The Invasion Of Sennacherib -- By: Kemper Fullerton

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 063:252 (Oct 1906)
Article: The Invasion Of Sennacherib
Author: Kemper Fullerton


The Invasion Of Sennacherib

Prof. Kemper Fullerton.

[The great length of Professor Fullerton’s very able and scholarly article interferes somewhat with the variety desirable in the make-up of the present Number. But the danger of his position’s being misunderstood at the conclusion of the first half of the discussion, and the desirability of massing the Notes at the end of the article, render it unwise to divide it, especially as this is the end of the volume.— The Editor.]

Two recent monographs upon Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah1 remind us, in their widely divergent views, that the problems which cluster about this Assyrian Waterloo still wait for an authoritative solution. But was it a Waterloo? First impressions have always the disadvantage of immaturity. On the other hand, they may reflect the self-evident facts of a passage more accurately because they were not as yet blurred by a mass of subordinate details. May I be permitted to sum up the impressions which a first study of the biblical and Assyrio-logical material bearing upon the question just asked has made, and offer a suggestion or two, which may have a bearing upon the ultimate answer? Whether or not the suggestions will commend themselves, it is at least worth while to attempt a more precise formulation of the problems involved than has been done, so far as I know, by our English and American writers.

I. The first impression made upon me is not a pleasant one. It is that the biblical narrative of Sennacherib’s invasion in its present form is unintelligible and self-contradictory (I use unqualified language to correspond with the definiteness of the impression). According to 2 Kings 18:13–16, Sennacherib overran the territory of Judah, and captured all the fortified cities. Hezekiah, in consequence of the straits to which he was reduced, sent his capitulation to the Assyrian monarch at Lachish, confessed his “sin,” 2 and offered to pay any fine the Great King might see fit in his clemency to impose, provided the Great King would depart from him. The Great King saw fit to impose such a heavy fine that the poor sinner was compelled to strip the temple in order to pay it.

According to 18:17–19:37, Sennacherib sent an expedition under his leading general or generals3 against Hezekiah to demand his surrender. The Rab-shakeh, who acts as spokesman, impersonates all the arrogance of the greatest military power ...

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