- Christogenea Saturdays
TruthVid's 100 Proofs that the Israelites were White, Part 10
Here we cover proof 31 of TruthVid's 100 Proofs that the Israelites were White. William Finck’s prepared notes are found below, most of which were borrowed or adapted from his commentary on the Book of Amos, presented here in early 2013:
(31) Assyrian Tablets and other inscriptions - a summary of the evidence
There have been many thousands of Mesopotamian inscriptions which have been discovered since the expansion of the British Empire helped to open the Near East to European archaeologists in the 19th century. While not all of them have even yet been deciphered, translations of thousands of such inscriptions have been made, and many volumes of those translations have been published. One significant source I have found for many of these is the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, from which I have downloaded hundreds of PDF books and translations of ancient inscriptions.
But for most people, it is impossible to read through hundreds of books, especially on a computer screen, and even I have read only a portion of what I have obtained there. However there is one book, first published in 1950 and in its 3rd edition in 1969, in which academic translations of many of the Assyrian, Hittite, Egyptian, Babylonian and other inscriptions from the Near East which should be of interest to students of Scripture have been reproduced. That is Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ANET), edited by James B. Pritchard and published by Princeton University Press, which is still available from certain sources on the Internet. We have a PDF copy of this book, but it contains OCR errors and therefore it is not entirely reliable.
So because they are of interest to students of Scripture, or at least, they should be, this book contains all of the significant inscriptions that had been discovered up to the time of its publication which mention the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities of ancient Israel and Judah. Many of these inscriptions confirm accounts which are given in the historical books of the Bible, and for the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, especially in the books we know as 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles.
But they also help corroborate many things we may read in early Greek histories. For example, I will read a paragraph from George Rawlinson’s translation of Herodotus, The Histories, 7.64, where he described the armies commanded by Xerxes : “The Sacae, or Scyths, were clad in trousers, and had on their heads tall stiff caps rising to a point. They bore the bow of their country and the dagger; besides which they carried the battle-axe, or sagaris. They were in truth Amyrgian Scythians, but the Persians called them Sacae, since that is the name which they give to all Scythians.” This name Sacae, or Sakans, many of the Scythians had maintained as they migrated into Europe, and some were later known as Saxons.
Now, from page 316 of ANET, in a translation of an inscription of Xerxes, the Persian king who had invaded Greece and was defeated about 480 AD, where he boasted of the countries and tribes over which he ruled: “Thus speaks king Xerxes: These are the countries – in addition to Persia – over which I am king under the ‘shadow’ of Ahuramazda, over which I hold sway, which are bringing their tribute to me – whatever is commanded them by me, that they do and they abide by my law(s) –: Media, Elam, Arachosia, Urartu (Pers. version: Armenia), Drangiana, Parthia, (H)aria, Bactria, Sogdia, Chorasmia, Babylonia, Assyria, Sattagydia, Sardis, Egypt (Mi-fir), the Ionians who live on the salty sea and (those) who live beyond (lit : on the other shore of) the salty sea, Маkа, Arabia, Gandara, India, Cappadocia, Da’an, the Amyrgian Cimmerians (Pers. and Elam. versions: Sakans), the Cimmerians (wearing) pointed caps, the Skudra, the Akupish, Libya, Banneshu (Carians) (and) Kush.”
Here we see that Herodotus’ description of the Scythians, and the identity of the people whom the Greeks called Scythians with the people whom the Assyrians called Kimmerians, is all corroborated in Assyrian inscriptions, as well as the assertion that the Kimmerians originated in the Near East. Just a few hundred years later, they were waging war against the Romans in modern Germany, where they had ultimately settled.
Here it may be argued that the Assyrian word Kimmerian is from Gimiri, or Gimirri, and not from Khumri. In answer to that, I wrote the following note in a 2015 podcast, where Bertrand Comparet has asserted that Gimirri means the tribes: “This was E. Raymond Capt's position, however I have not yet been able to establish that Gimiri simply means ‘the tribes’. Others had made that assertion before Capt did. However checking the Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute compiled at the University of Chicago, it can be verified that the letters g and k were often interchanged in Assyrian, and Gimiri could easily have been a permutation of Khumri. We would argue, in any event, that the true source of the Greek word Kimmeroi was actually Khumri, the Assyrian form of Omri. Sir Henry Rawlinson [is often said to have] made the connection of the Gimiri to the Khumri, and many academic historians have followed.”
The inscription from ANET explains that in the Persian and Elamite versions, the Kimmerians are called Sakans, or Saka. It also seems that all of the Assyrian references to Gimiri are from the time of Esar-Haddon and Ashurbanipal, which is from 680 BC and later, where the references to Khumri end with the time of Sargon II, about 720 BC. The Gimiri appear in those same inscriptions in the places in which the Khumri, or Israelites, were settled by the Assyrians, and these are the Scythians with whom the Persians had fought under their king Cyrus in the second half of the 6th century BC. Flavius Josephus attests that in his time, they are the ten tribes who were an innumerable multitude beyond the Euphrates River. The only such multitude beyond the Euphrates at this time, and through the centuries leading up to the time of Josephus, were proto-Germanic Scythians.
Some Biblical history which is corroborated in Assyrian inscriptions:
Before we begin this discussion, it must be noted that the perspective on events by one nation are always going to differ where they are also recorded by other nations, and especially by opposing nations.
