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Na’aman and Bidkar

Published October 11, 2017 by amaic
He ordered his men to leave at once. But some of the men with Naaman tried to reason with him about it. – Slide 43


 Damien F. Mackey




As Ianhama of El Amarna


“According to the Rabbis, Naaman was the archer who drew his bow at a venture and mortally wounded Ahab, King of Israel (I Kings xxii. 34). This event is alluded to in the words “because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria” (II Kings v. 1), and therefore the Syrian king, Naaman’s master, was Benhadad”.



In a revised El Amarna


Dr. I. Velikovsky seems to have scored some hits and some misses in his attempts, in the series Ages in Chaos, to identify characters who figure in the El Amarna [EA] correspondence (re-dated downwards by Velikovsky from the conventionally estimated C14th, to the C9th BC) with biblical figures.

One of his promising efforts was, so it seems to me, his proposed identification of the prominent Ianhamu of EA with the biblical Na’aman (Hebrew: נַעֲמָן), famously cured by the prophet Elisha of his leprosy.


Velikovsky had referred to a couple of facts in the Na’aman story that he thought seemed “somewhat strange”:


“In … the [Naaman] story, two facts are somewhat strange. First, inasmuch as Ben-Hadad himself was at the head of the thirty-two captains of his army, why, in the story of the wondrous healing, is the deliverance of Syria credited to a captain Naaman? Second, the king of Israel was a lifelong rival of the king of Damascus. Why, then, did this request to cure a sick captain inspire in the king of Israel such a dread that he rent his clothes?”


From this it would appear that Velikovsky considered that the King of Israel approached by Na’aman for his cure was Ahab. Other commentators suggest Jehoram (a favoured candidate) or Jehu.


Velikovsky next proposed his identification for this Naaman in the EA Letters:


“For an explanation of the real role of this captain Naaman we shall look to the contemporaneous letters. A man by whom Syria received deliverance must be identifiable in the letters. We recognize him in the person of Ianhama, called also Iaanhamu … the pharaoh’s deputy in Syria, [who] was sent to the king of Damascus with prerogatives similar to those which Aman-appa had”.


Velikovsky continues, with a quote from S. Mercer (ed. Tell El-Amarna Tablets):


“… Naaman’s title in the Scriptures – sar [Hebrew: שַׂר] – is also used in the letters. He was a plenipotentiary of the king of Egypt, in charge of the army and walled cities of Amuru land (Syria), later also the overseer of stores of grain. He had great influence in all matters of Syrian administration. Judged by his name, he was of Syrian origin, as were some other dignitaries at the court of Thebes. Ianhama is a Semitic name: “Ianhamu was a powerful Egyptian agent in Syria, where he was respected as a good and wise man, and where he proved himself to be the most faithful of the pharaoh’s servants”.”


That a transformation of some kind had come over this Ianhama Velikovsky had inferred from Rib-Addi’s revised attitude towards him; an attitude that had changed dramatically in the course of Rib-Addi’s reign:


“In [Rib-Addi’s] early letters … his fear of the mighty deputy of the pharaoh is plainly expressed. In one letter he wrote to the pharaoh: “Thou must rescue me out of the hand of Iaanhamu”. He asked the pharaoh to inform his deputy that he, Ianhama, would be responsible if anything should happen to [Rib-Addi’s] person …. “Say to Ianhamu: ‘Rib-Addi is even in thy hands, and all that will be done to him rests upon thee’.”


But, Velikovsky continued (typically – but wrongly, I believe – substituting Samaria for EA’s Sumur):


“Later on, when Aman-appa left Samaria …, [Rib-Addi] … wrote to the pharaoh asking him to appoint Ianhama governor in Samaria …: “May it seem right to my lord to send Ianhama as his deputy. I hear from the mouth of the people that he is a wise man and all people love him”.

We recall the scriptural words about Naaman, that he was an “honourable” man”.


The reason for the official’s change in attitude, Velikovsky suggested, was to be found in the Scriptures:


“In another letter [Rib-Addi] again asks the pharaoh to send Ianhama and in the next one he praises him in these words: “There is no servant like Ianhama, a faithful servant to the king”.

… The letters do not show why the fear of [Rib-Addi] … changed into confidence with respect to the Syrian deputy. The Scriptures provide the explanation in the story of the healing of Naaman by the prophet of Samaria. Naaman was very grateful to the prophet … (II Kings 5:15). Elisha even declared that he would heal Naaman in order to help the king of Israel politically.

So [Ianhamu] became a friend”.


Velikovsky then went on to point out what he called “certain other features of the role and character of Ianhama, reflected in the letters, [and] shown also in the Scriptures”. For example:


“He was a generous man. This appears in the story of the healing: he gave to the servant of the prophet two talents of silver and two changes of garments, more than the servant had asked for, when the prophet refused to take ten talents of silver, six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. It is of interest to find that, according to the letters, Ianhama was in charge of the pharaoh’s treasury in Syria, being over “money and clothing”.

… The el-Amarna letters also speak of him as the generous patron of a Palestinian youth, who was educated in Egypt at his expense. The man “by whom the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria” … was Ianhama. How this captain changed his attitude and became a supporter of the king of Samaria is recorded in the letters and is explained by the Scriptures”.


Na’aman and King Ahab


Emil Hirsch et al. (“Naaman”, Jewish Encylopedia) tell of this interesting Rabbinical tradition in regard to Na’aman: ….


“According to the Rabbis, Naaman was the archer who drew his bow at a venture and mortally wounded Ahab, King of Israel (I Kings xxii. 34). This event is alluded to in the words “because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria” (II Kings v. 1), and therefore the Syrian king, Naaman’s master, was Benhadad …. Naaman is represented as vain and haughty, on account of which he was stricken with leprosy …”.


That Na’aman, though a leper, regarded himself as being an official of no small importance may be reflected in his initial response to the fact of Elisha’s merely sending a messenger to advise him: ‘… I thought that for me he would surely come out’ (5:11).

Here we have the biblical instance of Na’aman’s riding up “with his horses and chariots”, to Samaria, to seek a cure from Elisha. Hence a further argument for the Syrian’s familiarity with Israel and its palace. And, later, Naaman will return to thank the prophet, “he and all his company”; Na’aman himself certainly riding in his chariot at the time (cf. 2 Kings 5:9; 5:21).


Hirsch et al. also claim in the same article that: “Naaman was a “ger toshab” [literally, ‘a strange-settler’; a resident alien of different religion], that is, he was not a perfect proselyte, having accepted only some of the commandments …”.


Na’aman had, subsequent to his cure by the prophet Elisha, apologised in advance to the latter for his involuntary adoration of the Syrian divinity, Rimmon, when having to escort his king into Rimmon’s temple (2 Kings 5:18).

We recall that Ben-Hadad I’s father, Tab-rimmon, had borne the name of this Syrian god.

There is also a reference to “Naaman the Syrian” in the New Testament (Luke 4:27): ‘And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian’.


But what was this Na’aman doing fluctuating between kings Ahab of Israel and Ben-Hadad I, mortal enemies?

This must have occurred somewhat late in the reign of King Ahab, after the two kings had declared a treaty and mutual brotherhood (I Kings 20:34).


I now take up the relevant parts of Campbell’s narrative concerning this important EA official, Ianhama (his Yanhamu): ….


“Yanhamu began his service under Amenophis III. ….

Yanhamu appears, then, to have held an extremely important position in Syria throughout the period of Rib-Adda’s [Rib-Addi’s] correspondence. The later letters of Rib-Adda show this prince defending Yanhamu and asking for his appointment as rabiṣ in Sumur. One might almost imagine that Yanhamu’s rebuff of Aziru described in 171 led Rib-Adda suddenly to realize that he had a true ally in Yanhamu”.


This Ianhama was, according to Campbell, in charge of grain supplies: ….


“In the early group of letters from Rib-Adda, Yanhamu seems to have held a position having to do with the supplying of the vassals from a store-city of Egypt (83:27ff., 39f.; 85:23f., 48ff.; 86:15f.).

This source of supply is named Yarimuta in many places in the Rib-Adda correspondence, and that Yanhamu was its chief appears clear from 85:12-35. In this passage, Rib-Adda first explains that he has had to “pawn” virtually everything of value in his city in return for grain from Yarimuta. Sons and daughters of his serfs have been sold into slavery at Yarimuta in return for grain. Grain is needed simply to keep the people alive and able to protect their city.

… From the context it is not certain that Yanhamu is chief of Yarimuta, but everything points that way. Being the chief of the grain supply would place Yanhamu in a very powerful position.

That Iaanhamu was of a high rank in relation to pharaoh is borne out by this testimony of Campbell’s: …. “[Iaanhamu] bears an extremely important title, that of “Fan-Bearer at the king’s right-hand” (musallil), a title which Mâya of Tomb 14 also bears”.


According to Harry M. Orlinsky (Israel Exploration Journal Reader, p. 164): “… ynḥm is recorded as a Semitic name on an Egyptian ostracon of the 18th dynasty, and as ianhamu it appears in the El-Amarna letters. …”.


As the biblical Bidkar?


“Jehu said to Bidkar, his chariot officer, ‘Pick him up and throw him on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. Remember how you and I were riding together in chariots behind Ahab his father when the Lord spoke this prophecy against him: ‘Yesterday I saw the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, declares the Lord, and I will surely make you pay for it on this plot of ground, declares the Lord’.’”

 2 Kings 9:25-26


The possibility now arises that the otherwise unknown Bidkar may also be Na’aman.


Conforming with Rabbinic legends that have Na’aman as the one who had mortally wounded King Ahab of Israel with an arrow, Bidkar, too, we learn here, had once ridden behind Ahab.

Contemporaneity between Na’aman and Bidkar would not be a problem.


Nor would occupation, and, possibly, rank.

Na’aman, as was Bidkar, was a military officer who rode in a chariot (cf. 2 Kings 5:9).

He was a man of great rank. “Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and held in esteem, because by him the LORD had given victory unto Aram; he was also a mighty man of valour …” (2 Kings 5:1).

Na’aman was ish gadol (אִישׁ גָּדוֹל), a “great man”. This, “great man”, is the very interpretation sometimes given to the Assyrian rank of Rabshakeh.

Bidkar, a dozen or more years later when he closely witnessed this following incident (9:24): “… Jehu drew his bow and shot Jehoram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart and he slumped down in his chariot”, was ranked as a shaloshah (שָׁלִשֹׁה), which description may mean “third” in rank.


Less obvious would be why Na’aman (perhaps compatibly named Ianhama in EA) would be, in 2 Kings 9, named Bidkar.

What does this name mean? What might be its ethnic origin?

Some think that the latter part of the name, kar, could bear some relationship to Carite (Karite). For, at this approximate time, in Judah, “Jehoiada the priest summoned … the Carite mercenaries …” (2 Kings 11:4).


But my own preference – based upon Velikovsky’s view that Na’aman, in his guise of EA’s Ianhama, “was a plenipotentiary of the king of Egypt, in charge of the army and walled cities of Amuru land (Syria)” – would be that the name Bidkar was the name by which this officer was known in Egypt.

The element kar in Bidkar’s name, whilst it has prompted mention of the Carites, could be, instead, an abbreviation of the common Egyptian combination ka re.

There was an important Chancellor in Old Kingdom Egypt known as Nebitka (or Nebetka).

It is perhaps possible that Bidkar (בִּדְקַר) is a Hebrew attempt to write an Egyptian name such as this, for instance, Ne[bitkar]e.


A Spiritual Lesson:

Obedience not Sacrifice


An important spiritual lesson can be learned from the biblical account

of the healing of the Syrian Na’aman’s leprosy in the river Jordan.



I have previously written of the incident of the Syrian Na’aman’s healing in my book:


The Five First Saturdays of Our Lady of Fatima


The events of Fatima in 1917, and beyond (and still being fulfilled today), and ratified by


The Great Solar Miracle: Fatima October 13, 1917



the 100th anniversary of which occurs tomorrow (13th October 2017) can be ignored – and sadly have largely been – at humankind’s peril, so that now we find ourselves charging headlong into a Third World War. See, in this, my:


Medjugorje and the Mad Mouthings of the ‘Madonna of the Antichrist’


and the consequent Fatima predicted (13th July, 1917), “annihilation of nations”:


Part Two: ‘Annihilation of Nations’


Catholics have shown the same kind of reluctance to embrace the medicinal cure of the heavenly régime of the Communion of Reparation (known as the “Five First Saturdays”) as Na’aman had exhibited when the prophet Elisha presented him with the curative medicine of a seven times immersion in the River Jordan.


Is it too hard? Is it too easy?


I, after having outlined the heavenly program in my book as follows:


The Program of the Five First Saturdays


In order to fulfil the devotion of the Five First Saturdays, the following conditions – listed according to the order in which Our Lady named them – are necessary:


    1. go to confession (reconciliation).
  1. receive holy communion.
  2. say five decades of the rosary; and
  3. keep our lady company for fifteen minutes whilst meditating on the mysteries of the rosary.
  4. all of which are to be done with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


Although a first glance this program appears to be quite straight-forward, some of the above points do need a bit of explanation. In 1926 Our Divine Lord clarified a few points raised by Sr. Lucia. For instance, Lucia had placed before Him the difficulty that certain people might have about confessing on Saturday, and she asked if it might be valid to go to Confession within eight days. Jesus answered her as follows: “Yes, and it could be longer still provided that, when they receive Me, they are in a state of grace and have the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary” (“Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words”, p. 196).

Lucia then asked: “My Jesus, what about those who forget to make this intention?”

To which Our Lord replied: “They can do it at their next Confession, taking advantage of the next opportunity to go to Confession” (ibid.).

Some Further Clarifications

For those who like to make the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary concurrently with the Nine First Fridays, the Confession of reparation during the week can count for both devotions, provided that the right intentions are there for both.
Holy Communion

Our Lady never directly referred to the Mass as being part of the program, but mentioned only Communion. Normally, however, one receives Holy Communion within the context of the Mass. Our Lady was undoubtedly making an allowance here for the sick and bed-ridden, or, in the case where a particular parish might not have Mass on a given first Saturday, but only a Communion service. Under such unavoidable circumstances, one’s chance of fulfilling the Five First Saturdays would not be jeopardised.


The Rosary

For the Rosary, only five decades are required, not fifteen.

Fifteen Minutes’ Meditation

The Meditation, whilst keeping Our Lady company, may be on one, or on several, or on all of the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, according to individual preference.
All done with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

then proceeded to stress the importance of the obedience factor, relevant also in the case of Na’aman as I would explain here:

The Devotion Must be Done Properly

It is important that one takes pains to fulfil the devotion strictly according to what Our Lord has commanded. For He made it absolutely clear at Tuy in 1926 that He would rather one does five first Saturdays well, with the right intention, than more than five, completed in a careless fashion. It is our obedience that is being put to the test here. And so one should not quibble about certain aspects of the devotion, or try to “improve” on it. This word of caution is more necessary than one might think. Sometimes the piously inclined choose to worship God according to their own terms, rather than his. But the form of worship that really pleases God is that of obedient co-operation with his holy Will. It is this factor that will ensure that pious souls gain for themselves, and for their neighbour, the full benefit of the Five First Saturdays.


The Story of Naaman

There are so many passages throughout the Sacred Scriptures that prove that God prefers obedience and the immolation of one’s will, to a multitude of sacrifices offered in a spirit of self-love. In other words, God is especially concerned about the intention that motivates our worship of Him. Perhaps no scriptural episode is more illustrative of this particular fact than the story of Naaman, army commander to the king of Syria. We find the account of Naaman in the Second Book of Kings, chapter 2.

This Naaman was a leper, who approached the prophet Elisha for a cure. But when Elisha laid down his God-inspired terms, namely that Naaman “go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will become clean once more”, Naaman was indignant (vv. 10-11). Elisha’s terms were not to his liking. He wanted the cure to be effected according to his own terms. Surely, he argued, Elisha could simply have come and waved his hand over the leprous part, and invoke the Lord God, and he would have been cured. Or, failing that, at least the prophet could have allowed him to bathe, not in the insignificant Jordan river, but rather in the impressive rivers Abana and Pharpar of his own country, Syria, “better than any water in Israel!” And he turned around contemptuously “and went off in a rage”; and, needless to say, without a cure (vv. 11-12).

Fortunately for Naaman, however, this was not the end of the story. We are told that his own servants reproached him for saying that, had the prophet Elisha told him “to do something difficult”, would he not have done it? All the more reason, then, should he have for obeying the simple request: “bathe, and you will become clean” (v. 13).

This common sense argument of his servants had the necessary effect of Naaman, who now went off and did exactly what Elisha had commanded him to do, “and his flesh became once more like the flesh of a little child” (vv. 11-14).

And so we find that God wanted Naaman to be cured more than Naaman himself wanted it. Despite the fact that the program that God had revealed to the Syrian through his prophet was an entirely simple one, Naaman initially lacked the necessary disposition of humble obedience that would enable him to fulfil it. And so Naaman was cured only when, eventually, he renounced his own will in preference to that of God.
Now, it is exactly the same in the case of the Five First Saturdays. Heaven has made a simple request through Our Lady of the Rosary. Her program is not difficult, but is well within the reach of all Catholics, provided that they have the right disposition. And the promise associated with its proper fulfillment is one of being cleansed of spiritual leprosy and restored to perfect health in the sight of God.

But, unfortunately, Naaman’s much more deep-seated affliction of indignant pride, causing him to look to complicate a simple matter when it was not to his liking, is an all-too common ailment. Many are of the entrenched position that, if a thing is not difficult to accomplish, then it cannot be worthwhile. It is vitally necessary therefore that the less complicated souls, those who love obedience and who are already properly practising the Communion of Reparation, persist (like Naaman’s wise servants) in their efforts to persuade others to relinquish their own haughtiness and to obey Heaven’s simple request in regard to the Five First Saturdays. God wants our simple obedience much more than He wants great effort from us. Our Lady of the Rosary has promised that those who wholeheartedly embrace the devotion to her Immaculate Heart will be saved. As Naaman’s flesh became like the flesh of a little child – but only after he had submitted to the will of God – so will the souls of those who obediently practice the devotion of reparation become childlike and innocent, even if previously they were not so.
The wonderful effects of such obedience will be out of all proportion to the small degree of self-sacrifice involved.



Not so ‘Hot Gates’ of Thermopylae

Published October 3, 2017 by amaic

Image result for thermopylae


Damien F. Mackey


Scholars have wondered about the incredible size of the Persian army.

“Almost all are agreed that Herodotus’ figure of 2,100,000, exclusive of followers, for the army (Bk VII. 184-85) is impossible” wrote F. Maurice in 1930.





Professor Paul Cartledge’s well written book about the alleged Battle of Thermopylae between the Spartans and the Persians in 480 BC holds firmly to the familiar line of British writers and historians that our Western civilisation was based front and centre upon the Greeks.


Thus, for instance, he writes in his book, Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World (Macmillan, 2006, p. 4):


“The Greeks were second to none in embracing that contrary combination of the ghastly and the ennobling, which takes us straight back to the fount and origin of Western culture and ‘civilization’ – to Homer’s Iliad, the first masterpiece of all Western literature; to Aeschylus’s Persians, the first surviving masterpiece of Western drama; to the coruscating war epigrams of Simonides and, last but most relevantly of all, to Herodotus’s Histories, the first masterpiece of Western historiography”.


And this is not the only occasion in his book where professor Cartledge expresses such effusive sentiments.


The problem is, however, that – as it seems to me, at least – these very foundations, these so-called ‘founts and origins’ of ‘Western culture and civilization’, had for their very own bases some significant non-Greek influences and inspirations.

An important one of these non-Greek influences was the Book of Judith, traditionally thought to have been written substantially by the high-priest Joakim in c. 700 BC. See my article:


Author of the Book of Judith


Compare that to the uncertainty of authorship surrounding those major works labelled Homeric (


The Homeric Question—by whom, when, where and under what circumstances were the Iliad and Odyssey composed—continues to be debated. Broadly speaking, modern scholarly opinion falls into two groups. One holds that most of the Iliad and (according to some) the Odyssey are the works of a single poet of genius. The other considers the Homeric poems to be the result of a process of working and re-working by many contributors, and that “Homer” is best seen as a label for an entire tradition.[


On previous occasions I have suggested that parts of The Iliad had appropriated key incidents to be found in the Book of Judith, with ‘Helen’ taking her cue from the Jewish heroine, Judith.

Accordingly, I have written:


“As for Judith, the Greeks appear to have substituted this beautiful Jewish heroine with their own legendary Helen, whose ‘face launched a thousand ships’. Compare for instance these striking similarities (Judith and The Iliad):


The beautiful woman praised by the elders at the city gates:


“When [the elders of Bethulia] saw [Judith] transformed in appearance and dressed differently, they were very greatly astounded at her beauty” (Judith 10:7).


“Now the elders of the people were sitting by the Skaian gates…. When they saw Helen coming … they spoke softly to each other with winged words: ‘No shame that the Trojans and the well-greaved Achaians should suffer agonies for long years over a woman like this – she is fearfully like the immortal goddesses to look at'” [The Iliad., pp. 44-45].


This theme of incredible beauty – plus the related view that “no shame” should be attached to the enemy on account of it – is picked up again a few verses later in the Book of Judith (v.19) when the Assyrian soldiers who accompany Judith and her maid to Holofernes “marveled at [Judith’s] beauty and admired the Israelites, judging them by her … ‘Who can despise these people, who have women like this among them?'”




‘It is not wise to leave one of their men alive, for if we let them go they will be able to beguile the whole world!’ (Judith 10:19).


‘But even so, for all her beauty, let her go back in the ships, and not be left here a curse to us and our children’.


The dependence of The Iliad upon the Book of Judith may go even deeper, though, to its very main theme. For, previously I had written:




Many similarities have been noted too between The Iliad and the Old Testament, including the earlier-mentioned likenesses between the young Bellerophon and Joseph. Again, Achilles’ being pursued by the river Xanthos which eventually turns dry (Book 21) reminds one of Moses’ drying up of the sea (Exodus 14:21).


Was there really a person by the name of Agamemnon? [See Is Homer Historical? in Archaeology Odyssey, May/Jun 2004, pp. 26-35]. The interview of Professor Nagy of Harvard says `no, there wasn’t.’


Achilles’ fierce argument with Agamemnon, commander-in-chief of the Greeks, at Troy – Achilles’ anger being the very theme of The Iliad [Introduction, p. xvi: “The Iliad announces its subject in the first line. The poem will tell of the anger of Achilleus and its consequences – consequences for the Achaians, the Trojans, and Achilleus himself”] – is merely a highly dramatized Greek version of the disagreement in the Book of Judith between Achior [a name not unlike the ‘Greek’ Achilles] and the furious Assyrian commander-in-chief, “Holofernes”, at the siege of Bethulia, Judith’s town”.


And the famous Trojan Horse?

I continued:


“If the very main theme of The Iliad may have been lifted by the Greeks from the Book of Judith, then might not even the Homeric idea of the Trojan Horse ruse to capture Troy have been inspired by Judith’s own ruse to take the Assyrian camp? [According to R. Graves, The Greek Myths (Penguin Books, combined ed., 1992), p. 697 (1, 2. My emphasis):


“Classical commentators on Homer were dissatisfied with the story of the wooden horse. They suggested, variously, that the Greeks used a horse-like engine for breaking down the walls (Pausanias: i. 23. 10) … that Antenor admitted the Greeks into Troy by a postern which had a horse painted on it….Troy is quite likely to have been stormed by means of a wheeled wooden tower, faced with wet horse hides as a protection against incendiary darts…”.

(Pausanius 2nd century AD: Wrote `Description of Greece’.)].


What may greatly serve to strengthen this suggestion is the uncannily ‘Judith-like’ trickery of a certain Sinon, a wily Greek, as narrated in the detailed description of the Trojan Horse in Book Two of Virgil’s Aeneid. Sinon, whilst claiming to have become estranged from his own people, because of their treachery and sins, was in fact bent upon deceiving the Trojans about the purpose of the wooden horse, in order “to open Troy to the Greeks”.


I shall set out here the main parallels that I find on this score between the Aeneid and the Book of Judith.


Firstly, the name Sinon may recall Judith’s ancestor Simeon, son of Israel (Judith 8:1; 9:2).

Whilst Sinon, when apprehended by the enemy, is “dishevelled” and “defenceless”, Judith, also defenseless, is greatly admired for her appearance by the members of the Assyrian patrol who apprehend her (Judith 10:14). As Sinon is asked sympathetically by the Trojans ‘what he had come to tell …’ and ‘why he had allowed himself to be taken prisoner’, so does the Assyrian commander-in-chief, Holofernes, ‘kindly’ ask Judith: ‘… tell me why you have fled from [the Israelites] and have come over to us?’

