[many Tirshakah] (Heb. Tirha'kah, תּרהָקָה, of Ethiopic derivation; Sept. θαρακά v.r. θαραθά and θαρά ; Vulg. Tharaca), a king of Cush (Sept. βασιλεὺς Αἰθιόπων, A.V. "king of Ethiopia" ), the opponent of Sennacherib (2Ki 19:9; Isa 37:9). While the king of Assyria was "warring against Libnah," in the south of Palestine, he heard of Tirhakah's advance to fight him, and sent a second time to demand the surrender of Jerusalem. This was near the close of B.C. 713, unless we suppose that the expedition took place in the twenty-fourth instead of the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, which would bring it to B.C. 703. If it were an expedition later than that of which the date is mentioned, it must have been before B.C. 697, Hezekiah's last year. But, if the reign of Manasseh is reduced to thirty-five years, these dates would be respectively B.C. cir. 693, 683, and 678, and these numbers might have to be slightly modified if the fixed date of the capture of Samaria, B.C. 720, be abandoned. SEE HEZEKIAH. Wilkinson supposes (1, 138) that Tirh'kah occupied the throne of Egypt from B.C. 710 to 689. Rawlinson gives the date B.C. 690 (Hersod. 1, 392). Dr. Hincks, in an elaborate article, argues for this latter date, and: supposes Tirh'kah, after a reign over Egypt of twenty-six years, to have retired to Ethiopia B.C. 664 (Journ. of Sac. Lit. Jan. 1864). SEE CIHRONOLOGY. According to Manetho's epitomists, Tarakos (Ταρακός), or Tarkos (Ταρκός), was the third and last king of the XXVth dynasty, which was of Ethiopians, and reigned eighteen (Afr.) or twenty (Eus.) years. From one of the Apis-Tablets we learn that a bull Apis was born in his twenty-sixth year and died at the end of the twentieth of Psammetichus I of the XXVIth dynasty. Its life exceeded twenty years, and no Apis is stated to have lived longer than twenty-six. Taking that sum as the most probable, we should date Tirh'kah's accession B.C. cir. 695, and assign him a reign of twenty-six years. In this case we should be obliged to take the later reckoning of the Biblical events, were it not for the possibility that Tirh'kah ruled over Ethiopia before becoming king of Egypt. In connection with this theory it must be observed that an earlier Ethiopian of the same dynasty is called in the Bible "So, king of Egypt," while this ruler is called Tirh'kah, king of Ethiopia," and that a Pharaoh is spoken of in Scripture at the period of the latter, and also that Herodotus (3, 141) represents the Egyptian opponent of Sennacherib as Sethos, a native king, who may, however, have been a vassal under the Ethiopian. See So. It is deserving of remark, and strongly favors the view of those writers who maintain that during considerable periods Ethiopian dynasties ruled in Egypt, that from the time of Shishak to that of Tirh'kah it is of Ethiopians that we read in Scripture as having mainly furnished the hosts which marched to battle out of Egypt. While Shishak is called king of Egypt, his army is declared to have been composed, not of Egyptians, but of Lubims and Sukkims and Ethiopians (2Ch 12:3). We subsequently read of Zerah the Ethiopian leading an army of Ethiopians and Lubims against Asa (16, 8). We now find that while Pharaoh of Egypt may have made great promises, it is the Ethiopian king Tirh'kah who alone brings an army into the field. In the reign of Pharaoh-necho, the Egyptian army seems to have been mainly composed of Ethiopians and Libyans (Jer 46:9). The natural inference is that, during this long period, the military power of Egypt was at a low ebb. At the time we are now speaking of, Rawlinson supposes Egypt to have been subject to Ethiopia (Hierod. 1, 391). In this he is not quite correct, however. Egypt may have been inferior to it in strength and spirit, but it was, at least, nominally independent at this time, though it may have fallen soon after under the power of the Ethiopian king. That Tirh'kah was actually king of Egypt at some time is strongly maintained. There is nothing in Scripture to prevent our supposing that he became so subsequent to the period when it speaks of him. Indeed, in the position in which it places him, at the head of a large army in Egypt, with no Assyrian enemy to dread, it pictures a situation which would tempt an ambitious soldier to extend his power by dethroning an effeminate or irresolute monarch, such as the Pharaoh of his time would seem to have been. Wilkinson (1, 138-142) supposes that he at first ruled over Upper Egypt, while Sethos held the sovereignty of the lower country; that he came to the Egyptian throne rather by legal succession than by usurpation; and that he did actually fight against the army of Sennacherib, and overthrow it in battle. Scripture, however, expressly ascribes the overthrow of the Assyrian to the supernatural interposition of God (2Ki 19:35). Herodotus (2, 141) does not mention Tirh'kah at all, but only speaks of the king of Egypt, and mentions the overthrow of the Assyrian army very much in the way that crafty, priests might pervert tie actual occurrence as recorded in Scripture. It is quite possible that Tirh'kah may have led his army in pursuit of the Assyrians after their mysterious midnight overthrow; may have captured prisoners and treasure; and this would be quite sufficient ground for any successes ascribed to him on the Theban sculptures. If, as is probable, he became king of all Egypt, there seems strong reason for agreeing with much, at least; of Strabo's account of him (lib. 15) as having extended his conquests into Europe. The Assyrian power was effectually checked by the ruin of its army and the divisions of its reigning family. At the head of a great army which had come forth to fight the Assyrians, and now found itself without a foe, there is every reason why Tirh'kah may have extended the Egyptian power as far as any Egyptian king before him. If Tirh'kah did come into actual collision with the Assyrians at or near Pelusium in Egypt, as many writers maintain, it must have been upon another occasion than that mentioned in Scripture (see Josephus, Ant. 10:1, 4). It is, however, more probable that Scripture has sketched in a few words the entire matter, and that the variations from it are the effect of ignorance or design. The invasion of Assyria had probably Egypt and Ethiopia as its ultimate object, but in the account of. Scripture the Assyrian host plainly was only on its way to the accomplishment of its purpose. SEE SENNACHERIB.
The name of Tirh'kah is written in hieroglyphics Teharka (or Coptic Tarkha). His successful opposition to the power of Assyria is recorded on the walls of a Theban temple, for at Medinet Habu are the figure and the name of this king and the captives he took (Trevor, Egypt, p. 71). At Jebel Berkel, or Napata, he constructed one temple and part of another. Of the events of his reign little else is known, and the account of Megasthenes (ap. Strabo, 15:686, where he is called "Tearkon the Ethiopian,'Τεάρκων οΑ῾ἰθίοψ), that he rivaled Sesostris as a warrior and reached the Pillars of Hercules, is not supported by other evidence. It is probable that at the close of his reign he found the Assyrians too powerful, and retired to his Ethiopian dominions. See Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 1, 140 sq.; Brugsch, Hist. of Egypt, 2, 256 sq. SEE ETHIOPIA.