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.

Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

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

by Wikipedia



[All Bible "PROOF" edited out.]

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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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:14 am

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[All Bible "PROOF" edited out.]

A small kneeling bronze statuette, likely Necho II, now residing in the Brooklyn Museum

Necho II (sometimes Nekau) was a king of the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt (610 BCE - 595 BCE).



Necho II was the son of Psammetichus I by his Great Royal Wife Mehtenweskhet. His prenomen or royal name Wahemibre means "Carrying out the Wish of Re."[2]

Military campaign

Herodotus reports the campaign of the pharaoh in his Histories:

“Necos, then, stopped work on the canal and turned to war; some of his triremes were constructed by the northern sea, and some in the Arabian Gulf, by the coast of the Sea of Erythrias. The windlasses for beaching the ships can still be seen. He deployed these ships as needed, while he also engaged in a pitched battle at Magdolos with the Syrians, and conquered them; and after this he took Cadytis (Kadesh), which is a great city of Syria. He sent the clothes he had worn in these battles to Branchidae of Miletus and dedicated them to Apollo. ”

Ambitious projects

Necho II initiated but never completed the ambitious project of cutting a navigable canal from the Pelusiac branch of the Nile to the Red Sea, the earliest precursor of the Suez Canal.[3] It was in connection with this new activity that Necho founded the new entrepot city of Per-Temu Tjeku which translates as 'The House of Atum of Tjeku' at the site now known as Tell el-Maskhuta[4], about 15 km west of Ismailia. The waterway was intended to facilitate trade between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean; Necho also formed an Egyptian navy by recruiting displaced Ionian Greeks. This was an unprecedented act by the pharaoh since most Egyptians had traditionally harboured an inherent distaste for and fear of the sea.[5] The navy which Necho created served to operate along both the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts.[6]

Herodotus (4.42) also reports that Necho sent out an expedition of Phoenicians, who in three years sailed from the Red Sea around Africa back to the mouth of the Nile.[7] Some current historians tend to believe Herodotus' account, primarily because he stated with disbelief that the Phoenicians as they sailed on a westerly course round the southern end of Libya (Africa), they had the sun on their right -- to northward of them" (The Histories 4.42) -- in Herodotus' time it was not known that Africa extended south past the equator. However, Egyptologists also point out that it would have been extremely unusual for an Egyptian Pharaoh to carry out such an expedition.[8] Alan B. Lloyd doubts the event and attributes the development of the story by other events.[9]

Death and succession

Necho II died in 595 BC and was succeeded by his son, Psamtik II, as the next pharaoh of Egypt. Psamtik II, however, later removed Necho's name from almost all of his father's monuments for unknown reasons.

Further Reading

Peter Clayton (1994). Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames and Hudson.
Nekau (II) Wehemibre.,
Christian Settipani (1991). Nos ancêtres de l'Antiquité. p. 153 and 161


General information

Budge, E. A. W. (1894). The mummy: Chapters on Egyptian funereal archaeology. Cambridge [England]: University Press. page 56+.
Budge, E. A. W. (1904). A history of Egypt from the end of the Neolithic period to the death of Cleopatra VII, B.C. 30. Books on Egypt and Chaldaea, v. 9-16. London: K. Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Page218+.



2. Peter Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames and Hudson, 1994. p.195

3. Redmount, Carol A. "The Wadi Tumilat and the "Canal of the Pharaohs"" Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 54, No. 2 (Apr., 1995), pp. 127-135

4. Shaw & Nicholson, p.201

5. Clayton, p.196

6. Herodotus 2.158; Pliny N.H. 6.165ff; Diodorus Siculus 3.43

7. Note however that though the original documents state "Red Sea", many ancient manuscripts reference the "Mediterranean Sea" as the "Red Sea". See History of Suez Canal and painting by Wybylack for more detail.

8. For instance, the Egyptologist Alan Lloyd wrote "Given the context of Egyptian thought, economic life, and military interests, it is impossible for one to imagine what stimulus could have motivated Necho in such a scheme and if we cannot provide a reason which is sound within Egyptian terms of reference, then we have good reason to doubt the historicity of the entire episode." Alan B. Lloyd, "Necho and the Red Sea: Some Considerations", Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 63 (1977) p.149.

9. Lloyd points out that geographical knowledge at the time of Herodutus was such that Greeks would know that such a voyage would entail the sun being on their right but did not believe Africa could extend far enough for this to happen. He suggests that the Greeks at this time understood that anyone going south far enough and then turning west would have the sun on their right but found it unbelievable that Africa reached so far south. He suggests that "It is extremely unlikely that an Egyptian king would, or could, have acted as Necho is depicted as doing" and that the story might have been triggered by the failure of Sataspes attempt to circumnavigate Africa under Xerxes the Great. For more see: Lloyd, Alan B. "Necho and the Red Sea: Some Considerations Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 63, (1977), pp. 142-155
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:17 am

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[All Bible "PROOF" edited out.]

An engraving inside an onyx-stone-eye in a Marduk statue that depicts Nebuchadnezzar II[1]

Nebuchadnezzar II (c 634 – 562 BC) was a ruler of Babylon in the Chaldean Dynasty, who reigned c. 605 BC – 562 BC.


The Akkadian name, Nabû-kudurri-uṣur, means "Oh god Nabu, preserve/defend my firstborn son". Nabu is the Babylonian deity of wisdom, and son of the god Marduk. In an inscription, Nebuchadnezzar styles himself as Nabu's “beloved” and “favourite”.[2][3]

The name is often mistakenly interpreted as "O Nabu, defend my kudurru",[4] in which sense a kudurru is an inscribed stone deed of property. However, when contained in a ruler's title, kudurru approximates to "firstborn son" or "oldest son".[5]

The Hebrew form is נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר (Nəḇūḵaḏneṣṣar or Nevuchadnetsar), but is also found as נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּר and נְבוּכַדְרֶאצַּר (Nəḇuḵaḏreṣṣar). The Greek form was Ναβουχοδονόσωρ. He is also known as Bakhat Nasar, which means "winner of the fate", or literally, "fate winner".


Nebuchadnezzar II was the eldest son, and successor, of Nabopolassar, who delivered Babylon from its dependence on Assyria and laid Nineveh in ruins. According to Berossus, some years before he became king of Babylon, he married Amytis of Media, the daughter or granddaughter of Cyaxares, king of the Medes, and thus the Median and Babylonian dynasties were united.

Nabopolassar was intent on annexing the western provinces of Syria from Necho II (who was still hoping to restore Assyrian power), and to this end dispatched his son westward with a powerful army. In the ensuing Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC, the Egyptian army was defeated and driven back, and Syria and Phoenicia were brought under the control of Babylon. Nabopolassar died in August of that year, and Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon to ascend to the throne.

After the defeat of the Cimmerians and Scythians, all of Nebuchadnezzar's expeditions were directed westwards, although the powerful Median empire lay to the north. Nebuchadnezzar's political marriage to Amytis of Media, the daughter of the Median king, had ensured peace between the two empires.

A clay tablet,[7] now in the British Museum, states: "In the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the country of Babylon, he went to Mitzraim (Egypt) to make war. Amasis, king of Egypt, collected [his army], and marched and spread abroad." Having completed the subjugation of Phoenicia, and a campaign against Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar set himself to rebuild and adorn the city of Babylon, and constructed canals, aqueducts, temples and reservoirs.

According to Babylonian tradition, Nebuchadnezzar, towards the end of his life, prophesied the impending ruin of the Chaldean Empire (Berosus and Abydenus in Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, 9.41). Nebuchadnezzar died in Babylon between the second and sixth months of the forty-third year of his reign.

Construction activity

Building Inscription of King Nebuchadnezar II at the Ishtar Gate. An abridged excerpt says: "I (Nebuchadnezzar) laid the foundation of the gates down to the ground water level and had them built out of pure blue stone. Upon the walls in the inner room of the gate are bulls and dragons and thus I magnificently adorned them with luxurious splendour for all mankind to behold in awe."

During the last century of Nineveh's existence, Babylon had been greatly devastated, not only at the hands of Sennacherib and Assurbanipal, but also as a result of her ever renewed rebellions. Nebuchadnezzar, continuing his father's work of reconstruction, aimed at making his capital one of the world's wonders. Old temples were restored; new edifices of incredible magnificence were erected to the many gods of the Babylonian pantheon (Diodorus of Sicily, 2.95; Herodotus, 1.183). The bridge across the Euphrates is of particular interest, in that it was supported on asphalt covered brick piers that were streamlined to reduce the upstream resistance to flow, and the downstream turbulence that would otherwise undermine the foundations. Nebuchadnezzar's construction activity was not confined to the capital; he is credited with the restoration of the Lake of Sippar, the opening of a port on the Persian Gulf, and the building of the Mede wall between the Tigris and the Euphrates to protect the country against incursions from the north. These undertakings required a considerable number of laborers; an inscription at the great temple of Marduk suggests that the labouring force used for his public works was most likely made up of captives brought from various parts of western Asia.

Nebuchadnezzar is credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens, for his sick wife Amyitis (or Amytis) to remind her of her homeland, Medis (Media) in Persia.[9] However, some scholars argue that they may have been constructed by a queen from the Assyrian city, Nineveh.[10]

Interpretations of Nebuchadnezzar's actions

Voltaire interprets the legacy of Nebuchadnezzar and his relationship with Amasis in a short story entitled The White Bull.



1. Anton Nyström, Allmän kulturhistoria eller det mänskliga lifvet i dess utveckling, bd 2 (1901)
2. Harper, R.F. quoted in Peet, Stephen Denison (editor). 1900. “Editorial Notes,” The American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal. New York: Doubleday, vol. XXII, May and June. p. 207.
3. Lamb, Harold. 1960. Cyrus the Great. New York: Doubleday, p. 104.
4. Schrader, Eberhard. 1888. The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament. London: Williams and Norgate, p. 48 (footnote).
5. Chicago Assyrian Dictionary sub Kudurru Ca5'
7. Elgood, Percival George. 1951. Later Dynasties of Egypt. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 106.
8. Smith, William and Fuller, J.M. 1893. A Dictionary of the Bible: Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History. London: John Murray, vol. I, p. 314.
9. Foster, Karen Polinger (1998). "Gardens of Eden: Flora and Fauna in the Ancient Near East". Transformations of Middle Eastern Natural Environments: Legacies and Lessons. New Haven: Yale University. pp. 320–329. ... foster.pdf. Retrieved 2007-08-11.
10. "How the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World Work". Stuff You Missed in History Class. 8.04.08
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:27 am

by Wikipedia



Ugarit (Ugaritic: [x] ugrt; Arabic: أوغاريت) (modern Ras Shamra رأس شمرة ("top/head/cape of the wild fennel" in Arabic), near Latakia, Syria) was an ancient cosmopolitan port city, sited on the Mediterranean coast. Ugarit sent tribute to Egypt and maintained trade and diplomatic connections with Cyprus (called Alashiya), documented in the archives recovered from the site and corroborated by Mycenaean and Cypriot pottery found there. The polity was at its height from ca. 1450 BC until 1200 BC.

Map of Syria in the second millennium B.C., showing the location of Ugarit.


Ras Shamra (“Fennel Head”) is a sixty-five foot mound located near Minet el-Beida (White Harbor) in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of the point of Cyprus. Ras Shamra, as it is known today, was identified as the ancient city of Ugarit.

Excavated ruins at Ras Shamra

The Site

Ugarit's location was forgotten until 1928 when a peasant accidentally opened an old tomb while plowing a field. The discovered area was the Necropolis of Ugarit located in the nearby seaport of Minet el-Beida. Excavations have since revealed an important city that takes its place alongside Ur and Eridu as a cradle of urban culture, with a prehistory reaching back to ca. 6000 BC, perhaps because it was both a port and at the entrance of the inland trade route to the Euphrates and Tigris lands.

Entrance to the royal palace.

Most excavations of Ugarit were undertaken by archaeologist Claude Schaeffer from the Prehistoric and Gallo-Roman Museum in Strasbourg.

The excavations uncovered a royal palace of 90 rooms laid out around eight enclosed courtyards, many ambitious private dwellings, including two private libraries (one belonging to a diplomat named Rapanu) that contained diplomatic, legal, economic, administrative, scholastic, literary and religious texts. Crowning the hill where the city was built were two main temples: one to Baal the "king", son of El, and one to Dagon, the chthonic god of fertility and wheat.

