by Gordon Franz
A Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts in Old Testament
Columbia Biblical Seminary and Graduate School of Missions
Columbia, South Carolina
Sennacherib’s campaign(s), well attested in Biblical and Assyrian sources, against the Land of Judah during the reign of King Hezekiah has created much debate among Biblical scholars. Was there only one campaign against Judah by Sennacherib, or two? If two, when were they?
This thesis attempts to develop a chronological sequence for the life of King Hezekiah, and specifically the campaigns of Sennacherib against Judah, based on primary sources, i.e. the Biblical, Assyrian and Egyptian records along with the results from various excavations that have been conducted in Israel in the past half century.
The standard “One-Campaign” (701 BC) and “Two-Campaign” (701 BC and 688/7 BC) reconstructions are examined and found wanting.
A re-examination of the Biblical, as well as the extra-Biblical sources was done and a new proposal set forth for the reign of King Hezekiah. It is suggested that he reigned for 29 years, from 727 BC to 698 BC. Sennacherib made two incursions against Judah. The first in the “fourteenth year” (713/12 BC) ended after Hezekiah paid tribute to Sennacherib. Merodach-Baladan II also sent his envoys to Jerusalem during this year to congratulate Hezekiah on his recovery from sickness. The second incursion by Sennacherib (his “third campaign”) in 701 BC included the conquest of Phoenicia, Philistia, and a large portion of Judah. His forces besieging Jerusalem were destroyed by the Angel of the LORD. Egyptian / Ethiopian forces attacked the Assyrians twice. The first attack of the combined forces resulted in an Assyrian victory on the Plains of Eltakah. The result of the second battle, under the command of Tirhakah, is not known.
The Biblical writers use various literary devices to convey the truths of these historical accounts.
Isaiah 1-39 is seen as historical and 2-35 appears to be in chronological order.
TABLE OF CONTENT
The Significance of this Study
The Introduction to the Problem
The Purpose of this Thesis
The Plan of this Thesis
II. THE TWO CAMPAIGN THEORY
The History and Proponents of the Theory
A “Rejoined” Assyrian Text
The Redated Tirhakah Inscription
III. THE ONE-CAMPAIGN THEORY
Problems with this Theory
Order of Events
IV. A NEW PROPOSAL
Reconsidering the Data
The Beginning of the Reign of King Hezekiah
The “Fourteenth Year”
The Revolt and Tribute
The Archaeological Evidence for Two Campaigns
Shebna and Eliakim
The Year 701 BC
The Third Campaign
The Literary Justification for the Reconstruction
Isaiah 36 and the 701 BC Campaign
2 Chronicles 32
The Babylonian Visit and the Order of Isaiah
The Challenge of the Thesis
The Divine Purpose of the Two Campaigns
VI. APPENDIX 1: THE CHRONOLOGY OF ISAIAH 1-39
In any large undertaking, there are many people to thank. This thesis is no exception. My appreciation and love to all those who worked with, prayer for, and supported me in various ways. However, there are eight people who should be singled out for special recognition.
First and foremost, my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth A. Franz. Without their constant encouragement and support, this project would never have been completed. I love you.
The second person is Mr. Cyril Hocking, a Bible teacher from Cardiff, Wales. He introduced me to the chronological problem in the life of King Hezekiah in 1979. Subsequently, his initial ideas and our many talks on the subject laid the foundation for this study. His insights into this period have been a source of inspiration, while his gentle prompting encouraged me to pursue this topic further.
Two Israeli colleagues deserve special thanks, Professor David Ussishkin and Dr. Gabriel Barkay. It has been a pleasure working with these two men excavating various sites relating to the life of King Hezekiah. Dr. Ussishkin, the director of the Lachish Excavation, gave me a sense of excitement for the last half of the 8th century BC as we grappled with the issue of the destruction of Level III at the site (attributed to Sennacherib), as well as unearthed the Assyrian siege ramp.
Dr. Barkay has instilled a love for Biblical Jerusalem and the people who live in that city. It has been a pleasure working with him on various sites in and around Jerusalem which relate to this period. First, the burial caves at the “Shoulder of Hinnom” as well as other burial caves around the city. Second, the tumulus in the western part of Jerusalem where probably a memorial service in honor of King Hezekiah was conducted after his death (2 Chron. 32:35). And finally, the palace of King Hezekiah at Ramat Rachel. These invaluable experiences have created a sense of reaching out and touching Biblical history and people, especially King Hezekiah. I almost feel like I know him!
Dr. Bill Shea, of the Biblical Research Institute, deserves special thanks for all his help with my research on this problem. While we disagree in our conclusions, he has been gracious in providing me with those “hard-to-get” articles, as well as his valuable time for discussing my ideas and reading my rough draft.
My two advisors, Dr. Alex Luc and Dr. Paul Fowler, for their prompting, encouragement, fellowship, and role-model. Thanks.
Special thanks goes to the Princeton Theological Seminary library for allowing me to use their facilities. It was great to be able to go to one library and find most of what I needed, as well as a 4-cents-a-page copy machine!