Mohammed’s Anachronistic ‘Contemporaries’: Heraclius, Khosrau, Nehemiah, Shahrbaraz

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by

Damien F. Mackey

 

“I am not saying that this “Nehemiah” and his supposed C7th AD contemporaries, “Khosrau”, “Heraclius”, and “Mohammed” [and Shahrbaraz], have no historical basis whatsoever, but rather that “they all” are non-historical composites based on real ancient (BC) historical notables”.

 

That is what I wrote in my article:

Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time. Part Three (i): A Late, Fake Persian Empire

https://www.academia.edu/30037958/Two_Supposed_Nehemiahs_BC_time_and_AD_time._Part_Three_i_A_Late_Fake_Persian_Empire

 

 

‘Something is very rotten in the state of’ a part of our conventional AD history.

  

 

Introduction

 

What! What! What! The Byzantine emperor, Heraclius (reign, 610 to 641 AD), fighting a “Battle of Nineveh” in 627 AD!

And here I am mistakenly under the impression that the city of Nineveh was completely destroyed in c. 612 BC, and that it lay hopelessly dead and buried until it was archaeologically resurrected by Layard in the mid-C19th AD.

But perhaps I am not alone in thinking this. For, according to: http://www.bible-history.com/assyria_archaeology/archaeology_of_ancient_assyria_nineveh.html

 

Nineveh was the famous capital of ancient [Assyria] and one of the mightiest cities of all antiquity. It is situated on the east bank of the Tigris River just opposite modern Mosul. According to the Scriptures Nimrod was the founder of Nineveh.

 

Genesis 10:11

11 “From that land he (Nimrod) went to Assyria and built Nineveh.”

 

The ancient Hebrew prophets foretold of Nineveh’s destruction and utter desolation:

 

Nahum 2:8-10

“Though Nineveh of old was like a pool of water, Now they flee away. ‘Halt! Halt!” they cry; But no one turns back. Take spoil of silver! Take spoil of gold! There is no end of treasure, Or wealth of every desirable prize. She is empty, desolate, and waste! The heart melts, and the knees shake; Much pain is in every side, And all their faces are drained of color.”

 

In fact Nineveh was so laid waste that it was considered a total myth of the Bible throughout most of the recent centuries, that is until it was discovered by Sir Austen Layard in the nineteenth century. The site of ancient Nineveh was extensively excavated and its occupational levels reach far back to the beginning of civilization.

 

[End of quotes]

 

—————————————————————————————————————-

“The importance of Heraclius‘ reign as a historical watershed was recognized

by Gibbon two hundred years ago”.

—————————————————————————————————————-

 

That there is something quite rotten about our historical perception of this so-called “Dark Age” era is apparent from the research of German scholars, Heribert Illig and Dr. Hans-Ulrich Niemitz, the latter of whom has written, in “Did the Early Middle Ages Really Exist?” http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/volatile/Niemitz-1997.pdf

 

The easiest way to understand doubts about the accepted chronology and ‘well-known’ history is to seriously systematize the problems of medieval research. This will lead us to detect a pattern which proves my thesis and gives reason to assume that a phantom period of approximately 300 years has been inserted between 600 AD to 900 AD, either by accident, by misinterpretation of documents or by deliberate falsification (Illig 1991). This period and all events that are supposed to have happened therein never existed. Buildings and artifacts ascribed to this period really belong to other periods. To prove this the Carolingian Chapel at Aachen will serve as the first example. ….

[End of quote]

 

Revisionist historians are well aware of the so-called “Dark Ages” period (c. 1200-700 BC) that has been artificially imposed upon, say, ancient Hittite and Greek history, and well exposed by Peter James et al. in Centuries of Darkness. In the same year that this book was first published, in 1991, German historian Heribert Illig wrote his “Phantom Time Hypothesis”. Just as Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky had pioneered a revision of BC history, so have these German writers, Illig and Niemitz, done the same for AD history. And I believe that both efforts were necessary, though I am far from accepting, in either case (the BC or the AD revision), all of the details of these pioneering works. And this last comment leads me to mention another enthusiastic reviser of ancient history, Emmet Scott, who has now also become vitally interested and well-informed about the AD revision. I neither accept all of Scott’s efforts in BC or AD, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading his helpful A Guide to the Phantom Dark Age, at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=lIpYAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=emmet+s

For an English speaker, such as I, it is easier reading than the above-mentioned German efforts, and Emmet manages to fill in some areas that they may have left untouched. I thoroughly recommend the reading of this book, though with those reservations to be kept in mind.

 

Nineveh

 

But, getting back to Nineveh, it figures again in the biography of the prophet Mohammed, whose period of floruit, from his first supposed revelation until his death (610-632 AD), is practically identical to that conventionally assigned to emperor Heraclius (610 to 641 AD). Mohammed, I have argued (and others who have written somewhat similarly, e.g., E. Scott), was by no means a true historical character but something of a biblical composite.

 

See my:

 

Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History

 

https://www.academia.edu/12500381/Biography_of_the_Prophet_Mohammed_Muhammad_Seriously_Mangles_History

 

There we learned that Mohammed had supposedly encountered a young man from Nineveh – quite an anomaly. And the pair are said to have discussed the prophet Jonah, whom Mohammed called his “brother”.

I followed up this Part One with:

 

Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Two: From Birth to Marriage

 

https://www.academia.edu/28216595/Biography_of_the_Prophet_Mohammed_Muhammad_Seriously_Mangles_History._Part_Two_From_Birth_to_Marriage

 

Strangely, then, we are finding that the ancient city of Nineveh, destroyed in the late C7th BC, and not uncovered again until the mid-C19th AD – a period of approximately two and a half millennia, according to conventional estimates – experienced an eerie phase of ‘resurgence’ in the C7th AD, roughly halfway between these two cut-off points.

This is clearly a pseudo-history.

Again, Mohammed supposedly was contemporaneous with a Jew, one Nehemiah, who is like the BC biblical governor of that name strangely resuscitated in ‘another Persian era’. See my:

 

Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time

 

https://www.academia.edu/12429764/Two_Supposed_Nehemiahs_BC_time_and_AD_time

 

It all makes us have to worry, then, about Heraclius himself.

We read in a review of Walter E. Kaegi’s Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium (Cambridge University Press), that this Byzantine emperor was a ‘most strange and incoherent figure’ http://www.historytoday.com/charles-freeman/heraclius-emperor-byzantium

 

Heraclius still appears to be one of the strangest and most incoherent figures that history has recorded. His reign is still considered as alternations of wondrous actions and inaction. It is this inadequate conclusion from a biography of 1905 that Professor Kaegi seeks to confront in this full and detailed life of the Byzantine emperor, Heraclius. It is a major challenge. The sources for Heraclius’ life are diverse and discordant and remain virtually silent on his personality. He offended as many as he impressed and his defeats were every bit as spectacular as his victories. ….

[End of quote]

 

The intrigue continues.

The advent of Heraclius upon the ‘historical’ scene coincided perfectly with that of Illig’s “phantom time”, as Scott has well observed:

 

It was Heraclius, of course, who first came into military conflict with the Arabs, and it was in his reign that Constantinople lost Jerusalem to the Arabs, and it was in his reign that Constantinople lost Jerusalem to the Persians, in 614, a date which, according to Heribert Illig, marks the commencement of the phantom time.

 

….

The importance of Heraclius’ reign as a historical watershed was recognized by Gibbon two hundred years ago. In Chapter 48 of the Decline and Fall he wrote: “From the time of Heraclius, the Byzantine theatre is contracted and darkened: the line of empire, which had been defined by the laws of Justinian and the arms of Belisarius, recedes on all sides from our view; the Roman name, the proper subject of our inquiries, is reduced to a narrow corner of Europe, to the lonely suburbs of Constantinople”.

 

Darkened and contracted indeed. Gibbon relied only upon written history, but that picture of contraction and darkening has been fully confirmed by archeology, which, in the past half century, has been unable to cast any fresh light upon the next three centuries of Byzantine history. On the contrary, excavators have been astonished by almost the complete absence of almost all signs of life during the latter seventh, eighth, ninth, and early tenth centuries.

The same darkness manifests itself in the West.

[End of quote]

 

We may need to do some unlearning

 

“Unlearning the Dark Ages” is the title of this review of another book by Emmet Scott, Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy. Once again, whilst I accept the basic thrust of this, I would not necessarily espouse every single idea presented here (https://didactsreach.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/unlearning-dark-ages.html):

 

Unlearning the Dark Ages

 

The best thing about reading iconoclastic, revisionist historians is that, in the process of reading and understanding their works and their ideas, you learn just how badly your schooling has let you down. Such was certainly the case when I read the truth about the Great Depression through the work of Amity Shlaes and her outstanding The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. Such was true of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, which proved to be a thorough demolition job of the “standard” understanding of the (minimal) differences between fascism and communism. Such was the result of reading Thomas DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln.

 

And now, to that distinguished list, I must add a new book: Emmett Scott’s superb precis analysis of one of the most controversial theories in the field of classical and post-Roman history, Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy.

The book looks at the groundbreaking work and analysis of French historian Henri Pirenne, who came up with what was at the time the most radical rethinking of the history of the Dark Ages ever proposed. And to understand just why his proposal was so strange and so difficult for mainstream historians to digest, we need to briefly look at the “accepted” view of the way that the Dark Ages came about, how they led to the Middle Ages, and finally how the Renaissance came about.

 

The “Received Wisdom”

 

If your schooling was anything like mine, you were taught that the period following the fall of the Roman Empire, up until the advent of the Carolingian Age (i.e. the age of Charlemagne and his descendants) was a true “Dark Age”, in which the wisdom, literacy, and artistic accomplishments of the Roman Empire decayed and disappeared as civilisation itself retreated and, at certain points, was in danger of dying out completely. You were taught that the 6th through to the 9th centuries were a time of backwardness and decay, and that during this time the great cities of antiquity withered and died as the empire that the Romans had spent centuries to build up, crumbled into dust in the West and was tenuously guarded in the East by Byzantium. You were taught that the Church became an instrument of terror and repression, suppressing knowledge and condemning those who pursued forbidden topics as witches and heretics.

 

You were even perhaps taught that the Islamic world flourished into a true Golden Age as Europe retreated into backwardness and squalor. You were told that it was the Islamic world’s preservation of ancient Greek and Latin texts that saved European civilisation; when Arabic and Persian scholars took those same books, translated centuries earlier into Arabic, back to Europe to be translated right back into European languages, the resulting transfer of knowledge kicked off the great rebirth of the Renaissance and eventually culminated in the Enlightenment.

All told, you were taught to think that the period from about 550AD (or thereabouts) to very roughly 850AD or 900AD was a three-century-long period of barbarism and backwardness so terrible that it very nearly destroyed what was left of Europe.

 

An Easily Believed Yarn

 

Obviously, I am skipping over certain key details here, but that is very broadly the historical consensus that existed before Henri Pirenne walked onto the scene. Both Edward Gibbon and J.B. Bury, perhaps the greatest historians the world has seen since Herodotus and Plutarch, argued convincingly, based on the evidence available to them at the time, that the disappearance of Roman civilisation from Western Europe resulted in a truly terrible Dark Age, and that it was Islam that saved the West. And that meme has persisted down to the present day, to the point where it is taught as near-Gospel in high schools and universities the world over.

There is just one problem with the entire theory: it is complete and arrant nonsense.

