Daily Archives: July 7, 2008

Sunset at Lachish

This photo was made from inside the gate at Lachish looking west toward the Mediterranean Sea. The city faced two significant sunsets. It fell to the Babylonians in 587 B.C. The Lachish Letters were found immediately outside this gate in a room on the left. My friend and colleague, the late Phil Roberts, worked in the gate when we were at Lachish in 1980. Phil continued to work there each year until the excavation came to a close. When the prophet Jeremiah wrote, only Lachish and Azekah remained of the fortified cities of Judah (Jeremiah 34:7).

Lachish fell to the Assyrians more than a hundred years earlier in 701 B.C.The Bible records the events after the fall of Samaria this way,

Now in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them. Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong. Withdraw from me; whatever you impose on me I will bear.” So the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. Hezekiah gave him all the silver which was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasuries of the king’s house. At that time Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD, and from the doorposts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria. Then the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rab-saris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah with a large army to Jerusalem. So they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they went up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway of the fuller’s field. (2 Kings 18:13-17)

Sennacherib was unable to capture Jerusalem. I take it that the destruction of Lachish was his greatest achievement because he plastered the walls of his palace in Nineveh. This photo shows the king receiving the surrender of Lachish.

The cuneiform inscription reads as follows:

Sennacherib, king of the world, king of Assyria, sat upon a (nîmedu) -throne and passed in review the booty (taken) from Lachish (La-ki-su). (ANET 288).