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Solomon and Charlemagne

Published May 4, 2017 by amaic

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 Part One:

Life of Charlemagne

by

Damien F. Mackey

   

Emperor Charlemagne’s life bears some uncanny likenesses to

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

King Hiram the Historical and Hiram Abiff the Hysterical

 

https://www.academia.edu/10289638/King_Hiram_the_Historical_and_Hiram_Abiff_the_Hysterical

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

THE FRENCH TRADITION

 

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

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

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

 

[End of quote]

 

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

 

Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time

 

https://www.academia.edu/12429764/Two_Supposed_Nehemiahs_BC_time_and_AD_time

 

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

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

 

Clovis I (d. 511) and the Franks

 

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

 

Pepin the Short (d. 768)

 

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

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

 

[End of quotes]

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Pepin was nicknamed “the Short”.

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

 

Charlemagne, “after the style of Solomon”

 

His Beginnings

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

 

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

[End of quote]

 

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

 

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

Was the ‘wisdom of Oliver’ in the Song of Roland inspired by the Wisdom of Solomon? “Oliver urges caution; wisdom and restraint are part of what makes him a good knight” (http://www.gradesaver.com/song-of-roland/study-guide/section2/).

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

 

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

[End of quote]

 

His Birthplace

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

His Natural Qualities

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

His Appearance

What did Charlemagne look like?

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

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

[End of quote]

 

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

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

 

His Intelligence and Discernment

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

 

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

 

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

 

Epilogue

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Solomon and Sheba

 

https://www.academia.edu/3660164/Solomon_and_Sheba

 

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

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

 

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

 

His Repudiated Wife

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

Solomon also divorced “the Queen of Sheba”, Hatshepsut, and sent her back to Egypt. This, as I have explained following the terrific research of Dr. Ed Metzler (http://moziani.tripod.com/dynasty/ammm_2_1.htm), is the full meaning of the Hebrew of 1 Kings 10:13, that now translates weakly as: “Then she returned to her own land, with her servants”. Metzler has suggested that the biblical phrase “she [Sheba] turned” (to go back home) indicates ‘divorce’ (Latin divortium, from divertere, “to turn away”) ….

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

His Morality and His Piety

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

Solomon was of course a serial polygamist.

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

[End of quote]

 

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

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

 

His Imperial Coronation

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

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

 

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

 

And Fraioli writes (p. 47):

 

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

 

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

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

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

Like Solomon, Charlemagne reigned for at least four decades.

 

His Empire

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

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

 

His Ally, Harun al-Rashid

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Relations

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

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

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

 

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

[End of quote]

 

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

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

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

 

Part Two: Archaeology of Charlemagne

  

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

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

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

 

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

 

Charlemagne’s Economy

 

The findings of historians regarding Charles’ economy show extreme contradictions: Some concede abundant wealth to Charles, while others have to complain economic decay. Jan Beaufort writes (“Illig’s Hypothesis on Phantom Times – FAQ”: http://www.cybis.se/forfun/dendro/hollstein/hollstein0/beaufort/index.htm):

 

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

 

 

Charlemagne’s Capital City

and His Cultural Achievements

 

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

 

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

[End of quote]

 

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

 

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

[End of quote]

 

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

 

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

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

[End of quote]

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

[End of quote]

 

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

 

His Burial and Tomb

 

Beaufort tells about this (op. cit.):

 

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

 

And again:

 

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

 

His Cult and Biography

 

And, again from the same source:

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

[End of quotes]

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

 

Philip II Augustus (r. 1180-1223)

 

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

 

Louis IX (r. 1226-1270)

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

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

 

[End of quotes]

 

Conclusion

 

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

 

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

 

Part Three: Archaeology of King Solomon

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Let us consider 1-3 in turn:

 

  1. The Era of Hammurabi

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

Conventionally, this is the Middle Bronze Age I period.

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

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

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

Hammurabi and Zimri-Lim as Contemporaries of Solomon

https://www.academia.edu/18306131/Hammurabi_and_Zimri-Lim_as_Contemporaries_of_Solomon

and:

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

https://www.academia.edu/30882833/Hammurabi_and_Zimri-Lim_as_Contemporaries_of_Solomon._Part_Two_Zimri-lims_Mari_Palace_and_King_Solomon

 

 

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

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

 

Hammurabic Anomalies

 

Stratigraphical and Astronomical

 

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

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

See e.g. my series:

Davidic Influence on King Hammurabi

https://www.academia.edu/30639370/Davidic_Influence_on_King_Hammurabi

 

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

https://www.academia.edu/30639414/Davidic_Influence_on_King_Hammurabi._Part_Two_Hebrew_and_Babylonian_Calendars

 

Davidic Influence on Hammurabi. Part Three: Epic Literature

https://www.academia.edu/30639442/Davidic_Influence_on_Hammurabi._Part_Three_Epic_Literature?campaign=upload_email

 

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

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

….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[End of quotes]

 

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

 

Pharaoh of the Exodus

https://www.academia.edu/22158631/Pharaoh_of_the_Exodus

 

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

 

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

 

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

….

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

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

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

[End of quotes]

 

  1. Hatshepsut and Senenmut: 18th Dynasty Egypt

 

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

 

Introduction

 

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

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

Solomon and Sheba

https://www.academia.edu/3660164/Solomon_and_Sheba

 

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

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

 

Can There be a Revised Chronology Without a Revised Stratigraphy?

http://saturniancosmology.org/files/.cdrom/journals/review/v0601to3/16chron.htm

 

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

 

  • The Late Bronze Age and the Reign of Solomon

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

[End of Bimson’s section]

 

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

 

 

  1. Iron Age II

 

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

 

 

Introduction

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

(http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/israel/history-iron-ii.htm):

 

1000–800 BC – Iron Age II

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[End of quotes]

 

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

 

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Huram-Abi and Oholiab

Published January 15, 2017 by amaic

 Image result for oholiab and bezalel bezalel

by

Damien F. Mackey

 
 

Ray Dillard has suggested that the Chronicler presents King Solomon as the new Bezalel, builder of the Ark of the Covenant, and Huram-abi as Bezalel’s technical assistant, Oholiab.

 

 

The Temple of Yahweh built by King Solomon was modelled on the Tent, or Tabernacle, of Moses, and these were in turn modelled on the Garden of Eden. These were physical replica of God’s heavenly abode. See Dr. Ernest L. Martin’s “The Temple Symbolism in Genesis”: http://askelm.com/temple/t040301.htm

So it is not at all surprising to find that the account of the building of the Temple as recorded in 2 Chronicles would parallel, to some extent, the account of the designing of the Tent in the Book of Exodus.

Nor is it too surprising that Solomon and Huram-abi might be depicted as, respectively, a new Bezalel and a new Oholiab.

There is no need to do what Laura Knight-Jadczyk has done in her “Tribe of Dan” article (http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/biblianazar/esp_biblianazar_14d.htm), and attempt to merge into one what are clearly two different scenarios well separated in time.

She has written:

An analysis of the genealogies in the Bible is very illuminating. According to the book of Chronicles there is no genealogy for the tribe of Dan. It has been observed by numerous scholars that many of the names occurring in the genealogies themselves are either blatantly geographical or connected with place-names; while others are definitely personal names.[1] But the case of the Tribe of Dan is special, and holds a clue for us in this matter of the Temple and the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant. In II Chronicles 2:11-14 the D historian writes:
Then Hiram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon, Because the Lord hath loved his people, he has made you king over them. Hiram said moreover, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, that made heaven and earth, who has given to David the king a wise son, endued with prudence and understanding, who should build a house for the Lord, and a palace for his kingdom.

 

And now I have sent a skilled man, endued with understanding, even Huram-abi, my trusted counselor, the son of a woman of the daughters of DAN; his father was a man of Tyre. He is a trained worker in gold, silver, brass, iron, stone, and wood, in purple, blue, and crimson colors, and in fine linen; also to engrave any manner of engraving, and to carry out any design which shall be given to him, with your skilled men, and with the skilled men of my lord David your father.

The above is supposed to be a letter from Hiram of Tyre to Solomon, discussing the attributes of a particular man, the trusted counselor of the great Hiram, who is being sent to help the son of David as a great favor. This man is presented as a great designer and architect. He is named, and his mother is designated as being of the tribe of Dan. He is going to be the architect of the Temple of Solomon. In other words, he is the model for the archetypal “great architectHiram Abiff of Masonic lore.
So, what is the problem?
Look at this next excerpt from Exodus 31:1-7:

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise skilful works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in bronze, and in cutting of stones for setting, and in carving of wood, to work in all manner of craftsmanship.

 

And behold, I have appointed with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of DAN; and to all who are wise hearted I have given wisdom and ability to make all that I have commanded you: The tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furniture of the tent…

The above description of the command to build the Tent of Meeting and the Ark sounds almost identical to the purported letter from Hiram to Solomon, even including strong similarities in the names of the principal worker: Huram-abi of the tribe of Dan has become Hur of the tribe of Judah:

And Bezalel the son Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses. And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan an engraver, and a skillful craftsman, and an embroiderer in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and fine linen.

The next problem arises when we find in I Kings, chapter 7:13-21, the following most confusing information about Hiram:

And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and skill to work all works in brass.

And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work. For he cast two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high apiece: and a line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about. And he made two chapiters of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars: the height of the one chapiter was five cubits, and the height of the other chapiter was five cubits: And nets of checker work, and wreaths of chain work, for the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars; seven for the one chapiter, and seven for the other chapiter.

And he made the pillars, and two rows round about upon the one network, to cover the chapiters that were upon the top, with pomegranates: and so did he for the other chapiter. And the chapiters that were upon the top of the pillars were of lily work in the porch, four cubits. And the chapiters upon the two pillars had pomegranates also above, over against the belly which was by the network: and the pomegranates were two hundred in rows round about upon the other chapiter. And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz.

We see without too much difficulty that these passages are taken from the same source, though one refers to the building of a Temple and the other refers to the construction of a tent and an ark. One of the problems is, of course, that according to the Bible, the two events are separated by a very long period of time. We also note the curious name similarities between Huram-abi of the passage in II Chronicles, and Hur, the father of Bezalel, connected to Aholiab of the tribe of Dan.

 

Knight-Jadczyk does not help her thesis by trying to connect two different names, as follows:

 

Also curious is the name of Bezalel, which is so similar to Jezebel, who we have tentatively identified as the Phoenician princess, daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre. More curious still is the claim of the Dan inscription that, in the destruction of the City of Dan, the House of David was destroyed. What was the connection of the Tribe of Dan to the House of the Beloved? Were they, as it seems from these clues, one and the same?

 

Bezalel (בְּצַלְאֵל) means “under the protection of God”, whereas Jezebel (אִיזֶבֶל), of dubious meaning, may be “unexalted”, “un-husbanded” (hardly seems appropriate, though).

For another view of Jezebel, however, see my:

 

Is El Amarna’s “Baalat Neše” Biblically Identifiable?

http://www.academia.edu/26077125/Is_El_Amarna_s_Baalat_Ne%C5%A1e_Biblically_Identifiable

 

Ray Dillard more sensibly, I think, has, whilst appreciating the parallels between the Exodus and Chronicles accounts, understood that the latter was modelling itself upon the earlier one (http://revmarple.com/chronicle-s-solomon/):

 

…. The third model is Solomon and Huram-abi as the new Bezalel and Oholiab.  Bezalel and Oholiab come from the story of the tabernacle, which I have noted before that the tabernacle story is a paradigm for the Chronicler’s Temple story in several ways.  Solomon is the new Bezalel as can be seen by the way both were singled out as chosen by God by name, both were of the tribe of Judah, and both get wisdom from God for this work (tabernacle/Temple construction).  Bezalel is only mentioned outside of Exodus in Chronicles – 1 Chron 2:20 and 2 Chron 1:5.  Indeed, Solomon goes seeking God at the altar built by Bezalel when he was given wisdom for building.  Of course, Kings told us about Solomon’s legendary wisdom in general, but Chronicles is very specific that it was wisdom for this task.  Thus Hiram does not praise God for giving David “a wise son over this great people” (1 Kings 5) but ”a wise son who will build” (2 Chron 2).

