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Artaxerxes III and Nebuchednezzar II

Published January 29, 2017 by amaic

Image result for persian rule of babylon

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

“The very existence of a Median empire, with the emphasis on empire, is thus

questionable” (H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, “Was there ever a Median Empire?”, in

  1. Kuhrt, H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, eds., Achaemenid History III. Method and

Theory, Leiden, 1988, p. 212).

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Professor Gunnar Heinsohn (University of Bremen) and Emmet Sweeney, historical revisionists, have, in recent times, arrived at some startling conclusions about ancient history – some of these warranting further critical examination, whilst other of their views appear to me to be extreme and well wide of the mark. In order to account for an apparent lack of due stratigraphy for, say, the Mitannians, or the neo-Assyrians, or the Medo-Persians, this pair (not always in perfect agreement) will attempt to merge any one of these with a far earlier kingdom, for instance, the ancient Akkadians to be merged as one with the neo-Assyrians. Lester Mitcham, however, was able to expose Sweeney’s choices for comparisons using firm archaeological data in his article, “Support for Heinsohn’s Chronology is Misplaced” (SIS Chronology and Catastrophism Workshop, No 1, May 1988).

The Akkadians and the neo-Assyrians were found to be two quite distinct peoples, well-separated in time, and speaking and writing quite different languages.

Mitcham demonstrated similarly the archaeological impossibility of Heinsohn’s and Sweeney’s bold efforts to fuse the Old Babylonian Dynasty of Hammurabi with the Persians – King Hammurabi supposedly being the same as Darius the Great.

Once again, different peoples, different geographies, different times.

Heinsohn and Sweeney do, however, have some degree of support for their argument that the Persian Empire, as classically presented, is seriously lacking in due archaeological strata. Heinsohn, in his far-reaching “The Restoration of Ancient History” (http://www.mikamar.biz/symposium/heinsohn.txt), refers to the results of some conferences in the 1980’s pointing to difficulties regarding the extent of the Medo-Persian empires:

 

In the 1980’s, a series of eight major conferences brought together the world’s finest experts on the history of the Medish and Persian empires. They reached startling results. The empire of Ninos [pre-Alexander period (3)] was not even mentioned. Yet, its Medish successors were extensively dealt with-to no great avail. In 1988, one of the organizers of the eight conferences, stated the simple absence of an empire of the Medes [pre-Alexander period (2)]: “A Median oral tradition as a source for Herodotus III is a hypothesis that solves some problems, but has otherwise little to recommend it … This means that not even in Herodotus’ Median history a real empire is safely attested. In Assyrian and Babylonian records and in the archeological evidence no vestiges of an imperial structure can be found. The very existence of a Median empire, with the emphasis on empire, is thus questionable” (H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, “Was there ever a Median Empire?”, in A. Kuhrt, H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, eds., Achaemenid History III. Method and Theory, Leiden, 1988, p. 212).

 

Two years later came the really bewildering revelation. Humankind’s first world empire of the Persians [Pre-Alexander Period (1)] did not fare much better than the Medes. Its imperial dimensions had dryly to be labelled “elusive” (H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, “The quest for an elusive empire?”, in H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, A. Kuhrt, eds., Achaemenid History IV. Centre and Periphery, Leiden l990, p. 264).

 

Xerxes something of a ‘Ghost’

 

 

This series considers what has worked, and what has not, in attempts so far to revise Medo-Persian history, by shortening it, so that it may the better accord with the dearth of archaeological strata.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Professor Gunnar Heinsohn (University of Bremen) had put forward a most controversial ‘solution’ to account for the problems of Medo-Persian archaeology by attempting to identify the Persians with the Old Babylonian Dynasty of Hammurabi – Darius ‘the Great’ being Hammurabi himself.

More recently (2002) Emmet Sweeney, who has been a supporter of Heinsohn, has sought to fuse the Persians with the neo-Assyrians and neo-Babylonians, so that, for instance, Cyrus the Great is to be identified with Tiglath-pileser III; Xerxes with Sennacherib; and Artaxerxes III with Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’. In the following passage, in which he claims to be following Heinsohn, Sweeney refers again to the archaeological problem associated with the Persian Empire (“Did Artaxerxes III Despoil the Temple in Jerusalem?”, C and C Review, 2002:2, p. 15):

 

A fundamental principle of Gunnar Heinsohn’s work is that the so-called Neo-Assyrians must be identical to the Persians. Heinsohn was forced to that conclusion for a very simple reason: Mesopotamia could provide little or no archaeology for two centuries during which it was part of the Achaemenid Empire. Indeed the absence of Persian strata is so complete that some modern scholars, most notably Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg of the Netherlands, have come to doubt the very existence of a Persian Empire …. This Persian disappearing act constitutes more or less a ‘dark age’ in the historiography of the ancient Near East.

[End of quote]

 

 

Some of the so-called Persian Kings

were semi-legendary, and composite

 

The mighty king, Xerxes, favoured by various commentators to represent “Ahasuerus”, the Great King of the Book of Esther, is most likely a composite character, a mix of real Assyrian and Medo-Persian kings. Here, for instance, we consider his likenesses to Sennacherib as pointed out by Emmet Sweeney.

 

 

The name ‘Xerxes’ is thought by historians to accord extremely well linguistically with “Ahasuerus”, the name of the Great King of the Book of Esther.

There are several kings “Ahasuerus” in the (Catholic) Bible: in Tobit; in Esther; in Ezra; and in Daniel.

 

As Cyaxares

 

The one in Tobit is usually considered to refer to the Cyaxares who conquered Nineveh. See e.g. my:

 

“Ahasuerus” in Book of Tobit

 

https://www.academia.edu/24959960/_Ahasuerus_in_Book_of_Tobit

 

“But before [Tobias] died, he heard of the destruction of Nineveh, which was taken by Nebuchadnezzar and Ahasuerus; and before his death he rejoiced over Nineveh”. (Tobit 14:15)

 

and:

 

“Ahasuerus” in Book of Tobit. Part Two: The Name “Ahasuerus”

 

https://www.academia.edu/24960471/_Ahasuerus_in_Book_of_Tobit._Part_Two_The_Name_Ahasuerus_

 

in which I discuss the name, “Ahasuerus”.

Cyaxares, again, is probably the “Ahasuerus” mentioned as the father of Darius the Mede in Daniel 9:1: “It was the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus, who became king of the Babylonians”.

 

As Cyrus

 

The “Ahasuerus” in Esther I have identified as Darius the Mede/Cyrus:

 

“King Ahasuerus” of Book of Esther

 

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

 

and, likewise, the “Ahasuerus” in Ezra:

 

The names, Xerxes, Ahasuerus, Cyaxares and Cyrus are all fairly compatible.

 

 

Comparisons with Sennacherib

 

Emmet Sweeney has done the work here, providing some striking parallels between the known historical Assyrian king, Sennacherib (C8th BC), and the historically far shakier, ‘Xerxes’. http://www.emmetsweeney.net/article-directory/item/58-xerxes-and-sennacherib.html

 

… In Ramessides, Medes and Persians I outlined detailed reasons for identifying Tiglath-Pileser III with Cyrus, Shalmaneser V with Cambyses, and Sargon II with Darius I. The striking correspondences in the lives of all of these, repeated generation for generation in parallel sequence, made it increasingly unlikely that the identifications could be mistaken. Yet even one striking mismatch could potentially invalidate the whole scheme. I then came to the next “pairing” – Sennacherib with Xerxes. Would these two also show clear-cut and convincing correspondences?

A random search of the internet produces the following for Xerxes and Sennacherib: “Like the Persian Xerxes, he [Sennacherib] was weak and vainglorious, cowardly under reverse, and cruel and boastful in success.” (WebBible Encyclopedia at www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/sennacherib.html). The writer of these words did not suspect any connection between the two kings, much less that they were the same person. Nevertheless, the similarities between them were so compelling that one apparently brought the other to mind.

The writer’s instincts, I shall argue, did not betray him. The lives and careers of Xerxes and Sennacherib were so similar that were the thesis presented in these pages not proffered, scholars must wonder at the astounding parallels between the two.

One of Xerxes’ first actions as king was an invasion of Egypt, which had thrown off the Persian yoke shortly after Darius’ defeat at the hands of the Greeks. This reconquest of Egypt was said to have taken place in Xerxes’ second year. Similarly, one of the first actions of Sennacherib was a campaign against Egypt and her Palestinian and Syrian allies. This war against Egypt took place in Sennacherib’s third year. The Assyrian inscriptions inform us how Hezekiah of Judah had rebelled and sought the assistance of the kings of Egypt (and) the bowmen, the chariot (-corps) and the cavalry of the king of Ethiopia (Meluhha), an army beyond counting — and they (actually) had come to their assistance. In the plain of Eltekeh (Al-ta-qu-u), their battle lines were drawn up against me and they sharpened their weapons.… I fought with them and inflicted a defeat upon them. In the melee of the battle, I personally captured alive the Egyptian charioteers with the(ir) princes and (also) the charioteers of the king of Ethiopia. (J. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (Princeton, 1950) pp. 287-8).

Hezekiah was besieged, but not captured. Nevertheless, the outcome of this campaign was a complete victory for Sennacherib. Hezekiah sent tribute to the Great King:

Hezekiah himself, whom the terror-inspiring glamour of my lordship had overwhelmed and whose irregular and elite troops which he had brought into Jerusalem, his royal residence, in order to strengthen (it), had deserted him, did send me, later, to Nineveh, my lordly city, together with 30 talents of gold, 800 talents of silver, precious stones, antimony, large cuts of red stone … all kinds of valuable treasures, his (own) daughters, concubines, male and female musicians. In order to deliver the tribute and to do obeisance as a slave he sent his (personal) messenger.

Hezekiah would scarcely have sent this tribute to Sennacherib had his Egyptian allies not been totally defeated, a circumstance which has made many scholars suspect that he actually entered Egypt after his defeat of its army on the plain of Eltekeh. (See eg. A. T. Olmstead, History of Assyria (1923) pp. 308-9). This supposition is supported by the fact that Sennacherib described himself as “King of the Four Quarters,” a term which, as stated above, traditionally implied authority over Magan and Meluhha (Egypt), regarded as the western-most “quarter” or edge of the world. It is also supported by both classical and Hebrew tradition. Thus Herodotus spoke of Sennacherib advancing against Egypt with a mighty army and camping at Pelusium, near the north-eastern frontier (Herodotus, iii, 141), whilst Berossus, who wrote a history of Chaldea, said that Sennacherib had conducted an expedition against “all Asia and Egypt.” (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities X, i,4). Jewish tradition goes further and tells of the conquest of Egypt by the king and of his march towards Ethiopia. “Sennacherib was forced to stop his campaign against Hezekiah for a short time, as he had to move hurriedly against Ethiopia. Having conquered this ‘pearl of all countries’ he returned to Judea.” (L. Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia, 1920) Vol. VI p. 365). Talmudic sources also relate that after conquering Egypt, Sennacherib carried away from there the throne of Solomon. (Ibid. Vol. IV, p. 160)

Sennacherib’s second campaign against Egypt, not recorded in the Assyrian inscriptions, had, as is well-known, a much less favorable outcome for the Great King.

The greatest event of Xerxes’ reign was of course his momentous defeat in Greece. The story of his invasion is recorded in detail by the Greek authors, most particularly by Herodotus, and it is clear that Xerxes’ failure to overcome the Hellenes represented the great watershed in Achaemenid history. From that point on the Persian Empire entered a period of prolonged decline.

Strange then that of all the wars waged by Sennacherib, the only opponents who are said to have come near to defeating him were the Ionian Greeks. In one well-known passage Berossus tells of a fierce battle between Sennacherib and the Ionians of Cilicia. (H. R. Hall, The Ancient History of the Near East (London, 1913) p. 487). The Greeks, he says, were routed after a hard-fought hand-to-hand struggle.

The most important event of Xerxes’ latter years was without doubt his defeat of yet another Babylonian rebellion. Although our sources are somewhat vague, it would appear that there were in fact two rebellions in Babylon during the time of Xerxes, the first of which occurred in his second year, and was led by Bel-shimanni, and the second some time later led by Shamash-eriba.

How peculiar then that Sennacherib too should face two major rebellions in Babylon, the first of which came within three years or so of his succession, and was led by Bel-ibni. (C. H. W. Johns, Ancient Babylonia (London, 1913) p. 120). Rebellion number two came some years later and was led by Mushezib-Marduk. This second rebellion, one might guess, was one of the consequences of the Persian defeat in Greece, and there seems little doubt that Mushezib-Marduk of the Assyrian records and monuments is Shamash-eriba of the Persian.

Both Xerxes and Sennacherib were relatively mild in their treatment of the Babylonians after the first rebellion. However, after the second insurrection both kings subjected the city to massive destruction. But the parallels do not end there. Xerxes’ terrible punishment of Babylon was partly in revenge for the Babylonians’ murder of his satrap. (Brian Dicks, The Ancient Persians: How they Lived and Worked (1979) p. 46).

Similarly, Sennacherib’s destruction of Babylon after the second insurrection was largely in vengeance for the Babylonians’ kidnap and murder of his brother Ashur-nadin-shum, whom he had made viceroy of the city. (C. H. W. Johns, op cit. pp. 121-2). Xerxes tore down the walls of Babylon, massacred its citizens, destroyed its temples, and seized the sacred golden statue of Bel. (Brian Dicks, op cit). In the same way, Sennacherib razed the city walls and temples, massacred the people, and carried off the sacred statue of Marduk. (C. H. W. Johns, op cit. p. 122). Bel and Marduk were one and the same; and the name was often written Bel-Marduk. In memory of the awful destruction wrought by Sennacherib, the Babylonian Chronicle and the Ptolemaic Canon define the eight years that followed as “kingless.” The city, it is held, suffered no such catastrophe again until the time of Xerxes, supposedly two centuries later.

Xerxes’ despoliation of Babylon is generally believed to have been accompanied by his suppression of the Babylonian gods, and it is assumed that his famous inscription recording the outlawing of the daevas, or foreign gods, in favor of Ahura Mazda, was part of the general response to the second Babylonian uprising:

And among these countries (in rebellion) there was one where, previously, daevas had been worshipped. Afterward, through Ahura Mazda’s favor, I destroyed this sanctuary of daevas and proclaimed. “Let daevas not be worshipped!” There, where daevas had been worshipped before, I worshipped Ahura Mazda.

How peculiar then that Sennacherib too should be accused of outlawing the Babylonian gods, especially Marduk, in favor of Ashur as part of his response to a second Babylonian rebellion? “A political-theological propaganda campaign was launched to explain to the people that what had taken place [the destruction of Babylon and despoliation of Bel-Marduk’s shrine] was in accord with the wish of most of the gods. A story was written in which Marduk, because of a transgression, was captured and brought before a tribunal. Only a part of the commentary to this botched piece of literature is extant.”

(http://www.chn-net.com/timeline/assyria_study.html).

Nevertheless, it is clear that Sennacherib tried to “depose” or even “outlaw” Marduk. Thus we find that, “Even the great poem of the creation of the world, the Enuma elish, was altered: the god Marduk was replaced by the god Ashur.” (Ibid.)

 

To summarize, then, consider the following:

 

SENNACHERIB XERXES
Made war on Egypt in his third year, and fought a bitter war against the Greeks shortly thereafter. Made war on Egypt in his second year, and fought a bitter war against the Greeks shortly thereafter.
Suppressed two major Babylonian rebellions. The first, in his second year, was led by Bel-Shimanni. The second, years later, was led by Shamash-eriba. Suppressed two major Babylonian rebellions. The first, in his third year, was led by Bel-ibni. The second, years later, was led by Mushezib-Marduk.
The Babylonians were well-treated after the first rebellion, but savagely repressed after the second, when they captured and murdered Sennacherib’s viceroy, his own brother Ashur-nadin-shum. The Babylonians were well-treated after the first rebellion, but savagely repressed after the second, when they captured and murdered Xerxes’ satrap.
After the second rebellion, Sennacherib massacred the inhabitants, razed the city walls and temples, and carried off the golden stature of Marduk. Thereafter the Babylonian gods were suppressed in favour of Ashur, who was made the supreme deity. After the second rebellion, Xerxes massacred the inhabitants, razed the city walls and temples, and carried off the golden stature of Bel-Marduk. Thereafter the Babylonian gods were suppressed in favour of Ahura-Mazda, who was made the supreme deity.

 

The parallels between Xerxes and Sennacherib are thus among the closest between an Achaemenid and a Neo-Assyrian. Yet even now we are not finished. There is yet one more striking comparison between the two monarchs, a comparison so compelling and so identical in the details that this one alone, even without the others, would be enough to demand an identification.

Xerxes died after a reign of 21 years (compare with Sennacherib’s 22) in dramatic circumstances, murdered in a palace conspiracy apparently involving at least one of his sons. Popular tradition has it that the real murderer of Xerxes was Artabanus, the captain of his guard, and that this man then put the blame on Darius, eldest son of the murdered king. Whatever the truth, it is clear that Artaxerxes, the crown prince, pointed the finger at Darius, who was immediately arrested and executed. (Percy Sykes, A History of Ancient Persia Vol. 1 (London, 1930) pp. 213-4). It is said that Artabanus then plotted to murder Artaxerxes, but that the conspiracy was uncovered by Megabyzus. No sooner had Artabanus been removed than Hystaspes, another elder brother of Artaxerxes, rose in rebellion. The young king then led his forces into Bactria and defeated the rebel in two battles. (Ibid., p. 124)

Of the above information, one feature is most unusual: the eldest son, Darius, who was not the crown prince, was accused of the murder by the crown prince Artaxerxes, who then had him hunted down and killed.

The death of Sennacherib compares very well with that of Xerxes. He too was murdered in a palace conspiracy involving some of his sons. But as with the death of Xerxes, there has always been much rumor and myth, though little solid fact, in evidence. The biblical Book of Kings names Adrammelech and Sharezer, two of Sennacherib’s sons, as the killers (2 Kings 19:37). An inscription of Esarhaddon, the crown prince at the time, clearly puts the blame on his eldest brother, whom he hunted down and killed. Two other brothers are also named in complicity. (A. T. Olmstead, A History of Assyria (1923) p. 338).

In spite of Esarhaddon’s clear statement, there has always been much confusion about the details — so much so that some have even implicated Esarhaddon himself in the deed. In view of such a level of confusion, the detailed discussion of the question by Professor Simo Parpola, in 1980, was sorely needed and long overdue. Employing commendable reasoning, Parpola demonstrated how a little-understood Babylonian text revealed the identity of the culprit, Arad-Ninlil. (R. Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters, Vol. XI (Chicago, 1911) No. 1091). A sentence of the document reads, “Thy son Arad-Ninlil is going to kill thee.” The latter name should properly, according to Parpola, be read as Arda-Mulissi (identical to Adrammelech of 2 Kings). Motivation for the murder, said Parpola, was not difficult to find. After the capture and probable death at the hands of the Elamites of Sennacherib’s eldest son and heir-designate, Ashur-nadin-sumi, the “second-eldest son, Arda-Mulissi, now has every reason to expect to be the next crown prince; however, he is outmaneuvered from this position in favor of Esarhaddon, another son of Sennacherib. This one is younger than Arda-Mulissi but becomes the favourite son of Sennacherib thanks to his mother Naqia … Eventually, Esarhaddon is officially proclaimed crown prince.” (Prof. Simo Parpola, “Death in Mesopotamia” XXVIeme Rencontre Assyriologique International,e ed. Prof. Bendt Alster, (Akademisk Forlag, 1980)).

