Hebrew Monotheistic Influence on Nebuchednezzar ‘the Great’?

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

“Merodach is most certainly at the head of the Babylonian pantheon, and is so far exalted above the other gods as to give an almost monotheistic character to some passages in the inscriptions”. 

C. Boutflower

 

 Introduction

 

We considered in a recent series of articles that the kingdom of neo-Assyria – newly revised to co-ordinate with the mission to Nineveh of the prophet Jonah – may have been influenced at the time by Hebrew monotheism and by certain canonical formulæ of Mosaïc Law.

Here we briefly consider a possibly similar monotheistic influence upon king Nebuchednezzar.

 

“Monotheistic Tendency”

of Nebuchednezzar II

 

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_djvu.t

 

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.” 2

This remarkable prayer runs thus

 

“To Merodach my lord I prayed,

I addressed my supplication.

He had regard to the utterance of my heart,

I spake unto him:

‘Everlasting prince,

Lord of all that is,

for the king whom thou lovest,

whose name thou proclaimest,

who is pleasing to thee :

direct him aright,

lead him in the right path !

I am a prince obedient unto thee,

the creature of thy hands,

thou hast created me,

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

According to thy mercy, Lord, which thou bestowest upon

all of them,

cause them to love thy exalted lordship :

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

Grant what to thee is pleasing,

for thou makest my life’.” ….

 

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

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

 

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

 

However, considering my revised view that Nebuchednezzar II, Nabonidus, is actually just the one Chaldean king:

 

Does King Nabonidus Reflect Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar”?   

http://www.academia.edu/…/Does_King_Nabonidus_Reflect_Daniel_s_Nebuchednezzar_

 

(and that Belshazzar, the son of Nabonidus, was the “King Belshazzzar” of Daniel 5, who succeeded his father Nebuchadnezzar), 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 …”:

 

Sin is Merodach the illuminator of the night.

 

Boutflower writes:

 

… not only was there a tendency towards monotheism in the Babylonian religion… but … Nebuchadnezzar himself became increasingly monotheistic in his later years, a circumstance which might well be expected in view of the great miracles recorded in the Book of Daniel. Daniel, as we have seen, when interpreting the king’s earlier dream, given in chap, ii., was able to reveal to

him “the God of heaven” as the real Enlil, “the Great Mountain,” and “Lord of the wind” ; and the monarch on that occasion was so far impressed by the discovery and interpretation of his forgotten dream that he freely acknowledged Daniel’s God to be “the God of gods and the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets,” thus putting Jehovah in the place of both Merodach and Nebo.

Later on, in chaps, iii. and iv., he acknowledges the God of the Jews as ” the Most High ” and ” the Most High God.” I am now in a position to show that there were two ways in which he could do this without turning his back on, or abjuring, the Babylonian religion.

 

When Merodach became the Enlil, the other gods, as we have seen, bestowed on him their names and attributes. This fable of Babylonian mythology tended in the direction of monotheism, and paved the way for the identification of the other deities with Merodach, and for regarding them as so many manifestations of Merodach. This appears most clearly in a tablet known as the

Monotheistic Tablet, from which the following is an extract :

 

“Ninib is Merodach of the garden (?).

Nergal is Merodach of war.

Zagaga is Merodach of battle.

Enlil is Merodach of lordship and dominion.

Nebo is Merodach of trading.

Sin is Merodach the illuminator of the night.

Shamash is Merodach of righteousness.

Bimmon is Merodach of rain.” 2

….

 

Despite all of this, it would probably be going too far to suggest that the Chaldean king ever became a pure monotheist in the mould of a Daniel. Still, the religious reform implemented during this period of Chaldean dominance is certainly most idiosyncratic and confronting.

King Nebuchednezzar II, Nabonidus, in addressing the deity as “Lord of all that is”, and “the god(s) of the gods”, could be mistaken for a moment as a Jewish Yahwist addressing the God of Israel.

 

 

Daniel 9:4-7

 ‘Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you’.

Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus

Image result for ashurbanipal

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

Historian Paul-Alain Beaulieu (The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon 556-539BC) has identified ‘the idea of imperial continuity with Assyria, centred on the figure of Ashurbanipal’ as one of ‘the main characteristics of Nabonidus’ personality’ (p. 2).

  

Introduction

 

Not surprising that we are going to find many Book of Daniel-like elements in the biography of the eccentric neo-Babylonian king, Nabonidus, if I am correct in identifying him with both Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’ and:

 

“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel

https://www.academia.edu/23886406/_Nebuchednezzar_of_the_Book_of_Daniel

 

The likenesses between Nabonidus and the biblical king have amazed some biblically-minded writers who adhere to the conventional view that Nebuchednezzar II and Nabonidus were quite separate neo-Babylonian kings. Consider, for instance, the following extraordinary parallels rightly discerned by John A. Tvedtnes, but without his realising that this really is Daniel’s king (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/09/nebuchadnezzar-or-nabonidus-mistaken-identities-in-the-book-of-daniel?lang=eng):

 

 

Nebuchadnezzar or Nabonidus?

Mistaken Identities in the Book of Daniel

 

A classic example of textual errors caused by “careless transcribers” or “ignorant translators” is contained in the book of Daniel. The events chronicled in the present-day book would have originally been recorded in Hebrew, the early language of the Jews. However, the book of Daniel found in the Hebrew Bible is a combination of Hebrew and Aramaic, the language of the Jews after they returned from Babylon. From Daniel 2:4 through 7:8, the text is in Aramaic. [Dan. 2:4–7:8] It is in this middle section that we find discrepancies between the biblical text and other ancient records. These discrepancies involve the identity of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king who first subdued and then destroyed Jerusalem.

 

During his forty-year reign, Nebuchadnezzar ruled much of the Near East and rebuilt the great city of Babylon, replete with its hundreds of temples and its world-renowned hanging gardens. Some thirty years before his death in 561 B.C., he subdued Jerusalem (598 B.C.), taking its king, Jehoiakim, captive to Babylon and replacing him with Jehoiachin. When Jehoiachin proved disloyal, he was also deposed and replaced by his uncle, Zedekiah. When Zedekiah, too, revolted against his overlord, Nebuchadnezzar attacked the city.

 

In 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, taking the remainder of its people—along with many others from throughout the kingdom of Judah into captivity. (See 2 Kgs. 24–25.) One of the early Jewish captives, Daniel, won favor with the king and became known as a wise and trusted counselor.

 

Chapters two, three, and four of Daniel purport to contain accounts about Nebuchadnezzar. But only the first and best-known of these—the account of his dream about the great statue destroyed by a stone cut out of a mountainside—is actually about him. The stories in chapters three and four, as well as a reference in chapter five, are actually about another king named Nabonidus, not Nebuchadnezzar. [Dan. 2; Dan. 3; Dan. 4; Dan. 5]

 

Chapter three recounts that the king “made an image of gold … : he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.” (Dan. 3:1.) When this new idol was set up, a decree went forth that when music sounded, people were to prostrate themselves before the statue.

 

Chapter four tells of another dream of the king, this time about a great tree that was hewn down by order of God. [Dan. 4] Again Daniel was called upon for an interpretation. The tree, said the prophet, represented the sinful king, who would become mad, living for seven years “with the beasts of the field” and eating grass “as oxen.” (Dan. 4:23–26.) This prophecy was fulfilled when the king “was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” (Dan. 4:33.) Ultimately, the king was healed, returned to his throne, and praised God.

 

In chapter five, the scene changes abruptly. Here we find that “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.” (Dan. 5:1.) In verse two, he is identified as the son of Nebuchadnezzar, the king who had destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. At the feast, a finger appears, writing an ominous message on the plaster of the wall. Daniel, summoned to interpret the writing, informs the assembly that the Medes and Persians will take the kingdom.

 

It is this reference in chapter five that highlights the misidentification problem in the book of Daniel. Belshazzar was actually the son of Nabonidus, not of Nebuchadnezzar. And Belshazzar was never king [sic], but only crown prince.

….

Other ancient records establish that Belshazzar was actually Nabonidus’ son and that Belshazzar was never king—only crown prince. From the “Verse Account of Nabonidus,” preserved on a clay tablet and found at Babylon, we read a contemporary account of Nabonidus that sounds very much like the “Nebuchadnezzar” of Daniel 3–5 [Dan. 3–5]:

 

“His/protective deity became hostile to him,/and he, the former favorite of the gods/is now/seized by misfortunes: … against the will of the gods he performed an unholy action, … he thought out something worthless:/He had made the image of a deity/which nobody had/ever/seen in/this/country./ He introduced it into the temple/he placed/it/upon a pedestal; … he called it by the name of Nanna, … it is adorned with a … of lapis/lazuli, crowned with a tiara. …” (Pritchard, p. 313.)

 

The one difference between this story and the one from Daniel 3 is that the Babylonian text says the idol was made of brick, covered with gypsum and bitumin to make the facing brilliant, while the Daniel account says it was made of gold. But the ninety-foot-high statue could hardly have been made of pure gold. Continuing from the Babylonian text:

 

“After he had obtained what he desired, a work of utter deceit, had built/this/abomination, a work of unholiness—when the third year was about to begin he entrusted the ‘Camp’ to his oldest/son/, the firstborn, the troops everywhere in the country he ordered under his/command/. He let/everything/ go, entrusted the kingship to him and, himself, he started out for a long journey, the/military/forces of Akkad marching with him; he turned towards Tema /deep/in the west. … When he arrived there, he killed in battle the prince of Tema … and he, himself, took his residence in/Te/ma, the forces of Akkad /were also stationed/there.” (Pritchard, p. 313.)

 

The rest of the text becomes fragmentary, but we can discern that Nabonidus ordered the slaughter of many people in the northern Arabian town of Tema and that he enslaved large numbers of them. Column four on the tablet is in especially bad shape, but we can discern the words “The king is mad.”

 

This brings us to the account of “Nebuchadnezzar’s” madness in Daniel 4. The Babylonian accounts do not mention that Nebuchadnezzar became mad. But it is well known that Nabonidus did. Records kept by the Babylonian priests confirm Nabonidus’s temporary madness in the wilderness of Tema. The records show that Nabonidus “stayed in Tema” at least from the seventh through eleventh years of his reign, leaving “the crown prince, the officials and the army” in Babylonia. During this time, the New Year festival, over which only the king could preside, was omitted.

 

….

 

The Dead Sea scrolls found at Qumran in 1948 confirm that Nabonidus, not Nebuchadnezzar, was the mad king. A fragmentary document titled “The Prayer of Nabonidus” tells of a king NBNY (Hebrew uses no vowels) who, while at Tema, was diseased by the God of Israel. A Jewish adviser (no doubt Daniel) counsels him to honor God, reminding him, “Thou has been smitten with this noisesome fever … for seven years because thou hast been praying to gods of silver and stone, which gods are but stock and stone, mere clay.” (Theodore H. Gaster, The Dead Sea Scriptures, 3d ed., Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press/ Doubleday, 1976, p. 537.)

 

The fact that the gods of silver and gold were actually made of stock and stone might indicate gold or silver plating, which could identify the brick idol of Nabonidus with the gold idol mentioned in the book of Daniel.

 

….

 

How could such apparent errors have crept into the sacred record? ….

 

[End of quote]

 

My answer: Conventional neo-Babylonian history, and not the Book of Daniel, is at fault.

 

The great Assyrian ruler, Ashurbanipal, who so significantly influenced king Nabonidus, has certain features that also may remind one of Daniel’s “Nebuchednezzar” – so much so, in fact, that I had initially wondered about exploring an identification of the two.

I had then written:

 

Nabonidus is somewhat like an Assyrian king. He adopts Assyrian titulature and boasts of having the Assyrian kings as his “royal ancestors”. There is nothing particularly strange about his supposed long stay in Teima in Arabia. This was a typical campaign region adopted by the neo-Assyrian kings. There is nothing particularly remarkable about his desire to restore the Ehulhul temple of Sin in Harran. Ashurbanipal did that.

Nabonidus is said to have had two major goals, to restore that Sin temple and to establish the empire of Babylon along the lines of the neo-Assyrians. Once again, Ashurbanipal is particularly mentioned as being his inspiration.

Nabonidus was not singular in not taking the hand of Bel in Babylon for many years, due to what he calls the impiety of the Babylonians. Ashurbanipal (and now you will notice that he keeps turning up) could not shake the hand of Bel after his brother Shamash-shum-ukin had revolted against him, barring Babylon, Borsippa, etc. to him. He tells us this explicitly.

Nabonidus is not singular either in not expecting to become king. Ashurbanipal had felt the same.

…. They share many Babylonian building works and restorations, too.

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

….

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

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

….

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

The many queries about whether an inscription belongs to Nebuchednezzar or Nabonidus now dissolves.

It was Nabonidus, not Nebuchednezzar, they say, who built the famous palace in Babylon.

Nabonidus’s well known madness (perhaps the Teima phase) is Nebuchednezzar’s madness.

Nabonidus calls Sin “the God of gods” (ilani sa ilani), the exact phrase used by Nebuchednezzar in Daniel 2:47 of Daniel’s God (“the God of gods”).

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

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

….

Oh, yes, and Belshazzar, they say, was Nabonidus’s son, not Nebuchednezzar’s son. Contrary to the Bible.

And Belshazzar was not a king, they also say.

Well he wasn’t a king while Nabonidus = Nebuchednezzar …. reigned.

But he was later. I’ll believe Daniel 5 (Writing on the Wall).

 

Ashurbanipal also apparently had a lions’ den.

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

 

….

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Thanks to the Book of Daniel, King Nebuchednezzar ‘the Great’ can be identified with Nabonidus

Marduk temple

 by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

The historicity of the prophet Daniel and of the book that bears his name has become hopelessly clouded by factors such as the (i) inaccurate view of neo-Babylonian succession; (ii) a late authorship (C2nd BC) attribution; and the (iii) over-emphasis upon Aramaïc.  


Attempted interpretations of the Bible can suffer badly from erroneous extra-biblical factors, such as an over-inflated historico-archaeological model.

The biblical narrative is thus forced to squeeze fit, in Procrustean fashion, within a matrix that has no proper basis in reality, meaning that we end up with, not so much the prophet Jeremiah’s “Terror on every side” (e.g., 20:10), but with “Error on every side”. In Part One of this series (https://www.academia.edu/23886406/_Nebuchednezzar_of_the_Book_of_Daniel), however, and elsewhere, I have argued for a radical shortening of the conventional neo-Babylonian succession, with Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’, for instance, now to be identified with the King Nabonidus who so notably resembles “Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel.

The reason being, that Nabonidus was that Nebuchednezzar.

But historians and biblical commentators almost universally adopt an approach quite different from mine. Blindly trusting in their conventional apparatus, they, upon realisation that the biblical data cannot comfortably be aligned with it, must emasculate the biblical account in, as I said, a Procrustean fashion. One example that stands out in my mind is that of the fallen walls of Early Bronze III Jericho, which adequately fits the account of it given in the Book of Joshua, but archaeologically does not correlate with the estimated time of Joshua, but, rather, with a much earlier era. Conclusion: The Joshuan account must have borrowed from some real historical situation that had occurred many centuries before.

But, how about this approach instead? The Joshuan account adequately fits a real historico-archaeological situation that is thought to have occurred much earlier than Joshua.

Let us re-examine the conventional apparatus to see if it has all been put together properly.

 

Now, in the case of the Book of Daniel, what has been so colourfully narrated about its king, “Nebuchednezzar”, seems to have been borrowed from a king named Nabonidus. So – and this has been my approach – could Nebuchednezzar and Nabonidus be just the one king, meaning that the conventional neo-Babylonian succession has been wrongly constructed, with kings being multiplied.

That is not the usual approach, though, as we shall read next.

 

 

Book of Daniel and historical evidences

 

 

“The Babylonian king Belshazzar in Daniel 5 reflects the historical Bēl-šar-us-ur, eldest son of Nabonidus and regent of the kingdom during his father’s ten-year absence in Arabia. The Daniel tradition erroneously makes him the actual king and portrays him as the son of Nebuchadnezzar”.

 

Paul-Alain Beaulieu

 

 

 

The methodology that I wrote that I favoured in Part Two (i) is by no means the usual approach, however, which latter is typically the one employed by Paul-Alain Beaulieu, in his nonetheless interesting article, “The Babylonian Background of the Motif of the Fiery Furnace in Daniel 3” (Journal of Biblical Literature, 128 (2009) 289-306), also available at:

https://www.academia.edu/1581259/The_Babylonian_Background_of_the_Motif_of_the_Fiery_Furnace_in_Daniel_3

Beaulieu, who has accepted the standard view of long oral traditions leading to a late authorship of the Book of Daniel, will nonetheless find that “the story of Daniel and his three companions being taken to the court of Babylon, given rations from the king’s table, and educated in the lore and manners of the Chaldeans, fits remarkably well with the evidence available from contemporary documents”:

 

…. The royal order to worship the golden image, the refusal of the three Jewish youths to comply with Nebuchadnezzar’s demands, their ordeal in the fiery furnace and miraculous salvation, followed by their reinstatement in royal favor, all raise fascinating literary and theological questions. The themes and motifs that make up this narrative underwent a long process of oral and written transmission that is extremely difficult to reconstruct.

 

Indeed, any proposal in that direction is bound to remain speculative. Changes inevitably occurred in the tale during the long process of its elaboration, a time span covering more than three centuries. This means that the original historical background remains partly concealed behind the final redaction. How much does Daniel 3 reflect the situation of Jewish exiles at the Babylonian court in the sixth century, and the political and theological debates which took place at that time?

 

I propose in the next few pages to address one aspect of this question, the motif of the punishment in the fiery furnace.

 

  1. The Account in Daniel 3

 

The episode related in Daniel 3 allegedly took place at the court of Nebuchadnezzar, the conqueror of Jerusalem who reigned from 605 to 562 …. Following the deportations he ordered, Jewish exiles settled in Babylonia in substantial numbers in the early decades of the sixth century.

The fate of some exiles is now documented by a group of cuneiform contract tablets stemming mainly from two localities in the region of Nippur, one of them called “city of Judah/of the Judeans” (Al Yahudu/Yahudayu), the Babylonian name of Jerusalem.

 

As the majority of the people appearing in the documents bear West Semitic and Judean names, it seems certain that this new Jerusalem in Babylonia had been founded by recent exiles. Those Judeans integrated to various degrees into the life of their new home. Some even gravitated around the royal court. Indeed, such a group of Judeans appearing in cuneiform tablets has been known since 1939, when Ernst Weidner published administrative documents discovered in Babylon at the beginning of the twentieth century in the storeroom area of the royal palace and datable to the thirteenth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar.

 

A few tablets record deliveries of rations to groups of foreigners, some of them obviously state prisoners. Among the recipients one finds Jehoiachin, the king of Judah exiled in 597, and a number of unnamed Judean men and princes who presumably belonged to Jehoiachin’s retinue. 2 Kings25:27–30 tells us that in the twenty-seventh year of the exile, the Babylonian king Evil-Merodach (= Amēl-Marduk, son of Nebuchadnezzar II, reigned 562–560 … released him from prison, provided him with a regular allowance and received him every day at his table.

 

Mackey’s comment: I have identified this king Jehoiachin (Coniah) with the conspiratorial Haman of the Book of Esther:

 

Is the Book of Esther a Real History?

 

https://www.academia.edu/23061779/Is_the_Book_of_Esther_a_Real_History

 

Beaulieu continues:

 

Therefore the story of Daniel and his three companions being taken to the court of Babylon, given rations from the king’s table, and educated in the lore and manners of the Chaldeans, fits remarkably well with the evidence available from contemporary documents.

 

While the general historical context of Daniel 3 seems relatively easy to assess, some aspects of its setting remain foggy. It has long been accepted that behind the Danielic Nebuchadnezzar lurks a memory of the historical Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon, who reigned from 556 to 539 ….

 

Mackey’s comment: But, according to my reconstructions, Nabonidus was not “the last king of Babylon”, but he was Nebuchednezzar himself, hence the Book of Daniel’s lurking “memory of the historical Nabonidus”.

Beaulieu will now, again missing the point, go on to write that Nabonidus’s son Belshazzar is a reflection of the “Babylonian king Belshazzar in Daniel 5”. The truth of the matter is that this is just the one Belshazzar. Thus we read:

 

The figure of Nabonidus emerges most clearly in Daniel 4 and 5. It is now generally accepted that the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness and his expulsion among beasts originates in a recollection of Nabonidus’s eccentric behavior, especially regarding religious issues, and of his withdrawal to the north Arabian oasis of Teima. The Babylonian king Belshazzar in Daniel 5 reflects the historical Bēl-šar-us-ur, eldest son of Nabonidus and regent of the kingdom during his father’s ten-year absence in Arabia. The Daniel tradition erroneously [sic] makes him the actual king and portrays him as the son of Nebuchadnezzar. This latter interpolation constitutes the strongest argument for tracing the Danielic narratives about Nebuchadnezzar to a cluster of historical memories of Nabonidus. This has led some scholars to seek in cuneiform sources relating to Nabonidus historical data that might provide a background to the story of the worship of the golden statue in Daniel 3. Such data came to light with the publication of the Verse Account of Nabonidus in 1924.

