Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mackey’s Thesis Assessment After Ten Years (2007-2017)




 


by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

 

Whilst much of my thesis appears to have held firm, there is no doubt that some ideas that may have seemed quite plausible ten years ago have not stood well the test of time.

 

 

 

This relatively brief assessment can serve as a manageable précis of what is fully a 2 Volume thesis comprising some 550 pages. The thesis in its entirety can still be accessed at: http://hdl.handle.net/2123/5973

 

Introduction

 

The period since the completion of my university thesis, A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah and its Background (2007), has enabled for me to take an objective look at the whole effort in light of what I have learned and written since. I do not want to be one who sits back complacently on a project and refuses to admit that it can be improved in any way – though I am basically happy with the outcome and overall would not change it substantially. I had made it quite clear, though, during my writing of this thesis that: “… I am not claiming any of this to be the last word on the subject; only the best ‘alternative’ with which I am able to come up at this point in time”. (I, p. 5; cf. I, p. 358).

Since then, I have been able to include in a series of articles further fascinating developments, based on this foundational or seminal work: an indication to me that this revision has deep and healthy roots, capable, in due time, of bearing much historical fruit. From these more recent developments I have learned that some of my former conclusions - though generally heading in the right direction - needed refinement and re-wording. And, in several cases, they were just completely wrong. Fortunately the mistakes do not irreparably damage the overall thesis; although one in particular, quite frequently alluded to especially in an early part of the document - but still rearing its ugly head even as late as pp. 362-364 - does, I must admit, spoil the overall effort and badly needs to be corrected. That I intend to do in this assessment.

A simpler mistake, which I can correct immediately, is the wrongful insertion of the name Shebna (I, p. 368, i), which I did not pick up in my proof readings of the thesis prior to its being bound and submitted.

I was well aware when writing the thesis that I was building an historical structure upon some very sturdy foundations as laid by earlier revisionists who had objectively scrutinised the conventional system and had found it sorely wanting (by contrast with much revisionism that is amateurish and a waste of time). That is not to say that I was ungrateful for, or dismissive of, all of the herculean efforts of conventional scholars down through the decades (centuries) without whose painstaking toil our knowledge of antiquity would have been too meagre for any thesis writing of this type to have taken place.

What is irritating, though, are the completely closed minds towards revision of many conventional scholars.

Anyway, upon the sturdy foundations of genuine revisionism, I was able to create a radically different approach to the era of King Hezekiah of Judah than had formerly been attempted. I was extremely excited about various new insights that I was developing, to be summarised in the succession of sections below headed Setting the record straight for …. And, since then, I have embarked upon others that further supplement this seminal tertiary work. I tried always to adhere to a rigorous methodology. For instance, I never deliberately constructed a scenario that went against clearly established archaeological sequences. And I made sure that this methodology was made evident. And, indeed, examiners’ comments showed an appreciation of this sound approach. I believe that some revisionists have ruined their promising work by not respecting the archaeological data, and by refusing to be corrected. This does revisionism no favours whatsoever. If a theory contravenes well-established data, throw it out, no matter how attractive it may seem to be. I well appreciate the temptation not to. But one has to be utterly ruthless in the pursuit of truth.

Occasionally I wrestled with a new idea, and then allowed it admittance into my thesis, even though realising at the time that it was highly controversial. But I would always insist in such a case that it was only a “tentative” theory. It nevertheless seemed to provide the solution to certain problems. In one or two cases, those decisions have proven to be the wrong ones and have come back to bite me.

For some other aspects of the thesis the jury must still be out, as I am not yet sure whether or not they can be confirmed. Time will tell. But, as I have said, the bulk of the thesis I believe to be sound and enduring.

Indeed, so that examiners and critics could not accuse me of embarking upon a project that was completely groundless and without any sort of proper historico-archaeological foundations - even though it was admittedly radical by comparison with the textbook models - I was at pains to emphasis my starting point. This was the recommendation by an examiner of my previously successful MA thesis, The Sothic Star Theory of the Egyptian Calendar (1994), that, since I had shown the foundations of the conventional Egyptian-based system to be unsound, the way lay open for me and others to provide “a ‘more acceptable alternative’” to the conventional system. (I, p. 5):

 

The Sothic theory I had concluded [in the previous thesis], as had Velikovsky, Courville and others, is artificially based and has consequently thwarted efforts by historians to establish proper syncretisms throughout (mainly early) antiquity, especially when it is considered that the chronology of the other nations is usually assessed with reference to Egypt. Happily, this testing thesis was passed by examiners on both chronologico-historical and astronomical grounds. Scientist Dr. R. Grognard for instance, one of the examiners of my thesis, referred to my:

 

“... critical analysis ... when examining the opposite points of view [i.e. the Sothic theory]. Indeed, most get a thrashing ...”.

 

Having thus cleared the ground for a new and more accurate chronology of the ancient world, with the patient support of Dr. Noel Weeks of the History Department of the University of Sydney (the MA thesis), I now offer the inevitable work of reconstruction. This was already envisaged by another of my MA examiner’s when noting, favourably, that: “It is important to show the weaknesses or errors in our understanding of a theory in order to leave our minds free to think of a more acceptable alternative”.

This is precisely what my new thesis was intended to be: the best ‘alternative’ that I was able to present at that particular point in time. And to underscore that this second thesis grew right out of the fertile ground of the first one – though it was quite different from the first – I painstakingly reproduced (in I, pp. 10-13 of my General Chronologico-Historical Problems and Proposed Solutions) some pertinent slabs of relevant parts and quotations from my previous thesis. This, I coupled with my emphasis on underpinning my revision with a sound archaeology. Unfortunately, the whole point of this was completely lost on certain examiners, who never once alluded to any of this foundational effort and whose comments made one wonder if they had actually read the thesis properly at all. Anyway, all that is past history, as the new thesis, intended as a Doctoral thesis, was finally awarded a Master of Arts degree.

