Damien F. Mackey
As Ianhama of El Amarna
“According to the Rabbis, Naaman was the archer who drew his bow at a venture and mortally wounded Ahab, King of Israel (I Kings xxii. 34). This event is alluded to in the words “because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria” (II Kings v. 1), and therefore the Syrian king, Naaman’s master, was Benhadad”.
In a revised El Amarna
Dr. I. Velikovsky seems to have scored some hits and some misses in his attempts, in the series Ages in Chaos, to identify characters who figure in the El Amarna [EA] correspondence (re-dated downwards by Velikovsky from the conventionally estimated C14th, to the C9th BC) with biblical figures.
One of his promising efforts was, so it seems to me, his proposed identification of the prominent Ianhamu of EA with the biblical Na’aman (Hebrew: נַעֲמָן), famously cured by the prophet Elisha of his leprosy.
Velikovsky had referred to a couple of facts in the Na’aman story that he thought seemed “somewhat strange”:
“In … the [Naaman] story, two facts are somewhat strange. First, inasmuch as Ben-Hadad himself was at the head of the thirty-two captains of his army, why, in the story of the wondrous healing, is the deliverance of Syria credited to a captain Naaman? Second, the king of Israel was a lifelong rival of the king of Damascus. Why, then, did this request to cure a sick captain inspire in the king of Israel such a dread that he rent his clothes?”
From this it would appear that Velikovsky considered that the King of Israel approached by Na’aman for his cure was Ahab. Other commentators suggest Jehoram (a favoured candidate) or Jehu.
Velikovsky next proposed his identification for this Naaman in the EA Letters:
“For an explanation of the real role of this captain Naaman we shall look to the contemporaneous letters. A man by whom Syria received deliverance must be identifiable in the letters. We recognize him in the person of Ianhama, called also Iaanhamu … the pharaoh’s deputy in Syria, [who] was sent to the king of Damascus with prerogatives similar to those which Aman-appa had”.
Velikovsky continues, with a quote from S. Mercer (ed. Tell El-Amarna Tablets):
“… Naaman’s title in the Scriptures – sar [Hebrew: שַׂר] – is also used in the letters. He was a plenipotentiary of the king of Egypt, in charge of the army and walled cities of Amuru land (Syria), later also the overseer of stores of grain. He had great influence in all matters of Syrian administration. Judged by his name, he was of Syrian origin, as were some other dignitaries at the court of Thebes. Ianhama is a Semitic name: “Ianhamu was a powerful Egyptian agent in Syria, where he was respected as a good and wise man, and where he proved himself to be the most faithful of the pharaoh’s servants”.”
That a transformation of some kind had come over this Ianhama Velikovsky had inferred from Rib-Addi’s revised attitude towards him; an attitude that had changed dramatically in the course of Rib-Addi’s reign:
“In [Rib-Addi’s] early letters … his fear of the mighty deputy of the pharaoh is plainly expressed. In one letter he wrote to the pharaoh: “Thou must rescue me out of the hand of Iaanhamu”. He asked the pharaoh to inform his deputy that he, Ianhama, would be responsible if anything should happen to [Rib-Addi’s] person …. “Say to Ianhamu: ‘Rib-Addi is even in thy hands, and all that will be done to him rests upon thee’.”
But, Velikovsky continued (typically – but wrongly, I believe – substituting Samaria for EA’s Sumur):
“Later on, when Aman-appa left Samaria …, [Rib-Addi] … wrote to the pharaoh asking him to appoint Ianhama governor in Samaria …: “May it seem right to my lord to send Ianhama as his deputy. I hear from the mouth of the people that he is a wise man and all people love him”.
We recall the scriptural words about Naaman, that he was an “honourable” man”.
The reason for the official’s change in attitude, Velikovsky suggested, was to be found in the Scriptures:
“In another letter [Rib-Addi] again asks the pharaoh to send Ianhama and in the next one he praises him in these words: “There is no servant like Ianhama, a faithful servant to the king”.
… The letters do not show why the fear of [Rib-Addi] … changed into confidence with respect to the Syrian deputy. The Scriptures provide the explanation in the story of the healing of Naaman by the prophet of Samaria. Naaman was very grateful to the prophet … (II Kings 5:15). Elisha even declared that he would heal Naaman in order to help the king of Israel politically.
So [Ianhamu] became a friend”.
Velikovsky then went on to point out what he called “certain other features of the role and character of Ianhama, reflected in the letters, [and] shown also in the Scriptures”. For example:
“He was a generous man. This appears in the story of the healing: he gave to the servant of the prophet two talents of silver and two changes of garments, more than the servant had asked for, when the prophet refused to take ten talents of silver, six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. It is of interest to find that, according to the letters, Ianhama was in charge of the pharaoh’s treasury in Syria, being over “money and clothing”.
