Category Archives: Studies

Hear or Obey? The Meaning of the Hebrew word “Shema”

When one of the Scribes asked Messiah Yeshua about the first of all commands, Christ answered with the declaration or Oath of Israel known as the “Shema” which is recited even today among the Jewish communities around the world. This oath encapsulated their calling and the main command which was given to them by our Creator in Heaven.

Mar 12:29,30 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

This of course was quoted from the Scriptures in Deut 6:4,5 by Yeshua, but we also see that it was common knowledge even at the time of Messiah’s ministry. This particular oath, The “Shema” is recited by the Jewish community and a growing amount of believers of Messiah every Sabbath around the world, and starts with the word “Shema” which is commonly translated as “Hear”. This translation does not do the Hebrew Word “Shema” justice, as there is a deeper meaning to the word than the common understanding of “Hearing” or “Listening”.

Looking at the usage of Shema in the Scriptures gives us a better understanding of this amazing Hebrew Word. As we see below, the word “Shema” is an active word which has a duality of meaning.

Shema – Hear and Obey

H8085 – שׁמע – shâma‛ – Browns-Driver-Briggs Definition:  to hear, listen to, obey
The below passages show that the words uttered in Deut 6:4,5 and Mark 12:29,30 starts with a call to action! Shema – Hear and Obey. It is not a passive “listen”, but an acting out of our faith. It is hearing with the intent of putting something into action.

Gen 22:18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Exo 5:2 And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.

Exo 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

Deu 11:27,28 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.

2Sa 22:45 Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.

Isa 30:9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:

Isa 42:24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.

Jer 7:23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.

Jer 17:23 But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.

Jer 22:21 I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.

Jer 34:10 Now when all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his manservant, and every one his maidservant, go free, that none should serve themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, and let them go.

Jer 38:20 But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.

Eze 12:2 Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.

Dan 9:11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.

Shema means not only to listen, but obey through listening. This is the Oath which God called Israel to make, and the same oath that Yeshua spoke of as the greatest of Commandments. Let us all strive to Shema – Listen and Obey!

53 individuals from the Scriptures that have been authenticated by Archaeology

One of the main objections put forward by those who question the validity of the Scriptures is that the individuals mentioned therein are made up and that there is no evidence to back any claim for the validity of the information. The following list and information has been taken from the “Biblical Archaeology Review 40:2, March/April 2014” which has been compiled by the BAS (Biblical Archaeological Society) and gives Archaeological evidence for 53 such characters which are mentioned in the Bible.

Name

Who was he?

When he reigned or flourished B.C.E.

Where in the Bible?

Egypt

1

Shishak (= Sheshonq I)

pharaoh

945–924

1 Kings 11:40, etc.

2

So (= Osorkon IV)

pharaoh

730–715

2 Kings 17:4

3

Tirhakah (= Taharqa)

pharaoh

690–664

2 Kings 19:9, etc.

4

Necho II (= Neco II)

pharaoh

610–595

2 Chronicles 35:20, etc.

5

Hophra (= Apries)

pharaoh

589–570

Jeremiah 44:30

Moab

6

Mesha

king

early to mid-ninth century

2 Kings 3:4–27

Aram-Damascus

7

Hadadezer

king

early ninth century to 844/842

1 Kings 11:23, etc.

8

Ben-hadad, son of Hadadezer

king

844/842

2 Kings 6:24, etc.

9

Hazael

king

844/842–c. 800

1 Kings 19:15, etc.

10

Ben-hadad, son of Hazael

king

early eighth century

2 Kings 13:3, etc.

11

Rezin

king

mid-eighth century to 732

2 Kings 15:37, etc.

Northern Kingdom of Israel

12

Omri

king

884–873

1 Kings 16:16, etc.

13

Ahab

king

873–852

1 Kings 16:28, etc.

14

Jehu

king

842/841–815/814

1 Kings 19:16, etc.

15

Joash (= Jehoash)

king

805–790

2 Kings 13:9, etc.

16

Jeroboam II

king

790–750/749

2 Kings 13:13, etc.

17

Menahem

king

749–738

2 Kings 15:14, etc.

18

Pekah

king

750(?)–732/731

2 Kings 15:25, etc.

19

Hoshea

king

732/731–722

2 Kings 15:30, etc.

20

Sanballat “I”

governor of Samaria under Persian rule

c. mid-fifth century

Nehemiah 2:10, etc.

Southern Kingdom of Judah

21

David

king

c. 1010–970

1 Samuel 16:13, etc.

22

Uzziah (= Azariah)

king

788/787–736/735

2 Kings 14:21, etc.

23

Ahaz (= Jehoahaz)

king

742/741–726

2 Kings 15:38, etc.

24

Hezekiah

king

726–697/696

2 Kings 16:20, etc.

25

Manasseh

king

697/696–642/641

2 Kings 20:21, etc.

26

Hilkiah

high priest during Josiah’s reign

within 640/639–609

2 Kings 22:4, etc.

27

Shaphan

scribe during Josiah’s reign

within 640/639–609

2 Kings 22:3, etc.

28

Azariah

high priest during Josiah’s reign

within 640/639–609

1 Chronicles 5:39, etc.

29

Gemariah

official during Jehoiakim’s reign

within 609–598

Jeremiah 36:10, etc.

30

Jehoiachin (= Jeconiah = Coniah)

king

598–597

2 Kings 24:6, etc.

31

Shelemiah

father of Jehucal the royal official

late seventh century

Jeremiah 37:3, etc.

32

Jehucal (= Jucal)

official during Zedekiah’s reign

within 597–586

Jeremiah 37:3, etc.

33

Pashhur

father of Gedaliah the royal official

late seventh century

Jeremiah 38:1

34

Gedaliah

official during Zedekiah’s reign

within 597–586

Jeremiah 38:1

Assyria

35

Tiglath-pileser III (= Pul)

king

744–727

2 Kings 15:19, etc.

36

Shalmaneser V

king

726–722

2 Kings 17:3, etc.

37

Sargon II

king

721–705

Isaiah 20:1

38

Sennacherib

king

704–681

2 Kings 18:13, etc.

39

Adrammelech (= Ardamullissu = Arad-mullissu)

son and assassin of Sennacherib

early seventh century

2 Kings 19:37, etc.

40

Esarhaddon

king

680–669

2 Kings 19:37, etc.

Babylonia

41

Merodach-baladan II

king

721–710 and 703

2 Kings 20:12, etc.

42

Nebuchadnezzar II

king

604–562

2 Kings 24:1, etc.

43

Nebo-sarsekim

official of Nebuchadnezzar II

early sixth century

Jeremiah 39:3

44

Nergal-sharezer

officer of Nebuchadnezzar II

early sixth century

Jeremiah 39:3

45

Nebuzaradan

a chief officer of Nebuchadnezzar II

early sixth century

2 Kings 25:8, etc. & Jeremiah 39:9, etc.

46

Evil-merodach (= Awel Marduk = Amel Marduk)

king

561–560

2 Kings 25:27, etc.

47

Belshazzar

son and co-regent of Nabonidus

c. 543?–540

Daniel 5:1, etc.

Persia

48

Cyrus II (= Cyrus the Great)

king

559–530

2 Chronicles 36:22, etc.

49

Darius I (= Darius the Great)

king

520–486

Ezra 4:5, etc.

50

Tattenai

provincial governor of Trans-Euphrates

late sixth to early fifth century

Ezra 5:3, etc.

51

Xerxes I (= Ahasuerus)

king

486–465

Esther 1:1, etc.

52

Artaxerxes I Longimanus

king

465-425/424

Ezra 4:7, etc.

53

Darius II Nothus

king

425/424-405/404

Nehemiah 12:22

 

EGYPT

1. Shishak (= Sheshonq I), pharaoh, r. 945–924, 1 Kings 11:40 and 14:25, in his inscriptions, including the record of his military campaign in Palestine in his 924 B.C.E. inscription on the exterior south wall of the Temple of Amun at Karnak in Thebes. See OROT, pp. 10, 31–32, 502 note 1; many references to him in Third, indexed on p. 520; Kenneth A. Kitchen, review of IBPSEE-J Hiphil 2 (2005), www.see-j.net/index.php/hiphil/article/viewFile/19/17, bottom of p. 3, which is briefly mentioned in “Sixteen,” p. 43 n. 22. (Note: The name of this pharaoh can be spelled Sheshonq or Shoshenq.)

Sheshonq is also referred to in a fragment of his victory stele discovered at Megiddo containing his cartouche. See Robert S. Lamon and Geoffrey M. Shipton, Megiddo I: Seasons of 1925–34, Strata I–V. (Oriental Institute Publications no. 42; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939), pp. 60–61, fig. 70; Graham I. Davies, Megiddo (Cities of the Biblical World; Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 1986), pp. 89 fig. 18, 90; OROT, p. 508 n. 68; IBP, p. 137 n. 119. (Note: The name of this pharaoh can be spelled Sheshonq or Shoshenq.)

Egyptian pharaohs had several names, including a throne name. It is known that the throne name of Sheshonq I, when translated into English, means, “Bright is the manifestation of Re, chosen of Amun/Re.” Sheshonq I’s inscription on the wall of the Temple of Amun at Karnak in Thebes (mentioned above) celebrates the victories of his military campaign in the Levant, thus presenting the possibility of his presence in that region. A small Egyptian scarab containing his exact throne name, discovered as a surface find at Khirbat Hamra Ifdan, now documents his presence at or near that location. This site is located along the Wadi Fidan, in the region of Faynan in southern Jordan.

As for the time period, disruption of copper production at Khirbet en-Nahas, also in the southern Levant, can be attributed to Sheshonq’s army, as determined by stratigraphy, high-precision radiocarbon dating, and an assemblage of Egyptian amulets dating to Sheshonq’s time. His army seems to have intentionally disrupted copper production, as is evident both at Khirbet en-Nahas and also at Khirbat Hamra Ifdan, where the scarab was discovered.

As for the singularity of this name in this remote locale, it would have been notable to find any Egyptian scarab there, much less one containing the throne name of this conquering Pharaoh; this unique discovery admits no confusion with another person. See Thomas E. Levy, Stefan Münger, and Mohammad Najjar, “A Newly Discovered Scarab of Sheshonq I: Recent Iron Age Explorations in Southern Jordan. Antiquity Project Gallery,” Antiquity (2014); online: http://journal.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/levy341.

2. So (= Osorkon IV), pharaoh, r. 730–715, 2 Kings 17:4 only, which calls him “So, king of Egypt” (OROT, pp. 15–16). K. A. Kitchen makes a detailed case for So being Osorkon IV in Third, pp. 372–375. See Raging Torrent, p. 106 under “Shilkanni.”

3. Tirhakah (= Taharqa), pharaoh, r. 690–664, 2 Kings 19:9, etc. in many Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions; Third, pp. 387–395. For mention of Tirhakah in Assyrian inscriptions, see those of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal in Raging Torrent, pp. 138–143, 145, 150–153, 155, 156; ABC, p. 247 under “Terhaqah.” The Babylonian chronicle also refers to him (Raging Torrent, p. 187). On Tirhakah as prince, see OROT, p. 24.

4. Necho II (= Neco II), pharaoh, r. 610–595, 2 Chronicles 35:20, etc., in inscriptions of the Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal (ANET, pp. 294–297) and the Esarhaddon Chronicle (ANET, p. 303). See also Raging Torrent, pp. 189–199, esp. 198; OROT, p. 504 n. 26; Third, p. 407; ABC, p. 232.

