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Sennacherib and Ancient History

This has been a very busy week for me, so I didn’t get the chance to reinterpret the next section of my reflection. However, this gives me an opportunity to include some material that I had to leave out in the service (i.e., I was warned by the children’s workers not to take too long or else there would be trouble).

Since we’re going to look at the mark of submission in relation to Habakkuk, I think it would be a good idea now to consider an event that took place about 100 years prior to Habakkuk’s time  – the invasion of Palestine by Sennacherib in 701 B.C. We have several different accounts to go by: the Hebrew Bible (2 Kings 18-19; Isaiah 36-37; 2 Chronicles 32), several Assyrian versions, and the Greek historian Herodotus. As you might imagine, there are some differences depending on who’s telling the story. This map gives you the best access to some of the relevant texts.

http://biblestudymagazine.com/interactive/sennacherib/map.html

Assyrian artistic depictions of the invasion.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/81-wccF3SqCa3GqpDKk3rg

Additional information on the Assyrian records of this event.

http://cojs.org/cojswiki/Hezekiah%E2%80%99s_Defeat:_The_Annals_of_Sennacherib_on_the_Taylor,_Jerusalem,_and_Oriental_Institute_Prisms,_700_BCE

The larger context of Herodotus’ account (Sennacherib is in section 141).

http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/hh/hh2140.htm

Don’t worry too much about the Assyrian and Greek versions of the invasion differing from the Bible. Ancient Near Eastern rulers were notorious for slanting the facts in their direction. Consider the example of the Assyrian king Shalmanesar.

http://www.livius.org/q/qarqar/qarqar_battle.html

Herodotus and Thucydides are known as the fathers of modern history writing, but both have their issues when compared to what we would expect today.

http://www.yale.edu/heyzeus/winter2002/herodotus.pdf                                                                  http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/thucydid.asp

Unfortunately, we don’t have any texts from the time period in which the Hebrew Bible was written that discuss Hebrew historiography. All we can say for certain is that history and literature were vital elements in the expression of their faith.

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