Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bonus 53 - Lachish Reliefs

Flaming arrows are fired at the city gate at Lachish during the siege
with the Jewish captives being led out of the conquered Judean.
Time is depicted as static as the captives would have been taken
away after the battle of Lachish.
Photo by David E. Graves. Trustees of the British Museum.

The only inscription which identifies the Lachish depicted in the reliefs reads:
“Sennacherib, the mighty king, king of the country of Assyria, sitting on the
throne of judgment, before (or at the entrance of) the city of Lachish (Lakhisha).
I give permission for its slaughter.” Austen H. Layard, Discoveries Among the
Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon
(New York: Harper & Sons, 1853), 128.
Photo by David E. Graves. Trustees of the British Museum.

Artist recreation of the siege of Lachish based
on the reliefs now displayed in the British Museum.
Photo by David E. Graves
Trustees of the British Museum.
The Lachish reliefs are a group of stone reliefs carved in the walls (12 m. wide and 5.10 m. long) of the Palace of Sennacherib (704-681 BC) that depict the Assyrian victory over the kingdom of  Judah in the siege of Lachish (701 BC) one of Judah’s major cities. The Palace of Sennacherib was discovered by Austen Henry Layard between 1845-1847 and is today displayed in the British Museum (Room 10b).1.   The Bible mentions the siege of Lachish and that Hezekiah offered to pay tribute to Sennacherib to prevent the siege of Jerusalem (2 Kgs 18:13-16).

Following the siege of Lachish, Jerusalem was to be next, however the prophet Isaiah stated:
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, 22 this is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him: …“Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. 35 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 37 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. (Isa 37:21, 33-36).
  • 1. David Ussishkin, “The ‘Lachish Reliefs’ and the City of Lachish.” Israel Exploration Journal 30 (1980): 174-95.
For Further Study
  • Grabbe, Lester. Like a Bird in a Cage: The Invasion of Sennacherib in 701 BCE. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003.
  • Graves, David E. Lachish Bibliography LINK
  • Paul, Evans. The Invasion of Sennacherib in the Book of Kings: A Source-Critical and Rhetorical Study of 2 Kings 18-19. IDC Publisher, 2009.
  • Israel, Finkelstein The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel: Invited Lectures Delivered at the Sixth Biennial Colloquium. Society of Biblical literature, 2007.
  • Layard, Austen H. Discoveries Among the  Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon. New York: Harper & Sons, 1853.
  • Ussishkin, David. “The ‘Lachish Reliefs’ and the City of Lachish.” Israel Exploration Journal 30 (1980): 174-95.

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