digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















King of Assyria
Sennacherib during his Babylonian war, relief from his palace in Nineveh
Reign 705 – 681 BC
Akkadian Sîn-ahhī-erība
Greek Σενναχηριμ (Sennacherim)
Hebrew Sanherib
Died 681 BC
Predecessor Sargon II
Successor Esarhaddon
Father Sargon II

Sennacherib (/səˈnækərɪb/; Akkadian: Sîn-ahhī-erība "Sîn has replaced (lost) brothers for me") was the son of Sargon II, whom he succeeded on the throne of Assyria (705 – 681 BC).

Rise to power[edit]

As the crown prince, Sennacherib was placed in charge of the Assyrian Empire while his father, Sargon II, was on campaign. Unlike his predecessors, Sennacherib's reign was not largely marked by military campaigns, but mainly by architectural renovations, constructions and expansions. After the violent death of his father, Sennacherib encountered numerous problems in establishing his power and faced threats to his domain. However, he was able to overcome these power struggles and ultimately carry out his building projects. During his reign, he moved the empire's capital from his father's newly constructed city of Dur-Sharrukin to the old city and former capital of Nineveh. It is considered striking that Sennacherib not only left his father's city, but also doesn’t name him in any official inscription during his reign.

War with Babylon[edit]

Assyrian warriors armed with slings from the palace of Sennacherib, 7th century BCE

During his reign Sennacherib encountered various problems with Babylonia. His first campaign took place in 703 BC against Marduk-apla-iddina II who had seized the throne of Babylon and gathered an alliance supported by Chaldeans, Aramaeans and Elamites. We can date the visit of Babylonian ambassadors to Hezekiah of Judah in this period. The allies wanted to make use of the unrest that arose at the accession of Sennacherib. Sennacherib split his army and had one part attack the stationed enemy at Kish while he and the rest of the army proceeded to capture the city Cutha. After that was done the king returned swiftly to aid the rest of his army. The rebellion was defeated and Marduk-apla-iddina II fled. Babylon was taken, and its palace plundered but its citizens were left unharmed. The Assyrians searched for Marduk-apla-iddina II, especially in the southern marshes, but he was not found. The rebellion forces in the Babylonian cities were wiped out and a Babylonian named Bel-ibni who was raised at the Assyrian court was placed on the throne. When the Assyrians left, Marduk-apla-iddina II started to prepare another rebellion. In 700 BC the Assyrian army returned to fight the rebels in the marshes again. Not surprisingly, Marduk-apla-iddina II fled again to Elam and died there.

Bel-ibni proved to be disloyal to Assyria and was taken back a prisoner. Sennacherib tried to solve the problem of the Babylonian rebellion by placing someone loyal to him on the throne, namely his son Ashur-nadin-shumi. It didn’t help. Another campaign was led six years later, in 694 BC, to destroy the Elamite base on the shore of the Persian Gulf. To accomplish this, Sennacherib had obtained Phoenician and Syrian boats which sailed with the rest of his army down the Tigris to the sea. The Phoenicians were not used to the tide of the Persian Gulf which caused a delay. The Assyrians battled the Chaldeans at the river Ulaya and won the day. While the Assyrians were busy at the Persian Gulf, the Elamites invaded northern Babylonia in a complete surprise. Sennacherib's son was captured and taken to Elam and his throne was taken over by Nergal-ushezib. The Assyrians fought their way back north and captured various cities, in the meanwhile a year had passed as it was now 693 BC.

A large battle was fought against the Babylonian rebels at Nippur, their king was captured and in turn taken to Nineveh. For the loss of his son Sennacherib launched another campaign into Elam where his army started to plunder cities. The Elamite king fled to the mountains and Sennacherib was forced to return home because of the coming winter. Another rebellion leader, named Mushezib-Marduk claimed the Babylonian throne and was supported by Elam. The last great battle was fought in 691 BC with an uncertain result which enabled Mushezib-Marduk to remain on the throne for another two years. This was only a brief respite because shortly afterwards Babylon was besieged which led to its fall in 689 BC. Sennacherib claimed to have destroyed the city and indeed the city was unoccupied for several years.

War with Judah[edit]


In 701 BC, a rebellion backed by Egypt and Babylonia broke out in Judah, led by King Hezekiah. In response Sennacherib sacked a number of cities in Judah. He laid siege to Jerusalem, but soon returned to Nineveh, with Jerusalem not having been sacked, in order to put down an attempted coup. This event was recorded by Sennacherib himself, by Herodotus, Josephus and by several Biblical writers. According to the Bible, Sennacherib also withdrew because the "angel of Yahweh went out and put to death 185,000 in the Assyrian camp" (2 Kings 19:35).

