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Neo-Babylonian Empire at time of Nebuchadnezzar - Room 55

Objects in this room come from the Babylonian Empire during the time of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (604-562 BC) , around the time of the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC and the exile of Judah.

The first king of the neo-Babylonian empire was Nabopolassar (625-605 BC), father of Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was followed by two weaker kings. After them Nabonidus (555 - 539 BC) seized the throne. His son was the Belshazzar of Belshazzar’s feast (Dan 5).

The Taylor Prism (WA 91032) - (5 of 13)

A six-sided prism describing the first eight military campaigns of Sennacherib (705-681 BC), inscribed in cuneiform in 691 BC. It was found in Nineveh by Col. R. Taylor in 1830. The third campaign, in 701 BC, was to the west, when Sennacherib defeated the Phoenicians (Tyre & Sidon), Ammon, Moab, Edom and Philistia, who all had to pay tribute. Sennacherib repulsed the Egyptian army coming to help Judah at Eltekeh (2 Kg 19:19, Is 37:9). He besieged and took the city of Lachish (see Lachish Room 10), then began to besiege Jerusalem, but retreated when God intervened. The prism describes these events rather differently. Assyrians were not good at admitting defeat.

In the 14th year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. And Hezekiah, king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, "I have done wrong, withdraw from me, whatever you impose on me I will bear." And the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold. (2 Kg 18:13-14)

The prism reads:
As for Hezekiah, king of Judah, who had not submitted to my yoke, 46 of his fortified cities and smaller cities without number, with my battering rams, engines, mines, breaches and axes, I besieged and captured 200,150 people small and great, male and female, and horses, mules, asses, camels, oxen, sheep without number, I took as booty. Hezekiah himself I shut up like a caged bird in Jerusalem, his royal city. I built a line of forts against him and turned back everyone who came forth out of his city gate. His cities which I captured, I gave to Mitinti, king of Ashdod, Padi, king of Ekron and Sillibel, king of Gaza, I gave them. And I diminished his land. I added to the former tribute and laid upon him as their yearly payment, a tax as gifts for my majesty. As for Hezekiah, the terrifying splendour of my majesty overcame him, and the Urbi and his troops which he had brought in to strengthen Jerusalem, his royal city deserted him. In addition to 30 talents of gold (same as 2 Kg 18:13) and 800 talents of silver, gems, antimony, jewels, ... as well as his daughters, his harem, his male and female musicians which he brought to Nineveh, my royal city. To pay tribute and to do servitude he despatched his messengers.

We should notice that he did not claim to have conquered Jerusalem. Assyrians never admitted defeat in their records. He also mentions the nations calling on help from Egypt (see Is 31). The miraculous relief of Jerusalem in 701 BC is described in: 2 Kg 18:17 - 19:36 & Is 36-37.

The Taylor prism also describes Sennacherib being killed by his sons, dated the equivalent of 20 Dec 681 BC (cf Is 37:37-38)

Another prism, known as the Jerusalem Prism, describing these events is held in the Jerusalem Museum in Israel.