Archives

All posts for the month September, 2016

Herod Antipas and Henry VIII

Published September 20, 2016 by amaic

 Logo for The Tudors

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

Dr Davies suggests that the idea of a distinct Tudor period of history was first established in the 18th Century by the historian and philosopher, David Hume.

 

 

Talk about parallel lives!

Herod Antipas and Henry VIII. John the Baptist and Bishop John Fisher.

This is astutely picked up by Thomas McGovern, in his article for Catholic Culture.org, “Bishop John Fisher: Defender of the Faith and Pastor of Souls”

https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=7604

 

Adultery is worth dying for

 

Henry replied to the legates, in answer to the bishop, in a manner which clearly showed how resentful he was at the bishop’s protest, particularly that he was ready to suffer like St. John the Baptist, as it naturally suggested a comparison between Henry and Herod Antipas. However, the martyrdom of St. John had long been a familiar subject of contemplation to Fisher, as is clear from his treatise (1525) in defense of Henry’s book against Luther — the “Defensio.” “One consideration,” Fisher writes, “that greatly affects me to believe in the sacrament of marriage is the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, who suffered death for his reproof of the violation of marriage. There were many crimes in appearance more grevious for rebuking which he might have suffered, but there was none more fitting than the crime of adultery to be the cause of the blood-shedding of the Friend of the Bridegroom, since the violation of marriage is no little insult to Him who is called the Bridegroom.”30 Bridgett draws the striking parallel between the fate of the Baptist and John Fisher: “At that time (1525) no thought of divorce had as yet, in all probability, entered the mind of Henry; Anne Boleyn, Fisher’s Herodias, was then unknown. But the circumstances of Fisher’s death bear so close a resemblance to those of the Baptist’s, that it is strange even Henry did not observe and seek to avoid it. Both were cast into prison and left there to linger at the will of a tyrant; both were beheaded, and both by the revenge of impure women. But what Herod did reluctantly, Henry did with cruel deliberation.”31

 

[End of quote]

 

Perhaps the received Tudor history needs to subjected to a more intense scrutiny. According to Oxford University historian, Dr. Cliff Davies, the very term “Tudor” is highly problematical. We read about this, for instance, at: http://www.bbc.com/news/education-18240901

 

‘Tudor era’ is misleading myth, says Oxford historian

 

By Sean Coughlan

BBC News education correspondent

 

29 May 2012

From the section Education & Family

 

The idea of a “Tudor era” in history is a misleading invention, claims an Oxford University historian.

 

Cliff Davies says his research shows the term “Tudor” was barely ever used during the time of Tudor monarchs.

….

Dr Davies says films and period dramas have reinforced the “myth” that people thought of themselves as living under a “Tudor” monarchy.

“The term is so convenient,” says Dr Davies, of Wadham College and the university’s history faculty. But he says it is fundamentally “erroneous”.

 

Missing name

 

During the reigns of Tudor monarchs – from Henry VII to Elizabeth I – he said there was no contemporary recognition of any common thread or even any recognition of the term “Tudor”.

 

Dr Davies, who specialises in 16th-Century history, says “the rather obvious thought occurred to me” of investigating whether there had been any references to “Tudor” during the years of the Tudor monarchs.

His years of trawling through contemporary documents yielded almost no references – with only one poem on the accession of James I (James VI of Scotland) recognising the transition from Tudor to Stuart.

 

Surprised by this absence of any contemporary usage, he says he expected “clever American professors to come up with examples to prove me wrong” – but so far there has been no such evidence.

 

There might also be suggestions that the use of “Tudor” was deliberately omitted – as monarchs, always sensitive to rival claims, wanted to assert their legitimacy.

“I do think that Henry VII was defensive about his past and wanted to downplay ‘Tudor’, which might have been used by his opponents.”

He says that in Welsh documents the name of Tudor is “celebrated” but it was “considered an embarrassment in England”.

Henry VIII preferred to represent himself as the embodiment of the “union of the families of Lancaster and York”, says Dr Davies.

 

False memory

 

Dr Davies suggests that the idea of a distinct Tudor period of history was first established in the 18th Century by the historian and philosopher, David Hume.

 

This has proved a very “seductive” way of approaching history, he argues. It also helps to create the idea of a separate historical period, different from what came before and after.

But the text-book writers and makers of period dramas should re-think their terminology, as he says that talking about “Tudor men and women” introduces an artificial concept which would have had no contemporary resonance.

If historians aim to “recover the thought processes” of past generations – he says it means understanding how they saw themselves and their own times.

 

Dr Davies says that in the late 16th Century people in England would have understood the idea of living in the reign of Elizabeth I – but would not have identified her as a Tudor.

“The word ‘Tudor’ is used obsessively by historians,” says Dr Davies. “But it was almost unknown at the time.”

 

 

 

Advertisements

Susanna and Esther

Published September 17, 2016 by amaic

Queen-Esther-Revealing

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

Part One: Mordecai as ‘Marduka’

  

And Mordecai the Jew was next in rank to King Ahasuerus. He was a man held in respect among the Jews, esteemed by thousands of his brothers, a man who sought the good of his people and cared for the welfare of his entire race.

 Esther 10:3

  

Introduction

 

With the assistance of a significantly revised Neo-Babylonian dynasty through to the early Medo-Persian period, as set out in, for example:

If King Belshazzar made Daniel 3rd, who was 2nd?

https://www.academia.edu/23063639/If_King_Belshazzar_made_Daniel_3rd_who_was_2nd

 

I have been able historically to identify the King Belshazzar of Daniel 5 as King Evil-Merodach, son of Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’, and the un-named second ruler in Belshazzar’s kingdom as Jehoiachin (or Coniah), whom Evil-Merodach had exalted over the other princes in Babylon (2 Kings 25:27-30).

These are all historically verifiable kings.

Now, if Jehoiachin (Coniah) is also, as I have tentatively identified him:

Wicked Haman Un-Masked?

 https://www.academia.edu/23014815/Wicked_Haman_Un-Masked

then that leads us into the Book of Esther, and to Mordecai, who, with Queen Esther herself, would expose the machinations of Haman.

Is there any evidence that this Mordecai, too, was a real historical person?

There may be. David J. Clines, in his article “The Quest for the Historical Mordecai” (https://www.academia.edu/2454296/The_Quest_for_the_Historical_Mordecai), writes of one “Marduka” in Susa during the Persian period whom various scholars have considered as a possible candidate for Mordecai. I am interested here in what Clines writes about these various opinions, since Clines himself seems pre-disposed to dismiss the Book of Esther as merely “a romance”:

 

…. it appears to be necessary to insist that evidence for a Persian official at Susa named Marduka, if that is really what we have, is next to useless in any debate about a historical Mordecai. For if on other grounds it seems probable that the book of Esther is a romance and not a historical record, it is quite irrelevant to the larger question of the historicity of the writing to discover that one of its characters bears a name attested for a historical person. Fictitious characters usually do.

 

Clines tells of these other estimations of Marduka:

 

In the standard works, commentaries, encyclopaedias and monographs, wherever the historicity of the Book of Esther is discussed, there is usually to be found some reference to the possible extra-biblical evidence for Mordecai. Here is an extract from a typical encyclopaedia article in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible:

 

Reference must be made to a single undated cuneiform document from the Persian period, found at Borsippa, which refers to a certain Marduka who was a finance officer of some sort in the Persian court at Susa during the reign of Xerxes I. While a connection between such an individual and the Mordecai of the book of Esther is in no sense established, the possibility of such a historical event as is related in Esther cannot be dismissed out of hand. ….

 

Carey A. Moore, the author of the Anchor Bible commentary on Esther, is a little more positive about the implications of the reference to Marduka. This official, who ‘served as an accountant on an inspection tour from Susa’, could be, he suggests, ‘the biblical Mordecai because, in all likelihood, Mordecai was an official of the king prior to his being invested in [Est.] 8.2 with the powers previously conferred on Haman’. To Moore, ‘at first glance all of this seems rather persuasive, if not conclusive’. While he is indeed careful to point out the uncertainties that surround the identification of Marduka with Mordecai, he nevertheless concludes that

 

since the epigraphic evidence concerning Marduka certainly prevents us from categorically ruling out as pure fiction the Mordecai episodes in the Book of Esther, it is safest for us to conclude that the story of Mo[r]decai may very well have to it a kernel of truth. ….

 

Robert Gordis, rather more boldly, appears to have no reservations whatever about the identification of Mordecai with Marduka. For him, the attestation of the names Marduka and Mrdk … is ‘the strongest support thus far for the historical character of the book’. …. He writes:

 

A Persian text dating from the last years of Darius I or the early years of Xerxes I mentions a government official in Susa named Marduka, who served as an inspector on an official tour … [T]he phrase yōšēb bĕša‘ar hammelekh, ‘sitting in the king’s gate,’ which is applied to Mordecai repeatedly in the book, indicates his role as a judge or a minor official in the Persian court before his elevation to the viziership.

 

The conclusion to be drawn is rather obvious:

 

That there were two officials with the same name at the same time in the same place is scarcely likely. ….

 

From Edwin M. Yamauchi we even gain the impression that the identification of Marduka with Mordecai has now become the consensus scholarly view:

 

Mardukâ is listed as a sipîr (‘an accountant’) who makes an inspection tour of Susa during the last years of Darius or early years of Xerxes. It is Ungnad’s conviction that ‘it is improbable that there were two Mardukas serving as high officials in Susa.’ He therefore concludes that this individual is none other than Esther’s uncle. This conclusion has been widely accepted. ….

 

Siegfried H. Horn concurs:

 

The result of this disco[c]very has been a more favorable attitude toward the historicity of the book of Esther in recent years, as attested by several Bible dictionaries and commentaries published during the last decade. ….

 

So secure is the identification of Mordecai with Marduka in his eyes that he can even invite us to reconstruct the personal history of Mordecai on the basis of what we know about Marduka:

 

It is quite obvious that Mordecai, before he became gatekeeper of the palace, must already have had a history of civil service in which he had proved himself to be a trusted official … the trusted councillor of [t]he mighty satrap Uštannu, whom he accompanied on his official journeys.

 

[End of quotes]

 

Since my re-setting of Mordecai’s engagement with Haman has it occurring far earlier than the standard time for it, in the reign of “Xerxes” (C5th BC) – and nearer to the return from Captivity – it thus becomes necessary to demonstrate a compatible revised chronology of Marduka.

 

 

 

 

Part Two: Mordecai as Joakim, Husband of Susanna

 

 

Now there was a man that dwelt in Babylon, and his name was Joakim: And he took a wife whose name was Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah, a very beautiful woman, and one that feared God. For her parents being just, had instructed their daughter according to the Law of Moses. Now Joakim was very rich, and had an orchard near his house: and the Jews resorted to him, because he was the most honourable of them all.

