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Jonah vs King of Nineveh

Chronological, Historical and


Archaeological Evidence

Gérard GERTOUX
PhD candidate in Archaeology and history of Ancient World

EDITION 2015
2 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE

Jacket photograph: Aššur-danin-pal (second character from the right) is enthroned as Crown Prince by
Shalmaneser III. Bas-relief of the Throne-Base Shalmaneser III. National Museum of Iraq, Baghdad. The
carved inscription (IM 65574) dated this event in 846 BCE. According to the account of Šamši-Adad V
(823-811), his brother Aššur-danin-pal was King of Nineveh during a short period of rebellion (824-823)
after the death of his father (in 824 BCE), exactly at the time when Jonah met the king of Nineveh (Jonah
3:6) at the beginning of Jeroboam II’s reign (823-782) as King of Israel (2Ki 14:23-25). The mention of
“king of Nineveh”, instead of “king of Assyria”, is unique in the Bible as well as in Assyrian records.
Dating the warning of Jonah against Nineveh
Abstract. Historians consider the biblical account about Jonah's warning against Nineveh as a pious
fiction, however, the Gospels refer to it as a real story (Lk 11:29-32). The book of Jonah, despite its
brevity, gives some verifiable information regarding Nineveh, a very old city, which disappeared completely
after its destruction in 612 BCE. The dimensions mentioned seem colossal, however they agree with the
accounts of Herodotus (The Histories I:178), Diodorus quoting Persica §3 of Ctesias (Historical Library
II:3) and Strabo (Geography XVI:1:3). Moreover, these dimensions, seemingly boundless, yet have been
confirmed by archaeology. The text of 2 Kings 14:23-25 relates the mission of Jonah with the accession of
Jeroboam II, as pointed out Josephus (Jewish Antiquities IX:205-207), which illuminates the reason and
the urgency of his mission, because this particular year coincides with the death of Shalmaneser III
(824/823 BCE). The coincidence in time sheds light on the strange role of Jonah. When Jonah comes to
Assyria, in 824 BCE, the situation was this: the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III who resided in the new
capital Kalhu was dying, his son Shamshi-Adad V was commissioned, as new Crown prince, to quell the
revolt headed by his brother Assur-danin-pal who led, him, 27 cities including the famous Nineveh. Jonah's
mission was therefore a success since Assyrian expansionism to the Mediterranean coast will cease, at least
for 80 years. The fact that Jonah was swallowed by a big fish is often mocked but this unique event is
rationally possible, moreover, the biblical text describes it as a divine intervention (Jonah 1:17).

The story of Jonah is regarded by most dictionaries of the Bible1 as a "pious fiction",
for example, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia2: The book does not bear the least evidence of
having been written by the prophet or even during his time; and its age must be gathered from different
indications. It has long since been held that it is one of the latest books of the Hebrew canon (...) Only
Esther, Chronicles, and Daniel are of later date. Again, the way in which Nineveh is referred to shows that
the city had long since vanished from the face of the earth and had faded into legend (comp. iii. 3). The King
of Nineveh, also (iii. 6), could have been referred to only in a late myth; and the legendary atmosphere of the
whole story, from beginning to end, is in accord with the length of time that had elapsed since the events
recounted took place. This becomes evident both in the episode of the fish which swallows a man and then
casts him up alive after three days, and in that of the plant which in one night grows high enough to
overshadow Jonah. These things might, it is true, be considered as divine miracles; but such an explanation
can not be offered for the three days' time that it takes to pass through Nineveh (iii. 3), nor for the fasting,
sackcloth, and penitent cries of the animals (iii. 7 et seq.), much less for the conception that an Israelitish
prophet could preach penitence to the city of Nineveh, and that the king and the citizens would listen to him.
Everything about the story is, and was intended to be, miraculous and legendary. Despite this very
negative opinion the Gospels refer to the Book of Jonah as a real story, which is even
described as essential to faith: Jesus said: This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign,
but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the
Son to this generation (...) The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and
condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here (Lk 11:29-
32). The remark of the Gospels requires the historian to ask: is this story legendary (and
includes, for example, anachronisms, contradictions, impossibilities of language or location,
etc.) or is it consistent with all available historical data? The credibility of a human being
surviving in the belly of a great fish has long been questioned but the debate over the
credibility of the miracle of Jonah is not a question for historians. In c. 409 CE, Augustine
1 L. MONLOUBOU – Jonas
in: Dictionnaire encyclopédique de la Bible (1987), Éd. Brepols, pp. 676-677.
2 http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8751-jonah-book-of
4 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
of Hippo already wrote to Deogratias concerning the challenge of some to the miracle
recorded in the Book of Jonah: The last question proposed is concerning Jonah, and it is put as if it
were not from Porphyry, but as being a standing subject of ridicule among the Pagans; for his words are: “In
the next place, what are we to believe concerning Jonah, who is said to have been three days in a whale’s
belly? The thing is utterly improbable and incredible, that a man swallowed with his clothes on should have
existed in the inside of a fish. If, however, the story is figurative, be pleased to explain it. Again, what is
meant by the story that a gourd sprang up above the head of Jonah after he was vomited by the fish? What
was the cause of this gourd’s growth?” Questions such as these I have seen discussed by Pagans amidst loud
laughter, and with great scorn  (Letter CII§30) Augustine responds that if one is to question one
miracle, then one should question all miracles as well (§31). Indeed, if the miracles are
impossible, the universe itself ought not to exist because the Big Bang is a miracle.
The book of Jonah, despite its brevity, gives several verifiable information regarding
Nineveh3, the most famous Assyrian capitals, which disappeared completely after its
destruction in 612 BCE: Nineveh herself proved to be a city great to God, with a walking distance of 3
days. Finally Jonah started to enter into the city the walking distance of 1 day, and he kept proclaiming and
saying: “Only forty days more, and Nineveh will be overthrown.” And the men of Nineveh began to put
faith in God, and they proceeded to proclaim a fast and to put on sackcloth, from the greatest one of them
even to the least one of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, then he rose up from his throne
and put off his official garment from himself and covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the ashes.
Furthermore, he had the cry made, and he had it said in Nineveh, by the decree of the king and his great
ones, saying: “No man and no domestic animal, no herd and no flock, should taste anything at all. None
should take food. Even water they should not drink. And let them cover themselves with sackcloth, man and
domestic animal; and let them call out to God with strength and come back, each one from his bad way and
from the violence that was in their hands” (...) Nineveh the great city, a in which there exist more than
120,000 men who do not at all know the difference between their right hand and their left, besides many
domestic animals? (Jonah 3:3-8;4:11). Such an information is difficult to verify because ancient
authors knew Nineveh longer than hearsay. Herodotus (485-425) wrote, for example, that it
had been located on the Tigris (The Histories I:193) and Strabo (-64 to 24) that Nineveh
was much greater than ancient Babylon (Geography XVI:1:3). Diodorus (-91 to 21),
quoting Persica (§3) of Ctesias (450-390), seems best informed: He founded on the Euphrates
river a city which was well fortified with walls, giving it the form of a rectangle. The longer sides of the city
were each 150 stades in length [27 km], and the shorter 90 [16 km]. And so, since the total circuit
comprised 480 stades [85 kilometers], he was not disappointed in his hope, since a city its equal, in respect
to either the length of its circuit or the magnificence of its walls, was never founded by any man after his time.
For the wall had a height of one 100 feet [30 meters] and its width was sufficient for three chariots abreast
to drive upon (...) And to the city he gave his own name, Ninus, and he included within the territory of its
colonists a large part of the neighbouring country (Historical Library II:3). All these dimensions are
colossal, but Herodotus states yet: In Assyria there are many other great cities, but the most famous
and the strongest was Babylon, where the royal dwelling had been established after the destruction of Ninus,
Babylon was a city such as I will now describe. It lies in a great plain, and is in shape a square, each side
120 stades in length; thus 480 stades make the complete circuit of the city. Such is the size of the city of
Babylon; and it was planned like no other city of which we know (The Histories I:178).
The term "1 day walk" was used to designate a journey of about 30 km and the total
enclosure of Nineveh could be done in 3 days and its crossing in 1 day, which corresponds
to the indications of the book of Jonah. These dimensions, seemingly boundless, yet have
been confirmed by archaeology. The city wall, rebuilt by Sennacherib (around -700), has a

3The city is mentioned in Genesis 10:11-12 and the Temple of Ishtar at Nineveh dates back to the Akkadian period since a
foundation inscription of king Samsi-Addu indicates that this sanctuary was built by Maništušu (2178 - 2163).
DATING THE WARNING OF JONAH AGAINST NINEVEH 5
trapezoidal shape with a length of 12 kilometres.
This wall, 45 meters thick, was probably 20 meters
high4. These dimensions, deduced from the
excavations, however, are smaller than those
reported by ancient authors, but as noted by André
Parrot5: Similarly today Paris, within its ancient walls, is
markedly different from what is sometimes called the "Great
Paris", a term that encompasses all the suburbs and
corresponds to an area much larger, is it not conceivable that by
"Nineveh", people living far from Assyria meant what we now
call the "Assyrian triangle" [opposite] and that place,
Khorsabad (north) at Nimrud (south), the almost unbroken
string of its towns and over a length of some 40 kilometres?
The indication of "more than 120,000 people not knowing
their right hand from their left" does not seem exaggerated.
Felix Jones felt that the people of Nineveh could reach 174,000 people, and most recently in his excavations
at Nimrud, M.E.L. Mallowan found a stele of Ashurnasirpal saying he had invited to a banquet the
fabulous figure of 69,574 guests. The English archaeologist, deduction of foreign made, consider that the
population of Calah (Nimrud) would amount to 65,000 residents. Now the area of Nineveh is twofold and
can be seen that the figure quoted in Jonah (IV:11) is an indirect but valuable confirmation.
The book of Jonah begins with a strange mission6: And the word of Jehovah began to occur
to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying: “Get up, go to Nineveh the great city, and proclaim against her that
their badness has come up before me.” And Jonah proceeded to get up and run away to Tarshish from before
Jehovah; and he finally came down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid its fare and
went down into it, in order to go with them to Tarshish (Jonah 1:1-3). The book of Jonah begins
with a mission which is thwarted for no apparent reason. One might wonder why Jonah,
the son of Amittai, wanted to go to Tarshish and where is located this region?
Most scholars associate Tarshish with Spain, based on ancient references to a place
or region in Spain called Tartessus by Greek and Roman writers. While Greek geographer
Strabo placed a city called Tartessus in the region around the Guadalquivir River in
Andalusia (Geography III:2:11), the name Tartessis appears to have applied generally to the
southern part of the Iberian Peninsula. Herodotus wrote (around 450 BCE), for example:
Phocaeans were the earliest of the Greeks to make long sea-voyages, and it was they who discovered the
Adriatic Sea, and Tyrrhenia, and Iberia, and Tartessus, not sailing in round freightships but in fifty oared
vessels. When they came to Tartessus they made friends with the king of the Tartessians, whose name was
Arganthonius (...) then put out to sea from the island and would have sailed to Egypt, but an easterly wind
drove them from their course, and did not abate until they had passed through the Pillars of Heracles
[Gibraltar] and came providentially to Tartessus (The Histories I:163; IV:152). The Assyrian king
Assarhaddon wrote7 (in 676 BCE): I conquered Tyre which is (an island) amidst the sea. I took away
all the towns and the possessions of Ba’lu its king (...) All the kings from (the islands) amidst the sea —
from the country Iadanana [Cyprus], as far as Tarsisi [Tarshish], bowed to my feet and I received heavy
tribute (from them). In fact, Tarshish as a colony of Tyre could be considered by Esarhaddon
4 F. JOANNÈS - Dictionnaire de la civilisation mésopotamienne
Paris 2001 Éd. Robert Laffont pp. 574-577.
5 A. PARROT – Ninive et l'Ancien Testament

Paris 1970 Éd. Delachaux et Niestlé S.A. pp. 63-64.


6 Aramaic, as an international language (at this time), was used both by Assyrian and Hebrew administration (2 Ki 18:26) and

also by Phoenician traders (who did not speak Hebrew, according to Jonah 1:8-9).
7 J.B. PRITCHARD - Ancient Near Eastern Texts

Princeton 1969 Ed. Princeton University Press pp. 274-301.


6 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
as a vassal kingdom, the farthest to the west of his vast empire. As the seamen of that time
sailed using coastal navigation, the route to go directly to Tarshish must proceed along
Libya, that confirms the biblical text: The king [Solomon] had a fleet of ships of Tarshish on the sea
along with Hiram’s fleet of ships. Once every three years the fleet of ships of Tarshish would come carrying
gold and silver, ivory, and apes and peacocks (1K 10:22), because apes and peacocks come
exclusively from Africa (Libya). The Tyrians used the harbour of Joppa: The sons of Dan but
whose father was a man of Tyre, experienced, to work in gold and in silver, in copper, in iron, in stones and
in timbers, in wool dyed reddish purple, in blue thread and in fine fabric and in crimson and at cutting every
sort of engraving and at designing every sort of device that may be given to him along with your own skilful
men and the skilful men of my lord David your father. And now the wheat and the barley, the oil and the
wine that my lord has promised, let him send to his servants. As for ourselves, we shall cut down trees from
Lebanon according to all your need, and we shall bring them to you as rafts by sea to Joppa, and you, for
your part, will take them up to Jerusalem (2Ch 2:16). The route along the north coast was used
(from Tyre) to go to Cyprus or Crete (Ro 15:23-28).

Why go so far and for what purpose? The main reason was because trade with
Tarshish was very lucrative: Take ship for Tarshish, howl, you inhabitants of the coast. Is this your
joyful city founded far back in the past? Whose footsteps led her abroad to found her own colonies? Who
took this decision against imperial Tyre, whose traders were princes, whose merchants the great ones of the
world? (Is 23:6-8). You must say to Tyre: O you who are dwelling at the entrances of the sea, the
tradeswoman of the peoples for many islands (...) Tarshish was your merchant because of the abundance of
all sorts of valuable things. For its silver, iron, tin and lead, your stores were given (...) the ships of Tarshish
were your caravans for your articles of exchange, so that you get filled and become very glorious in the heart of
the open sea. Into vast waters those rowing you have brought you. The east wind itself has broken you in the
heart of the open sea. Your valuable things and your stores, your articles of exchange, your mariners and
your sailors, the caulkers of your seams and those exchanging your articles of merchandise and all your men
of war, who are in you and in all your congregation, who are in the midst of you, — they will fall in the
heart of the open sea in the day of your downfall (Ezk 27:3, 12, 25-27). As Tarshish means
"Chrysolite (topaz8)" it is likely that small merchants could easily spend on this business.
8 Topaz is still found in Spain.
DATING THE WARNING OF JONAH AGAINST NINEVEH 7
Thus, Jonah had to be a merchant who estimated that his business had to be dealt
expeditiously (Jonah 4:2). This criticism from God is not unique because Baruch, Jeremiah's
collaborator, received the same complaint about his private business (Jr 45:5). Since Jonah
lived in Gath-hepher (2Ki 14:25), north of Nazareth, he went towards Joppa (rather than
Tyre) to go to Tarshish. The two cities being separated by about 90 km he had to need
almost 3 days to travel that distance.
8 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
The text of 2 Kings 14:23-25 relates the mission of Jonah with the accession of
Jeroboam II, as pointed out Josephus (Jewish Antiquities IX:205-207), which illuminates
the reason and the urgency of his mission, because this particular year coincides with the
death of Shalmaneser III (824/823 BCE). The coincidence in time sheds light on the
strange role of Jonah. This mighty Assyrian king had triumphed at Qarqar, in 853 BCE, of a
broad coalition of Aramean kingdoms9, including the powerful kingdom of Syria led by
Hazael (who has been defeated later in 841 BCE). This Assyrian expansionism was
therefore a dangerous threat to the kingdom of Israel. The biblical chronology is as follows
(main synchronisms have been highlighted)10:
King of Judah Reign # King of Israel Reign # Reference
Amasiah 839 - 29 Jehoash 09/839-01/823 16 2Ki 13:10
-810 Jeroboam II 01/823-05/782 41 2Ki 14:23
Uzziah 810 - 52 [Zechariah] 06/782-02/771 [11] 2Ki 14:29
[Azariah] [796 - Zechariah 03/771-08/771 6 m. 2Ki 15:8
Shallum 09/771 1 m. 2Ki 15:13
Menahem 10/771-03/760 10 2Ki 15:17
-758 Peqayah 04/760-03/758 2 2Ki 15:23
Jotham 758-742 16 Peqah 04/758-05/738 20 2Ki 15:27
Ahaz 742-726 16 [Hoshea] 06/738-01/729 9 2Ki 15:27-30
Hezekiah 726-697 29 Hoshea 02/729-09/720 9 2Ki 17:1,3
Manasseh 697-642 55 2Ki 21:1
Amon 642-640 2 2Ki 21:19
Josias 640-609 31 2Ki 22:1
Jehoachaz -609 3 m. 2Ch 36:2
Jehoiaqim 609-598 11 2Ch 36:5
Jehoiachin -598 3 m. 2Ch 36:9
Zedekiah 598-587 11 2Ch 36:11
Jehoiachin (exile) 587-561 26 2Ki 25:27-28

King of Reign King of Reign King of Syria Reign King of Reign


Israel Tyre (Damascus) Assyria
Omri 930-919 Ithobaal I 944-912 Ben-Hadad I 950-920 Aššur-dan II 935-912
Ahab 919-898 Baal-Ezer II 912-906 Ben-Hadad II 920 - Adad-nîrârî II 912-891
Jehoram (A) 897-886 Mattan I 906 - /Hazael -885 Tukulti-Ninurta II 891-884
Jehu 885 - (Elissa) -877 Hazael 885 - Aššurnasirpal II 884 -
-856 Pygmalion 877 - /Hadadezer 870 - -859
Jehoachaz 856 - -845 Shalmaneser III 859 -
-839 845-840
Jehoash 839-823 -830 Ben-Hadad III 840 - -824
Jeroboam II 823 - Hiram II 830 - -810 Šamši-Adad V 824-811
-782 -800 Mari’ 810-780 Adad-nîrari III 811-783
[Zechariah] 782-771 ? Heziôn II 780 - Shalmaneser IV 783-773
Menahem 771-760 -750 Aššur-dan III 773-755
Peqah 758 - Ithobaal II 750 - Rezîn 750 - Aššur- nîrârî V 755-745
-738 -739 Tiglatpileser III 745 -
[Hoshea] 738-729 Hiram III 739-730 -732
Hoshea 729 - Mattan II 730-729 - 732 - -727
-720 Elulaios (Luli) 729 - -720 Shalmaneser V 727-722
-694 Sargon II 722-705
Abd-Malqart 694-680 Sennacherib 705-681
Baal I 680-660 Assarhaddon 681-669
9 According to the annals of this king, the battle of Qarqar is presented as an overwhelming triumph, but as any tribute or booty

is mentioned, the result has been mixed.


10 King Hoshea died at the fall of Samaria in 720 BCE, King Josias died at the battle of Haran in 609 BCE.
DATING THE WARNING OF JONAH AGAINST NINEVEH 9
Thanks to eponymous Chronicle11 it is possible to reconstruct the career of generals
in chief during the period 858-726. Comments and Annals, combined with the inscriptions
of steles, allow to reconstruct (partially) the Assyrian history12. From the 9th century BCE,
the General in chief (turtânu) was the second eponymy, immediately after the king (šarru), a
use which, however, was abolished by Shalmaneser V. The "crown prince (aplu)", when it
existed, was characterized on panels or stelae, as co-regent, with a diadem and two ribbons
behind the head, facing the king wearing the tiara13 (who also beard the two ribbons behind
the head). Ashurbanipal had moved the capital of the Assyrian empire to Kalhu (instead of
Assur) and Tel Barsip (north-eastern Syria) became the military capital, Nineveh remaining
a religious capital where the worship of Ishtar, a warrior goddess, was celebrated14.
King Reign Crown prince Commander-in-chief Period
(at Kalhu) (at Kalhu) (at Nineveh) (at Tel Barsip)
Aššurnasirpal II 884-877 [Aššur-iddin] 883 -
877-859 Shalmaneser III -858
Shalmaneser III 859 - Aššur-bêlu-ka’’in 858-854
-847 Dayyan-Aššur 854 -
847-827 Aššur-danin-pal
827-824 Šamšî-Adad V 827 - -823
Šamšî-Adad V 824-816 -820 Yaḫâlu 823-815
816-811 Adad-nîrârî III ? Bêlu-lû-balâṭ 815-810
The last years of Shalmaneser III can be reconstituted15 as follows: due to old age,
Shalmaneser passed command of his armies to the General in chief Dayyan-Assur from 831
BCE. In his 32nd year of rule (827 BCE), Shalmaneser III's own son, Assur-danin-pal
("Aššur has strengthened the son") rebelled against his father. Shamshi-Adad V recalled:
Where [my brother] Aššur-danin-apli, in the time of Šulmânu-ašarêdu, his father, acted wickedly, bringing
about sedition, rebellion, and wicked plotting, caused the land to rise in revolt, prepared for war, brought the
people of Assyria, north and south, to his side, and made bold speeches, brought the cities into the rebellion
and set his face to begin strife and battle [...] 27 cities, along with their fortifications [...] revolted against
Šulmânu-ašarêdu, king of the four regions of the world, my father, and [...] had gone to the side of Aššur-
danin-apli16. Thus, the rebellious brother, according to Shamshi-Adad's own inscriptions,
succeeded in bringing to his side 27 important cities, including Nineveh (the rebellion lasted
until 820 BCE, preventing Assyria expanding its empire further until it was quelled).
Because of his influence and power, Assur-danin-pal was a former crown prince (from 846
BCE). When Shalmaneser chose again his general Dayyan-Assur as eponym in 826 BCE, as
he did in 854 BCE, that meant a new preparation for war to conquer the Levant. Therefore,
this involved more sacrifices in men and resources for Assyrian provinces, which had lead
to much discontent. Shalmaneser III therefore appointed Shamshi-Adad V as new crown
prince to quell the revolt led by Assur-danin-pal. Consequently, when Jonah comes to
Assyria, in 824 BCE, the situation was this: the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III who resided
in the new capital Kalhu was dying, his son Shamshi-Adad V was commissioned, as new
Crown prince, to quell the revolt headed by his brother Assur-danin-pal who led, him, 27
cities including the famous Nineveh. Shamshi Adad V managed to quell the rebellion in 822
11 J.J. GLASSNER – Chroniques mésopotamiennes n°22
Paris 1993 Éd. Belles Lettres pp. 161-170.
12 P. GARELLI, A. LEMAIRE - Le Proche-Orient Asiatique Tome 2

Paris 1997 Éd. Presses Universitaires de France. pp. 7-90.


13 J. READE – Fez, Diadem, Turban, Chaplet: Power-dressing at the Assyrian Court

in: Studia Orientalia vol. 106 (2009) pp. 252-254.


14 The Sumerian name of Ishtar was NIN.AN "the Lady of Heaven", which is close to the Assyrian name Nina/Ninua (Nineveh).
15 F. JOANNÈS - Dictionnaire de la civilisation mésopotamienne

Paris 2001 Éd. Robert Laffont p. 565.


16 S. WISE BAUER – The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome.

2007 Ed. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 347–348.


10 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
BCE with the help of Babylonian king Marduk-zâkir-šumi I (855-819). Consequently the
official master of Assyria from 824 to 822 BCE was Assur-danin-pal as king of Nineveh,
without having the title of king of Assyria.
BCE [A] [B] [C] [D] [E]
824 1 X 34 [21] [3] 14 15 [A] Shalmaneser III, King of Assyria
2 XI
3 XII [B] Aššur-danin-pal, Crown prince
4 I 35 [22] [4] 15 (total solar eclipse dated 3 April 824 BCE)
5 II [C] Shamshi-Adad V (V), new Crown prince
6 III
7 IV [0] *** [B] Aššur-danin-pal, King of Nineveh
8 V
9 VI [C] Shamshi-Adad (V), King of Kalhu
10 VII 16 [D] Amaziah, King of Judah (2Ki 14:1-2)
11 VIII
12 IX [E] Jehoash, King of Israel
823 1 X 0 [E] Jeroboam II, King of Israel (2Ki 14:23-25)
2 XI
3 XII
4 I [1] [23] [5] 16
5 II
6 III
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 1
11 VIII
12 IX
822 1 X
2 XI
3 XII
4 I 2 [24] 17 [A] Shamshi-Adad V, King of Assyria
5 II
6 III

The phrase "king of Nineveh (Jonah 3:6-7)", which is unique in the Bible, the usual
title being "king of Assyria" (92 times), designates a high representative of the King17: a
coregent. The biblical text is generally accurate with regard to titles: All the princes [sarim] of
the provinces, the satraps [ahshdarpenim], the governors [pahot] and the king's [melek] administrators
[o’sim] helped the Jews (Est 9:3). However, some Assyrian crown princes, not governors (2K
18:23-24), are also called kings (Is 10:8). For example, the king of Assyria and his crown
prince are both described as "kings of Assyria" (Is 31:18). Thus the phrase "king of
Nineveh" points out correctly (in 824 BCE) the first crown prince Aššur-danin-pal. This
period of crisis, in addition, was marked by a total solar eclipse (visible at Tel Barsip on
April 3, 824 BCE)18 just at the beginning (1st Nisan) of the final year of the reign of
Shalmaneser III. It is understandable that in such a dramatic context (insurgencies in
rehearsals, sinister total solar eclipse on Tel Barsip, the military capital of the empire, death
of King Shalmaneser III, a fierce conqueror), the dire prediction of Jonah has been taken
seriously into account by Assyrian kings (superstitious for the most), including those of
Nineveh, the religious capital of the Empire (Na 3:1,4). The fact to declare a "national
mourning" to ward off bad luck was not implausible, on the contrary. Even the strange
"animals mourning" (Jonah 3:8) is confirmed by Herodotus (The Histories IX:24). The
repentance of Ninevites has only delayed its completion of two centuries (Na 3:7-8)19.
Jonah's mission was a success since Assyrian expansionism to the Mediterranean
coast will cease, at least for 80 years. Indeed it appears that large Mediterranean expeditions
of earlier reigns will disappear and that the Assyrian threat against Israel will reappear only
17 P. FERGUSON – Who was the ‘King of Nineveh’ in Jonah 3:6?

in: Tyndale Bulletin 47:2 (1996) pp. 301-314.


18 http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEsearch/SEsearchmap.php?Ecl=-08230402
19 Nahum referred to the sack of No-Amon (Thebes) in -664, which was a religious capital of Egypt, when warning Nineveh.
DATING THE WARNING OF JONAH AGAINST NINEVEH 11
with Tigtlat-pileser III. Jonah's mission is difficult to date, but presumably it ended with the
summer solstice (July 1 at that time) because it is stated: When the sun rose, God provided a
scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint (Jonah 4:8). As Jonah
proclaimed his message for 40 days (Jonah 3:4) and he had to need 40 days more to travel
(by roads) the 1,200 kilometres between Joppa to Nineveh, he had to receive his mission
around March. In this case, the death of Shalmaneser III would have coincided with the
beginning of his mission, that likely impressed the people of Nineveh.

The city of Nineveh is mentioned for the last time in the Battle of Nineveh in 627
CE, which was fought between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Sassanian Empire of
Persia near the ancient city. From the Arab conquest in 637 CE until the modern period,
the city of Mosul on the opposite bank of the river Tigris became the successor of ancient
Nineveh and the remains of ancient Nineveh (36°21'34"N 43°09'10"E) were called in
Arabic: Tell Nabī Yūnus “Hill of prophet Jonah”.
Because of the supernatural character of several events mentioned in the book of
Jonah, it has often been attacked by Bible critics: the big fish swallowing Jonah and 3 days
later vomiting the prophet out unharmed and the sudden growth and death of a plant have
both been labelled unhistorical because such things do not happen today. However, in both
cases, the Bible clearly explains it was an intervention of God. For example, one reads: So
the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him
from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant (Jonah 4:6, New American
Standard Bible). The plant known in Hebrew as qīqayōn20 (‫)קיקיון‬, which was translated into
Greek by kολοkύνθη (Septuagint) and cucurbita "gourd" (Vulgate), is a broad-leafed plant
growing and withering rapidly classified botanically as Lagenaria siceraria. The growth of the
bottle-gourd is rapid but with a speed of 10 cm a day (which is a maximum) at least 30 days
are needed to reach a height of 3 meters, but the Bible does not say neither the total
duration of the growth nor the height of the booth (Jonah 4:5).
The fact that Jonah was swallowed by a big fish21 is often mocked. This exceptional
event is not impossible since in 1939 a great white shark has been taken whose stomach
20 The Hebrew word qīqayōn could come from the Akkadian kukkânîtu “garden-plant”.
21 The text mentions just a big fish (dag gadôl), which could have been a sea-monster (tannîn).
12 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
contained two whole sharks 2 m long — roughly the size of a man22, likewise a basking
shark (Cetorhinus) of 2.5 m long was discovered in the stomach of a sperm whale (Physeter
macrocephalus) in the Azores23. There are also stories of sailors rescued from the belly of a
shark, but they have not yet been authenticated. The "big fish" that swallowed Jonah is not
identifiable with certainty, the text of 3 Maccabees 6:8 (dated beginning of our era) speaks
only of a "huge sea monster." Precision: The mariners began to fear and to call for aid, each one to
his god, and they kept hurling out the articles that were in the ship to the sea, in order to lighten it of them
(Jonah 1:5), could explain why this dropping, whose part of it were consumable materials,
has attracted large fish, especially sharks. Some zoologists believe that there are still some
megalodons (twice as large as the white shark) that would be in the same depths as the giant
squid (Architeuthis) they would feed. Even if this unique event is rationally possible,
however, the Bible describes it as a divine intervention (Jonah 1:17).

The Talmud contains a few information about Jonas but they appeared after the 2nd
century CE and most of them are imaginative tales24. Given that for historians the sole
criterion of truth is the chronology, it is crucial regarding the book of Jonah, to verify the
only chronological information which is given in the second book of Kings: In the 15th year of
Amaziah [824 BCE] the son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel became
king in Samaria, and reigned 41 years (...) He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as
far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which He spoke
through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher (2Ki 14:23,25, New
American Standard Bible).
Two important issues must be solved: 1) Assyrian and biblical chronologies are they
reliable? (hereafter); 2) Why are there so many disagreements among biblists and historians
for dating biblical events (see in the Annex “Historical context of Jonah's mission”).

22 G. WHITLEY – The Fishes of Australia. Part 1 The Sharks

in: Australian Zoological Handbook (Sidney, 1940) p. 125.


R. BACKUS, T. LINEAWEAVER – The Natural History of Sharks
London 1970 Ed. Andre Deutsch Ltd pp. 111-113.
23 M. WÜRTZ, N. REPETTO – Dauphins et Baleines

Paris 1999 Ed. Gründ, pp. 122-125.


24 Sanhedrin 89b states that usually a prophet who suppresses his prophecy is flogged, and references Jonah, but does not state

that Jonah was flogged. Nedarim 38a states “All the prophets were wealthy,” including Jonah. The Talmud basis its conclusion
that Jonah was rich on Jonah 1:3 which states that Jonah found a ship sailing to Tarshish and he paid its fare. Erubin 96b states
that Jonah's wife attended the festival pilgrimage and the Sages did not prevent her.
Assyrian and biblical chronologies are they reliable?
Abstract. Mainstream historians, without exception, consider that co-regencies never existed among
Assyrian dynasties, because according to an ideological dogma “the king never shares power, even with his
Crown Prince”, but at the same time, paradoxically, the biblical chronology of Thiele with its 9 fanciful co-
regencies is accepted with blind faith. It should be emphasized that this widespread belief is completely
contradicted by an accurate chronological analysis. Thus Sennacherib and Tiglath-pileser III, two famous
Assyrian kings quoted in the Bible, played a crucial role in Israel during their co-regencies. Sennacherib's
campaign to Judah, with the siege of Lachish and Jerusalem and the Battle of Eltekeh, occurred in 712
BCE during the 10th campaign of Sargon II (722-705) and the 3rd campaign of Sennacherib his coregent
(715-705), which agrees exactly with the biblical account states that all these events occurred during the 14th
year of Judean King Hezekiah (726-697) also dated 712 BCE (2Ki 18:13-17, 19:9; 2Ch 32:9-10; Is
20:1, 36:1, 37:9). Similarly the Israelite king Menahem (771-760) had to pay a tribute (in 765 BCE)
to an Assyrian king Pul (2Ki 15:19-20). The Assyrian word “pulu” means “the heir (ie Crown Prince)”,
which is found in the name of Tiglath-pil-eser (2Ki 15:29). King Pul(as) reigned 36 years according to
Josephus (Jewish Antiquities IX: 283-287) that exactly matches the Assyrian king (coregent) known by
his Aramaic name Bar-Ga’yah “Son of Majesty” who reigned from 782 to 746 BCE.
Mainstream historians refuse co-regencies among Mesopotamian dynasties because
of ideological reasons. In addition they do not perform chronological investigation despite
the fact that chronology is the backbone of history and worse still they have blind faith in
Babylonian king lists to establish their chronology, which are nevertheless false because they
are reporting no usurpation and no co-regency. Pierre Briant, a notorious and prominent
historian, explains why [mainstream] historians continue to propagate an official history
resulting from King Lists, even if they are obviously biased: Generations of historians have been
asking the question: Was Gaumata really the usurper called “magus” by Darius, or was he just an
invention of Darius, because he was anxious to conceal that it was really he who had overthrown Bardiya,
the true son of Cyrus (...) When, with good reason, the modern historian casts doubt on the reality of the
execution of Bardiya, the entire structure collapses like a house of cards. But it must also be remembered
that nothing has been established with certainty at the present time, given the available evidence. The
historian is reduced to arguing for probabilities and choosing the option that appears the least uncertain. To
explore the problem, we must now entertain the hypothesis, these days generally accepted, of a deception
devised by Darius himself. In his Newspeak, Professor Briant calls the truth "hypothesis",
because if "truth" is used his entire "official history" collapses like a house of cards. In
contrast, if one uses an accurate chronology anchored on absolute dates based on
astronomical events (like eclipses) as well as documents coming from non-governmental
sources (commercial or private), truth is attainable and it is easy to check that there is a 10-
year co-regency between Darius I (522-486) and his son Xerxes (496-475). Finally Briant
refuses this co-regency25 because “the king never shares power”, that’s all! How can one
prove the existence of co-regencies and how can one date them? Assyrian co-regencies are
hard to identify because of the system of counting regnal years they used. Actually Assyrian
inscriptions are only exceptionally dated with years of reign unlike Babylonian documents
which systematically used this dating system, sometimes they used eponymous years (limmu),
dated according to the name of a high official but, generally, Assyrian kings dated their
reigns according to their number of campaigns, in knowing that they were leading a
campaign (palû) each year (šattu), consequently most of the time: palû x = Year x. However,
the equivalence between the number of campaigns and years of reign is not always rigorous
P.BRIANT – From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire
25

Winona Lake 2002, Ed. Eisenbrauns, pp. 100-101, 958.


14 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
as shown by a reconstitution of the reign of Shalmaneser III26 (two campaigns, 21 and 25,
lasted two years instead of one year):
BCE Regnal Eponym Main military target(s) Campaign dating
year in the Annals
859 0 Tab-belu Hubushkia, Urartu šurrât sarrûtîya
858 1 Sharru-balti-nishi Mediterranean Sea palû 1
857 2 Shalmaneser (III) Bit-Adini, Carchemish palû 2
856 3 Ashur-belu-ka’in (turtânu) Bit-Adini, Urartu palû 3
855 4 Ashur-bunaya-uṣur (rab šâqê) Bit-Adini, Mazamua palû 4
854 5 Abi-ina-ekalli-lilbur Shubria palû 5
853 6 Dayyan-Ashur (turtânu) Hamath palû 6
852 7 Shamash-abua Tib-abne, Tigris source palû 7
851 8 Shamash-belu-uṣur Babylonia palû 8
850 9 Bel-bunaya Babylonia palû 9
849 10 Hadi-lipushu Carchemish, Bit-Agusi palû 10
848 11 Nergal-alik-pani Hamath palû 11
847 12 Bur-Ramman Paqarhubuni palû 12
846 13 Ninurta-mukin-nishi Matyati palû 13
845 14 Ninurta-nadin-shumi Central Syria palû 14
844 15 Ashur-bunaya Nairi, Euphrates source palû 15
843 16 Tab-Ninurta Namri palû 16
842 17 Taklak-ana-sharri Mt. Amanus palû 17
841 18 Adad-remanni Damascus palû 18
840 19 Shamash-abua Cedar Mountain/Mt. Amanus palû 19
839 20 Shulmu-beli-lamur Que palû 20
838 21 Ninurta-kibsi-uṣur Malahi/Damascus palû 21
837 22 Ninurta-ilaya Danabi/Damascus palû 21
836 23 Qurdi-Ashur Tabal palû 22
835 24 Shep-sharri Melid palû 23
834 25 Nergal-mudammiq Namri palû 24
833 26 Yahalu Que palû [25]
832 27 Ululaya Que palû [25]
831 28 Sharru-hatti-ipel Que; Der(?) palû 26
830 29 Nergal-ilaya Urartu palû 27
829 30 Hubayu Unqi/Patin palû 28
828 31 Ilu-mukin-ahi Ulluba/Habhu palû 29
827 32 Shalmaneser (III) Mannai palû 30
826 33 Dayyan-Ashur (turtânu) Parsua, Namri; rebellion palû 31
825 34 Ashur-bunaya-uṣur (rab šâqê) Rebellion --
824 35 Yahalu [turtânu ?] Rebellion; (the death of the king) --
This Eponym Chronicle gives numerous relevant chronological and historical
information (it was a kind of memorial for the characters and deeds of interest); it shows
that the main purpose of the Assyrian empire was to get booty by conquering new
countries, hence the crucial role of its military. The most important character after the king
(šarru) was therefore the commander-in-chief (turtânu)27. Because of his power he was a
potential rival of the king and could oust him by a coup d'état. To avoid this possibility,
Assyrian kings chose carefully this key character among the eunuchs of their headquarters.
The fact that the commander in chief was a eunuch prevented him to found a dynasty and
was therefore a deterrent of killing the king in order to take his place. The governing body
of Assyrian headquarters was called ša-rêši "one's head" and because the commander-in-
chief was a true eunuch this word became a synonym of "high official (chamberlain/
minister of the court)", but to avoid any ambiguities, such members of the court were also
designated by the following titles: ša-rêši ziqni “bearded eunuch (!)” or manzâz pâni “those
26 S. YAMADA – The Construction of the Assyrian Empire: A Historical Study of the Inscriptions of Shalmanesar III (859-824

B.C.) Leiden 2000, Ed. Brill, pp. 64-67.


27 In the texts of Nuzi the word tardennu meant the second son in order of age.
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 15
who are in front”. Considering his crucial position in the kingdom, the commander in chief
was always referred to or shown just after the king (up to Shalmaneser V)28. For example,
Shalmaneser III is mentioned as eponym in Year 2 and his first commander-in-chief
(Ashur-belu-ka’in) as eponym in Year 3, he is mentioned again in Year 32 and his second
commander-in-chief (Dayyan-Ashur) in Year 33.
As shown by the Eponym Chronicle during Shalmaneser III’s reign, his main military
targets were the Arameans kingdoms in the west.

Shalmaneser III launched a series of three campaigns against Bit-Adani, which led to
the capture of Til-Barsip29 its capital in 855 BCE (4th campaign). The city was then renamed
Kar-Shalmaneser and became the bridgehead of the Assyrian campaigns toward the west.
During years 851 and 850, the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III came in Babylonia to Marduk-
zâkir-šumi‘s aid and campaigned in concert with him to force Marduk-bêl-ušati to flee to
the Jasubu mountainous region northeast, area of lower Diyâla. Marduk-bêl-ušati was the
younger brother of Marduk-zâkir-šumi I (855-819) who rebelled and established a brief
regime in the Diyâla region. Assyrian sources describe him as šar ḫammâ’i "king usurper".
Shalmaneser III left an account of these events on his Black Obelisk: In the 8th year of my
reign, Marduk-bêl-usâte, the younger brother, revolted against Marduk-zâkir-šumi, king of Karduniaš
(Babylonia), and they divided the land in its entirety. In order to avenge Marduk-zâkir-šumi, I marched out
and captured Mê-Turnat. In the 9th year of my reign, I marched against Akkad a second time. I besieged
Ganannate. As for Marduk-bêl-usâte, the terrifying splendour of Assur and Marduk overcame him and he
went up into the mountains to save his life. I pursued him. I cut down with the sword Marduk-bêl-usâte
and the rebel army officers who were with him. The inscriptions of Shalmaneser III were studied in
detail30, but paradoxically depictions accompanying them on the numerous stelae left by this
king were never used to illuminate the texts. As these stelae were the only means of
28 I.L. FINKEL, J.E. READE – Lots of Eponyms

in: IRAQ vol. 57 (1995) pp. 167-172.


29 The name of the city was Masuwari around 1000 BCE when she was ruled by a Neo-Hittite king.
30 P. HULIN – The Inscriptions on the Carved Throne-Base of Shalmaneser III

in: IRAQ vol. 25 :1 (1963) pp. 48-69.


16 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
propaganda (at that time), depictions were to be immediately understood by those who saw
them. The identification of characters in Assyrian or Babylonian art is stereotyped: gods,
kings and their subjects are prioritized based on their size, according to conventional
representations31. When a character next to a king is shown the same size, with a tiara, it is
another king and when he is without a tiara but with the regalia he is a co-regent. For
example, on his stelae (below) King Shalmaneser (III) shake hands as a sign of alliance with
Marduk-zâkir-šumi (I) the Babylonian king.