5. Hophra (= Apries = Wahibre), pharaoh, r. 589–570, Jeremiah 44:30, in Egyptian inscriptions, such as the one describing his being buried by his successor, Aḥmose II (= Amasis II) (Third, p. 333 n. 498), with reflections in Babylonian inscriptions regarding Nebuchadnezzar’s defeat of Hophra in 572 and replacing him on the throne of Egypt with a general, Aḥmes (= Amasis), who later rebelled against Babylonia and was suppressed (Raging Torrent, p. 222). See OROT, pp. 9, 16, 24; Third, p. 373 n. 747, 407 and 407 n. 969; ANET, p. 308; D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings (626–556 B.C.) in the British Museum (London: The Trustees of the British Museum, 1956), pp. 94-95. Cf. ANEHST, p. 402. (The index of Third, p. 525, distinguishes between an earlier “Wahibre i” [Third, p. 98] and the 26th Dynasty’s “Wahibre ii” [= Apries], r. 589–570.)

 

MOAB

6. Mesha, king, r. early to mid-9th century, 2 Kings 3:4–27, in the Mesha Inscription, which he caused to be written, lines 1–2; Dearman, Studies, pp. 97, 100–101; IBP, pp. 95–108, 238; “Sixteen,” p. 43.

 

ARAM-DAMASCUS

7. Hadadezer, king, r. early 9th century to 844/842, 1 Kings 22:3, etc., in Assyrian inscriptions of Shalmaneser III and also, I am convinced, in the Melqart stele. The Hebrew Bible does not name him, referring to him only as “the King of Aram” in 1 Kings 22:3, 31; 2 Kings chapter 5, 6:8–23. We find out this king’s full name in some contemporaneous inscriptions of Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria (r. 858–824), such as the Black Obelisk (Raging Torrent, pp. 22–24). At Kurkh, a monolith by Shalmaneser III states that at the battle of Qarqar (853 B.C.E.), he defeated “Adad-idri [the Assyrian way of saying Hadadezer] the Damascene,” along with “Ahab the Israelite” and other kings (Raging Torrent, p. 14; RIMA 3, p. 23, A.0.102.2, col. ii, lines 89b–92). “Hadadezer the Damascene” is also mentioned in an engraving on a statue of Shalmaneser III at Aššur (RIMA 3, p. 118, A.0.102.40, col. i, line 14). The same statue engraving later mentions both Hadadezer and Hazael together (RIMA 3, p. 118, col. i, lines 25–26) in a topical arrangement of worst enemies defeated that is not necessarily chronological.

On the long-disputed readings of the Melqart stele, which was discovered in Syria in 1939, see “Corrections,” pp. 69–85, which follows the closely allied readings of Frank Moore Cross and Gotthard G. G. Reinhold. Those readings, later included in “Sixteen,” pp. 47–48, correct the earlier absence of this Hadadezer in IBP (notably on p. 237, where he is not to be confused with the tenth-century Hadadezer, son of Rehob and king of Zobah).

8. Ben-hadad, son of Hadadezer, r. or served as co-regent 844/842, 2 Kings 6:24, etc., in the Melqart stele, following the readings of Frank Moore Cross and Gotthard G. G. Reinhold and Cross’s 2003 criticisms of a different reading that now appears in COS, vol. 2, pp. 152–153 (“Corrections,” pp. 69–85). Several kings of Damascus bore the name Bar-hadad (in their native Aramaic, which is translated as Ben-hadad in the Hebrew Bible), which suggests adoption as “son” by the patron deity Hadad. This designation might indicate that he was the crown prince and/or co-regent with his father Hadadezer. It seems likely that Bar-hadad/Ben-hadad was his father’s immediate successor as king, as seems to be implied by the military policy reversal between 2 Kings 6:3–23 and 6:24. It was this Ben-Hadad, the son of Hadadezer, whom Hazael assassinated in 2 Kings 8:7–15 (quoted in Raging Torrent, p. 25). The mistaken disqualification of this biblical identification in the Melqart stele in IBP, p. 237, is revised to a strong identification in that stele in “Corrections,” pp. 69–85; “Sixteen,” p. 47.

9. Hazael, king, r. 844/842–ca. 800, 1 Kings 19:15, 2 Kings 8:8, etc., is documented in four kinds of inscriptions: 1) The inscriptions of Shalmaneser III call him “Hazael of Damascus” (Raging Torrent, pp. 23–26, 28), for example the inscription on the Kurbail Statue (RIMA 3, p. 60, line 21). He is also referred to in 2) the Zakkur stele from near Aleppo, in what is now Syria, and in 3) bridle inscriptions, i.e., two inscribed horse blinders and a horse frontlet discovered on Greek islands, and in 4) inscribed ivories seized as Assyrian war booty (Raging Torrent, p. 35). All are treated in IBP, pp. 238–239, and listed in “Sixteen,” p. 44. Cf. “Corrections,” pp. 101–103.

10. Ben-hadad, son of Hazael, king, r. early 8th century, 2 Kings 13:3, etc., in the Zakkur stele from near Aleppo. In lines 4–5, it calls him “Bar-hadad, son of Hazael, the king of Aram” (IBP, p. 240; “Sixteen,” p. 44; Raging Torrent, p. 38; ANET, p. 655: COS, vol. 2, p. 155). On the possibility of Ben-hadad, son of Hazael, being the “Mari” in Assyrian inscriptions, see Raging Torrent, pp. 35–36.

11. Rezin (= Raḥianu), king, r. mid-8th century to 732, 2 Kings 15:37, etc., in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III, king of Assyria (in these inscriptions, Raging Torrent records frequent mention of Rezin in  pp. 51–78); OROT, p. 14. Inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III refer to “Rezin” several times, “Rezin of Damascus” in Annal 13, line 10 (ITP, pp. 68–69), and “the dynasty of Rezin of Damascus” in Annal 23, line 13 (ITP, pp. 80–81). Tiglath-pileser III’s stele from Iran contains an explicit reference to Rezin as king of Damascus in column III, the right side, A: “[line 1] The kings of the land of Hatti (and of) the Aramaeans of the western seashore . . .  [line 4] Rezin of Damascus”  (ITP, pp. 106–107).

 

NORTHERN KINGDOM OF ISRAEL

12. Omri, king, r. 884–873, 1 Kings 16:16, etc., in Assyrian inscriptions and in the Mesha Inscription. Because he founded a famous dynasty which ruled the northern kingdom of Israel, the Assyrians refer not only to him as a king of Israel (ANET, pp. 280, 281), but also to the later rulers of that territory as kings of “the house of Omri” and that territory itself literally as “the house of Omri” (Raging Torrent, pp. 34, 35; ANET, pp. 284, 285). Many a later king of Israel who was not his descendant, beginning with Jehu, was called “the son of Omri” (Raging Torrent, p. 18). The Mesha Inscription also refers to Omri as “the king of Israel” in lines 4–5, 7 (Dearman, Studies, pp. 97, 100–101; COS, vol. 2, p. 137; IBP, pp. 108–110, 216; “Sixteen,” p. 43.

13. Ahab, king, r. 873–852, 1 Kings 16:28, etc., in the Kurkh Monolith by his enemy, Shalmaneser III of Assyria. There, referring to the battle of Qarqar (853 B.C.E.), Shalmaneser calls him “Ahab the Israelite” (Raging Torrent, pp. 14, 18–19; RIMA 3, p. 23, A.0.102.2, col. 2, lines 91–92; ANET, p. 279; COS, vol. 2, p. 263).

14. Jehu, king, r. 842/841–815/814, 1 Kings 19:16, etc., in inscriptions of Shalmaneser III. In these, “son” means nothing more than that he is the successor, in this instance, of Omri (Raging Torrent, p. 20 under “Ba’asha . . . ” and p. 26). A long version of Shalmaneser III’s annals on a stone tablet in the outer wall of the city of Aššur refers to Jehu in col. 4, line 11, as “Jehu, son of Omri” (Raging Torrent, p. 28; RIMA 3, p. 54, A.0.102.10, col. 4, line 11; cf. ANET, p. 280, the parallel “fragment of an annalistic text”). Also, on the Kurba’il Statue, lines 29–30 refer to “Jehu, son of Omri” (RIMA 3, p. 60, A.0.102.12, lines 29–30).

In Shalmaneser III’s Black Obelisk, current scholarship regards the notation over relief B, depicting payment of tribute from Israel, as referring to “Jehu, son of Omri” (Raging Torrent, p. 23; RIMA 3, p. 149, A.0. 102.88), but cf. P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., “‘Yaw, Son of ‘Omri’: A Philological Note on Israelite Chronology,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 216 (1974): pp. 5–7.

15. Joash (= Jehoash), king, r. 805–790, 2 Kings 13:9, etc., in the Tell al-Rimaḥ inscription of Adad-Nirari III, king of Assyria (r. 810–783), which mentions “the tribute of Joash [= Iu’asu] the Samarian” (Stephanie Page, “A Stela of Adad-Nirari III and Nergal-Ereš from Tell Al Rimaḥ,” Iraq 30 [1968]: pp. 142–145, line 8, Pl. 38–41; RIMA 3, p. 211, line 8 of A.0.104.7; Raging Torrent, pp. 39–41).

16. Jeroboam II, king, r. 790–750/749, 2 Kings 13:13, etc., in the seal of his royal servant Shema, discovered at Megiddo (WSS, p. 49 no. 2;  IBP, pp. 133–139, 217; “Sixteen,” p. 46).

17. Menahem, king, r. 749–738, 2 Kings 15:14, etc., in the Calah Annals of Tiglath-pileser III. Annal 13, line 10 refers to “Menahem of Samaria” in a list of kings who paid tribute (ITP, pp. 68–69, Pl. IX). Tiglath-pileser III’s stele from Iran, his only known stele, refers explicitly to Menahem as king of Samaria in column III, the right side, A: “[line 1] The kings of the land of Hatti (and of) the Aramaeans of the western seashore . . .  [line 5] Menahem of Samaria.”  (ITP, pp. 106–107). See also Raging Torrent, pp. 51, 52, 54, 55, 59; ANET, p. 283.

18. Pekah, king, r. 750(?)–732/731, 2 Kings 15:25, etc., in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III. Among various references to “Pekah,” the most explicit concerns the replacement of Pekah in Summary Inscription 4, lines 15–17: “[line 15] . . . The land of Bit-Humria . . . . [line 17] Peqah, their king [I/they killed] and I installed Hoshea [line 18] [as king] over them” (ITP, pp. 140–141; Raging Torrent, pp. 66–67).

19. Hoshea, king, r. 732/731–722, 2 Kings 15:30, etc., in Tiglath-pileser’s Summary Inscription 4, described in preceding note 18, where Hoshea is mentioned as Pekah’s immediate successor.

20. Sanballat “I”, governor of Samaria under Persian rule, ca. mid-fifth century, Nehemiah 2:10, etc., in a letter among the papyri from the Jewish community at Elephantine in Egypt (A. E. Cowley, ed., Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1923; reprinted Osnabrück, Germany: Zeller, 1967), p. 114 English translation of line 29, and p. 118 note regarding line 29; ANET, p. 492.

Also, the reference to “[  ]ballat,” most likely Sanballat, in Wadi Daliyeh bulla WD 22 appears to refer to the biblical Sanballat as the father of a governor of Samaria who succeeded him in the first half of the fourth century. As Jan Dušek shows, it cannot be demonstrated that any Sanballat II and III existed, which is the reason for the present article’s quotation marks around the “I” in Sanballat “I”; see Jan Dušek, “Archaeology and Texts in the Persian Period: Focus on Sanballat,” in Martti Nissinen, ed., Congress Volume: Helsinki 2010 (Boston: Brill. 2012), pp. 117–132.

 

SOUTHERN KINGDOM OF JUDAH

21. David, king, r. ca. 1010–970, 1 Samuel 16:13, etc. in three inscriptions. Most notable is the victory stele in Aramaic known as the “house of David” inscription, discovered at Tel Dan; Avraham Biran and Joseph Naveh, “An Aramaic Stele from Tel Dan,” IEJ 43 (1993), pp. 81–98, and idem, “The Tel Dan Inscription: A New Fragment,” IEJ 45 (1995), pp. 1–18. An ancient Aramaic word pattern in line 9 designates David as the founder of the dynasty of Judah in the phrase “house of David” (2 Sam 2:11 and 5:5; Gary A. Rendsburg, “On the Writing ביתדיד [BYTDWD] in the Aramaic Inscription from Tel Dan,” IEJ 45 [1995], pp. 22–25; Raging Torrent, p. 20, under “Ba’asha . . .”; IBP, pp. 110–132, 265–77; “Sixteen,” pp. 41–43).

