Plato’s debt to the Hebrews

Image result for plato

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

The writings of “Plato”, whoever he may have been, were undoubtedly influenced

by Hebrew wisdom. Here we consider some likenesses to the Book of Job,

for instance, before passing on to the Book of Daniel.

 

Introduction

 

To presume to translocate so-called ‘Greek’ philosophy, to Babylonia, or to Egypt, or to Palestine, are moves that are probably not going to go down well with many. A reader immediately responded to an early effort of mine along these lines (e-mail of 25 March 2010):

 

…. I have not had much of an introduction before to your other theses on the identities of various historical personages. I must admit to being somewhat sceptical of the Plato theory. I think you would need more than a few parallelisms to make such a case. I think the historical evidence would be in favor of the fact that Plato and Aristotle were living breathing Greeks, the latter being Alexander’s tutor in Macedonia ….

 

In an article written at this time I had supported:

 

(i) St. Clement of Alexandria’s view that Plato’s writings took their inspiration from the Hebrew Moses, and

(ii) St. Ambrose’s belief that Plato had learned from the prophet Jeremiah in Egypt; a belief that was initially taken up by St. Augustine, who added that

(iii) Greek philosophy generally derived from the Jewish Scriptures.

 

And, though St. Augustine later retracted his acceptance of St. Ambrose’s view, realising that it was chronologically impossible for Jeremiah (c. 600 BC) to have met Plato anywhere, considering the c. 400 BC date customarily assigned to Plato, I had, on the other hand, looked to turn this around by challenging the conventional dates, and by proposing an identification of the original Plato as Baruch, a Jew, the young priest-scribe contemporaneous with Jeremiah.

This reconstruction – which I have not been able properly to develop – would have, if it had proved legitimate, enabled me to take the testimony of the Fathers a positive step further. From the Book of Jeremiah we learned that Jeremiah and Baruch went together to Egypt.

Whilst it does not appear to be likely that we may tie together Daniel and Baruch (I have thought about it), the one whom we know as “Plato” – a ‘composite’ character, anyway, according to my estimation – may have both Daniel and Baruch likenesses and aspects.

 

Baruch, after all, is sometimes considered to have been another great sage of antiquity, Zoroaster.

 

 

Later I learned that St. Justin Martyr had, even earlier than the above-mentioned Church Fathers, espoused this view of the Greek philosophers borrowing from the biblical Hebrews. And Justin Martyr too, had, like Plato, written an Apology, in Justin’s case also apparently (like Plato) in regard to a martyrdom.

Thus we read (http://beityahuwah.blogspot.com/2005/08/plato-stole-his-ideas-from-):

 

Plato Stole his ideas from Moses: True or False ….

 

The belief that the philosophers of Greece, including Plato and Aristotle, plagiarized certain of their teaching from Moses and the Hebrew prophets is an argument used by Christian Apologists of Gentile background who lived in the first four centuries of Christians. Three key figures who presented this thesis are Justin Martyr “The most important second­ century apologist” {50. Grant 1973}, Titus Flavius Clemens known as Clement of Alexandria “the illustrious head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria at the close of the second century, was originally a pagan philosopher” (11, Robert 1857) and is renowned as being possibly the teacher of Origen. He was born either in Alexandria or Athens {Epiphs Haer, xxii.6}. Our final giant who supports this thesis is Eusebius of Caesarea known as the father of Church history. Each of these in their defense of the Christian faith presented some form of the thesis that the philosophers of Greece learned from the prophets of Israel. Our interest in this paper is on the arguments of the earliest of these writers, Justin Martyr. He represents the position of Christian apology in the middle of the second century, as opposed to the later Clement of Alexandria and the even later Eusebius of Caesarea.

In light of the stature and the credibility of these three Church Fathers even if the idea that Plato learned from Moses seems far fetched we would do well to take a closer look at the argument and the evidence presented by such men of stature. Justin was a philosopher who came from a pagan background. He issued from Shechem in Palestine. He was a marvelous scholar in his own right well read and well qualified to make informed judgments in the arena of philosophy.

Our purpose is to briefly look at the theses presented by Justin Martyr and to try to discern the plausibility of the thesis.

 

Justin Martyr and the line Plato took from Moses.

 

Justin Martyr was a prolific second century Apologist. He was born in Flavia Neapolis (Shechem) in Samaria. Well known for the local Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim and a temple built by Hadrian to Zeus Hypsistos. He later passed through Stoicism and the way of Aristotle’s disciples the Peripatetics and was rejected as unqualified to study Pythagoreanism and finally he met a Platonist with whom he advanced in his studies. To him the goal of Platonism was “the vision of God”. One day he met a Christian on the beach and was converted to the faith. He did not become a priest or bishop but took to teaching and defending the faith.

 

Text

He wrote many works and many more bear his name. However modern scholarship has judged that of the many works that bear his name only three are considered genuine. These are 2 Apologies and the Dialogue with the Jew Trypho. They are preserved in one manuscript of the year 1364 (Cod Par, gr. 450).

 

Language

Justin wrote in Greek, and right in the middle of the period of philosophy called Middle Platonism. The book in which he outlines his thesis that Moses and the prophets were a source for the Greek Philosophers is his first Apology. It is dated to 155-157 BC [sic] and was addressed to “The Emperor Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antonius Pius Caesar Augustus, and the sons Verissimus, philosopher, philosopher, and Lucius” Grant (52, 1973).

 

Context

Grant (1973) believes the reason which triggered the Apology was the martyrdom of Polycarp in 156 AD and the injustice of it during the bishopric of Anicetus. Even as this martyrdom and its report may have spurred Justin on to write so it had been that it was on seeing the fortitude of the Christian martyrs which had disposed him favorably towards the faith (Ap 2.12.1). ….

In the Apology 1 Justin gives the reason for his writing

 

“I, Justin, the son of Priscus and grandson of Bacchius, natives of Flavia Neapolis in Palestine, present this address and petition on behalf of those of all nations who are unjustly hated and wantonly abused; my self being one of them” (Apology 1 chap).

 

The Apology 1 is divided into 60 chapters. The translation we are using is that of the Ante Nicene Fathers and can be seen at www.ccel.org The topics covered are many. He starts in chapter 2 by demanding justice, he requires that before the Christians are condemned they should be given a fair trial to see if they have committed any crimes or not. They should not be condemned merely for being Christian. He covers many subjects including: the accusation Christians were Atheists, faith in God; the Kingdom of Christ; God’s service; demonic teachings; Christ’s teachings and heathen analogies to it; non Christian worship; magic; exposing children, the Hebrew prophets and their prophecies about Christ, types of prophetic words from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This brings us to about chapter 38. At this point Justin begins to cover the issue of determinism and free will. He argues that although the future was prophesied it does not mean every thing is determined according to fate and man has no responsibility for he has no choice. Rather he points to Moses revealing God’s choice to Adam “Behold before thy face are good and evil: choose the good”. (Apol 1 44) And he quotes lsaiah’s appeal to Israel to wash and be clean and the consequences of doing so or not doing so. The consequences of disobedience are that the sword would devour Israel. Justin picks up on the statement regarding the sword and argues that it is not a literal sword which is referred to but “the sword of God is a fire, of which those who choose to do wickedly will become the fuel” (Apol 1 44). Justin having appealed to Moses and Isaiah as a warning to the Roman rulers now appeals to one with whom they are more familiar, Plato the philosopher, to support his case that man is free to choose good or evil. It is here that Justin makes a most interesting and intriguing statement rallying Plato to the side of Moses and Isaiah, in the eyes of the sons of the Emperor whom he calls philosophers.

 

And so, too, Plato, when he says, “The blame is his who chooses, and God is blameless” took this from the prophet Moses and uttered it.

For Moses is more ancient than all the Greek writers. And whatever both philosophers and poets have said concerning the immortality of the soul, or punishments after death, or contemplation of things heavenly, or doctrines of the like kind, they have received such suggestions from the prophets as have enabled them to understand and interpret these things. And hence there seem to be seeds of truth among all men; but they are charged with not accurately understanding [the truth] when they assert contradictories.

….

He appears to be making the claim that Plato who has “exerted a greater influence over human thought than any other individual with the possible exception of Aristotle” (Demos, 1927.vi} was dependent for his understanding of freewill and responsibility on Moses. The saying “the blame is his who chooses, and God is blameless (Aitia helomenou Theos d’ anaios) {Joann. Mdcccxlii,224}” was taken from Moses by Plato and uttered it {eipe}”.

[End of quotes]

 

I shall continue with this commentary later in this series, when I come to discuss one of Plato’s famous Myths.

 

Plato and Likely Borrowings

from the Book of Job

 

There can be a similarity in thought between Plato and the Jewish sages, but not always a similarity in tone. Compared with the intense atmosphere of the drama of the Book of Job, for instance, Plato’s Republic, and his other dialogues, such as the Protagoras, brilliant as they are, come across sometimes as a bit like a gentlemen’s discussion over a glass of port.

Guthrie may have captured something of this general tone in his Introduction to Plato. Protagoras and Meno (Penguin, 1968), when he wrote (p. 20):

 

… a feature of the conversation which cannot fail to strike a reader is its unbroken urbanity and good temper. The keynote is courtesy and forbearance, though these are not always forthcoming without a struggle. Socrates is constantly on the alert for the signs of displeasure on the part of Protagoras, and when he detects them, is careful not to press his point, and the dialogue ends with mutual expressions of esteem. ….

 

[End of quote]

 

Compare this gentlemanly tone with e.g. Job’s ‘How long will you torment me, and break me in pieces with words? These ten times you have cast reproach upon me; are you not ashamed to wrong me?’ (19:1-3), and Eliphaz’s accusations of the holy man: ‘Is not your wickedness great? There is no end to your iniquities [which supposed types of injustice on the part of Job Eliphaz then proceeds to itemise]’ (22:5).

In Plato’s dialogues, by contrast, we get pages and pages of the following sort of amicable discussion taken from the Republic (Bk. 2, 368-369):

 

[Socrates] ‘Justice can be a characteristic of an individual or of a community, can it not?’

[Adeimantus] ‘Yes’.

[Socrates] ‘And a community is larger than an individual?’

[Adeimantus] ‘It is”.

[Socrates] ‘We may therefore find that the amount of justice in the larger entity is greater, and so easier to recognize. I accordingly propose that we start our enquiry …’.

[Adeimantus] ‘That seems a good idea’, he agreed.

….

 

Though Protagoras is a famous Sophist, whose maxim “Man is the measure of all things, of those that are that they are, and of those that are not that they are not” (Plato’s Theaetetus 152), I have often quoted in a philosophical context {– and also in my article}:

 

The Futile Aspiration to Make ‘Man the Measure of All Things’

https://www.academia.edu/8494268/The_Futile_Aspiration_to_Make_Man_the_Measure_of_All_Things_

 

this Protagoras may actually be based upon – according to my new estimation of things – the elderly Eliphaz of the Book of Job. Whilst Eliphaz was by no means a Sophist along the Greek lines, he was, like Protagoras with Socrates, largely opposed to his opponent’s point of view. And so, whilst the God-fearing Eliphaz would never have uttered anything so radical or atheistic as “man is the measure of all things”, he was however opposed to the very Job who had, in his discussion of wisdom, spoken of God as ‘apportioning out by measure’ all the things that He had created (Job 28:12, 13, 25).

