Bible, by Wikipedia

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:46 am

Table of Contents:

Bible, by Wikipedia
o Masoretic Text, by Wikipedia
o Septuagint, by Wikipedia
 Pseudepigraph, by Wikipedia
 Letter of Aristeas, by Wikipedia
Hezekiah, by Wikipedia
Josiah, by Wikipedia
Zedekiah, by Wikipedia
Omri, by Wikipedia
Ahab, by Wikipedia
o Kurkh Monolith, by Wikipedia
Sennacherib, by Wikipedia
o Taylor Prism, by Wikipedia
Military History of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, by Wikipedia
Necho II, by Wikipedia
Nebuchadnezzar II, by Wikipedia
Ugarit, by Wikipedia
Baal Text, by Meindert Dijkstra
Ugarit Ritual Texts, by Dennis Pardee
Mesha Stele, by Wikipedia
Tel Dan Stele, by Wikipedia


Part 1 of 3

by Wikipedia



The Bible refers to one of two closely related religious texts central to Judaism and Christianity—the Hebrew or Christian sacred scriptures respectively.

It is not a history book in the modern sense.

Judaism recognizes a single set of canonical books known as the Tanakh, also called Hebrew Bible, traditionally divided into three parts: the Torah ("teaching" or "law"), the Nevi'im ("prophets"), and the Ketuvim ("writings").

The Bible as used by Christians is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. The canonical composition of the Old Testament is in dispute between Christian groups: Protestants hold the books of the Hebrew Bible to be canonical and include them in what they call the Old Testament. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox additionally consider the deuterocanonical books, a group of Jewish books, to be a canonical part of their Old Testament. The New Testament is comprised of the Gospels ("good news"), the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles (letters), and the Book of Revelation.

The term "bible" is sometimes used to refer to any central text of a religion, or a comprehensive guidebook on a particular subject.


According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word bible[2] is from the Latin biblia, traced from the same word through Medieval Latin and Late Latin, as used in the phrase biblia sacra ("holy book"—"In the Latin of the Middle Ages, the neuter plural for Biblia (gen. bibliorum) gradually came to be regarded as a feminine singular noun (biblia, gen. bibliae in which singular form the word has passed into the languages of the Western world.")[3] This stemmed from the Greek term τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια (ta biblia ta hagia), "the holy books", which derived from βιβλίον (biblion),[4] "paper" or "scroll," the ordinary word for "book", which was originally a diminutive of βύβλος (byblos, "Egyptian papyrus"), possibly so called from the name of the Phoenician port Byblos (also known as Gebal) from whence Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece.

The Greek phrase Ta biblia (lit. "little papyrus books")[5] was "an expression Hellenistic Jews used to describe their sacred books several centuries before the time of Jesus,"[6] and would have referred to the Septuagint.[7] The Online Etymology Dictionary states, "The Christian scripture was referred to in Greek as Ta Biblia as early as c.223."[2]

Jewish canon


The Tanakh (Hebrew: תנ"ך) consists of 24 books. Tanakh is an acronym for the three parts of the Hebrew Bible: the Torah ("Teaching/Law" also known as the Pentateuch), Nevi'im ("Prophets"), and Ketuvim ("Writings," or Hagiographa), and is used commonly by Jews but unfamiliar to many English speakers and others (Alexander 1999, p. 17). (See Table of books of Judeo-Christian Scripture.)


The Torah, or "Instruction," is also known as the "Five Books" of Moses, thus Chumash from Hebrew meaning "fivesome," and Pentateuch from Greek meaning "five scroll-cases."

The Torah comprises the following five books:

1. Genesis, Ge—Bereshit (בראשית)
2. Exodus, Ex—Shemot (שמו)
3. Leviticus, Le—Vayikra (ויקרא)
4. Numbers, Nu—Bamidbar (במדבר)
5. Deuteronomy, Dt—Devarim (דברים)

The Hebrew book titles come from some of the first words in the respective texts.

The Torah focuses on three moments in the changing relationship between God and people. The first eleven chapters of Genesis provide accounts of the creation (or ordering) of the world, and the history of God's early relationship with humanity. The remaining thirty-nine chapters of Genesis provide an account of God's covenant with the Hebrew patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (also called Israel), and Jacob's children (the "Children of Israel"), especially Joseph. It tells of how God commanded Abraham to leave his family and home in the city of Ur, eventually to settle in the land of Canaan, and how the Children of Israel later moved to Egypt. The remaining four books of the Torah tell the story of Moses, who lived hundreds of years after the patriarchs. His story coincides with the story of the liberation of the Children of Israel from slavery in Ancient Egypt, to the renewal of their covenant with God at Mount Sinai, and their wanderings in the desert until a new generation would be ready to enter the land of Canaan. The Torah ends with the death of Moses.

The Torah contains the commandments, of God, revealed at Mount Sinai (although there is some debate amongst Jewish scholars as to whether this was written down completely in one moment, or if it was spread out during the 40 years in the wandering in the desert). These commandments provide the basis for Halakha (Jewish religious law). Tradition states that the number of these is equal to 613 Mitzvot or 613 commandments. There is some dispute as to how to divide these up (mainly between the Ramban and Rambam).

The Torah is divided into fifty-four portions which are read on successive Sabbaths in Jewish liturgy, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Deuteronomy. The cycle ends and recommences at the end of Sukkot, which is called Simchat Torah.


The Nevi'im, or "Prophets," tell the story of the rise of the Hebrew monarchy, its division into two kingdoms, and the prophets who, in God's name, warned the kings and the Children of Israel about the punishment of God. It ends with the conquest of the Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians and the conquest of the Kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians, and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Portions of the prophetic books are read by Jews on the Sabbath (Shabbat). The Book of Jonah is read on Yom Kippur.

According to Jewish tradition, Nevi'im is divided into eight books. Contemporary translations subdivide these into twenty-one books.

The Nevi'im comprise the following eight books:

6. Joshua, Js—Yehoshua (יהושע)
7. Judges, Jg—Shoftim (שופטים)
8. Samuel, includes First and Second 1Sa–2Sa—Shemuel (שמואל)
9. Kings, includes First and Second, 1Ki–2Ki—Melakhim (מלכים)
10. Isaiah, Is—Yeshayahu (ישעיהו)
11. Jeremiah, Je—Yirmiyahu (ירמיהו)
12. Ezekiel, Ez—Yekhezkel (יחזקאל)
13. Twelve, includes all Minor Prophets—Tre Asar (תרי עשר)

A. Hosea, Ho—Hoshea (הושע)
B. Joel, Jl—Yoel (יואל)
C. Amos, Am—Amos (עמוס)
D. Obadiah, Ob—Ovadyah (עבדיה)
E. Jonah, Jh—Yonah (יונה)
F. Micah, Mi—Mikhah (מיכה)
G. Nahum, Na—Nahum (נחום)
H. Habakkuk, Hb—Havakuk (חבקוק)
I. Zephaniah, Zp—Tsefanya (צפניה)
J. Haggai, Hg—Khagay (חגי)
K. Zechariah, Zc—Zekharyah (זכריה)
L. Malachi, Ml—Malakhi (מלאכי)


According to Rabbinic tradition[citation needed] and superscriptions to the Psalms themselves, many of the psalms in the book of Psalms are attributed to David; King Solomon is believed to have written Song of Songs in his youth, Proverbs at the prime of his life, and Ecclesiastes at old age; and the prophet Jeremiah is thought to have written Lamentations. The Book of Ruth is the only biblical book that centers entirely on a non-Jew. The book of Ruth tells the story of a non-Jew (specifically, a Moabite) who married a Jew and, upon his death, followed in the ways of the Jews; according to the Bible, she was the great-grandmother of King David. Five of the books, called "The Five Scrolls" (Megilot), are read on Jewish holidays: Song of Songs on Passover; the Book of Ruth on Shavuot; Lamentations on the Ninth of Av; Ecclesiastes on Sukkot; and the Book of Esther on Purim. Collectively, the Ketuvim contain lyrical poetry, philosophical reflections on life, and the stories of the prophets and other Jewish leaders during the Babylonian exile. It ends with the Persian decree allowing Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.

The Ketuvim comprise the following eleven books, divided, in many modern translations, into twelve through the division of Ezra and Nehemiah:

14. Psalms, Ps—Tehillim (תהלים)
15. Proverbs, Pr—Mishlei (משלי)
16. Job, Jb—Iyyov (איוב)
17. Song of Songs, So—Shir ha-Shirim (שיר השירים)
18. Ruth, Ru—Rut (רות)
19. Lamentations, La—Eikhah (איכה), also called Kinot (קינות)
20. Ecclesiastes, Ec—Kohelet (קהלת)
21. Esther, Es—Ester (אסתר)
22. Daniel, Dn—Daniel (דניאל)
23. Ezra, Ea, includes Nehemiah, Ne—Ezra (עזרא), includes Nehemiah (נחמיה)
24. Chronicles, includes First and Second, 1Ch–2Ch—Divrei ha-Yamim (דברי הימים), also called Divrei (דברי)

Hebrew Bible translations and editions

The Tanakh was mainly written in Biblical Hebrew, with some portions (notably in Daniel and Ezra) in Biblical Aramaic.[8]

The Oral Torah

According to some Jews during the Hellenistic period, such as the Sadducees, only a minimal oral tradition of interpreting the words of the Torah existed, which did not include extended biblical interpretation. According to the Pharisees, however, God revealed both a Written Torah and an Oral Torah to Moses, the Oral Torah consisting of both stories and legal traditions. In Rabbinic Judaism, the Oral Torah is essential for understanding the Written Torah literally (as it includes neither vowels nor punctuation) and exegetically. The Oral Torah has different facets, principally Halacha (laws), the Aggadah (stories), and the Kabbalah (esoteric knowledge). Major portions of the Oral Law have been committed to writing, notably the Mishnah; the Tosefta; Midrash, such as Midrash Rabbah, the Sifre, the Sifra, and the Mechilta; and both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds as well.

Orthodox Judaism continues to accept the Oral Torah in its totality. Masorti and Conservative Judaism state that the Oral Tradition is to some degree divinely inspired, but disregard its legal elements in varying degrees. Reform Judaism also gives some credence to the Talmud containing the legal elements of the Oral Torah, but, as with the written Torah, asserts that both were inspired by, but not dictated by, God. Reconstructionist Judaism denies any connection of the Torah, Written or Oral, with God.

Masoretic Text

The Masoretic Text (MT) is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible regarded almost universally as the official version of the Tanakh. It defines not just the books of the Jewish canon, but also the precise letter-text of the biblical books in Judaism, as well as their vocalization and accentuation known as the Masorah. The MT is also widely used as the basis for translations of the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles, and in recent years (since 1943) also for Catholic Bibles.[1] In modern times the Dead Sea Scrolls have shown the MT to be nearly identical to some texts of the Tanakh dating from 200 B.C.E. but different from others.

The MT was primarily copied, edited and distributed by a group of Jews known as the Masoretes between the seventh and tenth centuries CE. Though the consonants differ little from the text generally accepted in the early second century (and also differ little from some Qumran texts that are even older), it has numerous differences of both greater and lesser significance when compared to (extant 4th century) manuscripts of the Septuagint, a Greek translation (made in the 3rd to 2nd centuries BC) of the Hebrew Scriptures that was in popular use in Egypt and Palestine and that is often quoted in the New Testament.

The Hebrew word mesorah (מסורה, alt. מסורת) refers to the transmission of a tradition. In a very broad sense it can refer to the entire chain of Jewish tradition (see Oral law), but in reference to the Masoretic Text the word mesorah has a very specific meaning: the diacritic markings of the text of the Hebrew Bible and concise marginal notes in manuscripts (and later printings) of the Hebrew Bible which note textual details, usually about the precise spelling of words.

The oldest extant manuscripts of the Masoretic Text date from approximately the ninth century AD,[2] and the Aleppo Codex (once the oldest complete copy of the Masoretic Text, but now missing its Torah section) dates from the tenth century.


The Nash Papyrus (2nd century BC) contains a portion of a pre-Masoretic Text, specifically the Ten Commandments and the Shema Yisrael prayer.

Origin and transmission

The Talmud (and also Karaite mss.) states that a standard copy of the Hebrew Bible was kept in the court of the Temple in Jerusalem for the benefit of copyists; there were paid correctors of Biblical books among the officers of the Temple (Talmud, tractate Ketubot 106a). This copy is mentioned in the Aristeas Letter (§ 30; comp. Blau, Studien zum Althebr. Buchwesen, p. 100); in the statements of Philo (preamble to his "Analysis of the Political Constitution of the Jews") and in Josephus (Contra Ap. i. 8).

Another Talmudic story, perhaps referring to an earlier time, relates that three Torah scrolls were found in the Temple court but were at variance with each other. The differences were then resolved by majority decision among the three.

Second Temple period

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, dating from c.150 BC–AD 75, shows however that in this period there was not always the scrupulous uniformity of text that was so stressed in later centuries. The scrolls show numerous small variations in orthography, both as against the later Masoretic text, and between each other. It is also evident from the notings of corrections and of variant alternatives that scribes felt free to choose according to their personal taste and discretion between different readings.[3] However, despite these variations, most of the Qumran fragments can be classified as being closer to the Masoretic text than to any other text group that has survived. According to Shiffman, 60% can be classed as being of proto-Masoretic type, and a further 20% Qumran style with bases in proto-Masoretic texts, compared to 5% proto-Samaritan type, 5% Septuagintal type, and 10% non-aligned.[4] Furthermore, according to Haas, most of the texts which vary from the Masoretic type, including four of the Septuagint type manuscript fragments, were found in Cave 4. "This is the cave where the texts were not preserved carefully in jars. It is conjectured, that cave 4 was a geniza for the depositing of texts that were damaged or had textual errors." [5] On the other hand, some of the fragments conforming most accurately to the Masoretic text were found in Cave 4.[6]

Rabbinic period

An emphasis on minute details of words and spellings, already used among the Pharisees as bases for argumentation, reached its height with the example of Rabbi Akiva (d. AD 135). The idea of a perfect text sanctified in its consonantal base quickly spread throughout the Jewish communities via supportive statements in Halakha, Aggada, and Jewish thought;[3] and with it increasingly forceful strictures leading ultimately to the statement in medieval times that a deviation in even a single letter would make a Torah scroll invalid.[7] Very few manuscripts are said to have survived the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.[8] This both drastically reduced the number of variants in circulation, and gave a new urgency that the text must be preserved. New Greek translations were also made. Unlike the Septuagint, large-scale deviations in sense between the Greek of Aquila and Theodotion and what we now know as the Masoretic text are minimal. Detailed variations between different Hebrew texts in use still clearly existed though, as witnessed by differences between the present-day Masoretic text and versions mentioned in the Gemara, and often even Halachic midrashim based on spelling versions which do not exist in the current Masoretic text.[3] (Mostly, however, these variations are limited to whether particular words should be written plene or defectively - i.e. whether a mater lectionis consonant to represent a particular vowel sound should or should not be included in a particular word at a particular point).

The Age of the Masoretes

The current received text finally achieved predominance through the reputation of the Masoretes, schools of scribes and Torah scholars working between the 7th and 11th centuries, based primarily in Palestine in the cities of Tiberias and Jerusalem, and in Babylonia. These schools developed such prestige for the accuracy and error-control of their copying techniques that their texts established an authority beyond all others.[3] Differences remained, sometimes bolstered by systematic local differences in pronunciation and cantillation. Every locality, following the tradition of its school, had a standard codex embodying its readings. In Babylonia the school of Sura differed from that of Nehardea; and similar differences existed in the schools of the Land of Israel as against that at Tiberias, which in later times increasingly became the chief seat of learning. In this period living tradition ceased, and the Masoretes in preparing their codices usually followed the one school or the other, examining, however, standard codices of other schools and noting their differences.

ben Asher and ben Naphtali

In the first half of the tenth century Aaron ben Moses ben Asher and Moshe ben Naphtali (often just called ben Asher and ben Naphtali) were the leading Masoretes in Tiberias. Their names have come to symbolise the variations among Masoretes, but the differences between ben Asher and ben Naphtali should not be exaggerated. There are hardly any differences between them regarding the consonants, though they differ more on vocalization and accents. Also, there were other authorities such as Rabbi Pinchas and Moshe Moheh, and ben Asher and ben Naphtali often agree against these others. Further, it is possible that all variations found among manuscripts eventually came to be regarded as disagreements between these figureheads. Ben Asher wrote a standard codex (the Aleppo Codex) embodying his opinions. Probably ben Naphtali did too, but it has not survived.

It has been suggested that there never was an actual "ben Naphtali"; rather, the name was chosen (based on the Bible, where Asher and Naphtali are the younger sons of Zilpah and Bilhah) to designate any tradition different from Ben Asher's. This is unlikely, as there exist lists of places where ben Asher and ben Naphtali agree against other authorities.

Ben Asher was the last of a distinguished family of Masoretes extending back to the latter half of the eighth century. Despite the rivalry of ben Naphtali and the opposition of Saadia Gaon, the most eminent representative of the Babylonian school of criticism, ben Asher's codex became recognized as the standard text of the Bible.

The Middle Ages

The two rival authorities, ben Asher and ben Naphtali, practically brought the Masorah to a close. Very few additions were made by the later Masoretes, styled in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Naḳdanim, who revised the works of the copyists, added the vowels and accents (generally in fainter ink and with a finer pen) and frequently the Masorah.

Considerable influence on the development and spread of Masoretic literature was exercised during the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries by the Franco-German school of Tosafists. R. Gershom, his brother Machir, Joseph ben Samuel Bonfils (Tob 'Elem) of Limoges, R. Tam (Jacob ben Meïr), Menahem ben Perez of Joigny, Perez ben Elijah of Corbeil, Judah of Paris, Meïr Spira, and R. Meïr of Rothenburg made Masoretic compilations, or additions to the subject, which are all more or less frequently referred to in the marginal glosses of Biblical codices and in the works of Hebrew grammarians. Many believe that the ben Asher family were Karaites.


By long tradition, a ritual Torah scroll shall contain only the Hebrew consonantal text - nothing may be added, nothing taken away. However, perhaps because they were intended for personal study rather than ritual use, the Masoretic codices provide extensive additional material, called masorah, to show correct pronunciation and cantillation, protect against scribal errors, and annotate possible variants. The manuscripts thus include vowel points, pronunciation marks and stress accents in the text, short annotations in the side margins, and longer more extensive notes in the upper and lower margins and collected at the end of each book.


The Hebrew word masorah is taken from Ezekiel 20:37 and means originally "fetter". The fixation of the text was considered to be in the nature of a fetter upon its exposition. When, in the course of time, the Masorah had become a traditional discipline, the term became connected with the verb ( = "to hand down"), and acquired the general meaning of "tradition."

Language and form

The language of the Masoretic notes is partly Hebrew and partly Aramaic. The Masoretic annotations are found in various forms: (a) in separate works, e.g., the Oklah we-Oklah; (b) in the form of notes written in the margins and at the end of codices. In rare cases, the notes are written between the lines. The first word of each Biblical book is also as a rule surrounded by notes. The latter are called the Initial Masorah; the notes on the side margins or between the columns are called the Small or Inner Masorah; and those on the lower and upper margins, the Large or Outer Masorah. The name "Large Masorah" is applied sometimes to the lexically arranged notes at the end of the printed Bible, usually called the Final Masorah, or the Masoretic Concordance.

The Small Masorah consists of brief notes with reference to marginal readings, to statistics showing the number of times a particular form is found in Scripture, to full and defective spelling, and to abnormally written letters. The Large Masorah is more copious in its notes. The Final Masorah comprises all the longer rubrics for which space could not be found in the margin of the text, and is arranged alphabetically in the form of a concordance. The quantity of notes the marginal Masorah contains is conditioned by the amount of vacant space on each page. In the manuscripts it varies also with the rate at which the copyist was paid and the fanciful shape he gave to his gloss.

