“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel

 by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

The Book of Daniel is charged with all sorts of historical inaccuracies, a fault more likely of the perceived history rather than of the Book of Daniel itself. Admittedly, some of the things that the author of Daniel attributes to “King Nebuchednezzar” appear to be better suited to Nabonidus, the supposed last king of the Babylonian (Chaldean) empire. Yet there might be a good reason why this is the case. In very many ways, it seems, King Nabonidus reflects the “Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel.

  

 

Introduction

 

Reading once again Paul-Alain Beaulieu’s book, The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 B.C. (1989), I noticed various “Nebuchednezzar” characteristics in King Nabonidus.

Not least was the fact that, Nabonidus had, like “Nebuchednezzar”, a son named “Belshazzar”.

There was also a seeming tendency on Nabonidus’s part towards a kind of monotheism – revering Sîn, the El of the Aramaeans – and a seeming rejection of the national god, Marduk. Coupled with this was, not unnaturally, a discomfort with the Babylonian clergy and wise men.

Nabonidus, like king Nebuchednezzar II, had conquered Cilicia. We read about this at: https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/kue “KUE ku’ ĭ (קְוֵ֕ה). An ancient name for E Cilicia (Rom.: Cilicia Pedias), in SE Asia Minor. …. A document of Nebuchadnezzar II (dated between 595 and 570 b.c.), mentions the land of Hu-m-e, pronounced Khuwe or Khwe. It also occurs in the Istanbul Stele of Nabonidus”.

One also encounters many cases of Nabonidus’s recounting his own dreams.

I found so many similarities beginning to loom that I eventually came to the conclusion that Nabonidus probably was king Nebuchednezzar (or Nebuchedrezzar) II ‘the Great’ – that what we have recorded of Nabonidus simply represents the first phase of the long reign of Nebuchednezzar II.

This revised view will necessitate that I now modify some of my previous articles on this era.

Admittedly, there appear to be some immediate problems with this unexpected new scenario. For one, there is Nabonidus’s own obvious reverence for a past king, “Nebuchednezzar”. However, my revision might be able to account for that:

 

Nebuchednezzar I as the ‘Babylonian Face’ of Sargon II/Sennacherib

 

https://www.academia.edu/9584842/Nebuchednezzar_I_as_the_Babylonian_Face_of_Sargon_II_Sennacherib

 

As is apparent from Beaulieu, Nabonidus considered himself to be the successor of the great Assyrian empire – a viewpoint that would have more clout perhaps if he had ruled closer to that period (c. 605 BC) than Nabonidus is conventionally considered to have done (c. 556 BC).

Then there is Nabonidus’s strange disappearance to Teima (Tayma) in Arabia for ten years. During some of this time he was ill. It is due to this situation that scholars think that the Book of Daniel has confused Nebuchednezzar with Nabonidus. Indeed a Dead Sea Scrolls fragment tells of a protracted illness suffered by Nabonidus. We shall read about this in the next section.

 

The Madness of Nabonidus

 

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Nabonidus

Nabonidus (Akkadian Nabû-nāʾid) ….

Although his background is uncertain, his mother may have been a priestess of the moon god Sîn to whom Nabonidus was unusually devoted. He took the throne after the assassination of the boy-king Labashi-Marduk. It is not clear whether Nabonidus played a role in Labashi-Marduk’s death.

As king, Nabonidus was maligned by the priests of the chief Babylonian deity Marduk. It is believed this was caused by Nabonidus overt devotion to Sîn and his lack of attention to the city’s important New Year’s festival. During several years of his kingship, Nabonidus was absent at the Arabian oasis of Tayma. During this period his son Belshazzar reigned in his place. The reasons for his long absence remain a matter of controversy, with theories ranging from illness, to madness, to an interest in religious archaeology.

….

In his own inscriptions, Nabonidus himself makes no claim to known royal origins … although he refers to his otherwise unknown father, Nabu-balatsu-iqbi, as “wise prince.” His mother was connected to the temple of the moon god Sîn in Harran, but her ancestry, too, is unknown. The fact that Nabonidus makes repeated references to Ashurbanipal, the last great Neo-Assyrian king, has been cited as evidence that he may have been of Assyrian origin. However Nabonidus’ Persian successor, Cyrus the Great, also referred to Ashurbanipal, so this is hardly conclusive evidence.

In most ancient accounts, Nabonidus is depicted as a royal anomaly. He worshiped the moon god Sîn (mythology) beyond all the other gods, and paid special devotion to Sîn’s temple in Harran, where his mother was a priestess. After successful campaigns in Edom and Cilicia (modern Turkey) early in his reign, he left Babylon, residing at the rich desert oasis of Tayma, (Temâ) in Arabia, returning only after many years. In the meantime, his son Belshazzar ruled from Babylon.

Nabonidus is harshly criticized for neglecting the Babylonian chief god, Marduk and failing to observe the New Year festivals in Babylon. The Nabonidus Chronicle complains that for several years: “The king did not come to Babylon for the [New Year’s] ceremonies… the image of the god Bêl (Marduk) did not go out of the Esagila (temple) in procession, the festival of the New Year was omitted.”

 

Nabonidus’ stay in Tayma

 

Why Nabonidus stayed in Tayma for so long is a matter of uncertainty. He seems to have become interested in the place during his campaign against Edom. Tayma was an important oasis, from which lucrative Arabian trade routes could be controlled.

However, why Nabonidus stayed for so long—about ten years, from circa 553-543—remains a mystery. One theory is that he was not comfortable in Babylon, which was the center of Marduk worship, where he was expected to perform public rites centering on Marduk‘s cult during the annual New Year’s festival. On the fifth day of the festival, the king was required to submit himself to Marduk in the person of the high priest, who would temporarily strip him of his crown and royal insignia, returning them only after the king prayed for forgiveness and received a hard slap in the face from the priest. Moreover, on the eighth day, the king had to implore all the gods to support and honor Marduk, an act which may have been unacceptable to Nabonidus if he was devoted to Sin as supreme. Some have suggested that Tayma was attractive to Nabonidus as an archaeological site, where he might find sacred inscriptions or prophecies related to his own spiritual quest.

 

[My comment]: But it may also have been due to his sickness and madness.

This is where newworldencyclopedia introduces that Dead Sea Scrolls document:

 

Another possibility is that the king had become seriously ill and went to the oasis of Tayma to recover. In the Dead Sea Scrolls, a fragment known as the Prayer of Nabonidus relates that Nabonidus suffered from an ulcer, causing him to retreat from civilization and stay in Tayma until he was healed by a Jewish exorcist after praying to the Hebrew God:

I, Nabonidus, was afflicted with an evil ulcer for seven years, and far from men I was driven, until I prayed to the most high God. And an exorcist pardoned my sins. He was a Jew from among the children of the exile of Judah… During my stay at Tayma, I prayed to the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood, stone and lime, because I thought and considered them gods….

This legend may explain a confusing issue in the Book of Daniel, in which the king in question is called Nebuchadnezzar. However, this Nebuchadnezzar’s son is named Belshazzar, which was in fact the name of Nabonidus’ son, who reigned in his stead while Nabonidus was at Tayma. It may thus be the case that the Book of Daniel confuses Nabonidus with Nebuchadnezzar. However, Daniel describes its king’s disease as a type of madness, rather than an ulcer, saying: “He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird” (Daniel 4:33).

….

Although Nabonidus’ personal preference for Sîn is clear, scholars are divided regarding the degree of his supposed monotheism. In the Nabonidus cylinder currently displayed at the British Museum, the king refers to the moon god as “Sîn, king of the gods of heaven and the netherworld, without whom no city or country can be founded.” Some claim that it is obvious from his inscriptions that he became almost henotheistic, considering Sîn as the national god of Babylon superior even to Marduk.

Others, however, insist that Nabonidus, while personally devoted to Sîn, respected the other cults in his kingdom, pointing out that he supported construction works to their temples and did not suppress their worship. …. In this theory, his negative image is due mainly to his long absence from Babylon during his stay in Tayma, during which the important, Marduk-centered New Year festival could not take place, a fact which deeply offended the priests of Marduk. These priests, who were highly literate, left records denigrating the king in a fashion similar to the priests of Jerusalem denigrating the Israelite kings who did not properly honor Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible. In fact, there is no sign of the civil unrest during Nabonidus’ reign, not even during his absence, and he was able to return to his throne and assert his authority with no apparent problem.

However, Nabonidus did remove important cultic statues and their attendants from southern Mesopotamia and brought them to Babylon. ….

[End of quote]

 

—————————————————————————————-

“… within the canonical book of Daniel, Daniel 4 is widely agreed to be originally a Nabonidus story”.

—————————————————————————————-

 

Carol A. Newsom has discerned some intriguing parallels between Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar” and King Nabonidus ((WHY NABONIDUS? EXCAVATING TRADITIONS FROM QUMRAN, THE HEBREW BIBLE, AND NEO-BABYLONIAN SOURCES. Emphasis added):

http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/docserver/nij9789004185845_57-80.pdf?expires

 

One of the most fruitful places for examining the transmission of traditions and the production of texts is surely the literature associated with the figure of Daniel. Even before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars explored the differences between the versions of Daniel found in the Masoretic Text of Daniel and the Septuagint, with its additional narratives and poems, as well as the different version of Daniel 4–6 in the Old Greek manuscripts. The Qumran finds showed that there was an even more extensive Danielic literature, with two compositions featuring Daniel making historical and eschatological predictions in a court setting (4Q243–244, 4Q245), and two compositions

using language or motifs similar to those of Daniel 2 and 7 (4Q246, 4Q552–553).1 The longstanding suspicion of scholars that Daniel 4 was originally a narrative about Nabonidus received additional support from the discovery of 4Q242 Prayer of Nabonidus. ….

These texts are evidence both for the complexity of the Danielic tradition and the creativity of its authors, as they appropriated and recycled [sic] useful elements, combining them with usable bits and pieces from other literary and oral traditions in order to produce new compositions. Nowhere are we better positioned to examine this process than with the texts that were originally associated with Nabonidus, for in addition to the Jewish narratives, we also have an extensive neo-Babylonian literature, including both Nabonidus’ own self-presentation in his inscriptions and literary representations of Nabonidus by his enemies. …. Although this material has been intensively studied, recent research on the historical Nabonidus may shed additional light on the composition and development of the Jewish Nabonidus literature. In addition, two questions have not heretofore received sufficient attention. First, to the extent that one can peer through the Jewish Nabonidus texts to the early stages of their composition, what can one say about the motivation for their composition and their possible function as social rhetoric? Second, since important comparative material exists, is it possible to develop a model that suggests how the authors of this literature actually produced new stories from their source material?

 

The Corpus of Jewish Nabonidus Literature

 

One of the initial issues to be explored is the extent of Jewish Nabonidus literature. The Prayer of Nabonidus is the one text explicitly identified with him. But within the canonical book of Daniel, Daniel 4 is widely agreed to be originally a Nabonidus story. …. To this one can add Daniel 5, since it is a story about Nabonidus’ son Belshazzar. It has also been suggested that other compositions of the Daniel cycle may have originated as stories about Nabonidus, notably Daniel 3. Although the details of the narrative do not correspond to anything actually done by either Nebuchadnezzar or Nabonidus, the erecting of a strange image and requiring worship of it may well preserve a parodic echo of Nabonidus’ notorious championing of the moon god Sin. …. Indeed, two of his most controversial actions were the installation of a new and non-traditional cult statue of the moon god in Sin’s temple in Harran and his attempt to persuade the priests of Marduk that the Esagil temple in Babylon actually belonged to the moon god, because of the iconography of the lunar crescent found there. …. In addition, Paul-Alain Beaulieu has recently argued that the motif of the fiery furnace in Daniel 3 is actually derived from a literary topos that was part of the Neo-Babylonian school curriculum. Together, these elements strongly suggest that the basic structure of the narrative may go back to the sixth century. ….

