Regional Conflicts NINTH CENTURY bce


Regional Conflicts NINTH CENTURY bce


The ninth century bce in the Levant was characterized by the ever-threatening shadow of Assyrian aggression. The Aramean and Neo-Hittite states were the first to feel the hot breath of the Assyrian monster. Greedy for tribute and for manpower to build new cities and temples, the Assyrian kings often pressed for exorbitant payments that led to armed resistance on the part of the local states. The northern kingdoms were eventually subdued, as were some entities in southeastern Anatolia. The central and southern Levant, on the other hand, saw collective resistance that succeeded in limiting the Assyrian aggression to campaigns of plunder and extortion. The enforced unity for defense against Assyria did not prevent the small states of the southern Levant from engaging in their own violent parochial quarrels.


The ninth-century bce kings of Assyria have left various records of their campaigns, some on clay tablets, others 

(beginning with Ashurna-∆irpal) on stone slabs and statuary incorporated into public buildings. As they gained in strength, they began programs of conquest or of plunder, beginning with areas adjacent to their homeland and extending into southeastern Anatolia, the Zagros Mountains and 

the Jezîrah, the true “Mesopotamia” or Nahrain/Naharaim, between the upper Tigris and the Euphrates. Eventually, the desire for more raw materials, booty and manpower drove the kings of Assyria to march westward into the eastern Mediterranean littoral. The resulting influx of prisoners, corvée workers, and luxury and staple goods made it possible to build new cities in the Assyrian homeland and to greatly enhance the older urban centers there with new or refurbished temples and palaces (Tadmor 1975:36_40).


Adad-nirœri II (911_891 bce). This king conducted eight campaigns against the Arameans. The geographical scene of these forays was called Ùanigalbat, i.e., the Jezîrah. Early in the reign it is stated (Grayson 1976a:87) that he defeated the forces of the a≈lamû = Arameans and extorted heavy tribute from the kingdom of Su≈u on the middle Euphrates. The other western campaigns took place every year from 901 to 896 bce and 894 bce. Only once did he cross the Ùabur (899 bce) when he attacked Ùuz¥r¥na (Sulªântepe) across the Bal¥≈ and received a tribute gift from B¥t-Adini (Beth-eden) on the western side of the Euphrates (Grayson 1982:250).


Tukulti-Ninurta II (890_884 bce). This son of Adad-nirœri II generally devoted his military efforts to areas traversed by his predecessors. In the eastern Jezîrah he met no opposition. He conducted three campaigns into the Nairi lands north of Assyria (889_886 bce; Grayson 1976a:98_99). On the last of these he conquered and plundered the Aramean tribe, or political entity, of B¥t-Zamani and forced its captured ruler into vassalage. In 885 bce, he made a great sweep (Grayson 1976a:100_105), first down to northern Babylonia, attacking Dur-Kurigalzu (‘Aqarqûf) and Sippar (Tell Ab∑ Óabba), then northward along the course of the Euphrates past ‘Anat (Óit) and Ùindœnu (el-Jab¥rîyah), turning up along the Ùabur through Lœqê, S∑ru (Tell Fidên; Liverani 1992:32_33) and Shadikannu (Tell ‘Ajâjah; Liverani 1992:31). He then continued beyond to Na∆¥b¥na (Nisibis) and on to Ùuz¥r¥na on the Balî≈. Finally, he attacked Mushku in southeastern Anatolia. Along this circuitous route he met little opposition. Most of the small states rendered their tribute on demand. 


Ashurna∆irpal II (883_

859 bce). It has often been said that the founder of the early Assyrian Empire was Ashurna∆irpal II, son of Tukulti-Ninurta II. Most of the evidence concerning his reign has been derived from the ruins of his chosen capital, Kal≈u, biblical Calah (Nimrûd). According to late biblical legend (Gen 10:11_12), the heroic figure, Nimrod, the “mighty hunter,” began his rule at Babylon and then went into Assyria where he built cities, among them Nineveh and Calah. In fact, the ancient mound of Kal≈u bears the medieval and modern Arabic name, Nimrûd, showing that the biblical association had been alive there prior to the Arab conquest.

 Actually, it was Ashurna-∆irpal who chose Kal≈u as his capital. He transformed an insignificant village into a metropolis suitable to be the center of the empire that he then began to establish. The chief god of Kal≈u was Ninurta, the god of war, and Ashurna∆irpal had a huge temple and ziggurat (a temple tower) erected for his worship and service. Thus he signified that the chief instrument of his political agenda would be relentless warfare in the quest for plunder and tribute. The king also built an elaborate residence for himself, designated archaeologically as the Northwest Palace. Many temples to other deities were also erected and a massive fortification wall surrounded the city. The water supply for this new city was provided by an intricate aqueduct partially diverting the waters of the Upper Zab to facilitate irrigation inside the walls.

 The excavations at Kal≈u in the nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries have made Nimrûd/Kal≈u/Calah one of the richest archaeological sites in Mesopotamia (Oates and Oates 2001). 

 The massive wealth and the impressive public buildings of Kal≈u were financed by annual military campaigns of conquest, extortion and exploitation. Ashurna∆irpal II inaugurated the principle of making at least one military campaign per year. To the east, in the area of the Upper Diyala in the Zagros Mountains, he conducted three campaigns against a coalition of tribes headed by a certain Nur-Adad. The Assyrians brought back extensive quantities of booty and large numbers of captives who were used in the work force for building the new capital. A garrison and supply depot were established deep in the Zagros Mountains.

 On the northern front, there were several campaigns against the lands of Nairi (the Armenian highland; Salvini 1998_2001). Eventually, he appointed a governor over the district and subsequently, these districts remained reasonably submissive and sent their tribute and corvée laborers to perform service in Assyria.

 The other direction of the campaigns was toward the south along the Ùabur and middle Euphrates. Those areas had been under Assyrian control since the reign of Adad-nirœri II, but while Ashurna∆irpal II was campaigning in other directions, some peoples on the Ùabur and middle Euphrates thought the time was ripe to escape the heavy burden of vassalship to Assyria. Incitement to do this came from the Aramean kingdom of B¥t-Adini (Beth-eden) to the west and from Babylonia to the south. There were three separate attempts to break free from Assyrian domination, and in each instance Ashurna∆irpal responded with lightning speed. As soon as word reached him of the rebellions, he reversed the march of his troops and fell upon the rebels without warning. The rebellious cities were ransacked and burnt to the ground. Their leaders were horribly mutilated before being murdered. As a result of these atrocities, Ashurna∆irpal had no further trouble along the Ùabur and middle Euphrates throughout the remainder of his tenure.

 The first of these attempts was during the king's first campaign in 883 bce when he was engaged in the northeast; a man from B¥t-Adini was installed at S∑ru (Tell Fidên; Liverani 1992:32_33), the chief city of the state of B¥t-Ùalupê (Grayson 1976:123_125; A.0.101.1: I, 74b_93, Grayson 1991d:198_199), near the juncture of the lower Ùabur with the Euphrates (Liverani 1992:330). The king changed his direction and came straight to the scene of the rebellion. The usurper was handed over and put to death while a heavy tribute was imposed on S∑ru. 

 Further interference on the part of B¥t-Adini was dealt with during a period of conflict (877 bce) with the land of Lœqê on the Euphrates south of B¥t-Ùalupê (Liverani 1992:33). The king made a special excursion (876 bce) for punitive action against B¥t-Adini. He attacked Kaprabu (still not identified), a stronghold of B¥t-Adini on the eastern side of the Euphrates (Grayson 1976:140_141; A.0.101.1:III, 50b_56a, Grayson 1991d:216). A≈unu, the ruler of B¥t-Adini, sent tribute.

 As a follow-up of this campaign, Ashurna∆irpal embarked on an extensive foray to the west (between 875 and 867, c. 870 bce; Grayson 1982:254_255), crossing the Euphrates. This first stage of the campaign was for intimidating the Aramean states in northern Syria, especially B¥t-Adini (Beth-eden, Amos 1:5; the lists of tribute are skipped over in most of the following excerpts).

On the eighth day of the month of Iyyar I departed from the city of Calah. I crossed the Euphrates; I took the road to Carchemish. I approached B¥t-Ba≈iyœni. I received the tribute of the people of B¥t-Ba≈iyœni. . . . I took with me the chariots, cavalry, and infantry of the people of Ba≈iyœni. I departed from B¥t-Ba≈iyœni. I drew near to the country of Azalli. I received the tribute of Adad-’ime, the Zallalian. . . . I took with me the chariots, cavalry and infantry. I departed from Azalli and I approached B¥t-Adini. I received the tribute of A≈uni, the citizen of Adini. . . . I took with me the chariotry, cavalry and infantry of A≈uni. I departed from the land of B¥t-Adini. 

(Grayson 1996:216_217; A.0.101.1: III, 56b_64a)

 The second stage was aimed primarily at the Neo-Hittite states with Carchemish as their senior. Their kings did homage and paid their 

tribute. Then Ashurna∆irpal marched into the kingdom of Patina (also called Unqi; the Bronze Age Mugish, i.e. the ‘Amuq Plain). The first stop was Ùazazi (‘Azaz; Liverani 1992:74 n. 346 for references). The river Aprê (‘Afrîn) was crossed and the king progressed to Kunulua, the capital of Patina, most likely Tell Ta‘yinât (Liverani 1992:75 n. 355). Lubarna, ruler of Patina, showed his dread of the Assyrian offensive capabilities and humbled himself before Ashurna∆irpal.

I crossed the Euphrates, which was in flood, on rafts of goatskins. I approached the land of Carchemish. I received the tribute of Sangara, king of the land of Ùatte. . . . I took with me the chariots, cavalry, and infantry of the city of Carchemish. The kings of the lands, all of them, came down to me. They seized my feet. I took their hostages; they were kept in my presence (and) they went to Mt. Lebanon. I departed from Carchemish; I took the route between Mt. Munzigœni and Mt. Ùamuruga; I left Mt. A≈unu on my left. I drew near to the city of Ùazazi of Lubarna the Patinian. I received gold, garments and linen garments. I passed on; I crossed the river Aprê; I pitched camp and spent the night. I departed from the river Aprê. I drew near to the city of Kunulua, the royal city of Lubarna, the Patinian. He feared before my raging weapons and fierce onslaught; to save his life, he seized my feet. I received . . . his tribute. The chariots, the cavalry (and) the infantry of the land of Patina, I took with me. I (also) took his hostages.

(Grayson 1996:217_218; A.0.101.1: III, 65_77a)

 Here another Aramean state sent their (tardy?) tribute to Ashurna∆irpal:

At that time I received the tribute of Gusi the Ya≈anean.

(Grayson 1996:218; A.0.101.1: III, 78a).

This Gusi, ruler of Ya≈anu/A≈anu, was the eponymous founder of the state known later as B¥t-(A)g∑si, mainly in the Aleppo area (Liverani 1992:73_74).

 The northern flank was now secure and it was possible to thrust southward via the Orontes Valley into central Syria. 

I departed from the city of Kunulua, the royal city of Lubarna the Patinean. I crossed the river [Oron]tes. By the Orontes I pitched camp and spent the night. I took the route between Mount Yaraqu and Mount Ya≈turi. I crossed over Mount [. . .]ku. By the Sangura River I pitched camp. From the Sangura River I departed. I took the route between Mount Saratini and Mount Qalpœni. I pitched camp by [the la]kes. I entered into the city of Aribua, the fortress of Lubarna the Patinean. I expropriated the city for myself. I harvested the grain and the straw of the land of Lu≠uti and stored it inside. I staged a celebration in his palace. I settled Assyrian people within it. While I was in the city of Aribua I conquered the cities of the land of Lu≠uti. I massacred many of them; I razed, I destroyed, I burnt with fire. I captured troops alive; on wooden stakes I impaled them before their cities.

(Grayson 1996:218; A.0.101.1: III, 78b_84a)

 He evidently followed the route of the modern roads, crossing the mountains of Jebel Quseir southeast of Antakia (Liverani 1992:75). The Sanguru River is most likely the Nahr el-Abyaƒ near Jisr esh-Shughûr (Liverani 1992:75_76). Mount Saratini and Mount Qalpœni are probably also part of the Jebel Quseir. The southernmost outpost of the Patina kingdom was Aribua; in that capacity it most likely had a garrison and other symbols of a national border town. A location near Jisr esh-Shughûr is most logical (Liverani 1992:76-77). It is the only convenient ford on the Orontes and it has a direct eastward approach to Lu≠utu and a westward approach to the Mediterranean via the Bdama pass through the Jebel Nosairah (Ansœrîyeh). 

 Ashurna∆irpal expropriated Aribua for himself and made it an Assyrian base. He then proceeded to launch a brutal campaign of conquest in the territory of Lu≠uti (Hawkins 1987_90). This is the land of Nu≠asse of the second millennium (Klengel 1969:18_57). In the Aramaic Zakur stele it is spelled L‘Í which points to a pronunciation *Lu≠u††e. The political status of the land of Lu≠uti is not clear. By the reign of Shalmaneser III it seems to have formed the northern province of the kingdom of Hamath, and it may have already been so at this earlier date. 

 After ravaging and savaging the land of Lu≠uti, the king then turned his attention westward:

At that time, I verily took the route to Mount Lebanon. I verily went up to the Great Sea of the land of Amurru. I verily purified my weapons in the Great Sea; I offered sacrifices to the gods. I received the tribute of the kings of the sea shore, of the land of the Tyrian, the land of the Sidonian, the land of the Byblian, the land of the Ma≈allatian, the land of the Maizian, the land of the Kaizian, the land of the Amurrite and the city of Arvad that is in the midst of the sea, viz. . . . their tribute. They grasped my feet.          (Grayson 1996:218_219; A.0.101.1: III, 84b_88a)

 The campaign culminated in a trek to the Amanus Mountains, where large quantities of lumber were gathered for use in the royal building projects back home in Assyria:

To Mt. Amanus I verily went up. Logs of cedar, cypress, daprœnu-juniper, buraßu-juniper, I cut down. I conducted sacrifices to my gods. I made a memorial to my valor and erected (it) therein. I took up the cedar logs from Mt. Amanus; I  transported (them) to Eßarra, to my temple, the shrine, the house of celebrations, to the temple of Sîn and Íamaß, the pure gods. 

 To the land of the me≈ru-trees I went. I conquered the land of the me≈ru-trees in its entirety. I cut down logs of the me≈ru-wood. To Nineveh I brought (them); to Ißtar, the lady of Nineveh, my mistress, I donated (them).

(Grayson 1996:219; A.0.101.1: III, 88b_92a)

 On a subsequent campaign to Khuzirina in 866 bce, Ashurna∆irpal received tribute from the king of Kummukh, Qatazilu. This expedition has been characterized as a peaceful progress rather than a massive feat of arms, and certainly its military and political effects cannot have been very extensive. On the other hand, the coastal cities of Phoenicia doubtless saw this occasion as an opportunity to open up markets to the east for their products being brought in by their westward-sailing commercial fleet.


Shalmaneser III (859_824 bce). The policies of Ashurna∆irpal II were continued by his son and successor, Shalmaneser III (for thorough source analysis and historical interpretation cf. Yamada 2000a). The campaigns of this latter monarch to the west were marked by local attempts to resist the Assyrian aggressors. His inscriptions show that the Assyrians did their homework; they have a thorough knowledge of the political and social entities in the Levant (Grayson 2004_05). The political states in the northern and later in the central regions of Syria tried to band together to defeat the Assyrian invaders. The former were eventually subdued but the latter continued to resist Shalmaneser until late in his career. The Assyrian pressure forced the states of the central and southern Levant to work together against the common threat. Nevertheless, their own local conflicts and rivalries did not abate during the ninth century bce.

 Shalmaneser began his military operations during his accession year by conducting a mighty foray into the northeast (859 bce; Yamada 2000a:68 n. 155 for references). Then in his first regnal year (858 bce) he began a series of campaigns to the west. The imperial thirst for goods and raw materials was insatiable and the western nations beyond the Euphrates were resisting tribute demands imposed by Ashurna∆irpal II. During this and the next two campaigns, the Assyrians met organized resistance lead by A≈uni, the ruler of B¥t-Adini (Beth-eden), but also from a second group led by Óayyœnu, ruler of Sam’al.

 The first serious campaign to the west concentrated on the kingdoms in north Syria. Tribute was collected from those states that preferred to maintain a friendly relationship with Assyria while aggressive action was taken against those who demurred. The local states made some efforts to confront the Assyrian army and were successful to a certain degree. On several occasions the Assyrians avoided staging a major siege of heavily fortified cities and chose to move on to other objectives.

 On the thirteenth of Ayyaru (c. April_May), Shalmaneser departed from Nineveh, crossed the Tigris, and traversed the mountains of Ùasamu and Di≈nunu. Ùasamu is to be sought between Shubat-Enlil (Tell Leilân) and Ùarran, not far from the latter (Hallo 1964:60, 63_64); probably Óasm¥ ·ûrœ (Astour 1995; Parpola and Porter 2001:10, Map 3, C-3). Mount Di≈nunu may be closer to Ùarran, if not west of it. Thus, in all probability, the Assyrian army took the central road passing the upper Ùabur to the Ùarran region. Shalmaneser found B¥t-Adini and other states in Syria opposing him, though they previously had been subjugated by his father.

 The king's first target in B¥t-Adini territory was the town of La’la’te which was found deserted and was destroyed. From La’la’te, the army approached Til-Barsip (modern Tell A˙mar), “the fortified city” of A≈uni, the “son of Adini.” When A≈uni challenged Shalmaneser to an open battle, the Assyrians defeated his forces and trapped A≈uni in the city, but A≈uni escaped consequences of the Assyrian siege of Til-Barsip. This is one of many examples when the Assyrian army did not waste time besieging a well-fortified city like Til-Barsip. Instead they continued their march in search of easier prey.

 The next objective was another city of A≈uni, viz. Burmar’œna/Burmaranna (Tell Shiyûkh Fawqân¥), on the east bank of the Euphrates, c. 9 miles (15 km) north of Til-Barsip (Tell A˙mar) and c. 3 miles (5 km) south of Carchemish. This was apparently an Aramean site as indicated by the name, “The Well of our Lord.” The passage describing the next stage of the campaign deserves careful attention (Yamada 2000a:90).

During my progress, I received the tribute of Ùabini of the city Til-abni, of Ga’una of the city Sarug, and of Giri-Adad of the city Immerina. . . . I departed from Burmar’œna, crossed the Euphrates in boats made of goat skins. I received the tribute of Qatazili of the land of Kummu≈. . . . I drew near to Paqarru≈buni (and other) cities of A≈uni of B¥t-Adini on the other side of the Euphrates. I accomplished the defeat of his land, devastated his cities, and filled the wide field with the corpses of his troops. I felled 1,300 of their troops by weapons. From Paqarru≈buni, I departed (and) approached the cities of Mutalli of Gurgum.

 It would seem that Shalmaneser received the tribute of all the three cities sometime after the conquest of Burmar’œna on the way to the crossing of the Euphrates. Sarug is to be sought on the Seru Plain, which stretches southward from the modern town of Serûj (Schiffer 1911:64; Kessler 1980:197_200). Giri-Adad was the ruler of Immer¥na, included in the land of Aßßu on the east bank of the Euphrates north of modern Urfa. Til-abni must also have been north of B¥t-Adini, in the vicinity of Sarug and Immer¥na. Evidently, Shalmaneser avoided crossing the Euphrates into the hostile land of Carchemish; instead he chose a more northerly crossing point, opposite the friendly territory of Kummu≈, along the Euphrates north of Carchemish. 

 After crossing the Euphrates and receiving the tribute of Kummu≈, the Assyrians approached their next target, “the city/land of Paqarru≈buni, viz. cities of A≈uni, son of Adini, on that side of the Euphrates” (cf. Yamada 2000a:93). The kingdom of Kummu≈ stayed out of the anti-Assyrian coalition and let Shalmaneser's army pass through its territory. Paqarru≈buni was a district as well as a city, bordering the kingdoms of Kummu≈ and Gurgum. It probably lay in the mountainous terrain stretching to the north of Gaziantep (Hulin 1963:61).

 The district of Paqarru≈buni had a special strategic importance since it gave B¥t-Adini direct contact with its northern neighbors, e.g. Kummu≈, Gurgum and Sam’al.

 After breaking through the district of Paqarru≈buni, the Assyrians approached the cities of Gurgum on the MaraÀ Plain. Mutalli, the ruler there, offered tribute of “silver, gold, oxen, sheep, wine, and his daughter with her very large dowry.” The offer of a princess showed that Gurgum was acquiescing to the Assyrian penetration into the region.

 After leaving Gurgum, Shalmaneser approached Lutibu, the “fortified city” of Óayyœnu, ruler of Sam’al. This was a small kingdom named after its capital city (Zençirli), guarding the eastern exit of the main pass through the Amanus range. At Lutibu Shalmaneser was confronted by a coalition of four north Syrian rulers: Óayyœnu of Sam’al, Sapalulme of Pattin, A≈uni of B¥t-Adini and Sangara of Carchemish. Lutibu should be located east of the Amanus ridge, not far from Zençirli. It has generally been identified with Sak~agzii, 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Zençirli (Sader 1987:173 n. 57), but another possibility is Yesemek, located 15.5 miles (25 km) south-southeast of Zençirli (Hawkins 1982:377).

 Typically, Shalmaneser claims a victory at Lutibu, with the slaughter of enemy troops and the destruction of many “cities” which are probably just the villages in the vicinity of Lutibu. But it is clear that the “victory” was limited because the Syrian leaders survived to fight another day at Alimush (see below). Furthermore, it is not claimed that the fortified city of Lutibu was actually conquered. After the battle, Shalmaneser says he set up his royal image “at the source of the Saluara River which is at the foot of Mount Amanus.” The river may be identified with the modern Karasu.

 Upon leaving Mount Amanus Shalmaneser crossed the Orontes River (Arantu) and approached Alimush, the “fortified city” of Sapalulme of Pattin, where Shalmaneser again met the allied forces. The Neo-Hittite state of Pat(t)in (also known by its alternative name Unqi, Aramaic ‘mq, “valley, plain”) was situated in the Amuq valley, extending along the eastern foot of the Amanus range (Yamada 2000a:95). The Assyrians seem to have advanced along the Amanus, passing west of Kinal∑a/Kullan¥a (Tell Ta‘y¥nât; biblical Calneh [Amos 6:2]; Calno [Isa 10:9]), the capital of Pat(t)in, and crossed the Orontes near modern Antakia to reach Alimush.

