ESAR-HADDON [Assur-akhi-iddina, "Assur has given a brother"], Assyrian king, son of Sennacherib; before his accession to the throne he had also borne another name, Assur-etil-ilani-yukin-abla. At the time of his father's murder (the 20th of Tebet, 681 B.C.) he was commanding the Assyrian army in a war against Ararat. The conspirators, after holding Nineveh for 42 days, had been compelled to fly northward and invoke the aid of the king of Ararat. On the 12th of Iyyar (680 B.C.) a decisive battle was fought near Malatia, in which the veterans of Assyria won the day, and at the close of it saluted Esar-haddon as king. He returned to Nineveh, and on the 8th of Sivan was crowned king. A good general, Esar-haddon was also an able and conciliatory administrator. His first act was to crush a rebellion among the Chaldaeans in the south of Babylonia and then to restore Babylon, the sacred city of the West, which had been destroyed by his father. The walls and temple of Bel were rebuilt, its gods brought back, and after his right to rule had been solemnly acknowledged by the Babylonian priesthood Esar-haddon made Babylon his second capital. A year or two later Media was invaded and Median chiefs came to Nineveh to offer homage to their conqueror. He now turned to Palestine, where the rebellion of Abdi-milkutti of Zidon was suppressed, its leader beheaded, and a new Zidon built out of the ruins of the older city (676-675 B.C.). All Palestine now submitted to Assyria, and 12 Syrian and 10 Cyprian princes (including Manasseh of Judah) came to pay him homage and supply him with materials for his palace at Nineveh. But a more formidable enemy had appeared on the Assyrian frontier (676 B.C.). The Cimmerii (see Scythia) under Teuspa poured into Asia Minor; they were, however, overthrown in Cilicia, and the Cilician mountaineers who had joined them were severely punished. It was next necessary to secure the southern frontier of the empire. Esar-haddon accordingly marched into the heart of Arabia, to a distance of about 900 m., across a burning and waterless desert, and struck terror into the Arabian tribes. At last he was free to complete the policy of his predecessors by conquering Egypt, which alone remained to threaten Assyrian dominion in the West. Baal of Tyre had transferred his allegiance from Esar-haddon to the Egyptian king Tirhaka and opened to the latter the coast road of Palestine; leaving a force, therefore, to invest Tyre, Esar-haddon led the main body of the Assyrian troops into Egypt on the 5th of Adar, 673 B.C. The desert was crossed with the help of the Arabian sheikh. Egypt seems to have submitted to the invader and was divided into twenty satrapies. Another campaign, however, was needed before it could be finally subdued. In 670 B.C. Esar-haddon drove the Egyptian forces before him in 15 days (from the 3rd to the 18th of Tammuz) all the way from the frontier to Memphis, thrice defeating them with heavy loss and wounding Tirhaka himself. Three days after Memphis fell, and this was soon afterwards followed by the surrender of Tyre and its king. In 668 B.C. Egypt again revolted, and while on the march to reduce it Esar-haddon fell ill and died on the 10th of Marchesvan. His empire was divided between his two sons Assur-bani-pal and Samas-sum-yukin, Assur-bani-pal receiving Assyria and his brother Babylonia, an arrangement, however, which did not prove to be a success. Esar-haddon was the builder of a palace at Nineveh as well as of one which he erected at Calah for Assur-bani-pal.
AUTHORITIES - E.A.W. Budge, History of Esarhaddon (1880); E. Schrader, Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek, ii. (1889) (Abel and Winckler in ii. pp. 120-153); G. Maspero, Passing of the Empires, pp. 345 sqq.; F. von Luschan, "Ausgrabungen in Sendschirli," i. (Mitteilungen aus den orientalischen Sammlungen, 1893).
(A. H. S.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)