… The el-Amarna letters also speak of him as the generous patron of a Palestinian youth, who was educated in Egypt at his expense. The man “by whom the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria” … was Ianhama. How this captain changed his attitude and became a supporter of the king of Samaria is recorded in the letters and is explained by the Scriptures”.
Na’aman and King Ahab
Emil Hirsch et al. (“Naaman”, Jewish Encylopedia) tell of this interesting Rabbinical tradition in regard to Na’aman: ….
“According to the Rabbis, Naaman was the archer who drew his bow at a venture and mortally wounded Ahab, King of Israel (I Kings xxii. 34). This event is alluded to in the words “because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria” (II Kings v. 1), and therefore the Syrian king, Naaman’s master, was Benhadad …. Naaman is represented as vain and haughty, on account of which he was stricken with leprosy …”.
That Na’aman, though a leper, regarded himself as being an official of no small importance may be reflected in his initial response to the fact of Elisha’s merely sending a messenger to advise him: ‘… I thought that for me he would surely come out’ (5:11).
Here we have the biblical instance of Na’aman’s riding up “with his horses and chariots”, to Samaria, to seek a cure from Elisha. Hence a further argument for the Syrian’s familiarity with Israel and its palace. And, later, Naaman will return to thank the prophet, “he and all his company”; Na’aman himself certainly riding in his chariot at the time (cf. 2 Kings 5:9; 5:21).
Hirsch et al. also claim in the same article that: “Naaman was a “ger toshab” [literally, ‘a strange-settler’; a resident alien of different religion], that is, he was not a perfect proselyte, having accepted only some of the commandments …”.
Na’aman had, subsequent to his cure by the prophet Elisha, apologised in advance to the latter for his involuntary adoration of the Syrian divinity, Rimmon, when having to escort his king into Rimmon’s temple (2 Kings 5:18).
We recall that Ben-Hadad I’s father, Tab-rimmon, had borne the name of this Syrian god.
There is also a reference to “Naaman the Syrian” in the New Testament (Luke 4:27): ‘And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian’.
But what was this Na’aman doing fluctuating between kings Ahab of Israel and Ben-Hadad I, mortal enemies?
This must have occurred somewhat late in the reign of King Ahab, after the two kings had declared a treaty and mutual brotherhood (I Kings 20:34).
I now take up the relevant parts of Campbell’s narrative concerning this important EA official, Ianhama (his Yanhamu): ….
“Yanhamu began his service under Amenophis III. ….
Yanhamu appears, then, to have held an extremely important position in Syria throughout the period of Rib-Adda’s [Rib-Addi’s] correspondence. The later letters of Rib-Adda show this prince defending Yanhamu and asking for his appointment as rabiṣ in Sumur. One might almost imagine that Yanhamu’s rebuff of Aziru described in 171 led Rib-Adda suddenly to realize that he had a true ally in Yanhamu”.
This Ianhama was, according to Campbell, in charge of grain supplies: ….
“In the early group of letters from Rib-Adda, Yanhamu seems to have held a position having to do with the supplying of the vassals from a store-city of Egypt (83:27ff., 39f.; 85:23f., 48ff.; 86:15f.).
This source of supply is named Yarimuta in many places in the Rib-Adda correspondence, and that Yanhamu was its chief appears clear from 85:12-35. In this passage, Rib-Adda first explains that he has had to “pawn” virtually everything of value in his city in return for grain from Yarimuta. Sons and daughters of his serfs have been sold into slavery at Yarimuta in return for grain. Grain is needed simply to keep the people alive and able to protect their city.
… From the context it is not certain that Yanhamu is chief of Yarimuta, but everything points that way. Being the chief of the grain supply would place Yanhamu in a very powerful position.
That Iaanhamu was of a high rank in relation to pharaoh is borne out by this testimony of Campbell’s: …. “[Iaanhamu] bears an extremely important title, that of “Fan-Bearer at the king’s right-hand” (musallil), a title which Mâya of Tomb 14 also bears”.
According to Harry M. Orlinsky (Israel Exploration Journal Reader, p. 164): “… ynḥm is recorded as a Semitic name on an Egyptian ostracon of the 18th dynasty, and as ianhamu it appears in the El-Amarna letters. …”.
As the biblical Bidkar?