The interpretation of this image is very simple: the main character on the right who
wears a two-stage conical tiara is the Assyrian king (Shalmaneser III), he wears as well a
turban, symbol of his military authority, and two ribbons behind the head, second symbol
of his kingship32. Behind him there is a eunuch who is his commander-in-chief (Dayyan-
Ashur). The commander-in-chief is smaller than the king because his rank is just after him
but he wears also a turban, symbol of his military authority. On the left the representation is
similar but the tiara of the Babylonian king (Marduk-zâkir-šumi I) is just conical. The four
characters all wear a sword at their side to show that they are celebrating together a
victorious military 9th campaign, according to the inscription (850 BCE).
The text of an inscription from Calah (IM 65574)33 on various parts of the throne
base is an unusual fusion of the annalistic style and a geographical summary. Following the
opening (royal name, titles and genealogy of Shalmaneser III), the campaign account of the
accession year (Year 0) and the 1st year is introduced by the phrase “in the beginning of my
reign, in my 1st campaign”, the formula used in the early annalistic texts. Chronological
references are given in two places. One is the formula preceding the account of the
accession year and the other is the phrase “in my 13th regnal year”. All the other events
mentioned in the text occurred before Year 13. The last one, the bringing of tribute by
Qalparunda of Unqi (line 48), should probably be assigned to the 11th year. This would fit
31 J. B. PRITCHARD - The Ancient Near East in Pictures
Princeton 1969 Ed. Princeton University Press pp. 159,199,351.
32 J. READE – Fez, Diadem, Turban, Chaplet: Power-dressing at the Assyrian Court

in: Studia Orientalia vol. 106 (2009) pp. 252-254.


33 S. YAMADA – The Construction of the Assyrian Empire: A Historical Study of the Inscriptions of Shalmanesar III (859-824

B.C.) Leiden 2000, Ed. Brill, pp. 32-34.


ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 17
well with the proposed date of the composition in Year 13 (846 BCE). In the annals of
Shalmaneser there is no particular event during the 13th campaign (in Matyati?).

Once again the interpretation of this image is very simple: the main character on the
right who wears a two-stage conical tiara is the Assyrian king (Shalmaneser III), he wears as
well a turban, symbol of his military authority, and two ribbons behind the head, second
symbol of his kingship. In front of him, there is a character very similar but without the
tiara, because of the similarity it must be a coregent. Behind him there is a eunuch who is
his commander-in-chief (Dayyan-Ashur) who is smaller than the coregent because his rank
is just after him but he wears also a turban, symbol of his military authority. Just behind the
commander-in-chief according to their ranking34, the first high official (bearded eunuch) is
the rab šâqê “chief cupbearer” (Ashur-bunaya-uṣur) and the following one is the nâgir ekalli
“palace superintendent” (Abi-ina-ekalli-lilbur). The four characters on the left wear a sword
at their side to show that they are dedicating a military campaign (in 846 BCE according to
the inscription) to the king. As in the 13th year of Shalmaneser III’s reign there was no
military campaign mentioned in his annals, the purpose of the engraving was to show that
his son Aššur-danin-pal had been enthroned as Crown Prince “son of king (mar šarri)” or
“heir (aplu)”. This assignment could have two benefits: avoiding dynastic quarrels after the
king's death and protecting the king from a possible assassination by one of his sons for
seizing the throne. Appointment as Crown Prince was not an honorary title, as claimed by
mainstream historians, but given to the latter a role as co-regent because he had the right to
campaign by the means of the commander-in-chief. However there was a drawback: the
Crown Prince could revolt against his father and it is what happened.
The last years of Shalmaneser III can be reconstituted as follows: due to old age, he
passed command of his armies to the General in chief Dayyan-Ashur (from 831). In his
32nd year of rule (in 826), Shalmaneser III's son, Ashur-danin-pal ("Aššur has strengthened
the heir") rebelled against his father. Shamshi-Adad V recalled: Where [my brother] Ashur-
danin-pal, in the time of Shalmaneser (III), his father, acted wickedly, bringing about sedition, rebellion,
34 A.K. GRAYSON – Assyrian Officials and Power in the Ninth and Eighth Centuries
in: State Archives of Assyria Bulletin VII/1 (1993), pp. 19-52.
18 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
and wicked plotting, caused the land to rise in revolt, prepared for war, brought the people of Assyria, north
and south, to his side, and made bold speeches, brought the cities into the rebellion and set his face to begin
strife and battle [...] 27 cities, along with their fortifications [...] revolted against Shalmaneser, king of the
four regions of the world, my father, and [...] had gone to the side of Ashur-danin-pal35. Thus, the
rebellious brother, according to Shamshi-Adad V's own inscriptions, succeeded in bringing
to his side 27 big cities, including Nineveh (the rebellion lasted until 820). Because of his
influence and power, Ashur-danin-pal was Crown Prince (from 846). When Shalmaneser III
chose again his general Dayyan-Ashur as eponym in 826, as he did in 854, that meant a new
preparation for war to conquer the East36 (Urartu), which involved obviously more
sacrifices in men and resources for Assyrian provinces and had lead to much discontent.
Shalmaneser therefore appointed Shamshi-Adad as Crown Prince to quell the revolt led by
Ashur-danin-pal. Consequently when Shalmaneser III died in 824 there were two Crown
Princes: Ashur-danin-pal (from 846) and Shamshi-Adad (from 827) who defeated his
brother in 820 and became officially King Shamshi-Adad V. Such a complex situation was
not exceptional as shown by the genealogy of Assyrian kings37 given that it occurred (i.e. 2
successors ↲  ↳) with Adad-nîrârî III, Tiglath-pileser III, Sennacherib and Ashurbanipal.
King of Assyria, Crown Prince/Coregent, King of Babylon
Tukulti-Ninurta II (891-884)

Aššurnasirpal II (884-859)

Shalmaneser III (871-859) (859-824)
↲↳
Aššur-danin-pal (846-821) Šamši-Adad V (827-824) (824-811)

Sammu-ramât (811-807) Adad-nîrârî III (811-783)
                                           ↲    ↳
Shalmaneser IV (783-773)
Aššur-dan III (773-755)
Aššur-nerari V (755-745)
Tiglath-pileser III (782-746) (745-727) / Pulu (729-727)
↲    ↳                                                                                                                          
Shalmaneser V (745-727) (727-722) / Ulûlaiu (727-725)
Sargon II (722-705) / Sargon II (710-705)

Sennacherib (715-705) (705-681) / Sennacherib (705-703, 689-681)
↲ ↳
Arda-Mulissu (699-681) Aššur-nâdin-šumi II (700-694)
Esarhaddon (684-681) (681-669)
Sin-nadin-apli (674-673) ↲ ↳
Aššurbanipal (672-669) (669-630) Šamaš-šumu-ukin (672-668) (668-648)
 ↲ ↳
Aššur-etel-ilâni (654-630) (630-626)
Sin-šar-iškun (627-626) (626-612)
Aššur-uballit II (619-612) (612-609)
35 F. JOANNÈS - Dictionnaire de la civilisation mésopotamienne
Paris 2001 Éd. Robert Laffont p. 565.
S. WISE BAUER – The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome.
New York 2007, Ed. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 347–348.
36 W.G. LAMBERT – The Reigns of Aššurnaṣirpal II and Shalmaneser III: An Interpretation

in: IRAQ Vol. 36:2 (1974), pp. 103-109.


37 I. KALIMI, S. RICHARDSON – Sennacherib at the Gates of Jerusalem: Story, History and Historiography

Leiden 2014, Ed. Brill. pp. 173-181.


ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 19
Sennacherib appointed Aššur-nâdin-šumi II (700-694) as king of Babylon, Arda-
Mulissu (699-681) as Crown Prince and also Esarhaddon (684-681). Because Arda-Mulissu,
knew that Esarhaddon would be "legitimately" the next king he tried to take over the
kingship by force and concluded a "treaty of rebellion" with (Nabû?)-shar-uṣur38, another of
his brothers, but after the murdering of Sennacherib (October 681 BCE) his conspiracy did
not succeed and he was slaughtered by Esarhaddon, the second and last Crown Prince. The
succession of Ashurbanipal is poorly documented39 but he seems to have appointed Aššur-
etel-ilâni in 554 as Crown Prince and the latter seized power in 530. That would explain
why his short reign (630-626) is not mentioned in the Babylonian King lists because the
legitimate king remained Ashurbanipal (669-626). The case of Shalmaneser V is simpler,
because of his short reign (727-722) he probably had no time to appoint a Crown Prince;
thus when he died his brother, called later Sargon "the legitimate king", took over the
kingship. The previous examples show that Crown Princes acted as co-regents.
CO-REGENCY OF SENNACHERIB (715-705)
The oldest letter from Sennacherib (ND 2608) as Crown Prince (accession year) is
dated 715 when the Urartians were defeated by the Cimmerians40. That means he reigned
10 years as co-regent (715-705) and 24 years as king (705-681) and consequently his 3rd
campaign as co-regent must be dated in 712 (= 715 – 3) and his 3rd campaign as king in 702
(= 705 – 3). The campaign of Sennacherib into Judah is famous because it thoroughly
describes the capture of the city of Lachish (depicted inside Sennacherib’s Palace) and also
the taking (which failed) of Jerusalem, noted in his annals. Sennacherib's campaign into
Judah is exceptional since the Assyrian assault involved the simultaneous presence of at
least six kings (or similar): 1) capture of Ashdod by the Assyrian king Sargon II in his 10th
campaign (712 BCE), 2) taking of Lachish by Sennacherib during his 3rd campaign, 3) failed
taking of Jerusalem, dated to the 14th year of Judean King Hezekiah; 4) battle of Eltekeh led
by Nubian co-regent Taharqa; 5) under the leadership of King Shabataka during his 1st year
of reign; 6) probable disappearance of the Egyptian king Osorkon IV in his 33rd year of
reign. According to the Bible all these events occurred at the same time41 but according to
mainstream scholars there were two campaigns to Judah42, one in 712 led by Sargon II and
a second led by Sennacherib dated 70143. This fanciful assertion (701 instead of 702) is
doubly absurd: first because the capture of Lachish can be dated in 712 according to the
annals of Sargon and Sennacherib —and therefore during the 3rd campaign of Sennacherib
as coregent— but especially the detailed representations of the capture of Lachish depicted
in the palace of Sennacherib which clearly shows that this King led this campaign as co-
regent (shown as king but without tiara) of King Sargon II (shown with his tiara).
According to Assyrian annals44, the city of Ahsdod was captured by Sargon II during
his 10th campaign and Lachish was taken by Sennacherib during his 3rd campaign in Judea,
but there is a paradox, if Sennacherib gives many details of his 3rd military campaign in
Judea he never mentions Lachish: In my 3rd campaign I marched against Hatti. Luli, king of Sidon,
38 Arda-Mulissu and (Nabû?)-shar-uṣur are called Adram-melek and Shar-ezer in the Bible (Is 37:38).
39 F. JOANNÈS - Dictionnaire de la civilisation mésopotamienne
Paris 2001 Éd. Robert Laffont p. 105.
40 M. LUUKO – The Correspondence of Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon II from Calah/Nimrud

in: State Archives of Assyria Studies volume XIX (2013) p. XXV.


41 2Kings 18:13-17, 19:9; 2Chronicles 32:9-10; Isaiah 20:1, 36:1, 37:9.
42 J. GOLDBERG – Two Assyrian Campaigns against Hezehiah and Later Eight Century Biblical Chronology

in: Biblica 80 (1999) pp. 360-390.


43 D. USSISHKIN – The Destruction of Lachish by Sennacherib and the Dating of the Royal Judean Storage Jars

in: Tel Aviv 4 (1977) pp. 28-60.


44 J. BRIEND M.J SEUX - Textes du Proche-Orient ancien et histoire d'Israël

Paris 1977 Éd. Cerf pp. 113-121.


20 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
whom the terror-inspiring glamor of my lordship had overwhelmed, fled far overseas and perished. The awe-
inspiring splendor of the "Weapon" of Ashur, my lord, overwhelmed his strong cities (such as) Great Sidon,
Little Sidon, Bit-Zitti, Zaribtu, Mahalliba, Ushu (i.e. the mainland settlement of Tyre), Akzib (and)
Akko, (all) his fortress cities, walled (and well) provided with feed and water for his garrisons, and they
bowed in submission to my feet (...) In the continuation of my campaign I besieged Beth-Dagon, Joppa,
Banai-Barqa, Azuru, cities belonging to Sidqia who did not bow to my feet quickly (enough); I conquered
(them) and carried their spoils away. The officials, the patricians and the (common) people of Ekron —who
had thrown Padi, their king, into fetters (because he was) loyal to (his) solemn oath (sworn) by the god
Ashur, and had handed him over to Hezekiah, the Jew (Ha-za-qi-a-ú amelIa-ú-da-ai)— (and) he
(Hezekiah) held him in prison, unlawfully, as if he (Padi) be an enemy —had become afraid and had
called (for help) upon the kings of Egypt (Muṣri) (and) the bowmen, the chariot(-corps) and the cavalry of
the king of Ethiopia (Meluḫḫa), an army beyond counting— and they (actually) had come to their
assistance. In the plain of Eltekeh (Al-ta-qu-ú), their battle lines were drawn up against me and they
sharpened their weapons. Upon a trust(-inspiring) oracle (given) by Ashur, my lord, I fought with them and
inflicted a defeat upon them. In the mêlée of the battle, I personally captured alive the Egyptian charioteers
with the(ir) princes and (also) the charioteers of the king of Ethiopia. I besieged Eltekeh (and) Tinmah
(Ta-am-na-a), conquered (them) and carried their spoils away. I assaulted Ekron and killed the officials
and patricians who had committed the crime and hung their bodies on poles surrounding the city. The
(common) citizens who were guilty of minor crimes, I considered prisoners of war. The rest of them, those who
were not accused of crimes and misbehaviour, I released. I made Padi, their king, come from Jerusalem (Ur-
sa-li-im-mu) and set him as their lord on the throne, imposing upon him the tribute (due) to me (as)
overlord. As to Hezekiah, the Jew, 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 (Hezekiah) 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 splendour 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, pedestal-chairs (inlaid) with ivory, elephant-hides, ebony-wood, boxwood (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) messenger45. The third campaign
of Sennacherib thus coincided with the siege of Jerusalem, dated the 14th year of Hezekiah
(in 712 BCE), the conquest of Ashdod, dated the 10th year of Sargon (in 712 BCE), and the
Battle of Eltekeh (Jos 21:23) which can also be dated in 712 BCE.
According to the two stelae of Kawa46, after the death of Shabaka, his successor
Shabataka immediately summoned an army which he placed under the command of his
brother Taharqa, a young son of Piye age 20 to repel an Assyrian attack which was
45 J.B. PRITCHARD - Ancient Near Eastern Texts
Princeton 1969 Ed. Princeton University Press pp. 287-288.
46 M.F. LAMING MACADAM – The Temples of Kawa I. The Inscriptions

London 1949 Ed. Oxford University Press pp. 14-32.


L. TÖRÖK – The Kingdom of Kush
Leiden 1997 Ed. Brill pp. 169-171.
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 21
threatening. In addition, Taharqa states explicitly on these stelae that he was designated as
heir by Shabataka despite his other brothers and all children. The campaign of Sennacherib
thus corresponds to the 1st year of Shabataka, which is anchored on Sennacherib's 3rd
campaign. Usual dating in 702/701 BCE leads to several contradictions47. The inscription of
Sargon II, found at Tang-i Var, requires to date this campaign in 712 BCE and not in
702/701. One reads48 along the lines 16-27:
16) I dispersed the army of the Elamite Ḫumbanigaš (Ḫumba-nikaš) (in 717 BCE). I destroyed the land
of K[aral]la, the land of Šurda, the city of Ki[šes]im, the city of Ḫarḫar, [the Me]dian [land], (and) the
land of Elli[pi (...)].
17) I laid waste to the land of Urartu (in 714 BCE), plundered the city of [Muṣaṣi]r (and) the Mannean
land, crushed the land[s]..
18) I conquered the rulers of the land of Amattu (Hamath), the city of Carche[mish, the city of Kummu]ḫi,
(and) the land of Kammanu; over their lands [...] I se[t] officials.
19) I plundered the city of Ashdod (in 712 BCE). Iamani, its king, feared [my weapons] and ... He fled to
the region of the land of Meluḫḫa (Nubia) and lived (there) stealthfully (literally: like a thief).
20) Šapataku’ (Shabataka), king of the land of Meluḫḫa, heard of the mig[ht] of the gods Aššur, Nabu,
(and) Marduk which I had [demonstrated] over all lands, ...
21) He put (Iamani) in manacles and handcuffs ... he had him brought captive into my presence.
22) [I depopulated] all the lands of Tabâlu, Kasku, (and) Ḫilakku; I took away settlements belonging to
Metâ (Midas), king of the land of [Mu]sku, and reduced (the size of) his land.
23) At the city of Rapiḫu (Raphia) I defeated the vanguard of the army of Egypt and counted as booty the
king of the city of Hâzutu (Gaza) who had not submitted to my [yo]ke.
24) I subdued 7 kings of the land of Iâ’, a region of the l[and of] Iadnâna (Cyprus) — whose home is
situated at a distance of... [in the mid]dle of the Western Sea.
25) Moreover, (in 710 BCE) I personally (literally: my great hands) defeated Marduk-apla-iddina
(Merodach-Baladan II), king of the land of Chaldea, who dwelled on the shore of the sea (and) who
ex[erc]ised kingship over Babylon against the wi[ll of the gods].
26) Moreover, all the land of Bît-Iakîn ... I fixed ...
27) Aḫundari, king of Dilmun [Upêri in the Annals], whose lair [is situated] at a distance of... leagues [in
the middle] of the sea like that of a fish, heard of my [royal] mig[ht] and brought me (in 709 BCE) [his]
gre[eting gift].
28) With the power and strength (granted me) by the great gods, (my) lords], who [raised up mu weapons, I
cut] down al[l my enemies].
29) From the land of Iadnâna (Cyprus), which is (situated) in the middle of the [Western] Sea, [as far as
the border(s) of Egypt (and) the land of M]usk[u, the wide land of Amurru], the land of Ḫ[atti],
This inscription, written in chronological order49, situates the battle against Egypt
during the taking of Ashdod in 712 BCE, confirming the coincidence between the 3rd
campaign of Sennacherib and Sargon's 10th campaign. The two Assyrian kings had to
campaign in common, but Sennacherib had to make engraved his 3rd campaign only when
he was king, after the death of his father, and not during his co-regency which began in 714.
Some authors also noted an anomaly (underlined) on line 44 of the inscription: They counted
(them) as booty, then one would expect more logically from Sargon the sentence: I have counted
(them) as booty (with the co-regency anomaly disappears). As the co-regency between Sargon
and Sennacherib is not taken into account, some Egyptologists have suggested the
47 W.R. GALLAGHER – Sennacherib's Campaign to Judah

Leiden 1999 Ed. Brill pp. 2-14.


48 G. FRAME – The Inscription of Sargon II at Tang-i Var

in: Orientalia 68:1 (1999) pp. 31-60.


49 D.D. LUCKENBILL – Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonian. Volume II

Chicago 1927, Ed. The University of Chicago Press, pp. 1-25.


22 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
following explanation50: the inscription ending with the installation of the gods in the new
city, dated 707, thanks to the eponym of Sargon's Chronicle, the attack against Egypt had to
be shifted by error and should be dated 707 instead of 712. This amazing assumption allows
starting the reign of Shabataka in 707 instead of 701, assuming also a co-regency not
attested with Shabaka, his predecessor. We see all this is hardly likely, because the
chronological order of the inscription is obvious, moreover, that dating is in perfect
agreement with the 10 years of co-regency of Sennacherib. On the relief carved51 (below)
representing the siege of Lachish in Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh, the central element is
the king seated on his throne clearly identified by his tiara and sceptre and facing the crown
prince, who is as tall as the king and wearing a turban with two ribbons behind his head,
facing the king wearing the tiara, who also bore the two ribbons behind the head.

The siege of Lachish, drawing of Slabs 11-12, Room XXXVI, Southwest Palace, Nineveh
The identification of the two main characters: king and coregent, is easy (except for
mainstream historians!)52. In the lower part (bottom right), Sennacherib is depicted in
driving his chariot as commander-in-chief, he wears only a turban on the head, and in the
upper part (above left) he is depicted facing the king and wears two ribbons behind his head
as co-regent, in addition to the turban. It is noteworthy that the fall of Lachish is depicted
with a great accuracy but with very few text (one above Sennacherib and another above a
tent). Indeed, the scene which depicted Sennacherib's victory had to be understood by as
many people as possible because at that time very few officers (except scribes) were able to
read inscriptions. The main characters, king, coregent, soldiers and commandant-in-chief
were easily recognizable thanks to a conventional representation.
50 D. KAHN – The Inscription of Sargon II at Tang-i Var and the Chronology of Dynasty 25

in: Orientalia 70:1 (2001) pp. 1-18.


51 J.M. RUSSEL – Sennacherib's Palace without Rival at Nineveh

Chicago 1991 Ed. The University of Chicago Press pp. 3, 125, 143, 206-207.
52 J. GOLDBERG – Two Assyrian Campaigns against Hezekiah and Later Eighth Century Biblical Chronology

in: Biblica 80:3 (1999), pp. 360-390.


ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 23

The co-regent facing the king seated on the throne cannot be Ardu-Mulissu, because
he was designated Crown Prince only from 699 BCE, three years after the 3rd campaign of
Sennacherib as king (not co-regent) in 702 BCE. The absence of a tiara upon Sennacherib's
head is obviously not an oversight because in other scenes he wears a tiara (as king) when
he is depicted as driving his chariot (Slab 2, Room XLV).
24 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
Such representations are also found in the
palace of Khorsabad, where the co-regent
Sennacherib is facing king Sargon53 (opposite
figure). It is easy to see that this relief looks the
same as the siege of Lachish. When Sargon took
Ashdod in 712 BCE he was king and Sennacherib
his son was his co-regent, whereas in 702/701
Sennacherib was king but he did not have any co-
regent. Therefore the king sitting on the throne at
Lachish is king Sargon facing Sennacherib. On
the relief of the siege of Lachish, Sennacherib is
on the left and Sargon is on the right as on the
relief in the palace of Khorsabad54. The epigraph
of four lines over Sennacherib55 (in a label)
confirms this identification because he is
presented as co-regent (MAN) and not as king
(LUGAL) and the other epigraph of three lines
over the tent of Sennacherib describes him as
king (afterward):
Epigraph over Sennacherib
md
30-PAP.MEŠ-SU MAN ŠU2 MAN KUR aš+šur Sennacherib, viceroy of the world, viceroy of Assyria.
ina GIŠ.GU.ZA ne2-me-di u2-šib-ma Sat in a pedestal-throne and
sal-la-at URU la-ki-su the booty of Lachish
ma-ha-ar-šu e-ti-iq passed in review before him [i.e. king Sargon].
Epigraph over the tent of Sennacherib
za-ra-tum Tent
ša md30-PAP.MEŠ-SU of Sennacherib
LUGAL KUR aš+šur king of Assyria
MAN sign, written with 2 nail heads << (“20” that is “god Shamash”), later translated
šarru “king” into Neo-Assyrian, literally means šanû “second56”. The usual word used for
“king” is not MAN but LUGAL, literally “man-big” (both terms are used in Sennacherib's
inscriptions). Sennacherib could not bear the title of king during Sargon's lifetime, because
the latter was considered to be “without rival”, but only the title of viceroy (double or
replica of the king). In addition, the term -ma meaning “and” connects one who sits to the
one passing booty reviewed (who was king Sargon).
In the biblical text the military campaigns of Sennacherib and Sargon are clearly
identified as parallel and dated 712 BCE (2Ki 18:13-17; 2Ch 32:9, Is 20:1). When
Sennacherib comes to Jerusalem, it is stated: the kings of Assyria did to all the lands by devoting
them to destruction (2Ki 19:10-17), implying Sennacherib and Sargon. After Hezekiah had paid
a tribute of 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold, Sennacherib sent his commander-in-
chief (tartanu), chief officer (rab-ša-reš) and cupbearer (rab-šaqu) to accept his surrender.
During the same time Sargon sent the commander (tartanu) to Ashdod before seizing it. The
53 A. CAUBET – Khorsabad, le palais de Sargon II, roi d'Assyrie
in: actes du colloque organisé au musée du Louvre (Paris 1995 La Documentation Française) p. 123, Fig.4, 15.
54 B. ANDRÉ-SALVINI, É. FONTAN – Le Louvre, la Bible

in: Le Monde de la Bible N° 200 spécial (2012) p. 62.


55 J.M. RUSSEL – Sennacherib's Palace without Rival at Nineveh

Chicago 1991 Ed. The University of Chicago Press pp. 206, 276-277.
56 F. MALBRAN-LABAT - Manuel d'épigraphie akkadienne

Paris 1999 Éd. Librairie orientaliste P. Geuthner p. 211.


ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 25
annals of Sargon give the following details: [In the 10th year of my rule ...] Azuri, king of Ashdod,
had schemed not to deliver tribute (any more) and sent messages (full) of hostilities against Assyria to the
kings (living) in his neighbourhood (...) I besieged and conquered the cities Ashdod (and) Gath (...) Then to
the rulers of Palestine, Judah, Edom, Moab (and) those who live (on islands) and bring tribute and gifts to
my lord Ashur (...) the subduer of the country Judah which is far away. According to Sennacherib's
annals: In my third campaign (...) he had called (for help) upon the kings of Egypt (and) the bowmen, the
chariot(-corps) and the cavalry of the king of Ethiopia (...) As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to
my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities (...) Hezekiah himself, whom the terror-inspiring splendour 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 silver57. The presence of the kings of Egypt and king of
Ethiopia has to be located in 712 BCE (or before) when several pharaohs actually ruled in
parallel with the Theban priests58. The tribute paid by Hezekiah during the Sennacherib's 3rd
campaign is almost identical to that of the biblical text (2 Ki 18:14). However a tribute from
Judah is also perceived by Sargon, because in a letter from a governor to Sargon we read: I
have received 45 horses [...] The dignitaries of Egypt (Musur), Gaza (Hazatu), Judah (Ya'udu), Moab
(Ma'aba), Ammon (Ban-Ammana) are arrived on the 12th in Kalhu their tributes in their hands, the one
from Gaza with 24 horses in his hand.
An inscription of Sargon mentions his campaign against Hezekiah, king of Judah,
along with the taking of Ekron and Azeqah59 near Lachish (Jr 34:7), which are dated in 712.
But as the taking of Lachish and Jerusalem are currently dated in 701 that would imply a
hypothetical second campaign (around 688 BCE)60 which leads to a new chronological
impossibility61. Similarly, the attempted alliance between Merodach-baladan and Hezekiah is
plausible only in 712 because in 700 or in 703 the Babylonian king (if he reigned) was in a
position of weakness (the only support mentioned in neo-Babylonian chronicles is that of
the king of Elam) and Hezekiah had no interest to ally with him, whereas in 712
Merodachbaladan was in a position of strength and the purpose of his alliance with
Hezekiah, which miraculously pushed Sennacherib, was to counterbalance Assyrian
influence. Sargon's Chronicle supports this reconstruction because the king was perpetually
at war against Merodach-Baladan except in 712 (because of his campaign to Judea) and also
in 711, but for no apparent reason62: From the accession ye[ar of] Merodach-baladan until the 10th
year [Assyria] was belligerent towards Merodach-baladan. The 10th year: Merodach-baladan ravaged Bit-
[..]ri (and) plundered it. The 12th year of Merodach-baladan: Sargon went down [to Akkad] and did
battle against [Merodach-bala]dan. Merodach-baladan [retreated] before [him] (and) fled to Elam. For 12
years [Merodach-balad]an ruled Babylon. Sargon ascended the throne in Babylon (...) The 2nd year
[Sennacherib went down to Akkad and did battle against Merodach-baladan before him] Merodach-
baladan retreated (and) fled to Guzummânu [...] he (Sennacherib) plundered his land [... and took] Larak
57 J.B. PRITCHARD - Ancient Near Eastern Texts
Princeton 1969 Ed. Princeton University Press pp. 284-288.
J. BRIEND M.J SEUX - Textes du Proche-Orient ancien et histoire d'Israël
Paris 1977 Éd. Cerf pp. 116-122.
58 K.A. KITCHEN – The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt

Warminster 2004 Ed. Aris and Phillips pp. 592-593.


59 G. GALIL – A New Look at the “Azekah Inscription”

in: Revue Biblique n° 102:3 (1995) pp.321-329.


60 P.S. EVANS – The Invasion of Sennacherib in the Book of Kings: A Source-Critical and Rhetorical Study of 2 Kings 18-19

Leiden 2009, Ed. Brill, pp. 15-18.


61 B. BECKING – Chronology: A Skeleton without Flesh? Sennacherib's Campaign as a Case-Study;

E. BEN ZVI – Malleability and its Limits: Sennacherib's Campaign against Judah as a Case Study
in: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 363 (Ed. L.L. Grabbe, 2000) pp. 46-72, 168-200.
62 A.K. GRAYSON – Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles

Winona Lake 2000, Ed. Eisenbrauns pp. 73-77.


26 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
and Sarrabanu. When he withdrew he (Sennacherib) put Bel-ibni on the throne in Babylon. The 1st year of
Bel-ibni [702 BCE]: Sennacherib ravaged Hirimma and Hararatum. The 3rd year of Bel-ibni:
Sennacherib went down to Akkad and plundered Akkad. He led away to Assyria Bel-ibni and his
officers. For 3 years Bel-ibni ruled Babylon. Sennacherib put Aššur-nâdin-šumi, his son, on the throne in
Babylon. If Sennacherib's troops were decimated in 712 BCE, as confirmed by Herodotus
(The Histories II:137,141) and Josephus (Jewish Antiquities X:21), one can probably
assume that the following year Sargon was busy reorganizing his army.
Amalgams between the three campaigns of Sennacherib during his co-regency with
Sargon (714-712) and those carried out at the beginning of his reign (704-702) confused
deeply the sequence of events. Merodachbaladan, for example, was dethroned in 710, then
would try to take back his throne in 703 and again in 700, with a brief success (this unlikely
event may have been distorted. It is possible that the vassal king Bel-ibni, who did not
properly repulse Merodachbaladan's attacks for taking his throne back, was removed from
office and replaced by his eldest son, Assur-nadin-Šumi II)63. Anyway the dating of the 2nd
reign of Merodachbaladan creates an unsolvable problem64. In addition, the tribute brought
by the Medes and received by Sennacherib during his 2nd campaign looked like the one
received by Sargon during his 8th campaign. Concerning the (failed) capture of Jerusalem
performed during the reign of his father and reported on briefly in his own annals (written
during his reign) he only mentions the taking of a tribute. But the fact that Sennacherib did
not capture Jerusalem remains incomprehensible and indirectly confirms the biblical
version. This chronological imbroglio comes therefore from the mixing of Sennacherib's
campaigns with those mentioned during the reign of Sargon. These first three campaigns of
Sennacherib are placed before three other ones which are not detailed (some reliefs of the
1st campaign recall details of the 4th campaign!)65. This mix has been developed for the
purpose of propaganda66. Chronological reconstitution of the reigns of Sargon II and
Sennacherib differ depending on official versions consulted. For example, according to a
Neo-Babylonian chronicle67, Sennacherib was king of Babylon during 704-703, then the
following period 688-681 would have been without a king, while according to the Canon of
Ptolemy68, these two periods were without a king. This contradiction is surprising since the
Babylonian reign of Sargon has been taken into account in the Canon of Ptolemy and, in
the case of Sennacherib, there are at least two contracts69 dated years 3 and 4 of his
Babylonian reign during the period 688-681. These disagreements show that the reigns of
Sargon and Sennacherib were already subject to interpretations very early in the past
(moreover, some dating by eponyms differ from dating by years of reign).
Levine70 tried to reconstruct the whole campaigns of Sennacherib while recognizing
that the period 705-702 was particularly confusing. Indeed, according to a King list, the
period 704-703 is assigned to Sennacherib, then Marduk-zakir-šumi II reigned 1 month,
63 J.A. BRINKMAN – Sennacherib's Babylonian Problem: an Interpretation

in: Journal of Cuneiform Studies 25, 1973, pp. 89-95.


64 L.D. LEVINE – Sennacherib's Southern Front: 704-689 B.C.

in: Journal of Cuneiform Studies 34 (1982) pp. 28-58.


65 J.M. RUSSEL – Sennacherib's Palace without Rival at Nineveh

Chicago 1991 Ed. The University of Chicago Press pp. 152-165.


66 A. LAATO – Assyrian Propaganda and the Falsification of History in the Royal Inscriptions of Sennacherib

in: Vetus Testamentum 45 (1995) pp. 198-226.


67 J.J. GLASSNER – Chroniques mésopotamiennes

Paris 1993 Éd. Belles Lettres pp. 180-182.


68 L. DEPUYDT – More Valuable than all Gold: Ptolemy Royal Canon

in: Journal of Cuneiform Studies 47 (1995) p. 98.


69 J.A. BRINKMAN, D.A. KENNEDY -Documentary Evidence for Early Neo-Babylonian Society

in: Journal of Cuneiform Studies 35 (1983) p. 14.


70 L.D. LEVINE – Sennacherib's Southern Front: 704-689 B.C.

in: Journal of Cuneiform Studies 34 (1982) pp. 28-58.


ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 27
Merodachbaladan II reigned 9 months (without regnal year) and the years 702 to 700 are
assigned to Bel-ibni. The second rule of Merodachbaladan II is set during the 1st campaign,
in 703, because the 2nd campaign is dated in the eponymy of Nabu-le'i in 702. According to
a Babylonian chronicle, this campaign is assigned to the 2nd year of Sennacherib in 703. The
canon of eponyms mentions the capture of cities of Larak and Sarabanu under the eponym
of Nabu-dînî-epuš in 704. And finally, in his various inscriptions Sennacherib put his 1st
campaign "at the beginning of his kingship". All these are irreconcilable. Levine chose to
put the reigns of Marduk-zakir-šumi II and Merodachbaladan II in 703 but this solution is
contradicted by the dates of economic contracts. Indeed, contracts71 under Bel-ibni require
placing the accession (and not year 1) of Bel-ibni in 703 (at least on 26/XI/00) because he
actually reigned 3 years. This new solution is contradicted once again by another contract
(BM 17310) dated paradoxically [-]/III/19 under Sargon II, which is a posthumous date
referring to 70372. The first three campaigns mentioned at the beginning of the reign of
Sennacherib, whose story was recorded in the palace of Khorsabad, during the eponyms
dated 703 to 701, are regarded to be the first three years of his reign but this assumption
leads to inconsistencies. The equivalence between the years of reign and number of
campaigns is contradictory73 and the timeline of events is impossible to reconstruct exactly.
Several events occurring identically, moreover, information in letters is diametrically
opposed to what one reads in royal inscriptions and the time required for the realization of
all these events is impossible to enforce (mainly the duration between the 1st and 2nd
campaign)74. Prosopography of important characters, as scribes and governors, generally
allows to dissociate two seemingly identical events, but as the duration between these events
is relatively short (10 years) it is impossible to decide (same characters75 appear at the end of
Sargon's reign and the beginning of Sennacherib's). An accurate chronological
reconstitution of the reign of Sargon is impossible, because the equation "campaign = year"
is default setting. In fact a campaign could take several years and a year could be without a
campaign. Tadmor76 notes, for example, that the dating of these campaigns in the annals of
Khorsabad is inconsistent with the data from the Nineveh fragmentary prisms. Similarly,
the annals of Sennacherib date the campaign against Merodach-Baladan in the accession
year of Sennacherib (705 BCE) whereas the 1st campaign of Sennacherib is dated eponymy
of Nabu-le'u (702 BCE). Tadmor concludes that historians of Sargon had to recount his
campaigns in Palestine and Egypt in geographical terms rather than in chronological order.
The reign of Ashurbanipal has the same problems of chronology77 (the arrangement of
campaigns is more geographical than chronological and differs from years of reign).
Given that Sennacherib's earliest accounts of his first campaigns (1st to 3rd), waged
against Merodachbaladan II and his southern Babylonian allies occurred in 704-702 BCE,
there is no room for a campaign to Judah which was in the far west. To solve this puzzle
71 dated: 26/XI/00, 7/XII/00, 13/XII/00, 26/VI/02, 29/XI/02, 29/I/03
J. EVERLING - Répartition chronologique et géographique des sources babyloniennes
in: Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires (2000) pp. 42-45).
72 Likewise another contract dated posthumously 11/IX/22 to Merodachbaladan II in 700.

J. EVERLING - Répartition chronologique et géographique des sources babyloniennes


in: Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires (2000) pp. 42-45).
73 M. FORD – The Contradictory Records of Sargon II of Assyria and the Meaning of Palû

in: Journal of Cuneiform Studies XXII (1969) pp.83,84.


74 A. FUCHS, S. PARPOLA – The Correspondence of Sargon I, Part III

in: State Archives of Assyria XV (2001) pp. XIV, XXII, XXXVI, LI notes 5,41.
75 M. DIETRICH – The Babylonian Correspondence of Sargon and Sennacherib

in: State Archives of Assyria XVII (2003) pp. XVI-XXI.


76 H. TADMOR – The Campaigns of Sargon II of Assur: a Chronological-Historical Study

in: Journal of Cuneiform Studies 12:1 (1958) pp. 22-40.


77 A.K. GRAYSON – The Chronology of the Reign of Ashurbanipal

in: Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie pp. 227-245.


28 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
most experts assume that the chronological inconsistencies of the first campaigns of
Sennacherib78 could be explained by the fact that the main goal of Assyrian records was
ideological rather than chronological79. This explanation is unacceptable because the
backbone of history is chronology not ideology.
Sennacherib's co-regency with Sargon being refused by all academic historians,
despite the abundance of evidence (stelae and bas-reliefs with two kings, Assyrian annals,
biblical texts mentioning two Assyrian kings at the same time), consequently Tiglath-pileser
III's co-regency is completely denied because we have apparently no evidence.
CO-REGENCY OF TIGLATH-PILESER III (782-746)
The period of time between the reigns of Adad-nîrârî III and Tiglath-pileser III is
known only by the Eponym List80 but no inscription of the 4 Assyrian kings who succeeded
Adad-nîrârî III has ever been found, nor their annals, except for Tiglath-pileser’s reign.
King Reign Coregent Commander-in-chief Period
(at Kalhu) (at Tel Barsip)
Adad-nîrârî III 811-807 Sammu-ramât mother Nergal-ilâya 810 -
807 - -797?
-783 Šamšî-ilu 797? -
Shalmaneser IV 783-773 ? son 1
Aššur-dân III 773-755 ? son 2
Aššur-nîrârî V 755-745 ? son 3 -750?
Tiglath-pileser III 745-744 son 4 Nabû-da’inanni 744 -
744-727 Shalmaneser V son 1 -726
Shalmaneser V 727-722 Ninurta-ilaya? 726 -

This time period (811-722) includes several oddities:


ØAdad-nîrârî III started his reign with a 4-year co-regency with his mother, the famous
Semiramis (Sammu-ramât). It was indeed a co-regency since Semiramis led a military
campaign alongside her son81. The explanation could be that he had to be at least 20 years
old to be able to reign, because according to Herodotus: After valour in battle it is accounted
noble to father the greatest number of sons: the king sends gifts yearly to him who gets most. Strength, they
believe, is in numbers. They educate their boys from 5 to 20 years old (...) Hystaspes son of Arsames was
an Achaemenid, and Darius was the eldest of his sons, then about 20 years old; this Darius had been left
behind in Persia, not yet being of an age to go on campaign (The Histories I:136,209). Adad-nîrârî
III may have become king at the age of 16 years and the co-regency of Semiramis ended
when he reached 20.
ØInstead of the usual transition father/son, four brothers (Shalmaneser IV, Aššur-dân III,
Aššur-nîrârî V, Tiglath-pileser III) succeeded one another on the throne of Assyria.
ØUsually the commander-in-chief was chosen in the first year of the new Assyrian king, but
Shashi-ilu was reappointed to office by the three successors of Adad-nîrârî.
ØUsually Assyrian kings chose their co-regent after their 5th year of reign, but Tiglath-pileser
III (bottom left) chose his son Shalmaneser V (bottom right) as co-regent from the 1st
year of his reign. The wall panel82 describes some of the campaigns of Tiglath Pileser III in
Iran in 744 BCE. The inscription on this slab deals with Tiglath-pileser III's campaigns
78 E. FRAHM – New Sources for Sennacherib’s First Campaign

in: ISIMU 6 (2003), pp 129-164.


79 J. VAN RENSBURG – The Attack on Judah in Sennacherib's Third Campaign: An Ideological Study of the Various Texts

in: Old Testament Essays 17:4 (2004), pp. 560-579.


80 A. MILLARD – The Eponym Lists in English

in: State Archives of Assyria Studies volume II (1994) pp. 70-71.


81 J.M. RUSSEL – The Reign of Nîrârî III

Leiden 2013, Ed. Brill, pp. 86-100.


82 Wall panel number 118933 in the British Museum.
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 29
against the provinces of Media. The Annals of the king report two campaigns against
Media, one in his 2nd, the other in his 9th palû. According to Rost, the part of the
inscription preserved on this slab belongs to the campaign of the 2nd palû.