In most manuscripts, there are some discrepancies between the text and the masorah, suggesting that they were copied from different sources or that one of them has copying errors. The lack of such discrepancies in the Aleppo Codex is one of the reasons for its importance; the scribe who copied the notes, presumably Aaron ben Moses ben Asher, probably wrote them originally.

Numerical Masorah

In classical antiquity, copyists were paid for their work according to the number of stichs (lines of verse). As the prose books of the Bible were hardly ever written in stichs, the copyists, in order to estimate the amount of work, had to count the letters. For the Masoretic Text, such statistical information more importantly also ensured accuracy in the transmission of the text with the production of subsequent copies that were done by hand.

Hence the Masoretes contributed the Numerical Masorah. These notes are traditionally categorized into two main groups: the marginal Masorah and the final Masorah. The category of marginal Masorah is further divided into the Masorah parva (small Masorah) in the outer side margins and the Masorah magna (large Masorah), traditionally located at the top and bottom margins of the text.

The Masorah parva is a set of statistics in the outer side margins of the text. Beyond simply counting the letters, the Masorah parva consists of word-use statistics, similar documentation for expressions or certain phraseology, observations on full or defective writing, references to the Kethiv-Qere readings and more. These observations are also the result of a passionate zeal to safeguard the accurate transmission of the sacred text.

The Masorah magna, in measure, is an expanded Masorah parva. It is not printed in BHS.

The final Masorah is located at the end of biblical books or after certain sections of the text, such as at the end of the Torah. It contains information and statistics regarding the number of words in a book or section, etc.

Thus (Leviticus 8:23) is the middle verse in the Pentateuch; all the names of Divinity mentioned in connection with Abraham are holy except (Genesis 18:3); ten passages in the Pentateuch are dotted; three times the Pentateuch has the spelling לא where the reading is לו. The collation of manuscripts and the noting of their differences furnished material for the Text-Critical Masorah. The close relation which existed in earlier times (from the Soferim to the Amoraim inclusive) between the teacher of tradition and the Masorete, both frequently being united in one person, accounts for the Exegetical Masorah. Finally, the invention and introduction of a graphic system of vocalization and accentuation gave rise to the Grammatical Masorah.

The most important of the Masoretic notes are those that detail the Kethiv-Qere that are located in the Masorah parva in the outside margins of BHS. Given that the Masoretes would not alter the sacred consonantal text, the Kethiv-Qere notes were a way of "correcting" or commenting on the text for any number of reasons (grammatical, theological, aesthetic, etc.) deemed important by the copyist. [Reference: Pratico and Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew, Zondervan. 2001. p406ff]

Fixing of the text

The earliest labors of the Masoretes included standardizing division of the text into books, sections, paragraphs, verses, and clauses (probably in the chronological order here enumerated); the fixing of the orthography, pronunciation, and cantillation; the introduction or final adoption of the square characters with the five final letters (comp. Numbers and Numerals); some textual changes to guard against blasphemy and the like (though these changes may pre-date the Masoretes - see Tikkune Soferim); the enumeration of letters, words, verses, etc., and the substitution of some words for others in public reading.

Since no additions were allowed to be made to the official text of the Bible, the early Masoretes adopted other expedients: e.g., they marked the various divisions by spacing, and gave indications of halakic and haggadic teachings by full or defective spelling, abnormal forms of letters, dots, and other signs. Marginal notes were permitted only in private copies, and the first mention of such notes is found in the case of R. Meïr (c. AD 100-150).

Tikkune Soferim

Early rabbinic sources, from around AD 200, mention several passages of Scripture in which the conclusion is inevitable that the ancient reading must have differed from that of the present text. The explanation of this phenomenon is given in the expression ("Scripture has used euphemistic language," i.e. to avoid anthropomorphism and anthropopathy).

Rabbi Simon ben Pazzi (third century) calls these readings "emendations of the Scribes" (tikkune Soferim; Midrash Genesis Rabbah xlix. 7), assuming that the Scribes actually made the changes. This view was adopted by the later Midrash and by the majority of Masoretes. In Masoretic works these changes are ascribed to Ezra; to Ezra and Nehemiah; to Ezra and the Soferim; or to Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah, Haggai, and Baruch. All these ascriptions mean one and the same thing: that the changes were assumed to have been made by the Men of the Great Synagogue.

The term tikkun Soferim has been understood by different scholars in various ways. Some regard it as a correction of Biblical language authorized by the Soferim for homiletical purposes. Others take it to mean a mental change made by the original writers or redactors of Scripture; i.e. the latter shrank from putting in writing a thought which some of the readers might expect them to express.

The assumed emendations are of four general types:

• Removal of unseemly expressions used in reference to God; e.g., the substitution of ("to bless") for ("to curse") in certain passages.
• Safeguarding of the Tetragrammaton; e.g. substitution of "Elohim" for "YHVH" in some passages.
• Removal of application of the names of pagan gods, e.g. the change of the name "Ishbaal" to "Ishbosheth."
• Safeguarding the unity of divine worship at Jerusalem.

Mikra and ittur

Among the earliest technical terms used in connection with activities of the Scribes are the "mikra Soferim" and "ittur Soferim." In the geonic schools, the first term was taken to signify certain vowel-changes which were made in words in pause or after the article; the second, the cancellation in a few passages of the "vav" conjunctive, where it had by some been wrongly read. The objection to such an explanation is that the first changes would fall under the general head of fixation of pronunciation, and the second under the head of "Qere" and "Ketiv". Various explanations have, therefore, been offered by ancient as well as modern scholars without, however, succeeding in furnishing a completely satisfactory solution.

Suspended letters and dotted words

There are four words having one of their letters suspended above the line. One of them, (Judges 18:30), is due to an alteration of the original out of reverence for Moses; rather than say that Moses' grandson became an idolatrous priest, a suspended nun was inserted to turn Mosheh into Menasheh (Manasseh). The origin of the other three (Psalms 80:14; Job 38:13, 15) is doubtful. According to some, they are due to mistaken majuscular letters; according to others, they are later insertions of originally omitted weak consonants.

In fifteen passages in the Bible, some words are stigmatized; i.e., dots appear above the letters. (Gen 16:5, 18:9, 19:33, 33:4, 37:12, Num 3:39, 9:10, 21:30, 29:15, Deut. 29:28, 2Sam 19:20, Isaiah 44:9, Ez 41:20, 46:22, Ps 27:13) The significance of the dots is disputed. Some hold them to be marks of erasure; others believe them to indicate that in some collated manuscripts the stigmatized words were missing, hence that the reading is doubtful; still others contend that they are merely a mnemonic device to indicate homiletical explanations which the ancients had connected with those words; finally, some maintain that the dots were designed to guard against the omission by copyists of text-elements which, at first glance or after comparison with parallel passages, seemed to be superfluous. Instead of dots some manuscripts exhibit strokes, vertical or else horizontal. The first two explanations are unacceptable for the reason that such faulty readings would belong to Qere and Ketiv, which, in case of doubt, the majority of manuscripts would decide. The last two theories have equal probability.

Inverted letters

In nine passages of the Bible are found signs usually called "inverted nuns," because they resemble the Hebrew letter nun ( נ ) written in some inverted fashion. The exact shape varies between different manuscripts and printed editions. In many manuscripts, a reversed nun is found—referred to as a "nun hafucha" by the masoretes. In some earlier printed editions, they are shown as the standard nun upside down or rotated, because the printer did not want to bother to design a character to be used only nine times. The recent scholarly editions of the Masoretic Text show the reversed nun as described by the masoretes. In some manuscripts, however, other symbols are occasionally found instead. These are sometimes referred to in rabbinical literature as "simaniyot," (markers).

The primary set of inverted nuns is found surrounding the text of Numbers 10:35-36. The Mishna notes that this text is 85 letters long and dotted. This demarcation of this text leads to the later use of the inverted nun markings. Saul Lieberman demonstrated that similar markings can be found in ancient Greek texts where they are also used to denote 'short texts'. During the Medieval period, the inverted nuns were actually inserted into the text of the early Rabbinic Bibles published by Bomberg in the early 16th century. The talmud records that the markings surrounding Numbers 10:35 - 36 were thought to denote that this 85 letter text was not in its proper place. One opinion goes so far as to say that it would appear in another location in a later edition of the Torah!

Bar Kappara is known to have considered our Torah as comprised of 7 volumes in the Gemara "The seven pillars with which Wisdom built her house (Prov. 9:1) are the seven Books of Moses". Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus and Deuteronomy as we know them but Numbers was really 3 separate volumes Num 1:1 to Num 10:35 followed by Number 10:35-36 and the third text from there to the end of Numbers.

The 85 letter text is also said to be denoted because it is the model for the least number of letters which constitute a 'text' which one would be required to save from fire due to its holiness.

History of the Masorah

The history of the Masorah may be divided into three periods: (1) creative period, from its beginning to the introduction of vowel-signs; (2) reproductive period, from the introduction of vowel-signs to the printing of the Masorah (1525); (3) critical period, from 1525 to the present time.

The materials for the history of the first period are scattered remarks in Talmudic and Midrashic literature, in the post-Talmudical treatises Masseket Sefer Torah and Masseket Soferim, and in a Masoretic chain of tradition found in ben Asher's "Diḳduḳe ha-Ṭe'amim," § 69 and elsewhere.

Critical study

Jacob ben Hayyim ibn Adonijah, having collated a vast number of manuscripts, systematized his material and arranged the Masorah in the second Bomberg edition of the Bible (Venice, 1524-25). Besides introducing the Masorah into the margin, he compiled at the close of his Bible a concordance of the Masoretic glosses for which he could not find room in a marginal form, and added an elaborate introduction – the first treatise on the Masorah ever produced. In spite of its numerous errors, this work has been considered by some as the "textus receptus" of the Masorah (Würthwein 1995:39), and was used for the English translation of the Old Testament for the King James Version of the Bible.

Next to Ibn Adonijah the critical study of the Masorah has been most advanced by Elijah Levita, who published his famous "Massoret ha-Massoret" in 1538. The "Tiberias" of the elder Buxtorf (1620) made Levita's researches more accessible to a Christian audience. The eighth prolegomenon to Walton's Polyglot Bible is largely a réchauffé of the "Tiberias". Levita compiled likewise a vast Masoretic concordance, "Sefer ha-Zikronot," which still lies in the National Library at Paris unpublished. The study is indebted also to R. Meïr b. Todros ha-Levi (RaMaH), who, as early as the thirteenth century, wrote his "Sefer Massoret Seyag la-Torah" (correct ed. Florence, 1750); to Menahem Lonzano, who composed a treatise on the Masorah of the Pentateuch entitled "Or Torah"; and in particular to Jedidiah Norzi, whose "Minḥat Shai" contains valuable Masoretic notes based on a careful study of manuscripts.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have shed new light on the history of the Masoretic Text. Many texts found there, especially those from Masada, are quite similar to the Masoretic Text, suggesting that an ancestor of the Masoretic Text was indeed extant as early as the 2nd century BC. However, other texts, including many of those from Qumran, differ substantially, indicating that the Masoretic Text was but one of a diverse set of Biblical writings (Lane Fox 1991:99-106; Tov 1992:115). §Among the rejected books by both the Judaic and Catholic canons was found the Book of Enoch, the Manual of Discipline or "Rule of the Community" (1QS) and the "The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness." (1QM).[9]

Some important editions

There have been very many published editions of the Masoretic text; this is a list of some of the most important.

• Daniel Bomberg, ed. Jacob ben Hayyim ibn Adonijah, 1524-1525, Venice
The second Rabbinic Bible, which served as the base for all future editions. This was the source text used by the translators of the King James Version in 1611 and the New King James Version in 1982.[10]
• Everard van der Hooght, 1705, Amsterdam and Utrecht
This was practically a reprint of the Athias-Leusden edition of 1667; but at the end it has variants taken from a number of printed editions. It has been much prized because of its excellent and clear type; but no manuscripts were used in its preparation. Nearly all 18th century and 19th century Bibles were almost exact reprints of this edition.
• Benjamin Kennicott, 1776, Oxford
As well as the van der Hooght text, this included the Samaritan Pentateuch and a huge collection of variants from manuscripts and early printed editions; while this collection has many errors, it is still of some value. The collection of variants was corrected and extended by Johann Bernard de Rossi (1784–8), but his publications gave only the variants without a complete text.
• Meir Letteris, 1852; 2nd edition, 1866 (published British and Foreign Bible Society)
The 1852 edition was yet another copy of van der Hooght. The 1866 edition, however, was carefully checked against old manuscripts. It is probably the most widely reproduced text of the Hebrew Bible in history, with many dozens of authorised reprints and many more pirated and unacknowledged ones.
• Seligman Baer and Franz Delitzsch, 1869–1895 (Exodus to Deuteronomy never appeared)
• Christian David Ginsburg, 1894; 2nd edition, 1908–1926
The first edition was very close to the second Bomberg edition, but with variants added from a number of manuscripts and all of the earliest printed editions, collated with far more care than the work of Kennicott; he did all the work himself. The second edition diverged slightly more from Bomberg, and collated more manuscripts; he did most of the work himself, but failing health forced him to rely partly on his wife and other assistants.[11]
• Biblia Hebraica, first two editions, 1906, 1912; virtually identical to the second Bomberg edition but with variants from Hebrew sources and early translations in the footnotes
• Biblia Hebraica, third edition based on the Leningrad Codex, 1937
• Umberto Cassuto, 1953 (based on Ginsburg 2nd edition but revised based on the Aleppo Codex, Leningrad Codex and other early manuscipts)
• Norman Snaith, 1958 (published British and Foreign Bible Society)
Snaith based it on Sephardi manuscripts such as British Museum Or. 2626-28, and said that he had not relied on Letteris. However, it has been shown that he must have prepared his copy by amending a copy of Letteris, because while there are many differences, it has many of the same typographical errors as Letteris. Snaith's printer even went so far as to break printed vowels to match the broken characters in Letteris. Snaith combined the accent system of Letteris with the system found in Sephardi manuscripts, thereby creating accentuation patterns found nowhere else in any manuscript or printed edition.
• Hebrew University Bible Project, 1965-
Started by Moshe Goshen-Gottstein, this follows the text of the Aleppo Codex where extant and otherwise the Leningrad Codex. It includes a wide variety of variants from the Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, early Rabbinic literature and selected early mediaeval manuscripts. So far, only Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel have been published.
• The Koren Bible by Koren Publishers Jerusalem, 1962
The text was derived by comparing a number of printed Bibles, and following the majority when there were discrepancies.
• Aron Dotan, based on the Leningrad Codex, 1976
• Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, revision of Biblia Hebraica (third edition), 1977
• Mordechai Breuer, based on the Aleppo Codex, 1977–1982
• The Jerusalem Crown, 2001: this is a revised version of Breuer, and is the official version used in inaugurating the President of Israel
• Biblia Hebraica Quinta, revision of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia; only three volumes (Five Megilloth, Ezra and Nehemiah, Deuteronomy) have been published so far.

Hebrew Bible
Q're perpetuum
Samaritan Pentateuch
Micrography Decorative illustrations often made using the text of the Mesorah in medieval Pentateuch codexes.


1. Pope Pius XII on 3 September 1943 decreed the Divino Afflante Spiritu which allowed Catholic translations based on other versions than just the Latin Vulgate, notably in English the New American Bible.
2. A seventh century fragment containing the Song of the Sea (Exodus 13:19-16:1) is one of the few surviving texts from the "silent era" of Hebrew biblical texts between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Aleppo Codex. See "Rare scroll fragment to be unveiled," Jerusalem Post, May 21, 2007.
3. a b c d Menachem Cohen, The Idea of the Sanctity of the Biblical Text and the Science of Textual Criticism in HaMikrah V'anachnu, ed. Uriel Simon, HaMachon L'Yahadut U'Machshava Bat-Z'mananu and Dvir, Tel-Aviv, 1979
4. Shiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls
5. Gretchen Haas[citation needed]
6. Ulrich, E., Cross, F. M., Davila, J. R., Jastram, N., Sanderson, J. E., Tov, E. and Strugnell, J. (1994). Qumran Cave 4, VII, Genesis to Numbers. Discoveries in the Judaean Desert 12. Clarendon Press, Oxford.
7. Rambam, The Laws of Tefillin, Mezuzot, and Torah Scrolls, 1:2
8. Sir Godfrey Driver, Introduction to the Old Testament of the New English Bible, 1970
9. Mansoor, Menahem. The Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids, Michigan and Driver, G. R., The Judaean Scrolls. Great Britain: Oxford, 1965.
10. Price, James D. (1994-02-14). "This file is a letter I wrote to Mrs. Ripplinger in 1994 in response to her book, New Age Bible Versions. It deals primarily with her criticism of the New King James Version." (MS Word). James D. Price Publications. ... ,_1994.doc. Retrieved 2009-03-18. "But regardless of these details, as former executive editor of the NKJV Old Testament, I can confidently assure you that the NKJV followed, as carefully as possible, the Bobmerg 1524-25 Ben Chayyim edition that the KJV 1611 translators used--I personally made sure."
11. "Introduction to the Ginsburg Edition of the Hebrew Old Testament", British and Foreign Bible Society, 1928.
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

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Christian canons of the Bible

The Christian Bible consists of the Hebrew scriptures, which have been called the Old Testament, and some later writings known as the New Testament. "Testament" is a translation of the Greek διαθηκη (diatheke), also often translated "covenant." It is a legal term denoting a formal and legally binding declaration of benefits to be given by one party to another (e.g., "last will and testament" in secular use). Here it does not connote mutuality; rather, it is a unilateral covenant offered by God to individuals.[5]

Some groups within Christianity include additional books as part of one or both of these "Testaments" of their sacred writings—most prominent among which are the biblical apocrypha or deuterocanonical books.

Significant versions of the English Christian Bible include the KJV, the NKJV, the NIV, and the TNIV.

In Judaism, the term Christian Bible is commonly used to identify only those books like the New Testament which have been added by Christians to the Masoretic Text, and excludes any reference to an Old Testament.[9]

Old Testament

The Old Testament consists of a collection of works written in classical Hebrew, except some brief portions (Ezra 4:8–6:18 and 7:12–26, Jeremiah 10:11, Daniel 2:4–7:28) which are in the Aramaic language, a sister language which became the lingua franca of the Semitic world.[10] Much of it, such as genealogies, poems and stories, are thought to have been handed down by word of mouth for many generations.

The Old Testament is accepted by Christians as scripture. Broadly speaking, it is the same as the Hebrew Bible. However, the order of the books is not entirely the same as that found in Hebrew manuscripts and in the ancient versions. and varies from Judaism in interpretation and emphasis (see for example Isaiah 7:14). Several Christian denominations also incorporate additional books into their canons of the Old Testament. A few groups consider particular translations to be divinely inspired, notably the Greek Septuagint, the Aramaic Peshitta, and the English King James Version.

Apocryphal or deuterocanonical books

The Septuagint (Greek translation, from Alexandria in Egypt under the Ptolemies) was generally abandoned in favour of the Masoretic text as the basis for translations of the Old Testament into Western languages from St. Jerome's Bible (the Vulgate) to the present day. In Eastern Christianity, translations based on the Septuagint still prevail. Some modern Western translations make use of the Septuagint to clarify passages in the Masoretic text, where the Septuagint may preserve a variant reading of the Hebrew text. They also sometimes adopt variants that appear in other texts e.g. those discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls.


