Amos, Part 4 - Christogenea on Talkshoe 02-22-2013

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The Prophecy of Amos, Part 4 - Christogenea on Talkshoe 2-22-2013

In closing the last part of this presentation on Amos, we discussed some of the historical evidence of the ancient kingdom of Israel. Early in that presentation we had seen the attestation of the text of the ancient Moabite Stone. In it we see the tribe of Gad mentioned explicitly, connected to the “king of Israel”, and in some of the same locations that the Hebrew Bible also places them.

Where the Moabite Stone says “Now the men of Gad had al­ways dwelt in the land of Ataroth, and the king of Israel had built Ataroth for them”, it agrees with the Biblical Book of Numbers at chapter 32, verses 1 through 4. This same inscription also mentions the Israelite king Omri, as the Assyrian inscriptions also often do. The Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian inscriptions verify the historicity of many things in the Bible, which we shall see as this presentation unfolds. To imagine that all of the inscriptions attesting to the historicity of the Bible are somehow spurious is ridiculous. There is no doubting the veracity of a great number of these inscriptions, for the accounts concerning their discoveries are well recorded.. The people that made such inscriptions were pagans, and had nothing extraneous to gain by them, and could not have imagined that over 2,500 years later these things would be dug out of the ground and found to verify the accounts in an unrelated book which was to be passed down over so many centuries.

Before proceeding, we should review the historical evidences of the Bible which were offered at the end of the last segment of this series on Amos. These evidences were taken from two notable Greek historians of the century preceding Christ, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo. While these men, being pagan Greek writers, may not have thought about the Old Testament writings as we Christians do today, they certainly accepted the historicity of what those writings contain.

The Greek historian of the first century BC, Diodorus Siculus, mentioned Moses as a historical figure, and the Exodus as a historical event. He also accounted Moses as a founder of cities (Library of History, 40.3.3-8). He explained that Moses was a law-giver, and compared him to other famous ancient law-givers, such as the Cretan Minos, the Spartan Lycurgus, Zalmoxis of the Getae, the Egyptian Sasychia, and the Persian Zarathustra (Library of History, 1.94.2). Now while he considered some of the laws attributed to Moses to be barbaric [or misanthropic] and even xenophobic [or actually misoxenic, which is hostile to strangers], he nonetheless fully accepted their historicity (Library of History, 34/35.1.3), and from multiple historical sources of his own.

What is also evident, is that Diodorus Siculus accepted the Exodus account as a significant part in the greater story of the founding of what we would call Western Civilization. Diodorus quoted from the earlier historian Hecataeus of Abdera, the Greek historian and skeptic philosopher of the 4th century BC, who gave a strange account of the Israelite Exodus from an ostensibly Egyptian viewpoint, where he says that “the aliens were driven from the country, and the most outstanding and active among them banded together and, as some say, were cast ashore in Greece and certain other regions; their leaders were notable men, chief among them being Danaus and Cadmus. But the greater number were driven into what is now called Judaea ... The colony was headed by a man called Moses, outstanding both for his wisdom and for his courage” (Library of History, 40.3.1-3).

Strabo, another Greek historian, considered Moses to be a historical figure, wrote about him at length, and described him as being a pious and devout founder of a civil society in Judaea, centered around Jerusalem (Geography, 16.2.35-37). Like Diodorus Siculus, Strabo also counted Moses among those of his own list of esteemed prophets, law-givers and philosophers whom he attributed with the beginnings of what we would again call Western Civilization, where he listed him notably among those of the Romans, Greeks, Assyrians, Persians, Getae and others (Geography, 16.2.39).

Surely, the Greeks considering themselves to be a generally quite blond and fair people, neither Diodorus Siculus nor Strabo could have possibly thought of Moses or the people of Judaea or of Mesopotamia to have been brown-skinned aliens, especially since the people of the Exodus (as both Danaus the Egyptian and Cadmus the Phoenician were accounted by Diodorus Siculus) were explicitly esteemed to have been the forebears or even the founders of much of the civilization of the Greeks! Greek writers from the time of the 7th century BC Epic Poets on down wrote of Danaus the Egyptian, whom they imagined to be the eponymous ancestor of the Danai (Hebrew Daniy), or Danaans, of early Greek history and the Trojan Wars. They also wrote often of Cadmus the Phoenician, who is credited with bringing both arts and letters to Greece. These things were never questioned among all of the early Greek poets and historians.

