Hammurabi and Zimri-Lim as Contemporaries of Solomon

 Image result for zimri-lim

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

If this reconstruction is correct, then it completely puts paid to the opinion that the Torah was influenced by the famous Law of Hammurabi. More likely, the Babylonian Code was based upon the law practiced in David’s and Solomon’s influential kingdom of Israel.

 

The following is a re-working of an old Christmas 2000 article of similar title.

 

Introduction

 

In an article published in 1986, entitled “The Dating of Hammurabi”, its author Professor George Albert Hickman, Dean of Toronto University, argued for an early C10th BC placement for King Hammurabi of Babylon (conventionally dated to c. C19th BC); thereby making him a contemporary of David and Solomon.

Hickman went even further than this and provided an outline revision of Mesopotamian history down to the mid-C9th, which, despite certain deficiencies, rendered some very plausible synchronisms between the Mesopotamian kings and their neighbours. Surprisingly though, as far as I am aware, Hickman’s article does not appear to have stimulated much interest or discussion amongst revisionists. One possible reason for this may be that he, like Velikovsky, was not able to offer a satisfactory revision of Mesopotamian history for the troublesome el Amarna [EA] period of Pharaoh Akhnaton (conventionally dated to c.1350 BC). The effect of Hickman’s revision, in bringing Hammurabi and his dynasty down some 800-900 years, into and beyond the C10th, was to clutter the EA period all the more. He made no real attempt to tie up the loose kings that he had circulating around in this period. This is unfortunate in that EA, probably more than any other period, is in need of a satisfactory solution as regards Mesopotamian chronology if the revision is to be taken seriously by the experts.

 

Here, though, I wish to consolidate one area only of Hickman’s research: the era of Solomon.

 

Now, just as Hickman began his interesting article with mention of Zimri-Lim, king of Mari – and certain events that occurred during his reign and that of his father, Iahdulim – it will be this same Zimri-Lim who will become the central character of this article. Hickman had managed to identify most of Zimri-Lim’s outstanding contemporaries with major characters of the C10 world, but he did not actually link Zimri-Lim or his father with any particular persons. The identification of Zimri-Lim, king of Mari, will therefore be the special task of this article.

 

I believe that a very satisfactory identification can be made between Zimri-Lim and Rezin (or Rezon), Syrian adversary of King Solomon, and son of Eliada (I Kings 11:23). It is wholly in keeping with the framework established by Hickman for the era of Hammurabi, Zimri-Lim’s contemporary, and may thus serve to reinforce Hickman’s thesis. Logically it must follow from this identification that Zimri-Lim’s father, Iahdulim/Yahdu-Lim, be identified with Rezin’s father, Eliada.

The similarity in the names Iahdulim and Eliada is actually quite striking.

 

Benjaminites and Davidites

 

Hickman found what he believed to be the people of Saul and David in the names “Benjamites” (Benjaminites) and “Dawidum” (Davidum), cited in “three date formulas” of the kings of Mari. It was customary for ancient kings to date certain years of their reigns with reference to notable historical events that occurred within those years. Thus the kings of Mari recorded these years:

 

  1. “The year in which Iahdulim went to Hen and laid hands on the territory of the Benjamites.”
  2. “The year that Zimri-Lim killed the Davidum of the Benjamites.”
  3. “The year after Zimri-Lim killed the Davidum of the Benjamites.”

 

Hickman was quite safe, from a linguistic point of view, in associating the “Benjamites” of the Mari Letters [ML] with the biblical Benjaminites. And, since Saul belonged to the tribe of Benjamin (I Samuel 9:1-2), he was quite entitled to suggest an identification between the “Benjamites” and the peoples ruled by Saul. André Lemaire concurred with this view that the “Benjamites” of ML corresponded in name precisely to the southern tribe of Israel. More controversial, though, was Hickman’s attempted revitalization of an old and not very popular theory according to which the word “dawidum” of the letters was thought to relate to David’s name. According to Lemaire, the word “dawidum” was actually derived from a word “dabduum” meaning “defeat”.

But more pressing than the linguistic question were the powerful historical reasons why, within the context of conventional reasoning, the ML could not possibly bear any references to King David or his era. It is an undisputed fact that Zimri-Lim was a contemporary of Hammurabi, king of Babylon. We know that Hammurabi eventually overthrew Zimri-Lim and brought destruction upon Mari. And, though historians may have found Hammurabi extremely difficult to date precisely, they certainly would not question that he preceded David by more than half a millennium. Though recently dated towards the end of the C19th, Hammurabi’s era tends to shift with variations ranging up to in excess of a century. No wonder then that Dr. Courville felt compelled to describe this great king of Babylon as “floating about in a liquid chronology of Chaldea”!

Hickman, however, not bound by the stifling strictures of conventional chronology, was free to re-assess the earlier connection between the “dawidum” and the name David. As regards Lemaire’s “dabduum” he noted that the use of the letter “b” instead of “w” or “v”, did “not conclusively exclude the possibility that a word meaning ‘David’” was intended in the letters; and that in the Old Testament Hebrew “the name of David is variously written ‘Dawid’ () and ‘Dabid’ b=(/) instead of “w” or “v” ().” Even though, as he said, “current archaeological wisdom precludes it”, Hickman felt inclined nonetheless to explore the possibility that “Dawidum” related to David and that Hammurabi belonged to the Davidic era.

 

Here we are concerned more with historical, than philological considerations.

 

Shamsi-Adad’s Identity

Hickman’s first notable identification between a Mari correspondent and a C10th character was to equate Shamsi-Adad I (c.C19th BC) with David’s mighty adversary, Hadadezer, the Syrian. Not only David, but Saul also, had to contend with the aggressive kings of Zobah in Aram, or ancient Syria (I and II Samuel). Yet, according to conventional opinion, the kings of Zobah (pronounced Tzobah) are not supposed to have left any inscriptions concerning their accomplishments. In CAH, we read that the name Zobah occurs in the Assyrian documents of the C8th and C7th’s as “Subatu, Subutu or Subiti”.Josephus called Zobah, “Sophene”, and its king, “Hadad”. Accordingly, Hickman identified Shamsi-Adad, son of Ilu-kabkabu, with biblical Hadadezer, son of Rekhob. And he added that the ubiquitous Shamsi-Adad’s best known city of Shubat-Enlil was to be equated with Hadadezer’s city of Zobah or Subatu. Hickman also provided an interesting explanation as to why he thought that Rekhob, the name of Hadadezer’s father, bore “some resemblance to Ilu-kabkabu”, the name of Shamsi-Adad’s father.

The next task was to identify the regions wherein lay the kingdom of Shamsi-Adad and his alter ego Hadadezer. Shamsi-Adad’s kingdom is known to have included the plain of Assyria, stretching southward through the middle Euphrates Valley almost to the latitude of Eshnunna.

Cities described as belonging to Hadadezer were Betakh, Berothai, Tibhath or Tebah, and Chun (2 Samuel 8:8 and I Chronicles 18:8). In CAH, Tebah is identified as Late Bronze Tubikhu, Chun as Late Bronze Kunu (Roman Conna), and Berothai tentatively as Bereitan, a town south of Baalbek. Hickman added that Berothai, thought to be north of Damascus, “is probably the same as Berothai of Ezekiel 47:16, between Hamath and Damascus”.

In a date- formula from Eshnunna the army of Iasmakh-Adad, the son of Shamsi-Adad, is called “The host of Shubartu and Khana”.

Hickman suggested that Khana may possibly refer to the city of Chun in I Chronicles 18:8; and that Shubartu may be derived either “from Zobah or from Sibraim” (Ezekiel 47:16).

Shamsi-Adad boasted that he had erected triumphal stelae in Lebanon. He was allied with princes of upper Syria, notably Carchemish and Qatna, and with Hammurabi of Babylon.
We know from Scripture that Hadadezer liked to set up victory monuments; David defeated him “as he went to set up his monument at the river Euphrates(I Chronicles 18:3). Scripture records also that the Syrian was ruler of the kings beyond the river (2 Samuel 10:16, 19), i.e. the Euphrates, as later records from Assyria confirm as well.

Hickman thought that “this description resembles that of Shamsi-Adad”.

Hadadezer opposed David with phenomenal forces, but was defeated by the Israelite king in two major campaigns. In the first campaign David took from the Syrian an incredible 1000 chariots, as well as 7000 horseman, and 20,000 footmen (I Chronicles 18:4). Hickman was interested to discover that Shamsi-Adad had informed one of his sons, Ishme-Dagan, that he could supply him with 20,000 troops; the same number as cited in Scripture. In the second campaign, Hadadezer allied himself with the Ammonites who had called upon him for help (II Samuel 10:6).

Hickman identified Shobach, “the commander of the army of Hadadezer” (II Samuel 10:16) with Shamsi-Adad’s pleasure-loving son, Iasmakh-Adad.

The Kingdom of Hamath

The first conflict between David and Hadadezer had occurred near Hamath, when Hadadezer went to recover his border at the river Euphrates. Hickman wondered if Hamath might be the state of Yamkhad. The Mari archive has enabled us to know the greatness of the Syrian kingdoms, which previously had been overshadowed by Babylonia especially. As Dalley put it: “… we now know that Syria had cities and monarchs equal in power and civilisation to Larsa and Babylon”. She added that Syria’s mightiest kingdom “was centred on Aleppo, ancient Halab in the state of Yamkhad”; Halab being “the mightiest of many kingdoms in Zimri-Lim’s day”.

Dalley could back up this claim simply by citing the very celebrated ML which stated that”:

 

There is no king who is mighty by himself. Ten or fifteen kings follow Hammurabi the ruler of Babylon, a like number Rim-Sin of Larsa, a like number Ibal-pi-el of Eshnunna, a like number Amud-pi-el of Qatanum, but twenty follow Yarim-Lim of Yamhad.

 

When David had defeated Hadadezer and his allies in the region of Hamath, a king of Hamath named To’i sent him tribute by the hand of his son Joram (2 Samuel 8:9). Hickman identified this Joram of Hamath with Iarim-Lim of Aleppo (Halab) in the kingdom of Yamkhad.

This Iarim-Lim may even turn out to be the great Hiram, ally of David and Solomon.

 

Indeed, I have since identified Iarim-Lim with Hiram, in:

 

King Hiram the Historical and Hiram Abiff the Hysterical

https://www.academia.edu/10289638/King_Hiram_the_Historical_and_Hiram_Abiff_the_Hysterical

 

The Syrian (Amorite) world was a conglomerate of kingdoms loosely united and oftentimes prone to fall out one kingdom with another. We read in Scripture that Hadadezer, for instance, called upon “the Syrians of Damascus” (II Samuel 8:5), and that the Ammonites hired “the Syrians of Beth-rehob, and the Syrians of Zobah” (II Samuel 10:6). Then there was the Syrian kingdom of Hamath, which may eventually have absorbed Zobah; hence “Hamath-zobah”. But, as we shall see, there could be serious conflicts amongst the Syrian kingdoms. Thus Rezin, son of Eliada, fell out with his master Hadadezer, and fled from him, and became leader of his own army (I Kings 11:23-24). The reason for this enmity will become clearer in the next section as we pursue the identity of Rezin and Eliada, with Zimri-Lim and Iahdulim of ML.

 

Like Hadadezer, Shamsi-Adad employed confederate Syrian kingdoms to assist him in his campaigns. But it seems that the aggressive Shamsi-Adad was nervous when it came to the Benjaminites and their kinsmen. Shamsi-Adad wrote to his son, who had seized Mari from Zimri-Lim’s father:

Reference:“..the proposal to take a census of the Benjamites, about which you have written me …. The Benjamites are not well disposed to the idea of a census. If you carry it out, their kinsmen, the Ra-ab-ay-yi, who live on the other bank, of the river, will hear of it.”
“They will be annoyed with them and will not return to their country. On no account should this census be taken!”

Hickman’s summary of this letter was that Shamsi-Adad, characterised as “the greatest figure of his generation”, who claimed control of “the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates”, was wary of the Israelites. He identified the “Ra-ab-ay-yi” of Shamsi-Adad’s letter, who were dwelling “on the other bank of the river”, with the Reubenites (one of the 12 tribes of Israel) who dwelt east of the Jordan river along with the tribes of Gad and Manasseh. Scripture records that these Transjordanian Israelites began to expand eastwards in Saul’s day, and began to engage the Hagarites (Arabs) in battle, and defeated them (I Chronicles 5 and II Chronicles 5).

Era of Solomon

Peace, which had been unknown in the time of Saul and David, came to Israel during the glorious reign of Solomon, David’s son and successor. David had smashed the mighty forces of Hadadezer king of Zobah, and had put garrisons in the land of Aram around and in Damascus; and the Syrians became servants to David and brought tribute (II Samuel 8:5-6). For more than 20 years Solomon reigned in peace and prosperity, with Israel’s enemies subdued on every side. It appears that Solomon absorbed both the kingdoms of Hadadezer and of the Aleppo region, because he took Hamath-zobah (II Chronicles 8:3). He built Tadmor in the wilderness – which was connected by a desert road to Mari – and he also built store cities in Hamath (8:4). Even after his 20th year of rule (II Chronicles 8:1), things were still going well for Solomon; for Scripture recalls the celebrated visit of Queen Sheba. See my:

 

Solomon and Sheba

 https://www.academia.edu/3660164/Solomon_and_Sheba

 

Solomon had an incredible 1400 chariots, and 12,000 horsemen with which to defend Jerusalem (I Kings 10:26).

But the happy situation was not to last. In the latter half of his long reign Solomon apostatised from Yahweh worship by courting the foreign gods of his wives (I Kings 11:4). Scripture names three adversaries who “lifted up their hand” against Solomon in those days (I Kings 11): Hadad, the Edomite; Rezin, son of Eliada, who had fled from his master Hadadezer king of Zobah and Jeroboam, an Ephraïmite.

It is this Rezin upon whom our attention will be focussed for the remaining pages.

From Rezin to Hammurabi

In identifying Rezin with Zimri-Lim, and his father, Eliada with Iahdulim, we are able to refine Hickman’s chronological scheme somewhat. Hickman had surmised that Zimri-Lim belonged to the time of David, which meant that Iahdulim was roughly contemporaneous with Saul: “Since … Iahdulim … mentions only the Benjamites [in the date-formula quoted earlier] he must belong to Saul’s time”. Hickman thought that there was reason to suspect “That the incursion of this [Iahdulim] into Benjamite territory resulted in Saul’s wars against Zobah and that Mari was associated with the Zobah kingdom”.

It seems that Hickman was correct in his last statement in that Iagit-Lim of Mari, who was Zimri-Lim’s grandfather, had once been an ally of Shamsi-Adad. But Iagit-Lim and Shamsi-Adad quarrelled eventually, with dire consequences. Iagit-Lim’s son and successor, Iahdulim – who claimed to have strengthened the foundations of Mari – was assassinated by his own servants. Shamsi-Adad then occupied the city of Mari, and set up his son, Iasmakh-Adad, as ruler. Zimri-Lim, the heir to the throne, was forced to flee for his life, spending many years in exile at Aleppo. Zimri-Lim returned to Mari about the 16th year of Hammurabi of Babylon, and ruled there for at least most of Hammurabi’s remaining years.