On excavation of the site, several deposits of cuneiform clay tablets were found, constituting a palace library, a temple library and—apparently unique in the world at the time—two private libraries; all dating from the last phase of Ugarit, around 1200 BC. The tablets found at this cosmopolitan center are written in four languages: Sumerian, Hurrian, Akkadian (the language of diplomacy at this time in the ancient Near East), and Ugaritic (of which nothing had been known before). No less than seven different scripts were in use at Ugarit: Egyptian and Luwian hieroglyphics, and Cypro-Minoan, Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, and Ugaritic cuneiform.

During excavations in 1958, yet another library of tablets was uncovered. These were, however, sold on the black market and not immediately recovered. The "Claremont Ras Shamra Tablets" are now housed at the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California. They were edited by Loren R. Fisher in 1971. In 1973, an archive containing around 120 tablets was discovered during rescue excavations; in 1994 more than 300 further tablets were discovered on this site in a large ashlar building, covering the final years of the Bronze Age city's existence.

The most important piece of literature recovered from Ugarit is arguably the Baal cycle, describing the basis for the religion and cult of the Canaanite Baal.


A Baal statuette from Ugarit.

Though the site is thought to have been inhabited earlier, Neolithic Ugarit was already important enough to be fortified with a wall early on, perhaps by 6000 BC.

The first written evidence mentioning the city comes from the nearby city of Ebla, ca. 1800 BC. Ugarit passed into the sphere of influence of Egypt, which deeply influenced its art. The earliest Ugaritic contact with Egypt (and the first exact dating of Ugaritic civilization) comes from a carnelian bead identified with the Middle Kingdom pharaoh Senusret I, 1971 BCE–1926 BC. A stela and a statuette from the Egyptian pharaohs Senusret III and Amenemhet III have also been found. However, it is unclear at what time these monuments got to Ugarit. Amarna letters from Ugarit ca. 1350 BC records one letter each from Ammittamru I, Niqmaddu II, and his queen.

Boar rhyton, Mycaenean ceramic imported to Ugarit, 14th-13th century BC (Louvre)

During its high culture, from the 16th to the 13th century BC, Ugarit remained in constant touch with Egypt and Cyprus (named Alashiya).


The last Bronze Age king of Ugarit, Ammurapi, was a contemporary of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma II. The exact dates of his reign are unknown. However, a letter by the king is preserved. Ammurapi stresses the seriousness of the crisis faced by many Near Eastern states from invasion by the advancing Sea Peoples when he wrote a dramatic response to a plea for assistance from the king of Alasiya. Ammurapi highlights the desperate situation Ugarit faced in letter RS 18.147:

My father, behold, the enemy's ships came (here); my cities(?) were burned, and they did evil things in my country. Does not my father know that all my troops and chariots(?) are in the Land of Hatti, and all my ships are in the Land of Lukka?...Thus, the country is abandoned to itself. May my father know it: the seven ships of the enemy that came here inflicted much damage upon us.[1]

Unfortunately for Ugarit, no help arrived and Ugarit was burned to the ground at the end of the Bronze Age. Its destruction levels contained Late Helladic IIIB ware, but no LH IIIC (see Mycenaean period). Therefore, the date of the destruction is important for the dating of the LH IIIC phase. Since an Egyptian sword bearing the name of pharaoh Merneptah was found in the destruction levels, 1190 BC was taken as the date for the beginning of the LH IIIC. A cuneiform tablet found in 1986 shows that Ugarit was destroyed after the death of Merneptah. It is generally agreed that Ugarit had already been destroyed by the 8th year of Ramesses III—i. e. 1178 BC.

Whether Ugarit was destroyed before or after Hattusa, the Hittite capital, is debated. The destruction is followed by a settlement hiatus. Many other Mediterranean cultures were deeply disordered just at the same time, apparently by invasions of the mysterious "Sea Peoples".


Scribes in Ugarit appear to have originated the Ugaritic alphabet around 1400 BC; 30 letters, corresponding to sounds, were adapted from cuneiform characters and inscribed on clay tablets. A debate exists as to whether the Phoenician or Ugaritic alphabet was first. While many of the letters show little or no formal similarity, the standard letter order (preserved in the latin alphabet as A, B, C, D, etc.) shows strong similarities between the two, suggesting that the Phoenician and Ugaritic systems were not wholly independent inventions. It was later the Phoenician alphabet that spread through the Aegean and on Phoenician trade routes throughout the Mediterranean. The Phoenician system became the basis for the first true alphabet, when it was adopted by Greek speakers who modified some of its signs to represent vowel sounds as well, and as such was in turn adopted and modified by populations in Italy (including ancestors of the Romans). Compared with the difficulty of writing Akkadian in cuneiform—such as the Amarna Letters from ca. 1350 BC— the flexibility of an alphabet opened a horizon of literacy to many more kinds of people. In contrast, the syllabary (called Linear B) used in Mycenaean Greek palace sites at about the same time was so cumbersome that literacy was limited largely to administrative specialists.

Ugaritic Language

The Ugaritic language is attested in texts from the 14th through the 12th century BC. Ugaritic is usually classified as a Northwest Semitic language and therefore related to Hebrew, Aramaic and Phoenician, among others. Its grammatical features are highly similar to those found in Classical Arabic and Akkadian. It possesses two genders (masculine and feminine), three cases for nouns and adjectives (nominative, accusative, and genitive); three numbers: (singular, dual, and plural); and verb aspects similar to those found in Western Semitic languages. The word order in Ugaritic is Verb Subject Object (VSO); possessed–possessor (NG) (first element dependent on the function and second always in genitive case); and noun–adjective (NA) (both in the same case (ie. congruent)).[2]

Ugaritic literature

Apart from royal correspondence to neighboring Bronze Age monarchs, Ugaritic literature from tablets found in the libraries include mythological texts written in a narrative poetry, letters, legal documents such as land transfers, a few international treaties, and a number of administrative lists. Fragments of several poetic works have been identified: the "Legend of Kirtu," the "Legend of Danel", the Ba'al tales that detail Baal-Hadad's conflicts with Yam and Mot, and other fragments.[3]

The discovery of the Ugaritic archives has been of great significance to biblical scholarship, as these archives for the first time provided a detailed description of Canaanite religious beliefs during the period directly preceding the Israelite settlement. These texts show significant parallels to Biblical Hebrew literature, particularly in the areas of divine imagery and poetic form. Ugaritic poetry has many elements later found in Hebrew poetry: parallelisms, meters, and rhythms. The discoveries at Ugarit have led to a new appraisal of the Old Testament as literature.

Ugaritic religion

Writing of 'religion' in the Ancient Near East is at best a dubious science. Academia prefers to speak of various 'cults' within the ancient context.[4] The important textual finds from the Ras Shamra (Ugarit) site shed a great deal of light upon the cultic life of the city and Canaanite culture. There is growing scholarly agreement that the material culture of Ugarit should be properly designated Canaanite High Culture.[5]

In the north-east quarter of the walled enclosure the remains of three significant buildings were unearthed; the temples of Baal and Dagon and the library (sometimes referred to as the high priest's house). Within these structures atop the acropolis numerous invaluable mythological texts were found. Since the 1930s these texts have opened up for us something of the Canaanite mythological world. The Baal cycle represents Baal's destruction of Yam (the chaos sea monster), demonstrating the relationship of Canaanite chaoskampf with those of Mesopotamia and the Aegean: warrior god rises up as the hero of the new pantheon to defeat chaos and bring order.

It is almost certain that the cult(s) of Baal in the Levant influenced later Israelite cult and mythology. Yahweh often takes on the chaoskampf role of Baal in his struggle with the chaotic sea. It would, however, be incorrect to use later redacted biblical texts to reconstruct Canaanite religion or cult. At the soonest we can date a people known as Israel in southern Canaan by the Merneptah Stele (c.a. 1200 BCE), and it would be some two hundred years more before this people have a monarchic state.

While we know El to be the chief of the Canaanite pantheon, very little attention is paid to him in the cultic/mythological texts. This is rather common of Middle to Late Bronze Age mythology; the high god is drawn into the background whilst new warrior deities move to centre stage. In Ugarit and much of the Levant this is Baal, to the Shasu / Shosu and the later Israelites this is Yahweh and his consort, and in Mesopotamia this is Marduk. These warrior-god mythologies show remarkable points of contact and are most likely reflections of the same arche-myth.

Kings of Ugarit

(short chronology)

Niqmaddu I
Yaqurum I
Ibiranu I
Ammittamru I ca. 1350 BC
Niqmaddu II ca. 1350 - 1315 BC Contemporary of Suppiluliuma I of the Hittites
Arhalba ca. 1315 - 1313 BC
Niqmepa ca. 1313 - 1260 BC Treaty with Mursili II of the Hittites, Son of Niqmadu II,
Ammittamru II ca. 1260-1235 BC Contemporary of Bentisina of Amurru, Son of Niqmepa
Ibiranu ca. 1235 - 1225/20 BC
Niqmaddu III ca. 1225/20 - 1215 BC
Ammurapi ca. 1200 BC Contemporary of Chancellor Bay of Egypt, Ugarit is destroyed



1. Jean Nougaryol et al. (1968) Ugaritica V: 87-90 no.24
2. Stanislav Segert, A basic Grammar of the Ugaritic Language: with selected texts and glossary (1984) 1997.
3. Nick Wyatt. Religious texts from Ugarit, (1998) rev. ed 2002.
4. Miller, J. Maxwell, and Hayes, John H., A History of Ancient Israel and Judah (London: SCM Press, 1986)pp. 121-147
5. Wyatt, Nicholas, Religious Texts from Ugarit: the words of Ilimiku and his colleagues (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998)p. 53f


Bourdreuil, P. 1991. "Une bibliothèque au sud de la ville : Les textes de la 34e campagne (1973)". in Ras Shamra-Ougarit, 7 (Paris).
Drews, Robert. 1995. The End of the Bronze Age: Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe ca. 1200 BC (Princeton University Press). ISBN 0-691-02591-6
Meletinskii, E. M., 2000 The Poetics of Myth
Smith, Mark S., 2001. Untold Stories ; The Bible and Ugaritic Studies in the Twentieth Century ISBN 1-56563-575-2 Chapter 1: "Beginnings: 1928–1945"
Ugarit Forschungen (Neukirchen-Vluyn). UF-11 (1979) honors Claude Schaeffer, with about 100 articles in 900 pages. pp 95, ff, "Comparative Graphemic Analysis of Old Babylonian and Western Akkadian", ( i.e. Ugarit and Amarna (letters), 3 others, Mari, OB,Royal, OB,non-Royal letters). See above, in text.
Virolleaud, Charles, 1929. "Les Inscriptions cunéiformes de Ras Shamra." in Syria 10, pp 304–310.
Yon, Marguerite, 2005. The City of Ugarit at Tell Ras Shamra ISBN 1-57506-029-9 (Translation of La cité d'Ugarit sur le Tell de Ras Shamra 1979)
Ed. K. L. Younger Jr. "Ugarit at Seventy-Five," Eisenbrauns, 2007.
William M. Schniedewind, Joel H. Hunt, 2007. A primer on Ugaritic: language, culture, and literature ISBN 0521879337 p. 14.
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:29 am

Baal Text
Theological Seminary
Kampen, The Netherlands



Ba'lu and His Antagonists: Some Remarks on CTA 6:V.1-6, by Meindert Dijkstra, Theological Seminary, Kampen, The Netherlands

Ba'lu and His Antagonists:
Some Remarks on CTA 6:V.1-6

The interpetation of CTA 6: V. 1-6, which relates a battle between Ba'lu and some antagonists, indicated vaguely as bn 'atrt, has led to divergent translations,1 though only a decisive solution of the enigmatic words dkym and shrmt (according to Ch. Virolleaud's copy) presents difficulties.

In this note some arguments will be advanced toward their interpretation, following a suggestion of J. C. de Moor with regard to the damaged group of consonants shrmt. 2 Consequently, some considerations are submitted on the connections of the passage with the whole Ba'lu-story, beginning with Ps. 93: 3-4, in spite of H. Donner's critical remarks made on the subject. 3

In the main the Ba'lu-story can be understood as the account of Ba'lu's struggle for his kingship and consequently the mythological motivation for the building of his sanctuary.4 The motif of this struggle is present at any moment. Note the fear expressed by the mother-goddess, 'Atiratu, in CTA 4:11.21-26:

['i]k (22) mgy. 'al'iyn [. b]'1 -- Why has Ba'lu the Almighty come,
(23)'ik . mgyt . b[t]lt (24) 'nt -- Why has the "Virgin" 'Anatu come?5
mhsy hm[. m]hs~ (25)bny -- To slay me or to slay my sons.
hm [. mkly.s]brt (26)'aryy6-- or to annihilate the group of my kin?