Now, whilst Protagoras would be but a pale ghost of the biblical Eliphaz, some of the original (as I suspect) lustre does still manage to shine through – as with Protagoras’s claim that knowledge or wisdom was the highest thing in life (Protagoras 352C, D) (cf. Eliphaz in Job 22:1-2). And Guthrie adds that Protagoras “would repudiate as scornfully as Socrates the almost bestial type of hedonism advocated by Callicles, who says that what nature means by fair and right is for the strong man to let his desires grow as big as possible and have the means of everlastingly satisfying them” (op. cit., p. 22).

Eliphaz was later re-invented (I think) as Protagoras the Sophist from Abdera, as a perfect foil to Socrates (with Job’s other friends also perhaps emerging in the Greek versions re-cast as Sophists). Protagoras stated that, somewhat like Eliphaz, he was old enough to be the father of any of them. “Indeed I am getting on in life now – so far as age goes I might be the father of any one of you …” (Protagoras 317 C). That Eliphaz was old is indicated by the fact that he was the first to address Job and that he also refered to men older than Job’s father (Job 15:10). Now, just as Fr. R. MacKenzie (S.J.) in his commentary on “Job”, in The Jerome Biblical Commentary, tells of Eliphaz’s esteem for, and courtesy towards, Job (31:23):

 

Eliphaz is presumably the oldest of the three and therefore the wisest; he is certainly the most courteous and the most eloquent. He has a genuine esteem for Job and is deeply sorry for him. He knows the advice to give him, the wisdom that lays down what he must do to receive relief from his sufferings.

[End of quote],

 

so does Guthrie, reciprocally (I suggest), say: “Protagoras – whom [Socrates] regards with genuine admiration and liking” (op. cit., p. 22).

But, again, just as the righteous Job had scandalised his friends by his levity, according to St. Thomas Aquinas (“Literal Exposition on Job”, 42:1-10), “And here one should consider that Elihu had sinned out of inexperience whereas Job had sinned out of levity, and so neither of them had sinned gravely”, so does Guthrie use this very same word, “levity”, in the context of an apparent flaw in the character of Socrates (ibid., p. 18):

 

There is one feature of the Protagoras which cannot fail to puzzle, if not exasperate, a reader: the behaviour of Socrates. At times he treats the discussion with such levity, and at other times with such unscrupulousness, that Wilamowitz felt bound to conclude that the dialogue could only have been written in his lifetime. This, he wrote, is the human being whom Plato knew; only after he had suffered a martyr’s death did the need assert itself to idealize his character.

[End of quote]

 

Job’s tendency towards levity had apparently survived right down into the Greek era. Admittedly, the Greek version does get much nastier in the case of Thrasymachus, and even more so with Callicles in the Gorgias, but in the Republic at least it never rises to the dramatic pitch of Job’s dialogues with his three friends. Here is that least friendly of the debaters, Thrasymachus, at his nastiest (Republic, Bk. I, 341):

 

[Socrates] Well, said I, ‘so you think I’m malicious, do you Thrasymachus?’

[Thrasymachus] ‘I certainly do’.

[Socrates] ‘You think my questions were deliberately framed to distort your argument?’

[Thrasymachus] ‘I know perfectly well they were. But they won’t get you anywhere; you can’t fool me, and if you don’t you won’t be able to crush me in argument’.

[Socrates] ‘My dear chap, I wouldn’t dream of trying’, I said ….

 

Socrates and Plato are similarly (like the Sophists) watered down entities by comparison with the Middle Eastern originals. Such is how the Hebrew Scriptures end up when filtered through the Greeks, [and, in the case of Plato, perhaps through the Egyptians and Babylonians before the Greeks, hence a double filtering]. Even then, it is doubtful whether the finely filtered version of Plato that we now have could have been written by pagan Greeks. At least some of it seems to belong clearly to the Christian era, e.g. “The just man … will be scourged, tortured, and imprisoned … and after enduring every humiliation he will be crucified” (Republic, Bk. 2, 362).

I submit that this statement would not likely have been written prior to the Gospels.

 

“Plato and Porphyry each made certain statements which might have brought them both to become Christians if they had exchanged them with one another”, wrote St. Augustine (City of God, XXII, 27).

 

What is clear is that the writings of Plato as we now have them had reached an impressive level of excellence and unparalleled literary sophistication.

Thus we read in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Macmillan and Free Press, 1967, V. 6), article “Plato” (p. 332):

 

Plato As a Writer

 

Greek prose reached its highest peak in the writings of Plato. His flexibility, his rich vocabulary, his easy colloquialism, and his high rhetoric, his humor, irony, pathos, gravity, bluntness, delicacy and occasional ferocity, his mastery of metaphor, simile and myth, his swift delineation of character – his combination of these and other qualities put him beyond rivalry. …

[End of quote]

 

Much may be owed here, however, to the Hebrew books, such as Job, which appears to have exerted a heavy influence upon Greek literature. See for example my series:

 

Similarities to The Odyssey of the Books of Job and Tobit

https://www.academia.edu/8494268/The_Futile_Aspiration_to_Make_Man_the_Measure_of_All_Things_

and:

 

https://www.academia.edu/36181776/Similarities_to_The_Odyssey_of_the_Books_of_Job_and_Tobit._Part_Two_Tobits_Dog_and_Argus_in_Homer

An early glimpse of Nebuchednezzar II?

Image result for crown prince nebuchadnezzar

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

“Nebuchadnezzar, the “wicked one” (“ha-rasha'”; Meg. 11a; Ḥag. 13b; Pes. 118a), was a … son-in-law of Sennacherib (Targ. to Isa. x. 32; Lam. R., Introduction, 23, says “a grandson”), with whom he took part in the expedition of the Assyrians against Hezekiah, being one of the few who were not destroyed by the angels before Jerusalem (Sanh. 95b)”.

 

According to the standard interpretation of history one would hardly expect the young Nebuchednezzar, who began to reign in 605 BC (conventional dating) to have been involved in the ill-fated final campaign of Sennacherib (d. 681 BC, conventional dating), when Israel’s heroine Judith brought the massive Assyrian army to a shuddering halt at ‘Bethulia’ (Shechem). See e.g. my article:

 

“Nadin” (Nadab) of Tobit is the “Holofernes” of Judith

 

https://www.academia.edu/people/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=mackey+nadin+%28nadab%29

 

In the less standard interpretation of events (e.g. my revision) this situation, a Jewish tradition, becomes quite possible, however. For, according to my reinterpretation of how things were, Nebuchednezzar II was the same person as Esarhaddon, the successor of – and thought to have been the son of – Sennacherib. See e.g. my recent series:

 

Esarhaddon a tolerable fit for King Nebuchednezzar

 

https://www.academia.edu/38017900/Esarhaddon_a_tolerable_fit_for_King_Nebuchednezzar

 

Esarhaddon a tolerable fit for King Nebuchednezzar. Part Two: Another writer has picked up this possible connection

 

https://www.academia.edu/37525605/Esarhaddon_a_tolerable_fit_for_King_Nebuchednezzar._Part_Two_Another_writer_has_picked_up_this_possible_connection

 

Turning now to the Jewish traditions, or legends, we learn two interesting things about Nebuchednezzar, the second of which is his alleged involvement in Sennacherib’s campaign. About the first, that Nebuchednezzar was a descendant of the Queen of Sheba, I have nothing further to add at present: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/11407-nebuchadnezzar

 

….

—In Rabbinical Literature:

Nebuchadnezzar, the “wicked one” (“ha-rasha'”; Meg. 11a; Ḥag. 13b; Pes. 118a), was a son—or descendant?—of the Queen of Sheba by her marriage with Solomon (“Alphabet Ben Sira,” ed. Venice, 21b; comp. Brüll’s “Jahrb.” ix. 9), and a son-in-law of Sennacherib (Targ. to Isa. x. 32; Lam. R., Introduction, 23, says “a grandson”), with whom he took part in the expedition of the Assyrians against Hezekiah, being one of the few who were not destroyed by the angels before Jerusalem (Sanh. 95b). He came to the throne in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim of Judah, whom he subjugated and, seven years later, killed after that king had rebelled. Nebuchadnezzar did not on this occasion go to Jerusalem, but received the Great Sanhedrin of Jerusalem at Daphne, a suburb of Antioch, informing that body that it was not his intention to destroy the Temple, but that the rebellious Jehoiakim must be delivered to him, which in fact was done (Seder ‘Olam R. xxv.; Midr. ‘Eser Galuyyot, ed. Grünhut, “Sefer ha-Liḳḳuṭim,” iii.; Lev. R. xix.; comp. Jehoiakim in Rabbinical Literature). ….

[End of quote]

 

That would mean that Esarhaddon was involved

 

 

 

“… Esarhaddon … attacked Egypt, when, as the Babylonian chronicle tells us,

‘the troops of Assyria went to Egypt: they fled before a great storm’.”

 

 

 

If the young Nebuchednezzar really had been involved in Sennacherib’s ill-fated campaign – as according to various Jewish traditions – then Esarhaddon, his alter ego as I have suggested:

 

Esarhaddon a tolerable fit for King Nebuchednezzar

 

https://www.academia.edu/38017900/Esarhaddon_a_tolerable_fit_for_King_Nebuchednezzar

 

must have been involved in that very campaign.

And that brings me right back to my university thesis:

 

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background

 

AMAIC_Final_Thesis_2009.pdf

 

wherein I had presented Esarhaddon as a central figure in the Sennacherib drama, which I identified as the drama of the Book of Judith.

In that thesis I had identified Esarhaddon – wrongly as I now believe – as the “Holofernes” of the Book of Judith. In more recent times I have corrected this view, making Esarhaddon’s oldest brother, Ashur-nadin-shumi, the tragic “Holofernes”. See e.g. my article:

 

“Nadin” (Nadab) of Tobit is the “Holofernes” of Judith

 

https://www.academia.edu/people/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=mackey+nadin+%28nadab%29

 

Part of my reason earlier for equating Esarhaddon with “Holofernes” had been the fact that Esarhaddon’s army had fled during a campaign to Egypt. Now the disastrous Assyrian campaign as narrated in the Book of Judith had as its ultimate goal Egypt. Thus (Judith 1:12): “[The King of Assyria] vowed that he would put to death the entire population of Cilicia, Damascus, Syria, Moab, Ammon, Judah, and Egypt—everyone from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf”.

 

This is how I had attempted to interweave Esarhaddon into the disastrous Sennacherib campaign (= Judith drama) in my thesis (Volume One, pp. 168-170):

….

