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Poseideion (modern Ba'îª) is located on the North Syrian coast just north of the mouth of the Orontes from which it is separated by the mountains of Mons Casius. It was on the border between Syria and Cilicia but this meant that the actual boundary was somewhere north of the town itself (Leuze 1935:261). Note also that Herodotus says Poseideion was situated on the border of Cilicia and Syria, not Phoenicia. Elsewhere, Herodotus says:

o˚moure÷ei ga\r h Suri/h Ai˙gu/ptwØ, oi˚ de« Foi÷nikeç, tw◊vn e˙sti h Sidw¿n, e˙n thø◊ Suri÷hø oi˙ke÷ousi.

For Syria borders on Egypt, and the Phoenicians, to whom belongs Sidon, dwell in Syria. (Herodotus 2.116)

So Herodotus considers Phoenicia to be part of Syria, but he never called the Phoenicians Syrians (as he does the Palestinians, cf. infra). It is also worthy of note that Sidon is singled out as the most prominent city in Phoenicia, thus reflecting a situation that prevailed throughout the Persian period. One might also note that “Sidonians” is the biblical term for Phoenicians.

Persian Domination


The conquest of Babylon by Cyrus II (the Great) in 539 bce gave the Persian monarch mastery over the entire Neo-Babylonian Empire from east of the Tigris to the Sinai desert. There are no records of any need to campaign in the Levant in order to establish control by the new masters (unlike the campaigns of Nebuchadrezzar after 605 bce). Under the Neo-Babylonians there was no known governor responsible for the entire Ùatti land. At least no such official is documented. With the acquisition of the Babylonian Empire, Cyrus appointed a commissioner (p¥≈œtu) for both Babylon and “Beyond the River.” Probably at the same time there was a subordinate commissioner in charge of only “Beyond the River” (cf. infra). Subsequently, the Levant became a satrapy of the Persian imperial administrative system, first linked to Babylonia and later as an independent unit (possibly 482 bce; cf. infra). The two centuries of Persian history saw the Levant playing its ancient role as a land bridge and as the main focus of eastern Mediterranean maritime activity (cf. especially Rainey 1969a; Stern 1984a; Eph‘al 1988).

Unfortunately, the Persian monarchs did not adorn their palaces with stone slabs bearing texts equivalent to the Assyrian annals of a past era. The Persian royal inscriptions (cited herein by the sigla [in Kent 1953]; recent translations: Lecoq 1997), although usually bi- or trilingual, do not provide much in the way of historical narrative. An exception is the Bisitun (Behistun) Inscription of Darius I (DB in Kent 1953:116_135; von Voigtlander 1978; Greenfield, Porten and Yardeni 1982; Malbran-Labat 1994) that describes his efforts to reunite the empire. Some bits of information can be derived from the other texts and the lists of subject peoples help to understand the geography and ethnography of the empire (cf. Briant 2002:5_10; Wiesehöfer 2001:7_13).

Dating to the Persian period (539_333 bce) are epigraphic witnesses in at least a dozen languages and several scripts (especially Akkadian, Elamite, Aramaic and Greek). However, the majority of real historical data are found in compositions from the Greek world, especially Herodotus in the fifth century bce and Xenophon and the sources utilized by Diodorus for the fourth century bce, plus numerous lesser works of varied substance. The chronology of the Persian kings is well established (Parker and Dubberstein 1956:14_19), based largely on the Ptolemaic Canon and the hundreds of legal and business documents in cuneiform discovered in southern Mesopotamia. The latter are mainly useful for the date formulae and for the social information they contain. Although most of the Greek writers are concerned more with happenings in the Aegean world and Asia Minor, the Greeks, especially of Athens, were active participants in the events of the Eastern Mediterranean. Therefore, the Hellenic historians furnish considerable detail about Asia Minor, Egypt and the Levant. There is also today an abundance of Greek epigraphic material from which useful information is obtained, even though much of it is later in date (usually based on earlier sources). Nevertheless, the Greek writers must be handled critically; they often give precedence to a good story over dry historical fact. The few Semitic texts from the Phoenician and Cypriot cities contribute something but not much historical detail. Numismatics also has a significant role to play.

Herodotus (3.89_95) credits Darius I with organizing the empire into twenty satrapies (satraphi/aß), that is, provinces ruled by a governor with the title satrap (satra/phß/ejxatra/phß < Old Persian xßaçapœvan, “protector of the kingdom”; Akkad. a≈ßad[a]rapan[n]u; Aram. plural only: אֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנַיָּא; Heb. אֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנִים.) The presumed duties of the satrap in the idealized reign of Cyrus II, as seen through Greek eyes are given by Xenophon (Cyr. 8.6.11_13).

Jewish literature recognizes a hierarchy of administrative officers:

הָאֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנִים וְהַפַּחוֹת וְשָׂרֵי הַמְּדִינוֹת

the satraps and the governors and the officers of the provinces. (Esth 8:9)

אֶל אֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ וְאֶל הַפַּחוֹת אֲשֶׁר עַל מְדִינָה וּמְדִינָה וְאֶל שָׂרֵי עַם וָעָם מְדִינָה וּמְדִינָה כִּכְתָבָהּ וְעַם וָעָם כִּלְשׁוֹנוֹ

to the king's satraps, to the governors who were over each province and to the officers over each people, each province according to its script, each people according to its language. (Esth 3:12)

Note the ethnarchs (שָׂרֵי עַם וָעָם), “officers over each people” (= millet). Some of these terms seem flexible in the sources, especially p¥≈œtu = פֶחָה, which may be a generic term for “governor” that can be used for various ranks in the hierarchy, even the satrap of a satrapy.

The Levant as a satrapy figures often in the Eastern Mediterra-nean conflicts but direct data on the internal affairs and ethnographic composition of the smaller administrative units and ethnic polities within the province are scanty. The most detailed information in that respect comes from some biblical books and passages (Hebrew and Aramaic) but their chronological span is limited, mainly to the mid-fifth century bce. These and other epigraphic finds (Samaritan, Egyptian, etc.) will be utilized in the ensuing discussion.

THE NAME “Beyond the River”

As mentioned briefly in Chapter 3, “Beyond the River” is a geographical expression that came to have political and administrative significance. Although there is unequivocal evidence that the Persians knew this area under the name Athura (Assyria; cf. infra), they used eber nœri as an official title in their Semitic documents when referring to the Levantine satrapy, i.e. “Beyond the River.” Individuals who governed the satrapy bore the Akkadian title, NAM e-ber ^D = p¥≈œt Eber Nœri, “governor of Beyond the River” (Ungnad 1907b: No. 152:24_25; San Nicolò and Ungnad 1935:304, No. 327:24_25). Even coins issued by a satrap at Tarsus in the fourth century bce bear the title מזדי זי על עבר נהרא וחלכ, “Mazdai who is in charge of Beyond the River and Cilicia” (Cook 1903:346_347; Hoftijzer and Jongeling 1995: II, 823; Leuze 1935:386_410 [230_254]). The biblical sources from this period reflect the same practice, both in Hebrew and in Aramaic (Heb.: Ezra 8:36; Neh 2:7, 2:9, 3:7; Aram.: Ezra 4:10_11, 4:16_17, 4:20, 5:3; 6:6, 6:8, 6:13). The Gadates inscription from Magnesia renders the same title in Greek as Pe/ran Euj[f]ra/tou, “Beyond the Eu[ph]rates” (ll. 10_11; Dittenberger 1915_24:3, No. 22; Meyer 1896:19_21). There are also Minaean allusions to the same region dating from the Persian period (Glaser 1897:248_257). There can be no doubt that “Beyond the River” (eber nœri / עֲבַר נַהֲרָא / עֵבֶר הַנָּהָר / Pe/ran Eujfra/tou) was the official name of the Levantine satrapy in the Persian imperial administration. This goes back to the Neo-Assyrian use of the term eber nœri, which appears in the late eighth and early seventh centuries bce. For example, one text from the annals of Esarhaddon spoke of “the kings of Ùatti (the Levant) and eber nœri,” and included the rulers of Tyre, Judah, Edom, Moab, Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, Byblos, Arwad, Samsimuruna, Ammon and Ashdod (Borger 1956:60, v. 54).

The river, of course, is the Euphrates and earlier biblical sources from the First Temple period generally use it with reference to the eastward-looking perspective from the land of Israel toward Mesopotamia (Josh 24:2_3, 14_15; 2 Sam 10:18; 1 Kgs 1:15; Isa 7:20; 1 Chr 19:18). But in the delineation of Solomon's sphere of political influence it clearly means the territory west of the Euphrates, i.e. the Levant from the Mesopotamian point of view,

בְּכָל עֵבֶר הַנָּהָר מִתִּפְסַח וְעַד עַזָּה בְּכָל מַלְכֵי עֵבֶר הַנָּהָר

. . . over all of Beyond the River from Tiphsah and as far as Gaza, all the kings of Beyond the River. (1 Kgs 5:4 [Eng. 4:24])

This passage shows that the editor of the Deuteronomistic history wanted to make his conception meaningful to a readership most likely in the mid-sixth century bce or later.

On the other hand, the Neo-Assyrians and the Neo-Babylonians often referred to this same territory as Ùatti-land. They had acquired that title from their original encounter with the small Neo-Hittite kingdoms in what is now southern Turkey and North Syria. Subsequently, they applied the term to the entire western Levant. For example, the “kings of Amurru,” including Phoenicians and Philistines, were included in Ùatti-land. Neo-Babylonian sources, especially royal inscriptions, generally use Ùatti-land as the standard designation of the province Beyond the River (Hawkins 1972_75:152_156).

Athura/Ashur/Assyria/Syria. There is evidence for an additional development during the fall of the Assyrian and the rise of the Neo-Babylonian empires. In the latter days of its existence, the Assyrian government under Ashur-uballit had had to retreat westward across northern Mesopotamia. The provisional capital was first located at Haran until the Assyrian forces were routed and compelled to retreat to Carchemish. For a short time, from 610 to 605 bce, the Assyrian king ruled the remnants of his former empire from Carchemish (cf. supra, chap. 15). His domain consisted essentially of the province Beyond the River and the Egyptian support given to Assyria at this time by Pharaoh Necho was doubtless in order to gain control of the Levant (cf. supra, chap. 15). But during this brief period, the name Assyria seems to have been transferred to the west along with the Assyrian government in exile.

Although the official designation in administrative documents, in Akkadian and Aramaic, on coins and in the Greek and South Arabian texts, was “Beyond the River,” throughout the corpus of Achaemenid inscriptions, including their rosters of subject peoples, the Levantine satrapy is called Aqur (Athur), not only in the Persian-language editions but in the Elamite (Aßßurap). In the lists on the Egyptian stele of Darius III, the name Ashur (written , 3-ß-w-r; Posener 1936:185, 188) appears between Cappadocia (and probably either Arabia or Lydia) and Egypt. It is separated from Babylon by Armenia, Cappadocia and another lost toponym (Arabia or Lydia). This strengthens the impression that the Levant is intended. Further confirmation of this derives from Darius' building inscriptions at Susa (DSf). The phrase, “the Assyrian people,” in the Persian text (line 32), is paralleled in Akkadian by “the people of Beyond the River” (line 23). The context of this passage is crucial for defining the area encompassed by the Persian Athura and Semitic “Beyond the River.”

The cedar timber, this—a mountain by name Lebanon—from there was brought. The Assyrian people (Akkad.: the people of “Beyond the River”), it brought it to Babylon.

(DSf ll. 30_33a; Kent 1953:143, 144, § 3g; Scheil 1929:3_34, No. 1, 53_56, No. 12)

The Persian kœra : hya : Aquriya in line 32, “the Assyrian people” is paralleled in the Elamite version by [taß-ßu-ib] ap-pa æß-ßu-ra-ap (Hinz 1950:2, l. 28), and in the Akkadian version by 'œb® ßa eber nœri, “the work force of Beyond the River” (Scheil 1929:23). This trilingual inscription leaves no doubt that the Persian equivalent of eber nœri was Athura! Furthermore, the relative position of Athura in the Persian text of Darius' lists of subject peoples supports the impression that the province Beyond the River is intended. Three of the rosters (DS, DNa, DSe) have: Babylon, Arabia, Athura and Egypt. The position of Athura (Assyria) between Babylon and Egypt, sometimes alongside Arabia, indicates that not just northern Mesopotamia is meant (the order in XPh is so broken up that nothing can be deduced from it: Babylon and Athura still stand together, but Egypt and Arabia are separated by other names). The Persians adopted Athura as a synonym for Beyond the River because during the final days of the Assyrian monarchy, its headquarters had shifted from Nineveh via Ùarran to Carchemish. It is uncertain, however, whether this usage reflects an official practice of the Neo-Babylonian administration because their scribes preferred Ùatti land. Perhaps the name “Assyria” was kept alive by the many transplanted peoples who had been brought to the Levant from elsewhere in the Assyrian Empire. Also, the use by classical writers of Assyria or Syria to denote some areas within Mesopotamia (e.g. Xenophon Anab. I, 4:19) is no proof that the province Beyond the River encompassed any territory on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. Herodotus does not assign any Mesopotamian districts to his fifth satrapy since his ninth satrapy included Babulw◊noß de\ kai\ th◊ß loiph◊ß jAssupi/ß, “Babylon and the rest of Assyria” (Herodotus 3.92.1). Direct testimony to this phenomenon is limited to the Persian inscriptions calling the area Athura (= Elamite Aßßura) and the Greeks learned to call the Levant by the term Suria = Syria, obviously a clipped form derived from (As)syria (Noldeke 1871; Honigman 1932:1549_1552). Therefore the Semitic eber nœri has been supplanted by Suria in the Greek writings of the Persian period.


The geographical unit encompassed by the term “Beyond the River” is evidently that depicted in Genesis 15:18: “from the river of Egypt to the great river the Euphrates.” The river of Egypt is the Pelusaic branch of the Nile and corresponds to the role of Pelusium as the Egyptian border station facing the fifth satrapy in Herodotus' description (cf. infra). The Genesis passage is paralleled by the description of Solomon's sphere of influence, over “all of (the territory) Beyond the River from Tiphsah to Gaza. And all the kings of Beyond the River” (1 Kgs 5:4 [Eng. 4:24]; cf. also 5:1 [Eng. 4:21]). Tiphsah (תִּפְסַח), the name of which means “place of crossing over,” was located on the western bank of the Euphrates at the point where it makes a great bend to the southeast. Tiphsah never appears in Assyrian or Neo-Babylonian inscriptions but was known in classical sources as Thapsacus (Qa/yakoß). Cyrus the Younger crossed the Euphrates there on his way to invade Mesopotamia and unseat his brother, Artaxerxes II; the place was described as “a large and prosperous city” (Xenophon, Anab. 1.4.11). Darius III retreated across the same ford when he fled from Alexander (Arr. Anab. 2.12.1) and Alexander followed suit (Arr. Anab. 3.6.4). Later Alexander had ships dismantled and brought from Phoenicia to the same place, where they were then reassembled and sailed down the Euphrates to serve his military needs in southern Babylon (Arr. Anab. 7.19.3; Strabo Geog. 16.1.11). Ptolemy says:

ejpi\ th\n kat\ Qa/yakon touv Eujyra/tou potamou\ dia/basin

as far as the Euphrates crossing over against Thapsacus.

(Strabo Geog. 5.15.7)

The most probable site is Qal‘at Dibseh, about 8 miles (12 km) south of Meskeneh (Cheyne 1903 citing J. P. Peters and B. Moritz; but cf. Dussaud 1927:453_455). An extensive military cemetery from the Persian period has been discovered at Deve Hüyük, 17 miles (27 km) southwest of Carchemish (Moorey 1975, 1980; Lendle 1988; Briant 1991:77, 78 n. 37; 2002:376). However, this latter site seems much too far north for Tiphsah/Thapsacus.

With the conquest by Cyrus of Babylon in 539 bce, a certain Gubaru (Gobryas) was appointed p¥≈œt (or b®l p¥≈œti) Bœbili u eber nœri, “governor of Babylon and the land Beyond the River” (Pohl 1933: Nos. 45:3; 46:2_3; 61:12_13). This expression proves that Gubaru's sphere of responsibility included all of the former Neo-Babylonian kingdom at its widest extent, i.e. after the battle of Carchemish in 605 bce. The eastern part was called after the largest city in it that was also doubtless his headquarters. The whole of Mesopotamia was obviously included, clear up to the Armenian border; otherwise the territory would have been split in two by the Syrian Desert. Thus, Mesopotamia and North Syria were both part of his area of responsibility. The western half was comprised of all the polities and principalities of the Levant that had been subject to Assyrian and then Babylonian rule. There can be no doubt that the Euphrates was the boundary between the two halves, though precise documentation is lacking. It would appear that this situation reflects the prevailing administration of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Texts coupling Babylon with the province Beyond the River continue to appear during the governorship of Gubaru and his successor, Ushtannu (cf. infra). Gubaru evidently served from the fourth year of Cyrus until 522/521 bce (Keiser 1918: No. 169:22_23; Nies and Keiser 1920: No. 114:14_16; Clay 1919: No. 106; Röllig 1971). During the early years of Darius' rule, Tattenai was subordinate to a certain Ushtannu, who had succeeded Gubaru. Texts dated 21 March 520 bce and 31 October 519 bce show that Ushtannu (= ‘Usta/neß, Hystanes, Herodotus 7.77; Meissner 1897:192) was serving as governor of Babylon and eber nœri (Strassmaier 1892: I, Nos. 27:3 and 82:2; Clay 1912: No. 101:5). Under Ushtannu, the western province was in the immediate charge of an official named Tattennu (the biblical Tattenai) whose name appears on various legal documents from Mesopotamia (Olmstead 1944; Ungnad 1940:240_243; Rainey 1982d). Now it is clear that Tattenai, whose name is written Tattennu in cuneiform texts (Rainey 1982d), was a subordinate of Ushtannu. Several tablets from his personal archive are known, the key one dating to 5 June 502 bce (Ungnad 1907b: No. 152:24_25 = San Nicolò and Ungnad 1935:304 No. 327).