So said Henri Pirenne, who attacked the consensus understanding of the history of the period on every front. Drawing on the most up-to-date archaeological discoveries made up to that point, and looking carefully at geological, climatological, and contemporary source data, his conclusions were starkly at odds with the prevailing wisdom:

  • Contrary to popular belief, the barbarians who settled the territories once occupied by Roman legions rapidly became Christians and Romanised all on their own, and quickly re-established a civilisation that was in many ways even more advanced than the one it had replaced;
  • Trade between Europe, Britain, North Africa, and the Eastern Roman Empire flourished between 476AD and 650AD, creating massive prosperity and economic growth;
  • The population of Europe did NOT shrink gradually but in fact entered a boom period, which abruptly cut off when the true Dark Age descended upon Europe;
  • Most crucially, the specific reason why a Dark Age hit Europe was Islam itself           And then, suddenly, it all went horribly wrong.RuptureFrom the second half of the 7th Century, the evidence tells us that something happened which irrevocably changed Europe’s fate. The advances of the previous two hundred years came to a screeching halt. Thriving metropolises were wiped out almost overnight, never to be resettled. Population growth crashed; trade across the Mediterranean collapsed; the fortunes of the Byzantines lurched from disaster to catastrophe with almost monotonous regularity for the better part of three hundred years.And so the situation remained, until the Carolingian Age was well and truly established, and mediaeval Europe came into existence.We know what the Middle Ages were like- or at least, we think we do. In reality, what we were taught in school about the Middle Ages is also basically wrong- in reality, the Middle Ages saw the advent of another advanced civilisation which was brought to its knees by the Plague. But that is not the era with which Pirenne or Scott concerned themselves. They were interested in the reason why an age of progress and expansion collapsed so quickly.The archaeological and historical evidence that Mr. Scott presents shows beyond a doubt that the extremely sudden reversal in Europe’s fortunes coincides perfectly with the beginnings of the first wave of Islamic expansion, following the “prophet” Mohammed’s establishment of a power base in Medina as a warlord.In the latter quarter of the book, Mr. Scott presents a powerful analysis of the Islamic doctrine of war and shows that the canonical origin story of Islam, already highly suspect, is basically garbage. He further points out that the reason why the Arabs were able to expand so rapidly is not because of any great military skill on their part; the Arabs, a nomadic and squabbling people, were hugely outnumbered and outclassed in every way by the Byzantine Empire. Instead, it is far more likely that they made an alliance with the Sassanid Persians, and that the early victories of “Arab” Islam were in fact backed and financed by the vast wealth and power of the Persian empire in the East.And anyone who knows anything about Islamic doctrines regarding warfare, piracy, the taking of slaves, and the division of the world into dar al-Harb and dar al-Islam will know that Mr. Scott is talking perfect sense when he points out that it was the rapid expansion of Islam that caused Mediterranean commerce and prosperity to come to a crashing halt almost overnight.A Myth DebunkedPerhaps the most controversial aspect of Mr. Scott’s work is his analysis of the much-ballyhoed “Islamic golden age”. This is another standard trope that we are all taught in school. We are taught to believe the politically correct lie that Islam was an enlightened religion of peace, which fostered scientific advancement, mathematics, medicine, physics, optics, and literature at a pace never seen in the West.In reality, whatever advances that the Islamic world made during the Dark Ages, which it created, were due to the works of far greater philosophers and authors from the Roman and Byzantine eras. In fact, the greatest findings attributed to “Arab” mathematicians and philosophers were actually Persian in origin. Indeed, the great advances in mathematics, such as the “Arabic” numbering system and the “Arabic” concept of zero and the “Arabic” method of algebra, are all Indian and Greek discoveries given a fresh coat of paint by Persian philosophers.The true face of the Arabic Islamic empire of the time was in fact remarkably similar to what we see happening with ISIS today. It was backward, intolerant, abusive of Jews and Christians alike, utterly ruthless in dealing with pagans, violent, intolerant, and totally incapable of responsible governance over the territories that it conquered- which were once the wealthiest and most advanced creations of the children of the Roman Empire.There is far, far more to this remarkable book than I can possibly do justice to here. But I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone interested in the history of Islam’s interactions with the West. It is a scholarly work of the first order that is as readable as any best-selling thriller, and as thought-provoking as anything that Thomas DiLorenzo has ever written. It will make you sit up and think; it will shock and amaze you; and you will very likely walk away from it with your entire understanding of the post-Roman era of history turned upside-down.
  • This is almost all complete BS.
  •  
  • The answer can be summed up in one word: Islam.
  •  
  • Within and through it all, the Holy Church spearheaded the revival and revolution. The Benedictine order of monks proved instrumental in preserving, recording, and building upon the knowledge of the ancients. As Mr. Scott points out, there is no other group in all of human history that has done more to advance the knowledge and happiness of our species, and there is no institution in history that has ever done more for Mankind than the Church of Christ.
  • Mr. Scott presents a true mountain of evidence showing that there was no Dark Age in Europe, right up to the middle of the 7th Century. In its place was an advanced culture in which art, science, and literature flourished at a rate not since since the days of the Rome of Marcus Aurelius. Not even the great plague of the Emperor Justinian’s time, in the mid-6th Century, could put a stop to Europe’s rapid pace of development.
  • From Spain in the west to Carthage in the south to Byzantium in the East, a true Mediterranean civilisation began to take shape. The existence of expensive and expertly crafted African Red Slip pottery was proven well into the 7th Century in the northern reaches of former Roman territories, including Britain. In the East, the Byzantines held the line against the Persians, but were strong and flourishing in their own right.
  • The Visigothic kingdoms of Spain emerged into a true Golden Age. In Gaul, the Merovingians consolidated and united the Gaulish tribes into a true nation and began building upon the centuries of accumulated wisdom of the Romans and the Greeks. England, a frontier outpost long abandoned by the Romans at that point, rebuilt a true Christian civilisation; Caledonia (Scotland) and Hibernia (Ireland), dreary and miserable islands that they were, also began to experience rapid social, technological, and spiritual progress, thanks in no small part to the introduction and rapid uptake of the Christian faith to those benighted lands.
  • But then something remarkable happened. The “barbarians” began to civilise. And they did so at a truly astonishing pace.
  • As Mr. Scott points out, the fall of the Roman Empire was not in fact quite the rupture that we are taught it was in school. It was actually basically a simple transition; the last Roman emperor simply stepped off the throne and handed the crown to the Germanic chieftain Odoacer. At that point in time, the population of the Roman Empire had indeed been in long-term decline; the stock of “ethnic Romans” had dwindled significantly, hence the reason why barbarian Germanic and Gothic tribes were allowed to settle within Roman territories in exchange for their service to the Empire. And that downward trend in population did continue into the early 6th Century.
  • The history in this book reads like a detective story- and what a fascinating story it is. His tale is the forgotten history of a Europe that we are only now beginning to see and understand.
  • He starts with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire itself, and carries on with his analysis all the way through to the latter 11th Century, when the Middle Ages were well and truly established. And his analysis, presented calmly, clearly, and in considerable yet fascinating detail, is extraordinary.
  • Yet the evidence itself is beyond dispute. And Mr. Scott presents that evidence in a book that is a true pleasure to read.
  • As can be imagined, such a radical revision of accepted historical narrative was a huge shock to most of Pirenne’s contemporaries. In his analysis of and expansion upon Pirenne’s work, Emmett Scott notes that even today, most historians find Pirenne’s conclusions so difficult to swallow that they force themselves through all sorts of contortions of logic, evidence, and fact to avoid the extremely uncomfortable realities that those ideas would lead to.
  • A Controversy Revisited
  • That last conclusion is by far the most unsettling. Henri Pirenne did not deny that a Dark Age did indeed descend across Europe; what he contested was the specific dates which were accorded to the period. And his analysis showed that the true Dark Ages corresponded virtually perfectly with the first great wave of Islamic expansion.

Part Two:

A composite character to end all composites

 

 

Heraclius seems to have one foot in Davidic Israel, one in the old Roman Republic, and, whatever feet may be left (because this definitely cannot be right), in the Christian era.

 

What a mix of a man is this emperor Heraclius! What a conundrum! What a puzzle!

I feel sorry for Walter Emil Kaegi, who has valiantly attempted to write a biography of him: Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium. The accomplishment of this scholarly exercise I believe to be a complete impossibility. And I could simply base this view on what I read from Kaegi’s book itself (pp. 12 and 13):

 

The story of Heraclius, as depicted in several literary historical traditions, is almost Herodotean in his experience of fickle fortune’s wheel of triumph and tragedy, of ignorance or excessive pride, error, and disaster.

 

Mackey’s comment: To classify the story of Heraclius as “Herodotean” may be appropriate. Herodotus, ostensibly “the Father of History” (Cicero), has also been called “the Father of Lies” by critics who claim that his ‘histories’ are little more than tall tales.

Heraclius, as we now read, is spread ‘all over the place’ (my description):

 

At one level his name is associated with two categories of classical nomenclature: (1) ancient classical offices such as the consulship, as well as (2) many of the most exciting heroes, places, precedents, and objects of classical, ancient Near Eastern, and Biblical antiquity: Carthage, Nineveh, Jerusalem, the vicinity of Alexander the Great’s triumph over the Persians at Gaugamela, Noah’s Ark, the Golden Gate in Jerusalem, Arbela, the fragments of the True Cross, Damascus, Antioch, perhaps even ancient Armenia’s Tigra- nocerta, and of course, Constantinople.

 

Mackey’s comment: According to a late source (conventionally 600 years after Heraclius): “The historian Elmacin recorded in the 13th Century that in the 7th Century the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius had climbed Jabal Judi in order to see the place where the Ark had landed”. http://bibleprobe.com/noahark-timeline.htm

At least the correct mountain may figure here. See my:

 

Mountain of Landing for the Ark of Noah

 

https://www.academia.edu/19675406/Mountain_of_Landing_for_the_Ark_of_Noah

 

Biblically, Heraclius has been compared with such luminaries as Noah, Moses, David, Solomon, Daniel, and even with Jesus Christ.

And no wonder in the case of David! For we read in Steven H. Wander’s article for JSTOR, “The Cyprus Plates and the “Chronicle” of Fredegar” (pp. 345-346):

https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1291381.pdf

 

…. there is one episode from the military career of Heraclius that bears a striking similarity to the story of David and Goliath.

Byzantine chroniclers record that during his campaign against the Emperor Chosroes in 627, Heraclius fought the Persian general Razatis in single combat, beheading his opponent like the Israelite hero.6 George of Pisidia, the court poet, may have even connected this contemporary event with the life of David. In his epic panegyrics on Heraclius’ Persian wars, he compared the Emperor to such Old Testament figures as Noah, Moses, and Daniel; unfortunately the verses of his Heraclias that, in all likelihood, dealt in detail with the combat are lost.6

 

[End of quote]

 

That fateful year 627 AD again, the year also of the supposed Battle of Nineveh said to have been fought and won by Heraclius!

According to Shaun Tougher, The Reign of Leo VI (886-912): Politics and People: “Heraclius … appears to have been intent on establishing himself as a new David …”.

Likewise, in the case of Charlemagne, as I noted in my:

 

Solomon and Charlemagne. Part One: Life of Charlemagne

 

https://www.academia.edu/24342059/Solomon_and_Charlemagne._Part_One_Life_of_Charlemagne

 

…. Charlemagne has indeed been likened to King Solomon of old, e.g. by H. Daniel-Rops (The Church in the Dark Ages, p. 395), who calls him a “witness of God, after the style of Solomon …”, and he has been spoken of in terms of the ancient kings of Israel; whilst Charlemagne’s father, Pepin the Short, was hailed as “the new king David’.

 

[End of quote]

 

So it appears that Heraclius may have some strong competition from the West in his ‘aspiring’ to be either the new King David or the new King Solomon!

Kaegi continues:

 

He and his writers sought to associate his name with famous names from antiquity: Alexander, Scipio and Constantine I, and with the Biblical Moses and David. Yet he will have to compete with a new name: Muhammad.

 

Mackey’s comment: He is up there with Scipio and Hannibal (another most dubious ‘historical’ character as well).

Thus we read at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclius

 

Edward Gibbon in his work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wrote:

 

Of the characters conspicuous in history, that of Heraclius is one of the most extraordinary and inconsistent. In the first and last years of a long reign, the emperor appears to be the slave of sloth, of pleasure, or of superstition, the careless and impotent spectator of the public calamities. But the languid mists of the morning and evening are separated by the brightness of the meridian sun; the Arcadius of the palace arose the Caesar of the camp; and the honor of Rome and Heraclius was gloriously retrieved by the exploits and trophies of six adventurous campaigns. […] Since the days of Scipio and Hannibal, no bolder enterprise has been attempted than that which Heraclius achieved for the deliverance of the empire.[52]

[End of quote]

 

As for “Muhammad” (Mohammed), we have found him out to be a massive biblical composite.