At this point in the prophecy of Amos we shall see the oracles which the prophet uttered against both Israel and Judah. We have already discussed the prophecies concerning the Edomites, Syrians, Philistines, Moabites and Ammonites and certain of their cities, as well as the prophecy against the Tyrians, and presented much of what can be seen of the contemporary history of those places from ancient Assyrian inscriptions. Although they are often concise, they are certainly first-hand historical accounts. This helps to demonstrate that the Biblical account of the history of this period certainly is true, and also to show that these prophecies indeed had the beginning of their fulfillment in the years subsequent to the time of the prophet.

4 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked: 5 But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.

While throughout the books of the prophets there are many oracles against Israel and Judah for their many transgressions, here is a similar prophecy from Hosea 8:14: “For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples [the Israelites went off into paganism, and were pagans wherever they are found in their ancient dispersions]; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.”

We have an account of the beginnings of the fulfillment of this oracle against Judah at 2 Kings 18:13-16: “13 Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them. 14 And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house. 16 At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.”

The ancient city of Lachish was taken by the Israelites and fell to the tribe of Judah in the division of the land of Canaan, which is evident in Joshua chapter 15. While the Assyrians indeed took and destroyed 46 fenced cities of Judah, Lachish was not destroyed by the Assyrians. Sennacherib had laid a siege against Lachish, which is recorded in 2 Chronicles 32:9, but, as it is evident in the passage from 2 Kings chapter 18 and also from Isaiah chapters 36 and 37, the Assyrians acquired control of Lachish and used it as a base of operations for their conquest of the rest of Judah. It is also evident in 2 Kings 19:8 that the Assyrians departed from Lachish, leaving the city intact. Lachish was besieged again over a hundred years by the Babylonians, in the time of Jeremiah, and we read in Jeremiah 34:7: “When the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish, and against Azekah: for these defenced cities remained of the cities of Judah.” The cities Lachish and Azekah are mentioned again in the Persian period, in Nehemiah 11:30, where from the context of that chapter it seems that Lachish was not populated, but repopulated, with Judahites.

In order to gain some insight into the historicity of the accounts of the taking of Judah and the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians, we are going to examine the Lachish Ostraca (Greek: ὄστρακονostrakon, plural ὄστρακα ostraka). These are pieces of pottery (or stone), usually from a broken vase or other earthenware vessel, which were used for the recording of certain events or to keep certain temporary records or correspondence, which were scratched into them with an instrument. They are an ancient example of materials recycling, and their use was very common. In Athens they were used for voting, and since they were used by the citizens in votes determining the exile of men fallen from favor, from that we get the English words ostracize and ostracism. The use of ostraca for such purposes goes back at least as early as 2000 BC in ancient Egypt.

The provenance of the Lachish Ostraca, sometimes also known as the Lachish Letters, are well known, their authenticity is not questioned, and the findings again help to establish that the narrative concerning the history of Lachish as presented by the Bible is indeed accurate, and that Israelite worshippers of Yahweh dwelt there up to the time of the Babylonian sieges upon the remnants of Judah left by the Assyrians. The following is the text of the Lachish Ostraca, from Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, James Pritchard, ed., Princeton University Press, 1969, pp. 321-322:

The Lachish Ostraca

These ostraca were discovered in the ruins of the latest Israelite occupation at Tell ed-Duweir in southern Palestine, which unquestionably represents biblical Lachish. The first 18 were found by the late J. L. Starkey in 1935; three more (making 21 in all) were added during a supplementary campaign [meaning an archaeological campaign] in 1938. Most of the ostraca were letters, while others were lists of names, etc., but only a third of the documents are preserved well enough to be reasonably intelligible throughout. Nearly all of the ostraca come from the latest occupation level of the Israelite gate-tower, and they are generally placed im­mediately before the beginning of the Chaldean siege of Lachish, perhaps in the autumn of 589 (or 588) B.C. Since they form the only known corpus of documents in classical Hebrew prose, they have unusual philological significance, quite aside from the light which they shed on the time of Jeremiah.