Just as Sinon, when brought before the Trojan king Priam, promises that he ‘will confess the whole truth’ – though having no intention of doing that – so does Judith lie to Holofernes: ‘I will say nothing false to my lord this night’ (Judith 11:5).

Sinon then gives his own treacherous account of events, including the supposed sacrileges of the Greeks due to their tearing of the Palladium, image of the goddess Athene, from her own sacred Temple in Troy; slaying the guards on the heights of the citadel and then daring to touch the sacred bands on the head of the virgin goddess with blood on their hands. For these ‘sacrileges’ the Greeks were doomed.

Likewise Judith assures Holofernes of victory because of the supposed sacrilegious conduct that the Israelites have planned (e.g. to eat forbidden and consecrated food), even in Jerusalem (11:11-15).

Sinon concludes – in relation to the Trojan options regarding what to do with the enigmatic wooden horse – with an Achior-like statement: ‘For if your hands violate this offering to Minerva, then total destruction shall fall upon the empire of Priam and the Trojans…. But if your hands raise it up into your city, Asia shall come unbidden in a mighty war to the walls of Pelops, and that is the fate in store for our descendants‘. Whilst Sinon’s words were full of cunning, Achior had been sincere when he had warned Holofernes – in words to which Judith will later allude deceitfully (11:9-10): ‘So now, my master and my lord, if there is any oversight in this people [the Israelites] and they sin against their God and we find out their offense, then we can go up against them and defeat them. But if they are not a guilty nation, then let my lord pass them by; for their Lord and God will defend them, and we shall become the laughing-stock of the whole world’ (Judith 5:20-21). [Similarly, Achilles fears to become ‘a laughing-stock and a burden of the earth’ (Plato’s Apologia, Scene I, D. 5)]. These, Achior’s words, were the very ones that had so enraged Holofernes and his soldiers (vv.22-24). And they would give the Greeks the theme for their greatest epic, The Iliad”.


But all of this is as nothing when compared to what I have found to be the multiple:


Similarities to The Odyssey of the Books of Job and Tobit


this Semitic literature presumably well pre-dating the fairy-tale Greek efforts.


Unsatisfactory Foundations


“It concerns a supposed night attack by loyalist Greeks on Xerxes’s camp in the very middle of the Thermopylae campaign with the aim of assassinating the Great King”.




So much concerning the truth of the supposed Battle of Thermopylae rests with Herodotus, whose Histories are thought to come closest of all to being a primary source for the account. “He and [the poet] Simonides” are, according to professor Paul Cartledge, the “principal contemporary Greek written source for Thermopylae”. And, on p. 224: “… Herodotus in my view remains as good as it gets: we either write a history of Thermopylae with him, or we do not write one at all”.

One problem with this is that Herodotus was known as (alongside his more favourable epithet, the “Father of History”) – as professor Cartledge has also noted – the “Father of Lies”.


Where does Greek history actually begin?

The history of Philosophy – of whose origins the Greeks are typically credited – begins with shadowy ‘Ionian Greeks’, such as Thales of Miletus, whose real substance I believe resides in the very wise Joseph of Egypt (the genius Imhotep of Egypt’s Third Dynasty).

Likewise the legendary Pythagoras.

For an overview of all of this, see my:


Re-Orienting to Zion the History of Ancient Philosophy


Already I have de-Grecised such supposedly historical characters as Solon the Athenian statesman (who is but a Greek version of the Israelite King Solomon, and whose ‘laws’ appear to have been borrowed, at least in part, from the Jew, Nehemiah); Thales; Pythagoras; Empedocles, an apparent re-incarnation of Moses (Freud).

And I have shown that Greek classics such as The Iliad and the Odyssey were heavily dependent upon earlier Hebrew literature.

The ancient biblical scholar, Saint Jerome (c. 400 AD), had already noted, according to Orthodox pastor, Patrick H. Reardon (The Wide World of Tobit. Apocrypha’s Tobit and Literary Tradition), the resemblance of Tobit to Homer’s The Odyssey. The example that pastor Reardon gives, though, so typical of the biblical commentator’s tendency to infer pagan influence upon Hebrew literature, whilst demonstrating a definite similarity between Tobit and the Greek literature, imagines the author of Tobit to have appropriated a colourful episode from The Odyssey and inserted it into Tobit 11:9:


“The resemblance of Tobit to the Odyssey in particular was not lost on that great student of literature, Jerome, as is evident in a single detail of his Latin translation of Tobit in the Vulgate. Intrigued by the literary merit of Tobit, but rejecting its canonicity, the jocose and sometimes prankish Jerome felt free to insert into his version an item straight out of the Odyssey—namely, the wagging of the dog’s tail on arriving home with Tobias in 11:9—Tunc praecucurrit canis, qui simul fuerat in via, et quasi nuntius adveniens blandimento suae caudae gaudebat—“Then the dog, which had been with them in the way, ran before, and coming as if it had brought the news, showed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail.”16 No other ancient version of Tobit mentions either the tail or the wagging, but Jerome, ever the classicist, was confident his readers would remember the faithful but feeble old hound Argus, as the final act of his life, greeting the return of Odysseus to the home of his father: “he endeavored to wag his tail” (Odyssey 17.302). And to think that we owe this delightful gem to Jerome’s rejection of Tobit’s canonicity!”


Reardon, continuing his theme of the dependence of Tobit, in part, upon, as he calls it here, “pagan themes”, finds further commonality with Greek literature, especially Antigone:


“Furthermore, some readers have found in Tobit similarities to still other pagan themes, such as the legend of Admetus. …. More convincing, I believe, however, are points of contact with classical Greek theater. Martin Luther observed similarities between Tobit and Greek comedy … but one is even more impressed by resemblances that the Book of Tobit bears to a work of Greek tragedy—the Antigone of Sophocles. In both stories the moral stature of the heroes is chiefly exemplified in their bravely burying the dead in the face of official prohibition and at the risk of official punishment. In both cases a venerable moral tradition is maintained against a political tyranny destructive of piety. That same Greek drama, moreover, provides a further parallel to the blindness of Tobit in the character of blind Teiresias, himself also a man of an inner moral vision important to the theme of the play”.


In light of all this – and what I have given above is very far from being exhaustive – and appreciating that those conventionally labelled as ‘Ionian Greeks’ may actually have been, in their origins, Hebrew biblical characters, then just how real is Herodotus of Ionian Greece (Halicarnassus)?

And, can we be sure that the Histories attributed to him have been (anywhere nearly) properly dated?

His name, Herod-, with a Greek ending (-otus), may actually bespeak a non-Greek ethnicity, and, indeed, a later period of time (say, closer to a Dionysius of Halicarnassus, C1st BC).




But, whatever may be the case with Herodotus, his classical version of “Xerxes” seems to have been based very heavily upon the Assyrian Great King, Sennacherib – another Book of Judith connection, given my view that Sennacherib was the actual Assyrian ruler of Nineveh named “Nebuchadnezzar” in Judith. E.g. 1:1: “In the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnez′zar, who ruled over the Assyrians in the great city of Nin′eveh …”. Emmet Sweeney has marvellously shown this in the following comparisons (The Ramessides, Medes and Persians):



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.


Though I do not deny for a moment that Persia had a King Xerxes, a shortened version of Artaxerxes, the “Xerxes” of the Greeks is, however, purely fictitious.

Diodorus of Sicily, C1st BC (presuming he did actually write later than Herodotus), will contribute to the fiction by including a Judith element (not mentioned by Herodotus) to the tale of “Xerxes” at Thermopylae. It is, in my opinion, just a re-run version of the assassination of “Holofernes”, admixed, perhaps, with the regicide of Sennacherib.

Professor Cartledge has written of it (op. cit., p. 232): “It concerns a supposed night attack by loyalist Greeks on Xerxes’s camp in the very middle of the Thermopylae campaign with the aim of assassinating the Great King”.


Based on the Book of Judith Drama



Morton Scott Enslin has intuitively referred to the Book of Judith’s Bethulia incident as the “Judean Thermopylae” (The Book of Judith: Greek Text with an English Translation, p. 80).




Comparisons between Book of Judith

and the Battle of Thermopylae


In both dramas we are introduced to a Great King ruling in the East, who determines to conquer the West with a massive army.

Scholars have wondered about the incredible size of the Persian army.

“Almost all are agreed that Herodotus’ figure of 2,100,000, exclusive of followers, for the army (Bk VII. 184-85) is impossible” wrote F. Maurice in 1930 (“The Size of the Army of Xerxes in the Invasion of Greece 480 B. C.”, JHS, Vol. 50, Part 2 (1930), p. 211).


Sennacherib’s Assyrian army of 185,000 was likely – discounting, as an unrealistic translation, the one million-strong army of “Zerah the Ethiopian” – the largest army ever to that time (and possibly even much later) to have been assembled. Apart from Kings, Chronicles and Isaiah, the same figure is referred to again in Maccabees, and in Herodotus’ Histories. The figure is not unrealistic for the neo-Assyrians, given that King Shalmaneser III is known to have fielded an army of 120,000 men. (Fragments of the royal annals, from Calah, 3. lines 99–102: In my fourteenth year, I mustered the people of the whole wide land, in countless numbers. I crossed the Euphrates at its flood with 120,000 of my soldiers”).


Invading from the East, the armies must of necessity approach, now Greece, now Judah, from the North.


Having successfully conquered everything in their path so far, the victors find that those peoples yet unconquered will speedily hand themselves over to their more powerful assailants. This process is known as ‘Medizing’ in the classical literature.

In the Book of Judith, the all-conquering commander-in-chief, “Holofernes”, will receive as allies those who had formerly been his foes. And these, like the treacherous ones in the Thermopylae drama, will prove to be a thorn in the flesh of the few who have determined to resist the foreign onslaught.


The armies arrive at a narrow pass, with defenders blocking their way.

Thermopylae in the Herodotean account – Bethulia (best identified as Shechem) in the biblical Book of Judith.


Dethroned Spartan King Demaratus, now an exile in Persia, will answer all of Xerxes’s questions about the Greek opposition, promising the King “to tell the whole truth—the kind of truth that you will not be able to prove false at a later date”.

Most similarly Achior, probably born in Assyrian exile, will advise “Holofernes” about the Israelites, promising his superior (Judith 5:5): ‘I will tell you the truth about these people who live in the mountains near your camp. I will not lie to you’.


A traitorous Greek, Ephialtes, will betray his country by telling the Persians of another pass around the mountains.

Likewise, the turncoat local Edomites and Moabites will advise the Assyrians of a strategy better than the one that they had been intending.




The so-called Battle of Thermopylae never happened.

No band of 300 pederastic homosexuals ever held the line against a massive Persian army.

The classical Xerxes is a complete fiction.

“Thermopylae: the Battle that changed the word”, in fact “changed” nothing.


Now, the Battle of the Valley of Salem at “Bethulia” (Shechem), on the other hand, changed a heck of a lot. For (Judith 16:25):


“As long as Judith lived, and for many years after her death,

no one dared to threaten the people of Israel”.


Ashurbanipal and Nebuchednezzar

Published June 28, 2017 by amaic
Image result for ashurbanipal



Damien F. Mackey


Part One:

Questions in need of new answers


Is Ashurbanipal mentioned in the Bible?

No, according to The Jerome Biblical Commentary (11:9):

“[Ashurbanipal] is not mentioned in the Bible …”.




Is Ashurbanipal mentioned in the Bible?


How to accommodate, chronologically, king Manasseh of Judah’s reign of 55 years?


Were there two pharaohs Necho (Neco), or only one?


How to account for the surprising gaps in the history of Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’?



Questions such as these will be given new and quite different-from-the-conventional-viewpoint answers in this series. For example:



Ashurbanipal is well and truly mentioned in various books of the Scriptures.


King Manasseh of Judah will be found to have been contemporaneous with the Chaldean era.


There was only one Pharaoh Necho, as we shall find, thereby continuing our radical revision of the Egyptian dynasties.


Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’ can be filled out only when matched to his chief alter ego (even over and above my identification of him with the significant Nabonidus).



Part Two (i):

Ashurbanipal as Nebuchednezzar



The great Assyrian ruler, Ashurbanipal, who so significantly influenced king Nabonidus,

has certain features that also may remind one of Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”.





I wrote the above in my recent:


Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus


which article included mention of the fact that king Ashurbanipal had – just as is narrated of “Nebuchednezzar” (or “Nebuchadnezzar”), king of Babylon, in the Book of Daniel – in Ashurbanipal’s own words, “a burning fiery furnace”.

And Ashurbanipal also had (as noted there again) a lions’ den.

These fascinating historical facts have led me, in light of the Book of Daniel, to consider if Ashurbanipal could be the same as king Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’, whom I have already identified as king Nabonidus, and as Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”.


Ashurbanipal viewed

in a new perspective


This will not be the first time that I have sought to re-cast Ashurbanipal as Nebuchednezzar II.

My first attempt some years ago had eventually to be abandoned because I had not then managed successfully to align this significantly revised Neo Assyro-Babylonian (Chaldean) scenario in relation to the late Kings of Judah.

Obviously, such a revision of Assyro-Babylonia, involving an Ockham’s Razor-like shaving off of (in conventional terms) approximately seven decades – Ashurbanipal (d. c. 672 BC) to Nebuchednezzar II (began to reign in c. 605 BC) – must have a dramatic impact upon the currently arranged sequence of contemporary Judaean kings.

My first effort involved a hopeful identification of the great reforming king, Hezekiah of Judah, with the similarly great reforming king, Josiah of Judah, both of whom had wicked offspring. When that failed, I completely dropped the idea that Ashurbanipal – seemingly a typical Sargonid Assyrian king – could be the same as Nebuchednezzar II, Chaldean ruler of Babylon.

Now, in this series, I want to test a new Mesopotamian and Judah combination.



Part Two (ii): Comparing fathers,

Esarhaddon and Nabopolassar



“This most famous king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire [Nebuchednezzar II] continued the extensive building projects that Nabopolassar had begun. The latter is not mentioned in the Bible, but he may have been on good terms with Josiah of Judah (ca.  640-609) …”.


Joseph Ignatius Hunt



Esarhaddon as Nabopolassar


If the primary thrust of this new series is correct, that the Neo-Babylonian (Chaldean) kingdom grew out of what we consider to be the late Neo-Assyrian one, with Nebuchednezzar II being Ashurbanipal, then it would follow that Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchednezzar II, was Esarhaddon, the father of Ashurbanipal.

That being the case, then Joseph Ignatius Hunt’s view as expressed in the above quote, that “Nabopolassar … is not mentioned in the Bible”, would not be correct, considering that Esarhaddon is mentioned in 2 Kings 19:37; Isaiah 37:38; and Tobit 1:21.


The term “son of a nobody” appears to have been common to Esarhaddon, to Nabopolassar. So Mattias Karlsson tells in his article, “The Expression “Son of a Nobody” in Assyrian Royal Inscriptions”, firstly dealing with Esarhaddon


The epithet “son of a nobody” is also expressed in a royal letter from the state archives of Nineveh. This letter was written by the astrologer Bel-ushezib to king Esarhaddon and deals with omen on kingship (SAA 10: 109 r. 10-20). The letter, here in translation by Parpola (1993), is quite fragmentary and unclear in many points.


Now [then portents] have occurred in the reign of the king, my lord, bearing upon him. They have set aside whatever [……]; (but) where (are they)? They are looking for a pleasant sign […, saying]: “Keep evil [omens] to yourselves, let [……].”


[This was the sign] of kingship: (If a planet comes close to a planet), the son of the king who lives in a city on my border [will make a rebellion against his father, but will not seize the throne; a son of nobody will come out and se]ize [the throne]; he will restore the temples [and establish sacrifices of the gods; he will provide jointly

for (all) the temples.] ….


As for the contents of this passage, the first portion seems to refer to bad omen interpretation, in the sense of scholars avoiding to deliver “bad news” to the king. The second portion focuses on a specific omen and the interpretation of it. The third portion relates this interpretation to a specific event. In the preceding portions, Belushezib in his letter reminds king Esarhaddon that he correctly predicted the king’s rise to the throne. He had said that “you will take over the kingship” (umma šarruti tanašši) to Esarhaddon. Esarhaddon may be the “son of a nobody” in question.


Regarding this epithet, we here have another attestation of it as carrying a positive meaning. It is said of this “son of a nobody”, which probably alludes to Esarhaddon (or at least to this king’s irregular ascent to the throne), even though he was of royal descent (Roux 1992: 324-25), that he “[will come out and se]ize [the throne]; he will restore the temples [and establish sacrifices of the gods; he will provide jointly for (all) the temples.]” (uṣṣīma kussâ iṣabbat bītī ilāni rabûti ana ašrīšunu utār […]). A reference to Esarhaddon’s various rebuilding and renovation programs, notably in Babylon (Roux 1992: 325-26), may be expressed. If anyone is belittled here, it is Sennacherib (the king’s father) who would be this “nobody” (lā mamman)!


Karlsson now precedes to tell about Nabopolassar. Note his mention, relevant to this series, of “the Assyrian background of this ruler and his family”:


Also the Neo-Babylonian king Nabopolassar (626-605) used the term “son of a nobody”. Its attestation is included here because of the Assyrian background of this ruler and his family (Jursa 2007: 127-28). The text highlighted below comes from a fictive autobiography in which Nabopolassar explains his ascent to the Babylonian throne (SANER 3:C12/1:4-12). It is written on a barrel cylinder of clay and has Babylon as provenance. It is rendered below in the translation of Da Riva (2013: 62).


When I was young, although I was the son of a nobody, I constantly sought in the sanctuaries of my lords Nabû and Marduk. My mind was preoccupied with the establishment of their cultic ordinances and the complete performance of their rituals. My attention was directed towards justice and equity. Šazu, the lord who knows the hearts of the gods of heaven and the underworld, who observes regularly the clever behaviour(?) of the people, perceived my intentions and placed me, me the insignificant (one) who was not even noticed among the people, in the highest position in the country in which I was born. He called me to the lordship over land and people.


In the above passage, Nabopolassar firstly and humbly states that he was just a “son of a nobody”. Irrespective of this social obstacle, he seeked to attend to the Babylonian gods Nabu and Marduk in their sanctuaries. He focused on their cultic ordinances and rituals, and cherished justice and equity (as his ethics?). Nabopolassar then relates that the god Shazu discovered his character and deeds, and that this god installed him on the Babylonian throne, despite the fact that Nabopolassar was just an “insignificant one”.


[End of quotes]


Already back in 1845, George Montagu (6th duke of Manchester) had come to the conclusion (in The times of Daniel, chronological and prophetical) that Nabopolassar was Esarhaddon (p. 215):


Let us now suppose that Syncellus was correct in his testimony regarding the identity of … Sardanapalus with Nabopulassar [Nabopolassar] ….


The acuteness of Volney’s penetration, and the profoundness of Heeren’s judgment, alike decide in favour of Sardanapalus having been Esarhaddon …. The former quotes from Mar Iblas, transmitted by Moses of Cherone to prove that Sardanapalus could have been none other than Esarhaddon; and both trace some similarity in the name, making Sardan a contraction of Esar Haddon; and, having the addition of Pul, it makes Esar the lord son of Pul. If, then, Sardanapalus was Nabopolassar, and Esarhaddon was Sardanapalus, then Esarhaddon was Nabopolassar.

[End of quote]


According to M. West, The East Face of Helicon : West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth (p. 251): “Esarhaddon, Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar, and Nabonidus all made temples ‘shine like the sun’ or ‘like the radiance of the sun’.”

These four names belong to only two separate kings in my revision, which (as said previously) also identifies Nebuchednezzar II with Nabonidus.


If the combined testimony of Syncellus and Mar Iblas is correct in identifying Sardanapalus-with-Nabopolassar-with-Esarhaddon, then Nabopolassar’s famed supposed taking of Nineveh in 612 BC, bringing destruction to Nineveh, must be an historical confusion with Esarhaddon’s taking of Nineveh after the death of Sennacherib.

This is a very murky period indeed.

According to:


An ancient account called The Fall of Nineveh Chronicle reveals an account of this time period, providing firsthand, extra-biblical documentation. The translation (with some missing text) reads as follows:

“The king of Akkad mustered his army and marched to Assyria. The king of the Medes marched towards the king of Akkad and they met one another at […]u. The king of Akkad and his army crossed the Tigris; Cyaxares had to cross the Radanu, and they marched along the bank of the Tigris. In the month Simanu [May/June], the Nth day, they encamped against Nineveh.

“From the month Simanu until the month Âbu [July/August] -for three months- they subjected the city to a heavy siege. On the Nth day of the month Âbu they inflicted a major defeat upon a great people. At that time Sin-šar-iškun, king of Assyria, died. They carried off the vast booty of the city and the temple and turned the city into a ruin heap The [lacuna] of Assyria escaped from the enemy and, to save his life, seized the feet of the king of Akkad.

“On the twentieth day of the month Ulûlu [14 September 612] Cyaxares and his army went home.” (From

Based on this account, it is clear that the siege of Nineveh came at the hands of the king of Akkad and the king of Media during the summer of 612 B.C. Three months later, the city fell. The king of Assyria died, and the city was plundered until September 14 when the invading army departed. By 605 B.C. the Assyrian Kingdom officially ended, and Babylonia was on the rise.

[End of quote]


Esarhaddon marched on Nineveh, fomenting a civil war

( “[Esarhaddon] returned to the capital of Nineveh in forced marches and defeated his rival brothers in six weeks of civil war. He was formally declared king in the spring of 681 BC. His brothers fled the land, and their followers and families were put to death”.


Esarhaddon immediately re-built Babylon after its vengeful destruction by his father, Sennacherib. Nabopolassar greatly built in Babylon.

About Esarhaddon and Babylon, we read (


Esarhaddon … is best known for re-building Babylon (which his father had destroyed) and for his military campaigns in Egypt. An avid follower of astrology, he consulted oracles on a regular basis throughout his reign, far more than any other Assyrian king. He claimed the gods had ordained him to restore Babylon ….

Reign & Restoration of Babylon


Among his first decrees was the restoration of Babylon.  In his inscription he writes:


Great king, mighty monarch, lord of all, king of the land of Assur, ruler of Babylon, faithful shepherd, beloved of Marduk, lord of lords, dutiful leader, loved by Marduk’s Consort Zurpanitum, humble, obedient, full of praise for their strength and awestruck from his earliest days in the presence of their divine greatness [am I, Esarhaddon]. When in the reign of an earlier king there were ill omens, the city offended its gods and was destroyed at their command. It was me, Esarhaddon, whom they chose to restore everything to its rightful place, to calm their anger, to assuage their wrath. You, Marduk, entrusted the protection of the land of Assur to me. The Gods of Babylon meanwhile told me to rebuild their shrines and renew the proper religious observances of their palace, Esagila. I called up all my workmen and conscripted all the people of Babylonia. I set them to work, digging up the ground and carrying the earth away in baskets (Kerrigan, 34).


Esarhaddon carefully distanced himself from his father’s reign and, especially, from the destruction of Babylon. … in his inscriptions concerning Babylon he is simply the king whom the gods have ordained to set things right. Sennacherib is only referenced as “an earlier king” in a former time. The propaganda worked, in that there is no record that he was associated in any way with the destruction of the city, only with the re-building. His inscriptions also claim that he personally participated in the restoration project. The historian Michael Kerrigan comments on this, writing:


Esarhaddon believed in leading from the front, taking a central role in what we nowadays call the `groundbreaking ceremony’ for the new Esagila. Once the damaged temple had been demolished and its site fully cleared, he says, “I poured libations of the finest oil, honey, ghee, red wine, white wine, to instil respect and fear for the power of Marduk in the people. I myself picked up the first basket of earth, raised it on to my head, and carried it” (35).


He rebuilt the entire city, from the temples to the temple complexes to the homes of the people and the streets and, to make sure everyone would remember their benefactor, inscribed the bricks and stones with his name. The historian Susan Wise Bauer writes:


He wrote his own praises into the very roads underfoot: scores of the bricks that paved the approach to the great temple complex of Esagila were stamped, “For the god Marduk, Esarhaddon, king of the world, king of Assyria and Babylon, made the processional way of Esagila and Babylon shine with baked bricks from a ritually pure kiln (401).


Although the prophecies concerning the re-building of Babylon had said that the city would not be restored for 70 years, Esarhaddon manipulated the priests to read the prophecy as eleven years. He did this by having them read the cuneiform number for 70 upside down so that it meant eleven, which was exactly the number of years he had planned for the restoration. Since he maintained a life-long interest in astrology and prophecy, it has seemed strange to some scholars that he would manipulate the priests in this way and discredit the integrity of the oracles. It seems clear, however, that he had a very clear vision for his reign and, even though he did believe in the signs from the gods, he was not going to allow that belief to stand in the way of achieving his objectives.

