Elihu Declares His Opinion, Part 3 of 5 & The Sennacherib Prism


Finger Pointing Up

1. Taylor Prism
Taylor Prism
This clay cylinder was probably made in 691 B.C. and translated by Sir Henry Rawlingson in Persia while he was working for the Brittish museum in 1851.

It describes six years of the Assyrian king “Sennacherib” and his life as a bloody conqueror.

The translation of this cylinder was the first to actually confirm in detail an event in Bible History (2I Kgs 19:36-37 and Is 37:36-37).

Part of what the Assyrians did was to relocate conquered peoples to a new region.

In the case of these captured Judeans it was six hundred miles north and east (Susa Area).

I know You talk to people, like Moses for example, You spoke to him as though it was face-to-face (Ex 33:11-23). 

When You talk to me, even though I understand it, I am unable to explain it to others.  It’s like You are speaking a foreign language that I understand, but can’t speak, nor can I interpret it. 

Aren’t You going to talk to Job?

Elihu Declares His Opinion
Part 3 of 5

Having emphasized the importance of the chastening aspect of suffering, a point mentioned only briefly by Eliphaz (see 5:17), Elihu now moves on to the possibility of redemption based on a mediator.  He further allows for God’s gracious response of forgiveness where sincere repentance is present.

But Elihu is still ignorant of the true nature of Job’s relationship to God, known only in the divine council (chs 1-2).

“If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness: 

2. Sennacherib Prisim
Sennacherib Prisim
Sennacherib’s Annals are the annals of the Assyrian king Sennacherib.

They are found inscribed on a number of artifacts, and the final versions were found in three clay prisms inscribed with the same text: the Taylor Prism is in the British Museum, the Oriental Institute Prism in the Oriental Institute of Chicago, and the Jerusalem Prism is in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

The Taylor Prism is one of the earliest cuneiform artifacts analysed in modern Assyriology, having been found a few years prior to the modern deciphering of cuneiform.

The annals themselves are notable for describing his siege of Jerusalem during the reign of king Hezekiah.

This event is recorded in several books contained in the Bible including Isaiah chapters 33 and 36; 2 Kgs 18:17; 2 Chr 32:9.

There are three known clay prisms in which Sennacherib mentions Hezekiah, king of Judah.

The invasion is mentioned by Herodotus, who does not refer to Judea and says the invasion ended at Pelusium on the edge of the Nile delta.

The prisms contain six paragraphs of cuneiform written Akkadian.

They are hexagonal in shape, made of red baked clay, and stand 38.0 cm high by 14.0 cm wide, and were created during the reign of Sennacherib in 689 B.C. or 691 B.C.

Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.

His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth.

He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.

He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not;

He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light” (Job 33:29-28).

“Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living” (Job 33:29-30).

To bring back his soul from the pit – Elihu teaches that God’s apparent cruelty in chastening human beings is in reality an act of love, since man is never punished in his life in keeping with what he fully deserves (see v 27).

light of the living – Spiritual well-being (see Ps 49:19).  In some contexts the phrase refers to resurrection.

“Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak.

If thou hast anything to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee.

If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom” (Job 33:31-33).

I desire to justify thee – But this will happen, Elihu insists only if Job repents.

The Sennacherib Prism

3. The Jerusalem Prism mentioning Hezekiah
The Jerusalem Prism mentioning Hezekiah. Sennacherib admits in the prism-account that Hezekiah did not submit to his yoke, but was “shut up in Jerusalem” like a caged bird.The Jerusalem Prism, now displayed in the Israel Museum, is perhaps the least well-known of the three documents.

Upon his ascension to the Assyrian throne, Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) had to quell numerous revolts throughout his domain.

The Sennacherib Prism, a monumental text recorded in Akkadian, recounts his campaign to the region now known as Palestine in 701 B.C.

Comparing Biblical accounts (2 Kgs 18:13-22; 2 Chr 32:1-22; Is 36-37) to Assyrian annals and other archaeological data helps us to make sense of the sequence of events:

*Second Chronicles records a massive invasion against the cities in Judah (32:1, 9), and Sennacherib, in his prism, claims to have laid siege to 46 of Hezekiah’s fortified, walled cities and surrounding towns.

*Archaeological data supports these ac­counts, with evidence of widespread destruc­tion throughout Judah (e.g., at Beersheba and Lachish.

+The prism describes, in general terms, Sennacherib’s advance through the coastal cities of Phoenicia and Philistia toward Jerusalem. This ferocious assault, in which he “slew… nobles who had provoked rebellion to and hung their bodies on watchtowers,” vividly illustrated the threats made by the Assyrian messengers (vv. 13-19).

Even so, Sennacherib never claimed to have captured Jerusalem but rather to have “shut up Hezekiah in Jerusalem like a bird in a cage.”  This boast tacitly admits his failure to capture Jerusalem and agrees with the Biblical account.

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