The reason why I have called this thesis a revised history for the era of king Hezekiah, and for the background to that era, is because my reconstruction of this particular period of the history of ancient Israel and of the nations associated with it will depart quite significantly from the standard text-book versions of it. My justification for blazing this unique historical trail stems from the comments made by examiners of my 1993 MA thesis, The Sothic Star Theory of the Egyptian Calendar, to the effect that:
(a) I had shown the conventional chronology of ancient Egypt - to which that of the other nations (such as Assyria, Babylonia, Israel, Ethiopia and Greece) is largely tied - to be quite unsound, and that therefore,
(b) the way lies open for ‘a more acceptable alternative’.
Basically, this thesis is that ‘alternative’ as I see it for the era of king Hezekiah of Judah (late C8th BC), and for the background to that era (largely commencing early C9th BC).
This new thesis will be an in-depth chronological analysis and realignment of the era of Hezekiah and its background with a special focus upon trying to determine, in a revised context, who were the Judaean king’s major contemporaries and what were their origins. Though Hezekiah’s era is generally quite a well-documented one, I expect to show in this thesis that it nevertheless stands in need of a substantial renovation, due especially to the over-extended Egyptian Sothic chronology and its effect upon the current version of neo-Assyrian history with which biblical historians have attempted to align the reign of king Hezekiah. The renovation to be undertaken in this thesis will reveal the era of Hezekiah to be in fact a most complex one; a meeting place for some extremely significant events in the history of Egypt/Ethiopia, Anatolia, Syro-Palestine, Greece and Mesopotamia.
I review in Chapter 1, in a general way, the problems associated with the faulty chronology of Egypt, after having, in the Introduction, set the historical scene for Hezekiah, identifying the major nations at his time, and hinting at where the problems may lie and what sort of solutions will be proposed. A new set of chronological ‘anchors’ for the reign of king Hezekiah will be suggested.
A CHRONOLOGICAL REALIGNMENT OF KING HEZEKIAH AND
Part I: In Search of ‘A More Acceptable Alternative’ to the Conventional Background for the Era of Hezekiah
In Chapter 2 I take an initial step back in time, in order to introduce a conglomerate of new peoples who appeared in the ancient Near East - ‘Indo-Europeans’ as I shall be generally calling them - amongst whom, as I shall argue, were the ancestors of some of the most important kings of Hezekiah’s day. Following on from this will be the introduction, in Chapter 3, of an early C9th BC king - arising from these immigrant peoples - whom I shall proceed to identify as a great ancestor-king, affecting major kingships contemporaneous with Hezekiah. This background analysis will continue on into Chapter 4, into the mid-late C9th BC, with the introduction of a second significant king, generally thought to have been a descendant of the first, who will be of crucial dynastic importance affecting Hezekiah’s time, especially in regard to Egypt.
Part II: King Hezekiah and His Mesopotamian Contemporaries Revised
In this section I consider the problems that specifically relate to the era of king Hezekiah and his connections primarily with Mesopotamia (mainly Assyria and Babylonia). In the first chapter, on Judah/Israel (Chapter 5), I examine the chronology of Hezekiah’s reign in its relation to the kingdom of Israel and the major events associated with the latter. Of special interest here will be the incident of the fall of Samaria. I shall, in regard to this incident, reconsider, and alter, the current dates for king Hezekiah himself; these, I shall argue, being based upon a faulty chronology of Assyria.
Related to all of this will be Chapter 6, my lengthy revision of neo-Assyrian history, in which I shall arrive at some quite startling conclusions that will serve to shave off thirty years or more from the conventional estimate. Only as a result of these reduced dates though, shall I argue, can there be attained a proper correspondence between king Hezekiah and his Mesopotamian contemporaries, with the resulting chronological realignment becoming the very foundation stone for a new chronology of Judah/Israel. This revision will continue on into Chapter 7, with Babylonia. There I shall examine the major problems and propose solutions that I think will serve to bring a chronologico-historical harmony and alignment right across the board.
Part III: King Hezekiah and His Egyptian Contemporaries Revised
An even more complex task than attempting to bring into proper alignment the history of Mesopotamia for the Hezekian era will be that of grounding king Hezekiah’s Egypto-Ethiopian contemporaries. My discussion here will be dependent upon the conclusions already reached in Part I, in relation to the two seminal kings of foreign origin discussed there in detail.
In Chapter 8, I shall set out in summary form all of the major Egypto-Ethiopian activity - and its agents - thought to have been concurrent with the reign of king Hezekiah. Then, in Chapter 9 and Chapter 10, respectively, I shall focus upon the influence, on the nation of Egypt, of those two seminal kings already discussed, with a view later to identifying in the fullest possible way all of Hezekiah’s major Egypto-Ethiopian contemporaries.
Chapter 11 will afford me with the opportunity of bringing the revised history right to the dawn of the era of Hezekiah; whilst in Chapter 12, now fully within the Hezekian era, I shall finally be able to propose specific answers - based on my lengthy (of necessity) revision of the background Egyptian history - to what will have turned out to be two extremely difficult questions to answer: namely,
Who were king Hezekiah’s main Egypto-Ethiopian contemporaries (and what were their origins)?
and: To which dynasties did these particular pharaohs belong?
SENNACHERIB’S INVASIONS OF HEZEKIAH’S KINGDOM
AND HIS DEFEAT
Part I: Sennacherib’s Invasions of King Hezekiah’s Kingdom
Having attempted to establish, in VOLUME ONE, a most comprehensive, revised alignment of king Hezekiah with all of his major contemporaries, from Egypt/Ethiopia to Mesopotamia, I now proceed to tackle vexed problems associated with the king’s reign in regard to the incursions of Assyria into the Judaean kingdom. For example:
Did Sennacherib king of Assyria launch a major attack on Jerusalem once or twice?
and: What actually happened to Sennacherib’s army of 185,000?
My revision of neo-Assyrian history has now hopefully made it possible for me to provide a firm answer to the first question, to which I shall dedicate Chapter 1.
Part II: Demise of the Assyrian Army and of Sennacherib
To answer the second question, I shall be drawing also upon the pseudepigraphal Book of Judith in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3. This action-packed book holds, I believe, the very key to what happened to the ill-fated Assyrian army. But I must at the same time fully integrate the Book of Judith with Kings, Chronicles and Isaiah for the era of Hezekiah so that there can be no doubt about the former’s relevance. This detailed work will simply be an extension of VOLUME ONE, in which I had sought to confirm who were king Hezekiah’s contemporaries. But it will also add a fascinating new dimension to it.
The Epilogue will provide me with an opportunity to discuss the aftermath of the Assyrian defeat and what befell some of the leading characters whom we shall have encountered.
It will also serve as a lead-in to my Excursus on Isaiah, whose primary purpose will be to highlight the prophet’s celebrated rôle - according to this revision - in Assyria, subsequent to Israel’s victory.
A reconstructed history (chronology) needs a revised stratigraphy to underpin it all. Throughout this thesis I shall also be endeavouring to lay down a sound, basic stratigraphy for king Hezekiah and his contemporaries and for the background to Hezekiah’s era.