SENNACHERIB (Assyrian, "Sin-aḥe-erib" = "Sin hath increased the brethren"; Hebrew, ):

King of Assyria, 705-681 B.C.; son and successor of Sargon. His reign was a warlike one, yet it was marked by grandeur in architecture and art. Almost immediately after his accession to the throne Sennacherib was obliged to quell a revolt headed by Merodach-baladan, King of Babylonia, who had been dethroned by Sargon, and who now made an attempt, which was unsuccessful, to involve Hezekiah in his rebellion (II Kings xx. 12; Isa. xxxix. 1). In 703, at Kisu, about ten miles from Babylon, the Assyrian king completely defeated his opponent (comp. Jer. l. 2), who fled to Guzumani in Susiana. After taking Babylon and overrunning Chaldea, Sennacherib conquered a number of minor tribes along the middle Euphrates and in Zagros; and in the fourth year of his reign he marched against Luli, King of Tyre. This monarch fled, and his territory was seized by the Assyrians, who received tribute from a number of other petty rulers and, after the capture of Ascalon, invaded Egypt. This attack was caused by the Philistine city of Ekron, which had dethroned its king, Padi, a friend of the Assyrians, and had sent him to Hezekiah, who imprisoned him. Ekron then entered into an alliance with Egypt and Ethiopia; but this coalition was completely overthrown by Sennacherib at Altaku (the Eltekeh of Josh. xix. 44), near Ekron, and Padi was restored to his throne.

Besieges Jerusalem.

Hezekiah, however, by his partizanship had exposed himself to the hostility of Sennacherib, who began in 701 a campaign which is described at some length in the Bible (II Kings xviii.-xix.; II Chron. xxxii.; Isa. xxii., xxxvi.-xxxvii.; comp. Josephus, "Ant." x. 1). The invasion was at first completely succesful for the Assyrian arms. City after city of Judah fell, and Hezekiah was besieged in Jerusalem until he submitted to the payment of a ransom of 300 talents of silver (or, according to Sennacherib himself, of 800) and 30 of gold, the Temple itself being stripped to make up the amount. The conqueror then withdrew to Nineveh, but, after a marauding expedition into Cilicia, he was obliged in the following year again to subdue Merodachbaladan, who had fled to Nagitu on the Persian Gulf. With the aid of Phenician shipwrights, Sennacherib constructed a fleet on the Tigris, and finally reached Nagitu. After a stubborn resistance the fugitives were routed and forced to return.

Disaster Before Jerusalem.

Despite certain chronological difficulties, it seems probable on the whole that Sennacherib again invaded Palestine, about 699, because Hezekiah, relying on Egyptian support, had once more revolted. Directing his main attacks on Libnah and Lachish, the Assyrian king sent a strong force to Jerusalem to demand its surrender. The insolent tone adopted by his officers, however, rendered all overtures impossible; and, recognizing their inability to carry the city by storm, they returned to Sennacherib, who had meanwhile reached Pelusium, where he was about to attack Sethos, Pharaoh of Egypt. Before a battle could be fought a mysterious calamity befell the Assyrian army, which is said to have lost 185,000 men in a single night, while the remnant, fleeing in terror, was pursued by the Egyptians (II Kings xix. 35; Isa. xxxvii. 36; Herodotus, ii. 141). This disaster, however, which naturally is not mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions, did not stay the career of Sennacherib. His expeditionto Nagitu brought upon Babylonia a retaliatory raid by the Elamites, who set a new king on the throne of Babylon. The Assyrians were completely victorious over the combined forces of Elamites and Babylonians, and in the following year (692) Sennacherib overran Susiana, capturing many towns, including the temporary capital of Kudur-Nakhunta, the Elamitic king, who fled, but survived his defeat only three months. His son and successor, Umman-Minanu, made an alliance with Mushezib-Marduk, King of Babylonia; and their forces were augmented by some of the Euphratean tribes which Sennacherib had subdued in the third year of his reign. After a fierce battle at Khalule on the lower Tigris, the Assyrian king routed his opponents, and followed up his victory by sacking Babylon itself (689). The events of the last eight years of the reign of Sennacherib are not recorded. In 681 the king was assassinated in the temple of Nisroch (possibly another name for Marduk) at Nineveh by two of his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer. The throne was seized by Esar - haddon, another son of Sennacherib.

  • Rawlinson, Seven Ancient Monarchies: The Second Monarchy, 4th ed., London, 1879;
  • Bezold. Inschriften Sanherib, in Schrader, K. B. ii., Berlin, 1890;
  • Thiele, Babylonisch-Assyrische Geschichte, Gotha, 1886;
  • Winckler, Gesch. Babyloniens und Assyriens, Leipsic, 1892;
  • Meissner and Rost, Bauinschriften Sanheribs, ib. 1893;
  • Rogers, History of Babylonia and Assyria, New York, 1900;
  • Nagel, Zug des Sanherib Gegen Jerusalem, Leipsic, 1902;
  • Schrader, K. A. T. 3d ed.
E. G. H. L. H. G.
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