The death of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19)

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In 2 Kings 19:5-7 the prophet Isaiah foretold that the Lord would deliver Jerusalem from the hand of the Assyrian king Sennachereb (ruled 704-681 B.C.), who was besieging the Judahite capital. Isaiah stated that Sennacherib would return to his own land after having heard a particular report and that there the Lords would “have him cut down with the sword” (19:7). This prophecy was fulfilled in 19:35-37. After God had struck the Assyrian camp with a plague, Sennacherib withdrew to Assyria. The “report” Sennacherib heard was that Tirhakah of Egypt was marching out against him. With 185,000 of his soldiers felled by the plague, Sennacherib’s forces were so significantly depleted that he was compelled to pull back rather than face this powerful Egyptian enemy. The Bible record informs us that, once back in Assyria, Sennacherib was killed by his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer while he was worshipping in the temple of Nisroch (19:37). These two men escaped to Ararat, and another son, Esarhaddon, became king.

Although the identity of Sharezer is unknown from extra-biblical material, we do know of a son of Sennacherib named Arda.Mulishi. A Neo-Babylonian letter describes an event just prior to Sennacherib’s assassination. In this account several Babylonian men hear of a conspiracy to kill Sennacherib, and one of them seeks an audience with the king to warn him. Rather than taking him to the king, however, two Assyrian officials blindfold the man and lead him before the king’s son Arda-Mulishi (also called “Arda-Ninili”; Ninili and Mulishi are two names for the same deity). Thinking that he is standing before Sennacherib, the man shouts that Sennacherib’s son, Arda-Mulishi, is plotting to kill him. Arda-Mulishi orders that he, along with other Babylonians who know of the plot, be put to death.

Assyriologists have reconstructed the events surrounding Sennacherib’s murder. His oldest son had been taken captive to Elam in 694 B.C., ans Arda-Mulishi, probably the next oldest, expected to succeed his father. Sennacherib, however, chose Esarhaddon over his older brothers to be the crown prince. While Esarhaddon was away from the capital, Arda-Mulishi murdered his father, probably hoping to take the throne by force. Esarhaddon returned to Nineveh to contest Arda-Mulishi’s claim. Many og Arda-Mulishi’s soldiers and allies sided with Esarhaddon, and Arda-Mulishi fled.

The Biblical Adrammelech was most likely Arda-Mulishi. That Sennacherib’s murder occurred 20 years after the siege of Jerusalem should not trouble us. Scripture does not state that Sennacherib would die immediately upon his return to Assyria. In fact, 19:37 begins with the words “one day”, suggesting that time had passed between the previous verses and what was about to be reported. The author was simply telescoping the events in order to demonstrate that the word of the Lord in 19:7 had indeed been fulfilled.

Relatert bilde

Account of Sennacherib’s campaigns and rebuilding of Nineveh

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