 Sapalulme is said to have gathered military aid from neighboring princes. The allied forces, which fought in the former battle at Lutibu (Sam’al, Pat[t]in, B¥t-Adini and Carchemish) had regrouped and were reinforced by the participation of four more rulers: Kate(a) of Que, Pi≈irim of Ùiluka, Bur-Anate of Yasbuq and Adanu of Ya≈an.

 It is obvious that all the leading members of the anti-Assyrian coalition had planned their coordinated efforts before the arrival of the Assyrian army in the heart of Syria. They attempted to block Shalmaneser's force at strategic points, first at Lutibu close to the junction of the roads leading to Cilicia in the west and to the valley along the Amanus in the south, and then at Alimush, the fortress at the important ford of the Orontes.

 At this point two well-known southern Anatolian states joined the coalition: Que and Ùiluka. Que is located on the Cilician Plain. Ùiluka is attested as Ùilakku in later Assyrian documents; it is located in the general region of Toros Da©lari and may be located close to Pat(t)in, which, at that time, extended as far as Ùazazu. As for Yasbuq, it was evidently an Aramean state, to judge by the Aramaic name of the ruler, Bur-Anate, i.e. “son of the goddess Anat.” Adanu was apparently a commander un-der Arame, the king of B¥t-Ag∑si (Yamada 2000a:98). 

 Shalmaneser seems to have defeated the allies at Alimush, conquered the city, and caused a vast number of casualties and loss of military equipment. Bur-Anate of Yasbuq was also captured. Then Shalmaneser conquered some fortified places of Pat(t)in after which he went down to “the Sea of the Setting Sun,” i.e. the Mediterranean. He conducted the ceremonial washing of his weapons in the sea, made offerings to his gods, and also established his royal image on the seashore. He probably reached the seashore at the mouth of the Orontes near Jebel ‘Aqra (Mons Cassius) or else at the coastal plain of Latakia. The Phoenician cities sent him their tribute.

 On his return from the sea, Shalmaneser ascended Mt. Amanus, where he cut down cedar and juniper trees. Then he ascended Mt. Atalur, and set up his image beside that of Anum-≈irbe.

 After all this, he conquered Taya (and) Ùazazu, and Urime, the fortified city of Lubarna, king of Pat(t)in. Here he received the tribute of Arame “son of Gusi,” whose territory was centered around Ùalab (Aleppo) and Arpad (Tell Rif‘at). This latter must have relented from his cooperation with the anti-Assyrian coalition.

 In his second regnal year (857 bce), of which Shalmaneser himself was the eponym, the king marched forth once again to continue his war in the west (Yamada 2000a:114_120). This time, the main objectives were the towns of Til-Barsip (Tell A≈mar) and Carchemish. Til-Barsip itself was the first target and, as in the previous campaign, A≈uni came forth to engage the Assyrians in the open field. Naturally, Shalmaneser claims victory, and A≈uni is said to have retreated to his stronghold. The textual description is like that from the previous campaign. Here the narratives can be supplemented by a note found preceding the campaign of the fourth year (Yamada 2000a:114).

As for A≈uni son of Adini who, since (the time of) the kings, my fathers, had continually behaved with obstinate force, in the beginning of my reign in the year named after me (= Year 2), I departed from Nineveh; I attacked Til-Barsip, his fortified city; I had my warriors surround it; I conducted battle in it; I cut down its orchard; I rained fiery arrows on it. Before the glint of my weapons, the splendor of my lordship. he became afraid and he and abandoned his city. He crossed the Euphrates to save his life.                               (Grayson 1996:21 = Kurkh Stele II, 66_69)

 Shalmaneser may have left troops encircling the city but he himself seems to have led a major part of his army across the Euphrates where he proceeded to conquer six fortified cities of A≈uni viz. [. . .] -x-ga-a, Tagi, S∑runu, Parlpa, Tilbaßere, and Dabigu. The latter is identified with Dabiq on the upper Quweiq River, 8 miles (13 km) east of Azaz and 7 miles (11 km) east-northeast of Arpad (Tell Rif‘at). Til-bashere is Tell Bashîr, on the western bank of the Sajur River, 12.5 miles (20 km) southeast of Gaziantep. S∑runu is most likely Saruna, probably Sarin, 9 miles (15 km) southeast of Gaziantep (Yamada 2000a:115). 

 At Dabigu he received the tribute of Qal-parunda, ruler of Unqi (= Pattin), Mutalli, ruler of Gurgum, Óayyœnu, ruler of Sam’al, and Arame, ruler of B¥t-Agusi. Sangara continued to remain hostile so Shalmaneser then turned against one of the fortified cities of Carchemish, viz. Sazabe, on the west bank of the Euphrates between Carchemish and Til-Barsip.

 Departing from Dabigu, Shalmaneser's forces approached Sazabe, an important fortified city of Sangara, ruler of Carchemish. Sazabe was conquered with heavy losses to the enemy and much booty taken. Sazabe may be the town called Shadabu in Syriac sources about 7 miles (11 km) south of Carchemish (Kraeling 1918:60). After this demonstration of Assyrian power, the ruler of Carchemish finally saw fit to send his tribute, thus avoiding an attack on his principal city.

 So several of the states that had banded together against Shalmaneser on the previous campaign, now sent tribute. Other states that had already concluded that it was in their best interest to appease the aggressor, such as Kummu≈, also paid up. So Shalmaneser seems to have cowed all of the leading north Syrian states. Only B¥t- Adini remained recalcitrant and its chief city, Til-Barsip, remained under prolonged siege.

 In his third regnal year (856 bce) Shalmaneser again went forth from Nineveh on the thirteenth of Ayyaru. This time he made straight for Til-Barsip where his troops had apparently conquered the city (Yamada 2000a:123_126). The surrounding region was also subjugated. He declared the name of Til-Barsip to be Kœr-Shalmaneser, Nappigi to be L¥ta-Ashur, Alligu to be Aßbat-lakunu, Ruguliti to be Qibit-[Ashur]. In each one he commanded the settlement of Assyrian people and established official residences. Two other places, Pitru and Mukt¥nu, which had formerly been occupied by previous kings but later taken over by Arameans, were also restored. While Shalmaneser was at Til-Barsip, now called Kœr-Shalmaneser, he received the tribute of the north Syrian states “on the sea shore and on the banks of the Euphrates” (Grayson 1996:19 = Kurkh Monolith II, 35_40). So now all the north Syrian states acknowledged his supremacy. Only the fugitive, A≈uni, remained to be dealt with.

 But the king was in a hurry to initiate a new campaign against his northern neighbor, Urartu. So he marched off in that direction.

 It was during the campaign of the fourth year that Shalmaneser finally settled his account with A≈uni. Some time between the late summer of 857 and the early spring of 856 bce, A≈uni had abandoned Til-Barsip and fled to the western side of the Euphrates, leaving Til-Barsip to its fate. A≈uni established his redoubt at a fortress called Sh¥tamrat, “a mountain peak on the bank of the Euphrates, which is suspended from the sky like a cloud” (Grayson 1996:21_22; Kurkh II, 69_70). On the Kenk Gorge (on the west bank of the Euphrates, 37 miles [60 km] northeast of Gaziantep), there was discovered a relief depicting Shalmaneser III with an inscription recounting his final defeat of A≈uni (TaÀyürek 1979; Grayson 1996:90_91). That display monument probably indicates the crossing point where the Assyrian army passed after the conquest of Sh¥tamrat. So the site of A≈uni's fortress lair should be sought on the mountain ridge west of the Kenk Gorge. 

For three days the hero (= the king) explored the mountain. His proud heart yearned for battle. He climbed up (the mountain) and trampled (it) down with his feet. A≈uni trusted in his numerous troops and sallied forth against me. He drew up the battle line. I hurled the weapon of Ashur, my lord, against them; I accomplished their defeat; I cut off the heads of his warriors. With the blood of his fighters, I colored the mountain. Droves of his (men) were falling off the cliffs of the mountain. I conducted a fierce battle in the midst of his city. Fear of the splendor of the god Ashur, my lord, overwhelmed them. They came down to me, and seized my feet. I brought A≈uni before me, with his armies, (his) chariots, his cavalry, and extensive property of his palace, the weight of which could not be counted. I . . . brought (them) to my city Ashur, and reckoned them as the people of my land.

(Grayson 1996:22; Kurkh II 66_75)

 The defeat of A≈uni marked the end of B¥t-Adini as a political entity. Its name indicated that it had been founded by an eponymous leader of Aramean origin. However, excavations at the site of Til-Barsip (Tell A≈mar) produced mainly Neo-Hittite inscriptions and artifacts (Dorneman 1997b). The Luwian hieroglyphic inscriptions showed that the Luwian name of the city was Masuwari, and permitted the reconstruction of a line of five Neo-Hittite kings who probably ruled the city before the Assyrian occupation (Hawkins 1983). Therefore, it can be seen that the political state of B¥t-Adini, with its Aramean tribal tradition, also encompassed Neo-Hittite urban entities. It was truly a symbiosis of the two great cultural elements in North Syria.

 In his fifth regnal year (854 bce), Shalmaneser III conducted a campaign up the course of the Tigris against Shubria by way of the Kashiyari Mountains. The great campaign of his sixth regnal year, in which he confronted a coalition of central and southern Syrian states, will be discussed below as will the other western campaigns of this powerful monarch. 


After the campaign of Shoshenq there was no further military activity on the part of the pharaohs of Dynasty XXII in the Levant except perhaps for a contingent dispatched in 853 bce in support of the southern coalition of states that sought to oppose Shalmaneser III (cf. discussion infra). In the previous chapter it was mentioned that Shoshenq and his son Osorkon I each sent a personal statue to Byblos. That the Egyptians were contributors to the maritime trade being conducted by the Phoenicians is attested by artifacts found throughout the Mediterranean world. But it seems unlikely that Egyptian merchant ships were competing with their Levantine neighbors.

 Throughout the tenure of this dynasty each ruler had to devote his energies to keeping the country from fragmenting. There was frequent pressure from the main religious centers, especially No-amon, where priestly families vied for power and influence (Edwards 1982:549_562; Kitchen 1986:302_347). 


Contacts with the Assyrians on the one hand and the Egyptians on the other have been mentioned in the preceding sections. The king list, mainly preserved by Menander of Ephesus, who had access to Phoenician sources, gives a number of Tyrian kings from the ninth century bce (Apion I, 121_125; cf. Peckham 1992:357).

‘Aßtartrœm 890

Pilles 880

’Ittôba‘al I 880

Ba‘al-azor II 850

Mattan I 840

Pygmalion 830

During the period when Tyre was the senior of the Phoenician cities, their kings could bear the title, “King of the Sidonians (= Phoenicians)” (1 Kgs 16:31).

 The founding of Carthage (*Qart Óadßt = “New City”) is credited in the ancient sources (Greek) to Tyre and the date given is in terms of the number of years before the first Olympiad, viz. 814/813 bce. Presumably this was in the reign of Pygmalion (*Pum-yatºn).

 The links between Tyre and Israel during the reign of ’Ittôba‘al I will be discussed below. 

 Generally, the Phoenician cities chose to pay tribute to the Assyrian kings whenever it was demanded. At the battle of Qarqar, when the southern coalition made a stand against Shalmaneser III, there may have been a Byblian contingent fighting on the side of the coalition. But that is not certain. The Tyrians and Sidonians much preferred to protect their commercial interests between the Mediterranean and inland western Asia and in any case, their own military resources would have been limited.


The kingdoms of Israel and Judah continue their respective dynastic successions. There were changes in dynasty in the north but the same House of David continues to rule in the south.


Israel. The son of Jeroboam, Nadab, succeeded his father in 910/909 bce, in the second year of Asa (non-accession year reckoning; actual first official accession year reckoning) and reigned one actual year (1 Kgs 15:25; officially two years, non-accession year reckoning; Thiele 1983:7) until his murder in 909/908 bce by his army commander, Baasha, while the Israelite army was engaged in the siege of Gibbethon (1 Kgs 15:27). Baasha was the son of Ahijah of the tribe of Issachar and of common birth (1 Kgs 16:2). The conflict with the Philistines at Gibbethon indicates that the two antagonists were vying for control of the “corridor” between Joppa and Beth-horon and essentially the territory assigned by the Book of Joshua as the “Inheritance of Dan.” The issue was not resolved at this time and the conflict raged again during the latter days of Baasha's reign (1 Kgs 16:15).

 Two sites have been suggested for Gibbethon. The first was Tell Melât (Tel Malot; von Rad 1933: 30_42). Tell Melât is located near the eastern boundary of the inner coastal plain only 12.5 miles (20 km) from the Mediterranean, and 4.5 miles (7 km) south of modern Ramla. Tell Gezer sits boldly and alone on the horizon to its east. Surveys and trial probes at Tell Melât have yielded EB, MB, LB, Iron I, Iron II, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, and Arab materials. The ninth and eighth centuries bce were well represented.

 The second proposed site for Gibbethon is Râs Ab∑ Óumeid (Óamîd), located 2 miles (3 km) southeast of Ramla and 4 miles (6 km) northwest of Gezer (Kallai apud Mazar 1951). The two contexts dealing with the conflict between Philistia and Israel indicate that Gibbethon must be located facing Ekron and although the original argument (von Rad 1933) was made when it was thought that Ekron was at ‘Aqir, the newly confirmed location of Ekron (Kh. el-Muqanna‘ = Tel Miqne) still leaves Tell Melât as the best site to fulfill that requirement. 

 Baasha exterminated all the members of the Jeroboam family so as to eliminate any rival claimants to the throne (1 Kgs 15:29). He reigned for twenty-four official years (non-accession year dating), actually twenty-three years (accession year dating). It was in Asa's actual twenty-fifth year (accession year dating), viz. 894 bce, that Baasha's son Elah succeeded him (1 Kgs 16:8; Thiele 1983:88). The only further details of Baasha's reign have to do with his conflict with Asa and the subsequent loss of his northern territories (discussed below).


Judah. In the twentieth year (Judean accession year reckoning) of Jeroboam I of Israel, Asa succeeded his father Abijah/Abijam (1 Kgs 15:9) and ruled forty-one actual years until 869 bce. He is given special attention in the historical records, especially in Chronicles (2 Chr 14:1_4) because he is said to have discontinued worship at “the foreign altars and high places.” This, of course, means that he was giving strong support to the Jerusalem temple establishment, which is a central concern of the Deuteronomistic history and also of the Chronicler. On the other hand, Asa did not just close down local cult places; he established royal centers in those same towns by means of a public program of fortifications, which incidentally must have provided employment for the local populations (in the off season of agricultural activity) under the supervision of newly appointed royal administrators (…arê he‘œrîm), of course.

He built fortified cities in Judah, since the land was undisturbed, and there was no one at war with him during those years, because YHWH had given him rest. So he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and encompass (them) with walls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still before us because we have sought YHWH our God; we sought (Him), and He has let us have respite on every side.” So they built and prospered.                   (1 Chr 14:5_6)

 The most memorable event of Asa's reign was the repulsion of an attempted invasion of Judah by a foreign force. This is the account, preserved only in Chronicles, of Zerah the Cushite (2 Chr 14:9_15 [HMT 14:8_14). A central question is the identity of the invader and his origin. Because of a prophetic allusion to Libyans, it is assumed that the Cushites in this passage were Nubians:

Were not the Cushites and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on YHWH, He delivered them into your hand.

(2 Chr 16:8)

 The Septuagint renders oi˚ Ai˙qi÷opeß kai« Li÷bueß, “the Ethiopians and Libyans,” and this reflects the interpretation of the early Hellenistic age. But in the actual battle account, no Libyans are mentioned, only הַכּוּשִׁים, “the Cushites” (2 Chr 14:11 [Eng. 14:12]). It will be seen below that the account as a whole incorporates many legendary accretions; so the reference to Libyans is probably one of those. The later editor (the Chronicler?) misunderstood the meaning of “Cushite” in this context.

Then Zerah the Cushite came forth against them with an army of a thousand thousands and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah.                 (2 Chr 14:8 [Eng 14:9])

 Such a vast army as a million men is obviously a historiographic hyperbole typical of battle accounts in all periods of the Ancient Near East and also of the Aegean world. No amount of special pleading or hermeneutical casuistry can rescue this blatant exaggeration. Nevertheless, the geographical framework of the initial clash and of the subsequent follow-up have the ring of authenticity. Furthermore, the ensuing developments in Judah and between Judah and Israel point to a historical event that triggered the process.

Now Zerah the Cushite came out against them . . . and he came to Mareshah. So Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up in battle formation in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.                                             (2 Chr 14:8_9 [Eng 1:9_10])

 Instead of the mysterious “valley of Zephathah,” the Septuagint reads e˙n thvØ fa¿raggi kata» borra◊n Marishß “the valley to the north of Mareshah.” This reading is based on an original Hebrew צָפׂנָה לְמָרֵשָׁה* which makes much more sense geographically. The battle must have taken place in the valley to the northwest of Mareshah, i.e. in the course of Wâd¥ Zeitœ (Na˙al Guvrin). 

 The invaders were overwhelmed and driven back:

Then YHWH routed the Cushites before Asa and before Judah, and the Cushites fled. So Asa and the people with him pursued them as far as Gerar; and so many of the Cushites felt that they had no survival, for they were devastated before YHWH and before His army. So they carried away very much spoil. And they smote all the towns (הֶעָרִים) around Gerar because the dread of YHWH had fallen on them; and they despoiled all the cities (הֶעָרִים), for there was much spoil in them. And they also smote the tents of the livestock breeders, and they captured much small cattle and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.            (2 Chr 14:11_14 [Eng 12_15])

 Without the suspicious reference to Libyans in 2 Chr 16:8 and the totally fantastic numbers of troops, the battle narrative makes coherent sense. The leader of the invaders, Zerah, has a perfectly good Semitic name (Knauf 1992b). It is most likely that this Zerah was a member of the Cushite tribe from the northern Hejaz (2 Chr 21:16; Num 12:1), also called Cushan (Hab 3:7). These people would have had a special interest in supporting the Philistines against Judah in order to prevent the latter from interfering in the caravan trade from Arabia to the coast (a recurring theme that will appear repeatedly in subsequent events). Asa had built many fortified cities and those in the south would have provided supplies for passing caravans but the garrisons would have also exacted heavy payments for the right of passage. It would have been impractical for Asa to pursue the invaders across the Arabah to their homeland but he could punish severely the occupants of the western Negeb (the Hamites in origin; 1 Chr 4:39_40) who had undoubtedly provided logistic assistance for the invaders. The attempt to penetrate Judah by way of the Mareshah approach was aimed at crippling Judah's defenses and opening a way to the interior for murder and plunder.

 The ensuing celebrations in honor of the great victory took place in the fifteenth year of Asa (2 Chr 15:10), i.e. 895 bce. So, making allowance for the cultic and religious reforms inaugurated after the victory, it is obvious that the battle must have taken place late in 896 bce. The references to the thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth years of Asa's reign (2 Chr 15:9_16:1) have to reflect a reckoning from the division of the monarchy (Thiele 1983:83_86; Williamson 1982:256; De Vries 1962:587b, 590a_591a; contra Dillard 1980). The proof of this contention is the fact that Baasha could not have attacked Asa in the latter's thirty-sixth year because Baasha had died in Asa's twenty-sixth year (2 Kgs 16:8; non-accession year reckoning in Israel; actually in the twenty-fifth year in accession year reckoning in Judah). The reckoning from the founding of the southern dynasty was soon abandoned but the Chronicler incorporated these two dates, perhaps because he linked them somehow with the genuine allusion to the thirty-ninth year of Asa as the beginning of his illness (2 Chr 16:11). During Asa's reign there had not been any hostilities until the thirty-fifth year of the kingdom of Judah which was actually the fifteenth year of Asa (2 Chr 15:10). The statement in 2 Chronicles 15:19 with a fronted nominal subject and the suffix verb, is a typical expression of the “anterior construction” (Zevit 1998:15_16; cf. discussion below). During that time, Asa had been building up the defenses of his kingdom.

 The military success against Zerah the Cushite apparently earned great notoriety for Asa so he attracted many people from the northern kingdom of Israel:

And when Asa heard these words and the prophecy which Azariah the son of Oded the prophet spoke, he gathered strength and took away the detestable things from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns which he had captured in the Hill Country of Ephraim. He then restored the altar of YHWH which was in front of the vestibule of YHWH. 

 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin and those from Ephraim, Manasseh and from Simeon (שִּׁמְעוֹן = LXX Sumewn) who resided with them, for many defected to him from Israel when they saw that YHWH his God was with him. So they assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa's reign.      (2 Chr 15:8_10)

 The Simeon here is not the tribe settled in southern Judah. Rather, it is the town of Simeon (Josh 11:1, 12:20, 19:15; LXX Sumown instead of MT שִׁמְרוֹן) on the northwestern side of the Great Plain (Rainey 1981b:149_150; cf. Rainey 1976g). After Megiddo had been destroyed by Shishak back in 925 bce, it was not immediately reconstituted so that Shim‘ôn/Simeon (alias Shôm‹rôn) evidently became the main center for the indigenous population. In Josiah's day, Íim‘ôn appears again in a similar context (2 Chr 34:6) when Megiddo was an Assyrian administrative center.

 Asa was thus enjoying great prestige in both Judah and Benjamin and the neighboring districts of Israel. The enhanced status found expression in new treaty arrangements between the people and the king with their God and with each other (2 Chr 15:1_15). On that basis, he had the political clout needed to carry out his cultic reforms throughout the kingdom, and even in the royal family, in favor of the Jerusalem religious establishment (2 Chr 15:16_18). This entailed the transfer of considerable material wealth from the monarchy to the temple.

 Asa's enhanced reputation posed a threat to the northern kingdom. It is no surprise that the neighboring king, Baasha, whose rule was based on assassination of the scion of a popular royal family, felt compelled to take steps to prohibit the traffic from Israel to Jerusalem.