 

Daniel 13:1-4

 

 

When in the process of searching for greater information about Mordecai in the Bible it occurred to me that a possible candidate for him might be Joakim the well-respected husband of Susanna. Admittedly, I have very little to go on here, considering the brevity of the information provided about Joakim in the Story of Susanna.

 

  • Joakim was apparently a Jew, as was Mordecai (Esther 2:5): “Now in the citadel of Susa there lived a Jew called Mordecai son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin …”, and a man of great standing.

 

  • Joakim, as “a man that dwelt in Babylon”, was apparently also of the Babylonian Captivity, as was Mordecai (2:6), “who had been deported from Jerusalem among the captives taken away with Jeconiah king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon”.

 

  • Joakim was a contemporary of a young Daniel, who figures prominently in the Story of Susanna (Daniel 13:45). Mordecai was taken into captivity about a decade after Daniel had been, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah” (Daniel 1:1).

{That does make for a very tight chronology for Daniel, though, who was apparently still “a young boy”, or a “young youth”, or “young man”, in the Story of Susanna}.

 

  • Joakim “was very rich”. Mordecai, according to The Legends of the Jews (V. 4), “became a wealthy man”.
  • Joakim, since his house was used for “matters of judgment” (Daniel 13:6), may himself have been a judge, as we found (in Part One) Marduka (= Mordecai?) likely was.
  • Joakim is a figure very much in the background in the Story of Susanna, in which young Daniel comes to the fore. And Mordecai, too, tended to work quietly behind the scenes, advising his niece, Queen Esther, whilst Haman and King Ahasuerus take centre stage.
  • Joakim was well respected by many amongst the Jews, he being “the most honourable of them all”. And this we read similarly about Mordecai (Esther 10:1-3):

 

King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

 

Part Three: Susanna’s Aged Accusers

 

According to Rabbinic traditions, the two lustful elders who accused Susanna were the same persons as two wicked judges referred to and named by the prophet Jeremiah (29:21-23):

“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you in my name: ‘I will deliver them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will put them to death before your very eyes. Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: ‘May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned in the fire.’ For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and in my name they have uttered lies—which I did not authorize. I know it and am a witness to it,’ declares the Lord”.

 

The colourful account of Susanna and the two elders is well summarised by Jennifer A. Glancy of the Jewish Women’s Archive: http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/susanna-apocrypha

Susanna: Apocrypha

 

The brief, self-contained story of Susanna appears in Greek but not Hebrew manuscripts of the Book of Daniel. Most modern editions of the Bible include it among the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books as Daniel 13. Although readers will respond to and remember most vividly Susanna and her predicament, the story’s conclusion emphasizes Daniel’s emergence as a young figure of wisdom. On account of this, some ancient Greek versions place the Book of Susanna before Daniel 1.

The text first introduces Joakim, a wealthy man living in the Babylonian diaspora (Greek for “scattered abroad,” Jews who lived outside Palestine after the Babylonian exile of 587 b.c.e.). Joakim, however, plays a minimal role in the unfolding of the story.

 

Mackey’s Comment: My earlier proposed identification of this Joakim with the great Mordecai will serve to open up, as this series progresses, some intriguing new possibilities.

Glancy continues with her commentary:

 

Susanna’s introduction defines her in terms of her relationships to two men, as wife of Joakim and daughter of Hilkiah, and tells that she is beautiful and righteous and was trained “according to the law of Moses” by her parents (vv. 2–3).

Joakim’s house functions as a courthouse for the Jewish community. Two elders who serve there as judges separately develop lustful feelings toward Susanna, whom they spy walking in the garden when the house empties at midday for the community to go to their own homes for lunch (vv. 8–12). One day the two elders catch each other lingering behind in order to watch Susanna, and they conspire together to entrap her (vv. 13–14).

On a hot day Susanna decides to bathe in the garden (v. 15). She believes herself to be alone with her maids because the elders have concealed themselves (v. i6). When Susanna sends her maids away to bring ointments for her bath (vv. 17–18), the elders reveal themselves and try to coerce her into sexual relations. They say that, unless she lies with them, they will testify that she sent her maids away in order to be with a young lover (vv. 19–21). Susanna’s dilemma is this: to submit to the elders is to disobey the law of Moses, which she has been raised to follow, but to resist the elders is to invite the death penalty for adultery (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22). She articulates her decision, “I choose not to do it; I will fall into your hands, rather than sin in the sight of the Lord” (v. 23). Susanna cries aloud, and so do the elders (v. 24). Their shouting attracts members of the household (v. 26), specifically identified as “servants,” who, when they hear the elders’ story, are “very much ashamed, for nothing like this had ever been said about Susanna” (v. 27).

Susanna’s trial occurs on the following day at her home, described as “the house of her husband Joakim” (v. 28). Susanna comes before the two elders and the people, accompanied by her parents, her children, and other unspecified relatives—her husband is not mentioned (vv. 29–30). The lascivious elders ask that she be unveiled so that they may continue to look at her (v. 32). Those who weep with her weep at this disgrace (v. 33), which in Theodotion’s version amounts to an unveiling of Susanna’s face. (The NRSV follows Theodotion, an alternate Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.) In the Septuagint version, Susanna is stripped naked, in accordance with ritual Jewish law (Ezek 16:37–30; Hos 2:3–10). The elders proceed with their accusations (v. 34). They claim that they saw Susanna in the garden, embracing a young lover whose strength enabled him to elude them as they attempted to detain him; they further claim that Susanna has refused to cooperate in naming the lover (vv. 36–41a). Because of the credibility of the elders in the community, the assembly believes them and condemns Susanna to death (v. 41b).

No one offers testimony on Susanna’s behalf. She, however, turns to heaven for help, crying aloud to God that she is innocent (vv. 42–43). The text records, “The Lord heard her cry” (v. 44). Just as Susanna is being taken to her death, God stirs “the holy spirit of a young lad named Daniel” (v. 45). Announcing that he cannot be part of Susanna’s execution (v. 46), he asks the assembly for the right to cross-examine the elders (vv. 47–49). Before the reassembled court, Daniel separates the two elders and questions each about the location of the lovers’ intimacies. The first elder identifies a mastic tree (v. 54) as the site of the illicit coupling, and the second elder identifies an evergreen oak (v. 58). Daniel thus reveals their deceit and the innocence of Susanna, “a daughter of Judah,” a descendant of southern Judah (v. 57). The two elders are then sentenced to the fate they intended for their victim: death (v. 62).

[End of quote]

According to R. Charles, as cited at:

http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/S/susanna-the-history-of.html

… the first half of the story rests on a tradition regarding two elders (Ahab and Zedekiah) who seduced certain women by persuading them that they would thus become the mother of the Messiah. This tradition has its origin probably in Jer 29:21-23, where it is said that Yahweh would sorely punish Ahab and Zedekiah because they had “committed villany in Israel,” having “committed adultery with their neighbours’ wives” ….

On the basis of all of the above, we may be able to give names to Susanna’s ill-fated accusers:

Ahab and Zedekiah.

 

The German orientalist, Georg Heinrich August Ewald (d. 1875), had thought that the account of the two lustful elders who were infatuated with Susanna must have been inspired by a Babylonian tale involving the goddess of love and two old men.

 

Once again, however, this is a case of biblical historians and commentators presuming that a given biblical story was inevitably dependent upon a pagan myth (or myths) of a similar theme.

At http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/S/susanna-the-history-of.html we read

Ewald (Geschichte(3), IV, 386) believed that [the story of Susanna] was suggested by the Babylonian legend in which two old men are seduced by the goddess of love (compare Koran 2 96). ….

Looking at this Koran (Qur’ān) reference, 2:96, I find:

And you will surely find them the most greedy of people for life – [even] more than those who associate others with Allah . One of them wishes that he could be granted life a thousand years, but it would not remove him in the least from the [coming] punishment that he should be granted life. And Allah is Seeing of what they do.

 

Whilst I myself am unaware of the Babylonian legend to which Ewald referred, I would find it very intriguing if this Babylonian “goddess of love” was Ishtar herself – as I think she must have been.

My reason for saying this will become clear later in this article, as I proceed to develop a wider identity for Susanna in a biblical context.

 

 

Part Four: Similarities between Susanna and Esther

 

Commentators have picked up some striking likenesses between the story of Susanna

(in the Book of Daniel) and the drama surrounding Queen Esther.

 

G.J. Steyn, for instance, has discovered some “striking similarities” between, not only Susanna and Esther – of relevance to this present series – but also including the Jewish heroine, Judith. Here I take just two short portions from Steyn’s most insightful article (pp. 167-168) http://www.repository.up.ac.za/bitstream/handle/2263/8985/Steyn_Beautiful(2008).pdf?sequ

 

“BEAUTIFUL BUT TOUGH”.

A COMPARISON OF LXX ESTHER, JUDITH AND SUSANNA”

 

FEARLESS IN THE FACE OF DEATH

 

  • Esther requests that her people fast and pray three days and nights for her and then she will approach the king without being summoned by him – which is against the royal custom. If she then dies, she dies (4:16). Esther then uses her mightiest weapon, her beauty, as an instrument to save her people.

 

  • Judith took a similar decision as Esther by going voluntarily into the presence of the very man who seeks to destroy her people. She went forth, out of the city gates and down the mountain (10:9-10). Her beauty gave her entry past the soldiers (10:14, 19, 23), right into the tent of Holofernes, the chief captain of the Assyrian army (10:17, 20-21). She stays three days in the camp (12:7) and beheaded Holofernes the fourth night, passing again by the Assyrian soldiers.

 

  • Susanna knows very well that whatever her decision would be, she is destined to die (Sus 1:22). She “sighed” (… Sus 1:22) and “cried with a loud voice” (… Sus 1:24). She chose to turn down the advances of the two elders rather “than to sin in the sight of the Lord” (… Sus 1:23).

 

and:

 

TRUST IN GOD AND PRAYER

 

Esther approached God in her moments of fear and anxiety and expressed her trust in God. This becomes clear from the contents of her prayer in LXX Addition C (14:1-19): “… she prayed to the Lord God of Israel, and said: O my Lord, you alone are our King. Help me in desolation – not having a helper, but you. For my danger is in my hand (… 14:3-4); “You are righteous, O Lord!” (… 14:7); “O King of the gods and of all powers” (… 14:12).

 

Judith confesses her trust in the Lord when she spoke to the elders of the city … (Jud 8:20). Her trust in God surfaces again in her prayer … (Jud 9:7-8).

 

Susanna too, approached God in her moment of fear on her way to be executed. She prays to the “everlasting God” (… Sus 1:42) who knows all secrets and who knows the false witness that was borne against her (Sus 1:42-43).

