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Old 07-17-2014, 11:21 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoppers View Post
And here lies the solution, if we take NoCapo and Arequipa's advice and consult the Assyrian version and try to weed out such unhistorical things as miracles, which a historian can never accept as the most probable outcome of events. The historian's task is to find the most probable thing to have happened, and by its very definition a miracle is the least probable thing to have happened. A middle ground must be sought between two accounts of the very same thing, and propaganda (which miracles are a part of in this case) taken into account before blithely accepting the most improbable conclusion.

Assyria did not always have to conquer a city to subdue it into a vassal state paying tribute. Sometimes, the stories of what had happened to other cities or nations was enough to make someone see the futility of their way. Hezekiah made an enormous mistake in trusting in Egypt to come through in the anti-Assyrian coalition that had formed. Perhaps the very zeal that Jeremiah condemned (that Jerusalem and the Temple would NEVER fall), and written in hindsight, of course, is what prompted Hezekiah's advisors to take his newly formed Yahweh-Alone movement and put it to the test. Perhaps it was the fall of Israel to Assyria, and the perceived "apostasy" of the Northern Israelites that prompted him - the Deuteronomistic Historian certainly saw it this way. So it was in the Deuteronomistic Historian's agenda to paint Hezekiah as a pious man of Yahweh who bravely withstood Assyria's might by relying on Yahweh alone, as the Divine Warrior. the later fall of Judah to Babylon would once again be blamed - in hindsight - on Judah's apostasy, and Jeremiah would blame it on their nationalistic pride in thinking that the Temple would never ever fall.

The Biblical account shows this agenda, when in the siege they are taunted for putting their faith in Yahweh to save them. Isaiah assures Hezekiah that Yahweh will protect him and the city. In the Biblical account, Yahweh fights for Jerusalem and saves them, but despite this great demonstration in the saving power of Yahweh, the later king Manasseh reigns and gives little respect to Yahweh. Strange, one would think that if such a great Yahwistic victory had occurred, Manasseh would have been foolish to give up the protection of this great and mighty deity.


The Assyrian version paints a much more believable picture. But before we get to that, we must remember that Assyria had already taken some important steps to ravage the countryside, and even taken the very valuable and important city of Lachish (image from an Assyrian relief at Nineveh, which will probably be destroyed by members of ISIS any day, those bastards - excuse my French):





The siege was successful, the city paid tribute and became a vassal state. The Biblical record does not even come close to representing how much of a complete and utter vassalage the Judahite territories eventually had become. The status of the other cities barely get a mention, and the Biblical account is very sparing with details.

The Assyrian account begins by talking about previous conquests of other nations, and then has a section on Hezekiah:
As for Hezekiah, the Judean, I besieged forty-six
of his fortified walled cities and surrounding
smaller towns, which were without number. Using
packed-down ramps and applying battering rams,
infantry attacks by mines, breeches, and siege machines,
I conquered (them). I took out 200,150
people, young and old, male and female, horses,
mules, donkeys, camels, cattle, and sheep, without
number, and counted them as spoil. He himself, I
locked up within Jerusalem, his royal city, like a
bird in a cage. I surrounded him with earthworks,
and made it unthinkable for him to exit by the
city gate. His cities which I had despoiled I cut off
from his land and gave them to Mitinti, king of
Ashdod, Padi, king of Ekron and Silli-bel, king of
Gaza, and thus diminished his land. I imposed
dues and gifts for my lordship upon him, in addition
to the former tribute, their yearly payment.

He, Hezekiah, was overwhelmed by the awesome
splendor of my lordship, and he sent me after my
departure to Nineveh, my royal city, his elite
troops (and) his best soldiers, which he had brought
in as reinforcements to strengthen Jerusalem, with
30 talents of gold, 800 talents of silver, choice
antimony, large blocks of carnelian, beds (inlaid)
with ivory, armchairs (inlaid) with ivory, elephant
hides, ivory, ebony-wood, boxwood,n multicolored
garments, garments of linen, wool (dyed) redpurple
and blue-purple, vessels of copper, iron,
bronze and tin, chariots, siege shields, lances,
armor, daggers for the belt, bows and arrows,
countless trappings and implements of war, together
with his daughters, his palace women, his male
and female singers. He (also) dispatched his
messenger to deliver the tribute and to do obeisance.
(The Sennacherib Prism, trans. COS II 2.119B, M. Coogan)

Except for the number of spoil (which is probably exaggerated), the story seems a LOT more plausible than the Biblical account and does not rely on any miracles. In fact, if one were to choose, this would be the obvious winner. But we still might be better off looking to find a happy medium between the Biblical and Assyrian accounts.

We have plenty of archaeological evidence for Sennacherib's other conquests in Judah, so we know that he was indeed ravaging Judah. That Judah would eventually capitulate and pay tribute seems very likely, and both sides avoid expending more troops and resources than necessary. One has to remember that the Biblical account was written a long time after the actual siege.