Huram-abi is also styled as the new Oholiab.  Chronicles does this by making three changes – as Dillard says, “arrival time, skill inventory, and ancestry.”  Kings only tells us about Huram-abi after the temple and palace were finished and Huram-abi only appears to cast bronze. Chronicles tells us that Huram-abi was involved from the beginning (like Oholiab) and that he did more than just cast bronze – in fact, he is given the skill inventory of Bezalel and Oholiab in Chronicles.  Moreover, Kings tells us that his mother was a widow from Naphtali but Chronicles says she was a widow from Dan (like Oholiab).

 

Amenhotep and Amenemope

Published May 30, 2016 by amaic

 by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

The suggestion may be worth making that Amenhotep son of Hapu could be the same philosophically-minded scribe as the Hebrew Proverbs-influenced sage, Amenemope, for whom (auto)biographical details are almost completely lacking.

  

 

 

Introduction

 

According to the following article (http://www.sofiatopia.org/maat/amen_em_apt.htm), Amenemope [Amen-em-apt] “may have been a contemporary of Amenhotep, son of Hapu”, and, furthermore, the two names may be compatible:

 

2 The person of Amen-em-apt and his time.

► a poetical name & family for a wise man ?

The sage of our instruction is called Amen-em-apt, son of Kanakht, may have been a contemporary of Amenhotep, son of Hapu. He could also have been a literary figure used by a wise Ramesside scribe. Except for “overseer of fields” (1:13) and “scribe who determined the offerings for all the gods” (1:22), no other of the title cited by our sage are found on the monuments or papyri! His titles seem paraphrases in literary, poetical form.

 

Let us analyze our sage’s poetical name: Amen-em-apt, son of Kanakht, husband of Tawosre, and father of many children, the youngest being Hor-em-maakher, the recipient of the wisdom teachings of his father, a series of living pictures dealing with the “teaching for life”, enabling everybody to receive the greatest gift of god, namely Maat, justice & truth, nurtured on the Nile over many centuries.

 

“Amen-em-apt” (“Amun in Karnak”) can be found from the XVIIIth Dynasty to Ptolemaic times (Amenophis or Amenemope). It appears that several wise men of Egypt bore this name: “Amenemopi”, author of some proverbs written on the back of the Budge Papyrus, “Amenhotep, son of Hapu”, a learned scribe and counselor of Amenhotep III, and our “Amen-em-apt, son of Kanakht”.

 

“Apt” (“ipt”) means “count, calculate, reckon”. The name “Amen-em-apt”, ending with the determinative of “place” (O1), is suggestive of the controller of the measure and recorder of the markers on the borders of the fields mentioned in the prologue.

“Kanakht” or “Strong Bull” is unusual as a name, but a regular part of Pharaoh’s Horus name throughout the New Kingdom. “Tawosre” (“the powerful”) is frequent in the XVIIIth Dynasty and born by a queen of the XIXth, consort of Pharaoh Seti II. In the New Kingdom, “Hor-em-maakher” or “Horus of the Horizon” (Harmachis), was identified with the sphinx at Giza, looking toward the eastern horizon. The name dates as far back as the XIIth Dynasty, and seems to appear in the Saite period as well as in early Ptolemaic documents.

[End of quote]

 

Whilst the Egyptian names of the parents of Amenemope, Kanakht and Tawosre, differ from those known for the parents of Amenhotep, namely, Hapu and Itu, the latter two may be non-Egyptian names. For Amenhotep, I have tentatively identified as the Jewish king, Asa, whose father was (Greek) Abiu (= Hapu?), in Hebrew, Abijah:

 

King Asa Like Solomon a Steward for Pharaoh

 

https://www.academia.edu/25569047/King_Asa_Like_Solomon_a_Steward_for_Pharaoh

 

Earlier in the 18th dynasty, during the reigns of the Thutmoside pharaohs, including Hatshepsut, the wisdom writings (Psalms, Proverbs) and (love) poetry of kings David and Solomon – and indeed various Torah precepts and images as well – had been overflowing into Egypt. See my:

 

Solomon and Sheba

 

https://www.academia.edu/3660164/Solomon_and_Sheba

 

And it would only be expected, if Amenhotep son of Hapu really were Asa, a descendant of David and Solomon, that such Hebrew influence would continue into the reigns of pharaohs Amenhotep III and IV Akhnaton – whose Sun Hymn, as we saw, famously mirrors Psalm 104.

Now the wisdom writing of Amenemope is famous for its resemblance to the Hebrew Proverbs. But, typically, scholars would give precedence to the non-bliblical writings. For example (https://scotteriology.wordpress.com/2008/06/27/a-reflection-on-proverbs-and-amenemope/):

 

Scholars have long noticed the many similarities between the book of Proverbs, specifically chapters 22:17-24:22, and the Egyptian book The Instruction of Amenemope. While there have been different proposals as to who borrowed from whom, the general consensus seems to be that the Hebrew author(s) borrowed from Amenemope.

This ‘expert’ tendency sorely needs to be turned around!

There is a continuity here, because the instructions of Amenemope are also likened to those of Ptahhotep (biblical Joseph), who well pre-dated the Solomonic era.

Here in the very Solomon-like Proverbs of Amenemope, we may have some of the lost Instructions and precepts of Amenhotep son of Hapu.

 

Give thine ears, hear what is said, give thy mind to interpret them; to put them in your heart is good.

 

Bow down thine ear and hear the words of the wise and apply thine heart unto my knowledge (xxii. 17).

 

Remove not the boundary stone on the boundaries of the fields and displace not the measuring cord, be not covetous of a yard of ploughland and tear not down the widow’s boundary.

 

Be not covetous of the poor man’s goods and hunger not for his bread.

Set not the balance wrongly, tamper not with the weights, reduce not the portions of the corn measure.

 

Bring nobody into misfortune before the judges and warp not justice.

Ridicule not the blind man nor be scornful of any dwarf, render not vain the intentions of the lame.

 

Senenmut and Amenhotep son of Hapu

Published May 25, 2016 by amaic

 Statue of Senenmut and Neferure

by

 Damien F. Mackey

  

 

The career of Amenhotep son of Hapu seems to have been

closely modelled on that of Senenmut.

  

 

Amenhotep son of Hapu was a highly influential figure, whose fame reached down even into Ptolemaïc times. Horemheb, for one, may have been stylistically influenced by Amenhotep. For according to W. Smith and W. Simpson (The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt, 1998, p.195): “The large grey granite statue of Horemheb in the pose of a scribe … is related stylistically to those of Amenhotep son of Hapu … Horemheb has the same plump, well-fed body and wears a long wig similar to that of the aged wise man …”.

Who really was this Amenhotep son of Hapu, upon whom there were bestowed “unprecedented” honours, investing him with virtually regal status?

 

Statuary and Privileges

 

Joann Fletcher offers us a glimpse of his extraordinary power (Egypt’s Sun King. Amenhotep III, Duncan Baird, 2000, p. 51):

 

In an unprecedented move, Amenhotep III gave extensive religious powers to his closest official and namesake, Amenhotep son of Hapu, not only placing the scribe’s statuary throughout Amun’s temple, but also granting his servant powers almost equal to his own: inscriptions on the statues state that Amenhotep son of Hapu would intercede with Amun himself on behalf of those who approached. The king’s chosen man, who was not a member of Amun’s clergy, could act as intermediary between the people and the gods on the king’s behalf, bypassing the priesthood altogether.

[End of quote]

 

In light of what we learned, however, in:

 

Solomon and Sheba

 

https://www.academia.edu/3660164/Solomon_and_Sheba

 

the powers accorded by pharaoh Amenhotep III to his namesake, the son of Hapu, were not “unprecedented”. All of this – and perhaps even more – had already been bestowed upon Senenmut, the ‘power behind the throne’ of Pharaoh Hatshepsut. I have identified this Senenmut as King Solomon in Egypt.

 

We read in that article of Senenmut’s quasi-royal honours (compare son of Hapu’s “virtually regal status” above):

 

  1. SENENMUT IN HATSHEPSUT’S

KINGSHIP (REGNAL YEARS 7-16)

Hatshepsut’s Coronation

 

In about the 7th year of Thutmose III, according to Dorman [52], Hatshepsut had herself crowned king, assum­ing the name Maatkare or Make-ra (‘True is the heart of Ra’). In the present scheme, this would be close to Solomon’s 30th regnal year. From then on, Hatshepsut is referred to as ‘king’, sometimes with the pronoun ‘she’ and sometimes ‘he’, and depicted in the raiment of a king. She is called the daughter of Amon-Ra – but in the picture of her birth a boy is moulded by Khnum, the shaper of human beings (i.e. Amon-Ra) [53].

According to Dorman, Senenmut was present at Hatshep­sut’s coronation and played a major rôle there [54]. On one statue [55] he is given some unique titles, which Berlandini-Grenier [56] identifies with the official responsible for the ritual clothing of the Queen ‘the stolist of Horus in privacy’, ‘keeper of the diadem in adorning the king’ and ‘he who covers the double crown with red linen’. Winlock was startled that Senenmut had held so many unique offices in Egypt, including ‘more intimate ones like those of the great nobles of France who were honored in being allowed to assist in the most intimate details of the royal toilet at the king’s levees’ [57]. The rarity of the stolist titles suggested to Dorman [58] ‘a one-time exercise of Senenmut’s function of stolist and that prosopographical conclusions might be drawn’, i.e., he had participated in Hatshepsut’s coronation.

….

 

And, even more startling:

 

…. of special interest is the astronomical information in tomb 353, particularly the ceiling of Chamber A [75]. Senenmut’s ceiling is the earliest astronomical ceiling known. We are reminded again of Solomon’s encyclopaedic knowledge of astronomy and calendars (Wisdom 7:17-19). The ceiling is divided into two parts by transverse bands of texts, the central section of which contains the names ‘Hatshepsut’ and ‘Senenmut’ [76]. The southern half contains a list of decans derived from coffins of the Middle Kingdom period that had served as ‘a prototype’ for a family of decanal lists that survived until the Ptolemaïc period; whilst ‘The northern half is decorated with the earliest preserved depiction of the northern constellations; four planets (Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn) are also portrayed with them, and the lunar calendar is represented by twelve large circles’. [77]

In tomb 71 at Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, · the sarcophagus itself is carved of quartzite in a unique oval form adapted from the royal cartouche shape. Dorman [78] says ‘… the sarcophagus seemed to be yet another proof … of the pretensions Senenmut dares to exhibit, skirting dangerously close to prerogatives considered to be exclusively royal’. Winlock [79] would similarly note that it was ‘significantly designed as almost a replica of royal sarcophagi of the time’,

  • one of the painted scenes features a procession of Aegean (Greek) tribute bearers, the first known representation of these people [80] – the only coherent scene on the north wall of the axial corridor portrays three registers of men dragging sledges that provide shelter for statues of Senenmut, who faces the procession of statues.

Senenmut had presented to Hatshepsut ‘an extraordinary request’ for ‘many statues of every kind of precious hard stone’, to be placed in every temple and shrine of Amon-Ra [81]. His request was granted. Meyer [82] pointed to it as an indication of his power.

 

[End of quotes]

Titles

 

Amenhotep son of Hapu, likewise, had some most imposing titles

(http://euler.slu.edu/~bart/egyptianhtml/kings%20and%20Queens/Amenhotep-Hapu.html):

 

Hereditary prince, count, sole companion, fan-bearer on the king’s right hand, chief of the king’s works even all the great monuments which are brought, of every excellent costly stone; steward of the King’s-daughter of the king’s-wife, Sitamen, who liveth; overseer of the cattle of Amon in the South and North, chief of the prophets of Horus, lord of Athribis, festival leader of Amon. ….

