biblical identifications Damien F. Mackey Revised History Era King Hezekiah Judah post-graduate Tiglath-pileser John R. Salverda

All posts tagged biblical identifications Damien F. Mackey Revised History Era King Hezekiah Judah post-graduate Tiglath-pileser John R. Salverda

Judas Maccabeus “the Hammer” and Charles Martel “the Hammer”

Published November 16, 2018 by amaic
Image result for judas hammer maccabeus

Judas Maccabeus – Judas the Galilean

Part Two: “The hammer” of God



“Other views link the name [Maccabee] with a root that means “to extinguish”,

since the Maccabees extinguished the Greek persecution, or with makkav, “a hammer”; Judah, like Charles Martel, was the hammer of his enemies”.


In the early days of the rebellion, Judah received a surname Maccabee. Several explanations have been put forward for this surname. One suggestion is that the name derives from the Aramaic maqqaba (“makebet” in modern Hebrew), “hammer” or “sledgehammer” (cf. the cognomen of Charles Martel, the 8th century Frankish leader), in recognition of his ferocity in battle. Others believe it is in reference to his weapon of choice.

It is also possible that the name Maccabee is an acronym for the Torah verse Mi kamokha ba’elim Adonai, “Who among the gods is like you, O Adonai?”, his battle-cry to motivate troops. (Exodus 15:11). Rabbi Moshe Schreiber writes that it is an acronym for his father’s name Mattityahu Kohen Ben Yochanan. Some scholars maintain that the name is a shortened form of the Hebrew maqqab-ya ¯hû (from na ¯qab, ‘‘to mark, to designate’’), meaning ‘‘the one designated by Yahweh.’[3]

“The victory at the battle near Poitiers and Tours would later earn Charles the cognomen “Martellus” (L., and so “Martel”, Fr.: “the hammer”) from 9th century chroniclers who, in the view of Pierre Riche, “seem to have been… recalling Judas Maccabaeus, ‘the Hammerer,'” of 1 Maccabees, “whom God had similarly blessed with victory” ….”[28]:44

Twelve years later, when Charles had thrice rescued Gaul from Umayyad invasions, Antonio Santosuosso noted when he destroyed an Umayyad army sent to reinforce the invasion forces of the 735 campaigns, “Charles Martel again came to the rescue.”[29]:TBD

The Battle of Tours ( October 10, 732), often called Battle of Poitiers and also called in Arabic بلاط الشهداء (Balâṭ al-Shuhadâ’) The Court of Martyrs was fought near the city of Tours, close to the border between the Frankish realm and the independent region of Aquitaine. The battle pitted Frankish and Burgundian forces under Austrasian Mayor of the Palace Charles Martel against an army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by ‘Abd-al-Raḥmān al-Ghāfiqī, Governor-general of al-Andalus. The Franks were victorious, ‘Abd-al-Raḥmān was killed, and Martel subsequently extended his authority in the south. Ninth-century chroniclers, who interpreted the outcome of the battle as divine judgment in his favour, gave Charles the nickname Martellus (“The Hammer”), possibly recalling Judas Maccabeus (“The Hammerer”) of Maccabean revolt. Details of the battle, including its exact location and the exact number of combatants, cannot be determined from accounts that have survived.

As later chroniclers increasingly came to praise Charles Martel as the champion of Christianity, pre-20th century historians began to characterize this battle as being the decisive turning point in the struggle against Islam. “Most of the 18th and 19th century historians, like Gibbon, saw Poitiers (Tours), as a landmark battle that marked the high tide of the Muslim advance into Europe.” Leopold Von Ranke felt that “Poitiers was the turning point of one of the most important epochs in the history of the world.”

While modern historians are divided as to whether or not the victory was responsible — as Gibbon and his generation of historians claimed — for saving Christianity and halting the conquest of Europe by Islam, the battle helped lay the foundations for the Carolingian Empire, and Frankish domination of Europe for the next century. “The establishment of Frankish power in western Europe shaped that continent’s destiny and the Battle of Tours confirmed that power.”

In a 2011 article on the subject, Mitchell First argues persuasively, based on an analysis of ancient Greek and Latin orthography, that the kuf spelling is the older one. He also agrees with the now commonly accepted theory, first put forth by the American Bible scholar Samuel Ives Curtiss, Jr. in 1876, that makkabi derives from Hebrew makevet or its Aramaic cognate makava, a hammer or mallet. First writes:


As to why Judah was called by this name, one view is that the name alludes to his physical strength or military prowess. But a makevet/makava is not a military weapon; it is a worker’s tool. Therefore, it has been suggested alternatively that the name reflects that Judah’s head or body in some way had the physical appearance of a hammer. Interestingly, the Mishnah at B’khorot 7:1 lists one of the categories of disqualified priests as ha-makavan [“the hammerhead”], and the term is explained in the Talmud as meaning one whose head resembles a makava. Naming men according to physical characteristics was common in the ancient world.


The derivation of makkabi from makevet or makava certainly makes better sense than any of the contending explanations.

What I would take issue with is the assertion made by First and others before him that since a hammer “is not a military weapon,” Judah Maccabee must have been likened to one because of his physical appearance, or else because of his physical power or strength of character.


The fact of the matter is that in both ancient and medieval times, hammers were military weapons. First himself mentions the French warrior Charles Martel, “Charles the Hammer,” the grandfather of Charlemagne, best known for stemming the Muslim advance into Europe at the Battle of Tours in 734. While this epithet, too, may have referred only to Charles’s prowess as a commander, the martel de fer or “iron hammer” was a feature of medieval warfare. Typically, it was mace-like or club-like at one end and pointed like a pickax at the other, and it was most commonly wielded by mounted cavalry to smash the armor of enemy soldiers.

…. Two individuals in history have been known as “The Hammer of God”: Judah Maccabee and Charles Martel. The title “Maccabee” was given to Judah the son of Mattityahu Bar Hashmonay. (Judas Maccabeus is another way of saying Judah Maccabee.) The word “Maccabee” comes from the Aramaic word “Maqaba” and means “The Hammer.” (The Old Testament is written in Hebrew and Aramaic. The Aramaic language is closely related to Hebrew and Arabic. According to the New Testament, Aramaic was the language spoken by Jesus Christ. Aramaic is an important Jewish language. Many Jewish sacred texts, such as the Talmud and the Kaballah (the Zohar), are written in Aramaic as are several traditional Jewish prayers, such as the Kaddish, and traditional songs, such as the Passover song Chad Gadyo. Assyrian Christians of Iraq, Syria and Iran still speak Aramaic.) Judah Maccabee fought against the tyrannical Seleucid Greeks beginning in the year 167 BC. Centuries later, after defeating a massive Moslem army in central France, Charles the son of Pepin was called “Martel,” meaning “The Hammer” in Latin. Charles the Hammer beat back an invasion of Europe by the Muslim Empire in October 732 AD. Charles Martel defeated the Moslems at the Battle of Tours (also known as the Battle of Poitiers).



Naqia of Assyria and Semiramis

Published November 16, 2018 by amaic


 Damien F. Mackey


“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”.


What a terrific book! I read it in one go.

I am referring to Stephanie Dalley’s The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: An Elusive World Wonder Traced (OUP, 2013). Apart from her unscrambling of the Classical texts on the subject of the Seven Wonders of the World, and being able to conclude that it was not Nebuchednezzar II the Chaldean, but rather the Assyrian king Sennacherib, who created the ‘hanging’ gardens that became so famed in antiquity, Dalley provides an abundance of important information on Assyro-Babylonian technology, art and architecture.

Despite the necessary technicalities, this book, written by a most disciplined researcher – “a world expert on ancient Babylonian language” – is easy to read and enjoyable.

In Chapter 6, “Confusion of Names”, Dalley makes this important point (p. 107):


Several confusions have been identified. It would be satisfactory if we could account for them, to strengthen yet further the argument that the Hanging Garden was built by Sennacherib in Nineveh rather than by Nebuchadnezzar or Semiramis in Babylon. Four distinct pairs of names are relevant for tracing the story of the legendary garden: ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ named for Sennacherib, the city name ‘Babylon’ used for Nineveh, the river ‘Euphrates’ named instead of the Tigris, and ‘Semiramis’ confused with other queens and with ‘Nitocris”. For each of them an explanation can be given.


[End of quote]


When reading Dalley’s account here of name confusion, I was immediately reminded of the situation right at the beginning of the Book of Judith, about which I have written much. And, indeed, the point has not been missed on Dalley either. For she writes on the next page (p. 108), referring to Judith as a “late” text (but I would prefer to say a late copy of the original):


Sennacherib was evidently confused with Nebuchadnezzar in several late texts. In the opening words of the Book of Judith the two kings are confused: ‘It was the twelfth year of Nebuchadnezzar who reigned over the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh’. When Josephus named Nebuchadnezzar as builder of the 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.

[End of quote]





“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”.


Stephanie Dalley




Continuing with Stephanie Dalley’s intriguing and helpful Chapter 6, “Confusion of Names” (The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: An Elusive World Wonder Traced (p. 120):


An accretion of legends is attached to the name ‘Semiramis’ in Greek texts, and the use of the name for more than one woman can be explained through that concept.

She was variously credited with leading campaigns with her husband ‘Ninus’, and with building works in Babylon, among them the famous Hanging Garden: Diodorus Siculus wrote that she founded a large city in Babylonia on the Euphrates including the temple of the Babylonian Zeus and the Hanging Garden (he does not actually name the city), and Quintus Curtius Rufus wrote that Semiramis, not Bel, founded Babylon.

[End of quote]


An original ‘Semiramis’ is posited by some writers to have been contemporaneous with Nimrod and the Tower of Babel, obviously long before the days of Queen Sammu-ramat. According to:’sHistoryfromAdamtoAbraham.pdf


…. Hislop identifies Ninus as Nimrod, the great hunter that defied God and built the Tower of Babylon and his wife Semiramis and son Tammuz as the great trinity who were worshipped all over Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, Greece and Rome and other cultures around the world.


Whilst Roy Schulz – as we can read at the same site – takes Semiramis back to pre-Flood times: “Aphrodite was the goddess of beauty and sensual love. She was actually a harlot or prostitute! Venus was the wife of Vulcan in pre-Flood times and so is the Semiramis of post-Flood history. She was actually a very distasteful type of person”.


Queen Sammu-Ramat and Naqia


Stephanie Dalley, referring to who she thinks to have been the “original ‘Semiramis’”, tells of this Queen Sammu-ramat (p. 121):


The original ‘Semiramis’ was a historical queen at a time when Nimrud, not Nineveh, was the main royal residence. If you were an Assyrian early in the 8th century BC you would have known about Sammu-ramat, daughter-in-law of Shalmaneser III, wife of Shamsi-Adad V, and mother of Adad-nirari III, because she was the most powerful woman in the world at that time. You would know that she in person, contrary to the custom of queens at that time, joined her son in a campaign to Arpad in the vicinity of modern Aleppo with the result that her own name was inscribed on a royal stela, as partner in heroism with her son the king. That stela was set up on the border of Assyrian territory on the upper Euphrates, and was discovered in recent times.


Dalley thinks that this real event may have inspired the campaigns attributed to ‘Semiramis’ by the later writers: “The inscription shows without a doubt that Sammu-ramat campaigned with her son, which suggests that the campaigns later ascribed to Semiramis by Ctesias and others may have had some link, however tenuous or garbled, with a genuine event”.

Two documents similarly connect, now Sammu-ramat, now Naqia, to great Assyrian kings. Dalley continues here:


The extent of [Sammu-ramat’s] fame during her lifetime is confirmed by the existence of another stela, inscribed only with her name and titles, found during excavations in the city of Ashur on the Tigris, and first published in 1913:


Statue … of Sammu-ramat the palace woman [means ‘queen’, ‘official consort’: Dalley] of Shamsi-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 quarters ….


[End of quotes]


Compare this text with one that Dalley now gives for Queen Naqia (on p. 124):


Naqia, the palace woman of Sennacherib king of the universe, king of Assyria, daughter-in-law of Sargon king of the universe king of Assyria, mother of Esarhaddon king of the world, king of Assyria … a palace befitting royalty for Esarhaddon my beloved son ….


[End of quote]

Based on my article:


Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib


I would immediately have to query here the mention of “Sargon”, whose name I have shown to have been – in at least one case – unjustifiably inserted by Assyriologists into a gap in a text.


Continuing on now with Dalley’s account of this latter queen, Naqia, we read on the same page:


Naqia was closely associated with Nineveh because her husband built two palaces there and made the city his capital. Many letters were written directly to her, and we have a document recording the loyalty oaths that she imposed on members of her family, requiring them to support her two royal grandsons. Another text particularly relevant here is that which records the building work she undertook at Nineveh on behalf of her son Esarhaddon, who ruled vast territories including Babylonia ….


That is the text quoted (in small print) above.

Dalley continues, drawing a further connection of Naqia with ‘Semiramis’:


Here, then, we have a group of material that indicates attachment of Naqia’s deeds to the name ‘Semiramis’. As second wife of Sennacherib, she bears comparison with the historical Sammu-ramat for having her name on inscriptions written during her lifetime, and for supporting publicly first her husband and then her own son, both as kings. There was every reason, therefore, to conflate the two great queens, two great builders, Naqia would be the wife of the later Assyrian king to whom Diodorus referred when he wrote: ‘the Hanging Garden, as it is called, which was built, not by Semiramis, but by a later Syrian [a Greek reference to Assyrian: Dalley] king …’ His account that ‘Semiramis alongside a Ninus founded ‘Babylon’ on the Euphrates gives details that are applicable to Nineveh: two palaces, technical details of water supply, walls adorned with hunting scenes.


A Religious Revolution



“A strange religious revolution took place in the time of Adad-nirari III, which can be compared with that of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ikhnaton. For an unknown reason Nabu (Nebo), the god of Borsippa, seems to have been proclaimed sole god, or at least the principal god, of the empire”.