We need hardly go beyond that for a motive. It is not clear whether Arda-Mulissi personally delivered the death blow; it seems that one of his captains was responsible.

Of this death then we note the same unusual feature. The king was murdered by or on the orders of his eldest son, who was not however the crown prince. The eldest son was then pursued and executed by a younger son, who was the crown prince. The parallels with the death of Xerxes are precise. In both cases also a second brother is named in complicity, as well as various other conspirators. In both cases too the murder was not actually carried out by the prince but by a fellow conspirator; in the case of Xerxes by Artabanus, commander of the guard, and in the case of Sennacherib by a man named Ashur-aha-iddin — a namesake of Esarhaddon. And this calls attention to yet one more parallel. In both the murder of Xerxes and Sennacherib, the crown prince himself has repeatedly been named as a suspect. Thus the Encyclopedia Britannica has Artaxerxes I placed on the throne by Xerxes’ murderer, Artabanus, (Encyclopaedia Britannica Vol. 1 (15th ed.) p. 598) whilst Parpola refers to the common suspicion that Esarhaddon had a part in his father’s death.

Such striking similarities, when placed along with the multitude of other parallels between the two kings’ lives, leave little doubt that we are on the right track. ….

[End of quote]

 

This works much better than any hopeful connection with the dynasty of King Hammurabi of Babylon.

It is necessary to consider ‘Xerxes’ as a ‘ghost’, a made up king based on (at least in part) a real neo-Assyrian ruler, Sennacherib.

 

Artaxerxes III ‘Ochus’

 

 

“By his own efforts and with the aid of such Greek generals as Mentor and Phocio of Athens, Artaxerxes thus revived the old empire of Darius. The order of the state was restored, its apparatus reorganized, the central power strengthened. Artaxerxes was energetic and restless, crafty and strong-minded. He is called cruel and violent (Diodorus 17.5.3; Plutarch, Artoxerxes 26.1) but also a fair judge (Diodorus 16.49.6)”.

 

Introduction

 

Did Artaxerxes III really ‘revive the old Persian empire’, or was ‘he’, too, like ‘Xerxes’ (Part Two), a composite ‘ghost’ figure recalling real Mesopotamian/Medo-Persian kings?

 

The point of this series has been to try to account for the worrying lack of archaeological strata for the Medo-Persian kingdom, especially in its relation to the city of Babylon.

Conventionally, the Medo-Persian rule is considered to have endured for some three centuries:

 

 

My opinion, though, is that it was nowhere near that lengthy, and that some (if not most) of the Medo-Persian kings are duplicates.

Babylon really comes into calculations at the time of Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian. However, if I am correct in – {following other scholars} – identifying Darius the Mede as Cyrus:

 

Darius the Mede “Received the Kingdom”

 

https://www.academia.edu/24307028/Darius_the_Mede_Received_the_Kingdom_

 

then this would immediately cut out any purely Median archaeology for Babylon.

But how to account for the lack of Persian stratigraphy?

Well, we have read in this series that Cyrus the Great was known by various names, apart form Darius, including the names “Ahasuerus” and “Artaxerxes”. The multiple kings Darius and Artaxerxes will thus need to be reconsidered, with the possibility of at least some of these being duplicates of Cyrus.

The legendary Xerxes (a name that we found to be compatible with “Ahasuerus”) is, in part, based upon the powerful neo-Assyrian king, Sennacherib, whom I have also identified as Sargon II:

 

Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib

 

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

 

We are now going to find that Artaxerxes III, considered to be a mighty Persian king, is heavily based upon the neo-Babylonian Great king, Nebuchednezzar II. This Artaxerxes III is thought to have reigned for about two decades during the mid-C4th BC. He is conventionally presented as follows (http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/artaxerxes-iii-throne-name-of-ochus-gk):

 

ARTAXERXES III, throne name of Ochus (Gk. Ôchos, Babylonian Ú-ma-kuš, son of Artaxerxes II and Stateira), Achaemenid king (r. 359-58 to 338-37 B.C.). About 361 he took part in a campaign against Egypt, then in rebellion under her king Tachos, and obtained that king’s surrender (Georgius Syncellus 1.486.20ff. D.). The fact that the Satraps’ Revolt, which he helped put down, was not quite ended may account for the lack of uniformity regarding the date of Artaxerxes’ accession. That event is dated to year 390 of the Babylonian Nabonassar era (beginning in November, 359 B.C.), but Polyaenus (7.17) states that he concealed his father’s death for 10 months, so that his official reign may only have begun in 358-57. On becoming king, he did away with his brothers, sisters, and other possible rivals (Justin 10.3.1; cf. Curtius Rufus 10.5.23, claiming that 80 brothers were murdered in one day).

 

Artaxerxes III’s objective was to consolidate royal authority and to terminate the revolts which threatened to break up the empire. He seems to have first made war on the rebel Cadusii in Media Atropatene (Justin 10.3.2); in the hard and successful fighting, Codomannus, the later Darius III, distinguished himself (Diodorus 17.6.1; Justin 10.3.3-4). Then a major campaign (ca. 356-52) was directed against such western satraps as Artabazus and Orontes who had rebelled against his father; these were now commanded to dismiss their Greek mercenaries (scholium to Demosthenes 4.19). The reconquest of Egypt was also to be carried through. Details of the campaign are unclear, but some success was achieved. Orontes was subdued, while Artabazus, banished, sought refuge with Philip of Macedonia (Diodorus 16.22.1-2, 34.1-2; Demosthenes 14.31). With the Satraps’ Revolt ended, Persian rule over Asia Minor and Phoenicia was again consolidated. Artaxerxes had acted resolutely; he obtained by threat of war the compliance of Athens, whose general, Chares, had first supported Artabazus (Diodorus 16.34.1). Actual restoration of order was accomplished by the king’s generals, especially Mentor of Rhodes, while Artaxerxes was preoccupied with Egypt (Ps.-Aristoteles, Oeconomica 2.2.28; Diodorus 16.52.1-8). For the generals’ campaign against Egypt had failed; and before the king’s massive new preparations were completed, a new revolt broke out in Syria, Phoenicia, and Cyprus in 351 which was aided by the Egyptian King Nectanebus. The rebels, led by Tennes of Sidon, were fought with indifferent success (Diodorus 16.40.5-42.9) by Idrieus (satrap of Caria), Mazaeus (of Cilicia), and Belesys (of Syria). Artaxerxes then led a large force from Babylon to Syria and soon restored matters. The rich Phoenician town of Sidon, the revolt’s center, was betrayed by King Tennes, and then destroyed by a fire set by the besieged Sidonians themselves (Diodorus 16.43.1-45.6; Pompeius Trogus, Prologus 10; Orosius 3.7.8; Georgius Syncellus 1.486.16 D.). Other towns of Phoenicia and Palestine then submitted. The expeditions of the generals Bagoas and Orophernes and the deportations of Jews ordered by Artaxerxes (Syncellus 1.486.10ff. D.) may be combined with the events recorded in the Book of Judith.

 

About 346-45 B.C. the king marched on Egypt. The citadels of Pelusium and Bubastis in the Nile delta were taken and by 343 the reconquest had been achieved, ending 65 years of Egyptian independence. (A seal has been interpreted as depicting this event; see J. Junge, Saka-Studien, Leipzig, 1939, pp. 63-64 n. 4.) One Pherendates was appointed satrap (Diodorus 16.46.4-51.3), while Nectanebus fled south to Nubia to maintain an independent kingdom. The Persians plundered and sacked extensively (Diodorus 16.51.2; Aelian, Varia historia 4.8, 6.8), and Egyptians were reportedly carried off to Persia. Consequently the king was vehemently hated by the Egyptians; they identified him with the ass to which he had sacrificed the Apis Bull (Aclian, 4.8).

 

Artaxerxes’ relations with the Greeks and Macedonians varied. Although there were occasional clashes (especially during the Satraps’ Revolt), the king sought the friendship of Athens, Sparta, and Macedonia, and he was the object of both fear and esteem (for Athens, see Demosthenes 14.7, 25, 31). In about 351 B.C. the king invited Athens and Sparta to join in a campaign he planned against Egypt; both declined but assured him of their friendship (Diodorus 16.44.1); Thebes and the Argives, however, sent him auxiliary troops (ibid., 44.2, 46.4). The first contact noted between Artaxerxes and Macedonia is a treaty of friendship with Philip II (Arrian, Anabasis 2.14.2); its details are not known. The Persian king seems to have observed it, for an Athenian legation seeking help against Philip returned empty handed (Demosthenes 9.71 ). Eventually, when Philip attacked the town of Perinthus, which dominated the Sea of Marmora, Artaxerxes perceived Philip’s real intention and intervened by sending troops into Thrace (Diodorus 16.75.1; Arrian, Anabasis 2.14.5). Alexander later pointed to this as a motive for his campaign of revenge.

 

By his own efforts and with the aid of such Greek generals as Mentor and Phocio of Athens, Artaxerxes thus revived the old empire of Darius. The order of the state was restored, its apparatus reorganized, the central power strengthened. Artaxerxes was energetic and restless, crafty and strong-minded. He is called cruel and violent (Diodorus 17.5.3; Plutarch, Artoxerxes 26.1) but also a fair judge (Diodorus 16.49.6). A token of his revival was the renewed building activity at Persepolis. The king erected a palace on the southwest part of the terrace, as is attested by his inscription A3Pa on a stairway (Kent, Old Persian, p. 156; F. H. Weissbach, Die Keilinsehriften der Achämeniden, Leipzig, 1911, pp. 128-29). An Akkadian tablet inscription has been found at Susa (“A3Sa,” ed. V. Scheil in MMAP XXI, 1929, pp. 99-100 no. 30).

 

Artaxerxes was married to a daughter of his sister (her name is read conjecturally in Valerius Maximus 9.2., ext. 7; see Justi, Namenbuch, p. 341 b) and to a daughter of Oxathres, brother of the later Darius III (Curtius Rufus 3.13.13). The latter, with three of Artaxerxes’ daughters, was captured by Alexander after the battle of Issus. The youngest of these, Parysatis, was later married to Alexander (Arrian, Annbasis 7.4.4). Also captured in the course of events was a granddaughter of Artaxerxes, who had been the wife of Hystaspes (Curtius Rufus 6.2.7-8). Of the king’s sons, only two are known by name. Arses, the youngest, succeeded his father but survived only for about two years. Bisthanes came to meet Alexander in 330 (Arrian, Anabasis 3.19.4). All the others are said to have been murdered by the Egyptian-born chiliarch, Bagoas, after poisoned the king himself in his palace intrigues (Diodorus 17.5.4; cf. Aelian 6.8 and Syncellus 1.486.14f. D.). Bagoas undoubtedly sought to be a kingmaker, but the premature death of Artaxerxes was a serious misfortune for the Persian kingdom. ….

 

[End of quote]

 

Emmet Sweeney has again (as with his Sennacherib = Xerxes) discerned some striking parallels between a Mesopotamian king, in this case Nebuchednezzar II, and a supposed Persian king, Artaxerxes III.

Emmet has written (and I do not accept any other of his Mesopotamian-Persian identifications) (http://www.hyksos.org/index.php?title=Artaxerxes_III_and_Nebuchadrezzar&oldid=4194):

 

Artaxerxes III and Nebuchadrezzar

 

In my Ramessides, Medes and Persians (Algora, 2007), I argued in detail that the rulers known to history as the Neo-Assyrians and Neo-Babylonians were in fact Great Kings of the Persians under the guise of Mesopotamians. There I demonstrated how the Neo-Assyrian Tiglath-Pileser III had to be identified with Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid line, and that the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian monarchs who followed could be identified, point by point, with the Achaemenid kings who followed Cyrus. Thus Cambyses, who reigned only six years and campaigned in the direction of Egypt, sounds like Shalmaneser V, who reigned just over seven years and similarly campaigned in the direction of Egypt. Cambyses’ successor, Darius I, was not his son; and with him a new epoch of the Persian monarchy began. In the same way, Shalmaneser V’s successor Sargon II was not his son, and with the latter there began a new age of the Assyrian monarchy. The parallels continue line by line and reign by reign, and may be schematically represented thus:

Neo-Assyrian and Achaemenid Parallels

TIGLATH-PILESER III

Was the founder of a new dynasty and not the son of the previous king of Assyria. During his time Assyrian power reached the borders of Egypt. Ruled Babylon and “took the hand of Bel.”

 

CYRUS

Was the founder of a new dynasty and not the son of the previous king of Persia. During his time Persian power reached the borders of Egypt. Conquered Babylon and “took the hand of Bel.”

SHALMANESER V

Reigned only six years. Campaigned in the direction of Egypt.

CAMBYSES

Reigned seven and a half years. Conquered Egypt.

SARGON II

Was a usurper and not the son of the preceding king. Described himself as King of the Four Quarters, implying rule from Magan (Egypt) to Dilmun (India). Defeated a major insurrection in Babylon led by Merodach-Baladan (III). Boasted of expelling the Ionians (Jaman) from their island homes.

DARIUS I

Was a usurper and not the son of the preceding king. Described himself as King of the Four Quarters, ruling from Egypt to India. Defeated a major insurrection in Babylon led by Nebuchadrezzar (III). Cleared the Ionian islands of their inhabitants.

SENNACHERIB

Reigned 22 years. Defeated two major insurrections in Babylon and destroyed the city after the second. Thereafter suppressed the Babylonian deities in favor of Ashur, who was elevated to the position of supreme god. Was murdered in a palace conspiracy involving at least one of his sons.

XERXES

Reigned 21 years. Defeated two major insurrections in Babylon and destroyed the city after the second. Thereafter suppressed the Babylonian deities in favor of Ahura Mazda, who was elevated to the position of supreme god. Was murdered in a palace conspiracy involving at least one of his sons.

ESARHADDON

Was not the eldest son of Sennacherib, but was appointed crown-prince through the influence of his powerful mother Naqia, who dominated her son. Had to suppress a series of rebellions in Egypt and appointed Egyptian potentates with names like Necho and Psamtek. Began rebuilding Babylon.

ARTAXERXES I

Was not the eldest son of Xerxes, but was appointed crown-prince through the influence of his powerful mother Amestris, who dominated her son. Had to suppress a series of rebellion in Egypt and appointed Egyptian potentates with names like Necho and Psamtek. Began rebuilding Babylon.

ASHURBANIPAL

Was not the original crown-prince, but was appointed to rule after the death of his brother Sin-iddin-apla. Faced rebellions in Egypt, where he honored a prince named Wenamon. During his time Assyrian control of Egypt began to weaken.

DARIUS II

Was not the original crown-prince, but was appointed to rule after the death of his brother Xerxes II. Faced rebellions in Egypt, where he honored a prince named Wenamon. During his time Persian control of Egypt began to weaken.

NABOPOLASSER

Was based in Babylon and associated with that city. Appears to have been a son of Ashurbanipal, but had to fight for control of the Assyrian Empire against another son named Sin-shar-ishkun

ARTAXERXES II

Was based in Babylon and associated with that city. Son of a Babylonian mother and a half-Babylonian father. Upon his accession had to battle for control of the Persian Empire against a younger brother named Cyrus.

NABUCHADREZZAR

Appears to have conquered Egypt, after a second attempt, where he brought to an end the reign of Necho II. Destroyed Egypt’s ally Judah. According to the Book of Judith had a servant named Bagoas and a general named Holofernes. Was known for his savage cruelty.

ARTAXERXES III

Conquered Egypt after a second attempt, where he brought to an end the reign of Nectanebo II. Brought all the nations of Syria/Palestine under his control. According to Diodorus Siculus had a servant named Bagoas and a general named Holofernes. Was known for his savage cruelty.

NABONIDUS

Was not the son of Nebuchadrezzar, but from a minor branch of the royal family. Last native Babylonian king.

DARIUS III

Was not the son of Artaxerxes III, but from a minor branch of the royal family. Last native Persian king.

In the above table we see some of the most important parallels between the penultimate Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadrezzar and the penultimate Achaemenid king Artaxerxes III. Yet the similarities between the two kings, like those of the others, are so detailed that they cannot be adequately described in a simple table. In the pages to follow I hope to fill out the picture a little with regard to these two seminally important rulers.

When Artaxerxes II died, in 359 BC, his son Ochus was proclaimed king under the name of Artaxerxes III. To ensure his succession against any attempted rebellion, he let all of his brothers and half-brothers, eighty in number, be killed.

The new Artaxerxes regarded the reconquest of Egypt as one of his chief tasks, a task which he did eventually accomplish, though not until the sixteenth year of his reign. We know that Nectanebo I died only a year before Artaxerxes II, and that he was replaced on the throne by a pharaoh known to the Greeks as Tachos. Well aware of the ruthless nature of the new occupant of the Great King’s throne, Tachos made preparations to defend Egypt — part of which involved the recruitment of the legendary Spartan King Aegesilaus to his cause. Aegesilaus, by this time a very old man, was apparently delighted at the opportunity once again to do battle with the Persians. The Spartan veteran had been promised chief command by Tachos; but when he arrived in Egypt he found that the fleet had been placed in the hands of the Athenian general Chabrias, whilst Tachos himself retained overall supreme command. At this stage the pharaoh was in Syria, part of which had been occupied by him following the death of Artaxerxes II. In the meantime, a plot to place a nephew of his on the throne was being hatched. Aegesilaus threw his weight behind the conspirators, and effectively placed the nephew, known to history as Nectanebo II, on the throne.

When news of these developments reached Tachos in Palestine he fled northwards to the Persian king to ask forgiveness. Another two pretenders arose to challenge Nectanebo II, but these were quickly overcome with the assistance of Aegesilaus’ hoplites.

Nine years later, which was also the ninth year of the reign of Artaxerxes III/Ochus (350 BC), the Egyptians met the armies of the Great King on the borders of Egypt and threw them back towards Mesopotamia. The failure of this first expedition proved to be a major setback for Artaxerxes III, and his plan to reincorporate Egypt into the Empire had to wait another seven years (343 BC) for fruition. Thus Artaxerxes III’s second, and successful expedition against Egypt occurred in his sixteenth year.

We are told that after this reconquest Ochus plundered the country mercilessly, repeating the depredations of Cambyses. There was a general massacre of the population and a violation of the temples and religious centers, even to the extent of slaying the sacred Apis bull and serving it at a feast. All of which is believable enough, considering what we know of his character from other sources. In the words of one commentator, the “chief characteristic” of Ochus was his “savage cruelty.”1 How then does the life and military career of Nebuchadrezzar compare with that of Artaxerxes III?

Early in his reign, in his eighth or possibly ninth year, Nebuchadrezzar campaigned right to the borders of Egypt; it was then that he besieged Jerusalem, removing its King Jehoiachin and replacing him with Zedekiah. It is known that this campaign against Judah was actually but a small incident in a much greater campaign against Egypt and its allies. But if such were the case, then the campaign was at best indecisive — no conquest of Egypt is recorded. Nevertheless, it could not have been a complete disaster for the Babylonians, for Nebuchadrezzar apparently retained control of Judah until Zedekiah’s eighth year — at which point the people of Judah once again threw off the Babylonian yoke.

Thus we see that Nebuchadrezzar, like Artaxerxes III, made a first and apparently largely unsuccessful attack on Egypt in his eighth, or possibly ninth, year. But the parallels do not end there.

