|Colossal winged bull (lamassu) from Dur-Sharrukin|
Trustees of the British Museum
In the year that the commander in chief, who was sent by Sargon the king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought against it and captured it—2 at that time the Lord spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take off your sandals from your feet,” and he did so, walking naked and barefoot… And the inhabitants of this coastland will say in that day, ‘Behold, this is what has happened to those in whom we hoped and to whom we fled for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria! And we, how shall we escape?’ (Isaiah 20:1-2, 6 ESV).Until the end of the 19th century many scholars did not believe that Sargon, mentioned in the Bible (Isa 20:1), was a real historical character. They claim the biblical writers mistakenly wrote Sargon for one of the other Assyrian kings. As Holloway points out:
Prior to the excavation of Khorsabad and the identification of its builder with Sargon, early nineteenth-century biblical exegetes tended to be puzzled by the obscure Sargon... Although a handful of biblical exegetes would remain agnostic regarding Sargon’s independent existence, the Louvre exhibits from the “French Nineveh” and translations of the Khorsabad inscriptions signaled a complete victory for Sargon (II) as a textbook entity by the 1860’s.1.
Between 1842 and 1944, the French archaeologist Paul-Emile Botta, excavated the Palace of Sargon II at Dur-Sharrukin (“the fortress of Sargon,” modern Khorsabad) and discovered the two colossal winged bulls (lamassu) (710-705 BC) with inscriptions. 2. However, because of their size the French abandoned them at the site and in 1849 the British archaeologist Sir Henry Rawlinson bought them and solved the problem of their size (16 tons) by cutting them into pieces for easy transport back to the British Museum. King Sargon’s achievements and titles are inscribed in a detailed cuneiform inscription that resides between the legs of the winged bull. The inscription also described Sargon’s capture of Samaria (Isa 20:6) and the destruction of Ashdod in 711 BC (room 14). The Sargon prism inscription states:
25 [The inhabitants of Sa]merina, who 28) agreed 25) with a king 26 [hostile (?) to ] me, not to endure servitude 27 [and not to br]ing tribute 28 [to Ashur (?)], did battle. 29 [Wit]h the power of the great gods, my [lord]s 30 [aga]inst them I foug[ht]. 31 7,280 people, together with [their] chariots, 32 and the gods, in which they trusted, as spoil 33 I counted. With 200 chariots for [my] royal force 34 from them I formed a unit. 35 The rest of them 36 I settled in the midst of Assyria. 37 I repopulated Samerina more than before. 38 People from countries, conquered by my hands, 39 I brought in it. My commissioner 40 I appointed as Governor over them. 41 I counted them as Assyrians. (Nimrud Prism IV 25-41 [Becking]) 3.Although the Bible records Shalmaneser as the Assyrian king when the siege began, Sargon may well have been the ruling king when Samaria fell to the Assyrians. 4.
- 1. Holloway, Steven W. “The Quest for Sargon, Pul and Tiglath-Pileser in the Nineteenth Century.” in Mesopotamia and the Bible. Edited by Mark W. Chavalas (London: A&C Black, 2003), 69-71; J. G. Eichhorn, Einleitung in des Alte Testament, IV 4th ed. (Gottingen: Rosenbusch, 1924): 387-89.
- 2. Paul Emile Botta and Eugene Flandin, Monument de Ninive, in 5 volumes, Imprimerie nationale, 1946-1950.
- 3. Bob Becking, The Fall of Samaria: An Historical and Archaeological Study (SHANE, 2: Leiden: Brill, 1992), 29-30; C. J. Gadd, “Inscribed Prisms of Sargon II from Nimrud,” Iraq 16 (1954): 173-201, Pl. xliv-li.
- 4. For a discussion of the chronological and historical difficulties see Bob Becking, The Fall of Samaria: An Historical and Archaeological Study (SHANE, 2: Leiden: Brill, 1992), 30-32.
- Albenda, Pauline. The Palace of Sargon, King of Assyria: Monumental Wall Reliefs at Dur-Sharrukin, from Original Drawings Made at the Time of Their Discovery in 1843-1844 by Botta and Flandin. Paris, France: Editions Recherche sur les civilisations, 1986.
- Becking, Bob. The Fall of Samaria: An Historical and Archaeological Study. SHANE, 2: Leiden: Brill, 1992.
- Bonomi, Joseph. Ninevah and Its Palaces: The Discoveries of Botta and Layard, Applied to the Elucidation of Holy Writ, Bohn, 1957; Reprint, Piscataway, N.J.: Gorgias Press, 2003.
- Caubet, A. Khorsabad: le palais de Sargon II, roi d'Assyrie: Actes du colloque organisé au musée du Louvre par le Services culturel les 21 et 22 janvier 1994, La Documentation française, 1996, ISBN 2-11-003416-5
- Collon, D. Ancient Near Eastern Art. London: The British Museum Press, 1995.
- Fant, Clyde E., and Mitchell Glenn Reddish. Lost Treasures of the Bible: Understanding the Bible Through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museums. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2008, 138-39.
- Franklin, N. “The Room V Reliefs at Dur-Sharrukin and Sargon II’s Western Campaigns.” Tel Aviv 21 (1994): 255-75.
- Fuchs, Andreas. Die Inschriften Sargons II. aus Khorsabad, Cuvillier, 1994.
- Gadd, C. J. “Inscribed Prisms of Sargon II from Nimrud,” Iraq 16 (1954): 173-201, Pl. xliv-li.
- Holloway, Steven W. “The Quest for Sargon, Pul and Tiglath-Pileser in the Nineteenth Century.” Pages 68-87 in Mesopotamia and the Bible. Mark W. Chavalas, ed. London: A&C Black, 2003.
- Loud, Gordon. Khorsabad, Pt. 1: Excavations in the Palace and at a City Gate. Vol 38. Oriental Institute Publications, 1936.
- Loud, Gordon; Altman, C. B. Khorsabad, Pt. 2: The Citadel and the Town. Vol. 40. Oriental Institute Publications, 1938.
- Poebel, Arno. “The Assyrian King-List from Khorsabad,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 1, No. 3 (July 1942): 247-306.
- Poebel, Arno. “The Assyrian King List from Khorsabad (Continued).” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 1, no. 4 (1942): 460–492.
- Reade, J. E. Assyrian sculpture-1. London: The British Museum Press, 1998.