The texts were published by Harry Torczyner of the Hebrew University in The Lachish Letters (Lachish I), (London, 1938), and Te'udot Lakhish (Jerusalem, 1940). There is a large scattered bibliography, for which see Torczyner's second pub­lication, pp. viii-x, and BASOR, 82, p. 18. Among the more useful items will be found Albright, BASOR, 61, pp. 10-16; 70, pp. 11-17; 73, pp. 16-21; 82, pp. 18-24; H. L. Ginsberg, BASOR, 71, pp. 24-26; 80, pp. 10-13; Roland de Vaux, RB, 1939, pp. 181-206; S. Birnbaum, PEQ, 1939, pp. 20-28, 91-110; Winton Thomas, Journal of Theological Studies, 40, pp. 1-15. For a mise-au-point of interpretation and bibliography see D. Diringer, in Olga Tufnell, Lachish III-The Iron Age (Oxford, 1953), pp. 331-339.

Lachish Ostracon II

To my lord Yaosh: May Yahweh cause my lord to hear tidings of peace this very day, this very day! Who is thy servant (but) a dog that my lord hath remem­bered his servant? May Yahweh afflict those who re[port] an (evil) rumor about which thou art not informed!

Lachish Ostracon III

Thy servant Hoshaiah hath sent to inform my lord Yaosh: May Yahweh cause my lord to hear tidings of peace! And now thou hast sent a letter, but my lord did not enlighten thy servant concerning the letter which thou didst send to thy servant yesterday evening, though the heart of thy servant hath been sick since thou didst write to thy servant. And as for what my lord said, “Dost thou not understand ? - call a scribe !”, as Yahweh liveth no one hath ever undertaken to call a scribe for me; and as for any scribe who might have come to me, truly I did not call him nor would I give anything at all for him! [Would not pay him. - WRF]

And it hath been reported to thy servant, saying, “The commander of the host, Coniah son of Elnathan, hath come down in order to go into Egypt; and unto Hodaviah son of Ahijah and his men hath he sent to obtain ... from him."

And as for the letter of Tobiah, servant of the king, which came to Shallum son of Jaddua through the prophet, saying, “Beware!”, thy servant hath sent it to my lord.

[This seems to refer to certain events recorded in Jeremiah chapter 36. Several of these names are also found in Jeremiah at this very time. In Jeremiah chapter 22 there is a grandson of Josiah king of Judah, the son of Jehoiakim, named Coniah, and also a son of Josiah named Shallum. There is another Shallum, whose wife was a prophetess, mentioned at 2 Chronicles 34:22, who also may be the Shallum of Jeremiah 32:7. - WRF]

Lachish Ostracon IV

May Yahweh cause my lord to hear this very day tidings of good! And now according to everything that my lord hath written, so hath thy servant done;

I have written on the door according to all that my lord hath written to me. And with respect to what my lord hath written about the matter of Beth-haraphid, there is no one there.

And as for Semachiah, Shemaiah hath taken him and hath brought him up to the city. And as for thy servant, I am not sending anyone thither [today(?), but I will send] tomorrow morning.

And let (my lord) know that we are watching for the signals of Lachish, according to all the indications which my lord hath given, for we cannot see Azekah.

Lachish Ostracon V

May Yahweh cause my lord to hear [tidings of peace] and good [this very day, this very day!] Who is thy servant (but) a dog that thou hast sent to thy servant the [letters ... Now] thy servant hath returned the letters to my lord. May Yahweh cause thee to see [ ... ]. How can thy servant benefit or injure the king?

Lachish Ostracon VI

To my lord Yaosh: May Yahweh cause my lord to see this season in good health! Who is thy servant (but) a dog that my lord hath sent the [let]ter of the king and the letters of the prince[s, say]ing, "Pray, read them!" And behold the words of the pr[inces] are not good, (but) to weaken our hands [and to sla]cken the hands of the m[en] who are informed about them [... And now] my lord, wilt thou not write to them, saying, “Why do ye thus [even] in Jerusalem? Behold unto the king and unto [his house] are ye doing this thing!” [And,] as Yahweh thy God liveth, truly since thy servant read the letters there hath been no [peace] for [thy ser]vant ....

Lachish Ostracon VIII

May Yahweh cause my lord to hear tidings of good this very day! [ ... ]. The Lord hath humbled me before thee. Nedabiah hath fled to the mountains [ ... ]. Truly I lie not-let my lord send thither!

Lachish Ostracon IX

May Yahweh cause my lord to hear [tidings] of peace! [ ... ] let him send [ ... ] fifteen [ ... ]. Return word to thy servant through Shelemiah (telling us) what we shall do tomorrow!

Lachish Ostracon XIII

... they did not wish to do (any) work ... and Semachiah ....