The case for Daniel 2 as originally a Nabonidus narrative is weaker but not without plausibility. Of the Neo-Babylonian kings only Nabonidus had an interest in ominous and revelatory dreams or recorded them in his inscriptions. …. Dreams, however, are not uncommon elements in Israelite and early Jewish storytelling, as the notable parallel of Pharaoh’s dream in Genesis 41 demonstrates. Still, it is not the fact of the dream but the role it plays in the narrative of Daniel 2 that is suggestive. The narrative is dated to “the second year” of the king’s reign, and it is thus quite likely that the king’s distress at the ominous dream is intended to suggest anxiety as to the security of his reign. In Daniel, of course, the dream and its interpretation are a Hellenistic era composition [sic], since they contain references to a sequence of kingdoms, ending with that of the Greeks (vv. 36–44). Some scholars have suggested, however, that this particular dream or elements of it are secondary, since its eschatological orientation contrasts quite sharply with the way in which the narratives in Daniel 1–6 in general tend to accommodate to gentile power by representing the kings as recognizing the power of the Judean god. …. While any argument about an earlier version of Daniel 2 must be speculative, it is the case that Nabonidus, a usurper who was not part of the dynastic family, was anxious about the legitimacy of his kingship. In an inscription composed during his first regnal year, Nabonidus himself reports an ominous dream he had concerning the conjunction of the moon (Sin) and the great star (Marduk). A “young man” in the dream tells him that “the conjunction does not involve evil portents.” …. Nabonidus goes on to report that in the dream Marduk “called him by name.” The similarity to Daniel 2, which concerns an ominous royal dream interpreted by a young man in an agreeable fashion, is thus quite intriguing.

 

[End of quote]

 

Part Two (i):

A Superstitious and ‘Unjust King’

 

 

“Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. This matter [is] by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the Holy Ones: to the intent that the living may know that The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men”.

 

Daniel 4:16-17

 

 

Introduction

 

Young Azariah, in the heart of the Fiery Furnace, was under no illusions about the character of “Nebuchednezzar” (v. 9): ‘Thou hast given us into the hands of lawless enemies, most hateful rebels, and to an unjust king, the most wicked in all the world’.

And this sentiment is supported also by Daniel 4:17, according to which “Nebuchednezzar” was “the basest of men”.

King Nabonidus – the same person as this “Nebuchednezzar”, according to Part One: https://www.academia.edu/22779651/Does_King_Nabonidus_Reflect_Daniel_s_Nebuchednezzar_ – often considered to have been an eccentric king with a penchant for archaeology, was apparently, however, not a man of great civilisation and culture. Unlike the towering figure of Ashurbanipal, a C7th BC king of Assyria, who could boast of being able to read ancient scripts (even before the Flood) and who possessed a magnificent library, Nabonidus could not read, though he was inquisitive. So we read in Paul-Alain Beaulieu’s book, The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 B.C. (1989), this later criticism of the king from the Verse Account (p. 215):

 

He would stand up in the assembly (and) praise him[self]: “I am wise. I am knowledgeable. I have seen hid[den things]. (Although) I do not know the art of writing, I have seen se[cret things]. …”.

 

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

 

 

[A note: Beaulieu gives in a footnote [47.] here, “Oannes Adapa”, “Oannes” being the fish-man thought by some to have been the prophet Jonah himself. I have tentatively identified Jonah with the Rechabite, Jehonadab, the latter part of that name being phonetically close to Adapa. “Prophet Jonah and the Beginnings of a New History. Part Two: Jonah as a Rechabitehttps://www.academia.edu/17379137/Prophet_Jonah_and_the_Beginnings_of_a_New_History._Part_Two_Jonah_as_a_Rechabite].

 

 

In Beaulieu’s book (pp. 151-152), we read further of King Nabonidus:

 

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

 

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

To be fair to Nabonidus, his boastfulness, his illiteracy, and his superstitious tendencies were not peculiar to him alone amongst the ancient kings. He could never have outdone some of the Assyrian kings in their boasting and self-exaltation. And probably most of them could not read. Less common though, perhaps, was his emphasis upon his dreams – a significant factor, too, in the case of Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”.

 

Some Historical Uncertainty Regarding

Nebuchednezzar II, and/or Nabonidus

 

Now, in the course of my reading and re-reading Beaulieu’s book on King Nabonidus, I have been struck by the uncertainties here and there with determining whether something ought to be attributed to, now Nebuchednezzar II, now Nabonidus. The very same tendency I had encountered in the case of, now Sargon II, now Sennacherib. My resolution of the latter situation had been – as here with Nebuchednezzar II, Nabonidus – to propose a merger, hence:

 

Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib

 

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

 

So the thrust of this present article could likewise be rendered:

 

‘Babylonian King Nebuchednezzar II, Otherwise Known as Nabonidus’.

 

Baulieu (pp. 4-5):

 

Berger and von Soden suggested that another literary composition, originally called by Lambert “Nebuchadnezzar King of Justice” (Lambert 1965), might have been a piece of propaganda commissioned by Nabonidus himself (Berger 1974: 222 n. 51, and von Soden 1983: 63). According to Lambert, who published the text, there are two arguments in favor of Nebuchadnezzar II: the word nagû “region”, which occurs in this text, is attested only in the inscriptions of that king, and a large section of the text, which describes provisions made for the daily use of the gods, recalls a similar passage of the Wadi Brissa inscription of Nebuchadezzar II, with many coincidences of wording. Against Lambert’s argument one should note that the word nagû does occur in the inscription of Adad-Guppi [mother of Nabonidus] …. But the similarities with the Wadi Brissa inscription remain quite conclusively in favor of Nebuchadezzar II. ….  Therefore, as arguments in favor of Nebuchadnezzar II outweigh those in favor of other kings, it would be unwise to use it as a source for the reign of Nabonidus.

[End of quote]

 

Again, the building efforts of Nabonidus in relation to the wall Imgur-Enlil – but not those of Nebuchednezzar II – are completely overlooked in the Verse Account and the Cyrus Cylinder. (Ibid., pp. 38-39):

 

… Nabonidus undertook to repair the wall (al-Rawi 1985). Interestingly enough, according to the Verse Account and the Cyrus Cylinder, Cyrus also proceeded to repair the wall Imgur-Enlil shortly after the capture of Babylon, thus completing the fortifications of Nebuchadnezzar II:

 

….

[He (Cyrus) took up the earth] basket and completed the wall of Babylon in order to execute [the original plan of] Nebuchadnezzar of his own consent.

 

….

 

I (Cyrus) sought to strengthen the work of the wall Imgur-Enlil, the great wall of Babylon ….

 

Although these texts do not explicitly state that Nabonidus neglected the fortifications of Babylon, they certainly carry this message indirectly by stressing Cyrus’ eagerness to repair the Imgur-Enlil while ignoring Nabonidus’ own building activities here.

 

[End of quote]

 

In articles pertaining to Sargon II, Sennacherib, I have referred to the presumption of Assyriologists in, for instance, inserting the name “Sargon” where it did not originally appear.

Supposition is rife, too, with regard to the following document (“one can presume that Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned” … “Nabonidus is most likely to be identified as this ruler”). Thus Beaulieu writes (p. 41):

 

…. This fragment of a clay cylinder was found during the French excavations at Kish, in the surroundings of the Palace …. There is no conclusive evidence that it belongs to an inscription of Nabonidus …. However, since line 3 has lugal maḫ-ri lugal tin. tirki, one can presume that Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned as a predecessor of the king who commissioned the inscription. Nabonidus is most likely to be identified as this ruler.

 

[End of quote]

 

And, on the same page, there is reference to another “fragmentary clay cylinder”: “It can be assigned to the Neo-Babylonian period on stylistic grounds. It is usually attributed to Nebuchadnezzar II, though arguments in favor of Nabonidus seem more conclusive …”.

Also, regarding the restoration of the palace near the Šamaš-gate, similar confusion (p. 100):

 

The inscription is usually ascribed to Nebuchadnezzar, but there is no evidence to support this assumption. In fact, it even seems dubious that Nebuchadnezzar ever restored this palace, since it is never mentioned in those inscriptions of his which contain a list of all the building works he undertook in Babylon …. Therefore there is a strong possibility that the inscription belongs to Nabonidus, as believed by Berger (Berger 1973: 381), although he has no conclusive evidence either.

[End of quote]

 

Beaulieu, when discussing “The Evidence From Monumental Texts” (pp. 104-105), will exhibit further presumption when making this startling comment (my emphasis):

 

The first part reports on the reign of four previous kings, Sennacherib, Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar, and Neriglissar: although neither Sennacherib, nor Nabopolassar, nor Nebuchadnezzar are mentioned by name … there is no doubt from the context that they are meant.

 

That appears to be a very big leap in ‘faith’!

 

 

Part Two (ii):

Golden-Headed Power

 

 

 

In very many ways, it seems, King Nabonidus does reflect the “Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel. My explanation of this is, however, not that the author of Daniel confused two Chaldean kings, but, rather, that King Nabonidus was Nebuchednezzar II (who was also Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”).

 

 

 

The King’s Imperial Ambitions

 

Our composite biblico-historical Chaldean king was presented in Part Two (i) of this series: https://www.academia.edu/23725556/Does_King_Nabonidus_Reflect_Daniel_s_Nebuchednezzar_Part_Two_i_A_Superstitious_and_Unjust_King_ as being a base, unjust and highly superstitious monarch. Even the extremely courteous and respectful prophet Daniel, who was most reluctant to reveal to “Nebuchednezzar” the terrible meaning of his dream (Daniel 4:19):

 

Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!”,

 

had felt constrained, nonetheless, to deliver to the king this reproach (v. 27): ‘Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue’.

Daniel’s assessment of the king basically reflected that of Daniel’s young compatriot, Azariah: ‘Thou hast given us into the hands of lawless enemies, most hateful rebels, and to an unjust king, the most wicked in all the world’.

I also referred to the fact that historians can tend to conclude that King Nabonidus was an eccentric king with a penchant for archaeology. More than likely, however, his undoubted antiquarian interests would differ from those of the typical modern archaeologist. The proud and superstitious king’s interest in the past may have been due, in large part, to his regarding ancient relics as talismans of power and having propaganda value – just as certain Nazis strove to discover the sacred Spear of Destiny or penetrate to the roots of Aryanism.

Paul-Alain Beaulieu, in his book, The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 B.C. (1989), tells that (p. 5) “… during excavation of the foundations of the Ebabbar [temple at Sippar], an old statue of Sargon of Akkad is found. Nabonidus orders its restoration …”.

Now D. Petrovich has identified Sargon of Akkad with the biblical Nimrod:

https://www.academia.edu/2184113/_2013_Identifying_Nimrod_of_Genesis_10_with_Sargon_of_Akkad_by_Exegetical_and_Archaeological_Means and there is much of the rise and fall of biblical Babel in the saga of the rise and fall of the proud builder-king “Nebuchednezzar”. On p. 135 Beaulieu informs us that Nabonidus “established an oblation for it [statue of Sargon]” in the Ebabbar, and that this was done, without doubt, “in his second year”. And it was “in the second year of his reign” (Daniel 2:1) that “Nebuchednezzar” dreamed of an “awesome” statue (v. 31): “Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance”.

The highly superstitious king had similarly honoured Daniel after the young Jewish sage had interpreted his first Dream for him (2:46): “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him”.

