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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 239

Fortunately for Ahaz he had a wise counsellor at this time in the great statesman and prophet, the scholarly Isaiah. The Lord spake by Isaiah saying, "Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. And the Lord said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia; so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners.... And they (the allies) shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory."[527]

Isaiah warned Ahaz against joining the league, "in the year that Tartan[528] came unto Ashdod (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him)". The Tartan "fought against Ashdod and took it".[529] According to Sargon's record the Pretender of Ashdod fled to Arabia, where he was seized by an Arabian chief and delivered up to Assyria. The pro-Egyptian party in Palestine went under a cloud for a period thereafter.

Before Sargon could deal with Merodach Baladan of Babylon, he found it necessary to pursue the arduous task of breaking up a powerful league which had been formed against him in the north. The Syro-Cappadocian Hittite states, including Tabal in Asia Minor and Carchemish in north Syria, were combining for the last time against Assyria, supported by Mita (Midas), king of the Muski-Phrygians, and Rusas, son of Sharduris III, king of Urartu.

Urartu had recovered somewhat from the disasters which it had suffered at the hands of Tiglath-pileser, and was winning back portions of its lost territory on the north-east frontier of Assyria. A buffer state had been formed in that area by Tiglath-pileser, who had assisted the king of the Mannai to weld together the hill tribesmen between Lake Van and Lake Urmia into an organized nation. Iranzu, its ruler, remained faithful to Assyria and consequently became involved in war with Rusas of Urartu, who either captured or won over several cities of the Mannai. Iranzu was succeeded by his son Aza, and this king was so pronounced a pro-Assyrian that his pro-Urartian subjects assassinated him and set on the throne Bagdatti of Umildish.

Soon after Sargon began his operations in the north he captured Bagdatti and had him skinned alive. The flag of revolt, however, was kept flying by his brother, Ullusunu, but ere long this ambitious man found it prudent to submit to Sargon on condition that he would retain the throne as a faithful Assyrian vassal. His sudden change of policy appears to have been due to the steady advance of the Median tribes into the territory of the Mannai. Sargon conducted a vigorous and successful campaign against the raiders, and extended Ullusunu's area of control.

The way was now clear to Urartu. In 714 B.C. Sargon attacked the revolting king of Zikirtu, who was supported by an army led by Rusas, his overlord. A fierce battle was fought in which the Assyrians achieved a great victory. King Rusas fled, and when he found that the Assyrians pressed home their triumph by laying waste the country before them, he committed suicide, according to the Assyrian records, although those of Urartu indicate that he subsequently took part in the struggle against Sargon. The Armenian peoples were compelled to acknowledge the suzerainty of Assyria, and the conqueror received gifts from various tribes between Lake Van and the Caspian Sea, and along the frontiers from Lake Van towards the south-east as far as the borders of Elam.


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