Esarhaddon (Akkadian: Aššur-aḥa-iddina "Ashur has given a
brother"; Hebrew: אֵסַר חַדֹּן, Modern ’ēsár
ḥadón, Tiberian ’esār ḥādon; Ancient Greek:
Ασαρχαδδων; Latin: Asor Haddan) was a king of the
Neo-Assyrian Empire who reigned 681 – 669 BC. He was the youngest
Sennacherib and the West Semitic queen
Sennacherib's second wife.
1 Rise to power
2 Military campaigns
4 See also
7 External links
Rise to power
When, despite being the youngest son,
Esarhaddon was named successor
by his father, his elder brothers tried to discredit him. Oracles had
named him as the person to free the exiles and rebuild Babylon, the
destruction of which by
Sennacherib was felt to have been
Esarhaddon remained crown prince, but was forced into
exile at an unknown place beyond Hanilgalbat (Mitanni), that is,
beyond the Euphrates, most likely somewhere in what is now
Sennacherib was murdered in 681 BC. The biblical account is that
Esarhaddon's brothers killed their father after the failed attempt to
capture Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:37).
Esarhaddon returned to the capital
Nineveh in forced marches and defeated his rival brothers in six
weeks of civil war. He was formally declared king in the spring of 681
BC. His brothers fled to the land of Ararat and their followers and
families were put to death. In the same year
Esarhaddon began the
rebuilding of Babylon, including the well-known
Esagila and the Ekur
Nippur (structures sometimes identified with the Tower of
Babel). The statues of the Babylonian gods were restored and
returned to the city. He also ordered the reconstruction of the
Assyrian sanctuary of Esharra in Ashur as well. Foreigners were
forbidden to enter the temple. Both buildings were dedicated almost on
the same date, the second year of his reign.
Easarhaddon cylinder from fort Shalmaneser at Nimrud. It was found in
the city of Nimrud and was housed in the Iraqi Museum, Baghdad. Erbil
Civilization Museum, Iraqi Kurdistan.
The first military campaigns of
Esarhaddon were directed against
nomadic tribes of southern Mesopotamia, the Dakkuri and Gambulu, who
had been harassing the peasants. In 679 BC, the Cimmerians, who had
already killed his grandfather Sargon II, reappeared in
Tabal under their new ruler Teushpa.
Esarhaddon defeated them near
Hubushna (Hupisna), and defeated the rebellious inhabitants of Hilakku
as well. The
Cimmerians withdrew to the west, where, with Scythian and
Urartuan help, they were to destroy the kingdom of
Phrygia in 676 BC.
Black basalt monument of king Esarhaddon. It narrates Esarhaddon's
restoration of Babylon. Circa 670 BC. From Babylon, Mesopotamia, Iraq.
The British Museum, London.
The Sidonian king Abdi-Milkutti, who had risen up against the Assyrian
king, was defeated in 677 BC and beheaded. The town of
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, himself an
Assyrian puppet. The partly conserved text of a treaty with Tyre
mentions the kings of Judah, Edom, Moab, Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron,
Byblos, Arvad, Samsi-muruna, Ammon, Ashdod, ten kings from the coast
of the sea, and ten kings from the middle of the sea (usually
identified with Cyprus), as Assyrian allies.
In 676 BC,
Esarhaddon took the towns of Sissu and Kundu in the Taurus
Mountains. The Mannaeans, 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 vassals of
the Assyrians, were no longer restricted to the area around Lake
Urmia, but had spread into Zamua, where they interrupted the horse
Assyria and refused to pay further tribute.
After the fall of Phrygia, a daughter of
Esarhaddon was wedded to the
Partatua of Sakasene in order to improve relations
with the nomads. The
Medes under Khshathrita (Kashtariti) 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
A certain Mugallu had taken possession of parts of the Syro-Hittite
state of Melid, and associated himself with the king of Tabal. The
Melid was besieged in 675 BC, but without success. That same
year, Humban-Haltash II of
Elam began a campaign against Sippar, but
was defeated by the Babylonians, and died soon afterwards. His brother
and successor Urtaki restored peace with Assyria.
Terracotta record of king Esarhaddon's restoration of Babylon. Circa
670 BC. From Babylon, Mesopotamia, Iraq. The British Museum, London.
A preliminary campaign against
Egypt 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"
(Bahrain), probably Qatar, "where snakes and scorpions cover the
ground like ants" - a dry land of salt deserts. In 673 BC, Esarhaddon
waged war against
Urartu under king Rusas II, which had strengthened
again after the ravages of
Sargon II and the Cimmerians.
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 was to become the ruler of Babylon. Now, the younger
Ashurbanipal 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 of Egypt.
Part of his army stayed behind to deal with rebellions in Tyre, and
perhaps Ashkelon. The remainder went south to Rapihu (Rafah, near
Gazah), then crossed the Sinai and entered Egypt. In the summer, he
took Memphis, and
Taharqa fled to Upper Egypt.
Esarhaddon now called
himself "king of Egypt, Patros, and Kush", 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.
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
person, but suddenly died during autumn of the same year, in Harran.
He was succeeded by
Ashurbanipal as king of Assyria, and
Shamash-shum-ukin as king of Babylonia.
Ancient Near East portal
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Esarhaddon.
Kings of Assyria
^ "Ezra 4 / Hebrew - English Bible / Mechon-Mamre". Mechon-mamre.org.
^ a b "NEW ADVENT BIBLE: Ezra 4". Newadvent.org. Retrieved
^ Barbara N. Porter (1993). Images, power, and politics: figurative
aspects of Esarhaddon's Babylonian policy. American Philosophical
Society. pp. 62–. ISBN 978-0-87169-208-5. Retrieved 8 June
Amitai Baruchi-Unna, "Crossing the Boundaries: Literary Allusions to
the Epic of Gilgamesh in the Account of Esarhaddon's Egyptian
Campaign," in Mordechai Cogan and Dan'el Kahn (eds), Treasures on
Camels' Humps: Historical and Literary Studies from the Ancient Near
East Presented to Israel Eph`al (Jerusalem, Magnes Press, 2008),
Erle Leichty, "Esarhaddon's Eastern Campaign," in Mordechai Cogan and
Dan'el Kahn (eds), Treasures on Camels' Humps: Historical and Literary
Studies from the Ancient Near East Presented to Israel Eph'al
(Jerusalem, Magnes Press, 2008),
David Damrosch, The buried book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great
Epic of Gilgamesh (Henry Holt and Co., 2007),
A summary of Assyrian kings
The murderer of
Sennacherib - by Simo Parpola
Vassal treaties and Esharhaddon's "Letter to the God"
Esharhaddon’s Syrio-Palestinian Campaign
King of Assyria
681 – 669 BC
King of Babylon
681 – 669 BC
Early Bronze Age
"Kings who lived in tents"
(ca. 2500 – 2000 BC)
"Kings who were forefathers"
(ca. 2000 BC)
"Kings whose eponyms are destroyed"
(ca. 2000 – 1900 BC)
Middle Bronze Age
Old Assyrian period
(ca. 1906 – 1380 BC)
(Seven usurpers: Ashur-dugul
Late Bronze Age
Middle Assyrian period
(ca. 1353 – 1180 BC)
Middle Assyrian period
(ca. 1179 – 912 BC)
(ca. 912 – 609 BC)
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