All posts for the month October, 2013

Lady Macbeth Drawn From Jezebel (Nefertiti)

Published October 10, 2013 by amaic


Taken from:

Emma Benintende

Mr. Steen

AP Literature and Composition

November 14, 2006

Biblical influences in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

During Shakespeare’s lifetime (1564-1616), few books were readily available to the general population. The Bible in particular pervaded the literary scene during that time. Growing up in England, a Christian nation, it is probable that young Shakespeare’s first exposure to the written word was The Bible. Rather than the modern King James Bible, Shakespeare was more likely acquainted with the Geneva Bible of 1582 (Shaheen 11). Regardless of the version, Shakespeare’s work proves he was inarguably familiar with Bible stories and Christian themes. In his tragedy, Macbeth, Shakespeare affirms his knowledge through comparisons to Bible stories, references to specific Biblical passages quoted almost verbatim, and Christian ideas such as belief in divine judgment and the dichotomy between good and evil.

Shakespeare’s primary source of inspiration for Macbeth came from Holinshed’s Chronicles; however, he altered history and many aspects of the story fictionalized to gain the interest and favor of King James. Shakespeare’s secondary source, inspiring many details of the tragedy, was the Christian Bible. Adding an interesting human element to Macbeth was the interaction between Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth. Despite, and perhaps because of his genius, Shakespeare did not create his characters and their interactions without drawing from an outside source, notably the Bible. One of the similarities between these works can be traced from Macbeth and his “fiendlike” lady back to Ahab and Jezebel. In the book of Kings, Ahab desires the vineyard of Naboth. At the urging of his wife, Jezebel, the two frame Naboth, having him stoned to death in order to seize his lands. In comparison, Macbeth desires the throne of Scotland. Just as Jezebel urged Ahab, Lady Macbeth schemes and encourages a treasonous plot to allow her husband to assume the power he craves (Burgess 87-88). Following the acquisition of their desired ends, (Ahab’s vineyards of Naboth, and Macbeth’s crown of Scotland), both men are haunted by similar prophetic truths. The Lord told Elijah to warn Ahab that “In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood… The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel”(1 Kings 22:19, 23). Macbeth realizes himself that “…blood will have blood./Stones have been known to speak./Augurs and understood relations have…/Brought forth…The secret’st man of blood” (3.4.125). Both men are doomed to pay for their misdeeds from the time they are committed, and they realize their eventual demise. Ahab is killed and left for “the dogs” as Naboth was, and Macbeth is aware that the murders of Duncan and Banquo will only lead to more bloodshed, ending with his own. In the action following both stories remain true to the foreshadowing. Ahab is betrayed in battle, and Macbeth is murdered by his own Scotsmen. As Jezebel, once a strong female figure, was hurled from her chamber window; Lady Macbeth who also began her story as a strong influence over Macbeth ends her own life by hurling herself from a window (Burgess 90).

In addition to mirroring story lines and characterizations, Shakespeare also references more individualized ideas such as treason, reflected by the use of similarly worded lines to those in the Bible. “If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere/ well/ It were done quickly.” (1.7.1-2) said Macbeth while contemplating the murder of Duncan, while “That thou doest, do quickely” (John 13:27) was Jesus’ warning to Judas during the Last Supper (Shaheen 161). Though the story of the betrayals of King Duncan and Jesus Christ cannot be compared in their entirety, the comparable of the wording of these passages indicates that Shakespeare was making a Biblical reference. Macbeth follows through in his actions against Duncan, killing him in his sleep. Judas also betrayed Jesus, having him arrested by Roman soldiers and crucified (Bible Gateway). Directly following their acts of treason, both Macbeth and Judas felt extreme sense of guilt; Judas hanged himself while Macbeth worried that he “…had most need of blessing, and ‘Amen’ stuck in [his] throat” (2.2.33-34). In the 1500s-1600s, much of Shakespeare’s audience would have been familiar with the Bible and would have picked up the relationship between these lines, immediately confirming the treachery about to unfold in Macbeth.

After his vision of Banquo’s ghost during the banquet scene, Macbeth acknowledges his doom, “It will have blood. They say blood will have/ blood.” (3.4.124). As he has drawn the blood of innocent men, Duncan and Banquo, the only resolution can be the spilling of more blood and eventually his own. The idea that one will be punished for murder by other men indirectly through divine intervention was introduced in the book of Genesis when God told Noah, “Whoso sheadeth mans blood, by man shal his blood be shed” (Gen. 9:6) (Shaheen 167).

