Archives

Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus

Image result for ashurbanipal

 

 by

 Damien F. Mackey

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

 

  

Introduction

 

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

 

“Nebuchednezzar” of the Book of Daniel

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

 

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

 

 

Nebuchadnezzar or Nabonidus?

Mistaken Identities in the Book of Daniel

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

….

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

….

 

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

 

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

 

….

 

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

 

[End of quote]

 

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

 

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

I had then written:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

….

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

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

….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

….

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

And Belshazzar was not a king, they also say.

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

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

 

Ashurbanipal also apparently had a lions’ den.

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

 

….

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Why Choose Huldah?

 Related image

by

Damien F. Mackey

“Most biblical commentators are puzzled that King Josiah chose Huldah to read and interpret the newly found scroll since the prophets Jeremiah and Zephaniah were both active at the time, Jeremiah being the more prominent of the two male prophets. Traditional commentators reason, the male prophets have books included in the canon but Huldah doesn’t. Therefore, it is assumed, she must have not been as renowned as the men”.

Robin Cohn

 

Introduction

 

We read in two virtually identical accounts, in 2 Kings 22:14-20 and Chronicles 34:11-28, about the consultation of the prophetess Huldah in relation to the discovery of a scroll of the Book of the Law uncovered during a repairing of the Temple in the time of King Josiah.

 

Here is the narrative of it from 2 Kings 22:14-20:

 

So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.

And she said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read:

Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.

But to the king of Judah which sent you to enquire of the Lord, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, as touching the words which thou hast heard;

Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord.

Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.

 

That King Josiah would send five of his top officials to consult Huldah the prophetess is a testimony to her greatness and her oracular importance.

Bobby Valentine has not missed this point in his fine article, “Huldah Who? The Forgotten Ministry of a Lady Prophet”: http://stonedcampbelldisciple.com/2006/06/27/huldah-who-the-forgotten-ministry-of-a-lady-prophet/

 

In response to the discovery of the “book of the Law” Josiah is alarmed. But he is not foolhardy. He needs to know if this work is authentic . . . If it is “true.” What Josiah does next fits well with what we know from Assyrian parallels of Esarhaddon and Nabonidus. When the king receives an oracle or an omen he would “double-check” it with another “god.” Josiah has just received bad news (an omen!) and wants to know if it is really the word of the Lord. So he “double-checks” so to speak with the Prophet Huldah.

So Josiah sends five men to “inquire of Yahweh.” Not just any men but some of the, if not the, most important men in the nation. It might pay to reflect on who these men are for just a moment:

1) Hilkiah the High Priest. The highest spiritual leader in the country.

2) Ahikam son of Shaphan. The Shaphan family is important in Judah. Ahikam is father of Gedaliah who becomes governor (2 Kgs 25.22)

3) Abdon (nothing known of him)

4) Shaphan the Secretary. He is basically the secretary of state or chief of staff for the king.

5) Asiah the king’s attendant.

These men are important in ancient Judah both theologically and politically. We should not miss this fact. ….

[End of quote]

 

After learning of the scroll, Josiah requested the prophetess Huldah to verify that it was the word of God.

What?

Why choose Huldah, who appears to be otherwise unknown in the Scriptures?

And why a woman? Why not one of the male prophets?

 

Robin Cohn has written on this, in “Rabbi Huldah” (http://robincohn.net/rabbi-huldah/):

 

Most biblical commentators are puzzled that King Josiah chose Huldah to read and interpret the newly found scroll since the prophets Jeremiah and Zephaniah were both active at the time, Jeremiah being the more prominent of the two male prophets. Traditional commentators reason, the male prophets have books included in the canon but Huldah doesn’t. Therefore, it is assumed, she must have not been as renowned as the men. ….

 

Bobby Valentine goes even further, referring to St. Paul’s sanction against women (op. cit.):

 

….

Where to Begin?

I have long been fascinated by the enigmatic figure of Huldah. I discovered Huldah in 1988 in an “OT” Survey class reading through the Bible. We never actually discussed her and I am not sure we could have done so. But I never forgot her.  She has been a poltergeist floating in my mind for nearly 20 years! Here was this woman placing a stamp of authenticity on Scripture, interpreting it and exercising authority over men . . . all at the same time! I did not know what to do with her. Since then I have been involved in many discussions regarding women in Scripture. Invariably I am told a woman never exercised authority over men with God’s approval because Paul forbade it. I then ask, “What about Huldah?”

