A relevant scope . . .

The Adventist Church had two times the Sabbath-School series by the same author and the same Sabbath School director published with the denial of the Two Campaign Theory, first in 2003 and secondly in 2021 with an exact unaltered, unedited, unchanged view that there was just one event in 701 BC and everything written in the Bible must be dumped here.

The Two-Campaign Theory discussed so many times by Adventist scholars in the 1950-1990’s was done because of the critical science who first of all rejects the descriptions of Scripture as legitimate and authoritative sources for history of the past and secondly, because they wish to say that the Assyrians spoke better truth than Isaiah did. Since they do not speak of two campaigns to Jerusalem by Sennacherib, so there were no two. The Bible is wrong and the two descriptions is a mixed and confused account of that event. Two descriptions but one event.

As an honors student at Stellenbosch Unveristy, an Israeli scholar came to talk about the same topic. Sadly to say, even though he read Hebrew very well, unless you are serious to seek the truth, you will end up with nonsense. He advocated the one event two mixed/faulty descriptions to us in the large lecture hall. At the end I raised my hand and asked him what about the concept of two campaigns and two descriptions? He admitted that he heard about it but did not want to elaborate on it.

Hezekiah according to the Bible was friendly to Assyria and paid money to them. Hezekiah according to the Bible was “rebellious” and had to bring Isaiah in because of stress. Sennacherib heard Tirhaka came from Egypt and run. Sennacherib was obnoxious and 185 000 soldiers were struck by God.

These biblical facts cannot be just swept under the carpet and let us go on not offending the Canaanites and Baalists out there and just keep believing in the rest of the Bible although we could not say something here. It is not that nobody considered this idea before. Adventist scholars need to do more than scratching on the surface. This is a note after the second time Sabbath School Quarterly from the GC keeping exactly all errors unchanged after 18 years!

Note, the author, 13th of February 2021

Sennacherib’s Judaean Campaigns Updates

The Two-Campaign Theory was introduced, contrary to many scholars and Universities' opinions, actually by R. Rogers in 1914 in a volume dedicated to the 70th birthday of Julius Wellhausen. Since then the theory had its ups and downs by consensus and more recently it seems that scholars do not even want to discuss it.

My finding is that the view of Scripture of the scholar determines the outcome of the product that the scholar is going to present. Deleting or omitting any part of the pericopes relevant to the campaigns of Sennacherib destroys the attempt to make sense of it.

Here is some updates of recent views on these matters.


1. Brill has brought out the book of William Gallagher in 1999 on Sennacherib's Campaign to Judah. In their announcement regarding the event of the 701 BCE campaign, Brill claimed that the war of Sennacherib remained obscure for modern historians. In a way they are right but also wrong. There are details that we do not know. However, the obscurity of the available detail, especially in the Bible, was made more obscure by those who deny the historicity of the historical books of the Masoretic text and also Isaiah. This was systematically done by Brevard Childs in 1973. His relecturing method applied Canonically, has done a lot of harm to the historical investigation of the books of the Bible.


2. Gallagher utilized Textual Criticism, Literary Criticism, translation problems, and  historiographical questions to address the issue. Unless a person is grounded in the Word of God as measure of faith, unless a person protects the Word of God against any onslaught that suggests emendation, deletion, omission, or addition to the Word of God as represented in the consonantal text of the Masoretic tradition, the conclusion will be lobsided, and obscure for them.


3. The Two-Campaign theory of Sennacherib, meaning two campaigns dealing with Judah, is the best scenario that do justice not only to the Assyrian incomplete accounts but also the Egyptian evidence without any need to adjust, emend, omit, reallocate, re-edit and we may add Childs favorite method, relecturing of the Biblical record.


4. Gallagher did this dissertation under the Assyriologist Hermann Hunger and the Old  Testament scholar Georg Sauer.


5. Gallagher divided his attention into two parts: a) discussion of Isaiah 21:1-22:14;  10:5-19; and 14:4b-21 to establish the historical background. It sounds very historical but  as we will se later, "historically" is actually a surprise word to use. He refuse to discuss  the Two-campaign theory and that raises major historical questions to the issue; b)  discussion of the third campaign of Sennacherib with Assyrian and Biblical sources, the  inscriptions and 2 Kings 18:13-19:37 and Isaiah 36-37.


