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

King Saul and Agamemnon

Published October 19, 2017 by amaic
Image result for achilles playing lyre


 Damien F. Mackey



Both Achilles and David are depicted in connection with performances of epic poetry; both shown playing the lyre. Both do so as part of their larger frictions with Agamemnon and Saul”.

Bruce Louden




One will find in Bruce Louden’s terrific article, “Agamemnon and the Hebrew Bible”, a collection of compelling parallels between the Old Testament and The Iliad. Louden’s view of things is different from mine insofar as he would regard the pagan Greek texts as being the model, or inspiration, for the biblical writings or the “Near Eastern narratives”.

I would see it as the other way around.

But, as Louden admits in his introduction, this had not previously been his view on influences:


“I have always been a comparatist. I believe that placing a narrative in context with other relevant texts is one of the more certain ways to obtain understanding and meaning. As it became increasingly obvious in the twentieth century, as unexpected discoveries greatly expanded our vistas, it dawned on some that Near Eastern narratives provide invaluable contexts for the study of Homeric epic. However, including the Hebrew Bible among the comparanda has greatly lagged behind, until fairly recently. When I began studying correspondences between Homeric epic and the Bible fifteen years ago, I assumed the parallels were best understood as depending on earlier Near Eastern narratives, with which both Greek and Israelite culture had come in contact. But now I have changed my view. When one takes into account how widespread the respective languages were, Greek and Hebrew, which language has earlier documentation, which people enter the historical record first, which culture was a significant maritime power for over a millennium, and which established an empire including the other, if some form of diffusion, direct or indirect, accounts for the correspondences, the odds are far greater that the direction is from Greek to Israelite culture. I count myself, then, among those who regard the Hebrew Bible, in part, as a response to Greek culture”.


Louden also makes what I would consider to be the rather strange statement that the Hebrew Bible, unlike the literature of the polytheistic ancient nations, lacks epic.

My favourite epic is the Book of Judith (it’s in my Bible, at least), which is, unlike the pagan epics, a true story. See e.g. my:


Ignis de Caelo, Velikovsky and Sennacherib’s 185,000


Moreover, Hollywood of the 1960’s had no trouble in finding biblical epics.

Anyway, Louden writes:


“Why does the Hebrew Bible lack epic? Epic is inherently polytheistic; and the Hebrew Bible is largely a prose work, which suggests a closer affinity with archives, as Van der Toorn notes. …. Though lacking epic, it nonetheless contains allusions to it, and re-workings [sic] of it. We may have allusions to lost epics in the mentions of Shamgar (Judges) and Nimrod (Genesis), as well as references to the Book of Yashar. On the other hand, commentators have argued that the Hebrew Bible consciously applies epic models of organization and characterization. Mark Smith, in his study of correspondences between David and Jonathan, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, and Achilles and Patroclus, suggests so, “I would sympathize with Cross’s conviction that biblical books such as Samuel were ‘interpreting the later history of Israel in Epic patterns.’” …. But which “epic patterns”? Cross no doubt has in mind Ugaritic or Canaanite epic, and, we can assume, additional Babylonian or Assyrian narratives. I am making the case for including ancient Greek epic as well”.


The famous Ugaritic (Ras Shamra), or Canaanite, corpus of documents has been grossly mis-dated as was clearly demonstrated by Dr. I. Velikovsky (and others since). As with the literature, so with the architecture, the pagan culture is always given the precedence.

But, as is asked in the following Velikovskian article: “How did these tombs of Ugarit serve as models for Cypriots, Israelites, Urartians, Anatolian peoples, and Phoenician colonists, if contemporaneity is denied, and they went out of use and were thus forgotten 500-600 years earlier?”


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

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

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

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

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

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


Bruce Louden has detected some significant parallels between King Saul and King Agamemnon (op. cit., p. 16-18):



“Agamemnon and Saul


We turn, then to Saul. Like Agamemnon in so many ways, Saul is also a foil. The most powerful man in Israel, he spends much of his time nervously observing David’s increasing popularity and rise, as Agamemnon does Achilles. Samuel is not only his almost constant antagonist, but, behind the scenes, exercises greater influence and authority. We thus have a set of three analogous characters, Saul and Agamemnon, David and Achilles, and Samuel and Calchas. The entire saga plays out against confrontation with the Philistines (1 Sam 14:52), indirect affirmation of its links with Homeric epic, if we accept that the scribal tradition is aware of the identity of Philistine and Greek culture (though modern audiences are not).

Both Saul and Agamemnon are qualified warriors, capable of epic achievements on the battlefield. Agamemnon has his aristeia [greatest moment] in Iliad 11; 1 Samuel 11:6 presents us with an equivalent scenario for Saul, “the Spirit of God suddenly seized him.” However, while the motif normally initiates epic acts, as with Jephthah and Samson, here Saul proceeds to cut two oxen in pieces (perhaps borrowed from Judges 19, the last pre-king narrative), which recapitulates Agamemnon summoning the Greeks to reclaim Helen (recounted in Apollodorus E.3.6). After defeating the Amalekites, Saul erects a memorial to himself (1 Sam 15:12), like an Iliadic hero, and his overriding concern with kleos, fame.

In his interactions with Samuel, and subsequent loss of Yahweh’s favor, Saul moves into even closer correspondence with Agamemnon. After anointing Saul as king, Samuel places the destruction of the Amalekites under the ban. When Saul fails to carry this out completely, his relation with Samuel immediately disintegrates. Saul violates the ban not only by sparing King Agag, but by keeping some of the Amalekites’ choicest possessions for himself. In so doing he instantiates one of the Iliad’s central concerns, one of Agamemnon’s central characteristics, and the main cause for Agamemnon’s quarrel with Achilles: he distributes war winnings in a selfish, arbitrary manner. When Saul proceeds to set up a monument to himself, he furthers our impression of excessive self-involvement. The biggest difference with the Iliad in these relations is Samuel’s more dominant role than Agamemnon’s prophets.

A whole book, I suggest, could be written on David and Achilles. …. When, for instance, he defeats the Philistine Goliath, the Philistine’s preliminary arming scene has long been recognized as conforming in almost every respect to the Iliad’s arming scenes … and should be understood as referencing all three of its heroic duels, two of which, like that between David and Goliath, are to determine the entire battle between the opposing armies. The Iliad’s first duel between Paris and Menelaus employs a parodic arming scene. In 1 Samuel 17, the about-to-be-defeated Goliath’s arming scene is also parodic: for all his armor and weaponry he is easily slain. Of the three duels, that between Hector and Aias in Iliad 7 is far the closest to the preliminaries in 1 Samuel 17. The climax of the poem, however, is Achilles’ duel with Hector, which implicitly seals the Fall of Troy.

Additional tensions between Achilles and Agamemnon suggest they serve as a rubric for Saul and David’s interactions. After Achilles’ quarrel with Agamemnon erupts at the beginning of Book 1, Zeus supports him, not Agamemnon, for the remainder of the epic. In 1 Samuel, the audience knows David has already been anointed as king, and has Yahweh’s favor, near the beginning of his saga. After the quarrel, for the next three fourths of the epic, Achilles does not fight for the Greek army, and in so doing, indirectly renders significant aid to the Trojan cause. David, after Saul threatens him repeatedly, goes over to the Philistines, twice entering into relationships with King Achish, the Achaian (1 Sam 21:10–15). During the second occasion (1 Sam 27:1–6), having earned the Philistine king’s trust, David is ordered by Achish to take the field against the Israelites (1 Sam 28). Robert Alter sees the unusual circumstance, an Israelite king working with the enemy, as supporting the episode’s historicity—why else include such an ambivalent sequence? …. This may be, yet I suggest it can be understood as Israelite scribes fashioning David’s character to

… conform to a motif prominent in Achilles’ interactions with Agamemnon, the harm he causes his fellow Greeks, which Zeus supports, and which is even more prominent in the Iliad.

Both Achilles and David are depicted in connection with performances of epic poetry; both shown playing the lyre. Both do so as part of their larger frictions with Agamemnon and Saul. Midway through Agamemnon’s quarrel with Achilles, he sends an embassy to him, attempting reconciliation. When they reach Achilles’ tent, the embassy finds him (Iliad 9.186–189) playing the lyre, singing epic songs, an instance of Homeric epic’s well-known self-referentiality, or meta-poetics: the subject of his own epic is singing about other epic heroes. David is also referenced as the subject of something like epics in the recurring refrain, “Saul struck down thousands, but David tens of thousands” (1 Sam 18:6–8; 29:5). As Achilles plays to Agamemnon’s embassy, while the deluded leader attempts reconciliation with him, so David in his lyre-playing performs before a troubled, anxious Saul. This motif is much more at home in Homeric epic: both Homeric protagonists, Achilles and Odysseus, are so depicted.

While Agamemnon and Saul share several other corresponding motifs, we conclude with how they are both depicted as visited by an Evil Spirit. In Agamemnon’s case the Evil Spirit is more metaphorical. When he makes his public apology to Achilles for having begun their quarrel, he says it happened because Zeus sent the goddess, Ate, to delude him (below we also discuss the deceptive Dream Zeus sends him). When Saul loses his support, Yahweh repeatedly sends an evil spirit (16:23; 18:10). 1 Samuel combines this motif with the motif of David playing lyre (1 Sam 16:23), “And whenever an evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his lyre and play it, so that relief would come to Saul.” Again, a tricky immortal figure seems more at home in the fully polytheistic Iliad than in the monotheistic Bible”.


King Ahab and Agamemnon

Published October 19, 2017 by amaic
Image result for death of hector


 Damien F. Mackey


“Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’

‘By what means?’ the Lord asked.

‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.

‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’

So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours.

The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

I Kings 22:21-23


As has often been noted, this unusual incident of the ‘lying spirit’ finds its Greek correspondence – though I would prefer appropriation (a constant theme in this series) – in Homer’s The Iliad. An excellent account of this is provided by Bruce Louden, “Agamemnon and the Hebrew Bible”, though the author will adopt the standard view that the Bible was indebted to the pagan (Greek) version:



“Agamemnon and Ahab


Perhaps even more intriguing are correspondences between Agamemnon and Ahab. The latter, though a figure more supported by the historical record than David, not involved with the Philistines, not attended by an Achilles figure, nonetheless, his interactions with prophets, his deportment on the battlefield, and his highly aggressive wife, all find virtually exact parallels in Agamemnon. Ahab’s interactions with the prophets Elijah and Micaiah are even closer to Agamemnon’s than are Saul’s with Samuel, including verbal equivalents. I thus argue that the scribal tradition had, in Agamemnon, an established character type they knew to be a vehicle suited to how they wished to depict Ahab.

