Three Kings in One Verse -- By: Michael J. Caba

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 24:2 (Spring 2011)
Article: Three Kings in One Verse
Author: Michael J. Caba

Three Kings in One Verse

Michael J. Caba

A Treasure Trove

For those interested in finding connections between biblical passages and the world of archaeology, it would be difficult to find a verse with a greater ratio of treasures to words than the short text found in 2 Kings 19:9. The verse reads, “Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the Cushite king of Egypt, was marching out to fight against him. So he again sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word.”1 The next verse finishes the thought expressed in our subject verse, but for brevity’s sake we read no further lest we be overwhelmed by an abundance of riches. As can be seen, three rulers are mentioned in this brief statement; moreover, from this seemingly minor hub, archaeological spokes radiate literally around the globe. Indeed, when structures still existing in the field are combined with artifacts now located in museums, the archaeological footprint with connections to this passage can be identified on at least four continents, and in an even larger number of countries. As a result, instead of searching to find resonance between this verse and the “real world,” the greater chore in an article exploring this text is to decide which artifacts to leave out. For our purposes, I have focused on one major archaeological discovery per king. In addition, for readers who are also travelers, the three discoveries selected for examination can be readily explored or visited, one of them in the heartland of the United States itself.

Michael Caba

Map of the Ancient Near East.

The Kings Go To War

Our passage is set in 701 BC with the first of the three kings, the Assyrian ruler Sennacherib, marauding through the land of Israel.2 Having taken over the throne in 704 BC at the death of his father—the mighty warrior Sargon II—Sennacherib found it necessary to subdue rebellious vassal states throughout the Assyrian empire, including Phoenician, Philistine and Israelite areas along the shores of the eastern Mediterranean (Fant and Reddish 2008: 158-60). Further to the south, the second of our three combatants, the Cushite/Egyptian Tirhakah,3 watched with concern as Assyria crept ever closer. In the eight century BC the kingdom of Cush,4 to the south of traditional Egyptian lands (i.e. south of the first cataract), had managed to gain con...

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