 

This polemical account, probably written at the behest of the Persian conquerors of Babylon, largely focuses on Nabonidus’s promotion of the cult of the moon-god Sîn at the expense of Marduk, the city-god of Babylon. It claims that Nabonidus made a horrifying new cult image of the god Sîn. The Verse Account probably refers in this case to the statue of Sîn that the king claims to have returned to the temple Ehulhul in Harran. Sidney Smith, the original editor of the text, did not fail to see the relation that this episode

bears to the tale of the fashioning and compulsory worship of the gold statue in Daniel 3.

The suggestion was later taken up by Wolfram von Soden and several other scholars since.

…. The statue might also be the image of a king, perhaps Nebuchadnezzar himself, or a symbol of his regal power. In ch. 2 of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar receives a dream vision of such a statue. Some ancient exegetes clearly saw a connection between chs. 2 and 3. In the second century, Hippolytus of Rome already interpreted the statue fashioned by Nebuchadnezzar as a reminiscence of his dream: For as the blessed Daniel, in interpreting the vision, had answered the king, saying, “Thou art this head of gold in the image,” the king, being puffed up with this address, and elated in his heart, made a copy of this image, in order that it might be worshiped by all as God.

….  Originally, the tale focused on the memory of Nabonidus’s crafting of a new image of the moon-god Sîn for the temple of Harran and his effort to impose it as state cult in the Babylonian empire of the sixth century. The tradition eventually substituted Nebuchadnezzar for Nabonidus [sic] and transformed the episode into an edifying theological tale of the arrogant attempt of a pagan king to impose the worship of a statue of his own design, a statue embodying imperial hubris. The Danielic tradition transmuted this memory of Nabonidus’s failed attempt at religious reform into a timeless critique of idolatry. Forced worship of the statue, however, merely sets the background for the other elements in the drama to unfold. As in most court tales, peer envy ushers the heroes into royal disgrace. Refusing to bow down to the statue, the three Jewish youths are denounced for impiety and are sentenced to the punishment prescribed by the king for defying his order: to be thrown alive into a furnace of blazing fire …. Burning as a death sentence occurs occasionally in the biblical and Near Eastern worlds. ….

 

  1. Punishment by Fire

 

Punishment by Fire in the Bible

 

The Bible contains few allusions to execution by burning. In spite of their small number, they indicate that punishment by being burned alive was part of the legal system of ancient Israel. For example, this punishment is prescribed for prostitution or fornication in the episode of Judah and Tamar (Gen 38:24) and, more specifically, for prostitution by the daughter of a priest in the laws of Leviticus (Lev 21:9). Leviticus also prescribes that punishment for the particular form of incest committed by a man who weds both mother and daughter (Lev 20:14). The same end befalls the thief of sacred paraphernalia and his family according to the episode of the sin of Achan (Josh 7:13–19), although Achan himself is stoned to death before being burned.

…. In the prophetic and apocalyptic literature of the postexilic period, burning is sometimes mentioned as a form of eschatological punishment, notably in Daniel7:11, where the beast of the fourth kingdom is killed and given over to be burned with fire. For the interpretation of Daniel 3, the most interesting mention of death by burning in the Bible is the execution of the false Jewish prophets mentioned in the letter sent by Jeremiah to the first wave of exiles in Babylon (Jer 29:1–23).

 

The time frame of the letter should be 594–593 … between the two captures of Jerusalem, when many in Judah still entertained hopes of casting off the Babylonian yoke. Yet Jeremiah encourages the exiles to settle in their new country and patiently await the term of seventy years prescribed for their return; he warns them against false prophets who predict Judah’s impending liberation (Jer 29:21–23NRSV):

 

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying a lie to you in my name: I am going to deliver them into the hand of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, and he shall kill them before your eyes. And on account of them this curse shall be used by all the exiles from Judah in Babylon: “The Lord make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire,” because they have perpetrated outrage in Israel and have committed adultery with their neighbor’s wives, and have spoken in my name lying words that I did not command them; I am the one who knows and bear witness, says the Lord.

 

Ahab, son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah, son of Maasiah, both occur in a list of false prophets from Qumran (4Q339).

 

They proclaimed the end of Babylonian hegemony over Judah. Therefore, fear of their spreading a spirit of rebellion appears to be Nebuchadnezzar’s most likely motive for ordering their execution. Consonant with Jeremiah’s interpretation of history, Nebuchadnezzar acts here as a mere instrument of God’s plan. However, it is interesting that Jeremiah further indicts the two prophets for fornication, a crime that in some circumstances entailed death by burning in Israel and is listed here as the primary reason for their execution. Jeremiah provides a biblical rationale for their condemnation, a rationale that conceals the political motives of the Babylonians in carrying out that sentence. As I will dis-cuss below, death by burning occurs a number of times in Babylonian sources from the eighth to the third centuries … in some cases as a sentence imposed by the king. The punishment mentioned in Jeremiah 29 involved roasting in fire, but it does not say explicitly how, and therefore burning in a furnace cannot be excluded, even if death at the stake seems more likely. Be that as it may, Jeremiah 29 provides a crucial parallel to Daniel 3 and may yield some clues as to how the tale originated and expanded. Both narratives portray Nebuchadnezzar imposing capital punishment on rebellious Jewish exiles, and the punishment involves death by burning in the two cases.

 

Punishment by Fire in Ancient Egypt

 

Burning as a form of capital punishment is attested a few times in texts from the pharaonic and Hellenistic periods in Egypt.

 

Anthony Leahy has reviewed the various allusions to such punishment in Egyptian sources.

 

Burning is attested for adultery, murder, conspiracy to murder, sacrilege, and rebellion. It is uncertain whether legal codes prescribed it, but in some cases it could be ordered by royal decree. Execution by burning usually involved placing the condemned on the (“brazier, open furnace”). The Instructions of Ankhsheshonqy, a Demotic text from the first century … describe how the king ordered a group of conspirators to be burned in this manner; however, there is no agreement on whether the text refers to an open fire or an enclosed furnace.

 

Leahy points out two possible examples of large furnaces that could accommodate several individuals.

 

At Edfu a relief shows the king condemning four prisoners to be tied together in a type of box that is depicted also in Papyrus Salt 825, where it is identified as a “furnace” … with two men tied back to back inside it. He also gives examples of punishment by burning in the metaphysical realm; for instance, the Book of Gates depicts some large furnaces …. In Demotic the word … means both a censer or brazier and a large furnace.

….

 

Punishment by Fire in Ancient Mesopotamia

 

Execution by burning occurs in Mesopotamia both as a provision of the legal system for certain crimes and as a punishment imposed by the king.

 

It is attested already in the Old Babylonian period.

….

 

… the Babylonian king Nabû-šuma-iškun, who reigned in the middle of the eighth century, burned alive sixteen residents of the city of Kutha at the gate of Zababa in Babylon.

 

In a passage warning against the brazen confidence of strength and wealth, the Babylonian Theodicy remarks how the prominent citizen can be burned in fire by the king “before his time,” that is to say, before the natural end of his life.

 

In addition, the astrological series Enuma Anu Enlil mentions a royal condemnation to be burned.

….

There is also evidence in mythology and magic for burning as metaphysical punishment.

 

Punishment by the Fiery Furnace in Mesopotamia

 

The precise manner of execution in the texts discussed so far cannot be determined. Although death at the stake seems the more likely possibility, one can envisage a number of different ways in which a sentence of death by burning can be carried out. It is fortunate that we have three instances in Mesopotamia where the manner of execution by burning is specified, and all three cases involve being thrown into an oven or a furnace. However, these sources have not been discussed in previous commentaries on Daniel 3. The earliest text (BIN 7, 10) is a letter of King Rīm-Sîn of Larsa, who reigned from 1822 until 1763

… according to the middle chronology …. Thus says Rīm-Sîn, your lord. Because he cast a boy into the oven, you, throw the slave into the kiln.

 

The context of this letter cannot be reconstructed and remains enigmatic. Is the king quoting a proverb or some other form of saying, or is he ordering these officials to carry out an execution? The two words for “oven” and “kiln” are tinūru and utūnu. The latter derives from Sumerian UDUN, and occurs more rarely as atūnu, the form under which it entered the Aramaic language (Nwt) in Daniel 3). The second occurrence comes from a palace edict of the Assyrian king Aššur-rēša-iši I (1130–1113 …). It was originally published by Ernst Weidner, who noted with his usual acumen the parallel between the edict and the motif of the furnace in Daniel 3.

 

The relevant part of the edict reads as follows: …. They shall throw them, either the woman or the man, the eye-witness, in the oven.

The word for oven is again utūnu/atūnu, written here with the logogram udun. Unfortunately the edict is not fully preserved, so it is not entirely clear which transgression results in death in the oven. Many provisions in Middle Assyrian edicts sanction inappropriate behavior by palace women and personnel. Thus a misdemeanor of sexual nature seems probable. The third and final example occurs in a Neo-Babylonian school text from the Sippar temple library. It is datable to the first half of the sixth century and is therefore contemporaneous with the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar II and Nabonidus. The text may well have been composed earlier, however, since it purports to reproduce a letter of the Old Babylonian king Samsu-iluna (1750–1712) to a certain Enlil-nādin-šumi, who is given the title of governor …. The king orders the governor to inscribe on a stela an encyclical address to the superintendents of all cult centers of Babylonia.

…. To Enlil-nādin-šumi, governor of the land … superintendent of all [the cult centers of A]kkad, speak, thus [Samsu-ilun]a, king of the world …. “(Concerning) all the cult centers of the land of Akkad, all of those from east to west [which] I have given entirely into your control, I have heard (reports) that the temple officials, the collegium … priests of the cult centers of the land of Akkad, as many as there are, have taken to falsehood, committed an abomination, been stained with blood, spoken untruths. Inwardly they profane and desecrate their gods, they prattle and cavort about. Things that their gods did not command they establish for their gods.”

After having thus chastised local priests and officials for impiety and sacrilege, the king concludes his remonstrances with a series of curses, and instructs Enlil-nādin-šumi to enforce them: You now, destroy them, burn them, roast them, . . . to the cook’s oven . . . make their smoke billow, bring about their fiery end with the fierce flame of the box-thorn!

In spite of the gap in the text, it seems clear that the punishment by burning and roasting envisaged in the curses is effected by means of a cook’s oven. The term for oven here is

kīru, which refers normally to a lime kiln rather than the oven used by cooks and bakers. Remarkably, in his classic commentary on Daniel, James Montgomery noted that the furnace of Daniel 3 “must have been similar to our common lime-kiln, with a perpendicular shaft from the top and an opening at the bottom for extracting the fused lime.”

 

The Letter of Samsu-iluna provides the closest known parallel to Daniel 3, not only in the manner of execution but also regarding the context in which it is envisaged, that of a royal order on the correct performance of cultic duties. The text belonged to the curriculum of Babylonian schools. Apprentice scribes who joined the royal administration were required to copy and study it. The Letter propagates an idealized view of the Babylonian monarch as religious leader and custodian of traditional rites. Given its status as official text, it is hardly surprising that elements of its ideology resurface with a slightly different formulation in the Harran Stela of Nabonidus. The Harran Stela openly propagandizes Nabonidus’s devotion to the moon-god Sîn of Harran, whom he sought to promote as imperial deity. In a passage that recalls the tone and thematic content of the Letter of Samsu-iluna, Nabonidus chastises the administrators and citizens of the cult centers of Babylonia for behaving sinfully, committing blasphemy and sacrileges, and disregarding the true nature and worship of Sîn: The god Sîn called me to kingship. He revealed to me in a night dream (what follows): “Build quickly Ehulhul, the temple of Sîn in Harran, and I will deliver all lands into your hands.” (But) the people, the citizens of Babylon, Borsippa, Nippur, Ur, Uruk, (and) Larsa, the temple administrators (and) the people of the cult centers of the land of Akkad, offended his (Sîn’s) great godhead and they misbehaved and sinned, (for) they did not know the great wrath of the king of the gods, Nannar. They forgot their rites and would speak slanders and lies, devouring each other like dogs. (Thus) pestilence and famine appeared (ušabšû) among them, and he (the moon-god) reduced … the people of the land.

 

….

There are two other striking points of resemblance between the Letter of Samsu-iluna, the Harran Stela, and Daniel 3. In all three cases the Babylonian king addresses his subjects by means of an encyclical proclamation, and the individuals most specifically targeted by the anticipated punishment are the priesthood and high officials, who were generally royal appointees. Daniel 3 records that Nebuchadnezzar’s proclamation is addressed to “the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces” (Dan 3:2, 3), and the biblical material further emphasizes that the Jewish companions of Daniel had been nominated by the king to oversee “the affairs of the province of Babylon” (Dan 3:12). The motif of the Chaldeans denouncing the three Jewish appointees stems from the paradigm of the court tale, but the story of officials falling into disgrace because they contravened the king’s religious pronunciamentos very probably originates in actual conflicts that erupted during the reign of Nabonidus.

 

….

The executions recorded in Daniel 6 and in the story of Bel and the Dragon, effected by throwing the condemned into a lion’s pit, appear more feasible and on the surface more believable than the punishment in the fiery furnace. However, such a mode of execution finds no parallel in the ancient world. Karel van der Toorn argued that the story probably originated in the literalization of an ancient metaphor that is recorded in a letter addressed by the scholar Urad-Gula to the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal.

 

The scholar complains that he has unexplainably fallen into disgrace, and in a broken passage states that he prays to the king day and night “in front of the lion’s pit.” Earlier in the letter Urad-Gula had said that he used to eat “lion’s morsels,” which can be understood to mean the fine food apportioned to members of the staff of schol-ars who advised the king. ….

 

Mackey’s comment: Beaulieu will now proceed to discuss what he (wrongly, I suggest) considers to have been “the transformation of the figure of Nabonidus into that of Nebuchadnezzar”:

 

  1. Nabonidus and Nebuchadnezzar

 

A very important element in the elaboration of Daniel 3 is the transformation of the figure of Nabonidus into that of Nebuchadnezzar. This could have happened any time before the court narratives of Daniel 1–6 reached their final form. However, the discovery of the Prayer of Nabonidus among the Qumran manuscripts(4Q242) shows that even after the compilation of Daniel in the first decades of the second century [sic], there continued a parallel tradition that correctly ascribed to the historical Nabonidus the episodes of the royal disease and the residence in the oasis of Teima. These episodes appear in Daniel in the form of the sudden madness, animalization, and exile of Nebuchadnezzar among the beasts. The Danielic figure of Nebuchadnezzar does not entirely depend on a memory of Nabonidus, however. The book accurately portrays Nebuchadnezzar as conqueror of Jerusalem (Dan1:1–2) and builder of Babylon (Dan 4:30). Thus, in Daniel, various memories of the two kings were woven together into one archetypal figure. It seems difficult to deny that there is a very close relation between the story of the two false prophets burned by the historical Nebuchadnezzar in Jer 29:21–23 and the story of the three Jewish exiles thrown into the fiery furnace by the fictionalized Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3. The books of Daniel and Jeremiah share many more traits. For one thing, the two prophets were allegedly near contemporaries. The final redactors of Daniel highlighted this connection in their prophet’s reinterpretation of Jeremiah’s prediction of the length of the exile (Daniel 9).

 

Mackey’s comment: The Book of Daniel does not, in fact, need any “reinterpretation of Jeremiah’s prediction of the length of the exile”. What stands in need of “reinterpretation” is the neo-Babylonian succession, the incorrect estimation of which by conventional scholars has led to apparent discrepancies between Jeremiah and Daniel. On this, see my:

 

Prophet Jeremiah’s “Seventy Years” of Babylonian Rule

 

https://www.academia.edu/29897786/Prophet_Jeremiahs_Seventy_Years_of_Babylonia

Jesus would have spoken Hebrew with a Galilean accent

 

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

“But there is another issue at stake. Aramaic is nowhere mentioned in the New Testament. Yet on numerous occasions it speaks of the “Hebrew” language in first century Judaea – from the title over Jesus’ cross “in Hebrew” (John 19:20), to descriptions of places like Gabbatha and Golgotha “in the Hebrew tongue” (John 5:2; 19:13, 17; Rev. 9:11; 16:16), to Paul gaining the silence of the Jerusalem crowd by addressing them “in the Hebrew tongue” (Acts 21:40; 22:2), to Jesus himself calling out to Paul, on the Damascus road, “in the Hebrew tongue” (Acts 26:14)”.

 Rev. Brenton Minge

                                                                          

  

Jesus Spoke Hebrew, written by Brenton Minge, is a most important book for, as its sub-title reads: Busting the “Aramaic” Myth.

I give here only the beginning of it, but recommend that one reads the entire book itself:

 

JESUS SPOKE HEBREW

 

The powerful Mel Gibson movie, The Passion of the Christ, has once again raised the question of what language Jesus actually spoke. Some say it doesn’t matter, and in one sense they are right. Jesus is still the Saviour of the world, who walked on water, raised the dead, and made atonement for our sins by his blood, whether he spoke Hebrew or Hindustani. Yet in another sense it DOES matter. If your natural language is, say, English, and I go about claiming it to be Dutch, I am clearly misrepresenting you. While there is nothing whatever wrong with Dutch, it is a simple matter of fidelity to the record, and of doing justice to the person. By the same token, if Jesus’ “mother-tongue” was Hebrew, then it is as much a misrepresentation to claim he spoke Aramaic – as is all but universally held – as to say Churchill spoke in Spanish, or Tolstoy wrote in Norwegian. But there is another issue at stake. Aramaic is nowhere mentioned in the New Testament. Yet on numerous occasions it speaks of the “Hebrew” language in first century Judaea – from the title over Jesus’ cross “in Hebrew” (John 19:20), to descriptions of places like Gabbatha and Golgotha “in the Hebrew tongue” (John 5:2; 19:13, 17; Rev. 9:11; 16:16), to Paul gaining the silence of the Jerusalem crowd by addressing them “in the Hebrew tongue” (Acts 21:40; 22:2), to Jesus himself calling out to Paul, on the Damascus road, “in the Hebrew tongue” (Acts 26:14). In each instance, the Greek text reads “Hebrew” (Hebrais, Hebraios or Hebraikos), the natural translation followed by nearly all the English versions, as also by the Latin Vulgate and the German Luther Bible. Do we have the right to insert “Aramaic” for this plain reading – particularly when the Jewish people of the period, as we shall see, were so insistent on distinguishing them? The evidence is compelling that we do not, and that the New Testament expression, “in the Hebrew language”, ought to be taken as read.

 

DEAD SEA SCROLLS

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls, known to date from the same general period, reveal an overwhelming preponderance of Hebrew texts. The figure is generally accepted as around 80%, with Aramaic and Greek taking up most of the balance. In their comprehensive translation of the Qumran literature, Michael Wise and others observe that: “Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the dominant view of the Semitic languages of Palestine in this period was essentially as follows: Hebrew had died; it was no longer learned at mother’s knee. It was known only by the educated classes through study, just as educated medieval Europeans knew Latin. Rabbinic Hebrew … was considered a sort of scholarly invention – artificial, not the language of life put to the page. The spoken language of the Jews had in fact become Aramaic … The discovery of the scrolls swept these linguistic notions into the trash bin … the vast majority of the scrolls were Hebrew texts. Hebrew was manifestly the principal literary language for the Jews of this period. The new discoveries underlined the still living , breathing, even supple character of that language … prov[ing] that late Second-Temple Jews used various dialects of Hebrew…”[1]. This sheer dominance of Hebrew goes far beyond the Biblical writings, which actually comprise, by Emanuel Tov’s calculations, just 23.5% of the overall Qumran literature.[2] It includes also the famed Copper Scroll (written, as Wolters notes, in “an early form of Mishnaic Hebrew”[3]), the day-to-day letters (where Hebrew, says Milik, is the “sole language of correspondence”[4]), and its general commentaries and literature (where, as Black concedes, “Hebrew certainly vastly predominates over Aramaic”[5]). No wonder the Scrolls are said to “prove that late Second Temple Jews used various dialects of Hebrew”. And not just as an “artificial” language, but a “natural, vibrant idiom”, as the Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls declares[6]. How else can such extensive evidence of the Hebrew language be taken – from commentaries to correspondence, from documents to daily rules? Likewise with the sixteen texts found at Herod’s stronghold of Masada, all predating the fortress’ overthrow in 73. No less than fifteen are definitely in Hebrew[7], with some doubt over the final one. Is it conceivable that Hebrew would have been used for ordinary communications (Biblical texts are again in a minority) if it was not the language of daily life? Surely the burden of proof must lie with those who would argue otherwise.