Francis D. Nichol


The influence of two historical queens, Nefertiti and Naqia, ought not to be underestimated. Nefertiti may have been the one who religiously spurred on her husband, pharaoh Akhnaton, and may therefore have been instrumental in fostering the strange and somewhat Indic cult of Atonism in EA’s Egypt. If so, then she would have been acting just like the biblical Jezebel. For, the very first we hear of Queen Jezebel is in association with Baal worship (I Kings 16:31): “[King Ahab] also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him”. And she, again, was apparently the wind beneath his idolatrous wings (I Kings 21:25): “… there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up”.Likewise, Queen Semiramis may have been instrumental in the case of the (different) religious reform at the time of Adad-nirari III. Writing of “The Age of Semiramis” in his Chapter XVIII, Donald MacKenzie will make some interesting observations about her, including this one: “Queen Sammu-rammat of Assyria, like Tiy of Egypt, is associated with social and religious innovations”. Here is a part of MacKenzie’s intriguing account of this semi-legendary queen:

…. One of the most interesting figures in Mesopotamian history came into prominence during the Assyrian Middle Empire period. This was the famous Sammu-rammat, the Babylonian wife of an Assyrian ruler. Like Sargon of Akkad, Alexander the Great, and Dietrich von Bern, she made, by reason of her achievements and influence, a deep impression on the popular imagination, and as these monarchs became identified in tradition with gods of war and fertility, she had attached to her memory the myths associated with the mother goddess of love and battle who presided over the destinies of mankind. In her character as the legendary Semiramis of Greek literature, the Assyrian queen was reputed to have been the daughter of Derceto, the dove and fish goddess of Askalon, and to have departed from earth in bird form.

It is not quite certain whether Sammu-rammat was the wife of Shamshi-Adad VII [we now take this as V] or of his son, Adad-nirari IV [III]. Before the former monarch reduced Babylonia to the status of an Assyrian province, he had signed a treaty of peace with its king, and it is suggested that it was confirmed by a matrimonial alliance. This treaty was repudiated by King Bau-akh-iddina, who was transported with his palace treasures to Assyria.

As Sammu-rammat was evidently a royal princess of Babylonia, it seems probable that her marriage was arranged with purpose to legitimatize the succession of the Assyrian overlords to the Babylonian throne. The principle of “mother right” was ever popular in those countries where the worship of the Great Mother was perpetuated if not in official at any rate in domestic religion. Not a few Egyptian Pharaohs reigned as husbands or as sons of royal ladies. Succession by the female line was also observed among the Hittites. When Hattusil II gave his daughter in marriage to Putakhi, king of the Amorites, he inserted a clause in the treaty of alliance “to the effect that the sovereignty over the Amorite should belong to the son and descendants of his daughter for evermore”. ….

As queen or queen-mother, Sammu-rammat occupied as prominent a position in Assyria as did Queen Tiy of Egypt during the lifetime of her husband, Amenhotep III, and the early part of the reign of her son, Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton).

The Tell-el-Amarna letters testify to Tiy’s influence in the Egyptian “Foreign Office”, and we know that at home she was joint ruler with her husband and took part with him in public ceremonials. During their reign a temple was erected to the mother goddess Mut, and beside it was formed a great lake on which sailed the “barque of Aton” in connection with mysterious religious ceremonials. After Akhenaton’s religious revolt was inaugurated, the worship of Mut was discontinued and Tiy went into retirement. In Akhenaton’s time the vulture symbol of the goddess Mut did not appear above the sculptured figures of royalty.


What connection the god Aton had with Mut during the period of the Tiy regime remains obscure. There is no evidence that Aton was first exalted as the son of the Great Mother goddess, although this is not improbable.


Queen Sammu-rammat of Assyria, like Tiy of Egypt, is associated with social and religious innovations. She was the first, and, indeed, the only Assyrian royal lady, to be referred to on equal terms with her royal husband in official inscriptions. In a dedication to the god Nebo, that deity is reputed to be the protector of “the life of Adad-nirari, king of the land of Ashur, his lord, and the life of Sammu-rammat, she of the palace, his lady”. ….


During the reign of Adad-nirari … the Assyrian Court radiated Babylonian culture and traditions. The king not only recorded his descent from the first Shalmaneser, but also claimed to be a descendant of Bel-kap-kapu, an earlier, but, to us, unknown, Babylonian monarch than “Sulili”, i.e. Sumu-la-ilu, the great-great-grandfather of Hammurabi. Bel-kap-kapu was reputed to have been an overlord of Assyria.


Apparently Adad-nirari desired to be regarded as the legitimate heir to the thrones of Assyria and Babylonia. His claim upon the latter country must have had a substantial basis. It is not too much to assume that he was a son of a princess of its ancient royal family. Sammurammat may therefore have been his mother. She could have been called his “wife” in the mythological sense, the king having become “husband of his mother”. If such was the case, the royal pair probably posed as the high priest and high priestess of the ancient goddess cult–the incarnations of the Great Mother and the son who displaced his sire.


The worship of the Great Mother was the popular religion of the indigenous peoples of western Asia, including parts of Asia Minor, Egypt, and southern and western Europe. It appears to have been closely associated with agricultural rites practised among representative communities of the Mediterranean race. In Babylonia and Assyria the peoples of the goddess cult fused with the peoples of the god cult, but the prominence maintained by Ishtar, who absorbed many of the old mother deities, testifies to the persistence of immemorial habits of thought and antique religious ceremonials among the descendants of the earliest settlers in the Tigro-Euphrates valley. ….

It must be recognized, in this connection, that an official religion was not always a full reflection of popular beliefs. In all the great civilizations of antiquity it was invariably a compromise between the beliefs of the military aristocracy and the masses of mingled peoples over whom they held sway. Temple worship had therefore a political aspect; it was intended, among other things, to strengthen the position of the ruling classes. But ancient deities could still be worshipped, and were worshipped, in homes and fields, in groves and on mountain tops, as the case might be. Jeremiah has testified to the persistence of the folk practices in connection with the worship of the mother goddess among the inhabitants of Palestine. Sacrificial fires were lit and cakes were baked and offered to the “Queen of Heaven” in the streets of Jerusalem and other cities. In Babylonia and Egypt domestic religious practices were never completely supplanted by temple ceremonies in which rulers took a prominent part. It was always possible, therefore, for usurpers to make popular appeal by reviving ancient and persistent forms of worship. As we have seen, Jehu of Israel, after stamping out Phoenician Baal worship, secured a strong following by giving official recognition to the cult of the golden calf.


MacKenzie now proceeds to draw his hopeful religious parallel between EA and Sammuramat alongside Adad-nirari III:


It is not possible to set forth in detail, or with intimate knowledge, the various innovations which Sammu-rammat introduced, or with which she was credited, during the reigns of Adad-nirari … (810-782 B.C.) and his father. No discovery has been made of documents like the Tell-el-Amarna “letters”, which would shed light on the social and political life of this interesting period.


…. The prominence given to Nebo, the god of Borsippa, during the reign of Adad-nirari … is highly significant. He appears in his later character as a god of culture and wisdom, the patron of scribes and artists, and the wise counsellor of the deities. He symbolized the intellectual life of the southern kingdom, which was more closely associated with religious ethics than that of war-loving Assyria.


A great temple was erected to Nebo at Kalkhi, and four statues of him were placed within it, two of which are now in the British Museum. On one of these was cut the inscription, from which we have quoted, lauding the exalted and wise deity and invoking him to protect Adad-nirari and the lady of the palace, Sammu-rammat, and closing with the exhortation, “Whoso cometh in after time, let him trust in Nebo and trust in no other god”.




Connections between the biblical Jonah and Jason of the Argonauts

Published October 31, 2018 by amaic


Image result for greek jason and sea monster



Damien F. Mackey





“One wonders indeed what Gildas Hamel may have come up with if he had only known,

or could even have imagined the possibility, that the story of Jonah was the original”.


John R. Salverda





John R. Salverda has had much success in showing that a good deal of fantastic ancient mythology – especially the Greco-Roman (but also other ones) – derives from biblical tales.

And I fully concur with his view that the tale of Jonah, that is reflected in many parts of the Jason myth – as Gildas Hamel has so clearly demonstrated (see below) – “was the original”.


Why would one suggest otherwise – that a tale such as Jason’s, featuring such fantastic elements as “clashing rocks” and “harpies” and the goddess “Athena”, would be the model for the story of a prophet who had witnessed to an historically-attested king, Jeroboam II of Israel?:

“From the limited information given in the Bible, it seems that Jeroboam II was a gifted commander and an able organizer who succeeded in elevating the kingdom of Israel to a last climax before its fall. In the tradition of the Judahite redactors of the northern sources preserved in the Bible, Jeroboam is adjudged a king who “departed not from all the sins that Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, made Israel to sin” (II Kings 14:24). However, his loyalty to YHWH can be deduced not only from the name of his son Zechariah (Heb. “Remembered by YHWH”) but also from the prophecies of “the prophet Jonah son of Amittai of Gath-Hepher” (ibid., 14:25), who encouraged Jeroboam in his wars and prophesied his victory. It is unfortunate that these prophecies are not preserved. A stamp seal depicting a lion and reading lšm ʿ ʿ bd yrb ʿ m, “Property of Shema, servant of Jeroboam,” was found at Megiddo (Cogan and Tadmor, pl. 12a)”.



John Salverda wrote to me on the subject:


Dear Damien,


I have recently come across a very interesting article written about 17 years ago by one, Gildas Hamel: “Taking the Argo to Nineveh:” Jonah and Jason in a Mediterranean Context.

(This website will read the article to you if you like, it takes a while to do so and you may read it for yourself faster.)

I feel certain that you will be well rewarded if you can find the time to check it out.

Hamel is of course handicapped by the fact that, in accordance with conventional chronology, he assumes the Greek myth of Jason to be much older than the Scriptural book of Jonah. Never-the-less his insight into the cultural connections between the Greeks and the nation of Israel are remarkable. He supposes that the Book of Jonah is somehow a parody of the Argonautica, the Hebrew author borrowing names, words, and motifs, from the Greek tale that, he feels, sailors out of the port of Joppa must have been familiar with.

I can’t help but feel that much of the difficulties that he has relating the two stories comes from assuming that the Greek tale is the original. He mentions parenthetically that, “there is an Edenic quality to the wood where the latter finds the Golden Fleece,” and he further notes, “the fleece of a ram which was sacrificed after saving Phrixus, in a story reminiscent of the Akedah in Genesis 22.” In neither case does he help us to understand how the “ancient” tale of the Argonauts could have borrowed those motifs from the Scriptures of a nation of Israel that he supposes did not exist yet for another couple hundred years.

Of course there is also incorporated into the story of Jason references to the tale of Noah, not only in the name of the “Argo” and in the mention of Doves (which Hamel explains away as “birds used in very ancient sailing practice to guide lost sailors to land”), but also in the very geography of the story. The destination of the Argo is in association with the destination of the Ark as Colchis is contiguous with Ararat. Neither does he attempt to explain the mysterious “Minyan” people, who also originate within the realm of Ararat (Urartu).

The story of the Exodus is also alluded to within the body of the ancient versions of the Argonautica; the ghost of Phrixus calling out to be returned and buried in his homeland, as the bones of Joseph; The “Midian” wife of Moses as “Medea” (the Ethiop Andro-“meda,” of Perseus, and Hesione of Heracles); Phinehas, who served before the Ark of God with it’s “cherubs,” and the Kosher laws, as Phineus whose “Harpies” befouled his food.

These not withstanding, Hamel has much to contribute to our understanding of the connections between Jonah and Jason. His explanations of the words “Boreas,” and “kikayon” (the gourd), are noteworthy even though the direction of the borrowing is not convincing. His equation of the iconography of the naked Jason with the naked Jonah, his noting of the conversion of the respective crews, and his insistence of the similarities between Jason, Jonah, and Jesus (thus their Messianic attributes), and much more, show an amazing grasp of the puzzle.

One wonders indeed what he may have come up with if he had only known, or could even have imagined the possibility, that the story of Jonah was the original.

-John R. Salverda


Taking the Argo to Nineveh: Jonah and Jason in a Mediterranean Context

Gildas Hamel (notes at end of paper)


Naturally, the book of Jonah must be read, first and last, within its Hebrew context. Indeed, the text reverberates, especially to Hebrew ears, with clear echoes of biblical passages that come from the Noah story, from Jeremiah, Joel, and other prophets.**1** In numerous studies, commentators have pointed out these intertextual links, while disagreeing on the exact nature of their reemployment. They wonder if the author is being ironic, satirical, parodic, allegorical, or didactic.**2** Still, the story of Jonah also reads like a maritime tale whose meaning might be enriched and its themes emerge in bolder relief, were it set against its Mediterranean background, especially Greek lore. Wedged between the empires of Mesopotamia and Egypt, ancient Israel was also a Mediterranean country, in contact by sea from the earliest times with Greek civilization, among other maritime powers. While the cultural significance of this proximity has been recognized by some XIXth and early XXth century scholars, the use of the comparative method often has been too sweeping and led at times to reductive and unhelpful results.


In recent times, relatively little attention has been paid to the connections that the Jonah story may have to Greek tales, apart from a few notable recent and not so recent exceptions; elements of the legend of Heracles and the story of Perseus and Andromeda, for instance, are strikingly similar, as Cyril of Alexandria and Jerome had already noted.**3** In the end, though, these parallels have failed to impress most exegetes, who have concluded that they are not helpful in the interpretation of the book.

Yet, an interesting and hitherto little explored possibility is that the book of Jonah presents puzzling parallels with Jason and elements of the Argonauts’ story. The parallel between Jason and Jonah, not mentioned by early Jewish or Christian writers, has been evoked by a few classicists at the beginning of this century, because of an unusual representation of Jason found in 1833 in Caere (Cerveteri). Their comments are very brief, however, usually framed within a very broad comparative format, and without seeing and developing any analysis of the details that show the extent of cultural interaction.**4** Furthermore, the possible connection between the two stories seems to have been long since forgotten and has not drawn any attention from commentators of the text in the past sixty years.**5**

What I propose herein is to reexamine the parallels between Jonah and Jason. In particular, I hope to show how the author of Jonah plays with one of the variants of the story of Jason, or that Jonah’s story, at the very least, can be placed within the nebula of variants of Jason’s tale. The saga of the Argonauts seems to have been widespread in oral, written, and pictural forms, while numerous representations of various elements of their story, conveniently gathered now in the Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae,**6** are sufficient proof of its diffusion around the Mediterranean. Many stories attached to Jason as a kind of patron of navigators circulated widely. The differences to be found in the written versions of Pindar (518-438 BCE), Euripides (ca. 485-ca. 406 BCE), Apollonius of Rhodes (third century BCE), Valerius Flaccus (flourished in the first c. BCE), and the so-called Orphic Argonautica, attest to the fluidity of a multi-faceted tradition which one imagines to have also been a living, ever-changing, oral tradition. One may suppose that from an early date, written, oral, and iconographic versions influenced each other in multiple ways.

