LACHISH: PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE
Graphic depiction of soldiers removing the skin of captives at Lachish
PSYWAR IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
Psychological warfare, or PSYWAR as it is now called, is not a modern invention. The ancient Assyrians were masters of the art.
Their strategy was four-pronged:
Assyrian wall relief, showing impaled captives (upper left)
The Assyrians had capable generals, well-trained soldiers, and excellent weapons. At the height of their power they were virtually invincible on the battlefield.
So if they invaded a country (like the little kingdom of Judah), and the inhabitants were not prepared to surrender, it was marginally safer for them to hole up in a fortified city and wait out the inevitable siege. This is what the people of Lachish tried to do.
Siege warfare, which involved the entire noncombatant population of the besieged town, was governed by a strict rule: before any hostile action, peace was offered in return for surrender to the besieging army. If this offer was refused, the town's adult male population was liable to death and its property to confiscation.
HAVING THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EDGE
Even so, there was little chance of beating the Assyrians, since part of their power lay in their reputation - first for success, but also for dealing unmercifully with kingdoms who did not toe the line.
This gave them a psychological edge.
Assyrian kings used the inscriptions in their own palaces, and abroad, as a warning to foreign nations. They boasted that they destroyed all cities they took, and they often claimed to have killed entire populations.
Captives leave the ruined city of Lachish with their meager belongings
WAR PROPOGANDA IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
These declarations had a deliberate public-relations purpose, as deterrents, warnings to anyone who even thought about rebellion or resistance.
According to these inscriptions, the most imaginative refinements of cruelty were reserved for cities resisting the Assyrians:
'With battle and slaughter I stormed the city and captured it, 3,000 of their warriors I put to the sword;
Another inscriptions says:
I took the city, and 800 of their fighting men I put to the sword, and cut off their heads.
The Bible records that at the siege of Jerusalem, Sennacherib's officer, taunting the Jews on the city, wall, assured them that they were doomed to 'eat their own faeces and drink their own piss' (2 Kings 18:27). This seems mild compared with the fate described in the inscriptions above.
Rubble of a destroyed city
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