In fact Yammu 'Sea' and Motu 'Death' are the great antagonists in the mythological epic of Ba'lu, both known as son and beloved of 'Ilu, the father of the gods,7 and also sons of the qnyt 'ilm, the procreatress of the gods, 'Atiratu (CTA 4:1.23; III.26, 30, 35; IV-V.32).8 Thus, her words contain an insinuation of Ba'lu's intentions, if not a reference to the earlier (?) defeat of Yammu (CTA 2:IV).9

In CTA 6:V.1-6 there is talk of a new battle with some great sons of 'Atiratu in relation to Ba'lu's kingship; to think of Yammu and Motu seems to be a matter of course. Moreover, this connection between struggle and kingship again forces us to a comparison with biblical passages which connect the proclamation of Yahweh's eternal kingship with his superiority over chaotic powers, even where a trace of a primeval clash hardly remains, as in Ps. 93. In this note, I subscribe again to the view of those scholars who have associated Ps. 93: 3-4 with the passage under discussion, and I am of the opinion that the clear parallelism between the words qolam//dokyam and miqqolot mayim rabbim//misbere-yam10 can help us toward a further interpretation of CTA 6: V.1-6.

In accordance with the parallelism, the meaning of 'dok'i closely resembles that of misbere-yam. Fortunately, there is much more evidence of the latter expression than of the former. In Jonah 2:4b (similar to Ps. 42:8b) it is more or less synonymous with gallim 'the waves'. In Ps. 88:8 the expression is parallel to hamah 'wrath', although the connection with the depths and the netherworld is not absent (Ps. 88 :7). The association of misbere-yam with death is also supported by the remarkable variant misbere-mawet 'the waves of death' (NEB) in 2 Sam. 22:5.11 In these few texts sea and depths are closely related to death and the netherworld,12 a phenomenon tallying with ancient near eastern cosmology, which situates the netherworld below the earth either in or below the depths, seen as the waters of death.13

Without doubt the rare word *dok'i, usually derived from the root dakah,14 and the expression misbere-yam, of which the usual translation is 'the waves, the breakers of the sea', have an association with destruction. Where the Hebrew dakah (compare also the cognate roots daka/duk/dakak) occurs, it testifies to such an association in its diverse semantic contexts, namely the crushing of bones (Ps. 51: 10), though meant figuratively, and the monster Rahab (Ps. 89: 11 Qere). Note finally Ps. 44:20:

ki dikkitanu bimqom tannim
wattekas 'alenu be salmawet
Yet thou crushed us in the place of Tannin15
and covered us with the darkness of death.

The more or less synonymous use of the roots sabar and dakah (note especially Ps. 51: 19)16 enables us to take *dok'i as an abstract noun, semantically parallel to misbere-yam, of which the translation could be 'their pounding waves' (NEB) or the like.17 Additional evidence may be found in 1QS 3:4-9 where the choice of words seems to be influenced by Ps. 93; compare 1QS 3:8-9: ythr (9)bsrw lhzwt bmy ndh wlhtqds bmy dwky18 "His flesh shall be purified through sprinkling by water of purification and through hallowing by water of destruction." The translation 'water of destruction (scil. of guilt)' is not only supported by the negative sentences 1QS3:4-5: wlw' ytqds bymym (5)wnhrwt wlw' ythr bkwl my rhs "... nor be hallowed by oceans (5) and rivers, nor be purified by any cleansing water," but also by the literal meaning of my ndh (MT me niddah) 'water of excretion'.19

After these preliminary remarks we will turn to CTA 6:V.1-6:

1. y'ihd. b'l . bn. 'atrt
2. rbm. ymhs . bktp
3. dkym. ymhs . bsmd
4. shrmt (?) yms'i. l'ars
5. [ytb.] b[']1. lks'i. mlkh
6. l[nht] . lkht. drkth 20

Still Ba'lu seems to be confined to the netherworld. From CTA 6:1V we come to know how Sapsu, the sun-goddess, is sent to search for Ba'lu. The following episode in the myth is separated from the preceding events21 by an intermediate period of seven years, so CTA 6:V.1-6 may function as the closing lines of the preceding episode. In this following episode Motu reproaches Ba'lu with the fate he has suffered (compare CTA 6:11) and demands a substitute from him for his release;22 compare CTA 6:V.19-2l:

tn. 'ahd (20)b'ahk 'isp'a
wyth (21 ),ap . d'anst
Give one of your brothers, that I can eat,23
and the anger which I harbor will turn away.24

Unfortunately, the sequel to the story is not entirely clear. It seems that Motu is tricked by a gift of seven lads, who appear to be his own brothers. Consequently, he overtakes Ba'lu in his escape, so that the two antagonists are engaged in a final battle (CTA 6:VI.12-22). In the light of this termination of events, it might be assumed that in some way or other the passage CTA 6:V.1-6 anticipates, if not predicts it. 25

If so, we have a structure in the story which corresponds to that of CTA 2: IV, where Ba'lu's victory follows upon the sounding words of the technician-god Kotaru-waHasisu, predicting the immediate defeat of Yammu. Taken as a prediction, CTA 6:V.1-6 show the same structure as CTA 2:IV.8-10: (1) the prediction that Ba'lu will defeat his enemies, and (2) the promise of his enthronement and kingship. The tentative translation of the passage could be:

Ba'lu will seize the sons of 'Atiratu, 26
the great (gods) he will smite with the hatchet. 27
dkym he will smite with the "yoke,"28
shrmt(?) he will bring down to the earth.29
Ba'lu [will sit enthroned] on the chair of his kingship,
on [the seat] of the throne of his dominion.

For the interpretation of dkym many proposals have been made, but we confine ourselves to discuss a few which seem to be acceptable.

1. Starting from the likely plural interpretation of bn 'atrt//rbm, the translation of dkym with a plural noun, adjective or participle of the root dky 'to crush, pound', as a by-form of d(w)k/dk(k), such as 'Crushers, Oppressors', seems to be preferable.30 Less likely is the rendering of an adjective dky 'small, puny', which should be connected semantically to Ugar. dq 'small' (CTA 6:1.22),31 Heb. daq 'thin, fine (of dust, incense)',32 Akk. daqqu 'very small',33 all from the common Semitic root dqq 'to pulverize, pound'.34 It is hardly conceivable, however, that this passage is about small antagonists of Ba'lu unless the god 'Attaru could be so denoted. In spite of Driver's suggestion,35 there is little evidence that this ridiculed god comes into the picture in this part of the story.

Moreover, if the former derivation of the root dky should be preferred, an alternative interpretation of dkym as an abstract noun dky (*dukyu =Heb. doki) with enclitic m cannot be excluded. 36

2. That the word dkym could be a compound of a form belonging to the root d(w)k/dk(k) and the name of the sea-god, Yammu, has previously been suggested by J. Aistleitner.37 Unfortunately, his further interpretation of dk as a tempus afformativum disturbs the clear parallelism, making his solution unconvincing.38 Nevertheless, I think Aistleitner was on the right track. As a variation of dkym 'Crushers, Oppressors' derived from the root dky, one could consider d(w)k/dk(k), which is attested in CTA 161: 35 with a meaning 'to pulverize, pound' (compare also Num. 11 :8).39 Thus we interpret dkym as dk ym = dakiyamma 'the crushers or breakers of Yammu' and suggest a connection between this expression and the biblical misbere-yam. Compare for imagery Ps. 89:10; 65:8; Job 26:12.

sh(rt/mt): Any interpretation of these consonants must be conjectural. Only the first three signs are probable. Usually, shr is related to the root shr, which is sometimes found in a qtll-form.40 We may note two things concerning this root: (l) It functions in semantic contexts of meteorological phenomena (CTA 3:E.25-26 and parallels; CTA 4:VII.54-58 + CTA 8: 7-12 )41 but is also parallel to the root hr(r) 'to be hot, glow' in CTA 23:41, 44f., 47f.42 (2) Cognate verbs of the roots shr/shh/shy and their derivations show semantic ranges of 'to be white, clear, bright, yellowish-red, cloudless, thirsty, scorched, bare, desolation, desert'.43 With regard to the semantic contexts of the Ugaritic texts, a restriction to the connotations 'to become dust-colored, brownish'yellow'44 is not advisable. In general the roots shr/shh/shy seem to cover an idea which we can express by means of the compounds 'white-hot/red-hot'. Therefore a translation of CTA 3: E.25 nrt 'ilm sps shrrt "The light of the gods, Sapsu, burns"45 and of CTA 4:VII.56f. 'ibr mnt shrrm "The wings of the breeze(?) feel glowing"46 remains possible. Perhaps, taking the other contexts into consideration, a feminine adjective shrrt should be considered in CTA 6: V.4, which takes on the substantive meaning of 'the white (red) heat';47 If Virolleaud's reading is maintained, one might translate 'the heat of Motu, death, the murdering heat' or the like.48

Summarizing, we have two reasonable possibilities:

1. dky-m//shr(rt), which renders the translation:
Oppressors he will smite with the "yoke,"
The white heat he will bring down to the earth.

2. dk-ym//shr(-mt), which gives us:
The breakers of Sea he will smite with the "yoke,"
The heat of Death he will bring down to the earth.

For evidence of the latter, I submit the following considerations:

(1) The mention of Yammu, and especially of his destructive waves, would appear conceivable if the words ymhs bsmd were understood as a reference to Yammu's defeat, related in CTA 2:IV.11f., 18f., by the same magic smd-weapon.

(2) A renewed confrontation between Ba'lu and his old enemy in this part of the story tallies with ideas of the ancient near eastern cosmology as far as the netherworld is situated in the realm of the sea-god; moreover, in the Ugaritic mythology, a personified Naharu, very likely the same as Judge Naharu, dwells in the area of Motu as his cupbearer, 49 and Ba'lu is confined to the realm of Death at this point of the story.

(3) Some of the above mentioned biblical data connect the idea of descending to and arising from the dead with that of perishing into or escaping from the sea or the depths, understood as the waters of death (compare especially 2 Sam. 22: 5). For these biblical data the imagery of Isa. 26: 19-27:1 may also be clarifying, since in Israelite thought the resurrection of the dead is linked to a twofold act of Yahweh, namely the constraining of the netherworld 50 to uncover her slain and the slaying of the sea-monsters, Leviathan and Tannin.

(4) The closing lines of CTA 6:

50. bym. 'ars. wtnn -- In the sea are 'Arsu and Tunnanu.51
51. ktr. whss . yd -- May Kotaru-waHasisu drive away.
52. ytr. ktr. whss -- May Kotaru-waHasisu do it again(?).52

Why are the sea-monsters 'Arsu and Tunnanu mentioned here? Again, the course of events in the last column of CTA 6 is obscure because of the damaged lines VI.32-42. It appears that after the final battle with Motu, Ba'lu is permitted to leave the netherworld and to return to Mount Sapanu. 53 Witness to their encounter is the goddess Sapsu, probably during her nightly visit to the underworld.54 Now and then it is said that the lines after the gap in CTA 6: VI form part of a hymn to Sapsu,55 but in my opinion these lines, probably including the fragmentary 37-42,56 contain instructions to Sapsu from Ba'lu to lead the shades and ghosts to a banquet in Ba'lu's temple.57 The mention of 'Arsu and Tunnanu in the sea (compare also Isa. 27: 1) may denote the critical moment when Sapsu and her host leave the netherworld.

As a result of these observations, I now venture to say that the lines CTA 6:V.1-6 contain a summary of the whole Ba'lu-story, his struggle with both of his great antagonists Yammu and Motu on the way to his kingship. To this effect, CTA 6:V.3 also functions as a flashback to the story of CTA 2, underlining in advance the prediction of Ba'lu's victory over the summer-heat, that is, over the power of Death.