There was a Syrian king of Damascus, Benhadad the son of Hazael, who is known from 2 Kings chapters 8 through 12. An inscription bearing the name of Benhadad of Damascus was found in an ancient cemetery near Aleppo in northern Syria, which was dedicated “to his lord Melqart”, a Syrian idol (ANET, p. 655). However Hazael and Benhadad are also mentioned in other inscriptions.
The Assyrian king Shalmaneser mentioned in 2 Kings chapters 17 and 18 is known to archaeologists as Shalmaneser V, and he ruled in Assyria near the middle of the 8th century BC. Usually, the Bible does not tell us much of what is happening outside of its own immediate concern, which is the events surrounding the Israelite capital cities of Samaria and Jerusalem. But by the middle of the 9th century BC, the time of Elijah, the Assyrians are already making conquests of the cities of the Syrians, Hittites and others to the north of Israel, and they had placed Hamath, Damascus, Byblos, Sidon and Tyre under tribute. All of these things are known from ancient Assyrian inscriptions. From a basalt statute from the reign of Salmanassar III, who presumably ruled from 854-828 BC – which is consistent with the time of the rule of Ahab provided above, and the anointing of Hazael as king of Damascus in the days of Elijah, we have the following:
“I defeated Hadadezer of Damascus together with twelve princes, his allies. I stretched upon the ground 20,900 of his strong warriors like šu-bi [the meaning is unknown], the remnants of his troops I pushed into the Orontes river and they dispersed to save their lives; Hadadezer (himself) perished. Hazael, a commoner (literally: son of a nobody), seized the throne, called up a numerous army and rose against me. I fought with him and defeated him, taking the chariots of his camp. He disappeared to save his life. I marched as far as Damascus, his royal residence [and cut down] his gardens.” (ANET, p. 280) So the Scriptures state that the prophet Elijah was commissioned by Yahweh to anoint Hazael to be king of Damascus, yet from the Assyrian perspective, Hazael had only usurped the throne.
Concerning the coasts of Phoenicia, Tyre and the other Phoenician cities such as Arvad, Sidon and Byblos were under tribute to Assyria as early as the time of Ashurnasirpal II, who ruled from 883 to 859 BC (ANET, p. 276). Shalmaneser III, who ruled from 858 to 824 BC, also put Tyre, Sidon and Byblos under tribute, which is witnessed in multiple inscriptions (ANET, pp. 280-281). Later, Adad-nirari III and Tiglath-pileser III also had Tyre and Sidon under tribute (ANET, pp. 281-282). Sennacherib, who ruled from 704 to 681 BC, also had Tyre (Ushu, the Assyrian name for the mainland part of Tyre) and Sidon under tribute.
Esar-Haddon, who ruled Assyria from 680 to 669 BC, was still moving alien peoples into the ancient land of Israel, and evidently also removing Israelites (see Isaiah 7:8 and Ezra 4:2). The king of Tyre made a treaty with him, and was also rewarded rule over Philistia (ANET, p. 533). This treaty was broken in the reign of Esar-Haddon’s successor Ashurbanipal, who ruled Assyria from 668 to 633 BC. Ashurbanipal was the last significant Assyrian ruler. Here (from ANET, p. 295) is part of the text from an inscription of that king: “In my third campaign I marched against Ba'il, king of Tyre, who lives (on an island) amidst the sea, because he did not heed my royal order, did not listen to my personal (literally: of my lips) commands. I surrounded him with redoubts, seized his communications (literally: roads) on sea and land. I (thus) intercepted (literally: strangled) and made scarce their food supply and forced them to submit to my yoke. He brought his own daughter and the daughters of his brothers before me to do menial services. At the same time, he brought his son Iahimilki who had not (yet) crossed the sea to greet me as (my) slave. I received from him his daughter and the daughters of his brothers with their great dowries. I had mercy upon him and returned to him the son, the offspring of his loins. Iakinlu, king of Arvad, living (also) on an island who had not submitted to (any of) the kings of my family, did (now) submit to my yoke and brought his daughter with a great dowry to Nineveh to do menial services, and he kissed my feet.”
It is evident in many ancient inscriptions that while Israel and Judah were divided after the days of Solomon, over the subsequent centuries other fractures of Israel had taken place. Gaza and Lachish had broken off and asserted their independence, Tyre and Sidon along with much of Phoenicia had become completely independent, and Israel was actually split into several pieces, while the Biblical narrative focuses only on Samaria. But the inscriptions give us glimpses, and even more elaborate descriptions, of the larger political picture.
Another important inscription which verifies Biblical history is the Moabite Stone. This stone contains an inscription by Mesha, king of Moab in the time of Ahab and Jezebel (2 Kings chapter 3). It was discovered intact in 1868 and taken to the Louvre in Paris, France. The following text is from ANET, pp. 320-321, from the first two paragraphs of the inscription:
I (am) Mesha, son of Chemosh - [ ... ], king of Moab, the Dibonite - my father (had) reigned over Moab thirty years, and I reigned after my father, - (who) made this high place for Chemosh in Qarhoh [ ... ] because he saved me from all the kings and caused me to triumph over all my adversaries. As for Omri, king of Israel, he humbled Moab many years (lit., days), for Chemosh was angry at his land. And his son followed him and he also said, "I will humble Moab." In my time he spoke (thus), but I have triumphed over him and over his house, while Israel hath perished for ever! (Now) Omri had occupied the land of Medeba, and (Israel) had dwelt there in his time and half the time of his son (Ahab), forty years; but Chemosh dwelt there in my time.
