ESARHADDON (ē’sar-hăd'ŏn, Ashur has given a brother). A younger son of Sennacherib, who obtained the throne of Assyria after his older brothers murdered their father (2Kgs.19.36-2Kgs.19.37; 2Chr.32.21; Isa.37.37-Isa.37.38) . His reign (681-669 b.c.) saw important political developments. He restored the city of Babylon, which his father had destroyed, and fought campaigns against the Cimmerians and other barbaric hordes from beyond the Caucasus. His main achievement was the conquest of Egypt, Assyria’s competitor for world domination.
In preparation for his Egyptian campaign, Esarhaddon subdued the Westlands. Sidon was destroyed, its inhabitants deported, its king beheaded, and a new city erected on its site. According to Ezra.4.2, Esarhaddon brought deportees into Samaria, which had already been colonized with pagans by Sargon when he destroyed it in 722 b.c. After Sidon’s fall twelve kings along the Mediterranean seacoast submitted to the Assyrians and were forced to supply wood and stone for the king’s palace in Nineveh. Among these was “Manasi king of Yaudi,” the Manasseh of the Bible. Manasseh had little choice. The Assyrian Empire had now reached its greatest power; and it appears that most of the Judean citizenry preferred peaceful submission, even with the Assyrian pagan influences now imposed on them, to constant abortive rebellion. Manasseh’s summons to appear before an Assyrian king, mentioned in 2Chr.33.11-2Chr.33.13, probably took place in the reign of Esarhaddon’s successor, Ashurbanipal.
In 671 b.c. Egypt fell to Esarhaddon. He occupied Memphis and organized Egypt into districts under princes responsible to Assyrian governors. A later Egyptian rebellion necessitated a second Assyrian campaign there, during which Esarhaddon died and Ashurbanipal his son succeeded him.
ESAR-HADDON ē’ sər hăd’ ən
, [from Akkad. Aššur-aẖ-iddin
] Ashur has given a brother
). King of Assyria 681-669 b.c.
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).
Sennacherib was murdered by one or more of his sons (see 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.
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.
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.
R. Borger, Die Inschriften Asarhaddons, Königs von Assyrien (1956); D. J. Wiseman, “The Vassal—Treaties of Esarhaddon,” Iraq, XX (1958), 1-99.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(’ecar-chaddon; Assyrian Asur-ach-iddina, "Ashur hath given a brother"):
During his lifetime, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, made his favorite son, Esarhaddon (680-668 BC), the viceroy of Babylon; and although he was not the eldest son, he decreed that he should become the legal heir to the throne of Assyria. Sennacherib, having been slain in 681, apparently by two of his sons, who are called in the Old Testament Adrammelech and Sharezer (2Ki 19:37), Esarhaddon proceeded to Nineveh, where the rebellion which followed the death of his father collapsed, having existed for about a month and a half. The Old Testament informs us that the murderers of his father fled to Armenia. This is corroborated by the inscriptions which say that at Melid, in the land of Hanirabbat, which can be said to be in Armenia, Esarhaddon fought the rebels and defeated them; whereupon he was proclaimed king. His father had been so displeased with Babylon that he had attempted to annihilate the city by making it a swamp. Esarhaddon, however, having been infatuated with the ancient culture of the Babylonians, adopted a conciliatory attitude toward the people. Immediately he planned to restore the city on magnificent proportions. The foundations of his work were laid with impressive ceremonies, and in every way he endeavored to ameliorate the inhabitants by his gracious deeds. Even at Nippur evidences of his work in restoring the ancient shrine of Ellil are seen. The kings of the West who became his vassals, among them being Manasseh of Judah, were required to furnish building materials for his operations in Babylonia. His work in that land explains why the Judean king was incarcerated at Babylon (2Ch 33:11) instead of Assyria.
Esarhaddon was first compelled to defend the kingdom against the inroads of the hordes from the North. The Gimirra (perhaps referring to Gomer of the Old Testament), who were called Manda, seemed to pour into the land. A decisive victory was finally gained over them, and they were driven back into their own country. Afterward, the Medes and the Chaldeans were also subjugated. He then directed his attentions toward the West. Sidon having revolted against Assyria, Esarhaddon laid siege to the city, which after three years was finally captured and destroyed. He built another city upon the same site, which he called Kar-Esarhaddon, and endeavored to revive its commerce. And, as is mentioned in Ezr 4:2; compare 10, he repopulated the city (Samaria) with captives from Elam and Babylonia.
The capture of Tyre was also attempted, but, the city being differently situated, a siege from the land was insufficient to bring about submission, as it was impossible to cut off the commerce by sea. The siege, after several years, seems to have been lifted. Although on a great monolith Esarhaddon depicts Ba`al, the king of Tyre, kneeling before him with a ring through his lips, there is nothing in the inscriptions to bear this out.
His work in Canaan was preparatory to his conquest of Egypt. Tirhakah, the Ethiopian king of Egypt, was attacked on the borders, but no victory was gained. Several years later he crossed the borders and gained a decisive victory at Iskhupri. He then proceeded to lay siege to Memphis, which soon capitulated; and Egypt, to the confines of Nubia, surrendered to Assyria. Esarhaddon reorganized the government, and even changed the names of the cities. Necoh was placed over the 22 princes of the land. In 668, Egypt revolted and Esarhaddon, while on his way to put down the revolt, died. He had arranged that the kingdom be divided between two of his sons: Ashurbanipal was to be king of Assyria, and Shamash-shum-ukin was to reign over Babylonia. The nobles decreed, however, that the empire should not be divided, but Shamash-shum-ukin was made viceroy of Babylonia.