King Coniah of Judah and the on-again, off-again signet ring

Image result for coniah exile babylon

by 

Damien F. Mackey

 

‘As surely as I live’, declares the Lord, ‘even if you, Coniah son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off’.

Jeremiah 22:24

 

 

The name, “Coniah” is a truncated form of Jeconiah, who is otherwise known as Jehoiachin.

The prophet Jeremiah had cut off part of the name to abbreviate it to “Coniah”. For will not king Jehoiachin (as Haman) and his ten sons be cut off by being impaled in Susa? See my:

Haman un-masked

https://www.academia.edu/37584041/Haman_un-masked

 

When the deceitful Haman had devised his dastardly plan to exterminate the Jews, but was still in high favour with King Ahasuerus, we read (Esther 3:10): “So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha … the enemy of the Jews”.

 

But, later, when the Machiavellian machinations of that maniacal monster, Haman, had been exposed by Queen Esther and Mordecai, we read (8:1-2): “On that day King Ahasuerus gave Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. So the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai; and Esther appointed Mordecai over the house of Haman”.

 

Coniah, a king of Judah, had no descendants of his own to continue on the throne of Judah.

The ‘signet ring’ would now pass to Zerubabbel.

 

 

The question is asked at: https://www.gotquestions.org/Zerubbabel-signet-ring.html

 

What does it mean that Zerubbabel was the LORD’s signet ring (Haggai 2:23)?

 

….
Answer: 
In Haggai 2:23 we read, “‘On that day,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you.’” What did God mean when He said Zerubbabel was His signet ring?

 

Ancient kings used signet rings to designate authority, honor, or ownership. A signet contained an emblem unique to the king. Official documents were sealed with a dollop of soft wax impressed with the king’s signet, usually kept on a ring on his finger.

Such a seal certified the document as genuine, much like a notary public’s stamp today.

 

In 1 Kings 21:8, the evil Queen Jezebel took King Ahab’s signet ring and “wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal.” The ring’s stamp gave her letters the king’s authority. In Daniel 6:17, a signet ring was used to seal a stone covering a lions’ den: “A stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.” A royal signet ring is also featured in Genesis 41:41-43 and Esther 8:8.

 

It is important to understand who Zerubbabel is. He is the governor of the rebuilt Jerusalem and is himself of royal blood, being a descendant of David and the grandson of Judah’s King Jehoiachin. Years earlier, Jehoiachin had lost his throne when he was deported to Babylon; in fact, God pictured Jehoiachin as a signet ring being removed from God’s finger (Jeremiah 22:24). Now, God calls Zerubbabel the “signet ring,” but this time it won’t be removed.

 

In Haggai’s prophecy, God is giving Zerubbabel encouragement and hope. The governor is “chosen” for a unique and noble purpose. As God’s signet ring, Zerubbabel is given a place of honor and authority. God is reinstating the Davidic line and renewing His covenant with David. Judah still has a future as they look forward to the coming Son of David, the Messiah, who would one day “overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms” (Haggai 2:22).

 

Zerubbabel is also called “my servant.” This title was often a Messianic reference in the Old Testament (2 Samuel 3:181 Kings 11:34Isaiah 42:1-949:1-1350:4-1152:13-53:12Ezekiel 34:23-2437:24-25). The triad of servant, son, and signet ring creates a special combination of encouragement given to few in Scripture. Zerubbabel was an important leader involved in the reconstruction of the Jewish temple. As God’s “signet ring,” Zerubbabel becomes a picture of the future Messiah, Jesus Christ, who will establish His people in the Promised Land, construct an even grander temple (Zechariah 6:12-13), and lead the righteous in never-ending worship.

 

 

Haman un-masked

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

“As the word went out of king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face”.

 Esther 7:8

 

“Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done.

Amon worshiped and offered sacrifices to all the idols Manasseh had made. But unlike his father Manasseh, he did not humble himself before the Lord; Amon increased his guilt”.

2 Chronicles 33:21-23

 

Amon …. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth daughter of Haruz; she was from Jotbah. …. Amon’s officials conspired against him and assassinated the king in his palace.

 Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon …”.

 2 Kings 21:19, 23-24

 

Introductory

 

A notable feature of the extremely brief biography of king Amon of Judah, as given above in 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings, is that one so young as he, in his early twenties, whose reign was so short, seemingly, “two years”, could have outdone in wickedness his father Manasseh, who reigned for “fifty-five years” (2 Kings 21:1), and who was – according to the prophet Jeremiah – a very cause of the Babylonian catastrophe that was then about to befall Jerusalem and the Jews (Jeremiah 15:4): “I will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem”.

 

Jeremiah’s statement here immediately prompts a further consideration.

Why would the prophet single out Manasseh, by now supposedly well dead, when other evil kings of Judah would fill in the gap between Manasseh and the Babylonian incursions?

Prior to the Fall of Jerusalem certain idolatrous progeny of king Josiah of Judah would reign: namely, (i) Jehoahaz; (ii) Eliakim (re-named Jehoiakim); (iii) Jehoiachin; and (iv) Mattaniah (re-named Zedekiah).

 

Also in need of explanation is the testimony of 2 Chronicles that “Amon increased his guilt”. “Two years” of reign might seem hardly enough time for one notably to “increase” one’s guilt, at least to the extent that it would be considered worth mentioning.

There must be more to this King Amon of Judah than meets the eye!

The solutions to be proposed in this article will serve to solve not a few problems – although they will cause new ones as well. The positives, however, will well outweigh the negatives.

 

 

Part One:

Amon during the Babylonian Era

 

 

Duplicate Kings of Judah

 

 

  • Amon’s royal alter ego

 

 

Commentators, suspecting that Amon ruled “in a critical period”, wish that they could know far more about him. Thus we read in the Jewish Encyclopedia (“Amon, King of Judah”): http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1420-amon-king-of-judah

 

It is rather unfortunate that so little is known of the reign of Amon, king of Judah; for he lived evidently in a critical period. The endeavors of the prophets to establish a pure form of YHWH worship had for a short time been triumphant in Hezekiah’s reign; but a reaction against them set in after the latter’s death, and both Manasseh and his son Amon appear to have followed the popular trend in reestablishing the old Canaanitish form of cult, including the Ashera and Moloch worship. Whether Manasseh “repented,” as the chronicle tells us, is more than doubtful. There is no record of this in the book of Kings, and absolutely no indication of such a change in the subsequent course of events. ….

 

{The repentance of Manasseh is yet another issue that we intend to address in this article}.

 

Above we read that at least two of Josiah’s sons, Eliakim and Mattaniah, were re-named.

The same, we think, must have applied to King Amon, for this name “Amon” is not Hebrew, but is the name of the Egyptian “king of the gods” Amon (also Amun, Amen, Ammon).

It is found, for instance, in the name Tutankhamun.

“Living Image of Amun”

 

The first step in our search for the complete King Amon (Part One) could therefore be to find an initial alter ego for him. And the likeliest possible alter ego for Amon among the evil later kings of Judah is the similarly short-reigning Jehoiachin, an historically-attested king.

 

 

 

Amon-as-Jehoiachin offers the two immediate advantages of this king’s:

 

(i) having gone into Babylonian captivity and continuing on there for about four decades (Jeremiah 52:31) – thereby enabling for him to have, as is said of Amon, “increased his guilt”;

 

and

 

(ii) having as his father one Jehoiakim, who – since the latter was appointed and re-named by pharaoh Necho – was an Egyptian vassal – hence providing an explanation for why his son Jehoiachin might also have the Egyptian name Amon.

 

Whilst, admittedly, Jehoiachin’s age and length of reign in Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:8): “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months”, do not perfectly match those of Amon (“twenty-two years” of age and “two years” of reign) – one of those newly-created problems referred to above – the differences can largely be accounted for by co-regency.

Indeed, a calculation of the reigns of Jehoiakim and his son, Jehoiachin, in relation to those of the contemporaneous Babylonian (Chaldean) kings will bear this out. The most important date in the Old Testament, synchronising two biblical kings with a secular king, and also including a number for Jeremiah, is this one from the Book of Jeremiah (25:1-3):

 

The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.  So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: ‘For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened’.

 

Since Jehoiakim’s 4th year corresponded to the 1st year of King Nebuchednezzar II, then Jehoiakim’s last year in Jerusalem, his 11th (2 Kings 23:36): “ Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years”, must correspond to Nebuchednezzar’s 8th year of reign.

Jehoiachin then succeeded his exiled father, Jehoiakim, as king in Jerusalem.