And I built Baal-meon, making a reservoir in it, and I built Qaryaten. Now the men of Gad had always dwelt in the land of Ataroth, and the king of Israel had built Ataroth for them; but I fought against the town and took it and slew all the people of the town as satiation (intoxication) for Chemosh and Moab. And I brought back from there Arel (or Oriel), its chieftain, dragging him before Chemosh in Kerioth, and I settled there men of Sharon and men of Maharith. And Chemosh said to me, "Go, take Nebo from Israel!" So I went by night and fought against it from the break of dawn until noon, taking it and slaying all, seven thousand men, boys, women, girls and maid-servants, for I had devoted them to destruction for (the god) Ashtar-Chemosh. And I took from there the [ ... ] of Yahweh, dragging them before Chemosh. And the king of Israel had built Jahaz, and he dwelt there while he was fighting against me, but Chemosh drove him out before me. And I took from Moab two hundred men, all first class (warriors), and set them against Jahaz and took it in order to attach it to (the district of) Dibon….
The Moabites had been subjected to Israel by King David, as it is related in 2 Samuel chapter 8. In the time of King Ahab, in the period of the divided kingdom, Moab was subject to Israel. It is reported in 2 Kings chapter 1 that Moab revolted after the death of Ahab, however there it only says “Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab.” The Moabite Stone obviously tells us the extent of that revolt, from the Moabite point of view. Later, Moab was listed as being tributary to the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III, who ruled from 744 to 727 BC., and again to Sargon II, who ruled from 721 to 705 BC (ANET, pp. 282, 287). It was still a tributary in the reign of Esar-Haddon, from 680 to 669 BC , and of Ashurbanipal, from 668 to 633 BC (ANET, pp. 291, 294, 298).
The next significant events we should discuss here are the interactions between Ahab and the Assyrians, and then the Assyrian records of the conquest of Samaria. In the earlier Assyrian inscriptions, because the tribe of the Amorites had dominated the region which lay in between Assyria and Palestine, the Assyrians simply referred to the people of the west and of Palestine as Amurru, their word for the Amorites. But once the Assyrians began their own political expansion into the area, then they also began to identify the tribes of the people who dwelt in Palestine more precisely.
All of these people were called Syrians by the Greeks, and at least three times in his histories, Herodotus had referred to the people of Judah, the Judaeans, as the “Syrians of Palestine”. Now this is a point I had wanted to save for later, but in Cappadocia, which is in Anatolia but now modern eastern Turkey, there were a people referred to by the Greeks as “White Syrians”, and Strabo the Geographer (Strabo of Cappadocia), writing before 25 AD, wondered at that, saying “as if there were any black ones”, by which saying he had attested that there were no black Syrians. In other words, all of these people were White, and if there were no black Syrians, as Strabo attested, then there were no black Israelites, as the early Greeks also referred to them as Syrians.
In the later Assyrian inscriptions, those of the era of the Assyrian invasions of Palestine, one can see that the “land of Amurru” is greatly reduced from its former size, which certainly establishes the Biblical assertions that the Israelites had displaced the Amorites and others of the Canaanite tribes which had once inhabited the land. The Amurru and their land is mentioned in an inscription of Tiglath-pileser I, who presumably ruled Assyria from 1114 to 1076 BC, a time not long before that of Saul and David, where the exact extent of what he considered the “country of Amurru” to be is unclear, however it is described as having bordered the Mediterranean Sea (ANET, p. 275). In an inscription of Ashurnasirpal, who ruled from 883 to 859 BC, the Amurru are mentioned in a list of tributaries which included Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, Arvad, and other cities which are therefore distinguished from those of the Amorites (ANET, p. 276).
Therefore the Biblical assertion that the children of Israel displaced the Amorites and other tribes of the Canaanites certainly seems to be accurate, even if Assyrian and Egyptian inscriptions concerning the “land of Amurru” dating from the second millennium BC do not distinguish the Amorites who were originally the principal tribe of the land from the Hebrew Israelites who later occupied much of the same land. The Amarna Letters do describe some of the Hebrew invasions of the Levant in the 14th century BC.
The first mention of an Israelite in the Assyrian inscriptions seems to be that of King Ahab, “Ahab the Israelite”, in an inscription of Shalmaneser III, who presumably ruled Assyria from 858 to 824 BC. Ahab was said to have provided ten thousand foot soldiers to a coalition army from mostly Syrian cities which fought against the Assyrians (ANET, p. 279). The account is not in our Scriptures. The earliest concern over the expansion of Assyria which is recorded in Scripture seems to be that of the prophet Jonah, whose ministry was no later than the early years of Jeroboam II, who was the king of Israel from perhaps 793 to 752 BC. This dating of Jonah is established at 2 Kings 14:25, where it says of Jeroboam II that “25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.” Solomon was said to have first taken Hamath, and to have built cities in it, in 2 Chronicles 8:3-4. Hamath is nearly 120 miles north of Damascus. For the same coalition to which Ahab had contributed soldiers, the Assyrian inscriptions say that the city of Hamath had also contributed ten thousand soldiers. So there is clearly a struggle between Israel and Assyria for control of the areas to the north of Palestine, which we can determine from both the Bible and the Assyrian inscriptions.