As we have noted, the Book of Chronicles records that in the eighth year of Zedekiah, and therefore in the sixteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar, the Babylonian king again moved against Egypt and Judah. Once again, most, if not all, of what we know of this campaign comes from the Jewish records, which were of course concerned primarily with the devastation the war brought to their own homeland. These sources report that on this occasion Nebuchadrezzar utterly destroyed Jerusalem, pulling down the temple and deporting the entire population to Babylon.

This must have been part of the campaign against Egypt and its allies recorded in a much damaged tablet of Nebuchadrezzar. What is still legible has been translated thus:

The kings, the allies of his power and … his general and his hired soldiers … he spoke unto. To his soldiers … who were before … at the way of …

In the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon … the king of Egypt came up to do battle [?] and … es, the king of Egypt … and … of the city of Putu-Jaman … far away regions which are in the sea … numerous which were in Egypt … arms and horses … he called to … he trusted …2

The reference to the campaign against Egypt in Nebuchadrezzar’s 37th year is apparently puzzling, though it is possible, actually probable, that he was counting from his appointment as King of Babylon, a system he is known to have actually used. Whatever the case, it is certain that Nebuchadrezzar’s second campaign against Judah, and Egypt, occurred sometime between his sixteenth and seventeenth year.

Thus Nebuchadrezzar, like Artaxerxes III, made two assaults upon Egypt. The first, in the eighth or ninth year of both monarchs, was a failure; and the second, in the sixteenth or seventeenth year of both rulers, which was a success.

That Nebuchadrezzar actually conquered Egypt is suggested by a number of very powerful pieces of evidence. First of all, both Ezekiel and Jeremiah prophesied that he would do so; and since most of these “prophecies” were written in retrospect, or at least gained popular currency only after having been proved correct, we may be fairly certain that the prophesied invasion and defeat of Egypt actually took place. The conquest is predicted thus by Ezekiel (29:19-20):

Therefore thus said the Lord God: Behold, I will set Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon in the land of Egypt: and he shall take her multitude, and take the booty thereof for a prey, and rifle the spoils thereof: and it shall be wages for his army. And for the service that he hath done me against it, I have given him the land of Egypt, because he hath labored for me, saith the Lord.

Secondly, the biblical sources say that Nebuchadrezzar was able to remove the Jewish refugees in Egypt to Babylon. He could not of course have done so unless he had entered and subjugated the country.

Thirdly, Josephus tells us that he conquered Egypt. We are informed that four years after the fall of Tyre, Nebuchadrezzar invaded the country and put its King Uaphris to death, installing a creature of his own upon the vacant throne.3 Fourthly, and most importantly, artifacts of Nebuchadrezzar have actually been discovered in Egypt. These are “three cylinders of terra-cotta bearing an inscription of Nebuchadnezzar, an ordinary text referring to his constructions in Babylon … These were said to come from the Isthmus of Suez, and they apparently belong to some place where Nebuchadrezzar had ‘set up his throne’ and ‘spread his royal pavilion.’ As he only passed along the Syrian road, and Daphnae would be the only stopping place on that road in the region of the isthmus, all the inferences point to these having come from Defenneh, and being the memorials of establishment there.”4

In short, the prophecy of Jeremiah that the king of Babylon would spread his royal pavilion at the entrance of the pharaoh’s house in Tahpanheth (Daphnae) was fulfilled. There can be little doubt; Nebuchadrezzar entered and conquered Egypt.

It is of interest to note here that the cylinders were discovered at Daphnae, one of the Hellenic centers of the Delta, a garrison settlement of the pharaoh’s Ionian bodyguard. This corresponds well enough with the contents of Nebuchadrezzar’s tablet, which speaks of the city of Putu-Jaman. Jaman of course was the Babylonian for “Ionian.”

Thus in a number of details the life and career of Nebuchadrezzar provides close parallels with that of Artaxerxes III:

Both kings were rulers of Babylon, who clashed with Egypt.

Artaxerxes III’s first war against Egypt occurred in his eighth year, and ended in failure. Nebuchadrezzar’s first war against Egypt took place in his eighth or ninth year and apparently ended in failure.

The Egyptian enemy of Artaxerxes III was known as Nectanebo II. The Egyptian enemy of Nebuchadrezzar was known as Necho II.

Artaxerxes III’s second campaign against Egypt occurred in his sixteenth year and was successful. Nebuchadrezzar’s second campaign against Egypt occurred in his sixteenth or seventeenth year and resulted in the conquest of the Nile Kingdom.

Artaxerxes III’s Egyptian enemy Nectanebo II used Greek mercenaries against the Great King. Nebuchadrezzar’s Egyptian enemy Necho II used Greek mercenaries against him.

It is fairly evident then that here, once again, we find striking parallels in the lives and careers of two characters supposedly belonging to two different epochs separated by two centuries.

….

 

1 G. Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies Vol. 3 (London, 1879) p. 510.

2 S. Langdon, Building Inscriptions of the Neo-Babylonian Empire (Paris, 1905) p. 182.

3 Josephus, Jewish Antiquities x,9,7.

4 F. Petrie, Tanis Pt II. Nebesheh and Defenneh p. 51.

….

 

 

 

 

 

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Potiphar and Potiphera

Published January 21, 2017 by amaic

 After being bought as a slave by Potiphar, Joseph worked hard for his master. Potiphar was an official of Pharaoh and captain of the guards. – Slide 1

 by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt’. Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt”.

Genesis 41:44-45

 

 

There are some suggestions out there on the Internet that the biblical “Potiphera, priest of On” (Heliopolis) (Genesis 41:45), might be the same as the Old Kingdom’s, Rahotep, about whom we read (http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/p-rahotep.html):

 

It is generally considered that Rahotep (“Ra is satisfied”) was the son of Sneferu, although it is also possible that he was in fact the son of Huni and therefore the brother of Sneferu. Rahotep held the titles High Priest of Ra at Iunu (Heliopolis) and Director of Expeditions and Supervisor of Works.

 

Whilst those promoting such an identification can tend to be amateurish, making a rather poor fist of identifying the two names, Potiphera and Rahotep, the connection itself has promise, I think – given the likely location of Joseph to the Old Kingdom and the fact that Rahotep was indeed the priest of On (Egyptian Iunu):

 

 

 

A better effort to link the names, Potiphera and Rahotep, can be found in L’HISTOIRE DE JOSEPH, at: http://www.regard.eu.org/Livres.2/Le.cri.des.pierres/08.php (using a translation of the French):

 

THE HISTORY OF JOSEPH

Nul récit de l’Ecriture ne trouve plus de confirmations données par l’archéologie que celui de la vie de Joseph. No account of Scripture finds any more confirmations given by archeology than that of Joseph’s life. Les arguments que la critique rationaliste faisait valoir autrefois pour attaquer l’authenticité de ces admirables pages, ont été, les uns après les autres, contredits par les découvertes. The arguments which rationalist criticism once used to attack the authenticity of these admirable pages were, one after the other, contradicted by the discoveries. Mais ce n’est pas seulement la véracité du récit dans son ensemble que l’égyptologie a mise en lumière ; But it is not only the truthfulness of the narrative as a whole that Egyptology has brought to light; c’est aussi son évidente unité et l’extraordinaire précision, l’extraordinaire exactitude de tous ses détails. It is also its evident unity and extraordinary precision, the extraordinary exactitude of all its details.

Voici ce qu’écrit à ce propos le célèbre égyptologue Edouard Naville, l’une des gloires de l’archéologie moderne, l’homme qui a peut-être le plus contribué à faire connaître l’Egypte des Pharaons : « Plus on lit l’histoire de Joseph et mieux on se rend compte qu’elle a dû être écrite par quelqu’un qui connaissait très bien l’Egypte, qui avait été témoin de ses coutumes, et qui avait eu aussi des relations avec les officiers de la cour et avec le roi lui-même. The famous Egyptologist Edward Naville, one of the glories of modern archeology, is the man who has perhaps contributed most to making Egypt known to the Pharaohs: “The more one reads History of Joseph and the better one realizes that it had to be written by someone who knew Egypt very well, who had witnessed his customs, and who had also had relations with the officers of the court And with the king himself. Peu de parties de la Genèse montrent d’une manière plus frappante l’étrangeté de la théorie critique. Few parts of Genesis show more strikingly the strangeness of critical theory. Tout le récit est d’une remarquable unité. The whole story is remarkably united. Il n’y a pas de répétitions superflues chaque partie suit la précédente, tout à fait logiquement le ton général est le même. There is no superfluous repetition each part follows the preceding one, quite logically the general tone is the same. Malgré cela, on nous dit qu’il ne faut pas attribuer toute cette histoire à un seul écrivain, mais à quatre auteurs qui vivaient en différents endroits de la Palestine et à plusieurs siècles d’intervalle ( 1 ). In spite of this, we are told that we must not attribute all this history to a single writer, but to four authors who lived in different parts of Palestine and several centuries apart . » « Si nous étudions les détails de l’histoire de Joseph, nous serons frappés par la couleur locale et convaincus qu’elle fut écrite dans le pays même où l’auteur avait sous les yeux quelques-unes des coutumes qu’il décrit, et à une époque où il entendait encore prononcer quelques-uns des noms dont il parle. “If we study the details of Joseph’s story, we shall be struck by the local color and convinced that it was written in the very country where the author had before him some of the customs he describes, And at a time when he still heard some of the names of which he speaks. » « Lorsque l’histoire de Joseph fut écrite, la tradition était très vivante parmi les Hébreux; “When the story of Joseph was written, tradition was very alive among the Hebrews; ils savaient qu’ils étaient redevables à Joseph de leur arrivée en Egypte, de leur établissement dans le pays de Gosen et de leur situation actuelle. They knew that they owed Joseph to their arrival in Egypt, their establishment in the land of Goshen, and their present situation. Son corps avait été conservé, embaumé, dans un cercueil. His body had been preserved, embalmed, in a coffin. Ainsi ils savaient certainement qui il était, et à quelle cause était due son élévation merveilleuse. Thus they certainly knew who he was, and what was the cause of his marvelous elevation. Son histoire présentait pour eux un intérêt tout spécial, je devrais même dire vital. His story presented a very special interest for them, I should even say vital. » « Les noms égyptiens mentionnés dans le récit indiquent aussi un auteur écrivant en Egypte, possédant une connaissance parfaite des Egyptiens comme des Hébreux, telle qu’on pouvait la supposer dans le cas de Moïse ( 2 ). “The Egyptian names mentioned in the narrative also indicate an author writing in Egypt, possessing a perfect knowledge of the Egyptians as of the Hebrews, as might be supposed in the case of Moses .” » ”

  1. Edouard Naville pense que Moïse a eu à sa disposition, pour rédiger la partie de la Genèse qui a trait à Joseph, une vie de Joseph qui aurait été composée du temps du fils de Jacob et sous ses ordres. M. Edouard Naville thinks that Moses had at his disposal, to write the part of the Genesis which relates to Joseph, a life of Joseph which would have been composed of the time of the son of Jacob and under his orders. Cette supposition est fort plausible. This supposition is very plausible. Citons, à ce propos, M. Emile Doumergue: « Remarquons qu’en écrivant, ou plus probablement en faisant écrire sa biographie par l’un des nombreux scribes qu’il avait à sa disposition, Joseph imitait, au moins en une certaine mesure, les usages des grands personnages égyptiens. In this connection, let us quote M. Emile Doumergue: “Let us note that in writing, or more probably in having his biography written by one of the many scribes he had at his disposal, Joseph imitated, at least to some extent , The usages of the great Egyptian characters. Ceux-ci se faisaient bâtir un tombeau, et sur les murs de ce tombeau, ils faisaient graver une inscription plus ou moins longue disant leur vie, et surtout les faveurs dont ils avaient été l’objet de la part du souverain. They had a tomb built for them, and on the walls of this tomb they engraved an inscription more or less long, saying their lives, and especially the favors with which they had been the object of the sovereign. Pas très longtemps après la mort de Joseph, Ahmès le nautonier, qui vivait sous le règne du roi de même nom, a laissé sur les murs de son tombeau des inscriptions qui sont de véritables mémoires ( 3 ). Not very long after the death of Joseph, Ahmes the nautonier, who lived under the reign of the king of the same name, left on the walls of his tomb inscriptions which are true memories . » “

Le caractère égyptien du récit de Moïse relativement à Joseph a été aussi pleinement reconnu par l’archéologue Sayce: « Il n’y a rien dans le témoignage des monuments qui puisse provoquer le moindre doute sur la crédibilité de la narration biblique. The Egyptian character of Moses’ account of Joseph was also fully acknowledged by archaeologist Sayce: “There is nothing in the testimony of monuments that can cause any doubt about the credibility of biblical narrative. Bien au contraire, le tableau que la Bible nous donne s’accorde admirablement dans ses traits généraux mais aussi dans ses détails, avec le tableau présenté par les monuments. On the contrary, the picture that the Bible gives us admirably agrees in its general features but also in its details, with the picture presented by the monuments. L’histoire de Joseph est essentiellement égyptienne de coloris et en pleine conformité avec l’archéologie égyptienne… En même temps cet élément égyptien est revêtu d’un caractère manifestement hébraïque. The history of Joseph is essentially Egyptian in color and in full conformity with Egyptian archeology … At the same time this Egyptian element is clothed with a manifestly Hebrew character. Non seulement le langage est hébraïque, mais les idées et le point de vue qui inspirent le récit sont hébraïques aussi. Not only is the language Hebrew, but the ideas and point of view that inspire the narrative are also Hebrew. La scène égyptienne qui nous est ici décrite est contemplée par des yeux d’Hébreu ( 4 ). The Egyptian scene which is described here is contemplated by the eyes of Hebrew ( 4 ). » ”

L’abbé Vigouroux a su exprimer avec force la valeur historique de notre récit – « En Egypte nous ne rencontrerons aucune preuve directe des faits racontés par Moïse dans son histoire de Joseph, mais les preuves indirectes y abondent et ont de quoi satisfaire les plus difficiles. Abbot Vigouroux has been able to express forcefully the historical value of our narrative. “In Egypt we shall not find any direct proof of the facts related by Moses in his history of Joseph, but the indirect proofs abound there and are enough to satisfy the most difficult . Il n’y a pas un détail de sa biographie qui ne soit confirmé par les monuments et les documents indigènes: tout y est exact, on peut dire, jusqu’à la minutie, et la narration ne peut avoir été racontée, par conséquent, que sur les lieux, à une époque peu éloignée des événements. There is not a detail of his biography which is not confirmed by the monuments and the indigenous documents: everything is exact, it may be said, to the minuteness, and the narration can not have been narrated, therefore, Than on the scene, at a time not far from events. Un écrivain israélite, qui aurait écrit longtemps après la sortie d’Egypte, et sans y avoir vécu, n’aurait jamais pu réussir à parler avec cette exactitude irréprochable, et n’aurait pas donné à ses tableaux une telle couleur locale, à une époque où il était impossible d’acquérir ces connaissances autrement que dans le milieu même où elles étaient, pour ainsi dire, vivantes. An Israelite writer, who would have written long after the exodus from Egypt, and without having lived there, could never have succeeded in speaking with that irreproachable exactitude, and would not have given his paintings such a local color, When it was impossible to acquire this knowledge except in the very place where they were, so to speak, alive. La couleur égyptienne de l’histoire de Joseph est, si frappante, que ceux mêmes qui nient l’authenticité du récit sont obligés de la reconnaître. The Egyptian color of Joseph’s story is so striking that even those who deny the authenticity of the narrative are obliged to recognize it. « La peinture des moeurs égyptiennes par cet écrivain est généralement très exacte, dit le critique Ewald, » Tous les exégètes et historiens libres penseurs sont contraints de faire le même aveu ( 5 ). “The painting of the Egyptian manners by this writer is generally very exact,” says the critic Ewald. “All the exegetes and free-thinking historians are obliged to make the same confession . » ”

Nous allons maintenant rapidement passer en revue les traits du récit sur lesquels l’archéologie est venue projeter une éclatante lumière. We shall now briefly review the features of the narrative on which archeology has projected a brilliant light. Il est impossible de ne pas être impressionné par leur nombre et leur précision. It is impossible not to be impressed by their number and precision. Nous suivrons l’ordre même de la narration biblique: We will follow the very order of biblical narrative:

1° « Jacob fit à Joseph une tunique de plusieurs couleurs. 1. Jacob made Joseph a tunic of many colors. » (XXXVII, 1). (XXXVII, 1). Nous savons que les Sémites avaient et ont encore une prédilection marquée pour les vêtements bigarrés. We know that the Semites had and still have a marked predilection for motley garments. Ils aimaient à les porter à l’occasion de certaines cérémonies ou comme un signe de prééminence. They liked to wear them on ceremonial occasions or as a sign of pre-eminence. « On fait encore la même chose en Orient pour les enfants préférés. “The same thing is done in the Orient for the favorite children. Des étoffes pourpres, écarlates et autres sont souvent cousues ensemble avec beaucoup. Purple, scarlet and other fabrics are often sewn together with many. de goût. disgust. Quelquefois les enfants des Musulmans ont des vestes brodées d’or et de soie de diverses couleurs ( 6 ). Sometimes the children of the Muslims wear jackets embroidered with gold and silk of various colors . » ”

Cet usage existait avant l’époque de Joseph. This practice existed before the time of Joseph. On voit sur les murs de la tombe de Hassein une peinture représentant l’arrivée en Egypte de chefs amorrites sous Aménophis II ; One can see on the walls of the tomb of Hassein a painting representing the arrival in Egypt of amortized leaders under Amenophis II; ces ambassadeurs apparaissent en habits de plusieurs couleurs, signe de puissance. These ambassadors appear in clothes of several colors, a sign of power.

Cette signification de la robe bigarrée explique l’intensité de la jalousie des frères de Joseph. This meaning of the motley dress explains the intensity of the jealousy of the brothers of Joseph. Ils voyaient en elle comme un symbole de l’autorité spéciale accordée par Jacob au fils de Rachel. They saw in her a symbol of the special authority given by Jacob to the son of Rachel.

2°« Joseph alla après ses frères, et il les trouva à Dothan… Ruben dit : Jetez-les dans cette citerne qui est au désert. “Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan.” Reuben said, “Throw them into this cistern which is in the wilderness.” » (XXXVII, 17 et 22). (XXXVII, 17 and 22). On a pu identifier Dothan, qui se trouve au-delà de Djenin, située dans le défilé par lequel passe, au sortir de la plaine d’Esdrelon, la route de Damas en Egypte. It has been possible to identify Dothan, which lies beyond Djenin, situated in the defile through which passes the road from Damascus to Egypt, on leaving the plain of Esdralon. C’était un excellent pâturage, d’une admirable fertilité. It was an excellent pasture, of admirable fertility. Les puits y étaient nombreux. The wells were numerous. Voici ce que dit de cette contrée l’explorateur Anderson : « Les nombreuses citernes taillées dans le roc, qu’on trouve partout à Dothan, devaient fournir (aux frères de Joseph) une fosse commode, pour l’y descendre, et comme ces citernes ont la forme d’une bouteille, avec un orifice étroit, il était impossible, à celui qui y était emprisonné, d’en sortir à moins qu’on ne lui portât secours ( 7 ). This explains the explorer Anderson: “The numerous cisterns carved in the rock, which are found everywhere in Dothan, were to furnish (to the brothers of Joseph) a convenient pit, to lower it, and as these Cisterns have the shape of a bottle, with a narrow orifice, it was impossible for the one who was imprisoned to leave it unless they were given help . » L’une des citernes actuelles est encore appelée par les indigènes : « Khan Jubb Yûsuf » ou « Khan de la fosse de Joseph ». One of the current cisterns is still called by the natives: “Khan Jubb Yûsuf” or “Khan of Joseph’s grave”. En été, un grand nombre de puits de la Palestine sont à sec. In summer, a large number of Palestine wells are dry.

