Daniel 9’s “cut off’ Messiah

The Revelation of Daniel Chapter 9

Part One:

A Jewish scholar clarifies the main terms

  

by

Damien F. Mackey

  

 

“And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing.

And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.

Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed”.

 Daniel 9:26

 

 

Introduction

 

Daniel’s famous prophecy of the Seventy Weeks “has been”, according to J. Paul Tanner, “one of the most notorious interpretive problem passages in Old Testament studies” (“IS DANIEL’S SEVENTY-WEEKS PROPHECY MESSIANIC?”).

Many see this prophecy as referring to Jesus Christ the Messiah, his Death and Resurrection, and thereby regard it as a most important piece of chronology for dating the era of Jesus Christ, based on Daniel 9:25: “… from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks …”.

That is, 434 years (for the “sixty-two weeks”).

 

And this is precisely how I have long regarded, and have calculated, this prophecy.

 

In more recent times though, however, I have come to reject the notion that the prophet Daniel’s periods of “Weeks” are meant to be taken as chronological projections well into the future. And, with this, has inevitably come about the new conclusion of mine that the “cut off” Messiah can by no means be a reference to Jesus Christ himself.

On the contrary, the person to whom I believe Daniel’s prophecy is here pointing was actually a most wicked biblical character who was, in the end – and as according to this prophecy – left with “nothing” (with no descendants).

 

Not least of my reasons for rejecting that there could have been approximately 500 years (Daniel’s “Seventy Weeks”) between the era of Daniel and that of Jesus Christ is the fact that:

 

Medo-Persian History [is] Archaeologically Light. Part One: Introductory

 

https://www.academia.edu/31090097/Medo-Persian_History_Archaeologically_Light._Part_One_Introductory

 

For more, read this multi-part series.

 

In my related article:

Persian History has no adequate Archaeology

https://www.academia.edu/31113083/Persian_History_has_no_adequate_Archaeology

 

I began with the following quotation: The very existence of a Median empire, with the emphasis on empire, is thus questionable” (H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, “Was there ever a Median Empire?”). Although there was a Medo-Persian empire, it was far briefer, with far fewer kings, than according to the textbook estimates.

 

Scholars down through the centuries have not been unanimous in their interpretations of the meaning of the Daniel 9 text.

Whilst many have regarded it as being Messianic (with reference to Jesus Christ), others have not. And even the Church Fathers, who generally tended to relate it to Jesus Christ, were by no means unanimous in their explanations of the various details of the prophecy.

This is apparent from J. Paul Tanner’s introduction to the subject:

https://www.dts.edu/download/publications/bibliotheca/DTS-Is%20Daniel%27s%20Seventy-Weeks%20Prophecy%20Messianic.pdf

 

THE SEVENTY-WEEKS PROPHECY IN DANIEL 9:24–27 has been one of the most notorious interpretive problem passages in Old Testament studies. As Montgomery put it, “The history of the exegesis of the 70 Weeks is the Dismal Swamp of O.T. criticism.” 1 Early church fathers commonly embraced a messianic interpretation of the passage and sought to prove a chronological computation for the time of Messiah’s coming based on this prophecy. This approach has been favored by many conservatives—both premillennial and amillennial—down through the centuries. Advocates of the messianic view differ over the details of interpretation (e.g., the number of times Messiah is referred to in the passage, the termini of the calculations, or how the final seventieth week relates to the first sixty-nine), but they agree that this passage is one of the most astounding references to the Lord Jesus Christ and the time of His first advent.

 

On the other hand some writers see no reference to Messiah in this passage. This includes most critical scholars, who typically favor a Maccabean fulfillment (i.e., in the second century B.C.), and Jewish exegetes, who—although differing about various details—tend to see the fulfillment of this passage with the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 and/or its aftermath. ….

[End of quote]

 

I have noted in past articles (particularly relating to early Genesis) how a superficial reading of a given biblical text, without one’s really coming to grips with the proper meaning of the Hebrew words or with the intentions of the ancient scribe(s), can lead to weird and wonderful interpretations of the Bible that such interpreters will then insist is the infallible Word of God. A classic case in point is the great Noachic Flood, which has become, in the hands of sincere Fundamentalists, or ‘Creationists’, a global Flood complete with a Queen Mary sized ship, that I think would have been a complete surprise to Noah and his family.

And the same situation has occurred, I believe, with Daniel 9, which has had all of its Jewish meaning emptied out of it, thereby ‘enabling’ for a marvellous long-range Messianic prophecy, culminating in Jesus Christ himself.

And, in the process, the historical chronology of the ancient world has been totally mangled.

 

Thankfully, there is a Jewish scholar at hand to clarify certain meanings.

I refer to Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz’s (“Daniel 9 – A True Biblical Interpretation. A brief explanation of Daniel Chapter 9”):

https://jewsforjudaism.org/knowledge/articles/daniel-9-a-true-biblical-interpretation/

in which article I find some important lessons pertaining to the Hebrew words – though I would not accept the Rabbi’s conventionally-based chronology and dates.

Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz writes:

 

The book of Daniel is filled with Messianic illusions and calculations that even left Daniel pondering their meanings. …. Is there something about the Jewish Messiah?

 

Daniel Chapter 9

 

The ninth chapter has been of particular interest to both Jews and Christians. The message of a merciful God communicated in verse 18, “for not because of our righteousness do we pour out supplications before You, but because of Your great compassion.” has been a foundation of a Jews personal and spiritual relationship with God. Christians, on the other hand, tend to focus on verses 24 -26. The following is the Christian translation of those verses:

 

24) Seventy weeks are determined upon your people and upon your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

25)Know therefore and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again with plaza and moat but in troubled times.
26) Then after sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off but not for himself and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.”

 

Many Christians assert that these passages are a prophecy that predicts the exact dates that the Messiah will come and also die. They believe that Jesus fulfilled these predictions. Before examining these verses it is important to point out that: 1) Based on the Hebrew original and context, Jews have very valid reasons for rejecting the Christian interpretation and 2) the New Testament authors never quote these passages and calculations as a proof-text.

 

To understand this chapter, we must begin with an explanation of the term “weeks.”

 

Daniel chapter 9 uses the Hebrew word (שבעים ~ Shavuim) to represents a period of time multiplied by seven. For various reasons this word is translated as “weeks” and means a multiple of seven years rather than a multiple of seven days.

 

  1. a) We see a similar use in the verse, “You shall count~ שבע שבתת השנים) seven Shabbaths of years), seven years seven times… forty-nine years.Leviticus 25:8
    b) A Shabbath is a period of seven days and shares the same Hebrew root for the word (שבועה~Shavuah) that means “week”.
  2. c) Normally the plural of week would be (שבעות ~ Shavuot) in Daniel it uses the masculine “ים” ending for ( שבעים~ Shavuim) similar to (years ~ שנים) This indicates that (שבעים~ Shavuim) is referring to a multiple of seven years
    d) Both Jews and Christian agree that this is referring to a multiple of years.

 

Therefore in Daniel chapter 9, each week is a period of seven years.

 

Christian polemicists interpret these passages in the following way. These passages are being spoken by Daniel after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the evil Babylonian empire. At some point after the destruction, there will be a “decree” issued to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Starting from the issuing of that decree, 7 and 62 weeks totaling 69 weeks of years (483 years), will pass and then the Messiah will come and in that same seven year period “week” he will be cut off, but not for himself, but for the sins of mankind. Then the city and sanctuary will be destroyed. Christian assert that their calculation proves that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy to the exact day.

 

After the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, any Jews that survived the Babylonian slaughter were exiled from their land. Daniel, for example, lived in Babylon. Eventually, the Babylonians were conquered by the Persian Empire. Christians claim that the decree mentioned in Daniel 9:25 was issued by the Persian King Artaxerxes in the year 444 BCE, based on Nehemiah 2:1-8. These passages speak about the king giving Nehemiah “letters” (אגרות ~ Iggrot) for safe passage and permission to rebuild the Temple.

 

The building of Jerusalem was started and halted several times, and there are three additional decrees mentioned earlier in the Bible.

1) In Ezra 1:1-4, King Cyrus issues a proclamation (קול ~ Kol) and writings (מכתב ~ Michtav) granting the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.
2) Ezra 6:12-13, King Darius issues a decree (טעם ~Taam) granting permission to rebuilt the Temple.

3) Ezra 7:11-16, Artaxerxex, issues a decree (טעם ~Taam) granting permission to rebuilt the Temple. (Artaxerxex is a Persian title of royalty and can refer to different leaders. This is similar to the way Pharaoh is the title of rulers of Egypt)

 

We will see latter that it is significant that in these verses there are four different words used to describe these proclamations, and none of them match the Hebrew word used in Daniel 9 which is (דבר ~ Devar) that means “word.”

 

With four different proclamations, there is no historical justification to choose the one mentioned in Nehemiah 2 and there is no reliable source stating that it occurred exactly in 444 BCE. It seems that Christians picked this passage out of convenience and assigned it this specific date, because if you start at 444 BCE and count 69 weeks of years (483 years) you reach 39 CE. Whatever their reason for choosing Nehemiah’s reference and attributing it as having occurred in 444 BCE it is still seven years off from the year 32 CE when Jesus supposedly died.

 

This seven-year discrepancy is resolved by Christian theologians who redefined the definition of a “year.” They claim that prophecies like Daniel’s are to be understood in “Prophetic years” that have 360 days rather than 365 ¼ days. The argument that Daniel might be speaking to Babylonians who may have had a 360 year is unsubstantiated and refuted by the fact that this particular passage is spoken in Hebrew to Jews who had a different calendar then and Babylonians who spoke Aramaic.

 

Prophetic Year vs Solar Year

 

One Christian attempt to prove this concept of Prophetic years is from the New Testament: “They will tread underfoot the holy city for 42 months, and they will prophesy for 1260 days.Revelations 11:2-3

 

By dividing 1260 (days) by 42 (months) you get 30 days per month, they claim that each month is 30 days and a Prophetic Biblical year would therefore be being 360 days (30×12=360). An additional proof-text utilizes the events surrounding the flood. The following verses are quoted to show how biblical months were periods of 30 days,

 

the water prevailed upon the earth 150 daysGen 7:24 and

the flood started on,

the 17th day of the second monthGen 7:11, and ended on,

the 17th day of the seventh month.” Gen 8:4.

 

They argue that by taking this exact five month period and dividing it into the 150 days, you will see that there must be five months of 30 days each and therefore a year would be 360 days. The Christian argument continues that the difference between a solar year of 365 ¼ days and the so-called prophetic year of 360 days is what caused the seven-year discrepancy in their interpretation of Daniel 9, and the resolution of the problem is accomplished by converting the time period from “biblical” years to solar years.

 

They argue that that by multiplying 360 days by 483 years (69 weeks of years) you get 173,880 prophetic days. To convert this to solar years, you divide the 173,880 days by 365 1/4 (days), and you will get 476 years.

444 BCE plus 476 years will give you the year 32 CE, which they claim is the year that Jesus not only made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Messiah’s arrival) but was also crucified (cut off ).

 

Before explaining why this line of reasoning is absolutely false and a simply an act of desperation to resolve their 7 year miscalculation, we must explore the correct meaning of Daniel 9 and the concept of a Jewish calendar year.

 

Translating Daniel Correctly

 

It is essential to a correct understanding of Daniel 9, to point out that it is incorrect to read this passage as if it were speaking about the Messiah. This may appear obvious to Christians since their translations has the word “Messiah” mentioned twice in this chapter; however this is the result of a blatant and intentional mistranslation of the Hebrew word (משיח ~ Moshiach”).

 

This word literally means “anointed” and is an adjective as in the 1 Samuel 10:1-2 where the word clearly means an act of consecration. It is not a personal pronoun that refers to a particular individual called “The Messiah.” The word (משיח ~ Moshiach”) is used throughout Jewish Scriptures no less than 100 times and refers to a variety of individuals and objects. For example:

 

Priests: Leviticus 4:3

Kings: 1 Kings 1:39

Prophets: Isaiah 61:1

Temple Alter: Exodus 40:9-11

Matzot ~ Unleavened Bread: Numbers 6:15

Cyrus ~ a non-Jewish Persian King: Isaiah 45:1

 

Even in Christian translations, the word Moshiach is translated 99% of the time as “anointed.” The only exception is twice in Daniel 9 verses 25 and 26. This inconsistency is even more blatant since Christian translators translate the word (משיח ~ Moshiach) as “anointed” one verse earlier when it is used in Daniel 9:24. In this instance, it is referring to anointing the innermost chamber of the Holy Temple known as the “Holy of Holies,” (קדשים קדש ~ Kodesh Kedoshim). It is incorrect to translate this, as some missionaries do, to mean the “most holy one” in an attempt to have this refer to the Messiah rather than a place.

 

Therefore, in Daniel, the passages should be correctly translated as:

 

Daniel 9:24Until an anointed prince” and not as “Until Messiah he prince.”

 

Daniel 9:25 “an anointed one will be cut off” and not as “the Messiah will be cut off.”

 

Additionally, in verse 25 there is no definite article (Hey ~ ה) before the word (משיח ~ Moshiach), and it is incorrect to translate this as “the Messiah” or “the anointed one” as if it were speaking about one exclusive individual. When translating correctly as an “anointed individual,7” the passages could be referring any one of a number of different individuals or objects that were anointed and not necessarily “the Messiah.”

 

A careful examination of Daniel 9 will lead to a clear understand of exactly to whom and what this chapter is referring. An additional mistake made by Christians is the translation of 7 and 62 weeks as one undivided unity of 69 weeks. The Christian version makes it sound as if the arrival and “cutting off” of the “Messiah” will take place sixty-nine weeks (483 years) after a decree to restore Jerusalem. They add the 7 and 62 weeks together and have one person (the Messiah) and two events occurring towards the end of the 69th week.

 

Actually, according to the Hebrew the 7 and 62 weeks are two separate and distinct periods. One event happens after seven weeks and another event after an additional 62 weeks. Simply put, if you wanted to say 69 in Hebrew you would say “sixty and nine.” You would not say “seven and sixty two.”

 

Furthermore, in Daniel it is written “7 weeks and 62 weeks rather than “7 and 62 weeks.” The use of the word “weeks” after each number also shows that they are separate events. The use of the definite article (ה ~ Hey) that means “the” in verse 26, “and after the 62 weeks shall an anointed one be cut off,” is sometimes deleted in Christian translations, but it’s presence in the Hebrew original clearly indicates that the 62 weeks is to be treated as separate period of time from the original 7 weeks.

 

The correct translation should be: “until an anointed prince shall be 7 weeks (49 years),” “then for 62 weeks (434 years) it (Jerusalem) will be built again but in troubled times.” Then after (those) the 62 weeks shall an anointed one will be cut off.Daniel 9:24-25

 

Two separate events and anointed ones, 62 weeks (434 years) apart.

 

Christians also incorrectly translated the Hebrew (V’ayn Lo ~ לו ואין), at the end of Daniel 9:26. They translate it that he will be cut off “but not for himself,” as if it refers to someone being cut off not for himself but cut off for us and indicating a form of vicarious attainment. However the Hebrew original means “and he will be no more” literally “and no more of him” and indicates the finality of his demise. Interestingly the Hebrew word (kares ~ כרת) translated as “cut off” biblically refers to someone who has sinned so grievously that they are put to death by heavenly decree as a divine punishment for their own transgressions.

 

Mackey’s comment: As I wrote above, “… the person to whom I believe Daniel’s prophecy is here pointing was actually a most wicked biblical character who was, in the end – and as according to this prophecy – left with “nothing” (with no descendants)”.

The Rabbi continues:

 

An awareness of these eight mistranslations is essential to understanding the ninth chapter of Daniel. To recap:

 

  1. (קדשים קדש) mean “holy of holies” not the “most holy one
  2. (דבר ~ Devar) that means “word” not decree.
  3. (משיח ~ Moshiach”) means “anointed” not “Messiah” verse 23
  4. (משיח ~ Moshiach”) means “anointed” not “Messiah” verse 24
  5. seven weeks and sixty-two ” means two events one at 7 weeks and the other

62 weeks later not one event after a cumulative 69 weeks

  1. (Hey ~ ה) mean “the
  2. (V’ayn Lo ~ לו ואין) mean “will be no more” not “not for himself
  3. (kares ~ כרת) means death to a transgressor the cuts off their relationship to God.

 

Jewish Calendar Years

 

In addition to … these eight mistranslations Christians, as mentioned above, manipulate their calculation of the 69 weeks in Daniel 9 in an attempt to have them coincide with the arrival and death of Jesus in Jerusalem.

 

Christians based their understand with a belief that the starting point of the prophesy begins in 444 BCE with the decree issued by King Artaxerxex (Ezra 7:ll-16). Sixty–nine weeks (483 years) would bring you to 39 CE. This is 7 years off the commonly accepted date of 32 CE being the year Jesus was put to death. As mentioned above they attempt to resolve this issue by transforming “prophetic years” into solar years. The problem is that according to Jewish tradition and scriptures there is no such thing as a prophetic year of 360 days.

 

Jewish scripture clearly teaches that the Jewish calendar is both Solar and Lunar. As early as Genesis 1:14, that deals with the creation of the sun and the moon, we are told that “Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years” Both luminaries are used to determine our calendar.

 

A solar year is 365 1/4 days and a lunar year is 11 days shorter, 354 days long. Unlike the Gentile’s year where the length of the months is set by convention rather than a relationship to the lunar calendar, a Biblical Jewish calendar must coincide with both the sun (for seasons) and the moon. When God, commanded the people of Israel to sanctify the months he established the month that the Exodus took place as the first of the months. Exodus 12:1. God also commanded to observe Passover in the springtime as is says, “Observe the month of springtime and perform the Passover for God, for in the month on springtime God took you out of Egypt.” Deut 16:1.

 

In other words, a biblical calendar must coincide the months with the seasons creating a Solar-Lunar calendar.

 

There is an eleven day difference between a solar and lunar year. If Jewish holidays were established solely by a lunar year the holidays would move further and further away from their original seasons. This happens all the time with the Muslim Lunar calendar with Ramadan falling in a variety of seasons. A biblical Solar/Lunar calendar corrects this by adding a 13 month leap year approximately every 4 years. Some years have 12 months and the leap year has 13. The fabricated “prophetic year” of 360 days could not exist because it would not allow Jewish holidays to coincide with both months and seasons.

 

Understanding Daniel

 

Now we can return to the beginning of Daniel 9 and establish the correct starting point for Daniel’s prophesy. The Christian major error in establishing the starting point of Daniel prophesy is caused by their mistranslation of the verse, “know therefore and discern that from the going forth of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:25

 

Since their translation asserts that the starting point of this prophesy is from the issuing of a certain decree to rebuild Jerusalem, they incorrectly assume that it is the decree of King Artaxerxex. However, as mentioned above, there were a number of different decrees made concerning returning and rebuilding Jerusalem.

 

In Daniel 9:25, the original Hebrew used the word (דבר ~ Devar) which is significantly different from a human decree. The word (דבר ~ Devar) refers to a prophetic word. In the beginning of Daniel 9 verse 2, this word is used when Daniel says that he wants to understand “the word of the Lord to the Prophet Jeremiah.”

 

As mentioned above, in all of the passages that mention some form of decree or proclamation concerning Jerusalem, none of them use the Hebrew word (דבר ~ Devar).

 

The correct translation of Daniel should be: “Know therefore and discern that from the going forth of the word to restore and rebuild JerusalemDaniel 9:25

 

Therefore the correct starting point of Daniel’s prophesy must be associated with the issuing of a prophetic word and not a human decree. The word (דבר ~ Devar) is used in the beginning of Daniel chapter 9. A careful reading of the beginning of this chapter clarifies the correct meaning of the reference to the “word to restore and to build Jerusalem” mentioned in Daniel 9:25.

 

Chapter 9 begins as follows: “I Daniel considered (or contemplated) in the books the number of the years which the word (דבר ~ Devar) of G-d came to Jeremiah the Prophet that would accomplish to the destruction of JerusalemDaniel 9:2

 

Here Daniel uses the word (דבר ~ Devar) when pondering the numbers of years that Jeremiah had spoken about. Jeremiah had twice prophesied concerning a 70 year period.

 

Once Jeremiah said: “and these nation shall serve the King of Babylon 70 years and it shall come to pass when seventy years are accomplished that I will punish the King of Babylon and that nation … and make it everlasting desolation Jeremiah 25: 11-12

 

This prophesy states that Babylon would dominate Israel for a total of 70 years.

 

Jeremiah also says: “After 70 years are accomplished to Babylon I will take heed of you and perform My good word towards you in causing you to return to this place.” Jeremiah 29:l0

 

This prophesy states, that after the 70 years, in addition to the end of Babylonian domination, the Jews would also return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile. There are two Jeremiah prophesies concerning: 1) subjugation, and 2) return to Jerusalem.

 

Jeremiah’s 70 years start from the initial subjugation of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. This took place 18 years before the destruction of Jerusalem, as demonstrated by the following passages, We know that the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in the 19th year of King Nebuchadnezzar. As it says:

 

In the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the chief executioner was in service of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem… and destroyed the Temple of GodJeremiah 52:12-13

 

The 19th year means that 18 full years had already been completed. Nebuchadnezzar started to subjugate Jerusalem in his first year of his rule; this can be derived from the following verses;

 

in King Yehoyakim’s third year (three completed years) Nebuchadnezzar came to besiege JerusalemDaniel 1:1

 

in the fourth year (three completed years) of Yehoyakim which was the first year of NebuchadnezzarJeremiah 25:1

 

These verses demonstrate that Nebuchadnezzar started to besiege Jerusalem in his first year and the destruction of Jerusalem took place in his “19th” year. Therefore, 18 complete years had passed from the beginning of the siege until the destruction of Jerusalem. During these 18 years Jerusalem was laid siege and completely surrounded. Scriptures also indicate that the 70 years of Jeremiah were completed with the advent of Cyrus the King of the Persian Empire. As it says:

 

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled.” Ezra 1:1-3

 

“Those who survived the sword he exiled to Babylon, where they became slaves to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia began to reign. This was the fulfillment of the word of God to Jeremiah, until the land would be appeased of its Sabbatical years, all the years of its desolation it rested, to the completion of 70 years. In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, upon the expiration of God’s prophesy spoken by Jeremiah. God aroused the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia and he issues a proclamation… to build God a Temple in Jerusalem.” 2 Chronicles 36:20-23

 

In addition to the Babylonian rule ended in fulfillment of Jeremiah 25:11-12, Cyrus also gave permission, in fulfillment of Jeremiah 29:l0, to the Jews to return to Jerusalem, as it says;

 

Whoever is among you all his people, let his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord G-d of Israel.” Ezra 1:4

 

It is important to remember that from the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, 18 years before the fall of Jerusalem, until the fall of the Babylonian Empire, when Cyrus came into power, 70 years had elapsed. By subtracting the 18 years subjugation before the destruction of the first Temple from the total of 70 years we are left with 52 years. This proves that King Cyrus arose to power and fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophesy 52 years after the destruction of Jerusalem.

 

Mackey’s comment: This “52 years” is, I believe, too large a figure for the period in question.

I think that Jeremiah’s “70 years” ought instead to be dated from the 13th year of king Josiah, which was 23 years from the 1st year of Nebuchednezzar, as according to this most important of OT chronological entries (Jeremiah 25:1-3):

 

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

 

And at this point we can leave the Rabbi’s excellent and most helpful discourse as, from now on, his identification of Medo-Persian kings begins greatly to confuse matters – at least according to my own arrangement and identification of these monarchs.

 

 

Jonah resurrected

Jonah & the Fish

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

The author intends to demonstrate in this article that the prophet Jonah’s intervention in Nineveh was a true historical event.

Part One:

Focus on Esarhaddon

A: Historical ‘moment’

 

The historical ‘window of opportunity’ that I am going to propose here as best fitting the Jonah narrative will be one that I have already suggested before.

However, due to a then imperfect appreciation of the degree of historical revision required, I had had to drop that particular model as being unworkable.

Since that first effort, however, I have streamlined the histories of Israel, Judah, Assyria and Babylonia, and that will now make all the difference.

The historical moment that I identify as that best suiting the intervention in “the great city of Nineveh”, נִינְוֵה, הָעִיר הַגְּדוֹלָה, by the prophet Jonah (Jonah 1:2), is the ‘moment’ when King Esarhaddon was in the throes of trying to secure Nineveh from his older brothers, two of whom had assassinated the previous Assyrian king, Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:37).

There may never have been a more dire or foreboding moment in time for the Assyrian people.

Had it not only recently been preceded by the utter rout of the proud king Sennacherib’s Assyrian army of 185,000 men. (v. 35)?

And, as we are going to find out (in Appendix B), Esarhaddon’s crisis situation, now, was very much due to the fact that he had been personally involved in that horrendous and unprecedented humiliation of the highly-vaunted Assyrian army.

The Book of Tobit – which will actually refer to Jonah’s mission to Nineveh (Tobit 14:4) – seems to echo Jonah’s threat (Jonah 3:4): “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown”, when it repeats that very same time period (Tobit 1:21. NRSV): “But not forty days passed before two of Sennacherib’s sons killed him, and they fled to the mountains of Ararat. A son of his, Esarhaddon, succeeded him as king”. {Though other ancient authorities read for Tobit 1:21 either forty-five or fifty}.

Sennacherib himself – who was, just prior to his demise, in the process of hunting down the honourable Tobit to kill him (Tobit 1:19) – would seem to be a least likely candidate, amongst the Assyrian kings, for Jonah’s repentant “the king of Nineveh” (Jonah 3:6). And I don’t think any commentator has ever put forward Sennacherib as being a possible candidate.
Esarhaddon, on the other hand – {who (under the benign influence of Ahiqar) would allow for Tobit to return home (Tobit 1:22): “Then Ahiqar interceded on my behalf, and I returned to Nineveh. Ahiqar had been chief cupbearer, keeper of the signet ring, treasury accountant, and credit accountant under Sennacherib, king of the Assyrians; and Esarhaddon appointed him as Second to himself”} – seems to have been surprisingly tolerant towards exilic Israel.

A footnote to this Jonah-Tobit connection: The non-historical, composite character, the Prophet Mohammed, whose biography tells of his various associations with “Nineveh”, all quite anachronistic of course (as Nineveh was completely lost from sight long before the supposed AD era of Mohammed), claimed that the prophet Jonah was his brother. “Muhammad asked Addas where he was from and the servant replied Nineveh. “The town of Jonah the just, son of Amittai!” Muhammad exclaimed. Addas was shocked because he knew that the pagan Arabs had no knowledge of the prophet Jonah. He then asked how Muhammad knew of this man. “We are brothers,” Muhammad replied”.” (Summarized from The Life of the Prophet by Ibn Hisham Volume 1 pp. 419–421).
And the names of Mohammed’s parents, ‘Abdullah and Amna, are virtually identical to those of Tobit’s son, Tobias, namely Tobit (= ‘Obadiah = ‘Abdiel = ‘Abdullah) and Anna (= Amna) (Tobit 1:9).
Islam also quotes from the wise sayings of Ahiqar, and even has its own Ahiqar in Luqman, known as “the Ahiqar of the Arabs”: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=_zvXrQ7W7PEC&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&dq=luqman+and+ahiqar

 

B: Esarhaddon a repenting king

 

Moreover Esarhaddon was, as we shall soon learn, a king who, like Jonah’s “king of Nineveh”, was known to have clothed himself with sackcloth as if in the guise of a sinner.

And he certainly favoured the issuing of royal edicts or decrees – (see below, “a public proclamation”).

He also, early, appears to have had the solidarity-support of his people (cf. Jonah 3:5-6).
Thus Izabela Eph’al-Jaruzelska, “2016 Esarhaddon’s Claim of Legitimacy in an Hour of Crisis: Sociological Observations” (p. 126):

https://www.academia.edu/25716205/2016_Esarhaddons_Claim_of_Legitimacy_in_an_Hour_of_Crisis_Sociological_Observations/

“The Apology mentions the oath sworn to Esarhaddon by the people of Assyria and the king’s brothers before the gods at his nomination as Sennacherib’s successor. …. This public ceremony was intended to express submission and obedience to the king in a solemn way. This oath is invoked as the basis of the loyalty manifested by the people of Assyria when they refused to join the rebellion of those who opposed Esarhaddon’s accession to the Assyrian throne. ….

“It also furnished grounds for the homage the people of Assyria paid to Esarhaddon after his victory over the rebels. …. A public proclamation of Esarhaddon as king during his struggle with the rebels also manifests the people’s consent”. [End of quote]

Esarhaddon will turn out to be amongst the strangest and most complex kings of antiquity, possibly the most pious and superstitious of all kings, outdoing others with his cruelty and vengefulness, terrifying, at times quite mad, completely paranoid, highly literate, a phenomenal (no doubt, oftentimes, lying) propagandist, yet a king also capable of deep contrition and acknowledgement of a supreme deity.

But we shall need to meet him in his various powerful guises, or alter egos, which is an integral feature of my revision. (See Appendix A and Appendix B)

It ought to be noted that, apart from his name, Esarhaddon (“Akkadian: Aššur-aḫa-iddina, meaning “Ashur has given me a brother”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esarhaddon), “Esarhaddon had the further name of Ashur-etil-ilani-mukin-apli”. (http://www.attalus.org/armenian/kvan1.htm). “Akkadian: Aššur-etil-ilāni … , meaning “Ashur is the lord of the gods”,” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashur-etil-ilan), and “mukin-apli” meaning [Ashur] “(is) establisher of a legitimate heir,”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nab%C3%BB-mukin-apli
This will become important later, in the appendices.

As Esarhaddon alone (qua Esarhaddon), though, we know from one of the king’s inscriptions that he humbled himself with “sackcloth”. Thus writes John H. Walton (Genesis, 2001): “The Akkadian term for sackcloth is basamu. The most relevant usage of it is in an Esarhaddon inscription in which he is said to have “wrapped his body in sackcloth befitting a penitent sinner” ….”.

Cf. Jonah 3:6: “When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, wrapped himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust”.

There may be an even more relevant text, which I like to think is a reference to the very Jonah incident. The quote is from professor A. H. Sayce (The Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia, 1903), as cited by D. E. Hart-Davies in Jonah: Prophet and Patriot (1925):

“Already we possess proof from the cuneiform tablets that the Bible account of Nineveh’s repentance is described in a manner which exactly coincides with Assyrian custom. “It was just such a fast”, says Professor Sayce, “as was ordained by Esar-haddon when the northern foe was gathering against the Assyrian empire, and prayers were raised to the Sun-god to ‘remove the sin’ of the king and his people.

‘From this day’, runs the inscription, ‘from the third day of this month, even the month of Iyyar, to the fifteenth day of Ab of this year, for these hundred days and hundred nights the prophets have proclaimed (a period of supplication)’. The prophets of Nineveh had declared that it was needful to appease the anger of heaven, and the king accordingly issued his proclamation enjoining the solemn service of humiliation for one hundred days”.” [End of quotes]

This situation of anxiety, as described by professor A. H. Sayce, must almost certainly be tied up with the above: “A public proclamation of Esarhaddon as king during his struggle with the rebels also manifests the people’s consent”.

Wikipedia’s article “Esarhaddon” has some highly interesting information on Esarhaddon’s paranoia, and his efforts to secure his safety during that above-mentioned “hundred days” period: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esarhaddon

 

“As a result of his tumultuous rise to the throne, Esarhaddon was distrustful of his servants, vassals and family members. He frequently sought the advice of oracles and priests on whether any of his relatives or officials wished to harm him.[10] ….

….

Esarhaddon’s paranoia was also reflected by where he chose to live. One of his main residences was a palace in the city of Kalhu originally constructed as an armory by his predecessor Shalmaneser III …. Rather than occupying a central and visible spot within the cultic and administrative center of the city, this palace was located in its outskirts on a separate mound which made it well-protected. Between 676 and 672 [sic], the palace was strengthened with its gateways being modified into impregnable fortifications which could seal the entire building off completely from the city. If these entrances were sealed, the only way into the palace would be through a steep and narrow path protected by several strong doors. A similar palace, also located on a separate mound far from the city center, was built at Nineveh. ….

….

… he performed the “substitute king” ritual, an ancient Assyrian method intended to protect and shield the king from imminent danger announced by some sort of omen. Esarhaddon had performed the ritual earlier in his reign, but this time it left him unable to command his invasion of Egypt. ….

The “substitute king” ritual involved the Assyrian monarch going into hiding for a hundred days, during which a substitute (preferably one with mental deficiencies) took the king’s place by sleeping in the royal bed, wearing the crown and the royal garbs and eating the king’s food. During these hundred days, the actual king remained hidden and was known only under the alias “the farmer”. The goal of the ritual was that any evil intended for the king would instead be focused on the substitute king, who was killed regardless of if anything had happened at the end of the hundred days, keeping the real monarch safe. …”. [End of quote]

 

Don E. Jones will write (Searching for Jonah: Clues in Hebrew and Assyrian History, 2012): “The ceremony of fasting and putting on sackcloth and ashes was not at all alien to Assyria … the custom … goes back to Sumerian civilization and beyond”.

In the Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, we read: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/jonah-3.html

 

“Even the one feature which is peculiar to the mourning of Nineveh – namely, that the cattle also have to take part in the mourning – is attested by Herodotus (9:24) as an Asiatic custom.

“(Note: Herodotus relates that the Persians, when mourning for their general, Masistios, who had fallen in the battle at Platea, shaved off the hair from their horses, and adds,

“Thus did the barbarians, in their way, mourn for the deceased Masistios.” Plutarch relates the same thing (Aristid. 14 fin. Compare Brissonius, de regno Pers. princip. ii. p. 206; and Periz. ad Aeliani Var. hist. vii. 8). The objection made to this by Hitzig – namely, that the mourning of the cattle in our book is not analogous to the case recorded by Herodotus, because the former was an expression of repentance – has no force whatever, for the simple reason that in all nations the outward signs of penitential mourning are the same as those of mourning for the dead.)” [End of quote]

Cf. Jonah 3:7-8: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God”.

(Cf. Judith 4:10-14)

{The story of the death of Masistios could well be yet another of those countless Greek appropriations (as I have recorded) of originally Hebrew stories, in this case, the death of “Holofernes”.}

 

“Greatest to the least”, “small and great” – Compare Jonah 3:5: “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth”, with: “The use of this general term with the addition of the idiom TUR GAL (ṣeḫer u rabi), “small and great,” simply signifies the totality of Assyrians who were involved in the oath”.

(Izabela Eph’al-Jaruzelska, op. cit., p. 127)

 

C: Is Esarhaddon too late for Jonah?

 

Presuming that Esarhaddon were Jonah’s repentant king, then we must be prepared for a very extensive floruit for the prophet Jonah. He had to have been prophesying already as far back as king Jeroboam II of Israel (2 Kings 14:25): “[Jeroboam] was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher”.

It should be noted that many commentators believe that aspects of the biblical text around 2 Kings 14 are hopelessly corrupt, that v. 28, for instance, about Jeroboam II, “how he recovered for Israel both Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah”, “probably should be understood as referring” (for example, according to the Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, p. 419), “to the fact that Jeroboam II reconquered territory in Galilee and Transjordan held by Hamath and Damascus during the days of [Jeroboam’s predecessor kings of Israel]”.

In conventional terms, from the death of Jeroboam II (c. 740 BC) to the beginning of the reign of Esarhaddon (c. 680 BC), is about 60 years, meaning that Jonah at Nineveh would have to have been around 85-90 years of age.

That is a very old age for someone to have been tossed into a raging sea and swallowed by a sea monster.

The time span, at least, is easily covered by the traditional Jewish estimations of Jonah’s very long life: “[Jonah]  is said to have attained a very advanced age: over 120 years according to Seder Olam Rabbah; 130 according to Sefer Yuchasin …”.

In terms, though, of my revision of Assyrian and Israelite history (see Appendix A), I would estimate Jonah then to have been in his early-to-mid seventies.

 

 

Again in Appendix A we are going to find that Jewish tradition, which also vastly stretches the career of the prophet Jonah, from Jeroboam II to the Assyrian king, “Osnapper”, of Ezra 4:10, has come to the conclusion that there must actually have been ‘two Jonahs’.
No need to go that far, I shall be suggesting.

Many commentators favour for Jonah’s king, Adad-nirari III (c. 810-783 BC), a contemporary of Jeroboam II. Adad-nirari’s supposed preoccupation with the worship of Nebo is often taken as a sign of the king of Assyria’s conversion to monotheism. It has been likened to pharaoh Akhnaton’s Aten worship (actually henotheism). Adad-nirari may simply have been copying that earlier reform. However, according to Don E. Jones (op. cit.): “… as soon as Adad-Nirari could act on his own, he appears to have given the reform no support”. Adad-Nirari had been very young when he came to the throne. “… Adad-nirari III … was too young to rule. It would be left to Queen Sammu-ramat [Semiramis] to restore stability to Assyria through her regency”: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/magazine/2017/09-10/searching-for-semiramis-assyrian-legend/

Some commentators favour the troubled reign (plague, rebellion, even a solar eclipse) of Ashur-Dan III (c. 772 to 755 BC).

Bill Cooper (see D. below) is convinced that Tiglath -pileser III (c. 745-727 BC) was that biblical king.

Despite Cooper’s enthusiasm for his choice, Tiglath-pileser was, like Adad-nirari, like Ashur-Dan III, a typical Assyrian king with nothing during his reign to indicate a phase of serious repentance with a corresponding edict.

Is there any biblical prophet who can meet the chronological requirements of my revised Jonah, spanning from Jeroboam II to late king Hezekiah of Judah (when Esarhaddon came to the throne)?

There is one, and only one, whose superscription, at least, covers that approximate time span. He is the prophet Hosea, according to whose superscription (Hosea 1:1): “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel”.

From Jeroboam (II) all the way down to Hezekiah – the same approximate chronological span as in my revised scenario for Jonah.

{Some critics have difficulty accepting Hosea’s alleged lengthy prophetic range, and must needs ‘correct’ it, by replacing Jeroboam (II) in Hosea 1:1 with some later king(s) of Israel}.

 

Hosea is straightaway told, like Jonah, ‘Go …’ (לֵךְ) (cf. Jonah; Hosea 1:2). That is an immediate likeness. And we are going to discover more like this in the course of this article.

An immediate unlikeness is that, whereas Jonah was “son of Amittai” (as above), Hosea was “son of Beeri”.

The question of suitable alter egos for the prophet Jonah (e.g. Hosea) will be properly discussed in Part Two.

For example, the prophetic career of Amos had also commenced at the time of Jeroboam II (Amos 1:1), and did extend – at least according to my own revision of Amos – all the way down to king Hezekiah of Judah.

Can Amos be Jonah?

Or, was Hosea, Jonah?

D: Why “king of Nineveh”?

One of the many arguments thrown up against the prospect of the Book of Jonah’s being an historical account is its supposed historically inaccurate usage of the phrase “the king of Nineveh” – which actual description the kings of Assyria are said never to have applied to themselves.
I shall come back to this point.

The complete rejection in modern times of the Book of Jonah as an historical document is well described by Bill Cooper in The Historic Jonah (EN Tech. J., vol. 2, 1986, p. 105) https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j02_1/j02_1_105-116.pdf):

 

“Ever since the prophet Jonah first penned the little book that is known by his name, some two thousand six hundred years ago, the most extraordinary notions have circulated concerning both him and his ministry. Some early rabbis claimed that he was the son of the widow of Zarephath, the lad whom Elijah had restored to life. …. Others, yet again, imagined him to have been the servant whom Elisha sent to anoint King Jehu. …. Jonah is also pointed out as having two tombs! One lies at Nineveh, and the other at Jonah’s home-village of Gath-hepher, just a stone’s throw from the town of Nazareth. And so it has gone on down the ages, until today we are informed that Jonah did not even exist! The book of Jonah, we are asked to believe, is nothing more than a pious fable, a moral tale written some time after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Exile; a story told around camp-fires that has all the historical validity of a Grimm’s fairy-tale.

“Unfortunately, and not without incalculable loss, this latest view has prevailed. Most modern Christian (and Jewish) authors will, if they mention Jonah at all, speak of him only in terms of parable and myth, usually in tones that amount to little less than an apology. Very few indeed, and I personally know of none, will attempt to speak of Jonah in a purely historical sense. …. This is very odd, to say the least, because Jonah enjoys more support from Jewish and Assyrian history than a great many other characters of the ancient world whose existence few historians would doubt. There is, indeed, something very sinister about the out-of-hand way in which Jonah is dismissed from serious discussion by modernist critics and historians. This sinister aspect has, perhaps, to do with the fact that Jesus spoke of Jonah in a historical sense, and He referred to Jonah in direct reference to His own forthcoming
resurrection from the dead. …. Could it be, perhaps, that if modernists can cast doubt upon the historicity of Jonah, then they will also have license to cast doubt upon the words and teachings of Jesus Christ and the truth of His resurrection? The two are intimately connected, and any dismissal of the historicity of Jonah should be treated with a great deal of suspicion”. [End of quote]

“A pious fable”, “a moral tale”. I have also heard a priest employ the description, “a didactic fiction”, for the Book of Jonah. These very sorts of terms are used, once again, to describe the Book of Judith, e.g., “a literary fiction”, about whose historical defence I can largely say with Bill Cooper: “Very few indeed, and I personally know of none, will attempt to speak of [Judith] in a purely historical sense”.

Commentators who do take seriously the Jonah narrative – yes there are indeed some – for instance, Paul Ferguson in his article, “Who Was The ‘King Of Nineveh’ In Jonah 3:6?” (Tyndale Bulletin, Issue 47.2, 1996) – will attempt to show that the title, the “king of Nineveh”, can be considered genuine historical usage. Ferguson, whose article is well worth reading as an overall commentary on the Book of Jonah, offers the following “Summary” (p. 301):
https://www.galaxie.com/article/tynbul47-2-05

“This article seeks to show the title ‘king of Nineveh’ is not an anachronism. Comparison with Aramaic use of the north-west Semitic mlk, important in a north Israelite context, may suggest that a city or provincial official might have been under consideration.

Cuneiform evidence seems to suggest that no distinction is made between city and province in designating a governor. Common custom was to give provincial capitals the same name as the province. This could explain the fact that the book of Jonah says the ‘city’ was a three day walk (3:3).

 

“I. The ‘King Of Nineveh’

 

The Hebrew phrase melek nînĕveh (‘king of Nineveh’) is found in the Old Testament only in Jonah 3:6. It never occurs in any contemporary documents. Most literature proceeds on the assumption that the author used this expression to refer to the king of the Assyrian empire. It has often been suggested that this wording indicates the author wrote centuries after the fall of this nation. ….

 

“1. ‘King Of Nineveh’ Vs ‘King Of Assyria’

 

If this be the case, then one must consider why, if the author of the book lived centuries after the ‘historical Jonah’ of 2 Kings 14:25, he would ignore the usual designation ‘king of Assyria’. This phrase is found thirty times in 2 Kings 18-20. …”. [End of quotes]

 

Arguments such as this one by Paul Ferguson had led me, in the past, to wondering whether the Jonah incident may have occurred when Assyria did not have an actual king – say, in between the assassination of Sennacherib and the triumph of Esarhaddon – when, as I had considered, the city of Nineveh may have been represented by a stand-in high official, such as Ahiqar, who, too, presumably, would have been favourable to the message of Jonah. The king soon afterwards – but seemingly only after the people themselves had begun to repent (Jonah 3:5-6) – received the message. But there was a time delay. Perhaps, I had pondered, the future king may still have been on his way: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Esarhaddon

“Sennacherib was murdered (681) [sic] by one or more of Esarhaddon’s brothers, apparently in an attempt to seize the throne. Marching quickly from the west, Esarhaddon encountered the rebel forces in Hanigalbat (western Assyria), where most of them deserted to him, and their leaders fled. Esarhaddon continued on to Nineveh, where he claimed the throne without opposition” [sic].

(Compare instead, below, “persistent resistance by the opposition”).

It is interesting that Jesus Christ himself, who will refer specifically to “the Queen of the South”, will fail to make any mention whatsoever of the king of Nineveh, but only his subjects (Matthew 12:41-42): “The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it …”.

It can be (and is) debated as to the degree of conversion of the Ninevites – that it should not be understood that they had converted to a strict Yahwistic monotheism. Theirs was a general sort of repentance from their wicked ways of living. “The Ninevites believed God” [Elohim] (Jonah 3:5).
Refer back to the crucial quote above from professor Sayce re “the Sun-god”.
For, when we turn to consider the parallel case of the Queen of Sheba (of the South), we find that she will refer to the God of Solomon as your, not as my, or as our, God (I Kings 10:9): ‘Blessed be the Lord thy God …’.

Isaiah 7 is most instructive in this regard as the prophet begins his discussion with king Ahaz with the words (v. 11): ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign …’, but then soon switches in disgust to this (v. 13): ‘Will you try the patience of my God also?’
Consider, too, in light of all of this, the startling case of Rudolph Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz, and his dramatic return to his Catholic roots just before he was hanged: “‘It was a hard struggle’, Höss had written toward the end. ‘But I have again found my faith in my God’.” (My emphasis):

https://www.thedivinemercy.org/articles/divine-mercy-and-commandant-auschwitz

 

I have since dropped any former notion of an official governing Nineveh at the time of Jonah’s preaching there – though someone like Ahikar, or even the family of Tobit, may have been instrumental in fostering the mass conversion subsequent to the preaching of Jonah.
Esarhaddon, as Izabela Eph’al-Jaruzelska makes abundantly clear, was confronted by revolutions and hostility all over the place, forcing him even at one stage to flee for his life (op. cit. p. 133):

 

“According to the Babylonian Chronicle: “On the twentieth day of the month Tebet Sennacherib, king of Assyria, was killed by his son in a rebellion (ina sīḫi). For [twenty-four] years Sennacherib ruled Assyria. The rebellion continued in Assyria from the twentieth day of the month Tebet until the second day of the month Adar. On the twenty-eighth/ eighteenth day of the month Adar Esarhaddon, his son, ascended the throne in Assyria” (Chron. “The early royal correspondence reflects this long struggle, which lasted about two months. According to Bel-ushezib (see above, section III), Esarhaddon “evaded execution [by fleeing] to the Tower (URU.a-ši-t [i…])” (SAA X 109). Likewise, Mardi, probably a Babylonian, mentions in his letter to the king how he escaped to the tower (URU.i-si-ti) together with Esarhaddon (SAA XVI 29). These two early letters corroborate Esarhaddon’s reference to his asylum (RINAP 4 1 i 39). Bel-ushezib’s emphasis that plotting the murder of Esarhaddon and his officials continued “every day” (ūmussu SAA X 109 12′) implies persistent resistance by the opposition”. [End of quote]

I therefore suggest that the author of the Book of Jonah referred to the Assyrian ruler as “the king of Nineveh” because that is all that he actually was at that particular, most critical moment in time.

Esarhaddon was under extreme duress, in part because of the great debacle that had occurred in Israel, near Shechem (= “Bethulia”, the Judith incident), which late sources wrongly refer to as a defeat by Egypt. Thus Izabela Eph’al-Jaruzelska (op. cit., p. 123): “For example, the Babylonian Chronicle yields information on Esarhaddon’s great failure in Egypt, which is known only from here (Chron. 1 iv 16)”.

And again: “The Babylonian Chronicle mentions the expedition of B.C. 675 [sic], but the recently translated tablet shows why it was without results. Having ordered the investment of Jerusalem and Tyre, Esarhaddon marched against Pelusium … Egypt’s chief fortress on her north-east frontier. He was overtaken by a storm. …. The number of men who perished as given in the Bible must be an exaggeration, but as the storm wrecked Esarhaddon’s plans for the year his army must have suffered severely”. [End of quote]
(E. A Wallis Budge, The Mummy: A Handbook of Egyptian Funerary Archaeology, 1893, p. 75)

This late testimony as recalled by E. A. Wallis Budge needs a lot of tidying up.

Although the ultimate goal of king Sennacherib’s last great western campaign was Egypt (cf. Judith 1:10-12), the Assyrian king would by no means succeed in getting that far.

For, as Isaiah had rightly foretold (37:33): ‘He will not enter this city [Jerusalem] or even shoot an arrow here. He will not fight against it with shields or build a ramp to attack the city walls’ – all of which Sennacherib had succeeded in doing on the earlier occasion. In that last major western campaign, this time led by Sennacherib’s eldest son, Ashur-nadin-shumi (the Nadin, or Nadab, of Tobit 14:10), and not Esarhaddon, the king’s youngest son, the Assyrian behemoth will not reach even as far as Jerusalem, having been stopped in its tracks in the north, near Shechem, by the ruse of Judith the Simeonite.

As with Herodotus, “Pelusium” in Egypt (perhaps confused with the like sounding “Jerusalem”) has irrelevantly been brought into the Babylonian Chronicle account. There was no “storm” involved. The Judith ruse would precipitate a rout, with many soldiers of the massive Assyrian army perishing. As Budge correctly observed, the Assyrian “army must have suffered severely”.

But the Bible, when properly read, does not (as Budge thought) ‘exaggerate’ this rout.