In the second inscription, the Mesha Inscription, the phrase “house of David” appears in Moabite in line 31 with the same meaning: that he is the founder of the dynasty. There David’s name appears with only its first letter destroyed, and no other letter in that spot makes sense without creating a very strained, awkward reading (André Lemaire, “‘House of David’ Restored in Moabite Inscription,” BAR 20, no. 3 [May/June 1994]: pp. 30–37. David’s name also appears in line 12 of the Mesha Inscription (Anson F. Rainey, “Mesha‘ and Syntax,” in J. Andrew Dearman and M. Patrick Graham, eds., The Land That I Will Show You: Essays on the History and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East in Honor of J. Maxwell Miller. (JSOT Supplement series, no. 343; Sheffield, England:Sheffield Academic, 2001), pp. 287–307; IBP, pp. 265–277; “Sixteen,” pp. 41–43).

The third inscription, in Egyptian, mentions a region in the Negev called “the heights of David” after King David (Kenneth A. Kitchen, “A Possible Mention of David in the Late Tenth Century B.C.E., and Deity *Dod as Dead as the Dodo?” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 76 [1997], pp. 39–41; IBP, p. 214 note 3, which is revised in “Corrections,” pp. 119–121; “Sixteen,” p. 43).

In the table on p. 46 of BAR, David is listed as king of Judah. According to 2 Samuel 5:5, for his first seven years and six months as a monarch, he ruled only the southern kingdom of Judah. We have no inscription that refers to David as king over all Israel (that is, the united kingdom) as also stated in 2 Sam 5:5.

22. Uzziah (= Azariah), king, r. 788/787–736/735, 2 Kings 14:21, etc., in the inscribed stone seals of two of his royal servants: Abiyaw and Shubnayaw (more commonly called Shebanyaw); WSS, p. 51 no. 4 and p. 50 no. 3, respectively; IBP, pp. 153–159 and 159–163, respectively, and p. 219 no. 20 (a correction to IBP is that on p. 219, references to WSS nos. 3 and 4 are reversed); “Sixteen,” pp. 46–47. Cf. also his secondary burial inscription from the Second Temple era (IBP, p. 219 n. 22).

23. Ahaz (= Jehoahaz), king, r. 742/741–726, 2 Kings 15:38, etc., in Tiglath-pileser III’s Summary Inscription 7, reverse, line 11, refers to “Jehoahaz of Judah” in a list of kings who paid tribute (ITP, pp. 170–171; Raging Torrent, pp. 58–59). The Bible refers to him by the shortened form of his full name, Ahaz, rather than by the full form of his name, Jehoahaz, which the Assyrian inscription uses.

Cf. the unprovenanced seal of ’Ushna’, more commonly called ’Ashna’, the name Ahaz appears (IBP, pp. 163–169, with corrections from Kitchen’s review of IBP as noted in “Corrections,” p. 117; “Sixteen,” pp. 38–39 n. 11). Because this king already stands clearly documented in an Assyrian inscription, documentation in another inscription is not necessary to confirm the existence of the biblical Ahaz, king of Judah.

24. Hezekiah, king, r. 726–697/696, 2 Kings 16:20, etc., initially in the Rassam Cylinder of Sennacherib (in this inscription, Raging Torrent records frequent mention of Hezekiah in pp. 111–123; COS, pp. 302–303). It mentions “Hezekiah the Judahite” (col. 2 line 76 and col. 3 line 1 in Luckenbill, Annals of Sennacherib, pp. 31, 32) and “Jerusalem, his royal city” (ibid., col. 3 lines 28, 40; ibid., p. 33) Other, later copies of the annals of Sennacherib, such as the Oriental Institute prism and the Taylor prism, mostly repeat the content of the Rassam cylinder, duplicating its way of referring to Hezekiah and Jerusalem (ANET, pp. 287, 288). The Bull Inscription from the palace at Nineveh (ANET, p. 288; Raging Torrent, pp. 126–127) also mentions “Hezekiah the Judahite” (lines 23, 27 in Luckenbill, Annals of Sennacherib, pp. 69, 70) and “Jerusalem, his royal city” (line 29; ibid., p. 33).

During 2009, a royal bulla of Hezekiah, king of Judah, was discovered in the renewed Ophel excavations of Eilat Mazar. Imperfections along the left edge of the impression in the clay contributed to a delay in correct reading of the bulla until late in 2015. An English translation of the bulla is: “Belonging to Heze[k]iah, [son of] ’A[h]az, king of Jud[ah]” (letters within square brackets [ ] are supplied where missing or only partly legible). This is the first impression of a Hebrew king’s seal ever discovered in a scientific excavation.

See the online article by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “Impression of King Hezekiah’s Royal Seal Discovered in Ophel Excavations South of Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” December 2, 2015; a video under copyright of Eilat Mazar and Herbert W. Armstrong College, 2015; Robin Ngo, “King Hezekiah in the Bible: Royal Seal of Hezekiah Comes to Light,” Bible History Daily (blog), originally published on December 3, 2015; Meir Lubetski, “King Hezekiah’s Seal Revisited,” BAR, July/August 2001. Apparently unavailable as of August 2017 (except for a rare library copy or two) is Eilat Mazar, ed., The Ophel Excavations to the South of the Temple Mount 2009-2013: Final Reports, vol. 1 (Jerusalem: Shoham Academic Research and Publication, c2015).

25. Manasseh, king, r. 697/696–642/641, 2 Kings 20:21, etc., in the inscriptions of Assyrian kings Esarhaddon (Raging Torrent, pp. 131, 133, 136) and Ashurbanipal (ibid., p. 154). “Manasseh, king of Judah,” according to Esarhaddon (r. 680–669), was among those who paid tribute to him (Esarhaddon’s Prism B, column 5, line 55; R. Campbell Thompson, The Prisms of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal [London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1931], p. 25; ANET, p. 291). Also, Ashurbanipal (r. 668–627) records that “Manasseh, king of Judah” paid tribute to him (Ashurbanipal’s Cylinder C, col. 1, line 25; Maximilian Streck, Assurbanipal und die letzten assyrischen Könige bis zum Untergang Niniveh’s, [Vorderasiatische Bibliothek 7; Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1916], vol. 2, pp. 138–139; ANET, p. 294.

26. Hilkiah, high priest during Josiah’s reign, within 640/639–609, 2 Kings 22:4, etc., in the City of David bulla of Azariah, son of Hilkiah (WSS, p. 224 no. 596; IBP, pp. 148–151; 229 only in [50] City of David bulla; “Sixteen,” p. 49).

The oldest part of Jerusalem, called the City of David, is the location where the Bible places all four men named in the bullae covered in the present endnotes 26 through 29.

Analysis of the clay of these bullae shows that they were produced in the locale of Jerusalem (Eran Arie, Yuval Goren, and Inbal Samet, “Indelible Impression: Petrographic Analysis of Judahite Bullae,” in The Fire Signals of Lachish: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Israel in the Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Persian Period in Honor of David Ussishkin [ed. Israel Finkelstein and Nadav Na’aman; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2011], p. 10, quoted in “Sixteen,” pp. 48–49 n. 34).

27. Shaphan, scribe during Josiah’s reign, within 640/639–609, 2 Kings 22:3, etc., in the City of David bulla of Gemariah, son of Shaphan (WSS, p. 190 no. 470; IBP, pp. 139–146, 228). See endnote 26 above regarding “Sixteen,” pp. 48–49 n. 34.

28. Azariah, high priest during Josiah’s reign, within 640/639–609, 1 Chronicles 5:39, etc., in the City of David bulla of Azariah, son of Hilkiah (WSS, p. 224 no. 596; IBP, pp. 151–152; 229). See endnote 26 above regarding “Sixteen,” pp. 48–49 n. 34.

29. Gemariah, official during Jehoiakim’s reign, within 609–598, Jeremiah 36:10, etc., in the City of David bulla of Gemariah, son of Shaphan (WSS, p. 190 no. 470; IBP, pp. 147, 232). See endnote 26 above regarding “Sixteen,” pp. 48–49 n. 34.

30. Jehoiachin (= Jeconiah = Coniah), king, r. 598–597, 2 Kings 24:5, etc., in four Babylonian administrative tablets regarding oil rations or deliveries, during his exile in Babylonia (Raging Torrent, p. 209; ANEHST, pp. 386–387). Discovered at Babylon, they are dated from the tenth to the thirty-fifth year of Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylonia and conqueror of Jerusalem. One tablet calls Jehoiachin “king” (Text Babylon 28122, obverse, line 29; ANET, p. 308). A second, fragmentary text mentions him as king in an immediate context that refers to “[. . . so]ns of the king of Judah” and “Judahites” (Text Babylon 28178, obverse, col. 2, lines 38–40; ANET, p. 308). The third tablet calls him “the son of the king of Judah” and refers to “the five sons of the king of Judah” (Text Babylon 28186, reverse, col. 2, lines 17–18; ANET, p. 308). The fourth text, the most fragmentary of all, confirms “Judah” and part of Jehoiachin’s name, but contributes no data that is not found in the other texts.

31. Shelemiah, father of Jehucal the official, late 7th century, Jeremiah 37:3; 38:1 and
32. Jehucal (= Jucal), official during Zedekiah’s reign, fl. within 597–586, Jeremiah 37:3; 38:1 only, both referred to in a bulla discovered in the City of David in 2005 (Eilat Mazar, “Did I Find King David’s Palace?” BAR 32, no. 1 [January/February 2006], pp. 16–27, 70; idem, Preliminary Report on the City of David Excavations 2005 at the Visitors Center Area [Jerusalem and New York: Shalem, 2007], pp. 67–69; idem, “The Wall that Nehemiah Built,” BAR 35, no. 2 [March/April 2009], pp. 24–33,66; idem, The Palace of King David: Excavations at the Summit of the City of David: Preliminary Report of Seasons 2005-2007 [Jerusalem/New York: Shoham AcademicResearch and Publication, 2009], pp. 66–71). Only the possibility of firm identifications is left open in “Corrections,” pp. 85–92; “Sixteen,” pp. 50–51; this article is my first affirmation of four identifications, both here in notes 31 and 32 and below in notes 33 and 34.

After cautiously observing publications and withholding judgment for several years, I am now affirming the four identifications in notes 31 through 34, because I am now convinced that this bulla is a remnant from an administrative center in the City of David, a possibility suggested in “Corrections,” p. 100 second-to-last paragraph, and “Sixteen,” p. 51. For me, the tipping point came by comparing the description and pictures of the nearby and immediate archaeological context in Eilat Mazar, “Palace of King David,” pp. 66–70,  with the administrative contexts described in Eran Arie, Yuval Goren, and Inbal Samet, “Indelible Impression: Petrographic Analysis of Judahite Bullae,” in Israel Finkelstein and Nadav Na’aman, eds., The Fire Signals of Lachish: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Israel in the Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Persian Period in Honor of David Ussishkin (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2011), pp. 12–13 (the section titled “The Database: Judahite Bullae from Controlled Excavations”) and pp. 23–24. See also Nadav Na’aman, “The Interchange between Bible and Archaeology: The Case of David’s Palace and the Millo,” BAR 40, no. 1 (January/February 2014), pp. 57–61, 68–69, which is drawn from idem, “Biblical and Historical Jerusalem in the Tenth and Fifth-Fourth Centuries B.C.E.,” Biblica 93 (2012): pp. 21–42. See also idem, “Five Notes on Jerusalem in the First and Second Temple Periods,” Tel Aviv 39 (2012): p. 93.