 Shortly afterward comes the passage about Baasha's military action against Asa:

And there had been no war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa's reign. In the thirty-sixth year of the kingdom of Asa, Baasha, king of Israel, came against Judah and built Ramah (הָרָמָה) to prevent anyone from going or coming to Asa, king of Judah.                              (2 Chr 15:19_16:1 || 1 Kgs 16:17)

 The sentence, וּמִלְחָמָה לאׁ הָיָתָה עַד שְנַת-שׁלשִׁׂים וְחָמֵשׁ לְמַלְכוּת אָסַא (2 Chr 15:19), with the subject fronted and the suffix conjugation verb, is a typical format for the pluperfect (e.g. Gen 31:34; Kutscher 1982:44; Joüon and Muraoka 1991:390_391; Zevit 1998:115_116). Therefore, it should be rendered, “There had not been war until the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Asa.” As stressed above, this is in reality the fifteenth year of Asa when Zerah's invasion actually occurred. The syntax further confirms that view. On the other hand, that gloss in Chronicles seems to be contradicted by the Deuteronomist who records that there was war between Baasha and Asa all their days (1 Kgs 15:16). There is seen an allusion to towns in Mt. Ephraim that had been captured by Asa (2 Chr 15:8). So to give any credence to 2 Chronicles 15:19, it must be assumed that the intention was to say that there had never before been an attempt to invade Judean territory from outside.

 The 1 Kings description of Baasha's military move into central Benjaminite territory (1 Kgs 16:17) appears in the Deuteronomistic narrative like a bolt from the blue (Rainey 1997:56_57) with no obvious rationale. But against the background of 2 Chronicles 15:8_9 it makes perfect sense (Rainey 1997:44_46). The usurpation of the throne in Israel by Baasha (909/908 bce) and the systematic extermination by him of the remaining members of the family of Jeroboam I (2 Kgs 15:29) must have created considerable unrest in the northern kingdom. Furthermore, the military conflict with the Philistines centered at Gibbethon when Baasha came to power (1 Kgs 15:27) was apparently still unresolved and a draining of assets may have remained so until the end of Baasha's reign in 885 bce (1 Kgs 16:15). Therefore, it is not surprising that many people of the north would be attracted to Asa because of his successes, both in the direct border conflicts with Israel and in his victory over Zerah. Asa looked like a winner; Baasha looked like a loser.

 The passage in Chronicles is slightly condensed (a word here and there) from the Kings account but the parallel accounts are essentially identical. The Kings version is given here with the addition of the chronological note about the thirty-sixth year (actually it was the sixteenth year of Asa, i.e. 895 bce), an obvious addition of the Chronicler.

There was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days. 

 In the third year of Asa king of Judah (909 bce), Baasha the son of Ahijah became king over all Israel at Tirzah, twenty-four years. 

 [In the thirty-sixth year of Asa's reign,] Baasha king of Israel attacked Judah and fortified Ramah (הָרָמָה) in order to prevent them from going out or coming in to Asa king of Judah.                                                              (1 Kgs 15:16_17)

 At this point, Asa turned to diplomacy in order to remove the Israelite threat.

Then Asa took all the silver and the gold which were left in the treasuries of the house of YHWH and the treasuries of the king's house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants. And King Asa sent them to Ben-hadad the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Aram, who lived in Damascus (דַמֶּשֶׂק), saying, “May there be a treaty between you and me, just as between my father and your father. Behold, I have sent you a present of silver and gold; go, break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so that he will withdraw from me.”                    (1 Kgs 15:18_19)

 Emptying the treasure houses, not only of the palace but also of the temple, must have angered the priests and prophets of the Jerusalem religious establishment, which led to a prophetic rebuke and a resulting estrangement between the crown and the miter as recorded in Chronicles (2 Chr 16:9_10).

 The strategic result of the treaty with Ben-hadad was the invasion of northern Israel by the Arameans:

So Ben-hadad heeded King Asa and sent the army commanders against the cities of Israel, and conquered Ijon (עִיּוֹן), Dan (דָּן), Abel-beth-maacah (אָבֵל בֵּית-מַעֲכָה) and all Chinneroth (כִּנְרוֹת), including all the land of Naphtali (אֶרֶץ נַפְתָּלִי).                                           (1 Kgs 15:20 || 2 Chr 16:4)

 This diversion caused Baasha to withdraw his forces from Ramah. Henceforth he ruled what territory was still under his control from Tirzah (probably Tell el-Far‘ah North) at the head of the Wâd¥ Far‘ah (de Vaux 1950; Albright 1931).

When Baasha heard (about it), he gave up the construction work on Ramah and remained in Tirzah.

(1 Kgs 15:22 || 2 Chr 16:5)

 Asa was then able to assemble his manpower and dismantle the fortifications of Ramah.

Then King Asa made a proclamation to all Judah—none was exempt—and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber with which Baasha had built. And King Asa built with them Geba (גֶּבַע) of Benjamin and Mizpah (מִּצְפָּה).                                                   (1 Kgs 15:22 || 2 Chr 16:1_6)

 He then built alternative strong points: Geba (modern Jeba‘) guarding the important pass over which the eastern road along the edge of the wilderness has to cross, and Mizpah (evidently Tell en-Na∆beh), on the watershed road (Jud 21:19) facing northwards towards Bethel. Henceforth, the recognized border between the two kingdoms was established between Bethel and Mizpah, i.e. on the ridge occupied by modern-day Ramallah and el-Bîrah.


The Omride Dynasty. The Internal Political Struggle. The year 886/885 bce found Israel still engaged with the Philistines at Gibbethon. The strain of that conflict and the alienation of Baasha and his family from the people sowed the seeds of discontent. Elah, son of Baasha, succeeded his father in the twenty-sixth year of Asa according to the non-accession system being used in Israel (1 Kgs 16:8_14; Thiele 1983:88). His official reign of two years was therefore only one real year. Elah seems to have preferred to stay at home while his generals conducted the war at Gibbethon. One gets the impression that Elah was a hero of the banquet table; while he was thoroughly inebriated, the commander of half the chariot force, Zimri, carried out an assassination plot and seized the throne. However, Zimri's coup lasted only eight days because when word of his conspiracy reached the army encamped against Gibbethon, the people crowned their senior army commander, Omri, who promptly rushed to the capital with a sufficient military force to establish a siege. Zimri saw that the jig was up and committed suicide by burning down the palace over his head. 

In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned seven days at Tirzah.                              (1 Kgs 16:15a)

 This twenty-seventh year was a non-accession year; the actual year (accession year system) was the twenty-sixth, 885 bce.

 There ensued a civil war between two factions. Half of the people supported a certain Tibni son of Ginath as a rival to Omri (whose patronymic is never given).

Then the people of Israel were divided in half: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king; the (other) half followed Omri. But the people who followed Omri prevailed over those who followed Tibni the son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri became king.

(1 Kgs 16:21_22)

 The inauguration passage for Omri makes it clear that this internal conflict lasted for five actual (six official non-accession) years:

In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king over Israel (and reigned) twelve years; he reigned six years at Tirzah.                                                     (1 Kgs 16:23)

 The conflict had begun in 885 bce, Asa's twenty-fifth actual year (accession reckoning) and ended in 880 bce, Asa's actual thirtieth (accession system) year; these are called Asa's twenty-sixth and thirty-first years (non-accession system used in Israel), respectively. It had lasted about five actual years. It was in the thirty-first (actual thirtieth) year of Asa that Omri became sole ruler. His total years of reign were twelve (non-accession system), actually eleven (accession year system) from 885 to 874 bce when Ahab became king in Asa's thirty-eighth (actual thirty-seventh) year (1 Kgs 16:29). As for Omri, his first six (actually five) years were spent ruling from Tirzah while contending with Tibni.

 Throughout this time, the fate of the conquered territories in Galilee and Chinneroth is not known. Were these the towns mentioned later by Ben-hadad when he surrendered to Ahab (1 Kgs 20:34)? Or did Damascus take advantage of the internal strife in Israel to occupy further towns in Transjordan? Whatever the answer, the Damascus aggression against Omri must have taken place before he had achieved sole rule (contra Pitard 1987:116).

Political/Military Program. Once Omri found himself freed from the burden of civil strife, he was able to address the more pressing issues of external conflict. Besides liberating the Galilean territories, a potential source of economic and military power would be control of Transjordan. But Damascus had arisen as a major player on the local scene and she, too, shared the lust for wealth that could accrue from domination of the Transjordanian highways and their connections with Arabia, both via Wâd¥ Sir˙ân and the Hejaz. Therefore, Omri launched a program of political, diplomatic and military action to prepare his nation for the showdown with Aram-Damascus. Although his reign is summarized in only five verses (1 Kgs 16:23_28), a great deal can be deduced from other sources to reveal the brilliant strategy of this ruler who became the eponymous founder of a new Israelite entity, still called in Assyrian sources “The Land of the House of Omri” (mœt b¥t ‘Omriya) a century later (under Tighlath-pileser III and Sargon II).


Choice of a New Capital. The first step was internal. He needed a new capital specifically linked to his new royal house.

He bought the hill Samaria (שׁׂמְרוֹן = to\ Semerwn) from Shemer (שֶׁמֶר = Semhr) for two talents of silver; and he built on the hill, and named the city which he built Samaria (שׁׂמְרוֹן = Saemhrwn), after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill.                    (1 Kgs 16:24)

 Both Shemer and Omri may be linked to the tribe of Issachar and Omri might have been acting as the redeemer of clan property (Mazar 1992:116_126). In any case, the new city would be royal property by purchase. The very fact of its being named Samaria (Heb. ßôm‹rôn) after the eponymous head of the occupying clan, is sufficient to prove that there must have been a settlement of some sort on the hill before Omri's purchase. Now it is clear that not just a village for oil production (Stager 1990) but also a walled enclosure and a significant public building existed on the site during the tenth century bce (Bornstein 2004:216; Tappy 1992:203_212; 2001:103, 136_143; contra Finkelstein 2000a:116), i.e. prior to Omri's purchase in the ninth century bce. 

 In fact, a site named for an eponym such as Shemer, should be expected to have built-up remains. The excavators in the Joint Expedition of the 1930s made the fatal mistake of misinterpreting 1 Kings 16:24; they thought the earliest major construction phase had to be in the ninth century bce. They should have assumed just the opposite. That hermeneutical error has caused needless misapprehensions in the archaeological interpretation of most northern Iron Age sites during the late twentieth century (Albright 1958). Only now have the true pre-Omride remains at Samaria been properly discerned and defined (Tappy 1992, 2001).


Political Alliances. The next step was to forge a treaty alliance with the kingdom of Tyre, the leading maritime commercial power at that time on the eastern Mediterranean seaboard. Evidence for the treaty is the marriage of Jezebel, the daughter of Ethobaal, king of Tyre, with Ahab, the son of Omri. The influence of that princess, later queen, is a major focus in the historiography of the Omride dynasty, especially in the “Elijah Cycle” of prophetic legends, but attention to the religious tensions she created has obscured the important political and economic factors in the alliance. Omri, as ruler of an inland state, was planning to become the chief outlet for Arabian products to the Phoenician coast. He would also provide foodstuffs for the Phoenician maritime population, thus obtaining a market for his agricultural surpluses. To fulfill these goals, Omri was compelled to contest the Aramean control of the vital arteries in Transjordan. Transjordan was also a significant source for small cattle whose hair and wool would be in demand for the textile industry of Phoenicia, itself a major production center for colored dyes (Bornstein 2004:000_000). Israel, in its turn, benefited from the architectural expertise of Phoenician artisans and craftsmen for the construction of cities and public buildings, as well as the production of specialty items such as decorative carved ivories. Tyre could also furnish many other imports from the Mediterranean world.

 The second treaty was with the kingdom of Judah. It was obvious that if Omri planned to take on the Arameans, he could not afford to have a hostile neighbor on his southern border. This new political alliance was also sealed by a royal marriage, viz. between Athaliah and Joram, the firstborn of Jehoshaphat, son of Asa. Because of an obscure allusion to Athaliah as “daughter of Ahab” (2 Kgs 8:18 = 2 Chr 21:6), it has been thought that the title “daughter of Omri” (2 Kgs 8:26 = 2 Chr 22:2) was somehow a generalization. However, it would appear that the “daughter of Ahab” epithet is an editorial value judgment on the part of the 

Deuteronomistic editor (Thiel 1993). Athaliah was a member of the “house(hold) of Ahab” after her father's death.

 Jehoram/Joram son of Jehoshaphat was only eleven years old when Omri died but Athaliah's age is unknown. Such royal marital unions were often arranged while the candidates were still in their minority, so there is no reason to doubt that the initiative could have been taken while Omri was still on the throne. If that were not the case, it would have made sense for Ahab to propose such a union in his own fourth year, when Jehoshaphat had become sole ruler of Judah and Jehoram was fifteen years old. The old king, Asa, had gone from the scene and his son could abandon his father's antagonism to Israel and practice a new realpolitik.


Military Action. The Bible says nothing about Omri making any military moves. Here is where an important extra-biblical source furnishes reliable details that illuminate Omri's strategy. It is the display inscription of Mesha‘ king of Moab (see Excursus 12.1).

Omr5i was king of Israel and he oppressed Moab many days because Chemosh was angry with his l6and. And his son replaced him and he also said, “I will oppress Moab. In my days he spoke {thus} 7but I was victorious over him and his house and Israel suffered everlasting destruction.

 (Mesha‘ Inscription ll. 4b_7a).

 Omri's first move was to seize Medeba (Heb. מֵידְבָא; Moabite מהדבא; modern Mâdabœ) and its environs, the land of Medeba. This gave him control of a centrally located town on the north-south highway and also the extensive agricultural resources that surrounded it. This move had to take place sometime after 880 bce when Omri was finally free of the civil war and could commit the resources needed for a Transjordanian campaign.

But Omri conquered the lan8d of Mehadeba and he dwelt there during his reign and half the reign of his son, forty years, but Chemosh 9returned it in my days.

(Mesha‘ Inscription ll. 7b_9a)

 Israel also renewed contact with the ancient tribe of Gad that had inhabited a particular area on the western ridges of the central tableland of northern Moab. Their principal town was Ataroth. Actually there are two towns with this name, Ataroth and Atroth-shophan (Num 32:35) and there are two antiquity sites that preserve their names. They are barely 2.5 miles (4 km) apart, Khirbet ‘Aªœrûz (Ataroth) and Rujm ‘Aªœrûz (Atroth-shophan), both located on the ridge route leading from Libb westward towards the Dead Sea (Tristram 1873:290). The building of Ataroth for the Gadites took place during the almost thirty years (represented by “forty years,” the round number for a generation in the Mesha‘ text, as in the Bible) during which Moab was subject to Israel.

The man of Gad had dwelt in ‘Aªarot (Ataroth) from of old and the king of Israel 11built ‘Aªarot (Ataroth) for him.                           (Mesha‘ Inscription ll. 10_11a)

 By this means, Omri had gained a firm footing in southern Transjordan and that enabled him to increase his support of the other Israelite tribes in Gilead, thus opening the way to divert Arabian caravans from Damascus to Israel, and on to Phoenicia, mainly via Beth-shean. Wool and goat hair from the large flocks of Moab and Gilead could be furnished to the Phoenicians who were manufacturing the colored dyes needed for a rich textile industry.


Ahab Succeeds His Father. Omri died and was succeeded by his son, Ahab, in the thirty-eighth year of Asa (1 Kgs 16:29). That was according to the non-accession year reckoning so for Asa it was actually in his thirty-seventh year in (874/873 bce). Ahab's twenty-two official years were only twenty-one actual years. 


Internal Policies. The ancient histriographers remembered the reign of Ahab as one of the worst periods of monarchial abuse in the history of ancient Israel (e.g. 2 Kgs 21:3). But this was the view of the Deuteronomist, a Judean writer. In Israel, Ahab aroused the ire of the prophetic circle led by Elijah and negative stories from the “Elijah cycle” form a major portion of the textual material included in the Deuteronomistic history (1 Kgs). In spite of all the negative hype, it is recorded that in the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel one would find an account of Ahab's building projects, viz. a “House of Ivory” (בֵּית הַשֵּׁן), evidently his royal palace in Samaria, and other cities which he built (1 Kgs 22:39). Some of his fortification projects were probably in northern Moab as described in the Mesha‘ inscription (cf. Excursus 12.1, infra).


Introduction of Baal Worship. Ahab introduced official Baal worship to his capital city establishing a sacrificial altar (מִזְבֵּחַ לַבָּעַל) at the “house of Baal” (בֵּית הַבַּעַל) which he built in Samaria (1 Kgs 16:31_33). It should be remembered, nevertheless, that Ahab's sons, born to Jezebel, both had Yahwistic names and he continued the maintenance of the two national Yahwistic shrines at Dan and Bethel. The temple of Baal (and Asherah) in the capital city of Samaria, was a financial as well as a religious institution and represented the close commercial ties between the kingdoms of Tyre and Israel.

 Early in his reign there is a report of a three-year drought (1 Kgs 17:1_19:21). The account of this drought is derived from the “Elijah cycle” of prophetic stories; still, there are some geographical details that can be taken at face value, viz. the presence of a holy place of sacrifice on Mount Carmel. According to the story, there had been a Yahwistic altar at that place (1 Kgs 18:30) before the altar to Baal was set up. Reference to the same cult place probably derives from a later report by Shalmaneser III (in 841 bce; cf. infra).

Social Injustice. The internal administration of the kingdom was probably no better or no worse than neighboring states. However, the Elijah cycle preserves the account of a gross violation of human rights, the affair of Naboth and his vineyard (1 Kgs 21). The story, especially the disputed plot of ground, is linked to the assassination at Jezreel of Jezebel and her son Joram (2 Kgs 9:21, 25) so the vineyard must have been there (cf. Timm 1982:118_121). Emphasis in the narrative is on the citizen's right to maintain his family patrimony. Under the law, if the charges against Naboth had been true, the king would have had every right to confiscate the vineyard. However, the prophetic focus is on Jezebel's illegal scheme to violate ancestral law.


Wars with Aram. Mesha's inscription (line 6) says that Omri's son Ahab continued to maintain control of the northern tableland of Moab. On the other hand, Israel was still at a disadvantage with respect to Damascus. It would seem that the Aramean king had obtained the right to establish commercial enclaves (חוּצוֹת) in Samaria (1 Kgs 20:34).

 About four years before the battle of Qarqar in 853 bce, open conflict broke out between Damascus and Israel. The Aramean army invaded the hill country of Samaria and laid siege to Samaria itself (1 Kgs 20:1_22). Armies in that ancient period were always advised by prophets and this time the instructions were to organize a daring sortie from the city gate to take the besieging forces by surprise. While the king of Damascus and his vassals were enjoying an afternoon banquet and siesta, the very elite units of the Israelite troops (נַעֲרֵי שָׂרֵי הַמְּדִינוֹת) led the attack on the unsuspecting besiegers. The latter were routed and forced to make a hasty retreat from the hill country of Ephraim, most likely via the Wâd¥ Far‘ah. The Aramean king and his noblemen had been reclining in their pavilions (סֻכּוֹת) nearby; there is no credence to the suggestion that the geographical place in the Jordan Valley, Succoth, could be meant (contra Yadin 1955).

 The tradition has it that this defeat led the king of Damascus to reorganize his federation of Aramean polities (1 Kgs 20:23_25) replacing the vassal kings by governors (פַּחוֹת). A new army was raised and a more convenient venue was chosen. Instead of penetrating into the hill country, the Arameans chose to assemble at Aphek, on the east side of the Chinnereth (1 Kgs 20:23_43). Whether this Aphek is the site near the town of Fîq, on the plateau above the lake and east of Qal‘at el-Óu∆n (Susita/Hippos) at the head of Wâd¥ Fîq, it does not seem to have Iron Age remains. So it has been suggested that Aphek be located down at Khirbet ‘ˆsheq (‘En Gev) near the mouth of the wadi on the edge of the lake (Aharoni 1979:381 n. 45). However, another Iron Age site northwest of Fîq, called Tel Soreq, does have Iron Age fortifications of the ninth and eighth centuries bce and also Intermediate, Middle and Late Bronze materials, though it could not have been such a large city (Beck and Kochavi 1987_88). Large-scale battles seem more likely to have taken place on the plateau above.

 In any event, the result was a victory for Ahab. But he was rebuked by a prophet for having offered to accept generous terms from the defeated king of Damascus. This conflict evidently took place in c. 856 bce because it is said:

So they sat for three years without war between Aram and Israel.                                                                (1 Kgs 22:1)

The reason for that three-year hiatus is found in the inscriptions of Shalmaneser III. 


Shalmaneser III Versus the Southern Coalition. The king of Assyria turned his attention once again to the west. The Levant was calling him to further conquest. The most detailed account of this campaign is once again the Kurkh stele (Grayson 1996:22_24; cf. Grayson 1992:261; Yamada 2000a:143_163). The campaign began on the 14th of Ayyaru, in the year of the Eponym Dayyœn-Ashur (853 bce). The king and his army set out from Nineveh, crossed the Tigris and headed westward. But instead of going straight to the Euphrates, they turned their attention to the cities of a certain Giammu, ruler of the Balih region. 

I drew near to the cities of Giammu, (on) the river Balih. They feared the awesomeness of my lordship and the splendor of my ferocious weapons so they killed Giammu with their own weapons. I entered the cities of Sa≈lala and Til-sha-tura≈i; I brought my deities into his palaces, and I held a banquet in his palaces. I verily opened his treasury, and I verily saw his treasure; I took his goods and properties as spoil; to my city Ashur I brought (them). 

(Kurkh Stele II, 78b_81a; Grayson 1996:22)

 It would appear that B¥t-Adini had wielded considerable influence eastward to the Balih and Shalmaneser found it necessary for his scheme of control to suppress a local ruler who had not shown proper respect for the new Assyrian presence in the west. Though Giammu may have cherished hopes of resistance, there were sufficient cool heads in his government to see that obstinacy would achieve nothing. They assassinated their recalcitrant ruler and submitted to the Assyrians.

 Sa≈lala is most probably to be identified with Tell Sa≈lân, 12.5 miles (20 km) south of ‘Ain el-‘Arûs (Hallo 1964:78). In the later sources Shalmaneser states: œla ana ramœniya a∆bat, “I took the city for myself,” meaning that he had turned the towns into colonies.

 The next move was to Til-Barsip (Kœr-Shalmaneser). From that base, the king crossed the Euphrates to the city Ana-Ashur-uter-a∆bat on the western side of the river opposite Til-Barsip. There he collected the tribute of “the kings of the other side of the Euphrates” (Kurkh II, 81b_86a; Grayson 1996:22_23) or “the kings of the land of Hatti” (“The Sixteen Year Annals” II, 24; Grayson 1996:36). The seven tribute-bearing kings were Sangara of Carchemish, Kundashpi of Kummu≈, Arame son of Gusi (i.e. of B¥t-Ag∑si), Lalli of Melid, Óayyœnu son of Gabbar (king of Sam’al), Qalparunda of Pattin and Qalparunda of Gurgum. For the time being, the northern coalition of states were willing to recognize Assyrian suzerainty.