 

Now, I want briefly to recount the developments that I think have made it all well worthwhile. And to tell of how these have since (in the intervening years) been added to. This also affords me the opportunity to point out the flaws in the thesis and what I think should now be rejected and not taken up by other scholars. It is a case of setting the record straight.

 

Setting the record straight for the

Chronology of King Hezekiah of Judah

 

The highly-favoured Edwin Thiele’s The Mysterious Number of the Hebrew Kings (Grand Rapids, 1983) had, by ignoring the impressive biblical syncretisms for the reign of king Hezekiah, and re-aligning Hezekiah now with a faulty neo-Assyrian chronology, placed the beginning of king Hezekiah’s reign about a decade later in relation to the fall of Samaria than the Bible has situated the king. Taking the conventional date of 722/21 BC for the fall of Samaria, in Hezekiah’s 6th year, according to the Bible, would mean that the reign of Hezekiah began in 727 BC. But Thiele has the king, instead, in 716 BC. Though Thiele had the best of intentions, and had sought to set biblical chronology on the firmest of foundations, his methodology was disastrous. His erroneous belief that the chronology of neo Assyria was virtually rock solid was a terrible presumption. Consequently, Thiele’s treatment of king Hezekiah is one of the worst features of his book. The Tangi-i Var inscription that I discussed (I, Chapter 6, p. 144, and Chapter 12), for one, has shown that the reign of Sargon II aligns quite differently with Ethiopia than according to the received chronology – this chronology also having Sennacherib invading Judah during the reign of king Hezekiah at a point about half-way through the reign of Sargon II.

The Bible has provided us with a three-way synchronism for (i) the Fall of Samaria; this having occurred in (ii) the 9th year of king Hoshea of Israel and (iii) the 6th year of king Hezekiah of Judah. Moreover, extra-biblically, Sargon II tells us that it occurred during (iv) his first year of reign, which was apparently also, according to Sargonic information, (v) the first year of Merodach-baladan king of Babylon. Here, then, is a most impressive five-way synchronism in relation to the Fall of Samaria. But it is entirely annihilated in Thiele’s book thanks to his unrealistic idolisation of the accepted neo-Assyrian chronology.

In my thesis, the reign of king Hezekiah was chronologically restored to its original firm place in relation to the Fall of Samaria. Neo-Assyrian history instead, now, had to undergo scrutiny, for one to find out why the reigns of Sargon II and Sennacherib were constantly running into each other, and why the standard chronology of Sargon II was greatly embarrassed by the Tang-i Var find.

 

Setting the record straight for the

Chronology of Sargon II/Sennacherib

 

In the process of this thesis I told of the startling development of an initial thought that there must have been a far more substantial than believed (that is, for those who do allow for it) co-regency between Sargon II and Sennacherib. As I plumbed the depth of this perceived co-regency, I came to realize that it was bottomless, that the major regnal year events of Sargon II could be aligned, in the same order, right the way though, with the recorded campaigns of Sennacherib. This forced me in the end to the highly controversial conclusion that Sargon II, the supposed father of Sennacherib, was Sennacherib himself. And so I posed (I, p. 166):

 

A Question By Way of Summary

 

What are the chances of two successive kings having, in such perfect chronological sequence - over a span of some two decades - the same campaigns against the same enemies; even allowing for a certain sameness amongst Assyrian kings due to their heavy use of repetitive, formulaïc language?

 

1. Merodach-baladan (Sargon). Merodach-baladan (Sennacherib).

2. Ellipi, Medes and Tumunu (Sargon). Ellipi, Medes and Tumunu (Sennacherib).

3. Egypt-backed Judah/Philistia (Sargon). Egypt-backed Judah/Philistia (Sennacherib)

4. Merodach-baladan and Elam (Sargon). Merodach-baladan and Elam (Sennacherib).

5. (Not fully preserved) (Sargon). (Not fully preserved) (Sennacherib).

6. Babylon, Elam and Bit-Iakin (Sargon). Babylon, Elam and Bit-Iakin (Sennacherib).

7. Elam (Sargon). Elam (Sennacherib).

 

Since then, this part of my thesis has been published by the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies (UK), as “Sargon and Sennacherib” C and C Workshop 2010:1 (February 2010), http://www.sis-group.org.uk/workshop.htm and these 7 points have received their proper notational references.

I was able to show, for one, that a crucial Assyrian document pertaining to the supposed succeeding by Sennacherib of his father Sargon II had been doctored by the early Assyriologists, Winckler and co., who had presumed to add the name “Sargon” to where they thought it must originally have been (I, p. 137).

How many other ancient texts have been thus doctored to conform to a preconceived idea?

Undoubtedly, this identification of Sargon II with Sennacherib was one of the major discoveries of the thesis. It enabled for the traditional chronology of king Hezekiah to be retained. It solved outright the Tang-I Var difficulty and problems associated with clashes between the reigns of Sargon II and Sennacherib. It also accorded with the testimony of the ancient text of the Book of Tobit, that Sennacherib had succeeded Shalmaneser, with no mention there of Sargon (Tobit 1:15). Finally, it paved the way for a resolution of the history in the Book of Judith, the subject of Volume 2 of my thesis, especially the tricky problem of the Assyrian king, there called “Nebuchadnezzar”, who seemed to be like a composite of Sargon II and Sennacherib. He was in fact ‘both’, as I came to conclude.