 

MOSES SEGAL

 

Well before the Scrolls and Masada provided their archaeological insights into Hebrew’s place in late second temple language, Moses Segal had come to the same conclusion on purely linguistic grounds. Co-translator of the Talmud and winner of the Israel Prize for Jewish Studies, Segal was a Hebrew lexicographer of the first order. While still believing that Jesus, as a Galilean, probably spoke Aramaic, he was in no doubt that the prevailing Judaean language of the time was Hebrew, as he already wrote in 1927: “In earlier Mishnaic [rabbinic] literature no distinction is drawn between Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew. The two idioms are known as Leshon Hagadesh, the Holy Tongue, as contrasted with other languages … What was the language of ordinary life of educated native Jews in Jerusalem and Judaea in the period from 400BCE to 150CE? The evidence presented by Mishnaic Hebrew and its literature leaves no doubt that that language was Mishnaic Hebrew”.[8] Such is the observation of one of the outstanding Hebrew scholars of the twentieth century, and editor of the Compendious Hebrew-English, English-Hebrew Dictionary. For Segal, as for the Dead Sea scholars, there is no doubt that the “language of ordinary life” in first century Judaea “was Mishnaic Hebrew”. It was the first language acquired by children in the home, and the natural medium of communication in daily speech. As Milik early recognized, “Mishnaic [Hebrew] … was at that time the spoken dialect of the inhabitants of Judaea”.[9]

 

WHAT IS GOING ON?

 

It is astonishing, in light of this, that the Aramaic assumption – at least as it pertains to the language of first century Judaea – still persists. As relatively recently as 1994, Angel Saenz-Badillos could claim, in his major study A History of the Hebrew Language, that “the exile [ie., 586BC] marks the disappearance of the [Hebrew] language from everyday life, and its subsequent use for literary and liturgical purposes only”.[10] What is going on here? On the one hand, the clear archaeological and linguistic evidence for Hebrew’s daily use in late second temple Judaea, yet on the other a protracted scholarly denial of the same! No wonder Oxford’s Edward Ullendorff takes Saenz-Badillos to task: “I cannot accept the author’s novel argument [cited above] … This assumption would curtail the active life of Hebrew by about half a millennium. Of course colloquial Hebrew will have changed somewhat, possibly as a result of external influences, during the post-exilic era, but it no doubt remained the principal vehicle of communication”.[11] Time was, when Saenz-Badillos’ obituary for Hebrew as a living language would have held centre-stage. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church spoke for virtually the entire scholarly world (Segal and Harris Birkeland[12] two notable exceptions), when, in its first edition of 1958, it confidently stated that Hebrew had “ceased to be a spoken language around the fourth century BC”.[13] Yet such was the mounting weight of evidence to the contrary, that by its third edition, in 1997, this had become “Hebrew continued to be used as a spoken and written language … in the New Testament period”.[14] This represents a remarkable about-turn, due, not least, to the extensive publication of the Scrolls in the intervening period. How fitting that from the lowest geographical region on earth – the Dead Sea – where death reigned even in its name, there should break forth from the “dead”, as it were, the vindication of Hebrew’s primary place in the language of first century Judaea, exactly as the New Testament consistently showed! Truly, “this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).

 

THE TALMUD

 

A clear distinction was made, among the Jewish people themselves, between Hebrew and Aramaic. Not only was Hebrew the choice of scholarship and literature, but it was also upheld as the normative language of daily life. “In the land of Israel”, said the Mishnah, “why the Aramaic tongue? Either the Holy Tongue (Hebrew, sic) or the Greek tongue”.[15] Aramaic had no “prestige”, and “commanded no loyalty”, as Safrai and Stern observe, whereas Hebrew had both. Even in the later times of the Talmud, it was forbidden to retrieve a burning Aramaic manuscript from a fire on the Sabbath, whereas it was permitted of a comparable Hebrew text.[16] To depart from the synagogue service during a Hebrew Bible reading was forbidden, but not for an Aramaic reading.[17] Even memorising the Scriptures in Aramaic was not enough, whereas just to hear them in Hebrew, without understanding a word, was to “perform [one’s] obligation”![18] To the Jewish people, it was Hebrew that was “the Holy Tongue”, whereas Aramaic was seen as “the language of the Evil Force”.[19] Not that the latter was rejected altogether, but that it was regarded as a second fiddle language to Hebrew – the real “tongue of the fathers” and medium of ordinary speech. Thus the Jerusalem Talmud declares that “Four languages are of value: Greek for song, Latin for war, Aramaic for dirges, and Hebrew for speaking”.[20] That was the place for Aramaic – in “dirges”. But to Hebrew belonged the high ground of daily speech (“for speaking”) and worship. Thus for a Jewish father not to speak to his son “in Hebrew”, from the time he was a toddler, and teach him the Law, was “as if he had buried him”.[21] Concerning Aramaic, by contrast, the rabbis warned: “Whoever makes personal requests [in prayer] in Aramaic, the ministering angels pay no attention, since angels do not understand Aramaic”[22]. This, of course, is not a canonical position, but merely reflects the depth of feeling against Aramaic among the Jewish scholars. Indeed, the Talmud relates an earlier occasion when Gamaliel – the same Gamaliel under whom Paul had studied (Acts 22:3), and whose astute word concerning the Christians is recorded in Acts 5:34-40 – was sitting on the still-unfinished temple steps. Someone showed him a copy of an Aramaic translation of Job, the first and at that time the only “Targum”. So disgusted was he by it, that he told the builder to “bury it under the rubble”.[23] Such was the regard for a pioneering attempt at an Aramaic portion of Scripture, in the Judaea of Jesus’ time! The internal Jewish evidence is thus all one-way traffic for Hebrew.

 

JOSEPHUS

 

As a contemporary, and largely an observer, of the final years of the second temple, Josephus (37-100AD) is an invaluable witness to the period.

While not without his faults, they are, as historian Paul Maier notes, heavily outweighed by his credits, particularly for the period during which he and his parents lived, when, as Maier says, he is “at his best”.[24] Like the Mishnah and Talmud, Josephus takes pains to distinguish Hebrew from Aramaic, showing that it was Hebrew that was spoken in the first century Israel of which he was largely a part. When news of the emperor Tiberius’ death is hastily conveyed to Agrippa on his way to the bath, the message is given “in the Hebrew tongue” (glosse te Hebraion, Antiquities xviii, 228). Presumably Hebrew was the most natural and readily understood language in such an emergency situation. Concerning this “Hebrew tongue”, he writes in another passage: “… though their script seemed to be similar to the peculiar Syrian (Aramaic, sic) writing, and their language to sound like the other, it was, as it happened, of a distinct type” (idiotropon, Ant. xii, 2, 1. Thackeray translation). Thus elsewhere he writes: the “Sabbath … in the Hebrew language” (Ant. 1:33); “Adam … in Hebrew signifies …” (Ant. 1:34); “Israel … in the Hebrew tongue” (Ant. 1:333); “written in the Hebrew books” (Ant. ix, 208); “the books of the Hebrews” (Ant. x, 218). It is difficult to see how “the Hebrew language” here can denote anything but Hebrew. Not only do the uniquely Hebrew connotations of “Sabbath”, “Israel”, etc., require it, but so too does the fact that, at the time of Josephus, the only holy “Hebrew books” possessed by the Jews were the actual Hebrew Scriptures – the Aramaic Targums (Job aside) not yet having come into being. So when we come to Josephus’ address to his own countrymen from outside the walls of besieged Jerusalem, there can be no doubt as to what language he speaks. He addresses them, of course, “in their own language” (War 5:9, 2), which he explicitly states, of the same episode, to be “the Hebrew language” (War 6:2, 1). Given the consistent meaning of “Hebrew” as real Hebrew, not Aramaic, elsewhere in Josephus, and the distinction he himself draws between the two languages, how can “Hebrew” here be taken at anything other than face value? That is, Josephus’ address to the Jews of around 69AD, like Paul’s address to the Jews of around a decade or so previously in the same city, were both – as the respective texts of Josephus and Acts state – “in the Hebrew language” (Acts 22:2). Logic would further require that the only reason this was so, was because “the Hebrew language” was the vernacular of Judaean Jews at the time.

 

JOT AND TITTLE

 

But what does this mean, in terms of our enquiry into Jesus’ language? A great deal, actually. Self-evidently there is a nexus between the Jewish vernacular of first century Israel, and the language Jesus spoke. It would fly in the face of common sense if the “Word made flesh” addressed the very countrymen he was first sent to by his Father, in anything other than their normal tongue.[25] As face answers to face in a mirror, so the prevailing language of his people at the time must, by any reasonable standard, have been the language Jesus used. Once that “prevailing language” is established, it requires no great leap to determine what Jesus spoke. The only way around this is to resort to the artificial construct of an “interpreter”, or to the circuitous explanation of Jesus being fluently bi- or tri-lingual during his earthly ministry, which – though by no means inconceivable or, still less, impossible, for the very Son of God – certainly has no actual support from Scripture, and must remain, therefore, a supposition. Consistent with this, we find Jesus speaking of the “jot” and “tittle” of the Law in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:18). By universal consent, this refers to the text of the Hebrew Bible. Let two modern authorities suffice – one Catholic, one Protestant: “‘Jot’ refers to ‘yod’, the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet; ‘tittle’ is a slight serif [or hook] on a Hebrew letter that distinguishes it from another”. (The New Jerome Bible Commentary, emph. added). Likewise John Broadus, in his Commentary on Matthew: “Jot, in the Greek iota, signifies the Hebrew letter iod (pronounced yod) … tittle – in the Greek, horn – denoting a very slight projection at the corner of certain Hebrew letters …” (emph. added). Would Jesus have used such a term, indeed two of them, both referring to the “Hebrew letters” of the “Hebrew alphabet”, if his immediate audience did not understand Hebrew? Would a French speaker, addressing his or her own countrymen today, use the umlaut of the German Bible to illustrate a point! Hardly. The most obvious conclusion is that, as Jesus was referring to the Hebrew alphabet – which no one disputes – his hearers must have understood that same alphabet, otherwise the point would have been lost on them. Logically, therefore, Jesus must have been speaking Hebrew, and his audience must have understood him in Hebrew. Should it be objected that, as the Hebrew and Aramaic alphabets were the same, Jesus could just as well have been referring to the Aramaic alphabet, we would respectfully reply that this is to miss the point. Jesus expressly says “the jot and tittle of the Law”, there being but one “Law” in Israel – the Hebrew Bible. Even the Talmud declares, “the Torah is in Hebrew” (Soferim 35a).

 

“EXAGGERATED” INFLUENCE

 

But what of Jesus’ reference to “mammon” in the same sermon (Matt. 6:24) – quite possibly an Aramaic word? This is no difficulty. Loan words frequently occur between languages, as with Italian words like pizza and pasta today in English. There is no reason why Hebrew should be any exception. Yet we must beware of reading too many “Aramaisms” into the New Testament. In a parallel context, Segal observes that “Aramaic influence on the Mishnaic Hebrew vocabulary has been exaggerated …. It has been the fashion among writers on the subject to brand as an Aramaism any infrequent Hebrew word …. Most of the ‘Aramaisms’ are as native in Hebrew as they are in Aramaic.”[26] Even the very term “Mishnaic Hebrew” can, through overuse, become an historical exaggeration, as though second temple Hebrew were a different species from “normal” Hebrew – an inevitable result of emphasizing small differences rather than recognizing greater commonalities. Just as Elizabethan English and modern English are still, whatever their differences, both English, so Biblical Hebrew and “Mishnaic” Hebrew are likewise both Hebrew.

 

DEMOLISHED

 

In New Testament studies, an over-exuberance for Aramaic at first led C.K. Barrett to attribute a quotation in John (Jn. 12:40) to Aramaic influence, only to change it to Hebrew in his commentary of eight years later.[27] Luke 6:7, too, was once held by scholars like Black, Fitzmyer and Wilcox to be an “Aramaic” construction, found nowhere else in the Greek of the period. Subsequently, J.A.L. Lee demolished this in his study “A non-Aramaism in Luke 6:7”, citing no less than 23 parallel constructions in Greek literature of the period![28] Time and again the Aramaic assumption has turned out to be a lemon, prompting Semitist Kenneth Kitchen to observe that “some ‘Aramaisms’ are actually Hebraisms in Aramaic”.[29] What is more, merely because a word does not appear in the Old Testament Hebrew Bible, does not automatically make it a candidate for the Aramaic club. “Hosanna” and “Gehenna” are words not found in that form in the Hebrew Old Testament. Yet both occur in Mishnaic Hebrew, and are found, in identical form, in the modern Hebrew dictionary. Yet they were once claimed to be “Aramaic”. And even if originally they were, so what! “Restaurant” and “serviette” are good French words, yet today they are well and truly part of standard English. Besides, as Glenda Abramson has noted, there were some 20,000 words in “Mishnaic” Hebrew, as against some 8,000 used in the Old Testament Bible.[30] Thus there is statistically a 2½ times greater likelihood that a Hebrew word will not be found in the Old Testament, yet still be a regular part of the Hebrew language of the New Testamental period. So the days are gone for the reflex assignation of “Aramaic” to any New Testament Semitism not found in the Old Testament.

Hitler an Antichrist

Revelation-Antichrist-Hitler

Pope who turned his back on Hitler

 

Part Two:Hitler an Antichrist

 

by 

Damien F. Mackey


“Pius XI regarded Hitler as “the greatest enemy of Christ and of the Church

in modern times,” and compared the Führer to an Antichrist”.

 

 

According to Part One in this series:

 

Pope Pius XI had left the Vatican in late April 1938, earlier than usual for his summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo. He intended it to be an obvious snub directed at Adolf Hitler who was meeting the first week in May with Italian leader Benito Mussolini.

 

The pope rejected being present while the “crooked cross of neo-paganism” flew over Rome. Hitler’s anti-Semitic campaign had become the pope’s great preoccupation.

 

Along similar lines we read at Zenit:

https://zenit.org/articles/pius-xi-considered-hitler-an-antichrist/

 

Pius XI Considered Hitler an Antichrist

 

Italian Archives Shed Light on Pope´s View in 1938

….

ROME, MAR. 5, 2001 (Zenit.org). – If Adolf Hitler had wished to visit the Vatican, Pius XI would have had the Führer first ask publicly for forgiveness for persecuting the Catholic Church in Germany.

Pius XI regarded Hitler as “the greatest enemy of Christ and of the Church in modern times,” and compared the Führer to an Antichrist.

“The persecution against the Catholic Church in Germany was his work, wholly and solely his, enough was already known about it to be able to state it without fear of a denial,” the Pope said.

These revelations have come to light in the correspondence of Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano, which has just been reviewed in the archives of the Foreign Ministry in Rome.

The documents go back to the early days of April 1938, one month before Hitler´s trip to Rome. He had been invited by Benito Mussolini. The Nazi leader did not visit the Vatican.

The documents were published by Gianluca Andre, professor of international political history at the University of Rome, in a new volume entitled “Italian Diplomatic Documents,” printed by the State Polygraphic Institute.

Pius XI spoke of a possible visit of Hitler to the Vatican, during a reserved conversation on April 7, 1938, with Bonifacio Pignatti, ambassador of the Fascist government to the Vatican. Ciano and Mussolini were informed by ambassador Pignatti that Pius XI deprecated “the apotheosis of Mr. Hitler” being prepared in Rome.

 

Immoral, idolatrous “Jezebel” mirrors Woman upon a Beast

Image result for scarlet beast

by

 Damien F. Mackey

‘Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead’.

Revelation 2:20-23

 

No doubt “Jezebel” here is meant to be taken metaphorically, having in mind the original Jezebel, that notorious queen of the Old Testament who was the wife of King Ahab of Israel. For, according to the following testimony of commander Jehu to Jezebel’s son, King Jehoram – {Jehu would oversee the death of this first Jezebel} – she was, just like her ‘re-incarnation’ in the Apocalypse, an idolatrous and immoral witch (2 Kings 9:21-22):

 

And Jehoram said, ‘Make ready’. And his chariot was made ready. And Jehoram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out against Jehu, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite.

 

And it came to pass, when Jehoram saw Jehu, that he said, ‘Is it peace, Jehu?’ And he answered, ‘What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?’

 

This first Jezebel I have been able to identify with – thanks to the benefits of a revised history and chronology – the famous Queen Nefertiti herself.

For example, in my:

 

The Shattering Fall of Queen Nefertiti. Part One: Nefertiti as Jezebel

https://www.academia.edu/31038511/The_Shattering_Fall_of_Queen_Nefertiti._Part_One_Nefertiti_as_Jezebel

 

and:

 

Queen Nefertiti Sealed as Jezebel

 

https://www.academia.edu/31088456/Queen_Nefertiti_Sealed_as_Jezebel

 

giving her also an identification in the now contemporaneous El Amarna correspondence:

 

Queen Jezebel in the El Amarna Letters

https://www.academia.edu/8459056/Queen_Jezebel_in_the_El_Amarna_Letters

 

The following article gives an outline of the two biblical Jezebels:

 

Bible Question: Who was Jezebel?

 

Bible Answer: There are two Jezebels in the Bible. The first one is found in the Old Testament, and the second one is found in the New Testament.

 

Jezebel – Old Testament. The first time the name Jezebel occurs in the Bible is when she is getting married to King Ahab in 1 Kings 16:31,

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all who were before him. And it came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him. 1 Kings 16:30-31 (NASB)

She was an evil woman who killed many prophets of God while feeding and caring for the prophets of two gods called Baal and Asherah (1 Kings 18:1-19). In 1 Kings 18:20-46 Ahab, Elijah and 450 prophets of Baal gather to see, “Who is God?” Elijah puts it simply,

How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him. 1 Kings 18:21 (NASB)

What followed was a one-sided contest. The followers of Baal prepared a sacrifice but Baal never sent fire to consume the sacrifice even though the 450 prophets called to Baal all day pleading, “O Baal, answer us.” Then they even cut themselves with swords and lances and still Baal did not answer. Baal never responded. Finally, Elijah poured water on his sacrifice three times. After Elijah prayed, God sent fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice. Elijah killed the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:40). Therefore, Jezebel sought to kill Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-2).

In 1 Kings 21:5-25 Jezebel had Naboth the Jezreelite killed so that her husband could own Naboth’s vineyard. What a wicked woman! Eventually, Jezebel was trampled to death by horses (2 Kings 9:30-37). Then dogs ate her flesh, leaving only her skull and the palms of her hands. What a horrible way to die. Jezebel was a wicked, evil, adulterous woman who was fighting against God.

 

Jezebel – New Testament. The name Jezebel is used for a woman once again in Revelation 2:18-29. Here, Jezebel is described as a prophetess, a false teacher, an immoral woman and idol worshipper. She attended a church at Thyatira. She encouraged those who attended the church to engage in sexual sin and worship other gods.

But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Rev. 2:20-21 (NASB)

She was like the Jezebel in the Old Testament. They share many of the same characteristics. God warned this Jezebel that He would punish her if she did not stop teaching this evil and repent. God not only warned Jezebel the teacher, He also warned her followers to stop and repent (Rev. 2:22-23).

And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. Rev. 2:23 (NASB) ….

 

 

Who was Apocalypse’s “Jezebel”?

 

 

 

“The theory that Simon [Magus] was accustomed to borrow from paganism IS CORROBORATED by the assertion of the Fathers that he and Helena were worshipped by their sect with the attributes of ZEUS and ATHENE and received the cult-title ‘Lord’ and ‘Lady’ ….”.