33. Pashhur, father of Gedaliah the official, late 7th century, Jeremiah 38:1 and
34. Gedaliah, official during Zedekiah’s reign, fl. within 597–586, Jeremiah 38:1 only, both referred to in a bulla discovered in the City of David in 2008. See “Corrections,” pp. 92–96; “Sixteen,” pp. 50–51; and the preceding endnote 31 and 32 for bibliographic details on E. Mazar, “Wall,” pp. 24–33, 66; idem, Palace of King David, pp. 68–71) and for the comments in the paragraph that begins, “After cautiously … ”

 

ASSYRIA

35. Tiglath-pileser III (= Pul), king, r. 744–727, 2 Kings 15:19, etc., in his many inscriptions. See Raging Torrent, pp. 46–79; COS, vol. 2, pp. 284–292; ITP; Mikko Lukko, The Correspondence of Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon II from Calah/Nimrud (State Archives of Assyria, no. 19; Assyrian Text Corpus Project; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2013); ABC, pp. 248–249. On Pul as referring to Tiglath-pileser III, which is implicit in ABC, p. 333 under “Pulu,” see ITP, p. 280 n. 5 for discussion and bibliography.

On the identification of Tiglath-pileser III in the Aramaic monumental inscription honoring Panamu II, in Aramaic monumental inscriptions 1 and 8 of Bar-Rekub (now in Istanbul and Berlin, respectively), and in the Ashur Ostracon, see IBP, p. 240; COS, pp. 158–161.

36. Shalmaneser V (= Ululaya), king, r. 726–722, 2 Kings 17:2, etc., in chronicles, in king-lists, and in rare remaining inscriptions of his own (ABC, p. 242; COS, vol. 2, p. 325). Most notable is the Neo-Babylonian Chronicle series, Chronicle 1, i, lines 24–32.  In those lines, year 2 of the Chronicle mentions his plundering the city of Samaria (Raging Torrent, pp. 178, 182; ANEHST, p. 408). (“Shalman” in Hosea 10:14 is likely a historical allusion, but modern lack of information makes it difficult to assign it to a particular historical situation or ruler, Assyrian or otherwise. See below for the endnotes to the box at the top of p. 50.)

37. Sargon II, king, r. 721–705, Isaiah 20:1, in many inscriptions, including his own. See Raging Torrent, pp. 80–109, 176–179, 182; COS, vol. 2, pp. 293–300; Mikko Lukko, The Correspondence of Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon II from Calah/Nimrud (State Archives of Assyria, no. 19; Assyrian Text Corpus Project; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2013); ABC, pp. 236–238; IBP, pp. 240–241 no. (74).

38. Sennacherib, king, r. 704–681, 2 Kings 18:13, etc., in many inscriptions, including his own. See Raging Torrent, pp. 110–129; COS, vol. 2, pp. 300–305; ABC, pp. 238–240; ANEHST, pp. 407–411, esp. 410; IBP, pp. 241–242.

39. Adrammelech (= Ardamullissu = Arad-mullissu), son and assassin of Sennacherib, fl. early 7th century, 2 Kings 19:37, etc., in a letter sent to Esarhaddon, who succeeded Sennacherib on the throne of Assyria. See Raging Torrent, pp. 111, 184, and COS, vol. 3, p. 244, both of which describe and cite with approval Simo Parpola, “The Murderer of Sennacherib,” in Death in Mesopotamia: Papers Read at the XXVie Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, ed. Bendt Alster (Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1980), pp. 171–182. See also ABC, p. 240.

An upcoming scholarly challenge is the identification of Sennacherib’s successor, Esarhaddon, as a more likely assassin in Andrew Knapp’s paper, “The Murderer of Sennacherib, Yet Again,” to be read in a February 2014 Midwest regional conference in Bourbonnais, Ill. (SBL/AOS/ASOR).

On various renderings of the neo-Assyrian name of the assassin, see RlA s.v. “Ninlil,” vol. 9, pp. 452–453 (in German). On the mode of execution of those thought to have been  conspirators in the assassination, see the selection from Ashurbanipal’s Rassam cylinder in ANET, p. 288.

40. Esarhaddon, king, r. 680–669, 2 Kings 19:37, etc., in his many inscriptions. See Raging Torrent, pp. 130–147; COS, vol. 2, p. 306; ABC, pp. 217–219. Esarhaddon’s name appears in many cuneiform inscriptions (ANET, pp. 272–274, 288–290, 292–294, 296, 297, 301–303, 426–428, 449, 450, 531, 533–541, 605, 606), including his Succession Treaty (ANEHST, p. 355).

 

BABYLONIA

41. Merodach-baladan II (=Marduk-apla-idinna II), king, r. 721–710 and 703, 2 Kings 20:12, etc., in the inscriptions of Sennacherib and the Neo-Babylonian Chronicles (Raging Torrent, pp. 111, 174, 178–179, 182–183. For Sennacherib’s account of his first campaign, which was against Merodach-baladan II, see COS, vol. 2, pp. 300-302. For the Neo-Babylonian Chronicle series, Chronicle 1, i, 33–42, see ANEHST, pp. 408–409. This king is also included in the Babylonian King List A (ANET, p. 271), and the latter part of his name remains in the reference to him in the Synchronistic King List (ANET, pp. 271–272), on which see ABC, pp. 226, 237.

42. Nebuchadnezzar II, king, r. 604–562, 2 Kings 24:1, etc., in many cuneiform tablets, including his own inscriptions. See Raging Torrent, pp. 220–223; COS, vol. 2, pp. 308–310; ANET, pp. 221, 307–311; ABC, p. 232. The Neo-Babylonian Chronicle series refers to him in Chronicles 4 and 5 (ANEHST, pp. 415, 416–417, respectively). Chronicle 5, reverse, lines 11–13, briefly refers to his conquest of Jerusalem (“the city of Judah”) in 597 by defeating “its king” (Jehoiachin), as well as his appointment of “a king of his own choosing” (Zedekiah) as king of Judah.

43. Nebo-sarsekim, chief official of Nebuchadnezzar II, fl. early 6th century, Jeremiah 39:3, in a cuneiform inscription on Babylonian clay tablet BM 114789 (1920-12-13, 81), dated to 595 B.C.E. The time reference in Jeremiah 39:3 is very close, to the year 586. Since it is extremely unlikely that two individuals having precisely the same personal name would have been, in turn, the sole holders of precisely this unique position within a decade of each other, it is safe to assume that the inscription and the book of Jeremiah refer to the same person in different years of his time in office. In July 2007 in the British Museum, Austrian researcher Michael Jursa discovered this Babylonian reference to the biblical “Nebo-sarsekim, the Rab-saris” (rab ša-rēši, meaning “chief official”) of Nebuchadnezzar II (r. 604–562). Jursa identified this official in his article, “Nabu-šarrūssu-ukīn, rab ša-rēši, und ‘Nebusarsekim’ (Jer. 39:3),” Nouvelles Assyriologiques Breves et Utilitaires2008/1 (March): pp. 9–10 (in German). See also Bob Becking, “Identity of Nabusharrussu-ukin, the Chamberlain: An Epigraphic Note on Jeremiah 39,3. With an Appendix on the Nebu(!)sarsekim Tablet by Henry Stadhouders,” Biblische Notizen NF 140 (2009): pp. 35–46; “Corrections,” pp. 121–124; “Sixteen,” p. 47 n. 31. On the correct translation of ráb ša-rēši (and three older, published instances of it having been incorrect translated as rab šaqê), see ITP, p. 171 n. 16.

44. Nergal-sharezer (= Nergal-sharuṣur the Sin-magir = Nergal-šarru-uṣur the simmagir), officer of Nebuchadnezzar II, early sixth century, Jeremiah 39:3, in a Babylonian cuneiform inscription known as Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (column 3 of prism EŞ 7834, in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum). See ANET, pp. 307‒308; Rocio Da Riva, “Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (EŞ 7834): A New Edition,” Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie, vol. 103, no. 2 (2013): 204, Group 3.

45. Nebuzaradan (= Nabuzeriddinam = Nabû-zēr-iddin), a chief officer of Nebuchadnezzar II, early sixth century, 2 Kings 25:8, etc. & Jeremiah 39:9, etc., in a Babylonian cuneiform inscription known as Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (column 3, line 36 of prism EŞ 7834, in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum). See ANET, p. 307; Rocio Da Riva, “Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (EŞ 7834): A New Edition,” Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie, vol. 103, no. 2 (2013): 202, Group 1.

46. Evil-merodach (= Awel Marduk, = Amel Marduk), king, r. 561–560, 2 Kings 25:27, etc., in various inscriptions (ANET, p. 309; OROT, pp. 15, 504 n. 23). See especially Ronald H. Sack, Amel-Marduk: 562-560 B.C.; A Study Based on Cuneiform, Old Testament, Greek, Latin and Rabbinical Sources (Alter Orient und Altes Testament, no. 4; Kevelaer, Butzon & Bercker, and Neukirchen-Vluyn, Neukirchener, 1972).

47. Belshazzar, son and co-regent of Nabonidus, fl. ca. 543?–540, Daniel 5:1, etc., in Babylonian administrative documents and the “Verse Account” (Muhammed A. Dandamayev, “Nabonid, A,” RlA, vol. 9, p. 10; Raging Torrent, pp. 215–216; OROT, pp. 73–74). A neo-Babylonian text refers to him as “Belshazzar the crown prince” (ANET, pp. 309–310 n. 5).

 

PERSIA

48. Cyrus II (=Cyrus the great), king, r. 559–530, 2 Chronicles 36:22, etc., in various inscriptions (including his own), for which and on which see ANEHST, pp. 418–426, ABC, p. 214. For Cyrus’ cylinder inscription, see Raging Torrent, pp. 224–230; ANET, pp. 315–316; COS, vol. 2, pp. 314–316; ANEHST, pp. 426–430; P&B, pp. 87–92. For larger context and implications in the biblical text, see OROT, pp. 70-76.

49. Darius I (=Darius the Great), king, r. 520–486, Ezra 4:5, etc., in various inscriptions, including his own trilingual cliff inscription at Behistun, on which see P&B, pp. 131–134. See also COS, vol. 2, p. 407, vol. 3, p. 130; ANET, pp. 221, 316, 492; ABC, p. 214; ANEHST, pp. 407, 411. On the setting, see OROT, pp. 70–75.

50. Tattenai (=Tatnai), provincial governor of Trans-Euphrates, late sixth to early fifth century, Ezra 5:3, etc., in a tablet of Darius I the Great, king of Persia, which can be dated to exactly June 5, 502 B.C.E. See David E. Suiter, “Tattenai,” in David Noel Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), vol. 6, p. 336; A. T. Olmstead, “Tattenai, Governor of ‘Beyond the River,’” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 3 (1944): p. 46. A drawing of the cuneiform text appears in Arthur Ungnad, Vorderasiatische Schriftdenkmäler Der Königlichen Museen Zu Berlin (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1907), vol. IV, p. 48, no. 152 (VAT 43560). VAT is the abbreviation for the series Vorderasiatische Abteilung Tontafel, published by the Berlin Museum. The author of the BAR article wishes to acknowledge the query regarding Tattenai from Mr. Nathan Yadon of Houston, Texas, private correspondence, 8 September 2015.

51. Xerxes I (=Ahasuerus), king, r. 486–465, Esther 1:1, etc., in various inscriptions, including his own (P&B, p. 301; ANET, pp. 316–317), and in the dates of documents from the time of his reign (COS, vol. 2, p. 188, vol. 3, pp. 142, 145. On the setting, see OROT, pp. 70–75.

52. Artaxerxes I Longimanus, king, r. 465-425/424, Ezra 4:6, 7, etc., in various inscriptions, including his own (P&B, pp. 242–243), and in the dates of documents from the time of his reign (COS, vol. 2, p. 163, vol. 3, p. 145; ANET, p. 548).

53. Darius II Nothus, king, r. 425/424-405/404, Nehemiah 12:22, in various inscriptions, including his own (for example, P&B, pp. 158–159) and in the dates of documents from the time of his reign (ANET, p. 548; COS, vol. 3, pp. 116–117).

 

Following are some individuals who are thought to be the same as seen in the Hebrew Scriptures, but are uncertain. Nevertheless, similarities of geography and names lead us to believe these are also accurate.

AMMON

Balaam son of Beor, fl. late 13th century (some scholars prefer late 15th century), Numbers 22:5, etc., in a wall inscription on plaster dated to 700 B.C.E. (COS, vol. 2, pp. 140–145). It was discovered at Tell Deir ʿAllā, in the same Transjordanian geographical area in which the Bible places Balaam’s activity. Many scholars assume or conclude that the Balaam and Beor of the inscription are the same as the biblical pair and belong to the same folk tradition, which is not necessarily historical. See P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., “The Balaam Texts from Deir ‘Allā: The First Combination,” BASOR 239 (1980): pp. 49–60; Jo Ann Hackett, The Balaam Text from Deir ʿAllā (Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1984), pp. 27, 33–34; idem, “Some Observations on the Balaam Tradition at Deir ʿAllā,” Biblical Archaeologist 49 (1986), p. 216. Mykytiuk at first listed these two identifications under a strong classification in IBP, p. 236, but because the inscription does not reveal a time period for Balaam and Beor, he later corrected that to a “not-quite-firmly identified” classification in “Corrections,” pp. 111–113, no. 29 and 30, and in “Sixteen,” p. 53.

Although it contains three identifying marks (traits) of both father and son, this inscription is dated to ca. 700 B.C.E., several centuries after the period in which the Bible places Balaam. Speaking with no particular reference to this inscription, some scholars, such as Frendo and Kofoed, argue that lengthy gaps between a particular writing and the things to which it refers are not automatically to be considered refutations of historical claims (Anthony J. Frendo, Pre-Exilic Israel, the Hebrew Bible, and Archaeology: Integrating Text and Artefact [New York: T&T Clark, 2011], p. 98; Jens B. Kofoed, Text and History: Historiography and the Study of the Biblical Text [Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2005], pp. 83–104, esp. p, 42). There might easily have been intervening sources which transmitted the information from generation to generation but as centuries passed, were lost.

Baalis, king of the Ammonites, r. early 6th century, Jeremiah 40:14, in an Ammonite seal impression on the larger, fairly flat end of a ceramic cone (perhaps a bottle-stopper?) from Tell el-Umeiri, in what was the land of the ancient Ammonites. The seal impression reveals only two marks (traits) of an individual, so it is not quite firm. See Larry G. Herr, “The Servant of Baalis,” Biblical Archaeologist 48 (1985): pp. 169–172; WSS, p. 322 no. 860; COS, p. 201; IBP, p. 242 no. (77); “Sixteen Strong,” p. 52. The differences between the king’s name in this seal impression and the biblical version can be understood as slightly different renderings of the same name in different dialects; see bibliography in Michael O’Connor, “The Ammonite Onomasticon: Semantic Problems,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 25 (1987): p. 62 paragraph (3), supplemented by Lawrence T. Geraty, “Back to Egypt: An Illustration of How an Archaeological Find May Illumine a Biblical Passage,” Reformed Review 47 (1994): p. 222; Emile Puech, “L’inscription de la statue d’Amman et la paleographie ammonite,” Revue biblique 92 (1985): pp. 5–24.

 

NORTHERN ARABIA

Geshem (= Gashmu) the Arabian, r. mid-5th century, Nehemiah 2:10, etc., in an Aramaic inscription on a silver bowl discovered at Tell el-Maskhuta, Egypt, in the eastern delta of the Nile, that mentions “Qainu, son of Geshem [or Gashmu], king of Qedar,” an ancient kingdom in northwest Arabia. This bowl is now in the Brooklyn Museum. See Isaac Rabinowitz, “Aramaic Inscriptions of the Fifth Century B.C.E. from a North-Arab Shrine in Egypt,” Journal of the Near Eastern Studies 15 (1956): pp. 1–9, Pl. 6–7; William J. Dumbrell, “The Tell el-Maskhuta Bowls and the ‘Kingdom’ of Qedar in the Persian Period,” BASOR 203 (October 1971): pp. 35–44; OROT, pp. 74–75, 518 n. 26; Raging Torrent, p. 55.

Despite thorough analyses of the Qainu bowl and its correspondences pointing to the biblical Geshem, there is at least one other viable candidate for identification with the biblical Geshem: Gashm or Jasm, son of Shahr, of Dedan. On him, see Frederick V. Winnett and William L. Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia (University of Toronto Press, 1970), pp. 115–117; OROT, pp. 75. 518 n. 26. Thus the existence of two viable candidates would seem to render the case for each not quite firm (COS, vol. 2, p. 176).

 

SOUTHERN KINGDOM OF JUDAH

Hezir (=Ḥezîr), founding father of a priestly division in the First Temple in Jerusalem, early tenth century, 1 Chronicles 24:15, in an epitaph over a large tomb complex on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, facing the site of the Temple in Jerusalem. First the epitaph names some of Ḥezîr’s prominent descendants, and then it presents Ḥezîr by name in the final phrase, which refers to his descendants, who are named before that, as “priests, of (min, literally “from”) the sons of Ḥezîr.” This particular way of saying it recognizes him as the head of that priestly family. See CIIP, vol. 1: Jerusalem, Part 1, pp. 178‒181, no. 137.

Also, among the burial places inside that same tomb complex, lying broken into fragments was an inscribed, square stone plate that had been used to seal a burial. This plate originally told whose bones they were and the name of that person’s father: “‘Ovadiyah, the son of G . . . ,” but a break prevents us from knowing the rest of the father’s name and what might have been written after that. Immediately after the break, the inscription ends with the name “Ḥezîr.” Placement at the end, as in the epitaph over the entire tomb complex, is consistent with proper location of the name of the founding ancestor of the family. See CIIP, vol. 1, Part 1, p. 182, no. 138.

As for the date of Ḥezîr in the inscriptions, to be sure, Ḥezîr lived at least four generations earlier than the inscribing of the epitaph over the complex, and possibly many more generations (CIIP, vol. 1, Part 1:179–180, no. 137). Still, it is not possible to assign any date (or even a century) to the Ḥezîr named in the epitaph above the tomb complex, nor to the Ḥezîr named on the square stone plate, therefore this identification has no “airtight” proof or strong case. The date of the engraving itself does not help answer the question of this identification, because the stone was quarried no earlier than the second century B.C.E. (CIIP, Part 1, p.179, no. 137–138). Nevertheless, it is still a reasonable identification, as supported by the following facts:

1) Clearly in the epitaph over the tomb complex, and possibly in the square stone plate inscription, the Ḥezîr named in the epitaph is placed last in recognition of his being the head, that is, the progenitor or “founding father” of the priestly family whose members are buried there.

2) This manner of presenting Ḥezîr in the epitaph suggests that he dates back to the founding of this branch of the priestly family. (This suggestion may be pursued independently of whether the family was founded in Davidic times as 1 Chronicles 24 states.)

3) Because there is no mention of earlier ancestors, one may observe that the author(s) of the inscriptions anchored these genealogies in the names of the progenitors. It seems that the authors fully expected that the names of the founders of these 24 priestly families would be recognized as such, presumably by Jewish readers. In at least some inscriptions of ancient Israel, it appears that patronymic phrases that use a preposition such as min, followed by the plural of the word son, as in the epitaph over the tomb complex, “from the sons of Ḥezîr,” functioned in much the same way as virtual surnames. The assumption would have been that they were common knowledge. If one accepts that Israel relied on these particular priestly families to perform priestly duties for centuries, then such an expectation makes sense. To accept the reasonableness of this identification is a way of acknowledging the continuity of Hebrew tradition, which certainly seems unquenchable.

See the published dissertation, L. J. Mykytiuk, Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E. (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004), p. 214, note 2, for 19th- and 20th-century bibliography on the Ḥezîr family epitaph.

Jakim (=Yakîm), founding father of a priestly division in the First Temple in Jerusalem, early tenth century, 1 Chronicles 24:12, on an inscribed ossuary (“bone box”) of the first or second century C.E. discovered in a burial chamber just outside Jerusalem on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, facing the site of the Temple. The three-line inscription reads: “Menahem, from (min) the sons of Yakîm, (a) priest.” See CIIP, vol. 1, Part 1, pp. 217–218, no. 183, burial chamber 299, ossuary 83.

As with the epitaph over the tomb complex of Ḥezîr, this inscription presents Yakîm as the founder of this priestly family. And as with Ḥezîr in the preceding case, no strong case can be made for this identification, because the inscriptional Yakîm lacks a clear date (and indeed, has no clear century). Nevertheless, it is reasonable to identify Yakîm with the Jakim in 1 Chronicles 24 for essentially the same three reasons as Ḥezîr immediately above.

Maaziah (= Ma‘aziah = Maazyahu = Ma‘azyahu), founding father of a priestly division in the First Temple in Jerusalem, early 10th century, 1 Chronicles 24:18, on an inscribed ossuary (“bone box”) of the late first century B.C.E. or the first century C.E. Its one-line inscription reads, “Miriam daughter of Yeshua‘ son of Caiaphas, priest from Ma‘aziah, from Beth ‘Imri.”

The inscription is in Aramaic, which was the language spoken by Jews in first-century Palestine for day-to-day living. The Hebrew personal name Miriam and the Yahwistic ending –iah on Ma‘aziah, which refers to the name of Israel’s God, also attest to a Jewish context.

This inscription’s most significant difficulty is that its origin is unknown (it is unprovenanced). Therefore, the Israel Antiquities Authority at first considered it a potential forgery. Zissu and Goren’s subsequent scientific examination, particularly of the patina (a coating left by age), however, has upheld its authenticity. Thus the inscribed ossuary is demonstrably authentic, and it suits the Jewish setting of the priestly descendants of Ma‘aziah in the Second Temple period.

Now that we have the authenticity and the Jewish setting of the inscription, we can count the identifying marks of an individual to see how strong a case there is for the Ma‘azyahu of the Bible and the Ma‘aziah being the same person: 1) Ma‘azyahu and Ma‘aziah are simply spelling variants of the very same name. 2) Ma‘aziah’s occupation was priest, because he was the ancestor of a priest. 3) Ma‘aziah’s place in the family is mentioned in a way that anchors the genealogy in him as the founder of the family. (The inscription adds mention of ‘Imri as the father of a subset, a “father’s house” within Ma‘aziah’s larger family.)

Normally, if the person in the Bible and the person in the inscription have the same three identifying marks of an individual, and if all other factors are right, one can say the identification (confirmation) of the Biblical person in the inscription is virtually certain.

But not all other factors are right. A setting (even in literature) consists of time and place. To be sure, the social “place” is a Jewish family of priests, both for the Biblical Ma‘azyahu and for the inscriptional Ma‘aziah. But the time setting of the Biblical Ma‘azyahu during the reign of David is not matched by any time setting at all for the inscriptional Ma‘aziah. We do not even know which century the inscriptional Ma‘aziah lived in. He could have been a later descendant of the Biblical Ma‘azyahu.

Therefore, as with Ḥezîr and as with Yakîm above, we cannot claim a clear, strong identification that would be an archaeological confirmation of the biblical Ma‘azyahu. We only have a reasonable hypothesis, a tentative identification that is certainly not proven, but reasonable—for essentially the same three reasons as with Ḥezîr above.

See Boaz Zissu and Yuval Goren, “The Ossuary of ‘Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests [of] Ma‘aziah from Beth ‘Imri’,” Israel Exploration Journal 61 (2011), pp. 74–95; Christopher A. Rollston, “‘Priests’ or ‘Priest’ in the Mariam (Miriam) Ossuary, and the Language of the Inscription,” Rollston Epigraphy (blog), July 14, 2011, www.rollstonepigraphy.com/?p=275, accessed October 10, 2016; Richard Bauckham, “The Caiaphas Family,” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 10 (2012), pp. 3–31.

Isaiah the prophet, fl. ca. 740–680, 2 Kings 19:2; Isaiah 1:1, etc., in a bulla (lump of clay impressed with an image and/or inscription and used as a seal) unearthed by Eilat Mazar’s Ophel Excavation in Jerusalem. It was discovered in a narrow patch of land between the south side of the Temple mount and the north end of the City of David. The bulla, whose upper left portion is broken off, reveals only two marks (traits) of an individual in the Bible, not three, which would have made a virtually certain identification of a Biblical person. The first mark is Isaiah’s name in Hebrew, Y’sha‘yahu, except for the last vowel, -u, which was broken off. No other letter makes any sense in that spot. This name and other forms of the same name were common in ancient Israel during the prophet Isaiah’s lifetime. The second mark of an individual is where he worked, as indicated by the place where the bulla was discovered. In this case, that seems to have been in or near Hezekiah’s palace, which, given the location of the royal precinct in the Jerusalem of Hezekiah’s day, was likely not far from where the bulla was discovered. Less than ten feet away from where this bulla was discovered, at the exact same level, the Ophel Excavation also discovered the royal bulla inscribed, “belonging Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, king of Judah.”

Although these facts may seem enough to make an identification of the prophet Isaiah, the case is not settled. On the last line of the bulla are the letters nby. These are the first three letters of the Hebrew word that means prophet, but they lack the final letter aleph to form that word. It was either originally present but broke off, or else it was never present. These same three letters, nby, are also a complete Hebrew personal name. We know that, because this name was found on two authentic bullae made by one stone seal and discovered in a juglet at the city of Lachish. Back to the bulla found by the Ophel Excavation: these three letters, nby, follow the name Y’sha‘yahu, exactly where most Hebrew bullae would have the name of the person’s father. As a result, to identify Isaiah the son of nby, (perhaps pronounced Novi), who apparently worked as an official in the palace, or possibly the Temple, is a perfectly good alternative to identifying Isaiah the prophet, son of Amoz. Therefore, a firm identification of Isaiah the prophet is not possible. He remains a candidate. See Eilat Mazar, “Is This the Prophet Isaiah’s Signature?” Biblical Archaeology Review, 44, no. 2 (March/April/May/June 2018), pp. 64–73, 92; Christopher A. Rollston, “The Putative Bulla of Isaiah the Prophet: Not so Fast,” Rollston Epigraphy, February 22, 2018; Megan Sauter, “Isaiah’s Signature Uncovered in Jerusalem: Evidence of the Prophet Isaiah?” Bible History Daily, February 22, 2018.

Shebna, the overseer of the palace, fl. ca. 726–697/696, Isaiah 22:15–19 (probably also the scribe of 2 Kings 18:18, etc., before being promoted to palace overseer), in an inscription at the entrance to a rock-cut tomb in Silwan, near Jerusalem. There are only two marks (traits) of an individual, and these do not include his complete name, so this identification, though tempting, is not quite firm. See Nahman Avigad, “Epitaph of a Royal Steward from Siloam Village,” IEJ 3 (1953): pp. 137–152; David Ussishkin, The Village of Silwan (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1993), pp. 247–250; IBP, pp. 223, 225; “Sixteen Strong,” pp. 51–52.

Hananiah and his father, Azzur, from Gibeon, fl. early 6th and late 7th centuries, respectively, Jeremiah 28:1, etc., in a personal seal carved from blue stone, 20 mm. long and 17 mm. wide, inscribed “belonging to Hananyahu, son of ‘Azaryahu” and surrounded by a pomegranate-garland border, and (WSS, p. 100, no. 165). This seal reveals only two marks (traits) of an individual, the names of father and son, therefore the identification it provides can be no more than a reasonable hypothesis (IBP, pp. 73–77, as amended by “Corrections,” pp. 56‒57). One must keep in mind that there were probably many people in Judah during that time named Hananiah/Hananyahu, and quite a few of them could have had a father named ‘Azariah/‘Azaryahu, or ‘Azzur for short. (Therefore, it would take a third identifying mark of an individual to establish a strong, virtually certain identification of the Biblical father and/or son, such as mention of the town of Gibeon or Hananyahu being a prophet.)

Because the shapes of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet gradually changed over the centuries, using examples discovered at different stratigraphic levels of earth, we can now date ancient Hebrew inscriptions on the basis of paleography (letter shapes and the direction and order of the strokes). This seal was published during the 19th century (in 1883 by Charles Clermont-Ganneau), when no one, neither scholars nor forgers, knew the correct shapes of Hebrew letters for the late seventh to early sixth centuries (the time of Jeremiah). We now know that all the letter shapes in this seal are chronologically consistent with each other and are the appropriate letter shapes for late seventh–century to early sixth–century Hebrew script—the time of Jeremiah. This date is indicated especially by the Hebrew letter nun (n) and—though the photographs are not completely clear, possibly by the Hebrew letter he’ (h), as well.

Because the letter shapes could not have been correctly forged, yet they turned out to be correct, it is safe to presume that this stone seal is genuine, even though its origin (provenance) is unknown. Normally, materials from the antiquities market are not to be trusted, because they have been bought, rather than excavated, and could be forged. But the exception is inscriptions purchased during the 19th century that turn out to have what we now know are the correct letter shapes, all of which appropriate for the same century or part of a century (IBP, p. 41, paragraph 2) up to the word “Also,” pp. 154 and 160 both under the subheading “Authenticity,” p. 219, notes 23 and 24).

Also, the letters are written in Hebrew script, which is discernibly different from the scripts of neighboring kingdoms. The only Hebrew kingdom still standing when this inscription was written was Judah. Because this seal is authentic and is from the kingdom of Judah during the time of Jeremiah, it matches the setting of the Hananiah, the son of Azzur in Jeremiah 28.

Comparing the identifying marks of individuals in the inscription and in the Bible, the seal owner’s name and his father’s name inscribed in the seal match the name of the false prophet and his father in Jeremiah 28, giving us two matching marks of an individual. That is not enough for a firm identification, but it is enough for a reasonable hypothesis.

Gedaliah the governor, son of Ahikam, fl. ca. 585, 2 Kings 25:22, etc., in the bulla from Tell ed-Duweir (ancient Lachish) that reads, “Belonging to Gedalyahu, the overseer of the palace.” The Babylonian practice was to appoint indigenous governors over conquered populations. It is safe to assume that as conquerors of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E., they would have chosen the highest-ranking Judahite perceived as “pro-Babylonian” to be their governor over Judah. The palace overseer had great authority and knowledge of the inner workings of government at the highest level, sometimes serving as vice-regent for the king; see S. H. Hooke, “A Scarab and Sealing From Tell Duweir,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 67 (1935): pp. 195–197; J. L. Starkey, “Lachish as Illustrating Bible History,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 69 (1937): pp. 171–174; some publications listed in WSS, p. 172 no. 405. The palace overseer at the time of the Babylonian conquest, whose bulla we have, would be the most likely choice for governor, if they saw him as pro-Babylonian. Of the two prime candidates named Gedaliah (= Gedalyahu)—assuming both survived the conquest—Gedaliah the son of Pashhur clearly did not have the title “overseer of the palace” (Jeremiah 38:1), and he was clearly an enemy of the Babylonians (Jeremiah 38:4–6). But, though we lack irrefutable evidence, Gedaliah the son of Ahikam is quite likely to have been palace overseer. His prestigious family, the descendants of Shaphan, had been “key players” in crucial situations at the highest levels of the government of Judah for three generations. As for his being perceived as pro-Babylonian, his father Ahikam had protected the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:24; cf. 39:11–14), who urged surrender to the Babylonian army (Jeremiah 38:1–3).

The preceding argument is a strengthening step beyond “Corrections,” pp. 103–104, which upgrades the strength of the identification from its original level in IBP, p. 235, responding to the difficulty expressed in Oded Lipschits, The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem: Judah under Babylonian Rule (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2005), p. 86 n. 186.

Jaazaniah (= Jezaniah), fl. early 6th century, 2 Kings 25:23, etc., in the Tell en-Naṣbeh (ancient Mizpah) stone seal inscribed: “Belonging to Ya’azanyahu, the king’s minister.” It is unclear whether the title “king’s minister” in the seal might have some relationship with the biblical phrase “the officers (Hebrew: sarîm) of the troops,” which included the biblical Jaazaniah (2 Kings 25: 23). There are, then, only two identifying marks of an individual that clearly connect the seal’s Jaazaniah with the biblical one: the seal owner’s name and the fact that it was discovered at the city where the biblical “Jaazaniah, the son of the Maacathite,” died. See William F. Badè, “The Seal of Jaazaniah,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentlishe Wissenschaft 51 (1933): pp. 150–156; WSS, p. 52 no. 8; IBP, p. 235; “Sixteen Strong,” p. 52.

 

Conclusion
The Historical and Archaeological evidence keeps on piling up each year in favor of the Scriptures, supporting our faith in the Scriptures to be a real Historical document rather than a Religious ideology.

Elul and the King in the Field – The meeting of Bride and Bridegroom

The Month of Elul which is the name given to the sixth month in God’s Calendar, precedes the Seventh month with God’s Appointed Times of Trumpets, Atonement & Tabernacles. The Fall Feast Days, as they are called denote the 2nd Coming of Yeshua, The Judgement and The 1000 Year Kingdom He is going to establish among His people, ending with a New Heaven and New Earth. So it’s no wonder that the month of Elul is considered a month of repentance and self-examination in the earnest wait to meet the coming King.

The word Elul is mentioned in Jewish Writings* to be an acronym which stands for “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” from Songs of Solomon 6:3, the actual phrase being “Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li” ( אני לדודי ודודי לי). This fits in with the picture of the Bridegroom(Yeshua) who weds the Bride (His People) at the End of Days.

Furthermore, This month has also been called** the month where “The King is in the field”. This denotes the Fall Harvest, where God sends out His Angels to collect the Wheat unto His Barn and burn the tares. It also shows a picture of a King who the worker may not see everyday, who has come in His abundant mercy, to meet the common man.

The Story of Rebekah & Isaac
How Rebekah meets Isaac is a picture and symbolizes how God chose Israel and how Yeshua is coming back for His People. Let’s look at the many Allusions made in the story of Rebekah and Isaac and how they speak about coming events and the Month of Elul when the King is in the Field.

Abraham sends his servant to procure a Bride for his son (Gen 24:1-10)
Eliezer was no simple servant. He was in line to inherit Abraham’s possessions as we see in Gen 15:2. He is tasked with finding a Bride for His Son from a far away land. In the same way, God tasks Moses, His Servant(Num 12:7) to go get Israel, His Bride(Jer 3:20) from a far away land. In the same way, God tasks Yeshua, His Servant(Mat 12:18) to go get Israel, His Bride(Joh 3:29, 2Cor11:2) from the ends of the earth, for a Newly Resurrected King – Yeshua.

