[some Sennache'rib] (Heb. Sancherib', סִנחֵרַיב; read in the cuneiform as Sinachirib, i.e. Sin [the Moon] increases brothers, thought to indicate that he was not the first born; Sept.: Σενναχηρίμ v.r. Σεναχηρείμ; Josephus, Σεναχήριβος; Herodotus Σαναχάριβος; Vulg. Sennacherib), a famous Assyrian monarch, contemporary with Hezekiah. The name of Sennacherib (in Assyrian Sin-achi-iriba) is written in various ways; but three forms are most common, of which we present the most usual. It consists of three elements: the first, Sin, or the "Moon" god; the second, achi, or "brothers" (אה); and the third, iriba, or "he increased" (רב); the meaning of the whole being "the Moon has multiplied brothers." SEE CUNEIFORM.
1. Earlier Annals. — Sennacherib was the son and successor of Sargon (q.v.). We know very little of him during his father's lifetime. From his name, and from a circumstance related by Polyhistor, we may gather that he was not the eldest son, and not the heir to the crown till the year before his father's death. Polyhistor (following Berosus) related that the tributary kingdom of Babylon was held by a brother — who would doubtless be an elder brother — of Sennacherib's, not long before that prince came to the throne (Berosus, Fragm. 12). Sennacherib's brother was succeeded by a certain Hagisa, who reigned only a month, being murdered by Merodach- Baladan, who then took the throne and held it three months. The details of Sennacherib's campaigns are given under each year in the cuneiform records of his reign. From these it appears that he began to reign July 16, B.C. 705, and was murdered in December 681 (Smith and Sayce, Cun. Hist. of Senn. [Lond. 1878] p. 8).
His first efforts were directed to crushing the revolt of Babylonia, which he invaded with a large army. Merodach-Baladan ventured on a battle, but was defeated and driven from the country. Sennacherib then made Belibus (Bel-ibni) an officer of his court, viceroy, and, quitting Babylonia, ravaged the lands of the Aramaean tribes on the Tigris and Euphrates, whence he carried off 200,000 captives. In the ensuing year he made war upon the independent tribes in Mount Zagros, and penetrated thence to Media, where he reduced a portion of the nation which had previously been independent.
2. Conquest of Judaea. — We give the account of this as condensed from the cuneiform annals by the late George Smith (Hist. of Assyria from the Monuments, p. 117 sq.):
"The eastern expedition of Sennacherib occupied his third year, and at the close of this year, his southern and eastern borders being secure, he had leisure to turn his attention to the affairs of Palestine. Encouraged by the king of Egypt, Hezekiah, king of Judah, had. thrown off the Assyrian yoke, several of the smaller sovereigns had either voluntarily joined him or been forced to submit to the, king of Judah, and Lulia (the Elulius of Josephus), king of Tyre and Zidon, had also rebelled against Sennacherib. The Assyrians had lost their hold on all the country from Lebanon to Arabia, and Sennacherib resolved to reconquer this region. Crossing from his capital into Syria, which he calls the land of the Hittites, he attacked first. Lulia, king of Zidon; but this prince was not prepared to resist Sennacherib, so he embarked on one of his vessels from the city of Tyre, and set sail for the land of Yatnan (the island of Cyprus), abandoning his country to the mercy of the Assyrians. Sennacherib now besieged and took the various Phoenician towns: Tyre, the strong city, appears to have successfully resisted him, but he captured Zidunnurabn (great Zidon, Jos 19:25) and the lesser Zidon; then coming south, Bitzitte and Zariptu (Zarephath, 1Ki 17:9), Mahalliba Usu (Hosah, Jos 19:29), Akzibi (Achzib, ver. 29), and Akku (Accho, Jg 1:31). The sea coast of Phoenicia, down to the land of the Philistines, was now in the hands of Sennacherib, and he raised a man named Tubahal to the throne of Zidon, and fixed upon the country an annual tribute. The success of Sennacherib along the coast, and the failure of Egyptian aid, now brought nearly the whole of Palestine to his feet, and the various rulers sent envoys with tribute, and tokens of submission to present before the Assyrian monarch. Menahem, who ruled at Samaria; Tubahal, the newly made king of Zidon; Abdilihiti, king of Arvad; Urumelek, king of Gebal; Metinti, king of Ashdod; and Buduil, king of the Ammonites; Kemosh-natbi, king of the Moabites; and Airammu, king of Edom, now made their peace, and Askelon, Ekron, and Judah alone remained in rebellion. Sennacherib started from Akku, and keeping along the coast, invaded Askelon, and capturing Zidqa, the revolting king, sent him, his wife, his sons and daughters, his brothers, and other relatives, captive to Assyria. The cities of Askelon, Bitdaganna (Beth-dagon, Jos 15:41), Yappu (Joppa, Jon 1:3), Benai-barqa (Bene-berak, Jos 19:45), and Azuru were successively captured, and Sennacherib placed Saruludari, the son of Rukibti, on the throne. Moving from Askelon, Sennacherib attacked Ekron: he tells us that Padi, king of Ekron, had been faithful to his pledges to Assyria, and the priests, princes, and people of Ekron had conspired against him and revolted, and, putting their king in bonds, had delivered him into the hands of