Re: Nekau II
Sun Apr 1, 2007 13:18 (XFF:

Hi Joe,

JB: "Now I see your view of 609. What a year for Nekau. His first army on the Euphrates crossed that river with the Assyrian army and attacked Harran. Meanwhile back on his borders he used a second Egyptian army to suppress a revolt and an invasion by foreign workers."

No Asiatic invasion. Just another Egyptian crackdown on an all too familiar scene: a nest of Asiatics gathered at the northeastern border near Pelusium. Probably took Nekau no more than a few hours to complete the massacre. I wish I could claim originality for this but it was Reinach's view that Nekau hit the Syrians at Migdol at the northeastern border just before he came to Megiddo.

According to Herodotus, Nekau's canal left the Pelusiac branch of the Nile above Bubastis and past the "Arabian town" of Patumus/Pithom (not to be confused with Tell el-Maskhuta erroneously identified as the biblical Pithom by Naville). Jewish refugees also settled in Migdol after Jerusalem's fall, so it's not off the mark to assume Migdol and other places along the northeastern frontier had long been a locus of west Asiatic settlement, and especially when Nekau began building the canal in 610. I connect the oracle which supposedly caused Nekau to abandon work on the canal to this increase of Asiatic settlers at the border at a time when Assyrians further north were being forced out of Mesopotamia and into northern Syria. In the wider context it can be said that it was in Nekau's best interest in 609, after the failure to retake Harran, to cut his ties with Assur-uballit II and take control of everthything south of the Euphrates.

[Sais to Migdol in one day.]

JB: "Then took this second army into Pilistia he attacked and took Gaza."

Herodotus doesn't mention any battle or claim that Gaza had been sacked. The city presumably surrendered without offering any resistance whatsoever and Nekau took needed supplies and left without any further delay.

[Migdol to Gaza along the main thoroughfare (i.e. the Great Trunk Road) in say two or three days.]

JB: "Then he defeated Josiah of Judah and killed him at Megiddo. "

Or, as some desperately want it, else they would have little to write about when it comes to the biblical account of his death, Nekau summoned Josiah to come to Megiddo and then executed him. I don't buy that scenario, but since 2 Kings doesn't describe an actual battle, whatever happened at Megiddo shouldn't have delayed Nekau's march by much.

[Gaza to Megiddo in less than a week.]

JB: "Then he reached the Euphrates where he combined the first and second armies to defeat his Assyrian allies and became master of all remaining Assyrian territory."

Could never agree those wishing to jack up the very obvious sense of the laconic statement in 2 Kgs. 23:9 that Nekau II marched AGAINST Assyria's last king. Some of those same scholars who believe 2 Kgs. 23:9 is historically misleading also use it as evidence that Nekau crossed the Euphrates with Assur-uballit II. But the verse makes the river itself (not Harran in Mesopotamia) the limit of the pharaoh's march and the scene of conflict. According to the author of 2 Kings Nekau had no plans to cross the river.

[Megiddo to Carchemish in a month. So maybe less than two months from Sais to Carchemish with at least three quick victory stops along the way.]

JB: "Then on the way home he stopped off to settle affairs in Judah and for the second time that year he invaded Pilistia and this time took Ashkelon."

Would have been hard to avoid Philistia on the return trip home. If he dealt with Judah in the highlands how could any rebellious city along the coast hope to escape?

JB: "Certainly a unique solution and, as usual, primarily based on the "supremacy" of the biblical text (2 Kings 23:29 and Jer 47) above any other text."

I disagree. This solution simply treats 2 Kings 23:29 and the Babylonian Chronicle as equally reliable sources for the purposes of historical reconstruction. I don't know where you are getting that I put 2 Kings above any other text.

JB: "Well you certainly have a case with 2 Kings 23:29 (although Josephus has a different version, more inline with conventional ideas)."

More in line with convention? It's anyone's guess what source(s) Josephus used, but it was completely independent of 2 Kings and only superficially in agreement with the traditional text of 2 Chronicles. It's not like Josephus didn't know how to write Megiddo in Greek, and he would have if he was familiar with the parallel account in 2 Kings but had an incorrect Hebrew text of 2 Chronicles where the second letter in MGDW = Megiddo (gimel) was a nun and the fourth letter (waw) was a yod. Therefore, if Josephus, and not a later copyist, wrote Mendes (MENDH) we have to assume he actually thought the Egyptian city in the delta belonged to the domain of the kingdom of Judah. In that version Nekau II marched out of Sais only to be held up a short while later by Josiah at Mendes. Hardly in line with conventional ideas.