While the administrator of Babylon and Beyond the River must have had his headquarters in Babylon, the satrap for Beyond the River probably had his own headquarters at some major city such as Damascus. Strabo (Geog. XV1, 2, 20 [756]) says that Damascus was “. . . a noteworthy city, having been . . . even the most famous of the cities in that part of the world in the time of the Persian Empire.” It was certainly the capital of the province (by then called Syria) established by Alexander the Great (Curt. 4.1.4 and 4.8.9). So it seems likely that the administrative center had been there under the Persians as well (Avi-Yonah 2002:11_12). On the other hand, there was an important residence of the Persian administration at Sidon (cf. infra).

Tattenai is known to have been in office as late as 502 bce (Ungnad 1907b: No. 152:24_25 = San Nicolò and Ungnad 1935:304 No. 327). By then his province may have been autonomous. Herodotus (III, 89_95) says that the organization into twenty satrapies took place at the very beginning of Darius' reign.

Five lists of the territories and subject peoples have been preserved among the inscriptions of Darius (Leuze 1935:242_255 [6_99]; Kent 1943; Lecoq 1997:130_153), viz. Behistun (DB), Persepolis (Dpe), Susa (Dse), Naqsh-i-Rustam (Dna) and on a hieroglyphic stele (Posener 1936:181_189) erected beside the canal which he had opened through the Wâd¥ Tumeilat (DZd). These can be supplemented by a later list of Xerxes from Persepolis (XPh). A comparison of the satrapal arrangement depicted by Herodotus with these royal inscriptions may not be conclusive proof that Herodotus' roster is later in date but it is clear that the empire is conceived differently in the two types of texts, the Greek and the Persian. The latter contain thirty-two names, slightly less than half of the sixty-seven in Herodotus. The Persian lists were composed to emphasize the vastness of the empire under Persian rule. Several of the groups listed never constituted independent satrapies. In fact, the Achaemenid texts reflect their policy of cultural freedom for every ethnic group in their realm. So it is impossible to reconstruct the satrapal framework from Darius' inscriptions (Cameron 1973).

With reference to the Arabia that appears in Darius' inscriptions now on one side, now on another of Athura, one may note that Herodotus' fifth satrapy also had a certain area that was under Arabian control, but these Arabs were not really a subject people. Quite the contrary, they were exempted from paying the usual taxes by Cambyses. It is more probable that the territory of Arabia in the lists corresponded to that of the Arabians mentioned by Herodotus as being outside the satrapal framework. These latter brought an annual “gift” of one thousand talents of frankincense each year (Herodotus 3.97). The coastal strip south of Gaza, controlled by the tax-free Arabians, may have been an adjunct to the Arabia in Darius' inscriptions. It is highly probable that the latter was in fact the kingdom of Kedar. The king of Kedar seems to have had control of the trade routes from Arabia to the gates of Egypt (cf. discussion below).

Herodotus has numbered the satrapies from a Greek vantage point starting with those closest to Greece. This could hardly represent the fixed order of an Achaemenid text. According to Herodotus' description, the province known otherwise as “Beyond the River” is treated by him as an independent unit, his fifth satrapy. This was evidently the arrangement prevailing in the reign of Artaxerxes I Longimanus (464_424 bce). Generally, Herodotus lists the ethnic groups that have been arranged together into one tax district, satrapy. But with the fifth satrapy he begins with the geographical limits by the formula “from . . . to.” His definition of the two extremities, the northern and the southern, is asymmetric. While he gives a city in the north, he gives a country in the south; the “from” is inclusive while the “to” is exclusive. The city of Poseideion is reckoned as part of the satrapy as shown by the ensuing phrase, “beginning from . . . .” By contrast, Egypt comprises the sixth tax district in Herodotus' roster. The fifth satrapy is unique in that its two boundaries are fixed in terms of geographical reference points.

It has often been remarked that Herodotus gives no details about the internal configuration of the satrapy. He knows it only from the coast. The main passage (III, 91) is as follows (all quotes from Herodotus according to Hude 1927):

a˙pò de« Posidhi÷ou po÷lioß, th«n 'Amfi÷locoß o˚ 'Amfia÷rew oi˙/kise 'ep' ou˙÷roisi toi√si Kili÷kwn te kai« Suri÷wn, a˙rxa÷menon a˙po« tau÷thß me÷cri Ai˙gu÷ptou, plh«n moi÷rhß th√ß 'Arabi÷wn (tau√ta ga«r h™n a˙tele÷a), penth÷konta kai« trihko÷sia ta÷lanta fo÷roß h™n: e¡sti de« e˙n tw√ø nomw√ø tou÷twø Foini÷kh te pa√sa kai« Suri÷h h˚ Palaisti÷nh kaleome÷nh kai« Ku÷proß: nomo«ß pe÷mptoß ou∞toß.

From the town of Poseideion, which was founded by Amphilochus son of Amphiaraus, on the border between Cilicia and Syria, beginning from this as far as Egypt—omitting Arabian territory (which was free of tax), came 350 talents. In this province is the whole of Phoenicia and that part of Syria which is called Palestine, and Cyprus. This is the fifth province. (Herodotus 3.91)

Poseideion (modern Ba'îª) is located on the North Syrian coast just north of the mouth of the Orontes from which it is separated by the mountains of Mons Casius. It was on the border between Syria and Cilicia but this meant that the actual boundary was somewhere north of the town itself (Leuze 1935:261). Note also that Herodotus says Poseideion was situated on the border of Cilicia and Syria, not Phoenicia. Elsewhere, Herodotus says:

o˚moure÷ei ga\r h˚ Suri/h Ai˙gu/ptwØ, oi˚ de« Foi÷nikeç, tw◊vn e˙sti h˚ Sidw¿n, e˙n thø◊ Suri÷hø oi˙ke÷ousi.

For Syria borders on Egypt, and the Phoenicians, to whom belongs Sidon, dwell in Syria. (Herodotus 2.116)

So Herodotus considers Phoenicia to be part of Syria, but he never called the Phoenicians Syrians (as he does the Palestinians, cf. infra). It is also worthy of note that Sidon is singled out as the most prominent city in Phoenicia, thus reflecting a situation that prevailed throughout the Persian period. One might also note that “Sidonians” is the biblical term for Phoenicians.

It can safely be inferred, therefore, that Phoenicia does not border directly on Cilicia. There is a segment of the northern coast that is Syrian, not Phoenician. This concept finds confirmation from the Hellenistic-Roman period in the coins minted by Beirut. The numismatic evidence pertaining to the name of Beirut on its coins is especially relevant: l’dk’ ’ß bkn‘n, “Laodicea which is in Canaan,” along with a Greek monogram, either LA(odivkeia) F or BH(ruto”). Other coins have lbyrt, “of Beirut,” also with the monogram LA F, which must represent Laodivkeia hJ ejn Foinivkh/, “Laodicea which is in Phoenicia” (Weippert 1980:354). Besides the equation of Phoenicia with Canaan, the most important fact is that the Laodivkeia of Beirut is identified as being in Canaan, thus distinguishing it from Laodivkeia ejpi; th’/ qalavtth/, “Laodicea on the sea” (Strabo Geog. XVI, 2:9), which is modern-day Latikia just 7 miles (11 km) south of Râs Shamra! This latter Laodicea is thus not in Canaan/Phoenicia! So the Hellenistic geographical concept of the northern limits of Canaan = Phoenicia seems to correspond to the same conception going back to the Late Bronze Age sources (Rainey 1996c).

Where the actual border of Phoenicia may have been is hard to establish, but Phoenicia must have included Arvad (’Arwœ∂) = Arados (⁄Aradoç), the island of er-Ruâd off the Syrian coast north of Tripolis (Tri/poliç = modern ·râblus). This is indicated by Pseudo-Scylax 104, in which the preserved text (as in Galling 1964b:204) reads:

'Apo« d«e Qaya/kou potamou√ e˙sti Tri÷poliç Foini÷kwn, ⁄Aradoç nh√soç kai« limh«n . . . kai« e˙n thø◊ cerronh÷swØ e˚te÷ra po÷liç Tri÷poliç.

And after the Thapsacus (Orontes!) river is Tripolis of the Phoenicians, Arados an island and a harbor . . . and on the peninsula another city, Tripolis.

An amendment to this text has been proposed (Galling 1964:204) in order to make sense out of the e˚te÷ra po÷liç, “another city,” introducing Tripoli. After all, Arados is north of Tripolis:

'Apo« d«e Qaya/kou potamou√ e˙sti«n prw÷th po÷liç Foini÷kwn, ⁄Aradoç nh√soç kai« limh«n . . . kai« e˙n thø◊ cerronh÷swØ e˚te÷ra po÷liç Tri÷poliç.

And after the Thapsacus (Orontes!) river is the first city of the Phoenicians, Arados an island and a harbor . . . and on the peninsula another city, Tripolis.

So in spite of the odd confusion by which the Orontes is called Thapsacus, and the awkward construction of the original, this emendation at least makes sense. And thus we can fill in somewhat the coastal map where Herodotus does not go into detail.

Going farther down the coast, Herodotus explains:

e¡sti de« e˙n tw√ø nomw√ø tou÷tw√ø Foini÷kh te pa√sa kai« Suri÷h h˚ Palaisti÷nh kaleome÷nh

In this province is the whole of Phoenicia and that part of Syria which is called Palestine.

He does not specify any boundary line between Phoenicia and Palestine. And in trying to fix such a border, one must deal with the status of the seaport town of Joppa (Yœπô = Arabic Yâfœ). In Pseudo-Scylax, Dor is assigned to the Sidonians and Ashkelon to the Tyrians. The Palestinians (Philistines) don't exist. In between these two major seaports, Joppa is listed without being assigned to either of the great Phoenician cities. Pseudo-Scylax offers no solution.

In the seventh century bce the situation is also unclear. Esarhaddon, in his treaty with Ba‘lu of Tyre, inserts the following provision:

annûte kœr® ≈∑l® ßa Aßß∑r-a≈u-iddina ßar mœt Aßß∑r ana Ba‘lu ardißu {ipqi}[duni]: ana œl Akkô, œl Dô’ri ina nagê mœt Piliste gab[bu] u ina œlœne ta≈∑me ßa mœt Aßß∑r ßa ßiddi tœmtim gab[bu] u ina œl Gublu ßadu Labna[na] œlœne ßa ina ßadî gabb[u] ammar œlœne [ßa Aßß]ur-a≈u-iddina, ßar mœt Aßß∑r.

These are the ports of trade and the trade routes which Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, ent[rusted] to his servant, Ba‘lu: to the city of ‘Akkô, the city of Dô’r, to the entire district of the land of Philistia, and to all the cities within Assyrian territory on the seacoast, and to Byblos, Mt. Lebanon, all the cities in the mountains, whatever cities [belong to Esa]rhaddon, king of the land of Assyria.

(after Parpola and Watanabe 1988:25)

Esarhaddon “entrusted” ({ip}-{qi}-[du-ni]) these trading colonies and trade routes to Ba‘lu, king of Tyre. But what does that mean? It does not necessarily indicate that Ba‘lu was given political control over the various cities listed. However, it certainly must indicate that Ba‘lu is recognized as Esarhaddon's principal executive in charge of maritime and overland commerce related to the eastern Mediterranean coast (cf. Gilboa 1996:132_133). For our purposes, the geographic definitions of the southern coast are significant, ana œl Akkô, œl Dô’ri ina nagê mœt Piliste gab[bu], “to the city of ‘Akkô, the city of Dô’r, to the entire district of the land of Philistia.”

The question remains, where was the border between the territory of Dô’r and the “district of the land of Philistia”? Incidentally, it must be noted that the phrase mœt(KUR) Pi-lis-te has no marker that would indicate an ethnicon (Philistines). Where was Joppa in this division? During the late eighth century bce it was recorded:

ina m®tiq gerriya œl B¥t-Dagœna, œl Yœpû, œl Banay-Barqa, œl Azôru, œlœni ßa Ôidqâ ßa ana ß®p®ya ar≈iß lœ iknußu alme, akßud, aßlula ßallassun. . . .

In the course of my campaign the town of Bêt-Dagœn, the town of Yœpô, the town of Banay-Barqa, the town of ’Azôru, towns belonging to Ôiqdâ who had not bowed at my feet immediately, I surrounded, I conquered, I despoiled. (Sennacherib's Third Campaign, after Borger 1979:I, 74)

Ôidqâ was the king of Ashkelon (Borger 1979: I, 73) and, for his failure to submit to Sennacherib, was removed from office. However, prior to Sennacherib's campaign, Ôidqâ had enjoyed control over Joppa and its hinterland. When did this come about? Was it under the reign of Sargon II? Most likely it came about during or just after the campaigning of Tiglath-pileser III (between 734 and 732 bce) when the Philistines were able to remove the stigma of Uzziah's occupation of northern Philistia (2 Chr 26:6; Aharoni et al. 1993:106_107, Map 141) by penetrating deep into Judean territory along the principal routes leading from the coastal plain up to the hill country ( 2 Chr 28:18). During the reign of Jeroboam II it is most likely that Joppa was still firmly under Israelite control, especially since Uzziah had established a strong Judean presence across northern Philistia to the south of Joppa in the territory of Jabneel and Ashdod.

So Joppa changed hands from time to time. Probably from the mid-fifth century bce (though the date is disputed), not far from the visit by Herodotus, comes another testimony about the control of Dô’r and Joppa:

(18) . . . ועד יתנ לנ אדנ מלכמ (19) אית דאר ויפי ארצת דגנ האדרת אש בשד שרנ למדת עצמת אש פעלת יספננמ (20) עלת גבל ארצ לכננמ לצדנמ לעל[מ]. . . .

And furthermore, the lord of kings gave to us Do’r and Yôpê, mighty grain lands in the territory of Sharon, as reward for the mighty deeds which I accomplished, that they may belong to the Sidonians for ev[er].

(’Eshmun‘azor; Donner and Röllig 1962:I,3, No. 14:18)

Here the Phoenician scribe clearly considered both Dor and Joppa as part of the “territory of Sharon.” The Persian king was increasing the agricultural hinterland of Sidon as a reward for loyal service. The “mighty grain lands” must have included considerable territory east of Joppa, especially along the Wâd¥ No'eirah (mod. Na˙al Ayalon). The territory south of Nahr el-‘Aujœ (today called Yarkon) was obviously reckoned as part of the Sharon Plain in the mid-fifth century bce (Rainey 1990:59, 69).

At a much later date, Diodorus distinguished between “Phoenician Syria” and Syria:

⁄Akhn me\n th√ß Foivi/khß Suri/aß, jIo/pphn de\ kai\ Sama/reian kai\ Ga/zan thvß Suri/aß

Akê in Phoenician Syria, and Ioppê, Samaria and Gaza in Syria. (Diod. Sic. 19.93.7)

Herodotus does not list the Philistine cities in this context. Elsewhere he does speak of Ashdod (Herodotus 2.157; Azotus = ⁄Azwtoß) and Ashkelon (Herodotus 1.105; Ascalon = 'Aska/lwn).

The extent of Philistia in Herodotus' day is also limited in the south. The relevant passage that gives some detail is:

mou÷nhø de« tau÷thø ei˙si« fanerai« e˙sbolai« e˙ß Ai¡gupton: a˙po« ga«r Foini÷khß me÷cri ou¡rwn tw√n Kadu÷tioß po÷lio÷ß [h¢] e˙sti Suri÷wn tw√n Palaisti÷nwn kaleome÷nwn: a˙po« de« Kadu÷tioß po÷lioß e˙ou÷shß, w˚ß e˙moi« doke÷ei, Sardi÷wn ou˙ pollw√ø e˙la÷ssonoß, a˙po« tau÷thß ta« e˙mpo÷ria ta« e˙pi« qala÷sshß me÷cri 'Ihnu÷sou po÷lio÷ß e˙sti tou√ 'Arabi÷ou, a˙po« de« 'Ihnu÷sou au™tiß Suri÷wn me÷cri Serbwni÷doß li÷mnhß, par' h§n dh« to« Ka÷sion o¡roß tei÷nei e˙ß qa÷lassan: a˙po« Serbwni÷doß li÷mnhß, e˙n thø√ dh« lo÷goß to«n Tufw√ kekru÷fqai, a˙po« tau÷thß h¡dh Ai¡guptoß. to« dh« metaxu« 'Ihnu÷sou po÷lioß kai« Kasi÷ou te o¡reoß kai« th√ß Serbwni÷doß li÷mnhß, e˙o«n tou√to ou˙k o˙li÷gon cwri÷on a˙lla« o¢son te e˙pi« trei√ß h˙me÷raß o˚dou√, a¡nudro÷n e˙sti deinw√ß.