In addition to demonstrating the historicity of the Biblical accounts, the Lachish Ostraca show that the attitudes concerning religion reflected in the Bible at that very time had also existed among the people.

Archaeologists generally date the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib to about 701 BC. It may have been as early as 715 BC. There are a lot of problems with dating in this period. The following is from Isaiah chapter 36: “1 Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them. 2 And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field. 3 Then came forth unto him Eliakim, Hilkiah's son, which was over the house, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, Asaph's son, the recorder. 4 And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? 5 I say, sayest thou, (but they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for war: now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? 6 Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. [In the July/August 2002 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, on page 42, are described authentic seal impressions found in and around Jerusalem which are known by their wording to have belonged to Hezekiah and they contain depictions of Egyptian scarabs. These certainly seem to be an indication of Hezekiah’s attempt to ally himself with Egypt as a political defense against the Assyrians. - WRF] 7 But if thou say to me, We trust in the LORD our God: is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and said to Judah and to Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar? 8 Now therefore give pledges [hostages], I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them. [In other words, if he can indeed muster a cavalry troop.] 9 How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master's servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 10 And am I now come up without the LORD against this land to destroy it? the LORD said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it. 11 Then said Eliakim and Shebna and Joah unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, unto thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and speak not to us in the Judahite language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall. 12 But Rabshakeh said, Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? 13 Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Judahite language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria. 14 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you. 15 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. [It must be noted, that here Rabshakeh very impiously challenged Yahweh, and for that reason were the Assyrians destroyed, not merely for Judah’s benefit.] 16 Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me: and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern; 17 Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The LORD will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim? and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 20 Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? 21 But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not. 22 Then came Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, that was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.” The outcome of the subsequent siege of Jerusalem was not quite what the Assyrians had expected, for they failed to take the city.

From the inscriptions of Sennacherib III, who presumably ruled Assyria from 704 to 681 BC. I say inscriptions because there are two ancient and important inscriptions which contain what are referred to as the Annals of Sennacherib, the more famous is called the Taylor Prism, and there is another called the Oriental Institute Prism:

As to Hezekiah, the Judahite, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities, walled forts and to the countless small villages in their vicinity, and conquered (them) by means of well-stamped (earth-)ramps, and battering rams brought (thus) near (to the walls) (combined with) the attack by foot-soldiers, (using) mines, breeches as well as sapper work. I drove out (of them) 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting, and considered (them) booty. Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem. His royal residence, like a bird in a cage. I surrounded him with earthwork in order to molest those who were leaving his city's gate. His towns which I had plundered, I took away from his country and gave them (over) to Mitinti, king of Ashdod, Padi, king of Ekron, and Sillibel, king of Gaza. [This supports the earlier contention in this series that the Philistines assisted the Assyrians in this campaign. - WRF] Thus I reduced his country, but I still increased the tribute and the katrû-presents (due) to me (as his) overlord which I imposed (later) upon him beyond the former tribute, to be delivered annually. Hezekiah himself, whom the terror-inspiring splendor of my lordship had overwhelmed and whose irregular and elite troops which he had brought into Jerusalem, his royal residence, in order to strengthen (it), had deserted him, did send me, later, to Nineveh, my lordly city, together with 30 talents of gold, 800 talents of silver, precious stones, antimony, large cuts of red stone, couches (inlaid) with ivory, nîmedu-chairs (inlaid) with ivory, elephant-hides, ebony-wood, box-wood (and) all kinds of valuable treasures, his (own) daughters, concubines, male and female musicians. In order to deliver the tribute and to do obeisance as a slave he sent his (personal) messenger.” (ANET, p. 288).

Click the icon for a PDF file containing pages 287-288 of Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, J. Pritchard, editor, Princeton University Press, 1969.  It contains translations of inscriptions of the Assyrian king Sennacherib describing his siege of Jerusalem, his capture of the fenced cities of Judah, the deportation of the Judahites, and his boast that Hezekiah was left locked up in the city “like a bird in a cage”.  The boast, masking the failed siege of the city, is a good and early example of what we today would call political "spin".

Jerusalem was able to withstand a long siege because the city had a reliable source of water, which was not discovered or cut off by the Assyrians. We see this described briefly at 2 Chronicles 32:30, where it says in the Bible's usual abbreviated manner: “This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.”

[Click here for a clip containing a short video about Warren's Shaft and Hezekiah's tunnel. The tunnel was built so that Jerusalem would have a water supply and be able to withstand a prolonged siege.]

