After King Solomon’s death his son and successor, King Rehoboam, refused to lessen the heavy tax burden his father had imposed on the people of Palestine. This forced the ten tribes that occupied the northern half of the kingdom to separate from the southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin). Their northern kingdom, known as Israel, would last for 200 years until the Assyrians conquered it and carried off its peoples in 722 B.C., erasing the northern nation of Israel from history.
Meanwhile, after this split in 922, the southern kingdom, Judah, endured until 587 B.C., before it was destroyed by the armies of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, and its survivors were enslaved and deported to Babylon. We’re concerned with a period of time in between the split of Israel and Judah, and their eventual subjugation.
2 Kings 18:13, and 2 Chronicles 32, describes a military campaign conducted by King Sennacherib of Assyria in Palestine. He conquered Samaria, the northern kingdom capitol then turned his ambitions to the areas in Philistia and points inside Judah itself.
One fortified city that fell to him was Lachish, about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem. It was situated at the site of modern Tell ed-Duweir, between Mount Hebron and the maritime plain of Philistia. The city’s fortified walls were stormed, the people defeated, tortured and exiled by Sennacherib1. Evidence, outside the Holy Bible, has been found that supports this incident.
British archeologist Sir Austen Henry Layard (1814-1894), digging in ancient Assyria at the site of Sennacherib’s palace discovered a 90 foot long mural that today sits at the British Royal Museum. It shows the Assyrian soldiers storming the walls of Lachish, the treatment of their captives, and also gives details of the fortifications of Lachish. Even the battering rams and the siege ramp the invaders used are shown in the relief2.
Other evidence has been discovered of King Sennacherib’s military campaign of Israel and Judah. The Sennacherib Prism is a monument that verifies the eventual Assyrian attack on Jerusalem. However, the outcome of it is not cited; giving evidence to the biblical claim that God intervened by sending an angel to kill 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in a nighttime attack3. Assyrians, as many other ancient peoples never record or mention military defeats.
Once again archaeology verifies the existence of persons, places, and events described in the Holy Bible.
- 2 Chronicles 32:9.
- David Ussishkin, Answers in Lachish, Biblical Archaeology Review 5:6 (November/December 1979).
- 2 Kings 19:35.