[End of quote]


About Nabopolassar and Babylon, we read in Patrick Hunt’s article, “King Nabopolassar, Ancient Babylonian “Archaeologist”?


Most readers of history will recall how the mighty juggernaut Assyria finally fell at the hands of the rebel Babylonians and how Nineveh was sacked in 612 BCE at the able hands of Nabopolassar, Babylon’s new warlord king. Fewer readers know he rebuilt temples in his spare time after carefully studying plans and foundations, examining records in his archives and surveying ancient sites. Whether it was for religious motivation or intellectual curiosity, he was clearly careful in studying the Mesopotamian past. How could King Nabopolassar of Babylon be considered an “archaeologist” given that the discipline as we know it is barely a few hundreds of years old? Yet certain aspects of habitual behavior can indeed reflect interest in what we can term “archaeological” even millennia past.


After consolidating his liberated Babylon, Nabopolassar set about rebuilding sacred precincts and temples of his patron gods, especially Marduk and Nabu. The best record of his rebuilding is found in a small but highly legible clay cylinder in Emory University’s Carlos Museum now known as the Nabopolassar Cylinder, 9.8 cm in length and with three columns and 102 lines of writing, technically described as a foundation inscription because it was placed in a traditional context of a restored temple foundation. [2]


Here are the pertinent lines that best describe his “archaeological” work:


“When I was young, although the son of a nobody, I constantly sought out the temples of Nabu and Marduk, my patrons…shrines, walls and temples… which had weakened and collapsed because of age; whose walls had been taken away because of rain and deluge; whose foundations had heaped up and accumulated into a mound of ruins—I mustered Enlil’s, Shamash, and Marduk’s troops. I had them use the hoe and imposed the basket of conscription on them. From the bank of the Arhtu canal, on the lower side near the Urash gate, I removed its accumulated debris, surveyed and examined its old foundations, and laid its brickwork in the original place. I established its base on the edge of the underworld. I surrounded the east bank with a mighty mountainous belt….I Nabopolassar, the one who discovers (inscribed) bricks from the past, the one who implements the work on the original, eternal foundations, the one who wields the hoe of the Igigi.”  [3]

In unusual humility for a king, several times on the cylinder Nabopolassar has his scribes mention he was a nobody and anonymous before the gods raised him to leadership. In return, his devotion also restored the civic pride of Babylon. The restored and rebuilt temples, sacred enclosures and shrines in his inscription include those of Ishtar, Ninurta, Enlil, Ea and others. The Igigi were Babylonian heavenly deities thought to be mostly involved in supervising the digging canals, moats and related hydrology irrigation functions. Sometimes rebellious, as in the Atra-Hasis flood myth, they may number from 10-300.

The universal archaeological tasks involved in Nabopolassar’s inventory are carefully ordered. First, he details the fallen condition: 1) which had weakened and collapsed because of age”;  2) “whose walls had been taken away because of rain and deluge”;  3) “whose foundations had heaped up and accumulated into a mound of ruins”.   Therefore, Nabopolassar could recognize the aged weathering of ancient brickwork no longer capable of structural weight-bearing load and knew that unfired brick in particular would dissolve back to mud after long-term exposure to rain and excess water. What he found as ruins he knew had prior historic use.

Second, Nabopolassar’s plan was to utilize tools and forced labor to lay bear the buried remains after faithfully establishing their contexts: 4) I had them use the hoe and imposed the basket of conscription on them. From the bank of the Arhtu canal, on the lower side near the Urash gate, 5)  I removed its accumulated debris. Here, Nabopolassar demonstrates that the remains were partly subsurface and required excavation due to accumulation through time.

Third, Nabopolassar’s seemingly most exacting archaeological task involved quantitative topographical analyses and careful recording:  6) surveyed and 7)  examined its old foundations  8) and laid its brickwork in the original place. To an archaeologist, these phrases of Nabopolassar leap out because this is exactly how the discipline operates by stratigraphic and mathematical principles to make sure survey benchmarks and cardinal directions are recorded in order to contextualize remains.  His use of “examined” demonstrates careful observation.

Finally, Naboplassar summarizes his findings and records them for an unknown posterity on this clay cylinder and identifies himself as the project director responsible for the work:  9) I, Nabopolassar, the one who discovers (inscribed) bricks from the past,  10) the one who implements the work on the original.  By claiming the “discovery” as something from the “past”, Nabopolassar also makes sure he doesn’t just abandon the remains but also “implements” the restoration on the “original foundations”.

By precedent, was Nabopolassar first and foremost a logical military leader who could take down Nineveh by utilizing similar advance careful observation, planning and strategy? Regardless of whether or not his archaeological work was done for religious reasons to please the gods he claimed gave him his reign and apparently secured his Neo-Babylonian dynasty, Nabopolassar’s Cylinder gives us the best evidence for carefully contexted and recorded material history over 2,500 years ago, just about 2,350 years before archaeology became a scientific and historical discipline. Was Nabopolassar thus history’s first known archaeologist?


“I received the tribute of Joash (Iu’asu), of the land Samaria,

of the land Tyre, of the land Sidon”.


Adad-Nirari III



Earlier, I quoted from an article by Joseph Ignatius Hunt: “…Nabopolassar … is not mentioned in the Bible, but he may have been on good terms with Josiah of Judah (ca.  640-609) …”.

True, Nabopolassar “is not mentioned in the Bible” under that particular name. However, according to my reconstruction of the Neo-Assyro/Babylonian kings, Nabopolassar does figure in the Bible under the name of “Esarhaddon”.

Now, in the present scheme of things, it is quite impossible that the C7th BC Esarhaddon (died c. 669 BC) “could have been”, to quote Hunt, “on good terms with Josiah of Judah (ca.  640-609) …”. But my revised shrinkage of Neo-Assyrian into early Babylonian (Chaldean) history does now open up the possibility that Esarhaddon “may have been on good terms with Josiah of Judah … “.

The potent king, Esarhaddon, conventionally estimated to have had only about a dozen years of reign (c. 681 BC – 669 BC), has his reign more than doubled when, in my revised scheme:


Re-shuffling the pack of neo-Assyrian kings


he is connected to his alter ego (as I believe him to be), Adad-nirari III (c. 811 BC to 783 BC, conventional dating).

The length of reign conventionally accredited to Nabopolassar, Esarhaddon’s other alter ego (see Part Two (ii) of this present series), c. 626 BC – 605 BC, lies mid-way between the two.

It is with this combination (Adad-nirari III = Esarhaddon = Nabopolassar) in mind that I would now like briefly to re-consider the Tell al-Rimah Stele of Adad-nirari III, according to the relevant part of which the Assyrian king received the tribute with the biblical-like name, Iu’asu of the land of Samaria:


“To the god Adad, son of the god Anu, Adad-narari [III], king of Assyria, son of Samsi-Adad (V), son of Shalmaneser (III), I mustered my chariotry, troops, army. In one year I subdued the entire Amurru [Turkey] & Hatti [Syria, Israel]. I imposed tax & tribute of Mari [Ben-Hadad III], the Damascene. I received the tribute of Joash (Iu’asu), of Samaria, (and) of the people of Tyre (and) Sidon. … At that time I decreed for Nergal-eris, governor, the land of Hindanu.”


The original Assyrian inscription names this king, supposedly Jehoash of Israel, as follows (


ma-da-tu ša miu- a-su2 KUR sa-me-ri-na-a-a KUR ur-a-a KUR i-du-na-a-a


Stephanie Page transliterates the name as “Ia’asu” (“A Stela of Adad-nirari III and Nergal-ereš from Tell al Rimah”, Iraq 30, No. 2, Autumn, 1968).

Could this king, Iu’asu, or Ia’asu, have been the like-named king Josiah of Judah?


Tribute from a biblical King?


The most famous Josiah is actually called יאשיהו, Josiahu, spelled יאושיהו in Jeremiah 27:1 only. (


Could Adad-nirari III’s tribute payer, Iu’asu (Ia’asu) have been Josiahu (Iosiahu = Iu’asu)?


He could not have been according to the conventional allocation of the neo-Assyrian king Adad-nirari III to the late C9th BC, to the time of king Jehoahaz of Israel (815 BC – 801 BC; var., 814 BC – 798 BC).

Though Stephanie Page has presented a strong linguistic case for Adad-nirari III’s “Ia’asu” having been Jehoash, son of Jehoahaz, of Israel, “despite the chronological evidence”. Ignoring her discussion of the latter, since she follows the conventional dating of Shalmaneser III to the time of kings Ahab and Jehu of Israel, which I now reject (see my):


Black Obelisk Decoded


Page will go on to write of the linguistic aspect:


Ia’asu of Samaria



According to this reckoning, Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, is to be identified with the Ia-‘a-su of the Rimah text, since he was king of Israel in Samaria in 8o6 which is the date suggested above for the Rimah stela. But the conclusion cannot rest without an examination of the phonetic evidence. When a West Semitic or Hebrew word is written in cuneiform Akkadian, there are certain consonantal changes that occur regularly. One of these changes is from Hebrew shin to Akkadian s …. Another regular rule is that written in Akkadian, in cases where cuneiform is not ambiguous. The za sign can also be read sa, the az sign as. Ha-(aZ)-Za-at-a-a rT.;t7 Gu-za-na Ha-za-‘ -il Ia-u-a-tib Az-ri-a-u Ha-Za-qi-ia-u r’rpTF A third piece of evidence is that during Tiglath-Pileser III’s reign, king Jehoahaz of Judah was spelt in Akkadian Ia-u-ha-zi. These three factors are a strong influence against identifying Ia-‘a-su on the Rimah stele with Jehoahaz son of Jehu, despite the chronological evidence. The name Jehoash, abbreviated to Joash for both the king of Judah and the king of Israel who bore that name, is therefore a more convincing candidate for Ia’asu. Not only does the sibilant behave according to rule, but also the he rightly disappears in Akkadian, whereas a heth would have stood firm.


[End of quote]


My greatly revised Adad-nirari III fits chronologically with king Josiah of Judah, and the latter’s name is a tolerably good transliteration of the Akkadian name, Iu’asu (Ia’asu).

Whether King Josiah of Judah, as we know him, could also qualify as belonging to the land of Samaria (sa-me-ri-na-a-a) now becomes the relevant consideration.

Simply put, I think that he could thus qualify considering that, according to the Jewish Virtual Library article below, “Josiah not only acted as the king of a completely independent Judah, but his kingdom extended northward into the erstwhile Assyrian provinces of Samaria (II Kings 23:19)”. That particular biblical text reads: “Now Josiah also took away all the shrines of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger; and he did to them according to all the deeds he had done in Bethel”.


JOSIAH (Heb. יׁאושִׁיּהוּ ,יׁאשִׁיָּהוּ), son of Amon, king of Judah (640–609 B.C.E.). When his father was assassinated, Josiah, then only eight years old, was proclaimed king. His reign was marked by a great national revival, and the author of the Book of Kings in evaluating Josiah says: “Before him there was no king like him … nor did any like him arise after him” (II Kings 23:25; cf. II Kings 18:5 in connection with Hezekiah, the forerunner of Josiah). Josiah not only acted as the king of a completely independent Judah, but his kingdom extended northward into the erstwhile Assyrian provinces of Samaria (II Kings 23:19). Archaeological discoveries in the 1960s brought to light new facts about Josiah’s expansion. Following archaeological findings in *Yavneh-Yam (cf. Naveh, in bibl.), it became quite clear that Josiah established feudal estates on the shore of Philistia. Unwalled settlements of the time of Josiah were discovered in the south and east of Gaza (Gophna, in bibl.). In the eastern part of Judah, excavations uncovered the town of En-Gedi (cf. Josh. 15:62), which had been founded at the time of Josiah as a balsam plantation of the king (Mazar and Dunayewski, in bibl.). During Josiah’s reign, Jerusalem developed greatly, and it is at this time that a new wall was built on the western slopes of the city, and new quarters (Mishneh and Maktesh) were constructed which served mainly as industrial and commercial centers. Remains of buildings and walls discovered in the Jewish quarter of Old Jerusalem prove that the city expanded even more to the west. The extent of Judah’s expansion in this period may be deduced from the list of Ezra 2 (= Neh. 7), where Beth-El and Jericho (previously Ephraimite cities), on the one hand, and the cities of the coastal plain Lydda and Ono, on the other, are considered part of Judah. The borders of Judah as presented in this list undoubtedly go back to the times of Josiah and remained the same until the destruction of Jerusalem. According to A. Alt (in bibl.), the lists of the cities of Judah, Simeon, Dan, and Benjamin in Joshua 15, 18, and 19 also reflect the Josianic administrative reorganization of Judah. Though one has to take into account previous organizations by *Jehoshaphat and *Hezekiah which might be reflected in these lists, there is no doubt that the final formulation of these lists was done in the Josianic period; this may be corroborated by the archaeological evidence cited above. These lists actually cover the area of Josiah’s rule: Ekron, Ashdod, and Gaza in the coastal zone (Josh. 15:45–47), Beth-El and Geba al-Tell, 22 mi. (35 km.) to the north of Jerusalem (according to Mazar) in the north, En-Gedi and the other towns of Joshua 15:61–62 in the east, and the Simeonite settlements in the south. The stamped jar handles with the inscription למלך and the inscribed weights characteristic of this period may serve as a good indication of the scope of Josiah’s dominion. These have been found not only in the area of the Kingdom of Judah but also in Acre, Shechem, Ashdod, Gezer, etc. This territorial expansion was accompanied by a religious upsurge, which found expression mainly in: (1) the cultic reform, including both the purification of worship (in Judah as well as in the northern areas) and the centralization of the legitimate worship in Jerusalem; (2) the publication and authorization of the “Book of the Torah” (see *Deuteronomy) discovered in the 18th year of the reign of Josiah, i.e., 622 B.C.E., which ultimately turned the book into the main vehicle of the Jewish religion ….


Part Three: Comparing Ashurbanipal

and Nebuchednezzar II (= Nabonidus)



“The representations in the Book of Daniel of Nebuchadnezzar’s greatness are doubtless correct; and there is reason for believing that he was the great builder and glorifier of his capital. He was succeeded by his son Evil-merodach”.


Jewish Encyclopedia




Answering the questions posed


“Nebuchadnezzar”, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia’s E. Hirsch, I. Price, W. Bacher and Louis Ginzberg ( was the “son of Nabopolassar; became king of Babylon in 604 B.C. as Assyria was on the decline; died 561. His name, either in this spelling or in the more correct form, Nebuchadrezzar (from the original, “Nabu-kudurri-uṣur” = “Nebo, defend my boundary”), is found more than ninety times in the Old Testament”.

This immediately answers one of the questions that I posed right at the beginning of this series:


Is Ashurbanipal mentioned in the Bible?


presuming that, of course, my theory turns out to be correct about identifying Ashurbanipal as Nebuchednezzar II, whose “name [is] found more than ninety times in the Old Testament”. Nevertheless, I took the liberty of anticipating the answer to this, when I added:


Ashurbanipal is well and truly mentioned in various books of the Scriptures.


Furthermore, my proposed identification of these two great entities, Ashurbanipal and Nebuchednezzar, as one, ought to be able to accommodate another of my four questions:


How to account for the surprising gaps in the history of Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’?


especially given my further identification of this Nebuchednezzar with Nabonidus.  

Holes in the record regarding Nebuchednezzar’s activities in Egypt, fully attested in the Bible, can be adequately filled up by the extensive accounts of campaigns there by Ashurbanipal.  


Again, an identification of Ashurbanipal as Nebuchednezzar II necessitates that the latter, a “son of Nabopolassar” – as we read in the Jewish Encyclopedia quote above – shared the same father as Ashurbanipal, Esarhaddon, thereby making Nebuchednezzar a son of Esarhaddon.


We continue to read from Ginzberg et al: “Nebuchadnezzar’s first notable act was the overthrow of the Egyptian army under Necho at the Euphrates in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jer. xlvi. 2)”.

Whilst this pharaoh is conventionally classified as Necho (Neco) II, it is most interesting – but no longer surprising in light of my revision – that Ashurbanipal’s Egyptian contemporary was also a pharaoh Necho, conventionally numbered I. And he, too, was initially hostile to the Mesopotamian king, leading a revolt against him (


The princes, led by Necho, Sharruludari, and Paqruru, were discovered to be intriguing with Taharqa; their cities were severely punished, and the two chief culprits sent to Nineveh for punishment. Ashurbanipal determined to try a new policy similar to that employed for Babylon; he pardoned Necho and returned him as a kind of vassal ruler of Assyrian Egypt, sustained by Assyrian troops.


This brings us close to answering a third question that I had posed at the beginning:


Were there two pharaohs Necho (Neco), or only one?


The answer to which I had also anticipated:


There was only one Pharaoh Necho, as we shall find,

thereby continuing our radical revision of the Egyptian dynasties.


But that is not all with pharaonic ‘duplicates’.

Common to, now Ashurbanipal, now Nebuchednezzar, was a Psammetichus, I, in the first case, and II, in the second. ‘Each’ was a son, respectively, of the pharaohs Necho I, II.

And so we read (


Ashurbanipal then made Psammetichus full Pharaoh of Egypt, equipped him with Assyrian garrisons stationed at strategic points, and then again returned to Assyria in 665 BCE. Between 665 and 657 BCE he put down a rebellion in Tyre, fought the Elamites, led his army through Anatolia to re-conquer the people of Tabal, and subdued the kingdom of Urartu which had again risen to threaten Assyrian interests. While he was engaged in these campaigns, Egypt was slowly slipping from his grasp.

…. Psammetichus was not content to rule as an Assyrian puppet and so began to assert his independence by making deals with various Egyptian governors and courting the favor of Gyges, the king of Lydia in Anatolia. In 653 BCE, with the help of the Lydians, Psammetichus drove the Assyrian troops out of Egypt and established his new capital at the city of Sais. Although news of this revolt was brought to Ashurbanipal’s attention, there is no record that he returned to Egypt to do anything about it. Elam, Assyria’s old enemy, was causing problems closer to home and Ashurbanipal considered that a priority.


Whilst, in the case of Nebuchednezzar and his Psammetichus, so-called II, relations are generally portrayed as having been peaceful, Dan’el Kahn (University of Haifa) gives this rather different assessment of it in his article, “The Foreign Policy of Psammetichus II in the Levant”:


According to Kitchen, Psammetichus’ policy in the Levant was as follows: “Necho II and Psammetichus II prudently declined any further direct confrontations with Babylon… Following his Nubian victory, Psammetichus II was content to show the flag in Philistia and by his Byblos visitation maintain ordinary Egyptian relations in Phoenicia… By contrast, Apries (589-570 B.C.) foolishly abandoned restraint…”.

Hornung states the following: “The king (i.e. Psammetichus II) maintained peace with the great power of Babylon and evidently avoided interfering in the affairs of Palestine. Immediately after taking the throne, however, his young son Apries (589-570 B.C.E.),… supported the Judean king, Zedekiah, and the Phoenician cities in their break with Nebuchadnezzar.”

The above generally peaceful evaluations of Psammetichus II’s relations with Babylonia and its vassals, Judah and the Phoenician states, or rather the deliberate avoidance of military contact with the Babylonians, is commonly held by most Egyptologists and scholars of the Ancient Near East.

Some just do not mention any policy of Psammetichus towards the Levant, while others claim that Egypt instigated Jerusalem to rebel against Babylonia, which was part of an anti-Babylonian coalition already in 594, or that Psammetichus’ Expedition to Byblos and the Phoenician coast (in592-591 B.C.) impressed the kingdoms in the Levant and raised the hopes of liberation from the Babylonian enslavement.

First, let us survey the evidence for the Babylonian policy towards the Levant preceding the days of Psammetichus II and during his reign in Egypt.


1.Babylonia and the Levant


The Extent and Success of the Babylonian Campaigns to the Levant 


Due to a lack of historical-military writing-tradition in the Neo-Babylonian Empire, Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C.) was described by scholars until 1956 as a king who had devoted his main energy to the building and restoration of his country. This evaluation of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign dramatically changed in 1956, when the Babylonian Chronicle, which covers the first eleven years of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, was published. From that moment on he appears as a great warrior and in studies about his reign special attention is devoted to his military achievements.

In the preserved accounts in the Babylonian Chronicle of the years that correspond to those preceding the reign of Psammetichus II and to his reign (598-594 B.C.) several campaigns to the Levant were mentioned. In 598 (year 7) Jerusalem was captured and its king deported. In 597 (year 8) he went to Hattu (the area west of the Euphrates, which included in the 7th century B.C. in the North the Neo-Hittite states in Anatolia and Philistia in the South). In 596 (year 9) Nebuchadnezzar advanced along the Tigris toward an encounter with the Elamite army. The king of Elam took fright and he went home. In 595 (year 10) Nebuchadnezzar stayed home most of the year. In the months of Kislev and Tebeth (15.12.595-12.2.594) there was ‘a rebellion in Babylonia,’ which was quelled. Thereafter he marched to Hattu, received vast booty and returned to Babylonia. In 594 (year 11), the last year preserved in the chronicle, Nebuchadnezzar and his army marched to Hattu in Kislev (4.12.594-2.1.593).

Thus, Nebuchadnezzar campaigned victoriously during five years. Four victories in Hattu and in the fifth year Elam retreated without a fight.

This evaluation of Nebuchadnezzar as a great warrior influenced also the views of scholars in Egyptian history of the 26th Dynasty, when describing Psammetichus II’s policy in relation to that of Nebuchadnezzar’s achievements in the Levant.

When taking a closer look at the Babylonian sources, Eph’al opted for a different picture.

Nebuchadnezzar was defeated in Egypt in year 4 (601 B.C.), and stayed at home in year 5 (600) ‘refitting his numerous horses and chariotry.’

…. the only Babylonian military campaign reaching the Southern Levant since the Babylonian setback in the winter of 601-600 B.C. was the campaign against Jerusalem in 598/7 B.C., which surrendered without a fight. It is possible, however, that in the campaign of 598/7 Nebuchadnezzar did achieve military victory and destroyed Gaza and Eqron, the remaining kingdoms of Philistia, and that Egypt lost its holding in the Southern Levant (II Kings, 24:7).

…. Even if one does not want to accept the revisionist view forwarded by Eph’al, there is no evidence for a Babylonian campaign to the southern Levant between 597 B.C. and 588 B.C. Furthermore, the events in Nebuchadnezzar’s regnal years 10 and 11 (595, 594 B.C.) were serious enough to create unrest in Babylon and in Judah (see below). Nebuchadnezzar had to stabilize the Babylonian heartland, and for several years could not quell rebellions at the remote ends of his Empire. Thus, Psammetichus II did not have to fear the Babylonian army for it was not in the vicinity; neither did he have to confront them or steer up unrest against them in his early years.

Psammetichus definitely did not avoid contact with the Babylonian army deliberately, for it was not there. Psammetichus could slip into the Babylonian power-vacuum almost without confrontation.

…. Psammetichus campaigned against Kush in his third regnal year (593 B.C.).

The Egyptian army destroyed Kerma (Pnoubs), and reached Napata and may have burnt the Kushite king in his palace. Psammetichus II’s army was composed of Egyptian and foreign (Carian, Ionian, Dorian, and Phoenician) troops. According to the letter of (Pseudo) Aristeas to Philokrates (ca. 2/1 c. B.C.) … Judean soldiers were sent to the aid of Psammetichus to fight with his armies against the king of the Kushites. If it was Zedekiah who sent his troops to aid Psammetichus II against Kush in 593, a shift in Judah’s alliance towards Egypt must have occurred prior to the “anti-Babylonian conference” in Judah. In this case, Egypt must have acted in the Levant before 593. A Judean king would not have sent his forces to aid the enemy of his Babylonian overlord, without being convinced that the adventure is worth the risk, or without having another choice.

[End of quote]

The answer, in part, to the other question of the four that I had posed:


How to accommodate, chronologically, king Manasseh of Judah’s reign of 55 years?


seemingly an insurmountable problem considering the length of his reign, must now also take into account that Esarhaddon, whom I have identified as Nabopolassar, had overcome king Manasseh of Judah (


After Sidon’s fall twelve kings along the Mediterranean seacoast submitted to the Assyrians and were forced to supply wood and stone for the king’s palace in Nineveh. Among these was “Manasi king of Yaudi,” the Manasseh of the Bible. Manasseh had little choice. The Assyrian Empire had now reached its greatest power; and it appears that most of the Judean citizenry preferred peaceful submission, even with the Assyrian pagan influences now imposed on them, to constant abortive rebellion. Manasseh’s summons to appear before an Assyrian king, mentioned in 2Chr.33.11-2Chr.33.13, probably took place in the reign of Esarhaddon’s successor, Ashurbanipal.