Hezekiah, king of Judah, to be kept prisoner at Jerusalem. The revolters at Ekron relied on the assistance of Egypt; and when Sennacherib advanced against the city, a force under the king of Egypt came to their assistance. The Egyptian army was from the kings of Egypt (the plural being used), and from the king of Miruhha, or Ethiopia. To meet the army of Egypt, Sennacherib turned aside to Altaqu (Eltekeh, ver. 44), where the two forces met, and the Egyptians were defeated. See So. The overthrow of the Egyptian army was followed by the capture of Altaqu and Tamna (Timnah, 15, 10), and Sennacherib again marched to Ekron, and put to death the leading men of the city who had led the revolt, and severely treated the people. Their king, Padi, was demanded of Hezekiah, king of Judah, and, being delivered up, was once more seated on the throne. The last part of the expedition given in the Assyrian annals consists of the attack on Hezekiah. The king of Judah was the most important of the tributaries who had thrown off the yoke of Assyria, and was reserved for the last operations. After settling the affairs of Ekron, Sennacherib marched against Judah, and captured forty-six of the fortified cities of Hezekiah, agreeing with the statement of the Scripture (2Ki 18:13-16) that he came up against all the fenced cities of Judah and took them; all the smaller places round them were destroyed, and Sennacherib carried into captivity 200,150 people of all sorts, together with horses, mules, asses, camels, oxen, and sheep in great numbers. Sennacherib goes on to relate that he shut up Hezekiah in Jerusalem like a caged bird, and built towers round the city to attack it. Sennacherib now began to portion off and dispose of the territory which he had conquered. The towns along the western side he detached from Judah, and divided them between Metinti, king of Ashdod, Sarn-ludari, king of Askelon, Padi, king of Ekron, and Zilli-bel, king of Gaza, the four kings of the Philistines who were now in submission to Assyria, and he increased the amount of the tribute due from these principalities. Hezekiah and his principal men, shut up in Jerusalem, now began to fear, and resolved on submission. Meanwhile the soldiers of Sennacherib were attacking Lachish, one of the last remaining strong cities of Judah. The pavilion of this proudest of the Assyrian kings was pitched within sight of the city, and the monarch sat on a magnificent throne while the Assyrian army assaulted the city. Lachish, the strong city, was captured, and thence Sennacherib dictated terms to the humbled king of Judah. Hezekiah sent by his messenger and made submission, and gave tribute, including thirty talents of gold, 800 talents of silver, precious stones of various sorts, couches and thrones of ivory, skins and horns of buffaloes, girls and eunuchs, male and female musicians. According to the record of Sennacherib, he returned to Nineveh in triumph, bearing with him this tribute and spoil, and not a single shadow of reverse or disaster appears in the whole narrative.
The accounts of this expedition of Sennacherib given in the Bible relate that after the submission of Hezekiah, the angel of the Lord went through the camp of the Assyrians and destroyed 185,000 men of Sennacherib's army, and that the Assyrian monarch returned in disgrace to Nineveh (2Ki 19:35-37). This overthrow of Sennacherib's army is confirmed by a story told to Herodotus (2, 141) by the Egyptian priests. They relate that in the time of an Egyptian king named Sethos, Sennacherib made an expedition against Egypt, and came as far as Pelusium. Sethos went out against him with an inferior army, having invoked the aid of the Egyptian gods and been promised deliverance. In the night, as the two armies lay opposite each other, hosts of field mice came and destroyed the bow strings of the Assyrians, who next morning fled."
The discrepancy in dates between the cuneiform and the Biblical accounts of this invasion are at present irreconcilable (Journ. of Sac. Lit. July, 1854, p. 383 sq.). SEE CHRONOLOGY. There has probably been an error in reading the former, or perhaps an error in the record itself. All attempts to correct the Scripture date are forbidden by the manner in which it is interlaced and confirmed by the context. Rawlinson and others have sought a partial solution of the difficulty by the supposition of a twofold attack by Sennacherib upon Palestine; but neither the Assyrian nor the Biblical annals give any countenance to this view. SEE HEZEKIAH.
3. Later Campaigns and Death. — In his fourth year Sennacherib invaded Babylonia for the second time. Merodach-Baladan continued to have a party in that country, where his brothers still resided; and it may be suspected that the viceroy, Belibus, either secretly favored his cause, or, at any rate, was remiss in opposing it. The Assyrian monarch, therefore, took the field in person, defeated a Chaldaean chief who had taken up arms on behalf of the banished king, expelled the king's brothers, and, displacing Belibus, put one of his own sons on the throne in his stead. In his fifth year he led an expedition into Armenia and Media; after which, from his sixth to his eighth year, he was engaged in wars with Susiana and Babylonia. From this point his annals fail us.