Shakespeare sometimes employs other Biblical references not verbatim, but passages in which the ideas and implications are analogous. “Like figtrees with the first ripe figs: for if they be shaken, they fall into the mouth of the eater” (Nahum 3:12) prophesizes the downfall of Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, as punishment for the treachery, superstition, and injustice its inhabitants practiced. The city was to be “shaken” and the city’s ill to fall into “the mouth of the eater” (Shaheen 171). Treachery, superstition and injustice are trespasses Macbeth is guilty of; treachery in the betrayal of his king, superstition in his belief of the “weird sisters” and injustice shown by unfair treatment of his subjects. At the conclusion of act four, Malcolm proclaims, “Our power is ready/…Macbeth/Is ripe for shaking, and the powers above/Put on their instruments” (4.3.237-38). Rather than Nineveh, Macbeth’s regime needed to be “shaken” or toppled and instead of falling into “the mouth of the eater” Macbeth must face divine providence or the “powers above.”

The use of powerful symbolism and clear imagery sets Shakespeare apart from other playwrights. His symbols and images, however, may have been borrowed from other sources, namely the Bible to evoke a strong reaction in his Bible-literate audience. After of the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth is literally covered with blood and believes that “… my hand will rather/ The multitudinous seas incarnadine,/making the green one red” (2.2.61-63). His wife, who had encouraged him to commit the act, assured him that “A little water clears us of this deed” (2.2.67). The symbolism of being soiled with blood is used throughout the tragedy. Lady Macbeth eventually feeling her own guilt in act five, laments “Out, damned spot! Out, I say…/ Yet who would have thought the old/man to have had so much blood in him?” (5.1.39-45). The symbolism used here is not unique to Macbeth. The use of the hand-washing metaphor is also present in the Bible. Following the sentencing of Jesus to be crucified, Pontius Pilate “…tooke water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the bloud of this iust man.” (Matthew 27:24). Both Pilate and Macbeth identify the guilt of a sin with the idea of being soiled or having “blood” on their hands (Shaheen 163), and purge themselves of responsibility with the “washing of hands.”

Even where distinct line references cannot be paralleled between Macbeth and The Bible, there are myriad passages in which the playwright alludes to the Christian ideals of the “immortal soul” and divine judgment. In Macbeth these ideas weigh heavily upon the title character. In his first soliloquy, Macbeth bewails the consequences, both on Earth and in the afterlife, of murdering the king, “…this even handed justice/Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice/…his [Duncan’s] virtues/Will plead like angels trumpet tongued against/The deep damnation of his taking-off” (1.7.10-20); after seeing the body of the murdered king, MacDuff cries “Up, up, and see/The great doom’s image! Malcolm! Banquo!/ As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprites (2.3.77-79) (Shaheen 165); and in retrospect, Macbeth recognized, “…mine eternal jewel given to the common enemy of man” (3.1.68-69) (Noble 234), or that his immortal soul was given to the Devil. Before even committing the sinful deed, Macbeth, a Christian man, is aware that his immortal soul will be damned for murdering Duncan, a good and just king. Macduff’s cry evokes the idea of judgment day when, “All that are in the graues, shal heare his voice. And they shal come foorth” (John 5:28-29) (Shaheen 165), and serves as an indirect warning to Macbeth to atone for what he’s done. It is also an assurance to the audience that Macbeth will pay for his sins and will not escape “judgment” on earth, or, more importantly in the afterlife.

In every great story a battle rages between the forces of “good” and “evil.” No two stories exemplify this conflict better than The Bible and Macbeth. In The Bible, God and Satan are in opposition, God in Heaven, Satan in Hell with earth as their battlefield and all the people, God’s holy disciples and Satan’s conniving minions, pawns of their will. In Macbeth, Shakespeare aligns his characters with these forces in a battle of good and evil over the crown of Scotland. Macbeth is identified with darkness, and unclean animals such as “wolves.” His home, Iverness, is likened to hell, the porter calling himself, “the porter of Hell gate” asking “Who’s there, i’ the name of Beelzebeb?” (2.3.2-4). In contrast, Macduff the consummate “good guy” is identified with clean animals, “pretty chickens” and, after learning of his family’s murder at the conclusion of act four, makes reference to “heaven” several times as if to ally himself with God against Macbeth, a “hellkite”, whose name “The Devil himself could not pronounce a title/More hateful” (5.7.10-12). The use of Biblical figures aligned with characters in Macbeth serves to clarify the characters’ motives and intentions, effectively demonstrating how thematic references rather than direct “quotations” from an old, well known sources such as The Bible, can be used to convey an idea in another story like Macbeth.

In his great tragedy, Macbeth, Shakespeare effectively uses Biblical influences to convey ideas that can be paralleled with action and ideas in the play. Shakespeare’s 16-17th century audience would have been well acquainted with the Bible. Their understanding of his references to the Bible would have helped them better understand the story of Macbeth. Comparisons to Bible stories such as Ahab and Jezebel; references to specific Biblical passages from the books of John, Genesis, Nahum and Matthew, and Christian ideas, contribute to the comprehension of themes in Macbeth such as spousal influence, betrayal, conscience, divine judgment and the forces of good and evil.

Works Cited

Bible Gospel Communications International. Nov. 11, 2006.

Burgess, William. The Bible in Shakespeare. New York: Haskell House Publishers, 1968.

Noble, Richmond. Shakespeare’s Biblical Knowledge. New York, Octagon Books, 1970.