In the Assyrian inscriptions which follow that time, the name Israel is always Hu-um-ri, or Humria, which should be pronounced in our tongue as Khumri. That the H is actually a Kh is evident in many Assyrian place names. Elsewhere in the Assyrian inscriptions we see Hilakku for Kilikia (i.e. ANET, p. 284), or as the Biblical Habor river is in modern times spelled Khabur.
From another, much later inscription of Shalmaneser III, we see “The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri (Hu-um-ri); I received from him silver, gold, a golden saplu-bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin, a staff for a king, (and) wooden puruhtu” (ANET, p. 281). The Bible does not mention this tribute which Jehu had made to the Assyrians. The same inscription states that Tyre and Sidon were also under tribute to Assyria at this time, during which Assyria was frequently at war with the kings of the various cities of Syria.
In an inscription of Adad-nirari III, who presumably ruled Assyria from 810 to 783 BC, Israel is listed among the states which became tributary to Assyria upon an expedition of this king to Palestine. Here is part of a longer list of tributaries provided in the inscription: “...from the banks of the Euphrates, the country of the Hittites, Amurru-country in it full extent, Tyre, Sidon, Israel (Hu-um-ri), Edom, Palestine (Pa-la-as-tu), as far as the shore of the Great Sea of the Setting Sun, I made them all submit to my feet, imposing upon them tribute” (ANET, p. 281) Neither is this tribute mentioned in our Scriptures, which was probably in the reigns of either Jehoash, or early in that of Jeroboam II. In the time of Jehoahaz, who preceded this Jehoash as king of Israel, it is said in Scripture that Israel was oppressed by the Syrians for his entire reign (2 Kings 13). But Damascus was also taken by Adad-nirari III in this same campaign.
Tiglath-pileser III is mentioned in 2 Kings chapters 15 and 16. He ruled Assyria from 744 to 727 BC. From an inscription of this king which was translated by D. D. Luckenbill we read: “...the towns of the Upper Sea, I brought under my rule. Six officers of mine I installed as governors over them. [ … the town of R]ashpuna which is (situated) at the coast of the Upper Sea, [the towns …]nite, Gal'za, Abilakka which are adjacent to Israel (Bît Hu-um-ri-a) [and the] wide (land of) [Naphta]li, in its entire extent, I united with Assyria. Officers of mine I installed as governors upon them.” (ANET, p. 283) Now this inscription is fragmented, and the word Naphtali is assumed because only the end of the word is legible in the inscription. However it may be the only viable reading which fits the context. In any event, this inscription corresponds with and corroborates 2 Kings 15:29.
What we have just witnessed from Assyrian inscriptions, is that the Assyrian king Adad-nirari III, who ruled from 810 to 783 BC, went on a long military campaign with a great army and subjected under tribute Syria and Israel and all the nations of the Levant. Then over 40 years later, Tiglath-pileser III once again gathered a large army and went out and conquered these same places. We are not told in the surviving inscriptions exactly why they had to be re-subjected to the Assyrians, but it is obvious that such is what had occurred. However we do have that answer in our Bibles. For roughly corresponding with the 40-plus years between these two Assyrian kings is the reign of Jeroboam II, king of Israel.
Jeroboam II regained all of these lands from the Assyrians and placed them back under the control of Israel. That is why Tiglath-pileser III had to launch a new campaign and regain Assyrian dominion after Jeroboam had died! Here is the Biblical account, from 2 Kings 14:23-29: “23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years. 24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. 25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher. 26 For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel. 27 And the LORD said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash. 28 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 29 And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead.”
Damascus and Hamath, cities known to the Greeks as Syrian cities, had belonged to Israel from the time of King David and for 200 years up to their first Assyrian conquest. Adad-nirari III conquered the land under a wicked Israelite king of Judah, and then Jeroboam II ascended and recovered it for Israel. A few decades later Tiglath-pileser III launched a new campaign and gained it back for Assyria. Here is the struggle for what was then basically the center of what we may call Western Civilization. The Bible is a history book, even though it is recorded from what may be termed a religious perspective, and there is no doubt about it once it is studied from the proper historical perspective.
So putting the world in perspective, while all of this is transpiring, the Ionians were conquering the Phoenician cities of western Anatolia, and gained hegemony over Miletus and the rest of Caria. Rome, the so-called “eternal city”, is not even on the maps. The traditional founding of Rome is 753 BC, so the city is just now being founded. Where did the Romans come from? They came from Troy, from the east, according to all of their own legends and those of the Greeks. The Trojans in turn were said to have come from the Mediterranean isles. All of Italy was settled from the east, by Minoans, Lydians, Trojans, and Greeks. After Rome was founded, according to Livy, they sent men to Athens to study the laws of Solon, which formed the basis of the first Roman laws. Carthage, according to the reckoning of Josephus from the now-lost chronicles of ancient Tyre, is only about a hundred years old at this time, having been founded about 850 BC. Where did the Carthaginians come from? They came from Tyre, from the east, according to all of the histories of the Levant and of the Greeks. At this time the coasts of Spain and the isles of Britain were known only as Phoenician outposts. The Phocians, who were Ionian Greeks, had not yet founded Marseilles. In 750 BC, the earliest surviving Greek poets had not even begun to write, yet by the time of Herodotus, three hundred years later, Athens would begin to represent the new center of Western Civilization. The Ionians of Athens, at one time under tribute to the Persians (according to the boast of Xerxes cited here earlier) did not give rise to the Classical period of the Greeks until after the Persian wars, during the time that Pericles led the rebuilding of the city from around 460 AD.
