"Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and he took them. And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying: "I have offended you. Leave me. I will bear your yoke." And the king of Assyria demanded three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold from Hezekiah king of Judah. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of YHVH and in the treasury of the king's palace. At that time Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of YHVH and the door-posts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria." (2 Kings 18:13-16) Hezekiah decided to refuse to pay taxes to his Assyrian overlord. In the year 701 BC Sennacherib marched down from Niniveh with a major fighting force to deal with the arrogant king in Jerusalem. His way led through Lachish, the second largest town in Judah after Jerusalem. Confident in its defenses, Lachish resisted the relentless Assyrian onslaught to the bitter end but eventually it succumbed to the siege engines rolled up on a massive siege ramp the Assyrians built which is still there today. Such was Sennacherib's pride in his capturing Lachish that he displayed his victorious campaign there in the central room of his palace in Nineveh carved in relief on stone panels, now on display in the British Museum.
A sizable mound on the gently undulating terrain between the Judaean Hills and the Philistine coast, Lachish was first settled in the Neolithic Period and it reached a modest size during the Bronze Age during which it was under Egyptian influence. From the Late Bronze Age five letters survive from the Egyptian Amarna archive that were exchanged between the governor of Lachish and the Egyptian scribes. The town was destroyed around 1150 BC amidst the general upheaval at the beginning of the Iron Age, probably by the Sea Peoples. When the state of Judah separated from Israel, King Rehoboam fortified Lachish and it became a royal stronghold, second only to Jerusalem. The heavily fortified palace of the governor or military commander in the center of the town with its adjacent chariot grounds and storage depots have been well excavated. Lachish boasts the largest city gate ever found in Israel. Several examples of writing were found in Lachish dating to just before the Assyrian attack. Judah regained control of the town after paying off the Assyrians and it survived in a diminished capacity until it was destroyed for the last time by the invading Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.read more