Given all the biblico-historical baggage with which emperor Heraclius has been fitted down through the centuries, it is little wonder then that, according to Kaegi:

 

No preceding or subsequent Byzantine emperor saw so much: the Araxes, the Khabur, Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias).

….

Heraclius was controversial while living and is controversial today. ….

 

Mackey’s comment: That last is putting it mildly.

But how can one such as Kaegi possibly (and all credit to him for trying) write a biography of Heraclius when, according to Kaegi’s own testimony:

 

Lacunae exist in our knowledge of Heraclius. First of all there are doubts about basic chronology, sometimes due to conflicting reports in the sources, at other times due to omissions of information about certain of his activities. Heraclius and his advisers left no diaries, memoirs, or personal letters. There are no archives of original documents. It is impossible to know biographical details about him that might be standard for nineteenth- and twentieth-century figures. The chronology is inexact for some important events.

 

Mackey’s comment: Phew! Yet, despite that horrific sequence of negatives:

 

… it is not the worst-documented period of the Byzantine Empire, for there is more documentation than for some other reigns of the seventh century, and for many of those of the fifth century.

 

Mackey’s comment: God help us!

Kaegi again:

 

Mysteries abound. The ultimate goals of Heraclius remain obscure. What did Heraclius really want? ….

 

 

I don’t think that we shall ever know.

 

 

 

Part Three:

Channeling Alexander the Great

 

 

 

Heraclius, also often compared to Alexander the Great, appears to have usurped some of the credentials of the famous Macedonian world-conqueror.

 

According to the supposed C7th AD historian, George of Pisidia, Heraclius was more than comparable to Alexander the Great and to Timotheus (admiral). This is discussed in the thesis by David M. Pritchard, The Emperor Heraclius; Investigations into the Image of an Emperor:

 

It is not just Heraclius’ military skills that are praised in comparison with the pair of Alexander the Great and Timotheus. They are both Greek commanders one of whom was a general the other an admiral, and both of whom were operating in the same part of the world as Heraclius. However, Heraclius is superior as a person, he built his army up to be organised, well trained and brave, whereas Alexander inherited his from his father. Heraclius had to battle against fortune whilst Tyche smiled on Timotheus’ endeavours: “Timotheus sleeping amidst battles, then Fortune handing over the cities on this side and on that”. … These comparisons serve to summarise the virtues of Heraclius that George wants to extol. He is compared with biblical figures to illustrate his piety and the manner in which he has served God, whilst his military skills that are always in evidence, are complemented by the aid of God, which raises him above his pagan predecessors, thanks to that piety.

[End of quote]

 

But the comparisons with Alexander become even more specific. Previously in this series we may have been puzzled to learn that Heraclius had, in 627 AD, fought the “Battle of Nineveh”, depsite the fact that the city of Nineveh no longer existed. Now, most strangely again, Heraclius is credited with also having fought – just as Alexander the Great had indeed done historically (in 333 BC, conventional dating) – the Battle of Issus. We read about it in this uncritical piece, “Echoing Alexander” http://larsbrownworth.com/blog/category/issus/battle-of-issus/

 

Pavel asks if Heraclius ever fought a battle at Issus- the famous spot where Alexander the Great defeated a huge Persian army led by his rival Darius.

There must have been something about the place that attracted armies.  By the time Heraclius showed up in 622 A.D. Issus had seen two previous major, empire defining, winner-take-all clashes.  The first (and most famous) was in 333 BC when Alexander the Great met Darius and broke the back of Persian power.  The second was in 194 AD during the year of the 5 emperors when the armies of Septimius Severus defeated his main rival.  (A few days after the battle the victorious Severus mopped up the still defiant and relatively nearby Byzantium, where- anticipating Constantine by more than a century- he rebuilt it in his own honor)

Heraclius in a way combined his two predecessors- a Greek-speaking, Hellenized, Roman Emperor.  In the autumn of 622, he crossed the Aegean looking for the Persian army.  They met at the famous Issus, but unlike the previous two battles this one wasn’t decisive.  Neither army was really willing to come to grips and (despite an alleged prediction by Mohammed that it would result in a major Roman victory), it was more of a skirmish.  Heraclius spent the next several years trying to force a Persian engagement and nearly lost it all when he was ambushed crossing a river.  The tide turned in 624, but it wasn’t until December of 627- half a decade after the battle of Issus- that he was able to fight a decisive battle with the Persians.

[End of quote]

 

“… it wasn’t until December of 627- half a decade after the battle of Issus- that he was able to fight a decisive battle with the Persians”, that being, of course, the fictitious Battle of Nineveh.

Modern historian J. Bury followed George of Pisidia in his likening of Heraclius to Alexander.

Irfan Shahid tells of it in The Iranian Factor in Byzantium during the Reign of Heraclius, at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1291452.pdf

 

Bury conceived of Heraclius as another Alexander. …. There is indeed something in the career of Heraclius which is reminiscent of Alexander: mounted on his charger, Dorkon … he fought on occasion a Homeric aristeia in much the same way that Alexander, mounted on Bucephalus, had done before, though more significant is his role in the contest of East and West and in the victory of the latter over the former, represented by Persia.

…. Bury’s views have been accepted in whole or in part by a number of scholars … but they have been rejected by others …. Ostrogorsky … in his History of the Byzantine State …. After describing the linguistic change which took place during the reign of Heraclius-the dropping of Latin and the use of Greek exclusively as the official language of the Empire-he goes on to say:

 

Under the influence of this Hellenization an important change, which was at the same time a simplification, was made in the imperial title in the Byzantine Empire. Heraclius gave up the complicated Latin form of address, and following popular Greek usage he took the title of βασιλεύς. Thus the royal title of the ancient Greek kings, which had hitherto only been used unofficially for the Byzantine Emperor, now replaced the Roman titles, imperator [caesar] augustus. In future the Byzantine Emperor was officially designated as Basileus and this was recognized as the actual imperial title.

 

Alexander the Great was, of course, a “king” (basileus) of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon.

Heraclius again, just like “Alexander [who] … adopted the title ShahanShah (King of Kings) used by the rulers of the First Persian Empire” (http://www.ancient.eu/Alexander_the_Great/),

“took for himself the ancient Persian title of “King of Kings”, dropping the traditional Roman imperial title of “Augustus”.” (http://www.themiddleages.net/people/heraclius.html).

Alexander the Great had, historically again (in 331 BC, conventional dating), fought and won the Battle of Gaugamela. Not surprisingly, now, so did Heraclius. Steven Ward writes of it (Immortal, Updated Edition: A Military History of Iran and Its Armed Forces, p. 36):

 

Heraclius began a march against the palace of the Great King at Dastagird. The Persian army, now under the command of Razates, avoided combat, probably hoping the Greek move across Anatolia would wear down the soldiers and overextend their lines. An impatient Chosroes, however, ordered his generals to fight. In December 627, Razates inauspicioulsy attacked smaller Greek forces under Heraclius near Gaugamela.

 

[End of quote]

 

With the armies at a standstill, and as we read in Part Two: “Heraclius [who] … appears to have been intent on establishing himself as a new David …”, famously fought Razates (Razatis) in single combat and – yes, you guessed it – beheaded him.

A “new David” he was, but also “the new Alexander”, the title of Gerrit J. Reinink’s article, “’Heraclius, the New Alexander: Apocalyptic Prophecies during the Reign of Heraclius” (Louvain: Peeters, 2002).

 

I shall conclude this Part Three with a final parallel between Alexander and Heraclius as found in Barbara Baert’s article, “Heraclius and Chosroes or The Desire for the True Cross” (2005) http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/Baert_Heraclius_Chosroes.shtml:

 

In an early seventh-century source from Edessa, Heraclius is even compared with Alexander the Great. [6]

….

According to the Legend of the True Cross, the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (610-641) was involved in a battle against Chosroes II (588-628?), the Sassanian king who had stolen the cross in Jerusalem. Entering the astrological tower in Ctesiphon, Heraclius finds Chosroes sitting at his mechanical throne. It was kept in constant movement by horses, just as the universe is constantly moving. Into the throne, Chosroes had placed the cross relic “as the sun,” and an image of a cock “as the ghost.” Chosroes considered himself “as the father.” Heraclius decapitates Chosroes on his throne and restitutes the cross to Jerusalem.

….

In 1878, M. J. Mohl published a German translation of the Firdausi verses written down in present-day Iran in 900 or thereabouts. [27] In this legend, a king builds a colossal “Taq dis”; etymologically this means “equal to the firmament” (fornici similis). [28] This “celestial throne” was made of the richest materials and embellished with all the signs of the zodiac. Four steps led up to a throne supported by lions. The Persian astrological throne functioned within a ritual context. As the center of the heavenly realm, the ruler was manifested as one who has power to influence the stars. Indeed, the ruler is venerated as the entity into which the cosmic powers have poured. The throne symbolizes this power.

In the Firdausi verses, it is told that Alexander the Great, indifferent to the treasures of the palace and unfamiliar with the astrological potential of the construction, destroyed the dazzling “Taq dis.” However, Chosroes II conceived the plan of restoring the ancient astrological temple. T. Nöldeke suggests that the specific passage of the legend in which Chosroes II appears was based on the “Book of Chosroes,” a lost Arabic chronicle that goes up to 628 AD. [29] Cedrenos (Historiarum compendium, 1057) also supplemented his Elevation of the Cross passage with a description of the astrological temple. [30]

The throne of Chosroes corresponds to the planetarium or the cosmic clock. Philostratus [c. 200 AD] described such a structure in Babylon. The men’s hall in the palace had a domed vault that resembled the heavens. The dome was decorated with sapphires and with images of their gods, the planets. [31] ….

 

Part Four:

Avaric Empire a Fabrication?

 

 

Gyula Tóth claims that, while the Hungarian Chronicles fully support Heribert Illig’s Phantom Time hypothesis, Illig himself has been apparently unaware of these Chronicles.

 

Tóth has, in his article, “The Hungarian chronicles and the phantom time hypothesis”, arrived at some amazing conclusions regarding the need for an historical condensation based upon the Hungarian evidence

http://maghon.weebly.com/uploads/2/0/0/3/20035969/toth_gyula_-_angolul_i.pdf

What he discovers is that the Magyar incursion is the same as that of the Avars, 300 years apart.

He commences his article with a comment about Illig, this leading him into his introduction of the Hungarian Chronicles:

 

…. When Heribert Illig introduced his theory on the “fabricated middle ages” (Erfundenes Mittelalter), or more known as Phantom time hypothesis; he mainly referred to western Europe. As per say the many false records from the Carolingian Age, the palace chapel of Aachen that predates by far its era with its architectural solutions (Palatine Chapel), the peculiar calendar reform of Pope Gregory XIII, the characteristic lacking of archeological evidence of the era.

 

Naturally, refers to peculiarities of the Byzantine Empire as well: the stoppage of constructions, the decadence of literacy, the odd fairytale likeliness of events, the incomprehensible and unjustified actions of the rewriting of chronicles. His arguments on their own are heavy enough and stimulating. Illig on the other hand never even mentions one thing, seemingly, the signs show that he was not even aware of it.

 

This is none other [than] the Hungarian chronicles. Those Hungarian chronicles, that back up and confirm his theories with such a surge of elementary power, that it should have been at least mentioned, never the less having its own chapter. …. While in prominent history magazines they try to disproof and debunk that the time line of our chronology has been [tampered] with, they don’t even dare to mention the Hungarian chronicles in these articles.