In Ahab’s disputes with his prophets Elijah and Micaiah, we revisit an earlier theme, but here the parallels are even closer with Agamemnon.

Ahab’s animosity toward Elijah is more pronounced, has undergone a longer period of gestation than Saul’s for Samuel, and resembles Agamemnon’s toward Calchas in Iliad 1. Ahab’s first words to Elijah are contemptuous (18:17), “As soon as Ahab saw Elijah, he said to him, ‘Is it you, you troubler of Israel?’” We cannot imagine Saul addressing Samuel this way, but this is precisely Agamemnon’s tone to his prophet Calchas, and to Chryses.

The most exact, most sustained, correspondences occur in 1 Kings 22, when Micaiah recounts his vision of the Enticing Spirit that will fool Ahab into thinking he can now capture Ramoth-gilead. Let us first set the stage by reviewing Agamemnon’s parallel circumstances in book 2 of the Iliad. The night after Agamemnon’s quarrel with Achilles begins, after a divine council, Zeus, who now supports Achilles over Agamemnon, sends a Deceptive Dream (2:6: οὖλος ὄνειρος) to Agamemnon. Zeus’ purpose in sending the Dream, is to fool Agamemnon into thinking he can sack Troy the next day. The Dream fulfills Zeus’ purpose, leaving Agamemnon,

“believing in his heart things that are not going to be accomplished” (2.36).

Extensive deliberations and discussion follow over how to proceed on the basis of the Dream. Agamemnon orders the Greeks into assembly, but first convenes his executive council. Nestor, asserting no one would believe the dream if dreamt by anyone else, says it must be true since Agamemnon himself dreamt it (2.79–83). In his heated exchange with his prophet Calchas on the previous day, when Calchas had declared Agamemnon’s abusive treatment of Apollo’s priest had brought the god’s wrath upon them, Agamemnon replied (1.106–107),


Seer of evil: never yet have you told me a good thing. Always the evil things are dear to your heart to prophesy (μάντι κακῶν … αἰεί τοι τὰ κάκ’ ἐστὶ φίλα φρεσὶ μαντεύεσθαι).


Agamemnon fails to take Troy on that day, and suffers a major embarrassment before his troops, most of whom now contemplate going home to Greece.

We return to Ahab’s confrontation with Micaiah, with Agamemnon’s Dream in mind, as Ahab and his forces, and King Jehoshaphat, contemplate attacking the city Ramoth-gilead. Agreeing to join battle, Jehoshaphat suggests Ahab first consult with Yahweh. All of Ahab’s prophets prophesy that God will give him victory. When Jehoshaphat asks if there is another prophet to verify their prophecy, Ahab responds in words that closely agree with Agamemnon’s rebuke of Calchas (22:8), “‘There is one more … but I hate the man, because he never prophesies good for me, never anything but evil. His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.’” Later in the confrontation Ahab repeats (22:18), “‘Did I not tell you that he never prophesies good for me, never anything but evil?’” Micaiah then recounts a vision (22:19–22):


I saw the Lord seated on his throne with all the host of heaven in attendance on his right and on his left. The Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and attack Ramoth-gilead?’ One said one thing and one said another, until a spirit came forward and, standing before the Lord, said, ‘I shall entice him.’ ‘How?’ said the Lord. ‘I shall go out’, he answered, ‘and be a lying spirit75 in the mouths of all his prophets.’ You see, then, how the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours, because he has decreed disaster for you.


Let us review the correspondences:


  1. Each king contemplates trying to take a city. Each king leads a coalition of forces against another coalition.
  2. Detailed deliberations and discussion precede his going into battle. Jehoshaphat serves a similar function as Agamemnon’s Nestor.
  3. Each king receives a report of divine will ensuring a positive outcome of the battle.
  4. Each main god converses with a lesser divine being. Zeus instructs the Dream, but the Spirit volunteers for Yahweh, in corresponding terms: to fool the respective kings into thinking they will sack their respective cities that day.
  5. The audience, however, knows the reports to be spurious. In the Iliad, typical of epic conventions, the audience is itself present at Zeus’ deliberations, observing without any doubt that Agamemnon is being deceived. 1 Kings 22 maintains the Hebrew Bible’s usual conception of having the prophet as somehow present at the divine council (cf. Isaiah 6), a monotheistic variation on the more traditional polytheistic divine council. Micaiah relays the corresponding information that Homeric epic gives through the principal narrator.
  6. Each king proceeds, and fails, on the basis of the false report of divine support.


In a key difference, Ahab’s Enticing Spirit account repeats the motif from Elijah’s earlier confrontation with Ahab of the one true prophet defeating the many false ones. Thus, as Cogan notes, “the issues of conflicting prophetic viewpoints and the royal response to the word of YHWH dominate,” … whereas for Agamemnon conflicting prophetic viewpoints is a non-issue. That the 1 Kings version derives from another [sic] is suggested by its being a secondary narrative, told in a tongue-in-cheek manner, and in how it retains polytheistic touches. Several of the motifs are more at home in the Iliad than in 1 Kings. Zeus or Athena sending a Dream is common in Homeric epic, for instance, whereas Yahweh’s use of the Deceiving Spirit is less so. So also, as Cogan points out, is, “The consultation with prophets rather than priests in preparation for the attack on Ramoth-gilead comes as a surprise.” … The triumph of the one true prophet over the many false subsumes the narrative under a Yahwist agenda, not relevant to the

Iliad. Cogan, on the basis of similarities between Micaiah’s fortunes and the later Jeremiah, argues the episode “was written toward the end of the period of classical prophecy.” … So far after the Iliad [sic], easily allows for some form of diffusion or adaptation. Ahab’s encounter with Micaiah suggests a careful synthesis of Agamemnon’s missteps at the opening of the Iliad.

Agamemnon and Ahab both, in prominent scenes, are wounded, while fighting from their chariots, and driven from battle. Agamemnon’s death, murdered by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aigisthos on his return from Troy, is alluded to several times in the Odyssey. We recall that his aristeia ends abruptly when, wounded by a spear in Iliad 11.251–255, 265–281, he retreats from battle in his chariot. Likened in simile to a woman suffering birth pangs, the unusual comparison may look ahead to his being slain in the bath, in a sense, “unmanned,” by his wife.

Though lacking anything comparable to an aristeia, Ahab’s exit from battle is suggestive of Agamemnon’s, and may also allude to two other prominent deaths in the Iliad. As he and Jehoshaphat march on Ramoth-gilead, Ahab is in disguise. In the Iliad, Patroclus, whose aristeia follows Agamemnon’s, goes into battle in disguise, and is slain, the only Greek to die during his aristeia. Ahab dies in disguise, and receives his mortal wound from an arrow shot at random (1 Kgs 22:34), both compounding his un-heroic circumstances, “One man … drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel where the breastplate joins the plates of the armour.”

The detail may reference the most climactic wound in all of the Iliad, when Achilles slays Hector by aiming his spear at the space between his armor and helmet (22.324–327). Ahab remains in battle for a while, propped up in his chariot, blood flowing from his wound, until he dies”.


King Ahab and Lab’ayu

Published October 17, 2017 by amaic
Jezebel wasn't happy when cowardly King Ahab told her what Elijah did to the 450 prophets of Baal.



 Damien F. Mackey


King Ahab, the husband of the notorious Queen Jezebel, was, in my opinion,

the troublesome Lab’ayu of El Amarna.



Revisionist choices for Lab’ayu


While revisionists tend to consider El Amarna’s Lab’ayu as a king of Israel, they differ as to which king he may have been.


David Rohl thought that Lab’ayu might have been King Saul, before the monarchy became divided. A blogger has commented on this:


The main argument in Rohl’s book is that Labayu, a Hapiru/’Apiru (no, the name is not related to the name Hebrew) chieftain who ruled Shachmu (the Biblical city of Shechem) mentioned in several Amarna Letters (and himself writing three of them) is the same person as the Biblical King Saul, and that the whole Amarna period is the same as the Early Monarchic Period of Israel. Anyone familiar with the chronologies will notice a slight problem there: the Amarna period is dated to c. 1391-1323 BCE, and the Israelite Early Monarchic Period to c. 1000-926 BCE (all dates are Middle Chronology where applicable). 


Emmet Sweeney thought that Lab’ayu might have been King Baasha of Israel, who reigned before Omri had made Samaria the capital of Israel (Empire of Thebes, Or, Ages in Chaos Revisited, p. 83):


“… in the Book of Kings we read: “And Jeroboam [I] built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt there …” (I Kings 12:25). This, from the point of view of the present reconstruction, is a crucial clue. Shechem remained Israel’s capital – more or less – for only two generations, until after the death of Baasha, when Omri built Samaria (I Kings 16:245-25) …”.


As for Velikovsky, he had almost nothing to say about Laba’yu, for, according to Sweeney again (op. cit., p. 82):


‘It is strange, and significant, that Velikovsky makes no mention of Labayu, save for a passing reference in a footnote. Yet any reading of the Amarna documents makes it very clear that this man, whose operations centre seems to have been Shechem – right in the middle of historical Samaria – was a figure of central importance at the time; and that he must figure prominently in any attempt to reconstruct the history of the period”.


Both King Saul (most certainly) and even Baasha, are too early, however, to be candidates for Lab’ayu in relation to my location of the El Amarna era of Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty – according to my re-assessment, Baasha (and a fortiori, Saul) had died significantly earlier, during the reign of pharaoh Amenhotep II.


The reign of King Ahab, on the other hand – who has been my own preference for the king of Israel most suitable for being Lab’ayu – had lasted into about the first decade of Amenhotep III of the El Amarna era. “The earlier Amarna letters, dating from the reign of Amenhotep III, are full of the activities of a king named Labayu” (Sweeney, ibid.).   


Lab’ayu and Abdi-hiba


The King of Jerusalem (Urusalim) who features in the EA letters at this approximate time is Abdi-hiba, whom I would firmly identify with (following Peter James) King Jehoram of Judah.

Now, previously I have written as a general observation about some of the EA letters for this approximate time:


“One is surprised to find upon perusing these letters of Abdi-hiba, that – despite Rollston’s presumption that Abdi-hiba’s “the king, my lord” was an “Egyptian monarch” – no Egyptian ruler appears to be specifically named in this set of letters. Moreover, “Egypt” itself may be referred to only once in this series (EA 285): “ … Addaya has taken the garrison that you sent in the charge of Haya, the son of Miyare; he has stationed it in his own house in Hazzatu and has sent 20 men to Egypt-(Miṣri)”.