Did the discovery of Sargon’s statue that same year prompt the Dream of “Nebuchednezzar”? And, had it set “Nebuchednezzar” wondering if he might be able to emulate the greatness of the legendary Sargon of Akkad? (V. 29): “As Your Majesty was lying there [in bed], your mind turned to things to come, and the Revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen”. This is how Beaulieu interprets the matter of the finding of Sargon’s statue (p. 141):

 

Another interesting example of Nabonidus’ antiquarian interest is the discovery of the statue of Sargon in Sippar. He may have intended to connect himself with this most prestigious ruler of Mesopotamia’s past …. According to the Royal Chronicle, Nabonidus restored the statue of Sargon because of his “reverence for the gods and (his) respect for kingship”. This statement is crucial, as it provides a unique piece of evidence for assessing the nature of Nabonidus’ antiquarian interest: his restoration of Sargon’s statue was motivated not solely by religious factors, but also by a purely profane interest in the past, particularly in this case where it concerned the first great imperial period in Mesopotamian history. ….

  1. 142: “His antiquarian and historical interest may thus be explained from a political angle”.

[End of quotes]

 

Beaulieu gets to the heart of the ambitious yearnings of King Nabonidus, I think, when he suggests that Nabonidus “considered his own reign a resurrection of a universal empire on the Assyrian and Akkadian model …”.

His affinity for the Assyrians would perhaps make even more sense if Nabonidus were the same as Nebuchednezzar II, who had come to power (c. 605 BC, conventional dating) only about a decade after the Fall of Nineveh (c. 612 BC, conventional dating) – whereas Nabonidus is thought to have begun to rule significantly later, in 556 BC.

Beaulieu writes of the king’s pro-Assyrianism (p. 143):

 

Nabonidus … calls the Assyrian kings his “royal ancestors” (inscription 15), and considers the sequence of the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian states to be one of imperial continuity (inscription 1 and stela of Adad-Guppi). When … after his return from Teima [Arabia] … he even went one step further by assuming the titulary of the Assyrian kings in two of his inscriptions (inscriptions 15 and 19) …. His interest in the Sargonic [Akkadian] dynasty, which had always been remembered in literary and historical tradition as the climax of Mesopotamian power, and which undoubtedly inspired the late Sargonid [Neo-Assyrian] kings, can also be explained in the light of his imperial ambitions. In short, Nabonidus considered his own reign a resurrection of a universal empire on the Assyrian and Akkadian model, but centred in Babylon, a project which his predecessors never seemed to have contemplated, or at least one to which they never gave any political expression. ….

[End of quote]

 

Had not the Jewish sage, Daniel, recently revealed to the king what must have been as music to those egotistical ears: “You are the head of gold”. Thus Daniel informed the king (2:37-38):

 

‘Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold’.

 

Hardly surprising, then, in light of this, to find Nabonidus early in his third year praying so ambitiously to the god Šamaš (Beaulieu, pp. 144-145):

 

(O Šamaš), cause the radiance of your … royal brilliance, to march at my side for plundering the land of my enemy. May I overwhelm the country of my foes. May I slay my opponents. May I take booty from my adversaries. May I bring to my country the possession of all lands. I am indeed a king provider who restores the sacred places and completes the (rebuilding of) sanctuaries forever. At the mention of my prestigious name, may all my adversaries be afraid and quiver, may they bow down at my feet, may they pull my yoke for long days, may they bring into my presence their important tribute in my city Babylon.

[End of quote]

 

Still on p. 145, Beaulieu likens the ambitions of Nabonidus to those of Nebuchednezzar II:

 

… in two inscriptions written just before the most important military campaign of his reign [to Arabia], Nabonidus made significant references to his imperial policy. Of course, these two passages are not the only examples of their kind: similar ones can be found in the inscriptions of Nebuchednezzar. ….

 

Indeed, they can.

All, this occurred in the early days of the ambition and power of “Nebuchednezzar”, before his madness and temporary fall from imperial grace.

  1. 144: “… Nabonidus put forward an aggressive military policy from the very beginning, and he based his legitimacy to a large extent on the need for Babylonia to be ruled by a man experienced in military matters, which is easily perceived by studying inscription 1”.

And p. 147: “… references to these same regions in inscriptions before the campaign of the third year constitute evidence that Nabonidus had been contemplating the consolidation of the Babylonian power in Lebanon and Transjordan and the conquest of Arabia since his accession year”.

Yet it is wondered why the imperialistic-minded Nabonidus appeared to have done so little militarily in the first three years of his reign.

But simply couple Nabonidus with Nebuchednezzar II, and then we get this (prior to year 4):

http://www.livius.org/sources/content/mesopotamian-chronicles-content/abc-5-jerusalem-chronicle/

 

[Obv.1] In the twenty-first year [605/604] the king of Akkad [Nabopolassar] stayed in his own land, Nebuchadnezzar his eldest son, the crown-prince,

[Obv.2] mustered the Babylonian army and took command of his troops; he marched to Karchemiš which is on the bank of the Euphrates,

[Obv.3] and crossed the river to go against the Egyptian army which lay in Karchemiš.

[Obv.4] They fought with each other and the Egyptian army withdrew before him.

[Obv.5] He accomplished their defeat and beat them to non-existence. As for the rest of the Egyptian army

[Obv.6] which had escaped from the defeat so quickly that no weapon had reached them, in the district of Hamath

[Obv.7] the Babylonian troops overtook and defeated them so that not a single man escaped to his own country.

[Obv.8] At that time Nebuchadnezzar conquered the whole area of Hamath.

[Obv.9] For twenty-one years Nabopolassar had been king of Babylon,

[Obv.10] when on 8 Abunote[15 August 605.] he went to his destiny; in the month of Ululunote[September.] Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon

[Obv.11] and on 1 Ululunote[7 September 605.] he sat on the royal throne in Babylon.

[Obv.12] In the accession year Nebuchadnezzar went back again to the Hatti-land and until the month of Šabatunote[Early 604.]

[Obv.13] marched unopposed through the Hatti-land;  in the month of Šabatu he took the heavy tribute of the Hatti-territory to Babylon.

[Obv.14] In the month of Nisannu{{Spring 604.__ he took the hands of Bêl and the son of Bêl and celebrated the Akitu Festival.

[Obv.15] In the first year of Nebuchadnezzar [604/603] in the month of Simanunote[Late Spring.] he mustered his army

[Obv.16] and went to the Hatti-territory, he marched about unopposed in the Hatti-territory until the month of Kislîmu.note[End 604.]

[Obv.17] All the kings of the Hatti-land came before him and he received their heavy tribute.

[Obv.18] He marched to the city of Aškelon and captured it in the month of Kislîmu.note[End 604.]

[Obv.19] He captured its king and plundered it and carried off spoil from it.

[Obv.20] He turned the city into a mound and heaps of ruins and then in the month of Šabatunote[Early 603.] he marched back to Babylon.

[Obv.21] In the second year [603/602] in the month of Ajarunote[Spring 603.] the king of Akkad gathered together a powerful army and marched to the land of Hatti.

[Obv.22] …]  he threw down, great siege-towers he […

[Obv.23] …] from the month of Ajaru until the mon[th of …] he marched about unopposed in the land of Hatti.

[Obv.24-27] [Four lines missing]

[Rev.] [Several lines missing]

[Rev.1′] In the third year [602/601] the king of Akkad left and

[Rev.2′] in the month of […] on the thirteenth day, [the king’s brother] Nabû-šuma-lišir […]

[Rev.3′] The king of Akkad mustered his troops and marched to the Hatti-land.

[Rev.4′] and brought back much spoils from the Hatti-land into Akkad.

….

[End of quote]

 

As we read above: “Nabonidus had been contemplating the consolidation of the Babylonian power in Lebanon and Transjordan and the conquest of Arabia since his accession year”.

 

Now, also in conformity with the testimony of the Book of Daniel, King Nabonidus is known to have had a notable son called “Belshazzar”, famous for the ‘Writing on the Wall’ incident (Daniel 5). A now-aged Daniel will recall to the mind of this reckless king the almost limitless power and wealth of his father, “Nebuchednezzar”, prior to his bout of madness (vv. 18-20):

 

‘Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory’.

 

But that was not the end of the story, for as we can read earlier in the Book of Daniel, the king, now greatly humbled, would return to even greater fame and might (4:36-37):

 

‘At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble’.

 

 

 

Part Two (iii):

Dreams, Astrologers, a Statue, Wealth

 

 

 

The early career of the Chaldean king, Nabonidus, may be replete with parallel likenesses to that as written about the “Nebuchednezzar” in Daniel chapters 1-5.

 

 

 

 

Confounding the Astrologers

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

[End of quote]

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

[End of quote]

 

No wonder in the Book of Daniel, then, we encounter an erratic king and his shifty servants!

Yet, the superstitious king was forever consulting his sages.

Daniel 2:2-3: “So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, ‘I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means’.”

Daniel 4:6-7: “So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me”.

And likewise his son, Belshazzar (Daniel 5:7): “… summoned the enchanters, astrologers and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom”.”

Appropriately, we found that Nabonidus had an influential son named “Belshazzar”. Moreover, that Belshazzar was a contemporary of a new emperor, Cyrus.

The criticism may be raised against my view that King Nabonidus was Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’, that, whilst the latter is consistently given as having reigned for 43 years, Nabonidus is said to have reigned for only 17 years. Ronald H. Sack, in Neriglissar – King of Babylon. Alter Orient und Altes. Testament (1994), actually gives various figures for the length of the reign of Nabonidus.

 

  1. 3. A vase fragment from Uruk gives 5 years.

Other figures given by Sack are the common 17 years, but also 18 years.

  1. 17. Syncellus’s version of the Ptolemaïc Canon gives 34 years.

 

In other words, there is no overall consistency.

The 34 years comes much closer to what I believe to be the reality: 43 years.

 

Dreams, Illness, and Restoration

 

King Nabonidus was, like “Nebuchednezzar”, a king who experienced meaningful dreams. Beaulieu (p. 108): “In the beginning of my everlasting reign they (Marduk and Sîn) caused me to see a dream”. And, as in the Book of Daniel, “a young man” will assist the king with his dream. (P. 112): “Then a young man appeared who calmed the king’s troubled mind by giving him a favourable interpretation of his vision”.

Compare Daniel 2:16: “At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him”.

Regarding the “young man” in the case of King Nabonidus, Beaulieu makes this comment (ibid.):

 

The status of this young man is not specified, but there is a strong probability that he was a scholar who specialized in astrological lore: his reassuring intervention is reminiscent of the dreams reported in Ludlul bēl nēmeqi, in which two young priests successively appear to the author of the poem to assure him that his misfortunes will end soon (see Lambert 1960: 48-51).

[End of quote]

 

Nebuchednezzar, supposedly, had also appeared in this particular dream, there doing just what the “Nebuchednezzar” of Daniel had done, not allowing the dream to be repeated, despite the requests of the astrologers (2:5-7). Thus Beaulieu: “Nebuchednezzar did not answer the attendant’s request by merely letting Nabonidus repeat his dream, but by asking him what favourable signs he had seen …”.

Nabonidus would, like “Nebuchednezzar”, experience a terrifying dream whilst lying down. Concerning the latter, we read (Daniel 4:4-8):

 

 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous.  I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me.  So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me.  When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

 

And we read in Beaulieu, citing Col. III, these words of King Nabonidus (pp. 151-152):

 

I l[ay do]wn [and in a] frightening night dream, with? the order […..]. Fulfilled was the year, the appointed time arrived, of [……].

 

In each case, the dream has a [Divine?] decree, or “the order”, with a firmly fixed time. Daniel 4:23-24:

 

“Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’

 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king …”.

 

The king went away, but then, after the ordeal, returned to Babylon.

Beaulieu, p. 152: “From Teima I [proceeded? to] Babylon, [my] lord[ly] city [… …]”.

Daniel 4:36: “At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom”.

And the king was afforded a great welcome, with wealth and prosperity coming his way, for all of which he praised the deity.

