Nebuchadnezzar before the fiery furnace

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “Not all of the old Assyrian empire bowed to Babylon. A young Assyrian prince was made king and an invitation was sent to Pharaoh Necho of Egypt to join in stopping the growth of the new Babylonian empire. As Necho moved northward to join his allies, Josiah, perhaps in an attempt to protect Judah from both Assyrian and Egyptian control, attempted to stop him and was killed in the battle of Megiddo. Necho proceeded into Syria and Josiah's son Shallum, or Jehoahaz (possibly his throne name), took the throne, supported by the free men of Judah. Within three months he was deposed by Necho and taken as a hostage to Egypt. His brother Eliakim was appointed king and his name changed to Jehoiakim. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, <=>]

“The Babylonian army, led by Nabopolassar's son Nebuchadrezzar (the Nebuchadnezzar of the Bible), defeated the Assyrians and Egyptians at Carchemish in 605. Fleeing Egyptians were pursued to their own borders and only saved from invasion by the death of Nabopolassar which necessitated Nebuchadrezzar's return to Babylon. He was crowned king in April, 604. <=>

“In Judah, Jehoiakim, having promised allegiance to Babylon, retained the crown. He was an unpopular ruler and Jeremiah makes reference to his extravagance in building a new summer palace at Bethhaccerem (Ramat Rahel), a hill site a few miles south of Jerusalem.7 Jeremiah also refers to the brutal and tyrannical role that Jehoiakim played, thus suggesting that he was anything but esteemed. <=>

“The Egyptian-Babylonian power struggle had not been completely settled and in 601 the two nations met again. Apparently the battle was a stalemate, and Nebuchadrezzar returned to Babylon to strengthen his forces. Possibly the failure of Nebuchadrezzar to win a decisive victory encouraged Jehoiakim to make a fatal error and rebel against Babylon. At the time, Nebuchadrezzar was engaged in a frontier struggle and it was not until late in 598 that Babylonian armies moved on Jerusalem. During that same month Jehoiakim died, passing his problems to his 18-year-old son Jehoiachin. <=>

Websites and Resources: Bible and Biblical History: Bible Gateway and the New International Version (NIV) of The Bible ; King James Version of the Bible ; Bible History Online ; Biblical Archaeology Society ; Internet Jewish History Sourcebook ; Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) ; Judaism Judaism101 ; ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; ; Chabad,org ; Religious Tolerance ; BBC - Religion: Judaism ; Encyclopædia Britannica,; Jewish History: Jewish History Timeline ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Jewish History Resource Center ; Center for Jewish History ; Jewish ; Christianity and Christians Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; ; BBC - Religion: Christianity ; Christianity Today

Fall of Nineveh

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “For three years Ashurbanipal's successor held the Assyrian throne and at his death Sin-shar-ishkin became king. In the summer of 612, Nabopolassar, a Chaldean leader, aided by Medes and northern nomads, attacked, looted and destroyed Nineveh, an event that marked the crumbling of the last vestiges of power in Assyria and established the foundations for the Neo-Babylonian Empire. There is some evidence that the defeat of Nineveh was the occasion of rejoicing in Judah, although the Assyrians established a new capital at Harran. Within a few years Harran was conquered by the Medes. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, <=>]

Nineveh booty

“The reaction of at least one individual to the fall of Nineveh is preserved in a poem echoing sheer mocking joy in the defeat of Assyria. The book of the prophet Nahum falls into two parts: Chapter 1 contains an incomplete poem in an alphabetic acrostic form,1 and Chapters 2 and 3 are concerned with Nineveh. Attempts have been made to read out of this short poem something of the writer's status and personality, but there is really no way of learning much about the man for, in his jubilant mood, he treats only one theme-Nineveh. His words form a triumphant shout of praise to Yahweh that the enemy has fallen. His native village of Elkosh (1:1) has not been located.2 The prophet may have been a Judaean who reacted with intense pleasure at the news of Nineveh's defeat or he may have been a descendant of the exiles of Israel living in a village near enough to Nineveh to enable him to witness the siege, thus accounting for the graphic descriptions in his poem. He may have been a cult prophet in Jerusalem. <=>