3° « Ayant levé les yeux, ils virent une caravane d’Ismaélites venant de Galaad ; 3. “Having looked up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead; leurs chameaux étaient chargés d’aromates, de baume et de myrrhe, qu’ils transportaient en Egypte. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm, and myrrh, which they carried into Egypt. » (XXXVII, 25). (XXXVII, 25). Ces Ismaélites sont appelés aussi au chapitre XXVII (25, 28, 36) des « marchands madianites ». These Ishmaelites are also called in chapter XXVII (25, 28, 36) of the “Madianite merchants”. Il n’y a là aucune contradiction: Les Madianites habitaient le territoire occupé par les descendants d’Ismaël. There is no contradiction here: The Midianites inhabited the territory occupied by the descendants of Ishmael. Tous les détails qui se rapportent à ces marchands et à leur caravane sont rigoureusement exacts. All the details which relate to these merchants and their caravan are rigorously exact. Ce tableau si pittoresque, si vivant est en pleine harmonie avec tout ce que nous savons de ces caravanes de commerçants qui allaient sans cesse de Palestine, et spécialement de Galaad, en Egypte. This picture, so picturesque, so alive, is in full harmony with all that we know of those caravans of merchants who constantly traveled from Palestine, and especially from Gilead to Egypt. Ces voyageurs portaient, en effet, diverses marchandises fort appréciées en Egypte, notamment des aromates. These travelers carried, in fact, various merchandise much appreciated in Egypt, especially aromatics. On retrouve dans les inscriptions égyptiennes des allusions au « nek’ot », au « sôri » et au « lot » mentionnés dans notre verset. We find in the Egyptian inscriptions allusions to the “nek’ot”, the “sôri” and the “lot” mentioned in our verse. Le « nek’ot » désignait la résine qui découle du tragacanthe, arbre qui croît sur le Liban, en Perse et en Arménie. The “nek’ot” designates the resin that flows from the tragacanth, a tree that grows on Lebanon, Persia and Armenia. Le « sôri » est le baume, résine d’un arbre qui était alors très répandu en Palestine. “Sôri” is the balm, resin of a tree that was then very widespread in Palestine. Le « lot » (en arabe « ladan ») est la gomme qui découle des branches du ladanum, d’où vient le nom de « laudanum ». The “lot” (in Arabic “ladan”) is the gum that flows from the branches of the ladanum, whence comes the name “laudanum”. Les trois espèces de parfums que les Madianites transportaient en Egypte sont encore un objet de commerce entre l’Orient et l’Egypte. The three kinds of perfumes which the Midianites carried to Egypt are still an object of commerce between the East and Egypt.

« Il est certain, écrit l’égyptologue Ebers, que la civilisation égyptienne, telle qu’elle nous est connue par les monuments pharaoniques, ne pouvait se passer d’une multitude d’objets qu’il ne lui était possible de tirer que de l’Orient. “It is certain,” writes the Egyptologist Ebers, “that the Egyptian civilization, as it is known to us by the pharaonic monuments, could not do without a multitude of objects which it was only possible to draw from it The East. De ce nombre sont les substances résineuses et les aromates qui étaient indispensables pour la momification des cadavres ; Among these are the resinous substances and aromatics which were indispensable for the mummification of corpses; le bois de cèdre, que nous voyons sous le nom de « as », employé à toutes sortes d’usages et spécialement à la construction des barques ; The wood of cedar, which we see under the name of “as”, used for all sorts of purposes, and especially for the construction of boats; le bitume, et enfin l’encens et les parfums, nécessaires dès les temps les plus reculés, non seulement pour le culte mais aussi dans la vie privée, où l’on s’en servait avec raison dans les maladies contagieuses, en brûlant, pour purifier l’air, des bois odorants apportés de la Palestine orientale et de l’Arabie. The bitumen, and finally incense and perfumes, necessary from the earliest times, not only for worship but also in private life, where they were used with reason in contagious diseases, burning, To purify the air, fragrant woods brought from eastern Palestine and Arabia. C’est ce qu’attestent des milliers de passages des inscriptions. This is evidenced by thousands of passages of inscriptions. > >

Les marchands qui faisaient le trafic de Palestine en Egypte n’hésitaient pas, quand ils le pouvaient, à acheter des esclaves qu’ils revendaient ensuite à un bon prix en Egypte, où les esclaves sémites étaient fort appréciés. The merchants who traded from Palestine to Egypt did not hesitate, if they could, to buy slaves whom they then resold at a good price in Egypt, where the Semitic slaves were much appreciated.

4° « Potiphar, officier de Pharaon, chef des gardes, Egyptien, l’acheta des Ismaélites qui l’y avaient fait descendre. 4. Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, chief of the guards, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had sent him down there. » (XXXIX, 1). (XXXIX, 1). Le nom de Potiphar était commun en Egypte. The name of Potiphar was common in Egypt. Il s’écrit en égyptien « P.hotep.Har », c’est-à-dire le don ou l’offrande d’Horus. It is written in Egyptian “P.hotep.Har”, that is to say the gift or the offering of Horus. Il ne faut pas le confondre avec le nom de « Poti-phera », nom du prêtre d’On (ou Héliopolis) qui donna sa fille Asnath à Joseph. It should not be confused with the name of “Poti-phera,” the name of the priest of On (or Heliopolis) who gave his daughter Asnath to Joseph. Potiphera s’écrit en égyptien « P.hotep.Ra », le don ou l’offrande de Ra (XLI, 50). Potiphera is written in Egyptian “P.hotep.Ra”, the gift or offering of Ra (XLI, 50). ….

This I find most interesting.

Let us read it again:

 

…. Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, chief of the guards, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had sent him down there. » (XXXIX, 1). (XXXIX, 1). Le nom de Potiphar était commun en Egypte. The name of Potiphar was common in Egypt. Il s’écrit en égyptien « P.hotep.Har », c’est-à-dire le don ou l’offrande d’Horus. It is written in Egyptian “P.hotep.Har”, that is to say the gift or the offering of Horus. Il ne faut pas le confondre avec le nom de « Poti-phera », nom du prêtre d’On (ou Héliopolis) qui donna sa fille Asnath à Joseph. It should not be confused with the name of “Poti-phera,” the name of the priest of On (or Heliopolis) who gave his daughter Asnath to Joseph. Potiphera s’écrit en égyptien « P.hotep.Ra », le don ou l’offrande de Ra (XLI, 50). Potiphera is written in Egyptian “P.hotep.Ra”, the gift or offering of Ra (XLI, 50).

 

According to what we read here, Hotep Ra, or Ra Hotep – the Egyptians commonly reversed names – is of the very essence of the Hebrew transliteration of the Egyptian name into “Potiphera”: פּוֹטִי פֶרַע

So, could we have in this most famous statue of Rahotep (and his wife, Nofret) an actual depiction of the biblical Potiphera?

 

It would remain to be determined if the era of the impressive pharaoh Sneferu (Snofru) can plausibly be accommodated to the revised estimation for the time of Joseph.

Part Two: Potiphar and his wife

 

 

 

 

“When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt”.

 

Genesis 39:1

 

 

 

 

The difference between the biblical names, “Potiphar” and “Potiphera”, is simply – as we read in the previous article – one pertaining to a variation of theophoric ending, Horus and Ra (Re):

 

…. Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, chief of the guards, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had sent him down there. » (XXXIX, 1). (XXXIX, 1). Le nom de Potiphar était commun en Egypte. The name of Potiphar was common in Egypt. Il s’écrit en égyptien « P.hotep.Har », c’est-à-dire le don ou l’offrande d’Horus. It is written in Egyptian “P.hotep.Har”, that is to say the gift or the offering of Horus. Il ne faut pas le confondre avec le nom de « Poti-phera », nom du prêtre d’On (ou Héliopolis) qui donna sa fille Asnath à Joseph. It should not be confused with the name of “Poti-phera,” the name of the priest of On (or Heliopolis) who gave his daughter Asnath to Joseph. Potiphera s’écrit en égyptien « P.hotep.Ra », le don ou l’offrande de Ra (XLI, 50). Potiphera is written in Egyptian “P.hotep.Ra”, the gift or offering of Ra (XLI, 50).

[End of quote]

 

The slight variation of the names may not be enough to prompt one to dispute those Jewish traditions according to which Potiphar and Potiphera were the same person. Robin Cohn has written on this (http://robincohn.net/asenath-the-seventh-matriarch/):

 

Potiphar = Poti-phera?

 

In the early traditions about Aseneth in the Book of Jubilees, the Testament of Joseph, the Aramaic targumim of Onqelos and Neofiti 1, and many Jewish legends, Joseph’s owner Potiphar is identified with his father-in-law, Potiphera. In Greek, the names are identical. According to Genesis 37:36 the Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, a seris of Pharaoh and his chief steward. In older translations seris was translated as eunuch. As a result Potiphar’s characterization as a eunuch brought up the question of how he could have fathered a daughter. Rabbinic traditions not subscribing to the suggestion that Asenath was Dinah’s daughter, proposed that Potiphar conceived Aseneth prior to being made a eunuch or she was the daughter of his wife through other means. Based on modern scholarship, seris more appropriate means “officer” therefore we need not trouble ourselves with how a eunuch could be Aseneth’s father, even if Potiphar is to be equated with Potiphera.

[End of quote]

 

Following on from these traditions, it is not too far-fetched to suggest that this high Egyptian official could have borne names merely differing as to their theophorics – or, perhaps, that he slightly altered his name to include Ra when he became the priest of Heliopolis, the chief cult centre of Ra.

The following translation shows Rahotep to have been, like Potiphar, a guard and military commander http://www.egyptorigins.org/rahotepandnofret.htm

 

Inscription for Rahotep
Transliteration Translation
wr-m3.w jwnw w .t.y

wr zH mDH.w 3ms

w .t.y wr  js w .t.y wrS pj, nty

z3-n.y-sw.t n.y X.t=f r -Htp.j

wr n.y pj{.t}

jm.y-r3 s-k3j.t Tt

jm.y-r3 mS  xrp tm3

z3-n.y-sw.t n.y X.t=f r -Htp.j

Unique Chief of Seers of Heliopolis

Chief of the Shrine, Keeper of the Scepter

He being unique who guards Pe,

Bodily Royal Son, Rahotep

Chief of Pe

Overseer of construction and Vizier

Overseer of the Army, Controller of Squadrons

Bodily Royal Son, Rahotep

 

All this now makes quite possible, too, that Potiphar’s wife was Nofret herself (Genesis 39:6-20).

 

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he refused. ‘With me in charge’, he told her, ‘my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?’ And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. ‘Look’, she said to them, ‘this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house’.

She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: ‘That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house’. When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, ‘This is how your slave treated me’, he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

 

 

Part Three: An Egyptian variant tale

 

 

“Similarities between the classical Egyptian Tale of the Two Brothers and the Biblical story of Joseph in Egypt and Potiphar have long been noted by biblical authors (J.R. Porter, Illustrated Guide to the Bible, Oxford University Press US, 1998, 50)”.

 

 

 

The story of Moses’ flight from Egypt into Midian was vaguely recalled, later, in the popular Egyptian The Tale of Sinuhe [TTS], but with enough of a resemblance to the original for professor E. Anati to write that TTS had “a common matrix” with the Exodus account of Moses (Mountain of God, p. 158).

 

And I think that the same may be said of the New Kingdom “Tale of the Two Brothers”, that it has some vague likenesses (as commonly noted) with the biblical sage of Joseph, Potiphar and his wife. And so we read at:

http://www.cumorah.com/index.php?target=view_other_articles&story_id=62&cat_id=7

 

Similarities between the classical Egyptian Tale of the Two Brothers and the Biblical story of Joseph in Egypt and Potiphar have long been noted by biblical authors (J.R. Porter, Illustrated Guide to the Bible, Oxford University Press US, 1998, 50). I will here develop that idea further with a comparison of the two so that readers can draw their own conclusions.

The analysis of the Egyptian Tale of Two Brothers suffers from several main obstacles:

 

  • 1. As with any myth or legend, the Tale of Two Brothers exists in various versions with some differences. Perhaps the best known comes from the Papyrus D’Orbiney, as popularized by Charles Moldenke. The hieratic text with hieroglyphic transcription and Moldenke’s translation is available here.
  • 2. Some of the texts are incompletely preserved and are missing significant portions which may contain relevant details. The missing portions of the text make translation more difficult because of missing context. To be sure, this does not by any means invalidate the existing translations, although it may make translations less precise than would be desired.
  • 3. The story itself appears to be very ancient, although the accounts we have are later ones. The Biblical story of Joseph and Potiphar is estimated to have occurred cerca 1650 BC, at least if Biblical timelines are believed, although revisionist chronologists have posited the Joseph story as late as 1250 BC. The Papyrus D’Orbiney is associated with the end of the 19th Dynasty cerca 1185 BC. However, in either case we see that the Joseph story is attributed to a period pre-dating the Papyrus D’Orbiney, suggesting that Joseph was the origin of the Egyptian Tale and not the reverse.
  • 4. This length of five centuries between the events and the first Egyptian record of them (or less, if one accepts revisionist dating regarding Joseph) raises concern about the likelihood, even inevitability, of various alterations which have occurred over time as history has been transformed into folk tale. In looking at the core essence of the story, we must not be distracted by fabulous elements or later interpolations which we see time and again in Egyptian history, religion, and legend. The fact that flood stories from around the world diverge on some details does not detract from the existence of substantial commonalities, nor does the later deification of early pharaohs detract from their historical personage. Few stories have not undergone significant alteration in their telling over the generations as history becomes legend and legend becomes myth.
  • 5. Authors writing from different perspectives or for different purposes often tell the same story in very different ways. The Genesis account contains sparse detail, but the account which it provides appears to be reliable. The Egyptian Tale of Two Brothers provides considerable detail. Some of these details may fill in true elements which are missing from the Genesis story, whereas others may represent later embellishments. As we sift the fabulous from the accounts, we arrive at a core story which shares compelling commonalities. Below I have listed Budge’s version of the Tale, adjacent to relevant elements from the Genesis account. Several types of marking are used in analyzing the similarities and differences. Blue text marks significant similarities between the passages. Black text marks details present in one version but not another which neither strengthen nor detract from the similiarities. Red text marks mutually incompatible contradictions between the two stories. Green text annotates elements of the Tale which are obviously mythic or fantastic. “You are the beloved of [the goddess] Inanna, you alone are exalted…From the lower (lands) to the upper (lands) you are their lord, I am second to you, From (the moment of conception), I was not your equal, you are the ‘big brother,’ I cannot compare with you ever.” (Kramer, History Begins at Sumer, 230. The context of the Tale of Two Brothers supports the belief that the two men were master and servant rather than literal brothers; beyond the first line the passages suggest a close mentorship or adoptive type of relationship rather than direct family relationship. At the very beginning the tale notes that the younger brother was “like a son” to the “older brother,” and the “younger brother tells the older brother’s wife: “I have looked upon thee in the light of a mother, and thy husband in the light of a father to me.” Why would the younger brother have to explain that his older brother was “like a father” to him if he was already a direct family member?Sir E.A. Wallis Budge, Dwellers on the Nile, 115-120
  • In the passages below of Budge’s translation, I have therefore inserted in brackets MASTER for elder [brother] and SERVANT for younger [brother].
  • Turkish” agabey” (lit. “elder brother”) also means “master.” Thus what a literal interpretation would render “elder brother” and “younger brother” often means “master” and “servant” in context.
  • It has been pointed out (D. Stewart, Sr.) that the title “elder brother” and “younger brother” in ancient languages were used as honorifics for master and servant respectively; this is preserved to the present day in Chinese. I also note that the use of “elder brother” as an honorific for a master dates from the earliest times; we see in the records of Sumerian, the first written language, that a master or professor was referred to by his pupils as “big brother” (Kramer, Samuel Noah. History Begins at Sumer. University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia, Third Edition, 1981, 7, 15). We read in the Sumerian composition Enmerkar and Ensukushsiranna, a dispute between two rival rulers, that the capitulation of Ensukushsiranna Lord of Aratta to Enmerkar is accompanied with nomenclature referring Enmerkar as the “big brother,” that is, master:
Tale of Two Brother Genesis 39 Comments
There were two brothers, children of one mother and of one father.
Anpu was the name of the elder brother [MASTER], Bata that of the younger brother [SERVANT]. 1. And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.
Anpu had a house and a wife, and his younger brother [SERVANT] was like a son to him. He followed after the cattle, he did the ploughing and all the labours of the fields. Now while the younger brother [SERVANT] was with the cattle every day in the fields, taking them home each evening, and while he was in the stables, the elder brother sat with his wife and ate and drank. And when the day dawned, and before his brother rose from his bed, he [SERVANT] took bread to the fields and called the labourers to eat in the field. Behold his younger brother was so good a labourer that there was not his equal in the whole land. 2 And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4 And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. 5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. 6 And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.
The cattle told him where the best grasses were, and he understood their language. This has no counterpart in Genesis 39, but the parallel of the “younger brother” being able to understand the language of the cattle has obvious parallels to Balaam’s speaking donkey (Numbers 22). The concept of speaking animals does not seem to be an indigenous Egyptian concept, and to my knowledge does not appear to be evidenced in other ostensibly “historical” Egyptian narratives.
And when it was the season for ploughing, the elder brother said, ‘Come, let us take our teams for ploughing, for the land has made its appearance; go and fetch seed for us from the village.’
And the younger brother found the elder brother’s wife sitting at her toilet. And he said, ‘Arise, and give me seed that I may go back to the field, because my elder brother wishes me to return without delay.’ Then she, said, ‘Go open the bin, and take thyself whatever thou wilt, my hair would fall by the way.’ So the youth entered his stable; he took a large vessel, for he wished to take a great deal of seed, and he loaded himself with grain and went out with it.
And she spoke to him saying, ‘What strength is there in thee, indeed. I observe thy vigour every day.’ She seized upon him and said to him, ‘Come let us lie down for an instant’ 7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
The youth became like a panther with fury on account of the shameful discourse which she had addressed to him. He spoke to her, saying, ‘Verily I have looked upon thee in the light of a mother, and thy husband in the light of a father to me. What a great abomination is this which thou hast mentioned to me. Do not repeat it again to me, and I will not speak of it to any one; verily I ‘will not let any thing of it come forth from my mouth to any man.’ 8 But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. 11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. Although the Tale treats her approach as a one-time event, internal evidence of the Tale supports the validity of the Genesis account that the master’s wife tried to seduce Joseph on multiple occasions until the final event. Specifically, the “younger brother” said: “Do not repeat it again to me, and I will not speak of it to any one; verily I ‘will not let any thing of it come forth from my mouth to any man.'” The elder brother’s wife would have had little reason to attempt to have the younger brother killed after he had already sworn silence; the Genesis account makes more sense that Joseph fled and left his garment when she became aggressive after her previous advances were declined, creating a situation which was not easily diffused or ignored.
Behold, the wife of his elder brother [MASTER] was alarmed at the discourse which she had held. She made herself like one who had suffered violence, for she wished to say to her husband, ‘It is thy younger brother [SERVANT] who has done me violence.’ Her husband returned’ at evening, and found his wife lying as if murdered by a ruffian. And she said, ‘No one has conversed with me except thy younger brother; when he came to fetch seed for thee, he found me sitting alone, and said insulting words to me. But I did not listen to him. Behold am I not thy mother, and thy elder brother is he not like a father to thee? This is what I said to him, and he got alarmed, and did me violence that I might not make a report to thee; but if thou lettest him live I shall kill myself.’ And the elder [MASTER] became like a panther; he made his dagger sharp, and took it in his hand, and placed himself behind the door of the stable to kill his younger brother [SERVANT] on his return at evening to bring his cattle to the stable. 13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, 14 That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: 15 And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out. 16 And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. 17 And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: 18 And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out. 19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled.
When the sun was set, the younger brother [SERVANT] loaded himself with the herbs of the field and came home. And when the first cow entered the stable she said to him, ‘Verily thy elder brother is standing before thee with his dagger to slay thee. Betake thyself from before him.’ The second beast spake “after” the same manner, and when he looked he saw the two feet of his elder brother who was standing behind the door, and placing his burden upon the ground he fled. In his flight the young man prayed to the Sun-god, who straightway caused the two brothers to be divided by a river full of crocodiles, and each brother stood upon an opposite bank. At daybreak the younger brother declared his innocence, and told his brother the true story. 20 And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. That Joseph was imprisoned instead of being killed in the Biblical account when accused of attempted adultery contrasts with the death penalty for such accusations in societies of the time. The more lenient punishment of Joseph has suggested to other scholars that Potiphar may have had reason to doubt his wife’s story. Rutgers University professort Gary Rendsburg observes: “The fact that [Potiphar] places [Joseph] only in prison suggests that he did not fully believe his wife” (Gary Rendsburg, “The Book of Genesis,” The Teaching Company, Lecture 39, 18:35).