[End of quote]


Yet, we know the names of the kings of Judah at the time of Nebuchednezzar, and none of these was “Manasseh”. The Jewish Encyclopedia tells of these various kings:


It is entirely reasonable to suppose that at the same time [Nebuchednezzar] descended upon Palestine and made Jehoiakim his subject (II Kings xxiv. 1). This campaign took place in 605.

The next year Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylon; and he ruled for forty-three years, or until 561. Jehoiakim served him for three years, and then rebelled. He doubtless incited the neighboring tribes (ib. verse 2) to persecute Judah and bring its king to respect his oath. In 598 Nebuchadnezzar himself came westward, took Jehoiakim (II Chron. xxxvi. 6) and probably slew him, casting out his dead body unburied (Jer. xxii. 19, xxxvi. 30), and carried captive to Babylon 3,023 Jews (Jer. lii. 28). He placed Jehoiachin, the dead king’s son, on the throne. Three months were sufficient to prove Jehoiachin’s character (Ezek. xix. 5-9). He was taken with 10,000 of the best of the people of Jerusalem and carried to Babylon. His uncle Mattaniah, whose name was changed to Zedekiah, was put on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar in 597.

Egypt was continually intriguing with southwestern Asia, and was now courting the friendship of Zedekiah. This became so noticeable that Judah’s king made a journey to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign (Jer. li. 59), probably to assure Nebuchadnezzar of his loyalty to him. But by the ninth year of his reign Zedekiah became so friendly with the Egyptians that he made a league with them and thereupon rebelled against the King of Babylon. With due despatch Nebuchadnezzar and his army left for the Westland. He placed his base of action at Riblah in the north, and went southward and laid siege to Jerusalem. By some message the Egyptians learned of the siege and hastily marched to the relief of the beleaguered ally. The Babylonians raised the siege (Jer. xxxvii. 3-5) long enough to repulse the Egyptian arms, and came back and settled about Jerusalem. At the end of eighteen months (586) the wall yielded. Zedekiah and his retinue fled by night, but were overtaken in the plains of the Jordan. The king and his sons were brought before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah; the sons were slain, and the king’s eyes bored out; and he was carried in chains to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar caused Jerusalem to be destroyed, and the sacred vessels of the Temple to be carried to Babylon. He placed Gedaliah in authority over the Jews who remained in the land. In the twenty-third year of his reign Nebuchadnezzar’s captain of the guard carried away 745 Jews, who had been gathered from those scattered through the land. Nebuchadnezzar entered Egypt also (Jer. xlvi. 13-26; Ezek. xxix. 2-20), according to his own inscriptions about 567, and dealt a severe blow to its supremacy and power.

The representations in the Book of Daniel of Nebuchadnezzar’s greatness are doubtless correct; and there is reason for believing that he was the great builder and glorifier of his capital. He was succeeded by his son Evil-merodach.

[End of quote]


Despite all of this, there is some biblical indication that the wicked Manasseh’s reign was not all that far distant from the Babylonian Captivity. According to Jeremiah 15:4: “I will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem”.

By then, in the Babylonian (Chaldean) era, king Manasseh of Judah ought to have been, as conventionally estimated (c. 697- 643 BC), something of a distant memory.

The solution to the problem is, I think, to overlap Manasseh’s long reign with those Judaean kings of the Babylonian era (mentioned above) in a way similar to how the reign of king Jehoiachin (Coniah) is still being considered even beyond the death of Nebuchednezzar II (Jeremiah 52:31): “In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, Evil-merodach ascended to the Babylonian throne”.

This Evil-merodach is the same king as the briefly reigning and ill-fated “King Belshazzar” of Daniel 5, the son of Nebuchednezzar himself.

Evil-merodach is also the Belshazzar who was the son of King Nabonidus (= Nebuchednezzar).



Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus

Published June 11, 2017 by amaic
Image result for ashurbanipal



 Damien F. Mackey


Historian Paul-Alain Beaulieu (The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon 556-539BC) has identified ‘the idea of imperial continuity with Assyria, centred on the figure of Ashurbanipal’ as one of ‘the main characteristics of Nabonidus’ personality’ (p. 2).





Not surprising that we are going to find many Book of Daniel-like elements in the biography of the eccentric neo-Babylonian king, Nabonidus, if I am correct in identifying him with both Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’ and:


“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel


The likenesses between Nabonidus and the biblical king have amazed some biblically-minded writers who adhere to the conventional view that Nebuchednezzar II and Nabonidus were quite separate neo-Babylonian kings. Consider, for instance, the following extraordinary parallels rightly discerned by John A. Tvedtnes, but without his realising that this really is Daniel’s king (



Nebuchadnezzar or Nabonidus?

Mistaken Identities in the Book of Daniel


A classic example of textual errors caused by “careless transcribers” or “ignorant translators” is contained in the book of Daniel. The events chronicled in the present-day book would have originally been recorded in Hebrew, the early language of the Jews. However, the book of Daniel found in the Hebrew Bible is a combination of Hebrew and Aramaic, the language of the Jews after they returned from Babylon. From Daniel 2:4 through 7:8, the text is in Aramaic. [Dan. 2:4–7:8] It is in this middle section that we find discrepancies between the biblical text and other ancient records. These discrepancies involve the identity of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king who first subdued and then destroyed Jerusalem.


During his forty-year reign, Nebuchadnezzar ruled much of the Near East and rebuilt the great city of Babylon, replete with its hundreds of temples and its world-renowned hanging gardens. Some thirty years before his death in 561 B.C., he subdued Jerusalem (598 B.C.), taking its king, Jehoiakim, captive to Babylon and replacing him with Jehoiachin. When Jehoiachin proved disloyal, he was also deposed and replaced by his uncle, Zedekiah. When Zedekiah, too, revolted against his overlord, Nebuchadnezzar attacked the city.


In 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, taking the remainder of its people—along with many others from throughout the kingdom of Judah into captivity. (See 2 Kgs. 24–25.) One of the early Jewish captives, Daniel, won favor with the king and became known as a wise and trusted counselor.


Chapters two, three, and four of Daniel purport to contain accounts about Nebuchadnezzar. But only the first and best-known of these—the account of his dream about the great statue destroyed by a stone cut out of a mountainside—is actually about him. The stories in chapters three and four, as well as a reference in chapter five, are actually about another king named Nabonidus, not Nebuchadnezzar. [Dan. 2; Dan. 3; Dan. 4; Dan. 5]


Chapter three recounts that the king “made an image of gold … : he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.” (Dan. 3:1.) When this new idol was set up, a decree went forth that when music sounded, people were to prostrate themselves before the statue.


Chapter four tells of another dream of the king, this time about a great tree that was hewn down by order of God. [Dan. 4] Again Daniel was called upon for an interpretation. The tree, said the prophet, represented the sinful king, who would become mad, living for seven years “with the beasts of the field” and eating grass “as oxen.” (Dan. 4:23–26.) This prophecy was fulfilled when the king “was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” (Dan. 4:33.) Ultimately, the king was healed, returned to his throne, and praised God.


In chapter five, the scene changes abruptly. Here we find that “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.” (Dan. 5:1.) In verse two, he is identified as the son of Nebuchadnezzar, the king who had destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. At the feast, a finger appears, writing an ominous message on the plaster of the wall. Daniel, summoned to interpret the writing, informs the assembly that the Medes and Persians will take the kingdom.


It is this reference in chapter five that highlights the misidentification problem in the book of Daniel. Belshazzar was actually the son of Nabonidus, not of Nebuchadnezzar. And Belshazzar was never king [sic], but only crown prince.


Other ancient records establish that Belshazzar was actually Nabonidus’ son and that Belshazzar was never king—only crown prince. From the “Verse Account of Nabonidus,” preserved on a clay tablet and found at Babylon, we read a contemporary account of Nabonidus that sounds very much like the “Nebuchadnezzar” of Daniel 3–5 [Dan. 3–5]:


“His/protective deity became hostile to him,/and he, the former favorite of the gods/is now/seized by misfortunes: … against the will of the gods he performed an unholy action, … he thought out something worthless:/He had made the image of a deity/which nobody had/ever/seen in/this/country./ He introduced it into the temple/he placed/it/upon a pedestal; … he called it by the name of Nanna, … it is adorned with a … of lapis/lazuli, crowned with a tiara. …” (Pritchard, p. 313.)


The one difference between this story and the one from Daniel 3 is that the Babylonian text says the idol was made of brick, covered with gypsum and bitumin to make the facing brilliant, while the Daniel account says it was made of gold. But the ninety-foot-high statue could hardly have been made of pure gold. Continuing from the Babylonian text:


“After he had obtained what he desired, a work of utter deceit, had built/this/abomination, a work of unholiness—when the third year was about to begin he entrusted the ‘Camp’ to his oldest/son/, the firstborn, the troops everywhere in the country he ordered under his/command/. He let/everything/ go, entrusted the kingship to him and, himself, he started out for a long journey, the/military/forces of Akkad marching with him; he turned towards Tema /deep/in the west. … When he arrived there, he killed in battle the prince of Tema … and he, himself, took his residence in/Te/ma, the forces of Akkad /were also stationed/there.” (Pritchard, p. 313.)


The rest of the text becomes fragmentary, but we can discern that Nabonidus ordered the slaughter of many people in the northern Arabian town of Tema and that he enslaved large numbers of them. Column four on the tablet is in especially bad shape, but we can discern the words “The king is mad.”


This brings us to the account of “Nebuchadnezzar’s” madness in Daniel 4. The Babylonian accounts do not mention that Nebuchadnezzar became mad. But it is well known that Nabonidus did. Records kept by the Babylonian priests confirm Nabonidus’s temporary madness in the wilderness of Tema. The records show that Nabonidus “stayed in Tema” at least from the seventh through eleventh years of his reign, leaving “the crown prince, the officials and the army” in Babylonia. During this time, the New Year festival, over which only the king could preside, was omitted.




The Dead Sea scrolls found at Qumran in 1948 confirm that Nabonidus, not Nebuchadnezzar, was the mad king. A fragmentary document titled “The Prayer of Nabonidus” tells of a king NBNY (Hebrew uses no vowels) who, while at Tema, was diseased by the God of Israel. A Jewish adviser (no doubt Daniel) counsels him to honor God, reminding him, “Thou has been smitten with this noisesome fever … for seven years because thou hast been praying to gods of silver and stone, which gods are but stock and stone, mere clay.” (Theodore H. Gaster, The Dead Sea Scriptures, 3d ed., Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press/ Doubleday, 1976, p. 537.)


The fact that the gods of silver and gold were actually made of stock and stone might indicate gold or silver plating, which could identify the brick idol of Nabonidus with the gold idol mentioned in the book of Daniel.




How could such apparent errors have crept into the sacred record? ….


[End of quote]


My answer: Conventional neo-Babylonian history, and not the Book of Daniel, is at fault.


The great Assyrian ruler, Ashurbanipal, who so significantly influenced king Nabonidus, has certain features that also may remind one of Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar” – so much so, in fact, that I had initially wondered about exploring an identification of the two.

I had then written:


Nabonidus is somewhat like an Assyrian king. He adopts Assyrian titulature and boasts of having the Assyrian kings as his “royal ancestors”. There is nothing particularly strange about his supposed long stay in Teima in Arabia. This was a typical campaign region adopted by the neo-Assyrian kings. There is nothing particularly remarkable about his desire to restore the Ehulhul temple of Sin in Harran. Ashurbanipal did that.

Nabonidus is said to have had two major goals, to restore that Sin temple and to establish the empire of Babylon along the lines of the neo-Assyrians. Once again, Ashurbanipal is particularly mentioned as being his inspiration.

Nabonidus was not singular in not taking the hand of Bel in Babylon for many years, due to what he calls the impiety of the Babylonians. Ashurbanipal (and now you will notice that he keeps turning up) could not shake the hand of Bel after his brother Shamash-shum-ukin had revolted against him, barring Babylon, Borsippa, etc. to him. He tells us this explicitly.

Nabonidus is not singular either in not expecting to become king. Ashurbanipal had felt the same.

…. They share many Babylonian building works and restorations, too.

…. Ashurbanipal of 41-43 years of reign (figures vary) … Nebuchednezzar II the Great of an established 43 years of reign.


The great Nebuchednezzar has left only 4 known depictions of himself, we are told. Ridiculous! ….

The last 35 years of Nebuchednezzar are hardly known, they say.


It is doubted whether Nebuchednezzar conquered Egypt as according to the Bible. … Ashurbanipal … certainly did conquer Egypt.

The many queries about whether an inscription belongs to Nebuchednezzar or Nabonidus now dissolves.

It was Nabonidus, not Nebuchednezzar, they say, who built the famous palace in Babylon.

Nabonidus’s well known madness (perhaps the Teima phase) is Nebuchednezzar’s madness.

Nabonidus calls Sin “the God of gods” (ilani sa ilani), the exact phrase used by Nebuchednezzar in Daniel 2:47 of Daniel’s God (“the God of gods”).

Looking for a fiery furnace? Well, Ashurbanipal has one. His brother dies in it.

“Saulmagina my rebellious brother, who made war with me, they threw into a burning fiery furnace, and destroyed his life” (Caiger, p. 176).


Oh, yes, and Belshazzar, they say, was Nabonidus’s son, not Nebuchednezzar’s son. Contrary to the Bible.

And Belshazzar was not a king, they also say.

Well he wasn’t a king while Nabonidus = Nebuchednezzar …. reigned.

But he was later. I’ll believe Daniel 5 (Writing on the Wall).


Ashurbanipal also apparently had a lions’ den.

For, according to Jonathan Grey, The Forbidden Secret (p. 102):




The biblical book of Daniel also records that the Hebrew captive Daniel was tossed into a den lions. (Daniel chapter 6)

That such ‘lion’s [sic] den’ punishment was in keeping with the times is now proven by the discovery of that same inscription of Ashurbanipal that we just mentioned. It continues thus:


The rest of the people who had rebelled they threw alive among bulls and lions, as Sennacherib my grandfather used to do. Lo, again following his footsteps, those men I threw into the midst of them.


On one occasion, as the famed excavator Marcel Dieulafoy was digging amid the ruins of Babylon, he fell into a pit that appeared like an like an ancient well. After being rescued by his companions, he proceeded with the work of identification. How astonished was he to find that the pit had been used as a cage for wild animals! And upon the curb was this inscription:


The Place of Execution, where men who angered the king died torn by wild animals.

Vespasian and Trajan

Published June 3, 2017 by amaic

Illustration of Trajan's Forum (Rome, Italy) | Radu Oltean (Bucharest), Illustrator for Kogainon Films

Imperial Rome Re-Considered



Damien F. Mackey



“Like Vespasian and Trajan’s own father, Trajan was an apt military leader, and his purging of the Praetorian Guard showed he was not in the position to be disobeyed or stabbed in the back by his own soldiers”.





This article is a tentative effort to give new revised form to a part of imperial Roman history, following on from my hinting of a possible fusion of:

Antiochus ‘Epiphanes’ and Emperor Hadrian. Part One: “… a mirror image”


and of Nero (Domitius) and Domitian. The imperial period under consideration here would be, in conventional terms, c. 54-117 AD, Nero to Trajan, the supposed predecessor of Hadrian


December 15, 37 AD, Antium, Italia Great-nephew, stepson, son-in-law and adopted son of Claudius; nephew of Caligula; great-great-nephew of Tiberius; grandson of Germanicus; great-great-grandson of Augustus October 13, 54 AD – June 9, 68 AD June 9, 68 AD
Committed suicide after being declared a public enemy by the Senate.
13 years, 7 months and 27 days

(68–96) Year of the Four Emperors and Flavian dynasty[edit]

Main articles: Year of the Four Emperors and Flavian dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
December 24 3 BC, Near Terracina, Italia Seized power after Nero‘s suicide, with support of the Spanish legions June 8, 68 AD – January 15, 69 AD January 15, 69 AD
Murdered by Praetorian Guard in coup led by Otho.
7 months and 7 days
April 28, 32 AD, Ferentinum, Italia Appointed by Praetorian Guard January 15, 69 AD – April 16, 69 AD April 16, 69 AD
Committed suicide after losing Battle of Bedriacum to Vitellius
3 months and 1 day (91 days)
September 24, 15 AD, Rome Seized power with support of German Legions (in opposition to Galba/Otho) April 17, 69 AD – December 20, 69 AD December 20, 69 AD
Murdered by Vespasian‘s troops
8 months and 3 days
November 17, 9 AD, Falacrine, Italia Seized power with the support of the eastern Legions (in opposition to Vitellius) December 21, 69 AD – June 24, 79 AD June 24, 79 AD
Natural causes
9 years, 6 months and 3 days
December 30, 39 AD, Rome Son of Vespasian June 24, 79 AD – September 13, 81 AD September 13, 81 AD
Natural causes (fever)
2 years, 2 months and 20 days
October 24, 51 AD, Rome Son of Vespasian September 14, 81 AD – September 18, 96 AD September 18, 96 AD
Assassinated by court officials
15 years and 4 days

(96–192) Nerva–Antonine dynasty[edit]

Main article: Nerva–Antonine dynasty

Portrait Name Birth Succession Reign Death Time in office
November 8, 30 AD, Narni, Italia Appointed by the Senate September 18, 96 AD – January 27, 98 AD January 27, 98 AD
Natural causes
1 year, 4 months and 9 days
September 18, 53 AD, Italica, Hispania Baetica

A new structure would go something like this:

Nero = Domitian;


Galba, Otho, Vitellius phase = Nerva period;


Vespasian = Trajan


Hadrian no longer to be regarded as following on from Trajan.


Essentially Military,

‘Ushering in a Golden Age’


Vespasian and Trajan do get compared. For example in “Augustus, Vespasian and Trajan – Comparing Emperors”, at:


The Roman Empire stood for centuries, and remains one of the greatest empires to have existed to this day. During these years, there were good emperors, and there were bad emperors. During the periods that the former reigned, the empire seemed to flourish, and during the periods where the latter reigned the primary sources are fraught with stories of trials and tribulations, unhappy populations, and general unease.

The largest problem with an autocracy like the empire of Ancient Rome lies in the fact that the empire rests in the whims of one man. If he rules well, and can master his own greed and the corruption that the power brings with it, the people will be happy and relatively docile under his rule. If the lure of power is too much, the empire can easily crumble under his fist, and autocratic though it may be, a rebellion of the majority of a population can be too much to fight.

There were many emperors who were considered ‘good’ by those who recorded their histories, as well as far too many considered ‘bad.’ This paper, however, will cover just three of these good emperors, and will focus on why they went down in the texts of Rome, as well as modern day histories, as good emperors, as well as their major accomplishments, and why they are remembered. These three emperors are Augustus, the first emperor of Rome himself, Vespasian, and Trajan, respectively.


Although Augustus was the first, he was obviously not the only good emperor that Rome had rule over it. Nero saw the ending of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, and this ending was not on a happy note. Blamed for many of Rome’s problems, including the great fire that is to this day associated with his reign, Nero was not well liked. The eventual ascension of Vespasian to the throne, after some initial conflict with finding the next emperor to reign longer than a few months, signaled the end of the Julio-Claudians, and the beginning of the Flavian dynasty, which Vespasian, along with his son Titus, would lay a mark in history as a golden age for Rome (Alston, 166). Although this golden age would be short lived, ending when Vespasian’s other son, Domitian, acquires the throne, it is an age of prosperity that is marked by both building and military accomplishments.

Vespasian came into rule at a time when war with Judea, Britain and Germany was rampant. However, instead of crumbling under the pressure of warfare, Vespasian was able to use this to his advantage. After quelling the problems in Judea, he was able to fund building projects and fighting in Britain and Germany meant expansion in the west. With the help of Titus, Vespasian was able to bring most of this warfare under control.

It was also at this time, with funds from winning the conflict with Judea, that Vespasian was able to build what could easily be considered his biggest claim in history books. The [Colosseum] was more than just a place for the gladiatorial games to take place, it was a standing reminder of what Vespasian had done. It was a monument to conquering the armies of Judea, but by building it over the lake at Nero’s palace, it was also a marker to signify the end of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty, and the reign of Nero himself. It marked an ushering in of a new sort of emperor, who did not necessarily have to be born into the highest class. Like Augustus before him, Vespasian was able to set up a sort of framework for those who followed.

Finally, the emperor Trajan took the empire to what could be considered its limits, boundary wise. Hadrian after him [sic] would build fortifications to try and hold the empire at this position, and further emperors would try and push the boundaries with little success.

Trajan was essentially one of the few untainted by the corrupt image of the reign of Domitian. His father has served in Judea with Titus, and Trajan himself had been away from Rome during the critical years of Domitian’s tyrannical rule giving him an outward appearance of trust and honesty, something the people of Rome would have needed after another poor ruler so soon after the death of Nero, even if Vespasian and Titus had ushered in a golden age before Domitian.

Like Vespasian and Trajan’s own father, Trajan was an apt military leader, and his purging of the Praetorian Guard showed he was not in the position to be disobeyed or stabbed in the back by his own soldiers. He built the Forum, a mark of his grandeur as Vespasian’s [Colosseum] before him and Hadrian’s Wall after. Most importantly, Trajan had the strength, the cunning, the expertise as well as the moral backbone to bring Rome back from the poor ruling of Domitian, and push it’s boundaries to the very limit.

When comparing these three emperors, it is hard to pick who ruled best, because even though each is considered to be one of Rome’s finest emperors, each also has his short comings, as well. ….

[End of quote]


The Dacians




…. the Dacians continued to harass Rome, an invasion in 11 or 10 bce being particularly devastating. Augustan generals gradually pushed them back from the left bank of the Danube while also settling 80,000 men within the Roman province of Moesia on the right bank. No further trouble was recorded until autumn 69 ce, when the Dacians found Moesia vulnerable after the legions had departed to fight Vitellius. After capturing a number of forts, they were beaten back by Vespasian’s general Gaius Licinius Mucianus, then on his way to Italy.




Trajan …. Known as a benevolent ruler, his reign was noted for public projects which benefitted the populace such as improving the dilapidated road system, constructing aqueducts, building public baths and extending the port of Ostia. Trajan was also a highly successful general and won three major conflicts against the Dacians and in the East, resulting in the Roman Empire reaching its greatest size up to that date.


Commander in Thrace (Thracia) and Germany,

in Crete and Cyrenaica




Despite not coming from a noble family, Vespasian served as a colonel in Thrace (north of Greece) and a quaestor (financial official) on the island of Crete and in Cyrenaica (eastern Libya). Before incurring the wrath of Emperor Claudius’s wife Agrippina (as many did), he was the commander of a legion in Germany and Britain. He fought in over thirty battles and captured at least twenty cities. … Vitellius, increased the Guard to 16 cohorts, totaling 16,000 personal men. Shortly thereafter, however, when Vespasian emerged as the eventual victor, the Praetorians were reduced back to a more manageable nine cohorts.




Although Trajan did not hurry to Rome, he did think it necessary to solve the controversy surrounding the mutiny by the Praetorian Guards who had wished to punish the assassins of Domitian. Trajan sent for the conspirators, especially Casperius Aelianus – the guard who had engineered the mutiny – to meet him in Upper Germany to receive a special commission. According to historian Cassius Dio, Trajan offered “to employ them for some purpose and then put them out of the way.”


Colonies were founded with one at Aprus (Colonia Claudia Aprensis) by Claudius or Nero, and at Deultum (Colonia Flavia Pacensis Deultum) under Vespasian. Trajan expanded further on settling Thracia ….


During the Roman period, the Jewish population of Cyrenaica grew. …. Growing tensions between Jews and Romans in Cyrenaica erupted in rebellion in 115 CE. Known as the “Kitos War”[9] this revolt dragged on for two years, with massacres and atrocities that shocked even Roman historians. The province was virtually depopulated, and Emperor Trajan resettled it with Greek-speaking colonists brought in from other provinces. This may have been the occasion for an extensive coinage of silver drachms (3.2 grams) and hemidrachms (1.6 grams) bearing the stern face of Trajan obverse, and Zeus Ammon reverse.



Praetorian Guard




… Vitellius, increased the Guard to 16 cohorts, totaling 16,000 personal men. Shortly thereafter, however, when Vespasian emerged as the eventual victor, the Praetorians were reduced back to a more manageable nine cohorts.




Although Trajan did not hurry to Rome, he did think it necessary to solve the controversy surrounding the mutiny by the Praetorian Guards who had wished to punish the assassins of Domitian. Trajan sent for the conspirators, especially Casperius Aelianus – the guard who had engineered the mutiny – to meet him in Upper Germany to receive a special commission. According to historian Cassius Dio, Trajan offered “to employ them for some purpose and then put them out of the way.”






Vologases …. Parthia was troubled throughout his reign on both its eastern and western borders.


Relative peace followed between Parthia and Rome, especially in the reign of Nero.