Sennacherib's account[edit]

Assyrian siege ramp at Lachish.

Some of the Assyrian chronicles, such as the baked-clay Taylor prism now preserved in the British Museum, and the similar Sennacherib prism, preserved in the Oriental Institute, Chicago, date from very close to the time. (see also: Military history of the Neo-Assyrian Empire)[1] (The Taylor Prism itself bears the date "the month of Tammuz; eponym of Galihu, governor of Hatarikka" which is Tammuz in the year 689 BC, according to the Assyrian Eponym List). Assyrian accounts do not treat it as a disaster, but a great victory — they maintain that the siege was so successful that Hezekiah was forced to give a monetary tribute, and the Assyrians left victoriously, without losses of thousands of men, and without sacking Jerusalem. Part of this is contained in the Biblical account, but it is still debated fiercely by historians. In the Taylor Prism, Sennacherib states that he had shut up Hezekiah the Judahite within Jerusalem, his own royal city, like a caged bird.

Sennacherib first recounts several of his previous victories, and how his enemies had become overwhelmed by his presence. He was able to do this to Great Sidon, Little Sidon, Bit-Zitti, Zaribtu, Mahalliba, Ushu, Akzib and Akko. After taking each of these cities, Sennacherib installed a puppet leader named Ethbaal as ruler over the entire region. Sennacherib then turned his attention to Beth-Dagon, Joppa, Banai-Barqa and Azjuru, cities that were ruled by Sidqia and also fell to Sennacherib.

Egypt and Nubia then came to the aid of the stricken cities. Sennacherib defeated the Egyptians and, by his own account, single-handedly captured the Egyptian and Nubian charioteers. Sennacherib captured and sacked several other cities, including Lachish (the second most-strongly fortified city in the Kingdom of Judah). He punished the "criminal" citizens of the cities, and reinstalled Padi, their leader, who had been held as a hostage in Jerusalem.

After this, Sennacherib turned to King Hezekiah of Judah, who refused to submit to him. Forty-six of Hezekiah's cities (cities in 1st millennium BC terms ranged in size from large modern-day towns to villages) were conquered by Sennacherib, but Jerusalem did not fall. His own account of this invasion, as given in the Taylor prism, is as follows:

Biblical account[edit]

The Biblical account of Sennacherib's siege of Jerusalem begins with the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and its capital Samaria. According to one interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, the ten northern tribes came to be known as the Ten Lost Tribes (there is, however, no biblical reference to them as "lost tribes" and postexilic texts like Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Ezra[2] and Nehemiah[3] as well as the New Testament text Luke[4] and Acts[5] do not support the lost tribes theory).

As recorded in II Kings 17, they were carried off and settled with other peoples as was the Assyrian policy. II Kings 18-19 (and parallel passage II Chronicles 32:1-23) details Sennacherib's attack on Judah and capital Jerusalem. Hezekiah had rebelled against the Assyrians, so they had captured all of the towns in Judah. Hezekiah realized his error and sent great tribute to Sennacherib. But the Assyrians nevertheless marched toward Jerusalem. Sennacherib sent his supreme commander with an army to besiege Jerusalem while he himself went to fight with the Egyptians. The supreme commander met with Hezekiah's officials and threatened them to surrender; while hurling insults, so the people of the city could hear, blaspheming Judah and particularly Jehovah, the God of Israel.

When the King Hezekiah heard of this, he tore his clothes (as was the custom of the day for displaying deep anguish) and prayed to God in the Temple. Isaiah the prophet told the king that God would take care of the whole matter and that the enemy would return to his own lands. That night, the Angel of Jehovah killed 185,000 Assyrian troops. Jewish tradition maintains that the angel Gabriel (along with Michael in the Targum's version) was the angel sent to destroy the Assyrian troops, and that the destruction occurred on Passover night.[6][7][8] Other Christian scholars suggest that the "Angel of the Lord" is a reference to Jesus himself. [9]Sennacherib soon returned to Nineveh in disgrace. Some years later, while Sennacherib was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, two of his sons killed him and fled to Armenia. Some[who?] suggest that Psalm 46 was composed as a Song of Deliverance that was led by the Korahite Levitical singers and accompanied by the Alamoth (maidens with tambourines) and sung by the inhabitants of Jerusalem after their successful defense of the city from the siege.