It is commonly agreed that Nebuchednezzar II reigned for 43 years, which would mean that, by the end of his reign, 35 years after Jehoiakim’s exile, in the 1st year of Nebuchednezzar’s son-successor, Evil-Merodach,

 

(i) Jehoiakim would be in about his 46th year, whilst

 

(ii) Jehoiachin would be in about his 35th year.

 

However, according to Jeremiah 52:31, Jehoiachin was then in his 37th year: “And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison”.

That two-year discrepancy (35th, 37th) is just the amount of co-regency required – if we have properly calculated it – for an accurate merging of the reign of Amon with that of Jehoiachin.

 

Perhaps more difficult to explain is the apparent discrepancy in the case of the “mother”.

Compare these two texts:

 

“[Amon’s] mother’s name was Meshullemeth daughter of Haruz; she was from Jotbah” (2 Kings 21:19).

“[Jehoiachin’s] mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem” (2 Kings 24:8).

 

Different names, different geography!

But “mother” can have a somewhat broad meaning, not always intending biological mother.

It can also refer to the Gebirah, גְּבִירָה “the Great Lady”, who can be the grand-mother.

“Gebirah = grandmother Maacah, 1 Kings 15:8-24 …”. (Agape Bible Study)

 

I Chronicles 3:16 seems to have Zedekiah, the uncle of Jehoiachin, as the latter’s brother.

 

We shall return to this in Part Two when we further extend Amon as a captive in a foreign land, where we shall find him designated as a “son of” his actual aunt, and not his mother.

 

 

  • Manasseh’s royal alter ego

 

 

With Amon now tentatively identified as Jehoiachin, we turn to consider the possibility (already alluded to above) that Amon’s father, Manasseh, was the same as Jehoiachin’s father, Jehoiakim. This new identification, whilst seeming to solve a host of problems, does, once again, create new ones, such as the need now to re-arrange the list of late Judaean kings. And this will, in turn, affect a part of Matthew’s “Genealogy of Jesus Christ”.

 

Advantages of this identification

 

It would immediately explain why Jeremiah would attribute the Babylonian catastrophes to Manasseh, instead of to a supposedly later idolatrous king of Judah, such as Jehoiakim.

For, if Manasseh were Jehoiakim, as we are thinking, then that problem simply dissolves.

From 2 Kings 24:6 it appears that King Jehoiakim, though taken into captivity in chains, had actually died in peace. That would accord nicely with the biblical testimony that Manasseh finally repented (“humbled himself before the Lord”), returned to Jerusalem, then rebuilt and fortified the capital city (2 Chronicles 33:14).

From the above calculations for Jehoiakim in relation to the Babylonians, his alter ego, Manasseh, would have been, with the advent of the Medo-Persian era, in about the 50th year of his 55 years of reign.

Twelve years old at the commencement of his reign (2 Kings 21:1), now plus 50.

We might even be able to identify him with the mysterious “Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah” of Ezra 1:8, into whose hands Cyrus gave “the treasures that Nebuchadnezzar had taken”.

{Was “Sheshbazzar” also the “Shaashgaz” of Esther 2:14?}

King Manasseh would have died only a few years after this famous Ezra 1:8 incident.

 

Again we ask: What about that very strong tradition that the prophet Isaiah was martyred during the reign of King Manasseh? There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that Manasseh, under this name, had martyred Isaiah. Might we, though, find the incident in the account in which his alter ego (as we think), Jehoiakim, had a fleeing prophet pursued into Egypt (Jeremiah 26:20-23)? The prophet is there named “Uriah” (or Urijah), which name is, in its variant Azariah, compatible with “Uzziah” (Isaiah’s name in Judith – see next page).

 

{King Uzziah of Judah: 2 Chronicles 26:1, was also named Azariah: 2 Kings 15:1)}.

 

 

Seal of the prophet Isaiah?

 

We know this of “the great prophet Isaiah” from Sirach 48:24-25: “His powerful spirit looked into the future, and he predicted what was to happen before the end of time, hidden things that had not yet occurred”. His foretelling of Cyrus (e.g. Isaiah 45:1): “Cyrus is my anointed [“messiah”: מְשִׁיח] king”, is one such case, and, owing to Isaiah’s propensity for predicting hidden and distant things, commentators must scramble to create a Deutero-, even a Trito-Isaiah. Chances are, though, that, according to our revision – which shunts the age of Isaiah (and the late neo-Assyrian kings) right into the age of Isaiah’s younger contemporary, Jeremiah (and the neo-Babylonian kings) – Cyrus was already a teenager by the time of the reign of Jehoiakim; the reign that bore the burden, as we think, for Isaiah’s martyrdom.

Cyrus may therefore have been known to Isaiah as a young prodigy, perhaps, for instance under the tutelage of Ahikar, nephew of Tobit, a governor of Elam (Susa) from where Cyrus would one day reign. Ahikar had previously been the mentor of Sennacherib’s eldest son, the treacherous “Nadin” (Nadab) of Tobit 14:10, and the “Holofernes” of the Book of Judith.

 

Ahikar and Isaiah had met at least once, in the midst of the Judith drama, Ahikar as “Achior”, and Isaiah as “Uzziah son of Micah, of the tribe of Simeon” (Judith 6:15).

 

Now, regarding the king’s mother’s name, which had loomed as somewhat awkward in the case of Amon-Jehoiachin, Manasseh’s “mother’s name … Hephzibah” (2 Kings 21:1) stands up quite well against Jehoiakim’s “mother’s name … Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah” (2 Kings 23:36). Thus, Zibah and Zebudah.

 

We read above that Jehoiakim was taken into Babylonian captivity in chains, and so, too, was Jehoiakim’s alter ego, Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:11): “So the LORD sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon”. “’Manasseh King of the Jews’ appears in a list of 22 Assyrian tributaries of Imperial Assyria on both the Prism of Esarhaddon and the Prism of Ashurbanipal” (E.M. Blaiklock and R.K. Harrison, The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology, 1983)”.

The approximately 43-year reigning Ashurbanipal (c. 669 – c. 626 BC, conventional dating), contemporaneous with Manasseh, must therefore be the same as the 43-year reigning Nebuchednezzar (c. 605 – c. 562 BC, conventional dating), contemporaneous with Jehoiakim.

 

As with Jehoiakim’s death, apparently, so was Manasseh’s passing peaceful (2 Kings 21:18): “And Manasseh slept with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza”. This unknown location, presumed to be somewhere in the city of Jerusalem, is where we shall learn that Amon, too, was buried.

And we shall find that it was not in Jerusalem but was in the land of exile of these two kings.

 

 

  • Hezekiah’s royal alter ego

 

 

With Amon now tentatively identified as Jehoiachin, and Manasseh as Jehoiakim, then we ought now look to consider the possibility that Manasseh’s father, King Hezekiah, was the same as Jehoiakim’s father, King Josiah. This question is asked at Bible Hermeneutics: https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/1298/who-was-a-greater-king-hezekiah-

 

Who was a greater king: Hezekiah or Josiah?

 

About Hezekiah, we read in 2 Kings 18:5-6:

 

Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.

 

But then about Josiah a couple chapters later in 2 Kings 23:25:

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.

 

How can the reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah both be the greatest, especially when it is said of both that neither before nor after him was there a king like him? Is this a contradiction?

[End of quote]

 

This is an excellent question, and our proposed answer to it is that Hezekiah and Josiah were equally great, because Hezekiah was Josiah.

Once again, this new suggestion will have its advantages, but will also create its problems – some of these being rather severe. For instance, according to various scriptural texts as we now have them (e.g., 2 Kings 21:25-26; 2 Chronicles 33:25; Zephaniah 1:1; Matthew 1:10), Josiah was the son of Amon, who, in turn, post-dates Hezekiah.

 

This is how (our current) Matthew 1 sets out the relevant series of kings of Judah (vv. 9-11):

 

 

…. Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,

Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,

Manasseh the father of Amon,

Amon the father of Josiah,

and Josiah the father of Jeconiah …

at the time of the exile to Babylon.

 

Obviously, this is totally different from our proposed:

 

Hezekiah = Josiah;

Manasseh = Jehoiakim;

Amon = Jehoiachin ….

 

Our exit-clause suggestion: “Amon the father of Josiah” needs to be amended to read, as according to the ESV Matthew 1:10: “Amos the father of Josiah”.

“Amos” (Amoz) would then be meant to indicate – at least according to our revision – not Amon (“Amos” being a name entirely different from “Amon”), but Ahaz.

Amos (or Amoz) is a name associated with Amaziah (Abarim Publications), which name, in turn, at least resembles Ahaziah (= Ahaz).