It took Esarhaddon, who succeeded Ashur-nadin-shumi (“Holofernes”), some time to get his army back to its full strength, ‘wrecking his immediate plans’.
Historians wrongly attribute the demise of Ashur-nadin-shumi to, instead, an un-mentioned (though added in square brackets) “Sargon”. I quote again from Izabela Eph’al-Jaruzelska (op. cit., p. 131):

 

“Another example is the tablet K.4730 (+) Sm.1876, called The Sin of Sargon, allegedly attributed in the text itself to Sennacherib, which resembles the Naram-Sin epic in style and content. This text explains that Sargon’s death on the battlefield was a result of his sin: “Was it because [he honored] the gods o[f Assyria too much, placing them] above the gods of Babylonia [ ……, and was it because] he did not [keep] the treaty of the king of gods [that Sargon my father] was killed [in the enemy country and] was not b[uried] in his house?” In light, then, of this attitude about divine support, Esarhaddon must have been highly embarrassed by his military failure in Egypt, particularly as it followed a four-year period (from the end of 677 until around 673) [sic] devoid of military achievement”. [End of quote]

 

Part Two:

Focus on Jonah


A: Retracing my earlier steps: Elijah to Amos

My search for the prophet Jonah has led me ‘all around the mulberry bush’. Or perhaps, to be more contextual, all around the ‘kikayon’ (קִיקָיוֹן) bush (Jonah 4:6).

With 2 Kings 14:25 in mind, I did what other commentators tend to do, and that was to search for the Jonah incident during the time of an Assyrian ruler contemporaneous with king Jeroboam II of Israel.


Elijah

But I also went even further back than that, to a possible connection of Jonah with Elijah, based on the following sorts of similarities between this pair of prophets, taken from: http://seminary.csl.edu/facultypubs/TheologyandPractice/tabid/87/ctl/Details/mid/494/ItemID/40

 

“If we add to this list the fact that the phrase in Jonah 1:1 (“now the word of Yahweh came”) also introduces Elijah in 1 Kings 17:2, 8; 21:17, 28 then we are subtly led to this conclusion; one of the goals of the Jonah narrative is to compare the prophet from Gath-hepher with Elijah.

“More specific – and indeed more satirical – connections between Jonah and Elijah begin in Jonah 1:2 where Yahweh calls Jonah to, “arise, go” to Nineveh. This call to go to a foreign land is paralleled only in 1 Kings 17:9 where Yahweh commands Elijah also to “arise, go to Zarephath which is in Sidon.”

“Usually Yahweh’s word is the perfect performative, where to speak is to create. The God who says “Let there be light” and “it was so” (Gen. 1:3), commands Elijah to “Arise go to Zarapheth” (1 Kings 17:9) and Elijah “arises and goes,” (1 Kings 17:10). Following this normal biblical pattern we expect the Jonah narrative to continue, “So Jonah got up and went … to Nineveh.” But, instead, Jonah says nothing to Yahweh and rises to flee. It’s as though outside his door Jonah hangs a large sign with the words, “Do Not Disturb!” Jonah is certainly no Elijah!” [End of quotes]

Perhaps I should have taken that last hint: “Jonah is certainly no Elijah!”

The prophet Elijah disappears from the scene, at least qua Elijah, during the reign of Jehoram of Judah (2 Chronicles 21:12). That was well before the time of Jeroboam II. But there is always, for me, that possibility of an extension of a biblical floruit through an alter ego.

Elisha

The extraordinary prophet Elisha, ‘miracles on tap’, also loomed for me as a possible Jonah. He, like Jonah in the case of Jeroboam II, had advised a king of Israel, Jehoash, about the extent of his military conquests (2 Kings 13:14-19). Even though Elisha died shortly after this (v. 20), I shall be having more to say in Appendix A about the Jehoash-Jeroboam II connection, about a shortening of Israelite history, and about the identification of the “saviour” of 2 Kings 13:5.
Obviously, though, Elisha could not qualify for my prophet Jonah at the time of Esarhaddon.

My termini a quo and ad quem for Jonah have so far been determined as, respectively, Jeroboam II and early Esarhaddon. One would think, however, that there must have been more to the ministering of the prophet Jonah than just these two, chronologically far apart, occasions.
And we are going to find out that there was much more activity than that involving Jonah.
(See Part Three, A-B below)

Amos

A far more promising candidate for Jonah, however, began to loom in the person of Amos, whose prophetic witness commenced “when … Jeroboam … was king of Israel” (Amos 1:1). Amos, too, as with Elijah, can be likened to Jonah. Thus I have previously quoted from the book by Hadi Ghantous, Elisha-Hazael Paradigm and the Kingdom of Israel (p. 180):

 

… Jonah and Amos

 

The connections between Jonah and Amos are not as clear as those with Elijah although it is more clear that the fate of nations surrounding Israel is a major concern in both Amos and Jonah (Andersen and Freedman 1989: 236). The superscription in the book of Amos (Amos 1:1) sets Amos in the days of Jeroboam II and makes Amos a contemoprary of Jonah.

In 2 Kings 14:23-29, Jeroboam II recovers territories from the Entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, and restore [sic] Damascus and Hamath to Judea in Israel. Similarly, Amos 1:3-5 is an oracle against Damascus; Amos 5:27 threatens Israel with an exile beyond Damascus. In Amos 6:2, Zion and Samaria are called to compare themselves with Hamath. Amos 6:14 refers to oppression from the Entrance of Hamath to the Valley of the Arabah (Pyper 2007: 351-3). In other words, both prophets deal with Damascus, Hamath, and the region from the Entrance of Hamath to the Sea/Valley of the Arabah. Amos refutes the prophetic title (Amos 7:14); Jonah is never said to be a prophet in Jonah. Amaziah warns Jonah to flee … for his life (Amos 7:12), while Jonah almost loses his life while fleeing (Jon, 1).
“Other topical similarities can be found; singing (Amos 8:3// Jon. 2), sackcloths (Amos 8:10// Jon 3:6), wandering from sea to sea (Amos 8:12// Jon. 1:3-2:10), thirst (Amos 8:13// Jon. 4:8), and sheol (Amos 9:2// Jon. 2) (Edelman 2009: 162). These similarities pose the question whether they go beyond a mere imitation of details and indicate a fundamental similarity and connection between Amos and Jonah. …”. [End of quote]

Jonah is well-known as ‘the reluctant prophet’, and this, too, may have been a trait of Amos (7:14): ‘I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet …’.
There is also a very Jonah-like note in Amos 9:3: “Even if they tried to hide from me at the bottom of the sea, from there I would command the Sea Serpent [הַנָּחָשׁ] to bite them”. Don E. Jones (op. cit.) has made this very same connection: “There is something ominous in Amos’s prophecy, the first part of which [9:3] certainly applies to Jonah …”.

While Amos qualifies chronologically as being a contemporary of Jonah’s at the time of Jeroboam II, he will fall just short of early Esarhaddon (the ‘moment’ of Jonah’s intervention at Nineveh). See next.

Micah

Amos is, according to my revision of Israel and Judah, the same as the prophet Micah, known as “Amos redivivus”. Micah (Amos) is also the Micaiah who prophesied the death of king Ahab of Israel (I Kings 22:8-28). This controversial connection (Micaiah = Micah), which has the support of some Jewish tradition (see e.g., Ginzberg, Legends, 6:355, n. 20), pitches Micah back well before king Jeroboam II. Amos is also generally considered to have been the father of Isaiah, “son of Amoz” (Isaiah 1:1). I have also identified Isaiah son of Amos with the “Uzziah son of Micah, of the tribe of Simeon” of Judith 6:15. Uzziah must have followed his father Amos northwards to Bethel (the “Bethulia” of the Book of Judith), which is the strategically vital city of Shechem, where Uzziah later became the chief magistrate. He is also described as “the prince of Juda[h]” and “the prince of the people of Israel” (Judith 8:34; 13:23. Douay), perhaps due to his father Amos’s apparently royal connection with king Amaziah of Judah. “The rabbis of the Talmud declared, based upon a rabbinic tradition, that Amoz was the brother of Amaziah (אמציה), the king of Judah at that time (and, as a result, that Isaiah himself was a member of the royal family)” (article, “Amoz”): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amoz

 

The prophet Micah must not have lived to have witnessed the Judith incident.
He is not mentioned there (Book of Judith) as still being alive.
The Book of Jeremiah tells that Micah was yet prophesying during the reign of king Hezekiah of Judah (26:18): “Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spoke to all the people of Judah, saying,

‘Thus said the LORD of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest’.”

This prediction pertained to Sennacherib king of Assyria’s earlier successful invasion of Judah and Jerusalem. Micah apparently was no longer alive, though, when Ashur-nadin-shumi (= “Holofernes”), son of Sennacherib, came to the region of “Bethulia” (Bethel-Shechem) with an army of 185,000 men. Thus the prophet Micah cannot qualify for my Jonah early in the reign of Esarhaddon, who succeeded Sennacherib. Micah just misses out time wise. He must have been extremely old when he died.

 

B: Hosea, Isaiah

The prophet Hosea is, as determined in Part One, the only one of the prophets who – at least according to his superscription (Hosea 1:1) – spanned my requisite era from Jeroboam II unto Hezekiah. His prophetic floruit is closely matched by Isaiah’s, but without (in the case of Isaiah) the inclusion of Jeroboam II (Isaiah 1:1): “The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah”.

The names of Hosea and Isaiah, as well, are very close in meaning, both pertaining to “Salvation”. Abarim Publications lists Isaiah as a name “related” to Hosea (article, “Isaiah meaning”): https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Hosea.html#.Xp5Y6u0vPnF

Previously I have written regarding the striking similarities between Isaiah and Hosea:

“The names Isaiah and Hosea are indeed of very similar meaning, being basically derived from the same Hebrew root for ‘salvation’, יֵ֫שַׁע

– “Isaiah” (Hebrew יְשַׁעְיָהוּ , Yeshâ‘yâhû) signifies: “Yahweh (the Lord) is salvation”.

– “Hosea” (Hebrew הוֹשֵׁעַ) means practically the same: “Yahweh (the Lord) is saviour”.

….

“Hosea’s/Isaiah’s Family

Though no doubt young, the prophet was given the strange command by God to marry an ‘unfaithful’ woman: “‘Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, for the land commits great harlotry by forsaking the Lord’. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim …” (Hosea 1:2-3). Biblical scholars have agonised over the type of woman this Gomer might have been: adulteress? harlot? temple-prostitute? But essentially the clue is to be found in the statement above that she was a citizen of the ‘land of great harlotry’: namely, the northern kingdom of Israel. ….

“A further likeness between Isaiah and Hosea was the fact that ‘their names’ and those of ‘their’ children were meant to be, in their meanings, prophetic signs. ….

– The prophet Isaiah tells us: “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and portents …” (Isaiah 8:18).

– Similarly, the names of the children of the prophet Hosea were meant to be prophetic (Hosea 1:4, 6, 9).

 

“Charles Boutflower (The Book of Isaiah Chapters I-XXXIX, 1930), who has written perceptively on Isaiah’s children, has rightly noted the prophetic significance of their names and those of Hosea’s children, without however connecting Isaiah and Hosea as one: …. “Isaiah like Hosea had three known children, all of whose names were prophetic”. [End of quotes]

It is most unlikely, one would have to think, to have two great prophets contemporaneously operating over such a substantial period of time, and each having three children whose names were prophetic. The fact is, I believe, that it was just the one prophet, who may possibly have had six children in all.

For these, and for other reasons, I have identified Hosea and Isaiah as “just the one prophet”, ministering to both Israel and Judah. That to go with my already mentioned identification of the prophet Isaiah with the princely “Uzziah” of the Book of Judith.

Hosea-Isaiah is the only possible prophetic candidate, in my revised context, for Jonah son of Amittai.

Jonah’s otherwise unknown father, “Amittai”, must then be Amaziah, that is, Amos.

Jonah’s (or probably his father’s) home of “Gath-hepher”, which cannot possibly have been the place of that name in Galilee – since, as the learned Pharisees well knew (John 7:52): ‘…. Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee’ – must then be the southern Gath of Moresheth, the home of Micah-(Amos) (1:1): “The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth …”.

“Micah is called the Morasthite, probably because he was a native of Moresheth-gath, a small town of Judea, which, according to Eusebius and Jerome, lay in a southwesterly direction from Jerusalem, not far from Eleutheropolis on the plain, near the border of the Philistine territory” (“The Twelve Minor Prophets”):

https://biblehub.com/library/barrows/companion_to_the_bible/chapter_xxiii_the_twelve_minor.htm

Although “the vision … concerning Israel” as seen by Amos will occur at “Tekoa” (Amos 1:1), I have previously written on this:

“There are reasons, though, why I think that Tekoa would not have been the actual home of the prophet Amos. When confronted by Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, Amos retorted (7:14-15): ‘I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees.  But the Lord took me from following the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel’.’

“Now, commentators such as Eugene Merrill have been quick to point out “that sycamores were abundant in the Shephelah but not around Tekoa” (The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament, 2011, p. 431, n. 4).
“So, my first point would be that Amos’s cultivating of sycamore-fig trees would be most appropriate in Moresheth, but highly unlikely in Tekoa. Moresheth, we read, “is the opposite exposure from the wilderness of Tekoa, some seventeen miles away across the watershed. As the home of Amos is bare and desert, so the home of Micah is fair and fertile” (“Micah 1”, Expositor’s Bible Commentary).

 

“My second point is that Amos, apparently a herdsman (בַנֹּקְדִים) – some think a wealthy “sheepmaster”, whilst others say that he must have been poor – was, as we read above, “following the flock” מֵאַחֲרֵי הַצֹּאן), meaning that, seasonally, he was a man on the move. Stationed at his home town of Moresheth in the Shephelah, I suggest, where he tended the sycamore trees, the prophet also had to move with the flock from time to time.
And this is apparently where Tekoa (about 6 miles SE of Bethlehem) comes into the picture”.
[End of quotes]

 

The reason why such striking similarities can be found between Amos and Jonah (as we read above in A.) is because this was a father-son prophetic combination ranging from Israel to Judah. It is the very same reason why we find some almost identical statements and actions emanating from Micah (= Amos) and from Isaiah (= Jonah). Read, for example,  Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4.
“But who quoted whom?”, it is asked:

https://abramkj.com/2012/12/11/which-came-first-isaiah-or-micah-comparing-isaiah-22-4-with-micah-41-3/

Well, Micah was the father, and Isaiah was the son.

Compare also Micah 1:8: “Because of this I will weep and wail; I will go about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl”, and Isaiah 20:3: “Then the LORD said, ‘Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush …’.”

No doubt Jonah’s prediction regarding Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25): “[Jeroboam] was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher”, was uttered with all due awareness of his father Amos’s own considerations (cf. 6:14):

 

“For the Lord God Almighty declares,
‘I will stir up a nation against you, Israel,
that will oppress you all the way
from Lebo Hamath to the valley of the Arabah’.”

 

More tellingly, from my point of view, commentators have suggested that some parts of the Book of Isaiah (my Jonah) may actually have originated with Jonah. Don E. Jones, again, writes of it (op. cit.):

“Spurred by the reference in II Kings 14:25, scholars over the years have searched diligently in the Scriptures for the “Lost Book of Jonah”. Hitzig and Renan have attributed the prophecies of Isaiah 15-23 to Jonah as being inconsistent with other parts of the book. Allusions to Moab, Egypt and Ethiopia, would certainly give Jonah a wider scope of action. He would know conditions in Tyre, Sidon and Damacus from the Assyrian venture. Sargon’s reign in Assyria (Isaiah 20:1) began in 721. It was by no means impossible that Jonah could still have been alive at the time of Isaiah”. [End of quote]

The view of Hitzig and Renan enables us to fill out the prophet Jonah all the more. His prophetic mission beyond Israel was not just limited to Nineveh. Isaiah, like Jonah (1:3), appears to have been very familiar, too, with the “ships of Tarshish” (e.g., Isaiah 2:16; 23:1; 60:9).

As to why (we read this earlier) the name of Hosea’s father would be given as “Beeri”, whereas Isaiah’s father is given as “Amoz”, the Book of Judith may provide something of a clue. Judith was, like Uzziah (my Isaiah-Hosea) of Bethulia, a Simeonite (cf. Judith 8:1; 9:2). The Bethulians were a closely knit bunch, with Judith’s husband, Manasseh, belonging “to the same tribe and clan” as she (8:2). Uzziah, also a Simeonite, may well have been a relative of both Judith and her husband. Judith seems to have been immensely proud of her ‘father’, Merari, she singing, after her great victory over “Holofernes”:

‘For their mighty one did not fall by the hands of the young men,
nor did the sons of the Titans strike him down,
nor did tall giants set upon him;
but Judith daughter of Merari
with the beauty of her countenance undid him’.

 

Hosea’s father, “Beeri”, could possibly be that Merari, given what C. Conder will refer to (I noted this in my postgraduate university thesis, A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah and its Background:

https://www.academia.edu/3822220/Thesis_2_A_Revised_History_of_the_Era_of_King_Hezekiah_of_Judah_and_its_Background) as the “occasional instances in Syrian nomenclature” of the substitution of M for B. Conder was hoping by this means to establish the fairly unimportant site of “Mithilia” (or Mesilieh) as Judith’s “Bethulia”.

Somewhat coincidentally, we read in Genesis (26:34): “When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite …”. Obviously no relation, though.

Consulting Abarim Publications, I find that the name “Merari” does not have Amoz (Amos) listed as a “related” name:

https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Merari.html#.XqER-O0vPnE

Perhaps Merari could have been an ancestor, rather than a direct father, of both Hosea and Judith.
One name “related” to Merari in Abarim is “Imrah”, which is very much like the biblically rare name, Imlah (Imla), father of Micaiah (I Kings 22:8) – hence grandfather of Hosea-Isaiah (and Judith?).

A special mention is made in I Chronicles 4:33 to the Simeonites keeping “a genealogical record”.

 

Part Three:

Deeper Focus on Jonah


A: A Revised life of Jonah

 

Here (A-B) I intend to trace in outline the life of the prophet Jonah, largely through his better known alter ego (that is, according to my revision), Isaiah (= Hosea). The historicity of the prophet Isaiah (and hence of Jonah) may perhaps be attested by a clay seal found in Jerusalem (Amanda Borschel-Dan’s, “In find of biblical proportions, seal of Prophet Isaiah said found in Jerusalem”): https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-find-of-biblical-proportions-proof-of-prophet-isaiah-believed-unearthed/

 

“The oval-shaped bulla, however, is not intact. On its legible portion, there is an inscription with First Temple Hebrew letters that seem to spell out the name l’Yesha’yah[u] (Belonging to Isaiah). On a line below, there is the partial word nvy, which presumably spells out “prophet.” Because the bulla has been slightly damaged at the end of the word nvy, it is not known if it originally ended with the Hebrew letter aleph, which would have resulted in the Hebrew word for ‘prophet’ and would have definitively identified the seal as the signature of the prophet Isaiah,” [Dr. Eilat] Mazar said”. [End of quote]

 

Isaiah likely “began” his prophetic career as Hosea (1:1) “When the Lord began to speak though Hosea …”. As we know, this was during the reign of king Jeroboam II of Israel. Hosea, I have suggested, had followed his (= Isaiah’s) father Amos to Bethel (= Judith’s “Bethulia”), which is Shechem, in the north. There, the prophet must have made the prediction about king Jeroboam II of 2 Kings 14:25 that is attributed to Jonah.

Isaiah-Hosea fluctuated between Israel and Judah. But he was a Judaean. Professor A.H. Sayce, when commenting upon “the prophecies of Hosea”, will write tellingly (though thinking that Hosea was of the north): “It was, however, the work, not of a native of that northern kingdom of Israel to which Hosea belonged, but of a Jew” (“The Book of Hosea in the Light of Assyrian Research”, The Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Jan., 1889), p. 162).

Our prophet famously recorded (Isaiah 6:1): “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the Temple”.

And, later, in Judah, he will offer a “sign” to a recalcitrant King Ahaz (Isaiah 7:11).

Uzziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah, these are all historically verifiable kings. Thus, for instance, we read in Christopher Eames’ “Archaeology unearths historical fact – and proves the biblical record at the same time”: https://www.thetrumpet.com/18639-so-much-archaeological-proof

“You’ve probably heard the names of many of Israel’s and Judah’s biblical kings. Do you know just how many have had their existence proved—independently—through archaeology?
These are the names thus far that have turned up in early, original contexts: kings DavidOmriAhabJehuJoashJeroboam iiUzziahMenahemAhazPekahHosheaHezekiah, Manasseh and Jehoiachin. The existence of these kings has been verified through scientific discovery even by the most stringent of analytical standards.
“Several years ago, the personal seal impression of King Hezekiah was found during excavations on Jerusalem’s Ophel mound. The tiny stamped clay piece reads: “Belonging to Hezekiah, [son of] Ahaz, king of Judah.” The impressive find is one of many that refer to King Hezekiah. His name also turns up in inscriptions belonging to his arch-nemesis, Assyria’s King Sennacherib”. [End of quotes]

According to Sirach 48:22-25:

 

“For Hezekiah did what was pleasing to the Lord,
and he kept firmly to the ways of his ancestor David,
as he was commanded by the prophet Isaiah,
who was great and trustworthy in his visions.

In Isaiah’s days the sun went backward,
and he prolonged the life of the king.

By his dauntless spirit he saw the future,
and comforted the mourners in Zion.
He revealed what was to occur to the end of time,
and the hidden things before they happened”.

 

After Isaiah’s strong warnings to King Hezekiah and his subjects about the futility of turning to Egypt for help against Assyria – just he had warned Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, not to depend upon Assyria – Sennacherib will come up against Jerusalem and will successfully lay siege to the city.

Isaiah will, at that approximate time, cure king Hezekiah of a life-threatening illness, and will afterwards promise a better outcome against the Assyrians in the face of Sennacherib’s subsequent blasphemy (2 Chronicles 32:9-19).

Isaiah (as Uzziah) is back in the north, in “Bethulia”, when the ill-fated Assyrian army of 185,000 arrives at his doorstep. The great man will, in fact, be soundly reprimanded by the beautiful, and younger, Judith, for agreeing upon oath to deliver the city to the Assyrians within five days if rain does not come (Judith 8:9-27). It is Moses all over again, in a watery situation, but, in the case of Moses, the reprimand had come directly from Yahweh (Numbers 20:9-13).
As Uzziah, the prophet will receive into his household the abandoned Achior (Tobit’s nephew, Ahiqar), left by “Holofernes” to die amongst the Israelites whom he had verbally defended (Judith cf. 5:5-21; 6:10-19). This is the Nadin-Ahiqar situation of betrayal as recalled by Tobit (14:10-11):

‘Tobias, my son, leave Nineveh now. Do not stay here. As soon as you bury your mother beside me, leave; do not stay another night within the city limits. It is a wicked city and full of immorality; the people here have no sense of shame. Remember what Nadin [Nadab] did to Ahikar his own uncle who had brought him up. He tried to kill Ahikar and forced him to go into hiding in a tomb. Ahikar came back into the light of day, but God sent Nadin down into everlasting darkness for what he had done. Ahikar escaped the deadly trap which Nadin had set for him, because Ahikar had given generously to the poor. But Nadin fell into that fatal trap and it destroyed him. So now, my children, you see what happens to those who show their concern for others, and how death awaits those who treat others unjustly’.

Ahiqar ‘came back into the light of day’ thanks in large part to the courageous intervention of Judith (14:6-10):

“So they called Achior [Ahiqar] from Uzziah’s house. But when he came and saw the head of Holofernes in the hands of one of the men, Achior fainted and fell to the floor. When they had helped him up, Achior bowed at Judith’s feet in respect. ‘May every family in the land of Judah praise you’, he said, ‘and may every nation tremble with terror when they hear your name. Please tell me how you managed to do this’.

“While all the people were gathered around, Judith told him everything that she had done from the day she left the town until that moment. When she had finished her story, the people cheered so loudly that the whole town echoed with sounds of joy. When Achior heard all that the God of Israel had done, he became a firm believer. He was circumcised and made a member of the Israelite community, as his descendants are to the present day”.

 

 

Achior (Ahiqar), (var. Arioch), wrongly called “the leader of all the Ammonites” (Judith 5:5) – when he was actually governor of the Elamites (cf. Tobit 2:10; Judith 1:6) – was ethnically an Israelite, and the nephew of the holy Tobit. Hence he already had the background for a proper conversion to Yahwism. This needs to be contrasted with the Ninevites and their king, who – though they, too, may have imbibed some good influences from Tobit and his family long dwelling in Nineveh – had only a pagan background.

 

Not to be outdone in praise of Judith, but before Ahiqar had thus been summoned (Judith 14:18-20):

“Then Uzziah said,

‘Judith, my dear, the Most High God has blessed you more than any other woman on earth. How worthy of praise is the Lord God who created heaven and earth! He guided you as you cut off the head of our deadliest enemy. Your trust in God will never be forgotten by those who tell of God’s power. May God give you everlasting honor for what you have done. May he reward you with blessings, because you remained faithful to him and did not hesitate to risk your own life to relieve the oppression of your people’.

All the people replied,

‘Amen, amen!'”

One can perhaps now well imagine why our prophet – after his having been an eyewitness to arguably the greatest military victory in the history of Israel, and over the hated Assyrians, no less – chafed at the bit when, not too long afterwards, he was thus ordered by Yahweh (Jonah 1:2): ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me’.

The prophet, who would no doubt have shared the sentiments of his fellow-Simeonite, Judith (16:17):

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

 

knew what this, Yahweh’s new command, probably meant (Jonah 4:2-3) ‘That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live’.

Compare Isaiah 30:18: “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”

 

B: The name “Jonah”

The Hebrew name, “Jonah” (יונה) is generally regarded as meaning “dove”.

Abarim Publications adds “vexer” (article, “Jonah meaning”):

https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Jonah.html#C.XqStmu0vPnE

 

The word “Jonah” is used in Hosea 7:1, for instance: “Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria”. And again in Isaiah, where the prophet recalls the seriously ill king Hezekiah’s use of the word (38:14): ‘I cried like a swift or thrush, I moaned like a mourning dove’.

In Appendix A, we are going to find the Assyrian king, Ashurnasirpal, using king Hezekiah’s very same dove metaphor, also in the case of a dire sickness.

 

Given that the prophet’s father had at least two names, with variations thereof, Amos (Amittai) and Micah (Micaiah), it might be expected that the son, who so faithfully (though not slavishly) imitated Amos, would likewise have had more than the one name, Isaiah (Hosea, Uzziah) and Jonah. Even more so, considering that the names of Isaiah-Hosea and his children (which may have undergone changes: cf. Hosea 1:4-11) were meant to have a symbolical significance for Israel. The prophet Isaiah, in his flight from the Lord, might later have acquired the name mindful of “a silly dove” (Hosea 7:11), that is, Jonah.

 

The father of the Apostle Peter is variously given as “Jona[h]” (Matthew 16:17) and as “John” (John 1:42).

There is a Babylonian tale – but written centuries after Jonah, it needs to be appreciated – that features a Jonah-like sage called Oannes, a name considered to be very close indeed to the name, Jonah.

Bill Cooper tells of it (op. cit., pp. 110–111):

“In his book, Chaldean Genesis (1876), George Smith, the Assyriologist, cites the writings of Berosus (c.330–260 BC), a Babylonian priest who recorded many of the myths and legends of the early Mesopotamians. Among many other things, Berosus records the fascinating story of a certain ‘Oannes’.

He writes:

“At Babylonia there was (in these times) a great resort of people of various nations, who inhabited Chaldea, and lived in a lawless manner like the beasts of the field.” …. In the first year there appeared, from that part of the Erythraean Sea … which borders upon Babylonia, an animal endowed with reason, by name Oannes, whose whole body was that of a fish; and under the fish’s head he had another head, with feet also below similar to those of a man, subjoined to the fish’s tail.

His voice too, and language were articulate and human; and a representation of him is preserved to this day.”

“This being (Oannes) was accustomed to pass the day among men, but took no food at that season; and he gave them an insight into letters and sciences, and arts of every kind. He taught them to construct cities, to found temples, to compile laws, and explained to them the principles of geometrical knowledge. He made them distinguish the seeds of the earth, and showed them how to collect the fruits; in short, he instructed them in everything which could tend to soften manners and humanize their lives. From that time, nothing material has been added by way of improvement to his instructions.”  ….

“It is clear from Berosus’ own narrative that the Assyrians and Babylonians held Oannes in the highest esteem. ….

“While we cannot know for certain the Assyrian equivalent of Jonah’s name, we can at least be sure that it was not dissimilar to that of Oannes. The resemblance between the two names, even before such transposition, is remarkable. …. Unknown to the Assyrians, however, was the fact that a greater than Oannes was here. Here was no mythical figure dreamed up by an undiscerning pagan philosophy. Here was a living prophet of the Ever-Living God to Whom the Assyrians, in common with all mankind, owed their very creation and continuing existence!

“Judging by the attention that marooned sea monsters attract in our own day, it is easy to envisage the tremendous impact of such a monster disgorging a living man who then proceeded to a certain city to warn it of coming destruction. To those who had been nurtured on the story of Oannes, such an event would seem that Oannes himself had returned according to all that was laid down in the ancient legends. How else could God have achieved the effect that was so necessary to the accomplishment of His Will? The Assyrians would hardly have heeded a prophet (and a despised Israelite, at that), who rode into Nineveh on donkey, or as a passenger in a desert caravan. There was only one way, it seems, in which to startle and surprise the Assyrians into a positive response to Jonah’s message, and that was by God Himself staging what has proved be one of the most spectacular events of history.

“On its own even this, perhaps, may not have been sufficient to drive the Assyrians into a response to the message that Jonah brought them. They would also need to be in particularly distressed state of mind, driven into a corner by political, economic and military events over which they had no control, and which were pushing them inexorably further towards complete devastation. We have seen, in fact, that just such conditions prevailed at this very point in history, and thus the Assyrians may even have been importuning their gods for a teacher or deliverer of the stature and wisdom of their beloved Oannes …. Most assuredly, they were both psychologically and spiritually prepared for just such an event and message as Jonah was about to deliver”. [End of quotes]

Some of what Bill Cooper has written here makes perfect sense to me. But parts of it don’t. As already noted, the story of Oannes is a late legend, post-dating Jonah. It is typical for historians to presuppose that any pagan account that resembles a biblical one always has the chronological precedence. I have spent many articles arguing that the opposite is the case. So, when a presumed c. 300 BC writer records a tale that is, in some instances, uncannily like the much older Jonah story – as Bill Cooper has well noted – my immediate reaction to this is that the Oannes legend must have arisen from the Jonah story.

Certainly the latter resonates with Berosus’s description of the Mesopotamians who “lived in a lawless manner like the beasts of the field”. And, again, the two names, “Jonah” and “Oannes”, are indeed very similar. It is common to identify Oannes with the the Mesopotamian water god, of knowledge, Ea (Sumerian Enki). And the account of Berosus seems to have commingled Mesopotamian theology with a garbled recollection of the biblical Jonah incident.

Some of the geography of Berosus, however, “Euxine Sea” (Black Sea), “Erythrean Sea” (Indian Ocean?), is completely irrelevant to Jonah, and is, moreover, internally contradictory.
Bill Cooper is right on the mark in describing what must have been the mental state of the Ninevites at the time of Jonah’s arrival – except that he has located all this to the era of king Tiglath-pileser III. Things were far, far worse, I have suggested, at my preferred moment in time of early Esarhaddon.

Moreover, God was never going to use a pagan ‘theology’ to reinforce his message.

The “representation of [Oannes] … preserved to this day” (Berosus) is the well-known fish man (kullulû) of which Bill Cooper has provided a photo on his p. 111 (fig. 7).

It is the prophet Jonah himself, depicted on a wall of Ashurnasirpal’s NW Palace of Nimrud (Calah).

Ashurnasirpal, though, is chronologically too early for Jonah in the context of the conventional system.
More on that in Appendix A.

Later, it is said, the figure came to be associated with the god, Dagan: (“Kulullu (“Fish Man”) “Dagon”): http://symboldictionary.net/?p=300


This figure was known to the Assyrians as Kullulû, meaning “fish man.” The kullulu was a guardian figure, a dweller of the sacred Absu, the watery underground domain of the God Ea. Figures of the fish-man were often concealed in the construction of buildings to serve as protective charms.

From about the fourth century, the figure was associated (probably erroneously) with the god Dagan (meaning “grain”), most commonly known by his Hebrew name, Dagon. Dagan was a vegetation god, the father of the god Baal, the mythological creator of the plow. Dagon is mentioned several times in the Hebrew scriptures, where he is associated with the Philistines. It is to Dagon’s temple that the Ark of the Covenant is taken after being captured from the Hebrews; the next morning, they discover the statue of the god lying on the floor, sans head and hands”. [End of quote]

Another note on ‘AD’ pseudo-history. Earlier on (Part One, A), I argued for the Nineveh-connected, and hence quite anachronistic Prophet Mohammed to have been a non-historical composite, partly based on Tobias, the son of Tobit of Nineveh. Although Mohammed would be regarded by most as being a true historical character, whilst Jonah would not, I would insist upon the very opposite.

The same comment would apply to that muddle-headed navigator, Columbus (meaning “Dove”), whose maritime epic is, for me, the story of Jonah ‘writ large’. Christopher Columbus sets sail (rather more enthusiastically than had Jonah) to convert the pagans.
Many, many centuries before Columbus, 1492 and all that, the Bronze Age Mediterraneans (Cretan Philistines and the Phoenicians) were mining tons of nearly pure copper, for their precious bronze, from far-away Lake Superior in Northern America (Gavin Menzies, The Lost Empire of Atlantis, 2001).

“Columbus” (whoever he/it may have been) did not discover America!

Not surprisingly, though, “Columbus” is supposed to have encountered “a great fish” – a description that accurately translates Jonah 2:1’s dag gadol (דָּג גָּדוֹל) (“… Columbus sees a Sea Monster”):
http://anomalyinfo.com/Stories/1494-september-114-columbus-sees-sea-monster

“From a modern English translation of [his son] Ferdinand’s biography, we read that sometime between September 1~14 in 1494, this curious event occurred to Columbus and his men:

“Holding on their course, the ship’s people sighted a large fish, big as a whale, with a carapace like a turtle’s, a head the size of a barrel protruding from the water, a long tail like that of a tunny fish, and two large wings. From this and from certain other signs the Admiral knew they were in for foul weather and sought a port where they might take refuge.”

“As far as I know, no such creature exists. So what did Columbus see?

‘Did It Happen…?

“This is one of those moments where the gray zone of what is considered history and what is considered not history is fully exposed.

“History is often just stories that have been agreed upon and accepted, with no hard evidence past this agreement to support it… and in the case of most of Christopher Columbus’ voyages, this is the case. Ferdinand’s account of his father’s life is taken as authoritative on many details that no other document can confirm; yet the story above is quietly ignored, even though it has the same amount of evidence to support it as anything else in Ferdinand’s biography”. [End of quotes]

 

Summary so far

 

So far, it all amounts to something quite simple.

The life of the prophet Jonah (qua Jonah) in the Bible stretches between two incidents.

The first is Jonah’s prediction of the expansion of the territory of king Jeroboam II of Israel (2 Kings 14:25).

And the second is the ‘great fish’-and-Nineveh incident that I have located to the beginning of the reign of Esarhaddon (late in the reign of king Hezekiah of Judah).

Most importantly, we may have managed to uncover the very Jonah incident in Nineveh thanks to professor Sayce via Hart-Davies:

“Already we possess proof from the cuneiform tablets that the Bible account of Nineveh’s repentance is described in a manner which exactly coincides with Assyrian custom. “It was just such a fast”, says Professor Sayce, “as was ordained by Esar-haddon when the northern foe was gathering against the Assyrian empire, and prayers were raised to the Sun-god to ‘remove the sin’ of the king and his people. ‘From this day’, runs the inscription, ‘from the third day of this month, even the month of Iyyar, to the fifteenth day of Ab of this year, for these hundred days and hundred nights the prophets have proclaimed (a period of supplication)’. The prophets of Nineveh had declared that it was needful to appease the anger of heaven, and the king accordingly issued his proclamation enjoining the solemn service of humiliation for one hundred days”.”

Esarhaddon, who refers here to “the prophets of Nineveh”, may not personally have encountered the prophet Jonah himself who had gone off sulking to “a place east of the city” (Jonah 4:5). And, typically, the paranoid king of Nineveh – who would immediately have consulted his own “prophets” upon hearing of his people’s mass conversion – then over-reacted to the specified “forty days” by ordering a fast for “these hundred days and hundred nights”. {Esarhaddon was famous for fixing numbers, anyway, he having inverted the cuneiform signs used to write the number 70, the amount of years the god Marduk had determined for the destruction of Babylon, to the number 11}.

His prayers were raised to the “Sun-god”, as he would not have known of Yahweh.
Shamash was the Mesopotamian Sun-god, and was the god of justice who forgave sins.

Tobit’s people, and possibly Ahikar – who had only recently been in Isaiah’s (Uzziah’s) very house in Bethel (“Bethulia”) (as we read), had witnessed Judith’s victory first-hand, and had converted to Yahwism – may have generated a sense of conversion amongst the Ninevites at the preaching of this same Isaiah (= Jonah).

By now, too, the Ninevites must have heard reports of the ‘great fish’ incident-miracle.

In conventional history, the two (above-mentioned) Jonah interventions are separated in time by some 60 years – but by somewhat less of that time-span in my revision.

Obviously much filling-out of the prophet Jonah must needs be required.

I have supplemented his long life by identifying Jonah with (i) the prophet Hosea, whose prophetic career did span this very period, from Jeroboam II of Israel to king Hezekiah (Hosea 1:1), and with (ii) the very similar (to Hosea) prophet Isaiah.

In this regard (Hosea = Isaiah) I had noted: “It is most unlikely, one would have to think, to have two great prophets contemporaneously operating over such a substantial period of time, and each having three children whose names were prophetic”.

 

Professor A. H. Sayce will conventionally estimate the prophet Hosea’s career and age as follows (op. cit., p. 163): “According to the chronology of the Book of Kings, Hosea’s ministry would have extended over a period of at least 64 years, the prophecies relating to the fall of Samaria being delivered when he was at least 84 years of age”.

 

* * *

 

Now, though, the whole biblico-historical matter will become significantly more complex, with Esarhaddon, in particular, to be multi-identified due to a comprehensive folding of ‘Middle’ Assyrian into ‘Neo’ Assyrian history – a necessary consequence of the downward-in-time revision. This will serve to throw some further light upon events associated with the prophet Jonah.

My method runs counter to that often proposed by historians and biblical commentators who regard the Assyrian history as virtually sacrosanct and who thus think that it is the Bible that has to be bent to conform to it. Professor A.H. Sayce, for instance, was being wildly optimistic when he wrote (op. cit., p. 163):

“Thanks, however, to the decipherment of the Assyrian inscriptions, the true chronology of the later period of the Hebrew monarchy can now be restored. From 911 to 659 B.C. the so-called Assyrian Canon has furnished us with an accurate chronological register, in which each year is named along with the dates of the accession and death of the several Assyrian kings, and, in many cases, of the events which marked their reigns. As the Assyrian monarchs were brought into frequent contact with Israel and Judah during this period, and have been careful to record the names of the Hebrew princes whom they dethroned or compelled to pay tribute, the chronology of the two kingdoms of Samaria and Jerusalem can now be determined from the last year of Ahab to the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib”. [End of quote]

 

Edwin R. Thiele had also decided that it would be a good idea to regulate the biblical chronology in accordance with the supposedly fixed neo-Assyrian chronology.

Though Thiele’s intentions to uphold the veracity of the Bible appear to have been sincere (The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, 1983, Ch. One, p. 33): “… never will the events of the Old Testament record be properly fitted into the events of the Near Eastern world, and never will the vital messages of the Old Testament be thoroughly or correctly understood until there has been established a sound chronology for Old Testament times”, his outcome has been in no small part a disaster, with king Hezekiah of Judah, for instance, being set adrift from some very firm biblico-historical anchor points. On this, see e.g. my article:

 

King Hezekiah, Samaria, Assyria, and Edwin Thiele

 

https://www.academia.edu/8678263/King_Hezekiah_Samaria_Assyria_and_Edwin_Thiele

My Appendix A, to follow, will play utter havoc with any naïve optimism re dependence upon the text-book Assyrian chronology.

 

Conventionally-minded historians and biblical commentators are going to find it difficult, though, to get their heads around my radical and deep-seated revision.
What follows will best be grasped by those who have a good knowledge of ‘Middle’ and ‘Neo’ Assyrian history and the variety of kings involved therein.

 

Appendix A:

Moulding Assyrian history to Israel’s history

 

Jewish tradition appears to concur with my view that Jonah at the time of Jeroboam II was well separated in time from Jonah when he witnessed at Nineveh, whose king is said to have been called “Osnapper”.

So much so, in fact, that rabbinical tradition will actually speak of ‘two Jonahs’.

Three years ago (16th May, 2017) I had written on this:

“König, again, will make a point reflecting on chronology; one that will be of great significance later on in this series, as we come to discuss the period of floruit of Jonah, and his age. At the same time König will tell of the Jewish tradition that the Assyrian king in the Book of Jonah was “Osnappar” (var. As[e]napper), whom König would tentatively equate with a known neo-Assyrian king, “Assurbanipal” (var. Ashurbanipal) (A History of Israel, 2nd edn., SCM Press Ltd., London, p. 313, n. 11):

 

Jewish tradition, however, contains also the information that the history contained in the Book of Jonah was enacted in the reign of Osnappar (Ezr 4:10) [Assurbanipal?], and, seeing that the date of Jeroboam II, and that of Osnappar were different, the rabbinical tradition spoke of two Jonahs, of whom the first was of the tribe of Zebulun and the second of the tribe of Asher (see, further, Fürst, Der Kanon d. AT nach d. Ueberlief. in Talm. und Midrasch, p. 33 f.). [End of quotes]

 

No need, however, to go to the extreme of creating ‘two Jonahs’. The prophet’s long life can satisfactorily be accommodated by means of his alter ego, Hosea (= Isaiah).

Ezra 4:10 (cited above) refers to “… the rest of the nations which the great and honourable Osnappar deported and settled in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of the region beyond the River”.

 

“Osnapper” (אָסְנִפִּר) is here lauded as “great and honourable”, a description that the Jews would hardly have used for, say, a Sennacherib, or for the general run of other inimical Assyrian kings.
But they might well have done so in the case of the one special individual, Esarhaddon, who had repented at the preaching of Jonah (my view), who had allowed the pious Tobit to return home to his family, and who had greatly exalted Tobit’s nephew, Ahikar, in the kingdom of the Assyrians.

Just as tradition has created ‘two Jonahs’, though there should be only one, historians have created two, three, or even five same-named Assyrian kings (as we are going to find), though, once again, there was generally only the one. The problem arises due to the over-stretching of chronology, the solution to which requires a folding of ‘Middle’ Assyrian into the ‘Neo’ Assyrian period.

 

Esarhaddon as Ashurnasirpal-Ashurbanipal

Kings unnecessarily duplicated

I was very greatly surprised to read the following piece of information as provided by Mattias Karlsson regarding the almost total lack of statuary depicting the, albeit megalomaniacal, Ashurnasirpal (“Early Neo-Assyrian State Ideology Relations of Power in the Inscriptions and Iconography of Ashurnasirpal II (883–859) and Shalmaneser III (858–824)”, p. 39. My emphasis):
http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:637086/FULLTEXT01.pdf
“Staying in Nimrud, two gateway lions (A111) and a statue of the king (AI12, Fig. 18) from the second half, based on the date of the temple inscription, have been excavated from the Sharrat-niphi temple of Nimrud. …. The statue in question is the only known one which depicts Ashurnasirpal II. …”.

Clearly, the grandiloquent Ashurnasirpal is badly in need of one or more alter egos.

What happens, of course, when same-named kings become dupli- tripli- cated, due to chronological over-extension, is that scholars are forced to puzzle over whether this or that particular document, record, building, artefact, etc., belongs to King I or King II, King III, etc.
This happens in many instances, as we are going to find.

And so, in the case of the White Obelisk, some will confidently date this to the time of Ashurnasirpal I (c. 1049-1031 BC), e.g. Mattias Karlsson (op. cit., pp. 53-54):

 

“As for sources whose datings by scholars alternate between different time periods, the 290 cm high White Obelisk from Nineveh depicting tribute, royal warfare, cult, hunting, and banquets are in line period rather than to Ashurnasirpal II. ….This conclusion is derived from various stylistic features such as the fact that also the king’s officials wear fez-shaped hats. This clearly points to a Middle Assyrian date, since the officials and nobility of Neo-Assyrian times do not wear these headgears. …. Additionally, the coarse style which characterizes the reliefs on the White Obelisk is very different from the elegant style on the Rassam Obelisk. Since Nineveh, the provenance, was an important core city the coarseness of the reliefs can not simply be explained away as being “provincial art” from the time of Ashurnasirpal II. Rather, it should be understood as part of a chronologically determined art development, closely related to the “Broken Obelisk” of Ashur-bel-kala (1073-1056). …. It is mostly philologists who have dated this obelisk to the second king. …. The main argument here is that the shrine bīt-natḫi, mentioned in the inscription on the White Obelisk … is otherwise spoken of only by Ashurnasirpal I …. This may however be just another result of the hazardous preservation of sources”[,]

while others will argue that it pertains to Ashurnasirpal II (c. 883-859 BC):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashurnasirpal_I

“The White Obelisk[i 3] is sometimes attributed to [Ashurnasirpal I] by historians, but more usually to his later namesake, Aššur-nāṣir-apli II, because its internal content (hunting, military campaigns, etc.) better matches what is known about his reign.[3]

The fact of the matter is that the White Obelisk belonged to just the one king Ashurnasirpal.

Along similar lines, I had, in my postgraduate thesis on King Hezekiah of Judah, folded the ‘Middle’ Babylonian king, Merodach-baladan I (c. 1170-1158 BC), with his namesake Merodach-baladan II of similar reign length (c. 720-709 BC), partly on the basis of historians being unsure whether a certain item of building belonged to Merodach-baladan I or to II.

Now, the comment that I made above about the surprising lack of statuary for Ashurnasirpal applies basically as well to the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser V (c. 727-722 BC, conventional dating), who lacks any known relief depiction – at least according to the article “Shalmaneser V and Sargon II”):

https://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/Rel302/Shalmaneser%20V%20and%20Sargon%20II.htm

“The revolt of Israel against Assyria during the days of King Hoshea, last king of Israel, brought on a siege by the Assyrians (1 Kings 17).  The siege was led by Shalmaneser V, King of Assyria (there is no known relief depiction of Shalmaneser V).  During the siege, he died.  Sargon II replaced Shalmanezer V as King of Assyria, who finished the siege and sacked Samaria”. [End of quote]

And my comment will apply again, amazingly, even to that master-king, Nebuchednezzar ‘the Great’.
Dr. I. Velikovsky wrote of the astonishing fact that (Ramses II and His Time, p. 184. My emphasis): “At Wadi Brissa in Lebanon, Nebuchadnezzar twice had his picture cut in rock; these are supposedly the only known portraits of this king”.

Nebuchednezzar will feature most centrally in Appendix B, there now to be adorned with some impressive alter egos who are, in fact, very well represented in portraiture.

Ashurbanipal ‘replicating’ Esarhaddon


Fittingly, Esarhaddon is considered as a plausible candidate for “Osnapper” – along with Ashurbanipal. There is no tension at all with that in my revision, according to which Esarhaddon was Ashurbanipal.

And so here I would like to introduce my two major Assyrian alter egos for Esarhaddon: namely, Ashurbanipal and Ashurnasirpal.

Already, in Part One, B., I had quoted John H. Walton re an inscription of Esarhaddon’s telling that the king had humbled himself with “sackcloth”. Walton (et al.) will repeat this in The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, p. 780), but will now include as well “Ashurbanipal”.

Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal seem to be commonly confused in antiquity, as well as later.

One can find many instances of Ashurbanipal seemingly replicating Esarhaddon.
Previously, for example, I have written of this particular case:

“Arcadio Del Castillo and Julia Montenegro have made a valiant effort to identify the elusive biblical “Tarshish” in their article:

THE LOCATION OF TARSHISH: CRITICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Revue Biblique, 123, 2016, pp. 239-268

https://www.academia.edu/35529906/THE_LOCATION_OF_TARSHISH_CRITICAL_CONSIDERATIONS?auto=download

 

“But what struck me when reading through this article is yet another case of, as it seems to me, a ‘historical’ duplication, Ashurbanipal claiming what Esarhaddon claimed.

Writing of the neo-Assyrian sailing efforts, the authors tell as follows (pp. 252-254):

… the only record we have of them sailing the Mediterranean is when Sargon II gained control of Cyprus, which was further secured by his successors, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Assurbanipal, 668-627 BC….

Of course, the text of the Assyrian Inscription of Esarhaddon defines the extent of the Assyrian king’s domain, in maritime terms, from one area in the direction of the other, but we believe its extent would have been within maritime limits of the Assyrian Empire itself. ….
What is conclusive is the fact that in Esarhaddon’s Inscription the reference to the kings of the middle of the sea comes after enumerating his conquests, which are listed as: Sidon … Arza … Bazu … Tilmun … Shubria … Tyre … Egypt and Pathros … and Kush.

