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Sennacherib

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[some Sennache'rib] (Heb. Sancherib', סִנְחֵרַיב ; read in the cuneiform as Sinachirib, i.e. Sin [the Moon] increases brothers, thought to indicate that he was not the first born; Sept.: Σενναχηρίμ v.r. Σεναχηρείμ; Josephus, Σεναχήριβος ; Herodotus Σαναχάριβος; Vulg. Sennacherib), a famous Assyrian monarch, contemporary with Hezekiah. The name of Sennacherib (in Assyrian Sin-achi-iriba) is written in various ways; but three forms are most common, of which we present the most usual. It consists of three elements: the first, Sin, or the "Moon" god; the second, achi, or "brothers" (אה ); and the third, iriba, or "he increased" (רב ); the meaning of the whole being "the Moon has multiplied brothers." (See CUNEIFORM).

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1. Earlier Annals. Sennacherib was the son and successor of Sargon (q.v.). We know very little of him during his father's lifetime. From his name, and from a circumstance related by Polyhistor, we may gather that he was not the eldest son, and not the heir to the crown till the year before his father's death. Polyhistor (following Berosus) related that the tributary kingdom of Babylon was held by a brother who would doubtless be an elder brother of Sennacherib's, not long before that prince came to the throne (Berosus, Fragm. 12). Sennacherib's brother was succeeded by a certain Hagisa, who reigned only a month, being murdered by Merodach- Baladan, who then took the throne and held it three months. The details of Sennacherib's campaigns are given under each year in the cuneiform records of his reign. From these it appears that he began to reign July 16, B.C. 705, and was murdered in December 681 (Smith and Sayce, Cun. Hist. of Senn. [Lond. 1878] p. 8).

His first efforts were directed to crushing the revolt of Babylonia, which he invaded with a large army. Merodach-Baladan ventured on a battle, but was defeated and driven from the country. Sennacherib then made Belibus (Bel-ibni) an officer of his court, viceroy, and, quitting Babylonia, ravaged the lands of the Aramaean tribes on the Tigris and Euphrates, whence he carried off 200,000 captives. In the ensuing year he made war upon the independent tribes in Mount Zagros, and penetrated thence to Media, where he reduced a portion of the nation which had previously been independent.

2. Conquest of Judaea. We give the account of this as condensed from the cuneiform annals by the late George Smith (Hist. of Assyria from the Monuments, p. 117 sq.):

"The eastern expedition of Sennacherib occupied his third year, and at the close of this year, his southern and eastern borders being secure, he had leisure to turn his attention to the affairs of Palestine. Encouraged by the king of Egypt, Hezekiah, king of Judah, had. thrown off the Assyrian yoke, several of the smaller sovereigns had either voluntarily joined him or been forced to submit to the, king of Judah, and Lulia (the Elulius of Josephus), king of Tyre and Zidon, had also rebelled against Sennacherib. The Assyrians had lost their hold on all the country from Lebanon to Arabia, and Sennacherib resolved to reconquer this region. Crossing from his capital into Syria, which he calls the land of the Hittites, he attacked first. Lulia, king of Zidon; but this prince was not prepared to resist Sennacherib, so he embarked on one of his vessels from the city of Tyre, and set sail for the land of Yatnan (the island of Cyprus), abandoning his country to the mercy of the Assyrians. Sennacherib now besieged and took the various Phoenician towns: Tyre, the strong city, appears to have successfully resisted him, but he captured Zidunnurabn (great Zidon, Joshua 19:25) and the lesser Zidon; then coming south, Bitzitte and Zariptu (Zarephath, 1 Kings 17:9), Mahalliba Usu (Hosah, Joshua 19:29), Akzibi (Achzib, Joshua 19:29), and Akku (Accho, Judges 1:31).