 

Tóth will be more critical of Illig’s modus operandi in “The Phantom Dark Ages and Beyond” https://www.scribd.com/document/299173251/The-Phantom-Dark-Ages-and-Beyond-Gyula-Toth

He now proceeds to point out the conundrum of the lack of mention of the Avars (not to mention the Khazars) supposedly situated between Attila the Hun and the Magyar incursions:

 

According to the official version of history and the chronology that is in use, Atilla the Hun existed in the first half of the four hundreds A.D., while the Magyar Ingression happened at the end of the eight hundreds, in 895 A.D. The time span between the two events are a merely 450 years, which should be considerable as of historical value. The Hungarian chronicles portray the times of Atilla with utter most detail. The same happens with the Magyar Ingression (secundus ingressus). Pages on end with utter most details depiction of events upon events. Therefore we rightfully might expect that the same would happen

about the time passed between the two events. That our chroniclers write about those events with at least the same accuracy. Let’s say, about the avars and the Avaric Empire that existed in this time period. To our amazement not only they don’t do such a thing, they don’t even write down the name of the avars nor use the word or expression avar, avaric. The dating of events don’t even allow the existence of an Avaric Empire of merely three hundred years. For right after the death of Atilla the Magyar Ingression occurs. This

happens after 104 years, over five generations. Kálti Márk and Kézai Simon make the impression as if they would be suffering of some sort of historical amnesia. Three hundred years can’t just be ignored as if they would be insignificant. How come they know more about the Hunnic period then the Avaric Empire that predates the Magyar Ingression? Let’s admit it: is pure hair raising! Surely they must have had some knowledge of the Avaric Empire, if not first hand at least second hand information. No matter where our ancestors lived during the three hundred years of Avaric rule, it must have been somewhere around the Carpathian Basin. Contact of any kind is likely to take place! Assuming of course that such an Avaric Empire ever existed. If not, it’s not surprising that our chronicles “omit” mentioning about such thing.

Not only the Avaric Empire is “omitted”, but also the Khazar Empire! This is again mind bothering, for according to the official version of events, prior to the Magyar Ingression our ancestors were supposed to be part of such empire from times after the death of Atilla. Our chronicles haven’t even ever heard of any Khazar Empire.

 

I shall include this other section from Tóth’s article, as it includes Heraclius and

 

Constantine III or Constantine VII?

 

Illig in his book takes account of the [eerie] resemblance between events of the 5th and the 10th century as well. “The (Byzantine) empire is weakened militarily by the advancements of the Avars around the year 600 to the Balkan peninsula.” – he writes. Let’s not forget: with the correction of 300 years the Avaric advancement coincides with the Magyar advancement! For the Byzantine Empire had to face a strong enemy from the north in the beginning of the nine hundreds, [namely] the Magyars, the suspicion arises that the whole Avaric era is [none] other [than] the duplicate of the Magyar Ingression backdated. Illig takes reference on Manfred Zeller, who in his works about the peoples of steppe shows that: “the number of the horse-archer peoples’ in the first millennium doubles, filling the empty centuries!” Therefore the Avars are just a duplicate! A duplicate created beside the Hun-Magyar nations with one purpose, to fill in the empty centuries. The archaeological artifacts denoted as Avaric could easily be that of the Huns of Atilla’s.

 

For now let’s return to the Byzantine Empire: in 602 under the name of Phocas, a fearsome and untalented emperor sits on the throne by usurpation. At this time, the king of the Persians, Khosrau II, taking advantage of the situation makes an attack on Byzantine seemingly to avenge the murdered emperor. In 610 Heraclius puts an end to the terror reign of Phocas, but the Persian advancements continue: they take over Eastern Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestina, Egypt and on the Northern shores of Africa they reach till Tripoli. The occupation of Jerusalem and the taking of the True Cross happened in 614 may 22nd after a three [week] siege. An interesting thing about Heraclius is that he had a co-emperor. This is his own son who is already crowned in 613 at the age of two. Being at the side of his father with no contribution in decision making. When he finally got to the throne he only ruled for a mere four months. This being none other then Constantine III, who is mentioned in the Chronicon Pictum about the time of the Magyar Ingression:

 

“… one hundred and four years after the death of the Magyar king Atilla, in the times of Emperor Constantine the III. and Pope Zachary – as can be found written in the chronicles of the Romans – the Magyars rode out for the second time from Scythia…”

 

It is very interesting that the Chronicon Pictum’s author sets the emperor from the time of the Magyar Ingression as an emperor who lived in the six hundreds! As we know according to Illig, the start of the phantom segment in our chronology takes place from 614, shortly after the True Cross is taken away. In this time Constantine III is already crowned, but only of three years of age. The time when he gains power to reign falls within the phantom segment. If Illig is right, then the character of Constantine III has to appear in some form in the 10th century as well. And as by magic, in the 10th century we also have a Constantine! This time not the III but the VII! Namingly Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (the Purpleborn), who probably was one of the mastermind behind the fabrication of our chronology. After this Illig analyzed Constantine’s life story. The story of the 10th century takes its beginning where Emperor Leo VI the Wise within four years becomes a widower three times, then finally Zoe Zaoutzaina gives birth to a son but illegitimate. When Leo crowns this boy as co-emperor, he dies within a year, in 912. (One should keep in mind that according to Illig in the year 911 the history starts anew. So in 912 the crowning of the illegitimate son belong to the real events of the time line.) But this boy has no saying in the state’s matter until the age of 24. In this perspective bares resemblance with Constantine III, who also was crowned as coemperor at a young age and only could take the state’s power into his hands much later on. So who do you think was the illegitimate son of Emperor Leo from the 10th century? Well, none other then Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos!

 

The similarities are too remarkable between the life of Constantine III from the 7th century and that of Constantine VII from the 10th century. Worthy of note is the matter of the regaining of the True Cross from the hands of the Persians. It is not by mistake that Constantine VII has put it on the account of Heraclius, by doing this he did nothing else but paying homage to his own father’s memory. For Heraclius in first of all not only being the father of Constantine III from the 7th century, he was also the father of Constantine VII of the 10th century! On top of all Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos arranges the beginning of the real history in a way that would start with his own coronation!

 

In similarities not only the characters of the two emperors show resemblance, but also the foreign policies of the Byzantine Empire of the 7th and 10th century. As we’ve seen, in the 7th century the empire was troubled from the north by the Avaric advancements, meanwhile, in the southeast by that of the Persians. In the 10th century events repeat with different characters: in the north the Magyars trouble the empire, while in the southeast the Arabic expansion does the same. At this point one pauses for a brief moment and asks himself: isn’t it possible that the Avars of the 7th century are no more then the Magyars of the 10th century? And the Arabic expansion of the 10th century is likely to be the Persian expansion of the 7th century? So, if the Byzantine Empire was troubled in the 7th century by Persians and Avars, in the 10th century these become Arabs and Magyars!

Heraclius and the Battle of Nineveh

Image result for heraclius and battle of nineveh

 by

Damien F. Mackey

  

‘Something is very rotten in the state of’ a part of our conventional AD history.

 

 

Introduction

 

What! What! What! The Byzantine emperor, Heraclius (reign, 610 to 641 AD), fighting a “Battle of Nineveh” in 627 AD!

And here I am mistakenly under the impression that the city of Nineveh was completely destroyed in c. 612 BC, and that it lay hopelessly dead and buried until it was archaeologically resurrected by Layard in the mid-C19th AD.

But perhaps I am not alone in thinking this. For, according to: http://www.bible-history.com/assyria_archaeology/archaeology_of_ancient_assyria_nineveh.html

 

Nineveh was the famous capital of ancient [Assyria] and one of the mightiest cities of all antiquity. It is situated on the east bank of the Tigris River just opposite modern Mosul. According to the Scriptures Nimrod was the founder of Nineveh.

 

Genesis 10:11

11 “From that land he (Nimrod) went to Assyria and built Nineveh.”

 

The ancient Hebrew prophets foretold of Nineveh’s destruction and utter desolation:

 

Nahum 2:8-10

“Though Nineveh of old was like a pool of water, Now they flee away. ‘Halt! Halt!” they cry; But no one turns back. Take spoil of silver! Take spoil of gold! There is no end of treasure, Or wealth of every desirable prize. She is empty, desolate, and waste! The heart melts, and the knees shake; Much pain is in every side, And all their faces are drained of color.”

 

In fact Nineveh was so laid waste that it was considered a total myth of the Bible throughout most of the recent centuries, that is until it was discovered by Sir Austen Layard in the nineteenth century. The site of ancient Nineveh was extensively excavated and its occupational levels reach far back to the beginning of civilization.

 

[End of quotes]

 

————————————————————————————

“The importance of Heraclius‘ reign as a historical watershed was recognized

by Gibbon two hundred years ago”.

————————————————————————————-

 

That there is something quite rotten about our historical perception of this so-called “Dark Age” era is apparent from the research of German scholars, Heribert Illig and Dr. Hans-Ulrich Niemitz, the latter of whom has written, in “Did the Early Middle Ages Really Exist?” http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/volatile/Niemitz-1997.pdf

 

The easiest way to understand doubts about the accepted chronology and ‘well-known’ history is to seriously systematize the problems of medieval research. This will lead us to detect a pattern which proves my thesis and gives reason to assume that a phantom period of approximately 300 years has been inserted between 600 AD to 900 AD, either by accident, by misinterpretation of documents or by deliberate falsification (Illig 1991). This period and all events that are supposed to have happened therein never existed. Buildings and artifacts ascribed to this period really belong to other periods. To prove this the Carolingian Chapel at Aachen will serve as the first example. ….

[End of quote]

 

Revisionist historians are well aware of the so-called “Dark Ages” period (c. 1200-700 BC) that has been artificially imposed upon, say, ancient Hittite and Greek history, and well exposed by Peter James et al. in Centuries of Darkness. In the same year that this book was first published, in 1991, German historian Heribert Illig wrote his “Phantom Time Hypothesis”. Just as Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky had pioneered a revision of BC history, so have these German writers, Illig and Niemitz, done the same for AD history. And I believe that both efforts were necessary, though I am far from accepting, in either case (the BC or the AD revision), all of the details of these pioneering works. And this last comment leads me to mention another enthusiastic reviser of ancient history, Emmet Scott, who has now also become vitally interested and well-informed about the AD revision. I neither accept all of Scott’s efforts in BC or AD, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading his helpful A Guide to the Phantom Dark Age, at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=lIpYAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=emmet+s

For an English speaker, such as I, it is easier reading than the above-mentioned German efforts, and Emmet manages to fill in some areas that they may have left untouched. I thoroughly recommend the reading of this book, though with those reservations to be kept in mind.

 

Nineveh

 

But, getting back to Nineveh, it figures again in the biography of the prophet Mohammed, whose period of floruit, from his first supposed revelation until his death (610-632 AD), is practically identical to that conventionally assigned to emperor Heraclius (610 to 641 AD). Mohammed, I have argued (and others who have written somewhat similarly, e.g., E. Scott), was by no means a true historical character but something of a biblical composite. See my:

Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History

https://www.academia.edu/12500381/Biography_of_the_Prophet_Mohammed_Muhammad_Seriously_Mangles_History

 

There we learned that Mohammed had supposedly encountered a young man from Nineveh – quite an anomaly. And the pair are said to have discussed the prophet Jonah, whom Mohammed called his “brother”.

I followed up this Part One with:

Biography of the Prophet Mohammed (Muhammad) Seriously Mangles History. Part Two: From Birth to Marriage

https://www.academia.edu/28216595/Biography_of_the_Prophet_Mohammed_Muhammad_Seriously_Mangles_History._Part_Two_From_Birth_to_Marriage

 

Strangely, then, we are finding that the ancient city of Nineveh, destroyed in the late C7th BC, and not uncovered again until the mid-C19th AD – a period of approximately two and a half millennia, according to conventional estimates – experienced an eerie phase of ‘resurgence’ in the C7th AD, roughly halfway between these two cut-off points.

This is clearly a pseudo-history.

Again, Mohammed supposedly was contemporaneous with a Jew, one Nehemiah, who is like the BC biblical governor of that name strangely resuscitated in ‘another Persian era’. See my:

 

Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time

https://www.academia.edu/12429764/Two_Supposed_Nehemiahs_BC_time_and_AD_time

 

It all makes us have to worry, then, about Heraclius himself.

We read in a review of Walter E. Kaegi’s Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium (Cambridge University Press), that this Byzantine emperor was a ‘most strange and incoherent figure’ http://www.historytoday.com/charles-freeman/heraclius-emperor-byzantium

 

Heraclius still appears to be one of the strangest and most incoherent figures that history has recorded. His reign is still considered as alternations of wondrous actions and inaction. It is this inadequate conclusion from a biography of 1905 that Professor Kaegi seeks to confront in this full and detailed life of the Byzantine emperor, Heraclius. It is a major challenge. The sources for Heraclius’ life are diverse and discordant and remain virtually silent on his personality. He offended as many as he impressed and his defeats were every bit as spectacular as his victories. ….