In the Egyptian Tale, we have another parallel to the Balaam story of Numbers 22 with livestock not only speaking but warning the principal character to save him from death.

The story of the Tale and of scripture here, although different, are not mutually exclusive. In view of Potiphar’s power, the crime of which Joseph was accused, the lack of meaningful rights of slaves and servants, and the jurisprudence of the time which often sentenced men to death for far lesser crimes, the Genesis account fails to explain why Joseph was not killed on the spot. It is likely that both histories are correct: Potiphar may have first tried to kill Joseph, and failing that because of miraculous deliverance, had Joseph arrested and cast into prison.

 

At this point the narrative takes numerous fabulous turns which break with the generally plausible elements up until this point, suggesting later embellishment of an original true history. Previously there have been no fabulous elements except for the animals warning the “younger brother” just as the donkey warned Balaam. At this point the Tale diverges substantially from the story of Joseph which the narrative to this point has closely matched, further corroborating the belief that this was added later.

 

 

Part Four:

Asenath an adopted daughter?

 

 

“Pharaoh gave Joseph … Asenath … to be his wife”.

 

Genesis 41:45

 

 

 

In search of the biblical Asenath, we may peruse those named as children (“Issue”) of Rahotep (our Potiphera) in the table below (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Rahotep)

Unfortunately, none of these Egyptian names: Djedi, Itu, Neferkau, Mereret, Nedjemib, Sethtet, would seem to me to bear any resemblance whatsoever to the name Asenath.

 

Rahotep
Prince of Egypt
Statue of Rahotep
Burial mastaba, Meidum
Spouse Nofret
Issue Djedi, Itu, Neferkau, Mereret, Nedjemib, Sethtet
Father Sneferu or Huni
Mother Sneferu’s first wife or Huni’s wife
Religion Ancient Egyptian religion
Occupation Priest of Ra

 

Asenath is thought to have been an Egyptian name, with some liking to connect it to the goddess Neith (e.g., “she who belongs to the goddess Neith”). “The problem is”, according to B. Scolnic, “that this name does not exist anywhere in ancient Egypt” (If the Egyptians Drowned in the Red Sea where are Pharaoh’s Chariots …, p. 52).

On the same page we learn that Kenneth Kitchen has claimed that Asenath actually means “she who belongs to you”, it being similar to a name formula from Egypt’s Middle Kingdom inscriptions such as “she who belongs to her father/mother”.

If Asenath were an adopted daughter of Rahotep, and, say, a non-Egyptian woman, then this might serve to solve a problem that, according to the following, has been “a big problem with Asenath” for the rabbis (http://www.bethradom.com/brc-blog.html):

 

In parshat Mikeitz, we continue with the narrative of Joseph.  Joseph is in the dungeons, having been framed by Potiphar’s wife for her own crime of infidelity.  After proving his value to the Pharoah as an interpreter of dreams, Joseph rises to be ruler of all Egypt, second in command only to the Pharoah, himself.  In that time, Pharoah also gives Joseph a wife, Asenath, daughter of Potiphera … with whom he has two sons, Ephraim and Menashe.

 

The Rabbis have a big problem with Asenath.  She is an Egyptian, daughter of a pagan, and the Torah does not mention any kind of conversion.  Despite this, her two sons, Ephraim and Menashe, also, supposedly without direct mention of conversion or circumcision, Jacob claims as direct inheritors, to become tribes of Israel, each in their own right.  To make things more difficult, Jewish fathers today, continue to invoke the names of Ephraim and Menashe when blessing their sons on Friday nights.  To help settle the problem, the rabbis refer to Targum Pseudo-Yonatan which argues that in fact, Asenath was adopted by Potiphera, but was secretly the product of Shechem forcing himself on Dina, Jacob’s daughter.

[End of quote]

 

The extraordinary situation is nicely accounted for by J. Pratt, in “Jacob’s Seventieth Descendant” http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/meridian/2000/puzzle_ans.html

 

….

3. The Hebrew Tradition

 

But could Asenath really have been Dinah’s daughter? To the best of my knowledge, this solution to the puzzle has never been published until now. No one has noticed that these verses in an obscure list of genealogy imply that Joseph’s wife, the mother of the tribe who inherited the blessing of the firstborn of Israel, is also of the house of Israel. Could that really be true?

 

It turns out that it has long been a Jewish tradition that Asenath was the daughter of Leah’s daughter Dinah by Shechem, a prince in the land of Canaan (Gen. 34:2). It has been thought by scholars that this tradition was no more than a fabrication. It was supposedly invented to explain the otherwise embarrassing fact that Joseph married an Egyptian woman, when Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all given strict commands to marry in their own family lineage. It has always seemed strange to me, however, that a legend was invented to legitimize Joseph’s wife’s lineage by making her the illegitimate daughter of Dinah and someone from Canaan. Here is one of the many variations of this tradition:

 

Dinah was already pregnant by Shechem, and bore him a posthumous daughter. Her brothers wished to kill the child, as custom demanded, lest any Canaanite might say ‘The maidens of Israel are without shame!’ Jacob, however, restrained them, hung about his grand-daughter’s neck a silver disk on which were engraved the words ‘Holy to God!’, and laid her underneath a thorn bush — hence she was called ‘Asenath’. That same day Michael, in the shape of an eagle, flew off with Asenath to On in Egypt, and there laid her beside God’s altar. The priest, by name Potipherah, seeing his wife was barren, brought up Asenath as his own child.

 

Many years later, when Joseph had saved Egypt from famine and made a progress through the land, women threw him thank-offerings. Among them was Asenath who, having no other gift, tossed Joseph her silver disk, which he caught as it flew by. He recognized the inscription and, knowing the she must be his own niece, married her.[5]

 

In a less miraculous version of this tradition, Jacob himself placed the infant Asenath

 

near the wall of Egypt. On the same day Potiphar was taking a walk, accompanied by his retinue, and approached the wall. He heard the child weeping and commanded his followers to bring it to him. When he noticed the tablet and read the inscription he said to his followers, “This child is the daughter of eminent people. Carry it into my house and procure a nurse for it.[6]

 

It is clear from how different these two traditions are that much of these stories are the interpolations of men. All of these legends agree, however, on the core idea that Asenath was the daughter of Dinah and Shechem. The uncertainty seems to be on just how she came to arrive in Egypt and to be adopted by Potipherah.

 

Another clue is that Joseph is tied to Shechem is that Joseph was buried at Shechem (Joshua 24:32). Why was he buried there, when Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were buried together in Hebron? Shechem later became part of the inheritance of the tribe of Manasseh, Joseph’s son. Now let us turn to early Christian traditions about Joseph and Asenath.

 

4. The Christian Tradition

 

A rather different story is told in the apocryphal book Joseph and Asenath, which was a highly respected book of early Christianity.[7] A principal theme is Asenath’s total conversion to Joseph’s religion, facilitated by the appearance of an angel who looked like Joseph (J&A 14:9).

While this book says nothing about Asenath not being the literal daughter of Potipherah, it has many clues that the author knew her true lineage, but also wanted to keep it a secret. Remember, that during past ages, it was a huge disgrace to have been an illegitimate child, so the motive for keeping her lineage secret is obvious. Here are some clues that the author of Joseph and Asenath knew who Asenath really was.

 

  1. The point is made that Asenath does not look anything like other Egyptian women, but that she was “slender like unto Sarah, beautiful like Rebekah, and radiant in appearance like Rachel.”[8] Stating that she looked exactly like the three wives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, all of whom were from Abraham’s family, has a pretty clear implications about her true lineage, without giving details.

 

  1. The author gives the ages of both Asenath and Joseph’s brother Benjamin correctly, as being 18 years old at the time when Joseph was 30 (J&A 1:4, 27:2). That matches the Hebrew tradition perfectly,[9] although that information is not in the Old Testament.

 

  1. Asenath goes into a soliloquy where she states that she is “an orphan, and desolate and abandoned and hated” (J&A 11:3). Such a surprising declaration is justified by explaining that she means only that she expects to be rejected by her Egyptian parents when she denounces their gods. The evidence that she really was a rejected orphan makes it much more understandable that such an unusual statement would be included.

 

  1. The story speaks of Asenath’s “foster father.” He does not appear to be Potipherah, but rather a steward (J&A 18:2), but it is interesting that the story includes her foster father.

 

Thus, there are many clues that the author of the Joseph and Asenath knew who she really was. Much of the rest of the book appears to be interpolation and fabrication, or what we might call today a “historical novel.” The great success of recent historical novels seems to be that they are set in a true historical setting. Similarly, it appears that the author of Joseph and Asenath wrote the account to be consistent with all of the historical setting of which he was aware.

 

5. Conclusion

 

If it is acknowledged that there really is a true logic puzzle purposely included in Genesis 46, then it is an important discovery because it elevates the tradition of Asenath’s true lineage from being a mere fabrication to being indicated by scripture. But one cannot prove that the logic puzzle was in the mind of the author of Genesis. It could be argued that the puzzle is not there at all, that it is rather just a coincidence that two errors just happen to indicate that Asenath is of the House of Israel. Anyone taking that position, however, should explain why Asenath’s name is in the genealogy list at all, especially in light of the explicit statement that none of the wives is included in the count. This point and all of the other unusual wording can best be explained by recognizing that Genesis does indeed contain all the information necessary to deduce that Asenath, the mother of the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, was the daughter of Dinah of the house of Israel.

 

Bezalel and Kothar-wa-Ḫasis

Published January 17, 2017 by amaic

 Kothar-wa-Khasis, Kothar, Kathar-Wa-Hasis, Kothar-u-Khasis, Kathar-Wa-Hassis, Kusorhasisu | They were here and might return | Scoop.it

 by

Damien F. Mackey  

 

 

“Reading Exodus’ description of Bezalel from a somewhat more historical-critical orientation than that of his predecessors, the early Jewish 20th century scholar Umberto (Rabbi Moshe David) Cassuto, in his commentary to the Book of Exodus, emphasized the similarities between Bezalel’s attributes and descriptions of the Ugaritic, artisan deity Kothar-wa-Ḫasis”.

 

 

Introduction

 

The Ras Shamra (Ugarit) series of tablets has been wrongly dated by historians and chronologists to c. 1550-1200 BC, which is some 500-600 years earlier than the series ought to have been dated. This is a situation common also to the El Amarna [EA] archive, dated to the 1400’s BC instead of to the 800’s BC, approximately. Dr. I. Velikovsky had discussed the chronological anomalies in both cases, in his Ages in Chaos, 1952 and Oedipus and Akhnaton, 1960.

In relation to the Old Testament, we have EA’s pharaoh, Akhnaton, thought to have pre-dated King David by some centuries, and hence the conclusion must be that his Sun Hymn, so like Psalm 104 in many places, must have been the inspiration for the biblical text.

And so we read, for instance (http://www.dubiousdisciple.com/2013/04/psalm-104-the-great-hymn-to-the-aten-2.html):

 

Today’s topic comes from Douglas A. Knight and Amy Jill Levine’s excellent book, The Meaning of the Bible.

On the wall of a 14th century BCE tomb in Egypt archaeologists found a beautiful hymn to the god Aten. The Aten’s claim to fame is that he is sole God of a monotheistic [sic] belief espoused by Pharaoh Akhenaten (1352-1336) in an era when most Egyptians believed in many gods.

What’s curious about the Great Hymn to the Aten is that it closely mirrors Psalm 104 in our Bible as a song of praise to the creator, though written hundreds of years before any of the Bible [sic]. Psalm 104, of course, is addressed not to the Aten but to YHWH, the god of the Hebrews. Here are some parallels highlighted by Knight and Levine’s book:

 

O Sole God beside whom there is none! – to Aten

O YHWH my God you are very great. – to YHWH

 

How many are your deeds … You made the earth as you wished, you alone, All peoples, herds, and flocks. – to Aten

O YHWH, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. to YHWH

 

When you set in western lightland, Earth is in darkness as if in death – to Aten

You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out. – to YHWH

 

Every lion comes from its den – to Aten

The young lions roar for their prey .. when the sun rises, they withdraw, and lie down in their dens. – to YHWH

 

When you have dawned they live, When you set they die; – to Aten

When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die – to YHWH

 

You set every man in his place, You supply their needs; Everyone has his food. – to Aten

These all look to you to give them their food in due season. – to YHWH

 

The entire land sets out to work – to Aten People go out to their work and to their labor until the evening – to YHWH

 

The fish in the river dart before you, Your rays are in the midst of the sea. – to Aten

Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there – to YHWH

 

Birds fly from their nests, Their wings greeting your ka – to Aten

By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches – to YHWH

 

He makes waves on the mountain like the sea, To drench their fields and their towns. – to Aten

You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills … The trees of YHWH are watered abundantly – to YHWH

[End of quote]

 

This is quite the common view.

Revisionists, however, view it entirely the other way around – that King David had, in fact, pre-dated Akhnaton and EA by more than a century, and so could not have been influenced in his religious ideas by the curious pharaoh. Rather, it was Israel that was culturally influencing the nations of that time.

 

Ugarit (Ras Shamra)

 

 

The same sort of artificial “Dark Age” archaeological gap that the likes of Peter James et al. had discerned in the conventional Hittite history (Centuries of Darkness, 1990), Dr. Velikovsky had already – four decades earlier – shown to have been the case with the Ugarit-Cyprus connection. And so we read (https://www.varchive.org/schorr/ugarit.htm):

 

In the published volume of Ages in Chaos, Velikovsky made a strong case for challenging Ugarit’s conventional dates.1 He pointed out many 500-year problems in the literary texts uncovered at the site, and shows the difficulty relating to vaulted Cypriote tombs constructed in the style of those from Ugarit but set 500 years later. For those who have not read or were not already convinced by the material presented by Velikovsky for Ras Shamra-Ugarit, perhaps a couple of additional problems will suffice.

Let us again look at the vaulted tombs of Cyprus. Velikovsky has already mentioned some of these, especially the 7th-century example from Trachonas. The island of Cyprus has an “astonishing” number of these tombs2 which divide neatly into two series: those assigned to 1550-1200 B.C., and those beginning in 950 B.C. And continuing for some time.3 The first group of vaulted tombs (at Enkomi) corresponds closely in date and style to the Ugaritic tombs, and the type is thought to have come from Syria to Cyprus.4 The second group of Cypriote tombs corresponds to both the Ugaritic and earlier Cypriote examples, but a 250-year gap separates the inception of the second group from the end of the Bronze Age tombs. More important than the 250-year period when no tombs were built in Syria or Cyprus to connect the later tombs to the earlier ones, is the fact that the earliest tombs of each group (i.e., those of 1550 and 950 B.C.), separated by 600 years, are most similar.5

The Cypriote vaulted tombs from 950-600 B.C. seem to undergo the same development as the Enkomi and Ugaritic tombs with 600 years separating the corresponding phases. It has been postulated that the later tombs somehow copied the earlier Cypriote or Syrian ones, but the tombs presumably copied must have been buried and invisible for some 600 years.6

Similar tombs are found in Jerusalem, Asia Minor, and Urartu of the 9th-7th centuries, and again it is thought that they originated in 9th-7th-century Syro-Phoenicia.7 But the only tombs of this type in that region, notably the ones from Ugarit, are placed centuries earlier.

Leaving behind the regions bordering Syro-Phoenicia, we shall travel briefly to an actual Punic colony. In the 9th or 8th century B.C.,8 a group of Phoenicians sailed to North Africa and founded Carthage. One of the oldest archaeological discoveries from the site is a late 8th-century B.C. built tomb “closely related” to the Ugaritic tombs in architectural plan. 9 It is a “faithful miniature rendering” of the Syrian tombs both in design and, apparently, in arrangements for religious rites.10 It would hardly be surprising for 8th-century Phoenician colonists to bring over a current tomb type and burial customs from their motherland. The only similar tomb type and burial customs that their motherland can produce, however, are put 500 years earlier. By the accepted scheme, the colonists’ ancestors would have been very familiar with these matters, but by the 8th century B.C., the Ugaritic tombs must have been buried over, invisible, and forgotten. 11

How did these tombs of Ugarit serve as models for Cypriots, Israelites, Urartians, Anatolian peoples, and Phoenician colonists, if contemporaneity is denied, and they went out of use and were thus forgotten 500-600 years earlier?

The final items we will examine from Ugarit are a gold bowl and a gold plate, both beautifully decorated. Stratigraphically, they belong shortly before the destruction of the city during the Amarna period, and are thus assigned a date somewhere between 1450-1365 B.C.12 Stylistically, as well, they belong to the Mitannian-Amarna period and show scenes reminiscent of late 18th Dynasty Egypt, notably the time of King Tutankhamen. 13 Both stratigraphically and stylistically, then, a late 18th Dynasty date is necessitated. Since Velikovsky lowers that date by over 500 years, how are the gold bowls affected?

These two pieces are called “remarkable antecedents of the use of the frieze of animals on metal bowls” of Phoenician workmanship, firmly dated to the 9th-7th centuries B.C.14 What is more “remarkable” than the Ugaritic examples’ manufacture and burial over 500 years before the “later” series began, is the subject matter of the two items. Extraordinary conservatism was attributed to the Phoenicians, since the later group faithfully reproduced similar scenes and arrangement of the decoration,15 after a lapse of 500 years.