The response is almost (without exception) “Huldah Who?”

 

This article from Patheos also discusses prophetess Huldah in relation to the rðle of women (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2014/04/female-voice-and-the-prophetess-huldah/):

 

Female Voice and the Prophetess Huldah

 

April 11, 2014 ….

 

There has been a lot of talk lately about gender equality and whether women have real voices in the church vis a vis the all male priesthood. Of course, the standard position of church leaders is that women are equally valued and that their perspectives are given full and appropriate consideration given the divinely ordained channels of revelation to the regularly constituted authorities. But somehow this rhetoric that “women are equally valued and listened to” has not been able to allay the growing perception and opinion of many that women are unequal to men at both institutional and theological levels in [significant] ways.

 

So because of my interest in the Old Testament, I thought of another way of testing the church’s rhetoric about the place of women in the church. If the church claims that it values the voices and contributions of women on a par with men, how well does the church listen to the few voices of women that are already found in scripture and enjoy the authoritative seal of belonging to the standard works? Are THEY given full and appropriate consideration in our scriptural and doctrinal discussions? Admittedly, there are not many women figures in scripture and their roles are generally not as substantial as other male characters. But how we deal with these women and to what degree we remember their actions and contributions to scriptural history may tell us something about the place of women in our collective ecclesiastical consciousness.

 

A great example to consider is the prophetess Huldah. Do our Sunday School and church educational lessons do much remembering and memorializing of this key biblical figure? I recently watched the high quality film produced for church education in 2011 about Josiah and the Book of the Law and to my amazement the presentation of the story completely skips over the episode of Josiah’s consultation with Huldah. Most all of the major pieces of II Kings 22-23 are present, including Josiah’s childhood, the discovery of the scroll by Hilkiah, its delivery by Shaphan the scribe to the king, the idolatrous practices of the people of Judah under previous kings, Josiah’s repentance and institution of reform, and his death at Megiddo by the hands of Pharaoh Necho. But Huldah is nowhere to be found.

 

Why is this? What motivated completely removing Huldah the prophetess from the LDS redacted narrative of Josiah’s reforms? She is, after all, a critically important figure in the account and has more speech than any other character aside from Josiah in II Kings 22-23. When Josiah realizes that the people have gone astray after other gods and not followed the laws of the new found scroll of Torah, he instructs his servants to seek an oracle from Yahweh so that perhaps Yahweh’s anger would be averted. These servants then go to visit Huldah and she delivers a lengthy oracle that confirms the validity of the scroll of Torah, underscores Yahweh’s displeasure with the people, and promises Josiah that he will be blessed to die before Yahweh’s wrath breaks out in full (22:15-20).

 

One of the interesting things about Huldah’s oracle is how much it emphasizes that she is a direct representative of Yahweh. Uniquely, the prophetic introduction formula is repeated three times (“thus says the Lord,” vv. 15, 16, 18) and she speaks in first person as though the identification between her and the deity was seamless. In the broader Deuteronomistic narrative, Huldah is about as authoritative as it gets. ….

 

[End of quote]

 

That Huldah and her prophetic words can by no means be brushed aside, but must be taken very seriously indeed, is fully apparent from Bobby Valentine’s explanation of the structural significance of the Huldah narrative, a chiasm which “places [Huldah’s] work as the theological and structural center of the Josiah narrative”:

 

Setting of the Huldah Narrative

 

Huldah is extremely important to the history known as Joshua-Samuel-Kings and also Chronicles. Most of the names we think of when we hear the word “prophet” are not even mentioned by either of these histories. Jonah and Isaiah (“writing prophets”) are mentioned in Kings. Jeremiah is not, to my knowledge mentioned at all. In Chronicles, Isaiah is mentioned as is Jeremiah mentioned briefly as the author of a lament over Josiah (2 C 35.25) and in 2 C 36. 12, 21. He is never mentioned in connection with Josiah’s reform . . . But Huldah is given considerable space (comparatively) by both Kings and Chronicles.

 

As we shall see the Huldah narrative is central not only to the Josiah episode but to the entire structure of Chronicles (where I will spend most of my time). Here is a structural outline that highlights what I mean:

 

  1. Formulaic Introduction (34.1-2) B. Cultic Purification of Judah & Jerusalem (34.3-5) C. Cultic Purification of the North (34.6-7) D. Discovery of the Book (34.8-18) E. Prophecy of Huldah (34.19-32) D’ Implementation of the Book (34.29-32) C’ Cultic Purification of the North (34.33) B’ Celebration of the Passover (35.1-19) A’ Extended Formulaic Conclusion (35.20-36.1)

 

This structure, known as a chiasm (where the structure of the work forms a mirror), places [Huldah’s] work as the theological and structural center of the Josiah narrative. It stresses the authority of the prophetic word and scripture. The king and the people stand under the prophetic word.

 

 

Wicked Haman Un-Masked?

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

 

Prologue

 

The feast of Purim is when the Jewish people celebrate their deliverance by Queen Esther from the plot to destroy them by Haman. The name of the feast comes from the Hebrew word

 pur פּוּר, referring to the “lots” that Haman had cast to determine the day for their demise. It goes without saying that the Jewish people do not remember said Haman with any sort of affection. During Purim they will relish a pastry called “Haman’s ears” or Oznei Haman  (Hebrew: אוזני המן ), or “Hamantash” (in Yiddish  המן טאש).

 

Quite understandably Haman and his ten henchmen sons, determined to wipe out the Jews, are frequently likened to Adolf Hitler and the ill-fated Nuremberg ten. But did this biblical drama as recorded in the Book of Esther really occur historically?

Or was it what contemporary biblical critics like to refer to (regarding the books traditionally

considered to be historical) as “historical fiction”, or “didactic fiction”?

In other words, a pseudo-history with an important lesson – though not properly historical! An example of this sort of popular attitude has been provided by a Jewish blogger, when referring to “a great historian who claimed that the entire story of Purim is a myth”.

http://www.jewishhistory.org/the-purim-story2/ 

 

The Purim Story: The Rise of Haman

 

On the surface, the Purim story is pure narrative, a story like any other story. The execution [sic] of [Queen] Vashti and the rise and fall of Haman seem like the typical kinds of political intrigue that went on in the ancient world. Only at the end, when the plot has been spun out completely, do we … understand that it is the story of miraculous deliverance.

 

I once read an article by a great historian who claimed that the entire story of Purim is a myth. I was young and foolish then, so thinking I could somehow change his mind, I wrote him a letter.

 

“The Scroll of Esther is a historic book with names, dates, places, and eyewitnesses,” I wrote. “It has been kept alive by a people that is not noted for their naiveté or primitive beliefs, yet you discard it as a historic record. But when someone scribbles something on a cave that you can’t even decipher, that you consider history.”

 

He wrote me back and answered, “Your bias is showing.”

 

[Mackey’s comment: But good luck to this blogger who was not going to be put off so easily by the opinion of an “expert”]:

 

But really, he was just as biased. Like so many in the Western world, he refused to consider the Bible a legitimate record of man, even though all archaeology in the Middle East is based on the Bible. The archaeologists do their excavations according to the Bible’s instructions, and they find what they’re looking for. Nevertheless, the Bible is dismissed as legitimate history.

 

[End of blog quote]

 

However, whilst it is one thing to believe that the story of Esther is a real history, it is quite another thing to demonstrate this.

Who for instance, was Haman?

 

Haman’s Nationality

 

This is a far bigger problem than the traditional view might suggest. Though Scripture can present Haman variously as an “Amalekite”; an “Agagite” (MT); a “Bougaean” (Septuagint); and a “Macedonian” (AT) – and though the drama is considered to be a continuation of the long-running feud between the tribe of Benjamin (started by king Saul, but now continued by Mordecai) and the Amalekites (Agag thought to be an Amalekite name, cf. 1 Samuel 15:8) – the problem with this tradition is that King David had long ago wiped out the Amalekites.

 

“Bougaean” is quite a mystery, though Haman was certainly a ‘Boogey-Man’ for the Jews.

 

And “Macedonian” for Haman appears to be simply an historical anachronism.

 

Perhaps our only consolation is that we can discount “Persian” as being Haman’s nationality, since king Ahasuerus speaks of Haman as “an alien to the Persian blood” (Esther 16:10).

 

But what about a Jew? Surely we can immediately discount Jewish nationality also for Haman. After all, this foreigner – (himself a “king” according to Esther 14:10) – was the Adolf Hitler of the ancient world: a Jew hater!

 

{Though some suspect that Hitler himself may actually have had Jewish blood in his veins}.

 

Surely not Haman, however? No hint of Jewishness there!

 

But, wait a minute. Jewish legend itself is not entirely lacking in the view that Haman may in fact have been a Jew. Let us read what Louis Ginzberg (Legends of the Jews) had to say on this, as quoted by another Jewish writer (emphasis added):

 

Power struggle between Jews

 

Clever Queen Esther takes a chance and manages to create harmony.

 

EUGENE KAELLIS

 

Purim is based on the Book of Esther, the most esoteric book in the Hebrew Testament. …. Its hidden meaning can be uncovered only by combining a knowledge of Persian practices during the Babylonian Captivity, the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great, his Edict (sixth century BCE) and Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews which, despite its name, contains a great deal of relevant and credible history.

 

Using these sources, one can arrive at a plausible interpretation completely in accord with historically valid information. Esther, it turns out, describes an entirely intra-Jewish affair set in the Persian Empire, with the two major antagonists as factional leaders: Mordecai, whose followers advocate rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple, and Haman, also a Jew, whose assimilationist adherents oppose the project.

 

Ginzberg furnishes substantial evidence that Mordecai and Haman were both Jews who knew each other well

.

[End of quote]

 

From this, and from some other evidences, a total picture began to emerge. Haman, a king as we saw – obviously a sub-king under Ahasuerus “the Great” – was none other than the ill-fated king Jehoiachin (or Coniah), the last king of Judah. Like Haman, he had sons. But neither Coniah, nor his sons, was destined to rule. The story of Esther tells why – they were all slain.

 

Now, king Jehoiachin is a real archaeologically-verified monarch. And so we read, for instance (http://www.biblehistory.net/newsletter/jehoiachin.htm):

 

According to the Bible, Jehoiachin became king of Judah after the death of his father King Jehoiakim:

“Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days.”  2 Chronicles 36:9

A fantastic discovery that verifies biblical events surrounding Jehoiachin’s life was found in the ancient city of Babylon.

Tablets from the royal archives of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon were unearthed in the ruins of that ancient city that contain food rations paid to captives and craftsmen who lived in and around the city. On one of the tablets, “Yaukin, king of the land of Judah” is mentioned along with his five sons listed as royal princes. Below are a few inscriptions found on other such tablets:

10 (sila of oil) to the king of Judah, Yaukin.

2 1/2 sila (oil) to the offspring of Judah’s king,

4 sila to eight Judean men.

 

Another tablet reads:

1 1/2 sila (oil) for three wood workers from Arvad, 1/2 sila each,
11 1/2 sila for eight wood workers from Byblos,  . . .
3 1/2 sila for seven Greek craftsman, 1/2 sila apiece,
1/2 sila to the carpenter, Nabuetir

10 sila to Ia-ku-u-ki-nu, the king of Judah’s son,
2 1/2 sila for the five sons of the Judean king

This evidence matches precisely with the Biblical text found in II Kings 24:10-17 which says:  “At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.

      And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, as his servants were besieging it. Then Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his servants, his princes, and his officers went out to the king of Babylon; and the king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took him prisoner.
None remained except the poorest people of the land. And he carried Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officers, and the mighty of the land he carried into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. All the valiant men, seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths, one thousand, all who were strong and fit for war, these the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon. Then the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.”
     These tablets also indicate that Jehoiachin received twenty times as much food rations as others on the list which indicates that the Babylonians treated him more valuable then other captive kings on the list.
      Archaeology thus indicates that Jehoiachin was treated well by the kings of Babylon whom provided daily food rations for him. This corresponds with the scripture found in 2 Kings chapter 25 verses 27-30:
      “Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. ‘
      He spoke kindly to him, and gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin changed from his prison garments, and he ate bread regularly before the king all the days of his life.

And as for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the king, a portion for each day, all the days of his life.”

 

[End of quote]

 

 

Revised Era for Haman

 

The exaltation of Haman, by king Ahasuerus (Esther 3:1):

 

“After these events, King Ahasuerus honored Haman son of Hammedatha … elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles”.

 

must be the same event as we read about in 2 Kings 25:27-28:

 

“In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. …. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon”.

 

That gives us some solid fixed dates.

Apparently, then, the Esther drama – typically dated to c. 486-465 BC, during the reign of the Persian king, Xerxes I – must actually have occurred about a century earlier than this, around 560 BC (conventional dates).

Now, “Amalekite” (Greek: Amalikítis) could no longer be regarded as Haman’s nationality, but as a misinterpretation of the epithet by which he, as king Jehoiachin, was best known: “the Captive” (Greek: aichmálotos), of very similar phonetics.

The name “Haman” itself was presumably his Persian name, e.g. from Achaemenes, Persian Hakhamanish]

 

Conclusion 1: Haman was a Jewish King, Jehoiachin ‘the Captive’.

 

Another helpful piece of information is the testimony in the genealogy of Matthew that Jehoiachin was actually the son of king Josiah (1:11), when he is normally considered to have been Josiah’s grandson. This enabled now for his mother to have been the Hammutal, wife of king Josiah, who had also been the mother of Josiah’s other regal sons, Jehoahaz and Zedekiah (2 Kin. 23:31; 24:18; Jer. 52:1).

Hammutal (Hamutal) is a very good likeness for “Hammedatha” of Esther 3:1, otherwise unknown, and presumed to have been the father of Haman. We can now say that she, Hammedatha, was actually Haman‟s mother.

And, interestingly, Kaellis has added that (op. cit.): “Haman’s mother had a Hebrew name”. (That would be the Hebrew name, Hammutal = Hammedatha).

 

Conclusion 2. Haman’s parent, Hammedatha, was king Josiah’s wife, Hammutal.

 

 

Some Observations About Huldah

Huldah, The Prophetess - 2 Kings 22 verses 14-20

Further problematical is that the Huldah passage is riddled with name variants: ‘Huldah’ [Holda, Olda] is the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah [var. Tokhath, or Thecua, or Thecuan] son of Harhas [var. Hasrah, or Araas, or Aras].

The Septuagint adds another complication, by designating Huldah as “mother”, rather than “wife”, of Shallum.

R. Cohn (who has also written about Judith: Wise Woman of Bethulia), tells of Huldah as being “the first scripture authority, the founder of biblical studies”, and “Israel’s most successful prophet”, and “a scholar to whom Israelites came to for instruction”. (http://robincohn.net/images/Huldah.pdf).

Cohn tells of Huldah’s obedience, too, to the word of Moses:

The prophetess Huldah, who is very closely related to the book of Deuteronomy, heeded Moses’ wish for other inspired leaders to reach out to the “Instructions” and through inspiration make them their own. Therefore, before we leave the Book of Deuteronomy I want to discuss Huldah and her role in “democratizing” scripture. Some scholars even think that she wrote the book but I have yet to find any evidence for such a claim, although I certainly will keep looking for it!

Huldah as author of the Book of Deuteronomy? Not likely!

Cohn continues, on the singular importance of the prophetess Huldah (though perhaps overstating some aspects of it):

Huldah the Prophetess the First to Declare Scripture Holy

We read in 2 Kings 22:14-20 (and Chron. 34:11-28) about the discovery of a hidden scroll uncovered during a remodel of the Temple during the time of King Josiah. After learning of the scroll, Josiah requests the prophetess Huldah to verify that it is the word of God. “Huldah the prophetess… holds a unique place in history. It was she who, for the first time, designated a written document as Holy Scripture. …. Whatever the actual circumstances for the introduction of Deuteronomy, Huldah is given the credit for “canonizing” the book. Not only did she sanction the scroll but she also interpreted it” (Camp, Female Voice, p.100). “The authority to pass judgment on this initial entry into the canon was given to a [woman]. At the beginning of the Bible we find Huldah; in her we discover the first scripture authority, the founder of biblical studies” (Swidler, p. 783). As a result, more than just the prophet could savor and ponder the words of God; more than the High Priest in the Holy of Holies could access God. “Without Huldah’s verification of the Book of Deuteronomy in the seventh century B.C.E., Judaism might have disappeared with the next foreign invasion (which came soon enough after the scroll’s discovery)”.

….

Prophet Nahum as Tobias-Job Comforted. Part Two: Elkosh.

 nahum

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

The mysterious town of “Kaserin”, which Tobias and the angel Raphael approached on

their return journey (Tobit 11:1), is here tentatively identified with the prophet Nahum’s town of Elkosh (or Al Qush).

 

When commenting on the prophet Nahum’s town of “Elkosh” (Nahum 1:1) in Part One:

Prophet Nahum as Tobias-Job Comforted

 

http://www.academia.edu/8729042/Prophet_Nahum_as_Tobias-Job_Comforted

I followed a common

… opinion that Nahum’s “Elkosh” stands for Al Qosh (Qush), a town situated in northern Iraq, about 25 miles north of modern day Mosul, a city that is across the Tigris River from Nineveh. Thus, suiting my new theory, the prophet Nahum would have been a descendant of the northern exiles taken to Assyria in 722 B.C. (conventional dating). His tomb has in fact long been honoured at that very site of Al Qosh (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Shavuot). ….

A location for Nahum in Assyrian Mesopotamia would give added emphasis, too, to the prophet’s preoccupation with Assyria and Nineveh.

[End of quote]

Previously I had, in my related article,

A Common Sense Geography of the Book of Tobit

 

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

 

argued that Tobias (= Job)

Job’s Life and Times

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

and the angel Raphael, when travelling to “Ecbatana” in “Media”, were going in a westerly, not an easterly direction as commonly thought: “Ecbatana” actually being Bathania (Bashan), and “Media” being Midian.

According to my geographical re-assessment of the Book of Tobit:

Nineveh = Nineveh

River Tigris = River Tigris

Charan = Haran

Media = Midian

Ecbatana = Bashan

Rages = Damascus

The only geographical location that I had not attempted to identify was the mysterious “Kaserin”, about which we read in Tobit 11:1 (NRSA): “When they came near to Kaserin, which is opposite Nineveh …”. The Douay version gives, for the same verse, “Charan”: “And as they were returning they came to Charan, which is in the midway to Ninive, the eleventh day”. This could not be correct, however, because it is apparent from what follows that the travellers, Tobias and Raphael, had almost arrived back home (vv. 1-6):

…. Raphael said, ‘You are aware of how we left your father. Let us run ahead of your wife and prepare the house while they are still on the way’. As they went on together Raphael a said to him, ‘Have the gall ready’. And the dog b went along behind them. ×

References for Tobit 11:4

  • Footnotes Appropriately we read about this town (http://www.atour.com/education/20040922a.html): “Since its establishment, Alqosh has played a major role of worship for early Assyrians and Jewish [Israelite] prisoners who were brought by the Assyrians during the eighth and ninth century B.C”.Compare this explanation with what Tobias’s father, Tobit, tells us (Tobit 1:2, 3): “ During the time that Shalmaneser was emperor of Assyria, I [Tobit] was taken captive … to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria”.
  • Tobias (especially as Job) and his father, Tobit, were renowned for their righteousness (cf. Tobit e.g., 1:6-8; 2:1-9, 14; Job 1:1). Hence it would be fitting if the name of their home in the region of Nineveh actually translated as “The God of Righteousness”, as according to (http://www.atour.com/education/20040922a.html):
  • Exiled, that is, by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser [V].
  • Upon proper consideration of this name, “Kaserin” – in the context of my identification of Tobias/Job with the prophet “Nahum the Elkoshite” (Nahum 1:1), or “Nahum of Elkosh”, taking this latter to be the northern Ninevite town of Al Qush – it seems to me that the only designation to which “Kaserin” could refer, “opposite Nineveh”, must be this same Al Qush (Kas-er-in), in which the “Qush” element appears to be discernible (as “Kas”).
  • Meanwhile Anna sat looking intently down the road by which her son would come. When she caught sight of him coming, she said to his father, ‘Look, your son is coming, and the man who went with him!’

The Origin of the Name

The name Alqosh (or Elqosh) is derived from a compound Assyrian Akkadian name Eil-Kushtu, where “Eil” means God and “Kushtu” means righteousness or power. Therefore, Elqosh, or as casually pronounced Alqosh, means “The God of Righteousness” or “The God of Power.” The name “Alqosh” could also be originated from the Aramaic “Eil Qushti,” which means “The God of the Bow.” Here, an association could be drawn in conjunction with the winged disk symbol of God Ashur holding a bow. Meanwhile, in Aramaic language, rainbow is referred to as “Qeshta d’ Maran,” therefore, the meaning of the “Bow of Our Lord,” is possible as well. Alqosh is known also as Yimma d’ Athor (Mother of Assyria) or Yimma d’ Mathwatha (Mother of all Villages). ….

Book of Job an Organic Structure in all the Old Testament

A reader has commented as follows on the article of the previous post

Job and his sons in Josiah’s kingdom

Dear Damien

I have enjoyed your paper. So, the most important Book in Holy Bible is The Book of Job for me, I have read it since I was 7 years old; probably now I am starting to understand its sacral essention. Therefore your great philological study has localised this Book in biblical context.

The Book of Job has been for me a parable, but if you have right, it would be an organic structure in all Old Testament. In this case I say: that is extraordinary.

I am not an expert, it is only my opinion, but if your thesis stands, the Bible studies will be more and more completed. Please be sure to keep me informed about the important steps of this paper’s scientific way, I am very curious. And I will surf in your page, I am grateful for this experience. Keep the connection ….

Kind regards ….

Damien Mackey replies:

You must have been something of a child prodigy to have been reading the Book of Job as early as 7 years of age. Congratulations!

My first encounter with the book would be more like 45 years of age.

I read it through and shortly afterwards read the Book of Tobit which my Bible contains. I believe that this combination was providential, because my realisation that Job and Tobias (son of Tobit) had “seven sons” led to further comparisons (possessions; ethical maxims; geography) that I believe enabled me to anchor Job biblically (your “localizated this Book in biblical context”), and historically (to Tobit’s C8th BC neo-Assyrian era, and down to the time of the “Chaldeans”: Job 1:17 – given Job’s very long life). See my:

Job’s Life and Times

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

You will actually find very few instances of “seven sons” in the Bible. Jeremiah 15:9: “She who bore seven sons pines away …”, may actually be a reference to Job’s tragic wife.

In the article that you have read I further identify the now aged Job (= Tobias), and his offspring, as king Josiah’s high official Shaphan, and his important family (when Assyria was fading and the Chaldeans were becoming prominent). And I fully agree with you that, to identify Job, “would be an organic structure in all Old Testament”. It would provide a solid foundation for the Book of Job, for, as you also say, “if your thesis stand, the Bible studies will be more and more completed”.

Huldah thus becomes a messenger of mercy and peace (cf. 2 Kgs 22:14-20).

women

Woman’s Indispensable Role in Salvation History

H.H. Pope John Paul II
General Audience
March 27, 1996

1. The Old Testament holds up for our admiration some extraordinary women who, impelled by the Spirit of God, share in the struggles and triumphs of Israel or contribute to its salvation. Their presence in the history of the people is neither marginal nor passive: they appear as true protagonists of salvation history. Here are the most significant examples.

After the crossing of the Red Sea, the sacred text emphasizes the initiative of a woman inspired to make this decisive event a festive celebration: “Then Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dancing. And Miriam sang to them: ‘Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea’” (Ex 15:20-21).

This mention of feminine enterprise in the context of a celebration stresses not only the importance of woman’s role, but also her particular ability for praising and thanking God.