Only through this (Arabian desert) is there entry into Egypt. For from Phoenicia to the boundaries of Kadytis belongs to the Syrians known as “Palestinian”: from Kadytis, a town, I should say, not much smaller than Sardis, the seaports as far as Ienysus belong to the Arabian; from Ienysus as far as Lake Serbonis it is again Syrian, near which Mt. Casius runs down to the sea; and after Lake Serbonis (where Typhon is supposed to be buried), from there it is already Egypt. The whole area between Ienysus on the one side, and Mt. Casius and the Lake on the other—and it is of considerable extent, not less than three days' journey—is desert and completely without water.

(Herodotus 3.5)

Herodotus knows that a˙po« ga«r Foini÷khß me÷cri ou¡rwn tw√n Kadu÷tioß po÷lio÷ß [h¢] e˙sti Suri÷wn tw√n Palaisti÷nwn kaleome÷nwn, “from Phoenicia to the boundaries of Kadytis it belongs to the Syrians known as Palestinian.” However, Herodotus does not specify either the boundary of Phoenicia or of Kadytis. On the basis of the ’Eshmun‘azor text cited above, we may assume that the course of the Sorek River (Nahr R∑bîn) probably marked the southern extent of the hinterland of Joppa (which Herodotus does not mention at all). The northern border of the land belonging to Kadytis must have laid somewhere between Ashkelon and Gaza. The striking change, of course, is that Gaza is in the hands of an Arabian. Cambyses had found this Arabian king in control of Kadytis (Gaza) when he passed through on his way to Egypt in 525 bce, and his invasion of Egypt could not have been accomplished without the Arabian's support in conveying his troops across the Sinai desert.

The question naturally arises as to when the Arabian king had gained control of Gaza and the associated coastal strip. There is no hint of such a situation during Nebuchadnezzar's campaigns in the final years of the seventh and the early years of the sixth centuries bce. Three broad possibilities come to mind: either the Arabians were encouraged to occupy Gaza and the northern Sinai coast by Nabû-naid during his ten-year sojourn in northern Arabia when he was developing the infrastructure to support the extensive caravan trade from Babylon and the lands of southern Arabia (552_542 bce), or, the seizure of Gaza might have come in the aftermath of Nabû-naid's return to Babylon in 542 bce, or after the news went out that Cyrus had captured Babylon (539 bce). The identity of these Arabians may find confirmation in the inscribed silver bowl from Tell el-Maßkhûta in Egypt. The Aramaic inscription reads

זי קינו בר גשמ קרב להנאלת

That which Qainu son of Gaßem king of Qedar presented to Han’allat. (Rabinowitz 1956:2)

All the ethnic groups in the other provinces were subject to the tax payments. However, there was one exception in the fifth satrapy. This was the “Arabian district.” By that Herodotus means the strip of territory previously alluded to. It extended from Gaza to Ienysus and was “in possession of the Arabian,” not “Arabian territory.” The exemption from tax was granted to these Arabians by Cambyses (Herodotus 3.4_5). The exemption did not pertain to all the Arabian tribes known to the Persians, such as the Bedouin groups in the Syrian Desert along the Middle Euphrates. One cannot construe Cambyses' grant to the occupants of the northern Sinai coast (and the inland trade routes) to mean all Arabs everywhere. Though they were not subject to regular satrapal taxes, the Arabians at Gaza had to render an annual “gift” (dw◊ra) of one thousand talents of frankincense per year (Herodotus 3.97). Semantically, this probably corresponds to Akkadian. Theirs was thus a tax in kind rather than in coin.

Southwest from Gaza the sphere of Arabian control extended, as Herodotus explained:

a˙po« de« Kadu÷tioß po÷lioß e˙ou÷shß, w˚ß e˙moi« doke÷ei, Sardi÷wn ou˙ pollw√ø e˙la÷ssonoß, a˙po« tau÷thß ta« e˙mpo÷ria ta« e˙pi« qala÷sshß me÷cri 'Ihvu÷sou po÷lio÷ß e˙sti tou√ 'Arabi÷ou,

from Kadytis, a town, I should say, not much smaller than Sardis, the seaports as far as Ienysus belong to the Arabian. (Herodotus 3.5)

The “Arabian strip” extended to a place called Ienysus ('Ihnu÷sou). It is tempting to equate this latter place with Khân Yûnis because of the superficial phonetic resemblance. But Herodotus gives a specific detail that prevents that identification.

to« dh« metaxu« 'Ihnu÷sou po÷lioß kai« Kasi÷ou te o¡reoß kai« th√ß Serbwni÷doß li÷mnhß, e˙o«n tou√to ou˙k o˙li÷gon cwri÷on a˙lla« o¢son te e˙pi« trei√ß h˙me÷raß o˚dou√, a¡nudro÷n e˙sti deinw√ß.

The whole area between Ienysus on the one side, and Mt. Casius and the Lake on the other—and it is of considerable extent, not less than three days' journey—is desert and completely without water. (Herodotus 3.5)

He is not very precise when he says “and Mt. Casius (Râs el-Kasrûn) and the Lake on the other,” but in the final analysis, the chief border city was Pelusium (Tell Farâmeh). However, Herodotus' determination that it was at least a three-day march from Mt. Casius/Lake Serbonis to Ienysus may be compared with Titus' march from Pelusium to Rhinocolura (el-‘Arîsh) in three days (War 4:661_662). Taking an average day's march by an army in route as about 12.5 to 15.5 miles (20_25 km), it is not hard to see that such an approximation (Herodotus does not try to be exact here) will bring us to el-‘Arîsh. This is the unquestioned site of Rhinocolura and must be the site of Ienysus (How and Wells 1912: I, 257). From the other side, there is also a clear testimony that Wâd¥ el-‘Arîsh must be na≈al Mu'ri = na˙al Mi'raim, “the Brook of Egypt” (Num 34:5; Josh 15:4, 14). This is in the annals of Esarhaddon:

30 b®ru qaqqar ultu Apqu ßa pœªi mœt Sœme<ri>n[a] adi Rap¥≈i ana itê na≈al mœt Mu'ur aßar nœru lœ ißû ina ib[l®] ≈ar≈arr® kalkaltu mê b∑ri ina dilûti ummœn¥ ußaßqi

Thirty double hours' distance from Aphek, which is in the region of Sama<ri>a(?) to Raphia, towards the Brook of Egypt, a place having no river, by ropes, by chains (and) buckets, I caused the troops to drink well water.

(Tablet K 3082 + S 2027 + K 3086 from the British Museum, Obv. 16_18; Borger 1956:112)

The expression ana itê na≈al mœt Mu'ur, “as far as, towards the Brook of Egypt,” assures us that the Brook of Egypt is beyond Raphia (Rainey 1982e). Further confirmation that the Brook of Egypt has to be identified with Wâd¥ el-‘Arîsh is the fact that נַחַל מִצְרַיִם (Isa 27:12) is rendered by eºwß ÔRinokorou/rwn in the Septuagint. As demonstrated by Titus' march mentioned above, Rhinocolura was three days' march from Pelusium. Esarhaddon also confirms that there was a town, œl Ar'â ßa itê na≈al mœt Mu'ri, “the town of Ar'â which is beside the Brook of Egypt” (Borger 1956:33 Klch A, 16; et al.).

Therefore, we can affirm the equation: Rhinocolura = Ienysus = Ar'â. How, except for the first, the various name changes of this place at the mouth of the Brook of Egypt = Wâd¥ el-‘Arîsh came about is obscure. The linguistic origin of Ienysus is unknown though one would assume that it must be Semitic.

The last segment of the coast is defined by Herodotus as follows:

a˙po« de« 'Ihnu÷sou au™tiß Suri÷wn me÷cri Serbwni÷doß li÷mnhß . . . a˙po« Serbwni÷doß li÷mnhß . . . a˙po« tau÷thß h¡dh Ai¡guptoß

From Ienysus as far as Lake Serbonis it is again Syrian . . . and after Lake Serbonis . . . from there it is already Egypt.

(Herodotus 3.5)

The stress by Esarhaddon and Herodotus on the lack of water in this region is striking. For Herodotus, the area between Ienysus and Pelusium is “Syrian.” He does not call it Palestinian, and he has made it clear that the Arabians do not control it.

The final point is Pelusium (Tell Farâmeh), the border town of Egypt, located on the eastern branch of the Nile. This latter is נְּהַר מִצְרַיִם, “the River of Egypt,” in Genesis 15:18. Herodotus tells how a certain Sethos took up a defensive position at Pelusium to meet the threatened invasion by Sennacherib:

stratopedeu÷sasqai e˙n Phlousi÷wø: tau÷thø ga«r ei˙si« ai˚ e˙sbolai÷

He encamped at Pelusium, for here is the entryway (to Egypt). (Herodotus 2.141)

However, Herodotus says elsewhere:

thø√ de« e˙la÷cisto÷n e˙sti kai« suntomw÷taton e˙k thvß borhi÷hß qala÷sshß u˚perbhvnai e˙ß th«n noti÷hn kai« 'Eruqrh«n th«n au˙th«n tau÷thn kaleome÷nhn, a˙po« touv Kasi÷ou o¡reoß touv ou˙ri÷zontoß Ai¡gupto÷n te kai« Suri÷hn. . . .

The shortest and most direct crossing from the northern sea to the southern (the same is also called the Erythrean) is from the Casian promontory, which is the boundary between Egypt and Syria. . (Herodotus 2.158)

Finally, in the same area, Herodotus tells us:

kai« Suri÷oisi pezhøv o˙ Nekwvß sumbalw«n e˙n Magdw÷lwø e˙ni÷khse, meta« de« th«n ma÷chn Ka÷dutin po÷lin thvß Suri÷hß e˙ouvsan mega÷lhn ei∞le.

and Necho, encountering the Syrians with the land army, defeated them at Magdolo; after the battle he took the great Syrian city of Kadytis. (Herodotus 2.159)

Earlier, Herodotus (3.5) had stated at which point along the shoreline began the territory of Egypt.

Lake Serbonis, on the coast to the east of Pelusium, is separated from the Mediterranean by the narrow strip of land on which Mount Casius was located. This latter was evidently named after the mountain in the north because of the temple there to Zeus Casius (= Baal Zaphon). The lake itself is not reckoned with Egypt. At first glance, one might suppose that this is meant to represent the southern boundary line of the fifth satrapy. But the Egyptian border must run in a north-south direction down to the northern end of the Gulf of Heropolis. So Herodotus was only marking the coastal limit of the fifth satrapy. He seems only to know the province “Beyond the River” from the standpoint of one who has sailed down the coast. He has no description of the inland extent of the fifth satrapy.


Each satrapy was divided into provinces (מְדִינוֹת). It is evidently these to which the Book of Esther refers (Esth 1:1); there is no reason to assume that the author thought of Xerxes' empire as having 127 satrapies. The provinces were ruled by governors (Akkad. p¥≈œtu; Aram. פֶחָה, and epigraphic פחוא; Heb. פֶּחָה).

Some of the varied assortment of ethnic components is reflected in the following:

אַרְכְּוָיֵא בַבְלָיֵא שׁוּשַׁנְכָיֵא דֶּהָיֵא עֵלְמָיֵא וּשְׁאָר אֻמַּיָּא דִּי הַגְלִי אָסְנַפַּר רַבָּא וְיַקִּירָא וְהוֹתֵב הִמּוֹ בְּקִרְיָה דִּי שָׁמְרָיִן וּשְׁאָר עֲבַר נַהֲרָה וּכְעֶנֶת

the men of Erech, the Babylonians, the men of Susa, that is, the Elamites and the rest of the nations which Osnappar, the great and venerated, deported and settled in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of Beyond the River.

(Ezra 4:9b_10)

This list does not include all those exiled peoples settled in the Levant by the earlier Assyrian monarchs. By the time of the Persian annexation, those Semitic, mainly Aramaic-speaking, and non-Semitic peoples were becoming melded into a population known to outsiders, such as the Greeks, as “Syrians.” That is especially clear in Herodotus' description of the satrapy.

Though Herodotus does not give a list of ethnic groups in his fifth satrapy, in contrast to other satrapies, he does mention several geographical regions included within it, viz.

e¡sti de\ ejn tw◊Ø nomw◊Ø tou/to Foini/kh te pa◊sa kai\ Suri/h hJ Palaisti/nh kaleome/nh kai\ Ku/proß.

In this province was all of Phoenicia and that part of Syria which is called Palestine, and Cyprus.

(Herodotus 3.91, 1; cf. also 1.105; 2.104, 109; 3.5; 4.39)

Phoenicians. A major socioethnic component of the province that maintained its distinctiveness was the population of the city-states on the Lebanese coast. They are the original Canaanites, called by the Greeks Phoenicians. Their own inscriptions in the Phoenician language testify to their ethnic consciousness.

Two passages reveal that Herodotus reckoned the territory of Phoenicia as part of Syria:

oJmoure/ei ga\r hJ Suri/h Aijgu/ptwØ, oiJ de\ Foi/nikeß, tw◊n ejsti hJ Sidw/n, ejn thvø Suri/hø oijke/ousi.

Syria borders on Egypt, and the Phoenicians, to whom Sidon belongs, live in Syria. (Herodotus 2.116.6)

To this statement can be compared his allusion to the Phoenician contingent in the Persian fleet (Herodotus 7.89; 8.67). Still, Herodotus never says that the Phoenicians are Syrians.

It is not possible to establish with precision the northern and southern limits of Phoenicia according to Herodotus. He stated that Poseideion was on the border between the Cilicians and the Syrians (not the Phoenicians), so he evidently considered the coast just south of Poseideion as Syrian, not Phoenician. Perhaps Phoenicia proper began somewhere just north of Byblos. Neither does Herodotus give an exact southern boundary for Phoenicia; he only wished to impress his readers with the fact that even the wealthy cities of Phoenicia were all within the Persian Empire. It would appear that the Sharon Plain was awarded to ’Eshmun‘azor (cf. supra), king of Sidon, by the Persian monarch during the fifth century bce (Galling 1963:140_151; Assman 1963:715).

Along the Phoenician coast the famous city-states continued to exist and to grow in wealth and influence due to their role as the naval arm of the Achaemenid empire in the Mediterranean. Arvad, Sidon and Tyre had developed a central meeting place, inhabited by citizens from each of the three cities known to the Greeks as Tripolis.

kata\ th\n Foini/khn ejsti\ po/liß ajxio/logoß ojno/mati Tri/poliß, oijkei/an e¡cousa th◊Ø fu/sei th\n proshgori/an: trei√ß ga/r eijsin ejn aujth◊Ø po/leiß stadiai√on ajp' ajllh/lwn e¡cousai dia/sthma: ejpikalei√tai de\ tou/twn hj me\n 'Aradi/wn, hJ de\ Sidwni/wvn, hJ de\ Turi/wn. ajxi/wma d' e¡xei me/giston au¢th tw◊n kata\ th\n Foi/nikaß sune/drion e¡xein kai\ bouleu/esqai peri\ tw◊n megi/stwn.

In Phoenicia is a noteworthy city, Tripolis by name, the appellation of which is suitable to its nature; because three cities are in it, having an interval of a stadia from one another; and these are denoted the Arvadians and the Sidonians and the Tyrians. And this city has the greatest reputation of the Phoenician cities, in which the Phoenicians assembled to convene a council and to deliberate concerning the most important matters.

(Diod. Sic. 16.411)

In Assyrian records, this town was called Ellißu (Zadok 1996). In the Bronze Age it was called Ullœsa.