Disaster in Egypt according to Herodotus[edit]

The Greek historian Herodotus, who wrote his Histories ca. 450 BC, speaks of a divinely-appointed disaster destroying an army of Sennacherib (2:141):

According to F. Ll. Griffith, an attractive hypothesis is to identify the Pharaoh as Taharqa before his succession, and Sethos as his Memphitic priestly title, "supposing that he was then governor of Lower Egypt and high-priest of Ptah, and that in his office of governor he prepared to move on the defensive against a threatened attack by Sennacherib. While Taharqa was still in the neighbourhood of Pelusium, some unexpected disaster may have befallen the Assyrian host on the borders of the Kingdom of Judah and arrested their march on Egypt." (Stories of the High Priests of Memphis: The Sethon of Herodotus and the Demotic Tales of Khamuas (1900), p. 11.

As recorded by Josephus[edit]

Josephus' Jewish Antiquities, book ten, verses 21-23 relate an account by the Babylonian historian Berossus, in which Berosus claims a disease befell an Assyrian army led by Rabshakeh, and one hundred and eighty-five thousand men were lost. Earlier in the book, the account of Herodotus is also mentioned.[10]

Building projects[edit]

View of ancient Nineveh, Description de L'Univers (Alain Manesson Mallet, 1719).

During Sennacherib's reign, Nineveh evolved into the leading Metropolis of the empire. His building projects started almost as soon as he became king. In 703 BC, he had already built a palace, complete with a park fitted with artificial irrigation. He called his new home ‘The palace without rival’. For this ambitious project an old palace was torn down to make more room. In addition to his own large gardens, several small gardens were made for the citizens of Nineveh. He also constructed the first ever aqueduct, at Jerwan in 690 BCE,[11] which supplied the large demand of water in Nineveh. The narrow alleys and squares of Nineveh were cleaned up and enlarged, and a royal road and avenue were constructed, which crossed a bridge on its approach to the park gate and which was lined on both sides with stelae. Temples were restored and built during his reign, as is the duty of the king. Most notable is his work on the Assur (god) and the new year (Akitu) temples. He also expanded the city defences which included a moat surrounding the city walls. Some of his city walls have been restored and can still be seen nowadays. The labour for his giant building project was performed by people of Que, Cilicia, Philistia, Tyre and Chaldeans, Aramaeans and Mannaeans who were there involuntarily.

Stephanie Dalley proposes that the combined works of the irrigation system, the palace gardens and the Archimedes' screws used to water them constitute the original "Hanging Gardens".[12] Some of the evidence for this is contentious.[13]


Sennacherib was killed by two of his sons for his desecration of Babylon.[14][15] One story tells of one of Sennacherib's sons toppling a giant lamassu onto him, crushing him to death. He was ultimately succeeded by another son, Esarhaddon.

In popular culture[edit]

An 1813 poem by Lord Byron, The Destruction of Sennacherib, commemorates Sennacherib's campaign in Judea from the Hebrew point of view. Written in anapestic tetrameter, the poem was popular in school recitations.

Sennacherib is briefly mentioned in the science-fiction novel Children of Dune by Frank Herbert, and in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash.

Sennacherib is mentioned in G. K. Chesterton's short story The Hammer of God when the blacksmith, Barnes, proposes that the deceased (his wife's lover) was killed by God in the same way that "the Lord smote Sennacherib."

Sennacherib is also mentioned in the science-fiction novel The War of the Worlds by author H. G. Wells. Chapter 8: "I believed that the destruction of Sennacherib had been repeated, that God had repented, that the Angel of Death had slain them in the night."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kchanson.com
  2. ^ 2:70, 6:17, 8:25, 10:5
  3. ^ 7:37, 12:47
  4. ^ 2:26
  5. ^ 2:14, 22 and 36
  6. ^ "Wesley's Notes on the Bible" II Chronicles 32
  7. ^ The legends of the Jews, Volume 6 By Louis Ginzberg, Henrietta Szold, Paul Radin
  8. ^ Adam Clarke's Commentary - 2 Chronicles 32
  9. ^ J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 5th ed., HarperOne, 1978, p. 11.
  10. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=U06oqM41ZLgC&lpg=PP1&dq=Jewish%20Antiquities&pg=PA415#v=onepage&q=Jewish%20Antiquities&f=false
  11. ^ von Soden, Wolfram. (1985). The Ancient Orient: An Introduction to the Study of the Ancient Near East. (pp.58). Grand Rapids: Erdman's Publishing Company.
  12. ^ Stephanie Dalley, The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: an elusive World Wonder traced, OUP (2013) ISBN 978-0-19-966226-5
  13. ^ Stephanie Dalley and John Peter Oleson (January 2003). "Sennacherib, Archimedes, and the Water Screw: The Context of Invention in the Ancient World", Technology and Culture 44 (1).
  14. ^ Dalley, Stephanie (2008). Esther's revenge at Susa: from Sennacherib to Ahasuerus. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 64–66. ISBN 0-19-921663-0. 
  15. ^ The British Museum: Sennacherib, king of Assyria (704-681 BC)