When we include the lack of any reference to Egypt in the three letters of Lab’ayu (252-254) … and likewise in the two letters of the woman, Baalat Neše – ten letters in all – then we might be prompted to reconsider whether the extent of Egyptian involvement was as much as is generally claimed”.


Now, King Jehoram came to the throne only after the death of King Ahab of Israel. That remains the case even in the chronology of P. Mauro (The Wonders of Bible Chronology), according to which Jehoram was already reigning alongside his father, Jehoshaphat. Thus:


…. 0826..Ahab killed in battle with Syrians

…………….Ahaziah [I]

…………….Jehoram [J] reigns for Jehoshaphat


…. 0825..Jehoram [I]


…. 0821..Jehoram [J] reigns with Jehoshaphat


…. 0817..Jehoram [J] sole king


So, if Sweeney were correct in these other statements of his, that (op. cit., ibid.): “… Labayu … waged continual warfare against his neighbors – especially against Abdi-Hiba, the king of Jerusalem …”, and again (p. 84): “Labayu’s long suffering opponent, the king of Jerusalem, is commonly named Abdi-Hiba”, then I would have to question, on chronological grounds, my biblical identifications of Laba’yu and Abdi-hiba.

However, when we check the five letters of Abdi-hiba (EA 285-290), we find that it is not Lab’ayu now, but rather “the sons of Lab’ayu” (EA 287 and 289), who are giving trouble to the king of Jerusalem.

Lab’ayu (Labaya) himself is mentioned only once by Abdi-hiba, but this appears to be a reflection back to an event in the past, “he was giving” (EA 289): “Are we to act like Labaya when he was giving the land of Šakmu to the Hapiru?”


Moreover, Shuwardata of Keilah will liken Abdi-hiba to the now deceased Lab’ayu (EA 280): “… Labaya, who used to take our towns, is dead, but now another Labaya is Abdi-Heba, and he seizes our town”.


So it seems that the coast may be bright and clear for identifying Lab’ayu, who died just prior to the reign of Abdi-hiba (= King Jehoram of Judah), as follows:


Lab’ayu as King Ahab of Israel


Continuing on in my thesis assessment, I proceeded to give my view of who king Ahab of Israel was in the EA series.

As far as I was concerned, Ahab was clearly the same as EA’s powerful and rebellious Lab’ayu of the Shechem region. He was a far better EA candidate for Ahab than was Rib-Addi (Velikovky’s choice for Ahab), in my opinion, and indeed a more obvious one – and I am quite surprised that no one has yet taken it up.

Lab’ayu is known to have been a king of the Shechem region, which is very close to Samaria (only 9 km SE distant).

Cook has made this most important observation given the criticisms of Dr. Velikovsky by conventional scholars who insist that the political situation in Palestine in the EA era was nothing at all like that during the Divided Monarchy period: “… that the geopolitical situation at this time in the “(north) [was akin to that of the] Israelites of a later [sic] time”.”

Lab’ayu is never actually identified in the EA letters as king of either Samaria or of Shechem. Nevertheless, Aharoni has designated Lab’ayu as “King of Shechem” in his description of the geopolitical situation in Palestine during the EA period (Aharoni, of course, is a conventional scholar writing of a period he thinks must have been well pre-monarchical):


In the hill country there were only a few political centres, and each of these ruled over a fairly extensive area. In all the hill country of Judah and Ephraim we hear only of Jerusalem and Shechem with possible allusions to Beth-Horon and Manahath, towns within the realm of Jerusalem’s king.

… Apparently the kings of Jerusalem and Shechem dominated, to all practical purposes, the entire central hill country at that time. The territory controlled by Labayu, King of Shechem, was especially large in contrast to the small Canaanite principalities round about. Only one letter refers to Shechem itself, and we get the impression that this is not simply a royal Canaanite city but rather an extensive kingdom with Shechem as its capital. ….



Ahab’s “two sons” in El Amarna



It is gratifying for me to find that King Ahab had,

in his El Amarna [EA] manifestation, as Lab’ayu, two prominent sons.




Two regal sons


Overall, Ahab had many sons. “Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria” (2 Kings 10:1).

But these others came to grief all at once, all slain during the bloody rampage of Jehu (vv. 1-10).

“So Jehu killed all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men and his close acquaintances and his priests, until he left him none remaining” (v. 11).

Prior to this, Ahab had been succeeded on the throne by his two prominent sons. We read about them, for instance, at:


“Yet their influence lived on in their children. And this is often the saddest side effect of lives like Ahab’s and Jezebel’s. Two sons of Ahab and Jezebel later ruled in Israel. The first was Ahaziah. Of him God says, “And he did evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. So he served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger according to all that his father had done” (1 Kgs. 22:52, 53). The second son to reign was Jehoram. As Jehu rode to execute vengeance on the house of Ahab, Jehoram cried, “Is it peace, Jehu?” Jehu summed up Jehoram’s reign with his reply: “What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?” (2 Kgs. 9:22)”.


The short-reigning Ahaziah was, in turn, succeeded by Jehoram.


Lab’ayu (my Ahab in EA), likewise, had two prominent sons, as is apparent from the multiple references by the correspondent Addu-qarrad to “the two sons of Lab’aya [Lab’ayu]” in EA Letter 250:


“EA 250: Addu-qarrad (of Gitti-padalla) ….


To the king my lord, say: message from Addu-qarrad your servant. At the feet of the king my lord, seven and seven times I throw myself. Let the king my lord know that the two sons of the traitor of the king my lord, the two sons of Lab’aya, have directed their intentions to sending the land of the king into ruin, in addition to that which their father had sent into ruin. Let the king my lord know that the two sons of Lab’aya continually seek me: “Why did you give into the hand of the king your lord Gitti-padalla, a city that Lab’aya our father had taken?” Thus the two sons of Lab’aya said to me: “Make war against the men of Qina, because they killed our father! And if you don’t make [war] we will be your enemies!” But I responded to those two: “The god of the king my lord will save me from making war with the men of Qina, servants of the king my lord!” If it seems opportune to the king my lord to send one of his Grandees to Biryawaza, who tells him: “Go against the two sons of Lab’aya, (otherwise) you are a traitor to the king!” And beyond that the king my lord writes to me: “D[o] the work of the king your lord against the two sons of Lab’aya!” [..]. Milki-Ilu concerning those two, has become [..] amongst those two. So the life of Milki-Ilu is lit up at the introduction of the two sons of Lab’aya into the city of Pi(hi)li to send the rest of the land of the king my lord into ruin, by means of those two, in addition to that which was sent into ruin by Milki-Ilu and Lab’aya! Thus say the two sons of Lab’aya: “Make war against the king your lord, as our father, when he was against Shunamu and against Burquna and against Harabu, deport the bad and exalt the faithful! He took Gitti-rimunima and opened the camps of the king your lord!” But I responded to those two: “The god of the king my lord is my salvation from making war against the king my lord! I serve the king my lord and my brothers who obey me!” But the messenger of Milki-Ilu doesn’t distance himself from the two sons of Lab’aya. Who today looks to send the land of the king my lord into ruin is Milki-Ilu, while I have no other intention than to serve the king my lord. The words that the king my lord says I hear!”


EA correspondences pertaining to Lab’ayu, such as this one, are generally presumed by historians to have been addressed to pharaoh Akhnaton (= Amenhotep IV, EA’s Naphuria).

No pharaoh, however, is actually referred to in these letters, as I observed before.




Tentatively, I had suggested, in my postgraduate thesis:


A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background




that the one son of Lab’ayu actually named in the EA correspondence, Mut-Baal, may have been Ahab’s older son, Ahaziah (Volume One, pp. 87-88):


“Like Lab’ayu, the biblical Ahab could indeed be an outspoken person, bold in speech to both fellow kings and prophets (cf. 1 Kings 18:17; 20:11). But Lab’ayu, like all the other duplicitous Syro-Palestinian kings, instinctively knew when, and how, to grovel …. Thus, when having to protest his loyalty and readiness to pay tribute to the crown, Lab’ayu really excelled himself: … “Further: In case the king should write for my wife, would I refuse her? In case the king should write to me: “Run a dagger of bronze into thy heart and die”, would I not, indeed, execute the command of the king?”

Lab’ayu moreover may have – like Ahab – used Hebrew speech. The language of the EA letters is Akkadian, but one letter by Lab’ayu, EA 252, proved to be very difficult to translate. ….

Albright … in 1943, published a more satisfactory translation than had hitherto been possible by discerning that its author had used a good many so-called ‘Canaanite’ words plus two Hebrew proverbs! EA 252 has a stylised introduction in the typical EA formula and in the first 15 lines utilises only two ‘Canaanite’ words. Thereafter, in the main body of the text, Albright noted (and later scholars have concurred) that Lab’ayu used only about 20% pure Akkadian, “with 40% mixed or ambiguous, and no less than 40% pure Canaanite”. Albright further identified the word nam-lu in line 16 as the Hebrew word for ‘ant’ (nemalah), נְמָלָה, the Akkadian word being zirbabu. Lab’ayu had written: “If ants are smitten, they do not accept (the smiting) quietly, but they bite the hand of the man who smites them”. Albright recognised here a parallel with the two biblical Proverbs mentioning ants (6:6 and 30:25).

Ahab likewise was inclined to use a proverbial saying as an aggressive counterpoint to a potentate. When the belligerent Ben-Hadad I sent him messengers threatening: ‘May the gods do this to me and more if there are enough handfuls of rubble in Samaria for all the people in my following [i.e. my massive army]’ (1 Kings 20:10), Ahab answered: ‘The proverb says: The man who puts on his armour is not the one who can boast, but the man who takes it off’ (v.11).

“It is a pity”, wrote Rohl and Newgrosh … “that Albright was unable to take his reasoning process just one step further because, in almost every instance where he detected the use of what he called ‘Canaanite’ one could legitimately substitute the term ‘Hebrew’.”

Lab’ayu’s son too, Mut-Baal – my tentative choice for Ahaziah of Israel (c. 853 BC) …. also displayed in one of his letters (EA 256) some so-called ‘Canaanite’ and mixed origin words. Albright noted of line 13: … “As already recognized by the interpreters, this idiom is pure Hebrew”. Albright even went very close to admitting that the local speech was Hebrew: ….


… phonetically, morphologically, and syntactically the people then living in the district … spoke a dialect of Hebrew (Canaanite) which was very closely akin to that of Ugarit. The differences which some scholars have listed between Biblical Hebrew and Ugaritic are, in fact, nearly all chronological distinctions.