Positive contribution of women to salvation history

2. The action of the prophetess Deborah, at the time of the Judges, is even more important. After ordering the commander of the army to go and gather his men, she guarantees by her presence the success of Israel’s army, predicting that another woman, Jael, will kill their enemy’s general.

To celebrate the great victory, Deborah also sings a long canticle praising Jael’s action: “Most blessed of women be Jael, … of tent-dwelling women most blessed” (Jgs 5:24). In the New Testament this praise is echoed in the words Elizabeth addresses to Mary on the day of the Visitation: “Blessed are you among women …” (Lk 1:42).

The significant role of women in the salvation of their people, highlighted by the figures of Deborah and Jael, is presented again in the story of another prophetess named Huldah, who lived at the time of King Josiah.

Questioned by the priest Hilkiah, she made prophecies announcing that forgiveness would be shown to the king who feared the divine wrath. Huldah thus becomes a messenger of mercy and peace (cf. 2 Kgs 22:14-20).

3. The Books of Judith and Esther, whose purpose is to idealize the positive contribution of woman to the history of the chosen people, present—in a violent cultural context—two women who win victory and salvation for the Israelites.

The Book of Judith, in particular, tells of a fearsome army sent by Nebuchadnezzar to conquer Israel. Led by Holofernes, the enemy army is ready to seize the city of Bethulia, amid the desperation of its inhabitants, who, considering any resistance to be useless, ask their rulers to surrender. But the city’s elders, who in the absence of immediate aid declare themselves ready to hand Bethulia over to the enemy, are rebuked by Judith for their lack of faith as she professes her complete trust in the salvation that comes from the Lord.

After a long invocation to God, she who is a symbol of fidelity to the Lord, of humble prayer and of the intention to remain chaste goes to Holofernes, the proud, idolatrous and dissolute enemy general.

Left alone with him and before striking him, Judith prays to Yahweh, saying: “Give me strength this day, O Lord God of Israel!” (Jdt 13:7). Then, taking Holofernes’ sword, she cuts off his head.

Here too, as in the case of David and Goliath, the Lord used weakness to triumph over strength. On this occasion, however, it was a woman who brought victory: Judith, without being held back by the cowardice and unbelief of the people’s rulers, goes to Holofernes and kills him, earning the gratitude and praise of the High Priest and the elders of Jerusalem. The latter exclaimed to the woman who had defeated the enemy: “You are the exaltation of Jerusalem, you are the great glory of Israel, you are the great pride of our nation! You have done all this single-handed; you have done great good to Israel, and God is well pleased with it. May the Almighty Lord bless you for ever!” (Jdt 15:9-10).

4. The events narrated in the Book of Esther occurred in another very difficult situation for the Jews. In the kingdom of Persia, Haman, the king’s superintendent, decrees the extermination of the Jews. To remove the danger, Mardocai, a Jew living in the citadel of Susa, turns to his niece Esther, who lives in the king’s palace where she has attained the rank of queen. Contrary to the law in force, she presents herself to the king without being summoned, thus risking the death penalty, and she obtains the revocation of the extermination decree. Haman is executed, Mordocai comes to power and the Jews delivered from menace, thus get the better of their enemies.

Judith and Esther both risk their lives to win the salvation of their people. The two interventions, however, are quite different: Esther does not kill the enemy but, by playing the role of mediator, intercedes for those who are threatened with destruction.

Holy Spirit sketches Mary’s role in human salvation

5. This intercessory role is later attributed to another female figure, Abigail, the wife of Nabal, by the First Book of Samuel. Here too, it is due to her intervention that salvation is once again achieved.

She goes to meet David, who has decided to destroy Nabal’s family, and asks forgiveness for her husband’s sins. Thus she delivers his house from certain destruction (1 Sm 25).

As can be easily noted, the Old Testament tradition frequently emphasizes the decisive action of women in the salvation of Israel, especially in the writings closest to the coming of Christ. In this way the Holy Spirit, through the events connected with Old Testament women, sketches with ever greater precision the characteristics of Mary’s mission in the work of salvation for the entire human race.


Taken from:
L’Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
3 April 1996

Return to Main Page: John Paul

….

http://www.piercedhearts.org/jpii/general_audiences/gen_aud_1996/mar_27_1996.htm