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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

by

 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

https://www.academia.edu/3731625/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

https://www.academia.edu/8754527/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’

https://www.academia.edu/18657854/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’

https://www.academia.edu/18668783/Medjugorje_and_the_Mad_Mouthings_of_the_Madonna_of_the_Antichrist_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.

Why?

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

Confession
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.

 

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Not so ‘Hot Gates’ of Thermopylae

Published October 3, 2017 by amaic

Image result for thermopylae

 by

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.

 

  

Introductory

 

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

 

https://www.academia.edu/32193754/Author_of_the_Book_of_Judith

 

Compare that to the uncertainty of authorship surrounding those major works labelled Homeric (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer):

 

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?'”

 

Nevertheless:

 

‘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:

 

“Achilles

 

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

 

https://www.academia.edu/8914220/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”.

 

Herodotus

 

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

 

https://www.academia.edu/4105845/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:

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=12-02-036-f#ixzz2f1euwlrb

 

“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).

 

Xerxes

 

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):

SENNACHERIB  

XERXES

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

 

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.

 

Conclusion

 

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

 

by

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 …”.

 

Introduction

 

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”.

 

 

Introduction.

 

I wrote the above in my recent:

 

Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus

 

https://www.academia.edu/33397389/Ashurbanipal_and_Nabonidus?auto=download&campaign=upload_email

 

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

http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:918132/FULLTEXT01.pdf

 

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: https://www.gotquestions.org/Nineveh-destroyed.html

 

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 http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nineveh/nineveh02.html#Fall.)

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

(https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=222191084618247&id=105219749648715&substory_index=0): “[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 (http://www.ancient.eu/Esarhaddon/):

 

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”? http://www.electrummagazine.com/2012/01/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

 

https://www.academia.edu/33167712/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 (https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/orient/49/0/49_19/_pdf):

 

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. (http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Josiah.html#.WU8sCLCQw_w)

 

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

 

https://www.academia.edu/26969271/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”.   

 

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/josiah

 

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 (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/11407-nebuchadnezzar) 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 (http://history-world.org/ashurbanipal.htm):

 

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 (http://www.ancient.eu/Ashurbanipal/):

 

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”: https://www.academia.edu/235567/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 (https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/esarhaddon):

 

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

 

by

 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).

 

  

Introduction

 

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

https://www.academia.edu/23886406/_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 (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/09/nebuchadnezzar-or-nabonidus-mistaken-identities-in-the-book-of-daniel?lang=eng):

 

 

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.

Augustus and Herod

Published June 7, 2017 by amaic
Image result for reign of augustus caesar

 

Part One:
Contemporaneity

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“… the rehabilitated Herod is considerably more Roman than his older counterpart. In the new portrait of Herod, he faces west toward Rome and Augustus rather than east toward the Hellenistic kingdoms, and he is described as “a friend of the Romans” rather than as “an Arab monarch”.”

 

Byron McCane

 

 

 

Some Parallelism

 

The dates and lengths of reign conventionally assigned to the succession of early Herodians: Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, and Herod Agrippa I, run strikingly parallel to those of the early Julio-Claudian emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula. Thus we find – and we must make allowance (by at least a handful of years) for the famous chronological uncertainties associated with Herod the Great:

 

Julio-Claudian emperors Herodians
Augustus 27 BC – AD 14 Herod the Great 37 – 4 BC
Tiberius 14 – 37 AD Herod Antipas 4 BC – AD 39
Caligula 37 – 41 AD Herod Agrippa I 37 – 44 AD

 

Moreover, the lineage of Herod was typically Roman-educated (see e.g. Herod and Augustus: Papers Presented at the IJS Conference, 21st-23rd June 2005, p. 372, edited by David M. Jacobson, Nikos Kokkinos).

And the ‘Roman-facing’ Herod the Great, according to Byron McCane’s re-evaluation of this most significant of ancient kings (“Simply Irresistible: Augustus, Herod, and the Empire”, JBL: https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1P3-1625441681/simply-irresistible-augustus-hero), has frequently been compared with the emperor Augustus. See e.g.: http://portal.lvc.edu/vhr/articles/2015-Bonar%20J%20&%20H%20Journal%20EDITED.pdf

 

As for Herod Antipas (http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Herod_Antipas):

 

Herod Antipas grew up in an unusual household where you didn’t know if your father was going to provide you with love or instant death. Herod the Great was perhaps one of those people who wasn’t really suited to be a dad. A homicidal monarch yes – a father no. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that in his own later life Herod Antipas had no interest in starting his own family, perhaps he feared he would kill his own children or keep an ex-wife in jars of shredded marmalade. It was a wise choice … [,]

 

well, he was something like Tiberius insofar as (https://books.google.com.au/books?id=i18-QVydZp4C&pg=PA870&lpg=PA870&dq=tibe): “… sufficient factual evidence remains to show that Tiberius was an eccentric, misunderstood, and unloved person”.