And, since Bazu seems to be situated in the northwest of Arabia and Tilmun on the Persian Gulf, very possibly Bahrain … what seems more logical is to assume that it is a delimitation in both seas of the cosmic ocean, this is the Upper Sea and the Lower Sea. So it would be a broad area that extended beyond the Mediterranean; and reference is made to it just before saying that the Assyrian king had established his power over the kings of the four regions of the Earth ….

What can of course be readily accepted …  is that there is a clear parallel between the Inscription of Esarhaddon and a text of Assurbanipal, which is inscribed on Prism B: after stating that he ruled from the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea and that the kings of the rising sun and the setting sun brought him heavy tribute, Assurbanipal says that he has brought the peoples that live in the sea and those that inhabit the high mountains under his yoke … and this reference, as we understand it, is very like Esarhaddon’s text, since it is also “a general summary”. …. [End of quotes]

 

And here is another example, this time from Eva Miller (“Crime and Testament: Enemy Direct Speech in Inscriptions of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal”, Journal of Ancient Near Eastern History, Volume 6: Issue 2, 2020, “Abstract”):

 

“In Assyrian annals, the narrative device that we would call ‘direct speech’ is employed very rarely throughout most of Assyrian history (beyond the framing device of the entire text as royal speech), with an uptick in its popularity in the royal inscriptions of the last two well-attested Neo-Assyrian monarchs, Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal (Gerardi 1989: 245–46). … Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal employ this literary feature more often than their predecessors …”. [End of quote]

Ashurbanipal, we find, supposedly repeats Esarhaddon’s efforts. Thus Wikipedia’s article, “Esarhaddon”: “Ashurbanipal left in 667 BC [sic] to complete Esarhaddon’s unfinished final campaign against Egypt”.

….
“Ashurbanipal, who would famously gather ancient Mesopotamian literary works for his famous library, had already begun collecting such works during the reign of Esarhaddon. It is possible that Esarhaddon is to be credited with encouraging Ashubanipal’s collection and education.[18]

 

Name comparisons

 

The name “Esarhaddon” can by no means be considered a good fit for “Osnapper” (var. “Asnapper”, “Asenaphar”). Ashurbanipal fits somewhat better, but an even better fit still is the name Ashurnasirpal.

Troy Lacey, in “Recent Archaeological Finds in Assyria Corroborate Scripture”:

https://answersingenesis.org/archaeology/recent-archaeological-finds-assyria-corroborate-scripture/

sees this Ashurnasirpal as the type of resettling Assyrian king as depicted in Ezra 4:10, though he follows the conventional dating that has Ashurnasirpal as a ” prior ruler to those mentioned above whose reign is conventionally dated from 883–859 BC”. Thus he writes:

 

“Ashurbanipal, the author of the last inscription above, was the son of Esarhaddon and is also mentioned in Scripture but, depending on the translation, may be called by that name or by Asnappar, Osnapper, or Asenaphar in Ezra 4:10, where he is also listed as an Assyrian king who relocated non-Israelite people to the regions of Samaria.

“It is worth noting that a few of the inscriptions found in the 1987–1992 excavation, as well as the newly discovered tunnel inscriptions, corroborate biblical people and place-names, as well as the biblical accounts of Assyrian practices. For example, an inscription of Ashurnasirpal II (prior ruler to those mentioned above whose reign is conventionally dated from 883–859 BC) states,

The ancient city Calah which Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, a ruler who preceded me, had built—this city had become dilapidated; it lay dormant (and) had turned into ruin hills. I rebuilt this city. I took people which I had conquered from the lands over which I had gained dominion, from the land Suḫu, (from) the entire land Laqû, (from) the city Sirqu which is at the crossing of the Euphrates, (from) the entire land of Zamua, from Bīt-Adini and the Ḫatti, and from Lubarna (Liburna), the Ḫatinu. I settled (them) therein.

“The above Ashurnasirpal II passage not only demonstrates a prevailing methodology of resettlement as recorded to still be practice generations later, as in Ezr a 4:10 (NKJV), but the city of Calah is also mentioned in Genesis 10:11–12.” [End of quotes]

 

The names, “Ashurnasirpal” (Aššur-nāṣir-apli … “the god Aššur is the protector of the heir,”): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashurnasirpal_I

and “Ashurbanipal” (Aššur-bāni-apli, meaning “Ashur has given a son-heir”): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashurbanipal are quite similar, both phonetically and as to meaning.

And we recall, too, that Esarhaddon had another name featuring similar elements “Ashur … mukin apli”: Ashur … (is) establisher of a legitimate heir”.

Another similar name that is going to be important for us is that of the Assyrian king, Ashur-nadin-apli, successor of Tukulti-Ninurta. Ashur-nadin-apli was variously named, as we shall learn, Ashur-nasir-apli (that is, Ashurnasirpal).

 

In conventional terms, Esarhaddon’s reign (c. 680-668 BC) runs far shorter than does that of Ashurnasirpal (c. 883-859 BC), but more especially than that of the very long-reigning Ashurbanipal (c. 668-625 BC), whose lengthy 43-year reign will turn out to be the correct figure for our composite “king of Nineveh” (see Appendix B).

 

Introducing the fish-man 

 

Why is Ashurnasirpal, Ashurbanipal, important in the Jonah context?

 

Ashurnasirpal is important, I suggest, because he was the one during whose reign there was depicted the bas-relief of the fish-man figure (as reproduced in Bill Cooper’s article) on the wall of his North-West Palace at Nimrud (Calah).

 

Was this ‘the sign of the prophet Jonah’ (Matthew 12:39), now depicted in carved stone by the architects of the Great King of Assyria?

Large whales were being hunted, too, at the time of Ashurnasirpal. P. Haupt, in “Jonah’s Whale” (Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 46, no. 18), tells of king Ashurnasirpal receiving as tribute from Phoenicia some teeth bones that Haupt thinks must have belonged to a sperm whale (pp. 155, 156):

 

“Sperm-whales are found in the Mediterranean, although they are not frequent. … in a passage of the cuneiform annals of Assur-nacir-pal [Ashurnasirpal] we read that this Assyrian king received, as tribute from Tyre, Zidon, Arvad, and other places on the Phoenician coast, ivory teeth of the blower, the creature of the sea. This blower with ivory teeth cannot have been a narwhal … or walrus … these animals are not found in the Mediterranean. The sperm-whale has, on each side of the lower jaw …from 20 to 25 conical (slightly recurved) teeth which consist of the finest ivory”.

 

Haupt, who does not actually believe that Jonah could have survived for three days in a whale, tells, nevertheless, that (p. 162): “… the head of a giant sperm-whale may be more than 30 feet long”.

 

The Assyrian king must have been impressed with his gift of whale teeth bones. Haupt again (p. 157):

 

“… Assur-nacir-pal (885-860) states that he placed two blowers of Ad-Bar-stone at the gates of the palaces in the ancient capital of Assyria, Assur, now known as Kileh Shergat … the ideogram Ad-Bar means basalt and … the field-director of the German excavations at Kileh Shergat reports that a great many basalt fragments of sculptures have been found, but the restoration of the figures has not been accomplished. Assyriologists did not know that nakhiru,… blower meant sperm-whale”.

 

The city of Calah (at Nimrud) was important, too, for Esarhaddon. Thus writes Barbara N. Porter (Images, Power, and Politics: figurative aspects of Esarhaddon’s Babylonian policy, 1994, pp. 71-72): “… Esarhaddon was actively engaged in the expansion of the the already large fort and palace complex, or ekal masarti, in the Assyrian city of Calah (Nimrud), not far from Nineveh. …. This building was the centerpiece of Esarhaddon’s extensive program to redevelop Calah as a military and administrative center for Assyria, a program that continued to the end of his reign”.

And it will be during the reign of Ashurbanipal that there occurs the first appearance of “Oannes”.

Thus Frank M. Conaway (The Kundalini Yoga Christian Master Is, 2014, p. 68) writes:

 

“Biblical scholars have speculated that Jonah may have been in part the inspiration behind the figure of Oannes in late Babylonian mythology …. The deity named “Oannes” first occurs in texts from the library of Ashurbanipal (more than a century after the time of Jonah) [sic] as Uanna or Uan, but is assimilated to Adapa …”. [End of quote]

 

Assimilating holy, miracle-working men to gods (apotheosis) is what pagans have tended to do.

Did not the Lycaonians seek to deify the miracle-working Paul and Barnabas? (Acts 14:11-12):

“When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’ Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker”.

Again, Daniel 2:46: “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him”.

 

Illness

 

Famously, Ashurnasirpal (I, so-called), likewise Esarhaddon, likewise Ashurbanipal, suffered from a long and extraordinary illness.

Ashurnasirpal will desperately pray to the goddess Ishtar for a cure … “lamentation over the kings underserved suffering for a persistent illness” (Donald F. Murray, Divine Prerogative and Royal Pretension: Pragmatics, Poetics and Polemics …, 1998, pp. 266-267):

http://jewishchristianlit.com/Texts/ANEhymns/lamIshtr.html

 

….

‘I have cried to thee, suffering, wearied, and distressed, as thy servant.
See me O my Lady, accept my prayers.
Faithfully look upon me and hear my supplication.
Promise my forgiveness and let thy spirit be appeased.
Pity! For my wretched body which is full of confusion and trouble.
Pity! For my sickened heart which is full of tears and suffering.
Pity! For my wretched intestines (which are full of) confusion and trouble.
Pity! For my afflicted house which mourns bitterly.
Pity! For my feelings which are satiated with tears and suffering.
O exalted Irnini, fierce lion, let thy heart be at rest.
O angry wild ox, let thy spirit be appeased.
Let the favor of thine eyes be upon me.
With thy bright features look faithfully upon me.
Drive away the evil spells of my body (and) let me see thy bright light.
How long, O my Lady, shall my adversaries be looking upon me,
In lying and untruth shall they plan evil against me,
Shall my pursuers and those who exult over me rage against me?
How long, O my Lady, shall the crippled and weak seek me out?
One has made for me long sackcloth; thus I have appeared before thee.
The weak have become strong; but I am weak.
I toss about like flood-water, which an evil wind makes violent.
My heart is flying; it keeps fluttering like a bird of heaven.
I mourn like a dove night and day.
I am beaten down, and so I weep bitterly.
With “Oh” and “Alas” my spirit is distressed.
I – what have I done, O my god and my goddess?
Like one who does not fear my god and my goddess I am treated;
While sickness, headache, loss, and destruction are provided for me;
So are fixed upon me terror, disdain, and fullness of wrath,
Anger, choler, and indignation of gods and men.
I have to expect, O my Lady, dark days, gloomy months, and years of trouble.
I have to expect, O my Lady, judgment of confusion and violence.
Death and trouble are bringing me to an end.
Silent is my chapel; silent is my holy place;
Over my house, my gate, and my fields silence is poured out.
As for my god, his face is turned to the sanctuary of another.
My family is scattered; my roof is broken up.
(But) I have paid heed to thee, my Lady; my attention has been turned to thee.
To thee have I prayed; forgive my debt.
Forgive my sin, my iniquity, my shameful deeds, and my offence.
Overlook my shameful deeds; accept my prayer;
Loosen my fetters; secure my deliverance;
Guide my steps aright; radiantly like a hero let me enter the streets with the living’.

….

 

Did readers pick up Ashurnasirpal’s reference here (seemingly straight out of Isaiah 38:14? KJV: ‘I did mourn as a dove’): “I mourn like a dove”?

Ashurbanipal suffered an enduring illness. 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

….

 

… 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!

 

  1. Relent, my god! Accept my supplication!

 

  1. Harken to my weary prayers!

 

  1. Learn at once the disgrace that has befallen me!

 

  1. Keep listening to my lament, which I have made!

 

  1. May the night bring you the tears which I weep!

 

  1. Since the day (you), my lord, punished me,

 

  1. and (you), the god who created me, became furious with me,

 

  1. (since the day) you turned my house into my prison,

 

  1. my bed is the ground, my sleeping place is dust,

 

  1. I am deprived of sleep, distressed by nightmares,

 

  1. I am troubled [in my …], confused [in my …].

 

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

 

 

And Esarhaddon?

Karen Radner provides this quite unsettling account of Esarhaddon’s most unusual and constant illness (in “The Trials of Esarhaddon: The Conspiracy of 670 BC”, 2007):

https://www.academia.edu/441293/2003_The_Trials_of_Esarhaddon_the_Conspiracy_of_670_BC._In_P._Miglus_and_J.M._Cordoba_eds._Assur_und_sein_Umland._Isimu_Revista_sobre_Oriente_Proximo_y_Egipto_en_la_antiguedad_6_2003_165-184_published_2007_?auto=download

 

“…. 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 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. 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 I 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?’. ….” [End of quote]

For something akin to this in modern times, read Richard B. Sorensen’s account of Charles Darwin’s strange and terrible illness in “The Darwinian Emperor is Naked” (2011):
https://www.academia.edu/42232462/The_Darwinian_Emperor_is_Naked

 

Unsurpassed cruelty

When, in Part One, B., I described Esarhaddon as “outdoing others with his cruelty and vengefulness, terrifying”, I had particularly in mind his alter ego of Ashurnasirpal, the cruellest of the cruel amongst the generally merciless Assyrian kings.

Erika Belibtreu writes of it in her article, “Grisly Assyrian Record of Torture and Death” (Editor, H. S. (2002;2002). BAR 17:01 (Jan/Feb 1991). Biblical Archaeology Society):
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f4af/bb82f1b7920fa9444e29eb128bd13832cd46.pdf

 

“The inscriptions and the pictorial evidence both provide detailed information regarding the Assyrian treatment of conquered peoples, their armies and their rulers. In his official royal inscriptions, Ashurnasirpal II calls himself the “trampler of all enemies … who defeated all his enemies [and] hung the corpses of his enemies on posts.” † The treatment of captured enemies often depended on their readiness to submit themselves to the will of the Assyrian king:

“The nobles [and] elders of the city came out to me to save their lives. They seized my feet and said: ‘If it pleases you, kill! If it pleases you, spare! If it pleases you, do what you will!’” †

“In one case when a city resisted as long as possible instead of immediately submitting, Ashurnasirpal proudly records his punishment:

 

“I flayed as many nobles as had rebelled against me [and] draped their skins over the pile [of corpses]; some I spread out within the pile, some I erected on stakes upon the pile … I flayed many right through my land [and] draped their skins over the walls.” †

“The account was probably intended not only to describe what had happened, but also to frighten anyone who might dare to resist. To suppress his enemies was the king’s divine task. Supported by the gods, he always had to be victorious in battle and to punish disobedient people:

“I felled 50 of their fighting men with the sword, burnt 200 captives from them, [and] defeated in a battle on the plain 332 troops. … With their blood I dyed the mountain red like red wool, [and] the rest of them the ravines [and] torrents of the mountain swallowed. I carried off captives [and] possessions from them. I cut off the heads of their fighters [and] built [therewith] a tower before their city. I burnt their adolescent boys [and] girls.” †

“A description of another conquest is even worse:

“In strife and conflict I besieged [and] conquered the city. I felled 3,000 of their fighting men with the sword … I captured many troops alive: I cut off of some their arms [and] hands; I cut off of others their noses, ears, [and] extremities. I gouged out the eyes of many troops. I made one pile of the living [and] one of heads. I hung their heads on trees around the city.” †

“The palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud is the first, so far as we know, in which carved stone slabs were used in addition to the usual wall paintings. These carvings portray many of the scenes described in words in the annals”. [End of quotes]

 

Erika Belibtreu now moves on to describe the grisly Esarhaddon:

“Sennacherib was murdered by his own sons. Another son, Esarhaddon, became his successor. As the following examples show, Esarhaddon treated his enemies just as his father and grandfather had treated theirs:

“Like a fish I caught him up out of the sea and cut off his head,” † he said of the king of Sidon; “Their blood, like a broken dam, I caused to flow down the mountain gullies”; † and “I hung the heads of Sanduarri [king of the cities of Kundi and Sizu] and Abdi-milkutti [king of Sidon] on the shoulders of their nobles and with singing and music I paraded through the public square of Nineveh. †”.

And, finally, she tells of the abominable cruelty of Ashurbanipal, supposed son of Esarhaddon:

“Ashurbanipal, Esarhaddon’s son, boasted:

“Their dismembered bodies I fed to the dogs, swine, wolves, and eagles, to the birds of heaven and the fish in the deep…. What was left of the feast of the dogs and swine, of their members which blocked the streets and filled the squares, I ordered them to remove from Babylon, Kutha and Sippar, and to cast them upon heaps.” †

“When Ashurbanipal didn’t kill his captives he “pierced the lips (and) took them to Assyria as a spectacle for the people of my land.” † The enemy to the southeast of Assyria, the people of Elam, underwent a special punishment that did not spare even their dead:

“The sepulchers of their earlier and later kings, who did not fear Assur and Ishtar, my lords, (and who) had plagued the kings, my fathers, I destroyed, I devastated, I exposed to the sun. Their bones (members) I carried off to Assyria. I laid restlessness upon their shades.

I deprived them of food-offerings and libations of water.” †

“Among the reliefs carved by Ashurbanipal were pictures of the mass deportation of the Elamites, together with severed heads assembled in heaps. Two Elamites are seen fastened to the ground while their skin is flayed, while others are having their tongues pulled out. There is no reason to doubt the historical accuracy of these portrayals and descriptions. Such punishments no doubt helped to secure the payment of tribute—silver, gold, tin, copper, bronze and iron, as well as building materials including wood, all of which was necessary for the economic survival of the Assyrian empire”. [End of quotes]

Was Ashurbanipal a vindictive type?

According to Lori L. Rowlett (Joshua and the Rhetoric of Violence: A New Historicist Analysis, 1996, p. 112): “’Ashurbanipal’s] treatment of his enemies (internal and external) is particularly horrible and vindictive …”.

 

And yet this – our biblical “king of Nineveh” – was surprisingly literate and scholarly, having created a marvellous royal library at Nineveh, and having also proudly proclaimed: ‘I read the beautiful clay tablets from Sumer and the Akkadian writing, which is hard to master. I had the joy of reading inscriptions on stone from the time before the Flood.’
Commenting on this, we read (originally published in Creation 9, no. 1, December 1986, p. 12):
https://answersingenesis.org/archaeology/who-said-it/

“This statement was made by King Ashurbanipal … [who] ruled Assyria from his palace at Nineveh. He ruled in the seventh century BC. This statement of his was uncovered in 1853 by Hormuzd Rassam, who discovered Ashurbanipal’s royal library. It consisted of two adjoining high-vaulted rooms stacked high with thousands of priceless clay tablets, one of which contained Ashurbanipal’s statement which in full reads: ‘I Ashur-bani-pal, within the palace, learned the wisdom of Nebo, the entire art of writing on clay tablets of every kind. I made myself master of the various kinds of writing. . .I read the beautiful clay tablets from Sumer and the Akkadian writing, which is hard to master. I had the joy of reading inscriptions on stone from the time before the flood’.” [End of quotes]

 

Marc Van de Mieroop considers Ashurbanipal’s literacy when he writes: “The king clearly wanted to set himself apart from others by claiming knowledge of writing and of secret lore, and presented the library as something completed for his own interests”. (A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000 – 323 BC, Blackwell, 2004, p. 245).

To balance that civilised sense of culture, again, we have the famous “Garden Party” relief, in which “… the enthroned queen and reclining king [Ashurbanipal], who feast in the arbour amid the vines, conifers and palms, hung with the grisly trophies of victory, consisting of the head and hand holding a wand of Teumman, king of Elam” (The British Museum, “wall panel; relief”):
https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/W_1856-0909-53

Esarhaddon’s art is most similar to Ashurbanipal’s. Consider this, for example:
https://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/plaque-king-esarhaddon-and-queen-mother-nakija

“The king [Esarhaddon] is wearing a beard and the truncated conical tiara of the Assyrian sovereigns.

The queen’s crown is crenelated, like the one worn by the wife of King Ashurbanipal on the relief known as the “Garden Party relief,” now in the British Museum, London”.

I have shown above that our composite “king of Nineveh”, Ashurnasirpal-Esarhaddon-Ashurbanipal, shared many common features among his three alter egos. And one could easily multiply examples.

 

Now I need to knit this more complex version of the “king of Nineveh” into the life of Jonah.

Jonah’s Jeroboam II and contemporaneous Assyrian kings

Thankfully, we appear to have an historical synchronism between an Assyrian king, Adad-nirari (III), and the supposed father of Jeroboam II, Jehoash. Thus Edwin R. Thiele writes (op. cit., p. 112): “In 1967 a stele was found at Tell al Rimah that has twelve lines dealing with a campaign of Adad-nirari III in the Mediterranean area. Of particular interest to students of the Old Testament is the mention of the receipt of tribute from “Ja’asu of Samaria,” or Jehoash”.

{Jehoash, rather than his father, Jehoahaz, is generally considered to be the more preferable translation of the name Ja’asu in the Assyrian al-Rimah text, and it is the one that I accept}.

 

I have referred above to Jehoash as “the supposed father of Jeroboam II”, because, in my revised history of Israel, I have found it necessary to merge the powerful Jehoash with Jeroboam II.

Jeroboam II is a hugely controversial king. This is clear, for example, from Todd Bolen’s opening remark about him in his article, “The Reign of Jeroboam II: A Historical and Archaeological Interpretation” (2002):

https://www.academia.edu/1644551/The_Reign_of_Jeroboam_II_A_Historical_and_Archaeological_Interpretation “Jeroboam II was one such king whose importance to Israel’s political history went virtually unnoticed in the biblical record. Though he ruled longer than any other king of the north, the Scriptures accord him one of the briefest treatments of all kings (2 Kings 14:23-29)”.

Information like this, for me, cries out the need for an alter ego for this notable king!

As in the case of the famed king Omri of Israel, there is no mention whatsoever of king Jeroboam II in Chronicles. Surprisingly, again, the Scriptures never at all refer to “the House of Omri”, despite its great reputation – the neo-Assyrian kings were still alluding to the House of Omri (as Bit Khumri) even as late as Sargon II (c. 720 BC), e.g., “all the land of the House of Omri” (Palace Door, Small Summary Inscription, Cylinder Inscription, Bull Inscription).

Omri, clearly contemporaneous with the Syrian king, Tab-rimmon, father of Ben-Hadad I (I Kings 20:34), must be merged – so I have argued – with the first king Jeroboam (I), likewise a contemporary of Tab-rimmon. See e.g. my article:

 

Great King Omri missing from Chronicles

 

https://www.academia.edu/42235075/Great_King_Omri_missing_from_Chronicles

On the Judaean side (subject matter really for Appendix B), king Abijah, also a contemporary of the Syrian Tab-rimmon, gets substantial and impressive coverage in 2 Chronicles (13:1-22), even though he is supposed to have reigned for only “three years” (I Kings 15:2). The biblical account of him would suggest that he must have reigned for much longer than this (2 Chronicles 13:21-22): “But Abijah grew in strength. He married fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. The other events of Abijah’s reign, what he did and what he said, are written in the annotations of the prophet Iddo”.

For this reason, and due to the fact that Abijah and Asa apparently had the same mother, Maacah, or Maakah (cf. I Kings 15:2; 15:10), I have merged Abijah with the long-reigning Asa.
And I felt it necessary to do the same with the later king of Judah, Amon, of only “two years” of reign, yet who supposedly was a king even more evil than his father, the very long-reigning Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:21-23). In my scheme, Amon, in captivity, will eventually morph into Aman (Haman) of the Book of Esther.

And, finally, there is Shallum king of Israel, another wicked and murderous king, who supposedly reigned for only “one month” (2 Kings 15:13) – he, as I have determined, has needed to be expanded to embrace an alter ego in the 22-year reigning Pekah king of Israel (2 Kings 15:27).

According to my revision for early Israel, then, Jeroboam I = Omri (House of Jeroboam); his persistent foe Tibni = Tab-rimmon; Baasha of Israel = Ahab (House of Baasha, House of Ahab); Zimri = Jehu (House of Jehu).

King Ahab, of the tribe of Issachar (as Baasha) (I Kings 15:27), must have been a “son of Omri”

(16:30), not directly, but, say, through, marriage.

My revision also enables now for Jehoash (= Jeroboam II) to connect up with Jonah and 2 Kings 14:25.

The dynasty of Jehu, king of Israel, is conventionally listed as (i) Jehu followed by (ii)-(v) his four sons (2 Kings 10:30): “Therefore your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.”

I now, however, would take that “fourth” to include Jehu himself, who was followed by Jehoahaz, then by Jehoash – whom I have identified as Jeroboam II – and, finally, by the short-reigning Zechariah (2 Kings 13:1-15:11). Four (i)-(iv) kings in total.

That enables for a biblical question the better to be answered: Who was the “saviour” of 2 Kings 13:5? Was it Jehoash, who thrice defeated the Syrians, as according to the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 13:19), or was it Jeroboam II, who greatly extended Israel’s territory, as according to Jonah (2 Kings 14:25)?

 

My answer: It was Jehoash, who was Jeroboam II.

Jonah’s prediction, therefore, was modelled on that of the prophet Elisha, both oracles concerning the same aggressive king of Israel.

 

All of this is included in my shortening of the history of Israel to which I alluded in Part One, enabling (as we progress beyond Jeroboam II) for a prophet such as Jonah, who was contemporaneous with Jeroboam II, to have been less than 85-90 years old (as in conventional terms) early in the reign of Esarhaddon of Assyria – my favoured time for Jonah’s intervention.
For, regarding my radical reconstruction of late Israel, Jehu’s last descendant, Zechariah = Pekahiah (murdered); Shallum = Pekah (murderer-murdered); and Menahem = Hosea (murderer).

Thus I have concluded that only three, rather than six, kings of late Israel, murder and/or are murdered, which seems to me to be a far more reasonable scenario than is the standard interpretation.

That alteration, too, will effectively lop off about a dozen or so years from the age of Jonah at Nineveh.

Now, finally, we can start bringing the Assyrian kings into proper alignment.

The perfect sequence of Assyrian kings, touching on both Adad-nirari and Jonah’s “king of Nineveh”, in his guise of Ashurnasirpal, can be found in this bloc (conventionally C14th-C13th-dated), taken from M. Van de Mieroop, op, cit., p. 294):

 

Adad-nirari I (1305-1274 BC)

Shalmaneser I (1273-44)

Tukulti-Ninurta I (1243-07)

Assur-nadin-apli (1202-1197)

 

Let us reconstruct this list with the aid of the life of Jonah.

 

Adad-nirari I must now merge into (II and) III, he becoming the king who took tribute from Jehoash = Jeroboam II early in the prophetic career of Jonah. One must think that king Jeroboam II’s opportunity to take back territory stolen from Israel by Damascus and Hamath (2 Kings 14:25) had occurred when Adad-nirari defeated the city of Damascus: https://www.bible.ca/manuscripts/bible-archeology-Adad-Nirari-III-king-of-Assyria-stele-inscriptions-statues-810-783bc.htm “The defeat of Aram-Damascus by Adad-nirari III about 796 [BC] liberated Israel from Aramean oppression”.”

Shalmaneser I now becomes II-IV, and the powerful, but poorly attested (as we have seen above), Shalmaneser V of the era when the capital city of Samaria was besieged by the Assyrians.
He likely, also, was the “Shalman [who] destroyed Beth-arbel” as referred to by Hosea (= my Jonah) (Hosea 10:14).

Tukulti-Ninurta I (II), I have argued, was Sennacherib, the predecessor of Jonah’s king, Esarhaddon:

 

Can Tukulti-Ninurta I be king Sennacherib?

 

https://www.academia.edu/40246318/Can_Tukulti-Ninurta_I_be_king_Sennacherib

 

He, Sennacherib, must also be the twice-mentioned “King Jareb” of Hosea 5:13 and 10:6, for the name, Sennacherib (Sîn-aḥḥē-erība) contains that same Jareb (Iareb) element in eriba.

Ashur-nadin-apli (already briefly discussed) was also known as Ashur-nasir-apli, that is, Ashurnasirpal = Esarhaddon), our biblical “king of Nineveh”.

 

This is the correct sequence of neo-Assyrian kings, these needing to be lifted out of c.1300-1200 BC and into c. 800-700 BC.

This 500-year (approx.) re-dating concurs well with Dr. I. Velikovsky’s revision (Ages in Chaos, I, 1952) according to which the supposed C14th BC era of El Amarna (EA) (of the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaohs Amenhotep III and Akhnaton) needs to be folded into the C9th BC era of Israel’s early Divided Monarchy.

 

What about Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon II it may well be asked?

The Book of Tobit supplies us with the original, correct sequence here:

 

(i) “Shalmaneser”, whom Tobit faithfully served, was apparently a long-reigning king (Tobit 1:8): “But after a long time, Salmanasar [Shalamneser] the king being dead … Sennacherib, his son … reigned in his place”. This statement does not fit the presumably short and obscure reign of Shalmaneser V, who thus needs to find his more prominent alter ego. “Shalmaneser” was the one who took into captivity the northern Israelites (e.g. Tobit’s Naphtalians) (Tobit 1:10), as Tiglath-pileser III is known to have done. Hence Shalmaneser = Tiglathpileser. (I had already argued for Tiglath-pileser III as Shalmaneser V in my postgraduate thesis on King Hezekiah of Judah, and there, as well, I identified Tiglath-pileser III with Tiglath-pileser I (conventionally dated to c. 1114-1076 BC)).

Upon his death, “Shalmaneser” was (as we have just read) succeeded by:

(ii) “Sennacherib”. No mention of a “Sargon” by Tobit.

In my university thesis I painstakingly identified Sargon II with Sennacherib (esp. in Vol. One, ch. 6).

Sennacherib, in turn, was succeeded by

(iii) “Esarhaddon” (Tobit 1:21).

Thus we have a nice sequential, parallel-fit between Marc van de Mieroop’s ‘Middle’ Assyrian kings (when properly identified) and Tobit’s ‘Neo’ Assyrian ones:

 

Adad-nirari I

Shalmaneser I = “Shalmaneser”

Tukulti-Ninurta I = “Sennacherib”

Assur-nadin-apli = “Esarhaddon”

 

 

Shalmaneser, in his guise as III (c. 859-824 BC, conventional dating), requires some special comment.

He would become a most problematical king for Dr. Velikovsky’s revision, bestriding, as he supposedly does, the very century, the C9th, to which Velikovsky had re-located the EA era (conventionally dated to the C14th BC), whose Assyrian king is known to have been one “Assuruballit”. (EA 15, 16)

This has become known in the revision as “The Assuruballit Problem” (TAP).

Dr. Velikovsky’s effort at a solution was to identify Shalmaneser III with the Babylonian (Karduniash) king, Burnaburiah (or Burraburiash). He also hopefully ‘found’ the name “Shalmaneser” in EA 11, written by Burnaburiash, as “Shalmaiati”, who, though, was probably a woman, generally considered to have been Akhnaton’s new wife Meritaten.

Revisionist Emmet John Sweeney would later start a move in the right direction by lifting Shalmaneser III out of the EA period, identifying his supposed father, Ashurnasirpal II, as EA’s “Assuruballit”, to be then followed by Shalmaneser III (Empire of Thebes, Or, Ages in Chaos Revisited, p. 118).

Now, I have lifted Shalmaneser III even further out of EA, into the mid-to-later C8th BC.
According to my revised system, Shalmaneser does not follow on from Ashurnasirpal, who, instead, as Esarhaddon, reigned two generations after Shalmaneser.

 

My compound “Shalmaneser” (I-V), now reigning for about 35 years, would have covered a historico-biblical period (as I now estimate it) going backwards from c. 722 BC (conventional Fall of Samaria and death of Shalmaneser V), then spanning the approximate decade reign of Menahem-Hoshea; the 22-year reign of Shallum-Pekah; the two years of Zechariah-Pekahiah; and the last few years of Jehoash-Jeroboam II.

The earlier part of the reign of Jehoash-Jeroboam II, already during the lifetime of the prophet Jonah, would have coincided with the fairly lengthy reign of the Assyrian king, Adad-nirari (I-III).
This puts Adad-nirari in a chronologically reasonable range of EA’s Assuruballit (Ashuruballit), of whom Adad-nirari’ was apparently a “great grandson”: https://www.penn.museum/sites/journal/836

Appropriately, too, Adad-nirari now immediately precedes my combined Shalmaneser-Tiglath-pileser: “Tiglath-Pileser III described himself as a son of Adad-nirari in his inscriptions …”:
https://www.geni.com/people/Adad-nirari-III-king-of-Assyria/6000000003645908243

Appropriately, too, yet again, one finds Shalmaneser’s alter ego, Tiglath-pileser (or “Pul”), figuring in the biblico-histories of Pekah (2 Kings 16:5, 7) and of Menahem (15:19): “Then Pul king of Assyria invaded the land, and Menahem gave him a thousand talents of silver …”, Menahem being my Hoshea: “The Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III claimed that he made Hoshea king, and Hoshea paid an annual tribute to

him”: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hoshea

 

To sum up Appendix A: The “king of Nineveh” at the time of the prophet Jonah (who was also Isaiah = Hosea), was an Assyrian composite: Ashurnasirpal-Esarhaddon-Ashurbanipal, who needs to be re-connected with his ‘Middle’ Assyrian alter ego, Assur-nadin-apli (Assur-danin-apli), or Ashurnasirpal.

The Israelite king contemporaneous with Jonah’s early prophecy (2 Kings 14:25), namely, Jeroboam II, was the same as Jehoash of Israel, and he was the “saviour” of 2 Kings 13:5.

 

Appendix B:

Moulding Babylonian history to Judah’s history


Nebuchednezzar now becomes key

Jeremiah 51:34: “Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has devoured me; he has crushed me. He has set me aside like an empty dish; he has swallowed me like a sea monster; he filled his belly with my delicacies; he has vomited me out”.

 

Who could read this verse from the Book of Jeremiah without thinking of Jonah and the sea monster?

One commentary (easyenglish.bible), at least, which includes v. 35, has not missed the comparison:

https://www.easyenglish.bible/bible-commentary/jeremiah45-52-lbw.htm

 

“Verses 34-35 These verses describe the way in which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had defeated Jerusalem. They describe him like a greedy person. He was eating like a hungry animal. He had eaten Jerusalem. He had left Jerusalem empty. It was like a jar of wine that he had drunk. Also he was like a great sea snake that had filled its stomach with rich food. The rich food was the wealth from Jerusalem that Nebuchadnezzar had taken. Perhaps the people remembered the story about Jonah. A great fish swallowed Jonah. In a similar way, Babylon took into its country everything that had belonged to Israel. Jonah returned to land when the fish coughed him out”. [End of quote]

 

“Perhaps the people remembered the story about Jonah”.

Conventionally estimated, Jonah’s “story” would have needed ‘remembering’ because it would have occurred more than 70 years before (early Esarhaddon, c. 680 BC, to Nebuchednezzar, c. 605 BC) as an absolute minimum time span.

And add to that another 60+ years if it had occurred during the reign of Jeroboam II, as some think.

That is well over a century from when Nebuchednezzar himself had begun to reign.

But what if all of those ‘conventional estimates’ are wrong, and king Nebuchednezzar was, in fact, a contemporary of Jonah’s?

Wouldn’t that cast a whole new perspective upon Nebuchednezzar as an all-devouring sea serpent?

It may not surprise readers by now to learn that I do consider the conventional estimates to be wrong.

What might well come as a surprise to readers, though, is that I also believe Nebuchednezzar to have been a contemporary of the prophet Jonah.

And I would take it even further than that – Nebuchednezzar was, in fact, Esarhaddon himself.
See e.g. my article:

 

Esarhaddon a tolerable fit for King Nebuchednezzar

 

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

 

This means that Nebuchednezzar, too, is now to be identified as Jonah’s “king of Nineveh”, which revised scenario must offer a far deeper meaning to king Nebuchednezzar as a voracious sea monster.

The Hebrew word used for “sea monster” in this case, tannin (תַּנִּ֔י), is different from both the one used in the Book of Jonah (e.g., 1:17), dag (דָּג), and that used by Jonah’s father, Amos (9:3), nachash (נָּחָ֖שׁ).

 

In the New Testament (e.g., Matthew 12:40), the huge creature is called cetos (kētŏs).

 

The meanings of this host of names tend to cover a very wide variety of creatures, including whales: e.g., sea-serpent or jackal: dragon, crocodile, sea monster, serpent, snake, whale, (huge) fish, shark.

In Appendix A, we found that the sperm-whale was being hunted, captured, and its ivory teeth traded, at the time of our “king of Nineveh” (in his guise as Ashurnasirpal).

Merging Nebuchednezzar with Ashurnasirpal-Esarhaddon-Ashurbanipal

Earlier in this article (Part One, D.) I had asserted that Esarhaddon had been involved with his oldest brother, Ashur-nadin-shumi (= “Holofernes”), in the debacle in Israel of the 185,000-strong Assyrian army:

“Esarhaddon was under extreme duress, in part because of the great debacle that had occurred in Israel …”.

This clue I had picked up from Jewish tradition, which does not refer to Esarhaddon in this context, but, most surprisingly, to “Nebuchadnezzar”. Thus the Jewishencyclopedia:

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-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 [sic] (Sanh. 95b)”.

In an article that I wrote around this precious piece of information, I put forward the suggestion that Nebuchednezzar (= Esarhaddon) would have been the official second to “Holofernes” in the Book of Judith, namely, “Bagoas”. (The Book of Judith in its present form contains a confusion of various names). The article to which I refer here is:

 

An early glimpse of Nebuchednezzar II?

 

https://www.academia.edu/38114479/An_early_glimpse_of_Nebuchednezzar_II

 

Obviously, Nebuchednezzar could not have fulfilled this Jewish tradition in the context of the lengthy conventional chronology, but he can now in mine, as Esarhaddon.

 

Nebuchednezzar has much in common with our composite Assyrian “king of Nineveh”, Ashurnasirpal-Esarhaddon-Ashurbanipal.

He shares a terrible, alienating illness (Daniel 4:28-33) with all three names, especially Esarhaddon.

Like Esarhaddon again, particularly, Nebuchednezzar is utterly paranoid, ready to bump off his own advisers (2:5): “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’.”

And, after they quite reasonably complained about this, the king only repeats it (vv. 8-9): ‘I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me’.”

This seemingly capricious behaviour, by a king who may have been “the basest of men” (Daniel 4:17), is perhaps better understandable, at least, in the context of Esarhaddon and the revolt going on all around him. No one was to be trusted. Thus Nebuchednezzar says: ‘I am certain that you are trying to gain time … hoping the situation will change’.

 

Was king Nebuchednezzar looking for an excuse to kill off all of the sycophants?

His ferocious cruelty is perhaps best reflected by his other alter ego, Ashurnasirpal.

Esarhaddon would, it is known, “put numerous of his officers to the sword in Assyria” (Paul-Alain Beaulieu, A History of Babylon, 2200 BC – AD 75, 2017, p. 211).

We might recall (from Appendix A) Mattias Karlsson’s surprising piece of information that there is only one statue today of Ashurnasirpal. It, though, like the statue (or image) made by Daniel’s “King Nebuchadnezzar”, was of ‘gold’ (Daniel 3:1). Karlsson (op. cit.):

“Ashurnasirpal II narrates that he commissioned a luxurious statue of himself in red gold …”.

 

 

The image in Daniel may possbly have been an image of a god, since Ashurnasirpal also told of his creating, with all of his skill, and from “the best stone of the mountain and red gold”, a statue of the god Ninurta. (Andrew R. Davis, Reconstructing the Temple: The Royal Rhetoric of Temple Renovation in the Ancient Near East and Israel, 2019, p. 27).

The missing portraiture of Nebuchednezzar, about which Dr. Velikovsky had commented, can easily be accounted for in the abundant extant portraiture of his alter egos.

Nebuchednezzar’s known rule length of 43-years is not well matched by Esarhaddon, whose relatively short career (according to the text books) seems to cover only the first part of the reign of Nebuchednezzar, his securing of the throne; his illness; and his bulding of Babylon (Daniel 4:30): ‘Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?’

But, in these few matters, Esarhaddon is a perfect replica of Nebuchednezzar.

“[Esarhaddon] is best known for re-building Babylon (which his father had destroyed) …”.

https://www.ancient.eu/Esarhaddon/

 

{I do not actually think that Esarhaddon, the “son” of Sennacherib (cf. Tobit 1:21), was  a direct son of Sennacherib, but more likely, as we read above, a “son-in-law of Sennacherib (Targ. to Isa. x. 32; Lam. R., Introduction, 23, says “a grandson”) …”.}

 

Nebuchednezzar’s 43-year reign length is matched perfectly, though, by Ashurbanipal’s rule of the very same length.

Ashurbanipal is a most important supplement indeed for the historical Nebuchednezzar, for whom some significant biblically-attested incidents, such as his destruction of Egypt, and of Elam, are largely unattested in any historical records pertaining to Nebuchednezzar (qua) Nebuchednezzar.

But they are not overlooked in the annals of Ashurbanipal, an expansionist king like Nebuchednezzar (and just like the vainglorious Ashurnasirpal).

Joshua J. Mark sums up Ashurnanipal’s relevant conquests in his article, “Ashurbanipal”:

https://www.ancient.eu/Ashurbanipal/

 

“He achieved the greatest territorial expansion of the Assyrian Empire which included BabyloniaPersiaSyria, and Egypt …. Ashurbanipal was a popular king who ruled his citizens fairly but was marked for his cruelty toward those whom he defeated, the best-known example being a relief depicting the defeated king with a dog chain through his jaw, being forced to live in a kennel after capture.

….

” When Ashurbanipal invaded Egypt c. 667 BCE [sic] he drove his army south as far as Thebes, sacking every rebel city in his path. The only ruler spared was the king who had remained loyal to Assyria, King Necho of the city of Sais. Necho’s son, Psamtik, had been brought back to Nineveh by Esarhaddon for re-education in Assyrian ways and beliefs and now was returned to his father to rule with him. Ashurbanipal divided the territories of Egypt between these two kings and then, in the belief that Egypt was secure, returned to Assyria to deal with problems with Elam. Tirhakah’s nephew in Nubia, however, a young man named Tatanami, recognized Egypt’s vulnerability under the new rule of the joint kings and decided to seize the opportunity.

Tatanami marched on Egypt and took each city on his route with minimal effort. At the capital of Memphis he engaged with the Egyptian-Assyrian forces under the command of King Necho. Although Psamtik was able to successfully repel the Nubian army, Necho was killed in the battle.

The Egyptians preferred the rule of the Nubians over that of the Assyrians, however, and Psamtik was driven into hiding. In 666 BCE, word of the rebellion had reached Nineveh and Ashurbanipal returned at the head of his troops and again crushed the rebels.
Their stronghold at Thebes was sacked and Tatanami abandoned his campaign and fled back to Nubia. Ashurbanipal then made Psammetichus full Pharaoh of Egypt, equipped him with Assyrian garrisons stationed at strategic points, and then again returned to Assyria in 665 BCE. Between 665 and 657 BCE he put down a rebellion in Tyre, fought the Elamites ….

….

“Ashurbanipal saw an opportunity to finally defeat his old enemy and drove his army again into Elam. The historian Susan Wise Bauer writes, “Elamite cities burned. The temples and palaces of Susa were robbed. For no better reason than vengeance, Ashurbanipal ordered the royal tombs opened and the bones of the kings bundled off into captivity” (414). When he sacked and destroyed the city of Susa in 647 BCE, he left behind a tablet which recorded his triumph over the Elamites:

Susa, the great holy city, abode of their gods, seat of their mysteries, I conquered. I entered its palaces, I opened their treasuries where silver and gold, goods and wealth were amassed… I destroyed the ziggurat of Susa. I smashed its shining copper horns. I reduced the temples of Elam to naught; their gods and goddesses I scattered to the winds. The tombs of their ancient and recent kings I devastated, I exposed to the sun, and I carried away their bones toward the land of Ashur. I devastated the provinces of Elam and on their lands I sowed salt.

 

Anyone with even the slightest claim to the throne was captured and brought back to Nineveh as a slave. In keeping with Assyrian policy, Ashurbanipal then relocated enormous numbers of the population throughout the region and left the cities empty and the fields barren …”. [End of quotes]

 

This piece by Joshua J. Mark more than adequately supplies for the lack of historical evidence in the records of Nebuchednezzar, as pointed out by critics, for his crushing defeats of Egypt (which took a long time to recover) and Elam (which never recovered), as foretold by the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

For more on all of this, see e.g. my article:

 

There’s a big hole in Nebuchednezzar II’s ‘Egyptian campaign’

 

https://www.academia.edu/35973178/There_s_a_big_hole_in_Nebuchednezzar_II_s_Egyptian_campaign

 

So poorly does the historical Nebuchednezzar ‘the Great’ appear to stack up against the version of the Babylonian king as portrayed in the Book of Daniel, it is claimed, that commentators often turn to king Nabonidus of Babylon (c. 556-539 BC, conventional), instead, as the model upon which Daniel’s “Nebuchadnezzar” must have been based.

 

And they are entirely correct in so doing.

But, guess what? Nabonidus was Nebuchednezzar!

And Nebuchednezzar’s son, Belshazzar (cf. Baruch 1:12), was Nabonidus’s well-known son, Belshazzar. He was to become, upon the death of his father, the ‘Writing on the Wall’ notorious “King Belshazzar” of Daniel 5.

 

King Nabonidus, appropriately, is considered to be an eccentric and somewhat mad, like Nebuchednezzar and his alter egos. He was also highly intelligent and an antiquarian, just like Ashurbanipal. For more comparisons, here, see e.g. my article:

 

Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus

 

https://www.academia.edu/35855917/Ashurbanipal_and_Nabonidus

And Nabonidus is thought to have suffered an enduring and alienating illness (like all of his alter egos).

Thus we read in the New World Encyclopedia article, “Nabonidus”:

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

 

“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…’.”  [End of quotes]

Nabonidus as Nebuchednezzar (and as Daniel’s “Nebuchadnezzar”) is rather comprehensively covered in my article:

 

“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel

 

https://www.academia.edu/35847164/_Nebuchednezzar_of_the_Book_of_Daniel

 

And like Jonah’s “king of Nineveh”, who “took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust …. the proclamation he issued …” (Jonah 3:6-7), so Daniel’s “Nebuchadnezzar” humbled himself (Daniel 4:34), ‘I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored’, he having previously declared (3:29): ‘Therefore I decree that …’.

Nabonidus never expected to be king, like Esarhaddon (perhaps):

 

“… Belushezib in his letter reminds king Esarhaddon that he correctly predicted the king’s rise to the throne. He had said that “you will take over the kingship” (umma šarruti tanašši) to Esarhaddon. Esarhaddon may be the “son of a nobody” in question”:

https://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:918132/FULLTEXT01.pdf

 

certainly like Ashurbanipal.

For Nabonidus was the “son of a nobody” (mār lā mamman).

I discussed this in my article:

 

“Nebuchednezzar Syndrome”: dreams illness-madness Egyptophobia. Part Seven: Specifying status as ‘Son of a nobody’

 

https://www.academia.edu/39712282/_Nebuchednezzar_Syndrome_dreams_illness-madness_Egyptophobia._Part_Seven_Specifying_status_as_Son_of_a_nobody_

 

There I wrote: “Nabonidus is not singular either in not expecting to become king. Ashurbanipal had felt the same”.

(New World Encyclopedia article, “Nabonidus”): “In his own inscriptions, Nabonidus himself makes no claim to known royal origins,[1] 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”.

Nabonidus displayed an extraordinary devotion to the god Sin of Harran (loc. cit.):

 

“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”.

Nabonidus exalted Sin to perhaps a hitherto unheard of level.

We read in the book, Symbiosis, Symbolism, and the Power of the Past (2003, eds. W. Dever and S. Gitin, p. 247): “As Nabonidus formulates it, Sin is the ilu/ilani sar ilani, “the god(s) of the gods”, which, in Beaulieu’s apt judgment, “is probably the highest epithet ever given to a god in the Mesopotamian tradition …”.

Cf. Daniel 2:47: ‘Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings …’.

The phrasing in both cases is almost identical.

As I have noted on previous occasions, though, following Charles Boutflower, the historical Nebuchednezzar was capable of writing in a fashion that almost seems to border on monotheism:

“Charles Boutflower has advanced a strong argument in his In and Around the Book of Daniel for evidence of a trend towards a Marduk (Merodach) form of monotheism to be found in various inscriptions of the Chaldean potentate, Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’. He writes: https://archive.org/stream/inaroundbookofda00boutuoft/inaroundbookofda00boutuoft

 

“According, then, to this authority, No. 15 is the latest of the inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar, and the Merodach tendency noticed by Langdon is of necessity a monotheistic tendency, for Merodach, who, as we have seen, is always foremost of the gods, appears in some passages of this inscription to stand alone. Now it is just in these monotheistic passages, these “inserted prayers” and “changes of text,” that we seem to see the work of the real Nebuchadnezzar. Thus, immediately after the introductory passage, which describes the position occupied by the king with reference to Merodach and Nebo, there follows a hymn to those divinities, col. i. 23 to ii. 39, extracted from inscriptions 19 …. But in the middle of this hymn we meet with a prayer addressed to Merodach alone : col. i. 51 to ii. 11, and this prayer, be it noted, is an entirely original addition, not found in any previous inscription. Jastrow remarks with reference to it, “The conception of Merodach rises to a height of spiritual aspiration, which comes to us as a surprise in a religion that remained steeped in polytheism, and that was associated with practices and rites of a much lower order of thought.” ….