Allowing for our duplicate kings, Matthew 1:9-11 could now read as:

 

…. Ahaz [Amos] the father of Hezekiah [= Josiah],

Hezekiah the father of Manasseh [= Jehoiakim],

Manasseh the father of Amon [= Jehoiachin]

… at the time of the exile to Babylon.

 

With the recognition of these several duplicate kings, then another problem might be solved. Early kings Joash and Amaziah, omitted entirely from Matthew’s Genealogy, and whose combined reigns amounted to some 7 decades, could now be included in Matthew’s list.

 

The Hezekiah and Josiah narratives are so similar for the most part as to strengthen the impression that we are dealing with just the one goodly king of Judah.

Although the 55-year reign of Manasseh is supposed to have separated Josiah from Hezekiah, one can only marvel at the fact that Hezekiah, Josiah, have virtually the same lists of priests and officials.

 

Previously we had written on this phenomenon (original version here modified):

 

“There was no one like him [Hezekiah] among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”  2 Kings 18:5 (NIV?) “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him …”

2 Kings 23:25 (NIV?)

 

The reigns of the pious, reforming kings Hezekiah (c. 716-697 BC, conventional dating) and Josiah (c. 640-609 BC, conventional dating) are so alike – with quite an amazing collection of same-named officials – that we need to consider now the possibility of an identification of Hezekiah with Josiah.

 

The Domain of Man’s important Chart 37 shows up some striking comparisons between Hezekiah and Josiah (we do not necessarily endorse every single detail given in this chart): http://www.domainofman.com/book/chart-37.html

 

Comparison of Hezekiah and Josiah Narratives

 

 

Hezekiah Narrative
2 Chron. 29-32
2 Kings 18-20
Book of Isaiah
Josiah Narrative
2 Chron. 34-35
2 Kings 22-23
Book of Jeremiah
“There was no one like him [Hezekiah] among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”  2 Kings 18:5 (NIV?) “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him …”  2 Kings 23:25 (NIV?)
Jerusalem to be spared destruction in his lifetime
2 Kings 19:1; 20:2-19; 2 Chron. 32:20,26
Jerusalem to be spared destruction in his lifetime
(2 Kings 22:14-20; 2 Chron. 34:22-28)
Revival of Laws of Moses
“according to what was written”
2 Chron. 30:5,16, 18; 31:2-7,15
Discovery of the Book of the Law (of Moses)
2 Kings 22:8-10; 2 Chron. 34:14-15
Passover Celebration Passover Celebration
“For since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.”
2 Chron. 30:26
“Not since the days of the Judges (Samuel) who led Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, had any such Passover been observed.”  2 Kings 23:22
Year not given
14th day of the second month
Year 18
14th day of the first month
17,000 sheep and goats, 1,000 bulls
(not including the sacrifices of the first seven days)  (1 Chron. 30:24)
30,000 sheep and goats, 3,000 cattle
Participating tribes:  Judah and Benjamin,
Manasseh, Ephraim,
Asher, Zebulun & Issachar
(2 Chron. 31:1)
Participating tribes: Judah and Benjamin,
Manasseh, Ephraim,
Simeon & Naphtali
(2 Chron. 34:9,32)
Temporary priests consecrated for service Employed “lay people” 2 Chron. 35:5
“. smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles”  2 Kings 18:4; 2 Chron. 31:1 “. smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles”  2 Kings 23:14
High places and altars torn down High places and altars torn down
“. broke into pieces the bronze snake” “. burned the chariots dedicated to the sun”
Name Comparisons
Hezekiah Narrative Josiah Narrative
…. ….
Eliakim son of Hilkiah, palace administrator Eliakim “son” (?) of Josiah (future Jehoiakim)
Zechariah (descendant of Asaph)
Azariah, the priest (from family of Zadok)
Zechariah
Zechariah
(variant of Azariah)
Shaban/Shebna/Shebniah, scribe Shaphan, scribe
(son of Azaliah son of Meshullam)
Hashabiah/Hashabniah  (2 Chron. 35:9)
Jeshua
Isaiah son of Amoz, prophet
Joshua, “city governor”
Hoshaiah (Jer. 42:1; 43:2)
Asaiah, “king’s attendant”
Ma’aseiah, “ruler of the city”
Jerimoth Jeremiah son of Hilkiah
Conaniah and his brother Shemei, supervisors
(2 Chron. 31:12)
Conaniah/Cononiah, along with his brothers Shemaiah and Nethanel (2 Chron. 35:9)
Hananiah the prophet, son of Azzur/Azur (Azariah)  (Jer. 28)
Nahath Nathan-el/Nathan-e-el/El-Nathan/Nathan-Melech
2 Kings 23:11
Mattaniah, Mahath Mattaniah (future Zedekiah)
Jehiel Jehiel, “administrator of God’s temple”

 

Our comment: Other names could be added to Chart 37, such as Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the high-priest Joakim of the Book of Judith (for Hezekiah); and “Jehoiakim the High Priest, son of Hilkiah” (Baruch 1:7) (for Josiah).

 

Shallum/Meshillemoth (reign of Ahaz) Meshullam (the Kohathite)
Shellemiah son of Cushi (Jer. 36:14)
No mention of a prophetess

[Our comment: What about Judith?]

Huldah, wife of Shallam/Meshullam,
prophetess (spokeswoman of the “Lord”)
Shemaiah Shemaiah
Jozabad Jozabad
Jeiel Jeiel

 

The author of the article The Passovers of Hezekiah and Josiah in Chronicles: Meals in the Persian Period”, for instance, who accepts the conventional view that Hezekiah and Josiah were two different kings, has pointed nonetheless to certain similarities:

http://prophetess.lstc.edu/~rklein/Doc15/meals.pdf

 

…. The descriptions of the Passovers of Hezekiah and Josiah in Chronicles are centralized festivals, held in Jerusalem and linked in both cases to the feast of Unleavened Bread (2 Chr 30:13, 21 and 2 Chr 35:17) …. In 2 Chronicles 30 this two-week celebration is followed by various reform activities by all Israel in the territories of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh. In Chronicles this festive celebration forms the climax of the reign of Josiah, followed only by his death at the hands of Necho. These two Unleavened Bread and Passover feasts enhance the reputation of two of the Chronicler’s favorite kings, Hezekiah and Josiah.

The meals in both cases are accompanied by a full array of the clergy …. The addition of the Passover of Hezekiah and baroque expansion and development of the three-verse celebration of the Passover of Josiah may conform the story of this eighth and seventh century kings to the tradition of royal banquets …. Unlike the Persian banquets, the Passovers of Hezekiah and Josiah in Chronicles were not characterized by excessive drinking. In fact, alcohol is not mentioned at all. ….

[End of quote]

 

 

John Mayne investigates the matter in “Hezekiah and Josiah: Comparisons and Contrasts”: https://www.academia.edu/12836231/Hezekiah_and_Josiah_Comparisons_and_Contrasts

 

Abstract:

 

Hezekiah and Josiah were the joint authors of unparalleled and unprecedented religious reforms that found their purpose in Yahweh, and their presence in Jerusalem. Through dissecting their methods and motivations, we can begin to uncover the full extent to which their reforming stratagem converged, diverged, or existed in parallel.  Factoring in the contribution of the Historian and Chronicler, the geopolitical situation, personal devotion to Yahweh, monarchical relationships with the prophetic conscience and each king’s lasting historical legacy, we can begin to also shed light on what role their transformative measures carried out on the macro scale of Israelite history. ….

 

[End of quote]

 

The least reconcilable detail of comparison at this stage has to be this one:

 

Hezekiah                                               Josiah

 

25 years at ascension, reigned 29 years 8 years at ascension, reigned 31 years

 

Whilst we do not have any convincing solution for this one, we can at least say again that the two-year difference in reign length might be accounted for by a co-regency.

The inerrancy of the Bible applies only to original manuscripts, and numbers can be tricky. For example, this is how the NRSV translates 1 Samuel 13:1: “Saul was . . . years old when he began to reign; and he reigned . . . two years over Israel.”

And, in the case of our main character, Amon-Jehoiachin, whereas 2 Kings 24:8 has this: “Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he began to reign,” 2 Chronicles 36:9 says that: “Jehoiachin was 8 years old when he began to reign”. Presumably both cannot be right.

 

There is a further complicating factor that Sirach has separate entries for Hezekiah (48:17-22) and for Josiah (49:1-3), and he continues on (v. 4) as if these were two distinct individuals: “All the kings, except David, Hezekiah, and Josiah, were terrible sinners, because they abandoned the Law of the Most High to the very end of the kingdom”.