Several inscriptions outline his career and show how he rose through the ranks.

Amenhotep started off as a king’s scribe as mentioned on his statue:

 

I was appointed to be inferior king’s-scribe; I was introduced into the divine book, I beheld the excellent things of Thoth; I was equipped with their secrets; I opened all their [passages (?)]; one took counsel with me on all their matters.

 

After distinguishing himself, Amenhotep was promoted to the position of Scribe of Recruits.

 

… he put all the people subject to me, and the listing of their number under my control, as superior king’s-scribe over recruits. I levied the (military) classes of my lord, my pen reckoned the numbers of millions; I put them in [classes (?)] in the place of their [elders (?)]; the staff of old age as his beloved son. I taxed the houses with the numbers belonging thereto, I divided the troops (of workmen) and their houses, I filled out the subjects with the best of the captivity, which his majesty had captured on the battlefield. I appointed all their troops (Tz.t), I levied ——-. I placed troops at the heads of the way(s) to turn back the foreigners in their places.

 

Amenhotep mentions being on a campaign to Nubia.

 

I was the chief at the head of the mighty men, to smite the Nubians [and the Asiatics (?)], the plans of my lord were a refuge behind me; [when I wandered (?)] his command surrounded me; his plans embraced all lands and all foreigners who were by his side. I reckoned up the captives of the victories of his majesty, being in charge of them.

 

Later he was promoted to “Chief of all works”, thereby overseeing the building program of Pharaoh Amenhotep III

His connections to court finally led to Amenhotep being appointed as Steward to Princess-Queen Sitamen.

[End of quotes]

 

Official Relationship to Amon

 

The son of Hapu was, as we read above, “overseer of the cattle of Amon in the South and North … [and] festival leader of Amon”. ….

Now regarding Senenmut, as I wrote in “Solomon and Sheba”:

 

Historians claim ‘Steward of Amon’ was the most illustri­ous of all Senenmut’s titles. This would be fitting if he were Solomon, and Amon-Ra were the Supreme God, the ‘King of Gods’, as the Egyptians called him. Senenmut was also ‘overseer of the garden of Amon’ (see Appendix A). Like Solomon, a king who also acted as a priest, Senenmut’s chief rôle was religious. He was in charge of things pertaining to Amon and was ‘chief of all the prophets’. Solomon, at the beginning of his co-regency with David, had prayed for wisdom and a discerning mind (I Kings 3:9). On the completion of the Temple, he stood ‘before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, [he] spread forth his hands towards heaven’ (I Kings 8:22). Likewise, Senenmut is depicted in Hatshepsut’s temple with arms up-stretched to heaven, praying to Hathor, the personification of wisdom.

 

Thomas C. Hamilton has provided this most perceptive comment about Amonism (Amunism) in a revised context (http://kabane52.tumblr.com/post/132812715270/amunism-and-atenism):

 

Amunism and Atenism

 

Akhenhaten is widely known as the “monotheistic Pharaoh” and his cult of the Aten has absurdly been described as the “first monotheism.” This ignores the abundant evidence that monotheism is the earliest religion of the human race, as was documented in detail by Wilhelm Schmidt in his twelve volume work on the subject, popularly summarized lately by Winfried Corduan. My intent, however, is not to complain about that. Instead, it is to present a revised view of what Atenism was on a revised chronology, largely drawing on the fascinating work of traditional Catholic scholar Damien Mackey.

 

I have pointed out in the past that the descriptions of Amun in Egyptian literature converge in fascinating ways with the biblical description of God. Amun-Re is a sun-god. The sun, of course, is one of the Lord’s chief symbols in Scripture, and the nations worshiped God as the “God of Heaven.” This is why the phenomenon of original monotheism is called the “sky-god” phenomenon. That a god was associated with the sun does not mean that he had always been identified with the sun. Indeed, I think the “fusion” of Amun and Re was the recovery of a pristine monotheistic religion. Just as Yahweh and El were two titles for one God, so also Amun and Re. Imhotep, whom I have identified with Joseph, served as High Priest of Re at Heliopolis.

[End of quote]

 

The career of Amenhotep son of Hapu in relation to Egypt reminds me in many ways of that of that other quasi-royal (but supposed commoner), Senenmut, or Senmut, at the time of Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Amenhotep son of Hapu is in fact so close a replica of Senenmut that I would have to think that he had modelled himself greatly on the latter.

Senenmut was to pharaoh Hatshepsut also a Great Steward, and he was to princess Neferure her mentor and steward.

So was Amenhotep son of Hapu to pharaoh Amenhotep III a Great Steward, and he was to princess Sitamun (Sitamen) her mentor and steward.

Again, as Senenmut is considered by scholars to have been a commoner, who, due to his great skills and character, rose up through the ranks to become scribe and architect and steward of Amun, so is exactly the same said about Amenhotep son of Hapu.

Each seemed to be a real ‘power behind the throne’.

Son of Hapu, like Senenmut, is thought not to have (married or to have) had any children.

 

Prophet Jeremiah and “Savonarola”

Published May 18, 2016 by amaic

Girolamo Savonarola

 

Part One: And Jewish Abravanel

  

by

 Damien F. Mackey

  

Savonarola bears some uncanny likenesses to the Jewish Abravanel,

both of these also sharing similarities with the ancient Jewish prophet Jeremiah.

 

 

Introduction

 

Such can be the similarities in these cases that it would almost seem as if the biblical prophet Jeremiah (c. 600 BC) has been ghostly projected to the 1400’s AD in the form of the generic Jeremiah-like Jew, “Don Isaac ben Judah Abravanel”, who in turn can remind one of the Italian, Savonarola (1452-1498 AD).

The prophet Jeremiah appears not to have received a full martyrdom (despite the tradition that he was murdered – stoned to death, or poisoned), though he did suffer beating, imprisonment and near death in a cistern. The sorely-tried Jeremiah did experience many ‘martyrdoms’, however, and The Jerome Biblical Commentary (19:98) actually designates the substantial block of Jeremiah 36:1-45:5, as the “Martyrdom of Jeremiah”.

Savonarola was, for his part “a martyr of preaching”.

The name Girolamo (Savonarola) is just the Italianised version of Jerome, which is like Jeremiah. He, in fact, is often called Jerome Savonarola.

Now, Savonarola is thought to have had a Jewish contemporary, Abravanel, whose name has some similarity to the Italian name of Savonarola. The full name of this very Jeremiah-like Jew was “Don Isaac ben Judah Abravanel”.

 

A Jeremiah Type

The fiery Renaissance preacher, a Dominican friar, Fra Girolamo, pronouncing doom upon Florence, is a Jeremiah type, ‘coming in the spirit of Jeremiah’.

Commentators have readily noticed this. One has only to read, for instance, Savonarola’s purely Jeremian words (as taken from Jonathan Kirsch’s A History of the End of the World, Harper, 2006, p. 98):

 

I have sometimes thought, as I came down from the pulpit, that it would be better if I talked no more and preached no more about these things – better to give up and leave it all to God …. But whenever I went up into the pulpit again, I was unable to contain myself. To speak the Lord’s words has been for me a burning fire within my bones and my heart. It was unbearable. I could not speak. I was on fire. I was alight with the spirit of the Lord.

 

The prophet Jeremiah had sais almost identically (Jeremiah 20:9): “If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot’.”

Just as striking are T. Cheyne’s comparisons between Jeremiah and Savonarola, in whom, he writes, “several of the old Hebrew prophets seemed united” (Jeremiah: His Life and Times, Google Books, pp. 203-205, emphasis added):

 

PER CRUCEM AD LUCEM

 

… I would rather compare Jeremiah with one who was mighty both in words and in deeds (Acts vii. 22), and whom a sympathetic poetess has painted perhaps more truly than her sister-artist in prose.’

Need I mention his name?

“This was he, Savonarola, who, while Peter sank With his whole boat-load, cried courageously, ‘Wake, Christ; wake, Christ!’ Who also by a princely deathbed cried, ‘Loose Florence, or God will not loose thy soul!’ Then fell back the Magnificent and died Beneath the star-look shooting from the cowl, Which turned to wormwood-bitterness the wide Deep sea of his ambitions”.

I admit that Jeremiah had not the hopefulness described in the opening lines; Jerusalem was a less promising field of work than, with all its faults, Florence was in the age of Lorenzo. But do not the closing lines give almost a reflexion of Jeremiah’s attitude towards Jehoiakim [king of Jerusalem]? Savonarola had, I suppose, a richer nature than Jeremiah. In him several of the old Hebrew prophets seemed united. He had the scathing indignation of Amos, and the versatility of Isaiah, as well as the tenderness of Jeremiah. He differs most from the latter in two respects in his emphatic reassertion of the principle of theocratic legislation, and in his ultra-supernaturalistic theory of prophecy, which disturbed the simplicity of his faith in his own inspiration. Again and again, however, in his latter days, his preaching reminds us of Jeremiah’s. “Your sins,” he cries to the Florentines, “make me a prophet. . . . And if ye will not hear my words, I say unto you that I will be the prophet Jeremiah, who foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, and bewailed it when destroyed.” Like Jeremiah, he had many a sore inward struggle; “an inward fire,” he says, “consumeth my bones (comp. Jer. xx. 9), and compelleth me to speak.” Like Jeremiah, he was no respecter of persons; he fought bravely, and outwardly at least was defeated. Like Jeremiah, he foresaw the end of the struggle. “If you ask me in general” so he said, shortly before he was burned at the stake, in the convent-church of St. Mark’s “as to the issue of this struggle, I reply, Victory. If you ask me in a particular sense, I reply, Death. For the master who wields the hammer, when he has used it, throws it away. So He did with Jeremiah, whom He caused to be stoned at the end of his ministry. But Rome will not put out this fire, and if this be put out, God will light another, and indeed it is already lighted everywhere, only they perceive it not.”

It was winter both in Jeremiah’s time and in Savonarola’s. Which was the more favoured of these two heralds of spring? I think, Jeremiah, because his prophecy of spring was fulfilled, after a brief interval, to his own people. ….

[End of quote]

 

And indeed there does seem to be a distinct Jewish-Israelitish connection with Savonarola (who some even suspect was Jewish). It is with his Jewish contemporary, Abravanel, who can be somewhat like a ghostly projection of the real Jeremiah. Thus Benzion Netanyahu asks (in Don Isaac Abravanel: Statesman and Philosopher?, Cornell University Press, 5th edition, 1998, as quoted by Mor Altshuler at Haaretz.com Wed, January 19, 2011 Shvat 14, 5771. Emphasis added):

 

How did [Abravanel] this Jewish version of Savonarola, the fundamentalist monk who prophesied the fall of corrupt Rome-Babylonia, come up with the format for a democratic, constitutional Jewish state hundreds of years before one was established? Netanyahu believes he took his cue from the Venetian republic, which had democratic components not often seen in those days. Perhaps throwing off the yoke of this world made it easier for him to offer Europe in general, and the Jews in particular, an improved model of government that would only come into being centuries later. ….

 

[End of quote]

 

Netanyahu has even more to say about Savonarola as a veritable mirror-image of Abravanel. According to Todd Endelman (Comparing Jewish Societies, p. 85, n. 36, emphasis added:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Abrabanel&#8221): “Netanyahu notes the parallels between the prophecies of Savonarola and Abravanel. Often the only substantial difference is that one [Savonarola] is referring to the Florentines and Florence, while the other [Abravanel] is referring to the Jews and Jerusalem”.

Abravanel, then, is the prophet to the Jews, whilst Savonarola is a prophet to the Florentines. Hence Abravanel is the more accurate version of Jeremiah than is Savonarola because he, like Jeremiah, was an Israelite preaching to the Jews, and he was not physically martyred; whereas with Savonarola, a Catholic, he preached largely to the Catholics of Florence, with his life terminating in a real martyrdom.