Vespasian had Vologases’s backing in 69, and the emperor even pondered sending him troops to aid in the defeat of the barbarian Alans. Better relations allowed domestic opportunities, as Vologases founded the city of Vologesia as a rival to Seleucia. ….




The war began when the [Parthians] placed one of their own on the throne of Armenia, a Roman buffer state. This “upset the delicate balance of power” on the eastern frontier. Trajan intervened, and Armenia was made a province of Rome. The army continued on eastward and annexed Mesopotamia, including the Parthian capital of Ctesiphon. Under Trajan, the Roman Empire now stretched further than it ever had – from Scotland to the Caspian Sea. ….


Jewish War




… Vitellius, increased the Guard to 16 cohorts, totaling 16,000 personal men. Shortly thereafter, however, when Vespasian emerged as the eventual victor, the Praetorians were reduced back to a more manageable nine cohorts.


But in AD 67 he was offered a province and an army command of three legions by Nero. If the emperor was mad and wanted to see Vespasian dead, he needed him now. The Jewish rebellion of AD 67 called for a commander who knew of ways to oust the Jews from their walled cities. Someone had obviously reminded the emperor of Vespasian’s record against the defensive earthworks in Britain.
At the age of fifty eight Vespasian headed for Judaea, directed the reduction of Jotapata in the north and began the preparations for the siege of Jerusalem.

On hearing of Nero’s death Vespasian formally recognized the accession of Galba.

When news arrived of Galba’s murder in early AD 69, Vespasian was prompted to consider rebellion. He had on his side the governor of Syria, Gaius Licinius Mucianus. At first the two had not got along well, mainly due to Mucianus resenting that Vespasian’s military command had been given higher status by Nero than his governorship, but now they both needed allies to weather the crisis following the death of two emperors.

After Otho’s suicide in April AD 69 they formed plans to take action. They both acknowledged Vitellius’ accession, but meanwhile secretly enlisted the support of Tiberius Julius Alexander in Egypt. Mucianus had no sons of his own to be his heirs. Alexander was only of equestrian rank – and a Jew. Neither therefore could be considered as potential emperors. Vespasian though had two sons, Titus and Domitian, was of senatorial rank and had held the consulship. All three agreed, that he should be their candidate for the throne.

On 1 July, Alexander commanded the legions in Egypt to swear an oath of allegiance to Vespasian. Within two weeks the armies in Judaea and Syria had followed that example.
The plan was that Mucianus would lead twenty thousand men into Italy, with Vespasian remaining in the east, where he could control the all-important Egyptian grain supply to Rome.

Vespasian now headed for Rome, leaving his son Titus behind to capture Jerusalem, and arrived at Rome in October AD 70. He was almost 61 but he was still fit and active.
Soon after Titus in Palestine brought an end to the Jewish revolt (although the siege of Masada continued until AD 73) and in the north Cerealis defeated the Gallo-German uprising at Augusta Trevivorum. In effect Vespasian, an old military veteran, was the man who could finally deliver peace to the empire.

Vespasian possessed insight and the sense of how to maintain peace, too. Though the destruction of Jerusalem and the retaliation against the Jews were carried out with unnecessary severity, and restrictions were placed on some of their practices, Jews were excused from Caesar-worship.




[Trajan’s] father, a career soldier also named Marcus Ulpius Traianus, had been governor of both Baetica in Spain and Syria, a commander during the Jewish War of 67 – 68 CE ….

Rebellion among the Jewish population broke out in Cyrenaica, spreading to both Egypt and Cyprus; however, when trouble broke out on the northern frontier, Trajan left his army in Syria and retreated to Rome. ….


Simple habits and virtues




…. the Flavians had succeeded the Julio-Claudians, and the simple habits and virtues of the Italian bourgeois replaced, at the court of the emperor, the epicurean wastefulness of the city-bred descendants of Augustus and Livia. ….

He scorned luxury and laziness, ate the food of peasants, fasted one day in each month, and declared war upon extravagance. When a Roman whom he had nominated for office came to him smelling of perfume, he said, “I would rather you smelled of garlic,” and withdrew the nomination. He made himself easily accessible, talked and lived on a footing of equality with the people, enjoyed jokes at his own expense, and allowed everyone great freedom in criticizing his conduct and his character. Having discovered a conspiracy against him he forgave the plotters, saying that they were fools not to realize what a burden of cares a ruler wore. He lost his good temper in one case only.




Cassius Dio wrote, “Trajan was most conspicuous for his justice, for his bravery, and for the simplicity of his habits.”  As an emperor who was concerned with both good government and the public welfare, he instituted an excellent domestic policy – providing for the children of the poor, restoring the dilapidated road system, as well as building new bridges, aqueducts, public baths, and a modern port at Ostia. Lastly, he continued his predecessor’s policy of undoing much of the harm done by Domitian by freeing prisoners and recalling exiles.




Christians, Gladiators and Cult of Sol Invictus




“Similar to Vespasian, Trajan was a good soldier and a man of talent. He was also a man of tolerance and courtesy. He expanded the empire against the Parthians. He put down another rebellion by Jews. He favored applying the law against only those Christians about whom people complained, or Christians who had created disturbances, and he declared that the accused were to receive a proper trial in which they were able to face their accusers. During his nineteen years of rule he improved the empire’s roads and harbors, he beautified Rome and he provided support for the children of Rome’s poor. And although the Senate continued to have little real power, Trajan consulted it and maintained its good will. The historian Tacitus – who lived during Trajan’s rule – praised Trajan for restoring Rome’s “old spirit,” including the feeling that one could express oneself freely”.




Treatment of Christians


Vespasian, Trajan, treated Christians in a way that is generally perceived to have been tolerant – at least by the standards of that age.




Still more important to the subsequent progress of civilization was the period of tranquility for the infant Church which began in this reign. The official classes of Rome then regarded the Christians vaguely as a Jewish sect, and as such the latter was subject to the impost of half a shekel for rebuilding the Capitoline temple, which had been destroyed when Rome was stormed for Vespasian; but this tax does not seem to have been the occasion of any general harsh treatment. Tertullian (Apologia) and Eusebius (Church History) agree in acquitting Vespasian of persecution. St. Linus, the pope whose death occurred during this period, cannot be proved to have suffered martyrdom, while St. Apollaris of Ravenna, though a martyr, may very well have suffered at the hands of a local mob.




Art and learning flourished during Trajan’s reign. Among his literary contemporaries were Tacitus, Juvenal, and the younger Pliny with whom the emperor carried on an animated correspondence. This correspondence belonging to the years 111-3 throws light on the persecution of Christians during this reign. Pliny was legate of the double Province of Bithynia and Pontus. In this territory he found many Christians and requested instructions from Trajan (Ep. 96). In his reply (Ep. 97) Trajan considers the confession of Christianity as a crime worthy of death, but forbade a search for Christians and the acceptance of anonymous denunciations. Whoever shows by sacrificing to the gods that he is not a Christian is to be released. Where the adherence to Christianity is proved the punishment of death is to follow. The action he prescribed rests on the coercive power of the police, the right of repression of the magistracy, which required no settled form of procedure. In pursuance of these orders measures were taken against Christians in other places also. The most distinguished martyrs under Trajan were Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, and Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem. Legend names many others, but there was no actual persecution on a large scale and the position of the Christians was in general satisfactory.







The Colosseum was built by Emperor Vespasian, founder of the Flavian dynasty, for Titus, his successor.

Colosseum is an elliptical building measuring 189 meters long and 156 meters wide with a base area of 24,000 m² with a height of more than 48 meter.

The Colosseum has over 80 entrances and can accommodate about 50,000 spectators.

It is thought that over 500,000 people lost their lives and over a million wild animals were killed throughout the duration of the Colosseum hosted people vs. beast games.

There were 36 trap doors in Arena allowing for elaborate special effects

All Ancient Romans had free entry to the Colosseum for events, and were also fed throughout the spectacles.

Festivals as well as games could last up to 100 days in the Colosseum.

The Ancient Romans would sometimes flood the Colosseum and have miniature ship naval battles inside as a way of entertainment.

The Colosseum only took 10 years to build starting in 70 AD and was completed in 80 AD using over 60,000 Jewish slaves.




Trajan was a brutal warlord. The depictions on Trajan’s Column, thought to date to the years 101-106 tell a story of death and Roman ruthlessness on a grand scale. In this time span, Trajan enacted genocide on the Dacians – The king Burebista, Zalmoxis his philosopher/sage, and the entire nation were destroyed according to Strabo (7,3,5). In his rule 2,000 Jews of the town Emmaus were crucified, according to Florus, Epitome of Roman History (II,88)

In the “Temple of Augustus”, at Ankara, in Turkey, there is the following [inscription], placed there by Trajan:


“Three times I gave gladiatorial shows in my own name,
and five times in the name of my sons or grandsons, in
which shows about 10,000 men fought to the death”


This barbaric ruthlessness on a large scale are typically Roman qualities, as distinct from those whom the Romans themselves called Barbarians.


Sol Invictus


As far as religion went, Vespasian, Trajan, favoured the Mithraïc cult of Sol Invictus (“Unconquered Sun’), which divinity would become the official sun god of the Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers.




After the great fire of AD 64, in which a large portion of Rome was destroyed, Nero erected a colossal statue of himself one hundred and twenty feet high (Suetonius, Life of Nero, XXXI.1), which Vespasian converted to one of Sol, placing a radiant crown on its head (Suetonius, Vespasian, XVIII.1; Pliny, Natural History, XXXIV.45). Vespasian also was the first emperor to display the image of Sol on imperial coinage. By the second century AD, this autochthonous deity was being eclipsed by an Eastern cult of the Sun, Invictus appearing as an epithet in an inscription in AD 158.




Before Aurelian, Sol was no more prominent than many other deities. The denarius of Trajan [below], from 111 CE [sic], demonstrates this; it shows the heads of Sol and Luna being carried by Aeternitas, symbolising that day and night are component parts of eternity. Trajan and his successor, Hadrian, also struck coins much like those above, showing the radiate head of Sol; sometimes they were labelled Oriens, meaning the rising sun in the east.


The reverse of a denarius of Trajan showing Aeternitas.


Isis, Serapis and Dionysus




… from the time of Vespasian the worship of Isis and Serapis became firmly established, and remained in a flourishing condition until the general introduction of Christianity.

In Tarsus, where he served next, with its grand processions of the dying and rising God, Baal Taraz, Vespasian was introduced to the Mysteries of Dionysus, the only Olympian with a mortal mother. (Ralph Thorpe, The Gospel of the King of the Jews).




According to Josephus, Caligula donned female garb and took part in the mysteries he instituted, and in the Hellenistic age Isis acquired a “new rank as a leading goddess of the Mediterranean world.” Vespasian, along with Titus, practiced incubation in the Roman Iseum. Domitian built another Iseum along with a Serapeum. Trajan appears before Isis and Horus, presenting them with votive offerings of wine, in a bas-relief on his triumphal arch in Rome.

Built around 104 C.E, it is one of the finest monuments in Ephesus. It was constructed in honor of Emperor Trajan, and a statue of Trajan stood in the central niche on the facade overlooking the pool.

The pool of the fountain of Trajan was 20×10 meters, surrounded by columns and statues. These statues were Dionysus, Satyr, Aphrodite and the family of the Emperor. They are now on display in the Ephesus Museum.,_Ephesus,_Turkey_(18818526443).jpg


There is enough in this series, I think, to encourage one in the consideration of Trajan as a Vespasian-type, enabling for an imperial folding now of Nero (Domitius) with Domitian and of Vespasian with Trajan. Regarding Trajan’s supposed successor (but not son), Hadrian, who has been called “a mirror image” of the Seleucid tyrant, Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’, he would likely be a composite figure, partly based upon Antiochus IV (and perhaps others), and, considering his reputation as a destroyer of Jerusalem, partly on Titus, the son of Vespasian, who really did destroy Jerusalem and demolish its Temple.

Re-shuffling the pack of neo-Assyrian kings

Published May 24, 2017 by amaic




Damien F. Mackey


Whilst my removal of the major Assyrian king, Shalmaneser III, from the mid-C9th BC (where the conventional history has located him) to approximately the mid-C8th BC, may immediately ease the revision’s most troublesome TAP: The Assuruballit Problem, it yet needs to be shown that those dynasts closely connected to Shalmaneser III can also find their suitable places in that entirely different chronological environment.  




Despite its benefits, my lowering of Shalmaneser III on the timescale by almost a century cannot be sufficient on its own, considering the biblico-historical synchronisms that are considered to connect this Assyrian king firmly to the mid-C9th BC era of kings Ahab and Jehu of Israel. See e.g. my article:


Black Obelisk Decoded


with its references to other related articles.

No, for this reconstruction to be generally convincing – for it even to be fully convincing to me – the entire dynasty associated with Shalmaneser III must be satisfactorily accommodated in the later era.

Sometimes even properly identifying a complete Assyrian dynasty can be quite a problem given the chaos and uncertainties that surround certain parts of the king lists.

Anyway, the kings upon whom I shall be focussing here will be those two who are thought immediately to have succeeded Shalmaneser III, namely his son, Shamsi-Adad V, and his son, Adad-nirari III.

Also to be taken account of here is the highly important queen, Sammuramat (‘Semiramis’).


The conventional dates for Shalmaneser III and co.


Shalmaneser III 859–824 BC son of Ashur-nasir-pal (II)
Shamshi-Adad V 824–811 BC son of Shalmaneser (III)
Shammu-ramat, regent, 811–808 BC
Adad-nirari III 811–783 BC son of Shamshi-Adad (V)


A consideration of Shalmaneser III’s immediate predecessors – also necessary for this revision – must be left until a later effort.


With Shalmaneser III already revised and re-identified with Tiglath-pileser III/Shalmaneser V, of the later C8th BC, the basic plan now, therefore, will be to identify the former’s above-listed successors with the successors of the revised Shalmaneser V.


Shalmaneser III = Shalmaneser V

Shamsi-Adad V = Sargon II (= Sennacherib)

(Sammmuramat = Naqia)

Adad-nirari III = Esarhaddon




Loosening Shalmaneser III’s

ties to C9th BC



Just to recapitulate on what has already been written on this subject:


Ben-Hadad I of Syria and Ahab of Israel have been shown to be seriously in doubt as likely opponents of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III at the Battle of Qarqar (Karkar) in c. 853 BC (conventional dating), as recorded in the Kurkh Monolith.


And king Jehu of Israel has been shown to be a rather poor fit for the Omride king mentioned in Shalmaneser III’s Black Obelisk – this Jehu (c. 841 BC, conventional dating) probably having been chosen as that Omride king for chronological reasons in relation to the presumed activity of Ben-Hadad I and Ahab some dozen or so years earlier.

With these biblico-historical ‘pins’ now greatly loosened, one may consider the merits of prising Shalmaneser III way from his customary era and vastly re-considering his history.

Queen Sammuramat as Queen Naqia



I already had this revision in mind, fusing into one the dynasties of Shalmaneser III and V, when I wrote:


Naqia of Assyria and ‘Semiramis’


“When Josephus named Nebuchadnezzar as builder of the [hanging] garden, both he and his readers would have been confused between Nineveh and Babylon, and between Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar, because at the time they were reading his account, the Book of Judith was already in circulation”.




Naqia of Assyria and ‘Semiramis’. Part Two: Naqia attached to Semiramis?


Here, then, we have a group of material that indicates attachment of Naqia’s deeds to the name ‘Semiramis’. As second wife of Sennacherib, she bears comparison with the historical Sammu-ramat for having her name on inscriptions written… more




If Queen Sammuramat, the wife of the Assyrian king, Shamsi-Adad V, was the legendary Semiramis, then there must be more to her, and to her husband, than is presently realised.




The ‘Semiramis’ who has come down to us from Greek writer-historians such as Herodotus; Ctesias of Cnidus, and Diodorus of Sicily, appears to be something of a composite figure (see e.g. connection with Alexander below), semi-legendary, but – as we might well expect – having a basis in reality (that is, as said below, a “clear historical figure lies behind [her]”).

This impression is certainly what we gain from reading about the ‘Semiramis’ legend in ed. Lester L. Grabbe’s Like a Bird in a Cage: The Invasion of Sennacherib in 701 BCE, beginning on p. 122:


The Ninus/Semiramis legend was widespread in the Hellenistic Near East but is best attested in the version of Diodorus of Sicily (2.120) writing in the first century BCE. …. Diodorus’s source … is generally thought to be Ctesias of Cnidus …


  1. 123


…. a number of the deeds performed by Semiramis have a close parallel in events in Alexander’s conquests.

…. [Herodotus] … mentions Semiramis in a short paragraph but without presenting her as exceptional. He says that she was a ruler of Babylon and built the dykes to prevent flooding (1.184), but the main work of building the city was done five generations later by Nitocris (1.185). It appears that Herodotus does not know the Semiramis legend or, if he did know it, he has given it no credence, while he does not even mention Ninus. On the other hand, the ‘Nitocris mentioned by him may have a historical basis in a later queen, showing that Herodotus’s information was better than sometimes recognized.


Here is added the note [12] that “Walter Baumgartner … dismisses Nitocris as merely a reflection of Nebuchadnezzar”, which accords with my view that the ‘queen’ is a composite (of Nebuchednezzar, Alexander, etc.). Most interestingly for this series, and for my hopeful merging of Shamsi-Adad V with Sennacherib, note [12] refers to the legendary queen’s suggested identification with Naqia (= Zakutu), the wife of Sennacherib:


Other scholars have argued that she is to be identified with one or the other of well-known queens. Hildegard Lewy (‘Nitokris-Naqi’a’, JNES 1 l [1952], pp. 264-86) thought she fits well the activities of Naqia-Zakutu, one of the wives of Sennacherib and the mother of Esarhaddon. She was indeed a remarkable woman about whom we would like to know more ….


And to “know more” of her, and of her contemporary neo-Assyrian kings, though the agency of alter egos, is the very purpose of this series.

The final piece that I shall take is from p. 124 of Like a Bird in a Cage in which the great Ninus, considered by the Greeks to have been the husband of Semiramis, is contrasted with the poorly-known Shamsi-Adad V, husband of Sammuramat:


C.F. LehmannHaupt was one of the first to recognize that at the basis of the Semiramis legend was a historical Assyrian queen, Sammuramat the wife of Shamshi-adad V (823—811 BCE). …. Sammuramat seems to have been an unusual person. …. she is mentioned alongside her son [Adad-nirari III] in several inscriptions, which is rather unusual. Although the precise reason for her being remembered is not clear, we have some indications that she was not a run-of-the-mill Assyrian queen.

The situation is different with Ninus, on the other hand, because it is often stated that no clear historical figure lies behind him. Shamshiadad V, the husband of Sammuramat, was not a particularly distinguished ruler, with only a short rule, and little that one can see of his person in Ninus.


Perhaps “little” by himself, Shamsi-Adad V, but potentially of major significance if he is to be double-teamed with a most powerful alter ego in Sargon II-Sennacherib.


Shamsi-Adad V and

Sargon II/Sennacherib




Certain basic patterns of similarity may point to the possibility of filling out the somewhat poorly-known Shamsi-Adad V with a more robust alter ego of Sargon II/Sennacherib.






One may be reluctant to multiply names and identifications for a particular Assyrian king. However, it is a know fact that some of these kings, at least, had more than the one name. Esarhaddon, for instance, when he was named as heir to the throne, would receive a new name from his father Sennacherib. Barbara N. Porter writes of it (Images, Power and Politics, Vol. 208:–R430C&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=es):


Perhaps it was to pave the way for the unorthodox naming of a younger son as heir that Sennacherib changed Esarhaddon’s name from Esarhaddon (in Akkadian, Aššur-aḫa-iddina, meaning “Aššur has given a brother” a younger brother’s name), to the more impressive name, Aššur-etel-ilāni-mukīn-apli (Aššur, prince of the gods, is establishing an heir), a name that suggests its owner’s status as heir to the throne.

[End of quote]


In the case of Sennacherib himself, whom I have already doubly-identified,

(i) as Sargon II:


Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib


and again – in his guise of ruler of Babylon, as (ii) Nebuchednezzar I:


Bringing New Order to Mesopotamian History and Chronology


I am now considering this extra identification of him with Shamsi-Adad V.



Patterns of Comparison


            Coming to throne after a revolt (coup against brother)


According to a conventional (date) view of Shamsi-Adad V’s “struggle” for the throne (


The first years of his reign saw a serious struggle for the succession of the aged Shalmaneser. The revolt was led by Shamshi-Adad’s brother Assur-danin-pal, and had broken out already by 826 BC. The rebellious brother, according to Shamshi-Adad’s own inscriptions, succeeded in bringing to his side 27 important cities, including Nineveh.


Similarly, in the case of Sargon II (


He was not the chosen heir but took the throne from his brother under circumstances which remain unclear. It is likely, however, that he orchestrated a coup after he had grown tired of what he saw as his brother’s inept reign. Like the great Sargon of Akkad (2334-2279 BCE), whom he modeled himself after, his throne name of Sargon means `true king’ which scholars have interpreted as his means of legitimizing himself following the coup. His birth name is unknown as is whatever position he held at court prior to assuming the throne. Although regions of the empire revolted when he took control, and he does not seem to have had the support of the court, Sargon II maintained the policies and strategies initiated by his father, improved the military and economy, and brought the Assyrian Empire to its greatest height politically and militarily. His reign is considered the peak of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.


And compare this again with what we read from Carl Wilhelm Eduard Nagelsbach about Sennacherib, after the supposed death of his ‘father’, Sargon II (The Prophet Isaiah: an Exegetical and Doctrinal Commentary, p. 407):


Then there followed a period of two or three years, filled up with the strifes of various pretenders to the crown, and hence designated by the Canon as καιρός àβiσíλεutoς. Thus it appears by the account of Polyhistor in Eusebius (chron. Armen. ed. Mai, p. 19), that after Sargon’s death [sic], his son and a brother of Sennacherib ascended the Babylonian throne. But after a short term this one was obliged to give place ….

[End of quotes]


            The Queen


We have already read in this series about the striking similarities inviting comparisons between Sammuramat, the wife of Shamsi-Adad V, and Naqia, the wife of Sennacherib. For example:


Here, then, we have a group of material that indicates attachment of Naqia’s deeds to the name ‘Semiramis’. As second wife of Sennacherib, she bears comparison with the historical Sammu-ramat for having her name on inscriptions written during her lifetime, and for supporting publicly first her husband and then her own son, both as kings.


See also my article:


Naqia of Assyria and ‘Semiramis’. Part Two: Naqia attached to Semiramis?


In fact similarities such as these, between the woman as wife, but also her as mother of the son-successor (alternatively, Adad-nirari III and Esarhaddon) were a key factor in encouraging me to attempt this new dynastic alignment of the successors of Shalmaneser III with those of Shalmaneser V – all as constituting the one dynasty.


            The Babylonian Contemporary


In the case of Shamsi-Adad V, when he was yet Crown Prince, his Babylonian contemporary and ally was the apparently powerful king, Marduk-zakir-shumi, known as I (


There was a treaty between the Babylonian king, Marduk-zakir-shumi, and Shamshi-Adad but when Marduk-zakir-shumi died the decades-long alliance broke down. Marduk-balassu-iqbi came to the throne and ruled from a city called Dur-Papsukkal (a number of Babylonian dynasties had palaces away from Babylon itself).


Suspiciously, a Marduk-zakir-shumi known as II was the early Babylonian contemporary of Sennacherib. Not much is known about him ( “Marduk-zâkir-šumi II was a Babylonian nobleman who served briefly as King of Babylon for a few months in 703 BC, following a revolt against the rule of the Assyrian king Sennacherib”.

I think that it may be safe to say, at this stage, that we are dealing with just the one Babylonian king, Marduk-zakir-shumi.

Like Shamsi-Adad V, now Sargon II, now Sennacherib, would have plenty of trouble with Babylon afterwards.


            Reign Length


Although Sennacherib is considered to have reigned somewhat longer than the 17 years generally attributed to Sargon II, we can read in my above article, “Assyrian King Sargon II”, how well the first 17 years of Sargon II’s line up alongside Sennacherib’s records up to his Eighth Campaign (with more to come).

The conventional dates for Shamsi-Adad V, of c. 824-811 BC, fall a little short of Sargon II’s estimated 16-17 years (c. 722-705 BC). However, M. Christine Tetley has, in The Reconstructed Chronology of the Divided Kingdom (p. 170), presented this potentially most significant possibility that Shamsi-Adad V’s reign may need to be extended significantly:


…. Babylonian King List A and Babylonian Chronicle 24 infer that Shamsi-Adad V ruled over Babylonia in a kingless period following the removal of Baba-aha-iddina. The number of kingless years can be read as 12 or 22. Shamsi-Adad went “to Babylon” in the 12th year of his reign, the eponymate of Shamash-kumua, and it seems probable that the kingless years began at this time ….