Sennacherib is believed to have reigned at least twenty-two, and perhaps twenty-four, years. The date of his accession appears to be fixed by the canon of Ptolemy to B.C. 702, the first year of Belibus or Elibus; but Col. Rawlinson's revised computation (in the Athenoeum, No. 1869, Aug. 22, 1863, p. 245) dates the accession in B.C. 704, and the late Assyriologist George Smith makes the reign to have begun in B.C. 705. The Scripture synchronism locates its beginning in B.C. 715. The date of his death seems to be marked in the same canon by the accession of Asaridanus (Esarhaddon) to the throne of Babylon in B.C. 680; but it is possible that an interval occurred between the two. SEE ESAR-HADDON. The monuments are in conformity with the canon, for the twenty-second year of Sennacherib has been found upon them, while they have not furnished any notice of a later year. SEE ASSYRIA.
Of the death of Sennacherib nothing is known beyond the brief statement of Scripture, that "as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch (?) his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia" (2Ki 19:37; Isa 37:38). It is curious that Moses of Chorene and Alexander Polyhistor should both call the elder of these two sons by a different name (Ardumazanes or Argamozanus); and it is still more curious that Abydenus, who generally drew from Berosus, should interpose a king Nergilus between Sennacherib and Adrammelech, and make the latter be slain by Esarhaddon (Eusebius, Chr. Can. 1, 9; comp. 1, 5; and see also Mos. Chor. Arm. Hist. 1, 22). Moses, on the contrary, confirms the escape of both brothers, and mentions the parts of Armenia where they settled, and which were afterwards peopled by their descendants.
4. Character. — Sennacherib was one of the greatest of the Assyrian kings, and also one of the proudest of them. The prophet Isaiah pictures his haughtiness his "stout heart," and the "glory of his high looks;" represents him as boasting, "Are not my princes altogether kings?" and as ascribing his victories to his "strength of hand" and his "wisdom" — victories, at the same time, so complete and so easy as when one takes away the eggs of a fowl so scared that it neither fluttered nor "peeped" (10, 8-14). Sennacherib himself verifies the portrait for he calls himself "the great king," "king of nations," "king of the four regions," "first of kings," "favorite of the great gods," etc. The accompanying seal depicts him killing a lion, and in one of his inscriptions he boasts of such a conquest. His approaching invasion filled Jerusalem with deep alarm, and Isaiah again and again depicts it. His boasts of previous conquests were not vain ones: ancient monarchies had disappeared before him, opposing armies had perished "as grass on the house tops," and his numerous hosts had drunk up rivers on their march. An ideal march is vividly sketched for him — by Aiath, Migron, and Michmash, to Geba, and Nob on the northern shoulder of Olivet. Sennacherib did not come by this route, for he wished to prostrate Egypt; but the route sketched might have been taken, and its very difficulties are meant to picture Assyrian intrepidity and perseverance. All the while Sennacherib was only God's "rod," an "axe in his hand;"' and "Lebanon," an image of his stately and warlike grandeur, "shall fall by a mighty one." "The virgin, the daughter of Sion," without armor or prowess, but courageous in her seeming helplessness, laughed him to scorn. Nay, God would do to him as he had done to the captives at Lachish, "put a hook into his nose," and ignominiously and easily turn him "back by the way he came" (Isaiah 37). "The stout-hearted are spoiled, they slept their sleep; at thy rebuke, both the chariots and horses were cast into a deep sleep;" "the earth feared and was still, when God arose to judgment" (Ps 76:5-9).
Sennacherib was not only a great warrior, but also a grand builder. He seems to have been the first who fixed the seat of government permanently at Nineveh, which he carefully repaired and adorned with splendid buildings. His great work is the palace of Koyunjik, surpassing in magnificence all the buildings of his predecessors. The royal structure, built on a platform of about ninety feet in elevation, and paved with bricks, covered fully eight acres. Its great halls and chambers were ranged round three courts; one of them 154 feet by 125, and another 124 feet by 90. One of the halls was about 180 feet in length by about 40 in breadth, and sixty smaller rooms have been explored. These rooms are broader than those of his predecessors, probably because he used cedars from Lebanon. He built also, or repaired, a second palace at Nineveh on the mound of Nebbi Yunus, confined the Tigris to its channel by an embankment of brick, restored the ancient aqueducts, which had gone to decay, and gave to Nineveh that splendor which she thenceforth retained till the ruin of the empire. The realistic sculptures of Sennacherib are very instructive; every day scenes of Assyrian life are depicted by them; landscapes and hunting; the various processes of masonry; the carving and transportation of the great bulls; and the slaves working in gangs, and often in the presence of the king. He also erected monuments in distant countries. One of his memorials is at the mouth of the Nahr el-Kelb, on the Syrian coast, verifying his boast that he "had come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon;" and there it stands side by side with the tablet which tells of the conquests of Rameses the Great, more than five centuries before the period of Sennacherib. SEE NINEVEH.