But even these ‘chronological distinctions’ cease to be a real issue in the Velikovskian context, according to which both the EA letters and the Ugaritic tablets are re-located to the time of the Divided Monarchy.


And on pp. 90-92 of my thesis, I wrote regarding:


Lab’ayu’s Sons


There are several letters that refer to the “sons of Lab’ayu”, but also a small number that, after Lab’ayu’s death, refer specifically to “the two sons of Lab’ayu” (e.g. EA 250). It follows from my reconstruction that these “two sons of Lab’ayu” were Ahab’s two princely sons, Ahaziah and Jehoram; the former actually dying in the same year as his father.

Only one of the sons though, Mut-Baal of Pi-hi-li (= Pella, on the east bank of the Jordan), is specifically named. He, my tentative choice for Ahab’s son, Ahaziah … was the author of EA 255 & 256.

Campbell,232 rightly sensing that “Mut-Ba‘lu’s role as prince of Pella could conceivably coincide with Lab‘ayu’s role as prince of Shechem …”, was more inclined however to the view that “Mut-Ba‘lu would not be in a prominent enough position to write his own diplomatic correspondence until after his father’s death”.

But when one realises that Lab’ayu was not a petty ruler, but a powerful king of Israel – namely, Ahab, an Omride – then one can also accept that his son, Mut-Baal/Ahaziah could have been powerful enough in his own right (as either co-rex or pro-rex) to have been writing his own diplomatic letters.

That Ahaziah of Israel might also have been called Mut-Baal is interesting. Biblical scholars have sometimes pointed out, regarding the names of Ahab’s sons, that whilst Jezebel was known to have been a fierce persecutor of the Yahwists, Ahab must have been more loyal, having bestowed upon his sons the non-pagan names of ‘Ahaziah’ and ‘Jehoram’. Along similar lines, Liel has written in her ADP context:


One reason for the use of the generic Addu in place of the actual DN, especially in correspondence between nations worshipping different deities, might have been to avoid the profanation of the divine name by those who did not have the same reverence for it. This would be the case especially for the Israelites. Even Israelites such as Ahab, who introduced Baal worship, did not do so, in their estimation, at the expense of YHVH, Whom they continued to revere. Ahab gave his children (at least those mentioned in the Bible) names containing YHVH: Jehoram, Ahaziah, Jehoash and Athaliah. He also showed great respect and deference to the prophet Elijah.


The truth of the matter is that Ahab called Elijah “my enemy” אֹיְבִי (1 Kings 21:20).


Moreover, if, as I am claiming here, Ahaziah were in fact EA’s Mut-Baal – a name that refers to the Phoenicio-Canaanite gods Mot and Baal – then such arguments in favour of Ahab’s supposed reverence for Yahwism might lose much of their force. Given the tendency towards syncretism in religion, a combination of Yahwism and Baalism (e.g. 1 Kings 18:21), we might even expect the Syro-Palestinians to have at once a Yahwistic and a pagan name.

Scholars find that Mut-Baal’s kingdom, like that of his father, spread both east and west of the Jordan. They infer from the letters that Lab’ayu had ruled a large area in the Transjordan that was later to be the main substance of the kingdom of Mut-Baal. In EA 255 Mut-Baal writes to pharaoh to say he is to convey one of the latter’s caravans to Hanigalbat (Mitanni); he mentions that his father, Lab’ayu, was in the custom of overseeing all the caravans that pharaoh sent there. Lab’ayu could have done so only if he controlled those areas of Transjordan through which the caravans were to pass. The area that came under the rule of Mut-Baal affected territories both east and west of the Jordan.

In EA 256 we learn that the kingdom of Ashtaroth bordered on Mut-Baal’s (to the N and E: Ashtaroth being the capital of biblical Bashan) and that this neighbour was his ally.

That Mut-Baal held sway west of the Jordan may also be deduced from EA 250, whose author complains that the “two sons of Labayu” had written urging him to make war on Gina in Jezreel (modern Jenin). The writer also records that the messenger of Milkilu “does not move from the sons of Labayu”, indicating to pharaoh an alliance between these parties, which further suggests that Mut-Baal had interests west of the Jordan.

It will be seen from the above that the territory ruled by Lab’ayu and his sons, which bordered on the territories of Gezer in the west and Jerusalem in the south, also including the Sharon coastal plain, reaching at least as far as the Jezreel valley/Esdraelon in the north, and stretching over the Transjordan to adjoin Bashan, corresponds remarkably well

with the territories ruled by Ahab of Israel and his sons.

Mut-Baal, as a king of a region of Transjordania (no doubt as a sub-king with his father) had been accused to the Egyptian commissioner, Yanhamu, of harbouring one Ayyab (var. Aiab); a name usually equated with Job. Could this though be a reference to his own father, Ahab (by the latter’s biblical name)? Mut-Baal protested against this accusation, using the excuse that Ayyab – whom the Egyptian official apparently suspected of having also been in the region of Transjordania – was actually on campaign elsewhere [EA 256]: “Say to Yanhamu, my lord: Message of Mutbaal, your servant. I fall at the feet of my lord. How can it be said in your presence: ‘Mutbaal has fled. He has hidden Ayab’? How can the king of Pella flee from the commissioner, agent of the king my lord? As the king, my lord, lives … I swear Ayab is not in Pella. In fact, he has [been in the field] (i.e. on campaign) for two months. Just ask Benenima…”.

It should be noted that kings and officials were expected to ‘inform’ even on members of their own family. Lab’ayu himself had, prior to this, actually informed on one of his fathers-in-law.233 These scheming ‘vassal kings’ were continually changing allegiance; at one moment being reckoned amongst the habiru insurgents, then being attacked by these rebels – but, always, protesting their loyalty to the crown.


Queen Jezebel in El Amarna



Baalat Neše, being the only female correspondent of the El-Amarna [EA] series, must therefore have been a woman of great significance at the time.

Who was she?



  Dr. I Velikovsky had introduced Baalat Neše as “Baalath Nesse” in his 1945




According to Velikovsky:


  1. The el-Amarna Letters were written not in the fifteenth-fourteenth century, but in the middle of the ninth century.


  1. Among the correspondents of Amenhotep III and Akhnaton are biblical personages: Jehoshaphat (Abdi-Hiba), King of Jerusalem; Ahab (Rib Addi), King of Samaria; Ben-Hadad (Abdi-Ashirta), King of Damascus; Hazael (Azaru), King of Damascus; Aman (Aman-appa), Governor of Samaria; Adaja (Adaja), Adna (Adadanu), Amasia, son of Zihri (son of Zuhru), Jehozabad (Jahzibada), military governors of Jehoshaphat; Obadia, the chief of Jezreel; Obadia (Widia), a city governor in Judea; the Great Lady of Shunem (Baalath Nesse); Naaman (Janhama), the captain of Damascus; and others. Arza (Arzaja), the courtier in Samaria, is referred to in a letter.


Then he, in his Ages in Chaos I (1952, p. 220), elaborated on why he thought Baalat Neše was, as above, “the Great Lady of Shumen”.

I mentioned it briefly, as follows, in my university thesis (Volume One, p. 93):


“Queen Jezebel


Velikovsky had, with typical ingenuity, looked to identify the only female correspondent of EA, Baalat Neše, as the biblical ‘Great Woman of Shunem’, whose dead son the prophet Elisha had resurrected (cf. 2 Kings 4:8 & 4:34-35). …. Whilst the name Baalat Neše is usually translated as ‘Mistress of Lions’, Velikovsky thought that it could also be rendered as “a woman to whom occurred a wonder” (thus referring to Elisha’s miracle).

This female correspondent wrote two letters (EA 273, 274) to Akhnaton, telling him that the SA.GAZ pillagers had sent bands to Aijalon (a fortress guarding the NW approach to Jerusalem). She wrote about “two sons of Milkili” in connection with a raid.

The menace was not averted because she had to write again for pharaoh’s help”.


I continued, referring to Lisa Liel’s rejection of Velikovsky’s hopeful interpretation of the name, Baalat Neše (“What’s In A Name?”:


“Liel, in the process of linguistically unravelling the Sumerian name of this female correspondent, points to what she sees as being inaccuracies in Velikovsky’s own identification of her: ….




This lady’s name is generally transcribed as “Baalat Nese”, which means “Lady of Lions”. Velikovsky either saw a transcription where the diacritical mark above the “s” which indicates that it is pronounced “h” was omitted, or didn’t know what the mark meant.

[Since this character doesn’t show up well in HTML, I’ve used a regular “s”. The consonant is actually rendered as an “s” with an upside-down caret above it, like a small letter “v”.] [Liel’s comment]

He also took the “e” at the end of the word as a silent “e”, the way it often is in English. Having done all this, he concluded that the second word was not “nese,” but “nes,” the Hebrew word for miracle. He then drew a connection with the Shunnamite woman in the book of Kings who had a miracle done for her.


Liel’s own explanation of the name was partly this:


Flights of fancy aside, the name has in truth been a subject of debate, so much so that many books nowadays tend to leave it as an unnormalized Sumerogram. The NIN is no problem. It means “Lady,” the feminine equivalent of “Lord.” Nor is the MESH difficult at all; it is the plural suffix …. What is UR.MAH? One attested meaning is “lion.” This is the source of the “Lady of Lions” reading. ….


Whilst Liel would go on to suggest an identification of (NIN.UR.MAH.MESH) Baalat Neše with “the usurper [Queen] Athaliah”, my own preference then in this thesis was for Queen Jezebel. Thus I wrote:


“In a revised context Baalat Neše, the ‘Mistress of Lions’, or ‘Lady of Lions’, would most likely be, I suggest, Jezebel, the wife of king Ahab. Jezebel, too, was wont to write official letters – in the name of her husband, sealing these with his seal (1 Kings 21:8). And would it not be most appropriate for the ‘Mistress of Lions’ (Baalat Neše) to have been married to the ‘Lion Man’ (Lab’ayu)? Baalat (Baalath, the goddess of Byblos) is just the feminine form of Baal. Hence, Baalat Neše may possibly be the EA rendering of the name, Jezebel, with the theophoric inverted: thus, Neše-Baal(at). Her concern for Aijalon, near Jerusalem, would not be out of place since Lab’ayu himself had also expressed concern for that town”.


I am still holding to that identification of Baalat Neše, or Neše-Baal(at), as the biblical Jezebel.



Hiel of Bethel


Joshua 6:26:At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursed before the LORD is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: At the cost of his firstborn son he will lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest he will set up its gates”.”