I shall come back to this “Nebuchadnezzar”, who has further implications for a revision of chronology.

 

Wrong About Esarhaddon

 

A very important factor for the development of this thesis, as I had then thought - of crucial significance especially to Volume 2 - was my further shortening of the neo-Assyrian succession by incorporating the entire reign of Esarhaddon within that of his father, Sennacherib, with the latter dying at the hands of his regicide sons some time after the demise of Esarhaddon on his way to conquer Egypt. This, I had imagined, would enable again, in Volume 2, for the resolution of the identity of the ill-fated Assyrian commander-in chief, “Holofernes”, a central character in the drama of the Book of Judith.

This pet reconstruction remained with me until fairly recently, but I have finally laid it to rest as historically inaccurate in various articles, including:

 

“Nadin went into everlasting darkness”

 


 

I had deliberately included in the scope of my thesis, and its title, the “Background” history to the era of king Hezekiah of Judah. Though it would have been a far simpler matter - and less fraught with problems - to focus just on the era of king Hezekiah himself, including the Judith factor in Volume 2 (the reconstruction of which examiners have generally praised), I had wanted to make far better known to scholars the revision of history, for instance the well worked out, well-documented El Amarna [EA] period, but I had also realised that it was necessary to supply a revised background to what was looming as being a far more complicated era (Hezekiah’s) than was formerly known.

My foundational point for the thesis, based on what had generally been considered a very strong facet of Velikovsky’s revision - even being supplemented by other revisionist scholars - was (within the context of Velikovsky’s ‘folding’ into the C9th BC of the EA era of Egypt’s 18th dynasty rulers Amenhotep III and IV, Akhnaton) his identification of the supposedly C14th BC EA kings of Amurru, Abdi-Ashirta and Aziru, with the C9th BC biblical Syrian kings, respectively, Ben-hadad I and Hazael. These two Syrian kings, Ben-hadad I and Hazael, would become major players in my thesis. I was able to develop them beyond Velikovsky’s scenario, taking them into some completely new territory. For instance, realising that the geography of the activities of Abdi-ashirta (Ben-Hadad I) were the same as those of the powerful Mitannian king, Tushratta, I posed some new questions (I, pp. 65-66):

 

Now, an apparent anomaly immediately strikes me in regard to this connection between Ben-Hadad I and Abdi-ashirta, though it is not one of Velikovsky’s making but one that pertains to the EA structure itself. It is this: Why do we never hear of a conflict – or perhaps an alliance - between this Abdi-ashirta and Tushratta (var. Dushratta) of Mitanni? Why, in fact, do we never hear any mention at all of these two kings together in the same EA letter? I ask this firstly because, as Campbell has shown, Abdi-ashirta and Tushratta were exact contemporaries, reigning during at least the latter part of the reign of pharaoh Amenhotep III and on into the reign of Akhnaton … and, secondly, because their territories were, at the very least, contiguous.

At about the same time (judging that is by Mercer’s numbering of the EA Letters) as Tushratta’s raid on Sumur, generally considered to be Simyra north of Byblos, Rib-Addi made the following famous protest about Abdi-Ashirta to pharaoh (EA 76): “... is he the king of Mitanna [Mitanni] or the king of Kasse [Babylon] that he seeks to take the land of the king [Pharaoh] himself?” This huge region covetted by Abdi-ashirta (Mitanni to Kasse) would have, even in the most minimal terms, spanned from eastern Syria to southern Babylonia. Either Tushratta was trespassing all over Abdi-ashirta’s region, or vice versa. Whatever the case, we should thus expect some mighty clash between the forces of Abdi-ashirta and those of Tushratta, who ruled Mitanni.

Yet we hear of none.

 

My first major development of Velikovsky’s identification was to conclude that Abdi-ashirta and Tushratta were the same king, the biblical Ben-Hadad I, a veritable master king. This had major ramifications for my thesis. I ventured the suggestion that (I, p. 67): “… the seemingly ‘Indo-European’ name, Tushratta, or Dushratta, is simply a variant form of Abdi-Ashirta, var. Abdi-Ashrati, meaning ‘slave of Ashtarte’, being simply Ab-DU-aSHRATTA, or DUSHRATTA”.

 

Early, I had dedicated Chapter 2 of the thesis to the Philistines, notable foes of king Hezekiah, but I did this primarily for the purpose of engaging the ‘Indo-European’ element that I had expected was going to be important. And, although I believe it has turned out to be to some extent, I think that I may well have overcooked it.

 

Thanks to Velikovsky’s efforts, a positive start had been made on the necessary ‘folding’ of the ‘Middle’ Assyro-Babylonian period with the Neo-Assyro-Babylonian period, thereby filling in all of the epigraphical, documentary and archaeological holes, Dark Ages and unwanted spaces. These dark holes in history are the unfortunate result of the erroneous conventional model. Now, further to Velikovsky, a very important ‘folding’, most relevant to the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah, is that of the ‘Middle’ Assyro-Babylonian period of Nebuchednezzar I, generally thought to have been a C12th BC Babylonian king, but now ‘folded’ with the C8th BC period of Sargon II/Sennacherib.