But it is remarkable how closely the names accord: ‘Savonarola’ and ‘Abravanel’ (whose variants are Abrabanel, Abarbanel, Barbonel). He was a “Portuguese Jewish statesman, philosopher, Bible commentator, and financier of Lisbon and Venice” – belonging to a famous family of the time that claimed to trace its roots back to King David of the tribe of Judah.

The name ‘Isaac ben Judah Abravanel’ reads like (to me) a kind of generic Hebrew name, with the latter part, Abravanel, comprising Ab (father) Rabban (priest) and El (God). It may even be some sort of a title, since he is “commonly referred to as The Abarbanel”.

By de-Italianising the name, ‘Savonarola’, converting the ‘v’ to a ‘b’ and the ‘arola’ ending to a more Hebrew ‘arel’, we get Sabonarel, somewhat like Barbonel (Abravanel).

Due to lack of available data on the Jews of this time, a researcher such as Benzion Netanyahu has to attempt to tie together various disparate threads. Altshuler (op. cit.) tells of the difficulties here, where “Netanyahu takes advantage of the fact that he is a biographer, and hence endowed with hindsight”:

 

…. Jewish historical research is short on biographies despite their importance for understanding the spirit of the times, possibly because shifting attention from a person’s work to his private life was perceived as presumptuous in Jewish tradition. Source material from which one can assemble a solid picture of the lives of great Jews is rare. Benzion Netanyahu grappled with this paucity of Jewish sources by plumbing the archives of the European monarchies under which Abravanel lived, from documents on the Inquisition to the correspondence of Christian scholars. The outcome is a comprehensive, two-part biography divided into sections on Abravanel’s life with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and the annihilation of Jewish life in the Iberian Peninsula, and the evolution of Abravanel’s thinking. Combining these elements in one book allows Netanyahu to examine the relationship between the events of the time and Abravanel’s spiritual outlook. The conclusion he comes to is that Abravanel, in the face of this cruel and senseless expulsion, began to despair whether the world would ever operate in a logical and just manner. This despair led him to give up his rationalist approach to history and to base his political theories on messianic theocracy, launching the age of Jewish messianism and heralding European utopianism. Useless fire and brimstone. In the same way that Don Isaac Abravanel was an admirer of Maimonides, but had no qualms about exposing flaws in his thinking, Netanyahu lauds Abravanel’s greatness but is not afraid to point out his weaknesses. As a leader of Spanish Jewry, he failed in his primary mission: alerting the Jews to the fact that expulsion was imminent and that a safe haven should be sought elsewhere, perhaps in the Ottoman Empire, which Abravanel, as a diplomat, knew was more tolerant. Abravanel’s nonchalance proved tragic. ….

[End of quote]

 

The key phrase in the above is (I think) “the evolution of Abravanel’s thinking”.

Of Jeremiah it could largely be said, as Netanyahu writes of Abravanel, that he, “in the face of this cruel and senseless [he did warn of it, though] expulsion, began to despair whether the world would ever operate in a logical and just manner. This despair led him to give up his rationalist approach to history and to base his political theories on messianic theocracy, launching the age of Jewish messianism and heralding European [read Jewish] utopianism”. This could be considered an ‘evolution’ of Jeremiah’s thinking.

Abravanel also suffered a tri-part loss like the prophet Job (op. cit.):

 

…. Don Isaac Abravanel was born in 1437 to a wealthy and influential Jewish family in Spain that traced its ancestry back to King David. ….

…. [Abravanel] lost everything he had three times in a row − once when he fled to Portugal after his father converted to Christianity and the family went bankrupt; a second time in 1482, when he was accused of participating in a conspiracy of Portuguese nobles seeking to overthrow Juan II and was forced to take refuge in Spain; and a third time, in 1492, when the Jews were expelled from Spain.

 

The prophet Job, too, like Abravanel, had famously suffered three catastrophic losses ‘in a row’ (Job 1:13-19).

 

…. Thanks to his diplomatic and financial skills, [Abravanel] managed to recover each time. Latin, Portuguese, Castilian and Hebrew − he spoke them all fluently. He was a Jewish scholar, an expert in philosophy, including the works of Aristotle and the Arab philosophers Ibn Rushd and Ibn Sina − and knowledgeable in the sciences of his time − magic, medicine and astrology. His biblical exegesis put him on par with Rashi and the Ramban. His ability to spot contradictions in the writings of Maimonides led Rabbi Samuel David Luzzatto (Shadal) to describe him as the conqueror of the Jewish Aristotelians. As the author of a messianist trilogy, the historian Zeev Aescoly called him “the greatest codifier of messianism in his day”. If there was any Jew toward the end of the medieval period and the beginning of the modern period who deserved a royal title, it was Don Isaac Abravanel. ….

 

 

But what we also find is that Abravanel’s writings also greatly influenced Christians [certainly the case with the biblical prophet Jeremiah]. Wikipedia again:

 

…. Christian scholars appreciated the convenience of Abravanel’s commentaries, and often used them when preparing their own exegetical writing. This may have had something to do with Abravanel’s openness towards the Christian religion, since he worked closely with Messianic ideas found within Judaism. Because of this, Abravanel’s works were translated and distributed within the world of Christian scholarship.

 

Exegesis
His exegetical writings are set against a richly-conceived backdrop of the Jewish historical and sociocultural experience, and it is often implied that his exegesis was sculpted with the purpose of giving hope to the Jews of Spain that the arrival of the Messiah was imminent in their days. This idea distinguished him from many other philosophers of the age, who did not rely as heavily on Messianic concepts. Due to the overall excellence and exhaustiveness of Abrabanel’s exegetical literature, he was looked to as a beacon for later Christian scholarship, which often included the tasks of translating and condensing his works. ….

[End of quote]

Altshuler continues:

 

…. Many of the Jews of Spain fled to Portugal, falling into a trap: Juan II closed the borders and forced them to convert. Others were herded onto ships bound for the Mediterranean. Plague epidemics broke out on the overcrowded vessels, which were then refused entry to the ports of Italy. Only in Genoa were the passengers allowed to disembark for a short time, on a dock surrounded by water on three sides. “One might have mistaken them for ghosts”, an eyewitness wrote. “So emaciated they were, so funereal, their eyes sunken in their sockets. They could be taken for dead, if not for the fact that they were still able to move”.

 

Cf. Lamentations 2:10: “The elders of daughter Zion sit on the ground in silence; they have thrown dust on their heads and put on sackcloth; the young girls of Jerusalem have bowed their heads to the ground”.

 

2:11-12: “Infants and babies faint on the streets of the city. They cry to their mother, ‘Where is bread and wine?’ As they faint like the wounded in the streets of the city, as their life is poured out on their mothers’ bosom”.

 

4:7, 8: “Her princes …. Now their visage is blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets. Their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become as dry as wood”.

 

[Altshuler]: …. By the summer of 1492, in less than three months, the Jews of Spain, whose cultural achievements had been a beacon to the Jewish world for hundreds of years, were wiped out. ….

 

Netanyahu tells of Abravanel in words that could, in the main, be re-directed back to Jeremiah, but with one needing to replace all of the modern European history references now with ancient Jewish history and the Chaldeans. Thus the invader from across the Alps, Charles VIII of France takes the place of Nebuchednezzar the Chaldean invading from the north; Lorenzo ‘the Magnificent’ reminds (as according to Cheyne above) of king Jehoiakim of Jerusalem. Allow me to supply the parallels, of Abravanel, with both Jeremiah and with Savonarola:

 

…. Jews dwell securely in all the countries of Spain, feasting on delicacies in peace and tranquility.

(Jeremiah 6:14): “They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying “Peace, peace”, when there is no peace”.

 

…. The alarm should have sounded with the onset of the pogroms of 1391, which was followed by waves of forced conversion and reached a peak when the Inquisition was established, 11 years before the final expulsion edict. Despite centuries of oppression, the Jews of Spain dismissed the dangers and became hooked on the illusion that the pogroms were a lightening rod that would divert the hatred toward the converts and away from the Jews. ….

(Jeremiah 7:4): “Do not trust in the deceptive words: “This is the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord”.

 

…. It is an intriguing tale about a man who soars high and falls low, who watches helplessly as ships [in Jeremiah’s case, probably carts] laden with Jews sail [roll] off to their deaths, and who hobnobs with princes and dukes in the palaces of Naples and Venice.

Jeremiah mixed with high and low alike.

 

…. The drama reaches a pinnacle in the final chapters: Abravanel, shattered and depressed by his people’s fate, disgusted with the vanities and temptations of this world, consolidates a pessimistic view of the world as Sodom and Gomorrah, fated to be destroyed in an apocalyptic war.

Cf. Savonarola: “After Charles VIII of France [cf. Nebuchednezzar II the Chaldean] invaded Florence [Jerusalem] in 1494, the ruling Medici were overthrown and Savonarola [like Jeremiah] emerged as the new leader of the city, combining in himself the role of secular leader and priest. He set up a republic in Florence. Characterizing it as a “Christian and religious Republic,” one of its first acts was to make sodomy, previously punishable by fine, into a capital offence. Homosexuality had previously been tolerated in the city, and many homosexuals from the elite now chose to leave Florence. ….

(Jeremiah 23:14): “… the prophets of Jerusalem … all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah”.

(Lamentations 4:6): “For the chastisement of my people has been greater than Sodom”.

 

…. His belief in the end of history is supported by intricate eschatological calculations proving that sometime between 1501 and 1513, salvation will arrive: An end-of-days war between Christians and Muslims will destroy evil Rome; from beyond the Sambatyon [akin to the Euphrates] River a Jewish army of the Ten Tribes will arise and take revenge on the enemies of Israel; the dead will return to life, and the Messiah, now revealed, will lead the last revolution − the revolution of the Kingdom of Heaven. ….

So did Savonarola foresee a New Jerusalem?: The reward for the self-sacrifice of the Florentines, he promised, would be the elevation of the city of Florence to the stature of the New Jerusalem, a model of Christian purity and the capital of the millennial kingdom.

And Jeremiah?: (Jeremiah 31:31): “The days are surely coming says the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel and the house of Judah”. (38, 40): “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when the city [of Jerusalem] shall be rebuilt … sacred to the Lord. It shall never again be uprooted or overthrown”

 

…. This era of geographical exploration and the sense of space conjured up by the New World, which contrasted starkly with the gloomy prospects of the Jews, prompted Abravanel to fantasize about a mythical solution for his persecuted people. In this Jewish theocracy that he predicted would arise at any moment, he envisioned a humane and democratic government in which everyone would have the right to vote; in which the judges would be chosen by the people rather than the king; in which officials would serve the public, not their superiors.

(Jeremiah 33:14-15): “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land”.

 

One has to ask why God would so favour the city of Florence of all places, so as to make of it a ‘New Jerusalem’. Jerusalem renewed, yes. Or Rome, the eternal city. These two holy cities. But Florence?

 

Like Jeremiah, Savonarola was a rather reluctant prophet.

He burned to engage in the work of saving souls, yet shrank for some years from entering on the priestly office. This might be ascribed to his sense of its responsibility and of the high qualifications which it demanded. No preparatory studies, no Church ceremonial, neither Pope nor prelate, he boldly averred, could make a man a priest; personal holiness, in his judgment ….

(Jeremiah 1:6): “Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a [Hebrew na’ar, usually translated as] ‘boy’.”.

 

As a result, Savonarola is always cast as being lambasted for being “ungainly, as well as being a poor orator”. But it was Jeremiah’s actual words that were ridiculed, with his listeners mocking his mantra: ‘Terror on every side’.

