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ASSYRIA


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ASSYRIA


Sennacherib, enraged and revengeful, resolved to storm and destroy the city. But in that same night the whole AssjTian army, gathered under the walls of Jerusalem, was stricken by the angel of the Lord, who slew one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assj-rian soldiers. At the sight of this terrible calamity, Sennacherib, in terror and confusion, departed and returned to AssjTia. The AssjTian and the Biblical accounts are prima facie conflicting, but many more or less plausible solutions have been suggested. In the first place we must not expect to find in Sennacherib's o«-n annals mention of, or allusion to, any reverse he may have suffered; such allusions would be clearly incompatible with the monarch's pride, as well as ^\-ith the purpose of annals inscribed only to glorify his exploits and victories. In the second place, it is not improbable that Sennacherib undertook two different campaigns against Juda: in the first, to which his annals refer, he contented himself with exacting and recei\'ing submission and tribute from Ezechias (Hezekiah); but in a later expedition, which he does not mention, he insisted on the surrender of Jerusalem, and in this latter expedition he met with the awful disaster. It is to this expedition that the Biblical account refers. Hence, there is no real contradiction between the two narratives, as they speak of two different events. Furthermore, the disaster which overtook the Assyrian army may have been, after all, quite a natural one. It may have been a sudden attack of the plague, a disease to which Oriental armies, from their utter neglect of sanitation, are extremely sub- ject, and before which they quickly succumb. Jose- phus explicitly affirms that it was a flagellum pra- digiosum (Antiq. Jud., X, i, n. 5); while, according to an Egj"ptian tradition preserved to us by Herodotus (Lib. II, cxli), Sennacherib's army was attacked and destroyed by a kind of poisonous wild mice, which suddenly broke into the Assyrian camp, •completely demoralizing the army. At any rate Sennacherib's campaign came to an abrupt end, and he was forced to retreat to \ineveh. It is noteworthy, tiowever, that for the rest of his life Sennacherib undertook no more military expeditions to the West, or to Palestine. This fact, interpreted in the light of the Assj-rian monuments, would be the result of the complete submission of Syria and Palestine; while in the light of the Biblical narrative it would signify that Sennacherib, after his disastrous de- feat, dared not attack Palestine again.

While lajing siege to Jerusalem, Sennacherib received the disquieting news of Merodach-baladan's sudden appearance in Babylonia. A portion of the Assyrian army was detached and hurriedly sent to Babylonia against the restless and indomitable foe of AssjTia. In a fierce battle, ilerodach-baladan was for the third time defeated and compelled to flee to Elam, where, worn and broken down by old age and misfortunes, he ended his troubled life, and Asshur-nadin-shum, the eldest son of Sennache- rib, was appointed king over Babylonia. After his return from the West, and after the final defeat of Merodach-baladan, Sennacherib began lengthy and active preparations for an effective expedition against Babylonia, which was ever rebellious and restless. — " The expedition was as unique in its methods as it was audacious in its conception." — With a powerful army and na%-y, he moved southward and, in a terrific battle near Khalulu, utterly routed the rebellious Chaldeans, Babylonians, and Elamites, and executed their two chiefs. Xergal-usezib and Musezib-Merodach. Elam .vas ravaged. " the smoke of burning towns obscuring the heavens". He next attacked Babylon, which was stormed, sacked, burnt, flooded, and so mercilessly pimished that it ■was reduced to a mass of ruins, and almost ob- literated. On his return to Assj-ria, Sennacherib


appears to have spent the last years of his reign in building his magnificent palace at Nineveh, and in embellishing the city with temples, palaces, gardens, arsenals, and fortifications. After a long, stormy, and glorious reign, he died by the hand of one of his own sons (681 b. c). The Bible tells us that "as he [Sennacherib] was worshipping in the temple of Xes- roch his god, Adramelech and Sarasar his sons slew him with the sword, and they fled into the land of the -Vrmenians, and Asarhaddon [Esarhaddon] his son reigned in his stead" (IV Kings, xix, 37). The "Babylonian Chronicle", however, has "On 20Thebet [December- January] Sennacherib, King of Assj-ria, was slain by his son in a rebellion . . . years reigned Sennacherib in AssjTia. From 20 Thebet to 2 Adar [March-April] was the rebellion in Assyria main- tained. On 18 Adar his son, Esarhaddon, ascended the throne of Assyria. " If the murderer of Seimache- rib was, as the "Babylonian Chronicle" tells us, one of his own sons, no son of Sennacherib by the name of Adrammelech or Sharezer has as yet been found in the Assyrian monuments; and while the Biblical narrative seems to indicate that the murder took place in Nineveh, on the other hand an inscription of Asshur- banipal, Sennacherib's grandson, clearly affirms that the tragedy took place in Babylon, in the temple of Marduk (of which Xesroch, or Xisroch, is probably a corruption).

Sennacherib was succeeded by his younger son, Esarhaddon, who reigned from 681 to 668 B. c. At the time of his father's death, Esarhaddon was in Armenia with the Assyrian army, but on hearing the sad news he promptly set out for Nineveh, first to avenge his father's death by punishing the perpe- trators of the crime, and then to ascend the throne. On his way home he met the assassins and their army near Cappadocia, and in a decisive battle routed them with tremendous loss, thus becoming the sole and undisputed lord of Assyria. Esar- haddon "s first campaign was against Babylonia, where a fresh revolt, caused bj' the son of the late Merodach-baladan, had broken out. The pre- tender was easily defeated and compelled to flee to Elam. Esarhaddon, unlike his father, determined to build up Babylon and to restore its ruined temples, palaces, and walls. He gave back to the people their propertj', which had been taken away from them as spoils of war during Sennacherib's destruc- tive campaign, and succeeded in restoring peace and harmony among the people. He determined, further- more, to make Babylon his residence for part of the year, thus restoring its ancient splendour and re- ligious supremacy. Esarhaddon's second campaign was directed against the West, i. e. Syria, where a fresh rebellion, having for its centre the great mari- time city of Sidon, had broken out. He captured the city and completelj- destroyed it, ordering a new city, with the name of Kar-Esarhaddon, to be built on its ruins. The King of Sidon was caught and beheaded, and the surrounding coimtry devastated. Twenty-two SjTian princes, among them Manasses. King of Juda, surrendered and submitted to Esar- haddon. Scarcely, however, had he retired when these same princes, including Manasses, revolted. But the great Esarhaddon utterly cn'shed the rebellion, taking numerous cities, captives, and treasures, and ordering Manasses to be carried to Babylon, where the king was then residing. A few years later Esarhaddon had mercy on Manasses and allowed him to retimx to his own kingdom. In a tliird campaign, Esarhaddon blockaded the im-

Eregnable TjTe, and set out to conquer Egj-pt, whicli e successfully accomplished by defeating its king. Tirhakah. In order to effectively establish Assyrian supremacy over Egj-pt, he di\"ided the country into twenty provinces, and over each of these he appointed a governor; sometimes a native, sometimes an