 

Part Five: Susanna and Esther identified as one

 

Having previously touched briefly upon the similarities between the story of Susanna (in the Book of Daniel) and the drama narrated in the Book of Esther, I take matters a step further here, testing a possible identification of Susanna with Esther.

 

 

Those “striking similarities” between Susanna and Esther, previously noted, might lead one to consider whether there might even be an actual identification of person here as well.

I seem to find solid arguments for and against such a conclusion.

 

Joakim

The connecting link between the two dramas may be (if accurate) my identification of Joakim with the great Mordecai.

Such a connection, however, would also raise some real queries with regard to Queen Esther.

She, generally considered to have been a

  1. beautiful (2:7)
  2. young
  3. virgin, (2:2)
  4. raised as a daughter by Mordecai (2:7), would now, all of a sudden, need to be significantly reconsidered as a, still

 

  1. beautiful, but
  2. not so young,
  3. married woman
  4. with kids (“her children”, 1:30 Sus. RSV).

 

Such an apparently unorthodox reconsideration of the famous biblical queen is not, however, without its support (at least regarding Esther’s marriage to Mordecai) in Aggadic tradition. According to, for instance, Tamar Meir’s article “Esther: Midrash and Aggadah”, this tradition “casts the Biblical narrative in a different light”: http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/esther-midrash-and-aggadah

The Babylonian tradition maintains that Esther was Mordecai’s wife. Esth. 2:7 states: “Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter [literally: took her le-vat],” which the midrash understands as: Mordecai took her le-bayit, that is, as a wife (BT Megillah loc. cit.). This exegesis casts the Biblical narrative in a different light. Esther was taken to the royal harem despite her being married, which further aggravated her sorry condition. This also leads to a different understanding of Mordecai’s involvement, as he walks about in the royal courtyard out of concern for his wife.

[End of quote]

There may have been some unusual situation here.

And there was indeed, according to an article, “Thematic irony in the story of Susanna”

http://www.hts.org.za/index.php/HTS/article/view/1255/3295

 

Ironic expressions in episode one (vv. 1−14)

 

This first episode consists of the introduction to Susanna (1−4), which includes the introduction of her family, her husband and the two elders (5−6), as well as the emergence of the conflict (7−14). In particular, it focuses on Susanna’s beauty and godliness on the one hand and the elders’ wickedness on the other hand. In this comparison lies the irony. The episode contains, as will be demonstrated shortly, remarkable ironic words, expressions and incidents. Most of these ironic utterances consist of the reversed use of social conventions.

The first ironic expression concerns the relationship between Susanna and her husband, expressed by the verb λαμβάνω [to take, to acquire] (cf. v. 2). There is no doubt that, in the context of the ancient Jewish patriarchal society, this verb portrays a marital relationship between husband and wife in terms of possessor and possession (Di Lella 1984:332−334, 1995:39; see also Liddell & Scott 1996:1026; Delling 2000:5; Bauer et al. 2000:583). In this environment, λαμβάνω would normally indicate the ascendancy of the husband over his wife and presupposes the insertion of the woman in her husband’s family (Fuller 2001:339) and not the contrary.

The use of λαμβάνω in this case, however, seems to contradict these established patriarchal practices. In actual fact, the relationship between Susanna and her husband, as depicted in the story, does entail the prominence of the woman. Firstly, according to the story, Jewish identity is related to the practice of the Law of Moses, piety (Kanonge 2009a:381). It is strange that nothing is said about Joakim’s piety. Besides, Susanna has a genealogy, or at least her father is named, but Joakim’s father does not appear (Moore 1977:94). In Biblical traditions, ‘genealogies can express social status, political power, economic strength, legal standing, ownership …’ (Wilson 1979:19). To have no genealogy is to be less important in a community. It seems, from this story and specifically from verse 63, that Susanna is more important in the community than her husband. In fact, according to the abovementioned verse (63), she is not inserted in her husband’s family, but the contrary is assumed. According to Archer (Ilan 1993:55), women named after their father were either ‘divorced or widowed’. This is not the case here. Indeed, Susanna is being prioritised here at the expense of her husband. It is remarkable that the normal familial order, as accepted in patriarchal societies, is changed with the reading as follows: Σουσαννας μετὰ Ιωακιμ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς αὐτῆς [Susanna with Joakim her husband]. This order is unusual in patriarchal traditions where the husband is supposed to take the lead in everything. There is an overturned use of social conventions. ….

 

Susanna, living as she did during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews, would seem to have been far too early for her – according to conventional estimations – to be identifiable as Queen Esther, supposedly living deeply into Persian history.

 

My streamlined version of the Chaldean to Medo-Persian history, though, as outlined in this series and developed elsewhere, for example in:

Neo-Babylonian Dynasty Needs ‘Hem Taken Up’. Part One: Seven Kings Become Four

 

https://www.academia.edu/22954569/Neo-Babylonian_Dynasty_Needs_Hem_Taken_Up_._Part_One_Seven_Kings_Become_Four

 

This article will be an attempt to streamline the Neo-Babylonian (or Chaldean) Dynasty according to the author’s view that its present arrangement may contain duplications.

 

Neo-Babylonian Dynasty Needs ‘Hem Taken Up’. Part One (b): Evil-Merodach is Belshazzar

 

The Book of Daniel is commonly charged with all sorts of historical inaccuracies, a fault more likely of the perceived history, as we are finding, rather than of the book itself.

 

Neo-Babylonian Dynasty Needs ‘Hem Taken Up’. Part Two: How the Kings Line Up

 

Beyond the outline of a streamlined Neo-Babylonian (or Chaldean) Dynasty, I shall attempt now to add some flesh to the bare bones.

 

has greatly shortened the chronological distance between king Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’ and the Medo-Persians, with Nebuchednezzar’s death occurring, now, only a handful of years before the emergence of Darius the Mede – he, in turn, being my choice for the Book of Esther’s great monarch:

 

King Ahasuerus

 

Darius the Mede was already an old man when he came to the throne (Daniel 5:31): “So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two”.

He, I have identified with king Cyrus, and as:

 

King Ahasuerus” of Book of Esther

 

https://www.academia.edu/24698880/_King_Ahasuerus_of_Book_of_Esther

 

Any consideration of the age of Queen Esther – which will be an issue in this present article – may need to factor in the age of the Great King whom she married.

Although historical chronology is no longer a major issue according to my revised context, the actual age of participants in the drama – the young Daniel, and Susanna in connection with Queen Esther – will be. It has already been determined that Queen Esther, if she were also Susanna, would have been a married woman with children of her own, and, hence, not a virgin. That her husband was none other than Mordecai himself – which comes as quite a surprise – is borne out, though, as we have learned, by an Aggadic tradition.

 

Ages of Daniel, Susanna (and Esther)

 

Taking the Vulgate Latin version of the story of Susanna in the Book of Daniel, we find Daniel himself described as puer junior, which would appear to indicate an extremely young male, and which is translated as “young boy”. According to my Latin dictionary junior equates with juvenis. Though this description tends to indicate a male up to the age of 17, it is “frequently used of older persons … 20th – 40th year”.

That gives us a lot more leeway in the case of Daniel.

Say he was, as some estimate, 14-15 years of age when taken into captivity, his intervention in the case of Susanna could have occurred – in light of the above “20th-40th year” – as late as approximately the 25th year of Nebuchednezzar II.

Susanna, with children, must have been, say, 20 at the time, and, if so, about 38 at the death of Nebuchednezzar. By about the 3rd year of Ahasuerus (Esther 1:3), when she – if as Esther – was chosen, she would have been in her early 40’s, and mid-40’s when married in the 7th year (2:16).

King Ahasuerus would have been, by then (his 7th year), nudging 70.

The Vulgate gives the females chosen for the king as (Esther 2:3) puellas speciosas et virgines.

The Septuagint Greek has, for the same verse, κοράσια (young women) άφθορα, which can mean “unblemished”. When Tamar (Themar) is called a “virgin” in the Greek II Kings 13:2, the word used is a different one, “parthenos” (παρθένος).

Esther herself is never directly referred to as a virgin. She is pulchra nimis et decora facie (“exceedingly beautiful and becoming”).

In Esther 2:7, “Esther [is] … quoque inter ceteras puellas”. The Latin word puella (singular) may indicate married or not.

And in Esther 2:9, the short-list is now septem puellas speciosissimas (“seven most beautiful women”).

The outstanding woman, Esther, had made an early impression (2:8-9):

 

Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.

 

Presumably eunuch Hegai’s action was prompt and ‘immediate’ because he had appreciated the true quality of Esther, and not because – as necessitated in the case of the woman who went to the plastic surgeon because she had a wrinkled face and crow’s feet (but came out with wrinkled feet and a crow’s face) – she had lost her looks.

Women in their 40’s can still be beautiful.

Having accounted for the tricky matter of age, those similarities between the story of Susanna and the Book of Esther that we have already discussed – and those between Susanna and Esther – can now really kick in.

In both cases we encounter a beautiful and pious woman, a Jew (cf. Susanna 13:57; Esther 2:7), who had been taught the Law by her parents (cf. Susanna 13:3; Esther 14:5), who, as we read previously, trusted fully in the Lord, and was prepared to die rather than to compromise herself.

 

 

Similarities between Susanna and Esther

Published September 15, 2016 by amaic

our lady of sorrows

 by

Damien F. Mackey

 

Commentators have picked up some striking likenesses between the story of Susanna

(in the Book of Daniel) and the drama surrounding Queen Esther.

 

G.J. Steyn, for instance, has discovered some “striking similarities” between, not only Susanna and Esther – of relevance to this present series – but also including the Jewish heroine, Judith. Here I take just two short portions from Steyn’s most insightful article (pp. 167-168) http://www.repository.up.ac.za/bitstream/handle/2263/8985/Steyn_Beautiful(2008).pdf?sequ

 “BEAUTIFUL BUT TOUGH”.

A COMPARISON OF LXX ESTHER, JUDITH AND SUSANNA”

 

FEARLESS IN THE FACE OF DEATH

 

  • Esther requests that her people fast and pray three days and nights for her and then she will approach the king without being summoned by him – which is against the royal custom. If she then dies, she dies (4:16). Esther then uses her mightiest weapon, her beauty, as an instrument to save her people.
  • Judith took a similar decision as Esther by going voluntarily into the presence of the very man who seeks to destroy her people. She went forth, out of the city gates and down the mountain (10:9-10). Her beauty gave her entry past the soldiers (10:14, 19, 23), right into the tent of Holofernes, the chief captain of the Assyrian army (10:17, 20-21). She stays three days in the camp (12:7) and beheaded Holofernes the fourth night, passing again by the Assyrian soldiers.
  • Susanna knows very well that whatever her decision would be, she is destined to die (Sus 1:22). She “sighed” (… Sus 1:22) and “cried with a loud voice” (… Sus 1:24). She chose to turn down the advances of the two elders rather “than to sin in the sight of the Lord” (… Sus 1:23).

and:

TRUST IN GOD AND PRAYER

 

Esther approached God in her moments of fear and anxiety and expressed her trust in God. This becomes clear from the contents of her prayer in LXX Addition C (14:1-19): “… she prayed to the Lord God of Israel, and said: O my Lord, you alone are our King. Help me in desolation – not having a helper, but you. For my danger is in my hand (… 14:3-4); “You are righteous, O Lord!” (… 14:7); “O King of the gods and of all powers” (… 14:12).

