[Copyright by W. R. HARPER, 1887.]
PREPARED BY PROFESSORS W. R. HARPER (Yale University), W. G. BALLANTINE (Oberlin Theol. Sem.), WILLIS J. BEECHER (Auburn Theol. Sem.), and G. S. BURROUGHS (Amherst College).
Twenty-Seventh and Twenty-Eighth Studies (In One).—Hezekiah's Reign.
[The material of this "study " is furnished by Professors Beecher. It is edited by Professor Harper.]
I. BIBLICAL LESSON.
Prepare for recitation 2 Kgs. 18-20; 2 Chron. 29-32, with parallel passages, in the order of the following topics:
1. Hezekiah's Accession Year. The first of his twenty-nine years:
2. His First Year (not counted as in 2 Kgs., but beginning the new year after his accession-the fifth of Hoshea).
3. Certain Important Questions,
4. Hezekiah's Prosperity.
5. Up to Hezekiah's Fourth Year, 2 Kgs. 17:4; the king of Assyria imprisons Hoshea, for refusing tribute, etc. (Cf. what is said of Sargon, twenty-sixth " study.")
6. Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Years of Hezekiah. 2 Kgs. 17; 18:9-12, the siege and overthrow of Samaria.
7. Sargon's Expedition to Ashdod, B. C. 711, Isa. 20. (1) Have the three years, Isa. 20:3, any chronological significance? (2) What have Egypt and Ethiopia to do with the expedition against Ashdod? Vs. 3-6.
8. The Assyrian Invasion in Hezekiah's Fourteenth Year, 2 Kgs. 18:13-16; Isa. 36:1. At this time,
9. Hezekiah's Illness, 2 Kgs. 20:1-11; Isa. 38.
10. Hezekiah and Merodach-baladan, 2 Kgs. 20:12-19; Isa. 39.
11. Sennacherib's Great Invasion.
13. The Prophets of the Period. See Isa. 1:1, etc.; Mic. 1:1, with Jer. 26:18 and Mic. 3:12; N ahum the historical situation. Gather items from these books to fill out the history, and consider whether the rebukes to prevalent wickedness, as found in these books, are contradictory to what the historical books say of the goodness of Hezekiah, so as to prove the historical books to be untrue.
II. ASSYRIAN SYNCHRONISMS.
The records of Sargon and Sennacherib are full, and present many points of contact with the Bible history. From such sources as are at your command, verify and fill out the following points, and also those given below, in the treatment of the chronology of the period. These are only a few among many possible points:
1. Sargon reigned, counting from his accession year, B. C. 722-705, and was succeeded by his son Sennacherib, 705-681.
2. In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, by any possible adjustment of the chronology, Sargon was king of Assyria. Is it incredible, however, that Sennacherib may that year have led an expedition into Judah? Or that the Bible historian might then call him king, anticipatively?
3. Sennacherib is a braggart. The son of a usurper, he boasts the exploits of his ancestors, 2 Kgs. 19:12. In his records, he claims to have taken tribute from kings who were dead before he was born, Menahem of Samaria, for example. But his account of the campaign against Hezekiah, several copies of which are extant, is presumably correct in most particulars. He says that Hezekiah had interfered in Philistine affairs, and was holding Padi, the king of Ekron, favored by Assyria, a prisoner. Sennacherib made his approach along the Mediterranean coast. He captured Joppa, Beneberak, and Beth-dagon. Then, apparently, he marched south, leaving Ekron to his left, and received the submission of Ashkelon. This accounts for his being at Lachish (2 Kgs. 18:17) when he sent his officers, "with a heavy force," against Jerusalem.
4. Sennacherib says nothing about being at Lachish or Libnah, but mentions a great battle with the kings of Egypt and Meroe (cf. 2 Kgs. 18:24; 19:9), near Altaku-apparently Eltekon, near Timnah, Josh. 15:59-nearly midway between Lachish and Jerusalem, but a few miles west of the direct line between them. Apparently, the Ethiopian king was marching to the relief of Jerusalem. Sennacherib was obliged to concentrate his forces for a great battle. He left Lachish, and invested Libnah, a few miles further north; his officers, with the army that had been sent against Jerusalem, joined him there, 2 Kgs. 19:8,9.
5. Hezekiah, of course, was expecting the approach of his allies. He had long been preparing for the crisis that was upon him; but the movements of the Assyrian had been too prompt, and, the Egyptian forces not having come up, there was no adequate strength for carrying out his plans, 2 Kgs. 19:3.
6. Sennacherib says that he defeated the Egyptians decisively, then besieged and captured Atalku and Timnah, then turned to the west and sacked Ekron, bringing Padi out of Jerusalem, and putting him again on the throne of Ekron, then took by siege forty-six strong cities of Judah, and a multitude of lesser cities, taking as part of the spoil 200,150 people of both sexes and all ages. Compare this with 2 Kgs. 18:32; 19:30,31,29. He says something not very intelligible about shutting up Hezekiah in Jerusalem, and says that he gave many of Hezekiah's cities to the kings of Ashdod, Ekron, and Gaza, and that Hezekiah sent after him to Nineveh, making his submission, and paying tribute. The following year his energies were devoted to overthrowing Merodach-baladan once more. How do these statements agree with 2 Kgs. 19:29? With 19:32? With 19:7,28,33,36?