 

On the positive side, there may be yet other significant advantages to be derived from this new crunching of the era of Isaiah into the era of Jeremiah.

Isaiah’s father, Micah (refer back to Judith 6:15), now also becomes a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah, who will favourably recall the older prophet. Jeremiah, now threatened with death in the reign of King Jehoiakim (the son of King Hezekiah as according to our reconstruction) (Jeremiah 26:1, 8), will tell this of Micah (26:18):

“Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah. He told all the people of Judah, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says:

 

“Zion will be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets”.’

 

Moreover, the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah, who various commentators think most resembles (in literal terms) the prophet Jeremiah – although we know that Jesus Christ is the most perfect Suffering Servant – can now be Jeremiah himself as a younger contemporary of Isaiah, and well-known to the latter (Isaiah 53:2): “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him”. Isaiah, here, was clearly describing a younger contemporary known to himself and to the local citizens.

Jesus Christ was not a contemporary who had grown up before their eyes, though He himself is the quintessential “Suffering Servant” in the sense that both the Church and Benedict XVI tell of Jesus perfectly fulfilling the Old Testament and making it new.

 

“The Atonement of Christ, as both the eternal high priest and sacrificial victim, not only fulfils the Old Testament in the sense of transfiguring its symbols into a new reality; it also gives rise to a new sovereignty, a new kingship”.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/no-bloodless-myth-jesus-as-priest-and-

 

 

 

Part Two:

Amon during the Medo-Persian Era

 

 

Introductory section

 

—————————————————————————-

The “Artaxerxes” of the Book of Nehemiah was, in fact, Nebuchednezzar II himself,

meaning that the Medo-Persian era – supposed by conventional historians to have been

by then a century or more old – was yet some 15 or more years in the future.

—————————————————————————-

 

As with his father, Manasseh-Jehoiakim, our composite king, Amon-Jehoiachin is scarcely attested during the long reign of Nebuchednezzar II. The two names emerge in Baruch 1:3-4: “Baruch read the book aloud to Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and to all the people who lived in Babylon by the Sud River”.

Nebuchednezzar II, perhaps “the basest of men” (Daniel 4:17), and from a barbarous race, would experience a marvellous conversion (Daniel 4:37), but his son, Belshazzar, would not. And this has a parallel with Manasseh-Jehoiakim, who ‘humbled himself before the Lord’, while his son, Amon-Jehoiachin did not. For, as we have read: “Amon increased his guilt”. Perhaps King Belshazzar, or Evil-Merodach as he was also known – {which name has nothing to do with Evil, though the king himself had much to do with it} – recognised a kindred spirit in the Jewish king, because – as we have also read – the new Babylonian king “graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison”. Evil-Merodach did even more than that for Jehoiachin (Jeremiah 52:33): “He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon”. Amon-Jehoiachin was now second-ranked in the kingdom.

And this explains why King Evil-Merodach, or Belshazzar, making wild promises to Daniel when faced with the Writing on the Wall, could promise Daniel only third place in the kingdom (Daniel 5:16): ‘If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom’.

Note that Daniel says of King Belshazzar (v. 22): ‘But you, Belshazzar [Nebuchednezzar’s] son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this’, precisely what 2 Chronicles 33:23 says of King Amon, “… he did not humble himself before the Lord”.

That was to be the end of King Belshazzar and the Babylonian kingdom, which would now be superseded by the Medo-Persian kingdom (Daniel 5:30-31): “That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two”.

 

But it was by no means yet the end of the second-in-command, Amon-Jehoiachin, who must by now have been very close in age to the “sixty-two” years of King Darius the Mede.

 

As for Daniel so favoured by Nebuchednezzar II, who had lately – despite his protests (5:17): ‘You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else’ – been elevated to third in Belshazzar’s kingdom, his fortunes were on the verge of skyrocketing (6:3): “Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king [Darius] planned to set him over the whole kingdom”.

Sadly, though, the situation became messy between Darius and his administrators and satraps, who greatly envied Daniel, with the result that Daniel ended up in the lions’ den (6:16).

 

Before we can proceed further with the burgeoning career of Amon-Jehoiachin, now in the kingdom of Medo-Persia, we need to make the point that the Medo-Persian kings, and the duration of that kingdom, have been vastly over-extended by the conventional historians.

This will have relevance for what is to follow.

 

Conventional Persian history lacks an adequate archaeology

 

The reality (e.g., the archaeological evidence), is somewhat less than the current ‘history’, with one scholar, H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, going so far as to declare that: “The very existence of a Median empire, with the emphasis on empire, is thus questionable”. (“Was the ever a Median Empire?”, 1988). The few Medo-Persian kings whom we encounter in Daniel are far outnumbered by a super-abundant conventional listing (even with Cambyses omitted):

 

  • Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, founder of the greatness of the Achaemenids and of the Persian Empire (c. 559–529 B.C.)
  • Darius I (Darius the Great), king of ancient Persia (521–486 B.C.)
  • Xerxes I (Xerxes the Great), king of ancient Persia (486–465 B.C.)
  • Artaxerxes I, king of ancient Persia (464–425 B.C.), of the dynasty of the Achaemenis
  • Xerxes II, king of ancient Persia (424 B.C.)
  • Darius II, king of ancient Persia (423?–404 B.C.)
  • Tissaphernes, Persian satrap of coastal Asia Minor (c.413–395 B.C.)
  • Artaxerxes II, king of ancient Persia (404–358 B.C.)
  • Mausolus, Persian satrap, ruler over Caria (c.376–353 B.C.)
  • Artaxerxes III, king of ancient Persia (358–338 B.C.)
  • Darius III (Darius Codomannus), king of ancient Persia (336–330 B.C.)The biblical Nehemiah, Ezra, belonged to the reign of an “Artaxerxes”. But which one?The big problem is, the “Artaxerxes” of the Book of Nehemiah was a “king of Babylon”, though he was sometimes found in Susa – which location was well-known also to Daniel (8:1-2): “In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me.  In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam …’.Nehemiah, the high official of the “king of Babylon” was more than likely Daniel himself, serving Nebuchednezzar. The wall of Jerusalem, just lately destroyed by the Babylonians, would be quickly rebuilt by Nehemiah after his prudent, wise and prayerful – indeed most Daniel-like (cf. Daniel 2:14, 18, 27-28) – approach to the unpredictable king, “Artaxerxes” (Nehemiah 1:11): ‘Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man. I was cupbearer to the king’.Having made this strong point about Medo-Persian ‘history’ (it is only the tip of an iceberg), our attention can now be focussed again upon Amon-Jehoiachin.  of the Book of Esther There is much here, in just this one verse, requiring to be unpackaged.“After these things …”. The Persian king, who had survived an attempted assassination plotted by two of his officials, but foiled by Mordecai the Jew (2:21-23), had married Esther (1-18).  We shall explain this further on the next page.“… the son of Hammedatha …”. Hammedatha was not the father, as one might immediately be inclined to think, but the mother, at least the “mother” in that broad sense of the term as discussed in Part One (pp. 3-4). That makes “Hammedatha” Haman’s (Jehoiachin’s) aunt, and not his biological mother.Let us now elaborate on some of these points.For a time Daniel (our Nehemiah) – who had even during the reign of Nebuchednezzar II begun to rebuild fallen Jerusalem, and who had been raised to third in the Babylonian kingdom only to see Darius the Mede (= Cyrus = “Ahasuerus”) take the throne and begin to reorganise his empire (Daniel 6:1-2), and who (as Nehemiah) had returned to Jerusalem in the 1st year of Cyrus to commence the rebuilding of the Temple – fades into the background (he may still have been in Jerusalem) to be ‘overshadowed’ in the biblical narrative by the Benjaminite Jew, Mordecai. {“The name “Mordecai” is of uncertain origin but is considered identical to the name Marduka or Marduku …attested as the name of officials in the Persian court in thirty texts”}: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordecai Despite Mordecai’s timely intervention to save the Persian king from those plotting his assassination – these probably having been incited by Haman – nothing is done to increase his being honoured in the kingdom. Instead, Haman takes all the honours, for, as we read above: “King Ahasuerus … advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him”. This Haman (Amon-Jehoiachin), who appears to have been – according to the testimony of Esther, as she prays, a “king” (Esther 4:36-38): ‘And now they are not satisfied that we are in bitter slavery, but they have covenanted with their idols to abolish what your mouth has ordained, and to destroy your inheritance, to stop the mouths of those who praise you and to quench your altar and the glory of your house, to open the mouths of the nations for the praise of vain idols, and to magnify forever a mortal king’[,]must have been an extremely charismatic and competent character for, firstly, Evil-Merodach (as we read) to elevate him above the rest, and, now, for that Babylonian king’s successor, Ahasuerus, to do the very same thing for him. As we wrote at the beginning:And this is borne out in part by 2 Kings 21:25: “As for the other events of Amon’s reign, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?”
  • But now the next question needs to be answered: If Haman were, in fact, a Jewish king, why does the Book of Esther call him an “Agagite” (etc.)? Previously we have written on this:
  • There must be more to this King Amon of Judah than meets the eye!
  • This well-respected Mordecai may possibly have been the highly-respected and wealthy Jew, Joakim, the husband of the beautiful Susanna, as recorded in the Book of Daniel. If so, then Susanna – {said by Hippolytus to have been the sister of Jeremiah} – may well have been Esther herself, since Jewish tradition claims that Mordecai’s avuncular protection of Esther (2:7) indicated that Mordecai was actually married to her.
  • She was Queen “Hammutal” (Hamutal), mother of two of Jehoiachin’s uncles, Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:31) and Zedekiah (24:18).
  •  
  • “… promoted Haman the Agagite …”. The name “Haman”, as we once had imagined, must have been the Persian name given to this character, e.g., “Achaemenes” (Persian Hak-haman-ish). But we now know its precise origins: Aman (var. Haman) is Amon, an Egyptian name. It is the name of the captive king, Amon (or Jehoiachin), of Judah.
  • “King Ahasuerus …”. He is both Darius the Mede, and Cyrus, and not, as commentators tend to think, Xerxes ‘the Great’ (c. 486–465 B.C, conventional dating) – a largely fictitious creation of the Greco-Romans, but also a composite mix of real Assyro-Babylonian-Persian kings (e.g. Sennacherib; Nebuchednezzar II; Cyrus).
  • {The LXX implicates Haman in the assassination plot}
  • According to Esther 3:1: “After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him”.
  •  
  • Amon is Aman (Haman)
  • For there is still some honey to be extracted from that old carcase. (Cf. Judges 14:9)
  • The “Artaxerxes” of the Book of Nehemiah was, in fact, Nebuchednezzar II himself, meaning that the Medo-Persian era – supposed by conventional historians to have been by then a century or more old – was yet some 15 or more years in the future.
  • There can be fierce debate over whether Artaxerxes I or II is meant.