My thesis, therefore, is that the author of the Jonah tale used bits of this widely circulating oral cycle within the framework of his own Hebrew tradition. His is a highly literate story, the work of a writer who used chiastic structures, repeats, puns, and ironic twists. In their re-employment in the Hebrew story, the elements of the tale of the Argonauts appear only as vestiges, although I think they are more significant than has been granted until now.**7** At a minimum, their selection and the way in which they are recast suggest an anti-polytheistic attitude turned against Ionians, as well as against the more obvious Ninevites. Many more elements are at work than were previously thought to be, as the study of parts of the story, especially philological and iconographic aspects, will soon make clear ––an important consideration for the on-going debate on the nature and complexity of cultural borrowings. Such study also sheds some light on the extent of Near Eastern influence on early Greek culture.**8**

The argument will proceed as follows. First, after a rapid synopsis of the stories, the mythological motifs they have in common will be laid out in detail. Secondly, I will propose an explanation for their use and shape in Jonah. Finally, it will be shown that the use of some of these common themes persisted in the later (mostly Christian) iconography of Jonah.




In the extant written versions of the Argonauts’ tale, Jason, son of Aeson, and great-grandson of Aeolus the wind, is given by his rival Pelias the impossible task of bringing back the Golden Fleece from Colchis. This is the fleece of a ram which was sacrificed after saving Phrixus, in a story reminiscent of the Aqedah in Genesis 22. The Golden Fleece is hanging on a tree in Ares’ sacred wood in Colchis, Aeetes’ kingdom, and is guarded by a never-sleeping dragon. At Jason’s call, the bravest of the Greeks hurry to the Argo, a ship built for Jason by Argos, with Athena’s help. On their way to Colchis, the country of the sunrise in the Orient, the Greeks meet with many challenges. The greatest danger they encounter in trying to reach their goal is a stormy sea in which they must pass through the shifting or clashing rocks, the Planctae or Symplegades, which the sea alternately pushes apart and brings together. Once in Colchis, they ask king Aeetes for the Fleece. He promises it to Jason, provided the latter can subjugate the brazen-hoofed and fire-breathing bulls, plow a field, and sow the teeth of the local dragon. Jason manages these feats with the crucial help of the king’s daughter, Medea. Because Aeetes goes back on his word, Jason sets out to steal the Golden Fleece. He succeeds, again with the help of Medea, who puts the ever-watching dragon to sleep with a magic potion. The Argonauts then flee with the Fleece and the king’s daughter.

Jonah’s tribulations, in contrast to Jason’s, begin with a divine call. The task proposed by God to the hero of the book of Jonah is to bring a divine warning to the traditional enemy of Israel. However, rather than obeying, Jonah flees to the other end of the world, on a ship going to Tarshish. During the storm caused by God, the pagan crew, in great fear, prove to be respectful of all gods, especially Jonah’s, and helpful to the hero. Jonah tells them he is the cause of the storm and following his advice, they reluctantly throw him overboard. He is swallowed by a large fish, kept in its entrails for three days, and finally vomited out onto dry land, after a long prayer which he expresses in the form of a psalm.

God reiterates his call, in spare words, and Jonah goes to Nineveh where he reluctantly announces the oracle, insisting on the impending doom. The oracle has been barely broadcast —Jonah has walked but one day in a city “of three days”— yet its call is immediately heeded by the Ninevites, and even more surprisingly, by the king who, though hardly informed of it, takes sackcloth and begins to fast. He orders all his subjects, even animals, to do likewise, in the hope of turning away God’s anger.

God’s anger gives way to mercy, which in turn makes Jonah very angry. He storms out of Nineveh, builds a hut wherein he waits to see what will happen. Overnight, God makes a miraculous tree grow; Jonah finds its shade soothing and pleasant. Next, God sends a worm which causes the tree to die and a hot wind which makes Jonah wish for death. In the ensuing discussion between God and Jonah, God shows that his concern for the Ninevites is at least as valid as that of Jonah for the shade tree. The story ends abruptly, without indicating whether Jonah accepts God’s point of view or not.




Several parallel motifs are of considerable significance in both stories: the names of the heroes, the presence of a dove, the idea of “fleeing” like the wind and causing a storm, the attitude of the sailors, the presence of a sea-monster or dragon threatening the hero or swallowing him, and the form and meaning of the difficult word kikayon. Looking at these themes and motifs reciprocally illuminates both accounts.



First of all, the names of the two sea adventurers appear to be strikingly similar, at least in Greek. Jonah’s name in Hebrew, Yônah, when transliterated in Greek as Iônas, can easily be seen as a metathesis of Iasôn. Whether that was a factor in the author’s choice of a name cannot be known. But it is curious to read in the twelfth-century commentator Eustathius that an ancient tradition thought the name Jason was a metathesis of his own father’s name, Aisôn.**9** The fluidity of this name, together with the personality of the hero, may explain why Jason was one of several Greek names often used by Jews in Palestine, Egypt, and Cyrenaica, at least from the third century BCE on.**10** Regarding Cyrenaica, it is notable that in some of the many variants on the return of the Argonauts,**11** the latter reach Africa and meet a Triton, the merman of pre-Greek mythology, who announces to them that Cyrene would be the possession of their descendants. The legends and the name of an heroic sailor circumnavigating the sea on the first mythic long-ship would have appealed to Jews and other peoples who were settling around the Mediterranean sea. This interest is still in evidence at the time of the so-called “Tomb of Jason” in Jerusalem, which is dated to the beginning of the first century BCE and contains a Greek inscription and the drawing of a military ship.**12**



The second element in the comparison of the two stories concerns the name of Jonah alone. Yônah in Hebrew means “dove,” one of the birds used in very ancient sailing practice to guide lost sailors to land, as we see both in the story of Noah and the saga of Jason and the Argonauts.**13** When the Argonauts arrive at the Clashing Rocks (the Symplegades) and are unable to find a way out, Phineus, a king-prophet hunted by the Harpies (perhaps because he has betrayed divine secrets), advises the heroes to release a dove to see if it will go through (The story uses an old theme which appears already in a different form in the Odyssey: the flock of doves bringing ambrosia to Zeus must also go through the Planctae but invariably one dove is lost). The Argo eventually follows the dove; bird and ship find a passage through the rocks, but not without leaving a few vestiges behind them —one, its feathers and the other, pieces of rigging. In other variants of the story, doves also play an important role; in Virgil’s Aeneid, for instance, two doves lead Aeneas and the Sybil to the Golden Fleece hanging in a tree.**14** In other texts, the prophecies uttered by an oracular oak are reported by doves.**15**


Boreas the fleeing wind

There is a further connection to Phineus, who in Apollonius’ Argonautica, is pursued by the vengeful Harpies because he has betrayed prophetic secrets. After promising the Argonauts that he will help them with his prophetic gifts, he is delivered from his pursuers by the Boreads, the “fleers,” sons of Boreas, the northern wind that brings the worst storms at sea.**16** The story of Jonah begins very abruptly with his flight, right after God’s command that he go and deliver his oracle to Nineveh. Jonah betrays nothing of the divine message entrusted to him, but he flees to avoid its accomplishment (as he sees it), and does so without explanation. He flees from the consequences of the message he has received but, paradoxically, not the structure of prophetic tales, in which one expects failure. In these stories, the structure is as follows: the more trustworthy the prophets, the less willing to hear them their audience will be. Above all, kings are expected to resist the message and punish the messenger, thereby increasing the element of veracity for the audience of the story. In fear of retaliation, Elijah flees to the Horeb after his victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, walks one day in the desert, sits under a broom tree, and asks for death, saying: “Israel has forsaken the covenant, slain prophets, and I, even I only, am left.”**17** In the second part of his adventure, Jonah also flees to an analogue of the desert, that is, a dry place, with wind, as opposed to the fluid and humid vastness stirred up by storm winds. But he is not pursued. Jonah does what prophets (and Jason and his friends) are supposed to do, namely, he flees, but for no apparent reason. He is pushed by rhetorical reason alone, the force of the text and previous biblical stories.

The puzzling motif of Jonah’s flight, however, is connected to the Argonautic cycle of stories in two ways. First of all, it indirectly creates a storm caused by God’s great wind, in Hebrew ruah gdolah. Secondly, the Hebrew word for fleeing in Jonah 1.2, boreah, corresponds closely to the name of Boreas, the storm god and father of the Boreads. A “fleeing” sea creature, a leviathan, actually appears in the texts of Ras Shamra and is mentioned in Isaiah 27.1 and Job 26.13. It is a sea monster originating in the primordial chaos and threatening chaos. In the story of Jonah, however, the “fleeing” is separated from the monster, yet still connected to a storm. I propose therefore that the Greek word Boreas has a semitic origin, perhaps the Ugariticboreah. Chantraine’s Dictionnaire étymologique du grec classique gives no sure origin for the Greek word, but the presence of other Argonautic elements in the story of Jonah makes it distinctly possible that mythical elements surrounding Boreas were borrowed by the Greeks, together with the name, from Semitic mythology. The stories surrounding this divinity or hero associated with storms were adopted at a much earlier stage, perhaps at the end of the second millennium before our era. The sound change from a pharyngeal to an alveolar fricative (“heth” to “s”) is natural, since Greek lacked the former (a later example of this sound change appears in one of Jerome’s letters, in which he speaks of a Silas whose Hebrew name is Shaloah).



In Greek stories and in ancient folklore in general, sailors had a terrible reputation. It was thought that they were only after passengers’ possessions and money, which they could try to obtain, for example, by forcing a victim to sign a will in their favor before throwing the person into the sea. The sailors in the Argonauts’ saga are of an heroic type and do not do this. They are dangerous, however; in the later Argonautica Orphica, these adventurers behave according to expectations and become angry at Medea, because she has been denounced by the speaking or prophesying beam of the Argo. They are ready to throw her to the fish but Jason calms them in time to save her.**18** In a different story reported by Herodotus, sailors behave also as expected, throwing Arion of Mytilene overboard, out of greed for his money and possessions. He is saved by a dolphin which is sensitive to his poetic and musical gifts.**19**

By analogy, then, the much debated psalm in the book of Jonah could be, among other things, a parody of widely known stories about music-loving animal helpers. In any case, Jonah’s sailor companions, contrary to what an ancient audience would expect, are respectful, tame, and even unselfish, though the reason for their civility may be simply a healthy fear of Jonah’s God. Here is a man who, seemingly imprudently or rashly, has hired the whole ship and paid in advance, an action noted as unusual in talmudic literature.**20** He is a foreigner, alone, without protector or friend, at the mercy of a whole crew against whom he could never retaliate. Yet, these rough fellows not only do not attempt to kill him out of greed, but they do a most dangerous thing in stormy weather: they try to bring the ship to shore to save their onerous passenger.**21**

According to a literal interpretation of his Hebrew name, Jonah is a “dove” kept in the hold of the ship, something light and capable of flight. Yet, he engages in a downward movement, going down to Jaffa, into the ship, then down into its hold, where he falls into a deep sleep (wayyerâdam, a word also evoking, phonetically at least, a downward movement), and finally down into the great fish. Normally, passengers and crew were on the deck. The Hebrew text suggests that Jonah himself becomes part of the cargo; he is a piece of the ballast, often merchandise but normally stones or sand, kept in the depths of the hold of the ship. Surely, he is stowed in the most dangerous place of the ship, among stones and heavy cargo which could crush him in a storm. One might think of him as being in the same position as the oak beam placed by Athena Pallas in the Argo, a beam which occasionally utters “true” prophecies or predictions. The beam reveals Zeus’ anger and invites the heroes to purify themselves,**22** or warns that they are being pursued by the Erinyes, who avenge wrongs, especially murders committed among kinsmen.**23** Another similarity is that in helping the crew, and being “helped” by them, Jonah is acting like Phineus the seer, already mentioned above, whom the Argonauts –specifically the Boreads, Calais and Zetes, sons of Boreas– help after receiving precious information from him.**24**



There is no musically enchanted dolphin in the book of Jonah, but a large fish or ketos who swallows and then vomits up the hero. Neither is there a leviathan or dolphin in the extant textual variants of Jason’s odyssey. But Jason does fight a sea- or land-monster in several of the variants of the tale, often represented on vases, in actions similar to those of Heracles.**25** Or in scenes found widespread around the Mediterranean, Jason emerges from a coiled, upright serpent or monster.**26** It is in this context that earlier scholars briefly noted the connection with Jonah. In particular, a beautiful red-figured cup found at Cerveteri (Caere) in 1833 and dated from the beginning of the fifth century BCE (490-475) shows a scaly and wide-eyed monster vomiting a limp, naked, bearded, and long-haired Jason (see plate). To the right of the scene is Athena, with spear in her right hand, bird in her left, and perhaps looking into the eyes of the dragon, whom she has commanded to disgorge Jason.**27** Behind the dragon’s head, at left, the Golden Fleece hangs as limp as Jason, on a tree laden with fruit (apples?). It is most natural to conceive of this monster as a sea-monster, as did A. Flasch and other scholars,**28** given the position of Cerveteri, an Etruscan sea-port which would be understandably interested in Jason’s Gesti as those of the first navigator. An abundance of maritime themes at the place is evidence of this interest. The Boreads themselves do not appear to be represented at Caere but they figure prominently in many other places, for instance, in Laconia.**29**

This cup has been widely commented upon in the past, but has remained unnoticed, as far as I am aware, by biblical commentators. Late XIXth and turn-of-the-century commentators offer varying interpretations of this scene. A. Flasch thinks that the dragon is alive, forced to disgorge a passive Jason, which is also my interpretation.**30** Flasch is followed by H. Schmidt and others, e.g. Pfuhl and Kerényi. Vian, in his recent edition of Apollonius’ Argonautica, mentions the cup without comment. M. Lawrence, after E. Pfuhl and K. Kerényi, thinks it is a sea-monster “forced by Athena to disgorge Jason [….] a rare variant of the famous story.”**31** The rest of Lawrence’s article deals with the iconography of Jonah’s story. But the commentary of P.E. Arias and M. Hirmer on Athena is inexact. They think that Athena, with owl, is looking with surprise at Jason coming out of the dragon’s mouth.**32**

It is interesting to discover that a version of Jason’s story had Athena as his helper, rescuing him from death, which is perhaps closer to the role of the Hebrew God in the book of Jonah. The bird she carries on her left hand, however, is not necessarily the usual owl, as all commentators seem to identify it,**33** but could actually be a dove (or a sea bird). Athena’s owl is usually represented with its head turned outward, facing the viewer, at least in all images of her catalogued in the Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae.**34** On the Caere cup, the bird has a straight beak and a more sloping body. However, since ornithological details may not have been the concern of the vase painters, the idea of a dove can only remain a suggestion. The role played by doves in reporting prophecies and helping heroes has been mentioned above: in Apollonius’ Argonautica, the crew of the Argo takes along a dove in a cage. They also are featured in several illustrations of the episode of the capture of the fleece.**35**