This remarkable prayer runs thus

 

‘To Merodach my lord I prayed,

I addressed my supplication.

He had regard to the utterance of my heart,

I spake unto him:

‘Everlasting prince,

Lord of all that is,

for the king whom thou lovest,

whose name thou proclaimest,

who is pleasing to thee :

direct him aright,

lead him in the right path !

I am a prince obedient unto thee,

the creature of thy hands,

thou hast created me,

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

According to thy mercy, Lord, which thou bestowest upon

all of them,

cause them to love thy exalted lordship :

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

Grant what to thee is pleasing,

for thou makest my life’.” ….

 

And a similar exaltation of the god, Sîn, in the case of king Nabonidus, is a central feature of Paul-Alain Beaulieu’s book, The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 B.C. (1989). Beaulieu has interpreted Nabonidus’s exaltation of the moon god, Sîn, as “an outright usurpation of Marduk’s prerogatives”.

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

However, considering my revised view that Nebuchednezzar …, Nabonidus, is actually just the one Chaldean king … then “Nabonidus’s exaltation of the moon god, Sin” would simply equate, presumably, with Nebuchednezzar’s similar exaltation of Marduk. And this indeed appears to be the case from the next section from C. Boutflower’s book, according to which Sin fuses with Marduk (Merodach), “Sin is Merodach …”. [End of quotes]

 

Esarhaddon is thought to have died in (Nabonidus’s beloved) city of Harran (Encyclopaedia Britannica, article, “Ashurbanipal”): https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ashurbanipal

 

King Nabonidus is supposed to have been an emulator of Assyrian kings, and even a king like them. That is not surprising because he was: “Nabonidus, king of Assyria and Babylon, the (great) king”.  (R. H. Sack, “The Nabonidus Legend, Revue d’Assyriologie et d’archéologie orientale, Vol. 77, No. 1 (1983).

Information such as this obviously changes greatly, and re-sets, the conventional date and circumstances for the destruction of Nineveh (c. 612 BC).

It also significantly affects the history of the later kings of Judah, which is tied to the Babylonian era, and may enable for yet a further enlargement of the prophet Jonah.

Jonah in light of my revised “king of Nineveh”

 

To continue, and to enlarge, our biography of the prophet Jonah, we need to understand that (according to my revision) kings Josiah (commenced c. 650 BC, conventional dating) and his son, Jehoiakim, of Judah – thought to be kings ruling from Jerusalem at a time some decades later than Hezekiah (d. c. 685 BC, conventionally estimated) – are actually alter egos of, respectively, Hezekiah (= Josiah) and his evil son, Manasseh (= Jehoiakim).

For a fuller treatment of this, see e.g. my article:

 

King Amon’s descent into Aman (Haman)

 

https://www.academia.edu/37376989/King_Amons_descent_into_Aman_Haman_

 

This, of course, has great ramifications:

It means that Isaiah (= Jonah) can potentially be found as well amongst Josiah’s officials.

It means that the prophet Jeremiah of the time of King Josiah (Jeremiah 1:2), can be the ‘Suffering Servant’ of Isaiah 53:1-12, whom Jeremiah’s life so closely fits.

(This description pointing more perfectly, of course, to Jesus Christ himself).

It would mean that the “Cyrus” about whom Isaiah wrote (e.g., 45:1) was already a teenager at the time of the Jonah incident.

It means that we do not have to consider Deutero- and Trito- Isaiahs.

It may well mean that the prophet Uriah (Urijah), who was martyred during the reign of king Jehoiakim, is biblical evidence for the tradition that Isaiah was martyred during the reign of Manasseh. Thus Jeremiah 26:20-23:

“(Now Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath Jearim was another man who prophesied in the name of the LORD; he prophesied the same things against this city and this land as Jeremiah did.

When King Jehoiakim and all his officers and officials heard his words, the king was determined to put him to death. But Uriah heard of it and fled in fear to Egypt.

King Jehoiakim, however, sent Elnathan son of Akbor to Egypt, along with some other men.

They brought Uriah out of Egypt and took him to King Jehoiakim, who had him struck down with a sword and his body thrown into the burial place of the common people.)”.

This last needs a bit of comment as it presents us with a different name for the prophet, a different patronymic, and, possibly, a different place of residence. I shall come back to it in the next section. But it is interesting that, according to Islamic tradition, Jonah was martyred. Thus Don E. Jones (op. cit.): “Muslim tradition indeed confirms that Jonah became a martyr and [far less likely, I believe] was buried in Nineveh”.

Isaiah as Asaiah


We may meet with Isaiah (= Jonah) during Year 18 of the reign of Josiah (2 Kings 22:3), in the person of “Asaiah the king’s attendant” (עֲשָׂיָה עֶבֶד-הַמֶּלֶךְ) (v. 12). This was in relation to the discovery of the Book of the Law and the subsequent consultation of the prophetess, Huldah. The incident would have occurred not long after Sennacherib’s successful invasion of Judah when he besieged Jerusalem, hence: ‘Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us …’ (vv. 11-14):

“When the king [Josiah = Hezekiah] heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: ‘Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found.

Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us’. Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Akbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter”.

The husband of the extraordinary Huldah, “Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas” would have been, I suggest, a Kohathite Levite (cf. I Chronicles 6:37), “son of Tahath, the son of Assir”.

In perfect accord with my new identification here of Isaiah, there was an “Asaiah … a prince of one of the families of the Simeonites in the reign of Hezekiah. (1 Chronicles 4:36) …”. We might recall from Part Two, A. that Isaiah, as Uzziah, was likewise a prince, “the prince of Juda[h]” and “the prince of the people of Israel” (Judith 8:34; 13:23. Douay).

Commentators would not expect, of course, to find Isaiah in office as late as the reign of King Josiah of Judah.

Now Asaiah here appears to have as an ancestor the same name as Uriah the martyr’s “father” above, “son of Shemaiah” (v. 37). In the case of Uriah, the home of he (my preference), or of his “father”, is given as “Kiriath Jearim”, which is not far from Moresheth-Gath of Micah.

The burning question asked by commentators as to why King Josiah did not send his official delegation of impressive ministers to consult Jeremiah, or the prophet Zephaniah, all males, but sent them to consult, instead, the enigmatic woman, Huldah, can now be enlarged to include Isaiah (= Asaiah), to whom king Hezekiah had indeed sent a like delegation (Isaiah 37:5): “When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah …”.

For I am now saying that Isaiah (as Asaiah) was amongst those sent to consult Huldah.

We have found the various names for our prophet Jonah’s alter egos to be somewhat similar (in sound at least, and, in some cases, in meaning): Isaiah; Asaiah; Hosea; Uzziah.

Uriah (var. Urijah) is a bit different. It would be compatible with the name “Azariah”, and we know that King Uzziah of Judah was also called Azariah (2 Kings 14:21).
Isaiah, given his closeness to the kings of Judah, may have adopted both names, Uzziah and Azariah (Uriah), in honour of the king during whose reign he had prophesied.

 

Folding ‘Middle’ into ‘Neo’ Babylonia

Not much more needs to be added here.

Naturally, with the folding of ‘Middle’ Assyrian into ‘Neo’ Assyrian (Appendix A), the corresponding ‘Middle’ Babylonian must fold into ‘Neo’ Babylonian.

I have already mentioned the case of Merodach-baladan I needing to be folded into Merodach-baladan (so-called) II. He was an ally of King Hezekiah (Isaiah 39:1).

And in my postgraduate thesis on the same King Hezekiah of Judah, I had found that a sequence of C12th BC Shutrukid Elamite kings folds seamlessly into the succession of Elamite contemporaries of the C8th BC Sennacherib. (I can now add, of Esarhaddon).

Nebuchednezzar I (c. 1000 BC, conventional dating) now folds into Nebuchednezzar II, as yet another alter ego for our “king of Nineveh”.

 

His famously wise ummanu, Esagil-kini-ubba, whose reputation continued right down to Seleucid times, can now merge with Assyria’s wise ummanu, Aba-enlil-dari, our Ahikar – historically attested – whose fame was probably even more long-lasting (and has been picked up, as we read, in Islam).

Not surprisingly, too, we meet Ahikar as well in the Book of Daniel, as “Arioch” (cf. Judith 1:6).

I discuss this in my article:

 

Meeting of the wise – Arioch and Daniel

 

https://www.academia.edu/40551289/Meeting_of_the_wise_-_Arioch_and_Daniel

From Esarhaddon’s other name, Assur … mukin-apli, we can probably identify yet another alter ego of our “king of Nineveh” in the obscure, though very long-reigning (about 36 years), king of Babylon, Nabu-mukin-apli (c. 978-943 BC, conventional dating).

He can probably be tied to Nabonidus due to the fact that, in ‘both’ cases, the important Akitu festival was interrupted for nearly a decade: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nab%C3%BB-mukin-apli

“The Religious Chronicle [i 5] provides the most detail about [Nabu-mukin-apli’s] reign. The Akitu festival, or New Year’s festival of Marduk and Nabû, was interrupted several times, indeed for a stretch of nine straight years, because the “Aramaeans were belligerent”.”
Compare the case of Nabonidus with the Akitu festival being interrupted for the approximate decade from Nabonidus’s 7th to his 17th years (Benjamin D. Thomas, Hezekiah and the Compositional History of the Book of Kings, 2017, pp. 204-205).

The same situation we find, indeed, with Esarhaddon (CAH, p. 374): “… Babylon … the city had been sacked by Sennacherib, and the interruption of observance of the Akitu festival
which began at that time continued through the reign of Esarhaddon …”.

Finally, I have identified Nebuchednezzar with the mad, Egypt-conquering king:


Cambyses also named Nebuchadnezzar?

 

https://www.academia.edu/37313486/Cambyses_also_named_Nebuchadnezzar

 

meaning that my revision of the prophet Jonah now covers, in conventional terms, 220 years at the very least, from Jeroboam II (d. c. 740 BC) to Cambyses (d. c. 520 BC).

Conclusion

The “king of Nineveh” at the time of the prophet Jonah (who was also Isaiah/Asaiah = Hosea) – late during the reign of king Hezekiah = Josiah, of Judah – was an Assyro-Babylonian composite: Ashurnasirpal-Esarhaddon-Ashurbanipal/Nebuchednezzar-Nabonidus (Cambyses), who needs to be re-connected with his ‘Middle’ Assyro-Babylonian alter egos, Assur-nadin-apli (Assur-danin-apli), or Ashurnasirpal, and Nebuchednezzar I (also Nabu-mukin-apli).

The Israelite king contemporaneous with Jonah’s early prophecy (2 Kings 14:25), namely, Jeroboam II, was the same as Jehoash of Israel, and he was the “saviour” of 2 Kings 13:5.

A final note: Just consider the astounding and miracle-packed early career of our “king of Nineveh”.
He may have been the first person, as “Bagoas”, to have observed the headless body of “Holofernes” after the departure of Judith and her maid (Judith 14:14-15): “So Bagoas went in and knocked at the entry of the tent, for he supposed that [Holofernes] was sleeping with Judith. But when no one answered, he opened it and went into the bedchamber and found him sprawled on the floor dead, with his head missing”.

He was the one who sounded the alarm, precipitating the rout and mass slaughter (vv. 16-19; 15:1-7).

Back in Nineveh, a prophet who had emerged from a “great fish” preached doom over his city.
Thanks to the sincere repentance of the people, and the action of the king, Nineveh was spared that destruction, Jonah’s “forty days” being extended to about forty years.

He was the king who had a Jewish prophet not only interpret his troublesome dream, but even recall it for the king.

He was the king who witnessed three young men communing with an angel inside his fiery furnace.

For his manifold sins, this king would suffer an unimaginably horrible sickness that just would not go away – that is, until he repented, and proclaimed the ‘god of gods’.

 

 

 

 

 

Search for historical prophet Jonah requires re-casting Assyro-Babylonia

 

 

by

 

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

 

 

The author intends to demonstrate in this article that the prophet Jonah’s intervention in Nineveh was a true historical event.

 

 

Part One:

Focus on Esarhaddon

A: Historical ‘moment’

 

The historical ‘window of opportunity’ that I am going to propose here as best fitting the Jonah narrative will be one that I have already suggested before.

However, due to a then imperfect appreciation of the degree of historical revision required, I had had to drop that particular model as being unworkable.

Since that first effort, however, I have streamlined the histories of Israel, Judah, Assyria and Babylonia, and that will now make all the difference.

The historical moment that I identify as that best suiting the intervention in “the great city of Nineveh”, נִינְוֵה, הָעִיר הַגְּדוֹלָה, by the prophet Jonah (Jonah 1:2), is the ‘moment’ when King Esarhaddon was in the throes of trying to secure Nineveh from his older brothers, two of whom had assassinated the previous Assyrian king, Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:37).

There may never have been a more dire or foreboding moment in time for the Assyrian people.

Had it not only recently been preceded by the utter rout of the proud king Sennacherib’s Assyrian army of 185,000 men. (v. 35)?

And, as we are going to find out (in Appendix B), Esarhaddon’s crisis situation, now, was very much due to the fact that he had been personally involved in that horrendous and unprecedented humiliation of the highly-vaunted Assyrian army.

The Book of Tobit – which will actually refer to Jonah’s mission to Nineveh (Tobit 14:4) – seems to echo Jonah’s threat (Jonah 3:4): “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown”, when it repeats that very same time period (Tobit 1:21. NRSV): “But not forty days passed before two of Sennacherib’s sons killed him, and they fled to the mountains of Ararat. A son of his, Esarhaddon, succeeded him as king”. {Though other ancient authorities read for Tobit 1:21 either forty-five or fifty}.

Sennacherib himself – who was, just prior to his demise, in the process of hunting down the honourable Tobit to kill him (Tobit 1:19) – would seem to be a least likely candidate, amongst the Assyrian kings, for Jonah’s repentant “the king of Nineveh” (Jonah 3:6). And I don’t think any commentator has ever put forward Sennacherib as being a possible candidate.
Esarhaddon, on the other hand – {who (under the benign influence of Ahiqar) would allow for Tobit to return home (Tobit 1:22): “Then Ahiqar interceded on my behalf, and I returned to Nineveh. Ahiqar had been chief cupbearer, keeper of the signet ring, treasury accountant, and credit accountant under Sennacherib, king of the Assyrians; and Esarhaddon appointed him as Second to himself”} – seems to have been surprisingly tolerant towards exilic Israel.

A footnote to this Jonah-Tobit connection: The non-historical, composite character, the Prophet Mohammed, whose biography tells of his various associations with “Nineveh”, all quite anachronistic of course (as Nineveh was completely lost from sight long before the supposed AD era of Mohammed), claimed that the prophet Jonah was his brother. “Muhammad asked Addas where he was from and the servant replied Nineveh. “The town of Jonah the just, son of Amittai!” Muhammad exclaimed. Addas was shocked because he knew that the pagan Arabs had no knowledge of the prophet Jonah. He then asked how Muhammad knew of this man. “We are brothers,” Muhammad replied”.” (Summarized from The Life of the Prophet by Ibn Hisham Volume 1 pp. 419–421).
And the names of Mohammed’s parents, ‘Abdullah and Amna, are virtually identical to those of Tobit’s son, Tobias, namely Tobit (= ‘Obadiah = ‘Abdiel = ‘Abdullah) and Anna (= Amna) (Tobit 1:9).
Islam also quotes from the wise sayings of Ahiqar, and even has its own Ahiqar in Luqman, known as “the Ahiqar of the Arabs”: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=_zvXrQ7W7PEC&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51&dq=luqman+and+ahiqar

 

B: Esarhaddon a repenting king

 

Moreover Esarhaddon was, as we shall soon learn, a king who, like Jonah’s “king of Nineveh”, was known to have clothed himself with sackcloth as if in the guise of a sinner.

And he certainly favoured the issuing of royal edicts or decrees – (see below, “a public proclamation”).

He also, early, appears to have had the solidarity-support of his people (cf. Jonah 3:5-6).
Thus Izabela Eph’al-Jaruzelska, “2016 Esarhaddon’s Claim of Legitimacy in an Hour of Crisis: Sociological Observations” (p. 126):

https://www.academia.edu/25716205/2016_Esarhaddons_Claim_of_Legitimacy_in_an_Hour_of_Crisis_Sociological_Observations/

“The Apology mentions the oath sworn to Esarhaddon by the people of Assyria and the king’s brothers before the gods at his nomination as Sennacherib’s successor. …. This public ceremony was intended to express submission and obedience to the king in a solemn way. This oath is invoked as the basis of the loyalty manifested by the people of Assyria when they refused to join the rebellion of those who opposed Esarhaddon’s accession to the Assyrian throne. ….

“It also furnished grounds for the homage the people of Assyria paid to Esarhaddon after his victory over the rebels. …. A public proclamation of Esarhaddon as king during his struggle with the rebels also manifests the people’s consent”. [End of quote]

Esarhaddon will turn out to be amongst the strangest and most complex kings of antiquity, possibly the most pious and superstitious of all kings, outdoing others with his cruelty and vengefulness, terrifying, at times quite mad, completely paranoid, highly literate, a phenomenal (no doubt, oftentimes, lying) propagandist, yet a king also capable of deep contrition and acknowledgement of a supreme deity.

But we shall need to meet him in his various powerful guises, or alter egos, which is an integral feature of my revision. (See Appendix A and Appendix B)

It ought to be noted that, apart from his name, Esarhaddon (“Akkadian: Aššur-aḫa-iddina, meaning “Ashur has given me a brother”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esarhaddon), “Esarhaddon had the further name of Ashur-etil-ilani-mukin-apli”. (http://www.attalus.org/armenian/kvan1.htm). “Akkadian: Aššur-etil-ilāni … , meaning “Ashur is the lord of the gods”,” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashur-etil-ilan), and “mukin-apli” meaning [Ashur] “(is) establisher of a legitimate heir,”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nab%C3%BB-mukin-apli
This will become important later, in the appendices.

As Esarhaddon alone (qua Esarhaddon), though, we know from one of the king’s inscriptions that he humbled himself with “sackcloth”. Thus writes John H. Walton (Genesis, 2001): “The Akkadian term for sackcloth is basamu. The most relevant usage of it is in an Esarhaddon inscription in which he is said to have “wrapped his body in sackcloth befitting a penitent sinner” ….”.

Cf. Jonah 3:6: “When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, wrapped himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust”.

There may be an even more relevant text, which I like to think is a reference to the very Jonah incident. The quote is from professor A. H. Sayce (The Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia, 1903), as cited by D. E. Hart-Davies in Jonah: Prophet and Patriot (1925):

“Already we possess proof from the cuneiform tablets that the Bible account of Nineveh’s repentance is described in a manner which exactly coincides with Assyrian custom. “It was just such a fast”, says Professor Sayce, “as was ordained by Esar-haddon when the northern foe was gathering against the Assyrian empire, and prayers were raised to the Sun-god to ‘remove the sin’ of the king and his people.

‘From this day’, runs the inscription, ‘from the third day of this month, even the month of Iyyar, to the fifteenth day of Ab of this year, for these hundred days and hundred nights the prophets have proclaimed (a period of supplication)’. The prophets of Nineveh had declared that it was needful to appease the anger of heaven, and the king accordingly issued his proclamation enjoining the solemn service of humiliation for one hundred days”.” [End of quotes]

This situation of anxiety, as described by professor A. H. Sayce, must almost certainly be tied up with the above: “A public proclamation of Esarhaddon as king during his struggle with the rebels also manifests the people’s consent”.

Wikipedia’s article “Esarhaddon” has some highly interesting information on Esarhaddon’s paranoia, and his efforts to secure his safety during that above-mentioned “hundred days” period: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esarhaddon

 

“As a result of his tumultuous rise to the throne, Esarhaddon was distrustful of his servants, vassals and family members. He frequently sought the advice of oracles and priests on whether any of his relatives or officials wished to harm him.[10] ….

….

Esarhaddon’s paranoia was also reflected by where he chose to live. One of his main residences was a palace in the city of Kalhu originally constructed as an armory by his predecessor Shalmaneser III …. Rather than occupying a central and visible spot within the cultic and administrative center of the city, this palace was located in its outskirts on a separate mound which made it well-protected. Between 676 and 672 [sic], the palace was strengthened with its gateways being modified into impregnable fortifications which could seal the entire building off completely from the city. If these entrances were sealed, the only way into the palace would be through a steep and narrow path protected by several strong doors. A similar palace, also located on a separate mound far from the city center, was built at Nineveh. ….

….

… he performed the “substitute king” ritual, an ancient Assyrian method intended to protect and shield the king from imminent danger announced by some sort of omen. Esarhaddon had performed the ritual earlier in his reign, but this time it left him unable to command his invasion of Egypt. ….

The “substitute king” ritual involved the Assyrian monarch going into hiding for a hundred days, during which a substitute (preferably one with mental deficiencies) took the king’s place by sleeping in the royal bed, wearing the crown and the royal garbs and eating the king’s food. During these hundred days, the actual king remained hidden and was known only under the alias “the farmer”. The goal of the ritual was that any evil intended for the king would instead be focused on the substitute king, who was killed regardless of if anything had happened at the end of the hundred days, keeping the real monarch safe. …”. [End of quote]

 

Don E. Jones will write (Searching for Jonah: Clues in Hebrew and Assyrian History, 2012): “The ceremony of fasting and putting on sackcloth and ashes was not at all alien to Assyria … the custom … goes back to Sumerian civilization and beyond”.

In the Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, we read: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/jonah-3.html

 

“Even the one feature which is peculiar to the mourning of Nineveh – namely, that the cattle also have to take part in the mourning – is attested by Herodotus (9:24) as an Asiatic custom.

“(Note: Herodotus relates that the Persians, when mourning for their general, Masistios, who had fallen in the battle at Platea, shaved off the hair from their horses, and adds,

“Thus did the barbarians, in their way, mourn for the deceased Masistios.” Plutarch relates the same thing (Aristid. 14 fin. Compare Brissonius, de regno Pers. princip. ii. p. 206; and Periz. ad Aeliani Var. hist. vii. 8). The objection made to this by Hitzig – namely, that the mourning of the cattle in our book is not analogous to the case recorded by Herodotus, because the former was an expression of repentance – has no force whatever, for the simple reason that in all nations the outward signs of penitential mourning are the same as those of mourning for the dead.)” [End of quote]

Cf. Jonah 3:7-8: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God”.

(Cf. Judith 4:10-14)

{The story of the death of Masistios could well be yet another of those countless Greek appropriations (as I have recorded) of originally Hebrew stories, in this case, the death of “Holofernes”.}

 

“Greatest to the least”, “small and great” – Compare Jonah 3:5: “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth”, with: “The use of this general term with the addition of the idiom TUR GAL (ṣeḫer u rabi), “small and great,” simply signifies the totality of Assyrians who were involved in the oath”.

(Izabela Eph’al-Jaruzelska, op. cit., p. 127)

 

C: Is Esarhaddon too late for Jonah?

 

Presuming that Esarhaddon were Jonah’s repentant king, then we must be prepared for a very extensive floruit for the prophet Jonah. He had to have been prophesying already as far back as king Jeroboam II of Israel (2 Kings 14:25): “[Jeroboam] was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher”.

It should be noted that many commentators believe that aspects of the biblical text around 2 Kings 14 are hopelessly corrupt, that v. 28, for instance, about Jeroboam II, “how he recovered for Israel both Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah”, “probably should be understood as referring” (for example, according to the Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, p. 419), “to the fact that Jeroboam II reconquered territory in Galilee and Transjordan held by Hamath and Damascus during the days of [Jeroboam’s predecessor kings of Israel]”.

In conventional terms, from the death of Jeroboam II (c. 740 BC) to the beginning of the reign of Esarhaddon (c. 680 BC), is about 60 years, meaning that Jonah at Nineveh would have to have been around 85-90 years of age.

That is a very old age for someone to have been tossed into a raging sea and swallowed by a sea monster.

The time span, at least, is easily covered by the traditional Jewish estimations of Jonah’s very long life: “[Jonah]  is said to have attained a very advanced age: over 120 years according to Seder Olam Rabbah; 130 according to Sefer Yuchasin …”.

In terms, though, of my revision of Assyrian and Israelite history (see Appendix A), I would estimate Jonah then to have been in his early-to-mid seventies.

 

 

Again in Appendix A we are going to find that Jewish tradition, which also vastly stretches the career of the prophet Jonah, from Jeroboam II to the Assyrian king, “Osnapper”, of Ezra 4:10, has come to the conclusion that there must actually have been ‘two Jonahs’.
No need to go that far, I shall be suggesting.

Many commentators favour for Jonah’s king, Adad-nirari III (c. 810-783 BC), a contemporary of Jeroboam II. Adad-nirari’s supposed preoccupation with the worship of Nebo is often taken as a sign of the king of Assyria’s conversion to monotheism. It has been likened to pharaoh Akhnaton’s Aten worship (actually henotheism). Adad-nirari may simply have been copying that earlier reform. However, according to Don E. Jones (op. cit.): “… as soon as Adad-Nirari could act on his own, he appears to have given the reform no support”. Adad-Nirari had been very young when he came to the throne. “… Adad-nirari III … was too young to rule. It would be left to Queen Sammu-ramat [Semiramis] to restore stability to Assyria through her regency”: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/magazine/2017/09-10/searching-for-semiramis-assyrian-legend/

Some commentators favour the troubled reign (plague, rebellion, even a solar eclipse) of Ashur-Dan III (c. 772 to 755 BC).

Bill Cooper (see D. below) is convinced that Tiglath -pileser III (c. 745-727 BC) was that biblical king.

Despite Cooper’s enthusiasm for his choice, Tiglath-pileser was, like Adad-nirari, like Ashur-Dan III, a typical Assyrian king with nothing during his reign to indicate a phase of serious repentance with a corresponding edict.

Is there any biblical prophet who can meet the chronological requirements of my revised Jonah, spanning from Jeroboam II to late king Hezekiah of Judah (when Esarhaddon came to the throne)?

There is one, and only one, whose superscription, at least, covers that approximate time span. He is the prophet Hosea, according to whose superscription (Hosea 1:1): “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel”.

From Jeroboam (II) all the way down to Hezekiah – the same approximate chronological span as in my revised scenario for Jonah.

{Some critics have difficulty accepting Hosea’s alleged lengthy prophetic range, and must needs ‘correct’ it, by replacing Jeroboam (II) in Hosea 1:1 with some later king(s) of Israel}.

 

Hosea is straightaway told, like Jonah, ‘Go …’ (לֵךְ) (cf. Jonah; Hosea 1:2). That is an immediate likeness. And we are going to discover more like this in the course of this article.

An immediate unlikeness is that, whereas Jonah was “son of Amittai” (as above), Hosea was “son of Beeri”.

The question of suitable alter egos for the prophet Jonah (e.g. Hosea) will be properly discussed in Part Two.

For example, the prophetic career of Amos had also commenced at the time of Jeroboam II (Amos 1:1), and did extend – at least according to my own revision of Amos – all the way down to king Hezekiah of Judah.

Can Amos be Jonah?

Or, was Hosea, Jonah?

D: Why “king of Nineveh”?

One of the many arguments thrown up against the prospect of the Book of Jonah’s being an historical account is its supposed historically inaccurate usage of the phrase “the king of Nineveh” – which actual description the kings of Assyria are said never to have applied to themselves.
I shall come back to this point.

The complete rejection in modern times of the Book of Jonah as an historical document is well described by Bill Cooper in The Historic Jonah (EN Tech. J., vol. 2, 1986, p. 105) https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j02_1/j02_1_105-116.pdf):

 

“Ever since the prophet Jonah first penned the little book that is known by his name, some two thousand six hundred years ago, the most extraordinary notions have circulated concerning both him and his ministry. Some early rabbis claimed that he was the son of the widow of Zarephath, the lad whom Elijah had restored to life. …. Others, yet again, imagined him to have been the servant whom Elisha sent to anoint King Jehu. …. Jonah is also pointed out as having two tombs! One lies at Nineveh, and the other at Jonah’s home-village of Gath-hepher, just a stone’s throw from the town of Nazareth. And so it has gone on down the ages, until today we are informed that Jonah did not even exist! The book of Jonah, we are asked to believe, is nothing more than a pious fable, a moral tale written some time after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Exile; a story told around camp-fires that has all the historical validity of a Grimm’s fairy-tale.

“Unfortunately, and not without incalculable loss, this latest view has prevailed. Most modern Christian (and Jewish) authors will, if they mention Jonah at all, speak of him only in terms of parable and myth, usually in tones that amount to little less than an apology. Very few indeed, and I personally know of none, will attempt to speak of Jonah in a purely historical sense. …. This is very odd, to say the least, because Jonah enjoys more support from Jewish and Assyrian history than a great many other characters of the ancient world whose existence few historians would doubt. There is, indeed, something very sinister about the out-of-hand way in which Jonah is dismissed from serious discussion by modernist critics and historians. This sinister aspect has, perhaps, to do with the fact that Jesus spoke of Jonah in a historical sense, and He referred to Jonah in direct reference to His own forthcoming
resurrection from the dead. …. Could it be, perhaps, that if modernists can cast doubt upon the historicity of Jonah, then they will also have license to cast doubt upon the words and teachings of Jesus Christ and the truth of His resurrection? The two are intimately connected, and any dismissal of the historicity of Jonah should be treated with a great deal of suspicion”. [End of quote]

“A pious fable”, “a moral tale”. I have also heard a priest employ the description, “a didactic fiction”, for the Book of Jonah. These very sorts of terms are used, once again, to describe the Book of Judith, e.g., “a literary fiction”, about whose historical defence I can largely say with Bill Cooper: “Very few indeed, and I personally know of none, will attempt to speak of [Judith] in a purely historical sense”.

Commentators who do take seriously the Jonah narrative – yes there are indeed some – for instance, Paul Ferguson in his article, “Who Was The ‘King Of Nineveh’ In Jonah 3:6?” (Tyndale Bulletin, Issue 47.2, 1996) – will attempt to show that the title, the “king of Nineveh”, can be considered genuine historical usage. Ferguson, whose article is well worth reading as an overall commentary on the Book of Jonah, offers the following “Summary” (p. 301):
https://www.galaxie.com/article/tynbul47-2-05

“This article seeks to show the title ‘king of Nineveh’ is not an anachronism. Comparison with Aramaic use of the north-west Semitic mlk, important in a north Israelite context, may suggest that a city or provincial official might have been under consideration.

Cuneiform evidence seems to suggest that no distinction is made between city and province in designating a governor. Common custom was to give provincial capitals the same name as the province. This could explain the fact that the book of Jonah says the ‘city’ was a three day walk (3:3).

 

“I. The ‘King Of Nineveh’

 

The Hebrew phrase melek nînĕveh (‘king of Nineveh’) is found in the Old Testament only in Jonah 3:6. It never occurs in any contemporary documents. Most literature proceeds on the assumption that the author used this expression to refer to the king of the Assyrian empire. It has often been suggested that this wording indicates the author wrote centuries after the fall of this nation. ….

 

“1. ‘King Of Nineveh’ Vs ‘King Of Assyria’

 

If this be the case, then one must consider why, if the author of the book lived centuries after the ‘historical Jonah’ of 2 Kings 14:25, he would ignore the usual designation ‘king of Assyria’. This phrase is found thirty times in 2 Kings 18-20. …”. [End of quotes]

 

Arguments such as this one by Paul Ferguson had led me, in the past, to wondering whether the Jonah incident may have occurred when Assyria did not have an actual king – say, in between the assassination of Sennacherib and the triumph of Esarhaddon – when, as I had considered, the city of Nineveh may have been represented by a stand-in high official, such as Ahiqar, who, too, presumably, would have been favourable to the message of Jonah. The king soon afterwards – but seemingly only after the people themselves had begun to repent (Jonah 3:5-6) – received the message. But there was a time delay. Perhaps, I had pondered, the future king may still have been on his way: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Esarhaddon

“Sennacherib was murdered (681) [sic] by one or more of Esarhaddon’s brothers, apparently in an attempt to seize the throne. Marching quickly from the west, Esarhaddon encountered the rebel forces in Hanigalbat (western Assyria), where most of them deserted to him, and their leaders fled. Esarhaddon continued on to Nineveh, where he claimed the throne without opposition” [sic].

(Compare instead, below, “persistent resistance by the opposition”).

It is interesting that Jesus Christ himself, who will refer specifically to “the Queen of the South”, will fail to make any mention whatsoever of the king of Nineveh, but only his subjects (Matthew 12:41-42): “The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it …”.

It can be (and is) debated as to the degree of conversion of the Ninevites – that it should not be understood that they had converted to a strict Yahwistic monotheism. Theirs was a general sort of repentance from their wicked ways of living. “The Ninevites believed God” [Elohim] (Jonah 3:5).
Refer back to the crucial quote above from professor Sayce re “the Sun-god”.
For, when we turn to consider the parallel case of the Queen of Sheba (of the South), we find that she will refer to the God of Solomon as your, not as my, or as our, God (I Kings 10:9): ‘Blessed be the Lord thy God …’.

Isaiah 7 is most instructive in this regard as the prophet begins his discussion with king Ahaz with the words (v. 11): ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign …’, but then soon switches in disgust to this (v. 13): ‘Will you try the patience of my God also?’
Consider, too, in light of all of this, the startling case of Rudolph Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz, and his dramatic return to his Catholic roots just before he was hanged: “‘It was a hard struggle’, Höss had written toward the end. ‘But I have again found my faith in my God’.” (My emphasis):

https://www.thedivinemercy.org/articles/divine-mercy-and-commandant-auschwitz

 

I have since dropped any former notion of an official governing Nineveh at the time of Jonah’s preaching there – though someone like Ahikar, or even the family of Tobit, may have been instrumental in fostering the mass conversion subsequent to the preaching of Jonah.
Esarhaddon, as Izabela Eph’al-Jaruzelska makes abundantly clear, was confronted by revolutions and hostility all over the place, forcing him even at one stage to flee for his life (op. cit. p. 133):

 

“According to the Babylonian Chronicle: “On the twentieth day of the month Tebet Sennacherib, king of Assyria, was killed by his son in a rebellion (ina sīḫi). For [twenty-four] years Sennacherib ruled Assyria. The rebellion continued in Assyria from the twentieth day of the month Tebet until the second day of the month Adar. On the twenty-eighth/ eighteenth day of the month Adar Esarhaddon, his son, ascended the throne in Assyria” (Chron. “The early royal correspondence reflects this long struggle, which lasted about two months. According to Bel-ushezib (see above, section III), Esarhaddon “evaded execution [by fleeing] to the Tower (URU.a-ši-t [i…])” (SAA X 109). Likewise, Mardi, probably a Babylonian, mentions in his letter to the king how he escaped to the tower (URU.i-si-ti) together with Esarhaddon (SAA XVI 29). These two early letters corroborate Esarhaddon’s reference to his asylum (RINAP 4 1 i 39). Bel-ushezib’s emphasis that plotting the murder of Esarhaddon and his officials continued “every day” (ūmussu SAA X 109 12′) implies persistent resistance by the opposition”. [End of quote]

I therefore suggest that the author of the Book of Jonah referred to the Assyrian ruler as “the king of Nineveh” because that is all that he actually was at that particular, most critical moment in time.

Esarhaddon was under extreme duress, in part because of the great debacle that had occurred in Israel, near Shechem (= “Bethulia”, the Judith incident), which late sources wrongly refer to as a defeat by Egypt. Thus Izabela Eph’al-Jaruzelska (op. cit., p. 123): “For example, the Babylonian Chronicle yields information on Esarhaddon’s great failure in Egypt, which is known only from here (Chron. 1 iv 16)”.

And again: “The Babylonian Chronicle mentions the expedition of B.C. 675 [sic], but the recently translated tablet shows why it was without results. Having ordered the investment of Jerusalem and Tyre, Esarhaddon marched against Pelusium … Egypt’s chief fortress on her north-east frontier. He was overtaken by a storm. …. The number of men who perished as given in the Bible must be an exaggeration, but as the storm wrecked Esarhaddon’s plans for the year his army must have suffered severely”. [End of quote]
(E. A Wallis Budge, The Mummy: A Handbook of Egyptian Funerary Archaeology, 1893, p. 75)

This late testimony as recalled by E. A. Wallis Budge needs a lot of tidying up.

Although the ultimate goal of king Sennacherib’s last great western campaign was Egypt (cf. Judith 1:10-12), the Assyrian king would by no means succeed in getting that far.

For, as Isaiah had rightly foretold (37:33): ‘He will not enter this city [Jerusalem] or even shoot an arrow here. He will not fight against it with shields or build a ramp to attack the city walls’ – all of which Sennacherib had succeeded in doing on the earlier occasion. In that last major western campaign, this time led by Sennacherib’s eldest son, Ashur-nadin-shumi (the Nadin, or Nadab, of Tobit 14:10), and not Esarhaddon, the king’s youngest son, the Assyrian behemoth will not reach even as far as Jerusalem, having been stopped in its tracks in the north, near Shechem, by the ruse of Judith the Simeonite.

As with Herodotus, “Pelusium” in Egypt (perhaps confused with the like sounding “Jerusalem”) has irrelevantly been brought into the Babylonian Chronicle account. There was no “storm” involved. The Judith ruse would precipitate a rout, with many soldiers of the massive Assyrian army perishing. As Budge correctly observed, the Assyrian “army must have suffered severely”.

But the Bible, when properly read, does not (as Budge thought) ‘exaggerate’ this rout.

It took Esarhaddon, who succeeded Ashur-nadin-shumi (“Holofernes”), some time to get his army back to its full strength, ‘wrecking his immediate plans’.
Historians wrongly attribute the demise of Ashur-nadin-shumi to, instead, an un-mentioned (though added in square brackets) “Sargon”. I quote again from Izabela Eph’al-Jaruzelska (op. cit., p. 131):

 

“Another example is the tablet K.4730 (+) Sm.1876, called The Sin of Sargon, allegedly attributed in the text itself to Sennacherib, which resembles the Naram-Sin epic in style and content. This text explains that Sargon’s death on the battlefield was a result of his sin: “Was it because [he honored] the gods o[f Assyria too much, placing them] above the gods of Babylonia [ ……, and was it because] he did not [keep] the treaty of the king of gods [that Sargon my father] was killed [in the enemy country and] was not b[uried] in his house?” In light, then, of this attitude about divine support, Esarhaddon must have been highly embarrassed by his military failure in Egypt, particularly as it followed a four-year period (from the end of 677 until around 673) [sic] devoid of military achievement”. [End of quote]

 

Part Two:

Focus on Jonah


A: Retracing my earlier steps: Elijah to Amos

My search for the prophet Jonah has led me ‘all around the mulberry bush’. Or perhaps, to be more contextual, all around the ‘kikayon’ (קִיקָיוֹן) bush (Jonah 4:6).

With 2 Kings 14:25 in mind, I did what other commentators tend to do, and that was to search for the Jonah incident during the time of an Assyrian ruler contemporaneous with king Jeroboam II of Israel.


Elijah

But I also went even further back than that, to a possible connection of Jonah with Elijah, based on the following sorts of similarities between this pair of prophets, taken from: http://seminary.csl.edu/facultypubs/TheologyandPractice/tabid/87/ctl/Details/mid/494/ItemID/40

 

“If we add to this list the fact that the phrase in Jonah 1:1 (“now the word of Yahweh came”) also introduces Elijah in 1 Kings 17:2, 8; 21:17, 28 then we are subtly led to this conclusion; one of the goals of the Jonah narrative is to compare the prophet from Gath-hepher with Elijah.

“More specific – and indeed more satirical – connections between Jonah and Elijah begin in Jonah 1:2 where Yahweh calls Jonah to, “arise, go” to Nineveh. This call to go to a foreign land is paralleled only in 1 Kings 17:9 where Yahweh commands Elijah also to “arise, go to Zarephath which is in Sidon.”

“Usually Yahweh’s word is the perfect performative, where to speak is to create. The God who says “Let there be light” and “it was so” (Gen. 1:3), commands Elijah to “Arise go to Zarapheth” (1 Kings 17:9) and Elijah “arises and goes,” (1 Kings 17:10). Following this normal biblical pattern we expect the Jonah narrative to continue, “So Jonah got up and went … to Nineveh.” But, instead, Jonah says nothing to Yahweh and rises to flee. It’s as though outside his door Jonah hangs a large sign with the words, “Do Not Disturb!” Jonah is certainly no Elijah!” [End of quotes]

Perhaps I should have taken that last hint: “Jonah is certainly no Elijah!”

The prophet Elijah disappears from the scene, at least qua Elijah, during the reign of Jehoram of Judah (2 Chronicles 21:12). That was well before the time of Jeroboam II. But there is always, for me, that possibility of an extension of a biblical floruit through an alter ego.

Elisha

The extraordinary prophet Elisha, ‘miracles on tap’, also loomed for me as a possible Jonah. He, like Jonah in the case of Jeroboam II, had advised a king of Israel, Jehoash, about the extent of his military conquests (2 Kings 13:14-19). Even though Elisha died shortly after this (v. 20), I shall be having more to say in Appendix A about the Jehoash-Jeroboam II connection, about a shortening of Israelite history, and about the identification of the “saviour” of 2 Kings 13:5.
Obviously, though, Elisha could not qualify for my prophet Jonah at the time of Esarhaddon.

My termini a quo and ad quem for Jonah have so far been determined as, respectively, Jeroboam II and early Esarhaddon. One would think, however, that there must have been more to the ministering of the prophet Jonah than just these two, chronologically far apart, occasions.
And we are going to find out that there was much more activity than that involving Jonah.
(See Part Three, A-B below)

Amos

A far more promising candidate for Jonah, however, began to loom in the person of Amos, whose prophetic witness commenced “when … Jeroboam … was king of Israel” (Amos 1:1). Amos, too, as with Elijah, can be likened to Jonah. Thus I have previously quoted from the book by Hadi Ghantous, Elisha-Hazael Paradigm and the Kingdom of Israel (p. 180):

 

… Jonah and Amos

 

The connections between Jonah and Amos are not as clear as those with Elijah although it is more clear that the fate of nations surrounding Israel is a major concern in both Amos and Jonah (Andersen and Freedman 1989: 236). The superscription in the book of Amos (Amos 1:1) sets Amos in the days of Jeroboam II and makes Amos a contemoprary of Jonah.

In 2 Kings 14:23-29, Jeroboam II recovers territories from the Entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, and restore [sic] Damascus and Hamath to Judea in Israel. Similarly, Amos 1:3-5 is an oracle against Damascus; Amos 5:27 threatens Israel with an exile beyond Damascus. In Amos 6:2, Zion and Samaria are called to compare themselves with Hamath. Amos 6:14 refers to oppression from the Entrance of Hamath to the Valley of the Arabah (Pyper 2007: 351-3). In other words, both prophets deal with Damascus, Hamath, and the region from the Entrance of Hamath to the Sea/Valley of the Arabah. Amos refutes the prophetic title (Amos 7:14); Jonah is never said to be a prophet in Jonah. Amaziah warns Jonah to flee … for his life (Amos 7:12), while Jonah almost loses his life while fleeing (Jon, 1).
“Other topical similarities can be found; singing (Amos 8:3// Jon. 2), sackcloths (Amos 8:10// Jon 3:6), wandering from sea to sea (Amos 8:12// Jon. 1:3-2:10), thirst (Amos 8:13// Jon. 4:8), and sheol (Amos 9:2// Jon. 2) (Edelman 2009: 162). These similarities pose the question whether they go beyond a mere imitation of details and indicate a fundamental similarity and connection between Amos and Jonah. …”. [End of quote]

Jonah is well-known as ‘the reluctant prophet’, and this, too, may have been a trait of Amos (7:14): ‘I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet …’.
There is also a very Jonah-like note in Amos 9:3: “Even if they tried to hide from me at the bottom of the sea, from there I would command the Sea Serpent [הַנָּחָשׁ] to bite them”. Don E. Jones (op. cit.) has made this very same connection: “There is something ominous in Amos’s prophecy, the first part of which [9:3] certainly applies to Jonah …”.

While Amos qualifies chronologically as being a contemporary of Jonah’s at the time of Jeroboam II, he will fall just short of early Esarhaddon (the ‘moment’ of Jonah’s intervention at Nineveh). See next.

Micah

Amos is, according to my revision of Israel and Judah, the same as the prophet Micah, known as “Amos redivivus”. Micah (Amos) is also the Micaiah who prophesied the death of king Ahab of Israel (I Kings 22:8-28). This controversial connection (Micaiah = Micah), which has the support of some Jewish tradition (see e.g., Ginzberg, Legends, 6:355, n. 20), pitches Micah back well before king Jeroboam II. Amos is also generally considered to have been the father of Isaiah, “son of Amoz” (Isaiah 1:1). I have also identified Isaiah son of Amos with the “Uzziah son of Micah, of the tribe of Simeon” of Judith 6:15. Uzziah must have followed his father Amos northwards to Bethel (the “Bethulia” of the Book of Judith), which is the strategically vital city of Shechem, where Uzziah later became the chief magistrate. He is also described as “the prince of Juda[h]” and “the prince of the people of Israel” (Judith 8:34; 13:23. Douay), perhaps due to his father Amos’s apparently royal connection with king Amaziah of Judah. “The rabbis of the Talmud declared, based upon a rabbinic tradition, that Amoz was the brother of Amaziah (אמציה), the king of Judah at that time (and, as a result, that Isaiah himself was a member of the royal family)” (article, “Amoz”): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amoz

 

The prophet Micah must not have lived to have witnessed the Judith incident.
He is not mentioned there (Book of Judith) as still being alive.
The Book of Jeremiah tells that Micah was yet prophesying during the reign of king Hezekiah of Judah (26:18): “Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spoke to all the people of Judah, saying,

‘Thus said the LORD of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest’.”

This prediction pertained to Sennacherib king of Assyria’s earlier successful invasion of Judah and Jerusalem. Micah apparently was no longer alive, though, when Ashur-nadin-shumi (= “Holofernes”), son of Sennacherib, came to the region of “Bethulia” (Bethel-Shechem) with an army of 185,000 men. Thus the prophet Micah cannot qualify for my Jonah early in the reign of Esarhaddon, who succeeded Sennacherib. Micah just misses out time wise. He must have been extremely old when he died.

 

B: Hosea, Isaiah

The prophet Hosea is, as determined in Part One, the only one of the prophets who – at least according to his superscription (Hosea 1:1) – spanned my requisite era from Jeroboam II unto Hezekiah. His prophetic floruit is closely matched by Isaiah’s, but without (in the case of Isaiah) the inclusion of Jeroboam II (Isaiah 1:1): “The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah”.

The names of Hosea and Isaiah, as well, are very close in meaning, both pertaining to “Salvation”. Abarim Publications lists Isaiah as a name “related” to Hosea (article, “Isaiah meaning”): https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Hosea.html#.Xp5Y6u0vPnF

Previously I have written regarding the striking similarities between Isaiah and Hosea:

“The names Isaiah and Hosea are indeed of very similar meaning, being basically derived from the same Hebrew root for ‘salvation’, יֵ֫שַׁע

– “Isaiah” (Hebrew יְשַׁעְיָהוּ , Yeshâ‘yâhû) signifies: “Yahweh (the Lord) is salvation”.

– “Hosea” (Hebrew הוֹשֵׁעַ) means practically the same: “Yahweh (the Lord) is saviour”.

….

“Hosea’s/Isaiah’s Family

Though no doubt young, the prophet was given the strange command by God to marry an ‘unfaithful’ woman: “‘Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, for the land commits great harlotry by forsaking the Lord’. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim …” (Hosea 1:2-3). Biblical scholars have agonised over the type of woman this Gomer might have been: adulteress? harlot? temple-prostitute? But essentially the clue is to be found in the statement above that she was a citizen of the ‘land of great harlotry’: namely, the northern kingdom of Israel. ….

“A further likeness between Isaiah and Hosea was the fact that ‘their names’ and those of ‘their’ children were meant to be, in their meanings, prophetic signs. ….

– The prophet Isaiah tells us: “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and portents …” (Isaiah 8:18).

– Similarly, the names of the children of the prophet Hosea were meant to be prophetic (Hosea 1:4, 6, 9).

 

“Charles Boutflower (The Book of Isaiah Chapters I-XXXIX, 1930), who has written perceptively on Isaiah’s children, has rightly noted the prophetic significance of their names and those of Hosea’s children, without however connecting Isaiah and Hosea as one: …. “Isaiah like Hosea had three known children, all of whose names were prophetic”. [End of quotes]

It is most unlikely, one would have to think, to have two great prophets contemporaneously operating over such a substantial period of time, and each having three children whose names were prophetic. The fact is, I believe, that it was just the one prophet, who may possibly have had six children in all.

For these, and for other reasons, I have identified Hosea and Isaiah as “just the one prophet”, ministering to both Israel and Judah. That to go with my already mentioned identification of the prophet Isaiah with the princely “Uzziah” of the Book of Judith.

Hosea-Isaiah is the only possible prophetic candidate, in my revised context, for Jonah son of Amittai.