JB: "I notice that the LXX assumes something similar but reads instead "and in his days went up Pharaoh Nekau, king of Egypt, AGAINST the king of Assyria, TO the River Euphrates".

You are following an English translation of the Greek translation. The LXX is actually in complete agreement with the MT at this verse: EN DE TAIS hHMERAIS AUTOU ANEBH FARAW NEXAW BASILEUS AIGUPTOU EPI BASILAE ASSURIWN EPI POTAMON EUFRATHN. The Greek preposition EPI (against/upon) appears twice, just as the Hebrew preposition 'l (ayin-lamed) appears twice, and in the same position as EPI in the Greek text, in the MT at 2 Kgs. 23:29. There can be no doubt about what the Greek text means. It also emphasizes, at least from the translator's point of view, that Nekau's war was at the Euphrates and not in Mesopotamia.

JB: "As for Jeremiah 47, I can not follow why verses 2-7 are anything other than Nabu-kudurri-usur's 604 campaign that saw him take Ashkelon."

I agree with Malamat's take on this. What is wrong with the Egyptians coming back from the Euphrates in 609 being the first wave and the Babylonians in 604 the second? These verses in Jeremiah describe Philistia being washed away by the waters of a raging torrent. Perhaps waves crashing against the seashore is also an appropriate image. There seems to be no real interpretive obstacle with including both the 609 and 604 campaigns in Jer. 47:1-7.

JB: "Your only evidence to link it to Nekau's 609 campaign is the introductory passage at Jeremiah 47:1 which says "The word of Yhwh that came to Yrm-Yhw the prophet concerning Plšt-ians before Pr`h attacked `zh". Here I have put in red the additional text that is found in the MT version when it is compared with the LXX version."

2QJer apparently agrees with the longer text in the MT at this point (I say apparently because I haven't seen 2QJer). The only variant reading in Jer 47:1-7 in 2QJer appears in verse 5 which has "roll about" instead of the MT "gash yourselves." The existence at Qumran of Hebrew mss. corresponding both to the longer MT text of Jeremiah and the shorter Greek translation shows that both editions were in existence at the early stages of the transmission of the text. I would only be speculating if I said the words you've highlighted in red were omitted from the LXX because of the political climate in Egypt at the time the Greek translation was made, but the Greek translators seem to have been sympathetic to local sensitivities elsewhere in the LXX (e.g., Exod. 12:40).

JB: "There was no Ululu II in 609, at least not in the Babylonian calendar. All the intercalary months of Nabu-apla-usur are known. These include the intercalary Ululu of 611 and the intercalary Ululu of 608."

I mistakenly used the outdated 1942 chart by Parker and Dubberstein here. Where is Chris Bennet when I need him? As for Ululu II in 608, Albrecht Goetz remarked that the tablet recording an intercalary Ululu and dated Year 19 (NCBT 1156) is of dubious quality as evidence because no royal name appears in the text (see JNES 3 [1944] 43). What are the arguments for placing this Babylonian tablet in the time of Nabopolassar as opposed to Shamash-shum-ukin or Kandalanu?

JB: "But the website, which also includes chronicle translations adapted from Jean-Jacques Glassner's 2004 translation, assumes Kimuhu was Commagene (i.e. Kummuhu/Samsat)."

Did you notice that Kimuhu is not an active link on this website? The site doesn't provide any explanation for the identification of Kimuhu with Commagene and this may just be a mistake.

JB: "As for Kummuhu/Samsat it meets the Chronicles requirement that it lay on the west bank of the Euphrates. But we do not know the exact location of the other Kimuhu or even if it was on the Euphrates."

Well, Chronicle 4 (B.M. 22047, line 13) says Kimuhu was on the bank of the Euphrates and line 14 shows how Nabopolassar, marching out of Akkad, had to cross the river to battle against the town. Like Kummuhu/Samsat, Kimuhu was on the west bank of the river.

JB: "From the Chronicles account we know that it was fortified enough to receive a garrison and strong enough to resist a major four month siege. It must have been a major city and Kummuhu/Samsat was just that, as it was probably the main western Assyrian military base (being the province of the Turtanu)."

But then, Nabopolassar marched out of Akkad in the month of Tashritu in 607 (probably near the end of the month) and captured Kimuhu within the same month he laid siege to it (i.e. Kislimu). That would seem to indicate that Kimuhu was not heavily fortified and that there was no Assyrian army there when Napolassar besieged it, else it should probably have taken him longer than this to capture it.

JB: "It appears to be mentioned only once and one could assume that it was too small to be of any military significance or capable of withstanding a major siege for anything like four months."

It seems that it took the Egyptians four months, not so much because of the strength of the city's defenses, but because now there was a garrison here where there wasn't any in 607. So the question is if the Assyrian army was at Kimuhu in 607 and this city is the same as Kimmuhu/Samsat, the home of the left (= northern) turtanu since 708, why couldn't the Assyrian army hold off the Babylonians in 607 for at least as long as the Babylonians held off the Egyptians in 606? We know that the military might of the left turtanu at Kummuhu/Samsat consisted at a minumum of the forces Sargon II gave him when the office was established in 708, i.e. 150 chariots, 1,500 cavalry men, 20,000 bowmen and 10,000 shield-bearers.

Also, keep in mind that Til-barsip was the capital of the turtanu Shamshi-ilu and formed a province of its own by 701 when its governor Hananu is attested as eponym. He would have answered to the right (= southern) turtanu. Postgate accepts that the centre of the province of the right turtanu was the Til-barsip and Balih areas (in Liverani, Neo-Assyrian Geography [1995] 6). The left turtanu had Kummuhu/Samsat, but the traditional capital of the turtanu before and after the office was divided in two in 708 seems to have remained east of the river at Til-barsip or Harran.

FWIW, the Assyro-Egyptian army evacuated Harran in 610 and crossed the river but the Babylonian Chronicle does not specify where. If we factor in the Scythians, Carchemish was the most likely place for the Assyrian retreat. Kummuhu/Samsat was probably lost to Assyria just before Scythian pressure forced Cyaxares to lift the siege of Nineveh in 614. Nineveh was given a brief reprive when Cyaxares suddenly had to march northwest to deal possibly with a Scythian army at Tarbisu (Diodorus ii, 25-27). He then turned south down the Tigris and past Nineveh to besiege Assur.

JB: "I presume Wiseman only placed it south of Carchemish because if the Babylonians came up the Euphrates they would have been unable to get past Carchemish and therefore unable to reach the northern Kummuhu/Samsat. So a Kimuhu south of Carchemish made some sense to him."

Wiseman didn't imagine a march up the river blocked by the Egyptian outpost at Carchemish. One of his reasons for placing Kimuhu south of Carchemish is because the Babylonians wouldn't have marched from Akkad and past the Egyptian garrison into a hill-area at least sympathetic to the Scythians (Chronicles..., [1956] 83). It's also difficult to imagine why Egyptians would have been concerned about a place so far north as Kummuhu/Samsat. They could scarcely have felt their position in west Syria threatened by a Babylonian garrison way up there. The quick response in 606 would seem to strongly be in favor of locating Kimuhu south of Carchemish.

JB: "But then who held Kimuhu in 607? If you follow your line of reasoning than you would also have to exclude the Egyptians."

I do exclude the Egyptian army. I also exclude the Assyrian army which, if one accepts 2 Kgs. 23:29, had been wiped off the map (at Carchemish) in 609 by Nekau II. Kimuhu was easily captured by Nabopolassar in 607 probably because it was not a militarily significant place, at least not until Nabopolassar stationed his garrison there to check any Egyptian push down the river and to threaten Egyptian supply lines through Syria. Before that it may have been just another city near a river crossing south of Carchemish but north of the Balih and there are a number of possible sites within these limits.


  • Re: Nekau IIJoe Baker, Sat Mar 31 06:41
    Hi Tory Now I see your view of 609. What a year for Nekau. His first army on the Euphrates crossed that river with the Assyrian army and attacked Harran. Meanwhile back on his borders he used a... more
    • Re: Nekau II — Tory, Sun Apr 1 13:18
      • Re: Nekau IIJoe Baker, Mon Apr 9 07:12
        Hi Tory for Ululu II in 608, Albrecht Goetz remarked that the tablet recording an intercalary Ululu and dated Year 19 (NCBT 1156) is of dubious quality as evidence because no royal name appears in... more
        • Re: Nekau IITory, Wed Apr 11 17:03
          Hi Joe, You've read the Brinkman and Kennedy paper in JCS closer than I did. According to Goetz it is impossible, because of the appearence of the tablet, to assign NCBT 1156 to either Kandalanu or... more
          • Re: Nekau IIJoe Baker, Mon Apr 23 07:13
            Hi Tory At last I have finally seen a copy of Wiseman's Chaldaean Chronicles and am able to say Wiseman's identification of a Kimuhu, as a city south of Carchemish, and different from the northern... more
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