For a very good and accessible look at this entire story and the archaeological evidence, see Finkelstein and Silberman's The Bible Unearthed (The Free Press, 2001) and the chapter devoted to it. Or just do a web search and try to avoid apologetic websites. There is a lot of information available out there, much of it difficult to access, but much of it freely available. There are entire books written on the subject, in fact.

Personally, I think it is clear that no miracle occurred as such. Did a plague run rampant through the Assyrians? Maybe. Did the Assyrians save face? Maybe. Did the Assyrians siege the city and receive tribute? PROBABLY. The later history of Judah seems to point to this, with Manasseh's reign, and the Bible hid such important historical events as Jehu's tribute to Assyria - for which we have archaeological evidence for.
I agree wholeheartedly with AREQUIPA. Good work, whoppers.

I'd be more inclined to trust the Assyrian account, not so much because they are more reputable but simply because Biblical accounts tend to be rife with mythicism and legend and outlandish miracles.

185,000 troops massacred supernaturally in one night and word doesn't get around the whole known world???? Come on!!
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Old 07-17-2014, 11:22 AM
Status: "...We are closing in..." (set 9 days ago)
 
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Yes, of course, both sides are going to put the best face on what seems to have given neither what they really wanted. As I recall, vassal states were not occupied but were left alone so long as they kicked in their tribute. if they were part of an empire, there would be an Assyrian governor and then, yes, one might expect some Assyrian stuff. Come to think of it...

Yes, Sennacherib left two accounts of how he dealt with Hezikiah. One on the Taylor prism found in Mesopotamia and now in the British musem, and the Jerusalem prism. Now in the Israel museum and, for some reason so much less well known than the Taylor artefact, that I couldn't even confirm that the account was the same on both prisms.

Last edited by TRANSPONDER; 07-17-2014 at 11:32 AM..
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Old 07-17-2014, 02:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thrillobyte View Post
No, I don't discount the Assyrian account, though it is at total odds with the Jewish account. I think there'd be some historical evidence of Sennacherib actually occupying Jerusalem, even if he did get the tribute from Hezekiah, to teach other vassals around him what happens when you mess with him. That he'd go to all the trouble to mass his troops outside Jerusalem and then march away without at least sacking it makes no sense.



Both.
Why would you make a vassal state, exact tribute and then sack it? You keep the infrastructure intact... he had alteady taught the lesson in the other cities, which no doubt made the siege a short one.

And there is no evidence for the occupation, which shouldn't surprise us, since there's no textual information to suggest he did.
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Old 07-17-2014, 02:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
Good work, Whoppers. I should have done it myself, but I was a bit busy.

Oh, btw you will be pleased to know that the Lachish murals are here in London, in the British Museum. Let me know when you arrive and we'll have a look together.
Thank you, and you are so lucky! If I ever make it there, I would love to!
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Old 07-17-2014, 02:45 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thrillobyte View Post
I agree wholeheartedly with AREQUIPA. Good work, whoppers.

I'd be more inclined to trust the Assyrian account, not so much because they are more reputable but simply because Biblical accounts tend to be rife with mythicism and legend and outlandish miracles.

185,000 troops massacred supernaturally in one night and word doesn't get around the whole known world???? Come on!!
Thanks.

It does seem to make a bit more historical sense. And the scribe resisted the urge to invoke any gods heh heh! What does that say of Sennacherib's pride?


Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
Yes, of course, both sides are going to put the best face on what seems to have given neither what they really wanted. As I recall, vassal states were not occupied but were left alone so long as they kicked in their tribute. if they were part of an empire, there would be an Assyrian governor and then, yes, one might expect some Assyrian stuff. Come to think of it...

Yes, Sennacherib left two accounts of how he dealt with Hezikiah. One on the Taylor prism found in Mesopotamia and now in the British musem, and the Jerusalem prism. Now in the Israel museum and, for some reason so much less well known than the Taylor artefact, that I couldn't even confirm that the account was the same on both prisms.
The Taylor Prism is in your museum as well, but there are two other prisms with basically the same text in Israel and America. It does indeed talk about the campaign. I shall have to check this out when I have some more time.

There is further information in the "Azekah Inscription", at least about a possible campaign of Sennacherib (still debated, see below) (Azekah Inscription - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). It doesn't directly bear on Jerusalem, but perhaps on events leading up to it.