Shaheen, Naseeb. Biblical References in Shakespeare’s Tragedies. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1987.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. (From the handout)


Minyan Athamas Mirrors Patriarch Abraham

Published October 10, 2013 by amaic



John R. Salverda

[The AMAIC considers the Middle East – West comparisons of John R. Salverda as interesting, with some of them we think being very likely. But we do not necessarily agree with all of the following]

Abraham and the Minyan Athamas


Minyans, Kurds, Armenians, and UR.


Abraham and the Ram-Lamb?

The Almost-Consummated Sacrifice of the Son!

Competing Wives and their Allegorical Significance.

Isaac and the Mountain.

Different Hebrew Traditions Coalesced in Greek Mythology.

Minyans, Kurds, Armenians, and UR

The Athamas of Greek Mythology, as the King of Orchomenus a city founded by Minyas, was a well known Minyan. Abraham and his family were said to have been from Ur of the Chaldees. These two statements fit together because the Minyans were the Armenians (Ur-Manneans indicating those from the mountains [ur] of Minni), and the Armenians of Urartu were famously known as the Chaldians of Urartu. This is the land where Noahs ark landed, and the People of Noahs land, could build ships, (The Greek word for ship, is plausibly derived from the very name of Noah, naus) and they were very colonial. The Minni, named in connection with Ararat, by Jeremiah (from Jeremiah 51:27), are the same People as those mentioned by Josephus (quoting Nicolaus of Damascus), who uses the Greek form Minyas, (Antiquities i. I. 6,) to indicate a place in Armenia, the country where Noahs Ark landed. Thus there are fairly convincing connections between the Greek, Minyas, and the Armenians. Historians know well these People and call them the Manneans, or the kingdom of Van. This group lived in the mountains, (alternately known as, the Gordyan or Cordyaean mountains by Berosus, and as, the Chaldean mountains by Xenophon,) where Noahs ark landed. The Chaldeans are the descendants of Noahs grandson, Arpachshad. Abraham was one of these Chaldeans. These three closely related peoples, the Armenians, the Hebrews, and the Minyans, knew about each others existence, and they kept in touch in ancient times. Since the Manneans, are known to have been largely composed of Hurrians it seems reasonable to assume that the Hurrians were so called after Ur, the homeland of Abraham (The pre-Canaan home of Abraham, the city of Haran, named for Abrahams brother, and the surrounding quod-city area, including the cities of Nahor, named for either Abrahams brother or his grandfather, Pethor the home of Balaam, and Carchemish were also settled, according to modern archaeologists, by the Hurrians.). The theory that Abraham came from the city of Ur in Sumer dies slowly, but surely. As has been argued by Prof. Cyrus Gordon and others, Abraham was a nomadic herdsman, he was from the mountains of Noah, the ship builder, with specialized abilities like knot tying for the rigging of canvas, astral navigation for nomadic travels, and he had herds for wealth, (goats and sheep, animals that are specialized for the mountains,) he was not a city dwelling farmer, like the Sumerians, and obviously did not come from the urban centers of the plains of Shinar.


Trading merchandise, stories, and perhaps even adventurous tourism, would go between Greece and the Minyans by way of a seafaring, horse breeding People, who also had ties to the Minyan culture called, the Thekel, (the Thekelwesh, of the Sea Peoples,) more familiarly known as, the Thessalians or Thessalonians, a name they adopted about 825 BC. The People of Thessaly, were from the Levant, and were a branch of the Aeolians, the sons of Aeolus, (plausibly from Eloah [god], with the usual Greek suffix, -us appended) the Hebrews knew of these People and called them, the sons of Elishah. The Aeolians traded extensively with the people of the land of Canaan, (see Ezekiel 27:9-25) and, gray colored, Minyan ware, (as it is so called by modern archaeologists who find it scattered throughout northern Greece and southern Thrace from the time preceding the Troy VI period), likely came from the Maneans down through the Mitanni to the coastal cities on the Cyprus corner of the Mediterranean sea, from there the goods were carried over sea by the Aeolians of Thessaly, to northern Greece and Thrace. The Thessalians, as is evidenced by the story of the Argonautica (often referred to as the Minyan tale), were also familiar with another oversea route, between Armenia and Greece, through the Black Sea.

Abraham and the Ram-Lamb?

