Book Details

Author  Archibald Henry Sayce
Publication Date   June 3, 2012
Pages  102


The Rev. Archibald Henry Sayce (25 September 1846 - 4 February 1933), was a pioneer British Assyriologist and linguist, who held a chair as Professor of Assyriology at the University of Oxford from 1891 to 1919.

Chapter I. The Life of Isaiah
Chapter II. Egypt in the Age of Isaiah
Chapter III. Assyria
Chapter IV. Syria and Israel
Chapter V. Political Parties in Judah

Appendix :
I. Translations from the fragments of Tiglath-Pileser’s Annals
II. Translations from the Inscriptions of Sargon
III. Translation of Sennacherib’s account of his Campaign against Judah

In the following pages an attempt has been made to bring before the modern reader a picture of the external and internal politics of the Jewish kingdom in the age of Isaiah, one of the most important epochs and turning-points in the religious history and training of the Chosen Race. The materials for drawing such a picture are derived partly from the Old Testament, partly from the monuments of Egypt and Assyria, which in these our days have thrown so vivid and unexpected a light upon the earlier history of the Bible. Without them, indeed, the present book could never have been written. It is with their assistance that the pages of the sacred record have been supplemented and illustrated, and the course of events which seemed such a puzzle to the scholars of a former generation has been traced in its broad outlines. The contemporaries of Isaiah have ceased to be mere names to us, and have become living men of flesh and blood; we can not only read the very words of Tiglath Pileser, of Sargon, and of Sennacherib, but even handle the very documents which they caused to be inscribed. We can sit at the councils of the Assyrian kings and follow the reasons which brought them into contact with the rulers of Judah. A world which had seemed hopelessly past and dead has in the good providence of God been suddenly quickened into life.

It was inevitable that in this reconstruction of the past we should have to modify or renounce many theories and interpretations of Holy Writ which have long prevailed in default of better knowledge. It was so when modern astronomy swept away the old theory which placed the earth in the centre of the universe; it was equally so when geology showed that the earth was far older than had hitherto been believed. All new knowledge necessarily obliges us to correct and modify our earlier conceptions; and nowhere is this more the case than in the domain of history, where too often the chain of events that has been preserved for us consists only of a few broken links.
There is one point in particular in which the inscriptions of Assyria have come to the aid of the student of the Old Testament Scriptures. The chronology of the later kings of Samaria and the contemporary Kings of Judah has long been the despair of the historian. Rival schemes of chronology have been put forward, each claiming to be the only accurate or possible one. Interregna have been invented for which there is no warrant in the Books of Kings, and texts have been combined or dissociated from one another according to the fancy of the writer. The decipherment of the cuneiform tablets has at last set the question at rest.

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