“The two chapters dealing with the siege (chs. 2-3) appear to have been written near the time of the battle. The reference to the sack of Thebes (3:8) guarantees a date after 663, the date of Ashurbanipal's successful attack. The context of the poem suggests a date close to 612. The opening chapter is a separate work which employs theophanic imagery (1:3b-5) and depicts Yahweh as an avenger (1:2-3, 9-11), a wrathful deity (1:6), a refuge for his people (1:7-8), and a deliverer (1:12-13). While it cannot be determined for certain, it seems that someone other than Nahum wrote this chapter. The liturgical or hymnic quality of this section has led to the suggestion that the first chapter was combined with the last two to form a liturgy for use in the New Year festival in the autumn of 612 after the fall of Nineveh. <=>

“The last chapters employ forceful, descriptive terminology to create a compact, vivid word picture of the confusion and horror during the Babylonian attack. In Nahum's thought, God acts against an enemy who has earned punishment and wrath. The closing, mocking verses, indicate that the battle was over and the quietness of death and desolation had descended upon the city and its leaders. All who suffered the cruelty of Assyrian tyranny clap their hands in rejoicing (3:18-19). <=>

“It has also been proposed that the book was developed to propagandize, to encourage a strong stand against Assyria and to extend hopes for the restoration of the nation of Judah.4 It seems better and simpler to recognize the book of Nahum as consisting of genuine oracles by the prophet concerning the fall of Nineveh, to which an introductory poem was added to adapt the total work to liturgical usage. <=>

Judah and Nebuchadnezzar

Nebuchadnessar has Jewish youths castrated

Judah the southern kingdom survived until 597 B.C. when Jerusalem was raided by the Babylonians and 586 B.C. and conquered by under Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C. ).

2 Kings Chap. 23-25 describes the conquest of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It is written by an anonymous historian but has traditionally been associated with the time of the prophet Jeremiah. This text is similar to that found in 2nd Chonicles According to the International Bible Society: From Chapter 23: Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother's name was Zebidah daughter of Pedaiah; she was from Rumah. And he did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his fathers had done. From Chapter 24 During Jehoiakim's reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he changed his mind and rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets. Surely these things happened to Judah according to the LORD's command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive. As for the other events of Jehoiakim's reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? Jehoiakim rested with his fathers. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king. [Source: New International Version by International Bible Society, The Christian Classics Ethereal Library, ThenAgain ||||]

“The king of Egypt did not march out from his own country again, because the king of Babylon had taken all his territory, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Euphrates River. Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother's name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father had done. ||||

“At that time the officers of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem and laid siege to it, and Nebuchadnezzar himself came up to the city while his officers were besieging it. Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his attendants, his nobles and his officials all surrendered to him. In the eighth year of the reign of the king of Babylon, he took Jehoiachin prisoner. As the LORD had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed all the treasures from the temple of the LORD and from the royal palace, and took away all the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the LORD. He carried into exile all Jerusalem: all the officers and fighting men, and all the craftsmen and artisans--a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left. Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king's mother, his wives, his officials and the leading men of the land. The king of Babylon also deported to Babylon the entire force of seven thousand fighting men, strong and fit for war, and a thousand craftsmen and artisans. He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah. ||||

“Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother's name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as Jehoiakim had done. It was because of the LORD's anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence. Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. ||||

Nebuchadnezzar Attacks Jerusalem

Babylonian Siege of Jerusalem
The siege of Jerusalem began on December 18, 598 and the city was taken on March 16, 597. The temple was looted and Jehoiachin and leading citizens and artisans were taken as prisoners to Babylon. Jehoiachin's uncle Mattaniah, whose name was changed to Zedekiah, was appointed king over a nation once again suffering from the ravages of war. Nebuchadrezzar had not only attacked Jerusalem, but Jehoiakim's new summer palace and the cities of Debit and Lachish all bear archaeological witness to Babylonian demolition. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968,]

According to the International Bible Society: From Chapter 25 of 2 Kings: “So in the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month,Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all round it. The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. By the ninth day of the [fourth] month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king's garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah, but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, and he was captured. He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. [Source: New International Version by International Bible Society, The Christian Classics Ethereal Library, ThenAgain ||||]

“Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to be over the people he had left behind in Judah. When all the army officers and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah--Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite, and their men. Gedaliah took an oath to reassure them and their men. "Do not be afraid of the Babylonian officials," he said. "Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you." In the seventh month, however, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood, came with ten men and assassinated Gedaliah and also the men of Judah and the Babylonians who were with him at Mizpah. At this, all the people from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians. ||||



20120503-Nebuchadnezzarcamp outside Jerusalem.jpg
Nebuchadnezzar's camp
outside Jerusalem
“On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had gone over to the king of Babylon. But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields... Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of his men who were found in the city. Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed. So Judah went into captivity, away from her land. ||||

“In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merodach [2] became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin from prison on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. 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. So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king's table. Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived. ||||

Destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians

Solomon's Temple was partly destroyed and the Ark of the Covenant was lost when Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The Temple of Jerusalem — the "House of God" built by King Solomon — was as the centrepiece of Jewish faith. It stood on Jerusalem's Mount Zion for almost 400 years. According to Jewish tradition, the Ark of the Covenant, that had once housed the Ten Commandments, was hidden by the prophet Jeremiah. It has never been discovered. [Source: Huffington Post, February 3, 2015]

In a Babylonian chronicle Nebuchadnezzar boasted theat he “captured the city and...took heavy tributes and brought it back to Babylon." The Bible has a similar account except that the “tributes” are referred to as “all the treasures of the Temple and the royal palace." The fate of the Ark is not known. According to one legend it was stolen by the illegitimate son of Solomon and Sheba and taken to Ethiopia and placed in a church in Aksum, where only a guardian monk has access to it. A modest Second Temple was built in 539 B.C.

From Chapter 5 of 2 Kings: “Nebuchadnezzar “set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down....The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the LORD and they carried the bronze to Babylon. They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. The commander of the imperial guard took away the censers and sprinkling bowls--all that were made of pure gold or silver. The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the movable stands, which Solomon had made for the temple of the LORD, was more than could be weighed. Each pillar was twenty-seven feet high. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was four and a half feet high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its network, was similar. The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers. [Source: New International Version by International Bible Society, The Christian Classics Ethereal Library, ThenAgain ||||]

Taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar

Last Days of Judah

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “Zedekiah's rule was a tenuous one. Jehoiachin, the king in exile, was treated as a royal hostage and Babylonian tablets recording the allotment of provender to the monarch (listed as "Yaukin of Yahud") and his family have been found, confirming the note in II Kings 25:29 f. Moreover, Jehoiachin retained his holdings in Judah, for storage jars bearing the stamped seal of "Eliakim, steward of Jehoiachin" have been found, indicating that financial returns from Judah holdings were garnered in the name of the absentee king.23 The portrait of Zedekiah preserved in Jeremiah's words depicts him as a vacillating, rather weak ruler not fitted for the delicate responsibilities of his age. Whatever his character may have been, he failed to recognize and appreciate, as Jeremiah apparently did, the master statesmanship and military skill of Nebuchadrezzar. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, <=>]

“A revolt in Babylon, perhaps led by certain elements of the army, may have caused Zedekiah to believe that Nebuchadrezzar's power was crumbling, and it would appear that the Jerusalem prophet Hannaniah furthered this hope (cf. Jer. 28:1 ff.). It is possible that some of the exiles were restless, for Jeremiah wrote them a letter urging them to be good citizens (Jer. 29). A cooperative plan of revolt was developed by small nations, including Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon, and Zedekiah was urged to ally himself with them (Jer. 27). Zedekiah refused but later that same year (594), the Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt attacked Philistia in an attempt to regain control of territory important for trade and shipping and Zedekiah joined this rebellion. Once again Nebuchadrezzar moved on Jerusalem and, after an eighteen-month siege beginning in late December, 588 or January, 587, took the city in August, 586.24 These were disastrous months for Judah. Babylonian armies ravaged nearby cities, including Debir and Lachish.25 From the excavation of Lachish, twenty-one ostraca26, have been recovered consisting of correspondence between a scout or soldier in charge of an outpost and an officer within the city, written about the time the siege of Jerusalem was about to begin.27 Some letters are so indistinct and fragmentary that their meaning is obscure, but others are quite clear. They speak of those who hinder and weaken and they invoke the name of Yahweh and refer to "fire-signals" by which information was relayed. Shortly afterward the Babylonian armies destroyed Lachish and other Judaean cities. The siege of Jerusalem is related briefly in II Kings 25:1-21 (cf. Jer. 39:1-10). The city was without food and when the Babylonians finally entered, Zedekiah and his soldiers fled. Zedekiah was captured and brought for judgment before Nebuchadrezzar who was in Syria. His fate was worse than death. His family was murdered one by one before him, and then Zedekiah was blinded so that the last sight he would remember would be the destruction of his loved ones. In chains he was led to Babylon. The city of Jerusalem was utterly destroyed: the temple of Solomon was pulled down, the walls of the city were demolished and buildings were set afire. <=>

“Once again Babylonian soldiers took into captivity what remained of skilled or talented leadership, leaving only the poor and the underprivileged. So great was the devastation of Jerusalem that governmental headquarters were moved to Mizpah, probably Tell en-Nasbeh a few miles north and west. A certain Gedaliah was placed in charge of Judah.28 Little by little, as Babylonian soldiers withdrew, refugees returned, including Judaean soldiers. Encouraged by the king of Ammon, one of these men, named Ishmael, murdered Gedaliah. Pursued by angry Judaean warriors, Ishmael went to Ammon. In fear of reprisal from Babylon, many Judaeans fled to Egypt, compelling Jeremiah and his scribe to accompany them. The tattered remnant predicted by the prophets remained in Judah. In Babylon, another remnant of the educated, informed and talented kept alive faith in Yahweh and the fierce nationalism that was to be the rebirth of the people of Judah, the Jews.” <=>

2,500 Year Old Jewish Tablets Discovered in Iraq

In 2015, the Huffington Post reported: “For the first time, one hundred and ten, 2,500 year old Babylonian tablets have been discovered in Iraq which provide a glimpse of Jewish life in Babylonian exile. Put simply, the tablets corroborate the Biblical tale. They describe a town called Al-Yahudu i.e., "the village of the Jews", by the river Chebar, mentioned in Ezekiel 1:1. They also attest to Judaic names such as "Gedalyahu", "Hanan", "Dana", "Shaltiel" and a man with the same name as Israel's current Prime Minister, "Netanyahu". The "yahu" ending to these names is called "theophoric", meaning, they attest to a belief in the God of the Torah, by including part of God's name in people's personal names. The tablets also record everyday business transactions and witness to the Jewish return to Jerusalem (Nehemiah 6:15-16), as commemorated in personal names such as "Yashuv Zadik", meaning, "the righteous shall return [to Zion]". [Source: Huffington Post, February 3, 2015]

“This discovery is a remarkable confirmation of the historical reliability of the Biblical text. It is also a reminder that many people once lived in Iraq. Today, there are still remnants of some of these people: Jews, Christians, Mandeans (the last remaining followers of John the Baptist) and Yazidis, an ancient people whose beliefs combine elements of Zoroastrianism, the pre-Islamic religion of Persia, early Christianity and Judaism. All these ethnic survivors are now facing massacres, crucifixions, rape and decapitation.”

Ancient Gate-Shrine Discovered Just Outside Jerusalem Supports Biblical Story of Temple Desecration

A toilet was found in the gate-shrine, a symbol of Biblical King Hezekiah's desire to abolish pagan places of worship, at a shrine dating to the First Temple Period in Tel Lachish National Park. The toilets have not been used but appear to have been put in the shrine to desecrate it. Léa Surugue wrote in International Business Times, “Archaeologists have discovered a rare gate-shrine from the 8th century BCE at the Tel Lachish National Park in Israel. Signs of desecration have been identified at the site – evidence that gives creedence to Biblical accounts of strict religious reforms taking place at the time, according to researchers. The team, from the Israel Antiquities Authority, made this very unusual find while conducting excavation works between January and March which aimed to further develop the Tel Lachish site and learn more. [Source: Léa Surugue, International Business Times, September 29, 2016 /~\]

“The northern part of the ancient Lachish city gate had first been unearthed decades ago by a joint British and Israeli expedition, and one of the focus of these new excavations was to pursue this work. The archaeologists succeeded in completely exposing the gate – which formed a square of 24.5 by 24.5m and reached a preserved height of 4 m. This makes it the largest one known in the country from the First Temple period.

“The gate-shrine has been completely exposed by the team during excavation work. Benches in the city gates are mentioned in the Bible and were a place of meeting for city elders, judges and kings. The findings confirm a number of previous archaeological and historical discoveries. Indeed, the size of the gate suggests Lachish was a major city 2,800 years ago, a time also referred to as the First Temple period. It was potentially the second most important city after Jerusalem. /~\

destruction of Solomon's Temple

“The archaeologists were also excited to find evidence of benches in the city gates, as they say these are described in Biblical texts. "According to the biblical narrative, the cities' gates were the place where 'everything took place': the city elders, judges, governors, kings and officials – everyone would sit on benches in the city gate. These benches were found in our excavation", explains Sa'ar Ganor, who led the excavations. The city gate consists of six chambers, three on either side, and the city's main street that passed between them. Many artefacts point to the daily life of the city's inhabitants in the 8th century BCE. The team uncovered jars, a large number of scoops for loading grain and stamped jar handles at the bottom of the benches. The jar handles bear seal mark which suggest they belonged to the King of Hebron or to a city official.

“However, the archaeologists consider that the most important discovery is one that tells the story of a King of the Old Testament, King Hezekiah. Indeed, one of the chambers is an ancient gate-shrine, whose walls had been covered with white plaster and which once held a bench upon which offerings were placed. They also identified two altars decorated with raised corners – also known as horns, which had been truncated – a sign of disrespect for the holy chamber and of desecration. /~\

“Biblical tales present King Hezekiah as a the 13th ruler of Judah and the instigator of sweeping religious reforms. During his reign, religious worship was centralised in Jerusalem and important pagan sites of worship built outside the city were destroyed. As is it is suggested in the book of Kings in the Bible: "He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles." (II Kings 18:4). Hezekiah thus introduced a strict mandate for the sole worship of Yahweh by the act of purging the cult of pagan altars and pushing people to worship only at the altar of God in Jerusalem. Beyond the truncated horns of the altars, the newly discovered gate-shrine appear to bear other traces of these reforms. Indeed, a toilet was installed inside the shrine, dealing a severe blow to people who wanted to worship. Although, it appears never to have been used, it constituted the ultimate desecration of the gate shrine.” /~\

Archeological Sites Associated with the Judah Period

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “Tell en-Nasbeh, excavated between 1926 and 1935 by Dr. William F. Badè of the Pacific School of Religion, is believed to be the site of ancient Mizpah, the city fortified by King Asa of Judah. The massive walls were thirteen to twenty feet thick and probably forty feet high. The single, strongly fortified gate had a paved, drained forecourt with benches where the elders of the city might have sat to render judgment (cf. Amos 5:15; Ruth 4:11; Prov. 31:23). [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, <=>]

Nebuchadnezzar II inscription

“The low structures in Megiddo, just inside the city wall, are stables capable of housing 450 horses. The open area in front of the stables represents an exercise or parade ground. The large pit to the right and outside of the stable area marks the entrance to an underground passage leading to a spring, the water supply for the city. In the background, the impressive structure with the tower is a model of the governor's palace with a private walled court, and the size and magnificence of this building testifies to the affluence of Ahab's day. The circular structure outside of the courtyard is a storage pit for grain. The outline of walls and buildings in the foreground represents structures from the older Canaanite layers of habitation that archaeologists found beneath the ninth century levels. <=>

“In 1846 during the excavation of the ancient city of Calah, Austin Henry Layard discovered a four-sided pillar or obelisk of black limestone, six and one half feet high. Five panels of bas reliefs extended around the pillar with an accompanying cuneiform description of the reliefs. The pillar commemorated the achievements of Shalmaneser III during the thirty-five years of his reign. In the top panels pictured above, Jehu or his representative is pictured kneeling before Shalmaneser, and the second panel at the top shows a group of Israelites bearing tribute. Some features of Israelite dress can be discerned: they wore soft caps, sleeveless fringed tunics, and had rounded beards. The taller, armed figures are Assyrians. The inscription pertaining to Jehu reads: "The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri: I received silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden vase, golden goblets, golden pitchers, tin, a scepter for the king, and staves." Identifying Jehu as a "son of Omri" must be understood as "successor to Omri" and also as a sign of the importance of Omri's reign. The lower panels represent tribute from other parts of the Assyrian empire. <=>

“The massive stone outcropping rising 950 feet above the floor of the valley at Petra and known today as Umm el-Biyerah ("mother of cisterns") because of the numerous cisterns carved in its surface, is believed to be the site of ancient Sela. The approach to the summit is by a narrow trail which winds up the steep sides to the acropolis. If this is the site of Sela, the Hebrew conquest of the unapproachable site was an amazing feat. Here Amaziah defeated the Edomites (II Kings 14:7), and if the account in II Chron. 25:11 ff. is accurate, it is here that 10,000 Edomites died after being hurled from "the top of the rock."<=>

“King Ashurnasirpal Ii of Assyria and an attendant in a winged costume participate in a religious ritual. The low relief, carved in gypseous alabaster, is from the ancient Assyrian city of Calah (Nimrud) excavated by Austin Henry Layard from 1845 to 1848 and by M. E. L. Mallowan from 1949 to 1961. Ashurnasirpal's inscriptions boast of the ruthless treatment of captive peoples and of the terror inspired by Assyrian military tactics.” <=>

Moabite Stone

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “The Moabite Stone, which dates from the ninth century B.C., was discovered at the site of ancient Dibon in 1868 by the Rev. F. A. Klein, a German missionary. Fortunately a squeeze or impression was made by pressing soft, moist, paper-pulp tightly against the inscription and permitting it to dry before removal, thus giving a precise copy, for shortly afterward the stone was smashed by bedouin who hoped to get a better price by disposing of the pieces individually. Some parts were lost but the remainder were acquired for the Louvre by Charles Clermont-Ganneau, the French Orientalist. With the aid of the squeeze, it was possible to restore the original text. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, <=>]

Moab stone

“The stone is black basalt and is three feet ten inches high, two feet wide, and fourteen inches thick. There are thirty-four lines of script of a dialect closely resembling Hebrew. The account, written in the first person singular, supplements the biblical history of Israel from the time of Omri to Ahaziah. Like the Hebrews the Moabites attributed military success or failure to their god. <=>

The first twenty lines are reproduced below. “I (am) Mesha, son of Chemosh king of Moab, the Dibonite-my father (had) reigned over Moab thirty years, and I reigned after my father,- (who) made this high place for Chemosh in Qarhoh [. . .] because he saved me from all the kings and caused me to triumph over all my adversaries. As for Omri, (5) king of Israel, he humbled Moab many years (lit., days), for Chemosh was angry at his land. And his son followed him and he also said, "I will humble Moab." In my time he spoke (thus), but I have triumphed over him and over his house, while Israel hath perished for ever! (Now) Omri had occupied the land of Medeba, and (Israel) had dwelt there in his time and half the time of his son (Ahab), forty years; but Chemosh dwelt there in my time.

“And I built Baal-meon, making a reservoir in it, and I built (10) Qaryaten. Now the men of Gad had always dwelt in the land of Ataroth, and the king of Israel had built Ataroth for them; but I fought against the town and took it and slew all the people of the town as satiation (intoxication) for Chemosh and Moab. And I brought back from there Arel (or Oriel), its chieftain, dragging him before Chemosh in Kerioth, and I settled there men of Sharon and men of Maharith. And Chemosh said to me, "Go, take Nebo from Israel!" (15) So I went by night and fought against it from the break of dawn until noon, taking it and slaying all, seven thousand men, boys, women, girls and maid-servants, for I had devoted them to destruction for (the god) Ashtar-Chemosh. And I took from there the [...] of Yahweh, dragging them before Chemosh. And the king of Israel had built Jahaz, and he dwelt there while he was fighting against me, but Chemosh drove him out before me. And (20) 1 took from Moab two hundred men, all first class (warriors), and set them against Jahaz and took it in order to attach it to (the district of) Dibon. <=>

Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons, Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bible in Bildern, 1860

Text Sources: Internet Jewish History Sourcebook “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Old Testament Life and Literature” by Gerald A. Larue, King James Version of the Bible,, New International Version (NIV) of The Bible, Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL), translated by William Whiston, , Metropolitan Museum of Art “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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