1 See e.g., C. H. Gordon, Ugaritic Literature (=UL) (Rome, 1949), 47; G. R. Driver, CML, 113; J. Aistleitner, Die Mythologischen und Kultischen Texte aus Ras Schamra (=MKT), Bibliotheca Orientalis Hungaria 8 (Budapest, 1959), 22; J. Gray, The Legacy of Canaan, 2nd ed., (=LC2), SVT 5 (Leiden, 1965), 72; H. L. Ginsberg, ANET3, 141a; J. C. de Moor, The Seasonal Pattern in the Ugaritic Myth of Ba'lu, According to the Version of Ilimilku (=SP), AOAT 16 (Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1971), 226; P. J. van Zijl, Baal: A Study of Texts in Connection with Baal in the Ugaritic Epics (=Baal), AOAT 10 (Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1972), 213-17.
2 See De Moor, SP, 227-28: "Because it is likely that shr mt balances bn 'atrt, rbm and dkym, I assume that shr is in the plural construct state." He argues that the shr mt 'the Dust colored of Motu' are a mythological description of the sirocco-winds with their whirling dust-veils, marking the period of Ba'lu's return from the netherworld.
3 See H. Donner, "Ugaritismen in der Psalmenforschung," ZAW 79 (1967), 346-50.
4 See H. Gese, Die Religionen Altsyriens, Altarabiens und der Mandaer (=RAAM), Die Religionen der Menschheit (Stuttgart, 1970), 10/2:78-80, especially 79.
5 Though the traditional translation "Virgin" is retained, we do not regard 'Anatu as a virgo intacta. The epithet refers to the perennial youth of the goddess and possibly the fact that she never brought forth offspring. Compare A. van Selms, Marriage and Family Life in Ugaritic Literature, Pretoria Oriental Series 1 (London, 1954), 69, 109: De Moor, SP, 97; "ba'al," TWAT 1, col. 714, accepted by Bergmann-Ringgren, "betulah," TWAT 1, col. 874.
6 The meaning hm 'behold!' has repeatedly been defended and accepted in the one glossary and disregarded in the other (compare Aistleicner, WUS3. no. 837 [with a question mark] and Driver, CML, 137. with Gordon. UT. §§ 12:3. 5; §19:773). while a number of instances of hm 'behold!' were recovered from the Old Testament: see J. H. Patton. Canaanite Parallels in the Book of Psalms (1944), 37: F. M. Cross and D. N. Freedman, "The Blessing of Moses." JBL 67 (1948) 195; T. F. McDaniel. "Philological Studies in Lamentations I," Biblica 49 (1968), 33f.; and the list of M. Dahood. Psalms III, Anchor Bible 17a (New York. 1970). 400. Because of the etymological relation between Ugar. hm (with a dialectal variant 'im, PRU 2, no. 20:8) and hn and Heb. 'im and hen/hinneh (see Baumgartner, HAL 58, 241f. and C. J. Labuschagne. "The Particles hen and hinneh," OTS 18 [1973]. 3. n. 4), a connotation hm, behold!' for current hm 'if, either ... or' cannot be precluded beforehand. It would parallel the rare conditional usage of Heb. hen/hinneh beside its normal usage as an interjection. Nevertheless, I agree with J. C. de Moor. "Ugaritic hm-Never 'Behold·... UF 1 (969). 201f. (+Nachtrag. 221. CTA 4:11.24-26!: see also "Ugaritic Lexicography." Estratto da Studies on Semitic Lexicography, Quaderni di Semitistica 2 (1973), 89) that the existence of Ugar, hm 'behold!' cannot be demonstrated sufficiently and might still be doubted, not to mention the examples wrested from the Old Testament. See also C. van Leeuwen, "Die Partikel 'im." OTS 18 (1973), 15.
7 Compare the expression 'ab bn 'il 'the father of the gods': CTA 32:25, 33 (with parallels): Gese, RAAM, 97.
8 Perhaps the epithet 'um 'ilm (PRU 2, no. 2:43) also refers to 'Atiratu; cf. Gese. RAAM, 150; de Moor, ''a'serah.'' TWAT 1. col. 474.
9 Though the arrangement of CTA 2 before CTA 3-6 is generally accepted, it is not without problems. De Moor, SP, 36-40, argues for a sequence CTA 3-1-2, following F. Ltokkegaard, "The House of Baal," Ac.Or. 22 (1959). 14-15. n. 8: A. van Selms. "Yammu's Deenthronement by Baal." UF 2 (1970), 251, suggests taking CTA 2 (UT 129, 137, 68) as a separate entity; see also the critical remarks of A. Caquot, "La divinite solaire ougaritique," Syria 36 (1959). 100; Gese, RAAM, 52,78-80; M. J. Mulder, "Hat man in Ugarit die Sonnewende begangen?" UF 4 (1972). 81 f.
10 It is attractive to correct MT 'addir mimmisbere-yam (see the apparatus in BHK3, BHS (11)) but not necessary: see C. Brockelmann, Hebraische Syntax (Neukirchen, 1956), 58: H. -J. Kraus, Psalmen 2, BKAT 15/2, 3rd ed. (Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1966), 646.
11 With regard to Ps. 18:5 heble-mawet, most scholars accept 2 Sam. 22:5 as the lectio arduor and consequently the correct reading, see BHS (11), apparatus.
12 Compare also Ps.18:17: 44:20: 69:2f.: 124:4: 144:7: Job 26:5f.; 38:16f: Ezek.26:19f.: 31:15: Amos 9:2: etc.
13 G. Fohrer, Geschichte der israelitischen Religion (Berlin, 1969), 176, 319 speaks of a common Semitic world-picture, best known from Babylonian-Akkadian sources: cf. B. Meissner, Babylonien und Assyrien (Heidelberg, 1925), 2:107f., fig. 27; D. Michel, "Weltbild," BHH 3, col. 2161f.: W. Brede Kristensen, Godsdiensten in de oude wereld, Aula 294 (Utrecht/Antwerp, 1966), 7-14. To be sure, the biblical conception of the world is much less elaborate: see H. W. Hertzberg, "Weltbild," RGG3 6, col. 1616: H. Schmid, "Totenreich," RGG3 6, col. 912; S. Schulz, "Unterwelt, Totenreieh," BHH 3, col. 2014f.: L. l. J. Stadelmann, The Hebrew Conception of the World, Analecta Biblica 39 (Rome, 1970).
14 See H. Bauer and P. Leander, Historische Grammatik der hebraischen Sprache (Hildesheim, 19652), §72h'.
15 See app. BHS (11).
16 Compare D-stem sabar in Ps. 34:21: Isa. 38:13: Lam. 3:4: Ps. 89:11 with Ps. 74:13 and dakka'// nisbar, in Ps. 34: 19.
17 See also M. Dahood, Psalms 11, Anchor Bible 17 (New York, 1968), 341, who sees an analogy between Ugar. hd//hdd and Heb. hedad 'noise, roar'; also dkym 'Pounder' as an epithet of Ba'lu beside Heb. dokyam.
8 The originally adopted reading dwkw (ed. Millar Burrows; cf. also P. Wernberg-Moller, "Waw and Yod in the Rule of the Community," RdQ 2 [1960], 231f., contra idem, The Manual of Discipline [Leiden, 1957], 40) may be dwky, as seems to be supported by 4Qsa; cf. J. T. Milik, RB 67 (960), 413. A majority of scholars connect dwky/w with a root dkh 'to be pure' referring to Aram. deku, (see e.g., Targum to Lev. 12:4f.) and Syr. dukaya (cf. Payne Smith, Thesaurus Syriacus 1 :col. 895); cf. Wernberg-Moller, Manual, 25, 64, n. 27; J. Bowman, RdQ 1 (1958), 81; Wernberg-Moller, RdQ (1960), 231 f.; J. Maier, Die Texte vom Toten Meer (Basel, 1960), 1:25; 2: 17f.; J. Carmignac and P. Guilbert, Les Textes de Qumran I (Paris, 1961), 30; E. Lohse, Die Texte aus Qumran (Darmstadt. 1971), 11. In my opinion, however, this interpretation overlooks (1) the use of the current Hebrew zakah N-stem in the context (IQS 1:4) and (2) a possible influence of Ps. 93 on the choice of words. In favor of dwky from a root dkh (eventually d(w)k) 'to crush', see W. H. Brownlee, The Dead Sea Manual of Discipline, BASOR Supplementary Studies 10-12 (New Haven, 1951), 13. n. 17 with reference to Ps. 93:3; J. T. Milik, "Manuale Disciplinae (textus integri versio)," Verbum Domini 29 (1951), 131; H. Bardke, Die Handschriftfunde vom Toten Meer (Berlin, 19532); P. Boccacio and G. Berarde, srk hyhd Regula Unionis seu Manuale Disciplinae (Fano, 1953), s.l.; G. Molin, Die Sohne des Lichtes (Vienna/Munich, 1954). 21. As a possibility it is accepted by Baumgartner, HAL, 212b; S. H. Siedl, Qumran. Eine Monchgemeinde im Alten Bund, Studie uber Serek Ha-yahad (1963), 303f.
19 Probably derived from yadah/nadah 'to throw, to remove', cognate to Akk. nadu; Ethiop. wadaya and Ugar. ndy/ydy; cf. the construct state niddat dotah 'excretion of her menstruation- blood' in Lev. 12:2 and niddat tum'atah 'excretion of her impurity' in Lev. 18:19 with Akk. nid ru'ti 'Speichelfluss'; see AHw., 786b nidu(m) no. 3,706a nadu(m) III, no. 2a.
20 Cf. Herdner, CTA, 1:41. In CTA 6:VA we follow Virolleaud's yms'i after examination of the photograph and copy. The reading shrmt suggested by the copy is very uncertain now; see Herdner, CTA, 1:41, n. 8. especially concerning mt.
21 With regard to the much-discussed problems of this seven year period we subscribe to the short investigation of A. Kapelrud, "The Number Seven in Ugaritic Texts," VT 18 (1968), 494-99; see also Gese, RAAM, 78f.; De Moor, SP, 32f.
22 Cf. Edzard, Worterbuch der Mythologie, 62, 67, 88; De Moor, SP, 232; A. Draffkorn Kilmer, "How Was Queen Ereshkigal Tricked ... ?" UF 3 (1971), 302, pointing to the Sumerian and Akkadian story of, respectively, Inanna's and Ishtar's descent to the netherworld; cf. especially the word ipti/eru(m) 'ransom, substitute', according to the Assur-recension; cf. AHw., 385b; Borger, BAL 3:117.
23 Root sp'u 'to feed' and not 'to eat' (against Gordon, UT, § 19:1789; Aistleitner, WUS3, no. 1943, etc.) as is suggested by Heb. mispo' 'fodder'; M. Heb. sapah/'; J. Aram. sepa' 'to reach, to serve food'. The forms 'ispi' (CTA 5:1.5) and yspi' (CTA 22:B.I0) lead to the conclusion that 'isp'a is a cohortative and that the 'i of the other forms must be explained as a thematic vowel (against Gordon, UT, §9:9: Aistleitner, WUS3, no. 1943; idem, UGU, 58; E. Hammershaimb, Das Verbum im Dialekt von Ras Shamra [Copenhagen, 1941], 168; H. Donner, ZAW 79 [1967], 341, etc.). I subscribe to the view of De Moor, SP, 233 (with references) in assuming forms of an N-stem 'to feed oneself, to eat', though in this case, as in Hebrew (see Bauer-Leander, Historische Grammatik, § 44f.), the phonetic shift 'a >'i/e in the first syllable must be assumed.
24 Cf. De Moor, SP, 232f.; we take 'isp'a as an asyndetic relative sentence; cf. Gordon, UT,§13:67. Cf. also CTA 6:1.45f. tn (46) 'ahd. b. bnk (.) 'amlkn "Give one of your sons that I may make him king!"
25 Cf. De Moor, SP, 226.
26 bn 'atrt//rbm corresponding to standard bn 'atrt//'ilm makes a singular interpretation of rbm very doubtful; cf. also the expression 'ilm rbm in PRU 2, no. 90:1f.; Ugaritica V, ch. 3, no. 6:1f. Nevertheless, rbm may be a special hint to the really powerful antagonists Yammu and Motu; cf. e.g., mdd 'il ym//nbr 'jl rbm (CTA 3:D,35f.) "the beloved of 'Ilu, Yammu//the mighty rivers of 'Ilu"; note the OT notions mayim rabbim (Ps. 93:4) and me tehom rabbah//yam (Isa. 51 :10).
27 Cf. R. T. O'Callaghan, "The Word ktp in Ugaritic and Egypto-Canaanite Mythology," Orientalia 21 (1952), 27-46; Gray, LC2, 72; De Moor, SP, 135.
28 About the double aspect of the weapon, cf. Gray, LC2, 26, n. 6, 72; O. Kaiser, Die mythologische Bedeutung des Meeres in Agypten, Ugarit und Israel, BZAW 78, 2nd ed. (Berlin, 1962), 69, n. 278; De Moor, SP, 135. Kaiser and De Moor propose in CTA 2:IV.11, 19, a translation 'Doppeltaxt, doubleheaded axe', because of the dual form; however, the singular smd is also used (CTA 2 :IV.15, 23), being the same weapon, The dual ending can probably be explained as superfluous, added after a word with a dual aspect; cf. Heb. kepel beside kiplayim in Isa, 40:2. smd, which usually has the meaning 'yoke', in this context means a sort of mace or axe with a double-headed top or double axe-blade. There is some iconographical evidence for the double-headed axe from the Syrian area; cf. the "Dieu combattant," described by A. Parrot, "Acquisitions et Inedits du Musee de Louvre," Syria 29 (1951), 51-53; and Jupiter Dolichenus, Gressmann, AOB2, no. 356; E. Will, "Reliefs dolicheniens de Khaltan (Kurd Dagh) conserves au musee d'Alep," Les Annales archeologiques de Syrie 1 (1951), 135-37, fig. 2.
29 The reading ymsh in Herdner, CTA, 1:41, n. 9 and CTA 3:E.9 is attractive but conjectural. We take yms 'i as an imperfect of a causative stem; see Gray, LC2, 72, n, 11; though a G-stem cannot be excluded; see Deut. 19: 5. Compare perhaps Job 37:13 (with deletion of the second 'im) 'im lesebet XX [e'arso//'im-lehesed yams'ehu "Either as a rod XX on his earth, either as mercy he brings it down." To be sure, the claim that ymsi' is a causative is a very shaky position inasmuch as the existence of an aphel beside the current saphel (S-stem) is a widely debated subject. Nevertheless, the variant form ymza' (CTA 12:1.36f.), which suggests that the verb ms/z has a yiqtal imperfect as in Hebrew, makes the explanation of ymsi' very difficult unless an aphel-form is assumed. Though the evidence is scanty, it need not be denied at all (cf. the inverse case of the exceptional S-stem in Hebrew; L. Wachter, ZAW 83 11971), 380-89); and further on the aphel in Ugaritic see Hammershaimb, Verbum, 25f., especially 28; M. Dahood, "Some Aphel Causatives in Ugaritic," Biblica 38 (1957), 62-73; A. Jirku, "Eine 'Af'el-Form im Ugaritischen?" AfO 18 (1957), 129f.; S. Moscati (ed.), An Introduction to the Comparative Grammar of the Semitic Languages, 2nd ed., (Wiesbaden, 1969),§16: 13; De Moor, Ugaritic Lexicography, 96f.
30 E. Lipinski, La Royaute de Yahwe dans la poesie et le culte de l'ancien Israel (Brussels, 1965), 99; S. and S. Rin, Aliloth ha-elim (Jerusalem, 1968), 228; Dahood, Psalms II, 341; and Gray, LC2, 72, n. 9, all consider it an epithet of Ba'lu; Van Zijl, Baal, 217, as an epithet of Yammu.
31 De Moor, SP. 227, following a suggestion of H. Bauer, OLZ 37 (l934), 243.
32 Cf. Baumgartner, HAL, 220; Jean-Hoftijzer, DISO, 60.
33 Cf. AHw., 162f., citing from a synonym-list daq-qu = se-eh-ru.
34 Cf. Heb. daqaq 'to pound' (Baumgartner, HAL, 220b); Akk. daqaqu D 'to cut small, mince' AHw., 162b); Ethiop. daqaqa 'to pound' (E. Littmann and M. Hoffner, Worterbucb der Tigre- Sprache [1962], 525). A semantic parallel could also be Hebrew dak (root dakak) 'oppressed, small folk(?)'.
35 Cf. Driver, CML, 112.
36 So far a grain of truth exists in the connection of Ugar. dkym with Ps. 93:3 dokyam as suggested by U. Cassuto, Tarbiz. 13 (1941-42), 212; Ginsberg, ANET3, 141a; Kraus, Psalmen 2, 650; but a direct equation would require Ugar. dkyhm; cf. also the critical remarks of Lipinski, La Royaute de Yahwe, 98f.: H. Donner, ZAW 79 (1967), 350.
37 Cf. Aistleitner, WUS3, no, 739; idem, MKT, 22, followed by F. Lokkegaard, "A Plea for El, the Bull, and Other Ugaritic Miscellanies," Studia Orientalia Ioanni Pedersen Dedicata (Copenhagen, 1953), 223; F. F. Hvidberg, Weeping and Laughter in the Old Testament (Leiden/Copenhagen, 1962), 38.
38 Cf. H. Donner, ZAW 79 (1968), 347; Van Zijl, Baal, 214.
39 Cf. also Akk. daku 'to kill, slay, beat'; AHw., 152: CAD D, 35f.
40 See Gordon, UT, § 9:42; cf. verb and nominal qtll-forms in Hebrew and J. Aramaic; Bauer-Leander, Historische Grammatik, 483; Gesenius-Kautsch (Cowley), Hebrew Grammar, § §55d, 84 VII; G. Dalman, Grammatik des judische-Palastinischen Aramaisch (Darmstadt, 1960), 165, which like the Arabic 9th and 11th conjugations are used of permanent and changing conditions, e.g., colors; cf. Heb. 'amal 'to be/become withered', sa 'an 'to be at rest', ra'an 'to be/become green'.
41 Cf. De Moor, SP, 227.
42 To all appearances, the forms thrr//shrrt could be interpreted as, respectively, 3rd plural fem. passive imperfect L-stem (Gordon, UT, § 9: 37) and 3rd plural fem. qtll-stem with the bird as subject.
43 An anthology:
(1) root shr: Heb. sahor 'white-yellow-red' (the lexica differ on the precise color); sohar (*suhru) n. m., 'red-whiteness' (cf. M. Noth, Die israelitischen Personennamen im Rahmen der gemeinsemitischen Namengebung [Hildesheim, 1966], 225); sahar n. 1. Ezek. 27:18 'desert(?)' (cf. however W. Zimmerli, Ezechiel 2, BKAT 13/2 (Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1969), 655 = es-sahra, NW of Damascus); Arab. sahara (11th conjugation) 'to become yellowish, reddish-white'; 'asharu 'yellowish red'; sahra' 'desert'; Syr. sehar 'to become reddish'; Akk. seru(?) 'steppe, desert'.
(2) root shh: Heb. sahah 'to be white, clear' (Lam. 4:7//zakah 'to be pure'); sahiah 'naked, bare (of a rock)'; sebibab 'naked, scorched land, desert' (Ps. 68:7); sabsabot 'desert' (Usa. 58: 11) sab (a) 'white, clear'; (b) 'blazing, glowing (heat: Isa. 18:4; wind: Jer. 4:11)'; J. Aram. sebab 'to be bright, polished'; sabseba' 'clear'; ~sibsuba' 'gloss, shine'; Syr. sab; 'to glow'; sabiba' 'shining'; Arab. sabsabamun 'bare plain, desolation'.
(3) root shy: Heb. sibeb 'parched'; J. Aram. sebi 'to thirst' (cf. also Jean-Hoftijzer, DISO, 144); sabwana, sabya' 'bareness, drought'; sabyuta' 'thirst'; Arab. saba: Ethiop. sabawa 'to be clear, cloudless (of the sky)'; Syr. saba 'cloudless sky, heat'. As a semantic parallel we point to Heb. bamar 'to burn, to become red (through tears, Job 16:16)'; Arab. bamara 'to roast, to scorch' in the 9th and 11th conjugations 'to be red'.
On the relatedness of roots sharing two strong consonants, see Gesenius-Kautsch (Cowley), Hebrew Grammar, §§ 30h, 1; other examples qasas and qasar II 'to cut off, short, to shorten'; qazaz and qazar 'to cut'.
44 Cf. De Moor, SP, 114.
45 Cf. P. L. Watson, Mot, the God of Death at Ugarit and in the Old Testament (Yale University Diss. 1970; Ann Arbor, 1971), 40, 79, cited by M. J. Mulder, UF 4 (1972), 82.
46 Cf. Akk. manitu ' (leichter) Wind, Brise' (AHw., 603a), as suggested by De Moor, SP, 172. Cf. Jer. 4: 11: ruah sah sepayim//bammidbar derek bat-ammi "A scorching wind from the bare places, from the desert (is) on the way to my people."
47 Adjectival qtll-froms in Hebrew are sometimes substantivized; cf. Isa. 37:29; Job 30:12; Bauer-Leander, Historische Grammatik, 483.
48 On the superlative force of mt/mawet, cf. S. Rin, "The MWT of Grandeur," VT 9 (1959), 324f.; D. W. Thomas, "Some Further Remarks on Unusual Ways of Expressing the Superlative in Hebrew," VT 18 (1968), 120-24; P. A. H. de Boer, "YHWH as Epithet Expressing the Superlative," VT 24 (974), 233f.
49 Cf. the sentence hm ks ymsk nhr "If Naharu, mixes the cup" (CTA 5:L21f.: Ugaritica V, ch. 3, no.4A:9f.). Presumably, Naharu as judge (tpt nhr) and river of death is related to the god of death, Motu: cf. W. F. Albright, "Zabul Yam and Thapit Nahar in the Combat between Baal and the Sea," JPOS 16 (1936), 19f.: Driver, CML, 12, n. 7: J. C. de Moor, "Studies in the New Alphabetic Texts from Ras Shamra," UF 1 (1969), 187.
50 'eres 'netherworld'?: cf. M. Dahood, "Hebrew-Ugaritic Lexicography I," Biblica 44 (1963), 297: Gray, LC2, 264: N.J. Tromp, Primitive Conceptions of Death and Netherworld in the OT, Biblica et Orientalia 21 (Rome, 1969), 7, 23f: De Moor, SP, 184.
51 Vocalize tnn Tunnanu with Ugaritica V. ch. 1 no. 137: 1.8' tu-un-na-nu. Both monsters are also
mentioned in CTA 3:D. 34-48.
52 Cf. Akk. taru 'to do something again' (just like Heb. sub in combination with another verb); J. Aram. tur 'to spy, to look out carefully (?)'.
53 We suggest to complete CTA 6:VI.32-35 with CTA 16:VI.22-24:
y[ttb. I'dh.] (33)b'l -- Let them [enthrone] Ba'lu [on his dais],
yttbn[n. lks'i] (34) mlkh -- enthrone [him on the chair] of his kingship,
ln/ht. lkht (35)drkth] -- on the (seat of the throne of his dominion.]
54 Cf. A. Caquot, Syria 36 (1959), 93-95; Gray, LC2, 71; De Moor, SP, 243f.; Mulder, UF 4 (1972), 86.
55 Cf. T. H. Gaster, Thespis (New York, 1950), 31; Caquot, Syria 36 (1959), 97f.; Fohrer, Geschichte der israelitischen Religion, 47; De Moor, SP, 243; Mulder, UF 4 (1972), 86.
56 According to the copy, the traces of CTA 6:V1.37 ]'n. hn[ are presumably to be completed [wy]'n. hn[. . .] "and he (Ba'lu?) answered: Behold ... "
57 We suggest to complete CTA 6: VI.41f.: ltstql (42) [ib]try "Please, go quickly to my roomy house!" The verb used is mostly found following lhkl· (CTA 3: B.17f.; CTA 17:11.25; CTA 19: 170). Ugar. tr may be cognate to Syr. tara 'space (of time and distance)', Heb. tur 'enclosure (of pillars)' (e.g. 1 Kgs. 7:2f.) and tirah 'encampment'. I am of the opinion that the first person pronominal suffix refers to Ba'lu. It seems that the victory of Ba'lu will be celebrated with a communal meal of the quick and the dead; compare for imagery CTA 22:B.
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:37 am