 Shalmaneser continued towards the south-west, evidently crossing the territory of B¥t-Ag∑si, and reached the city of Ùalmœn (i.e. Aleppo). Again the population submitted and paid tribute. Shalmaneser made special offerings to the Adad of Ùalmœn, the most famous storm god in north Syria. Ùalmœn/Aleppo was not an influential political polity but it enjoyed special status as a religious center due to the sanctity to its temple and its deity, the storm god Adad/Hadad (Kurkh II, 86b_87a; Grayson 1996:23).

 From Ùalmœn/Aleppo, the Assyrian king moved south to attack the territory subject to Ir≈ul®ni, king of Hamath, in central Syria.

I drew near to the cities of Ir≈ul®ni the Hamathite; I conquered Adennu, Pargâ and Arganâ, his royal cities; I brought out his booty: his goods and the treasure of his palaces; I set fire to his palaces. I departed from Arganâ and drew near to Qarqar. I destroyed Qarqar, his royal city, and I set it on fire.        (Kurkh II 87b_90a; Grayson 1996:23)

 Tell Qarqur on the right (east) bank of the Orontes River, 4 miles (7 km) south of Jisr esh-Shughûr, has all the requisite archaeological remains for identification with Qarqar. Both ninth and eighth centuries bce are represented (Dorneman 1997b).  The conquest of “Qarqar of Ir≈ul®ni” is also portrayed on the Balawat gates (Grayson 1996:144_145; Yamada 2000a:156). The other three cities destroyed before Qarqar must have been situated on a road between Aleppo and Jisr esh-Shughûr, but their exact location has not been determined. Parga and probably Adennu (in the form Adâ) are depicted on the Balawat gates (Grayson 1996:144; for discussion, cf. Yamada 2000a:15). The two towns are alongside a body of water. Shalmaneser's route may have followed the Orontes on the west or more directly along the Quweiq river. It is not stated but there is the possibility that Ashurna∆irpal II's colony of Aribua, probably located on the Orontes c. 6 miles (10 km) north of Qarqar, may have still been in Assyrian hands (Yamada 2000a:156).

 The ensuing text comprises what is perhaps the central testimony to political and military affairs in the ninth-century bce Levant. It is the Assyrians' clash with combined forces of a coalition of states in the central and southern Levant. The list of the coalition members is only recorded on the Kurkh Stele (II 90b_97; Grayson 1996:23).

Line Chariots Infantry Leader & Country

90_91 1,200 20,000 Hadad-‘idri of Damascus

91 700 10,000 Ir≈ul®ni of Hamath

91_92 2,000 10,000 Ahab the Israelite

92 500 Byblos(?)

92 1,000 Mu∆ri

92 10 10,000 ‘Irqanata

93 200 Matinu-ba‘li of Arvad

93 200 Ushnata

93_94 30 10,000 Adonu-ba‘li of Siyannu

94 1,000 camels Gindibu’u of Arabia

95 (?),000 Baasha son of Rehob

95 <?> of Ammon



 Although the text states that there were twelve members to the coalition, the actual number listed is only eleven. Another striking feature that must be considered is the vast exaggeration in the numbers of chariots and troops from most of the members. Just as in most Assyrian versions of the annals of various kings, none of these numbers should be taken seriously (cf. De Odorico 1995). In the passage under discussion here more than one factor may have been at play. The vast numbers assigned to the first three participants are obviously for propaganda as are some of the “ten thousand” entries farther down. Scribal errors may also have played a role. There may be a recognition that the first three states in the list were the major players of the coalition but there is no way one can assume such vast forces for the countries involved. There is little to be gained by speculating how these fantastic numbers came to be recorded (cf. discussion by Yamada 2000a:161_162).

 The composition of the coalition should reflect the main political bodies of the central and southern Levant. At the head of the list is Hadad-‘idri (IdIÍKUR-’i-id-ri) of Damascus ([KUR] ANÍE-ßú), whom the Assyrians always considered their archenemy in the southern Levant. Hadad-‘idri must have succeeded the Ben-hadad (Aramaic: Bir Hadad) who had given such good terms when he surrendered to Ahab. As the new king of Aram-Damascus, Hadad-‘idri evidently became the driving force in the formation of the coalition and must be given credit for reading the political map correctly. He was surely aware of the Assyrian aggressions and extortions in northern Syria and southern Anatolia and realized that only by a concerted effort would it be possible to stop the Assyrian juggernaut. 

 Ir≈ul®ni the Hamathite (KUR A-mat-aya) was the one who stood in the most immediate danger. His territories had already suffered Assyrian aggression, even under Ashurna∆irpal II, and the kingdom of Hamath was clearly in the crosshairs of Shalmaneser's avarice. 

 Ahab the Israelite (KUR Sir-’i-la-aya) might have come as the ally of Hadad-‘idri even though it was Ahab who had gained an advantageous treaty with Damascus about two years earlier. On the other hand, it seems more likely that the traditional friendship between Hamath and Israel, going back to the tenth century bce, may have motivated Ahab to come to the aid of his northern neighbor. There is nothing to be gained by speculating about the real number of chariots fielded by Israel. 

 There follow three entries of gentilics without personal names that may have simply dropped from the original text from which the Kurkh text was copied, or else the Kurkh scribe/engraver was just sloppy in his work. The first of this group is KUR Gu-aya, and was originally taken as an aberrant rendering of Que, i.e. Qù-<ú>-aya, but such an orthography is most unlikely. Furthermore, it is most improbable that Que would have joined the military coalition of the central Syrian states, when neither of its local allies, viz. Pattin nor Sam’al, were involved. Much more probable is the now widely accepted proposal (Schott apud Jensen 1934:234; Tadmor 196b) to read Gu-<bal>-aya, a known form of the name of ancient Byblos. Within the context of the following names, a reference to the famous northern Phoenician city makes sense. However, the next entry, KUR Mu-u∆-ra-aya, is also somewhat problematic. There is a place called Mu∆ri in the east Tigris region and an oft-alleged Mu∆ri in Anatolia or north Syria (Kessler 1993_97) but neither would suit this context. An alternative to the suggestion (Tadmor 196b1) is that Egypt had sent a token force to assist the allies against Shalmaneser (cf. Röllig 1993_97:268). This seems most unlikely considering the general isolation of Egypt during this period. On the other hand, there is a mœt Mu∆ur∑na mentioned as being in Phoenicia, most likely north of Byblos, in the campaign of the twenty-first or twenty-second year (838_837 bce; Yamada 2000a:209; cf. Tadmor 1961b:148 n. 30). Where to locate this “land” (the sign KUR could be read ßad, “mountain of,” but it is read mœt, “land of,” three times in the preceding sentence) is an open question (Grayson 1996:79, 161'_162'; Yamada 2000a:207, 209).

 The ensuing names are those of Phoenician cities north of Byblos. The “country” of KUR Ir-qa-na-ta-aya must refer to the city of ‘Irqata well known from Bronze Age sources. The correct reading should have been URU Ir-qa-ta-aya (cf. Borger 1982_88:361). The ruler's name has also been lost. ‘Irqata is modern Tell ‘Arqa 12.5 miles (20 km) northeast of Tripoli (Marín 2001:145_146). 

 The next is Mat(t)inu-ba‘li the Arvadite (URU Ar-ma-da-aya) from the island of er-Ruâd off the Syrian coast (Marín 2001:39). Note the Neo-Assyrian orthography.

 The Assyrian orthography (reversing the sibilants Í and S) is evident in the next two entries. The Ushnataite (KUR ¨-sa-na-ta-aya) is from the ancient Bronze Age state on the Syrian coast just north of Arvad. It was primarily a city (URU) but at times it was the head of a small independent state (KUR URU). The city was possibly located at Tell Darûk on the Nahr es-Sinn (Marín 2001:331). The neighboring state is that of Adonu-ba‘li the Siyœnnite (KUR Íi-a-na-aya). Siyœnnu was an important city-state bordering on the Bronze Age kingdom of Ugarit; the city was located at Tell Siyân∑ (Marín 2001:241). 

 The Phoenician states are listed from south to north. They are ranged on both sides of the ‘Akkar Plain through which the Nahr el-Kebîr drains into the sea. These city-states would have a vested interest in the commercial transit through the ‘Akkar Pass to central Syria and must have had close ties with the kingdom of Hamath. Therefore, it was to their interest to help their inland neighbor in the face of the Assyrian threat. They must have already seen how expensive submission on the part of Pattin and the Cilician states to Assyrian demands could be.

 The next to last individual on the list is Gindibu’u, who contributed a camel corps. He is described as “Arabian” (KUR Arbaya). He was either from the Syrian Desert or, more likely, from north Arabia. Damascus was controlling the spice trade from Arabia (contested by Israel) so it was in the Arabians' best interest to support their commercial partners against the Assyrian threat.

 As mentioned above, the caption called for twelve enemies but only eleven seem to be listed. The solution may be in the final entry. Ba‘sha (IBa-a’-sa with Assyrian orthography) son of Rehob (KUR Ru-≈u-bi) was possibly ruler of a small princedom mainly in the Beqa‘, while some unknown force has come under the command of “X the Ammonite” (KUR A-ma-na-aya), both representing poetical entities tied closely to Aram-Damascus (Yamada 2000a:159_161).

They attacked in order to [make] combat and onslaught against me. With the overwhelming forces that Ashur (my) lord had given to me, with the mighty weapons that the divine standard that goes before me had granted me, I engaged them. From the city of Qarqar to the city of Gilza’u I verily strew their corpses and I felled with the sword fourteen thousand troops, their fighting force. I rained down upon them a cascade alike the Storm God; I swamped (them). I made their corpses fill the open plain; their vast hordes I caused their blood to flow with the sword. . . . The open steppe was insufficient for laying out their bodies; the open space was used up with their burials. With their cadavers I dammed up the Orontes River like a bridge. In the midst of that battle I took away their chariots, their cavalry, their horses, i.e. their teams.

(Kurkh II, 95b_102; Grayson 1996:23_24)

 Such bombastic claims are meant to cover the fact that the Assyrians were stopped in their tracks. Subsequent events strongly suggest that the coalition had succeeded in its immediate goal. For the next three years (852_850 bce), Shalmaneser did not cross the Euphrates. When he finally did turn his attention to Syria in his tenth regnal year (849 bce), he had to first attack the towns of Carchemish and B¥t-Agusi, prior to his second clash with the central and southern coalition led by Damascus and Hamath. The resounding setback at Qarqar seems to have encouraged the more northerly states to behave independently. In regnal years 11 (848 bce) , 14 (845 bce) and 18 (841 bce), he was opposed by the same coalition.

 After the battle at Qarqar, two later versions of the Annals add that the king took a boat trip on the Mediterranean. Such a late edition is highly suspect. The coastal city-states nearest Hamath were all opposed to him. One may be led to the conclusion that the later scribe/historians sought to sugarcoat the pill of Qarqar by adding a feature that they may have learned from records of Tiglath-pileser I. 

 The later Assyrian forays against central Syria will be discussed in due course.


Judah (continued). As mentioned above, Jehoshaphat became co-regent with his sick father, Asa, in 872 bce. The introduction to his reign in 1 Kings uses the double dating system. His sole reign was reckoned from his father's death in the fourth year of Ahab in accordance with the accession year system (869 bce). The total length of his reign was twenty-five official years in which his first year, overlapping his father, was not called an accession year. Thus the actual total number of regnal years was twenty-four (1 Kgs 2:41_42; Thiele 1983:96_98). When his father, who had had great animosity to the northern kingdom of Israel, died, it was a propitious time to make peace with Ahab and the marriage alliance between the two royal houses was probably initiated at this time.

 The Chronicler provides a considerable 

amount of material about the reign of Jehoshaphat. Most of it is anchored in detailed information, e.g. names of officials, so that there is no reason to assume these verses are all the invention of the Chronicler. The naming of specific individuals, officials, and family members looks quite authentic. 

 Jehoshaphat recognized that he must overcome the estrangement that had occurred between his father and the Jerusalem religious establishment. Therefore, he focused his own energies on the centralized cult of YHWH (2 Chr 17:3_4) at the expense of local cult centers. His appointing officials, including clergy, to teach throughout the kingdom took place in his third year:

Then in the third year of his reign he sent his officials, Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel and Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah; and with them the Levites: Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah, Tobijah and Tob-adonijah, the Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, the priests, and they taught in Judah, with them was the book of the law YHWH, and they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught among the people.       (2 Chr 17:7_9) 

 If, as is likely, this was the third year of his total reign, it was the last year of his co-regency with Asa, probably after Asa had died. But the previous two years, during his father's incapacitating illness, Jehoshaphat must have taken steps to strengthen his position as ruler. He placed military forces (חַיִל) and loyal governors (נְצִיבִים = hJgoume÷nouß) in the cities of Judah and in those along his northern border that had been taken from Israel by Asa (2 Chr 17:2). The appointment of six of his sons to positions over fortified cities of Judah (2 Chr 21:2_3) looks quite authentic also, but his eldest son, Jehoram, by the chief wife was only about sixteen in 869 bce so the six brothers may have been mere youths or perhaps were born to lesser wives. It may be that those sons were placed in charge of six cities in 853 bce when Jehoram became co-regent; their job would have been the support of their senior brother, especially if anything should happen to Jehoshaphat in the upcoming war with Aram. The extent of Jehoshaphat's kingdom was “from Beer-sheba to the hill country of Ephraim (הַר אֶפְרַים)” (2 Chr 19:4). Beer-sheba was the administrative center of the southern district; on the north, all of the Benjaminite territory was encompassed, including those towns in southern Ephraim taken by Asa.

 The sending out of the teachers to instruct the people in legal matters must be linked with his reform of the judiciary (2 Chr 19:4_11). He appointed judges (שׁׂפְטִים) in the cities of the kingdom. In Jerusalem he appointed Levites, priests and heads of leading clans (מִן-הַלְוִיּם וְהַכּׂהֲנִים וְּמֵרָאשֵׁי הָאָבוֹת לְיִשׂרָאֵל) to judge the residents of the capital and also to handle serious cases (such as blood feuds, etc.) brought to them on appeal from other cities throughout the kingdom (2 Chr 19:8). The chief priest (כׂהֵן הָרׂאשׁ), Amariah, had authority over all matters pertaining to the cult of YHWH (2 Chr 19:11). The affairs of the royal government were handled by Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, who was “commissar of the House of Judah” (הַנָּגִיד לְבֵית-יְהוּדָה). That title must correspond to the “(administrator) over the (king's) house” (אֲשֶׁר עַל-הַבָּיִת; Isa 36:3).

 The reorganization of the military (2 Chr 17:14_19), again giving the names of authentic individuals, has the ring of truth even though the numbers of troops, etc., are undoubtedly artificial. Since Jehoshaphat had inherited a strong kingdom from his father, it is not surprising that he was able to capitalize on his father's previous military successes and further strengthen his kingdom. 

And Jehoshaphat . . . built forts (בִּירָנִיּוֹת) and store cities (עָרֵי מִסְכְּנוֹת) in Judah. He had intensive manufacturing activity (מְלָאכָה רַבָּה = e¶rga polla») in the cities of Judah, and fighting men (אַנְשֵׁי מִלְחָמָה), courageous men (גִּבּוֹרֵי חַיִל), in Jerusalem.                                         (2 Chr 17:12_13)

 The Chronicler was always sensitive to the geopolitical and military status of the kingdom of Judah. He makes specific reference to the Judean economic dominance of the region:

Now the dread of YHWH was on all the kingdoms of the lands around Judah, so that they did not dare make war on Jehoshaphat. 

 And from the Philistines they brought donations and transport payments to Jehoshaphat; the Arabians also brought him small cattle, 7,700 rams and 7,700 male goats. So Jehoshaphat grew greater and greater. . . . 

(2 Chr 17:11_12a) 

 The Philistines on the west and the Arabians on the east found it necessary and expedient to make these large payments to Jehoshaphat. That information, coupled with the references to extensive fortifications and military garrisons makes the picture clear. The kingdom of Judah was controlling the caravan routes across the Arabah and the Negeb highlands to the Mediterranean coast. The Philistines and the Arabians were partners in commerce but Jehoshaphat had become a powerful middleman. For the trade caravans to pass, they had to pay duty and tribute to the kingdom of Judah. The Arabians in this context are undoubtedly the Meunites, a tribal confederacy that occupied southern Transjordan (probably from Ma‘in), across the northern Sinai expanses to el-‘Arish. They will appear more explicitly in a subsequent military adventure against Jehoshaphat (cf. infra).

 On the other hand, Edom was subject to Judean control. They did not have an independent king. Instead they had a ruler who was evidently commissioned by Judah and enjoyed his office by authority of Jehoshaphat.

Now there was no king in Edom; a commissioner (נִצָּב) was king.                                                  (1 Kgs 22:48 [Eng. 22:47])

 This does not mean that he was not an Edomite. In fact, he could have been a well respected leader among his own people and that may have prevented them from joining an anti-Judah expedition (cf. infra).

 At this point the Chronicler deigns to incorporate a pericope that probably came from the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel (2 Chr 18:2_34 || 1 Kgs 22:3_35). It is the drama that played out when Jehoshaphat accepted Ahab's invitation to join him for the attempt to retake Ramoth-gilead.


The Battle of Ramoth-gilead. After the battle of Qarqar, where the coalition apparently stopped the Assyrian army in its tracks (cf. supra), the king of Aram-Damascus, Hadad-‘i∂ri, must have felt both relieved and buoyant. Since it was probably his predecessor, Ben-hadad, who had been forced to offer humiliating terms to Ahab, Hadad-‘i∂ri must have felt that now he could move against his neighbor, Ahab, and reassert Damascus's domination of the eastern trade routes. He had seized Ramoth-gilead, a key outpost along that route.

 There had been three years of ceasefire between Israel and Aram-Damascus: “And they sat for three years without war between Aram and Israel” (1 Kgs 22:1). But “in the third year” Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, came to visit Ahab, king of Israel. This has to be 853 bce after Ahab had returned from the great conflict at Qarqar. Ahab invited Jehoshaphat to join him in a combined effort to regain control of Ramoth-gilead and Jehoshaphat accepted (1 Kgs 22:2 || 2 Chr 18:2). This narrative is replete with prophetic anti-Omride elements, including the dire prediction of Michaiah (1 Kgs 22:5_28 || 2 Chr 18:4_27). The ensuing account of Ahab's death must be part of the same pericope (1 Kgs 22:29_35 || 2 Chr 18:28_34). Still, it has the ring of authenticity. Before the battle, Ahab induced Jehoshaphat to wear his royal attire while he, himself, would dress as a common warrior. In the course of the fighting, the Arameans sought out Ahab and found Jehoshaphat by mistake but did not slay him. By accident an Aramean bowman took a shot and mortally wounded Ahab. The king of Israel had his charioteer station the chariot facing the field of battle so Ahab could oversee the conflict with his dying breath (1 Kgs 22:33_35 || 2 Chr 18:32_34). 

וַיִּשְׁכַּב אַחְאָב עִם-אֲבׂתָיו וַיִּמְלךׁ אֲחַזְיָהוּ בְנוֹ תַּחְתָּיו

So Ahab lay down with his fathers, and Ahaziah his son reigned in his stead.                                                (1 Kgs 22:40)

 The expression “lay down with his fathers” means that Ahab was given the proper burial due to him, conducted by his heir (Bin-Nun 1968). It by no means can be used to suggest that Ahab did not die a violent death in battle (contra Jepson 1942:155_159; Miller 1966, 1967a, 1967b; Miller and Hayes 1986:274). There is not a scrap of evidence to negate the testimony that Ahab was engaged in military conflict with Aram-Damascus. The war stories of 1 Kgs 20, 22 are legitimately assigned to Ahab's reign.


Judah (continued). According to the Chronicler, Jehoshaphat returned safely to Jerusalem after the battle at Ramoth-gilead (2 Chr 19:1_4). He was rebuked by the prophet (v. 3) for supporting Ahab. The plan for reorganizing the court system (2 Chr 19; cf. supra for details) may have been a measure taken to counter this criticism. It would have been founded on the earlier project of teaching the people the proper statutes (2 Chr 17). The unifying power of this religious and judicial reform was essential in the face of new threats.


Attempted Invasion. The king of Damascus could take satisfaction in the death of Ahab, his archenemy in Israel. But it would have been impractical to launch a campaign of revenge against Jehoshaphat at this time. Therefore, he invoked his allies in southern Transjordan to do it for him. They launched an attempted invasion of Judah after Jehoshaphat's return from the battle at Ramoth-gilead (2 Chr 20:1_30; Rainey 2000c).

 The Chronicler's sequencing is of major importance here. His statement וַיְהִי אַחֲרֵי-כֵן “And it came to pass after this . . .” (2 Chr. 20:1) is more than a literary convention here (contra Japhet 1993:785). Furthermore, the details of the narrative fit just this particular time. The invasion took place in 853 bce right after the death of Ahab (Thiele 1983:94_96). It is also significant that the Chronicler refers to the joint nautical venture with Ahaziah in the subsequent verses (2 Chr 20:35_37). Again the expression אַחֲרֵי-כֵן “after this” (2 Chr 20:35), is intentional; it is meant to confirm the sequence of events. The reign of Ahaziah was two official years (non-accession system) but only one calendar year, viz. 853/852 bce. By placing the attempted Moabite-Ammonite invasion between the death of Ahab and the reign of Ahaziah, the Chronicler enables us to date that campaign to 853/852 bce (Rainey 1998b).

 Opinions have varied concerning this narrative. It has even been suggested (Noth 1944_45) that the geographic details must derive from some local tradition of an otherwise unknown invasion by the Nabateans! There is at least a certain agreement that there was some ancient source behind the narrative (Rudolph 1955:260_261; Williamson 1982:292_293; with other references). Even though the Chronicler may have embellished the material to suit his own theological goals (Williamson loc. cit.; Japhet 1993:785_803), there is every reason to believe that he found the original embedded in the chronicle of the kings of Judah (Rainey 1997:58_60).

And it happened after this that the Moabites (בְּנֵי-מוֹאָב) and the Ammonites (בְנֵי עַמּוׂן) and with them some of the Meunites (הָעַמּוֹנִים = Minai÷wn LXX) came against Jehoshaphat for battle. 

 And they came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying: “A great host is coming against you from beyond the (Dead) Sea, at the instigation of Aram (מֵאֲרָם = aÓpo\ Suri÷aß); and behold they are at Hazazon-tamar (that is En-gedi).”                                                   (2 Chr 20:1_2)

Now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir (בְנֵי-עַמּוֹן וּמוֹאָב וְהַר-שֵׂעִיר), whom You did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt . . . and behold they are rewarding us by coming to drive us out from Your possession which You have given us as an inheritance.                                                          (2 Chr 20:10_11)

 Three points determine the correct interpretation of this passage: 

 (1) The LXX reading ejk tw◊n Minaivwn is to be preferred and taken to represent an original Hebrew מֵהָמְעוּנִים “from the Meunites” instead of the MT מֵהָעַמּוֹנִים “from the Ammonites” who are already mentioned (Williamson 1982:293_294). 

 (2) On the other hand מֵאֲרָם is not to be amended to מֵאֶדׂם “from Edom” (cf. Aharoni 1979:332_333; Williamson 1982:294; contra Japhet 1993:781). The Septuagint has aÓpo\ Suri÷aß “from Syria,” and the implication is that the Arameans had incited the Ammonites and Moabites to launch this invasion. This can be seen as an offensive move designed to avenge Jehoshaphat's participation in the war against Aram alongside Ahab. 

 (3) The Mount Seir in verses 10 and 22 is not to be sought to the east but rather to the west of the Arabah valley (cf. 1 Chr 4:42; Abel 1933:389_391; Bartlett 1969; Davies 1979a:97_101; Williamson 1982:294_295). The people of Mount Seir in this passage are those Meunites from LXX 20:1. They were the pastoral people living in southern Transjordan and who controlled the caravan routes across the Sinai desert. They paid tribute to Uzziah later on (2 Chr 26:7_8; cf. also 1 Chr 4:41) and afterwards paid tribute to Tiglath-pileser III (ND 400:22, Wiseman 1951:23, pl. XI; the gentilic is KURMu-’u-na-a-a = *Mu‘ûnœya < *Ma‘ûnœya; with Borger and Tadmor 1982:250_251 contra Knauf 1985:114_122). 

 The failure of the enterprise is credited to a falling out among the participants.

. . . YHWH set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir (בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן מוֹאָב וְהַר-שֵׂעִיר), who had come against Judah; so they were routed. For the sons of Ammon and Moab (בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן וּמוֹאָב) rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir (יוֹשְׁבֵי הַר-שֵׂעִיר) to annihilate and to obliterate them; and when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they rose up to destroy one another.

(2 Chr 20:22_23)

 The threatened invasion by way of En-gedi suggests that the southern, shallow part of the Dead Sea was dry at this time (Frumkin and Elitzur 2002). From En-gedi, it was apparently expected that the invaders would attempt to penetrate Judah via the pass to מִדְבַּר תְּקוֹעַ “the steppe land of Tekoa” (Kh. Teqû‘). That is where Jehoshaphat and his forces had taken up positions against them (2 Chr 20:20).

 The Deuteronomist skipped over this event as well as many other interesting details of the life of Jehoshaphat. Nevertheless, he does allude to the fact that Jehoshaphat engaged in military activity (2 Kgs 42:46 [Heb.]). The Chronicler included the narrative of chap. 20 because it served to balance the picture presented in 2 Kings 3 (a narrative from the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel). That latter campaign took place after the death of Ahaziah of Israel, when Joram of Israel took over his brother's throne (852 bce; Thiele 1983:99). The Israelite motivation was revenge for Mesha's revolt and conquest of towns in the Moabite tableland north of the Arnon (as depicted in the Mesha‘ inscription). Jehoshaphat's motivation for joining Israel was to get revenge for the attempted invasion via En-gedi.


The Ill-fated Fleet from Ezion-geber. Both the Deuteronomist and the Chronicler make mention of Jehoshaphat's attempt to launch a fleet from Ezion-geber. However, the two versions differ in some essential features. Both confirm that the maritime effort was contemporary with Ahaziah, son of Ahab and king of Israel. That places the event squarely in 853/852 bce (Thiele 1983:98_99). According to the Chronicler, the project was initiated after the failure of the Moabite/Ammonite/Meunite invasion. This left Jehoshaphat in control of the southern routes from Beer-sheba to Ezion-geber so he could plan such an enterprise knowing that there was no immediate threat to his security. The Chronicles version makes Ahaziah an actual partner:

After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself 

(אֶתְחַבַּר) with Ahaziah king of Israel. He acted wickedly in so doing. So he allied himself (וַיְחַבְּרֶהוּ) with him to make ships to go to Tarshish (תַּרְשִׁישׁ), and they made the ships in Ezion-geber (עֶצְיוֹן גֶּבֶר). Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah (מָּרֵשָׁה) prophesied against Jehoshaphat saying, “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, YHWH has scuttled your projects.” So the ships were smashed and could not go to Tarshish.

(2 Chr 20:35_37)

 Writing in the fourth century bce, the Chronicler may have thought that the ships were intended to circumnavigate the Horn of Africa as was done by the Phoenicians during the reign of Pharaoh Necho II. But the account in 1 Kings makes it clear that it was “Tarshish ships” that were built. They were to go to Ophir, either a location in South Arabia or else in Somalia or some other point on the east African coast.

Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish (אֳנִיּוֹת תַּרְשִׁישׁ) to go to Ophir (אוֹפִירָה) for gold, but they did not go for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber. Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships.” But Jehoshaphat was not willing.

(1 Kings 22:48_49)

 The Deuteronomist avoids a prophetic rebuke for the partnership with Ahaziah and instead credits Jehoshaphat with refusing to accept Israelite crews. The original deal may have been Israelite participation only in the construction of the vessels. Ahaziah's offer implied that the Judean sailors had failed to manage the ships properly and thus led to their being wrecked.


Mesha Revolts from Israel. After the death of Ahab, the Moabite tableland from the Arnon once again became a bone of contention (Routledge 2004). Ever since the conquests of Omri in northern Moab, the king of Moab used to pay 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams (2 Kgs 3:4). The numbers may be exaggerated but the economic ramifications are obvious. When Ahab died in the battle of Ramoth-gilead, Mesha, king of Moab, ceased to make his annual payments (2 Kgs 1:1, 3:5). He was an ally of the victorious king of Aram-Damascus. The attack on Judah described in 2 Chronicles 20 was at the behest of Hadad-‘i∂ri; due to its disastrous conclusion, it is no wonder that the campaign is ignored in Moabite historiography. On the other hand, Mesha has provided the only example of a royal dedicatory inscription from the southern Levant (cf. Excursus 12.1). According to the opening lines (1_2):

1I am Mesha‘ the son of Chemosh[-yat?] king of Moab, the Da2ibonite. My father reigned over Moab thirty years and I reign3ed after my father;

 Mesha was the scion of a dynasty from Dibon (ancient form Daibôn = LXX Daibwn), beside present-day Dh¥bân. The town was located on the northern side of the Arnon (Wâd¥ Mûjib). The ancient city stood on a prominent mound north of the modern village, cut off by the deep Wâd¥ Wâlœ on the west and north, and by the Wâd¥ eth-Themed on the east, from the tableland surrounding it. From the inscription it can be deduced that Dibon and its environs were in Moabite hands in spite of Omri's conquest of the more northerly parts of the tableland. In the Transjordanian itinerary the town was called Dibon-gad (דִּיבׂן גָּד; Num 33:45) but it is not clear if the Gadites ever occupied it. 

 Just as Medeba was Omri's first foothold in Moab, so Mesha's rebellion was apparently launched by a thrust northward to liberate Medeba (Mesha‘ Inscription lines 8b_9). That opened the way to rebuilding Baal-meon (Mœ‘în, 5 miles [8 km] southwest of Medeba) and Kiriat®n (biblical Kiriathaim; el-Qureiyeh, c. 6 miles [10 km] west of Medeba on the bank of Wâd¥ ‘Uyûn edh-Dhîb; Kuschke 1961:24_31; 1967:104_105). 

 If this sequence is chronological, then it meant that the area still occupied by people of the ancient Israelite tribe of Gad were effectively cut off from the trunk route that led from Dibon past Libb to Medeba (cf. supra). There has been some misunderstanding about this passage. There is no reason to assume that the king of Israel built Ataroth “for himself.” Obviously, he fortified the site for the men of Gad who had been exposed to the neighboring elements up until then. 

The man of Gad had dwelt in ‘Aªarot (Ataroth) from of old and the king of Israel 11built ‘Aªarot (Ataroth) for him.                         (Mesha‘ inscription, lines 10b_11)

 Mesha conquered the town, killed all the inhabitants and annexed the city to the Moabite territory (which was considered the fief of Chemosh-Attar, god of Moab). An important object was confiscated (from the root ÍBY), via the “altar hearth (? ’r’l) of David” (Rainey 1998b:244_249; 2001c:300_304). The Gadites had possessed an important cultic object that had evidently been given to them either by or in honor of King David, founder of the Jerusalem dynasty. The altar hearth was dragged over to Kerioth which must be represented by el-Qereiyât, today a village on the end of the same ridge occupied by Ataroth. Kerioth must have had a shrine to Chemosh marking the northwestern border of the Dibon district facing Ataroth with its shrine marking the southwestern border of the Israelite territory to the north. The principle of border shrines is reflected here: an original YHWH shrine facing a shrine to Chemosh. Mesha resettled Ataroth with people from two other unknown places of his own, Sharon and Ma˙aroth.

 Another isolated Israelite place was Nebo. The site must be near the peak of Jebel Nebœ. Several candidates have been suggested: Khirbet el-Mu≈aiyat, northwest of Medeba, where associated Iron Age tombs have been excavated; or other sites in the area such as Râs Ôiyâgah, the high point just west of Jebel Nebœ, Khirbet ‘Ayûn Mûsœ in the valley immediately north of Jebel Nebœ or Ôiyâgah, or Khirbet el-Mu˙aªªah, c. 2 miles (3.5 km) north of Mu≈aiyat on the next promontory north of Râs Ôiyâgah, and within clear view of both ‘Ayûn Mûsœ and Râs Ôiyâgah. Both Khirbet ‘Ayûn Mûsœ and Mu˙aªªah have produced Iron Age pottery collected from surface surveys (Waterhouse and Iback 1975:217_225; Dearman 1989a:180_181). It should not be surprising that Mesha was able to confiscate more cult objects of YHWH at Nebo and to bring them as trophies to the temple of his own deity (Mesha‘ inscription, lines 14_18).

 The final battle of the northern campaign was at Jahaz (Mesha‘ inscription, lines 18b_21a), a town that must be to the northeast of Dibon, most likely at Khirbet el-Mudeiyineh on the Wâd¥ Themed, 1.5 miles (2.5 km) northeast of Khirbet Remeil. The site's size suggests that it is the largest predominately Iron Age settlement along the eastern periphery of the settled plateau (Dearman 1984; 1992).

 During the ensuing years, and there is no way to know how many, Mesha embarked on an extensive building program to refortify cities and to refurbish temples. Much of his activity was focused on his capital, the citadel (*qar˙ô) that had been mentioned before in line 3. 

I (myself) built for the citadel the “wall of the forests” and “the wall of 22the rampart” and I built its gates and I built its towers and 23I built a royal palace and I made the channels for the reservo[ir for] water in the mid24st 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] 25yourselves each man a cistern in his house. And I hewed the shafts for the citadel with prisoner26s of Israel. 

(Mesha‘ Inscription, lines 21b_26a)

Other towns and temples throughout the kingdom were also beneficiaries.

I built Aroer and I made the highway(s) in the Arnon. 27I built Beth-bamoth because it was in ruins. I built Bezer because {it was} 28a ruin. The men of Daibon were armed because all of Daibon was under orders and I rul29ed [over] one hundred towns which I had annexed to the land. And I buil30t [the temple of Made]ba and the temple of Diblatên and the temple of Baal-maon and I carried there [my] h31[erdsmen to tend] the small cattle of the 

land.                                            (Mesha‘ Inscription, lines 26_31)

 Aroer (עֲרׂעֵר; ‘Arâ‘ir, 3 miles [5 km] southeast of Dhiban) is well known in the Bible as a border town (Deut 4:48; Josh 12:2; cf. Jud 11:22) at the southern end of the tableland of Moab near the northern edge of the canyon formed by the Wâd¥ Môjib (Deut 2:36, 4:48; Josh 12:2, 13:16). 

Aroer was assigned to the tribe of Gad (Num 32:34), though elsewhere was supposedly in the Reubenite inheritance (Josh 13:16). During David's census, Aroer was the starting point for the Transjordanian population. Its strategic significance as a boundary marker is emphasized again in the description of Hazael's political control at the expense of Israel (2 Kgs 10:33).

 Excavations have revealed evidence of the Late Bronze and Iron Ages among others (Olávarri-Goicoechea 1993). The most important excavated structure is a fortress that measures c. 60 yards (50 m) square, built of large stone blocks laid in header-stretcher. That might have been the fortress built by Mesha. 

 The term הַמְּסִילָּת can be singular or plural, thus “highway(s).” When mentioned in connection with Aroer, the association immediately presents itself with the main highway, the Roman Via Nova Tirana, which crossed the Môjib gorge nearby. On the other hand, an alternate road has recently been discovered to the east which might be included in this reference (Kloner and Ben-David 2003). It is even possible that only one highway is intended and that it was not along the line of the Via Nova Tirana at all, but to the east (Dearman 1989a:192; 1997:206). The road may have originated at Balû‘ and crossed the wadis Unhealed and Suede on the way to either Aroer or nearby Laguna (cf. also Miller 1989a:594; Olivier 1989:174; Worschach 1990:111_114; Mattingly 1996:95).

 Beth-bamoth is probably to be equated with Bamoth-baal (Num 22:41; Josh 13:17) which must be a town with important cultic installations on the road between Dibon and Medeba. The important Iron I and II mound at the modern town at Libb is the most likely identification (Dearman 1989a:185_186). 

 Bezer (בֶּצֶר) is known in the Bible as a Levitical city (Josh 21:36; 1 Chr 6:63, 78), the southernmost city of refuge in Transjordan (Josh 20:8), “in the steppe land on the tableland” (Deut 4:43). By far the most likely candidate for this identification is Tell el-Jalûl, c. 5 miles (8 km) east of Medeba. It is a massive tel and to the east of it is the steppe land expected from Deut 4:43. It is also on a line with other sites cited in the Mesha‘ inscription: Nebo, Kiriathaim, Medeba. The fact that it had been in ruins suggests that Omri and Ahab had not reconstituted it when they occupied the land of Medeba.

 Diblatên is the same as biblical Beth-diblathaim (Jer 48:22). Here it appears between Medeba and Beth-baal-meon, indicating that this town was somewhere in the vicinity of the other two sites. It also seems to be identical with Almon-diblathaim, between Dibon and the mountains of Abarim (Num 33:46_47) approximately halfway between Dibon and Nebo. It cannot be Libb (ancient Limbo) because in the church mosaic at Umm Ra∆â∆ there is a “Beth Diblatain” and “Limbon” (Piccirillo and Attiyat 1986:348). The most likely identification is Khirbet Deleilat esh-Sherqîyeh and/or Khirbet Deleilat el-Gharbîyeh c. 2.5 miles (4 km) northeast of Libb and c. 1 mile (1.5 km) apart (Abel 1938:242, 269). This proposal has the advantage of linking two related ruins with the dual ending present in both the Moabite and Hebrew names. Baal-maon was discussed above. 

 This list of sites reveals that there were sacred shrines at towns throughout the Moabite plateau.

 The next pericope switches to a battle in the south. The text is given with some conjectural completions which match the remaining traces and letters and which also conform to the required space (Rainey 1998b:249_251; 2000b:117; 2001c:293):

And as for Óawronên (חורננ), the [Ho]use of [Da]vid dwelt in it [wh]ile 32[it fought with me and] Chemosh [s]aid to me, “Go down, fight against Óawronen,” so I went down [and I fo]33[ught with the city and I took it and] Chemosh [ret]urned it in my days. 

(Mesha‘ Inscription, lines 32_33)

 Óawronên = Horonaim (חׂרוֹנַיִם, Arwniim) from prophetic oracles against Moab (Isa 15:5; Jer 48 [LXX 31]:3, 5, 34 [Wrwnaim]; Orwnaim in Jos Ant XIII, 15, 1; Wpwnain XIV 1, 4). Horonaim is associated with Luhith by parallelism (Isa 15:5) along an ascending roadway from Zoar at the southern edge of the Dead Sea to the Moabite plateau. A further geographical indication is the association with “the waters of Nimrim” (מֵי נִמְרִים; Isa 15:6; Jer 48:34) which is the modern Seil en-Numerah, a stream cutting through the cliffs on the southwest edge of the Moabite plateau towards the Dead Sea. A Nabatean inscription from Medeba and a Hebrew contract from the time of Bar Kochba place Luhith in the 

southwest quadrant of the Moabite plateau, probably along a Roman road descending the plateau to continue around the southern end of the Dead Sea (Dearman 1992a).

 There was an ancient roadway from the Roman/Nabatean period leading to the Dead Sea from the modern town of Kathrabba, southwest of Kerak on the edge of the Moabite plateau. It probably follows the line of a more ancient road from the Iron Age, so both Horonaim and Luhith were most likely located along its course. Ai, just east of Kathrabba, has surface sherds from the Bronze, Iron, and Roman periods, so it and Kathrabba would make good candidates for the sites of Luhith and Horonaim (Mittman 1982:180). Furthermore, there are other Iron Age and Nabatean sites around these two towns, proving the importance of this area. Khirbet Meidân, a twin site with remains from both periods, is located on a strategic hill west of Kathrabba overlooking the Dead Sea and approaches to the plateau from it. Tell el-Miseh, an outpost or small fort on a high hill just southeast of Kathrabba, also has Iron Age and Nabatean pottery. This site has the most strategic view in this part of the Moabite plateau. 

 Other proposals for the location of Horonaim are the modern town of el-‘Irâq, 4 miles (7 km) south of Kathrabba at the head of the Seil en-Numeirah, or Medînet er-Râs or Khirbet Dhubâb in the southwest corner of the Moabite plateau near the Wadi Óasœ (van Zyl 1960:65). The latter is a tel on the north bank of the Wâd¥ Óasœ with surface sherds suggesting almost continuous occupation from the Early Bronze.

 In any case, this pericope deals with military action in southwestern Moab. The recent discovery that Óawrônên had been occupied by , בת[ד]וד “the House of David” (Lemaire 1987; 1994) opens up the possibility that Mesha is referring to the conflict with invaders from the southwest (Rainey 1998b:249_251). He boasts that he conquered Óawrônên but the context is too broken to deduce more than that. Since Mesha naturally gives only the details that glorify himself and his deity, it is not surprising that he does not describe the invasion by Judah, Israel and Edom (2 Kgs 3). However, it may very well be that Óawrônên had been occupied by the forces of Judah, the House of David, as a logistic base in support of the campaign on the Moabite plateau above.


The Allied Invasion of Moab (2 Kgs 3). 

After the untimely death of Ahaziah son of Ahab, his brother Joram became king (852 bce). He approached Jehoshaphat with the proposal of a joint invasion of Moab. Each had his motive: Joram sought to regain control of the northern tableland and Jehoshaphat wished to get revenge for the attempted invasion of Judah by Moab and its allies (2 Chr 20). The narrative of the joint campaign is preserved in a narrative from the “Elisha Cycle” (2 Kgs 3) of northern origin. Therefore, the Chronicler does not present a parallel text. The ruler of Edom, a vassal of Judah, is called “king” in this narrative in contrast to the entry from the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah which calls him a “commissioner” (1 Kgs 22:48 [Eng 47]). In any case, the Edomites joined the van since they were subservient to Judah. The allies chose to invade Moab from the south, to avoid the possible danger of a counterattack by the Arameans or the Ammonites. They marched by the “way of Edom,” around the southern end of the Dead Sea (2 Kgs 3:8). On the desert road they suffered from extreme heat and thirst until they were saved by a flash flood, a phenomenon not uncommon in the canyons of the Arabah. Rain had fallen on the plateau above causing a sudden runoff down below. 

 It was most likely the ascent by “the ascent of Luhith . . . the road to Horonaim” (מַעֲלֵה הַלּוּחִית … דֶּרֶך חׂרׂנַיִם; Isa 15:5; Jer 38:3, 5, 34) that they ascended from the Dead Sea to the plain above. It is this which Mesha probably refers to in his inscription. The invaders wreaked havoc with the southern Moabite countryside. 

Thus they were destroying the cities; and each one was throwing a stone on every piece of good land and filled it. And they were stopping all the springs of water and they were felling all the good trees. Until in Kir-hareseth they left its stones; and, the slingers surrounded (it) and they struck it.                                                                   (2 Kgs 3:25)

 Mesha was forced to withstand a siege in his southern capital, Kir-hareseth (קִּיר חֲרָשֶׁת). The Targums render the name of this site as כַּרְכָּא “fortified city” which points to the identification with Kerak. The town is also called Kir-heres (קִיר-חֶרֶשׂ; Jer 48:31, 36) but the Septuagint has Kiradaß (Jer 31:31, 36) which strongly suggests that the original was “New Town” (קִיר חָדָשׁ; van Zyl 1960:70_71). That certainly must have been the real name of this city; the MT variants קִיר-חֶרֶשׂ and קִּיר חֲרָשֶׁת, “city of clay, potsherds,” are simply pejoratives. But there is no reason to apply them to Dibon (contra Jones 1991; Smelik 1992:85_90; Dearman 1997:212). The ensuing passage has caused much misunderstanding.

When the king of Moab saw that the battle was too fierce for him, he took with him 700 men who drew swords, to break through to the king of Edom; but they could not. Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place, and offered him as a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel, and they departed from him and returned to their own land.               (2 Kgs 3:26_27)

 Commentators through the ages have assumed that Mesha sacrificed his own son. Even the Septuagint may have thought the same thing because instead of rendering “great wrath” on Israel, they rendered meta¿meloß, “repentence,” as if the Israelites were so shocked that they regretted their actions and withdrew. However, the very idea that ancient Israel (at least in the Deuteronomist's view) would have felt remorse at the human sacrifice of an enemy is so outlandish that it must be rejected out of hand. The proper meaning of the very laconic passage was seen by Radak (Rav David Kim˙i). His comment on this passage is as follows:

“So he took his firstborn son”—the interpretation of my father of blessed memory, that the son of the king of Edom who was qualified to reign in his stead was under the control of the king of Moab and for that reason he had come with the two kings because he thought to rescue, with their help, his son from the hand of the king of Moab and when the king of Moab thought to make a breakthrough against the king of Edom and was not able to do so, he took in his anger the son of the king of Edom and offered him up on the wall and burned him before the eyes of his father, that is, “and he offered him up as an offering and burned him just as they burn the burnt offering.

 “And there was great wrath on Israel”—from the king of Edom because he thought that with their help he would deliver his son from the hand of the king of Moab, and that is what is written “concerning his burning the bones of the king of Edom to lime” [Amos 2:1]. And Rabbi, my brother, Rav Moshe, of blessed memory, interpreted: that when the king of Moab thought to make a breakthrough against the king of Edom, then he took his son in the same fighting, he snatched him from them and offered him up on the wall and burned him within sight of his father “and there was great wrath on Israel” from the king of Edom because they did not help him to deliver him from their hand.”

 The view of Rav Kim˙i's father, that the son in question was already a prisoner in Moab, is certainly not supported by the narrative. On the other hand, the interpretation by his brother, Rav Moshe, makes perfect sense and is beyond all doubt correct. When Mesha tried to make a breakthrough (to escape the siege and probably to go north to Dibon), he chose the part of the enemy ranks where the Edomites were stationed, probably thinking that they would be easier prey. But he misjudged his foe; the Edomites did not crack. However, Mesha did manage to take an important prisoner, viz. the son and heir of the Edomite king, who was already the co-regent. It was hardly intentional that the co-regent should have come in close contact with the attacking Moabites. But he was in the ranks and the Moabite onslaught had brought them as far as the reserve backup unit. The latter held their ground and did not let Mesha achieve his escape. The crown prince must have been at the head of this reserve unit and thus exposed to the Moabite charge. He was captured and dragged back into the city. Mesha then took him up on the wall and made him a human sacrifice.

 The Edomites had come in support of Judah and Israel. It may be that they were also responsible for logistic support from their own flocks and food stores. The loss of the crown prince was a fatal blow to the Edomite morale. Their anger against the Israelite army was such that their own withdrawal from the campaign left the Judean and Israelite troops exposed and far from their home bases. They had no choice but to withdraw in ignominy. The sacrifice of the Edomite co-regent was denounced generations later by the prophet Amos (2:1).


Decline of Judah. After the ill-fated campaign against Moab, Jehoshaphat lived for about three years. At his death in 848 bce, he was succeeded by his co-regent Jehoram (2 Kgs 8:16; note that >וִיהוֹשָׁפָט מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה< is missing from LXX). 

Now in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel >Jehoshaphat being then the king of Judah< Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah became king.

(2 Kgs 8:16; with RSV as against ASV, NAS, etc.)

 Jehoram (Joram) was now sole ruler in Judah. It is of special significance that his wife was Athaliah from the house of Ahab (2 Kgs 8:18 || 2 Chr 21:6; 2 Kgs 8:26 || 2 Chr 22:2); that fact is emphasized in order to help explain the evil behavior of Jehoram. One of the subtle changes that took place in Judah was the shift to the non-accession year chronology in vogue in Israel (Thiele 1983:56-60). But the most drastic change was the murder of all the king's brothers who had been appointed by Jehoshaphat to govern cities throughout the kingdom (2 Chr 21:2_4). He was afraid that one of them might challenge his place as sole ruler. He also had other plans of a religious and administrative nature and needed to have his own appointees in place throughout the country.

 The Edomites apparently continued to honor their commitment to Jehoshaphat as long as he was alive, this in spite of the tragedy that befell their co-regent. But when Jehoshaphat died and Jehoram became sole ruler, they renounced their obligations to Judah and openly rebelled:

In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves. Then Joram crossed over to Zair (צָעִירָה), and all his chariots with him. And he arose by night and struck the Edomites who had surrounded him and the captains of the chariots; but [his] army fled to their tents. So Edom revolted against Judah to this day.                                   (2 Kgs 8:20_22a || 2 Chr 21:8_10)

 Zair may be a variant of Zoar (צׂעַר), a town at the southernmost point of the Jordan Valley (Gen 13:10, 14:2, 8; Deut 34:3). Zoar is located on the border of the Moabite hill-country (Gen 19:31_38; Isa 15:5; Jer 48:34). It must have been southeast of the Dead Sea (Jos. War IV, 8:4[482]). Jehoram evidently encountered the Edomites somewhere in the vicinity of Ghor e∆-Ôafîyeh. 

 The apostasy of Edom would leave Judah exposed in the south. To the west, Jehoram's kingdom was to suffer a more serious blow. Libnah, a leading priestly city in the Shephelah, renounced its allegiance to the crown; 2 Kings 8:22b just states that Libnah revolted at that time. The 

reason for the revolt is explained by the Chronicler:

Then Libnah revolted at that time from his authority, because he had abandoned YHWH God of his fathers. And he also made high places in the hill country of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit apostasy and he led Judah astray.                                (2 Chr 21:10b_11)

 These evil deeds were attributed to his connection with the house of Ahab (2 Chr 21:13). The new cult centers were set up in the cities of the hill country (Libnah evidently had too much influence in the Shephelah) where Jehoram had appointed his own governors in place of his brothers and other officials loyal to the policies of Jehoshaphat. The local shrines diverted considerable income from the Jerusalem temple; religious offerings and tithes stayed in the local economy. In Jerusalem he had introduced foreign elements to the central cultural center at the expense of the Judean priesthood.

 The weakening of Judah eventually led to a campaign of revenge by her neighbors who had long been compelled to make imbursements and gratuities to Jehoshaphat (2 Chr 17:10_11).

Then YHWH stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines (הַפְּלִשְׁתִּים) and the Arabs (וְהָעַרְבִים) who bordered the Cushites (כּוּשִׁים); and they came against Judah and assaulted it, and carried away all the possessions found in the king's house along with his sons and his wives, so that no son was left to him except Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.                                        (2 Chr 21:16_17)

 The Arabs (probably including the Meunites) in proximity to the Hejaz (the Arabian Cush) and the Philistines had a common commercial interest. The caravan trade across the highland routes from Transjordan through the Negeb to the Mediterranean coast was a source of appreciable revenue. Hitherto, Judah with the help of the Edomites (also west of the Arabah?) had guarded the trade routes and exacted payments from the caravans. The attack during the reign of Jehoram was aimed at removing the middleman.

 The Deuteronomist gives nothing of this, nor does he mention that Jehoram died of a fatal disease of the bowels (possibly cancer?). The revolts by Edom and Libnah and the invasion by the Philistines and the Arabs are not dated to specific years of the reign. The revolts must have taken place after Jehoram's murder of his brothers and his institution of the new religious infrastructure which must have taken at least a year or maybe more. There was also the unsuccessful military campaign to the Arabah against the rebellious Edomites. So the Edomite and Libnah revolts and the enemy invasion happened a year or two after the beginning of the king's sole rule, i.e. about 846 bce and the onset of his fatal disease. The disease is said to have lasted about two years meaning that its onset was in about 844 or 843 bce, i.e. two years before Jehoram's demise and the murder of his heir, Ahaziah, at the hands of Jehu (841 bce). 

 The Chronicles passage does not speak of conquered Judean cities or even of despoiled cities during the Philistine-Arabian campaign. The main goal was similar to the attempted invasion during the reign of Asa by Zerah the Cushite (2 Chr 14:8_14, 15:1_19, 16:8). The slaughter of the king's sons is seen as retribution for his murdering his brothers. Obviously not all of his wives could have been taken captive because Athaliah was alive and acting as queen mother during her son's short reign. Though the campaign itself seems logical, there is an impression that the Chronicler may have reworked his source to emphasize his belief in poetic justice as the fulfillment of prophecy (cf. the letter from Elisha).

 Ahaziah (Jehoahaz) succeeded his father in 841 bce and ruled less than a year (2 Kgs 8:25_29; 2 Chr 22:2_6) before he was murdered by Jehu. This and subsequent events will be discussed below.


Shalmaneser III Continues to Cam-paign. In his eighth and ninth regnal years (851_850 bce), Shalmaneser was busy helping Marduk-zakir-shumi, king of Babylon, who was facing a rebellion by his brother (Grayson 1996:37, II, 41_54). The resultant success of this effort is illustrated by the relief of Shalmaneser and Marduk-zakir-shumi shaking hands on the façade of the royal throne base in Calah (Oates and Oates 2001:176, Fig. 110 top). In his tenth regnal year (849 bce), Shalmaneser once again turned his attention to the western provinces (Yamada 2000a:165_169). 


Tenth Regnal Year (849 bce). The report begins with the crossing of the Euphrates signifying that the Assyrian army had crossed the upper Jezîrah without meeting any resistance; that area was firmly under their control. The main thrust of the campaign was a brutal attack on the cities of Sangara, the king of Carchemish, and afterwards on the cities of Aramu, the king of B¥t-Agusi. Arnê, the royal capital, was conquered, destroyed and burned along with one hundred (exaggerated?) towns in the vicinity (Grayson 1996:37_38, II, 55-60). Those two kingdoms had evidently stopped their tribute payments during the two year interim. Now they must be taught an object lesson for all the other North Syrian kingdoms to learn. 

 The city of Arnê is probably to be located at Tell ‘Arân, 10.5 miles (17 km) southeast of Aleppo (Parpola and Porter 2001:6; Lemaire and Durand 1984:77), and probably mentioned as [’]rnh in the Sefîreh treaty (I, 34_35; Fitzmyer 1967:52). Scenes on Balawat Bronze Band XII depict the Assyrian conquest of the cities of B¥t-Ag∑si. One has the epigraphs “I conquered the city Arnê of Arame” et al.

 Then there follows the laconic statement that Hadad-‘i∂ri of Damascus and Ir≈ul®ni of Hamath came to do battle with Shalmaneser. They were accompanied by “the twelve kings of the sea shore” (Grayson 1996:37_38, II, 60_67). The allies are not listed so there is no way of knowing if all those who took part in 853 bce were present at this time. Neither is the venue of the battle stated. As usual, the Assyrian king claims a stunning victory followed by the taking of much military equipment, a spoil after which the enemies fled for their lives. But the formulae are so stereotyped that one cannot trust them. The allies must have mustered a large force if they halted the Assyrian army in its tracks. No towns in the kingdom of Hamath are mentioned. The coalition continues to oppose Shalmaneser III during the following years, Year 11 (848 bce) and then Year 14 (845 bce).


Eleventh Regnal Year (848 bce). This campaign (Grayson 1996:38, II, 68_III,15) is much like that of the previous year. It starts with a crossing of the Euphrates and an attack of ninety-seven towns of Sangara, king of Carchemish. From there, Shalmaneser passed over to the territory of B¥t-Ag∑si and captured one hundred towns of Aramu. Both Carchemish and B¥t-Ag∑si had continued their resistance to Assyria, perhaps encouraged by the efforts of the central coalition led by Damascus.

 When going on southward, a direct confrontation with the Hamath coalition was avoided. Instead, Shalmaneser went along the Amanus range, and crossed Mount Yaraqu. This mountain is first mentioned in the annals of Ashurna∆irpal II in a context that indicates that it should be equated with Jebel Quseir (Liverani 1992:75). Thus, the Assyrian king had chosen to pass through the friendly state of Pattin, making use of his Assyrian base at Aribua for logistic support (Yamada 2000a:169). This enabled him to invade Hamath territory from the western flank. The city of Ashtammœku was captured along with the many villages in its vicinity. The city of Ashtammœku is identified with modern Stumak (Syriac ’Ishtamak) c. 19 miles (30 km) northeast of Qarqar (Parpola and Porter 2001:6). So this time he was able to strike a serious blow to the territory of Ir≈ul®ni. But at this time, the coalition finally managed to confront him. Using the same idioms (practically word for word) as in the past, the Assyrian scribe claims a victory and a rout of the enemy. The two leaders, Hadad-‘i∂ri and Ir≈ul®ni, were said to have been accompanied by the twelve kings of the sea coast, but again, no list is provided. The tantalizing question is whether Joram of Israel would have taken part in spite of the fact that his father had been slain by the king of Damascus. Did the ancient affinity between Israel and Hamath continue to attract the Israelite king to the ranks of the coalition? It has always seemed difficult to reconcile the enmity between Damascus and Samaria with the Assyrian reports. But the traditional enmity between Hamath and Damascus also did not prevent their joint action against a common foe.

 On his return march, Shalmaneser claims to have conquered a city called Apparazu, a fortress city of Aramu, ruler of B¥t-Ag∑si. The suggestion to locate Apparazu at the village of Tatmarash northwest of Tell Rif‘at (ancient Arpad) matches the presumed northerly route taken by the king of Assyria. Here he received tribute from Qalparunda of Pattin, and climbed Mt. Amanus to cut cedar timber. 


Twelfth Regnal Year (847 bce). The land of Paqarru≈buni is the only military target mentioned in the accounts of the twelfth-year campaign (Grayson 1996:38_39, III, 16_20; Yamada 2000a:178_179). Back in the first regnal year, Shalmaneser had reduced this city and other towns in the vicinity as part of his campaign against B¥t-Adini. The Paqarru≈buni seems to have been in a mountainous zone stretching north of modern Gaziantep, facing the neighboring states of Kummu≈, Gurgum and Carchemish.

 The following year, Shalmaneser turned his attention northward and did not campaign at all in the west.


Fourteenth Regnal Year (845 bce). This campaign is devoted exclusively to confrontation with the central coalition (Grayson 1996:39, III, 24_33). Emphasis is placed on the massive host assembled for the campaign but the figure of 120,000 troops seems hardly credible. Again it is Hadad-‘i∂ri and Ir≈ul®ni with the “twelve kings from the shore of the sea.” Their host was said to be without number. The Annals only report the destruction of the enemies' military equipment and their retreat. This looks like another bloody stalemate; no cities are recorded as being conquered or plundered. However, this is the last time that Hadad-‘i∂ri appears in any Assyrian inscriptions. Four years later, no coalition is encountered. Sargon II records in retrospect that Ir≈ul®ni had become subject to the king of Assyria (Yamada 2000a:182).

 The following two years saw no campaigning in the west. But the Assyrian king was not inactive. In regnal year fifteen (844 bce) he went northward as far as Melid. In the sixteenth year he turned east to the mountains of the Zagros. The campaign of year seventeen (842 bce) saw him receiving tribute from “ the kings of the land of Ùatti.” Then he marched to the Amanus range to cut timber. On the way back, he even engaged in a hunting trip. But no warlike actions are reported. Control of northern Syria seems to have been achieved. During these same years, there were various developments in the states of the southern Levant.


Political Developments 

Damascus. Hadad-‘i∂ri disappears after the battle in 845 bce. By the time Shalmaneser III returns to the west, there is a new ruler in Damascus, Hazael “son of a nobody.” The biblical “Elisha Cycle” preserves a tale about prophetic involvement in the coup d'etat staged by the new ruler.

Then Elisha came to Damascus. Now Ben-hadad king of Aram was sick, and it was told him, saying, “The man of God has come here.” The king said to Hazael, “Take a gift in your hand and go to meet the man of God, and inquire of YHWH by him, saying, "Will I recover from this sickness?'” So Hazael went to meet him and took a gift in his hand . . . and he came and stood before him and said, “Your son Ben-hadad king of Aram has sent me to you, saying, "Will I recover from this sickness?'” Then Elisha said to him,. “Go, say to him, "You will surely recover,' but YHWH has shown me that he will certainly die.” . . . And Elisha answered, “YHWH has shown me that you will be king over Aram.” So he departed from Elisha and returned to his master, who said to him, “What did Elisha say to you?” And he answered, “He told me that you would surely recover.” On the following day, he took the cover and dipped it in water and spread it on his face, so that he died. And Hazael became king in his place.

(2 Kgs 8:7_15)

 Whatever the veracity of this narrative, there was a change in leadership in Aram-Damascus that is also confirmed by Shalmaneser's inscriptions. The pedigree of Hazael is not given, either in the Bible or in Assyrian sources. He was evidently someone close to the king, presumably his chief military commander. The king is called Ben-hadad (Aramaic brhdd = Bir-Hadad) and it is usually assumed that this is an error for Hadad-‘i∂ri or else that “Ben-hadad” was some kind of royal epithet like “son of Re‘” in Egypt. However, there is always the possibility that Hadad-‘i∂ri died shortly after 845 bce and was succeeded by a son, Ben-hadad (Jepsen 1942:158_159; Pitard 1987:132_138). This latter had become ill and that provided an occasion for Hazael to stage a military coup. It seems more likely that Hazael would dare to murder an inexperienced son rather than a venerable monarch such as Hadad-‘i∂ri, who had led his troops in so many fierce battles against the Assyrian monster. The allusion to Hadad-‘i∂ri's death in the Summary text on a statue of Shalmaneser III, viz. “Hadad-‘i∂ri went to his fate; Hazael, the son of a nobody, seized the throne” (Grayson 1996:118, I, 25_27; Pitard 1987:134_136), does not preclude the possibility that Hadad-‘i∂ri was succeeded by a Ben-hadad who was in turn assassinated by Hazael. The fact that this much telescoped text does not charge Hazael with Hadad-‘i∂ri's murder may suggest that Hazael came to the throne by some other means. 


Israel and Judah. Whenever Hadad-‘i∂ri died, his erstwhile partner, Ir≈ul®ni of Hamath, broke their alliance and submitted to Shalmaneser III. Henceforth, Hamath was a tribute-paying vassal of Assyria. Later, Hazael's son, Ben-hadad, would try to conquer the Hamath kingdom by force (cf. infra).

 On the other hand, the simmering enmity between Aram-Damascus and Israel came to a head with Hazael's rise to power. Joram of Israel enlisted the aid of Ahaziah of Judah to reopen hostilities in Transjordan (2 Kgs 8:28). There is no need to doubt this statement or to excise the name of Ahaziah from the text. The battle was fought in the area of Ramoth-gilead (Tell er-Rumeith) and Joram was wounded. He left his troops at Ramoth-gilead and returned to Jezreel to recuperate. He was joined by Ahaziah (2 Kgs 8:28_29).

 At this point, another narrative from the Elisha Cycle is inserted. It tells how the prophet sent one of his prophets to Jehu, commander of the Israelite forces in Ramoth-gilead, to incite him to revolt and stage a coup against the scion of the House of Omri (2 Kgs 9:1_26). The story is well known: Jehu gained the support of his military officers and rode back to Jezreel with an entourage where he slew King Joram in the open field. The queen mother, Jezebel, was slain afterwards (2 Kgs 9:30_37). The king of Judah shared the same fate:

When Ahaziah the king of Judah saw, he fled by the way of Beth-haggan. And Jehu pursued him and said, “Him also!”<So> (LXX kai«) they smote (LXX e˙pa¿taxen) him at the ascent of Gur, which is at Ibleam. But he fled to Megiddo and died there. 

 Then his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem and buried him in his grave with his fathers in the city of David.                                         (2 Kgs 9:27_28; cf. 2 Chr 22:5_9)

 And his cousins, the sons of his slain brothers, suffered the same fate along with the leading officers of government (2 Chr 22:8; cf. 2 Kgs 10:12_14). The “ascent of Gur” (מַעֲלֵה-גוּר) was the road leading up toward Beth-haggan (Jenîn; possibly Gina of the Amarna tablets, EA 250:17, 21) which is close to Ibleam (Khirbet Bel‘ameh). The young, mortally wounded king was evidently taken to Megiddo, an administrative center where some medical help might be available. The Judean queen mother, Athaliah, assumed the throne (2 Kgs 11:1; 2 Chr 22:10).


Shalmaneser III Returns to the Southern Levant

The Eighteenth Regnal Year—Against Aram-Damascus (841 bce). During this campaign the focus was on the southern Levant. There was no coalition to oppose the Assyrians, only one lone figure, a man who would become the dominant force in the area for the next four decades. That was Hazael, the new king of Damascus. The campaign appears in more than one text but the best preserved is on a stele found in the wall of Ashur (Safar 1951; Grayson 1996:50_56).

In my eighteenth regnal year I crossed the Euphrates for the sixteenth time. Hazael of Damascus trusted in the mass of his troops; he called up a mass of troops. He set up his fortification at Mt. Saniru (Senir), the mountain peak over against Mt. Lebanon.     (Grayson 1996:54, III, 45b_50)

 Shalmaneser must have passed through the kingdom of Hamath on his way to attack Hazael. Therefore, it seems obvious that Ir≈ul®ni had already become a tributary vassal. One cannot say if the Assyrian army marched through the Lebanese Beqa‘ or whether they might have followed the eastern flank of Mt. Senir (Anti-Lebanon). Hazael had had to withdraw his troops from the area of Ramoth-gilead, which may have given Jehu his opportunity to leave his troops there and his rebellion against the royal house.

 Shalmaneser evidently routed the Aramean army:

Sixteen thousand and twenty of his fighting men I felled by the sword. I confiscated one thousand, one hundred and twenty-one of his chariots along with four hundred of his cavalry and his military camp. To save his life, he fled. I pursued him ; in his royal city, the city of Damascus, I confined him. I cut down his orchards; I burned his harvest sheaves.                                   (Grayson 1996:54, III, 51_IV, 4)

 It was seen in Shalmaneser's north Syrian campaigns that he often did not mount a sustained siege of a heavily fortified city (e.g. Til-Barsip). In this present case, he also decided not to pursue the siege tactics which would entail a lengthy stay in the vicinity and intensive logistic support. Instead, he turned his forces southward to look for easier prey.

To the mountain country of Mt. Hauran I went. Towns without number I razed, destroyed; with fire I burned them and took their spoil.                 (Grayson 1996:54, IV, 5_7a)

 Throughout the Hauran (Jebel ed-Druze) the Assyrians undoubtedly found a rich harvest of grain and cattle. The troops were well fed and rewarded. Then it was time to progress to the next leg of the journey. Jehu had just recently staged his coup and followed the example of Hamath by offering tribute to Shalmaneser. After all, Hazael was his implacable enemy. He needed the recognition of a super-power to confirm his position as king of Israel. Furthermore, he had already infuriated one of Israel's most important allies, viz. Tyre, the birthplace of Jezebel. Therefore, Shalmaneser was able to march from the Hauran across the Jordan to the Beth-shean Valley, up to the Jezreel Valley and finally to mount the mighty ridge of Carmel.

I went to the mountain of Mt. Ba‘li-râsi, a headland on the sea, on the border with the country of Tyre. I erected the statue of my royalty in it. I received the tribute of Ba‘limanzer, the Tyrian, of Jehu, and son of Omri.

 (Grayson 1996:54_55, IV, 7b-12a).