With Esarhaddon generally considered to have been a younger son of Sennacherib, the eldest being Ashur-nadin-shumi whom Sennacherib made Viceroy of Babylon during his Twelfth Year (Fourth Campaign) (711 BC, revised), the chronology I am trying to develop here would be extremely tight indeed. But Esarhaddon in fact calls himself “the oldest son of [Sennacherib …”.396 And, whilst this would appear to be contradicted by another statement of his, that Marduk had called him from among my older brothers”,397 it may indicate that he had become the oldest of Sennacherib’s sons in line for the throne; with his previously older brothers either dead or no longer in contention because of their revolt.

This primary piece of evidence of Esarhaddon as “the oldest son” not only assists my reconstruction, but now makes highly attractive also an identification of Esarhaddon (i.e. Ashur-akhi-iddina) with Ashur-nadin-shumi, Sennacherib’s eldest. The latter’s supposed six years of reign over Babylon (c. 700-694 BC, conventional dating) would thus correspond with Esarhaddon’s reign over that city. And I suggest it was during this early period that Esarhaddon rebuilt, probably magnified, Babylon; but while his father Sennacherib was still alive, and indeed as a servant of the latter. They would have been co-regents of Babylon, given that Sargon’s Year 16 was also his 4th year as king of Babylon (the second time around).

 

My comment on this: From the “Esarhaddon a tolerable fit” article above, with Esarhaddon therein identified as Nebuchednezzar II, the building of Babylon would actually have occurred only after the father’s death.

My thesis continues:

….

According to this new scenario, Esarhaddon would have served for six years as ruler of Babylon, from Sennacherib’s Year 12 to Year 18, and his reign would have terminated prior to the end of his father’s own reign.

My proposed identification of Esarhaddon with Ashur-nadin-shumi (and I am not of course claiming a precise name identification here) would not stand up though if the

latter had really suffered the fate that Roux has attributed to this Ashur-nadin-shumi:398 “… disappeared, probably murdered” in Iran after the Babylonians had handed him over to the Elamites. However, I have not yet read anywhere that Ashur-nadin-shumi’s death at this stage was more than ‘probable’. There is no certainty attached to it.

….

And, if Ashur-nadin-shumi were Esarhaddon as seems very likely – and I hope to strengthen this case further on – then his death did not occur in Elam; though the circumstances of it may have been equally unfortunate as those given by Roux for Ashurnadin-shumi (“disappeared, probably murdered”).

….

If Sennacherib, soon to be ensconced in his glorious new palace at Khorsabad, had

virtually abdicated in favour of his son Esarhaddon, whom as heir he re-named Ashuretil-ilani-mukin-aplu (‘Ashur, the lord of the gods, has established an heir’), this would go a long way towards explaining historians’ puzzlement over the fact that there are no official annals for the last decade of Sennacherib’s reign. The annals are in fact available, I suggest, but they need to be looked for under the name of Esarhaddon, and even partly, as we shall see, under the name of Ashurbanipal.

 

My comment on this: I have since identified Esarhaddon with Ashurbanipal, as alter egos of Nebuchednezzar II.

My thesis continues:

 

Unfortunately, Esarhaddon’s annals are, as noted earlier, fragmentary and carelessly arranged, making the editor’s job extremely difficult.

Perfectly in accordance with the new chronology of co-regency that is being developed here is this comment, in regard to Isaiah’s reference to the conquest of Egypt in his tauntsong response to Sennacherib’s letter:399 “Moreover, it is not Sennacherib who is being taunted, but Esarhaddon, who invaded Egypt in 671”. (Cf. Isaiah 37:9-14 & 37:21-35).

Thus an unconventional coincidence of Sennacherib’s reign with Esarhaddon’s conquest of northern Egypt!

Along similar lines, Hall has made the suggestion in regard to the famous loss of Sennacherib’s army – at Pelusium in Egypt according to Herodotus – that:400 “… the disaster really happened, not to Sennacherib, but to Esarhaddon, who in 675 attacked Egypt, when, as the Babylonian chronicle tells us, ‘the troops of Assyria went to Egypt: they fled before a great storm’.”

….

Esarhaddon soon became a potent force in the land, as commander-in-chief of Assyria’s armies. His military prowess became legendary; not least in his own mind:401 “… My equal did not exist, [my power] being unrivaled; and among the princes who went before me, none …”.

Esarhaddon would now also greatly augment the Assyrian army:402 ….

 

In addition (?) ……… the charioteers (?) of the bodyguard (?), cavalry of the bodyguard(?), governors, many of them (?), chiefs (captains) (of?) the bowmen

(kitkittu), the workmen, the sappers, the shield-(bearers), the “killers”, the farmers, the shepherds, the gardeners, to the masses of Assur’s host and to the (military) establishment of the former kings, my fathers, in large numbers, I added and Assyria, to its farthest border, I filled up like a quiver.

 

[End of thesis quotes]

 

 

Dr. I. Velikovsky and others have suggested that the fleeing of Esarhaddon’s army supposedly from a great storm was at least reminiscent of the Sennacherib event.

https://www.varchive.org/tac/esarh.htm

“In the sixth year the troops of Assyria went to Egypt; they fled before a storm.” This laconic item in the short “Esarhaddon Chronicle” (7) was written more than one hundred years after his death; if it does not refer to the debacle of Sennacherib, one may conjecture that at certain ominous signs in the sky the persistent recollection of the disaster which only a few years earlier had overtaken Sennacherib’s army, threw the army of his son into a panic”.

 

Emmet Sweeney is more emphatic (The Ramessides, Medes, and Persians, p. 185, n. 263):

 

The Esarhaddon Chronicle mentions how in the king’s second year, “the army of Assyria went to Egypt. It fled before a storm.” In view of the highly unusual  nature of this entry — armies do normally flee before storms — it has often been supposed that this is a reference to the events of Sennacherib’s second and unsuccessful expedition to Egypt, where his soldiers too were defeated by some natural event. Since Sennacherib’s records do not mention the disaster, it is difficult to ascertain exactly when it occurred. Nevertheless, the silence of Assyrian records for the final nine or ten years of Sennacherib’s reign suggest that it probably took place then.

Now, if the entry in the Esarhaddon Chronicle really does refer to the disaster of Sennacherib’s reign, this implies a profound confusion on the part of the chroniclers. However, an even more probable explanation is that the writers of the document (working it should be said, long after Esarhaddon’s death) themselves believed it to refer to Sennacherib’s defeat, and so lopped off several years of Esarhaddon’s reign to make it “right”.

[End of quote]

 

The revision being presented in this series has an overlap of the disastrous military phase of Sennacherib with a co-regency of his oldest son, Ashur-nadin-shumi, the “Holofernes” of the Book of Judith, and with Esarhaddon/Ashurbanipal (also as the soon-to-be Nebuchednezzar II) as well being involved in this drama in some capacity.

For more on this, see next section.

 

“Bagoas” only possible candidate for Nebuchednezzar if latter figures in Book of Judith

 

 

So Bagoas left the presence of Holofernes, and approached [Judith] and said,

‘Let this pretty girl not hesitate to come to my lord to be honored in his presence,

and to enjoy drinking wine with us, and to become today like one of the Assyrian women

who serve in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar’.”

 

Judith 12:13

 

 

 

So far in this series we have determined that he who later became king Nebuchednezzar II – and who had participated in, and survived, Sennacherib’s disastrous campaign according to some Jewish traditions – could chronologically have (according to my neo-Assyrian revisions) been present as a young prince during this catastrophic event.

We have also learned that Esarhaddon, one of my alter egos for Nebuchednezzar II, is recorded as having been involved in a military campaign to Egypt in which the Assyrian army is said to have “fled before a great storm”. [This is recorded in British Museum chronological tablet 25091. See E. A. Wallis Budge, The Mummy: A Handbook of Egyptian Funerary Archaeology – Revised …, p. 75].

This incident some consider to be most reminiscent of the Sennacherib disaster.

Emmet Sweeney, as we previously read, had noted that armies do not flee before storms.

 

I certainly think that the flight of the Assyrian army, as described in the Book of Judith, must have been the same incident as that described in the Esarhaddon Chronicle tablet.

 

If the young Nebuchednezzar really had been involved in Sennacherib’s ill-fated campaign, then there is at least some chance that he would make an appearance also in the Book of Judith, in close relationship with “Holofernes”, who, as Ashur-nadin-shumi (as previously determined) would have been Nebuchednezzar’s oldest brother.

Now, the only Assyrian of importance (besides “Holofernes”) referred to in the Book of Judith as participating in the ill-fated western campaign is (e.g. Judith 12:11) one “Bagoas the eunuch” (Βαγώᾳ τῷ εὐνούχῳ), not immediately the type of person that one might look to equate with a brother of the mighty, all-conquering Assyrian Commander-in-chief.

 

However, we might have a somewhat wrong idea about Assyrian (and other ancient) eunuchs.

Dr. Don C. Benjamin has asked the question: “Eunuchs: Physical or Political?”:

http://www.doncbenjamin.com/blog/29-general-blog-posts/50-eunuchs-physical-or-political

 

In ordinary speech eunuchs are castrated males.  In the world of the Bible and in the Bible itself, eunuchs (Heb: saris) were trusted members of rulers’ inner circles of advisors.  In exchange for this position of trust, eunuchs have waived their right to challenge the rulers they serve and take over their authority. They were a ruler’s defenders. For example, in Persia the eunuchs who defended Xerxes and other officials who wanted to overthrow him feuded. Ultimately, the eunuchs lost, and Xerxes was assassinated in 465 B.C.E.[1] Most rulers tried to maintain a balance of power between these two groups.[2]

 

Eunuchs were a special group of administrators in Assyria. Originally, they were entrusted with protecting the harem, but as early as 2,000 B.C.E. they held various high offices, and during the Neo-Assyrian period (934-608 B.C.E.) eunuchs were an essential part of royal government. In fact, a collective term in Akkadian for royal officers was eunuchs and bearded ones.[3]

 

Assyrian reliefs, frescoes and seals typically portray eunuchs surrounding the Great King without beards, and other royal advisors with beards.[4] This artistic convention has led to the conclusion that eunuchs were castrated.[5]

 

Eunuchs were not castrated to prevent them from having intercourse with their rulers’ women in the harem. They were entrusted with these diplomatic wives because they had sworn unconditional allegiance to their rulers, and would not compete with their rulers for the covenants their marriages to their women had ratified.

 

Since they did not seem to have direct contact with the harem, most likely the term eunuch (Heb sārı̂s) should not be taken literally. It would be better translated as royal official. Near Eastern traditions refer to various royal officials and military officers as eunuchs.[6] Assyrian art depicts eunuchs carrying the bow, arrows and spear of their rulers, holding umbrellas over the heads of their rulers and waving fly-whisks or fans to protect their rulers from insects. Eunuchs also accompany their rulers on lion hunts where they carry their rulers weapons, drive their chariots and dress their kills. Eunuchs are also depicted as musicians playing lyres and harps; as scribes writing letters for their rulers, recording plunder and prisoners from battle, drafting the annals of their rulers on the battlefield.

