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The Empires of the Bible from the Confusion of Tongues to the Babylonian Captivity

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    NOTE ON SARGON, SENNACHERIB, AND HEZEKIAH

    The Bible says that the siege of Samaria was begun by Shalmaneser; that “at the end of three years they took it;” and that it was “in the sixth year of Hezekiah” when “Samaria was taken.” And the sixth year of Hezekiah was 721 B. C.EB 340.5

    Sargon says that he captured Samaria. This would require that he should have become king of Assyria before 721 B. C. The records of both Assyria and Babylon agree that Shalmaneser was succeeded by Sargon in 722 B. C. It is plain, then, that Sargon came to the throne during the siege of Samaria; and all three accounts are exactly agreed. Sargon’s first work therefore was to finish the siege and effect the capture of that place. As it was “the 12the day of the monthly Tebet,” the tenth month, that “Sargon sat on the throne,” it was not till within the year 721 B. C. that the capture of Samaria was accomplished.EB 340.6

    There is also the testimony of an eclipse, to this date; for Sargon mentions “the eclipse visible over Haran,” which by the Almagest is shown to have been March 19, 721 B. C. 25[Page 341] “Records of the Past.” Old Series, Vol. vii, p. 27.EB 341.1

    This perfect agreement in all the accounts, each one of which is entirely independent of the others, shows the date 721 B. C. to be absolutely correct.EB 341.2

    By the two independent accounts of Assyria and Babylon, it is plainly shown that Sargon reigned seventeen years—722-705 B. C.EB 341.3

    It is certain that it was at the end of Hezekiah’s fourteenth year that he was sick unto death; because it was then that God added to his days fifteen years, and he reigned twenty-nine years in all.EB 341.4

    The end of Hezekiah’s fourteenth and the beginning of his fifteenth year, was at the beginning of 712 B. C.EB 341.5

    There was a king of Assyria threatening Jerusalem at the very time of Hezekiah’s sickness. For it was then said to him by the word of the Lord, “I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city.” And the sign on the sun-dial was given to assure him that this should certainly be so.EB 341.6

    This is the very year in which Sargon says, and it is confirmed by Isaiah 20:1, that he made his expedition against Judah, Ashdod, etc.; for Sargon’s eleventh year and Hezekiah’s fifteenth meet at 712 B. C.EB 341.7

    Both of the invasions of Judah by Sennacherib, were from the south-west; for at his first invasion, “Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear.” And in the second invasion, Sennacherib sent troops from Lachish to Jerusalem to demand its surrender; and when the Rabshakeh returned he “found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah; for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.” It was in this second invasion that the army of Sennacherib was destroyed by the angel of the Lord, in a night. Thus it is certain that both the invasions of Judah by Sennacherib were from the southwest.EB 341.8

    On the other hand, the invasion described in the tenth chapter of Isaiah, and referred to in the account of Hezekiah’s sickness, was altogether from the northeast. Every city named in Isaiah 10:28-32, in describing the course of the king of Assyria, is on the northeastern road to Jerusalem. As Sennacherib made but two expeditions toward Jerusalem, and both of these were from the southwest, it is certain that this expedition from the northeast was by another king of Assyria. This other king of Assyria could have been only Sargon. And as this expedition was in the year of Hezekiah’s sickness, the beginning of his fifteenth year; and as that is the very year in which Sargon says that he made such an expedition: it must certainly be true that this expedition was made by Sargon.EB 341.9

    Notice also the boast of the king of Assyria recorded in one place, and compare it with that recorded in the other place:—EB 342.1

    In Isaiah 10:8-11 “he said:—EB 342.2

    “Are not my princes altogether kings? Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus? As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria; shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?” In Isaiah 37:11-13 he said:—;EB 342.3

    “Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Telassar? Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivan?”EB 342.4

    One boasts of what he himself had done—“my hand hath found the kingdoms,” “as I have done,” etc. The other says nothing of what he himself had done, or of what nations he had destroyed; but “thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done,” and “them which my fathers have destroyed.” It is hardly possible that these two passages could have been spoken by the same king of Assyria.EB 342.5

    It will be noticed also that the second one does not mention Samaria at all, while it is the principal example in the words of the first. All the places named in the first passage were conquered by Sargon himself: not one of them by Sennacherib, the son of Sargon. Therefore Sargon could truly boast: “My hand hath found the kingdoms,” “I have done unto Samaria;” while Sennacherib could boast only of what “the kings of Assyria,” and his “fathers” had done. This again shows it to be certain that the king of Assyria of Isaiah 10, and of the year of Hezekiah’s sickness, was Sargon.EB 342.6

    Again: the two independent records of Assyria and Babylon agree exactly in the statement that the reign of Merodach-Baladan as king of Babylon, was during the first twelve years of the reign of Sargon as king of Assyria. He made himself king of Babylon “in the month Nisan,” the first month, of the year 721 B. C.—less than three months after the accession of Sargon. In his twelfth year “Sargon sat upon the throne in Babylon,” and held the throne of Babylon for five years, till his death. Upon the death of Sargon, Merodach-Baladan seized the throne of Babylon again; but Sennacherib marched at once to Babylon, in his very first campaign. Merodach-Baladan ran away and never was in Babylon again. Babylon was then governed by viceroys appointed by Sennacherib during the whole of his reign, so that it was impossible for Merodach-Baladan as king of Babylon to send an embassy to Hezekiah in the days of Sennacherib.EB 343.1

    Besides this, the expedition of Sennacherib against Hezekiah that is said to have been in Hezekiah’s fourteenth year, was made in the third year of Sennacherib—two years after Merodach-Baladan had made his final flight from Babylon; so that it is again impossible that Merodach-Baladan could after that have sent an embassy to Hezekiah.EB 343.2

    With the story, however, as it is required to be, by the agreed points in the three independent records of the Bible, of Assyria, and of Babylon, Merodach-Baladan as king of Babylon could send an embassy to Jerusalem to congratulate Hezekiah upon his recovery from his sickness, before Sargon had taken to himself the throne and kingdom of Babylon.EB 343.3

    As the first expedition of Sennacherib against Hezekiah was in his third year—703-702 B. C.; and as this is precisely the twenty-fourth year of Hezekiah; it seems very evident, in view of all the circumstances, that in transcribing 2 Kings 18:13 or Isaiah 36:1, the mistake has been made of writing “fourteen”for “twenty-four;” just as between 2 Kings 8:26 and 2 Chronicles 22:2, “forty-two” has been written for “twenty-two;” and as between 2 Kings 24:8 and 2 Chronicles 36:9 “eight” has been written for “eighteen.”EB 343.4

    If this was a matter of the Assyrian and Babylonian records against the Bible, the translation as to the fourteenth year of Hezekiah might stand; but when it is a matter of the Bible against itself, with all the other records and the heavens themselves concurring it would seem that the translation, “fourteenth” should yield to “twenty-fourth.”EB 343.5

    It will be noticed that in the account of this as it is given in 2 Chronicles 32, no time is given; the story as there told is plainly drawn from original sources, too.EB 343.6

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