I Kings 16:34: “In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken by Joshua son of Nun”.




A clear demonstration of what I wrote in my article:


Joshua’s Jericho


“The popular model today, as espoused by … David Rohl … arguing instead for a Middle Bronze Jericho at the time of Joshua, ends up throwing right out of kilter the biblico-historical correspondences” [,]


is apparent from Dr. Bryant Wood’s critique (“David Rohl’s Revised Egyptian Chronology: A View From Palestine”), in which Bryant points out that Rohl’s revised Jericho sequence incorrectly dates Hiel’s building level at Jericho to an apparently ‘unoccupied’ phase there:





Rohl dates the next phase of occupation at Jericho following the Middle Building to the LB IIB period (314). He then equates this phase to the rebuilding of Jericho by Hiel of Bethel (1 Kgs 16:34). Rohl is once again incorrect in his dating. The next occupational phase at Jericho following the Middle Building dates to the Iron I period, not LB IIB (M. and H. Weippert 1976). There is no evidence for occupation at Jericho in the LB IIB period.


If Dr. Bryant is correct here, then the city built by the mysterious Hiel of Bethel must belong to the Iron Age “occupational phase” of Jericho (Tell es-Sultan).



Who was this “Hiel of Bethel”?


Hiel of Bethel who rebuilt the city of Jericho (I Kings 16:34)

will be here identified as King Mesha of Moab.


Does Mesha tell us straight out in his inscription that he built Jericho –

and with Israelite labour?




Chapter 16 of the First Book of Kings will, in the course of its introducing us to King Ahab and his no-good ways as follows (vv. 30-34):


Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.


suddenly interrupt this description with its surprising and bloody note about Hiel the Bethelite’s building of Jericho at the cost of the lives of his two sons. A surprising thing about this insertion (apart from the horrific sacrifice of the sons) is that an otherwise unknown personage, Hiel (unknown at least under this name), is found to be building a city at a major and ancient site, Jericho (Tell es-Sultan), whilst the country is under the rulership of two most powerful kings – an Omride in the north (Ahab) allied to a mighty king of Judah in the south (Jehoshaphat).


How might this strange situation concerning Hiel have come about?


Before my attempting to answer this question, I should like simply to list a few of the more obvious reasons why I am drawn to the notion that Hiel was a king of Moab, and that he was, specifically, Mesha. We find that:


  • A king of Moab, Eglon, has previously ruled over a newly-built Jericho (MB IIB);
  • Hiel and Mesha were contemporaneous with King Ahab of Israel;
  • Hiel and Mesha were sacrificers of their own sons (cf. I Kings 16:34 and 2 Kings 3:27).


But, far more startling than any of this is the following potential bombshell:


Does Mesha King of Moab tell us straight out in his stele inscription that he built Jericho – and with Israelite labour?


I have only just become aware of this bell-ringing piece of information – after I had already come to the conclusion that Hiel may well have been Mesha. It is information that may be, in its specificity, beyond anything that I could have expected or hoped for.

And so we read at:


Later on in the inscription he [King Mesha of Moab] says,


I built Qeriho [Jericho?]: the wall of the parkland and the wall of the acropolis; and I built its gates, and I built its towers; and I built the king’s house; and I made banks for the water reservoir inside the town; and there was no cistern inside the town, in Qeriho, and I said to all the people: “Make yourself each a cistern in his house”; and I dug the ditches for Qeriho with prisoners of Israel (lines 21-26).


Since Mesha erected his stela to honor Chemosh in “this high place for Chemosh in Qeriho,” and since the stela was found at Dhiban, identified as ancient Dibon, most scholars believe that Qeriho was the name of the royal citadel at Dibon. Note that Israelite captives were used to cut the timber used to construct Qeriho. ….



A Servant of the Syrians?


If King Mesha of Moab really had ruled the city of Jericho for a time, as Hiel, then he would have been following an ancient tradition, because another king of Moab, Eglon, had ruled over that same city roughly half a millennium earlier.


Mesha of Moab and Ben-Hadad I


A pattern that was determined (following Dr. John Osgood) according to my recent article:


Eglon’s Jericho


of a King of Moab governing Jericho for a time as a servant of a powerful ruling nation, is the same basic pattern that I would suggest for my Hiel = Mesha.

Eglon had, as a subordinate king of the mighty Amalekite nation, ruled over (MB IIB) Jericho “for eighteen years” (Judges 3:14).

Now, much later, with Syria this time as the main power, Mesha will both build and rule over (presumably Iron Age) Jericho – for an indeterminate period of time.

From a combination of information as provided by the Mesha stele and the Old Testament, we learn that Mesha was already king at the time of Omri of Israel, and that he continued on until Jehoram of Israel.

During that period, Ben-Hadad I of Syria was by far the dominant king. In fact I, in my thesis (Volume One, p. 66) referred to him as “a true master-king”:


… the Velikovskian equation of EA’s Abdi-ashirta as Ben-Hadad I would seriously contradict the view that the latter was a relatively minor, though problematical, king in the EA scheme of things; for Ben-Hadad I was no lesser king: “King Ben-hadad of Aram gathered all his army together; thirty-two kings were with him, along with horses and chariots” (1 Kings 20:1). Thirty-two kings! The great Hammurabi of Babylon, early in his reign, had only ten to fifteen kings following him, as did his peer kings. Even the greatest king of that day in the region, Iarim Lim of Iamkhad, had only twenty kings in train. …. But Ben-Hadad’s coalition, raised for the siege of Ahab’s capital of Samaria, could boast of thirty-two kings. Surely Ben-Hadad I was no secondary king in his day, but a ‘Great King’; the dominant king in fact in the greater Syrian region – a true master-king.


With an extraordinary “thirty-two kings” in Ben-Hadad’s following, might it not be going too far to suggest that one of these follower-kings was the contemporaneous Mesha of Moab?

If so, any incursion by king Mesha into Israelite territory (Bethel, Jericho) – and we recall that Mesha boasted of having Israelite captives – would have become possible presumably (and only?) with the assistance of Ben-Hadad I, who caused much trouble for king Ahab of Israel in the earlier part of the latter’s reign. For example (I Kings 20:1-3):


Now Ben-Hadad king of Aram [Syria] mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria and attacked it.He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, “This is what Ben-Hadad says:‘Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine’.”


Different geography


King Mesha of Moab, who I consider to have been a follower-king of the mighty Syrian master-king, Ben-Hadad I, appears to have had a chequered career in relation to the Omrides, now being subservient, now in revolt.

If Mesha were Hiel, as I am saying, then it must have been during one of his upward phases – when Ben-Hadad was in the ascendant- that he was able to build at Jericho.



In other articles I have discussed geographical perspective. How, for instance, the one person who had ruled over two lands, say Egypt and southern Canaan, could be written of as “Pharaoh” by someone writing from an Egyptian perspective, but by a Semitic (Hebrew) name by one writing from a Palestinian perspective.

And that, too, is the gist of my reasoning as to how one represented by a Hebrew name (Hiel), and a Palestinian location (Bethel), in the First Book of Kings, could be designated by a Moabite name (Mesha) in the Second Book of Kings, and there located in the foreign land of Moab.

The following article (, to which I shall add my comments, provides us with a comprehensive account as to:


What does the Moabite Stone reveal about the Biblical revolt of Mesha?


The Mesha inscription, now in the Louvre in Paris


“I am Mesha, son Chemosh[it], king of Moab, the Dibonite.”[1]

So begins one of the most extraordinary ancient documents ever found. (For the unusual circumstances surrounding its discovery, see Archaeology and Biblical Research, Winter 1991: 2-3). Mesha was ruler of the small kingdom of Moab, east of the Dead Sea, in the mid-ninth century BC. He was a contemporary of Jehoshaphat, king of the southern kingdom of Judah (870-848 BC), and Joram, king of the northern kingdom of Israel (852-841 BC). Everything we know about Mesha from the Bible is recorded in 2 Kings 3. But we know a lot more about him from a record he left us, referred to as the Mesha Inscription, or Moabite Stone. It was discovered in Dhiban, Jordan, in 1868 by a French Anglican medical missionary by the name of F.A. Klein.


Both documents, 2 Kings 3 and the Mesha Inscription, describe the same event, the revolt of Mesha, but from entirely different perspectives.

Mesha made his record of the event on a stone slab, or stela, 3 ft. high and 2 ft. wide. Unfortunately, the stone was broken into pieces by the local Bedouin before it could be acquired by the authorities. About two-thirds of the pieces were recovered and those, along with an impression made before the stela was destroyed, allowed all but the last line to be reconstructed. There are a total of 34 lines, written in Moabite, a language almost identical to Hebrew. It is the longest monumental inscription yet found in Palestine.

The heartland of Moab was the territory east of the southern half of the Dead Sea, from the great Arnon Gorge in the north to the Zered River in the south. North of the Arnon River, to about the northern end of the Dead Sea, was a disputed area called the “land of Medeba” in the Mesha Inscription (line 8). Medeba was a major city in the region some 18 mi. north of the Arnon. The area was sometimes under the control of Moab, sometimes under the control of others.


Mackey’s Comment: This last statement reveals the fluctuating fortunes of King Mesha as already mentioned.

The article continues (I do not necessarily accept as exact the dates given in this article):


At the time of the Conquest at the end of the 15th century BC, the region was occupied by the Amorites, who had earlier taken it from the Moabites (Num. 21:26). The Israelites then captured the area (Num. 21:24; Dt. 2:24, 36; 3:8, 16), with the tribe of Reuben taking possession (Jos. 13:16). The area seesawed back and forth for the next several centuries, passing to the Moabites (Jgs. 3:12), Israelites (Jgs. 3:30), Ammonites (Jgs. 11:13, 32-33), and back to Israel (Jgs. 11:32-33).

In the mid-ninth century BC, Mesha was successful in throwing off the yoke of Israel and bringing the area once again under the authority of Moab (1 Kgs. 3:5; Mesha Inscription).

2 Kings 3 recounts how Joram, Jehoshaphat, and the king of Edom combined forces to attempt to bring Moab back under Israelite control. They attacked from the south and were successful in routing the Moabite forces and destroying many towns (2 Kgs. 3: 24-25). But when the coalition tried to dislodge Mesha from Kir Hareseth (modern Kerak), they were unsuccessful. After Mesha sacrificed his oldest son on the ramparts of the city, “the fury against Israel was great; they withdrew and returned to their own land” (2 Kgs. 3: 27).

