imperial rule, many of which became standard in later empires, and was, according to many historians, the first real empire in history. The Assyrians were the first to be armed with iron weapons, and their troops employed advanced, effective military tactics.Following the conquests of Adad-nirari II in the late 10th century BC, Assyria emerged as the most powerful state in the world at the time, coming to dominate the Ancient Near East, East Mediterranean, Asia Minor, Caucasus, and parts of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, eclipsing and conquering rivals such as Babylonia, Elam, Persia, Urartu, Lydia, the Medes, Phrygians, Cimmerians, Israel, Judah, Phoenicia, Chaldea, Canaan, the Kushite Empire, the Arabs, and Egypt.The Neo-Assyrian Empire succeeded the Old Assyrian Empire (c. 2025–1378 BC), and the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365–934 BC) of the Late Bronze Age. During this period, Aramaic was also made an official language of the empire, alongside Akkadian.Upon the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BC, the empire began to disintegrate due to a brutal and unremitting series of civil wars in Assyria proper. In 616 BC, Cyaxares king of the Medes and Persians made alliances with Nabopolassar ruler of the Babylonians and Chaldeans, and also the Scythians and Cimmerians against Assyria. At the Fall of Harran (609 BC) the Babylonians and Medes defeated an Assyrian-Egyptian alliance, after which Assyria largely ceased to exist as an independent state. A failed attempt to reconquer Harran ended the Assyrian Empire. Although the empire fell, Assyrian history continued; there are still Assyrians living in Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere, in the present day.

Nergal-ushezib

Nergal-ushezib, originally Shuzub, was a Babylonian nobleman who was installed as King of Babylon by the Elamites in 694 BC, after their capture of Babylon and deposition and murder of the previous king Ashur-nadin-shumi, son of King Sennacherib of Assyria.

Nergal-ushezib reigned as King for little more than a year. Sennacherib soon made war on Babylon to recover the city and avenge his son's death. Nergal-ushezib was defeated and captured by the Assyrians in battle near Nippur in September 693 BC. Nergal-ushezib's subsequent fate is unknown. He was succeeded by the Chaldean prince Mushezib-Marduk, who continued the resistance against Assyria.

Sargon II

Sargon II (Assyrian Šarru-ukīn (LUGAL-GI.NA 𒈗𒄀𒈾); Aramaic סרגן; reigned 722–705 BC) was an Assyrian king.

A son of Tiglath-Pileser III, he came to power relatively late in life, possibly by usurping the throne from his older brother, Shalmaneser V. Sargon II suppressed rebellions, conquered the Kingdom of Israel, and, in 710 BC, conquered the Kingdom of Babylon, thus reuniting Assyria with its southern rival, Babylonia, from which it had been separate since the death of Hammurabi in 1750 BC.The Neo-Assyrian pronunciation of the name was presumably /sargi:n(u)/ or /sarga:n(u)/; the spelling Sargon is based on the Biblical form of the name (סרגון), mentioned in Isaiah 20:1.

The regnal number is modern, applied for disambiguation from the Old Assyrian king Sargon I and the still-older Akkadian ruler Sargon the Elder.

Sennacherib's Annals

Sennacherib's Annals are the annals of the Assyrian king Sennacherib. They are found inscribed on a number of artifacts, and the final versions were found in three clay prisms inscribed with the same text: the Taylor Prism is in the British Museum, the Oriental Institute Prism in the Oriental Institute of Chicago, and the Jerusalem Prism is in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The Taylor Prism is one of the earliest cuneiform artifacts analysed in modern Assyriology, having been found a few years before the modern deciphering of cuneiform.

The annals themselves are notable for describing Sennacherib's siege of Jerusalem during the reign of king Hezekiah. This event is recorded in several books contained in the Bible including Isaiah chapters 36 and 37; 2 Kings 18:17; 2 Chronicles 32:9. The invasion is mentioned by Herodotus, who does not refer to Judea and says the invasion ended at Pelusium on the edge of the Nile Delta.

Sennacherib's campaign in the Levant

Sennacherib's campaign in the Levant took place in 701 BCE, when Sennacherib turned from Babylonia to the western part of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, where Hezekiah of Judah, incited by Egypt and Marduk-apla-iddina II, had renounced Assyrian allegiance. The rebellion involved various small states in the area: Sidon and Ashkelon were taken by force and a string of other cities and states, including Byblos, Ashdod, Ammon, Moab and Edom then paid tribute without resistance. Ekron called on Egypt for help but the Egyptians were defeated. Sennacherib then turned on Jerusalem, Hezekiah's capital. He besieged the city and gave its surrounding towns to Assyrian vassal rulers in Ekron, Gaza and Ashdod. However, Sennacherib did not breach the city, and Hezekiah remained on his throne as a vassal ruler.

Siege of Azekah

The Siege of Azekah was a battle between Assyria and Judah. It preceded the Siege of Lachish, making it the first known clash between the two kingdoms during Sennacherib's campaign in Judah.

Siege of Lachish

The Siege of Lachish is the name given to the Assyrian siege and conquest of the town of Lachish in 701 BC. The siege is documented in several sources including the Hebrew Bible, Assyrian documents and in the Lachish relief, a well-preserved series of reliefs which once decorated the Assyrian king Sennacherib's palace at Nineveh.

Story of Ahikar

The Story of Ahiqar, also known as the Words of Ahikar, is a story first attested in Aramaic from the fifth century BCE that circulated widely in the Middle and Near East. It has been characterised as "one of the earliest 'international books' of world literature".The principal character is Ahiqar (Aramaic: אחיקר‎, also transliterated as Aḥiqar, Arabic Hayqar, Greek Achiacharos and variants on this theme such as Armenian: Խիկար Xikar), a sage known in the ancient Near East for his outstanding wisdom.

The Defeat of Sennacherib

The Defeat of Sennacherib is a painting by Peter Paul Rubens, now in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, produced between around 1612 and 1614. It shows the defeat of the army of Sennacherib by an angel, as described in the Old Testament. It is a pendant to The Conversion of Saint Paul, now in the Courtauld Gallery in London.

The Destruction of Sennacherib

"The Destruction of Sennacherib" is a poem by Lord Byron first published in 1815 in his Hebrew Melodies (in which it was titled The Destruction of Semnacherib). The poem is based on the biblical account of the historical Assyrian siege of Jerusalem in 701 BC by Assyrian king Sennacherib, as described in the Bible (2 Kings 18–19, Isaiah 36–37). .

The rhythm of the poem has a feel of the beat of a galloping horse's hooves (an anapestic tetrameter) as the Assyrian rides into battle.

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