And again (http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/augustus.html):

 

After the death of Livia, however, Tiberius, with the encouragement of Sejanus, systematically persecuted this family. Accusing them of plotting to assassinate him, Tiberius banished Agrippina the Elder and her oldest son, Nero; her second son, Drusus, was imprisoned a year later along with Asinius Gallus, who had earlier asked to marry Agrippina. Within four years these prisoners were all dead, mostly through starvation.

 

As for Herod Agrippa (there are considered to have been I and a II), we read of “Agrippa II” in The Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968) of this very Caligula-like state of affairs (75: 153): “[Agrippa’s] relations with his sister Bernice (probably incestuous) caused scandal in Rome (Ant. 20. 7. 3 § 145 …)”. Agrippa I is even supposed to have sojourned with Caligula in Rome (http://www.livius.org/articles/person/herod-agrippa-i/): “Agrippa stayed in Rome. The relation between the Jewish king and the Roman emperor was excellent, which is remarkable, because many considered Caligula a madman, and he could be very cruel indeed”.

And, like Caligula, Agrippa ‘turned into a god’.

Compare: “Caligula announces he will be a god when he is dead. … Caligula becomes obsessed with attaining the status of a god …”. (Hawes, Wm., Caligula and the Fight for Artistic Freedom), with Acts 12:21-23:

 

On the appointed day Herod [Agrippa], wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man’. Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

 

Part Two:

Parallel Career Patterns

 

 

 

Tripartite Reign

 

According to The Jerome Biblical Commentary (75:130): “Herod’s reign falls into three parts”.

Let us consider these three phases in turn, and compare them with the reign of Augustus.

 

 

  • Herod’s Early Years 37-25 BC

 

 

(75:131):

 

These early years were used mainly to consolidate his powers, and were marked by the cold-blooded, systematic elimination of any who might contest his authority.

…. His cruelty, rooted in insatiable ambition, was notorious, yet he was surrounded by intrigue and conspiracy that made him fight for his very existence.

[End of quote]

 

The same single-minded pursuit of power and use of force, during a tumultuous phase of history (at least, so-called), is apparent in the early years of the career of Caesar Augustus (http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/emperor-augustus):

 

As the first Roman emperor (though he never claimed the title for himself), Augustus led Rome’s transformation from republic to empire during the tumultuous years following the assassination of his great-uncle and adoptive father Julius Caesar. He shrewdly combined military might, institution-building and lawmaking to become Rome’s sole ruler ….

[End of quote]

 

Likewise, Octavius is “cold and calculating” according to (https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/a/antony-and-cleopatra/character-analysis/octavius-caesar):

 

As one of the three triumvirs, Octavius is the youngest and the most ambitious of the three.

…. Nothing exists for young Caesar except the single goal of acquiring and maintaining power. …. Because of the limited range of Octavius’s vision and interests, he often appears cold and calculating, and many of his actions are indeed calculated ones. In betrothing his beloved sister to Antony, his long-time rival, he shows that he is capable of placing political expediency above family loyalty. Conversely, when Antony abandons Octavia, Octavius acts like the outraged brother who wishes to avenge his sister’s honor. While his pride is understandably piqued, his anger also hints of opportunism, for here is the perfect pretext for attacking his rival.

Octavius struggles for supremacy within the Triumvirate ….

Octavius has few devoted friends … the lot of the ruler who must sacrifice everything to stay in power. He trusts no one, and he fears to let himself be close to few, if any, of his men. His treatment of Lepidus is one example of how he can cast aside presumed friends in order to achieve even more power.

….

Octavius, at times, seems almost without principle. …. Basically, then, we can say that Octavius symbolizes the world of power, politics, and war. ….

[End of quote]

 

 

  • Herod’s Cultural Phase 25-13 BC

 

 

The Jerome Biblical Commentary (75:132):

 

Once opposition to his power had been removed, Herod embarked on a period of lavish and munificent cultural improvements in his realm, financed mainly by taxes … emperor-temples, theaters, hippodromes, gymnasia, baths, and even new cities.