By Dennis Pardee, Professor of Northwest Semitic Philology
The Oriental Institute, and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
The University of Chicago



(This article originally appeared in The Oriental Institute News and Notes, No. 172, Winter 2002.)


Excavations have been going on at the site of Ras Shamra on the Northwest Syrian coast more or less steadily since 1929 and inscriptions have been discovered during nearly every campaign from the first to the most recent, which took place during May/June 2000. Except for some deep stratigraphic soundings, virtually all digging has concentrated on the uppermost levels of the tell, which date to the Late Bronze Age, and approximately one sixth of the surface has been uncovered. The soundings have revealed the site was first inhabited in the eighth millennium BC, and the possibilities for further excavation extend thus into the indefinite future.

The excavation team is French, known as the Mission de Ras Shamra. In 2000, the project became officially a joint Syrian-French enterprise. There has been a great deal of continuity owing to this single archaeological presence, and to the orderly handing down of the direction from one scholar to another (Claude F.-A. Schaeffer, Henri de Contenson, Jean Margueron, Marguerite Yon, and now Yves Calvet [France] and Bassam Jamous [Syria]). The current plans call for going below the Late Bronze Age levels, but choosing an area has not been easy because the latest remains are so well preserved - in order to see what lies under the stone foundations of a house these must be destroyed or at least disturbed. Ras Shamra is an important stop on any cultural tour of Syria, and the authorities are anxious that its educational and touristic value not be reduced.

