The drawing shows the garden of Sargon II, Sennacherib’s father, who ruled Assyria from 721 to 705 B.C.E. Gardening must have been a dynastic affair for these kings of Assyria. In this relief from Sargon’s palace at Khorsabad, servants also carry trees to be planted; the king’s pavilion is above the lake on the left half of the picture, and a crenellated altar stands on top of the hill to the right. Dove-like birds flit amidst the trees. Exotic trees are in the background. At the bottom of the hill is a lake with fish in it. Two Phoenician-style boats, with horsehead prows, float on the water.
As author Stager suggests, when Solomon built the Temple and his palace on Mt. Zion, he believed he was fulfilling a divine order to create a cosmic center where he would rule according to God’s command. In doing so, he would transform the city of Jerusalem into a garden where heaven and earth meet, as they do in Eden.