 

Jeremiah also, like Savonarola, had a disdain for both priests and prophets. And so did Abravanel (though supposedly of the Catholic clergy). Thus Netanayahu (Don Isaac Abravanel … p. 323):

 

An echo of Savonarola’s campaign against official Rome may be heard in the following statement of Abravanel: “All the priests of Rome and her Bishops pursue avarice and bribery and are not concerned with their religion, for the sign of heresy is upon their forehead”. (Salvations, p. 3, 4a).

Now this is again an entirely Jeremian image in relation to Unfaithful Israel (Jeremiah 3:3). “You have the forehead of a whore, you refuse to be ashamed” (the image taken up again later by St. John in Revelation 17:5).

Indeed, Savonarola called the Vatican “…. a house of prostitution where harlots sit upon the throne of Solomon and signal to passersby: whoever can pay enters and does what he wishes”.

 

But Jeremiah was, like Savonarola, virtually the only good man left, so he had to be chosen. “Search …. If you can find one person who acts justly and seeks truth …” (Jeremiah 5:1).

Savonarola is supposed to have claimed: “It is not the cowl that makes the monk – being not only the highest qualification for that office, but one indispensable and essential”.

This qualification he is thought to have possessed in a pre-eminent degree. In no Church has there been many men so holy. Fra Sebastiano da Brescia, a very devout Dominican, who was vicar of the congregation of Lombardy, and for a long time his confessor, declared his belief that Savonarola had never committed – what he calls – a mortal sin, and bears the highest possible testimony to the purity of his life. …. Perhaps his reluctance arose also from the degraded position into which those who filled it had brought the sacred office. So openly abandoned to vice were most of them at that time, that he was in the habit of saying, “If you wish your son to be a wicked man, make him a priest !” ….

 

Savonarola, like Jeremiah, would suffer greatly for this: “Little did this gentle spirit, lover of peace as of purity, dream, as he entered the gates of the monastery, of a day when he would exclaim with Jeremiah, “Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife, a man of contention to the whole earth!” [a reference to Jeremiah 15:10]. But so it turned out”.

One could do worse than to view, in a Jeremian context, the apocalyptical warnings of Abravanel and Savonarola and their denunciations of the rulers and the clergy.

 

Early years

Savonarola’s stance against morally corrupt clergy was initially manifested in his poem on the destruction of the world entitled De Ruina Mundi (On the Downfall of the World), written at the age of 20. It was at this stage that he also began to develop his expression of moral conscience, and in 1475 his poem De Ruina Ecclesiae (On the Downfall of the Church) displayed his contempt for the Roman Curia by terming it ‘a false, proud archaic wench’.

Cf. Jeremiah’s references to Jerusalem and Israel as ‘playing the harlot’ (2:20; 3:1, 6, 8).

 

Friar
Finally in 1482 the Order dispatched him to Florence, the ‘city of his destiny’. He made no impression on Florence in the 1480s [supposedly because he was not a good orator], and his departure in 1487 went unnoticed. He returned to Bologna where he became ‘master of studies’.

Savonarola returned to Florence in 1490 at the behest of Count Pico della Mirandola. There he began to preach passionately about the Last Days ….

(Jeremiah 23:20): “The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his mind. In the latter days you will understand it clearly”.

 

Part Two: Candidate for Sainthood?

  

Savonarola a most controversial holy man.

  

 

Jesuits and Dominicans square off anew over Savonarola

BY JOHN L. ALLEN JR.

NCR Staff

 

http://natcath.org/NCR_Online/archives2/1999a/012299/012299g.htm

More than 500 years after being burned at the stake as a heretic, Dominican Friar Girolamo Savonarola — preacher of fiery apocalyptic sermons, de facto ruler of Florence and today a candidate for sainthood — can still stir deep passions.

A public tiff in Italy between members of the Dominicans and the Jesuits over the campaign to canonize Savonarola is the latest proof of his enduring power to divide.

Despite having called the church of his day a “harlot” and a “monster of abomination” — and despite charges of having administered a fundamentalist theocracy in Florence, Italy, analogous to Afghanistan under the Taliban — Savonarola seems a serious candidate for a halo.

Last year [1998] Cardinal Silvano Piovanelli of Florence convened a historical commission in conjunction with the 500th anniversary of Savonarola’s death. Italian media accounts suggest the commission is likely to issue a positive report, which could clear the way for an investigation by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

This past summer L’Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Vatican, paid tribute to Savonarola. The paper called him “a tireless preacher for moral reform of civil society.”

But Savonarola still has influential detractors — the most visible of whom happen to be Jesuits, the old rivals of the monk’s Dominican order.

An editorial in the 1999 New Year issue of the influential Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica said that “an indiscriminate revisionist spirit” was at work in the effort to rehabilitate the controversial monk.

He was a “contradictory man who inspired opposing passions,” the magazine said. He was capable of “deceit.” It is “probably impossible to give a definitive opinion” about him, the article concluded — strongly hinting that the requisite certainty of Savonarola’s holiness could not be found.

Jesuits ‘deceived’?

In an interview with an English journalist, Jesuit Fr. Ferdinando Castelli, a writer for La Civiltà Cattolica, was more direct. “He rebelled against ecclesiastical authority,” he said of Savonarola. “We do not believe that he was a religious man worthy of sanctification,” Castelli told London’s Daily Telegraph on Jan. 7.

Meanwhile the Italian newspaper La Stampa quoted a Dominican member of the historical commission in Florence on Jan. 2 as saying that it might be the Jesuits who are “deceived.”

“Savonarola was not a heretic but was burnt for his obstinate fidelity to the gospel,” Fr. Tito Centi said. “He stood against the atrocious agents of Alexander VI, who inflicted every type of persecution on the friar in order to remove him, even unto death.”

“The Jesuits have been anti-Savonarola from the foundations of their order,” Centi said, referring to Ignatius of Loyola’s insistence that Savonarola’s works be burned. Ignatius saw Savonarola as an enemy of the papacy.

The work of the historical commission to date has shown that “the old suspicions of the Jesuits are totally unfounded,” Centi told La Stampa. “These charges repeated over the centuries can be discounted, though they are disagreeable because they come from brothers in the faith.”

Centi’s criticism was echoed by Professor Claudio Leonardi, a Florentine advocate of Savonarola, who also spoke to the Daily Telegraph. “Whoever wrote the [La Civiltà Cattolica] article … has never read the works of Savonarola and was influenced more by subjective considerations than historic reality,” he said.

Such divided opinions reflect the complexities of Savonarola’s life and legacy. From 1494-1498, Savonarola’s followers controlled Florence after they chased out the successor to Lorenzo (de Medici) the Magnificent. During those four years the city was rocked by running clashes between the pro- and anti-Savonarola factions.

Savonarola captured hearts as a preacher. His powerful apocalyptic visions warned that God would soon scour the world and that Florence, God’s chosen city, had better be ready. Contemporaries speak of the spellbinding power of these sermons; Savonarola’s followers were called piagnoni, or weepers, because he so often moved them to tears.

As evidence of his powerful charisma, Savonarola managed to convince the highly humanistic Florentines to surrender their mirrors, dice, cards, cosmetics and nude paintings and burn them all in the Piazza di Signoria in a towering bonfire of the vanities. He also demanded repression of homosexuals. It is these aspects of his reign that have led to comparisons with the Taliban or to Iran under the ayatollahs.

But Savonarola was also an early democrat, pushing for the creation of a citizen’s council that would form city policy.

He was also a friend to the poor. Under Savonarola, the city created a building society that offered loans at rates well below what was demanded by Florence’s private bankers — 5 to 7 percent, as opposed to the 32.5 percent that had been standard practice under the de Medicis. One of the charges that led to Savonarola’s downfall was that he impoverished the city by refusing to ever turn away a beggar.

He also patronized the famous painters of his day. Michelangelo would later say that when he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, it was the sermons of Savonarola he heard in his mind.

Savanarola was a fierce critic of ecclesiastical corruption, and this is perhaps the most contested aspect of his legacy for those proposing to canonize him. He referred to Alexander VI as a “broken tool,” accusing the pope of practicing simony and of dubious personal morality. He defied the pope by aligning Florence with the French king, Charles, rather than the “Holy Alliance” of Italian city-states championed by Alexander. Toward the end, Savonarola called for a church council that would depose Alexander.

There was never serious question about Savonarola’s doctrine — his chief theological work, The Triumph of the Cross, is widely viewed as orthodox. In 1558, Pope Paul IV — who had served in the court of Alexander VI — said that Savonarola was not a heretic. The question for examiners today is not doctrinal but disciplinary: whether Savonarola defied the authority of the pope in impermissible fashion.

In English the name of Savonarola may be synonymous with religious fanaticism, but many Italians, and Florentines in particular, have a different image.

In an age of corruption, Savonarola represented honest government, making him something of a patron for the current Italian drive to break the grip of cronyism and political patronage that has long dominated their politics.

In a move laden with symbolism, prosecutor Gherardo Colombo took part in a ceremony in Florence on May 23, 1998, marking the anniversary of Savonarola’s death. Colombo is a key figure in Italy’s “clean hands” anti-graft campaign.

Popular with reformers

Savonarola also defended rule by the people against the feudal dynasties and papal politics that for centuries impeded Italian nationalism. As an ecclesial dissenter, Savonarola is popular among today’s Catholics who believe the church could stand some reform.

There are even those who argue that had the Renaissance papacy been a bit more open to Savonarola’s critique, the church might have been spared the agony of the Protestant Reformation.

Whatever the case, Savonarola’s most ardent supporters seem unlikely to be discouraged by anything historical research might uncover. He was a “man of faith who loved Jesus Christ,” according to Dominican Fr. Armando Verde in the International Herald Tribune. Savonarola may have made compromises in the rough-and-tumble of Florentine politics, Verde said, “but on the ethical and spiritual level, absolutely never.”

National Catholic Reporter, January 22, 1999

Such fiery preaching was not uncommon at the time, but a series of circumstances quickly brought Savonarola great success. The first disaster to give credibility to Savonarola’s apocalyptic message was the Medici family’s weakening grip on power owing to the French-Italian wars.

In Jeremiah’s age, the troubles began firstly with the Egyptians and then the Chaldeans.

The flowering of expensive Renaissance art and culture paid for by wealthy Italian families now seemed to mock the growing misery in Italy, creating a backlash of resentment among the people.

The second disaster was the appearance of syphilis (or the “French pox”). Finally, the year 1500 was approaching, which may have brought about a mood of millennialism. In minds of many, the Last Days were impending and Savonarola was the prophet of the day.[1] His parish church in San Marco was crowded to over-flowing during his celebration of Mass and at his sermons. Savonarola was a preacher, not a theologian. He preached that Christian life involved being good and practicing the virtues. He did not seek to create a religious group separate from the Catholic Church. Rather, he wanted to correct the transgressions of worldly popes and secularized members of the Church’s wayward Curia. Lorenzo de Medici, the previous ruler of Florence and patron of many Renaissance artists, was also a former patron of Savonarola. Eventually, Lorenzo and his son Piero de Medici became targets of Savonarola’s preaching.

[End of quote]

 

Now, continuing on from Part One:

 

Leader of Florence

In 1497, he and his followers carried out the Bonfire of the Vanities. They sent boys from door to door collecting items associated with moral laxity: mirrors, cosmetics, lewd pictures, pagan books, immoral sculptures (which he wanted to be replaced by statues of the saints and modest depictions of biblical scenes), gaming tables, chess pieces, lutes and other musical instruments, fine dresses, women’s hats, and the works of immoral and ancient poets, and burnt them all in a large pile in the Piazza della Signoria of Florence.[2] Many fine Florentine Renaissance artworks were lost in Savonarola’s notorious bonfires — including paintings by Sandro Botticelli, which he is alleged to have thrown into the fires himself.[3]

Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 6:27-30 (testing with fire):

‘I have made you a tester of metals among my people,

that you may know and test their ways.

They are all stubbornly rebellious,

fgoing about with slanders;

they are bronze and iron;

all of them act corruptly.