This enthronement ceremony of Shalmaneser V is also shown in Til Barsip with 2


eunuchs behind Tiglath-pileser III83. It is interesting to note that this event took place
shortly after Tiglath-pileser led a revolt (in 746 BCE) against his brother84 (Aššur-nîrârî V).
Many unusual events have thus preceded the reign of Tiglath-pileser. To enlighten
them, one must know exactly the historical and geographical context of this period 811-745
BCE. The chronology of most of these kingdoms is approximate (in italics) because it is
obtained indirectly by some synchronisms with Assyrian reigns, which are themselves
poorly documented over the period. The king of Hamath85, Mati’ilu (785-740), is interesting
because he made treaties with two Assyrian kings: Aššur-nîrârî V and Bar-Ga’yah (?).
83 F. JOANNÈS - Dictionnaire de la civilisation mésopotamienne
Paris 2001 Éd. Robert Laffont p. 312.
84 J.M. RUSSEL – The Reign of Nîrârî III

Leiden 2013, Ed. Brill, pp. 126.


85 T. BRYCE – The World of the Neo-Hittite Kingdoms

Oxford 2012, Ed. Oxford University Press, pp. 134-138.


30 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
King of Arpad Reign King of Reign King of Syria Reign King of Reign
(Bit Agusi) Hamath (Damascus) Assyria
Bar-Hadad I 950-920 Aššur-dan II 935-912
Bar-Hadad II 920-890 Adad-nîrârî II 912-891
Parita 900 - Hazael 890 - Tukulti-Ninurta II 891-884
Gusi 880 - -870 Aššurnasirpal II 884 -
-860 Urḫilina 870 - -859
Hadram 860 - Shalmaneser III 859 -
-830 -840 -840
Attar-šumki I 830 - Uratami 840 - Bar-Hadad III 840 - -824
-810 Šamši-Adad V 824-811
-800 Zakkur I 810 - -805 Adad-nîrârî III 811 -
Bar-Hadad 800-796 Mari’ 805 -
Attar-šumki II 796-785 -780 -783
Mati’ilu 785 - -775 Heziôn II 780 - Shalmaneser IV 783-773
Zakkur II? 775 - -750 Aššur-dan III 773-755
? Rezîn 750 - Aššur-nîrârî V 755-745
-740 -740 Tiglatpileser III 745 -
Eni-ilu 740 - -732
-730 Assyrian 732 - -727
province
Yaubîdi 730-720 -720 Shalmaneser V 727-722
Sargon II 722-705
Sennacherib 705-681
Esarhaddon 681-669
It should be noted that Menahem (771-760), paid a tribute to an Assyrian king named
Pul[u] (2Ki 15:19-20), not to Pulu (728-727) who was a Babylonian king.
King of Judah Reign # King of Israel Reign # Reference
Asa 957 - 41 Nadab 06/955-05/954 2 1Ki 15:10,25
Baasha 06/954-04/931 24 1Ki 15:28,33
Elah 05/931-04/930 2 1Ki 16:8
-916 Omri/ 06/930-05/919 12 1Ki 16:21-23
Jehoshaphat 916 - 25 Ahab 06/919-01/898 22 1Ki 16:29
-891 Ahaziah 02/898-01/897 2 1Ki 22:51
Jehosaphat/Jehoram [893-891] [2] Jehoram Ahab's son 02/897-09/886 12 2Ki 3:1
Jehoram 893 - 8 [Ahaziah]/ Joram [07/887-09/886] 1 2Ki 9:29
-885 Ahaziah 10/886-09/885 1 2Ki 9:24,27
[Athaliah] Jehoyada 885-879 6 Jehu 10/885-03/856 28 2Ki 10:36
Joash 879 - 40 Jehoahaz 04/856-09/839 17 2Ki 10:35;
13:1
-839 Jehoahaz/ Jehoash [01/841-09/839] 2 2Ki 13:10
Amaziah 839 - 29 Jehoash 09/839-01/823 16 2Ki 13:10
-810 Jeroboam II 01/823-05/782 41 2Ki 14:23
Uzziah 810 - 52 [Zechariah] 06/782-02/771 [11] 2Ki 14:29
[Azariah] [796 - Zechariah 03/771-08/771 6 m. 2Ki 15:8
Shallum 09/771 1 m. 2Ki 15:13
Menahem 10/771-03/760 10 2Ki 15:17
-758 Peqayah 04/760-03/758 2 2Ki 15:23
Jotham 758-742 16 Peqah 04/758-05/738 20 2Ki 15:27
Ahaz 742-726 16 [Hoshea] 06/738-01/729 9 2Ki 15:27-30
Hezekiah 726-697 29 Hoshea 02/729-09/720 9 2Ki 17:1,3
Manasseh 697-642 55 2Ki 21:1
Amon 642-640 2 2Ki 21:19
Josiah 640-609 31 2Ki 22:1
Jehoachaz -609 3 m. 2Ch 36:2
Jehoiaqim 609-598 11 2Ch 36:5
Jehoiachin -598 3 m. 2Ch 36:9
Zedekiah 598-587 11 2Ch 36:11
Jehoiachin 587-561 26 Jr 52:31
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 31
According to the Bible: Pul the king of Assyria came into the land. Consequently Menahem
gave Pul 1000 talents of silver, that his hands might prove to be with him to strengthen the kingdom in his
own hand. So Menahem brought forth the silver at the expense of Israel, at the expense of all the valiant,
mighty men, to give to the king of Assyria 50 silver shekels for each man. At that the king of Assyria
turned back, and he did not stay there in the land (2Ki 15:19-20). Furthermore Pul preceded
Tiglath-pileser: Consequently the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul the king of Assyria even the
spirit of Tilgath-pileser the king of Assyria, so that he took into exile those of the Reubenites and of the
Gadites and of the half tribe of Manasseh and brought them to Halah and Habor and Hara and the river
Gozan [to continue] until this day (1Ch 5:26). Given that Tiglath-pileser III used the nickname
pulu, hypocoristic of aplu "heir" in Assyrian86, when he became king of Babylonia (729-727),
it is logical to deduce that it was his former name as co-regent, in the same manner that
titles like turtanu "commander-in-chief" or rab ša-reši "chief officer" were used instead of
proper names (2K 18:17). According to Josephus the Assyrian king called Pulas reigned 36
years: the king of Assyria invaded all Syria and Phoenicia in a hostile manner. The name of this king is
also set down in the archives of Tyre, for he made an expedition against Tyre in the reign of Eluleus; and
Menander attests to it (...): And Elulaios (?), to whom they gave the name of Pulas, reigned 36 years; this
king, upon the revolt of the Citteans (Cyprians), sailed to them, and reduced them again to a submission
(Jewish Antiquities IX:283-287). Given that Tiglath-pileser III revolted against his brother
(Aššur-nîrârî V) in 746 BCE, his co-regency began 36 years earlier in 782 BCE, which fits
exactly inside the list of co-regencies (below) to the one deduced for Tiglath-pileser III:
King (at Kalhu) Reign Co-regent Commander-in-chief Period
Aššurnasirpal II 884-871 [Aššur-iddin] 883 -
871-859 Shalmaneser III son 1 -858
Shalmaneser III 859 - Aššur-bêlu-ka’’in 858-854
-846 Dayyan-Aššur 854 -
846-821 Aššur-danin-pal son 1
827-824 Šamšî-Adad V son 2 -824
Šamšî-Adad V 824 - Yaḫâlu 824-815
-811 Bêlu-lû-balâṭ 815-810
Aššur-nîrârî III 811-807 Sammu-ramât mother Nergal-ilâya 810 -
807 - -797?
-783 Šamšî-ilu 797? -
Shalmaneser IV 783-773 Pulu son 1
Aššur-dân III 773-755 son 2
Aššur-nîrârî V 755-745 son 3 -750?
Tiglath-pileser III 745-744 son 4 Nabû-da’inanni 744 -
744-727 Shalmaneser V son 1 -726
Shalmaneser V 727-722 Ninurta-ilaya? 726 -
Sargon II (at Nineveh) 722-715 son 2
715-705 Sennacherib son 1 -710
Sennacherib 705-699 ?
699-684 Arda-Mulissu son 1 Bêl-emuranni (right) 687 -
684-681 Esarhaddon son 2 -680
Esarhaddon 681-674
674-672 Sin-nâdin-apli son 1
672-669 Aššurbanipal
Aššurbanipal 669-654 Bêl-na’id 664 -
654-627 Aššur-etel-ilâni son 1
Aššur-etel-ilâni 627-626 Sin-šar-iškun son 2
Sin-šar-iškun 626-619
619-612 Aššur-uballit II? son 2
Aššur-uballit II 612-609
86F. JOANNÈS - Dictionnaire de la civilisation mésopotamienne
Paris 2001 Éd. Robert Laffont p. 850.
32 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
The co-regency of Tiglath-pileser III is therefore not exceptional, quite the contrary,
since 9 out of 16 Assyrian kings during the period 884-609 BCE had a period of co-regency
before reigning. Consequently the mysterious Assyrian king called Bar-Ga’yah, “son of
majesty” in Aramaic, was the same Assyrian king called Pulu “the heir” in Assyrian. This
explanation, which is simply in harmony with all historical data, is not even considered by
mainstream historians because of their dogma about the lack of co-regency. They prefer to
identify the Assyrian king called Bar-Ga’yah (783-745) to the commander-in-chief Shamshi-
ilu (797?-750?) or the king Aššur-nîrârî V (755-745). It is easy to see that, from a linguistic
point of view87, this identification is very unlikely because the translation of the Aramaic
name Bar-Ga’yah ("son of majesty") into Assyrian does not match either to Shamshi-ilu
“my sun is god”, or to Aššur-nîrârî “Aššur is my help”. For example, Zakutu (701-668), a
wife of Sennacherib was the Akkadian name “the pure one” of Naqia, a name meaning the
same in Aramaic: "the pure one". However, for scientific historians the ultimate argument is
chronology, consequently: Is it possible that the commander-in-chief, Shamshi-ilu, could
have been the Assyrian king called Bar-Ga’yah in Aramaic?
Mattiel (785-740?), King of Arpad, made four Treaties of Loyalty or allegiance at the
beginning of the reign of a new Assyrian king88, three in Aramaic and one in Akkadian with
Aššur-nîrârî V (755-745). The treaty of loyalty with Aššur-nîrârî V shows that the king of
Arpad was a vassal of the Assyrian king, which was likely written at the beginning of his
reign (in 754 BCE). The Assyrian treaty in Aramaic with Bar-Ga’yah shows that the king of
Arpad was acting as a vassal with the king of KTK (?) in the same way as other kings
mentioned in the Treaty89 (such as those of Mutsri and Aram), which was likely written at
the beginning of Bar-Ga’yah's reign. The other two Treaties of loyalty had to be concluded
with Shalmaneser IV and Aššur-nîrârî V (in 754 BCE). Given that Bar-Ga’yah was King of
KTK (instead of Assyria) means that he was not the official king but only coregent (thus he
could lead military campaigns and ask for booty). The identification of the mysterious KTK
has stirred up the delirious imagination of linguists and epigraphists, while this city
(Kittika?) could only be Til Barsip, the military capital of the Assyrian kingdom of Bit Adini
(from 856 BCE) for their westward expansion. Given that King Mati’el was a vassal of King
Bar-Ga’yah the latter was more powerful than the king of Arpad and as in this treaty several
deities from the Assyrian pantheon are invoked (Mulissu, Marduk, Nabu, Nergal and
Shamash), Bar Gay’ah should be an Assyrian king90. However, Lemaire and Durand argued
that Bar-Ga’yah should be understood as one and the same person as an Assyrian
commander-in-chief, Shamshi-ilu, who would have usurped the title of king. This bold
hypothesis is absolutely unreasonable for the following reasons91:
ØAll the inscriptions of Shamshi-ilu mention the rank of commander-in-chief, never a title
of king. In addition, the fact that he was reappointed as commander-in-chief by three
successive Assyrian kings, as indicate his eponymous years (in 780, 770 and 752 BCE),
proves that he was considered perfectly loyal.
ØIf Shamshi-ilu had usurped the title of king (only with the king of Arpad!), it would have
given him only an honorary one because he was already conducting military campaigns
87 C.L. CROUCH – Israel and the Assyrians: Deuteronomy, the Succession Treaty of Esarhaddon, and the Nature of Subversion

Atlanta 2014, Ed. Society of Biblical Lit, pp. 96-106.


88 F. JOANNÈS - Dictionnaire de la civilisation mésopotamienne

Paris 2001 Éd. Robert Laffont p. 818.


89 B.T. ARNOLD, B.E. BEYER– Readings from the Ancient Near East

Michigan 2002, Ed. Baker Academic, pp. 101-103.


90 C.A. ROLLSTON – Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel: Epigraphic Evidence from the Iron Age

Atlanta 2010, Ed. Society of Biblical Lit, pp. 56-57.


91 P.E. DION – Les inscriptions araméennes de Sfiré et l’Assyrie de Shamshi-ilu by André Lemaire ; Jean-Marie Durand

in: Journal of Biblical Literature 105 :3 (1986) pp. 510-512.


ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 33
and as eunuch he was not able to start a dynasty. However if that was the case why would
have he changed his name for glorifying an unknown "son of majesty".
ØBar-Ga’yah begins his treaty by this phrase: The treaty of King Bar-Ga’yah of KTK, with Mati’el
son of Attarsamak, the king of Arpad; and the treaty of the sons of Bar-ga’yah with the sons of Mati’el,
that proves he had a great sense of humour because he was a eunuch. To avoid this
ludicrous improbability, some scholars argue that the title of eunuch was only honorary,
but unfortunately for them we have at least four steles (see below)92 on which Shamshi-ilu
is depicted beardless (true eunuch). If Shamshi-ilu had been capable of growing a beard,
why did he shave it off when the king of Assyria, his nominal superior or even rival, is
always shown bearded93? It should be noted that although Adad-it’i, governor (šaknu) of
Guzân (c.850-c.825) is called king (mlk) of Guzân in the Aramaic version of the
Akkadian/Aramaic bilingual statue inscription from Tell Fekheriyeh, opposite Guzân he is
also shown bearded94.
One can see that Shamshi-ilu (right) is
represented beardless and bare-headed, face to a
god (left) which is wearing the cylindrical triple-
horned helmet of divinity (Aššur). It is a typical
Assyrian deity closely comparable with other
well-known representations such as the god
glazed tile from Assur or Khorsabad Palace
painting, although the lotus in the hand (similar
to the representations of the kings of Byblos) is
somewhat unusual for a god. Usually only kings
were in front of gods, but as Shamshi-ilu was
serving two Assyrian kings at the same time (a
king and a co-regent) he would have to
represent a dual king, which would have been
incomprehensible for an Assyrian (but not later
for an Achaemenid official, like in the case of
the co-regency between King Darius and Xerxes
his co-regent).
ØLast detail, if Shamshi-ilu was the Assyrian king Bar Gayah he would have represented
himself larger, identifying him as king and not as a high-ranking official.
All these facts show that Shamshi-ilu was actually a commander-in-chief and not a king.
These findings are now being accepted but what is absurd is that, rather than looking for a
co-regency of an Assyrian king, the academics suggest now a new hypothesis even more
unlikely: Bar Gayah would have been a pseudonym of a king of Hamath (780-740?) who
was an Assyrian vassal95. This new hypothesis is also absolutely unreasonable for the
following reasons:
ØIf Bar Gayah had been a king of Hamath, who was a vassal of Assyria like the king of
Arpad, one may wonder what would have been the goal of such a treaty of loyalty,
because this kind of treaty had to be concluded solely between a king and his vassal but
92 O. AYTUĞ TAŞYÜREK – Some New Assyrian Rock-Reliefs in Turkey
in: Anatolian Studies 25 (1975), pp. 169-180.
93 P.J.N. LAWRENCE – Assyrian Nobles and the Book of Jonah

in: Tyndale Bulletin 37 (1986) pp 121-132.


94 A. ABŪ-ʿASSĀF, P. BORDREUIL, A.A.R. MILLARD- La Statue de Tell Fekherye: et son inscription bilingue assyro-araméenne

Paris 1982 Éd. A.D.P.F. pp. 13,23 (plates).


95 L.R. SIDDALL – The Reign of Adad-nîrârî III

Leiden 2013, Ed. Brill, pp. 120-121.


34 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
not between two vassals. For example, King of Arpad, Mati’el had concluded several
treaties of loyalty with successive Assyrian kings, however Tiglath-pileser III mentioned in
his annals (Iran Stele): In my 3rd palû [743 BCE], Matīʾ-il, [the son of A]ttar-šumqa (Attar-
šumkī), fomented a rebellious insurrection against Assyria and violated (his loyalty oath). [He sent]
hostile messages about Assyria [to] the kings who ... to the ... of the land Ḫatti (Syria-Palestine) (and) ...
the land Urarṭu and (thus) caused en[mity] in all (of those) lands. Sarduri of the land Urarṭu, [Sulum]al
of the land Me[lid], (and) Tarqularu (Tarḫularu) of the land Gurgum [came] to [his] aid. [Between] the
lands Kištan and Ḫalpi, districts of the land Kummuḫu, [they] trusted in [one another’s strength and]
drew up a battle array. Consequently Mati’el was loyal to Assyrian kings until 743 BCE (he
was probably killed in 740 BCE when Tiglath-pileser III attacked Arpad).
ØIn Bar-Ga’yah’s treaty several deities from the Assyrian pantheon are invoked (Mulissu,
Marduk, Nabu, Nergal and Shamash), which are significantly different from the
Hamathite pantheon (Iluwer, Baalshamayn, Shamash, Shahar and Baal) mentioned in the
Zakkur inscription96.
ØBar Gayah was king of KTK, if this city was Hamath it has never been written in this way
as can be seen in the titulature of Hamathite kings97:
King of Hamath Reign Titulature in inscriptions Inscription98
Parita 900-870 ? CHLI I: IX
Urḫilina 870-840 I (am) Urhilina, son of Paritas, Hamathite King CHLI I: IX
Uratami 840-810 I (am) Uratamis, Urhilina’son, Hamathite King CHLI I: IX
Zakkur I 810-780 Zakkur, the Hamathite Antakya Stela
Zakkur II? 780-740 Zakkur, king of Hamath and Lu‘ash Zakkur Stela
Eni-ilu 740-730 ?
Yaubîdi 730-720 ?
It is true that names of cities are different according to languages but the consonantal
structure remains the same as can be seen in the names of following cities: Hamath (Am
6:2), Hadrach (Zk 9:1) and the Cilician Plain (Gal 1:21).
Writing Hamath Hadrach Cilician Plain
Aramaic /(Phoenician) ḤMT ḤZRK (KW DNNYM)
Hittite Amatuwana ? Kizuwatna
Hebrew ḤMT ḤDRK KLKYH?
Luwian hieroglyph Imatu Halpa Katawatana
Assyrian/ Akkadian Ḫamat Ḫatarikka Qawe Kisuatni/ Danuna
It is found that changes in the transcripts are of low amplitude99: Hamat (Aramaic),
Imatu (Luwian)100 or Amatuwana (Hittite), consequently the identification of Hamath with
KTK is not possible. Lemaire and Durand suggested that KTK could be an ancient name
of Til Barsip, capital of Bit-Adini, because when Shalmaneser III in his 1st regnal year (858
BCE) attacked three towns of Ahuni, king of Bit-Adini, one of them was called Ki-[x]-qa.
However this bold suggestion can be safely dismissed for two reasons101: the name Til
Barsip appears (URU.Tíl!-˹bur˺!-˹si˺!-˹ip˺!) in the inscription of Shalmanaser III (line 33 of the
Kurkh Monolith) instead of Ki-[it-ti?]-qa and, secondly, from around 1000 BCE Til-Barsip
96 S.B. NOEGEL – The Zakkur Inscription

in: The Ancient Near East : Historical Sources in Translation (Blackwell, 2006), pp 307-311.
97 T. BRYCE – The World of the Neo-Hittite Kingdoms

Oxford 2012, Ed. Oxford University Press, pp. 134-138.


98 Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions Vol. I
99 F.C. WOUDHUIZEN – Note on the Various Names of the Cilician Plain in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Sources

in: Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires 3 (2014), pp 112-114.


100 A. PAYNE – Hieroglyphic Luwian : An Introduction with Original Texts

Wiesbaden 2010, Ed. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, pp. 49-58.


101 S. YAMADA –URU.Tíl!-˹bur˺!-˹si˺!-˹ip˺!, the Correct Reading of the Problematic Name Ki-x-(x-)qa in Shalmaneser III’s Kurkh

Monolith in: Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires 2 (1995), pp 24-25.


ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 35
(Aramaic) was called Masuwari by the Hittites, not Kattika; then from 856 BCE she was
called Kar-Salmanašared by the Assyrians. Therefore, the simplest explanation of the
enigma KTK (Aramaic) is to admit that the Assyrian king who introduced himself under
the pompous pseudonym of Bar-Ga’yah "son of majesty" also chose a noble name for Til
Barsip his capital. It is noteworthy that the word kittika (ki-it-ti-ka) means "your loyalty" in
Assyrian and could be written KTK in Aramaic. This way of doing was usual at that time
because the Assyrians were calling Attar-šumki the king of Arpad: Bar-Guš “son of Gush”
King of Bit-Agusi “the house of Gush”, similarly the son of Hazael, King of Damascus,
was called Bar-Hadad (III) king of Aram “Syria”. It was thus usual to name a king by his
affiliation with the founder of his dynasty: Guš, Hadad or “Majesty (Aššur-nîrârî III)”,
however: 1) Til Barsip, which was the capital of Bit-Adini “the house of Eden (Am 1:5)”,
was not anymore a vassal kingdom of Assyria but a part of the Empire and 2) Tiglath-
pileser III rarely mentioned his affiliation to his father (Aššur-nîrârî III) but instead
preferred using his title pulu, which means literally “son as heir”, a synonym of the Assyrian
expression mar šarru “son of King” used for Crown Prince.
The anomalous career of Bēl-Ḫarran-bēlī-uṣur102 is another clue of the co-regency of
Tiglath-pileser with Shalmanaser IV. Despite being a palace herald of Shalmanaser IV, he
supported Tiglath-pileser against Aššur-nîrârî V during the revolt of 746 BCE and was
appointed as eponym of Tiglath-pileser III in 741 BCE. Curiously, Bēl-Ḫarran-bēlī-uṣur’s
name appears first in the text on a stone stele, before the name of the king103 which was
later changed to Tiglath-pileser104. The most logical explanation is to admit he was an
officer of Bar Ga’yah who was co-regent during the reign of Shalmaneser IV105.
Highlighting the reign of Bar-Ga’yah is hindered because only sporadic information
is available about the Aramaean states during the period 800-750 BCE, only a few
prominent kings are known like Mati’el (785-740) the king of Arpad, Zakkur II (780-740)
the king of Hamath, Heziôn (780-750) the king of Syria and Menahem (771-760) the king
of Samaria, but most events of their reigns are controversial. During this period the main
features seem to be the following: the kingdom of Damascus, the most powerful of the
time, resisted the Assyrian expansionism and encouraged several revolts. The kingdom of
Hamath who had joined at first the revolt became afterward a vassal of Assyria in order to
strengthen its influence in Syria and the Kingdom of Arpad which was a vassal of Assyria
was eventually annexed in 740 BCE. According to the Eponym Chronicle there were six
campaigns in Syria during Bar-Ga’yah’s reign (783-746), the one of 773 was clearly a war
against the kingdom of Syria which brought a considerable booty from Damascus. The
three campaigns “to Hatarikka”, belonging to Mati’el's kingdom (whose capital was Arpad)
and was close to the border with the kingdom of Hamath, may have been directed against
the king of Hamath or, on the contrary, be aimed at helping a loyal vassal of Assyria against
enemies. At last, Aššur-nîrârî V’s campaign to Arpad, in 754, is certainly related to the
vassalage treaty imposed by the Assyrian to Mati’el and for the same reason the same treaty
during Aššur-dân III’s campaign to Hatarikka, in 772106. The main difficulty is to locate at
what time (800-775) Assyria supported Zakkur II and which king107.
102 L.R. SIDDALL – The Reign of Adad-nîrârî III

Leiden 2013, Ed. Brill, pp. 126-128.


103 In addition, he mentions in the text that he had founded a new city, which was a Royal Prerogative.
104 A.K. GRAYSON – Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millenium BC

Toronto 2002, Ed. University of Toronto Press, pp. 241-243.


105 As Bar Ga’yah was not an official king, his name (granted to the official king) was placed after Bel-Harran-beli-usur's name.
106 E. LIPINSKI – On the Skirts of Canaan in the Iron Age: Historical and Topographical Researches

Leiden 2006, Ed. Peeters Publishers, p. 220.


107 D.J. GREEN – "I Undertook Great Works": The Ideology of Domestic Achievements in West Semitic Royal Inscriptions

Tübingen 2010, Ed. Mohr Siebeck, pp. 157-174.


36 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
The only campaign led by Bar-Ga’yah, which is precisely dated, took place when
Menahem gave him a tribute (765 BCE): Pul the king of Assyria came into the land. Consequently
Menahem gave Pul 1000 talents of silver, that his hands might prove to be with him to strengthen the
kingdom in his own hand. So Menahem brought forth the silver at the expense of Israel, at the expense of
all the valiant, mighty men, to give to the king of Assyria 50 silver shekels for each man. At that the king
of Assyria turned back, and he did not stay there in the land (2K 15:19-20). The purpose of the first
campaign in Syria in 775 BCE is unknown but it was probably led in order to conclude new
treaties with some Aramaean kingdoms. Consequently one can suppose that the treaty
made by Aššur-nîrârî V with Mati’el in 754 BCE was the fourth one.
bce ASSYRIA CO-REGENT CAMPAIGN IN SYRIA BIT AGUSI JUDEA ISRAEL
786 25 Adad-nîrârî III 24 Azariah 37 Jeroboam
785 26 Mati’el 25 38
784 27 26 39
783 28 27 40
782 1 Shalmaneser IV Bar-Ga’yah 28 41
781 2 (1) 29 1 Zekariah
780 3 (2) 30 [2]
779 4 (3) 31 [3]
778 5 (4) 32 [4]
777 6 (5) 33 [5]
776 7 (6) 34 [6]
775 8 (7) To the Cedar Mountain 1st Treaty 35 [7]
774 9 (8) 36 [8]
773 10 (9) To Damascus 2nd Treaty 37 [9]
772 1 Aššur-dân III (10) To Hatarikka 3rd Treaty 38 [10]
771 2 (11) 39 [11] Shallum
770 3 (12) 40 1 Menahem
769 4 (13) 41 1
768 5 (14) 42 2
767 6 (15) 43 3
766 7 (16) 44 4
765 8 (17) Pulu To Hatarikka 45 5 tribute
764 9 (18) 46 6
763 10 (19) 47 7
762 11 (20) 48 8
761 12 (21) 49 9
760 13 (22) 50 10 Pekayah
759 14 (23) 51 1
758 15 (24) 52 Jotham 2 Pekah
757 16 (25) 1 1
756 17 (26) 2 2
755 18 (27) To Hatarikka 3 3
754 1 Aššur-nêrari V (28) To Arpad 4th Treaty 4 4
753 2 Assyrian army defeated (29) by Sarduri II (Urartu) 5 5
752 3 (30) 6 6
751 4 (31) 7 7
750 5 (32) 8 8
749 6 (33) 9 9
748 7 (34) 10 10
747 8 (35) 11 11
746 9 (36) Revolt in Kalhu 12 12
745 10 Tiglath-pileser III 0 13 13
744 1 14 14
743 2 To Arpad Treaty broken 15 15
742 3 To Arpad 16 16
741 4 To Arpad 1 Ahaz 17
740 5 To Arpad 2 18
739 6 3 19
738 7 4 20
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 37
The city of Hadrach (Hatarikka) had a central position in the triangle formed by the
three capitals: Til Barsip, Hamath and Arpad (see below):

In the Bible, there is a clear distinction between Pul, king of Assyria, to whom
The Assyrian Empire in the late eighth century B.C.E.
Menahem paidCopyright
tribute in 765 BCE (2Ki
© Andromeda 15:19-20)
Oxford and Tiglath-pileser
Limited 1990, III the Assyrian king
www.andromeda.co.uk
to whom Ahaz sought help 24 years later in 741 BCE (2Ki 16:1,7-10). The reign of Zakkur,
king of Hamath and Luash (Zakkur II), couldxxprovide additional confirmation but his reign
is very difficult to date in a precise and reliable manner108. Because of the difference in their
titulature and chronology, there might be two kings named Zakkur: 1) Zakkur I, the
Hamathite (810-775) mentioned in the Antakya Stela and 2) Zakkur II, king of Hamath and
Lu‘ash (775-740) mentioned in the Zakkur Stela.
108 N.
NA'AMAN – Ancient Israel and Its Neighbors : Interaction and Counteraction : Collected Essays
Winona Lake 2005, Ed. Eisenbrauns, pp. 21-23.
38 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
The following event during Zakkur I’s reign is described in the Antakya Stela: Adad-
nîrârî [III], great king, might king, king of the universe, king of Assyria, son of Šamši-Adad [V], might
king, king of the universe, king of Assyria, son of Shalmaneser [III], king of the four quarters. The
boundary which Adad-nîrârî, king of Assyria, and Šamši-ilu, the commander-in-chief, established between
Zakkur, the Hamathite, and Ataršumki [in Arpad], son of Adrame: the city of Nahlasi together with all
its fields, its orchards and its settlements is Ataršumki's property. They divided the Orontes river between
them. This is the border. Adad-nîrârî, king of Assyria, and Šamši-ilu, the commander-in-chief, have
released it from obligations free and clear to Ataršumki, son of Adrame, to his sons, and his subsequent
grandsons. He established his city and its territories [...] to the border of his land. By the name of Aššur,
Adad, and Ber, the Assyrian Enlil, the Assyrian Ninlil, and the name Sin, who dwells in Harran, the
great gods of Assyria: whoever afterwards speaks ill of the terms of this stela, and takes away by force this
border from the possession of Ataršumki, his sons, or his grandsons, and destroys the written name and
writes another name: may Aššur, Adad, and Ber, Sin who dwells in Harran, the great gods of Assyria
whose names are recorded on this stela, not listen to his prayers. The stela is dated in 796 because
Shamshi-ilu was commander-in-chief (c. 797-750) and king Adad-nîrârî III (811-783) visited
the region in 796 during the campaign against Mansuate according to the Eponym
Chronicle. The Zakkur Stela has significant gaps, but the central part refers to a major
attack which had been fomented by Bar-Hadad III (840-805): The stela that Zakkur, king of
Hamath and Luash, set up for Iluwer, [his god.] I am Zakkur, king of Hamath and Luash. I was a man
of low estate, but Baalshamên [designated] me and he stood with me and Baalshamên made me king [in]
Hadrach (Hatarikka). Then Bar-Hadad the son of Hazael, the king of Aram, formed an alliance with
sev[enteen] kings: Bir-Hadad and his army, Bar-Gush and his army, the king of Kue and his army, the
king of Umq and his army, the king of Gurgum and his army, the king of Sam’al and his army, the king
of Miliz and his army, the king of] [... and his army, the king of ... and his army —that is, seve[nteen] of
them with their armies. All these kings set up a siege against Hadrach. They raised a wall higher than the
wall of Hadrach. They dug a moat deeper than its moat. But I lifted my hands to Baalshamên, and
Baalshamên answered me, and Baalshamên [spoke] to me through seers and through visionaries, and
Baalshamaên [said]: “Fear not, for I have made [you] king, [and I who will st]and with [you], and I will
deliver you from all [these kings who] have forced a siege against you!” Then Baalshamên said to me [...
“]all these kings who have forced [a siege against you ...] and this wall which ... The inscription’s date is
much debated but it is usually placed some time between 800-775109. Zakkur's account
mentions a providential help from Baalshamên who had successfully broken the siege. It is
generally agreed, however, that in reality the siege was broken by means of some
intervention, which occurred in 805 when Adad-nîrârî III led a campaign against Arpad.
However this major event had to occur before Zakkur’s enthronement, not during his
reign, because if the Assyrians had intervened to rescue him, as did Kilamuwa, the king of
Sam’al (840-830), before him, he would have gratefully acknowledged this, but it is not the
case. The primary purpose of its inscription is to prove that his reign is providential from
the start and that he enjoys the support of his deity and consequently of Assyria. Since the
gods and kings are never anonymous in Semitic inscriptions110, the name of the Assyrian
king who helped or appointed Zakkur, must be named in the lacuna at the beginning of the
inscription111 (on the left of the stela)112: [Approximately 30 lines missing] Hazrak [...] for the
chariotry [and] the cavalry [...] its king in its midst. I [rebuilt] Hazrak (Hatarikka), and [I] added [to
109 D.J.GREEN – "I Undertook Great Works": The Ideology of Domestic Achievements in West Semitic Royal Inscriptions
Tübingen 2010, Ed. Mohr Siebeck, pp. 157-174.
110 B. MARGALIT – The Rise and Fall of Zakkur, King of Hamath-and-Lu‘ash in: NABU 1 (1994), pp 13-14.
111 F. BRIQUEL-CHATONNET – Les relations entre les cites de la côte phénicienne et les royaumes d’Israël et de Juda

Leiden 1992, Ed. Peeters Publisher, p. 128.


112 M. NISSINEN – Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East

in: Writings from the Ancient World n°12 (Society of Biblical Literature, 2003), pp. 204-207.
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 39
it] the entire region of [Luash?] and [I] es[tablish]ed [my] reign [...] these strongholds throughout [my]
territ[ory]. [Then I reb]uilt the temples of the gods in a[ll] my [territory], and I rebuilt [...] Apish and [...]
the temple of [... And] I set up befo[re Iluwer] this stela, and [I] ins[cribed on] it the accomplishment of my
hands. [Anyone at all] who removes the acc[omplishment of the hands of] Zakkur, king of Hama[th and
Lu]ash, from this stela, and whoe[ver re]moves this stela from [befo]re Iluwer and takes it away fr[om] its
[pla]ce, or whosoever sends [...] Baa]lshamayn and I[luwer ...] and Shamash and Shahar [...] and the
go[ds] of heave[n and the god]s of the earth and Baal. Although the text is not clear, Zakkur
established his reign just after he had mentioned an anonymous king. In fact the translation
“its king in its midst (mlkh bgwh)” makes no sense. In contrast the translation: “its king Bi-
Gawah” is more logical and fits better to the context because during the years 796 and 755
the Kingdom of Hamath-and-Luash was the ascending power in the West113. The name Bi-
Gawah (or Ba-Gaya) is a contracted form of Bar-Ga’wah114 “son of majesty” like Bi-dqar (2Ki
9:25) is a contracted form115 of Bar-Deqer (1Ki 4:9) “son of piercing”. Consequently Zakkur
would owe to the Assyrian king Bar-Ga’wah, the rebuilding of his kingdom when Luash116
was incorporated into it, likely when the Assyrians came to the Cedar Mountain in 775.
It is noteworthy that the only synchronism precisely dated during the co-regency of
Tiglath-pileser (in 765) as Bar-Ga’yah (782-746) is the one with Menahem (771-760) the
Israelite king. Unfortunately up till now Bar-Ga’yah’s identification remains unsolved117 and
the chronology of Israelite kings used by mainstream historians is solely that calculated by
Edwin R. Thiele in his book: The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, which is based on
the dogma of the absence of co-regency. The book was originally his doctoral dissertation
and is widely regarded as the definitive work on the chronology of Hebrew kings. It is
considered the classic and comprehensive work in reckoning the accession of kings,
calendars, and co-regencies, based on biblical and extra-biblical sources. However, despite
its scientific aspect, this chronological investigation is full of basic mistakes. For example,
Thiele wrote118: As any date in Hebrew history that might synchronize with absolute date in Assyrian
history would have to be correct, so any date in Assyrian history that would synchronize with any absolute
date in Hebrew history would likewise to be correct (...) The well-know contacts of Tiglath-Pileser III with
Azariah and Menahem may be of service in testing the accuracy of the biblical and Assyrian dates for this
period. One of the first questions to arise in this connection is the identity of Pul with Tiglath-Pileser III.
Before solving this puzzle, Thiele noticed that the synchronisms between Assyrian and
biblical chronologies were impossible to harmonize. Thus he concluded naively: The problem
is twofold. First, the biblical numbers appear to be in violent disarray, and in gross conflict with each other.
Second, the pattern of reigns that the data seem to call for is far out of line with contemporary Assyria (...)
To secure an accurate reconstruction of ancient Hebrew history and chronology, it is necessary to recognize the
existence of number of co-regencies and overlapping reigns. Ironically, because Thiele assumed that
there was not any co-regency among Assyrian reigns he deduced that “it was necessary to
recognize the existence of number of co-regencies among the reigns of Judah and Israel”. In order to
113 D. KAHN -The Kingdom of Arpad (Bît Agûsi) and ‘All Aram’: International Relations in Northern Syria in the ninth and
eighth Centuries BCE in: Ancient Near Eastern Studies 44 (2007) pp. 66-89.
114 J.A. FITZMYER – The Aramaic Inscritions of Sefire

Roma 1995, Ed. Pontificio Istituto Biblico, pp. 59-60.


115 Other contracted forms: Birshah (Gn 14:2) instead of Bar-Resha “son of wickedness”; Bimhal (1Ch 7:33) for Bar-Mehal “son

of circumcision”; Baalîs (Jr 40:14) for Bar-Alîs “son of exultation”; Bishlam (Ezr 4:7) for Bar-Shalam “son of peace”.
116 Hamath’s northernmost territory was the important land variously called Luash (Aramaic), Luhuti (Akkadian), Lugath

(Luwian). It was located east of the Orontes river, and south of the kingdom of Patin, in the region formerly occupied by the
Late Bronze Age Nuhashshi lands. Luash first appears in Assyrian records in 870 BCE, the year in which Ashurnasirpal II
campaigned against the sates of Syria and Palestine. After invading Patin and receiving submission of its king Lubarna,
Ashurnasirpal used the Patinite city Aribua as his base for military operations against Luash, which lay to its south.
117 C. ZACCAGNINI – Notes on the Pazarcik Stela in: State Archives of Assyria Bulletin VII/1 (1993) pp. 53-72.
118 E.R. THIELE – The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings

New York 1951, Ed. Macmillan, pp. 61,107,139,217.


40 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
harmonize the two chronologies, Assyrian and biblical, he invented 9 co-regencies in the
chronology of Judah and Israel. So he lowered the reign of Menahem from 771-760 to 752-
742 and he considered that the synchronism with the reign of Tiglath-pileser III (745-727)
was perfect (!) whereas in fact his conclusion was aberrant. Indeed, how the Assyrian king
could receive during his 8th campaign in 738 when he reigned under the name of Pulu from
729 to 727, a tribute from King Menahem who would have reigned from 752 to 742. We
are in wonderland! Despite the nonsense, mainstream historians have blind faith in this
fanciful traditional chronology119 . In fact, Tiglath-pileser III’s annals are often biased and
include former tributes. However, these annals can be supplemented (and corrected) thanks
to the Eponym Chronicle and by some (undated) detailed inscriptions120:
bce year/ palû Campaign (Eponym Chronicle) Campaign (Annals of Tiglath-pileser III)
745 0/ palû 1 To Mesopotamia Campaign in northern and eastern Babylonia; defeat of the
Aramean tribes near Dûr-Kurigalzu.
744 1/ palû 2 Against the land of Namri First Median Campaign: Parsua and Bît-Hamban are
annexed; the submission of the Maneans.
743 2/ palû 3 Urartu defeated in Arpad Sarduri, king of Urartu, and his Anatolian allies are defeated.
742 3/ palû 4 Against Arpad Arpad besieged.
741 4/ palû 5 Against Arpad Arpad besieged.
740 5/ palû 6 Against Arpad Fall and annexation of Arpad.
739 6/ palû 7 Against the land of Ulluba Campaign to Ulluba.
738 7/ palû 8 Kullani conquered Unqi and Hatarikka annexed; tribute received from all vassal
kings of the West, including Rezin of Damacus and
Menahem of Samaria.
737 8/ palû 9 Against the Medes Second Median campaign deep into Media. Territories
around Parsua and Bît-Humban are annexed.
736 9/ palû 10 To the foot of Mount Nal -
735 10/ palû 11 Against Urartu Campaign into the heart of Urartu as far as Turušpa.
734 11/ palû 12 Against Philistia Campaign to Philistia and the Egyptian border.
733 12/ palû 13 Against Damascus Siege of Damascus. Campaigns against the Arabs and to
Gilead and Galilee.
732 13/ palû 14 Against Damascus Conquest and annexation of Damascus. Campaigns against
the Arabs and to Gilead, Galilee, and Transjordan.
731 14/ palû 15 Against Šapia Defeat of the Chaldean tribes of central and southern
Babylonia; siege of Šapia.
730 15/ palû 16 The king stayed in the land -
729 16/ palû 17 The king took hand’s Bel Defeat of (Nabû-)Mukîn-zêri, king of Babylon. Tiglath-
pileser III ascends the Babylonian throne (Pulu).
728 17/ palû 18 Hi[.. was conquered] Tiglath-pileser III on the Babylonian throne
727 18/ palû 19 Against […] Tiglath-pileser III dies in the month of Tebetu (X).
According to this reconstruction, Menahem of Samaria (Israel) would have given a
tribute to Tiglath-pileser III during his 8th campaign (in 738). This conclusion which is
apparently logical ignores the context because the rest of the inscription reads121: I received the
tribute of Kushtashpi of Commagene, (...) Mitinti of Ashkelon, Ahaz (Ia-ú-ḫa-zi) of Judah (Ia-ú-da-a-a),
Kaush-malaku of Edom (...) In the course of my campaign I received the tribute of the kings Azriau from
Yaudi (Az-ri-a-u matIa-ti-da-a), like (...) I received the tribute of Kushtashpi of Commagene, Rezon (Ra-
ḫi-a-nu) of Damas (Ša-imērišu), Menahem of Samaria (Me-ni-ḫi-im-me alSa-me-ri-na-a-a), Hiram (Ḫi-
ru-um-mu) of Tyre, Sibitti-bi’li of Byblos (...) I imposed upon them tribute. As for Menahem I overwhelmed
him like a bird snowstorm (...) I received from him. Israel (Bît Ḫumria) ... all its inhabitants and their
possessions I led to Assyria. They overthrew their king Pekah (Pa-qa-ḫa) and I placed Hoshea (A-ú-si-’)
119 R.C. YOUNG – When Was Samaria Captured? The Need for Precision in Biblical Chronologies

in: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 47 (2004) pp. 577-595.


120 S. YAMADA – Inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III: Chronographic-Literary Styles and King’s Portrait

in: ORIENT 49 (2014) pp. 31-50.


121 J.B. PRITCHARD - Ancient Near Eastern Texts

Princeton 1969 Ed. Princeton University Press pp. 282-284.


ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 41
as king over them. I received from them 10 talents of gold 1000 talents of silver as their tribute and brought
them to Assyria. Thus, in 738 BCE, Tiglath-pileser III overthrew the king Pekah and placed
Hoshea as king over the inhabitants of Samaria, what fits perfectly with the biblical text: In
the days of Pekah the king of Israel, Tiglath-pileser the king of Assyria came in and proceeded to take Ijon
and Abel-beth-maacah and Janoah and Kedesh and Hazor and Gilead and Galilee, all the land of
Naphtali, and to carry them into exile in Assyria. Finally Hoshea the son of Elah formed a conspiracy
against Pekah the son of Remaliah and struck him and put him to death; and he began to reign in place of
him in the 20th year of Jotham the son of Uzziah (2Ki 15:27-30). Furthermore, in 738, the king of
Judah was indeed Ahaz (742-726), written Ia-ú-ḫa-zi, and according to the biblical text: It
was then that King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remalah the king of Israel came up to wage war
against Jerusalem. They laid siege against Ahaz but were not able to capture the city. At that time King
Rezin of Syria restored Elath to Edom, after which he drove the Jews out of Elath. And the Edomites
entered Elath, and they have occupied it down to this day. So Ahaz sent messengers to King Tiglath-pileser
of Assyria, saying: I am your servant and your son. Come up and save me from the hand of the king of
Syria and the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me. Ahaz then took the silver and the gold that
was to be found at the house of Jehovah and in the treasuries of the king’s house and sent the king of
Assyria a bribe. The king of Assyria responded to his request, and he went up to Damascus and captured it
and led its people into exile to Kir, and he put Rezin to death. Then King Ahaz went to meet King Tiglath-
pileser of Assyria at Damascus (2Ki 16:5-10). In his annals, Tiglath-Pileser besieged Damascus
in 734 and conquered the city in 733. As a result Tiglath-pileser amalgamated his campaign
in Samaria, dated 738, with the campaign that he had performed 27 years earlier (in 765)
when he was co-regent.
The previous analysis showed a crucial key point: by undertaking an historical
methodology of the biblical text and an examination of the Assyrian sources through an
accurate chronological reconstruction, the case is made that the biblical accounts are
historically accurate122 and in complete accord with the Assyrian sources123, which permit in
turn to clarify the biblical accounts. This way of analysing texts avoids making erroneous
assumptions, for example, the name Ia-ú-ḫa-zi must be read Ahaz, not Jehoahaz, because
Jehoahaz was king of Israel (856-839) whereas Ahaz was king of Judah (742-726). Similarly
when Menahem gave his tribute to Tiglath-pileser, in 765, the king of Judah (Ia-ú-da-a-a) was
Azariah124 (810-758), but this king has nothing to do with the king Azriau from Yaudi (Ia-ti-
da-a) for two reasons125: Azariah did not pay any tribute to Pul and the Assyrians reached
the land of Judah only after 712 during Sargon II’s reign, contrary to the kingdom of
Ya’udi, also called kingdom of Sam’al, that they reached in 738. It is therefore essential to
have a chronology based on absolute dates before putting forward an historical
interpretation. The astronomical dates126 in the list of synchronisms have been highlighted
in dark blue, those between the biblical account and Assyrian sources in brown and those
between the reigns of kings of Judah and Israel (Samaria) have been highlighted in grey.
122 L.R. SIDDALL - Tiglath-pileser III’s Aid to Ahaz: A New Look at the Problems of the Biblical Accounts in Light of the

Assyrian Sources in: Ancient Near Eastern Studies 46 (2006), pp. 93-106.
123 P. DUBOVSKÝ- Tiglath-pileser III’s Campaigns in 734-732 B.C.: Historical Background of Isa 7; 2 Kgs 15–16 and 2 Chr 27–

28 in: Biblical Studies on the Web 87 (2006), pp. 153-170.


124 More exactly the high priest Azariah (796-758) replaced Uzziah (810-796) for the end of his reign.
125 B. BECKING - The Fall of Samaria: An Historical and Archaeological Study

Leiden 1993, Ed. Brill, pp. 2-5.


126 Dated lunar eclipses are those of years 1 and 2 of Merodachbaladan (19/20 March 721 BCE, 8/9 March and 1/2 September

720 BCE); year 5 of Nabopolassar (21/22 April 621 BCE); year 2 of Šamaš-šuma-ukîn (10/11 April 666 BCE); year 42 of
Nebuchadnezzar (2/3 March 562 BCE). A diary (VAT 4956) contains numerous astronomical conjunctions in years 37 and 38
of Nebuchadnezzar dated from astronomy in 568 and 567 BCE. An astronomical journal (BM 38462) list some lunar eclipses in
the years 1 to 27 of Nebuchadnezzar which are dated from 604 to 578 BCE. The Eponym Chronicle mentions a total solar
eclipse in year 10 of Aššur-dân III (15 June 763 BCE) and Assyrian Annals mention a total lunar eclipse in year 8 of Sargon II
(24/25 October 714 BCE).
42 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
ASSYRIA SYRIA JUDEA EGYPT reference
1004 9 Aššur-rabi II Hadadezer /To‘y 13 Solomon 1Ch 18:3-9
1003 10 14
1002 11 1 15 Siamun
1001 12 2 16
1000 13 3 17
999 14 4 Rezôn (Ezrôn) 18 1Ki 11:23-25
998 15 5 19
997 16 6 20
996 17 7 21
995 18 8 22
994 19 9 23
993 20 10 1 24 Psusennes II 1Ki 9:10-17
992 21 11 2 25
991 22 12 3 26
990 23 13 4 27
989 24 14 5 28
988 25 15 6 29
987 26 16 7 30
986 27 17 8 31
985 28 18 9 32
984 29 19 10 33
983 30 11 34
982 31 12 35
981 32 13 36
980 33 1 37 Shoshenq I
979 34 2 38 [1] 1Ki 11:40-42
978 35 3 39 [2]
977 36 4 40 [3] ISRAEL
976 37 5 1 Rehoboam 1 Jeroboam 1Ki 14:20-21
975 38 6 2 2
974 39 7 Heziôn 3 3
973 40 8 4 4
972 41 9 5 5 2Ch 12:2-13
971 1 Aššur-rêš-iši II 10 6 6
970 2 11 7 7
969 3 12 8 8
968 4 13 9 9
967 5 14 10 10
966 1 Tiglath-pileser II 15 11 11
965 2 16 12 12
964 3 17 13 13
963 4 18 14 14
962 5 19 15 15
961 6 20 16 16
960 7 21 17 17
959 8 Tabrimmôn 1 Abiya 18 1Ki 15:1-2
958 9 2 19
957 10 3 Asa 20 1Ki 15:9-10
956 11 1 21
955 12 2 22 Nadab 1Ki 15:25
954 13 3 1 Baasha 1Ki 15:28-33
953 14 4 2
952 15 5 3
951 16 6 4
950 17 7 5
949 18 Bar-Hadad I 8 6 1Ki 15:18
948 19 9 7
947 20 10 8
946 21 11 9
945 22 12 10
944 23 13 11
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 43
943 24 14 12
942 25 15 13
941 26 16 14
940 27 17 15
939 28 18 16
938 29 19 17
937 30 20 18
936 31 21 19
935 32 22 20
934 1 Aššur-dân II 23 21
933 2 24 22
932 3 25 23
931 4 26 24-1 Elah 1Ki 16:8
930 5 27 1- 2 Omri 1Ki 16:10-16
929 6 28 2 /Tibni
928 7 29 3
927 8 30 4
926 9 31 5 Omri 1Ki 16:21-23
925 10 32 6
924 11 33 7
923 12 34 8
922 13 35 9
921 14 36 10
920 15 37 11
919 16 Bar-Hadad II 38 12-1 Ahab 1Ki 16:29
918 17 39 2
917 18 40 3
916 19 41 Josaphat 4 1Ki 22:41-42
915 20 1 5
914 21 2 6
913 22 3 7
912 23 4 8
911 1 Adad-nîrârî II 5 9
910 2 Naaman 6 10
909 3 Army chief 7 11
908 4 8 12
907 5 9 13
906 6 10 14
905 7 11 15
904 8 12 16
903 9 13 17
902 10 14 18
901 11 15 19
900 12 16 20
899 13 17 21 Ahaziah 1Ki 22:51
898 14 18 22 Joram (A) 2Ki 3:1
897 15 19 1
896 16 20 2
895 17 21 3 2Ki 5:1
894 18 22 4 (2Ch 20:22)
893 19 23 0 5 2Ki 8:16-17
892 20 24 1 6
891 21 25 2 7 1Ki 22:50
890 1 Tukultî-Ninurta II Hazael 3 Joram (J) 8
889 2 Army chief 4 9
888 3 5 10
887 4 6 11 2Ch 21:12-20
886 5 7 12
885 6 Hazael 8 Athaliah Jehu 2K 9:27,10:36
884 7 1 1 2Ki 11:2-4
883 1 Aššurnasirpal II 2 2
882 2 3 3
44 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
881 3 4 4
880 4 5 5
879 5 6 6
878 6 1 Joash 7 2Ki 12:1
877 7 2 8
876 8 3 9
875 9 4 10
874 10 5 11
873 11 6 12
872 12 7 13
871 13 8 14
870 14 (1) Hadad-ezer 9 15
869 15 (2) Army chief 10 16
868 16 (3) 11 17
867 17 (4) 12 18 2Ki 10:31-34
866 18 (5) 13 19 2Ki 12:17-19
865 19 (6) 14 20
864 20 (7) 15 21
863 21 (8) 16 22
862 22 (9) 17 23
861 23 (10) 18 23
860 24 (11) 19 24
859 25 (12) 20 25
858 1 Shalmaneser III 21 26
857 2 22 27
856 3 23 28 Jehoahaz 2Ki 13:1
855 4 24 1
854 5 25 2
853 6 Battle of Qarqar 26 3
852 7 27 4
851 8 28 5
850 9 29 6
849 10 30 7
848 11 31 8
847 12 32 9
846 13 33 10
845 14 Aššur-danin-pal (1) 34 11
844 15 (2) 35 12
843 16 (3) 36 13
842 17 (4) 37 14 0 2Ki 13:10
841 18 (5) Syrian army destroyed 38 15 1
840 19 (6) 39 16 2
839 20 (7) 40 Amaziah 17 Jehoash 2Ki 14:1-2
838 21 (8) Bar-Hadad III 1 1
837 22 (9) 2 2
836 23 (10) 3 3
835 24 (11) 4 4
834 25 (12) 5 5
833 26 (13) 6 6
832 27 (14) 7 7
831 28 (15) 8 8
830 29 (16) 9 9
829 30 (17) 10 10
828 31 (18) 11 11
827 32 Revolt (1) (19) 12 12
826 33 (2) (20) 13 13
825 34 (3) (21) 14 14
824 35 (4) (22) 15 15
823 (1) Šamšî-Adad V (5) (23) 16 16 Jeroboam 2Ki 14:17,23
822 (2) (6) (24) 17 1
821 (3) (7) (25) 18 2
820 4 19 3
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 45
819 5 20 4
818 6 21 5
817 7 22 6
816 8 23 7
815 9 24 8
814 10 25 9
813 11 26 10
812 12 27 11
811 13 /Sammu-ramât (0) 28 12
810 1 Adad-nîrârî III (1) 29 Uzziah 13 2Ch 26:1-3
809 2 (2) 1 14
808 3 (3) 2 15
807 4 (4) 3 16
806 5 Mari’ 4 17
805 6 5 18
804 7 6 19
803 8 7 20
802 9 8 21
801 10 9 22
800 11 10 23
799 12 11 24
798 13 12 Zk 14:5 0 25 Am 1:1-5
797 14 13 1 26
796 15 14 Azariah 2 27 2Ki 15:1-2
795 16 15 28 (2Ch 26:3)
794 17 16 29
793 18 17 30
792 19 18 31
791 20 19 32
790 21 20 33
789 22 21 34
788 23 22 35
787 24 23 36
786 25 24 37
785 26 25 38
784 27 26 39
783 28 27 40
782 1 Shalmaneser IV Bar Ga’yah 28 41
781 2 (1) 29 1 Zekariah 2Ki 14:29
780 3 (2) Heziôn II 30 [2]
779 4 (3) 31 [3]
778 5 (4) 32 [4]
777 6 (5) 33 [5]
776 7 (6) 34 [6]
775 8 (7) 35 [7]
774 9 (8) 36 [8]
773 10 (9) 37 [9]
772 1 Aššur-dân III (10) 38 [10] 2Ki 15:8
771 2 (11) 39 [11] Shallum 2Ki 15:13
770 3 (12) 40 1 Menahem 2Ki 15:17
769 4 (13) 41 1
768 5 (14) 42 2
767 6 (15) 43 3
766 7 (16) 44 4 (Is 10:5-8)
765 8 Pulu 45 5 2Ki 15:19-20
764 9 (18) 46 6
763 10 Sun eclipse 15 June (19) 47 7 Bur-Sagale
762 11 (20) 48 8
761 12 (21) 49 9
760 13 (22) 50 10 Pekayah 2Ki 15:22-23
759 14 (23) 51 1
758 15 (24) 52 Jotham 2 Pekah 2Ki 15:27-33
46 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
757 16 (25) 1 1
756 17 (26) 2 2
755 18 (27) 3 3
754 1 Aššur-nîrârî V (28) 4 4
753 2 (29) 5 5
752 3 (30) 6 6
751 4 (31) 7 7
750 5 (32) Rezîn 8 8
749 6 (33) 9 9
748 7 (34) 10 10
747 8 (35) 11 11
746 9 Revolt (36) 12 12
745 10 (0) 13 13
744 1 Tiglath-pileser III (1) 14 14
743 2 (2) 15 15
742 3 (3) 16 16
741 4 (4) 1 Ahaz 17 17 2Ki 16:1,7-10
740 5 (5) [2] 18 18 2Chr 28:16
739 6 (6) [3] 19 19 2Ki 16:5,6
738 7 (7) [4] 20 20 Hoshea 2Ki 15:27-30
737 8 (8) 5 [1]
736 9 (9) 6 [2]
735 10 (10) 7 [3]
734 11 (11) 8 [4] 2Ki 16:7-9
733 12 (12) BABYLONIA 9 [5]
732 13 (13) Nabû-mukîn-zêri 10 [6]
731 14 (14) 1 (lunar eclipse April 9) 11 [7]
730 15 (15) 2 12 [8]
729 16 (16) 3 13 [9] 2Ki 17:1
728 17 (17) 1 Pulu 14 1 [10]
727 18 (18) 2 15 2 [11]
726 1 Shalmaneser V [1] 1 Ulûlaiu 16 Hezekiah 3 [12] 2Ki 18:1
725 2 [2] 2 1 4 [13]
724 3 [3] 3 2 5 [14]
723 4 [4] 4 3 6 [15] 2Ki 17:2-5
722 5 [5] 5 Merodachbaladan II 4 7 [16] 2Ki 18:9
721 1 Sargon II 1 (lunar eclipse March 19) 5 8 [17]
720 2 Fall of Samaria 2 (March 8; September 1st) 6 9 [18] 2Ki 18:10
719 3 3 7 [19]
718 4 4 8 [20]
717 5 5 9 [21]
716 6 6 10 [22]
715 7 (0) 7 11 [23]
714 8 Moon eclipse 25 Oct. (1) 8 12 [24]
713 9 (2) 9 13 [25]
712 10 Ashdod / Lakish (3) 10 14 [26] Is 36:1;39:1
711 11 (4) 11 15 [27] 1
710 12 (5) 12 16 [28] 2
709 13 (6) 1 Sargon II 17 [29] 3
708 14 (7) 2 18 [30] 4
707 15 (8) 3 19 [31] 5
706 16 (9) 4 20 [32] 6
705 17 (10) 5 21 [33] 7
704 1 Sennacherib 1 Sennacherib 22 [34] 8
703 2 2 23 [35] 9
702 3 1 Bêl-ibni 24 [36] 10
701 4 2 25 [37] 11
700 5 3 26 [38] 12
699 6 /Arda-Mulissu (0) 1 Aššur-nâdin-šumi II 27 [39] 13
698 7 (1) 2 28 [40] 14
697 8 (2) 3 29 Manasseh [41] 15
696 9 (3) 4 1 [42] 2Ki 21:1
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 47
695 10 (4) 5 2 [43]
694 11 (5) 6 3 [44]
693 12 (6) 1 Nergal-ušezib 4 [45]
692 13 (7) 1 Mušezib-Marduk 5 [46]
691 14 (8) 2 6 [47]
690 15 (9) 3 7 [48]
689 16 (10) 4 8 [49]
688 17 (11) 1 Sennacherib 9 [50]
687 18 (12) 2 10 [51]
686 19 (13) 3 11 [52]
685 20 (14) 4 12 [53]
684 21 (15) 5 13 [54]
683 22 (1) (16) 6 14 [55]
682 23 (2) (17) 7 15 [56]
681 24 (3) (18) 8 16 [57] 2Ki 19:37
680 1 Esarhaddon 1 Esarhaddon 17 [58]
679 2 2 18 [59]
678 3 3 19 [60]
677 4 4 20 [61]
676 5 5 21 [62]
675 6 6 22 [63]
674 7 /Sin-nâdin-apli (0) 7 23 [64]
673 8 (Manasseh deported) (1) 8 (2Ch 33:11) 24 [65] Ezr 4:2,10
672 9 (0) 9 (0) 25 Isa 7:8,9 2Ch 33:11-13
671 10 Memphis attacked (1) 10 (1) 26
670 11 (2) 11 (2) 27
669 12 (3) 12 (3) 28
668 1 Aššurbanipal 1 Aššurbanipal (4) 29
667 2 1 Šamaš-šumu-ukin 30
666 3 2 (lunar eclipse April 10) 31 BM 45640
665 4 3 32 EGYPT
664 5 Thebes sacked (Na 3:8) 4 33 26 Taharqa (2Ki 19:9)
663 6 5 34 1 Psammetichus I
662 7 6 35 2
661 8 7 36 3
660 9 8 37 4
659 10 9 38 5
658 11 10 39 6
657 12 11 40 7
656 13 12 41 8
655 14 13 42 9
654 15 (0) 14 43 10
653 16 (1) 15 44 11
652 17 (2) 16 45 12
651 18 (3) 17 46 13
650 19 (4) 18 47 14
649 20 (5) 19 48 15
648 21 (6) 20 49 16
647 22 (7) 1 Kandalanu 50 17
646 23 (8) 2 51 18
645 24 (9) 3 52 19
644 25 (10) 4 53 20
643 26 (11) 5 54 21
642 27 (12) 6 55 Amon 22 2Ki 21:1,19
641 28 (13) 7 1 23
640 29 (14) 8 2 Josiah 24 2Ki 22:1
639 30 (15) 9 1 25
638 31 (16) 10 2 26
637 32 (17) 11 3 27
636 33 (18) 12 4 28
635 34 (19) 13 5 29
634 35 (20) 14 6 30
48 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
633 36 (21) 15 7 31
632 37 (22) 16 8 32
631 38 (23) 17 9 33
630 39 (24) 18 10 34
629 1 Aššur-etel-ilâni [40] 19 11 35
628 2 [41] 20 12 36
627 3 [42] 21 Sin-šum-lišir 13 [0] 37 Jr 25:3,11
626 4 [43] 22 Sin-šar-iškun 14 [1] 38 Ezk 4:6
625 1 Sin-šar-iškun 1 Nabopolassar 15 [2] 39
624 2 2 16 [3] 40
623 3 3 17 [4] 41
622 4 4 18 [5] 42
621 5 5 Lunar eclipse (22 April) 19 [6] 43 Alm. V,14
620 6 6 20 [7] 44
619 7 (0) 7 21 [8] 45
618 8 (1) 8 22 [9] 46
617 9 (2) 9 23 [10] 47
616 10 (3) 10 24 [11] 48
615 11 (4) 11 25 [12] 49
614 12 (5) 12 26 [13] 50
613 13 (6) 13 27 [14] 51
612 14 Nineveh destroyed (7) 14 28 [15] 52 Nah 3:15-19
611 1 Aššur-uballit II 15 (0) 29 [16] 53
610 2 16 (1) 30 [17] 54
609 3 Battle of Harran [0] 17 BM 21901 (2) 31 Joiaqim 1 Necho II 2Ki 23:29,36
608 [1] 18 (3) 1 [19] 2 Jr 25:11-12
607 [2] 19 BM 22047 (4) 2 [20] 3
606 [3] 20 (5) 3 [21] 4
605 Battle of Carchemish [4] 21 (6) 4 [22] 5 Jr 25:1; 46:2
604 [5] 1 Nebuchadnezzar II 5 [23] 6
603 [6] 2 6 [24] 7
602 [7] 3 7 [25] 8
601 [8] 4 8 [26] 9
600 [9] 5 9 [27] 10
599 [10] 6 10 [28] 11
598 [11] 7 BM 21946 11 Zedekiah 12 Jr 52:1,28
597 [12] 8 1 [30] 13 2Ki 24:12
596 [13] 9 2 [31] 14
595 [14] 10 3 [32] 15
594 [15] 11 4 [33] 16
593 [16] 12 5 [34] 1 Psammetichus II
592 [17] 13 6 [35] 2
591 [18] 14 7 [36] 3
590 [19] 15 8 [37] 4
589 [20] 16 9 [38] 5
588 [21] 17 10 [39] 6/1 Apries Jr 44:30
587 [22] 18 11 [40] 2 Jr 52:1,29
586 [23] 19 12 Jehoiachin 3
585 [24] 20 13 4
584 [25] 21 14 5
583 [26] 22 15 6
582 [27] 23 16 7
581 [28] 24 17 8
580 [29] 25 18 9
579 [30] 26 19 10
578 [31] 27 20 11
577 [32] 28 21 12
576 [33] 29 22 13
575 [34] 30 23 14
574 [35] 31 24 15
573 [36] 32 25 16
572 [37] 33 26 17
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 49
571 [38] 34 27 18
570 [39] 35 28 19
569 [40] 36 29 1/20 Amasis
568 [41] 37 VT 4956 (eclipse) 30 2/21 Jr 43:10-13
567 [42] 38 Egypt attacked 31 3/22 [0] Jr 44:30
566 [43] 39 32 4 [1]
565 [44] 40 33 5 [2]
564 [45] 41 34 6 [3]
563 [46] 42 35 7 [4]
562 [47] 43 36 8 [5]
561 [48] 1 Amel-Marduk 37 9 [6] Jr 52:31
560 [49] 2 10 [7]
559 [50] 1 Neriglissar (0) 11 [8]
558 Pap Louvre 7848 [51] 2 (1) 12 [9]
557 [52] 3 (2) 13 [10]
556 [53] 4 Labashi-Marduk (3) 14 [11]
555 [54] 1 Nabonidus (4) 15 [12]
554 [55] 2 (5) 16 [13]
553 [56] 3 Belshazzar 0 (6) 17 [14]
552 [57] 4 1 (7) 18 [15]
551 [58] 5 2 (8) 19 [16]
550 Harpagus Median king [59] 6 3 (9) (0) 20 [17] Dn 8:1,20-21
549 vassal of Cyrus II [60] 7 4 (10) (1) 21 [18]
548 [61] 8 5 (11) (2) 22 [19
547 [62] 9 6 (12) (3) 23 [20]
546 [63] 10 7 (13) (4) 24 [21]
545 [64] 11 8 (14) (5) 25 [22]
544 [65] 12 9 (15) (6) 26 [23]
543 [66] 13 10 (16) (7) 27 [24]
542 [67] 14 11 (17) (8) 28 [25]
541 [68] 15 12 (18) (9) 29 [26]
540 [69] 16 13 (19) (10) 30 [27]
539 Fall of Babylon [70] 17 14 (20) (11) 31 [28] Jr 25:11-12
538 Ugbaru 1 Cyrus II (1) 32 [29] Is 45:1
537 (Darius the Mede) 2 1 33 [30]
536 3 (2) 34 [31]
535 4 (3) 35 [32]
534 5 (4) 36 [33]
533 6 (5) 37 [34]
532 7 (6) 38 [35]
531 8 (7) 39 [36]
530 9 (8) 40 [37]
529 1 Cambyses II 41 [38]
528 2 42 [39]
527 3 43 [40]
526 Psammetichus III 4 44/1 Ezk 29:12-16
525 5 2
524 6
523 7 Bardiya 0
522 Nebuchadnezzar III 0 8 1 Ezr 4:7
521 Nebuchadnezzar IV 1 1 Darius I
520 2

The previous chronological reconstruction shows the importance of co-regencies in


Assyrian history and also the accuracy of the biblical text when it says: At that time did king
Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him (2Ch 28:16, American Standard Version),
because at that time (in 740) the Assyrian kings were Tiglath-pileser III and his son and co-
regent Shalmaneser V, thus the plural form was not a mistake. In contrast Assyrian
inscriptions are often misleading and glorious events are usually exaggerated. For example,
according Sennacherib’s annals: In my 3rd campaign I marched against Hatti. Luli, king of Sidon,
50 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
whom the terror-inspiring glamor of my lordship had overwhelmed, fled far overseas and perished (...) I
installed Tuba'lu (Ithoba‘al) upon the throne to be their king and imposed upon him tribute (due) to me (as
his) overlord (to be paid) annually without interruption. As to all the kings of Amurru —Menahem (Mi-
in-ḫi-im-mu) from Samsimuruna (Samaria), Tuba'lu from Sidon (...)127, but this “historical account”
is extremely puzzling because most of the events mentioned come from his 3rd campaign as
coregent in 712 and not from his campaign as king in 702. In addition the king of Sidon,
Luli, perished around 681, when Sennacherib died (!), then Ithoba‘al began to reign128, after
Sennacherib’s death! To avoid such nonsense some historians assume that Sennacherib
could assign to himself a few actions of his predecessors (Pulu?) against the kings of Tyre
(instead of Sidon) who had the same names: [Luli?] and Ithoba‘al (II). A last explanation
could be that some parts of Sennacherib's account are only propaganda like the reference to
“Menahem from Samaria (771-760)”.
King of Reign King of Reign King of Israel Reign King of Reign
Sidon Tyre (Samaria) Assyria
? [Luli?] 775-750 Menahem 771-760 Aššur-dan III 773-755
Ithoba‘al II 750 - Peqayah 760-758 Aššur-nîrârî V 755-745
-739 Pekah 758-738 Tiglath-pileser III 745 -
Hiram III 739-730 [Hoshea] 738-729
Mattan II 730-729 Hoshea 729 - -727
? Elulaios 729 - -720 Shalmaneser V 727-722
? Sargon II 722-705
Luli 704 - -694 Sennacherib 705 -
-681 Abd-Malqart 694-680 -681
Ithoba‘al 681-671 Baal I 680 - Esarhaddon 681-669
Abdimilkuti 671-660 -660 Aššurbanipal 669-630
The reigns of Sennacherib and Tiglath-pileser III show that these two Assyrian kings
registered in their annals several events like tributes and campaigns that took place in reality
during their co-regency. This important data completely changes the dating of several
synchronisms with Israelite chronology. In fact the taking into account of Assyrian co-
regencies, in the reigns from Ashurbanipal to Ashur-uballit II, alters the interpretation of
Assyrian history during this period 885-609.
SYNCHRONISMS BETWEEN ASSYRIAN AND ISRAELITE CHRONOLOGIES
The first synchronism between Assyrian and Israelite chronologies appears in the
annals of Shalmaneser III, dated Year 18 (in 841), where a tribute from Jehu is mentioned.
However if we put in parallel the two chronologies, Assyrian and Israelite, one can see
(hereafter) that there is an overlap between the reigns of Jehu and Shalmaneser III but only
during a short period 859-856129.
Given that Shalmaneser definitely annexed Bit-Adini in 856 BCE and defeated
Hazael in 841 BCE, the Assyrian and biblical data fit perfectly. There is nevertheless a
problem because if Shalmaneser III received tribute from Jehu he would have mentioned it
in the early years of his reign and not from the year 18. However a thorough review of this
tribute reveals several anomalies, which are not surprising because Shalmaneser III’s Annals
often produced some “arrangements” with the facts.
127 J.B. PRITCHARD - Ancient Near Eastern Texts
Princeton 1969 Ed. Princeton University Press, p. 287.
128 P.J. BOYES - “The King of the Sidonians”: Phoenician Ideologies and the Myth of the Kingdom of Tyre-Sidon

in: Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research N°365 (2012), pp. 33-44.
129 M.C. TETLEY – The Reconstructed Chronology of the Divided Kingdom

Winona 2005 Ed. Eisenbrauns pp. 178-186.


ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 51
SYRIA Reign JUDAH Reign ISRAEL Reign ASSYRIA Reign
Hadadezer/To‘y 1040-1000 David 1057-1017 Aššur-rabi II 1013 -
Rezôn (Ezrôn) 1000 - 975 Solomon 1017 - 977 -972
Heziôn I 975-960 Rehoboam 977-960 Jeroboam I 977-955 Aššur-reš-iši II 972-967
Tabrimmôn 960-950 Asa 957 - Baasha 954-931 Tiglath-pileser II 967-935
Ben-Hadad I 950-920 -916 Omri 931-919 Aššur-dan II 935-912
Ben-Hadad II 920 - Jehosaphat 916-891 Ahab 919-898 Adad-nîrârî II 912-891
-885 Jehoram (J) 893-885 Joram (A) 897-886 Tukulti-Ninurta II 891-884
Hazael 885 - Ahaziah 886-885 Jehu 885 - Aššurnasirpal II 884-859
/Hadad-ezer 870-845 Joash 879 - -856 Shalmaneser III 859 -
-839 -839 Jehoachaz 856-839
Ben-Hadad III 839-805 Amaziah 839-810 Jehoash 841-823 -824
Mari’ 805 - Uzziah 810 - Jeroboam II 823 - Šamši-Adad V 824-811
-780 (Azariah) -782 Adad-nîrârî III 811-783
Heziôn II 780 - Zechariah 782-771 Shalmaneser IV 783-773
-750 -758 Menahem 771-760 Aššur-dan III 773-755
Rezîn 750 - Jotham 758-742 Peqah 758-738 Aššur-nîrari V 755-745
-732 Ahaz 742-726 [Hoshea] 738-729 Tiglath-pileser III 745-727
Hezekiah 726-697 Hoshea 729-720 Shalmaneser V 727-722
Shalmaneser III’ tributes130 in his 18th year (841 BCE):
1) A first recension of this record (cuneiform tablets of Assyria), covering the period 858-
842, mentions no tribute of Jehu.
2) A second recension (bulls of Calah), covering the period 858-841, gives the same
information, but adds at the end: In those days (sic), I received the tribute of the Tyrians and
Sidonians, and Jehu the son of Omri (Iu-ú-a mâr Ḫu-um-ri-i).
3) A third recension (marble slab), which covers the period 858-839, gives less information,
and adds at the end: I received the tribute of Ba'al-manzer (Ba’li-ma-AN-zêri), the Tyrian, and Jehu
son of Omri (Ia-a-ú mâr Ḫu-um-ri-i).
4) A fourth recension (Kurba'il statue), covering the period 858-838, gives almost the same
information, and adds at the end: I received the tribute of the Tyrians and Sidonians, and Jehu the
house of Omri (Ia-ú-a bît Ḫu-um-ri-i).
5) A fifth recension (black obelisk), covering the period 858-838, gives some information,
and adds at the end: I received the tribute of the Tyrians, the Sidonians and Byblians (Byblos).
There are also three epigraphs: I received the tribute of Sua, the Gilzanean: (description of the
tribute) I received the tribute of Jehu of the House of Omri (Ia-ú-a bît Ḫu-um-ri-i): (description of the
tribute) I received the tribute of Egypt: (description of the tribute)
6) A sixth recension very incomplete (basalt statue of Ashur), covering the period 858-833,
gives only little information on the campaigns of 853 and 841.
Jehu's tribute, which appears for the first time in 841 BCE, and dated abnormally “in
those days”, is always placed at the end of Shalmaneser III’s annals. In addition, the tribute
of Baal-manzer, whose name is clearly an anomaly131, appears suddenly in 839, then
disappears. The tribute of Byblos and Egypt, in 838, can only be related to the campaign of
853 (Battle of Qarqar). This tribute of Egypt had to be confused with the tribute from the
king of Byblos, a client of Egypt, who likely received an Egyptian contingent (1,000
soldiers) to defend against Assyria. At last Jehu was not the son of Omri, but Jehoshapat
(2Ki 9:14) and there were four kings between Omri and Jehu132. Hazael who rebelled
against Assyria, had previously gained a few victories over Jehu and likely a booty, which
130 W.W. HALLO, K.L. YOUNGER, JR. – The Context of Scripture Vol. II Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World
Leuven 2003 Ed. Brill pp. 261-272.
131 The expected form would be Ba’li-zêri without the “ma-AN”, in addition, according to Josephus, the king of Tyre was

Pumay-yaton (877-830), written Pygmalion in Greek, at that time, see Dating the Foundation of Carthage.
132 Ahab (1Ki 16:29), Ahaziah (1Ki 22:52), Jehoram (2Ki 3:1) and Ahaziah II (2Ki 8:25)
52 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
was probably confiscated by Shalmaneser III when he defeated Hazael in 841. Although the
tribute was depicted on an obelisk (below), King Jehu is not an Israelite, but an Assyrian
warrior as can be seen on the bas-relief depicting the capture of Lachish. The Israelites have
never worn a cap as confirmed by the triumph scene appearing on the south wall of the
Bubastite Portal at Karnak depicted by King Shoshenq I.

It is therefore apparently incomprehensible that Shalmaneser III would have


preferred to engrave the tribute of “Jehu”, a king of Israel, instead of his victory over
Hazael, a powerful king of Syria, when he defeated him in 841. The historical context helps
to clarify this apparent paradox. A wall panel relief in the British Museum (BM 124537),
dated around 865, shows King Ashurnasirpal II who has dismounted from his chariot to
review a procession of prisoners of war (below).

The co-regent opposite Ashurnasirpal II can only be his son Shalmaneser (III) and
the defeated king can only be Ahuni, King of Bit-Adini, who was attacked from 877 and
was finally defeated in 867133. From 866 to 859 the following campaigns were directed
against Urartu to the east. Some inscriptions prove that Ahuni of Bit-Adini had rendered
133F. JOANNÈS - Dictionnaire de la civilisation mésopotamienne
Paris 2001 Éd. Robert Laffont pp. 102-105.
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 53
tribute to Ashurnasirpal II134. The annexation of Bit-Adini is dated Year 4 of Shalmaneser
III (in 855), but the defeat of Ahuni is dated in his 4th campaign, which is usually assimilated
with his 4th year of reign, however Shalmaneser III’s annals read135: Ahuni, son of Adini, who
made obstinate resistance since the day of the fathers of Shalmaneser (...) In the beginning of my reign, the
king confined him in his city, pulled up his harvest and cut down his orchards (...) Ahuni crossed the
Euphrates to save his life (...) In another year (4th campaign), the king pursued Ahuni (...) The king
carried off 17,500 soldiers of Ahuni, and brought Ahuni with his people, gods, chariots and horses into his
presence (...) The king transferred them to the city of Ashur and counted them as the people of Assyria. By
crossing the annals of Ashurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III, the fourth campaign of
Shalmaneser III should be dated in 867 during his co-regency, consequently his first
campaign was in 870. The purpose of Shalmaneser III’s inscriptions, as well as those of
other Assyrian kings, is not to provide historical records but above all to legitimize their
wars and plunder by means of propaganda. For example, it is written on the Kurkh
Monolith that during his 856 campaign, Shalmaneser III departed and marched to Til-
Barsip, a city that he renamed, Kar-Shalmaneser. When he entered the city of Pitru136,
which he recaptured, renamed Ana-Aššur-utêr-asbat and restored to Assyrian control:
“because” the city was seized by the land of Aram (Syria) at the time of Aššur-rabi II (1013-
972). Thus the propagandistic value is significant137 , looting is presented as a voluntary
tribute (offered to get protection). To justify their conquest of the West, Assyrian kings
have all proceeded in the same way, first establishing a protectorate, then making vassals
and finally annexing the vassals kingdoms to the Assyrian empire. For example, the seven
tributary kings of “the land of Hatti” who paid their tribute to Shalmaneser III in 856
became vassal kings after the battle of Qarqar in 853, like Hadad-ezer of Damascus; Irḫulêni
of Hamath; Ahab of Asriel; Matinu-Ba‘al of Arvad; Adon-Ba‘al of Šianu; Gindibu’ of
Arabia; Ba’asa son of Rehob of Ammon. As all these kingdoms were annexed later their
mention in the Assyrian inscription as vassals, meant that it was the last step before their
annexation. The alleged tribute from king Ahab of Asriel’s land (Sir-’a-la-a-a) as well as the
one from king Jehu son of Omri, were both a threat of annexation. Asriel’s land in the
northeast of Samaria (Nb 26:29-34; 2Ch 15:8-9) is not Israel138 because in Shalmaneser III’s
inscriptions this land is always called “House of Omri” or “Samaritan’s land” and Ahab
(919-898), who was at that time a former king of Israel, never tried to fight against Assyria,
but defeated Syria without army (1Ki 20:13-30).
According to Shalmaneser's inscription he won a great victory (in 853), but the reality
may have been different. The battle of Qarqar had not been decisive, because we read about
continuous warfare. Ten years later, Shalmaneser for the 3rd time ordered the composition
of his Annals ("Recension C"). The story of the campaign of 853 is summarized —the
number of killed enemies is now 25,000 men (instead of 14,000)— and we learn that the
king boarded ships and went out upon the sea. But we also read that in 849, Shalmaneser
had to fight against Carchemish and Arpad, which had been loyal in 853, and against the
coalition. Next year, the Assyrians again had to fight against Carchemish, Arpad, and
Hamath; a 3rd battle against the coalition forces ended in the inevitable Assyrian victory.

134 S. WINFORD HOLLOWAY – Aššur is King! Aššur is King!: Religion in the Exercise of Power in the Neo-Assyrian Empire
Leiden 2002, Ed. Brill, pp. 126-130,395.
135 S. YAMADA – The Construction of the Assyrian Empire: A Historical Study of the Inscriptions of Shalmanesar III (859-824

B.C.), Leiden 2000, Ed. Brill, pp. 133-135.


136 Pitru, the biblical Pethor (Nb 22:5), was under the control of King Hadadezer (1040-1000), according to 2Samuel 8:5-12.
137 D.I. BLOCK – Israel: Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention?

Nashville 2008, Ed. B&H Publishing Group, pp. 223-256.


138 A. LEMAIRE - Asriel, šrʾl, Israel et l'origine de la confederation israelite

in: Vetus Testamentum 23:2 (1973), pp. 239-243.


54 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
Whatever the nature of Assyria's victories, the fact that the king (whoever may have been
the tactical victor) needed to come back proves that Qarqar had been a strategic victory for
the coalition, which was able to expand its power to Carchemish and Arpad. Recension C
ends with another battle, in 845. This time, the coalition received no support from Arpad
and Carchemish, and it seems that this time, victory was decisive: the two states never
returned to the coalition. "Recension D" of Shalmaneser's Annals, which is inscribed on
two monumental bulls found in Nimrud, refers to another campaign, in 841. This time, the
Assyrians seem to have met an isolated king Hazael of Damascus, because the coalition is
not mentioned. They defeated him in battle, marched to Damascus, pillaged the land, and
received tribute from Sidon and Tyre. This was repeated 3 years later, although this time,
the tribute bearers were Sidon, Tyre, and Byblos. The coalition had been broken, and
Assyrian power in Syria was to last for two centuries. Qarqar had not been decisive, but in
retrospect, it had been the beginning of the end for independent Syria. In 833, Shalmaneser
ordered his statue to be erected near one of the gates of Aššur. The inscription records
operations in all parts of the known world, but from the western front, it mentions only
two campaigns: Qarqar (in 853) and the attack against Damascus (in 841).
Assyrian inscriptions coming from stela and annals are therefore not reliable
regarding military personnel evaluation, the number of dead and the reality of tributes
received (in reality looting). The purpose of this propaganda was to glorify the king, to
demoralize the enemy and justify looting, including those to come. The Aramean kings did
not make a mistake when Shalmaneser received tribute (in fact looting) from Bit Adini this
kind of information was a prelude (in 856) to their annexation, that is why they have
formed a coalition (in 853) against him to prevent the annexation. They partially succeeded
because Shalmaneser had to continue his military campaigns to conquer the west.
The primary purpose of Shalmaneser's campaigns was to accumulate as much loot as
possible by conquering the wealthy kingdoms of Syria and Samaria. Therefore the tributes
“given” by Ahab of Asriel in northeast of Samaria and King Jehu in Israel have no historical
value but are merely former looting used to legitimize a future annexation of Samaria. These
tributes were fictitious as evidenced by an inscription written by Nergal-ereš139, a powerful
Assyrian governor (803-775), who replaced the tribute paid by “Jehu son of Omri” by
“Jehoash (Ia-’a-su) the Samaritan”: To Adad, the greatest lord, hero of the gods, mighty one?, first-born
son of Anu, who alone is fiery, the lofty irrigator of heaven and earth, who provides the ran that brings
abundance, who dwells in Zamaḫi, the great lord, his lord: I, Adad-nirari the mighty king, king of the
world, king of Assyria, heir of Shamshi-Adad the king of the world, king of Assyria, heir of Shalmaneser
the king of the four regions, mobilised chariots, troops and camps, and ordered a campaign against the Hatti
land. In first year (ina ištēt šatti) I made the land of Amurru and the Hatti land in its entirety kneel at my
feet; I imposed tribute and regular tax for future days upon them. He received 2000 talents of silver, 1000
talents of copper, 2000 talents of iron, 3000 multi-coloured garments and (plain) linen garments as tribute
from Mari’ of the land of Damascus. He received the tribute of Ia’asu the Samaritan, of the Tyrian and of
the Sidonian. I marched to the great sea where the sun sets, and erected a stela (“image”) of my royal self in
the city of Arvad which is in the middle of the sea. I went up the Lebanon mountains and cut down timbers:
100 mature cedars, material needed for my palace and temples. He received tributes from all the kings of the
Nairi land. At that time, I ordered Nergal-ereš, the governor of Raṣapa, Lakê, Sirqu?, Anat, Suḫi and
(...) a total of 331 towns of subject peoples which Nergal-ereš founded and built in the name of his lord.
Whoever shall blot out a single name from among these names, may the great gods fiercely destroy him. This
inscription contrary to what one might think was not written by Adad-ninari but by Nergal-
ereš on behalf of Adad-nirari: as two errors show: Adad-nirari was not the heir (apal) or co-
139 S. PAGE – A Stela of Adad-nirari III and Nergal-ereš from Tell Al Rimah
in: Iraq 30:2 (1968), pp. 139-153.
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 55
regent of Shamshi-Adad but his son (mar)140 and the inscription begins with “I” and
afterward continues with “He”. A chronological analysis shows that the tribute received by
Adad-nirari III (811-783) from Mari’ king of Damascus (805-780) is in reality anachronistic.
Adad-nirari III took tribute from Damascus in his 5th year (in 806) according to the Saba’a
Stela, his 1st year (in 810) according to the Rimah stela and the Calah Slad gives no year. The
reasons for thinking that each stela describes a different event seem trifling (that there are
discrepancies in numerical quantities of tribute, and that the Rimah text mentions Ia’asu of
Samaria whereas the Saba’a text does not), because Adad-nirari stayed in the land (Assyria)
in 810 and led a campaign against Mannea in 806 according to the Eponym Chronicle.
Worse, Adad-nirari III never led any campaign against Damascus throughout his reign.
There are two explanations, either the stelae relate invented narratives or, more likely, they
related the same famous event, which was the “famous” campaign of Shalmaneser against
Damascus in 841 (mentioning the defeat of Hazael and the tribute from Jehu), in “making
an update”: Hazael (893-839) and Jehu (885-856) being replaced by Mari’ (805-780) and
Jehoash (841-823). Shalmaneser III’s inscriptions unequivocally show that he was
determined to conquer first Syria and afterward Samaria141 (Israel). His conquest of Syria
was seriously hampered by a coalition of 12 kings led by Hadad-ezer of Damascus in 853,
but he defeated Hadad-ezer in 845 (who perished soon after) and he defeated the usurper
Hazael and destroyed his army in 841 BCE. After that date all of northern Syria was
practically under Assyrian control142, which continued to repress recalcitrant kingdoms
during several campaigns from 838 to 829. Hazael died around 839 at the end of Jehoahaz'
reign (2Ki 13:22-25), thus when Shalmaneser III plundered several cities of his kingdom, in
838-837, there was no resistance: In my 21st year, I crossed the Euphrates for the 21st time. I marched
against the towns of Hazael. Four of his larger urban settlements I conquered. I received tribute from the
countries of the inhabitants of Tyre, Sidon and Byblos143 . The booty had to be significant because it
is written144: Booty from the temple of Šehr (Moon-god) at Malaḫa, a royal city of Hazael of Damascus,
which Shalmaneser, son of Aššur-nasir-pal, king of Assyria, brought back inside the wall of the Inner City
(Aššur). Malaḫa was the Aramaic name of Hazor145.
In 827, Shalmaneser III planned a major campaign in order to annex Samaria as
indirectly prove the following points: Shalmaneser reused his name as eponym and the
name of his commander-in-chief (Dayyan-Ashur), as he had did as at the beginning of his
reign; his Crown Prince Aššur-danin-pal led a revolt against his father, which was supported
for the most part by the Assyrian aristocracy because a new war meant more tax and more
dead; in order to quell the revolt Shalmaneser appointed a new Crown Prince (Šamšî-Adad
V) and a new commander-in-chief (Yaḫâlu)146 . In 821, Šamšî-Adad succeeded to quell the
revolt and became king of Assyria. However, and this is an inexplicable enigma, despite his
victory Šamšî-Adad V completely ceased any campaign westward as indeed did all
successive Assyrian rulers until the accession of Tiglath-pileser III. Furthermore the
prestigious title “king of the four regions”, which throughout Mesopotamian history
140 L.R. SIDDALL – The Reign of Adad-nîrârî III
Leiden 2013, Ed. Brill, pp. 120-121.
141 F. JOANNÈS – La Mésopotamie au 1er millénaire avant J.-C.

Paris 2000, Ed. Armand Colin, pp. 24-27


142 J. FREU, M. MAZOYER – Les royaumes néo-hittites à l’âge du fer

Paris 2012, Ed. L’Harmattan, pp. 88-90.


143 J.B. PRITCHARD - Ancient Near Eastern Texts

Princeton 1969 Ed. Princeton University Press pp. 279-281.


144 D.I. BLOCK – Israel: Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention?

Nashville 2008, Ed. B&H Publishing Group, pp. 251-252.


145 E. LIPINSKI – The Aramaeans Their Ancient History, Culture, Religion

Leiden 2000, Ed. Peeters Publishers, pp. 350-352.


146 Given that Yaḫâlu was eponym in 824 BCE he had to be appointed in 826 BCE.
56 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
signified the military prowess of its holder, disappeared from the Assyrian titulary between
Shalmaneser III and Tiglath-pileser III, from 824 to 745. The Bible, in contrast, provides a
logical explanation for this incomprehensible change.
The text of 2 Kings 14:23-25 relates the mission of Jonah with the accession of
Jeroboam II, as pointed out Josephus (Jewish Antiquities IX:205-207), which illuminates
the reason and the urgency of his mission, because this particular year coincides with the
death of Shalmaneser III (in 824). The coincidence in time sheds light on the strange role of
Jonah. As we saw Assyrian expansionism was a dangerous threat to the kingdom of Israel.
When Jonah came to Assyria, the situation was this: the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III who
resided in the new capital Kalhu147 was dying, his son Shamshi-Adad was commissioned, as
new crown prince, to quell the revolt headed by his brother Assur-danin-pal who led, him,
27 cities including the famous Nineveh. Shamshi-Adad V reminds this event in his
inscriptions: Where [my brother] Aššur-danin-pal, in the time of Shalmaneser, his father, acted wickedly,
bringing about sedition, rebellion, and wicked plotting, caused the land to rise in revolt, prepared for war,
brought the people of Assyria, north and south, to his side, and made bold speeches, brought the cities into
the rebellion and set his face to begin strife and battle [...] 27 cities, along with their fortifications [...]
revolted against Shalmaneser, king of the four regions of the world, my father, and [...] had gone to the side
of Aššur-danin-apli148. Thus, the rebellious brother succeeded in bringing to his side 27
important cities, including Nineveh (the rebellion lasted until 822)149.
BCE [A] [B] [C] [D] [E]
824 1 X 34 [21] [3] 14 15 [A] Shalmaneser III, King of Assyria
2 XI [B] Aššur-danin-pal, Crown prince
3 XII
4 I
[C] Shamshi-Adad (V), new Crown prince
35 [22] [4] 15
5 II [D] Amaziah, King of Judah (2Ki 14:1-2)
6 III [E] Jehoash, King of Israel
7 IV [0] *** [B] Aššur-danin-pal, King of Nineveh (Jo 3:6-7)
8 V [C] Shamshi-Adad (V), King of Kalhu
9 VI
10 VII 16
11 VIII
12 IX
823 1 X 0 [E] Jeroboam II, King of Israel (2Ki 14:23-25)
2 XI
3 XII
4 I [1] [23] [5] 16
5 II
6 III
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 1
11 VIII
12 IX
822 1 X
2 XI
3 XII
4 I 2 [24] 17 [A] Shamshi-Adad V, King of Assyria
5 II

The title “king of Nineveh” in Jonah 3:6-7 is unique in the Bible, the usual title being
“king of Assyria” (which is used 92 times in the OT), designates a high representative of the
147 Ashurbanipal had moved the capital of the Assyrian empire to Kalhu (instead of Assur) and Til-Barsip (north-eastern Syria)

became the military capital, Nineveh remaining a religious capital where the worship of Ishtar, a warrior goddess, was celebrated.
148 S. WISE BAUER – The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome.

New York 2007, Ed. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 347–348.


149 F. JOANNÈS - Dictionnaire de la civilisation mésopotamienne

Paris 2001 Éd. Robert Laffont p. 565.


ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 57
King like a Crown Prince150. The biblical text is generally accurate with regard to titles: All
the princes [sarim] of the provinces, the satraps [aḥšdarpenim], the governors [paḥot] and the king's [melek]
administrators [o’sim] helped the Jews (Est 9:3). However, some Assyrian princes, not governors
(2Ki 18:23-24), are also called kings (Is 10:8). For example, the king of Assyria and his
crown prince are both described as "kings of Assyria" (Is 31:18). Thus the phrase "king of
Nineveh" points out correctly the former crown prince Aššur-danin-pal in 824. This period
of crisis, in addition, was marked by a total solar eclipse (visible at Tel Barsip on 3 April 824
BCE)151 just at the beginning (1st Nisan) of the final year of the reign of Shalmaneser III. It
is understandable that in such a dramatic context (insurgencies in rehearsals, sinister total
solar eclipse on Til-Barsip the military capital of the empire, death of King Shalmaneser III,
a fierce conqueror), the dire prediction of Jonah was taken seriously into account by
Assyrian kings (superstitious for the most), including those of Nineveh, the religious capital
of the Empire (Na 3:1,4). The fact to declare a “national mourning” to ward off bad luck
was not implausible, on the contrary. Even the strange "animals mourning" (Jonah 3:8) is
confirmed by Herodotus (The Histories IX:24). The repentance of Ninevites has only
delayed its completion of two centuries (Na 3:7-8)152. Jonah's mission was a success since
Assyrian expansionism to the Mediterranean coast ceased, at least for 80 years. Jonah's
mission is difficult to date in the year, but presumably it ended with the summer solstice
(July 1 at that time) because it is stated: When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and
the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint (Jonah 4:8). As Jonah proclaimed his message
for 40 days (Jonah 3:4) and he had to need 40 days more to travel (by roads) the 1,200
kilometres between Joppa and Nineveh, he had to have received his mission around March.
In this case, the death of Shalmaneser III would have coincided with the beginning of his
mission, that likely impressed the people of Nineveh.
There is a second anomaly between Shalmaneser III and Tiglath-pileser III: the
succession of kings was not performed according to the traditional model of the Crown
Prince who was succeeding his father. He was usually appointed when he was over 20 years
old153 and was married in order to provide an heir. If Shamshi-Adad was around 20 when
he was appointed Crown Prince in 827 BCE his son Adad-nirari had to be around 17 years
old in 810 BCE. Two objects154: a carved container (below), found at Tarbiṣu near
Nineveh), autographed by the commander-in-chief Bêlu-lû-balâṭ (815-810), and a cylinder
seal (found at Nimrud: the ancient Kalhu), which belonged to a royal official of Adad-nirari
III, shed light on the position of these two king during this period.

150 P. FERGUSON – Who was the ‘King of Nineveh’ in Jonah 3:6?

in: Tyndale Bulletin 47:2 (1996) pp. 301-314.


151 http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEsearch/SEsearchmap.php?Ecl=-08230402
152 Nahum referred to the sack of No-Amon (Thebes) in -664, which was a religious capital of Egypt, when warning Nineveh.
153 According to Herodotus: After valour in battle it is accounted noble to father the greatest number of sons: the king sends gifts yearly to him who

gets most. Strength, they believe, is in numbers. They educate their boys from 5 to 20 years old, and teach them only three things: riding and archery and
honesty. A boy is not seen by his father before he is 5 years old, but lives with the women: the point of this is that, if the boy should die in the interval of
his rearing, the father would suffer no grief (...) Hystaspes son of Arsames was an Achaemenid, and Darius was the eldest of his sons, then about 20
years old; this Darius had been left behind in Persia, not yet being of an age to go on campaign (The Histories I:136,209).
154 J. READE – Fez, Diadem, Turban, Chaplet: Power-dressing at the Assyrian Court

in: Studia Orientalia vol. 106 (2009) pp. 252-254.


58 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
The king (who wears the tiara with two ribbons) is knelt
before his co-regent (who wears a diadem with two ribbons).
As the object was signed by Belu-lû-Balat (815-810) the
anonymous king has to be Shamshi-Adad V and the Crown
Prince Adad-nirari III. The cylinder seal (opposite figure)
confirms this hypothesis. The queen (the woman with a crown
and two ribbons) faces a high official himself before the co-
regent (beardless young man who wears the royal two ribbons).
This representation is doubly outstanding because it is the only depiction of an Assyrian
queen and also the only depiction of a Crown Prince without a beard, however it fits
perfectly with the 4-year co-regency of Sammu-ramât (811-807) with his son Adad-nirari III
who was around 20 years old in 807 at the end of his co-regency.
Adad-nirari III’s succession is bewildering because his four sons succeeded each on
the throne, the youngest (Tiglath-pileser III) as co-regent or heir “Pulu”. Given that this
succession took place without rebellion it means that it was accepted by all parties and
therefore that it had to be planned by Adad-nirari III. Because the annals of that period
have not been found it is impossible to know the reasons for these surprising choices, one
can only analyse similar situations to develop a hypothesis. Assyrian kings generally chose
one of their sons as co-regent and successor, but some of them chose one son as co-regent
and another as successor like Shalmaneser III who chose Aššur-danin-pal as co-regent but
Shamshi-Adad V as successor, or Sennacherib who chose Arda-Mulissu as co-regent but
Esarhaddon as successor. However this strange choice could be accepted as “truly
legitimate” only if the successor was the eldest, as Sargon II ("legitimate king") who
succeeded his brother Shalmaneser V, otherwise there could be disputes, thus, despite the
fact that Xerxes had been appointed co-regent by Darius 10 years before his death, his
legitimacy as successor was challenged by Artobarzanes because he was not the eldest
among Darius’ sons, according to Herodotus (The Histories VII:2). Tiglath-pileser who was
appointed as Crown Prince must have been less than 20 years old when Adad-nirari III died
because his father would have been c. 20 years old in 807 when his co-regency with his
mother ceased and he also got married, consequently he must have been born between 807
and 800. If Tiglath-pileser III was born in 800 he was 73 years old when he died in 727 and
would have been around 17 years old in 783. So he was exactly in the same situation as
Adad-nirari III when his father Shamshi-Adad V died, he needed a regent. Anyway,
whatever the exact reasons for this co-regency, it occurred in a “normal” context.
Tiglath-pileser as co-regent led some campaigns in Syria (from 775) under the
Aramaic name of Bar-Ga’yah “son of majesty” and in Samaria (in 765) under the Assyrian
name of Pulu "the heir". It is because he was co-regent that Tiglath-pileser was legitimately
able to dethrone Aššur-nîrârî V his brother. In 754, just when Aššur-nîrârî V had ascended
to the throne, Sarduri II, king of Urartu, defeated the Assyrian army in Arpad, an Assyrian
vassal state in northern Syria155. Only in 749 was a new expedition mounted —not against
Urartu but instead to the border with Babylonia where Assyrian interests were now
endangered as well. In order to remedy this disastrous situation for Assyria, Tiglath-pileser
fomented a revolt156 in his capital city Kalhu when Adad-belu-ka’in was governor of the
land (in 748). Aššur-nîrârî V was aware of the revolt, which broke out in 746, because he
stayed in the land the year before. Tiglath-pileser was indeed the instigator of the revolt
155 This glorious achievement was celebrated in Sarduri's inscriptions and was quite clearly a disaster for Assyria: in the

succeeding years, Assyrian troops did not leave the borders of Assyria.
156 L.R. SIDDALL – The Reign of Adad-nîrârî III

Leiden 2013, Ed. Brill, pp. 125-127.


ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 59
because Bel-dan, the governor of the rebellious Kalhu was
chosen as eponym in 744 two years after the revolt as well as
Adad-belu-ka’in the governor of the land who was chosen as
eponym in 738. Furthermore, Tiglath-pileser III received total
support from his son Shalmaneser V who became co-regent
immediately in 744 after the accession of his father who also had
appointed a new commander-in-chief Nabû-da’inanni (744-726).
It is noteworthy that Shalmaneser is sometimes depicted
alongside Tiglath-pileser III during his military campaigns, in
front of the commander-in-chief (Nabû-da’inanni) as one can
see (opposite figure) for the capture of the city of Ashteroth-
Karnaim in Gilead (Gn 14:5), which was annexed along with
Galilee in 732 BCE. All these events show that Tiglath-pileser
had a royal authority long before his accession.
The co-regencies of Tiglath-pileser III and Sennacherib cannot be seen by
mainstream historians because they do not use an absolute chronology anchored on dates
determined by astronomy. Worse, they prefer using a flawed chronology calculated by
Edwin R. Thiele in 1951. This scholar based all his new chronology on the following
assumptions: 1) the king who preceded Hazael was not Bar-Hadad II but Hadad-ezer; 2)
given that Hadad-ezer was alive in 845 and Hazael was reigning in 841, the latter had to
have started reigning around 842; 3) given that Hazael and Jehu were contemporaries, Jehu
started reigning around 841 as well as Queen Athaliah; 4) Ahab was the Asraelite king (not
Israelite king) mentioned in the battle of Qarqar in 853. Consequently he shifted the reign
of Jehu from 885-856 to 841-814 in order to make it coincide with his assumptions157 :

157 E.R.
THIELE – The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings
New York 1951, Ed. Macmillan, pp. 17,76-77,217.
60 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
However, by creating nine co-regencies in the chronology of Israelite and Judean
Kings, Thiele has annihilated the accuracy and reliability of the biblical account.
SYRIA Reign JUDAH Reign ISRAEL Reign ASSYRIA Reign
Rehoboam 930-913 Jeroboam I 930-909 Aššur-dan II 935-912
Abijah 913-910 Nadab 909-908 Adad-nîrârî II 912-891
Bar-Hadad I 900 - Asa 910-869 Baasha 908-886 Tukulti-Ninurta II 891-884
Elah 886-885 Aššurnasirpal II 884 -
Tibni 885-880
-880 Omri 885-874
Hadad-ezer 880 - Jehosaphat 872 - Ahab 874 - -859
-848 -853 Shalmaneser III 859 -
Ahaziah 841 Ahaziah 853-852
-842 Jehoram (J) 853-841 Joram (A) 852-841
Hazael 842 - Athaliah 841-835 Jehu 841 - -824
Joash 835 - -814 Šamši-Adad V 824-811
-805 -796 Jehoachaz 814-798 Adad-nîrârî III 811 -
Bar-Hadad II 805-792 Amaziah 796-767 Jehoash 798-782 -783
Azariah 792-740 Jeroboam II 793-753 Shalmaneser IV 783-773
Rezin 750 - Jotham 750 - Menahem 752-742 Aššur-dan III 773-755
Pekah 752-732 Aššur-nêrari V 755-745
-732 -732 Pekahiah 742-740 Tiglath-pileser III 745-727
Ahaz 735 - Hoshea 732-723 Shalmaneser V 727-722
-715 Sargon II 722-705
Hezekiah 715-686 Sennacherib 705-681
Manasseh 696-642 Esarhaddon 681-669
Amon 642-640 Aššurbanipal 669-626
Josiah 640 - Sin-šar-iškun 626-612
-609 Aššur-uballit II 612-609

Egyptologists used the chronology of Kitchen, who himself used the biblical
chronology calculated by Thiele, to anchor the chronology of the 22nd dynasty (below),
which is actually problematic because the length of three reigns does not fit158 (bold red), in
contrast the length, according to synchronisms, fits perfectly with the biblical chronology
without co-regencies (highlighted in green).
Dynasty 22 Reign Reign Length of Length according Reign according
(Kitchen) (14C) reign to synchronisms to synchronisms
1 Shoshenq I 945-924 21 years 21 years 980-959
2 Osorkon I 924-889 35 years 35 years 959-924
3 Shoshenq II 890-889 1 year 2 years 924-922
Shoshenq IIb - - - 922
4 Takelot I 889-874 15 years 13 years 922-909
5 Osorkon II 874-850 *24 years* 44 years 909-865
6 Takelot II 850-825 25 years 25 years 865-840
7 Shoshenq III 825 - 52 years 40 years 840-800
Shoshenq IV -773 12 years 800-788
8 Pamiu 773-767 6 years 6 years 788-782
9 Shoshenq V 767-730 37 years 37 years 782-745
10 Osorkon IV 730-716 xxx-712 *14 years* 33 years 745-712
Dynasty 25
4 Shabaka 716-702 14 years 18 years 730-712
5 Shabataka 702-690 *12 years* 23 years 712-689
6 Taharqa 690-664 26 years 26 years 689-663
158 D.A. ASTON – Takeloth I – A King of the ‘Theban Twenty-Third Dynasty’?
in: The Journal of Egyptian Egyptology 75 (1989) pp. 139-153.
K. JANSEN-WINKELN – The Chronology of the Third Intermediate Period: Dyns. 22-24
in: Ancient Egyptian Chronology. Leiden 2006 Ed. Brill pp. 234-264.
E. LANGE – The Sed-Festival Reliefs of Osorkon II at Bubastis: New Investigations
in: The Libyan Period in Egypt. Leuven 2009, Ed. Peeters pp. 203-218.
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 61
Despite the fact that all the assumptions of Thiele contradict the biblical account as
well as its accurate chronology, his “calibrated” chronology for Syrian, Israelite and Judean
kingdoms became the norm for all scholars159 and was used afterward to anchor the
chronologies of the kings of Tyre160 and the 22nd Egyptian dynasty. The cornerstone of all
these chronologies is the date of 841 BCE for the beginning of the reign of Hazael. It is
obvious that the assumption of Thiele is wrong because given that Hazael was a powerful
Syrian king and that his army was destroyed in 841, this latter date marks the end of
Hazael's reign, not its beginning. As a result, historical interpretations offered by current
archaeologists, biblical scholars and prominent Egyptologists161, which are all based on this
cornerstone event162 , are obviously false.
The reign of Hazael played a key role in Mesopotamian history, however most of the
chronological data come mainly from the Bible163 . The only way to date this reign is to place
in parallel all the known events with their dates (anchored dates are in bold):
BCE Events according to the biblical text Events according to extra-biblical documents
972 In the 5th year of Rehoboam (977-960) Shishak King Shoshenq I (980-959) depicted his
the king of Egypt came against Jerusalem and triumphal campaign in Palestine on the south
captured some fortified cities of Judah (1Ki wall of the Bubastite Portal at Karnak (see:
14:25-26, 2Ch 12:2-9). Dating the Shoshenq I's campaign in Palestine).
950-930 Judaean King Asa (957-916) asked Ben-Hadad I We only know that, according to Shalmaneser
the son of Tabrimmon the son of Hezion I, the III’s Annals, there was already a powerful king
king of Syria (1Ki 15:18), to break his covenant of Aram (Syria) in Damascus at the time of
with Baasha (954-931), the king of Israel. Aššur-rabi II (1013-972).
Several cities of Israel were taken (2Ch 16:1-7).
919 Israelite King Ahab (919-898) at the beginning According to the Tyrian archives copied by
of his reign married Jezebel, daughter of Menander of Ephesus, Ithobaal I (944-912)
Ethbaal the king of Sidonians (1Ki 16:29-31). lived 68 years.
920-885 Syrian King Ben-Hadad II attacked Ahab (919- According to the Tel Dan Stele164 (wrote by
898), the king of Israel, but was defeated (1Ki Hazael): And my father lay down; he went to his
20:1-34). Hazael was appointed as Army chief [fathers]. And the king of I[s]rael penetrated into my
around 900 (1Ki 19:15-17). In 885, he killed father's land[. And] Hadad made me-myself-king. And
Ben-Hadad II and became King of Syria (2Ki Hadad went in front of me[, and] I departed from [...]
8:7-15), then he wounded Joram the son of of my kings. And I killed two [power]ful kin[gs], who
Achab (1Ki 8:25-29). Soon after Jehu slayed harnessed two thou[sand cha]riots and two thousand
both Joram, the king of Israel, and Ahaziah, the horsemen. [I killed Jeho]ram son of [Ahab] king of
king of Judah, to become King of Israel (1Ki Israel, and I killed [Ahaz]yahu son of [Jehoram kin]g
9:14-29). After Ahaziah’s death Athaliah his of the House of David. And I set [...] their land [...]
mother ruled Judah during 6 years (2Ki 11:1-3). other [... and Jehu ru]led over Is[rael ...]
867-856 In the last part of the reign of Jehu (885-856), In two booty inscriptions165 one reads: that which
Hazael started to cut off all the territories of Hadad gave to our lord Hazael from ‘Umq (Pattin) in
Israel (2Ki 10:31-34) as well as those of Joash, the year that our lord crossed the River (Orontes?).
the king of Judah (2Ki 13:1-3). Hazael captured Another inscription on an ivory plaque reads:
Gath, a capital of the Philistines and even went [that which H]adad of ‘Imma [gave] to our lord Hazael
up against Jerusalem. After he received a heavy in the year that Ḥa[lab? = Aleppo] was [cap]tured.
tribute in gold from Joash (879-839), he These campaigns in Syria show that Hazael was
withdrew from Jerusalem (2Ki 12:17-19). a powerful conqueror in this region.
159 J. FINEGAN – Handbook of Biblical Chronology
Princeton 1964, Ed. Princeton University Press (1998, Hendrickson Publishers), pp. 248-250.
160 Despite the fact that Baalezer II (856-850) does not match neither the name (Baalmanzer) nor the date (841 BCE).
161 K.A. KITCHEN – On the Reliability of the Old Testament

Cambridge 2003, Ed. Eerdmans Publishing Co., pp. 22-25, 30-34,108-110.


162 I. FINKELSTEIN – The Forgotten Kingdom. The Archaeology and History of Northern Israel

Atlanta 2013, Ed. Society of Biblical Literature, pp. 76, 84-85, 96, 106, 117-127.
163 H. GHANTOUS – The Elisha-Hazael Paradigm and the Kingdom of Israel

New York 2014 Ed. Routledge §§ 1-4.


164 A. LEMAIRE – Épigraphie palestinienne : Nouveau Documents. I. Fragment de stèle araméenne de Tell Dan (IXe s. av. J.-C.)

in: Henoch 16 (1994) pp. 87-93.


165 E. LIPINSKI – The Aramaeans Their Ancient History, Culture, Religion

Leiden 2000, Ed. Peeters Publishers, pp. 388-389.


62 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
856-838 From the 23rd year of Joash the son of Ahaziah In 856, Shalmaneser annexed Bit-Adini. In 853:
(in 856), Hazael, then his son Ben-Hadad III, He fought with Hadad-ezer of Damascus, Irhuleni of
oppressed again Israel all the days of Jehoahaz Hamath and 12 kings from the seacoast. He slew in
(856-839). Finally Hazael the king of Syria died battle 25,000 of their experienced soldiers —they
and Ben-Hadad III began to reign in place of (themselves) dispersed to save their lives. In 848: He
him. Jehoash (839-823) the son of Jehoahaz fought against Hadadezer and slew 10,000 experienced
proceeded to take back again from the hand of soldiers. In 845: with an army of 120,000 men he
Ben-Hadad III the son of Hazael the cities that defeated Hadadezer together with his allies and
he had taken from the hand of Jehoahaz his destroyed their chariots and their cavalry-horses. He
father (2Ki 13:1-9,22-25). stretched upon the ground 20,900 of his strong warriors,
Hadadezer perished, Hazael, who was an usurper,
seized the throne. In 841: He defeated Hazael of
Damascus, killed with the sword 16,000 of his
experienced soldiers, took away 1,121 chariots and 470
riding horses. Hazael disappeared to save his life. In
838/837: Shalmaneser took 4 larger urban settlements,
like Hazor, which had belonged to Hazael166.
838-805 Jehoash (839-823) the son of Jehoahaz took According to the Zakkur Stela167: Then Bar-
back again from Ben-Hadad III the cities that Hadad the son of Hazael, the king of Aram, formed an
he had taken from Jehoahaz his father (2Ki alliance with sev[enteen] kings: Bir-Hadad and his
13:22-25). Likewise Jeroboam II (823-782) army (...). Zakkur's account mentions a
recovered to Judah the land annexed to providential help from Baalshamên who had
Damascus and Hamath (1Ki 14:28). The successfully broken the siege. It is generally
recovering of land from Hazael and Ben-Hadad agreed, however, that in reality the siege was
III occurred a few years before 798 BCE (Am broken by means of some intervention, which
1:1-5) because the quake in the days of Uzziah, occurred in 805 BCE when Adad-nîrârî III led a
the king of Judah, happened in the 27th year of campaign against Arpad. Consequently Bar-
Jeroboam II (2Ki 15:1-2), dated in 796 BCE, Hadad III formed his alliance in 806 BCE (and
when King Uzziah had to be replaced by was defeated) because Adad-nîrârî III received
Azariah the high priest (2Ch 26:1-23). in 805 a tribute from Mari’ the king of
Damascus, according to the Saba’a Stela168.
824/823 The text of 2 Kings 14:23-25 relates the mission Aššur-danin-pal was the sole Assyrian king to
of Jonah with the accession of Jeroboam II be king of Nineveh, from 824 to 822 BCE,
(823-782), as pointed out Josephus (Jewish during this period his brother Shamshi-Adad V
Antiquities IX:205-207). His message reached was king of Kalhu before becoming king of
the king of Nineveh (Jonah 3:6), not of Assyria. Assyria.
765 Menahem (771-760), the king of Israel, gave a Mehahem from Samaria gave Tiglath-pileser’s a
tribute to the Assyrian king Pul (“the heir”) tribute according to his annals (when he reigned
who reigned afterward under the name Tiglath- under the name Bar-Ga’yah “Son of Majesty”
pileser (2Ki 15:19-29; 1Ch 5:26). during the campaign to Hadrach in 765 BCE).
This reconstruction (above) shows that the biblical and Assyrian chronologies169
match perfectly. In addition, it also shows that the hypothesis to replace Bar-Hadad II by
Hadad-ezer involves a chronological absurdity because there would have been afterward a
king of Syria reigning over the period 805-780 with two different names: Mari’ and Bar-
Hadad depending on inscriptions, but it is unprecedented (some kings have changed their
name or have taken a throne name but have never used two names simultaneously). The
only disagreement between Biblical and Assyrian data is the presence of King Hadad-ezer
preceding Hazael the king of Syria. According to the annals of Shalmaneser III, Hadad-ezer
was the Syrian leader of the coalition that led the military operations against Assyria during
the period from 853 to 845. Campaigns were generally led by kings, but in practice these
military operations were conducted by the chief of the army: So Hadadezer sent for the Syrians
166 J.B. PRITCHARD - Ancient Near Eastern Texts
Princeton 1969, Ed. Princeton University Press, pp. 279-281.
167 P. MACHINIST – Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East

Atlanta 2003, Ed. Society of Biblical Literature, pp. 204-207.


168 S. HASEGAWA – Adad-nērārī III’s Fifth Year in the Saba’a Stela. Historiographical Background

in: Revue d'assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale Vol. 102:1 (2008), pp. 89-98.
169 L.L. GRABBE – Ahab Agonistes: The Rise and Fall of the Omri Dynasty

Princeton 2007, Ed. Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 48-77.


ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 63
in the region of the River, and then they came to Helam, with Shobach the chief of the army of Hadadezer
leading them. When the report was made to David, he immediately gathered all Israel and crossed the
Jordan and came to Helam. The Syrians then drew up in battle formation to meet David and fought against
him. But the Syrians fled from Israel; and David killed 700 charioteers and 40,000 horsemen of the
Syrians, and he struck down Shobach the chief of their army, who died there. When all the kings, the
servants of Hadadezer, saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they promptly made peace with Israel and
became their subjects; and the Syrians were afraid to help the Ammonites anymore (2S 10:16-19).
Naaman was a former army chief of Ben-Hadad II (2Ki 5:1) he might have obtained his
fame by repelling the campaign of Assyrian king Adad-nîrârî II (912-891) into Syria in 899
BCE170. Hazael himself had been head of Bar-Hadad II's army (900-885) before becoming
king. Chiefs of the army were as powerful as the king, some of them, like Omri (1Ki 16:16)
or Hazael (2Ki 8:15), even murdered their king to reign in his place. If Hazael was
appointed as army chief of Bar-Hadad II towards 890, as he was likely at least 20 years old
at that time, so in 853 (Battle of Qarqar) he was 57 years old171, that may have led him to
choose his own army chief: Hadad-ezer “Hadad is my help”. Hadad-ezer was sometimes
called King by the Assyrians for the following reasons: he led military campaigns with other
Aramean kings and in Assyrian annals Hazael, who was king, the one called usurper (“son
of nobody”) at that time. Given that during this period (853-845) Hadad-ezer did not play
any significant role in Israelite history he was not mentioned. Although the coming to
power of Hazael occurred in a very complex context (a king is murdered another died and
two are killed) all the chronological data coming from the Bible are absolutely consistent:
BCE [A] [B] [C] [D] [E]
886 1 X 6 11 (34) (4) [A] Joram (A), King of Judah (2Ki 8:16-17)
2 XI
3 XII [C] Joram (J), King of Israel (2Ki 3:1)
4 I 7 [D] Ben-Hadad II, King of Syria (1Ki 20:1-2)
5 II [E] Hazael, Army chief of Syria (1Ki 19:15-17)
6 III
7 IV
8 V 0 [B] Ahaziah, King of Judah (2Ki 9:29)
9 VI
10 VII 12 (35) (5)
11 VIII
12 IX
885 1 X
2 XI
3 XII
4 I 8 1 (0) [D] Hazael, King of Syria (2Ki 8:15)
5 II
6 III [B] Ahaziah, King of Judah (2Ki 8:25-26)
7 IV
8 V
9 VI [A] Ahaziah, [C] Joram (J) (2Ki 8:28-9:3)
10 VII 0 (1) [A] Athaliah, reigning over the land (2Ki 11:1-3)
11 VIII 0 [C] Jehu, King of Israel (2Ki 10:36)
12 IX
884 1 X
2 XI
3 XII
4 I (1) 1 [B] [Jehoiadah] king of Judah (2Ch 23:1; 24:15,16)
5 II
6 III
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 1 (2)
11 VIII
12 IX
170 J. BOARDMAN, I.E.S. EDWARDS – The Cambridge Ancient History

Cambridge 1982, Ed. Cambridge University Press, pp. 249-251.


171 Consequently, when Hazael died around 840 BCE he was 70 years old.
64 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
The previous analysis of Hazael's reign shows that one must always fix an accurate
and reliable chronology of reigns before interpreting historical events. In addition kings of
Syria are mainly known through the Bible even the last king Rezin, whose reign172 from c.
750 to 732 BCE is better documented173.
The study of Tiglath-pileser III's campaigns enables us to understand the aim of his
conquests and his strategy174. Actually, under Shalmaneser IV and Aššur-dan III, military
expeditions are directed to Damascus, but without great consequences, and twice against
Hazrak (Hatarikka), a strategic position on the way to the river Orontes. But the kingdoms
continued to exist. Assyria was then threatened by Urartu, whose power was then on the
ascent, and her own interest dictates a comparatively moderate attitude towards the
Aramaean kingdoms. The solution was to maintain Assyrian control of Arpad, the close
neighbour who dominated the whole area between the land of Euphrates and the river
Orontes. The best thing for this purpose was to induce this neighbour to conclude
agreements with the king of Til-Barsip, Bar Ga’yah. Assyrian domination depended on the
respect of such treaties by independent sovereigns. The 746 “coup” changed the whole
affair. Mati’el was no longer bound by his oath of allegiance to Aššur-nîrârî V, since the
king had been eliminated and if the commander-in-chief Shamshi-ilu fell victim of the same
purge, the attitude of the king of Arpad can be even better explained. He joined the
coalition formed by Sarduri of Urartu which included Sulumal of Melitene, Tarhulara of
Gurgum and Kushtashpi of Kummuh. Practically all Northern Syria, from Arpad to
Melitene, adhered to the coalition. It was utterly defeated, but Sarduri was able to escape.
The steps then taken by Tiglath-pileser are instructive. He annexed the territories between
Arpad and the coast near Antioch and Hamath. All the others, including Sama’al,
Carchemish, Damascus, Samaria and the Phoenician cities were left independent, though
forced to pay tribute. In short, he annexed the nearest conquered territories, thus enabling
him to cut off possible future enemies, and he imposed his authority on more remote
sovereigns without deposing them. That is what he had done in Babylonia after seizing
power: he had annexed the areas along the Tigris down to the Uknu and the Persian gulf,
while leaving Nippur under the control of Babylon, where apparently he did not even go. In
short, until 738, Tiglath-pileser had adopted a flexible policy, which after all was not so new.
When Shalmaneser III had started his Syrian campaigns in 858, he had annexed the territory
of his closest neighbour, Bit-Adini, turning Til-Barsip into Kar-Shalmaneser, but he could
not carry this annexation policy further because his opponents were too powerful, as the
battle of Qarqar in 853 clearly showed. Tiglath-pileser III followed the same plans, but the
balance of forces in his favour enabled him immediately to annex the territories adjoining
Bit-Adini, where he posted permanent garrisons in order to launch faster counter strokes in
case of need. This did not always prove possible because of the Medes and Urartu, that’s
why he unfolded his annexation plan of the Syro-Palestinian war: Rezin of Damascus,
Pekah of Israel (2Ki 16:5-9) and the Philistine cities formed a coalition which Ahaz refused
to join, calling Tiglath-pileser to his aid (2Ch 28:16-20). Hoshea of Israel formed a
conspiracy against Pekah, he put him to death and began to reign in place of him (2Ki
15:27-30). In 734 BCE, Tiglath-pileser III invaded and immediately conquered the Philistine
territories. The reconstruction of this troubled period highlights (in brown below) several
synchronisms among the Assyrian, Israelite (Samaria) and Judean reigns.
172 T. BRYCE – The World of the Neo-Hittite Kingdoms

Oxford 2012, Ed. Oxford University Press, pp. 302-309.


173 N. NA'AMAN– Rezin of Damascus and the Land of Gilead

in: Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins Vol. 111:2 (1995), pp. 105-117.
174 P. GARELLI – The Achievement of Tiglath-pileser III: Novelty or Continuity?

in: Scripta Hierosolymitana Vol. XXXIII (Jerusalem, 1991), pp. 46-51.


ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 65
BCE [A] [B] [C] [D] [E]
742 1 X 2 (1) 5 15 16 [A] Tiglath-pileser III, King of Assyria
2 XI
3 XII [B] Shalmaneser (V), Crown prince
4 I 3 (2) 6 16 [C] Nabû-nasir, King of Babylonia
5 II [D] Jotham, King of Judah (2Ki 15:32-33)
6 III
7 IV
[E] Pekah, King of Israel (2Ki 15:27)
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 17 [E] Pekah against Jotham (2Ki 15:37-38)
11 VIII
12 IX 0 [D] Ahaz, King of Judah (2Ki 16:1)
741 1 X
2 XI
3 XII
4 I 4 (3) 7 1
5 II
6 III [17]
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 18
11 VIII
12 IX
740 1 X
2 XI
3 XII
4 I 5 (4) 8 2 [D] Ahaz sent to the (two) kings of Assyria for them to help
5 II
6 III [18] him (2Ch 28:16-20) and asked to be a vassal of Tiglath-pileser
7 IV III (2Ki 16:7).
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 19
11 VIII
12 IX
739 1 X
2 XI
3 XII
4 I 6 (5) 9 (3)
5 II
6 III [19]
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 20 [E] Pekah, King of Israel died (2Ki 15:27)
11 VIII
12 IX
738 1 X
2 XI
3 XII
4 I 7 (6) 10 (4)
5 II
6 III [20]
0 [E] Hoshea, King of Israel (2Ki 15:30)
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII [1] [E] Beginning of the 65-year period (Is 7:8-9)
11 VIII
12 IX

Assyrian and biblical narratives during this period of great upheavals overlap
perfectly and illuminate mutually. In 742, Rezin (750-732), the powerful king of Damascus,
formed a coalition to resist Tiglath-pileser III’s attack, Pekah (758-738), the king of Israel,
joined the coalition but not Jotham (758-742), the king of Judah, entailing a retaliation
against Jotham who died at the end of this year (2Ki 15:37-38). In 740, the kingdom of Bit-
Agusi (Arpad) was defeated by Tiglath-pileser III during his 6th campaign in Syria and was
definitively annexed to the Assyrian empire. In order to defeat Pekah, Ahaz (742-726), the
new king of Judah: asked the (two) kings of Assyria for help (2Ch 28:16-20); It was then that King
66 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to wage war against Jerusalem. They
laid siege against Ahaz but were not able to capture the city. At that time King Rezin of Syria restored
Elath to Edom, after which he drove the Jews out of Elath. And the Edomites entered Elath, and they
have occupied it down to this day. So Ahaz sent messengers to King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria, saying: I am
your servant and your son. Come up and save me from the hand of the king of Syria and the hand of the
king of Israel, who are attacking me. Ahaz then took the silver and the gold that was to be found at the
house of Jehovah and in the treasuries of the king’s house and sent the king of Assyria a bribe (2Ki 16:5-
8). According to the biblical text, the main aim of the two campaigns of Tiglath-pileser III
against Damascus to annex it, in 733 and 732, was primarily greed rather than strategy.
The paralleling of all the reigns helps to understand a few chronological oddities in
some biblical reigns. For example Hoshea became king in the 12th year of Ahaz the king of
Judah in 729 (see below), however he was already king from the 20th year of Jotham (2Ki
15:30) who only reigned 16 years (2Ki 15:32-33)! In fact the explanation is simple, given
that Hoshea was appointed by Tiglath-pileser III in 738 he was his servant, but not of God,
consequently his reign became valid (and has been registered) only after his anointing as
king of Judah in 729. Similarly, because Ahaz became the servant of Tiglath-pileser III in
740 his reign became invalid from this date until the departure of Tiglath-pileser III in 732.
Consequently when Hoshea was appointed king in 740, which was the 4th year of Ahaz, the
scribe chose to reckon his reign from the 20th year of Jotham because the latter was a valid
reign despite he was dead at that time.
BCE [A] [B] [C] [D] [E]
730 1 X 14 (13) 1 11 [8] [A] Tiglath-pileser III, King of Assyria
2 XI
3 XII [B] Shalmaneser (V), Crown prince
4 I 15 (14) 2 12 [C] Nabû-mukîn-zêri, King of Babylonia
5 II [D] Ahaz, King of Judah
6 III
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII [9]
11 VIII
12 IX
729 1 X
2 XI 0 [E] Hoshea, King of Israel (2Ki 17:1)
3 XII
4 I 16 (15) 3 13
5 II
6 III 0 [C] Pulu, King of Babylonia
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 1
11 VIII
12 IX [10]

After the reign of Tiglath-pileser III synchronisms between the Assyrian and biblical
chronologies are easier to crosscheck because they are confirmed by several other
synchronisms with the Babylonian and Egyptian chronologies. For example, the fall of
Samaria began in the 4th year of King Hezekiah, which was the 7th year of Hoshea, when
Shalmaneser V the king of Assyria came against Samaria and began to lay siege to it, which
lasted 3 years (2Ki 18:9-11). According to a Babylonian chronicle the fall of Samaria began
on the 5th and last year of Shalmaneser V and was achieved 3 years later on the 2nd year of
Sargon II according to the annals of Sargon175: In the beg[inning of my royal rule (January 721), I
besieged the town of the Sama]rians ... I besieged and conquered Samaria (Sa-me-ri-na), led away as booty
175J.B. PRITCHARD - Ancient Near Eastern Texts
Princeton 1969, Ed. Princeton University Press, pp. 284-285.
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 67
27,290 inhabitants of it (...) I conquered and sacked the towns Shinutu (and) Samaria and all Israel (Bit
Ḫu-um-ri-ia) () in the second year of my rule (from April 720), Ilubi’di of Hamath (...) Samaria [revolted
against me] . A crosschecking of Sargon's inscriptions shows that Sargon II besieged Samaria
in 721 and conquered the capital of Israel in 720176.
BCE [A] [B] [C] [D] [E]
722 1 X 4 4 3 7 [A] Shalmaneser V, King of Assyria
2 XI
3 XII [16] [C] Ulûlaiu, King of Babylonia
4 I 5 1 5 4 *** [B] Siege of Samaria
5 II [D] Hezekiah, King of Judah (2Ki 18:9)
6 III
7 IV
[E] Hoshea, King of Israel (2Ki 17:3-4)
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 8
11 VIII
12 IX [17]
721 1 X 0 *** 0
2 XI [A] Sargon II, King of Assyria
3 XII
[C] Merodachbaladan II, King of Babylonia
4 I 1 2 1 5
5 II
6 III
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 9
11 VIII
12 IX [18]
720 1 X
2 XI
3 XII
4 I 2 3 2 6
5 II
6 III
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII
11 VIII
12 IX [19]
719 1 X
2 XI
3 XII
[D] Hezekiah, King of Judah (2KI 18:10)
*** ***
4 I 3 3 7 [B] Fall of Samaria
5 II

The missed capture of Jerusalem by Sennacherib during his 3rd campaign is famous,
but its dating remains controversial because mainstream historians continue to ignore his
co-regency with Sargon II from 715 (see Dating the Sennacherib's Campaign to Judah).
BCE [A] [B] [C] [D] [E]
712 1 X 9 (2) 9 13
2 XI
3 XII [26]
4 I 10 (3) 10 14 [A] Sargon II, King of Assyria (Is 20:1, 36:1)
5 II
6 III [B] Sennacherib, Crown Prince (2Ki 18:13-17)
7 IV [C] Merodachbaladan II, King of Babylonia (Is 39:1)
8 V [D] Hezekiah, King of Judah
9 VI
10 VII
11 VIII
12 IX [27]

176J. BRIEND M.J SEUX - Textes du Proche-Orient ancien et histoire d'Israël


Paris 1977 Éd. Cerf pp. 105-110.
68 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
As we saw, Rezin (750-732), the powerful king of Damascus, formed a coalition to
resist Tiglath-pileser III’s attack, Pekah (758-738), the king of Israel, joined the coalition but
not Jotham, the king of Judah: Then Hoshea the son of Elah formed a conspiracy against Pekah the
son of Remaliah, and he struck him and put him to death; and he became king in his place in the 20th year
of Jotham (in 738) the son of Uzziah (2Ki 15:30). Now in the days of Ahaz son of Jotham son of
Uzziah, the king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah, the king of Israel, came up to
wage war against Jerusalem, but he could not capture it (...) This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says:
It will not succeed, nor will it take place. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is
Rezin. Within just 65 years Ephraim will be completely shattered and cease to be a people. The head of
Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah (Is 7:1,7-9). Given that the
head of Samaria (Ephraim/Israel) was Pekah who died in 738, the shattering of Ephraim
(inhabitants of Samaria) had to occur in 673 (= 738 - 65).
BCE [A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F]
674 1 X 6 6 22 [A] Esarhaddon, King of Assyria
2 XI
3 XII [64] [C] Esarhaddon, King of Babylonia
4 I 7 (0) 7 23 [B] Sin-nâdin-apli, Crown Prince
5 II
6 III [E] Manasseh, King of Judah
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII
11 VIII
12 IX [65]
673 1 X
2 XI
3 XII [A] Defeat in Egypt dated 05/XII/7 (ABC 1)
4 I 8 (1) 8 24 [A] Esarhaddon, King of Assyria (Ez 4:2)
5 II
6 III [B] Aššurbanipal Coregent (Ez 4:9,10)
7 IV
8 V [E] Manasseh, King of Judah (2Ch 33:11)
9 VI [F] End of the 65-year period (Is 7:8-9)
10 VII ***
11 VIII
12 IX
672 1 X
2 XI
3 XII [A] Ešarra-hamat, Esarhaddon’s wife died
4 I 9 (0) 9 (0) 25 [B] Aššurbanipal, Crown Prince (Ass)
5 II
6 III [D] Šamaš-šum-ukîn, Crown Prince (Bab)
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII
11 VIII
12 IX
671 1 X
2 XI
3 XII
4 I 10 (1) 10 (1) 26
5 II

Sargon II destroyed Samaria the capital of Israel in 720 but the shattering of Israel
occurred later when Assyrian kings took into exile some nations and settled them in the
cities of Samaria: they immediately approached Zerubbabel and the heads of the paternal houses and said
to them (in 537): Let us build along with you; for like you, we worship your God and we have been
sacrificing to him since the days of King Esarhaddon of Assyria, who brought us here (...) and the rest of the
nations that the great and honourable Asenappar (Aššurbanipal) took into exile and settled in the cities of
Samaria, and the rest in the region Beyond the River (Ezr 4:2,10). In addition, regarding King
Manasseh: So Jehovah brought against them the (two) army chiefs of the king of Assyria, and they
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 69
captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with two copper fetters and took him to Babylon. In his
distress, he begged Jehovah his God for favour and kept humbling himself greatly before the God of his
forefathers. He kept praying to Him, and He was moved by his entreaty and heard his request for favour,
and He restored him to Jerusalem to his kingship. Then Manasseh came to know that Jehovah is the true
God (2Ch 33:11). The harmonizing of all the information is consistent: two Assyrian kings,
Esarhaddon (681-669) and Aššurbanipal, came in 673 to take into exile some foreigners to
settle them in the cities of Samaria and they also brought back King Manasseh to put him in
jail but they released him rapidly. This version of events is partly confirmed by the annals of
Esarhaddon and Aššurbanipal177. The Prism B of Esarhaddon reads: I called up the kings of the
country Hatti and (of the region) on the other side of the river (Euphrates): Ba’lu, king of Tyre, Manasseh
(Me-na-si-i) king of Judah (Ia-ú-di), Qaushgabri, king of Edom, Musuri, king of Moab, Sil-Bel, king of
Gaza, Metinti, kong of Ashkelon, Ikausu, king of Ekron, Milkiashapa, king of Byblos, Matanba’al,
king of Arvad (...) together 22 kings of Hatti, the seashore and the islands; all these I sent out and made
them transport under terrible difficulties, to Nineveh, the town (where I exercise) my rulership. This
inscription is dated the eponym Atarilu178, in 673, which corresponds exactly to the biblical
dating, however the same events on the Rassam Cylinder are dated the 1st campaign of
Aššurbanipal: In my 1st campaign I marched against Upper Egypt (Magan) and Ethiopia (Meluhha).
Tirhakah (Tarqû), king of Egypt (Muṣur) and Nubia (Kûsu), whom Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, my
own father, had defeated and in whose country he (Esarhaddon) had ruled (...) During my march (to Egypt)
22 kings from the seashore, the islands and the mainland: Ba’al, king of Tyre, Manasseh (Mi-in-si-e), king
of Judah (Ia-ú-di), Qaushgabri, king of Edom (...) Tirhakah heard un Memphis of the defeat of his army
(...) Tirhakah has been driven out of Egypt (...) They (the officers) arrested these kings and put their hands
and feet in iron cuffs and fetters (...) Those kings who repeatedly schemed, they brought alive to me to
Nineveh. From all of them, I had only mercy upon Necho and granted him life. I made (a treaty) with him
(protected by) oaths which greatly surpassed (those of the former treaty) (...) In my 2nd campaign I marched
directly against Egypt and Nubia (...) In my 3rd campaign I marched against Ba’il, king of Tyre. Given
that the 1st campaign of Aššurbanipal (669-627) as King is dated 668, the events relate
rather during his 1st campaign as co-regent (in 673).
A cross-checking of all the documents concerning Aššurbanipal, Annals and
Chronicles, shows that some have been modified. For example, an unknown son of
Esarhaddon named Sin-nâdin-apli was appointed as crown prince in 674, then in 672 two
others were appointed as crown princes respectively for Babylonia and Assyria179: Šamaš-
šum-ukîn, his eldest son, and Aššurbanipal. On the other hand Esarhaddon’s Chronicles
show that the campaign against Egypt is clearly dated 3/VII/10 (October 671), which
corresponds to the 1st year of Aššurbanipal as coregent, but dated the 2nd year in his annals
(Upper Egypt is dated to his 1st year). This 1-year discrepancy is very troubling but could be
explained by the fact that Sin-nâdin-apli “Sin has given the heir” and Aššur-bani-pli “Aššur
has created the heir” were actually the same person180. The former name represented the
prince’s original name and the second the throne name (for example, the throne name of
Esarhaddon name was Aššur-etel-ilâni-mukîn-apli but he never used it), which events could
explain that Ashurbanipal was chosen twice, once in 674 as Crown Prince181 and again in
177 J.B. PRITCHARD - Ancient Near Eastern Texts
Princeton 1969 Ed. Princeton University Press pp. 289-301.
178 J. BRIEND M.J SEUX - Textes du Proche-Orient ancien et histoire d'Israël

Paris 1977, Éd. Cerf, pp. 128-134.


179 F. JOANNÈS - Dictionnaire de la civilisation mésopotamienne

Paris 2001 Éd. Robert Laffont pp. 82-84,102-105.


180 S. PARPOLA – Letters from Assyrian Scholars to the Kings Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal

Winona Lake 2007, Ed. Eisenbrauns, pp. 3-4,105-106.


181 With oaths promising support for the succession of Assurbanipal to the throne on Esarhaddon’s death (J. LAUINGER -

Esarhaddon’s Succession Treaty at Tell Tayinat: Text and Commentary in: Journal of Cuneiform Studies Vol. 64 (2012), pp. 87-123).
70 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
672 as Crown Prince (for Assyria only). Unfortunately Ashurbanipal's Chronicles182 for the
events of his Year 8 are broken at this location and his Year 9 was omitted183. Clearly, the
year 8 of Esarhaddon (in 672), when Manasseh was released, was damaging for the
Assyrians but they did not give any reason. On the contrary Year 10 of Esarhaddon is
better known because of the victory over Taharqa (in 671), commemorated on the Nahr El
Kelb Stele184, near Beirut. Lines 31-35 of the fragmentary inscription read as follows:
Ashkelon ... which Taharqa to their fortress ... Tyre ... 22 kings ...
END OF THE ASSYRIAN EMPIRE IN 609 BCE
The last synchronism between the Israelite and Assyrian chronologies is very well
documented because it occurred at the end of Assyrian Empire in 609 BCE with the Fall of
Harran just after the Battle of Megiddo: In his days Pharaoh Necho the king of Egypt came to meet
the king of Assyria (Aššur-uballiṭ II) by the Euphrates River, and King Josiah went out to confront him;
but when Necho saw him, he put him to death at Megiddo. So his servants transported his dead body in a
chariot from Megiddo and brought him to Jerusalem and buried him in his grave. Then the people of the
land took Josiah’s son Jehoachaz and anointed him and made him king in place of his father. Jehoachaz
was 23 years old when he became king (...) Pharaoh Necho imprisoned him at Riblah in the land of
Hamath, to keep him from reigning in Jerusalem, and then imposed on the land a fine of 100 silver talents
and a gold talent. Furthermore, Pharaoh Necho made Josiah’s son Eliakim king in place of his father
Josiah and changed his name to Jehoiakim; but he took Jehoahaz and brought him to Egypt, where he
eventually died (2Ki 23:29-34). The end of Assyrian dominion replaced by the Babylonian
dominion had to occur at that time (in 609 BCE): After all of this, when Josiah had prepared the
temple, King Necho of Egypt came up to fight at Carchemish by the Euphrates. Then Josiah went out
against him. So he sent messengers to him, saying: What does this have to do with you, O king of Judah? I
am not coming against you today, but my fight is against another house, and God says that I should hurry.
For your own sake, refrain from opposing God, who is with me, or he will bring you to ruin. However,
Josiah would not turn away from him, but he disguised himself to fight against him and would not listen to
the words of Necho, which were from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the Plain of Megiddo. And
the archers shot King Josiah, and the king said to his servants: Get me out of here, for I am severely
wounded. So his servants took him out of the chariot and had him ride in his second war chariot and
brought him to Jerusalem. Thus he died and was buried in the tomb of his forefathers, and all Judah and
Jerusalem mourned Josiah. And Jeremiah chanted over Josiah, and all the male and female singers keep
singing about Josiah in their dirges down to this day (La 4:18-20); and a decision was made that they
should be sung in Israel, and they are written among the dirges (2Ch 35:20-25). Herodotus recorded
this famous battle and Egyptian campaign in his writings: Necos, when he gave up the construction
of the canal, turned all his thoughts to war, and set to work to build a fleet of triremes, some intended for
service in the northern sea, and some for the navigation of the Erythraean. These last were built in the
Arabian Gulf (Red Sea) where the dry docks in which they lay are still visible. These fleets he employed
wherever he had occasion, while he also made war by land upon the Syrians (Assyrians?) and defeated them
in a pitched battle at Magdolus (Megiddo), after which he made himself master of Cadytis (Kadesh), a large
city of Syria. The dress which he wore on these occasions he sent to Branchidae in Milesia, as an offering to
Apollo. After having reigned in all 16 years, Necos died (The Histories II:159). Babylonian
Chronicles185 give more details:
182 A.K. GRAYSON – Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles
Winona Lake 2000, Ed. Eisenbrauns pp. 84-85,126-127.
183 We just learned that Esarhaddon's first wife Ešarra-ḫamat died the 5/XII/8 (March 672) and there were seven substitutes

kings (a false king appointed to neutralize a bad omen) between 679 and 669
184 R. GANE – The Role of Assyria in the Ancient Near East During the Reign of Manasseh

in: Andrews University Seminary Studies Vol. 35 :1 (J1997), pp. 21-32.


185 A.K. GRAYSON – Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, pp. 90-100.
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 71
ØThe 10th year of Nabopolassar (...) In the month of Tishri (October 616 BCE) the army of Egypt and
the army of Assyria went after the army of Akkad as far as Gablini (on the Middle Euphrates) but they
(the king of Assyria and the king of Egypt) did not overtake the king of Akkad (so) they withdrew. In
the month Adar the army of Assyria and the army of Akkad did battle against one another at Madanu,
(a suburb) of Arraphu, and the army of Assyria retreated before the army of Akkad. They inflicted a
major defeat upon them and drove them (back) to the Zab River. They captured their chariots and horses
and plundered them extensively (...)
Ø[The 11th year: The king] of Akkad mustered his army (...) The king of Assyria and his army encamped
against the army of the king of Akkad which was stationed in Takrit and did battle against them for 10
days. But he (the king of Assyria) did not capture the city. (Instead) the army of the king of Akkad,
which had been stationed in the fortress, inflicted a major defeat upon Assyria. The king of Assyria and
his army [turned] and went home. In the month Marchesvan (November 615 BCE) the Medes went
down to Arraphu (...)
ØThe 12th year: In the month Ab (August 614 BCE) the Medes, after they had marched against Nineveh
(...) [the king of A]kkad and his army, who had gone to help the Medes, did not reach the battle (in
time). (...) [The king of Akka]d and C[yax]ares (the king of the Medes) met one another by the city
(and) together they made an entente cordiale (...)
Ø[The 13th year: In the month Iyya]r (May 613 BCE) the Suheans rebelled against the king of Akkad
and became belligerent (...)
Ø[The 14th year]: The king of Akkad mustered his army (...) they subjected the city (Nineveh) to a heavy
siege. [On the Nth day] of the month Ab (...) they (the king of Akkad and the king of the Medes)
inflicted a major [defeat upon a g]reat [people]. A that time (August 612 BCE) Sin-šar-iškun, king of
Assyria [died] (...) They carried off the vast booty of the city and the temple (and) [turned] the city into a
ruin heap (...) On the 20th day of the month Elul (September) Cyaxares and his army went home. After
he had gone the king of Akkad (...)
ØThe 15th year: In the month Tam[muz the ki]ng of Akkad (...) In the mon[th Marchesva]n (November
611 BCE) the king of Akkad took the lead of his army (personally) and [marched] against Ruggilitu
(near Til-Barsip). He did battle against the city and on the 28th day of the Mont Marchesvan captured it
(... He) did not [leav]e a single man (alive) [...] He went [home].
ØThe 16th year: In the month Iyyar (May 610 BCE) the king of Akkad mustered his army and marched
to Assyria. From [the month ...] until the month Marchesvan he marched about victoriously in Assyria.
In the month Marchesvan (November) the Umman-manda (the Medes) [who] had come [to hel]p the king
of Akkad put their armies together and marched to Harran [against Aššur-uball]iṭ who had ascended the
throne in Assyria. Fear of the enemy overcame Aššur-uballiṭ and the army of Eg[ypt which] had came [to
help him] and they aban[doned] the city [...] they crossed. The king of Akkad reached Harran and [...]
he captured the city. He carried off the vast booty of the city and the temple. In the month Adar (March
609 BCE) the king of Akkad left their [...] He went home. The Umman-manda (Median king), who
had come to help the king of Akkad, withdrew.
Ø[The 17th year]: In the month Tammuz (July 609 BCE) Aššur-uballiṭ, king of Assyria, the large army
of Egypt [...] crossed the river (Euphrates) and marched against Harran to conquer (it). [...] they (the
king of Assyria and the king of Egypt) [capture]d (it). They defeated the garrison which the king of
Akkad had stationed inside. When they had defeated (it) they encamped against Harran. Until the
month Elul (September 609 BCE) they did battle against the city but achieved nothing. (However) they
did not withdraw. The king of Akkad went to help his army (led by the prince) and [...] he went up [to]
Izalla and the numerous cities in the mountains [...] he set fire to their [...]
ØThe 18th year of Nabopolassar: In the month Elul (September 608 BCE) the king of Akkad mustered
his army and following (...)
ØThe 19th year: In the month Siwan (June 607 BCE) the king of Akkad mustered his army and
Nebuchadnezzar, his eldest son the crown prince, mustered his army. They marched to the mountains of
(...) The king of Akkad left the prince and his army there while he returned to Babylon in the month
72 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
Tammuz (July). After he had gone did battle against the [fortresses], captured them, [set them on fire],
(and) plundered the mountains extensively. He conquered all the mountains as far as the district of (...)
ØThe 20th year: The army of Egypt marched against the garrison at Kimuhu which the king of Akkad had
stationed inside. They (the Egyptians) laid siege to the city for 4 months, captured (it), (and) defeated the
garrison of the king of Akkad. In the month Tishri (October 606 BCE) the king of Akkad mustered
his army, marched along the bank of the Euphrates, and pitched camp in Quramatu which is on the bank
of the Euphrates. He had his army cross the Euphrates and they (the king and the prince of Akkad)
captured Shunadiru, Elammu, and Dahammu, cities of Syria, (and) plundered them. In the month
Shebat (February 605) the king of Akkad went home. The army of Egypt, which was in Carchemish,
crossed the Euphrates and marched against the army of Akkad which was camped in Quramatu. They
(the Egyptians) pushed the army of Akkad back so they (the king and the prince of Akkad) withdrew.
ØThe 21st year: The king of Akkad stayed home (while) Nebuchadnezzar, his eldest son the crown prince,
mustered the army of Akkad. He took his army’s lead and marched to Carchemish which is on the bank
of the Euphrates. He crossed the river [to encounter the army of Egypt] which was encamped at
Carchemish [...] They did battle together. The army of Egypt retreated before. He inflicted a [defeat] upon
them (and) finished them completely. In the district of Hamath the army of Akkad overtook the
remainder of the army of [Egypt which] managed to escape [from] the defeat and which was not overcome.
They (the king and the prince of Akkad) inflicted a defeat upon them (the Egyptians, so that) a single
man [did not return] home. At that time Nebuchadnezzar conquered all of Ha[ma]th. For 21 years
Nabopolassar ruled Babylon. On the 8th day of the month Ab he died (14 August 605 BCE). In the
month Elul Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon and on the 1st day of the month Elul (5 September) he
ascended the royal throne in Babylon. In (his) accession year Nebuchadnezzar returned to Hattu (...)
Berosus, a priest of Bel Marduk and astronomer who wrote in the Koine Greek
language, gives some additional information. Using ancient Babylonian records and texts
that are lost to us, he published the Babyloniaca (History of Babylonia) in 3 books (c. 290-278).
Josephus quoted some extracts: I will quote Berosus' own words, which are as follows: His father
Nabopalassar, hearing of the defection of the satrap in charge of Egypt, Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, and
being himself unequal to the fatigues of a campaign, committed part of his army to his son Nabuchodonosor,
still in the prime of the life, and sent him against the rebel. Nabuchodonosor engaged and defeated the latter
in a pitched battle and replaced the district under Babylonian rule. Meanwhile, as it happened, his father
Nabopalassar sickened and died in the city of Babylon, after a reign of 21 years. Being informed ere long of
his father’s death, Nabuchodonosor settled the affairs of Egypt and the other countries. The prisoners —
Jews, Phoenicians, Syrians, and those of Egyptian nationality— were consigned to some friends, with orders
to conduct them to Babylonia, along with the heavy troops and the rest of the spoils; while he himself, with a
small escort, pushed across the desert of Babylon (Against Apion I:133-137). Combining all the data
gives the following chain of events: after the destruction of Nineveh (August 612 BCE)
Nabopolassar appointed his young son Nebuchadnezzar (likely c. 20 years old) as Crown
Prince (at that same time the king of Assyria, Sin-šar-iškun, died); after the fall of Harran
(October 609 BCE) the king of Assyria, Aššur-uballiṭ, disappeared (and died), Nabopolassar
appointed the defeated Egyptian king (Necho II) as satrap of Egypt but the latter rebelled a
few years later (June 606 BCE); finally Nebuchadnezzar inflicted a defeat upon the
Egyptians at Carchemish and finished them off completely (August 605 BCE).
Nebuchadnezzar II ascended the royal throne in Babylon on 5 September 605 BCE. This
sequence of events has consequences on the Judean chronology because the Judean rulers
(Oct. 609-Oct. 539) fell under the authority of Babylon for 70 years (Jr 25:11-12, 29:10),
first through the satrap of Egypt Necho II (609-605) and directly afterwards. Consequently
the accession of Nebuchadnezzar, Babylonian year 0, is reckoned as year 1 (Jr 25:1, 46:2)
according to the Egyptian reckoning, that explains why Jerusalem was destroyed in the 19th
year of Nebuchadnezzar (Jr 52:12) which was in fact his 18th (Jr 52:29).
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 73
BCE [A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F]
610 1 X 1 15 (0) 29 [A] Psammetichus I, king of Egypt
2 XI 54 [B] Aššur-uballiṭ II, king of Assyria
3 XII
4 I [C] Nabopolassar, king of Babylonia
2 16 (1) 30
5 II [D] Nebuchadnezzar II, Crown Prince
6 III [E] Josiah, king of Judah (2Ki 22:1)
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII
11 VIII
12 IX
609 1 X
2 XI 1 [A] Necho II, king of Egypt
3 XII
4 I 3 17 (2) 31
5 II
6 III Battle of Megiddo (2Ki 23:29-30)
7 IV 0 [E] Jehoachaz (2ki 23:31-32)
8 V
9 VI End of Assyrian Empire
10 VII 0 1 [A] Necho II, satrap of Egypt
11 VIII
12 IX [E] Jehoiakim (2ki 23:34-36)
608 1 X [F] 70-year period (Jr 25:11-12; 29:10)
2 XI 2 (70 = October 609 – October 539)
3 XII
4 I 18 (3) 1
5 II
6 III
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 2
11 VIII
12 IX
607 1 X
2 XI 3
3 XII
4 I 19 (4) 2
5 II
6 III
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 3
11 VIII
12 IX
606 1 X
2 XI 4
3 XII
4 I 20 (5) 3
5 II
6 III
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 4
11 VIII
12 IX
605 1 X
2 XI 5
3 XII
4 I 21 (6) 4
5 II
6 III
7 IV
8 V Battle of Carchemish (Jr 46:2)
9 VI 0 1 [C] Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylonia
10 VII 5
11 VIII [D] Egyptian reckoning (2Ki 25:1)
74 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
The double counting system of the years of rule was used until the destruction of the
temple, thus the 8th year of Nebuchadnezzar II (2Ki 24:12), according to the Egyptian
reckoning, was also his 7th year of reign (Jr 52:28) according to the Babylonian reckoning (in
598 BCE). There was no ambiguity because the 10th year of Zedekiah (in 588 BCE) was also
the 18th year (Egyptian reckoning) of Nebuchadnezzar II (Jr 32:1). The chronological data
in the Bible are consequently extremely accurate and reliable (see Dating the Biblical
Chronology), in addition, several long period of time serve to anchor this chronology. For
example the Babylonian world domination of that era lasted exactly 70 years (Jr 25:11-12;
29:10; Is 23:13-17), it started in the beginning of the kingdom of Jehoiakim (Jr 27:1-7), in
October 609 BCE, and ended in October 539 BCE when Cyrus subdued all nations,
including Babylon, and freed the Jews (Is 45:1-7). The period of 390 years (Ezk 4:4-6) from
the 1st year of Rehoboam to the 11th of Zedekiah is indeed 390 years186. This period begins
when the 40-year reign of Solomon (1 Kings 11:42) broke apart in two rival entities: Israel
and Judah. This revolt (in October 977 BCE), considered as a major fault (1Ki 12:19),
ended after the destruction of the Temple when the Jews of the exile (Jr 25:8-12) arrived
into Babylon around October 587 BCE. A 70-year period of desolation (Dn 9:6), without
worship at the Temple (Mt 24:15), began in October 587 BCE and ended in October 517
BCE when the worship at the Temple restarted after the 4th year of Darius I (Zk 7:1-7).
BCE [A] [B] [C] [D] [E]
977 1 X 35 2 39 [A] Sheshonq I, King of Egypt (1Ki 11:40)
2 XI 4 [B] Aššur-reš-iši II, King of Assyria
3 XII
4 I [C] Nabû-mukîn-apli, King of Babylonia
36 3 40
5 II [D] Solomon, King of Judah (1Ki 11:42)
6 III
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 0 1 [D] Rehoboam, King of Judah (1Ki 14:20)
11 VIII
12 IX [1] [E] Jeroboam, King of Israel (1Ki 14:20)
976 1 X [E] 390-year period (Ezk 4:5-6)
2 XI 5 (390 = October 977 – October 587)
3 XII
4 I 37 4 1
5 II
6 III
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII 2
11 VIII
12 IX [2]

BCE [A] [B] [C] [D] [E]


587 1 X 17 18 10 [A] Hophra (Apries), King of Egypt (Jr 44:30)
2 XI 2 [390] [B] Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylonia
3 XII
4 I
[C] Nebuchadnezzar II (Egyptian reckoning)
18 19 11
5 II [D] Zedekiah, King of Judah (Jr 39:2-7)
6 III
7 IV [E] The Temple is burnt 40-year period (Ezk 4:6)187
8 V
9 VI {40} (40 = October 627 – October 587)
10 VII [1] [E] 70-year period of desolation (Dn 9:2; Zk 7:1-7)
11 VIII
12 IX (70 = October 587 – October 517)
586 1 X
2 XI 3
3 XII
186 390 = 17 + 3 + 41 + (25 – 2) + 8 + (7 – 1) + 40 + 29 + 52 + 16 + 16 + 29 + 55 + 2 + 31 + 11 + 11.
187 The second period of 40 years is from the 13th year of Josiah (Jr 25:3,11) in 627 to the destruction of the Temple in 587.
ASSYRIAN AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGIES ARE THEY RELIABLE? 75
In conclusion, a correct review of Babylonian chronology, Assyrian, Egyptian and
Israelite, based on a chronology anchored on dates validated through astronomy, shows a
perfect agreement between the four chronologies, if are taken into account the co-
regencies, what mainstream historians refuse to do as well as the Persian chronology (co-
regency between Darius I and Xerxes) coming from the Bible (see below). This approach
always leads to the conclusion that biblical events are theological and mythical.
BCE [A] [B]
486 10 VII 36 10 [A] Darius I, Persian King of all lands
11 VIII
12 IX [B] Xerxes I, Persian Coregent of all lands
485 1 X [0] [A] Xerxes I, Persian King of all lands
2 XI
3 XII
4 I 11 1 [B] Xerxes I as new king
5 II
6 III Plot against Xerxes (Est 2:21-23)
7 IV
8 V 0 [B] Bel-šimânni, Babylonian king of all lands
9 VI 0 [B] Šamaš-erîba, Babylonian king of all lands
10 VII
11 VIII
12 IX
484 1 X
2 XI
3 XII
4 I 12 Someone cast Pur (Est 3:7; Ezr 4:6)
5 II
6 III Mordecai is appointed as vizier (Est 8:9)
7 IV
8 V
9 VI
10 VII
11 VIII
12 IX
483 1 X
2 XI
3 XII Festival of Purim established (Est 9:1-32)
XIIb
4 I 13 Mordecai is dead (Est 10:2)
5 II
6 III

Edwin R. Thiele was the first scholar to pass (in 1943) his PhD the goal of which was
to determine a scientific biblical chronology. All his thesis was based on the following
hypothesis: given that Ahab is mentioned in the Kurk Stele which records the Assyrian
advance into Syria/Palestine at the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BCE and Jehu is mentioned on
the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III paying tribute in 841 BCE, and that these two events
are securely dated by Assyrian chronology as 12 years apart, consequently Ahab might have
fought the Assyrians in his last year and Jehu paid tribute in his first year. Despite the
various criticisms Thiele's methodological treatment remains today the typical starting point
of scholarly treatments of the subject, and his PhD thesis, published in his book: The
Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, is considered to have established the date of the
division of the Israelite kingdom. The work of Thiele and those who followed in his steps
has achieved acceptance across a wider spectrum than that of any comparable chronology,
so that Assyriologist D. J. Wiseman, biblical scholar and archaeologist (he was Professor of
Assyriology at the University of London) wrote: The chronology most widely accepted today is one
based on the meticulous study by Thiele, and, more recently, Leslie McFall, former lecturer in
Hebrew and Old Testament and now researcher in Biblical Studies: Thiele’s chronology is fast
becoming the consensus view among Old Testament scholars, if it has not already reached that point.
Contrary to appearances the purpose of these biblical scholars is not to establish a reliable
76 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
chronology of the Bible but to discredit it. For example, in his book: Secrets of the Times. Myth
and History in Biblical Chronology, the biblical scholar Jeremy Hugues explained how he
proceeded to achieve his goal. This book is a revised version of his doctoral thesis which
was submitted to the Faculty of Oriental Studies of Oxford University in 1986. He wrote188:
841 BC (Nisan) is in fact the date of a key synchronism between Assyrian and Israelite chronology,
corresponding to the 18th year of the reign of Shalmaneser III, when the latter conducted an inconclusive
campaign against ‘Hazael of Aram’ and received tribute from various rulers including ‘Jehu the Omrite’.
Since Assyrian campaigns almost invariably began in the spring it is probable that Jehu’s payment of tribute
occurred in the late summer of 841 BC, in which case he must presumably have come to the throne either
during or before the Israelite year 842 BC. This claim of Hugues is based on two prejudices
which are widely spread but wrong: Assyrian narratives are more accurate and reliable than
biblical narratives and the date 841 BCE marks the beginning of Hazael's reign (instead of
the end). The conclusion of Hugues reflects perfectly the frame of mind of mainstream
historians, he wrote: A major part of this study has been concerned with the task of reconstructing the
original pre-schematic chronology of the book of Kings and using this to construct a historical chronology of
the Israelite and Judean kingdoms (...) the chronology of Kings is historically inaccurate, but it is not
corrupt. The reason it is inaccurate is that the Biblical writers were more interested in chronological
schematism than in historical accuracy. Biblical chronology is essentially mythical (...) The mythical purpose
of chronological schematism is that it serves to express a belief that history is governed by a divine plan (...)
There are fundamentalist groups which see history as a succession of ‘dispensations’ or ages, and there are
others who believe that events are controlled by stars or planets, and that we are currently living in the age
‘age of Aquarius’. These are fringe beliefs which are not taken seriously by most people. The work of
Hugues was in fact an in-depth study, which was concerned with the task of demolishing
the original chronology of the book of Kings and using this to construct a fanciful
chronology of the Israelite and Judean kingdoms.
In my opinion, searching the truth must be the fundamental purpose of any honest
historian. “What is truth” Pilate said to Jesus (John 18:38). For historians, “truth” is based
on two main pillars: 1) an accurate chronology (Herodotus’ principle) anchored on absolute
dates and 2) reliable documents (Thucydides’ principle) coming from critical editions.
Unfortunately, not only mainstream historians refuse to anchor chronology thanks to some
astronomical dates, but those who do so are systematically victim of dishonest bullying. For
example, Hermann Gasche succeeded in dating the fall of Babylon in 1499 BCE by means
of several lunar eclipses but Cécile Michel, President of the International Association for
Assyriology (2014) claimed that the darkening of the sun mentioned during the Puzur-Ištar
eponym, the year just after the birth of Šamšî-Adad I, could be interpreted as a solar
eclipse189. However, there was no total solar eclipse visible in Assyria (between Ashur and
Nineveh) over the period 1800-1700 BCE, but only two partial eclipses slightly visible190.
Worse, the term used [n]a-ah-du-ur, means an eclipse in a metaphorical way and is different
from the usual antalûm used in Mari191. The comments in the list of eponyms have been
added later because Šamšî-Adad I was initially an Amorite king who became part of the
Assyrian dynasty only at the end of his glorious reign. Thus for the Assyrian copyist of that
time, the birth of Šamšî-Adad I actually marked the end or the eclipse of the authentic
Assyrian dynasty and thus had nothing to do with astronomy.
188 J.HUGUES – Secrets of the Times. Myth and History in Biblical Chronology
in: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 66 (J1990), pp. 183-184,264-266.
189 C. MICHEL, P. ROCHER – La chronologie du IIe millénaire revue à l'ombre d'une éclipse de soleil

in: Jaarbericht (...) Ex Oriente Lux N° 35/36 (1997-2000) Chicago pp. 111-126.
190 On October 10, 1737 BCE (of magnitude 0.92) and that on September 8, 1791 BCE (of magnitude 0.92)
191 As the sentence: on the 26th day of the month Sivan, in the 7th year [of Simbar-šipak], the day turned to night, did not describe a solar

eclipse but there was no solar eclipse on 2 July 1020 BCE and solar eclipses occur only on the last day of month (not 26th).
Annex
78 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
Historical context of Jonah's mission
Abstract. For mainstream historians as well as prominent archaeologists, the book of Jonah is evidently
a fairy-tale. Ironically, despite they claim that "chronology is the backbone of history" these eminent
specialists still use, with blind faith, the biblical chronology calculated by Thiele (1951), which is erroneous
of 47 years in 930 BCE. Consequently, the historical context of Jonah's mission is inserted in a mythical
past, which becomes completely absurd. In contrast, if one use an accurate chronology, based on absolute
dates, this historical context is easy to understand: In 876 BCE, Assurnasirpal II began a westward
expansion in order to access the Mediterranean and required Tyre to pay a heavy tribute causing the flight
from Tyre of Queen Elissa who founded Carthage (in 870 BCE). However a greater threat yet appeared
with Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria in 859 BCE, when he led his army against an allied army of 11
kings at Qarqar in 853 BCE and defeated them definitively in 841 BCE. As a result, it is easy to
understand that the next conquest on the list was the kingdom of Israel, thus Jonah’s mission was to stop
the powerful Assyrian imperialism, what he did successfully.
According to mainstream historians, who exclusively use the chronology of Thiele,
Jonah's mission started when Jeroboam II became king in 793 BCE during the reign of
Adad-nîrârî II (912-891). This statement contradicts the Bible twice because: 1) Adad-nîrârî
was king of Assyria, not king of Nineveh, and 2) during the years 793-790 he led several
military campaigns to Media192 and consequently was far from Nineveh. What's really
amazing is that Thiele passed his dissertation to verify the biblical chronology. Chapter 1 of
his thesis begins193: Chronology is the backbone of history. Absolute chronology is the fixed central core
around which the events of the nation [i.e. Israel] must be grouped before they may assume their exact
positions in history and before their mutual relationships may be properly understood. Without exact
chronology there can be no exact history. Until a correct chronology of a nation has been established, the
events of that nation cannot be correctly integrated into the events of the neighboring states. If history is to be
a true and exact science, then it is of fundamental importance to construct a sound chronological framework
about which may be fitted the events of states and the international world. The traditional date of 814
BCE for the foundation of Carthage, despite there are no archaeological remains and
numerous historical discordant testimonies, is accepted by historians for many years
without notable controversy. However, some recent discoveries (2007) have shown that the
Phoenician oldest layer should be dated 900-750. Second, the only historian who is reliable
on the chronology of Carthage is Menander of Ephesus (because he used the annals of
Tyre) quoted by Flavius Josephus and according to his chronological data, unmodified by
modern speculations, the founding of Carthage goes back to 870 BCE. According to a
widely spread tradition, Carthage was founded by Queen Elissa, then known as Dido, who
fled Tyre following the murder of her husband in an attempt by her younger brother, the
King of Tyre, to bolster his own power. According to Justinus' account (History XVIII:4-
6), Princess Elissa was the daughter of King Mattan I (906-877). When he died, the throne
was jointly bequeathed to her and her brother, Pygmalion. She married her uncle Acherbas
[Zakarbaal] High Priest of Melqart, a man with both authority and wealth comparable to the
king. The Nora Stone, considered one of the oldest Phoenician inscription (found in
Sardinia, dated c. 890-840 by epigraphy), certifies this episode. Moreover Josephus gives the
age and length of reign for all kings, from Hiram (1025-991) to Pygmalion (877-830),
indicating that a 143 years period separated the foundation of the Temple in the 12th year of
Hiram, which was also the 4th of Solomon (1017-977), and the founding of Carthage in the
192 L.R. SIDDALL – The Reign of Adad-nîrârî III

Leiden 2013, Ed. Brill, pp. 44-45.


