After this defeat, it is not surprising that Tehrak made no further effort. Hezekiah, the last rebel unsubdued, was left to defend himself as he best might. The Egyptians retreated to their own borders, and there awaited attack. It seemed as if the triumph of Assyria was assured, and as if her yoke must almost immediately be imposed alike upon Judea, upon Egypt, and upon the kingdom of Napata; but an extraordinary catastrophe averted the immediate danger, and gave to Egypt and Ethiopia a respite of thirty-four years. Sennacherib’s army, of nearly two hundred thousand men, was almost totally destroyed in one night. “The angel of the Lord went forth,” says the contemporary writer, Isaiah, “and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand; and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses” (Isa. xxxvii. 36). Whatever the agency employed in this remarkable destruction—whether it was caused by a simoon, or a pestilence, or by a direct visitation of the Almighty, as different writers have explained it—the event is certain. Its truth is written in the undeniable facts of later history, which show us a sudden cessation of Assyrian attack in this quarter, the kingdom of Judea saved from absorption, and the countries on the banks of the Nile left absolutely unobstructed by Assyria for the third part of a century. As the destruction happened on their borders, the Egyptians naturally enough ascribed it to their own gods, and made a boast of it centuries after. Everything marks, as one of the most noticeable facts in history, this annihilation of so great a portion of the army of the greatest of all the kings of Assyria.
[Illustration: HEAD OF TEHRAK (TIRHAKAH).]
The reign of Tirhakah (Tehrak) during this period appears to have been glorious. He was regarded by Judea as its protector, and exercised a certain influence over all Syria as far as Taurus, Amanus, and the Euphrates. In Africa, he brought into subjection the native tribes of the north coast, carrying his arms, according to some, as far as the Pillars of Hercules. He is exhibited at Medinet-Abou in the dress of a warrior, smiting with a mace ten captive foreign princes. He erected monuments in the Egyptian style at Thebes, Memphis, and Napata. Of all the Ethiopian sovereigns of Egypt he was undoubtedly the greatest; but towards the close of his life reverses befell him, which require to be treated of in another section.
THE FIGHT OVER THE CARCASE—ETHIOPIA v. ASSYRIA.