The bellows blow fiercely;

the lead is consumed by the fire;

in vain the refining goes on,

for the wicked are not removed.

Rejected silver they are called,

for the Lord has rejected them’.

 

Florence soon became tired of Savonarola because of the city’s continual political and economic miseries partially derived from Savonarola’s opposition to trading and making money. When a Franciscan preacher challenged him to a trial by fire in the city centre and he declined, his following began to dissipate.

During his Ascension Day sermon on May 4, 1497, bands of youths rioted, and the riot became a revolt: dancing and singing taverns reopened, and men again dared to gamble publicly.

 

Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 16:8-13:

 

‘And do not enter a house where there is feasting and sit down to eat and drink. For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Before your eyes and in your days I will bring an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the voices of bride and bridegroom in this place. When you tell these people all this and they ask you, ‘Why has the Lord decreed such a great disaster against us? What wrong have we done? What sin have we committed against the Lord our God?’ then say to them, ‘It is because your ancestors forsook me,’ declares the Lord, ‘and followed other gods and served and worshiped them. They forsook me and did not keep my law. But you have behaved more wickedly than your ancestors. See how all of you are following the stubbornness of your evil hearts instead of obeying me. So I will throw you out of this land into a land neither you nor your ancestors have known, and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.’

 

Excommunication and execution

 

On May 13, 1497, the rigorous Father Savonarola was excommunicated by Pope Alexander VI, and in 1498, Alexander demanded his arrest and execution.

 

Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 20:1-3:

 

Now Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the Lord. The next day, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, ‘The Lord does not call your name Pashhur, but Terror on Every Side’.

 

On April 8, a crowd attacked the Convent of San Marco. A bloody struggle ensued, during which several of Savonarola’s guards and religious supporters were killed. Savonarola surrendered along with Fra Domenico da Pescia and Fra Silvestro, his two closest associates. Savonarola was faced with charges such as heresy, uttering prophecies, sedition, and other crimes, called religious errors by the Borgia pope. During the next few weeks all three were tortured on the rack, the torturers sparing only Savonarola’s right arm in order that he might be able to sign his confession. All three signed confessions, Savonarola doing so sometime prior to May 8. On that day he completed a written meditation on the Miserere mei, Psalm 50, entitled Infelix ego, in which he pleaded with God for mercy for his physical weakness in confessing to crimes he believed he did not commit. On the day of his execution, May 23, 1498, he was still working on another meditation, this one on Psalm 31, entitled Tristitia obsedit me.[4] On the day of his execution he was taken out to the Piazza della Signoria along with Fra Silvestro and Fra Domenico da Pescia. The three were ritually stripped of their clerical vestments, degraded as “heretics and schismatics”, and given over to the secular authorities to be burned. The three were hanged in chains from a single cross and an enormous fire was lit beneath them. They were thereby executed in the same place where the “Bonfire of the Vanities” had been lit, and in the same manner that Savonarola had condemned other criminals himself during his own reign in Florence. Jacopo Nardi, who recorded the incident in his Istorie della città di Firenze, wrote that his executioner lit the flame exclaiming, “The one who wanted to burn me is now himself put to the flames.” Luca Landucci, who was present, wrote in his diary that the burning took several hours, and that the remains were several times broken apart and mixed with brushwood so that not the slightest piece could be later recovered, as the ecclesiastical authorities did not want Savonarola’s followers to have any relics for a future generation of the rigorist preacher they considered a saint. The ashes of the three were afterwards thrown in the Arno beside the Ponte Vecchio.[5]

Niccolò Machiavelli, author of The Prince, also witnessed and wrote about the execution. Subsequently, Florence was governed along more traditional republican lines, until the return of the Medici in 1512. ….

 

According to J. Kirsch (A History of the End of the World, Harper, 2006, pp. 166-169):

 

…. So it was that a sermonizer might seek to set his audience afire with terrors [cf. Jeremiah’s mantra: ‘Terror on Every Side’] and yearnings and end up in the flames of his own making. Such was the fate of a man who has been called “a martyr of prophecy,” Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498), perhaps the single most famous (or notorious) [167] of the apocalyptic radicals. …. Florence was destined to be the New Jerusalem, or so Savonarola believed and preached, and he saw it as his divine mission to make it so. At a moment in history when Europe was afflicted by “presages, phantoms and astrological conjunctions of dreadful import,” as one contemporary chronicler put it, the Florentines were a ready and willing audience.”

 

Kirsch now proceeds to liken Savonarola to the author of the Book of Revelation, a book whose obscure “symbols” another author, Larry Richards (The Book of Revelation: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=-eKuoIruSJQC&pg=PR88&lpg=PR88&dq=p) will endeavour to interpret from the Book of Jeremiah:

 

Like the author of Revelation, Savonarola was a self-appointed soldier in a culture war.

The Dominican friar detested what he called “the perversities and the extreme evil of these blind peoples amongst whom virtue is reduced to zero and vice triumphs on every hand”… – that is, the worldly ways of life and art that are seen today as the glory of the Renaissance. And, just as John denounced the pleasures and treasures of Roman [sic] paganism (“Cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet …”) … Savonarola condemned the opulent lives of the Roman Catholic clergy. “You have been to Rome,” he declared. “Well, then, you must know something of the lives of these priests. They have courtesans, squires, horses, dogs. [Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 3:2: “You have defiled the land with your prostitution and wickedness”]. Their houses are filled with carpets, silks, perfumes, servants. Their pride fills the world. Their avarice matches their pride. All they do, they do for money.” …. [Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 48:29: “… exceeding proud … loftiness … and … arrogancy … and … pride, and … haughtiness of … heart”].

Savonarola, again like the author of Revelation, was a gifted and powerful preacher, and his sermons “ignited a fireball of religious panic that heated even the city’s most urbane minds,” according to cultural historian Robin Barnes. …. His public lectures on the book of Revelation were so popular, in fact, that he was forced to move to ever-larger quarters in order to accommodate the crowds. They took to heart his warning that the end of the world was near: “torrents of blood,” “a terrible famine,” and “a fierce pestilence” awaited the sinners. …. And they surely thrilled at the sight of a seer in action: “My reasons for announcing these scourges and calamities are founded on the Word of God,” ranted Savonarola in one of his white-hot sermons. “1 have seen a sign in the heavens. Not a cross this time, but a sword. It’s the Lord’s terrible swift sword which will strike the earth!” [Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 14:12: ‘I am going to make an end of them by the sword, famine and pestilence’].  …. [Jeremiah has many references to the sword of slaughter (2:30; 4:10; 5:12; 9:16; 12:12, etc, etc)].

Above all, Savonarola commanded his congregation to forgo the pleasures of the flesh in anticipation of the Day of Judgment. “Sodomy is Florence’s besetting sin,” declared Savonarola, who complained that “a young boy cannot walk in the streets without of falling into evil hands.”‘ …. But he was no less punishing when it came to the sexual excesses of women, real [168] or imagined. “Big flabby hunks of fat you are with your dyed hair, your high-rouged cheeks and eyelids smeared with charcoal,” he railed. “Your perfumes poison the air of our streets and parks. Not content with being the concubines of laymen and debauching young boys, you are running after priests and monks in order to catch them in your nets and involve them in your filthy intrigues.” [Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 4:30: “What are you doing, you devastated one? Why dress yourself in scarlet and put on jewels of gold? Why highlight your eyes with makeup? You adorn yourself in vain. Your lovers despise you; they want to kill you”].

…. And he laid the same charge against the pope and the clergy: “Come here, you blasphemy of a church!” he sermonized, making good use of the catchphrases of Revelation. “Your lust has made of you a brazenfaced whore. [Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 3:3: “… you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame]. Worse than beasts are you, who have made yourself into an unspeakable monster!” …. ‘ ….

“Tell him,” said he to a deputation who, at the instigation of Lorenzo – determined to silence Savonarola by fair means or foul – came urging him to leave Florence, “Tell him that he is the first man in the city, and I am but a poor friar; nevertheless, it is he who has to go from hence, and I who have to stay; tell him that he should repent of his sins, for God has ordained the punishment of him and his.” So it happened, I may remark, not long afterwards when the house of the Medici fell, and the sceptre departed from their hands.

Cf. Jeremiah 21:1-8: “This is the Word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur son of Malchiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, saying, ‘Please inquire of the Lord on our behalf, for King Nebuchedrezzar of Babylon is making war against us …”.

Then Jeremiah said to them: ‘Thus you shall say to Zedekiah: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel; I am going to turn back the weapons of war that are in your hands and with which you are fighting against the king of Babylon and against the Chaldeans who are besieging you outside the walls; and I will bring them together into the center of this city. I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and mighty arm, in anger, in fury, and in great wrath. And I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both human beings and animals; they shall die of a great pestilence. Afterward, says the Lord, I will give King Zedekiah of Judah, and his servants, and the people in this city – those who survive the pestilence, sword, and famine – into the hands of King Nebuchedrezzar of Babylon, into the hands of their enemies, into the hands of those who seek their lives. He shall strike them down with the edge of the sword; he shall not pity them, or spare them, or have compassion”.

 

From: https://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&biw=1536&bih=769&site=imghp&q=

Vol. 6, Chapter IX (Cont’d) – 76. Girolamo Savonarola

 

His message was the prophet’s cry, “Who shall abide the day of His coming and who shall stand when He appeareth?”

I could not endure any longer the wickedness of the blinded peoples of Italy. Virtue I saw despised everywhere and vices exalted and held in honor. With great warmth of heart, I made daily a short prayer to God that He might release me from this vale of tears. ‘Make known to me the way,’ I cried, ‘the way in which I should walk for I lift up my soul unto Thee,’ and God in His infinite mercy showed me the way, unworthy as I am of such distinguishing grace.

The clergy he arraigned for their greed of prebends and gold and their devotion to outer ceremonies rather than to the inner life of the soul.

 

[Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 22:17): “But your eyes and heart are only on your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practising oppression and violence”.

 

Portraying the insincerity of the clergy, he said: —

In these days, prelates and preachers are chained to the earth by the love of earthly things. The care of souls is no longer their concern. They are content with the receipt of revenue. The preachers preach to please princes and to be praised by them. They have done worse. They have not only destroyed the Church of God. They have built up a new Church after their own pattern. Go to Rome and see! In the mansions of the great prelates there is no concern save for poetry and the oratorical art. Go thither and see! Thou shalt find them all with the books of the humanities in their hands and telling one another that they can guide mens’ souls by means of Virgil, Horace and Cicero … The prelates of former days had fewer gold mitres and chalices and what few they possessed were broken up and given to relieve the needs of the poor. But our prelates, for the sake of obtaining chalices, will rob the poor of their sole means of support.

 

Jeremiah 22:13, 14, 17: “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbours work for nothing, and does not give them their wages; who says, “I will build myself a spacious house with large upper rooms”, and who cuts out windows for it, panelling it with cedar, and painting it with vermillion … your eyes and heart are only on your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practising oppression and violence”.

 

The inscription on the heavenly sword well represents the style of Savonarola’s preaching. It was impulsive, pictorial, eruptive, startling, not judicial and instructive. And yet it made a profound impression on men of different classes. Pico della Mirandola the elder has described its marvellous effect upon himself. On one occasion, when he announced as his text Gen_6:17, “Behold I will bring the flood of waters upon the earth,” Pico said he felt a cold shudder course through him, and his hair, as it were, stand on end.

 

Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 47:2: “See, waters are rising out of the north and shall become an overflowing torrent; they shall overflow the land and all that fills it, the city and those who live in it”.

 

Savonarola’s confidence in his divine appointment to be the herald of special communications from above found expression not only from the pulpit but was set forth more calmly in two works, the Manual of Revelations, 1495, and a Dialogue concerning Truth and Prophecy, 1497. The latter tract with a number of Savonarola’s sermons were placed on the Index. In the former, the author declared that for a long time he had by divine inspiration foretold future things but, bearing in mind the Saviour’s words, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs,” he had practised reserve in such utterances. He expressed his conception of the office committed to him, when he said, “The Lord has put me here and has said to me, ‘I have placed thee as a watchman in the centre of Italy … that thou mayest hear my words and announce them,’” Eze_3:17.