The chariot scene on the 14th-century gold plate is compared to similar scenes of the 9th-century Neo-Hittites and of the Assyrian King Assurnasirpal II (883-859 B.C.).16 The elongated gallop of the horse is seen to be quite similar to depictions on Assyrian reliefs, but Assyrian influence “is chronologically impossible, all the Assyrian monuments presently known where horses are depicted at gallop being about half a millennium later than our plate” (174). The gold bowl (Fig. 7) with its combination of Aegean, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Levantine motifs is “an excellent example of Phoenician syncretism, half a millennium before Phoenicians in the proper sense are known”.17

Surely, it was thought, these golden objects, remarkably foreshadowing by 500 years similar metal bowls and similar scenes, “may be claimed as ancestors of the series of ‘Phoenician’ bowls of the ninth-seventh centuries B.C.”18 How can they be ancestors if they were buried and unseen for 500 years before the later series began, and the art was lost over those 500 years?

If metal bowls reproduced similar scenes in similar arrangements for 500 years, that would indeed be “extraordinary conservatism.” That 9th-7th-century Phoenicians should imitate so closely 14th-century bowls they never saw, after a 500-year gap, is merely “extraordinary.”

When their date is reduced by half a millennium, these bowls fit beautifully into the later series. If one keeps high dates for the Mitannians and the 18th Egyptian Dynasty, then this is yet another mystery to add to our list.

References

 

  1. Velikovsky, Ages in Chaos, pp. 179-222.
  2. Westholm, “Built Tombs in Cyprus,” Opuscula Archaeologica II (1941), p. 30.
  3. , pp. 32-51.
  4. , p. 57.
  5. , pp. 52-53. See also A. Westholm, “Amathus,” in E. Gjerstad, et al.. The Swedish Cyprus Expedition (henceforth SCE) II (Stockholm: 1935), p. 140, and E. Sjöqvist, “Enkomi” SCE I (Stockholm: 1934), pp. 570-73.
  6. Gjerstad, SCE IV.2 (Stockholm: 1948), p. 239; V. Karageorghis, Excavations in the Necropolis of Salamis I (Salamis, vol. 3) [Nicosia: 1967], p. 123.
  7. Ussishkin, “The Necropolis from the Time of the Kingdom of Judah at Silwan, Jerusalem,” The Biblical Archaeologist 33 (1970): 45-46.
  8. The foundation date was disputed in antiquity. Most ancient estimates fell within the range of 846-7 51 B.C. Of particular interest for our purposes is the fact that a number of ancient authors stated that Carthage was founded before the Trojan War.
  9. C. and C. Picard, The Life and Death of Carthage, trans. from the French by D. Collon (London: 1968), p. 47.
  10. , p. 52, and see C. Picard, “Installations Cultuelles Retrouveés au Tophet de Salammbo,” Rivista degli Studi Orientali 42 (1967): 189-99.
  11. Picard, “Installations,” sees close relations between the Ras Shamra and Carthage tombs but recognizes the chronological difficulty. His suggestion, pp. 197-98, that this tomb type came from Cyprus does not help matters. The Carthaginian settlers were primarily Syro-Phoenicians, not Cypriots. Besides, he seems not to realize that the type did not survive in Cyprus from Bronze Age times (contra, p. 197). Like the Carthaginian example, it “came back” after a mysterious chronological gap. Even if we make the Carthage example depend on Cyprus, not Syria, we are still left with the puzzle of how and why the Cypriots copied, yet did not copy, the 600-year extinct tombs of Ras Shamra or Enkomi.
  12. F. A. Schaeffer, Ugaritica II (Paris: 1949), pp. 5, 47. See H. Frankfort, The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient (Baltimore: 1963), p. 150 for their assignment to the Mitannian period, p. 140 for his dates for that period; D. E. Strong, Greek and Roman Gold and Silver Plate (Glasgow: 1966), p. 53.
  13. Frankfort, Art and Architecture, 150.
  14. Dikaios, “Fifteen Iron Age Vases,” Report of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, 1937-1939 (Nicosia: 1951): 137. 1 72. Schaeffer, Ugaritica II, p. 47.
  15. Vieyra, Hittite Art, pp. 45-46.
  16. Schaeffer, Ugaritica II, 22-23: “Une influence de ce coté est chronologique-ment impossible, tous les monuments assyriens actuellement connus où figurent des chevaux au galop étant postérieurs de près d’un demi-millénaire à notre patère.”
  17. Frankfort, Art and Architecture, 150.
  18. Strong, Gold and Silver Plate, 53.

[End of quote]

 

 

The conventional upside-down chronology for Ugarit has, as with EA, led to the inevitable – but wrong – conclusion that the pagan culture had influenced the supposedly later biblical writings.

The following is a typical example of this mind-set (https://www.britannica.com/place/Ugarit):

 

Ras Shamra texts and the Bible

 

Many texts discovered at Ugarit, including the “Legend of Keret,” the “Aqhat Epic” (or “Legend of Danel”), the “Myth of Baal-Aliyan,” and the “Death of Baal,” reveal an Old Canaanite mythology. A tablet names the Ugaritic pantheon with Babylonian equivalents; El, Asherah of the Sea, and Baal were the main deities. These texts not only constitute a literature of high standing and great originality but also have an important bearing on biblical studies. It is now evident that the patriarchal stories in the Hebrew Bible were not merely transmitted orally but were based on written documents of Canaanite origin, the discovery of which at Ugarit has led to a new appraisal of the Hebrew Bible.

 

[End of quote]

 

For a complete reversal of this view, though, see my:

 

Identity of the ‘Daniel’ in Ezekiel 14 and 28

 

https://www.academia.edu/29786004/Identity_of_the_Daniel_in_Ezekiel_14_and_28

 

With this new, revised, approach in mind, there may well be need further to re-assess Cassuto’s interpretation – following upon his most helpful comparisons between Bezalel and Ugaritic Kothar-wa-Ḫasis – of “the biblical material as a critique of Canaanite legends and polytheism.[15]”. Rather, I suggest, the Canaanite legends ought to be viewed as later, corrupt, polytheistic versions of the sublime Hebrew originals.

Baal Bronze figurine, 14th-12th centuries, Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit)

 

Rabbi Jeremy S. Morrison discusses Cassuto’s paralleling of Bezalel and Kothar-wa-Ḫasis in the following terrific article: http://thetorah.com/bezalel-and-the-impotence-of-foreign-deities/

 

Bezalel Ben Uri and the Impotence of Foreign Deities

 

Introduction – Bezalel’s Special Attributes

 

In this week’s parasha, Vayakhel, we encounter one of the Torah’s most enigmatic characters: Bezalel, the artisan and architect who oversees the building of the Tabernacle.  Our portion describes Bezalel as filled with divine spirit (ruach elohim), and endowed with wisdom (chochmah), discernment or technical know-how (tevunah) and with knowledge of every kind of work (u’v’da’at u’vchol melachah).[1]  The product that Bezalel makes further highlights his special characteristics.  As the constructor of the Tabernacle, a dwelling place for Yhwh, Bezalel builds a house that is unique from all other human-built houses.   Scholars stress the superlative nature of the Book of Exodus’s description of him: Bezalel has “the gift of originality” and he possesses “all the requisite qualities [of wisdom, discernment and knowledge] in supernatural measure.”[2]

There is indeed something “supernatural” about Bezalel, and the unique and surpassing description of this character provokes compelling questions: Who is Bezalel? Why does Exodus describe him in this manner?  And what is his relationship with God?

 

Human Creativity in the Bible

Biblical Creative Tensions

Within the Bible, creativity is frequently a realm in which God is in conflict with humans. In biblical texts, humans are denied originality [sic]. Knowledge that is generated independently by the human mind, and not installed there by God, “must be at best wrong, at worst possibly antagonistic to God.”[3] The Bible also expresses suspicion regarding human artisanship, particularly metalworking, which often leads to the construction of idols. [4] Bezalel, designated as both a metal worker (Exod. 36:32) and as a thinker “of thoughts or plans” (Exod. 36:35) would seem to embody the “creative tensions” that concern the writers of the Bible.  And yet, the description of Bezalel in Vayakhel is not infused with tension; rather, he is presented as an elevated, masterful artisan, skilled in a variety of creative processes, and capable of instructing others.[5]

 

Yhwh’s Relationship with Bezalel

 

The absence of tension between God and this particular artisan highlights the special character of their relationship, which is further indicated by the opening verse of the description.  As Moses states (35:30) to the Israelites: “See, Yhwh has called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri.”

The description of Bezalel in this week’s portion is a repetition of a previous depiction of Bezalel given by God to Moses. There (Exodus 31: 1- 5), the first person account lends a greater sense of intimacy to the relationship between Yhwh and Bezalel.  God declares to Moses (Exod. 31:2), “I have called, by name, Bezalel.” God “calls” someone “by name” in only two other verses in the Bible: when God proclaims God’s own name (in Exod. 33:19) and also when God “calls” Israel “by name” (Isa. 43:1). In each of these contexts, the phrase indicates a distinctive relationship with the individual (Bezalel) or the people (Israel) that God is calling.

The meaning of Bezalel ben Uri’s name –“In the shadow of El, the son of my light”–lends credence to the notion of a special relationship between God and Bezalel. Furthermore, Moses’/God’s declaration (Exod. 35:30/Exod. 31:2) that God has “filled” Bezalel with the “breath/wind/spirit of God” (ruach elohim) places this artisan in a select category of biblical personages upon whom the “spirit/breath/wind of God” comes, including, Joseph, Saul, Ezekiel and Daniel.[6]

The description in Vayakhel, when taken together with the meaning of the name Bezalel, suggests, as Mark S. Smith has written, “an unusual intimacy between God and this otherwise shadowy figure.”[7]

 

Explaining Bezalel’s Unique Abilities

 

Since the early centuries of the Common Era, commentators have noted Bezalel’s unique qualities and have raised questions as to his identity.  This is clearly reflected, for example, in the later exegetical collection of midrashic collection on the book of Exodus, Shemot Rabbah (40:2), describes Bezalel as having been chosen by God at the beginning of time.[8]

 

Removing the Supernatural Description

 

Perhaps out of concern that the superlative nature of the description in Exodus was motivating comparisons between Bezalel and Greco-Roman gods, Josephus, in his Antiquities (1st Century, CE), took pains to recast Bezalel’s commissioning by God and removes God’s calling (kara) of Bezalel:

“[Moses] appointed construction supervisors for the works…their names…were these: Basaelos, son of Ouri of the tribe of Ioudas, grandson of Mariamme the sister of the general and Elibazos, son of Isamachos, of the tribe of Dan (Antiquities 3.104-5).”[9]

Whereas in the Bible, God chooses the architects for the building, in the Antiquities (3.104) Moses selects the architects “in accordance with the instruction of God,” thereby transforming Bezalel from a uniquely gifted craftsman to a humanly chosen member of a team of architects.[10] Perhaps he did so out of concern that the superlative nature of the description in Exodus motivated comparisons between Bezalel and Greco-Roman gods.[11]

 

Bezalel the Master Sage

 

The medieval commentator, Abraham ibn Ezra (1089–1164) (Exod. 31:3), notes that Bezalel, had great skill, knew all sorts of hidden mysteries…and understood mathematics, biology, physics, and metaphysics far beyond anyone else of his generation.[12]

According to ibn Ezra, Bezalal was simply a master scholar.

 

Bezalel the Ancestor of Artisans

 

The Protestant 20th Century German scholar Martin Noth, in A History of Pentateuchal Traditions, explains the illustrious description of Bezalel by positing that Bezalel was an ancestor of a distinguished family living during the Second Temple Period.[13] Similarly, Ronald E. Clements suggests that Bezalel and Oholiab are ancestors of artisan guilds.[14]

 

The Israelite Kothar

 

Reading Exodus’ description of Bezalel from a somewhat more historical-critical orientation than that of his predecessors, the early Jewish 20th century scholar Umberto (Rabbi Moshe David) Cassuto, in his commentary to the Book of Exodus, emphasized the similarities between Bezalel’s attributes and descriptions of the Ugaritic, artisan deity Kothar-wa-Ḫasis. In the Ba(al and Anat cycle, Yamm (the god of the sea) commissions Kothar-wa-Ḫasis to build him a palace. When Ba(al and Anat defeat Yamm, however, Kothar-wa-Ḫasis ends up building the palace for Ba(al. Cassuto sees Bezalal as an alternative to Kothar-wa-Ḫasis, and he interprets the biblical material as a critique of Canaanite legends and polytheism.[15]

The parallels between Bezalel and Kothar wa-Ḫasis should not be taken lightly.  Scholars have observed striking similarities between the portrayal of Bezalel and the descriptions of this Ugaritic deity, which are found in the Ugaritic creation myth, the Ba(al and Anat Cycle.[16]  Like Bezalel, Kothar–wa-Ḫasis’s skill set encompasses all crafts and he, like, Bezalel, builds a house for a deity, the Canaanite god of creation, Ba(al – Hadad.

Additionally, epithets for Kothar-wa-Ḫasis are analogous to elements of the description of Bezalel.[17] The Ugaritic deity is known as the “Wise One” (ss) (corresponding to chochmah); Kothar wa-Hasis is called “the deft one” (Ugaritic: rš yd) a name that corresponds to Bezalel’s being able to carve or craft (cheresh) stone, wood, or metal.

….

[1] For the complete description of Bezalel in this week’s portion see Ex. 35:30 – 35.

[2] See Benno Jacob, The Second Book of the Bible: Exodus (trans. W.Jacob; Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1997), 842; and W. Propp, Exodus 19-40: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (The Anchor Bible; New York, Doubleday, 2006), 488.

[3] See Michael Carasik, Theologies of the Mind in Biblical Israel (New York: Peter Lang, 2006), p. 221.

[4] This orientation towards human thinking and creativity is summarized in the Priestly statement: “The Lord saw… how every plan devised by [man’s] mind nothing but evil all the time (Gen. 6:5).” For other examples of the Bible’s pejorative orientation towards human creativity, see Isa. 65:2; Jer. 4:14; Jer. 18:12; Psa. 94:11; and Prov. 19:21.

[5] See Exod. 35:34.

[6] firstshould be rewritten to match the text}}Other biblical characters who experience God’s ruach include: Joseph (Gen. 41:38), Balaam (Num. 24:2), Saul (1 Sam. 10:10; 11:6; 16:5), Ezekiel (Ezek. 11:24), Daniel (5:11,14) and Zechariah (2 Chron. 24:20).

[7] See M. Smith, Kothar wa-asis, the Ugaritic Craftsman God (Dissertation; Yale University, 1985), 100.

[8]  ומה עשה הקדוש ברוך הוא הביא לו ספרו של אדם הראשון והראה לו כל הדורות שהן עתידין לעמוד מבראשית עד תחיית המתים, דור ודור ומלכיו, דור ודור ומנהיגיו, דור ודור ונביאיו, אמר לו כל אחד ואחד התקנתיו מאותה שעה, וכן בצלאל מאותה שעה התקנתיו, הוי ראה קראתי בשם בצלאל.

[9] See Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary: Judean Antiquities 1–4, tr. L. Feldman, ed. S. Mason (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1999), 257–8.

[10] See Steven Fine, “‘See, I Have Called by the Renowned Name of Bezalel, Son of Uri…’: Josephus’ Portrayal of the Biblical ‘Architect’ ,”  In The Temple of Jerusalem: From Moses to the Messiah: in honor of Professor Louis H. Feldman, edited by Steven (Leiden: Brill, 2011), p. 29 – 30.

[11] See Fine, p. 30.

[12]  והנה בצלאל היה מלא כל חכמה בחשבון, ומדות, וערכים, ומלאכת שמים וחכמת התולדת, וסוד הנשמה. והיה לו יתרון על כל אנשי דורו,

[13] See Martin Noth, A History of Pentateuchal Traditions (trans. Bernhard W. Anderson; Englewood Cliffs: New Jersey, 1972), 188.,

[14] See Ronald E. Clements, Exodus: The Cambridge Bible Commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1972), 199.

[15] See Umberto Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Exodus (trans. I Abrahams; Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1974), 402.

[16] See KTU 1.1 III; KTU 1.2 IV; KTU 1.4 V-VIII.

[17] See Smith, Kothar wa-asis, 51-100.

….

Huram-Abi and Oholiab

Published January 15, 2017 by amaic

 Image result for oholiab and bezalel bezalel

by

Damien F. Mackey

 
 

Ray Dillard has suggested that the Chronicler presents King Solomon as the new Bezalel, builder of the Ark of the Covenant, and Huram-abi as Bezalel’s technical assistant, Oholiab.

 

 

The Temple of Yahweh built by King Solomon was modelled on the Tent, or Tabernacle, of Moses, and these were in turn modelled on the Garden of Eden. These were physical replica of God’s heavenly abode. See Dr. Ernest L. Martin’s “The Temple Symbolism in Genesis”: http://askelm.com/temple/t040301.htm

So it is not at all surprising to find that the account of the building of the Temple as recorded in 2 Chronicles would parallel, to some extent, the account of the designing of the Tent in the Book of Exodus.

Nor is it too surprising that Solomon and Huram-abi might be depicted as, respectively, a new Bezalel and a new Oholiab.

There is no need to do what Laura Knight-Jadczyk has done in her “Tribe of Dan” article (http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/biblianazar/esp_biblianazar_14d.htm), and attempt to merge into one what are clearly two different scenarios well separated in time.

She has written:

An analysis of the genealogies in the Bible is very illuminating. According to the book of Chronicles there is no genealogy for the tribe of Dan. It has been observed by numerous scholars that many of the names occurring in the genealogies themselves are either blatantly geographical or connected with place-names; while others are definitely personal names.[1] But the case of the Tribe of Dan is special, and holds a clue for us in this matter of the Temple and the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant. In II Chronicles 2:11-14 the D historian writes:
Then Hiram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon, Because the Lord hath loved his people, he has made you king over them. Hiram said moreover, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, that made heaven and earth, who has given to David the king a wise son, endued with prudence and understanding, who should build a house for the Lord, and a palace for his kingdom.

 

And now I have sent a skilled man, endued with understanding, even Huram-abi, my trusted counselor, the son of a woman of the daughters of DAN; his father was a man of Tyre. He is a trained worker in gold, silver, brass, iron, stone, and wood, in purple, blue, and crimson colors, and in fine linen; also to engrave any manner of engraving, and to carry out any design which shall be given to him, with your skilled men, and with the skilled men of my lord David your father.

The above is supposed to be a letter from Hiram of Tyre to Solomon, discussing the attributes of a particular man, the trusted counselor of the great Hiram, who is being sent to help the son of David as a great favor. This man is presented as a great designer and architect. He is named, and his mother is designated as being of the tribe of Dan. He is going to be the architect of the Temple of Solomon. In other words, he is the model for the archetypal “great architectHiram Abiff of Masonic lore.
So, what is the problem?
Look at this next excerpt from Exodus 31:1-7:

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise skilful works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in bronze, and in cutting of stones for setting, and in carving of wood, to work in all manner of craftsmanship.

 

And behold, I have appointed with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of DAN; and to all who are wise hearted I have given wisdom and ability to make all that I have commanded you: The tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furniture of the tent…

The above description of the command to build the Tent of Meeting and the Ark sounds almost identical to the purported letter from Hiram to Solomon, even including strong similarities in the names of the principal worker: Huram-abi of the tribe of Dan has become Hur of the tribe of Judah:

And Bezalel the son Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses. And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan an engraver, and a skillful craftsman, and an embroiderer in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and fine linen.

The next problem arises when we find in I Kings, chapter 7:13-21, the following most confusing information about Hiram:

And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and skill to work all works in brass.