 

 

 

There are those who think that the “Jezebel” referred to by St. John the Evangelist in Revelation 2:20-23 was likely the notorious Helena, wife of Simon Magus. Thus we read, for example, at: http://www.hwalibrary.com/cgi-bin/get/hwa.cgi?action=getmagazine&InfoID=1389529982

 

 

Prostitute Prophetess

 

First, we notice that John says this “Jezebel” called herself a “prophetess” (Rev. 2:20). There must have been a particular false prophetess which had caused God’s servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. By looking on this “Jezebel” as having been contemporaneous with all the heresies of the other Churches — and that these heresies were in reality only ONE false system which originated with Simon Magus — we can then easily see that this “Jezebel” can be equated with the “Female Principle” which Simon introduced into his “Christianity.” None other than Simon’s Helen — the reclaimed temple prostitute from Tyre. Helen WAS a prostitute — what better type of person is there who could so expertly “teach” and “seduce My servants to commit fornication,” literally as well as spiritually?
Simon Magus came in contact with a priestess of Tyre who had been a temple prostitute. The Samaritans worshiped SUCCOTH-BENOTH who was the goddess VENUS. Her devotees continually prostituted themselves. It was their religious duty to do so.
This woman was overawed by Simon’s demonistic power and was persuaded to follow him — to live with him — to become the female principle, the necessary counterpart to his claim as being a type of male deity. Relative to this, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 25, p. 126, quoting from Justin [Martyr] states: “And almost all the Samaritans and a few among the other nations, acknowledge and adore him as the first god. And one Helen, who went about with him at the time, who before had had her stand in a brothel, they say was the First Thought that was brought into being by him.”
This is interesting because Justin was himself a Samaritan — born and reared in the country. He certainly knew his people’s native traditions and teachings. What he says agrees exactly with the New Testament revelation of how the Samaritans regarded Simon. They actually called him the “great power of God” (Acts 8:10). It is because of this that they believed him to have creative powers. He himself said he created Helen, his female companion whom he later elevated to a goddess.
“Irenaenus, Theodoret, and Epiphanius agree in identifying Simon with the Supreme God and Helena with ennoia, the first conception of his mind and his agent in creation” (Dict. of Religion of Ethics, vol. 11, p. 517).
What blasphemy!! But this is what he taught everywhere he went — and under the guise of Christianity.

 

Typically Pagan

 

There always had to be the Man and Woman divinities in paganism. Or, to make it plain, Nimrod and Semiramis.
Now notice what the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics says about this teaching of Simon which he took to Rome and they accepted: “The original of Simon’s Helena is the moon-goddess of Syria and Babylonia. In the Clementine Recognitions Helena is always translated ‘Luna.’ The theory that Simon was accustomed to borrow from paganism IS CORROBORATED by the assertion of the Fathers that he and Helena were worshipped by their sect with the attributes of ZEUS and ATHENE and received the cult-title ‘Lord’ and ‘Lady’ (i.e. our Lord and our Lady)” (ibid. p. 518).

 

As stated before, it was Simon’s plan to bring about a UNIVERSAL religion under the powerful name of Christianity. Remember that Simon NEVER gave up the Christian name.
His followers were called Christians. In amalgamating the pagan Babylonian religious beliefs with Christianity, he placed himself at the head — the personification of the chief pagan gods of old, and Helena as his companion in creation, the personification of the female deities. The name Helena for his consort fit his plan exceptionally well.

 

“There existed a wide-spread cult of the moon goddess in Syria and Egypt under the name Helene; she was identified with Aphrodite, Atargatis, and the Egyptian Isis, who was after represented with Horns to betoken her relation to the moon. One feature of the myth of Helen can be traced to the very ancient connection of the religion of Osiris with Syria. According to legend, Isis spent ten years at a brothel in Tyre during the course of her wanderings in search of the scattered limbs of her husband. The imprisonment of Helen (Simon’s Helen) is then only a variant of the many myths relating the degradation of the Queen of Heaven” (ibid.).
How important these observations are, for Osiris was clearly Nimrod and Isis was Semiramis. Thus, Simon Magus said that he had been the power that motivated Nimrod and that Helen was Semiramis — the Queen of Heaven.

 

Now let us carefully note that Simon brought his “Female Principle” from the City of TYRE. And who was the original Jezebel — the woman who seduced Israel to worship BAAL? She was the daughter of the king of the Sidonians whose capital city was TYRE. (I Kings 16:31). The original Jezebel was also from TYRE.
And not only that, Helen claimed herself to be the creation of Simon — that it was Simon who brought her into existence (Ency. Britannica, vol. 25, p. 126). She was, in a sense, the daughter of Simon. But, the original Jezebel WAS THE LITERAL DAUGHTER OF THE KING OF TYRE (I Kings 16:31).

 

 

 

“Jezebel” and the scarlet “Woman”

 

 

 

 

“Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries”.

 

Revelation 17:3-4

 

 

 

 

Having checked up on the chiastic structure of the Book of Revelation, I was not surprised to find that, at least according to the article, “A Double Chiasm in the Book of Revelation”, Chapter 2, which refers to “Jezebel”, parallels Chapter 17, in which appears the adulteress “woman”. Here is the proposed structure:

https://bookofdanielamaic.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/a26f0-revelationdoublechiasm.pdf

 

An Overall Structure of Revelation

 

Prologue (1:1-20)

Seven Epistles (2:1-3:22)

Seven Seals (4:1-8:1)

144,000 Saints and Seven Trumpets (7:1-111:19)

The Two Witnesses (11:1-13)

The Woman Clothed with the Sun (12:1)

Dragon in Heaven (12:4)

Women Flees into the Wilderness (12:6)

                     Satan Cast Out (12:12)

Woman Fells into the Wilderness (12:14)

Dragon on Earth (12:15)

Woman’s Seed Keeps God’s Commands (12:17)

The Two Beasts (13:1-18)

144,000 Saints and Seven Angels (14:1-15:4)

Seven Bowls (15:1, 5-16:21)

Seven Angels: Whore of Babylon vs. New Jerusalem (17:1-22:5)

Epilogue (22:6-21)

 

 

Here is the full text of Chapter 17 (vv. 1-18):

 

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters.

With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”

Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. The name written on her forehead was a mystery:

 

babylon the great

the mother of prostitutes

and of the abominations of the earth.

 

I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.

When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.

This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.

The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.

 

 

 

 

 

Apocalyptic Apoplexy

Part One: Saving the ‘Literal’ Level

 by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 The term “Antichrist” does not occur anywhere in the Book of Apocalypse (Revelation).

  

A friend has written, and sent to me, the following brief review of a no-doubt fascinating book by Emmet O’Regan, entitled Unveiling the Apocalypse. The Final Passover of the Church (2011):

 

Damien,

 

This is my summary of the book Unveiling the Apocalypse by Emmet O’Regan

 

O’Regan’s basic thesis is that many of the events narrated in the Apocalypse have taken place in the 20th century but he also outlines what has not yet taken place and locates fairly exactly where he thinks we are currently positioned.  In brief he holds that around 1900 following upon Leo’s vision we had the “unbinding” of Satan after the millennium.  On this point, he notes that Augustine had two interpretations of the millennium in The City of God the first of which became largely forgotten.  The latter, more common interpretation is that the millennium represents an indeterminate amount of time following the binding of Satan at our Lord’s Passion.  The other interpretation he proposed is that the millennium stands for the Sabbath millennium i.e towards the end (but not exactly at the end) of six thousand years from creation the unbinding would happen.  In his day the Septuagint genealogical interpretation was common which meant that the Sabbath millennium would be around 500AD.  It was Bede who calculated 3992 years based on the Hebrew text – since adjusted slightly by others.  O’Regan points out that an unbinding of Satan around the time of 1900 fits with the Sabbath millennium.  Now O’Regan himself does not hold to a young age for man so he sees this as being of “prophetic” significance rather than literal but he really likes it (whereas I would take it more literally).  

 

Now, there has also been interesting new research done by Kevin Symonds in his new book on the St Michael prayer and Leo’s vision (which I have already recently read).  It turns out saying it happened on October 13th 1884 is one of those made up facts.  In fact we don’t know a lot for sure about the content of the vision, but Symonds concludes that we can say one took place.  The earliest accounts that place a time frame for Satan’s period of greater freedom are 50-60 years not the commonly cited 100.  O’Regan has a fascinating take on this as one of the accounts of the vision (though we must be cautious) depicts God as saying to Satan that they would “talk later.”  So for the next sixty years Satan “gathered the nations for war” as it says in the Apocalypse and we had the worst wars humanity has ever seen.  O’Regan speculates that around the mid century Satan probably re-bargained for another 50-60 years with a different strategy –  a more direct attack on the Church. Hence from 1960 everything has gone up in flames within the Church and Pope Paul himself said the smoke of Satan had entered.  This … parallels Job, a type of the Church, who was first attacked Satan by losing all his friends and property.  Satan then bargained again and sent an outbreak of sores on Job himself.  O’Regan argues that around the years 1999/ 2000 we had the casting down of Satan from heaven (which is the context of the discussion regarding the eclipse).  It appears that prior to this final casting out Satan always had some access to the heavenly court in order to accuse humanity of its sins hence “the accuser of our brethren has been cast out”.  Now, as O’Regan says, the problem most people have is after the year 2000 the situation in the world hardly began to ameliorate itself.  Hence such an idea comes across as self evidently incorrect to most (after all it was after that time that homosexual marriage became legalised everywhere etc not to mention the current situation in the Church).  O’Regan points out this is what we should expect. For it says in the Apocalypse that upon the casting out of Satan the heavens should rejoice but “woe to the earth” for in his fury at being cast down he lets forth a flood upon the earth against the woman.  O’Regan argues that is where we currently find ourselves – enduring this last outpouring of Satan’s wrath.

 

Now, if he is correct, this has helped me figure out another puzzle (though this is not discussed in his book).  I have had trouble figuring out Sr Lucia’s words that the battle against marriage and the family will be the devil’s last battle.  It seems clear to me after all that Antichrist is not yet here but supposedly we are in the midst of this last battle.  However, I now see from O’Regan that after Satan is cast to earth his power is then transferred to Antichrist.  So the devil’s last battle and the last battle are not the same thing.

 

So, what we are currently waiting for, according to this account, is the appearance of the two witnesses to restore the Church (which he says are the holy pope and emperor) and the preaching of the Gospel to all nations through them.  Towards the end of this period the Antichrist will arise and fight against them and after Antichrist is defeated then the end will come.

 

Mackey’s response:

 

Since the interpretations given here, and the associated timetable, are quite different from those that I personally favour (which does not necessarily mean that O’Regan is wrong), I should like to give my reasons for why I must disagree with O’Regan (as here summarised).

 

Failure to recognise the “literal” level

 

Whilst I myself have not read O’Regan’s book, and so am dependent upon my friend’s summary of it, I have read this type of book before, this same sort of approach to the intriguing Book of Apocalypse. That is:

 

“O’Regan’s basic thesis is that many of the events narrated in the Apocalypse have taken place in the 20th century …”.

 

The most notable book of this type that springs to mind is Fr. Herman Kramer’s engrossing The Book of Destiny (Tan, 1975).

 

 

Years ago my friends and I were completely hooked on it. What a fascinating read!

I have referred to it briefly in, for instance:

 

John the Evangelist and Vincent Ferrer

 

https://www.academia.edu/32575584/John_the_Evangelist_and_Vincent_Ferrer

 

as follows:

 

Fr. Herman B. Kramer … has brought some connections between St. John and St. Vincent Ferrer in his captivating study on the Apocalypse, The Book of Destiny (Tan, 1975). According to Fr. Kramer’s interpretation of the Apocalypse, each chapter [can] be linked literally to an important era of Christian history. For instance, Revelation chapters 8 and 9 Fr. Kramer aligned with, respectively, the Great Western Schism (C14th-15th AD) and the Protestant Reformation (C16th AD).

Perhaps Fr. Kramer’s lynchpin for all this was his identifying of the Eagle, or angel of judgment, of Revelation 8:13, or 14:6, with St. Vincent Ferrer, OP. (ibid., pp. 208-9):

 

By a wonderful co-incidence a great saint appears at this stage [the Western Schism] in the history of the Church. His eminence and influence procured for him the distinction of an eagle flying through mid-heaven. This was the Dominican priest, St. Vincent Ferrer. When in 1398 he lay at death’s door with fever, our Lord, St. Francis and St. Dominic appeared to him, miraculously cured him of his fever and commissioned him to preach penance and prepare men for the coming judgments. Preaching in the open space in San Esteban on October 3, 1408 he solemnly declared that he was the angel of the judgment spoken of by St. John in the Apocalypse. The body of a woman was just being carried to St. Paul’s church nearby for burial. St. Vincent ordered the bearers to bring the corpse before him. He adjured the dead to testify whether his claim was true or not. The dead woman came to life and in the hearing of all bore witness to the truth of the saint’s claim and then slept again in death (Fr. Stanislaus Hogan O.P.).

[End of quotes]

 

With all due respect to the supposed testimony of this briefly resuscitated woman, the entire Book of Apocalypse (consisting of 22 chapters) right up to approximately the early verses of chapter 20, at least, belongs to an era – Saint John’s own era – when the old Judaïc system was still in place. I explained this in my:

 

Book of Revelation Theme: The Bride and the Reject

 

https://www.academia.edu/8230853/Book_of_Revelation_Theme_The_Bride_and_the_Reject

Here is a small part of what I wrote there (emphasis added):

 

What has exacerbated the whole exegetical problem of properly interpreting Revelation on a literal level is, I believe, the conventional opinion that St. John wrote this Apocalypse in hoary old age, in c. 95 AD, about a quarter of a century after Jerusalem had been destroyed. Hence many commentators are loath to see any relevance for Revelation in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Protestant and Catholic writers alike accept the late 95 AD date of authorship (Protestant Thomas Foster sharing this view in common with Opus Dei and Fr. Kramer).

 

However, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, there has emerged a new scholarship of great expertise as typified by Fr. Jean Carmignac, showing that the books of the New Testament literature (esp. the Gospels), were composed much earlier than was originally thought.

 

And the signs are that the entire New Testament, including Revelation, pre-dates 70 AD.

 

I believe that there is abundant evidence in the Apocalypse to indicate that it was written early. In fact the reason that prevented my writing this article initially was: Where to start? There is so much! My effort in the end had been greatly assisted by my finding Gentry’s preterist interpretation on the eve of commencing this article.

 

The whole Book of Revelation is focussed upon the Holy Land and especially Jerusalem. The Temple; the golden altar; the 24 elders keeping watch at Beth Moked in the north from where an attack might come (and general Titus did in fact take Jerusalem from there, at the city’s weakest point); the sabbath restrictions; etc., etc.

 

Apart from their late dating of St. John’s Revelation preventing commentators from recognising the obvious, that “Babylon” is Jerusalem, this path they have taken leads them into other awkward anomalies as well. It is commonly believed that St. Paul had already completed his missionary activity and had been martyred well before St. John the Evangelist wrote the Book of Revelation. Paul is given the credit for having established the seven churches to which John later wrote. This view forces commentators into making such strange observations as Fr. Kramer’s: “… St. John could not have interfered in the administration of the churches in the lifetime of St. Paul” (op. cit., pp. 7-8).

 

Oh, no? Was St. Paul (who even refers to himself as a very late arrival on the scene, I Corinthians 15:8) greater than St. John, the Beloved Disciple of Our Lord?

St. Paul himself would answer us an emphatic: ‘No’! Of his visit to Jerusalem after his 14 year absence, he tells us: “… James, Cephas and John, these leaders, these pillars, shook hands with Barnabas and me …. The only thing they insisted on was that we should remember to help the poor …” (Galatians 2:9, 10).

 

St. John was by no means subservient to St. Paul; but apparently gave orders to the latter.

 

All the Apostles had a hand in establishing the churches throughout Judaea and Samaria, as Jesus Christ had commanded them, and then “to the ends of the earth”, which St. Paul boasted had been achieved even in his day (Colossians 1:23).

And Our Lord told the Apostles, “solemnly”, that they would not have completed “the rounds of the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 10:23).

 

[End of quotes]

 

Biblical exegetes down through the centuries have noted various genuine levels of scriptural interpretation, the first (not necessarily the most important) of which being the literal (concrete) level. Now, this is the very level that many pious and, indeed, well-educated commentators, lacking a really solid grounding in the Scriptures and their era, can tend to skip over, leaving things quite vague and unreal.

Like a Theology without an underpinning solid philosophy.

I had this well in mind when I wrote, in my recent:

 

Isaiah 53 and the afflicted Hezekiah

 

https://www.academia.edu/32522738/Isaiah_53_and_the_afflicted_Hezekiah

 

….

 

The “figure” becomes far less “mysterious”, I would suggest,

if he is to be grounded in some literal flesh and blood person of Isaiah’s day.

 

 

Such Christians as those who tend to relate solely to the New Testament, having an extremely poor knowledge of – even sometimes seeming to be virtually allergic to – the Old Testament, will immediately identify Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant” as Jesus Christ the Messiah, without any consideration that the ancient prophet might have intended, directly and literally, some younger contemporary of his – such as King Hezekiah of Judah, as I suggested in the earlier section:  Hezekiah seems to fit Isaiah 53.

Now, whilst I could never accuse Pope Benedict XVI of discounting the Old Testament – he who in his book, Jesus of Nazareth (2011), is at pains show how the Old Testament prefigures and leads to the New Testament – and that Jesus Christ cannot be properly understood without the Old Testament – also writing along such lines as (p. 202):

 

What is remarkable about these [Four Gospel] accounts [of Jesus’ crucifixion and Death] is the multitude of Old Testament allusions and quotations they contain: word of God and event are deeply interwoven. The facts are, so to speak, permeated with the word – with meaning; and the converse is also true: what previously had been merely word – often beyond our capacity to understand – now becomes reality, its meaning unlocked [,]

 

– Benedict does, nevertheless, seem to bypass any possible ancient identification of Isaiah 53’s Suffering Servant in this next statement of his (I had previously quoted this):

 

“In Isaiah, this figure remains mysterious: the Song of the Suffering Servant

is like a gaze into the future in search of the one who is to come”.

 

The “figure” becomes far less “mysterious”, I would suggest, if he is to be grounded in some literal flesh and blood person of Isaiah’s day: one who also points to “the one who is to come”, who perfectly fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy, but who also re-interprets it, thereby, in the words of Benedict, ‘unlocking its meaning’.

 

Along somewhat similar lines, the prophet Job has remained “mysterious”, and “like a gaze”, without any known genealogy; or era; or country, unless he be “grounded” in his more historically-endowed alter ego, Tobias, son of Tobit. See my:

 

Job’s Life and Times

 

https://www.academia.edu/3787850/Jobs_Life_and_Times

 

And somewhat similar again is the common tendency to lift the Book of Apocalypse (Revelation) right out of its contemporary era, and interpret it almost wholly as a prophecy pertaining to our times, without realising that its “ground” is the C1st AD, though it also “gazes” prophetically into our day with which its shares some striking parallelisms.

But by no means can Apocalypse’s literalness be applied to the modern age.

 

 

Baruch – a Chronology

 Image result for baruch bible

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

“… in the fifth year, on the seventh day of the month, at the time the Chaldeans took Jerusalem and destroyed it with fire”.

(Baruch 1:2)

 “The fifth year referred to is not the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, but the fifth year of the exile of Jeconiah [Jehoiachin], i.e., the fifth year of Zedekiah”.

  

Fixing a Time for Baruch

 

593 BC

 

Rev. A. Fitzgerald (F.S.C.), writing his commentary on “Baruch” for The Jerome Biblical Commentary, appears to me to have made a pretty good fist of pinning down, to 593 BC (conventional dating used in this article for convenience), the year when Baruch wrote his book, or scroll, “on the seventh day of the month in the fifth year after the Babylonians captured Jerusalem” (Baruch 1:2) – 593 BC being the fifth year of king Zedekiah, when the Temple was still standing.

For, those who would assign Baruch’s “fifth year” here to 582 BC, the fifth anniversary of the Temple’s destruction by Nebuchednezzar II, in 587 BC, run into the somewhat acute difficulty of there being no Temple standing in Jerusalem to receive the silver vessels referred to a few verses further on. Thus (vv. 8-9):

 

On the tenth day of the month of Sivan, Baruch took the sacred utensils which had been carried away from the Temple and returned them to Judah. These were the silver utensils which Zedekiah son of King Josiah of Judah had ordered made after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia had deported Jehoiachin, the rulers, the skilled workers, the nobles, and the common people and had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon.

 

According to Fitzgerald (37:8-9):

 

As 1:1b-2a stand, they indicate that the prayer [of Baruch] was composed “in Babylon, in the fifth year, on the seventh day of the month”. The absence of a number before “month” is strange, but it is generally agreed that the fifth month is intended …. The fifth year referred to is not the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, but the fifth year of the exile of Jeconiah [Jehoiachin], i.e., the fifth year of Zedekiah. Another fifth year with no month given is found in Ez 1:2. Here clearly 593, the fifth year of Zedekiah is the date indicated. If Jer 28:1-3 and 29:1-2 are the source of the incident recounted in 1:8 about the return of the silver vessels, we have another reason for understanding the date of 1:2 as 593 (Jer 28:1). In any case, such an understanding of the problem presented by 1:2b harmonizes perfectly with the rest of the introduction.

[End of quote]

 

A second date usually assigned to Baruch that I now think needs seriously to be questioned is this one that we find with reference to Baruch in the Book of Jeremiah (36:1-2, 4):

 

In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations …’.

…. So Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah, and while Jeremiah dictated all the words the Lord had spoken to him, Baruch wrote them on the scroll.

