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The Day Sennacherib Challenged God
by Wayne Blank
Sennacherib's own record of his invasion of Judah, which matches the Biblical account, has been found by archaeologists. The clay prism is now in the Oriental Institute Museum in Chicago. A translated excerpt from it:
"Because Hezekiah, king of Judah, would not submit to my yoke, I came up against him, and by force of arms and by the might of my power I took forty-six of his strong fenced cities; and of the smaller towns which were scattered about, I took and plundered a countless number. From these places I took and carried off 200,156 persons, old and young, male and female, together with horses and mules, asses and camels, oxen and sheep, a countless multitude; and Hezekiah himself I shut up in Jerusalem, his capital city, like a bird in a cage, building towers round the city to hem him in, and raising banks of earth against the gates, so as to prevent escape ... Then upon Hezekiah there fell the fear of the power of my arms, and he sent out to me the chiefs and the elders of Jerusalem with 30 talents of gold and 800 talents of silver, and divers treasures, a rich and immense booty ... All these things were brought to me at Nineveh, the seat of my government."
The Assyrian prism stops short of recording the outcome of the invasion (as usual, ancient kings recorded their apparent victories, not their later defeats), however the Bible record completes the account - the Assyrian army was annihilated, not by Hezekiah's army, but by God:
"In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with a great army." (Isaiah 36:1-2 RSV)
Fact Finder: What happened to Sennacherib himself after his army was devastated?