Judith confesses her trust in the Lord when she spoke to the elders of the city … (Jud 8:20). Her trust in God surfaces again in her prayer … (Jud 9:7-8).

Susanna too, approached God in her moment of fear on her way to be executed. She prays to the “everlasting God” (… Sus 1:42) who knows all secrets and who knows the false witness that was borne against her (Sus 1:42-43).

Tobias/Job as Montuemhat King of Thebes

Published September 5, 2016 by amaic

 9000_800x800[1].jpg

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

  1. His Pre-Official Years

 

“That day there was joy for all the Jews who lived in Nineveh.

Ahiqar and … Nadin were also on hand to rejoice with Tobit. Tobias’s wedding feast was celebrated with joy for seven days, and many gifts were given to him”.

Tobit 11:17-18

 

Introduction

 

Thankfully the Book of Tobit is able to provide us with much biographical information for Job (= Tobias):

 

Job’s Life and Times

 

https://www.academia.edu/3787850/Jobs_Life_and_Times

 

because such information about the famed holy man of great righteousness is almost completely lacking in the Book of Job.

The Book of Tobit spans the lengthy neo-Assyrian period from king “Shalmaneser” until the destruction of Nineveh (cf. Tobit 1:2 and 14:15), thus anchoring Tobias/Job chronologically.

For an expanded view of this “Shalmaneser”, see my:

 

The Assyrian Kings

https://www.academia.edu/28039647/The_Assyrian_Kings

 

The Book of Tobit also gives what I consider to be the correct succession of neo-Assyrian kings, Shalmaneser, to Sennacherib, to Esarhaddon. No king Sargon mentioned between Shalmaneser and Sennacherib. I give what I think to be the reason for this in:

 

Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib

https://www.academia.edu/6708474/Assyrian_King_Sargon_II_Otherwise_Known_As_Sennacherib

Whilst in this present set our focus will be on the official status of Tobias/Job in the neo-Assyrian kingdom, we learned in the previous, related series:

 

Tobit a High Official in Realm of Assyria. Part One: “King Shalmaneser”

 

https://www.academia.edu/27931582/Tobit_a_High_Official_in_Realm_of_Assyria._Part_One_King_Shalmaneser_

 

‘… Tobit of … the tribe of Naphtali, who in the days of Shalmaneser, king of the Assyrians, was taken into captivity …. The Most High gave me favor and good appearance in the sight of Shalmaneser, and I was his buyer of provisions’. Tobit 1:1, 2, 13

 

Tobit a High Official in Realm of Assyria. Part Two: Tobit’s Status

https://www.academia.edu/27932418/Tobit_a_High_Official_in_Realm_of_Assyria._Part_Two_Tobits_Status

 

that this Naphtalian family was one of no little importance. For, as I noted in Part Two:

 

Tobit, an exile, must have been a person of exceptional competence to have so risen in the kingdom of Assyria to become purveyor, or quartermaster, of the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser.

That particular rank in Assyria, termed rab[i] ekalli or rab ša muḫḫi ekalli (“… in Middle Assyrian times the ša muḫḫi ekalli is used synonymously to rab ekalli”: https://www.academia.edu/7640201/2015_Food_and_drink_for_the_palace_the_manageme), may have been a very high one indeed. For, according to this following estimation of the rank http://ancientpeoples.tumblr.com/post/30101734778/assyrian-rule-of-conque

 

Directly under the king were three officers. The turtannu, or field marshal; the ummânu, vice-chancellor; and the rab ša muḫḫi ekalli, the major-domo. The latter was the most important and the only one with direct access to the king (though the king could of course require the audience of lower ranked men himself); even the field marshal and the vice-chancellor had to go through the major-domo to request a meeting.

[End of quote]

 

But Tobit was not the only person of high rank in this most talented family of his (https://books.google.com.au/books?id=d5PXD5saod4C&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq=tobit+was+king’s+quartermaster):

 

The family of Tobit, as we meet them in the Book of Tobit, are exceptional people. Tobit himself becomes procurator general, quartermaster for King Shalmaneser, and is sent on important purchasing expeditions to Media (Persia). His nephew Ahiqar becomes royal cupbearer, in effect the administrator of the entire empire. Their kinsman Gabiel in Media also has an important post there.

[End of quote]

 

One might think it inevitable therefore, too, that Tobias/Job – being able to boast of so high-ranking a father (Tobit) and a cousin (Ahiqar), in the kingdom of Assyria – would also have attained ultimately to a position of greatest prominence.

His arrival at manhood, when Tobias/Job married Sarah and then returned safely to his parents in Nineveh, was, as we read above, an occasion of “joy for all the Jews [preferably Israelites?] who lived in Nineveh”. Even the great man, Ahiqar, attended the celebration, along with Nadin. For my identification of this sinister character, Nadin, see:

 

“Nadin went into everlasting darkness”

 

https://www.academia.edu/7177604/_Nadin_went_into_everlasting_darkness_

 

Tobias/Job, having now arrived at a most meaningful phase of his early adult life, was soon to be catapulted into such public prominence as would see him, as I wrote previously:

 

… rise to highest judicial office. One has only to read e.g. Job 29:7-10:

 

‘When I went to the gate of the city

and took my seat in the public square,

the young men saw me and stepped aside

and the old men rose to their feet;

the chief men refrained from speaking

and covered their mouths with their hands;

the voices of the nobles were hushed,

and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths’.

 

 

Chronology,

Tobias and Shalmaneser

 

 

 

“At the ripe old age of 117 Tobias died, having lived long enough to hear about the destruction of Nineveh and to see King Cyaxares of Media take the people away as captives. Tobias praised God for the way that he had punished the people of Nineveh and Assyria.

As long as he lived he gave thanks for what God had done to Nineveh”.

 

Tobit 14:14-15

 

 

 

Biblical numbers

 

A slight problem for my identification of Tobias, son of Tobit, with the prophet Job:

 

Job’s Life and Times

 

https://www.academia.edu/3787850/Jobs_Life_and_Times

 

is that, whereas Job is said to have “lived a hundred and forty years” (Job 42:16), Tobias appears to have fallen somewhat short of 140. The numbers given for his age at death vary: 99 years (Douay), 117 years, or 127 years.

As biblical scholars are very much aware, however, numbers can be somewhat unreliable – a classic case being 1 Samuel 13:1: “Saul was … years old when he became king; and he reigned two years over Israel” (בֶּן-שָׁנָה, שָׁאוּל בְּמָלְכוֹ; וּשְׁתֵּי שָׁנִים, מָלַךְ עַל-יִשְׂרָאֵל).

Looking at those four figures for Tobias/Job: 99, 117, 127, 140, totalling 483, we get an average figure of approximately 120 years.

As the Book of Tobit describes it, the death of Tobias occurred at “ripe old age”. Compare the Septuagint version of the Book of Job: “And Job died, an old man and full of days …”. His was a life long enough for him to have witnessed the rise and fall of many great people. As I wrote about this in my article:

 

Prophet Nahum as Tobias-Job Comforted

 

https://www.academia.edu/8729042/Prophet_Nahum_as_Tobias-Job_Comforted

 

The prophet Job too, man of vast experience as he was, had witnessed such things (Job 13:1): “My eyes have seen all this …”. All what things? “All this” (Job 12:17-25):

 

[God] leads rulers away stripped and makes fools of judges. He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties a loincloth around their waist. He leads priests away stripped and overthrows officials long established. He silences the lips of trusted advisers and takes away the discernment of elders. He pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty. He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light. He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them. He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he makes them wander in a trackless waste. They grope in darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.

[End of quote]

 

Again, as I wrote previously: “The Book of Tobit spans the lengthy neo-Assyrian period from king “Shalmaneser” until the destruction of Nineveh (cf. Tobit 1:2 and 14:15), thereby anchoring Job chronologically”.

According to the conventional listing of neo-Assyrian kings, the life of Tobias/Job would have been contemporaneous with all of the following kings (though, by the terms of my revision, several of these are actually duplicates, e.g. Tiglath-pileser III = Shalmaneser V; Sargon II = Sennacherib):

 

Tiglath-Pileser III 745–727 BC son of Ashur-nirari (V)
Shalmaneser V 727–722 BC son of Tiglath-Pileser (III)
End of the document known as Assyrian King List; the following kings reigned after the list had been composed.
Sargon II 722–705 BC
Sennacherib 705–681 BC
Esarhaddon 681–669 BC
The dates of the last kings are not certain.
Ashurbanipal 669–between 631 and 627 BC
Ashur-etil-ilani ca. 631–627 BC
Sin-shumu-lishir 626 BC
Sin-shar-ishkun ca. 627–612 BC fall of Nineveh
In 612 BC, Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, fell to the Medes, Babylonians, and Scythians; supported by the Egyptians, an Assyrian general continued to rule for a few years from Harran.
Ashur-uballit II 612 BC–ca. 608 BC Harran defeated by Cyaxares of Media and Nabopolassar of Babylonia

 

Apart from these Assyrian kings, Tobias/Job would have lived during the reigns of – and all of the dramatic events associated with – various of the kings of Judah, such as Hezekiah, Manasseh and Josiah.

 

He was born during the reign of “Shalmaneser” (this king greatly expanded in my revision).

 

King Shalmaneser

 

Tobit tells us (Tobit 1:9): “When I grew up, I married Anna, a member of my own tribe”. That was the tribe of Naphtali (1:1).

As we learned in the series on Tobit as a high official of the Assyrians, it was Shalmaneser who had taken into captivity Tobit and his tribe of Naphtali and who had then so exalted Tobit as to allow him almost a free hand as the king’s quartermaster (Tobit 1:2, 12-13).

It appears from the following verses that Tobias, son of Tobit and Anna, was born before the deportation by king Shalmaneser (vv. 9-10): “We had a son and named him Tobias.Later, I was taken captive and deported to Assyria, and that is how I came to live in Nineveh”.

 

During the next reign, however, that of Sennacherib (my Sargon II), the fortunes of the family fluctuated considerably.

 

Chronology,

Tobias and Sennacherib

 

 

When Shalmaneser died, his son Sennacherib succeeded him as emperor. It soon became so dangerous to travel on the roads in Media that I could no longer go there”.

