Your view of the flourishing grape arbors at the foot of Tel Lachish, southwest of Jerusalem, is the same one, amazingly, that the Assyrian conqueror Sennacherib had over 1,300 years ago.
The view so impressed Sennacherib the when he boasted of his conquest of Lachish in reliefs on his palace in Nineveh, he adorned them with grapevines. (The original panels are in the British Museum and reproductions are on display at the Israel Museum, but reproductions are to be installed right at the site by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and Tel Aviv University.)
Visitors can still see the evidence of King Sennacherib’s destruction (2 Kings 18:14, Is. 36:2) in the remains of a massive siege ramp.
Climbing the path up the 50-meter-high mound, you’ll pass through a gateway the Babylonians must have stormed in 586 CE.
Here, the famed “Lachish letters” were unearthed. In one, a Judean commander, probably fighting the Babylonians, writes that he cannot see the signal fires from Lachish. The unobstructed panorama helps you understand the dread these words contain. You’ll also see the remains of a palace, the largest First Temple structure ever unearthed, and monumental column bases from a Persian-period palace. The “great well,” over 120 feet deep, which provided water to the city in First Temple times, is another highlight.