Now this, I think, is perfect, because it was in Sargon II’s 12th year (same as Shamsi-Adad V) that he finally defeated the troublesome Merodach-baladan of Babylon – this 12th year corresponding also to Sennacherib’s First Campaign, against the very same Merodach-baladan. Moreover, 22 years for Shamsi-Adad V over a “kingless” Babylon would fit very nicely indeed with the approximately 21 years of reign of Nebuchednezzar I (my suggested alter ego for Sargon II/Sennacherib) over Babylon.




Whilst not much is known about the campaigns of Shamsi-Adad V, he did attack the kingdom of Urartu, at the time of a “Sarduri” (


Sarduri I (c. 832 – 820 BC), son of king Aramu, successfully resisted the Assyrian attacks from the south, led by Shalmaneser III, consolidated the military power of the state and moved the capital to Tushpa (modern Van, on the shore of Lake Van). His son, Ispuini (c. 820 – 800 BC) annexed the neighbouring state of Musasir and made his son Sarduri II viceroy; Musasir later became an important religious center of the Urartian Kingdom. Ispuini was in turn attacked by Shamshi-Adad V.


Now Tiglath-pileser III, with whom I have identified Shalmaneser III, also campaigned against a ‘Sarduri of Urartu’ ( “Tiglath-pileser next attacked the Urartian ruler Sarduri II and his neo-Hittite and Aramaean allies, whom he defeated in 743 bc”.

Again Sargon II, just like Shamsi-Adad V, waged war against Urartu and Musasir ( “In 714 BC, the Urartu kingdom suffered heavily from Cimmerian raids and the campaigns of Sargon II. The main temple at Mushashir was sacked, and the Urartian king Rusa I was crushingly defeated by Sargon II at Lake Urmia. He subsequently committed suicide in shame”.


Again like Shamsi-Adad V, who “campaigned against Southern Mesopotamia … and few Aramean tribes settled in Babylonia” (, Sargon II/Sennacherib had severe trouble with this very same unruly sector for much of the reign.


Adad-nirari III and Esarhaddon



Certain basic patterns of similarity may point to the possibility of filling out the Assyrian king Adad-nirari III with the potent Esarhaddon, the son-successor of Sennacherib.







Of benefit towards a revision of history can be standout factors, such as the exceedingly long reign of a Ramses II ‘the Great’, 66-67 years, or the unusual situation of a female pharaoh, Hatshepsut. In the case of neo-Assyrian history, it can be the rare case of an influential queen. And this series has greatly benefitted from the latter, with the notable Queen Sammuramat, wife of Shamsi-Adad V, identified with the unusually prominent Naqia, wife of Sennacherib, being the glue holding together the dynasty of Shalmaneser III with that of Shalmaneser V.

And this composite (as I see it) queen, Sammuramat-Naqia, will continue now, into the reign of her son, to exert a very strong influence.


Patterns of Comparison


            Queen virtually ruling Assyria for her son


We read of the extraordinary Sammuramat (and her possibly being equated with ‘Semiramis’) in the following article (the conventional dates being the author’s only, and not mine) (


Sammu-Ramat and Semiramis: The Inspiration and the Myth


by Joshua J. Mark
published on 16 September 2014


Sammu-Ramat (reigned 811-806 BCE) was the queen regent of the Assyrian Empire who held the throne for her young son Adad Nirari III until he reached maturity. She is also known as Shammuramat, Sammuramat, and, most notably, as Semiramis. This last designation, “Semiramis”, has been the source of considerable controversy for over a century now, as scholars and historians argue over whether Sammu-Ramat was the inspiration for the myths concerning Semiramis, whether Sammu-Ramat even ruled Assyria, and whether Semiramis ever existed as an actual historical personage.

…. The debate has been going on for some time and is not likely to be concluded one way or the other in the near future but, still, it seems possible to suggest the likely possibility that the legends of Semiramis were, in fact, inspired by the reign of queen Sammu-Ramat and have their basis, if not in her actual deeds, then at least in the impression she made upon the people of her time.

Shammu-Ramat was the wife of Shamshi-Adad V (reigned 823-811 BCE) and, when he died, she assumed rule until Adad Nirari III came of age – at which time she passed the throne to him. According to historian Gwendolyn Leick, “This woman achieved remarkable fame and power in her lifetime and beyond. According to contemporary records, she had considerable influence at the Assyrian court” (155). This would explain how she was able to maintain the throne after her husband’s death. Women were not admitted to positions of authority in the Assyrian Empire and to have a woman ruler would have been unthinkable unless that particular woman had enough power to achieve it.



The Historical Reign of Sammu-Ramat


Shamshi-Adad V was the son of King Shalmaneser III and grandson of Ashurnasirpal II. Their successful reigns and military campaigns would have provided Shamshi-Adad V with the stability and resources to begin his own successful reign had it not been for the rebellion of his older brother. Shalmaneser III’s elder son, Ashur-danin-pal, apparently grew tired of waiting for the throne and launched a revolt against Shalmaneser III in 826 BCE. Shamshi-Adad V took his father’s side and crushed the rebellion, but this took him six years to accomplish. By the time Ashur-danin-pal was defeated, much of the resources that Shamshi-Adad V would have had at his disposal were gone, and the Assyrian Empire was weakened and unstable.

It is at this time that Sammu-Ramat appears in the historical record. It is not known what year she married the king but, when her husband died and she took the throne, she was able to provide the nation with the stability it needed. Historians have speculated that, since the times seemed so uncertain to the people of Assyria, the successful reign of a woman would have engendered a kind of awe greater than that of a king because so unprecedented. She was powerful enough to have her own obelisk inscribed and placed in prominence in the city of Ashur. It read:


Stele of Sammuramat, queen of Shamshi-Adad, King of the Universe, King of Assyria, Mother of Adad Nirari, King of the Universe, King of Assyria, Daughter-in-Law of Shalmaneser, King of the Four Regions of the World.


What exactly Sammu-Ramat did during her reign is unknown, but it seems she initiated a number of building projects and may have personally led military campaigns. According to the historian Stephen Bertman, prior to Shamshi-Adad’s death, Sammu-Ramat “took the extraordinary step of accompanying her husband on at least one military campaign, and she is prominently mentioned in royal inscriptions” (102). After his death, she seems to have continued to lead such campaigns herself, although this, like much else in her reign, has been questioned.  Whatever she did, it stabilized the empire after the civil war and provided her son with a sizeable and secure nation when he came to the throne. It is known that she defeated the Medes and annexed their territory, may have conquered the Armenians and, according to Herodotus, may have built the embankments at Babylon on the Euphrates River, which were still famous in his time. ….

[End of quote]


Now, already in this series we have learned about compelling links between Sammuramat (perhaps ‘Semiramis’) and Naqia-Zakutu. In the following article we shall read some more about the influence of Naqia-Zakutu, and how she had – just like Sammuramat in the case of the young Adad-nirari III – strongly (even manipulatively?) intervened in Assyrian affairs




by Joshua J. Mark
published on 05 March 2011


Zakutu (c. 701-c.668 BCE) was the Akkadian name of Naqia, a wife of King Sennacherib of Assyria, who reigned between 705-681 BCE. Though she was not Sennacherib’s queen, she bore him a son, Esarhaddon, who would succeed him. She ruled as Queen after her son’s death and was grandmother to his successor, King Ashurbanipal. Writings about Naqia-Zakutu come mainly from the reign of Esarhaddon and give evidence of a strong and clever woman who rose from obscurity to greatness.

Naqia-Zakutu is known to have been associated with Sennacherib as early as 713 BCE when he was the crown prince under Sargon II. [sic] Sennacherib would have at least eleven (possibly more) sons with his wives and, among these, Esarhaddon was the youngest. As Zakutu was considered merely a ‘palace woman’, not a noble woman, the elder brothers seem to have taken little notice of her or her son. Sennacherib’s favorite son and chosen heir, Ashur-nadin-shumi, was appointed ruler of Babylon from which he was kidnapped by the Elamites (Assyria’s enemies) sometime around 695 BCE. He was most likely killed by his captors c. 694 BCE and Sennacherib needed to choose a son to replace him as heir. Sennacherib was busy with military campaigns and then building projects and seems to have taken his time making his decision regarding his successor. It is possible that he was evaluating his sons to see who was most fit to rule after him.

It would have come as an unpleasant surprise to Esarhaddon’s older brothers when, in 683 BCE, Sennacherib chose his youngest son to succeed him. Some scholars maintain that Zakutu’s maneuvering was behind the decision but this has been contested. The brothers took great exception to his choice and, in fear for his life, Zakutu sent Esarhaddon into hiding somewhere in the region formerly known as Mitanni. Two of Sennacherib’s sons assassinated the king in 681 BCE, probably because of his sacrilege in destroying the city of Babylon and carrying off the statue of the great god Marduk, but possibly simply to gain the throne. Esarhaddon was then recalled from exile, probably by Zakutu, defeated his brothers in a six-week civil war, and took the throne. He then had his brother’s families and associates executed.


Zakutu held an impressive place at court during the reign of Esarhaddon, carrying the title of ‘Queen’, drafting letters and receiving dignitaries even though she was not Assyrian (‘Naqia’ being either Aramaean or Hebrew in origin) and had never been queen to [Sennacherib] (though, after Esarhaddon was named successor, she was known as ‘mother of the crown prince’). Letters on important matters were addressed to her as “To the mother of the king, my lord” and began with salutations of, “Greetings to the mother of the king, my lord. May the gods Ashur, Shamash and Marduk keep the king my lord in health. May they decree well-being for the mother of the king my lord” before relating the matter at hand. The historian Wolfram von Soden describes Zakutu’s continued importance at court: “The Syrian-born wife of Sennacherib, Naqiya-Zakutu, still possessed considerable influence during the first years of the reign of her grandson, Ashurbanipal, and was feared by the royal officials” (67).

Either just before, or just after, Esarhaddon’s death in 669 BCE, Zakutu issued the Loyalty Treaty of Naqia-Zakutu in either 670 or 668 BCE to secure Ashurbanipal’s succession, ordering the court and country recognize her grandson as their legitimate ruler. The treaty reads, in part:


Anyone who is in this treaty which Queen Zakutu has concluded with the whole nation concerning her favorite grandson Ashurbanipal shall not revolt against your lord Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria, or in your hearts conceive and put into words an ugly scheme or an evil plot against your lord Ashurbanipal, or plot with another for the murder of your lord Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria. May Ashur, Sin, Shamash and Ishtar bear witness and curse violators of this treaty.


The Treaty clearly identifies Zakutu as Queen at this time and the fact that she could issue such a decree indicates she enjoyed sufficient power and support to be able to ensure the succession of her grandson as king. From a land purchase contract it is known that she had a sister, Abirami, but little other personal details of Zakutu’s life have come to light. Even her birth and death dates are unknown; yet her influence on the reigns of these two great Mesopotamian kings was significant. Exactly how she was able to ascend to her position of power at court may be waiting in future archaeological finds in the region but, at present, it is at least clear she was instrumental in the rise of two of the most important kings of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

[End of quote]




Southern Mesopotamia


“The first military campaigns of Esarhaddon were directed against nomadic tribes of southern Mesopotamia, the Dakkuri and Gambulu, who had been harassing the peasants” (


Likewise with Adad-nirari III, if Brinkman is correct that one of his eponyms, “to the sea”, in the words of J. Kuan “more plausibly refers to the Sealand of southern Mesopotamia …”.

(Neo-Assyrian Historical Inscriptions and Syria-Palestine, 1995).




William H. Shea has provided the following account of Adad-nirari III’s western campaigning (



For the year equivalent to 806 B.C. (805 in a variant form of the list), Arpad, in northern Syria, is listed, a place name that identifies this campaign as Adad-Nirari’s first in the west. …. An inscription published in 1973 by British Assyriologist A. R. Millard tells us that when Adad-Nirari crossed the upper Euphrates River into Syria, the king of Arpad led a coalition of western kings against him, but was forced to surrender. Millard’s translation of the relevant portion of this broken inscription reads: “I called out my chariotry and infantry and gave the command to march to Haiti-land [Syro-Palestine in general]. I crossed the Euphrates when it was in flood stage, and descended to Paqarhubuna. Atar-shumki, the king of Arpad, and the kings who had rebelled and trusted in their own strength, the fearful splendour of Ashur my Lord overwhelmed … I conquered the land of Hatti in its totality in a single year.”

Another fragmentary inscription tells how Adad-Nirari sacked Arpad after meeting the coalition that he led in the field: “Atar-shumki trusted to his own strength and came forward to battle. I defeated him and took his camp. I took the treasure of his palace. . . . Atarshumki, son of Arame, I deposed from his royal throne. His booty beyond ac count I received …”


In the case of Esarhaddon (Wikipedia again):


The Sidonian king Abdi-Milkutti, who had risen up against the Assyrian king, was defeated in 677 BC and beheaded. The town of Sidon was destroyed and rebuilt as Kar-Ashur-aha-iddina, the “Harbor of Esarhaddon”. The population was deported to Assyria. A share of the plunder went to the loyal king of rival Tyre, Baal I, himself an Assyrian puppet. The partly conserved text of a treaty with Tyre mentions the kings of Judah, Edom, Moab, Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, Byblos, Arvad, Samsi-muruna, Ammon, Ashdod, ten kings from the coast of the sea, and ten kings from the middle of the sea (usually identified with Cyprus), as Assyrian allies.




“The partly conserved text of a treaty with Tyre mentions the kings of Judah, Edom …”.


Edom was also common to Adad-nirari III: “… the Assyrians, who under Adadnirari III (811/810–783 bc) overran the eastern part of the country as far as Edom”.


            Reign Length


Whilst we found previously that the known two-decade plus reign length of the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, does not square up very well with the shorter span that convention has attributed to Shamsi-Adad V (c. 824-811) – Sennacherib’s alter ego according to this series – there is some evidence to suggest, however, that the reign of Shamsi-Adad V may be in need of extension by about a decade.

Now, the approximately 28 years of reign of Adad-nirari III (c. 811-783 BC, conventional dates) is almost triple that currently available to Esarhaddon (c. 680-669 BC). In a later article I hope to show, though, that the length of reign of Esarhaddon has been seriously underestimated. And this, in turn, ought to enable for a fuller examination of Esarhaddon’s military campaigns, which can then be compared more satisfactorily against those attributed to Adad-nirari III.



Overall I think that (despite its shortcomings) there has emerged in this series sufficient patterns of evidence to suggest the feasibility of my proposed neo-Assyrian revision:


Shalmaneser III = Shalmaneser V

Shamsi-Adad V = Sargon II (= Sennacherib)

(Sammmuramat = Naqia)

Adad-nirari III = Esarhaddon









Solomon and Charlemagne

Published May 4, 2017 by amaic

Image result for charlemagne

 Part One:

Life of Charlemagne


Damien F. Mackey


Emperor Charlemagne’s life bears some uncanny likenesses to

that of the ancient King Solomon of Israel and his family.



Charlemagne has indeed been likened to King Solomon of old, e.g. by H. Daniel-Rops (The Church in the Dark Ages, p. 395), who calls him “a witness of God, after the style of Solomon …”, and he has been spoken of in terms of the ancient kings of Israel; whilst Charlemagne’s father, Pepin the Short, was hailed as “the new king David”.

Charlemagne, too, appears sometimes as a larger-than-life king, almost too good to be true. His coronation on Christmas Day of 800 AD can seem just too neat and perfect. He was, according to Daniel-Rops (ibid., p. 390), “… the heaven-sent man, for whom Europe was waiting …”. And: (p. 401): “Who in the world fitted this role more than this glamorous personage, who set every man’s imagination afire and who seemed so much larger than life?”


Charlemagne is assigned to the period known as the Dark Ages (c. 600-900 AD); a period somewhat lacking in archaeology – and there is precious little evidence for the many buildings that this famous king is supposed to have had erected. (See Part Two)

Admittedly, the anomalies and contradictions associated with virtually every aspect of the life of Charlemagne, from his birth to his death, are evident for all to consider.


Other striking likenesses to the persons of the Old Testament, apart from that of Charlemagne’s father king Pepin being like king David; are his mother, Bertha or Bertrada, reminding of Bathsheba; Charlemagne’s wife, “Desideria”, reminding of the “Queen of Sheba”; and Charlemagne’s colourful eastern friend and ally, Harun al-Raschid, most definitely like Solomon’s ally, King Hiram of Tyre. The last I believe to have been – as King Solomon most certainly was – a real historical person:


King Hiram the Historical and Hiram Abiff the Hysterical



Charlemagne’s Father, Pepin, “the new David”


  1. Fraioli tells of Pepin at his peak (Joan of Arc and the Hundred Years War, p. 46): “An aura of prestige now surrounded the king, whom the pope called the “new king David” …”. Gregory of Tours had, as we shall read below, spoken similarly of king Clovis I, of the Merovingian dynasty. This traditional likening of Frankish kings to the ancient Davidic kings immediately raises the important point to be considered in this article concerning a sacred attitude held in regard to French kings, and this might go a long way towards accounting for the phenomenon of Charlemagne.

Let us take a relevant section on this from Fraioli’s book (pp. 43-45):




France developed by far the most sacred mythology around its kingship of all the kingdoms in western Europe, although the earliest known coronations occurred in Visigothic Spain and Ireland. The sacred mythology of French kingship, which became known as “the religion of the monarchy”, first emerged during the Merovingian dynasty, in the context of a baptismal anointing rather than a sacred coronation, when Clovis, king of the Franks, converted to Christianity. ….

Fraioli will however, in a later section on Hincmar (d. 882), suggest that this whole notion of sacred kingship was a late tradition, both mythical and “fabricated”. Here is what she has to say about it there (pp. 47-48. Emphasis added)

Hincmar, archbishop of Reims from 845 to 882, was a learned theologian and nimble politician, whose fame in the development of sacred kingship rests on his introduction of the legend of the Holy Ampulla into the history of Clovis, four centuries after the fact. In an effort to prove the continuity of Frankish kingship and, it is commonly believed, to challenge the influence of the abbey of Saint Denis – then successfully fusing its own history with that of the monarchy – Hincmar authorized a new myth. He is often believed to have fabricated the story himself in an attempt to expand the importance of the see of Reims. In all likelihood, he did not invent it, although he had confessed to forging other documents. The myth made the astonishing assertion that the liquid used to consecrate Frankish kings was of divine origin. A dove, the Christian symbol of the Holy Spirit, had allegedly delivered the Ampulla, or vial, of sacred liquid in its beak, when the bustling crowd at Clovis’ baptism had prevented the bearer of the baptismal oil from a timely arrival at the ceremony. Through this myth the election of French kings was seen as the will of God. Furthermore, the continuity of their rule was guaranteed by an inexhaustible supply of anointing balm in the Holy Ampulla, which could anoint French kings to the end of time.


[End of quote]


This charming story may have Old Testament origins in the miraculous preservation, in liquid form, of the sacred fire as recorded in 2 Maccabees 1:18-36, for the time of the biblical Nehemiah, whom we have found apparently making an anachronistic ‘return visit’ at the time of the Prophet Mohammed, BC dragged into AD time:


Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time


The legend of Hincmar may perhaps have arisen out of a confused transmission of the original true historical account relating to the governor Nehemiah.

We continue now with Fraioli’s earlier section on The French Tradition, where she briefly considers Clovis I (pp. 44-45), and then proceeds on to Pepin (p. 46), emphasis added:


Clovis I (d. 511) and the Franks


…. At his baptism, King Clovis was anointed with a holy balm, or salve … in a ceremony blending kingship and religion. According to the contemporary chronicle of Gregory of Tours, the anointing of Clovis occurred by the grace of God, prompting Gregory to draw an analogy between Clovis and the sacred kingship of David in the Old Testament. ….


Pepin the Short (d. 768)


…. Pepin the Short … receives the credit for introducing the ritual of sacred anointing, or consecration, into the installation ceremony for French kings. …. As Patrick Simon has stated, Pepin’s innovation consisted of “legitimizing through a religious ceremony a power obtained by force …”.

…. The union of king and clergy provided mutual benefit …. An aura of prestige now surrounded the king, whom the pope called the “new David” ….


[End of quotes]


Again, we recall the famous anointing with “the horn of oil” of David the shepherd, the youngest son of Jesse, by Samuel the high priest and prophet, after Samuel had rejected one by one David’s seven older brothers (1 Samuel 16:1-13). After the death of Saul (Samuel was also dead by now) David was anointed again, at Hebron, as king of all Israel (2 Samuel 5:3).

Now Pepin, likewise, was twice crowned (Fraioli, p. 46. Emphasis added): “The second coronation, celebrated at Saint-Denis in 754 [AD], cleverly reconnected Pepin’s reign to the Merovingians through his wife, big-foot Bertha, a descendant of Clovis, which provided fictional continuity to French kingship”.

King David is sometimes found going so far, it seems, as to act out the priest’s rôle, as for example when he had triumphantly returned the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, and he subsequently offered “burnt offerings and the offering of well-being before the Lord” (2 Samuel 6:17).

Both David and Pepin were warrior-kings and men of great personal courage. Pepin is famous, in his youthful days, like David, for his courage against wild animals, including lions. Daniel-Rops (op. cit., p. 387) tells of it: “A well-known picture, which was already very popular in the Middle Ages, has impressed on our minds the features of this thickset, broad-shouldered little man who, for a wager, amused himself by separating a lion and a bull who were in the middle of a fight in the circus arena”.

In the case of David, this courage is manifest, not “in the circus arena”, but in the field. More serious, and we might say less frivolous, was David’s situation, when the giant, Goliath, was challenging the armies of Israel. Then David said to Saul (1 Samuel 17:34-36):


‘Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down and kill it. Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God’.


Pepin was nicknamed “the Short”.

Was David also short? He probably was not of very tall stature. When the prophet Samuel came to Jesse’s boys, to anoint the one amongst them whom God had chosen, Samuel had been most impressed by Eliab, who was apparently of a good height (1 Samuel 16:6-7). So, we could probably draw the conclusion that, when the Lord advised Samuel not to look on “the height of [the candidate’s] stature” in making his choice, that David, the youngest of the boys, who eventually was chosen, was not that very tall. But David was of fine appearance, nonetheless: “Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome” (v. 12).


Charlemagne, “after the style of Solomon”


His Beginnings

Like Solomon, the young son, Charlemagne (said to be 26 at the time), succeeded his father. But some hazy legend seems to surround Charlemagne’s mother and the king’s own early years. Thus Daniel-Rops (op. cit., p. 391):


What had he done, this boy who was promised to such a lofty destiny, between that day in 742 when Bertha, the daughter of the Count of Laon – the ‘Bertha of the big feet’ of the chansons de gestes – brought him into the world in some royal villa or other in Austrasia, and the premature hour of his succession? No one really knows, and Einhard of all people, who faithfully chronicled his reign, is strangely discreet about his hero’s early years.

[End of quote]


In the case of Solomon, he was not born out of wedlock, as it is thought of Charlemagne. Rather it was Bathsheba’s child who had died as a result of king David’s sin of adultery with her (2 Samuel 12:16-23). Solomon himself was the child of ‘consolation’ for the pair after the sad death of this un-named child (v. 24).


Now were, perhaps, the French ‘Songs’ (or Chansons), the Song of Roland (La Chanson de Roland) and the “Songs of heroic deeds [or lineages]” (Chansons de gestes), inspired by, or even in part based upon, the biblical “Song of Songs” or “Canticle of Canticles” (also known as the “Song of Solomon”); a love poem that could well have inspired some of the famous French chivalric notions?

Was the ‘wisdom of Oliver’ in the Song of Roland inspired by the Wisdom of Solomon? “Oliver urges caution; wisdom and restraint are part of what makes him a good knight” (

Did the “giants” in these Chansons perhaps arise from the encounter between David and the giant Goliath? Wikipedia tells (article “Chanson de geste”):


Composed in Old French and apparently intended for oral performance by jongleurs, the chansons de geste narrate legendary incidents (sometimes based on real events) in the history of France during the eighth and ninth centuries, the age of Charles Martel, Charlemagne and Louis the Pious, with emphasis on their conflicts with the Moors and Saracens. To these historical legends, fantasy is gradually added; giants, magic, and monsters increasingly appear among the foes along with Muslims. ….

[End of quote]


His Birthplace

More than a dozen places are claiming the honour to be the birthplace of Charles.

The year of birth varies between 742 and 747 AD. Bertrada, the mother of Charles, was said to be a Bretonian princess, an Hungarian noble woman, or a member of the imperial family of Byzantium.