The Minyans, as Hurrians from Armenia, knew well the story of the Hebrew, Abraham, they called him Athamas. The Minyans most likely got their, only slightly tainted, version of the story, brought over by migrants from the area of Carchemish and therefore named its Greek colony at the city of Orchomenus (a plausible transliteration, and supposed by some to have been founded by Athamas himself) after the place. Even a cursory comparison of the two supposedly unrelated stories displays them as remarkably coincidental. Athamas began a movement toward, the abolition of, that age old and wide spread, religious concept, human sacrifice (as well as its companion tradition, cannibalism). Although we praise Abraham for his role in this abolition, it seems that some factions (mainly, the Achaeans) of the ancient Greeks, were of a different opinion. They considered their Abrahamic equivalent Athamas, and his descendants as well, to be cursed for their part in the civilizing of mankind (See Herodotus 7. 197 Athamas the son of Aeolus contrived death for Phrixus, having taken counsel with Ino, and after this how by command of an oracle the Achaeans propose to his descendants the following tasks to be performed: whosoever is the eldest of this race, he is brought forth to the sacrifice. This is done to the descendants of Kytissoros the son of Phrixus, because, he brought the wrath of the gods upon his own descendants.). In both cases, whether Scripture or myth, the abolition of human sacrifice in favor of animal sacrifice (the ram) is the obvious message of the story. Pausanias describes a statue depicting the sacrifice of this ram; “There is also a statue of Phrixus the son of Athamas carried ashore to the Colchians by the ram. Having sacrificed the animal, he has cut out the thighs in accordance with Greek custom and is watching them as they burn.” (Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 24. 2) Take note of the Greek custom of cutting out the thighs as if to make the sacrifice Kosher. There is no doubt in my mind as to where they got such a notion.

The Almost-Consummated Sacrifice of the Son!

Intricate details of Abrahams life appear as parts of the Greek myth as well, I cant think of another pair, of ancient stories which are so similar, and yet so seldom compared! Both Abraham and Athamas were divinely commanded to sacrifice, each their own son, with a knife on a mountain top, and each was about to comply when the child was saved, each by the miraculous appearance of a ram. The ram was considered to have been supplied by God, and was said to have been acceptable to Him as a replacement sacrifice instead of the son of man. … The symbol of the sacrificed lamb of god, appears in the Greek Myth, complete with an association to the Hebrew story of the garden of Eden, for the quest of the Argonauts, like the Biblical quest of all mankind, hangs in (nailed to) a tree, in a sacred grove, there is a serpent, and the way is guarded. Phrixos sacrificed the golden-fleeced ram to Zeus Phyxios, but gave its fleece to Aetes, who nailed it to an oak tree in a grove of Ares.” (See Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 80) “The fleece in Colchis and the apples of the Hesperides, since they seemed to be of gold, two serpents that never slept guarded and claimed as their own.” (Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2. 17. 6) This association begs for the conclusion that these Greeks had some knowledge about the Hebrew concept of the original sin as well as the hopeful promise of the Messiah. No doubt they did, for they knew many intricate details of the Hebrew story, including the sophisticated religious symbolism inherent in the parable of Abrahams two wives.

Competing Wives and their Allegorical Significance.

Both Abraham, and Athamas, are said to have had a pair of competing wives each of whom were obvious allegories of differing religious concepts. Offspring was gotten from each of the wives, and the quarrel concerned, whose offspring, and their attending religious concept, would be favored, this is true in both stories. Ino is the Greek equivalent of Hagar from the Hebrew story, while Nephele is the counterpart of Sarah. Consider the Ino, Hagar identification first; The Greeks considered Ino to be the loser of the wifely quarrel, she was exiled and had to flee from her family home, with her half dead child in her arms, (Gen. 21:14,15) to the point of her death, when god intervened, granting Ino powerful miraculous abilities over water, thus saving the lives of Ino and her son Melicertes and appointing them to become great religious icons among the People who lived in the land of her exile, which we are told in the myth, was Corinth in Greece. Except for the location and names, all of these motifs are straight from the life of Hagar, who was looked upon as symbolic of earthly Zion, the covenant with slavery and death (Gal. 4 :22-31).

On the other hand, Sarah was symbolic of freedom, the Heavenly Zion, the wife of God (also in Gal. 4 :22-31). Now, Consider the identification of Nephele with Sarah; Nephele was created as a duplicate of Hera, the heavenly wife of god, “Zeus formed a figure of Hera out of cloud (Nephele) (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 69. 4) “a Cloud (Nephele)? its form was like the supreme celestial goddess, the daughter of Kronos. The hands of Zeus set it as a trap for him, a beautiful misery (Pindar, Pythian Ode 2. 32 ff). Zeus fashioned a Cloud (Nephele) to look like Hera (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E1. 20). Hers were the favored offspring, who were carried off to the Egyptian land, (That Colchis [in the Caucasus] was an Egyptian land we learn from Herodotus who says:

There can be no doubt that the Colchians are an Egyptian race. Before I heard any mention of the fact from others, I had remarked it myself. After the thought had struck me, I made inquiries on the subject both in Colchis and in Egypt, and I found that the Colchians had a more distinct recollection of the Egyptians, than the Egyptians had of them. Still the Egyptians said that they believed the Colchians to be descended from the [Egyptian] army of Sesostris (Herodotus Histories 2.104) from which they eventually had a miraculous epic deliverance (Argonautica).

Isaac and the Mountain.