Beaulieu, p. 152:

 

They saw and [… … … …]. They took? presents? of well-being?, to [… … … …]. The neighboring kings came up to me and kissed my feet, while the distant ones heard and revered his (Sîn’s) great godhead. The gods and goddesses who had fled to remote places … surrounded me and spoke good (things) on my behalf. And by the verdict of the diviner, my good sign was established. In abundance, plenty, and prosperity, I led my people from remote uplands and I took the road to my country in peace.

 

Similarly, Daniel 4:36-37:

 

My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

 

May it not be going to far to suggest that these are accounts of the very same one incident!

In support of this may be the view that the king’s Teima sojourn had also coincided with his phase of insanity.

Beaulieu here makes another reference to the Book of Daniel (p. 153):

 

These ten years [in Teima] were evidently not Babylonian years, since they were counted from Tašrītu and not from Nisanu. By using the religious calendar of Ḫarran, Nabonidus showed his neglect of the Babylonian New Year’s festival, one of the main charges brought against him in the Verse Account.

Another text containing allusions to the Teima period is the “Prayer of Nabonidus” from Qumran, which ascribes a length of seven years to the king’s stay in Arabia (Milik 1956). Since this document comes from a later and foreign tradition, which is otherwise known to have undergone further distortion [sic] in the Book of Daniel, it would be unwise to credit the chronological information it gives with any accuracy: the number seven was most probably used in this case as a round figure, a meaning it often has in the Bible and in the later Jewish tradition.

[End of quote]

 

Beaulieu tells of another case of a dream and the king’s illness, appropriately around his third year of reign (pp. 113-114):

 

In another dream he beheld the goddess Gula and prayed to her until she finally looked at him, thus indicating mercy. This visit to Gula’s shrine suggests that Nabonidus may have suffered from health problems at that time ….it is further borne out by a passage of the Chronicle for his third regnal year, which seems to suggest that he suffered some ailment during his military campaign to Lebanon …. (…. [The king became] ill but recuperated).

[End of quote]

 

Intriguingly, Beaulieu refers to this incident of illness in a context that of time that involves the number “seven” (Cf. Daniel 4:23: “… until seven times pass by for him”). P. 168: “Then Nabonidus falls ill but recovers, and, in the month Kislīmu … after an overall stay of seven months in that region, the army moves southwards to Amurru … and encamps against Edom in southern Transjordan”.

Appropriately (p. 174): “… Jewish exiles may even have figured prominently among the people brought by Nabonidus to Arabia …”.

 

Another Statue

 

Beaulieu makes a further reference to the Book of Daniel when discussing a relief possibly depicting King Nabonidus carved on the “Teima stone”, a stela found on the site in 1880 (pp. 176-177):

 

Another feature of the stela is a relief carved on its edge depicting in the upper register a standing bearded figure holding a long rod and wearing a tiara. The identity of the figure is uncertain, but it has been suggested that it represents the deified Nabonidus, who would have been the god Ṣalm himself, since it is almost identical with the reliefs depicting the king on inscriptions 13 and 14 …. However, if the god Ṣalm … was Nabonidus, then the name of this deity should definitely be connected with Akkadian ṣalmu “statue”, the name under which statues of deified rulers were worshipped in Assyria and Babylonia (Hallo 1988: 63). If this is true, it is not unlikely that Nabonidus would have been influenced by the discovery of the statue of Sargon during the excavation of the Ebabbar … for which he instituted divine offerings. Perhaps his desire to link himself with great rulers of the past induced him to accept a similar form of worship of himself in his Arabian capital. The tradition preserved in the Book of Daniel (chapter 3) of Nebuchednezzar (i.e. Nabonidus) making a statue (ṣalmā’) and forcing his subjects to worship it may ultimately go back to this deed of Nabonidus.

 

[End of quote]

 

I suggest that Beaulieu would not be far wrong in this last remark of his.

 

Abundant Wealth

 

The king’s illness (temporary insanity) may have been a reason for his departure to Teima in Arabia. Whilst, according to the Book of Daniel, “Nebuchednezzar” was “driven” out (4:32): “You will be driven away from people …”, Nabonidus attributes his departure to Teima to the impiety of the Babylonians, to “the people’s disregard of Sîn’s power (Col. I, 14-27)” (Beaulieu, p. 60).

The two may well be related.

But also, as Beaulieu discusses on pp. 180-183, for instance, wealthy Arabia was strategically most important to those dreaming of empire.

 

  1. 181:

Nabonidus’ conquest of Arabia does not stand out as a particularly strange move: such projects were characteristic of the imperialistic policy of all major empires that gained control of the Syro-Palestinian area in the first millennium B.C. Its singularity lies rather in its having been successful, unlike other attempts.

Logically the same motives lay behind all the attempts at controlling northern Arabia, and Nabonidus should a priori be no exception to the rule. All classical authors agree on the immense wealth of the region (Briant 1982: 142-45), which was based mostly on the control of the trade routes traversing it and linking the Syro-Palestinian area to South Arabia ….

  1. 183: “The monumental inscriptions written prior to the third year make frequent allusions to the wealth coming from the western regions of the empire, and there is little doubt that northern Arabia was considered a natural extension of these regions ….

 

[End of quotes]

 

No wonder, then, that Daniel could thus extol this king (2:37-38):

 

“Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold”.

 

(4:22): “You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth”.

 

 

Part Two (iv): ‘God of gods’

 

 

 

Though it would be much over-stating things to claim that King Nabonidus became a monotheist, there is a definite progression in that direction in the course of his reign.

 

 

 

 

“Monotheistic Tendency” of Nebuchednezzar II

 

  1. Boutflower has advanced a strong argument in his book, In and Around the Book of Daniel: https://archive.org/stream/inaroundbookofda00boutuoft/inaroundbookofda00boutuoft_djvu.txt for evidence of a trend towards a Marduk (Merodach) monotheism in various inscriptions of Nebuchednezzar II:

 

According, then, to this authority, No. 15 is the latest of the

inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar, and the Merodach tendency

noticed by Langdon is of necessity a monotheistic tendency, for

Merodach, who, as we have seen, is always foremost of the gods,

appears in some passages of this inscription to stand alone. Now

it is just in these monotheistic passages, these ” inserted prayers ”

and ” changes of text,” that we seem to see the work of the real

Nebuchadnezzar. Thus, immediately after the introductory

passage, which describes the position occupied by the king with

reference to Merodach and Nebo, there follows a hymn to those

divinities, col. i. 23 to ii. 39, extracted from inscriptions 19 and

  1. But in the middle of this hymn we meet with a prayer

addressed to Merodach alone : col. i. 51 to ii. 11, and this prayer,

be it noted, is an entirely original addition, not found in any previous

inscription. Jastrow remarks with reference to it, “The con-

ception of Merodach rises to a height of spiritual aspiration,

which comes to us as a surprise in a religion that remained steeped

in polytheism, and that was associated with practices and rites

of a much lower order of thought.” 2 This remarkable prayer

runs thus

 

“To Merodach my lord I prayed,

I addressed my supplication.

He had regard to the utterance of my heart,

I spake unto him:

‘Everlasting prince,

Lord of all that is,

for the king whom thou lovest,

whose name thou proclaimest,

who is pleasing to thee :

direct him aright,

lead him in the right path !

I am a prince obedient unto thee,

the creature of thy hands,

thou hast created me,

and hast appointed me to the lordship of multitudes of people.

According to thy mercy, Lord, which thou bestowest upon

all of them,

cause them to love thy exalted lordship :

cause the fear of thy godhead to abide in my heart !

Grant what to thee is pleasing,

for thou makest my life’.” ….

 

And a similar exaltation of the god, Sîn, in the case of King Nabonidus, is a central feature of Paul-Alain Beaulieu’s book, The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 B.C. (1989).

Beaulieu has interpreted Nabonidus’s exaltation of the moon god, Sîn, as “an outright usurpation of Marduk’s prerogatives”.

 

Sîn is the ilu/ilani sa ilani, “the god(s) of the gods.”

 

 

Whilst I, by no means, would presume to make the suggestion that, now Nebuchednezzar II, now Nabonidus, ever became a pure monotheist, the religious reform implemented during this period of Chaldean dominance is certainly most idiosyncratic and confronting.

 

According to one source (http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/whic/ReferenceDetailsPage/Reference):

 

Theological Revisions

 

Yet these considerations must not lead us to treat Nabonidus as a ruler in his dotage, devoid of vision or political skill. A study of the documents associated with his reign suggests exactly the opposite. The most original aspect of his reign is his attempt to introduce a religious reform centered on the worship of Sin of Haran, thereby challenging the superiority of Marduk, god of Babylon, whose supremacy over all other gods had been a theological verity in Babylon at least since Nebuchadnezzar I, half a millennium earlier. Although we do not doubt that Nabonidus knowingly launched this religious reform, we remain in the dark about the catalyst for his own beliefs as well as the political motivation that set him on his reforming path. Nevertheless, a pamphlet written against Nabonidus after his downfall and dubbed by modern scholars the “Verse Account of Nabonidus” charges the king with worshiping an incarnation of the moon-god called Ilteri. This is a precious piece of information, for behind the cuneiform spelling “Ilteri” is concealed the name of the West Semitic moon-god Sachar, worshiped in Syria, among Aramaeans who settled in Babylonia, and among the nomadic tribes of northern Arabia. Ilteri occurs frequently in West Semitic name formations, and there is reason to believe that Sin of Haran and Sachar were equated well before Nabonidus. What may have bothered the priests of Marduk in Babylon is not that their new king had gone beyond retaining his attachment to the god of his native city, Haran, but that he was aggressively declaring that god’s superiority over Marduk.

 

This observation, however, should not obscure the Mesopotamian component in Nabonidus’s religion. His devotion embraced more generally the Mesopotamian triad composed of Sin, Shamash, and Ishtar, which had enjoyed widespread popularity under the last Assyrian rulers. Nabonidus may well have espoused a tradition, not uniformly represented in Mesopotamia, that made Shamash and Ishtar the children of Sin. It is telling that of the building projects and the associated commemorative inscriptions that the king sponsored, only one is unrelated to the triad Sin-Shamash-Ishtar: restoration work on the temple of Lugal-Marada, the patron god of Marad, a city in northern Babylonia. Whenever Nabonidus lavished his patronage on the sanctuaries of specific deities, they involved Sin and his consort Ningal, Shamash and his vizier Bunene, and martial avatars of Ishtar (Ishtar of Agade, Anunitum). It is significant that the Eanna temple of Uruk, the major sanctuary of Ishtar in Babylonia, did not benefit from royal patronage, since Ishtar of Uruk was identified locally as the daughter (sometimes the consort) of the sky-god Anu.

 

[End of quote]

 

Whatever be the case, one finds from a perusal of Beaulieu’s book that King Nabonidus will address Sîn in words that the “Nebuchednezzar” of Daniel will use to address the God of Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaldeans Related to Sinites (Chinese)?

 Asthma History: 2000 B.C.: Chaldeans introduce physicians to Babylon

by

Damien F. Mackey

   

As there appears to be a very close connection between the Chinese language and that of the Sumerians – whom I previously identified, following professor Gunnar Heinsohn, with the ancient Chaldeans – then what may have been the origins of the Chinese?  

 

Introduction

 

According to conclusions reached in Part One of this series:

https://www.academia.edu/16610609/Lost_Culture_of_the_Chaldeans

 

  1. the Sumerians may have been the famed Chaldeans (professor Heinsohn’s view); and
  2. the ‘Ubaid civilisation may archaeologically represent this culture (Dr. Osgood’s view).

 

These interesting conclusions, when combined with two further ones, that:

 

  1. the Sumerian language has close affinities with Chinese; and that
  2. the Chinese, the biblical Sinites (Genesis 10:17), were similar to the Chaldeans,

 

may lead us to the very origins of the Chinese people and how far back is to be dated their actual beginnings.