Jonah’s otherwise unknown father, “Amittai”, must then be Amaziah, that is, Amos.

Jonah’s (or probably his father’s) home of “Gath-hepher”, which cannot possibly have been the place of that name in Galilee – since, as the learned Pharisees well knew (John 7:52): ‘…. Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee’ – must then be the southern Gath of Moresheth, the home of Micah-(Amos) (1:1): “The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth …”.

“Micah is called the Morasthite, probably because he was a native of Moresheth-gath, a small town of Judea, which, according to Eusebius and Jerome, lay in a southwesterly direction from Jerusalem, not far from Eleutheropolis on the plain, near the border of the Philistine territory” (“The Twelve Minor Prophets”):

https://biblehub.com/library/barrows/companion_to_the_bible/chapter_xxiii_the_twelve_minor.htm

Although “the vision … concerning Israel” as seen by Amos will occur at “Tekoa” (Amos 1:1), I have previously written on this:

“There are reasons, though, why I think that Tekoa would not have been the actual home of the prophet Amos. When confronted by Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, Amos retorted (7:14-15): ‘I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees.  But the Lord took me from following the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel’.’

“Now, commentators such as Eugene Merrill have been quick to point out “that sycamores were abundant in the Shephelah but not around Tekoa” (The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament, 2011, p. 431, n. 4).
“So, my first point would be that Amos’s cultivating of sycamore-fig trees would be most appropriate in Moresheth, but highly unlikely in Tekoa. Moresheth, we read, “is the opposite exposure from the wilderness of Tekoa, some seventeen miles away across the watershed. As the home of Amos is bare and desert, so the home of Micah is fair and fertile” (“Micah 1”, Expositor’s Bible Commentary).

 

“My second point is that Amos, apparently a herdsman (בַנֹּקְדִים) – some think a wealthy “sheepmaster”, whilst others say that he must have been poor – was, as we read above, “following the flock” מֵאַחֲרֵי הַצֹּאן), meaning that, seasonally, he was a man on the move. Stationed at his home town of Moresheth in the Shephelah, I suggest, where he tended the sycamore trees, the prophet also had to move with the flock from time to time.
And this is apparently where Tekoa (about 6 miles SE of Bethlehem) comes into the picture”.
[End of quotes]

 

The reason why such striking similarities can be found between Amos and Jonah (as we read above in A.) is because this was a father-son prophetic combination ranging from Israel to Judah. It is the very same reason why we find some almost identical statements and actions emanating from Micah (= Amos) and from Isaiah (= Jonah). Read, for example,  Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4.
“But who quoted whom?”, it is asked:

https://abramkj.com/2012/12/11/which-came-first-isaiah-or-micah-comparing-isaiah-22-4-with-micah-41-3/

Well, Micah was the father, and Isaiah was the son.

Compare also Micah 1:8: “Because of this I will weep and wail; I will go about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl”, and Isaiah 20:3: “Then the LORD said, ‘Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush …’.”

No doubt Jonah’s prediction regarding Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25): “[Jeroboam] was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher”, was uttered with all due awareness of his father Amos’s own considerations (cf. 6:14):

 

“For the Lord God Almighty declares,
‘I will stir up a nation against you, Israel,
that will oppress you all the way
from Lebo Hamath to the valley of the Arabah’.”

 

More tellingly, from my point of view, commentators have suggested that some parts of the Book of Isaiah (my Jonah) may actually have originated with Jonah. Don E. Jones, again, writes of it (op. cit.):

“Spurred by the reference in II Kings 14:25, scholars over the years have searched diligently in the Scriptures for the “Lost Book of Jonah”. Hitzig and Renan have attributed the prophecies of Isaiah 15-23 to Jonah as being inconsistent with other parts of the book. Allusions to Moab, Egypt and Ethiopia, would certainly give Jonah a wider scope of action. He would know conditions in Tyre, Sidon and Damacus from the Assyrian venture. Sargon’s reign in Assyria (Isaiah 20:1) began in 721. It was by no means impossible that Jonah could still have been alive at the time of Isaiah”. [End of quote]

The view of Hitzig and Renan enables us to fill out the prophet Jonah all the more. His prophetic mission beyond Israel was not just limited to Nineveh. Isaiah, like Jonah (1:3), appears to have been very familiar, too, with the “ships of Tarshish” (e.g., Isaiah 2:16; 23:1; 60:9).

As to why (we read this earlier) the name of Hosea’s father would be given as “Beeri”, whereas Isaiah’s father is given as “Amoz”, the Book of Judith may provide something of a clue. Judith was, like Uzziah (my Isaiah-Hosea) of Bethulia, a Simeonite (cf. Judith 8:1; 9:2). The Bethulians were a closely knit bunch, with Judith’s husband, Manasseh, belonging “to the same tribe and clan” as she (8:2). Uzziah, also a Simeonite, may well have been a relative of both Judith and her husband. Judith seems to have been immensely proud of her ‘father’, Merari, she singing, after her great victory over “Holofernes”:

‘For their mighty one did not fall by the hands of the young men,
nor did the sons of the Titans strike him down,
nor did tall giants set upon him;
but Judith daughter of Merari
with the beauty of her countenance undid him’.

 

Hosea’s father, “Beeri”, could possibly be that Merari, given what C. Conder will refer to (I noted this in my postgraduate university thesis, A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah and its Background:

https://www.academia.edu/3822220/Thesis_2_A_Revised_History_of_the_Era_of_King_Hezekiah_of_Judah_and_its_Background) as the “occasional instances in Syrian nomenclature” of the substitution of M for B. Conder was hoping by this means to establish the fairly unimportant site of “Mithilia” (or Mesilieh) as Judith’s “Bethulia”.

Somewhat coincidentally, we read in Genesis (26:34): “When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite …”. Obviously no relation, though.

Consulting Abarim Publications, I find that the name “Merari” does not have Amoz (Amos) listed as a “related” name:

https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Merari.html#.XqER-O0vPnE

Perhaps Merari could have been an ancestor, rather than a direct father, of both Hosea and Judith.
One name “related” to Merari in Abarim is “Imrah”, which is very much like the biblically rare name, Imlah (Imla), father of Micaiah (I Kings 22:8) – hence grandfather of Hosea-Isaiah (and Judith?).

A special mention is made in I Chronicles 4:33 to the Simeonites keeping “a genealogical record”.

 

Part Three:

Deeper Focus on Jonah


A: A Revised life of Jonah

 

Here (A-B) I intend to trace in outline the life of the prophet Jonah, largely through his better known alter ego (that is, according to my revision), Isaiah (= Hosea). The historicity of the prophet Isaiah (and hence of Jonah) may perhaps be attested by a clay seal found in Jerusalem (Amanda Borschel-Dan’s, “In find of biblical proportions, seal of Prophet Isaiah said found in Jerusalem”): https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-find-of-biblical-proportions-proof-of-prophet-isaiah-believed-unearthed/

 

“The oval-shaped bulla, however, is not intact. On its legible portion, there is an inscription with First Temple Hebrew letters that seem to spell out the name l’Yesha’yah[u] (Belonging to Isaiah). On a line below, there is the partial word nvy, which presumably spells out “prophet.” Because the bulla has been slightly damaged at the end of the word nvy, it is not known if it originally ended with the Hebrew letter aleph, which would have resulted in the Hebrew word for ‘prophet’ and would have definitively identified the seal as the signature of the prophet Isaiah,” [Dr. Eilat] Mazar said”. [End of quote]

 

Isaiah likely “began” his prophetic career as Hosea (1:1) “When the Lord began to speak though Hosea …”. As we know, this was during the reign of king Jeroboam II of Israel. Hosea, I have suggested, had followed his (= Isaiah’s) father Amos to Bethel (= Judith’s “Bethulia”), which is Shechem, in the north. There, the prophet must have made the prediction about king Jeroboam II of 2 Kings 14:25 that is attributed to Jonah.

Isaiah-Hosea fluctuated between Israel and Judah. But he was a Judaean. Professor A.H. Sayce, when commenting upon “the prophecies of Hosea”, will write tellingly (though thinking that Hosea was of the north): “It was, however, the work, not of a native of that northern kingdom of Israel to which Hosea belonged, but of a Jew” (“The Book of Hosea in the Light of Assyrian Research”, The Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Jan., 1889), p. 162).

Our prophet famously recorded (Isaiah 6:1): “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the Temple”.

And, later, in Judah, he will offer a “sign” to a recalcitrant King Ahaz (Isaiah 7:11).

Uzziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah, these are all historically verifiable kings. Thus, for instance, we read in Christopher Eames’ “Archaeology unearths historical fact – and proves the biblical record at the same time”: https://www.thetrumpet.com/18639-so-much-archaeological-proof

“You’ve probably heard the names of many of Israel’s and Judah’s biblical kings. Do you know just how many have had their existence proved—independently—through archaeology?
These are the names thus far that have turned up in early, original contexts: kings DavidOmriAhabJehuJoashJeroboam iiUzziahMenahemAhazPekahHosheaHezekiah, Manasseh and Jehoiachin. The existence of these kings has been verified through scientific discovery even by the most stringent of analytical standards.
“Several years ago, the personal seal impression of King Hezekiah was found during excavations on Jerusalem’s Ophel mound. The tiny stamped clay piece reads: “Belonging to Hezekiah, [son of] Ahaz, king of Judah.” The impressive find is one of many that refer to King Hezekiah. His name also turns up in inscriptions belonging to his arch-nemesis, Assyria’s King Sennacherib”. [End of quotes]

According to Sirach 48:22-25:

 

“For Hezekiah did what was pleasing to the Lord,
and he kept firmly to the ways of his ancestor David,
as he was commanded by the prophet Isaiah,
who was great and trustworthy in his visions.

In Isaiah’s days the sun went backward,
and he prolonged the life of the king.

By his dauntless spirit he saw the future,
and comforted the mourners in Zion.
He revealed what was to occur to the end of time,
and the hidden things before they happened”.

 

After Isaiah’s strong warnings to King Hezekiah and his subjects about the futility of turning to Egypt for help against Assyria – just he had warned Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, not to depend upon Assyria – Sennacherib will come up against Jerusalem and will successfully lay siege to the city.

Isaiah will, at that approximate time, cure king Hezekiah of a life-threatening illness, and will afterwards promise a better outcome against the Assyrians in the face of Sennacherib’s subsequent blasphemy (2 Chronicles 32:9-19).

Isaiah (as Uzziah) is back in the north, in “Bethulia”, when the ill-fated Assyrian army of 185,000 arrives at his doorstep. The great man will, in fact, be soundly reprimanded by the beautiful, and younger, Judith, for agreeing upon oath to deliver the city to the Assyrians within five days if rain does not come (Judith 8:9-27). It is Moses all over again, in a watery situation, but, in the case of Moses, the reprimand had come directly from Yahweh (Numbers 20:9-13).
As Uzziah, the prophet will receive into his household the abandoned Achior (Tobit’s nephew, Ahiqar), left by “Holofernes” to die amongst the Israelites whom he had verbally defended (Judith cf. 5:5-21; 6:10-19). This is the Nadin-Ahiqar situation of betrayal as recalled by Tobit (14:10-11):

‘Tobias, my son, leave Nineveh now. Do not stay here. As soon as you bury your mother beside me, leave; do not stay another night within the city limits. It is a wicked city and full of immorality; the people here have no sense of shame. Remember what Nadin [Nadab] did to Ahikar his own uncle who had brought him up. He tried to kill Ahikar and forced him to go into hiding in a tomb. Ahikar came back into the light of day, but God sent Nadin down into everlasting darkness for what he had done. Ahikar escaped the deadly trap which Nadin had set for him, because Ahikar had given generously to the poor. But Nadin fell into that fatal trap and it destroyed him. So now, my children, you see what happens to those who show their concern for others, and how death awaits those who treat others unjustly’.

Ahiqar ‘came back into the light of day’ thanks in large part to the courageous intervention of Judith (14:6-10):

“So they called Achior [Ahiqar] from Uzziah’s house. But when he came and saw the head of Holofernes in the hands of one of the men, Achior fainted and fell to the floor. When they had helped him up, Achior bowed at Judith’s feet in respect. ‘May every family in the land of Judah praise you’, he said, ‘and may every nation tremble with terror when they hear your name. Please tell me how you managed to do this’.

“While all the people were gathered around, Judith told him everything that she had done from the day she left the town until that moment. When she had finished her story, the people cheered so loudly that the whole town echoed with sounds of joy. When Achior heard all that the God of Israel had done, he became a firm believer. He was circumcised and made a member of the Israelite community, as his descendants are to the present day”.

 

 

Achior (Ahiqar), (var. Arioch), wrongly called “the leader of all the Ammonites” (Judith 5:5) – when he was actually governor of the Elamites (cf. Tobit 2:10; Judith 1:6) – was ethnically an Israelite, and the nephew of the holy Tobit. Hence he already had the background for a proper conversion to Yahwism. This needs to be contrasted with the Ninevites and their king, who – though they, too, may have imbibed some good influences from Tobit and his family long dwelling in Nineveh – had only a pagan background.

 

Not to be outdone in praise of Judith, but before Ahiqar had thus been summoned (Judith 14:18-20):

“Then Uzziah said,

‘Judith, my dear, the Most High God has blessed you more than any other woman on earth. How worthy of praise is the Lord God who created heaven and earth! He guided you as you cut off the head of our deadliest enemy. Your trust in God will never be forgotten by those who tell of God’s power. May God give you everlasting honor for what you have done. May he reward you with blessings, because you remained faithful to him and did not hesitate to risk your own life to relieve the oppression of your people’.

All the people replied,

‘Amen, amen!'”

One can perhaps now well imagine why our prophet – after his having been an eyewitness to arguably the greatest military victory in the history of Israel, and over the hated Assyrians, no less – chafed at the bit when, not too long afterwards, he was thus ordered by Yahweh (Jonah 1:2): ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me’.

The prophet, who would no doubt have shared the sentiments of his fellow-Simeonite, Judith (16:17):

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

 

knew what this, Yahweh’s new command, probably meant (Jonah 4:2-3) ‘That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live’.

Compare Isaiah 30:18: “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”

 

B: The name “Jonah”

The Hebrew name, “Jonah” (יונה) is generally regarded as meaning “dove”.

Abarim Publications adds “vexer” (article, “Jonah meaning”):

https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Jonah.html#C.XqStmu0vPnE

 

The word “Jonah” is used in Hosea 7:1, for instance: “Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria”. And again in Isaiah, where the prophet recalls the seriously ill king Hezekiah’s use of the word (38:14): ‘I cried like a swift or thrush, I moaned like a mourning dove’.

In Appendix A, we are going to find the Assyrian king, Ashurnasirpal, using king Hezekiah’s very same dove metaphor, also in the case of a dire sickness.

 

Given that the prophet’s father had at least two names, with variations thereof, Amos (Amittai) and Micah (Micaiah), it might be expected that the son, who so faithfully (though not slavishly) imitated Amos, would likewise have had more than the one name, Isaiah (Hosea, Uzziah) and Jonah. Even more so, considering that the names of Isaiah-Hosea and his children (which may have undergone changes: cf. Hosea 1:4-11) were meant to have a symbolical significance for Israel. The prophet Isaiah, in his flight from the Lord, might later have acquired the name mindful of “a silly dove” (Hosea 7:11), that is, Jonah.

 

The father of the Apostle Peter is variously given as “Jona[h]” (Matthew 16:17) and as “John” (John 1:42).

There is a Babylonian tale – but written centuries after Jonah, it needs to be appreciated – that features a Jonah-like sage called Oannes, a name considered to be very close indeed to the name, Jonah.

Bill Cooper tells of it (op. cit., pp. 110–111):

“In his book, Chaldean Genesis (1876), George Smith, the Assyriologist, cites the writings of Berosus (c.330–260 BC), a Babylonian priest who recorded many of the myths and legends of the early Mesopotamians. Among many other things, Berosus records the fascinating story of a certain ‘Oannes’.

He writes:

“At Babylonia there was (in these times) a great resort of people of various nations, who inhabited Chaldea, and lived in a lawless manner like the beasts of the field.” …. In the first year there appeared, from that part of the Erythraean Sea … which borders upon Babylonia, an animal endowed with reason, by name Oannes, whose whole body was that of a fish; and under the fish’s head he had another head, with feet also below similar to those of a man, subjoined to the fish’s tail.

His voice too, and language were articulate and human; and a representation of him is preserved to this day.”

“This being (Oannes) was accustomed to pass the day among men, but took no food at that season; and he gave them an insight into letters and sciences, and arts of every kind. He taught them to construct cities, to found temples, to compile laws, and explained to them the principles of geometrical knowledge. He made them distinguish the seeds of the earth, and showed them how to collect the fruits; in short, he instructed them in everything which could tend to soften manners and humanize their lives. From that time, nothing material has been added by way of improvement to his instructions.”  ….

“It is clear from Berosus’ own narrative that the Assyrians and Babylonians held Oannes in the highest esteem. ….

“While we cannot know for certain the Assyrian equivalent of Jonah’s name, we can at least be sure that it was not dissimilar to that of Oannes. The resemblance between the two names, even before such transposition, is remarkable. …. Unknown to the Assyrians, however, was the fact that a greater than Oannes was here. Here was no mythical figure dreamed up by an undiscerning pagan philosophy. Here was a living prophet of the Ever-Living God to Whom the Assyrians, in common with all mankind, owed their very creation and continuing existence!

“Judging by the attention that marooned sea monsters attract in our own day, it is easy to envisage the tremendous impact of such a monster disgorging a living man who then proceeded to a certain city to warn it of coming destruction. To those who had been nurtured on the story of Oannes, such an event would seem that Oannes himself had returned according to all that was laid down in the ancient legends. How else could God have achieved the effect that was so necessary to the accomplishment of His Will? The Assyrians would hardly have heeded a prophet (and a despised Israelite, at that), who rode into Nineveh on donkey, or as a passenger in a desert caravan. There was only one way, it seems, in which to startle and surprise the Assyrians into a positive response to Jonah’s message, and that was by God Himself staging what has proved be one of the most spectacular events of history.

“On its own even this, perhaps, may not have been sufficient to drive the Assyrians into a response to the message that Jonah brought them. They would also need to be in particularly distressed state of mind, driven into a corner by political, economic and military events over which they had no control, and which were pushing them inexorably further towards complete devastation. We have seen, in fact, that just such conditions prevailed at this very point in history, and thus the Assyrians may even have been importuning their gods for a teacher or deliverer of the stature and wisdom of their beloved Oannes …. Most assuredly, they were both psychologically and spiritually prepared for just such an event and message as Jonah was about to deliver”. [End of quotes]

Some of what Bill Cooper has written here makes perfect sense to me. But parts of it don’t. As already noted, the story of Oannes is a late legend, post-dating Jonah. It is typical for historians to presuppose that any pagan account that resembles a biblical one always has the chronological precedence. I have spent many articles arguing that the opposite is the case. So, when a presumed c. 300 BC writer records a tale that is, in some instances, uncannily like the much older Jonah story – as Bill Cooper has well noted – my immediate reaction to this is that the Oannes legend must have arisen from the Jonah story.

Certainly the latter resonates with Berosus’s description of the Mesopotamians who “lived in a lawless manner like the beasts of the field”. And, again, the two names, “Jonah” and “Oannes”, are indeed very similar. It is common to identify Oannes with the the Mesopotamian water god, of knowledge, Ea (Sumerian Enki). And the account of Berosus seems to have commingled Mesopotamian theology with a garbled recollection of the biblical Jonah incident.

Some of the geography of Berosus, however, “Euxine Sea” (Black Sea), “Erythrean Sea” (Indian Ocean?), is completely irrelevant to Jonah, and is, moreover, internally contradictory.
Bill Cooper is right on the mark in describing what must have been the mental state of the Ninevites at the time of Jonah’s arrival – except that he has located all this to the era of king Tiglath-pileser III. Things were far, far worse, I have suggested, at my preferred moment in time of early Esarhaddon.

Moreover, God was never going to use a pagan ‘theology’ to reinforce his message.

The “representation of [Oannes] … preserved to this day” (Berosus) is the well-known fish man (kullulû) of which Bill Cooper has provided a photo on his p. 111 (fig. 7).

It is the prophet Jonah himself, depicted on a wall of Ashurnasirpal’s NW Palace of Nimrud (Calah).

Ashurnasirpal, though, is chronologically too early for Jonah in the context of the conventional system.
More on that in Appendix A.

Later, it is said, the figure came to be associated with the god, Dagan: (“Kulullu (“Fish Man”) “Dagon”): http://symboldictionary.net/?p=300


This figure was known to the Assyrians as Kullulû, meaning “fish man.” The kullulu was a guardian figure, a dweller of the sacred Absu, the watery underground domain of the God Ea. Figures of the fish-man were often concealed in the construction of buildings to serve as protective charms.

From about the fourth century, the figure was associated (probably erroneously) with the god Dagan (meaning “grain”), most commonly known by his Hebrew name, Dagon. Dagan was a vegetation god, the father of the god Baal, the mythological creator of the plow. Dagon is mentioned several times in the Hebrew scriptures, where he is associated with the Philistines. It is to Dagon’s temple that the Ark of the Covenant is taken after being captured from the Hebrews; the next morning, they discover the statue of the god lying on the floor, sans head and hands”. [End of quote]

Another note on ‘AD’ pseudo-history. Earlier on (Part One, A), I argued for the Nineveh-connected, and hence quite anachronistic Prophet Mohammed to have been a non-historical composite, partly based on Tobias, the son of Tobit of Nineveh. Although Mohammed would be regarded by most as being a true historical character, whilst Jonah would not, I would insist upon the very opposite.

The same comment would apply to that muddle-headed navigator, Columbus (meaning “Dove”), whose maritime epic is, for me, the story of Jonah ‘writ large’. Christopher Columbus sets sail (rather more enthusiastically than had Jonah) to convert the pagans.
Many, many centuries before Columbus, 1492 and all that, the Bronze Age Mediterraneans (Cretan Philistines and the Phoenicians) were mining tons of nearly pure copper, for their precious bronze, from far-away Lake Superior in Northern America (Gavin Menzies, The Lost Empire of Atlantis, 2001).

“Columbus” (whoever he/it may have been) did not discover America!

Not surprisingly, though, “Columbus” is supposed to have encountered “a great fish” – a description that accurately translates Jonah 2:1’s dag gadol (דָּג גָּדוֹל) (“… Columbus sees a Sea Monster”):
http://anomalyinfo.com/Stories/1494-september-114-columbus-sees-sea-monster

“From a modern English translation of [his son] Ferdinand’s biography, we read that sometime between September 1~14 in 1494, this curious event occurred to Columbus and his men:

“Holding on their course, the ship’s people sighted a large fish, big as a whale, with a carapace like a turtle’s, a head the size of a barrel protruding from the water, a long tail like that of a tunny fish, and two large wings. From this and from certain other signs the Admiral knew they were in for foul weather and sought a port where they might take refuge.”

“As far as I know, no such creature exists. So what did Columbus see?

‘Did It Happen…?

“This is one of those moments where the gray zone of what is considered history and what is considered not history is fully exposed.

“History is often just stories that have been agreed upon and accepted, with no hard evidence past this agreement to support it… and in the case of most of Christopher Columbus’ voyages, this is the case. Ferdinand’s account of his father’s life is taken as authoritative on many details that no other document can confirm; yet the story above is quietly ignored, even though it has the same amount of evidence to support it as anything else in Ferdinand’s biography”. [End of quotes]

 

Summary so far

 

So far, it all amounts to something quite simple.

The life of the prophet Jonah (qua Jonah) in the Bible stretches between two incidents.

The first is Jonah’s prediction of the expansion of the territory of king Jeroboam II of Israel (2 Kings 14:25).

And the second is the ‘great fish’-and-Nineveh incident that I have located to the beginning of the reign of Esarhaddon (late in the reign of king Hezekiah of Judah).

Most importantly, we may have managed to uncover the very Jonah incident in Nineveh thanks to professor Sayce via Hart-Davies:

“Already we possess proof from the cuneiform tablets that the Bible account of Nineveh’s repentance is described in a manner which exactly coincides with Assyrian custom. “It was just such a fast”, says Professor Sayce, “as was ordained by Esar-haddon when the northern foe was gathering against the Assyrian empire, and prayers were raised to the Sun-god to ‘remove the sin’ of the king and his people. ‘From this day’, runs the inscription, ‘from the third day of this month, even the month of Iyyar, to the fifteenth day of Ab of this year, for these hundred days and hundred nights the prophets have proclaimed (a period of supplication)’. The prophets of Nineveh had declared that it was needful to appease the anger of heaven, and the king accordingly issued his proclamation enjoining the solemn service of humiliation for one hundred days”.”

Esarhaddon, who refers here to “the prophets of Nineveh”, may not personally have encountered the prophet Jonah himself who had gone off sulking to “a place east of the city” (Jonah 4:5). And, typically, the paranoid king of Nineveh – who would immediately have consulted his own “prophets” upon hearing of his people’s mass conversion – then over-reacted to the specified “forty days” by ordering a fast for “these hundred days and hundred nights”. {Esarhaddon was famous for fixing numbers, anyway, he having inverted the cuneiform signs used to write the number 70, the amount of years the god Marduk had determined for the destruction of Babylon, to the number 11}.

His prayers were raised to the “Sun-god”, as he would not have known of Yahweh.
Shamash was the Mesopotamian Sun-god, and was the god of justice who forgave sins.

Tobit’s people, and possibly Ahikar – who had only recently been in Isaiah’s (Uzziah’s) very house in Bethel (“Bethulia”) (as we read), had witnessed Judith’s victory first-hand, and had converted to Yahwism – may have generated a sense of conversion amongst the Ninevites at the preaching of this same Isaiah (= Jonah).

By now, too, the Ninevites must have heard reports of the ‘great fish’ incident-miracle.

In conventional history, the two (above-mentioned) Jonah interventions are separated in time by some 60 years – but by somewhat less of that time-span in my revision.

Obviously much filling-out of the prophet Jonah must needs be required.

I have supplemented his long life by identifying Jonah with (i) the prophet Hosea, whose prophetic career did span this very period, from Jeroboam II of Israel to king Hezekiah (Hosea 1:1), and with (ii) the very similar (to Hosea) prophet Isaiah.

In this regard (Hosea = Isaiah) I had noted: “It is most unlikely, one would have to think, to have two great prophets contemporaneously operating over such a substantial period of time, and each having three children whose names were prophetic”.

 

Professor A. H. Sayce will conventionally estimate the prophet Hosea’s career and age as follows (op. cit., p. 163): “According to the chronology of the Book of Kings, Hosea’s ministry would have extended over a period of at least 64 years, the prophecies relating to the fall of Samaria being delivered when he was at least 84 years of age”.

 

* * *

 

Now, though, the whole biblico-historical matter will become significantly more complex, with Esarhaddon, in particular, to be multi-identified due to a comprehensive folding of ‘Middle’ Assyrian into ‘Neo’ Assyrian history – a necessary consequence of the downward-in-time revision. This will serve to throw some further light upon events associated with the prophet Jonah.

My method runs counter to that often proposed by historians and biblical commentators who regard the Assyrian history as virtually sacrosanct and who thus think that it is the Bible that has to be bent to conform to it. Professor A.H. Sayce, for instance, was being wildly optimistic when he wrote (op. cit., p. 163):

“Thanks, however, to the decipherment of the Assyrian inscriptions, the true chronology of the later period of the Hebrew monarchy can now be restored. From 911 to 659 B.C. the so-called Assyrian Canon has furnished us with an accurate chronological register, in which each year is named along with the dates of the accession and death of the several Assyrian kings, and, in many cases, of the events which marked their reigns. As the Assyrian monarchs were brought into frequent contact with Israel and Judah during this period, and have been careful to record the names of the Hebrew princes whom they dethroned or compelled to pay tribute, the chronology of the two kingdoms of Samaria and Jerusalem can now be determined from the last year of Ahab to the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib”. [End of quote]

 

Edwin R. Thiele had also decided that it would be a good idea to regulate the biblical chronology in accordance with the supposedly fixed neo-Assyrian chronology.

Though Thiele’s intentions to uphold the veracity of the Bible appear to have been sincere (The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, 1983, Ch. One, p. 33): “… never will the events of the Old Testament record be properly fitted into the events of the Near Eastern world, and never will the vital messages of the Old Testament be thoroughly or correctly understood until there has been established a sound chronology for Old Testament times”, his outcome has been in no small part a disaster, with king Hezekiah of Judah, for instance, being set adrift from some very firm biblico-historical anchor points. On this, see e.g. my article:

 

King Hezekiah, Samaria, Assyria, and Edwin Thiele

 

https://www.academia.edu/8678263/King_Hezekiah_Samaria_Assyria_and_Edwin_Thiele

My Appendix A, to follow, will play utter havoc with any naïve optimism re dependence upon the text-book Assyrian chronology.

 

Conventionally-minded historians and biblical commentators are going to find it difficult, though, to get their heads around my radical and deep-seated revision.
What follows will best be grasped by those who have a good knowledge of ‘Middle’ and ‘Neo’ Assyrian history and the variety of kings involved therein.

 

Appendix A:

Moulding Assyrian history to Israel’s history

 

Jewish tradition appears to concur with my view that Jonah at the time of Jeroboam II was well separated in time from Jonah when he witnessed at Nineveh, whose king is said to have been called “Osnapper”.

So much so, in fact, that rabbinical tradition will actually speak of ‘two Jonahs’.

Three years ago (16th May, 2017) I had written on this:

“König, again, will make a point reflecting on chronology; one that will be of great significance later on in this series, as we come to discuss the period of floruit of Jonah, and his age. At the same time König will tell of the Jewish tradition that the Assyrian king in the Book of Jonah was “Osnappar” (var. As[e]napper), whom König would tentatively equate with a known neo-Assyrian king, “Assurbanipal” (var. Ashurbanipal) (A History of Israel, 2nd edn., SCM Press Ltd., London, p. 313, n. 11):

 

Jewish tradition, however, contains also the information that the history contained in the Book of Jonah was enacted in the reign of Osnappar (Ezr 4:10) [Assurbanipal?], and, seeing that the date of Jeroboam II, and that of Osnappar were different, the rabbinical tradition spoke of two Jonahs, of whom the first was of the tribe of Zebulun and the second of the tribe of Asher (see, further, Fürst, Der Kanon d. AT nach d. Ueberlief. in Talm. und Midrasch, p. 33 f.). [End of quotes]

 

No need, however, to go to the extreme of creating ‘two Jonahs’. The prophet’s long life can satisfactorily be accommodated by means of his alter ego, Hosea (= Isaiah).

Ezra 4:10 (cited above) refers to “… the rest of the nations which the great and honourable Osnappar deported and settled in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of the region beyond the River”.

 

“Osnapper” (אָסְנִפִּר) is here lauded as “great and honourable”, a description that the Jews would hardly have used for, say, a Sennacherib, or for the general run of other inimical Assyrian kings.
But they might well have done so in the case of the one special individual, Esarhaddon, who had repented at the preaching of Jonah (my view), who had allowed the pious Tobit to return home to his family, and who had greatly exalted Tobit’s nephew, Ahikar, in the kingdom of the Assyrians.

Just as tradition has created ‘two Jonahs’, though there should be only one, historians have created two, three, or even five same-named Assyrian kings (as we are going to find), though, once again, there was generally only the one. The problem arises due to the over-stretching of chronology, the solution to which requires a folding of ‘Middle’ Assyrian into the ‘Neo’ Assyrian period.

 

Esarhaddon as Ashurnasirpal-Ashurbanipal

Kings unnecessarily duplicated

I was very greatly surprised to read the following piece of information as provided by Mattias Karlsson regarding the almost total lack of statuary depicting the, albeit megalomaniacal, Ashurnasirpal (“Early Neo-Assyrian State Ideology Relations of Power in the Inscriptions and Iconography of Ashurnasirpal II (883–859) and Shalmaneser III (858–824)”, p. 39. My emphasis):
http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:637086/FULLTEXT01.pdf
“Staying in Nimrud, two gateway lions (A111) and a statue of the king (AI12, Fig. 18) from the second half, based on the date of the temple inscription, have been excavated from the Sharrat-niphi temple of Nimrud. …. The statue in question is the only known one which depicts Ashurnasirpal II. …”.

Clearly, the grandiloquent Ashurnasirpal is badly in need of one or more alter egos.

What happens, of course, when same-named kings become dupli- tripli- cated, due to chronological over-extension, is that scholars are forced to puzzle over whether this or that particular document, record, building, artefact, etc., belongs to King I or King II, King III, etc.
This happens in many instances, as we are going to find.

And so, in the case of the White Obelisk, some will confidently date this to the time of Ashurnasirpal I (c. 1049-1031 BC), e.g. Mattias Karlsson (op. cit., pp. 53-54):

 

“As for sources whose datings by scholars alternate between different time periods, the 290 cm high White Obelisk from Nineveh depicting tribute, royal warfare, cult, hunting, and banquets are in line period rather than to Ashurnasirpal II. ….This conclusion is derived from various stylistic features such as the fact that also the king’s officials wear fez-shaped hats. This clearly points to a Middle Assyrian date, since the officials and nobility of Neo-Assyrian times do not wear these headgears. …. Additionally, the coarse style which characterizes the reliefs on the White Obelisk is very different from the elegant style on the Rassam Obelisk. Since Nineveh, the provenance, was an important core city the coarseness of the reliefs can not simply be explained away as being “provincial art” from the time of Ashurnasirpal II. Rather, it should be understood as part of a chronologically determined art development, closely related to the “Broken Obelisk” of Ashur-bel-kala (1073-1056). …. It is mostly philologists who have dated this obelisk to the second king. …. The main argument here is that the shrine bīt-natḫi, mentioned in the inscription on the White Obelisk … is otherwise spoken of only by Ashurnasirpal I …. This may however be just another result of the hazardous preservation of sources”[,]

while others will argue that it pertains to Ashurnasirpal II (c. 883-859 BC):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashurnasirpal_I

“The White Obelisk[i 3] is sometimes attributed to [Ashurnasirpal I] by historians, but more usually to his later namesake, Aššur-nāṣir-apli II, because its internal content (hunting, military campaigns, etc.) better matches what is known about his reign.[3]

The fact of the matter is that the White Obelisk belonged to just the one king Ashurnasirpal.

Along similar lines, I had, in my postgraduate thesis on King Hezekiah of Judah, folded the ‘Middle’ Babylonian king, Merodach-baladan I (c. 1170-1158 BC), with his namesake Merodach-baladan II of similar reign length (c. 720-709 BC), partly on the basis of historians being unsure whether a certain item of building belonged to Merodach-baladan I or to II.

Now, the comment that I made above about the surprising lack of statuary for Ashurnasirpal applies basically as well to the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser V (c. 727-722 BC, conventional dating), who lacks any known relief depiction – at least according to the article “Shalmaneser V and Sargon II”):

https://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/Rel302/Shalmaneser%20V%20and%20Sargon%20II.htm

“The revolt of Israel against Assyria during the days of King Hoshea, last king of Israel, brought on a siege by the Assyrians (1 Kings 17).  The siege was led by Shalmaneser V, King of Assyria (there is no known relief depiction of Shalmaneser V).  During the siege, he died.  Sargon II replaced Shalmanezer V as King of Assyria, who finished the siege and sacked Samaria”. [End of quote]

And my comment will apply again, amazingly, even to that master-king, Nebuchednezzar ‘the Great’.
Dr. I. Velikovsky wrote of the astonishing fact that (Ramses II and His Time, p. 184. My emphasis): “At Wadi Brissa in Lebanon, Nebuchadnezzar twice had his picture cut in rock; these are supposedly the only known portraits of this king”.

Nebuchednezzar will feature most centrally in Appendix B, there now to be adorned with some impressive alter egos who are, in fact, very well represented in portraiture.

Ashurbanipal ‘replicating’ Esarhaddon


Fittingly, Esarhaddon is considered as a plausible candidate for “Osnapper” – along with Ashurbanipal. There is no tension at all with that in my revision, according to which Esarhaddon was Ashurbanipal.

And so here I would like to introduce my two major Assyrian alter egos for Esarhaddon: namely, Ashurbanipal and Ashurnasirpal.

Already, in Part One, B., I had quoted John H. Walton re an inscription of Esarhaddon’s telling that the king had humbled himself with “sackcloth”. Walton (et al.) will repeat this in The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, p. 780), but will now include as well “Ashurbanipal”.

Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal seem to be commonly confused in antiquity, as well as later.

One can find many instances of Ashurbanipal seemingly replicating Esarhaddon.
Previously, for example, I have written of this particular case:

“Arcadio Del Castillo and Julia Montenegro have made a valiant effort to identify the elusive biblical “Tarshish” in their article:

THE LOCATION OF TARSHISH: CRITICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Revue Biblique, 123, 2016, pp. 239-268

https://www.academia.edu/35529906/THE_LOCATION_OF_TARSHISH_CRITICAL_CONSIDERATIONS?auto=download

 

“But what struck me when reading through this article is yet another case of, as it seems to me, a ‘historical’ duplication, Ashurbanipal claiming what Esarhaddon claimed.

Writing of the neo-Assyrian sailing efforts, the authors tell as follows (pp. 252-254):

… the only record we have of them sailing the Mediterranean is when Sargon II gained control of Cyprus, which was further secured by his successors, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Assurbanipal, 668-627 BC….

Of course, the text of the Assyrian Inscription of Esarhaddon defines the extent of the Assyrian king’s domain, in maritime terms, from one area in the direction of the other, but we believe its extent would have been within maritime limits of the Assyrian Empire itself. ….
What is conclusive is the fact that in Esarhaddon’s Inscription the reference to the kings of the middle of the sea comes after enumerating his conquests, which are listed as: Sidon … Arza … Bazu … Tilmun … Shubria … Tyre … Egypt and Pathros … and Kush.

And, since Bazu seems to be situated in the northwest of Arabia and Tilmun on the Persian Gulf, very possibly Bahrain … what seems more logical is to assume that it is a delimitation in both seas of the cosmic ocean, this is the Upper Sea and the Lower Sea. So it would be a broad area that extended beyond the Mediterranean; and reference is made to it just before saying that the Assyrian king had established his power over the kings of the four regions of the Earth ….

What can of course be readily accepted …  is that there is a clear parallel between the Inscription of Esarhaddon and a text of Assurbanipal, which is inscribed on Prism B: after stating that he ruled from the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea and that the kings of the rising sun and the setting sun brought him heavy tribute, Assurbanipal says that he has brought the peoples that live in the sea and those that inhabit the high mountains under his yoke … and this reference, as we understand it, is very like Esarhaddon’s text, since it is also “a general summary”. …. [End of quotes]

 

And here is another example, this time from Eva Miller (“Crime and Testament: Enemy Direct Speech in Inscriptions of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal”, Journal of Ancient Near Eastern History, Volume 6: Issue 2, 2020, “Abstract”):

 

“In Assyrian annals, the narrative device that we would call ‘direct speech’ is employed very rarely throughout most of Assyrian history (beyond the framing device of the entire text as royal speech), with an uptick in its popularity in the royal inscriptions of the last two well-attested Neo-Assyrian monarchs, Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal (Gerardi 1989: 245–46). … Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal employ this literary feature more often than their predecessors …”. [End of quote]

Ashurbanipal, we find, supposedly repeats Esarhaddon’s efforts. Thus Wikipedia’s article, “Esarhaddon”: “Ashurbanipal left in 667 BC [sic] to complete Esarhaddon’s unfinished final campaign against Egypt”.

….
“Ashurbanipal, who would famously gather ancient Mesopotamian literary works for his famous library, had already begun collecting such works during the reign of Esarhaddon. It is possible that Esarhaddon is to be credited with encouraging Ashubanipal’s collection and education.[18]

 

Name comparisons

 

The name “Esarhaddon” can by no means be considered a good fit for “Osnapper” (var. “Asnapper”, “Asenaphar”). Ashurbanipal fits somewhat better, but an even better fit still is the name Ashurnasirpal.

Troy Lacey, in “Recent Archaeological Finds in Assyria Corroborate Scripture”:

https://answersingenesis.org/archaeology/recent-archaeological-finds-assyria-corroborate-scripture/

sees this Ashurnasirpal as the type of resettling Assyrian king as depicted in Ezra 4:10, though he follows the conventional dating that has Ashurnasirpal as a ” prior ruler to those mentioned above whose reign is conventionally dated from 883–859 BC”. Thus he writes:

 

“Ashurbanipal, the author of the last inscription above, was the son of Esarhaddon and is also mentioned in Scripture but, depending on the translation, may be called by that name or by Asnappar, Osnapper, or Asenaphar in Ezra 4:10, where he is also listed as an Assyrian king who relocated non-Israelite people to the regions of Samaria.

“It is worth noting that a few of the inscriptions found in the 1987–1992 excavation, as well as the newly discovered tunnel inscriptions, corroborate biblical people and place-names, as well as the biblical accounts of Assyrian practices. For example, an inscription of Ashurnasirpal II (prior ruler to those mentioned above whose reign is conventionally dated from 883–859 BC) states,

The ancient city Calah which Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, a ruler who preceded me, had built—this city had become dilapidated; it lay dormant (and) had turned into ruin hills. I rebuilt this city. I took people which I had conquered from the lands over which I had gained dominion, from the land Suḫu, (from) the entire land Laqû, (from) the city Sirqu which is at the crossing of the Euphrates, (from) the entire land of Zamua, from Bīt-Adini and the Ḫatti, and from Lubarna (Liburna), the Ḫatinu. I settled (them) therein.

“The above Ashurnasirpal II passage not only demonstrates a prevailing methodology of resettlement as recorded to still be practice generations later, as in Ezr a 4:10 (NKJV), but the city of Calah is also mentioned in Genesis 10:11–12.” [End of quotes]

 

The names, “Ashurnasirpal” (Aššur-nāṣir-apli … “the god Aššur is the protector of the heir,”): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashurnasirpal_I

and “Ashurbanipal” (Aššur-bāni-apli, meaning “Ashur has given a son-heir”): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashurbanipal are quite similar, both phonetically and as to meaning.

And we recall, too, that Esarhaddon had another name featuring similar elements “Ashur … mukin apli”: Ashur … (is) establisher of a legitimate heir”.

Another similar name that is going to be important for us is that of the Assyrian king, Ashur-nadin-apli, successor of Tukulti-Ninurta. Ashur-nadin-apli was variously named, as we shall learn, Ashur-nasir-apli (that is, Ashurnasirpal).

 

In conventional terms, Esarhaddon’s reign (c. 680-668 BC) runs far shorter than does that of Ashurnasirpal (c. 883-859 BC), but more especially than that of the very long-reigning Ashurbanipal (c. 668-625 BC), whose lengthy 43-year reign will turn out to be the correct figure for our composite “king of Nineveh” (see Appendix B).

 

Introducing the fish-man 

 

Why is Ashurnasirpal, Ashurbanipal, important in the Jonah context?

 

Ashurnasirpal is important, I suggest, because he was the one during whose reign there was depicted the bas-relief of the fish-man figure (as reproduced in Bill Cooper’s article) on the wall of his North-West Palace at Nimrud (Calah).

 

Was this ‘the sign of the prophet Jonah’ (Matthew 12:39), now depicted in carved stone by the architects of the Great King of Assyria?

Large whales were being hunted, too, at the time of Ashurnasirpal. P. Haupt, in “Jonah’s Whale” (Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 46, no. 18), tells of king Ashurnasirpal receiving as tribute from Phoenicia some teeth bones that Haupt thinks must have belonged to a sperm whale (pp. 155, 156):

 

“Sperm-whales are found in the Mediterranean, although they are not frequent. … in a passage of the cuneiform annals of Assur-nacir-pal [Ashurnasirpal] we read that this Assyrian king received, as tribute from Tyre, Zidon, Arvad, and other places on the Phoenician coast, ivory teeth of the blower, the creature of the sea. This blower with ivory teeth cannot have been a narwhal … or walrus … these animals are not found in the Mediterranean. The sperm-whale has, on each side of the lower jaw …from 20 to 25 conical (slightly recurved) teeth which consist of the finest ivory”.

 

Haupt, who does not actually believe that Jonah could have survived for three days in a whale, tells, nevertheless, that (p. 162): “… the head of a giant sperm-whale may be more than 30 feet long”.

 

The Assyrian king must have been impressed with his gift of whale teeth bones. Haupt again (p. 157):

 

“… Assur-nacir-pal (885-860) states that he placed two blowers of Ad-Bar-stone at the gates of the palaces in the ancient capital of Assyria, Assur, now known as Kileh Shergat … the ideogram Ad-Bar means basalt and … the field-director of the German excavations at Kileh Shergat reports that a great many basalt fragments of sculptures have been found, but the restoration of the figures has not been accomplished. Assyriologists did not know that nakhiru,… blower meant sperm-whale”.

 

The city of Calah (at Nimrud) was important, too, for Esarhaddon. Thus writes Barbara N. Porter (Images, Power, and Politics: figurative aspects of Esarhaddon’s Babylonian policy, 1994, pp. 71-72): “… Esarhaddon was actively engaged in the expansion of the the already large fort and palace complex, or ekal masarti, in the Assyrian city of Calah (Nimrud), not far from Nineveh. …. This building was the centerpiece of Esarhaddon’s extensive program to redevelop Calah as a military and administrative center for Assyria, a program that continued to the end of his reign”.

And it will be during the reign of Ashurbanipal that there occurs the first appearance of “Oannes”.

Thus Frank M. Conaway (The Kundalini Yoga Christian Master Is, 2014, p. 68) writes:

 

“Biblical scholars have speculated that Jonah may have been in part the inspiration behind the figure of Oannes in late Babylonian mythology …. The deity named “Oannes” first occurs in texts from the library of Ashurbanipal (more than a century after the time of Jonah) [sic] as Uanna or Uan, but is assimilated to Adapa …”. [End of quote]

 

Assimilating holy, miracle-working men to gods (apotheosis) is what pagans have tended to do.

Did not the Lycaonians seek to deify the miracle-working Paul and Barnabas? (Acts 14:11-12):

“When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’ Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker”.

Again, Daniel 2:46: “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him”.

 

Illness

 

Famously, Ashurnasirpal (I, so-called), likewise Esarhaddon, likewise Ashurbanipal, suffered from a long and extraordinary illness.

Ashurnasirpal will desperately pray to the goddess Ishtar for a cure … “lamentation over the kings underserved suffering for a persistent illness” (Donald F. Murray, Divine Prerogative and Royal Pretension: Pragmatics, Poetics and Polemics …, 1998, pp. 266-267):

http://jewishchristianlit.com/Texts/ANEhymns/lamIshtr.html

 

….

‘I have cried to thee, suffering, wearied, and distressed, as thy servant.
See me O my Lady, accept my prayers.
Faithfully look upon me and hear my supplication.
Promise my forgiveness and let thy spirit be appeased.
Pity! For my wretched body which is full of confusion and trouble.
Pity! For my sickened heart which is full of tears and suffering.
Pity! For my wretched intestines (which are full of) confusion and trouble.
Pity! For my afflicted house which mourns bitterly.
Pity! For my feelings which are satiated with tears and suffering.
O exalted Irnini, fierce lion, let thy heart be at rest.
O angry wild ox, let thy spirit be appeased.
Let the favor of thine eyes be upon me.
With thy bright features look faithfully upon me.
Drive away the evil spells of my body (and) let me see thy bright light.
How long, O my Lady, shall my adversaries be looking upon me,
In lying and untruth shall they plan evil against me,
Shall my pursuers and those who exult over me rage against me?
How long, O my Lady, shall the crippled and weak seek me out?
One has made for me long sackcloth; thus I have appeared before thee.
The weak have become strong; but I am weak.
I toss about like flood-water, which an evil wind makes violent.
My heart is flying; it keeps fluttering like a bird of heaven.
I mourn like a dove night and day.
I am beaten down, and so I weep bitterly.
With “Oh” and “Alas” my spirit is distressed.
I – what have I done, O my god and my goddess?
Like one who does not fear my god and my goddess I am treated;
While sickness, headache, loss, and destruction are provided for me;
So are fixed upon me terror, disdain, and fullness of wrath,
Anger, choler, and indignation of gods and men.
I have to expect, O my Lady, dark days, gloomy months, and years of trouble.
I have to expect, O my Lady, judgment of confusion and violence.
Death and trouble are bringing me to an end.
Silent is my chapel; silent is my holy place;
Over my house, my gate, and my fields silence is poured out.
As for my god, his face is turned to the sanctuary of another.
My family is scattered; my roof is broken up.
(But) I have paid heed to thee, my Lady; my attention has been turned to thee.
To thee have I prayed; forgive my debt.
Forgive my sin, my iniquity, my shameful deeds, and my offence.
Overlook my shameful deeds; accept my prayer;
Loosen my fetters; secure my deliverance;
Guide my steps aright; radiantly like a hero let me enter the streets with the living’.

….

 

Did readers pick up Ashurnasirpal’s reference here (seemingly straight out of Isaiah 38:14? KJV: ‘I did mourn as a dove’): “I mourn like a dove”?

Ashurbanipal suffered an enduring illness. 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

….

 

… 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!

 

  1. Relent, my god! Accept my supplication!

 

  1. Harken to my weary prayers!

 

  1. Learn at once the disgrace that has befallen me!

 

  1. Keep listening to my lament, which I have made!

 

  1. May the night bring you the tears which I weep!

 

  1. Since the day (you), my lord, punished me,

 

  1. and (you), the god who created me, became furious with me,

 

  1. (since the day) you turned my house into my prison,

 

  1. my bed is the ground, my sleeping place is dust,

 

  1. I am deprived of sleep, distressed by nightmares,

 

  1. I am troubled [in my …], confused [in my …].

 

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

 

 

And Esarhaddon?

Karen Radner provides this quite unsettling account of Esarhaddon’s most unusual and constant illness (in “The Trials of Esarhaddon: The Conspiracy of 670 BC”, 2007):

https://www.academia.edu/441293/2003_The_Trials_of_Esarhaddon_the_Conspiracy_of_670_BC._In_P._Miglus_and_J.M._Cordoba_eds._Assur_und_sein_Umland._Isimu_Revista_sobre_Oriente_Proximo_y_Egipto_en_la_antiguedad_6_2003_165-184_published_2007_?auto=download

 

“…. 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 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. 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 I 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?’. ….” [End of quote]

For something akin to this in modern times, read Richard B. Sorensen’s account of Charles Darwin’s strange and terrible illness in “The Darwinian Emperor is Naked” (2011):
https://www.academia.edu/42232462/The_Darwinian_Emperor_is_Naked

 

Unsurpassed cruelty

When, in Part One, B., I described Esarhaddon as “outdoing others with his cruelty and vengefulness, terrifying”, I had particularly in mind his alter ego of Ashurnasirpal, the cruellest of the cruel amongst the generally merciless Assyrian kings.

Erika Belibtreu writes of it in her article, “Grisly Assyrian Record of Torture and Death” (Editor, H. S. (2002;2002). BAR 17:01 (Jan/Feb 1991). Biblical Archaeology Society):
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f4af/bb82f1b7920fa9444e29eb128bd13832cd46.pdf

 

“The inscriptions and the pictorial evidence both provide detailed information regarding the Assyrian treatment of conquered peoples, their armies and their rulers. In his official royal inscriptions, Ashurnasirpal II calls himself the “trampler of all enemies … who defeated all his enemies [and] hung the corpses of his enemies on posts.” † The treatment of captured enemies often depended on their readiness to submit themselves to the will of the Assyrian king:

“The nobles [and] elders of the city came out to me to save their lives. They seized my feet and said: ‘If it pleases you, kill! If it pleases you, spare! If it pleases you, do what you will!’” †

“In one case when a city resisted as long as possible instead of immediately submitting, Ashurnasirpal proudly records his punishment:

 

“I flayed as many nobles as had rebelled against me [and] draped their skins over the pile [of corpses]; some I spread out within the pile, some I erected on stakes upon the pile … I flayed many right through my land [and] draped their skins over the walls.” †

“The account was probably intended not only to describe what had happened, but also to frighten anyone who might dare to resist. To suppress his enemies was the king’s divine task. Supported by the gods, he always had to be victorious in battle and to punish disobedient people:

“I felled 50 of their fighting men with the sword, burnt 200 captives from them, [and] defeated in a battle on the plain 332 troops. … With their blood I dyed the mountain red like red wool, [and] the rest of them the ravines [and] torrents of the mountain swallowed. I carried off captives [and] possessions from them. I cut off the heads of their fighters [and] built [therewith] a tower before their city. I burnt their adolescent boys [and] girls.” †

“A description of another conquest is even worse:

“In strife and conflict I besieged [and] conquered the city. I felled 3,000 of their fighting men with the sword … I captured many troops alive: I cut off of some their arms [and] hands; I cut off of others their noses, ears, [and] extremities. I gouged out the eyes of many troops. I made one pile of the living [and] one of heads. I hung their heads on trees around the city.” †

“The palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud is the first, so far as we know, in which carved stone slabs were used in addition to the usual wall paintings. These carvings portray many of the scenes described in words in the annals”. [End of quotes]

 

Erika Belibtreu now moves on to describe the grisly Esarhaddon:

“Sennacherib was murdered by his own sons. Another son, Esarhaddon, became his successor. As the following examples show, Esarhaddon treated his enemies just as his father and grandfather had treated theirs:

“Like a fish I caught him up out of the sea and cut off his head,” † he said of the king of Sidon; “Their blood, like a broken dam, I caused to flow down the mountain gullies”; † and “I hung the heads of Sanduarri [king of the cities of Kundi and Sizu] and Abdi-milkutti [king of Sidon] on the shoulders of their nobles and with singing and music I paraded through the public square of Nineveh. †”.

And, finally, she tells of the abominable cruelty of Ashurbanipal, supposed son of Esarhaddon:

“Ashurbanipal, Esarhaddon’s son, boasted:

“Their dismembered bodies I fed to the dogs, swine, wolves, and eagles, to the birds of heaven and the fish in the deep…. What was left of the feast of the dogs and swine, of their members which blocked the streets and filled the squares, I ordered them to remove from Babylon, Kutha and Sippar, and to cast them upon heaps.” †

“When Ashurbanipal didn’t kill his captives he “pierced the lips (and) took them to Assyria as a spectacle for the people of my land.” † The enemy to the southeast of Assyria, the people of Elam, underwent a special punishment that did not spare even their dead:

“The sepulchers of their earlier and later kings, who did not fear Assur and Ishtar, my lords, (and who) had plagued the kings, my fathers, I destroyed, I devastated, I exposed to the sun. Their bones (members) I carried off to Assyria. I laid restlessness upon their shades.

I deprived them of food-offerings and libations of water.” †

“Among the reliefs carved by Ashurbanipal were pictures of the mass deportation of the Elamites, together with severed heads assembled in heaps. Two Elamites are seen fastened to the ground while their skin is flayed, while others are having their tongues pulled out. There is no reason to doubt the historical accuracy of these portrayals and descriptions. Such punishments no doubt helped to secure the payment of tribute—silver, gold, tin, copper, bronze and iron, as well as building materials including wood, all of which was necessary for the economic survival of the Assyrian empire”. [End of quotes]

Was Ashurbanipal a vindictive type?

According to Lori L. Rowlett (Joshua and the Rhetoric of Violence: A New Historicist Analysis, 1996, p. 112): “’Ashurbanipal’s] treatment of his enemies (internal and external) is particularly horrible and vindictive …”.

 

And yet this – our biblical “king of Nineveh” – was surprisingly literate and scholarly, having created a marvellous royal library at Nineveh, and having also proudly proclaimed: ‘I read the beautiful clay tablets from Sumer and the Akkadian writing, which is hard to master. I had the joy of reading inscriptions on stone from the time before the Flood.’
Commenting on this, we read (originally published in Creation 9, no. 1, December 1986, p. 12):
https://answersingenesis.org/archaeology/who-said-it/

“This statement was made by King Ashurbanipal … [who] ruled Assyria from his palace at Nineveh. He ruled in the seventh century BC. This statement of his was uncovered in 1853 by Hormuzd Rassam, who discovered Ashurbanipal’s royal library. It consisted of two adjoining high-vaulted rooms stacked high with thousands of priceless clay tablets, one of which contained Ashurbanipal’s statement which in full reads: ‘I Ashur-bani-pal, within the palace, learned the wisdom of Nebo, the entire art of writing on clay tablets of every kind. I made myself master of the various kinds of writing. . .I read the beautiful clay tablets from Sumer and the Akkadian writing, which is hard to master. I had the joy of reading inscriptions on stone from the time before the flood’.” [End of quotes]

 

Marc Van de Mieroop considers Ashurbanipal’s literacy when he writes: “The king clearly wanted to set himself apart from others by claiming knowledge of writing and of secret lore, and presented the library as something completed for his own interests”. (A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000 – 323 BC, Blackwell, 2004, p. 245).

To balance that civilised sense of culture, again, we have the famous “Garden Party” relief, in which “… the enthroned queen and reclining king [Ashurbanipal], who feast in the arbour amid the vines, conifers and palms, hung with the grisly trophies of victory, consisting of the head and hand holding a wand of Teumman, king of Elam” (The British Museum, “wall panel; relief”):
https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/W_1856-0909-53

Esarhaddon’s art is most similar to Ashurbanipal’s. Consider this, for example:
https://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/plaque-king-esarhaddon-and-queen-mother-nakija

“The king [Esarhaddon] is wearing a beard and the truncated conical tiara of the Assyrian sovereigns.

The queen’s crown is crenelated, like the one worn by the wife of King Ashurbanipal on the relief known as the “Garden Party relief,” now in the British Museum, London”.

I have shown above that our composite “king of Nineveh”, Ashurnasirpal-Esarhaddon-Ashurbanipal, shared many common features among his three alter egos. And one could easily multiply examples.

 

Now I need to knit this more complex version of the “king of Nineveh” into the life of Jonah.

Jonah’s Jeroboam II and contemporaneous Assyrian kings

Thankfully, we appear to have an historical synchronism between an Assyrian king, Adad-nirari (III), and the supposed father of Jeroboam II, Jehoash. Thus Edwin R. Thiele writes (op. cit., p. 112): “In 1967 a stele was found at Tell al Rimah that has twelve lines dealing with a campaign of Adad-nirari III in the Mediterranean area. Of particular interest to students of the Old Testament is the mention of the receipt of tribute from “Ja’asu of Samaria,” or Jehoash”.

{Jehoash, rather than his father, Jehoahaz, is generally considered to be the more preferable translation of the name Ja’asu in the Assyrian al-Rimah text, and it is the one that I accept}.

 

I have referred above to Jehoash as “the supposed father of Jeroboam II”, because, in my revised history of Israel, I have found it necessary to merge the powerful Jehoash with Jeroboam II.

Jeroboam II is a hugely controversial king. This is clear, for example, from Todd Bolen’s opening remark about him in his article, “The Reign of Jeroboam II: A Historical and Archaeological Interpretation” (2002):

https://www.academia.edu/1644551/The_Reign_of_Jeroboam_II_A_Historical_and_Archaeological_Interpretation “Jeroboam II was one such king whose importance to Israel’s political history went virtually unnoticed in the biblical record. Though he ruled longer than any other king of the north, the Scriptures accord him one of the briefest treatments of all kings (2 Kings 14:23-29)”.

Information like this, for me, cries out the need for an alter ego for this notable king!

As in the case of the famed king Omri of Israel, there is no mention whatsoever of king Jeroboam II in Chronicles. Surprisingly, again, the Scriptures never at all refer to “the House of Omri”, despite its great reputation – the neo-Assyrian kings were still alluding to the House of Omri (as Bit Khumri) even as late as Sargon II (c. 720 BC), e.g., “all the land of the House of Omri” (Palace Door, Small Summary Inscription, Cylinder Inscription, Bull Inscription).

Omri, clearly contemporaneous with the Syrian king, Tab-rimmon, father of Ben-Hadad I (I Kings 20:34), must be merged – so I have argued – with the first king Jeroboam (I), likewise a contemporary of Tab-rimmon. See e.g. my article:

 

Great King Omri missing from Chronicles

 

https://www.academia.edu/42235075/Great_King_Omri_missing_from_Chronicles

On the Judaean side (subject matter really for Appendix B), king Abijah, also a contemporary of the Syrian Tab-rimmon, gets substantial and impressive coverage in 2 Chronicles (13:1-22), even though he is supposed to have reigned for only “three years” (I Kings 15:2). The biblical account of him would suggest that he must have reigned for much longer than this (2 Chronicles 13:21-22): “But Abijah grew in strength. He married fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. The other events of Abijah’s reign, what he did and what he said, are written in the annotations of the prophet Iddo”.

For this reason, and due to the fact that Abijah and Asa apparently had the same mother, Maacah, or Maakah (cf. I Kings 15:2; 15:10), I have merged Abijah with the long-reigning Asa.
And I felt it necessary to do the same with the later king of Judah, Amon, of only “two years” of reign, yet who supposedly was a king even more evil than his father, the very long-reigning Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:21-23). In my scheme, Amon, in captivity, will eventually morph into Aman (Haman) of the Book of Esther.

And, finally, there is Shallum king of Israel, another wicked and murderous king, who supposedly reigned for only “one month” (2 Kings 15:13) – he, as I have determined, has needed to be expanded to embrace an alter ego in the 22-year reigning Pekah king of Israel (2 Kings 15:27).

According to my revision for early Israel, then, Jeroboam I = Omri (House of Jeroboam); his persistent foe Tibni = Tab-rimmon; Baasha of Israel = Ahab (House of Baasha, House of Ahab); Zimri = Jehu (House of Jehu).

King Ahab, of the tribe of Issachar (as Baasha) (I Kings 15:27), must have been a “son of Omri”

(16:30), not directly, but, say, through, marriage.

My revision also enables now for Jehoash (= Jeroboam II) to connect up with Jonah and 2 Kings 14:25.

The dynasty of Jehu, king of Israel, is conventionally listed as (i) Jehu followed by (ii)-(v) his four sons (2 Kings 10:30): “Therefore your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.”

I now, however, would take that “fourth” to include Jehu himself, who was followed by Jehoahaz, then by Jehoash – whom I have identified as Jeroboam II – and, finally, by the short-reigning Zechariah (2 Kings 13:1-15:11). Four (i)-(iv) kings in total.

That enables for a biblical question the better to be answered: Who was the “saviour” of 2 Kings 13:5? Was it Jehoash, who thrice defeated the Syrians, as according to the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 13:19), or was it Jeroboam II, who greatly extended Israel’s territory, as according to Jonah (2 Kings 14:25)?

 

My answer: It was Jehoash, who was Jeroboam II.

Jonah’s prediction, therefore, was modelled on that of the prophet Elisha, both oracles concerning the same aggressive king of Israel.

 

All of this is included in my shortening of the history of Israel to which I alluded in Part One, enabling (as we progress beyond Jeroboam II) for a prophet such as Jonah, who was contemporaneous with Jeroboam II, to have been less than 85-90 years old (as in conventional terms) early in the reign of Esarhaddon of Assyria – my favoured time for Jonah’s intervention.
For, regarding my radical reconstruction of late Israel, Jehu’s last descendant, Zechariah = Pekahiah (murdered); Shallum = Pekah (murderer-murdered); and Menahem = Hosea (murderer).

Thus I have concluded that only three, rather than six, kings of late Israel, murder and/or are murdered, which seems to me to be a far more reasonable scenario than is the standard interpretation.

That alteration, too, will effectively lop off about a dozen or so years from the age of Jonah at Nineveh.

Now, finally, we can start bringing the Assyrian kings into proper alignment.

The perfect sequence of Assyrian kings, touching on both Adad-nirari and Jonah’s “king of Nineveh”, in his guise of Ashurnasirpal, can be found in this bloc (conventionally C14th-C13th-dated), taken from M. Van de Mieroop, op, cit., p. 294):

 

Adad-nirari I (1305-1274 BC)

Shalmaneser I (1273-44)

Tukulti-Ninurta I (1243-07)

Assur-nadin-apli (1202-1197)

 

Let us reconstruct this list with the aid of the life of Jonah.

 

Adad-nirari I must now merge into (II and) III, he becoming the king who took tribute from Jehoash = Jeroboam II early in the prophetic career of Jonah. One must think that king Jeroboam II’s opportunity to take back territory stolen from Israel by Damascus and Hamath (2 Kings 14:25) had occurred when Adad-nirari defeated the city of Damascus: https://www.bible.ca/manuscripts/bible-archeology-Adad-Nirari-III-king-of-Assyria-stele-inscriptions-statues-810-783bc.htm “The defeat of Aram-Damascus by Adad-nirari III about 796 [BC] liberated Israel from Aramean oppression”.”

Shalmaneser I now becomes II-IV, and the powerful, but poorly attested (as we have seen above), Shalmaneser V of the era when the capital city of Samaria was besieged by the Assyrians.
He likely, also, was the “Shalman [who] destroyed Beth-arbel” as referred to by Hosea (= my Jonah) (Hosea 10:14).

Tukulti-Ninurta I (II), I have argued, was Sennacherib, the predecessor of Jonah’s king, Esarhaddon:

 

Can Tukulti-Ninurta I be king Sennacherib?

 

https://www.academia.edu/40246318/Can_Tukulti-Ninurta_I_be_king_Sennacherib

 

He, Sennacherib, must also be the twice-mentioned “King Jareb” of Hosea 5:13 and 10:6, for the name, Sennacherib (Sîn-aḥḥē-erība) contains that same Jareb (Iareb) element in eriba.

Ashur-nadin-apli (already briefly discussed) was also known as Ashur-nasir-apli, that is, Ashurnasirpal = Esarhaddon), our biblical “king of Nineveh”.

 

This is the correct sequence of neo-Assyrian kings, these needing to be lifted out of c.1300-1200 BC and into c. 800-700 BC.

This 500-year (approx.) re-dating concurs well with Dr. I. Velikovsky’s revision (Ages in Chaos, I, 1952) according to which the supposed C14th BC era of El Amarna (EA) (of the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaohs Amenhotep III and Akhnaton) needs to be folded into the C9th BC era of Israel’s early Divided Monarchy.

 

What about Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon II it may well be asked?

The Book of Tobit supplies us with the original, correct sequence here:

 

(i) “Shalmaneser”, whom Tobit faithfully served, was apparently a long-reigning king (Tobit 1:8): “But after a long time, Salmanasar [Shalamneser] the king being dead … Sennacherib, his son … reigned in his place”. This statement does not fit the presumably short and obscure reign of Shalmaneser V, who thus needs to find his more prominent alter ego. “Shalmaneser” was the one who took into captivity the northern Israelites (e.g. Tobit’s Naphtalians) (Tobit 1:10), as Tiglath-pileser III is known to have done. Hence Shalmaneser = Tiglathpileser. (I had already argued for Tiglath-pileser III as Shalmaneser V in my postgraduate thesis on King Hezekiah of Judah, and there, as well, I identified Tiglath-pileser III with Tiglath-pileser I (conventionally dated to c. 1114-1076 BC)).

Upon his death, “Shalmaneser” was (as we have just read) succeeded by:

(ii) “Sennacherib”. No mention of a “Sargon” by Tobit.

In my university thesis I painstakingly identified Sargon II with Sennacherib (esp. in Vol. One, ch. 6).

Sennacherib, in turn, was succeeded by

(iii) “Esarhaddon” (Tobit 1:21).

Thus we have a nice sequential, parallel-fit between Marc van de Mieroop’s ‘Middle’ Assyrian kings (when properly identified) and Tobit’s ‘Neo’ Assyrian ones:

 

Adad-nirari I

Shalmaneser I = “Shalmaneser”

Tukulti-Ninurta I = “Sennacherib”

Assur-nadin-apli = “Esarhaddon”

 

 

Shalmaneser, in his guise as III (c. 859-824 BC, conventional dating), requires some special comment.

He would become a most problematical king for Dr. Velikovsky’s revision, bestriding, as he supposedly does, the very century, the C9th, to which Velikovsky had re-located the EA era (conventionally dated to the C14th BC), whose Assyrian king is known to have been one “Assuruballit”. (EA 15, 16)

This has become known in the revision as “The Assuruballit Problem” (TAP).

Dr. Velikovsky’s effort at a solution was to identify Shalmaneser III with the Babylonian (Karduniash) king, Burnaburiah (or Burraburiash). He also hopefully ‘found’ the name “Shalmaneser” in EA 11, written by Burnaburiash, as “Shalmaiati”, who, though, was probably a woman, generally considered to have been Akhnaton’s new wife Meritaten.

Revisionist Emmet John Sweeney would later start a move in the right direction by lifting Shalmaneser III out of the EA period, identifying his supposed father, Ashurnasirpal II, as EA’s “Assuruballit”, to be then followed by Shalmaneser III (Empire of Thebes, Or, Ages in Chaos Revisited, p. 118).

Now, I have lifted Shalmaneser III even further out of EA, into the mid-to-later C8th BC.
According to my revised system, Shalmaneser does not follow on from Ashurnasirpal, who, instead, as Esarhaddon, reigned two generations after Shalmaneser.

 

My compound “Shalmaneser” (I-V), now reigning for about 35 years, would have covered a historico-biblical period (as I now estimate it) going backwards from c. 722 BC (conventional Fall of Samaria and death of Shalmaneser V), then spanning the approximate decade reign of Menahem-Hoshea; the 22-year reign of Shallum-Pekah; the two years of Zechariah-Pekahiah; and the last few years of Jehoash-Jeroboam II.

The earlier part of the reign of Jehoash-Jeroboam II, already during the lifetime of the prophet Jonah, would have coincided with the fairly lengthy reign of the Assyrian king, Adad-nirari (I-III).
This puts Adad-nirari in a chronologically reasonable range of EA’s Assuruballit (Ashuruballit), of whom Adad-nirari’ was apparently a “great grandson”: https://www.penn.museum/sites/journal/836

Appropriately, too, Adad-nirari now immediately precedes my combined Shalmaneser-Tiglath-pileser: “Tiglath-Pileser III described himself as a son of Adad-nirari in his inscriptions …”:
https://www.geni.com/people/Adad-nirari-III-king-of-Assyria/6000000003645908243

Appropriately, too, yet again, one finds Shalmaneser’s alter ego, Tiglath-pileser (or “Pul”), figuring in the biblico-histories of Pekah (2 Kings 16:5, 7) and of Menahem (15:19): “Then Pul king of Assyria invaded the land, and Menahem gave him a thousand talents of silver …”, Menahem being my Hoshea: “The Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III claimed that he made Hoshea king, and Hoshea paid an annual tribute to

him”: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hoshea

 

To sum up Appendix A: The “king of Nineveh” at the time of the prophet Jonah (who was also Isaiah = Hosea), was an Assyrian composite: Ashurnasirpal-Esarhaddon-Ashurbanipal, who needs to be re-connected with his ‘Middle’ Assyrian alter ego, Assur-nadin-apli (Assur-danin-apli), or Ashurnasirpal.

The Israelite king contemporaneous with Jonah’s early prophecy (2 Kings 14:25), namely, Jeroboam II, was the same as Jehoash of Israel, and he was the “saviour” of 2 Kings 13:5.

 

Appendix B:

Moulding Babylonian history to Judah’s history


Nebuchednezzar now becomes key

Jeremiah 51:34: “Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has devoured me; he has crushed me. He has set me aside like an empty dish; he has swallowed me like a sea monster; he filled his belly with my delicacies; he has vomited me out”.

 

Who could read this verse from the Book of Jeremiah without thinking of Jonah and the sea monster?

One commentary (easyenglish.bible), at least, which includes v. 35, has not missed the comparison:

https://www.easyenglish.bible/bible-commentary/jeremiah45-52-lbw.htm

 

“Verses 34-35 These verses describe the way in which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had defeated Jerusalem. They describe him like a greedy person. He was eating like a hungry animal. He had eaten Jerusalem. He had left Jerusalem empty. It was like a jar of wine that he had drunk. Also he was like a great sea snake that had filled its stomach with rich food. The rich food was the wealth from Jerusalem that Nebuchadnezzar had taken. Perhaps the people remembered the story about Jonah. A great fish swallowed Jonah. In a similar way, Babylon took into its country everything that had belonged to Israel. Jonah returned to land when the fish coughed him out”. [End of quote]

 

“Perhaps the people remembered the story about Jonah”.

Conventionally estimated, Jonah’s “story” would have needed ‘remembering’ because it would have occurred more than 70 years before (early Esarhaddon, c. 680 BC, to Nebuchednezzar, c. 605 BC) as an absolute minimum time span.

And add to that another 60+ years if it had occurred during the reign of Jeroboam II, as some think.

That is well over a century from when Nebuchednezzar himself had begun to reign.

But what if all of those ‘conventional estimates’ are wrong, and king Nebuchednezzar was, in fact, a contemporary of Jonah’s?

Wouldn’t that cast a whole new perspective upon Nebuchednezzar as an all-devouring sea serpent?

It may not surprise readers by now to learn that I do consider the conventional estimates to be wrong.

What might well come as a surprise to readers, though, is that I also believe Nebuchednezzar to have been a contemporary of the prophet Jonah.

And I would take it even further than that – Nebuchednezzar was, in fact, Esarhaddon himself.
See e.g. my article:

 

Esarhaddon a tolerable fit for King Nebuchednezzar

 

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

 

This means that Nebuchednezzar, too, is now to be identified as Jonah’s “king of Nineveh”, which revised scenario must offer a far deeper meaning to king Nebuchednezzar as a voracious sea monster.

The Hebrew word used for “sea monster” in this case, tannin (תַּנִּ֔י), is different from both the one used in the Book of Jonah (e.g., 1:17), dag (דָּג), and that used by Jonah’s father, Amos (9:3), nachash (נָּחָ֖שׁ).

 

In the New Testament (e.g., Matthew 12:40), the huge creature is called cetos (kētŏs).

 

The meanings of this host of names tend to cover a very wide variety of creatures, including whales: e.g., sea-serpent or jackal: dragon, crocodile, sea monster, serpent, snake, whale, (huge) fish, shark.

In Appendix A, we found that the sperm-whale was being hunted, captured, and its ivory teeth traded, at the time of our “king of Nineveh” (in his guise as Ashurnasirpal).

Merging Nebuchednezzar with Ashurnasirpal-Esarhaddon-Ashurbanipal

Earlier in this article (Part One, D.) I had asserted that Esarhaddon had been involved with his oldest brother, Ashur-nadin-shumi (= “Holofernes”), in the debacle in Israel of the 185,000-strong Assyrian army:

“Esarhaddon was under extreme duress, in part because of the great debacle that had occurred in Israel …”.

This clue I had picked up from Jewish tradition, which does not refer to Esarhaddon in this context, but, most surprisingly, to “Nebuchadnezzar”. Thus the Jewishencyclopedia:

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-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 [sic] (Sanh. 95b)”.

In an article that I wrote around this precious piece of information, I put forward the suggestion that Nebuchednezzar (= Esarhaddon) would have been the official second to “Holofernes” in the Book of Judith, namely, “Bagoas”. (The Book of Judith in its present form contains a confusion of various names). The article to which I refer here is:

 

An early glimpse of Nebuchednezzar II?

 

https://www.academia.edu/38114479/An_early_glimpse_of_Nebuchednezzar_II

 

Obviously, Nebuchednezzar could not have fulfilled this Jewish tradition in the context of the lengthy conventional chronology, but he can now in mine, as Esarhaddon.

 

Nebuchednezzar has much in common with our composite Assyrian “king of Nineveh”, Ashurnasirpal-Esarhaddon-Ashurbanipal.

He shares a terrible, alienating illness (Daniel 4:28-33) with all three names, especially Esarhaddon.

Like Esarhaddon again, particularly, Nebuchednezzar is utterly paranoid, ready to bump off his own advisers (2:5): “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’.”

And, after they quite reasonably complained about this, the king only repeats it (vv. 8-9): ‘I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me’.”

This seemingly capricious behaviour, by a king who may have been “the basest of men” (Daniel 4:17), is perhaps better understandable, at least, in the context of Esarhaddon and the revolt going on all around him. No one was to be trusted. Thus Nebuchednezzar says: ‘I am certain that you are trying to gain time … hoping the situation will change’.

 

Was king Nebuchednezzar looking for an excuse to kill off all of the sycophants?

His ferocious cruelty is perhaps best reflected by his other alter ego, Ashurnasirpal.

Esarhaddon would, it is known, “put numerous of his officers to the sword in Assyria” (Paul-Alain Beaulieu, A History of Babylon, 2200 BC – AD 75, 2017, p. 211).

We might recall (from Appendix A) Mattias Karlsson’s surprising piece of information that there is only one statue today of Ashurnasirpal. It, though, like the statue (or image) made by Daniel’s “King Nebuchadnezzar”, was of ‘gold’ (Daniel 3:1). Karlsson (op. cit.):

“Ashurnasirpal II narrates that he commissioned a luxurious statue of himself in red gold …”.

 

 

The image in Daniel may possbly have been an image of a god, since Ashurnasirpal also told of his creating, with all of his skill, and from “the best stone of the mountain and red gold”, a statue of the god Ninurta. (Andrew R. Davis, Reconstructing the Temple: The Royal Rhetoric of Temple Renovation in the Ancient Near East and Israel, 2019, p. 27).

The missing portraiture of Nebuchednezzar, about which Dr. Velikovsky had commented, can easily be accounted for in the abundant extant portraiture of his alter egos.

Nebuchednezzar’s known rule length of 43-years is not well matched by Esarhaddon, whose relatively short career (according to the text books) seems to cover only the first part of the reign of Nebuchednezzar, his securing of the throne; his illness; and his bulding of Babylon (Daniel 4:30): ‘Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?’

But, in these few matters, Esarhaddon is a perfect replica of Nebuchednezzar.

“[Esarhaddon] is best known for re-building Babylon (which his father had destroyed) …”.

https://www.ancient.eu/Esarhaddon/

 

{I do not actually think that Esarhaddon, the “son” of Sennacherib (cf. Tobit 1:21), was  a direct son of Sennacherib, but more likely, as we read above, a “son-in-law of Sennacherib (Targ. to Isa. x. 32; Lam. R., Introduction, 23, says “a grandson”) …”.}

 

Nebuchednezzar’s 43-year reign length is matched perfectly, though, by Ashurbanipal’s rule of the very same length.

Ashurbanipal is a most important supplement indeed for the historical Nebuchednezzar, for whom some significant biblically-attested incidents, such as his destruction of Egypt, and of Elam, are largely unattested in any historical records pertaining to Nebuchednezzar (qua) Nebuchednezzar.

But they are not overlooked in the annals of Ashurbanipal, an expansionist king like Nebuchednezzar (and just like the vainglorious Ashurnasirpal).

Joshua J. Mark sums up Ashurnanipal’s relevant conquests in his article, “Ashurbanipal”:

https://www.ancient.eu/Ashurbanipal/

 

“He achieved the greatest territorial expansion of the Assyrian Empire which included BabyloniaPersiaSyria, and Egypt …. Ashurbanipal was a popular king who ruled his citizens fairly but was marked for his cruelty toward those whom he defeated, the best-known example being a relief depicting the defeated king with a dog chain through his jaw, being forced to live in a kennel after capture.

….

” When Ashurbanipal invaded Egypt c. 667 BCE [sic] he drove his army south as far as Thebes, sacking every rebel city in his path. The only ruler spared was the king who had remained loyal to Assyria, King Necho of the city of Sais. Necho’s son, Psamtik, had been brought back to Nineveh by Esarhaddon for re-education in Assyrian ways and beliefs and now was returned to his father to rule with him. Ashurbanipal divided the territories of Egypt between these two kings and then, in the belief that Egypt was secure, returned to Assyria to deal with problems with Elam. Tirhakah’s nephew in Nubia, however, a young man named Tatanami, recognized Egypt’s vulnerability under the new rule of the joint kings and decided to seize the opportunity.

Tatanami marched on Egypt and took each city on his route with minimal effort. At the capital of Memphis he engaged with the Egyptian-Assyrian forces under the command of King Necho. Although Psamtik was able to successfully repel the Nubian army, Necho was killed in the battle.

The Egyptians preferred the rule of the Nubians over that of the Assyrians, however, and Psamtik was driven into hiding. In 666 BCE, word of the rebellion had reached Nineveh and Ashurbanipal returned at the head of his troops and again crushed the rebels.
Their stronghold at Thebes was sacked and Tatanami abandoned his campaign and fled back to Nubia. Ashurbanipal then made Psammetichus full Pharaoh of Egypt, equipped him with Assyrian garrisons stationed at strategic points, and then again returned to Assyria in 665 BCE. Between 665 and 657 BCE he put down a rebellion in Tyre, fought the Elamites ….

….

“Ashurbanipal saw an opportunity to finally defeat his old enemy and drove his army again into Elam. The historian Susan Wise Bauer writes, “Elamite cities burned. The temples and palaces of Susa were robbed. For no better reason than vengeance, Ashurbanipal ordered the royal tombs opened and the bones of the kings bundled off into captivity” (414). When he sacked and destroyed the city of Susa in 647 BCE, he left behind a tablet which recorded his triumph over the Elamites:

Susa, the great holy city, abode of their gods, seat of their mysteries, I conquered. I entered its palaces, I opened their treasuries where silver and gold, goods and wealth were amassed… I destroyed the ziggurat of Susa. I smashed its shining copper horns. I reduced the temples of Elam to naught; their gods and goddesses I scattered to the winds. The tombs of their ancient and recent kings I devastated, I exposed to the sun, and I carried away their bones toward the land of Ashur. I devastated the provinces of Elam and on their lands I sowed salt.

 

Anyone with even the slightest claim to the throne was captured and brought back to Nineveh as a slave. In keeping with Assyrian policy, Ashurbanipal then relocated enormous numbers of the population throughout the region and left the cities empty and the fields barren …”. [End of quotes]

 

This piece by Joshua J. Mark more than adequately supplies for the lack of historical evidence in the records of Nebuchednezzar, as pointed out by critics, for his crushing defeats of Egypt (which took a long time to recover) and Elam (which never recovered), as foretold by the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

For more on all of this, see e.g. my article:

 

There’s a big hole in Nebuchednezzar II’s ‘Egyptian campaign’

 

https://www.academia.edu/35973178/There_s_a_big_hole_in_Nebuchednezzar_II_s_Egyptian_campaign

 

So poorly does the historical Nebuchednezzar ‘the Great’ appear to stack up against the version of the Babylonian king as portrayed in the Book of Daniel, it is claimed, that commentators often turn to king Nabonidus of Babylon (c. 556-539 BC, conventional), instead, as the model upon which Daniel’s “Nebuchadnezzar” must have been based.

 

And they are entirely correct in so doing.

But, guess what? Nabonidus was Nebuchednezzar!

And Nebuchednezzar’s son, Belshazzar (cf. Baruch 1:12), was Nabonidus’s well-known son, Belshazzar. He was to become, upon the death of his father, the ‘Writing on the Wall’ notorious “King Belshazzar” of Daniel 5.

 

King Nabonidus, appropriately, is considered to be an eccentric and somewhat mad, like Nebuchednezzar and his alter egos. He was also highly intelligent and an antiquarian, just like Ashurbanipal. For more comparisons, here, see e.g. my article:

 

Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus

 

https://www.academia.edu/35855917/Ashurbanipal_and_Nabonidus

And Nabonidus is thought to have suffered an enduring and alienating illness (like all of his alter egos).

Thus we read in the New World Encyclopedia article, “Nabonidus”:

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

 

“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…’.”  [End of quotes]

Nabonidus as Nebuchednezzar (and as Daniel’s “Nebuchadnezzar”) is rather comprehensively covered in my article:

 

“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel

 

https://www.academia.edu/35847164/_Nebuchednezzar_of_the_Book_of_Daniel

 

And like Jonah’s “king of Nineveh”, who “took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust …. the proclamation he issued …” (Jonah 3:6-7), so Daniel’s “Nebuchadnezzar” humbled himself (Daniel 4:34), ‘I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored’, he having previously declared (3:29): ‘Therefore I decree that …’.

Nabonidus never expected to be king, like Esarhaddon (perhaps):

 

“… Belushezib in his letter reminds king Esarhaddon that he correctly predicted the king’s rise to the throne. He had said that “you will take over the kingship” (umma šarruti tanašši) to Esarhaddon. Esarhaddon may be the “son of a nobody” in question”:

https://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:918132/FULLTEXT01.pdf

 

certainly like Ashurbanipal.

For Nabonidus was the “son of a nobody” (mār lā mamman).

I discussed this in my article:

 

“Nebuchednezzar Syndrome”: dreams illness-madness Egyptophobia. Part Seven: Specifying status as ‘Son of a nobody’

 

https://www.academia.edu/39712282/_Nebuchednezzar_Syndrome_dreams_illness-madness_Egyptophobia._Part_Seven_Specifying_status_as_Son_of_a_nobody_

 

There I wrote: “Nabonidus is not singular either in not expecting to become king. Ashurbanipal had felt the same”.

(New World Encyclopedia article, “Nabonidus”): “In his own inscriptions, Nabonidus himself makes no claim to known royal origins,[1] 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”.

Nabonidus displayed an extraordinary devotion to the god Sin of Harran (loc. cit.):

 

“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”.

Nabonidus exalted Sin to perhaps a hitherto unheard of level.

We read in the book, Symbiosis, Symbolism, and the Power of the Past (2003, eds. W. Dever and S. Gitin, p. 247): “As Nabonidus formulates it, Sin is the ilu/ilani sar ilani, “the god(s) of the gods”, which, in Beaulieu’s apt judgment, “is probably the highest epithet ever given to a god in the Mesopotamian tradition …”.

Cf. Daniel 2:47: ‘Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings …’.

The phrasing in both cases is almost identical.

As I have noted on previous occasions, though, following Charles Boutflower, the historical Nebuchednezzar was capable of writing in a fashion that almost seems to border on monotheism:

“Charles Boutflower has advanced a strong argument in his In and Around the Book of Daniel for evidence of a trend towards a Marduk (Merodach) form of monotheism to be found in various inscriptions of the Chaldean potentate, Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’. He writes: https://archive.org/stream/inaroundbookofda00boutuoft/inaroundbookofda00boutuoft

 

“According, then, to this authority, No. 15 is the latest of the inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar, and the Merodach tendency noticed by Langdon is of necessity a monotheistic tendency, for Merodach, who, as we have seen, is always foremost of the gods, appears in some passages of this inscription to stand alone. Now it is just in these monotheistic passages, these “inserted prayers” and “changes of text,” that we seem to see the work of the real Nebuchadnezzar. Thus, immediately after the introductory passage, which describes the position occupied by the king with reference to Merodach and Nebo, there follows a hymn to those divinities, col. i. 23 to ii. 39, extracted from inscriptions 19 …. But in the middle of this hymn we meet with a prayer addressed to Merodach alone : col. i. 51 to ii. 11, and this prayer, be it noted, is an entirely original addition, not found in any previous inscription. Jastrow remarks with reference to it, “The conception of Merodach rises to a height of spiritual aspiration, which comes to us as a surprise in a religion that remained steeped in polytheism, and that was associated with practices and rites of a much lower order of thought.” ….

This remarkable prayer runs thus

 

‘To Merodach my lord I prayed,

I addressed my supplication.

He had regard to the utterance of my heart,

I spake unto him:

‘Everlasting prince,

Lord of all that is,

for the king whom thou lovest,

whose name thou proclaimest,

who is pleasing to thee :

direct him aright,

lead him in the right path !

I am a prince obedient unto thee,

the creature of thy hands,

thou hast created me,

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

According to thy mercy, Lord, which thou bestowest upon

all of them,

cause them to love thy exalted lordship :

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

Grant what to thee is pleasing,

for thou makest my life’.” ….

 

And a similar exaltation of the god, Sîn, in the case of king Nabonidus, is a central feature of Paul-Alain Beaulieu’s book, The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 B.C. (1989). Beaulieu has interpreted Nabonidus’s exaltation of the moon god, Sîn, as “an outright usurpation of Marduk’s prerogatives”.

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

However, considering my revised view that Nebuchednezzar …, Nabonidus, is actually just the one Chaldean king … then “Nabonidus’s exaltation of the moon god, Sin” would simply equate, presumably, with Nebuchednezzar’s similar exaltation of Marduk. And this indeed appears to be the case from the next section from C. Boutflower’s book, according to which Sin fuses with Marduk (Merodach), “Sin is Merodach …”. [End of quotes]

 

Esarhaddon is thought to have died in (Nabonidus’s beloved) city of Harran (Encyclopaedia Britannica, article, “Ashurbanipal”): https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ashurbanipal

 

King Nabonidus is supposed to have been an emulator of Assyrian kings, and even a king like them. That is not surprising because he was: “Nabonidus, king of Assyria and Babylon, the (great) king”.  (R. H. Sack, “The Nabonidus Legend, Revue d’Assyriologie et d’archéologie orientale, Vol. 77, No. 1 (1983).

Information such as this obviously changes greatly, and re-sets, the conventional date and circumstances for the destruction of Nineveh (c. 612 BC).

It also significantly affects the history of the later kings of Judah, which is tied to the Babylonian era, and may enable for yet a further enlargement of the prophet Jonah.

Jonah in light of my revised “king of Nineveh”

 

To continue, and to enlarge, our biography of the prophet Jonah, we need to understand that (according to my revision) kings Josiah (commenced c. 650 BC, conventional dating) and his son, Jehoiakim, of Judah – thought to be kings ruling from Jerusalem at a time some decades later than Hezekiah (d. c. 685 BC, conventionally estimated) – are actually alter egos of, respectively, Hezekiah (= Josiah) and his evil son, Manasseh (= Jehoiakim).

For a fuller treatment of this, see e.g. my article:

 

King Amon’s descent into Aman (Haman)

 

https://www.academia.edu/37376989/King_Amons_descent_into_Aman_Haman_

 

This, of course, has great ramifications:

It means that Isaiah (= Jonah) can potentially be found as well amongst Josiah’s officials.

It means that the prophet Jeremiah of the time of King Josiah (Jeremiah 1:2), can be the ‘Suffering Servant’ of Isaiah 53:1-12, whom Jeremiah’s life so closely fits.

(This description pointing more perfectly, of course, to Jesus Christ himself).

It would mean that the “Cyrus” about whom Isaiah wrote (e.g., 45:1) was already a teenager at the time of the Jonah incident.

It means that we do not have to consider Deutero- and Trito- Isaiahs.

It may well mean that the prophet Uriah (Urijah), who was martyred during the reign of king Jehoiakim, is biblical evidence for the tradition that Isaiah was martyred during the reign of Manasseh. Thus Jeremiah 26:20-23:

“(Now Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath Jearim was another man who prophesied in the name of the LORD; he prophesied the same things against this city and this land as Jeremiah did.

When King Jehoiakim and all his officers and officials heard his words, the king was determined to put him to death. But Uriah heard of it and fled in fear to Egypt.

King Jehoiakim, however, sent Elnathan son of Akbor to Egypt, along with some other men.

They brought Uriah out of Egypt and took him to King Jehoiakim, who had him struck down with a sword and his body thrown into the burial place of the common people.)”.

This last needs a bit of comment as it presents us with a different name for the prophet, a different patronymic, and, possibly, a different place of residence. I shall come back to it in the next section. But it is interesting that, according to Islamic tradition, Jonah was martyred. Thus Don E. Jones (op. cit.): “Muslim tradition indeed confirms that Jonah became a martyr and [far less likely, I believe] was buried in Nineveh”.

Isaiah as Asaiah


We may meet with Isaiah (= Jonah) during Year 18 of the reign of Josiah (2 Kings 22:3), in the person of “Asaiah the king’s attendant” (עֲשָׂיָה עֶבֶד-הַמֶּלֶךְ) (v. 12). This was in relation to the discovery of the Book of the Law and the subsequent consultation of the prophetess, Huldah. The incident would have occurred not long after Sennacherib’s successful invasion of Judah when he besieged Jerusalem, hence: ‘Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us …’ (vv. 11-14):

“When the king [Josiah = Hezekiah] heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: ‘Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found.

Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us’. Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Akbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter”.

The husband of the extraordinary Huldah, “Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas” would have been, I suggest, a Kohathite Levite (cf. I Chronicles 6:37), “son of Tahath, the son of Assir”.

In perfect accord with my new identification here of Isaiah, there was an “Asaiah … a prince of one of the families of the Simeonites in the reign of Hezekiah. (1 Chronicles 4:36) …”. We might recall from Part Two, A. that Isaiah, as Uzziah, was likewise a prince, “the prince of Juda[h]” and “the prince of the people of Israel” (Judith 8:34; 13:23. Douay).

Commentators would not expect, of course, to find Isaiah in office as late as the reign of King Josiah of Judah.

Now Asaiah here appears to have as an ancestor the same name as Uriah the martyr’s “father” above, “son of Shemaiah” (v. 37). In the case of Uriah, the home of he (my preference), or of his “father”, is given as “Kiriath Jearim”, which is not far from Moresheth-Gath of Micah.

The burning question asked by commentators as to why King Josiah did not send his official delegation of impressive ministers to consult Jeremiah, or the prophet Zephaniah, all males, but sent them to consult, instead, the enigmatic woman, Huldah, can now be enlarged to include Isaiah (= Asaiah), to whom king Hezekiah had indeed sent a like delegation (Isaiah 37:5): “When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah …”.

For I am now saying that Isaiah (as Asaiah) was amongst those sent to consult Huldah.

We have found the various names for our prophet Jonah’s alter egos to be somewhat similar (in sound at least, and, in some cases, in meaning): Isaiah; Asaiah; Hosea; Uzziah.

Uriah (var. Urijah) is a bit different. It would be compatible with the name “Azariah”, and we know that King Uzziah of Judah was also called Azariah (2 Kings 14:21).
Isaiah, given his closeness to the kings of Judah, may have adopted both names, Uzziah and Azariah (Uriah), in honour of the king during whose reign he had prophesied.

 

Folding ‘Middle’ into ‘Neo’ Babylonia

Not much more needs to be added here.

Naturally, with the folding of ‘Middle’ Assyrian into ‘Neo’ Assyrian (Appendix A), the corresponding ‘Middle’ Babylonian must fold into ‘Neo’ Babylonian.

I have already mentioned the case of Merodach-baladan I needing to be folded into Merodach-baladan (so-called) II. He was an ally of King Hezekiah (Isaiah 39:1).

And in my postgraduate thesis on the same King Hezekiah of Judah, I had found that a sequence of C12th BC Shutrukid Elamite kings folds seamlessly into the succession of Elamite contemporaries of the C8th BC Sennacherib. (I can now add, of Esarhaddon).

Nebuchednezzar I (c. 1000 BC, conventional dating) now folds into Nebuchednezzar II, as yet another alter ego for our “king of Nineveh”.

 

His famously wise ummanu, Esagil-kini-ubba, whose reputation continued right down to Seleucid times, can now merge with Assyria’s wise ummanu, Aba-enlil-dari, our Ahikar – historically attested – whose fame was probably even more long-lasting (and has been picked up, as we read, in Islam).

Not surprisingly, too, we meet Ahikar as well in the Book of Daniel, as “Arioch” (cf. Judith 1:6).

I discuss this in my article:

 

Meeting of the wise – Arioch and Daniel

 

https://www.academia.edu/40551289/Meeting_of_the_wise_-_Arioch_and_Daniel

From Esarhaddon’s other name, Assur … mukin-apli, we can probably identify yet another alter ego of our “king of Nineveh” in the obscure, though very long-reigning (about 36 years), king of Babylon, Nabu-mukin-apli (c. 978-943 BC, conventional dating).

He can probably be tied to Nabonidus due to the fact that, in ‘both’ cases, the important Akitu festival was interrupted for nearly a decade: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nab%C3%BB-mukin-apli

“The Religious Chronicle [i 5] provides the most detail about [Nabu-mukin-apli’s] reign. The Akitu festival, or New Year’s festival of Marduk and Nabû, was interrupted several times, indeed for a stretch of nine straight years, because the “Aramaeans were belligerent”.”
Compare the case of Nabonidus with the Akitu festival being interrupted for the approximate decade from Nabonidus’s 7th to his 17th years (Benjamin D. Thomas, Hezekiah and the Compositional History of the Book of Kings, 2017, pp. 204-205).

The same situation we find, indeed, with Esarhaddon (CAH, p. 374): “… Babylon … the city had been sacked by Sennacherib, and the interruption of observance of the Akitu festival
which began at that time continued through the reign of Esarhaddon …”.

Finally, I have identified Nebuchednezzar with the mad, Egypt-conquering king:


Cambyses also named Nebuchadnezzar?

 

https://www.academia.edu/37313486/Cambyses_also_named_Nebuchadnezzar

 

meaning that my revision of the prophet Jonah now covers, in conventional terms, 220 years at the very least, from Jeroboam II (d. c. 740 BC) to Cambyses (d. c. 520 BC).

Conclusion

The “king of Nineveh” at the time of the prophet Jonah (who was also Isaiah/Asaiah = Hosea) – late during the reign of king Hezekiah = Josiah, of Judah – was an Assyro-Babylonian composite: Ashurnasirpal-Esarhaddon-Ashurbanipal/Nebuchednezzar-Nabonidus (Cambyses), who needs to be re-connected with his ‘Middle’ Assyro-Babylonian alter egos, Assur-nadin-apli (Assur-danin-apli), or Ashurnasirpal, and Nebuchednezzar I (also Nabu-mukin-apli).

The Israelite king contemporaneous with Jonah’s early prophecy (2 Kings 14:25), namely, Jeroboam II, was the same as Jehoash of Israel, and he was the “saviour” of 2 Kings 13:5.

A final note: Just consider the astounding and miracle-packed early career of our “king of Nineveh”.
He may have been the first person, as “Bagoas”, to have observed the headless body of “Holofernes” after the departure of Judith and her maid (Judith 14:14-15): “So Bagoas went in and knocked at the entry of the tent, for he supposed that [Holofernes] was sleeping with Judith. But when no one answered, he opened it and went into the bedchamber and found him sprawled on the floor dead, with his head missing”.

He was the one who sounded the alarm, precipitating the rout and mass slaughter (vv. 16-19; 15:1-7).

Back in Nineveh, a prophet who had emerged from a “great fish” preached doom over his city.
Thanks to the sincere repentance of the people, and the action of the king, Nineveh was spared that destruction, Jonah’s “forty days” being extended to about forty years.

He was the king who had a Jewish prophet not only interpret his troublesome dream, but even recall it for the king.

He was the king who witnessed three young men communing with an angel inside his fiery furnace.

For his manifold sins, this king would suffer an unimaginably horrible sickness that just would not go away – that is, until he repented, and proclaimed the ‘god of gods’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronologically organising Ezra-Nehemiah

 

This important work has already been largely achieved by James B. Jordan, in his series:

“The Chronology of Ezra & Nehemiah”:

The Chronology of Ezra & Nehemiah, Part 1

 

I would not, however, accept his conventionally based BC dates for Cyrius or Darius.

 

The author begins by discussing:

The Chronological Problem

The chronological problem in Ezra-Nehemiah boils down to this: On the one hand, the name lists in these two books lead us to expect that all the events in them took place in the reign of Darius; while on the other hand, the text calls the Persian emperor under whom Ezra and Nehemiah lived by the name “Artaxerxes,” and Artaxerxes I (Artaxerxes Longimanus) reigned many years after Darius. We can resolve this problem one of two ways. The first is to strain the information given in the name lists in order to make it fit, this approach being the common one today. This gives us a long chronology for Ezra. The other way of resolving the problem is to hold that “Artaxerxes” in Ezra-Nehemiah is simply another name for Darius, giving us a short chronology. The long chronology is the establishment view today among both unbelieving and evangelical commentators. The short chronology has always been favored by Biblical chronologists.

….

Nehemiah and Mordecai

In Ezra 1-2, we read that immediately after Cyrus’s decree (536 B.C.), a group of exiles returned from Babylon to begin work on the Lord’s Temple. Among these were “Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai” (Ezr. 2:2). Nehemiah 7:7 gives the same list: “Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamiah, Mordecai.” Who is this Nehemiah who returned with the first group of exiles? Most expositors hold that he cannot be the same as the Nehemiah who wrote Nehemiah, because the latter Nehemiah was still alive over 100 years later. We must ask, however, [if] this interpretation makes sense. Was Ezra trying to confuse his reader by mentioning some other Nehemiah in Ezra 2:2? More, was Nehemiah trying to confuse us by mentioning some other Nehemiah in Nehemiah 7:7?

If we look at Nehemiah 3:16 we read about “Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, official of half the district of Beth-zur.” This is clearly another Nehemiah, and that is why we are told who his father was. Nehemiah the governor carefully distinguishes this Nehemiah from himself. Surely he would have done the same in Nehemiah 7:7, if that Nehemiah had been someone other than himself.

We ought to assume that the Biblical writers were trying to communicate, not confuse. The reference to “Nehemiah” in Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 7:7 should be taken as strong evidence that the short chronology is correct. Nehemiah returned with the exiles and was present for the initial altar building under Joshua and Zerubbabel. At some later date he returned to Persia to serve King Darius/Artaxerxes.

Notice also that Mordecai is mentioned in Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 7:7. In the absence of any other qualifier, we should assume that this is the Mordecai, the great and renowned Mordecai of Esther 10:3. This identification would shorten the chronology as far as the book of Esther is concerned, and indeed would tend to identify Esther’s Ahasuerus as Darius. (For a possible side-light, see Nehemiah 2:6.)

Nehemiah 10 and 12

In Nehemiah 10 we are given a list of the priests and Levites who signed the covenant renewal document prepared by Nehemiah (Neh. 9:38). The names on this list are identical with those who returned to Jerusalem at the time of Cyrus’s decree. If the long chronology were correct, there would be a 91-year gap between these two events. According to the short chronology, there are only about 34 years between the two events.

Those who returned with Zerubbabel Those who signed with Nehemiah

in the first year of Cyrus in the 20th year of Artaxerxes

(Nehemiah 12:1-9) (Nehemiah 10:1-12)

Priests

1. Seraiah Seraiah

2. Jeremiah Jeremiah

3. Ezra (Azariah)

4. Amariah Amariah

5. Malluch (Malluchi) (Malchijah)

6. Hattush Hattush

7. Shechaniah (Shebaniah) Shebaniah

8. Rehum (Harim) Harim

9. Meremoth Meremoth

10. Iddo –

11. Ginnetho Ginnethon

12. Abijah Abijah

13. Mijamin Mijamin

14. Maadiah (Maaziah)

15. Biglah Biglai

16. Shemaiah Shemaiah

17. Joiarib –

18. Jedaiah –

19. Sallu (Sallai) –

20. Amok –

21. Hilkiah –

22. Jedaiah –

Levites

1. Jeshua Jeshua

2. Binnui Binnui

3. Kadmiel Kadmiel

4. Sherebiah Shebaniah

5. Judah (Hodijah, cp. Ezr. 2:40, 3:9)

6. Mattaniah –

7. Bakbukiah –

8. Unni –

(and 12 others)

Of the 8 Levites who are mentioned as returning with Zerubbabel, 5 are mentioned as signing the covenant with Nehemiah. Of the 22 priests who returned with Zerubbabel, 15 signed the covenant with Nehemiah. It is quite natural that 20 out of 30 men who returned with Zerubbabel in the first year of Cyrus should still be alive 34 years later. It is not reasonable to suppose that they would be alive 91 years later.

Modern commentators get around this problem by saying that the names in Nehemiah 10 are family names, not personal names. That is, they are the names of the priestly courses established by the men living at the time of Zerubbabel, not the names of individuals. This is a wholly gratuitous assertion without any foundation in the text. First of all, a number of the names in Nehemiah 10:1-27 correspond to the personal names found in Nehemiah 3. Secondly, if family names or names of priestly courses are in view, then the two lists should be identical, which they are not. Of course, if it is a proven fact that the Artaxerxes of Nehemiah is Artaxerxes Longimanus, then some such explanation of Nehemiah 10 becomes necessary, but as we are seeking to show, there is good reason to suppose that the Artaxerxes in Nehemiah is in fact Darius. Therefore, Nehemiah 10 can stand without procrustean interpretations being forced upon it.

 

Continuing on into Part Two:

The Chronology of Ezra & Nehemiah, Part 2

Jordan writes on the particularly complex matter of:

The Priestly Genealogy

Jeshua the high priest, who returned with Zerubbabel, was not a young man at the time. We know this because his father, Jehozadak, was taken into captivity (1 Chron. 6:15). [This] was 50 years before the decree of Cyrus (2 Kings 25:18-22, by implication). Jehozadak’s father Seraiah, slain by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:18-22), was high priest at the time, so his father Azariah (1 Chron. 6:14) was already dead. Thus, Seraiah was probably in his 50s or 60s, which would put his eldest son Jehozadak in his 30s or 40s. Accordingly, it is likely that Jeshua was born before the captivity. It is possible that Jeshua was born in captivity, but he would still be fairly old by the sixth year of Darius, 21 years after the return, 71 years after the captivity. To be on the safe side, we shall put his age at 80 in the 6th year of Darius, 21 years after the return.

Jeshua’s son was Joiakim (Neh. 12:10). He was high priest in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah (Neh. 12:26). According to the long chronology, Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem 70 years later than the sixth year of Darius, which would mean that Joiakim was born when his father was very old indeed, or else that there is gap (aha, blessed gaps!) in the genealogy. Gaps do appear in genealogies (though not in chronologies) in the Old Testament, but given the tremendous importance place on the genealogical records of the priests and Levites in Ezra and Nehemiah, it is very unlikely that there is any gap here (Ezra 2:62; Neh. 12:22).

Of course, a gap is barely possible, but it is much easier to account for this genealogy on the basis of the short chronology. Old Jeshua died immediately after the Temple was dedicated, which means that his son Joiakim took over at the time Ezra arrived a year later. (The death of the high priest is significant in establishing the nation; see Num. 35:28; Num. 20:22 – 21:3; Josh. 24:33. The apparent fact that Jeshua’s life spanned the entire captivity-punishment of Israel adds an additional dimension to Zechariah 3.)

Joiakim’s son was Eliashib (Neh. 12:10). Evidently, at the time of Nehemiah (13 years after Ezra arrived) Joiakim was already an old man, so his son Eliashib was helping him as high priest (Neh. 3:1).

We are told of two sons of Eliashib: Joiada (Neh. 12:10), who served first as high priest, and Johanan (Neh. 12:23; Ezra 10:6), who served with and after him.

One of Joiada’s sons, unnamed, was already married when Nehemiah returned for his last visit about 13 years later (Neh. 13:28). We know that Joiada had a son named Jonathan, who is not listed in Nehemiah 12:22 as serving as high priest, though Jonathan’s son Jaddua did serve (Neh. 12:11). Perhaps it was Jonathan who was cast out by Nehemiah, and perhaps that prevented his serving as high priest. (Note, though Johanan and Jonathan look similar in English, they are definitely not the same name in Hebrew.)

It is helpful to realize that Johanan was Joiada’s younger brother, because letters from the Jewish colony at Elephantine mention Johanan as a high priest in the 14th and 17th years of Darius’s reign. If Johanan had been a son of Joiada, this would be impossible. According to Ezra 10:6, Johanan already had a room in the Temple precincts in the 7th year of Darius, so he must have been at least a late teenager at this time.

There is plenty of time for all this in the short chronology. Here is a possible chronology:

According to Josephus (Antiquities 11:7-8), Jaddua was still high priest when Alexander the Great arrived at Jerusalem …. He also tells us of an aged Sanballat who was operating at the time Alexander arrived on the scene. Since the Sanballat of Nehemiah was in office in Darius yr. 20 (short chronology) …. Perhaps, though, among all his confusions Josephus has it right about Jaddua’s living to see Alexander.

There was a Jewish colony in Egypt on an island in the Nile called in Greek Elephantine. Archaeologists have uncovered a number of legal documents and letters addressed to various persons in the Persian empire from this colony. A number of them are dated in the years of Darius, and these letters refer to people mentioned in Nehemiah: Bigvai (Neh. 7:19); Johanan the high priest; Hanani (Nehemiah’s brother? Neh. 1:2); Sanballat (Neh. 3:1) (Papyri 21-22, 30-34). Because the present scholarly opinion is that Ezra and Nehemiah lived in the time of Artaxerxes Longimanus, it is assumed that the Darius of the Elephantine Papyri must be Darius II, who followed Longimanus. In terms of the short chronology, however, these letters should be understood as having been written in the time of Darius the Great.

It is interesting to notice that in Elephantine Papyrus No. 21 we have a letter to the head of the Elephantine colony, Yedoniah, from Hananiah, who might be Nehemiah’s brother. The letter instructs them that King Darius had ordered in his 5th year that the Jews were to celebrate Passover. This squares very nicely with Ezra 5.

The Ezra Question

As we saw above, the high priest at the time Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem was Seraiah, and he was killed at that time. He was the father of Jeshua, who 71 years later presided over the Passover in the 6th year of Darius (Ezra 6). If we compare the genealogy of the high priests in 1 Chronicles 6:3-15 with the genealogy of Ezra in Ezra 7:1-5, we find that Ezra was a member of the high priestly family. His genealogy is identical with that of Seraiah, and he is said to be a son of Seraiah (Ezra 7:1). We have supposed that Jeshua was 80 in the 6th year of Darius. The youngest Ezra could possibly be at that time is 71, assuming he was born the year his father died.

Long chronologists argue that Ezra lived in the time of Artaxerxes Longimanus, not in the time of Darius the Great. Thus, they suppose a gap between Seraiah and Ezra in the genealogy of Ezra 7:1. They defend this supposition by pointing to the fact that there is a definite gap between Azariah and Meraioth in Ezra 7:3 (cp. 1 Chron. 6:3-15). If there is one gap in Ezra’s genealogy, they point out, they may well be another.

Let us see, however, whether the short chronology can successfully overcome the supposed gap between Seraiah and Ezra. Ezra was still alive in the 20th year of Darius, when Nehemiah arrived, making him at least 85 years old. Ezra was present at the dedication of the wall built under Nehemiah’s supervision (Neh. 8:2). It is usually assumed that it only took 52 days for the wall to be rebuilt (Neh. 6:15), so that it was built in the very year Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem. Thus, Ezra was 85 years old at this time. This is possible, and so no gap is needed. Ezra was the son of Seraiah, and brother of Jeshua the high priest.

Is this a correct reconstruction of events? It would seem to take a lot longer than 52 days to put up a wall around a city. Nehemiah 5:14 says that Nehemiah was in Jerusalem for 12 years. His sole mission was to rebuild the wall, and there is no reason why he would have remained in the city for 12 years after rebuilding it. Before he left the King, Nehemiah told him how long it would take to rebuild the wall, and promised to return (Neh. 2:6). Since Nehemiah stayed in Jerusalem 12 years, it only makes sense that he told the king it would take 12 years to rebuild the wall. It is more reasonable to assume that it took 12 years for the wall to be rebuilt, amidst opposition. In Nehemiah 6:1 we read that “no breach remained in it [the wall] although at that time I had not set up the doors in the gates.” Then in 6:15 we read. “the wall was completed on the 25th of Elul, in 52 days.” Thus, a simple consecutive reading of Nehemiah 5-6 indicates that it took 12 years for the wall to be put up, and another 52 days to get the doors in the gates erected. After this there was a dedicatory ceremony and the feast of tabernacles (Neh. 7-12), and then Nehemiah returned to Persia, his task completed. ….

 

Now, in Part Three the author proceeds to reduce the conventional number of Persian kings.

My preference for the King of the Book of Esther, though, would be Darius the Mede-Cyrus, over the author’s: “He almost certainly was Darius the Great”.

 

The Chronology of Ezra & Nehemiah, Part 3

….

J. M. Cook, The Persian Empire (New York: Schocken, 1983; p. 45), says that Xerxes perhaps means “hero among kings,” clearly a throne name. Artaxerxes means “kingdom of justice,” again clearly a throne name (idem). We can compare this word “Artaxerxes” with the Egyptian “Pharaoh,” which means “great house.”

Darius (Persian Dareyavesh) means “he who holds firm the good” (Cook, idem). Others give something like “he who enjoys good things” (Richard Frye, The Heritage of Persia; New York: World, 1963; p. 92).

According to Carey Moore (Esther, Anchor Bible 7B, Garden City: Doubleday, 1971; p. 3), Ahasuerus means “chief of rulers.” Ahasuerus is generally thought to be the same word as Xerxes. Thus, it is very likely that Darius could have been called Artaxerxes and also Ahasuerus (Xerxes).

In summary:

Darius = The Doer of Good

Xerxes = Hero Among Kings

Artaxerxes = King of Justice

Ahasuerus = Chief of Rulers

It is interesting to note that the Inscription of Xerxes at Persepolis reads in part as follows: “I am Xerxes the great King, the King of kings, the King of the land where many languages are spoken; the King of this wide earth, far and near, the son of King Darius the Achaemenian. Says Xerxes the great King: By the grace of Ormazd I have made this portal. . . . Says Darius the King: May Ormazd protect me and my empire, and my work and my father’s work.” Here we see that Xerxes calls himself Darius. This proves that these Persian monarchs were sometimes called by different names. (Full inscription found in Martin Anstey, Chronology of the Old Testament; Grand Rapids: Kregel, [1913] 1973; p. 262.)

The fact that a given king called himself and was called by more than one name sheds light on the fact that the Apocrypha and Josephus call these kings by various names. Josephus calls the “Artaxerxes” of Ezra-Nehemiah “Xerxes” …. In the Apocryphal additions to Esther, her king is called “Artaxerxes.”

….

Darius-Artaxerxes

Ezra 6:14 says that the Jews finished building “according to the command of the God of Israel and the decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia.” The problem with this verse is that the only decree of “Artaxerxes” mentioned in Ezra to this point is in 4:7-23, which was a decree to stop building the temple! Moreover, if the Artaxerxes of Ezra 6:14 is Longimanus, it is curious that he is mentioned here because the rest of Ezra says nothing about any decree of his to rebuild the temple. Of course, if Nehemiah is considered part of Ezra, then we can say that this is a decree to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, but then the question is: Why is this mentioned here in Ezra 6:14?

A far simpler solution is found in Hebrew grammar itself, which allows for “and” to mean “even” or “to wit.” In that case, Ezra 6:14 would read, “according to . . . the decree of Cyrus and Darius, to wit: Artaxerxes.” Here is Gesenius’s explanation of this use of the connective “and” in Hebrew: “Frequently vav copulativum [the connective `and’] is also explanatory (like isque, et – quidem, and the German und zwar, the English to wit), and is then called vav explicativum [the explicative `and’]. For instance, Isaiah 17:8 reads, “Nor will he look to that which his fingers have made, to wit: the Asherim and incense stands.” Similarly, Nehemiah 8:13 reads, “the [people] gathered around Ezra the scribe, to wit: to give attention to the words of the Law.” In Proverbs 3:12: “For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even [to wit] as a father the son in whom he delights.” (See Gesenius’s Hebrew Grammar, second English ed., Oxford U. Press, p. 484, note 1b.)

This reading of Ezra 6:14 is not new. John Gill, in his commentary (late 18th c.) writes, “I am most inclined to think, with Aben Ezra [noted Jewish commentator], that he [Artaxerxes] is Darius himself; and the words to be read, Darius, that is, Artaxerxes, king of Persia; Artaxerxes being, as he [Aben Ezra] observes, a common name [throne name] of the kings of Persia, as Pharaoh was of the kings of Egypt . . . and I find Dr. Lightfoot [eminent chronologist] was of the same mind.”

Remembering that the Bible often uses names meaningfully, we can interpret Ezra and Nehemiah in terms of the meaning of the names Darius and Artaxerxes. Ezra 6 would use the name Darius to focus on the fact that the king was doing good: “Then King Do-good issued a decree” (Ezra 6:1). Ezra 7 would shift to the name Artaxerxes to focus on the justice and universality of the king’s reign. Notice the end of Darius’s letter in 6:12, “I Darius (the Doer) issue decree; let it be done diligently.” Now compare the end of Artaxerxes’ letter in Ezra 7:25-26, “Set magistrates and judges who may judge . . . all such as know the laws of your God. . . . Whoever will not observe the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily on him.” The emphasis on justice is in keeping with the meaning of the name Artaxerxes (King of Justice).

Similarly, the use of Ahasuerus (Chief of Rulers = Xerxes, Hero Among Kings) is appropriate for Esther, because of the emphasis on his rule over 127 other lands (Esth. 1:1). As we have seen, since Mordecai was active already in the days of Jeshua and Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:2), it is very unlikely that Esther’s king was (the second) Xerxes. He almost certainly was Darius the Great.

Since the genealogical and name-list evidence strongly indicates a short chronology for Ezra and Nehemiah, there is every reason to assume that Darius and Artaxerxes are the same person. ….

 

Finally, to Part Four, in which Jordan provides his coherent summary of it all:

The Chronology of Ezra & Nehemiah, Part 4

….

I suggest that the Ahasuerus of Ezra 4:6 and the Artaxerxes of 4:7 are both Darius, and that the “and” of 4:7 should be translated “to wit.” This means that the phrase “at the beginning of his reign” applies to Darius-Artaxerxes, and that the letter sent to Artaxerxes in Ezra 4:7 is the same as the one sent to Ahasuerus in 4:6. It also means that Ezra 4:5-6 are in chronological order. To wit: “They hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius (Do-good) king of Persia. To wit, in the reign of Ahasuerus (Chief of Rulers, Darius-Artaxerxes), in the beginning of his reign, they wrote an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. To wit, in the days of Artaxerxes (King of Justice, Darius), Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his colleagues, wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the text of the letter was written in Aramaic and translated from Aramaic.”

The letters Ezra 4 complain that the Jews were rebuilding not the temple but the wall. The long chronology says that under Darius the temple was rebuilt, but that when the Jews began to rebuild the wall, stiff opposition arose against them. In the days of Xerxes (son of Darius) and in the days of Artaxerxes Longimanus they were prevented from rebuilding the wall. Finally, Nehemiah obtained permission to rebuild the wall, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes Longimanus.

I believe that there is internal Biblical evidence against this reconstruction. We have seen that it is most likely that the Artaxerxes of Ezra-Nehemiah is Darius. But if the wall was not rebuilt until Nehemiah came in Darius’s 20th year, why were letters sent complaining about the wall at the beginning of Darius’s reign? The answer is seen in Ezra 9:9, which says that the Jews had begun rebuilding the wall before Nehemiah, and indeed had erected some kind of a wall by the time Ezra arrived in Jerusalem.

Here is the historical scenario, as I see it: Jeshua and Zerubbabel and their associates returned to Jerusalem in the first year of Cyrus. They built the altar, and begin rebuilding the temple (Ezra 3). Soon, however, they encountered opposition, which “discouraged the people of Judah and frightened them from building” (Ezra 4:4). The people left off working on the temple and devoted themselves to building nice homes for themselves and working on the wall (Haggai 1). God in His mercy raised up adversaries who complained about this wall-building, and at the beginning of his reign King Darius forbad them to work on the wall and city (Ezra 4:21). They were not, however, forbidden to work on the temple. Thus, God raised up the prophet Haggai, who told them that they were in sin for not having finished the temple first (Haggai 1). No longer able to work on walls and houses, the people to devoted themselves to rebuilding the temple. This aroused more questions, and another letter was sent to Darius asking about the temple (Ezra 5). Darius gave permission to rebuild the temple, which was completed in the 6th year of Darius (Ezra 6). The next year Ezra arrived, and noted that both the temple and a rudimentary wall had been completed.

This scenario does better justice to the information contained in the texts of Ezra-Nehemiah and Haggai, and does not require that Ezra 4 be yanked out of historical context.

….

Joakim and Susanna’s progression to become Mordecai and Esther

 by

Damien F. Mackey

 

“And Mordecai the Jew was next in rank to King Ahasuerus. He was a man held

in respect among the Jews, esteemed by thousands of his brothers, a man who

sought the good of his people and cared for the welfare of his entire race”.

Esther 10:3

  

With the assistance of a significantly revised Neo-Babylonian dynasty through to the early Medo-Persian period, I have been able historically to identify the wicked King Belshazzar of Daniel 5 as King Evil-Merodach, son of Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’, and the un-named second ruler in Belshazzar’s kingdom as Jehoiachin (or Coniah), whom Evil-Merodach had exalted over the other princes in Babylon (2 Kings 25:27-30).

 

These are all historically verifiable kings.

 

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

 

Haman un-masked

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Clines tells of these other estimations of Marduka:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Robert Gordis, rather more boldly, appears to have no reservations whatever about the identification of Mordecai with Marduka.

For him, the attestation of the names Marduka and Mrdk … is ‘the strongest support thus far for the historical character of the book’. …. He writes:

 

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

 

The conclusion to be drawn is rather obvious:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Siegfried H. Horn concurs:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Daniel 13:1-4

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

“The Talmud says that this must be a euphemism, since wives,

not daughters, sleep in men’s “bosoms”.”

 

 

Following on my identification of the well-respected Jew in Babylon, Joakim, with the Jew, Mordecai, and his wife Susanna, with Esther, I find further Jewish testimony in favour of Mordecai as the husband of Queen Esther. Thus, for instance, professor B. Barry Levy has written (http://thetorah.com/what-was-esthers-relationship-to-mordechai/):

What was Esther’s Relationship
to Mordechai?

Biblical, Traditional, and Not-So-Traditional Interpretations

What was the biological relationship between Esther and Mordechai?  Were they cousins or uncle and niece? And was Mordechai Esther’s adoptive father or even her husband?

The Biblical Evidence: Cousins and Adoptive Father

The biblical text is straightforward (Esth 2:7):

אסתר ב:ז וַיְהִ֨י אֹמֵ֜ן אֶת־הֲדַסָּ֗ה הִ֤יא אֶסְתֵּר֙ בַּת־דֹּד֔וֹ כִּ֛י אֵ֥ין לָ֖הּ אָ֣ב וָאֵ֑ם וְהַנַּעֲרָ֤ה יְפַת־תֹּ֙אַר֙ וְטוֹבַ֣ת מַרְאֶ֔ה וּבְמ֤וֹת אָבִ֙יהָ֙ וְאִמָּ֔הּ לְקָחָ֧הּ מָרְדֳּכַ֛י ל֖וֹ לְבַֽת: Esther 2:7 He (=Mordechai) was foster father to Hadassah—that is, Esther—his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The maiden was shapely and beautiful; and when her father and mother died, Mordechai adopted her as his own daughter.

According to the Megillah, Esther is the daughter of Mordechai’s uncle, and thus, Esther and Mordechai are first cousins. When she was orphaned, Mordechai adopted her. Ostensibly, that should close the matter, but as almost anyone who has visited a school at Purim time (or has discussed the matter with his children or grandchildren) knows, it is not that simple.

Mordechai as Esther’s Husband

תנא משום רבי מאיר: אל תקרי לבת אלא לבית. A Tanna taught in the name of R. Meir: “Read not ‘for a daughter’ [le-bat], but ‘for a house’ [le-bayit].”
וכן הוא אומר ולרש אין כל כי אם כבשה אחת קטנה אשר קנה ויחיה ותגדל עמו ועם בניו יחדו מפתו תאכל ומכסו תשתה ובחיקו תשכב ותהי לו כבת. Similarly, it says: But the poor man had nothing save one little ewe lamb, which he had brought up and reared; and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own morsel, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.
משום דבחיקו תשכב הוות ליה (לבת) [כבת]? אלא (לבית) [כבית] – הכי נמי לבית. Because it lay in his bosom, was it like a daughter to him? Rather what it means is like a wife; so here, it means a wife.

The Talmud presents a two-step argument.

  1. The term bat is understood as bayyit, which often carries the meaning “wife” in rabbinic exegesis. In fact, a common word for “wife” in the Talmud’s Aramaic is “דביתהו,” meaning “of his house.” The second generation Amora Yossi ben Chalafta, actually sites this as “good practice” (Ruth Rabba, parasha 2):
א”ר יוסי בן חלפתא מימי לא קריתי לאשתי אשתי ולביתי ביתי אלא לאשתי ביתי ולביתי אשתי R. Yossi ben Chalfta said: “Never in my life have I referred to my wife as ‘my wife’ or my house as ‘my house.’ Rather, [I always refer to] my wife as ‘my house’ and my house as ‘my wife.’”
  1. To support this reading, the Talmud sites Nathan’s parable of the poor man with his pet sheep, which he allowed to sleep in his “bosom” and treated like a “daughter.” The Talmud says that this must be a euphemism, since wives, not daughters, sleep in men’s “bosoms.” Hence we see that the word בת can refer to a wife.

A Linguistic Buttressing of the Midrash
Rabbi Meir presents us with an al tiqre-style midrash, which substitutes one word for a similar-sounding biblical one.

True, the words bat and bayyit don’t sound all that alike, but it may be that a phonetic variant is at work undergirding this midrash.  Specifically, certain pieces of evidence point us to the probability that in many dialects of Hebrew (and Aramaic) the yod was actually pronounced more like the glottal stop (a slight throat click) of an aleph than as an English Y.

  • Biblical proper names beginning with the letter yod were often rendered in other languages as if they began with aleph, suggesting that that is how they were actually pronounced. A good example is Yisra’el, transcribed as Isra’el in Greek, Syriac, Arabic, and other languages.[2]
  • Ancient Samarian ostraca spell “wine” as ין, not יין, though the Greek cognate oinos may be evidence of the yod’s presence.[3]
  • In various targumim we also find third-person imperfect verb forms that are spelled with initial aleph, not the expected yod.[4]
  • Mishnah Baba Qama 1:1 states כל שחבתי בשמירתו… as opposed to כל שחייבתי. The Talmud (b. BQ 6a) suggests that the tanna was a Jerusalemite and therefore spoke with a clipped yod.[5]Mordechai as Esther’s UncleThe same interpretation appears in Jerome’s Latin translation (the Vulgate), which says that Esther was the daughter of Mordechai’s brother (filiae fratris) in 2:7 and similarly refers to Avichayil, Esther’s father, as Mordechai’s brother (Abiahil fratris Mardochei). The Vulgate is the standard biblical text used by Catholics, and thus in the Catholic tradition Esther is described as Mordechai’s niece. As Josephus has not had the same effect on popular culture as the Vulgate, it seems likely that the Jewish sources that describe Mordechai as Esther’s uncle may have been influenced by the Catholic version of the biblical text, though they are probably not aware of this.Nevertheless, when we comb through rabbinic texts, we can see that many medieval rabbis (even some Ashkenazim) made use of “non-traditional” sources,[9] including the Septuagint, the Peshitta, the Apocrypha, and, yes, even the Vulgate.And again, along similar lines (http://ohr.edu/ask_db/ask_main.php/306/Q5/)Dear Rabbi,
    The Book of Esther says, “And he adopted Haddasah, i.e., Esther…and when her mother and father died, Mordechai took her to him as a daughter.” (Esther 2)Literally, then, the verse is saying that he married her.So, it’s not hard to see how the Talmudic Sages saw in this verse support for the oral tradition that says Mordechai, Esther’s cousin, was also her husband.
  • Why does it use the term “daughter?” The terms “sister” and “daughter” are common expressions of endearment, as we see in other places in the Torah (e.g., Ruth 2:8, Shir Hashirim 4:9) and Talmud (e.g., Shabbat 13b). The idea is that a husband and wife should develop a loving and giving relationship as one naturally has with one’s child and sibling.
  • There are three apparent snags in this verse. First, since the verse says that Mordechai “adopted Haddasah,” why does it seem to repeat the fact that he “took her to him as a daughter?” Isn’t that the same thing? Second, there is no legal status of “adoptive parent” in Judaism; that is, you raise an orphan girl in your home, but you don’t “take her as a daughter.” Finally and most notably, “took her to him” is always used in the Torah to refer to marriage.
  • Dear Delores Elliott,
  • We are confused. Some Rabbis contend that Esther was Mordecai’s wife and if she was, that raises a lot of legal questions and yet in Holy Scriptures we cannot find anything except that she was raised by him and that she was like his daughter! Help! Am I missing something here? Thank you so much. We enjoy your answers and have been collecting them in a notebook to refer back to for answers.
  • Delores Elliott from Courtenay, British Columbia wrote:
  • [End of quote]
  • Conclusion: Influence of Outside Sources
    If in the case of Esther and Mordechai, the use of the Vulgate is unintentional (i.e., picked up unconsciously from the surrounding culture, perhaps as a consequence of the age disparity between them).
  • Now among the many who were gathered together, there was found in Babylon a girl who had lost both parents and was being brought up in the home of her uncle (θεῖος‎), his name being Mordechai (Antiquities of the Jews, 9:198).[8]
  • No traditional rabbinic text claims that Mordechai was Esther’s uncle, but the idea has both popular currency[7] and support in early texts. The earliest source for this may be Josephus, who writes:
  • Thus, bat and bayyit may have been phonetically equivalent to the authors of the midrash, perhaps even sounding identical. Thus, to a listener, Mordechai taking Esther le-bat could have carried either or both of these meanings.[6]

According to Rabbinic traditions, the two lustful elders who accused Susanna were the same persons as two wicked judges referred to and named by the prophet Jeremiah (29:21-23):

 

“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you in my name: ‘I will deliver them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will put them to death before your very eyes. Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: ‘May the Lord treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned in the fire.’ For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and in my name they have uttered lies—which I did not authorize. I know it and am a witness to it,’ declares the Lord”.

 

 

The colourful account of Susanna and the two elders is well summarised by Jennifer A. Glancy of the Jewish Women’s Archive: http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/susanna-apocrypha

 

Susanna: Apocrypha

 

The brief, self-contained story of Susanna appears in Greek but not Hebrew manuscripts of the Book of Daniel. Most modern editions of the Bible include it among the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books as Daniel 13. Although readers will respond to and remember most vividly Susanna and her predicament, the story’s conclusion emphasizes Daniel’s emergence as a young figure of wisdom. On account of this, some ancient Greek versions place the Book of Susanna before Daniel 1.

 

The text first introduces Joakim, a wealthy man living in the Babylonian diaspora (Greek for “scattered abroad,” Jews who lived outside Palestine after the Babylonian exile of 587 b.c.e.). Joakim, however, plays a minimal role in the unfolding of the story.

 

Mackey’s Comment: My earlier proposed identification of this Joakim with the great Mordecai:

 

Well-Respected Mordecai. Part Two: As Joakim, Husband of Susanna

 

https://www.academia.edu/23107025/Well-Respected_Mordecai._Part_Two_As_Joakim_Husband_of_Susanna

 

will serve to open up, as this series progresses, some intriguing new possibilities.

Glancy continues with her commentary:

 

Susanna’s introduction defines her in terms of her relationships to two men, as wife of Joakim and daughter of Hilkiah, and tells that she is beautiful and righteous and was trained “according to the law of Moses” by her parents (vv. 2–3).

 

Joakim’s house functions as a courthouse for the Jewish community. Two elders who serve there as judges separately develop lustful feelings toward Susanna, whom they spy walking in the garden when the house empties at midday for the community to go to their own homes for lunch (vv. 8–12). One day the two elders catch each other lingering behind in order to watch Susanna, and they conspire together to entrap her (vv. 13–14).

On a hot day Susanna decides to bathe in the garden (v. 15). She believes herself to be alone with her maids because the elders have concealed themselves (v. i6). When Susanna sends her maids away to bring ointments for her bath (vv. 17–18), the elders reveal themselves and try to coerce her into sexual relations. They say that, unless she lies with them, they will testify that she sent her maids away in order to be with a young lover (vv. 19–21). Susanna’s dilemma is this: to submit to the elders is to disobey the law of Moses, which she has been raised to follow, but to resist the elders is to invite the death penalty for adultery (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22). She articulates her decision, “I choose not to do it; I will fall into your hands, rather than sin in the sight of the Lord” (v. 23). Susanna cries aloud, and so do the elders (v. 24). Their shouting attracts members of the household (v. 26), specifically identified as “servants,” who, when they hear the elders’ story, are “very much ashamed, for nothing like this had ever been said about Susanna” (v. 27).

 

Susanna’s trial occurs on the following day at her home, described as “the house of her husband Joakim” (v. 28). Susanna comes before the two elders and the people, accompanied by her parents, her children, and other unspecified relatives—her husband is not mentioned (vv. 29–30). The lascivious elders ask that she be unveiled so that they may continue to look at her (v. 32). Those who weep with her weep at this disgrace (v. 33), which in Theodotion’s version amounts to an unveiling of Susanna’s face. (The NRSV follows Theodotion, an alternate Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.) In the Septuagint version, Susanna is stripped naked, in accordance with ritual Jewish law (Ezek 16:37–30; Hos 2:3–10). The elders proceed with their accusations (v. 34). They claim that they saw Susanna in the garden, embracing a young lover whose strength enabled him to elude them as they attempted to detain him; they further claim that Susanna has refused to cooperate in naming the lover (vv. 36–41a). Because of the credibility of the elders in the community, the assembly believes them and condemns Susanna to death (v. 41b).

 

No one offers testimony on Susanna’s behalf. She, however, turns to heaven for help, crying aloud to God that she is innocent (vv. 42–43). The text records, “The Lord heard her cry” (v. 44). Just as Susanna is being taken to her death, God stirs “the holy spirit of a young lad named Daniel” (v. 45). Announcing that he cannot be part of Susanna’s execution (v. 46), he asks the assembly for the right to cross-examine the elders (vv. 47–49). Before the reassembled court, Daniel separates the two elders and questions each about the location of the lovers’ intimacies. The first elder identifies a mastic tree (v. 54) as the site of the illicit coupling, and the second elder identifies an evergreen oak (v. 58). Daniel thus reveals their deceit and the innocence of Susanna, “a daughter of Judah,” a descendant of southern Judah (v. 57). The two elders are then sentenced to the fate they intended for their victim: death (v. 62).

[End of quote]

 

According to R. Charles, as cited at:

http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/S/susanna-the-history-of.html

 

… the first half of the story rests on a tradition regarding two elders (Ahab and Zedekiah) who seduced certain women by persuading them that they would thus become the mother of the Messiah. This tradition has its origin probably in Jer 29:21-23, where it is said that Yahweh would sorely punish Ahab and Zedekiah because they had “committed villany in Israel,” having “committed adultery with their neighbours’ wives” ….

 

On the basis of all of the above, we may be able to give names to Susanna’s ill-fated accusers:

 

Ahab and Zedekiah.

 

The German orientalist, Georg Heinrich August Ewald (d. 1875), had thought that the account of the two lustful elders who were infatuated with Susanna must have been inspired by a Babylonian tale involving the goddess of love and two old men.

 

 

 

Once again, however, this is a case of biblical historians and commentators presuming that a given biblical story was inevitably dependent upon a pagan myth (or myths) of a similar theme.

At http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/S/susanna-the-history-of.html we read

 

Ewald (Geschichte(3), IV, 386) believed that [the story of Susanna] was suggested by the Babylonian legend in which two old men are seduced by the goddess of love (compare Koran 2 96). ….

 

Looking at this Koran (Qur’ān) reference, 2:96, I find:

 

And you will surely find them the most greedy of people for life – [even] more than those who associate others with Allah . One of them wishes that he could be granted life a thousand years, but it would not remove him in the least from the [coming] punishment that he should be granted life. And Allah is Seeing of what they do.

 

Whilst I myself am unaware of the Babylonian legend to which Ewald referred, I would find it very intriguing if this Babylonian “goddess of love” was Ishtar herself – as I think she must have been.

 

My reason for saying this will become clear later, as I proceed to develop a wider identity for Susanna in a biblical context.

 

Commentators have picked up some striking likenesses between the story of Susanna

(in the Book of Daniel) and the drama surrounding Queen Esther.

 

 

G.J. Steyn, for instance, has discovered some “striking similarities” between, not only Susanna and Esther – of relevance to this present series – but also including the Jewish heroine, Judith. Here I take just two short portions from Steyn’s most insightful article (pp. 167-168) http://www.repository.up.ac.za/bitstream/handle/2263/8985/Steyn_Beautiful(2008).pdf?sequ

 

“BEAUTIFUL BUT TOUGH”.

A COMPARISON OF LXX ESTHER, JUDITH AND SUSANNA”

 

 

FEARLESS IN THE FACE OF DEATH

 

  • Esther requests that her people fast and pray three days and nights for her and then she will approach the king without being summoned by him – which is against the royal custom. If she then dies, she dies (4:16). Esther then uses her mightiest weapon, her beauty, as an instrument to save her people.

 

  • Judith took a similar decision as Esther by going voluntarily into the presence of the very man who seeks to destroy her people. She went forth, out of the city gates and down the mountain (10:9-10). Her beauty gave her entry past the soldiers (10:14, 19, 23), right into the tent of Holofernes, the chief captain of the Assyrian army (10:17, 20-21). She stays three days in the camp (12:7) and beheaded Holofernes the fourth night, passing again by the Assyrian soldiers.

 

  • Susanna knows very well that whatever her decision would be, she is destined to die (Sus 1:22). She “sighed” (… Sus 1:22) and “cried with a loud voice” (… Sus 1:24). She chose to turn down the advances of the two elders rather “than to sin in the sight of the Lord” (… Sus 1:23).

 

and:

 

TRUST IN GOD AND PRAYER

 

Esther approached God in her moments of fear and anxiety and expressed her trust in God. This becomes clear from the contents of her prayer in LXX Addition C (14:1-19): “… she prayed to the Lord God of Israel, and said: O my Lord, you alone are our King. Help me in desolation – not having a helper, but you. For my danger is in my hand (… 14:3-4); “You are righteous, O Lord!” (… 14:7); “O King of the gods and of all powers” (… 14:12).

 

Judith confesses her trust in the Lord when she spoke to the elders of the city … (Jud 8:20). Her trust in God surfaces again in her prayer … (Jud 9:7-8).

 

Susanna too, approached God in her moment of fear on her way to be executed. She prays to the “everlasting God” (… Sus 1:42) who knows all secrets and who knows the false witness that was borne against her (Sus 1:42-43).

 

Having previously (Part Four) touched briefly upon the similarities between the story of Susanna (in the Book of Daniel) and the drama narrated in the Book of Esther, I take matters a step further here, testing a possible identification of Susanna with Esther.

 

 

 

Those “striking similarities” between Susanna and Esther, previously noted, might lead one to consider whether there might even be an actual identification of person here as well.

I seem to find solid arguments for and against such a conclusion.

 

Joakim

 

The connecting link between the two dramas may be (if accurate) my identification of Joakim with the great Mordecai:

 

Well-Respected Mordecai. Part Two: As Joakim, Husband of Susanna

 

https://www.academia.edu/23107025/Well-Respected_Mordecai._Part_Two_As_Joakim_Husband_of_Susanna

 

Such a connection, however, would also raise some real queries with regard to Queen Esther.

She, generally considered to have been a

 

  1. beautiful (2:7)
  2. young
  3. virgin, (2:2)
  4. raised as a daughter by Mordecai (2:7), would now, all of a sudden, need to be significantly reconsidered as a, still

 

  1. beautiful, but
  2. not so young,
  3. married woman
  4. with kids (“her children”, 1:30 Sus. RSV).

 

Such an apparently unorthodox reconsideration of the famous biblical queen is not, however, without its support (at least regarding Esther’s marriage to Mordecai) in Aggadic tradition. According to, for instance, Tamar Meir’s article “Esther: Midrash and Aggadah”, this tradition “casts the Biblical narrative in a different light”: http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/esther-midrash-and-aggadah

 

The Babylonian tradition maintains that Esther was Mordecai’s wife. Esth. 2:7 states: “Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter [literally: took her le-vat],” which the midrash understands as: Mordecai took her le-bayit, that is, as a wife (BT Megillah loc. cit.). This exegesis casts the Biblical narrative in a different light. Esther was taken to the royal harem despite her being married, which further aggravated her sorry condition. This also leads to a different understanding of Mordecai’s involvement, as he walks about in the royal courtyard out of concern for his wife.

[End of quote]

 

There may have been some unusual situation here.

And there was indeed, according to an article, “Thematic irony in the story of Susanna”

http://www.hts.org.za/index.php/HTS/article/view/1255/3295

 

Ironic expressions in episode one (vv. 1−14)

 

This first episode consists of the introduction to Susanna (1−4), which includes the introduction of her family, her husband and the two elders (5−6), as well as the emergence of the conflict (7−14). In particular, it focuses on Susanna’s beauty and godliness on the one hand and the elders’ wickedness on the other hand. In this comparison lies the irony. The episode contains, as will be demonstrated shortly, remarkable ironic words, expressions and incidents. Most of these ironic utterances consist of the reversed use of social conventions.

The first ironic expression concerns the relationship between Susanna and her husband, expressed by the verb λαμβάνω [to take, to acquire] (cf. v. 2). There is no doubt that, in the context of the ancient Jewish patriarchal society, this verb portrays a marital relationship between husband and wife in terms of possessor and possession (Di Lella 1984:332−334, 1995:39; see also Liddell & Scott 1996:1026; Delling 2000:5; Bauer et al. 2000:583). In this environment, λαμβάνω would normally indicate the ascendancy of the husband over his wife and presupposes the insertion of the woman in her husband’s family (Fuller 2001:339) and not the contrary.

The use of λαμβάνω in this case, however, seems to contradict these established patriarchal practices.

In actual fact, the relationship between Susanna and her husband, as depicted in the story, does entail the prominence of the woman. Firstly, according to the story, Jewish identity is related to the practice of the Law of Moses, piety (Kanonge 2009a:381). It is strange that nothing is said about Joakim’s piety. Besides, Susanna has a genealogy, or at least her father is named, but Joakim’s father does not appear (Moore 1977:94). In Biblical traditions, ‘genealogies can express social status, political power, economic strength, legal standing, ownership …’ (Wilson 1979:19). To have no genealogy is to be less important in a community. It seems, from this story and specifically from verse 63, that Susanna is more important in the community than her husband. In fact, according to the abovementioned verse (63), she is not inserted in her husband’s family, but the contrary is assumed. According to Archer (Ilan 1993:55), women named after their father were either ‘divorced or widowed’. This is not the case here. Indeed, Susanna is being prioritised here at the expense of her husband. It is remarkable that the normal familial order, as accepted in patriarchal societies, is changed with the reading as follows: Σουσαννας μετὰ Ιωακιμ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς αὐτῆς [Susanna with Joakim her husband]. This order is unusual in patriarchal traditions where the husband is supposed to take the lead in everything. There is an overturned use of social conventions.

….

 

 

 

Susanna, living as she did during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews, would seem to have been far too early for her – according to conventional estimations – to be identifiable as Queen Esther, supposedly living deeply into Persian history.

 

 

 

 

My streamlined version of the Chaldean to Medo-Persian history, though, as outlined in this series and developed elsewhere, for example in:

 

Aligning Neo-Babylonia with Book of Daniel. Part Two: Merging late neo-Assyrians with Chaldeans

 

https://www.academia.edu/38330399/Aligning_Neo-Babylonia_with_Book_of_Daniel._Part_Two_Merging_late_neo-Assyrians_with_Chaldeans

 

and

 

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

 

https://www.academia.edu/40311215/If_King_Belshazzar_made_Daniel_3rd_who_was_2nd

 

has greatly shortened the chronological distance between king Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’ and the Medo-Persians, with Nebuchednezzar’s death occurring, now, only a handful of years before the emergence of Darius the Mede – he, in turn, being my choice for the Book of Esther’s great monarch:

 

King Ahasuerus

 

Darius the Mede was already an old man when he came to the throne (Daniel 5:31): “So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two”.

He, I have identified with king Cyrus. See e.g.:

 

Was Daniel Twice in the Lions’ Den?

 

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

 

Any consideration of the age of Queen Esther – which will be an issue in this present article – may need to factor in the age of the Great King whom she married.

Although historical chronology is no longer a major issue according to my revised context, the actual age of participants in the drama – the young Daniel, and lovely Susanna in connection with Queen Esther – will be. It has already been determined that Queen Esther, if she were also Susanna, would have been a married woman with children of her own, and, hence, not a virgin. That her husband was none other than Mordecai himself – which comes as quite a surprise – is borne out, though, as we have learned, by an Aggadic tradition.

 

Ages of Daniel, Susanna (and Esther)

 

Taking the Vulgate Latin version of the story of Susanna in the Book of Daniel, we find Daniel himself described as puer junior, which would appear to indicate an extremely young male, and which is translated as “young boy”. According to my Latin dictionary junior equates with juvenis. Though this description tends to indicate a male up to the age of 17, it is “frequently used of older persons … 20th – 40th year”.

 

That gives us a lot more leeway in the case of Daniel.

 

Say he was, as some estimate, 14-15 years of age when taken into captivity, his intervention in the case of Susanna could have occurred – in light of the above “20th-40th year” – as late as approximately the 25th year of Nebuchednezzar II.

Susanna, with children, must have been, say, 20 at the time, and, if so, about 38 at the death of Nebuchednezzar. By about the 3rd year of Ahasuerus (Esther 1:3), when she – if as Esther – was chosen, she would have been in her 40’s – likewise when married in the 7th year (2:16).

 

King Ahasuerus would have been, by then (his 7th year), nudging 70.

 

The Vulgate gives the females chosen for the king as (Esther 2:3) puellas speciosas et virgines.

The Septuagint Greek has, for the same verse, κοράσια (young women) άφθορα, which can mean “unblemished”. When Tamar (Themar) is called a “virgin” in the Greek II Kings 13:2, the word used is a different one, “parthenos” (παρθένος).

Esther herself is never directly referred to as a virgin. She is pulchra nimis et decora facie (“exceedingly beautiful and becoming”).

In Esther 2:7, “Esther [is] … quoque inter ceteras puellas”. The Latin word puella (singular) may indicate married or not.

And in Esther 2:9, the short-list is now septem puellas speciosissimas (“seven most beautiful women”).

The outstanding woman, Esther, had made an early impression (2:8-9):

 

Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.

 

Presumably eunuch Hegai’s action was prompt and ‘immediate’ because he had appreciated the true quality of Esther, and not because – as necessitated in the case of the woman who went to the plastic surgeon because she had a wrinkled face and crow’s feet (but came out with wrinkled feet and a crow’s face) – she had lost her looks. Women in their 40’s can still be beautiful.

 

Having accounted for the tricky matter of age, those similarities between the story of Susanna and the Book of Esther that we have already discussed – and those between Susanna and Esther – can now really kick in.

In both cases we encounter a beautiful and pious woman, a Jew (cf. Susanna 13:57; Esther 2:7), who had been taught the Law by her parents (cf. Susanna 13:3; Esther 14:5), who, as we read previously, trusted fully in the Lord, and was prepared to die rather than to compromise herself.

 

My conclusion in this series has been that the Susanna in Daniel became Queen Esther. But this conclusion now presents us with three names: Susanna, Hadassah and Esther, since, as we are informed (Esther 2:7): “… Hadassah … was also known as Esther”.

 

 

Making Sense of the Names

 

There are a stream of similarities running through the Story of Susanna and the Book of Esther.

The Story of Susanna commences (13:1):

 

“Now there was a man that dwelt in Babylon, and his name was Joakim …”.

 

Whilst, according to Esther 2:5:

 

Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai …”.

 

In this series I have identified, as one, this “Joakim” in Babylon with this “Mordecai” in Susa.

