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TIRHAKAH ():

King of Ethiopia (i.e., Nubia). When Sennacherib and his general (Rabshakeh) were besieging Lachish, Libnah, and Jerusalem, it was reported that Tirhakah was approaching with an army to assist the Palestinians against the Assyrian forces (II Kings xix. 9; Isa. xxxvii. 9).

This king, the Tarakos of Manetho (comp. "Tharaca," LXX. and Vulgate), the Tearkos of Strabo, the Tharsikes of Josephus, and the Tarḳu of the Assyrian inscriptions (written "Ta-h-ru-ḳ" in hiero-glyphics with strange vocalization; the consonants suggest as emendation a transposition of the secondand third consonants in the Hebrew form), was the third Pharaoh of the twenty-fifth or Ethiopian dynasty of Egypt. He was a usurper who tried later to legalize his usurpation by marriage with the widow of his predecessor, Shabataka (the Sebichos of Manetho). Assyrian reports assign his death to 668-667 B.C.; and Egyptian inscriptions state that he reigned twenty-six years (twenty or eighteen according to Manetho). Thus his ascension to the throne would fall in 694-693 B.C. (according to others, his coronation occurred in 691 and his death in 665).

Tirhakah has left in Egypt many monuments, extending from Tanis to Napata, his capital in Nubia. No line of his inscriptions speaks of the great wars which he had to wage, at least from 676. The Assyrians, accusing him of having aided their rebellious vassal, King Baal of Tyre, invaded Egypt in that year, but their army was finally annihilated. In 671, however, King Esarhaddon undertook another expedition, invaded Egypt by way of Magdali (perhaps the Biblical Migdol), defeated an army at Iskhupri, and by two further victories drove Tirhakah out of Egypt. The twenty petty rulers (nomarchs) among whom this country was distributed by the Assyrians followed a treacherous course, wavering between the Assyrians and Tirhakah, who invaded Egypt again in 669 and occupied the land. A third Assyrian army, however, was victorious at Karbanit (in the northwest of the Delta), destroyed the rebellious Saïs, Mendes, and Tanis, and pursued Tirhakah as far back as Thebes, which closed its doors to the fugitive king. The energetic Ethiopian rallied his troops for another campaign, and had already forced Thebes to surrender, when he died. His stepson and successor, Tandamani (thus the Assyrian; Tinwat-Amon in hieroglyphics; Tementhes in Polyænus, "Strategica," vii. 3), made only one more futile attempt to regain Egypt.

It will be seen from the above chronology that the monumental data can not easily be harmonized with the seemingly conflicting chronology of the Bible, which mentions Tirhakah in 701 both as king and as at war with the Assyrians. It is at present not possible to explain this discrepancy; the latest attempt at an explanation is that of Prašek ("Mitteilungen der Vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft," 1903, viii. 148), who holds that the Biblical passage concerning Tirhakah referred originally to an expedition in 691 or later, the report being misplaced in the present text.

Bibliography:
  • For the monuments of Tirhakah: Wiedemann, Gesch. Aegyptens, p. 590.
  • For his ascension to the throne: Maspero, Histoire Ancienne, 1899, iii. 361 (with some reservations).
  • On the cuneiform accounts: Winckler, in Schrader, K. A. T. 3d ed., pp. 88 et seq. (also Mitteilungen der Vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft, 1898, p. 29;
  • Altorientalische Forschungen, p. 97).
E. C. W. M. M.
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