 

Whilst the 4th year of king Jehoiakim of Judah is a most crucial biblico-historical date, combining as it does in Jeremiah 25:1 the biblical fourth year of a king of Judah with the first year of a known secular ruler: “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” – not to mention a date from Jeremiah’s own prophetic career (v. 3): ‘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’, I think that this date may need to be – in the case of Jeremiah 36:1 – amended to read the fourth year of Zedekiah.

Thus, instead of the traditional year of c. 605 BC for the 4th year of Jehoiakim, I think that we are in reality, for Jeremiah 36:1, in the year c. 594 BC, the fourth year of Zedekiah. [E.g., different versions of Scripture present, now Jehoiakim, now Zedekiah, for Jeremiah 27:1]. So, when immediately after 36:1, in Jeremiah 36:4, “Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah, and while Jeremiah dictated all the words the Lord had spoken to him, Baruch wrote them on the scroll”, we are now moving speedily towards our very starting point of 593 BC which greets us again in v. 9, “In the ninth month of the fifth year … ”.

But not only our same year, because the “ninth month” referred to here just happens to be the very same month, Sivan, as that referred to when Baruch returned the sacred vessels to Judah.

Jeremiah himself was restricted as to his movements at the time (Jeremiah 36:5): “Then Jeremiah told Baruch, ‘I am restricted; I am not allowed to go to the Lord’s Temple’,” and hence he was quite dependent upon Baruch (v. 6): ‘So you go to the house of the Lord on a day of fasting and read to the people from the scroll the words of the Lord that you wrote as I dictated’. Whilst Baruch faithfully carried out the task assigned to him, it was in itself a most dangerous act – so, little wonder do we read of this hostile reaction from the king (v. 26): “… the king commanded Jerahmeel, a son of the king, Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet. But the Lord had hidden them”. Hence we can easily excuse Baruch for his agony at this time (45:1-5):

 

When Baruch son of Neriah wrote on a scroll the words Jeremiah the prophet dictated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, Jeremiah said this to Baruch: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You said, ‘Woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’ But the Lord has told me to say to you, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the earth. Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life’.”

 

This Divine encouragement no doubt gave new heart to both Jeremiah and to his junior scribal assistant (vv. 27-28, 32):

 

After the king burned the scroll containing the words that Baruch had written at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: ‘Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll, which Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up’. ….

So Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on it all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them.

 

Baruch 5:9 and 6:1-72 actually comprises: “A copy of the letter which Jeremiah sent to those about to be led captive to Babylon by the king of the Babylonians, to tell them what he had been commanded by God”.

Just some five years later, with the Babylonians now besieging Jerusalem, we read of a very similar situation of dangerous tension between the prophet and the king (Jeremiah 32:1-2):

 

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. The army of the king of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah.

 

And, once again, the restricted prophet is dependent upon the aid of Baruch.

The year is:

 

589 BC

 

Jeremiah had famously at the time bought a field in Anathoth (32:6-25), and he had chosen Baruch to preserve the deed of purchase of the field (vv. 11-15):

 

I took the deed of purchase—the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, as well as the unsealed copy— and I gave this deed to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and of the witnesses who had signed the deed and of all the Jews sitting in the courtyard of the guard. In their presence I gave Baruch these instructions: ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time. For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.’

 

And once again we find the king, too, now Jehoiakim, now Zedekiah – but my argument is that it were all just Zedekiah – berating the prophet Jeremiah for his pessimistic predictions.

Compare 36:29-31:

 

Also tell Jehoiakim king of Judah, ‘This is what the Lord says: You burned that scroll and said, “Why did you write on it that the king of Babylon would certainly come and destroy this land and wipe from it both man and beast?” Therefore this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: He will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night. I will punish him and his children and his attendants for their wickedness; I will bring on them and those living in Jerusalem and the people of Judah every disaster I pronounced against them, because they have not listened’.

 

with 32:3-5:

 

Now Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him there, saying, “Why do you prophesy as you do? You say, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will capture it. Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape the Babylonians but will certainly be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and will speak with him face to face and see him with his own eyes. He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, where he will remain until I deal with him, declares the Lord. If you fight against the Babylonians, you will not succeed’.”

 

Everything that Jeremiah, with the assistance of Baruch, had prophesied or proclaimed to the king and his officials, and to the people of Judah, would soon be fulfilled. For, the very next year, Jerusalem and its Temple fell to the Babylonians. And the king was taken into captivity.

 

587 BC

 

Jeremiah 39:2-7:

 

And on the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year, the city wall was broken through. Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came and took seats in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer of Samgar, Nebo-Sarsekim a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer a high official and all the other officials of the king of Babylon. When Zedekiah king of Judah and all the soldiers saw them, they fled; they left the city at night by way of the king’s garden, through the gate between the two walls, and headed toward the Arabah.

But the Babylonian army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. They captured him and took him to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he pronounced sentence on him. There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes and also killed all the nobles of Judah. Then he put out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon.

 

2 Kings 25:8-10:

 

In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. And he burned the House of the Lord and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.

 

Not long after all of this had occurred, there was a rebellion against Babylonian authority, despite the warnings of Jeremiah against escaping to Egypt, and Baruch son of Neriah – apparently also still in the land – was accused of “inciting” the people along the same lines (Jeremiah 43:1-3):

 

When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God—everything the Lord had sent him to tell them — Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon”.

 

The next is the last that we hear of Baruch, whose combined floruit in the books of Jeremiah and Baruch I have estimated to have been only about (593-587 =) 6 years – depending on when the exile to Egypt occurred (Jeremiah 43:6-7): “And they took Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch son of Neriah along with them. So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord and went as far as Tahpanhes”.

 

So, what happened to Baruch after that?

 

 

Elihu the Prophet

 Image result

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

Was the young Elihu of the Book of Job (ch’s 32-37), as according to some, an enlightened prophet whose input is crucial to the dialogue, providing a “bridge” between Job and God, or, as according to Mason, “… an astonishingly pompous little windbag. He takes the entire first chapter, for example, plus portions of the second, simply to clear his throat and announce that he has something to say.”?

 

Not pompous, but modest

 

 

According to Tom Brown, “Why Job Suffered”, the poorly-known Elihu was given by God an “insight into the true nature of Job’s sufferings” (http://tbm.org/why_job_suffered.htm):

 

THE UNFORGOTTEN HERO

 

Do you remember the last character in the book of Job? Elihu is his name. He was not one of Job’s friends. He was simply listening to Job’s friends judging him and Job defending himself. As he began to listen to all four, God gave him insight into the true nature of Job’s sufferings.

Out of all the human characters, only Elihu understood why Job suffered. It is amazing that I haven’t heard anyone ever mention Elihu. We almost forget him. But the truth is, Elihu was the only one with true insight, not only into the sufferings of Job but, insight into the sufferings of all mankind. This is why Elihu is the last to speak concerning Job’s sufferings. It is interesting to note that when God appeared to Job, He rebuked Job for not having insight and He rebuked Job’s three friends for falsely judging Job. Yet God never rebuked Elihu. Why? Because Elihu was correct in understanding suffering.

Elihu begins by saying,

 

I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know. I thought, “Age should speak, advanced years should teach wisdom.” But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding. (Job 32:6-8)

 

Notice, Elihu is about to give wisdom not because of any human understanding, but because God’s Spirit gave him understanding. The first thing he does is correct Job’s friends.

 

I waited while you [Job’s three friends] spoke, I listened to your reasoning; while you were searching for words, I gave you my full attention. But not one of you has proved Job wrong; none of you has answered his argument. (Job 32:11-12)

 

Elihu showed Job’s friends that they were wrong in judging him. The second thing Elihu does is correct Job, but he does it in humility.

 

But now, Job, listen to my words; pay attention to everything I say. I am about to open my mouth; my words are on the tip of my tongue. My words come from an upright heart; my lips sincerely speak what I know. The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Answer me then, if you can; prepare yourself and confront me. I am just like you before God; I too have been taken from clay. No fear of me should alarm you, nor should my hand be heavy upon you. But you have said in my hearing–I heard the very words– “I AM PURE AND WITHOUT SIN; I AM CLEAN AND FREE FROM GUILT..” (Job 33:1-9)

 

Elihu saw one fundamental flaw in Job: that Job believed that he was without original sin. Job was self-righteous. Yes, he was righteous as far as men are concerned, but he was not righteous as far as God was concerned.

Since Job thought he was sinless and not under the curse of sin, he could not figure out how he could suffer. This bothered Job. But Elihu points out the fact that Job was a sinner like everyone else and is subject to the curse of sin which includes sickness and poverty.

People erroneously think that the book of Job was written to try to answer the question: Why does God allow good people to suffer? But Elihu has no trouble with that question because he knows that there are no truly “good” people in God’s sight. The thing that perplexed Elihu was not the fact that Job was suffering, but why weren’t he and Job’s friends suffering along with Job. In fact, Elihu is wondering why everyone doesn’t suffer all the time since everyone is a sinner.

Elihu realized that sinners are under the curse of sin, and therefore have no legal right to get mad when they suffer. They should realize that they deserve to suffer and if they are not suffering, they should praise God even more because He is having mercy on them.

WHY ARE SINNERS BLESSED?

Elihu asked the right question, “Why does God allow sinners to be blessed?” The answer: Because God is merciful.

In other words, before Job had his trials, he experienced the mercy of God. But when Job had his trials, he experienced the justice of God–he only got what he deserved.

Immediately after Elihu spoke, God answered Job in a whirlwind and rebuked him for falsely accusing God of injustice. Job wisely repented. ….

[End of quote]

 

By contrast with Brown’s favourable view of Elihu, is the put-down of the young man by Mason as already quoted (http://biblehub.com/commentaries/guzik/commentaries/1833.htm):

 

Despite all the good that might be said of Elihu, the fact remains that he really is an astonishingly pompous little windbag. He takes the entire first chapter, for example, plus portions of the second, simply to clear his throat and announce that he has something to say.

 

Two quite contrasting views here, Elihu a man of ‘true insight’ (Brown), Elihu ‘a pompous little windbag’ (Mason)!

Nigel Bernard’s most sensitive estimation of Elihu is likewise, as Brown’s, a favourable one. Elihu is a “modest” (not pompous) “messenger of God” (thus not bent upon self-justification) http://nhiemstra.wordpress.com/2009/02/19/elihu-the-messenger-of-god/

 

Elihu: The Messenger of God

 

Now comes the part of the whole story that is my personal favorite, at least my favorite character. You see, sitting back and listening to everything that was being said was a young man named Elihu. He was never mentioned before, probably because he was too young to be noticed. But once he starts talking, there is no doubt he possessed a spiritual discernment unknown by the others.

 

Elihu’s Modesty

 

It’s pleasant to notice Elihu’s modesty and tact in entering the discussion with his elders. It says that his “wrath was kindled” against Job and the three friends. This is explained later when he talks about the constraining of the Spirit within him, so that he was “ready to burst.”

Ezekiel refers to this “heat of the Spirit” when the Lord had moved him to speak. Jeremiah spoke of God’s word being “in his heart like a burning fire” and being “weary of holding it in. Indeed (he) could not” (Jeremiah 20:9). When “the Sovereign Lord has spoken, who can but prophesy” (Amos 3:8)? “Woe to me, if I do not . . .” (I Corinthians. 9:16).

Who could blame Elihu? Here he was sitting there as he saw Job becoming more and more concerned about clearing his own character than justifying the love and character of God. He also watched as his elders condemned Job without mercy and never were able to find an answer to Job’s complaints or to explain to him God’s purpose.

Elihu realizes that he is in a very delicate position for a young man. How is he going to speak to these dignified seniors? He holds himself back, waits and watches for the right moment. If indeed the Spirit of God has chosen him to be the “interpreter,” he will wait until He opens the way for him.

That is where many of us miss it. We think that just because we have a message from the Lord, whether it is to a specific brother or sister or in a congregational time of worship, we have to give it now! Do you notice the urgency? I’m sure we have all said, “Lord, what would you have me to say?” However, we also need to ask, “Lord, when would you have me say it?”

Proverbs 15:23 says: “A man has joy in making an apt answer and a word spoken in the right moment—how good it is!”

So finally, there’s a pause. The friends “stopped answering Job” and “the words of Job are ended.” The Lord’s message comes to Elihu and he obediently speaks. He takes from the beginning a place of humility and acknowledges his youthfulness and confesses how he had shrunk from saying what was on his heart because of their age and his respect for them. He knows there’s “a spirit in man,” and that it’s “the breath of the Almighty” alone that gives understanding and not age or position. So he is going to be obedient to the Lord and boldly say “Listen to me” although he is young.

He had waited and listened very attentively to every word that the older men had “searched out to say” while they were reasoning with Job, but he saw that they had utterly failed to convince him. “Not one of you has proved him wrong and none of you has answered his arguments. Look, Job hasn’t said anything to me, so I’m not going to answer anything he said. All I want to do is speak for the truth, not revenge.”

After all that, Elihu pauses almost as if he was waiting for some kind of encouragement from them or something. But they just sit there.

“You sit there baffled and embarrassed with no more replies. Should I just sit here and wait because you haven’t said anything?” No, he must be faithful to God regardless of their silence. He has to fulfill his “part” in God’s purpose and give the light that has been given to him. ….

 

 

Ezekiel’s contemporary

 

 

Elihu, who must have been – according to my reconstructions of the life of the righteous Job – a contemporary of the prophet Ezekiel, is found to have “similarities” with that prophet.

 

 

According to my reconstructions of the life and times of Job (as Tobias, son of Tobit) such as:

 

Job’s Life and Times

 

https://www.academia.edu/3787850/Jobs_Life_and_Times

 

and:

 

Stellar Life and Career of the holy Prophet Job

 

https://www.academia.edu/29141787/Stellar_Life_and_Career_of_the_holy_Prophet_Job

 

Job’s long life during the neo-Assyrian era took him at least as far as the destruction of Nineveh (c. 612 BC, conventional dating). This would mean that Elihu, a young man when Job was already old, had lived during the Chaldean era. And the Chaldean era was, of course, the very era during which the prophet Ezekiel had lived and prophesied.

 

Now, returning to Nigel Bernard, we read of these intriguing comparisons of Elihu and Ezekiel (http://www.testimony-magazine.org/back/apr2010/bernard.pdf)

 

There are several similarities between Elihu and Ezekiel. Comparisons include whirlwinds; sitting for seven days; not speaking; and rebuking elders even though they themselves were much younger.

 

IN LAST MONTH’S article we considered Elihu and Elijah. In this second article we consider Elihu and Ezekiel. As in the previous study, a whirlwind plays an important role.

 

Whirlwind

 

In the opening chapter of Ezekiel we read of a whirlwind: “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire” (v. 4). Just as the speech of Elihu was terminated by a whirlwind, the first vision that Ezekiel sees begins with a whirlwind. In Job the whirlwind provided a demonstration of power out of which God spoke. The whirlwind in Ezekiel is spoken of in more detail, and from it emerge the cherubim.

 

Sat seven days

 

When Job’s friends came to him (and we know that Elihu was also there) we read, “So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great. After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day” (2:13; 3:1). Likewise, Ezekiel spent a period of seven days simply sitting with a group of people, apparently saying nothing—at least, not words from God: “Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel-abib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the LORD [Yahweh] came unto me, saying . . .” (Ezek. 3:15,16).

In Job 21:5 Job says, “Mark me, and be astonished, and lay your hand upon your mouth”. Ezekiel later follows in the spirit of Job’s request, being “astonished”, and effectively having his hand upon his mouth. Yet, in the case of Job, all the time Elihu was indeed laying his hand upon his mouth, no doubt humble enough to be astonished too.

Dumb

 

As we read the speeches of Job and his three friends, the presence of Elihu can be felt. We know that he is there listening, but he restrains himself from speaking: “And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion” (32:6). He was voluntarily dumb, a dumbness out of respect and fear for his elders, on the basis that “Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom” (v. 7).

Ezekiel was also to be silent, speaking only when God caused him to speak. But his silence, unlike Elihu’s, was miraculously enforced, for he was made dumb: “and I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD [Yahweh]; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house” (Ezek. 3:26,27).

Ezekiel was made dumb because the house of Israel were rebellious. In contrast, after Elihu and God had spoken, Job showed humility towards God and repented “in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).

 

Elders

 

As we have seen, Elihu says to Job’s friends, “I am young, and ye are very old”. This theme of a younger person rebuking elders is also echoed in Ezekiel. Assuming that it is his age which is being spoken of, Ezekiel tells us that it was in his “thirtieth year” that he saw “visions of God” (1:1). At his comparatively young age he had to deal on more than one occasion with the elders of Israel, as the following verses show:

 

“And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD [Yahweh] fell there upon me” (8:1);

“Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me” (14:1);

“And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to enquire of the LORD [Yahweh], and sat before me” (20:1); “Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD [Yahweh]; Are ye come to enquire of Me? As I live, saith the Lord GOD [Yahweh], I will not be enquired of by you” (v. 3).

 

In the case of both the friends of Job and the elders of Judah, old age proved to be no guarantee of wisdom or obedience. Their rebuke by younger men only served to heighten their folly.

 

Priest and ancestry

 

[Mackey’s comment: In the following section, Bernard, whilst continuing to find similarities between Elihu and Ezekiel, will distinguish between “Ezekiel … the priest” and “Elihu … not a priest”. Whether or not Elihu was a priest has yet, I think, to be determined].

 

Ezekiel is described as “the priest, the son of Buzi”. That he was both a priest and the son of Buzi provides a link with Elihu. Malachi wrote that “the priest’s lips should keep knowledge” (2:7). Although not a priest, Elihu sought to live the spirit of these words, for he said, “my lips shall utter knowledge clearly” (Job 33:3).

Elihu is said to be “the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram” (32:2). That Elihu was a Buzite could mean that he was a descendant of Buz, the son of Nahor (see Gen. 22:20,21), and/or he lived in a territory called Buz. According to Strong, “Buzi” in Ezekiel 1:3 is the same word as “Buzite” in Job 32:2. This is a rare name in Scripture. That both Elihu and Ezekiel have this name mentioned in their ancestry alerts us to look for other similarities between these two men.

 

Other links

 

There are other significant connections between the book of Job and Ezekiel, which, although not relating directly to Elihu, form an important background to the links we have seen.

For example, some aspects of the cherubim reflect the words used by God of creation in His speech to Job. God asks Job, “Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?” (Job 38:35). In Ezekiel it is said of the cherubim, “and out of the fire went forth lightning” (1:13). God also asks Job, “Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south?” (Job 39:26). The Hebrew word for “hawk” is related to the word translated “sparkled” in Ezekiel 1:7, where it is stated that the feet of the cherubim “sparkled like the colour of burnished brass”. As the hawk flew swiftly south, it did so with a flashing brilliance, sparkling against the sun. As such, as the cherubim came sparkling from the north, it was like the hawk flying toward the south.

The Hebrew word Shaddai occurs forty-eight times in the Bible and is always translated ‘Almighty’. It is a key word in Job, occurring thirty-one times. It is used only four times in all of the prophets: once in Isaiah, once in Joel, and twice in Ezekiel. It is significant that a key word in Job, so rare in the prophets, should occur twice in Ezekiel.

Of course, Job is actually mentioned in Ezekiel: “though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD [Yahweh]” (14:14). Furthermore, the phrase “these three men” is itself taken, ironically, from the book of Job, ironic because here it refers to the three friends of Job, who were delivered as a consequence of the prayer of Job: “So these three men ceased to answer Job . . .” (32:1).

 

[Mackey’s comment: How fascinating! Bernard is perfectly correct here. The exact same Hebrew phrase (שְׁלֹשֶׁת הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה), “these three men”, is found in both Ezekiel 14:14 and Job 32:1].

 

Conclusion

 

As we have seen in this and the previous article, there are several connections between Elihu and the two prophets Elijah and Ezekiel. As well as helping us to understand the work of Elijah and Ezekiel, these comparisons also help us to see Elihu in a new light, supporting the view, in my opinion, that Elihu’s speech was vital for preparing the mind of Job for when God would speak to him.

 

Elihu may even be Ezekiel

 

 

Elihu and Ezekiel were contemporaries, both of whom referred to Job (Elihu addressed Job),

Buzites, they experienced similar awesome theophanies, and were filled with God’s spirit.

 

 

 

  1. Taking Elihu Seriously

 

Continuing firstly with the view that Elihu, far from being a pompous young upstart, was an inspired messenger of God, let us consider what Mark Block wrote about him (4th February, 2013 – full reference no longer available), in his section, “Reasons to Accept Elihu’s Speech”:

 

Many Bible interpreters disavow what Elihu has to say in the Book of Job. Below I will give a few reasons why I believe his speech to Job is true and is good theology.

