Teaching Students About Biblical History: The Story of Sennacherib

The story of Sennacherib, the great king of Assyria, holds an important place in both Biblical history and ancient Near Eastern studies. As educators, it is essential to teach students about the Sennacherib Bible to provide them with a rich understanding of this significant historical figure. This article outlines the key points that educators should focus on when teaching the story of Sennacherib and his encounters with the kingdoms of Judah and Israel.

Sennacherib’s Background:

Sennacherib was the king of Assyria from 705 BC to 681 BC. He was known for his military conquests, expanding the Assyrian Empire’s borders, and maintaining a powerful and terrifying presence in the ancient world. To begin teaching students about Sennacherib, discuss his reign and establish an understanding of his role in ancient Assyrian history.

Sennacherib and The Bible:

The story of Sennacherib is narrated in three books of the Old Testament: 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah. His campaigns against the kingdoms of Israel and Judah provide crucial insight into the relationships between the three major powers in the region at that time: Egypt, Assyria, and Israel/Judah. Explain to students how these stories exemplify ancient political power struggles in that era.

The Siege of Lachish:

One of Sennacherib’s most famous military actions was his siege on the city of Lachish, an important city in Judah. The Siege of Lachish is found not only in biblical accounts but also depicted in the Lachish Reliefs at Sennacherib’s palace in Nineveh (modern-day Iraq). Students should be encouraged to study both the account in 2 Kings (18:13-17) and examine images or reconstructions of the Lachish Reliefs. This will help them understand the complexities and similarities between different historical accounts.

Hezekiah and Sennacherib:

A significant part of Sennacherib’s biblical narrative involves his interaction with Hezekiah, the king of Judah. Hezekiah is mentioned as a God-fearing king who reigned over Judah for 29 years. To understand the complexities of their relationship, students should explore the reasons for Hezekiah’s rebellion against Sennacherib, leading to the Assyrian invasion of Judah.

The Assyrian Army and their Defeat:

The Old Testament recounts that after capturing several Judean cities, Sennacherib laid siege to Jerusalem. However, the story of Sennacherib’s defeat as narrated in both 2 Kings (19:35-37) and Isaiah (37:36-38) portrays divine intervention, wherein an angel of God is said to have vanquished 185,000 Assyrian soldiers overnight. Have your students discuss the significance of this event and its implications for both ancient Israelites and contemporary readers.

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