 

The Akkadian root for the word eunuch (Akkadian: saris) is not sar meaning ruler, but sa resi meaning he who is chief. Assyrian art depicts eunuchs leading or directing others to their royal audiences.  In the books of Samuel-Kings (1 Kgs 22:1-99) the saris is officer of the court who arrests and escorts defendants into the presence of a ruler. Likewise, in the book of Esther, seven eunuchs are sent to bring Vashti from her banquet to Xerxes. They may also have been sent to summon Haman to both of Esther’s banquets with Xerxes (Esth 5:5; 6:14). This access to rulers gave eunuchs significant authority.[7]

[End of quote]

 

The closeness of Bagoas to “Holofernes” would indicate that Bagoas was a most trusted member of the commander’s retinue. According to Robin Gallaher Branch, “Joakim, Uzziah, and Bagoas: A Literary Analysis of Selected Secondary Characters in the Book of Judith”, “Bagoas, the eunuch in charge of the belongings of Holofernes, is a most significant secondary character in the book of Judith”. And Branch’s description below, “Bagoas displays the following characteristics: arrogance, pride, power, condescension, and anger”, would definitely fit what we know of king Nebuchednezzar II.

The author of that article writes: http://www.scielo.org.za/pdf/ote/v25n1/04.pdf

 

Bagoas, the eunuch in charge of the belongings of Holofernes, is a most significant secondary character in the book of Judith. Arguably, his status, power,

and influence depend on that of Holofernes, and the worldwide status of Holofernes is quite high.78 The text introduces Holofernes as the general in command of the armies of Nebuchadnezzar and second in command to Nebuchadnezzar in Assyria (2:4).79 Both are portrayed as villainous men full of

pride. First by association with Holofernes, Bagoas likewise is Israel’s enemy; later Bagoas’ own deeds and words establish that the text considers him as such.

Bagoas’ textual introduction is probably intended for humour and emphasis. His name in Persian means eunuch.80 So a translation would be “He said to Eunuch the eunuch in charge of his personal affairs, ‘Go…’” (12:11).

Bagoas’ livelihood and life depend on Holofernes’ success.81 As Holofernes’ aide de camp, Bagoas holds a gatekeeper position; he controls access to the great general. The status, fortunes, and lives of the two entwine throughout the narrative and military campaign.82 The text recounts Holofernes’ death specifically (12:8) and possibly indicates Bagoas’ death as among those of the scattered army (14:5).

Bagoas displays the following characteristics: arrogance, pride, power, condescension, and anger. Like Holofernes, he is beguiled by Judith.83 Bagoas

is a villain,84 trickster,85 and traitor.86 As a secondary character, he not only speaks (12:13; 14:18) but also proves pivotal in significant plot twists.87 For example, he arranges the banquet in which Holofernes entertains Judith; he creates a secluded enclave where his master’s seduction can succeed; he finds

the headless corpse of Holofernes; and he sets the tone for mourning the fallen leader by yelling, wailing, groaning, and ripping his clothes.

 

1 Bagoas as Foil to Holefernes

 

Bagoas proves a foil for two characters: his master Holofernes and Judith’s silent, unnamed maid. Let us consider Holofernes first. Perhaps around the camp Bagoas mirrored Holofernes’ swagger and misplaced self-confidence. After all, Holofernes successfully “cut his way through Put and Lud and plundered all the Rassisites and Ishmaelites living on the edge of the desert south of Cheleon” (2:23). Holofernes’ other victories include setting fire to the tents of the Midianites and plundering their sheepfolds (2:26). The plain of Damascus likewise suffered, and fear and dread of Holofernes swept through the seacoast towns of Sidon and Tyre as well as among those living in Jamnia, Azotus, and Ascalon (2:27-28). By the time Holofernes neared Judea, he was in no mood to hear the warning of Achior the Ammonite against fighting the Israelites (5:5-21) and indeed considered it irrelevant and even treasonous (6:1-10). Arguably, his army and a personal servant like Bagoas follow his tone or even egg him on to more bravado and braggadocios talk (see 5:22-24).88 Arguably, the string of victories proved the authenticity of Nebuchadnezzar’s claim for world kingship and the invicibility of his general.

Next, taking his cue from Holofernes, Bagoas copies the general in his dealings with the people. He mirrors Holofernes’ reaction to Judith: delight in her words and in her defection to the camp of the Assyrians (11:20-21).89 Bagoas and Holofernes are part of the male acclaim united in responding to Judith’s long speech: “In terms of beauty and brains, there is not another woman like this from one end of the earth to another!” (11:21). As males, they agree on Judith’s beauty, wisdom, eloquence (11:23). As males they also see immediately what the text refrains from mentioning specifically: Judith’s desirability, availability, vulnerability, and her lack of male protection. As a general, Holofernes likes her promise of Assyrian victory without Assyrian deaths (9:13; 11:18-19).

But all too sadly Bagoas mirrors Holofernes in his stupidity. A good subordinate—whether a slave, servant, or paid employee—must at times question the one in charge. This is for the good of the one in charge and for all concerned. 90 Tragically for his army and himself, Holofernes asks no questions of Judith. He believes her gracious words, a speech filled with double meanings and word plays (11:5-19). Thoroughly taken in by her beauty, brains, wisdom, and eloquence, Holofernes welcomes her into the camp, promising that if things work out as she has promised, then she “shall live in King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace and be famous throughout the world” (11:23). If Bagoas really had had his master’s best interests at heart, he would have asked questions. He would have been exceedingly suspicious of a beautiful woman in a tiara and her beautiful maid coming so surprisingly to the camp of the enemy at night.91 Judith, truly a femme fatale, soon reduces the conqueror of the world to drunken stupor, and in his vulnerable unconsciousness, beheads him.92 Finally, Bagoas mirrors Holofernes’ sloppiness. Losing self-control, Holofernes acts without discretion (or suspicion!) toward one who is an enemy Israelite, the beautiful Judith.93 Consequently, the text portrays the general, his army, and his eunuch as ridiculously and fatally blind to their peril from the enemy in their midst.94

 

2 Bagoas as a Foil to Judith’s Maid

 

Bagoas’ counterpart is the unnamed, silent maid of Judith. Much can be learned about her from the various Hebrew words associated with her. She is called abran, meaning graceful one or favorite slave in Jdt 8:10, 33; 10:2, 5, 17; 13:9; 16:23. She is called paidiske, maid, in 10:10 and doule, servant, in 12:15, 19; 13:3.95 As mentioned in our earlier article, in every way except verbosity she is Judith’s counterpart, taking part with her mistress in a life-or-death adventure.96

The text introduces the maid as someone Judith trusts and has placed “in charge

of all her property” (8:10). Granted, Bagoas likewise is a slave and in charge of Holofernes’ property. But Judith and her maid share a closeness the men lack: the text indicates the women are covenant believers in Israel’s God and arguably

pray together, or at least Judith lets her maid observe her and serve her in her chosen lifestyle of prayer, celibacy, fasting, and devotion to God (8:5-8; 10:1-6).97

The comparison/contrast between Bagoas and the maid bears more study. Bagoas knows Holofernes likes to party (12:19-20; 13:1). The maid knows Judith enjoys a quiet life of prayer, fasting, seclusion, and restricted eating. Each prepares food.98 Bagoas knows Holofernes likes wine and rich food; the maid knows that Judith eats selected food only once a day in the evening (12:19; 12:9). Each is a slave; but the maid receives manumission from Judith (16:23). Significantly, both know the sexual cycles and preferences of their masters. Judith prefers to stay a widow and remain celibate. Bagoas knows Holofernes is off his sexual cycle and needs sex—and enjoys a fresh conquest (8:4-8; 13:16; 16:21-22). Judith and her maid embark together on a daring, high-stakes quest; in this sense they are bonded together in a life-risking enterprise; conversely, the relationship between Holofernes and Bagoas evidences no such dependence or life-or-death commitment.99

 

3 Bagoas and His Duties as Chamberlain

 

As the chamberlain in charge of Holofernes’ military household, Bagoas is used to private conversations with his master. The text recounts one. As host to visitors and the leader of an army of 120,000 infantry and 12,000 mounted bowmen (2:15),100 Holofernes has multiple duties that include battle strategy sessions, leading an army, and entertaining his highest staff. It also would be appropriate to entertain the beautiful defector who promises to lead his army through the heart of Judea to Jerusalem and assures victory without risking the life or limb of his men (11:19; 10:13).

Holofernes reveals to Bagoas his intention to seduce Judith.101 Holofernes wants her to come to an intimate banquet without his army commanders; he charges Bagoas to arrange all the details and to “persuade” Judith to attend (12:10-12). Holofernes indicates to Bagoas his view that Judith expects to be seduced and indeed will laugh with mockery if Holofernes fails to perform. Holofernes indicates his honour as a warrior in front of his thousands of men will be disgraced if the camp talk the following morning does not include evidence that the beautiful visitor welcomed his embrace. Holofernes is quite blunt in his instructions to Bagoas: “Go ‘persuade’ the Hebrew woman who is in your care to join us, and to eat and drink with us. For we will be disgraced if we let such a woman go without having her, because if we do not make her, she will laugh at us” (12:11).

Bagoas goes as commanded to Judith to invite her to dine with the general. He displays a silver tongue. His condescending speech reveals his arrogance. First, Bagoas mirrors his master’s intimate chattiness when he says to Judith, “May this lovely maid not hesitate to come before my lord to be honoured in his presence and to enjoy drinking wine with us and act today like one of the Assyrian women who serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace” (12:13). Judith replies, “Who am I that I should refuse my lord? I will do whatever he desires right away, and it will be something to boast of until my dying day” (12:14) (italics added). Containing a word play on my lord and he, her response contains much irony, a noted folktale feature.102 Judith’s response, because of her choices of physical chastity and celibacy and of spiritual chastity to the God of Israel, means the opposite of what Bagoas believes she says.103

Let us continue looking at this meeting, for it is textually quite rich. Bagoas insults Judith in several ways. First, he insults her by not using the pronoun you and talking to her as if she is an object. Second he insults her by his familiarity, by giving her a nickname, lovely maid, without her consent. He then reveals his disdain for women, for he views Assyrian women as alive to serve the sexual needs of Assyrian men. He equates Judith with Nineveh courtesans. Third, he insults her by acknowledging her age and yet calling her a lovely maid. He knows Judith is not a virgin but a widow—and therefore (presumably) sexually experienced. Yet he seeks to flatter her by slicing years off her age. He calls her a maid (12:13).104 Fourth, he insults her by letting her know that she is expected to be a courtesan like the Assyrian women; in modern parlance, the Assyrian court seems to be filled with sex groupies.105 His condescending manner indicates he views women as men’s playthings. However, in a way Judith invites Bagoas’ bad manners, for in front of an appreciative audience of men engaged in war, she already praised Holofernes as brave, experienced, and dazzling in the art of war (11:8).

Her response to Bagoas seems to give Holofernes the chance to dazzle her in bed. No doubt Bagoas quickly relays her reply to the executive tent!