Haman’s Nationality

 

This is a far bigger problem than the traditional view might suggest. Though Scripture can present Haman variously as an “Amalekite”; an “Agagite” (MT); a “Bougaean” (Septuagint); and a “Macedonian” (AT) – and though the drama is considered to be a continuation of the long-running feud between the tribe of Benjamin (started by king Saul, but now continued by Mordecai) and the Amalekites (Agag thought to be an Amalekite name, cf. 1 Samuel 15:8) – the problem with this tradition is that King David had long ago wiped out the Amalekites.

 

“Bougaean” is quite a mystery … Haman was certainly a ‘Boogey-Man’ for the Jews.

 

And “Macedonian” for Haman appears to be simply an historical anachronism.

 

Perhaps our only consolation is that we can discount “Persian” as being Haman’s nationality, since king Ahasuerus speaks of Haman as “an alien to the Persian blood” (Esther 16:10).

 

But what about a Jew? Surely we can immediately discount any Jewish ethnicity for Haman. After all, this “alien” was the Adolf Hitler of the ancient world: a Jew hater!

 

{Though some suspect that Hitler himself may have had Jewish blood in his veins}.

 

Surely not Haman, however? No hint of Jewishness there!

But, wait a minute. Jewish legend itself is not entirely lacking in the view that Haman may in fact have been a Jew. Let us read what Louis Ginzberg (Legends of the Jews) had to say on this, as quoted by another Jewish writer (emphasis added):

 

Power struggle between Jews

….

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 … and Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews which … 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 .

 

[Our comment: They had gone into captivity together (Esther 2:5, 6): “Mordecai … had been carried into exile … by Nebuchadnezzar … among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah”].

 

From this, and from some other evidences, a total picture began to emerge. Haman, a king as we saw – obviously a sub-king under Ahasuerus ‘the Great’ – was none other than the ill-fated king Jehoiachin (or Coniah), the last king of Judah. Like Haman, he had sons. But neither Coniah, nor his sons, was destined to rule. The story of Esther tells why – they were all slain. ….

 

As for “Agagite”, or “Amalekite”, it seems to have been confused with the Greek word for “captive”, which was Jehoiachin’s epithet. Thus we have written before:

 

Our 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 how the confusion may have arisen?

 

 

Haman the “cut-off” one

 

Thanks to the continued alertness of Mordecai, and to the heroic intervention of Queen Esther – a type of Our Lady of Fatima (today being the 13th of October, 2018) – Haman the (Hitlerian) Jew’s “Final Solution” plan to exterminate all of the people of Mordecai, who had refused to bow the knee (proskynesis) to Haman (Esther 3:2), was brilliantly turned on its head due to the Lord’s ‘rival operation’.

 

 

 

Had not the Book of Jeremiah early predicted this, it even cutting short the name of Jehoiachin (or Jeconiah), to render it as “Coniah” (Jeremiah 22:24-30)?:

 

‘As surely as I live’, declares the Lord, ‘even if you, Coniah son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. I will deliver you into the hands of those who want to kill you, those you fear—Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Babylonians. I will hurl you and the mother who gave you birth into another country, where neither of you was born, and there you both will die. You will never come back to the land you long to return to’.

 

Is this man Jehoiachin a despised, broken pot,
an object no one wants?
Why will he and his children be hurled out,
cast into a land they do not know?
O land, land, land,
hear the word of the Lord!

This is what the Lord says:
‘Record this man as if childless,
a man who will not prosper in his lifetime,
for none of his offspring will prosper,
none will sit on the throne of David
or rule anymore in Judah’.

 

This is how Jehoiachin, as Amon, came to die – and it was a violent death (2 Kings 21:23): “Amon’s officials conspired against him and assassinated the king in his palace”.

It bears favourable comparison to the violent death of Haman, also in his palace (or “house”) (Esther 7:8-10):

 

As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, ‘A gibbet reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house [palace]. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king’.

The king said, ‘Impale him on it!’ So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.

 

What the Book of Esther does not tell us, but we find it in the account of the violent death of King Amon (2 Kings 21:24): “Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon …”. For the conflict between the Haman-ites, “the people of the land [of Susa]”, and the loyal Jews, had not fully been resolved with the death of Haman.

It, like Fatima, was awaiting a 13th of the month fulfilment, “… the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar” (Esther 9:1).

Only then do we find that (vv. 5-12):

 

The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. The king said to Queen Esther, ‘The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted’.

 

Queen Esther, no doubt well aware of what Jeremiah had foretold of Haman (as “Coniah”), and not wanting any of his seed left alive to rule over the Jews, seems to go into overkill here (v. 13-14): “‘If it pleases the king’, Esther answered, ‘give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles’. So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they impaled the ten sons of Haman”.

 

Daniel 9:26’s “And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing” must surely refer to the “anointed” (that is, ruler), King Amon, now “cut off” (dead) and having “nothing” – “none of his offspring will prosper” – all of his ten sons impaled!

Part Two: Name, Haman, an Egyptian one

 “According to the Qur’an, Haman was an adviser and builder for the Pharaoh of ancient Egypt during the time of Moses. In spite of the living in different countries at different times, both the Biblical and Qur’anic Hamans follow a very similar narrative. In both the Bible and the Qur’an, Haman is an evil character who plans to destroy the children of Israel. Haman built a tall structure – a gallows in the Bible [Esther 5:14], and a tower in the Qur’an [Surah 40:36]”.

 Andrew Vargo

 

Following Jewish tradition I was able, in Part One of this series:

https://www.academia.edu/37584041/Haman_un-masked to identify the conspiratorial Haman of the Book of Esther as a Jew. From that essential starting-point I took things further, identifying Haman as the exiled Jewish king, Jehoiachin (or Coniah), and, finally, as king Amon of Judah who was, I had also concluded, an alter ego of Jehoiachin.

Having come to the conclusion, at last, that Haman (or Aman) was king Amon, then that finally enabled me to know how the name Haman came about. I wrote about this:

 

….

But king Jehoiachin now – in my steps here towards a deeper revision – becomes even more apt given that his alter ego, Haman, enables for a virtual name comparison with Amon, leading to my proposed new identification of (Jehoiachin)-Haman with Amon king of Judah.