Hezekiah had a 540-meter long tunnel cut through the bedrock in order to bring water from the Gihon spring directly into the city of Jerusalem. All scientific testing of this tunnel agrees with the Biblical account. The tunnel was re-discovered in 1838 by the American biblical scholar Edward Robinson, and can be walked through today from end to end. Part of this tunnel is today called Warren’s Shaft. This shaft, re-discovered by Charles Warren in the late 1800’s, is a mostly vertical tunnel running from inside the city of Jerusalem down to a place near the Gihon Spring. David used this shaft to conquer the Jebusites who were the previous occupants of Jerusalem. Poorly translated in the King James Version, here is the NAS version of 2 Samuel 5:6-9: “6 Now the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, and they said to David, 'You shall not come in here, but the blind and lame shall turn you away'; thinking, 'David cannot enter here.' 7 Nevertheless, David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the city of David. 8 And David said on that day, 'Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him reach the lame and the blind, who are hated by David's soul, through the water tunnel.' Therefore they say, 'The blind or the lame shall not come into the house.' 9 So David lived in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. And David built all around from the Millo and inward.” With this understanding, we can see that Hezekiah merely improved upon and better concealed the same ancient source of water which the Jebusites had relied upon, and which David had perceived as a weak point, thus allowing him to take the city from them.

The failure of the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem, from Isaiah chapter 37: “1 And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it [meaning the message of Rabshakeh], that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD. 2 And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. 3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. [Blasphemy is a bad translation, the word is Strong's Hebrew # 5007 ne'atsah, and means scorn or provocation.] 4 It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left [found]. 5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. 6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour [another unfortunate translation, the word is Strong's Hebrew # 8052, shemuw'ah, and also means a report], and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. 8 So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish. [Lachish and Libnah are cities of Judah southwest of Jerusalem, for which see Joshua 15:39 and 15:42.] 9 And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia [Hebrew: Cush], He is come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden [From Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon: “5729 עדן' Eden {eh'-den} Meaning: Eden = "pleasure" 1) a place conquered by Assyria; probably located in the northwest of Mesopotamia”. Yet “idunn” in Akkadian inscriptions was simply a word which referred to the steppe in general. I would read this here “children of the steppe” and not those of any particular country or nation.] which were in Telassar? [Strong’s #8515, seems to mean “Assyrian hill” or “Hill of Asshur”.] 13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? 14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying, 16 O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth. 17 Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God. 18 Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, 19 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. 20 Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only. 21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria: 22 This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him [Sennacherib]; The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee. 23 Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel. 24 By thy servants hast thou reproached the Lord, and hast said, By the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon; and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of his Carmel. 25 I have digged, and drunk water; and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of the besieged places. 26 Hast thou not heard long ago, how I have done it; and of ancient times, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps. 27 Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded: they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up. 28 But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me. 29 Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult, is come up into mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest. 30 And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof. 31 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward: 32 For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this. 33 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. 35 For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. 36 Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. 38 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.”

The text at verse 30 indicates that the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem would last several years, where Yahweh says in reference to Sennacherib that “Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof.” This substantiates the need for Hezekiah's water tunnel. With the destruction of the Assyrian army and the failure of the siege, the life of the kingdom of Judah was extended for approximately 120 years. The destruction of the Assyrian army was also the fulfillment of Yahweh's promise at Isaiah 31:5, where He says “As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.” While the Zionist acolytes of British Israel look to General Allenby's victory in Jerusalem in 1917 as a fulfillment of Isaiah 31:5, that is only wishful thinking designed to support the wayward British love of the children of Satan. The truth is that the promise of deliverance in Isaiah 31:5 is given in the context of the judgement about to come upon Judah and Jerusalem at the hand of the Assyrians, and here at the end of Isaiah chapter 37 we see that promise fulfilled.

So there are two records of the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem. The Biblical record, that of the Israelites, has the siege ending in the miraculous destruction of much of the Assyrian army, and the subsequent withdrawal by Sennacherib saves the city. However in the Assyrian record, Sennacherib boasts that Hezekiah is left shut up in his capital city “ like a bird in a cage”. No king besieges a city without counting on taking it. The Assyrian record proclaims a victory from a failed siege. By that alone, it is evident as to which of the two records represents a major early example of what we today would consider to be political “spin”.