[End of quote]

 

The intrigue continues.

The advent of Heraclius upon the ‘historical’ scene coincided perfectly with that of Illig’s “phantom time”, as Scott has well observed:

 

It was Heraclius, of course, who first came into military conflict with the Arabs, and it was in his reign that Constantinople lost Jerusalem to the Arabs, and it was in his reign that Constantinople lost Jerusalem to the Persians, in 614, a date which, according to Heribert Illig, marks the commencement of the phantom time.

….

The importance of Heraclius’ reign as a historical watershed was recognized by Gibbon two hundred years ago. In Chapter 48 of the Decline and Fall he wrote: “From the time of Heraclius, the Byzantine theatre is contracted and darkened: the line of empire, which had been defined by the laws of Justinian and the arms of Belisarius, recedes on all sides from our view; the Roman name, the proper subject of our inquiries, is reduced to a narrow corner of Europe, to the lonely suburbs of Constantinople”.

Darkened and contracted indeed. Gibbon relied only upon written history, but that picture of contraction and darkening has been fully confirmed by archeology, which, in the past half century, has been unable to cast any fresh light upon the next three centuries of Byzantine history. On the contrary, excavators have been astonished by almost the complete absence of almost all signs of life during the latter seventh, eighth, ninth, and early tenth centuries.

The same darkness manifests itself in the West.

[End of quote]

 

We may need to do some unlearning

 

“Unlearning the Dark Ages” is the title of this review of another book by Emmet Scott, Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy. Once again, whilst I accept the basic thrust of this, I would not necessarily espouse every single idea presented here (https://didactsreach.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/unlearning-dark-ages.html):

 

Unlearning the Dark Ages

 

The best thing about reading iconoclastic, revisionist historians is that, in the process of reading and understanding their works and their ideas, you learn just how badly your schooling has let you down. Such was certainly the case when I read the truth about the Great Depression through the work of Amity Shlaes and her outstanding The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. Such was true of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, which proved to be a thorough demolition job of the “standard” understanding of the (minimal) differences between fascism and communism. Such was the result of reading Thomas DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln.

 

And now, to that distinguished list, I must add a new book: Emmett Scott’s superb precis analysis of one of the most controversial theories in the field of classical and post-Roman history, Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy.

The book looks at the groundbreaking work and analysis of French historian Henri Pirenne, who came up with what was at the time the most radical rethinking of the history of the Dark Ages ever proposed. And to understand just why his proposal was so strange and so difficult for mainstream historians to digest, we need to briefly look at the “accepted” view of the way that the Dark Ages came about, how they led to the Middle Ages, and finally how the Renaissance came about.

 

The “Received Wisdom”

 

If your schooling was anything like mine, you were taught that the period following the fall of the Roman Empire, up until the advent of the Carolingian Age (i.e. the age of Charlemagne and his descendants) was a true “Dark Age”, in which the wisdom, literacy, and artistic accomplishments of the Roman Empire decayed and disappeared as civilisation itself retreated and, at certain points, was in danger of dying out completely. You were taught that the 6th through to the 9th centuries were a time of backwardness and decay, and that during this time the great cities of antiquity withered and died as the empire that the Romans had spent centuries to build up, crumbled into dust in the West and was tenuously guarded in the East by Byzantium. You were taught that the Church became an instrument of terror and repression, suppressing knowledge and condemning those who pursued forbidden topics as witches and heretics.

 

You were even perhaps taught that the Islamic world flourished into a true Golden Age as Europe retreated into backwardness and squalor. You were told that it was the Islamic world’s preservation of ancient Greek and Latin texts that saved European civilisation; when Arabic and Persian scholars took those same books, translated centuries earlier into Arabic, back to Europe to be translated right back into European languages, the resulting transfer of knowledge kicked off the great rebirth of the Renaissance and eventually culminated in the Enlightenment.

All told, you were taught to think that the period from about 550AD (or thereabouts) to very roughly 850AD or 900AD was a three-century-long period of barbarism and backwardness so terrible that it very nearly destroyed what was left of Europe.

 

An Easily Believed Yarn

 

Obviously, I am skipping over certain key details here, but that is very broadly the historical consensus that existed before Henri Pirenne walked onto the scene. Both Edward Gibbon and J.B. Bury, perhaps the greatest historians the world has seen since Herodotus and Plutarch, argued convincingly, based on the evidence available to them at the time, that the disappearance of Roman civilisation from Western Europe resulted in a truly terrible Dark Age, and that it was Islam that saved the West. And that meme has persisted down to the present day, to the point where it is taught as near-Gospel in high schools and universities the world over.

There is just one problem with the entire theory: it is complete and arrant nonsense.

So said Henri Pirenne, who attacked the consensus understanding of the history of the period on every front. Drawing on the most up-to-date archaeological discoveries made up to that point, and looking carefully at geological, climatological, and contemporary source data, his conclusions were starkly at odds with the prevailing wisdom:

  • Contrary to popular belief, the barbarians who settled the territories once occupied by Roman legions rapidly became Christians and Romanised all on their own, and quickly re-established a civilisation that was in many ways even more advanced than the one it had replaced;
  • Trade between Europe, Britain, North Africa, and the Eastern Roman Empire flourished between 476AD and 650AD, creating massive prosperity and economic growth;
  • The population of Europe did NOT shrink gradually but in fact entered a boom period, which abruptly cut off when the true Dark Age descended upon Europe;
  • Most crucially, the specific reason why a Dark Age hit Europe was Islam itself                The answer can be summed up in one word: Islam.    
  • There is far, far more to this remarkable book than I can possibly do justice to here. But I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone interested in the history of Islam’s interactions with the West. It is a scholarly work of the first order that is as readable as any best-selling thriller, and as thought-provoking as anything that Thomas DiLorenzo has ever written. It will make you sit up and think; it will shock and amaze you; and you will very likely walk away from it with your entire understanding of the post-Roman era of history turned upside-down.
  • The true face of the Arabic Islamic empire of the time was in fact remarkably similar to what we see happening with ISIS today. It was backward, intolerant, abusive of Jews and Christians alike, utterly ruthless in dealing with pagans, violent, intolerant, and totally incapable of responsible governance over the territories that it conquered- which were once the wealthiest and most advanced creations of the children of the Roman Empire.
  • In reality, whatever advances that the Islamic world made during the Dark Ages, which it created, were due to the works of far greater philosophers and authors from the Roman and Byzantine eras. In fact, the greatest findings attributed to “Arab” mathematicians and philosophers were actually Persian in origin. Indeed, the great advances in mathematics, such as the “Arabic” numbering system and the “Arabic” concept of zero and the “Arabic” method of algebra, are all Indian and Greek discoveries given a fresh coat of paint by Persian philosophers.
  • This is almost all complete BS.
  • Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Mr. Scott’s work is his analysis of the much-ballyhoed “Islamic golden age”. This is another standard trope that we are all taught in school. We are taught to believe the politically correct lie that Islam was an enlightened religion of peace, which fostered scientific advancement, mathematics, medicine, physics, optics, and literature at a pace never seen in the West.
  • A Myth Debunked
  • And anyone who knows anything about Islamic doctrines regarding warfare, piracy, the taking of slaves, and the division of the world into dar al-Harb and dar al-Islam will know that Mr. Scott is talking perfect sense when he points out that it was the rapid expansion of Islam that caused Mediterranean commerce and prosperity to come to a crashing halt almost overnight.
  • In the latter quarter of the book, Mr. Scott presents a powerful analysis of the Islamic doctrine of war and shows that the canonical origin story of Islam, already highly suspect, is basically garbage. He further points out that the reason why the Arabs were able to expand so rapidly is not because of any great military skill on their part; the Arabs, a nomadic and squabbling people, were hugely outnumbered and outclassed in every way by the Byzantine Empire. Instead, it is far more likely that they made an alliance with the Sassanid Persians, and that the early victories of “Arab” Islam were in fact backed and financed by the vast wealth and power of the Persian empire in the East.
  • The archaeological and historical evidence that Mr. Scott presents shows beyond a doubt that the extremely sudden reversal in Europe’s fortunes coincides perfectly with the beginnings of the first wave of Islamic expansion, following the “prophet” Mohammed’s establishment of a power base in Medina as a warlord.
  • We know what the Middle Ages were like- or at least, we think we do. In reality, what we were taught in school about the Middle Ages is also basically wrong- in reality, the Middle Ages saw the advent of another advanced civilisation which was brought to its knees by the Plague. But that is not the era with which Pirenne or Scott concerned themselves. They were interested in the reason why an age of progress and expansion collapsed so quickly.
  • And so the situation remained, until the Carolingian Age was well and truly established, and mediaeval Europe came into existence.
  • From the second half of the 7th Century, the evidence tells us that something happened which irrevocably changed Europe’s fate. The advances of the previous two hundred years came to a screeching halt. Thriving metropolises were wiped out almost overnight, never to be resettled. Population growth crashed; trade across the Mediterranean collapsed; the fortunes of the Byzantines lurched from disaster to catastrophe with almost monotonous regularity for the better part of three hundred years.
  • Rupture
  • And then, suddenly, it all went horribly wrong.
  • Within and through it all, the Holy Church spearheaded the revival and revolution. The Benedictine order of monks proved instrumental in preserving, recording, and building upon the knowledge of the ancients. As Mr. Scott points out, there is no other group in all of human history that has done more to advance the knowledge and happiness of our species, and there is no institution in history that has ever done more for Mankind than the Church of Christ.
  • Mr. Scott presents a true mountain of evidence showing that there was no Dark Age in Europe, right up to the middle of the 7th Century. In its place was an advanced culture in which art, science, and literature flourished at a rate not since since the days of the Rome of Marcus Aurelius. Not even the great plague of the Emperor Justinian’s time, in the mid-6th Century, could put a stop to Europe’s rapid pace of development.
  • From Spain in the west to Carthage in the south to Byzantium in the East, a true Mediterranean civilisation began to take shape. The existence of expensive and expertly crafted African Red Slip pottery was proven well into the 7th Century in the northern reaches of former Roman territories, including Britain. In the East, the Byzantines held the line against the Persians, but were strong and flourishing in their own right.
  • The Visigothic kingdoms of Spain emerged into a true Golden Age. In Gaul, the Merovingians consolidated and united the Gaulish tribes into a true nation and began building upon the centuries of accumulated wisdom of the Romans and the Greeks. England, a frontier outpost long abandoned by the Romans at that point, rebuilt a true Christian civilisation; Caledonia (Scotland) and Hibernia (Ireland), dreary and miserable islands that they were, also began to experience rapid social, technological, and spiritual progress, thanks in no small part to the introduction and rapid uptake of the Christian faith to those benighted lands.
  • But then something remarkable happened. The “barbarians” began to civilise. And they did so at a truly astonishing pace.
  • As Mr. Scott points out, the fall of the Roman Empire was not in fact quite the rupture that we are taught it was in school. It was actually basically a simple transition; the last Roman emperor simply stepped off the throne and handed the crown to the Germanic chieftain Odoacer. At that point in time, the population of the Roman Empire had indeed been in long-term decline; the stock of “ethnic Romans” had dwindled significantly, hence the reason why barbarian Germanic and Gothic tribes were allowed to settle within Roman territories in exchange for their service to the Empire. And that downward trend in population did continue into the early 6th Century.
  • The history in this book reads like a detective story- and what a fascinating story it is. His tale is the forgotten history of a Europe that we are only now beginning to see and understand.
  • He starts with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire itself, and carries on with his analysis all the way through to the latter 11th Century, when the Middle Ages were well and truly established. And his analysis, presented calmly, clearly, and in considerable yet fascinating detail, is extraordinary.
  • Yet the evidence itself is beyond dispute. And Mr. Scott presents that evidence in a book that is a true pleasure to read.
  • As can be imagined, such a radical revision of accepted historical narrative was a huge shock to most of Pirenne’s contemporaries. In his analysis of and expansion upon Pirenne’s work, Emmett Scott notes that even today, most historians find Pirenne’s conclusions so difficult to swallow that they force themselves through all sorts of contortions of logic, evidence, and fact to avoid the extremely uncomfortable realities that those ideas would lead to.
  • A Controversy Revisited
  • That last conclusion is by far the most unsettling. Henri Pirenne did not deny that a Dark Age did indeed descend across Europe; what he contested was the specific dates which were accorded to the period. And his analysis showed that the true Dark Ages corresponded virtually perfectly with the first great wave of Islamic expansion.

