Esarhaddon

Esarhaddon

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Esarhaddon in the Masoretic text, which doubles the 'ש'), was the second son of Shem, the son of Noah. Ashur's brothers were Elam, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram....

 has given a brother to me"; Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

: ; ; ; ), was a king of Assyria who reigned 681 – 669 BC. He was the youngest son of Sennacherib
Sennacherib
Sennacherib |Sîn]] has replaced brothers for me"; Aramaic: ) was the son of Sargon II, whom he succeeded on the throne of Assyria .-Rise to power:...

 and the Aramean
Aramaeans
The Aramaeans, also Arameans , were a Northwest Semitic semi-nomadic and pastoralist people who originated in what is now modern Syria during the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age...

 queen Naqi'a (Zakitu), Sennacherib's second wife.

Rise to power



When, despite being the youngest son, he was named successor by his father, his elder brothers tried to discredit him. Oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

s had named Esarhaddon as the person to free the exiles and rebuild Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, the destruction of which by Sennacherib was felt to be sacrilegious. Esarhaddon remained crown prince
Crown Prince
A crown prince or crown princess is the heir or heiress apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy. The wife of a crown prince is also titled crown princess....

, but was forced into exile at an unknown place beyond Hanilgalbat (Mitanni
Mitanni
Mitanni or Hanigalbat was a loosely organized Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC...

), that is, beyond the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

, most likely somewhere in what is now southeastern Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

.

Sennacherib was murdered in 681 BC, some claim at the instigation of Esarhaddon, though this seems hardly likely, as he was not in a situation to exploit unrest arising from the death of his father. The biblical account is that his brothers killed their father after the failed attempt to capture Jerusalem and fled (2 Kings 19:37). He returned to the capital of Nineveh
Nineveh
Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo Assyrian Empire. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq....

 in forced marches and defeated his rival brothers in six weeks of civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

. He was formally declared king in spring of 681 BC. His brothers fled the land, and their followers and families were put to death. In the same year he began the rebuilding of Babylon, including the well-known Esagila
Esagila
The Ésagila, a Sumerian name signifying "É whose top is lofty", was a temple dedicated to Marduk, the protector god of Babylon...

and the Ekur
Ekur
Ekur is a Sumerian term meaning "mountain house". It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer.-Origin and meaning:...

 at Nippur
Nippur
Nippur was one of the most ancient of all the Sumerian cities. It was the special seat of the worship of the Sumerian god Enlil, the "Lord Wind," ruler of the cosmos subject to An alone...

 (structures sometimes identified with Tower of Babel
Tower of Babel
The Tower of Babel , according to the Book of Genesis, was an enormous tower built in the plain of Shinar .According to the biblical account, a united humanity of the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating from the east, came to the land of Shinar, where...

). The statues of the Babylonian gods were restored and returned to the city. In order not to appear too biased in favor of Babylonia, he ordered the reconstruction of the Assyrian sanctuary of Esharra in Ashur
Assur
Assur , was one of the capitals of ancient Assyria. The remains of the city are situated on the western bank of river Tigris, north of the confluence with the tributary Little Zab river, in modern day Iraq, more precisely in the Al-Shirqat District .Assur is also...

 as well. Foreigners were forbidden to enter this temple. Both buildings were dedicated almost at the same date, in year two of his reign.

Military campaigns


The first military campaigns of Esarhaddon were directed against nomadic tribes of southern Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, the Dakkuri and Gambulu, who had been harassing the peasants. In 679 BC the Cimmerians
Cimmerians
The Cimmerians or Kimmerians were ancient equestrian nomads of Indo-European origin.According to the Greek historian Herodotus, of the 5th century BC, the Cimmerians inhabited the region north of the Caucasus and the Black Sea during the 8th and 7th centuries BC, in what is now Ukraine and Russia...

, who had already killed his grandfather Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

, reappeared in Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

 and Tabal
Tabal
Tabal was a Luwian speaking Neo-Hittite kingdom of South Central Anatolia. According to archaeologist Kurt Bittel, the kingdom of Tabal first appeared after the collapse of the Hittite Empire....

 under their new ruler Teushpa
Teushpa
Teushpa was an early 7th century BC king of the Cimmerians but is also mentioned as king of the Umman-Manda according to King Esarhaddon's inscriptions...

. Esarhaddon defeated them near Hubushna, and defeated the rebellious inhabitants of Hilakku as well. The Cimmerians withdrew to the west, where, with Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

n and Urartu
Urartu
Urartu , corresponding to Ararat or Kingdom of Van was an Iron Age kingdom centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highland....

an help, they were to destroy the kingdom of Phrygia
Phrygia
In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Phrygians initially lived in the southern Balkans; according to Herodotus, under the name of Bryges , changing it to Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the...

 in 676 BC .

The Sidon
Sidon
Sidon or Saïda is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, about 40 km north of Tyre and 40 km south of the capital Beirut. In Genesis, Sidon is the son of Canaan the grandson of Noah...

ian king Abdi-Milkutti
Abdi-Milkutti
Abdi-Milkutti was a Sidonian king who rose up against Assyrian rule. He had formed an alliance with Sanduarri, king of Kundi and Sizu, a prince of the Lebanon, probably during the time of the civil war waged between Esarhaddon and two of his brothers who disputed his succession after they had...