“Jehu said to Bidkar, his chariot officer, ‘Pick him up and throw him on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. Remember how you and I were riding together in chariots behind Ahab his father when the Lord spoke this prophecy against him: ‘Yesterday I saw the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, declares the Lord, and I will surely make you pay for it on this plot of ground, declares the Lord’.’”
2 Kings 9:25-26
The possibility now arises that the otherwise unknown Bidkar may also be Na’aman.
Conforming with Rabbinic legends that have Na’aman as the one who had mortally wounded King Ahab of Israel with an arrow, Bidkar, too, we learn here, had once ridden behind Ahab.
Contemporaneity between Na’aman and Bidkar would not be a problem.
Nor would occupation, and, possibly, rank.
Na’aman, as was Bidkar, was a military officer who rode in a chariot (cf. 2 Kings 5:9).
He was a man of great rank. “Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and held in esteem, because by him the LORD had given victory unto Aram; he was also a mighty man of valour …” (2 Kings 5:1).
Na’aman was ish gadol (אִישׁ גָּדוֹל), a “great man”. This, “great man”, is the very interpretation sometimes given to the Assyrian rank of Rabshakeh.
Bidkar, a dozen or more years later when he closely witnessed this following incident (9:24): “… Jehu drew his bow and shot Jehoram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart and he slumped down in his chariot”, was ranked as a shaloshah (שָׁלִשֹׁה), which description may mean “third” in rank.
Less obvious would be why Na’aman (perhaps compatibly named Ianhama in EA) would be, in 2 Kings 9, named Bidkar.
What does this name mean? What might be its ethnic origin?
Some think that the latter part of the name, kar, could bear some relationship to Carite (Karite). For, at this approximate time, in Judah, “Jehoiada the priest summoned … the Carite mercenaries …” (2 Kings 11:4).
But my own preference – based upon Velikovsky’s view that Na’aman, in his guise of EA’s Ianhama, “was a plenipotentiary of the king of Egypt, in charge of the army and walled cities of Amuru land (Syria)” – would be that the name Bidkar was the name by which this officer was known in Egypt.
The element kar in Bidkar’s name, whilst it has prompted mention of the Carites, could be, instead, an abbreviation of the common Egyptian combination ka re.
There was an important Chancellor in Old Kingdom Egypt known as Nebitka (or Nebetka).
It is perhaps possible that Bidkar (בִּדְקַר) is a Hebrew attempt to write an Egyptian name such as this, for instance, Ne[bitkar]e.
A Spiritual Lesson:
Obedience not Sacrifice
An important spiritual lesson can be learned from the biblical account
of the healing of the Syrian Na’aman’s leprosy in the river Jordan.
I have previously written of the incident of the Syrian Na’aman’s healing in my book:
The events of Fatima in 1917, and beyond (and still being fulfilled today), and ratified by
The Great Solar Miracle: Fatima October 13, 1917
the 100th anniversary of which occurs tomorrow (13th October 2017) can be ignored – and sadly have largely been – at humankind’s peril, so that now we find ourselves charging headlong into a Third World War. See, in this, my:
and the consequent Fatima predicted (13th July, 1917), “annihilation of nations”:
Catholics have shown the same kind of reluctance to embrace the medicinal cure of the heavenly régime of the Communion of Reparation (known as the “Five First Saturdays”) as Na’aman had exhibited when the prophet Elisha presented him with the curative medicine of a seven times immersion in the River Jordan.
Is it too hard? Is it too easy?
I, after having outlined the heavenly program in my book as follows:
The Program of the Five First Saturdays
In order to fulfil the devotion of the Five First Saturdays, the following conditions – listed according to the order in which Our Lady named them – are necessary:
- go to confession (reconciliation).
- receive holy communion.
- say five decades of the rosary; and
- keep our lady company for fifteen minutes whilst meditating on the mysteries of the rosary.
- all of which are to be done with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Although a first glance this program appears to be quite straight-forward, some of the above points do need a bit of explanation. In 1926 Our Divine Lord clarified a few points raised by Sr. Lucia. For instance, Lucia had placed before Him the difficulty that certain people might have about confessing on Saturday, and she asked if it might be valid to go to Confession within eight days. Jesus answered her as follows: “Yes, and it could be longer still provided that, when they receive Me, they are in a state of grace and have the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary” (“Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words”, p. 196).
Lucia then asked: “My Jesus, what about those who forget to make this intention?”
To which Our Lord replied: “They can do it at their next Confession, taking advantage of the next opportunity to go to Confession” (ibid.).
Some Further Clarifications
For those who like to make the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary concurrently with the Nine First Fridays, the Confession of reparation during the week can count for both devotions, provided that the right intentions are there for both.
