We Hear You -- By: Editors

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 28:4 (Fall 2015)
Article: We Hear You
Author: Editors

We Hear You


Kings List Obelisk That Excludes Sargon?

I am researching the discovery of Sargon’s palace. The book, Bible Believer’s Archaeology: Volume 2: The Search For Truth by John Argubright, says on page 74 that the University of Chicago “made a bold statement that they had found a glaring contradiction in the Bible” after they found an obelisk that excluded Sargon in its king list. Do you know (1) What obelisk this is and (2) Where I can verify the accuracy of this statement by the University of Chicago?

Elizabeth N.

A Response By ABR Staff Member, Rick Lanser:

I did not know the answer to your question, and decided to spend a bit of time researching it. Unfortunately, books written for a popular audience tend to leave out references backing up certain claims, which seems to be the case with the book you mentioned. Not even the specific Scripture reference was given, Isaiah 20:1: “In the year that the commander in chief, who was sent by Sargon the king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought against it and captured it...” And the notes at the end of the article at http://www.biblehistory.net/newsletter/sargon.htm, which gives an excerpt from the Bible Believers Archaeology book, are for supportive information about Sargon, with no apparent mention of whatever the University of Chicago was citing against Sargon.

According to http://www.bible–history.com/black–obelisk/ assyria–kings.html, the Sargon referred to in Isaiah was Sargon II, the son of Shalmaneser V and father of Sennacherib. He ruled Assyria from 722–705 BC. Sargon’s palace was discovered by Paul Emile Botta at Khorsabad around 1843 (different references give slightly different dates), so any reports claiming a problem with Isaiah 20:1 had to have been earlier than this. The only earlier archaeological investigations that might have a bearing on this seem to be those of Claude James Rich, who did some early work at Babylon in 1811, and later work around Mosul in 1820, where he tried (and failed) to identify Nineveh.

Your book refers to an obelisk, but a search for Assyrian obelisks was not helpful. It turned up the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, discovered at Nimrud (Calah) in 1846 by A.H. Layard. Dating to 858–824 BC, it was too early to have discussed Sargon II, and reports the deeds of Shalmaneser III rather than presenting a list of Assyrian kings. Another obelisk, the White Obelisk of Ashurnasirpal I, was found by Layard’s successor Hormuzd Rassam in 1853 at Nineveh. Wikipedia notes that the White Obelisk “is one of only two intact obelisks to survive from the Assyrian empire, the other being ...

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