Sennacherib, king of Assyria from 704 to 681 B.C., who gained the double throne of Assyria and Babylonia after the death of his father Sargon II, during a campaign on the northern frontiers.

Much of his reign was marked by conflicts on all three fronts of the empire. He did little at the beginning of his reign to assert dominance over Babylon, and already in 703 an upstart named Marduk-zakir-shummi II took the throne from the long-reigning Marduk-apla-iddina II (the Merodach-Baladan of the Bible). The latter threw off his allegiance to Assyria and began inciting revolt in Palestine and among other nomadic tribes. Marduk-apla-iddina II was soon defeated, crushed in battle together with his Elamite allies at Cutha, but the revolt, though too late to save him, came nonetheless.

The story is told from the Hebrew perspective in 2 Kings 18-19. as usual, we would have a very strange perspective of history if we relied on the Bible as our only source. The expedition against Hezekiah was rather minor, and most likely ended when the Hebrew tribute was paid. The story is told more memorably in the poem The Destruction of Sennacherib of Lord Byron.

The wars against Babylonia apparently ended with the defeat of its allies in Elam and the destruction of Babylon in 689. Apparently, the Elamites deserted the Chaldean defenders, and the city was sacked and pillaged, systematically burned, and the rubble thrown in the Euphrates. He engineered a diversion of the waters, and flooded the city. When he left, he took with him the ancient statue of Marduk, effectively ending for a time Babylon's cultural supremacy in Mesopotamia.

Internally, Sennacherib seems to have made many improvements, developing infrastructure especially in his capital, Nineveh. Tablets record temple and palace improvements and roads straightened and made wider, assigning the death penalty (by impalement) to anyone encroaching on the roads by housing construction. Tablets also attest some of the earliest records of coinage and minting.

Most of our records of his reign are written as chronicles of battles and administrative documents. These are usually written in Standard Babylonian, but with a heavy poetic style and liberal depictions of the king as a pious hero and saviour, apparently intended to be read in court or for the king himself.

After 689 B.C., Sennacherib's reign seems to have been relatively peaceful. He was finally murdered in 681 by his sons (named Adramelech and Sharezer in the Bible) in a revolt, and succeeded soon after by his own son Esarhaddon.

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