 

Setting the record straight for the

Chronology of Nebuchednezzar I

 

In my thesis I gave art-historical examples of perceived likenesses between C12th BC and C8th BC Assyrian art, on the one hand, and C13th-12th BC Egyptian art with C8th BC Assyrian art on the other. And, again further to Velikovsky’s ‘folding’ of the C14th BC EA period with the C9th BC period, I developed a new and rich seam of ‘fold’ between the supposed C12th BC era of Nebuchednezzar I and that of Sargon II/Sennacherib. I there found that the approximate ‘Middle’ contemporaries of Nebuchednezzar I, such as Tiglath-pileser I and Merodach-baladan I, were eminently ‘foldable’ with their namesakes, respectively, Tiglath-pileser III (a promising identification of I and III had already been proposed and developed to some degree by revisionists) and Merodach-baladan II. Archaeologists find it difficult to distinguish between the archaeology of the latter and that of his former namesake.

Most strikingly, I found that a succession of three Shutrukid Elamite rulers contemporary with Nebuchednezzar I had names extremely close to the three Elamite opponents of Sennacherib. Thesis (I, p. 180):

 

Now, consider further these striking parallels between the C12th BC and the neo-Assyrian period, to be developed below:

 

Table 1: Comparison of the C12th BC (conventional) and C8th BC

 

C12th BC
 
Some time before Nebuchednezzar
I, there reigned in Babylon a
Merodach-baladan [I].
 
The Elamite kings of this era
carried names such as Shutruk-
Nahhunte and his son, Kudur-
Nahhunte.
Nebuchednezzar I fought a hard
battle with a ‘Hulteludish’
(Hultelutush-Inshushinak).
C8th BC
 
The Babylonian ruler for king
Sargon II’s first twelve years was
a Merodach-baladan [II].
 
Sargon II/Sennacherib fought
against the Elamites, Shutur-
Nakhkhunte & Kutir-Nakhkhunte.
Sennacherib had trouble also
with a ‘Hallushu’ (Halutush-
Inshushinak).
 

 

Too spectacular I think to be mere coincidence!

 

Having said that, this whole idea still requires a much fuller ironing out and development. But I think that it has enormous promise. One of its unexpected bonuses may be that it can provide a solution to the problem of the Assyrian ruler, “Nebuchadnezzar”, of the Book of Judith. He is Sargon II/Sennacherib, who also conquered and ruled Babylon. Here is what I wrote about how this new connection accounts for this long dominance of Babylon (I, p. 185):

 

This new scenario, identifying Nebuchednezzar I as the Great King of Assyria, puts a completely new slant on Sargon II’s/Sennacherib’s presumed ‘modesty’ in not taking the title of ‘King of Babylon’ as had Tiglath-pileser III, preferring to use the older shakkanaku (‘viceroy’). That modesty however was not an Assyrian characteristic we have already seen abundantly. And so lacking in this virtue was Sargon in fact, I believe, that historians have had to create a complete Babylonian king, namely, Nebuchednezzar I, to accommodate the Assyrian’s rôle as ‘King of Babylon’.

 

The thesis revised many other aspects of Assyro-Babylonian (and Kassite) history as well, some parts more convincingly than others in retrospect.

 

One of my main concerns was to try to resolve what has become known amongst revisionists as “The Assuruballit Problem” [TAP]. This had loomed early as the major problem for Velikovsky’s revision, though it would soon have fierce competition in two other problems: where to locate the long-reigning Ramses II; and how to resolve the tricky TIP.

As I explained (I, p. 230):

 

TAP is this:

If EA is to be lowered to the mid-C9th BC, as Velikovsky had argued, why then is EA’s ‘king of Assyria’ called ‘Assuruballit’ (EA 15 and 16), and not ‘Shalmaneser’, since Shalmaneser III – by current reckoning – completely straddles the middle part of this century (c. 858-824 BC)?

That king Assuruballit is a problem for the revision cannot be denied. However, he turns out to be a real problem for the conventional system as well. Whereas Assuruballit’s father - as given in EA - was called Assur-nadin-ahe, his father is named in the King List as Eriba-Adad, not Assur-nadin-ahe.

 

Assuruballit of Assyria, I identified with Aziru.

Time will tell whether or not my then rather complex explanation (I, pp. 230-233):

 

EXCURSUS: ‘THE ASSURUBALLIT PROBLEM’ [TAP]

 

does actually provide any sort of real solution to TAP.

But, more recently, I have ‘taken a short cut’ in a series of articles by removing the problematical Shalmaneser III right out of the EA era (mid-C9th BC) and newly identifying him as Tiglath-pileser III (= Shalmaneser V) of the C8th BC (this last equation, TPIII = SV) was already made in my thesis. Time will tell regarding this bold move as well, which, if it holds, will virtually solve, in one blow, TAP.

 

Mistaken about the Omrides

 

Perhaps the most persistent problem of my own making, as referred to at the beginning, concerned a part of my treatment of the biblical Omrides - an overcooking of ideas that has served to burn my thesis in places here and there. Now affords me with the opportunity to rectify that matter, to set the record straight, so that those who may wish to learn from, and build upon, this university thesis of mine, may not pursue this particular line of erroneous argument. It concerns my confusion of Omrides and Zimrides. The problem was created in connection with the relationship between kings Ben-hadad I and Ahab, who had just defeated the former, but who was now calling him “brother”. I was to take that ‘brother” bit quite literally, but should not have. Read about it in the next section.