The spread of Phoenician colonies along the coast of the fifth satrapy is illustrated by a passage from the Peripolous of Pseudo-Scylax. This is the ancient catalog for navigators listing seaports, river mouths and other geographical aids around the Mediterranean Sea (Müller 1855_82: I, 78_80). Though the work purports to be from the hand of the famous navigator of the fifth century bce, it is assumed by most scholars to date from the mid-fourth century bce (Galling 1938:66_87=1964:185_209). Nothing can be learned from it about the political boundaries of the province Beyond the River, but it does confirm the influence of Tyre and Sidon in the maritime communities along the whole of the Levantine coast. Chapter 104 begins: “After Cilicia there are the Syrian people. And in Syria the Phoenicians dwell along the shore.” After some remarks about the narrowness of the Phoenician-occupied coastal zone, the text gives a list of coastal towns and other landmarks starting from the Thapsakos River (evidently the Orontes) and going south. Unfortunately, the text of this passage (par. 104) is very poorly preserved. There are some scribal omissions and numerous glosses have apparently been inserted by later copyists. The ends of the lines have been lost in many cases because of the mutilation of the page. The most impressive aspect of the whole picture is the number of towns belonging to either Tyre or Sidon. However, the coast as a whole is not reckoned as part of Phoenicia but rather as part of Syria. It was the Syrian people whom one encountered first after Cilicia. The same situation is reflected in other sources (Herodotus 3.91; Xenophon Anab. IV, 4:6; Strato Geog. XIV, 676; Pliny Nat. Hist. 5.79; Ptol. Geog. 5.14). Pseudo-Scylax does not deal in political borders, either in the north or the south. However, it is clear that in the south there was a strip of coast called Syria just as there was in the north. Confirmation for this is found in other classical writers (cf. Arr. Anab. 2.25.4; Diod. Sic. 19.93.7). Although Herodotus does not give the southern border of Phoenicia either, he certainly assigned the three Philistine cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza to the latter, i.e. to “that part of Syria called Palestine” (Herodotus 3.5, 7.89). Pliny (Nat. Hist. 5.69) and Ptolemy (Geog. 5.14.3, 5.15.2) placed the southern border of Phoenicia between Dor and Caesarea, specified by Ptolemy as the Chorseas River. Joppa, Ashdod and Ashkelon are excluded by them from Phoenicia.

So the fact that various coastal settlements were assigned to the Tyrians or the Sidonians does not place them within the political boundaries of Phoenicia. The same composition refers to other towns around the Mediterranean that are called “city (or harbor) of the Phoenicians,” e.g. Carthage and Myriandros, when it is obvious that they were independent. Phoenicia proper was a coastal zone midway along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. In addition, there were numerous colonies founded by Tyre or Sidon. The absence of any reference to the Tower of Straton by Pseudo-Scylax suggests that the text was composed before that city (the later Caesarea) was founded by Straton (‘Abdashtart), king of Sidon (370_358 bce). Sidonian suzerainty over Dor, Joppa and the Sharon Plain, as indicated by the ’Eshmun‘azor Inscription (line 9), would evidently date to the fifth century bce and provides the background for Pseudo-Scylax.

Philistines. The term Palestine (hJ Palais-ti/nh) as used by Herodotus with reference to the fifth satrapy is the country south of Phoenicia, extending down to Gaza. But he seems to have known this term in both a wider and a narrower sense. In one place (Herodotus 3.5 and 91) it has a restricted meaning excluding Phoenicia. On the other hand, when he says,

thvˆß de\ Suri/hß touvto to\ cwri/on kai\ to\ me/cri Aijgu/pton pavn Palaisti/nh kale/etai

This part of Syria, together with the country which extends southward to Egypt, is all known as Palestine.

(Herodotus 7.89)

he is being more inclusive because he is referring to the territory occupied by the Arabians. But in the same paragraph he distinguished between the Phoenicians and the “Syrians of Palestine.” Although there is an intermediate strip between Gaza and Ienysus, which was held by Arabians, this does not prove that it was not included in the concept of Palestine. One may compare Phoenicia as part of Syria though not occupied by people called Syrians. The peoples of the fifth satrapy furnished a major contingent to the Persian fleet during the invasion of Greece under Xerxes (481-479 bce):

Foi/nikeß me\n su\n Suri/iosi toivsi ejn thvø Palaisti/nhvø trihkosi/aß, w∞de ejskeuasme/noi: peri\ me\n thvøsi kefalhvsi kune/as ei•xov ajgxota/tw pepoihme/naß tro/pon to\n JEllhniko/n, ejndeduko/teß de\ qw/rhkaß line/ouß, ajspi/daß de\ i¶tuß oujk ejxou/saß ei•xon kai\ ajko/tia.

. . . the Phoenicians, with the Syrians of Palestine, contributed 300 (ships). The crews wore helmets very like the Greek ones, and linen corsets; they were armed with light, rimless shields and javelins. These people have a tradition that in ancient times they lived on the Persian Gulf, but migrated to the Syrian coast, where they are found today. This part of Syria, together with the country, which extends southward to Egypt, is all known as Palestine.

(Herodotus 7.89.1)

Herodotus knows noth-ing of the peoples and provinces located inland from the coast. For some of these in the southern Levant there is epigraphic and biblical material.

Judeans. Since there is relatively more information about the Judeans who lived in the ancient territory of Judah and some adjacent areas (Tadmor 1994b), they will be treated in the historical review below. Apart from the early chapters of Ezra, most of the other post-exilic information dates to the fifth century bce with a cluster (mainly Ezra and Nehemiah) in the middle two decades of that century.

Samaritans. Several of the local provinces are mentioned in the Book of Nehemiah. Samaria is the oldest, having been created by Sargon II. Its boundaries probably were the Jezreel Valley in the north, the Jordan River in the east, and the province of Yehud in the south. The Samaria Papyri from Wâd¥ ed-Dâliyeh have made it possible to reconstruct the dynasty of governors who ruled the province of Samaria (Cross 1966 = 1989). Three of these bore the name Sanballat, the first being a contemporary of Nehemiah. According to the Yeb (Elephantine) Papyri, control of the province was passed on to Sanballat's sons, Delaiah and Shelemiah. The next in line was another Sanballat, the son of one of the previous brothers and the father of Hananiah. This latter was ruling in Samaria in 354 bce as indicated by Samaria Papyri (Cross1963). His son was the third Sanballat, who was appointed by Darius III in c. 334 bce. It may be necessary to insert another person into the list, viz. Yeshua bar Sanballat, perhaps a brother of Hananiah.

Ammonites. Another district governor who played a prominent role in the Book of Nehemiah was Tobiah “the Ammonite slave” (Neh 2:19). His province was located in southern Gilead and was ruled by a dynasty of governors of the Tobiad family. Their headquarters were at Tyre in Transjordan (Mazar 1957). The epithet “Ammonite slave” has been interpreted as Tobiah's title as a Persian official governing the Ammonite region even though Nehemiah's reference to Tobiah seems to be pejorative in intent. Tobiah would thus be a counterpart to Sanballat in Samaria and Nehemiah in Judah. He was evidently a Judean whose family estate was established during the reign of Jotham (cf. supra). He was a member of a distinguished Judean family with connections to Jerusalem's aristocracy (Neh 6:18) and to the priesthood (Neh 13:7). His name is Yahwist (“YHWH is good”), as was his son's name (Johanan). So he may have achieved such prominence in the Persian bureaucracy that he was appointed as governor of what was formerly the kingdom of the sons of Ammon. In any case, the mention of this Tobiah is only an indirect inference to the survival of distinctive Ammonites in the Persian period.

Edomites and Moabites. There is some epigraphic evidence for people of Edomite origin in fourth-century bce ostraca from southern Judea. The main groups of texts consist of small dockets recording quantities of grain being rendered as taxes (Beer-sheba) or being issued as fodder for horses or donkeys (Naveh 1973, 1979, 1982). Dozens of names have the Edomite theophoric component Qôs alongside many Judean and Arabic names. A flood of similar documents has come to light in recent years from somewhere in the Shephelah, probably Khirbet el-Qôm, ancient Makkedah (Lemaire 1996, 2002; Eph‘al and Naveh 1996).

In the early Hellenistic period there was an eparchy in southern Judea called 'Idoumai/a, Idumaea (Diod. Sic. 19.95.2, 19.98.1). There is no evidence that such an official district existed in the Persian period; e.g. the Edomites are not mentioned in Nehemiah. But the possibility to establish such an entity certainly developed as a result of the Edomite population already present in that area, as witnessed by the ostraca.

Arabians. “Arabia” is the name of the third area whose ruler appears in the Book of Nehemiah. Its ruler was the enigmatic Geshem the Arab. His name (Gßm) has been found on a silver bowl from the temple at Tell el-Maßkhûta, 12.5 miles (20 km) east of Ismailiya in Lower Egypt (cf. supra). So the evidence points to the ruler of an influential Arabian kingdom, the biblical Kedar (Rabinowitz 1956:9; Cross 1955:46_47), which controlled the trade routes from Arabia to the Mediterranean and held sway over the coastal strip from Gaza to Ienysus. They had been permitted to establish colonies in the eastern Egyptian delta at least as early as the reign of Darius I (Eph‘al 1982:212_214).

Later allusions to joint Egyptian and Arabian hostilities against the Achaemenids in Phoenicia suggest that the “kingdom” of Gashmu was not always loyal to Persia. During the latter part of the fifth century bce a Persian satrap in Asia Minor sent a fleet of three hundred triremes to Phoenicia because he had received word that the king of the Arabians and the king of the Egyptians were plotting to seize Phoenicia (Diod. Sic. 3.46.6), though that may have been something of a pretense (Diod. Sic. 3.37.4_5).

Cyprus. There is no indication as to when Cyprus was joined to the satrapy “Beyond the River.” A late tradition mentions that the Cypriots, along with Cilicia and Paphlagonia, voluntarily supported Cyrus in his campaign to conquer Babylon (Xenophon Cyr. 8.6.8). During the Ionian revolt (498 bce) Cyprus was ostensibly part of the Persian Empire but most of the Greek cities sided with their compatriots in the Aegean (Herodotus 5.116) while the Phoenician cities supported the Persians. It certainly was reckoned with Beyond the River in Herodotus' day, in the mid-fifth century bce (Herodotus 3.91). He lists the Cypriot naval unit in third place (because it was the third largest), while the Egyptian contingent came second. Thus the Cypriot group was separated from the Phoenician-Palestinian. Some political/administrative connection be-tween Cyprus and Phoenicia might go back to Assyrian times but there is no evidence that it belonged to Beyond the River during the Neo-Babylonian period.

From an ethnic point of view, Cyprus was inhabited by Phoenicians, Greeks and Eteocypriots (Maier 1994:305). While the Greek cities in the Aegean area had generally gone through an evolution from monarchy to tyranny and some on to democracy or oligarchy, the cities of Cyprus continued to maintain local monarchies throughout the archaic and classical periods (Maier 1994:297_299). The Phoenician cities also supported local monarchies. The principal rivals during the Persian period were Greek Salamis on the eastern coast and Phoenician Kition on the southeastern shore.


Cyrus II and Cambyses (539_521 bce). Babylon and Beyond the River. Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon in 539 bce, thus bringing to an end the great Neo-Babylonian, or Chaldean, kingdom. One of his first administrative arrangements was to place the entire Babylonian realm, including both Mesopotamia and the province Beyond the River, under the charge of a governor. It was evidently deemed advisable at that time to maintain the unity of the newly acquired territories. It is not known, however, if the small states in the province Beyond the River also submitted right away to Persian rule, though many subject peoples may have been happy about the fall of Babylon (Isa 13, 14:4_1, 21:1_10, 46:1_48:22; Jer 50, 51)

As lord of Babylon, Cyrus also claimed suzerainty over the peoples of the entire kingdom:

[ina qib¥tißu] ßirti nap≈ar œßib parakk® ßa kalîß kibrœta ißtu tœmti el¥ti adi tœmti ßapl¥ti œßib n[agî nesûti] ßarrœn¥ mœt Amurrî œßib kußtœri kalîßun bilassunu kabitti ∑bil∑nimma qerba Bœbili; unaßßiq∑ ß®p∑’a

[At his (Marduk's)] exalted [command] the entirety of the kings seated on thrones of all the whole world from the upper sea to the lower sea, dwellers in [distant] dis[tricts], all of the kings of the land of Amurru, the dwellers in tents, brought their heavy tribute; in the midst of Babylon they kissed my feet. (Cyrus Cylinder K2.1; Schaudig 2001:553)

There is no detailed record of the submission of the various peoples in the province Beyond the River to their new Persian rulers. However, Cyrus' generosity in allowing various populations to return to their original home reflects a new policy:

ißtu [Bœbil]i adi œl Aßßur u Í∑ßi Akkade mœt Eßnunnak œl Zambœn œl Meturnu D®r adi pœª mœt Qutî mœ≈œ[a ebe]rti Idiglat ßa ißtu pœnœma nadû ßubassun ilœni œßib libbißunu ana aßr¥ßunu ut®rma ußarmâ ßubat dœri’œta kullat niߥßunu upa≈≈iramma ut®r dadmîßun

From [Babyl]on to the city of Ashur and Susa, Akkad, the land of Eshnunna, the city of Zabbœn, the city of Meturnu, D®r as far as the border of the land of Guti, the temple cities [bey]ond the Tigris of which their shrines had been in ruins from of old, the deities who dwelled in their sanctuaries, I retuned to their places; I established them in permanent shrines. All of their peoples I assembled; I returned them to their abodes.

(Cyrus Cylinder, K2.1; Schaudig 2001:553)

This strengthens the case for the authenticity of the similar “Declaration” pertaining to the Judeans:

Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: “All the kingdoms of the earth has YHWH, the Lord of heaven, granted to me and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his Lord be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of YHWH, the Lord of Israel; He is the Lord who is in Jerusalem. As for every survivor, from wherever he may be sojourning, may the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with property and cattle, along with a freewill offering for the house of YHWH which is in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:2_4; cf. also 2 Chr 36:23)

His new policy, a reversal of the old Assyrian practices, supporting the ethnic identity and the religious institutions of the subject peoples, must have aided the process of winning their loyalty. Major cities, or city-states, such as Tyre and Sidon, must have continued to enjoy a good measure of autonomy; especially those upon whom the Achaemenids were to be dependent for their naval forces in the Mediterranean. Gubaru ruled over the combined provinces from the fourth year of Cyrus, 535/534 bce, until the beginning of Darius' reign, in 520 bce.

One result of Cyrus' new policy towards the peoples of his empire was the restoration of the Judean temple community in Jerusalem. Sheshbazzar was “the prince of Judah” (Heb. הַנָּשִׂיא לִיהוּדָה; Ezra 1:8) and “governor” (Aram. פֶחָה; Ezra 5:14) of Judah. Cyrus entrusted him with the temple vessels stored in Babylon since Nebuchadnezzar's day (Ezra 1:7_11). In a purported correspondence, he is credited with laying the foundation (Aram. אֻשַּׁיָּא, Ezra 5:16; probably = Heb. מְכוֹנׂתָיו), evidently the substructure for the sacrificial altar. Sheshbazzar (שֵׁשְׁבַּצַּר) is surely to be identified with Shenazzar (שֶׁנְאַצַּר; 1 Chr 3:18), a son of Jehoiachin and uncle to Zerubbabel (Japhet 1982:96). He must have been about sixty years old when he immigrated to Jerusalem. His name was obviously of Babylonian origin, most probably from Sîn-ab(a)-u'ur (Albright 1921a:108_109).

Zerubbabel, son (or grandson) of Shealtiel (Ezra 3:2, 3:8, 5:2; Neh 12:1; Hag 1:1, 1:12, 1:14, 2:2, 2:23; Zech 3:8; cf. 1 Chr 3:17_24), apparently replaced his uncle Sheshbazzar sometime prior to the reign of Darius I (Ezra 2:2). He has the title “governor of Judah” (פַּחַת יְהוּדָה; Hag 1:1, 1:14, 2:2, 2:21) and he was involved in the reconstruction of the altar on the temple mount (Ezra 3:2_3).

Regular sacrifices were reconstituted from the beginning of the seventh month in the first day of the month, i.e. Tishri (17 Sept. 538 bce). Basic plans were made for the building of the temple in the second year but when neighboring peoples asked to have a share in the enterprise, they were rebuffed. Henceforth, they continued to hamper the progress of the project until the reign of Darius I (Ezra 4:1_5).

Egypt. At the far southwest of the Persian domains, Egypt was also added to the empire by the conquest of Cambyses in 525 bce (Herodotus 3.1_29). Amasis had died the year before and was succeeded by his son Psammetichus III. The tyrant of Samos, Polycrates, who had been a treaty partner with Amasis, shifted his allegiance and sent a fleet of forty ships to support Cambyses. On the route to Egypt along the Sinai coast, Cambyses requested and was granted the assistance of the Arabian king (evidently of Kedar) who controlled the zone from Kadytis (Gaza) to Ienysus (el-‘Arîsh). The Arabs furnished water for the Persians and later were exempted from taxes (Herodotus 3.4_5). Besides the Arabian support, a leading mercenary general, Phanes of Halicarnassus, had defected to Cambyses and provided first-hand intelligence data of the utmost importance. The conquest itself and the many conflicting evidences about Cambyses' behavior do not concern the present narrative about the fortunes of Beyond the River (Dandamaev 1989:70_82). As is well known, Cambyses campaigned to Nubia and wanted to operate in North Africa but his mercenaries balked at fighting their countrymen. When news arrived that a usurper had seized the throne in Persia, Cambyses started home but died of an accidental wound on the way.

Darius I (521_486 bce). Not only Herodotus but also Darius himself in the Behistun Inscription provide versions of the story of the latter's election to the succession and his subsequent struggle to put down rebellions and to consolidate the empire once more.

Disturbances throughout the Empire. Rebel-lions broke out in various parts of the empire when Darius came to power. A certain Nidintu-bel assumed the name Nebuchadnezzar III and led Babylon in revolt from October to December 522 bce (DB I, 77_II, 5; Kent 1953:120_123; Wei–bach 1911:22_27; Lecoq 1997:193_194). While Darius was reestablishing his authority in Babylon after the defeat of this rebel, other subject peoples rose in revolt, possibly including Athura and Egypt (DB II, 7; Kent 1953:123; Wei–back 1911:28_29; Lecoq 1997:195). The Behistun inscriptions speak of serious fighting to subdue Armenia. The victory by one of the king's generals at “Izala in Assyria” (mountainous area in the northern Jezîrah) brought Armenia back into line (DB II, 53_57; Kent 1953:122, 124; Wei–bach 1911:35_35; Lecoq 1997:198) and perhaps this also brought pacification to the Levant although it is questionable whether there were any real disturbances in the province Beyond the River. Egypt would be visited later by Darius (519 bce). Another usurper, named Arkha, took the title of Nebuchadnezzar IV and stirred up Babylon to another revolt from September to November 521 bce (DB III, 76_92; Kent 1953:126, 128; Wei–bach 1911:54_55; Lecoq 1997:206; Böhl 1968). Although Gubaru no longer appears in cuneiform records, he still might have been the Gobryas who was sent to quell a fresh uprising in Elam during the third year of Darius (DB V, 1_14; Kent 1953:132_134; Wei–bach 1911:72_73; Lecoq 1977:213).

Reorganization. After making firm his control, Darius I reorganized the empire. It may be at this time that the province Beyond the River was constituted as a sub-satrapy. By March 520 bce, Ushtannu is documented as the governor of Babylon and Beyond the River. At this time there was some internal rivalry in the latter province, as evidenced by the tensions between Judah (Yehud) and its neighbors concerning the reconstruction of the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 4:1_5). There is hardly a coincidence; the prophet Haggai (Hag 1) urged the Judeans to renew their efforts toward building the temple just when Darius had stabilized his rule by quelling the second Babylonian revolt (under Nebuchadnezzar IV). After so much trouble in the empire, Tattenai, who was evidently governor of Beyond the River under the higher authority of Ushtannu, and his colleagues, including his Iranian secretary Shethar-bozenai, can hardly be blamed for suspecting the Judean motives (Ezra 5:3_17). The strong building rising on the temple mount may have evoked the impression of a fortified citadel. Egypt had also been in revolt.

At that time Tattenai, the governor of the province Beyond the River, and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues came to them and spoke to them thus, “Who issued you a decree to rebuild this temple and to finish this structure?”

Then we told them accordingly what the names of the men were who were reconstructing this building. . . .

(Ezra 5:3_4)

Incidentally, two other details about Achaemenid administration are revealed in this affair. Tattenai sent to Babylon for the pertinent records since this was the administrative headquarters for both provinces. His superior was located there. However, the actual record was found at Ecbatana. The scribes in Babylon have remembered that before his first official year, Cyrus had returned to Ecbatana. Though the actual decree was not found, a brief memorandum turned up in the files confirming the issuance of the original decree (Ezra 6:1_5). The Persian emperor, Darius, became convinced that the Jews were not guilty of rebellion so he ordered Tattenai to permit and even assist the building of the Jerusalem temple. A short time afterward there arrived a delegation of Jews from Babylonia bringing funds to support the work in Jerusalem (Zech 6:9_14).

One may note a parallel between Darius' concern for the temple in Jerusalem with his intervention on behalf of the priesthood of Apollo in Magnesia.

Basileu\ß basili/wn Dapeivoß oJ JUsta/spew Gada/tai dou/lwi ta/de le/gei: Punqa/nomai\ se tw◊n ejmw◊n ejpitagma/twn ouj kata\ pa/nta peiqarcei◊n. o§ti me\n ga\r th\n ejh\n ejkponei◊ß gh◊n, tou\ß Pe/ran Euj[vf]ravtou ka/rpouß ejpi\ ta\ ka/tw th◊ß 'Asi/aß me/rh katafuteu/wn, ejpainw◊ sh\n pro/qesin kai\ dia\ tau◊ta/ soi kei/setai mega/lh ca/riß ejm basile/wß oi¡kwØ, o¢ti de\ th\n uJpe\r qew◊n mou dia/qesin ajfani/zeiß, dw/sw soi mh\ metabalome/nwi pei◊ran hjdikhme/nou qumou◊. futourgou\ß ga\r iJerou\ß 'Apo/llwnoß fo/ron e¡prasseß kai\ cw/ran skapaneu/ein be/bhlon ejpe/tasseß, ajgnow◊n ejmw◊n progo/nwn eijß to\n qeo\n nou◊n, o§ß Pe/rsaß ei™pe[ pa◊]san ajtre/ke[ian . . .].

King of kings, Darius, son of Hystaspes, thus speaks to Gadatas, slave: I learn that you do not obey my commands in all things. That you cultivate my land by transplanting the fruits of Beyond the Euphrates to the lower district of Asia, I commend your purpose, and because of this there shall be laid up for you great favor in the king's house. But because you neglect my policy in behalf of the gods I will give you, if you do not change, proof of my wronged feelings, for you exacted tribute from the sacred cultivators of Apollo and commanded them to dig unhallowed ground, not knowing the mind of my ancestors toward the god, who spoke [the wh]ole tru[th] the Persians. (Dittenberger 1915:No. 22; Meyer 1896:19_21)

An official there named Gadatas had imported some fruit trees from the province “Beyond the Euphrates” but he had also “exacted tribute from the sacred cultivators of Apollo and commanded them to dig unhallowed ground.” Darius warned Gadatas to desist from such behavior; the text, which is inscribed in Roman orthographic and paleographic style, was set up in the Apollo temple—proof of temple prerogatives.

Darius must have passed through the province Beyond the River on his way to Egypt in 519/518 bce (Parker 1941; Cameron 1943; Dandamaev 1989:141_146). He may have taken this opportunity to clarify the problems that had arisen under Tattenai's supervision. But the assumption that Zerubbabel was executed as a rebel (Olmstead 1948:142) is belied by the passages showing Darius' support for the Judean governor (Ezra 6:7; cf. Hag 2:23; Zech 4:6_10). Nevertheless, it should be noted that in the case of the suspicions on the part of Tattenai and his colleagues with regard to the Judeans' intentions in rebuilding the temple, they seem to coincide with some possibly rebellious behavior on the part of Aryandes, the satrap of Egypt, Libya and Cyrene, appointed by Cambyses. He had begun to mint silver coinage (Herodotus 4.166). He had also initiated military action against Barca (Herodotus 4.200, 4.204). These may have been displays of independence on his part. One source claims that the Egyptians had risen in revolt against Aryandes (Polyaenus VII, 11, 7; who calls him Oryandros) and Darius marched on Memphis to quell the insurrection. In any event, Darius I did go to Egypt as witnessed by many inscriptions and stelae (Dandamaev 1989:143_146). Any direct impact on the negotiations regarding building the temple in Jerusalem is unattested. The Jerusalem temple was finally completed by 12 March 515 bce:

This temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar; it was the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. . . . The exiles observed the Passover on the fourteenth of the first month. (Ezra 6:15_19)

The Passover was then celebrated on 20 April 515 bce.

The last year for which a cuneiform document referring to Tattenai as governor of Beyond the River is 502 bce. A business document dated to the twentieth year of Darius had a witness, B®l-®ªiranni, the servant (qallu) of ITa-at-{tan}-{nu} NAM e-bir ^D = Tattannu p¥≈œt Ebir Nœri, “Tattenai, governor of Beyond the River” (Ungnad 1907b: No. 152:24_25 = San Nicolò and Ungnad 1935:304 No. 327). By this time, he may have been the satrap of an independent province. His four sons, Napsannu, Ô¥≈â (or Ô¥≈ai?), Íamßâ (or Íamßai) and Nabû-ßarru-u'ur, are known to have had estates in various parts of Babylonia, especially in the vicinity of Borsippa. These are documented well into the fifth century bce.

Wars in the West. Documentation for the ensuing decades in the province Beyond the River is lacking. Events in the eastern Mediterranean from the late sixth century to the early fifth century bce were to eventually have a profound effect on the peoples of the Levant. In 513 bce Darius I made his first expedition to conquer Thrace. The subjection of the Thracian peoples was achieved, partly by submission and partly by conquest; but Darius' attempt to defeat the Scythians beyond the Danube was a disaster and he was forced to retreat (Briant 2002:141_146; Dandamaev 1989:18_152).

In 498 bce there was a revolt among the Hellenic cities of Ionia. With token assistance from Athens and Eretria, the Milesian rebels burned and looted most of the city of Sardis though the Persian garrison held out. Soon after, the western Greeks withdrew but the Ionians continued the war (Herodotus 5.99_103). They seized Byzantium in the Hellespont thus isolating the Thracian satrapy.

Many Carians and Lycians joined the rebels and the spirit of revolt spread to the Greek cities of Cyprus. The Phoenician cities remained loyal to Persia and the imperial fleet and army went to their aid. In the naval battle, the Ionians defeated the Phoenicians but on land the victory went to the Persians while the opposing generals were both slain. During 497_496 bce the island was reconquered by the Persians (Herodotus 5.104_116). During the next two years the Persians gradually reduced the rebel cities and in 494 bce their Phoenician fleet defeated and dispersed the Greek ships that were supporting Miletus. The latter city was subjected to a prolonged siege and afterwards was ravaged and burned. In 493 bce the remaining islands such as Chios were subjected. With the crushing of the revolt, Ionia gradually lost its predominance in international trade and the center of political, military and economic gravity shifted to mainland Greece, principally to Athens and Sparta (Dandamaev 1989:153_167; Briant 2002:146_160).

In order to achieve Darius' goal of domination of the Aegean, an expedition was launched in 492 bce against the islands. Thrace and Macedonia were also reconquered. That campaign ended in the famous defeat at Marathon (490 bce). The Persian objective had probably been to install a pro-Persian tyranny at Athens. The defeat did not really diminish the imperial strength and was followed by the extensive preparations for a full-scale invasion of mainland Greece (Dandamaev 1989:173_177; Briant 2002:156_161 with references).

Egyptian Revolt. In 486 bce, while the Persians were amassing their forces for the war against Hellas, news arrived at the Persian court that a new rebellion had broken out in Egypt (Herodotus 7.1, 3). Shortly after that Darius died (cf. Lecoq 1997:255, §4, n. 2) and was succeeded by the eldest son of his royal wife (Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus II; Herodotus 7.3.4), viz. Xerxes (Old Per. Xßayœrßœ; Akkad. Ùißi’arßa’; Elam. Ikßer’ißßa; Gk. Xe/rxhß; Heb. ’a˙aßw®rôß). Meanwhile, a business document from Babylon attests to a certain IÙu-ta-x-x-’ A-ßú ßá IPa-ga-ka-an-na L¨pa-≈a-tu4 E.KI ù e-bé-ri ^D = IÙuta--’ apilßu ßa IPagakanna pœ≈œtu Bœbaili u Eber Nœri, “Ùutta--’ son of Pagakanna governor of Babylon and Beyond the River” (BM 74554:1_3; Stolper 1989:284). The date of the transaction, ITUKIN UD.24.KæM MU.36.KæM IDa-ri-iá-muß LUGAL E.KI u KUR.KUR.MEÍ = Ul∑lu ∑m 24 ßanat 36 IDariyawuß ßar Bœbili u mœtœti, “Month of Ul∑lu, day twenty-four, year thirty-six of Darius king of Babylon and of the lands” (BM 74554:20_22), proves that the provinces of Babylon and Beyond the River had not been separated yet, and they were still under one satrap (Stolper 1992).

Xerxes (485_465 bce). Reconquest of Egypt. The suppression of the Egyptian rebellion occasioned the passage of a Persian army through the coastal territories of Beyond the River, most likely with the active support of the Phoenician navy. Darius had been assembling a large force for his renewed war in the Aegean and the forces eventually sent included a large contingent of ships from the Phoenicians and Philistines (cf. supra). But those military assets that Darius had spent three years in gathering must have been at least partially directed to the reconquest of Egypt (Briant 2002:525). It took Xerxes another four years (484_481 bce; Herodotus 7.20.1) to rebuild his armies and the navy for the planned invasion of Hellas. After smashing the Egyptian revolt, Xerxes appointed his brother, Achaemenes, as satrap of Egypt (Herodotus 7.7).

It is interesting to note that during the accession year of Xerxes (between November 486 and March 485 bce) an accusation was made against the Jews,

וּבְמַלְכוּת אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ בִּתְחִלַּת מַלְכוּתוֹ כָּתְבוּ שִׂטְנָה עַל יֹשְׁבֵי יְהוּדָה וִירוּשָׁלָ ִם

Now in the reign of Ahasuerus (Xerxes), in the beginning of his reign, they wrote slander against the residents of Judah and Jerusalem. (Ezra 4:6)

This particular entry is not evidence that the author/editor of the Book of Ezra is confused about the chronology. He simply wished to gather together in one place some notes on various times when the authorities of Beyond the River had caused trouble for the Jewish community. These were background for the earlier conflict over the building of the temple. Like the Egyptian rebellion, there is no detailed documentation about the incident. It just seems more than a curiosity that accusations against the Jews should coincide with a rebellion in Egypt. The previous troubles about the temple also coincided with suspicious activities on the part of the then satrap of Egypt.

Babylonian Rebellions. Subsequently, two revolts broke out in Babylon, the first in 484 and the second in 482 bce (Böhl 1962). The second insurrection was violently suppressed. The king sent his brother-in-law, Megabyzus, to crush the latter revolt. The Babylonian estates of the local nobles were confiscated and awarded to Persians. Babylonia also lost its status as the senior province of the former Neo-Babylonian Empire. The separation of Beyond the River from Mesopotamia was evidently carried out at this time. If so, then Herodotus' fifth satrapy would have been constituted as an independent administrative unit in 482 bce. This means that, although Herodotus claimed to know of an organization into twenty satrapies by Darius I (Herodotus 3.89_95), the actual situation depicted by him had come into effect sometime prior to his own visit to the Levant and Egypt but certainly not as early as the beginning of Darius' reign (cf. Eph‘al 1988:153_154).

The Great Persian War. The campaign which culminated in the Greek naval victory in the bay of Salamis and the land victory at Plataea (followed by an additional victory at Mycale) took place far from the province Beyond the River, but Phoenician, Philistine and Cypriot ships were deeply involved in the fighting. Their performance was disgraceful and many commanders were severely punished by Xerxes (Herodotus 7.195; 8.11, 68, 100).

Aftermath. The peoples of the eastern Mediterranean preserved a number of humorous stories about Xerxes' bad temperament and about serious family problems in the aftermath of the First Persian War. That humiliation had taken place in the king's seventh year. Therefore, it is not fortuitous that a Hebrew novella about troubles in the royal family and the subsequent beauty contest to find a new virgin to distract the king from his troubles is placed in the seventh year (Esth 2:16). Herodotus (9.108_113) preserves the tale of the king's infatuation with his brother's wife and later with his brother's daughter. Queen Amestris discovered the latter affair and demanded the mutilation of the hapless girl.

This war resulted in the balance of power in the Aegean shifting to the Greek cities (there was never a “Greek Nation”), especially Athens. That city-state eventually became the head of the Delian league (478 bce; Thuc. 1.4.96_97), which developed afterwards into an Athenian thalassocracy. Meanwhile, in the first year of the Delian alliance, a combined Greek fleet under Pausanias (the Spartan victor at Plataea) sailed to Cyprus and conquered most of the island (Thuc. 1.4.94; Diod. Sic. 11.44.1_2). In the decade of constant strife from 478 to 466 bce one of the high points was the naval battle at the mouth of the Eurymedon in southern Asia Minor. Its exact date cannot be determined (Rhodes 1992:43). The Persians had previously recouped their losses in Cyprus (perhaps by 470 bce) and later (possibly in 466/465 bce; Briant 2002:967) sailed westward to engage the Hellenic allied fleet. The Greek commander by now was Cimon. Before the Phoenician ships could reach the Eurymedon to strengthen the Persian fleet, the Greeks inflicted a resounding defeat on them. Then they were ready when the Phoenicians finally did arrive and those, too, suffered disaster (Thuc. 1.4. 100, 1; Diod. Sic. 11.60.3_62).

Artaxerxes I (464_424 bce). In August of 465 bce, Xerxes was assassinated in his bed (Stolper 1983). His son must have been involved in the plot but leading courtiers had assumed most of the power (Dandamaev 1989:232_237). The new king, Artaxerxes I (Old Per. Artaxßaça; Akkad. Artakßassu/Arta’≈aßaissi; Gk. 'Artaxe/rxhß, Heb. and Aram. ’Arta˙ßa…ta’), managed to eliminate the assassins (who planned to usurp his throne) and then began to reorganize the imperial administration and to replenish his devastated naval assets (Diod. Sic. 11.62.2).