The sea coast of Phoenicia, down to the land of the Philistines, was now in the hands of Sennacherib, and he raised a man named Tubahal to the throne of Zidon, and fixed upon the country an annual tribute. The success of Sennacherib along the coast, and the failure of Egyptian aid, now brought nearly the whole of Palestine to his feet, and the various rulers sent envoys with tribute, and tokens of submission to present before the Assyrian monarch. Menahem, who ruled at Samaria; Tubahal, the newly made king of Zidon; Abdilihiti, king of Arvad; Urumelek, king of Gebal; Metinti, king of Ashdod; and Buduil, king of the Ammonites; Kemosh-natbi, king of the Moabites; and Airammu, king of Edom, now made their peace, and Askelon, Ekron, and Judah alone remained in rebellion. Sennacherib started from Akku, and keeping along the coast, invaded Askelon, and capturing Zidqa, the revolting king, sent him, his wife, his sons and daughters, his brothers, and other relatives, captive to Assyria. The cities of Askelon, Bitdaganna (Beth-dagon, Joshua 15:41), Yappu (Joppa, Jonah 1:3), Benai-barqa (Bene-berak, Joshua 19:45), and Azuru were successively captured, and Sennacherib placed Saruludari, the son of Rukibti, on the throne. Moving from Askelon, Sennacherib attacked Ekron: he tells us that Padi, king of Ekron, had been faithful to his pledges to Assyria, and the priests, princes, and people of Ekron had conspired against him and revolted, and, putting their king in bonds, had delivered him into the hands of Hezekiah, king of Judah, to be kept prisoner at Jerusalem. The revolters at Ekron relied on the assistance of Egypt; and when Sennacherib advanced against the city, a force under the king of Egypt came to their assistance. The Egyptian army was from the kings of Egypt (the plural being used), and from the king of Miruhha, or Ethiopia.

To meet the army of Egypt, Sennacherib turned aside to Altaqu (Eltekeh, Joshua 19:44), where the two forces met, and the Egyptians were defeated. See So. The overthrow of the Egyptian army was followed by the capture of Altaqu and Tamna (Timnah, 15, 10), and Sennacherib again marched to Ekron, and put to death the leading men of the city who had led the revolt, and severely treated the people. Their king, Padi, was demanded of Hezekiah, king of Judah, and, being delivered up, was once more seated on the throne. The last part of the expedition given in the Assyrian annals consists of the attack on Hezekiah. The king of Judah was the most important of the tributaries who had thrown off the yoke of Assyria, and was reserved for the last operations. After settling the affairs of Ekron, Sennacherib marched against Judah, and captured forty-six of the fortified cities of Hezekiah, agreeing with the statement of the Scripture (2 Kings 18:13-16) that he came up against all the fenced cities of Judah and took them; all the smaller places round them were destroyed, and Sennacherib carried into captivity 200,150 people of all sorts, together with horses, mules, asses, camels, oxen, and sheep in great numbers. Sennacherib goes on to relate that he shut up Hezekiah in Jerusalem like a caged bird, and built towers round the city to attack it. Sennacherib now began to portion off and dispose of the territory which he had conquered. The towns along the western side he detached from Judah, and divided them between Metinti, king of Ashdod, Sarn-ludari, king of Askelon, Padi, king of Ekron, and Zilli-bel, king of Gaza, the four kings of the Philistines who were now in submission to Assyria, and he increased the amount of the tribute due from these principalities. Hezekiah and his principal men, shut up in Jerusalem, now began to fear, and resolved on submission.

Meanwhile the soldiers of Sennacherib were attacking Lachish, one of the last remaining strong cities of Judah. The pavilion of this proudest of the Assyrian kings was pitched within sight of the city, and the monarch sat on a magnificent throne while the Assyrian army assaulted the city. Lachish, the strong city, was captured, and thence Sennacherib dictated terms to the humbled king of Judah. Hezekiah sent by his messenger and made submission, and gave tribute, including thirty talents of gold, 800 talents of silver, precious stones of various sorts, couches and thrones of ivory, skins and horns of buffaloes, girls and eunuchs, male and female musicians. According to the record of Sennacherib, he returned to Nineveh in triumph, bearing with him this tribute and spoil, and not a single shadow of reverse or disaster appears in the whole narrative.

The accounts of this expedition of Sennacherib given in the Bible relate that after the submission of Hezekiah, the angel of the Lord went through the camp of the Assyrians and destroyed 185,000 men of Sennacherib's army, and that the Assyrian monarch returned in disgrace to Nineveh (2 Kings 19:35-37). This overthrow of Sennacherib's army is confirmed by a story told to Herodotus (2, 141) by the Egyptian priests. They relate that in the time of an Egyptian king named Sethos, Sennacherib made an expedition against Egypt, and came as far as Pelusium. Sethos went out against him with an inferior army, having invoked the aid of the Egyptian gods and been promised deliverance. In the night, as the two armies lay opposite each other, hosts of field mice came and destroyed the bow strings of the Assyrians, who next morning fled."

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Sennacherib'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/s/sennacherib.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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