Is there any archaeological evidence verifying the event of an angel killed 185,000 Assyrian troops, which was written in 2 kings 19? I think a mass discovery of 185,000 dead bodies would be overwhelming.


The answer is yes and no.  Let me explain.  The specific thing you are looking for has not been found, nor is it at all likely that it ever would be.  If many people died 2600 years ago, and if the bodies were stripped of their very valuable armor, as they surely would be, then it is not clear that any evidence which could prove such an event could exist.  What would we look for?  The bodies of dead people?  Over the centuries, many hundreds of thousands of people have lived and died at Jerusalem. So, that is the no part of my answer.  There is no direct physical evidence of the death of 185,000 soldiers, nor ought there be such evidence.  Lack of evidence in this case, however, is not evidence it did not happen, especially as it is so unlikely such evidence could be found.
But the answer is also yes.  Yes there is archaeological evidence for this event.  Let me explain.  This evidence is indirect, but it is fairly strong.  Sennacherib left behind a report of his campaign against Judea. The document is in the British Museum.  It is known as the Sennacherib Cyllinder.  Here is a translation of the inscription:

As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke. I laid

siege to 46 of his strong cities, walled forts, and to the

countless small villages in their vicinity.  I drove out of them

200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses,

mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting

and considered  [them] booty.  Himself I made a prisoner in

Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage.

What is interesting about this report by Sennacherib is that he says he conquered all of Judea except Jerusalem. Then he surrounded the city of Jerusalem with his massive army.  He trapped Hezekiah “like a bird in a cage.”  Then the story ends right there.  No more comment.  The question is this: So, what happened next?  Why does the great emperor and general tell us what happened?  Generally ancient rulers only reported on their victories, not their defeats.  It is not much of a stretch for us to join the facts in 2 Kings 18-19 and Isaiah 36-37 with Sennacherib’s account and realize what happened.  He trapped the Jews in Jerusalem, like a bird in a cage, but then his army was mysteriously destroyed.  The two accounts agree in every detail, and the biblical account explains the missing information in Sennacherib’s account of the campaign in Judea.

This is good but not absolutely overwhelming evidence for the biblical account.  So my answer is yes and no on the existence of archaeological evidence or the death of the Assyrian army, but more yes than no.

John Oakes

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