Esar-haddon states that, prior to his father’s death, he had already been selected as heir apparent (after due consultation of the gods and liver-divination), and he seems to have served as viceroy at Babylon before becoming king of Assyria. Following his father’s assassination, Esar-haddon tells of pursuing the murderers to Armenia (the “land of Ararat,” 2 Ki. 19:37), where he defeated them. His official reign is considered to have lasted twelve years.
Early in his reign Esar-haddon began the restoration of Babylon, which Sennacherib had destroyed. The temple of Esagila was restored and, of the city itself, Esar-haddon says: “Babylon I built anew, I enlarged, I raised aloft, I made magnificent.”
His records recount military operations against the Gimirrai or Cimmerians, believed to be the descendants of Gomer. (Compare Genesis 10:2; Ezekiel 38:6.) He also sacked the city of Sidon, setting up a new city on a nearby site, which he named Kar—Esar-haddon. In one of his inscriptions he lists some twenty vassal kings, including Manasseh of Judah (Menasi king of Yaudi).
The record at 2 Chronicles 33:10-13 shows that Manasseh was captured by “the chiefs of the army that belonged to the king of Assyria” and taken to Babylon. In the past some have thought this reference to Babylon to be in error, considering Nineveh to be the place to which Manasseh would be taken. However, as has been seen, Esar-haddon, whose inscriptions show him to have been contemporaneous with Manasseh, had rebuilt Babylon and is said to have been “much less interested than any other Assyrian king in the embellishment of his capital, Nineveh.” (The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 2, page 125) If it was during Esar-haddon’s reign that Manasseh was captured, there would be nothing incongruous about his being taken to Babylon, about whose restoration Esar-haddon so proudly boasted. It may be noted, however, that Esar-haddon’s son Ashurbanipal also makes reference to Manasseh as tributary during his reign.
THE “SIXTY-FIVE YEARS”
At the time of the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem some of the non-Israelite inhabitants of the land referred to their having been brought to Palestine by “Esar-haddon the king of Assyria.” (Ezra 4:2) That the Assyrian transplantation of people to and from Palestine continued till his reign is viewed by some as a clue to the understanding of the period of “sixty-five years” stated at Isaiah 7:8 with regard to the desolation of Ephraim (with its capital at Samaria). The interval extending from the reign of Tiglath-pileser III (who initiated the deportation of people from the northern kingdom of Israel shortly after Isaiah’s prophecy) to that of Esar-haddon would allow for such a sixty-five-year period until the complete ‘shattering to pieces’ of Ephraim “so as not to be a people.”
CONQUEST OF EGYPT, AND ESAR-HADDON’S DEATH
Esar-haddon’s outstanding military accomplishment was the conquest of Egypt, overcoming the Egyptian army under Ethiopian ruler Tirhakah (mentioned as the “king of Ethiopia” at 2 Kings 19:9) and taking the city of Memphis. Esar-haddon thus added to his many titles that of “King of the kings of Egypt.”
Although Esar-haddon organized Egypt into districts and placed Assyrian governors over the princes of these districts, within a couple of years revolt developed. The Assyrian king set out on a second campaign to crush the rebellion, but died at Haran while on the way. In his inscriptions Esar-haddon had said: “I am powerful, I am all powerful. I am a hero, I am gigantic, I am colossal.” Yet, like all other imperfect humans, he was shown to be but an enslaved subject of the rule of Kings Sin and Death, who now claimed him.—Compare Psalm 146:3, 4; Ecclesiastes 9:4; Romans 5:21.
Before his death Esar-haddon had made arrangements to ensure a smooth succession to the throne by proclaiming his son Ashurbanipal as crown prince, while assigning another son, Shamash-shum-ukin, as king of Babylon. Thus, upon Esar-haddon’s death, Ashurbanipal became Assyria’s next monarch.
The firstborn of Isaac and Rebekah; the twin brother of Jacob and the forefather of the Edomites. He was given the name Esau because of his unusual hairy appearance at birth, but got the name Edom (red, ruddy) from the red lentil stew for which he sold his birthright.—Gen. 25:25, 26, 30.
Even before the birth of the twins in 1858 B.C.E., when Isaac was sixty years of age, the infants struggled in their mother’s womb. Answering Rebekah’s inquiry concerning the meaning of this, Jehovah revealed to her that two national groups would be separated from her inward parts, and that he older would serve the younger.—Gen. 25:22, 23.
DISDAIN FOR SPIRITUAL MATTERS
Esau became a skilled and adventurous hunter, “a wild man.” Unlike his brother, “blameless” Jacob, Esau was fleshly-minded and materialistic. (Gen. 25:27, NW ftn., 1953 ed.) But Isaac loved Esau, “because it meant game in his mouth.”—Gen. 25.28.
One day Esau, tired and hungry, came along from the field while Jacob was boiling up some stew. At Esau’s request, “Quick, please, give me a swallow of the red—the red there,” Jacob asked him to sell his birthright. Having no appreciation for sacred things, namely, the promise of Jehovah to Abraham respecting the seed through whom all nations of the earth would bless themselves, Esau impetuously, by sworn oath, sold his birthright to Jacob for one meal of lentil stew and bread. By thus despising the birthright, viewing it as of little value, Esau showed a complete lack of faith. He perhaps wanted no part in suffering the fulfillment of God’s word concerning Abraham’s seed: “Your seed will become an alien resident in a land not theirs, and they will have to serve them, and these will certainly afflict them for four hundred years.”—Gen. 15:13; 25:29-34; Heb. 12:16.
At the age of forty Esau made his own arrangements for marriage. By choice he became a polygamist and, unlike his father Isaac, who had let his father Abraham arrange for a wife from the worshipers of Jehovah, Esau took two pagan Hittite women, Judith (Oholibamah?) and Basemath (Adah?), as wives. These women proved to be a source of bitterness of spirit to both Isaac and Rebekah.—Gen. 26:34, 35; 36:2; 24:1-4, 50, 51; see BASEMATH No. 1; JUDITH.
BESTOWAL OF JACOB’S BLESSING
When Isaac was advanced in years he desired to give his blessing to his favorite son Esau and therefore directed Esau to hunt some venison and to make a tasty dish for him. This Esau proceeded to do, though he actually was no longer entitled to the blessing by reason of his having sold his birthright. Thus, he was willing to break his oath-bound covenant made at the sale of the birthright. Consequently, Rebekah intervened, advising Jacob to present himself before his father as Esau and thus procure the blessing that was rightfully his. Since Isaac’s eyes were too dim to see and Jacob was dressed in Esau’s garments, with the skins of kids on his hands and on the hairless part of his neck, Isaac did not recognize him.—Gen. 27:1-23.
No sooner had Isaac finished blessing Jacob than Esau came in from the hunt and proceeded to prepare a tasty dish for his father. On coming in before his father to receive the blessing dishonestly and learning that Isaac had blessed Jacob, “Esau began to cry out in an extremely loud and bitter manner.” Earnestly, but with selfish motive, he sought a blessing from his father, but even his breaking out in tears did not