The key biblical text for this will be Genesis 10:15, 17, 19:

 

“Canaan was the father of …the Hittites … Sinites ….

Later the Canaanite clans scattered …”.

 

 

Biblical Chinese and Chaldeans

 

The following article is, I think, most useful on this, though I may not agree with all details: http://www.brogilbert.org/chinese_genesis/1_genesis_chinese.HTM

 

….

There is increasing evidence of the connection between Biblical Genesis (Ch. 1-11) and the origin of Chinese Civilization. In Genesis 10 we have the Table of Nations, that is, the descendants of Noah’s three sons Shem, Ham and Japhet. Ham is regarded as the father of the Mongoloid and Negroid races because he generated Canaan whose two sons Heth (Hittites/Cathey) and Sin (Sinite/China) who are presumed to be the progenitors of the Mongoloid stock.

 

“The name Sin appears frequently in the Chinese language, and the city of Xian, a provincial capital in western China, was known as Sianfu in the nineteenth century, meaning “Father Sin.” Some scholars have suggested that the Sin referred to here may have been Fu Xi, the legendary first king of China, who began his reign in 2852 B.C. Later, when the first Chinese kingdom broke up in the first millennium B.C., a state named Qin (also spelled Tsin or Ch’in), arose near Xian; the Qin rulers reunited the land in the third century B.C., and the whole land became known as China, named after Qin. Thus the name “Sin” came to us in a roundabout fashion, altered over the ages to become “China.” The ancient name also appeared in its original form in the 1960s and 70s when news reports told about the “Sino-Soviet” border dispute.”

(see http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/A Biblical Interpretation of World History)

Most likely the Chinese Civilization began in the area of the former Chinese capital Shensi or Siang-fu (Father Sin) also called Hang’an and today called Xi’an meaning city of “Everlasting Peace”. This is the place where the Silk Road began and served as the first capital of the unified empire. “One ancient Chinese classic called the “Hihking” tells the story of Fuhi, whom the Chinese consider to be the father of their civilization. This history records that Fuhi, his wife, three sons, and three daughters escaped the great flood. He and his family were the only people left alive on earth. After the great flood they repopulated the world. An ancient temple in China has a wall painting that shows Fuhi’s boat in the raging waters. Dolphins are swimming around the boat and a dove with an olive branch in its beak is flying toward it.” (Webpage: Evidence-the Great Flood)

 

There are also cultural similarities between the Chinese and Chaldeans which suggest their origin. Like the Chaldeans, the Chinese had astronomical knowledge and belief in astrology, used same of methods of measurement, the cycle of sixty and decimal system. They believed in interrelation and correspondence of five elements, the five colors, the harmony of numbers and a multitude of other customs that the Chaldeans had. All of this cannot be mere coincidence.” (Webpage: Archeology, The Bible and the Post-Flood Origins of Chinese History/ article by Roy L. Hales)

[End of quotes]

 

Along similar lines we read in the article, “The Table of Nations”, at:

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sitchin/sitchinbooks03_03a.htm

….

The vast aggregate of peoples who are generally classified as Mongoloid, who settled the Far East, have been a question as to where they fall into the Table of Nations. The evidence shows they are Hamitic, even though some have incorrectly reasoned that the Chinese were of Japhetic stock, and the Japanese were either Japhetic or Semitic. There are two names which provide clues. Two of Canaan’s sons, Heth (Hittites) and Sin (Sinites), are presumed to be the progenitors of Chinese and Mongoloid stock. The Hittites were known as the Hatti or Chatti. In Egyptian monuments the Hittite peoples were depicted with prominent noses, full lips, high check-bones, hairless faces, varying skin color from brown to yellowish and reddish, straight black hair and dark brown eyes.

 

The term Hittite in Cuneiform (the earliest form of writing invented by the Sumerians) appears as Khittae* representing a once powerful nation from the Far East known as the Khitai, and has been preserved through the centuries in the more familiar term, Cathay. The Cathay were Mongoloids, considered a part of early Chinese stock. There are links between the known Hittites and Cathay, for example, their modes of dress, their shoes with turned-up toes, their manner of doing their hair in a pigtail, and so forth. Representations show them to have possessed high cheekbones, and craniologists have observed that they had common characteristics of Mongoloids.

…. Sin (or Seni), a brother of Heth, has many occurrences in variant forms in the Far East. There is one significant feature concerning the likely mode of origin of Chinese civilization. The place most closely associated by the Chinese themselves with the origin of their civilization is the capital of Shensi, namely, Siang-fu (Father Sin). Siang-fu appears in Assyrian records as Sianu. Today, Siang-fu can be loosely translated, “Peace to the Western Capital of China”. The Chinese have a tradition that their first king, Fu-hi or Fohi (Chinese Noah), made his appearance on the Mountains of Chin, was surrounded by a rainbow after the world had been covered with water, and [sacrificed] animals to God (corresponding to the Genesis record). Sin himself was the third generation from Noah, a circumstance which would provide the right time interval for the formation of early Chinese culture.

 

Furthermore, those who came from the Far East to trade were called Sinæ (Sin) by the Scythians. Ptolemy, a Greek astronomer, referred to China as the land of Sinim or Sinæ. Reference to the Sinim in Isaiah 49:12 notes they came “from afar,” specifically not from the north and not from the west. Arabs called China Sin, Chin, Mahachin, Machin. The Sinæ were spoken of as a people in the remotest parts of Asia.

….

With respect to the Cathay people of historical reference, it would make sense to suppose that the remnants of the Hittites, after the destruction of their empire, traveled towards the east and settled among the Sinites who were relatives, contributing to their civilization, and thus becoming the ancestors of the Asian people groups. Still others migrated throughout the region and beyond, making up present-day Mongoloid races in Asia and the Americas. The evidence strongly suggests that Ham’s grandsons, Heth (Hittites/Cathay) and Sin (Sinites/China), are the ancestors of the Mongoloid peoples.

 

[End of quote]

 

All this is fine, but the task really here is to demonstrate a connection between the Chinese and the Chaldeans, rather than the Hittites.

Dr. I. Velikovsky may have managed to have done that for us. In the process of his mis-guided effort in Ramses II and His Time (1978) to reduce history by attempting to identify the Hittite empire of Hattusilis with the Chaldean empire of Nebuchednezzar II, he made the following interesting observations about the Hittites and Chaldeans:

 

In the region of Ararat, east of Ur of the Chaldees, on the upper Euphrates and around Lake Van, there lived a people who worshiped the god Chaldi. Modern scholars, beginning with Lehmann-Haupt, called them “Chaldians” on the assumption that their tribal name reflected the name of their chief deity (similarly the Assyrian nation took its name from its chief god Assur), choosing this form of the name to distinguish them from the Chaldeans of Babylonia. The dynasties of these “Chaldians” were engaged in defensive wars against the Assyrians. …. They were also called Urartu, a name that survives in the scriptural Ararat. Scholars have noted “striking” similarities between Urartian (Chaldean) and “Hittite” culture. …. In the light of the persistent pressure the Assyrians under Esarhaddon and his son Assurbanipal exerted on the population around Lakes Urmia and Van, which resulted in the involuntary resettlement of these populations farther and farther to the west, there is some ground to suppose that the worshipers of Chaldi earned the name “Chaldeans” (“Casdim” in Hebrew) because they were one of the branches of the ancient Chaldean people.

 

Mackey’s comment: On the “Casdim”, see my article:

 

Those Poor Neglected Kassites

https://www.academia.edu/16754695/Those_Poor_Neglected_Kassites

 

Now, continuing with Velikovsky:

 

The Chaldeans under Nabopolassar occupied Babylonia, but Babylonia was not their native land. They came from Chaldea and transferred their capital to Babylon. Ezekiel called them “Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity” (Ezekiel 23:15). Where was “the land of their nativity”? From where did Nabopolassar come? Judged by the remnants of the strange culture ascribed to the “Hittites,” which I identify as Chaldean, the land of the Chaldean nativity in the eighth and seventh centuries was in Cappadocia and Cilicia, between the Black Sea on the north, the region of Ararat and the upper Euphrates on the east, the big bend of the Mediterranean on the south, and the river Halys on the west. Boghazkoi, Alisar, Senjirli, and Carchemish are situated in this area. Xenophon … the Athenian soldier (ca. -435 to -335) who fought in the army of Cyrus the Younger of Persia and traversed with the famous “ten thousand” mercenaries the length of Asia Minor, wrote about the Chaldeans as a tribe living in Armenia that stretched from Ararat to south of the Black Sea. One hundred forty years earlier Cyrus the Great, at war with Croesus, referred to Chaldeans as “neighbors” of Armenians. He also said of the land which modern scholars assign to the Hittites: “These mountains which we see belong to Chaldaea.” …. Strabo, a native of Amasia in Pontus, who knew Asia Minor at first hand, located the Chaldeans next to Trapezus (Trebizond) on the Black Sea coast: “Above the region of Pharnacia and Trapezus are the Tibareni and the Chaldaei, whose country extends to lesser Armenia” …. It is asserted that these “Black Sea Chaldeans” of Xenophon and Strabo are not the real Chaldeans but “Chaldians,” or that Xenophon used the wrong name for the bellicose tribe of that region. But Xenophon and Strabo were not wrong. Though under Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldeans entered the melting pot of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, many of them survived in Cappadocia: Xenophon met them

there at the close of the fifth century and Strabo records their presence in the area as late as the first. Soon we shall also bring archaeological evidence to bear on the question and will show that Chaldean (“Hittite”) pictographs were in use in this very region in the time of Strabo, and even beyond. The Secret Script of the Chaldeans Attaining supreme power in the extensive region from the shores of the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea and to the Mediterranean and the Red Seas, the Chaldean Empire embraced many nations, religions, and tongues. In the subjugated provinces the local languages were respected. “O people, nations, and languages,” called Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel. The language in daily use in Babylon was Akkadian-Babylonian; in the provinces this was the language of official and diplomatic documents; these documents were often translated into the local tongues. The system was not bilingual but trilingual. Besides Babylonian, the official international language, and the native speech of the various localities, Chaldean was used in sacred services for liturgies and prayers and also in the solemn festivities of the palace. In the Book of Daniel it is written that King Nebuchadnezzar ordered training for certain Judean youths of aristocratic origin who were “skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans” …. For many centuries and down to modern times scholars thought that Chaldean was the language in which a part of the Book of Daniel, as well as the Talmud, was written. For this reason there exist “Chaldean” dictionaries. However, it has subsequently been shown that the language of these books was not Chaldean but Aramaean or Syriac. In the same Book of Daniel (2:4) it is said that, besides the tongue of the Chaldean and Babylonian, Syriac was used in the palace. “Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriac.” The absence of inscriptions in the Chaldean tongue conflicted with the reference in the Book of Daniel to a language the Chaldeans used in their secret teachings and for sacred purposes. It was finally stated that the “language of these Chaldaeans differed in no way from the ordinary Semitic Babylonian idiom” … and was practically identical with the Akkadian language of Babylonia and Assyria. The Akkadian population of Babylon was merged with the Chaldean stock, but the land of origin of the Chaldeans was not Babylon. The Chaldeans retained for themselves the position of a caste of priests and astrologers … and it would have been only natural that, in their sacerdotal invocations and mysteries, they should have used the tongue of their ancient traditions, not known to the common people. They recorded their secret knowledge, not to be divulged, in a script not understandable to the profane abecedarians. It is often asserted that no secret writing has been discovered in the countries along the Euphrates. Even modern books on ancient history maintain this in the chapters dealing with Chaldea; and in the chapters on the discovery of a strange pictographic script in Carchemish on the Euphrates, in Babylon, in Assur on the Tigris, in Hamath, in Boghazkoi, and in other places, the new statement is made that this writing must have been left by a people of “a forgotten empire” and, centuries later, by the so-called Syrian Hittites. But since at least some of the monuments with this pictographic script are unanimously assigned to the sixth century … the “Hittites” who supposedly wrote these hieroglyphics (pictographs) when under the later kings of the Chaldean dynasty in Babylon must have escaped not only the memory of subsequent generations but also the notice of their contemporaries. ….

