By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
Sennacherib (704-681) likely was involved in the death of his father, Sargon II. Sennacherib moved the Assyrian capital back to Nineveh (modern day Mosull, Iraq) and demarcated a huge area north and south of the original site for his massive building projects. He diverted water courses, built water horses and funneled water from afar (even 20 miles away) with canals that included the famous Jerwan Aqueduct. Sennacherib also built an Incomparable Palace (aka Palace Without Rival) referred to in inscriptions as ekallu sa sanina la.
When Maduk-apla-iddina usurped the Babylonian throne, Sennacherib stationed his troops along the Tigris. After seizing some Babylonian territory, a power struggle ensued between he and Babylonia. In 691 BC, the Babylonian ruler lost his chief ally when the Elamite ruler died of a stroke. Sennacherib invaded, and in an example of god-napping he took a revered statue of Marduk back to Assyria. Sennacherib seized Lachish in Judah, building upon his predecessor's success at Samaria, but he failed to conquer Jerusalem. To maintain frontier security, Sennacherib also campaigned in Anatolia as well as the Syrian desert and southern Levant. However, he failed to reach Egypt as Assyria's homeland grew unstable without his presence.
Sennacherib's Hexagonal Prism
The prism is an example of the Assyrian king's annals, which catalogue annual accomplishments.
Assyrian king Sennacherib's (701-681 BC) military campaign and siege of Jerusalem are depicted in his ~689 BC hexagonal prism (discovered at Nineveh; now at the Oriental Institute) and in the reliefs from his palace at Nineveh (particularly his campaign against Lachish).
In my third campaign I marched against Hatti. Luli, king of Sidon, whom the terror-inspiring glamour of my lordship had overwhelmed, fled far overseas and perished.° The awe-inspiring splendor of the “Weapon” of Ashur, my lord, overwhelmed his strong cities such as Great Sidon, Little Sidon, Bit-Zitti, Zaribtu, Mahal liba, Ushu (i.e. the mainland settlement of Tyre), Akzib and Akko, all his fortress cities, walled and well provided with feed and water for his garrisons, and they bowed in submission to my feet. I installed Ethba'al (Tuba'lu) upon the throne to be their king and imposed upon him tribute due to me as his overlord (to be paid) annually without interruption. As to all the kings of Amurru—Menahem from Samsimuruna, Tuba'lu from Sidon, Abdili'ti from Arvad, Urumilki from Byblos, Mitinti from Ashdod, Buduili from Beth-Ammon, Kammusunadbi from Moab and Aiarammu from Edom, they brought sumptuous gifts and—fourfold—their heavy tamartu -presents to me and kissed my feet. Sidqia, however, king of Ashkelon, who did not bow to my yoke, I deported and sent to Assyria, his family gods, himself, his wife, his children, his brothers, all the male descendants of his family. I set Sharruludari, son of Rukibtu, their former king, over the inhabitants of Ashkelon and imposed upon him the payment of tribute and of katru-presents due to me as overlord— and he now pulls the straps of my yoke! In the continuation of my campaign I besieged Beth Dagon, Joppa, Banai-Barqa, Azuru, cities belonging to Sidqia who did not bow to my feet quickly enough; I conquered them and carried their spoils away. The officials, the patricians and the common people of Ekron—who had thrown Padi, their king, into fetters because he was loyal to his solemn oath sworn by the god Ashur, and had handed him over to Hezekiah, the Jew— and Hezekiah held him in prison, unlawfully, as if Padi were an enemy—had become afraid and had called (for help) upon the kings of Egypt and the bowmen, the chariot-corps and the cavalry of the king of Ethiopia, an army beyond counting—and they actually had come to their assistance. In the plain of Eltekeh, their battle lines were drawn up against me and they sharpened their weapons. Upon a trust-inspiring oracle given by Ashur, my lord, I fought with them and inflicted a defeat upon them. In the mle of the battle, I personally captured alive the Egyptian charioteers with their princes and also the charioteers of the king of Ethiopia. I besieged Eltekeh and Timnah, conquered them and carried their spoils away. I assaulted Ekron and killed the officials and patricians who had committed the crime and hung their bodies on poles surrounding the city. The common citizens who were guilty of minor crimes, I considered prisoners of war. The rest of them, those who were not of crimes and misbehavior, I released. I made Padi, their king, come from Jerusalem and set him as their lord on the throne, imposing upon him the tribute due to me as overlord. As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities, walled forts and to the countless small villages in their vicinity, and conquered them by means of well-stamped earth-ramps and battering-rams brought thus near to the walls combined with the attack by foot soldiers, using mines, breeches as well as sapper work. I drove out 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting, and considered them booty. Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage. I surrounded him with earthwork in order to molest those who were his city's gate. His towns which I had plundered, I took away from his country and gave them over to Mitinti, king of Ashdod, Padi, king of Ekron, and Sillibel, king of Gaza. Thus I reduced his country, but I still increased the tribute and the katru -presents due to me as his overlord which I imposed upon him beyond the former tribute, to be delivered annually. Hezekiah himself, whom the terror-inspiring splendor of my lordship had overwhelmed and whose irregular and elite troops which he had brought into Jerusalem, his royal residence, in order to strengthen it, had deserted him, did send me, later, to Nineveh, my lordly city, together with 30 talents of gold, 800 talents of silver, precious stones, antimony, large cuts of red stone, couches inlaid with ivory, nimedu-chairs inlaid with ivory, elephant-hides, ebony-wood, boxwood and all kinds of valuable treasures, his own daughters, concubines, male and female musicians. In order to deliver the tribute to do obeisance as a slave he sent his messenger.