Damien F. Mackey
“An unusual feature of this text is the name of the god upon whom the Assyrian king calls: Anshar, the old Babylonian god who was syncretized with the Assyrian god Assur. This name was rarely used by Assyrian kings, and then only at special times and in specific types of texts, by Sargon and Sennacherib”.
William H. Shea
The difficulties with which the specialists have been confronted in trying to determine whether the Azekah text belonged to Sargon II, or to Sennacherib, is a further classical example of the confusion that arises with the failure to recognize that Sargon II was Sennacherib.
The confusion is apparent from this introductory section to William H. Shea’s article:
SARGON’S AZEKAH INSCRIPTION: THE EARLIEST
EXTRABIBLICAL REFERENCE TO THE SABBATH?
The Azekah Text
The “Azekah Text,” so called because of the Judahite site attacked in its record, is an Assyrian text of considerable historical significance because of its mention of a military campaign to Philistia and Judah. ….
In this article I review the question of the date of the tablet and examine a line which may be the earliest extrabiblical reference to the Sabbath.
In this tablet the king reports his campaign to his god. An unusual feature of this text is the name of the god upon whom the Assyrian king calls: Anshar, the old Babylonian god who was syncretized with the Assyrian god Assur. This name was rarely used by Assyrian kings, and then only at special times and in specific types of texts, by Sargon and Sennacherib.
The text is badly broken. In fact, until 1974 its two fragments were attributed to two different kings, Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon.
In that year, Navad Na’aman joined the two pieces, showing that they once belonged to. the same tablet. ….
When Na’aman made the join between the two fragments, he attributed the combined text to Sennacherib, largely on the basis of linguistic comparisons. …. Because the vocabulary of the text was similar to the language used in Sennacherib’s inscriptions, Na’aman argued that Sennacherib was the author. However, since Sennacherib immediately followed Sargon on the throne, it would be natural to expect that the mode of expression would be similar. In all likelihood some of Sargon’s scribes continued to work under Sennacherib, using the same language.
Since Na’aman attributed the text to Sennacharib, and knew of only one western campaign of that king, he identified the text as a description of the western campaign of 701 B.C. While that identification was feasible, the reference to two cities taken in that campaign was hardly specific enough to firmly establish the connection.
Given that indistinct connection, I proposed, mainly on the basis of the divine name of Anshar in the text, that this record came from a second western campaign, conducted some time after Sennacherib’s conquest of Babylon in 689 B.C. and before Hezekiah’s death in 686 B.C. …. Since Sennacherib used the divine name of Anshar only in texts written after the fall of Babylon in 689 B.C., it appeared that the Azekah text provided strong evidence for a second western campaign. Although he criticized my specific date for this text, Frank J. Yurco still followed Na’aman in his attribution of the text to Sennacherib.
The discussion regarding the specific date of this text within the reign of Sennacherib is now irrelevant, for G. Galil has demonstrated quite convincingly that the text does not belong to Sennacherib at all, but to his predecessor Sargon …. All future discussions of this text should start from this beginning point. ….