Ashurbanipal, Manasseh, Necho I-II, Nebuchednezzar
Part Two (ii):
Ashurbanipal as Nebuchednezzar,
Damien F. Mackey
“The emperor is addressed as the one who stretches out and provides shelter for his vassals – similar to Nebuchadnezzar in Dan 4 …”.
Certain passages in M. H. Henze’s book, The Madness of King Nebuchadnezzar: The Ancient Near Eastern Origins and Early History of Interpretation of Daniel 4 (BRILL, 1999), do no harm whatsoever to my identification, in this series (see also: https://www.academia.edu/33428527/Ashurbanipal_Manasseh_Necho_I-II_Nebuchednezzar._Part_Two_i_Ashurbanipal_as_Nebuchednezzar )
of Ashurbanipal as Nebuchednezzar.
And so we read of the emperor as like a sheltering, cosmic tree (pp. 80-81):
In addition to these more general commonalties in the portraits of the sacred tree throughout the ancient world, there are a number of peculiar details in the description of the cosmic tree in Dan 4 that stand without parallel in the Hebrew Bible, and which therefore demand further attention. One such detail is the literary context of the tree vision. As already observed, the entire story of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness is cast, at least in the Aramaic version, in the form of an encyclical epistle sent by the king “to all peoples, nations, and tongues” (Dan 3:31). We find the same image of the monarch as a giant tree in the prescript of an Assyrian epistle. It is part of the introductory blessing formulae in a letter sent to the Neo-Assyrian king Ashurbanipal by a certain Adad-šum-usur, a prominent diviner (barû) and royal advisor (ummānu) already during the time Ashurbanipal’s father Esarhaddon ….
My comment: According to my neo-Assyrian revision, Esarhaddon was not the father of Ashurbanipal, but was Ashurbanipal, hence was Nebuchednezzar.
See e.g. my article:
Esarhaddon a tolerable fit for King Nebuchednezzar
That would mean that Adad-šum-usur above would not need to be so stretched chronologically as to have to have embraced two reigns (Esarhaddon plus Ashurbanipal). Now, the biblical Ahikar (Achior) was Esarhaddon’s ummānu. And W. van Soden has suggested that Adad-šum-usur might have been the model for Ahikar (see Wisdom in Ancient Israel, p. 43, n. 3).
Returning to M. H. Henze and Adad-šum-usur
… who exercised considerable influence in the court. …. The line in question reads as follows,
zīmīka (MÚŠ-ka) lišmuḫu lirappišu ṣulūlī
(may the gods grant progeny to the king, my lord) may your
countenance flourish (and) make shelter wide ….
The letter, which probably stems from the beginning of Ashurbanipal’s reign around the year 666 BCE [sic], opens with a sequence of blessings. Line 14, the line quoted above, concludes this introductory section of the epistle. The emperor is addressed as the one who stretches out and provides shelter for his vassals – similar to Nebuchadnezzar in Dan 4 who, in the form of a cosmic tree, has grown large in order to host all the nations of the world (Dan 4:8–9.19). ….