The Septuagint (pronounced /ˈsɛptʊ.ədʒɪnt/), or simply "LXX", referred to in critical works by the abbreviation ,[1] is the Koine Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, translated in stages between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE in Alexandria.[2] It was begun by the third century BCE and completed before 132 BCE.[3]

It is the oldest of several ancient translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean Basin from the time of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE).

The Septuagint was held in great respect in ancient times; Philo and Josephus (associated with Hellenistic Judaism) ascribed divine inspiration to its authors.[4] Besides the Old Latin versions, the LXX is also the basis for the Slavonic, the Syriac, Old Armenian, Old Georgian and Coptic versions of the Old Testament.[5] Of significance for all Christians and for Bible scholars, the LXX is quoted by the New Testament and by the Apostolic Fathers.

Creation of the Septuagint

Jewish scholars (see also Hellenistic Judaism) first translated the Torah into Koine Greek in the third century BCE[6]. According to the record in the Talmud,

'King Ptolemy once gathered 72 Elders. He placed them in 72 chambers, each of them in a separate one, without revealing to them why they were summoned. He entered each one's room and said: 'Write for me the Torah of Moshe, your teacher.' God put it in the heart of each one to translate identically as all the others did'[7]

Further books were translated over the next two centuries. It is not altogether clear which was translated when, or where; some may even have been translated twice, into different versions, and then revised.[8] The quality and style of the different translators also varied considerably from book to book, from the literal to paraphrasing to interpretative. According to one assessment "the Pentateuch is reasonably well translated, but the rest of the books, especially the poetical books, are often very poorly done and even contain sheer absurdities".[9]

As the work of translation progressed gradually, and new books were added to the collection, the compass of the Greek Bible came to be somewhat indefinite. The Pentateuch always maintained its pre-eminence as the basis of the canon; but the prophetic collection (out of which the Nevi'im were selected) changed its aspect by having various hagiographa incorporated into it. Some of the newer works, those called anagignoskomena in Greek, are not included in the Jewish canon. Among these books are Maccabees and the Wisdom of Ben Sira. Also, the Septuagint version of some works, like Daniel and Esther, are longer than those in the Masoretic Text.[10] Some of the later books (Wisdom of Solomon, 2 Maccabees, and others) apparently were composed in Greek.[11]

The authority of the larger group of "writings", out of which the ketuvim were selected, had not yet been determined, although some sort of selective process must have been employed because the Septuagint did not include other well-known Jewish documents such as Enoch or Jubilees or other writings that are now part of the Pseudepigrapha. It is not known what principles were used to determine the contents of the Septuagint beyond the "Law and the Prophets", a phrase used several times in the New Testament.


Pseudepigrapha are falsely attributed works, texts whose claimed authorship is unfounded; a work, simply, "whose real author attributed it to a figure of the past."[1] The word "pseudepigrapha" (from the Greek: ψευδής, pseudēs, "false" and ἐπιγραφή, epigraphē, "inscription"; see the related epigraphy) is the plural of "pseudepigraphon" (sometimes Latinized as "pseudepigraphum"); the Anglicized forms "pseudepigraph" and "pseudepigraphs" are also used.

The Book of Enoch is an example of a pseudepigraph; no Hebrew scholars would ascribe its authorship to Enoch, a figure mentioned in Genesis 5. Nevertheless, in some cases, especially for books belonging to a religious canon, the question of whether a text is pseudepigraphical or not elicits sensations of loyalty and can become a matter of heavy dispute. The authenticity or value of the work itself, which is a separate question for experienced readers, often becomes sentimentally entangled in the association. Though the inherent value of the text may not be called into question, the weight of a revered or even apostolic author lends authority to a text: in Antiquity pseudepigraphy was "an accepted and honored custom practiced by students/admirers of a revered figure".[2] This is the essential motivation for pseudepigraphy in the first place.

Pseudepigraphy covers the false ascription of names of authors to works, even to perfectly authentic works that make no such claim within their text. Thus a widely accepted but incorrect attribution of authorship may make a perfectly authentic text pseudepigraphical. Assessing the actual writer of a text brings questions of pseudepigraphical attributions within the discipline of literary criticism. In a parallel case, forgers have been known to improve the market value of a perfectly genuine 17th-century Dutch painting by adding a painted signature Rembrandt fecit.

On a related note, a famous name assumed by the author of a work is an allonym.

These are the basic and original meanings of the terms.

In Biblical studies, the Pseudepigrapha are Jewish religious works written c 200 BC to 200 AD, not all of which are literally pseudepigraphical.[3] They are distinguished by Protestants from the Deuterocanonical (Catholic and Orthodox) or Apocrypha (Protestant), the books that appear in the Septuagint and Vulgate but not in the Hebrew Bible or in Protestant Bibles.[3] Catholics distinguish only between the Deuterocanonical and all the other books, that are called Apocrypha, a name that is used also for the Pseudepigrapha in the Catholic usage.

Classical and Biblical studies

There have probably been pseudepigrapha almost from the invention of full writing. For example ancient Greek authors often refer to texts which claimed to be by Orpheus or his pupil Musaeus but which attributions were generally disregarded. Already in Antiquity the collection known as the "Homeric hymns" was recognized as pseudepigraphical, that is, not actually written by Homer.

Literary studies

In secular literary studies, when works of Antiquity have been demonstrated not to have been written by the authors to whom they have traditionally been ascribed, some writers apply the prefix pseudo- to their names. Thus the encyclopedic compilation of Greek myth called Bibliotheke is often now attributed, not to Apollodorus, but to "pseudo-Apollodorus" and the Catasterismi, recounting the translations of mythic figure into asterisms and constellations, not to the serious astronomer Eratosthenes, but to a "pseudo-Eratosthenes". The prefix may be abbreviated, as in "ps-Apollodorus" or "ps-Eratosthenes".

Biblical studies

In Biblical studies, pseudepigrapha refers particularly to works which purport to be written by noted authorities in either the Old and New Testaments or by persons involved in Jewish or Christian religious study or history. These works can also be written about Biblical matters, often in such a way that they appear to be as authoritative as works which have been included in the many versions of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. Eusebius of Caesarea indicates this usage dates back at least to Serapion, bishop of Antioch)[clarification needed] whom Eusebius records[4] as having said: "But those writings which are falsely inscribed with their name (ta pseudepigrapha), we as experienced persons reject...."

Many such works were also referred to as Apocrypha, which originally connoted "secret writings", those that were rejected for liturgical public reading. An example of a text that is both apocryphal and pseudepigraphical is the Odes of Solomon, pseudepigraphical because it was not actually written by Solomon but instead is a collection of early Christian (first to second century) hymns and poems, originally written not in Hebrew, and apocryphal because not accepted in either the Tanach or the New Testament.

But Protestants have also applied the word Apocrypha to texts found in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox scriptures which were not found in Hebrew manuscripts. Roman Catholics called those texts "deuterocanonical". Accordingly, there arose in some Protestant Biblical scholarship an extended use of the term pseudepigrapha for works that appeared as though they ought to be part of the Biblical canon, because of the authorship ascribed to them, but which stood outside both the Biblical canons recognized by Protestants and Catholics. These works were also outside the particular set of books that Roman Catholics called deuterocanonical and to which Protestants had generally applied the term Apocryphal. Accordingly, the term pseudepigraphical, as now used often among both Protestants and Roman Catholics (allegedly for the clarity it brings to discussion), may make it difficult to discuss questions of pseudepigraphical authorship of canonical books dispassionately with a lay audience. To confuse the matter even more, Orthodox Christians accept books as canonical that Roman Catholics and most Protestant denominations consider pseudepigraphical or at best of much less authority. There exist also churches that reject some of the books that Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants accept. The same is true of some Jewish sects.[clarification needed]

There is a tendency not to use the word pseudepigrapha when describing works later than about 300 AD when referring to Biblical matters. But the late-appearing Gospel of Barnabas, Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius, the Pseudo-Apuleius (author of a fifth-century herbal ascribed to Apuleius), and the author traditionally referred to as the "Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite", are classic examples of pseudepigraphy. In the fifth century the moralist Salvian published Contra avaritiam under the name of Timothy; the letter in which he explained to his former pupil, Bishop Salonius, his motives for so doing survives.[5] There is also a category of modern pseudepigrapha.

Examples of Old Testament pseudepigrapha are the Ethiopian Book of Enoch, Jubilees (both of which are canonical in the Abyssinian Church of Ethiopia); the Life of Adam and Eve and the Pseudo-Philo. Examples of New Testament pseudepigrapha (but in these cases also likely to be called New Testament Apocrypha) are the Gospel of Peter and the attribution of the Epistle to the Laodiceans to Paul. Further examples of New Testament pseudepigrapha include the aforementioned Gospel of Barnabas, and the Gospel of Judas, which begins by presenting itself as "the secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot".

Biblical Pseudepigrapha

The term Pseudepigrapha commonly refers to numerous works of Jewish religious literature written from about 200 BC to 200 AD.[3] Not all of these works are actually pseudepigraphical.[3] Such works include the following:[3]

• 3 Maccabees
• 4 Maccabees
• Assumption of Moses
• Ethiopic Book of Enoch (1 Enoch)
• Slavonic Book of Enoch (2 Enoch)
• Book of Jubilees
• Greek Apocalypse of Baruch (3 Baruch)
• Letter of Aristeas
• Life of Adam and Eve
• Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah
• Psalms of Solomon
• Sibylline Oracles
• Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch (2 Baruch)
• Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs


1. Bauckham, Richard; "Pseudo-Apostolic Letters", Journal of Biblical Literature, Vo. 107, No. 3, September 1988, pp.469–494.
2. Colossians as Pseudepigraphy (Bible Seminar, 4 Sheffield:JSOT Press) 1986, p. 12.[not specific enough to verify]
3. Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
4. Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae 6,12.
5. Salvian, Epistle, ix.


• von Fritz, Kurt, ed. Pseudepigraphica. 1 (Geneva:Fondation Hardt). Contributions on pseudopythagorica (the literature ascribed to Pythagoras), the Platonic Epistles, Jewish-Hellenistic literature, and the characteristics particular to religious forgeries.
• Kiley, Mark. Colossians as Pseudepigraphy (Bible Seminar, 4 Sheffield:JSOT Press) 1986. Colossians as a non-deceptive school product.
• Metzger, B.M. "Literary forgeries and canonical pseudepigrapha", Journal of Biblical Literature 91 (1972).

Naming and designation

The Septuagint derives its name from Latin Interpretatio septuaginta virorum, (Greek: ἡ μετάφρασις τῶν ἑβδομήκοντα, hē metáphrasis tōn hebdomēkonta), "translation of the seventy interpreters".[2]

As stated in the Tractate Megillah of the Babylonian Talmud (pages 9a-9b), and later narrated by Philo of Alexandria, 72 Jewish translators were used to complete the translation while kept in separate chambers. They all produced identical versions of the text in seventy-two days. This story underlines the fact that Jews in antiquity wished to present the translation as authoritative in order to prevent criticism by non-Jews based on divergent translations.[4] The text in Megillah identifies fifteen specific unusual translations made by the scholars. Only two of these translations are found in the extant LXX.

The word septuaginta[12] means "seventy" in Latin (hence the abbreviation LXX), based on the Jewish source for the translation event that refers to the account, also found in the pseudepigraphic Letter of Aristeas which repeats the story of how seventy-two Jewish scholars were forced [??] [13] by the Greek King of Egypt Ptolemy II Philadelphus in the 3rd century BCE to translate the Torah (or Pentateuch) from Biblical Hebrew into Greek for inclusion in the Library of Alexandria.[4] In Hebrew it is known as Targum Shiv'im - "the translation of the 70".

Letter of Aristeas

The so-called Letter of Aristeas or Letter to Philocrates is a Hellenistic work of the second century BCE, one of the Pseudepigrapha.[1] Josephus[2] who paraphrases about two-fifths of the letter, ascribes it to Aristeas and written to Philocrates, describing the Greek translation of the Hebrew Law by seventy-two interpreters sent into Egypt from Jerusalem at the request of the librarian of Alexandria, resulting in the Septuagint translation. Though some have argued that its story of the creation of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible is fictitious,[3] it is the earliest text to mention the Library of Alexandria.

Over twenty manuscripts of this letter are preserved and it is often mentioned and quoted in other texts. Its supposed author, purporting to be a courtier of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (reigned 281-246 BCE) is most often referred to as pseudo-Aristeas[4]

The work relates how the king of Egypt, presumably Ptolemy II Philadephus, is urged by his librarian Demetrios of Phalaron[5] to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek: the Pentateuch. The king responds favorably, including giving freedom to Jews who had been taken into captivity by his predecessors and sending lavish gifts (which are described in great detail) to the Temple in Jerusalem along with his envoys. The high priest chooses exactly six men from each of the twelve tribes,[6] giving 72 in all; he gives a long sermon in praise of the Law. When the translators arrive in Alexandria the king weeps for joy and for the next seven days puts philosophical questions to the translators, the wise answers to which are related in full. The 72 translators then complete their task in exactly 72 days. The Jews of Alexandria, on hearing the Law read in Greek, request copies and lay a curse on anyone who would change the translation. The king then rewards the translators lavishly and they return home.

A main goal of the second-century author seems to be to establish the superiority of the Greek Septuagint text over any other version of the Hebrew Bible. The author is noticeably pro-Greek, portraying Zeus as simply another name for Hashem, and while criticism is lodged against idolatry and Greek sexual ethics, the argument is phrased in such a way as to attempt to persuade the reader to change, rather than as a hostile attack. The manner in which the author concentrates on describing Judaism, and particularly its temple in Jerusalem could be viewed as an attempt to proselytise.

Early philological analysis detected that the letter was a forgery. In 1684, Humphrey Hody published Contra historiam Aristeae de LXX. interpretibus dissertatio, in which he argued that the so called "Letter of Aristeas" was the late forgery of a Hellenized Jew, originally circulated to lend authority to the Septuagint version. Isaac Vossius (1618-1689), who had been librarian to Queen Christina of Sweden, published a rebuttal to it, in the appendix to his edition of Pomponius Mela, but modern scholarship is unanimously with Hody.

Victor Tcherikover (Hebrew University) summed up the scholarly consensus in 1958:

"Modern scholars commonly regard the “Letter of Aristeas” as a work typical of Jewish apologetics, aiming at self-defense and propaganda, and directed to the Greeks. Here are some instances illustrating this general view. In 1903. Friedlander wrote that the glorification of Judaism in the letter was no more than self-defense, though “the book does not mention the antagonists of Judaism by name, nor does it admit that its intention is to refute direct attacks.” Stein sees in the letter “a special kind of defense, which practices diplomatic tactics,” and Tramontano also speaks of “an apologetic and propagandist tendency.” Vincent characterizes it as “a small unapologetic novel written for the Egyptians” (i.e. the Greeks in Egypt). Pheiffer says: “This fanciful story of the origin of the Septuagint is merely a pretext for defending Judaism against its heathen denigrators, for extolling its nobility and reasonableness, and first striving to convert Greek speaking Gentiles to it.” Schürer classes the letter with a special kind of literature, “Jewish propaganda in Pagan disguise,” whose works are “directed to the pagan reader, in order to make propaganda for Judaism among the Gentiles.” Andrews, too, believes that the role of a Greek was assumed by Aristeas in order “to strengthen the force of the argument and commend it to non-Jewish readers.”[7]

Scholars avid for the scant information about the Library and the Musaeum of Alexandria, have depended on ps-Aristeas, who "has that least attractive quality in a source: to be trusted only where corroborated by better evidence, and there unneeded," Roger Bagnall concluded.[8]


1. Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. (Palo Alto: Mayfield) 1985; André Pelletier, SJ, La Lettre d'Aristée à Philocrate (Paris) 1962.
2. Antiquities XII:ii passim. Online in Greek and English at York University
3. the narrative is "open to the gravest suspicion , and the letter abounds with improbabilities and is now generally regarded as more or less fabulous," observed The Classical Review 335/6 (August-September 1919:123), reporting H. St.J. Tackeray's The Letter of Aristeas, with an Appendix of the Ancient Evidence on the Origin of the LXX..
4. Prosographia Ptolemaica 6 (Leuven 1968: §14588) considers him probably fictitious.
5. Demetrius, a client of Ptolemy I Soter, is not a good candidate as a collaborator with Ptolemy II, Roger S. Bagnall notes, in "Alexandria: Library of Dreams", Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 146.4 (December 2002:348-362) p. 348; he made the strategic mistake at the beginning of the reign of supporting Ptolemy's older half-brother, and was punished with internal exile, dying soon afterwards.
6. The writer of the letters supposes that there were currently twelve tribes in Judea.
7. V. Tcherikover, "The Ideology of the Letter of Aristeas" Harvard Theological Review 51.2 (April 1958), pp. 59-85 (JSTOR ref.)

Textual history

Modern scholarship holds that the LXX was written during the 3rd through 1st centuries BCE. But nearly all attempts at dating specific books, with the exception of the Pentateuch (early- to mid-3rd century BCE), are tentative and without consensus.[4]

Later Jewish revisions and recensions of the Greek against the Hebrew are well attested, the most famous of which include the Three: Aquila (AD 128), Symmachus, and Theodotion. These three, to varying degrees, are more literal renderings of their contemporary Hebrew scriptures as compared to the Old Greek. Modern scholars consider one or more of the 'three' to be totally new Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible.[14]

Around AD 235, Origen, a Christian scholar in Alexandria, completed the Hexapla, a comprehensive comparison of the ancient versions and Hebrew text side-by-side in six columns, with diacritical markings (a.k.a. "editor's marks", "critical signs" or "Aristarchian signs"). Much of this work was lost, but several compilations of the fragments are available. In the first column was the contemporary Hebrew, in the second a Greek transliteration of it, then the newer Greek versions each in their own columns. Origen also kept a column for the Old Greek (the Septuagint) and next to it was a critical apparatus combining readings from all the Greek versions with diacritical marks indicating to which version each line (Gr. στἰχος) belonged.[15] Perhaps the voluminous Hexapla was never copied in its entirety, but Origen's combined text ("the fifth column") was copied frequently, eventually without the editing marks, and the older uncombined text of the LXX was neglected. Thus this combined text became the first major Christian recension of the LXX, often called the Hexaplar recension. In the century following Origen, two other major recensions were identified by Jerome, who attributed these to Lucian and Hesychius.[4]

The oldest manuscripts of the LXX include 2nd century BCE fragments of Leviticus and Deuteronomy (Rahlfs nos. 801, 819, and 957), and 1st century BCE fragments of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and the Minor Prophets (Rahlfs nos. 802, 803, 805, 848, 942, and 943). Relatively complete manuscripts of the LXX postdate the Hexaplar rescension and include the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus of the 4th century and the Codex Alexandrinus of the 5th century. These are indeed the oldest surviving nearly-complete manuscripts of the Old Testament in any language; the oldest extant complete Hebrew texts date some 600 years later, from the first half of the 10th century.[5][16] While there are differences between these three codices, scholarly consensus today holds that one LXX — that is, the original pre-Christian translation — underlies all three. The various Jewish and later Christian revisions and recensions are largely responsible for the divergence of the codices.[4]

Relationship between the Septuagint and the Masoretic text

The sources of the many differences between the Septuagint and the Masoretic text have long been discussed by scholars. The most widely accepted view today is that the original Septuagint provided a reasonably accurate record of an early Semitic textual variant, now lost, that differed from ancestors of the Masoretic text. Ancient scholars, however, had no reason to suspect such a possibility. Early Christians—who were largely unfamiliar with Hebrew texts, and were thus only made aware of the differences through the newer Greek versions—tended to dismiss the differences as a product of uninspired translation of the Hebrew in these new versions. Following the Renaissance, a common opinion among some humanists was that the LXX translators made a poor translation from the Hebrew and that the LXX became more corrupt with time.