Since Shamsi-Adad’s death coincided with the 12th year of Hammurabi, Zimri-Lim apparently was returning to a less hostile environment, where he ruled for at least 17 years. For most of that time he and Hammurabi were on quite friendly terms with one another; but Hammurabi eventually turned against Zimri-Lim and, in his 33rd year, he came to Mari and dismantled its walls. However, this may not have been the end of Zimri-Lim because the number of years-names attested for his reign would indicate that he continued to rule Mari for some years after this event.

 

When we transfer all of these events onto a revised time plane, there emerges a more precise picture. Hadadezer (Shamsi-Adad), a one-time ally of Rezin’s (Zimri-Lim’s) grandfather, king of Mari, quarrelled with the king of Mari. Later, Eliada (Iahdulim), Rezin’s father, was assassinated by his servants – presumably at the instigation of Hadadezer – and Hadadezer’s son Shobach (Iasmakh-Adad) was established as ruler of Mari. The assassination of his father, and the occupation of the city throne to which he was heir, explains why Rezin “fled from his master Hadadezer king of Zobah” (I Kings 11:23).

We also now know the city to which Rezin fled, Aleppo, or Halab, in Hamath (Yamkhad).

Scripture goes on to record that “after the slaughter of David” (i.e. after David had slaughtered Hadadezer’s forces), Rezin “gathered men about him and became leader of a marauding band” (I Kings 11:24). Some of his band may have been remnants of Hadadezer’s decimated forces. We know from Scripture that it was just after Solomon’s 20th year as king of Jerusalem that adversaries began to spring up about him. Now, since Solomon’s 20th year is to be dated at approximately 950 BC, Rezin’s reign probably began shortly after that date.

What follows is a quotation of what Hammurabi wrote to Zimri-Lim:

 

“To Zimri-Lim communicate the following: Thus says your brother Hammurabi [of Yamhad]: The king of Ugarit has written me as follows: `Show me the palace of Zimri-Lim! I wish to see it.’ With this same courier I am sending on this man.”

 

Now since Zimri-Lim with whom we identify Rezin returned to Mari from exile “about the sixteenth year of Hammurabi”, Hammurabi’s 16th year must correspond closely to Solomon’s 20th year. It is more accurate to say, therefore, that Zimri-Lim was a contemporary of Hammurabi, it seems. Shamsi-Adad had died 5 years before Zimri-Lim returned from exile; in Hammurabi’s 12th year, approximating to Solomon’s 16th year. But he was already a spent force before that.

It is obvious then that the event of Zimri-lim’s return from exile in the 16th year of Hammurabi is a very crucial clue for organizing a chronology of this period; especially when it is associated with Rezin’s return from exile. Scripture does not say that Rezin seized Mari on his return, but Damascus, where he was made king (I Kings 11:24).

We cannot determine whether he took Damascus or Mari first.

Chances are that Rezin was, as Hickman described Shamsi-Adad: “… continually on the move and did not really possess a capital”.

A Syrian, as was Hadadezer also, Rezin too remained a foe of the House of David. Scripture records that Rezin “was an adversary of Israel all the days of Solomon, doing mischief as Hadad [the Edomite] did; and he abhorred Israel and reigned over Syria” (I Kings 11:25). After that, Scripture has no more to say about Rezin, and we have to turn back to ML. Actually the historical evidence matches the scriptural data very well, if we are correct in associating Zimri-Lim’s return from exile in Aleppo with that of Rezin. In both cases the master or overlord of the Syrians was dead. We know that Zimri-lim and Rezin ruled for close to two decades. Zimri-Lim definitely ruled for 17 years, until Hammurabi’s sack of Mari; and he may have ruled somewhat longer, as the inscriptions indicate. Rezin saw out at least 17-20 years of Solomon’s 40 year reign (I Kings 11:42); and he may have survived partly into the next reign; though we hear no more about him.

 

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