“Amraphel King of Shinar” Was Not King Hammurabi
Damien F. Mackey
“It came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations, that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) ... In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him” (Genesis 14:1-5 NKJV)
AMRAPHEL SAME AS HAMMURABI?
Many scholars believe Amraphel, the leader of the alliance that fought against Abraham, was none other than Hammurabi:
• Easton’s Bible Dictionary states, “It is now found that Amraphel (or Ammirapaltu) is the Khammu-rabi whose name appears on recently-discovered monuments.” (“Amraphel” Easton's Bible Dictionary)
• The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary states, “Generally identified with Hammurabi the Great of the First Dynasty of Babylon.” (“AMRAPHEL” The New Unger's Bible Dictionary)
• The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states, “There is no doubt that the identification of Amraphel with the Hammurabi of the Babylonian inscriptions is the best that has yet been proposed, and though there are certain difficulties therein, these may turn out to be apparent rather than real, when we know more of Babylonian history … Amraphel is mentioned first, which, if he be really the Babylonian Hammurabi, is easily comprehensible, for his renown to all appearance exceeded that of Chedorlaomer.” (“AMRAPHEL” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
• Easton’s Bible Dictionary describes Hammurabi [Khammu-rabi] as “The most famous king of the dynasty was Khammu-rabi, who united Babylonia under one rule, and made Babylon its capital … Khammu-rabi, whose name is also read Ammi-rapaltu or Amraphel by some scholars” (“CHEDORLAOMER” Easton's Bible Dictionary).
• The Dictionary of the Bible dealing with its Language, Literature and Contents states, “Schraeder, who suggested that the name was a corruption for Amraphi, was the first to identify this king with Khammurabi, the 6th king of the 1st dynasty of Babylon. The cuneiform inscriptions inform us that Khammurabi was king of Babylon and North Babylonia; that he rebelled against the supremacy of Elam, that he overthrew his rival Eri-aku, king of Larasa, and after conquering Sumer and Accad, was the first to make a united kingdom of Babylonia.” (“Amraphel”, “Dictionary of the Bible dealing with its Language, Literature and Contents, Volume 1, edited by James Hastings, page 88)
AMRAPHEL NOT HAMMURABI?
However, Not All Scholars Link Amraphel To Hammurabi:
• Nelson’s Topical Bible Index states, “identified by some as the Hammurabi of the monuments.” (“Amraphel” Nelson’s Topical Bible Index)
• The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states, “There would therefore appear to be no sound reason for maintaining that Amraphel can be identified with Hammurabi, particularly as such a procedure is unsubstantiated by Mesopotamian archeology and history. If HAMMURABI were really Amraphel, it is difficult to see why he should be occupying a subordinate position to that of Chedorlaomer, unless Hammurabi happened to be a crown prince at the time. But here it has to be recognized that the Palestinian expedition itself has not been discovered to date among the recorded campaigns of Hammurabi. The identity of Amraphel king of Shinar must therefore remain uncertain for the moment.” (“AMRAPHEL” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
• The New Bible Dictionary states, “The equation with Hammurapi is unlikely.” (“Amraphel” New Bible Dictionary)
• The Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary states, “While some have tried to identify Amraphel with Hammurabi, founder of the first Babylonian dynasty, all efforts to identify him or pinpoint the location of Shinar have failed.” (“AMRAPHEL” Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
• The New Unger's Bible Dictionary states of Amraphel, “formerly generally identified with Hammurabi the Great of the First Dynasty of Babylon (c. 1728-1689). This Amraphel-Hammurabi equation always was difficult linguistically but is now also disproved chronologically.” (“AMRAPHEL” The New Unger's Bible Dictionary).
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According to my own reconstruction of history, however, the famous Hammurabi is far later than the time of Abram and the four kings of Genesis 14:1, later by approximately a millennium. Hammurabi and his contemporaries most definitely belong to the time of King Solomon of Israel. See my:
Hammurabi the Great King of Babylon was King Solomon
Bringing New Order to Mesopotamian History and Chronology
Now we find from careful research that king Hammurabi himself had actually looked back on the Genesis 14 coalition of kings as vandals from a bygone era.
“This can only mean that Khedorla’omer’s [Chedorlaomer’s] days
were long before Hammurabi’s time”.
This is apparent from the excellent article, “The Wars of Gods and Men” (Chapter Thirteen: “Abraham the Fateful Years”), which begins with the Genesis 14 passage, already quoted, and then goes on to tell (http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sitchin/sitchinbooks03_05.htm):
Thus begins the biblical tale, in chapter 14 of Genesis, of an ancient war that pitted an alliance of four kingdoms of the East against five kings in Canaan. It is a tale that has evolved some of the most intense debate among scholars, for it connects the story of Abraham, the first Hebrew Patriarch, with a specific non-Hebrew event, and thus affords objective substantiation of the biblical record of the birth of a nation.
"....For many decades the critics of the Old Testament seemed to prevail; then, as the nineteenth century was drawing to a close, the scholarly and religious worlds were astounded by the discovery of Babylonian tablets naming Khedorla’omer, Ariokh, and Tidhal in a tale not unlike the biblical one.
"The discovery was announced in a lecture by Theophilus Pinches to the Victoria Institute, London, in 1897. Having examined several tablets belonging to the Spartoli Collection in the British Museum, he found that they describe a war of wide-ranging magnitude, in which a king of Elam, Kudur-laghamar, led an alliance of rulers that included one named Eri-aku and another named Tud-ghula - names that easily could have been transformed into Hebrew as Khedor-la’omer, Ariokh, and Tidhal. Accompanying his published lecture with a painstaking transcript of the cuneiform writing and a translation thereof, Pinches could confidently claim that the biblical tale had indeed been supported by an independent Mesopotamian source.
"With justified excitement the Assyriologists of that time agreed with Pinches reading of the cuneiform names. The tablets indeed spoke of "Kudur-Laghamar, king of the land of Elam"; all scholars agreed that it was a perfect Elamite royal name, the prefix Kudur ("Servant") having been a component in the names of several Elamite kings, and Laghamar being the Elamite epithet-name for a certain deity. It was agreed that the second name, spelled Eri-e-a-ku in the Babylonian cuneiform script, stood for the original Sumerian ERI.AKU, meaning "Servant of the god Aku," Aku being a variant of the name of Nannar/Sin. It is known from a number of inscriptions that Elamite rulers of Larsa bore the name "Servant of Sin," and there was therefore little difficulty in agreeing that the biblical Eliasar, the royal city of the king Ariokh, was in fact Larsa. There was also unanimous agreement among the scholars for accepting that the Babylonian text’s Tud-ghula was the equivalent of the biblical "Tidhal, king of Go’im"; and they agreed that by Go’im the Book of Genesis referred to the "nation-hordes" whom the cuneiform tablets listed as allies of Khedorla’omer.
"Here, then, was the missing proof - not only of the veracity of the Bible and of the existence of Abraham, but also of an international event in which he had been involved!
"....The second discovery was announced by Vincent Scheil, who reported that he had found among the tablets in the Imperial Ottoman Museum in Constantinople a letter from the well-known Babylonian King Hammurabi, which mentions the very same Kudur-laghamar! Because the letter was addressed to a king of Larsa, Father Scheil concluded that the three were contemporaries and thus matched three of the four biblical kings of the East - Hammurabi being none other than "Amraphael king of Shin’ar."
"....However, when subsequent research convinced most scholars that Hammurabi reigned much later (from 1792 to 1750 B.C., according to The Cambridge Ancient History), the synchronization seemingly achieved by Scheil fell apart, and the whole bearing of the discovered inscriptions - even those reported by Pinches - came into doubt. Ignored were the pleas of Pinches that no matter with whom the three named kings were to be identified - that even if Khedorla’omer, Ariokh, and Tidhal of the cuneiform texts were not contemporaries of Hammurabi - the text’s tale with its three names was still "a remarkable historical coincidence, and deserves recognition as such." In 1917, Alfred Jeremias (Die sogenanten Kedorlaomer-Texte) attempted to revive interest in the subject; but the scholarly community preferred to treat the Spartoli tablets with benign neglect.
"....Yet the scholarly consensus that the biblical tale and the Babylonian texts drew on a much earlier, common source impels us to revive the plea of Pinches and his central argument: How can cuneiform texts, affirming the biblical background of a major war and naming three of the biblical kings, be ignored? Should the evidence - crucial, as we shall show, to the understanding of fateful years - be discarded simply because Amraphel was not Hammurabi?
"The answer is that the Hammurabi letter found by Scheil should not have sidetracked the discovery reported by Pinches, because Scheil misread the letter. According to his rendition, Hammurabi promised a reward to Sin-Idinna, the king of Larsa, for his "heroism on the day of Khedorla’omer." This implied that the two were allies in a war against Khedorla’omer and thus contemporaries of that king of Elam.
It was on this point that Scheil’s find was discredited, for it contradicted both the biblical assertion that the three kings were allies and known historical facts: Hammurabi treated Larsa not as an ally but as an adversary, boasting that he "overthrew Larsa in battle," and attacked its sacred precinct "with the mighty weapon which the gods had given him."
"A close examination of the actual text of Hammurabi’s letter reveals that in his eagerness to prove the Hammurabi-Amraphel identification, Father Scheil reversed the letter’s meaning: Hammurabi was not offering as a reward to return certain goddesses to the sacred precinct (the Emutbal) of Larsa; rather, he was demanding their return to Babylon from Larsa.
"....The incident of the abduction of the goddesses had thus occurred in earlier times; they were held captive in the Emutbal "from the days of Khedorla’omer"; and Hammurabi was now demanding their return to Babylon, from where Khedorla’omer had taken them captive. This can only mean that Khedorla’omer’s days were long before Hammurabi’s time.
"Supporting our reading of the Hammurabi letter found by Father Scheil in the Constantinople Museum is the fact that Hammurabi repeated the demand for the return of the goddesses to Babylon in yet another stiff message to Sin-Idinna, this time sending it by the hand of high military officers. This second letter is in the British Museum (No. 23,131) and its text was published by L.W. King in The Letters and Inscriptions of Hammurabi.
"....That the goddesses were to be returned from Larsa to Babylon is made clear in the letter’s further instructions.
"....It is thus clear from these letters that Hammurabi - a foe, not an ally, of Larsa - was seeking restitution for events that had happened long before his time, in the days of Kudur-Laghamar, the Elamite regent of Larsa. The texts of the Hammurabi letters thus affirm the existence of Khedorla-omer and of Elamite reign in Larsa ("Ellasar") and thus of key elements in the biblical tale. ....
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