 

Tobit 1:15

 

 

Introduction

 

As we have found in this series, the Book of Tobit gives a neo-Assyrian succession, from Shalmaneser to Sennacherib, that – whilst it does not accord with the view of modern Assyriology, that Shalmaneser (V) was succeeded by Sargon II – is the one that I have accepted.

However, although I consider the Book of Tobit to be an accurate historical record of events, it does contain – in those various versions of it that have come down to us – some contradictions and inaccuracies. We saw this clearly earlier, with three different figures being given for the age of Tobias at death: namely, 99 years, 117 years, and 127 years.

The geography of the book, too, which – as it presently stands – has Tobias and the angel Raphael travelling in the wrong direction, eastwards instead of westwards, needs to be restored back to its original which then makes perfect sense:

 

A Common Sense Geography of the Book of Tobit

 

http://www.academia.edu/8675202/A_Common_Sense_Geography_of_the_Book_of_Tobit

 

Different age numbers are also given in the case of Tobit, the father of Tobias. According to the Douay account, Tobit lost his sight at the age of 56, recovered it at the age of 60 (14:3), and lived after that for 42 years (14:1), dying at the age of 102 (14:2). The NRSV version, though, has Tobit losing his sight at 62 (14:2, with the note: “Other ancient authorities read fifty-eight”), and: “For four years I remained unable to see …” (2:10). And he died at the age of 112 (14:2).

 

Tobit 1 Overview

 

Tobit 1 gives a summary of events in the life of Tobit and his family from the early days of Tobit: ‘When I was young … I was the only one in my family who regularly went to Jerusalem to celebrate the religious festivals, as the Law of Moses commands everyone to do’ (1:4, 6), to his return to Nineveh, thanks to the intervention of his nephew, Ahikar, after persecution from king Sennacherib (v. 22). Tobit was by then a married man with a son, Tobias.

Indeed, life would become far bumpier for the family during the reign of Sennacherib. The Douay version of Tobit 1:18 adds the extra piece of information that “Sennacherib … had a hatred for the children of Israel”.

That same verse also adds another note that is most interesting from a chronological point of view: “… after a long time, Salmanasar [Shalmaneser] the king being dead … Sennacherib his son … reigned in his place …”. Shalmaneser V is supposed to have reigned for only the short period of 726/7-722 BC. Tobit’s version, “after a long time”, would better accord with my expanded king Shalmaneser of Assyria, which includes various alter egos, such as the potent Tiglath-pileser III. For Tobit’s “Shalmaneser” does as did Tiglath-pileser III. He takes the tribe of Naphtali into captivity (1:2): “During the time that Shalmaneser was emperor of Assyria, I was taken captive in my hometown of Thisbe, located in northern Galilee …”.

Commentators immediately jump in here. For example R. Littman (Tobit: The Book of Tobit in Codex Sinaiticus) writes, p. 47:

 

The information is inaccurate here and probably represents a confusion of the historical details by the book of Tobit, written 500 years after the events. According to 2 Kgs 15:29 it was Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 BCE), the father of Shalmaneser V (727-722 BCE), who conquered the Galilee and the land of Naphtali and deported the people around 732 BCE.

 

 

Sennacherib

 

Tobit 1:15-22 recalls the dramatic events that occurred during the reign of Sennacherib, which I give here with the addition of some comments (v. 15):

 

When Shalmaneser died, his son Sennacherib succeeded him as emperor. It soon became so dangerous to travel on the roads in Media that I could no longer go there.

 

Comment: Tobit’s “Media” needs to be understood as “Midian”, to the west, not east, of Nineveh. (Refer back to my “A Common Sense Geography …”).

From Sennacherib’s Years 9-11, it would have become most dangerous for anyone to have travelled the western road. For, according to the chronological estimations of my university thesis:

 

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background

 

AMAIC_Final_Thesis_2009.pdf

 

Sennacherib’s Year 9 was the year when his military might really began to be felt in Palestine. It was “the year”, I believe, to which the prophet Isaiah had referred (Isaiah 20:1): “In the year that the supreme commander, sent by Sargon [= Sennacherib] king of Assyria, came to Ashdod [= Lachish] and attacked and captured it …”. On “Ashdod” as Lachish, see my:

 

Sargon II’s “Ashdod” – the Strong Fort of Lachish

 

http://www.academia.edu/8713108/Sargon_II_s_Ashdod_-_the_Strong_Fort_of_Lachish

 

Sennacherib’s Year 10 saw a revolt against Assyria by one Yatna of Ashdod (= Lachish).

Sennacherib’s Year 11 was a most triumphant one for the king of Assyria, with his great western campaign and conquest of king Hezekiah of Judah and his city of Jerusalem.

 

Tobit continues his narrative, harking back to Shalmaneser for a moment (vv. 16-17), before continuing on with Sennacherib (v. 18):

Tobit Buries the Dead

 

While Shalmaneser was still emperor, I took good care of my own people whenever they were in need. If they were hungry, I shared my food with them; if they needed clothes, I gave them some of my own. Whenever I saw that the dead body of one of my people had been thrown outside the city wall, I gave it a decent burial.

 

One day Sennacherib cursed God, the King of Heaven; God punished him, and Sennacherib had to retreat from Judah. On his way back to Media he was so furious that he killed many Israelites. But I secretly removed the bodies and buried them; and when Sennacherib later searched for the bodies, he could not find them.

 

Comment: This verse actually condenses two separate campaigns of Sennacherib, the one referred to above, when he was totally victorious over king Hezekiah of Judah – during the course of which the Assyrian king had blasphemed God – and another, about a decade later, when his massive army of 185,000 was famously routed (“had to retreat”). This last corresponds to the victory of Israel over Assyria as set in motion by the heroic intervention of the pious Simeonite woman, Judith.

One can easily imagine that Sennacherib would have been “furious”.

Meanwhile, back in Nineveh, the ageing Tobit had continued on with his corporal works of mercy. An informer notified the angry Sennacherib, and Tobit was forced to flee for his life with his family (vv. 19-20):

 

Then someone from Nineveh told the emperor that I was the one who had been burying his victims. As soon as I realized that the emperor knew all about me and that my life was in danger, I became frightened. So I ran away and hid. Everything I owned was seized and put in the royal treasury. My wife Anna and my son Tobias were all I had left.

 

 

Chronology,

Sennacherib and Esarhaddon

 

 

Then someone from Nineveh told the emperor that I was the one who had been burying his victims. As soon as I realized that the emperor knew all about me and that my life was in danger, I became frightened. So I ran away and hid. Everything I owned was seized and put in the royal treasury. My wife Anna and my son Tobias were all I had left”.

 

Tobit 1:19-20

 

 

 

Sennacherib or Esarhaddon?

 

There is no mention at all of the famed Assyrian king, Esarhaddon, in the Douay version of the Book of Tobit. The Septuagint, telling of the assassination of Sennacherib whilst Tobit was in hiding, explicitly refers to a king successor of Sennacherib’s, though it does not name him as Esarhaddon, but, instead, as “Sarchedonus”.

This name is generally taken to mean Esarhaddon:

 

http://biblehub.com/topical/s/sarchedonus.htm

sar-ked’-o-nus (Codex Vaticanus Sacherdonos; Codex Alexandrinus Sacherdan, but Sacherdonosos in Tobit 1:22): An incorrect spelling, both in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American), for Sacherdonus in Tobit 1:21, another form of Esar-haddon.

 

Here are the relevant verses (Tobit 1:21-22):

 

And there passed not five and fifty days, before two of his sons killed [Sennacherib], and they fled into the mountains of Ararath [Urartu]; and Sarchedonus his son reigned in his stead; who appointed over his father’s accounts, and over all his affairs, Achiacharus [Ahikar] my brother Anael’s son. And Achiacharus intreating for me, I returned to Nineve. Now Achiacharus was cupbearer, and keeper of the signet, and steward, and overseer of the accounts: and Sarchedonus appointed him next to him: and he was my brother’s son.

 

That discrepancy in numbers that we considered earlier amongst the various versions of the Book of Tobit raises its ugly head here again – for, regarding the 55 (“five and fifty”) days referred to in the above text, other ancient authorities read 40, 45, or 50.

The Douay, whilst never actually mentioning Esarhaddon, seems to make it quite clear, nonetheless, that the next important set of events in the life of Tobit and his family, commencing with Tobit’s becoming blind, all occurred after the death of Sennacherib, “killed by his own sons. And Tobias returned to his house, and all his substance” (1:24-25). For, at the beginning of the very next chapter we read (2:1): “Now when I was come home again, and my wife Anna was restored to me, with my son Tobias, in the feast of Pentecost, which is the holy feast of the seven weeks, there was a good dinner prepared me, in the which I sat down to eat”.

This chapter 2 is the very one that recounts Tobit’s becoming afflicted with blindness.

The NRSV is even more explicit (2:1): “Then during the reign of Esarhaddon I returned home”.

 

If this be the case, then the incident of Tobit’s blindness as narrated in Tobit 2, leading to the westwards journey of Tobias and the angel Raphael (Tobit 6), and the marriage of Tobias to Sarah (Tobit 7-8), the return journey to Nineveh and the recovery of Tobit’s sight (Tobit 11), all belong chronologically after the death of Sennacherib.

And that may well be the case.

 

However, I have reasons for suspecting that it may not have been the case, and that all of Tobit 2-11, as well, had occurred during the reign of Sennacherib, and not in the time of Esarhaddon. In the next section, I shall give my reasons for thinking this.

 

 

Chronology,

mostly in Sennacherib’s reign

 

 

Some errors chronological, numerical, and geographical, can be found in our current versions of the Book of Tobit. These, I think, can easily be corrected. But there may also be a more tricky situation whereby the main body of material in the Book of Tobit (chapters 2-14) has confused the reigns of two neo-Assyrian kings, Sennacherib and Esarhaddon.

 

 

 

Preamble

 

A surface reading of the various versions of the Book of Tobit would suggest, as we have found, a chronological sequence according to which there occurred – almost immediately following the assassination death of Sennacherib who had been seeking the life of Tobit – now during the reign of Esarhaddon, Tobit’s return to his home thanks to the intervention of his nephew, Ahikar; Tobit’s subsequent blindness; and then all of the other marvellous events that are narrated as having occurred after this (Tobit 2-14). That is how the different texts would appear to read. And, as noted earlier, that may indeed be the way that the Book of Tobit is meant to be interpreted.

However, as I have already suggested, Tobit chapter 1 provides a kind of overview of at least the earlier events narrated. Hence it may need to be read as a summary. This, then, would allow for the possibility that some, or all, of what follows it is meant to be folded within the chronology of Tobit 1. And that is what I think is actually the case, that the remainder of the narrative following the account of Sennacherib’s assassination – with the exception of the death and burial of Tobit and his wife, Anna; the account of Tobias’s flight from Nineveh, over whose destruction he will greatly rejoice; and his subsequent death (14:14-17 Douay) – belongs entirely within the reign of Sennacherib, and not Esarhaddon (who is never even mentioned in the Douay version).