 

Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 1:18: “And I for my part have made you today a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall, against the whole land – against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land”.

 

The question arises whether Savonarola was a genuine prophet or whether he was self-deluded, mistaking for the heated imaginations of his own religious fervor, direct communications from God. Alexander VI. made Savonarola’s “silly declaration of being a prophet” one of the charges against him.

 

Cf. e.g. Jeremiah 29:27: ‘So now why have you not rebuked Jeremiah … who plays the prophet for you?”

 

Prior to any further push for canonisation, it may be worthwhile reviewing Savonarola’s legacy regarding the Church, and the papacy, and his supposed anti-culturalism, such as “paintings by Botticelli and books by Petrarch and Boccaccio were also pitched into the flames …”.

And, indeed, much else.

 

 

Seljuk, Zengi, and the neo-Assyrians

Published May 18, 2016 by amaic

seljuk ha

by

 Damien F. Mackey

  

 

Considers the Assyrian-like C12th AD Seljuk ruler, Zengi.

 

 

Wikipedia article, “Zengi”: “Imad ad-Din Zengi Imad ad-Din Atabeg Zengi al-Malik al-Mansur, or Zengi (var. Zangi, Zengui, Zenki or Zanki) for short; in Turkish İmadeddin Zengi, in Arabic: عماد الدین زنكي)”.

According to standard history, Zengi was a Seljuk Turk of 1127–1146 AD.

 

That Zengi, who became ruler of (Assyrian) Mosul, was actually called “Assyrian” is apparent from this same Wikipedia article:

 

Zengi against Damascus

 

Zengi became atabeg of Mosul in 1127, and of Aleppo in 1128, uniting the two cities under his personal rule, and was formally invested as their ruler by the Sultan Mahmud II of Great Seljuk. Zengi had supported the young sultan against his rival, the caliph Al-Mustarshid. The Syriac Orthodox patriarch Michael the Great (also known as Michael The Syrian) [1126-1199 A.D.] called him “Hziro Othuroyo/Hzira Athuraya” (literally “swinish Assyrian”). The term “Assyrian” (Othuroyo/Athuraya) in Syriac has homonymous meanings. So in this sentence it meant barbarian and not that he was ethnically Assyrian. Out of an Old Testamental perspective the Assyrians were viewed as barbarians, evil, etc.

[End of quote]

 

The common Saracen name, ad-Din, seems to be most strongly reminiscent of the common Assyrian one, iddina- (‘given’): e.g. Esarhaddon, the Greek and Biblical form of the Akkadian name, Aššur-ahhe-iddina “Ashur has given a brother to me”.

Imad ad-Din Zengi Zengi was the son of Aq Sunqur al-Hajib, the element Aq Sunqur being somewhat reminiscent, in turn, of Sennacherib (Sin-ahhê-eriba in Akkadian), who was the father of Esarhaddon.

These neo-Assyrian kings, like Zengi, controlled Damascus.

 

Most interestingly, too, in light of my massive historical query:

 

Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time

 

https://www.academia.edu/12429764/Two_Supposed_Nehemiahs_BC_time_and_AD_time

 

an “Heraclius” appears to get a re-run. Firstly, king Chosroes II (said to have been a Persian king) of c. 600 AD was opposed to the Byzantine emperor Heraclius. Then, incredibly – or is it, anymore? – one named Heraclius (var. Eraclius) emerges in c. 1128-1190/91 AD, now as Patriarch of Jerusalem, at the time of Zengi.

We may also find a striking similarity between the death of Zengi and the gory demise of “Holofernes” in the Book of Judith, where he is beheaded by Judith in his tent, while lying drunk on his bed (12:16-13:8) This is frightfully similar (except for the actual perpetrator of the deed) to Wikipedia’s account of the violent death of Zengi:

 

Death

 

Though he continued his attempts to take Damascus in 1145, Zengi was assassinated by a Frankish slave named Yarankash in 1146. The Christian chronicler William of Tyre said that he was killed by a number of his retinue while he lay drunk in his bed. William reports that the news of his death was welcomed with the remarks “What a happy coincidence! A guilty murderer, which the bloody name Sanguinus, has become ensanguined with his own blood”, playing on the similarity between the Latin word for blood (sanguis) and the Latin rendering of Zengi’s name.

[End of quote]

 

Could “Zengi” indicate, then, not a personal name, but an epithet: “the bloody one”?

The prophet Nahum had similarly referred to the Assyrian city of Nineveh: “Ah! City of bloodshed, utterly deceitful, full of booty …” (Nahum 3:1).

Zengi’s father would suffer the same fate as had his son, to be assassinated – reminiscent of Sennacherib again.

Just as in the case of Zengi, the “Holofernes” of the Book of Judith had recently passed through the territory of Damascus (Judith 2:27), before he, too, was assassinated whilst in a drunken stupor. Obviously the perpetrator of the bloody deed is obscure to history, “a Frankish slave”, “a number of [Zengi’s] retinue”.

In the Book of Judith, the entire “retinue” of Holofernes’ had in fact retired for the night, leaving Judith alone with the drunken Assyrian commander-in-chief (Judith 13:1).

The jubilation of William of Tyre at the death of Zengi “the bloody one”, above, is reminiscent of the joy of the Israelites at Judith’s victory (Judith 13:17-20; 14:7-10, 18-20; 15:8-12), most especially as conveyed in Judith’s “Victory Song” (16:14-17). Moreover, the effects of the slaying of the enemy leader were exactly the same for the invading army as were those recorded in the Book of Judith: namely, panic and flight.

Zengi’s sudden death threw his forces into a panic. His army disintegrated, the treasury was looted, and the crusader princes, made bold by Zengi’s demise, plotted to attack Aleppo and Edessa. Mu’in ad-Din immediately recaptured Baalbek, Hims, and other territories lost to Zengi over the years.

Compare Judith 15:1-7, imagining Israelite leaders taking the place of “the crusader princes”; “Baalbek”, the Book of Judith’s “Bectileth” (2:21); “Aleppo” and “Edessa”, the Book of Judith’s “beyond Damascus and it borders”.

Wikipedia’s account of the character of Zengi could easily recall the tyrannical “Holofernes” (ibid.):

 

Zengi was courageous, strong in leadership and a very skilled warrior according to all of the Islam chroniclers of his day. The conquest of Edessa being his greatest achievement. These same chroniclers however, also relate Zengi as being a very violent, cruel, and brutal man. Muslims, Byzantines, and Franks all suffered at his hands.

 

Similarly, Judith will laud the renowned skill of the Assyrian commander-in-Chief, “Holofernes”, including in her words the statement (probably a true one) that he had no military peer: ‘For we have heard of your wisdom and skill, and it is reported throughout the whole world that you alone are the best in the whole kingdom, the most informed and the most astounding in military strategy’.

According to Wikipedia, Zengi was deceitful and vengeful (ibid.):

 

Unlike Saladin at Jerusalem in 1187, Zengi did not keep his word to protect his captives at Baalbek in 1139. According to Ibn al-‘Adim, “He (Zengi) had sworn to the people of the citadel with strong oaths and on the Qur’an and divorcing (his wives). When they came down from the citadel he betrayed them, flayed its governor and hanged the rest.” (Source: Ibid. Also, Ibn Wasil, Mufarrij al-Kurub, p. 86)

“The atebeg was violent, powerful, awe-inspiring and liable to attack suddenly… When he rode, the troops used to walk behind him as if they were between two threads, out of fear they would trample over crops, and nobody out of fear dared to trample on a single stem (of them) nor march his horse on them… If anyone transgressed, he was crucified. He (Zengi) used to say: ‘It does not happen that there is more than one tyrant (meaning himself) at one time.’” By Ibn al-‘Adim (Source: Ibn al-‘Adim, Zubda, vol. 2, p. 471)

“He (Zengi) was tyrannical and he would strike with indiscriminate recklessness. He was like a leopard in character, like a lion in fury, not renouncing any severity, not knowing any kindness… He was feared for his sudden attacking; shunned for his roughness; aggressive, insolent, death to enemies and citizens.” By Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani (Source: Al-Bundari, Zubdat al-nusra, ed. M.Y. Houtsma (Leiden, 1889), p. 205)

“When he (Zengi) was unhappy with an emir, he would kill him or banish him and leave that individual’s children alive but castrate them. Whenever one of his pages pleased him by his beauty he would treat him in the same way so that the characteristics of youth would last longer in him.” By Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani (Source: The Second Crusade – Scope & Consequences Edited by Jonathan Phillips & Martin Hoch).

[End of quote]

 

Compare Zengi’s presumed reputation for deception, of going back on his word, with an incident of deception pertaining to Sennacherib:

Isaiah 33:7, where we learn that the “ambassadors of peace”, apparently those who had taken the tribute to Sennacherib, then returned “weeping bitterly”.

And 24:16 (cf. 21:2): “For the treacherous deal treacherously, the treacherous deal very treacherously”. …

 

Sennacherib, marked as “treacherous” according to C. Boutflower (on Isaiah), received the tribute, but now demands the surrender of the city!

 

Titles

 

The Muslim chronicler Ibn al-Qalanisi gives Zengi’s full list of titles – reminiscent of the many of the neo-Assyrian kings – as:

 

The emir, the general, the great, the just, the aid of God, the triumphant, the unique, the pillar of religion, the cornerstone of Islam, ornament of Islam, protector of God’s creatures, associate of the dynasty, auxiliary of doctrine, grandeur of the nation, honour of kings, supporter of sultans, victor over the infidels, rebels, and atheists, commander of the Muslim armies, the victorious king, the king of princes, the sun of the deserving, emir of the two Iraqs and Syria, conqueror of Iran, Bahlawan, Jihan Alp Inassaj Kotlogh Toghrulbeg atabeg Abu Sa’id Zangi Ibn Aq Sunqur, protector of the prince of the faithful.

 

[End of quote]

 

The neo-Assyrian kings, too, could boast a multitude of grand titles, including Zengi’s “the sun”. Whilst the latter’s “the two Iraqs” above could remind one of the typical Assyrian claim of “king of Sumer and Accad”. The neo-Assyrian kings’ likening of themselves to the sun – and their megalomania in general – could also remind one of the Lucifer (‘the Day Star’) of Isaiah 14; pride going before a very big fall. In regard to this poem’s historical basis, Boutflower is helpful when favourably recalling Sir Edward Strachey’s “belief that the king of Babylon, against whom the “parable” of Isa. xiv was hurled, was a king of Assyria” – a king of Assyria, that is, who ruled over Babylon. Compare the king of Isaiah 14’s self-deifying boast: ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the heights of Zaphon; I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High’ (vv. 13-14), with e.g. Esarhaddon’s own god-like statement: “I am powerful, I am all powerful, I am a hero, I am gigantic, I am colossal, I am honored, I am magnified, I am without an equal among all kings …”.

Considerable ego-mania on display here.

This might indicate that these verses of Isaiah are no mere poetic exaggeration, but poetically pertain to the boasts of a real king. And they could also answer criticisms of [Judith] 3:8, that the Assyrian kings were not inclined to self-deification.

One might even imagine the Bethulians, staring at the lifeless head of “Holofernes” as it was lifted from Judith’s food bag – or when it was later hanging on the parapet of the city’s wall (14:1, 11), “those who see you will stare at you” (Isaiah 14:16) – and asking themselves, in Isaian terms: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms … who … who …?’. We gather from Isaiah’s poem that all of the king’s glory came to an end in a moment, like the fall of a star from heaven. Moreover, the end was to come on the field of battle (vv. 12-20). A few verses later, Isaiah will nominate this ill-fated invader as an “Assyrian”, who will die on the mountains of Israel (vv. 24, 25):

 

The Lord of hosts has sworn:

… I will break the Assyrian in my land.

and on my mountains trample

him under foot.