 

Part Two:

A composite character to end all composites

 

Heraclius seems to have one foot in Davidic Israel, one in the old Roman Republic, and, whatever feet may be left (because this definitely cannot be right), in the Christian era.

 

What a mix of a man is this emperor Heraclius! What a conundrum! What a puzzle!

I feel sorry for Walter Emil Kaegi, who has valiantly attempted to write a biography of him: Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium.

 

 

The accomplishment of this scholarly exercise I believe to be a complete impossibility. And I could simply base this view on what I read from Kaegi’s book itself (pp. 12 and 13):

 

The story of Heraclius, as depicted in several literary historical traditions, is almost Herodotean in his experience of fickle fortune’s wheel of triumph and tragedy, of ignorance or excessive pride, error, and disaster.

 

Mackey’s comment: To classify the story of Heraclius as “Herodotean” may be appropriate. Herodotus, ostensibly “the Father of History” (Cicero), has also been called “the Father of Lies” by critics who claim that his ‘histories’ are little more than tall tales.

Heraclius, as we now read, is spread ‘all over the place’ (my description):

 

At one level his name is associated with two categories of classical nomenclature: (1) ancient classical offices such as the consulship, as well as (2) many of the most exciting heroes, places, precedents, and objects of classical, ancient Near Eastern, and Biblical antiquity: Carthage, Nineveh, Jerusalem, the vicinity of Alexander the Great’s triumph over the Persians at Gaugamela, Noah’s Ark, the Golden Gate in Jerusalem, Arbela, the fragments of the True Cross, Damascus, Antioch, perhaps even ancient Armenia’s Tigra- nocerta, and of course, Constantinople.

 

Mackey’s comment: According to a late source (conventionally 600 years after Heraclius): “The historian Elmacin recorded in the 13th Century that in the 7th Century the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius had climbed Jabal Judi in order to see the place where the Ark had landed”. http://bibleprobe.com/noahark-timeline.htm

At least the correct mountain may figure here. See my:

Mountain of Landing for the Ark of Noah

 

https://www.academia.edu/19675406/Mountain_of_Landing_for_the_Ark_of_Noah

 

Biblically, Heraclius has been compared with such luminaries as Noah, Moses, David, Solomon, Daniel, and even with Jesus Christ.

And no wonder in the case of David! For we read in Steven H. Wander’s article for JSTOR, “The Cyprus Plates and the “Chronicle” of Fredegar” (pp. 345-346):

https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1291381.pdf

 

…. there is one episode from the military career of Heraclius that bears a striking similarity to the story of David and Goliath.

Byzantine chroniclers record that during his campaign against the Emperor Chosroes in 627, Heraclius fought the Persian general Razatis in single combat, beheading his opponent like the Israelite hero.6 George of Pisidia, the court poet, may have even connected this contemporary event with the life of David. In his epic panegyrics on Heraclius’ Persian wars, he compared the Emperor to such Old Testament figures as Noah, Moses, and Daniel; unfortunately the verses of his Heraclias that, in all likelihood, dealt in detail with the combat are lost.6

 

[End of quote]

 

That fateful year 627 AD again, the year also of the supposed Battle of Nineveh said to have been fought and won by Heraclius!

According to Shaun Tougher, The Reign of Leo VI (886-912): Politics and People: “Heraclius … appears to have been intent on establishing himself as a new David …”.

Likewise, in the case of Charlemagne, as I noted in my:

Solomon and Charlemagne. Part One: Life of Charlemagne

https://www.academia.edu/24342059/Solomon_and_Charlemagne._Part_One_Life_of_Charlemagne

 

…. Charlemagne has indeed been likened to King Solomon of old, e.g. by H. Daniel-Rops (The Church in the Dark Ages, p. 395), who calls him a “witness of God, after the style of Solomon …”, and he has been spoken of in terms of the ancient kings of Israel; whilst Charlemagne’s father, Pepin the Short, was hailed as “the new king David’.

 

[End of quote]

 

So it appears that Heraclius may have some strong competition from the West in his ‘aspiring’ to be either the new King David or the new King Solomon!

Kaegi continues:

 

He and his writers sought to associate his name with famous names from antiquity: Alexander, Scipio and Constantine I, and with the Biblical Moses and David. Yet he will have to compete with a new name: Muhammad.

 

Mackey’s comment: He is up there with Scipio and Hannibal (another most dubious ‘historical’ character as well).

Thus we read at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclius

 

Edward Gibbon in his work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wrote:

 

Of the characters conspicuous in history, that of Heraclius is one of the most extraordinary and inconsistent. In the first and last years of a long reign, the emperor appears to be the slave of sloth, of pleasure, or of superstition, the careless and impotent spectator of the public calamities. But the languid mists of the morning and evening are separated by the brightness of the meridian sun; the Arcadius of the palace arose the Caesar of the camp; and the honor of Rome and Heraclius was gloriously retrieved by the exploits and trophies of six adventurous campaigns. […] Since the days of Scipio and Hannibal, no bolder enterprise has been attempted than that which Heraclius achieved for the deliverance of the empire.[52]

[End of quote]

 

As for “Muhammad” (Mohammed), we have found him out to be a massive biblical composite.

Given all the biblico-historical baggage with which emperor Heraclius has been fitted down through the centuries, it is little wonder then that, according to Kaegi:

 

No preceding or subsequent Byzantine emperor saw so much: the Araxes, the Khabur, Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias).

….

Heraclius was controversial while living and is controversial today. ….

 

Mackey’s comment: That last is putting it mildly.

But how can one such as Kaegi possibly (and all credit to him for trying) write a biography of Heraclius when, according to Kaegi’s own testimony:

 

Lacunae exist in our knowledge of Heraclius. First of all there are doubts about basic chronology, sometimes due to conflicting reports in the sources, at other times due to omissions of information about certain of his activities. Heraclius and his advisers left no diaries, memoirs, or personal letters. There are no archives of original documents. It is impossible to know biographical details about him that might be standard for nineteenth- and twentieth-century figures. The chronology is inexact for some important events.

 

Mackey’s comment: Phew! Yet, despite that horrific sequence of negatives:

 

… it is not the worst-documented period of the Byzantine Empire, for there is more documentation than for some other reigns of the seventh century, and for many of those of the fifth century.

 

Mackey’s comment: God help us!

Kaegi again:

 

Mysteries abound. The ultimate goals of Heraclius remain obscure. What did Heraclius really want? ….

 

 

I don’t think that we shall ever know.

Stellar Life and Career of the holy Prophet Job

 Screen shot 2016-05-01 at 1.56.52 PM

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

Part One: Origin and Influences

  

A companion of kings and princes, ruler of governors and generals, friend to the poor, having himself actually attained to kingship for many years. Most favoured amongst men by God, his lifelong Friend, he was also the travelling companion of an archangel.

  

Introduction

 

In the first article that I ever wrote identifying holy Job with Tobias, son of Tobit, entitled:

 

Job: Arabian Sheikh or Israelite Sage?

 

published in Mentalities/Mentalités (Outrigger, Vol. 13, no. 1-2 October 1998), I thought that I was being helpful by referring to the prophet throughout the article by the composite name of TOB, to simplify Tobias = Job. A reader, however, complained that this was, for him at least, a complicating factor. So, this time round, I shall refer to him – where convenient – as “the Prophet”.

 

Main Biographical Details:

Family, Tribe, Geography and Era

 

Tribe, Family and Name

 

The Prophet arose from a Naphtalian family of Israel that apparently favoured his own type of name, for (according to Tobit 1:1), Tobias was of: “… Tobit son of Tobiel, son of Ananiel, son of Aduel, son of Gabael, of the lineage of Asiel and tribe of Naphtali”.

It needs to be realised, however, that “Tobit” (Τωβίθ or Τωβίτ) is the Greek form of the bearer’s original Hebrew name, which I believe to have been ‘Obadiah (עֹבַדְיָה), meaning “servant of the Lord”. Thus I would disagree with the usual view that the name arose from the Hebrew, Tovyah (טוביה), meaning “the Lord is good”.

The Greek τ (Tau) apparently substituted for the Hebrew ע (ayin) at the beginning of the name.

The name “Tobit” is actually an abbreviated form (עֹבַד) – without the inclusion of the theophoric iah element – of ‘Obadiah. The other related family names, “Tobias” and “Tobiel”, are just variants of Tobit – “Tobias” probably using a Greco-Roman ending, the way the prophet ‘Obadiah is variously referred to as “Obdios” (Septuagint) and “Abdias” (Vulgate).

In the name “Tobiel”, the iah (“Lord”) element has been replaced by the el (“God”) element.

The name, “Job” (אִיּוֹב), is thought to derive – despite my hopeful connecting of it to “Tobias” by the use of the composite TOB – from the Hebrew, ‘Iyyov, meaning “persecuted”, or “hated”. According to Bible Hub (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/347.htm), however, the name is actually “of uncertain derivation”. My suggestion, therefore, is that – considering that the Prophet hailed from Transjordania, geographically removed somewhat from mainstream Israel (see Geography section below) – this name was perhaps a local variation of ‘Obadiah, a quirk of dialect. (Recall the “Shibboleth” example of Judges 12:6).

 

The wife of Tobit, ‘of his own kinsfolk’, was called Anna (Tobit 1:9).

 

Now, in Arabic, the name ‘Obadiah is (in its el variant) rendered as ‘Abdullah (عَبْدُ ٱللّٰه), from ‘abdu llāh, “servant of God”.

What is most remarkable is that the parents of the Prophet, Tobit and Anna, have virtually the same names as the parents of the Prophet Mohammed: ‘Abdullah and Amna (or Aminah).

The Prophet is in fact the basic template for the anachronistic – and indeed, non-historical – Prophet Mohammed, at least for the period of the latter’s supposed birth to marriage.

 

Influences

 

The father, Tobit, tells us that he was most faithful to the observance of the Law, even from a young age (1:3-7). But the Law of Moses was not the only strong pedagogical influence shaping young Tobit, who became an orphan. There were also “the exhortations” of a certain ancestral woman named Deborah. Thus Tobit tells (v. 8):

 

‘I gave the third to orphans and widows and to the strangers who live among the Israelites; I brought it them as a gift every three years. When we ate, we obeyed both the ordinances of the law of Moses and the exhortations of Deborah the mother of our ancestor Ananiel; for my father had died and left me an orphan’.

 

One may wonder whether this could be the famous Deborah of the Book of Judges, who was indeed a teacher, judge and leader of Israel (Judges 4:4-5): “ Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided”.

If so, then it would be little wonder that her descendant, Tobit, would have been influenced by her “exhortations”. Some scholars think that the Hebrew name “Deborah” (דְּבוֹרָה), which is generally taken to mean, “bee”, may more appropriately – given Deborah’s teaching office – derive from the root, davar (רבָדָּ), “word”.

As the following texts shows, Deborah had close associations with Naphtali:

 

Judges 4:6-10:

 

[Deborah] sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands’.

Barak said to her, ‘If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go’.

‘Certainly I will go with you’, said Deborah. ‘But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman’. So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him.

 

Judges 5:18 (“Song of Deborah”): “The people of Zebulun risked their very lives; so did Naphtali on the terraced fields”.

 

Geography

 

The family hailed from the fertile Hauran valley region of Bashan (Batanaea, or “Ecbatana”). This is the very region where Arabic traditions, in particular, locate the home of holy Job, it being the biblical “land of Uz” which was “of the East” (Job 1:1, 3).

The Assyrian army came to this very region in the time of king Shalmaneser, known as III (but who, like Job, has alter egos). Tobit and his family then became captives of Assyria and were transported to “Nineveh”, living at “Elkosh” (Ali Kosh) about 20 miles N. of Nineveh.