These issues notwithstanding, the text of the LXX is generally close to that of the Masoretes. For example, Genesis 4:1-6 is identical in both the LXX and the Masoretic Text. Likewise, Genesis 4:8 to the end of the chapter is the same. There is only one noticeable difference in that chapter, at 4:7, to wit:

Genesis 4:7, LXX (NETS)
If you offer correctly but do not divide correctly, have you not sinned? Be still; his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him.

Genesis 4:7, Masoretic (NRSV)
If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.

This instance illustrates the complexity of assessing differences between the LXX and the Masoretic Text. Despite the striking divergence of meaning here between the two, nearly identical consonantal Hebrew source texts can be reconstructed. The readily apparent semantic differences result from alternative strategies for interpreting the difficult verse and relate to differences in vowelization and punctuation of the consonantal text.

The differences between the LXX and the MT thus fall into four categories.[17]

1. Different Hebrew sources for the MT and the LXX. Evidence of this can be found throughout the Old Testament. Most obvious are major differences in Jeremiah and Job, where the LXX is much shorter and chapters appear in different order than in the MT, and Esther where almost one third of the verses in the LXX text have no parallel in the MT. A more subtle example may be found in Isaiah 36.11; the meaning ultimately remains the same, but the choice of words evidences a different text. The MT reads " tedaber yehudit be-'ozne ha`am al ha-homa" [speak not the Judean language in the ears of (or — which can be heard by) the people on the wall]. The same verse in the LXX reads according to the translation of Brenton "and speak not to us in the Jewish tongue: and wherefore speakest thou in the ears of the men on the wall." The MT reads "people" where the LXX reads "men". This difference is very minor and does not affect the meaning of the verse. Scholars at one time had used discrepancies such as this to claim that the LXX was a poor translation of the Hebrew original. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, variant Hebrew texts of the Bible were found. In fact this verse is found in Qumran (1QIsaa) where the Hebrew word "haanashim" (the men) is found in place of "haam" (the people). This discovery, and others like it, showed that even seemingly minor differences of translation could be the result of variant Hebrew source texts.

2. Differences in interpretation stemming from the same Hebrew text. A good example is Genesis 4.7, shown above.

3. Differences as a result of idiomatic translation issues (i.e. a Hebrew idiom may not easily translate into Greek, thus some difference is intentionally or unintentionally imparted). For example, in Psalm 47:10 the MT reads "The shields of the earth belong to God". The LXX reads "To God are the mighty ones of the earth." The metaphor "shields" would not have made much sense to a Greek speaker; thus the words "mighty ones" are substituted in order to retain the original meaning.

4. Transmission changes in Hebrew or Greek (Diverging revisionary/recensional changes and copyist errors)

Dead Sea Scrolls

The discovery of many Biblical fragments in the Dead Sea scrolls that agree with the Septuagint rather than the Masoretic Text proved that many of the variants in Greek were also present in early Semitic manuscripts.[18]

Many of the oldest Biblical fragments among the Dead Sea Scrolls, particularly those in Aramaic, correspond more closely with the LXX than with the Masoretic text (although the majority of these variations are extremely minor, e.g. grammatical changes, spelling differences or missing words, and do not affect the meaning of sentences and paragraphs).[2][19][20] This confirms the scholarly consensus that the LXX represents a separate Hebrew-text tradition from that which was later standardized as the Masoretic text.[2][21]

Use of the Septuagint

Jewish use

In the 3rd century BCE, most Jewish communities were located in the Hellenistic world where Greek was the lingua franca. It is believed that the LXX was produced because many Jews outside of Judea needed a Greek version of the scripture for use during synagogue readings[22][23] or for religious study.[24] Some theorise that Hellenistic Jews intended the septuagint as a contribution to Hellenistic culture.[4] Alexandria held the greatest diaspora Jewish community of the age and was also a great center of Greek letters. Alexandria is thus likely the site of LXX authorship, a notion supported by the legend of Ptolemy and the 72 scholars.[25] The Septuagint enjoyed widespread use in the Hellenistic Jewish diaspora and even in Jerusalem, which had become a rather cosmopolitan (and therefore Greek-speaking) town. Both Philo and Josephus show a reliance on the Septuagint in their citations of Jewish scripture.

Starting approximately in the 2nd century AD (see also Council of Jamnia), several factors led most Jews to abandon use of the LXX. The earliest gentile Christians of necessity used the LXX, as it was at the time the only Greek version of the bible, and most, if not all, of these early non-Jewish Christians could not read Hebrew. The association of the LXX with a rival religion may have rendered it suspect in the eyes of the newer generation of Jews and Jewish scholars.[5] Perhaps more importantly, the Greek language—and therefore the Greek Bible—declined among Jews after most of them fled from the Greek-speaking eastern Roman Empire into the Aramaic-speaking Persian Empire when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. Instead, Jews used Hebrew/Aramaic Targum manuscripts later compiled by the Masoretes; and authoritative Aramaic translations, such as those of Onkelos and Rabbi Yonathan ben Uziel.[26]

What was perhaps most significant for the LXX, as distinct from other Greek versions, was that the LXX began to lose Jewish sanction after differences between it and contemporary Hebrew scriptures were discovered. Even Greek-speaking Jews — such as those remaining in Palestine — tended less to the LXX, preferring other Jewish versions in Greek, such as that of Aquila, which seemed to be more concordant with contemporary Hebrew texts.[5] While Jews have not used the LXX in worship or religious study since the second century AD, recent scholarship has brought renewed interest in it in Judaic Studies.

Christian use

The Early Christian Church used the Greek texts since Greek was a lingua franca of the Roman Empire at the time, and the language of the Greco-Roman Church (Aramaic was the language of Syriac Christianity, which used the Targums). In addition the Church Fathers tended to accept Philo's account of the LXX's miraculous and inspired origin. Furthermore, the New Testament writers, when citing the Jewish scriptures or when quoting Jesus doing so, freely used the Greek translation, implying that Jesus, his Apostles and their followers considered it reliable.[27]

When Jerome undertook the revision of the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint, he checked the Septuagint against the Hebrew texts that were then available. He came to believe that the Hebrew text better testified to Christ than the Septuagint.[28] He broke with church tradition and translated most of the Old Testament of his Vulgate from Hebrew rather than Greek. His choice was severely criticized by Augustine, his contemporary; a flood of still less moderate criticism came from those who regarded Jerome as a forger. But with the passage of time, acceptance of Jerome's version gradually increased until it displaced the Old Latin translations of the Septuagint.[5]

The Hebrew text diverges in some passages that Christians hold to prophesy Christ[29] and the Eastern Orthodox Church still prefers to use the LXX as the basis for translating the Old Testament into other languages. The Eastern Orthodox also use LXX untranslated where Greek is the liturgical language, e.g. in the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, the Church of Greece and the Cypriot Orthodox Church. Many modern critical translations of the Old Testament, while using the Masoretic text as their basis, consult the Septuagint as well as other versions in an attempt to reconstruct the meaning of the Hebrew text whenever the latter is unclear, undeniably corrupt, or ambiguous.[5]


The Septuagint includes some books not found in the Hebrew Bible. Many Protestant Bibles follow the Jewish canon and exclude the additional books. Roman Catholics, however, include some of these books in their canon while Eastern Orthodox Churches use all the books of the Septuagint (except the Psalms of Solomon[30]). Anglican lectionaries also use all of the books except Psalm 151, and the full Authorized (King James) Version includes these additional books in a separate section labelled the "Apocrypha".

Language of the Septuagint

Some sections of the Septuagint may show Semiticisms, or idioms and phrases based on Semitic languages like Hebrew and Aramaic.[27] Other books, such as LXX Daniel and Proverbs, show Greek influence more strongly.[4] The book of Daniel that is found in almost all Greek bibles, however, is not from the LXX, but rather from Theodotion's translation, which more closely resembles the Masoretic Daniel.[4]

The LXX is also useful for elucidating pre-Masoretic Hebrew: many proper nouns are spelled out with Greek vowels in the LXX, while contemporary Hebrew texts lacked vowel pointing.[31] One must, however, evaluate such evidence with caution since it is extremely unlikely that all ancient Hebrew sounds had precise Greek equivalents.[32]

Books of the Septuagint

All the books of western canons of the Old Testament are found in the Septuagint, although the order does not always coincide with the Western ordering of the books. The Septuagint order for the Old Testament is evident in the earliest Christian Bibles (5th century).[4]

Some books that are set apart in the Masoretic text are grouped together. For example the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings are in the LXX one book in four parts called Βασιλειῶν ("Of Reigns"); scholars believe that this is the original arrangement before the book was divided for readability. In LXX, the Books of Chronicles supplement Reigns and it is called Paraleipoménon (Παραλειπομένων—things left out). The Septuagint organizes the minor prophets as twelve parts of one Book of Twelve.[4]

Some scripture of ancient origin are found in the Septuagint but are not present in the Hebrew.

The New Testament makes a number of allusions to and may quote the additional books. The books are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus Sirach, Baruch, Epistle of Jeremy (which later became chapter 6 of Baruch in the Vulgate), additions to Daniel (The Prayer of Azarias, the Song of the Three Children, Sosanna and Bel and the Dragon), additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Odes, including the Prayer of Manasses, and Psalm 151. The canonical acceptance of these books varies among different Christian traditions, and there are canonical books not derived from the Septuagint; for a discussion see the article on Biblical apocrypha.

Extracts from Theodotion

In most ancient copies of the Bible which contain the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel is not the original Septuagint version, but instead is a copy of Theodotion's translation from the Hebrew[33]. The Septuagint version of the Book of Daniel was discarded, in favour of Theodotion's version, in the second to third centuries; in Greek-speaking areas, this happened near the end of the second century, and in Latin-speaking areas (at least in North Africa), it occurred in the middle of the third century[33]. History does not record the reason for this, and Jerome basically reports, in the preface to the Vulgate version of Daniel, this thing 'just' happened[33].

The canonical Ezra-Nehemiah is known in the Septuagint as "Esdras B", and 1 Esdras is "Esdras A". 1 Esdras is a very similar text to the books of Ezra-Nehemiah, and the two are widely thought by scholars to be derived from the same original text. It has been proposed, and is thought highly likely by scholars, that "Esdras B" - the canonical Ezra-Nehemiah - is Theodotion's version of this material, and "Esdras A" is the version which was previously in the Septuagint on its own[33].

Printed editions

• The editio princeps is the Complutensian Polyglot. It was based on manuscripts that are now lost, but seems to transmit quite early readings.[34]
• The Aldine edition (begun by Aldus Manutius) appeared at Venice in 1518. The text is closer to Codex Vaticanus than the Complutensian. The editor says he collated ancient manuscripts but does not specify them. It has been reprinted several times.
• The most important edition is the Roman or Sixtine, which reproduces the Codex Vaticanus" almost exclusively. It was published under the direction of Cardinal Caraffa, with the help of various savants, in 1586, by the authority of Sixtus V, to assist the revisers who were preparing the Latin Vulgate edition ordered by the Council of Trent. It has become the textus receptus of the Greek Old Testament and has had many new editions, such as that of Robert Holmes and James Parsons (Oxford, 1798-1827), the seven editions of Constantin von Tischendorf, which appeared at Leipzig between 1850 and 1887, the last two, published after the death of the author and revised by Nestle, the four editions of Henry Barclay Swete (Cambridge, 1887-95, 1901, 1909), etc.
• Grabe's edition was published at Oxford, from 1707 to 1720, and reproduced, but imperfectly, the "Codex Alexandrinus" of London. For partial editions, see Fulcran Vigouroux, Dictionnaire de la Bible, 1643 sqq.
• Alfred Rahlfs, a longtime Septuagint researcher at Göttingen, began a manual edition of the Septuagint in 1917 or 1918. The completed Septuaginta was published in 1935. It relies mainly on Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Alexandrinus, and presents a critical apparatus with variants from these and several other sources.[35]
• The Göttingen Septuagint (Vetus Testamentum Graecum: Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum) is a major critical version, comprising multiple volumes published from 1931 to 2006 and not yet complete. Its two critical apparatuses present variant Septuagint readings and variants from other Greek versions.[36]
• In 2006, a revision of Alfred Rahlfs's Septuaginta was published by the German Bible Society. This editio altera includes over a thousand changes to the text and apparatus.[37]
• The Apostolic Bible Polyglot contains a Septuagint text derived mainly from the agreement of any two of the Complutensian Polyglot, the Sixtine, and the Aldine texts.[38]

English Translations of the Septuagint

The Septuagint has been translated a few times into English, the first one (though excluding the Apocrypha) being that of Charles Thomson in 1808; his translation was later revised and enlarged by C. A. Muses in 1954. The translation of Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton, published in 1851, is a long-time standard. For most of the time since its publication it has been the only one readily available, and has continually been in print. It is based primarily upon the Codex Vaticanus and contains the Greek and English texts in parallel columns. There also is a revision of the Brenton Septuagint available through Stauros Ministries, called The Apostles' Bible, released in January 2008. [2]

The International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS) has produced A New English Translation of the Septuagint and the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included Under that Title (NETS), an academic translation based on standard critical editions of the Greek texts. It was published by Oxford University Press in October 2007.

The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, published in 2007, includes the Greek books of the Hebrew canon along with the Greek New Testament, all numerically coded to the AB-Strong numbering system, and set in monotonic orthography. Included in the printed edition is a concordance and index.

The Orthodox Study Bible was released in early 2008 with a new translation of the Septuagint based on the New King James Version. It also includes extensive commentary from an Eastern Orthodox perspective.[39]

The Eastern / Greek Orthodox Bible (EOB) is an extensive revision and correction of Brenton’s translation which was primarily based on Codex Vaticanus. Its language and syntax has been modernized and simplified. It also includes extensive introductory material and footnotes featuring significant inter-LXX and LXX/MT variants.

International Septuagint Day

The International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS), a nonprofit, learned society formed to promote international research in and study of the Septuagint and related texts,[40] has established February 8 annually as International Septuagint Day, a day to promote the discipline on campuses and in communities.

Defining Septuagint

Although the integrity of the Septuagint as a text distinct from the Masoretic text is supported by Dead Sea scroll evidence, the LXX does show signs of age in that textual variants are attested. There is at least one highly unreliable nearly complete text of the LXX, Codex Alexandrinus. Nearly complete texts of the Septuagint are also found in the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209 and Codex Sinaiticus, which do not perfectly coincide. But the LXX is a particularly excellent text when compared to other ancient works with textual variants. It has been argued that it is unjustified to reject the existence of a Septuagint merely on the basis of variation due to editorial recension and typographical error.[41][42]

The title "Septuagint" should not to be confused with the seven or more other Greek versions of the Old Testament, most of which do not survive except as fragments. These other Greek versions were once in side-by-side columns of Origen's Hexapla, now almost wholly lost. Of these the most important are "the three:" those by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, which are identified by particular Semiticisms and placement of Hebrew and Aramaic characters within their Greek texts.

One of two Old Greek texts of the Book of Daniel has been recently rediscovered and work is ongoing in reconstructing the original form of the Septuagint as a whole.[4]


1. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, for instance.
2. Karen Jobes and Moises Silva, Invitation to the Septuagint ISBN 1-84227-061-3, (Paternoster Press, 2001). - The current standard for Introductory works on the Septuagint.
3. Life after death: a history of the afterlife in the religions of the West, Alan F. Segal, p.363
4. ennifer M. Dines, The Septuagint, Michael A. Knibb, Ed., London: T&T Clark, 2004
5. Ernst Würthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, trans. Errol F. Rhodes, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1995.
6. Josephus, Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, 12.2.11-15; Whiston, William; The Complete Works of Josephus; Hendrickson Publishers, (Nashville, Tennessee, 1987); ISBN 0-913573-86-8
7. Tractate Megillah 9
8. Joel Kalvesmaki, The Septuagint
9. Sir Godfrey Driver, Introduction to the Old Testament of the New English Bible (1970)
10. Rick Grant Jones, Various Religious Topics, "Books of the Septuagint," (Accessed 2006.9.5).
11. See Books of the Bible
12. The Canon Debate, McDonald & Sanders editors, chapter by Sundberg, page 72, adds further detail: "However, it was not until the time of Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) that the Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures came to be called by the Latin term septuaginta. [70 rather than 72] In his City of God 18.42, while repeating the story of Aristeas with typical embellishments, Augustine adds the remark, "It is their translation that it has now become traditional to call the Septuagint" ...[Latin omitted]... Augustine thus indicates that this name for the Greek translation of the scriptures was a recent development. But he offers no clue as to which of the possible antecedents led to this development: Exod 24:1-8, Josephus [Antiquities 12.57, 12.86], or an elision. ...this name Septuagint appears to have been a fourth to fifth-century development."
13. Translation of Torah into other languages was forbidden by Halakha
14. Compare Dines, who is certain only of Symmachus being a truly new version, with Würthwein, who considers only Theodotion to be a revision, and even then possibly of an earlier non-LXX version.
15. Jerome, From Jerome, Letter LXXI (404 AD), NPNF1-01. The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustin, with a Sketch of his Life and Work, Phillip Schaff, Ed.
16. Due to the practice of burying Torah scrolls invalidated for use by age, commonly after 300-400 years
17. See, Jinbachian, Some Semantically Significant Differences Between the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint, [1].
18. Jones, Table: Dead Sea Scrolls-Septuagint Alignments Against the Masoretic Text.
19. a b Timothy McLay, The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research ISBN 0-8028-6091-5. — The current standard introduction on the NT & LXX.
20. V.S. Herrell, The History of the Bible, "Qumran: Dead Sea Scrolls."
21. William Priestly, "The Dead Sea Scrolls." — A detailed explanation with scholarly apparatus.
22. L.L. Grabbe, Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian. I. Persian and Greek Periods. II. Roman Period, London: SCM Press, 1994.
23. Joachim Schaper, Eschatology in the Greek Psalter, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1995.
24. H. Orlinsky, "The Septuagint and its Hebrew Text," in The Cambridge History of Judaism, vol. II, The Hellenistic Age, W. Davies and L. Finkelstein, Eds., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
25. There is some debate, however, regarding the location of the translations of the non-Pentateuch books. See Dines. One theory, that even the Pentateuch reflects variant "local" forms, is criticized in Emmanuel Tov, The Text Critical Use of The Septuagint in Biblical Research, 2nd ed., Jerusalem: Simor, 1997.
26. Greek-speaking Judaism (see also Hellenistic Judaism), survived, however, on a smaller scale into the medieval period. Cf. Natalio Fernández Marcos, The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Bible, Leiden: Brill, 2000.
27. H. B. Swete, An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, revised by R.R. Ottley, 1914; reprint, Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1989.
28. Jerome; Translated by Kevin P. Edgecomb (2007-09-06). "Beginning of the Prologue of Saint Jerome the Presbyter on the Pentateuch". Retrieved 2009-02-04.
29. name=
31. Hoffman, Book Review,, 2004.
32. Paul Joüon, SJ, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, trans. and revised by T. Muraoka, vol. I, Rome: Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 2000.
33. This article incorporates text from the 1903 Encyclopaedia Biblica article "TEXT AND VERSIONS", a publication now in the public domain.
34. Joseph Ziegler, "Der griechische Dodekepropheton-Text der Complutenser Polyglotte," Biblica 25:297-310, cited in Würthwein.
35. Rahlfs, A. (Ed.). (1935/1979). Septuaginta. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
36. IOSCS: Critical Editions of Septuagint/Old Greek Texts
37. German Bible Society
38. Introduction to the Apostolic Bible
39. About the Orthodox Study Bible
41. Priestly
42. "A New Look at the Septuagint"
43. The canon of the original Old Greek LXX is disputed. This table reflects the canon of the Old Testament as used currently in Orthodoxy.
44. Βασιλειῶν (Basileiōn) is the genitive plural of Βασιλεῖα (Basileia).
45. That is, Things set aside from Ἔσδρας Αʹ.
46. also called Τωβείτ or Τωβίθ in some sources.
47. Not in Orthodox Canon, but originally included in the LXX.
48. Obdiou is genitive from "The vision of Obdias," which opens the book.
49. Originally placed after 3 Maccabees and before Psalms, but placed in an appendix of the Orthodox Canon

Other references

Kantor, Mattis, The Jewish time line encyclopedia: A yearby-year history from Creation to the present, Jason Aronson Inc., London, 1992
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

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Part 3 of 3

A number of books which are part of the Peshitta or Greek Septuagint but are not found in the Hebrew (Rabbinic) Bible are often referred to as deuterocanonical books by Roman Catholics referring to a later secondary (i.e. deutero) canon. Most Protestants term these books as apocrypha. Evangelicals and those of the Modern Protestant traditions do not accept the deuterocanonical books as canonical, although Protestant Bibles included them in Apocrypha sections until around the 1820s. However, the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches include these books as part of their Old Testament.