From the inscriptions it was learned very early on that the tell covered the ruins of ancient Ugarit, known from contemporary documents to be an important city in the Late Bronze Age. More recently discovered texts from Mari, on the middle Euphrates, show Ugarit already to have been famous in the mid-eighteenth century BC. The international language of that time was Akkadian, the principal language of Mesopotamia, and that usage remained constant to the end of the Bronze Age. Hence many of the inscriptions from Ras Shamra were in Akkadian, which was used primarily for international dealings, though a significant portion of the internal administrative records were also in that language.


Of greater interest for West Semitists was the discovery of a new script and language, named Ugaritic after the city, which belongs to the great family of languages of Syria, Palestine, and Arabia (Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, Old South Arabian, and Phoenician). For the first time, scholars of these languages had not just a few scattered words datable to the second millennium BC, but texts in a language related to, but older than, the attested forms of any of these West Semitic languages. The script was immediately perceived as an oddity: it was cuneiform and inscribed on tablets, but it was unrelated to Mesopotamian cuneiform. Rapid decipherment showed that it represented an alphabetic system: the number of signs was only thirty, and the consonantal phonemes represented by these signs, only twenty-seven. An archaic phonetic system was revealed wherein still functioned several consonantal phonemes that have disappeared in Hebrew, Phoenician, and Aramaic Image >; only missing from a common reconstruction of early West Semitic were Image and Image .

The texts in Ugaritic cover a broad literary range: from myths to "laundry lists," from incantations to letters, from contracts to medical texts. On the negative side is the fact that most of the tablets are broken and the reconstruction of the culture, economy, and religion of the Ugaritians has for that reason been a long and painstaking one. Moreover, as G. R. Driver (among others!) used to say, dies diem docet, or in modern idiom "you learn something new every day." Hence the work of the pioneers has to be taken up again by following generations who have the benefit of hindsight.


This has been my primary role in the Mission de Ras Shamra. I first seriously practiced true epigraphy (the study of ancient "epigraphs," or inscriptions, with an emphasis on the decipherment and interpretation of these epigraphs) during the academic year 1980/81 thanks to a Fullbright Fellowship. My teaching duties were not heavy and I had a great deal of time to spend studying tablets in the museums of Damascus and Aleppo. I went to Syria naively expecting to find that my predecessors had read everything on all the tablets, but I soon discovered that there was much yet to be done. During that year, I collated some two hundred tablets, comparing the editions with the original and preparing my own (very primitive!) hand copies. I became a member of the Mission de Ras Shamra epigraphic team in the mid-1980s and have since devoted my efforts principally to republishing the Ugaritic texts according to literary genre. My first effort, full of mistakes in my turn, was a re-edition of the hippiatric texts, a genre of which the oldest versions are Ugaritic. These texts, only four in number, reflect empirical medicine practiced on horses, a practice and literary genre that continued until quite recently. The second project was a small group of texts, only nine in number, excavated in a single house in 1961 that showed a striking peculiarity: all contained mythological material but in forms that differed from the long mythological texts for which Ugarit is famous. The most striking is a brief story about the great god El becoming drunk at a feast and having to be carried home by his sons. This atypical myth is followed by a prose recipe for alcoholic collapse that features the first known connection between drunkenness and the "hair of the dog": "What is to be put on his forehead: hairs of a dog. And the head of the PQQ (a type of plant) and its shoot he is to drink mixed together with fresh olive oil." This group of texts I republished as Les textes para-mythologiques in 1985.

An intermediary project, a joint one with my French colleague Pierre Bordreuil, head of the epigraphic team for the Mission, was a catalogue of all inscribed objects from Ras Shamra (La trouvaille épigraphique de l'Ougarit, 1989). We actually touched and measured every inscribed object we could find (and a surprisingly small number were missing lo these many years and a World War later), which permitted us to provide in the catalogue the basic data regarding the physical properties of the item, the language/script, and the most basic publications. Because the publications of the various texts over the decades were widely scattered, an account of what text corresponded to what excavation number was necessary and has proved immensely useful for the members of the Mission - as well, we hope, as for our colleagues near and far who previously did not have these most basic data regarding the inscriptions at their fingertips.

The other two types of texts collated in 1980/81 were the letters and the ritual texts. Though the letters were my first interest and the project that I had in mind when the opportunity arose to work in Syria, for reasons associated with my teaching responsibilities in this university I settled on the ritual texts as my next publication project. There are over eighty texts that deal with the everyday cultic activities in the city of Ugarit. After the typical ups and downs associated with a thick manuscript, Les textes rituels appeared in February 2001 (though the imprint date is 2000), all 1,307 pages of it, including those bearing the hand copies and photographs.

Most of these texts are dry - and I mean dry - prescriptions of the sacrifices to be offered during a particular period of time, which may range from a single day or a part of a day to two months. For example, the beginning of RS 1.001, the very first text discovered at Ras Shamra reads: "A ewe as a Image -sacrifice; a dove, also as a Image-sacrifice; a ewe, also as Image -sacrifice; two kidneys and the liver (of?) a bull and a ram for El." It goes on like this for twenty-two lines.

It is clear that the Ugaritic cultic system was centered around bloody sacrifice (that is, the slaughter of animals in honor of a deity), that it went on continually but was particularly tied in with the phases of the moon (the festivals of the new moon and the full moon were the most important, but sacrificial activity also increased at the second and third quarters, i.e., at the beginning of the lunar "weeks"), and that a great number of deities figured in the Ugaritic pantheon (well over two hundred are known at present). From the mythological texts, we know that the Ugaritians had highly developed views of how the deities interrelated with each other and with humans. There is not, unfortunately, a clear overlap between the mythological texts and the ritual ones - other than in the fact that certain deities appear in both - that would allow us to see more clearly the ideology and theology behind the ritual acts so abundantly described. The basic sacrificial types appear to reflect a need to feed and to care for the divinities and to establish a form of communion with them. The Image sacrifice, for example, appears to reflect a cultic meal in which the offerer partook of the same meal as was offered to the divinity. This last term, cognate with Hebrew Image conventionally translated "peace offerings," opens a window on the interconnections between these West Semites of Northwest Syria and the better-known inhabitants of Canaan, the birthplace of the Jewish and Christian religions. Space does not permit a discussion here. Suffice it to say that there are long lists of both similarities and differences between Hebrew and Ugaritic religion and cult.


There are some texts included in this collection that go beyond the narrow bounds of the typical variety just cited. One, RS 1.002, the second tablet discovered at Ras Shamra in 1929, ventures into areas not even hinted at in the texts just described: mentioned there are such things as "sin," "anger," and "impatience." The burden of the rite, which has six sections divided into three for the men of Ugarit and three for the women, appears to be to foster national unity by erasing all sources of friction among the various elements of society. Specifically mentioned are the king and the queen, the men and the women who live within the walls of the city of Ugarit, and a whole series of other categories defined by ethnic, social, and geographical terms. At the end of each section, the sacrifice of a single animal is prescribed, the species being specific to the theme treated there. For example, the sacrifice of a donkey in each of the last two sections appears to underscore the theme of political rectitude announced in the first line of each of these sections.

One of the most interesting of the sacrificial texts is that of a funerary rite, probably for the next-to-the-last king of Ugarit, whose name was Niqmaddu, a name that reappears several times in this dynastic line. This king died some time during the last decade of the thirteenth century and, in the last lines of the text, blessings are called down on his successor, Ammurapi, and on the queen mother:

Well-being for Image , well-being for his house!
Well-being for Image , well-being for her house!
Well-being for Ugarit, well-being for her gates!

The particular interest of this text is that it goes far beyond the dryness of the standard sacrificial texts and the repetitiveness of RS 1.002 by its form of expression - it is in poetry rather than in prose - and by its subject matter - the shades of the dead king's ancestors are called up to participate in the ceremony and, once the ceremony is launched, the principal actor is the sun deity, who assumes the role of enabling the deceased king to join his ancestors. This is achieved by the sevenfold lowering of the king's body into the realm of the dead. I have hypothesized that this portion of the ceremony would have centered on a large pit that the archaeologists discovered situated between the two principal chambers of the royal tomb in the palace. Once this ceremonial lowering and raising, accompanied each time by a sacrifice, was completed, the mortal remains would have been laid to rest in one of the tombs.

Another type of inscription takes its interest from the object on which they are written: clay liver models representing the liver of an animal sacrificed in the rite known as hepatoscopy, observing the features of a liver as a means of divining the future. Each model reflects a specific case of consulting a divination priest and the purpose of the text was to express the question that was posed to the priest. The clearest of these reads: "(This liver model is) for when he was to procure the young man of the Alashian." Specialists in the markings on the model tell us that the result of this consultation was a "yes" answer, that is, that Image should proceed with his plan to acquire a new servant.

Alongside these texts that reflect the actual practice of divination are manuals or catalogues of previous results of previous divinatory consultations. One such tablet provides a long list of omens based on malformed animal fetuses, for example: "If it (the fetus of a sheep or goat) has no right ear, the enemy will devastate the land and will consume it." Another tablet lists omens associated with lunar phenomena, for example: "If the moon, when it rises, is red, there will be prosperity [during] that month."

The incantatory genre is very poorly attested at Ugarit. The first text was discovered at the neighboring site of Ras Ibn Hani in 1978, but its language was so difficult that its precise literary structure and character were not easy to determine. A more recent example, RS 92.2014, is clearly incantatory in nature. It reads:

(When) the unknown one calls you and begins foaming,
I, for my part, will call you.
I will shake bits of sacred wood,
So that the serpent not come up against you,
So that the scorpion not stand up under you.
The serpent will indeed not come up against you,
The scorpion will indeed not stand up under you!
In like manner, may the tormentors, the sorcerers not give ear to the word
of the evil man,
To the word of any man:
When it sounds forth in their mouth, on their lips,
May the sorcerers, the tormentors, then pour it to the earth.
For Urtenu, for his body, for his members.

The final ascription to a known personage, plausibly the last inhabitant of the house in which the tablet was found and a member of the queen's administration, permits the classification of the text as an incantation prepared by a "magician" to ward off Urtenu's enemies, both serpentine and human.

The work just described is a technical edition, with hand copies, photographs of tablets previously unpublished in photographic form, copious remarks both epigraphic and philological on each text, a structural analysis of each text, extensive indices laying out the data in these texts according to several categories (deity named, type of act, contents of offerings, time, and place), and an exhaustive concordance of all words attested. It is intended for scholars and students who know an ancient Semitic language well enough to work with the original Ugaritic.

In the next few months a very different book will appear, this time in English and intended for a much broader audience. It is published by the Society of Biblical Literature in the series Writings from the Ancient World, which is intended to gather together the most important collections of ancient Near Eastern texts. The format includes the text in the original language with accompanying translation into idiomatic English, some notes in lieu of commentary, and good indices. The inclusion of the original text makes these works of interest to students and scholars, while the English translation and notes open up their usefulness to anyone who reads English and is interested in the original texts upon which we base our views of the ancient world.

This version differs from the French edition in several respects. First, only relatively complete texts are included, those that permit a fairly continuous translation. Second, because of the nature of the French edition the texts were not arranged there by subject matter, but the insights gained in preparing that edition permitted such an arrangement in the English version. Third, the sacrificial texts are laid out according to the structure of the rite therein depicted, permitting the non-specialist to follow the progress of the liturgy more easily. Fourth, the commentary in the notes is much briefer and less technical; repetition is avoided by putting many explanations into a glossary. Fifth, this freeing up of space allowed for the inclusion of a broader range of texts, notably those of the "para-mythological" texts described above that have a reasonably clear link with ritual as practiced at Ugarit. This broader purview is reflected in the English title, Ritual and Cult at Ugarit.

Since earning his doctorate in this university in 1974, Dennis Pardee has been teaching the Northwest Semitic languages and literatures in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the Oriental Institute. In addition to his work in Ugaritic, he has published books and articles on Biblical Hebrew poetry and on Hebrew inscriptions.
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:41 am

by Wikipedia



Mesha Stele in the Louvre Museum

The Mesha Stele (popularized in the 19th century as the "Moabite Stone") is a black basalt stone bearing an inscription by the 9th century BC ruler Mesha of Moab.

The inscription was set up about 840 BC as a memorial of Mesha's victories over "Omri king of Israel" and his son, who had been "oppressing" Moab. It bears the earliest known reference to the sacred Hebrew name of God - YHWH - and is also notable as the most extensive inscription ever recovered that refers to ancient Israel (the "House of Omri"). French scholar André Lemaire has reconstructed a portion of line 31 of the stele as "House of David".[1]

The stone is 124 cm high and 71 cm wide and deep, and rounded at the top. It was discovered at the site of ancient Dibon (now Dhiban, Jordan), in August 1868, by Rev. F. A. Klein, a German missionary. Local villagers smashed the stone during a dispute over its ownership, but a squeeze (a papier-mâché impression) had been obtained by Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau, and most of the fragments were later recovered and pieced together by him.[2] The squeeze (which has never been published) and the reassembled stele (which has been published in many books and encyclopedias) are now in the Louvre Museum.