The campaign must have taken place between 848 and 841 BC, the only time when Joram and Jehoshaphat were both on the throne. Although the campaign met with some success, it appears that Moab retained its independence. This is confirmed by the Mesha Inscription.

The Mesha Inscription gives us “the rest of the story.” It reads, in fact, like a chapter from the Old Testament. Its language, terminology and phraseology are exactly the same as what we find in the Bible. Mesha credits his successful revolt and recapture of Moabite territory, as well as other accomplishments, to Chemosh, national god of Moab. He does not, of course, record his defeat in the south at the hands of the coalition armies. Similarly, although the Bible records Mesha’s revolt, it gives no details on his successes. So each record, accurate in its own way, records events from a different perspective.


Chronology of the Revolt of Mesha


The main problem in correlating the Mesha Inscription with the Bible has to do with synchronizing the chronology of the two sources. 2 Kings 3:5 (cf. 1:1) simply states,

“But after Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.”

Ahab, father of Joram, died in ca. 853 BC, so Mesha’s revolt must have taken place some time after 853 BC. According to the Mesha Inscription,

Omri had taken possession of the land of Medeba. And he dwelt in it in his days and half [2] the days of his son [3]: 40 years; but Chemosh restored it in my days (lines 7-9).

The Mesha Inscription not only mentions Mesha, king of Moab, known in the Bible, but also Omri, one of the most powerful kings of the Northern Kingdom (1 Kgs. 16:21-28), who ruled 885-873 BC.

Omri established a dynasty which lasted until his grandson Joram was assassinated by Jehu in 841 BC. The term “son” in the inscription simply means descendent, as we know from the Bible and other ancient Near Eastern texts. Adding the years of Omri (12, 1 Kgs. 16:23), the years of his son Ahab (22, 1 Kgs. 16:29), the years of Ahab’s son Ahaziah (2, 1 Kgs. 22:52) and half the years of Joram, brother of Ahaziah, (6, 2 Kgs. 3:1), we obtain a span of 42 years. Some of the reigns of these kings could be common years, making the true span 40 years, or, the 40 year figure simply could be a round number. Thiele gives absolute years for the period from the beginning of the reign of Omri to the sixth year of Joram as 885 to 846 BC, or 40 years (1983: 217). Thus, it appears that Mesha revolted in the sixth year of Joram, ca. 846 BC. The Bible indicates that the retaliation by Joram recorded in 2 Kings 3 took place immediately upon Mesha’s revolt (verses 5-7), or 846 BC. This date falls within the time period of 848-841 BC when both Joram and Jehoshaphat were ruling.


The Gods of Israel and Moab


In describing his victories over Israel, Mesha tells of defeating the town of Nebo. Among the spoils he acquired were the “altarhearths? of Yahweh” (lines 17-18). This is the earliest mention of Yahweh, God of the Israelites, outside the Bible.

The Bible records the names of many deities worshipped by the nations around Israel. One of those gods is Chemosh. He is mentioned eight times in the Old Testament (Num. 21:29; Jgs. 11:24; 1 Kgs. 11:7, 33; 2 Kgs. 23:13; Jer. 48:7, 13, 46), always (with the exception of Jgs. 11:24) as the national god of the Moabites. The Mesha Inscription verifies that this indeed was the case. Chemosh is mentioned some 11 times in the inscription:


·         Mesha made a high place for Chemosh, since Chemosh gave Mesha victory over his enemies (line 3)

·         Because Chemosh was angry with Moab, Omri oppressed Moab (line 5)

·         Chemosh gave Moab back her territory (line 9)

·         Mesha slew the people of Ataroth to satisfy Chemosh (lines 11-12)

·         Mesha dragged the altarhearth(?) of Ataroth before Chemosh (lines 12-13)

·         Chemosh directed Mesha to attack the town of Nebo (line 14)

·         Mesha devoted the inhabitants of Nebo to Chemosh (line 17)

·         The altar-hearths(?) of Yahweh from Nebo were dragged before Chemosh (lines 17-18)

·         Chemosh drove the king of Israel out of Jahaz (lines 18-19)

·         Chemosh directed Mesha to fight against Horanaim (line 32)

·         Chemosh gave Mesha victory over Horanaim (line 33)

The Cities of Northern Moab


Most of the inscription is taken up with Mesha’s success in regaining the land of Medeba, the disputed territory north of the Arnon Gorge. He claims to have added 100 towns to his territory by means of his faithful army from Dibon:


[And] the men of Dibon were fitted out for war because all Dibon was obedient. And I ruled [over a] hundred of towns that I added to the land (lines 28-29).

Some 12 towns in the land of Medeba are mentioned, all of them known from the Old Testament.

“I am Mesha …the Dibonite” (line 1)


Mackey’s Comment: The next statement is the one that I believe actually refers to the re-building of Jericho, as foretold by Joshua.

The son-slaying Mesha (contemporary of Ahab) here meshes with the son-slaying Hiel (contemporary of Ahab). Thus we read:


Later on in the inscription he says,


I built Qeriho: the wall of the parkland and the wall of the acropolis; and I built its gates, and I built its towers; and I built the king’s house; and I made banks for the water reservoir inside the town; and there was no cistern inside the town, in Qeriho, and I said to all the people: “Make yourself each a cistern in his house”; and I dug the ditches for Qeriho with prisoners of Israel (lines 21-26).


Since Mesha erected his stela to honor Chemosh in “this high place for Chemosh in Qeriho,” and since the stela was found at Dhiban, identified as ancient Dibon, most scholars believe that Qeriho was the name of the royal citadel at Dibon. Note that Israelite captives were used to cut the timber used to construct Qeriho.


Mackey’s Comment: I do not believe that Mesha’s “Qeriho” was in Dibon.


Dibon was captured from the Amorites by Israel (Num. 21:21-25, 31) and assigned to the tribe of Reuben (Jos. 13:17). But evidently it was reassigned to the tribe of Gad, since Gad built the city (Num. 32:34) and it was called “Dibon of Gad”; (Num. 33:45, 46).



The site of Dhiban and was excavated 1950-1956 and 1965. A city wall and gateway were found, as well as a large podium which the excavators believe supported the royal quarter constructed by Mesha. In addition, a text from around the time of Mesha was found which refers to the “temple of Che[mosh],” and nearly 100 cisterns were found on the site and in the surrounding area, possibly made in response to Mesha’s directive to “make yourself each a cistern in his house” (lines 24- 25).


Mackey’s Comment: Jericho, too, had its own impressive cisterns.


The article continues:


In his prophecy against Moab, Isaiah states, “Dibon goes up to its temple, to its high places to weep” (15:2, NIV). Jeremiah predicted that the fortified cities of Dibon would be ruined (48:18; cf. 48:21-22).

“And I built Baal Meon, and made a reservoir in it” (line 9)

Baal Meon was allotted to the Reubenites (Jos. 13:17, where it is called Beth Baal Meon), and built by them (Num. 32:38). An eighth century BC ostracon [an inscribed potsherd] from Samaria (no. 27) contains a reference to “Baala the Baalmeonite.” Jeremiah predicted that the judgment of God would come upon the city (48:23, where it is called Beth Meon). Ezekiel said God would expose the flank of Moab, beginning with its frontier towns, including Baal Meon (25:9). It is thought to be located at Kh. Ma’in, 5 mi southwest of modern Madaba, which has not been excavated.

Toward the end of the inscription, Baal Meon is mentioned again when Mesha records,

“And I built… the temple of Baal Meon; and I established there […] the sheep of the land” (lines 29-31).

The reference to sheep is significant, as it reflects the main occupation of the people of Moab, in agreement with the Bible. 2 Kings 3:4 tells us,

Now Mesha king of Moab raised sheep, and he had to supply the king of Israel with 100,000 lambs and with the wool of 100,000 rams.

“And I built Kiriathaim” (lines 9-10)

Kiriathaim was another city allotted to the Reubenites and built by them (Jos. 13:19; Num. 32:37). Jeremiah predicted that the city would be disgraced and captured (48:1), and Ezekiel said God would expose the flank of Moab, beginning with its frontier towns, including Kiriathaim (25:9). It is possibly located at al Qureiye, 6 mi. northwest of Madaba.

“And the men of Gad had dwelt in the land of Ataroth from of old” (line 10)

Mesha devoted 3 lines of his memorial to a description of his operation against Ataroth. Although mentioned only twice in the Old Testament, the city seems to have been an important place. The name means “crowns” and was said by the Reubenites and Gadites to be a good place for livestock (Num. 32:3-4). The Gadites built up Ataroth as a fortified city, and built pens there for their flocks (Num. 32:34-36). This agrees with Mesha’s inscription which says that the men of Gad had lived there “from of old.” Ataroth is most likely located at Kh. ‘Attarus, unexcavated, 8 mi. northwest of Dhiban.

The entire section dealing with Ataroth reads as follows:

And the men of Gad had dwelt in the land of Ataroth from of old, and the king of Israel built Ataroth for himself, but I fought against the town and took it, and I slew all the people: the town belonged to Chemosh and to Moab. And I brought thence the altarhearth of his Beloved, and I dragged it before Chemosh in Kerioth/my town. And I settled in it the men of Sharon and the men of Maharath (lines 10-14).

“And I brought thence the altarhearth of his Beloved, and I dragged it before Chemosh in Kerioth/my town” (lines 12-13)

Kerioth was judged by God (Jer. 48:24), with the town being captured and its strongholds taken (Jer. 48:41). Its location is uncertain. If “my town” is the correct reading in line 13, then the text refers to Dibon, Mesha’s capital.

“And Chemosh said to me: ‘Go! Take Nebo against Israel’” (line 14)

Mesha’s assault of Nebo is detailed in 4 lines, the most of any of the cities mentioned in the stela. Nebo is mentioned seven times in the Old Testament, being one of the cities built by the tribe of Reuben (Num. 32:38). In his prophecy against Moab, Isaiah wrote that Moab would wail over Nebo (15:2, NIV). Similarly, Jeremiah said that judgment would come upon her, and she would be laid waste (48:1, 22).

Mesha’s nighttime foray against Nebo is reported as follows:

And Chemosh said to me: “Go! Take Nebo against Israel.” And I went by night and fought against it from break of dawn till noon. And I took it and slew all: 7,000 men, boys, women, girls, and pregnant women, because I had devoted it to Ashtar-Chemosh. And I took thence the altar-hearths of YHWH and I dragged them before Chemosh (lines 14-18).

