e-sar-had'-on ('ecar-chaddon; Assyrian Asur-ach-iddina, "Ashur hath given a brother"): During his lifetime, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, made his favorite son, Esarhaddon (680-668 BC), the viceroy of Babylon; and although he was not the eldest son, he decreed that he should become the legal heir to the throne of Assyria. Sennacherib, having been slain in 681, apparently by two of his sons, who are called in the Old Testament Adrammelech and Sharezer (2 Ki 19:37), Esarhaddon proceeded to Nineveh, where the rebellion which followed the death of his father collapsed, having existed for about a month and a half. The Old Testament informs us that the murderers of his father fled to Armenia. This is corroborated by the inscriptions which say that at Melid, in the land of Hanirabbat, which can be said to be in Armenia, Esarhaddon fought the rebels and defeated them; whereupon he was proclaimed king. His father had been so displeased with Babylon that he had attempted to annihilate the city by making it a swamp. Esarhaddon, however, having been infatuated with the ancient culture of the Babylonians, adopted a conciliatory attitude toward the people. Immediately he planned to restore the city on magnificent proportions. The foundations of his work were laid with impressive ceremonies, and in every way he endeavored to ameliorate the inhabitants by his gracious deeds. Even at Nippur evidences of his work in restoring the ancient shrine of Ellil are seen. The kings of the West who became his vassals, among them being Manasseh of Judah, were required to furnish building materials for his operations in Babylonia. His work in that land explains why the Judean king was incarcerated at Babylon (2 Ch 33:11) instead of Assyria.
Esarhaddon was first compelled to defend the kingdom against the inroads of the hordes from the North. The Gimirra (perhaps referring to Gomer of the Old Testament), who were called Manda, seemed to pour into the land. A decisive victory was finally gained over them, and they were driven back into their own country. Afterward, the Medes and the Chaldeans were also subjugated. He then directed his attentions toward the West. Sidon having revolted against Assyria, Esarhaddon laid siege to the city, which after three years was finally captured and destroyed. He built another city upon the same site, which he called Kar-Esarhaddon, and endeavored to revive its commerce. And, as is mentioned in Ezr 4:2; compare 10, he repopulated the city (Samaria) with captives from Elam and Babylonia.
The capture of Tyre was also attempted, but, the city being differently situated, a siege from the land was insufficient to bring about submission, as it was impossible to cut off the commerce by sea. The siege, after several years, seems to have been lifted. Although on a great monolith Esarhaddon depicts Ba`al, the king of Tyre, kneeling before him with a ring through his lips, there is nothing in the inscriptions to bear this out.
His work in Canaan was preparatory to his conquest of Egypt. Tirhakah, the Ethiopian king of Egypt, was attacked on the borders, but no victory was gained. Several years later he crossed the borders and gained a decisive victory at Iskhupri. He then proceeded to lay siege to Memphis, which soon capitulated; and Egypt, to the confines of Nubia, surrendered to Assyria. Esarhaddon reorganized the government, and even changed the names of the cities. Necoh was placed over the 22 princes of the land. In 668, Egypt revolted and Esarhaddon, while on his way to put down the revolt, died. He had arranged that the kingdom be divided between two of his sons: Ashurbanipal was to be king of Assyria, and Shamash-shum-ukin was to reign over Babylonia. The nobles decreed, however, that the empire should not be divided, but Shamash-shum-ukin was made viceroy of Babylonia.
A. T. Clay