 

4 Bagoas as a Fool

 

Arriving for the intimate banquet, Judith steps upon lambskins spread by her maid and provided by Bagoas (12:15). The evening progresses; Holofernes drinks more than he has ever drunk on any other day of his life; Bagoas closes the tent from the outside and dismisses the weary servants (12:20; 13:1). Judith’s maid alone remains nearby (13:9-10). Bagoas fails as a servant, for, in his attempt to be discreet, he leaves Holofernes unprotected. Bagoas’ discretion allows Judith to behead Holofernes.

The text humorously depicts Bagoas as waiting patiently past sunrise for his master to emerge from his sexual conquest. Finally, duty demands that Bagoas must interrupt the (presumed) lovers. Notice the verbs; they convey his quick actions (14:14-16). He shakes the tent curtain, draws it aside, goes into the bedroom, and finds his master on top of the bedstool, a headless corpse! Bagoas suddenly acts quickly.106 It is in his best interests to do so, and his actions show a distinct measure of self-protection. He lets out a yell, and successively adds wailing, groaning, and shouting to it; he rips his clothes. All in all, it’s quite a convincing display of his surprise, outrage, and innocence. He immediately goes to Judith’s tent, finds her and her maid missing, and rushes into the midst of the people (14:17) (italics added). People is significant: one expects the text to say army. However, this textual putdown indicates the disunity of what is trumped up to be the best fighting force in the world. This Assyrian fighting force cannot withstand a change-of-command at the top. The story quickly verifies the veracity of the insult. ….

 

 

Does King Nabonidus reflect Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”?

Image result for nebuchadnezzar art

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

The Book of Daniel is charged with all sorts of historical inaccuracies, a fault more likely of the perceived history rather than of the Book of Daniel itself. Admittedly, some of the things that the author of Daniel attributes to “King Nebuchednezzar” appear to be better suited to Nabonidus, the supposed last king of the Babylonian (Chaldean) empire.

Yet there might be a good reason why this is the case.

 

Introduction

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Admittedly, there appear to be some immediate problems with this unexpected new scenario.

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

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

 

The Madness of Nabonidus

 

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

Nabonidus (Akkadian Nabû-nāʾid) ….

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

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

….

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

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

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

 

Nabonidus’ stay in Tayma

 

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

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

 

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

This is where newworldencyclopedia introduces that Dead Sea Scrolls document:

 

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

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

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

….

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

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

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

[End of quote]

 

—————————————————————————————-

“… within the canonical book of Daniel, Daniel 4 is widely agreed to be

originally a Nabonidus story”.

—————————————————————————————-

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

The Corpus of Jewish Nabonidus Literature

 

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

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

 

[End of quote]

 

  

Esarhaddon a tolerable fit for King Nebuchednezzar

Image result for esarhaddon

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 “As we know from the correspondence left by the royal physicians and exorcists …

his days were governed by spells of fever and dizziness, violent fits of vomiting, diarrhoea

and painful earaches. Depressions and fear of impending death were a constant in his life.

In addition, his physical appearance was affected by the marks of a permanent skin rash that covered large parts of his body and especially his face”.

 Karen Radner

  

 

Introduction

 

As we proceed, we shall briefly recall the biblical “Nebuchednezzar” likenesses of three mighty kings, two of whom – Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus – I have identified as alter egos of Nebuchednezzar II, and one of whom, Cambyses, at least remarkably shares in these likenesses.

And I can mention, in passing, Artaxerxes (so-called) III, who has been likened to Cambyses.  

 

But I now think that there is more to be said.

Esarhaddon, supposed father of Ashurbanipal (= Nebuchednezzar II), who has taken his place in my recent revision as Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchednezzar II, will be found to have suffered so profoundly from this “Nebuchednezzar Syndrome” as to force me consider (see Esarhaddon section in the latter part of this article) whether Esarhaddon needs to be merged into Ashurbanipal as I have merged Esarhaddon’s father, Sennacherib, into Sargon II.

{My estimated 21 years’ reign for Sennacherib now accords more comfortably with the 21 years of Nabopolassar (c. 625-605 BC, conventional dating)}.

 

 

Ashurbanipal; Nabonidus; Cambyses; Artaxerxes III

 

 

Keywords: Dreams; megalomania; massive building works; fiery furnace;

illness-madness; revival and ‘conversion’; vindictive Egyptian campaign.

 

 

Ashurbanipal

 

Another common key-word (buzz word), or phrase, for various of these king-names would be ‘son of a nobody’, pertaining to a prince who was not expecting to be elevated to kingship. Thus I previously introduced Ashurbanipal-as-Nebuchednezzar/Nabonidus with the statement: “Nabonidus is not singular either in not expecting to become king. Ashurbanipal had felt the same”.

 

I then continued:

 

…. They [Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus] share many Babylonian building works and restorations, too.

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

….

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

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

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

….

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

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

….

Ashurbanipal also apparently had a lions’ den.

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I realise that the lions’ den episodes of the Book of Daniel pertain to the Dream-statue phase representing the Medo-Persian era. See my article:

 

Was Daniel Twice in the Lions’ Den?

 

https://www.academia.edu/24308877/Was_Daniel_Twice_in_the_Lions_Den

 

but was it not Daniel’s “King Nebuchednezzar” who had threatened to ‘tear limb from limb’ his stalling wise men (Daniel 2:5)?

See my article:

 

How did Nebuchednezzar manage to tear offenders limb from limb?

 

https://www.academia.edu/37307963/How_did_Nebuchednezzar_manage_to_tear_offenders_limb_from_limb

Was Ashurbanipal a king of dreams?

He was a typical superstitious and megalomaniacal Mesopotamian king.

George Godspeed writes this of Ashurbanipla’s famatical devotion ot the gods:

http://history-world.org/ashurbanipal.htm

 

It is not strange, therefore, that in his finely wrought sculptures and brilliantly written inscriptions are depicted scenes of hideous brutality. Plunder, torture, anguish, and slaughter are dwelt upon with something of

delight by the king, who sees in them the vengeance of the gods upon those

that have broken their faith.  The very religiousness of the royal butcher makes the shadows blacker.  No Assyrian king was ever more devoted to the gods and dependent upon them. 

 

And Robert Moss writes in ‘Questioning dreams in ancient Mesopotamia”:

http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/dreamgates/2014/07/questioning-dreams-in-ancient-mesopotamia.html#hzAzS0qrk6kGJHza.99

 

In Mesopotamia, as in most human cultures, dreaming was understood to be close kin to divination. The famous Assyrian dream book in the library of King Ashurbanipal — brought to Nineveh in 647 BCE from the house of an exorcist of Nippur — was filed with the omen tablets, the largest category in the royal collection. Among ordinary folk as well as in royal palaces, across most of history, dreamwork has never been separated from other ways of reading the sign language of life. ….

 

Did he suffer an enduring illness, followed by a conversion?

Well, this intriguing prayer was found in Ashurbanipal’s library:

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/iraq/article/new-fragments-of-gilgames-and-other-literary-texts-from-kuyunjik/1F360E8054C85DAC9FBF8B1BD322D416/core-reader

 

….

  1. My bed is the ground! (penitential prayer alsīka ilī)

 

The prayer alsīka ilī is one of the few extant examples of the group of the šigû-prayers, individual laments addressed to a deity in which the penitent acknowledges his sins and asks the god for absolution. ….

….

 

  1. Incantation šigû: I have called upon you. My god, relent!
  2. Relent, my god! Accept my supplication!
  3. Harken to my weary prayers!
  4. Learn at once the disgrace that has befallen me!
  5. Keep listening to my lament, which I have made!
  6. May the night bring you the tears which I weep!
  7. Since the day (you), my lord, punished me,
  8. and (you), the god who created me, became furious with me,
  9. (since the day) you turned my house into my prison,
  10. my bed is the ground, my sleeping place is dust,
  11. I am deprived of sleep, distressed by nightmares,
  12. I am troubled [in my …], confused [in my …].

B 9. I have been enduring a punishment [that I cannot bear.]

….

 

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Was Ashurbanipal a vindictive type?

According to Lori L. Rowlett (Joshua and the Rhetoric of Violence: A New Historicist Analysis, p. 112): “’Ashurbanipal’s] treatment of his enemies (internal and external) is particularly horrible and vindictive …”.

Nabonidus

 

Scholars have noticed various “Nebuchednezzar” characteristics in King Nabonidus.

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

 

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

{This tendency to ‘mess with the sacred rites’ is a further common link amongst our name-kings of this series}

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

 

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

 

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

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

Then there is Nabonidus’s strange disappearance to Teima (Tayma) in Arabia for ten years. During some of this time he was ill.

It is due to this situation that scholars think that the Book of Daniel has confused Nebuchednezzar with Nabonidus. Indeed a Dead Sea Scrolls fragment tells of a protracted illness suffered by Nabonidus.

For more on all this, see the following series of mine, which, I think, serves adequately to cover the “Nabonidus” part of this present series:

 

Does King Nabonidus Reflect Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”?

 

https://www.academia.edu/38017881/Does_King_Nabonidus_reflect_Daniels_Nebuchednezzar_

 

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

 

Does King Nabonidus Reflect Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”? Part Two (i): A Superstitious and ‘Unjust King’

 

https://www.academia.edu/23725556/Does_King_Nabonidus_Reflect_Daniel_s_Nebuchednezzar_Part_Two_i_A_Superstitious_and_Unjust_King_

 

“Let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. This matter [is] by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the Holy Ones: to the intent that the living may know that The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men”. Daniel 4:16-17

 

Does King Nabonidus Reflect Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”? Part Two (ii): Golden-Headed Power

 

https://www.academia.edu/23743784/Does_King_Nabonidus_Reflect_Daniel_s_Nebuchednezzar_Part_Two_ii_Golden-Headed_Power

 

Does King Nabonidus Reflect Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”? Part Two (iii): Dreams, Astrologers, a Statue, Wealth

 

https://www.academia.edu/23848786/Does_King_Nabonidus_Reflect_Daniel_s_Nebuchednezzar_Part_Two_iii_Dreams_Astrologers_a_Statue_Wealth

 

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

 

Does King Nabonidus Reflect Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”? Part Two (iv): ‘God of gods’

 

https://www.academia.edu/23885987/Does_King_Nabonidus_Reflect_Daniel_s_Nebuchednezzar_Part_Two_iv_God_of_gods_

 

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

 

Does King Nabonidus Reflect Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”? Part Two (iv) (b): ‘God of gods’

 

https://www.academia.edu/23925121/Does_King_Nabonidus_Reflect_Daniels_Nebuchednezzar_Part_Two_iv_b_God_of_gods

 

According to Paul-Alain Beaulieu, “The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 B.C.” (1989), p. 63: “… there is no evidence that the king [Nabonidus] tried to impost the cult of Sîn as supreme deity in his early reign”. But, as Beaulieu will interpret it (p. 62): “Upon his return from Arabia, Nabonidus imposed a major religious reform, resulting in the rejection of Marduk, the undisputed supreme god of Babylon of the past six centuries …”.

 

 

 

 

Cambyses

 

“The Chronicle of John of Nikiu who wrote of Cambyses[’] exploits after his name change to Nebuchadnezzar. He wrote of how Cambyses under his new name Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and desolated Egypt. It becomes apparent therefore that John gave credit to Cambyses for what Nebuchadnezzar accomplished”.

http://www.topix.com/forum/religion/jehovahs-witness/THIK59UKCUF68BLNL/evidence-indicating-egypts-40-year-desolation

 

Previously I wrote, regarding likenesses I had perceived between Cambyses and my various alter egos for king Nebuchednezzar II (including Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus):
 

Common factors here may include ‘divine’ madness; confounding the priests by messing with the Babylonian rites; and the conquest of Egypt and Ethiopia.

 

I was then totally unaware of this name claim about Cambyses by John of Nikiu.

  

… my enlargement of the historical Nebuchednezzar II, through alter egos,

to embrace Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus – and now, too, perhaps, Cambyses

– provides a complete ‘profile’ of the biblical king that ‘covers all bases’, so to speak.

 

For some time, now, I have suspected that the mad but powerful, Egypt-conquering Cambyses had to be the same as the mad but powerful, Egypt-conquering Nebuchednezzar II.

And now I learn that the C7th AD Egyptian Coptic bishop, John of Nikiû (680-690 AD, conventional dating), had told that Cambyses was also called Nebuchednezzar.

This new piece of information has emboldened me to do – what I have wanted to – and that is to say with confidence that Cambyses was Nebuchednezzar II.

That Nebuchednezzar II also reigned in Susa is evidenced by (if I am right) my identification of him with the “king Artaxerxes” of the Book of Nehemiah, who was a “king of Babylon”. See my series: “Governor Nehemiah’s master “Artaxerxes king of Babylon”,”, especially Part One:

 

https://www.academia.edu/37223770/Governor_Nehemiahs_master_Artaxerxes_king_of_Babylon_._Part_One_Nehemiah_and_that_broken_down_wall_

 

and Part Two:

 

https://www.academia.edu/37223861/Governor_Nehemiahs_master_Artaxerxes_king_of_Babylon_._Part_Two_Artaxerxes_as_king_Nebuchednezzar

 

Whilst critics can argue that the “king Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel may not necessarily be a good match for the historico-biblical Nebuchednezzar II, but that he seems more likely to have been based on king Nabonidus, my enlargement of the historical Nebuchednezzar II, through alter egos, to embrace Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus – and now, too, Cambyses – provides a complete ‘profile’ of the biblical king that ‘covers all bases’, so to speak.

 

“In view of all this, I have no doubt that Cambyses was completely out of his mind;

it is the only possible explanation of his assault upon, and mockery of,

everything which ancient law and custom have made sacred in Egypt”.

 Herodotus

  

When subjecting neo-Babylonian history to a serious revision, I had reached the conclusion that Nebuchednezzar II needed to be folded with Nabonidus, and that Nebuchednezzar II’s son-successor, Evil-Merodach, needed to be folded with Nabonidus’s son, Belshazzar.

That accorded perfectly with the testimony of the Book of Daniel that “Nebuchednezzar” was succeeded by his son, “Belshazzar”.

 

Cambyses

 

Books, articles and classics have been written about the madness of King Cambyses, he conventionally considered to have been the second (II) king of that name, a Persian (c. 529-522 BC), and the son/successor of Cyrus the Great.

The tradition is thought to have begun with the C5th BC Greek historian, Herodotus, according to whom (The Histories)

http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/herodotus/cambyses.htm

 

[3.29.1] When the priests led Apis in, Cambyses–for he was all but mad–drew his dagger and, meaning to stab the calf in the belly, stuck the thigh; then laughing he said to the priests: [3.29.2] “Simpletons, are these your gods, creatures of flesh and blood that can feel weapons of iron? That is a god worthy of the Egyptians. But for you, you shall suffer for making me your laughing-stock.” So saying he bade those, whose business it was, to scourge the priests well, and to kill any other Egyptian whom they found holiday-making. [3.29.3] So the Egyptian festival ended, and the priests were punished, and Apis lay in the temple and died of the wound in the thigh. When he was dead of the wound, the priests buried him without Cambyses’ knowledge.

[3.30.1] But Cambyses, the Egyptians say, owing to this wrongful act immediately went mad, although even before he had not been sensible. His first evil act was to destroy his full brother Smerdis, whom he had sent away from Egypt to Persia out of jealousy, because Smerdis alone could draw the bow brought from the Ethiopian by the Fish-eaters as far as two fingerbreadths, but no other Persian could draw it.

[3.30.2] Smerdis having gone to Persia, Cambyses saw in a dream a vision, in which it seemed to him that a messenger came from Persia and told him that Smerdis sitting on the royal throne touched heaven with his head.

[3.30.3] Fearing therefore for himself, lest his brother might slay him and so be king, he sent Prexaspes, the most trusted of his Persians, to Persia to kill him. Prexaspes went up to Susa and killed Smerdis; some say that he took Smerdis out hunting, others that he brought him to the Red Sea (the Persian Gulf) and there drowned him. ….

[End of quote]

 

And: http://www.livius.org/sources/content/herodotus/herodotus-comment-on-

 

Herodotus’ Comment on Cambyses’ Madness

 

[3.38] In view of all this, I have no doubt that Cambyses was completely out of his mind; it is the only possible explanation of his assault upon, and mockery of, everything which ancient law and custom have made sacred in Egypt.

[End of quote]

 

Scholarly articles have been written in an attempt to diagnose the illness of Cambyses, sometimes referred to – as in the case of Julius Caesar’s epilepsy – as a ‘divine’ or ‘sacred’ disease.

For example (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11594937):

 

Arch Neurol. 2001 Oct; 58(10):1702-4.

 

The sacred disease of Cambyses II.

 

York GK1, Steinberg DA.

 

Abstract

Herodotus’ account of the mad acts of the Persian king Cambyses II contains one of the two extant pre-Hippocratic Greek references to epilepsy. This reference helps to illuminate Greek thinking about epilepsy, and disease more generally, in the time immediately preceding the publication of the Hippocratic treatise on epilepsy, On the Sacred Disease. Herodotus attributed Cambyses’ erratic behavior as ruler of Egypt to either the retribution of an aggrieved god or to the fact that he had the sacred disease. Herodotus considered the possibility that the sacred disease was a somatic illness, agreeing with later Hippocratic authors that epilepsy has a natural rather than a divine cause. ….

[End of quote]

 

The character of Cambyses as presented in various ancient traditions is thoroughly treated in Herb Storck’s excellent monograph, History and Prophecy: A Study in the Post-Exilic Period (House of Nabu, 1989).

 

Messing with the rites

 

As was the case with King Nabonidus (= Nebuchednezzar II), so did Cambyses apparently fail properly to observe established protocol with the Babylonian rites.

 

Regarding the rebellious behaviour of King Nabonidus with regard to the rites, I wrote previously:

 

Confounding the Astrologers

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

[End of quote]

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

[End of quote]

 

According to Encyclopaedia Iranica on Cambyses II:

http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/cambyses-opers

 

A badly damaged passage in the chronicle of Nabonidus contains a report that, in order to legitimize his appointment, Cambyses partici­pated in the ritual prescribed for the king at the traditional New Year festival on 27 March 538 B.C., accepting the royal scepter from the hands of Marduk in Esagila, the god’s temple in Babylon (III. 24-28; Gray­son, p. 111). A. L. Oppenheim attempted a reconstruc­tion of the damaged text (Survey of Persian Art XV, p. 3501); according to his version, Cambyses entered the temple in ordinary Elamite attire, fully armed. The priests persuaded him to lay down his arms, but he refused to change his clothes for those prescribed in the ritual. He then received the royal scepter. In Oppenheim’s view Cambyses thus deliberately demon­strated “a deep-seated religious conviction” hostile to this alien religion (Camb. Hist. Iran II, p. 557).

[End of quote]

 

King Cambyses’ wanton treatment of Egypt-Ethiopia

 

“A Jewish document from 407 BC known as ‘The Demotic Chronicle’ speaks of

Cambyses destroying all the temples of the Egyptian gods”.

  

Of Nebuchednezzar II’s conquest of Egypt, well-attested in the Bible, it is extremely difficult to find substantial account in the historical records.

Not so with the conquest of Egypt and Ethiopia by Cambyses.

 

Nebuchednezzar II was, very early in his reign, militarily involved against Egypt – with greater or lesser success. http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Nebuchadnezzar.aspx

 

Early in 605 B.C. he met Necho, the king of Egypt, in battle and defeated him at Carchemish. A few months later Nabopolassar died, and Nebuchadnezzar hastened home to claim his throne. He soon returned to the west in order to secure the loyalty of Syria and Palestine and to collect tribute; among those who submitted were the rulers of Damascus, Tyre, Sidon, and Judah.

 

Nebuchadnezzar’s Conquests

 

In 601 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar attempted the invasion of Egypt but was repulsed with heavy losses. Judah rebelled, but Jerusalem fell in March 597 B.C., and the ruler, Jehoiakim, and his court were deported to Babylon. Eight years later another Jewish rebellion broke out; this time Jerusalem was razed and the population carried into captivity.

 

[End of quote]

 

This article then follows with an intriguing piece of information: “Expeditions against the Arabs in 582 B.C. and another attempt at invading Egypt in 568 B.C. receive brief mention in Nebuchadnezzar’s later records”.

 

But sceptics say that Nebuchednezzar II never actually succeeded in conquering Egypt, hence the Bible is wrong, and that it was Cambyses instead who conquered Egypt.

 

For instance: http://www.sanityquestpublishing.com/essays/BabEgypt.html

 

 

BABYLON NEVER CONQUERED EGYPT

 

The Bible never says Nebuchadnezzar the Second (hereafter Neb-2) conquered Egypt.  The idea Neb-2 conquered Egypt would never have been considered a serious historical possibility, but for 4 facts:

 

  1. Jeremiah & Ezekiel both predicted that Neb-2 would conquer Egypt.
  2. Jeremiah & Ezekiel are both considered true prophets.
  3. According to Deut. 18:22, true prophets are never wrong about a prediction.
  4. Jesus said (Mat 5:18) “One jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the law until all be fulfilled.” b.  Paul said (2Tim 3:16) “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” Both of these verses are erroneously interpreted by many Christians as meaning the entire Bible contains no errors.

 

If you disagree with the preceding statement, the rest of this essay will be irrelevant to you, because you will be judging all historical evidence by its conformity to the Bible. This makes you literally not worth talking to outside of the company of others who do the same. Such Christians to try to muddy historical evidence that contradicts the Bible. e.g. One proposed that there were two Nebuchadnezzars, the second being Cambyses: http://www.biblestudyguide.org/comment/calvin/comm_vol24/htm/xiii.ii.htm (Actually there were two Nebs, but the first ruled Babylon c.1124-1104BC.)  This essay is based on the assumption that the historical parts of the Bible should be judged for accuracy by the same rules as any other ancient historical document.

….

Unlike any supposed conquest by NEB-2, the conquest of Egypt by CAMBYSES-2 is well attested.

[End of quote]

 

Cambyses in Egypt

 

The above article is correct at least in its final statement quoted here: “… the conquest of Egypt by CAMBYSES-2 is well attested”.

 

The article goes on to tell of the various ancient evidences for this great conquest:

 

EGYPTIAN EVIDENCE

 

We possess the autobiography of the admiral of the Egyptian fleet, Wedjahor-Resne.  It is written on a small statue now in the Vatican Museums in Rome.  After the conquest of Egypt, Wedjahor-Resne was Cambyses’ right-hand man.

“The great king of all foreign countries Cambyses came to Egypt, taking the foreigners of every foreign country with him. When he had taken possession of the entire country, they settled themselves down therein, and he was made great sovereign of Egypt and great king of all foreign countries.  His Majesty appointed me his chief physician and caused me to stay with him in my quality of companion and director of the palace, and ordered me to compose his titulary, his name as king of Upper and Lower Egypt.”

In an inscription on the statue of Udjadhorresnet, a Saite priest and doctor, as well as a former naval officer, we learn that Cambyses II was prepared to work with and promote native Egyptians to assist in government, and that he showed at least some respect for Egyptian religion:

 

“I let His Majesty know the greatness of Sais, that it is the seat of Neith-the-Great, mother who bore Re and inaugurated birth when birth had not yet been…I made a petition to the majesty of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Cambyses, about all the foreigners who dwelled in the temple of Neith, in order to have them expelled from it., so as to let the temple of Neith be in all its splendor, as it had been before.  His Majesty commanded to expel all the foreigners who dwelled in the temple of Neith, to demolish all their houses and all their unclean things that were in the temple. When they had carried all their personal belongings outside the wall of the temple, His Majesty commanded to cleanse the temple of Neith and to return all its personnel to it…and the hour-priests of the temple.  His Majesty commanded to give divine offerings to Neith-the-Great, the mother of god, and to the great gods of Sais, as it had been before.  His Majesty knew the greatness of Sais, that it is a city of all the gods, who dwell there on their seats forever.”

 

HERODOTUS

 

Herodotus (who, to my knowledge, never mentions Nebuchadnezzar by name) describes his Hanging Gardens, but never mentions him in relation to Egypt, though Herodotus does talk about pharaohs Necho, Hophra, Ahmose, & Psamtik.  [Necos, Apries, Amasis, and Psammis] and of course, Cambyses.

Herodotus notes how the Persians easily entered Egypt across the desert.  They were advised by the defecting mercenary general, Phanes of Halicarnassus, to employ the Bedouins as guides.  However, Phanes had left his two sons in Egypt.  We are told that for his treachery, as the armies of the Persians and the mercenary army of the Egyptians met, his sons were bought out in front of the Egyptian army where they could be seen by their father, and there throats were slit over a large bowl.  Afterwards, Herodotus tells us that water and wine were added to the contents of the bowl and drunk by every man in the Egyptian force.

“When Cambyses had entered the palace of Amasis, he gave command to take the corpse of Amasis out of his burial-place. When this had been done, he ordered [his courtiers] to scourge it and pluck out the hair and stab it, and to dishonor it in every other possible way.  When they had done this too, they were wearied out, for the corpse was embalmed and held out against the violence and did not fall to pieces.  Cambyses gave command to consume it with fire, a thing that was not permitted by his own religion.  The Persians hold fire to be a god and to consume corpses with fire is by no means according to the Persian or Egyptian custom.” [Histories 3.16]

 

MANETHO lists the pharaohs of the 26th dynasty, then cites the Persians as the 27th dynasty.

“Cambyses reigned over his own kingdom, Persia, five years, and then over Egypt one year.”

 

PERSIAN EVIDENCE

 

According to king, Darius I’s BEHISTUN INSCRIPTION, Cambyses, before going to Egypt, had secretly killed his brother, Bardiya, whom Herodotus called Smerdis.  The murdered prince was, however, impersonated by Gaumata the Magian, who in March 522 seized the Achaemenid throne.  Cambyses, on his return from Egypt, heard of the revolt in Syria, where he died in the summer of 522, either by his own hand or as the result of an accident.

(10) King Darius says: The following is what was done by me after I became king.  A son of Cyrus, named Cambyses, one of our dynasty, was king here before me. That Cambyses had a brother, Smerdis by name, of the same mother and the same father as Cambyses.  Afterwards, Cambyses slew this Smerdis.  When Cambyses slew Smerdis, it was not known unto the people that Smerdis was slain.  Thereupon Cambyses went to Egypt.  When Cambyses had departed into Egypt, the people became hostile, and the lie multiplied in the land, even in Persia and Media, and in the other provinces.

 

OTHER EVIDENCE

 

A Jewish document from 407 BC known as ‘The Demotic Chronicle’ speaks of Cambyses destroying all the temples of the Egyptian gods.

Greek geographer STRABO of Amasia visited Thebes in 24 BC and saw the ruins of several temples said (by local priests) to have been destroyed by Cambyses.

 

[End of quote]

 

Cambyses – in your dreams

 

 “Cambyses has a “Nebuchednezzar” like dream-vision

of a king whose head touched heaven”.

 

Our neo-Babylonian king, Nabonidus, was, true to form (as an alter ego for Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”), a frequent recipient of dreams and visions.

For example, I wrote previously:

 

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

 

[End of quote]

 

In Beaulieu’s book … we read further of King Nabonidus:

 

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

 

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

[End of quote]

 

Ashurbanipal, likewise – he being yet another alter ego – gave immense credence to dreams and used a dream book. Ashurbanipal was, like Nabonidus, more superstitious, if I may say it, than Nostradamus being pursued by a large black cat under a ladder – on the thirteenth.

Karen Radner tells of Ashurbanipal’s reliance upon dreams, in Of God(s), Trees, Kings, and scholars (p. 224): https://www.ucl.ac.uk/sargon/downloads/radner_fs_parpola_2009.pdf

 

In the Biblical attestations, especially in the stories of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Joseph in Egypt, the ḫarṭummîm17 [wizards] figure prominently as experts in the interpretation of dreams, and it may be this kind of expertise which the ḫarṭibē offered to the Assyrian king; dream oracles were certainly popular with Assurbanipal who used dreams … to legitimise his actions in his royal inscriptions … and whose library contained the dream omen series Zaqīqu (also Ziqīqu). ….

 

[End of quote]

 

Now, what of Cambyses in this regard?

Well, according to Herodotus (http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/herodotus/cambyses.htm)

 

[3.30.1] But Cambyses, the Egyptians say, owing to this wrongful act immediately went mad, although even before he had not been sensible. His first evil act was to destroy his full brother Smerdis, whom he had sent away from Egypt to Persia out of jealousy, because Smerdis alone could draw the bow brought from the Ethiopian by the Fish-eaters as far as two fingerbreadths, but no other Persian could draw it. [3.30.2] Smerdis having gone to Persia, Cambyses saw in a dream a vision, in which it seemed to him that a messenger came from Persia and told him that Smerdis sitting on the royal throne touched heaven with his head. [3.30.3] Fearing therefore for himself, lest his brother might slay him and so be king, he sent Prexaspes, the most trusted of his Persians, to Persia to kill him. Prexaspes went up to Susa and killed Smerdis; some say that he took Smerdis out hunting, others that he brought him to the Red Sea (the Persian Gulf) and there drowned him.

[End of quote]

 

This is actually, as we shall now find, quite Danielic.

 

Cambyses has a “Nebuchednezzar” like dream-vision of a king whose head touched heaven. Likewise, “Nebuchednezzar” had a dream of a “tree … which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky” (Daniel 4:20).

Now, given that this “tree” symbolised “Nebuchednezzar” himself, who was also according to an earlier dream a “head of gold (Daniel 2:38), then one might say that, as in the case of Cambyses dream-vision of a king whose head touched heaven, so did “Nebuchednezzar” touch the sky (heaven) with his head (of gold).

 

 

 

 

Artaxerxes III

 

Not only do scholars liken Artaxerxes (so-called) III in many ways to Cambyses (see e.g. N. Grimal in A History of Ancient Egypt, Blackwell), but Artaxerxes III, as I wrote in:

 

Medo-Persian History Archaeologically Light. Part Three: Artaxerxes III ‘Ochus’

 

https://www.academia.edu/31113013/Medo-Persian_History_Archaeologically_Light._Part_Three_Artaxerxes_III_Ochus_

 

though “considered to be a mighty Persian king, is heavily based upon the Neo-Babylonian Great king, Nebuchednezzar II”.

Regarding Nebuchednezzar II’s also being known as “Artaxerxes”, see my article:

 

Governor Nehemiah’s master “Artaxerxes king of Babylon”. Part Two: “Artaxerxes” as king Nebuchednezzar

https://www.academia.edu/37223861/Governor_Nehemiahs_master_Artaxerxes_king_of_Babylon_._Part_Two_Artaxerxes_as_king_Nebuchednezzar

 

 

Esarhaddon a builder of Babylon become strangely ill

 

 

“At that time it had become increasingly clear that Esarhaddon’s physical

condition was poorly: He was constantly struck with illness, mostly of a rather

severe nature. For days, he withdrew to his sleeping quarters and refused food,

drink and, most disturbingly, any human company …”.

 

Karen Radner

 

 

 

A summary so far

 

According to the findings in this series (and other related works of mine), Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’, the “Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel, had, as his alter egos, Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus (whose son was, like the biblical Nebuchednezzar, Belshazzar).

A further alter ego of his may have been the mad, Egypt-conquering Cambyses.

And Artaxerxes III – likely a composite character – appears to have been heavily based upon Nebuchednezzar II, who bears the title “Artaxerxes” in the Book of Nehemiah.

 

Recently I have found cause to include Esarhaddon in this “Nebuchednezzar Syndrome” mix.

Here are the reasons why.

 

Esarhaddon

 

Esarhaddon, as a builder of Babylon, who, as we are going to find, suffered a protracted, debilitating and most mysterious type of illness, looms, from such a point of view, as a perfect alter ego for Nebuchednezzar II.

He, a potent Mesopotamian king, was, of course, a conqueror of Egypt.

Added to this, it may be that the Ahikar (var. Achior) who thrived in the court of Esarhaddon, was present, as the high official Arioch, in the court of the “Nebuchednezzar” of Daniel.

See my article:  

 

Meeting of the wise – Arioch and Daniel

 

https://www.academia.edu/37485637/Meeting_of_the_wise_Arioch_and_Daniel

 

Yet there is more.

Common to my “Nebuchednezzar Syndrome” candidates is a tendency to contrariness, or individualism, in the face of established religious or sapiential protocol.

I have already written about this as follows:

 

Messing with the rites

 

….

Regarding the rebellious behaviour of King Nabonidus with regard to the rites, I wrote …:

 

Confounding the Astrologers

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

….

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Again, in the case of Cambyses, we encounter this unconventional situation:

 

A badly damaged passage in the chronicle of Nabonidus contains a report that, in order to legitimize his appointment, Cambyses partici­pated in the ritual prescribed for the king at the traditional New Year festival on 27 March 538 B.C., accepting the royal scepter from the hands of Marduk in Esagila, the god’s temple in Babylon (III. 24-28; Gray­son, p. 111). A. L. Oppenheim attempted a reconstruc­tion of the damaged text (Survey of Persian Art XV, p. 3501); according to his version, Cambyses entered the temple in ordinary Elamite attire, fully armed. The priests persuaded him to lay down his arms, but he refused to change his clothes for those prescribed in the ritual. He then received the royal scepter. In Oppenheim’s view Cambyses thus deliberately demon­strated “a deep-seated religious conviction” hostile to this alien religion (Camb. Hist. Iran II, p. 557).

 

Now, Esarhaddon is found to have behaved in just the same fashion as had “Nebuchednezzar”, as had Nabonidus, as had Cambyses. He, in order to justify and facilitate his re-building of the city, Babylon, “turned upside down” the decreed number of 70 years, attributing his subterfuge to the intervention of Marduk: “Seventy years as the measure of its desolation he wrote (in the Book of Fate). But the merciful [Marduk] —his anger lasted but a moment— turned (the Book of Fate) upside down and ordered its restoration in the eleventh year”.

 

Though the reign of Esarhaddon (c. 681 – 669 BC, conventional dating), like that of Nabonidus, is thought to have been relatively short, at least by comparison with that of Nebuchednezzar II, I have suggested that what we have of Nabonidus constitutes only the early reign of Nebuchednezzar. The same may apply to Esarhaddon.

 

“… in a society that saw illness as a divine punishment,

a king who was constantly confined to the sick bay

could not expect to meet with sympathy and understanding”.

 

Here, though, I – with Nebuchednezzar well in mind – want only to focus upon the illness aspect of Esarhaddon, as it has been wonderfully laid bare by Karen Radner, in “The Trials of Esarhaddon: The Conspiracy of 670 BC”. (The BC dates are her dates not mine):

https://repositorio.uam.es/bitstream/handle/10486/3476/24522_10.pdf?sequence=1

 

Esarhaddon became king of Assyria in the year 681. Despite the fact that his father and predecessor Sennacherib (704-680) had made him crown prince two years earlier and had had the whole country take an oath on behalf of his chosen heir, this happened against all odds: Esarhaddon had not been Sennacherib’s first choice and in order to have him installed as crown prince, the old king first needed to dismiss another of his sons from the office ….

 

Mackey’s comment: Thus Esarhaddon had not expected to become king as we found to be the case with Ashurbanipal, with Nabonidus.

Karen Radner continues:

 

This son, Urdu-Mullissi by name, had been crown prince and heir apparent to the Assyrian empire for well over a dozen years when he suddenly had to resign from the prominent position; the reasons for his forced resignation are unknown, but were obviously not grave enough to have him pay with his life. Despite the fact that Urdu-Mullissi had to swear loyalty to his younger brother, he opposed his elevation to the office of crown prince, conspired against Esarhaddon and tried to cause Sennacherib to take back the appointment; the king did not comply, but the situation was clearly very precarious, and the new heir was sent into exile for his own protection.

Sennacherib does not seem to have realised just how dangerous his decision to back Esarhaddon’s promotion was for his own life; otherwise it is a mystery how the former crown prince Urdu-Mullissi could be allowed to stay in his father’s closest proximity where, right under his nose, he plotted to become king. Sennacherib seems to have been caught completely off-guard when Urdu-Mullissi and another son of his attacked him with drawn swords in a temple of Nineveh: On the 20th day of the tenth month of 681 … Sennacherib was killed by the hands of his own sons whose deed caused a stir all over the Near East, best witnessed by the report found in the Old Testarnent …. Yet the kingship that Urdu-Mullissi craved for was not to be his. The aftermath of the murder saw fiction between him and his conspirators; his accession to the throne was delayed and ultimately never took place at all. Assyria was in chaos when Esarhaddon, leading a small army, entered the country from his western exile and marched towards the heartland of the empire. He managed to drive out the murderers of Sennacherib … and,

two months after the assassination, he became king of Assyria ….

These bloody events shaped the new king profoundly. It comes as no great surprise that after his accession to the throne Esarhaddon ordered all conspirators and political enemies within reach to be killed; yet he could not touch the leader of the conspiracy as Urdu-Mullissi had found asylum in Urartu ….

That Assyria’s northern neighbour would harbour the murderer of Sennacherib is not at all unexpected: The two countries had been in an almost constant state of war for the past two centuries.

At that time, chances were that Urdu-Mullissi still might become king and in that event, the Urartian king could reasonably expect to gain substantial influence over Assyria. In the meantime, Esarhaddon made an effort to ensure that his brother would not have any powerful allies at home, should he ever try to stage a coup d’etat from his exile: Many officials throughout the country who were suspected of entertaining sympathy for the enemy fraction were replaced. To give but one example, the complete security staff at the royal palaces of Nineveh and Kabu was dismissed … it is of course understood that these men were not sent into retirement:

They will have been executed.

Henceforth, Esarhaddon met his environs as a rule with overwhelming distrust. Routinely, he sought to establish by means of oracular queries whether certain courtiers,

officials and even members of the royal family wished him ill or actively tried to harm him ….

 

Mackey’s comment: Hence that complete distrust of “Chaldean” sages in the Book of Daniel?

Karen Radner continues:

 

If he seems to have been wary of his male relatives, he appears to have entertained less suspicions about the women of his family. This is certainly one of reason why Esarhaddon’s mother Naqi’a, his wife Ešarra-ḫammat and his eldest daughter Šerua-eṭirat were able to wield an amount of influence that has few parallels in Ancient Near Eastern history …. The power of his wife was much noticed even outside palace circles; it is quite extraordinary that her death in the year 673 is mentioned prominently in two contemporary chronicle texts”. The devoted widower had a mausoleum erected and special rites for his wife’s funerary care installed …. Even more remarkable, he did not get married again …

 

Mackey’s comment: But is that statement true only under his guise of Esarhaddon?

Karen Radner continues:

 

… the vacant position of the Assyrian queen was hitherto occupied by his mother Naqi’a … who had already played an important role in Esarhaddon’s appointment as crown prince and in his eventual taking of power: This is most obvious from a prophecy which records the encouraging words of Ištar of Arbela to Naqi’a during the time of Esarhaddon’s exile …. That also the daughter Šerua-eṭirat occupied a prominent position at her father’s court is known from some letters that speaks of her self-confidence …. Her far-reaching influence is apparent from the fact that in later years she acted as a mediator in the conflict between her brothers, the kings of Assyria and Babylon …; this is without parallel for any Near Eastern woman of that time.

Esarhaddon’s general distrust against his environment is also mirrored by his choice of residence. He had a palace in the city of Kalbu … adapted which his forefather Shalmaneser III (858-824) had constructed as an armoury some two centuries earlier. This building was situated far from the administrative and cultic centre of the city, on top of a seperate [sic] mound that protected it well from its surroundings. In the years between 676 and 672, Esarhaddon had the old building renovated and enhanced, turning it into a veritable stronghold: The gateways especially were turned into strongly fortified and impregnable towers that, if needed, could be used to seal off the palace against the rest of the city. The only access to the building was through a narrow entrance, leading into a long and steep hallway inside the enclosing wall which was protected by a sequence of severa1 heavy doors and which steeply ascended towards the palace. Esarhaddon had a similar palace erected in Nineveh, also far removed from the acropolis proper at Kuyunjik on the separate mound of Nebi Yunus …; however, as this is today the site of one of Mossul’s most important mosques, the building is only insufficiently explored ….

In the first years of his rule, Esarhaddon proved himself a successful regent who, after a chaotic start, was able to consolidate his kingship and efficiently prevented segregation and territorial losses. Treacherous vassals, who had thought Assyria weakened and had tried to benefit from this, had to come to the painful realisation that Esarhaddon fully controlled his governors and his army and was able to take revenge for treason in the same way as his predecessors had done: As a consequence, the vassal kingdoms of Sidon and of Šubria were conquered and turned into Assyrian provinces …. The completion of a peace treaty with Elam, Assyria’s long-standing rival in Iran, in the year 674 must be seen as a skilful political manoeuvre, and the securing of the Eastern border provided Assyria for the first time ever with the chance to attempt and exploit the power vacuum in Egypt to its own advantages – Assyria’s first invasion into Egypt, however, ended with a defeat against Taharqa the Nubian, and a hasty retreat ….

At that time it had become increasingly clear that Esarhaddon’s physical condition was poorly: He was constantly struck with illness, mostly of a rather severe nature. For days, he withdrew to his sleeping quarters and refused food, drink and, most disturbingly, any human company …

 

Mackey’s comment: (Daniel 4:24-25): ‘It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men …’.

Karen Radner continues:

 

… the death of his beloved wife in the year 673 may well have further damaged his already fragile health. For the all powerful king of Assyria, this situation was bizarre. Esarhaddon’s counsellors witnessed his deterioration first with apprehension and then with increasing objection, but were of course not in a position to actually change the state of affairs.

It is a testament to Assyria’s sound administrative structure that the country could take the king’s continuing inability to act his part. Modern day man may well be able to muster considerable sympathy for Esarhaddon whose symptoms were indeed rather alarming: As we know from the correspondence left by the roya1 physicians and exorcists … his days were governed by spells of fever and dizziness, violent fits of vomiting, diarrhoea and painful earaches. Depressions and fear of impending death were a constant in his life. In addition, his physical appearance was affected by the marks of a permanent skin rash that covered large parts of his body and especially his face. In one letter, the king’s personal physician – certainly a medical professional at the very top of his league – was forced to confess his ultimate inability to help the king: ,,My lord, the king, keeps telling me: ‘Why do you not identify the nature of my disease and find a cure?’ As 1 told the king already in person, his symptoms cannot be classified.” While Esarhaddon’s experts pronounced themselves incapable of identifying the king’s illness, modern day specialists have tried to use the reported symptoms in order to come up with a diagnosis in retrospect?’. However, it is not entirely clear whether the sickly Esarhaddon contracted one illness after the other or, as would seem more likely, suffered from the afflictions of a chronic disease that never left for good. Be that as it may, in a society that saw illness as a divine punishment, a king who was constantly confined to the sick bay could not expect to meet with sympathy and understanding. He could, however, reasonably presume that his subjects saw his affliction at the very least as an indication that the gods lacked goodwill towards their ruler, if not as the fruit of divine wrath, incurred by committing some heinous crime. Therefore, the king’s condition needed to be hidden from the public by all means, and that this was at all feasible was very much facilitated by the ancient tradition that whoever came before the king had to be veiled and on their knee.

Because of his failing health, Esarhaddon saw himself permanently in death’s clutches; this alone made it necessary to provide for his succession: Who would be king after him? There were a great many possible candidates: Esarhaddon himself had fathered at least 18 children but, some of them suffered, like their father, from a frail condition and needed permanent medical attention”. It would appear that sickly sons were, just like all the daughters, deemed unfit from the start: After all, only a man without fault could be king of Assyria. ….