…. In all of this Herod was influenced by the cultural advances of the Augustan age, for he had surrounded himself with Greek philosophers and rhetors as advisers. … [e.g.] Nicolas of Damascus ….

[End of quote]

 

Augustus was likewise single-minded about taxation (http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/emperor-augustus):

 

During his 40-years reign, Augustus nearly doubled the size of the empire, adding territories in Europe and Asia Minor and securing alliances that gave him effective rule from Britain to India. He spent much of his time outside of Rome, consolidating power in the provinces and instituting a system of censuses and taxation that integrated the empire’s furthest reaches. He expanded the Roman network of roads, founded the Praetorian Guard and the Roman postal service and remade Rome with both grand (a new forum) and practical gestures (police and fire departments).

 

And Augustus, like Herod, built on an impressive scale: temples, theatres, roads, aqueducts (https://brown.edu/Departments/Joukowsky_Institute//courses/romanartandarch2011/14123.html

 

Augustus’ campaign to rejuvenate Rome largely hinged on his uncanny ability to inextricably link the city’s aesthetic splendor to its imperial splendor. The strong connection Augustus fostered between visual and moral strength encouraged the city’s wealthy men to invest in the capital’s built environment; the Temple of Hercules and the Muses, the Temple of Diana, the Atrium of Liberty, the Temple of Saturn, and the amphitheater of Statilius Taurus are all massive projects funded exclusively by Rome’s elite (Suetonius 60). These endeavors were viewed, even in their own age, as tangible markers of Rome’s ascension to cultural prominence and the re-solidification of the Empire’s standards following the late Republic’s seemingly all-encompassing decrepitude. In his Res Gestae Augustus takes care to highlight the marble magnificence of his Rome; “I built the Senate-house…and the temple of Apollo on the Palatine with portocos…I rebuilt the Capitol and the theater of Pompey…I rebuilt aqueducts in many places that had decayed with age… I completed the Forum of Julius…I built the temple of Mars Ultor…I rebuilt the Flaminian road…,” (Res Gestae) ….

[End of quote]

 

“His reported last words … to his subjects he said, “I found Rome of clay; I leave it to you of marble …”.” (http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/emperor-augustus)

 

 

Some Greek influence on Augustus: “During his childhood Octavian was educated in Greek philosophy in Athens” (http://www.conservapedia.com/Augustus_Caesar).

 

The clear Greek inspiration in style and symbol for official sculptural portraits, which under the Roman emperors became instruments of governmental propaganda, is a central part of the Augustan ideological campaign, a shift from the Roman Republican era iconography where old and wise features were seen as symbols of solemn character. Therefore, the Prima Porta statue marks a conscious reversal of iconography to the Greek classical and Hellenistic period, in which youth and strength were valued as signs of leadership, emulating heroes and culminating in Alexander the Great himself. Such a statue’s political function was very obvious—to show Rome that the emperor Augustus was an exceptional figure, comparable to the heroes worthy of being raised to divine status on Olympus, and the best man to govern Rome.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustus_of_Prima_Porta

 

 

  • Herod’s Domestic Strife Last Phase 13-4 BC

 

 

The Jerome Biblical Commentary (75:133): “It was domestic strife that marked the last years of Herod’s reign”.

 

http://www.conservapedia.com/Augustus_Caesar

Augustus: Family and Succession

 

Augustus married three times, although his first union, to Mark Antony’s stepdaughter Clodia Pulchra, was unconsummated. His second wife, Scribonia, bore his only child, Julia the Elder. He divorced in 39 B.C. to marry Livia Drusilla, who had two sons—Tiberius and Drusus—by her first husband, Mark Antony’s ally Tiberius Claudius Nero. The family tree became more complicated after Augustus had his stepson Tiberius briefly marry his daughter, and then adopted Tiberius outright as son and successor in A.D. 4.

 

[End of quote]

 

Herod, Augustus, reigned for about four decades.

The tripartite pattern of reign set out above is probably fairly typical for great and long-reigning monarchs, with an initial phase of single-minded quest for supreme power accompanied by cruelty and bloodshed; then a peaceful and prosperous phase enabling for grandiose projects; with a final decline towards the end, due to age and possible disputes over succession.

 

 

 

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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

 

 by

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”.

