The original version of this article was published many years ago on the old Kingscalendar site under the title Hezekiah King of Judah. It has been reedited for presentation on the new KingsCalendar Website.
The issue of the reigns of King Ahaz and his successor King Hezekiah of Judah and King Hoshea of Israel (Samaria) is actually extremely important in terms of Bible Chronology, because the Biblical texts create a lot of confusion for scholars trying to work out exactly what happened and when.
Between the end of King Uzziah’s reign, and 701 BC when Sennacherib invaded Judah during Hezekiah’s 14th year, the Biblical chronological synchronisms make no historical sense, and most scholars simply dispense with them. The King’s Calendar however (What is the King’s Calendar?) sees the chronology as correct, and that the real problem is that the redactors confused the identities of Kings Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah.
Most religious and secular academics have regarded the Biblical chronological data as if it was presented in the same manner as all other Ancient Near Eeastern data and that the biblical data is compiled from the records of the northern kingdom. (The Biblical data differs between the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel). The ‘facts’ that academics question tend to be chronologically related as opposed to ‘narrative related.’
The King’s Calendar demonstrates that the chronological data is recorded from the Southern Kingdom (Judah) perspective; that it is provided in an artificial manner, and that it is actually very accurate. Unfortunately, the redactors either got confused when recording some of the narratives or the original narratives were not precise.
Biblical scepticism combined with mistaking academic opinion for fact has led many a researcher down the wrong track.
There are three important academically accepted ‘factual’ historical determinants that we must keep in mind if we are to understand the Biblical information for this time period. These events are pivotal to all chronologies, since historians insist that they and their given dates are unalterably fixed.
1. The death/replacement of Pekah shortly after the Fall of Damascus in 732 BC (Refer to Miller,J.M., Hayes,J.M. 1986 A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. USA. Westminster Press.p.332)
The date for the fall of Damascus is ‘fixed’ and cannot be changed. However, the actual details regarding the death of Pekah of Israel and the succession of his replacement Hoshea, are not known. In other words, there exists no details of exactly when these two events ‘actually’ occurred, other than they occurred in conjunction with the Fall of Damascus.
2. The Fall of Samaria in 722 BC (See Jagersma,H. 1983 A History of Israel in the Old Testament Period. Philadelphia. Fortress Press pp159-160)
This date is also fixed, and once again, there are no exact details regarding when precisely Hoshea was taken captive. The Biblical narratives are not as clear as they could have been and are open to interpretation. (Hoshea’s reign can be terminated in 724 BC and 722 BC, depending on how you interpret the Data.)
3. The significance of the year 701 BC, as Hezekiah’s Fourteenth (14th) regnal year.
2 Kings 18:13 informs us that it was in the 14th year of King Hezekiah that he was besieged by Sennacherib of Assyria. This is known to have occurred in 701 BC. One problem however is that the Bible also records that Hoshea’s last year (722 BC) was Hezekiah’s 6th year. That would make 701 BC his 27th year.
732 BC Damascus Falls – The King’s Calendar Perspective
If you check the history books, you discover that there is no actual evidence at all as to when Pekah of Israel was killed, and when exactly Hoshea commenced. Different academics view the historical situation in different ways. The King’s Calendar synchronisation of reigns determines that Hoshea commenced his reign toward the end of 731 BC, and reigned nine solar years, commencing his last year in Nisan (Mar/Apr) of 722 BC.
The King’s Calendar demonstrates that the biblical synchronisms are correct, but that the identification of three kings is erroneous.
The King’s Calendar Perspective is that Hoshea ascended the throne of Israel in 731 BC which was Pekah’s Fourteenth (14th) Artificial year and Jotham’s (of Judah) Twelfth (12th) ‘Solar’ year.
Hoshea’s first regnal year is 730 BC and he reigned nine (9) solar years (not artificial years) commencing his last year in Nisan of 722 BC, (through to Nisan of 721 BC).