Egyptian Revolt. The middle decades of the fifth century bce were saturated in blood. Not only did a new revolt break out in Egypt (460 bce), but also the Athenian sea power, including the allies of the Delian league, joined the fray to help Egypt gain its independence. The Persians had blocked the trade route through the Bosporus to the Black Sea, thus cutting off the major supply line for Hellenic grain. Now the Greeks hoped to establish a firm link with an independent Egypt to foster their trade and to acquire their grain supplies from the rich delta.

The leader of the revolt was Inaros, of Libyan background (Thuc. 1.104), called son of Psammetichus. He was supported by Amyrteus of Sais, probably a descendant of the family of pharaohs from Dynasty XXVI; he is probably the grandfather of the Amyrteus of Dynasty XXVIII (404_399 bce). Inaros was supported first of all by native Egyptian and Libyan troops but mercenaries were also gathered from other peoples of the area. They expelled the Persian fiscal bureaucrats from the delta and established their own control. They also dispatched ambassadors to Athens requesting military aid and promising that the Greek efforts would be amply rewarded. However, Memphis had a strong Persian garrison and it stayed loyal to the empire along with most of Upper Egypt. The rebels besieged the Persians, who had holed up in the “White Fortress” at Memphis (Thuc. 1.104; Diod. Sic. 11.71; Ctesias is being ignored in the ensuing discussion).

The satrap of Egypt was Achaemenes, brother of Xerxes and uncle to Artaxerxes. He assembled a large army and entered Egypt, encamping close to the Nile. A contingent of two hundred ships arrived from Athens to strengthen the Egyptian side. The battle was joined at a place called Papremis (Papr˙miß; Herodotus 3.12), somewhere in the western delta. Achaemenes was slain and his forces thoroughly routed. The Persian survivors of the clash took refuge in the White Fortress at Memphis; the garrison there continued to hold out. It would be the key to Upper Egypt and was thus vital for Inaros to capture it. Therefore, he was forced into a prolonged siege (Diod. Sic. 11.74).

Artaxerxes countered his defeat with a political and a military response. A certain Megabyzus was sent to Sparta to try to bribe them into attacking Athens, which would presumably require the recall of the Hellenic forces in Egypt. When those efforts were not crowned with success, Megabyzus, son of Zophyrus and son-in-law of Xerxes, was ordered to amass a huge army and navy to pursue the further conduct of the war. The Persian monarch had no intention of losing his most rich and strategic possessions.

This Megabyzus would seem to have the position of governor of Beyond the River (Syria) if the implications in the account by Ctesias (§§34_38) are to be believed (Olmstead 1948:308; Dandamaev 1989:239; Petit 1990:194_195). After the Egyptian war, when Megabyzus retired to Syria, the latter was called by Ctesias hj ejautouv cw÷ra, “his own country” (§36). But when describing Megabyzus' mission to Egypt, Herodotus only says:

Mega/buxoß, o§ß e\n Aijgu/ptwø ajvtni/a jAqhnai/wn kai\ twvn summa/cwn ejstrath/ghse:

Megabyzus, who served as general in Egypt against the Athenians and the allies. (Herodotus 3.160.2)

He assembled his vast army and brought them to Cilicia (456 bce) but that he enjoyed the full support of the Cypriots is unclear. He ordered them and the Phoenicians on the mainland to produce a mighty fleet of triremes. The Greeks in the delta were still besieging the garrison in the White Fortress at Memphis. By 454 bce, Megabyzus and his colleague, Artabazus, sent their army overland via Syria and Phoenicia with the fleet accompanying them offshore. They entered the delta and proceeded to Memphis, where they broke the siege. The Athenians and Egyptian/Libyan forces withdrew in terror. The Attic ships were moored at the island of Prosopitis in the western delta. The Persian fleet also entered by one of the branches of the Nile. They diverted the Nile waters from the anchorage of the Greek fleet and thus gained access to the island. The Athenians set fire to their ships and tried to make a stand. Thucydides (1.4.110) says most of them perished although a few escaped by way of Libya to Cyrene and on to home. Diodorus (Diod. Sic. 11.77.4) makes out that the Persian generals preferred to let the Greeks leave honorably rather than suffer heavy losses to their own troops conquering them. Thucydides' account is obviously more trustworthy. Meanwhile, another Athenian fleet had been dispatched to Egypt not knowing about the defeat of their compatriots. These latter ships put in to shore at the Mendesian mouth of the Nile. The Persian troops attacked them from the land and the Phoenician fleet attacked them from the sea. Only a few ships managed to escape (Thuc. 1.4.110). Thus, the Athenian adventure to Egypt came to an ignominious conclusion.

Inaros was captured along with his close associates and eventually executed in Persia. His cohort, Amyrteus, did manage to escape and continued to wage a guerrilla campaign from the delta marshes.

Counterattack in Cyprus. Three years later (449 bce) a new fleet of Athenians and other members of the Delian league comprising two hundred vessels sailed to Cyprus under the leadership of Cimon. Sixty ships were detached and sent to aid Amyrteus in the marshes of Egypt. The rest laid siege to Marion and Kition. Cimon died during the siege and his death was concealed for thirty days while the Athenian forces organized their retreat. They were running out of supplies. Megabyzus prepared a large naval force in Cilicia made up of Phoenician, loyal Cypriot and Cilician ships. Perhaps in desperation, the Hellenes won a double victory on sea and land. It is claimed that they captured one hundred ships (Thuc. I, iv, 112; Diod. Sic. 11.62, who wrongly associates this information with the earlier battle of Eurymedon; Dandamaev 1989:250).

The “Peace of Callias.” Both the Athenians and the Persians lost their will to continue the bloody and expensive hostilities. As a result, in 448 bce the so-called Peace of Callias was negotiated. The fourth-century bce alleged copy of the treaty seems to indicate that the Persians agreed to keep their ships out of the Aegean and the Athenians agreed to let the Persians dominate the Mediterranean. The status of the east Greek cities of Asia Minor is not clear; some compromises must have been reached (Dandamaev 1989:251_255).

Sidonian Affairs. At this point, some conclusions may be reached about the dating of the ’Eshmun‘azor Inscription. That Phoenician text, inscribed on the lid of a huge coffin of Egyptian manufacture, describes the premature demise of a young king of Sidon, ’Eshmun‘azor II. The approximate dates for the Sidonian kings of the mid-fifth century bce, based on paleographic, numismatic and historical considerations (Peckham 1968:87; contra Elayi 2004) can be established as follows:

’Eshmun‘azor I 479_470 bce

Tabnit 470_465 bce

’Eshmun‘azor II 465_451 bce

Bod‘ashtart 451_? bce

The first ’Eshmun‘azor probably represents the attempt at rehabilitation after the stunning losses of men and materiel in the Aegean war in the Bay of Salamis. Tabnit would overlap the transition from Xerxes to Artaxerxes and probably was the ruler during the ignominious defeat at Eurymedon (466 bce). The second ’Eshmun‘azor would have been ruling during the suppression of the Egyptian revolt by Megabyzus. The inscription does not say explicitly but one wonders if the young king might have lost his life in the fighting off Salamis in 449 bce.

Both Tabnit and ’Eshmun‘azor II were buried in coffins brought from Egypt. They must have been booty, perhaps acquired during the suppression of the earlier Egyptian revolt in 484 bce. In any case, when ’Eshmun‘azor II speaks in his funerary text (’Eshmun‘azor; Donner and Röllig 1962: I, 3, No. 14:18) of the land grant which had been awarded to him by אדנ מלכמ, “the lord of kings” (l. 18), it was למדת עצמת אש פעלת, “for the measure of the mighty deeds which I did” (l. 19). Now this could hardly have been during the Persian war in the Bay of Salamis (479 bce) or at the mouth of the Eurymedon in 466 bce. Neither could it have been for taking part in the disastrous battle off Cypriot Salamis in 449 bce. So the only alternative, when Phoenicians scored fantastic victories over the Greek fleet, was during Megabyzus' campaign to Egypt, in 454 bce.

Two important conclusions can be drawn from this line of reasoning: up to the Egyptian revolt in 460 bce and later, Dor and Joppa had been independent of Sidon. Were they subject to Tyre? Probably not. In other words, Dor in particular may have enjoyed a period of independence as a Phoenician seaport in the mid-fifth century bce. The second point is that the Sharon Plain, which included the hinterland of Joppa, was under Sidonian jurisdiction during the ensuing decade(s), from which time there is a limited amount of information from the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

The Jewish Millet. Some information about internal affairs in Beyond the River during the reign of Artaxerxes is provided by the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The sending of Ezra, “a scribe skilled in the law of Moses” (Ezra 7:6), to Jerusalem in 458 bce (Ezra 7:7) with proper credentials from the emperor himself (Ezra 7:11_26) may possibly represent an attempt on the part of the crown to secure the loyalty of various ethnic groups in the province Beyond the River. It can hardly be a coincidence that Ezra's commission to come to Judea was in the same year that Artaxerxes sent his ambassador, Megabyzus, to Sparta on a diplomatic mission aimed at undermining the power of Athens in the Egyptian rebellion. At the same time, the Persian monarch was taking steps to have the Phoenicians produce a new fleet of ships for use in the projected invasion of Egypt. It also behooved him to see to it that the various ethnic groups (millets) were loyal to the empire. Therefore, the commissioning of a highly qualified academic (scribe) of priestly lineage to deliver a constitutional document to the Jewish millet, thus strengthening its sense of identity and dependence on the crown, makes perfect sense.

Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest, namely Ezra, went up from Babylon (בָּבֶל), he was a scribe expert (סֹפֵר מָהִיר) in the Instruction of Moses which YHWH God of Israel had given (בְּתוֹרַת מֹשֶׁה אֲשֶׁר נָתַן יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל); and the king granted him all he requested because the hand of YHWH his God was upon him.

From of the sons of Israel (בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל) and from of the priests (הַכֹּהֲנִים), the Levites (הַלְּוִיִּם), the singers (הַמְּשֹׁרְרִים), the gatekeepers (הַשֹּׁעֲרִים) and the temple servants (הַנְּתִינִים) went up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes.

He came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. For on the first of the first month he began to go up from Babylon; and on the first of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, because the good hand of his God [was] upon him. (Ezra 7:1_9)

They left Babylon on 8 April 458 bce and arrived in Jerusalem on 4 August. This is a good example of the millet system as practiced by the Persians, whereby every district had its own script and every people its own language (Esth 1:22 passim) The religious and cultural traditions of each ethnic group in the empire were fostered and supported by the imperial authority. Naturally, the authenticity of the royal commission as presented in the Book of Ezra has been challenged but it certainly has all the earmarks of a valid administrative document. Thus, Ezra was authorized to establish the Torah as the statutory law of the Jewish millet:

You, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God (חָכְמַת אֱלָהָךְ) which is in your hand, appoint judges and magistrates that they may judge all the people who are in Beyond the River, all those who know the laws of your God (דָּתֵי אֱלָהָךְ); and you may teach anyone who is ignorant. Whoever will not observe the law of your God (דָּתָא דִי אֱלָהָךְ) and the law of the king (דָתָא דִּי מַלְכָּא), let judgment be executed upon him strictly, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of goods or for imprisonment. (Ezra 7:25_26)

Artaxerxes was giving official sanction to the Torah as the civil code of the Yehud province but Ezra was also charged with enforcing the law that he was bringing over כָל עַמָּא דִּי בַּעֲבַר נַהֲרָה, “all the people who are in Beyond the River” (Ezra 7:25). The entire Jewish millet in the province Beyond the River was to be subject to this legal text, not just those living in the small territory called Yehud. In the Aramaic letter carried by Ezra, the Hebrew word Torah (תּוֹרַת מׂשֶׁה) is translated by the Persian loan word דָּתָא, d↜’, “decree, royal command.” This was the beginning of the process whereby the Torah “instruction” acquired the status in the Jewish millet like the unchangeable laws of the Medes and Persians.

דָּתֵי פָרַס וּמָדַי וְלֹא יַעֲבוֹר

. . . laws of Persia and Media that it cannot be rescinded.

(Esth 1:19)

דָּת מָדַי וּפָרַס דִּי לָא תֶעְדֵּא

. . . law of Media and Persia which can not be repealed.

(Dan 6:9 [Eng. 6:8])

The promulgation of this Torah as depicted in the Masoretic Text of Nehemiah (7:72b [Eng 7:73b]_8:12) appears in 1 Esdras (9:37b_55) immediately after the chapter comparable to Ezra 10 about the crisis of intermarriage. The name Nehemiah is entirely missing from 1 Esdras. As the texts stand in the Masoretic Text, the reading of the Law took place thirteen years after Ezra's arrival, which does not make sense at all. Unfortunately, the Hebrew Vorlage used to make the translation of 1 Esdras was defective because it does not have the conclusion of the pericope. Although the composer of 1 Esdras is later and really does not know where to insert the passage about the reading of the Torah, he was surely correct to leave Nehemiah out of the passage about the public reading of the Torah (Talshir 1999:31_34). The public reading of Ezra's Torah took place years before Nehemiah even arrived in Jerusalem (cf. discussion in Cross 1975:7_9).

The “treasurers of the province Beyond the River” were enjoined to assist Ezra in carrying out his mission (Ezra 7:21_24). Most of the districts and ethnic groups in the province Beyond the River seemed to have remained loyal to Persia and were not sympathetic to the Egyptian cause.

A major issue addressed in the Ezra memoir was mixed marriages. Such liaisons were evidently quite widespread throughout the province and Ezra, in his capacity as executor of the Torah, took action. A public assembly was called to address the issue in month 9, day 20 (Ezra 10:9), and the commission appointed to resolve this problem completed its work on month 1, day 1 of the eighth year of Artaxerxes (Ezra 10:17), i.e. 27 March 457 bce. Thus, the activities attributed to Ezra were completed in a single year.

Megabyzus' Revolt. Not long after the restoration of Egypt and Cyprus to Persian control, Megabyzus, the king's relative, is said to have become angered over the harsh policies followed by the Persian monarch against the Egyptian political prisoners. The whole story is preserved only by Ctesias (Persica, Epit. 68_70). Although the writings of that Greek physician who spent time in the Persian court are highly suspect, the present narrative makes considerable sense in spite of the typical “soap opera” features. Furthermore, some of the personages who play a role in the story really existed, as demonstrated by cuneiform records (Briant 2002:577_578).

Megabyzus is said to have returned to his own territory (which must be assumed to be the province Beyond the River) and declared a revolt against Persian authority. In this he was supported by his sons, Zopyrus and Artyphius. Ironically, a force from Egypt, led by a certain Usiris, is said to have been sent against him but was unsuccessful. A second force, this time commanded by a Persian, Menostanes, the brother of Artaxerxes and satrap of Babylon, came out but achieved even less. Eventually, Megabyzus was reconciled to the emperor but did not remain as satrap of Beyond the River. If the main lines of the narrative are to be believed, there was at least some military action in Beyond the River, first an invasion from Egypt followed by another from Babylon. Greek and Persian records say nothing about how all this affected the peoples of Beyond the River. The local officials were doubtless hard-pressed to maintain law and order.

Jerusalem and Yehud. There certainly must be some connection between these events and the correspondence preserved in Ezra 4:7_23 (Olmstead 1948:313). The passage is inserted into the Book of Ezra as another “footnote” like the preceding mention of a complaint in the accession year of Xerxes (Ezra 4:6). The author wished to point out that obstructions to the building of the temple in the reign of Darius I had set a precedent for future conflicts with the authorities of Beyond the River. Each “footnote” had a date to the reign of the contemporary king. There should have been no reason to accuse the author of being confused in his chronology. He knew exactly what he was doing.

And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his colleagues wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the text of the letter was written in Aramaic and translated Aramaic. (Ezra 4:7)

None of these officials have the title of governor of the province. The officials of the province in this pericope are clearly loyal to the emperor and not in revolt against his authority, so it seems more likely to associate that passage with events just after the Megabyzus rebellion. The initial complaint was sent to King Artaxerxes by Rehum the commander and Shimshi the scribe (Ezra 4:7_23). However, the concern with the walls of Jerusalem point to the events just prior to or just after the arrival of Nehemiah. The officials of the province Beyond the River made the following accusation:

And now be it known to the king that the Jews who came up from you to us [i.e. Ezra and those who accompanied him] have gone up to Jerusalem. They are finishing the walls and repairing the foundations. (Ezra 4:12)

Their allusion to Jerusalem as “a rebellious city, hurtful to kings and provinces” (Ezra 4:15, 4:19) must certainly be understood against the background of the Megabyzus rebellion. The king's reply, that “mighty kings have been over Jerusalem, who ruled over the whole province Beyond the River” (Ezra 4:20), recalls to mind the Kingdom of Judah's role in previous conflicts between Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Judean revolt against Sennacherib in 701 bce and against Nebuchadnezzar in 587 bce was instigated by offers of Egyptian support. Therefore, when the Jews began to fortify their citadel a few years after Egypt and even Beyond the River had been in revolt, it was bound to appear suspicious.