[End of quote]

 

Emmet Sweeney adds a little more to this:

http://saturniancosmology.org/files/.cdrom/journals/workshop/w1987no2/19revie.htm:

 

…. Velikovsky associated the Hittites with the Chaldaeans (see Ramses II and His Time {1978}). Briefly, it should be mentioned that Sumerian royal titles, such as Gal-Lugal, were always used by the Hittite monarchs, and that the Hittite pantheon and mythology was entirely Sumerian. Indeed, the close links between the Hittites and Sumerians were not lost on scholars, and have been frequently commented upon. Khattili, the original “Hittite” language, is agglutinative, like Sumerian; but whether it is closely related is another question. Sumerian kings had strong links with Anatolia, and we find the term khatti (as in Tukim-khatti-migrisha) used as an element in Sumerian royal names. Finally, it must be remembered that the Chaldaeans were equally associated with Anatolia and southern Mesopotamia. We have, for example, classical references to the Chaldaei of Anatolia, and the fact is that the people of “Urartu”, who waged war against the Assyrians in the 8th century, called themselves Chaldi (children of Khaldis): Urartu, or Ararat, is an Assyrian term. ….

[End of quote]

 

Finally, Charles J. Ball proved with detailed comparisons the very close relationship that existed between the Sumerian language and Chinese.

 

Here is just a small sample:

….

INITIAL AND FINAL SOUNDS— THEIR CORRESPONDENCE AND PARALLEL CHANGES That Chinese is related to the old Sumerian language of Babylonia is a con- clusion which appears inevitable, when we notice the great similarity of the two vocabularies. This may perhaps be best exhibited in tabular form. The following list does not, of course, pretend to be exhaustive. Its purpose is merely to weaken any presumption of antecedent improbability; and so to bespeak an unprejudiced consideration for the arguments and comparisons to follow.

….

INITIAL AND FINAL SOUNDS— THEIR CORRESPONDENCE AND PARALLEL CHANGES It is evident that the preceding list presents at a glance sufficient similarity between the material of the two languages to suggest at once the hypothesis of relationship. But if we look below the surface, as Philology justifies us in doing, we shall discover in Chinese a large number of vocables which, although they have become dissimilar in the natural course of phonetic change, were originally either identical with the corresponding sounds of the primitive Sumerian speech, or at all events manifestly akin to them. In fact, much as Philology justifies us in connecting the Latin aqua with the French eau, so it may justify us in connecting the Chinese ho, river, with the Sumerian ID, I, river, and CjAL, to flow ; although the three terms possess not a letter in common. When it is pointed out that the character ^ ho is still read ka or ga in the traditional Japanese pronunciation, which is more faithful to the ancient sounds of the Chinese, and that the kindred Mongol word for river is gol, Manchau hoi ; we see at once that the Chinese initial h represents, as indeed is usual, an older k (from a yet earlier g), and that the lost final of the root is 1 or a related sound. It thus appears likely that the Chinese ho, river, is akin to the Sumerian GAL, to flow. But, further, the Sumerian ID, I, river, which occurs in the name I.DIGNA, Assyrian Idiglat, the Tigris, is really a worn form of GID, as is shown by the Hebrew transcription Vpin Khiddeqel ; and this earlier GID suggests a primary GAD, cognate with GAL, to flow, and identical with the old Chinese kat, gat, river (cf P. 145).

There can be little doubt, one would think, that the Sumerian (G)USH and MUD, on the one hand, and their Chinese equivalents hiieh-hut and mieh-myt, on the other, although given in the dictionaries as mutually independent words, are really related to each other in much the same way as GISH and MESH, GU and MU, tree, wood, are related in Sumerian, or as ho and fo, fire, or ngo and wo, I, in Chinese. One is simply a labialized form of the other. The Chinese Phonetics have preserved many vestiges of such philological counterparts. Thus in Sumerian, ^^, the character denoting black and night, had the sounds GA, GE, GIG, and MI (from MIG, MUG). Accordingly, we find that the Chinese M (P. 862) has the Phonetic values kek and mek. By itself, the character is read hei or h^ or ho, C. hak, H. het, W. he, hah, hek, K. hik, J. koku, black {see G. 3899) ; and with the Radical or Determinative j^ earth, it is ^ mo, mek, met, meik, mai, me, muk, me, K. mik, J. boku and moku, A. mak, ink ; black ; obscure (G. 8022). It will be noticed that the vowel-variation resembles that of the values of the Sumerian prototype, GA, GE, GIG, MI, KUKKU. Of course, the sound 6 INITIAL AND FINAL SOUNDS, ETC. belongs to the Phonetic ^. The Radical, added later for distinction’s sake, has nothing to do with sound, but only with sense.

….

[End of quote]

 

Conclusion

If, as this article suggests, the Chinese people originated from Sin, a son of Canaan, a Hamite, then this people cannot pre-date c. 2000 BC.

 

 

 

Is the Book of Esther a Real History?

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

Though I think that it is, all of my previous attempts to demonstrate this have come unstuck.

This time around I am going to take as my starting point, for Esther as a real history, these two interesting clues, that may possibly be connectable:

 

Firstly, Louis Ginzberg’s ‘substantial evidence that Mordecai and Haman were both Jews who knew each other well’ (The Legends of the Jews). [See further on]

 

And, secondly, a synthesis of the elevation of the Jewish king, Jehoiachin, by an eastern king:

 

2 Kings 25: 27-28: Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He spoke kindly to him, and gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon.

with the elevation of Haman by an eastern king:

 

Esther 3:1: After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.

 

That Haman was a king (at least as considered from a Jewish perspective) is apparent from Queen Esther’s words, in her prayer:

 

Esther 14 (Douay): [8] And now they are not content to oppress us with most hard bondage, but attributing the strength of their hands to the power of their idols, [9] They design to change thy promises, and destroy thy inheritance, and shut the mouths of them that praise thee, and extinguish the glory of thy temple and altar, [10] That they may open the mouths of Gentiles, and praise the strength of idols, and magnify for ever a carnal [var. mortal] king.

 

Presumably “king” here refers to Haman, not to Ahasuerus, who was somewhat gullible and not really au fait, it seems, with the inner machinations of Haman’s conspiracy (16:2-15).

 

If Ginzberg is correct, then the fact of Haman’s Jewishness is surely a priceless piece of information towards our identifying a character so enigmatic that he is variously called an “Agagite”; an “Amalekite” (or Edomite); a “Bougean” [Septuagint]; and a “Macedonian”.

In other words, critics have until now been guessing.

At least there is the small consolation, regarding efforts to nail down the ethnicity of Haman, that one can eliminate Persian from Haman’s bloodline, based upon the following statement in the edict of King Ahasuerus (but authored by Mordecai): “For Haman, the son of Hammedatha, a Macedonian (really an alien to the Persian blood, and quite devoid of our kindliness) …” (16:10).

 

From the above progression of clues, we can deduce that Haman must have been a most unusual character, a supposed foreigner who may yet have been a Jew, whilst his being apparently intensely anti-Jewish. Quite a riddle, according to the following observation (http://www.tidings.org/2003/09/esther-4-the-riddle-of-the-book-of-esther-hamans-hatred/):

 

Haman must rank as the anti-semite par excellence of the scriptures, and in his fated attempt to exterminate the Jews, he conceives some of the very horrors that Hitler would later fulfil. What does he have against the Jews, and why is he so bent on destroying them?

 

The striking fact is that from the narrative surface itself Haman doesn’t appear to have anything particularly against the Jews at all. There are underlying issues, as we shall go on to discover, but the major reason for his evil device is a personal vendetta against the one man, Mordecai. The personal issue between Haman and Mordecai became the pretext for a plan not only to harm Mordecai’s family, as well as him, but to eliminate his entire race. It is an absurd example of escalation, but one which, in lesser forms, is often characteristic of human behaviour. ….

[End of quote]

 

I have already referred to Louis Ginzberg on these matters. Well, here is an interesting reconstruction of the Esther drama that retired academic, Dr. Eugene Kaellis, has built around such information. This piece, that I largely find most plausible, offers some promising points.

http://www.jewishindependent.ca/Archives/Mar05/archives05Mar18-07.html

 

Power struggle between Jews

Clever Queen Esther takes a chance and manages to create harmony.

EUGENE KAELLIS

 

Purim is based on the Book of Esther, the most esoteric book in the Hebrew Testament. …. Its hidden meaning can be uncovered only by combining a knowledge of Persian practices during the Babylonian Captivity, the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great, his Edict (sixth century BCE) and Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews which, despite its name, contains a great deal of relevant and credible history.

 

Using these sources, one can arrive at a plausible interpretation completely in accord with historically valid information. Esther, it turns out, describes an entirely intra-Jewish affair set in the Persian Empire, with the two major antagonists as factional leaders: Mordecai, whose followers advocate rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple, and Haman, also a Jew, whose assimilationist adherents oppose the project.

Ginzberg furnishes substantial evidence that Mordecai and Haman were both Jews who knew each other well: they were co-butlers at a royal feast and journeyed together to India to put down a rebellion against Persia. Moreover, Haman’s mother had a Hebrew name and his descendants are said to have taught Torah in Akiva’s academy.

The multi-ethnic Persian Empire had significant religious freedom and communal authority, as exemplified by the Edict of Cyrus, permitting Jews to return to Judah and rebuild their Temple, destroyed by the Babylonians, and allowing the inclusion of members of various ethnic and religious groups under Persian rule, offering them some representation and influence at the royal court. ….

In the Persian Empire the king’s harem typically had ethnic “representatives.” Vashti, Esther’s predecessor, was a member of the Hamanite faction. In a typically irreverent manner, she had forced her Jewish handmaidens to violate the Sabbath. After Vashti’s dismissal, widespread rebellion and Jewish inter-factional fighting flared up, calmed only by Mordecai’s elevation and the appointment of Esther, who, in a measure of intrigue, initially conceals her ethnic and factional identification. Her original name was Hebrew, viz., Hadassah; Esther is Persian, derived from Astarte or Ishtar.

….

Haman initially gains the upper hand by convincing Ahasuerus that Mordecai’s faction threatens the king’s hegemony, an argument given credence by the plan of the pro-Temple faction to construct a wall around the rebuilt Temple, perhaps to defend against Persian armies after the Jews had declared their independence. Haman also probably bribes the king with promises of a share of the plunder expropriated from the wealth of the pro-Temple faction after its members are killed.

After Haman’s appointment, when he and the king sat down for a drink, “Susa was perplexed,” the text states, indicating that the Jews of Susa, a city with a large Mordecai-supporting faction, were outraged that someone they considered a heretic would henceforth officially advise the king regarding the Jewish community.

As Haman puts his plan in motion, Mordecai warns Esther, and the pro-Temple Jews demonstrate their solidarity with her. During the three days of fasting, while Esther prepares to petition the king, Mordecai is busy collecting a counter-bribe, referred to as “relief and deliverance … from another quarter,” which he had earlier promised Esther while trying to assuage her fears about her own safety following the disclosure of her true allegiance.

The Mordecai faction succeeds and the tolerant but venal king switches his support. Esther gathers information on Haman’s collaborators and denounces him. In a staged event in the royal apartment, with the king’s co-operation, she frames Haman on an assault charge, providing Ahasuerus with a face-saving device to explain the dismissal and subsequent execution of someone he had so recently elevated.