And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work. For he cast two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high apiece: and a line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about. And he made two chapiters of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars: the height of the one chapiter was five cubits, and the height of the other chapiter was five cubits: And nets of checker work, and wreaths of chain work, for the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars; seven for the one chapiter, and seven for the other chapiter.

And he made the pillars, and two rows round about upon the one network, to cover the chapiters that were upon the top, with pomegranates: and so did he for the other chapiter. And the chapiters that were upon the top of the pillars were of lily work in the porch, four cubits. And the chapiters upon the two pillars had pomegranates also above, over against the belly which was by the network: and the pomegranates were two hundred in rows round about upon the other chapiter. And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz.

We see without too much difficulty that these passages are taken from the same source, though one refers to the building of a Temple and the other refers to the construction of a tent and an ark. One of the problems is, of course, that according to the Bible, the two events are separated by a very long period of time. We also note the curious name similarities between Huram-abi of the passage in II Chronicles, and Hur, the father of Bezalel, connected to Aholiab of the tribe of Dan.

 

Knight-Jadczyk does not help her thesis by trying to connect two different names, as follows:

 

Also curious is the name of Bezalel, which is so similar to Jezebel, who we have tentatively identified as the Phoenician princess, daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre. More curious still is the claim of the Dan inscription that, in the destruction of the City of Dan, the House of David was destroyed. What was the connection of the Tribe of Dan to the House of the Beloved? Were they, as it seems from these clues, one and the same?

 

Bezalel (בְּצַלְאֵל) means “under the protection of God”, whereas Jezebel (אִיזֶבֶל), of dubious meaning, may be “unexalted”, “un-husbanded” (hardly seems appropriate, though).

For another view of Jezebel, however, see my:

 

Is El Amarna’s “Baalat Neše” Biblically Identifiable?

http://www.academia.edu/26077125/Is_El_Amarna_s_Baalat_Ne%C5%A1e_Biblically_Identifiable

 

Ray Dillard more sensibly, I think, has, whilst appreciating the parallels between the Exodus and Chronicles accounts, understood that the latter was modelling itself upon the earlier one (http://revmarple.com/chronicle-s-solomon/):

 

…. The third model is Solomon and Huram-abi as the new Bezalel and Oholiab.  Bezalel and Oholiab come from the story of the tabernacle, which I have noted before that the tabernacle story is a paradigm for the Chronicler’s Temple story in several ways.  Solomon is the new Bezalel as can be seen by the way both were singled out as chosen by God by name, both were of the tribe of Judah, and both get wisdom from God for this work (tabernacle/Temple construction).  Bezalel is only mentioned outside of Exodus in Chronicles – 1 Chron 2:20 and 2 Chron 1:5.  Indeed, Solomon goes seeking God at the altar built by Bezalel when he was given wisdom for building.  Of course, Kings told us about Solomon’s legendary wisdom in general, but Chronicles is very specific that it was wisdom for this task.  Thus Hiram does not praise God for giving David “a wise son over this great people” (1 Kings 5) but ”a wise son who will build” (2 Chron 2).

Huram-abi is also styled as the new Oholiab.  Chronicles does this by making three changes – as Dillard says, “arrival time, skill inventory, and ancestry.”  Kings only tells us about Huram-abi after the temple and palace were finished and Huram-abi only appears to cast bronze. Chronicles tells us that Huram-abi was involved from the beginning (like Oholiab) and that he did more than just cast bronze – in fact, he is given the skill inventory of Bezalel and Oholiab in Chronicles.  Moreover, Kings tells us that his mother was a widow from Naphtali but Chronicles says she was a widow from Dan (like Oholiab).

 

Zimri-lim’s Mari Palace and King Solomon

Published January 13, 2017 by amaic

 untitled

 

by

Damien F. Mackey  

 

 

The Mari palace of Zimri-Lim, biblical “Rezon” and some time foe of King Solomon,

may show evidence of Genesis (Garden of Eden) and Solomonic (Temple) imagery.

 

 

If Hammurabi were, as the biblical artisan, Huram-abi, involved in the technical enhancement of Solomon’s architecture, then we might expect that the contemporary palace of Mari, belonging to Zimri-Lim (see my):

 

Hammurabi and Zimri-Lim as Contemporaries of Solomon

https://www.academia.edu/18306131/Hammurabi_and_Zimri-Lim_as_Contemporaries_of_Solomon

 

would exhibit some degree of Solomonic influence. Accordingly, one will read at: http://publications.mi.byu.edu/publications/studies/4/S00001-507d876e576a3Bradshaw.pdf

 

A number of scholars have found parallels in the layout of the trees in the Garden of Eden and certain features of Israelite sanctuaries.75 Significantly, the holiest places within the temples of Solomon and of Ezekiel’s vision were decorated with palms.76 Indeed, the holy of holies in Solomon’s temple contained not only one but many palm trees and pillars, which Terje Stordalen says can represent “a kind of stylised forest.” 77 The angels on its walls may have represented God’s heavenly council,78 mirrored on earth by those who have attained “angelic” status through the rites of inves­titure. Such an interpretation recalls the statues of gods mingling with divinized kings in the innermost sanctuary of the Mari pal­ace.79

 

And again at: http://cojs.org/jerusalem_as_eden-_lawrence_e-_stager-_bar_26-03-_may-jun_2000/

 

On the mountain of Yahweh, Mt. Zion,a the indissoluble triad of creation, kingship and Temple find their most profound visual and literary expression. Nowhere in ancient Near Eastern art is this triad more brilliantly illustrated than in the wall paintings of the Old Babylonian palace at Mari, built almost a millennium before [sic] Solomon’s palace and Temple in Jerusalem. In the palace at Mari, located on the banks of the Euphrates, in modern Syria, a large, sunlit courtyard decorated with wall paintings led into a vestibule in front of the king’s throne room. The courtyard enclosed a garden of live potted palm trees. According to one scholar, a tall, ornamental but artificial palm tree stood in the middle of the garden (compare the location of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden). This artificial tree had a wooden core and was plated with bronze and silver leaf.4 At eye level, just to the right of the doorway leading from the courtyard to the vestibule of the throne room, a large wall painting portrayed the relationship of divinity, royalty and creation. Luxuriant orchards and fantastic creatures surround the building in which the investiture of the king is taking place. In the upper register of the central panel, the goddess Ishtar as warrior, with weapons strapped to her shoulders, scimitar in one hand and “the ring and the rod” in the other, presents the emblems of authority to the king. Ishtar rests one foot on a recumbent lion, her emblem. Three other deities witness the ceremony. In the register below, two lesser goddesses hold vases from which four streams of water flow and vegetation sprouts. The setting for the ceremony is a paradise garden with date palms and stylized papyrus stalks. Guarding the garden and the palace are winged sphinxes, griffins and bulls. At the outer edges of the scene, two goddesses of high rank stand with upraised arms—a gesture of protection for all within the garden precincts.

[End of quotes]

 

I would suggest that the above would be only the tip of the iceberg of potential similarities between the religious imagery of the Mari era (revised) and that of the Solomonic era.

Huram-Abi and Hammurabi

Published January 13, 2017 by amaic
Hiram Abiff with Jachin & Boaz

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

Explores the possibility that the biblical Huram-abi was King Hammurabi.

 

Abrahamic Connection

Hammurabi’s possible Amorite ancestry, tracing back to Abraham, might account for why we have been finding that the great king had been so influenced by Hebrew Law and protocol.

Herb Storck has shown, in an important article “The Early Assyrian King List … and the ‘Greater Amorite’ Tradition” (Proc. of the 3rd Seminar of Catastrophism & Ancient History, C & AH Press, Toronto, 1986, p. 43), that there is a genealogical link among:

(i) Abraham;

(ii) the genealogy of king Hammurabi; and

(iii) the Assyrian King List.

Storck commences his article with the following explanation:

The Assyrian Kinglist (AKL) is one of the most important chronographic texts ever uncovered. Initially it was thought to represent a long unbroken tradition of rulership over Assyria. A closer look at the AKL by Benno Landsberger (1890-1968) … however, dispelled this somewhat facile approach to AKL tradition. Subsequent studies by Kraus … and Finkelstein … have demonstrated a common underlying Amorite tradition between parts of the AKL and the Genealogy of Hammurapi (GHD). Portions of this section of the AKL containing 17 tent-dwelling kings have also been compared to biblical … and Ugaritic … Amorite traditions.

Storck’s purpose will be “to take a closer look at the 17 Assyrian tent dwellers and the greater Amorite tradition, as evidenced primarily in the genealogy of the Hammurapi [Hammurabi] Dynasty and other minor traditions”. The names of all 17 tent-dwelling kings are preserved in various lists. What is striking is that many of these names can be linked with names in the GHD, which gives the names in couplet form. Thus, for example, names 3 and 4, Janqi (Janqu) and Sahlamu are given in GHD as Ya-am-qu-us-ha-lam-ma. Name 11, Zuabu, may be connected with Sumuabi, an ancestor of Hammurabi. Thus Storck:

Poebel sought to connect the name with Su-mu-a-bi, the name of the first king of the first dynasty of Babylon, even though in our list it is written with the sign ZU. …. Kraus, however, expressed his personal doubts as to whether this would work …. But in a recently published fragment of this portion of the AKL (E) this name was indeed written with an initial SU for ZU, thus supporting Poebel’s contention somewhat. “Nevertheless, the genealogy edited by J.J. Finkelstein has Zu-um-ma-bu in the apparently parallel line, hinting that the reverse may be the case. The presence of ma as restored eases the interpretation of the name Sumu-abu” ….

Storck concluded the first part of his study by claiming that: “Nine of the 17 tent-dwelling AKL kings can reasonably be identified with GHD ancestors of Hammurapi. This would appear to be sufficient to establish that these two genealogies drew upon a common ‘Amorite’ tradition”.

That there was still that nomadic inclination within the kings of the Hammurabic era may perhaps be gleaned from the fact that Shamsi-Adad I of that time had no really fixed capital, but moved from place to place.

And we have found that Iarim-Lim (Hiram), though stationed in the west, had a political reach that extended all the way to Elam.

Who Was Hammurabi?

Who, then, was this Hammurabi, likely a non-indigenous ruler of Babylon, of Amorite, or northern Canaanite background, who had deepy absorbed Hebrew traditions and culture, and who was contemporaneous with the biblical King Hiram (Iarim-Lim) and, hence, with David and Solomon of Israel?

The most likely candidate for Hammurabi, I now think, would be that famous biblical artisan of very similar name, Huram-abi (Hiram-abi) – the fabled Hiram Abiff of the Freemasons – who was probably somewhat younger than King David, but older than King Solomon.

King Hiram had told Solomon (2 Chronicles 2:13-14):

‘I am sending you Huram-Abi, a man of great skill, whose mother was from Dan and whose father was from Tyre. He is trained to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, and with purple and blue and crimson yarn and fine linen. He is experienced in all kinds of engraving and can execute any design given to him. He will work with your skilled workers and with those of my lord, David your father’.

From I Kings 7:13, it appears that Huram-abi was located in Tyre at the time: “King Solomon sent to Tyre and brought Huram …”. Tyre would, of course, be a geographical problem obstructing an identification of Huram-abi with Hammurabi the king of Babylon.

Could he have become king of Babylon later? That is only surmise. But also see comments above re Shamsi-Adad I’s nomadic tendencies and Iarim-Lim’s power. Plus, our knowledge of Hammurabi’s Babylon is seriously disadvantaged by the high water table in Babylon at that archaeological level, preventing excavation.

I Kings 7:14 gives a variation on 2 Chronicles’ account of Huram-abi’s mother, “from Dan”, by telling us that his “mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali”.

That Huram-abi was a man with the technical skills necessary to assist King Solomon is abundantly apparent from the continuing narrative of I Kings 14:14-50:

Huram was filled with wisdom, with understanding and with knowledge to do all kinds of bronze work. He came to King Solomon and did all the work assigned to him.

He cast two bronze pillars, each eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits in circumference. He also made two capitals of cast bronze to set on the tops of the pillars; each capital was five cubits high. A network of interwoven chains adorned the capitals on top of the pillars, seven for each capital. He made pomegranates in two rows encircling each network to decorate the capitals on top of the pillars. He did the same for each capital. The capitals on top of the pillars in the portico were in the shape of lilies, four cubits high. On the capitals of both pillars, above the bowl-shaped part next to the network, were the two hundred pomegranates in rows all around. He erected the pillars at the portico of the Temple. The pillar to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz. The capitals on top were in the shape of lilies. And so the work on the pillars was completed.

He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. Below the rim, gourds encircled it—ten to a cubit. The gourds were cast in two rows in one piece with the Sea.

The Sea stood on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east. The Sea rested on top of them, and their hindquarters were toward the center. It was a handbreadth in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It held two thousand baths.

He also made ten movable stands of bronze; each was four cubits long, four wide and three high. This is how the stands were made: They had side panels attached to uprights. On the panels between the uprights were lions, bulls and cherubim—and on the uprights as well. Above and below the lions and bulls were wreaths of hammered work. Each stand had four bronze wheels with bronze axles, and each had a basin resting on four supports, cast with wreaths on each side. On the inside of the stand there was an opening that had a circular frame one cubit deep. This opening was round, and with its basework it measured a cubit and a half. Around its opening there was engraving. The panels of the stands were square, not round. The four wheels were under the panels, and the axles of the wheels were attached to the stand. The diameter of each wheel was a cubit and a half. The wheels were made like chariot wheels; the axles, rims, spokes and hubs were all of cast metal. Each stand had four handles, one on each corner, projecting from the stand. At the top of the stand there was a circular band half a cubit deep. The supports and panels were attached to the top of the stand. He engraved cherubim, lions and palm trees on the surfaces of the supports and on the panels, in every available space, with wreaths all around. This is the way he made the ten stands. They were all cast in the same molds and were identical in size and shape.

He then made ten bronze basins, each holding forty baths and measuring four cubits across, one basin to go on each of the ten stands. He placed five of the stands on the south side of the Temple and five on the north. He placed the Sea on the south side, at the southeast corner of the Temple. He also made the pots and shovels and sprinkling bowls.

So Huram finished all the work he had undertaken for King Solomon in the Temple of the Lord:

the two pillars;

the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;

the two sets of network decorating the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;

the four hundred pomegranates for the two sets of network (two rows of pomegranates for each network decorating the bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars);

the ten stands with their ten basins;

the Sea and the twelve bulls under it;

the pots, shovels and sprinkling bowls.

All these objects that Huram made for King Solomon for the Temple of the Lord were of burnished bronze. The king had them cast in clay molds in the plain of the Jordan between Sukkoth and Zarethan. Solomon left all these things unweighed, because there were so many; the weight of the bronze was not determined.

Solomon also made all the furnishings that were in the Lord’s Temple:

the golden altar;

the golden table on which was the bread of the Presence;

the lampstands of pure gold (five on the right and five on the left, in front of the inner sanctuary);

the gold floral work and lamps and tongs;

the pure gold basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and censers;

and the gold sockets for the doors of the innermost room, the Most Holy Place, and also for the doors of the main hall of the Temple.

If Hammurabi were Huram-abi, then it would be no wonder that he dealt in bonze and that he favoured artisans and craftsmen, and that he imported his wood from Lebanon (http://www.fsmitha.com/h1/ch03-ham.htm):

Babylon was a city where trade routes crossed. Under Hammurabi it became a bronze-age city of commerce and agriculture. It was a city with skilled artisans, architects, bricklayers and businessmen, with an efficient secular administration and a chain of command. The city was at the hub of an intricate network of canals. It was surrounded by great fields of barley, melons, fruit trees and the wheat the Babylonians used in making unleavened, pancake-like bread. From their barley, the Babylonians made beer. They sheared wool from their flocks of sheep. And they imported wood from Lebanon and metals from Persia.

 

Hammurabi was a king of artisans: (https://prezi.com/uuaatljvjity/ancient-mesopotamia/): “Hammurabi had artisans carve almost 300 laws into a stone stele. This writing is now known as Hammurabi’s code”, with rules for artisans:

  1. If an artisan take a son for adoption and teach him his handicraft, one may not bring claim for him.
  1. If he do not teach him his handicraft, that adopted son may return to his father’s house.
  1. If a man hire an artisan, the wage of a … is 5 SE of silver; the wage of a brickmaker (?) is 5 SE of silver; the wage of a tailor is 5 SE of silver; the wage of a … is … SE of silver; the wage of a … is … SE of silver; the wage of a … is … SE of silver; the wage of a carpenter is 4 SE of silver; the wage of a (?) is 4 SE of silver; the wage of a (?) is … SE of silver; the wage of a mason is … SE of silver; so much per day shall he pay.

According to: http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/txt/ah/Assyria/Hammurabi.html “craftsmen” (artisans) occupied the highest class in Babylon:

The Code contemplates the whole population as falling into three classes, the amelu, the muskinu and the ardu. The amelu was a patrician, the man of family, whose birth, marriage and death were registered, of ancestral estates and full civil rights. He had aristocratic privileges and responsibilities, the right to exact retaliation for corporal injuries, and liability to heavier punishment for crimes and misdemeanours, higher fees and fines to pay. To this class belonged the king and court, the higher officials, the professions and craftsmen.

  1. van de Mieroop (The Ancient Mesopotamian City, p. 179) writes of ‘most craftsmen being employed by palaces and temples’ (reminiscent of the case of Solomon and Huram-abi):

 

The specialized class of artisans needed to be exempt from the tasks of primary food production, and this was only possible in an urban economy. It is clear that craft specialization took place in the early stages of the development of urban society, and that the sustainable size of the class of craftsmen was directly related to the size of the urban economy. It is often stated in current literature that, at least until the late second millennium Bc [sic], most craftsmen were employed by the central institutions of palace and temples, as only these rich organizations were able to support them ….

Nathanael and Stephen

Published January 10, 2017 by amaic

Saint Stephen Protomartyr

St. Stephen a true Israelite

 by

Damien F. Mackey

 

Stephen of the New Testament’s Book of Acts is tentatively identified here with Nathanael of Cana who appears in the Gospel of John.

 

 

Introduction

 

Achior, a leading player in the Book of Judith, was not, as I argued in my article:

 

Achior the Ephraïmite

https://www.academia.edu/30750723/Achior_the_Ephra%C3%AFmite

 

a pagan Ammonite, as he is generally thought to have been, but was none other than Ahikar (Vulgate “Achior”) of the Book of Tobit – the very nephew of Tobit, of the tribe of Naphtali.

Achior was thus a northern Israelite, an Ephraïmite.

St. Stephen, for his part, is typically taken to have been a Greek-speaking Jew, a Hellenist. And so we read for instance at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Stephen

 

The name Stephen is Greek, and Acts 6 tells us that he was a Hellenist; that is, a foreign-born Jew who spoke Greek. He lived in Jerusalem and had become a Christian. The Hellenists, who probably formed a minority in the Christian community, complained that the care of their elderly widows was neglected. The apostles presented the matter to the congregation and, pleading the press of responsibilities, instructed it to select seven deacons for this community service. They were chosen and ordained, and Stephen, who became the best known of the seven, was recognized as a man with special gifts as an evangelist. He engaged in religious discussions among the adherents of synagogues of Diaspora Jews in the capital. Growth in the number of Jewish converts, including “many of the priests,” provoked a reaction; he was summoned before the Sanhedrin, the supreme rabbinic court in Jerusalem, and charged with speaking against “this holy place and the law.” The charge is very general; the report of his defense before the Sanhedrin is the primary resource for learning what Stephen stood for.