The Babylonian (Chaldean) era had come and gone and Joakim, now as Mordecai, lived under a Medo-Persian king, in Susa. The great man had two names, the one Hebrew, Joakim (i.e., Yehoyaqim,יְהוֹיָקִם , “raised by God”), and the other his given Babylonian name: “The Talmud (Menachot 64b and 65a) relates that his full name was “Mordechai Bilshan” (which occurs in Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 7:7). Hoschander interpreted this as the Babylonian marduk-bel-shunu meaning “Marduk is their lord”, “Mordecai” being thus a hypocorism”.

 

In the same way we can account for the name, “Esther”, the foreign name given to our heroine in Babylonian captivity (as in the Story of Susanna). The name is generally considered to derive from the Mesopotamian goddess (of fertility, love, war, sex and power), Ishtar, the same as the biblical Astarte. Previously, I had referred to Ewald’s view that the account of the two lustful elders, who accused Susanna, had its counterpart in a legend involving the Babylonian “goddess of love”, who I presumed to be Ishtar. Thus I wrote:

 

Whilst I myself am unaware of the Babylonian legend to which Ewald referred, I would find it very intriguing if this Babylonian “goddess of love” was Ishtar herself – as I think she must have been. My reason for saying this will become clear later in this series, as I proceed to develop a wider identity for Susanna in a biblical context.

 

My conclusion would be – unlike Ewald’s – that the Babylonian legend had derived from the Story of Susanna. And this Susanna, I have argued, became Queen Esther, whose name arose from the pagan “goddess of love”, Ishtar.

 

Regarding the name, “Hadassah”, at least one scholar, as I recall (though I no longer have the reference), had argued that it was simply a Hebrew version of Esther. I think that that might be stretching things, however. More likely, Hadassah was the woman’s Hebrew name, meaning “myrtle (tree, sprig)” – just as Mordecai had an original Hebrew name before his being given a Babylonian name as well.

 

That leaves us to account for the name “Susanna”, literally meaning “lilly”.

One is reluctant to suggest that the woman had two Hebrew names, Hadassah and Susanna.

A possibility, I think, is that Susanna might be a name added retrospectively, and referring to the fact that Hadassah-Esther had become, in the Medo-Persian period, the queen of Susa. Hence Susanna, “She-of-Susa”. Again a hypocorism.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan

Susan is a feminine given name, from French Susanne, from Late Latin Susanna, from Greek Sousanna, from Hebrew Šošanna, literally meaning “lily“,[1] a term derived from Susa (Persian: Šuš), a city in southwest Iran that was the ancient capital of the Elamite kingdom and Achaemenid empire.[2]

 

Perhaps further strengthening my identification of Susanna with Queen Esther (= Ishtar) may be the Babylonian “goddess of love” legend, reminiscent of the account of the two elders, and the possible reference, in the name, “Susanna”, to the capital city of Susa, where Esther reigned.

 

Did King Darius make up the story of Cambyses’s madness?

cambyses-6898

by

Damien F. Mackey

  

Dear Sir, I am reading your Nabonidus papers. Re: the madness of Cambyses, this is a story made up by Darius to justify his seizure of power from the sons of Cyrus. Cyrus would have known if Cambyses was prone to madness and would not have entrusted the throne to him. Cambyses was not mad; he did die from a wound; but not one self inflicted for having killed the Apis Bull. The Apis Bull died a natural death and was replaced. There was no “imposter” Bardiya. Darius killed the real Bardiya and made up the imposter and Cambyses madness stories to cover up his seizure of power. Herodotus was taken in, or otherwise induced to endorse the false propaganda. Yours ….

 

Damien Mackey’s response:

Or is it “Cambyses” as a Persian king that has been “made up”?

 

For, might not “Cambyses” actually be the mad King Nebuchednezzar himself?

After all, Cambyses had (as I have noted in articles) another name, “Nebuchednezzar”.

 

And Nebuchednezzar also smashed Egypt – particularly in his guise as Ashurbanipal (who had a burning fiery furnace). See e.g. my series:

“Nebuchednezzar Syndrome”: dreams, illness-madness, Egyptophobia. Part Two: Ashurbanipal; Nabonidus; Cambyses; Artaxerxes III

most relevant, in this case, being Part Two:

https://www.academia.edu/37512120/_Nebuchednezzar_Syndrome_dreams_illness-madness_Egyptophobia._Part_Two_Ashurbanipal_Nabonidus_Cambyses_Artaxerxes_III

And his death also occurred apparently soon after he was in Egypt.

 

And he, too, was highly superstitious and pious.

And he, too, messed around with the traditional rites.

 

And I have also suggested that the Udjahorresne who had assisted Cambyses in Egypt was the very same individual as Tirhakah’s son and heir, Ushanahuru:

 

Cambyses mentored in Egypt by Udjahorresne. Part Two: Meeting and identifying Udjahorresne

 https://www.academia.edu/38348442/Cambyses_mentored_in_Egypt_by_Udjahorresne._Part_Two_Meeting_and_identifying_Udjahorresne

Tirhakah being, of course, a contemporary of Ashurbanipal (= Nebuchednezzar).

 

My best regards,

Damien.

 

Marduk event during the reign of Esarhaddon now thought to have occurred well back in his past

Image result for statue marduk

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

It is highly embarrassing if, as according to my revision, an incident pertaining to Marduk,

that had occurred during the reign of Nebuchednezzar I (d. 1100 BC, conventional dating),

and thought to have been faithfully imitated by Esarhaddon (c. 680 BC, conventional dating),

approximately four centuries later, was, in fact, the one and very same Marduk incident.

  

 

The potent – but at times hopelessly ill and paranoid – king, Esarhaddon, whom I have identified with Nebuchednezzar so-called II:

 

Esarhaddon a tolerable fit for King Nebuchednezzar

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

“As we know from the correspondence left by the roya1 physicians and exorcists …

[Esarhaddon’s] 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. …”.

Karen Radner

 

but also with his namesake Nebuchednezzar I:

 

Esarhaddon a tolerable fit for King Nebuchednezzar. Part Three: ‘The Marduk Prophecy’

https://www.academia.edu/39725289/Esarhaddon_a_tolerable_fit_for_King_Nebuchednezzar._Part_Three_The_Marduk_Prophecy_

had orchestrated the return of the god Marduk into Babylon in a ritual fashion that was uncannily similar to the procedure followed by Nebuchednezzar I, supposedly long ago in Esarhaddon’s past. We can get a good sense of this from John P. Nielsen’s account of the event in The Reign of Nebuchadnezzar I in History and Historical Memory – the author, though, following the conventional view that Esarhaddon was significantly later in time:

 

For those familiar with the traditions surrounding Marduk communicated in the Marduk Prophecy, the god’s entry into Babylon with Šamaš-šumaukīn in 668 and the rejoicing of the crowds along the processional way that led to Esagil would have been understood as reassuringly consistent with what was believed to have occurred in the past [sic]. Esarhaddon undoubtedly intended such a reception for either himself or his son [sic] when he began laying the groundwork for Marduk’s return. However, it is only certain that the scholarly elite at the city knew of the tradition that held that Marduk had departed and returned to Babylon as far back in the past [sic] as the early Kassite Dynasty. Presumably there would have been among their numbers assembled that day men who has engaged in the discourse that had shaped Esarhaddon’s plans to return Marduk.

 

What is not known is how aware the common citizens of Babylon who witnessed the procession were of the traditions surrounding Marduk and the longdeceased [sic] kings such as Nebuchadnezzar I who had once led Marduk back into the city. However, given the shared aims of Esarhaddon and the Babylonian elite, it is possible to speculate on why and how some aspects of the Marduk tradition, including Nebuchadnezzar I’s part in that tradition, could have been communicated to the populace.

by collaborating with Esarhaddon’s wishes to have Babylon rebuilt and Šamaš-šumaukīn installed as king, members of the Babylonian elite may have been viewed with resentment as Assyrian collaborators by factions opposed to Assyrian rule. …. For these reasons, it would also have been in the interest of Esarhaddon and pro-Esarhaddon Babylonians to present the coronation and return of Marduk as consistent with precedents from Babylon’s past. ….

 

Further linking Esarhaddon, Ashurbanipal

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

  “… there is a clear parallel between the Inscription of Esarhaddon and a text of Assurbanipal [who] … says that he has brought the peoples that live in the sea and those that inhabit the high mountains under his yoke, and this reference, as we understand it, is very like Esarhaddon’s text, since it is also “a general summary”.”

Arcadio Del Castillo and Julia Montenegro

 

Why this particularly interests me is due to my identification of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal as one and the same king, as well as being alter egos of the mighty Nebuchednezzar:

 

Aligning Neo-Babylonia with Book of Daniel. Part Two: Merging late neo-Assyrians with Chaldeans

 https://www.academia.edu/38330399/Aligning_Neo-Babylonia_with_Book_of_Daniel._Part_Two_Merging_late_neo-Assyrians_with_Chaldeans

Arcadio Del Castillo and Julia Montenegro have made a valiant effort to identify the elusive biblical “Tarshish” in their article:

 

THE LOCATION OF TARSHISH: CRITICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Revue Biblique, 123, 2016, pp. 239-268

https://www.academia.edu/35529906/THE_LOCATION_OF_TARSHISH_CRITICAL_CONSIDERATIONS?auto=download

 

But what struck me when reading through this article is yet another case of, as it seems to me, a ‘historical’ duplication, Ashurbanipal claiming what Esarhaddon claimed.

Writing of the neo-Assyrian sailing efforts, the authors tell as follows (pp. 252-254):

 

… the only record we have of them sailing the Mediterranean is when Sargon II gained control of Cyprus, which was further secured by his successors, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Assurbanipal, 668-627 BC….

 

My comment: As Esarhaddon, Ashurbanipal, is just the one king according to my article above, so, too, with:

Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib

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

The authors continue:

 

Of course, the text of the Assyrian Inscription of Esarhaddon defines the extent of the Assyrian king’s domain, in maritime terms, from one area in the direction of the other, but we believe its extent would have been within maritime limits of the Assyrian Empire itself, in which case Tarshish would very probably have been in the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean. Thus, the text is perfectly consistent with King Solomon’s policy of procuring the products he needed in the regions to the South and East of his kingdom, which in Antiquity formed a vast emporium of all kinds of luxury goods; and since these regions had to be reached by sea, Solomon ordered a fleet to be built in Ezion-geber on the Gulf of Akaba with ships of Tarshish, for which he sought the aid of Hiram I of Tyre, who sent his men, the unrivalled seafarers of Antiquity, because the Israelites had not, until then, had any contact with the sea. It is difficult to imagine the Phoenicians helping Solomon reach places with which he had no contact using routes only known to themselves, such as the Far West; however, helping him reach destinations nearer home by routes that were generally known does seem reasonable. What is conclusive is the fact that in Esarhaddon’s Inscription the reference to the kings of the middle of the sea comes after enumerating his conquests, which are listed as: Sidon … Arza … Bazu … Tilmun … Shubria … Tyre … Egypt and Pathros … and Kush.

 

And, since Bazu seems to be situated in the northwest of Arabia and Tilmun on the Persian Gulf, very possibly Bahrain … what seems more logical is to assume that it is a delimitation in both seas of the cosmic ocean, this is the Upper Sea and the Lower Sea. So it would be a broad area that extended beyond the Mediterranean; and reference is made to it just before saying that the Assyrian king had established his power over the kings of the four regions of the Earth … which is an obvious parallel with the part of the text studied in reference to his maritime empire.

 

What can of course be readily accepted, as we have said, is that there is a clear parallel between the Inscription of Esarhaddon and a text of Assurbanipal, which is inscribed on Prism B: after stating that he ruled from the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea and that the kings of the rising sun and the setting sun brought him heavy tribute, Assurbanipal says that he has brought the peoples that live in the sea and those that inhabit the high mountains under his yoke … and this reference, as we understand it, is very like Esarhaddon’s text, since it is also “a general summary”. And in this case, everything appears to indicate that the peoples referred to were to be found in both seas. Esarhaddon’s text defines the maritime dominion of the Assyrian king from one area to another, but of course it must fall within the actual maritime limits of the Assyrian Empire itself, so its boundary cannot be defined in the Far West, since we would soon leave the area under Assyrian rule. Therefore Tarshish would very probably be on the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean ….

[End of quote]

 

Meeting of the wise – Arioch and Daniel

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

  

Part One:

Refreshing our minds about Ahikar

  

Tobit tells us that this Ahikar was the son of his brother Anael (Tobit 1:21, 22, CEB).

 

Previously I have written about this fascinating character of Bible and legend:

 

Ahikar’s Importance

 

Biblical scholars could well benefit from knowing more about AHIKAR (or Ahiqar/Akhikar), the Rabshakeh of Sennacherib, Great King of Assyria (c. 700 BC, conventional dating), and who was retained in power by Esarhaddon (Gk. Sacherdonos) (Tobit 1:22).

 

This Ahikar … was a vitally important eye-witness to some of the most extraordinary events of Old Testament history.

Ahikar was, at the very least …:

 

  1. a key link between the Book of Judith and those other books, Kings, Chronicles and Isaiah [KCI] that describe Sennacherib’s rise to prominence and highly successful first major invasion of Israel (historically his 3rd campaign), and then
  2. Sennacherib’s second major invasion of Israel and subsequent disastrous defeat there; and he was
  3. an eyewitness in the east, as Tobit’s own nephew, to neo-Assyrian events as narrated in the Book of Tobit.

 

May I, then (based on my research into historical revision), sketch Ahikar’s astounding life by knitting together the various threads about him that one may glean from KCI, Tobit, Judith, secular history and legends. I shall be using for him the better known name of Ahikar, even though I find him named in the Book of Judith (and also in the Vulgate version of Tobit) as Achior, presumably, “son of light” (and as Achiacharus in the Septuagint).

 

Here is Ahikar:

 

His Israelite Beginnings

 

Tobit tells us that this Ahikar was the son of his brother Anael (Tobit 1:21, 22, CEB):

 

Within forty days Sennacherib was killed by two of his sons, who escaped to the mountains of Ararat. His son Esarhaddon became king in his place. He hired Ahikar, my brother Hanael’s son, to be in charge of all the financial accounts of his kingdom and all the king’s treasury records.

Ahikar petitioned the king on my behalf, and I returned to Nineveh. Ahikar had been the chief officer, the keeper of the ring with the royal seal, the auditor of accounts, and the keeper of financial records under Assyria’s King Sennacherib. And Esarhaddon promoted him to be second in charge after himself. Ahikar was my nephew and one of my family.

 

Ahikar, nephew of Tobit, was therefore the cousin of the latter’s son, Tobias, whom I have identified, in his mature age, as the holy Job. See my article:

 

Job’s Life and Times

 

http://www.academia.edu/3787850/Jobs_Life_and_Times

 

Presumably then Ahikar had, just like Tobit and his son, Tobias, belonged to the tribe of Naphthali (cf. Tobit 1:1); though he was possibly, unlike the Tobiads, amongst the majority of his clan who had gone over to Baal worship.

Ahikar may thus initially have been a scoffer (1:4) and a blasphemer.

Tobit tells us about his tribe’s apostasy (1:4-5):

 

When I was young, I lived in northern Israel. All the tribes in Israel were supposed to offer sacrifices in Jerusalem. It was the one city that God had chosen from among all the Israelite cities as the place where his Temple was to be built for his holy and eternal home. But my entire tribe of Naphtali rejected the city of Jerusalem and the kings descended from David. Like everyone else in this tribe, my own family used to go to the city of Dan in the mountains of northern Galilee to offer sacrifices to the gold bull-calf which King Jeroboam of Israel had set up there.

 

This was still the unfortunate situation during the early reign of the great king Hezekiah of Judah (2 Chronicles 30: 1, 10): “And Hezekiah sent letters to all Israel and Judah … to come to Jerusalem … and keep the Passover …. So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim … but they laughed them to scorn …”.

 

Whilst Tobit and his family, and Ahikar’s presumably also, were taken into captivity during the reign of “King Shalmaneser” [V] (Tobit 1:2), the northern kingdom of Samaria went later. Samaria, due to her apostasy, was taken captive in 722 BC (conventional dating) by Sargon II of Assyria, whom I have actually equated with Sennacherib:

 

Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib

 

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

 

As Sennacherib’s Cupbearer-in-Chief (Rabshakeh)

 

Ahikar’s rapid rise to high office in the kingdom of Assyria may have been due in part to the prestige that his uncle had enjoyed there; because Tobit tells us that he himself was, for the duration of the reign of “Shalmaneser … the king’s purveyor”, even entrusted with large sums of money (1:14): “And I [Tobit] went into Media, and left in trust with Gabael, the brother of Gabrias, at Rages a city of Media ten talents of silver”. …. This is apparently something like $1.2 million dollars!

http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/1205.htm

 

….

Sennacherib’s description of his official, Bel-ibni, who he said had “grown up in my palace like a young puppy” [as quoted by G. Roux, Iraq, p. 321], may have been equally applicable to Ahikar. The highly talented Ahikar, rising quickly through the ranks, attained to Rabshakeh (thought [by some] to equate to Cup-bearer or Vizier).

 

Whatever the exact circumstances of Ahikar’s worldly success, the young man seems to have enjoyed a rise to power quite as speedy as that later on experienced by the prophet Daniel in Babylon; the latter trusting wholeheartedly in his God, whereas Ahikar may possibly have, at first, depended upon his own powers. {Though Tobit put in a good word for his nephew when he recalled that “Ahikar gave alms” (14:10), that being his salvation}.

 

Merodach-baladan, the wily survivor during the first half of Sennacherib’s reign, was the latter’s foe, Arphaxad, of the Book of Judith, defeated by Sennacherib (there called Nebuchadnezzar) – this incident occurring next, as I have argued, after Sennacherib’s successful 3rd campaign, the one involving king Hezekiah of Judah.

Thus we read in Judith 1:1, 5-6:

 

While King Nebuchadnezzar was ruling over the Assyrians from his capital city of Nineveh, King Arphaxad ruled over the Medes [sic] ….

In the twelfth year of his reign King Nebuchadnezzar went to war against King Arphaxad in the large plain around the city of Rages. Many nations joined forces with King Arphaxad—all the people who lived in the mountains, those who lived along the Tigris, Euphrates, and Hydaspes rivers, as well as those who lived in the plain ruled by King Arioch of Elam. Many nations joined this Chelodite [Chaldean] alliance.

 

Whilst “King Arioch” mentioned here will be discussed later, I have explained the use of the name ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ for Sennacherib in the Book of Judith in my article:

 

Book of Judith: confusion of names

 

https://www.academia.edu/36599434/Book_of_Judith_confusion_of_names

 

Sennacherib’s Third campaign

 

Biblically, we get our first glimpse of Ahikar in action, I believe, as the very vocal Rabshakeh of KCI, the mouthpiece of Sennacherib himself when the Assyrian army mounted its first major assault upon the kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 18:13): “In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them”.

Now, it would make perfect sense that the king of Assyria would have chosen from amongst his elite officials, to address the Jews, one of Israelite tongue (vv. 17-18):

 

And the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they arrived, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway to the Fuller’s Field. And when they called for the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder.

 

And these are the bold words that Rabshakeh had apparently been ordered to say to the Jews (vv. 19-25):

 

And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? Behold, you are trusting now in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. But if you say to me, “We trust in the Lord our God,” is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem”? Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master’s servants, when you trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? Moreover, is it without the Lord that I have come up against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it’. ….

 

King Hezekiah’s officials, however, who did not want the people on the walls to hear these disheartening words, pleaded with Rabshakeh as follows (v. 26): “Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah, and Joah, said to the Rabshakeh, ‘Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are on the wall’.”

 

Could the fact that the Jewish officials knew that Sennacherib’s officer was conversant with the Aramaïc language indicate that Ahikar, of whom they must have known, was of northern – and perhaps Transjordanian (like Tobit and Tobias) – origin?

 

Now Ahikar, who as said above is named ‘Achior’ in the Vulgate version of Tobit, I have identified as the important Achior of the Book of Judith in Volume Two of my post-graduate thesis. So it was rather intriguing to discover, in regard to the Rabshakeh’s famous speech, that B. Childs (Isaiah and the Assyrian Crisis) had discerned some similarity between it and the speech of Achior in the Book of Judith. I wrote on this in my thesis (Vol. 2, p. 8):

 

… Childs – who has subjected the Rabshakeh’s speech to a searching form-critical analysis, also identifying its true Near Eastern genre – has considered it as well in relation to an aspect of the speech of … Achior [to be identified with] this Rabshakeh in Chapter 2, e.g. pp. 46-47) to Holofernes (Judith 5:20f.). ….

 

A legend had been born, Ahikar the Rabshakeh!

The Israelite captive had proven himself to have been a most loyal servant of Sennacherib’s during the latter’s highly successful 3rd campaign, playing his assigned rôle to perfection.

 

Sennacherib, upon his return to the east, quickly turned his sights upon the troublesome Merodach-baladan.

And it is at this point in history that the Book of Judith opens.

After the defeat of Merodach-baladan, the aforementioned ‘young puppy’, Bel-ibni, was made sub-king of Babylon in his stead.

 

 

The Vizier (Ummânu)

 

With what I think is a necessary merging of the C12th BC king of Babylon, Nebuchednezzar I, with the potent king of neo-Assyria, Esarhaddon (or Nebuchednezzar ‘the Great’), we encounter during the reign of ‘each’ a vizier of such fame that he was to be remembered for centuries to come.

It is now reasonable to assume that this is one and the same vizier.

I refer, in the case of Nebuchednezzar I, to the following celebrated vizier [the following taken from J. Brinkman’s A Political History of Post-Kassite Babylonia. 1158-722 B.C. Roma (Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1968, pp. 114-115]:

 

… during these years in Babylonia a notable literary revival took place …. It is likely that this burst of creative activity sprang from the desire to glorify fittingly the spectacular achievements of Nebuchednezzar I and to enshrine his memorable deeds in lasting words. These same deeds were also to provide inspiration for later poets who sang the glories of the era …. The scribes of Nebuchednezzar’s day, reasonably competent in both Akkadian and Sumerian…, produced works of an astonishing vigor, even though these may have lacked the polish of a more sophisticated society. The name Esagil-kini-ubba, ummânu or “royal secretary” during the reign of Nebuchednezzar I, was preserved in Babylonian memory for almost one thousand years – as late as the year 147 of the Seleucid Era (= 165 B.C.)….

 

To which Brinkman adds the footnote [n. 641]: “Note … that Esagil-kini-ubba served as ummânu also under Adad-apla-iddina and, therefore, his career extended over at least thirty-five years”.

 

So perhaps we can consider that our wise sage was, for a time, shared by both Assyria and Babylon.

 

Those seeking the historical Ahikar tend to come up with one Aba-enlil-dari, this description of him taken from:

http://www.aakkl.helsinki.fi/melammu/database/gen_html/a0000639.php:

 

The story of Ahiqar is set into the court of seventh century Assyrian kings Sennacherib and Esarhaddon. The hero has the Akkadian name Ahī-(w)aqar “My brother is dear”, but it is not clear if the story has any historical foundation. The latest entry in a Seleucid list of Seven Sages says: “In the days of Esarhaddon the sage was Aba-enlil-dari, whom the Aramaeans call Ahu-uqar” which at least indicates that the story of Ahiqar was well known in the Seleucid Babylonia.

 

Seleucid Babylonia is, of course, much later removed in time from our sources for Ahikar. And, as famous as may have been the scribe Esagil-kini-ubba – whether or not he were also Ahikar – even better known is this Ahikar (at least by that name), a character of both legend and of (as I believe) real history.

Regarding Ahikar’s tremendous popularity even down through the centuries, we read [The Jerome Biblical Commentary, New Jersey (Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968), 28:28]:

 

The story of Ahikar is one of the most phenomenal in the ancient world in that it has become part of many different literatures and has been preserved in several different languages: Syriac, Arabic, Armenian, Greek, Slavonic, and Old Turkish. The most ancient recension is the Aramaic, found amongst the famous 5th-cent. BC papyri that were discovered at the beginning of the 20th cent. on Elephantine Island in the Nile. The story worked its way into the Arabian nights and the Koran; it influenced Aesop, the Church Fathers as well as Greek philosophers, and the Old Testament itself.

 

Whilst Ahikar’s wisdom and fame has spread far and wide, the original Ahikar, whom I am trying to uncover in this article, has been elusive for some. Thus J. Greenfield has written (http://ebooks.cambridge.org/chapter.jsf?bid=CBO9780511520662&cid=CBO9780511520662A012):

 

The figure of Ahiqar has remained a source of interest to scholars in a variety of fields. The search for the real Ahiqar, the acclaimed wise scribe who served as chief counsellor to Sennacherib and Esarhaddon, was a scholarly preoccupation for many years. He had a sort of independent existence since he was known from a series of texts – the earliest being the Aramaic text from Elephantine, followed by the book of Tobit, known from the Apocrypha, and the later Syriac, Armenian and Arabic texts of Ahiqar. An actual royal counsellor and high court official who had been removed from his position and later returned to it remains unknown. E. Reiner found the theme of the ‘disgrace and rehabilitation of a minister’ combined with that of the ‘ungrateful nephew’ in the ‘Bilingual Proverbs’, and saw this as a sort of parallel to the Ahiqar story. She also emphasized that in Mesopotamia the ummânu was not only a learned man or craftsman but was also a high official. At the time that Reiner noted the existence of this theme in Babylonian wisdom literature, Ahiqar achieved a degree of reality with the discovery in Uruk, in the excavations of winter 1959/60, of a Late Babylonian tablet (W20030,7) dated to the 147th year of the Seleucid era (= 165 BCE). This tablet contains a list of antediluvian kings and their sages (apkallû) and postdiluvian kings and their scholars (ummânu). The postdiluvian kings run from Gilgamesh to Esarhaddon.

 

As a Ruling ‘King’ (or Governor)

 

The Elamite Connection

 

Chapter 1 of the Book of Tobit appears to be a general summary of Tobit’s experiences during the reigns of a succession of Assyrian kings: Shalmaneser, Sennacherib and Esarhaddon.

I, in my thesis and subsequent writings, may have misread some of the chronology of the life of Tobit, whose blindness, as recorded in Chapter 2, I had presumed to have occurred after the murder of Sennacherib.

I now think that it occurred well before that.

Ahikar will assist Tobit in his miserable state (“Ahikar gave alms”, 14:10), for two years, before his appointment as ruler of Elam. Here is Tobit’s account of it (2:10-11):

 

For four years I could see nothing. My relatives were deeply concerned about my condition, and Ahikar supported me for two years before he went to the land of Elam. After Ahikar left, my wife Anna had to go to work, so she took up weaving, like many other women.

 

Another thing that probably needs to be re-considered now, in light of my revised view of the chronology of Tobit, concerns the previously mentioned “King Arioch” as referred to in Judith 1:6: “Many nations joined forces with King Arphaxad … as well as those who lived in the plain ruled by King Arioch of Elam”. Arioch in Elam I had (rightly I think) identified in my thesis, again, as Achior (Ahikar) who went to Elam. But, due to my then mis-reading of Tobit, I had had to consider the mention of Arioch in Judith 1:6 as a post-Sennacherib gloss, added later as a geographical pointer, thinking that our hero had gone to Elam only after Sennacherib’s death. And so I wrote in my thesis (Vol. II, pp. 46-47):

 

I disagree with Charles [The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament] that: “The name Arioch is borrowed from Gen. xiv. i, in accordance with the author’s love of archaism”. This piece of information, I am going to argue here, is actually a later gloss to the original text. And I hope to give a specific identification to this king, since, according to Leahy [‘Judith’]: “The identity of Arioch (Vg Erioch) has not been established …”.

 

What I am going to propose is that Arioch was not actually one of those who had rallied to the cause of Arphaxad in Year 12 of Nebuchadnezzar, as a superficial reading of [Book of Judith] might suggest, but that this was a later addition to the text for the purpose of making more precise for the reader the geographical region from whence came Arphaxad’s allies, specifically the Elamite troops.

In other words, this was the very same region as that which Arioch had ruled; though at a later time, as I am going to explain.

 

Commentators express puzzlement about him. Who was this Arioch?

And if he were such an unknown, then what was the value of this gloss for the early readers?

 

Arioch was, I believe, the very Achior who figures so prominently in the story of Judith.

He was also the legendary Ahikar, a most famous character as we have already read.

Therefore he was entirely familiar to the Jews, who would have known that he had eventually governed the Assyrian province of Elam.

Some later editor/translator presumably, apparently failing to realise that the person named in this gloss was the very same as the Achior who figures so prominently throughout the main story of [Judith], has confused matters by calling him by the different name of Arioch. He should have written: “Achior ruled the Elymeans”.

From there it is an easy matter to make this comparison:

 

“Achior … Elymeans” [Judith]; “Ahikar (var. Achior) … Elymaïs” [Tobit].

 

Suffice it to say here that this ubiquitous personage, Ahikar/Achior, would have been the eyewitness extraordinaire to the detailed plans and preparations regarding the eastern war between the Assyrians and the Chaldean coalition as described in Judith 1.

 

 

 

 

 

Part Two:

Merging Judith’s ‘Arioch’ with Daniel’s ‘Arioch’

 

 

Some later editor/translator … apparently failing to realise that the person [“Arioch”] named in this gloss [Judith 1:6] was the very same as the Achior who figures so prominently throughout the main story of [Judith], has confused matters by calling him by the different name of Arioch. He should have written: “Achior ruled the Elymeans”.

 

 

With my revised shunting of the neo-Assyrian era into the neo-Babylonian one, and with an important official, “Arioch”, emerging early in the Book of Daniel, early in the reign of “Nebuchednezzar”, then the possibility arises that he is the same as the “Arioch” of Judith 1:6.

In Part One I multi-identified the famous Ahikar (var. Achior), nephew of Tobit, a Naphtalian Israelite, with Sennacherib’s Rabshakeh; with the Achior of the Book of Judith; and with a few other suggestions thrown in.

Finally, my identification of Ahikar (Achior) also with the governor (for Assyria) of the land of Elam, named as “Arioch” in Judith 1:6, enabled me to write this very neat equation:   

 

“Achior … Elymeans” [Judith]; “Ahikar (var. Achior) … Elymaïs” [Tobit].

 

 

Arioch in Daniel

 

Arioch is met in Daniel 2, in the highly dramatic context of king Nebuchednezzar’s Dream, in which Arioch is a high official serving the king. The erratic king has firmly determined to get rid of all of his wise men (2:13): “So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death”.

And the king has entrusted the task to this Arioch, variously entitled “marshal”; “provost-marshal”; “captain of the king’s guard”; “chief of the king’s executioners” (2:14): When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact”.

 

This is the customary way that the wise and prudent Daniel will operate.

 

Daniel 2 continues (v. 15): “[Daniel] asked the king’s officer [Arioch], ‘Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?’ Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel”.

Our young Daniel does not lack a certain degree of “chutzpah”, firstly boldly approaching the king’s high official (the fact that Arioch does not arrest Daniel on the spot may be testimony to both the young man’s presence and also Arioch’s favouring the Jews since the Judith incident), and then (even though he was now aware of the dire decree) marching off to confront the terrible king (v. 16): “At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him”.

 

Later, Daniel, having had revealed to him the details and interpretation of the king’s Dream, will re-acquaint himself with Arioch (v. 24):

“Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, ‘Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him’.”

Naturally, Arioch was quick to respond – no doubt to appease the enraged king, but perhaps also for the sake of Daniel and the wise men (v. 25): “Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, ‘I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means’.”

 

Part Three:

Ahikar and Daniel Comparisons

 

 

“There are also some curious linguistic parallels between Ahikar and Daniel”

 

 

 

Books and articles abound comparing Ahikar and Daniel.

 

For instance, there is George A. Barton’s “The Story of Aḥiḳar and the Book of Daniel” (The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. 16, No. 4, 1900, pp 242-247):

 

Aḥiḳar, a vizier of Sennacherib, was possessed of wealth, wisdom, popularity, and ….

 

Lastly the description of Aḥiḳar with his nails grown like eagles’ talons and his hair matted like a wild beast … not only reminds one strongly of the of the description of the hair and nails of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4.30), but appears, as Harris has shown … in a more original form [sic] than in the book of Daniel. He further points out that the fact that in Aḥiḳar’s description of the wise men “Chaldeans” had not yet become a technical term for a sage, as it has in Daniel, is a further argument for the priority of Aḥiḳar.

All these points the acute critic of Aḥiḳar has admirably taken; but one wonders why he did not go on a step farther; for when we come to the more fundamental parallels between plots and methods of treatment, the story of Aḥiḳar becomes even more vitally interesting to the student of Daniel than before.

The first of these points to be noted is that Daniel was a wise man, like Aḥiḳar, excelling all others in wisdom, and, like him, vizier to his sovereign, whoever that sovereign might be. Granting the priority of Aḥiḳar, is there not a sign of dependence here?

The story of Aḥiḳar’s fall from the pinnacle of power, his unjust incarceration in a pit … his deliverance, and the imprisonment of his accuser in the same pit, is exactly the same as Daniel’s fall from like power, his imprisonment in the lions’ den, his deliverance, and the casting of his accusers to the lions ….

[End of quote]

 

Vol. 16, No. 4 (Jul., 1900), pp. 242-247 (6 pages)

 

  1. C. Conybeare et al. provide more such comparisons in “The Story of Ahikar”:

https://archive.org/stream/HarrisConybeareLewis1913TheStoryOfAhikar…/Harris%2C%20Conybeare%2C%20%26%20Lewis%201913_The%20Story%20of%20Ahikar…_djvu.txt

 

We turn now to a book which appears to belong to the same time and to the same region as Ahikar, in search of more exact coincidences.

We refer to the book of Daniel.

 

First of all there are a good many expressions describing Assyrian life, which appear also in Daniel and may be a part of the stock-in-trade of an Eastern story-teller in ancient times. I mean such expressions as, ‘0 king, live for ever! 5 ‘I clad him in byssus and purple \ and a gold collar did I bind around his neck/ (Armenian, p. 25, cf. Dan. v. 16.)

More exact likeness of speech will be found in the following sentence from the Arabic version, in which Ahikar is warned by the ‘ magicians, astrologers and sooth-sayers ‘ that he will have no child. Something of the same kind occurs in the Arabic text, when the king of Egypt sends his threatening letter to the king of Assyria, and the latter gathers together his ‘ nobles, philosophers, and wise men, and astrologers/

The Slavonic drops all this and says, ‘It was revealed to me by God, no child will be born of thee/ ‘ He caused all the wise men to be gathered together/ In the Armenian it is, ‘there was a voice from the gods 5 ; ‘ he sent and mustered the satraps/ The language, however, in the Arabic recalls certain expressions in Daniel : e.g.

 

Dan. ii. 2. c The king sent to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans/

 

So in Dan. ii. 27 : in Dan. v. 7, ( astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers/ &c.

 

It will be seen that the expressions in Daniel are closely parallel to those in the Arabic Ahikar.

 

Again, when the king of Assyria is in perplexity as to what he shall answer to the king of Egypt, he demands advice from Nadan who has succeeded to his uncle’s place in the kingdom.

Nadan ridicules the demands of the Pharaoh. ‘Build a castle in the air ! The gods themselves cannot do this, let alone men!’

We naturally compare the reply of the consulted Chaldeans in Daniel ii. 11, ‘There is no one who can answer the matter before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh/

 

When Ahikar is brought out of his hiding-place and presented to the king, we are told that his hair had grown very long and reached his shoulders, while his beard had grown to his breast.

‘My nails/ he says, ‘were like the claws of eagles and my body had become withered and shapeless/

 

We compare the account of Nebuchadnezzar, after he had been driven from amongst men (see iv. 30); 1 until his hairs were grown like eagles’ [feathers] and his nails like birds’ [claws].’

 

The parallelism between these passages is tolerably certain; and the text in Ahikar is better [sic] than that of Daniel. The growth of the nails must be expressed in terms of eagles’ talons, and not of the claws of little birds: and the hair ought to be compared with wild beasts, as is the case in some of the Ahikar versions.

 

There are also some curious linguistic parallels between Ahikar and Daniel ….

 

It seems, then, to be highly probable that one of the writers in question was acquainted with the other; for it is out of the question to refer all these coincidences to a later perturbation in the text of Ahikar from the influence of the Bible. Some, at least, of them must be primitive coincidences. But in referring such coincidences to the first form of Ahikar, we have lighted upon a pretty problem. For one of the formulae in question, that namely which describes the collective wisdom of the Babylonians, is held by modern critics to be one of the proofs of late date in the book of Daniel:

 

Accordingly Sayce says 1 , ‘Besides the proper names [in Daniel] there is another note of late date. “The Chaldeans” are coupled with the “magicians/ 7 the “astrologers” and the “sorcerers/* just as they are in Horace or other classical writers of a similar age. The Hebrew and Aramaic equivalent of the Greek or Latin “Chaldeans” is Kasdim (Kasdayin), a name the origin of which is still uncertain.

But its application in the earlier books of the Bible is well known.

It denoted the Semitic Babylonians…. After the fall of the Baby-lonian empire the word Chaldean gradually assumed a new meaning . . .it became the equivalent of ” sorcerer ” and magician.. . . In the eyes of the Assyriologist the use of the word Kasdim in the book of Daniel would alone be sufficient to indicate the date of the work with unerring certainty.’

 

Now it is certainly an interesting fact that in the story of Ahikar the perplexing Chaldeans are absent from the enumeration.

This confirms us in a suspicion that Ahikar has not been borrow-ing from Daniel, either in the first form of the legend or in later versions. For if he had been copying into his text a passage from Daniel to heighten the narrative, why should he omit the Chaldeans? The author had not, certainly, been reading Prof.

Sayce’s proof that they were an anachronism. The hypothesis is, therefore, invited that in Ahikar we have a prior document to Daniel: but we will not press the argument unduly, because we are not quite certain as to the text of the primitive Ahikar … .

 

 

 

Ashurbanipal as Nebuchednezzar, “Cosmic Tree”

6-anu-above-enlil-enki

Ashurbanipal, Manasseh, Necho I-II, Nebuchednezzar

 

Part Two (ii):

Ashurbanipal as Nebuchednezzar,

“Cosmic Tree”

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

“The emperor is addressed as the one who stretches out and provides shelter for his vassals – similar to Nebuchadnezzar in Dan 4 …”.

 H. Henze

 

Certain passages in M. H. Henze’s book, The Madness of King Nebuchadnezzar: The Ancient Near Eastern Origins and Early History of Interpretation of Daniel 4 (BRILL, 1999), do no harm whatsoever to my identification, in this series (see also: https://www.academia.edu/33428527/Ashurbanipal_Manasseh_Necho_I-II_Nebuchednezzar._Part_Two_i_Ashurbanipal_as_Nebuchednezzar )

of Ashurbanipal as Nebuchednezzar.

And so we read of the emperor as like a sheltering, cosmic tree (pp. 80-81):

….

In addition to these more general commonalties in the portraits of the sacred tree throughout the ancient world, there are a number of peculiar details in the description of the cosmic tree in Dan 4 that stand without parallel in the Hebrew Bible, and which therefore demand further attention. One such detail is the literary context of the tree vision. As already observed, the entire story of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness is cast, at least in the Aramaic version, in the form of an encyclical epistle sent by the king “to all peoples, nations, and tongues” (Dan 3:31). We find the same image of the monarch as a giant tree in the prescript of an Assyrian epistle. It is part of the introductory blessing formulae in a letter sent to the Neo-Assyrian king Ashurbanipal by a certain Adad-šum-usur, a prominent diviner (barû) and royal advisor (ummānu) already during the time Ashurbanipal’s father Esarhaddon ….

 

My comment: According to my neo-Assyrian revision, Esarhaddon was not the father of Ashurbanipal, but was Ashurbanipal, hence was Nebuchednezzar.

See e.g. my article:

 

Esarhaddon a tolerable fit for King Nebuchednezzar

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

 

That would mean that Adad-šum-usur above would not need to be so stretched chronologically as to have to have embraced two reigns (Esarhaddon plus Ashurbanipal). Now, the biblical Ahikar (Achior) was Esarhaddon’s ummānu. And W. van Soden has suggested that Adad-šum-usur might have been the model for Ahikar (see Wisdom in Ancient Israel, p. 43, n. 3).

 

Returning to M. H. Henze and Adad-šum-usur

 

… who exercised considerable influence in the court. …. The line in question reads as follows,

zīmīka (MÚŠ-ka) lišmuḫu lirappišu ṣulūlī

 

(may the gods grant progeny to the king, my lord) may your

countenance flourish (and) make shelter wide ….

The letter, which probably stems from the beginning of Ashurbanipal’s reign around the year 666 BCE [sic], opens with a sequence of blessings. Line 14, the line quoted above, concludes this introductory section of the epistle. The emperor is addressed as the one who stretches out and provides shelter for his vassals – similar to Nebuchadnezzar in Dan 4 who, in the form of a cosmic tree, has grown large in order to host all the nations of the world (Dan 4:8–9.19). ….

 

 

Siege of the City of Tyre

Esarhaddon a tolerable fit

for King Nebuchednezzar

 

Part Four: The Siege of the City of Tyre

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

  

“But as Steinmann points out … the method of attack (vv. 8-9) is not that

employed by Alexander but is similar to that of attackers previous to

Nebuchednezzar (e.g., Esarhaddon in 673)”.

 Arnold J. Tkacik

 

Fr. Arnold J. Tkacik (OSB) has written what I would consider to be a most helpful and enlightening commentary on the extremely complex biblical Book of Ezekiel in his article, “Ezekiel”, for The Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968). I refer more especially to the exegetical (or religious-spiritual) aspect of his commentary than to the historical side of it. Though, even in this latter regard – or at least as regards the chronology of the book – Fr. Tkacik has arrived at what I think are some telling conclusions.

 

However, if this present series is correct, according to which Nebuchednezzar ‘the Great’ is to be enlarged and greatly filled out with the potent king, Esarhaddon, then any conventional commentary for this particular period of biblico-history must needs be somewhat one-dimensional rather than being able to present a full picture of the times.

 

Regarding the siege of the Phoenician Tyre in the Book of Ezekiel, or what Fr. Tkacik heads, The Tidal wave Against Tyre (26:1-21), the author will suggest that “the method of attack” in this case is more along the lines of Esarhaddon’s modus operandi against Tyre than, as according to some, that of Alexander the Great. Thus he writes (21:60):

 

Some authors (e.g. Holscher and Torrey) maintain that the poem describes the capture of Tyre by Alexander in 332, because it speaks of a complete destruction of the city (vv. 3-6, 14). But as Steinmann points out … the method of attack (vv. 8-9) is not that employed by Alexander but is similar to that of attackers previous to Nebuchednezzar (e.g., Esarhaddon in 673).

[End of quote]

 

The “method of attack” is described in Ezekiel 26:8-9 like this:

 

He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you. He will direct the blows of his battering rams against your walls and demolish your towers with his weapons.

 

Instead of his writing “similar to that of attackers previous to Nebuchednezzar (e.g., Esarhaddon …)”, though, Fr. Tkacik could well have written “similar to that of attackers Nebuchednezzar, Esarhaddon”. For, unlike Alexander, the neo-Assyrian/Babylonian besiegers failed to complete their work even after years of effort.

 

Compare the following two items (Esarhaddon, Nebuchednezzar):

 

https://www.internationalstandardbible.com/E/esarhaddon.html

The capture of Tyre was also attempted, but, the city being differently situated, a siege from the land was insufficient to bring about submission, as it was impossible to cut off the commerce by sea. The siege, after several years, seems to have been lifted. Although on a great monolith Esarhaddon depicts Ba`al, the king of Tyre, kneeling before him with a ring through his lips, there is nothing in the inscriptions to bear this out.

 

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=1790

Several aspects of this prophecy deserve attention and close scrutiny. The prophet predicted: (1) many nations would come against Tyre; (2) the inhabitants of the villages and fields of Tyre would be slain; (3) Nebuchadnezzar would build a siege mound against the city; (4) the city would be broken down and the stones, timber, and soil would be thrown in “the midst of the water;” (5) the city would become a “place for spreading nets;” and (6) the city would never be rebuilt.

In chronological order, the siege of Nebuchadnezzar took place within a few months of Ezekiel’s prophecy. Josephus, quoting “the records of the Phoenicians,” says that Nebuchadnezzar “besieged Tyre for thirteen years in the days of Ithobal, their king” (Against Apion, 1.21). The length of the siege was due, in part, to the unusual arrangement of the mainland city and the island city. While the mainland city would have been susceptible to ordinary siege tactics, the island city would have been easily defended against orthodox siege methods (Fleming, p. 45). The historical record suggests that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the mainland city, but the siege of the island “probably ended with the nominal submission of the city” in which Tyre surrendered “without receiving the hostile army within her walls” (p. 45). The city of Tyre was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar, who did major damage to the mainland as Ezekiel predicted, but the island city remained primarily unaffected.

 

It is at this point in the discussion that certain skeptics view Ezekiel’s prophecy as a failed prediction. Farrell Till stated: “Nebuchadnezzar did capture the mainland suburb of Tyre, but he never succeeded in taking the island part, which was the seat of Tyrian grandeur. That being so, it could hardly be said that Nebuchadnezzar wreaked the total havoc on Tyre that Ezekiel vituperatively predicted in the passages cited” (n.d.). Till and others suggest that the prophecies about Tyre’s utter destruction refer to the work of Nebuchadnezzar.

 

After a closer look at the text, however, such an interpretation is misguided. Ezekiel began his prophecy by stating that “many nations” would come against Tyre (26:3). Then he proceeded to name Nebuchadnezzar, and stated that “he” would build a siege mound, “he” would slay with the sword, and “he” would do numerous other things (26:7-11). However, in 26:12, the pronoun shifts from the singular “he” to the plural “they.” It is in verse 12 and following that Ezekiel predicts that “they” will lay the stones and building material of Tyre in the “midst of the waters.” The shift in pronouns is of vast significance, since it shifts the subject of the action from Nebuchadnezzar (he) back to the many nations (they). Till and others fail to see this shift and mistakenly apply the utter destruction of Tyre to the efforts of Nebuchadnezzar.

 

Furthermore, Ezekiel was well aware of Nebuchadnezzar’s failure to destroy the city. Sixteen years after his initial prediction, in the 27th year of Johoiachin’s captivity (circa 570 B.C.), he wrote: “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to labor strenuously against Tyre; every head was made bald, and every shoulder rubbed raw; yet neither he nor his army received wages from Tyre, for the labor which they expended on it” (29:18). Therefore, in regard to the prophecy of Tyre as it relates to Nebuchadnezzar’s activity, at least two of the elements were fulfilled (i.e., the siege mound and the slaying of the inhabitants in the field).

 

Neither account above allows for the total destruction of Tyre that Alexander the Great would later manage to achieve.

 

In the previous article, Part Three:

https://www.academia.edu/39725289/Esarhaddon_a_tolerable_fit_for_King_Nebuchednezzar._Part_Three_The_Marduk_Prophecy_ I also included the mighty Ashurbanipal amongst my alter egos for Nebuchednezzar. Thus I wrote:

 

The simple answer, I think, as to why a document written in praise of a Babylonian king was later considered to apply to an Assyrian ruler reigning about four centuries after the Babylonian king, is that Nebuchednezzar I and Ashurbanipal were one and the same king.

See e.g. my article:

 

Nebuchednezzar – mad, bad, then great

 

https://www.academia.edu/39013559/Nebuchednezzar_-_mad_bad_then_great

 

Our necessary ‘folding’ of conventional C12th BC Assyro-Babylonian history into the C8th-C7th’s BC serves to bring great kings into their proper alignment.

Nebuchednezzar I’s conquest of Elam now sits in place, where it should, as Ashurbanipal’s famous devastation of Elam in 639 BC (conventional dating), when “the Assyrians sacked the Elamite city of Susa, and Ashurbanipal boasted that “the whole world” was his”.

https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Ashurbanipal#Nineveh.2C_Babylon_and_Ela

[End of quote]

 

So what of Ashurbanipal and Tyre?

If I am correct, then he should have experienced the same outcome there as had his alter egos, Esarhaddon, Nebuchednezzar.

Well, it seems that my view is solidly supported by the following statement according to which “scholars attribute … to Esarhaddon” what Ashurbanipal himself would claim regarding Tyre:

 

Esarhaddon refers to an earlier period when gods, angered by insolent insolent mortals, create a destructive flood. According to inscriptions recorded during his reign, Esarhaddon besieges Tyre, cutting off food and water.

Assurbanipal’s inscriptions also refer to a siege against Tyre, although scholars attribute it to Esarhaddon.

 

And so they should if I am correct: Ashurbanipal was Esarhaddon – was Nebuchednezzar!

 

https://www.livius.org/sources/content/anet/295-assurbanipal-cylinder-c/

Esarhaddon’s son [sic] Aššurbanipal (r.669-631?) inherited this situation. In his third year, he tried to capture Tyre, occupied the mainland, but – like his predecessors – failed to capture the island city itself. Note the absence of tribute: it seems that a marital alliance was concluded.

In my third campaign I marched against Ba’al, king of Tyre ….

 

 

Esarhaddon, Ashurbanipal, Nebuchednezzar, tried to take Tyre but failed to take it completely even after a long siege.

The king of Tyre at the time was Ba’al, or Ithobal (Ithoba’al).