Ancient Near East - Sennacherib

Updated: Jul 19


During the reign of Sargon II, Sennacherib had effectively maintained the administration of the empire while his father was away on military campaigns. Sargon II trusted his son to handle the daily affairs of the state, but did not think highly of him as a man or future king. He must have openly shared this opinion with others. When Sennacherib came to the throne, the provinces quickly rebelled. As mentioned in the previous episode, Sennacherib seems to have regarded his father with similar disdain.

Shortly after Sennacherib came to the throne, Merodach-Baladan returned to Babylon at the head of an army comprised of his tribesman and Elamite warriors, assassinated the sitting ruler of the city, and again took the throne. Sennacherib had not endeared himself to the Babylonians, and had further insulted them by not visiting the city or acknowledging the chief god Marduk as the god of Babylon after he became king. The Babylonians, therefore, welcomed the arrival of Merodach-Baladan and felt they had nothing to fear from the new Assyrian king. Their confidence was strengthened, in 703 B.C., when Sennacherib sent an army, led by his commander-in-chief, to drive the invaders out of Babylon and restore Assyrian rule. This army was swiftly defeated by the combined forces of the Elamites, Chaldeans, and Aramaeans. But the Babylonians would soon realize they underestimated this new Assyrian king.