King Ahab and his Two Sons
Damien F. Mackey
It is gratifying for me to find that King Ahab had, in his two El Amarna [EA] manifestations, also – as Lab’ayu and pharaoh Amenhotep IV (Naphuria) (my revision) – two prominent sons.
He actually had many more than just the two sons, but the others came to grief all at once. “Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria” (2 Kings 10:1). These were all slain during the bloody rampage of Jehu (vv. 1-10).
“So Jehu killed all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men and his close acquaintances and his priests, until he left him none remaining” (v. 11).
Prior to this, Ahab had been succeeded on the throne by his two prominent sons. We read about them, for instance, at: https://bible.org/seriespage/7-my-way-story-ahab-and-jezebel
Yet their influence lived on in their children. And this is often the saddest side effect of lives like Ahab’s and Jezebel’s. Two sons of Ahab and Jezebel later ruled in Israel. The first was Ahaziah. Of him God says, “And he did evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. So he served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger according to all that his father had done” (1 Kgs. 22:52, 53). The second son to reign was Jehoram. As Jehu rode to execute vengeance on the house of Ahab, Jehoram cried, “Is it peace, Jehu?” Jehu summed up Jehoram’s reign with his reply: “What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?” (2 Kgs. 9:22).
[End of quote]
Queen Jezebel provides a link from the Bible to the EA letters in the person of Baalat Neše:
Is El Amarna’s “Baalat Neše” Biblically Identifiable?
I have identified the literate woman, Baalat Neše, with Queen Jezebel, the wife of Ahab. Moreover, I have suggested that Baalat Neše, “Mistress of Lions”, was married to EA’s Lab’ayu, “the Lion Man”.
Logically, then, Lab’ayu must be the biblical Ahab:
Is El Amarna’s Lab’ayu Biblically Identifiable?
He, likewise, had two prominent sons, as is apparent from the multiple references by the correspondent Addu-qarrad to “the two sons of Lab’aya [Lab’ayu]” in EA Letter 250
EA 250: Addu-qarrad (of Gitti-padalla) ….
To the king my lord, say: message from Addu-qarrad your servant. At the feet of the king my lord, seven and seven times I throw myself. Let the king my lord know that the two sons of the traitor of the king my lord, the two sons of Lab’aya, have directed their intentions to sending the land of the king into ruin, in addition to that which their father had sent into ruin. Let the king my lord know that the two sons of Lab’aya continually seek me: “Why did you give into the hand of the king your lord Gitti-padalla, a city that Lab’aya our father had taken?” Thus the two sons of Lab’aya said to me: “Make war against the men of Qina, because they killed our father! And if you don’t make way we will be your enemies!” But I responded to those two: “The god of the king my lord will save me from making war with the men of Qina, servants of the king my lord!” If it seems opportune to the king my lord to send one of his Grandees to Biryawaza, who tells him: “Go against the two sons of Lab’aya, (otherwise) you are a traitor to the king!” And beyond that the king my lord writes to me: “D[o] the work of the king your lord against the two sons of Lab’aya!” [..]. Milki-Ilu concerning those two, has become [..] amongst those two. So the life of Milki-Ilu is lit up at the introduction of the two sons of Lab’aya into the city of Pi(hi)li to send the rest of the land of the king my lord into ruin, by means of those two, in addition to that which was sent into ruin by Milki-Ilu and Lab’aya! Thus say the two sons of Lab’aya: “Make war against the king your lord, as our father, when he was against Shunamu and against Burquna and against Harabu, deport the bad and exalt the faithful! He took Gitti-rimunima and opened the camps of the king your lord!” But I responded to those two: “The god of the king my lord is my salvation from making war against the king my lord! I serve the king my lord and my brothers who obey me!” But the messenger of Milki-Ilu doesn’t distance himself from the two sons of Lab’aya. Who today looks to send the land of the king my lord into ruin is Milki-Ilu, while I have no other intention than to serve the king my lord. The words that the king my lord says I hear!
EA correspondences pertaining to Lab’ayu, such as this one, are generally presumed by historians to have been addressed to pharaoh Akhnaton (= Amenhotep IV, EA’s Naphuria). That this could seem to be a problem for my revision has been picked up by a reader who wrote: “I’ve wondered for a long time how all these letters referring to Lab’ayu could be written to … Akhenaten. Was Ahab writing to himself?”
No pharaoh, however, is actually referred to in these letters, as I observed in my:
Is El Amarna’s Lab’ayu Biblically Identifiable? Part One (b): Was Lab’ayu even writing to a Pharaoh?