While there are no surviving Babylonian records of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, various miscellaneous inscriptions found in Babylon do support the Biblical account of certain of its circumstances. Jehoiachin was the next-to-last king of Judah. He was very young when he ascended, and remained but a short time before the Babylonians took him captive and put Zedekiah his brother in his place. This is found at 2 Chronicles 36:9-10: “9 Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. 10 And when the year was expired, king Nebuchadnezzar sent, and brought him to Babylon, with the goodly vessels of the house of the LORD, and made Zedekiah his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem.” Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, lasted only about eleven years when all of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians, and much of the city's population and the outlying remnant of Judah was carried off into Babylonian captivity, circa 586 BC.

From Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, p. 308, from a section containing historical documents from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, we see proof of Jehoiachin's presence in captivity in Babylon, among other things:

(c) Varia

(I) From administrative documents found in Babylon, some information concerning the fate of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, can be gathered. Text and translation: E. F. Weidner, Jojachin, Konig von Juda, in babylonischen Keilschrifttexten (Mélanges syriens offerts: à Monsieur René Dussaud, II [Paris, 1939], 923- 935), has published a small group of texts excavated by the German expedition in Babylon and dating from the 10th to the 35th year of Nebuchadnezzar II. The tablets list deliveries of oil for the subsistence of individuals who are either prisoners of war or otherwise dependent upon the royal household. They are identified by name, profession, and/or nationality. The two tablets, so far published, also mention, beside Judeans, in­habitants of Ashkelon, Tyre, Byblos, Arvad, and, further, Egyp­tians, Medeans, Persians, Lydians, and Greeks.

(text Babylon 28122, obverse 29-33)

... t[o?] la-'-ú-kin, king ...

to the qîpūtu-house of …

... for Shalamiamu, the ...

... for 126 men from Tyre .

... for Zabiria, the Ly[dian] ...

(text Babylon 28178, obverse ii 38-40)

10 (sila of oil) to ... [la]-'-kin, king of Ia[ ... ]

2 1/2 sila (oil) to [ ... so]ns of the king of Judah (Ia-a-hu-du)

4 sila to 8 men from Judah (emelIa-a-hu-da-a-a) ...

(text Babylon 28186, reverse ii 13-18)

1 1/2 sila (oil) for 3 carpenters from Arvad, 1 1/2 sila each

11 1/2 sila for 8 ditto from Byblos, 1 sila each ...

3 1/2 sila for 7 ditto, Greeks, 1/2 sila each

1/2 sila to Nabû-êtir the carpenter

10 (sila) to Ia-ku-ú-ki-nu, the son of the king of Ia-­ku-du (i.e. Judah)

2 1/2 sila for the 5 sons of the king of Judah (Ia-ku-du) through Qana'a [ ... ]

(2) From a fragmentary historical text (BrM 78-10-15, 22, 37, and 38), published (last publication) by N. Strassmaier, Nbk. No. 329. cf. also, H. Winckler, Altorientalische Forschungen (Leipzig, 1897), pp. 511 ff. (“Pittakos?”). Translation: Zehn­pfund-Langdon, in VAB, IV, 206 f.


... [in] the 37th year, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Bab[ylon] mar[ched against] Egypt (Mi-şir) to deliver a battle. [A ma]sis (text: [ ... ]-a(?)-su), of Egypt, [called up his a ]rm[y] ... [ ... ]ku from the town Puţu-Iaman ... distant regions which (are situated on islands) amidst the sea ... many ... which/who (are) in Egypt ... [car]rying weapons, horses and [char­iot]s ... he called up to assist him and ... did [ ... ] in front of him ... he put his trust ... (only the first signs at the beginning and the end of the following 7 or 8 lines are legible).

There is a pseudo-academic persuasion commonly identified as the School of Biblical Minimalists. These men, most of them Jews, get paid large salaries to sit in universities and nay-say the Bible. One of their primary contentions is that the Kingdom of David and Solomon never existed. They offer the idea that some scribe named Ezra invented the ancient kingdoms in an endeavor to give the various tribes in Palestine a reason to unite under a common identity. First, all of that is absolutely contrary to the very words of Ezra himself, who obviously sought to isolate his own tribe from its neighbors. However much worse, it is all nothing but a collection of obvious lies. From the Greek records of Strabo and Diodorus, to the Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions dug out of the ground nearly 2500 years after the fact, we can see that the people of Moses and the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judaea indeed existed, and that, with a few exceptions where books were added surreptitiously, the Bible as we know it is a totally reliable historical book.