Esar-Haddon

ESAR-HADDON ē’ sər hăd’ ən (אֵֽסַר־חַדֹּ֥ן, [from Akkad. Aššur-aẖ-iddin] Ashur has given a brother). King of Assyria 681-669 b.c.

1. Sources. The principal events of this reign are listed in the Babylonian Chronicle, the Esarhaddon Chronicle for the years 681-667 b.c., and numerous royal inscrs. Copies of his treaties with Tyre and Medean vassals have been recovered. The OT names him as son and successor to Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:37; Isa 37:38). Some would identify him with the “great and noble Osnappar” of Ezra 4:10 (see Ashurbanipal).

2. Family. Sennacherib was murdered by one or more of his sons (see Anammelech ADRAMMELECH] and [[Sharezer]) in Tebet 681 b.c. (2 Kings 19:36, 37; 2 Chron 32:21; Isa 37:37, 38). This may have been in revenge for having nominated Esar-haddon, whose name implies that he was not the eldest son of the Aramean wife of Sennacherib, Naqiya-Zakutu, as crown prince. The wife of Esar-haddon (d. 673 b.c.) bore him twin sons, Ashurbanipal and Shamash-shumukin, whom in May 672 he had designated respectively crown prince of Assyria and of Babylonia, doubtless in the hope of avoiding internecine struggle similar to that experienced at his own accession. A daughter he gave in marriage to the Scythian chief Bartatua.

3. Rule. Esar-haddon’s first task was to rally popular support, pursue the rebels into the mountains to the N, and execute the nobles who had aided them in Nineveh. This led to further operations to keep the northern trade routes open and to check the incursions of the Cimmerian tribesmen (679). In the E, the Medean chiefs were tamed by frequent raids and the imposition of vassal treaties watched over by local Assyrian garrisons. Further S, the Elamites continued to stir up the Babylonian tribes. Esar-haddon raided their territory and deported prisoners to other sites (Ezra 4:9, 10). With clever diplomacy he installed Na’id-Marduk of Bīt-Yakin, a son of the rebel Merodach-baladan, as local governor and secured long and loyal support. Esar-haddon was now free to devote his attention to Egypt, which was the source of intrigue within the Syrian and Palestinian city-states. He raided the Bit-Eden area (cf. Isa 37:12) and the Arabs (676 b.c.). Sidon was besieged and a treaty made with Ba’al of Tyre. Tribute was received from thirteen kings of the E Mediterranean islands and coast and twelve kings of the mainland including Tyre, Sidon, Edom, Moab, Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gebal, Ashdod, Beth-Ammon as well as Manasseh (Akkad. Menasi) of Judah. There is as yet no mention in the Assyrian texts of Manasseh’s deportation to Babylon (2 Chron 33:11), though Esar-haddon, who had been viceroy there while crown prince, was then engaged in reconstruction of the city after its sack by his father and may have called in tributaries to help. An 8th cent. letter found at Nineveh records “10 mana of silver sent by the men of Judah” about this time. The terms imposed by Esar-haddon on his vassals, including Manasseh, are known from texts found at Nimrud. They had to assent to Ashur as their god and to teach obedience to him and Assyria to their children. Any deviation fr om the terms was punished by the threat of invasion and deportation. It is not surprising that the prophets and historians considered his reign as more than unusually evil (2 Kings 21:9).

In 675/4, Esar-haddon sent two expeditions against Egypt itself, having taken the city of Arzani on the border some years before and neutralized Tyre by siege works and made conciliations with the tribes of N. Arabia. Tirhakah (2 Kings 19:9) retreated to Nubia and Memphis fell. Assyrian control of the delta was by means of puppet governors. The first campaign ended by the Assyrians withdrawing with much loot “before a great storm.” Soon, however, local intrigue at Nineveh must have encouraged Tirhakah to stir up open revolt in Egypt itself. It was at Haran while on the way to suppress this that Esar-haddon fell sick and died (10 Marcheswan 681) and was succeeded by Ashurbanipal.

4. Building. Esar-haddon built a new palacefortress at Kar-Esar-haddon near Assur and in SE Calah. Temples were restored also at Nineveh, Nippur, Babylon, and other cities.

Bibliography R. Borger, Die Inschriften Asarhaddons, Königs von Assyrien (1956); D. J. Wiseman, “The Vassal—Treaties of Esarhaddon,” Iraq, XX (1958), 1-99.