 

Era

 

The Prophet was born to Tobit and Anna at a dramatic time for the tribes of the Galilean region of the northern kingdom of Israel, right on the eve of the exile when the powerful Assyrians first began encroaching into the land (cf. Tobit 1:9 and 10). These invasions were led by “Shalmaneser king of Assyria” (v. 2). Conventionally speaking, the era is approximately 730 BC. This is a far cry from the pre-Abrahamic times where some would seek to locate the Prophet. And it also well post-dates the Judges era, meaning that, if the famous Deborah were an ancestor of the Prophet, Tobit’s genealogy must contain gaps.

 

Part Two: Growing up in Assyria

  • Pre-Married Phase

 

 

 

Here I shall outline the life of the Prophet during its Assyrian phase, from childhood to adulthood, all of which belongs to a pre-Book of Job phase of this very long life.

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

The account of the Prophet as we read about it in the Book of Job will be found substantially to post-date the Assyrian phase of his life, by which I mean the years during which he lived in Assyria, rather than whatever years of his life may have extended beyond the destruction of Nineveh and the fall of the kingdom of Assyria.

The Book of Job may occasionally harken back to these earlier days, e.g. this protest of the Prophet’s to God (Job 13:26): ‘For you write down bitter things against me and make me reap the sins of my youth’. But, for the detailed account of the major events in his life that occurred during those Assyrian years, we must turn to the Book of Tobit. It covers, in some detail, the life of the family from the Prophet’s childhood to his marriage, and it concludes with some much later details again, such as the death of Tobit and his son’s living to witness, and to rejoice over, the Fall of Nineveh (conventionally dated to c. 612 BC).

 

 

From Childhood to Adulthood

 

A Highly-Honoured Family

 

Whatever may have been the status of this Naphtalian family during its history prior to the Assyrian captivity under king Shalmaneser – and whether it may have been accorded status in the kingdom of Israel owing to a possible family connection with the great woman, Deborah (refer back to Part One) – some of it members certainly attained to the highest of rank during the captivity phase. Previously I wrote of this:

 

‘I [Tobit] was [king Shalmaneser’s] buyer of provisions’.

 

Tobit 1:13

 

Tobit, an exile, must have been a person of exceptional competence to have so risen in the kingdom of Assyria to become purveyor, or quartermaster, of the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser.

That particular rank in Assyria, termed rab[i] ekalli or rab ša muḫḫi ekalli (“… in Middle Assyrian times the ša muḫḫi ekalli is used synonymously to rab ekalli”: https://www.academia.edu/7640201/2015_Food_and_drink_for_the_palace_the_manageme), may have been a very high one indeed. For, according to this following estimation of the rank

http://ancientpeoples.tumblr.com/post/30101734778/assyrian-rule-of-conquered-territory-the

 

Directly under the king were three officers. The turtannu, or field marshal; the ummânu, vice-chancellor; and the rab ša muḫḫi ekalli, the major-domo. The latter was the most important and the only one with direct access to the king (though the king could of course require the audience of lower ranked men himself); even the field marshal and the vice-chancellor had to go through the major-domo to request a meeting.

[End of quote]

 

But Tobit was not the only person of high rank in this most talented family of his (https://books.google.com.au/books?id=d5PXD5saod4C&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq=tobit+was+king’s+quartermaster):

 

The family of Tobit, as we meet them in the Book of Tobit, are exceptional people. Tobit himself becomes procurator general, quartermaster for King Shalmaneser, and is sent on important purchasing expeditions to Media (Persia). His nephew Ahiqar becomes royal cupbearer, in effect the administrator of the entire empire. Their kinsman Gabiel in Media also has an important post there.

[End of quote]

 

And we could add to this impressive list Tobit’s very own son, Tobias, as Job (see my:

 

Job’s Life and Times

 

https://www.academia.edu/3787850/Jobs_Life_and_Times

 

who would, for his part, rise to highest judicial office. One has only to read e.g. Job 29:7-10:

 

‘When I went to the gate of the city

and took my seat in the public square,

the young men saw me and stepped aside

and the old men rose to their feet;

the chief men refrained from speaking

and covered their mouths with their hands;

the voices of the nobles were hushed,

and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths’.

[End of quotes]

 

In this last case, the honourable career here described is yet something that is situated well into the future, after the Prophet will have married and have begotten children. His life has yet to experience some extraordinary vicissitudes, ranging from the darkest of family miseries to the stellar heights of Divine favouritism.

The Prophet will be – just as with his father – ‘tested like gold in the furnace of tribulation’.

Running parallel to the vicissitudes of the Naphtalian family will be some of the most dramatic moments in all of ancient history: the Assyrian wolf on the fold.

 

Shalmaneser succeeded by Sennacherib

 

Sennacherib Invades Judah

 

An historical detail given in Tobit 1:15, which flies in the face of the conventional Assyriology, is perfectly compatible with my own reconstruction of the neo-Assyrian succession, according to which king Shalmaneser was succeeded by his son, king Sennacherib (who was Sargon II). “When Shalmaneser died, his son Sennacherib succeeded him as emperor. It soon became so dangerous to travel on the roads in Media that I could no longer go there”.

This situation must have effectively curtailed the most promising career of Tobit, for whom things would become only progressively worse, for a time, in the course of Sennacherib’s reign.

None of this, of course, was dire enough to curtail the charitable works of mercy habitually performed by Tobit, who continued to do just as he had done during the reign of Shalmaneser (Tobit 1:16-17):

 

‘I took good care of my own people whenever they were in need. If they were hungry, I shared my food with them; if they needed clothes, I gave them some of my own. Whenever I saw that the dead body of one of my people had been thrown outside the city wall, I gave it a decent burial’.

 

Tobit would still be preaching the importance of almsgiving on his very death bed, using, to, illustrate it, the famous incident of Ahiqar and Nadab. Ahiqar – Tobit’s high-ranking nephew, as we read above – because he gave alms and practised works of mercy, was saved (14:10):

 

Remember what Nadab did to Ahikar his own uncle who had brought him up. He tried to kill Ahikar and forced him to go into hiding …. Ahikar came back into the light of day, but God sent Nadab down into everlasting darkness for what he had done. Ahikar escaped the deadly trap which Nadab had set for him, because Ahikar had given generously to the poor. But Nadab fell into that fatal trap and it destroyed him.

 

This ‘Ahiqar and Nadab’ incident, too, is still well into the future of where we presently are in relation to the early reign of Sennacherib.

What had caused “the roads to Media [read Midian]” to become unsafe for Tobit?

It was Sennacherib’s energetic campaigning to the west:

 

  • In his 9th year, the king sent the commander of his army to quash a revolt in “Ashdod” [read Lachish]. The Bible refers to the Assyrian king here as “Sargon”. Isaiah 20:1: “In the year that Turtan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it”.
  • In his 10th year, with the Assyrian king still at home, pre-occupied with his pet project, his new city of Dur Sharrukin (“Fortress of Sargon”), Yatna, the governor of Ashdod led a revolt against Assyria.
  • In his 11th year, the king of Assyria marched on king Hezekiah’s Judah and laid siege to Jerusalem.

 

This western campaign was enormously successful for the king of Assyria, with king Hezekiah of Judah being brought into complete submission. Sennacherib does not exaggerate at all when he boasts, in one of his Bull inscriptions: “I devastated the wide province of Judah: the strong proud Hezekiah, its king, I brought in submission to my feet”.

That Hezekiah was a proud king is also attested in 2 Chronicles 32:25: “But Hezekiah’s heart was proud …”.

So, indeed, was Sennacherib proud, perhaps even to the point of self-deification. According to Tobit, the Assyrian king now went too far (1:18): “One day Sennacherib cursed God, the King of Heaven; God punished him, and Sennacherib had to retreat from Judah. On his way back to Media he was so furious that he killed many Israelites”.

This text, as it now reads, confuses the geography by having the Assyrian king returning to “Media” after his campaigning in Judah. It may also be telescoping two different invasions of Sennacherib, the highly successful first one, and a disastrous second one nearly a decade later.

Tobit’s nephew, Ahiqar, will figure prominently in both of these Assyrian campaigns, firstly as the insolent, Hebrew-speaking Rabshakeh, the mouthpiece of Sennacherib, and, secondly, as the impressive Achior of the Book of Judith.

 

Tobit Forced to Flee Sennacherib

 

With the return to the east of the triumphant Sennacherib, who will soon now, in his 12th year, proceed to attack the troublesome king of Babylon, Merodach-baladan, the fortunes of Tobit and his family will take a real dive. The Book of Judith opens with Sennacherib’s Year 12 war against Merodach-baladan, but names Sennacherib as “Nebuchadnezzar” and it names Merodach-baladan as “Arphaxad”, and has the latter ruling in (also geographically troubling in the Book of Tobit) Median Ecbatana (Judith 1:1): “It was the twelfth year of the rule of Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh. In those days, Arphaxad ruled the Medes in Ecbatana”.

Whilst there will be a rise in the fortunes of the crown prince of Assyria, Ashur-nadin-shumi, now installed by his father, Sennacherib, as the new King of Babylon, Tobit, for his part, at approximately the same time, will have to flee for his life, the family reduced to utter poverty (Tobit 1:18-20):

 

…. [Sennacherib] was so furious that he killed many Israelites. But I secretly removed the bodies and buried them; and when Sennacherib later searched for the bodies, he could not find them. Then someone from Nineveh told the emperor that I was the one who had been burying his victims. As soon as I realized that the emperor knew all about me and that my life was in danger, I became frightened. So I ran away and hid. Everything I owned was seized and put in the royal treasury. My wife Anna and my son Tobias were all I had left.

 

That “someone from Nineveh told the emperor” may indicate that Tobit and his family were actually dwelling outside of Nineveh. In Part One, I had written, regarding their place of residence: “Tobit and his family then became captives of Assyria and were transported to “Nineveh”, living at “Elkosh” (Ali Kosh) about 20 miles N. of Nineveh”.

This distance from Nineveh may have facilitated Tobit’s being able to hide, as well as the fact that, according to at least one version of Tobit (from memory), he, being greatly loved, had many friends willing to assist him.

 

Ahiqar intervenes for Tobit

 

A surface reading of the Book of Tobit would suggest that Sennacherib’s death by assassination had actually occurred whilst Tobit was yet in hiding, and that Tobit’s re-instatement, thanks to the intervention of Ahiqar, had belonged to the succeeding reign, Esarhaddon’s.

And this might well turn out to be the case.

My own interpretation of it all, though, has been that the Book of Tobit is here, and once again, telescoping long-ranging events.

That we are still only about halfway through the reign of Sennacherib.

Ahiqar, as Sennacherib’s high-ranking Rabshakeh, had performed most competently on behalf of the Assyrian king in the vicinity of Jerusalem – and much to the chagrin of king Hezekiah’s chief officials (2 Kings 18:26): “Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, and Shebna and Joah said to the field commander, ‘Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall’.” No doubt Sennacherib had chosen Ahiqar to be his mouthpiece before the Jews because of the fact that Ahiqar was an Israelite, who could speak Hebrew (and apparently Aramaïc) most fluently. So, Ahiqar would have been, at this point in time, in high standing with Sennacherib.

It is not too far-fetched, then, to suggest that Ahiqar would have been able to persuade the angry Sennacherib to relent on behalf of Tobit.

Even though one might imagine – from the telescoping aspect of the Book of Tobit – that Tobit had almost immediately, then, plunged into his next (and even worse) trial, his blindness and his wishing for death, an awareness of the chronology of king Sennacherib allows for a period of time to elapse. And this, I think, needs to be taken into account, too, when one is reading the Book of Job, which is in many ways so reminiscent of the Book of Tobit (see e.g. comment on Tobit 2:12-16 in the next section). The Prophet’s four initial trials are narrated in rapid succession, as if, whilst he was being informed of one catastrophe, a messenger was hurrying in with dire news of another (1:16, 17, 18):

 

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’

While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’

 

The Hebrew allows for, I think – at least from my reading of it – a somewhat more conciliatory translation of these verses, more along the lines of: ‘Whilst this last tragedy was still in the memory of people …’, thereby providing for some degree of respite.

And so I think it may also have been in the case of Tobit, with some years intervening between his flight from the wrath of Sennacherib and his being afflicted with blindness.

