How could Ar-Pharazon of Númenor defeat Sauron while Sauron wielded the One Ring?
From: The Tolkien Less FAQ by William D.B. Loos
He did not actually defeat Sauron himself. The invasion fleet of the Númenóreans was so powerful that Sauron's armies deserted him. Sauron merely pretended to humble himself; to be carried back to Númenor as a supposed hostage was exactly what he wanted. His plan was to weaken Númenor as a war power by manoeuvering them into sending a fleet to attack Valinor, where it would presumably be destroyed.
He succeeded up to a point, but the result was disastrously more violent than he foresaw, and he was caught in the Fall of Númenor. Only his physical body perished since by nature he was of the spiritual order.Tolkien:
[The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 280].
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