The “kikayon”

In the second part of Jonah’s story, the word kikayon is a famous hapax legomenon which, in its context, refers to a plant, with later tradition hesitating between a type of gourd and ricinus communis (castor oil).**36** Many interesting explanations have been offered, none of them entirely convincing.**37** No one seems to have noticed, however, that this word sounds very much like the brew prepared by Medea, kukeon or kukaon (from the verb kukaô, to stir up, to create confusion), in Apollonius’ version and in the Argonautica Orphica.**38** Here, a mysterious potion, a mixture made of medicinal and dangerous plants,**39** is used by Medea to put to sleep the serpent or dragon guarding the tree where the fleece was hanging. In Apollonius, Medea rubs the head of the monster with the potion and sprinkles it to achieve the same result. In some later (Roman) representations, she is shown presenting a vial to the serpent coiled around the tree, while Jason, unseen, grabs the Golden Fleece. The kukaon or kikaon is also the name of the drink of barley gruel and water, associated with Eleusinian mysteries,**40** where perhaps the role of the python had been similar to that of the sea monster in ancient versions of the tradition. The problem is that the kikayon of the Hebrew story is obviously a fast-growing plant, not a potion or brew. Yet, the Greek magic mixture is clearly made with pharmacological plants. Furthermore, whatever the Hebrew kikayon denotes, it acts as an emetic or aims at making Jonah rid himself of his anger, in a punning parallel with his disgorgement from the fish. I would like to suggest, then, that the kikayon of the book of Jonah may have lost its original meaning but has retained the idea of a magic act, perhaps together with the emetic or purging virtue of the original, suggested by the Hebrew sound (wayaqe` in Jonah 2.11, from the verb qi`) associated later with other plants, such as the ricinus. In the Hebrew text also, the dragon has been reduced to a worm, an annoyance whose night work, however, makes Jonah wish for death. In the second part of Jonah’s story, there is no magician (daughter of a king) or any dragon to be put to sleep. There is, however, a gleeful and absurd reduction of the Greek monster to the size of a worm and the fire-breathing of an irate Jonah whom God attempts to calm down.




It is not surprising in itself that motifs and characters from a version of the story of the Argonauts would appear in the book of Jonah, when one considers how widespread they are in the literary (from the fifth c. BCE) and iconographic record (from the eighth c. BCE) of the whole Mediterranean region. Furthermore, the Hebrew story is far from being a pale recasting of Jason’s adventures. First of all, the related elements of flight and storm complicate the picture, in that Semitic versions of this story had been circulating for an even longer time, and had themselves been borrowed by the earliest Greek settlers of the Mediterranean. The Greeks seem to have borrowed a Boreas and sea-monsters at an early date. Textual and pictorial materials show that Greeks took over stories of sea-monsters from the East in the early, so-called “orientalizing” period.**41** Behind Jonah’s story and its vestigial echoes of Jason and the Argonauts, there are remains of an older, more widely told story of a fight between a god and a sea-monster.**42** These stories all seem to belong to the category of tales of voyages to the netherworld.**43** Secondly, the creator of Jonah appears to be playing in a very conscious manner with some of the elements and motifs of the Greek story, inverting some, laminating others, or fusing them with Hebrew themes on the basis of linguistic or structural similarities.

One may begin with the complex geography of the Argonauts’ saga, which has been drastically simplified in the story of Jonah, with only Tarshish and Nineveh mentioned as presumably summarizing the known world contained between these extremities. And then there is, at least at a superficial level, the beneficial dove of the Argonauts’ tale which is turned into an occasion of trouble for the sailors of the Hebrew story. At a deeper level, however, it causes the conversion of the crew, who sacrifice to the proper god after they have been saved. Throughout the ordeal they act civilly, even generously, though not heroically, instead of showing the greed and lack of courage which are their normal attributes, as in the much later and edifying story of Paul of Tarsus’ shipwreck in Acts 27.**44** The storm is not a dangerous moment for Jonah but rather simply a means to return the hero to the land he should not have left. Instead of being sent away on a highly risky journey by a jealous or fretful king figure, he chooses to bring his fate upon himself. The king in the second part of the story is not a frightening or vengeful character bent on eliminating or testing the hero or prophet, as are Pelias, Aeetes, or even Jezebel in Elijah’s story. Rather, he is most pliable, a keen listener, obedient and prompt to repent. The never-sleeping dragon guarding the Golden Fleece has been miniaturized and become a worm. I have suggested above that some of its characteristics have been given to Jonah himself, who watches intently over the city he wishes to see destroyed. Like the dragon preventing Jason’s possession of the wondrous Fleece (a magical remain of a foundational sacrifice), Jonah fiercely blocks access to divine mercy. He is willing to face God in hot anger and apparently knowing no reason. The pharmaceutical mixture which Medea uses to put the monster to sleep has changed in form but retained its soothing quality for the overheated Jonah. Yet, the leafy kikayon remains somewhat of a conundrum. In the later iconography to be mentioned below, Jonah is seen resting under, or surrounded by, a large-leafed bush which resembles some of the earlier images of the tree in which Jason finds the Golden Fleece. Perhaps tree and magic mixture have been associated from the earliest times.

The question now is whether this recasting of the Greek story has been done simply in jest, or is part of a more complex structure. The comparison of certain themes present in both stories may throw some light on this problem. Jason’s calm, contrasted with Aeetes’ anger, parallels Jonah’s extraordinary passivity. Jason needs assistance at every crucial turn of the story and appears weak, a kind of anti-hero.**45** But Jonah’s passivity does not stem from meekness, rather it comes from his extreme view of prophecy. Medea’s night monologue in Apollonius’ Argonautica 3.771ff., when she is wavering in her desire to help Jason tame Aeetes’ monstrous bulls, presents interesting parallels to that of Jonah. Perhaps it is not overly speculative to say that the way in which Apollonius presents hellenism as immensely seductive to Medea, daughter of a tyrant, has its counterpart in the Hebrew author’s idea of a natural attraction that pagan sailors, and Nineveh’s king and people feel for the Jewish God. This appeal has little to do with Nineveh, whose historical kingship ended at a much earlier time than the composition of this story, but would make sense in an atmosphere of competition between Hebrew and Greek cultures. The author might be inverting the image of attraction presented by Greek civilization and so present foreigners suitably attracted to the Hebrew divinity when they are Greeks (the sailors?), and stupidly so when they are Ninevites.

Recent studies of the book of Jonah, while discovering new layers of meaning in the story, have exposed the complex structure of the narrative.**46** They reinforce the notion that the work is an ironic parable, one with a pointed question. The parallels we have detected between the story of Jonah and that of Jason point even more strongly in the same direction. To the irony underlined by several commentators,**47** it is possible to add a new twist, namely that Nineveh encompasses the “Ionians” also. Nineveh and Yavan sound similar, as do Yônah the “dove”, Yôniyah the ship, and Ionia the region. Phonetically as well as mythopoetically, it appears that the author of the book of Jonah is playing with a variant or variants of Jason’s adventures as told in Greek and other languages, selecting some of its motifs or sounds and refashioning them for altogether different purposes, all the while with a view to entertain. The author manipulated a myth which had become alien and re-elaborated parts of it in order to reflect on and reinforce his own culture.**48** The hero’s name, a storm caused by a fleeing/northern wind, uncontentious sailors, a sea-monster swallowing and regurgitating the hero under divine command, a monster diminished to worm size in the second part, a magic emetic ––all these serve the author’s meaning.

If it is true that the element of mockery of the Greeks is part of this story, then all the more reason to set aside the view of the book of Jonah as a didactic parable teaching that divine compassion knows no boundaries and is universal.**49** Christian exegetes in particular have often propounded a universalistic interpretation, put forward by Jerome, for instance, and especially by Ephrem the Syrian, who had his own neighborly reasons to offer a literal interpretation and present the Ninevites in a flattering light.**50** Philo of Alexandria could have been expected to offer this kind of interpretation but it is absent from his commentaries on Jonah.**51**

In line with tradition, I would argue rather that the problem posed by God’s boundless compassion is the primary subject of this story. The question is framed in an ironic and even tragic mode, in spite of the author’s apparently jocular manner. The geographical or ethnical considerations on the bounds of divine compassion which later (Christian) interpretation found congenial add a new, secondary dimension to the original story, the main point of which is to highlight a debate or question intrinsic to Israel. It is the answer to that question, in turn, which may be given universal significance.

As commentaries have long shown, the book of Jonah presents a reflection on the dangers of prophecy. In Israel, oracles of doom had long before given place to conditional oracles, which were better suited to the vagaries of historical circumstances. But the conditions for belief in conditional oracles appear to have developed also in the Graeco-Roman world. Even though on the surface they differ in mode, goals, and significance, a self-questioning or ironic discourse on prophetic traditions arose in both cultural areas.**52** Similar questions were raised in Hebrew and Greek stories regarding the functioning of divine justice and mercy and their mechanism. This is not to say that the Greek and Hebrew Weltanschauungen of the time were identical. Rather their differences are to be sought at another level, in the tautness of the question that the author is asking Israel, as will presently be seen. This tenseness, I suggest, stems from the structure of the Hebrew faith, in which the dialogue regarding the mechanisms of history was projected as being conducted with a God who is creator of the universe, and therefore free and totally gracious, above any contingency. This divinity might well decide to reverse or change the flow of nature or history, thus lifting the burden of fatality. From the prophet’s point of view, however, the kind of conditional oracles that the nature of the divinity required made the dangers of life altogether too predictable.

Yet, the story of Jonah contains a more poignant idea than a concern for the prophet’s thorny position. If the tale places its hero Jonah in a rhetoric of prophecy that is problematic, it also implies a basic questioning of Israel’s relation to God. Jonah is apparently caught in a dilemma between basic tenets of Israel’s faith whose consequences the author exaggerates to bring them into clear conflict. Jonah is shown as trapped between two extreme ideas: one is the notion of the automaticity, swiftness, and infinite range of God’s justice and anger in response to Israel’s failures; the other is its converse, namely the automaticity, and infinite patience, of divine compassion.

One may imagine the ancient Hebrew or Judaean audience of the story smiling at the Ninevites’ (or Ionians’) expense, for how could the latter be so dense as to think of divine mercy as remotely possible for them? Furthermore, how could this compassion be exercised towards people who, in Israel’s estimation, did not even know the boundaries of sinful action and included in it their domestic herds? Here, there may have been a dark joke or innuendo, still having force for later Jewish commentators, regarding the sexual mores of Ninevites (or Greeks/Ionians; it may have been a joke often reciprocated). But Nineveh is the converse of Israel, where prophetic and Deuteronomistic traditions would have it that conversion has hardly ever been completed in the past, or that it has been accomplished by a few rare individuals, and specifically not by kings, who need repeated warnings in the normal discourse of prophecy.

The story contains a logical exercise or equation which can be formulated as follows: If a conversion which is rhetorically and historically wrong (no effort by the “prophet;” too obedient a king; in Nineveh the paradigmatic enemy) brings about the immediate and full benefits of divine mercy, then shouldn’t the listeners ask themselves what is the proper dynamics of conversion and mercy? “How much” conversion is actually necessary, at what point does mercy “kick in,” and what must one do, short of total conversion, which is actually so impossible that it looks silly? The author’s vision of what a divine determinism would entail is amusing, at least superficially. But this vision of the world is ironic, in that it questions the listeners’ ordinary notions, which are of a world bound by determinisms of all kinds, yet freed, even at the most physical level, by the word of God.

In the book of Jonah, physical nature is entirely removed from the reach of determinism: storm, fish, worm, are all appointed by divine command. But, and this to me is part of the irony of the book, determinism is applied to the divine sphere. In Greek stories, on the contrary, there is considerable fickleness to be found in the Greek gods. So, here too, the author might be thinking about Greek conceptions of the world, under cover of anti-ninevism. The lesson of the book, if there is one, is the strengthening of “ordinary” or common perceptions —I mean ordinary for a listener or reader of the biblical stories— not for a non-Hebrew, say a Greek, who precisely has these beliefs, namely that the gods are all powerful, and that nature is essentially ruled by unpredictable gods. The hidden philosophy of the book, to be derived from its ironical posture, would be exactly contrary to its surface story and to popular forms of Greek wisdom. It would be suggesting that there is determinism in nature, but complete divine freedom.

In Greek mythology and theater, the precautions taken to keep the heroes away conspire to bring them back to the center of the drama through a complicated chain of events. The book of Jonah does away with the niceties of the complex mechanism which Greek drama slowly unfolds and presents a hero who, though naked and battered, remains proud before his God.





Jonah as naked hero features prominently in later Christian iconography. Scholars have shown that ancient versions of sea stories and especially their iconography (for instance combinations of the story of Heracles and Hermione), were integrated more or less successfully in Christian retellings and illustrations of Jonah’s story.**53** I suggest that among the themes re-employed in this iconography, some of the motifs of the Jason cycle might have an important role which has not been brought to light until now, at least to my knowledge. Motifs which were common to both stories in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE (and even before?) are still fused together in the first centuries of our era. I can indicate only briefly some of the parallels and adaptations, however, while hoping that a full study of the representations of Jason and Jonah be undertaken in the future to check the hypothesis.

The transformation of motifs taken from Graeco-Roman depictions of other heroes and their re-employment in Christian and Jewish representations of Jonah have long been noted. For instance, it has been shown that the image on a sarcophagus from Santa Maria Antiqua of a naked Jonah resting languidly under a vine, closely resembles that of Endymion reclining in seemingly beatific pleasure, with his right arm stretched behind his head.**54** Structurally speaking, however, and without dismissing the aforementioned striking comparison, the presence of a ship, a sea monster to the left (not a whale or fish), a tree (not a gourd?) above Jonah, with a ram and two sheep (?) above him, and a woman standing to his right ––all of these elements make sense as the continuation of the Jason imagery. I propose therefore that the artist conflated stock images of both Jason and Endymion. I note also that this paradisiac interpretation of Jonah under the gourd, though in line with the Jewish interpretation of the sukkah and the Christian idea of resurrection, and fitting long-standing representations of Endymion and even Jason (there is an Edenic quality to the wood where the latter finds the Golden Fleece), is completely contradictory to the sense one gets of Jonah in the Hebrew story, namely that of an angry and sulking man. Furthermore, in the Biblical story, the episode of the gourd is placed after Jonah goes to Nineveh and is well separated from the storm and disgorgement episode. But in the Jewish or Christian iconography of Jonah, the gourd scene is set close by the ship and sea-monster or whale, and Nineveh is altogether absent. The simplest explanation for this juxtaposition is that painters and sculptors were fitting familiar images from Greek mythology onto Jonah’s story.

In one of his letters, Augustine answers, or rather dodges, a curious question asked by a pagan friend of the Carthage priest Deogratias, who is writing to the bishop of Hippo for intellectual ammunition he might use in his discussions with that friend.**55** The question seems to be occasioned by a representation of Jonah very much like the one described above, and other similar images in which the ocean adventure and the “gourd” scene are juxtaposed. The pagan friend wishes to be enlightened about the meaning of the gourd plant growing above Jonah, who has just been disgorged by the monster.**56** This pagan man may have heard the biblical story but more certainly he has seen Jonah represented as vomited by a monstrous sea-creature on the seaside, probably naked,**57** under the gourd. The scenes of the vomiting and the gourd could be kept apart, as in the fourth century mosaic at Aquileia, for instance. Yet there are numerous representations setting both motifs side by side. One could argue that this proximity was a function of artistic convenience alone but it makes good sense to see in it the direct influence of the figurative Jason cycle.

A proper elucidation of the role of the Jason story in these traditions might help to explain some of the questions that ancient representations posed for early Christian interpreters and exhortative preaching. There are curious silences in early Christian teaching regarding, for instance, the treatment of the episode of the gourd, Jonah’s nakedness and baldness, which stand out in contrast to the images of Jonah. The latter detail forms an interesting puzzle: compare Jason on the Cerveteri cup, bearded, with long wavy and glistening hair, hanging below him like the fleece, and Jonah. Jason’s lustrous hair is also mentioned by Pindar.**58** Early pictures of Jonah, likewise, show him long-haired, occasionally bearded. An eastern Mediterranean marble figure from the second half of the third century CE, for instance, has a bearded, long-haired and naked Jonah being vomited out of a sea-monster (part whale?).**59** For the Midrash on Jonah, however, the heat inside the monster was so intense that Jonah lost his clothes and his hair. But in this case, it may have been the classical representations of yet another hero, namely Heracles, which brought about the theme of baldness and nakedness (though, as mentioned in a note above, nakedness seems to have been a standard component of any image of shipwrecked victims). As for the gourd usually shown above Jonah, it might have been part of the stock images used for Jason at a very early stage. In an Etruscan bronze mirror of the fifth- or fourth-century BCE, a long-haired Jason (HEIASUN, see plate) emerges from the dragon with sword in his right hand, fleece in his left, surrounded by what appears to be a broad-leafed plant having the shape of a vine and bearing fruit which look like melons.**60**

These are only a few of the iconographic parallels and adaptations. A thorough study of the representations of Jason and Jonah would show in detail in what way century-old images of Jason were attached to Jonah in the first centuries CE. Eventually, though, the Christian messianic interpretations of the Hebrew story asserted their influence and slowly altered the nature and presentation of the repertory of stock images.

To conclude, I note that the persistence of these images and themes over the centuries in a wide cultural area is a striking phenomenon. The cultural bonds between Greece and Israel were stronger than has been thought sometimes, although the borrowings were made in all directions and the resulting knots are near inextricable. Yet I hope to have shown that replacing the stories of Jonah and Jason in the wider context of their Mediterranean matrix enriches their meaning and leads serendipitously to new philological observations. Now, the use of widely scattered mythological themes by the author of the book of Jonah does not necessarily mean that the influence of Greek language and institutions was very deep in Israel, even in the last centuries B.C.E.**61** In fact, the author plays with these heroic stories very much as he questions the Hebrew prophetic accounts. The book might therefore be interpreted as a chapter in the multi-sided resistance to hellenistic culture. It is hoped that a more thorough study of the rhetoric of prophecy in Israel and Greece, together with a fully developed analysis of the iconography of Jason and Jonah, will yield even more assured results in the future.


**1** See A. Feuillet, “Les sources du livre de Jonas,” Revue biblique 54 (1947) 161-86; P.L. Trible, Studies in the Book of Jonah (Ph.D. Diss., Columbia, 1963) 107-8, 110-12; J. Sasson, Jonah. A New Translation with Introduction, Commentary, and Interpretation (The Anchor Bible, 24B; New York: Doubleday, 1990) passim.

**2** 2 See Sasson, op. cit., pp. 331-40.

**3** 3 See A. Feuillet, art. cit., p. 162; E. Bickerman, Four Strange Books of the Bible (New York: Schocken, 1967) mentions also the stories of Arion in Herodotus and Heracles’ three day sojourn in a sea cave. A. Feuillet, after reviewing the possibilities, thinks that the results are meager and unimportant. P. Trible reviews all previous proposals, op. cit., pp. 127-52.

**4** 4 The most important work is by H. Schmidt: Jona. Eine Untersuchung zum vergleichenden Religionsgeschichte (Göttingen, 1907), pp. 22-23. As the title indicates, this is a broad comparative study which, in the opinion of Y.M. Duval (in: Le livre de Jonas dans la littérature chrétienne grecque et latine. Paris: Études Augustiniennes, 1973) is carried too far. Flasch, Angebliche Argonautenbilder (Munich: F. Straub, 1870); Welcker (Alte Denkm˛ler); Radermacher (Mythos und Sage bei den griechen, Leipzig: R.M. Rohrer, 1938, p. 183; alsoDas Jenseits im Mythos der Hellenen, pp. 67ff.); Kerényi also (in The Heroes of the Greeks, London: Thames & Hudson, 1959).

**5** Not in Feuillet or in Sasson. The work of H. Schmidt (above, note 4) is not mentioned in J. Sasson’s bibliography.

**6** Abbreviated as LIMC from now on, vol. V, books 1 and 2, see under Jason.

**7** J. Sasson speaks of “vestiges of tales” but does not specify their origin (pp. 16-18).

**8** A question most recently addressed by W. Burkert, The Orientalizing Revolution (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press) 1992, about the archaic period. The book appeared in German in 1984.

**9** Eustathius, Commentarii ad Homeri Iliadem pertinentes (M. Van der Valk, Leiden: Brill, vol. 1, 1971, p.773, lines 15-17).

**10** See Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum, vol. 3 (1964), p. 179, 9 mentions. For Cyrenaica, see index in W. Horbury and D. Noy, Jewish Inscriptions of Graeco-Roman Egypt (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 326. Also: A. Lalonde, “La Cyrénaïque romaine des origines à la fin des Sévères (96 av. J.-C.–235 ap. J.-C.),” Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt, vol. II/10.1 (1988), p. 1045. Note the names of high priests under Antiochos IV: Onias, then his brother Jason, then Menelas.

**11** In Pindar, Pyth. 4.

**12** See The New Encyclopaedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, vol. 2 (Jerusalem/New York: Israel Exploration Society and Carta; Simon andSchuster, 1993), p. 751.

**13** Apollonius, Argonautica 2.317f.; 2.555f. The use of doves may have been a most ancient technique. It is not documented in J. Rougé, La marine de l’antiquité, Paris: P.U.F. (1975), or in L. Casson, Travel in the Ancient World (London: Allen & Unwin, 1974).

**14** Aeneid 6.190f.

**15** Soph. Trachiniae 169f.; Servius, In Aeneidem 3.466.

**16** Bora is still the name of a northern wind coming from Dalmatia and causing storms in the Adriatic Sea: J. Rougé, La marine de l’antiquité, Paris: P.U.F. (1975) 24. The Boreads are pictured as winged creatures, often naked, as in LIMC III/1 (1986), pp. 126-33.

**17** 1 Kings 19.10. The whole story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18.20-40.

**18** AO 1155-77.

**19** Herodotus, History 1.4. Parallel evoked by E. Bickerman, among others (see note 3 above).

**20** bNedarim 38a; PRE 10. Tradition hesitates about the nature of the payment: Jonah’s passage alone, or the value of the entire cargo, a problem evident in the difference between MT and LXX, and which puzzled Jerome, In Ionam 1.3. See Y.M. Duval, Le livre de Jonas dans la littérature chrétienne grecque et latine (Paris: Études Augustiniennes, vol. 1, 1973) p. 100, n. 158, following L. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, vol. 6 , p. 349, n. 28.

**21** As noted by J. Sasson, Jonah, New York: The Anchor Bible (1990), 141-42.

**22** AO 1157; Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica, 4.580-91.

**23** AO 1159.

**24** AR 2.172-530.

**25** Like Heracles, who fights a sea-monster to save Hesione, for instance; see E. Bickerman, Four Strange Books of the Bible, p. 11.

**26** LIMC V/2 (1990), p. 427, no. 30: seventh century scene, with Jason long-haired and bearded; p. 428, no. 34.

**27** Reproduced in color in P.E. Arias and M. Hirmer, Le vase grec, Paris: Flammarion (1962), fig. 147 (Italian original 1962. Also ET, with marked differences). Also in H. Schmidt, op. cit., p. 23; Kerényi, The Heroes of the Greeks, fig. 62; now in LIMC, vol. V/2, p. 428 (fig. Iason 32).

**28** Flasch, Angebliche Argonautenbilder (Munich: F. Straub, 1870), p. 27.

**29** See Laconian iconography. Check LIMC on Boreadae.

**30** Angebliche Argonautenbilder (Munich: F. Straub, 1870), chapter 3, p. 25. See also Radermacher, Das Jenseits im Mythos der Hellenen, p. 67. But see Welcker, Alte Denkm˛ler, p. 378.

**31** “Ships, monsters and Jonah,” American Journal of Archaeology 66 (1962), 294, pl. 78, fig. 7. She is following E. Pfuhl, Malerei und Zeichnung der Griechen, vol. 3, Munich (1923) pl. 164, no. 467; and K. Kerényi, The Heroes of the Greeks (1959) fig. 62, pp. 264–65, for a commentary on the Cerveteri vase.

**32** “A l’intérieur, Athena casquée, armée de l’égide et de la lance, la chouette dans la main droite, assiste, étonnée, à l’approche du héros Jason (ijvason) qui sort de la gueule ouverte du dragon.”

**33** P.E. Arias and M. Hirmer, Le vase grec, Paris: Flammarion (1962), fig. 147 and p. 80 for a brief commentary.

**34** LIMC II/1 (1984) 975-76; II/2 (1984) No. 187, etc.

**35** A fifth to fourth century BCE Greek volute-krater features doves in two trees connected with the Jason story: LIMC V/2 (1990), Iason 17. The Golden Fleece hangs from an olive-tree, to the left, and a dragon is coiled around the trunk of an apple-tree (?) to the right.

**36** Note that Aquila and Theodotion transcribed the word, kikeôna (Sasson, p. 292).

**37** Surveyed and evaluated by B.P. Robertson, “Jonah’s Qiqayon Plant,” ZATW 97 (1985) 390–403.

**38** Not in Pindar, but in several passages of the version in Apollonius of Rhodes and in the Argonautica Orphica.

**39** Note also the tradition of fast-growing trees in AO (?).

**40** See A. Delatte, “Le Cycéon, breuvage rituel des mystères d’Eleusis,” Revue d’Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses 32 (1954) 690-748.

**41** K. Shepard, The Fish-Tailed Monster in Greek and Etruscan Art, New York and Menasha, Wisc.: Privately printed and G. Banta Co. (1940), 4-9, for mermen 10-11, 19, 43-44 for discussion of the origins of Skylla, a sea-monster popular in the 5th c. BCE. There is no mention of Jonah in this work. See also G. Ahlberg–Cornell, Heracles and the Sea-Monster in Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painting, Stockholm: P. Åströms Förlag (1984), 17, for Near Eastern influence on Greek art in the middle of the 7th c. B.C. This author suspects Corinth had a special role in this cultural transmission in that period. Now see W. Burkert, The Orientalizing Revolution. Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992.

**42** See J. Fontenrose, Python. A Study of Delphic Myth and its Origins. Berkeley: UC Press (1959) 121–45, esp. 133–34; 143–45.

**43** Fontenrose, ibid., p. 485.

**44** On which see G.B. Miles and G. Trompf, “Luke and Antiphon: The Theology of Acts 27-28 in the Light of Pagan Beliefs About Divine Retribution, Pollution, and Shipwreck,” Harvard Theological Review 69 (1976) 259-67.

**45** For Jason as anti-hero, see G. Lawall, “Apollonius’ Argonautica: Jason as Anti-Hero,” Yale Classical Studies 19 (1966) 119-69.

**46** Especially J. Magonet, Form and Meaning: Studies in Literary Techniques in the Book of Jonah (1976); D. L. Christensen, “The Song of Jonah: A Metrical Analysis,” Journal of Biblical Literature 104 (1985) 217-31.

**47** On Jonah as a parody: A. Band, “Swallowing Jonah: The Eclipse of Parody,” Prooftexts 10 (1990), 177–95, who may be exaggerating the comic effect. Band is in substantial agreement with J. Miles especially, M. Burrows, B. Halpern and R. Friedman, J.C. Hulbert, J. Ackerman and others. The parodic interpretation has been strongly opposed by several authors, esp. A. Berlin.

**48** Cf. E. Gruen, “Cultural Fictions and Cultural Identity,” Transactions of the American Philological Association 123 (1993) 1-14.

**49** For instance, this is considered the main point of the story in The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990), pp. 580-84.

**50** See E.E. Urbach, “Tshuvat anshey Nineveh” Tarbiz 20 (1959) pp. 119-20.

**51** Duval, vol 1, p. 77. See F. Siegert, Drei hellenistisch-jüdische Predigten (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum NT, vol. 61, Mohr: Tübingen, 1992).

**52** See E. Bickerman, Four Strange Books of the Bible (1967), pp. 29-33, where he explains the evolution of oracles of doom (fata denuntiativa) and conditional prophecies.

**53** See important pages in Y.M. Duval, Le livre de Jonas dans la littérature chrétienne grecque et latine (Paris: Etudes augustiniennes, 1973), esp. pp. 13-19 for texts and 19-39 for figurative art.

**54** T. F. Mathews, The Clash of Gods. A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993, fig. 13, and pp. 30-31 (following Von Sybel, see Mathews’ note 16). A structurally similar image of Jonah asleep under staked up gourds, with long hair and no beard, appears on a third century (end) fragment of a sarcophagus lid in the Louvre museum: see P. Du Bourguet, Early Christian Art (New York: Reynal &Co.; William Morrow & Co., 1971), p. 39.

