Book of Judith Suggests Sargon as Sennacherib
Damien F. Mackey
Now, there is only the one Assyrian king, ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ … ruling throughout the entire drama of the Book of Judith, and he has likenesses to ‘both’ Sennacherib and Sargon II. Thus:
• (As Sennacherib) The incident to which the climax of the Book of Judith drama could be referring, if historical, is the defeat of Sennacherib’s army of 185,000; yet
• (As Sargon II) The Assyrian king in Judith 1 seems to equate well with Sargon, inasmuch as he commences a war against a Chaldean king in his Year 12.
So it might be asked: Was the Book of Judith’s Assyrian king, Sargon or Sennacherib?
The question of course becomes irrelevant if it is one and the same king. See e.g. my:
[Stylistic likeness and even personal likeness in the case of both the king and of the accompanying official]
The Book of Tobit was, like the Book of Judith, a popular and much copied document. The incidents described in the former are written down as having occurred during the successive reigns of ‘Shalmaneser’, ‘Sennacherib’ and ‘Esarhaddon’. No mention at all there of Sargon, not even as father of Sennacherib. Instead, we read: “But when Shalmaneser died, and his son Sennacherib reigned in his place ...” (1:15).
Moreover this ‘Shalmaneser’, given as father of Sennacherib, is also referred to as the Assyrian king who had taken into captivity Tobit’s tribe of Naphtali (vv. 1-2); a deed generally attributed to Tiglath-pileser III and conventionally dated about a decade before the reign of Sargon II.
This would seem to strengthen my suspicion that Shalmaneser V was actually Tiglath-pileser III:
The neo-Assyrian chronology as it currently stands seems to be, like the Sothic chronology of Egypt - though on a far smaller scale - over-extended and thus causing a stretching of contemporaneous reigns, such as those of Merodach-baladan II of Babylonia, Mitinti of ‘Ashdod’ and Deioces of Media.
There are reasons nonetheless, seemingly based upon solid primary evidence, for believing that the conventional historians have got it right and that their version of the neo-Assyrian succession is basically the correct one. However, much of the primary data is broken and damaged, necessitating heavy bracketting. On at least one significant occasion, the name of a king has been added into a gap based on a preconception.
Who is to say that this has not happened more than once?
Esarhaddon’s own history is so meagre that recourse must be had to his Display Inscriptions, thereby leaving the door open for “errors” as according to Olmstead.
With the compilers of the conventional neo-Assyrian chronology having mistaken one king for two, as I am arguing to have occurred in the case of Sargon II/Sennacherib, and probably also with Tiglath-pileser III/Shalmaneser V, then one ends up with duplicated situations, seemingly unfinished scenarios, and of course anomalous or anachronistic events.
Thus, great conquests are claimed for Shalmaneser V whose records are virtually a “blank”. Sargon II is found to have been involved in the affairs of a Cushite king who is well outside Sargon’s chronological range; while Sennacherib is found to be ‘interfering’ in events well within the reign of Sargon II, necessitating a truncation of Sargon’s effective reign in order to allow Sennacherib to step in early, e.g. in 714 BC, “the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah” (2 Kings 18:13; Isaiah 36:1), and in 713 BC (tribute from Azuri of ‘Ashdod’).
Again, Sargon II claims ‘former’ conquests of regions though there appears to have been no follow up by him (i.e. as Sargon); the follow up being found only in Sennacherib’s records. One often has to ask, and to try to discover, if a certain event occurred in the reign of Sargon or of Sennacherib. Eponym trends, literary trends, colonisation trends (e.g. at ‘Ashdod’) can be perfectly consistent from Sargon on to Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, as long as the inconsistent, tradition-breaking Sennacherib is left out of the picture.
Sargon is virtually missing from Nineveh.
Sennacherib is missing from Dur-Sharrukin.
Sennacherib is missing the last decade of his Annals. Sargon is prolix about a region of campaign where Sennacherib is correspondingly brief about his own adventures in that region. And vice versa. Sargon will give a detailed account of his famous conquest of ‘Ashdod’ (identified in this thesis as Lachish); though pictorial representation of it is lacking. Sennacherib conquers the mighty Lachish, and lavishes his throne room with pictorial detail of this triumph; but hardly mentions it in writing.
These are simply I believe the two faces of the one coin, Sargon II = Sennacherib; ‘Ashdod’ = Lachish; and the two faces need to be put together if we are to make the ‘currency’ functional:
Admittedly, there are problems in connection with my revision, especially with regard to Esarhaddon’s titulary; but I think they are well outweighed by the anomalies, duplications and anachronisms resulting from the conventional structure.
New foundations are needed for, as revisionist Eric Aitchison proclaimed, “we wax so bold as to challenge this perceived snug arrangement” of conventional Assyro-Babylonian history. To establish the era of King Hezekiah on firm foundations (my thesis):
A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah
and its Background
one ought to take seriously that five-fold synchronism cross-checking
- Hezekiah and
- Hoshea, with
- the fall of Samaria, at the hands of
- Sargon of Assyria, who in turn has provided a chronological link with