(Heb. S6, סוֹא; Sept. Σηγώρ; Vulg. Sua), a king of Egypt whom Hoshea, the last king of Israel, called to his help against the Assyrians under Shalmaneser, evidently intending to become the vassal of Egypt, and therefore making no present, as had been the yearly custom, to the king of Assyria (2Ki 17:4). B.C. 726. The consequence of this step, which seems to have been forbidden by the prophets, who about this period are constantly warning the people against trusting in Egypt and Ethiopia, was the imprisonment of Hoshea, the taking of Samaria, and the carrying captive of the ten tribes. SEE ISRAEL, KINGDOM OF. It has been questioned whether this So was the same with Sabaco (Manetho Sabacon),
the first king of the Ethiopian dynasty in Upper Egypt, or his son and successor Sevechus (Manetho Sebichos), the second king of the same dynasty, and the immediate predecessor of Tirhakah. Winer hesitates between them, and Gesenius concludes for the latter. Sevechus reigned twelve years, according to Manetho, fourteen according to Syncellus. This name, in Egyptian Sebech, is also that of the god Saturn (Champollion, Panth. Egypt. No. 21, 22; Winer, Real Worterb. s.v.; Geseunius, Comment. in Jes. 1, 696). SEE EGYPT.
The accession of Teharka, the Tirhakah of Scripture, may be nearly fixed on the evidence of an Apis tablet, which states that one of the bulls Apis was born in his twenty-sixth year, and died at the end of the twentieth of Psammetichus I. This bull lived more than twenty years, and the longest age of any Apis stated is twenty-six. Supposing the latter duration, which would allow a short interval between Teharka and Psammetichus 2, as seems necessary, the accession of Teharka would be B.C. 695. If we assign twenty-four years to the two predecessors, the commencement of the dynasty would be B.C. 719. But it is not certain that their reigns were continuous. The account which Herodotus gives of the war of Sennacherib and Sethos suggests that Tirhakah was not ruling in Egypt at the time of the destruction of the Assyrian army, so that we may either conjecture, as Dr. Hincks has done, that the reign of Sethos followed that of Shebetek and preceded that of Tirhakah over Egypt (Journ. Sac. Lit. Jan. 1853), or else that Tirhakah was king of Ethiopia while Shebetek, not the same as Sethos, ruled in Egypt; the former hypothesis being far the more probable. It seems impossible to arrive at any positive conclusion as to the dates to which the mentions in the Bible of So and Tirhakah refer, but it must be remarked that it is difficult to overthrow the date of B.C. 721 for the taking of Samaria. If we adopt the earlier dates, So must correspond to Shebek; if the later, perhaps to Shebetek; but if it should be found that the reign of Tirhakah is dated too high, the former identification might still be held. The name Shebek is nearer to the Hebrew name than Shebetek; and if the Masoretic points do not faithfully represent the original pronunciation, as we might almost infer from the consonants, and the name was Sewa or Seva, it is not very remote from Shebek. We cannot account for the transcription of the Sept.
From Egyptian sources we know nothing more of Shebek than that he conquered and put to death Bocchoris, the sole king of the twenty-fourth dynasty, as we learn from Manetho's list, and that he continued the monumental works of the Egyptian kings. There is a long inscription at El- Karnak in which Shebek speaks of tributes from "the king of the land of Khala (Shara)," supposed to be Syria (Brugsch, Hist. d'Egypte, 1, 244). This gives some slight confirmation to the identification of this king with So, and it is likely that the founder of a new dynasty would have endeavored, like Shishak and Psammetichus I, the latter virtually the founder of the twenty-sixth, to restore the Egyptian supremacy in the neighboring Asiatic countries. The standard inscription of Sargon in his palace at Khorsabad states, according to M. Oppert, that after the capture of Samaria, Hanon, king of Gaza, and Sebech, sultan of Egypt, met the king of Assyria in battle at Rapih, Raphia, and were defeated. Sebech disappeared, but Hanon was captured. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, was then put to tribute (Les Inscriptions Assyriennes des Sargonides, etc. p. 22). This statement would appear to indicate that either Shebek or Shebetek, for we cannot lay great stress upon the seeming identity of name. with the former, advanced to the support of Hoshea and his party, and being defeated fled into Ethiopia, leaving the kingdom of Egypt to a native prince. This evidence favors the idea that the Ethiopian kings were not successive. SEE TIRHAKAH.
In a room in the ruins of the palace of Sennacherib at Koyunjik, Mr. Layard found a piece of clay upon which was impressed the signet of Sabak, or Sabaco, king of Egypt. On the same piece of clay is impressed an Assyrian seal, probably that of Sennacherib, with a device representing a priest ministering before the king, or perhaps the symbol of the high contracting parties. The original of this remarkable seal is now deposited in the British Museum. The Egyptian portion of it represents Sabak as about to smite an enemy, perhaps in sacrifice to Amun-Ra, with a kind of mace. Above and before him are hieroglyphs, expressing Netr nfr nb ar cht Sabak= "the perfect god, the lord who produces things, Sabak." Behind him, sha sanch-haf= "life follows his head." On the left edge, ma na nak= "I have given to thee." This seal, impressed with the royal signets of the two monarchs, probably Sennacherib and Sabak, or So, appears to have been affixed to a treaty between Assyria and Egypt and deposited among the archives of the kingdom. As the two monarchs were undoubtedly contemporary, this piece of clay furnishes remarkable confirmatory evidence of the truth of Scripture history. SEE PHARAOH.