 

Setting the record straight for the

Chronology of Ahab and Jezebel

 

Naturally Velikovsky, having proposed an EA identification for Ben-Hadad I, had also tried to find a suitable EA alter ego for Ben-hadad’s famous foe, the notorious king Ahab of Israel. Velikovsky’s choice for Ahab of EA’s Rib-Addi, however, has been roundly criticised by revisionists, as well it should be. I myself wrote on this matter (I, p. 83):

 

Velikovsky … had … looked to identify Ahab with Rib-Addi of Gubla, the most prolific Syro-Palestine correspondent to the EA pharaohs (over 50 letters in number). …. And this was surely a big mistake. For, in order for him to ‘make’ Ahab, like Rib-Addi, a very old man at death, Velikovsky was prepared to fly in the face of the biblical data and completely re-cast the chronology of Ahab’s life. He had convinced himself that there existed a contradiction between the accounts of Ahab in Kings and Chronicles so that, as he claimed, Ahab did not die at the battle of Ramoth-gilead as is stated in 1 Kings 22 (cf. vv. 6, 29 and 37), but rather reigned on for a further 8-10 years. Thus, according to Velikovsky’s view, king Jehoram of Israel (c. 853-841 BC, conventional dates), never truly existed, but was a ghost.

From a biblical point of view, the fact that Rib-Addi had been able to report the death of Abdi-Ashirta (Velikovsky’s Ben-Hadad I) meant that Velikovsky was quite wrong in identifying Rib-Addi with king Ahab; since Ahab’s death preceded that of Ben-Hadad (cf. 1 Kings 22:40 and 2 Kings 8:15). But this was Velikovsky in his favourite rôle as “the arbiter of history”, according to Sieff … forcing historical data to fit a pre-conceived idea. Velikovsky called this Rib-Addi king of Gubla and Sumur (var. Sumura) … which EA cities he had tried to equate with Ahab’s chief cities of, respectively, Jezreel and Samaria; though they are usually identified with the coastal cities of Byblos (Gebal) and Simyra. Moreover, letters from Egypt may indicate that Sumur was not really Rib-Addi’s concern at all. …. Velikovsky greatly confused the issue of Ahab of Israel for those coming after him, since Rib-Addi was chronologically and geographically unsuitable for Ahab. Revisionists have since rightly rejected this part of Velikovsky’s EA reconstruction, with Sieff suggesting instead that Rib-Addi may have been Jehoram of Israel.

 

As far as I was concerned, Ahab was clearly the same as EA’s powerful and rebellious Lab’ayu of the Shechem region (I, p. 85):

 

Whether or not Rib-Addi turns out to be Jehoram of Israel, a far better EA candidate for Ahab than Rib-Addi, in my opinion, and indeed a more obvious one – and I am quite surprised that no one has yet taken it up – is Lab’ayu, known to have been a king of the Shechem region, which is very close to Samaria (only 9 km SE distant); especially given my quote earlier (p. 54) from Cook that the geopolitical situation at this time in the “(north) [was akin to that of the] Israelites of a later [sic] time”. Lab’ayu is never actually identified in the EA letters as king of either Samaria or of Shechem. Nevertheless, Aharoni has designated Lab’ayu as “King of Shechem” in his description of the geopolitical situation in Palestine during the EA period (Aharoni, of course, is a conventional scholar writing of a period he thinks must have been well pre-monarchical): ….

In the hill country there were only a few political centres, and each of these ruled over a fairly extensive area. In all the hill country of Judah and Ephraim we hear only of Jerusalem and Shechem with possible allusions to Beth-Horon and Manahath, towns within the realm of Jerusalem’s king.

... Apparently the kings of Jerusalem and Shechem dominated, to all practical purposes, the entire central hill country at that time. The territory controlled by Labayu, King of Shechem, was especially large in contrast to the small Canaanite principalities round about. Only one letter refers to Shechem itself, and we get the impression that this is not simply a royal Canaanite city but rather an extensive kingdom with Shechem as its capital.

 

Moreover, this Lab’ayu, had, like Ahab, two prominent sons. I tentatively identified the more prominent of these, Mut-Baal¸ with Ahab’s older son, Ahaziah (I, p. 90), who – having no heir – was succeeded by his brother, Jehoram.

Now, the bad mistake (Mistaken about the Omrides above) that I made was to take too literally the following biblical quote (I, p. 56):

 

… I am going to suggest that the obscure Tab-rimmon, father of Ben-Hadad I, was the same person as Omri, and that therefore Ben-Hadad I and Ahab, son of Omri, were brothers. And I shall be basing myself on this text ([I Kings] 20:32-33):

 

… [Ben-Hadad’s] servants tied sackcloth round their waists, put ropes on their heads, went to the king of Israel, and said, ‘Your servant Ben-Hadad says, ‘Please let me live’.’ And [Ahab] said, ‘Is he still alive? He is my brother’. Now the men were watching for an omen; they quickly took it up from him and said, ‘Yes, Ben-Hadad is your brother’. (20:32-33)

 

I wrestled with this perceived connection, knowing that it was highly controversial (I, p. 57):

 

Thus, on the face of things, it would seem that Tab-rimmon and Omri were two quite distinct kings, differing in their origins and belonging each to a different regal ‘House’, and having two different geographies of rule. Such is a view that would be accepted by conventional and revisionist scholars alike. (Moreover, there is a chronological stretching involved with my interpretation. See p. 64).

 

But still it seemed to me (I, pp. 57-58):

 

Nevertheless that long-standing view is not without difficulties of its own. These, as we are going to see, have been pointed out by commentators, who have not, however, thought to challenge the basic premise: namely, that Ben-Hadad I and Ahab were of different fathers. I think that my account of the situation below can at least perhaps resolve some of the difficulties with which commentators have had to grapple in connection with the terms of the treaty just discussed between Ben-Hadad I and Ahab.

And I even think that Ben-Hadad’s bald juxtaposition of ‘my father’, and ‘your father’, can be accounted for to some degree in terms of this new identification.

What, then, are the main difficulties I find with so literal an interpretation of the treaty as is the standard version of it?