Further reading[edit]

  • [1] Daniel David Luckenbill, The Annals of Sennacherib, Oriental Institute Publications 2, University of Chicago Press, 1924
  • Edwards – The Cambridge ancient history volume III part 2, 2nd edition, pp. 103–119.
  • Faust, Avraham, "Settlement and Demography in Seventh-Century Judah and the Extent and Intensity of Sennacherib's Campaign," Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 140,3 (2008), 168-194.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Sargon II
King of Babylon
705 – 703 BC
Succeeded by
Marduk-zakir-shumi II
King of Assyria
705 – 681 BC
Succeeded by
Preceded by
King of Babylon
689 – 681 BC
Succeeded by

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sennacherib — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
2455 videos foundNext > 

Biblical Truth - Can the Bible be used as a historical document? Sennacherib's campaign

Sennacherib's campaign was filmed in the British Museum and explores the differences between the Hebrew's Bible and the Assyrian texts and reliefs regarding ...

Who was Sennacherib?

Sennacherib, Hezekiah's nightmare -- or the other way around? -------------- Sennacherib still exists today. Is there a Sennacherib in your life? -----------...

Sennacherib's Siege of Jerusalem

Lord Byron, ~ The Destruction of Sennacherib ~ with text

Lord Byron, ~ The Destruction of Sennacherib ~ with text copyright Robert Nichol AudioProductions 2011 LordByron byron poem poetry RNAudioProductions "The De...

14. Hezekiah, Sennacherib, and Big Surprises

One of the great military reversals of history, attested to in Herodotus and the Bible, and implied in Assyrian records, involves the defeat of the vast army...

Zenvikings Sennacherib's Castle Ruins Part 1

On the way to Nineveh in Mosul, Iraq, we stopped to see Sennacherib's Castle riuns.

Nineveh of Assyria and Sennacherib

This is a video of Nineveh of Assyria and Sennacherib.

"The Destruction of Sennacherib" by Lord Byron (read by Tom O'Bedlam)

Sennacherib was king of Assyria who invaded Judea twice, defeated Babylon and rebuilt Nineveh after it had been destroyed by Babylonians. He died in 681 BC. ...

Mussorgsky - The Destruction of Sennacherib

Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado Мусоргский - Поражение Сеннахериба.

The Destruction of Sennacherib. Words: Lord Byron - Original Music: © Dave Collins, Nottingham UK

This is an extremely famous poem with a dramatic and memorable opening line. Six relatively short stanzas with a fairly simple rhythmic structure. The trick ...

2455 videos foundNext > 

7 news items

Fife Today

Fife Today
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 01:15:00 -0700

And the mighty beards of today's young men are no less intricately and lovingly constructed than the hanging garden-like chin shrubbery of Tiglath Pileser III, or for that matter, Sennacherib, the First and Last. But who is there out there to titivate ...
McDuffie Mirror
Sat, 23 Aug 2014 20:56:15 -0700

The softened regime in Baghdad suddenly was left helpless to deal with a brand of barbaric invader perhaps not seen in those parts since the time of the Assyrian King Sennacherib. The beheadings, mass executions, religious and sectarian strife and ...
Suburban Journals
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 22:03:45 -0700

Then, an Assyrian army led by Sennacherib stirred up a storm of trouble. The winds blew, the rains fell, but the house Hezekiah had repaired stood strong. Crumbling foundations promise imminent destruction. The remedy? Repair. Whether we are speaking ...
Patheos (blog)
Fri, 15 Aug 2014 03:25:31 -0700

So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there” (2 King 19:35-36). God often uses angels to do His work and the power that these angels have compared to human armies…even into the thousands…is ...
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:11:15 -0700

For over 50 years, Nineveh was the largest city in the world and was the capital of the mighty Assyrian Empire under King Sennacherib. Its ruins are located near the banks of the river Tigris, where it once blossomed as an important trading city ...

Patheos (blog)

Patheos (blog)
Sun, 10 Aug 2014 10:34:59 -0700

Lord Byron's poem The Destruction of Sennacherib begins with the line, “The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold.” My friend Paul Thigpen makes the link between the warlords of the Islamic State (IS) and their historic predecessors, the warlike ...


Wed, 20 Aug 2014 05:08:29 -0700

Sennacherib (–700) avançait la même raison : « Le dieu Aššur m'a accordé une souveraineté inégalée. » • À l'Ouest, Jupiter « accorda [aux Romains] un empire sans fin » pour qu'ils deviennent « maîtres du monde. » Romulus, « dieu, fils de dieu, roi et ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Sennacherib

You can talk about Sennacherib with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!