 

1) God never rebukes Elihu. After God has finished speaking, He states that His wrath is upon the three other friends that gave counsel to Job. God does not include Elihu into the group of people who have not spoken rightly. (Job 42:7)

 

2) There is a break in the text to introduce him. The words of Elihu in Job 32:1-3 are not continuing what the other three friends have said, but stating something new. There is a break in the text that introduces something new. Elihu should not get lumped into the group of the other three friends with bad theology.

 

3) Six chapters are given to Elihu in the Book of Job. The writer of this Book devotes six chapters to Elihu. With much space given to Elihu, surely there is some importance to it.

 

4) Elihu shows how Job’s other friends are wrong. God also rebuked Job’s other three friends.

 

5) Elihu claims to be full of the Holy Spirit. In chapter 32 Elihu uses similar language to what Jeremiah used. He reminds me of Jeremiah saying, that the word of the Lord it is like a fire shut up in his bones. Elihu says, “For I am full of words; the spirit within me compels me. Indeed my belly is like wine that has no vent; it is ready to burst like new wine skins. I will speak, that I may find relief…”

 

6) Elihu signals Gods coming to speak. In 37:11-12 Elihu is describing a whirlwind and attributes the whirlwind to God. We see just a few verses later that God is answering Job out of the whirlwind. Verse one in chapter 38 states, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind.” Notice the writer of this book did not say “A” whirlwind. But he says, “THE” That means that there must have been a whirlwind that was taking place, that had already been mentioned previously in the Book of Job. All throughout Elihu’s speech we see him referring to nature. I believe that Elihu is referring to what was actually taking place in front of Job and his three friends. He is describing what was going on while also signaling that God is coming to speak.

 

What do you think? ….

[End of quote]

 

Well, to answer Block here, I, for my part, “think” that Elihu was definitely a Jeremiah type, a prophetic messenger sent by God, wholly aflame with the spirit of God, full of eloquence yet humble and modest, and young at the same time that Jeremiah was young.

As we read in Part One, Elihu was, like Jeremiah, enflamed with the Holy Spirit:

 

It’s pleasant to notice Elihu’s modesty and tact in entering the discussion with his elders. It says that his “wrath was kindled” against Job and the three friends. This is explained later when he talks about the constraining of the Spirit within him, so that he was “ready to burst. …. Jeremiah spoke of God’s word being “in his heart like a burning fire” and being “weary of holding it in. Indeed (he) could not” (Jeremiah 20:9).

 

But, if I should have to choose a biblical alter ego for Elihu, my preference – based on what we have read in Part One and Part Two would be for the prophet Ezekiel, rather than Jeremiah.

“Ezekiel [too] refers to this “heat of the Spirit” when the Lord had moved him to speak”.

 

  1. Can they be the same?

 

“Elihu [was the] son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram” (Job 32:2).

“Ezekiel [was] the priest, the son of Buzi …” (Ezekiel 1:3).

 

We now know that Elihu and Ezekiel were contemporaries.

 

They also have in common the rare name, Buzi: “According to Strong, “Buzi” in Ezekiel 1:3 is the same word as “Buzite” in Job 32:2. This is a rare name in Scripture. That both Elihu and Ezekiel have this name mentioned in their ancestry alerts us to look for other similarities between these two men”.

 

Ezekiel 1:3: (בּוּזִי)

Job 32:2: (הַבּוּזִי).

 

They both refer to Job:

 

Elihu says (Job 33:1): ‘But now, Job, listen to my words; pay attention to everything I say’.

Ezekiel twice has God proclaim (Ezekiel 14:14, 20): ‘… even if these three men—Noah, Daniela and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness …’.

 

And most strikingly in relation to this situation we learned that: “The exact same Hebrew phrase (שְׁלֹשֶׁת הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה), “these three men”, is found in both Ezekiel 14:14 and Job 32:1.

 

Then in Part Two, we further learned of a whole variety of parallels and links between Elihu and Ezekiel, for example: “Comparisons include whirlwinds; sitting for seven days; not speaking; and rebuking elders even though they themselves were much younger”.

 

Nigel Bernard, who had provided us with some of the best of these likenesses, did, however, distinguish “Ezekiel … “the priest, the son of Buzi”. That he was both a priest and the son of Buzi provides a link with Elihu. Malachi wrote that “the priest’s lips should keep knowledge” (2:7)” from Elihu: “Although not a priest, Elihu sought to live the spirit of these words, for he said, “my lips shall utter knowledge clearly” (Job 33:3)”.

To which I had attached this comment: “Whether or not Elihu was a priest has yet, I think, to be determined”.

The prophet Ezekiel was most definitely a priest, as is clear from 1:3: “Ezekiel the priest …”. So, in order even to consider whether or not Elihu and Ezekiel could be the same person, one would need to be able to show that Elihu’s genealogy (the only one given in the Book of Job) (32:2): “… son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram”, was Levite.

Given that this is the only reference in the Bible to the name Barachel, the task is a difficult one.

Moreover, the phrase “of the family of Ram” (מִמִּשְׁפַּחַת-רָם), has led some to the conclusion that young Elihu was an Aram(= Ram)ite, i.e., of the Syrian race.

However, the Hebrew phrase rendered here invariably refers to “family”, rather than to race.

 

Part Two: Elijah like

  

Elihu, who, as we found, is very much in the mould of the prophet Ezekiel, his contemporary – so much so that I think he may even be this Ezekiel – similarly shares some close likenesses with the ancient prophet Elijah.

 

 

Nigel Bernard, to whom I was indebted in Part One for some of the best comparisons there presented between Elihu and Ezekiel, has also likened Elihu to the celebrated prophet Elijah http://www.testimony-magazine.org/back/mar2010/bernard.pdf

 

Elihu and the prophets

 

  1. Elijah ….

 

THERE ARE several comparisons that can be made between Elihu and the prophets Elijah and Ezekiel. A consideration of these comparisons increases our understanding both of the work of the prophets and of the importance of Elihu. …. We begin by considering the similarity of the names of Elihu and Elijah.

 

Names

 

Elihu and Elijah are very similar in spelling and occur next to each other in the concordance. Their meanings are also very similar, both incorporating the Hebrew word ’el. Elihu means ‘My God is He’ and Elijah means ‘My God is Yah’.

 

 

[Comment: Similarly, according to Larry J. Waters, “The Authenticity of the Elihu Speeches in Job 32-37”, “Elihu is similar to the name Elijah”:

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/605e/64f082d89fe935e33af4d9ac86a02db0c861.pdf]

 

The proper name [אֱלִיהוּא] means “He is my God” or “My God is He.” The latter is adopted by E. W. Bullinger (The Book of Job [Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1990], 161). Elihu is similar to the name Elijah, “Yahweh is my God.” Elihu’s name bears witness to [El] as the highest God. Elihu’s name may even be “an expression of his theological program”: It is Yahweh who speaks through his speeches. Wisdom says that as it turned out, “the message epitomized in his name became an integral part of Elihu’s message to Job (e.g., 33:12-13; 34:18-19, 23, 31-32; 35:2-11; 36:26; 37:22-24)” (Thurman Wisdom, “The Message of Elihu: Job 32-37,” Biblical Viewpoint 21 [1987]: 29). Elihu’s identity is also connected with three other names, Barachel, Buz, and Ram. Elihu is therefore the only character in the book with a recorded genealogy, which “may point to his aristocratic heritage” (Robert L. Alden, Job, New American Commentary [Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 19931, 316; also see David McKenna, Job [Dallas, TX: Word, 19821,225).

 

[End of quote]

 

Whirlwind

 

The end of the record concerning both men is marked by a whirlwind. Following the closing words of Elihu it is written, “Then the LORD [Yahweh] answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said . . .” (Job 38:1). Of Elijah it is written, “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kgs. 2:11)….

 

Rain

 

Both Elihu and Elijah emphasised the role of rain in the purpose of God. In Job 36 Elihu said, “For He maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly” (vv. 27,28). In 37:6 he says, “For He saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of His strength”. And later on in the chapter Elihu says, “Also by watering He wearieth the thick cloud: He scattereth His bright cloud: and it is turned round about by His coun­sels: that they may do whatsoever He commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth. He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for His land, or for mercy” (vv. 11-13).

In 1 Kings 17:1 it is written, “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD [Yahweh] God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word”. From James 5:17,18 we learn that, not only did Elijah later pray for rain to come (which we read about in 1 Kings 18:41-45), but he had also originally prayed for the rain to stop: “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit”. Elijah would have been mindful that the Law spoke of rain being withheld if Israel sinned: “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; and then the LORD’S [Yahweh’s] wrath be kindled against you, and He shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD [Yahweh] giveth you” (Deut. 11:16,17). By praying for rain to stop and then come, Elijah was show­ing all three aspects of Elihu’s words concerning rain; how it could be used “for correction, or for His land, or for mercy”.

 

Bernard will next proceed to point out strong interconnections between Luke 12 and Elijah, and also with Elihu, before concluding this section with:

 

That Christ alludes to both the speech of Elihu and the life of Elijah in Luke 12 reflects the strong link between these two men. The way Christ also seamlessly moves between the speech of Elihu and the speech of God that follows, also provides evidence that Elihu’s words were rightly spoken.

 

Then Bernard, in his final paragraph, arrives at the conclusion that it was probably Elihu himself who actually wrote the Book of Job:

 

Last word?

 

The point was made earlier that the Scriptural record concerning both men ends with a whirl­wind. But of course this is not the last we hear of Elijah. Wherever he was taken, he was later to write a letter to Jehoram (see 2 Chron. 21:12-15). And it seems that Elijah was raised from the dead to meet with Christ at the transfiguration. It may also be the case that the whirlwind is not the last we hear of Elihu. In Job 32 Elihu says, “They were amazed, they answered no more: they left off speaking. When I had waited, (for they spake not, but stood still, and answered no more;) . . .” (vv. 15,16). These words sit a little awkwardly in his speech. This can be explained by the suggestion that Elihu was the man who wrote the book of Job and these verses are inspired words of Elihu which he inserted into the record to tell the reader how the friends reacted to him.

Elihu the Prophet, Son of Barachel the Buzite, family of Ram

  

But the anger of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram burned;

against Job his anger burned because he justified himself before God”.

 Job 32:2

 

Introduction

 

Previously in this series we considered some likenesses between Elihu and the prophet Ezekiel, which others have picked up, and the question was asked:

 

…. Can they be the same?

 

“Elihu [was the] son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram” (Job 32:2).

“Ezekiel [was] the priest, the son of Buzi …” (Ezekiel 1:3).

 

We now know that Elihu and Ezekiel were contemporaries.

 

They also have in common the rare name, Buzi: “According to Strong, “Buzi” in Ezekiel 1:3 is the same word as “Buzite” in Job 32:2. This is a rare name in Scripture. That both Elihu and Ezekiel have this name mentioned in their ancestry alerts us to look for other similarities between these two men”.

 

Ezekiel 1:3: (בּוּזִי)

Job 32:2: (הַבּוּזִי).

 

They both refer to Job:

 

Elihu says (Job 33:1): ‘But now, Job, listen to my words; pay attention to everything I say’.

Ezekiel twice has God proclaim (Ezekiel 14:14, 20): ‘… even if these three men—Noah, Daniela and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness …’.

 

And most strikingly in relation to this situation we learned that: “The exact same Hebrew phrase (שְׁלֹשֶׁת הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה), “these three men”, is found in both Ezekiel 14:14 and Job 32:1.

 

Then … we further learned of a whole variety of parallels and links between Elihu and Ezekiel, for example: “Comparisons include whirlwinds; sitting for seven days; not speaking; and rebuking elders even though they themselves were much younger”.

 

Nigel Bernard, who had provided us with some of the best of these likenesses, did, however, distinguish “Ezekiel … “the priest, the son of Buzi”. That he was both a priest and the son of Buzi provides a link with Elihu. Malachi wrote that “the priest’s lips should keep knowledge” (2:7)” from Elihu: “Although not a priest, Elihu sought to live the spirit of these words, for he said, “my lips shall utter knowledge clearly” (Job 33:3)”.

To which I had attached this comment: “Whether or not Elihu was a priest has yet, I think, to be determined”.

The prophet Ezekiel was most definitely a priest, as is clear from 1:3: “Ezekiel the priest …”. So, in order even to consider whether or not Elihu and Ezekiel could be the same person, one would need to be able to show that Elihu’s genealogy (the only one given in the Book of Job) (32:2): “… son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram”, was Levite.

Given that this is the only reference in the Bible to the name Barachel, the task is a difficult one.

Moreover, the phrase “of the family of Ram” (מִמִּשְׁפַּחַת-רָם), has led some to the conclusion that young Elihu was an Aram(= Ram)ite, i.e., of the Syrian race.

However, the Hebrew phrase rendered here invariably refers to “family”, rather than to race.

[End of quotes]

 

At this stage I had to interrupt my pursuit of an understanding of Elihu’s (Ezekiel’s?) genealogy, to write some articles reconstructing the life of the prophet Elisha, for instance:

Elisha – Terminator of Baalism in Judah

https://www.academia.edu/31437715/Elisha_Terminator_of_Baalism_in_Judah

 

 

 

which I considered to be necessary to fill in certain ancestral details (e.g. Rechabitism) pertaining to Elihu. The prophet Elisha was identified here with both Jehonadab the Rechabite – Jehu’s partner in the destruction of the northern Baalists – and with Jehoiada, the reforming priest in Jerusalem. Now, it is in this revised package:

Elisha = Jehonadab = Jehoiada,

 

that, I think, we can find crucial clues for putting together in a satisfactory manner those enigmatic biographical details associated with Elihu:

 

“… son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram”.

 

Elihu a descendant of

the prophet Elisha

 

Barachel

The priest Jehoiada, with whom I am identifying Elisha, was otherwise known as Barachiah, or Berechiah (Matthew 23:35): ‘… on you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar’.

Cf. 2 Chronicles 24:22: “King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, ‘May the LORD see this and call you to account’.”

The name Barachiah was in this case more of a title than a proper name, I suggest, stemming from (and this is where Jehonadab the Rechabite comes in) the Hebrew ben [bar] Rechab.

He was Jehonadab son of Rechab

 

וִיהוֹנָדָב בֶּן-רֵכָב

 

Appropriately, now, Elihu was “son of Barachel”. And, as we see from the following list from Abarim (http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Barachel.html#.WKTvp000N9A):

Associated Biblical names

♂Barachelברכאל

♂Baruchברוך

♂⌂Beracahברכה

♂Berechiahברכיה

♂Jeberechiahוִיהוֹנָדָב בֶּן-רֵכָב

 

the name, Barachel can be associated with Berechiah.

Barachel was not, therefore, Elihu’s direct father, but rather his famous priest-ancestor, Berechiah (= Jehoiada), who I am saying was the prophet Elisha himself.

This would mean that Elihu of the Book of Job was actually a priest, thereby strengthening my hopeful equation of Elihu with “Ezekiel the priest …” (Ezekiel 1:3), who was, according to the same verse, “the son of Buzi”. I take this to be, as in the case of Elihu, a geographical indicator – that Elisha was from the land of Buz, not that Ezekiel’s father was called “Buzi”.

 

Buzite

Was Elisha (Barachel) geographically a Buzite?

Unfortunately it is difficult to be definitive about this because geographical details are, at this present stage of our knowledge, somewhat uncertain. Whilst we know from I Kings 19:16, for instance, that “Elisha … [was] from Abel-Meholah ….”, we do not encounter certainty as to the location of this place.

It is frequently described as being “unknown”.

Saint Jerome gave its location as about ten Roman miles south of Beth-Shean: http://bibleatlas.org/abel-meholah.htm

According to this latest find (https://claudemariottini.com/2013/07/25/have-archaeologists-discovered-elishas-house/):

 

“… archaeologists have discovered the remains of a house that probably was the house where the prophet Elisha lived. The Bible says that the prophet Elisha was the son of Shaphat and lived in the Israelite city of Abel-meholah (1 Kings 19:16). Elisha was a disciple and the successor of the prophet Elijah. The building that archaeologists believe was the house where the prophet Elisha lived was discovered at the site of Tel Rehov, a few miles from Abel-meholah.

According to the Institute of Archaeology of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Rehov was “the location of the largest ancient Canaanite and Israelite site in the Beth-Shean Valley and one of the largest tels in the Holy Land.” The site was occupied in the 10th-9th centuries B.C. during the reigns of David and Solomon and during the reigns of Omri and Ahab.

During the excavations at Tel Rehov, archeologists found a broken piece of pottery with an inscription written in red ink with the name “Elisha.”

[End of quote]

 

Others place it “east of the Jordan River”: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/abel-meholah

For instance, “Abel Meholah in Gilead” http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/p158.htm

 

The matter is further complicated by uncertainty as to the location of the “land of Buz”. However, it is commonly associated with the land of Uz (Job’s home), which land we have determined, in:

 

A Common Sense Geography of the Book of Tobit

https://www.academia.edu/8675202/A_Common_Sense_Geography_of_the_Book_of_Tobit

 

to have been the fertile Hauran valley region of Bashan.

 

King Esarhaddon of Assyria mentions both lands, Uz and Buz, his Ḫazû and Bazû, with the latter being 75 miles further (reckoning from Nineveh), according to F. Delitzsch. See e.g.: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3156857?seq=3#page_scan_tab_contents

An “Abel Meholah in Gilead”, bordering on Bashan, would appear to be a suitable scenario. “The limits of Bashan are very strictly defined. It extended from the “border of Gilead …”.”

http://www.bible-history.com/geography/ancient-israel/ot/bashan.html

A location in Gilead would mean that the prophet Elisha hailed from the same land as did “Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead …” (I Kings 17:1), with whom Elisha was a very close acquaintance – he being Elijah’s chosen disciple.

 

Family of Ram

 

Despite the difficulties that commentators have had in explaining Elihu’s “family of Ram” – e.g. does “Ram” stand for Aram (Syrian)? – I think that we can be quite clear about its meaning now in light of the fact that our Barachel (Jehoiada), great ancestor of Elihu, was married to the daughter of king Jehoram (Ram) of Judah. She was Jehosheba (2 Kings 11:2):

 

But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed.

 

 

 

 

Elihu’s “Ram”, then, must refer to Jeho-Ram, indicating Elihu’s royal connections through his ancestor, the priest Jehoiada (var. Barachel/Elisha).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Persian History has no adequate Archaeology

Image result for persian rule of babylon

 by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

“The very existence of a Median empire, with the emphasis on empire, is thus

questionable” (H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, “Was there ever a Median Empire?”, in

  1. Kuhrt, H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, eds., Achaemenid History III. Method and

Theory, Leiden, 1988, p. 212).

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Professor Gunnar Heinsohn (University of Bremen) and Emmet Sweeney, historical revisionists, have, in recent times, arrived at some startling conclusions about ancient history – some of these warranting further critical examination, whilst other of their views appear to me to be extreme and well wide of the mark. In order to account for an apparent lack of due stratigraphy for, say, the Mitannians, or the neo-Assyrians, or the Medo-Persians, this pair (not always in perfect agreement) will attempt to merge any one of these with a far earlier kingdom, for instance, the ancient Akkadians to be merged as one with the neo-Assyrians. Lester Mitcham, however, was able to expose Sweeney’s choices for comparisons using firm archaeological data in his article, “Support for Heinsohn’s Chronology is Misplaced” (SIS Chronology and Catastrophism Workshop, No 1, May 1988).

The Akkadians and the neo-Assyrians were found to be two quite distinct peoples, well-separated in time, and speaking and writing quite different languages.

Mitcham demonstrated similarly the archaeological impossibility of Heinsohn’s and Sweeney’s bold efforts to fuse the Old Babylonian Dynasty of Hammurabi with the Persians – King Hammurabi supposedly being the same as Darius the Great.

Once again, different peoples, different geographies, different times.

Heinsohn and Sweeney do, however, have some degree of support for their argument that the Persian Empire, as classically presented, is seriously lacking in due archaeological strata. Heinsohn, in his far-reaching “The Restoration of Ancient History” (http://www.mikamar.biz/symposium/heinsohn.txt), refers to the results of some conferences in the 1980’s pointing to difficulties regarding the extent of the Medo-Persian empires:

 

In the 1980’s, a series of eight major conferences brought together the world’s finest experts on the history of the Medish and Persian empires. They reached startling results. The empire of Ninos [pre-Alexander period (3)] was not even mentioned. Yet, its Medish successors were extensively dealt with-to no great avail. In 1988, one of the organizers of the eight conferences, stated the simple absence of an empire of the Medes [pre-Alexander period (2)]: “A Median oral tradition as a source for Herodotus III is a hypothesis that solves some problems, but has otherwise little to recommend it … This means that not even in Herodotus’ Median history a real empire is safely attested. In Assyrian and Babylonian records and in the archeological evidence no vestiges of an imperial structure can be found. The very existence of a Median empire, with the emphasis on empire, is thus questionable” (H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, “Was there ever a Median Empire?”, in A. Kuhrt, H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, eds., Achaemenid History III. Method and Theory, Leiden, 1988, p. 212).