7. Is it consistent with the two accounts to hold that the Assyrian army remained in Judah, after the Rabshakeh withdrew from Jerusalem, long enough to interrupt agriculture that year and the next; that Sennacherib was fighting to accomplish the deportation of the Jews; that they resisted, compelling him to take city by city, until he was forced by the disturbances in Babylonia, and perhaps by other causes, to return suddenly to his capital; that he then granted Hezekiah terms, which were accepted? With this view of the case, the tribute which Sennacherib says he laid upon Hezekiah is a different fact from that mentioned in 2 Kgs. 18:13-16; and his account of his capturing the cities of Judah is of a different capture from the one there described; do you find conclusive objections to this?
8. Some scholars insist upon the translation "wind" or "blast," in 2 Kgs. 19:7, and think the agent of destruction was a simoon, and look for traces of the event in the traditions of Egypt and the desert. But if any event mentioned elsewhere in history is to be identified with this, the mountain storm which broke up Sennacherib's seventh expedition, and drove him back to Nineveh, C. B. 697, has a claim that should be considered.
9. From the references given, or other information within reach, verify the following statements concerning Babylonia, and Merodach-baladan:
10. Trace the history of Merodach-baladan in the records of Tiglath-pileser, Ass. Disc. pp. 256.19; 260.26,27, and context, and in the records of Sargon and Sennacherib. How many times did Sargon and Sennacherib find it necessary completely to overthrow Merodach-baladan? Do you believe that his account of these overthrows, if we had it, would entirely agree with theirs?
11. From all you can learn, how much of a power was Babylonia, in the period we are studying? What light does your study of these matters throw upon Isa. 39? Does the fact that a passage in the book of Isaiah speaks of Babylon as a great power, or speaks of a king of Babylon as a great conqueror or oppressor, prove the passage to have been written some generations later than the times of Isaiah, the son of Amoz? Look through the book of Isaiah for passages that mention Babylon, Elam, or the Medes, and decide which belong to these times, and which to the times of Cyrus of Persia.
III. THE CHRONOLOGY.
Solve the following problem in arithmetic: The year that is counted the first year of Cyrus is the year beginning with the spring equinox, B. C. 538. According to the Canon of Ptolemy, which is now generally accepted as correct, and which lies at the basis of all the Assyrian dates, as commonly given, this year was preceded by the seventeen years of Nabonidus, the four years of Neriglissar, the two years of Evil-merodach, and the forty-three years of Nebuchadnezzar. What was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar? You will, of course, reach the answer 604 B. C. But this date is given in the margins of our standard Bibles, Jer. 25:1, etc., as 606 B. C., and this excess of two years is carried all the way back, in the marginal chronology.
Applying this correction, the sixth year of Hezekiah, the year of the downfall of Samaria, was, by the biblical chronology, the year beginning with the spring equinox, 719 B. C., and not 721. The Hebrew text, Josephus, and the Septuagint variously describe this as the sixth year, the seventh year, and the end of the sixth year; this last expression reconciles the other two, and doubtless gives what the biblical writer regarded as the exact fact. Samaria fell at the close of the natural year 719 B. C.; that is, if we count the year from the first of January, in March, 718 B. C. To make this agree with the Assyrian dates, we must hold, as we have seen in the twenty-sixth "study," that Sargon's account of the siege and capture of the city, in the beginning of his reign, is either an account of a preliminary event, occurring 722 B. C., or else a general account of events belonging to the early years of Sargon.
The biblical date here given might, without violence, be either increased or diminished by one, by different ways of counting the two years of Amon, 2 Kgs. 21:19. Beginning a little way back, and following the most natural interpretation of the biblical dates, we have the following:
All Dates B. C.
1) Points in the promise of deliverance: (a) "He shall hear a rumor," 19:7; he heard the rumor of Tirhakah's approach, and, as his inscriptions show, other rumors after that, demanding his presence elsewhere; (b) "shall return to his own land," 7; return the way he came, 28,33,36; (c) shall not besiege Jerusalem, 32,33; (d) the withdrawal of the Assyrian forces will permit agriculture to be resumed " the third year," 29; (e) Judah that escapes will be a weak " remnant," 30,31; (f) Sennacherib will fall by the sword, 7; (g) (perhaps) " I will give, in his case, a wind," 7.
2) "That night," 2 Kgs. 19:35, is commonly assumed to be the night after Isaiah gave the message; but this assumption cannot be correct; for, according to v. 29, the country was not to be free for agriculture till the third year. 2 Kgs. 19:36,37 and 2 Chron. 32:21 might easily be understood to mean that he was assassinated on his return from Palestine; but they do not expressly say that; and the Assyrian records place his death many years after that of Hezekiah. The historian means to be understood that the death of the 185,000 occurred "in that night" in which Jehovah fulfilled his threat; he says nothing as to the time, or the place, or the physical agency by which the destruction was accomplished, but he speaks of it as a familiarly known historical fact.
3) This invasion is not dated in the Bible. It is very different from that in Hezekiah's four. teenth year, 2 Kgs. 18:13-16; Isa. 36:1. The apparent continuity of the narrative, though the events are different, is a thing not foreign to biblical style. In the invasion of the fourteenth year there appears to have been no desperate resistance, and no great weakening of the power of Judah; in the second invasion, the resistance appears to have been determined, Judah being reduced to a remnant, and that remnant threatened with deportation, 19:30-32. Sennacherib's date for it is 701 B. C.