Haman is in fact called Aman (even closer to the name, Amon) in a version of Tobit 14:10, where he has been confused with Nadab (or Nadin), which is the correct reading.

 

{Haman and Nadin, my “Holofernes”, belong to two entirely different eras}

….

If Haman is Amon, then that would account for the origin of the name Haman, which I had previously imagined must have been Jehoiachin’s Persian name. For instance, the famous Persian name Achaemenes can be rendered as Hakhamanish (containing the element haman). Amon itself, though, is very much an Egyptian name, and we know that pharaoh Necho, at about that time, had a certain influence in naming young kings of Judah (2 Kings 23:34).

[End of quote]

 

Fittingly Jehoiachin’s (i.e., Amon’s) father, Jehoiakim, was pro-Egyptian:

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jehoiakim

“Jehoiakim’s original name Eliakim was changed by the Pharaoh in order to indicate the Judahite king’s subservience to Egypt (II Kings 23:34; II Chron. 36:4)”.

 

Thus he who would become the Haman of the Book of Esther, later in the Medo-Persian period, was given, back in the Chaldean period, the Egyptian name, Amon.

This was no doubt an abbreviated version of a longer Egyptian name, such as Amenhotep.

 

Islam’s Sher Mohammad Syed has recognised a name connection between Haman and the Egyptian Amon, but has, in the process of trying to locate the historical Haman, mangled history in a typical Islamic fashion. On this, see e.g. my series beginning with:

 

Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History

 

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

 

Others have attempted to identify Haman with pharaoh Cheops’ famed architect of the Great Pyramid, Hemiunu. Andrew Vargo has taken Syed to task for his mauling of ancient history:

https://www.answering-islam.org/authors/vargo/haman_amun.html

 

 

Was Haman the high-priest of Amun?

Examining a proposed solution to a historical problem in the Qur’an

….

 

Introduction

In his paper, “Historicity of Haman as Mentioned in the Qur’an” (Islamic Quarterly, 1980, Volume XXIV, pp. 48-59), Sher Mohammad Syed attempts to partially rescue Muhammad’s Qur’an from a rather comical and completely inaccurate amalgamation of Bible stories. The Qur’an mixes a number of Biblical characters and themes including a man named Haman [from the Book of Esther] with the story of the Tower of Babel [from Genesis] with the story of Moses [from Exodus]. Syed will attempt to prove the historicity of the character of Haman.

 

Identification of Haman

Syed was unable to find any historical evidence for the existence of a man named Haman in ancient Egypt, so he needs to make some up. Syed begins his sophistry by citing a passage from Sir Flinder Petrie’s book “Religious Life in Ancient Egypt” [1924, Archibald Constable & Co., page 21]:

  1. “The dispersion of the worship of Amen is noted above as pointing to its coming through the Oases; and there seems no reason to question that the primitive Oases worship of Ammon or Hammon, was the origin on the one hand of the Egyptian Aman or Amun, and on the other of the Carthaginian Baal Haman.”

Syed attempts a “slight of hand” in the next paragraph:

  1. Impersonation or incarnation of the god Amon (which is the same as Haman is clear from “a” above) is also a well established fact. …

The attempt to link the Carthaginian Ba’al-Hamon [sometimes called Ba’al-Hammon, Ba’al Khamon, or Baal-Ammon] to Haman creates a huge problem of chronology.

Ba’al-Hamon was the chief god of Carthage. He was the deity of sky and vegetation and was depicted as a bearded older man with curled ram’s horns. According to Roman legend, Phoenician Carthage was founded in 814 B.C. by colonists from Tyre under the leadership of Elissa, also known as Queen Dido. However, the New Kingdom, which is associated with the Exodus, ended in 1070 B.C. — 250 years before the founding of Phoenician Carthage.

Syed continues the construction of his argument:

… That the high priest of Amon used to personate the god Amon is clear from the following quotation:—

“Possibly the combination arose from priests wearing the heads of animals when personating the god, as the high priest wore the ram’s skin when personating Amon”.

This quotation came from Professor W.M. Flinders Petrie’s book, The Religion of Ancient Egypt, page 30.

A number of issues need to be raised concerning this quotation:

  1. Petrie is discussing the origins of Egyptian gods which are part animal and part human.
  2. Petrie does not equate Amon with Haman. The name Haman appears nowhere in Petrie’s book.
  3. Petrie does not say that people called the priest by the name of “Amon” during, let alone after, the religious ceremonies in which the priest personated this god. In fact, Petrie says (on pages 47-48):

The supremacy of Amon was for some centuries an article of political faith, and many other gods were merged in him, and only survived as aspects of the great god of all. The queens were the high priestesses of the god, and he was the divine father of their children; the kings being only incarnations of Amon in the relation to the queens.

So, if the king was the father of the queen’s children, could anyone imagine that a priest, who performed a ceremony personating Amon, would have the same title as the king?

  1. Petrie writes (on page 47) that Amon began as a local god of Karnak – which is in upper Egypt. Petrie also adds:

The Theban kingdom of the twelfth dynasty spread his fame, the great kings of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasty ascribed their victories to Amon, his high priest became a political power which absorbed the state after the twentieth dynasty, and the importance of the god only ceased with the fall of his city. The original attributes and the origin of the name Amon are unknown; but he became combined with Ra, the sun-god, and as Amon-Ra he was ‘king of the gods’, and ‘lord of the thrones of the world.’

So, if we assume for the sake of argument that the priests were addressed as Amon [something that Petrie never claimed], and that Amon = Haman [also not an argument made by Petrie], then how many “Hamans” lived in Egypt during nearly 13 centuries – from the 12th Dynasty [which began around 1991 B.C.] to the fall of Thebes [in 667 B.C. – as mentioned in Nahum 3:8]? How many “Hamans” should have existed at one time, each serving the many temples in Upper Egypt? Which of these numerous “Hamans” was the “Haman” of Muhammad’s Qur’anic tale? Even more interesting and striking: why is there not even one inscription from all of these centuries mentioning any of these many possible “Hamans”? Why is there no evidence testifying that any human being was ever called Haman in Egyptian history?

Also, if we assume that Amon = Haman, then would not “Haman’s” title be Haman-Ra in the New Kingdom? However, as in the case of “Haman”, we have to ask again: Why has there not been any inscription found that contains the name or title “Haman-Ra”?

Syed continues:

By way of elaboration, it may be added that according to the creed of ancient Egyptians, it was customary for the priest and priestesses to personify or personate their gods and goddesses, as will be clear from the following quotations:—

This was true at various points in Egyptian history. In fact, the Smithsonian has a sarcophagus of a priestess of Amon-Ra. However, we need to look closely at Syed’s quotes, and the claims that he makes based on these quotes.

Syed quotes Sir Wallace Budge’s “Egyptian Religion” [Bell Publishing Company, New York, 1959, pages 105-106]:

  1. “This chapter may be fittingly ended by a few extracts from the Songs of Isis and Nephthys which were sung in the temple of Amen-Ra at Thebes by two priestesses who personified the two goddesses”.

There is no evidence that these priestesses were called Isis or Nephthys inside of the Temple or outside of their roles played in the Temple ceremony. Can Syed point to any document showing that a priest, or priestess, was addressed by the name of a god in every day life? Syed has so far utterly failed to do so. The Haman of the Quran was clearly not in the middle of a Temple role playing ceremony. The Haman of the Qur’an is depicted as being in the court of the Pharaoh, usually in a meeting of the council of the Pharaoh.

Syed continues by snipping a quote from Professor Jaroslav Cerny’s “Ancient Egyptian Religion” [Hutchinson’s University Library, London, 1952, page 100]:

  1. “After the end of the Old Kingdom a vast wave of democratization passed through Egyptian religious and funerary ideas and conceptions, and all those privileges which had formerly been the prerogative of the King were now transferred to other mortals, every dead person was now identified with Osiris, and his son or any officiant performing the rites in his stead was regarded as Horus.”

However, once again, there is no evidence presented that the officiant, while regarded as Horus, was called Horus during, or after, performing these religious duties.

Syed triumphantly concludes:

  1. It should be borne in mind that just as Pharaoh was the generic name of the kings of ancient Egypt but not the proper name of any particular king, so Amon or Haman was the generic title of the high priests when personating the god Amon. (Italics emphasis mine)

NONE of the references cited by Syed makes Amon equal to Haman. None of the references cited by Syed claim that the priest was actually called Amon – either during or after the religious ceremonies. In particular, we still do not have even one reference documenting the name or title “Haman” for any human being in Egyptian history. Syed’s conclusion is based on mere wishful thinking without any basis in the references he cited.