The competition for the throne between Charles and his brother, Carloman, is also very much like what we find in the biblical account of the challenge to the throne by Solomon’s brother, Adonijah (1 Kings 1:5-10). The mother may perhaps have been complicit in this (cf. 2:9). According to Daniel-Rops (op. cit., p. 395): “At the time of [Charles’] accession this question [of Italy, Rome and the Lombards] had been considerably confused owing to the political mistakes of Queen Bertha, his mother”. Solomon, like Carloman, seems to have been twice elected king (accession and coronation), and in the first case, in both instances, the mother appears to have played an ambiguous part.

Again, when Adonijah’s bid for the throne had failed, he cunningly approached Bathsheba to ask Solomon to give him the beautiful Abishag for his wife (2:13-18). When Bathsheba did approach Solomon, the latter acted out the pretence of complying with his mother’s request (2:2): “King Solomon answered his mother, ‘And why do you ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom as well! For he is my elder brother; ask not only for him but also for the priest Abiathar and for Joab the son of Zeruiah!’ [both of whom had supported Adonijah in his revolt against David and Solomon]”.

This situation can perhaps be likened to the case of what Daniel-Rops (op. cit., ibid.) has referred to as “these manoeuvres when Queen Bertha had married her elder son … to Desiderius’s [King of Pavia’s] daughter, Desideria”. Though, in the biblical story, Adonijah apparently was not actually a son of Bathsheba’s (1 Kings 1:5), nor of course did he manage to fulfil his wish of marrying Abishag, despite his desire for her. “Desideria” is certainly a most appropriate appellation for the much-desired Abishag. And soon I shall be showing, from another parallel situation between Solomon and Charlemagne, that Desideria well equates with this Abishag.

Of course Solomon was being completely sarcastic in his reply to Adonijah’s request via Bathsheba. The wise king fully appreciated the implications of the scheming Adonijah’s attaining the hand of David’s favourite, Abishag. Thus he added, chillingly (vv. 23-25):


‘So may God do to me, and more also [a typical idiom of the time], for Adonijah has devised this scheme at the risk of his life! Now therefore as the Lord lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of my father David, and who has made me a house as he promised, today Adonijah shall be put to death’. So King Solomon sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he struck him down, and he died.


Conveniently, likewise, Charlemagne’s brother died suddenly (Daniel-Rops, p. 391): “But scarcely three years had elapsed when an unexpected death completely broke these shackles …. Charles claimed his brother’s heritage and thus rebuilt the unity of the paternal realm under his leadership”.

Solomon’s sarcasm in the face of Bathsheba’s request may even have its faint glimmer in the case of the chaffing compliance of the young Charles towards his own mother (ibid., pp. 394-395): “Despite his twenty-five years Charles had appeared to defer to his energetic mother’s wishes. But he fretted under the restraint”.


His Natural Qualities

Like Solomon, Charlemagne was a most gifted individual, and the perfect king material (Daniel-Rops, p. 392):


Charles was … throughout his life – quick, far-sighted, and energetic. In these instinctive qualities lies the secret of his incomparably fruitful labour, and, to their service, a never-failing vigour lent an activity which was truly prodigious. ….And he had other complementary qualities, which decisively defined his grandeur: prudence, moderation, a realistic appreciation of the possible, a mistrust of unconsidered actions. It is the Emperor Augustus whom Charlemagne recalls, rather than Caesar or Alexander.


Or is it rather king Solomon “whom Charlemagne [most closely] recalls”?

As for “prudence” and his other cardinal virtues, as mentioned in the quote above, well, was not Solomon the first person to list these virtues (Wisdom of Solomon 8:7)?


His Appearance

What did Charlemagne look like?

“Truth to tell, nothing very detailed can be put forward on this point” (Daniel-Rops, ibid.).

What is certain is that Charlemagne was not in fact the giant ‘with the flowing beard’ whom Chanson de Roland has immortalized; the mighty build is a poetic exaggeration, and the beard is an anachronism which owes its origin to the Byzantine-Arab fashion which, in the tenth century, considered that all distinguished Western Europeans should be excessively hairy.

[End of quote]


The beard was of course de rigueur in Solomon’s era.

For an idealized (and even mighty) physical description of king Solomon and his Shunammite bride, from which Chanson de Roland may perhaps have gained some epic inspiration, see “Song of Songs” 5:10-16.


His Intelligence and Discernment

“Was he intelligent?”, asks Daniel-Rops (op. cit., p. 393), who then answers his question:


Most certainly; and when we think of his profound knowledge of men, of his ease at grasping situations, of the immensity of the tasks which he conceived and of the undertakings which he managed, we realize that his intelligence was far above the average”. And: “He unquestionably had a supreme appreciation of the overriding need of the moment – the foundation of a new culture – and this is one of the aspects of his character in which his genius shines forth most brilliantly”.


Solomon was of course the wisest of the wise; his name being a byword for wisdom. We read, for instance, in the Book of Ecclesiastes of king Solomon (12:9-14):



Besides being wise, the Teacher [Qoheleth] also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs. The Teacher sought to find pleasing words, and he wrote words of truth plainly. The sayings of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings that are given by one shepherd. Of anything beyond these, my child, beware. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

The end of the matter: all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.


Most of this could be applied to Charlemagne, we shall find, for we shall see unfurl the traditional multi-facetted concept of him as a pious, wise and culturally restructuring (even Renaissance-like) king.

There are many other examples, too, of Solomon’s extraordinary wisdom and discernment. Here are just a few:


1 Kings 4:29: “God gave Solomon very great wisdom, discernment, and breadth of understanding, as vast as the sand on the seashore”.

Wisdom 1:1: “Love righteousness, you rulers of the earth …”.

Ecclesiastes 9:1: “… how the righteous and the wise … are in the hand of God”.

Moreover, Solomon was not shy about broadcasting his wisdom and the fact that he had exceeded all others in it. For example (Ecclesiastes 1:16): “I said to myself, ‘I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has great experience of wisdom and knowledge’.”

However Solomon, in his ‘Prayer for Wisdom’ (Book of Wisdom 7:15-17), had attributed his wisdom to God:

“May God grant me to speak with judgment, and to have thoughts worthy of what I have received; for He is the guide even of wisdom and the corrector of the wise. For both we and our words are in His hand, as are all understanding and skill in crafts. For it is He who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists …”.

Ecclesiastes 1:12: “I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem applied my mind to seek and search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven …”.

Ecclesiastes 7:25: “I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things, and to know that wickedness is folly and that foolishness is madness”.


The multi-talented Solomon was, I have proposed, the genius Senenmut (or Senmut), a key organiser in 18th dynasty Egypt:


Solomon and Sheba


“by far the most powerful and important figure of [female pharaoh Hatshepsut’s] reign”, who was – like Solomon – not beyond self-praise: “I was the greatest of the great in the land”. Thus Senenmut.

King Solomon, too, exhorted other kings and officials to follow his way (Wisdom 6:1-9):


Listen therefore, O kings, and understand; learn, O judges of the ends of the earth. Give ear you that rule over multitudes, and boast of many nations. For your dominion was given you from the Lord, and your sovereignty from the Most High; he will search out your works and inquire into your plans. Because as servants of his kingdom you did not rule rightly, or keep the law, or walk according to the purpose of God, he will come upon you terribly and swiftly, because severe judgment falls on those in high places. For the lowliest may be pardoned in mercy, but the mighty will be mightily tested. For the Lord of all will not stand in awe of anyone, or show deference to greatness; because he himself made both small and great, and he takes thought for all alike. But a strict inquiry is in store for the mighty. To you then, O monarchs, my words are directed, so that you may learn wisdom and not transgress.


His Repudiated Wife

Charlemagne, according to Daniel-Rops (op. cit., p. 396): “… repudiated Desideria, his Lombard wife, and sent her back to Pavia post-haste.

Solomon also divorced “the Queen of Sheba”, Hatshepsut, and sent her back to Egypt. This, as I have explained following the terrific research of Dr. Ed Metzler (, is the full meaning of the Hebrew of 1 Kings 10:13, that now translates weakly as: “Then she returned to her own land, with her servants”. Metzler has suggested that the biblical phrase “she [Sheba] turned” (to go back home) indicates ‘divorce’ (Latin divortium, from divertere, “to turn away”) ….

The Europeans of the Middle Ages would have known of Solomon only from the Bible. They did not have the advantages that we have today of archaeology and other knowledges – and even today this era can still be so poorly known.

Solomon’s divorce of ‘the Queen of Sheba’ was all purely political.

Despite King David’s having made absolutely clear his wish regarding the succession in favour of his son, Solomon, there arose ‘the Abishag incident’, in relation to which Queen Bathsheba was involved in an intrigue with Solomon’s brother for the throne. And, just as Solomon went counter to his mother, Queen Bathsheba, on behalf of David, so, we find from Daniel-Rops (op. cit., ibid.) that: “Bertha’s policy was abruptly abandoned, and Charlemagne was returning to that pursued by Pepin”.

Charlemagne’s triumph is recounted by Daniel-Rops as follows (ibid., p. 397):


At Easter 774, in a grandiose ceremony, the victorious Frank was to be received at St. Peter’s like a hero; the three doors of the basilica were opened in his honour. As he ascended the steps he kissed them piously, one by one, and prostrated himself upon the apostle’s ‘confession’, whilst the choir sang: ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’


Cf. The Accession of King Solomon: 1 Kings 1:28-48.

And the proclamation here: ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’, is of course straight out of David’s Psalm 118:26.


His Morality and His Piety

“As for his personal morals, they too remained typical of his epoch: this virile man, who married four times certainly followed Old rather than new Testament practices in his private life” (Daniel-Rops, ibid. Emphasis added).

Solomon was of course a serial polygamist.

Charlemagne was most definitely a religious man, too (ibid., p. 394):


Charles was personally devout, rigorously observant in his prayers and his fasting (and the latter cut into his fine appetite), and he was indeed the man as portrayed by the chroniclers, the man who attended interminable religious services entirely of his own free will, his own strong voice mingling with those of the choir.


We could expect that Solomon might have inherited some of David’s musicianship.

Charlemagne was a wise and religious ruler, and here is where Daniel-Rops does actually liken him to King Solomon (ibid., 394-395. Emphasis added):


To make his subjects live in perfect harmony, to establish the concordia pacis between men, above all to fight against all the evils which ravaged the world: famine, cruelty, and injustice – such was the ideal of this mighty and awe-inspiring monarch …. And the certainty which this man held at the bottom of his heart, of ‘taking the place of God on earth, of having, as his task, the exaltation of His Law [the Torah?]’ …. Charles is, on the historical plane, a witness of God, after the style of Solomon….

[End of quote]


Cf. King Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication of the Temple: 1 Kings 8:22-61.

Solomon also acted like a priest on this important and triumphal occasion (vv. 62-64).


His Imperial Coronation

It is unclear whether Charles requested the coronation, or whether he was crowned unexpectedly by the Pope. It is not clear whether there was a formal coronation or an acclamation. Einhard reports just the ‘acceptance of the imperial title’. Andreas from Bergamo (9th century), Bonizo from Sutri (11th century), Gero from Reichersberg (12th century) and Nicolaus Cusanus (15th century) don’t know anything about an emperor Charles.

Similarly Daniel-Rops has written (op. cit., p. 402):


There only remains the … element which was responsible for the great event of Christmas 800: Charles’s own will. This is the point upon which we know the least. Was the imperial coronation the result of a well-matured plan on the part of the Frankish leader, a ladder which he had long ago resolved to climb? It is quite impossible to give an answer.


And Fraioli writes (p. 47):


So on Christmas day 800, in commemoration of the birth of Christ, a surprise coronation took place … Charlemagne, whom his biographer Einhard described as persuaded of his own God-given mission to unite western Christendom …. was looked upon as king and priest (rex et sacerdos).


But now it is Charlemagne who is the ‘new [king] David’. Thus Daniel-Rops (p. 400): “Next the pontiff [Leo III] anointed the forehead of the ‘new David’ with sacred oil and, uniting the ceremonial imposed, since Diocletian’s time, by the protocol of the Roman emperors, with the ancient biblical rite, he prostrated himself before him and ‘adored him’.”

No wonder the French kings came to consider themselves the rightful descendants of the Israelite royalty!

“The triple and ritual acclamation” to which Daniel-Rops refers in this part (ibid.) is also seemingly reminiscent of the triple procedure used by pharaoh Thutmose I to crown Hatshepsut (“Queen of the South”).

Like Solomon, Charlemagne reigned for at least four decades.


His Empire

Whilst Solomon’s empire lay entirely in the ancient region of ‘the Fertile Crescent’ (Egypt; Syro-Palestine; Mesopotamia), as reconstructed in my various articles on him, to Charlemagne are attributed European conquests; firstly, Italy, Rome and the Lombards. “The ease with which Charles could impose his rule on Italy in this way remains astonishing” (Daniel-Rops, op. cit., p. 397). Then, he pushed back Islam and conquered the entire Germanic world, so that (ibid., p. 401): “His domain, which spread to the Elbe, to the middle Danube, to Brussels, and even as far as the outskirts of Rome, seemed now too large for the ordinary world ‘realm’ to fit it any longer”.

In Solomon’s case, he would have been pushing back, not Germans and Islamic armies, but Philistines, Syro-Hittites, Elamites and Nubians.


His Ally, Harun al-Rashid

Finally, the whole Charlemagnian scene does shift to the east.

Daniel-Rops introduces this exotic phase in the life of Charlemagne as follows, once again making allusion to Solomon (and also now to “the Queen of Sheba”), p. 410:


Another aspect of Charlemagne’s ‘Christian policy’ struck his contemporaries very strongly; it is almost unbelievable, and brings into his career, which is almost devoid of poetic quality, a note of exotic charm similar to that which the visit of the Queen of Sheba casts upon the reign of Solomon; in other words, his relations with Haroun-al-Raschid, the Caliph of Bagdad.


I would be more emphatic here and suggest that it is more than “almost unbelievable”. It is unbelievable!

Harun al-Raschid belongs to the world of fairy tales! “Harun al-Raschid has become famous as protagonist in tales from One Thousand and One Night[s]”.



Charles exchanged diplomats with Harun al-Raschid, the Caliph of Baghdad, who sent him the white elephant Abul Abbas, which took part in all journeys and military actions of Charles between 802 and 810 AD. Arab sources do not mention these relations. Harun al-Raschid has become famous as protagonist in tales from One Thousand and One Night[s].

In a Solomonic context, Harun is not unlike the king of Israel’s great Phoenician ally, Hiram, king of Tyre. Though Hiram’s power extended much further than Tyre; for he, as I have argued in my “King Hiram” article (ref. above), was also the mighty merchant-king Iarim-Lim of the Aleppo region, who was able militarily to threaten with extermination rulers as far away as Babylonia (the region of the exotic Harun), if they failed to pay for his shipbuilding services.

King Hiram had told Solomon that the Galilean towns that the latter had given him in payment for his services were “Cabul” (1 Kings 9:13), virtually ‘rubbish dumps’. According to Daniel-Rops (ibid.), Harun “was an intelligent, well-educated, and relatively sympathetic man …”. And Daniel-Rops continues with his account of Harun:


Probably no Eastern ruler ever equalled the glory of this great caliph: he lived in the palace of the ‘Golden Gate’, whose famous green dome dominated the Mesopotamian plain, amongst his priceless carpets and tapestries, in the midst of a gigantic court of servants, concubines and eunuchs, and he was worthy indeed to become the hero of the Arabian Nights. But he was also a skilful diplomat and a soldier.

[End of quote]


The architecture, the lavish courts and the multitudes of servants, as well as the skill factor in ruling and conquering, all are perfectly true of Hiram, too, especially in his partnership with the magnificent Solomon. The royal pair had fleets of ships visiting the most exotic regions, for gold, slaves, precious myrrh and rare spices, and other quite unique flora and fauna. I have suggested that Solomon and Hiram were actually turning Palestine at the time into a zoo and a botanical gardens; a lot of which atmosphere is reflected in the exotic “Song of Songs”.

It is such a pity that the archaeologists have been looking at the wrong strata levels for the cosmopolitan Late Bronze phase of king Solomon.

The harmonious relations between the two sovereigns were marked by exchanges of gifts, which the Carolingian chroniclers enlarge upon charmingly and freely. Everyone at Aix-la-Chapelle was enraptured by the arrival of a chess set with the figures finely carved in ivory, of spices with unknown scents, of a clock which moved by means of a cunning hydraulic mechanism, and even of elephants and other strange animals!


Part Two: Archaeology of Charlemagne


 For AD history to be fully convincing and to be made to rest on firm foundations, it

will need to undergo a rigorous revision similar to the one that scholars have been undertaking for BC history, with the application of a revised stratigraphy.

There may be some indications that the history of Charlemagne is yet far from having been established on such firm stratigraphical foundations.   


The following will be based upon the research of some pioneering European revisionists (Illig; Niemitz; Topper) who have bravely embarked upon a re-assessment of AD time. Whilst I may not necessarily agree with all of their conclusions, or their revised models, I would applaud them for having undertaken so necessary a revision.


Charlemagne’s Economy


The findings of historians regarding Charles’ economy show extreme contradictions: Some concede abundant wealth to Charles, while others have to complain economic decay. Jan Beaufort writes (“Illig’s Hypothesis on Phantom Times – FAQ”:


Economy: The findings of historians regarding Charles’ economy show extreme contradictions: Some concede abundant wealth to Charles, while others have to complain economic decay. [DeM 161 ff.] As Heinsohn has shown recently, coins attributed to Charles (or, likewise Charles the Bald-head) cannot be distinguished from the coins of Charles the Simple (898-929). According to Illig, Carolus Simplex has been a real Carolingian and the model for Charlemagne. The attribute “simplex” (= stupid, but likewise single, not-duplicated) has been used for the first time following the turn of the millennium. [Heinsohn (2001)]



Charlemagne’s Capital City

and His Cultural Achievements


‘The Carolingian Renaissance’, as Daniel-Rops calls it (The Church in the Dark Ages, p. 422), centred on Aix-la-Chapelle. But Aix-la-Chapelle is considered to have been a rather unusual geographical choice anyway:


The vital centre of this Renaissance was Aix-la-Chapelle, the ancient ‘villa’ of Pepin the Short’s time, which was situated some distance off the great Roman roads. From 794 onwards Charlemagne made it into a Carolingian Versailles, judging from its intellectual atmosphere and the splendour of its appearance. The geographical position of this new capital has given rise to much discussion: why was this Rhineland area chosen, rather than some town in Gaul, or even Rome itself? …. Aix was the centre of the intellectual Renaissance; and the centre of Aix, and especially the Palatine school, was a kind of general headquarters of the mind, which influenced the entire empire ….

[End of quote]


Amongst this august group was Charlemagne himself, now “known as David”; this being about the only seemingly eastern factor in what comes across as a very European ‘club of gentlemen’ (ibid., p. 424):


The leaders of this pleiade of scholars and cultured men formed a sort of club, a small, self-contained group. Historians are accustomed to call this group the Palatine Academy. Each of its members bore a pseudonym borrowed from antiquity. Charlemagne himself, who was not a whit averse to residing over this learned assembly, was known as David, which overestimated the power of the cantor of the Psalms and overrated even more outrageously the poetic talents of the son of Pepin!

[End of quote]


Charlemagne is also, like King Solomon, famed for his architectural achievements. Thus Daniel-Rops, p. 425:


…. Because the building, decoration, and beautifying of the House of God was one of the major preoccupations of the master, architecture and the plastic arts developed so much that Dawson has been able to write: ‘Charlemagne founded a Holy Roman architecture as well as a Holy Roman Empire’. In fact, it was not only Roman, but followed tendencies which we have already noticed in the Merovingian epoch, mingling Eastern and remote Asiatic influence with the revival of classical features.

But sadly – as somewhat also with king Solomon (but in his case due to centuries of destruction and looting, and also to the failure by archaeologists to identify Solomon’s era stratigraphically): “We no longer possess many examples of the architecture of this great reign”.

[End of quote]


Beaufort would concur with the fact of this dearth of architectural evidence (op. cit.):


Buildings: As we know from the ancient texts, between 476 and 855 AD more than 1695 large buildings were erected, including 312 cathedrals, 1254 convents and 129 royal palaces. The historian Harald Braunfels: “Of all these buildings [until 1991] only 215 were examined by archaeologists. Artefacts were found only at a fraction of these buildings. One may count with ten fingers the number of buildings that still exist as a whole or as a significant fraction.” [DeM 208]


Publisher Heribert Illig, who has advanced the historical conspiracy theory known as the phantom time hypothesis, has made this observation about the “masterpiece of Carolignian architecture” (as told by Beaufort):


Pfalzkapelle Aachen: The masterpiece of Carolingian architecture, the Chapel of St. Mary at Aachen (about 792-799) is unique. Its direct predecessor (Ravenna’s San Vitale) had been erected some 200 years earlier. Buildings comparable to Aachen in style and technology were not erected until the advent of the Romanesque style in the 11th century. Consequently, Illig assumes the Pfalzkapelle to be a Romanesque building of the 11th century.

[End of quote]


In other words, Illig claims it to be quite anachronistic.


His Burial and Tomb


Beaufort tells about this (op. cit.):


Burial: Charles’ burial place is the Pfalzkapelle at Aachen (his explicit will to find his grave beneath his father at Saint-Denis had been ignored). This contradicted the general prohibition of burials within churches, proclaimed by councils held under Charles at Aachen (809) and Mainz (813). [DeM 44 f.]


And again:


Tomb: Charles’ tomb had been camouflaged so well (in fear of the raiding Normans) that it could not be localized for two centuries. In the year 1000 the emperor Otto III discovers the tomb. He finds Charles sitting on his throne. Again the tomb became forgotten until it was found once more and reopened by Friedrich Barbarossa. Then again, the tomb disappeared and was never found again. For comparison: The tomb of Otto I in the dome of Magdeburg has always been honoured – despite of all destructions and rebuilds of this church. [DeM 44 ff.]


His Cult and Biography


And, again from the same source:

  • Cult: Friedrich Barbarossa (1152-1190) is said to have coined the term Sacrum Romanum Imperium. Friedrich gave order to exhumate Charles, and to canonize him. Most known forgeries referring to Charles were produced during Friedrich’s lifetime. The reliquary for Charles’ arm (dated about 1170) displays the imperial attitude of Barbarossa in reference to Charlemagne. [DeM 338]
  • Biography: Leopold von Ranke classifies the biography of Charles, written by his palatial clerk Einhard: “The small volume is full of historical errors […]. Frequently, the years of reign are false […]; about the split of the empire between the two brothers the opposite of what really happened is reported […]; the names of the popes were confused, the spouses and children of Charles were not noted correctly; so many offences have been found that the authenticity of the book has been questioned quite often, although it is beyond all doubt.” [DeM 345]
  • Tradition: Charles’ son in law Angilbert rhymes in 799 an epos, where he denotes Charles to be the “light of Europe”, “Head of the world; summit of Europe; father of Europe; most graceful father; hero”. But in 799 Charles was not yet crowned as the emperor. [DeM 35 f.] In an essay for the Spiegel magazine (“A dark lighthouse”), Johannes Fried has shown that the myth of Charles as the “father of Europe” came up very much later as a product of a romantic Napoleonism and even Hitlerism. [Fried]

[End of quotes]

It seems that French kings too, such as Philip II and Louis IX, did much to enhance the reputation of the glorious ‘Charlemagne’. D. Fraioli takes up this point (Joan of Arc and the Hundred Years War, pp. 49-50, 51, 52.):


Philip II Augustus (r. 1180-1223)


…. Entranced by the life and imperial image of Charlemagne, to whom he must have considered himself in many ways parallel, Philip consciously patterned himself on the model of the great Christian emperor. …. In the twelfth century, Charlemagne was primarily known through literary rather than historical works. Philip had certainly listened to the popular epic poems about national heroes – the most prominent being Charlemagne – called chansons de geste. ….


Louis IX (r. 1226-1270)

…. Hincmar’s legend of the Holy Ampulla was permanently incorporated into the coronation ritual. As a result, it was declared, with far-reaching consequences, that because French rulers were appointed with oil sent from heaven, the king of France “outshines all the kings of the earth”.

…. As others before him, Saint Louis maintained that the consecration of French kings was intimately connected to the original anointings of Old Testament kings.


[End of quotes]




Hopefully this series has provided sufficient indications that the true Charlemagne must needs be sifted out from the larger-than-life, and often biblically-based “Charlemagne” we read about in the text books.


And, obviously, a proper archaeology needs to be developed to underpin all of this.


Part Three: Archaeology of King Solomon


Three entirely different – supposedly historical – eras, with their accompanying archaeologies, can presently be identified for King Solomon, the wise king of C10th BC Israel.



Whilst a major problem regarding an historical Charlemagne appears to be, from previous considerations, a lack of due archaeological evidence, in the case of Solomon the archaeology is there, but it is not recognised.