On the day of Isaac’s being weaned, Ishmael was caught taunting of Isaac over heirship. (Gen. 21 :8, 9) … Phrixus, the fugitive, was the son of Nephele. The Greek myth likewise connects the conflict between the heirs with the exile to the Egyptian land and eventual deliverance of Phrixus, when his bones and descendants are brought back home with the Argonauts. Phrixus sacrificed the ram at its own suggestion to Zeus alone, because he is the god of fugitives;” (Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 2. 1141 ff) See how Apollonius in writing the Argonautica looks upon the sacrifice of the ram to be to the one god, Zeus alone, and further note the phrase the god of fugitives as it may relate to the god of Abram who was a stranger in the lands of Canaan and Egypt and the eventual epic deliverance of Israel. If you study the story of Athamas you will come across the term, “Laphystius” which is a surname of Zeus and is associated with the mountain upon which Athamas nearly sacrificed his son, it is derived from the verb “laphussein”, meaning “to flee” and is apparently synonymous with the similarly used term “Phyxius” (Paus. i. 24. 2, ix. 34. 4.). Phyzius means “the god who protects fugitives” and occurs as a title of Zeus that is often used for him in Thessaly (Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod. ii. 1147, iv. 699; Paus. ii. 21. 3, iii. 17. 8).

And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years (Gen 15:13).

Different Hebrew Traditions Coalesced in Greek Mythology.

There was a famous famine in the land of Athamas that precipitated and instigated the sacrifice and exile of his offspring Phrixus. “The oracle prophesied an end to the dearth if Phrixos were to be sacrificed to Zeus. When Athamas heard this and was pressured by the joint efforts of the inhabitants, he had Phrixos placed on the altar. (See Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 80) Now, it was a famine, or a dearth as Pseudo-Apollodorus would have called it, that drove Israel into the Egyptian realm and placed them under the suzerainty of the son of the sun god. However there must have been some confusion among the Greek mythographers concerning the chronology of the events for they seem to have compressed three generations of Hebrew history (those of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph), into one generation (that of Phrixus) of Greek mythology. Phrixus is the Minyan version of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, all rolled into one. As Isaac he is almost offered up as a sacrifice by his father on a mountain top, but is saved at the last minute by the miraculous appearance of a ram. As Jacob he goes off to the Egyptian land where he stays until the end of his life. In each case his descendants returned and his bones are carried back home for burial (this is also true of Joseph). As Joseph, Phrixus has an episode with the wife of Cretheus. Cretheus had Demodice as wife; others name her Biadice. Moved by the beauty of Phrixus, son of Athamas, she fell in love with him, and could not obtain from him favor in return; so, driven by necessity, she accused him to Cretheus, saying that he had attacked her, and many similar things that women say (Hyginus Astronomica 2.20). This is an obvious doublet of the same story told about Joseph with the wife of Potiphar. Later Phrixus was given the daughter of the son of Helios (the same Helios whom the Greeks associated with the Egyptian city of Heliopolis) to wed, just as Joseph was wed to the daughter of the High Priest at Heliopolis. Aeetes, the son of Helios received him (Phrixus) and gave him Khalkiope, one of his daughters (See Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 80). Famines played an important role in the Hebrew story as well. And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. (Gen 12:10) and again, And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. (Gen 26:1). Evidently the famine in the days of Abram was so well known that it had to be distinguished from the later famine of Isaac’s time. The grievous famine of Abram drove him into the land of Egypt, just as the later famine had done in the days of his descendants Jacob and Joseph. Perhaps it was this feature, the fact that both famines had driven the Hebrews, as fugitives or sojourners, into the land of Egypt, that had mislead the Greeks into combining the two events. Of course, the story of the epic deliverance, in one instance the Exodus and in the other the Argonautica, would serve as the continuation and conclusion in both cases.

It truly stretches credulity to imagine that these two widely spread versions of apparently the same story could have been written by two different peoples, the Greeks and the Hebrews, without awareness of one another, as if by instinct. The Greeks who wrote of Athamas obviously had, not only passing, but intricate knowledge, not only of the story, but much of the theology connected to the history of the Hebrew Abraham.

-John R. Salverda

For more articles by John R. Salverda on the Hebraic Connections of Greek Mythology, see:

“Helleno-Yishurin. The Hebrew Origin of Greek Legends”

Emmet Sweeney Identifies Hattusilis with Alyattes of Lydia

Published October 9, 2013 by amaic


[The AMAIC does not accept all of Emmet’s revised dates]

Hattusilis, King of Lydia


In his Ramses II and his Time (1978) Velikovsky argued that Ramses II, the great warrior pharaoh of Egypt’s Nineteenth Dynasty, reigned in the first half of the sixth century BC, and not in the thirteenth century BC, as conventional scholarship believes. In support of this dating Velikovsky brought forward manifold proofs, from many different disciplines; and, from an archaeological perspective at least, the case he presented was compelling.

There were however two major problems: First and foremost, if Ramses II was to be placed in the sixth century, this meant opening a gap of two centuries between the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty (which Velikovsky placed in the latter ninth century) and the beginning of the Nineteenth Dynasty (which Velikovsky placed in the latter seventh century). Critics were quick to point that an overwhelming body of evidence showed the Nineteenth Dynasty to have directly followed the Eighteenth, with no hiatus of any kind.