The Roman Catholic Church recognizes the following books:

• Tobit
• Judith
• 1 Maccabees
• 2 Maccabees
• Wisdom of Solomon
• Sirach also called Ecclesiasticus
• Baruch
• The Letter of Jeremiah (Baruch Chapter 6)
• Greek Additions to Esther
• The Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children
• Susanna
• Bel and the Dragon

In addition to those, the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches recognize the following:

• 3 Maccabees
• 1 Esdras
• Prayer of Manasseh
• Psalm 151

Some other Eastern Orthodox Churches include:

• 2 Esdras i.e., Latin Esdras in the Russian and Georgian Bibles

There is also 4 Maccabees which is only accepted as canonical in the Georgian Church, but was included by St. Jerome in an appendix to the Vulgate, and is an appendix to the Greek Orthodox Bible, and it therefore sometimes included in collections of the Apocrypha.

The Anglican Church uses some of the Apocryphal books liturgically, but not to establish doctrine. Therefore, editions of the Bible intended for use in the Anglican Church include the Deuterocanonical books accepted by the Catholic Church, plus 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh, which were in the Vulgate appendix.

New Testament

The New Testament relates the life and teachings of Jesus through the Gospels, the letters of the Apostle Paul and other disciples to the early church and the Book of Revelation. The New Testament writers assumed the inspiration of the Old Testament as formally stated in 2 Timothy 3:16: "Every God-inspired scripture is profitable for teaching...," consistent with what New Testament scholar Frank Stagg says is the emphasis of the entire Bible on God's initiative in self-revelation and redemption. Stagg adds that the purpose of scriptures is served only when they bring one under the judgment and correction of God, leading to righteousness.[5]

The New Testament is a collection of 27 books, of 4 different genres of Christian literature (Gospels, one account of the Acts of the Apostles, Epistles and an Apocalypse). Jesus is its central figure. Nearly all Christians recognize the New Testament (as stated below) as canonical scripture. These books can be grouped into:

The Gospels

• Synoptic Gospels
o Gospel According to Matthew, Mt
o Gospel According to Mark, Mk
o Gospel According to Luke, Lk
• Gospel According to John, Jn
• Acts of the Apostles, Ac (continues Luke)

Pauline Epistles

• Epistle to the Romans, Ro
• First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Co
• Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 2Co
• Epistle to the Galatians, Ga
• Epistle to the Ephesians, Ep
• Epistle to the Philippians, Pp
• Epistle to the Colossians, Cl
• First Epistle to the Thessalonians, 1Th
Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, 2Th

Pastoral Epistles

• First Epistle to Timothy, 1Ti
• Second Epistle to Timothy, 2Ti
• Epistle to Titus, Tt
• Epistle to Philemon, Pm
• Epistle to the Hebrews, He

General Epistles, also called Jewish Epistles

• Epistle of James, Jm
• First Epistle of Peter, 1Pe
• Second Epistle of Peter, 2Pe
• First Epistle of John, 1Jn
• Second Epistle of John, 2Jn
• Third Epistle of John, 3Jn
• Epistle of Jude, Jd
• Revelation, or the Apocalypse Re

The order of these books varies according to Church tradition. The New Testament books are ordered differently in the Catholic/Protestant tradition, the Slavonic tradition, the Syriac tradition and the Ethiopian tradition.

Original language

The books of the New Testament were written in Koine Greek, the language of the earliest extant manuscripts, even though some authors often included translations from Hebrew and Aramaic texts. Certainly the Pauline Epistles were written in Greek for Greek-speaking audiences. See Greek primacy. Some scholars believe that some books of the Greek New Testament (in particular, the Gospel of Matthew) are actually translations of a Hebrew or Aramaic original. Of these, a small number accept the Syriac Peshitta as representative of the original. See Aramaic primacy.

Historic editions

When ancient scribes copied earlier books, they wrote notes on the margins of the page (marginal glosses) to correct their text—especially if a scribe accidentally omitted a word or line—and to comment about the text. When later scribes were copying the copy, they were sometimes uncertain if a note was intended to be included as part of the text. See textual criticism. Over time, different regions evolved different versions, each with its own assemblage of omissions and additions.

The autographs, the Greek manuscripts written by the original authors, have not survived. Scholars surmise the original Greek text from the versions that do survive. The three main textual traditions of the Greek New Testament are sometimes called the Alexandrian text-type (generally minimalist), the Byzantine text-type (generally maximalist), and the Western text-type (occasionally wild). Together they comprise most of the ancient manuscripts.

Christian theology

While individual books within the Christian Bible present narratives set in certain historical periods, most Christian denominations teach that the Bible itself has an overarching message.

The Bible has always been central to the life of the Christian church. Bible scholar N.T. Wright says Jesus himself was profoundly shaped by the scriptures—the ancient Hebrew and Aramaic texts whose stories, songs, prophecy and wisdom permeated the Jewish world of his day. He adds that the earliest Christians also searched those same scriptures in their effort to understand what their living God had accomplished through the brief earthly life of Jesus. They regarded the ancient Israelites' scriptures as having reached a climactic fulfillment in Jesus himself, generating the "new covenant" prophesied by Jeremiah.[11]

There are wide differences of opinion among Christians as to how particular incidents as described in the Bible are to be interpreted and as to what meaning should be attached to various prophecies. However, Christians in general are in agreement as to the Bible's basic message. A general outline, as described by C. S. Lewis, is as follows:[12]

1. At some point in the past, humanity chose to depart from God's will and began to sin.
2. Because no one is free from sin, people cannot deal with God directly, so God revealed Himself in ways people could understand.
3. God called Abraham and his progeny to be the means for saving all of humanity.
4. To this end, He gave the Law to Moses.
5. The resulting nation of Israel went through cycles of sin and repentance, yet the prophets show an increasing understanding of the Law as a moral, not just a ceremonial, force.
6. Jesus brought a perfect understanding of the Mosaic Law, that of love and salvation.
7. By His death and resurrection, all who believe are saved and reconciled to God.

Many Christians, Muslims, and Jews regard the Bible as inspired by God yet written fallibly by imperfect men. Many others, who identify themselves as biblical literalists, regard both the New and Old Testament as the undiluted Word of God, spoken by God and written down in its perfect form by humans. Still others hold the Biblical infallibility perspective, that the Bible is free from error in spiritual but not scientific matters. "Bible scholars claim that discussions about the Bible must be put into its context within church history and then into the context of contemporary culture."[11]

Belief in sacred texts is attested to in Jewish antiquity,[13][14] and this belief can also be seen in the earliest of Christian writings. Various texts of the Bible mention Divine agency in relation to prophetic writings,[15] the most explicit being: "All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."[2 Timothy 3:16]

In their book A General Introduction to the Bible, Norman Geisler and William Nix wrote: "The process of inspiration is a mystery of the providence of God, but the result of this process is a verbal, plenary, inerrant, and authoritative record."[16]

Most evangelical biblical scholars[17][18][19] associate inspiration with only the original text; for example some American Protestants adhere to the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy which asserted that inspiration applied only to the autographic text of Scripture.[20] However, some adherents to the King James Only view attribute inerrancy to a particular translation.


The word "canon" etymologically means cane or reed. In early Christianity "canon" referred to a list of books approved for public reading. Books not on the list were referred to as "apocryphal" — meaning they were for private reading only. Under Latin usage from the fourth century on, canon came to stand for a closed and authoritative list in the sense of rule or norm.[5]

Hebrew Bible

The New Testament refers to the threefold division of the Hebrew Scriptures: the law, the prophets, and the writings. Luke 24:44 refers to the "law of Moses" (Pentateuch), the "prophets" which include certain historical books in addition to the books now called "prophets," and the psalms (the "writings" designated by its most prominent collection). The Hebrew Bible probably was canonized in these three stages: the law canonized before the Exile, the prophets by the time of the Syrian persecution of the Jews, and the writings shortly after AD 70 (the fall of Jerusalem). About that time, early Christian writings began being accepted by Christians as "scripture." These events, taken together, may have caused the Jews to close their "canon." They listed their own recognized Scriptures and also excluded both Christian and Jewish writings considered by them to be "apocryphal." In this canon the thirty-nine books found in the Old Testament of today's Christian Bibles were grouped together as twenty-two books, equaling the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. This canon of Jewish scripture is attested to by Philo, Josephus, the New Testament,[21] and the Talmud.[5]

The New Testament writers assumed the inspiration of the Old Testament, probably earliest stated in 2 Timothy 3:16, "all Scripture is inspired of God."[5]

Old and New Testaments

The Old Testament canon entered into Christian use in the Greek Septuagint translations and original books, and their differing lists of texts. In addition to the Septuagint, Christianity subsequently added various writings that would become the New Testament. Somewhat different lists of accepted works continued to develop in antiquity. In the fourth century a series of synods produced a list of texts equal to the 39-to-46-book canon of the Old Testament and to the 27-book canon of the New Testament that would be subsequently used to today, most notably the Synod of Hippo in AD 393. Also c. 400, Jerome produced a definitive Latin edition of the Bible (see Vulgate), the canon of which, at the insistence of the Pope, was in accord with the earlier Synods. With the benefit of hindsight it can be said that this process effectively set the New Testament canon, although there are examples of other canonical lists in use after this time. A definitive list did not come from an Ecumenical Council until the Council of Trent (1545–63).[22]

During the Protestant Reformation, certain reformers proposed different canonical lists than what was currently in use. Though not without debate, see Antilegomena, the list of New Testament books would come to remain the same; however, the Old Testament texts present in the Septuagint, but not included in the Jewish canon, fell out of favor. In time they would come to be removed from most Protestant canons. Hence, in a Catholic context these texts are referred to as deuterocanonical books, whereas in a Protestant context they are referred to as Apocrypha, the label applied to all texts excluded from the biblical canon which were in the Septuagint. It should also be noted, that Catholics and Protestants both describe certain other books, such as the Acts of Peter, as apocryphal.

Thus, the Protestant Old Testament of today has a 39-book canon—the number varies from that of the books in the Tanakh (though not in content) because of a different method of division—while the Roman Catholic Church recognizes 46 books as part of the canonical Old Testament. The term "Hebrew Scriptures" is only synonymous with the Protestant Old Testament, not the Catholic, which contains the Hebrew Scriptures and additional texts. Both Catholics and Protestants have the same 27-book New Testament Canon.

Qumran Bible

The Bible used at Qumran excluded Esther but included Tobit. Otherwise, it seems to have been basically the same as the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, albeit with many textual variants.

Ethiopian Orthodox canon

The Canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is wider than for most other Christian groups. The Ethiopian Old Testament Canon includes the books found in the Septuagint accepted by other Orthodox Christians, in addition to Enoch and Jubilees which are ancient Jewish books that only survived in Ge'ez but are quoted in the New Testament, also Greek Ezra First and the Apocalypse of Ezra, 3 books of Meqabyan, and Psalm 151 at the end of the Psalter. The three books of Meqabyan are not be confused with the books of Maccabees. The order of the other books is somewhat different from other groups', as well. The Old Testament follows the Septuagint order for the Minor Prophets rather than the Jewish order.

Marcionite Bible

Marcion, an early Christian heretic, and his followers, had a Bible that excluded the Old Testament. It consisted of an edited Gospel of Luke (excluding what Marcion considered Jewish additions), and the Epistles of Paul (excluding Titus, the two epistles to Timothy, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and passages rejected as Jewish additions).[23]

Bible versions and translations

Bible versions are discussed below, while Bible translations can be found on a separate page.

The original texts of the Tanakh were in Hebrew, although some portions were in Aramaic. In addition to the authoritative Masoretic Text, Jews still refer to the Septuagint, the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, and the Targum Onkelos, an Aramaic version of the Bible. There are several different ancient versions of the Tanakh in Hebrew, mostly differing by spelling, and the traditional Jewish version is based on the version known as Aleppo Codex. Even in this version by itself, there are words which are traditionally read differently from written (sometimes one word is written and another is read), because the oral tradition is considered more fundamental than the written one, and presumably mistakes had been made in copying the text over the generations.

The primary biblical text for early Christians was the Septuagint or (LXX). In addition, they translated the Hebrew Bible into several other languages. Translations were made into Syriac, Coptic, Ge'ez and Latin, among other languages. The Latin translations were historically the most important for the Church in the West, while the Greek-speaking East continued to use the Septuagint translations of the Old Testament and had no need to translate the New Testament.

The earliest Latin translation was the Old Latin text, or Vetus Latina, which, from internal evidence, seems to have been made by several authors over a period of time. It was based on the Septuagint, and thus included books not in the Hebrew Bible.

Pope Damasus I assembled the first list of books of the Bible at the Council of Rome in AD 382. He commissioned Saint Jerome to produce a reliable and consistent text by translating the original Greek and Hebrew texts into Latin. This translation became known as the Latin Vulgate Bible and in 1546 at the Council of Trent was declared by the Church to be the only authentic and official Bible in the Latin Rite.

Especially since the Protestant Reformation, Bible translations for many languages have been made. The Bible has seen a notably large number of English language translations.

The work of Bible translation continues, including by Christian organisations such as Wycliffe Bible Translators, New Tribes Mission and the Bible Societies. Of the world's 6,900 languages, 2,400 have some or all of the Bible, 1,600 (spoken by more than a billion people) have translation underway, and some 2,500 (spoken by 270 million people) are judged as needing translation to begin.[25]

Biblical criticism

Biblical criticism refers to the investigation of the Bible as a text, and addresses questions such as authorship, dates of composition, and authorial intention. It is not the same as criticism of the Bible, which is an assertion against the Bible being a source of information or ethical guidance.

Higher criticism

The traditional view of the Mosaic authorship of the Torah came under sporadic criticism from medieval scholars including Isaac ibn Yashush, Abraham ibn Ezra, Bonfils of Damascus and bishop Tostatus of Avila[citation needed], who pointed to passages such as the description of the death of Moses in Deuteronomy as evidence that some portions, at least, could not have been written by Moses.

In the 17th century Thomas Hobbes collected the current evidence and became the first scholar[citation needed] to conclude outright that Moses could not have written the bulk of the Torah. Shortly afterwards the philosopher Baruch Spinoza published a unified critical analysis, arguing that the problematic passages were not isolated cases that could be explained away one by one, but pervasive throughout the five books, concluding that it was "clearer than the sun at noon that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses…." Despite determined opposition from Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, the views of Hobbes and Spinoza gained increasing acceptance amongst scholars.

Documentary hypothesis

Scholars intrigued by the hypothesis that Moses had not written the Pentateuch considered other authors. Independent but nearly simultaneous proposals by H. B. Witter, Jean Astruc, and Johann Gottfried Eichhorn separated the Pentateuch into two original documentary components, both dating from after the time of Moses. Others hypothesized the presence of two additional sources. The four documents were given working titles: J (Jahwist/Yahwist), E (Elohist), P (Priestly), and D (Deuteronomist). Each was discernible by its own characteristic language, and each, when read in isolation, presented a unified, coherent narrative.

Subsequent scholars, notably Eduard Reuss, Karl Heinrich Graf and Wilhelm Vatke, turned their attention to the order in which the documents had been composed (which they deduced from internal clues) and placed them in the context of a theory of the development of ancient Israelite religion, suggesting that much of the Laws and the narrative of the Pentateuch were unknown to the Israelites in the time of Moses. These were synthesized by Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918), who suggested a historical framework for the composition of the documents and their redaction (combination) into the final document known as the Pentateuch. This hypothesis was challenged by William Henry Green in his The Mosaic Origins of the Pentateuchal Codes (available online). Nonetheless, according to contemporary Torah scholar Richard Elliott Friedman, Wellhausen's model of the documentary hypothesis continues to dominate the field of biblical scholarship: "To this day, if you want to disagree, you disagree with Wellhausen. If you want to pose a new model, you compare its merits with those of Wellhausen's model."[26]

The documentary hypothesis is important in the field of biblical studies not only because it claims that the Torah was written by different people at different times—generally long after the events it describes—[27] but it also proposed what was at the time a radically new way of reading the Bible. Many proponents of the documentary hypothesis view the Bible more as a body of literature than a work of history, believing that the historical value of the text lies not in its account of the events that it describes, but in what critics can infer about the times in which the authors lived (as critics may read Hamlet to learn about seventeenth-century England, but will not read it to learn about seventh-century Denmark).

Modern developments

The critical analysis of authorship now encompasses every book of the Bible. In some cases the traditional view on authorship has been overturned; in others, additional support, at least in part, has been found.

The development of the hypothesis has not stopped with Wellhausen. Wellhausen's hypothesis, for example, proposed that the four documents were composed in the order J-E-D-P, with P, containing the bulk of the Jewish law, dating from the post-Exilic Second Temple period (i.e., after 515 BC);[28] but the contemporary view is that P is earlier than D, and that all four books date from the First Temple period (i.e., prior to 587 BC).[29] The documentary hypothesis has more recently been refined by later scholars such as Martin Noth (who in 1943 provided evidence that Deuteronomy plus the following six books make a unified history from the hand of a single editor), Harold Bloom, Frank Moore Cross and Richard Elliot Friedman.

The documentary hypothesis, at least in the four-document version advanced by Wellhausen, has been controversial since its formulation. The direction of this criticism is to question the existence of separate, identifiable documents, positing instead that the biblical text is made up of almost innumerable strands so interwoven as to be hardly untangleable—the J document, in particular, has been subjected to such intense dissection that it seems in danger of disappearing.

Many critical scholars have argued that the Bible be read not as an accurate historical document, but rather as a work of literature and theology that often draws on historical events—as well as upon non-Hebrew mythology—as primary source material (see The Bible and history). For these scholars, the Bible reveals much about the lives and times of its authors and compilers.

Archaeological and historical research

Biblical archaeology is the archaeology that relates to, and sheds light upon, the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. It is used to help determine the lifestyle and practices of people living in biblical times.

There are a wide range of interpretations of the existing Biblical archaeology. One broad division includes Biblical maximalism that generally take the view that most of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible is essentially based on history although presented through the religious viewpoint of its time. It is considered the opposite of biblical minimalism which is strictly secular and does not allow any consideration of the Bible as documentary evidence or as a framework of history.