 

So, too, did the bloody Zengi come crashing down.

 

 

Judith 16:17:

 

‘Woe to the nations that rise up against my people! The Lord Almighty will take vengeance on them in the day of judgment; he will send fire and worms into their flesh; they shall weep in pain forever’.

King Solomon and Suleiman

Published May 9, 2016 by amaic

 Europa Universalis IV Artwork 4

by

 Damien F. Mackey 

 

 

King Suleiman I as “a second Solomon”, and “a new Solomon”.

 

 

 

Suleiman the Magnificent,

King of the Ottoman Turks

 

——————————————————–

 Suleiman … is therefore called the second Solomon by many Islamic scholars …”.

 ——————————————————-

 

King Suleiman ‘the Magnificent’, C16th AD Ottoman emperor, was, according to this source

http://everything2.com/title/Suleiman+the+Magnificent “a new Solomon”.

And, similarly, Suleiman was “the second Solomon”.

A new Solomon is risen

 

Süleyman I was everything a magnificent ruler should be. He was just, making the right decisions in cases set before him. [Cf. I Kings 3:16-28] He was brave, leading his armies in battle until he had greatly expanded his sultanate. He was wealthy, living in luxury and turning his capital Istanbul into a splendid city. And he was cultured, his court teeming with philosophers and artists, and the Sultan himself mastering several arts, especially that of poetry.

…. Süleyman ascended to the throne in 1520 and stayed there for all of 46 years. During his reign he furthered the work of his forefathers until he had made the empire of the Ottomans into one of the world’s greatest.

The Sultan was named after Solomon, who was described as the perfect ruler in the Quran. Like the legendary king of the Jews, Süleyman was seen as just and wise, and a worthy follower of his namesake. He is therefore called the second Solomon by many Islamic scholars, although he was the first of that name among the Ottomans. Like the Solomon of old, this ruler was surrounded by splendour and mystery, and his time is remembered as the zenith of his people.

[End of quote]

 

The Problem with Islamic History

 

In some cases, Islam and its scholars have shown a complete disregard for historical perspective. I had cause to discuss this in my review of Islamic scholar Ahmed Osman’s book, Out of Egypt. The Roots of Christianity Revealed, in:

Osman’s ‘Osmosis’ of Moses

http://www.academia.edu/3690035/Osmans_Osmosis_of_Moses

 

this book being a diabolical historical mish-mash in which the author, Osman, sadly attempts to herd a millennium or more of history into the single 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt.

But getting right to the heart of the situation, the historical problems pertaining to the Prophet Mohammed himself are legendary. My own contributions, amongst many, to this subject, are, for example:

 

Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History

 

https://www.academia.edu/12500381/Biography_of_the_Prophet_Mohammed_Muhammad_Seriously_Mangles_History

 

Scholars have long pointed out the historical problems associated with the life of the Prophet Mohammed and the history of Islam, with some going even so far as to cast doubt upon Mohammed’s actual existence. Biblico-historical events, normally separated the one from the other by many centuries, are re-cast as contemporaneous in the Islamic texts. Muslim author, Ahmed Osman, has waxed so bold as to squeeze, into the one Egyptian dynasty, the Eighteenth, persons supposed to span more than one and a half millennia. Now, as I intend to demonstrate in this article, biblico-historical events that occurred during the neo-Assyrian era of the C8th BC, and then later on, in the Persian era, have found their way into the biography of Mohammed supposedly of the C7th AD.

 

and

 

Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Two: From Birth to Marriage

 

https://www.academia.edu/12538867/Biography_of_the_Prophet_Mohammed_Muhammad_Seriously_Mangles_History._Part_Two_From_Birth_to_Marriage

 

Added to all this is the highly suspicious factor of a ‘second’ Nehemiah, sacrificing at the site of the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem during a ‘second’ Persian period, all contemporaneous with the Prophet of Islam himself. The whole scenario is most reminiscent of the time of the original (and, I believe, of the only) Nehemiah of Israel.

And so I wrote in an article, now up-dated as:

 

Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time

 

https://www.academia.edu/12429764/Two_Supposed_Nehemiahs_BC_time_and_AD_time

 

This … later Nehemiah “offers a sacrifice on the site of the Temple”, according to Étienne Couvert (La Vérité sur les Manuscripts de la Mer Morte, 2nd ed, Éditions de Chiré, p. 98. My translation). “He even seems to have attempted to restore the Jewish cult of sacrifice”, says Maxine Lenôtre (Mahomet Fondateur de L’Islam, Publications MC, p.111, quoting from S.W. Baron’s, Histoire d’Israël, T. III, p. 187. My translation), who then adds (quoting from the same source): “Without any doubt, a number of Jews saw in these events a repetition of the re-establishment of the Jewish State by Cyrus and Darius [C6th BC kings of ancient Persia] and behaved as the rulers of the city and of the country”.

[End of quote]

 

So, conceivably, the whole concept of a Persian (or Sassanian) empire at this time, with rulers named Chosroes, again reminiscent of the ancient Cyrus ‘the Great’, may need to be seriously questioned.

 

Coins and Archaeology

 

And how to “explain inscriptions on early Islamic coins – the ones that showed Muhammed meeting with a Persian emperor [Chosroes II] who supposedly died a century before”? http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-london/plain/A85654957

Emmet Scott, who asks “Were the Arab Conquests a Myth?”, also points out major anomalies relating to the coinage of this period, and regarding the archaeology of Islam in general, though Scott does not go so far as to suggest that the Sassanian era duplicated the ancient Persian one (http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/160197/sec_id/160197):

 

Note the remark [in Encyclopdaedia Iranica]: “The Arab-Sasanian coinages are not imitations,” but were “designed and manufactured by the same people as the late Sasanian issues.” We note also that the date provided on these artefacts is written in Persian script, and it would appear that those who minted the coins, native Persians, did not understand Arabic. We hear that under the Arabs the mints were “evidently allowed to go on as before,” and that there are “a small number of coins indistinguishable from the drahms of the last emperor, Yazdegerd III, dated during his reign but after the Arab capture of the cities of issue. It was only when Yazdegerd died (A.D. 651) [in the time of the Ummayad Caliph Mu’awiya] that some mark of Arab authority was added to the coinage.” (Ibid.) Even more puzzling is the fact that the most common coins during the first decades of Islamic rule were those of Yazdegerd’s predecessor Chosroes II, and many of these too bear the Arabic inscription (written however, as we saw, in the Syriac script) besm Allah. Now, it is just conceivable that invading Arabs might have issued slightly amended coins of the last Sassanian monarch, Yazdegerd III, but why continue to issue money in the name of a previous Sassanian king (Chosroes II), one who, supposedly, had died ten years earlier? This surely stretches credulity.

 

The Persian-looking Islamic coins are of course believed to date from the time of Umar (d. 664), one of the “Rightly-guided Caliphs” who succeeded Muhammad and supposedly conquered what became the Islamic Empire. Yet it has to be stated that there is no direct archaeological evidence for the existence either of Umar or any of the other “Rightly-guided” Caliphs Abu Bakr, Uthman or Ali. Not a brick, coin, or artifact of any kind bears the name of these men. Archaeologically, their existence is as unattested as Muhammad himself. ….

[End of quote]

 

But surely what Scott alleges about these early Caliphs, that: “Not a brick, coin, or artifact of any kind bears the name of these men”, cannot be applied to Suleiman the Magnificent himself, evidence of whose building works in, say Jerusalem, are considered to abound and to be easily identifiable. A typical comment would be this: “Jerusalem’s current walls were built under the orders of Suleiman the Magnificent between the years 1537 and 1541. Some portions were built over the ancient walls from 2,000 years ago. The walls were built to prevent invasions from local tribes and to discourage another crusade by Christians from Europe” (http://www.generationword.com/jerusalem101/4-walls-today.html).

Previously, I have discussed Greek appropriations of earlier ancient Near Eastern culture and civilization. But might Arabic Islam have, in turn, appropriated the earlier Byzantine Greek architecture, and perhaps some of its archaeology? There appears to be plenty written on this subject, e.g.: “The appropriation of Byzantine elements into Islamic architecture”, by Patricia Blessing, “art and architecture of the Muslim World, focusing on trans-cultural interactions in the Middle Ages, the appropriation of Byzantine elements into Islamic architecture, the transfer and authentication of relics in East and West, historical photographs of architecture and urban spaces” (http://cmems.stanford.edu/tags/appropriation-byzantine-elements-islamic-architecture). And, again (http://www.daimonas.com/pages/byzantine-basis-persian.html): “This page is related to the Byzantine origins of what are claimed to be “Islamic” ideas. This page is limited to showing the Byzantine/Greek basis of Sassanian ideas which were absorbed by the even less original Arabs who replaced the faith of Zoroaster with one more brutal; that of Mohammed”. A rock relief of Chosroes II at Taq-I Bustan “clearly shows the symbol which was to be appropriated by Islam, the crescent moon …”.

As for the archaeology of the walls of the city of Jerusalem itself, relevant to Sultan Suleiman the supposed wall builder there, the exact identification of these various wall levels is highly problematical, as attested by Hershel Shanks, “The Jerusalem Wall That Shouldn’t Be There. Three major excavations fail to explain controversial remains” (http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=13&Issue=3&ArticleID=5).

 

So perhaps art and architecture attributed to the direction of Suleiman the Magnificent might need to be seriously re-assessed for the purposes of authentication.

Words are put into the mouth of a supposed Venetian visitor to the glorious kingdom of Suleiman the Magnificent that immediately remind me of the remarks made by the biblical Queen of Sheba upon her visit to the court of the truly magnificent King Solomon.

 

Compare (http://everything2.com/title/Suleiman+the+Magnificent):

 

I know no State which is happier than this one. It is furnished with all God’s gifts. It controls war and peace; it is rich in gold, in people, in ships, and in obedience; no State can be compared with it. May God long preserve the most just of all Emperors.” The Venetian ambassador reports from Istanbul in 1525

 

with (I Kings 10:6-9):

 

Then [Sheba] said to the king [Solomon]: “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard. Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.”

 

And in the article, “How Sultan Süleyman became ‘Kanuni [Lawgiver]’”, we find Suleiman likened to, not only King Solomon, again, but also to King Solomon’s law-giving alter ego, Solon, and to Solomon’s contemporary (revised) Hammurabi:

 

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/how-sultan-suleyman-became-kanuni.aspx?pageI

The first written, complete code of laws is nearly 4,000 years old, from the time of Hammurabi, the king of Babylon (r. 1792 B.C. to 1750 B.C.), although fragments of legal codes from other cities in the Mesopotamian area have been discovered. Hammurabi is still honored today as a lawgiver. In the Bible, it was Moses whom the Jews singled out as a lawgiver and among the ancient Greeks, Draco and Solon. ….

….

Süleyman oversaw the codification of a new general code of laws. Not only were previous codes of law taken into account, new cases and analogies were added. Fines and punishments were regularized and some of the more severe punishments were mitigated.

….

The kanunnames are collections of kanuns or statutes that are basically short summaries of decrees issued by the sultan. The decrees in turn were made on the basis of a particular individual, place or event but when issued, these particular details were not included. The publication of such a general kanunname throughout the empire was the responsibility of the nişancı, an official whose duty it was to attach the sultan’s imperial signature on the decrees issued in his name.

….

The sultan held the judicial power and judges had to follow what he decreed.

….

What Kanuni Sultan Süleyman did to earn his sobriquet as ‘lawgiver’ has often been compared to the just ruler King Solomon, from the Old Testament.

[End of quote]

 

For King Solomon as Solon, and as at least a contemporary of Hammurabi, see my:

King Solomon the Philosopher King

https://www.academia.edu/25119189/King_Solomon_the_Philosopher_King