The second problem centred round the identity of Hattusilis, the Great King of the Hatti or Hittites, against whom Ramses II waged war for many years. Velikovsky argued that Hattusilis was none other than Nebuchadrezzar, the King of the Chaldaeans, who is said to have deported the population of Judah to Babylonia sometime in the first half of the sixth century BC. But this identification caused immense problems, as Velikovsky’s critics (and some of his allies) were quick to point out. Most pressingly, how could Hattusilis, whose capital city was in the middle of Anatolia and who never claimed to rule Mesopotamia, be identified with a king of Babylonia who never claimed to rule Anatolia? This was a crucial point; one which, notwithstanding the ingenious arguments presented by Velikovsky, he could not counter.

The answer to the conundrum was finally provided, I believe, by the stratigraphic evidence brought forward by Gunnar Heinsohn in the 1980s. Essentially, Heinsohn found that the Nineteenth Dynasty did come directly before the Persian Age, as Velikovsky claimed (ie in the sixth century), but that the Eighteenth Dynasty immediately preceded the Nineteenth Dynasty – which therefore placed it in the seventh century (actually, late eighth and seventh centuries). This meant bringing the whole of the Eighteenth Dynasty down the timescale by a further two centuries from the position accorded it by Velikovsky. If Heinsohn was right, then both the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties must have been contemporaries of the Medes, the great Indo-Iranian nation which had overthrown the Assyrians during the seventh century, and with the Lydians, the mighty power which controlled much of Anatolia in the same epoch.

As a matter of fact, the greatest power in the Fertile Crescent during the time of the Eighteenth Dynasty was that of the Mitanni, or Mita. These kings, who bore Indo-Iranian names and worshipped Indo-Iranian gods, were famous for having conquered the Old Assyrian kingdom, whose two most notable kings were named Sargon and Naram-Sin. It goes without saying that Heinsohn thus identified the Mitanni with the Medes, and the evidence he mustered for this was extremely compelling. It is an identification fully supported by the present writer.

Ancient writers insisted that during the period of Median supremacy much of Anatolia was controlled by Lydia; and indeed the Lydians were great rivals of the Medes. Now, whilst the monuments and diplomatic correspondences of the Mitanni period apparently make no mention of the Lydians, they do refer repeatedly to a mighty rival power centred in Anatolia. This was the kingdom of Hatti; the Hittite Empire.

Modern textbooks describe the Hittites as a mysterious people, a nation whose history and even existence had been forgotten until revealed by archaeologists in the nineteenth century. The “rediscovery” of the Hittites is held to be one of the great triumphs of modern archaeology. In the early days of archaeology, however, travellers to Anatolia were often inclined to associate the monuments and remains we now call “Hittite” with the ancient Lydians, and several carved bas-reliefs at Yazilikaya, just outside Boghaz-koi, were actually linked to specific events from Lydian history. Thus for example W.J. Hamilton in his Researches in Asia Minor, Pontus and Armenia (1842) remarked that in his opinion one of the major reliefs commemorated a treaty signed by Croesus with Cyrus around 550 B.C. “I am rather inclined to think that it represents the meeting of two coterminous kings, and that it was intended to commemorate a treaty of peace concluded between them. The Halys, which is not many miles distant, was long the boundary between the kingdoms of Lydia and Persia and it is possible that in the figure with the flowing robes we may recognise the king of Persia, and that in the other the king of Lydia, with his attendants, Lydians and Phrygians, for their headdress resembles the well-known Phrygian bonnet. This spot may have been chosen to commemorate the peace.” (W.J. Hamilton Researches in Asia Minor, Pontus and Armenia (1842) 393-95)

Another scholar of the same period also identified the monuments as Lydian, but inclined more to the view that the bas-relief commemorated a treaty signed by Croesus’ predecessor Alyattes with the Medes under Astyages. (H. Barth “Versuch einer eingehenden Erklärung der Felssculpturen von Boghaskoei in alten Kappadocien” Monatsberichte der Königlichen Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin, 1869) 128-75) According to Herodotus these two kings had met with their armies near the river Halys, but fighting broke off when the sun was eclipsed. (Herodotus, i, 74) Afterwards, through the efforts of the kings of Babylon and Cilicia a peace was negotiated and signed.

