(Heb. Sargon', סִרגּוֹן, either prince of the sun [Gesenius] or firm king [Rawlinson]; Sept. Α᾿ρνᾶ v.r. Ναρνά,), a king of Assyria, whose general, Tartan, in the time of Hezekiah, besieged Ashdod, the key of Egypt, with the view of then invading that country (Isa 20:1,4 sq.). B.C. 715.
Sargon was one of the greatest of the Assyrian kings. His name is read in the native cuneiform inscriptions (q.v.) as Sargina (see Layard, Nin. and Bab. p. 148), while a town which he built and called after himself (now Khorsabad) was known as Sarghun to the Arabian geographers. He is mentioned by name only once in Scripture (as above), and then not in a historical book, which formerly led historians and critics to suspect that he was not really a king distinct from those mentioned in Kings and Chronicles, but rather one of those kings under another name. Vitringa, Offerhaus (Spicileg. p. 125 sq.), Eichhorn, and Hupfeld (De Rebus Assyrior. p. 51) identified him with Shalmaneser; Grotius, Lowth, and Keil (comp. also Schröer, Imper. Babyl. p. 152) with Sennacherib; Perizonius, Kalinsky, and Michaelis with Esar-haddon. All these conjectures are now shown to be wrong by the Assyrian inscriptions, which prove Sargon to have been distinct and different from the several monarchs named, and fix his place in the list — where it had been already assigned by Paulus, Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Knobel, Ewald, and Winer — between Shalmaneser and Sennacherib. He was certainly Sennacherib's father, and there is no reason to doubt that he was his immediate predecessor (see Jour. of Sac. Lit. July, 1854, p. 398 sq.). He ascended the throne of Assyria, as we gather from his annals, in the same year that Merodach- Baladan ascended the throne of Babylon, which, according to Ptolemy's canon, was B.C. 721. This is Col. Rawlinson's date (Lond. Athenoeum, Aug. 22, 1863, p. 245). But the synchronism with the Hebrew annals, SEE HEZEKIAH; SEE SAMARIA, would locate Sargon's accession in B.C. 720. G. Smith puts it in B.C. 722 (Hist. of Assyria, ch. 9), and so Prof. Rawlinson (Ancient Monarchies, 2, 141). He seems to have been a usurper, and not of royal birth, for in his inscriptions he carefully avoids all mention of his father. It has been conjectured that he took advantage of Shalmaneser's absence at the protracted siege of Samaria (2Ki 17:5) to effect a revolution at the seat of government, by which that king was deposed and he himself substituted in his room. SEE SHALMANESER. It is remarkable that Sargon claims the conquest of Samaria, which the narrative in Kings appears to assign to his predecessor. He places the event in his first year, before any of his other expeditions. Perhaps, therefore, he is the "king of Assyria" intended in 2Ki 17:6; 2Ki 18:11, who is not said to be Shalmaneser, though we might naturally suppose so from no other name being mentioned. Or perhaps he claimed the conquest as his own, though Shalmaneser really accomplished it, because the capture of the city occurred after he had been acknowledged king in the Assyrian capital. At any rate, to him belongs the settlement of the Samaritans (27,280 families, according to his own statement) in Halah and on the Habor (Khabur), the river of Gozan, and (at a later period, probably) in the cities of the Medes.
Sargon was undoubtedly a great and successful warrior. In his annals, which cover a space of fifteen years, he gives an account of his warlike expeditions against Babylonia and Susiana, on the south; Media, on the east; Armenia and Cappadocia, towards the north; Syria, Palestine, Arabia, and Egypt, towards the west and southwest (see Records of the Past, 7, 25 sq.). In Babylonia he deposed Merodach-Baladan and established a viceroy; in Media he built a number of cities which he peopled with captives from other quarters; in Armenia and the neighboring countries he gained many victories; while in the far west he reduced Philistia, penetrated deep into the Arabian peninsula, and forced Egypt to submit to his arms and consent to the payment of a tribute. In this last direction he seems to have waged three wars — one in his second year, for the possession of Gaza; another in his sixth year, when Egypt itself was the object of attack; and a third in his ninth, when the special subject of contention was Ashdod, which Sargon took by one of his generals. This is the event which causes the mention of Sargon's name in Scripture. Isaiah was instructed at the time of this expedition to "put off his shoe, and go naked and barefoot," for a sign that "the king of Assyria should lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, to the shame of Egypt" (Isa 20:2-4). We may gather from this either that Ethiopians and Egyptians formed part of the garrison of Ashdod, and were captured with the city, or that the attack on the Philistine town was accompanied by an invasion of Egypt itself, which was disastrous to the Egyptians. The year of the attack, it is thought, would fall into the reign of the first Ethiopian king, Sabaco I (Rawlinson, Herodotus, 1, 386, note 7, 2d ed.), and it is in agreement with this Sargon speaks of Egypt as being at this time subject to Meron. Besides these expeditions of Sargon, his monuments mention that he took Tyre, and received tribute from the Greeks of Cyprus, against whom there is some reason to think that he conducted an attack in person. The statue of Sargon, now in the Berlin Museum, was found at Idalium in Cyprus. It is not very likely that the king's statue would have been set up unless he had made the expedition in person.
It is not as a warrior only that Sargon deserves special mention among the Assyrian kings. He was also the builder of useful works and of one of the most magnificent of the Assyrian palaces. He relates that he thoroughly repaired the walls of Nineveh, which he seems to have elevated from a provincial city of some importance to the first position in the empire; and adds, further, that in its neighborhood he constructed the palace and town which he made his principal residence. This was the city now known as "the French Nineveh," or "Khorsabad," from which the valuable series of Assyrian monuments at present in the Louvre was derived almost entirely. Traces of Sargon's buildings have been found also at Nimrud and Koyunjik; and his time is marked by a considerable advance in the useful and ornamental arts, which seem to have profited by the connection that he established between Assyria and Egypt. He left the throne to his son, the celebrated Sennacherib (q.v.). The length of Sargon's reign is variously reckoned by Assyriologists as from fifteen to nineteen years. SEE CHRONOLOGY. Comp., in addition to the above, the following monographs by Oppert: Les Fautes de Sargon (Paris, 1863); Les Inscriptions des Sargonides (ibid. eod.); also Strachey, Time of Sargon and Sennacherib (Lond. 1856). SEE ASSYRIA.