According to the Rassam Cylinder and its variants, Sennacherib “erected birati (a word having a Hebrew equivalent of birah) against him and made it unthinkable of him to go out of the gate of the city.
According To Finkelstein, 2011,
The structure [at Tell el-Ful] could have been built by the Assyrians as a watchtower overlooking the
northern approach to Jerusalem. Several years ago, Na’aman (2001) suggested identifying
Stratum VB at Ramat Rahel as an Assyrian administration centre and argued that the
Assyrians established such centres not only in their directly-ruled provinces, but also in their
vassal kingdoms. Ramat Rahel and Tell el-Ful are both located on commanding hills, at an
equal distance (ca. 5 km as the crow flies) from the heart of Iron Age Jerusalem. A third site
that may be connected to this possible Assyrian control-system around the capital of Judah
is Nebi Samwil, located on a commanding hill 8 km northwest of biblical Jerusalem. Though
no architectural remains from the Iron Age survived, pottery sherds in later context testify
that the site was founded in the late 8th century BCE (Magen 2008). With all due caution,
I suggest that the Assyrians established a system of two or three forts and administrative
centres on commanding hills around Jerusalem. Their aim was probably to prevent a
Judahite uprising, especially following the events of 701 BCE.
Might have the watchtowers mentioned by Finkelstein been the ‘birati’ of Sennacherib’s prisms?