The stele measures 44"x27"[3]. Its 34 lines describe:

1. How Moab was oppressed by "Omri King of Israel"", as the result of the anger of the god Chemosh
2. Mesha's victories over Omri's son (not named) and the men of Gad at Ataroth, and at Nebo and Jehaz;
3. His building projects, restoring the fortifications of his strong places and building a palace and reservoirs for water; and
4. His wars against the Horonaim.


The inscription has strong consistency with the historical events recorded in the Bible. The events, names, and places mentioned in the Mesha Stele correspond to those mentioned in the Bible. For example, Mesha is recorded as the King of Moab in 2 Kings 3:4: “Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and he had to deliver to the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams.”[4] Kemosh is mentioned in numerous places in the Bible as the national god of Moab (1 Kings 11:33, Numbers 21:29 etc...).[5] The reign of Omri, King of Israel, is chronicled in 1 Kings 16[6], and the inscription records many places and territories (Nebo, Gad, ect...) that also appear in the Bible.[7] Finally, 2 Kings 3 recounts a revolt by Mesha against Israel, to which Israel responded by allying with Judah and Edom to suppress the revolt:

“4Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and he had to deliver to the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. 5But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6So King Jehoram marched out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel. 7And he went and sent word to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, "The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to battle against Moab?" And he said, "I will go. I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses." 8Then he said, "By which way shall we march?" Jehoram answered, "By the way of the wilderness of Edom." 9So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom…26When the king of Moab saw that the battle was going against him, he took with him 700 swordsmen to break through, opposite the king of Edom, but they could not. 27Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.”[8]

Some scholars have argued that an inconsistency exists between the Mesha Stele and the Bible regarding the timing of the revolt.[9] The argument rests upon the assumption that the following section of the inscription necessarily refers to Omri’s son Ahab: “Omri was the king of Israel, and he oppressed Moab for many days, for Kemosh was angry with his land. And his son replaced him; and he said, "I will also oppress Moab"…And Omri took possession of the whole land of Madaba; and he lived there in his days and half the days of his son: forty years: And Kemosh restored it in my days”. In other words, these scholars argue that the inscription indicates that Mesha’s revolt occurred during the reign of Omri’s son Ahab. Since the Bible speaks of the revolt taking place during Jehoram’s reign (Omri’s grandson), these scholars have argued that these two accounts are inconsistent.

However, as other scholars have pointed out, the inscription need not necessarily refer to Omri’s son Ahab.[10] In modern English, the word “son” typically refers to a male child in relation to his parents. In the ancient Near East, however, the word was commonly used to mean male descendent.[11] Consequently, “son of Omri” was a common designation for any male descendent of Omri and would have been used to refer to Jehoram. Assuming that “son” means “descendent,” an interpretation consistent with the common use of language in the ancient Near East, the Mesha Stele and the Bible are consistent.

Reconstructions of [D]VDH at line 31 and line 12

In 1994, after examining both the Mesha Stele and the paper squeeze in the Louvre Museum, the French scholar André Lemaire reported that line 31 of the Mesha Stele bears the phrase "the house of David" (in Biblical Archaeology Review [May/June 1994], pp. 30-37). Lemaire had to supply one destroyed letter, the first "D" in [D]VDH, "of [D]avid," to decode the wording. The complete sentence in the latter part of line 31 would then read, "As for Horonen, there lived in it the house of [D]avid," וחורננ. ישב. בה. בת[ד]וד. (Square brackets [ ] enclose letters or words supplied where letters were destroyed or were on fragments that are still missing.) Most scholars find that no other letter supplied there yields a reading that makes sense. After one full year, only one scholar, Baruch Margalit, attempted to supply a different letter: "m," along with several other letters in places after that, giving the reading: "Now Horoneyn was occupied at the en[d] of [my pre]decessor['s reign] by [Edom]ites." (Baruch Margalit, "Studies in NWSemitic Inscriptions," Ugarit-Forschungen 26, p. 275). Margalit's reading has not attracted any significant support in scholarly publications by 2006, although in 2001 another French scholar, Pierre Bordreuil, reported (in an essay in French) that he and a few other scholars could not confirm Lemaire's reading.[12]

If Lemaire is right, there are now two early references to David's dynasty, one in the Mesha Stele (mid-9th century) and the other in the Tel Dan Stele (mid-9th to mid-8th century).[13].

In 1998, another scholar, Anson Rainey, translated a puzzling two-word phrase in line 12 of the Mesha Stele, אראל. דודה, as "its Davidic altar-hearth".[14]

The identification of David in the Mesha stele remains controversial. This controversy stems partly from the fragmentary state of line 31 and partly from a tendency since the 1990s, largely among European scholars, to question or dismiss the historical reliability of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). In Europe, P. R. Davies, Thomas L. Thompson, and Niels P. Lemche show a strong tendency to reject biblical historicity, while André Lemaire, K. A. Kitchen, Jens Bruun Kofoed, and other European scholars are exceptions. Many scholars lean in one direction or the other but actually occupy the middle ground. The "Arabian Judah" school of Old Testament historical interpretation (Kamal Salibi) regard the Mesha stele as evidence that Omri's Kingdom of Israel was in northern Hijaz controlling trade routes including the important terminus of Taima.[citation needed] In general, North American and Israeli scholars tend to be more willing to accept the identification of the biblical King David in the Mesha stele, especially because the phrase that is usually translated "house of David," is clearly legible in the Tel Dan stele (there this phrase in line 9 appears to parallel "king of Israel" in the preceding line). The controversy over whether ancient inscriptions confirm the existence of the Biblical King David usually focuses less on the Mesha stele and more on the Tel Dan stele.


The text in Moabite, transcribed into modern Hebrew letters:

1. אנכ. משע. בנ. כמש.. . מלכ. מאב. הד
2. יבני | אבי. מלכ. על. מאב. שלשנ. שת. ואנכ. מלכ
3. תי. אחר. אבי | ואעש. הבמת. זאת. לכמש. בקרחה | ב[נס. י]
4. שע. כי. השעני. מכל. המלכנ. וכי. הראני. בכל. שנאי | עמר
5. י. מלכ. ישראל. ויענו. את. מאב. ימנ. רבן. כי. יאנפ. כמש. באר
6. צה | ויחלפה. בנה. ויאמר. גמ. הא. אענו. את. מאב | בימי. אמר. כ[...]
7. וארא. בה. ובבתה | וישראל. אבד. אבד. עלמ. וירש. עמרי. את א[ר]
8. צ. מהדבא | וישב. בה. ימה. וחצי. ימי. בנה. ארבענ. שת. ויש
9. בה. כמש. בימי | ואבנ. את. בעלמענ. ואעש. בה. האשוח. ואבנ
10. את. קריתנ | ואש. גד. ישב. בארצ. עטרת. מעלמ. ויבנ. לה. מלכ. י
11. שראל. את. עטרת | ואלתחמ. בקר. ואחזה | ואהרג. את. כל. העמ. [מ]
12. הקר. רית. לכמש. ולמאב | ואשב. משמ. את. אראל. דודה. ואס
13. חבה. לפני. כמש. בקרית | ואשב. בה. את. אש. שרנ. ואת. אש
14. מחרת | ויאמר. לי. כמש. לכ. אחז. את. נבה. על. ישראל | וא
15. הלכ. הללה. ואלתחמ. בה. מבקע. השחרת. עד. הצהרמ | ואח
16. זה. ואהרג. כלה. שבעת. אלפנ. גברנ. ו[גר]נ | וגברת. וגר
17. ת. ורחמת | כי. לעשתר. כמש. החרמתה | ואקח. משמ. א[ת. כ]
18. לי. יהוה. ואסחב. המ. לפני. כמש | ומלכ. ישראל. בנה. את
19. יהצ. וישב. בה. בהלתחמה. בי | ויגרשה. כמש. מפני | ו
20. אקח. ממאב. מאתנ. אש. כל. רשה | ואשאה. ביהצ. ואחזה.
21. לספת. על. דיבנ | אנכ. בנתי. קרחה. חמת. היערנ. וחמת
22. העפל | ואנכ. בנתי. שעריה. ואנכ. בנתי. מגדלתה | וא
23. נכ. בנתי. בת. מלכ. ואנכ. עשתי. כלאי. האש[וח למי]נ. בקרב
24. הקר | ובר. אנ. בקרב. הקר. בקרחה. ואמר. לכל. העמ. עשו. ל
25. כמ. אש. בר. בביתה | ואנכ. כרתי. המכרתת. לקרחה. באסר
26. [י]. ישראל | אנכ. בנתי. ערער. ואנכ. עשתי. המסלת. בארננ.
27. אנכ. בנתי. בת. במת. כי. הרס. הא | אנכ. בנתי. בצר. כי. עינ
28. ----- ש. דיבנ. חמשנ. כי. כל. דיבנ. משמעת | ואנכ. מלכ
29. ת[י] ----- מאת. בקרנ. אשר. יספתי. על. הארצ | ואנכ. בנת
30. [י. את. מה]דבא. ובת. דבלתנ | ובת. בעלמענ. ואשא. שמ. את. [...]
31. --------- צאנ. הארצ | וחורננ. ישב. בה. ב
32. --------- אמר. לי. כמש. רד. הלתחמ. בחורננ | וארד
33. ---------[ויש]בה. כמש. בימי. ועל[...]. משמ. עש
34. -------------- שת. שדק | וא


In the original text some words run on from one line to the next. Where possible, this translation reflects this writing. Square brackets indicate reconstructed text, and dots represent missing and unreconstructed or disputed portions.

1. I am Mesha, son of KMSYT (Kemosh[-yat]), the king of Moab, the Di-
2. -bonite. My father was king of Moab thirty years, and I reign-
3. -ed after my father. And I built this high-place for Kemosh in QRH ("the citadel"), a high place of [sal-]
4. -vation because he saved me from all the kings (or "all the attackers"), and because let me be victorious over all my adversaries. Omr-
5. -i was king of Israel and he oppressed Moab for many days because Kemosh was angry with his
6. land. And his son replaced him; and he also said, "I will oppress Moab". In my days he spoke thus.
7. But I was victorious over him and his house. And Israel suffered everlasting destruction, And Omri had conquered the lan-
8. -d of Madaba, and he dwelt there during his reign and half the reign of his son, forty years. But Kemosh
9. returned it in my days. So I [re]built Baal Meon, and I the water reservoir in it. And I bu[ilt]
10. Qiryaten. The man of Gad had dwelt in Ataroth from of old; and the king of Israel
11. built Ataroth for him. But I fought against the city and took it. And I slew all the people [and]
12. the city became the property of Kemosh and Moab. And I carried from there the altar for its DVDH ("its Davidic altar"?) and I
13. dragged it before Kemosh in Qerioit, and I settled in it men of Sharon m[en]
14.of Maharit. And Kemosh said to me, "Go! Seize Nebo against Israel." so I
15. proceeded by night and fought with it from the crack of dawn to midday, and I to-
16. -ok it and I slew all of them: seven thousand men and boys, and women and gi-
17. and maidens because I had dedicated it to Ashtar Kemosh I took [the ves-]
18. -sels of YHWH, and I dragged them before Kemosh. And the king of Israel had built
19.Yahaz, and he dwelt in it while he was fighting with me, but Kemosh drove him out before me. so
20. I took from Moab two hundred men, all his captains. And I brought them to Yahaz, And I seized it order to add (it) to Dibon. I (myself) have built the 'citadel', 'the wall(s) of the forest' and the wall
22. of the 'acropolis'. And I built its gates; And I built its towers. And
23. I built a royal palace; and I made the ramparts for the reservo[ir for] water in the mid-
24. -st of the city. But there was no cistern in the midst of the city, in the 'citadel,' so I said to all the people, "Make [for]
25.yourselves each man a cistern in his house". And I hewed the shaft for the 'citadel' with prisoner-
26. -s of Israel. I built Aroer, and I made the highway in the Arnon.
27. I built Beth-Bamot, because it was in ruins. I built Bezer, because it was
28. a ruin [with] the armed men of Dibon because all of Dibon was under orders and I ru-
29. -led [ove]r [the] hundreds in the towns which I have annexed to the land. And I bui-
30. -lt Medeba and Beth-Diblaten and Beth-Baal-Meon, and I carried there [my herdsmen]
31. [to herd] the small cattle of the land, and Horonain, in it dwelt ...
32. [and] Kemosh [s]aid to me, "Go down, fight against Horonain". And I went down [and I fou-
33. -ght with the city and I took it and] Kemosh [re]turned it in my days. Then I went up from there te[n...]
34. [...a high] place of justice and I [...]