6. Gallagher argued for an earlier date for Isaiah 21-22 from the sixth century as critical  scholars in the past 150 years have argued for to an eighth century date. He connects the  oracle with Assyria's defeat of Elam and Babylon at the battle of Kish in 704 BCE. He argues that the fall of the Babylonians opened the way for the Assyrians to attack Judah.


7. Gallagher tries to fit in Isaiah 21:1-10 to the year 703 BCE and Isaiah 22:15-25 to a little later but before the 701 BCE attack.


8. Gallagher feels that Isaiah 23 with the oracle against Tyre dates to after 701 BCE when  the Assyrians reached Tyre.


9. Gallagher connects Isaiah 10:5-19 with 2 Kings 18:18-35 and Isaiah 36:4-20.


10. He connected Isaiah 14:4b-21 with Sargon who died in 705 BCE.


11. Gallagher wants to apply Isaiah 10:5-19 to the events at 701 BCE with Sennacherib.  Because Sennacherib boasted that he planted parks and garden lands, Gallagher applies Isaiah 10:16-19 to this event (Gallagher 1999: 87).


12. Gallagher wants to claim the historicity of 2 Kings 18:17-19:37 and he feels that they  accurately record events in 701 BCE. http://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/2797_1084.pdf


13. He counted the plagues as genuine. He discounted the number as historically false and also the mention of Tirhaka as an anachronism for the year 701 BCE. Here is a very crucial crack in Gallagher's analysis and method of analysis. Crucial aspects of history from Egypt that supports the Tirhaka statement, is brushed aside as legendary.


14. Gallagher dismissed the viability of the Two-Campaign Theory (Gallagher 1991: 8-9). He clearly said that he will not discuss it. This is basically putting the Bible out of the  picture for a proper discussion. 


15. Gallagher sources included Assyrian annals, bulls, reliefs; biblical sources: 2 Kings  18-19 and Isaiah 36-37 as well as 2 Chronicles 32; also Greek sources like Josephus, and  Herodotus; and of course, archaeological sources. Gallagher is convinced that "all the sources can be used to produce a coherent picture of the war" (Gallagher 1991: 2). The problem is, how coherent is Gallagher when he dismiss Tirhaka data from the biblical source as an anachronims and thus leave out Egyptian evidence from the discussion?


16. How coherent can a position be if the historian is omitting a major solution to the harmonizing of all sources (Two-campaign Theory) as well as denying the historicity of  certain data in the biblical sources he is using?


17. Gallagher argued against modern scholars (like B. Childs 1973) allocation of Source A for 2 Kings 18:13-16) and Source B (2 Kings 18:17-19:37) but contends that the B source is not two parallel stories B1 of 2 Kings 18:17-19:9a, Isaiah 36-37; and B2 2 Kings 19:9b-35.  He feels that the differences are too large to do that. The entire B source in his opinion should be considered a sequential narrative of the developing political and military crisis.


18. It is very important to highlight the Two-Campaign Theory (which this researcher Van Wyk is also endorsing) here: We do not have two sources of one event but two sources of two accounts brought together, not mistakenly but placed sequentially. First event was in 701 BCE and the Second Event in 689-688 BCE. The first event recorded Hezekiah surrendering and the second event recorded Hezekiah's rebellion. The first event is in 2 Kings 18:13-16 and the second event is in 2 Kings 18:17-19:37. In this way, Gallagher is right, it is not parallel stories of one event in 701 BCE and his complaint that there are too many differences is correct. Modern scholars are wrong in this point. But, Gallagher is wrong in trying to scoop all up for one event only, namely in 701 BCE.


19. Brevard Childs divided the biblical sources regarding the campaign of Sennacherib in  1967 into two Sources which has captured the attention of scholars for four decades: Source A (2 Kings 18:13-16) which he sees as a unified narrative as annalistic in origin; Source B1 (2 Kings 18:17-19a; and Isaiah 36-37) as well as Source B2 (2 Kings 19:9b-35) which he considered more heterogeneous, based upon a legendary source and overly reflecting Deuteronomistic theology (JEDP theories) which has exilic touches of Deutero-Isaiah (B. Childs, Isaiah and the Assyrian Crisis. Studies in Biblical Theology. Second Series no. 3 [London: SCM Press, 1967]: 96-99. The ad hoc cutting and pasting method with which this scholar operates strip the biblical source of any historical relevance.


20. Contra Kenneth Kitchen who tries to keep to the historicity of Tirhaka's involvement as mentioned, albeit confused in 701 BCE (!) Gallagher 1991: chapter 8, questions the historicity of Tirhaka here and wants to see it anachronistic.