It appears that there was a worship center for Yahweh at Nebo since among the spoils were “altar hearths(?) of Yahweh.” It is perhaps for this reason that Mesha devoted the inhabitants to his god(s) Ashtar-Chemosh. The word used for “devoted” is the same as the Hebrew word harem used in the Old Testament for offering a city completely to Yahweh, such as Jericho (Jos. 6:17, 21). Nebo is most likely Kh. al Muhaiyat, northwest of Madaba and just south of Mt. Nebo.

“And the king of Israel had built Jahaz (lines 18-19)

Jahaz is the town where the Israelites fought and defeated Sihon and his Amorite army as they first approached the promised land (Num. 21:21-31; Dt. 2:31-36; Jgs. 11:19-22). It was included in the Reubenite allotment (Jos. 13:18), and later transferred to the Levites (Jos. 21:36; 1 Chr. 6:78). Jeremiah predicted doom for the city as part of God’s judgment against Moab (48:21, 34). Mesha goes on to say,

And the king of Israel had built Jahaz, and dwelt therein while he fought against me; but Chemosh drove him out from before me, and I took from Moab 200 men, all the chiefs thereof, and I established them in Jahaz; and I took it to add it to Dibon (lines 18-21).

Here, Mesha refers to a northern campaign by the king of Israel which is not recorded in the Old Testament. In order to achieve victory, Mesha had to marshal the best of his forces, 200 chiefs. Once captured, Jahaz became a daughter city of Dibon. The location of Jahaz is uncertain, although Kh. Medeineyeh 10 mi southeast of Madaba is a likely candidate.

“I built Aroer, and made the highway through the Arnon (line 26)

The name Aroer means “crest of a mountain,” and that certainly describes this site. It was a border fortress located at Kh. ‘Ara’ir on the northern rim of the Arnon river gorge. Three seasons of excavation were carried out there between 1964 and 1966. Remnants of the fortress constructed by the king of Israel were found, as well as a substantial new fortress constructed by Mesha over the earlier one. In addition, a reservoir to store rainwater was built on the northwest side of the fortress.

Aroer marked the southern boundary of the Transjordanian territory originally captured by the Israelites (Dt. 2:36; 3:12; 4:48; Jos. 12:2; 13:9, 16, 25). It was occupied and fortified by the Gadites (Nm. 32:34). Later, the prophet Jeremiah said that the inhabitants of Aroer would witness fleeing refugees as God poured out His wrath on the cities of Moab (48:19-20).

“I built Beth Bamoth, for it was destroyed” (line 27)

The Beth Bamoth of the Mesha Stela is most likely the same as the Bamoth Baal of the Old Testament. It was here that God met with Balaam (Num. 22:41-23:5); the town was later given to the tribe of Reuben (Jos. 13:17). The location of the place is uncertain.

“And I built Bezer, for it was in ruins” (line 27)

Under the Israelites, Bezer was a Levitical city and a city of refuge (Dt. 4:43; Jos 20:8; 21:36; 1 Chr. 6:78). It may be the same as Bozrah in Jer. 48:24, a Moabite city judged by God. Its location is uncertain.

“And I built [the temple of Mede]ba (lines 29-30)

The city of Medeba was conquered and occupied by Israel (Nu. 21:30; Jos. 13:9, 16). It suffered under the hand of God when He poured out His judgment on Moab (Isa. 15:2). The ancient site is located at modern Madaba, and remains unexcavated.

“And I built …the temple of Diblaten” (lines 29-30)

Diblaten is mentioned in Jeremiah’s oracle against Moab as Beth Diblathaim (48:22) and is possibly the same as Almon Diblathaim, a stopping place for the Israelites as they approached the promised land (Num. 33:46-47). It is perhaps located at Deleitat esh-Sherqiyeh 10 mi. north-northeast of Dhiban, but that location is far from certain.


The House of David and Southern Moab


“And the house [of Da]vid dwelt in Horanaim” (line 31)

Line 31 is perhaps the most significant line in the entire inscription. In 1993, a stela was discovered at Tel Dan in northern Israel mentioning the “House of David” (Bible and Spade, Autumn 1993: 119-121). This mid-ninth century BC inscription provided the first mention of David in a contemporary text outside the Bible. The find is especially significant since in recent years several scholars have questioned the existence of David. At about the same time the Dan stela was found, French scholar Andre Lemaire was working on the Mesha Inscription and determined that the same phrase appeared there in line 31 (Bible and Spade, Summer 1995: 91-92). Lemaire was able to identify a previously indistinguishable letter as a “d” in the phrase “House of David.” This phrase is used a number of times in the Old Testament for the Davidic dynasty.

From this point on in Mesha’s record it appears that he is describing victories south of the Arnon river, an area previously controlled by Judah. Although there are only three lines left in the surviving portion, Lemaire believes we only have about half of the original memorial (1994: 37). The missing half would have told how Mesha regained the southern half of Moab from Judah. The complete text regarding Horanaim reads as follows:

And the house [of Da]vid dwelt in Horanaim […] and Chemosh said to me: “Go down! Fight against Horanaim.” And I went down, and [I fought against the town, and I took it; and] Chemosh [resto]red it in my days (lines 31-33).

Horanaim is mentioned in Isaiah’s prophecy against Moab (15:5). He says that fugitives would lament their destruction as they travelled the road to Horanaim. Jeremiah says much the same in 48:3, 5, and 47. The town is located south of the Arnon, but exactly where is a matter of conjecture. …”.



But the location and identification of some of the places to which Mesha refers are, as a according to the above, “a matter of conjecture”.


No apparent mention here of “Bethel”, the town with which Hiel is associated. Earlier we referred to Dr. John Osgood’s view that Bethel was the same as Shechem – a town that we have found figuring importantly in the EA letters associated with Laba’yu, my Ahab.

Now, according to EA letter 289, written by Abdi-hiba of Jerusalem, Lab’ayu had actually given Shechem to the rebel hapiru: “Are we to act like Labaya when he was giving the land of Šakmu to the Hapiru?”

The cuneiform ideogram for the hapiru (or habiru) is SA GAZ which occurs in EA sometimes as Sa.Gaz.Mesh, which Velikovsky thought to relate to Mesha himself (Ages in Chaos, I, p. 275):


“… “sa-gaz”, which ideographically can also be read “habatu”, is translated “plunderers”, or “cutthroats”, or “rebellious bandits” … sometimes the texdt speaks of “gaz-Mesh” as a single person … and therefore here Mesh cannot be the suffic for the plural. I shall not translate Mesh … because it is the perosnl name of King Mesha …”.


King Mesha, unable to make any progress against Israel in the days of the powerful Omri, was able to make deep inroads into Israelite territory later, however, when he was powerfully backed (I think) by Ben-Hadad I and the Syrians (before Ahab had defeated them).

Ahab, as EA’s Lab’ayu, was pressurised to hand over to the invading rebels (hapiru) a large slice of his territory in the important Shechem region.

Since Shechem was also Bethel, this would be how Mesha – known variously as Hiel – would be connected with the Bethel which he must have occupied.


This is how he was able to build his Iron Age Jericho with Israelite labour.



Naboth of Jezreel



A suggested identification here of the contemporaneous ‘Obadiah,

Master of King Ahab’s Palace, with Naboth whom the king murdered.




The two accounts, ‘Obadiah (I Kings 18) and Naboth (I Kings 21), are replete with similarities. For instance:


I Kings 21:1: “… Naboth of Jezreel had a vineyard close by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria, and Ahab said to Naboth …”.


I Kings 18:3-4: “…. In Samaria, Ahab summoned ‘Obadiah, the master of the palace …”.


The common Hebrew name ‘Obadiah (עֹבַדְיָהוּ), meaning “servant of Yahweh”, is rendered in Greek as Tobit (Τωβίτ), or Tobith (Τωβίθ), without the theophoric yahu, and with the Hebrew letter ayin (ע) being replaced by the letter tau (Τ).

My suggestion is that the name Naboth (נָבוֹת), apparently being “of uncertain derivation” (, is simply a variant of ‘Obadiah similar to “Tobith”, this time with the ayin (ע) being replaced by the Hebrew letter nun (נ).


Next we find King Ahab and his servant dividing the country in their search for resources – presumably commencing from two ‘adjoining’ pieces of land:


I Kings 21:2: “… Ahab said to Naboth, ‘Give me your vineyard to be my vegetable garden, since it adjoins my house [palace] …’.”


I Kings 18:5: “…Ahab said to ‘Obadiah, ‘Come along …’. … They divided the country for the purpose of their survey; Ahab went one way by himself and ‘Obadiah went another …”.


In neither case does the king exhibit any sort of animosity or intentional disrespect towards his servant. However, his request for Naboth’s vineyard – for which the king is prepared to pay – was actually (though the apostate Ahab may have been completely unaware of this) a blatant flouting of the Torah.

“What an unthinkable demand. Not only did the Torah forbid such a thing [See Leviticus 25:23; Numbers 36:7; and Ezekiel 46:18] … to give away or sell one’s inheritance … this vineyard embodied Naboth’s life, as it had his father’s and distant generations before him”.

Jewish legend has it that Naboth was in fact a kinsman (cousin?) of Ahab’s.

According to Josephus, Naboth came from an illustrious family (Ant. 8.358).


In the mind of King Ahab, who was no doubt used to getting his own way, what he was proposing to Naboth was merely a reasonable business transaction.

But for the fervently Yahwistic Naboth (‘Obadiah), the king’s offer was unconscionable.


I Kings 21:3: “But Naboth answered, ‘Yahweh forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors!’”


I Kings 18:3: “… ‘Obadiah held Yahweh in great reverence …”.


The king’s servant had in fact been prepared to risk his life for the cause of Yahweh (18:4): “While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water”.

Now, again, he was going to stand firm, even though it might mean provoking the wrath of Ahab (not to mention, Queen Jezebel).

Did Jezebel have well in mind ‘Obadiah’s early track record for Yahweh when she proposed this murderous plan to the sulking Ahab for acquiring the servant’s (as Naboth) vineyard? (21:5-10):


“His wife Jezebel came to him and said, ‘Why are you so depressed that you will not eat?’ [Cf. 18:2: “Now the famine was severe in Samaria …”]. He said to her, ‘Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard for it’; but he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard’.’ His wife Jezebel said to him, ‘Do you now govern Israel? Get up, eat some food, and be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite’.

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal; she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who lived with Naboth in his city. She wrote in the letters, ‘Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth at the head of the assembly; seat two scoundrels opposite him, and have them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out, and stone him to death’.”


Not surprisingly, the prophet Elijah – a foe of Ahab’s and Jezebel’s – was on the side of the Yahwistic servant:


I Kings 18:7: “While ‘Obadiah went on his way whom should he meet but Elijah …?”


