SV: [ANE-2] Re: Origins of the Book of Kings
- This long discussion suffers from the usual thing about biblically based
historical studies: there is so little we know, and so many assumptions.
What kind of facts do we really have -- including the presence of the
first manuscripts of Kings? A nice catalogue would be a good starter.
Then an explanation must be sought that covers all factual evidence in
our possession, biblical as well as Mesopotamian and Egyptian and
information relating to other quarters.
When Berossos gets in, we have another problem: we have so very little
of Hellenistic historiography preserved that it is rather difficult to
get a proper impression of it. Fragments here and there, quotes, etc.
but no history like Herodotus, nothing really from the third century.
(That's why I sometimes have said that the biblical historical narrative
has more in common with Titus Livius than with Herodotus, Livius having
read those lost Greek historiographers).
This means that it is quite a hard job to access the way a person like
Preservation of tradition is another matter. Whose memories? The
Assyrians began this habit (relating to Palestine and the rest of the
Levant) in the 8th century, meaning that there were people of western
origins in Mesopotamia before 700. Again we know very little about them,
and little about how they assimilated, about their memories of the past
and lost "Heimat." And very little about their receptions of new groups
of deported people. We do not know about relations with the homeland, if
there were any.
However, when we turn to Palestine itself, and look at the consequences
of the Babylonian conquest, the country was simply devastated, and
especially the Jerusalem area lay forsaken. However, north of Jerusalem
much was left intact. A tradition about "Israel" may have survived there
because the population there remained quite untouched by the events
following 597 (587 if we also accept that date as historical).
I could continue in this way for a long time, but the point is that we
know so little. It would be especially nice to know more about relations
between people living in Palestine in the Persian Period, and people
living in Mesopotamia and Egypt. There are definitely remembrance of
Mesopotamia included in biblical literature, but also of Palestine, and
Egypt. The problems is_ when did such traditions merge into one
consistent narrative as found in Kings, or better the DtrH and the
Pentateuch -- if not the Enneateuch as becoming a more and more popular
expression of the historical narrative from Genesis to 2 Kings. I object
to any simplistic solution being related to Mesopotamia or to Jerusalem.
Niels Peter Lemche
- The episodes you mention predate the Babylonian Chronicles and do not
involve the Mesopotamian empires.
There may be historical material in Kings not derived from the Babylonian
Ahab was described as going to fight the King of Aram in Ramath Gilead
east of the Jordan River (Ramath Gilead was supposed to be the birthplace of
Elijah the Tishbite). This would have been near the land of the Moabites.
Ahab was killed in the battle.
The Moabite stela claimed Mesha killed the son of Omri and took land from
Israel. Mesha of Moab may have sided with Aram at Ramath Gilead and used
the Aramaen victory to temporarily displace Israel as claimed in his stela.
2Kings 1:1 After Ahab's death, Moab rebelled against Israel.
In Kings 3 Israel claimed Mesha and Moab who used to be subservient had
rebelled and afterward Israel entered Moab with a large force attacking from
the direction of Edom to the south instead of Aram to the north put down
Was this history in Kings II not from Berossus?
David Q. Hall
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