Continuing from the same inscription of Tiglath-pileser III: “As to Hanno of Gaza (Ha-a-nu-ú-nu Ha-az-za-at-a-a) who had fled before my army and run away to Egypt, [I conquered] the town of Gaza, … his personal property, his images … [and I placed (?)] (the images of) my [ … gods] and my royal image in his own palace … and declared (them) to be (thenceforward) the gods of their country. I imposed upon th[em tribute]. [As for Menahem I ov]erwhelmed him [like a snowstorm] and he … fled like a bird, alone, [and bowed to my feet (?)]. I returned him to his place [and imposed tribute upon him, to wit:] gold, silver, linen, garments with multicolored trimmings, … great … [I re]eived from him. Israel (literally: “Omri-land” Bît Humria) … all its inhabitants (and) their possessions I led to Assyria. They overthrew their king Pekah (Pa-qa-ha) and I placed Hoshea (A-ú-si-”) as king over them. I received from them 10 talents of gold, 1000(?) talents of silver as their [tri]bute and brought them to Assyria.” (ANET, pp. 283-284)
Here in the annals of Tiglath-pileser III we witness the beginnings of the deportations of the Israelites to the cities of Assyria. The information in this ancient Assyrian inscription concerning Gal'za, Abilakka, and Naphtali, the beginnings of the deportations of the Israelites, and the events surrounding the kings Pekah and Hoshea, is very much in agreement with the account from 2 Kings 15:29-30, albeit from a somewhat different point of view: “29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria. 30 And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.”
Note that this Assyrian inscription also details the custom of an imperial power imposing its own gods on the subjected people which is evident here in this inscription. It is practically the same custom which imperial Rome had later followed, in placing the images of their emperor in the temples of subject peoples, and expecting those peoples to sacrifice to those images. It is the same custom which the medieval Catholic Church began, and which the Protestant churches have continued, in forcing their own corrupted forms of Christianity onto the world's alien peoples. Today, American imperialism also imposes its own gods on the alien peoples of the world. Therefore they all wear Levi's, eat McDonald's, and enforce laws forbidding anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Now they can even believe that they were Israelites, Egyptians, Assyrians and Greeks.
From an inscription of Sargon II, who ruled Assyria from 721 to 705 BC: “(Property of Sargon, etc., king of Assyria, etc.) conqueror of Samaria (Sa-mir-i-na) and of the entire (country of) Israel (Bît-Hu-um-ri-a) who despoiled Ashdod (and) Shinuhti, who caught the Greeks who (live on islands) in the sea, like fish, who exterminated Kasku, all Tabali and Cilicia (Hilakku), who chased away Midas (Mi-ta-a) king of Musku, who defeated Musur (Mu-şu-ri) in Rapihu, who declared Hanno, king of Gaza, as booty, who subdued the seven kings of the country Ia', a district in Cyprus (Ia-ad-na-na), (who) dwell (on an island) in the sea, at (a distance of) a seven-day journey.” (ANET, p. 284) Here we see Assyria not only once again conquering the Levant, but also extending its reach far into Anatolia. This Midas is not the famous Midas of Greek legend, who was about a hundred years later and the king of Phrygia. Rather, the name seems to have been popular in Anatolia. However the Tabali and Musku can certainly be associated with the Japhethite Tubal and Meshech of Scripture, of Genesis chapter 10 and Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, and they dwelt on the coasts of the Black Sea. Cilicia and Cyprus were at this time populated with Phoenicians.
From another quite fragmented inscription of Sargon II: “At the begi[nning of my royal rule, I … the town of the Sama]rians [I besieged, conquered] (2 lines destroyed) [for the god … who le]t me achieve (this) my triumph.... I led away as prisoners [27,290 inhabitants of it (and) [equipped] from among [them (soldiers to man)] 50 chariots for my royal corps. … [The town I] re[built] better than (it was) before and [settled] therein people from countries which [I] myself [had con]quered. I placed an officer of mine as governor over them and imposed upon them tribute as (is customary) for Assyrian citizens.” (ANET, p. 284)
From yet another inscription witnessing the same events: “I besieged and conquered Samaria (Sa-me-ri-na), led away as booty 27,290 inhabitants of it. I formed from among them a contingent of 50 chariots and made remaining (inhabitants) assume their (social) positions. I installed over them an officer of mine and imposed upon them the tribute of the former king....” (ANET, pp. 284-285)
The primary Biblical record of this event is found in 2 Kings 17:1-6: “1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years. 2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. 3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents. 4 And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. 5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” These later became the “innumerable multitude” of the ten tribes about which Josephus had spoken.
That the Assyrians brought in people from other places which they had conquered, and settled them in Samaria, as the inscription states, is attested to at 2 Kings 17:24: “And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.”
The account in 2 Kings 17 is recapitulated in part at 2 Kings 18:9-12: “ 9 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it. 10 And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11 And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes: 12 Because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them.”
In 2 Kings the Assyrian king who did these things is called Shalmaneser, while in the Assyrian inscriptions he is Sargon II. Apparently Shalmaneser V, who ruled until 722 BC, had initiated the siege of Samaria, but Sargon II ascended the throne during its progress, and completing it he took credit for it.
From another inscription of Sargon II, from the first year of his rule as King: “Iamani from Ashdod, afraid of my armed force (literally: weapons), left his wife and children and fled to the frontier of M[usru] which belongs to Meluhha (i.e., Ethiopia) and hid (literally: stayed) there like a thief. I installed an officer of mine as governor over his entire large country and its prosperous inhabitants, (thus) aggrandizing (again) the territory belonging to Asshur, the king of the gods. The terror(-inspiring) glamor of Ashur, my lord, overpowered (however) the king of Meluhha and he threw him (i.e. Iamani) in fetters on hands and feet, and sent him to me, to Assyria. I conquered and sacked the towns of Shinuhtu (and) Samaria, and all Israel (literally: “Omri-land” Bît-Hu-um-ri-ia). I caught, like a fish, the Greek (Ionians) who live (on islands) amidst the Western Sea.” Later in the rule of Sargon, the year after it was first taken and not recorded in the Bible, was another revolt at Samaria which was again put down forcibly by the Assyrians (ANET, p. 285).
From another inscription of Sargon II, from the fifth year of his rule as King of Assyria: “Upon a trust(-inspiring oracle given by) Ashur, I crushed the tribes of Tamud, Ibadidi, Marsimanu, and Haiapa, the Arabs who live, far away, in the desert (and) who know neither overseers nor official(s) and who had not (yet) brought their tribute to any king. I deported their survivors and settled (them) in Samaria.” (ANET, p. 286) It is no wonder that the Judahites who returned from Babylon would later despise the Samaritans. However the Scripture also demonstrates that a significant number of Israelites who managed to escape captivity remained in Samaria, and history attests that a significant number of the people brought into Samaria by the Assyrians were Adamic people from elsewhere in Mesopotamia and adjoining lands. Yet it is clear that there were also many Canaanites and other so-called Arabs, a word which at that time can designate people of mixed tribes regardless of their exact nature, or the word may have been used as a geographical designation as the Romans later used it - for the translator did not specify.
The Assyrian king Esar-haddon, who ruled from 680 to 669 BC, was also often occupied with seditions against the empire in Tyre, Sidon, and the lands of former Israel, and he was still importing aliens into Samaria, and therefore we see at Ezra 4:2 the following: “Then they [meaning certain of the Samaritans] came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.” Of course, the Judahites rejected the proposal and dealt with much political strife on account of it. This occurred in the time of Cambyses the king of Persia.
In one of the inscriptions cited earlier, Sargon II boasted of being the “conqueror of Samaria”. In one of his later inscriptions, he boasted of himself as “... the subduer of the country of Judah which is far away, the uprooter of Hamath, the ruler of which - Iau'bidi - he captured personally” (ANET, p. 287). The next king, a few short years later, was Sennacherib who conquered Judah, and the records insist that he had at least several hundred thousand troops with him when he besieged Jerusalem. Sargon must have considered it no small feat to be “subduer of Judah”, or “uprooter of Hamath”, or “conqueror of Samaria”, as we have seen him boast in his inscriptions cited here. These are large and powerful cities, as we have seen in the Assyrian inscriptions of Shalmaneser III, who ruled Assyria from 858 to 824 BC, that Ahab was able to lend 10,000 foot soldiers to a confederacy which fought against that king, and Hamath also lent 10,000 foot soldiers to that same cause. The Scripture did not even mention Ahab's loan of such a large army to such a cause, and therefore it could not have been considered a significant act. Likewise, Hamath, nearly 120 miles north of Damascus, was a vassal state to Israel for most of the history of Israel, which is evident in several places in Scripture. The tenor of the Assyrian inscriptions certainly helps to prove that Israel was every bit the great nation-state that the Bible purports it to have been. The narrative of the Assyrian inscriptions certainly helps to prove that the Bible is an important and historically accurate book.
While most all of the people of the tribes of ancient Israel were destroyed or taken captive by the Assyrians, Judah would suffer the same fate. In 2 Kings chapter 18, we have an account of the Assyrian captivity of much of Judah: “13 Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them. 14 And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house. 16 At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.”
While the Assyrians did indeed take and destroy 46 fenced cities of Judah, Lachish was not destroyed by the Assyrians. Sennacherib had laid a siege against Lachish, which is recorded in 2 Chronicles 32:9, but, as it is evident in the passage from 2 Kings chapter 18 and also from Isaiah chapters 36 and 37, the Assyrians acquired control of Lachish and used it as a base of operations for their conquest of the rest of Judah. It is also evident in 2 Kings 19:8 that the Assyrians departed from Lachish, leaving the city intact. Lachish was besieged again, over a hundred years later, by the Babylonians, in the time of Jeremiah, and we read in Jeremiah 34:7: “When the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish, and against Azekah: for these defenced cities remained of the cities of Judah.” The cities Lachish and Azekah are mentioned again in the Persian period, in Nehemiah 11:30, where from the context of that chapter it seems that these cities were not populated, but rather they were repopulated with Judahites. Because these places needed to be repopulated, we see that their Judahite inhabitants must have also gone into Babylonian captivity along with the Judahites of Jerusalem.
In order to gain some insight into the historicity of the accounts of the taking of Judah and the siege of Jerusalem by both the Assyrians and the Babylonians, we should first examine the later Lachish Ostraca. The provenance of the Lachish Ostraca, sometimes also known as the Lachish Letters, are well known, their authenticity is not questioned. They were discovered in the ruins of modern Tell ed-Duweir in southern Palestine from 1935-1938. The findings help to establish that the narrative concerning the history of Lachish as presented by the Bible is indeed accurate, and that Israelite worshippers of Yahweh dwelt there up to the time of the Babylonian sieges upon the remnants of Judah left by the Assyrians. The following is the text of the Lachish Ostraca, from ANET, pp. 321-322:
Lachish Ostracon II
To my lord Yaosh: May Yahweh cause my lord to hear tidings of peace this very day, this very day! Who is thy servant (but) a dog that my lord hath remembered his servant? May Yahweh afflict those who re[port] an (evil) rumor about which thou art not informed!
Some sources claim this Yaosh is King Joash of Judah, but he was much too early for the circumstances described in the inscriptions. This Joash must have been an officer who lived much later.
Lachish Ostracon III
Thy servant Hoshaiah hath sent to inform my lord Yaosh: May Yahweh cause my lord to hear tidings of peace! And now thou hast sent a letter, but my lord did not enlighten thy servant concerning the letter which thou didst send to thy servant yesterday evening, though the heart of thy servant hath been sick since thou didst write to thy servant. And as for what my lord said, “Dost thou not understand ? - call a scribe !”, as Yahweh liveth no one hath ever undertaken to call a scribe for me; and as for any scribe who might have come to me, truly I did not call him nor would I give anything at all for him! [Would not pay him. - WRF]
And it hath been reported to thy servant, saying, “The commander of the host, Coniah son of Elnathan, hath come down in order to go into Egypt; and unto Hodaviah son of Ahijah and his men hath he sent to obtain ... from him."
And as for the letter of Tobiah, servant of the king, which came to Shallum son of Jaddua through the prophet, saying, “Beware!”, thy servant hath sent it to my lord.
Lachish Ostracon IV
May Yahweh cause my lord to hear this very day tidings of good! And now according to everything that my lord hath written, so hath thy servant done;
I have written on the door according to all that my lord hath written to me. And with respect to what my lord hath written about the matter of Beth-haraphid, there is no one there.
And as for Semachiah, Shemaiah hath taken him and hath brought him up to the city. And as for thy servant, I am not sending anyone thither [today(?), but I will send] tomorrow morning.
And let (my lord) know that we are watching for the signals of Lachish, according to all the indications which my lord hath given, for we cannot see Azekah.
Lachish Ostracon V
May Yahweh cause my lord to hear [tidings of peace] and good [this very day, this very day!] Who is thy servant (but) a dog that thou hast sent to thy servant the [letters ... Now] thy servant hath returned the letters to my lord. May Yahweh cause thee to see [ ... ]. How can thy servant benefit or injure the king?
Lachish Ostracon VI
To my lord Yaosh: May Yahweh cause my lord to see this season in good health! Who is thy servant (but) a dog that my lord hath sent the [let]ter of the king and the letters of the prince[s, say]ing, "Pray, read them!" And behold the words of the pr[inces] are not good, (but) to weaken our hands [and to sla]cken the hands of the m[en] who are informed about them [... And now] my lord, wilt thou not write to them, saying, “Why do ye thus [even] in Jerusalem? Behold unto the king and unto [his house] are ye doing this thing!” [And,] as Yahweh thy God liveth, truly since thy servant read the letters there hath been no [peace] for [thy ser]vant ....
Lachish Ostracon VIII
May Yahweh cause my lord to hear tidings of good this very day! [ ... ]. The Lord hath humbled me before thee. Nedabiah hath fled to the mountains [ ... ]. Truly I lie not-let my lord send thither!
Lachish Ostracon IX
May Yahweh cause my lord to hear [tidings] of peace! [ ... ] let him send [ ... ] fifteen [ ... ]. Return word to thy servant through Shelemiah (telling us) what we shall do tomorrow!
Lachish Ostracon XIII
... they did not wish to do (any) work ... and Semachiah ....
In addition to demonstrating the historicity of the Biblical accounts, the Lachish Ostraca show that the attitudes concerning religion reflected in the Bible at that very time had also actually existed among the people.