I Kings 21:17-18: “Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying: ‘Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria; he is now in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession’.”


Jerome T. Walsh has made the interesting observation (in Style and Structure in Biblical Hebrew Narrative, p. 145, n. 2) that:


“… Elijah’s meticulous obedience to YHWH is revealed when the narrative repeats the words of YHWH’s command in describing Elijah’s compliance (I Kings 17:3-6); Obadiah’s veracity is shown when he describes himself in the same words the narrator has already used (I Kings 18:3-4; 12-13, see above, p. 140); Ahab reveals something about himself and his opinion of Jezebel by not repeating accurately the conversation he had withNnaboth (I Kings 21:2, 3-6)”.


In the time of ‘Obadiah, Jezebel had been busy ‘butchering the prophets’.

Now she saw to it that ‘Obadiah himself (as Naboth) was eliminated once and for all (21:15): “As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, ‘Go, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead’.”


King Ahab had customarily, in the case of the elusive Elijah (18:10), “… made [kingdoms] swear an oath that they could not find [him]”.

Now Queen Jezebel was ordering in the king’s name for ‘false witness’ against Naboth (21:10): ‘… seat two men, scoundrels, before [Naboth] to bear witness against him, saying, ‘You have blasphemed God and the king’. Then take him out, and stone him, that he may die’.


Some time after the death of King Ahab, when Jehu was on the rampage against the king’s son, Jehoram, we learn from the mouth of the same Jehu that Naboth’s sons had also been wiped out in this bloody episode (2 Kings 9:24-26):


“Then Jehu drew his bow and shot Jehoram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart and he slumped down in his chariot. Jehu said to Bidkar, his chariot officer, ‘Pick him up and throw him on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. Remember how you and I were riding together in chariots behind Ahab his father when the Lord spoke this prophecy against him: ‘Yesterday I saw the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, declares the Lord, and I will surely make you pay for it on this plot of ground, declares the Lord’. Now then, pick him up and throw him on that plot, in accordance with the word of the Lord’.”


Queen Jezebel would have realised that it was necessary for Naboth’s sons to die as well if Ahab were to inherit the vineyard.


Elijah the Tishbite had made himself inimical to King Ahab (and his wife):


I Kings 18:16-17: “Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, ‘Is that you, you troubler of Israel?’


I Kings 21:20: “Ahab said to Elijah, ‘Have you found me, O my enemy?’ …”.


Elijah was not to be cowed on either occasion:


I Kings 18:18: “‘I have not made trouble for Israel’, Elijah replied. ‘But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals’.”


I Kings 21:20-24: “[Elijah] answered, ‘I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel; and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin. Also concerning Jezebel the Lord said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.’ Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat’.”


This was because (21:25-26): “(Indeed, there was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord, urged on by his wife Jezebel. He acted most abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord drove out before the Israelites)”.


According to a recent article:


Biblical Vineyard Of Naboth Existed And Has Been Found – From the Bible we learn that Naboth’s vineyard was located near the palace of King Ahav [Ahab] at Jezreel. This place is mentioned in 1 Kings in the Bible and it’s a place associated with the infamous queen Jezebel.

To grow vegetables, the king offered to buy Naboth’s vineyard or exchange it for a better one, but Naboth refused. When King Ahav returned home and told he couldn’t buy the vineyard, Queen Jezebel had Naboth convicted on false charges and stoned to death.


Archaeologists have long wondered whether Naboth’s vineyard did exist or was just a mythical place. It now seems we can answer this question as researchers say they have located the Biblical place.

According to Dr. Norma Franklin, one of the leaders behind the Jezreel Expedition, Jezreel Valley was indeed a major wine producing area in biblical times, which lines up with the story of Naboth’s vineyard as found in 1 Kings in the Bible.

The area of the discovery (Photo: Jezreel Expedition)


Using laser technology researchers analyzed data from the region and discovered several wine and olive presses, including over 100 bottle-shaped pits carved into the bedrock, which Franklin believes were used to store wine.


“As an archaeologist, I cannot say that there was definitely a specific man named Naboth who had a particular vineyard,” Dr Franklin told Breaking Israel News. “The story is very old but from what I have found, I can say that the story as described in the Bible quite probably could have occurred here in the Jezreel.”


The archaeologist suggested that the vineyard was established somewhere before 300 BCE, which coincides with the time-frame for when Naboth was producing wine at the site.


“The Biblical narrative takes place in the fertile Jezreel Valley, an agricultural center to this day. According to the 21st chapter of the Book of Kings, Naboth owned a vineyard on the eastern slope of the hill of Jezreel near the palace of King Ahab,”

“The king coveted the land but Naboth did not want to sell the plot, and since it was an inheritance, Torah law forbade him from selling it outright. Queen Jezebel intervened, staging a mock trial in order to seize Naboth’s property.”


“Owning a vineyard would make him wealthy since wine was an important commodity. I reckon that since he was from the aristocracy he probably lived in Samaria and had more than one vineyard. There is no doubt that the Bible is a useful source,” Dr. Franklin said. ….

Not so ‘Hot Gates’ of Thermopylae

Published October 3, 2017 by amaic

Image result for thermopylae


Damien F. Mackey


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

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





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


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


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


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


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

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


Author of the Book of Judith


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


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


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

Accordingly, I have written:


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


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


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


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


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




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


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


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




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


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


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


And the famous Trojan Horse?

I continued:


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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Similarities to The Odyssey of the Books of Job and Tobit


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


Unsatisfactory Foundations


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




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

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


Where does Greek history actually begin?

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

Likewise the legendary Pythagoras.

For an overview of all of this, see my:


Re-Orienting to Zion the History of Ancient Philosophy


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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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




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



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


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

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

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


Based on the Book of Judith Drama



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




Comparisons between Book of Judith

and the Battle of Thermopylae


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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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




The so-called Battle of Thermopylae never happened.

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

The classical Xerxes is a complete fiction.

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


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


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

no one dared to threaten the people of Israel”.


Ashurbanipal and Nebuchednezzar

Published June 28, 2017 by amaic
Image result for ashurbanipal



Damien F. Mackey


Part One:

Questions in need of new answers


Is Ashurbanipal mentioned in the Bible?

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

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




Is Ashurbanipal mentioned in the Bible?


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


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


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



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



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


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


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


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



Part Two (i):

Ashurbanipal as Nebuchednezzar



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

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





I wrote the above in my recent:


Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus


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

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

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


Ashurbanipal viewed

in a new perspective


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

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

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

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

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



Part Two (ii): Comparing fathers,

Esarhaddon and Nabopolassar



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


Joseph Ignatius Hunt



Esarhaddon as Nabopolassar


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

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


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


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


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


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

for (all) the temples.] ….


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


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


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


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


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


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


[End of quotes]


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


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


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

[End of quote]


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

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


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

This is a very murky period indeed.

According to:


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

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

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

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

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

[End of quote]


Esarhaddon marched on Nineveh, fomenting a civil war

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


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

About Esarhaddon and Babylon, we read (


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

Reign & Restoration of Babylon


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

[End of quote]


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

of the land Tyre, of the land Sidon”.


Adad-Nirari III



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

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

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

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


Re-shuffling the pack of neo-Assyrian kings


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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


Tribute from a biblical King?


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


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


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

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


Black Obelisk Decoded


Page will go on to write of the linguistic aspect:


Ia’asu of Samaria



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


[End of quote]


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

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

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


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


Part Three: Comparing Ashurbanipal

and Nebuchednezzar II (= Nabonidus)



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


Jewish Encyclopedia




Answering the questions posed


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

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


Is Ashurbanipal mentioned in the Bible?


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


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


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


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


especially given my further identification of this Nebuchednezzar with Nabonidus.  

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


The answer to which I had also anticipated:


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

thereby continuing our radical revision of the Egyptian dynasties.


But that is not all with pharaonic ‘duplicates’.

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

And so we read (


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


1.Babylonia and the Levant


The Extent and Success of the Babylonian Campaigns to the Levant 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[End of quote]

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


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


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


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

[End of quote]


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


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

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

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

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

[End of quote]


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

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

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

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

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



Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus

Published June 11, 2017 by amaic
Image result for ashurbanipal



 Damien F. Mackey


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





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


“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel


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



Nebuchadnezzar or Nabonidus?

Mistaken Identities in the Book of Daniel


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


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




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


[End of quote]


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


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

I had then written:


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

And Belshazzar was not a king, they also say.

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

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


Ashurbanipal also apparently had a lions’ den.

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




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

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


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


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


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

Re-shuffling the pack of neo-Assyrian kings

Published May 24, 2017 by amaic




Damien F. Mackey


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




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


Black Obelisk Decoded


with its references to other related articles.

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

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

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

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


The conventional dates for Shalmaneser III and co.


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


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


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


Shalmaneser III = Shalmaneser V

Shamsi-Adad V = Sargon II (= Sennacherib)

(Sammmuramat = Naqia)

Adad-nirari III = Esarhaddon




Loosening Shalmaneser III’s

ties to C9th BC



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


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


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

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

Queen Sammuramat as Queen Naqia



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


Naqia of Assyria and ‘Semiramis’


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




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


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




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




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

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


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


  1. 123


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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


Shamsi-Adad V and

Sargon II/Sennacherib




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






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


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

[End of quote]


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

(i) as Sargon II:


Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib


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


Bringing New Order to Mesopotamian History and Chronology


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



Patterns of Comparison


            Coming to throne after a revolt (coup against brother)


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


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


Similarly, in the case of Sargon II (


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


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


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

[End of quotes]


            The Queen


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


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


See also my article:


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


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


            The Babylonian Contemporary


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


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


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

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

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


            Reign Length


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

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


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


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




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


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


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

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


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


Adad-nirari III and Esarhaddon



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







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

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


Patterns of Comparison


            Queen virtually ruling Assyria for her son


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


Sammu-Ramat and Semiramis: The Inspiration and the Myth


by Joshua J. Mark
published on 16 September 2014


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

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

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



The Historical Reign of Sammu-Ramat


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

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


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


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

[End of quote]


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




by Joshua J. Mark
published on 05 March 2011


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

[End of quote]




Southern Mesopotamia


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


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

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




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



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

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


In the case of Esarhaddon (Wikipedia again):


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




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


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


            Reign Length


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

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



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


Shalmaneser III = Shalmaneser V

Shamsi-Adad V = Sargon II (= Sennacherib)

(Sammmuramat = Naqia)

Adad-nirari III = Esarhaddon