He then continues with this section heading:

Sacerdotal and Political Status of Haman (Amon)

In this section, Syed attempts to link the High Priests of Amon to the time of Moses, Pharaoh and the Exodus but fails to mention the time period that his quotations refer to. The High Priests of Amon wielded immense power and influence in Egypt from 1080 B.C. to 943 B.C.  Most Muslim apologists date the Exodus story, and Haman, to the time of Ramesses II or Merneptah – who reigned from 1279-1213 B.C. and 1213-1203 B.C. respectively – over two centuries before the rise of these High Priests! Incidentally, none of these Priests had a name that is even remotely close to the name Haman.

Please notice how Syed once again claims (in the section title) that Amon = Haman, a connection that none of the sources cited in this paper makes.

The identity of Haman having been established, it is appropriate to examine what independent and impartial authorities have stated as to his status, titles, and functions which substantiates his description in the Qur’an. That Amon (or Haman) was a very powerful and influential god whose high priest, personating him as indicated above, wielded great power will be clear from a perusal of the following extracts from the works of world famous historians and archaeologists:—

Syed never “established” the identity of Haman. He continues with his first source in this section, A history of Egypt: from the earliest times to the Persian conquest by James Henry Breasted:

  1. “He was regarded by the people as their great protector and no higher praise could be preferred to Amon when addressed by a worshipper that to call him ‘the Poor man’s vizier’ who does not accept the bribe of the guilty”.
  2. “The High Priest (of Amon) appears as “Viceroy of Kush” Already … Amon had gained possession of the Nubian gold-country; the High Priest has now gone a step further and seized the whole of the great province of the Upper Nile. The same inscription calls him also ‘Overseer of the double granary,’ who … was the most important fiscal officer in the State, next to the chief treasurer himself. There is now nothing left in the way of authority and power for the High Priest to absorb; he is commander of all the armies, viceroy of Kush, holds the treasury in his hands, and executes the buildings of the gods”.

This passage refers to the High Priest of Amon. There are a number of problems with Syed’s use of this source:

  1. Nowhere in this does Breasted call Amon Haman. Haman is not mentioned in the entire book.
  2. Breasted does not say that the High Priest of Amon was called Amon, let alone Haman.
  3. In fact, Breasted gives the names of several High Priests of Amon: Hrihor (page 513), Ramsesnakht (page 508), Hapuseneb (page 272), and Yewepet (page 531).
  4. Syed leaves out a very important section of Breasted’s text which destroys the argument that he is attempting to make:

A letter written to his Nubian viceroy in the seventeenth year show that he still retained some voice there up to the time at least; but the door (Fig. 183), bearing the two reliefs just mentioned, show him deprived of his authority there also, for it bears an inscription of Hrihor, still dated under Ramses XII (the year is unfortunately broken out), in which the High Priest appears as “viceroy of Kush.” Already at the close of the Nineteenth Dynasty we recall that Amon had gained possession of the Nubian gold-country; the High Priest has now gone a step further and seized the whole of the great province of the Upper Nile.

Reading Breasted’s quote in the context in which it was written, it is obvious, from the Priest’s connection to Ramesses XII, that these events occurred after the Exodus. Ramesses II reigned from 1279-1213 BC and Merneptah from 1213-1203BC. Hrihor was proclaimed as the first ruling High Priest of Amun in 1080 B.C. under Ramesses XI. The 19th Dynasty “closed” around the 1190’s BC, nearly a century before these Priests came to power in the Upper Nile – which is now northern Sudan.

Syed’s next selection is from Georg Steindorff’s The Religion of the Ancient Egyptians:

  1. “Thus the ‘first Prophet’ of the high priest of Amon, was at the same time the ‘Great Superintendent of Works’ and in this capacity was required to take under his charge the extensive building operations connected with the temple, and ‘to provide splendor in his sanctuary’. …

As with the other works cited by Syed, Steindorff makes no connection between Amon and Haman. He also does not claim that the high priests were addressed as Amon and, as in the case of Breasted’s book, omits portions of the reference which destroy his argument.

Steindorff discusses a Priest of Amon at Thebes who lived during the reign of Ramesses II named Bekenkhons (page 97). Bekenkhons left us with an extensive autobiography which begins with his training, as a youth, in the military stables of the King. At age 16, he became a “simple Priest” who worked his way up in the priestly ranks in Thebes. He makes no mention of building anything.

Also notice that this reference tells us that the high priest was in charge of the building operations of the temple but no mention is made that he was also responsible for the building operations of the state. Moreover, would the construction of a lofty tower really be his responsibility, or rather the responsibility of military engineers?

Syed ends this section with a quotation from Sir Flinders Petrie’s Religious Life in Ancient Egypt, which ends:

“… There was practically no independent king after Ramessu III the rest of the family were increasingly in the hands of a dominant hereditary priesthood, which was the wealthiest in the land.”

Once again, we have a chronic chronology problem. Ramesses III came after Ramesses II – reigning from 1186-1155 BC. Is Syed suggesting that the Exodus took place after the reign of Ramesses III?

If this is the case, then we have a new set of problems. The Quran clearly depicts Pharaoh as the absolute ruler of Egypt who gives commands to Haman. Pharaoh is clearly the ruler of the land of Egypt according to the Qur’anic account, not Haman. So, Syed’s appeal to the status of the high priests of Amun later in Egyptian history is completely irrelevant to this discussion for two reasons:

First, because the rise of the high priests of Amun occured far too late in Egyptian history to be connected to the Exodus.

Second, the status accorded to the high priests of Amun contradicts the relationship between Haman and the Pharaoh as depicted in the Qur’an.

 

Creed of the Ladder to the Sky

After failing to establish the historicity of Muhammad’s Qur’anic tale of Haman, Syed now turns to the issue of Pharaoh commanding Haman to build a “lofty” tower so that he could see if Allah existed. Syed claims – and “Islamic Awareness” echoes – that:

The idea of the Pharaoh going up the ladder to reach the sky to see the God of Moses, is in consonance with the mythology of ancient Egypt. “The ladder leading to the sky was originally an element of the Solar faith.”

This quote comes from Professor Breasted’s Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt. So, is Muhammad’s tale of Pharaoh’s lofty tower really in consonance with [sound like] the mythology of ancient Egypt, or is Muhammad’s tale nothing more than partial plagiarism of the story of the Tower of Babel found in Genesis?

When this passage from Professor Breasted is read in context, we find that it is in no way consonant with the Qur’an.

In the Qur’anic tale, a living Pharaoh orders Haman to build a lofty tower so that he can see God.

According to Breasted, the dead King – after being purified – is called to a staircase, not a tower, to ascend to the god. The King did not build this staircase, nor did he order the staircase to be built – as did the Pharaoh of the Qur’an.

Muhammad’s Qur’an tells us in Sura 28:38:

Pharaoh said: “O Chiefs! no god do I know for you but myself: therefore, O Haman! light me a (kiln to bake bricks) out of clay, and build me a lofty palace, that I may mount up to the god of Moses: but as far as I am concerned, I think (Moses) is a liar!”

While Genesis 11:3-4 states:

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

Clearly the Qur’an’s tale is far more consonant with the story of the Tower of Babel, found in Genesis, than ancient Egyptian religion.

Syed continues:

“The desire to ascend to the gods in the sky” was an article of ancient Egyptian religion.

This quote comes from Sir Flinders Petrie’s Religious Life in Ancient Egypt, which says [pages on 208-209]:

The sky-goddess, Nut, was besought to guard the dead that came to her. The desire to ascend to the gods in the sky was expressed by wanting the ladder to go up, an image naturally adopted by a people accustomed to go up ladders to their homes …

Clearly, this has nothing to do with the Qur’an’s tale of a living Pharaoh [instead of a dead person] ordering his subjects to build a tower [instead of the gods providing a ladder for the dead] so that he can see the God of Moses [rather than the gods of ancient Egypt].

Syed now shifts gears:

A critical reader would naturally ask the questions: Were mud bricks made and burnt in Egypt in those remote times? It is a well-known fact, borne out by archaeological research, that mud bricks and baked brick were manufactured in those remotes ages in Egypt and Babylon.

A critical reader would first notice that Syed is attempting to link ancient Babylon, where people did make burnt bricks, with ancient Egypt, where people made mud bricks that were dried in the sun. With only a few minor exceptions kiln baked bricks did not appear in Egypt until the Roman era – long after the events supposedly described in the Qur’an. The Egyptians knew about kilns and banking bricks, however fuel was far too scarce, and therefore expensive, to use in monumental architecture.