One example of the dispute involves biblical accounts of Israelite bondage in Egypt, wandering in the desert, and conquest the Land of Israel in a military campaign, the accounts of the land being passed on to the 12 tribes of Israel, and David's and Solomon's conquests, and other key elements described in the biblical narratives as occurring in the 10th century BC or before. So far, there is a lack of archaeological evidence to independently support this, which has led some archaeologists, such as Israel Finkelstein, Neil Silberman,[30] and William Dever[31] to believe that these events never happened, and that the ancestors of the Hebrews and the Jews are either nomads who had become sedentary, or people from the plains of Canaan, who fled to the highlands to escape the control of the cities. Others disagree sharply.[32]

Another example involves the story of Noah's Ark. Biblical literalists support a theory of a worldwide flood as described in the story and are looking for archaeological evidence in the region of the mountains of Ararat in north-east Turkey where Genesis says Noah's Ark came to rest. Mainstream scientists (and many Christians and Jews) discount a literal interpretation of the Ark story, on the basis of geology and other sciences.[33]

According to recent theories, linguistic as well as archaeological, the global structure of the texts in the Hebrew Bible were compiled during the reign of King Josiah in the 7th century BC. Even though the components are derived from more ancient writings, the final form of the books is believed to have been set somewhere between the 1st century BC and the 4th century AD.


1. Halpern, B. the First Historians: The Hebrew Bible. Harper & Row, 1988, quoted in Smith, Mark S.The early history of God: Yahweh and the other deities in ancient Israel. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; 2nd ed., 2002. ISBN 978-0802839725, p.14
2. a b Harper, Douglas. "bible". Online Etymology Dictionary.
3. The Catholic Encyclopedia.
4. Biblion, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus.
5. Stagg, Frank. New Testament Theology. Nashville: Broadman, 1962. ISBN 0-8054-1613-7.
6. "From Hebrew Bible to Christian Bible" by Mark Hamilton on PBS's site From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians.
7. etymology of the word "Bible".
8. "Bible Study, Bible Facts". Retrieved 2007-11-05.
9. Accuracy of Torah Text.
10. Sir Godfrey Driver. "Introduction to the Old Testament of the New English Bible." Web: <> 30 Nov 2009
11. Wright, N.T. The Last Word: Scripture and the Authority of God—Getting Beyond the Bible Wars. HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 0060872616 / 9780060872618
12. A Summary of the Bible by Lewis, CS: Believer's Web.
13. Philo of Alexandria, De vita Moysis 3.23.
14. Josephus, Contra Apion 1.8.
15. "Basis for belief of Inspiration." Biblegateway
16. Norman L. Geisler, William E. Nix. A General Introduction to the Bible. Moody Publishers, 1986, p.86. ISBN 0-8024-2916-5
17. For example, see Leroy Zuck, Roy B. Zuck. Basic Bible Interpretation. Chariot Victor Pub, 1991,p.68. ISBN 0-89693-819-0
18. Roy B. Zuck, Donald Campbell. Basic Bible Interpretation. Victor, 2002. ISBN 0-7814-3877-2
19. Norman L. Geisler. Inerrancy. Zondervan, 1980, p.294. ISBN 0-310-39281-0
20. International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (1978) (pdf). The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. ... cy_A&D.pdf.
21. Luke 11:51, Luke 24:44
22. Catholic Encyclopedia: Canon of the New Testament: "The idea of a complete and clear-cut canon of the New Testament existing from the beginning, that is from Apostolic times, has no foundation in history. The Canon of the New Testament, like that of the Old, is the result of a development, of a process at once stimulated by disputes with doubters, both within and without the Church, and retarded by certain obscurities and natural hesitations, and which did not reach its final term until the dogmatic definition of the Tridentine Council."
23. Paula Fredriksen, Augustine and the Jews, ISBN 978-0-385-50270-2 (2008), pp. 67-68, 391.
24. Wycliffe Bible Translators, Inc. (WBT) Translation Statistics. August 14, 2009:
26. Richard Elliott Friedman, "Who Wrote the Bible?," HarperSanFrancisco, 1997 (2nd edition).
27. Joel Rosenberg, 1984 "The Bible: Biblical Narrative" in Barry Holtz, ed Back to the Sources New York: Summit Books p. 36; Nahum Sarna, 1986 Understanding Genesis New York:Schocken Books pp. xxi-xxiii.
28. Wellhausen adopted the idea of a post-Exilic date for P from Eduard Reuss.
29. Although the bulk of all four documents date from before 587 BC, the strand of D known as Dtr2 dates from the following Exilic period.
30. Finkelstein, Israel; Neil Silberman. The Bible Unearthed.
31. Dever, William. Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come from?.
32. Kurinsky, Samuel (August 2008). "Nomadic Jews, Never". Hebrew History Foundation. ... omadic.htm.
33. Did Noah really build an ark?, BBC.
References and further reading
Anderson, Bernhard W. Understanding the Old Testament. ISBN 0-13-948399-3.
Asimov, Isaac. Asimov's Guide to the Bible. New York, NY: Avenel Books, 1981. ISBN 0-517-34582-X.
Berlin, Adele, Marc Zvi Brettler and Michael Fishbane. The Jewish Study Bible. Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-19-529751-2.
Finkelstein, Israel; Silberman, Neil Asher (2001), The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, New York: Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-7432-2338-1, ... arch+Books .
Finkelstein, Israel; Silberman, Neil Asher (August 2002), "Review: "The Bible Unearthed": A Rejoinder", Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 327: 63–73,
Herzog, Ze'ev (October 29, 1999), Deconstructing the walls of Jericho, Ha'aretz, ... &Itemid=34
Dever, William G. (March/April 2007), "Losing Faith: Who Did and Who Didn’t, How Scholarship Affects Scholars", Biblical Archaeology Review 33 (2): 54, ... gfaith.pdf
Dever, William G. Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did they Come from? Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003. ISBN 0-8028-0975-8.
Ehrman, Bart D. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005. ISBN 0-06-073817-0.
Geisler, Norman (editor). Inerrancy. Sponsored by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. Zondervan Publishing House, 1980, ISBN 0-310-39281-0.
Head, Tom. The Absolute Beginner's Guide to the Bible. Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-7897-3419-2
Hoffman, Joel M. In the Beginning. New York University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8147-3690-4
Lienhard, Joseph T. The Bible, The Church, and Authority. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1995.
Lindsell, Harold. The Battle for the Bible. Zondervan Publishing House, 1978. ISBN 0-310-27681-0
Masalha, Nur, The Bible and Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology and Post-Colonialism in Palestine-Israel. London, Zed Books, 2007.
McDonald, Lee M. and Sanders, James A., eds. The Canon Debate. Hendrickson Publishers (January 1, 2002). 662p. ISBN 1565635175 ISBN 978-1565635173
Miller, John W. The Origins of the Bible: Rethinking Canon History Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8091-3522-1.
Riches, John. The Bible: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-19-285343-0
Siku. The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation. Galilee Trade (January 15, 2008). 224p. ISBN 0385524315 ISBN 978-0385524315
Taylor, Hawley O. "Mathematics and Prophecy." Modern Science and Christian Faith. Wheaton: Van Kampen, 1948, pp. 175–83.
The Brick Testament
Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, s.vv. "Book of Ezekiel," p. 580 and "prophecy," p. 1410. Chicago: Moody Bible Press, 1986.
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:51 am

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Hezekiah is the common transliteration of a name more properly transliterated as "Ḥizkiyyahu." (Hebrew: חִזְקִיָּ֫הוּ or יְחִזְקִיָּ֫הוּ, Modern {{{2}}} Tiberian {{{3}}}; Greek: Ἐζεκίας, Ezekias, in the Septuagint; Latin: Ezechias).

Hezekiah witnessed the forced resettlement of the northern Kingdom of Israel by Sargon's Assyrians in c 720 BCE and was king of Judah during the invasion and siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib in 701 BCE.

The invasion of Judah by Sennacherib and the Assyrian army was a major and well documented historical event. Sennacherib recorded on his monumental inscription, "The Prism of Sennacherib", how in his campaign against Hezekiah ("Ha-za-qi-(i)a-ú") he took 46 cities in this campaign (column 3, line 19 of the Sennacherib prism), and besieged Jerusalem ("Ur-sa-li-im-mu") with earthworks.[6] Herodotus wrote of the invasion and acknowledges many Assyrian deaths, which he claims were the result of a plague of mice.[7]

The Assyrians claimed that Sennacherib raised his siege of Jerusalem after Hezekiah acknowledged Sennacherib as his overlord and paid him tribute[9].

Assyrian records show that Sennacherib was assassinated by his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, in 681 BCE - ie., twenty years after the invasion of Judah in 701 BCE.[10] He was succeeded by Esarhaddon as the Assyrian king.

Evidence from archaeology show that Hezekiah built temples at Lachish and Arad, and allowed a high place to continue in operation at Beersheva.

Archaeological evidence

Stamped bulla sealed by a servant of King Hezekiah, formerly pressed against a cord; unprovenanced Redondo Beach collection of antiquities.


One class of seal impression has been found in modern Israel relating to King Hezekiah:

• LMLK seals on storage jar handles, excavated from strata formed by Sennacherib's destruction as well as immediately above that layer suggesting they were used throughout his 29-year reign (Grena, 2004, p. 338)

Siloam Inscription

• In the Siloam Tunnel we find the Siloam Inscription, which commemorates the meeting of the two teams.


6.^ James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Related to the Old Testament (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965) 287-288.
7.^ (19:35) Herodotus (Histories 2:141)
9.^ Sennacherib's Hexagonal Prism
10.^ J. D. Douglas, ed., New Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965) 1160.
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

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[YES, THAT'S IT! NO INFORMATION FROM REALITY AT ALL, MEANING THIS PERSON DID NOT REALLY EXIST. The fact noted that considerable archaeological evidence exists from the time period that the Bible says he reigned IS NOT evidence he existed.]
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:53 am

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[All Bible "PROOF" edited out.]

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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

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[All Bible "PROOF" edited out.]

He was significant enough that his name is mentioned on a stele erected by Mesha, king of Moab, who records his victory over a son of Omri—but omits the son's name. Thomas L. Thompson (The Bible in History), however, interprets the Mesha stele as suggesting that Omri is an eponym, or legendary founder of the kingdom rather than an historical person. Most archaeologists reject this interpretation, seeing Omri as historical. Assyrian kings frequently referred to Omri's successors as belonging to the "House of Omri" (Bit Hu-um-ri-a).[2]

Omri in archaeological sources

In archaeology, Omri appears several times over the next century or so, beginning with the Mesha stele, which recounts one of his acts as king: the annexation of Moab. He is also mentioned in the contemporary Assyrian Black Obelisk which states that Jehu was the "son of Omri."



2. James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (3rd ed.; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966) 283.
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:56 am

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Ahab's reign

Shalmaneser III's (859-824 BC) Kurkh Monolith names King Ahab.

The Monolith

Kurkh Monolith

The Kurkh Monolith is an Assyrian document that contains a description of the Battle of Qarqar at the end. Today it stands in the British Museum but it was originally found at the Kurdish village of Kurkh (Turkish Üçtepe), near the town of Bismil in the province of Diyarbakır, Turkey. The Monolith stands some 2.2 metres tall, and roughly covers years one through six of the reign of Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (859-824 BC), although the fifth year is missing.

The Monolith mainly deals with campaigns Shalmaneser made in western Mesopotamia and Syria, fighting extensively with the countries of Bit Adini and Carchemish. At the end of the Monolith comes the account of the Battle of Qarqar, where an alliance of twelve kings fought against Shalmaneser at the Syrian city of Qarqar. This alliance, comprising eleven kings, was led by Irhuleni of Hamath and Hadadezer of Damascus, describing an improbably large force[1] led by King Ahab of Israel. The Monolith is also the first time that the Arabs make an appearance in world history, fielding a contingent containing dromedaries led by King Gindibu.

Scribal errors and disputes

There are a number of issues surrounding the written words contained in the Monolith, mostly surrounding the text of the Battle of Qarqar. For example, the scribe lists one city as Gu-a-a, which some scholars believe refers to Que. However, H. Tadmor believes that this is actually a mistake, with Gu-a-a being an incorrect spelling for Gu-bal-a-a, that is, Byblos. Other scholars have also pointed out that it would be more logical if Shalmaneser fought Byblos instead of Que, because it would make better geographic sense -- since the other kings of the area are polities to the south and west of Assyria, it might be expected that another city-state in that area -- Byblos -- would fight at Qarqar, rather than Que, which is in Cilicia.

Another issue with regard to spelling is the term musri, which is Akkadian for "march". Tadmor says that the actual Musri people had been conquered by the Assyrians in the 11th century BC, and thus believes that this reference to Musri must be "Egypt", although some scholars dispute this.

Another major error in the text is the assertion that Assyria fought "twelve kings". Casual readers will note that the Monolith in fact lists eleven, but some scholars have attempted to explain that there really is a missing king, stemming from the description of "Ba'sa the man of Bit-Ruhubi, the Ammonite". One scholar suggests that the two entities be split into "Bit-Ruhubi" (Beth-Rehob, a state in the Trans-Jordan) and "Ammon", one of Israel's traditional enemies. However, "twelve kings" is a common Mesopotamian literary device for any kind of alliance,[citation needed] so it is entirely possible that the scribe here was using a figure of speech, rather than miscounting.


1. Huffmon, Herbert B. "Jezebel - the 'Corrosive' Queen" in Joyce Rilett Wood, John E. Harvey, Mark Leuchter, eds. From Babel to Babylon: Essays on Biblical History And Literature in Honor of Brian Peckham, T&T Clark, 2006, ISBN 978-0-567-02892-1 p. 276 ... #PPA276,M1

Battle of Qarqar

The Battle of Qarqar is one event mentioned by external sources and was perhaps at Apamea where Shalmaneser III of Assyria fought a great confederation of princes from Cilicia, Northern Syria, Israel, Ammon and the tribes of the Syrian desert (853 BC).

Order of events

It has been suggested that the Assyrian scribe wrote "Ahab" for his son "Jehoram", and that the very identification of the name with Ahab of Israel has been questioned.


This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:00 am

by Wikipedia



[All Bible "PROOF" edited out.]

Sennacherib during his Babylonian war, relief from his palace in Nineveh

[Sennacherib (Akkadian Sîn-ahhī-erība ("(Moon god) Sîn has replaced (lost) brothers for me") was the son of Sargon II, whom he succeeded on the throne of Assyria (704 – 681 BC).

Rise to power

As the crown prince, Sennacherib was placed in charge of the Assyrian Empire while his father, Sargon II, was on campaign. Unlike his predecessors, the Sennacherib's reign was not largely marked by military campaigns, but mainly by architectural renovations, constructions, and expansions. After the violent death of his father, Sennacherib encountered numerous problems in establishing his power and faced threats to his domain. However, he was able to overcome these power struggles and ultimately carry out his building projects. During his reign, he moved the empire's capital from his father's newly-constructed city of Dur-Sharrukin to the old city and former capital of Nineveh. It is considered to be striking that Sennacherib not only left his father's city, but also doesn’t name him in any official inscription during his reign.

War with Judah


In 701 BC, a rebellion backed by Egypt and Babylonia broke out in Judah, led by King Hezekiah. In response Sennacherib sacked a number of cities in Judah. He laid siege to Jerusalem, but soon returned to Nineveh, with Jerusalem not having been sacked, in order to put down an attempted coup. This event was recorded by Sennacherib himself, and by Herodotus.

Sennacherib's account

Some of the Assyrian chronicles, such as the baked-clay Taylor prism now preserved in the Oriental Institute, Chicago, date from very close to the time. (see also: Military history of the Neo-Assyrian Empire) [1](The Taylor Prism itself bears the date "the month of Tammuz; eponym of Galihu, governor of Hatarikka" which is Tammuz in the year 689 BC, according to the Assyrian Eponym List).

Sennacherib's Prism or Taylor prism is a clay prism inscribed with the annals of the Assyrian king Sennacherib notable for describing his siege of Jerusalem in 701 BC during the reign of king Hezekiah.

Taylor prism

The Taylor Prism, photo by David Castor


The prism contains six paragraphs of cuneiform written Akkadian. It is hexagonal in shape, made of red baked clay, and stands 38.0 cm high by 14.0 cm wide, and was created during the reign of Sennacherib (689 BC).


It is one of three accounts discovered so far which have been left by Sennacherib of his campaign against the Kingdom of Israel and Kingdom of Judah.

The Taylor Prism proclaims that 46 walled cities and innumerable smaller settlements were conquered by the Assyrians, with 200,150 people, and livestock, being deported, and the conquered territory being dispersed among the three kings of the Philistines instead of being given back.

Additionally, the Prism says that siege resulted in Hezekiah being shut up in Jerusalem like a caged bird, Hezekiah's mercenaries and 'Arabs' deserted him, and Hezekiah eventually bribed Sennacherib, having to give him not only money, jewels, and ivory-inlaid furniture, but also his own daughters, harem, and musicians. It states that Hezekiah became a tributary ruler.


The prism comes from Nineveh, which was the ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire under Sennacherib. The prism was discovered by Colonel Taylor in 1830 in the ruins of Sennacherib's palace at Nineveh, now in northern Iraq. It was purchased from Colonel Taylor's widow in 1850 by the British Museum.[5] Another version, now in the Oriental Institute and known as the Sennacherib Prism, was purchased by James Henry Breasted from a Baghdad antiques dealer in 1919 for the Oriental Institute, where it now resides.[6]

The two known complete examples of this inscription are nearly identical, with only minor variants, although the dates on the prisms show that they were written sixteen months apart (the Taylor Prism in 691 BC and the Oriental Institute prism in 689 BC). There are also at least eight other fragmentary prisms preserving parts of this text, all in the British Museum, and most of them containing just a few lines.

The text was translated by Daniel David Luckenbill and the Akkadian text, along with a translation into English, is available in his book: "THE ANNALS OF SENNACHERIB" D.D. Luckenbill 1924, University of Chicago Press.

Assyrian accounts do not treat it as a disaster, but a great victory — they maintain that the siege was so successful that Hezekiah was forced to give a monetary tribute, and the Assyrians left victoriously, without losses of thousands of men, and without sacking Jerusalem. In the Taylor Prism, Sennacherib states that he had shut up Hezekiah the Judahite within Jerusalem, his own royal city, like a caged bird.

Sennacherib first recounts several of his previous victories, and how his enemies had become overwhelmed by his presence. He was able to do this to Great Sidon, Little Sidon, Bit-Zitti, Zaribtu, Mahalliba, Ushu, Akzib and Akko. After taking each of these cities, Sennacherib installed a puppet leader named Ethbaal as ruler over the entire region. Sennacherib then turned his attention to Beth-Dagon, Joppa, Banai-Barqa, and Azjuru, cities that were ruled by Sidqia and also fell to Sennacherib.

Egypt and Nubia then came to the aid of the stricken cities. Sennacherib defeated the Egyptians and, by his own account, single-handedly captured the Egyptian and Nubian charioteers. Sennacherib captured and sacked several other cities, including Lachish (the second most-strongly fortified city in the Kingdom of Judah). He punished the "criminal" citizens of the cities, and he reinstalled Padi, their leader, who had been held as a hostage in Jerusalem.