Tentatively, I, in my postgraduate thesis:
A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah
and its Background
suggested that the one son of Lab’ayu actually named in the EA correspondence, Mut-Baal, may have been Ahab’s older son, Ahaziah (Volume One, pp. 87-88):
Like Lab’ayu, the biblical Ahab could indeed be an outspoken person, bold in speech to both fellow kings and prophets (cf. 1 Kings 18:17; 20:11). But Lab’ayu, like all the other duplicitous Syro-Palestinian kings, instinctively knew when, and how, to grovel to pharaoh [as I had still accepted at this time: Mackey’s comment]. Thus, when having to protest his loyalty and readiness to pay tribute to the crown, Lab’ayu really excelled himself: … “Further: In case the king should write for my wife, would I refuse her? In case the king should write to me: “Run a dagger of bronze into thy heart and die”, would I not, indeed, execute the command of the king?”
Lab’ayu moreover may have – like Ahab – used Hebrew speech. The language of the EA letters is Akkadian, but one letter by Lab’ayu, EA 252, proved to be very difficult to translate. ….
Albright … in 1943, published a more satisfactory translation than had hitherto been
possible by discerning that its author had used a good many so-called ‘Canaanite’ words plus two Hebrew proverbs! EA 252 has a stylised introduction in the typical EA formula and in the first 15 lines utilises only two ‘Canaanite’ words. Thereafter, in the main body of the text, Albright noted (and later scholars have concurred) that Lab’ayu used only about 20% pure Akkadian, “with 40% mixed or ambiguous, and no less than 40% pure Canaanite”. Albright further identified the word nam-lu in line 16 as the Hebrew word for ‘ant’ (nemalah), נְמָלָה, the Akkadian word being zirbabu. Lab’ayu had written: “If ants are smitten, they do not accept (the smiting) quietly, but they bite the hand of the man who smites them”. Albright recognised here a parallel with the two biblical Proverbs mentioning ants (6:6 and 30:25).
Ahab likewise was inclined to use a proverbial saying as an aggressive counterpoint to a potentate. When the belligerent Ben-Hadad I sent him messengers threatening: ‘May the gods do this to me and more if there are enough handfuls of rubble in Samaria for all the people in my following [i.e. my massive army]’ (1 Kings 20:10), Ahab answered: ‘The proverb says: The man who puts on his armour is not the one who can boast, but the man who takes it off’ (v.11).
“It is a pity”, wrote Rohl and Newgrosh … “that Albright was unable to take his reasoning process just one step further because, in almost every instance where he detected the use of what he called ‘Canaanite’ one could legitimately substitute the term ‘Hebrew’.”
Lab’ayu’s son too, Mut-Baal – my tentative choice for Ahaziah of Israel (c. 853 BC) …. also displayed in one of his letters (EA 256) some so-called ‘Canaanite’ and mixed origin words. Albright noted of line 13: … “As already recognized by the interpreters, this idiom is pure Hebrew”. Albright even went very close to admitting that the local speech was Hebrew: ….
… phonetically, morphologically, and syntactically the people then living in the
district … spoke a dialect of Hebrew (Canaanite) which was very closely akin to that of Ugarit. The differences which some scholars have listed between Biblical Hebrew and Ugaritic are, in fact, nearly all chronological distinctions.
But even these ‘chronological distinctions’ cease to be a real issue in the Velikovskian context, according to which both the EA letters and the Ugaritic tablets are re-located to the time of the Divided Monarchy.
My identification of the biblical Queen Jezebel (= EA’s Baalat Neše) with Queen Nefertiti, wife of pharaoh Akhnaton, enables for a streamlining of my thesis view that Nefertiti/Jezebel had first been with Ahab, and then with Akhnaton.
Far preferable now to regard Ahab as Akhnaton.
Pharaoh Akhnaton (Naphuria)
Following on from this equation, Ahab = (pharaoh) Akhnaton, then Ahab’s two regal sons, Ahaziah and Jehoram, would most likely be, respectively, Smenkhkare and Tutankhamun. Though opinions can differ as to whether one or these latter was a true son of Akhnaton, according to http://ib205.tripod.com/akhenaten.html : there is “a good possibility that the two successors of Akhenaten [Akhnaton] – Smenkhkare and his brother Tutankhamun are both Akhenaten’s own sons”.
With this father-to-son relationship in mind, I have written:
The Fall and the Fall of Pharaoh Smenkhkare
I have also written articles on Jehoram as Tutankhamun – these many need some fine tuning.