My reasons for saying this are very much influenced by previous reconstructions of mine in relation to the Book of Judith, as set out in my university thesis:

 

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background

 

AMAIC_Final_Thesis_2009.pdf

 

Whilst a full discussion of this will be reserved for the next section (below), I would like here to make a relevant preliminary point. As we came to consider king Sennacherib earlier, we read this text (Tobit 1:18):

 

One day Sennacherib cursed God, the King of Heaven; God punished him, and Sennacherib had to retreat from Judah. On his way back to Media he was so furious that he killed many Israelites. But I secretly removed the bodies and buried them; and when Sennacherib later searched for the bodies, he could not find them.

 

About which I wrote:

 

Comment: This verse actually condenses two separate campaigns of Sennacherib, the one referred to above, when he was totally victorious over king Hezekiah of Judah – during the course of which the Assyrian king had blasphemed God – and another, about a decade later, when his massive army of 185,000 was famously routed (“had to retreat”). This last corresponds to the victory of Israel over Assyria as set in motion by the heroic intervention of the pious Simeonite woman, Judith.

[End of quote]

Biblical telescoping of events, such as the campaigns of king Sennacherib of Assyria, can be a source of many headaches for modern biblicists and historians alike – very difficult to untangle. And I think that a mis-reading of Sennacherib’s campaigns may indeed be the source of a confusion of chronology in relation to the Book of Tobit.

 

 

My Reasons for Rejecting Esarhaddon

 

These are largely chronologically-based.

 

(i) Age of Tobias

 

Tobias, at the time of his wedding, is referred to as being a “young man” (Greek: νεανίσκος) (e.g. Tobit 7:2). That would work far better, I would suggest, if Tobias had married Sarah at some point of time between Sennacherib’s two invasions, these being dated in my thesis to, respectively, Sennacherib’s Years 10-11 and 19-20.

Sennacherib’s first major invasion of the west was a massive success, and he went on from there, in his Year 12, to punish the troublesome Merodach-baladan of Babylon (cf. Judith 1:5, where the latter is called “Arphaxad”): “In the twelfth year of his reign King Nebuchadnezzar [= Sennacherib] went to war against King Arphaxad …”. So when Tobit 1:21 (Douay) speaks of the Assyrian armies “fleeing … by reason of the slaughter that God had made”, this cannot refer to the successful first invasion, but only to the second invasion, led by the “Holofernes” of the Book of Judith. The phrase “fleeing from Judea” as given in this verse only serves to add to the confusion, I believe. For, whereas the successful Assyrian invasion conquered Judah, the second one failed to reach there thanks to the intervention of Judith situated in the north (Bethulia near Dothan).

The rout that followed that disastrous campaign for Assyria around Year 20 of Sennacherib must be what is referred to in connection with Tobit 1:24 (Douay): “But after forty-five days, the king was killed by his own sons”. Tobit chapter 1 appears to be a summary of events that occurred during the reigns of Shalmaneser and Sennacherib, culminating in the assassination of Sennacherib.

Reconsidering the life of young Tobias, he was born – we have learned – during the reign of Shalmaneser, but before the family was taken into captivity. My expanded Shalmaneser (beyond the conventionally short-reigning Shalmaneser V) has enabled for Tobit to have officiated on behalf of Shlamaneser for a substantial period of time (Tobit 1:18, Douay): “But after a long time, [Shalmaneser] the king being dead, when Sennacherib his son, who reigned in his place …”. Tobit’s “Shalmaneser” included, in my revision, the mighty Shalmaneser III, who reigned for more than 30 years, and who campaigned in Tobit’s home region of the Hauran as early as his 18th year (http://www.bible-history.com/black-obelisk/shalmaneser-assyria.html): “In the 18th year of my reign I crossed the Euphrates for the sixteenth time. …. As far as the mountains of Hauran I marched”.

We do not know how old Tobias was when the family was taken into Assyrian captivity by this Shalmaneser. But let us take a small figure, 2-5. A “long time” during the reign of Shalmaneser had followed that, say 10-20 years. Tobias, when still a “young man” (νεανίσκος can also men “youth”), married Sarah. I have located that after Sennacherib’s return from Judah in about his Year 11. An estimated minimum figure for the age of Tobias when he, as a young man, married Sarah, would be (2+10+11=) 23 years, whilst an estimated maximum figure would be (5+20+11=) 36 years.

To either of these figures we would need (for Esarhaddon to be the reigning king) to add an extra, say, 10 years until the death of Sennacherib, plus at least the 2 years during the reign of Esarhaddon when Ahikar had tended to Tobit’s blindness before Ahikar himself went to Elymaïs (Tobit 2:10, NRSV). That would lift our estimated minimum figure for the age of Tobias at marriage to (23+10+2=) 35 years, whilst our estimated maximum figure would now become an impossible (36+10+2=) 48 years.

 

Tobit 1:15: “But when Shalmaneser died, and his son Sennacherib reigned in his place, the highways into Media [read Midian] became unsafe and I could no longer go there”, presumably applied to the period when Sennacherib’s armies were campaigning westwards (Years 9-11), making it unsafe to travel there. By the time of Tobit’s blindness, these major western campaigns had recently ceased, but Tobit could still not travel because he could no longer see.

 

(ii) Ahikar in Elymaïs

 

As, noted, the Douay version of the Book of Tobit never once refers to Esarhaddon. However, there are several references to Esarhaddon, presumably, as “Sarchedonus”, in the Septuagint – these being rendered in modern versions as “Esarhaddon”. The references to Esarhaddon in the Tobit 1 overview, when read as a summary, are not at all problematical to my theory that the events narrated in Tobit chapters 2-14 belong to the reign of Sennacherib.

Tobit 1:21-22 (NSRV) reads:

 

But not forty days passed before two of Sennacherib’s sons killed him, and they fled to the mountains of Ararat, and his son Esar-haddon reigned after him. He appointed Ahikar, the son of my brother Hanael over all the accounts of his kingdom, and he had authority over the entire administration. Ahikar interceded for me, and I returned to Nineveh. Now Ahikar was chief cupbearer, keeper of the signet, and in charge of administration of the accounts under King Sennacherib of Assyria; so Esar-haddon reappointed him. He was my nephew and so a close relative.

 

This overview provides some further information about Ahikar admittedly beyond the reign of Sennacherib. However, Ahikar would presumably have been in very good standing with Sennacherib for his so skilfully having served as the king’s mouthpiece, being able to speak Hebrew, before the people of Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:28) during Assyria’s successful invasion of Judah. Hence it is quite plausible that Ahikar was able to “intercede” with Sennacherib on behalf of Tobit, thereby allowing Tobit to return home.

What is definitely problematical for my reconstruction, though, is Tobit 2:1 (NRSV): “Then during the reign of Esarhaddon I [Tobit] returned home”.

The Book of Judith, verse 1:6, may come to my aid here, at least as I have interpreted it in my thesis. For, during the reign of Sennacherib (= “Nebuchadnezzar”), one “Arioch” (or “Erioch”) is found to be ruling “the Elymeans”, and he, I believe, was the same Ahikar.

Thus I wrote (Volume Two, pp. 46-47):

 

Verses 1:6: “Arioch, king of the Elymeans”

 

In [the Book of Judith] 1:6, which gives a description of the geographical locations from which Arphaxad’s allies came, we learn that some of these had hailed from the region of the “Hydaspes, and, on the plain, Arioch, king of the Elymeans”. I disagree with Charles

that: …. “The name Arioch is borrowed from Gen. xiv. i, in accordance with the author’s

love of archaism”. This piece of information, I am going to argue here, is actually a later

gloss to the original text. And I hope to give a specific identification to this king, since, according to Leahy: …. “The identity of Arioch (Vg Erioch) has not been established …”.

What I am going to propose is that Arioch was not actually one of those who had rallied

to the cause of Arphaxad in Year 12 of Nebuchadnezzar, as a superficial reading of [the Book of Judith] though might suggest, but that this was a later addition to the text for the purpose of making more precise for the reader the geographical region from whence came Arphaxad’s allies, specifically the Elamite troops. In other words, this was the very same region as that which Arioch had ruled ….

But commentators express puzzlement about him. Who was this Arioch? And if he were

such an unknown, then what was the value of this gloss for the early readers?

Arioch, I believe, was the very Achior who figures so prominently in the story of Judith.

He was also the legendary Ahikar, a most famous character as we read in Chapter 7. Therefore he was entirely familiar to the Jews, who would have known that he had eventually governed the Assyrian province of Elam. I shall tell about this in a moment.

Some later editor/translator presumably, apparently failing to realise that the person named in this gloss was the very same as the Achior who figures so prominently throughout the main story of [the Book of Judith], has confused matters by calling him by the different name of Arioch. He should have written: “Achior ruled the Elymeans”.

[The Book of Tobit] tells us more. …. he who had been Sennacherib’s Rabshakeh was appointed governor (or ‘king’) of Elymaïs (Elam) (cf. 1:18, 21: 2:10). This was Tobit’s very nephew, Ahikar/Achior. …. From there it is an easy matter to make this comparison:

 

“Achior … Elymeans” [Book of Judith]; “Ahikar (var. Achior) … Elymaïs” [Book of Tobit].

 

[End of quote]

 

Tobit had apparently again – even after his persecution and having to flee for his life from king Sennacherib for burying the dead, and then being restored thanks to Ahikar – risen up from his festival of Pentecost meal to bury a murdered compatriot (2:1-4), thereby eliciting this response from his neighbours (v. 8): “And my neighbors laughed and said, ‘Is he still not afraid? He has already been hunted down to be put to death for doing this, and he ran away; yet here he is again burying the dead!’ This reaction of Tobit’s neighbours would, I think, make more sense had it occurred still during the reign of Sennacherib, rather than of Esarhaddon about whom we know of no such animosity towards Tobit or any of his relatives.

 

(iii) Ahikar and Nadin

 

Late in the Book of Tobit, after Tobias had returned home to Nineveh with his wife, Sarah, and old Tobit had been cured of his blindness, we read (11:17-18): “That day brought joy to the Jews of Nineveh, and his cousins Ahikar and Nadin [Nadab] came to share in Tobit’s happiness”. (“Cousins” appears to be used in a very loose sense here). If this event really occurred during the reign of Esarhaddon, then it would be devastating to my reconstruction in:

 

“Nadin went into everlasting darkness”

 

https://www.academia.edu/7177604/_Nadin_went_into_everlasting_darkness_

 

that has equated this “Nadin” with the “Holofernes” of the Book of Judith, who should be well and truly dead by the time that Esarhaddon had come to the throne. A mere three chapters after we are told that Nadin had shared in Tobit’s happiness, we read these Tobit’s horrifying words about Nadin’s betrayal of Ahikar (14:10):

 

‘Remember what Nadin did to Ahikar his own uncle who had brought him up. He tried to kill Ahikar and forced him to go into hiding in a tomb. Ahikar came back into the light of day, but God sent Nadin down into everlasting darkness for what he had done. Ahikar escaped the deadly trap which Nadin had set for him, because Ahikar had given generously to the poor. But Nadin fell into that fatal trap and it destroyed him’.