193 E.R. THIELE – The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings

Grand Rapids 1983 Ed. The Zondervan Corporation p. 33.


80 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
7th year of Pygmalion, or 870 BCE (Against Apion I:106-127; Jewish Antiquities VIII:141-
149, 316-324). In addition, Israelite King Ahab (874-853) who married Jezebel (1Ki 16:29-
31), daughter of Ithobaal (888-856), was actually a contemporary of this king of Tyre.
The study of the history of Carthage is often problematic. Due to the subjugation of
the civilization by the Romans at the end of the Third Punic War in 146 BCE, very few
Carthaginian historical primary sources survive. There are a few ancient translations of
Punic texts into Greek and Latin, as well as inscriptions on monuments and buildings
discovered in North Africa. However, the majority of available primary source material
about Carthaginian civilization was written by Greek and Roman historians, such as Livy,
Polybius, Appian, Cornelius Nepos, Silius Italicus, Plutarch and Dio Cassius. These authors
came from cultures which were nearly always in competition, and often in conflict, with
Carthage. The Greeks contested with Carthage for Sicily, for instance, and the Romans
fought the Punic Wars against Carthage. Inevitably the accounts of Carthage written by
outsiders include significant bias. Recent excavation of ancient Carthaginian sites has
brought much more primary material to light. Some of these finds contradict or confirm
aspects of the traditional picture of Carthage, but much of the material is still ambiguous.
Despite these archaeological (no remains) and historical (discordant testimonies)
difficulties, the date of 814 BCE is generally accepted for the founding of Carthage194. It is
mainly based on two arguments: the oldest archaeological finds of the site are dated over a
period 750-700 (according to pottery) and the historical data which are the most frequent
and closest to the previous period are those of Timaeus of Sicily (345-250) who proposed
the date of 814 BCE. Ironically these two arguments are wrong because some recent
discoveries have shown (published in 2007) that the Phoenician oldest layer should be dated
on the period 900-750195 . Second, the only historian who is reliable on the chronology of
Carthage is Menander of Ephesus (because he used the annals of Tyre), quoted by Flavius
Josephus, and according to his chronological data, unmodified by modern speculations, the
founding of Carthage goes back to 870 BCE196. This date is controversial197 because of two
reasons that must be known: the oldest part of Carthage no longer exists since the Romans
had it disappear when they razed it in depth (only indirect evidences are available) and the
current calculations of historical data are based on Thiele's biblical chronology which is
about 45 years off198 near 900 BCE!
ARCHAEOLOGICAL DATING OF THE FOUNDATION OF CARTHAGE
Until a few years ago all we knew of ancient Carthage was a number of necropolises
and an enigmatic deposit of offerings (the tophet, situated at Salammbô). Until 1983 there
were even doubts as to the exact location of the city, since no traces prior to 400 BCE were
known. The German excavations of 1983 and 1991 finally put an end to the arguments that
placed the location of the earliest settlement founded by Elissa at Byrsa. According to
Strabo: the middle of the city was the acropolis, which they called Byrsa (Geography XVII:3:14). It
was confirmed that the conquest of the city by Scipio in 146 BCE, whose armies razed the
town to the ground, and the sackings by Augustus in 29 BCE in order to raise the Colonia
194 M.G. AMADASI GUZZO – Carthage

in: Que sais-je ? 340 (2007), Éd. Presses Universitaires de France pp. 11-20.
195 F. HORN – Espagne les dernières découvertes phéniciennes

in: Les dossiers d'archéologie HS n°13 (novembre 2007) pp. 60-69.


196 F. LENORMAND – The Founding of Carthage (872 B.C.)

in: The World's Great Events Vol 1 Ancient B.C 4004 - AD70 (1908, E. Singleton), pp. 79-83.
197 M. GRAS, P. ROUILLARD, J. TEIXIDOR – L'univers phénicien

Paris 1989 Éd. Arthaud pp. 198-238.


198 M.C. TETLEY – The Reconstructed Chronology of the Divided Kingdom

Winona 2005 Ed. Eisenbrauns pp. 178-186.


HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF JONAH'S MISSION 81
Concordia Iulia Cartago, must have removed some 100,000 m3 of rubble and ruins that
formed a layer of debris 3 to 10 m thick over the Punic city. The most ancient occupation
levels, lying at a depth of more than 5 meters under the Roman city and only 1.7 meters
above sea level, and directly over the sands of the beach, have yielded interesting traces of
dwellings with walls of sun-dried brick, streets and wells, forming a structure of large
isolated houses, separated by squares of gardens. The archaeological evidence suggests that
the earliest colony of the 8th to 7th centuries BCE was surrounded by a kind of ‘industrial
belt’ outside the walls, consisting of workshops and metalworkers’ furnaces, installations
devoted to working the murex to obtain dye, and to potters’ kilns. The archaeological
dating is approximate since it only gives a length of one or two centuries to a stratigraphic
layer. The main ways of dating are those which use: a written name of a well-known person
(as kings), type of potteries, carbon-14 and paleographic style of inscriptions. The
stratigraphy of Carthage gave four layers,
but recent excavations showed that the
hill of Byrsa would have been in a fifth
layer (Tanit 0). The find of Greek late
geometric ceramics in the first occupation
levels at Carthage, including, interestingly
for their antiquity, some proto-Corinthian
kotylai of the type known as ‘Aetos 666’
and Euboean cups decorated with
metopes, dates the earliest built structures
to 775-750. Other imports, like Cypriot
ceramics and a number of amphorae of an
Andalusian type, show that 8th-century
Carthage was a highly organized city,
maintaining regular trading contact with
Greece, Pithecusas and the Phoenician
colonies in southern Spain199.
Layer period Main objects in the layer
Tanit III 300-146 written steles in limestone
Tanit IIb 450-300 steles in limestone and stucco stoneware
Tanit IIa 600-450 urns and small thrones in stoneware
Tanit I 750-600 urns and betyles in stoneware
Tanit 0 900-750 Foundation of Carthage (hill of Byrsa)
The carbon-14 datings are extremely difficult as the remains of the fifth layer are
almost non-existent, but a few measures have recently (in 2008) traced back to a period of
835-800200. These recent discoveries prove that the earliest stratigraphic layer (Tanit 0), in
which was the foundation of Carthage, has to be dated 900-750. This dating is confirmed
thanks to the moment the Phoenicians settled on the east coast of Andalusia. Strabo wrote:
Again, the maritime supremacy of Minos is far-famed, and so are the voyages of the Phoenicians, who, a
short time after the Trojan War, explored the regions beyond the Pillars of Heracles [Gibraltar] and
founded cities both there and in the central parts of the Libyan sea-board (...) And, indeed, it is said that a
great many cities were founded by them along the whole sea-coast outside of Greece, and in some places in the
interior too (Geography I:3:2). There remains of Iberia the seaboard of Our Sea from the Pillars to the
Pyrenees Mountains (...) They say that the distance from Calpe, the mountain near the Pillars, to New
199 M.E. AUBET – The Phoenicians and the West
Cambridge 2001 Ed. Cambridge University Press pp. 218-226.
200 C. SAGONA – Beyond the Homeland: Markers in Phoenician Chronology

in: Ancient Near Eastern Studies Supplement 28 (2008) pp. 247,379.


82 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
Carthage is 2200 stadia (...) Here also, in many places, there are mines of gold and other metals. The first
city on this coastline is Malaca, which is as far distant from Calpe as Gades is; it is now an emporium for
the Nomads on the opposite coast, and it also has great establishments for salting fish. Some regard Malaca
as identical with Maenaca, which, as we have been taught, lies farthest of the Phocaean cities in the west; but
this is not true. On the contrary, the city of Maenaca is farther away from Calpe, and is now in ruins
(though it still preserves the traces of a Greek city), whereas Malaca (Malaga) is nearer, and bears the
stamp of a Phoenician city. Next thereafter comes the city of the Exitanians (Sexi in Almuñecar), after
which the salted fish take their trade name. After this city comes Abdera (Adra), which is itself a place
founded by the Phoenicians (Geography III:4:1-3).
These Phoenician colonies in southern Spain —dated 770-760 for the oldest ones
(epoch of the oldest layer in Carthage), only a few years ago— have been dated recently to
900 BCE201. For example, a short Phoenician inscription (of four letters) on a fragment of
an amphora, found in Huelva, dated the 9th century BCE, and several Greek ceramics that
belong to Subprotogeometric III Eubean (850-750), involve (now) that the oldest layer in
Huelva was dated 900-750202. Thanks to radiometric sequences for Phoenician-Punic world
in the Peninsula, several significant features stand out. For a start, it should be possible to
place the beginnings of Phoenician colonization in the Malaga-Algorrobo region as early as
the 9th century BCE, more exactly in -865 +/- 30 (with a coefficient of 93% for Phoenicians
settling in Morro in the earliest Phoenician level, trench VIII)203.
In Andalusia, a significant feature must be emphasized: in many of
the cremation burials at Almuñecar and in one burial found in Lagos, the
ashes are placed in costly urns of alabaster or marble, made in Egypt (the
epoch of their arrival in Spain is unknown but it had to be few time after
their making). The fact is that in Almuñecar some of them are adorned
with inscriptions and emblems of the pharaohs of the 22nd dynasty, such as
Osorkon II (909-865), Takelot II (865-840) and Shoshenq III (840-800). It
is interesting to notice that the oldest urn of alabaster (right picture) is
dated before 865 BCE204, according the name of the pharaoh.
The founding of Kition agrees with the previous date. The island of Cyprus
maintained contacts with Phoenicia since the second half of the 11th century BCE, as a few
Phoenician finds from Palaeopaphos reveal205. Some of the inscriptions found on the island
suggest a possible Tyrian presence since the 10th century BCE and perhaps some kind of
tutelage in the eastern part of the island. These sporadic relations were transformed
between the 9th century and 600 BCE into direct settlement of a Phoenician population in
the southeast of the island, so that in practice the territory was incorporated into the
kingdom of Tyre-Sidon. The territorial expansion of Tyre toward the west may likely date
around the second part of the 9th century BCE, with the founding of Kition and the
annexation of a part of southeast Cyprus. Moreover, Kition is the first Phoenician overseas
colony confirmed by chronology206.
It is therefore reasonable to conclude that, since the oldest Phoenician level is dated
865 BCE +/- 30, the founding of Carthage must be dated the same.
201 N.H. DEMAND – The Mediterranean Context of Early Greek History

Indiana 2011 Ed. Wiley-Blackwell pp. 221-223.


202 F. HORN – Espagne les dernières découvertes phéniciennes

in: Les dossiers d'archéologie HS n°13 (novembre 2007) pp. 62-63.


203 M.E. AUBET – The Phoenicians and the West

Cambridge 2001 Ed. Cambridge University Press pp. 329-337, 372-381.


204 The "conventional chronology" is too low by 45 years because it is calibrated on the (wrong) biblical chronology of Thiele.
205 O. NEGBI – Early Phoenician Presence in the Mediterranean Islands: A Reappraisal

in: American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 96:4 (October 1992), pp. 599-615.
206 M.E. AUBET – The Phoenicians and the West pp. 51-54.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF JONAH'S MISSION 83
HISTORICAL DATING OF THE FOUNDATION OF CARTHAGE
According to a widely spread tradition207, the city was founded by Queen Elissa
(Elisha? "my god is salvation"), then known as Dido, who fled Tyre following the murder
of her husband in an attempt by her younger brother, the King of Tyre, to bolster his own
power. Queen Elissa was a princess of Tyre who founded the city of Carthage. At its peak
her metropolis came to be called the "shining city", ruling 300 other cities around the
western Mediterranean and leading the Phoenician Punic world. Elissa was the Princess of
Tyre, married to the High Priest of the city, who was wealthy and enjoyed widespread
respect and power among the citizens. Details of her life are sketchy and confusing, but the
following can be deduced from various sources. According to Justinus' account (History
XVIII:4-6), Princess Elissa was the daughter of King Matten [Mattan I]. When he died, the
throne was jointly bequeathed to her and her brother, Pygmalion [Pumayyaton]. She
married her uncle Acherbas [Zakarbaal] High Priest of Melqart, a man with both authority
and wealth comparable to the king. Pygmalion was a tyrant, lover of both gold and intrigue,
and coveted the authority and fortune enjoyed by Acherbas. Pygmalion assassinated
Acherbas in the temple and managed to keep the misdeed concealed from his sister for a
long time, deceiving her with lies about her husband's death. At the same time, the people
of Tyre called for a single Sovereign, causing dissent within the royal family. After learning
the truth, Elissa fled Tyre with her husband's gold, and managed to trick the Tyrian ships
sent in pursuit of her fleet. When her ship was overtaken by the Tyrian ships, she
threatened to throw the gold overboard and let the would-be captors face the wrath of her
brother for failing in their mission. They opted to join her, and the extended fleet sailed on
towards the West. Elissa eventually sailed to Africa after a brief stop at Cyprus. She
requested land to establish a new city from the king of the Libyan tribe living near Byrsa
and called the place Qart-hadasht meaning "New city" in Phoenician.
The entire story of the founding of Carthage is quite coherent. Cato the Elder (234-
149) and Menander of Ephesus (c. 200 BCE) even knew its founding by Pygmalion's sister
(Elissa) and this point is in agreement with archaeological findings. The Nora Stone, for
example, considered the oldest Phoenician inscription yet found in Sardinia (dated the 9th
century BCE), certifies this episode since we read208:
Transcription Translation
1. btršš in Tarshish,
2. wgrš h’ and he was driven
3. bšrdn š in Sardenia.
4. lm h’ šl He is safe. Safe
5. m ṣb’ m is the crew [army] of
6. lkt nbn the Queen. Structure
7. š bn ngr which the herald has built
8. lpmy for Pumay
The translation of this text is debated, but Tarshish and Sardinia were areas inside the
Phoenicians zone of influence. In addition, the name Pumay is likely a hypocoristicon of
the theonym209 Pumay-yaton meaning "Pumay has given" in Phoenician, which is rendered
in the Greek tradition as Pygmalion. A king of Cyprus named Pumay-yaton (4th century
207 S. GSELL – Les phéniciens dans l'Afrique du Nord. Fondation de Carthage

in: Les conditions du développement historique – Les Temps primitifs, Paris 1913, Éd. Hachette pp. 359-523.
208 E. LIPINSKI – Itineraria Phoenicia

in: Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 127 (2004) Éd. Peeters pp. 234-260.
209 The name Baal of some kings of Tyre (in Assyrian annals) is likely to be a hypocoristicon of Baal-yaton "Baal has given".
84 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
BCE) is read Pygmalion in Diodorus of Sicily (Historical Library XIX:79:4). The name
Pygmalion (written in Phoenician) appears on a jewel (below) called "Medal of Carthage210 ",
dated around -700. The translation of this text is debated211:
Transcription Translation

1. l ’štr [dedicated] to Astarte


2. t lpgmlyn (that is) on Pygmalion
3. yd‘ mlk bn royal confident, son of
4. pdy ḥlṣ Paday, saved,
5. ’š ḥlṣ because she saved
6. pgmlyn Pygmalion

If the story of the founding of Carthage reported by former


historians seems to be accurate, the date they give is surprisingly
more dubious: from 1218 to 729 BCE, giving an average of -973 +/- 244, a value which is
close to the date from 960212 to 663213 BCE used by modern historians! In fact, the date of
814 BCE is usually chosen because, in the past (before 2001), highest archaeological datings
went back around 750 BCE, but this is no longer the case. In addition, the date of 814 BCE
is not based on historical synchronism. List of some historical datings:
Ø 1218 according to Philistus of Syracuse quoted by Eusebius (year 798 of Abraham).
Ø 1213 according to Eudoxus of Cnidus (Scolie on Euripides, Trojans, 220), who dated it on
year 803 of Abraham.
Ø 1184 according to Virgil. At the epoch of the Trojan War (Eneid I).
Ø 846 according to Livy, 700 years before its destruction (Periochæ LI:3).
Ø 828 according to Cicero, 75 years before Rome (On the Republic II:23).
Ø 825 according to Pompeius Trogus quoted by Justinus, 72 years before Rome (History
XVIII:6:9).
Ø 818 according to Velleius Paterculus, 65 years before Rome (Roman History I:6).
Ø 814 according to Timaeus of Sicily quoted by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 38 years
before the 1st Olympiad, (Roman Antiquities I:74:1).
Ø 752 according to Marcus Porcius Cato quoted by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 432 years
after the Trojan War (Roman Antiquities I:74:2).
Ø 748 according to Lucius Cincius quoted by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 1st year of the 8th
Olympiad (Roman Antiquities I:74:1).
Ø 746 according to Cicero, 600 years before its destruction (On the Republic I:3).
Ø 729 according to Quintus Fabius quoted by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 4th year of the
12th Olympiad (Roman Antiquities I:74:1).
It is interesting to know that Timaeus was highly criticized by other historians,
especially by Polybius (General History II:28). Timaeus was a bookworm without military
experience or personal knowledge of the places he described. The most serious charge
against Timaeus is that he wilfully distorted the truth, when influenced by personal
considerations. Cicero, who was a diligent reader of Timaeus, expresses a far more
favourable opinion, specially commending his copiousness of matter and variety of
210 M. GRAS, P. ROUILLARD, J. TEIXIDOR – L'univers phénicien
Paris 1989 Éd. Arthaud pp. 158-165.
211 E. LIPINSKI – Dieux et déesses de l'univers phénicien et punique

in: Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 64, 1995, Éd. Peeters pp. 297-306.
212 L. GALIBERT – De l'Algérie ancienne et moderne

Paris 1843 Éd. Furne et Cie p. 23.


213 É. FRÉZOULS – Une nouvelle hypothèse sur la fondation de Carthage

in: Bulletin de correspondance hellénique Volume 79, 1955, pp. 153-176.


HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF JONAH'S MISSION 85
expression. Timaeus was one of the chief authorities used by Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus,
Diodorus Siculus and Plutarch. The date 814 BCE given by Timaeus is thus highly
objectionable since the historical data of this historian are not very reliable and not based
on any serious benchmark. In fact, before the first Olympiad (in 776 BCE) historians had
no timetable yet for dating events.
Some historians have provided synchronisms with the founding of Carthage that can
be dated. Velleius Paterculus, for example, states that the founding of Carthage coincided
with Lycurgus (Roman History I:6), the famous king of Sparta who reigned 159 years
before the Olympics (884 BCE), according to Eratosthenes, but 130 years before King
Theopompe (720-675), according to Plutarch (Life of Lycurgus §IX). According to Tatian,
Lycurgus legislated 100 years before the Olympics, or 876 BCE (Discourses to Greeks
XLI). Likewise, Thucydides (The Peloponnesian War VI:2) mentions Carthage when the
Greeks arrived in Sicily, three centuries after the Trojan War, or 884 (= 1184 - 300). Strabo
wrote (Geography III:2:14): The Phoenicians, I say, were the informants of Homer214; and these people
occupied the best of Iberia and Libya before the age of Homer, and continued to be masters of those regions
until the Romans broke up their empire. The wealth of Iberia is further evidenced by the following facts: the
Carthaginians who, along with Barcas, made a campaign against Iberia found the people in Turdetania, as
the historians tell us, using silver feeding-troughs and wine-jars. And one might assume that it was from
their great prosperity that the people there got the additional name of "Macraeones," and particularly the
chieftains; and this is why Anacreon said as follows: "I, for my part, should neither wish the horn of
Amaltheia, nor to be king of Tartessus for one 150 years"; and why Herodotus recorded even the name of
the king, whom he called Arganthonius. For one might either take the phrase of Anacreon literally or as
meaning "a time equal to the king's," or else in a more general way, "nor the king of Tartessus for a long
time." Some, however, call Tartessus the Carteia of to‑day. The information from Strabo could be
correct because it is written (Odyssey XIV:285-295): “There then I stayed 7 years, and much
wealth did I gather among the Egyptians, for all men gave me gifts. But when the 8th circling year was come,
then there came a man of Phoenicia, well versed in guile, a greedy knave, who had already wrought much evil
among men. He prevailed upon me by his cunning, and took me with him, until we reached Phoenicia, where
lay his house and his possessions. There I remained with him for a full year. But when at length the months
and the days were being brought to fulfilment, as the year rolled round and the seasons came on, he set me on
a seafaring ship bound for Libya [toward Carthage]. According to Herodotus (The Histories
IV:53), Homer lived 400 years before him, i.e. around -850. To sum up, the founding of
Carthage was situated, thanks to some dated synchronisms, when:
Ø after 884 according to Thucydides, when the Greeks arrived in Sicily, three centuries after
the Trojan War (in 1184 BCE) (The Peloponnesian War VI:2).
Ø around 876, according to Velleius Paterculus, when Lycurgus lived (Roman History I:6)
and according to Tatian, when he legislated 100 years before the Olympics (Discourses to
Greeks XLI).
Ø before 860 according to Herodotus, when the Phoenicians settled on the Mediterranean
coast, 5 generations before the Greek colonization, which started c. 700 BCE (The
Histories II:44;V:46;VI:47), and 3 generations equal 100 years (The Histories II:142).
Ø before 850 according to Strabo, when Phoenicians occupied Libya before Homer died
(Geography III:2:14). Homer lived 400 years before Herodotus (The Histories IV:53).
The dates of the founding of Carthage which come from synchronisms are within a
fairly narrow margin: 867 BCE +/- 17. This small difference proves that these historians
were aware approximately when this event occurred. However, none of them give a precise
length related to a king of Tyre, proving that they were unable to consult the archives of
214 The famous story of Ulysses could have been inspired by Elissa, Queen of Tyre.
86 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
this famous city. Even Herodotus obtained, by consulting the priests of Tyre, only one
imprecise figure: Wishing to get clear information about this matter where it was possible so to do, I took
ship for Tyre in Phoenicia, where I had learned by inquiry that there was a holy temple of Heracles (Tyrian
god Melkart). There I saw it, richly equipped with many other offerings, besides two pillars, one of refined
gold, one of emerald: a great pillar that shone at night; and in conversation with the priests, I asked how
long it was since their temple was built. I found that their account did not tally with the belief of the Greeks,
either; for they said that the temple of the god was founded when Tyre first became a city, and that was 2300
years ago [2750 BCE]. At Tyre I saw yet another temple of the so-called Thasian Heracles (The
Histories II:44). These records (written in Phoenician) should exist, as evidenced by the
story of Wenamun. Indeed, in this report215, dated year 5 of Smendes (1090-1064),
Wenamun said he had been sent to Palestine and after leaving Tyre he met Zakarbaal, the
prince of Byblos. In this city, he negotiated with the boat captain who brought a journal roll
of his forefathers which was read out in his presence (Report of Wenamun II:9-11) to
prove the antiquity and legitimacy of his trade with Egypt.
After the capture of Tyre by Alexander the Great (332 BCE), the archives of the city
may have been transferred into Carthage the "New city [of Tyre]", and after the complete
destruction of Carthage (146 BCE) the archives of Tyre probably disappeared. Fortunately,
an ancient historian, Menander of Ephesus (c. 200 BCE), had access to these archives. The
exact title borne by Menander's lost work is not made clear by Josephus, who gives the
following descriptions when he cites this Greek historian: Menander also, one who translated the
Tyrian archives out of the dialect of the Phoenicians into the Greek language (Jewish Antiquities
VIII:144); Menander (...) when he wrote his Chronology, and translated the Archives of Tyre into the
Greek language (Jewish Antiquities IX:283); Menander wrote the Acts that were done both by the
Greeks and Barbarians, under every one of the Tyrian Kings (Against Apion I:116-117). Menander
of Ephesus was probably the only historian who consulted the archives of Tyre (Herodotus
just asked some priests).
Historian date Historian date
Homer (907-840) Diodorus Siculus 90-21
Herodotus 485-425 Virgil 70-19
Thucydides 460-395 Dionysius of Halicarnassus 60- 8
Philistus of Syracuse 432-356 Pompeius Trogus <0
Eudoxus of Cnidus 410-350 Titus Livius -59+17
Timaeus of Sicily 345-250 Strabo -64+24
Menander of Ephesus c. 200 Velleius Paterculus -19+31
Eratosthenes 276-194 Flavius Josephus 37+100
Destruction of Carthage -146 Silius Italicus 28+103
Polybius 200-118 Plutarch 46+120
Cicero 106-43 Appian 95+165
Cornelius Nepos 100-25 Dio Cassius 150+235
Josephus’s citations of Menander contain references to Shalmaneser (V),
Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon, kings of Assyria that are well known both from Biblical texts
and also from numerous Assyrian inscriptions. More important, however, for the question
of the historicity of Menander's texts is his mention of kings who were not so famous,
especially those for whom there had been no evidence outside Menander until fairly recent
times. Against Apion I:18 also mentions Pygmalion as a ruler of Tyre, relating that his sister
Dido (Queen of Carthage) fled from him in his 7th year, 155 years after the beginning of the
reign of Hiram I. A 9th-century BCE inscription found in Sardinia (Nora Stone) names

215 W.K. SIMPSON – The Report of Wenamon


in: The Literature of Ancient Egypt (2005) Ed. The American University in Cairo Press pp. 116-124.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF JONAH'S MISSION 87
Pygmalion (Pumay-[yaton]). In Jewish Antiquities IX:283-287 Menander, as cited by
Josephus, mentions Eluleus as refusing to pay a tribute to Sennacherib, whereupon the
Assyrians unsuccessfully besieged Tyre for five years. The conflict between Sennacherib and
"Luli", king of Tyre, is corroborated by at least three inscriptions of the Assyrian monarch.
Historians generally equate the name “Luli”, in Sennacherib’s Akkadian language, with the
Greek form Eluleus. These inscriptional evidences for lesser-known kings not mentioned in
the Hebrew Bible have therefore been taken as lending credence to Menander’s writings.
For each of them, the time frame that Menander assigns to them is in agreement with the
time assigned to their inscriptional evidence by modern historians.
Detailed quotations of Josephus thus allow the establishment of a chronology of the
kings of Tyre (Against Apion I:106-127; Jewish Antiquities VIII:141-149, 316-324). He
gives the age and length of reign for all kings, from Hiram to Pygmalion, indicating that a
143 years period separated the foundation of the Temple, in the 12th year of Hiram, and the
founding of Carthage, in the 7th year of Pygmalion. Modern authors establish the
chronology of the kings of Tyre216 [and of the Sidonians]217 , using the biblical chronology of
Thiele (which is erroneous of 47 years in 930 BCE)218 and not that of Josephus:
King of Tyre age reign reign King of Israel reign King of Assyria reign
length (Thiele)
Abibaal - - 989?-969 David 1010-970
Hiram I 53 34 969-935 Solomon 970-930
year 12 of Hiram 957 year 4 of Solomon 966
Baal-Ezer I 43 17 935-918
Abdrastratos 39 9 918-909
Methusastartos 54 12 909-897
Astharymos 58 9 897-888
Phelles 50 8 m. -888
Ithobaal I 68* 32 888-856 Ahab 874-853
Baal-Ezer II 45 6 856-850 Shalmaneser III 859 -
Mattan I 32 29 850-821
(Baal-manzer) year 18 of Shalmaneser 841
(Elissa) ? - (835-?) -824
Pygmalion 58 47 821-774
year 7 of Pygmalion 814 (= 957 - 143)
Hiram II? (Sidon) 830-800?

While a few figures differ depending on the manuscripts, and even inside the books
of Josephus, this chronology seems authentic. It seems unlikely that Josephus could have
invented the names of all those kings and the length of their reigns. In addition, Ahab who
married Jezebel, daughter of Ithobaal (1Ki 16:29-31), was actually a contemporary of this
king219. Other synchronisms with the biblical chronology of Thiele220 don't work:
1) Hiram I who was a contemporary of Solomon and also of David (1Ki 5:1-18) no longer
fits in this reconstruction.
2) Temple's foundation is dated 4th year of Solomon (1Ki 6:1) in 966 BCE, not 957.
216 J. LIVER – The Chronology of Tyre at the Beginning of the First Millenium B.C.
in: Israel Exploration Journal 3 (1953) pp. 113-121.
E. LIPINSKI – On the Skirts of Canaan in the Iron Age
in: Orientalia Lovaniensia Alalecta 153 (2006) Leuven Ed. Peeters pp. 166-190.
217 P.J. BOYES – The King of Sidonians”: Phoenician Ideologies and the Myth of the Kingdom of Tye-Sidon

in: Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 365 (2012) pp. 33-44.
218 M.C. TETLEY – The Reconstructed Chronology of the Divided Kingdom

Winona 2005 Ed. Eisenbrauns pp. 178-186.


219 Most of the manuscripts have "48 years" instead of "68 years", but in this case Ithobaal would have been father at 9 years old.
220 E.R. THIELE – The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings

Grand Rapids 1983 Ed. The Zondervan Corporation pp. 8-13.


88 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
3) Baal-Manzer, identified to king Baal-Ezer II, has a name whose meaning escapes the
logic; in addition, the tribute dated in the 18th year of Shalmaneser III221 , or 841 BCE,
was actually paid 9 years after (not during) the reign of Baal-Ezer II.
4) A Phoenician inscription, dated 830-800 by epigraphy, mentions the king of Sidon at
that time: Hiram222 (II), instead of Pygmalion.
All these disagreements show that Thiele's chronology is wrong. The purpose of
Josephus was to give a chronology linking two important events known from his readers
(most historians of his time located the foundation of Carthage in the 9th century BCE).
Thus Josephus (Jewish War VI:269-270; 437-442) placed the foundation of the Temple in
1060 BCE and the beginning of David's reign in 1109 BCE. The durations of reigns used
by Josephus are identical to those of the biblical text except for Solomon's reign of 80 years
instead of 40 (Jewish Antiquities VIII:211). This error could explain the gap of around 40
years with the current data (1069/1020 instead of 1057/1013):
King of Judah Reign # King of Israel Reign # Reference
David 1057-1017 40 2Sa 5:4
Solomon 1017 - 977 40 1Ki 11:42
Rehoboam 977-960 17 Jeroboam I 10/977 - 22 1Ki 14:20-21
Abiyam 960-957 3 -05/955
Asa 957 - 41 Nadab 06/955-05/954 2 1Ki 15:10,25
Baasha 06/954-04/931 24 1Ki 15:28,33
Elah 05/931-04/930 2 1Ki 16:8
Zimri 05/930 7 d. 1Ki 16:10-16
Omri/ 06/930-05/919/ 12 1Ki 16:21-23
-916 [Tibni] [06/930-01/925] 6
Jehoshaphat 916 - 25 Ahab 06/919-01/898 22 1Ki 16:29
-891 Ahaziah 02/898-01/897 2 1Ki 22:51
Jehosaphat/Jehoram [893-891] [2] Jehoram (Ahab's son) 02/897-09/886 12 2Ki 3:1
Jehoram 893 - 8 [Ahaziah]/ Joram [07/887-09/886] 1 2Ki 9:29
-885 Ahaziah 10/886-09/885 1 2Ki 9:24,27
[Athaliah] Jehoyada 885-879 6 Jehu 10/885-03/856 28 2Ki 10:36
Joash 879 - 40 Jehoahaz 04/856-09/839 17 2Ki 10:35; 13:1
-839 Jehoahaz/ Jehoash [01/841-09/839] 2 2Ki 13:10
Amasiah 839 - 29 Jehoash 09/839-01/823 16 2Ki 13:10
-810 Jeroboam II 01/823-05/782 41 2Ki 14:23
Uzziah 810 - 52 [Zechariah] 06/782-02/771 [11] 2Ki 14:29
[Azariah] [796 - Zechariah 03/771-08/771 6 m. 2Ki 15:8
Shallum 09/771 1 m. 2Ki 15:13
Menahem 10/771-03/760 10 2Ki 15:17
-758 Peqayah 04/760-03/758 2 2Ki 15:23
Jotham 758-742 16 Peqah 04/758-05/738 20 2Ki 15:27
Ahaz 742-726 16 [Hosea] 06/738-01/729 9 2Ki 15:27-30
Hezekiah 726-697 29 Hosea 02/729-09/720 9 2Ki 17:1,3
Manasseh 697-642 55 2Ki 21:1
Amon 642-640 2 2Ki 21:19
Josias 640-609 31 2Ki 22:1
Jehoachaz 609 3 m. 2Ch 36:2
Jehoiaqim 609-598 11 2Ch 36:5
Jehoiachin 598 3 m. 2Ch 36:9
Zedekiah 598-587 11 2Ch 36:11
Jehoiachin (exile) 587-561 26 2Ki 25:27-28
Babylonian dominion 609-539 70 Jr 25:11-12
221 F. BRIQUEL-CHATONNET – Les relations entre les cités de la côte phénicienne et les royaumes d'Israël et de Juda

Leuven 1983 Ed. Peeters Publishers pp.102-113.


222 E. LIPINSKI – Itineraria Phoenicia

in: Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 127 (2004) Éd. Peeters pp. 46-48.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF JONAH'S MISSION 89
Using the previous biblical chronology, reconstructed from the Masoretic text, we
obtain the following synchronisms:
King of Tyre age length reign King of Israel reign King of Assyria reign
Abibaal - - 1045?-1025 David 1057-1017
Hiram I 53 34 1025-991 Solomon 1017-977
year 12 of Hiram 1013 year 4 of Solomon 1013
Baal-Ezer I 43 17 991-974
Abdrastratos 39 9 974-965
Methusastartos 54 12 965-953
Astharymos 58 9 953-944
Phelles 50 8 m. 944
Ithobaal I 68* 32 944-912 Ahab 919-899
Baal-Ezer II 45 6 912-906
Mattan I 32 29 906-877
(Elissa) ? - (890-?)
Pygmalion 58 47 877-830 Shalmaneser III 859 -
year 7 of Pygmalion 870 (= 1013 - 143)
(Baal-manzer) year 18 of Shalmaneser 841
Hiram II (Sidon) 830-800? -824
The synchronisms between the two chronologies, Jewish and Tyrian, are excellent.
The reign of Hiram I actually overlaps that of David by 8 years (and also covers 20 years of
building the Temple from 1013 to 993 BCE), and the 4th year of Solomon, marking the
beginning of the Temple, duly precedes the foundation of Carthage by 143 years. The only
disagreement comes from the synchronism with Baalmanzer equated with Baal-Ezer II;
however, this equation has the following anomalies:
1) Whatever the chronology adopted for the reign of Baal-Ezer II, 856-850 according to
Thiele's biblical chronology or 912-906 according to the Masoretic chronology, it
precedes by at least 10 years the tribute to Shalmaneser III, dated 841 BCE.
2) Up to Tiglath-pileser III (745-727), Assyrian kings never mention (except this only
exception) the name of kings of Tyre (or Sidon) in their annals223.
King of Assyria Reign Tribute paid by (according to Assyrian annals): Major event
Tiglath-pileser I 1115-1076 Sidon
Aššurnaṣirpal II 884-859 Tyre, Sidon Carthage founded
Shalmaneser III 859-824 Tyre, Sidon
Adad-nêrârî III 811-783 Tyre, Sidon
Tiglath-pileser III 745-727 Hiram III [Ḫirumu] of Tyre
Sennacherib 705-681 Luli of Sidon, then Ithobaal II [Tuba’lu] of Sidon
Esarhaddon 681-669 Abdimilkutte of Sidon / Baal [Ba’lu] of Tyre
3) The Assyrian transcription of Baal-Ezer into Ba’li-ma-AN-zêri is aberrant, and it is
difficult to explain the meaning of this name224. Generally the Assyrian transcriptions of
Phoenician names correspond fairly closely to original names:
Name Greek (Flavius) Greek (LXX) Assyrian Hebrew meaning
Tyre Tür Tür Ṣur Ṣûr Rock
Sidon Sidon Sidon Ṣidon Ṣîdon Fishery ?
Hiram Eirom Airam Ḫirumu Ḫîram Life exalted ?
Ithobaal Ithobal Iethebaal [’]Tu-ba-il Ethbaal With him is Baal
Baal-Ezer Balezor Baalezer Ba’limaANzêri Baalezer Baal is a helper
Mattan Metten Maththan Mitina Mattan [Baal] has offered
223 J.B. PRITCHARD - Ancient Near Eastern Texts
Princeton 1969 Ed. Princeton University Press pp. 274-301.
224 E. LIPINSKI – Ba‘li-Ma‘zer II and the Chronology of Tyre

in: Rivista degli studi orientali 45 (1970) pp. 59-65.


90 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
The name Ba’li-ma-AN-zêri is clearly an anomaly225, which could be explained by an
erroneous comment on the tributaries. Indeed, some kings attributed to themselves the
actions of their predecessors226, which was probably the case here, since Omri (930-919) is
also in the list, which is anachronistic. When putting the name of a founder in place of the
city (or country), the scribe could produce an artificial anachronism. Indeed, Jehu was not
the son of Omri, but Jehoshapath (2Ki 9:14), in addition, there were four kings between
Omri and Jehu: Ahab (1Ki 16:29), Ahaziah (1Ki 22:52), Jehoram (2Ki 3:1) and Ahaziah II
(2Ki 8:25). The name Baal-Manzer could be a rough blend between the name of the King
of Tyre Baal-Ezer II and his successor Mattan I. The annals of Shalmaneser III clearly have
"arrangements" with the facts, for example227:
1) A recension of this record (cuneiform tablets of Assyria), covering the period 858-842,
mentions no tribute of Jehu.
2) A second recension (bulls of Calah), covering the period 858-841, gives the same
information, but adds at the end: In those days (sic), I received the tribute of the Tyrians and
Sidonians, and Jehu the son of Omri (Iu-ù-a mâr ḫu-um-ri-i).
3) A third recension (marble slab), which covers the period 858-839, gives less information,
and adds at the end: I received the tribute of Ba'al-Manzer, the Tyrian, and Jehu son of Omri (Ia-a-
ù mâr ḫu-um-ri-i).
4) A fourth recension (Kurba'il statue), covering the period 858-838, gives almost the same
information, and adds at the end: I received the tribute of the Tyrians and Sidonians, and Jehu the
house of Omri (Ia-ù-a bît ḫu-um-ri-i).
5) A fifth recension (black obelisk), covering the period 858-838, gives some information,
and adds at the end: I received the tribute of the Tyrians, the Sidonians and Byblians (Byblos).
There are also three epigraphs:
I received the tribute of Sua, the Gilzanean: (... description of the tribute)
I received the tribute of Jehu of the House of Omri (Ia-ù-a bît ḫu-um-ri-i: ... description of the tribute)
I received the tribute of Egypt: (... description of the tribute)
6) A sixth recension very incomplete (basalt statue of Ashur), covering the period 858-833,
gives only few information on the campaigns of 853 and 841 BCE.
Jehu's tribute, which appears for the first time in 841 BCE, is always placed at the
end of the annals of Shalmaneser III. In addition, the tribute of Baal-manzer, a king of
Tyre, appears suddenly in 839 BCE, then disappears without reason. The tribute of Byblos
and Egypt, in 838 BCE, can only be related to the campaign of 853 BCE (Battle of Qarqar).
Indeed, this tribute of Egypt seems to have been confused with the tribute of the king of
Byblos, a client of Egypt, who likely received an Egyptian contingent (1,000 soldiers) to
defend him against Assyria.
In view of the above information, it is possible that Hazael, the king of Syria
(Damascus), who rebelled against Assyria, and also appropriated King Jehu's victories228,
was associated with the king of Israel by Shalmaneser III during his victory against Hazael,
in 841 BCE. Anyway, at this time, King Pygmalion of Tyre had to be in financial trouble
because Elissa had gone to Carthage with the whole temple treasury. Another way to check
the date of the founding of Carthage is using epigraphy on the Nora Stone, as this
inscription is contemporary of King Pygmalion.
225 The expected form is Ba’li-zêri (without the ma-AN)
226 A.K. GRAYSON – The Chronology of the Reign of Ashurbanipal
in: Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie pp. 227-245.
227 W.W. HALLO, K.L. YOUNGER, JR. – The Context of Scripture Vol. II Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World

Leuven 2003 Ed. Brill pp. 261-272.


228 E. LIPINSKI – The Aramaeans. Their Ancient History, Culture, Religion

Leuven 2000 Ed. Peeters, Departement Oosterse Studies pp. 377-380.


HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF JONAH'S MISSION 91
DATING OF THE FOUNDING OF CARTHAGE THROUGH GRADED EPIGRAPHY
Present epigraphic datings are based on Tyrian, Moabite, Syrian, Byblite, Egyptian
(dynasty XXII), and other chronologies, which are all graded according to Thiele's biblical
chronology! Thus, before using epigraphic datings, these chronologies must be anchored
either on dates calibrated by astronomy or on chronologies reconstructed from the
Masoretic data. For example, the usual chronology of the 22nd Dynasty comes from Kitchen
who assumes that the attack on Jerusalem by Shoshenq I, dated 5th year of Rehoboam (1 Ki
14:25-26; 2 Ch 12:2-9), coincided with the one mentioned on a stele dated 21st and final year
of his reign229 . Based on Thiele's biblical chronology, dating the reign of Rehoboam (930-
913), Kitchen sets the 5th year of his reign in 925 (= 930 - 5), assuming that the campaign
had to be conducted the year before year 21 of Shoshenq I, which would date his accession
in 945 (= 925 + 20). A lunar eclipse dated on 25 (or 29)230 Shemu IV of the 15th year of
Takelot II mentioned in the Osorkon Chronicle can fix this reign by astronomy. Camino231
published this chronicle but he doubted that the sentence: in the regnal year 15, 4th month of
Shemu, day 25, under the Majesty of his august father, the god who rules Thebes [Takelot II], the sky has
not swallowed the moon, could be understood as a lunar eclipse, because the expression was in
negative form. In fact, by superstition, the Egyptians never mentioned the eclipses, except
in the negative. Parker232 noticed that a lunar eclipse was described: so that the sky will not
swallow the moon the 16th lunar day [mspr] in the region of Heliopolis and that the one dated IV
Shemu 25 of the 15th year coincided with the total lunar eclipse of 13 March 851 BCE. If
one looks dated lunar eclipses during the month of Shemu IV over the period 900-800,
visible in Egypt (by night between 18:00 and 6:00), we obtain233 :
BCE date of the eclipse type IV Shemu 25/29 gap
851 17 March T 13/17 March -4/0
840 13 February T 10/14 March +25/29
821 15 February P 5/9 March +18/22
As Parker noted, if the scribe recorded precisely the date of the revolt234 which was
close to the lunar eclipse it was to note a coincidence with this bad omen rather than a lack
of coincidence. The total lunar eclipse as coincidence has been noticed. The revolt (13
March) preceded the eclipse (17 March) by a few days (which should have been the
opposite if it had been an "normal" omen). The eclipse of 17 March 851 BCE thus fixes
Takelot II's accession to 865 BCE. Using the length of Osorkon II's reign of 44 years,
instead of 24 years235, the accession of Shoshenq I has to be fixed in 980 BCE. This
Egyptian chronology, anchored on astronomy, is independent of the biblical chronology
and to check several synchronisms with pharaohs as Shoshenq I, written Shishak in 1Kings
14:25, and Osorkon IV, written So236 in 2Kings 17:6 (Segor in the LXX).
229 K.A. KITCHEN - On the Reliability of the Old Testament
Cambridge 2003 Ed. W.B. Eerdmans pp. 30-34,108-110.
230 At the time of Takelot the hieratic sign representing number 9 is similar to 5 (see G. MÖLLER – Hieratische paläographie die

aegyptische buchschrift in ihrer entwicklung von der fünften dynastie bis zur römischen kaiserzeit, Leipzig 1912, pp. 59-61).
231 R.A. CAMINO – The Chronicle of Prince Osorkon

Roma 1958 Ed. Pontificium Institutium Biblicum pp.88-90.


232 R.A. PARKER – The Names of the Sixteen Day of the Lunar Month

in: Journal of Near Eastern Studies XII (1953) p. 50.


233 http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEcat5/LE-0899--0800.html
234 The revolt fomented by Osorkon in the 15th year of Takelot II, in 851 BCE, could be an indirect consequence of the

expansionism of Shalmaneser III who was approaching the region, notably at the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BCE.
235 D.A. ASTON – Takeloth I – A King of the ‘Theban Twenty-Third Dynasty’?

in: The Journal of Egyptian Egyptology 75 (1989) pp. 139-153.


K. JANSEN-WINKELN – The Chronology of the Third Intermediate Period: Dyns. 22-24
in: Ancient Egyptian Chronology. Leiden 2006 Ed. Brill pp. 234-264.
236 N. GRIMAL - Histoire de l'Égypte ancienne

Paris 1988 Éd. Fayard pp. 444-446.


92 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
Pharaoh Reign Length King of Judah Reign King of Israel Reign
Psusennes I 1064-1018 46 years David 1057-1017
Amenemope 1018-1009 9 years Solomon 1017 -
Osorkon the Elder 1009-1003 6 years
Siamun 1003 - 984 19 years year 24 of Solomon (993)
Psusennes II/III 994-980 14 years -977
Shoshenq I 980 - 21 years Rehoboam 977 - Jeroboam 977 -
year 5 of Rehoboam (972)
-959 -960 -955
Osorkon I 959-924 35 years
Shoshenq II 924-922 2 years?
Shoshenq IIb 922 -
Takelot I 922-909 13 years
Osorkon II 909-865 44 years
Takelot II 865-840 25 years
Shoshenq III 840-800 40 years
Shoshenq IV 800-788 12 years
Pamiu 788-782 6 years
Shoshenq V 782-745 37 years
Osorkon IV 745-712 33 years? Hezekiah 726-697 Hosea 738-720

It is important to note that several synchronisms with Egyptian chronology confirm


the Masoretic chronology for the following events:
1) The city of Gezer is burned by Pharaoh Siamun237 in the year 24 of Solomon238 (993 BC).
2) Flight of Jeroboam into pharaoh Shoshenq I's country, in the last years of Solomon's
reign (1Ki 11:40-42), or during the years 39 and 40 (978-977).
3) Jerusalem is attacked239 by Shoshenq I in the 5th year of Rehoboam240 (972 BCE).
4) Hoshea241 negotiated with Shalmaneser V and Osorkon IV (723 BCE).
The reconstruction of the chronology of the kings of Syria (Damascus kingdom)
derives almost exclusively from Israelite and Judean kingdoms chronology (biblical names
that are highlighted appear on inscriptions):
King of Syria Reign King of Judah Reign King of Israel Reign reference
Hadadezer /To‘y 1040-1000 David 1057-1017 1Ch 18:3-9
Rezôn (Ezrôn) 1000 - 975 Solomon 1017 - 977 1Ki 11:23-25
Heziôn 975-960 Rehoboam 977-960 Jeroboam I 977-955 1Rois 15:18
Tabrimmôn 960-950 Asa 957 - Baasha 954-931 2Ch 16:2,3
Ben-Hadad I 950-920 -916 Omri 931-919 1Ki 16:23-29
Ben-Hadad II 920 - Jehosaphat 916-891 Ahab 919-899 1Ki 20:1-2,34
-885 Jehoram (J) 893-885 Joram (A) 897-886 2Ki 3:1, 6:24
Hazael 885 - Ahaziah 886-885 Jehu 885 - 2Ki 8:8-16
Joash 879 - -856 2Ki 10:31-32
-840 -839 Jehoachaz 856-839 2Ki 13:22
Ben-Hadad III 840 - Amasiah 839-810 Jehoash 841-823 2Ki 13:23-25
" -810 Uzziah 810 - Jeroboam II 823-782
(Azariah) Zechariah 782-771
-758 Menahem 771-760
Rezîn 750 - Jotham 758-742 Peqah 758-738
-732 Ahaz 742-726 Hosea 738 - 2Ki 16:5-9
Hezekiah 726-697 -720
Manasseh 697-642
Amon 642-640
Josias 640-609
237 K.A. KITCHEN - On the Reliability of the Old Testament
Cambridge 2003 Ed. W.B. Eerdmans pp. 108-110.
238 Gezer was burnt 20 years after its construction (1Kings 9:10,16,17), which had begun in early year 4 (1Kings 6:37-7:1).
239 K.A. KITCHEN - On the Reliability of the Old Testament pp. 30-34.
240 1Kings 14:25,26; 2 Chronicles 12:2-9. Egyptian soldiers were actually Libyan and Ethiopian, according to 2 Chronicles 12:3.
241 2Kings 17:1-6. As the king of Egypt called So belongs to the Dynasty XXII, he must be Osorkon IV.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF JONAH'S MISSION 93
The first campaign of David (1049-1042) may be indirectly dated by carbon-14
thanks to the mention of a king of Hamath named To‘î (2Samuel 8:9-10) or To‘û (1Ch 18:9-
10). Indeed, a beam of Aleppo temple attributed to this king, known as Taita242 (name
derived from the Hurrian Taḫḫe.ta "of man", abbreviated Taḫḫe which explained the T‘Y
vocalization in Hebrew), has been dated243 -1045 +/- 45. This king To‘î is presented as a
contemporary of Hadadezer the Syrian king of Zoba (1Ch 18:3-10), whose reign is
estimated to 1040-1000. One can also note that Ben-Hadad, the son of T[abrimmôn ...],
king of Aram appears on a stele (dated c. 860 BCE) and Bar-Hadad son of Hazael king of
Aram appears on Zakkûr's stele (dated c. 800 BCE). Rezîn of Damascus appears in the
annals of Tiglatpileser III. According to the inscriptions found at Tell al-Qadi244, Omri,
King of Israel, was a contemporary of Ben-Hadad I (1Ki 20:34), and King Hazael was a
contemporary of Joram (A), the king of Israel, and also of Ahaziah, the king of Judah. The
chronological reconstitution is therefore correct. Several synchronisms with the Assyrian
reigns allow to fix more precisely the Syrian reigns:
King of Syria Reign
Chief of period King of Reign King of Reign
(Damascus) the army Assyria Babylon
Hadadezer 1040-1000 Shobak 1020-1000 Aššur-rabi II 1013 - Simbar-šipak 1027-1009
Rezôn (Ezrôn)1000 - 975 ? -972 Mâr-bîti-apla-uṣur 985-980
Heziôn 975-960 ? Aššur-reš-iši II 972-967 Nabû-mukîn-apli 980 -
Tabrimmôn 960-950 ? Tiglatpileser II 967-935 -944
Ben-Hadad I 950-920 ? Aššur-dan II 935-912
Ben-Hadad II 920 - Naaman 910-890 Adad-nêrari II 912-891 Nabû-šumukîn I 900-888
-885 Hazael 890-885 Tukulti-Ninurta II 891-884 Nabû-apla-iddina 888 -
Hazael 885 - Hadadezer 870 - Aššurnasirpal II 884-859 -855
-845 Shalmaneser III 859 - Marduk-zâkir- 855 -
Hazael -839 šumi I
Ben-Hadad III 839 - -824 -819
-805 Šamši-Adad V 824-811 Marduk-balâssu- 819-813
Mari’ 805-780 Adad-nêrari III 811-783 iqbi
Heziôn II 780 - Shalmaneser IV 783-773 Marduk-apla-uṣur ? -770
-750 Aššur-dan III 773-755 Erîba-Marduk 770-761
Rezîn 750 - Aššur-nêrari V 755-745 Nabû-šum-iškun 761-748
-732 Tiglatpileser III 745 - Nabû-naṣir 748-734
Nabû-nâdin-zêri 734-732
-727 Nabû-šumukîn II 732-731
The reign of Hazael began after the reign of Jehu (1Ki 19:15-17), shortly after the
th
12 year of Joram the son of Ahab (886 BCE) who then fighted Hazael (2Ki 8:25,28).
Hadadezer must have died shortly after 845 BCE, because he disappears from Assyrian
texts thereafter245. As to Hazael, he must have disappeared around 840 BCE, as the
inscription on the black obelisk relates: In the 18th year of my reign, I crossed the Euphrates for the
16th time. Hazael of Aram came out in battle. I captured from him: 1121 of his chariots, 470 of his
cavalry, together with his camp (...) In the 21st year of my reign, I crossed the Euphrates for the 21st time. I
advanced against the cities of Hazael of Aram. I captured four of his cities. I received the gifts of the
Tyrians, Sidonians, and Gebalites [Byblos]. The record of the year 21 no longer mentions
Hazael, but only the cities of Hazael (the expression "House of Hazael" is still found in the
annals of Tiglatpileser III dated 737 BCE); in addition, from that date (838 BCE)
242 K. KOHLMEYER – Zur Datierung der Skulpturen von ‘Ain Dara
in: Fundstellen: Gesammelte Schriften zur Ärchäologie und Geschichte Altvorderasiens ad honorem Hartmut Kühne (Harrassowitz, 2008) p. 122
n. 12. in: Near Eastern Archaeology 72 (2009) pp. 190-202.
243 This king Taita could appear only after -1075, because it is not mentioned in the campaigns of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115-1076).
244 E. LIPINSKI – The Aramaeans. Their Ancient History, Culture, Religion

Leuven 2000 Ed. Peeters, Departement Oosterse Studies pp. 372-380.


245 J.B. PRITCHARD - Ancient Near Eastern Texts

Princeton 1969 Ed. Princeton University Press pp. 274-301.


94 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
Shalmaneser III no longer speaks of booty or tribute (for Syria), but only capture.
Comments from the list of eponyms indicate that there were campaigns against Damascus
in 839 and 838 BCE, then none until the end of the reign (824 BCE). Hazael disappeared
shortly after his capitulation (841 BCE), as Shalmaneser III states: In my 18th year, I crossed the
Euphrates for the 16th time. Hazael of Damascus trusting in the size of his army, mustered a force of
significant size, and established his fortress in Mount Sanir, a mountain peak at the border of Lebanon. I
met him in battled, and was able to overthrow him. I killed 6,000 of his soldiers, and apprehended 1,121
of his chariots and 470 of his cavalry, along with his camp. He ran for his life up into the mountain. I
followed after him and trapped him in Damascus; his royal city. I cut down his orchards, and advanced as
far as Mount Hauran destroying, devastating, and setting fire to countless cities. I carried off a great amount
of their spoil. I marched to Mount Ba’li-ra’si, a headland of the [Mediterranean], and set up my royal
image there. At that time, I accepted the tribute from the men from Tyre [Baal-manzer], Sidon, and from
Jehu, son of Omri. The mention of Hadadezer instead of Hazael in the Assyrian inscriptions
can be explained as follows: in the great kingdoms, as Syria, the war was frequently led by
the commander or the co-regent, instead of the king, as was the case with Shobak the
commander in chief of King Hadadezer (2Samuel 10:16). In addition, the illegitimate status
of Hazael was known to the Assyrians, since we read on a basalt statue of Assur: At that time
I defeated Hadadezer of Damascus together with his 12 allied princes. I brought low like shubi 29,000
soldiers, his fighters. The rest of his armies I drove into the Orontes River. They went up into the mountain
to save their lives. When Hadadezer died, Hazael, the son of a nobody, seized the throne, mustered his large
army and came out against me, offering battle and fight. I battled with him, and defeated him. I seized the
wall of his camp from him. He went up into the mountain to save his life. I advanced as far as Damascus,
his royal city. [I cut down] his orchards. Hazael was therefore considered king only after the death
of Hadadezer. A commander could become king, legitimately, as Omri king of Israel did
(1Ki 16:16), or illegitimately, as Hazael (2Ki 8:15). This particular situation could explain the
mention of Hadadezer, the commander, instead of Hazael, an illegitimate king. In addition,
the Assyrian text mentions Hadad-ezer of Damascus and Irhuleni of Hama apart from
other 12 kings. This confusion may have been intended as Shalmaneser III who says at the
beginning of the registration: At the time of Aššur-rabi (II), king of Assyria, the king of Aram
(Syria) took [two cities] by force — I restored these cities. I installed the Assyrians in their midst. The
king of Syria at the time of Ashur-rabi II (1013-972) must be King Hadadezer. However,
this name of the former winner king of Syria coincides with that of commander in chief
Hadadezer (defeated by Shalmaneser III).
Hazael was a contemporary of Jehu (885-856) and Jehoahaz (856-839) as confirmed
by the Dan Stele which mentions the death of Joram son of Ahab and Ahaziah son of
Jehoram. Hazael is probably the author of this stele246:
1'. [....................]...................[.........................] and cut [.....................................]
2'. [.......] my father went up [................] he fought at [...................................]
3'. And my father lay down; he went to his [fathers]. Now the king of I[s]
4'. rael had penetrated into my father's land before. [But then] Hadad made me king,
5'. and Hadad marched before me. So I went forth from [the] [................]
6'. of my rule, and I killed two [might]y kin[gs] who had harnessed two thou[sands of cha]riots
7'. and two thousands of cavalry. [And I killed Jeho]ram son of [Ahab]
8'. the king of Israel, and I killed [Ahaz]yahu son of [Jehoram the ki]ng of
9'. the House of David. And I made [their towns into ruins and turned]

246 A. BIRAN, J. NAVEH – An Aramaic Stele Fragment from Tel Dan


in: Israel Exploration Journal 43 (1993) pp. 81-98.
A. LEMAIRE – Épigraphie palestinienne : Nouveau Documents. I. Fragment de stèle araméenne de Tell Dan (IXe s. av. J.-C.)
in: Henoch 16 (1994) pp. 87-93.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF JONAH'S MISSION 95
10'. their land into [a desolation ......................................................................]
11'. others and [........Then........................................... Jehu became ki]ng
12'. over Is[rael.............................................................................. And I laid]
13'. siege against [..............................................................................................]
The text of the Tel Dan Stele is in good agreement with the biblical text: Accordingly he
went with Jehoram the son of Ahab to the war against Hazael the king of Syria at Rimoth-gilead but the
Syrians struck down Jehoram (...) Jehu began to ride and go to Jezreel for Jehoram was lying there, and
Ahazyah the king of Judah himself had gone down to see Jehoram (2Ki 8:28-9:16).
The succession of kings of Byblos is: Ahiram, Ithobaal, Abibaal, Yehimilk, Elibaal
and Shipitbaal247. Abibaal was a contemporary of Shoshenq I (980-959) and Elibaal was a
contemporary of Osorkon I248 (959-924). Assuming an average reign of 20 years, the kings
of Tyre at this time, we obtain the following synchronisms (highlighted):
King of Reign King of Reign King of Reign King of Reign
Israel Judah Egypt Byblos
Solomon 1017 - Osorkon A 1009-1003 Ahiram 1020-1000
(993) Siamun 1003 - 984 Ithobaal 1000 -
-977 Psusennes II 994-980 -980
Jeroboam 977-955 Rehoboam 977-960 Shoshenq I 980-959 Abibaal 980-960
Nadab 955-954 Osorkon I 959 - Yehimilk 960-940
Baasha 954-931 Elibaal 940 -
Elah 931-930
Zimri -930 King of Moab -924
Omri 930-919 Kemoshyat [930 - Shoshenq II 924-922 -920
Ahab 919-898 -900] Takelot I 922-909 Shipitbaal 920-900
Ahaziah 898-897 Mesha [900-870?] Osorkon II 909 -
Jehoram (A) 897-886
Ahaziah II 886-885 King of Syria
Jehu 885-856 Hazael 885 - -865
Jehoachaz 856-839 -840 Takelot II 865-840
Jehoash 841-823 Ben-Hadad III 840-810 Shoshenq III 840-800
Jeroboam II 823-782 Mari’ 810-780 Shoshenq IV 800-788
These chronologies are used to date the inscriptions accurately. According to the
stele of Mesha, Moab was oppressed by Israel for 40 years since the reign of Omri,
Kemoshyat reigned 30 years, then Mesha (his son) liberated the country. This chronology249
put the 40 years from the reign of Omri in 930 BCE to the death of Jehoshaphat in 890
BCE. The text of 2Kings 3:4-7 situates the revolt of Mesha shortly after the death of Ahab
(in 898 BCE). If Mesha reigned 30 years like his father, his stone had to be erected after 898
BCE and before 870 BCE, at the end of his reign (the letter waw W on the stele of Mesha
still looks like the archaic form of the sarcophagus of Ahiram). The inscription of King
Kilamuwa250 has to be dated from the end of the reign of Shalmaneser III (859-824),
around 830 BCE. Fekherye inscription mentions that of Hadad-yis’i, son of Shamash-Nuri,
who was an eponymous governor of Guzan in 866 BCE under Ashurnasirpal II. It is likely
that the king Hadad-yis’i [Adad-rêmanni] was also eponymous in 841 BCE under
Shalmaneser III, which would date the stele Fekherye inscriptions around that date251.
247 S. MOSCATI – The World of Phoenicians

London 1968 Ed. Weidenfeld and Nicolson pp. 10-11.


248 A. LEMAIRE - La datation des rois de Byblos Abibaal et Élibaal et les relations entre l’Égypte et le Levant au Xe siècle av.

notre ère in: Comptes-rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 150e année, N. 4, 2006. pp. 1697-1716.
249 J.M. SPRINKLE – 2 Kings 3: History or Historical Fiction?

in: Bulletin for Biblical Research 9 (1999) pp. 247-270.


250 P. GARELLI, A. LEMAIRE - Le Proche-Orient Asiatique Tome 2

Paris 1997 Éd. P.U.F. pp. 92-96.


251 E. LIPINSKI – The Arameans: their ancient history, culture, religion

in: Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 100 (2000) Éd. Peeters pp. 128-130, 239-242.
96 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
Many Semitic inscriptions have been classified according to the "conventional"
chronology and also according to the form of theirs letters (which changes over time). It is
possible to use these classifications252, while dating them according to the aforementioned
chronologies253, which give: Ahiram (1020-1000); Abibaal (980-960); Yehimilk (960-940);
Elibaal (940-920); Shipitbaal (920-900); Mesha (900-870); Fekherye (870-840); Dan (-860);
Hazael (880-840); Kilamuwa (840-830).
-1150 -1000 [-900] -850

According to this epigraphical study, the Nora Stone can to be dated. The shape of
the letter K (kap line 6) on the stele appears only from -890 (Mesha), the letter M (mem lines
4, 5 and 8) is vertical before -840 (Fekherye), then horizontal after that date. The letter M in
Dan stele (-860) is horizontal, but sometimes vertical (line 8 fragment 1, lines 2 and 4
fragment 2). The letter L (lamed lines 4, 6 and 8) is rounded only after -890 (Mesha) and
angular before that date. According to these epigraphical criteria, Nora Stone should be
dated 890-840, and not around 800 BCE254 . A final way to date the foundation of Carthage
is to assess its historical context in order to determine the causes of changes.
The cities of Phoenicia have a very long history. Sidon would be one of the oldest,
according to the text of Genesis 10:15-19. The cities of Tyre, Acre and Byblos (Kupni)
appear in Egyptian255 execration texts dated 1900-1800.
252 B. SASS – The Alphabet at the turn of the Millenium. The West Semitic Alphabet ca. 1150-850 BCE

Tel Aviv 2005 Ed. Emery and Claire Yass Publications in Archaeology pp. 22-40.
253 C.A. ROLLSTON – The Dating of the Early Royal Byblian Phoenician Inscriptions: A response to Benjamin Sass

in: Maarav 15:1 (2008) pp. 57-93.


254 P.A.R. VAN DOMMELEN – On colonial grounds: A comparative study (...) in first millenium BC west central Sardinia

in: Archaeological Studies Leiden University 2 Ed. Leiden University 1998 p. 72.
255 We also know that the mayors (or kings) of Tyre (Zimredda), Sidon (Abi-Milku), Beirut (Ammunira), Acre (Satatna) and

Byblos (Rib-Hadda) were clients of King Amenhotep III and Akhenaten, around 1370-1340 BCE, and they already owned great
wealth at this time (the two richest cities in the area were Ugarit and Tyre according to the El-Amarna letter EA 89).
HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF JONAH'S MISSION 97
HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF THE FOUNDING OF CARTHAGE
The city of Tyre belonged to the
Phoenician states (clients of Egypt) which
were surrounded by a string of small
Aramean kingdoms256 to the north, by the
powerful kingdom of Damascus257 to the
east and by the kingdom of Israel to the
south. Before Assurnasirpal II reached the
Mediterranean coast, in 876 BCE, the
Assyrian empire did not create major
problems to the Phoenician cities258. Tyre
managed to remain on the fringes of the
armed conflicts that brought Assyria up
against the states of western Asia, and
preferred to pay tribute rather than
confront the powerful Assyrian war
machine. More, Tyre occasionally took
advantage of the Assyrian advance to make
Mesopotamian monarchs her prime
customers. In order to safeguard their
economic interests and guarantee free
trade, the Phoenician cities frequently found themselves forced to pay tribute to the neo-
Assyrian empire. The growing power of the Assyrian Empire made the Phoenician cities a
key factor in the international politics of the 7th and 6th centuries BCE. Their strategic
position and their political and economic importance conditioned to a considerable extent
the balance of power between Assyria and its great rival, Egypt. Hence the interest of the
Assyrian monarchs in controlling the Phoenician ports and their commercial networks.
Until the middle of the 8th century BCE, the Assyrian kings did nothing that might harm
Phoenician commercial interests, nor did they intervene in their internal affairs. They
restricted themselves to collecting tributes from the Phoenician cities or exploiting
differences and any lack of solidarity between them, as Shalmaneser III did. Genuine
political and military pressure on the Phoenician cities and the first direct opposition to
their trade began with Tiglatpileser III, the first sovereign to wage war against Phoenicia,
making part of the Phoenician coast an Assyrian province. The intervention of Assyria in
the economic affairs of the Phoenician ports marks the beginning of a particularly critical
period for Tyre's trade.
Assyrian expansionism towards the Levant (some Aramean kingdoms, like the one of
Hamath, became vassals of Assyria from 890 BCE) encountered another powerful
expansionism, that of the Syrian kingdom, particularly at the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BCE.
Syrian expansionism began when Hazael, the army chief of Ben-Hadad II was anointed
(around 890 BCE) as future king by Jehu (1Ki 19:15-17), because this warlike chief
immediately activates war (1Ki 20:1-6). When Hazael became king, he attacked the
256 E. LIPINSKI – The Aramaeans. Their Ancient History, Culture, Religion
Leuven 2000 Ed. Peeters, Departement Oosterse Studies pp. 233-318.
F. BRIQUEL-CHATONNET – Les relations entre les cités de la côte phénicienne et les royaumes d'Israël et de Juda
Leuven 1992 Ed. Departement Oriëntalistiek Uitgeverij Peeters pp. 144-150.
257 The city is mentioned in the text of Genesis 14:15, when Abraham was in Palestine (around 1950 BCE) and appears in

Egyptian execration texts (dated 1900-1800 BCE) under the name of Apu.
258 F. JOANNÈS - La Mésopotamie au 1er millénaire avant J.C.

2000 Paris Ed. Armand Colin pp. 23-26.


98 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
Philistine kingdom of Gat and captured it, and he also made the Judean kingdoms pay a
heavy tribute (1Ki 12:17-18). To push back the Assyrian advance, Hazael succeeded in
forming a powerful coalition of small kingdoms which caused problems to Shalmaneser III.
However, the Assyrian king returned into the attack and succeeded in defeating Hadadezer
(845 BCE), then Hazael himself (841 BCE). In fact, after this battle the two belligerents,
exhausted, stopped their expansionism. When Hazael died (c. 840 BCE), his son Ben-
Hadad III began to reign and Jehoash, the king of Israel, proceeded to regain lost
territories. Thus the chronological reconstruction shows that Tyre was dangerously
threatened (highlighted) only at the very beginning of the reigns of Hazael (from 885 to 853
BCE) and Tiglatpileser III, but lost its autonomy only after 676 BCE259.
King of Reign King of Reign King of Syria Reign King of Reign
Hamath Tyre (Damascus) Assyria
Ithobaal I 944-912 Ben-Hadad I 950-920 Aššur-dan II 935-912
Baal-Ezer II 912-906 Ben-Hadad II 920-890 Adad-nêrari II 912-891
Parita 900 - Mattan I 906 - /Hazael 890-885 Tukulti-Ninurta II 891-884
-877 Hazael 885 - Aššurnasirpal II 884 -
-870 Pygmalion 877 - -870
Urḫilina 870 - (Elissa) /Hadadezer 870 - -859
-845 Shalmaneser III 859 -
-840 845-839
Uratami 840 - -830 Ben-Hadad III 839 - (Jonah) -824
-807 Hiram II 830 - -805 Šamši-Adad V 824-811
Zakkûr 807-780 -800 Mari’ 805-780 Adad-nêrari III 811-783
? 780 - ? Heziôn II 780 - Shalmaneser IV 783-773
-750 -750 Aššur-dan III 773-755
‘Azriyau 750 - Ithobaal II 750 - Rezîn 750 - Aššur-nêrari V 755-745
-738 -739 Tiglatpileser III 745 -
Eni-ilu 738 - Hiram III 739-730 -732
-730 Mattan II 730-729 Assyrian 732 - -727
Yaubîdi 730-720 Elulaios (Luli) 729 - province -720 Shalmaneser V 727-722
-694 Sargon II 722-705
Abd-Malqart 694-680 Sennacherib 705-681
Baal I 680-660 Assarhaddon 681-669
Lemaire260 imagined the following scenario based on the biblical chronology of
Thiele: Hazael would have required Tyre to pay a heavy tribute as he did previously with
Jerusalem and Gat. The king of Tyre, Pygmalion, would have accepted and then would have
decided to empty the treasure of Milqart's temple. As the high priest Zakarbaal, who was
the husband of Elissa (Pygmalion's sister), would have refused and Pygmalion would have
eliminated him. This situation had a precedent when Ithobaal, the priest of Astarte,
murdered the king of Tyre to seize power (Against Apion I:123). Similarly, the high priest
marrying the king's sister is a situation attested at the time (2Ch 22:11). In addition, the
description the Bible gives of the city of Tyre at that epoch261 is consistent with the above
data: Take ship for Tarshish [Spain]262, howl, you inhabitants of the coast. Is this your joyful city founded
far back in the past? Whose footsteps led her abroad to found her own colonies? Who took this decision
against imperial Tyre, whose traders were princes, whose merchants the great ones of the world? (Is 23:6-8).
259 F. JOANNES - Dictionnaire de la civilisation mésopotamienne
Paris 2001 Éd. Robert Laffont pp. 865-866.
260 A. LEMAIRE – Remarques sur le contexte historique et culturel de la fondation de Carthage

in: Carthage et les autochtones de son empire du temps de Zama, Éd. Institut National du Patrimoine, Tanis 2010, pp. 55-59.
261 According to Isaiah 6:1, the text has to be dated the year King Uzziah died (in 758 BCE).
262 Most scholars associate Tarshish with Spain, based on ancient references to a place or region in Spain called Tartessus by

Greek and Roman writers. While Greek geographer Strabo placed a city called Tartessus in the region around the Guadalquivir
River in Andalusia (Geography III:2:11), the name Tartessis appears to have applied generally to the southern part of the Iberian
Peninsula.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF JONAH'S MISSION 99
After the murder of her husband, Elissa decided to go into exile accompanied by the
opponents of the policy of submission, carrying with her much of the temple treasury (the
legend emphasizes the wealth of Elissa's husband). Lemaire's scenario is logical but
unfortunately the chronology of Thiele he used is false. In fact the chronology of events
before the foundation of Carthage as well as Jonah's mission is as follows:
Ø 885 BCE. Hazael killed Ben-Hadad II (920-885) and became king of Syria (Damascus).
On one of his stele (Tel Dan Stele), he claims to have killed Jehoram (897-886), the king
of Israel, and Ahaziah (886-885), the king of Judah (2Ch 22:5-6).
Ø 876 BCE. Assurnasirpal II (884-859) began a westward expansion in order to access the
Mediterranean263. Through his powerful army, he began to extort money from Syrian
kingdoms like those of Bit-Adini and Bit-Agusi. During the following years he continued
his westward expansion264 and reached the Great Sea of Amurru country and received the
tribute of seacoast from the inhabitants of Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, Amurru and Arvad265.
Ø 870 BCE. Assurnasirpal II required Tyre to pay a heavy tribute. Pygmalion (877-830), the
king of Tyre, accepted and then would have decided to empty the treasure of Milqart's
temple but as the high priest Zakarbaal, who was the husband of Elissa (Pygmalion's
sister), refused, Pygmalion eliminated him. After the murder of her husband, Elissa
decided to go into exile accompanied by the opponents of the policy of submission to
Assurnasirpal II, carrying with her much of the temple treasury and found Carthage.
Some Phoenician sailors reported these events when they were traveling in Greece and
Homer (907-840) probably imagined this marvellous story in a Minoan past.
Ø 867 BCE. In the last part of the reign of Jehu (885-856), Hazael started to cut off all the
territories of Israel (2Ki 10:31-34) as well as those of Joash (879-839), the king of Judah
(2Ki 13:1-3). Hazael captured Gath, a capital of the Philistines and even went up against
Jerusalem. After he received a heavy tribute in gold from Joash, he withdrew from
Jerusalem (2Ki 12:17-19).
Ø 856 BCE. Bit-Adini was annexed to Assyria by Shalmaneser III (859-824).
Ø 853 BCE. Dayyan-Aššur (854-823) the commander-in-chief is chosen as eponym. After
the battle of Qarqar, among the 11 kings who revolted under the command of Hadad-
ezer (870-845) the commander-in-chief of Syria, 7 tributary kings, who were paying their
tribute to Shalmaneser III, became vassal kings. All these kingdoms were annexed later.
Ø 841 BCE. Shalmaneser III defeated Hazael of Damascus, killed with the sword 16,000 of
his experienced soldiers, took away 1,121 chariots and 470 riding horses. Hazael
disappeared to save his life and died soon after (840/839?).
Ø 826 BCE. Dayyan-Aššur the commander-in-chief was again chosen as eponym, which
meant a new series of military campaigns.
Ø 824 BCE. Shalmaneser III was dying, his son Shamshi-Adad V was mandated as new
crown prince to quell the revolt headed by his brother Aššur-danin-pal who led 27 cities
including the famous Nineveh. Jonah came to Nineveh at that moment in order to
announce a terrible judgment of God if the Ninevites were continuing their crimes.
Aššur-danin-pal (827-820), the king of Nineveh, repented. It is noteworthy that military
campaigns westwards immediately ceased (until 765 BCE).
Ø 765 BCE. Menahem (771-760), the king of Israel, gave a tribute to the Assyrian king Pulu
“heir” (783-746), also called Bar-Gayah “son of majesty” in Aramean (2Ki 15:19-29; 1Ch
5:26), who reigned afterward under the name Tiglath-pil-eser III (745-727).
Ø 722 BCE. Shalmaneser V (727-722) came up against Samaria (2Ki 18:9-10).
263 F. JOANNÈS - La Mésopotamie au 1er millénaire avant J.C.
2000 Paris Ed. Armand Colin pp. 23-26.
264 F. JOANNÈS - Dictionnaire de la civilisation mésopotamienne

Paris 2001 Éd. Robert Laffont pp. 105-107.


265 J.B. PRITCHARD - Ancient Near Eastern Texts

Princeton 1969 Ed. Princeton University Press pp. 275-276.


100 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
Given this scenario, the founding of Carthage must be dated in the period 876-866
(Assurnasirpal II’s campaigns for accessing Mediterranean), confirming once again the date
of 870 BCE instead of 814. Hazael probably has no role in this event because Phoenician
ports like Tyre were related to Egypt which would have defended them in order to protect
its trade. It is interesting to note that the cities of Tyre and Sidon (which remained clients of
Egypt at that time) are not mentioned among the allies of Hazael against Assyria in the
Battle of Qarqar (the king of Byblos, a vassal of Egypt, received an Egyptian contingent of
1,000 soldiers to defend him against Assyria). In addition, there was no longer threat against
Tyre in 814 BCE, nor from Ben-Hadad III (839-805) the king of Aram, nor Šamši-Adad V
(824-811) the king of Assyria. Indeed, Syria had again become a small kingdom (for
example Ben-Hadad III was defeated by Adad-nîrârî III in 806 BCE and paid him a tribute)
and Šamši-Adad V never came in the west during his reign. In 814 BCE, the queen of Tyre
had no reason to flee her kingdom (except for mythologists).
The tragic events that led Queen Elissa to leave the city of Tyre, wandering in the
Mediterranean before finally founding a new Tyre (Carthage), has strongly influenced his
contemporaries as Lycurgus, the first lawgiver of Sparta (c. 880 BCE)266, Diognetus, who
was a life Archon (892-864) and Homer267 (907-840)268. Homer, informed by Phoenician
sailors (according to Strabo) had to adapt Elissa's Phoenician epic into Ulysses' Greek epic.
Some clues reveal the source of his inspiration. The name of Ulysses, who is Greek hero
par excellence, is not Greek, which is very paradoxical, however Ulysses could be a native
of Crete (Odyssey XIV:199; XVII:523). A likely explanation is to assume that the name of
Ulysses269 (Ὀλυσσεύς), also pronounced Udysses in Crete270, is a transcription of Elissa's
name, which means in Phoenician "my god is salvation (2Ki 2:6)". Likewise, the name of the
hometown of Ulysses, Ithaca271 , is not Greek, but could mean "moved away (‫ ")עתיק‬like in
Isaiah 28:9. In recounting the Trojan War, Homer did not seek to make a historian work
(this old event was known and had little interest), but he wanted to offer a religious
explanation for our tragic earthly destiny and in this field he succeeded magnificently.

Consequently, reliable interpretation of past events is based mainly on chronology.


Herodotus was absolutely right: “chronology is the backbone of history” and allows
eliminating mythological explanations validated by mainstream historians.

266 Velleius Paterculus states that the founding of Carthage (884 BCE) coincided with Lycurgus (Roman History I:6) who reigned
159 years before the Olympics according to Eratosthenes, but only 130 years before King Theopompe (720-675), according to
Plutarch (Life of Lycurgus §IX). According to Tatian, Lycurgus legislated 100 years before the Olympics, or 876 BCE
(Discourses to Greeks XLI).
267 V. BERARD, P. DEMONT, M.P. NOËL - L'Odyssée

1996 Librairie Générale Française , Le Livre de Poche p. 12.


268 According to Herodotus (490-425) Homer lived 400 years before him (The Histories II:53) and on the Parian Marble (264

BCE) it is written that Homer was born in 907 BCE. Consequently the lifetime of Homer could be around 907-840.
269 The oldest testimony of the name, from ancient Greek lyric poet Ibycus (c. 565 BCE), is not Ulysses but Ulikses (Ὀλιξής).
270 P. FAURE – Ulysse le crétois

Paris 1980 Éd. Librairie Arthème Fayard, pp. 30-34.


271 The location of Ithaca as featured in Homer's Odyssey (Odyssey IX:25-26) is a matter for debate. There have been various

theories about its location, although Modern Ithaca is generally accepted to be Homer's island by most scholars.
A demanding reader could legitimately ask why I am still a PhD candidate and not an
academic with a PhD degree, and why my article has not been published in a scholarly
review with a peer reading committee. The answer is as follows:
I completed a thesis in Archaeology and History of Ancient Worlds272 in order to get
a PhD (Doctorate) at the University of Lyon II (Maison de l’Orient)273 . I had a research
director and a jury of six274 ready to review my dissertation in December 2007. However,
four months before I had to make the defence of my work, Pierre Villard, my research
director, and all six jurors received a letter informing them I was a Jehovah’s Witness275.
After they received the letter, they refused to grant me the PhD. However my research
director accepted to sign a transfer request so I could move to another school to get my
PhD. Consequently, I transferred my PhD to the INALCO, a university in Paris, but the
President of Doctoral School, Magdalena Novotna, refused on 7 July 2009 to accept me as
a transfer despite the fact that I received the agreement of Daniel Bodi, my new research
director at the INALCO, and two of my former jurors for recording, Francis Joannès276 and
André Lemaire277, who had agreed to serve on my new jury, I was not accepted.
The CAP LC European Coordination for Freedom of Conscience, an association
created in order to counter discrimination in France concerning the right to freedom of
conscience and belief and to alert the public to acts and speech violating human rights or
which are a threat to fundamental liberties, reported my case278 in its report 2010 and sent
it279 to Congress of the United States280 on October 28, 2011. Unfortunately nothing
changed.
Finally, I filed a complaint of religious discrimination because Daniel Bodi, my
research director, sent me an email dated 14 September 2009 in which he clearly wrote that
INALCO refused me, solely because I was considered as a “fundamentalist”. However, on
10 February 2011 the Tribunal Administratif de Paris (Dossier n°: 0918003/7-3) refused to
validate my complaint of religious discrimination because the word “fundamentalist” is not
mentioned in French laws! It is noteworthy that on 7 July 2012 (Request n°8916/05)281 the
European Court of Human Rights unanimously condemned France for religious
discrimination against Jehovah's Witnesses. Unfortunately nothing changed for me. Still
worse I am now blacklisted in the academic world because I dared to file a complaint
against a prestigious university.

272 http://opac.mom.fr/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=487510
273 http://www.theses.fr/sujets/?q=Gertoux+Gérard
274 http://mom.academia.edu/GerardGERTOUX/CurriculumVitae
275 Procès Verbal 2009/1011 daté du 25 mai 2009, BSU de Riom (Clermont Ferrand)
276 Professor at the Université Paris 1 -Panthéon Sorbonne, Research Director at the Unité Archéologie et Sciences de

l’Antiquité.
277 Research Director at the École pratique des hautes études, member of the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres.
278 http://www.freedomofconscience.eu/discrimination-of-minority-belief-groups-in-france/
279 http://www.aicongress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/France-Executive-Summary-October17.2011.pdf
280 http://www.coordiap.com/Document/letter%20of%20Congress%20US.pdf
281 http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-112025#%7B%22itemid%22:%5B%22001-

112025%22%5D%7D
102 JONAH VS KING OF NINEVEH: HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
Regarding my skills as astronomer member of the International Association for
Assyriologists (from September 2013):

Dr. Hermann Hunger


Professor of Assyriology (retired)
University of Vienna
Spitalgasse 2
1090 Wien
Austria
7. Mai 2015

To whom it may concern:

I have read the manuscript „Basic astronomy for historians to get a chronology“ of Gerard
Gertoux and found it a well-informed and informative introduction to this complicated subject. It
clearly explains what is required from a historian who wants to establish the chronology of
historical events.
The author shows by examples how different chronologies can be evaluated or refuted. He also
explains the astronomical phenomena that can be used for dating events, and the pitfalls in using
ancient calendars. For some cases, he offers new conclusions or refutes chronologies proposed
by other scholars.
The manuscript forces the reader to be very attentive, but this attention is well worth it.

Hermann Hunger

Regarding my skills as historian: author of The Name of God Y.eH.oW.aH Which is


Pronounced as it is Written I_Eh_oU_Ah: Its Story (University Press of America, 2002):
This detailed treatment of the Name is useful for those who are interested in the history of its translation of
the centuries, Won W. Lee in: Religious Studies Review Vol. 29:3 (2003) p. 285, published by
Council of Societies for the Study of Religion (Valparaiso University).

I would like to thank my friend Norman Cleworth for his corrections.