 

Two years later came the really bewildering revelation. Humankind’s first world empire of the Persians [Pre-Alexander Period (1)] did not fare much better than the Medes. Its imperial dimensions had dryly to be labelled “elusive” (H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, “The quest for an elusive empire?”, in H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, A. Kuhrt, eds., Achaemenid History IV. Centre and Periphery, Leiden l990, p. 264).

 

Xerxes something of a ‘Ghost’

 

 

This series considers what has worked, and what has not, in attempts so far to revise Medo-Persian history, by shortening it, so that it may the better accord with the dearth of archaeological strata.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Professor Gunnar Heinsohn (University of Bremen) had put forward a most controversial ‘solution’ to account for the problems of Medo-Persian archaeology by attempting to identify the Persians with the Old Babylonian Dynasty of Hammurabi – Darius ‘the Great’ being Hammurabi himself.

More recently (2002) Emmet Sweeney, who has been a supporter of Heinsohn, has sought to fuse the Persians with the neo-Assyrians and neo-Babylonians, so that, for instance, Cyrus the Great is to be identified with Tiglath-pileser III; Xerxes with Sennacherib; and Artaxerxes III with Nebuchednezzar II ‘the Great’. In the following passage, in which he claims to be following Heinsohn, Sweeney refers again to the archaeological problem associated with the Persian Empire (“Did Artaxerxes III Despoil the Temple in Jerusalem?”, C and C Review, 2002:2, p. 15):

 

A fundamental principle of Gunnar Heinsohn’s work is that the so-called Neo-Assyrians must be identical to the Persians. Heinsohn was forced to that conclusion for a very simple reason: Mesopotamia could provide little or no archaeology for two centuries during which it was part of the Achaemenid Empire. Indeed the absence of Persian strata is so complete that some modern scholars, most notably Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg of the Netherlands, have come to doubt the very existence of a Persian Empire …. This Persian disappearing act constitutes more or less a ‘dark age’ in the historiography of the ancient Near East.

[End of quote]

 

 

Some of the so-called Persian Kings

were semi-legendary, and composite

 

The mighty king, Xerxes, favoured by various commentators to represent “Ahasuerus”, the Great King of the Book of Esther, is most likely a composite character, a mix of real Assyrian and Medo-Persian kings. Here, for instance, we consider his likenesses to Sennacherib as pointed out by Emmet Sweeney.

 

 

The name ‘Xerxes’ is thought by historians to accord extremely well linguistically with “Ahasuerus”, the name of the Great King of the Book of Esther.

There are several kings “Ahasuerus” in the (Catholic) Bible: in Tobit; in Esther; in Ezra; and in Daniel.

 

As Cyaxares

 

The one in Tobit is usually considered to refer to the Cyaxares who conquered Nineveh. See e.g. my:

 

“Ahasuerus” in Book of Tobit

 

https://www.academia.edu/24959960/_Ahasuerus_in_Book_of_Tobit

 

“But before [Tobias] died, he heard of the destruction of Nineveh, which was taken by Nebuchadnezzar and Ahasuerus; and before his death he rejoiced over Nineveh”. (Tobit 14:15)

 

and:

 

“Ahasuerus” in Book of Tobit. Part Two: The Name “Ahasuerus”

 

https://www.academia.edu/24960471/_Ahasuerus_in_Book_of_Tobit._Part_Two_The_Name_Ahasuerus_

 

in which I discuss the name, “Ahasuerus”.

Cyaxares, again, is probably the “Ahasuerus” mentioned as the father of Darius the Mede in Daniel 9:1: “It was the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus, who became king of the Babylonians”.

 

As Cyrus

 

The “Ahasuerus” in Esther I have identified as Darius the Mede/Cyrus:

 

“King Ahasuerus” of Book of Esther

 

https://www.academia.edu/24698880/_King_Ahasuerus_of_Book_of_Esther

 

and, likewise, the “Ahasuerus” in Ezra:

 

The names, Xerxes, Ahasuerus, Cyaxares and Cyrus are all fairly compatible.

 

 

Comparisons with Sennacherib

 

Emmet Sweeney has done the work here, providing some striking parallels between the known historical Assyrian king, Sennacherib (C8th BC), and the historically far shakier, ‘Xerxes’. http://www.emmetsweeney.net/article-directory/item/58-xerxes-and-sennacherib.html

 

… In Ramessides, Medes and Persians I outlined detailed reasons for identifying Tiglath-Pileser III with Cyrus, Shalmaneser V with Cambyses, and Sargon II with Darius I. The striking correspondences in the lives of all of these, repeated generation for generation in parallel sequence, made it increasingly unlikely that the identifications could be mistaken. Yet even one striking mismatch could potentially invalidate the whole scheme. I then came to the next “pairing” – Sennacherib with Xerxes. Would these two also show clear-cut and convincing correspondences?

A random search of the internet produces the following for Xerxes and Sennacherib: “Like the Persian Xerxes, he [Sennacherib] was weak and vainglorious, cowardly under reverse, and cruel and boastful in success.” (WebBible Encyclopedia at www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/sennacherib.html). The writer of these words did not suspect any connection between the two kings, much less that they were the same person. Nevertheless, the similarities between them were so compelling that one apparently brought the other to mind.

The writer’s instincts, I shall argue, did not betray him. The lives and careers of Xerxes and Sennacherib were so similar that were the thesis presented in these pages not proffered, scholars must wonder at the astounding parallels between the two.

One of Xerxes’ first actions as king was an invasion of Egypt, which had thrown off the Persian yoke shortly after Darius’ defeat at the hands of the Greeks. This reconquest of Egypt was said to have taken place in Xerxes’ second year. Similarly, one of the first actions of Sennacherib was a campaign against Egypt and her Palestinian and Syrian allies. This war against Egypt took place in Sennacherib’s third year. The Assyrian inscriptions inform us how Hezekiah of Judah had rebelled and sought the assistance of the kings of Egypt (and) the bowmen, the chariot (-corps) and the cavalry of the king of Ethiopia (Meluhha), an army beyond counting — and they (actually) had come to their assistance. In the plain of Eltekeh (Al-ta-qu-u), their battle lines were drawn up against me and they sharpened their weapons.… I fought with them and inflicted a defeat upon them. In the melee of the battle, I personally captured alive the Egyptian charioteers with the(ir) princes and (also) the charioteers of the king of Ethiopia. (J. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (Princeton, 1950) pp. 287-8).

Hezekiah was besieged, but not captured. Nevertheless, the outcome of this campaign was a complete victory for Sennacherib. Hezekiah sent tribute to the Great King:

Hezekiah himself, whom the terror-inspiring glamour of my lordship had overwhelmed and whose irregular and elite troops which he had brought into Jerusalem, his royal residence, in order to strengthen (it), had deserted him, did send me, later, to Nineveh, my lordly city, together with 30 talents of gold, 800 talents of silver, precious stones, antimony, large cuts of red stone … all kinds of valuable treasures, his (own) daughters, concubines, male and female musicians. In order to deliver the tribute and to do obeisance as a slave he sent his (personal) messenger.

Hezekiah would scarcely have sent this tribute to Sennacherib had his Egyptian allies not been totally defeated, a circumstance which has made many scholars suspect that he actually entered Egypt after his defeat of its army on the plain of Eltekeh. (See eg. A. T. Olmstead, History of Assyria (1923) pp. 308-9). This supposition is supported by the fact that Sennacherib described himself as “King of the Four Quarters,” a term which, as stated above, traditionally implied authority over Magan and Meluhha (Egypt), regarded as the western-most “quarter” or edge of the world. It is also supported by both classical and Hebrew tradition. Thus Herodotus spoke of Sennacherib advancing against Egypt with a mighty army and camping at Pelusium, near the north-eastern frontier (Herodotus, iii, 141), whilst Berossus, who wrote a history of Chaldea, said that Sennacherib had conducted an expedition against “all Asia and Egypt.” (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities X, i,4). Jewish tradition goes further and tells of the conquest of Egypt by the king and of his march towards Ethiopia. “Sennacherib was forced to stop his campaign against Hezekiah for a short time, as he had to move hurriedly against Ethiopia. Having conquered this ‘pearl of all countries’ he returned to Judea.” (L. Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia, 1920) Vol. VI p. 365). Talmudic sources also relate that after conquering Egypt, Sennacherib carried away from there the throne of Solomon. (Ibid. Vol. IV, p. 160)

Sennacherib’s second campaign against Egypt, not recorded in the Assyrian inscriptions, had, as is well-known, a much less favorable outcome for the Great King.

The greatest event of Xerxes’ reign was of course his momentous defeat in Greece. The story of his invasion is recorded in detail by the Greek authors, most particularly by Herodotus, and it is clear that Xerxes’ failure to overcome the Hellenes represented the great watershed in Achaemenid history. From that point on the Persian Empire entered a period of prolonged decline.

Strange then that of all the wars waged by Sennacherib, the only opponents who are said to have come near to defeating him were the Ionian Greeks. In one well-known passage Berossus tells of a fierce battle between Sennacherib and the Ionians of Cilicia. (H. R. Hall, The Ancient History of the Near East (London, 1913) p. 487). The Greeks, he says, were routed after a hard-fought hand-to-hand struggle.

The most important event of Xerxes’ latter years was without doubt his defeat of yet another Babylonian rebellion. Although our sources are somewhat vague, it would appear that there were in fact two rebellions in Babylon during the time of Xerxes, the first of which occurred in his second year, and was led by Bel-shimanni, and the second some time later led by Shamash-eriba.

How peculiar then that Sennacherib too should face two major rebellions in Babylon, the first of which came within three years or so of his succession, and was led by Bel-ibni. (C. H. W. Johns, Ancient Babylonia (London, 1913) p. 120). Rebellion number two came some years later and was led by Mushezib-Marduk. This second rebellion, one might guess, was one of the consequences of the Persian defeat in Greece, and there seems little doubt that Mushezib-Marduk of the Assyrian records and monuments is Shamash-eriba of the Persian.

Both Xerxes and Sennacherib were relatively mild in their treatment of the Babylonians after the first rebellion. However, after the second insurrection both kings subjected the city to massive destruction. But the parallels do not end there. Xerxes’ terrible punishment of Babylon was partly in revenge for the Babylonians’ murder of his satrap. (Brian Dicks, The Ancient Persians: How they Lived and Worked (1979) p. 46).

Similarly, Sennacherib’s destruction of Babylon after the second insurrection was largely in vengeance for the Babylonians’ kidnap and murder of his brother Ashur-nadin-shum, whom he had made viceroy of the city. (C. H. W. Johns, op cit. pp. 121-2). Xerxes tore down the walls of Babylon, massacred its citizens, destroyed its temples, and seized the sacred golden statue of Bel. (Brian Dicks, op cit). In the same way, Sennacherib razed the city walls and temples, massacred the people, and carried off the sacred statue of Marduk. (C. H. W. Johns, op cit. p. 122). Bel and Marduk were one and the same; and the name was often written Bel-Marduk. In memory of the awful destruction wrought by Sennacherib, the Babylonian Chronicle and the Ptolemaic Canon define the eight years that followed as “kingless.” The city, it is held, suffered no such catastrophe again until the time of Xerxes, supposedly two centuries later.

Xerxes’ despoliation of Babylon is generally believed to have been accompanied by his suppression of the Babylonian gods, and it is assumed that his famous inscription recording the outlawing of the daevas, or foreign gods, in favor of Ahura Mazda, was part of the general response to the second Babylonian uprising:

And among these countries (in rebellion) there was one where, previously, daevas had been worshipped. Afterward, through Ahura Mazda’s favor, I destroyed this sanctuary of daevas and proclaimed. “Let daevas not be worshipped!” There, where daevas had been worshipped before, I worshipped Ahura Mazda.

How peculiar then that Sennacherib too should be accused of outlawing the Babylonian gods, especially Marduk, in favor of Ashur as part of his response to a second Babylonian rebellion? “A political-theological propaganda campaign was launched to explain to the people that what had taken place [the destruction of Babylon and despoliation of Bel-Marduk’s shrine] was in accord with the wish of most of the gods. A story was written in which Marduk, because of a transgression, was captured and brought before a tribunal. Only a part of the commentary to this botched piece of literature is extant.”

(http://www.chn-net.com/timeline/assyria_study.html).

Nevertheless, it is clear that Sennacherib tried to “depose” or even “outlaw” Marduk. Thus we find that, “Even the great poem of the creation of the world, the Enuma elish, was altered: the god Marduk was replaced by the god Ashur.” (Ibid.)

 

To summarize, then, consider the following:

 

SENNACHERIB XERXES
Made war on Egypt in his third year, and fought a bitter war against the Greeks shortly thereafter. Made war on Egypt in his second year, and fought a bitter war against the Greeks shortly thereafter.
Suppressed two major Babylonian rebellions. The first, in his second year, was led by Bel-Shimanni. The second, years later, was led by Shamash-eriba. Suppressed two major Babylonian rebellions. The first, in his third year, was led by Bel-ibni. The second, years later, was led by Mushezib-Marduk.
The Babylonians were well-treated after the first rebellion, but savagely repressed after the second, when they captured and murdered Sennacherib’s viceroy, his own brother Ashur-nadin-shum. The Babylonians were well-treated after the first rebellion, but savagely repressed after the second, when they captured and murdered Xerxes’ satrap.
After the second rebellion, Sennacherib massacred the inhabitants, razed the city walls and temples, and carried off the golden stature of Marduk. Thereafter the Babylonian gods were suppressed in favour of Ashur, who was made the supreme deity. After the second rebellion, Xerxes massacred the inhabitants, razed the city walls and temples, and carried off the golden stature of Bel-Marduk. Thereafter the Babylonian gods were suppressed in favour of Ahura-Mazda, who was made the supreme deity.

 

The parallels between Xerxes and Sennacherib are thus among the closest between an Achaemenid and a Neo-Assyrian. Yet even now we are not finished. There is yet one more striking comparison between the two monarchs, a comparison so compelling and so identical in the details that this one alone, even without the others, would be enough to demand an identification.

Xerxes died after a reign of 21 years (compare with Sennacherib’s 22) in dramatic circumstances, murdered in a palace conspiracy apparently involving at least one of his sons. Popular tradition has it that the real murderer of Xerxes was Artabanus, the captain of his guard, and that this man then put the blame on Darius, eldest son of the murdered king. Whatever the truth, it is clear that Artaxerxes, the crown prince, pointed the finger at Darius, who was immediately arrested and executed. (Percy Sykes, A History of Ancient Persia Vol. 1 (London, 1930) pp. 213-4). It is said that Artabanus then plotted to murder Artaxerxes, but that the conspiracy was uncovered by Megabyzus. No sooner had Artabanus been removed than Hystaspes, another elder brother of Artaxerxes, rose in rebellion. The young king then led his forces into Bactria and defeated the rebel in two battles. (Ibid., p. 124)

Of the above information, one feature is most unusual: the eldest son, Darius, who was not the crown prince, was accused of the murder by the crown prince Artaxerxes, who then had him hunted down and killed.

The death of Sennacherib compares very well with that of Xerxes. He too was murdered in a palace conspiracy involving some of his sons. But as with the death of Xerxes, there has always been much rumor and myth, though little solid fact, in evidence. The biblical Book of Kings names Adrammelech and Sharezer, two of Sennacherib’s sons, as the killers (2 Kings 19:37). An inscription of Esarhaddon, the crown prince at the time, clearly puts the blame on his eldest brother, whom he hunted down and killed. Two other brothers are also named in complicity. (A. T. Olmstead, A History of Assyria (1923) p. 338).

In spite of Esarhaddon’s clear statement, there has always been much confusion about the details — so much so that some have even implicated Esarhaddon himself in the deed. In view of such a level of confusion, the detailed discussion of the question by Professor Simo Parpola, in 1980, was sorely needed and long overdue. Employing commendable reasoning, Parpola demonstrated how a little-understood Babylonian text revealed the identity of the culprit, Arad-Ninlil. (R. Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters, Vol. XI (Chicago, 1911) No. 1091). A sentence of the document reads, “Thy son Arad-Ninlil is going to kill thee.” The latter name should properly, according to Parpola, be read as Arda-Mulissi (identical to Adrammelech of 2 Kings). Motivation for the murder, said Parpola, was not difficult to find. After the capture and probable death at the hands of the Elamites of Sennacherib’s eldest son and heir-designate, Ashur-nadin-sumi, the “second-eldest son, Arda-Mulissi, now has every reason to expect to be the next crown prince; however, he is outmaneuvered from this position in favor of Esarhaddon, another son of Sennacherib. This one is younger than Arda-Mulissi but becomes the favourite son of Sennacherib thanks to his mother Naqia … Eventually, Esarhaddon is officially proclaimed crown prince.” (Prof. Simo Parpola, “Death in Mesopotamia” XXVIeme Rencontre Assyriologique International,e ed. Prof. Bendt Alster, (Akademisk Forlag, 1980)).

We need hardly go beyond that for a motive. It is not clear whether Arda-Mulissi personally delivered the death blow; it seems that one of his captains was responsible.

Of this death then we note the same unusual feature. The king was murdered by or on the orders of his eldest son, who was not however the crown prince. The eldest son was then pursued and executed by a younger son, who was the crown prince. The parallels with the death of Xerxes are precise. In both cases also a second brother is named in complicity, as well as various other conspirators. In both cases too the murder was not actually carried out by the prince but by a fellow conspirator; in the case of Xerxes by Artabanus, commander of the guard, and in the case of Sennacherib by a man named Ashur-aha-iddin — a namesake of Esarhaddon. And this calls attention to yet one more parallel. In both the murder of Xerxes and Sennacherib, the crown prince himself has repeatedly been named as a suspect. Thus the Encyclopedia Britannica has Artaxerxes I placed on the throne by Xerxes’ murderer, Artabanus, (Encyclopaedia Britannica Vol. 1 (15th ed.) p. 598) whilst Parpola refers to the common suspicion that Esarhaddon had a part in his father’s death.

Such striking similarities, when placed along with the multitude of other parallels between the two kings’ lives, leave little doubt that we are on the right track. ….

[End of quote]

 

This works much better than any hopeful connection with the dynasty of King Hammurabi of Babylon.

It is necessary to consider ‘Xerxes’ as a ‘ghost’, a made up king based on (at least in part) a real neo-Assyrian ruler, Sennacherib.

 

Artaxerxes III ‘Ochus’

 

 

“By his own efforts and with the aid of such Greek generals as Mentor and Phocio of Athens, Artaxerxes thus revived the old empire of Darius. The order of the state was restored, its apparatus reorganized, the central power strengthened. Artaxerxes was energetic and restless, crafty and strong-minded. He is called cruel and violent (Diodorus 17.5.3; Plutarch, Artoxerxes 26.1) but also a fair judge (Diodorus 16.49.6)”.

 

Introduction

 

Did Artaxerxes III really ‘revive the old Persian empire’, or was ‘he’, too, like ‘Xerxes’ (Part Two), a composite ‘ghost’ figure recalling real Mesopotamian/Medo-Persian kings?

 

The point of this series has been to try to account for the worrying lack of archaeological strata for the Medo-Persian kingdom, especially in its relation to the city of Babylon.

Conventionally, the Medo-Persian rule is considered to have endured for some three centuries:

 

 

My opinion, though, is that it was nowhere near that lengthy, and that some (if not most) of the Medo-Persian kings are duplicates.

Babylon really comes into calculations at the time of Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian. However, if I am correct in – {following other scholars} – identifying Darius the Mede as Cyrus:

 

Darius the Mede “Received the Kingdom”

 

https://www.academia.edu/24307028/Darius_the_Mede_Received_the_Kingdom_

 

then this would immediately cut out any purely Median archaeology for Babylon.

But how to account for the lack of Persian stratigraphy?

Well, we have read in this series that Cyrus the Great was known by various names, apart form Darius, including the names “Ahasuerus” and “Artaxerxes”. The multiple kings Darius and Artaxerxes will thus need to be reconsidered, with the possibility of at least some of these being duplicates of Cyrus.