The more our knowledge of Hittite civilisation and history has grown, the more clear-cut the Lydian connection has become. The Boghaz-koi documents for example showed that a number of Hittite kings had borne the name Mursilis; identical to the name (Myrsilos) given by Herodotus to one of the greatest kings of Lydia. The language of the Hittite Empire, known as “Hittite” to us, but actually called “Neshili” in the Boghaz-koi texts, was found to be Indo-European. Further research into the linguistic make-up of ancient Asia Minor found that Lydian too was an Indo-European dialect – a dialect identical to “Hittite”. In the words of one scholar, “Linguistically Lydian is related to the Hittite-Luwian group, but the curious thing is that unlike most of its contemporaries it seems to be Hittite rather than Luwian.” (J. G. Macqueen, The Hittites (London, 1975) p. 59) In other words the Lydian language is one and the same as that of the Hittites in their Cappadocian heartland – Nesha/Neshili – rather than Luwian, a related tongue employed by many other peoples of Asia Minor and Anatolia, such as the Phrygians and Lycians. In explanation of this strange anomaly, the writer quoted above continues,

“One has to assume that in the disturbances following the collapse of the Hittite Empire a central Anatolian group had seized power among the ruins of Arzawa, and a memory of this may be preserved in the Herodotean story of a Heraclid dynasty with eastern connections which gained power in Lydia about 1200 BC.” (Ibid.)

Arzawa, of course, is the name given to the Lydian district in the Hittite documents, and indeed the word may be identical to Lydia, given the interchangeability of “l” and “r”, and the conjectural nature of vowels in cuneiform. Thus Arzawa may reasonably be reconstructed as “Lyzawa”.

The relationship between Arzawa/Lydia and the greater Hittite world has in fact caused considerable confusion amongst scholars, a confusion highlighted in the following statement;

“And so we reach the final position that the language originally known as Arzawan [Lydian] is in fact the language of the Hittites, while the language written in ‘Hittite Hieroglyphs’ is a dialect of the language of Arzawa.” (Ibid. pp. 24-5)

Thus the Lydian and Hittite kingdoms used the same language, occupied the same geographical space, and were, as we shall argue, contemporary.

It is generally presumed that the Hittite Empire took in only the eastern part of what was later to constitute the Lydian kingdom – a domain supposedly centred more on western Asia Minor. However, it is untrue to say that Hittite rule did not extend as far as the Aegean coast. The documents of Boghaz-koi show quite clearly that the regions comprising Lycia, Caria, Ionia and Aeolia were considered to be part of the Empire, and this has been confirmed by the discovery of Hittite monuments at Karabel near Smyrna, and on Mount Sipylus overlooking the Aegean.

If then we accept the Hittites as Lydians, how do they fit into the history of the period, and do the historical records of the Hittite period speak of events known to us from the classical authors? Do the two histories match?

An examination of the lives and careers of the last two Hittite emperors, Hattusilis III and Tudkhaliash IV, reveals a close match with the lives and careers of the last two Lydian kings, Alyattes and Croesus. The Hittite Empire came crashing to destruction during the time of Tudkhaliash IV, and we find the “Assyrian” king Tukulti-Ninurta boasting of carrying off great numbers of Hittite prisoners. Since Tukulti-Ninurta was a contemporary of Ramses II and Merneptah, it follows that (if we credit Velikovsky’s own chronological measuring-rod and place these kings in the sixth century), Tukulti-Ninurta must be associated with Cyrus, the Persian conqueror of Lydia. As such, Hattusilis, who earlier waged a protracted war against Ramses II, must be the same person as Alyattes.

Classical sources inform us that Alyattes, was a mighty king who waged war against many of his neighbours, and who subjugated most of the Aegean coast of Asia Minor. This certainly does not contradict what we know of Hattusilis. We know that Hattusilis maintained and extended Hittite control over western Asia Minor, and his victories in the far west are commemorated in various surviving documents. The list of Hittite allies at the battle of Kadesh “mentions several peoples who all … are hitherto already familiar and recognisable from the Hittite imperial records as being the names of peoples of Western and Central Anatolia.” (R.D. Barnett “The Sea Peoples: Anatolians at the Battle of Qadesh” in CAH Vol.2 part 2 (3rd ed.) p.360) The writer of these words, R.D. Barnett, offers the following identifications of these names:

Drdny = Dardanoi (Homeric name for Trojans).

Ms = Mysia (a region of Asia Minor).

Pds = Pitassa (either Pedasa, near Miletus, or Pedasos, in the Troad).

Krks = Karkisa (Caria).

Lk = Lukka (Lycia).

If these identifications are broadly correct, and virtually no authority denies it, then the Hittites were at that time in control of most of western Asia Minor.

As part of his policy to strengthen Lydian control over Asia Minor, Herodotus tells us that Alyattes attacked the Greek port of Miletus, continuing a war initiated by his father Sadyattes. (Herodotus, i, 17) By our reckoning Sadyattes must of course be the same as Hattusilis’ father Mursilis, and we must expect this king to be involved in military action on the Aegean coast. Sure enough, Hittite records tell us that Mursilis attacked and conquered a city on the Aegean coast named Millawanda (generally agreed to be Miletus), a settlement which had been the property of the king of Ahhiyawa (generally agreed to be Achaea – ie. Greece). From the records of Mursilis we find that the king of Ahhiyawa at this time was called Antarawas, a name that has been identified with the Greek Andreus. Twelve years later he names another king of Ahhiyawa, this time Tawalagawas, who is also known as “the Ayawalawas”. This has been interpreted as Eteocles the Aeolian. (A. R. Burn, Minoans, Philistines, and Greeks (London, 1930) p. 121)

Yet these clear references to Greek settlements in Hittite documents of supposedly the 13th century BC. have caused the utmost embarrassment to scholars, since the Ionic and Aeolian colonies are not dated by anyone earlier than the 10th century BC. But if we are actually in the 6th century BC., there is no problem, and Greek settlements, as well as a Greek city of Miletus, are entirely to be expected.