 The headland called Ba‘li-râsi, jutted out into the sea and was on the border of the territory of Tyre. Since the boundary between Tyre and Israel at that time must have been at the Carmel range (Aharoni 1970a; 1979:341), there can be no doubt that Ba‘li-râsi must have been the Carmel headland. On one side was the sea (west), on the other side was the territory of Tyre (north). The name brings to mind the Carmel as the venue for the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kgs 18:17_40) and also the name in Thutmose III's topographical list, No. 48: *rôß qudßi, “Holy Headland.” There was a new king in Tyre, Ba‘l-azor.

 Here the tribute was received from Jehu and also from the new king in Tyre, “Ba‘al-‘azor (Balezwroß); the Akkadian orthography, IBa-a‘-li-ma-an-z®r, is probably some kind of folk etymology on the part of the Assyrian scribe. 

On my return trip I went up to Mt. Lebanon; I erected my royal statute by the statue of Tiglath-pileser, a king who preceded me.                                        (Grayson 1996:5, IV 12_15a)

 The Phoenician seacoast was not at all hostile to the Assyrian monarch. He left his statue in Mount Lebanon beside that of Tiglath-pileser I who had made his epic visit to the eastern Mediterranean coast in the eleventh century bce.

The Nineteenth Regnal Year (840 bce). Apparently Shalmaneser's domination of Syria and Phoenicia was now firm enough that no local military action was necessary. In 840 bce, the king went to the Amanus range, collected the tribute from his vassals, “the kings of the land of Ùatti.” He also cut timber on Mount Amanus (Yamada 2000a:195_197). 


The Twentieth Regnal Year (839 bce). In the twentieth-year campaign Shalmaneser crossed the Amanus and invaded the land of Que (= the Cilician plain) for the first time. The excuse for this campaign is not stated. The years from 839 to 829 bce were largely devoted to war in Cilicia and afterwards on the Anatolian plateau. Only two years (838_837 bce) were spent attacking Aram-Damascus. The campaigns to Que may have been instigated by the need to support a vassal state, Sam’al, and its king, Kilamuwa. In the campaign of the twentieth year, Shalmaneser called up the troops of the “kings of Ùatti.” He most likely used the pass through the Amanus that debouched by Sam’al (Zinjirli). He conquered the important cities of Lusanda, Kisuatni and Abarnani on the eastern side of the Cilician Plain. The ruler of Que, Kate, was confined in the royal city of *Pa‘ri, in the western part of the plain, and he had to acquiesce to Assyrian overlordship. Whether this was the occasion for Kilamuwa's call for help against his neighbors is not certain. It could have been one of the later campaigns.

The Twenty-first and Twenty-second Regnal Years (838_837). During these years, Shalmaneser turned his attention once again to the kingdom of Hazael. Perhaps this was a preemptive action to prevent the ruler of Damascus from interfering in the affairs of central Syria. The entry in the Black Obelisk is as follows:

In my twenty-first  regnal year  I crossed the Euphrates  for the twenty-first time. I went to the cities of Hazael of Damascus. I conquered four of his towns. I received the tribute of the land of the Tyrian, the land of the Sidonian and the land of the Byblian. (Grayson 1996:67, lines 102b_104a)

 A more detailed but less preserved version of this campaign is on a fragment of a stone statue found cast out in a field near Calah. Even this text is badly broken but can be reasonably restored. 

[In] my [twenty-first regnal year] I crossed the Euphrates. I received the tribute of the kings of all the kings [of the land of Ùat]ti. From [the land of ??? I de]parted; I took to the slopes of [Mt. Leba]non. I crossed over Mt. Senir. I came down to the cities [of] Hazael of the la[nd of] Damascus. [All?] of the cities panicked ; they took to the  mountain]s to the forts. The city of Ya[br∑d], the city of  

[. . .], the city of Danabu, the city of Mala≈a, fortified cities, I conquered by [the tunneling, the batt]ering ram, and the siege tower. I accomplished their slaughter; their spoil I took. [The cit]ies I razed, I destroyed, I burned with fire. Ba‘il the Ô[imir]rian, grasped my feet. I received his tribute. I set up my royal statue in Laruba, his fortified [ci]ty and the tribute of the land of Tyre, the land of Sidon and the land of Byblos, I received. I went as far as the land of Mu∆uruna.

 (Grayson 1996:78_79, lines 152'_162a'; Yamada 2000b:76_85; 2000a:206_209)

 The first town might be Yabrud, between Nebq and Damascus. It may also be mentioned in the description of southern Aram in the Sefireh treaty (Face B, lines 9_10; Fitzmyer 1967:63; Mazar 1962:118, 169_170). The town has a long history of documentation from classical times (ta Iabrouda, Ptol. Geog. 5:15) to the Arab geographers (Le Strange 1890:550). Mala≈a and Danabu have been the subject of several suggestions but none of them have any degree of certainty. There is a Danaba in the district of Tadmor (Dussaud 1927:266_271) but, in fact, the Eponym Chronicle makes Danaba the object of the campaign in 837 bce (Yamada 2000a:205_206). It would appear that the annals entry has telescoped two years. The Eponym Chronicle makes Mala≈a the chief objective in 838 bce while Danaba was the objective in 837 bce. Therefore, it might be that Shalmaneser was principally concerned with blocking Hazael's access to the Tadmor route which would give him leverage over the troublesome ruler of Damascus who would surely be interested in the caravan route to Mesopotamia. Where exactly to locate these two towns is problematic. The missing town might have been Ùawr¥na or Qaratein, which would mean that the Assyrians had destroyed four of Hazael's strong points on the Damascus-Tadmor road.

 Shalmaneser seems to have completely abandoned any idea of conquering Damascus itself. For his own purposes, he did not need to. This campaign shows that the Phoenician cities were firmly in his orbit so the trade routes from the Lebanese coast through the Homs pass (note the submission of Ba‘il from Ôimirru) to central Syria, and now on to Tadmor, were under his control. Hamath had been a tributary for some years already.

 The land of Mu∆uruna, mentioned at the end of the account, seems to have been located on the Phoenician coast, and may be the Mu∆ri mentioned as a member of the coalition in 841 bce.


The Twenty-third Regnal Year (836 bce). In the twenty-third year (listed as the twenty-second of the Annals), Shalmaneser turned his attention to the land of Tabal, in the Taurus Mountains (Yamada 2000a:209_214). 


The Twenty-fourth Regnal Year (835 bce). This campaign was focused on Melid in eastern Turkey (Yamada 2000a:214_217).


The Twenty-sixth, Twenty-seventh, Twenty-eighth Regnal Years (833_831 bce). In is twenty-fifth regnal year (834 bce), Shalmaneser turned eastward to the Zagros Mountains for a campaign against Namri. Then for the next three years he concentrated his efforts on the conquest of Que. The course of the fighting was from east to west and finally culminated, in 831 bce, in the conquest of Tarsus. This marked the highest point in the ninth-century bce domination of the west. It was probably during one of the campaigns against Que, perhaps the first, that Kilamuwa of Sam’al “hired” the king of Assyria to deliver him from his enemies. The forces of Que were threatening Sam’al which stood at the entry to the pass leading through the Amanus range. (For the Kilamuwa text, cf. Excursus 12.2.)

 During the subsequent campaigns of this reign, the army was led into the field by Dayyan-Ashur, the field marshal of the army (turtœnu). In 830 bce he marched to eastern Turkey, via B¥t-Zamani, in order to attack the kingdom of Urarªu. In the thirtieth year (829 bce; called the 28th palû in the Annals), Dayyan-Ashur led the army to the kingdom of Pattin where insurrectionists had slain the local ruler, Lubarna. Dayyan-Ashur crossed the Euphrates and North Syria to the capital city Kunalua (= Kinalua; probably Tell Ta‘yinât). When the Assyrian army arrived, the pro-Assyrian party evidently managed to slay the  usurper (or did he die of fright?). Order was restored and a new ruler, from a different family, was appointed king. The reason for the rebellion is unknown. There was no support from neighboring states and no attempt to form an anti-Assyrian coalition.

 During the ensuing three years, the Assyrians campaigned in the north and east. Then an internal rebellion broke out over the succession to the throne (826_820 bce; Grayson 1982:269). Shamshi-Adad V, the successor to Shalmaneser III, came to the throne in 823 bce and spent his first years suppressing the revolt of Ashur-da’in-apla, probably a rival brother of the royal family. He evidently had to make a demeaning treaty with the king of Babylonia to gain support. After the revolt ended, the king conducted or sent three campaigns to the north land, Nairi, perhaps mainly to acquire horses for the army (probably 819, 818, 815 bce). Then he turned against Babylon since a new king had taken the throne. Four campaigns were launched (814_811 bce; Grayson 1996:80_199; 1976b). Shalmaneser V seems to have maintained control of the west as far as Kar-Shalmaneser (Til-Barsip), but the states of the Levant were able to enjoy a relaxation of Assyrian pressure for tribute. 


The assassination of both the king of Israel, Joram, and the king of Judah, Ahaziah, at the same time led to violent developments in the respective kingdoms. Jehu's revolt had doubtless been sparked by the strains of renewed conflict with Hazael of Damascus. The results were perhaps positive in the removal of an unworthy regime in Israel, but Judah saw an even worse government than before.


The House of Jehu. A coup d'état against the House of Omri/Ahab (2 Kgs 9_10), instigated by the leading prophets of the kingdom, opened the way to the establishment of a new dynasty, the house of Jehu. Jezebel's father, Ethobaal, king of Tyre and the Sidonians, must have died by then because Shalmaneser III received tribute from a new king in 841 bce. The murder of Jezebel by Jehu naturally signaled the end of the close ties between Israel and Phoenicia but their mutual submission to the Assyrian invader at least kept them on the same side against Hazael.

 Jehu reigned for twenty-eight years, non-accession reckoning, i.e. twenty-seven actual years (841_814 bce; Thiele 1983:103_104). One of his first political steps was to eliminate the entire family of Ahab within his borders as well as forty-two relatives of Ahaziah from Judah 

(2 Kgs 10:1_14, 17). Then he also slaughtered the priests and prophets of Baal imported by the previous government (2 Kgs 10:18_28).

 For a few years, Jehu's payment of tribute to Assyria may have provided him with some protection. But that was not to last. The final campaigns against Hazael's territory on the part of the Assyrians were in 838_837 bce (cf. supra). For the next two decades, the Assyrians were preoccupied elsewhere and the revolt during the reign of Shamshi-Adad V meant that their influence west of the Euphrates was practically nil.

 Now Hazael could flex his muscles. As the only power in the south-central Levant that did not bow the knee to Ashur, he was in a position to enforce his will on his neighbors and gain control of the previous highways from Arabia through Gilead.

In those days YHWH began to cut off territory from Israel; and Hazael smote them throughout the territory of Israel: from Transjordan, all the land of Gilead: the Gadites and the Reubenites and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the valley of the Arnon, and Gilead and Bashan. 

(2 Kgs 10:32_33)

 The conquest of Gilead was long remembered in Israel. Late in the eighth century bce, the prophet Amos described it:

Thus spoke YHWH, “For three crimes of Damascus and for four I will not revoke: Because they threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron. So I will send fire upon the house of Hazael and it will consume the citadels of Ben-hadad. I will also break the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the valley of Aven, and him who holds the scepter, from Beth-eden; so the people of Aram will go exiled to Kir,” YHWH said.                      (Amos 1:3_5)

 It seems most likely that the attack on 

Gilead was supported by the Ammonites as allies of Damascus. Note the following oracle by Amos:

Thus spoke YHWH, “For three crimes of the Ammonites and for four I will not revoke: Because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their borders. So I will kindle a fire on the wall of Rabbah and it will devour her citadels amid war cries on the day of battle, and a tempest on the day of thunderstorm. Their king will go into exile, he and his princes together,” YHWH said.                                               (Amos 1:13_15)

 The mention of Aroer by the Arnon (2 Kgs 10:33) assures that Moab was also an active partner on the side of Damascus. Mesha had wrenched all of the tableland of Moab from the grasp of the house of Omri (cf. 2 Kgs 13:20).

 But the depredations of Damascus on Israelite territory went far beyond just Transjordan. Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, succeeded his father in 814 bce and reigned for seventeen non-accession years, sixteen actual years, until 798 bce. During his reign the pressure from Damascus was intensified (2 Kgs 13:22). Unfortunately, the Deuteronomist does not provide specific details. But the recently discovered Tel Dan inscription shows that during Hazael's reign, that northern Israelite town was in Aramean hands. (cf. Excursus 12.3). The inscription makes reference to the assassination of the two kings of Israel and Judah in a broken but indisputable context:

(7) [so that then they killed (qtlw) Jo]ram, son of [Ahab, (8) king of Israel, and [they] killed (qtlw) [Ahazi]yahu, son of  [Joram, kin-] (9) g of the House of David;

(Tel Dan inscription: lines 7_9)

 The verb “to kill” (in 3rd masc. pl.; cf. Excursus 12.3 for discussion) and the broken name of the king of Israel which ends in -RM alongside the name of a king of “the House of David” whose name ends in -YHW can only refer to Joram and Ahaziah. Furthermore, the parallel with “king of Israel” assures that the “House of David” can be none other than the kingdom of Judah. This coincides that the entry in the Mesha‘ inscription where the “House of David” appears (cf. Excursus 12.2). The proper analysis of the verbs  makes it clear that the Aramean author of the text does not claim to have been the slayer of the two kings. But their deaths were a result of his victorious actions in defeating many enemy kings. The Aramean author claims that his father engaged in warfare before him. Hazael is called “son of a nobody” by Shalmaneser III, a reference to his being a usurper. But Hazael may be claiming (falsely) that his predecessor was his father or else he may have been a son of Hadad-i∂ri by some minor wife and thus the half-brother of the Ben-hadad whom he murdered. Perhaps these questions will never be definitively answered. In any case, the broken stele from Tel Dan shows that Israel had suffered the loss of its northern territories at that time. 

Further Developments in Judah. As queen mother (g‹∫îrah), Athaliah must have enjoyed an extraordinary position with regard to public ritual, and she probably also exerted influence on political matters. Her son Ahaziah's participation with Joram of Israel in the campaign against the Hazael at Ramoth-gilead 

(2 Kgs 8:28), was most likely due to Athaliah's influence on her twenty-two-year- old monarch. When Ahaziah went to visit his wounded cousin, Jehoram, at Jezreel, he was assassinated at Jehu's command (2 Kgs 9:21_29). Another forty-two members of the Judean royal family were also murdered on Jehu's explicit instructions (2 Kgs 10:12_14).

 The slaughter of the Omride royal family, viz. all of Athaliah's relatives, ended the erstwhile alliance between Judah and Israel. This permitted Athaliah to seize power in Jerusalem. She had the surviving males of the House of David put to death (2 Kgs 11:1 = 2 Chr 22:10). Ahaziah's son Joash was saved from the slaughter:

Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, saw that her son was dead, so she rose and annihilated all the royal offspring. But Jehosheba, <the wife of Jehoiada the priest> (2 Chr 22:11), the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him from among the king's sons who were being put to death, and she put him and his nurse in the sleeping quarters. So they hid him from Athaliah, and he was not put to death  So he was hidden with her in the house of YHWH six years, while Athaliah was reigning over the land. 

(2 Kgs 11:1_3 = 2 Chr  22:10_12)

 Athaliah now ruled as absolute monarch for six actual years (non-accession reckoning). She followed a policy of internal rule modeled after that of Jezebel and Ahab in Israel; she had exercised powerful religious influence on her husband and their son (2 Kgs 8:18, 26_27; 2 Chr 22:3). Thus, she had inspired the building of a temple to Baal in Jerusalem or its environs (2 Kgs 11:18) and she had fostered the local cult places for Baal that her husband had permitted throughout the kingdom (2 Chr 21:11) and allowed her close followers (“her sons”) to plunder the temple of YHWH and to make use of its implements.

Because, as for the wicked Athaliah, her “sons” (בָּנֶיהָ) had broken into the house of God and even used the holy things of the house of YHWH for the Baals.       (2 Chr 24:7)

 The cults of Baal were evidently manned by officiants who had either come with her from Samaria or else had joined her circles during the reign of her husband, Jehoram. Opposition to her rule, which eventually led to her downfall, came from the cadre of priests in the Jerusalem temple, and also from leading military circles, including the elite Carite (הַכָּרִי) palace guards, with support of the body politic consisting of full-fledged Judean citizens. The Levitical military units charged with protection of the temple of YHWH were also recruited for the coup d'état (2 Chr 23:2).

 In the seventh year of her reign (non-accession reckoning), Athaliah was deposed (2 Kgs 11:4_20 || 2 Chr 23:1_21). The rightful heir had been hidden in the sleeping quarters used by the temple personnel on their tours-of-duty in Jerusalem. The conspiracy was initiated by Jehoiada the priest whose wife was a daughter of Jehoram (probably not by Athaliah). Careful plans were laid beforehand. It was timed for the changing of the guards at the temple complex so that there would be a double complement of troops on hand. These were “Levites,” according to the Chronicler (2 Chr 23:32). The seven-year-old Joash was proclaimed king within the temple precincts while surrounded by the armed supporters. Athaliah was taken completely by surprise and had no chance for any counter-measures on the part of her own supporters. She was seized and dragged out of the sacred complex to a palace gate where she was summarily put to death (2 Kgs 11:16, 20). The temple of Baal in Jerusalem was destroyed by the “people of the land” (2 Kgs 11:18). 

 Joash/Jehoash, son of Ahaziah by Zibiah from Beer-sheba, became king at the age of seven in the seventh year of Jehu, king of Israel (2 Kgs 11:21; 2 Chr 24:1). His reign was forty years according to the non-accession system, i.e. thirty-nine actual years (835_796 bce). So long as his mentor, Jehoiada the chief priest, was alive, Joash maintained a stable rule but does not seem to have had the resources to expand his territory or to improve Judah's position in the regional matrix. Obviously, he had not recouped the losses of his grandfather, Jehoram, to the Philistines and the Edomites. It can probably be assumed that Libnah, a priestly city, had reaffirmed its loyalty to the crown.

 The only affair given any attention in the biblical accounts is that of refurbishing the temple (2 Kgs 12:4_16; 2 Chr 24:4_14). It is not stated when the king initiated the program but in his twenty-third year (813 bce) the work had not been done (2 Kgs 12:6 [HMT 12:7]).

 The later developments in his reign after c. 800 bce will be treated in chapter 13.


The successor to Shamshi-Adad V was Adad-nirœri III. During his reign the weakening of monarchial authority in Assyria is clearly seen (Grayson 1983:271_273). Practically no royal inscriptions are available but several stelae found throughout the empire show that local or regional governors and also the chief military officer (turtœnu) exercised considerable authority in the affairs of state. The queen mother, Sammuramat (the legendary Seramis) also appears prominently in royal inscriptions. 

 There were numerous military campaigns during this reign, mostly to the north and east and also to Babylon, but also a few to the west (Tadmor 1973). The most notable was the reconquest of Arpad in 805 bce. The ruler there, Atarshumki, had induced the rulers of North Syria to stop paying their tribute to Assyria. But at some time during his reign, he had benefited from a border delineation by Adad-nirœri III as demonstrated by a stele found along the lower Orontes (Grayson 1996:203, II, 4_8a). In another inscription, found in Kummu≈ (Grayson 1996:205, II, 7b_15a), the king says that Ushpilulume, king of Kummu≈, had caused Adad-nirœri and his mother, Sammuramat, to cross the Euphrates. At the city of Paqarru≈buni, they encountered a coalition of eight kings, led by Atarshumki. These latter had evidently come to make war on Ushpilulume who had then called to Assyria for help. After a pitched battle the coalition members dispersed and Adad-nirœri seized their camp and military equipment. Other fragmentary inscriptions allude to the same episode. None of them give a date for the campaign. The Saba’a inscription (Grayson 1996:207_209) refers to the campaign in the fifth regnal year of the king (Grayson 1996:208_209, lines 11b_20). Then in the following context reference is made to the siege and submission of Damascus. However, the chronological sequence of the text is highly questionable. It is more likely that the Damascus incident actually happened much later. The text itself dates from 797 bce or later (Grayson 1996:207) and the allusion to the Damascus affair suggests that it is several years later at least.

 The Eponym List is complete for his reign and campaigns to the west are documented for the following:

808 bce Nergalilœya ana œl G∑zœna “to the city of Gozan”

805 bce Aßßur-taklœk ana mœt Arpadda “to the land of Arpad”

804 bce Ili-issiya ana œl Ùazazi “to the city of Ùazazi”

803 bce Nergal-®reß ana œl Ba’li “to the city of Ba‘li-(ßap∑na)” (?)v

802 bce Aßßur-balti-ekurri ana mu≈≈i tamtim m∑tœnu “plague towards the sea”

796 bce Aßßur-b®lu-u∆ur ana man∆uate “to Man∆uate”


 The entries for the years 803 and 802 bce are problematic and cannot be used to elucidate the Assyrian military activity in the west. The significance of the entry for 796 bce will be discussed in chapter 13.

Excursus 12.1


In 1868 a basalt stele was discovered by European visitors to the Transjordanian village of Dh¥bân (the site of biblical Dibon). The stele was covered with alphabetic writing on one side. After a feverish competition between European consuls to purchase the artifact, the Turkish governor at Nablus decided to send troops to investigate. The local residents wanted to avoid governmental interference so they built a fire on the stone and then poured water over it and caused it to break into many pieces. Eventually many of the fragments were purchased and the French orientalist Charles Clermont-Ganneau succeeded in restoring the stele using plaster for the missing parts. The lost sections of the inscription were partially restored by use of a papier-mâché squeeze that had been made prior to the stele's destruction (Graham 1989). In recent years, the squeeze was found in the archives of the Louvre and several important corrections were made, based on improved photographs of the squeeze (Lemaire 1987, 1994).

 The language of the inscription provides brilliant synchronic proof that biblical Hebrew prose was a flourishing dialect in the mid-ninth century bce. (For a newly discussed Moabite inscription, cf. Ahituv 2003, 2004.)

 The ensuing text and translation are arranged according to the syntax of the inscription (Rainey 2001b). This reveals that the text is beautifully organized into paragraphs that reflect historical and geographical progression. Superscript numerals mark the lines of the original.



1אנכ . משע . בנ . כמש[ית] . מלכ . מאב . הד2יבני | אבי . מלכ . על . מאב . שלשנ . שת . ואנכ . מלכ3תי . אחר . אבי |

1I am Mesha‘ the son of Chemosh[-yat?] king of Moab, the Da2ibonite. My father reigned over Moab thirty years and I reign3ed after my father.


