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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 246

In the north the Cimmerians and Scythians, who were constantly warring against Urartu, and against each other, had spread themselves westward and east. Esarhaddon drove Cimmerian invaders out of Cappadocia, and they swamped Phrygia.

The Scythian peril on the north-east frontier was, however, of more pronounced character. The fierce mountaineers had allied themselves with Median tribes and overrun the buffer State of the Mannai. Both Urartu and Assyria were sufferers from the brigandage of these allies. Esarhaddon's generals, however, were able to deal with the situation, and one of the notable results of the pacification of the north-eastern area was the conclusion of an alliance with Urartu.

The most serious situation with which the emperor had to deal was in the west. The King of Sidon, who had been so greatly favoured by Sennacherib, had espoused the Egyptian cause. He allied himself with the King of Cilicia, who, however, was unable to help him much. Sidon was besieged and captured; the royal allies escaped, but a few years later were caught and beheaded. The famous seaport was destroyed, and its vast treasures deported to Assyria (about 676 B.C). Esarhaddon replaced it by a new city called Kar-Esarhaddon, which formed the nucleus of the new Sidon.

It is believed that Judah and other disaffected States were dealt with about this time. Manasseh had succeeded Hezekiah at Jerusalem when but a boy of twelve years. He appears to have come under the influence of heathen teachers.

For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.... And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever.[539]

Isaiah ceased to prophesy after Manasseh came to the throne. According to Rabbinic traditions he was seized by his enemies and enclosed in the hollow trunk of a tree, which was sawn through. Other orthodox teachers appear to have been slain also. "Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another."[540] It is possible that there is a reference to Isaiah's fate in an early Christian lament regarding the persecutions of the faithful: "Others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword".[541] There is no Assyrian evidence regarding the captivity of Manasseh. "Wherefore the Lord brought upon them (the people of Judah) the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom."[542] It was, however, in keeping with the policy of Esarhaddon to deal in this manner with an erring vassal. The Assyrian records include Manasseh of Judah (MenasĂȘ of the city of Yaudu) with the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, Ashdod, Gaza, Byblos, &c, and "twenty-two kings of Khatti" as payers of tribute to Esarhaddon, their overlord. Hazael of Arabia was conciliated by having restored to him his gods which Sennacherib had carried away.


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