Ahasuerus, now convinced that the pro-Temple faction does not threaten him with its walled city plans, provides help from forces he had formerly promised to Haman, allowing the Mordecaite Jews to eliminate the Hamanites, but keeping his well-greased hands out of the more violent aspects of the conflict.

The book states repeatedly that the pro-Temple faction members kept no plunder derived from the defeat of their rivals, indicating that this benefit of their triumph went to Ahasuerus. The story goes on to declare that, with the victory of the Mordecai faction, “many people of the country declared themselves Jews, for the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.” Why would ordinary Persians or Babylonians, now part of the Persian Empire, fear Jews to the point of embracing a minority religion in their own country? It is more reasonable to assume that the now religiously enthusiastic Jews who had become fearful of Mordecai were assimilated Jews who had identified themselves as Persians and who had formerly allied themselves with the Hamanite faction or had previously faltered in their allegiance to the pro-Temple faction. ….

 

[End of quote]

So, putting together all of the above, the wicked Haman becomes

the captive (and evil) Judaean king, Jehoiachin (var. Jeconiah, Coniah) –

whose “mother had a Hebrew name” (2 Kings 24:8: “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem for three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem”) –

an opponent of the pro-Temple Jews (as was Queen Vashti)

exalted above all of the other princes in the land by the reigning king.

 

So far so good.

But why doesn’t the Book of Esther simply refer to the conspirator as Haman the Jew?

And who is the “Hammedatha” whose son Haman was? [Refer back to Esther 3:1]

 

My view now is that the word (of various interpretations) that has been taken as indicating Haman’s nationality (Agagite, Amalekite, etc.), was originally, instead, an epithet, not a term of ethnic description. In the case of king Jehoiachin, the epithet used for him in 1 Chronicles 3:17 was: (“And the sons of Jeconiah), the captive”. In Hebrew, the word is Assir, “captive” or “prisoner”. Jeconiah the Captive!

Now, in Greek, captive is aichmálo̱tos, which is very much like the word for “Amalekite”, Amali̱kíti̱s. Is this where the confusion may have arisen?

And, hadn’t all of the Amalekite peoples been destroyed well before this time, in the era of king Hezekiah? Here is the biblical evidence for this:

 

1 Chronicles 4: 42-43: From them, from the sons of Simeon, five hundred men went to Mount Seir, with Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi, as their leaders. They destroyed the remnant of the Amalekites who escaped, and have lived there to this day.

 

So it may be futile to, as many do, revive the old feud between Benjamin of Saul (tribe of Mordecai) and Agag the Amalekite.

The name “Hammedatha” in Esther 3:1 is a really tricky one. I can begin to offer my suggestion for this name in my context only after I have proposed that king Jehoiakin was the son, and not the grandson, of King Josiah as is usually accepted. And I base my claim here on very good authority: on Saint Matthew. Thus Matthew 1:11: “… Josiah the father of Jeconiah”. This would mean that Jehoiachin, the brother to Josiah’s other sons (I Chronicles 3:15) – and therefore not the actual son of one of these, Jehoiakim – may have shared the same mother as did two of these sons of Josiah, Jehoahaz and Zedekiah, namely: “Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah” (cf. 2 Kings 23:1 and Jeremiah 52:1). From this reconsideration about Jehoiachin’s origins, now, I can explain that the hitherto unknown “Hammedatha” must refer to this Hamutal (var. Hammutal) – a very good name fit (and I might challenge anyone to think of a better one in this context).

Thus, Hammedatha was not the father of Haman (Jehoiachin), as we might have imagined, but his very mother.

Obviously, “Nehushta daughter of Elnathan”, the usual choice for the mother of Jehoiachin, cannot fit my reconstructed case, and I would suspect that she, the queen mother, was the actual grandmother of Jehoiachin rather than his mother.

Hamutal (Hammedatha), I say, was his real mother.

 

Prophecies About King Jehoiachin

 

The prophet Jeremiah wrote about the unhappy fate of the captive King Jehoiachin of Judah, who would never again return to Judah (Jeremiah 22):

 

24 As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah … were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence;

 

{Ironically King Ahasuerus, when having approved of Haman’s plot, “took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman … the enemy of the Jews [Esther 3:10], but then, later [8:2]: “The king took off his signet ring–which he had taken back from Haman–and gave it to Mordecai”}.

 

25 And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.

 

26 And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die.

 

27 But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.

 

28 Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not?

 

29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord.

 

30 Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

 

{He and his sons were all destined to be destroyed due to the agency of Queen Esther and Mordecai}.

 

 

Archaeological Information About King Jehoiachin

 

Whether or not the drama of the Book of Esther was a real history, certainly King Jehoiachin – with whom I am here identifying one of the book’s leading characters, Haman – was real. For he is attested by archaeology – and the data accords with the biblical account.

http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1406

 

Jehoiachin, the Bible, and Archaeology

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

 

For centuries, God had warned the sinful nation of Judah to turn from its wicked, idolatrous ways. Judah refused, and strayed farther from the true God. Due to Judah’s immoral, rebellious behavior, God sent His prophets to foretell the nation’s destruction and exile at the hands of the Babylonians. Just as God had predicted, the Babylonians crushed the forces of Judah and took them into exile.

The ruling king of Judah at the time of the Babylonian invasion was an 18-year-old young man named Jehoiachin. His brief reign of three months is chronicled in 2 Kings 24:12-15. The text states that he did evil in the sight of the Lord and that the Babylonian king (Nebuchadnezzar) came against the capital city of Jerusalem and besieged it. In response to this siege, the text states: “Then Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his servants, his princes, and his officers went out to the king of Babylon; and the king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took him prisoner” (2 Kings 24:12).

Jehoiachin’s miserable state of affairs lasted over thirty years, throughout the entire reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Yet, when Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon, he took pity on Jehoiachin and released him from prison. The biblical text mentions that the Babylonian king “spoke kindly” to Jehoiachin, and “gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon” (2 Kings 25:28). In addition to releasing him from prison, the Bible says that Evil-Merodach gave Jehoiachin a set amount of provisions: “And as for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the king, a portion for each day, all the days of his life” (2 Kings 25:30).

These rations given to Jehoiachin have become increasingly important in light of an interesting archaeological discovery. Several administrative documents have been found in ancient Babylon that record events and transactions that took place during the reign of Evil-Merodach. These documents were preserved on clay cuneiform tablets, of which many have been found broken into several pieces. Jehoiachin’s name, however, is clearly legible on the tablets. Not only is he mentioned, but documentation for an allotment of grain, oil, and foodstuffs also is also provided. Alfred J. Hoerth mentions the find in his book Archaeology and the Old Testament and includes a picture of the cuneiform tablet that mentions Jehoiachin (1998, pp. 378-379).

The significance of this find is not lost on the observant reader. The Bible mentions Jehoichin’s captivity and subsequent elevation and daily rations at the hand of Evil-Merodach. The secular record uncovered in the ruins of ancient Babylon verifies the facts to an exacting degree. Biblical accuracy is unparalleled by any ancient or modern book in existence. Only due to the superintending of a divine hand could a book as extensive, exhaustive, and historically infallible as the Bible have been produced.

 

REFERENCES

 

Hoerth, Alfred J. (1998), Archaeology and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

 

 

And:

http://theosophical.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/biblical-archaeology-24-jehoiachins-rations/

 

During his excavation of Babylon in 1899-1917, Robert Koldeway discovered a royal archive room of King Nebuchadnezzar near the Ishtar Gate. It contained tablets dating to 595-570 BC. The tablets were translated in the 1930s by the German Assyriologist, Ernst Weidner. Four of these tablets list rations of oil and barley given to various individuals—including the deposed King Jehoiachin—by Nebuchadnezzar from the royal storehouses, dated five years after Jehoiachin was taken captive.

One tablet reads:

 

“10 (sila of oil) to the king of Judah, Yaukin; 2 1/2 sila (oil) to the offspring of Judah’s king; 4 sila to eight men from Judea.” Another reads, “1 1/2 sila (oil) for three carpenters from Arvad, 1/2 apiece; 11 1/2 sila for eight wood workers from Byblos. . .; 3 1/2 sila for seven Greek craftsman, 1/2 sila apiece; 1/2 sila to the carpenter, Nabuetir; 10 sila to Ia-ku-u-ki-nu, the son of Judah’s king[1]; 2 1/2 sila for the five sons of the Judean king.”

 

Notice how much more Jehoiachin got than everyone else. Obviously he had the king’s favor.

 

Significance:

 

  1. This confirms the existence of Jehoiachin.
  2. This confirms the Biblical account of his rations.

 

The Babylonian chronicles are currently housed in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin.

 

[End of quote]

 

Another fact, most important in my context, emerges from this precious document. It is that Jehoiachin [here referred to as Yaukin, and as Ia-ku-u-ki-nu] already has five sons with him in captivity. I Chronicles 3:17 attributes seven sons to him: “Shealtiel his son, 18 Malkiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama and Nedabiah”. Later of course he, as Haman, will have ten sons (Esther 9:7, 12, 13, 14), presumably now of Persian names: “Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, … Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, … Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vajezatha”.

Linguists may have fun with comparisons between these two sets.

Jehoiachin, having gone into captivity as an 18 year old, would have been (18+37=) about 55 years of age when (2 Kings 25:27): “In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month, King Evil-Merodach of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, pardoned King Jehoiachin of Judah and released him from prison”.

This synthesis of the 37th year of Jehoiachin’s exile with the 1st year of king Evil-Merodach [var. Awel-Marduk] is – like that of Jeremiah 25:1 – a most significant biblico-historical correlation. If only we knew more about Evil-Merodach. For, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia’s article, “Evil-Merodach” (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/5921-evil-merodach): “No personal or historical inscriptions of his reign have been discovered, and there are only two sources of information concerning him—the Hebrew Scriptures and Berosus”.

So, this poorly known king might stand in need of an alter ego.

Does he appear also in the book of Esther?

 

Meaning of the Name ‘Haman’

 

The name “Haman”, having no apparent likeness to Jehoiachin in any of its variant forms, was presumably the elderly conspirator’s given Persian name. In fact the element haman can be found in its entirety in the famous name, Achaemenes, which is, in Persian, Hakhamanish. (“Old Persian proper name Haxāmaniš, traditionally derived from haxā- “friend” and manah “thinking power”.” http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/achaemenes-greek).

This is a further endorsement of what already is the accepted view, anyway, that the drama of the Book of Esther belongs to the Medo-Persian, rather than to the Chaldean, period of history.

 

Part Two

 

Introduction

 

So far I have concluded, based on some compelling Jewish legends, that Haman of the Book of Esther was actually a Jew, not an Amalekite (etc.), and that he was in fact King Jehoiachin. And that the opinion that he was an Agagite, or an Amalekite (Greek: Amali̱kíti̱s) may have arisen from Jehoiachin’s chief epithet, “Captive” (Greek: aichmálo̱tos), of similar phonetics.

With the evil king Jehoiachin as the wicked Haman, then the next logical step – as it had previously seemed to me – was that the exaltation of Jehoiachin by king Evil-Merodach (usually considered to have been the Chaldean son and successor of Nebuchednezzar II), as related in 2 Kings 25:27-28, must resonate with the exaltation of Haman by king “Ahasuerus” (Esther 3:1). And so I had concluded that Evil-Merodach was the long sought for king “Ahasuerus”. Hardly a good fit.

Better to conclude that, whereas Evil-Merodach had exalted Jehoiachin “in the year that he began to reign”, “Ahasuerus” appears to have raised up Haman some time after his wedding, in his 7th year (cf. Esther 2:16 and 3:1).

These are two separate incidents.

Clearly, now, “Ahasuerus” was a successor of Evil-Merodach’s.

The age of Haman now needs to be taken into consideration. Already about 55, as we calculated, in the 1st year of Evil-Merodach, he was probably close to 70 in the 12th year of Ahasuerus (the Esther drama focusses on this king’s 12th year).