21. Childs said about Source B1: "The Dtr. redactor of II Kings 19 not only stood within a circle of tradition, but he made creative use of them to illustrate his own theology of history. Once again the author fused older and newer elements into a whole. The B account of the Assyrian threat is brought to a close by the prophecy of retreat and ultimate destruction of the enemy. The fact that the death of Sennacherib occurred some twenty years after his return is lost in his scheme. The impression of the author's being at a considerable distance from the historical events of Sennacherib’s death in 681 is not removed even by historical weight on the mention of Tirkhaka" (Childs 1967: 93).


22. Childs said about Source B2: "To summarize. The analysis of the Bl account has pointed out the highly complex nature of the traditions which make up the account. On the one hand, the study has shown a large layer of the material which reflects ancient tradition with a genuinely historical setting. On the other hand, we have seen also that newer elements have been added into the account and have been formed into a unified story which bears the stamp of the Dtr. author" (Childs 1967: 93).


23. Reading Tirhaka as historical in this text is considered by Childs to be a simple-minded historical reading of the text (Childs 1967: 69-103 above note 10).


24. William Barnes 1986 (in his dissertation from Harvard University on the same topic as  William Gallagher) admit that applying all of the B1 account as straight history at 701 BCE  (e.g. Tirhaka) will bring much haziness (Barnes, 1986: 143). He feels the redactor was apologetic because of the reality that Sennacherib died a terrible death, that Judah was  suffering at his hands, and that Tirhaka later became really dominant 20 years later at  Palestine and Sennacherib declined in power that time and thus added those Egyptian strength  aspects to the story [earlier in 701 BCE] to add to Yahweh's strength and intervention.


25. Whereas Gallagher (1999) believed the Tirhaka event is legendary and an anachronism  Barnes (1986) believed it is a backreading of a real event circumstance (not event) of  Tirhaka's dominance in Palestine over Sennacherib in general.


26. Whereas Gallagher (1999) refused to discuss Tirhaka Barnes (1986) did.


27. Whereas Gallagher (1999) refused to discuss the Two-Campaign Theory, Barnes (1986) did.


28. H. H. Rowley (1962) have rejected the Two-Campaign Theory due to the start of the reign of Hezekiah at the fall of Samaria according to one text in the biblical record (H. H.  Rowley, "Hezekiah's Reform and Rebellion," BJRL 24 [1962]: 395-431). Two-Campaign Theorists like Van Wyk here is pointing out that there are two counting systems for Hezekiah's length of reign. It seems that Ahaz visit to Damascus in 727 BCE upset a group of scribes so much that they started to count the reign of the ruler from his birth [Hezekiah] while others counted it from his ascension. That is why there are two systems in the book of Kings. It is not contradictions and fits in harmoniously. Rowley thought that 2 Kings 18:13 is an error of "14" which should actually be "24". Also Aharoni suggested that. H. Tadmor also wondered about this verse. Tadmor ascribe the uneasiness of the systems to a redactors manipulation, a theory that we do not find attractive. In our dealing it is authentic (H. Tadmor, "The  Chronology of the First Templer Period: A Presentation and Evaluation of the Sources," The World History of the Jewish People, First Series: Ancient Times, The Age of the Monarchies:  Political History. Vol. 4 Part 1. ed. Abraham Malamat [Jerusalem: Massada Press, 1979]:  44-60 and 818-820). 


29. P. Ackroyd in 1974 wrote an article to reject the idea of Childs and felt that the Deuteronomist in this Sennacherib's Third Campaign is trying to foreshadow in the Babylonian  incidents of the envoys, the Babylonian exile, both prophetically and legally (P. Ackroyd, "Babylonian Exile," SJT 27 [1974]: 29-52). This is again a redactional thesis which is highly conjectural.


30. Whatever conjectures are to be used in this issue of the Two-Campaign theory, they are to be uniting the Scriptures harmoniously and sensible without doing injustice to inside and outside biblical sources. The Two-Campaign Theory is the best in this regard.


31. H. Tadmor has indicated that 2 Kings 18:10 equates Hezekiah's sixth year with the fall of Samaria in 723 BCE and that assumes that Hezekiah started to reign in 727/726 BCE. This is correct. Tadmor also pointed out that 2 Kings 18:13 placed the 14th year of Hezekiah in 701 BCE. Here he is also correct. However, Tadmor's explanation of Redactional tampering with the text is not correct. Our Two-counting systems theory is a better solution that keeps the Scripture authentic and intact.


