Searching for Sargon
A favorite argument against the Bible’s inspiration comes from the silence of the archaeological record. On more than one occasion, skeptics have accused the Bible of making a mistake regarding a person, place, or thing simply because no archaeological evidence has been uncovered corroborating the statement found in the Bible. Such was the case regarding the sole mention of Sargon, King of Assyria. In Isaiah 20:1, the prophet said: “In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, when Sargon the King of Assyria sent him, and he fought against Ashdod and took it.”
For many years, skeptics insisted that the biblical writer must be mistaken. After all, many inscriptions and archaeological finds from the Assyrian Empire had been found, yet not a single one of them mentioned the Sargon of Isaiah 20. In fact, a well-known list of Assyrian kings conspicuously omitted Sargon (Wilson, 1999, 3:78). But in 1843, Paul Emile Botta dealt the deathblow to this argument. Acting on information he had received about the small village of Khorsabad, Iraq, Botta began searching for ancient bricks with cuneiform writing on them. Not only did he find a rich cache of such bricks, but he also stumbled upon one of the most magnificent finds in archaeological history. Occupying the entire side of a hill, buried under centuries of dirt, stood the remains of King Sargon’s palace. This palace was of such size that it has been described as “probably the most significant palace the world has ever seen, covering an area of more than twenty-five acres.” Among the ruins, Sargon left numerous inscriptions detailing his military conquests. Not the least among those inscriptions was a particularly revealing inscription discussing his actions against Ashod, the very city mentioned in Isaiah 20:1.
Needless to say, skeptics no longer accuse Isaiah of a historical discrepancy regarding Sargon. The more we uncover the past, the more we uncover the truth—the Bible is indeed the Word of God.
Wilson, Clifford and Barbara (1999), The Bible Comes Alive (Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Press).