During the time of Mursilis the province of Arzawa, the Lydian heartland, rebelled. Uhha-zitish, the rebel leader, was, we are told, defeated in a great battle, and pursued to the town of Apasa, identified with Ephesus. Mursilis followed him to Apasa, but Uhha-zitish had fled “across the sea”, no doubt to Greece.

Thus it would appear that during and directly preceding the reign of Hattusilis the Hittites were busy consolidating their hold over the peoples of the Aegean coast, a situation which agrees precisely with what we know of the Lydian kingdom in the time of Alyattes and his immediate predecessors.

Herodotus mentions the fact that one of Alyattes’ greater successes was his conquest of Smyrna, (i, 16) and sure enough, a stela of Mursilis, Hattusilis’ father, stands at Karabel, just outside the city. (A. R. Burn, op cit. pp. 134-5)

In the end, we are told, Alyattes failed to conquer Miletus, which would explain why Hattusilis makes no mention of a successful war against Millawanda. He recalls with pride however his successful fifteen-year war against the Gasga (whom I equate with the Scythians – see my Empire of Thebes, 2006), a fact which recalls Alyattes’ achievement of driving the Cimmerians out of Asia. (Herodotus, i, 16)

Alyattes, we have seen, was also involved in prolonged warfare on his eastern front against the Medes. Peace was however briefly restored in this region when a major battle was interrupted by an eclipse.

One final point. The name written in the cuneiform of Boghaz-koi as Hattusilis is composed of two elements; Hattus-ili. Since vowels are conjectural and the order in which cuneiform syllables should be read by no means always certain, the same word could be written as Ali-hattus. In short, Hattusilis and Alyattes (Greek Aluattes) are the same name.

Thus Egypt’s link with Lydian and Classical history. But the repositioning of Egypt’s Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties in the seventh and sixth centuries causes profound problems for Biblical history. If we agree with Velikovsky that the Eighteenth Dynasty was contemporary with the Early Monarchy of Israel, this means that the Early Monarchy must likewise be brought into the seventh and sixth centuries. If Hatshepsut, of the early Eighteenth Dynasty, really was the Queen of Sheba, who visited Solomon in Jerusalem, we cannot bring that same queen into the seventh century and leave Solomon in the tenth. Clearly Solomon must then also have lived in the seventh century!

How, the reader might ask, can Hebrew chronology be recalibrated in such a way? Is it not true that Hebrew history is well documented at least as far back as the time of David? Is it not accurately aligned, for example, with the histories of Babylonia and Assyria? How then are we to remove two and a half centuries from the span of that same history?

This is a problem I have examined in great detail in two of the Ages in Alignment books, most particularly in Empire of Thebes and Ramessides, Medes and Persians. There it is shown that Hebrew history is not aligned accurately to that of the Classical world, and that a “phantom time period” of over two centuries has been inserted into the Biblical timescale. The two phantom centuries are in fact located in the second half of the Persian Empire and the first century of the Seleucid epoch, a period of more than two centuries that in terms of Hebrew history is a complete blank. Between the time of Ezra, and the Book of his name, and the period of the Maccabees (circa 160 BC), Jewish history is totally silent: The Jews, greatest of record-keepers, apparently left not a single historical document to cover this enormous stretch of time. Yet things get even worse when we realize that archaeology has been no more successful at filling the gap. Between the middle of the Persian Age and the middle of the Seleucid archaeologists have found almost nothing in the land of Israel.

What is the explanation?

The explanation is straightforward; but it requires an imaginative leap in order to be successfully digested. The simple fact is, no three-century gap exists between Ezra and the Maccabees: one follows the other directly. And the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian kings who come before Ezra are Persian kings under the guise of Mesopotamians. Ezra therefore was active around 260 BC rather than 450 BC, and the king Nebuchadrezzar who took the Jews captive to Babylon shortly before his time was none other than the Persian king Artaxerxes III. In the same way, all the Hebrew kings who interacted with these Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian rulers must be brought forward in the timescale by two centuries. King Zedekiah of Judah, blinded and deported by Nebuchadrezzar, suffered that fate not in 570 BC, but around 340 BC. The prophets Elijah and Elisha, along with the Hebrew kings with whom they were contemporary, lived and worked in the late seventh century, not in the late ninth; and Solomon, who welcomed the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem, did so around 680 BC, not 930 BC.

Last modified on Monday, 09 May 2011 12:29


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