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Biblical Archaeology Review 46:3, Summer 2020

Epistles: What’s in a Name?: Sennacherib

Biblical Archaeology Review



Sin = “God Sin” | ahhe = “brothers” | eriba = “he replaced”

King Sennacherib, who ruled the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 705 to 681 B.C.E., conquered much of the Kingdom of Judah as a contemporary of King Hezekiah and even laid siege to Jerusalem, in 701 B.C.E. (2 Kings 18-19; 2 Chronicles 32; Isaiah 37). In Akkadian, the lingua franca of much of the ancient Near East during the 25th–8th centuries B.C.E., the name Sennacherib translates as “the god Sin has replaced the brothers,” indicating that he was not the firstborn son of Sargon II and that his elder brothers had all died before he was born. The deity Sin (Nanna, in Sumerian) is the Mesopotamian god of the moon and wisdom; first mentioned in writing in c. 3500 B.C.E., Sin is among the most ancient and prominent deities attested in human history.

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