After this, Sennacherib turned to King Hezekiah of Judah, who stubbornly refused to submit to him. Forty-six of Hezekiah's cities (cities 1st millennium BC terms ranged in size from large modern-day towns to villages) were conquered by Sennacherib, but Jerusalem did not fall. His own account of this invasion, as given in the Taylor prism, is as follows:

“Because Hezekiah, king of Judah, would not submit to my yoke, I came up against him, and by force of arms and by the might of my power I took 46 of his strong fenced cities; and of the smaller towns which were scattered about, I took and plundered a countless number. From these places I took and carried off 200,156 persons, old and young, male and female, together with horses and mules, asses and camels, oxen and sheep, a countless multitude; and Hezekiah himself I shut up in Jerusalem, his capital city, like a bird in a cage, building towers round the city to hem him in, and raising banks of earth against the gates, so as to prevent escape... Then upon Hezekiah there fell the fear of the power of my arms, and he sent out to me the chiefs and the elders of Jerusalem with 30 talents of gold and 800 talents of silver, and diverse treasures, a rich and immense booty... All these things were brought to me at Nineveh, the seat of my government. ”

Building projects

During Sennacherib's reign, Nineveh evolved into the leading Metropolis of the empire. His building projects started almost as soon as he became king. Already in 703 BC he had built a palace complete with park and artificial irrigation he called his new home ‘The palace without rival’. For this ambitious project an old palace was torn down to make more room. In addition to his own large gardens, several small gardens were made for the citizens of Nineveh. He also constructed the first ever aqueduct, at Jerwan in 690 BCE,[5] which supplied the large demand of water in Nineveh. The narrow alleys and squares of Nineveh were cleaned up and enlarged, and a royal road and avenue were constructed, which crossed a bridge on its approach to the park gate and which was lined on both sides with stelae. Temples were restored and built during his reign, as is the duty of the king. Most notable is his work on the Assur (god) and the new year (Akitu) temples. He also expanded the city defences which included a moat surrounding the city walls. Some of his city walls have been restored and can still be seen nowadays. The labour for his giant building project was performed by people of Que, Cilicia, Philistia, Tyre, and Chaldeans, Aramaeans, and Mannaeans who were there involuntarily.

Sennacherib is sometimes credited with the invention of the Archimedes screw for the purpose of irrigation, although evidence for this is contentious[6].


Sennacherib was assassinated by two of his sons. [7] He was ultimately succeeded by another son Esarhaddon. One part tells of one of Sennacherib's sons toppling a giant statue of a bull with a mans head, thus crushing him to death.



1. (
2. ["Wesley's Notes on the Bible" II Chronicles 32]
3. The legends of the Jews, Volume 6 By Louis Ginzberg, Henrietta Szold, Paul Radin
4. [Adam Clarke's Commentary - 2 Chronicles 32]
5. von Soden, Wolfram. (1985). The Ancient Orient: An Introduction to the Study of the Ancient Near East. (pp.58). Grand Rapids: Erdman's Publishing Company.
6. Stephanie Dalley and John Peter Oleson (January 2003). "Sennacherib, Archimedes, and the Water Screw: The Context of Invention in the Ancient World", Technology and Culture 44 (1).
7. The British Museum: Sennacherib, king of Assyria (704-681 BC)
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:11 am

Military history of the Neo-Assyrian Empire
by Wikipedia



The Assyrian Empire originated in the early 2nd millennium BC,[3][4] succeeding the Akkadian Kingdom of the late 3rd millennium BC.[5] Assyria did not become a powerful military state until the early 1st millennium BC, when Ashurnasirpal II's conquests reasserted Assyria's hegemony in the Near East,[3] nor was it a true empire until the reforms of Tiglath-Pileser III in the mid-8th century BC. The Assyrian empire has at times been described as the first military power in history.[6] This article deals with the forces of the Assyrians in the above described times.

In 911 B.C., the Assyrian state was ruled by Adad-nirari II and was in a poor state -- trade routes were under foreign control and her territories in Babylon and other former vassal states were out of their hands. Adad nirari II changed all of this with aggressive campaigning against his opponents. His son was later succeeded by one of the most successful military Kings of Assyria, Ashurnasirpal II.[7]

Ashurnasirpal II is credited for utilizing sound strategy in his wars of conquest. Whilst aiming to secure defensible frontiers, he would launch raids further inland against his opponents as a means of securing economic benefit,[8] as he did when campaigning in the Levant. The result meant that the economic prosperity of the region would fuel the Assyrian war machine.[9]

Ashurnasirpal II was succeeded by Shalmaneser III. Although he campaigned for 31 years of his 35 year reign,[9] he failed to achieve or equal the conquests of his predecessor,[10] and his death led to another period of weakness in Assyrian rule.[10]

Assyria would later recover under Tiglath Pileser III whose reforms once again made Assyria the most powerful force in the Near East,[11] and transformed her into a fully fledged empire -- the first of its kind. Later Kings under Shalmaneser V, Sargon II and Sennacherib would see further Assyrian offensives, although these were designed not so much for conquest but to destroy the enemies ability to undermine Assyrian power. As such, costly battles raged taking tolls on Assyrian manpower. Esarhaddon succeeded in taking lower Egypt and his successor, Ashurbanipal, took the southern upper half of Egypt.

However, by the end of the Ashurbanipal's reign it appears that the Assyrian Empire was falling into another period of weakness,[12] one from which she would not escape. It appears that years of costly battles followed by constant (and almost unstoppable) rebellions meant that it was a matter of time before Assyria ran out of troops. The loss of the outer regions meant that foreign troops were gone too. By 605 B.C., Independent Political Assyrian records vanish from history and the Assyrians lose their independence forever.[13]


Mesopotamia, whilst a fertile land in Ancient History, was the site of some of the earliest recorded battles in history.[14][15] In fact, the first recorded battle was between the forces of Lagash and Umma c.2450 B.C.[15] Like many Mesopotamian records, it contains an element of fiction. The ruler of Lagash, Eanatum, was inspired by his God Ningirsu to attack the rival Kingdom of Umma; the two were involved in minor skirmishes and raids along their respective borders.[15] Eanatum, although the attacker, triumphed, even though he was struck in the eye by an arrow. After the battle, he proudly documented the behavior of the vultures.

Akkadian and Old Assyrian

According to legend, Sargon, the first King of the Akkadian Kingdom, was discovered by a gardener in Mesopotamia in a basket.[15] In time, he would found the city of Agade and raise an army of 5,400 men,[15] and then conquer much of modern-day Iraq. His inscriptions boasts of 34 victories and "5,400 men eating bread before Sargon", exemplifying both the vast manpower and the obedience of his troops (and possibly a standing army as well). Though small by even the standards of later kings, Sargon's army was larger and more sophisticated than others of the time, utilizing a combination of spears and missile weapons. Bronze swords[15] and four wheeled chariots[15] brushed aside any resistance as he carved out his Empire, which may well have included (at least briefly) parts of the Mediterranean, Anatolia and western Iran.[14] Siege warfare was not a problem; most of the cities that were walled at the time of Sargon were made of mud and his inscriptions further boast of the destruction he brought on the walls of captured cities.[15] Though he utilized simple tactics that would be later emulated in many states, his dynasty survived for another 125 years.[5] Assyrian, Babylonian and even Persian conquerors would claim to be Sargon's successors and attempted to emulate his great military success.[citation needed]

Middle Assyrian

Information on the Assyrian army during this time is difficult to make out =- the Assyrians were able to establish their independence on two occasions, during the Old Assyrian Kingdom and the Middle Assyrian Kingdom, with the latter reaching as far as Babylon in their pursuit of conquest. However, military tactics mainly involved using troops raised from farmers who had finished planting their fields and so could campaign for the King until harvest time called for their attention again. The result was that military campaigning was limited to a few months of the year. As a result, armies could not conquer vast amounts of land without having to rest (and hence allow their enemy to recover) and even if they did they would not be able to garrison conquered lands with troops for long.

Organization of the Military

The Assyrian army's hierarchy was typical of the Mesopotamian armies at the time. The King whose rule was sanctioned by the gods, would be the commander of the entire army of the Empire. He would appoint senior officers on certain occasions to campaign in his place if his presence on the battlefield could or had to be spared.[16]

Sargon of Akkad

A helmet believed to represent Sargon of Akkad, first great conqueror of Mesopotamia and creator of the first standing army.[17]

Sargon of Akkad is believed to have created the first standing army. Such feats required food and weapons to be supplied to the army at all times. He is also credited for introducing the composite bow to Mesopotamia as he defeated his Sumerian adversaries.[18] Later on, his successor Shulgi introduced specialized units; grouping missile units and infantry into different smaller groups.[19]


Assyria's greatest pre-reform military commander, Ashurnasirpal II

Before the reforms of Tiglath-Pileser III, the Assyrian army was also very much similar to the other Mesopotamian armies of the time. Soldiers were mostly raised farmers, who had to return to their fields to collect the harvest. Professional soldiers were limited to a few bodyguards that protected the King and or other nobles and officials but these would not have been deployed or wasted in battle unless the situation became urgent, as it later did.

Assyrian armies could be very large; Shalmaneser III once boasted a force of 120,000 men in his campaigns against Syria.[2] Such a force required men to be extracted from conquered peoples. A large army also needed more food and supplies and for this the Assyrians organized what they needed for a campaign before they set out.

Preparations for a new Campaign

Preparations for a new campaign required first and foremost the assembly of troops at a designated base.[2] In Assyria, the designated locations included Nineveh, Kalhu or Khorsabad.[2] On some occasions the designated meeting points would change depending upon the campaign. Governors were instructed to accumulate supplies of corn, oil and war material.[2] Other requirements of the Governors included calling up the needed man power. Vassal states were in particular required to present troops as part of their tribute to the Assyrian King and in good time -- failure to do so, would have almost certainly been seen as an act of rebellion.[2]

The arrival of the King and his bodyguard ended the preliminary stage and the army would move on to the target of their campaign. The army would march in good order; in the vanguard came the standard of the Gods, signifying the servitude of the Assyrian Kings to their primary God Assur.[2] Following this was the King, the humble servant of Assur surrounded by his bodyguard with the support of the main chariot divisions and cavalry, the elite of the army. In the rear was the infantry; the Assyrian troops followed by the conquered peoples. Following this would be the siege train, supply wagons and then the camp followers. Such a formation would have been very vulnerable to a rear attack. Some columns of troops could travel 30 miles a day and such speed would have been used to surprise and frighten an opponent into submission.[2]

Reforms of Tiglath-Pileser III

An image of Tiglath Pileser III's troops (not II). In the background can be seen a siege engine - therefore they are at siege.

Before long, the weaknesses of the Assyrian army soon began to show itself. Battle after battle killed off important soldiers, whilst the seasons ensured that soldiers returned after a short time to their fields without achieving decisive conquests. By the mid-eighth century B.C., the Assyrian levy-army could not cope with the demands of an empire that often stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf.[20]

All was to change when Tiglath Pileser III came to the throne in 745 B.C. After increasing the efficiency of the Assyrian administration,[11] he went on to change the Assyrian army as well.[20] The most important aspect of his reform was the introduction of a standing army. This included a larger number of foreign soldiers but mixed in with other Assyrian soldiers.[20][16] These men could be supplied by vassal states as tribute or when demanded by the Assyrian King. They were given Assyrian equipment and uniform which made them indistinguishable from one another, possibly to increase their integration.[20] Whilst the infantry in the standing army contained a large number of foreigners (including Aramaeans and even Greeks), the Assyrian Cavalry and Charioteers continued to be dominated by Assyrians.[16] There were exceptions however, and as casualties mounted additional troops would not be unwelcome; Sargon II reports that he managed to incorporate 60 Israelite Chariot teams into his army.[20]

Transportation and Communication

Assyrians using inflated sheep skins to transport Chariots across the Euphrates (or Tigris).[21]With the rise of the Assyrian Empire, new demands were placed on transport and communication. Governing such a vast Empire required the attention of the Assyrian king and his administrators. Prior to the Neo-Assyrian Empire, roads in Mesopotamia were little more than well-trodden pathways used by the locals -- over time a clear path could be made out.[22] However, this was inadequate for an empire whose armies were constantly on the move, repressing one revolt after another. The Assyrians were the first to institute, control and maintain a system of roads throughout their empire.[22] Pony expresses with regular way stations for messengers to rest and/or exchange horses were established.[22] Later, these would form the basis for the Persians to expand this system to their own empire.[22]

Rugged mountains were cut through thus greatly decreasing travel time. Engineers built fine stone pavements leading up to the grand cities of Assur and Nineveh, so as to impress foreigners with the wealth of Assyria. By the 2nd millennium B.C., wooden bridges were built across the Euphrates. By the 1st millennium B.C., Nineveh and Assur were blessed with bridges of stone,[22] testament to the wealth of the kingdom of Ashur. The construction of roads and increased transport meant that goods would flow through the empire with greater ease, thus feeding the Assyrian war effort further. Of course, roads that sped up Assyrian troops would not discriminate and would also speed up enemy troops as well.

Use of Camels

The Assyrians were the first to use Camels as beasts of burden for their military campaigns.[23] Camels were of greater use than Donkeys because they can carry five times the load and yet require less watering. Camels were not domesticated until shortly before 1000 B.C., on the eve of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.[23]

Wheeled Vehicles

Although the Sumerians are credited for inventing the wheel sometime before 3000 B.C.,[23] the Assyrians were the first to manufacture tires of metal, made from copper, bronze and later iron.[23] Metal-covered wheels have the obvious advantage of being more durable and when overrunning an opponent in battle, will have a greater effect.



Assyrian king Ashurbanipal on a chariot during a royal lion hunt, during which only the King was permitted to kill lions, and only his chariot was permitted a parasol.

The core of the Assyrian army lay in her chariots.[24] Originally these chariots were used as two-horse vehicles.[24] The Ancient Egyptians and Sumerians used War Chariots in this fashion as firing mobile platforms or as mobile command platforms; the elevated view would give the General some ability to see how the troops fared in battle. The Assyrians also used Chariots in reconnaissance,[24] carrying messages to and from the frontlines as well as for battle. However, the rise of Cavalry in the 1st Millennia B.C. meant that by the 7th Century B.C., the Chariot was demoted to combat duties only;[24] lighter chariots consisting of two to three horses were later upgraded under the reign of Ashurnasirpal II to heavy four horse chariots.[24] Such chariots could contain more men (four in total). Heavier Chariots also found new roles; smashing into enemy formations and dispersing the infantry in the process.[24] The Assyrian Cavalry and Infantry would then be able to exploit the gap and rout the enemy thereby taking the field.


Cavalry were rarely used by the Assyrians or many other Mesopotamians until the 9th century B.C. when their use is mentioned during the reign of Tukulti-Ninurta II.[24] Before then, many nomads or steppe warriors relied on cavalry, who raided Assyrian lands. The Assyrians had to counter this mobile form of warfare and so beat their opponents (notably the Iranians) at their own game.[25] Perhaps the greatest outside influence is that of the Iranian peoples, the Elamites and the Medes. It is ironic that the raiding by these people assisted Assyrian attempts in building a Cavalry army with which to destroy the Kingdom of Elam. However, Assyrian attempts were not without difficulties; horse archers were utilized but could not use their bows and the reins of their horses at the same time. As a result, Cavalry under Ashurnasirpal are depicted in pairs, with one rider holding both reins and the other shooting with a bow.[24]

An Assyrian Cavalry Archer, most likely a King; the robes and the perfect handling of his horse testify to his supreme position.

The Assyrians would experience fewer problems with Cavalry when they were deployed as Lancers; under Tiglath Pileser III, the Assyrian Cavalry continued to be paired off but this time each warrior holds his own lance and controls their own horse.[24] By the 7th century B.C., mounted Assyrian warriors were well armed with a bow and a lance,[24] armored with lamellar armor and their mounts equipped with fabric armor, providing limited yet useful protection in close combat and against missiles. Cavalry would form the core of the later Assyrian armies.

Large units of Cavalry were required to be deployed by the Assyrians; some units would consist of hundreds or even a thousand horsemen. There is little doubt that without a continuous supply of horses, the Assyrian War machine would have collapsed. As the Empire suffered horrendous casualties under Ashurbanipal's campaigns of conquest, the rebellions following his death may have contributed significantly to the downfall of the Empire as fewer vassals were available to pay tribute horses and other war material needed. Horses were an incredibly important war resource and the Assyrian King himself took a personal interest to oversee adequate horse supply.

Three main sources of horses were:

• Raids designed to steal horses from opponents, albeit from Scythians or other steppe peoples.
• Tribute paid by vassal states.
• High-ranking state officers would oversee horse production and report to the King.[25]

Horses would be drawn from outlying provinces and brought in to be trained with new recruits for war.[25]


Assyrian archers taking aim, under the protection of a shield bearer.

Whilst Cavalry provided the most expensive and effective arm of the Assyrian Empire, Infantry are cheaper and more numerous. In the right circumstances, they were also more effective, for example in siege warfare whereby the mobility provided by Horsemen would be of no advantage in such encounters. Assyrian Infantry were composed of both native Assyrians and foreigners employed as auxiliaries, spearmen, slingers, shield bearers or archers. The latter type was the most dominant in Assyrian armies.[25] From the time of Ashurnasirpal, archers would be accompanied by a shield bearer whilst slingers would aim to distract the enemy into lowering their shield to protect against the stones, thereby allowing the archers to shoot above their shield walls and slay their enemies.[26] Even in siege warfare, arrows were used to drive back defenders from the wall whilst engineers advanced against the fortifications. Many different types of bows are recorded by the Assyrians, including Akkadian, Cimmerian and their own "Assyrian" type.[26] However, it is most likely that these were simply different variants of the powerful composite bow. Depending upon the bow, an archer would have a range of anything between 250 to 650 meters.[26] Vast amounts of arrows could be expended in battle so in preparation for war many arrows would be made. Facilities also existed that would travel with the army's supply train that could manufacture more arrows.[26] An Assyrian army without arrows was an army without the main capability to win.

Lancers were introduced to the infantry under Tiglath-pileser III.[26] The idea was that a long spear would be able to penetrate and attack the enemy's ranks at longer range than a sword or a dagger could. Armour (lamellar) amongst the melee troops was limited to Elite soldiers only, whilst the rest of the army made do with shields and helmets.

Strategy and Tactics


Not much is recorded about Assyrian tactics in battle. However, Assyrian reliefs always depict their troops launching devastating chariot and cavalry charges,[28] smashing the enemy lines and allowing their foot soldiers to exploit the divided enemy. It is likely that the chariots would head in first. A preliminary barrage of arrows would soften up the enemy for a chariot attack. To keep up the momentum, cavalry would follow up. Lagging behind would be the infantry whose job was to destroy the now scattered enemy. Despite the extensive use of missile weapons, the Assyrians still preferred a bloody frontal assault as Sennacherib describes his pyrrhic victory (in which he claims total victory):

“ At the command of the god Ashur, the great Lord, I rushed upon the enemy like the approach of a hurricane...I put them to rout and turned them back. I transfixed the troops of the enemy with javelins and arrows. Humban-undasha, the commander in chief of the king of Elam, together with his nobles...I cut their throats like sheep...My prancing steeds, trained to harness, plunged into their welling blood as into a river; the wheels of my battle chariot were bespattered with blood and filth. I filled the plain with corpses of their warriors like herbage"
—Sennacherib, [29]

Assyrian frontal offensives were designed to shock the enemy and surprise them. However, they were also a strategy employed when time was not on their side:

“ The harassed troops of Ashur, who had come a long way, very weary slow to respond, who had crossed and re-crossed sheer mountains innumerable, of great trouble for ascent and descent, their morale turned mutinous. I could give no ease to their weariness, no water to quench their thirst; I could set up no camp, nor fix defences"
—Sargon II, [30]

Despite the above, Sargon II's instinct saved the day; leading his exhausted troops, he launched a surprise attack against his Urartian opponents who broke at the speed and surprise of the attack. So vicious was the battle that the Urartian King abandoned his state officials, governors, 230 members of the Royal family, many cavalry and infantry and even the capital itself was abandoned.

Overall war strategy

Assyrian warships. The Assyrians would have used these to transport horses, chariots and supplies across rivers. Although they reached the Mediterranean on numerous occasions[31], problems (in the shape of rebellions) in the Fertile Crescent would have made such sea ventures into the Mediterranean unlikely.

The nature of Mesopotamia, plain and fertile with few natural defenses, meant that defensive operations were out of the question; only a decisive attack could defend such vulnerable yet valuable locations. The cities of Assur and Nineveh were both "sandwiched" between rivers, Nineveh being more so enclosed and protected by the Tigris whilst Assur, whilst being close to the Tigris, was a fair distance away from the Euphrates. The result was that both cities had a measure of natural protection. However, rivers would not stop a determined army so attacking and destroying the enemies' ability to wage war was the best method of ensuring survival. To this end the Assyrians sought a decisive encounter that would destroy the enemies' army.