The release of king Jehoiachin from prison by Evil-Merodach in his first year of reign is to be regarded as an initial act of leniency; whilst his elevation by Ahasuerus was somewhat separated in time from the first.

There was another preliminary matter that had to be settled, and that was the identification of the “Hammedatha” whose son Haman was (Esther 3:1). I, taking my lead from the New Testament’s Matthew 1:11: “… Josiah the father of Jeconiah [Jehoiachin]” (though the latter is usually regarded as being the grandson of king Josiah), was able to propose for “Hammedatha” the Jewish woman, Hamutal (or Hammutal) – a very adequate name fit.

 

We know from the prophet Ezekiel’s lamentation (chapter 19) that Jehoiachin would be caged up and carried off like an animal: “They put him in a cage with chains, And brought him to the king of Babylon; They brought him in nets, That his voice should no longer be heard on the mountains of Israel.” (v. 9).

In Babylon, Jehoiachin was treated as a royal hostage. He is named Ya’u-kin in Babylonian tablets, which speak of him and his five sons as receiving rations at the Babylonian court. As we have already noted, he was known to the Jews as ‘Jehoiachin the Captive’ (Assir) (I Chronicles 3:17).

That Jehoiachin, even though a captive, enjoyed a degree of freedom, at least early on, is apparent from this statement in the Book of Baruch (1:3): Baruch read the book aloud to Jehoiachin … king of Judah, and to all the people who lived in Babylon by the Sud River. Everyone came to hear it read – nobles, children of royal families, elders, in fact, all the people, no matter what their status”.

Now, this man was apparently an inveterate conspirator and insurrectionist. For, according to A. Fitzgerald, article “Baruch” (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1968, 37:9): “At first a pensioner in the King’s [Nebuchednezzar’s] court, [Jehoiachin] was jailed sometime after 592 [BC] (W.F. Albright, BA,5 [1948] 49-55), probably in connection with some insurrection …”. Was there perhaps an insurrection involved in the case of Daniel 4:33: “Nebuchadnezzar was driven out of human society …”, due to the king’s madness? Whatever the case, we find king Jehoiachin once again – at least in the latter part of Nebuchednezzar’s reign – being held as a prisoner, there awaiting his renewed freedom at the hands of the succeeding king, Evil-Merodach (2 Kings 25:27-30):

 

And it came to pass in the 37th year of the captivity of Yeho’yachin king of Judea, in the twelfth month, on the 27th day of the month (27 Adar, today’s Hebrew date) that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, did lift the head of Yeho’yachin king of Judea out of prison. And he spoke kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon. And he changed his prison garments, and [Yeho’yachin] ate bread before him [Evil-Merdoch] continually all the days of his life. And there was a continual daily allowance given to him by the king, all the days of his life.

 

 

 

 

* * * * * *

 

Esther and Fatima

 

Along with the motivating factor of my wanting to test the historicity of the Book of Esther, just as I had done in the case of the Book of Judith in Volume Two of my university thesis,

 

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah and its Background

 

http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/5973

 

I was keen to provide an underlying history for my devotional book (and this will be of interest particularly to Marian Catholics),

 

FIVE FIRST SATURDAYS OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA

 

http://amaic2.blogspot.com.au/2008/04/five-first-saturdays-of-our-lady-of.html

 

according to which the drama of the Book of Esther, played out between the 13th day of various months, was a providential foretaste or preview of the cosmic drama of Fatima (1917), played out on the 13th day of consecutive months, and culminating in the great solar miracle on October 13th thus intended by the ‘new Queen Esther’, Our Lady of the Rosary: “On the last month, I will perform a miracle so that all may believe.” This event has become known as the “Miracle of the Sun” (e.g: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_Sun) and has been justly characterized as the greatest supernatural occurrence of the 20th century.

 

 

As one leading Fatima authority has noted, this great miracle “does not belong (only) to the domain of faith, or even that of science. Before all else it is an historical event.”

And so, as I hope to have begun to show in this article, was the fascinating Queen Esther drama “an historical event”.

 

 

Well-Respected Mordecai

5139e-imagescaxkrf1v 

Part One: As ‘Marduka’

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

And Mordecai the Jew was next in rank to King Ahasuerus. He was a man held in respect among the Jews, esteemed by thousands of his brothers, a man who sought the good of his people and cared for the welfare of his entire race.

 Esther 10:3

  

Introduction

 

With the assistance of a significantly revised Neo-Babylonian dynasty through to the early Medo-Persian period, as set out in, for example:

 

If King Belshazzar made Daniel 3rd, who was 2nd?

 

https://www.academia.edu/23063639/If_King_Belshazzar_made_Daniel_3rd_who_was_2nd

 

I have been able historically to identify the King Belshazzar of Daniel 5 as King Evil-Merodach, son of Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’, and the un-named second ruler in Belshazzar’s kingdom as Jehoiachin (or Coniah), whom Evil-Merodach had exalted over the other princes in Babylon (2 Kings 25:27-30).

These are all historically verifiable kings.

Now, if Jehoiachin (Coniah) is also, as I have tentatively identified him:

 

Wicked Haman Un-Masked?

https://www.academia.edu/23014815/Wicked_Haman_Un-Masked

 

then that leads us into the Book of Esther, and to Mordecai, who, with Queen Esther herself, would expose the machinations of Haman.

Is there any evidence that this Mordecai, too, was a real historical person?

There may be. David J. Clines, in his article “The Quest for the Historical Mordecai” (https://www.academia.edu/2454296/The_Quest_for_the_Historical_Mordecai), writes of one “Marduka” in Susa during the Persian period whom various scholars have considered as a possible candidate for Mordecai. I am interested here in what Clines writes about these various opinions, since Clines himself seems pre-disposed to dismiss the Book of Esther as merely “a romance”:

 

…. it appears to be necessary to insist that evidence for a Persian official at Susa named Marduka, if that is really what we have, is next to useless in any debate about a historical Mordecai. For if on other grounds it seems probable that the book of Esther is a romance and not a historical record, it is quite irrelevant to the larger question of the historicity of the writing to discover that one of its characters bears a name attested for a historical person. Fictitious characters usually do.

 

Clines tells of these other estimations of Marduka:

 

In the standard works, commentaries, encyclopaedias and monographs, wherever the historicity of the Book of Esther is discussed, there is usually to be found some reference to the possible extra-biblical evidence for Mordecai. Here is an extract from a typical encyclopaedia article in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible:

 

Reference must be made to a single undated cuneiform document from the Persian period, found at Borsippa, which refers to a certain Marduka who was a finance officer of some sort in the Persian court at Susa during the reign of Xerxes I. While a connection between such an individual and the Mordecai of the book of Esther is in no sense established, the possibility of such a historical event as is related in Esther cannot be dismissed out of hand. ….

 

Carey A. Moore, the author of the Anchor Bible commentary on Esther, is a little more positive about the implications of the reference to Marduka. This official, who ‘served as an accountant on an inspection tour from Susa’, could be, he suggests, ‘the biblical Mordecai because, in all likelihood, Mordecai was an official of the king prior to his being invested in [Est.] 8.2 with the powers previously conferred on Haman’. To Moore, ‘at first glance all of this seems rather persuasive, if not conclusive’. While he is indeed careful to point out the uncertainties that surround the identification of Marduka with Mordecai, he nevertheless concludes that

 

since the epigraphic evidence concerning Marduka certainly prevents us from categorically ruling out as pure fiction the Mordecai episodes in the Book of Esther, it is safest for us to conclude that the story of Mo[r]decai may very well have to it a kernel of truth. ….

 

Robert Gordis, rather more boldly, appears to have no reservations whatever about the identification of Mordecai with Marduka. For him, the attestation of the names Marduka and Mrdk … is ‘the strongest support thus far for the historical character of the book’. …. He writes:

 

A Persian text dating from the last years of Darius I or the early years of Xerxes I mentions a government official in Susa named Marduka, who served as an inspector on an official tour … [T]he phrase yōšēb bĕša‘ar hammelekh, ‘sitting in the king’s gate,’ which is applied to Mordecai repeatedly in the book, indicates his role as a judge or a minor official in the Persian court before his elevation to the viziership.

 

The conclusion to be drawn is rather obvious:

 

That there were two officials with the same name at the same time in the same place is scarcely likely. ….

 

From Edwin M. Yamauchi we even gain the impression that the identification of Marduka with Mordecai has now become the consensus scholarly view:

 

Mardukâ is listed as a sipîr (‘an accountant’) who makes an inspection tour of Susa during the last years of Darius or early years of Xerxes. It is Ungnad’s conviction that ‘it is improbable that there were two Mardukas serving as high officials in Susa.’ He therefore concludes that this individual is none other than Esther’s uncle. This conclusion has been widely accepted. ….

 

Siegfried H. Horn concurs:

 

The result of this disco[c]very has been a more favorable attitude toward the historicity of the book of Esther in recent years, as attested by several Bible dictionaries and commentaries published during the last decade. ….

 

So secure is the identification of Mordecai with Marduka in his eyes that he can even invite us to reconstruct the personal history of Mordecai on the basis of what we know about Marduka:

 

It is quite obvious that Mordecai, before he became gatekeeper of the palace, must already have had a history of civil service in which he had proved himself to be a trusted official … the trusted councillor of [t]he mighty satrap Uštannu, whom he accompanied on his official journeys.

 [End of quotes]

 

Since my re-setting of Mordecai’s engagement with Haman has it occurring far earlier than the standard time for it, in the reign of “Xerxes” (C5th BC) – and nearer to the return from Captivity – it thus becomes necessary to demonstrate a compatible revised chronology of Marduka.

 

Part Two:

As Joakim, Husband of Susanna

 

Now there was a man that dwelt in Babylon, and his name was Joakim: And he took a wife whose name was Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah, a very beautiful woman, and one that feared God. For her parents being just, had instructed their daughter according to the Law of Moses. Now Joakim was very rich, and had an orchard near his house: and the Jews resorted to him, because he was the most honourable of them all.

 Daniel 13:1-4

  

 

When in the process of searching for greater information about Mordecai in the Bible it occurred to me that a possible candidate for him might be Joakim the well-respected husband of Susanna. Admittedly, I have very little to go on here, considering the brevity of the information provided about Joakim in the Story of Susanna.

 

  • Joakim was apparently a Jew, as was Mordecai (Esther 2:5): “Now in the citadel of Susa there lived a Jew called Mordecai son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin …”, and a man of great standing.

 

  • Joakim, as “a man that dwelt in Babylon”, was apparently also of the Babylonian Captivity, as was Mordecai (2:6), “who had been deported from Jerusalem among the captives taken away with Jeconiah king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon”.

 

  • Joakim was a contemporary of a young Daniel, who figures prominently in the Story of Susanna (Daniel 13:45). Mordecai was taken into captivity about a decade after Daniel had been, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah” (Daniel 1:1).

{That does make for a very tight chronology for Daniel, though, who was apparently still “a young boy”, or a “young youth”, or “young man”, in the Story of Susanna}.

 

  • Joakim “was very rich”. Mordecai, according to The Legends of the Jews (V. 4), “became a wealthy man”.
  • Joakim, since his house was used for “matters of judgment” (Daniel 13:6), may himself have been a judge, as we found (in Part One) Marduka (= Mordecai?) likely was.
  • Joakim is a figure very much in the background in the Story of Susanna, in which young Daniel comes to the fore. And Mordecai, too, tended to work quietly behind the scenes, advising his niece, Queen Esther, whilst Haman and King Ahasuerus take centre stage.
  • Joakim was well respected by many amongst the Jews, he being “the most honourable of them all”. And this we read similarly about Mordecai (Esther 10:1-3):

 

King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.