**55** Letter 102.6; see Y.M. Duval, vol. 1, p. 28.

**56** Augustine, Letter 102.6.30: “Quod sibi etiam vult supra euomitum Ionam cucurbitam natam?”

**57** He mentions the incredible fact that a man could have been swallowed fully clothed by the fish. Nakedness, however, was part of the motif of the shipwrecked victim, and applies to Jason as well as to Jonah.

**58** Pyth. 4.82-83.

**59** P. Du Bourguet, Early Christian Art, p. 109.

**60** LIMC V/2 (1990), Iason 35; see also H. Schmidt, op. cit., fig. 5, p. 24.

**61** The book was probably written in the fifth or fourth c. B.C.E. But as J. Sasson writes (op. cit., p. 328), this book is not written “in a style favorable to historical inquiry,” and is difficult to date.




Micaiah and Micah

Published October 24, 2018 by amaic

 Image result for micaiah prophet


Damien F. Mackey



“Micah uses the imagery of a threshing floor (same word in Hebrew) and

iron horns that come from the events surrounding Micaiah’s prophecy”.

 Christadelphian Books 




Many have observed the amazing series of compelling likenesses between the words and visions of the prophet Micaiah and those of the prophet Micah. {“The name Mica(h) is the accepted abbreviated form of the name Michaiah (like … Rick is to Richard)”: Abarim Publications:}

However, the next step, to identify Micah as Micaiah, would clearly seem to be a step too far, given Micah’s contemporaneity with king Ahab of Israel (c. 871 – 852 BC, conventional dating) (1 Kings 22:8-28), and Micah’s contemporaneity with king Hezekiah of Judah (c. 715 – 686 BC, conventional dating) (cf. Jeremiah 26:18).


That is a time separation of at least a century and a half!



Micah, though, does seem to be making definite reference to king Ahab and the Naboth incident.

(See chart below). Not to mention this clearly direct reference to Ahab and Omri (Micah 6:16): “The statutes of Omri and all the works of the house of Ahab are observed; and in their devices you walk.”

So I suspect that the Divided Monarchy needs further shortening, with the age of Ahab brought significantly closer to that of Micah.


The following chart is one example of just how well Micah lines up alongside Micaiah:


Micah Micaiah Comment
“Hear, O peoples, all of you; listen, O earth”(1:2) “Listen, all you people.”(2Chron 18:27) Micah’s opening quotes Micaiah’s final words(the only occasion of this phrase in scripture).
“…the Lord from His holy temple.“(1:2) “I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, andall the host of heaven standing on His right

and on His left.”

(2Chron 18:18)

“All this is for the rebellion of Jacob and for thesins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion

of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high

place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? For I will

make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open

country, planting places for a vineyard. I will pour

her stones down into the valley, and will lay bare

her foundations. All of her idols will be smashed,

all of her earnings will be burned with fire, and all

of her images I will make desolate, for she

collected them from a harlot’s earnings, and to

the earnings of a harlot they will return. Because

of this I must lament and wail, I must go barefoot

and naked; I must make a lament like the jackals

and a mourning like the ostriches. For her wound

is incurable, for it has come to Judah; it has

reached the gate of my people, even to




Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat theking of Judah were sitting each on his

throne, arrayed in their robes, and they were

sitting at the threshing floor at the entrance

of the gate of Samaria; and all the

prophets were prophesying before them.

(2Chron 18:9)

Micah’s concern is that the evil from Samariais infecting Judah, it has even reached the

gate of Jerusalem. That infection can be

traced back to the gate of Samaria.

Micah Micaiah Comment
“Woe to those who scheme iniquity, who workout evil on their beds! When morning comes,

they do it, for it is in the power of their hands.

They covet fields and then seize them and

houses, and take them away. They rob a man

and his house, a man and his inheritance.”


So Ahab came into his house sullen andvexed because of the word which Naboth

the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he

said, “I will not give you the inheritance of

my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed

and turned away his face and ate no food.

(1Kings 21:4 and context)

Micah’s description of evil doers is veryreminiscent of the incident of Ahab and


“If a man walking after wind and falsehood hadtold lies and said ‘I will speak out to you

concerning wine and liquor,’ He would be

spokesman (KJV: prophet) to this people.”


“Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put adeceiving spirit in the mouth of these

your prophets; for the LORD has

proclaimed disaster against you.”

(2Chron 18:22)

Lying prophets
“I will surely assemble all of you, Jacob, I willsurely gather the remnant of Israel. I will put

them together like sheep in the fold; like a

flock in the midst of its pasture they will be noisy

with men.


So he said, “I saw all Israel Scattered onthe mountains, like sheep which have no


(2Chron 18:16)

Scattered sheep.
“Thus says the LORD concerning the prophetsWho lead my people astray; when they have

something to bite with their teeth, they cry,

Peace,” but against him who puts nothing in

their mouths, they declare holy war.“


Then the king of Israel assembled theprophets, four hundred men …And they

said,” Go up, for God will give it into the

hand of the king.”

(2Chron 18:5)

400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at

Jezebel’s table.

(1Kings 18:19)

Ahab’s false prophets were clearly only sayingwhat their employer wanted.



Micah Micaiah Comment
Therefore it will be night for you– without vision,and darkness for you– without divination. The

sun will go down on the prophets, and the day

will become dark over them. The seers will be

ashamed and the diviners will be embarrassed.

Indeed, they will all cover their mouths Because

there is no answer from God.


And Micaiah said, “Behold, you shall see onthat day, when you enter an inner room to

hide yourself.”

(2Chron 18:24)

Zedekiah was a blind seer (“seer” and “see”are almost identical in Hebrew) who would

finally see on the day he cowardly hides

himself in shame. (Inner room can mean the

toilet as in Judges 3:24)

On the other hand I am filled with power– Withthe Spirit of the LORD— And with justice and

courage To make known to Jacob his rebellious

act, even to Israel his sin.


How did the Spirit of the LORD passfrom me to speak to you?”

(2Chron 18:24)

Zedekiah claims that Micaiah did not have thespirit of Yahweh as he makes known Ahab’s


“But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD,and they do not understand His purpose; for He

has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing

floor. Arise and thresh, daughter of Zion, for your

horn I will make iron and your hoofs I will make

bronze, that you may pulverize many peoples,

that you may devote to the LORD their unjust

gain and their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.


Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat theking of Judah were sitting each on his

throne, arrayed in their robes, and they were

sitting at the threshing floor at the entrance

of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets

were prophesying before them. And

Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made

horns of iron for himself and said, “Thus

says the LORD, ‘With these you shall gore

the Arameans, until they are consumed.’”

(2Chron 18:9-10)

Micah uses the imagery of a threshing floor(same word in Hebrew) and iron horns that

come from the events surrounding Micaiah’s


“Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter oftroops; they have laid siege against us; with a rod

they will smite the judge of Israel on the



Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah camenear and struck Micaiah on the cheek…

(2Chron 18:23

Struck on the cheek



Micah Micaiah Comment
And He will arise and shepherd His flock in thestrength of the LORD…


Shepherd Thy people with Thy scepter, the

flock of Thy possession which dwells by itself in

the woodland, in the midst of a fruitful field. Let

them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days

of old.


Israel Scattered on the mountains, likesheep which have no shepherd; and the

(2Chron 18:16)

Micah looks forward to the day when Israeland Judah will have a proper shepherd.

He also looks forward to that flock feeding in

Gilead, the very place Ahab and Jehoshaphat

were seeking to reclaim.

“My people, remember now what Balak king ofMoab counselled…Does the LORD take delight

in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of

oil? Shall I present my first-born for my

rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the

sin of my soul?

(6:5, 7)

When the king of Moab saw that the battlewas too fierce for him, he took with him 700

men who drew swords, to break through to

the king of Edom; but they could not. Then

he took his oldest son who was to reign

in his place, and offered him as a burnt

offering on the wall. And there came great

wrath against Israel, and they departed from

him and returned to their own land.

(2Kings 3:26-27)

A couple of years later Jehoshaphat andAhab’s son were again joined in a campaign,

against Moab when the king of Moab offered

his first born son.

“The statutes of Omri and all the works of thehouse of Ahab are observed; and in their

devices you walk.”


Micah’s criticism of Judah is that it is following the example Ahab and his father.

Part Two:

Not an overshadowed prophet

“It seems poor Micah is destined to forever play backup to headliner Isaiah”

Michael Williams 


This view expressed here by Michael Williams about Micah is by no means the one that I found to have been the case when Micah is accorded some stunning prophetic alter egos. See e.g. my:


Prophet Jonah’s long life of service

And, in the first part of this particular series:

I had embraced a tradition according to which Micah was the same as the prophet Micaiah at the time of king Ahab of Israel.

The names are the same, and it is interesting that the prophet Jeremiah gives Micah the longer form name of Micaiah: “His name is a shortened form of Micaiah (Jdgs. 17:1,4; I Kgs. 22:13), which meant “who is like YHWH” (BDB 567). Jeremiah 26:18 has the full name in the Hebrew text (i.e., Micaiah) [מיכיה הַמּוֹרַשְׁתִּי]”:

Whilst this tradition is extremely difficult to sustain within the context of the extended conventional chronology of the Divided Kingdom, it becomes feasible when it is recognised that (as according to the Prophet Jonah article above):


  • our composite prophet lived to 120-130 years of age; and that
  • the early-mid Divided Kingdom period needs to be considerably shortened.


I have already applied such a radical shortening to the later kingdom of Judah period in my article:


‘Taking aim on’ king Amon – such a wicked king of Judah

Far from Micah’s having played second fiddle to the great Isaiah, he was – according to my reconstructions – the very father of Isaiah. For one, he was the “Micah” of the Book of Judith (6:15): “Uzziah son of Micah, of the tribe of Simeon …”, with the “Uzziah” here being Isaiah.

This was when the reluctant prophet (cf. Jonah), a shepherd and tender of sycamore trees, had been assigned to Bethel (“Bethulia” of Judith) in the reign of Jeroboam II (cf. Amos).

Micah (“Amos redivivus”) was thus Amos (or Amoz) the father of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1).

Micah and Isaiah were a father-and-son prophetic combination, operating both in northern Israel and in the southern kingdom.


Wrongly Michael Williams writes (Hidden Prophets of the Bible: Finding the Gospel in Hosea through Malachi):


We have already seen that Micah’s ministry was far overshadowed by that of Isaiah, his contemporary. Although the precise dates for the ministry of many of the Minor Prophets are difficult to nail down with any precision …


My comment: Absolutely impossible “to nail down with any precision” the way that the conventional biblico-history has been constructed.


… tradition maintains that Micah’s ministry also overlapped that of at least two other prophets: Hosea and Amos.


My comment: I have already noted, though, that Micah was Amos.

Hosea, I believe, to be, again, Isaiah, operating (like his father) in northern Bethel.


So, according to tradition, possibly as many as three other biblical prophets who have left books for us in our canon ministered at the same time as Micah.


My comment: Perhaps make that just one other biblical prophet: namely, Isaiah (= Hosea, Uzziah).


That same tradition asserts, however, that Micah “was a younger contemporary of the other three” ….


My comment: Swing and a miss! Micah was older than the other one, who was his son.


It seems, therefore, that our hidden prophet Micah had to deal not only with other practitioners of his craft, but also with the fact that he was a junior to them.


My comment: Same comment. Micah was in fact like an Alpha prophet!

Further on, Michael Williams will write:

Although extrabiblical traditions regarding Micah are rare, there is one that claims he was a disciple of Elijah. …. Elijah ministered during the reign of Ahab in Israel (874–853). Clearly, this period precedes the time of Micah’s ministry by at least a hundred years. So how an assertion that Micah was a disciple of Elijah could possibly be true is interesting to consider.


My comment: Micah was Elijah according to my reconstruction (see Prophet Jonah article above). And Jonah, too – thought to have been the boy raised to life by Elijah – was Elijah.


As we saw above, Micah’s name is actually a shorter form of the name Micaiah. And there is indeed a prophet named Micaiah who ministered during the reigns of King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah (I Kings 22:8). Apparently, Jewish tradition has confused our Minor Prophet Micah with this earlier prophet Micaiah son of Imlah … even though they clearly ministered at different times.


My comment: “Different times” during a very long life of 120-130 years.

Jewish tradition got this connection dead right.


So not only is poor Micah overshadowed by Isaiah and opposed by false prophets, but he has also been mistaken for someone else.


My comment: The reality of Micah is far less negative than this, so I think.






Elijah-Jonah (Jonadab) ‘The chariots … of Israel’

Published October 24, 2018 by amaic
Image result for elijah in chariot


 Damien F. Mackey


This is, I now believe, an epithet given to Elijah by his servant Elisha,

when Elijah went up in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:12): “Elisha saw this and cried out,

‘My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!’”



To Heaven in a fiery chariot


This may well be where the name “Jonah” comes in for the prophet Elijah.


Elijah’s fiery ride upwards (2 Kings 2:1-17) is by no means the end of the prophet, as is thought. According to my theory, at least, he would live into the age of (his yet other alter ego) Micah, as late as the time of king Hezekiah of Judah (cf. Jeremiah 26:18).

He would need all of his 120-130 years of age (as traditionally accorded to Jonah) to have been able to have accomplished this.


After the prophet (as Micaiah) had foretold the imminent death in battle of king Ahab of Israel and (as Elijah) of queen Jezebel, he next emerges, I think – and this is completely new – as Jonadab (Jehonadab) son of Rechab near Beth-Eked of the shepherds (2 Kings 10:12, 15-17):


Jehu then set out and went toward Samaria. At Beth Eked of the Shepherds ….

After he left there, he came upon Jehonadab son of Rekab, who was on his way to meet him. Jehu greeted him and said, ‘Are you in accord with me, as I am with you?’

‘I am’, Jehonadab answered. ‘If so’, said Jehu, ‘give me your hand’. So he did, and Jehu helped him up into the chariot.  Jehu said, ‘Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord’. Then he had him ride along in his chariot.

When Jehu came to Samaria, he killed all who were left there of Ahab’s family; he destroyed them, according to the word of the Lord spoken to Elijah.


The meaning of Rekab (Rechab)


A lot of effort has been expended by scholars in trying to work out this one.

Who was Jonadab’s ancestor, Rekab?

This is, I now believe, an epithet given to Elijah by his servant Elisha, when Elijah went up in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:12): “Elisha saw this and cried out, ‘My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!’”

