Hiram as Idrimi of Alalakh
Damien F. Mackey
“Level VII [at Alalakh], which did not contain the [characteristic] pottery,
was the level containing the inscribed tablets of the Yarim-Lim dynasty.”
To flesh out historically the biblical kings David and Solomon (c. C10th BC) one needs also to:
- delve right back to a conventionally-estimated Syro-Mesopotamia of the era of c. 1800 BC so as to locate their contemporaries in Rekhob and Hadadezer (historically, Uru-kabkabu and Shamsi-Adad I); Eliada and Rezon (historically, Iahdulim and Zimri-Lim); and Hiram (historically, Iarim-Lim); and then to
- dip into the conventionally-estimated Egypt of the era of c. 1500 BC to locate their Eighteenth Dynasty contemporaries in (Thutmose I and II), “Queen of Sheba” and “Shishak” (historically, Hatshepsut and Thutmose III).
In what will follow here, that same conventionally-estimated (but quite incorrect) era for the Eighteenth Egyptian dynasty (c. 1500 BC) will also to found to contain a colourful character who may be yet another face of the biblical king Hiram.
Hiram as Idrimi
I had previously sought to identify this Idrimi (conventionally dated to c. 1500 BC) with one of King Solomon’s three adversaries (I Kings 11:14-26) namely, Hadad, or Hadar, the Edomite: “That name, Hadar, is the same as Hadoram (Adoram), and, as it seems to me, as Idrimi”.
But Hadoram (Adoram), or Adoniram, are also names that can be associated with the Hebrew name, Joram, and also with Hiram, as according to Abarim:
Associated Biblical names
Moreover, the geography of Idrimi, Alalakh, is much more befitting of Hiram, as Iarim-Lim.
Thus I would write, in my university thesis:
A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah
and its Background
the following (very Courville-based) sections regarding Iarim-Lim, the Philistines (Cretans) and the archaeology of Alalakh:
The Earlier Philistine History
It remains to be determined whether or not the Philistines can be traced all the way back to Crete in accordance with the biblical data; though obviously, from what has been said, to well before the time of the ‘Sea Peoples’, whose immediate origins were Aegean, not Cretan.
Courville has looked to trace just such an archaeological trail, back through the era of the late Judges/Saul; to Alalakh (modern Atchana) at the time of Iarim-Lim (Yarim-Lim) of Iamkhad (Yamkhad) and Hammurabi of Babylon; and finally to Crete in early dynastic times. I shall be basically reproducing Courville here, though with one significant chronological divergence, in regard to his dating of the Alalakh sequences. Courville has, according to my own chronological estimation for Hammurabi and Iarim-Lim, based on Hickman … dated the Hammurabic era about four centuries too early (as opposed to the conventional system’s seven centuries too early) on the time scale. Courville had wonderfully described Hammurabi as “floating about in a liquid chronology of Chaldea”, just after his having also correctly stated that: … “Few problems of ancient chronology have been the topic of more extensive debate among scholars than the dates to be ascribed to the Babylonian king Hammurabi and his dynasty …”. And so he set out to establish Hammurabi in a more secure historical setting. This, I do not think he managed successfully to achieve however.
Courville’s re-location of Hammurabi to the approximate time of Joshua and the Conquest is still fairly “liquid” chronologically, as it seems to me, without his having been able to establish any plausible syncretisms beyond those already known for Hammurabi (e.g. with Shamsi-Adad I and Zimri-Lim). Revisionist Hickman on the other hand, despite his radical lowering of the Hammurabic era even beyond the standard [Velikovsky-date lowering] scale, by about seven centuries to the time of kings David and Solomon (c. C10th BC), has been able to propose and develop what are to my way of thinking some promising syncretisms, e.g. between David’s Syrian foe, Hadadezer, and Shamsi-Adad I (c. 1809-1776 BC, conventional dates), with the latter’s father Ilu-kabkabu being the biblical Rekhob, father of Hadadezer (2 Samuel 8:3); … and between Iarim-Lim and the biblical Joram (var. Hadoram), son of To’i, and prince of Hamath (cf. 2 Samuel 8:10 & 1 Chronicles 18:10).
I shall have cause to re-visit some of these kings in the following chapter.
So now, with Hammurabi and his era somewhat more securely located, as I think, than according to Courville’s proposed re-location – and hence with the potential for a more accurate archaeological matrix – we can continue on with Courville’s excellent discussion of the archaeology of the early Philistines: ….
VIII. The Culture of the Sea Peoples in the Era of the Late Judges
The new pottery found at Askelon [Ashkelon] at the opening of Iron I, and correlated with the invasion of the Sea Peoples, was identified as of Aegean origin. A similar, but not identical, pottery has been found in the territory north of Palestine belonging to the much earlier era of late Middle Bronze. By popular
views, this is prior to the Israelite occupation of Palestine. By the altered chronology, this is the period of the late judges and the era of Saul.
… That the similar pottery of late Middle Bronze, occurring both in the north and in the south, is related to the culture found only in the south at the later date is apparent from the descriptions of the two cultures. Of this earlier culture, which should be dated to the time of Saul, Miss Kenyon commented:
The pottery does in fact provide very useful evidence about culture. The first interesting point is the wealth of a particular class of painted pottery …. The decoration is bichrome, nearly always red and black, and the most typical vessels have a combination of metopes enclosing a bird or a fish with geometric decoration such as a “Union Jack” pattern or a Catherine wheel. At Megiddo the first bichrome pottery is attributed to Stratum X, but all the published material comes from tombs intrusive into this level. It is in fact characteristic of Stratum IX. Similar pottery is found in great profusion in southern Palestine … Very similar vessels are also found on the east coast of Cyprus and on the coastal Syrian sites as far north as Ras Shamra. [Emphasis Courville’s]
Drawings of typical examples of this pottery show the same stylized bird with
back-turned head that characterized the pottery centuries later at Askelon. … The anachronisms and anomalies in the current views on the interpretation of this invasion and its effects on Palestine are replaced by a consistent picture, and one that is in agreement with the background provided by Scripture for the later era in the very late [sic] 8th century B.C.
