Who was Sargon? And does it matter?

The name Sargon is mentioned in Isaiah chapter 20, verse 1 :

“In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it;”
This was not only the sole reference to Sargon in the Bible, but the only reference to him anywhere!

Critics waxed eloquent in condemning the Bible for such a blunder of inventing an Assyrian monarch who never existed. Many are quick to find fault with the Bible but are extremely disappointed and disturbed when, time and time again, it is they who are proven wrong.

In 1842, Botta discovered the ruins of Sargon’s palace, in Khorsabad, on the north edge of Nineveh, with treasures and inscriptions showing him to have been one of Assyria’s greatest kings. Abundant historical materials concerning his reign have come down to us. Remains of the walls which he built, colossal carved bulls covered with inscriptions, tools, palace utensils, and beautifully inscribed prisms have all been found in different parts of Assyria, and all bear their witness to his glory and success. Yet his name had disappeared from history, save this lone mention in Isaiah, till Botta’s initial discovery.

From various records it is learned that Shalmaneser died while besieging Samaria, and that he was succeeded by Sargon, who completed the capture. Furthermore, verifying the statement in Isaiah 20:1, an inscription says:

“Azuri, king of Ashdod, plotted in his heart not to pay tribute. In my anger I marched against Ashdod … I conquered Ashdod, and Gath. I took their treasures and their people. My tartan I set over them as governor.”
Thus the records of Sargon have been extracted from the dust of centuries to confirm the Bible statement that he sent his Tartan, (Assyrian commander-in-chief).

Yes, it does matter. Sargon is yet another marvellous example of the truth and reliability of God’s Word.


By Pr. Darryl Williams