[End of quote]

 

Whilst “Stephen” (Steven) is indeed a Greek name, from Στέφανος (Stéphanos), meaning “wreath, crown, honour”, Acts 6 does not specifically tell us that Stephen “was a Hellenist”. It merely says that (v. 6): “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraïc Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food”.

The apostolic solution to this problem (vv. 2-4):

 

So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word’.

 

Stephen appears to have been the foremost amongst the subsequently chosen “seven men” (vv. 5-6):

 

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

 

Was he the oldest? According to Orthodox belief, Stephen was indeed the oldest of these seven and was therefore called “archdeacon”.

The Book of Acts is our only primary source for information about Stephen, qua Stephen.

 

Jews with Greco-Roman Names

 

From a reading through of this New Testament book, Acts, one will find that most of the names it contains are Greco-Roman.

Paul appears therein as both “Paul” and “Saul”; Simon Peter, as “Peter”.

EWTN’s article on St. Stephen (https://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/STEPMART.HTM) is adamant, however, that he “was a Jew”:

 

ST STEPHEN, THE FIRST MARTYR
Feast: December 26
[See Acts vi. vii., and Tillemont,, t.. ii. p.. I, Cave, &c.]

 

That St. Stephen was a Jew is unquestionable, himself owning that relation in his apology to the people. But whether he was of Hebrew extraction and descended of the stock of Abraham, or whether he was of foreign parents incorporated and brought into that nation by the gate of proselytism, is uncertain. ….

[End of quote]

 

In Acts 18, Paul will meet a Jew with the Roman name of Aquila (“Eagle”).

Vv. 1-2: “After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them …”.

Just as Achior’s detailed account of the history of Israel – which I provided in full in the above article, “Achior the Ephraïmite” – would most unlikely have arisen from a pagan Ammonite, so, too, would I agree with EWTN that St. Stephen’s “apology” would identify him as “a Jew” (though possibly hailing, like Achior, from northern Israel).

Achior’s speech often gets compared to Stephen’s. For example, Robert Hall has written (Revealed Histories: Techniques for Ancient Jewish and Christian Historiography, p. 28):

 

…. Achior the Ammonite [sic] makes just such a speech before Holofernes in Judith 5.5-21, and Holofernes rebukes him for prophesying on behalf of the Israelites (Jud. 6.2). …. Stephen, a man full of wisdom and the Spirit (Acts 6.10), makes just such a speech in Acts 7.

 

Here is Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin in full (Acts 7:1-53):

 

Then the high priest asked Stephen, ‘Are these charges true?’

 

To this he replied: Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Harran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. God spoke to him in this way: ‘For four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’ Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs. Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.

Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our ancestors could not find food. When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our forefathers on their first visit. On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all. Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our ancestors died. Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.

As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased. Then ‘a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.’ He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our ancestors by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.

At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for by his family. When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.

When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’

But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.

After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to get a closer look, he heard the Lord say: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.

Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.’

This is the same Moses they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. He led them out of Egypt and performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the wilderness.

This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.’ He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us.

But our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’ That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and reveled in what their own hands had made. But God turned away from them and gave them over to the worship of the sun, moon and stars. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets:

 

‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel? You have taken up the tabernacle of Molek and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship.

Therefore I will send you into exile’ beyond Babylon.

 

Our ancestors had the tabernacle of the covenant law with them in the wilderness. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. After receiving the tabernacle, our ancestors under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him.

However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:

 

‘Heaven is my throne,

and the earth is my footstool.

What kind of House will you build for me?

says the Lord.

Or where will my resting place be?

Has not my hand made all these things?’

 

You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him — you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.

 

 

Did St. Stephen also

have a Hebrew name?

 

 

Introduction

 

Nathanael of Cana is commonly thought to have been the same as the Apostle Bartholomew – a view also with some Church tradition in support of it. Indeed, the Gospel account of the call of Nathanael (John 1:45-51) is customarily read on the feast of St. Bartholomew.

St. Augustine, however, did not share this view. In his seventh tractate on St. John’s Gospel, Augustine argues against Nathanael’s bring Bartholomew. (And, from memory, one of the popes Gregory also rejected the view that Nathanael was Bartholomew).

To the question:

 

Are Bartholomew and Nathanael the same?

 

As posed at: http://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/23458/are-bartholomew-and-nathanael-the-same we are given the following pros and cons:

 

Popular thought on the subject agree that Bartholomew and Nathanael are the same person. While there is no passage in the Bible that directly says “Bartholomew is Nathanael,” circumstantial evidence points in that direction. Arguments can be made either way; church tradition points toward them being one and the same.

 

Arguments for:

 

First, regarding the names themselves. Bartholomew seems like a family name or last name. In Hebrew, the name would be Bar-Tholmai, or Son of Tholmai. Nathanael seems like a first name, meaning Gift of God.

 

Second, Bartholomew and Nathanael seem to be mutually exclusive. Bartholomew makes appearances in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts. Each reference is in a list of the 12 Disciples. Nathanael makes appearances in the book of John, which has no formal list of the 12 Disciples. In John chapter 21, Nathanael is included in a list of disciples (John 21:2 “There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.”) In John, Nathanael does what one of the 12 Disciples might be expected to do: he goes fishing with some of the others in the 12 Disciples.

 

Third, there is a relationship between Philip and Bartholomew in the lists of disciples in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts. There is also a relationship between Philip and Nathanael in John (Nathanael is the friend Philip brings to Jesus when Philip first learns of Him).

 

Arguments against:

 

First, Bartholomew is a perfectly reasonable first name. It has been used many times since.

 

Second, Nathanael is never listed in a formal list of the 12 Disciples. Certainly, there were many disciples of Jesus who are not included in the 12 Disciples. This was one of the requirements to be considered for Judas’ replacement in the 12 Disciples after Judas betrayed Jesus.

 

Third, the link between Philip and Bartholomew in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts is hardly strong — their names are simply grouped together. Even if the link were strong, it’s not as if Philip cannot have two good friends. ….

[End of quote]

 

John’s Account of Nathanael

 

We read in John 1:43-51:

 

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me’. Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph’. ‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked.

‘Come and see’, said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, ‘Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit’. ‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you’. Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel’.

Jesus said, ‘You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that’. He then added, ‘Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man’.

 

This last verse (v. 51): ‘Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man’, is what has triggered in my mind the possibility that Nathanael, promised this Jacob-like vision with a Divine certainty (‘Very truly I tell you’), was the same as Stephen ‘Protomartyr’, who would receive this very vision as he was dying (Acts 7:55-56): “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look’, he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’.”

If this deduction is correct, then Stephen’s Hebrew name was Nathanael (Nathaniel), meaning “God has given”.

This Nathanael was, geographically speaking at least, a northern Israelite, from Cana in Galilee (John 21:2), Cana being situated some 13.5 km. from Nazareth where Jesus had grown up.

Both Cana and Nazareth lay in the territory of Zebulun.

It would appear from the narrative in John 1 (above), however, that Nathanael – who would have been a disciple of John the Baptist – was, up to that point in time, little aware of his Galilean ‘neighbour’, Jesus.

 

 

Progression from Nathanael to Stephen

 

 

John the Baptist might well remind one of David’s bosom friend, Jonathan, who, despite his greatness, was prepared to accept David as the truly anointed king of Israel.

The Baptist, who had accumulated many disciples, knew that he was merely preparing the way for the true King of Israel, Jesus: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’.

 

(John 3:30)

 

 

Introduction

 

Isaac’s question: ‘But where is the lamb?’ (Genesis 22:7) resounded down through the centuries until it was taken up by John the Baptist when he “saw Jesus coming towards him” (John 1:29): ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’

John the Baptist is the head of the Old Testament.

Greater than all of his predecessors (Luke 7:28): ‘I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John’, he was foretold by the prophet Malachi as the new Elijah (4:5-6): “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” An angel told John’s father, Zechariah, that his son would be a new Elijah (Luke 1:17): ‘And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord’.

But he was not the actual Elijah having returned.

Nor was he the Messiah. All of this John made abundantly clear when he was questioned as to his identity by the priests and Levites (John 1:19-27):

 

Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah’.

They asked him, ‘Then who are you? Are you Elijah?’

He said, ‘I am not’.

‘Are you the Prophet?’

He answered, ‘No’.

Finally they said, ‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord’.’

Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, ‘Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’

‘I baptize with water’, John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie’.

 

So John’s mission was entirely to prepare the way for the One who was to come, and who had indeed now come. Far from being jealous, John the Baptist – just like Jonathan the son of Saul (I Samuel 18:1): “… the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” – rejoiced in his friend’s office of Chosen One.

 

John 3:26-29:

They came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him’. To this John replied, ‘A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete’.

 

 

Disciples of the Baptist

 

Formerly disciples of John the Baptist, many of those who would become Apostles and disciples of Jesus, including Nathanael of Cana, were steered in the direction of Jesus by the Baptist himself.

John knew that that was his designated task on earth (John 1:30-34):

 

‘This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me’.  I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel’. Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit’. I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One’.

 

Nathanael of Cana was amongst those former disciples of John the Baptist, those who hailed from the region of Galilee. Yet he apparently, too, like John the Baptist, “did not know him”. Two disciples who were with John when he had proclaimed: ‘Behold! The Lamb of God!” immediately left John and followed after Jesus. Here is the account of it in John 1:37-46, including the scriptural introduction of Nathanael:

 

When the two disciples heard [John] say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’

They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means “Teacher”), ‘where are you staying?’

‘Come’, he replied, ‘and you will see’.

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas’ (which, when translated, is Peter).

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me’.

Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.  Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph’.

‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked.

‘Come and see’, said Philip.

 

This already tells us something about Nathanael, apart from his prejudice towards the town of Nazareth. He must have been one whom Philip knew to have been a searcher of the Scriptures, a student of Moses and the prophets, striving to ascertain the identity of the One to whom they were all pointing.

No doubt John the Baptist had helped to school Nathanael in his quest for the truth.

 

The Baptist’s rôle was now finished, his joy complete.

The Old Testament was also complete. And so it was only fitting, symbolically speaking, that John the Baptist, the head of the Old Testament, should now be beheaded.

 

 

 

 

A disciple of Jesus Christ

 

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, ‘Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit’.

‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you’.

Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel’.

 

John 1:47-49

 

Introduction

 

Why would the fact that Jesus had seen Nathanael under a fig tree prompt the latter to make so bold a statement of faith: ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel’ [?]

Surely Nathanael’s positive response was due in large part to the fact that John the Baptist, whom the likes of Philip and Nathanael had been following (refer back to Part Three (a)), had recently identified Jesus as the “Lamb of God”, the ‘One who was to come and who would take away the sins of the world’.

And there were probably other reasons as well, pertaining to the significance of the fig tree.

 

The Fig Tree

 

The fig tree is highly meaningful in the Scriptures, beginning with Adam and Eve, and Jesus’s seemingly strange cursing of the barren fig tree at a later date is actually loaded with symbolical import in relation to the Garden of Eden and the Fall.

On this, see my:

 

Jesus Curses the Barren Fig Tree

 

https://www.academia.edu/27607974/Jesus_Curses_the_Barren_Fig_Tree

 

which is heavily based upon the insights of Dr. Ernest L. Martin.

Jesus identifies Nathanael firstly as “an Israelite”, and secondly as one “in whom there is no deceit”, or guile.

The serpent in the Garden was, by comparison, full of guile or deceit. He was utterly “crafty” (Heb. עָרוּם).

Some commentators have suggested that Jesus regarded Nathanael as a new Jacob (or Israel), by way of contrast with his wayward brother, Esau. A Jacob connection seems to be intended by the ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ imagery of John 1:50-51: “‘You will see greater things than that’. He then added, ‘Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man’.”

Others point to Jacob’s own deceptions and craftiness, and refer in this regard to Jeremiah 9:3’s apparently unfavourable estimation of the patriarch.

Nathanael, on the other hand, is without deceit or guile. He is what an Israelite ought to be. He is “truly an Israelite”.

Likewise, Achior (or Ahikar) – with whom I am making some comparisons with Nathanael (Stephen) in this series – praised by his uncle Tobit for his almsgiving (“Ahikar escaped the deadly trap which Nadin had set for him, because Ahikar had given generously to the poor”: Tobit 14:10), will promise to give “Holofernes” a truthful report (Judith 5:5): ‘Sir, if you will please be so kind as to listen to me, I will tell you the truth about these people who live in the mountains near your camp. I will not lie to you’.

Later, Stephen (Nathanael) will be identified as “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5).

What was Nathanael actually doing under that fig tree, perhaps in his own home, when Jesus had first spotted him?

We are not told.

The following flowery estimation by C. H. Spurgeon may not be too far from the mark:

https://answersingenesis.org/education/spurgeon-sermons/921-nathanael-and-the-fig-tree/

 

  1. Nathanael and the Fig Tree

by C. H. Spurgeon on December 16, 2011

 

…. We are told that he was a guileless man, “an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile,” that is to say, like Jacob, “he was a plain man,” and not like Esau, “a cunning hunter.” Some minds are naturally serpentine, tortuous, (b) and slippery; they can only think in curves; their motives are involved and intricate, and they are of a double heart. These are the men who look one way and row the other; they worship the god Janus with two faces …. They cannot speak a thing plainly or look you in the face while they talk, for they are full of mental reservations and prudent cautions. They guard their speech; they dare not send abroad their own thoughts until they have mailed them with armour up to the throat with double meanings. Nathanael was just the very opposite of all this, he was no hypocrite and no crafty deceiver. He wore his heart upon his sleeve; if he spoke, you might know that he said what he meant and that he meant what he said. He was a childlike, simple hearted man, transparent as glass. He was not one of those fools who believe everything, but on the other hand, he was not of that other type of fools so much admired in these days, who will believe nothing, but who find it necessary to doubt the most self-evident truth in order to maintain their credit for profound philosophy. These “thinkers” of this enlightened age are great at quibbles, mighty in feigning or feeling mistrust concerning matters which common sense has no doubts about. They will profess to doubt whether there is a God, though that is as plain as the sun at noonday. No, Nathanael was neither credulous nor mistrustful; he was honestly ready to yield to the force of truth; he was willing to receive testimony and to be swayed by evidence. He was not suspicious, because he was not a man who himself would be suspected; he was true hearted and straightforward; a plain dealer and plain speaker. Cana did not have within her gates a more thoroughly honest man. Philip seems to have known this, for he went to him directly, concerning a man who was likely to be convinced and worth winning to the good cause.

 

  1. In addition to being thus a simple hearted man, Nathanael was an earnest seeker. Philip found him because he felt that the good news would interest him. “We have found the Messiah,” would be no glad news to anyone who had not looked for the Messiah; but Nathanael had been expecting the Christ, and perhaps had so well understood Moses and the prophets, that he had been led to look for his speedy coming. The time when the Messiah would suddenly come in his temple had certainly arrived, and he was day and night with prayer, like all the faithful of the twelve tribes, watching and waiting for the appearing of their salvation. He had not as yet heard that the glory of Israel had indeed come, but he was on the tiptoe of expectation. What a hopeful state of heart is yours, my dear hearer, if you are now honestly desirous to know the truth, and intensely anxious to be saved by it! It is well indeed for you if your soul is ready, like the photographer’s sensitive plate, to receive the impression of the divine light, if you are anxiously desiring to be informed if there is indeed a Saviour, if there is a gospel, if there is hope for you, if there is such a thing as purity and a way to reach it; it is well, I say, if you are anxiously, earnestly desiring to know how and when and where, and determinately resolved, by God’s grace, that no exertion shall be spared on your part to run in the way that shall be marked out, and to submit yourself to the will of God. This was the state of Nathanael, an honest hearted lover of plain truth, seeking to find the Christ.

 

  1. It is also true that he was ignorant up to a certain point. He was not ignorant of Moses and the prophets, these he had well considered, but he did not know that Christ had come as yet. There was considerable distance between Nazareth and Cana, and the news of the Messiah’s coming had not travelled there; if it had been bad news, it would have flown on eagles’ wings, but being good news, its flight was slower, for few people are so anxious to tell the good as much as the evil. He had not therefore heard of Jesus of Nazareth until Philip came to him. And how many there are even in this country who still do not know what the gospel means, but are anxious to know it, and if they only knew it would receive it! ….

[End of quote]

 

If Nathanael had been praying and/or searching the Scriptures under the fig tree – perhaps even teaching there as the great Deborah had formerly done under a tree (Judges 4:5) – specifically in order to know about the Messiah, then Jesus’s reference to the fig tree would have had further significance for him.

 

Marriage Feast at Cana

 

Immediately after the account of the call of Nathanael, who was from Cana, John the Evangelist proceeds to tell (3:1): “On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee”. Undoubtedly Nathanael, who had just proclaimed his belief in Jesus as “the Son of God”, would have been amongst those “disciples” said to be attending that wedding (vv. 1, 2): “Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding”.

 

For a wonderful explanation of this famous New Testament event according to a Marian context, see Rev. Stephen Hartdegen (OFM)’s Marian Significance of Cana (John 2: 1-11): http://ecommons.udayton.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2513&context=marian_studies

 

This, Jesus Christ’s first miracle of nature, famously turning the water into wine, would only have served to have strengthen the belief in Him of Nathanael and the other disciples (John 2:11): “What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him”.

And that “first of the signs” was given in Nathanael’s own home town of Cana.

 

His Martyrdom

 

Nathanael, having witnessed the many “signs” worked by Jesus, would later, as Stephen, perform his own marvels (Acts 6:8): “Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people”.

And, as it was with Jesus, the authorities, instead of recognising these signs for what they were, as a manifestation of “the finger of God” (cf. Exodus 8:19), would instead, just like the hard-hearted pharaoh before whom Moses stood, utterly reject the worth of them.

In the case of Stephen (Acts 6:9-10):

 

Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.

 

So, once again (cf. Mark 14:57-58), false witnesses had to be introduced.

Acts 6:11: “Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, ‘We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God’.”

Stephen, who had once, as Nathanael, retorted to Philip’s (John 1:45): ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph’. (v. 46) “‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked”, was now, according to his accusers, acclaiming “this Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 6:12-15):

 

So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the Law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. They produced false witnesses, who testified, ‘This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us’.

All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

 

It was at this point that (7:1) “… the high priest asked Stephen, ‘Are these charges true?’”

Achior had promised to tell the chief authority confronting him, ‘I will tell you the truth about these people who live in the mountains near your camp. I will not lie to you’. But Stephen, instead, proceeds to do what Achior had done immediately after that, to give an abbreviated account of the history of Israel – Stephen, for his part, connecting Jesus to Moses and the prophets. (Recall Philip’s words to Nathanael in John 1:45: ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law …’).

The reaction to the historical account was the same in both cases:

 

Achior

 

Judith 5:22: “When Achior had finished his speech, all the people standing around the tent began to protest. Holofernes’ own senior officers, as well as the Moabites and those from the Mediterranean coast, demanded that Achior be put to death”.

 

Stephen

 

Acts 7:54: “When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him”.

 

Both were seized and taken “out of the camp/city”:

 

Achior

 

Judith 6:10-11: “Then Holofernes ordered his men, who were waiting in his tent, to seize Achior, take him to Bethulia, and hand him over to the Israelites. So the men seized Achior and took him out of the camp into the valley”.

 

Stephen

 

Acts 7:57-58: “At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him”.

 

“At this” – at what? At this (vv. 55-56): “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look’, he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’.”

Had not Stephen once, as Nathanael, been given this very promise [?]: