More on Ahabbu
Mon Jan 16, 2017 20:15

Hi all,

Tadmor's former student Yamada, in his book The Construction of the Assyrian Empire, makes the claim on page 193, note 402, that even though Bit-Humria was the Assyrian designation for the northern Hebrew land and kingdom, the biblical king Ahab is given the nationality of Sir'i-la-a-a in the Kurkh Monolith (= Ann. 3, ii 92). According to Yamada, the indication of a single state by two alternative names is not unusual in the inscriptions of Shalmaneser III, as witnessed, he claims, by the following three examples:

1. Patin and Unqi
2. Sam'al and Bit-Gabbar
3. Yahan and Bit-Agusi

Yamada says that examples 2 and 3 settle the case and remove any doubt that when Shalmaneser III speaks of Sir'ilaya he really means Bit-Humria, even though Shalmaneser III never uses the term "Bit-Humria" anywhere in his many inscriptions. Anyone who has Grayson's RIMA III and has studied closely its scored transliterated cuneiform text, and not just Grayson's translations on the right-hand side of the page, knows this is misleading.

1. There is (land of Patina) but Unqi was the capital city of the land of Patina. So Yamada is wrong to use this as an example. This is not a case where two different names for the same country are being used at whim. One term defines the whole country, the other describes the capital city of that country.

2. There is no "Bit-Gabbar" anywhere in the inscriptions of Shalmaneser III. There is the land of Sam'al and then there is "son of Gabbar." The latter is a patronymic not a toponym or land name. Furthermore, Shalmaneser III is careful to distinguish between "Hayyanu of Sam'al," who never submitted to Assyria, from "Hayyanu son of Gabbar," who never fought Assyria and always paid tribute to Shalmaneser III on time.

3. There is no "Bit-Agusi" anywhere in the inscriptions of Shalmaneser III. There is the land Yahan, and then there is the patronymic "son of Gusi" which is always given to Aramu, the literal son of the dynasty founder Gusi. In the inscriptions of Shalmaneser III the land of Yahan is never once called after the name of the Agusi dynasty that ruled it.

Contra Yamada, examples 2 and 3 show that when Shalmaneser III says "son of" he means that literally, as he does everywhere else it is used in his inscriptions, and this is the meaning everywhere else it is used in the corpus of the Assyrian royal texts whenever foreign kings are mentioned.

If we take “2,000 chariots” of Ahabbu at face value, then with Na'aman and with Gugler, and with others, this cannot be the biblical king Ahab. Joe's fantasy idea that Ahab obtained 2,000 chariots from allied Yaōdah and from the subject states of Edom and Moab is just that, pure fantasy and rejected as such by Na'aman.

Furthermore, Yaōšapat would not have lent Ahab any of his chariots. He would have accompanied Ahab to the battle field, fought alongside Ahab, and then made sure his chariots returned back home to Yaōdah after the battle. There is also no evidence Edom and Moab had any chariotry. Visit the region (or use Google Earth) and ask yourself where would they put them and how would they use them to defend themselves on such terrain. Read the story of Yaōšapat and Yaōram attacking Meša of Moab in 2 Kgs 3:1-26 and ask yourself where any chariots used by either side. But let's assume Edom and Moab had chariots to give Ahab. If Yaōšapat is not lending any of his own unless he goes along to the battle, and we know he definitely was not at Qaqar in 853, that leaves Ahab with only Edom and Moab as sources for his 2,000 chariots. This is the same number of chariots that the Assyrian empire had at the height of its power in 839 (Shalmaneser III had 2,002 chariots to be exact as of 842: See A.0.102.6 iv 47-48). So Ahab was somehow able to match that number 14 years earlier just by calling up contingents in the vassal states of Moab and Edom? Sorry, but the suggestion is utterly ridiculous.

The only writer I know of who has tried to refute Na’aman’s alteration of “2,000 chariots” to “200 chariots” in the Kurkh Monolith, so that the idea that Ahab went all the way to Qarqar in 853 is still believable, is Brad Kelle. In an article published JBL 121/4 (2002): 639-666, Kelle argued well maybe Yaōdah was not an ally at this time but a vassal of Ahab? If so, we would not need to expect Yaōšapat to lead the chariots he was ordered to give to Ahab. Fantasy. Yaōšapat was never a vassal of the northern kingdom. Even if he was a vassal, Yaōšapat did not possess a large chariot force. The Hebrews did not see a need to maintain vast numbers of chariots. Even when Ahab’s much smaller army defeated Ben-Hadad II, rather than taking his horses and his chariots for himself, Ahab had them destroyed (1 Kgs 20:21). Ben-Hadad II spent the whole of the next year replacing them and working out a new plan of attack. Chariots are ineffective weaponry in the hills where Ahab resided, and easy targets, so Ben-Hadad II’s new strategy was to fight Ahab in the plains where chariots are much more effective.

Realizing these obstacles, Kelle, who is not deterred from speculating, imagines that all of Phoenicia was a vassal of Ahab and they supplied him with chariots too in 853 along with the vassal states of Yadoah, Moab, and Edom. Kelle was not concerned that he is turning the biblical Ahab, who had a very small army that resembled two little flocks of sheep --- only 7,232 soldiers (1 Kgs 20:15, 27) --- into the king of a world empire!

All of this when it is much simpler to see that Siri’laya was the ancient name of a land in Sam’al or next to it. Ahabbu was probably the successor of Hayyanu of Sam’al and he continued Hayyanu’s resistance to the westward expansionism of Shalmaneser III. The much weaker ruling family at nearby Yadiya remained submissive tribute payers of Shalmaneser III, but the Sam’alians under Qarli took over Yadiya and occupied the palace of Kilamuwa after the death of Yadiya’s protector Shalmaneser III.

Now Joe will object that if the biblical Ahab did not have 2,000 chariots then where did Ahabbu get that many. I would say he got them from his successor Hayyanu of Sam’al and from the areas of northern Syria allied with Hayyanu of Sam’al which included part of Karqemiš and also the Danites (Danunians) of Adana, Karatepe, etc., in the kingdom of Que.

However, another option is on the table as well, one Gugler seems to be suggesting if I am not misunderstanding his German, and it satisfies all the evidence. If there is resistance to the view that Hayyanu of Sam’al and Hayyanu son of Gabbar are two different people as suggested above, and if 2,000 chariots is a reflection of the territorial extent of Ahabbu’s kingdom, then Ahabbu can only be the king of Que in 853 and his city of Siri’laya was probably one of the frontier towns of Adana. The Danites could and did much up and down the coast unopposed by Patina. So Ahabbu had a clear and direct plath to Qaqar in Hamath in 853 from Adana. Shalmaneser III did not climb over the Amanus range and confront the kings of Que until his 20th year in 839. By then the kingdom of Que was being ruled by someone named Kate. Is it only coincidence that by 839 Shalmaneser III records having 2,002 chariots, 2 more than Ahabbu had in 853?

Either way, if we do not emend “2,000 chariots” in the Monolith to be “200 chariots,” as Na’aman does, then Gugler is correct and we must agree with him that there is no legitimate reason anymore to equate Ahabbu of Siri’laya with Ahab of Bit-Humria. The linguistic argument is forced to invoke scribal error in order to see yšr’l in the Akkadian Sir-i-la-a-a (Lemche, Lipinski, Lemaire) and 2,000 chariots speaks for itself. One too many errors are needed to maintain the Ahabbu-Ahab equation. Time to discard it.

The most logical reason the dynastic designation “Bit-Humria” as a land name had such a longer life than the actual dynasty of Amry (Omri) destroyed during the rebellion of Yaōhoa (Jehu) is because the Assyrians coined it while the dynasty founder Amry was still alive. Hence it is not used for Ahabbu of Siri’laya by Shalmaneser III because Ahabbu simply was not a member of the dynasty of Bit-Humria. Shalmaneser III does mention a literal son of Amry named “Yaō (Iaua) son of Humri,” king of Sidon.

A.0.102.8 (ll. 24''-27'') Calah Fragment

(24') .... ina u4-me-su-ma
(25') ma-da-tu sa KUR ṣur-ra-a-a
(26') KUR ṣi-du-na-a-a sa mia-u-a
(27') DUMU mḫu-um-ri-i am-ḫur

"At that time tribute of the land of Tyre (and) the land of Sidon FROM Yaō the son of Humri, I received."

If this is not a king of Sidon who was Amry’s literal son, a half-brother of Ahab, but rather “Jehu” as almost everyone wants to insist, i.e. the same man who was not a son of Amry but destroyed the Amry dynasty by killing all of Ahab’s sons, why are we still reading the Bible?


    • More on AhabbuAnonymous, Sun Feb 19 02:26
      Hi Tory, FWIW, your assessment makes sense to me. Toby
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