se-nak'-er-ib (cancheribh; Sennachereim, Assyrian Sin-akhierba, "the moon-god Sin has increased the brothers"): Sennacherib (704-682 BC) ascended the throne of Assyria after the death of his father Sargon. Appreciating the fact that Babylon would be difficult to control, instead of endeavoring to conciliate the people he ignored them. The Babylonians, being indignant, crowned a man of humble origin, Marduk-zakir-shum by name. He ruled only a month, having been driven out by the irrepressible Merodach-baladan, who again appeared on the scene.
In order to fortify himself against Assyria the latter sent an embassy to Hezekiah, apparently for the purpose of inspiring the West to rebel against Assyria (2Ki 20:12-19).
Sennacherib in his first campaign marched into Babylonia. He found Merodach-baladan entrenched at Kish, about 9 miles from Babylon, and defeated him; after which he entered the gates of Babylon, which had been thrown open to him. He placed a Babylonian, named Bel-ibni, on the throne.
This campaign was followed by an invasion of the country of the Cassites and Iasubigalleans. In his third campaign he directed his attention to the West, where the people had become restless under the Assyrian yoke. Hezekiah had been victorious over the Philistines (2Ki 18:8). In preparation to withstand a siege, Hezekiah had built a conduit to bring water within the city walls (2Ki 20:20). Although strongly opposed by the prophet Isaiah, gifts were sent to Egypt, whence assistance was promised (Isa 30:1-4). Apparently also the Phoenicians and Philistines, who had been sore pressed by Assyria, had made provision to resist Assyria. The first move was at Ekron, where the Assyrian governor Padi was put into chains and sent to Hezekiah at Jerusalem.
Sennacherib, in 701 BC, moved against the cities in the West. He ravaged the environs of Tyre, but made no attempt to take the city, as he was without a naval force. After Elulaeus the king of Sidon fled, the city surrendered without a battle, and Ethbaal was appointed king. Numerous cities at once sent presents to the king of Assyria. Ashkelon and other cities were taken. The forces of Egypt were routed at Eltekeh, and Ekron was destroyed. He claims to have conquered 46 strongholds of Hezekiah's territory, but he did not capture Jerusalem, for concerning the king he said, in his annals, "himself like a bird in a cage in Jerusalem, his royal city, I penned him." He states, also, how he reduced his territory, and how Hezekiah sent to him 30 talents of gold and 800 talents of silver, besides hostages.
The Biblical account of this invasion is found in 2Ki 18:13 through 2Ki 19:37; Isa 36:1-22; 37:1-38. The Assyrian account differs considerably from it; but at the same time it corroborates it in many details. One of the striking parallels is the exact amount of gold which Hezekiah sent to the Assyrian king (see The Expository Times,XII , 225,405;XIII , 326).
In the following year Sennacherib returned to Babylonia to put down a rebellion by Bal-ibni and Merodach-baladan. The former was sent to Assyria, and the latter soon afterward died. Ashurnadin-shum, the son of Sennacherib, was then crowned king of Babylon. A campaign into Cilicia and Cappadocia followed.
In 694 BC Sennacherib attacked the Elamites, who were in league with the Babylonians. In revenge, the Elamites invaded Babylonia and carried off Ashur-nadin-shum to Elam, and made Nergalushezib king of Babylon. He was later captured and in turn carried off to Assyria. In 691 BC Sennacherib again directed his attention to the South, and at Khalute fought with the combined forces. Two years later he took Babylon, and razed it to the ground.
In 681 BC Sennacherib was murdered by his two sons (2Ki 19:37; see SHAREZER). Esar-haddon their younger brother, who was at the time conducting a campaign against Ararat, was declared king in his stead.
A. T. Clay