, who had risen up against the Assyrian king, was defeated in 677 BC and beheaded. The town of Sidon was destroyed and rebuilt as Kar-Ashur-aha-iddina, the "Harbor of Esarhaddon". The population was deported to Assyria. A share of the plunder went to the loyal king of rival Tyre, Baal I
Baal I
Baal I was the king of Tyre . His name is the same as that of the Phoenician deity, Baal. He was tributary to the Assyrians, who had conquered the rest of Phoenicia, and sent his son Yehawmelek to Ashurbanipal with heavy tribute. He also may have assisted the Assyrians in their war against Elam.-...

, himself an Assyrian puppet. The partly conserved text of a treaty with Tyre mentions the kings of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

, Edom
Edom
Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...

, Moab
Moab
Moab is the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in Jordan. The land lies alongside much of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archeological findings, most notably the Mesha Stele, which describes the Moabite victory over...

, Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

, Ashkelon
Ashkelon
Ashkelon is a coastal city in the South District of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, south of Tel Aviv, and north of the border with the Gaza Strip. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Neolithic Age...

, Ekron
Ekron
The city of Ekron , was one of the five cities of the famed Philistine pentapolis, located in southwestern Canaan. Ekron lies 35 kilometers west of Jerusalem, and 18 kilometers north of ancient Gath, on the eastern edge of Israel's coastal plain.-History:...

, Byblos
Byblos
Byblos is the Greek name of the Phoenician city Gebal . It is a Mediterranean city in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of present-day Lebanon under the current Arabic name of Jubayl and was also referred to as Gibelet during the Crusades...

, Arvad, Samsi-muruna, Ammon
Ammon
Ammon , also referred to as the Ammonites and children of Ammon, was an ancient nation located east of the Jordan River, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan. The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Amman, Jordan's capital...

, Ashdod, ten kings from the coast of the sea, and ten kings from the middle of the sea (usually identified with Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

), as Assyrian allies.

In 676 BC Esarhaddon took the towns of Sissu
Sissu
Sissu is a small town in the Lahaul valley of Himachal Pradesh in India. It is around 90 km from Manali and located on the right bank of Chandra river. It has a PWD Rest House, a High School and Primary Health Centre...

 and Kundu in the Taurus Mountains
Taurus Mountains
Taurus Mountains are a mountain complex in southern Turkey, dividing the Mediterranean coastal region of southern Turkey from the central Anatolian Plateau. The system extends along a curve from Lake Eğirdir in the west to the upper reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in the east...

. The Mannaeans
Mannaeans
The Mannaeans were an ancient people who lived in the territory of present-day Iran and Azerbaijan, around the 10th to 7th centuries BC...

, the Scythians under their king Ishpakaia, and the "Gutians" of the Zagros proved to be a nuisance as well, as is attested by numerous oracle-texts. The Mannaeans, former vassal
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

s of the Assyrians, were no longer restricted to the area around Lake Urmia
Lake Urmia
Lake Urmia , ancient name: Lake Matiene) is a salt lake in northwestern Iran, near Iran's border with Turkey. The lake is between the Iranian provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, west of the southern portion of the similarly shaped Caspian Sea...

, but had spread into Zamua
Zamua
Zamua was an ancient kingdom, corresponding with the earlier kingdom of Lullubi, which stretched from lake Urmia to the upper reaches of the Diyala River, roughly corresponding with the modern Sulaimania governorate in Iraqi Kurdistan. It was centered at Sharazur plain.Ameka and Arashtua were two...

, where they interrupted the horse trade between Parsuash and Assyria and refused to pay further tribute. After the fall of Phrygia, a daughter of Esarhaddon was wedded to the Scythian prince Partatua of Sakasene in order to improve relations with the nomads. The Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

 under Khshathrita (Phraortes
Phraortes
Phraortes , son of Diyako, was the second king of the Median Empire....

) had been the target of a campaign as well, the date of which is unclear (possibly before 676 BC). Later, Assyrian hosts reached the border of the "salt-desert" near the mountain Bikni, that is, near Teheran. A number of fortresses secured the Zagros: Bit-Parnakki, Bit-kari and Harhar (Kar-Sharrukin).

A certain Mugallu had taken possession of parts of the Syro-Hittite state of Melid, and associated himself with the king of Tabal
Tabal
Tabal was a Luwian speaking Neo-Hittite kingdom of South Central Anatolia. According to archaeologist Kurt Bittel, the kingdom of Tabal first appeared after the collapse of the Hittite Empire....

. The city of Melid was besieged in 675 BC, but without success. That same year, Humban-Haltash II of Elam
Elam
Elam was an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran. Elam was centered in the far west and the southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, as well as a small part of southern Iraq...

 began a campaign against Sippar
Sippar
Sippar was an ancient Near Eastern city on the east bank of the Euphrates river, located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah in Iraq's Babil Governorate, some 60 km north of Babylon and 30 km southeast of Baghdad....