32. William Shea (1985) has advanced the understanding of the Two-Campaign theory by utilizing five important studies:


a. Anshar for Marduk replacement theory

That of Nadav Na'aman BASOR 214 (1974): 25-39 and also VT 29 (1979): 61-86 discussing a join between two cuneiform fragments in the British Museum which he attributed to Sennacherib  (previously it was to Tiglath-Pileser III and Sargon II). There is a problematic spelling of Anshar for the kings god instead of Asshur. This spelling made H. Tadmor in 1958 deny that it should be attributed to Sennacherib. Shea felt that this text should date after 689 when Sennacherib conquered Babylon. The text is coming from Ashurbanipal's library in Niniveh and may be a later copy of the original text which presumably remained in the city of Ashur (view of William Barnes 1986: 165 probably from the advice of W. Moran[?] his teacher). Anshar was especially used in the inscriptions of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal. That is why a later date is posed. Barnes wondered if a later scribe did not substitute the earlier form by a later form in the process of copying. In the Assyrian recension of the Enuma Elish, says Barnes problably through W. Moran(?), there is evidence of a replacement of "Marduk" as "Anshar". The objection of Barnes is actually just a plus to the argument. Anshar is later than 701 BCE and Shea is correct that should the text represent an authentic Sennacherib text, it must be later than 701 BCE. The view of Shea for an Anshar replacement of Marduk after the Babylonian conquest in 689 BCE makes sense.


b. Masor in 2 Kings 19:24 as Sennacherib's irrigation projects until 694 BCE

Hayim Tawil in JNES 41 (1982): 195-206 suggested that the reference to the rivers of Masor  in 2 Kings 19:24 (Isaiah 37:25) should be connected to the Niniveh irrigation project of  Sennacherib. The project was completed by the year 694 BCE. Dating Isaiah then after this event, the rest of the campaign material must have been also later and thus support a possible 689 BCE invasion of Judah by Sennacherib. A very weak counterargument is posed by William Barnes (Barnes 1986: 165 point 2) in which he dismiss the suggestion of Shea (indirectly also Tawil) since relying on Childs he sees it also as an interpolation in  Source B2, and thus "valueless". The cut-paste-wastebasket method of literary criticism cannot do justice to any historical analysis, even if it is a non-biblical source. We reject Barnes objection. 


c. King of Babylon = Sennacherib and the role of Sanduarri or shndwr

Bezazel Porten BA 44 (1981): 36-52 has worked on the Adon Papyrus in the Cairo Museum and found a line of demotic Egyptian on the verso that is a reference to a king of the city of  Ekron. There is a reference of the king of Babylon coming to Aphek in line 4 and they dated it to the time of Nebuchadnezzar. Another scholar (Charles Krahmalkov in BA 44 [1981]:  197-198) had a different view than Porten and dated it to the time of Sennacherib. The letters sn[   ] remained in the last part and Krahamalkov wanted to reconstruct Sennacherib  here. In line 9 the name shndwr is seen as Sanduarri, ruler of Kundu and Sizu who allied himself with the Sidonians against Assyria and who was eventually executed by Esarhaddon in 676 BCE. Shea maintained that if shndwr of the papyrus is indeed to be identified with Sanduarri, then an early seventh century date is preferable to the late eighth century date urged by Krahmalkov. Shea identified the king of Babylon in the text with Sennacherib himself whereas Krahmalkov identified him with Merodach Baladan. We know that when Sargon took Babylon he placed his own son Sennacherib on the throne in 707 BCE two years before Sennacherib became ruler of Assyria. After becoming ruler of Assyria there were on and off events with the rebel trying to regain lost territory. A knowledge of Sennacherib as "king of Babylon" is thus very possible. There is nothing odd to it.


d. Lachish chariot of Judah compare to Assyrian fashion which needs time to imitate

Julian Reade indicated in an article on "Mesopotamian Guidelines for Biblical Chronology" Syro-Mesopotamian Studies 4 (1981): 1-9, that the chariot on the Lachish scene at Niniveh compares very well to the Assyrian models of the same period. shea argued that imitating models and fashion would take time and having seen the Assyrian ones in 701 BCE would have given the governor enough time to let his Judeaean artisans imitate a similar one available at the Second Campaign against Judah in 689 BCE.


e. Tirhaka with his Syro-Palestine military problems text

Anthony Spalinger in CdE 53 (1978): 22-47 discussed a publication of Pascal Vernus of a Karnak text of Thutmosis III's annals which was inscribed on the back by a text of Tirhaka  and it seems that there was probably some problems in his campaign in Syro-Palestine (column 16). Some details are obscure. Shea indicate that there is no evidence of a Palestine campaign of Tirhaka during Esarhaddon in 679 and 677 and thus Shea suggested that this must be a reference to the 689 BCE campaign against Sennacherib. Barnes objected against this conclusion of Shea by saying that 2 Kings 19:9 indicated that Tirhaka have truimphed.