Altar Dedication

ואעש . הבמת . זאת . לכמש . בקרחה | במ[ת . י]4שע . כי . השעני . 

מכל . מלכן . וכי . הראני . בכל . שנאי |

and I built this altar platform for Chemosh in the citadel, an altar platform of [sal]4vation because he saved me from all the kings and because he gave me the victory over all my adversaries. 


(1a) Historical Introduction

עמר5י . מלכ . ישראל . ויענו . את מאב ימנ רבנ כי יאנפ כמש באר6צה | ויחלפה . בנה . ויאמר . גם . הא . אענו . את . מאב | בימי אמר כ[נ] 7וארא . בה . ובבתה | וישראל . אבד . אבד . עלמ

Omr5i was king of Israel and he oppressed Moab many days because Chemosh was angry with his l6and. And his son replaced him and he also said, “I will oppress Moab. In my days he spoke {thus} 7but I was victorious over him and his house and Israel suffered everlasting destruction. 


(1b) Medeba and Environs

וירש . עמרי .את . אר8צ . מהדבא | וישב . בה . ימה . וחצי . ימי . בנה . ארבענ . שת . וי[ש]9בה . כמש . בימי | ואבנ . את . בעלמענ . ואעש . האשוח . ואב[נ .] 10את . קריתנ |

But Omri conquered the lan8d of Mehadeba and he dwelt there during his reign and half the reign of his son, forty years, but Chemosh 9returned it in my days. So I (re)built Baal-maon and I made the reservoir in it and I bu[ilt] 10Kiriaten.


(2a) Ataroth

ואש . גד . ישב . בארצ . עטרת . מעלמ . ויבנ . לה . מלכ . י11שראל . 

את . עטרת | ואלתחמ . בקר . ואחזה | ואהרג . את . כל . העמ . [ו]12הקר . הית . לכמש . ולמאב | ואשב . משמ . את . אראל . דודה . 

וא[ס]13חבה . לפני . כמש . בקרית | ואשב . בה . את . אש . שרנ . ואת . א[ש] . 14מחרת

The man of Gad had dwelt in ‘Aªarot (Ataroth) from of old and the king of Israel 11built ‘Aªarot (Ataroth) for him. But I fought against the city and I took it and I slew all the people, [but] 12the city became the property of Chemosh and of Moab and I confiscated from there its Davidic altar hearth and I 13dragged it before Chemosh in Kerioth, and I settled in it men of Sharon and m[en] 14of Ma˙aroth.


(2b) Nebo

ויאמר . לי . כמש . לכ . אחז . את . נבה . על . ישראל | וא15הלכ . 

בללה . ואלתחמ . בה . מבקע . השחרת . עד . הצהרמ | ואח16זה . 

ואהרג . כל[ם] . שבעת . אלפנ . גברנ . וגרנ | וגברת . ו[גר]17ת . 

ורחמת | כי . לעשתר . כמש . החרמתה | ואקח . משמ . א[רא]18לי . יהוה . ואסחב . המ . לפני . כמש |

And Chemosh said to me, “Go! Seize Nebo against Israel,” so I 15proceeded by night and I fought with it from the crack of dawn to midday and I to16ok it and I slew all of it, seven thousand men and youths and women and maid17ens and slave girls because I had dedicated it to ‘Ashtar-Chemosh. And I took [the al]18tar hearths of YHWH and I dragged them before Chemosh.


(3) Yaha∆ (Jahaz) and Environs

ומלכ . ישראל . בנה . את . 19יהצ . וישב . בה . בהלתחמה . בי | 

ויגרשה . כמש . מפני . ו20אקח . ממאב . מאתנ . אש . כל . רשה | ואשאה . ביהצ . ואחזה . 21לספת . על . דיבנ |

And the king of Israel had built 19Yahaz and he dwelt in it while he was fighting with me, but Chemosh drove him out from before me, so 20I took from Moab two hundred men, all of his best, and I brought them to Yahaz and I seized it 21in order to add (it) to Daibon.


(4a) Construction in Dibon

אנכ . בנתי . קרחה . חמת . היערנ . וחמת . 22העפל | ואנכ . בנתי . 

שעריה . אנכ . בנתי . מגדלתה | וא23נכ . בנתי . בת . מלכ . ואנכ . עשתי . כלאי . האשו[ח . ל]מינ . בקרב . 24הקר | ובר . אנ . בקרב . הקר . בקרחה . ואמר . לכל . העמ . עשו . ל25כמ . אש . בר . בביתה . ואנכ . כרתי . המכרתת . לקרחה . באסר26י . ישראל |

I (myself) built for the citadel the “wall of the forests” and “the wall of 22the rampart” and I built its gates and I built its towers and 23I built a royal palace and I made the channels for the reservo[ir for] water in the mid24st 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] 25yourselves each man a cistern in his house. And I hewed the shafts for the citadel with prisoner26s of Israel. 


(4b) Other Building Projects

אנכ . בנתי . ערער . ואנכ . עשתי . המסלת . בארננ | 27אנכ . בנתי . 

בת . במת . כי . הרס . הא | אנכ . בנתי . בצר . כי . עינ . 28[ה]א | [וא]ש . דיבנ . חמשנ . כי . כל . דיבנ . משמעת | ואנכי . מל[כ]29ת[י . 

על . ה]מאת . בקרנ . אשר . יספתי . על . הארצ |

ואנכ . בנת30י . [בת . מהד]בא . ובת . [ד]בלתנ | ובת . בעלמענ . ואשא . שמ . את . נ[?]31[קדי . לרעת . את . ]צאנ . הארצ |

I built ‘Aro‘er and I made the highway(s) in the Arnon. 27I built Beth-bamoth because it was in ruins. I built Bezer because {it was} 28a ruin. The men of Daibon were armed because all of Daibon was under orders and I rul29ed [over] one hundred towns which I had annexed to the land. And I buil30t [the temple of Made]ba and the temple of Diblatên and the temple of Baal-maon and I carried there [my] h[ ]31[erdsmen to tend ] the small cattle of the land.


(5) Southern Campaign

וחרננ . ישב . בה . בת[ד]וד[ . כ]אש[ר] . 32[הלתחמ . בי .] . ויאמר . לי . כמש . רד . הלתחמ . בחורננ | וארד . [ואל]33[תחמ . בקר . ואחזה . 

ויש]בה . כמש . בימי . ועלתי . משמ . עשת[י?]

And as for Óawronen, the [Ho]use of [Da]vid dwelt in it [wh]ile 32[it fought with me and] Chemosh [s]aid to me, “Go down, fight against Óawronen,” so I went down [and I fo]33[ught with the city and I took it and] Chemosh [ret]urned it in my days. 


(6) Conclusion(?)

34[- - - - - - - - - - - - לע]שת . צדק | ואנ[כ-?]

Then I went up from there to ma[ke] 34 [. . .  to ]do justice and {I} [ . . . ]

Excursus 12.2


Zinçirli stands at the eastern entrance to the major pass leading through the Amanus range from Syria to Cilicia. An Aramaic inscription of a statue of Hadad was discovered there in 1890. Excavations at the tel of Zinçirli in the early twentieth century (1902) by a German expedition brought to light the ruins of a major fortified city. At the entry to a palace on the citadel was found a stone slab, badly fragmented by the fire that destroyed the city. The restored inscription is now in the Vorderasiatische Museum in Berlin (collated June 2004). The author of the inscription, Kilamuwa, has an Anatolian name though at least two of his immediate ancestors have Semitic names. Although this inscription is in Phoenician due to strong Phoenician influence in Cilicia, it would appear that the population represented a symbiosis of Anatolian and Aramean peoples (Hawkins 1982:386_387). 

 1. ’nk . klmw . br . ˙y[’]

 2. mlk . gbr . ‘l . y’dy . wbl . p[‘l]

 3. kn bmh . wb{l} . p‘l . wkn . ’{b} .{˙}y’ . wbl . {p}‘l . wkn . ’˙

 4. ß’l . wbl . p‘l . w{’}n[k] . k{l}mw . br . t{m}- . m’ß . p‘lt

 5. bl . p‘l hlpnyhm . kn . bt ’by . bmtkt . mlkm . ’d

 6. rm . wkl . ßl˙ . yd l<h>l˙m . wkt . byd . ml{k}m km’ß . ’klt

 7. zqn . w[km]’ß . ’klt . yd . w’dr ‘ly mlk . d[n]nym . wßkr .

 8. ’nk . ‘ly . mlk ’ßr . ‘lmt . ytn . bß . w{g}br . bswt . 

 9. ’nk . klmw. br . ˙y’ . yßbt . ‘l . ks’ ’by . lpn . hm

10. lkm . hlpnym . ytlnn . mßkbm . km . klbm . w’nk . lmy . kt . ’b . wlmy . kt . ’m . 

11. wlmy . kt . ’˙ . wmy . bl ˙z . pn . ß . ßty . b‘l . ‘dr . wmy . bl ˙z . pn . ’lp . ßty . b‘l

12. bqr . wb‘l . ksp . wb‘l . ˙r∆ . wmy . bl . ˙z . ktn . lmn‘ry . wbymy . ksy . b

13. ∆ . w’nk . tmkt . mßkbm . lyd . whmt . ßt . nbß . km . nbß ytm . b’m . wmy . bbn

14. y ’ß . yßb . t˙tn . wyzq . bspr z . mßkbm . ’l ykbd . lb‘rrm . wb‘rr

15. m . ’l ykbd . lmßkbm wmy . yß˙t . hsbr z . yß˙t . r’ß . b‘l . ∆md . ’ß . lgbr

16. wyß˙t . r’ß . b‘l ˙mn . ’ß . lbmh . wrkb’l . b‘l . bt .

I am Kilamuwa son of Óaya[’].

Gabar reigned over Ya’diya and d[id] nothing.

There was BMH and he did nothing. And there was my father, Óaya’, and he did nothing. And there was my brother, Sha’îl, and he did nothing. And as for me, Kilamuwa, son of TM{T}(?), what I did, none of the predecessors did. My father's house was in the midst of mighty kings and they all put forth a hand to eat. But I was in the hand of the kings like fire devouring the beard and [like] fire devouring the hand. But the kings of the Da[nu]nites overpowered me and I hired the king of Ashur. He gave a maiden for a sheep and a man for a garment.

I Kilamuwa, son of Óaya’, sat on the throne of my father. Before the former kings, the mßkbm complained like dogs. But as for me, to whom was I a father and to whom was I a mother and to whom was I a brother. And whoever never saw the face of a sheep, I made him owner of cattle and the owner of silver and the owner of gold, and whoever never saw linen from his youth, but in my day he was covered with byssus. And I supported the mßkbm by the hand and I made their soul like the soul of an orphan towards a mother. 

 And whoever among my sons that will sit after me and will damage this inscription, may the mßkbm not honor the b‘rrm and may the b‘rrm not respect the mßkbm and whoever will smash this inscription, may Baal-Samad of Gabar smash his head and may Baal-Óaman of BMH smash his head and Rakib-’el, the lord of the dynasty.

(KAI 24) 

Excursus 12.3

the tel dan inscription

In 1992 and 1994, fragments of an Aramaic inscription in archaic script were found at Tel Dan (Tell el-Q⃥). The original was a display description (Biran and Naveh 1993, 1995). There is no doubt that this is an authentic text.

 It is possible to add a few remarks about some suffix forms in the recently discovered Aramaic inscription from Tel Dan (Rainey 2003f:35_39). Evidently, this text reflects the morphosyntax of Southern Old Aramaic, which shared the narrative discourse patterns of Moabite and biblical Hebrew. The text of the inscription in transcription and translation is as follows:

 1. [    ]{m}r.{‘}[    ]wgz{r}[    ]

 2. [    ]   . ’by . ys{q}[ . ‘lwh . bh]{t} l˙mh . b’{b}[l(?)  ] 

 3. wyßkb . ’by . yhk . ‘l[ . ’bhw]{h} . wy‘l . mlk y[…]

 4. r’l . qdm . b’rq . ’by[ . w]{y}hmlk . hdd[ . ]{‘}[yty .]

 5. ’nh . wyhk . hdd . qdmy[ . w]’pq . m{n} . ßb{’}[t . - - - ]

 6. y . mlky . w’qtl . ml[k]{n} [. rbrb]n . ’sry . ’[lpy . r]

 7. kb . w’lpy . prß .[wqtlw . yhw]rm . br . [’˙’b . ]

 8. mlk . y…r’l . w{q}{t}{l}[w’˙z]yhw . br[ . yhwrm . ml]

 9. k . bytdwd . w’…{m} . [’yt qryt . hm . ˙rbt w’hpk. ’]

10. yt . ’rq . hm . l[yßmn . w’hrg . klh . w’ßb . bh . ’nßn]

11. ’˙rn . wlh{y}[kl’. h˙rmth . wyhw br ‘mry . m]

12. lk . ‘l . y…[r’l . - - - - - ? - - - - - - w’…m]

13. m∆r . ‘l[ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ? - - - - - - - - - ]

 1. [. . .]MR ‘[. . .]and made (a treaty) ? [. . .]

 2. [. . .]-el my father, went up (ys{q) [against him when] he was fighting in A[bel? . . .]

 3. and my father passed away (wyßkb); he went (yhk) to [his ancestors.] Now the king of I[s]rael entered (wy’l)

 4. formerly into the land of my father; [but] Hadad made me myself king ([w]{y}hmlk),

 5. and Hadad went (wyhk) before me; [and] I departed ([w]’pq) from [the] seven [. . .]

 6. of my kingdom; and I slew (w’qtl) mig[hty ki]ngs, who harnessed thou[sands of cha-]

 7. riots and thousands of horsemen, [so that then was killed (qtyl) Jo]ram, son of [Ahab,]

 8. king of Israel, and [was] killed (qtyl) [Ahazi]yahu, son of [Joram, kin-]

 9. g of the house of David; and I set (w’…{m) [their cities to ruins?? and I turned]

10/11. their land into de[solation ? And I slew all of it and I settled in it] other [men].

11 and to the tem[ple I devoted it. And Jehu son of Omri ru-]

12. led over Is[rael . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and I laid down a]

13. siege upon [. . .]

 The prefix preterit forms appear both with and without a conjunction, thus reflecting a very early stage in the use of this narrative form. 

 The original editors of the text seem to have taken for granted the switch to the suffix conjugation in lines 7 (presumed to be parallel to line 8) and line 8. It seems obvious that the missing verb in line 7 would be identical to that in line 8, especially since each verb indicated something about one of the two contemporary kings, Joram and Ahaziah. However, the editors assumed that the suffix verbs must have had the same subject. Thus they restored a taw at the end of the verb in line 8. The reading would have been “and I killed.” That gratuitous assumption on the part of the editors has spawned an endless stream of articles on the historical problem created by this reading. It is assumed that the author of the Tel Dan inscription is claiming that he killed Joram and Ahaziah. But the biblical narrative, 2 Kings 9 and 10, describes how both kings were slain in the rebellion by Jehu. One solution is to take the account in 2 Kings as a mere “prophetic legend” with no real basis in reality (Na'aman 2000b). Another is to assume that there was some kind of collusion between Hazael and Jehu so that Jehu's assassination of the two kings was with the approval and support of the king of Damascus (Schniedewind 1996). None of these solutions is necessary (Rainey 2002); the supposed marker of the first person singular is supplied in the break by the editors. There are strong reasons to reject this restoration.

 First of all, the orthography and paleography: the verb in line 8 (and its presumed parallel in line 7) can be understood as a G passive, i.e. the Imperial Aramaic q‹tîl “(he) was killed.” The form was probably written defectively, without a vowel marker. In fact, it is hard to know when the G passive qatil known in the Amarna Age (Rainey 1996a:2,304_305) acquired its long î theme vowel in Aramaic.

 It was Arye Bernstein who noticed, while examining the Tel Dan text in the Israel Museum, that the curved tail of the broken letter just before the break in line 8 (preceded by wq{t}) looks more like the tail of a yod than it does of a lamed. The Tel Dan stone was examined carefully when it was on display at the Bowers Museum in Santa Anna, California. It is quite possible that Bernstein is correct in his reading.

 One may object to a plene writing of an internal î vowel in the ninth century bce. Until the discovery of the Tell Fekher¥yeh inscription, there were no precedents for it. But in that ninth century Aramaic translation of an Akkadian text, there are three examples (Andersen and Freedman 1992:168_169). The argument in its favor here, if it could be proven to be such an orthography, would be the need felt by the scribe to stress the passive voice of the verbs. Admittedly, the orthography is the Achilles' heel of the suggestion. But even with defective writing, the verb could be passive. In Old Aramaic there are a few examples of passive G but they are all in the prefix conjugation pattern and can only be recognized by their context (Degen 1969:66, 69, 71).

 An alternate suggestion is to supply waw instead of the taw. This would give a third masculine plural form; the plural used as an indefinite subject as a locution for the passive, “they killed.” Such a construction is frequent in Aramaic and can be paralleled by a real passive. Compare the similar contexts:

כְּעַן יְדִיעַ לֶהֱוֵא לְמַלְכָּא דִּי הֵן קִרְיְתָא דָךְ תִּתְבְּנֵא וְשׁוּרַיָּא יִשְׁתַּכְלְלוּן מִנְדָּה בְלוֹ וַהֲלָךְ לָא יִנְתְּנוּן וְאַפְּתֹם מַלְכִים תְּהַנְזִק

Furthermore, the king should know, that if that city is rebuilt and the walls are restored, no more taxes, tribute or duty will be paid.        (Ezra 4:13 NIV)

מִן-הֵיכְלָא דִּי בִירוּשְׁלֶם וְהֵיבֵל הִמּוֹ לְהֵיכְלָא דִּי בָבֶל הַנְפֵּק הִמּוֹ כּוֹרֶשׁ מַלְכָּא מִן-הֵיכְלָא דִּי בָבֶל וִיהִיבוּ לְשֵׁשְׁבַּצַּר שְׁמֵהּ דִּי פֶחָה שָׂמֵהּ

these King Cyrus took from the temple of Babylon and they were given to one whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor.               (Ezra 5:14 NAS)

 Such usages are also frequent in Hebrew and may be paralleled by a real passive:

וּרְשָׁעִים מֵאֶרֶץ יִכָּרֵתוּ וּבוֹגְדִים יִסְּחוּ מִמֶּנָּה

oJdoi« aÓsebw◊n e˙k ghvß ojlouvntai oi˚ de« para¿nomoi e˙xwsqh/-sontai aÓp∆ aujthvß

but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and they will root out the treacherous from it.                        (Prov 2:22 RSV)

Here the third masculine plural active יִסְּחוּ is translated in the Septuagint by the future passive e˙xwsqh/sontai.

 The following passage is from late Hebrew when Aramaic influence can be expected:

וָאוֹמַר לַמֶּלֶךְ אִם-עַל-הַמֶּלֶךְ טוֹב אִגְּרוֹת יִתְּנוּ-לִי עַל-פַּחֲווֹת עֵבֶר הַנָּהָר

And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River. . . .”                                                   (Neh 2:7 RSV)

 Therefore, even if the reading wq{t}{y}[l] for G passive (q‹tîl) in the Tel Dan inscription be rejected as dubious, the form could be G passive written without a mater lectionis or, what is even more likely, the form in question may be read wqtl[w] for third masculine plural (uqtal[û]), “they killed.” The intention of the third masculine plural would be to express the passive, i.e. to state that the two kings were slain.

 Be that as it may, the switch to suffix forms of the verb after a clause (line 6) that begins with a prefix preterit, w’qtl (= *wa’aqtul or the like = Hebrew wœ’eqªºl) has yet to be satisfactorily explained. The inscription does use the prefix preterit with and without the conjunction as in biblical Hebrew and in Moabite (Rainey 2003f:404_406). 

 Given the use of the prefix preterit in the Tel Dan inscription, one may dare to assume that its verbal syntax also employs the suffix conjugation in syntagmas identical to those in biblical Hebrew. Therefore, we propose that this context parallels those biblical passages cited above wherein the suffix conjugation marks a change in subject (from the Aramean king) to the indefinite third plural subject, “they,” to express the passive (cf. above concerning Gen 15:5_6 and 2 Kgs 25:27_29).

 Therefore, it is not justified to seek a historical explanation whereby the author of this text claims to have personally slain Joram and Ahaziah. He may be saying that the two rival kings were assassinated, not by himself, but as an aftermath of his own victories on the field of battle.

Excursus 12.4


Interspersed in the Deute-ronomistic narratives about the House of Omri and the House of Jehu, that is, the two principal dynasties of the northern kingdom of Israel in the ninth century bce, there are folk legends about the activities of two prophets, Elijah and Elisha. It is not clear whether these prophetic stories were already incorporated into the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel or whether they were preserved in their independent source until the Deuteronomist wove them into his narrative. Some of the stories show the prophets taking an active part in the political and social conflicts of their time while others are mainly accounts of their miraculous lives as members of the “prophetic guild.” There is no hint that they were involved in the writing of the chapters pertaining to the House of Omri or the House of Jehu in the ongoing Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. In other words, Elijah and Elisha are not credited anywhere with historiographic writing. 

 The main thrust of the Elijah stories is the conflict between Yahwism and the imported Baal cults brought in by Queen Jezebel and also a moral protest about the murder of Naboth. The Elisha narratives find the prophet taking an active role in political intrigues (inciting Jehu and Hazael to regicide) and counsel to the kings (concerning the siege of Samaria, the campaign against Moab and the advice to Jehoash about an offensive against Aram-Damascus).

 This dichotomy between miracle stories and political actions characterizes all the narratives of the “Elijah/Elisha Cycle.” Since the role of prophets in making political and military decisions is widespread in the ancient Mediterranean/Near Eastern world (from Assyria to Greece), there is no reason to doubt the reality of Israelite prophets being involved in such affairs as military sieges and campaigns and the overthrow of regimes. 

 In the eighth and subsequent centuries bce, there are prophets in Israel (Hosea) and Judah (Amos, Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, Habbakkuk, et al.) and in the post-exilic Yehud (Haggai and Zechariah, Malachi) as well as the prophet of the Exile, Ezekiel. Miracle stories are not a part of their repertoire. Instead, there are compositions assigned to their authorship (certainly reliable for the most part) and some indications that among them were authors of sections of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (for example, Isaiah in the reigns of Uzziah and Hezekiah). In many of the prophetic books there is material of a geopolitical and geographic importance. Their involvement in the historical events of their own day will be woven into the mainstream of historical and geographical discussion in subsequent chapters.