 

I, being confident that this can only refer to the Achior and Holofernes incident of the Judith drama, must definitely favour Sennacherib over Esarhaddon as the Assyrian ruler at this time.

 

 

  1. Officiating in Egypt

 

 

“In folktale manner in the style of Jewish aggada … [the Testament of Job]

elaborates upon the Book of Job making Job a king in Egypt”.

 

 

Introduction

 

We left Tobias (= Job) as a young married man, and with the family and friends rejoicing over the ageing Tobit now cured of his blindness.

All of this in the reign of Sennacherib.

 

With the assassination death of Sennacherib, and his perhaps more favourably-disposed son Esarhaddon’s rise to the throne of Assyria,

 

http://www.geocities.ws/robertp6165/saitetimeline.html Esarhaddon, in contrast to usual Assyrian practice, is moderate in the implementation of the occupation of Egypt compared to past policies in other provinces, respecting local traditions as far as possible.

 

the way now lies open for a new phase of career for Tobit – who had so faithfully served king Shalmaneser, father of Sennacherib, and with yet some 40 years of health to look forward to – and for the long-lived Tobias/Job.

The illustrious career of Tobias/Job, not covered in the Book of Tobit, is glimpsed through Job’s recollections in various places, most notably in, as we have read, Job 29.

For any further information, we need to go outside the books of Tobit and Job, to writings such as The Testament of Job and, perhaps (for Catholic readers), the visions of the holy mystic, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich.

According to The Testament of Job, the prophet Job was a king in Egypt. David deSilva tells of this (http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195329001.001.1/):

Scholars generally agree that the work was composed in Egypt, especially since the author situates Job himself in Egypt as a king (T. Job 28:7) in contrast with the biblical setting in “Uz” (Job 1:1). Attempts to link the work more closely with the Therapeutae, a Jewish sect in Egypt with some resemblances to the Essenes, are interesting but inconclusive.20

 

But that is not all, for it seems that strong Egyptian influences can also be detected throughout the Book of Job, at least according to the Rev. G. Knight, in Nile and Jordan (1921).

This would make perfect sense if Job – and/or the author[s] of the book – had spent a substantial period of time in that country.

 

What I would be looking for at this stage in my historical search for an illustrious career for Tobias/Job – and perhaps also for his father, Tobit – would be an appointment during the reign of king Esarhaddon of Assyria (continuing on with Ashurbanipal in the case of Tobias/Job), and one that included serving in Egypt, presumably at a very high level.

And I think that, in Montuemhat [Mantimanhe] and his father Nesptah, at Thebes in Egypt, I may have found just the sort of pattern that I am looking for. We read about these two most significant characters at: http://www.newchronology.org/fullt/53.txt

 

Mayor Montuemhat is perhaps the most interesting Theban figure known to Egyptologists from the complex period of transition between the Kushite 25th and Saite 26th Dynasties. This was also, of course, the time of the invasions of Egypt by the Assyrian kings Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal which included the sacking of Thebes in 664 BC. His standing in the Theban community during this turbulent period of Egyptian history cannot

simply be measured by the great number of titles and offices which he held. Montuemhat was certainly more influential than a mere ‘mayor’ or ‘Fourth Prophet of Amun’. Indeed, Ashurbanipal records him as ‘king of Thebes’ on the ‘Rassam Cylinder where his name appears in the Akkadian writing as ‘Mantimanhe’.

 

Comment: This is the precise chronological era in neo-Assyrian history that I would expect to find Tobias/Job serving as an official, from the reign of Esarhaddon through to Ashurbanipal. “Esarhaddon appoints various native [sic?] noblemen as governors, functionaries and scribes in the provinces of Egypt” (http://www.geocities.ws/robertp6165/saitetimeline.html)

Note, too, that Montuemhat was a “Prophet”, and also that he was a servant of the god, Amun, like Senenmut (Solomon in Egypt). See my:

 

Solomon and Sheba

 

https://www.academia.edu/3660164/Solomon_and_Sheba

 

according to which (Amun) Amon-Ra was the King of All Gods.

Thomas C. Hamilton has written along similar lines in his “Amunism and Atenism” (http://kabane52.tumblr.com/post/132812715270/amunism-and-atenism):

 

I have pointed out in the past that the descriptions of Amun in Egyptian literature converge in fascinating ways with the biblical description of God. Amun-Re is a sun-god. The sun, of course, is one of the Lord’s chief symbols in Scripture, and the nations worshiped God as the “God of Heaven.” This is why the phenomenon of original monotheism is called the “sky-god” phenomenon. That a god was associated with the sun does not mean that he had always been identified with the sun. Indeed, I think the “fusion” of Amun and Re was the recovery of a pristine monotheistic religion. Just as Yahweh and El were two titles for one God, so also Amun and Re. Imhotep, whom I have identified with Joseph, served as High Priest of Re at Heliopolis.

[End of quote]

 

Above all, Montuemhat was – as tradition has recorded of the prophet Job – a “king”.

The great Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal, graces him with the title, “king of Thebes”.

Further on, we shall read that Montuemhat had ruled over a massive portion of Egypt. This would have become possible as the neo-Assyrian kings managed to push far southwards the Kushite rulers of 25th dynasty of Egypt.

Finally, Ashurbanipal even conquered the great city of Thebes (664 BC, conventional dating). This would likely mean that Montuemhat, who lived beyond this cataclysmic event, would have been an actual witness to it. No wonder then that he – if as Job, as Nahum:

 

Prophet Nahum as Tobias-Job Comforted

 

https://www.academia.edu/8729042/Prophet_Nahum_as_Tobias-Job_Comforted

 

could write of Nineveh (Nahum 3:8): “… are you better than No Amon [Thebes] …?”

The article continues:

 

Montuemhat’s noble descent was certainly of help in his acquisition of the various offices of state, positions which had been handed down for generations from father to son. Already before him his great grandfather, Harsiese, and grand-father, Khaemhor, had been mayors of Thebes, viziers and prophets of Amun during the late 22nd Dynasty and also under the hegemony of the early Kushite pharaohs Shabaka and Shabataka.

From his father, Nesptah, he directly inherited the title of ‘Mayor of Thebes’ and, in addition, he was holder of the office of ‘Governor of Upper Egypt’. Besides these significant civil and administrative posts, Montuemhat also acted as a religious functionary for the cult of Amun. However, in spite of his dominant position as mayor of the great religious centre of Egypt, he only reached the rank of ‘Fourth Prophet of Amun’

within the great temple of Amun at Karnak itself. He did record the title of ‘Second Prophet’ on certain monuments, but unfortunately without mentioning the deity to whom the post obtained. The position of ‘Prophet of Montu’, which also had been within the inheritance of this powerful Theban family, was transferred to his brother, Harsiese, who then handed the title down to his own son. Nevertheless, a son of Montuemhat named Paherienmut later rose to the rank of a ‘Third Prophet of Montu’.

 

Comment: Who were these illustrious forbears of Montuemhat from whom he could apparently boast “noble descent”? Surely not, though (in my context), “native” Egyptians, as historians naturally think. In this series we have observed that Tobit and other of his relatives, especially Ahikar – and later Tobias/Job himself – were extremely significant public figures, some attaining to the very highest official positions in the kingdom of Assyria. The legendary ‘Story of Ahikar’ tells of Ahikar’s involvement with Egypt and its Pharaoh on behalf of king Sennacherib.

As we deepen our knowledge of the presumed Theban mayors, Khaemhor and Harsiese, “during the late 22nd Dynasty”, we may be able to get a better handle on the tortuous Third Intermediate Period [TIP] of Egyptian history (21st-25th dynasties).

The article continues, turning now to more of a consideration of Montuemhat’s father, Nesptah (Nesiptah):

 

While we possess a significant amount of information concerning Montuemhat’s father, Nesptah, very little is known about his mother, Istemkheb, a very common name of the time. Montuemhat seems to have had three wives. His principal spouse was apparently the lady Neskhons, for her son, Nesptah, became Montuemhat’s heir and successor. In his father’s tomb in Asasif (Western Thebes) Nesptah is depicted performing the funeral rites and making offerings to his deceased father (for the discovery of the burial of Nesptah see JACF 2, p. 82). His other wives were the lady Shepenmut and a Nubian princess named Udjarenes. The latter appears in the tomb of Montuemhat in statue groups and reliefs accompanying her husband. It seems likely that the marriage of Montuemhat to this Nubian princess was undertaken as a gesture of loyalty towards the Kushite kings under whose rule he began his career.

 

Comment: All of the names here are Egyptian: Montuemhat, his father, Nesptah, his mother, Istemkheb, his wife, Neskhons. The Hebrew versions, I suggest, were, respectively, Tobias/Job, (his father) Tobit, (his mother) Anna, (his wife) Sarah.

The name Montuemhat itself may have great significance following on from my argument, albeit most controversial, that Tobias/Job was the matrix for the Prophet Mohammed:

 

Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Two: From Birth to Marriage

 

https://www.academia.edu/28216595/Biography_of_the_Prophet_Mohammed_Muhammad_Seriously_Mangles_History._Part_Two_From_Birth_to_Marriage

 

In that article, I wrote this about the name similarities, or even equivalents:

 

Birth of Mohammed

 

Given as c. 570 … the “Year of the Elephant”. But revised here to the reign of Sennacherib. Mohammed’s parents are traditionally given as ‘Abdullah and Aminah, or Amna. Now, this information is what really confirms me in my view that Tobias is a major influence in the biography of Mohammed, because the names of Tobias’s parents boil down to very much the same as those of Mohammed. Tobit is a Greek version of the name ‘Obad-iah, the Hebrew yod having been replaced by a ‘T’.

And ‘Obadiah, or ‘Abdiel, is, in Arabic ‘Abdullah, the name of Mohammed’s father.

And Amna is as close a name as one could get to Anna, the wife of Tobit ….

Tobias (my Job) is the biblico-historical foundation for the young Mohammed!

 

[End of quote]

 

May we now include, alongside Tobit = ‘Abdullah and Anna = Amna, our alter ego for Tobias/Job, Montuemhat = Mohammad?

Whilst I have thought to identify Job’s wife as Sarah of the Book of Tobit:

 

Did Job’s Wife really say to the Prophet: ‘Curse God and die’? Part Two. Job’s Wife as Sarah of Book of Tobit.