33. If one consider the dilemmas in the Assyrian cuneiform sources of Sargon II and Sennacherib there are three alternatives in this issue. Scholars are left to select among three possibilities in this dilemma and its discussions:


1. To accept only the Assyrian counting system, or one counting system, as representative of the reality and as the only one operating in the texts. This will imply that the texts don't mean what they say or it would mean that human error was even reduplicated (canonized?). As a result the Babylonian King List A IV 12-15 is computed under the Assyrian counting system and the evidence from the Bellino cylinder K 1680 and its duplicate BM 123412 should be glossed over. The Biblical text is maybe sometimes correct but some cuneiform texts are just wrongly written (J. Brinkman, L. Levine, etc).

2. To accept only the Assyrian counting system as representative of reality and as the only system operating in the texts. The texts are accepted to have ambiguous data. The Bellino text and its duplicate should have priority over the Babylonian King List. This will imply a revolution/reform of the data to 703/2 B.C. for the third campaign and the conventional Biblical computations as 701 B.C. should be ignored (so S. Timm).

3. To accept Van Wyk’s suggestion of two or more counting systems as legitimately operating from two centers: Assyria and Babylon. To view the Nimrud Prism mentioning the 9th Palu for the same event that is the 11th Palu in the Khorsabad Annals as evidence of these two systems. To accept the fact that the Babylonian King List's scribe would have counted the years of Sennacherib not from the death of his father, but from the date it is assumed that his father made him the ruler of Babylon. It is not the purpose of the Babylonian King List to be an estimation for the start or end of the reign of a king. Instead, the years a ruler (Assyrian or Babylonian, king, governor or rebel) ruled over Babylon are given. There is no need to play the cuneiform texts off against each other, ignore one text and magnify another one. The traditional Biblical computation for the date of the third campaign as 701 B.C. is still functional and not in conflict with the cuneiform texts. However, a balance of all data of the biblical text will demand another Second Campaign later by Sennacherib against Jerusalem circa 689 BCE.

K. van Wyk “Moabite Seals and Historical Gleanings” in Squatters in Moab. Berrien Center: Louishester publications, 1996, page 173ff.


34. It is interesting how the Third Campaign is described in Niniveh. In ANET is a translation of it by Pritchard for those who cannot read Akkadian. The kings of Amurru is simply listed: Menahem of Samaria; Tubalu of Sidon; Abdiliti of Arvad; Urumilki of Gubal (= Byblos); Mitinti of Ashdod; Budu-ilu of the house of Ammon; Kammusu-of Moab; Malik-rammu the Edomite. They are all nicely listed one under the other. But when it comes to Hezekiah the situation is more complex. One can find the name of Hezekiah surrounded by more description in Column II lines 66 until Column III line 2. It will not be wrong in my opinion to suggest that Hebrew composed this. He placed Hezekiah’s name in the middle of the description. In Lines II:36 and III:2 the verb is made the same. These verbs are placed at the end of the sentence to catch the eye. He attempted to connect the two sentences by arranging it this way visually. He did the same with lines 69 and 82 by placing the name of the country at the end of the sentence with a copulative at the end in cuneiform. Lines 71 and 80 is also arranged. Lines 72 and 81. Lines 73 and 79 are very similar. Lines 75 and 77 are both titles of gods, or AN = Dingir placed at the same spot in the sentence relative to each other and binding the two sentences thus also visually. In line 76 remaining, right in the center of all this, working down systematically from both outer borders of the field, Hezekiah is placed center. Why? A bird in a cage. His name is given and that he is the King of Judah. All the links thus strap Hezekiah in a captive position in the center. There is a chiastic structure used here for visual display that is not seen with elsewhere with the other kings of this Third Campaign.


35. The reality of the Hezekiah seal.


Drawing by Koot van Wyk 28th of March 2019


35. My conclusion is very clear: As long as scholars are ignoring the data of the Scriptures as trustworthy, as authentic data, they are bound to run into problems.






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