 

 

Introduction

 

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”

 

https://www.academia.edu/32734925/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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_emperors

 

Nero
NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVGVSTVS GERMANICVS
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
Galba
SERVIVS SVLPICIVS GALBA CAESAR AVGVSTVS
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
Otho
MARCVS SALVIVS OTHO CAESAR AVGVSTVS
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)
Vitellius
AVLVS VITELLIVS GERMANICVS AVGVSTVS
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
Vespasian
TITVS FLAVIVS CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVGVSTVS
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
Titus
TITVS FLAVIVS CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVGVSTVS
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
Domitian
TITVS FLAVIVS CAESAR DOMITIANVS AVGVSTVS
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
Nerva
MARCVS COCCEIVS NERVA CAESAR AVGVSTVS
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
Trajan
CAESAR MARCVS VLPIVS NERVA TRAIANVS AVGVSTVS
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: https://yuptab.com/augustus-vespasian-and-trajan-comparing-emperors/

 

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

 

Vespasian

 

…. 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. http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

Trajan

 

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. http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

Commander in Thrace (Thracia) and Germany,

in Crete and Cyrenaica

 

Vespasian

 

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. http://www.unrv.com/military/praetorian-guard.php

 

Trajan

 

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.” http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

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 …. http://www.unrv.com/provinces/thracia.php

 

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.

http://www.coinweek.com/ancient-coins/coinage-kyrene-greek-city-libya/

 

 

Praetorian Guard

 

Vespasian

 

… 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.

http://www.unrv.com/military/praetorian-guard.php

 

Trajan

 

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.” http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

Parthia

 

Vespasian

 

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. ….

http://romanatoz.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/vologases-i-king-of-parthia.html

 

Trajan

 

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. …. http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

Jewish War

 

Vespasian

 

… 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.

http://www.unrv.com/military/praetorian-guard.php

 

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. http://www.roman-empire.net/emperors/vespasian.html

 

Trajan

 

[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. ….

http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

Simple habits and virtues

 

Vespasian

 

…. 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. http://erenow.com/ancient/durantromecaesar/87.html

 

Trajan

 

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. http://www.ancient.eu/trajan/

 

 

 

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.

 

Vespasian

 

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. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15379a.htm

 

Trajan

 

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. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15015a.htm

 

 

Gladiators

 

Vespasian

 

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.

http://www.aroundrometours.com/30-interesting-facts-about-the-roman-colosseum-art10-uid1.htm

 

Trajan

 

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.

http://www.mountainman.com.au/essenes/article_001.htm

 

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.

 

Vespasian

 

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. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/calendar/invictus.html

 

Trajan

 

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

 

Vespasian

 

… 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.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0104:entry=isis-bio-1

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).

 

Trajan

 

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.

http://www.crystalinks.com/isis.html

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.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Fountain_of_Trajan,_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

sl2assy

 

by

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

https://www.academia.edu/26969271/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.

Accordingly:

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’

 

https://www.academia.edu/31618997/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”.

 

and:

 

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

 

https://www.academia.edu/31620155/Naqia_of_Assyria_and_Semiramis._Part_Two_Naqia_attached_to

 

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.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

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: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=J6toY–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

 

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

 

https://www.academia.edu/26707668/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 (http://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=31&sub=3102&cat_name=People+-+Ancient+Near+East&subcat_name=Shamshi-Adad+V):

 

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 (http://www.ancient.eu/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?

 

https://www.academia.edu/31620155/Naqia_of_Assyria_and_Semiramis._Part_Two_Naqia_

 

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 (http://david-ancienthistory.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/the-9th-century-bc-in-near-east-part-ii.html)

 

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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marduk-zakir-shumi_II): “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.

 

            Campaigns

 

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” (http://cof.quantumfuturegroup.org/events/5406):

 

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’ (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Sarduri-II): “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 (http://cof.quantumfuturegroup.org/events/5406): “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” (http://www.mesopotamiangods.com/shamshi-adad-v-by-wikapedia/), 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.

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

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) (http://www.ancient.eu/article/743/):

 

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

(http://www.ancient.eu/Zakutu/):

 

Zakutu

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]

 

Campaigns

 

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” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esarhaddon#Military_campaigns).

 

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).

 

Syria

 

William H. Shea has provided the following account of Adad-nirari III’s western campaigning (https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1979/09/biblical-archeology):

 

….

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.

 

Edom

 

“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”.

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Adad-nirari-III

 

            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