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The Bible and Archaeology

Why is the Taylor Prism important to biblical studies?

It is important because it supports (with a few variations) an event in the Bible. The event described on the Taylor Prism is King Hezekiah’s routing of the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, and his army. According to II Kings 18, the Assyrians descended on Judah and captured all the fortified cities. Hezekiah pleaded with the Assyrian king to remove his armies. Even after Hezekiah stripped his palace and the temple of gold and silver, and turned all of it over to Sennacherib, Sennacherib refused to leave Judah alone. Hezekiah prayed to God for help. The author of II Kings described what happened next: “That very night the angel of the LORD set out and struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; when morning dawned, they were all dead bodies.” (NRSV, II Kings 19:35) Sennacherib went home and was killed promptly by two of his sons.

Another version of the Taylor Prism, the Sennacherib Prism, is part of the collection at the Oriental Institute in Chicago.


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