On the Chart below you can see a thick blue line across the top of the year 731 BC
1. On the right it shows that Hoshea ascends in the 14th year of Pekah
2. On the left it shows (in green) the 12th Solar year of Jotham
3. On the far left you will note another column in pink.
This shows Jotham’s 20th year that is a discussion for another time)
This synchronism from Appendix Five: demonstrates clearly that it was Ahaz not Hezekiah ruling in the time of Hoshea.
722 BC Samaria (Israel) Falls
Kings Names change, but the chronology remains correct
The King’s Calendar Perspective
2 Kings 18:9-10 informs us that there was a three year siege of Samaria
Commencing in Hoshea’s 7th year,
Ending in his 9th year,
And synchronises these ‘Solar’ years with Hezekiah’s 4th and 6th ‘Solar’ years.
The ‘King’s Calendar’ however, demonstrates, that this event did not occur during Hezekiah’s reign, but during Ahaz’ reign, and the chronological synchronisation is correct, although it is provided not in ‘artificial’ years, but in true solar years, for both kings.
The 4th and 6th solar years of Ahaz, correspond to the 7th and 9th solar years of Hoshea. On the Chart above you can see on the right a thick red line indicating Hoshea’s 7th to 9th years which correspond to the siege of Samaria. On the far left is a blue line indicating the artificial years of Ahaz’ reign and the green line indicates the Solar year equivalence. (Note the two artificial years at 727 BC)
Historical Fact: The Seige of Samaria commenced under Sargon II, in 724 BC and was completed by Sennacherib in 722 BC.
When did Hezekiah Commence to rule?
On the chart above you can see a thick blue line on the left indicating the 7th to 15th artifical year reign of Ahaz. (The Bible says it was 16 years – but that is for another discussion.)
Hezekiah commenced to reign subsequent to December of 715 BC
His First Solar year commenced in Nisan of 714 BC
His first artificial year commenced in November of 714 BC
Hezekiah’s 14th year 701 BC
The King’s Calendar Demonstrates that:
1. From the perspective of both Solar and Artificial years, 701 BC is Hezekiah’s 14th year. (See the thick red lines in the chart above)
2. Hezekiah’s 14th Artificial year commences in November 702 BC and runs until October 701 BC
3. Hezekiah’s 14th Solar year commences in Nisan of 701 BC and runs until Nisan of 700 BC
4. March/April of 701 BC until October of 701 BC is Hezekiah’s 14th year in both Solar and Artificial Calendars.
It is over these three matters that many religious and secular academics are in disagreement and it is not surprising. If you know the history for this period then I need not explain it and if you don’t know, then you had better go read up on it.
It is the contention of the King’s Calendar that King Hezekiah of Judah rebelled twice: once in 714 BC and then again in 701 BC. It is my belief that the redactors were as confused as anybody else as to the exact situation of the times. This is probably because they had already confused the names of Jotham and Ahaz.
The King’s Calendar research would indicate that Hezekiah appears to have commenced his reign by rebelling against the Assyrian Overlord Sargon II. In 2 Kings Chapters 18 & 19 we see a composite account of two different rebellions. The first is of Sargon’s Ashdod Campaign 714 BC – 712 BC. The second is of Sennacherib’s invasion in 701 BC.
Sargon’s Ashdod Campaign 714 BC – 712 BC : The Historical & Archaeological Data
1. The Ashdod Campaign lasted 3 years.
2. Judah was involved
3. Jerusalem was not besieged
4. Judah was not attacked
The prophecy of 2 Kings 19:29-34 states that:
1. The sign of the prophecy’s fulfilment is the three year harvest promise:
in the first year : eat what grows of itself,
in the second: what springs from the same,
in the third: sow, reap, and plant vineyards
2. The Assyrian King would not besiege Jerusalem nor shoot an arrow there
3. The King of Assyria would return home by the way in which he came.
This prophecy does not fit Sennacherib’s 701 BC campaign, but fits well with the Ashdod Campaign.
Sennacherib’s 701 BC campaign against Jerusalem – Archaeological/historical record.