One is that Omri, a most powerful king as we are going to see - upon whom the kings of Assyria looked “as the father of the Israelite royal house” … - would have to be regarded in the conventional scheme of things as having been subjugated by the Syrians, with even his capital city occupied. The second main point is that, despite Ben-Hadad’s reference to Samaria as having been occupied by his father, that is, Tab-rimmon, the Old Testament nowhere records any invasion by the armies of Syria of this vital part of Israel. The only previously mentioned incursion into Israel by the troops of Syria was during the reign of Baasha of Israel, when Ben-Hadad I had ravaged northern Galilee; this being quite a distance, however, from Samaria.

There is nothing whatsoever in the Old Testament account of Omri’s rule, albeit briefly recorded (1 Kings 16:23-28), to suggest that this king had suffered, at the hands of Syria or of anyone else, anything like a significant reversal - which the loss of Samaria, whether of brief or long duration, would most assuredly have been. Had Omri, for whatever duration of time, forfeited, to an enemy power, control of his newly-bought site, then the recorder of his history would doubtlessly have experienced the greatest satisfaction in having been able to recount that Omri, “who did more evil than all who were before him” (16:25), was thus punished for his sins by the occupation of his capital city by a foe. Instead, the writer of Omri’s history tells only of “the power that [Omri] showed”; a view apparently shared by neo-Assyrian kings and by modern historians (see e.g. Finkelstein and Silberman, p. 64 below).

Bright, obviously aware of the difficulty associated with the view that Omri had been forced to pay tribute to the Syrians, has written with reference to Mazar: …. “If these concessions were wrung from Omri himself (so Mazar …), this must have been before he established himself firmly in power”. Bright then adds: “But the language is formulaic in character: “father” can mean merely “predecessor”; a view that is also endorsed by Lasor et al….. Ellis, for his part, has speculated about “… possibly … cities lost by Omri in an otherwise unrecorded war”. ….

On the strength of Bright’s linguistic distinction above, between ‘father’ and ‘predecessor’, Ben-Hadad I’s concessions could have this, admittedly somewhat complex, meaning: namely, that he would return to Ahab, king of Israel, those northern cities of Israel that his ‘father’ (their father), as ruler of Syria, had taken (by the hand of his son, Ben-Hadad) from king Baasha, Ahab’s ‘predecessor’ in Israel.

Thus Ben-Hadad and Ahab could still physically be brothers.

 

From this, admittedly now rather convoluted, argument, I went on regularly to refer to line of Ben-Hadad I as Omrides, which they were not, and I also identified the Omride line ethnically as Indo-European.

Ben-Hadad I was of an entirely different line, a Syro-Mitannian one: Hezion, his grandfather, and Tab-rimmon (a foe of Omri’s) being Ben-Hadad’s father.

 

I, having now cleaned the slate, or set the record straight, about my messy interrelationship between Ben-hadad I and Ahab, can now follow up the findings in my thesis with real confidence.

 

Perhaps more correctly I had speculated, with regard to the new pact of friendship between Ben-hadad I and Ahab, that it would have afforded them the opportunity also to seal a marriage alliance (I, p. 57):

 

If these two kings were ‘brothers’ in the sense of ‘brothers-in-law’, then this occasion of their having agreed upon a treaty would have been the most likely opportunity for, say, an exchange of a daughter, or daughters, in marriage. That was a customary thing for kings to do in this approximate era of history (revised).

 

Here I was preparing the ground for my mini-thesis in I, Chapter 9 (section, “Queen Jezebel”, beginning on p. 209), that has since received a fair amount of publicity, that Jezebel was the same person as the famous Queen Nefertiti of Egypt. Whilst, in my thesis, I had presented the cumbersome marriage-sequence scenario of Nefertiti, passing (as Jezebel)

 

(i) from Ahab to (as Nefertiti) Amenhotep III, and then

(ii) to Akhnaton.

 

I have since refined this in abundant articles (some tentative) pertaining to a revised EA era and the Omride dynasty which I now believe to have been ethnically Egyptian: Ahab, rather, was Akhnaton; whilst Amenhotep III (or Immuria) was the mighty biblical king Omri of Israel. Neither of these two latter identifications appeared in the thesis, in which I had set Akhnaton chronologically later than king Ahab (I, p. 82). Moreover, I had accepted the standard view that the EA letters were indicating that Lab’ayu and Akhnaton (Naphuria) - both now being Akhnaton, according to my view - were, respectively, servant and master, with EA 248, for example, from Biridiya to, supposedly, Akhnaton (but notice that the original letter does not actually say that) informing about Lab’ayu (I, p. 94):

 

Biridiya importantly records the violent death of Lab’ayu:

 

LETTER 248: Further, I said to my brethren, ‘If the gods of the king, our lord [i.e., pharaoh Akhnaton], grant that we capture Lab’ayu, then we will bring him alive to the king our lord’; but my mare was felled by an arrow, and I alighted afterwards and rode with Yasdata, but before my arrival they had slain [Akkad. dâku] him.

 

Queen Jezebel

 

Queen Jezebel herself I have, as said, identified with Queen Nefertiti. Referring to all this in a post-thesis article:

 


 


 

I wrote:

 

Following on from Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky’s lowering of the El Amarna [EA] Age of pharaohs Amenhotep III and IV (Akhnaton), and Queen Nefertiti, down from the C14th BC (where the textbooks locate EA) to the C9th BC (Ages in Chaos) - according to which biblical characters and events of the latter era can be found in the extensive EA documents - I had proposed an identification of the famed Queen Nefertiti with the biblical bad girl, Queen Jezebel:

 

“The Shattering Fall of Queen Nefertiti”

 

…. This gave to Egyptology an explanation for the beginning and ending of Queen Nefertiti of whom only the middle phase of life is well known. And, given Queen Jezebel’s shattering fall and horrible death, eaten by dogs (1 kings 21: 23-28, 2 kings 9: 30-37), and physically ‘beyond redemption’, it meant that Egyptologists were wasting their time looking for the mummy of Queen Nefertiti.

Most likely, also, the letter-writing Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 21:8) could now be identified with the only female correspondent of EA, Baalat-Neše, or Neše-Baalat; a name commonly thought to mean “Mistress of Lions” (cf. Sumerian: NIN. UR. MAH. MESH). 

If this is what her name really means, “Mistress of Lions”, then it seems appropriate that she was married to a Lab’ayu (Ahab) which name means “Lion Man”.

 

 

Setting the record straight for the

Chronology of Hazael and Jehu

 

The anchor man in the “Background” history to King Hezekiah part of the thesis is the character Jehu, the overseer of the death of Queen Jezebel, the dispatcher of her son king Jehoram of Israel, and - along with Hazael - the destroyer of the cult of Baal. The pair, Hazael and Jehu, who figure most prominently in the thesis, find their perfect alter egos and character types, in Egypt, as, respectively, Ay and Horemheb. The cult of Aton, which the pair destroy, along with the House of Akhnaton, now becomes recognized as the cult of Baal, “the Lord”, or Aton (Adonai), in Egypt.

One of the features of my thesis that I have prized - but that is, in retrospect, however, extremely controversial and open to criticism - is that (as I have thought), thanks to the identification of Jehu as Horemheb in Egypt, and – according to my thesis – as the founder of the 19th Dynasty Ramessides, I am able at last to give a firm date indeed for Ramses II ‘the Great’; a problem that has, along with TAP, vexed the revision.

Jehu’s four successive son-rulers become the four major Ramessides (Jehoahaz as Ramses I; Jehoash as Seti I; Jeroboam II as Ramses II; Zechariah as Merenptah). Though there are problems with this reconstruction, the great builder king, Jeroboam II, reigning for 41 years, stacks up rather well against Ramses II of 66/67 years of reign when the 22 year interregnum of Martin Anstey (The Romance of Bible Chronology) is included in the mix. And, even if the four Ramessides are just contemporaneous with the four Jehu-ides, but not identical with them, my chronology still holds up extremely well, because the calculated total of reigns in each case is almost identical (Ramessides 121: Jehu-ides 124).

Thus I could write with confidence (I, p. 258):

 

The ‘Glasgow School’ of revision had done an excellent job in showing that the battles fought by Seti I, and Ramses II, were basically against the same sorts of enemies, Syrians and Hittites, in the same sorts of regions, as those of the early Jehu-ides. …. The conclusion then was, not that the 19th dynasty Ramessides were Jehu-ides, as I think, but that the oppressed Jehu-ides received help from the more potent of the 19th dynasty pharaohs, Seti I and Ramses II ‘the Great’. So, even if I have gone too far in my bold suggestion that the 19th dynasty was in fact ‘Syrian’ Jehu-ide, I would nonetheless confidently accept the Glasgow view - now however discarded by its chief exponents - that the Jehu-ides were contemporaneous with the main 19th dynasty rulers. Though I myself would have Seti I more adjacent to Jehoash than to Jehoahaz, hence a little later than then proposed by Dr. Bimson. Now, most interestingly in regard to this, the biblical span for the Jehu-ides, 124 years … is almost identical to Grimal’s estimate for (my equivalent era) Horemheb to Merenptah (1323-1202), 121 years. ….

Given my foundational argument, that Horemheb was Jehu, then my chronology for the 19th dynasty Ramessides is going to be very accurate indeed even if these were not - as I think they may well be - the Jehu-ides.

 

According to my new scenario of these Ramessides as Jehu-ides, the 19th dynasty must now end with Merenptah, and not with the customary Seti II, Amenmesse, Bay and Queen Tausert era.

Velikovsky had already argued that Seti II had preceded Seti I.

I identified this obscure period of Seti II with the time of Ay and princess Ankhesenamun ta-sherit (hence Queen Tausert), since Bay is often considered to have been an Ay type of manipulative character. This led to some archaeological difficulties which had to be faced. I had stressed throughout my thesis that I had attempted always to be honest about established archaeological sequences, and not to cling to any reconstruction that went against this. I do not think that many would-be revisionists have been scrupulous enough in this regard.

The new scenario afforded a reasonably promising context for the interpretation of pharaoh Merenptah’s famous “Israel Stele”, which is hopelessly misplaced by the conventional system, and by Velikovsky as well, who pitched it way down in the time of the Babylonian Captivity. Even more moderate revisionism, like that of Drs. Courville and Bimson, has been criticized for having to regard the stele as recording an Assyrian, not an Egyptian, victory. My location for it (I, Chapter 11, pp. 300-305), at the time of troubles for Israel following the long interregnum phase (Martin Sieff had first argued this), at least has the advantage of its being the record of an Egyptian victory – albeit a last gasp one of a once famous 19th dynasty now about to expire. But my view on this is open to further consideration.

Seti II, re-located to around the beginning of the 19th dynasty, as according to Velikovsky, was now able also to become an anchor figure in my biblico-historical revisionism. He, of Thutmoside (not Ramesside) appearance, I identified with the legendary Seti-nakht, the founder of the 20th dynasty (another highly problematical dynasty for revisionists), the father of the powerful pharaoh, Ramses III. Biblically, Seti-nakht was king Joash of Judah, the father of Amaziah, with whom I identified Ramses III. These last were very potent kings. From there, it was simply a matter of aligning the basically unrelated 19th and 20th dynasties according to the biblical interrelationship between Jehu’s Israelite dynasty and Joash’s Judaean dynasty.

Again, this is highly controversial and its proper worth or otherwise will need to await the test of time.

 

Prophet Elisha

 

I am no longer very confident about my efforts to find either the prophet Elijah or his successor, Elisha, in an EA context. Regarding Elisha, had written:

 

According to the Sinai Commission, Hazael, Jehu and the prophet Elisha were to be a triumvirate against Baalism. But, whilst the Bible tells of the work of Hazael and Jehu in this regard, it seems to say nothing about what Elisha himself did to justify the words of the Sinai Commission with which I introduce Chapter Four:

 

Introduction

 

This chapter will be built largely around the terms of the Sinai commission to the prophet Elijah, but with JEHU being the central character (1 Kings 19:15-17):

 

Then the Lord said to [Elijah], ‘Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael … as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu … son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha … son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill …’.

 

Thus Hazael, Jehu and Elisha were to form a triumvirate to wipe out the House of Ahab and to eradicate the worship of Baal in the region.

 

Thus I asked (I, p. 116):

 

Finally, what about Elisha, who was commissioned to “kill” … those who would manage to escape the carnage wrought by Hazael and Jehu? Actually Elisha, as I believe, will also have a huge part to play, though generally later chronologically. In Chapter 10 (and beginning on p. 237) I shall be identifying the famous prophet in quite a new guise, as a law-enforcing (shaphat) reformer-priest.

 

I began by identifying Elisha with the Rechabite Jehonadab, who had accompanied Jehu on his slaughter of the worshippers of Baal (I, p. 117):

 

Jehu, we later read, was on his way to Samaria, after his having just overseen (at Betheked of the Shepherds) the slaughter of forty-two relatives of king Ahaziah of Judah, whom he had previously slain (cf. 2 Kings 9:27 and 10:12-14). It was then that this meeting occurred (10:15-17):

 

When [Jehu] left there, he met Jehonadab son of Rechab coming to meet him; he greeted him, and said to him, ‘Is your heart as true to mine as mine is to yours?’ Jehonadab answered, ‘It is’. Jehu said, ‘If it is, give me your hand’. So he gave him his hand. Jehu took him up with him into the chariot. He said, ‘Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord’. So he had him ride in his chariot. When he came to Samaria, he killed all who were left to Ahab in Samaria, until he had wiped them out, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke to Elijah.

 

Since this ‘Jehonadab son of Rechab’ is the only person actually named as a willing supporter of Jehu’s purge, then he stands as the most likely person to be Elisha, son of Shaphat, in Elisha’s rôle as terminator of Baalism.

 

 

Setting the record straight for the

Chronology of Smenkhkare and Tutankhamun

 

A problem to be grappled with in the thesis was the considerable power, even regal-like, exercised by both Ay and Horemheb, under their various guises, during the late EA period, but especially during the reign of pharaoh Tutankhamun. Horemheb, for instance, seems to present himself as a successor of the great Amenhotep III, as if no other kings (the EA ones) had ruled in between.

I have come to the fairly obvious conclusion, based on my identification of Queen Nefertiti with Queen Jezebel, that the younger of the two sons of Akhnaton at least, Tutankhamun, must be king Jehoram of Israel whose “mother” was, according to Jehu, Queen Jezebel (2 Kings 9:22). That is, presuming Jehu here meant the king’s physical mother. Likely, then, Smenkhkare must be the older son of Ahab, Ahaziah, whom I had identified in my thesis with Mut-Baal of EA.

Since it is thought that Kiya may have been the mother of Tutankhamun, then the connection with Nefertiti may still maintain if the answer to my question, “Is the Amarna Woman, Kiya, Just Another version of Queen Nefertiti?”, is Yes.

 

 

Setting the record straight for the

Prophet Isaiah

 

 

Excursus: Life and Times of Hezekiah’s Contemporary, Isaiah.

 

Some modifications here suggested for this Excursus.

 

 

Sufficient here simply to reproduce part of the assessment I made of it in my article:

 

Reuben a Key Element in Genealogy of Judith

 


 

I wrote:

 

…. The Excursus on Isaiah … is to be found in Volume Two of my thesis, beginning on p. 87, titled: Excursus: Life and Times of Hezekiah’s Contemporary, Isaiah. This Excursus now needs to be re-written in part, as I ‘over-cooked’ some of my alter egos.

 

On the positive side (though still open to future revision):

 

Concerning Isaiah himself, I am still of the opinion that he is to be identified with the prophet Hosea and with the Simeonite Uzziah of the Book of Judith. See my more recent:

 

Family of Prophet Isaiah as Hosea’s in Northern Kingdom

 



And:

Concerning Isaiah’s father, Amos, I am still of the opinion that he is to be identified with Uzziah’s father Micah (also the prophet).

 

Whether Hosea’s father, Beeri, is also the same as Merari of the Book of Judith - as I have previously thought - and Amos, may need to be reconsidered.

 

On the negative side:

 

The Isaiah complex mentioned above can no longer be further extended, as in my thesis, to embrace also - despite the incredible similarities of language - the prophet Nahum. For my new opinion on this, see my two-part:

 

Prophet Nahum as Tobias-Job Comforted

 


 

and

 


 

and much less can Isaiah be extended to embrace the far earlier prophet Jonah.

 

 

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