Colonization: The Assyrians, in conjunction with their deportation (see below) would also send some of their own into foreign lands and settle them as colonists. The primary aim was to establish a loyal power base; taxes, food and troops could be raised here as reliably as at their homeland, or at least it must have been hoped. Furthermore, their presence would bring innumerable benefits; resistance to other conquerors, a counter to any rebellions by the natives and assist the provincial Assyrian governors in ensuring that the vassal state was loyal to Assyria.

Total Destruction: One must be careful before assuming that the Assyrians utilized Total War. However, it is known that the Assyrians, as part of their overall strategy of weakening their opponents and of exacting revenge would violently destroy what they could not take back or could not consolidate.:

“ For a distance of a month and twenty-five days' journey I devastated the provinces of Elam. Salt and sihlu I scattered over them... The dust of Susa, Madaktu, Haltemash and the rest of the cities I gathered together and took to Assyria... The noise of people, the tread of cattle and sheep, the glad shouts of rejoicing, I banished from its fields. Wild asses, gazelles and all kinds of beasts of the plain I caused to lie down among them, as if at home."
—Ashurbanipal, [12]

This "strategy" is not dissimilar to genocide, and the Assyrians are often cited among the first offenders of genocide.

Psychological warfare

The Assyrians fully appreciated the use of terrorizing their enemies. To conserve manpower and rapidly move on to solve Assyria's multiple problems, the Assyrians preferred to accept the surrender of their opponents or else destroy their ability to resist a surrender. This in part explains their offensive strategy and tactics.


It is not known if the Assyrians were the first to deport people, although since none before had ruled the Fertile Crescent as they did it is likely that they were the first to practice it on a large scale. The Assyrians began to utilize mass-deportation as a punishment for rebellions since the 13th century B.C.[32] The purposes of deportation included, but were not limited to:

1) Psychological warfare: the possibility of deportation would have terrorized the people;

2) Integration: a multiethnic population base in each region would have curbed nationalist sentiment, making the running of the Empire smoother;

3) Preservation of human resources: rather than being butchered, the people could serve as slave labor or as conscripts in the army.

By the 9th century B.C. the Assyrians made it a habit of regularly deporting thousands of restless subjects to other lands.[33] Re-settling these people in the Assyrian homeland would have undermined the powerbase of the Assyrian Empire if they would rebel again as a result, Assyrian deportation involved removing one enemy population and settling them into another. Below is a list of deportations carried out by Assyrian Kings:[31]

• 744 B.C. Tiglath Pileser III deports 65,000 people from Iran to the Assyrian-Babylonian border at the Diyala river
• 742 B.C. Tiglath Pileser III deports 30,000 people from Hamath, Syria and into the Zagros mountains in the east.
• 721 B.C. Sargon II (claimed) deports 27,290 people from Samaria, Israel and disperses them throughout the Empire. However, it is likely that his ousted predecessor, Shalmaneser V ordered the deportation
• 707 B.C. Sargon II deports 108,000 Chaldeans and Babylonians from the Babylonian region
• 703 B.C. Sennacherib deports 208,000 people from Babylon

Tiglath Pileser III re-introduced deportation on a grand scale, deporting tens, even hundreds of thousands of people. Deportations were also coupled with Colonization, see above for more details.

Dealing with Rebels

When rebellion inevitably broke out in the Assyrian Empire, the Assyrian Kings would often brutally crush the rebellion (as an alternative to deportation) and inflict great punishments on her rebellious vassals. Ashurnasirpal II ensured that the rebellions he suffered would be crushed with the same ruthlessness so that his opponents would never wish to do so again; in this way he was utilizing psychological warfare:

“ To the city of Suru of Bit Halupe I drew near, and the terror and splendour of Ashur, my Lord, overwhelmed them. The chief and the elders of the city, to save their lives came forth into my presence and embraced my feet, saying: 'If it is thy pleasure, slay! If it is thy pleasure, let live! That which thy heart desireth, do!'...In the valour of my heart and with the fury of my weapons I stormed the city. All the rebels they seized and delivered them up"
—Ashurnasirpal II, [34]

Ashurnasirpal II paints a descriptive picture when he later describes how he dealt with the rebels; they were flayed, impaled, beheaded (first if they were lucky), burnt alive, eyes ripped out, fingers, noses and ears cut off.

Ashurnasirpal II's brutal treatment succeeded in pacifying the rebels. As he campaigned into Syria, he was able to take a large body of soldiers out of Mesopotamia without fear of a rebellion cutting his supply lines. So successful were his brutal sieges of the cities of northern Syria that many other smaller settlements immediately surrendered to his army as it marched south parallel to the Mediterranean. The Assyrians viewed their Kings as governing with the gods' (or the god Ashur) sanction. To rebel against this most humble servant of Ashur would be to rebel against Ashur himself, something that could only bring divine destruction; hence the glorification of such brutality.[citation needed]

Other acts of brutality include: rape, mutilating men until death, placing heads, arms, hands and even lower lips on the conquered city's walls, skulls and noses atop stakes.[32] Alternatively these could also be piled up or even their corpses cut up and fed to the dogs. On some occasions, people were blinded so that as they wandered throughout the land they would speak of Assyrian terrors and demoralize the local population.

Siege warfare

Susa, sacked by the Assyrians. Ashurbanipal's brutal campaign against Susa in 647 BCE is triumphantly recorded in this relief. Here, flames rise from the city as Assyrian soldiers topple it with pickaxes and crowbars and carry off the spoils.

In 647 BCE, the Assyrian king Assurbanipal leveled the city during a war in which the people of Susa apparently participated on the other side. A tablet unearthed in 1854 by Austen Henry Layard in Nineveh reveals Ashurbanipal as an "avenger", seeking retribution for the humiliations the Elamites had inflicted on the Mesopotamians over the centuries. Ashurbanipal dictates Assyrian retribution after his successful siege of Susa:

“ Susa, the great holy city, abode of their gods, seat of their mysteries, I conquered. I entered its palaces, I opened their treasuries where silver and gold, goods and wealth were amassed... I destroyed the ziggurat of Susa. I smashed its shining copper horns. I reduced the temples of Elam to naught; their gods and goddesses I scattered to the winds. The tombs of their ancient and recent kings I devastated, I exposed to the sun, and I carried away their bones toward the land of Ashur. I devastated the provinces of Elam and on their lands I sowed salt."
—Ashurbanipal, [35]

The plains and fertile lands of Mesopotamia were not only ideal for warfare: they actually attracted war. Raiders from all nations coveted the lands of the Assyrians -- Scythians to the north, Syrians, Arameans and Cimmerians to the West, Elamites to the East and Babylonians to the south. In fact, the latter never tired of rebelling against Assyrian rule.[10] As a result, in order to prevent chariots and cavalry from completely overwhelming these settlements, walls were constructed though often from mud or clay since stone was neither cheap, nor readily available. In order to destroy the opponents, these cities had to be taken as well and so the Assyrians soon mastered Siege warfare -- Esarhaddon claims to have taken Memphis, the capital of Egypt in less than a day, demonstrating the ferocity and skill of Assyrian siege tactics at this point in time:

“ I fought daily, without interruption against Taharqa, King of Egypt and Ethiopia, the one accursed by all the great gods. Five times I hit him with the point of my arrows inflicting wounds from which he should not recover, and then I laid siege to Memphis his royal residence, and conquered it in half a day by means of mines, breaches and assault ladders"
—Esarhaddon, [36]

Sieges were costly in terms of manpower and more so if an assault was launched to take the city by force -- the siege of Lachish cost the Assyrians at least 1,500 men[2] --found at a mass grave near Lachish. Before the advent of standing armies, a city's best hope would be that the harvest would force the enemy to return to their fields and therefore abandon the city. However, with the reforms of Tiglath Pileser III Assyria's first standing army was forged and could therefore blockade a city until it surrendered instead. Nonetheless it is known that Assyrians always preferred to take a city by assault then to settle down for a blockade -- the former method would be followed by extermination or deportation of the inhabitants and would therefore frighten the opponents of Assyria into surrendering as well.[17]

Siege weapons

The Assyrians were not naturals at siege warfare and this can be seen by their attempts to experiment with numerous methods for taking a city.

The most common siege weapon and by far the cheapest was the ladder. However, ladders are easy to topple over and so the Assyrians would shower their opponents with arrows to provide cover fire [37]. These archers in turn would be supported by shield bearers[26]. Other ways of undermining the enemies' defences included mining. A 9th century Assyrian relief depicts soldiers using ladders to scale walls, while others use their spears to scrape the mud and clay from the walls. A soldier is also depicted beneath a wall, suggesting that mining was used to undermine the foundations and bring the walls down on their opponents.

The Battering ram appears to be one of the best Assyrian contributions to siege warfare. Although looking nothing like the tougher weapons used by the Greeks and Romans many centuries later, they nonetheless served their purpose. They consisted of a tank-like wooden frame on four wheels. There was a small tower on top for archers to provide covering fire as the engine moved forward. When it had reached its destination, its primary weapon, a large spear, was used to batter away and chip pieces of the enemy wall. Whilst this would have been almost useless against stone walls, one must keep in mind that mud and not stone was used to build walls. Even when dried, these mud walls could be attacked with such engines. Walls were strengthened with time and the Assyrians responded by building larger engines with bigger "spears". In time, they closely resembled a large and long log with a metal tip at the end. Even stone would not withstand pounding by a larger weapon. Larger engines accommodated greater numbers of archers. To protect against fire (which was used by both sides at the Siege of Lachish) the battering ram would be covered in wet skins[38]. These could be watered at any time in battle in case they dried.

“ I captured 46 towns... by consolidating ramps to bring up battering rams, by infantry attacks, mines, breaches and siege engines"
—Sennacherib, [17]

Siege towers, even ones that could float were reported to have been in use whenever there was a wall facing a river.[2]

Timeline of Assyrian Military

3rd and 2nd Millennia B.C.

• 2340 - 2284 B.C. Sargon of Agade conquers much of Mesopotamia
• 1230 B.C. Battle of Nairi
• 1170 B.C. Nineveh is stronger than ever with more power than ever

9th Century B.C.

Cavalry use first recorded by Tukulti Ninurta II

• 883 BC Ashurnasirpal II takes power and begins expansion of Assyria beyond Mesopotamia
• 877 B.C. Ashurnasirpal II takes Assyrian troops to the Mediterranean and Mount Lebanon for the first time.
• 858 B.C. Shalmaneser III subjugates Bit Adini to vassal status
• 853 B.C. After taking Aleppo, Shalmaneser III is stopped at the Battle of Qarqar
• 851 B.C. Shalmaneser III defeats Chaldean revolt in Babylon
• 849, 845 & 841 B.C. Shalmaneser III makes three unsuccessful attempts to take Syria
• 840 B.C. Shalmaneser III fails to defeat Urartu
• 832 B.C. Shalmaneser III fails to take Damascus in a siege
• 824 B.C. Shalmaneser III dies, Assyria enters into period of weakness

8th Century B.C.

• 780 - 756 B.C. Argistis I reigns over Assyria, lake Urmia lost by Assyria to Urartu
• 745 B.C. Tiglath Pileser III seizes power in a coup; Assyrian Army reformed
• 744 B.C. Mass deportation of Iranians by Tiglath Pileser III
• Unknown date: Tiglath Pileser III defeats Babylon
• 743 B.C. Tiglath Pileser III decisively defeats Urartu, besieges Arpad
741 B.C. Arpad falls to Tiglath Pileser III
• 734 - 732 B.C. Syro-Ephraimite War: Rebellions in Syria and Palestine are crushed. Damascus falls in 732.
• 732 B.C. Babylon is conquered by Assyria following an usurpation of the throne by a Chaldean. Lands around Babylon are devastated during three years of fighting
• 724 - 722 B.C. Shalmaneser V besieges and then captures Samaria
• 721 B.C. Coup of Sargon II results in Samaria revolt; it is quickly crushed.
• 721 B.C. Sargon II defeats Babylonian rebellion
• 717 - 716 B.C. Sargon II takes Carchemish to secure trade routes in the north.
• 714 B.C. A major military disaster befalls Urartu; Sargon II destroys Urartu's ability to fight forever
• 713 B.C. Rumours of an anti-Assyrian alliance leads Sargon II to take Tabal.
• 710 - 707 B.C. Another Babylonian revolt is crushed by Sargon II
• 709 B.C. Assyrian expeditionary forces sent by Sargon II force Midas to seek peace terms.
• 703 B.C. Another Chaldean-backed Babylon revolt is crushed by Sennacherib, only one year after his succession
• 701 B.C. Sennacherib moves down Mediterranean coast to subdue Syria and Israel. Lachish is taken after bloody fighting, whilst Egyptian aid is driven back. Siege of Jerusalem fails.

7th Century B.C.

• 694 B.C. Sennacherib attacks Elam. Elam attacks Babylon, which is now unoccupied by Assyrian army
• 693 B.C. Battle of Diyala River: Assyrian assault to Elam through Der is called back due to Babylonian revolt
• 692 B.C. Battle of Halule: The alliance of Elamites, Babylonians, Chaldeans, and Aramaic and Zagros tribes fight off the Assyrians.
• 691 B.C. Sennacherib wins a Pyrrhic victory against Elam. However he is able to crush the Babylon revolt
• 681 B.C. Sennacherib is murdered by two of his sons; another son Esarhaddon avenges his death and rules Assyria
• 679 B.C. An alliance of Cimmerians and Scythians is defeated by Esarhaddon's forces.
• 679 B.C. Esarhaddon's troops take Arzani and reach the Egyptian border.
• 676 B.C. Esarhaddon launches an offensive to counter increasing Iranian power.
675 B.C. An assault on Egypt is thrown back.
• 671 B.C. Another Assyrian offensive into Egypt is a success;
• 669 B.C. Memphis is sacked by Assyrian troops
• 668 B.C. Ashurbanipal succeeds Esarhhadon, last King of Assyria to expand her borders beyond Mesopotamia
• 663 B.C. Ashurbanipal relieves an Egyptian siege of Memphis and destroys Thebes in the south.
• 665 B.C. A ten year campaign against Media is launched.
• 665 B.C. Elam attacks Babylon, but fails.
• 655 B.C. Elam attacks Babylon. At the same time, Egypt launches another offensive. Elamite attack repelled by large Assyrian army assembled by Ashurbanipal.
• Unknown date (possibly 655 B.C.) Ashurbanipal drives Elmite forces across the River Ulai in the plain of Susa.
• 653 B.C. Median invasion stopped by Scythian attack
• 652 B.C. Babylon once more revolts
• 651 B.C. Ashurbanipal abandons Egypt to focus on Elamite attacks; Assyrian army shows signs of overstretching itself.[39]
• 648 B.C. Babylon is utterly destroyed by Assyria; Elamite civil war ensures no help from Elam.
• 647 B.C. Battle of Susa: Susa is destroyed completely by Ashurbanipal.[35]
• 639 B.C. Ashurbanipal decimates the lands of Elam. Elamite kingdom does not recover.

Collapse of Assyria

• 635 B.C. Egypt, unchecked since 651 B.C., storms Ashdod.
• 627 B.C. Ashurbanipal dies. Collapse of Assyria accelerates.
• 622 B.C. An Assyrian expedition may have been launched west of the Euphrates; lack of Assyrian records points to a likely Assyrian defeat.
• 616 B.C. Nabopolassar, King of Babylon since 626 B.C., drives out Assyrian troops from Babylonia.
• 615 B.C. Median invasion of Assyria results in capture of Arrapha.
• 614 B.C. Assur, first Capital of Assyria is sacked by the Medes under King Cyaxares.
• 612 B.C. Battle of Nineveh (612 BC): Nineveh is destroyed by an alliance of Medians and Babylonians after a mere 3 month siege.
• 609 B.C. Battle of Megiddo (609 BC): Egyptians unsuccessfully tried to help the Assyrians.
• 608 B.C. Newly established Assyrian capital at Harran is destroyed by pursuing Babylonian forces.
• 605 B.C. Battle of Carchemish: Egypt, fearing the power of Babylon, assists Assyria. An Assyrian-Egyptian alliance is crushed by a Babylonian army. Assyria ceases to exist as an independent nation.


• Healy, Mark (1991). The Ancient Assyrians. London: Osprey. ISBN 1855321637. OCLC 26351868. ... 1855321637.
• Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Oxford UP.
• Grant, R.G. (2005). Battle a Visual Journey Through 5000 Years of Combat. London: Dorling Kindersley. pp.


1. Until final Egyptian aid at Megiddo was beaten
2. Healy, The Ancient Assyrians, p. 23
3. Healy, The Ancient Assyrians, p. 6
4. Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Oxford UP. pp. 10–11.
5. Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Oxford UP. p. 56.
6. Burenhult, Göran (in Swedish). Bra böckers encyklopedi om människans historia. 5, Civilisationens vaggor: tidiga högkulturer i esopotamien, Egypten och Asien. pp. 37. ISBN 9171331719. OCLC 186397556. "Assyrien har med rätta kallats världens första militärmakt."
7. Healy, The Ancient Assyrians, p. 6,10
8. Healy, The Ancient Assyrians, p. 7
9. Healy, The Ancient Assyrians, p. 10
10. Healy, The Ancient Assyrians, p. 13
11. Healy, The Ancient Assyrians, p. 17
12. Healy, The Ancient Assyrians, p. 54
13. Grant, R.G. (2005). Battle a Visual Journey Through 5000 Years of Combat. London: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 16.
14. Grant, R.G. (2005). Battle a Visual Journey Through 5000 Years of Combat. London: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 12.
15. Grant, R.G. (2005). Battle a Visual Journey Through 5000 Years of Combat. London: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 13.
16. Healy, The Ancient Assyrians, p. 19
17. Grant, R.G. (2005). Battle a Visual Journey Through 5000 Years of Combat. London: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 17.
18. Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Oxford UP. pp. 264.
19. Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Oxford UP. pp. 265.
20. Healy, The Ancient Assyrians, p. 18
21. Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Oxford UP. pp. 253.
22. Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Oxford UP. pp. 254.
23. Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Oxford UP. pp. 255.
24. Healy, The Ancient Assyrians, p. 20
25. Healy, The Ancient Assyrians, p. 21
26. Healy, The Ancient Assyrians, p. 22
27. "Manners and Customs of Babylonia-Assyria". The Historians' History of the World. I. The Outlook Company. 1904. pp. 470.
28. Healy, Mark (1991). The Ancient Assyrians. New York: Osprey. pp. 24. Texts describe attacking as a preferred method of war
29. Healy, Mark (1991). The Ancient Assyrians. New York: Osprey. pp. 47.
30. Healy, Mark (1991). The Ancient Assyrians. New York: Osprey. pp. 32.
31. Healy, Mark (1991). The Ancient Assyrians. New York: Osprey. pp. Various pages.
32. Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Oxford UP. pp. 268.
33. Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Oxford UP.
34. Healy, Mark (1991). The Ancient Assyrians. New York: Osprey. pp. 7.
35. Persians: Masters of Empire" ISBN 0-8094-9104-4 p. 7-8
36. Healy, Mark (1991). The Ancient Assyrians. New York: Osprey. pp. 50.
37. Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Oxford UP. pp. 267.
38. Healy, Mark (1991). The Ancient Assyrians. New York: Osprey. pp. 30.
39. Healy, Mark (1991). The Ancient Assyrians. New York: Osprey. pp. .. "Whilst he did indeed give up the "kingdom of the two lands" (upper and lower Egypt, shows the frontline in 639 BC as including the Nile River)" [unreliable
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