The legendary Xerxes (a name that we found to be compatible with “Ahasuerus”) is, in part, based upon the powerful neo-Assyrian king, Sennacherib, whom I have also identified as Sargon II:

 

Assyrian King Sargon II, Otherwise Known As Sennacherib

 

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

 

We are now going to find that Artaxerxes III, considered to be a mighty Persian king, is heavily based upon the neo-Babylonian Great king, Nebuchednezzar II. This Artaxerxes III is thought to have reigned for about two decades during the mid-C4th BC. He is conventionally presented as follows (http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/artaxerxes-iii-throne-name-of-ochus-gk):

 

ARTAXERXES III, throne name of Ochus (Gk. Ôchos, Babylonian Ú-ma-kuš, son of Artaxerxes II and Stateira), Achaemenid king (r. 359-58 to 338-37 B.C.). About 361 he took part in a campaign against Egypt, then in rebellion under her king Tachos, and obtained that king’s surrender (Georgius Syncellus 1.486.20ff. D.). The fact that the Satraps’ Revolt, which he helped put down, was not quite ended may account for the lack of uniformity regarding the date of Artaxerxes’ accession. That event is dated to year 390 of the Babylonian Nabonassar era (beginning in November, 359 B.C.), but Polyaenus (7.17) states that he concealed his father’s death for 10 months, so that his official reign may only have begun in 358-57. On becoming king, he did away with his brothers, sisters, and other possible rivals (Justin 10.3.1; cf. Curtius Rufus 10.5.23, claiming that 80 brothers were murdered in one day).

 

Artaxerxes III’s objective was to consolidate royal authority and to terminate the revolts which threatened to break up the empire. He seems to have first made war on the rebel Cadusii in Media Atropatene (Justin 10.3.2); in the hard and successful fighting, Codomannus, the later Darius III, distinguished himself (Diodorus 17.6.1; Justin 10.3.3-4). Then a major campaign (ca. 356-52) was directed against such western satraps as Artabazus and Orontes who had rebelled against his father; these were now commanded to dismiss their Greek mercenaries (scholium to Demosthenes 4.19). The reconquest of Egypt was also to be carried through. Details of the campaign are unclear, but some success was achieved. Orontes was subdued, while Artabazus, banished, sought refuge with Philip of Macedonia (Diodorus 16.22.1-2, 34.1-2; Demosthenes 14.31). With the Satraps’ Revolt ended, Persian rule over Asia Minor and Phoenicia was again consolidated. Artaxerxes had acted resolutely; he obtained by threat of war the compliance of Athens, whose general, Chares, had first supported Artabazus (Diodorus 16.34.1). Actual restoration of order was accomplished by the king’s generals, especially Mentor of Rhodes, while Artaxerxes was preoccupied with Egypt (Ps.-Aristoteles, Oeconomica 2.2.28; Diodorus 16.52.1-8). For the generals’ campaign against Egypt had failed; and before the king’s massive new preparations were completed, a new revolt broke out in Syria, Phoenicia, and Cyprus in 351 which was aided by the Egyptian King Nectanebus. The rebels, led by Tennes of Sidon, were fought with indifferent success (Diodorus 16.40.5-42.9) by Idrieus (satrap of Caria), Mazaeus (of Cilicia), and Belesys (of Syria). Artaxerxes then led a large force from Babylon to Syria and soon restored matters. The rich Phoenician town of Sidon, the revolt’s center, was betrayed by King Tennes, and then destroyed by a fire set by the besieged Sidonians themselves (Diodorus 16.43.1-45.6; Pompeius Trogus, Prologus 10; Orosius 3.7.8; Georgius Syncellus 1.486.16 D.). Other towns of Phoenicia and Palestine then submitted. The expeditions of the generals Bagoas and Orophernes and the deportations of Jews ordered by Artaxerxes (Syncellus 1.486.10ff. D.) may be combined with the events recorded in the Book of Judith.

 

About 346-45 B.C. the king marched on Egypt. The citadels of Pelusium and Bubastis in the Nile delta were taken and by 343 the reconquest had been achieved, ending 65 years of Egyptian independence. (A seal has been interpreted as depicting this event; see J. Junge, Saka-Studien, Leipzig, 1939, pp. 63-64 n. 4.) One Pherendates was appointed satrap (Diodorus 16.46.4-51.3), while Nectanebus fled south to Nubia to maintain an independent kingdom. The Persians plundered and sacked extensively (Diodorus 16.51.2; Aelian, Varia historia 4.8, 6.8), and Egyptians were reportedly carried off to Persia. Consequently the king was vehemently hated by the Egyptians; they identified him with the ass to which he had sacrificed the Apis Bull (Aclian, 4.8).

 

Artaxerxes’ relations with the Greeks and Macedonians varied. Although there were occasional clashes (especially during the Satraps’ Revolt), the king sought the friendship of Athens, Sparta, and Macedonia, and he was the object of both fear and esteem (for Athens, see Demosthenes 14.7, 25, 31). In about 351 B.C. the king invited Athens and Sparta to join in a campaign he planned against Egypt; both declined but assured him of their friendship (Diodorus 16.44.1); Thebes and the Argives, however, sent him auxiliary troops (ibid., 44.2, 46.4). The first contact noted between Artaxerxes and Macedonia is a treaty of friendship with Philip II (Arrian, Anabasis 2.14.2); its details are not known. The Persian king seems to have observed it, for an Athenian legation seeking help against Philip returned empty handed (Demosthenes 9.71 ). Eventually, when Philip attacked the town of Perinthus, which dominated the Sea of Marmora, Artaxerxes perceived Philip’s real intention and intervened by sending troops into Thrace (Diodorus 16.75.1; Arrian, Anabasis 2.14.5). Alexander later pointed to this as a motive for his campaign of revenge.

 

By his own efforts and with the aid of such Greek generals as Mentor and Phocio of Athens, Artaxerxes thus revived the old empire of Darius. The order of the state was restored, its apparatus reorganized, the central power strengthened. Artaxerxes was energetic and restless, crafty and strong-minded. He is called cruel and violent (Diodorus 17.5.3; Plutarch, Artoxerxes 26.1) but also a fair judge (Diodorus 16.49.6). A token of his revival was the renewed building activity at Persepolis. The king erected a palace on the southwest part of the terrace, as is attested by his inscription A3Pa on a stairway (Kent, Old Persian, p. 156; F. H. Weissbach, Die Keilinsehriften der Achämeniden, Leipzig, 1911, pp. 128-29). An Akkadian tablet inscription has been found at Susa (“A3Sa,” ed. V. Scheil in MMAP XXI, 1929, pp. 99-100 no. 30).

 

Artaxerxes was married to a daughter of his sister (her name is read conjecturally in Valerius Maximus 9.2., ext. 7; see Justi, Namenbuch, p. 341 b) and to a daughter of Oxathres, brother of the later Darius III (Curtius Rufus 3.13.13). The latter, with three of Artaxerxes’ daughters, was captured by Alexander after the battle of Issus. The youngest of these, Parysatis, was later married to Alexander (Arrian, Annbasis 7.4.4). Also captured in the course of events was a granddaughter of Artaxerxes, who had been the wife of Hystaspes (Curtius Rufus 6.2.7-8). Of the king’s sons, only two are known by name. Arses, the youngest, succeeded his father but survived only for about two years. Bisthanes came to meet Alexander in 330 (Arrian, Anabasis 3.19.4). All the others are said to have been murdered by the Egyptian-born chiliarch, Bagoas, after poisoned the king himself in his palace intrigues (Diodorus 17.5.4; cf. Aelian 6.8 and Syncellus 1.486.14f. D.). Bagoas undoubtedly sought to be a kingmaker, but the premature death of Artaxerxes was a serious misfortune for the Persian kingdom. ….

 

[End of quote]

 

Emmet Sweeney has again (as with his Sennacherib = Xerxes) discerned some striking parallels between a Mesopotamian king, in this case Nebuchednezzar II, and a supposed Persian king, Artaxerxes III.

Emmet has written (and I do not accept any other of his Mesopotamian-Persian identifications) (http://www.hyksos.org/index.php?title=Artaxerxes_III_and_Nebuchadrezzar&oldid=4194):

 

Artaxerxes III and Nebuchadrezzar

 

In my Ramessides, Medes and Persians (Algora, 2007), I argued in detail that the rulers known to history as the Neo-Assyrians and Neo-Babylonians were in fact Great Kings of the Persians under the guise of Mesopotamians. There I demonstrated how the Neo-Assyrian Tiglath-Pileser III had to be identified with Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid line, and that the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian monarchs who followed could be identified, point by point, with the Achaemenid kings who followed Cyrus. Thus Cambyses, who reigned only six years and campaigned in the direction of Egypt, sounds like Shalmaneser V, who reigned just over seven years and similarly campaigned in the direction of Egypt. Cambyses’ successor, Darius I, was not his son; and with him a new epoch of the Persian monarchy began. In the same way, Shalmaneser V’s successor Sargon II was not his son, and with the latter there began a new age of the Assyrian monarchy. The parallels continue line by line and reign by reign, and may be schematically represented thus:

Neo-Assyrian and Achaemenid Parallels

TIGLATH-PILESER III

Was the founder of a new dynasty and not the son of the previous king of Assyria. During his time Assyrian power reached the borders of Egypt. Ruled Babylon and “took the hand of Bel.”

 

CYRUS

Was the founder of a new dynasty and not the son of the previous king of Persia. During his time Persian power reached the borders of Egypt. Conquered Babylon and “took the hand of Bel.”

SHALMANESER V

Reigned only six years. Campaigned in the direction of Egypt.

CAMBYSES

Reigned seven and a half years. Conquered Egypt.

SARGON II

Was a usurper and not the son of the preceding king. Described himself as King of the Four Quarters, implying rule from Magan (Egypt) to Dilmun (India). Defeated a major insurrection in Babylon led by Merodach-Baladan (III). Boasted of expelling the Ionians (Jaman) from their island homes.

DARIUS I

Was a usurper and not the son of the preceding king. Described himself as King of the Four Quarters, ruling from Egypt to India. Defeated a major insurrection in Babylon led by Nebuchadrezzar (III). Cleared the Ionian islands of their inhabitants.

SENNACHERIB

Reigned 22 years. Defeated two major insurrections in Babylon and destroyed the city after the second. Thereafter suppressed the Babylonian deities in favor of Ashur, who was elevated to the position of supreme god. Was murdered in a palace conspiracy involving at least one of his sons.

XERXES

Reigned 21 years. Defeated two major insurrections in Babylon and destroyed the city after the second. Thereafter suppressed the Babylonian deities in favor of Ahura Mazda, who was elevated to the position of supreme god. Was murdered in a palace conspiracy involving at least one of his sons.

ESARHADDON

Was not the eldest son of Sennacherib, but was appointed crown-prince through the influence of his powerful mother Naqia, who dominated her son. Had to suppress a series of rebellions in Egypt and appointed Egyptian potentates with names like Necho and Psamtek. Began rebuilding Babylon.

ARTAXERXES I

Was not the eldest son of Xerxes, but was appointed crown-prince through the influence of his powerful mother Amestris, who dominated her son. Had to suppress a series of rebellion in Egypt and appointed Egyptian potentates with names like Necho and Psamtek. Began rebuilding Babylon.

ASHURBANIPAL

Was not the original crown-prince, but was appointed to rule after the death of his brother Sin-iddin-apla. Faced rebellions in Egypt, where he honored a prince named Wenamon. During his time Assyrian control of Egypt began to weaken.

DARIUS II

Was not the original crown-prince, but was appointed to rule after the death of his brother Xerxes II. Faced rebellions in Egypt, where he honored a prince named Wenamon. During his time Persian control of Egypt began to weaken.

NABOPOLASSER

Was based in Babylon and associated with that city. Appears to have been a son of Ashurbanipal, but had to fight for control of the Assyrian Empire against another son named Sin-shar-ishkun

ARTAXERXES II

Was based in Babylon and associated with that city. Son of a Babylonian mother and a half-Babylonian father. Upon his accession had to battle for control of the Persian Empire against a younger brother named Cyrus.

NABUCHADREZZAR

Appears to have conquered Egypt, after a second attempt, where he brought to an end the reign of Necho II. Destroyed Egypt’s ally Judah. According to the Book of Judith had a servant named Bagoas and a general named Holofernes. Was known for his savage cruelty.

ARTAXERXES III

Conquered Egypt after a second attempt, where he brought to an end the reign of Nectanebo II. Brought all the nations of Syria/Palestine under his control. According to Diodorus Siculus had a servant named Bagoas and a general named Holofernes. Was known for his savage cruelty.

NABONIDUS

Was not the son of Nebuchadrezzar, but from a minor branch of the royal family. Last native Babylonian king.

DARIUS III

Was not the son of Artaxerxes III, but from a minor branch of the royal family. Last native Persian king.

In the above table we see some of the most important parallels between the penultimate Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadrezzar and the penultimate Achaemenid king Artaxerxes III. Yet the similarities between the two kings, like those of the others, are so detailed that they cannot be adequately described in a simple table. In the pages to follow I hope to fill out the picture a little with regard to these two seminally important rulers.

When Artaxerxes II died, in 359 BC, his son Ochus was proclaimed king under the name of Artaxerxes III. To ensure his succession against any attempted rebellion, he let all of his brothers and half-brothers, eighty in number, be killed.

The new Artaxerxes regarded the reconquest of Egypt as one of his chief tasks, a task which he did eventually accomplish, though not until the sixteenth year of his reign. We know that Nectanebo I died only a year before Artaxerxes II, and that he was replaced on the throne by a pharaoh known to the Greeks as Tachos. Well aware of the ruthless nature of the new occupant of the Great King’s throne, Tachos made preparations to defend Egypt — part of which involved the recruitment of the legendary Spartan King Aegesilaus to his cause. Aegesilaus, by this time a very old man, was apparently delighted at the opportunity once again to do battle with the Persians. The Spartan veteran had been promised chief command by Tachos; but when he arrived in Egypt he found that the fleet had been placed in the hands of the Athenian general Chabrias, whilst Tachos himself retained overall supreme command. At this stage the pharaoh was in Syria, part of which had been occupied by him following the death of Artaxerxes II. In the meantime, a plot to place a nephew of his on the throne was being hatched. Aegesilaus threw his weight behind the conspirators, and effectively placed the nephew, known to history as Nectanebo II, on the throne.

When news of these developments reached Tachos in Palestine he fled northwards to the Persian king to ask forgiveness. Another two pretenders arose to challenge Nectanebo II, but these were quickly overcome with the assistance of Aegesilaus’ hoplites.

Nine years later, which was also the ninth year of the reign of Artaxerxes III/Ochus (350 BC), the Egyptians met the armies of the Great King on the borders of Egypt and threw them back towards Mesopotamia. The failure of this first expedition proved to be a major setback for Artaxerxes III, and his plan to reincorporate Egypt into the Empire had to wait another seven years (343 BC) for fruition. Thus Artaxerxes III’s second, and successful expedition against Egypt occurred in his sixteenth year.

We are told that after this reconquest Ochus plundered the country mercilessly, repeating the depredations of Cambyses. There was a general massacre of the population and a violation of the temples and religious centers, even to the extent of slaying the sacred Apis bull and serving it at a feast. All of which is believable enough, considering what we know of his character from other sources. In the words of one commentator, the “chief characteristic” of Ochus was his “savage cruelty.”1 How then does the life and military career of Nebuchadrezzar compare with that of Artaxerxes III?

Early in his reign, in his eighth or possibly ninth year, Nebuchadrezzar campaigned right to the borders of Egypt; it was then that he besieged Jerusalem, removing its King Jehoiachin and replacing him with Zedekiah. It is known that this campaign against Judah was actually but a small incident in a much greater campaign against Egypt and its allies. But if such were the case, then the campaign was at best indecisive — no conquest of Egypt is recorded. Nevertheless, it could not have been a complete disaster for the Babylonians, for Nebuchadrezzar apparently retained control of Judah until Zedekiah’s eighth year — at which point the people of Judah once again threw off the Babylonian yoke.

Thus we see that Nebuchadrezzar, like Artaxerxes III, made a first and apparently largely unsuccessful attack on Egypt in his eighth, or possibly ninth, year. But the parallels do not end there.

As we have noted, the Book of Chronicles records that in the eighth year of Zedekiah, and therefore in the sixteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar, the Babylonian king again moved against Egypt and Judah. Once again, most, if not all, of what we know of this campaign comes from the Jewish records, which were of course concerned primarily with the devastation the war brought to their own homeland. These sources report that on this occasion Nebuchadrezzar utterly destroyed Jerusalem, pulling down the temple and deporting the entire population to Babylon.

This must have been part of the campaign against Egypt and its allies recorded in a much damaged tablet of Nebuchadrezzar. What is still legible has been translated thus:

The kings, the allies of his power and … his general and his hired soldiers … he spoke unto. To his soldiers … who were before … at the way of …

In the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon … the king of Egypt came up to do battle [?] and … es, the king of Egypt … and … of the city of Putu-Jaman … far away regions which are in the sea … numerous which were in Egypt … arms and horses … he called to … he trusted …2

The reference to the campaign against Egypt in Nebuchadrezzar’s 37th year is apparently puzzling, though it is possible, actually probable, that he was counting from his appointment as King of Babylon, a system he is known to have actually used. Whatever the case, it is certain that Nebuchadrezzar’s second campaign against Judah, and Egypt, occurred sometime between his sixteenth and seventeenth year.

Thus Nebuchadrezzar, like Artaxerxes III, made two assaults upon Egypt. The first, in the eighth or ninth year of both monarchs, was a failure; and the second, in the sixteenth or seventeenth year of both rulers, which was a success.

That Nebuchadrezzar actually conquered Egypt is suggested by a number of very powerful pieces of evidence. First of all, both Ezekiel and Jeremiah prophesied that he would do so; and since most of these “prophecies” were written in retrospect, or at least gained popular currency only after having been proved correct, we may be fairly certain that the prophesied invasion and defeat of Egypt actually took place. The conquest is predicted thus by Ezekiel (29:19-20):

Therefore thus said the Lord God: Behold, I will set Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon in the land of Egypt: and he shall take her multitude, and take the booty thereof for a prey, and rifle the spoils thereof: and it shall be wages for his army. And for the service that he hath done me against it, I have given him the land of Egypt, because he hath labored for me, saith the Lord.

Secondly, the biblical sources say that Nebuchadrezzar was able to remove the Jewish refugees in Egypt to Babylon. He could not of course have done so unless he had entered and subjugated the country.

Thirdly, Josephus tells us that he conquered Egypt. We are informed that four years after the fall of Tyre, Nebuchadrezzar invaded the country and put its King Uaphris to death, installing a creature of his own upon the vacant throne.3 Fourthly, and most importantly, artifacts of Nebuchadrezzar have actually been discovered in Egypt. These are “three cylinders of terra-cotta bearing an inscription of Nebuchadnezzar, an ordinary text referring to his constructions in Babylon … These were said to come from the Isthmus of Suez, and they apparently belong to some place where Nebuchadrezzar had ‘set up his throne’ and ‘spread his royal pavilion.’ As he only passed along the Syrian road, and Daphnae would be the only stopping place on that road in the region of the isthmus, all the inferences point to these having come from Defenneh, and being the memorials of establishment there.”4

In short, the prophecy of Jeremiah that the king of Babylon would spread his royal pavilion at the entrance of the pharaoh’s house in Tahpanheth (Daphnae) was fulfilled. There can be little doubt; Nebuchadrezzar entered and conquered Egypt.

It is of interest to note here that the cylinders were discovered at Daphnae, one of the Hellenic centers of the Delta, a garrison settlement of the pharaoh’s Ionian bodyguard. This corresponds well enough with the contents of Nebuchadrezzar’s tablet, which speaks of the city of Putu-Jaman. Jaman of course was the Babylonian for “Ionian.”

Thus in a number of details the life and career of Nebuchadrezzar provides close parallels with that of Artaxerxes III:

Both kings were rulers of Babylon, who clashed with Egypt.

Artaxerxes III’s first war against Egypt occurred in his eighth year, and ended in failure. Nebuchadrezzar’s first war against Egypt took place in his eighth or ninth year and apparently ended in failure.

The Egyptian enemy of Artaxerxes III was known as Nectanebo II. The Egyptian enemy of Nebuchadrezzar was known as Necho II.

Artaxerxes III’s second campaign against Egypt occurred in his sixteenth year and was successful. Nebuchadrezzar’s second campaign against Egypt occurred in his sixteenth or seventeenth year and resulted in the conquest of the Nile Kingdom.

Artaxerxes III’s Egyptian enemy Nectanebo II used Greek mercenaries against the Great King. Nebuchadrezzar’s Egyptian enemy Necho II used Greek mercenaries against him.

It is fairly evident then that here, once again, we find striking parallels in the lives and careers of two characters supposedly belonging to two different epochs separated by two centuries.

….

 

1 G. Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies Vol. 3 (London, 1879) p. 510.

2 S. Langdon, Building Inscriptions of the Neo-Babylonian Empire (Paris, 1905) p. 182.

3 Josephus, Jewish Antiquities x,9,7.

4 F. Petrie, Tanis Pt II. Nebesheh and Defenneh p. 51.

….