 

https://www.academia.edu/12073444/Did_Job_s_Wife_really_say_to_the_Prophet_Curse_God_and_die_Part_Two._Job_s_Wife_as_Sarah_of_Book_of_Tobit

 

and now potentially, in an Egyptian context: “His principal spouse … lady Neskhons”, it is quite credible, given the progeny of Job, that he had other, lesser, wives as well.

“Montuemhat seems to have had three wives”, we read above.

And, according to Bl. Catherine Emmerich (The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary: http://www.ecatholic2000.com/anne/lom163.shtml), who has located Job to pre-Abrahamic times, the holy man had a total of four wives: “Job’s first wife was of the tribe of Peleg: after many adventures, when he was living in his third home, he married three more wives of the same tribe”. Compare Tobit 6:15: “The angel replied, ‘Have you already forgotten your father’s instructions? He told you to marry a woman from your own tribe. So, listen carefully to what I say. Don’t worry about the demon. Marry Sarah!’.”

Anne Catherine Emmerich also has Job for a time in Egypt:

The spring which appeared at Matarea in answer to the Blessed Virgin’s prayers was not a new one, but an old one which gushed forth afresh. It had been choked but was still lined with masonry. I saw that Job had been in Egypt … and had dwelt on this spot in this place. [172] It was he who found the spring, and he made sacrifices on the great stone lying here. Job was the youngest of thirteen brothers. His father was a great chieftain ….

[Job] made a great expedition to Egypt, a land which at that time was ruled by foreign kings …. They ruled over only a part of Egypt, and were later driven out by an Egyptian king. [174]

…. The king of these shepherds from Job’s country desired a wife for his son … and Job brought this royal bride (who was related to him) to Egypt with a great following. He had thirty camels with him, and many menservants and rich presents. He was still young–a tall man of a pleasing yellow-brown color, with reddish hair. The people in Egypt were dirty brown in color. At that time Egypt was not thickly populated; only here and there were large masses of people. ….

The king showed Job great honor, and was unwilling to let him go away again. He was very anxious for him to emigrate to Egypt with his whole tribe ….

Job was to be sure a heathen [sic], but he was an upright man who acknowledged the true God and worshipped Him as the Creator of all that he saw in nature, the stars, and the ever-changing light. He was never tired of speaking with God of His wonderful creations. He worshipped none of the horrible figures of beasts adored by the other races of mankind in his time ….

Job found a terrible form of idolatry here in this city, descending from the heathen magical rites practiced at the building of the Tower of Babel. They had an idol with a broad ox’s head, rising to a point at the top. Its mouth was open, and behind its head were twisted horns. Its body was hollow, fire was made in it, and live children were thrust into its glowing arms. …

There were intervals of calm between the great misfortunes that befell Job: the first interval lasted nine years, the second seven, and the third twelve. The words in the Book of Job: “And while he (the messenger of evil) was yet speaking” mean “This misfortune of his was still the talk of the people when the following befell him”. ….

[End of quote]

 

 

Also of relevance is mention of Montuemhat’s “making offerings to his deceased father” in light of Tobit 14:11: “Then they laid Tobit on his bed. He died and was given an honorable burial”.

According to the Montuemhat article, he was a man of “undoubted political skills”:

The first time we come across Montuemhat in the texts is during the reign of pharaoh Taharka (690-664BC). He continues in office, no doubt as a result of his undoubted political skills, throughout the trauma of the Assyrian sack of Thebes and is still attending to his duties when the Saite pharaoh, Psamtek I, sends his daughter, Nitocris, to Thebes to become the ‘God’s Wife of Amun at a special adoption ceremony in 655 BC. As was the tradition of the period, the incumbent God’s Wife, Shepenupet (daughter of the last Nubian king Tanutamun) formerly accepted the young Nitocris as her successor, thus handing over to the Saite princess much of the power and authority of the Amun cult and its estates. Since Montuemhat was the effective ruler of Thebes following the departure of the Assyrian forces in around 662, he was undoubtedly directly involved in the political manoeuvres which brought Nitocris to Upper Egypt and his long term experience of the machinations of Theban political life may have presented him with the opportunity to act as mediator in the negotiations between the Kushite faction still at Thebes and the new dynastic power of the western Delta which was based at the new capital of Sais.

 

Comment: Was this situation involving Montuemhat and Nitocris, the ‘God’s Wife of Amun’, what Catherine Emmerich had recollected: “Job brought this royal bride (who was related to him) to Egypt with a great following”?

Montuemhat’s territory of rule was extremely vast and he officiated there for a long period of time, “a full 30 years” according to the following:

 

With the Thebaid as his residence, Montuemhat ruled a region stretching as far south as Elepha[n]tine at the First Cataract and up to Hermopolis in the north. At Abydos he was responsible for restoration work in the Osireion and at Karnak he constructed, or at least decorated, some of the chambers of the Temple of Mut, just to the south of the Amun temple complex at Karnak. The political ups and downs of the time are also reflected in the contemporary art. By chance, numerous statues of Montuemhat have come down to us in remarkable condition – more than a dozen cut from dark hardstone. The early pieces, made during the 25th Dynasty, show the typical style of the Kushite rulers, in spite of the fact that Montuemhat was himself a native Egyptian [sic]. It is likely, therefore, that Kushite craftsmen were commissioned to undertake the work for the Theban mayor, or at least their influence was predominant at the local court. His later representations, on the

other hand, are characteristic of early Saite art, with the typical archaising canon which was such a feature of the 26th Dynasty ‘renaissance’. Even in his old age Montuemhat was responsible for an expedition to the quarries of the Wadi Gasus in the Eastern Desert. The rock-carved inscription left there by him is actually the last dated record of Montuemhat known to us. He died sometime around 648 BC. Thus his career continued on through the first 16 years of Psamtek 1’s reign and in total spanned a full 30 years.

 

His tomb (Asasif no. TT. 34) is the most significant monument in the eastern area of the

giant cliff bay of Deir el-Bahri. The impressive mudbrick pylon even today dominates the land-scape of this part of the necropolis, marking the location of the largest private tomb in Western Thebes. ….

 

 

 

Arioch and Achior (Ahikar)

Published September 2, 2016 by amaic

imagesCAW0EECR

“Arioch, King of the Elymeans”

 (Judith 1:6)

  

by

Damien F. Mackey

  

Is the Book of Judith merely a pious fable, and thus quite un-historical, with a character like “Arioch”, the ruler of Elam, thrown in due to the author’s supposed “love of archaism”?

 

 

This is what I wrote about “Arioch” in my university thesis:

 

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background

AMAIC_Final_Thesis_2009.pdf

 

(Volume Two, pp. 46-47):

 

Verses 1:6: “Arioch, king of the Elymeans”

 

In [the Book of Judith] 1:6, which gives a description of the geographical locations from which Arphaxad’s allies came, we learn that some of these had hailed from the region of the “Hydaspes, and, on the plain, Arioch, king of the Elymeans”. I disagree with Charles

that: …. “The name Arioch is borrowed from Gen. xiv. i, in accordance with the author’s

love of archaism”. This piece of information, I am going to argue here, is actually a later

gloss to the original text. And I hope to give a specific identification to this king, since, according to Leahy: …. “The identity of Arioch (Vg Erioch) has not been established …”.

 

What I am going to propose is that Arioch was not actually one of those who had rallied

to the cause of Arphaxad in Year 12 of Nebuchadnezzar, as a superficial reading of [the Book of Judith] though might suggest, but that this was a later addition to the text for the purpose of making more precise for the reader the geographical region from whence came Arphaxad’s allies, specifically the Elamite troops. In other words, this was the very same region as that which Arioch had ruled ….

 

But commentators express puzzlement about him. Who was this Arioch? And if he were

such an unknown, then what was the value of this gloss for the early readers?

 

Arioch, I believe, was the very Achior who figures so prominently in the story of Judith.

He was also the legendary Ahikar, a most famous character as we read in Chapter 7. Therefore he was entirely familiar to the Jews, who would have known that he had eventually governed the Assyrian province of Elam. I shall tell about this in a moment.

 

Some later editor/translator presumably, apparently failing to realise that the person named in this gloss was the very same as the Achior who figures so prominently throughout the main story of [the Book of Judith], has confused matters by calling him by the different name of Arioch. He should have written: “Achior ruled the Elymeans”.

 

[The Book of Tobit] tells us more. …. he who had been Sennacherib’s Rabshakeh was appointed governor (or ‘king’) of Elymaïs (Elam) (cf. 1:18, 21: 2:10). This was Tobit’s very nephew, Ahikar/Achior.

…. From there it is an easy matter to make this comparison:

 

“Achior … Elymeans” [Book of Judith]; “Ahikar (var. Achior) … Elymaïs” [Book of Tobit].

 

[End of quote]

 

 

Though I had not appreciated it when writing my thesis, Achior’s governorship over the Elamites may help to solve a crucial problem affecting the canonicity of the Book of Judith, which presents Achior as an “Ammonite”.

Thesis, p. 22:

 

… Judith may have been excluded from the Hebrew canon because the Rabbis, who were responsible for fixing the canon in the last stages of the canonizing process, disapproved of the book’s universalism, i.e., its accepting attitude toward the towns of Samaria and its approval of an Ammonite’s admittance into the Jewish faith (so Steinmann ….).

 

On p. 58, I had provided a big part of the solution, for if Achior were indeed Ahikar, I argued, then he would actually have been an Israelite:

 

Now Achior provides Holofernes with a basic run-down of Israelite history from Abraham to their present day (vv. 6-19). Again I must ask: Would a pagan Ammonite have been likely to have known the history of Israel in such detail, going back to deep antiquity? Anyway Holofernes will soon afterwards contemptuously call Achior an “Ephraïmite hireling [or mercenary]” (6:2). And this is a correct designation for him, Ephraïm being a common appellation for northern Israel. Though some versions of [Book of Judith] maintain their consistency by continuing to read ‘Ammon’. ….

The whole exegetical problem of Achior’s supposedly being an Ammonite leader is solved, I think, when one recognises who Achior really was. He was, not a pagan Ammonite, but a Naphtalian Israelite; though at this stage an uncircumcised one.

 

Whilst this is perfectly true, I think that some further clarification now needs to be added to it.

Achior was ethnically an Israelite of the tribe of Naphtali, and so Holofernes was entirely correct in designating him an “Ephraïmite”.

But Achior was now also, under the authority of the Assyrians, a ruler (or governor) of a pagan people – but not the Ammonites. Problematical verses such as Judith 5:5, according to which: “Then Achior, the leader of all the Ammonites …”, most certainly need to be amended to read: “Then Achior, the leader of all the Elamites …”.

Such indeed Achior also was.