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Biblical Personalities-Sancherev’s Downfall Print E-mail

Bible-Biblical-Personalities-Midrash-SancheribOn the 15th of Nisan, “That night the angel of God went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning, there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.

 

One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king (II Kings 19:35-37).”

The descendants of Sennacherib taught Torah to the multitude: Who were these Shemaiah and Abtalion.(Sanhedrin 96b)

Rabbi Abbahu said: Were not the following verse written, it would have been impossible to conceive of it:  “In the same day shall God shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by the riverside, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall consume the beard.”

The Holy one, blessed be He, went and appeared before Sennacheribas an old man, and said to him, ‘When you go to the kings of the east and the west, whose sons you led into battle and caused their death, what will you say to them?’

He replied, ‘I too entertain that fear. What then shall I do?’

‘Go,’ He replied, ‘and disguise yourself’.

‘How shall I disguise myself?’

‘Bring me a razor, and I myself will shave you’.

He answered. ‘Where shall I procure it?’

‘Enter that house and take it’, He rejoined.

So he went and found it there. But the Ministering angels appeared to him in the shape of men grinding palm kernels. ‘Give me the razor,’ said he.

‘Grind a griwah of palm kernels,’ they replied, ‘and we will give it to you.’

So he ground a griwah of palm kernels, and they gave him the razor.

By the time he returned, it had become dark.

‘Go and bring some fire’, the “Old Man” ordered.

So he went and brought fire.

While he was blowing it into a blaze, it caught hold of his beard, whereupon He shaved off the hair of Sancherib’s head together with his beard.

The scholars said: That is what is meant by the phrase, “and it shall also consume the beard.”

Rav Papa said: Thus men say, “If you art singeing the hair of an Aramean, and he is pleased therewith, set light to his beard; so you will not suffer his mockery.”

He then went away and found a plank of Noah's ark. ‘This’, said he, ‘must be the great

God who saved Noah from the flood. If I go to battle and am successful, I will sacrifice my two sons to you’, he vowed.

But his sons heard this, so they killed him, as it is written, “And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his

sons smote him with the sword’ (Sanhedrin 95b-96a)”

Haggadah: “I, and not a messenger. I, and not an angel. I, and not a Seraph.”: “The Holy one, blessed be He, went and appeared before Sennacheribas an old man.” The Exodus was not the only time when God intervened directly, not through the agency of an angel or messenger. It is a gift that is accessible even now!

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