Syed now attempts to insert his agenda in the Book of Exodus:

When Moses accompanied by Aaron (Harun) confronted the Pharaoh with the divine message, he (the Pharaoh) dismissed them with the sharp phrase – “Get you unto you burdens” implying thereby that “they ought to be at work at the kilns or in the brick fields.”

This quote comes from George Rawlinson’s Moses: His Life and Times which was published in 1887, not exactly a reference to the most recent scholarship.

The main problem here is that the Biblical passage in Exodus, to which Syed refers, says absolutely nothing about kilns.

 

Conclusion

Sher Mohammad Syed has attempted in this paper to established the historicity of the Qur’an’s tale of a man named Haman, who supposedly served in the Court of Pharaoh during the Hebrew captivity in Egypt. Instead of looking for archeological or historical evidence to support the existence of the Qur’an’s Haman, Syed “quote-mines” a number of books and applies some semantic “slight of hand”. For examply, he attempts to morph Amun into Haman by appealing to the Carthagian deity Ba’al-Hamon in spite of the fact that Carthage was founded some 400 years after the Exodus! Syed also throws in a number of other issues, such as the Creed of the Ladder to the Sky and the issue of kiln-baked bricks, in order to bolster the historicity of the Qur’anic account.

Muslims have spent a great amount of time, and have spilled much ink attempting to establish the possibility that a man named Haman, or something close to the name Haman, existed at some time over the many centuries of Egyptian history. However, finding such a man [which Muslims have thus far failed to accomplish] would not solve the problem. The Bible mentions a man named Haman, who was a Persian noble and vizier of the Persian King Ahasuerus. According to the Qur’an, Haman was an adviser and builder for the Pharaoh of ancient Egypt during the time of Moses. In spite of the living in different countries at different times, both the Biblical and Qur’anic Hamans follow a very similar narrative. In both the Bible and the Qur’an, Haman is an evil character who plans to destroy the children of Israel. Haman built a tall structure – a gallows in the Bible [Esther 5:14], and a tower in the Qur’an [Surah 40:36].

Adding to this problem are Islamic historical accounts which also suggest parallels between the Biblical Haman of Persia and the Qur’anic Haman of Egypt. For example, Ibn Ishaq related that Moses was waiting at Pharaoh’s gate saying “something strange” according to The History of al-Tabari, vol. III, (page 54), just as Mordecai waited outside of the King’s gate in Esther 2:19-21 and in chapter 3, where Mordecai refused to bow to Haman.

The structure which Pharaoh commands the Qur’anic Haman to build is not what the Haman of the Bible built [gallows] but was strikingly similar to the Tower of Babel described in Genesis. Both structures were made from burnt bricks for the purpose of ascending to the heavens – in spite of the fact that fired bricks were not commonly used in ancient Egypt. According to the Qur’an, Phraraoh ordered Haman to bake bricks to build a lofty tower in order that he may see God. This sounds very similar to the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. The building of Pharaoh’s lofty tower in the Qur’an was an attempt of defiance towards both Moses and his God. Likewise, according to Josephus [Antiquities I 4, § 2] the Tower of Babel was an act of defiance against Abraham and his God. According to Tabari [Volume III, page 54], when Pharaoh’s lofty tower was completed, he [Pharaoh] climbed to the top and shot an arrow towards heaven. This arrow came back covered with blood. The Sefer ha-Yashar also mentions a similar incident, only in the story of the Tower of Babel.

The Qur’anic tale of Haman also throws in a man named Korah [Qarun] for good measure. Korah was, apparently, a wealthy Israelite who opposed Moses [Surah 28:76]. However, according to the Bible, Korah was the son of Izhar, and the great-grandson of Levi [Exodus 6:21, Numbers 16:1-33].

The Qur’an tells us in Surah 28:76:

Qarun was doubtless, of the people of Moses; but he acted insolently towards them: such were the treasures We had bestowed on him that their very keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men, behold, his people said to him: “Exult not, for God loveth not those who exult (in riches).

The Qur’an’s account of Korah is somewhat similar to the Talmud’s account in Sanhedrin [110a]:

“Rabbi Levi said: The keys of Korah’s treasure house were a load for three hundred white mules, though all the keys and locks were of leather.”

Pesachim [119a]:

“… such were the treasures We had bestowed on him, that their very keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men.”

Moreover, a very distinctive aspect is the death of Korah: He was swallowed up by the earth [Numbers 16:28-33] just as Qarun was swallowed by the earth [Surah 28:81]. For a detailed discussion on Korah see the article The Anatomy of the Qur’an’s Mistakes.

In the final analysis, Syed has not proven the existence of the Qur’an’s Haman. In fact, based on the sources that he cited, even the possibility of the existence of a Haman – at any point of time in Egyptian history – cannot be established. Clearly, Muhammad borrowed the character of the wicked Haman from the Book of Esther. Syed’s attack on the historicity of this book does not bolster his claims for the Qur’an. After all, the Book of Esther contains history’s first account of an evil man named Haman, who sought to destroy the Children of Israel. If this book is untrue, then Muhammad borrowed a character who not only did not exist in ancient Persian [or Egypt], but probably never existed at all!

Muslims desperately desire to cling to the fantasy that the Qur’an is a pure revelation that does not borrow from, what Muslims believe are, the “corrupted” Scriptures of the Jews and Christians. It is undeniable to any open-minded reader that the Qur’an’s tale of Haman and Pharaoh mixes together a number of Biblical themes from the Book of Esther, Genesis, and Exodus. All of the main elements of the Qur’anic narrative are contained within the Old Testament. The circumstantial evidence strongly supports the theory that Muhammad concocted his little tale based on several different stories from the Bible. The corroborating evidence is the numerous verses in the Qur’an where Muhammad is accused of reciting “tales of the ancients”. Neither Muhammad, nor Sher Mohammad Syed provide any evidence to defend these alleged “revelations” from the accusation!

Ashurbanipal the Mighty King

Image result for ashurbanipal the great amaic wordpress

 

Part One:

Questions in need of new answers

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

Is Ashurbanipal mentioned in the Bible?

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

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

 

Introduction

 

Is Ashurbanipal mentioned in the Bible?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

For example:

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Comparing Ashurbanipal and

Nebuchednezzar II (= Nabonidus)

 

 

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

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

 

 

Introduction.

 

I wrote the above in my recent:

 

Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus

 

https://www.academia.edu/33397389/Ashurbanipal_and_Nabonidus?auto=download&campaign=upload_email

 

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

And Ashurbanipal also had a lions’ den.

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

 

Ashurbanipal viewed

in a new perspective

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

Jewish Encyclopedia

 

 

 

Answering the questions posed

 

“Nebuchadnezzar”, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia’s E. Hirsch, I. Price, W. Bacher and Louis Ginzberg (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/11407-nebuchadnezzar) was the “son of Nabopolassar; became king of Babylon in 604 B.C. as Assyria was on the decline; died 561. His name, either in this spelling or in the more correct form, Nebuchadrezzar (from the original, “Nabu-kudurri-uṣur” = “Nebo, defend my boundary”), is found more than ninety times in the Old Testament”.

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

 

Is Ashurbanipal mentioned in the Bible?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

especially given my further identification of this Nebuchednezzar with Nabonidus.  

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The answer to which I had also anticipated:

 

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

thereby continuing our radical revision of the Egyptian dynasties.

 

But that is not all with pharaonic ‘duplicates’.

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

And so we read (http://www.ancient.eu/Ashurbanipal/):

 

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

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

Whilst, in the case of Nebuchednezzar and his Psammetichus, so-called II, relations are generally portrayed as having been peaceful, Dan’el Kahn (University of Haifa) gives this rather different assessment of it in his article, “The Foreign Policy of Psammetichus II in the Levant”: https://www.academia.edu/235567/The_Foreign_Policy_of_Psammetichus_II_in_the_Levant

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

1.Babylonia and the Levant

 

The Extent and Success of the Babylonian Campaigns to the Levant 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[End of quote]

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

 

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

 

seemingly an insurmountable problem considering the length of his reign, must now also take into account that Esarhaddon had overcome king Manasseh of Judah (https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/esarhaddon):

 

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

[End of quote]

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

[End of quote]

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Since writing all of this, I have come to the conclusion – formerly quite unexpected – that Esarhaddon, the supposed father of Ashurbanipal, also has to be Nebuchednezzar II:

Esarhaddon a tolerable fit for King Nebuchednezzar

https://www.academia.edu/37519086/Esarhaddon_a_tolerable_fit_for_King_Nebuchednezzar