The current system of archaeology that underlies a badly warped conventional chronology of antiquity has so ‘knocked into a three-cornered cocked hat’ the era of the wise King Solomon as to render that era today virtually unidentifiable.

The ‘three corners’, that each point in quite different directions, are as follows:


  1. The Era of Hammurabi (c. 1800 BC). Middle Bronze I (2000-1750 BC);
  2. Hatshepsut, 18th Dynasty Egypt (C15th BC). Late Bronze I (1550-1400 BC);
  3. Solomon (biblically c. 950 BC), conventionally Iron Age IIA (1000-900 BC).


Let us consider 1-3 in turn:


  1. The Era of Hammurabi

That the true era of the splendid King Hammurabi of Babylon has mystified historians is apparent from the fact that he, famously described by Dr. D. Courville as “floating about in a liquid chronology of Chaldea”, was originally dated as far back as the mid-third millennium BC, then to c. 2100 BC. Whilst, even today, various high and low chronologies can be proposed for the king, the general opinion is that he is to be dated to c. 1800 BC.

Conventionally, this is the Middle Bronze Age I period.

As we shall see, the need for the significant lowering of Hammurabi from 2100 BC to 1800 BC is based on the flimsiest of evidence.

Dr. Courville’s revision of, especially Egyptian, ancient history (in The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications, 2 vols., 1971) next ‘conveyed’ this misunderstood king to what ought now be regarded as, for him, a far more realistic historical location, in the C15th BC, but still based on very flimsy evidence. The Hammurabi conundrum was finally solved by Dean Hickman (“The Dating of Hammurabi”, Proc. 3rd Seminar of Catastrophism and Ancient History, Uni. of Toronto, 1985, 13-28), who finally laid Hammurabi safely to rest in the C10th BC era of kings David and Solomon.

I have no doubt that this is the correct era for King Hammurabi. See my:

Hammurabi and Zimri-Lim as Contemporaries of Solomon


Hammurabi and Zimri-Lim as Contemporaries of Solomon. Part Two: Zimri-lim’s Mari Palace and King Solomon



This well-documented era (e.g. the Mari archives) has begun to produce biblico-historical synchronisms similar to the abundant el-Amarna period, revised (C14th BC down to C9th BC).

And once its potential becomes fully appreciated by revisionists, it will no doubt produce even more abundantly, along the lines of the far more intensely investigated el-Amarna.


Hammurabic Anomalies


Stratigraphical and Astronomical


The universal influence of kings David and Solomon permeated the entire ancient world of the c. C10th BC, with 18th dynasty (Hatshepsut) Egypt, mentored by the great Senenmut (Solomon) (see 2.), being a most eager recipient.

Nor was Hammurabi’s Babylon to be deprived of this cultural overflow.

See e.g. my series:

Davidic Influence on King Hammurabi


Davidic Influence on King Hammurabi. Part Two: Hebrew and Babylonian Calendars


Davidic Influence on Hammurabi. Part Three: Epic Literature


Given Hammurabi’s proper location now at the time of kings David and Solomon, then Hammurabi could not possibly have been (that is, according to my revision) contemporaneous with the Middle Bronze I period, to where he is conventionally located, as the Middle Bronze I nomads were indubitably the Exodus Israelites.

Dr. I. Velikovsky had told, in his article “Hammurabi and the Revised Chronology”, of how King Hammurabi first came to be dated to c. 2100 BC, and of his chronological importance: “The period of Hammurabi also served as a landmark for the histories of the Middle East from Elam to Syria, and was used as a guide for the chronological tables of other nations”, and of Velikovsky’s own radical revision of the Hammurabic era (


Until a few decades ago, the reign of Hammurabi was dated to around the year 2100 before the present era. This dating was originally prompted by information contained in an inscription of Nabonidus … who reigned in the sixth century ….

In the foundations of a temple at Larsa, Nabonidus found a plaque of King Burnaburiash. This king is known to us from the el-Amarna correspondence in which he participated. On that plaque Burnaburiash wrote that he had rebuilt the temple erected seven hundred years before by King Hammurabi. The el-Amarna letters, according to conventional chronology, were written about -1400. Thus, if Burnaburiash lived then, Hammurabi must have lived about -2100.

When Egyptologists found it necessary to reduce the el-Amarna Age by a quarter of a century, the time of Hammurabi was adjusted accordingly, and placed in the twenty-first century before the present era. It was also observed: “The period of the First Dynasty of Babylon has always been a landmark in early history, because by it the chronology of Babylonia can be fixed, with a reasonable margin of error.”4 The period of Hammurabi also served as a landmark for the histories of the Middle East from Elam to Syria, and was used as a guide for the chronological tables of other nations.

Since the dates for Hammurabi were established originally on the evidence of the plaque of King Burnaburiash found by Nabonidus—which indicated that King Hammurabi had reigned seven hundred years earlier—the revision of ancient history outlined in Ages in Chaos would set a much later date for Hammurabi, for it places the el-Amarna correspondence and King Burnaburiash in the ninth, not the fourteenth, century. Burnaburiash wrote long letters to Amenhotep III and Akhnaton, bore himself in a haughty manner and demanded presents in gold, jewels, and ivory. In the same collection of letters, however, there are many which we have identified as originating from Ahab of Samaria and Jehoshaphat of Jerusalem, and from their governors.5

Therefore, seven hundred years before this correspondence would bring us to the sixteenth century, not the twenty-first. Also, the end of the First Babylonian Dynasty—in circumstances recalling the end of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt—would point to some date close to -1500, or even several decades later.

A connecting link was actually found between the First Babylonian Dynasty and the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt, the great dynasty of the Middle Kingdom. At Platanos on Crete, a seal of the Hammurabi type was discovered in a tomb together with Middle Minoan pottery of a kind associated at other sites with objects of the Twelfth Egyptian Dynasty,6 more exactly, of its earlier part.7 This is regarded as proof that these two dynasties were contemporaneous.

In the last several decades, however, a series of new discoveries have made a drastic reduction of the time of Hammurabi imperative. Chief among the factors that demand a radical change in the chronology of early Babylonia and that of the entire Middle Eastern complex—a chronology that for a long time was regarded as unassailable—are the finds of Mari, Nuzi, and Khorsabad. At Mari on the central Euphrates, among other rich material, a cuneiform tablet was found which established that Hammurabi of Babylonia and King Shamshi-Adad I of Assyria were contemporaries. An oath was sworn by the life of these two kings in the tenth year of Hammurabi, The finds at Mari “proved conclusively that Hammurabi came to the throne in Babylonia after the accession of Shamshi-Adad I in Assyria”.8

Shamshi-Adad I could not have reigned in the twenty-first century since there exist lists of Assyrian kings which enable us to compute regnal dates. Being compilations of later times, it is admitted by modern research that “the figures in king lists are not infrequently erroneous”.9 But in 1932 a fuller and better-preserved list of Assyrian king names was found at Khorsabad, capital of Sargon II. Published ten years later, in 1942, it contains the names of one hundred and seven Assyrian kings with the number of years of their reigns. Shamshi-Adad I, who is the thirty-first on the list, but the first of the kings whose regnal years are given in figures, reigned much later than the time originally allotted to Hammurabi whose contemporary he was.

The Khorsabad list ends in the tenth year of Assur-Nerari V, which is computed to have been -745; at that time the list was composed or copied. By adding to the last year the sum of the regnal years, as given in the list of the kings from Shamshi-Adad to Assur-Nerari, the first year of Shamshi-Adad is calculated to have been -1726 and his last year -1694. These could be the earliest dates; with a less liberal approach, the time of Shamshi-Adad needs to be relegated to an even later date.

The result expressed in the above figures required a revolutionary alteration in Babylonian chronology, for it reduced the time of Hammurabi from the twenty-first century to the beginning of the seventeenth century. The realization that the dating of Hammurabi must be brought forward by three and a half centuries created “a puzzling chronological discrepancy”,10 which could only be resolved by making Hammurabi later than Amenemhet I of the Twelfth Dynasty.

The process of scaling down the time of Hammurabi is an exciting spectacle. Sidney Smith and W. F. Albright competed in this scaling down; as soon as one of them offered a more recent date, the other offered a still more recent one, and so it went until Albright arrived at -1728 to -1686 for Hammurabi, and S. Smith—by placing Shamshi-Adad from -1726 to -1694—appeared to start Hammurabi at -1716.11

If Hammurabi reigned at the time allotted to him by the finds at Mari and Khorsabad—but according to the finds at Platanos was a contemporary of the Egyptian kings of the early Twelfth Dynasty—then that dynasty must have started at a time when, according to the accepted chronology, it had already come to its end. In conventionally-written history, by -1680 not only the Twelfth Dynasty, but also the Thirteenth, or the last of the Middle Kingdom, had expired.

[End of quotes]


As noted above, Hammurabi underwent a significant chronological shift at the hands of the conventional historians “based on the flimsiest of evidence”. Owing to the discovery of that one seal at Platanos, that was thought to look Hammurabic-ish, and due to a vague piece of neo-Babylonian chronological information, and even vaguer astronomy (see below), Hammurabi has become conventionally set as a contemporary of the 12th dynasty of Egypt. Hammurabi, therefore, stratigraphically and wrongly placed at the time of the wandering Israelites (Middle Bronze Age I), has been located in relation to dynastic Egypt – again quite wrongly according to my revision – to the time of Moses. See e.g. my:


Pharaoh of the Exodus


Hammurabi needs to be lowered from here by about half a millennium!


However, supposedly in support of the 12th dynasty synchronism for Hammurabi, is the astronomical information as supplied by the famous Venus tablets of Hammurabi’s descendant Ammisaduqa. Charles Ginenthal, who has managed to find a place for both Hammurabi and the 12th dynasty of Egypt during the Persian era – following professor G. Heinsohn’s most radical view that Hammurabi was the same as Darius I – writes as follows about Ammisaduqa (


The scientific method by which the Old Babylonians were dated to the early part of the second millennium B.C., and not to Persian times, was based on astronomy and in particular on the Venus tablets of an Old Babylonian king named Ammisaduqa. This was taken to be the absolute anchor of Mesopotamia in the second millennium B.C. to which it was fastened. Since this placement aligned itself with that of the 12th Egyptian Dynasty, also in the early part of the second millennium B.C., it was seen as a double anchor point.


He then adds this most significant information about how the highly-respected Otto Neugebauer came to view the Ammisaduqa data:

…. Otto Neugebauer originally maintained that because the Venus tablets “are given in the contemporary lunar calendar, these documents have become an important element for the determination of the chronology of the Hammurapi [Old Babylonian] period. …”14 This was in 1957. Then in 1983 he claimed:

“From the Old Babylonian period only one isolated text is preserved which contains omina … from the later astrology. Predictions derived from observations of Venus made during the reign of Ammisaduqa (ca. 1600 B.C.) are preserved only in copies written almost a thousand years later and clearly [were] subjected to several changes during this long time. We are thus again left in the dark as to the actual date of the composition of these documents.”15 [emphasis added]

[End of quotes]


  1. Hatshepsut and Senenmut: 18th Dynasty Egypt


The Late Bronze Era of the early 18th Egyptian Dynasty – and not the Middle Bronze I (conventional Hammurabic), nor the Iron II (conventional Solomonic) – is the stratigraphical phase that truly reflects the cosmopolitan reign of King Solomon of Israel.




In 1., we considered King Solomon as a contemporary of the Hammurabic era, which latter era, however, then needed to be dislodged from its date of c. 1800 BC; and from its supposed contemporaneity with the 12th dynasty of Egypt; and from its archaeological situation in the Middle Bronze Age I. King Hammurabi’s era, revised, properly dates to the C10th BC; is contemporaneous with the 18th dynasty of Hatshepsut’s Egypt; and belongs archaeologically to the Late Bronze Age.

We can be more specific about King Solomon. He was, according to my article:

Solomon and Sheba


Hatshepsut’s right-hand man and mentor, Senenmut (Senmut).

Dr. John Bimson had, in a ground-breaking article:


Can There be a Revised Chronology Without a Revised Stratigraphy?


achieved what the conventional archaeologists have so miserably failed to do. He identified archaeologically this glorious era of Solomon (my Senenmut), Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. Here is the relevant portion of Bimson’s article:


  • The Late Bronze Age and the Reign of Solomon


…. Though chiefly concerned with dating the start of LB I A relative to the Hyksos period, I also suggested briefly that the transition to LB I B belonged in the reign of Solomon [13]. Research carried out since that article was written has led me to modify that view. Although an exhaustive study of the LBA contexts of all scarabs commemorating Hatshepsut and Thutmose III would be required to establish this point, a preliminary survey suggests that objects from the joint reign of these two rulers do not occur until the transition from LB I to LB II, and that scarabs of Thutmose III occur regularly from the start of LB II onwards, and perhaps no earlier [14]. Velikovsky’s chronology makes Hatshepsut (with Thutmose III as co-ruler) a contemporary of Solomon, and Thutmose III’s sole reign contemporary with that of Rehoboam in Judah [15]. Therefore, if the revised chronology is correct, these scarabs would suggest that Solomon’s reign saw the transition from LB I to LB II, rather than that from LB I A to LB I B.

Placing the beginning of LB II during the reign of Solomon produces a very good correlation between archaeological evidence and the biblical record of that period. It is with this correlation that we will begin. In taking the LB I – II transition as its starting-point, the present article not only takes up the challenge offered by Stiebing, but also continues the revision begun in my previous articles, and will bring it to a conclusion (in broad outline) with the end of the Iron Age.

Though KENYON has stated that the LB I – II transition saw a decline in the material culture of Palestine [16], ongoing excavations are now revealing a different picture. LB II A “was definitely superior to the preceding LB I”, in terms of stability and material prosperity; it saw “a rising population that reoccupied long abandoned towns” [17]. Foreign pottery imports are a chief characteristic of the period [18]. According to the biblical accounts in the books of Kings and Chronicles, Solomon’s reign brought a period of peace which saw an increase in foreign contacts, unprecedented prosperity, and an energetic building programme which extended throughout the kingdom [19].

I Kings 9:15 specifically relates that Solomon rebuilt Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. In the revised stratigraphy envisaged here, the cities built by Solomon at these sites would therefore be those of LB II A. More specifically, these three Solomonic cities would be represented by Stratum VIII in Area AA at Megiddo [20], by Stratum XVI at Gezer, and by Stratum XIV of the Upper City at Hazor (= Str. Ib of the Lower City) [21].

The wealth and international trade attested by these levels certainly reflect the age of Solomon far more accurately than the Iron Age cities normally attributed to him, from which we have “no evidence of any particular luxury” [21a].

The above-mentioned strata at Megiddo and Gezer have both yielded remains of very fine buildings and courtyards [22]. The Late Bronze strata on the tell at Hazor have unfortunately not produced a clear picture, because of levelling operations and extensive looting of these levels during the Iron Age; but the LB II A stratum of the Lower City has produced a temple very similar in concept to the Temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem, as described in the Old Testament [23].

Art treasures from these cities not only indicate the wealth of the period, but reflect contacts with Egypt and northern Mesopotamia [24]. These contacts are precisely those we would expect to find attested during Solomon’s reign, the Bible records Solomon’s trade with Egypt and his marriage to the Pharaoh’s daughter [25], and says (I Kings 4:24) that his kingdom extended as far to the north-east as Tiphsah, which is probably to be identified with Thapsacus, “an important crossing in the west bank of the Middle Euphrates … placed strategically on a great east-west trade route” [26].

The Bible adds extra detail concerning Gezer: namely, that Solomon rebuilt it after it had been captured and burnt by the Pharaoh, who had given the site to his daughter, Solomon’s wife, as a dowry (I Kings 9:16-17). In Velikovsky’s chronology, this pharaoh is identified as Thutmose I [27]. In the revised stratigraphy considered here, we would expect to find evidence for this destruction of Gezer at some point during LB I, and sure enough we do, including dramatic evidence of burning [28]. The “latest possible date” for this destruction is said to be the reign of Thutmose III, with some archaeologists preferring an earlier date [29]. We may readily identify this destruction as the work of Solomon’s father-in-law.

From the period between this destruction and the LB II A city comes a group of several dozen burials in a cave. DEVER remarks that most of these “show signs of advanced arthritis, probably from stoop labour, which may be an indication of the hardships of life during this period” [30]. Yet contemporary finds, including “Egyptian glass, alabaster and ivory vessels, and a unique terra-cotta sarcophagus of Mycenaean inspiration” [31], indicate considerable prosperity and international trade at this time. In a revised framework, it is tempting to speculate that the burials were of people who suffered under Solomon’s system of forced labour, by which Gezer was built according to I Kings 9:15. It emerges in I Kings 12 that this forced labour caused sufficient hardship to contribute to the bitterness which split the kingdom after Solomon’s death.

We must turn briefly to Jerusalem, where Solomon’s building activities were concentrated for the first twenty years of his reign, according to I Kings 9:10. Here we find that traces of occupation datable to Solomon’s time in the conventional scheme are rather poor [32] In the revised scheme, we may attribute to Solomon the impressive stone terrace system of LBA date excavated by Kenyon on the eastern ridge [33]. In fact, this is probably the “Millo” which Solomon is said to have built (I Kings 9:15, 24; II:27). Kenyon describes the nucleus of this terrace system as “a fill almost entirely of rubble, built in a series of compartments defined by facings of a single course of stones…” [34]. “Fill”, or “filling”, is the probable meaning of “Millo” [35]. Also to Solomon’s time would belong at least some of the LBA tombs discovered on the western slope of the Mount of Olives; many of these contain LB I – IIA material which includes “a surprisingly large number” of imported items from Cyprus, Aegean and Egypt [36]. The number would not be surprising in the context of Solomon’s reign. ….

Comparison of (A) LB II (Stratum Ib) temple at Hazor with (B) the basic ground plan of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, as deduced from biblical information. Both have a tripartite division on a single axis, side-rooms and a pair of free-standing pillars (though the latter are not identically situated in both cases)


[End of Bimson’s section]


Whilst much more work needs to be done, it seems obvious that Bimson’s Late Bronze Age placement of Solomon and Hatshepsut is far more appropriate than either Middle Bronze I or Iron Age II.



  1. Iron Age II


Iron Age II, the archaeological phase favoured by archaeologists for kings David and Solomon, turns out to be hopelessly inadequate as a representation of that glorious period.





As we read in 2., Dr. John Bimson, contrasting his view of the Late Bronze Age for King Solomon with the conventional view of Iron Age II for the great king, wrote:


I Kings 9:15 specifically relates that Solomon rebuilt Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. In the revised stratigraphy envisaged here, the cities built by Solomon at these sites would therefore be those of LB II A. More specifically, these three Solomonic cities would be represented by Stratum VIII in Area AA at Megiddo [20], by Stratum XVI at Gezer, and by Stratum XIV of the Upper City at Hazor (= Str. Ib of the Lower City) [21].

The wealth and international trade attested by these levels certainly reflect the age of Solomon far more accurately than the Iron Age cities normally attributed to him, from which we have “no evidence of any particular luxury” [21a].


That the bankrupt conventional arrangement of chronology and attendant stratigraphy falls to pieces completely when subjected to biblical scrutiny is well apparent from the attempted merging of the Solomonic era with a mis-dated archaeological phase: Iron II.

David and Solomon simply disappear. Thus professor Israel Finkelstein famously remarked – and quite logically according to the strictures of his conventional scheme:


“Now Solomon. I think I destroyed Solomon, so to speak. Sorry for that!”


(National Geographic article, “Kings of Controversy” by Robert Draper (David and Solomon, December 2010, p. 85).

What Finkelstein ought to have been “sorry” for, however, was not the wise King Solomon – who continues to exist as a real historical and archaeological entity, despite the confused utterances of the current crop of Israeli archaeologists – but for Finkelstein’s own folly in clinging to a hopelessly out-dated and bankrupt archaeological system that causes him to point every time to the wrong stratigraphical level for Israel’s Old Testament history (e.g. Exodus/Conquest; David and Solomon).

We may read of the current wretched minimalistic (re the Bible) situation at



1000–800 BC – Iron Age II


The memories of the events and persons from the heroic past are the memories that are reactivated. The Davidic monarchy was Judah’s Golden Age. The founders of Israel were not Abraham and Moses; but Saul and David. It was Saul who consolidated the hill farmers under his rule and created fighting units capable of confronting the Philistines. It was David who defeated the Philistines and united the hill farmers with the people of the Canaanite plains, thus establishing the Kingdom of Israel and its capital city. It is generally accepted among scholars today that there is some genuine historical material in the Books of Samuel, which describe the careers of Saul and David; but even these books must be critically examined to distinguish between legend and fact, in as much as it can ever be known.

As recently as the 1980s most scholars viewed the United Monarchy as a fairly secure period of historical reconstruction. Critics debated whether one could speak of the exodus as an actual historical event. Archaeology gives no record of Exodus, of forty years of wandering in the desert, of Joshua’s conquest of the land. But virtually all modern histories of ancient Israel included, if not commenced with, the monarchy of David and Solomon. Archaeological surveys showed that there were about 250 settlements in the central hill country of Canaan in Iron Age I (1200-1000 BC), as compared to about 50 settlements in Late Bronze Age II (14th-13th century BC). Such a large increase in settlements would have required the creation of a state apparatus, such as the United Kingdom.

This is no longer the case: even the Davidic Kingdom becomes reduced. “The United Monarchy no longer unites modern scholars”. During recent decades the scholarly consensus about the United Kingdom was undone. Many modern scholars question the historicity of the Bible’s stories about Saul, David, and Solomon. Doubts have been raised about the historicity of the biblical account, and consequently about the ascription of archaeological strata to this period.

In the opinion of most modern scholars, the Bible is not an entirely reliable historical document. Corroborating evidence is required, and some indeed exists; but it is not conclusive. There is an endeavor to pierce through the displacements and exaggerations of national pride which influenced the historical form of the statements and to discover actuality as it was and developed. This reveals the nature and value of the texts, but grasps also their connection with the original fact, their original relations, their mutual dependence or independence. In religious literature it is necessary to have regard to the conceptions embodied to see whether these are the original gift of the religion or whether they have entered during the course of the development.

There is a fundamental debate between maximalists, such as W.F. Albright and G.E. Wright, who gave considerable credence to biblical descriptions of the United Monarchy and minimalists, such as G. Garbini, N.P. Lemche, D.B. Hedford, and H.M. Niemann, who were rather hesitant to do so. Both these traditions remain very much alive, and many scholars adhere to one or the other of these broad categories. But a third school has emerged – nihilists who contend that the traditional theories of the United Monarchy are unfounded. Scholars such as P. Davies, M. Gelinas, and T. Thompson came to see Saul, David, and Solomon as the stuff of legend — the King Arthurs of ancient Israel. They view the whole narrative of the United Monarchy as a literary construct of scribes writing during the Persian or Hellenistic period. The whole idea of an historical Israel drawn from northern and southern constituencies and governed by a single monarch is seen as a literary fiction.

Iron Age Chronology and the United Monarchy of David and Solomon is the subject of an ongoing and long-standing controversy in both biblical studies and archaeology. The ‘conventional’ chronology, which places the Iron Age I | II transition (in Dor terminology: the Ir1|2 transition) around 1000 BC, is based on the biblical dating. The ‘low chronology’, inspired by the ‘minimalist’ or ‘nihilist’ stance, which regards the biblical narrative of this period as myth, dates the Iron Age I | II transition later, c. 900 BC.

The “Copenhagen School” of biblical researchers advocate a more radical revisionism than anything produced by Israel Finkelstein or his peers in the archaeology department at Tel-Aviv University. The Copenhagen School is the modern descendant of the approach taken in the nineteenth century by Julius Wellhausen, who argued that the Bible offered little in the way of actual history — that it was, as he put it, just a “glorified mirage”. Thompson wrote in his 1999 book The Mythic Past, “Today we no longer have a history of Israel…. There never was a ‘United Monarchy’ in history and it is meaningless to speak of pre-exilic prophets and their writings…. We can now say with considerable confidence that the Bible is not a history of anyone’s past.”

To quote Soggin [J. A. Soggin, “The Davidic-Solomonic Kingdom,” in Israelite and Judaean History, ed. J. H. Hayes and I. M. Miller, OTL (London: SCM, 1977), and ]. A. Soggin, “Prolegomena on the Approach to Historical Texts in the Hebrew Bible andthe Ancient Near East,” in Aumlmm Malmnat Volume (ed. S. Ahituv and B. A. Levine; Erlsr 24;jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1993) 215 ] “There are no traces even of the Davidic and Solomon empire outside the Bible and reasonable doubts have been expressed as to the reliability of the pertinent biblical sources.”

[End of quotes]


Meanwhile David and Solomon rest entirely secure in their real historico-archaeological home.