The freshness and vividness of the report brought to Nehemiah in the month of Kislev in the twentieth year (of Artaxerxes; Tishri reckoning), i.e. November/December 446 bce (Neh 1:1), that “the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire” (Neh 1:3), suggests that severe steps had been taken to neutralize the Jerusalem fortress (Ezra 4:23). It seems strange that Nehemiah waited three months, until Nisan (Neh 2:1), i.e. April 445 bce (still in the twentieth year, according to Tishri reckoning; Thiele 1983:53, 180), before making his request to the king. Perhaps Artaxerxes had been away at another of his official residences and only came to Susa in the spring.

By 444 bce Nehemiah had arrived in the satrapy Beyond the River, with credentials from Artaxerxes appointing him governor of the Yehud province. By virtue of this new authority he set about to repair the walls of Jerusalem in the face of opposition by the governors of the neighboring districts (Neh 2:10). Nehemiah served as governor of the territory of Judah (פֶּחָם בְּאֶרֶץ יְהוּדָה; Neh 5:14) for twelve years, from the twentieth to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes (444_432 bce).

The theme of Nehemiah's conflict with his hostile neighbors (Neh 2:19, 4:1_8 passim) happens to provide some geographical information about the districts bordering on Yehud.

When Sanballat (סַנְבַלַּט) the Horonite (הַחֹרֹנִי) and Tobiah (טוֹבִיָּה) the Ammonite slave (הָעֶבֶד הָעַמֹּנִי). (Neh 2:10)

Sanballat (סַנְבַלַּט), Tobiah (טוֹבִיָּה), the Arabs (הָעַרְבִים), the Ammonites (הָעַמֹּנִים) and the Ashdodites (הָאַשְׁדּוֹדִים).

(Neh 4:1 [Eng. 4:7])

. . . to Sanballat (סַנְבַלַּט), and Tobiah (טוֹבִיָּה), and to Geshem the Arab (גֶּשֶׁם הָעַרְבִי) and to the rest of our enemies.

(Neh 6:1)

Sanballat “the Horonite” was governor of Samaria. The descendants of Sanballat, who inherited his office, are known now from the Wâd¥ ed-Dâliyeh Papyri (Cross 1963, 1966, 1989).

Tobiah “the Ammonite slave” evidently was a descendant of the family that gained a foothold in Transjordan in the aftermath of Jotham's aggression in 739 bce (cf. supra, chap. 14). This Tobiah was the son of an influential Jewish family with connections in Jerusalem. His capital was Tyre (Tu/roß), which apparently was called “the Tyre of the House of Tobiah” in Gilead (Ant. 12:233; ‘Irâq el-’Emîr; Lapp 1993). He seems to have been the Persian-appointed governor of Ammon that had been joined to the province of Gilead. His family “dynasty” continued into the Hellenistic period (Mazar 1957b).

Geshem the Arab was apparently also recognized as the governor of the Arabian district, which Herodotus included in the southern part of his fifth satrapy (cf. supra). From the discovery of Geshem's name on a silver bowl dedicated to a temple at Tell el-Maßkhûta, on the eastern border of Egypt, it became known that he was also king of the Kedar federation of Arabian tribes.

Nehemiah's fellow governors invited him to a conference.

Then Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together in the villages (! read כְּפָרִים; LXX tai√ß kw¿maiß) in the plain of Ono (בְּבִקְעַת אוֹנוֹ).” But they were planning to harm me. (Neh 6:2)

However, Nehemiah declined the invitation. The entire hinterland of Joppa (part of the Sharon Plain) was controlled by the Phoenician king of Sidon, so, in spite of a considerable Jewish population in Ono and the neighboring towns (Neh 11:33_35), Nehemiah was justifiably suspicious that he was liable to fall into a trap. There is no reason to assume that the plain of Ono was ever a part of the Yehud province during the Persian period (Avi-Yonah 2002:17_18 and Aharoni et al. 1993:129_130, Maps 170_171; also Aharoni and Rainey 2002; contra Aharoni and Avi-Yonah 1977:109, Map 171; Aharoni 1979:416, Map 34; Kallai 1983:75).

The hill region south of Beth-zur was not included in the province of Judah; in Hellenistic sources it is referred to as Idumea. Since Geshem the Arab was interfering in the affairs of Judah along with the governors of Samaria, Ammon and Ashdod, it is probable that Idumea, which borders on Judah, was within his sphere of authority (Alt 1931b=1953:338_345; Dumbrell 1971).

Thus, the Book of Nehemiah testifies to four provinces bordering on Judah: Samaria in the north, Ammon-Gilead in the east, Arabia-Idumea in the south, and Ashdod in the west. The provinces of Ammon and Arabia may have been constituted in the wake of the campaign by Nabû-naid (cf. supra).

Nehemiah returned to Persia in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes (433 bce; Neh 13:6). An unspecified time later (קֵץ יָמִים, perhaps a year?), he says he returned to Yehud (Neh 13:6). How long he stayed in the west is not stated.

Darius II (423_405 bce). Once again assassination and violence attended the transfer of power upon the death of Artaxerxes I (Dandamaev 1989:258_259). The winner was Ochus, satrap of Hyrcania, who took the throne name of Darius II. In the west two powerful satraps, Tissaphernes and Pharnabazos, vied for seniority and both maintained interference in the great Peloponnesian war between Sparta and Athens and their respective allies. The goal of Persian policy was restoration of political and financial control over the Greek cities and islands of Asia Minor. Local rebellions in the western Anatolian states often distracted them from their main objectives. Persian money was heavily invested in supporting the Spartan navy.

The papyri from the Jewish garrison at Elephantine (Yeb) reveal an incident (410_408 bce) whereby the governors of Jerusalem, Bagohi, and the sons of Sanballat, governor of Samaria, were enlisted to use their influence with Arsames, governor of Egypt. Local priests of Khnum had bribed Persian authorities at Syene to permit and even abet the destruction of the Jewish temple to Yahu at Yeb (Porten and Yardeni 1986:62, 68_78). Eventually, a permit to restore the sanctuary was obtained. Arsames had absented himself from his satrapy for some time.

Darius died leaving the kingdom to his son, Artaxerxes II. Unfortunately, there was another son, the favorite of Darius' queen. This latter prince, named Cyrus, was given an appointment as satrap in the west with extensive authority over the principal districts and local states. That situation would lead to a war between the brothers that could have changed the course of Persian history.

Artaxerxes II (404_359 bce). The year 404 bce marks the beginning of a chain of events of far-reaching consequences for the province Beyond the River.

Dynasty XXVIII in Egypt. In 404 bce Darius II died and Amyrteus (404_399 bce) led Egypt in a successful revolt. He was probably a descendant of the Amyrteus who had held out in the marshes during the older rebellion. His capital was Sais and he is reckoned as the only pharaoh of Dynasty XXVIII (404_399 bce). Almost nothing is known about his reign except some statements in the Demotic Chronicle. There he is accused of violation of divine law (III, 18_19) for which he was deposed and his son not allowed to follow him (IV, 1_2; Johnson 1983:66). The Egyptians managed to maintain their independence for the next sixty years in spite of repeated Persian attempts to reconquer them (Lloyd 1994:337_349). The history of the XXVIIIth to the XXXIst Dynasty depends a great deal on the Demotic Chronicle, a source that must be used critically (cf. Kienitz 1953:136_139; Johnson 1974).

The Revolt of Cyrus the Younger. The accession of Artaxerxes II Memnon and the subsequent conflict between him and his brother, “Cyrus the Younger,” not only saw an insurrectionist army marching across the province of Beyond the River, it shook the great Persian monolith to its very foundations and taught the Greeks that a well-disciplined force could easily penetrate to the heart of the empire (Xenophon, Anab.).

By the end of the fifth century bce, Syria, i.e. Beyond the River, was apparently being governed by a satrap called Abrokomas, who appears in Xenophon's account of the “ascent” by Cyrus the Younger (Xenophon, Anab. 1.3.20; 4.3.5, 18, 7.12). When Cyrus and his huge mercenary army arrived in Cilicia, he pretended that his aim was to attack this Abrokomas. The latter was thought to be waiting for him behind the Syrian Gates (Xenophon, Anab. 1.3.20). Diodorus (Diod. Sic. 14.20.5) only calls him “some Satrap of Syria.” Although 400 Greeks transferred their allegiance from Abrokomas to Cyrus, it was still reported that he had a strong force at his command (Xenophon, Anab. 1.4.3, 5). Abrokomas was a field commander on a par with the other three senior officers supporting King Artaxerxes at Cunaxa (Xenophon, Anab. 1.7.12). Of these latter, Tissaphernes was the well-known satrap of Asia Minor (who hated Cyrus the Younger), Arbakes was satrap of Media, and Gobryas (Gubaru) was “governor of Akkad” or “governor of Babylon” according to cuneiform texts from the reign of Darius II (Stolper 1987:397 n. 37; Röllig 1971:672). The latest text of this Gubaru is 417 bce; during the campaign of Cyrus the Younger, an addition to the Anabasis (7.8.25) has an otherwise unknown Rhoparas (‘Rwpa/raß) as governor (a¡rxwn) of Babylon.

As Cyrus and his troops marched across northern Syria to cross the Euphrates at Thapsacus, mention is made of

ta\ Bele/suoß basi/leia tou√ Suri/as a¡rxantoß

the palace of Belesys who had been ruler of Syria,

(Xenophon, Anab. 1.4.11)

which was laid waste by Cyrus. Cuneiform records make it possible to reconstruct something of the career of B®lshunu son of B®lu'urßu (Stolper 1987). From his appearance on various dated business documents it can be seen that he was at one time a governor of the city of Babylon (but not the satrap of Babylonia/Akkad) from 421 to 414 bce. He is documented as the pœ≈œtu Eber nœri, “governor of Beyond the River” from 407 to 401 bce (Stolper 1987:390_391 for references). One need not think of this palatial estate and its well-tended park as the satrapal headquarters; it was more likely a private retreat maintained by the governor for his own use. By that time, he may have reached considerable seniority and thus retired. A person of his name is listed as furnishing sacrifices in 400 bce in Babylonia. It seems reasonable to assume that B®lshunu was relieved (not in disgrace) and replaced by Abrokomas, whose military skills were needed to organize the forces required for a new invasion of Egypt.

The land that Xenophon called “Syria” included Phoenicia and the northern coast as far as Myriandros. It extended eastward to the Euphrates. That Abrokomas was supposedly waiting behind the Cilician Gates does not mean that the border of his satrapy was there. The boundary between Cilicia and Syria is not given by Xenophon. In the east, when Cyrus and his troops were marching from Thapsacus (Tiphsah) to the mouth of the Ùabur, he is said to have been in Syria; from there to Pylae he is in a region called Arabia. Whether this latter belonged to Syria or to Babylonia is not made clear. From Pylae onward, he is in Babylonia. After the failure of Cyrus' bid for power, Abrokomas returned to Syria.

The first decade of the fourth century saw wars and intrigues between the Spartans and the various Persian satraps and generals. Most of the action was in Asia Minor. Artaxerxes was learning that the archers depicted on Persian gold coins were more effective than armies and navies (Dandamaev 1989:286_295).

Dynasty XXIX. Nephrites became king of Egypt in 398 bce (Kienitz 1953:169). His capital was Mendes. The discovery of a scaraboid bearing his name at Gezer (Macalister 1912: II, 313, Fig. 452; Rowe 1936:230_231) is hardly sufficient to suggest that he extended his control to include southern Palestine but it does show a renewed interest in the Levant and a possible attempt to take advantage of the Persians' distraction in Asia Minor. He was followed by Achoris (393_380 bce) who found a ready ally against the Achaemenids when Evagoras of Cyprus threw off the Persian yoke in 391 bce (Diod. Sic. 15.2.3). Evagoras, in his turn, lost his support from the Athenians with the “Peace of Antacidas” (“the King's Peace”; Xenophon, Hell. 5.1.31) when the Persian monarch dictated humiliating terms to the Greek cities (386 bce). Still, a Greek general was sent to Egypt to assist in preparing the Egyptian forces to face an impending Persian attack (Polyaenus III, 11, 7).

Attack and Counterattack. Abrokomas joined Pharnabazos and Tithraustes in a concerted drive to reconquer Egypt (c. 385_383 bce). While the Persian forces were engaged, Evagoras captured Tyre and won over a large part of Phoenicia and Cilicia (Diod. Sic. 15.2.4; Iso. Evag. 62; Iso. Paneg. 161). In addition to his alliance with Egypt, he had ample support from Hecatomnus, ruler of Caria. If the suggested emendation of barba/rwn to 'Ara/bwn in Diodorus (Diod Sic. 15.2.3) be accepted, then Evagoras' forces included troops sent by “the king of the Arabians.” The role of the province Beyond the River once again assumed a major geopolitical role in the struggle between Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Persian forces, their supply lines cut, were beaten severely and forced to retreat from Egypt (Iso. Paneg. 140). Pharaoh Achoris has left some monuments in the province Beyond the River, viz. an inscription at the Eshmunazer Temple north of Sidon (von Landau 1904:342_347) and an altar stand of polished gray granite (from Syene) at Acco (Porter and Moss 1951:382).

A renewed Persian force invaded Cyprus and finally forced Evagoras to surrender (381_379 bce) though the terms were much lighter than those demanded by him earlier (Diod. Sic. 15.8_9). In Egypt, Nectanebos became the founder of the XXXth Dynasty (380 bce).

Pharnabazos, satrap of Cilicia, began mustering troops for a new assault on Egypt as early as 379 bce but it was only in 373 bce that he finally brought his forces together at Acco (Diod. Sic. 15.41.3; Polyaenus III, 9, 56; Isaeus, Nicostratus 7). Though he is credited with amassing a large navy, 300 ships, and extensive land forces, 12,000 Greek mercenaries and many Orientals, he was unable to do more than to establish a bridgehead near the Mendesian mouth of the Nile. He was unable to enter via Pelusium and a strong Egyptian counterattack forced him to withdraw.

Although the Phoenicians had done their part in this invasion by providing the naval support, they were not overly sympathetic. Within a few years, during the “satraps' revolt,” they leagued up with the Egyptians against the Persians. From about 368 to 360 bce the satraps' revolt nearly destroyed the Persian Empire altogether (cf. Dandamaev 1989:301_305; also Briant 2002:656_663). It is impossible to determine to what degree Syria, i.e. Beyond the River, was actively engaged in the strife. Most of the rebel satraps governed districts in Asia Minor, but the Syrians and the Phoenicians also took part (Diod. Sic. 15.90.3).

Dynasty XXX. The XXIXth Dynasty was marked by considerable inner dissension among the ruling family, which led to its displacement by a new ruling family based at Sebennytus (Traunecker 1979; Lloyd 1994:340). Tachos (Teos) became king of Egypt (362 bce) and mobilized a great army including ten thousand Greek mercenaries (361 bce; cf. Diod. Sic. 15.90.2; 15.92.3). His ground troops were commanded by the Spartan general Agesilaüs and his naval forces were led by an Athenian admiral, Chabrias. In collaboration with the rebel satraps, he executed an invasion of the province Beyond the River and gained control of the major seaports of Palestine and Phoenicia. He was supposed to join another satrap, Aroandas, in Syria and march eastward in support of Datames who was crossing the Euphrates with an advanced guard. Ochus, a younger son of Artaxerxes, was struggling to maintain control of Phoenicia in the face of the Egyptian attack, but the Greek mercenaries were steadily gaining ground against him. However, Tachos' nephew, Nectanebos, rebelled against his uncle and this forced Tachos to surrender himself to Ochus at Sidon. In turn, disturbances in Egypt caused Nectanebos to withdraw from Phoenicia (Diod. Sic. 15.92). Persian authority was gradually restored in the west as the rebel satraps were betrayed or captured, one by one.

Artaxerxes III (358_338 bce) and Arses (338_336 bce). Ochus, who was not the firstborn prince, man-aged to eliminate all his rivals (his older brother was executed for plotting against Artaxerxes II) and succeeded his father as Artaxerxes III (358 bce). During the next several years he was engaged in quelling various disturbances throughout the empire, especially in Asia Mi-nor. By 351 bce he had gained firm control over his western provinces, including Phoenicia, and was in position to launch a new invasion of Egypt.

The satrap of Syria at this time was another Belesys (B®lshunu), possibly a grandson of the one who had governed the province in the late fifth century bce (Diod. Sic. 16.42.1). The province Beyond the River reached as far as Cilicia in the north and included Phoenicia and north Syria as far as the Euphrates. The satrapy evidently had remained unchanged in geographical extent.

Artaxerxes III had no more luck in Egypt than did his predecessors. He too was forced to retire after a year of hard fighting (Diod. Sic. 16.40.3, 44.1, 48.1). This failure (c. 351_350 bce) sparked an extensive revolt by the Phoenician cities, the so-called Tennes Rebellion, after the name of the king of Sidon (Te/nnith). The Phoenician representatives assembled at Tripolis and voted to throw off the Persian yoke. A large fleet of warships and a mighty mercenary army was financed by the vast wealth of Sidon. The Phoenicians were followed by nine Cypriot kings and parts of Cilicia also joined in the revolt (Diod. Sic. 16.41). Belesys, the satrap of Beyond the River, had the job of quelling the rebellion. Accompanied by Mazaios, satrap of Cilicia, he made an unsuccessful assault on Phoenicia (Diod. Sic. 16.42.1). The exact date of this attempt cannot be determined.

Artaxerxes saw that his two satraps were ineffective so he decided to intervene personally. At the beginning of 345 bce he assembled a huge force at Babylon and marched against Sidon. The populace had made preparations for an extended siege but they were betrayed to the Persians by Tennes their king (Diod. Sic. 16.43). They set fire to their ships and to their homes in order to escape capture. Artaxerxes sold the ruins to speculators, who paid a handsome price for the right to search for melted gold and silver (Diod. Sic. 16.43_45). It is a difficult question as to how widespread was the destruction wrought at archaeological sites of the Persian period in the inner southern Levant as a result of the Tennes Rebellion (Stern 1982:255; 1984b:114; cf. Barag 1966). There were too many different possibilities based on the various invasions and rebellions that took place in the fourth century bce (cf. Rainey 1989b:12_15).

Belesys disappeared from the scene; nothing is known about what happened to him. Mazaios, though retaining his satrapy in Cilicia, was also given charge of Beyond the River. Many of his known coins are of Phoenician, particularly Sidonian, style and are numbered from 16 to 21, representing the last five years of Ochus' reign (345_339 bce). Another series of Mazaios' coins confirms his rule over Cilicia and Syria; they are inscribed: “Mazdai who is over Beyond the River and Cilicia” (Leuze 1935:386 [230]).

Artaxerxes III finally did conquer Egypt (343 bce) and so strengthened his position in the West that even the Cypriot kings had to fall back into line (Diod. Sic. 16.46_51; Dandamaev 1989:310_311). The punishment of Egypt was severe and seems to have included extensive damage to temples and other religious institutions. But Artaxerxes himself was assassinated in 338 bce and followed by Arses; this brought an end to all hopes of a great Persian revival. Egypt apparently took advantage of the situation and revolted (c. 337 bce). This interim period may correspond to the short reign of a certain Khabbabash, a ruler attested by a few inscriptions (Bresciani 1965:328_329), especially an Apis sarcophagus dated to his second year, in Egypt (Lloyd 1994:44: Kienitz 1953:185_189; Gardiner 1961:380; also Briant 2002:1018).

Darius III (336_330 bce). Arses was murdered in 336 bce and replaced by Darius III. This latter set about energetically to recoup the losses sustained since Ochus' demise and by 334 bce he had even regained control over Egypt.

Mazaios seems to have maintained his position as satrap of Beyond the River throughout these final years. He has a series of Sidonian coins numbered 1 through 4. It is suggested (Leuze 1935:392_393 [26_237]) that they date to the three years of Arses' reign (338_336 bce) and the first four years of Darius III (336_333 bce). But others have questioned whether he still held sway over Cilicia. Certain sources (Curt. 3.4.3; Arr. Anab. 2.4.5) refer to a certain Arsames who evidently led the Persian forces at Tarsus in 333 bce. Arrian's account of the Persian commanders at Granicus (1, 12:8; 334 bce) and at Issos (11, 11:8; 333 bce) includes an Arsames who was a leading cavalry officer. He died at the battle of Issos. This is probably the same person who was in charge of Tarsus. Diodorus (Diod. Sic. 17.19.4) refers to an Arsamenes, a satrap, at the battle of Granicus; he had his own cavalry. If this is really a variant spelling of Arsames, then the allusion may be explained in one of two ways. Either the term satrap means something less here than ruler of a full province, or else there has been a transposition of names by which Arsamenes has displaced the next officer, Arsites, in this passage (Leuze 193:405 [249]). It is probable that Mazaios was still governor of both Cilicia and Syria but that Arsames was his deputy in the northern province. Mazaios does not appear at any stage in the Macedonian conquest of Cilicia, Phoenicia or the rest of Syria. Nevertheless, he was a field commander at the battle of Gaugamela (331 bce). After the Persian defeat he withdrew to Babylon with a remnant of his forces and finally surrendered the city to Alexander (330 bce). He was rewarded with the governorship of Babylonia, which he ruled until his death in 328 bce.

In the meantime, Alexander had marched southward from Issos and received the surrender of the Phoenician cities of Arwad (Arados), Byblos and Sidon. The province evidently maintained its identity until it was divided between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies. Henceforth, the history of the Levant in its role as a land bridge continues in the rivalry between the Hellenistic kingdoms and later in its function during the age of the Roman Empire.

Governors of Babylonia and Beyond the River

Gubaru/Gobryas 535_525 bce

Ushtannu/Hystanes 521_516 bce

Ùuta[--] son of Pagakanna 486 bce

Governors of Beyond the River

Tattenai/Tattennu c. 518_502 bce

Megabyzus 456_c. 445 bce

B®lshunu/Belesys I 407_401 bce

Abrokomas 401_c. 383 bce

B®lshunu/Belesys II 369_c. 345 bce

Mazaios 343_332 bce

Excursus 16.1


In Aramaic the district of Judah over which Nehemiah was appointed governor was called Y‹hû∂ (יְהוּד). The actual territory included in the official district or province (מְדִינֲתָּא) was seriously diminished from the pre-exilic Judean state, e.g. the southern Judean hill country had become detached. The southern boundary of Yehud passed between Beth-zur and Hebron (which had become predominantly Edomite). On the other hand, the northern boundary seems to have corresponded to the pre-exilic line north of Mizpah and Bethel; Jericho was included on the east. To the west the province included at least part of the Shephelah, as far as Keilah. The finding of stamped jar handles corresponding to some found at Ramat Ra˙el moves the western limits into the inner coastal plain.

Lod, Hadid and Ono in the northern Shephelah of Lod appear in the list of returnees (Ezra 2:33; Neh 7:37), but at least from the mid-fifth century bce that area of the Joppa hinterland (the Plain of Ono) must have been under Sidonian control. People recognized by Nehemiah as Jews were living in various Negeb settlements as well, probably some of those who were not deported by the Babylonians. However, these Negeb settlements were obviously not reckoned as part of the Judean province. Neither were some of the towns in the southern Shephelah. Concerning the limits of the Jewish population in the Persian period, it is also possible to derive some information from the diffusion of storage jars bearing seal impressions inscribed “Yehud” (with some variations in orthography) and “Jerusalem.” In the main these impressions have been discovered at Jerusalem, Ramat Ra˙el, Bethany, Jericho, En-gedi, Mizpah, Azekah and Gezer. From the cuneiform tablets discovered at Gezer, it would appear that in the seventh century bce there was an immigrant population from Assyria. Recently, more such texts have been discovered at Hadid. In the Persian period Gezer may have reverted to Judea. At least many returnees settled in the Shephelah of Lod, i.e. the Plain of Ono.

A certain number of the Judean settlements in this period are known to us from the roster of “the people of the province who came up out of the captivity” (Ezra 2:1_35; Neh 7:6_38). A list of the returnees has been preserved (Ezra 2:1_64 || Neh 7:6_38); in addition to the many family and clan affiliations, it also includes a number of towns (Galling 1951, 1964a):

Bethlehem (בֵּית לָחֶם; Ezra 2:21; Neh 7:26), Netophah (נְטֹפָה; Ezra 2:22; Neh 7:26), Anathoth (עֲנָתוֹת; Ezra 2:23; Neh 7:27), [Beth-]Azmaveth (בֵּית] עַזְמָוֶת]; Ezra 2:24; Neh 7:28), Kiriath-<ye>arim (LXX Kariaqiarim = קִרְיַת <יְ>עָרִים; Ezra 2:25; Neh 7:29), Chephirah (כְּפִירָה; Ezra 2:25; Neh 7:29) and Beeroth (בְּאֵרוֹת; Ezra 2:25; Neh 7:29), Ramah (הָרָמָה; Ezra 2:26; Neh 7:30) and Geba (גֶּבַע; Ezra 2:26; Neh 7:30), Michmas (מִכְמָס; Ezra 2:27; Neh 7:31), Bethel (בֵּית אֵל; Ezra 2:28; Neh 7:32) and Ai (הָעָי; Ezra 2:28; Neh 7:32), Nob! (read נוֹב instead of נְבוֹ; Ezra 2:29; Neh 7:33), Magbish (מַגְבִּישׁ; Ezra 2:30; not in Neh!), another Elam (עֵילָם אַחֵר; Ezra 2:31; Neh 7:34), Harim (חָרִם; Ezra 2:32; Neh 7:35), Lod (לֹד; Ezra 2:33; Neh 7:37), Hadid (חָדִיד; Ezra 2:33; Neh 7:37) and Ono (אוֹנוֹ; Ezra 2:33; Neh 7:37), Jericho (יְרֵחוֹ; Ezra 2:34; Neh 7:36), Senaah (סְנָאָה; Ezra 2:35; Neh 7:38).

The majority are in the former Benjaminite region north of Jerusalem: Nob (instead of Nebo), Anathoth, (Beth-)azmaveth, Ramah, Geba, Michmas, Ai (apparently Aiath-Aijah; Khirbet Óaiyan), Bethel and the four Gibeonite towns: Gibeon, Chephirah, Kiriath-jearim and Beeroth. South of Jerusalem only two towns are mentioned, Bethlehem and Netophah, and on the east, Jericho. The Shephelah of Lod is represented by Lod, Hadid and Ono.

The settlements can be further filled in by the place names that appear on the roster of those who participated in building the walls of Jerusalem (Neh 3:1_32): Mizpah in the north; Beth-haccerem, Beth-zur and Tekoa in the south; Zanoah and Keilah on the west. Only two settlements also appear in the record of returnees, viz. Gibeon and Jericho. Besides Jerusalem itself four towns are referred to as furnishing full contingents of workers, viz. Mizpah, Beth-haccerem, Beth-zur and Keilah. This might suggest that the list of builders was made up according to the administrative centers. Some of these places seem to reflect towns that had survived the Babylonian destruction; Mizpah is the most significant since it had already been the headquarters of the local governor under the Neo-Babylonians, e.g. Gedaliah.

The list of those who rebuilt the city's defenses mentions specific communities (Neh 3:1_32). Certain men in this roster bore the title “officer of (half) the work battalion (pelekh) of PN.” The distribution of these towns may be compared to that of the official “Yehud” seal impressions, found on jar handles from Mizpah in the north, Jericho in the east, En-gedi in the south, and Gezer in the west. Using the size of the work battalions as a key (pelekh and half-pelekh) it might be possible to reconstruct something of a local organization within Yehud (Aharoni 1979:418_419; cf. also Demsky 1983).

Districts Sub-districts

Keilah (1) Zanoah, (2) Keilah

Beth-zur (3) Beth-zur, (4) Tekoa

Beth-haccerem (5) Beth-haccerem

Jerusalem (6) Jerusalem, (7) Gibeon

Mizpah (8) Mizpah, (9) Jericho

Therefore, the Jewish communities in the Persian period can be classified geographically into two categories, those within the province of Yehud, and those living outside it (Neh 4:12 [HMT 4:6]). Ezra was sent to enforce the Torah as the binding code (= dâtœ’) for all the Jews in the province of Beyond the River (Ezra 7:25_26), not just in Yehud. The Jerusalem leaders were strict about who should participate in building the temple (Ezra 4:1_3) but Nehemiah recognized settlements in Kiriath-arba (Hebron), the Negeb, the Shephelah, and the Plain of Ono (Neh 11:25_36). In the list of returnees (Ezra 2:1_34; Neh 7:6_38) many towns are recorded, some of which can hardly have been in Yehud. Society was comprised of three groups: Israel, Priests and Levites (Ezra 9:1; 1 Chr 9:1_16) and the Nethinim (Ezra 2:43, 2:58, 2:70, 7:7, 8:17, 8:20 [2x]; Neh 3:26, 3:31, 7:46, 7:60, 7:73, 10:29 [Eng. 10:28], 11:3, 11:21 [2x]; 1 Chr 9:2; cf. Levine 1963, 1973).

After Nehemiah (Neh 5:14; c. 445-425 bce), the names of several subsequent governors in charge of Yehud during the fifth and fourth centuries bce are known. Even though they do not all have Hebrew names, there is no reason to doubt that they were Jewish, though the connection with the Davidic family was broken.

The Elephantine Papyri (Porten 1968) contain references to a Judean governor named Bagohi who, because of his typical Persian name (Bagoas in Greek sources), was usually thought to be a Persian. However, among the returnees from exile there was a family named Bigvai (containing the same Iranian element, baga meaning “god”; Ezra 2:2; Neh 7:7, passim), and the fact that the Bagohi of the Elephantine correspondence is involved in the problems of the Jewish garrison at Yeb (Elephantine) makes it clear that he was surely Jewish (Tadmor 1994b:285).

The names of two additional governors are known from seal impressions discovered at Ramat Ra˙el (biblical Beth-haccerem), viz. Jehoezer (Yhw‘zr) and A˙zai (’˙zy), who bear the title of governor (p˙w’) (Aharoni 1962a:56_59; 1964a:21_22, 44_45). A Jehoezer seal has also been found at Tel Óarasim in the inner coastal plain, giving a new, westward limit for seal impressions from the Yehud province (Rainey 1999).

Another person, Hananiah, is called “the commander of the fortress” (Neh 7:2) and it has been suggested that he also appears in the Elephantine Papyri (Porten 1969:130, but also 279_280). It is interesting to note that seal impressions from a person of this name have been found at Tel Óarasim (Rainey 1999) and also in Babylon (Naveh 1996:44_47)! In none of these instances is Hananiah called the “governor” (pe˙œh or p˙w’).

A coin, several examples of which were found at Beth-zur (Sellers 1933:73_74) and Tell Jemmeh (Tel Gamma; Rahmani 1971), bears the inscription, “Yehezkiah, the governor (hp˙h=happe˙˙œh) of Judah,” who is apparently the Ezekias, a high priest in the early Hellenistic period, mentioned by Josephus (Apion 1:187_189). Another high priest, named Yo-hanan, put his name on other coins of the fourth century bce (Barag 1985, 1986_87). From this it can be deduced that the high priesthood had enhanced its political status to the point where its incumbents could serve as governors of Yehud (Tadmor 1994b:286).

This would indicate that throughout the Persian period Judah remained an autonomous province, usually (and perhaps always) under Jewish governors, the earliest originally from the House of David and later from the priestly families. Later Achaemenid policy apparently precluded the encouragement of potential local dynasts (Tadmor 1994b:285_286; Aharoni 1979:414).

Excursus 16.2

Persian Period (c. 539_333 bce)

The Persian period, which witnesses the revival of settlement in the Land of Israel, both along the coast and inland, commences with the conquest of the entire Near East by the Persian Empire, the largest empire of ancient times. The period continues to witness the disappearance of the material culture of the southern Levant, and at the same time the increased appearance of Persian elements. The Persian influence on the material culture ranged from architecture to weaponry to coinage. Most architecture of the period is of the same form, whether public or private, revolving around the open court structure of well-known Assyrian tradition (cf. Stern 1982, 1984b).

Burials of the period include three primary types. The first (primarily sixth century bce) continues Iron Age traditions of burial caves with a single room lined by shelves. Most of the tributes found in the caves are made up of local pottery. As this type is unique to the region, it appears that it was used by the local population alone. The other two types, coffin (end of the sixth to fifth centuries bce) and shaft (fifth to fourth centuries bce) burials, are found throughout different parts of the Persian Empire. It appears that the southern Levant was the meeting point of these two types, as the shaft burials are mostly found in the west and contain western material culture (e.g. Greek and Phoenician coins), while the coffin burials are mostly found in the east and include eastern finds (e.g. Persian weaponry).

The pottery of the period is divided among three clay types: the first two are common along the coast, with the third being found in the hill country. Coastal forms seem to be coarse, with many additions, and are fired poorly. The forms found in the hills are of greater quality, with fine forms and superior firing. The hill-country pottery production continues local traditions. Imported pottery includes western vessels from eastern Greece, particularly Rhodes, Cyprus and Athens.

An abundance of figurines and stone statues have been discovered dating to the period, many times in repository pits. The stone statues are made according to Cypriot-Greek styles and date to the fifth to early fourth centuries bce. The clay figurines are influenced by all types (Egyptian, Persian, Greek, Phoenician, etc.) and are found throughout the period. The “Western” figurines date to the end of the sixth to fifth centuries bce, while the “Eastern” styles continue throughout the period.

The seals and seal impressions of the period include personal and administrative (from the provinces of Yehud and Samaria) forms. Actual seals that have been discovered are all private forms. While seals are used throughout the Persian period, their wide distribution begins at the end of the fifth century bce. Greek and Phoenician coins are found from the early parts of the period, while local coins, including Yhd and Philistine-Arabian and Philistine-Egyptian coins, date to the fourth century bce only. The period draws to a close with the conquest of Alexander the Great in 333 bce.