Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, recorded his invasion of Judah on a prism. It reads: “As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke…. Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage.”* The Bible’s account of this incident is found in 2 Kings 18:13-19:37, 2 Chronicles 32:1-22, and Isaiah 36:1-37:36.
The mighty Sennacherib claimed to have laid siege to 46 of Judah’s strong cities and countless villages according to his own account. But in laying siege to Jerusalem, Sennacherib’s officer boasted of being stronger than Jehovah. Lord Byron’s poem recounts the outcome of this boast.
The Destruction of Sennacherib
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay wither’d and strown.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he pass’d;
And the eyes of the sleepers wax’d deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still!
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there roll’d not the breath of his pride:
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentiles, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!
God’s decisive battle was fought at Calvary. In the remaining time are the mopping up skirmishes between good and evil. We have been left to pray and to work: “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But make no mistake: God is in control. At times, I need to be reminded that the mere glance of the Lord is stronger than all of God’s enemies.
*Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 288.