Elijah had become “The Chariots of Israel”, or Rekeb Yisrael:


יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ רֶ֤כֶב


To use a Hebraïsm, Elijah is now, therefore: a Son of Rekab.

In this case, Rekab is not his father.

According to Elijah as Micaiah, his father (or ancestor) was Imla[h].

According to Elijah as Jonah, his father (or ancestor) was Amittai.



The prophet was undoubtedly a Nazirite, foregoing all strong drink.


His loyal descendants, known at the time of Jeremiah as “Rechabites”, greatly revered their holy ancestor, or “father” (Jeremiah 35:6-11):


‘We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, ‘You shall not drink wine, neither you nor your sons forever. You shall not build a house; you shall not sow seed; you shall not plant or have a vineyard; but you shall live in tents all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you sojourn.’ We have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, and not to build houses to dwell in.

We have no vineyard or field or seed, but we have lived in tents and have obeyed and done all that Jonadab our father commanded us. But when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against the land, we said, ‘Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans and the army of the Syrians.’ So we are living in Jerusalem’.


The meaning of Jonadab (Jonah)


“Jonadab, is a contracted form of יהונדב, Jehonadab …”.

The Jeho- element pertains, of course, to “the Lord”. Whereas: The graceful verb נדב (nadab) connotes “an uncompelled and free movement of the will unto divine service or sacrifice …”.


The name “Jonah” (יוֹנָה), on the other hand, is taken to mean “dove”, as explained at:–P2gzaUk

“There’s something deeply peculiar about the name Jonah. Pretty much all sources derive it of the root יון, and render the name Dove. Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names, however, makes a striking observation (or perhaps even an error). Jones suggests that the Hebrew word for dove comes from the verb ינה(yana), meaning to oppress, vex, do wrong …”.


In our new context, though, with Jonah identified as Jehonadab (Jonadab), then this latter name





would be the actual foundation for the name, Jonah.


Piankhi same as Bible’s Tirhakah?

Published September 21, 2018 by amaic
Image result for piankhi



Damien F. Mackey



Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the king of Cush,

was marching out to fight against him”.

2 Kings 19:9



As part of my effort to reform the later Egyptian dynastic history in my postgraduate thesis:


A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah


I had identified the long-reigning 25th (Kushite) dynasty pharaoh, Piankhi (or Piye) (c. 744-714 BC, conventional dating) with the biblical Tirhakah (or Taharko) (hopelessly mis-dated to c. 690-664 BC, conventional dating).

There is a scarab that seems to attest to this identification directly:



It is discussed in a most interesting article entitled by R. Clover, entitled “The Sabbath and Jubilee Cycle”, section Tirhakah Piankhi (commencing on p. 118):


I wrote about this on p. 384 of my thesis (Volume One):


Now Piye [Piankhi], conventionally considered to have been the first major 25th dynasty pharaoh, and whose beginning of reign (revised) must have been very close to 730 BC (given that he reigned for 31 years), and whose 21st year (Stele) fell during the reign of Tefnakht – had also adopted the name of Usermaatre. Thus Grimal: … “[Piankhy] identified himself with the two great rulers who were most represented in the Nubian monuments, Tuthmosis III and Ramesses II, and adopted each of their coronation names: Menkheperre and Usermaatra respectively”. In other words, Piye was an eclectic in regard to early Egyptian history; and this fact may provide us with a certain opportunity for manoeuvring, alter ego wise.

Fortunately we do not need to guess who Piye was, because there is a scarab that tells us

precisely that Snefer-Ra Piankhi was Tirhakah, much to the puzzlement of Petrie. …. It reads:


“King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Tirhakah, Son of Ra, Piankhi”.


Part Two:

25th (Ethiopian) Dynasty not clear cut




“… that is by no means the only problem with the current arrangement of the 25th dynasty. In fact there appears to be a significant problem in the case of virtually each … of its major kings”.


If Piankhi is really to be identified with Tirhakah as according to a piece of evidence referred to in Part One: then – with Piankhi conventionally beginning in c. 744 BC, and Tirhakah conventionally ending in 664 BC – such a union will necessitate yet a further significant revision (no surprise there) of later Egyptian history. Whilst this would come as a surprise, though, for conventional historians, who generally consider the 25th dynasty to be rather secure, based upon the (as is thought) well-attested and accurate neo-Assyrian chronology, it would come as no surprise whatever to anyone who considers the conventional neo-Assyrian chronology to be in need of considerable reform.

Regarding the shakiness of the conventional reconstruction of even the supposedly “authentic history”

(Gardiner) of the 25th (Ethiopian) dynasty, I wrote in my postgraduate thesis (with inspiration from Peter James et al., Centuries of Darkness):


A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah


(Volume One, beginning on p. 373):


The Presumed ‘Ethiopians’


The conventional chronology offers a scenario entirely different from the one that I have just proposed for the era of the Fall of Samaria in c. 722 BC. But at least it gives us an ‘Ethiopian’ ruler for that era; though somewhat wrongly dated as I shall attempt to show: namely, Piye (c. 747-716 BC, conventional dates). Piye of the 25th Ethiopian dynasty is known from his detailed stele to have been at odds with the 24th dynasty pharaoh, Tefnakht (c. 727-716 BC, conventional dates). I discussed this particular scenario above (pp. 368-370), where I however rejected any such a view that would date Piye’s Stele (in his 21st year) to the approximate time of ‘So’, as is conventionally done. Instead, I argued for an era somewhat later (viz., Ashurbanipal’s, revised) for this document. We recall that the name of Piye’s northern opponent, Tefnakht, was included in the Annals of Ashurbanipal; apparently indicating that Piye continued to rule into a period significantly later than according to convention. “Here at last”, wrote Gardiner, with an apparent sigh of relief upon his introduction of the 25th dynasty,[1] “we are heartened by some resemblance to authentic history …”. Perhaps though, from a conventional perspective, he could not have been more wrong. The Tang-i Var inscription dated to Sargon II’s Year 15 (c. 707 BC), according to which Shebitku – not Shabaka as was long thought – was the 25th dynasty pharaoh who had dispatched the rebel Iatna-Iamani in chains to Sargon II, has brought new confusion. Here is the pertinent section of this document:[2]



… I (… Sargon) plundered the city of Ashdod, Iamani, its king, feared [my weapons] and …. he fled to the region of the land of Meluhha and lived (there) stealthfully (lit. like a thief) …. Shapataku’ (Shabatka) king of … Meluhha … put (Iamani) in manacles and handcuffs … he had him brought captive into my presence ….


This means that Shebitku and Tirhakah must now be re-located upwards by at least a decade in relation to Sargon II. Perhaps nowhere does the conventional separation of Sargon II from Sennacherib show up as in this case. Yet even revisionist Rohl, as late as 2002, was ignoring the Tang-i Var evidence, dating Tirhakah’s first appearance, at the battle of Eltekeh, to 702 BC, an incredible “thirty-one years earlier” than his actual rule of 690-665 BC,[3] which is, however, about two decades too late. Thus he wrote:[4]


For five years the new king of Napata (ruling from Kush) had reigned in co-operation with his cousin Shabataka [Shebitku], king of Egypt (son of Shabaka). Then Taharka [Tirhakah] became sole 25th Dynasty ruler of both Kush and Egypt in his sixth regnal year following the death of Shabataka in 684 BC. There were other Libyan pharaohs in Egypt (such as Shoshenk V of Tanis and Rudamun of Thebes) but they were all subservient to the Kushite king.


The year 684 BC is far too late for the beginning of Tirhakah’s sole rule in relation to Shebitku and his known connection with Sargon II’s 15th year! And that is by no means the only problem with the current arrangement of the 25th dynasty. In fact there appears to be a significant problem in the case of virtually each one of its major kings. Regarding its first (according to convention) major ruler, Piye, for instance, Gardiner has written:[5]


It is strange … that Manetho makes no mention of the great Sudanese or Cushite warrior Pi‘ankhy who about 730 B.C. suddenly altered the entire complexion of Egyptian affairs. He was the son of a … Kashta … and apparently a brother of the Shabako [Shabaka] whom Manetho presents under the name Sabacōn.


And whilst, according to Herodotus, Shabaka (his Sabacos) reigned for some 50 years,[6] he has been reduced by the Egyptologists to a mere 15-year reign.[7] Furthermore:[8] “The absence of the names of Shabako and Shebitku from the Assyrian and Hebrew records is no less remarkable than the scarcity of their monuments in the lands over which they extended their sway”. These anomalies, coupled with the surprise data from the Iranian Tang-i Var inscription (which is in fact an Assyrian reference to Shebitku), suggest that there are deep problems right the way through the current arrangement of the 25th dynasty. I hope that I am now beginning to propose plausible solutions to at least some of these.



Piye’s chronology now heavily overlaps with the chronologies of Shebitku and Tirhakah. And soon I shall provide definite proof that Piye was in fact also the fascinating Tirhakah (= Shabaka) – a contemporary already of Sennacherib’s Third Campaign – the chronological problems peculiar to whom will be discussed in more detail chiefly in 7. below. There also I shall attempt to reconstruct in outline Tirhakah’s entire rule, now in relation to a much revised neo-Assyrian history.

And little wonder that the history of the 25th dynasty is confused, built as it is upon an apparently faulty archaeology and certainly a faulty neo-Assyrian based chronology. James’ chapter on the ‘Dark Age’ in Nubia[9] shows again – consistent with his evidence as discussed in the previous chapter (and consistent also with the epigraphical and art-historical evidence of Velikovsky and Professor Greenberg) – how the Sothic chronology of Egypt has yielded certain baffling anomalies in the archaeology of associated nations. I give here some relevant parts from James’ chapter:[10]


Having created a Dark Age in Nubia, it is not surprising that historians have treated the appearance of the Egyptianized ‘Kingdom of Kurru’ … [mid C9th BC] as a new beginning, largely unrelated to the end of the Viceregal period. So firmly entrenched has this idea become that Adams was forced to make the bizarre comment that ‘it took some time for the lesson of the pharaohs to sink in’.

…. Indeed, few writers considering the end of the viceregal administration and the rise of the Kingdom of Kurru discuss the Dark Age itself; most restrict themselves to a passing comment on the lack of evidence from this period. Accordingly, the sudden expansion of Kurru power in the second half of the 8th century BC has baffled Nubian archaeologists. As rulers of Egypt the Kushite kings became involved in the politics of the Near East, and their conflict with Assyria for the mastery of Palestine and Phoenicia ensured them a place in the biblical record.


We recall that Gardiner had considered himself to be closer to the realm of true history when discussing the 25th dynasty. James though, whilst noting that such is the general view of scholars today, adds that this was not always so:[11]


Scholars can say that with the 25th Dynasty Egyptian history is once again on firm ground after the problems of interpreting the evidence for the preceding dynasties (21-24) of Libyan rule. But this confidence is relatively new. Earlier Egyptologists, notably Petrie, had profoundly different understandings of what was essentially the same evidence. The classical tradition has it that the Kushite king who conquered Egypt was Shabako, and, indeed, he is acknowledged as the first ruler of the Dynasty in the King List of Manetho …. However, because the massive Invasion Stela of Piye (or Piankhy) … unearthed by Auguste Mariette records his conquest of Egypt and the submission of the Delta dynasts, Piye is now accredited with the foundation of … the 25th Dynasty and it is assumed that Shabako’s invasion was later, and simply consolidated Kushite power.



Here James gives Gardiner’s very quote about Piye that I used on p. 374. He continues:[12]


A number of factors in the inscriptions of Piye, and the building activities in the Sudan which carry his name, created such difficulties that scholars, including Petrie and the brilliant German Egyptologist Richard Lepsius, thought that there were as many as three kings of this name; the earliest the conqueror of Egypt, and the others ruling after the 25th Dynasty withdrawal from Egypt …. Although Egyptology is doubtless correct to accept the existence of only one Piye, the material still presents a number of problems and focuses attention on a further question – the origins of the 25th Dynasty in Nubia.


I want to take just one more section of James’ discussion here, because he now goes on to consider the early Ethiopians in connection with the 20th dynasty. Here James, discussing the el-Kurru cemetery, concludes – right in line with my own thesis, in which the 20th and 25th dynasties partly overlap – that the 20th dynasty was much closer in time to the 25th than convention would have it:[13]


The Kurru cemetery was excavated by George Reisner, the founder of Nubian archaeology, on behalf of Harvard University and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1918 and 1919 …. The latest burials were of those kings well-known from inscriptional evidence as the founders of Kushite power, Kashta and Piye (Piankhy), and as rulers over Egypt, Shabaqo, Shebitqo [Shebitku] and Tanwetamani [or Tantamani] …. The prime position in the site was dominated by a sequence of burials which Reisner attributed to five ancestral ‘generations’ ending with Alara. Allowing twenty years per generation and a base date for Alara of c. 760 BC, Reisner calculated the date of the commencement of the el-Kurru cemetery at about 860 BC. Reisner based his interpretation on the developmental nature of the graves in the cemetery, moving from simple tumuli to pyramids. This sequence is logical, and given the small number of tombs there seems to be no good reason to increase Reisner’s number of generations ….

However, some of the artefacts from the earliest of the ‘ancestral’ burials have recently been identified as 20th Dynasty (i.e. 12th-11th century BC) in date …. This material is, by its nature, unlikely to be ‘heirloom’ or acquired from rifled New Kingdom tombs. Some of the most significant is painted pottery which was clearly manufactured for the funeral ceremony and ritually broken at the time ….

It seems that this first generation must indeed be attributed to the later 20th Dynasty … However, the radiocarbon tests carried out on the material, admittedly insufficient and so far unpublished, would seem to fit Reisner’s calculated 9th-century BC date for the earliest graves …. The re-examination of the material from el-Kurru presents Nubian studies with a serious problem: either Reisner’s chronology (internal and exact) is correct, or the cemetery comprises two or more groups of graves, of different periods, having no relationship to each other.



It is impossible to have a compromise solution which spreads the ancestral burials over the 300 or so years from the late 20th Dynasty to the mid-8th century, because of the limited number of graves …. If Reisner’s interpretation is correct, then the 20th Dynasty finds were deposited in the 9th rather than the 11th century BC. Such a radical compression of the length of time from the end of the 20th Dynasty until the beginning of the 25th, whilst flying in the face of conventional Egyptology, removes the Nubian Dark Age at a single stroke. ….

[End of quotes]


The very close proximity of the Twentieth Egyptian Dynasty to the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, as determined above, must now have some ‘ramifying’ ramifications for Ramses III as Ramses II, as according to my article:


New Revision for Ramses II


[1] Ibid, p. 335.