Our Lady never directly referred to the Mass as being part of the program, but mentioned only Communion. Normally, however, one receives Holy Communion within the context of the Mass. Our Lady was undoubtedly making an allowance here for the sick and bed-ridden, or, in the case where a particular parish might not have Mass on a given first Saturday, but only a Communion service. Under such unavoidable circumstances, one’s chance of fulfilling the Five First Saturdays would not be jeopardised.
For the Rosary, only five decades are required, not fifteen.
Fifteen Minutes’ Meditation
The Meditation, whilst keeping Our Lady company, may be on one, or on several, or on all of the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, according to individual preference.
All done with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
then proceeded to stress the importance of the obedience factor, relevant also in the case of Na’aman as I would explain here:
The Devotion Must be Done Properly
It is important that one takes pains to fulfil the devotion strictly according to what Our Lord has commanded. For He made it absolutely clear at Tuy in 1926 that He would rather one does five first Saturdays well, with the right intention, than more than five, completed in a careless fashion. It is our obedience that is being put to the test here. And so one should not quibble about certain aspects of the devotion, or try to “improve” on it. This word of caution is more necessary than one might think. Sometimes the piously inclined choose to worship God according to their own terms, rather than his. But the form of worship that really pleases God is that of obedient co-operation with his holy Will. It is this factor that will ensure that pious souls gain for themselves, and for their neighbour, the full benefit of the Five First Saturdays.
The Story of Naaman
There are so many passages throughout the Sacred Scriptures that prove that God prefers obedience and the immolation of one’s will, to a multitude of sacrifices offered in a spirit of self-love. In other words, God is especially concerned about the intention that motivates our worship of Him. Perhaps no scriptural episode is more illustrative of this particular fact than the story of Naaman, army commander to the king of Syria. We find the account of Naaman in the Second Book of Kings, chapter 2.
This Naaman was a leper, who approached the prophet Elisha for a cure. But when Elisha laid down his God-inspired terms, namely that Naaman “go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will become clean once more”, Naaman was indignant (vv. 10-11). Elisha’s terms were not to his liking. He wanted the cure to be effected according to his own terms. Surely, he argued, Elisha could simply have come and waved his hand over the leprous part, and invoke the Lord God, and he would have been cured. Or, failing that, at least the prophet could have allowed him to bathe, not in the insignificant Jordan river, but rather in the impressive rivers Abana and Pharpar of his own country, Syria, “better than any water in Israel!” And he turned around contemptuously “and went off in a rage”; and, needless to say, without a cure (vv. 11-12).
Fortunately for Naaman, however, this was not the end of the story. We are told that his own servants reproached him for saying that, had the prophet Elisha told him “to do something difficult”, would he not have done it? All the more reason, then, should he have for obeying the simple request: “bathe, and you will become clean” (v. 13).
This common sense argument of his servants had the necessary effect of Naaman, who now went off and did exactly what Elisha had commanded him to do, “and his flesh became once more like the flesh of a little child” (vv. 11-14).
And so we find that God wanted Naaman to be cured more than Naaman himself wanted it. Despite the fact that the program that God had revealed to the Syrian through his prophet was an entirely simple one, Naaman initially lacked the necessary disposition of humble obedience that would enable him to fulfil it. And so Naaman was cured only when, eventually, he renounced his own will in preference to that of God.
Now, it is exactly the same in the case of the Five First Saturdays. Heaven has made a simple request through Our Lady of the Rosary. Her program is not difficult, but is well within the reach of all Catholics, provided that they have the right disposition. And the promise associated with its proper fulfillment is one of being cleansed of spiritual leprosy and restored to perfect health in the sight of God.
But, unfortunately, Naaman’s much more deep-seated affliction of indignant pride, causing him to look to complicate a simple matter when it was not to his liking, is an all-too common ailment. Many are of the entrenched position that, if a thing is not difficult to accomplish, then it cannot be worthwhile. It is vitally necessary therefore that the less complicated souls, those who love obedience and who are already properly practising the Communion of Reparation, persist (like Naaman’s wise servants) in their efforts to persuade others to relinquish their own haughtiness and to obey Heaven’s simple request in regard to the Five First Saturdays. God wants our simple obedience much more than He wants great effort from us. Our Lady of the Rosary has promised that those who wholeheartedly embrace the devotion to her Immaculate Heart will be saved. As Naaman’s flesh became like the flesh of a little child – but only after he had submitted to the will of God – so will the souls of those who obediently practice the devotion of reparation become childlike and innocent, even if previously they were not so.
The wonderful effects of such obedience will be out of all proportion to the small degree of self-sacrifice involved.