, but was defeated by the Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

ns, and died soon afterwards. His brother and successor Urtaki restored peace with Assyria.

A preliminary campaign against Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 begun by Esarhaddon the next year seems to have failed. Meanwhile, Esarhaddon was waging war in the land of Bazu, situated opposite of the island of "Dilmun
Dilmun
Dilmun or Telmun is a land mentioned by Mesopotamian civilizations as a trade partner, a source of the metal copper, and an entrepôt of the Mesopotamia-to-Indus Valley Civilization trade route...

" (Bahrain
Bahrain
' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

), probably Qatar
Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

, "where snakes and scorpions cover the ground like ants" - a dry land of salt deserts. In 673 BC, Esarhaddon waged war against Urartu
Urartu
Urartu , corresponding to Ararat or Kingdom of Van was an Iron Age kingdom centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highland....

 under king Rusas II, which had strengthened again after the ravages of Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 and the Cimmerians
Cimmerians
The Cimmerians or Kimmerians were ancient equestrian nomads of Indo-European origin.According to the Greek historian Herodotus, of the 5th century BC, the Cimmerians inhabited the region north of the Caucasus and the Black Sea during the 8th and 7th centuries BC, in what is now Ukraine and Russia...

.

In 672 BC, crown prince Sin-iddina-apla died. He had been the oldest son and designated as king of Assyria, while the second son Shamash-shum-ukin
Shamash-shum-ukin
Shamash-shum-ukin was the Assyrian king of Babylon from 668-648 BC.He was the second son of the Assyrian King Esarhaddon. His elder brother, crown prince Sin-iddina-apla had died in 672, and in his stead the third son Ashurbanipal was invested as crown prince and later king of Assyria, while...

 was to become the ruler of Babylon. Now, the younger Ashurbanipal
Ashurbanipal
Ashurbanipal |Ashur]] is creator of an heir"; 685 BC – c. 627 BC), also spelled Assurbanipal or Ashshurbanipal, was an Assyrian king, the son of Esarhaddon and the last great king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire...

 became crown prince, but he was very unpopular with the court and the priesthood. Contracts were made with leading Assyrians, members of the royal family and foreign rulers, to assure their loyalty to the crown prince.

In 671 BC Esarhaddon went to war against Pharaoh Taharqa
Taharqa
Taharqa was a pharaoh of the Ancient Egyptian 25th dynasty and king of the Kingdom of Kush, which was located in Northern Sudan.Taharqa was the son of Piye, the Nubian king of Napata who had first conquered Egypt. Taharqa was also the cousin and successor of Shebitku. The successful campaigns of...

 of Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. Part of his army stayed behind to deal with rebellions in Tyre, and perhaps Ashkelon
Ashkelon
Ashkelon is a coastal city in the South District of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, south of Tel Aviv, and north of the border with the Gaza Strip. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Neolithic Age...

. The remainder went south to Rapihu, then crossed the Sinai
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

, a desert inhabited by dreadful and dangerous animals, and entered Egypt. In the summer he took Memphis
Memphis, Egypt
Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Helwan, south of Cairo.According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3000 BC. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an...

, and Taharqa fled to Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

. Esarhaddon now called himself "king of Egypt, Patros and Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

", and returned with rich booty from the cities of the delta; he erected a victory stele at this time, showing the son of Taharqa in bondage, Prince Ushankhuru. Almost as soon as the king left, Egypt rebelled against Assyrian rule.

Death


Esarhaddon had to contend with court intrigues at Nineveh that led to the execution of several nobles, and sent his general, Sha-Nabu-shu, to restore order in the Nile Valley. In 669 BC, he went to Egypt in person, but suddenly died in autumn of the same year, in Harran
Harran
Harran was a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia whose site is near the modern village of Altınbaşak, Turkey, 24 miles southeast of Şanlıurfa...

. He was succeeded by Ashurbanipal
Ashurbanipal
Ashurbanipal |Ashur]] is creator of an heir"; 685 BC – c. 627 BC), also spelled Assurbanipal or Ashshurbanipal, was an Assyrian king, the son of Esarhaddon and the last great king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire...

 as king of Assyria and Shamash-shum-ukin
Shamash-shum-ukin
Shamash-shum-ukin was the Assyrian king of Babylon from 668-648 BC.He was the second son of the Assyrian King Esarhaddon. His elder brother, crown prince Sin-iddina-apla had died in 672, and in his stead the third son Ashurbanipal was invested as crown prince and later king of Assyria, while...

 as king of Babylonia.

Popular culture

  • Esarhaddon is a character in Nicholas Guild's The Assyrian, a historical novel about the adventures of a fictional prince, Tiglath-Ashur, set during the reign of king Sennacherib
    Sennacherib
    Sennacherib |Sîn]] has replaced brothers for me"; Aramaic: ) was the son of Sargon II, whom he succeeded on the throne of Assyria .-Rise to power:...

     in ancient Assyria. He is the best friend and brother of the protagonist, Tiglath-Ashur, and eventually ascends the throne of the Assyrian empire.
  • S.R. Hadden, a character in Carl Sagan
    Carl Sagan
    Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

    's novel Contact, is named for Esarhaddon.

External links