Here's the text of it, once again from Mordechai Coogan and COS II (2.119D). This time he does mention the god of Assyria:
1-2 (scattered signs)
3 [ Ashur, my lord, supported me and to the land of Judah I marched. In] the course of my
campaign, the tribute of the kings of ... I received].
4 [ by the mig]ht (?) of Ashur, my lord, the district [of Hezek]iah of Judah, like [ ]
5 [ ] the city of Azekah," his stronghold, which is between my [ ] and the land of Judah [ ]
6 [ ] located on a mountain peak, like countless pointed ir[on] daggers, reaching to high heaven
7 [ ] were strong and rivaled the highest mountains; at its sight, as if from the sky [ ]
8 [by packed-down ra]mps, and applying mighty (?) battering rams, infantry attacks by min[es ]
9 [ the approach of my cav]alry they saw, and heard the sound of Ashur's mighty troops and
they were afraid [ ]
10 [ I besieged (?)] I conquered, I carried off its spoil. I tore down, I destroyed [ ]
11 [ the city X] a royal [city] of the Philistines, which He[zek]iah had taken and fortified for
himself [ ]
12 [ ] (scattered signs) [ ] like a tree [ ]
13 [ ] surrounded by great t[o]wers, most difficult [ ]
14 [ ] a palace, like a mountain, was barred in from of them, high [ ]
15 [ ] it was dark, and the sun never shone on it, its waters were located in dar[kn]ess, its outflow [ ]
16[ ] its mouth (?)] was cut with axes and a moat was dug around it [ ]
17 [ soldiers] skilled in battle, he stationed in it, he girded his weapons, in order to [ ]
18 [ ] I had the people of Amurru, all of them, carry earth [ ]
19 [ against them. For a third time, [ ] great, like a pot [I smashed ]
20 [ cattle and sh]eep, from its midst I t[ook out, and as] spo[il I counted.]
21 (illegible signs)
The dating is still debated (704 BC during Sennacherib's campaign or during Sargon's reign (712, maybe earlier) - but it is still interesting.

Arequipa - you have all the good stuff over there ha ha!
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Old 07-17-2014, 02:57 PM
Status: "...We are closing in..." (set 9 days ago)
 
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Loot of a 19th c empire . Layard walked off with most of the Assyrian collection. you'll love it. I'm a regular visitor.

Now, comparing the texts might show whether the three prisms agree. if so, one has to ask how, if Sennacherib slunk off 'tail between legs' after having half his army wiped out overnight, he prevailed on Hezekiah to put on display a prism recounting how he was obliged to pay tribute and become a vassal state. it looks as though the archeology suggests that Hezekiah was indeed sieged out and had to come to terms.

Which puts the Biblical account in a dubious light.
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Old 07-17-2014, 04:13 PM
 
Location: City-Data Forum
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If their god Yahweh (making claims to be the true El, Zeus, Allah, Vishnu) had any honor it would have materialized the tribute money or educated the Assyrians instead of supposedly leaving 150,000 bodies for the criminal Jerusalem (refused to pay the tribute under the peace accords) to clean up. More likely some underhanded political stuff happened (weak government payed the Assyrians off) and they had to cover it up with "magic from our Lord, the greatest Lord from any city."
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Old 07-17-2014, 04:19 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thrillobyte View Post
I'm critical of a lot of Jewish Old Testament stories, calling them myths--but one story that cannot be explained historically is Sennacherib suddenly withdrawing from his siege of Jerusalem just as he seemed to have it within his grasp.
I think I'm going to file this away for when people ask me why there's no proof that the Book of Mormon cultures actually existed.

Okay... back on topic.
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Old 07-17-2014, 06:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katzpur View Post
I think I'm going to file this away for when people ask me why there's no proof that the Book of Mormon cultures actually existed. [/color]

Okay... back on topic.
Oh, the Book of Mormon exists all right. I saw it at the Pantages Theater last week. Funnier than the devil.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVJgmp2Tc2s
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Old 07-17-2014, 10:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thrillobyte View Post
I find it difficult to believe that Sennacherib would suddenly pull out of a campaign on the word of Jewish sage whose religion he didn't even believe in. As for advisors of his own we can only speculate as there is no evidence such advise was given. Add to that the fact that Sennacherib was determined to capture Jerusalem and make it an example lest all the other cities paying him tribute follow Jerusalem's example. All indications are that that Sennacherib would not let anything short of a catastrophe pull him away from taking Jerusalem.



Natural explanations are the thing historians look for first, but there just aren't any natural causes that could wipe out 185,000 men in one night. Wikipedia proffers no explanation other than the theories I mentioned.

Was this just a case of the Jewish sages propagandizing the strength of their god, Yahweh over the Assyrians. It seems to be a fact that the Assyrian empire was never the same afterwards and that shortly afterwards the Babylonian empire took center stage and finally accomplished what the Assyrians could not.

The Jews' explanation for God defeating the Assyrians but not the Babylonians? God had had enough of the Jews awhorin' after other gods so He allowed His people to fall to the Babylonians. Is Jeremiah's prophecy of 70 years captivity accurate or was it written after the fact? Like so much of the New Testament we'll never know.
Wikipedia must have been edited, because now it cites the Assyrians saying they left because they were paid off by Hezekiah.
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