[2] Wikipedia’s Shebitku.

[3] The Lost Testament, p. 463.

[4] Ibid., footnote **.

[5] Op. cit., ibid.

[6] The Histories, II, pp. 137 & 140.

[7] Gardiner’s figure for example. Op. cit, p. 450.

[8] Ibid, p. 344.

[9] Centuries of Darkness, ch: “The Empty Years of Nubian History”.

[10] Ibid, p. 208.

[11] Ibid, p. 209.

[12] Ibid, pp. 209-210.

[13] Ibid, pp. 212-213.

Cambyses also named Nebuchadnezzar?

Published August 30, 2018 by amaic
Image result for army of cambyses



Damien F. Mackey



“The Chronicle of John of Nikiu who wrote of Cambyses[’] exploits after his name change to Nebuchadnezzar. He wrote of how Cambyses under his new name Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and desolated Egypt. It becomes apparent therefore that John gave credit to Cambyses for what Nebuchadnezzar accomplished”.




Previously I wrote, regarding likenesses I had perceived between Cambyses and my various alter egos for king Nebuchednezzar II (including Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus):

Common factors here may include ‘divine’ madness; confounding the priests by messing with the Babylonian rites; and the conquest of Egypt and Ethiopia.


I was then totally unaware of this name claim about Cambyses by John of Nikiu.

Part Two:

Named Nebuchednezzar, and can be Nebuchednezzar



… my enlargement of the historical Nebuchednezzar II, through alter egos,

to embrace Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus – and now, too, Cambyses – provides

a complete ‘profile’ of the biblical king that ‘covers all bases’, so to speak.




For some time, now, I have suspected that the mad but powerful, Egypt-conquering Cambyses had to be the same as the mad but powerful, Egypt-conquering Nebuchednezzar II.

And now I learn that the C7th AD Egyptian Coptic bishop, John of Nikiû (680-690 AD, conventional dating), had told that Cambyses was also called Nebuchednezzar.

This new piece of information has emboldened me to do – what I have wanted to – and that is to say with confidence that Cambyses was Nebuchednezzar II.

That Nebuchednezzar II also reigned in Susa is evidenced by (if I am right) my identification of him with the “king Artaxerxes” of the Book of Nehemiah, who was a “king of Babylon”.

See my series: “Governor Nehemiah’s master “Artaxerxes king of Babylon”,”, especially Part One:

and Part Two:


Whilst critics can argue that the “king Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel may not necessarily be a good match for the historico-biblical Nebuchednezzar II, but that he seems more likely to have been based on king Nabonidus, my enlargement of the historical Nebuchednezzar II, through alter egos, to embrace Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus – and now, too, Cambyses – provides a complete ‘profile’ of the biblical king that ‘covers all bases’, so to speak.


Part Three:

‘Sacred disease’ (read madness) of King Cambyses


“In view of all this, I have no doubt that Cambyses was completely out of his mind;

it is the only possible explanation of his assault upon, and mockery of,

everything which ancient law and custom have made sacred in Egypt”.




When subjecting neo-Babylonian history to a serious revision, I had reached the conclusion that Nebuchednezzar II needed to be folded with Nabonidus, and that Nebuchednezzar II’s son-successor, Evil-Merodach, needed to be folded with Nabonidus’s son, Belshazzar.

That accorded perfectly with the testimony of the Book of Daniel that “Nebuchednezzar” was succeeded by his son, “Belshazzar”.


One of the various traits shared by Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar” and King Nabonidus was madness.

Useful in a discussion of this subject, I found, was Siegfried H. Horn’s article, “New light on Nebuchadnezzar’s madness”, which helpfully provided some possible evidence for madness in the case of Nebuchednezzar II.

Horn also proved useful in paving the way for my parallel situation of Evil-Merodach son of Nebuchednezzar II, and Belshazzar son of Nabonidus, when writing of Evil-Merodach’s possibly officiating in the place of a temporarily incapacitated king (as Belshazzar is known to have done in the case of Nabonidus).

Thus Horn wrote:


…. Since Daniel records that Nebuchadnezzar was “driven from men” (Dan. 4:33) but later reinstated as king by his officials (verse 36), Evilmerodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s eldest son, may have served as regent during his father’s incapacity. Official records, however, show Nebuchadnezzar as king during his lifetime.




Books, articles and classics have been written about the madness of King Cambyses, he conventionally considered to have been the second (II) king of that name, a Persian (c. 529-522 BC), and the son/successor of Cyrus the Great.

The tradition is thought to have begun with the C5th BC Greek historian, Herodotus, according to whom (The Histories)


[3.29.1] When the priests led Apis in, Cambyses–for he was all but mad–drew his dagger and, meaning to stab the calf in the belly, stuck the thigh; then laughing he said to the priests: [3.29.2] “Simpletons, are these your gods, creatures of flesh and blood that can feel weapons of iron? That is a god worthy of the Egyptians. But for you, you shall suffer for making me your laughing-stock.” So saying he bade those, whose business it was, to scourge the priests well, and to kill any other Egyptian whom they found holiday-making. [3.29.3] So the Egyptian festival ended, and the priests were punished, and Apis lay in the temple and died of the wound in the thigh. When he was dead of the wound, the priests buried him without Cambyses’ knowledge.

[3.30.1] But Cambyses, the Egyptians say, owing to this wrongful act immediately went mad, although even before he had not been sensible. His first evil act was to destroy his full brother Smerdis, whom he had sent away from Egypt to Persia out of jealousy, because Smerdis alone could draw the bow brought from the Ethiopian by the Fish-eaters as far as two fingerbreadths, but no other Persian could draw it.

[3.30.2] Smerdis having gone to Persia, Cambyses saw in a dream a vision, in which it seemed to him that a messenger came from Persia and told him that Smerdis sitting on the royal throne touched heaven with his head.

[3.30.3] Fearing therefore for himself, lest his brother might slay him and so be king, he sent Prexaspes, the most trusted of his Persians, to Persia to kill him. Prexaspes went up to Susa and killed Smerdis; some say that he took Smerdis out hunting, others that he brought him to the Red Sea (the Persian Gulf) and there drowned him. ….


[End of quote]




Herodotus’ Comment on Cambyses’ Madness


[3.38] In view of all this, I have no doubt that Cambyses was completely out of his mind; it is the only possible explanation of his assault upon, and mockery of, everything which ancient law and custom have made sacred in Egypt.

[End of quote]



Scholarly articles have been written in an attempt to diagnose the illness of Cambyses, sometimes referred to – as in the case of Julius Caesar’s epilepsy – as a ‘divine’ or ‘sacred’ disease.

For example (


Arch Neurol. 2001 Oct; 58(10):1702-4.


The sacred disease of Cambyses II.


York GK1, Steinberg DA.



Herodotus’ account of the mad acts of the Persian king Cambyses II contains one of the two extant pre-Hippocratic Greek references to epilepsy. This reference helps to illuminate Greek thinking about epilepsy, and disease more generally, in the time immediately preceding the publication of the Hippocratic treatise on epilepsy, On the Sacred Disease. Herodotus attributed Cambyses’ erratic behavior as ruler of Egypt to either the retribution of an aggrieved god or to the fact that he had the sacred disease. Herodotus considered the possibility that the sacred disease was a somatic illness, agreeing with later Hippocratic authors that epilepsy has a natural rather than a divine cause. ….

[End of quote]


The character of Cambyses as presented in various ancient traditions is thoroughly treated in Herb Storck’s excellent monograph, History and Prophecy: A Study in the Post-Exilic Period (House of Nabu, 1989).


Messing with the rites


As was the case with King Nabonidus (= Nebuchednezzar II), so did Cambyses apparently fail properly to observe established protocol with the Babylonian rites.


Regarding the rebellious behaviour of King Nabonidus with regard to the rites, I wrote previously:


Confounding the Astrologers


Despite his superstitious nature the “Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel – and indeed his alter egos, Nebuchednezzar II/Nabonidus – did not hesitate at times to dictate terms to his wise men or astrologers (2:5-6):


The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.  But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”


And so, in the Verse Account, we read too of Nabonidus’ interference in matters ritualistic in the presence of sycophantic officials:


Yet he continues to mix up the rites, he confuses the hepatoscopic oracles. To the most important ritual observances, he orders an end; as to the sacred representations in Esagila -representations which Eamumma himself had fashioned- he looks at the representations and utters blasphemies.

When he saw the usar-symbol of Esagila, he makes an [insulting?] gesture. He assembled the priestly scholars, he expounded to them as follows: ‘Is not this the sign of ownership indicating for whom the temple was built? If it belongs really to Bêl, it would have been marked with the spade. Therefore the Moon himself has marked already his own temple with the usar-symbol!’

And Zeriya, the šatammu who used to crouch as his secretary in front of him, and Rimut, the bookkeeper who used to have his court position near to him, do confirm the royal dictum, stand by his words, they even bare their heads to pronounce under oath: ‘Now only we understand this situation, after the king has explained about it!’


[End of quote]


Paul-Alain Beaulieu, in his book, The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 B.C. (1989), gives another similar instance pertaining to an eclipse (Col. III 2), likening it also to the action of “Nebuchednezzar” in the Book of Daniel (pp. 128-129):


The scribes brought baskets from Babylon (containing) the tablets of the series enūma Anu Enlil to check (it, but since) he did not hearken to (what it said), he did not understand what it meant.


The passage is difficult, but its general implications are clear. Whether Nabonidus had already made up his mind as to the meaning of the eclipse and therefore refused to check the astrological series, or did check them but disagreed with the scribes on their interpretation, it seems that the consecration of En-nigaldi-Nanna [daughter of Nabonidus] was felt to be uncalled for. This alleged stubbornness of the king is perhaps reflected in the Book of Daniel, in the passage where Nebuchednezzar (i.e. Nabonidus), after having dismissed the plea of the “Chaldeans”, states that the matter is settled for him (Daniel II, 3-5) ….


But this does not imply that Nabonidus was necessarily wrong in his interpretation of the eclipse; on the contrary, all the evidence suggests that he was right. However, he may have “forced” things slightly ….

[End of quote]


According to Encyclopaedia Iranica on Cambyses II:


A badly damaged passage in the chronicle of Nabonidus contains a report that, in order to legitimize his appointment, Cambyses partici­pated in the ritual prescribed for the king at the traditional New Year festival on 27 March 538 B.C., accepting the royal scepter from the hands of Marduk in Esagila, the god’s temple in Babylon (III. 24-28; Gray­son, p. 111). A. L. Oppenheim attempted a reconstruc­tion of the damaged text (Survey of Persian Art XV, p. 3501); according to his version, Cambyses entered the temple in ordinary Elamite attire, fully armed. The priests persuaded him to lay down his arms, but he refused to change his clothes for those prescribed in the ritual. He then received the royal scepter. In Oppenheim’s view Cambyses thus deliberately demon­strated “a deep-seated religious conviction” hostile to this alien religion (Camb. Hist. Iran II, p. 557).

[End of quote]


Part Five: Cambyses – in your dreams



“Cambyses has a “Nebuchednezzar” like dream-vision

of a king whose head touched heaven”.



Our neo-Babylonian king, Nabonidus, was, true to form (as an alter ego for Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”), a frequent recipient of dreams and visions.

For example, I wrote previously:


Nabonidus was, like “Nebuchednezzar”, an excessively pious man, and highly superstitious. The secret knowledge of which he boasted was what he had acquired through his dreams. Another characteristic that Nabonidus shared with “Nebuchednezzar”. Nabonidus announced (loc. cit.): “The god Ilteri has made me see (dreams), he has made everything kno[wn to me]. I surpass in all (kinds of) wisdom (even the series) uskar-Anum-Enlilla, which Adap[a] composed”. ….

[End of quote]


In Beaulieu’s book … we read further of King Nabonidus:


“I did not stop going to the diviner and the dream interpreter”.


And of King Nebuchednezzar II – with whom I am equating Nabonidus – the prophet Ezekiel writes similarly of that king’s omen seeking (21:21): “The king of Babylon now stands at the fork, uncertain whether to attack Jerusalem or Rabbah. He calls his magicians to look for omens. They cast lots by shaking arrows from the quiver. They inspect the livers of animal sacrifices”.

[End of quote]


Ashurbanipal, likewise – he being yet another alter ego – gave immense credence to dreams and used a dream book. Ashurbanipal was, like Nabonidus, more superstitious, if I may say it, than Nostradamus being pursued by a large black cat under a ladder – on the thirteenth.

Karen Radner tells of Ashurbanipal’s reliance upon dreams, in Of God(s), Trees, Kings, and scholars (p. 224):


In the Biblical attestations, especially in the stories of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Joseph in Egypt, the arummîm17 [wizards] figure prominently as experts in the interpretation of dreams, and it may be this kind of expertise which the aribē offered to the Assyrian king; dream oracles were certainly popular with Assurbanipal who used dreams … to legitimise his actions in his royal inscriptions … and whose library contained the dream omen series Zaqīqu (also Ziqīqu). ….

[End of quote]


Now, what of Cambyses in this regard?

Well, according to Herodotus (


[3.30.1] But Cambyses, the Egyptians say, owing to this wrongful act immediately went mad, although even before he had not been sensible. His first evil act was to destroy his full brother Smerdis, whom he had sent away from Egypt to Persia out of jealousy, because Smerdis alone could draw the bow brought from the Ethiopian by the Fish-eaters as far as two fingerbreadths, but no other Persian could draw it. [3.30.2] Smerdis having gone to Persia, Cambyses saw in a dream a vision, in which it seemed to him that a messenger came from Persia and told him that Smerdis sitting on the royal throne touched heaven with his head. [3.30.3] Fearing therefore for himself, lest his brother might slay him and so be king, he sent Prexaspes, the most trusted of his Persians, to Persia to kill him. Prexaspes went up to Susa and killed Smerdis; some say that he took Smerdis out hunting, others that he brought him to the Red Sea (the Persian Gulf) and there drowned him.

[End of quote]

This is actually, as we shall now find, quite Danielic.

Cambyses has a “Nebuchednezzar” like dream-vision of a king whose head touched heaven. Likewise, “Nebuchednezzar” had a dream of a “tree … which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky” (Daniel 4:20).

Now, given that this “tree” symbolised “Nebuchednezzar” himself, who was also according to an earlier dream a “head of gold (Daniel 2:38), then one might say that, as in the case of Cambyses dream-vision of a king whose head touched heaven, so did “Nebuchednezzar” touch the sky (heaven) with his head (of gold).