Courville now turns to the archaeology at the site of Alalakh on the shore of the Mediterranean at its most northeast protrusion, in order “to trace this culture one step farther back in time” (though in actual fact, by my chronology, it will bring him to approximately the same time – though a different place). ….
- The Culture of Level VI at Alalakh Is Related to That of the Philistines
He commences by recalling Sir Leonard Woolley’s investigations at this site in the
1930’s, during which Woolley discovered “seventeen archaeological levels of occupation”:
A solid synchronism is at hand to correlate Level VII at Alalakh with the era of Hammurabi of the First Dynasty at Babylon …. The basis for this synchronism is found in the Mari Letters where it is stated that “… there are ten or fifteen kings who follow Hammurabi of Babylon and ten or fifteen who follow Rim-sin of Larsa but twenty kings follow Yarim-Lim of Yamkhad”.
Investigations at Alalakh revealed numerous tablets inscribed in cuneiform, most of which are by the third of the three kings of the dynasty, Yarim-Lim by name.
…. Since the First Dynasty at Babylon was of Amorite origin, then so also was the Yarim-Lim dynasty of Amorite origin.
In the reports by Woolley, he indicates the find at Alalakh of two characteristic pottery types which were designated as “White-Slip milk bowls” and “Base-Ring Ware”. As the digging proceeded downward, he found that such types of pottery were plentiful in Level VI, all but disappeared in Level VII, and then reappeared in all levels from VIII to XVI. Level VII, which did not contain the pottery, was the level containing the inscribed tablets of the Yarim-Lim dynasty. The obvious conclusion was that the people of Yarim-Lim (Amorites) had conquered this city and probably also the surrounding territory, ruling it for a period estimated to have been about 50 years. At the end of this time, the original inhabitants were able to reconquer the site and reoccupy it.
Courville now turns his attention to seeking an identity for the people from whom the city of Alalakh was taken for about half a century, but who then reoccupied it: ….
What then was this culture like …? We let Woolley tell us about the culture:
… We do indeed know extremely little about the Level VI buildings. It is to the pottery that we must look for information about Level VI, and the pottery can tell us a good deal. On the one hand we have what I have called the “nationalist revival” of the traditional painted ware which had been suppressed under the late regime, and some examples of this are perfect replicas of the old both in form and in decoration, but as time goes on, there appear modifications of the long-established types – instead of the isolated and static figures of birds or animals these become active and are combined in running scenes surrounding the whole pot without the interruption of the triglyph-like partitions which were once the rule … For the first time we get a polychrome decoration in red and black paint on a buff surface, and the design includes not only birds but the “Union Jack” motive which is specially characteristic of contemporary Palestine … [Emphasis Courville’s]
As one examines this pottery description, he will be struck with the notable similarities of decoration found on the pottery at Megiddo for the era of Philistine occupation in the time of Saul. There is the same use of red and black paint, the similar use of birds as a decoration motif, and the same use of the “Union Jack”.
Finally, Courville traces this distinctive archaeological path all the way back to Crete. I am giving only the barest outlines of his discussion here: ….
- The Sea Peoples of Crete
With the evidences thus far noted before us, we are now in a position to examine the archaeological reports from Crete for evidences of the early occupation of this site by the Caphtorim (who are either identical to the Philistines of later Scripture or are closely related to them culturally). We now have at least an approximate idea of the nature of the culture for which we are looking …. … we can hardly be wrong in recognizing the earliest occupants of Crete as the people who represented the beginnings of the people later known in Scripture as the Philistines, by virtue of the stated origin of the Philistines in Crete. This concept holds regardless of the name that may be applied to this early era by scholars.
The only site at which Cretan archaeology has been examined for its earliest occupants is at the site of the palace at Knossos. At this site deep test pits were dug into the earlier occupation levels. If there is any archaeological evidence available from Crete for its earliest period, it should then be found from the archaeology of these test pits. The pottery found there is described by Dr. Furness, who is cited by Hutchinson.
“Dr. Furness divides the early Neolithic I fabrics into (a) coarse unburnished ware and (b) fine burnished ware, only differing from the former in that the pot walls are thinner, the clay better mixed, and the burnish more carefully executed. The surface colour is usually black, but examples also occur of red,
buff or yellow, sometimes brilliant red or orange, and sometimes highly variegated sherds”.
A relation was observed between the decoration of some of this pottery from early Neolithic I in Crete with that at the site of Alalakh ….
Continuing to cite Dr. Furness, Hutchinson commented:
Dr. Furness justly observes that “as the pottery of the late Neolithic phases seems to have developed at Knossos without a break, it is to the earliest that one must look for evidence of origin of foreign connections”, and she therefore stresses the importance of a small group with plastic decoration that seems mainly confined to the Early Neolithic I levels, consisting of rows of pellets immediately under the rim (paralleled on burnished pottery of Chalcolithic [predynastic] date from Gullucek in the Alaca [Alalakh] district of Asia Minor). [Emphasis Courville’s]
While the Archaeological Ages of early Crete cannot with certainty be correlated with the corresponding eras on the mainland, it would seem that Chalcolithic on the mainland is later than Early Neolithic in Crete; hence any influence of one culture on the other is more probably an influence of early Cretan culture on that of the mainland. This is in agreement with Scripture to the effect that the Philistines migrated from Crete to what is now the mainland at some point prior to the time of Abraham. ….