Rebekah is willing to leave her life to be joined to Isaac (Gen 24:46,58)
Rebekah shows her love and kindness to Eliezer who by his message, makes up her mind to leave her present life for a suitor who she has not seen. Israel puts their trust in Moses and leaves a place which provided for them (Exo 16:3) to the promised Land and a God they have never seen. In the same way, we have chosen to follow Yeshua, leaving our old life, after believing He is the Saviour even though we have not seen Him

Rebekah is brought out by giving the bridal price (Gen 24:53)
Rebekah’s Kin is given “precious things” (H4030/G1435- Gift, Offering, Sacrifice) to take her away from them. Israel is brought out by the precious blood of a lamb and similarly we are also bought by the Blood of our Messiah – the unblemished Lamb(Joh 1:29)

Rebekah receives gifts as a promise from said suitor (Gen 24:22,53)
Eliezer gives precious jewels of Silver, Gold and Clothing to Rebekah as a deposit. Similarly Israel came out with a lot of jewels of Silver, Gold and clothing (Exo 12:35,36). In the same way Yeshua left the Holy Spirit with us as a pledge of the promise He has made(Eph 1:13,14)

Rebekah goes to her suitor with a procession (Gen 24:59,61)
Rebekah leaves her family, but does not travel alone – but with a procession. Israel also comes out with a mixed multitude(Exo 12:38). It is the same with the Bride of Yeshua (Rev 19:7-9). Some would be the Bride while others will be invited to be in the procession(Rev 19:7,9).

Isaac comes from the Well of the Living One Seeing Me (Gen 24:62)
Isaac is mentioned to come from the well known as “LahaiRoi” which means the Well of the Living One who sees me. This is an allusion to Both God(Psa 36:8,9) in Israel’s story of receiving the Covenant as well as Yeshua(John 4:10,11)

Rebekah covers herself with a Veil (Gen 24:65)
Rebekah puts on a cloth and covers herself just like a modern bride in front of her bridegroom, denoting modesty. This is the same way God wanted His people to act (through obeying His Covenant) and Yeshua wants us to live(1Co 7:34) as He is our Husband.

Isaac takes Rebekah to her mother’s Tent and makes her his wife (Gen 24:67)
Rebekah is then taken by Isaac with love, as a wife and given the tent of his mother. In the time of Israel, they reached the promised land as the completion of the promise that God gave them. In the same way, Yeshua has promised us that we will enter His Kingdom as a wife in the end of days(Rev 19:7).

Isaac & Yeshua – The King in the Field
Now we must also understand that Isaac was not just a normal man but a King/Lord. Abraham was a wealthy man with riches who even fought against Kings and was offered tribute (Gen 14:14-24). Kings made covenants of peace with both Abraham(Gen 21) and Isaac(Gen 26). Isaac was then a Prince and a King in the time. Now let’s read Isaac’s meeting of Rebekah.

Gen 24:63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.

This is a symbol of “The King in the Field”. Just as Isaac meets the Bride in the Field, Yeshua also comes to meet us especially at this time – the days of Repentance – The Days of Elul, before the “Day of Atonement” when everyone will be judged. The best time to call to Him and meet Him is the Days of this Holy appointment. As we await His Return for His Bride, let us make supplication at this time so that we may grow closer to our Heavenly Groom!

 

*Avudraham, Seder Rosh Hashanah, ch. 1; Reishis Chochmah, Shaar HaTeshuvah, ch. 4.
** Likkutei Torah – Re’eh 32b (English translation: Sichos In English, 5750) where it says “Before a king enters his city, its inhabitants go out to greet him and receive him in the field. At that time, anyone who so desires is granted permission and can approach him and greet him. He receives them all pleasantly, and shows a smiling countenance to all”

Judgement & Mercy – The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

Our God is Gracious! and as Children of God, we have all received an immense amount of Mercy, so that we can escape the impending Judgement through Yeshua‘s Sacrifice. But do we use this mercy in the right way? Do we squander it? What should we do as people who have received the gift of Mercy?

Our Iniquities and the mercy we have received
The writers of the Scriptures were quick to voice out how large and in-numerous our iniquities were, and how there was no way to be or say that we are righteous in any way.

Ezr 9:6 And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.
Psa 38:4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
Psa 40:12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.
Psa 130:3,4 If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
Psa 143:2 And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.
Job 9:2,3 I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.
Job 9:20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.

But we see how equally large God’s Mercy is. For the sake of keeping this article short, all of these verses will not be listed here. But you can read a small sample of how Merciful our God was, and is to this day here.

The Talent and The Denarii : Be Merciful to receive Mercy
In the Gospel of Matthew, Yeshua answers the question, how much forgiveness or Mercy should we show our Brother, by conveying a Parable.

Mat 18:23-35 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

In the Parable, the first Servant is found owing 10,000 Talents to the King. While “Ten thousand” Μυριων [Strong’s G3461], could mean a vast number which cannot be counted, we can actually calculate how much money this would be, if it was today. A Conservative estimate of 1 Roman Talent is said to be close to 6000 US Dollars. In fact, the Historian Flavius Josephus says that one of the richest Kings – King David had 3,000 Talents in his tomb.

And now Antiochus was so angry at what he had suffered from Simon, that he made an expedition into Judea, and sat down before Jerusalem and besieged Hyrcanus; but Hyrcanus opened the sepulcher of David, who was the richest of all kings, and took thence about three thousand talents in money, and induced Antiochus, by the promise of three thousand talents, to raise the siege. Moreover, he was the first of the Jews that had money enough, and began to hire foreign auxiliaries also. (THE WARS OF THE JEWS – Book 1, Chapter 2, v5 – Josephus)

So there is no doubt that 10,000 talents was a vast sum of money, even to a King; and it would have amounted (even at conservative figures) to about 60 Million USD.

Compared to this, the second servant owed only 100 Denarii (G1220-Denarion). A Roman Talent is said to be 6000 Denariis, which means the second servant owed something close to 100 Dollars.

Roman Talent = 6000 Denarii (Mnemonics delineated, in a small compass and easy method, Intended as a supplement to Grey’s Memoria technica – 1836 – Section 5, Page 98)

So, now we can see the point more clearly, of the Parable told by Yeshua. The first servant was forgiven a debt which was even a large amount for a King, while he imprisoned a man who owed him a few day’s wages. The mercy shown towards him should have made him better, so that he showed the same mercy towards others. Was the first servant rightly owed that 100 Denarii, the same way that the King was owed the 1000 Talents? Yes. But the difference is that while the King showed him leniency, by not only giving him time to pay the debt, but by clearing the servant of his debt, the servant did not even allow the second servant time to pay the simple sum of money.

Conclusion
In the same way, our iniquities are high as the heavens, and we cannot possibly pay the debt. Our judgement would be imprisonment till the debt is paid, which we will never be able to do on our own. But our King is willing and able to clear the debt completely if we simply repent and ask for leniency. But in turn, we must remember to show the same mercy shown towards us, which showcases that we are grateful for the gift of forgiveness we have received.

This is why our Messiah and many of the New Testament writers asked us to show mercy to our neighbour and  even to the ones who do not deserve it (Mat 5:44-45, Luk 6:35-36, Eph 4:32, 5:1-2, Col 3:13). So that we prove to others the amount of mercy we have received when our judgement should have been so grave.

2Sa 22:26 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.
Mat 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Jas 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Let us all strive to show mercy for the abundance of mercy we have all received!

 

Is Yeshua the Promised Messiah?

By the mere fact that this question is being raised, some Christians may feel uncomfortable or become enraged even. But this is a legitimate question when it comes to a person who is yet to accept Yeshua (Jesus’ true Hebrew name) as the Messiah. In my personal journey, I like many other Christians believed in the Old Testament because I believed in Jesus. But now I can confidently say that I believe in Yeshua because of the Tanakh (Old Testament).

The Scriptures were the basis for the New Testament writers to prove that Yeshua was truly the promised Messiah. Over and over, throughout the Gospels, we see the writers bring references from the Torah, Writings & Psalms to show how Yeshua fulfilled specific Prophecies, thereby proving to the reader that He is the promised One.

To the most part, Christians have grown up with the belief that Yeshua is this promised Messiah, and have had no need to question its authenticity.

Those who claimed to be or was pronounced to be Messiah

  1. Todah (Theudas) mentioned in Acts 5:36
  2. Judah HaG’lili (Judas of Galilee) mentioned in Acts 5:37
  3. Bar-Kosiba pronounced as Messiah by Rabbi Akiva in 132AD and given the name Bar-Kochva
  4. Sabbatai Zevi pronounced as Messiah in 1666
  5. Jacob Frank who proclaimed to be a Messiah in 1759
  6. Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994) who is believed to be the Messiah among the “Chabad” movement, and is said to be coming again.
  7. and many others…

Why believe Yeshua is the promised Messiah?
There are many prophecies about the Messiah in the Scripture, of which some prophecies are significant and clear while others are not. The clearest way to convincingly answer whether Jesus/Yeshua could be the promised Messiah would be to compare these Scriptures against His story. This story is laid out in detail throughout the 4 Gospels and some of the other Books and Letters of the New Testament. The main purpose of the Gospels were to prove to the reader that Yeshua is this promised Messiah. So let us compare the Prophecies and the fulfillments of the prophecies mentioned in the New Testament writings according to the witness of these writers who laid their lives for what they believed.

PROPHECY (Messiah must…) Scripture Reference Fulfillment
Be the Seed made of a woman
bruise the head of the serpent
Gen 3:15 Gal 4:4, 1Jn 3:8
Be the Seed of Abraham Gen 12:3 Mat 1:1, Gal 3:16
Be the Seed of Isaac Gen 17:19, 21:12 Mat 1:2, Luk 3:34,
Heb 11:17-19
Be the Seed of Jacab
Be the Star of Jacob
Gen 28:14,
Num 24:17-19
Mat 1:2, Luk 3:34,
Rev 22:16
Descended from Judah Gen 49:10 Mat 1:2-3, Luk 3:33,
Heb 7:14
Descended from David
Heir to the Throne
2Sam 7:12-13, Jer 23:5,
Isa 9:6,7, 11:1-5
Mat 1:6, Rom 1:3,
Luk 1:32
Exist Forever Micah 5:2 Joh 8:58, Col 1:15-19
Be the Son of God Psalm 2:7, Pro 30:4 Mat 3:17, Luk 1:32
Bear the Name of God (YHVH) Jer 23:5,6 Philip 2:9-11
To appear 69×7 Yrs after
rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem
Dan 9:25,26 Mat 2:1,16,19.
Luk 3:1,23
Born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2 Mat 2:1, Luk 2:4-7
Be born of a Virgin Isa 7:14 Mat 1:18-25,
Luk 1:26-35
Be Revered by Kings Psa 72:10,11 Mat 2:1-11
Follows a messenger who
prepares the way
Isa 40:3-5, Mal 3:1 Mat 3:1-3,
Luk 1:17, 3:2-6
Be anointed by the
Spirit of God
Isa 11:2, 61:1, Psa 45:7 Mat 3:16, Joh 3:34
Act 10:38
Be a Prophet like Moses Deut 18:15,18 Act 3:20-22
Liberate the afflicted, proclaim
freedom to the prisoners and
proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
Isa 61:1,2 Luk 4:18,19
Engage in a Healing Ministry Isa 35:5,6, 42:18 Mat 11:3-5
Lead a Ministry in Galilee Isa 9:1-2 Mat 4:12-16
Be Caring, Compassionate,
Meek & Humble
Isa 40:11, 42:1-3 Mat 12:15-21, Heb 4:15
To be Sinless Isa 53:9 1 Pet 2:22
Bear the Transgressions of others Psa 69:9, Isa 53:12 Rom 15:3
Be a High Priest after the order
of Melchizedek
Psa 110:4, Heb 5:5,6, 6:20, 7:15-17
Enter Jerusalem riding on a Donkey Zec 9:9 Mat 21:1-11, Mar 11:1-11
Enter the Temple with authority Mal 3:1 Mat 21:12 – 24:1,
Joh 2:13-22
Be hated without a cause Psa 69:4, Joh 15:24-15
Undesirable and rejected by
His own people
Isa 53:2, 63:3, Psa 69:8 Mar 6:3, Joh 1:11, 7:3-5
Rejected by the rulers Psa 118:22 Mat 21:42, Joh 7:48
Rejected by Jews & Gentiles alike Psa 2:1,2 Act 4:25-27
Betrayed by a friend Psa 55:12-14 Act 1:16-18
Mat 26:21-25, 47-50;
Be sold for 30 Pieces of Silver Zec 11:12 Mat 26:15
Pay the price for the Potter’s field Zec 11:13 Mat 27:3-10, Act 1:18,19
Must be abandoned by His disciples Zec 13:7 Mat 26:31,56
Be beaten with a Rod Mic 5:1 Mat 27:30
Be Beaten and Spat upon Isa 50:6 Mat 26:67, 27:30,31
Have His Feet and Hands Pierced Zec 12:10, Psa 22:16,17 Mat 27:35, Luk 24:39
Joh 20:25,27
Be craving of Thirst Psa 22:15 Joh 19:28
Be given Vinegar to Drink Psa 69:21 Mar 15:36, Joh 19:29
Have none of His bones broken Psa 34:20, Joh 19:33-36
Be Considered a Sinner Isa 53:12 Mar 15:28, Luk 22:37
Be put to death after 69×7 Yrs after
rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem
Dan 9:24-26 Mat 2:1, Luk 3:1,23
1Pet 3:18
Be a whose Death will be
atonement to all mankind
Isa 53:5-7,12 Mar 10:45, Joh 1:29, 3:16,
Acts 8:30-35
Be Buried among the Rich Isa 53:9 Mat 27:57-60
Rise again from the dead Isa 53:9-10, Psa 16:10,
Psa 2:7
Mat 28:1-20, Act 2:23-36,
Act 13:33-37
Be lifted up to the right hand of God Psa 16:11, 68:18, 110: 1 Luk 24:51, Act 1:9-11,
Act 7:55, Heb 1:3
Perform priestly duties in Heaven Zec 6:13 Rom 8:34, Heb 7:25, 8:2
Be the Cornerstone of
God’s Congregation
Isa 28:16, Psa 118:22,23 Mat 21:42, Eph 2:20,
1Pet 2:5-7
Be the Person to whom even
the Gentiles will turn to
Isa 11:10, 42:1 Mat 12:21, Rom 15:12,
Act 10:45
Be accepted by the Gentile Nations
as Ruler
Isa 49:1-12, Psa 18:49,
Deut 32:43, Psa 117:1
Rom 15:9-11
Fulfill God’s Appointed Days Lev 23 View the graph