1. Biblical Archaeology Review [May/June 1994], pp. 30–37
2. [1]
3. 1920 World Book, Volume VI, page 3867
4. [2]
6. [4]
7. Driver, Samuel. (1890), Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel, [5]
8. [6]
9. Driver, Samuel. (1890), Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel, [7]
10. Davis, John. (1891), The Moabite Stone and the Hebrew Records; see also [8]
11. Ibid
12. Pierre Bordreuil, "A propos de l'inscription de Mesha': deux notes," in P. M. Michele Daviau, John W. Wevers and Michael Weigl [Eds.], The World of the Aramaeans III, pp. 158-167, especially pp. 162-163 [Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001]
13. Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, _Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E._, Academia Biblica series, no. 12 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004), pp. 265-277
14. (Anson F. Rainey, "Mesha and Syntax," in _The Land That I Will Show You_, edited by J. Andrew Dearman and M. Patrick Graham, Supplement Series, no. 343 [Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001], pp. 300-306).
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Re: Bible, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:44 am

by Wikipedia



The Tel Dan Stele

[Excessive references to Bible believers deleted]

The Tel Dan Stele is a black basalt stele discovered during excavations at Tel Dan in northern Israel. It was erected by an Aramaean king and contains an Aramaic inscription commemorating victories over local ancient peoples including "Israel" and the "House of David." Its author is unknown, but may be a king of Damascus, Hazael or one of his sons.

The inscription generated excitement among biblical scholars and biblical archaeologists because the letters 'ביתדוד' are identical to the Hebrew for "house of David." If these letters refer to the Davidic line then this is the first time the name "David" has been recognized at any archaeological site. The scholarly consensus among archaeologists and epigraphers is that the fragment is an authentic reference to the Biblical King David.[1]

Like the Mesha stele, the Tel Dan Stele seems typical of a memorial intended as a sort of military propaganda, which boasts of Hazael's or his son's victories. Some epigraphers think that the phrase "house of David" also appears in a partly broken line in the Mesha stele.


Although the name of the author of the stele does not seem to appear on the available fragments, it is most likely a king of neighboring Damascus. Language, time, and location make it plausible that the author was Hazael or his son, Bar Hadad II/III, who were kings of Damascus and enemies of the kingdom of Israel.


The stele was discovered at Tel Dan, previously named Tell el-Qadi, a mound where a city once stood at the northern tip of Israel.

Fragment A was discovered in 1993, and fragments B1 and B2, which fit together, were discovered in 1994. In the broken part of the stone below the smooth writing surface, there is a possible "internal" fit between fragment A and the assembled fragments B1/B2, but it is uncertain and disputed. If the fit is correct, then the pieces were originally side by side.


The inscription has been dated to the 9th or 8th centuries BCE. The 8th-century limit is determined by a destruction layer identified with a well-documented Assyrian conquest in 733/732 BCE. Because that destruction layer was above the layer in which the stele fragments were found, it is clear that it took place after the stele had been erected, then broken into pieces which were later used in a construction project at Tel Dan, presumably by Hebrew builders. It is difficult to discern how long before that Assyrian conquest these earlier events took place.

George Athas attempted to date the inscription to the 8th century, and credit it to Bar Hadad rather than his father Hazael.[2] However, the archaeological context does not support this conclusion.[3] The excavators dated the inscription to the mid-9th century, and the peak of Hazael’s conquests, but Suriano attributed the stele to a point late in Hazael’s career based on apologetic motifs that suggest the inscription was made at the time his son (Bar Hadad) was appointed heir and successor.[4]

Aramaic text

1. [ ]א]מר.ע[ ]וגזר ]

2. [ ]אבי.יסק[.עלוה.בה]תלחמה.בא--- ]

3. וישכב.אבי.יהך.אל[.אבהו]ה.ויעל.מלכי[ יש]

4.ראל.קדם.בארק.אבי[.ו]יהלך.הדד[.]א[יתי ]

5.אנה.ויהך.הדד.קדמי[.ו]אפק.מן.שבע[ת ---]

6. י.מלכי.ואקתל.מל[כן.שב]ען.אסרי.א[לפי.ר]

7. כב.ואלפי.פרש.[קתלת.אית.יהו]רם.בר[אחאב.]

8.מלך.ישראל.וקתל[ת.אית.אחז]יהו.בר[יהורם.מל ]

9. ך.ביתדוד.ואשם.[אית.קרית.הם.חרבת.ואהפך.א]

10. ית.ארק.הם.ל[ישמן ]

11.אחרן.ולה[... ויהוא.מ ]

12.לך.על.יש[ראל... ואשם .]

13. מצר.ע[ל. ]


Following is a line-by-line translation that follows the editio princeps (Biran and Naveh). Missing text or text that is too damaged by erosion is represented by "[.....]"):

1'. [.....................].......[...................................] and cut [.........................]
2'. [.........] my father went up [against him when] he fought at[....]
3'. And my father lay down, he went to his [fathers]. And the king of I[s-]
4'. rael entered previously in my father's land. [And] Hadad made me king.
5'. And Hadad went in front of me, [and] I departed from [the] seven[.....]
6'. of my kingdom, and I slew [seve]nty kin[gs], who harnessed thou[sands of cha-]
7'. riots and thousands of horsemen (or: horses). [I killed Jeho]ram son of [Ahab]
8'. king of Israel, and I killed [Ahaz]iahu son of [Jehoram kin]g
9'. of the House of David. [?] And I set [their towns into ruins and turned]
10'. their land into [desolation........................]
11'. other ...[......................................................................... and Jehu ru-]
12'. led over Is[rael......................................................................and I laid]
13'. siege upon [............................................................]

Dispute over the phrase "House of David"

Due to the mention of both "Israel" and the "House of David", the Tel Dan Stele is often quoted as supporting evidence for the Bible. However, critics have suggested other readings of ביתדוד, usually based on the fact that the written form "DWD" can be rendered both as David and as Dod (Hebrew for "beloved") or related forms.[citation needed] In ancient Hebrew a dot was sometimes used to divide separate words. For example, the phrase "House of David" could be written as בית•דוד. The Aramean writer of the Tel Dan Stele, who is writing to commemorate a victory over the Hebrews, did not employ the Hebrew word divider for ביתדוד.

Views of Biblical scholars

Anson Rainey, defending the reading "House of David" stated that "a word divider between two components in such a construction is often omitted, especially if the combination is a well-established proper name."[citation needed]

Gary Rendsburg supports Rainey's position and stated that the phrase Bit ("house of") + X ("founder") is the Aramaean, Assyrian, and Babylonian way of referring to an Aramaean state. Rendsburg also stated, "[o]ne might even venture that the Assyrian designation Bit-Humri "house of Omri" for the kingdom of Israel reached Assyrian scribes through Aramaean mediation."

Philip Davies writes:

But let’s leave this wishful thinking and return to the critical six letters, BYTDWD, to see what they really might mean. Admittedly there are two verbal elements here, of which the first is beth, house. But the probability is that the second element completes a place-name, such as Beth Lehem (House of Bread) correct translation or Bethlehem (one word), as it is commonly written in Latin letters. Also a substantial minority believes that the correct reading and translation are, Bet Lachmu, (House of the God Lachmu) recognising a popular (and verified)local god. It seems intrinsically more likely that a place-name composed with beth would be written as one word, rather than a phrase meaning “House of David,” referring to the dynasty of David. Such a place name could be Beth-dod (the w serving as rudimentary vowel, a so-called mater lectionis; the same last three letters are consistently used to spell the last syllable of the Philistine city of Ashdod) or Bethdaud (with a slightly different vowel pronunciation). All these place-names are quite reasonable suggestions...There are other possibilities...For example, in a contemporaneous inscription, the famous Mesha stele or Moabite stone, the phrase ’R’L DWDH (‏אראל דודה‎) appears. The second word remains somewhat of a puzzle. Some scholars, though a minority, translate it “David” and regard it as the name of the founder of the ruling dynasty of Judah...But the final heh makes this meaning unlikely. The noun dawidum is also found in a cuneiform text from Mari (18th century B.C.E.), offering another possible clue, though the meaning of this term remains unclear. In the Bible DWD can mean “beloved” or “uncle,” and in one place (1 Samuel 2:14), it means “kettle.” So a number of ways of understanding DWD present themselves, most of them more plausible than translating “David.” [5]

Thomas L. Thompson has argued that, even if it could be shown that the terms "of the house of David" and "of the house of Omri" were used to describe the kings of Judah and Israel at that time, we should not conclude that they saw David and Omri as recent ancestors who had founded dynasties in the modern sense, other interpretations of the term "house of" in this context are possible.

Configuration controversy

George Athas proposes that the three extant fragments of the inscription have been placed in a wrong configuration (for the popular configuration, see the figure above). He argues that Fragment A (the largest) should be placed well above Fragments B1 and B2 (which fit together). He also suggests that ביתדוד is actually a reference to Jerusalem, arguing that it is the Aramaic equivalent of "City of David". He also provides evidence for the authenticity of the fragments (called into question by some, such as Russell Gmirkin), and downdates the inscription, proposing that the author is not Hazael, as is popularly touted, but rather his son Bar Hadad.

Authenticity controversy

Athas also provided evidence for the authenticity of the fragments, which were called into question by some, including Russell Gmirkin.

Minority views

A minority view is that DWD is the Hebrew rendering of Thoth (pronounced, according to the Ancient Greeks, as Toot - as in Tutmose), thus the expression might refer to a temple of Thoth. The Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen points out that there is no known temple of Thoth in the area.

Others believe that ביתדוד refers to an unknown geographic location.



1. 'On the "positivist" side of the controversy, regarding the authenticity of the inscription, we now have published opinions by most of the world's leading epigraphers (none of whom is a "biblicist" in Thompson's sense): the inscription means exactly what it says.' William Dever, 2004, 'What Did The Biblical Authors Know, And When Did They Know It?', pages 128-129
2. Athas, G., The Tel Dan Inscription: A Reappaisal and a New Interpretation, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supp 360; CIS 12 (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003).
3. See the reviews by William Schniedewind and Nadav Na’aman in ‘’Review of Biblical Literature’’[1]
4. Suriano, M., “The Apology of Hazael,” 163–176
5. Davies, P.R. 1994. “‘House of David’ Built on Sand: The Sins of the Biblical Maximizers.” Biblical Archaeology Review 20/4.
6. Kenneth Kitchen, 2003, 'On The Reliability Of The Old Testament', pages 452-453
7. William Dever, 2004, 'What Did The Biblical Authors Know, And When Did They Know It?', pages 128-129
[edit] Bibliography
Athas, George, The Tel Dan Inscription: A Reappaisal and a New Interpretation, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supp 360; CIS 12 (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003). ISBN 0-567-04043-7.
Biran, Avraham and Joseph Naveh, "An Aramaic Stele Fragment from Tel Dan," Israel Exploration Journal 43 (1993): 81-98.
Biran, Avraham and Joseph Naveh, "The Tel Dan Inscription: A New Fragment," Israel Exploration Journal 45 (1995): 1-18.
Davies, Philip R., “‘House of David’ Built on Sand: The Sins of the Biblical Maximizers.” Biblical Archaeology Review 20/4 (1994).
Mykytiuk, Lawrence J., Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200-539 B.C.E., SBL Academia Biblica Series 12 (Atlanta, Ga.: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004): 110-132 and 277. ISBN 1-58983-062-8.
Rainey, Anson F., "The 'House of David' and the House of the Deconstructionists," Biblical Archaeological Review, 20/6 (1994): 47.
Rendsburg, Gary A., "On the Writing ביתדוד in the Aramaic Inscription from Tel Dan," Israel Exploration Journal 45 (1995): 22-25.
Schniedewind, William M. (with Bruce Zuckerman), "A Possible Reconstruction of the Name of Hazael's Father in the Tel Dan Inscription," Israel Exploration Journal 51 (2001): 88-91.
Schniedewind, William M., "Tel Dan Stela: New Light on Aramaic and Jehu's Revolt." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 302 (1996): 75-90.
Suriano, Matthew J., “The Apology of Hazael: A Literary and Historical Analysis of the Tel Dan Inscription,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 66/3 (2007): 163-76.
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