1. Jerusalem was besieged
2. The Assyrians withdrew unexpectedly from the siege
3. Hezekiah subsequently paid tribute to Sennacherib.
4. The tribute was a ‘usual’ one, paid under normal circumstances.
5. Sennacherib retreated from Pelusium, because of mice and/or plague.
The Biblical Narrative 2 Kings 18 & 19, provides the following data:
1 Sennacherib came against the fortified cities of Judah in the 14th year of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:13)
2 The Rabshakeh came from Lachish with an army (2 Kings 18:17)
3 The Rabshakeh left for Libnah (2 Kings 19:8 )
4 Tirhakah of Ethiopia prepared to battle Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:9)
5 Some dramatic event caused Sennacherib to return home (2 Kings 19:35)
6 At some stage Hezekiah offered tribute to lift the siege (2 Kings 18:15)
The event as described here fits well with what is known of Sennacherib’s activities at this time.
TWO DIFFERENT EVENTS:
It is feasible to conclude that the biblical narrative that purports to relate to Sennacherib’s campaign of 701 BC, is actually a composite of materials sourced in two campaigns, those of Sargon (714 BC), and Sennacherib (701 BC). If we accept this application, we can deconstruct some of the Biblical Narrative, to provide the following picture.
A) 2 Kings 19:20-34 : The Ashdod Campaign.
This is a ‘prophetic word’ given in relation to Sargon’s Ashdod Campaign, relating that while the King of Assyria (not Sennacherib as mentioned) and his activities will be locally present for three (3) years, he will return home to Assyria without invading Judah or besieging Jerusalem. (See also Isaiah 20:1 in relation to ‘three years.’) As such, it is historically accurate.
In as much as it is implicitly stated to refer to Sennacherib’s invasion in 701 BC, it is incorrect in reference to a siege, and it is not accurate in depicting Sennacherib’s presence for three (3) years.
B) 2 Kings 18:13-16 : Summary of Sennacherib’s 701 BC Campaign.
i) Sennacherib’s campaign commences.
ii) Hezekiah’s request for the siege to be lifted
iii) Hezekiah’s offer of tribute.
iv) Cost of tribute announced
v) The tribute is met.
This text provides us with a summary of events. As such it is not meant to be detailed. It is from verse Seventeen (2 Kings 18:17) that the details are provided, and reference to Egypt seems more appropriate to the scenario in 701 BC, than the Ashdod Campaign. (But note also Isaiah 20:1)
C) 2 Kings 18:17 to 2 Kings 19:20 : Details of Sennacherib’s Campaign
i) The Campaign commences
ii) The Rabshakeh sent to lay siege to Jerusalem
iii) The Rabshakeh announces terms
iv) The Terms are rejected
v) The Rabshakeh goes to Libnah
vi) Tirhakah prepares to battle Sennacherib (24)
vii) 2 Kings 19:35-36 – An unusual event causes Sennacherib to return home
From the perspective offered above, we see that 2 Kings 19:20-34 which textually appears within the context of Sennacherib’s 701 BC campaign, is more likely to have been derived from material relating to the Ashdod Campaign. This concept however ought not to be ‘confined’ to specifically identifiable verses. If the material is drawn from two different accounts, then it is a forgone conclusion that the narrative between 2 Kings 18:17 and 2 Kings 19:20 which favours Sennacherib’s invasion, will contain details relevant to the Ashdod campaign.
From the time that Uzziah fell ill and was replaced by Jotham, until Hezekiah’s 14th year in 701 BC, Biblical Chronology provides a completely confused chronological situation. The reason why no one has been able to sort it out is fourfold.
Firstly, the chronology is provided from within an Artificial Chronological framework.
Secondly, the narrative confuses, Jotham & Ahaz and Ahaz and Hezekiah
See: Problematical Biblical Chronology
Thirdly, academics have relied upon the chronological details for the Northern Kingdom not the Southern Kingdom.
Fourthly, Biblical narratives have fused two stories in relation to Sargon’s Ashdod campaign in 714 BC and that of Sennacherib in 701 BC
The examination of the reign of Hezekiah is by no means complete, but time and space does not permit it here. Hezekiah’s sickness, his healing, the reign of Merodach Baladan, and the chronological calculations for the time period between the end of his reign (various ideas on this one) and the fall of Judah have still to be dealt with.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and have taken something from it.
Other articles you might like to read on the old site: