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Saturday, August 30 2014

2 Chronicles 32: What Does Sennacherib's Prism Say?

"Hezekiah, King of Judah, would not submit to my yoke"

The LORD (Who was and is Jesus Christ - see Genesis 1: In The Beginning Was The Word and The Kingdom Of The LORD God) delivered His wrath upon "the lost ten tribes" of Israel by means of allowing the Assyrians to invade and conquer them (see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Lost Ten Tribes). The Kingdom of Judah however was still righteous in the eyes of the LORD (Israel fell to the Assyrians in 721 BC, while Judah continued for another 135 years until they fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC), due to the leadership of some righteous kings, such as Hezekiah, who turned the people of Judah away from the liberalism that was demoralizing and destroying their nation from within (see Why The Other Sacrifices?, When The Church Will Become The Kingdom and The Sabbaths, New Moons and Feasts Of The LORD).

The LORD permitted the Assyrian king Sennacherib to invade and conquer Israel (see the Fact Finder question below). The LORD did not authorize Sennacherib to invade Judah - but Sennacherib did so anyway (the account is found in both Kings and Chronicles; see Sennacherib's Turn From Israel To Judah).

The Assyrians, like most ancient nations, kept historical records. Included among those Assyrian records are the "Taylor Prism" which is today in the British Museum, and the "Sennacherib Prism," which is today in the Oriental Institute of Chicago. Assyrian historians recorded on them Hezekiah's stand against the Assyrian invaders, and the further invasion that came after it. The Assyrian account matches the Biblical account, with the exception that the Bible includes the result, while the Assyrian account stops suddenly at their "glorious" invasion.

Prism

"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 46 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 diverse treasures, a rich and immense booty ... All these things were brought to me at Nineveh, the seat of my government."

The Biblical account matches the Assyrian prisms exactly (they are one of many accounts written by ancient historians that match the Biblical account e.g. an Egyptian historian recorded the Exodus; see Ipuwer's Exodus).

"32:1 After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself. 32:2 And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, 32:3 He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him. 32:4 So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water? 32:5 Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance.

32:6 And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying, 32:7 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: 32:8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah." (2 Chronicles 32:1-8 KJV)

The Biblical account then includes what happened when Sennacherib's arrogance (as also evident on the Assyrian prism itself) bloated from insults to Hezekiah to blaspheming the LORD.

"32:9 After this did Sennacherib king of Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem, (but he himself laid siege against Lachish, and all his power with him,) unto Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Judah that were at Jerusalem, saying,

32:10 Thus saith Sennacherib king of Assyria, Whereon do ye trust, that ye abide in the siege in Jerusalem? 32:11 Doth not Hezekiah persuade you to give over yourselves to die by famine and by thirst, saying, The LORD our God shall deliver us out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 32:12 Hath not the same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall worship before one altar, and burn incense upon it?

Sennacherib 32:13 Know ye not what I and my fathers have done unto all the people of other lands? were the gods of the nations of those lands any ways able to deliver their lands out of mine hand? 32:14 Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of mine hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand? 32:15 Now therefore let not Hezekiah deceive you, nor persuade you on this manner, neither yet believe him: for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand, and out of the hand of my fathers: how much less shall your God deliver you out of mine hand?

32:16 And his servants spake yet more against the LORD God, and against his servant Hezekiah. 32:17 He wrote also letters to rail on the LORD God of Israel, and to speak against him, saying, As the gods of the nations of other lands have not delivered their people out of mine hand, so shall not the God of Hezekiah deliver his people out of mine hand. 32:18 Then they cried with a loud voice in the Jews' speech unto the people of Jerusalem that were on the wall, to affright them, and to trouble them; that they might take the city. 32:19 And they spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man." (2 Chronicles 32:9-19 KJV)

The prophet Isaiah was active in Jerusalem at the time. He joined with Hezekiah in a prayer of deliverance to the LORD. The result was an annihilation of Sennacherib's army and the assassination of disgraced Sennacherib by his own sons (the account is also found in 2 Kings 19:35-37; see also What Did Isaiah Do During The Siege Of Judah?).

"32:20 And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven. 32:21 And the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword.

32:22 Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side. 32:23 And many brought gifts unto the LORD to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah: so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth." (2 Chronicles 32:20-23 KJV)

Hezekiah's healing from an illness was a gift for his righteousness (see Hezekiah's Healing), however "Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem." Righteous Hezekiah's humanity had caused him to slip, however once again "Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah." Unlike many of the kings of Israel and Judah, Hezekiah reigned and died as a righteous leader.

"32:24 In those days Hezekiah was sick to the death, and prayed unto the LORD: and he spake unto him, and he gave him a sign. 32:25 But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. 32:26 Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.

32:27 And Hezekiah had exceeding much riches and honour: and he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones, and for spices, and for shields, and for all manner of pleasant jewels; 32:28 Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks. 32:29 Moreover he provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for God had given him substance very much.

32:30 This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works. 32:31 Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.

32:32 Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness, behold, they are written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, and in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 32:33 And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death. And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead." (2 Chronicles 32:24-33 KJV)

Fact Finder: Why did the LORD send the prophet Jonah to Assyria? Why didn't Jonah want to go?
See Jonah: Three Days And Three Nights


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This Day In History, August 30

30 BC: Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt (see The Cleopatra Connection and A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars), died. She is said to have committed suicide by having a poisonous snake to bite her.

Antony and Cleopatra 526: King Theodoric the Great died of dysentery at Ravenna. Theodoric's daughter Amalasuntha assumed power as regent for her 10-year old son Athalaric.

1125: Lothair II, Duke of Saxony, was elected king of the Germans (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).

1363: The forces of two Chinese leaders, Chen Youliang and Zhu Yuanzhang, met at the Battle of Lake Poyang, one of the largest naval battles in history (see also Gog and Magog).

1791: HMS Pandora sank after running aground on a reef the previous day. The Royal Navy warship was best known as the vessel sent in 1790 to search for the HMS Bounty and the mutineers who had hijacked it.

1799: During the Second Coalition of the French Revolutionary Wars, the entire Dutch fleet was captured by British forces under the command of Sir Ralph Abercromby and Admiral Sir Charles Mitchell.

1835: Melbourne, Australia was founded.

1873: Austrian explorers Julius von Payer and Karl Weyprecht discovered the archipelago later named Franz Joseph Land in the Arctic Sea.

1881: In Germany, Clement Ader patented the first stereophonic sound system.

1914: The Battle of Tannenberg, one of history's greatest military disasters, ended after the Russian Second Army lost 30,000 troops after being encircled by the Germans.

1940: Sir J.J. Thomson, the English physicist who discovered the electron in 1897, died at age 83. He was buried near Isaac Newton in the nave of Westminster Abbey.

1945: Hong Kong was liberated when the British Royal Navy under Rear Admiral Cecil Harcourt sailed into Victoria harbor to accept the Japanese surrender.

1973: Kenya banned the hunting of elephants and the trade in ivory.

1980: A 17 day strike at the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, ended when union leader Lech Walesa signed an agreement with government negotiators.

1981: Iranian President Mohammad Ali Rajai and Prime Minister Mohammad Javad Bahonar were killed in a bomb blast at the Prime Minister's office in Tehran.

1982: Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat abandoned his headquarters in Beirut following an Israeli military intervention into Lebanon (see also Where Is Palestine?).

1995: NATO began military operations against Bosnian Serb forces.



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Copyright © Wayne Blank