Tar'tan (Heb. Tartan', תִּרתָּן; Sept. Θαρθάν v.r. Τανάθαν or Ταραθάν; Vulg. Tharthan), which occurs only in 2Ki 18:17 and Isa 20:1, has been generally regarded as a proper name (Gesenius, Lex. Heb. s.v.).
Winer assumes, on account of the identity of name, that the same person is intended in the two places (Realw. s.v.). Recent discoveries make it probable that in Tartan, as in Rabsaris and Rabshakeh, we have not a proper name at all, but a title or official designation, like Pharaoh among the Egyptians, or Surena among the Parthians (Tacit. Ann. 6:42). The Assvrian Tartan is a general, or commander-in-chief. It seems as if the Greek translator of 2 Kings had an inkling of the truth, and therefore prefixed the article to all three names, which he very rarely prefixes to the names of persons where they are first mentioned. If this be the true account of the term Tartan, we must understand in 2Ki 18:17 that Sennacherib sent "a general," together with his "chief eunuch" and "chief cup-bearer," on an embassy to Hezekiah, and in Isa 20:1 that "a general"-probably a different person-was employed by Sargon against Ashdod, and succeeded in taking the city. SEE TRIBUTE.