Archaeologists generally date the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib to about 701 BC. There are a lot of problems with dating in this period. The invasion of Judah began as early as 715 BC, but that is not necessarily when Jerusalem was first besieged. The following is from Isaiah chapter 36: “1 Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them. 2 And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field. 3 Then came forth unto him Eliakim, Hilkiah's son, which was over the house, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, Asaph's son, the recorder. 4 And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? 5 I say, sayest thou, (but they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for war: now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? 6 Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. 7 But if thou say to me, We trust in the LORD our God: is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and said to Judah and to Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar? 8 Now therefore give pledges [hostages], I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them. [In other words, if he can indeed muster a cavalry troop.] 9 How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master's servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 10 And am I now come up without the LORD against this land to destroy it? the LORD said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it…. 13 Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Judahite language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria. 14 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you. 15 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. 16 Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me: and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern; 17 Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The LORD will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim? and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 20 Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? 21 But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not. 22 Then came Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, that was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.” The outcome of the subsequent siege of Jerusalem was not quite what the Assyrians had expected, and they had failed to take the city.
From the inscriptions of Sennacherib III, who presumably ruled Assyria from 704 to 681 BC. I say inscriptions because there are two ancient and important inscriptions which contain what are referred to as the Annals of Sennacherib, the more famous is called the Taylor Prism, and there is another called the Oriental Institute Prism:
“As to Hezekiah, the Judahite, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities, walled forts and to the countless small villages in their vicinity, and conquered (them) by means of well-stamped (earth-)ramps, and battering rams brought (thus) near (to the walls) (combined with) the attack by foot-soldiers, (using) mines, breeches as well as sapper work. I drove out (of them) 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting, and considered (them) booty. Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem. His royal residence, like a bird in a cage. I surrounded him with earthwork in order to molest those who were leaving his city's gate. His towns which I had plundered, I took away from his country and gave them (over) to Mitinti, king of Ashdod, Padi, king of Ekron, and Sillibel, king of Gaza. Thus I reduced his country, but I still increased the tribute and the katrû-presents (due) to me (as his) overlord which I imposed (later) upon him beyond the former tribute, to be delivered annually. Hezekiah himself, whom the terror-inspiring splendor of my lordship had overwhelmed and whose irregular and elite troops which he had brought into Jerusalem, his royal residence, in order to strengthen (it), had deserted him, did send me, later, to Nineveh, my lordly city, together with 30 talents of gold, 800 talents of silver, precious stones, antimony, large cuts of red stone, couches (inlaid) with ivory, nîmedu-chairs (inlaid) with ivory, elephant-hides, ebony-wood, box-wood (and) all kinds of valuable treasures, his (own) daughters, concubines, male and female musicians. In order to deliver the tribute and to do obeisance as a slave he sent his (personal) messenger.” (ANET, p. 288).
In the Assyrian version, where it is boasted that Hezekiah was left locked up in Jerusalem “like a bird in a cage”, that is political spin so that Sennacherib could depict himself in the best possible light. But the version recorded by Isaiah reads quite differently: “33 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. 35 For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. 36 Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. 38 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.”
So the Assyrians had already taken a few hundred thousand people of Judah into captivity, but they were prevented from taking Jerusalem. For that reason, because the population of Jerusalem was quite large, the captives of Judah in Assyria would not be remembered as the term “two tribes” continued to be used in reference to those who remained in Jerusalem, who spread back into the Judaean countryside before they were finally taken captive by the Babylonians just over a hundred years later.
Finally, there are also records establishing portions of the Biblical history of the Babylonian deportations, which were found in Babylonian inscriptions. In 2 Chronicles chapter 36 we read: “9 Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. 10 And when the year was expired, king Nebuchadnezzar sent, and brought him to Babylon, with the goodly vessels of the house of the LORD, and made Zedekiah his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem.” Now, from ANET p. 308, from a section containing historical documents from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, we see proof of Jehoiachin's presence in captivity in Babylon, among other things. There it is explained that these inscriptions are from administrative documents found in Babylon, in which some information concerning the fate of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, can be gathered. These texts are said to date from the 10th to the 35th year of Nebuchadnezzar II, and they list deliveries of oil for the subsistence of individuals who are either prisoners of war or otherwise dependent upon the royal household. The individuals are identified by name, profession, and/or nationality. The two tablets, so far published, also mention, beside Judeans, inhabitants of Ashkelon, Tyre, Byblos, Arvad, and, further, Egyptians, Medeans, Persians, Lydians, and Greeks.
(text Babylon 28122, obverse 29-33)
... t[o?] la-'-ú-kin, king ...
to the qîpūtu-house of …
... for Shalamiamu, the ...
... for 126 men from Tyre .
... for Zabiria, the Ly[dian] ...
(text Babylon 28178, obverse ii 38-40)
10 (sila of oil) to ... [la]-'-kin, king of Ia[ ... ]
2 1/2 sila (oil) to [ ... so]ns of the king of Judah (Ia-a-hu-du)
4 sila to 8 men from Judah (Ia-a-hu-da-a-a) ...
(text Babylon 28186, reverse ii 13-18)
1 1/2 sila (oil) for 3 carpenters from Arvad, 1 1/2 sila each
11 1/2 sila for 8 ditto from Byblos, 1 sila each ...
3 1/2 sila for 7 ditto, Greeks, 1/2 sila each
1/2 sila to Nabû-êtir the carpenter
10 (sila) to Ia-ku-ú-ki-nu, the son of the king of Ia-ku-du (i.e. Judah)
2 1/2 sila for the 5 sons of the king of Judah (Ia-ku-du) through Qana'a [ ... ]