This name appears in a portion of the book of Ezra (4:10) recorded in Aramaic and is evidently a clipped rendering of the name of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal and, like the Persian, which has no letter l, substitutes an r for the final l. The inhabitants of Susa (capital of Elam) were transplanted to Samaria by Asenappar. (Compare 2Ki 17:24-28.) History shows Ashurbanipal to be the only Assyrian king in position to carry out such action as regards the inhabitants of Elam.
Ashurbanipal was the son of Esar-haddon (Ezr 4:2) and grandson of Sennacherib. He was a contemporary of King Manasseh of Judah (716-662 B.C.E.), whose name is found on a prism of Ashurbanipal listing some 20 kings as tributaries of Assyria. (Compare 2Ch 33:10-13.) Under him, Assyria reached its greatest heights. Apparently appointed as crown prince three or four years earlier, Ashurbanipal took the throne of Assyria upon his father’s death, while his brother, Shamash-shum-u-kin, was the king of Babylon.
Ashurbanipal quelled an uprising in Egypt, conquering and ravaging the city of Thebes (No-amon; compare Na 3:8-10). Later he was engaged in a lengthy conflict with his brother, the king of Babylon, and after subduing Babylon, destroyed Susa, the capital of Elam. It is this conquest that is the historical basis for relating him to Asenappar of Ezra 4:9, 10.
Ashurbanipal is best known, however, for his literary interests, a unique trait among the formidable Assyrian monarchs. Beginning in 1845 C.E., excavations revealed a great library formed by Ashurbanipal at Nineveh, containing some 22,000 clay tablets and texts. In addition to incantations, prayers, and hymns, the thousands of cuneiform writings include treatises on history, geography, astronomy, mathematical tables, medicine, grammar, as well as business documents involving contracts, sales, and loans. They are viewed as a valuable source of information about Assyria.