Conclusion
While there are many claimants to the Messiah-ship of God, there is only one person in history who fulfilled a large array of Scriptures to prove that He is indeed the Messiah. Any person who is unsure whether He truly matches this position must read and compare the Scriptures with the writings of the New Testament to see whether these match up. To those of us who firmly believe that Yeshua is indeed the promised Messiah, we should also know the reason for that belief is all of the evidence laid out in the New Testament pointing at the Scriptures. The Scriptures and the many pieces of evidence it puts forth is why we believe that Yeshua, unlike other claimants, is the real “Messiah Ben Joseph” who will return someday as “Messiah Ben David”.

The meaning of the word “Hebrew” and Crossing Over

Estimated Reading time – 10 to 20 Minutes

God’s chosen people identified themselves as Hebrews both in the Old Testament(Jon 1:9) and in the New(Philip 3:5). Abram was the first person to be called a Hebrew, even though he was from Ur of the Chaldaeans(Gen 11:31). So what does “Hebrew” really mean?

The word Hebrew in its simplest sense means “one from beyond”.

H5680 – עברי – ‛ibrı̂y – Hebrew
Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary Definition:
Hebrew = “one from beyond”

Abraham's route from Ur to Canaan

Abraham’s route from Ur to Canaan

This makes sense, as the first time we see the word “Hebrew” used is when Abram is called a “Abram the Hebrew”. This may have referred to the fact that Abram came from the other side of the Euphrates River and settled in the plains of Mamre. A closely connected word to “Ivri”/”Hebrew” in the Hebrew language is “Eber” which means beyond/across. So one who comes across or comes from beyond is a Hebrew.

H5676 – עבר – ‛êber – Eber
Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary Definition:
region beyond or across, side, opposite side

Another word connected with “Ivri” (Hebrew) is “Avar” which means “pass over”. All of these words are connected as the root (Ayin-Bet-Resh עבר) in Hebrew stays the same.

H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar
Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary Definition:
to pass over or by or through, alienate, bring, carry, do away, take, take away, transgress
to pass over, cross, cross over, pass over, march over, overflow, go over, to pass beyond, to pass through, traverse, passers-through, to pass through, to pass along, pass by, overtake and pass, sweep by, passer-by, to be past, be over, to pass on, go on, pass on before, go in advance of, pass along, travel, advance, to pass away, to emigrate, leave (one’s territory), to vanish, to perish, cease to exist, to become invalid, become obsolete (of law, decree), to be alienated, pass into other hands, to be crossed, to impregnate, cause to cross, to cause to pass over, cause to bring over, cause to cross over, make over to, dedicate, devote, to cause to pass through, to cause to pass by or beyond or under, let pass by, to cause to pass away, cause to take away, to pass over

It should be noted that the story of Abraham is connected to the word “Abar” Pass-over, as we see it is one of the first things mentioned about him.

Gen 12:4-6 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through(H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar) the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

Israel crosses the Jordan on dry land

Israel crosses the Jordan on dry land

So it is now abundantly clear why Abram was called a Hebrew. This characteristic of “passing over” becomes part of the Hebrew experience, and is seen as part and parcel of the journey of God’s people as seen below.

Jos 24:2,3 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
Jos 24:6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
Jos 24:8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
Jos 24:14,15 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Israel crosses the Red Sea

Israel crosses the Red Sea

In the above passage Joshua makes a distinction between Abram before he passes over, to the life he is called to live after he crossed over. Abram served other gods beyond the river, but when he passed over, he was committed to God. This repeats again with Israel as they cross the Red Sea towards freedom and Israel as they cross the Jordan towards the promised land. Passing over was a distinct feature of God’s people. Passing over the waters as much as it is a physical act, it also signifies a symbolic act of leaving the past behind and starting afresh. This is enacted in the Baptism/Mikveh that each of us go through as young believers as well.

When God speaks to Moses about the passover sacrifice, He Himself says that He will Pass Over the land using the same word (H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar) which is connected to “Ivri” Hebrew, as seen below.

Exo 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.
Exo 12:23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

We see the same word (H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar) which is connected to “Ivri” Hebrew, used again in the Song of Moses, after the Hebrews cross the Red Sea.

Exo 15:16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.

Essentially, the Hebrew is a person who has passed from death to life; from a life of sin to a life of righteousness through God’s Commands; from obeying false gods to obeying the one true Creator of the universe.

Yeshua speaks of this fact, saying that whoever hears Him and puts his/her trust in YHVH, would pass from death to life:

Joh 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

What is the evidence that one has passed from death unto life and become a true Hebrew? John explains it in the following way.

1Jn 3:14-24 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

John explains that the evidence that we have moved from death to life, shines through the love of God which is in our lives. A love that is ready to give even our own life for others. A love that is not in word but in deed, but according to the commandment that Yeshua raised to the next level – “Love one another(Lev 19:18), as I have loved you”(John 15:12). Through God’s love, we show whether we are truly a Hebrew or not. Whether we have truly crossed over from Death to Life. Let us strive to be like the great Hebrews of old such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua and many more ; not forgetting Yeshua – A Hebrew of Hebrews, who gave His life so that we may cross over. Like the patriarchs, we may all have our shortcomings. But we should never forget the most important characteristic of a Hebrew – a willingness to cross over from our lives in slavery and death to a life in Covenant and Loving Obedience to God and Love towards everyone who has crossed over and is in the process of crossing over to God’s camp.

Passover and the Abomination of the Egyptians

Passover is intricately connected with the Blood of the “Lamb”, whether it be the remembrance of salvation through the Passover in Egypt or the fulfillment of Passover in Messiah who shed His blood on Passover day(John 19:14) as our Lamb(1Pet 1:19).

But most of us do not see the significance of God’s command to sacrifice a Lamb, especially when the Israelites were under the rule of the Egyptians.

Let’s look at the first hint given in Genesis when Joseph met his brothers for the first time:

Gen 43:32 And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

But why was it an abomination to the Egyptians to eat with Hebrews? No reason is given here. Many of us conclude that it would have been a cultural practice where the Egyptians saw themselves superior to the Hebrews. But this was not the reason it was seen as an abomination. Let’s look at the next hint:

Gen 46:33,34 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Now the reason starts to become clearer, as it is mentioned herding sheep was seen as an abominable act to the Egyptians. This is why the Hebrews were settled in Goshen, away from the Egyptians. But why did the Egyptians see shepherds as an abomination? Let us look at the next hint:

Exo 8:26 And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?

When Moses speaks to Pharoah and asks him to let the Hebrews go, so that they can sacrifice to YHVH, the Pharoah tells Moses to do their sacrifices inside Egypt. To which Moses replies in the above manner seen in Exo 8:26. The phrase “Abomination of the Egyptians” does not mean that they saw sheep as an unclean/abominable animal. On the contrary, they worshiped it. The phrasing is written in the perspective of the Israelites and not the Egyptians. Meaning the sheep was a sacred animal which was an abomination that the Egyptians were involved in, in the eyes of God and His people. We see evidence for this in the following verse.

2Ki 23:13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.

In the above verse we see that the “Abomination of the Zidonians” was “Ashtoreth”. The “Abomination of the Moabites” was “Chemosh”. The “Abomination of the Ammonites” was “Milcom”. These were all pagan gods that were abominations in the perspective of God and His people. In the same way, the “Abomination of the Egyptians” was the “sheep”. There is historical evidence that the sheep was venerated by the Egyptians, and this makes perfect sense of the first hint we saw in Gen 43:32 as they saw Hebrews as a people who raised, kept and killed sheep as livestock. This is why shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians as seen in Gen 46:33,34.

Pagan gods with the likeness of Sheep in Egyptian History
Khnum and Anum were the two main deities of the Egyptians that had a connection to the Sheep.

Khnum was one of the earliest-known Egyptian deities, originally the god of the source of the Nile. The worship of Khnum centered on two principal riverside sites, Elephantine and Esna, which were regarded as sacred sites. At Elephantine, he was worshipped alongside Anuket and Satis as the guardian of the source of the Nile River.

Amun is a major ancient Egyptian deity which was later fused with the Sun god, Ra, as Amun-Ra or Amun-Re. Amun-Ra held the position of transcendental, self-created creator deity and was positioned as King of Gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other gods became manifestations of him. With Osiris, Amun-Ra is the most widely recorded of the Egyptian gods and was depicted at one point as a ram-headed deity.

Prior to entering the Temple of Amun in Karnak, there is a long row of Sphinxese depicting the ram of the god amun with the king standing under its paws beneath its chin.

The first plague that came upon Egypt may have also targeted Khnum, as he was regarded as the guardian of the Nile.

Conclusion
One can only wonder whether the Hebrews were making bricks for such temples that depicted the sheep as a god figure. In such a background, now we can understand the true circumstances of having to sacrifice sheep to YHVH. Now we can understand why Moses goes to say “would they not stone us” if they sacrificed inside Egypt (Exo 8:26). The stakes were very high, as God was commanding the Hebrews to take a stand against the gods of Egypt. When they sacrificed the lambs at Passover, they would have had to have complete faith in God. If they were wrong, the Egyptians very well could have stoned them the next day for desecrating their land.

By asking to make a public display of the blood of the lamb, God was saying there is no other who can protect the Hebrews other than YHVH. And on the other end God was asking His people to put their faith in Him. To rise up against the abominations of Egypt and show that they are ready to follow God instead.

And there lies the parallel for us, as we enter the season of Passover. As we remember the death of Yeshua on Passover day according to the Gospels, let’s remember that we are also called to rise against the abominations of our past and put complete faith in him. Let us put our slavery to death behind us, and walk towards the Land God has promised His people. Amen.