 

Tobit Struck Blind

 

Tobit, continuing to do what he inevitably did, his works of mercy, would now really begin to incur the ridicule of his relatives. This next incident, leading to his blindness, involves his son as well (Tobit 2:1-8: Douay):

 

But after this, when there was a festival of the Lord, and a good dinner was prepared in [Tobit’s] house, He said to his son: ‘Go, and bring some of our tribe that fear God, to feast with us’. And when he had gone, returning he told him, that one of the children of Israel lay slain in the street. And he forthwith leaped up from his place at the table, and left his dinner, and came fasting to the body: And taking it up carried it privately to his house, that after the sun was down, he might bury him cautiously. And when he had hid the body, he ate bread with mourning and fear, Remembering the word which the Lord spoke by Amos the prophet: Your festival days shall be turned into lamentation and mourning. So when the sun was down, he went and buried him. Now all his neighbours blamed him, saying: Once already commandment was given for thee to be slain because of this matter, and thou didst scarce escape the sentence of death, and dost thou again bury the dead?

 

This concern on behalf of “all his neighbours” – and likewise Tobit’s surreptitious behaviour – would make more sense if it were expressed (enacted) still during the reign of Sennacherib and his “commandment” of death in relation to Tobit, and not during the reign of Esarhaddon, about whom we have no evidence of any such animosity towards Israel.

The text goes on to tell of Tobit’s persistence in the face of criticism, and the extraordinary circumstances that caused his blindness (vv. 9-11):

 

But [Tobit] fearing God more than the king, carried off the bodies of them that were slain, and hid them in his house, and at midnight buried them. Now it happened one day, that being wearied with burying, he came to his house, and cast himself down by the wall and slept, And as he was sleeping, hot dung out of a swallow’s nest fell upon his eyes, and he was made blind.

 

In the GNT version we learn of the kindness of Ahiqar that Tobit will later praise (v. 10): “For four years I could see nothing. My relatives were deeply concerned about my condition, and Ahikar supported me for two years before he went to the land of Elam”. (Cf. Judith 1:6: “Many nations joined forces with King Arphaxad—all the people who lived in the mountains, those who lived along the Tigris, Euphrates, and Hydaspes rivers, as well as those who lived in the plain ruled by King Arioch [read Ahiqar/Achior] of Elam”).

It is here, too, that the Douay (2:12-16) likens Tobit’s situation to that of “holy Job”, who would generally be regarded by commentators as a non-Israelite figure who well pre-dated Tobit:

 

Now this trial the Lord therefore permitted to happen to him, that an example might be given to posterity of his patience, as also of holy Job. For whereas he had always feared God from his infancy, and kept his commandments, he repined not against God because the evil of blindness had befallen him, But continued immoveable in the fear of God, giving thanks to God all the days of his life. For as the kings insulted over holy Job: so his relations and kinsmen mocked at his life, saying:

[15] Kings: So Job’s three friends are here called, because they were princes in their respective territories.

Where is thy hope, for which thou gavest alms, and buriedst the dead?

 

Tobit, just as feisty as his son would later prove himself to be in dialogue with his three friends (Book of Job), was not short of an answer. And – also as in the case of the Book of Job – Tobit and his wife will engage in some verbal sparring (vv. 17-23):

 

But Tobias rebuked them, saying: ‘Speak not so: For we are the children of the saints, and look for that life which God will give to those that never change their faith from him’.

Now Anna his wife went daily to weaving work, and she brought home what she could get for their living by the labour of her hands. Whereby it came to pass, that she received a young kid, and brought it home: And when her husband heard it bleating, he said: ‘Take heed, lest perhaps it be stolen: restore ye it to its owners, for it is not lawful for us either to eat or to touch anything that cometh by theft’. At these words his wife being angry answered: ‘It is evident thy hope is come to nothing, and thy alms now appear’. And with these, and other such like words she upbraided him.

 

Τhis pre-marital phase of the life of the Prophet – who, so far, has been a figure lurking in the background, secondary to Tobit – will terminate with the parallel tragic scenario of his father, Tobit, praying for death (like the prophets Elijah and Jonah before him), and his future wife, Sarah, in distant “Ecbatana” (Bashan, from whence they all hailed), even contemplating suicide. The text also introduces us, for the first time, to a purely spiritual being, in this case the demon, Asmodeus, “the worst of demons”, who is a primary cause of Sarah’s grief.

Firstly to Tobit’s lament (Tobit 3:1-6):

 

Then, sad at heart, I [Tobit] sighed and wept, and began this prayer of lamentation:

You are just, O Lord, and just are all your works. All your ways are grace and truth, and you are the Judge of the world. Therefore, Lord, remember me, look on me. Do not punish me for my sins or for my needless faults or those of my ancestors.

For we have sinned against you and broken your commandments; and you have given us over to be plundered, to captivity and death, to be the talk, the laughing-stock and scorn of all the nations among whom you have dispersed us. And now all your decrees are true when you deal with me as my faults deserve, and those of my ancestors. For we have neither kept your commandments nor walked in truth before you. So now, do with me as you will; be pleased to take my life from me; so that I may be delivered from earth and become earth again. Better death than life for me, for I have endured groundless insult and am in deepest sorrow. Lord, be pleased to deliver me from this affliction. Let me go away to my everlasting home; do not turn your face from me, O Lord. Better death for me than life prolonged in the face of unrelenting misery: I can no longer bear to listen to insults.

 

And now to the incredible situation confronting Sarah, in “Ecbatana” (vv. 7-15):

 

It chanced on the same day that Sarah the daughter of Raguel, who lived in Media at Ecbatana, also heard insults from one of her father’s maids. For she had been given in marriage seven times, and Asmodeus, the worst of demons, had killed her bridegrooms one after another before ever they had slept with her as man with wife. The servant-girl said, ‘Yes, you kill your bridegrooms yourself. That makes seven already to whom you have been given, and you have not once been in luck yet. Just because your bridegrooms have died, that is no reason for punishing us. Go and join them, and may we be spared the sight of any child of yours!’ That day, she grieved, she sobbed, and she went up to her father’s room intending to hang herself. But then she thought, ‘Suppose they were to blame my father! They would say, “You had an only daughter whom you loved, and now she has hanged herself for grief”. I cannot cause my father a sorrow which would bring down his old age to the dwelling of the dead. I should do better not to hang myself, but to beg the Lord to let my die and not live to hear any more insults’. And at this, by the window, with outstretched arms she said this prayer: You are blessed, O God of mercy! May your name be blessed for ever, and may all things you have made bless you everlastingly. And now I turn my face and I raise my eyes to you. Let your word deliver me from earth; I can hear myself insulted no longer. O Lord, you know that I have remained pure; no man has touched me; I have not dishonoured your name or my father’s name in this land of exile. I am my father’s only daughter, he has no other child as heir; he has no brother at his side, nor has he any kinsman left for whom I ought to keep myself. I have lost seven husbands already; why should I live any longer? If it does not please you to take my life, then look on me with pity; I can no longer bear to hear myself defamed.

 

All’s well that ends well, however! Relief is now in sight for both Tobit and Sarah.

Enter the healing archangel Raphael (vv. 16-17):

 

This time the prayer of each of them found favour before the glory of God, and Raphael was sent to bring remedy to them both. He was to take the white spots from the eyes of Tobit, so that he might see God’s light with his own eyes; and he was to give Sarah the daughter of Raguel as bride to Tobias son of Tobit, and to rid her of Asmodeus, that worst of demons. For it was to Tobias before all other suitors that she belonged by right. Tobit was coming back from the courtyard into the house at the same moment as Sarah the daughter of Raguel was coming down from the upper room.

 

“Tobit was coming back from the courtyard into the house at the same moment as Sarah the daughter of Raguel was coming down from the upper room”.

Only the angel could have known that!

 

 

(ii) Tobit imparts his Maxims

 

 

Tobit, now blind and longing for death, passes on to his son the treasures of his wisdom.  

 

 

 

‘Do good works all the days of your life’

 

With Tobit now blind, and convinced that he is about to die, his sensational career at a standstill, it is now that his youthful son, the Prophet, will emerge from the shadows to take centre stage. In Tobit 4:1-2 we read: “The same day Tobit remembered the silver that he had left with Gabael at Rhages in Media and thought, ‘I have come to the point of praying for death; I should do well to call my son Tobias and tell him about the money before I die’.”

This will turn out to be a golden (and silver) opportunity for the Prophet.

The city of “Rhages” I have taken to stand for, originally, Damascus.

Tobit will now also hand down to his son a moral ‘inheritance’ that will remain with the Prophet for the rest of his long life. I refer to:

 

Tobit’s Maxims (4:3-21)

 

These are rules of behaviour, compatible with the Mosaïc Law (and perhaps the “exhortations” of Deborah), pertaining to honouring one’s parents; works of mercy; social justice; almsgiving (a pet subject of Tobit’s); and purity of heart.

There is an important link here with the Book of Job. For when the Prophet’s three friends – presumably versed in similar rules of behaviour – openly accuse the Prophet of various forms of injustice and immorality, he will reply by swearing before them of his faithful observance of these (what are in effect his father’s) proper rules of behaviour.

In fact, this most righteous of men (Job 1:1, 8) will, in at least one case (see next section), go even beyond the instruction that his father had enjoined upon him.

 

Purity of heart

 

Tobit had advised his son (Tobit 4:12):

 

‘My child, avoid all loose conduct. Choose a wife of your father’s stock. Do not take a foreign wife outside your father’s tribe, because we are the children of the prophets. Remember Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, our ancestors from the beginning. All of them took wives from their own kindred, and they were blessed in their children, and their race will inherit the earth’.

 

But the Prophet had declared – anticipating Jesus’s teaching of purity of heart (Matthew 5:28) – (Job 31:1): ‘I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman’.

Whilst this may not be a popular doctrine in our day and age, it is actually a key to the Prophet’s greatness and accounts for his wise and towering intellect. The ancient Hebrew sages, such as king Solomon (who failed to persevere in the doctrine), had appreciated that God himself was the source of true wisdom, which could not be attained without Him.

 

Thus Proverbs (1:7): “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge”.

 

And Sirach 1:14: “To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and it was created with the faithful in the womb”.

 

Philosopher-scientist Dr Gavin Ardley has written along similar lines when contrasting the pseudo-philosophers (with their intellectual scruples) with the wise who have not abandoned common sense (Berkeley’s Renovation of Philosophy, Martinus Nijhoff, 1968, p. 83): “Behind the façade of superior reasoning and high ideals there lurks moral corruption. So, in the end, Berkeley’s reforms come down to the Delphic precept: “Know Thyself”, or, what amounts to the same thing, Plato’s precept: “Virtue is Knowledge” …”.

One might add to these, Tobit’s precept (Tobit 4:5-6):

 

‘My child, be faithful to the Lord all your days. Never entertain the will to sin or to transgress his laws. Do good works all the days of your life, never follow ways that are not upright; for if you act in truthfulness, you will be successful in all your actions, as everyone is who practises what is upright’.

 

Ardley adds an enlightening footnote [n. 1] to the above:

 

Aristotle, in his discussion of akrasia in Nic. Eth. Vii subjects this dictum to severe criticism. The criticism is just, in Aristotle’s context. Yet Aristotle misses the deeper significance of the dictum in Plato’s context. Under the influence of Aristotle’s abrupt dealing with Plato, odium has been heaped on the dictum ever since. St. Augustine is one of the few who had ever seen what Plato was driving at: that moral reformation must precede speculation; that only as we practice virtue will our intellect “tower up to eternity” (De Civ. Dei viii, 3) …”.

 

This explanation would account for why our universities and academies are full of so many ‘intelligentsia’ who ‘know stuff’, plenty of ‘stuff’, but whose knowledge can often be shallow, uninsightful, and entirely divorced from common sense.

The righteous Prophet, on the other hand, was a man of vast practical and speculative knowledge and wisdom, arising from a righteous and uncorrupted soul. That is why God the Creator could boast of him (Job 1:8): “Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil’.”

There is a great interest in angels again today. But only the very pure of heart are generally privileged in this life with contact with the angelic world. There are also those (http://www.kwl.com.au/kwl-books/prep-kinder/20/5203-Real-Angels,-(and-‘new-Age’-Counterfeits):

 

“SENSITIVE NEW AGE ANGELS”

Today it is hard to ignore angels when the New Age movement is promoting them, with recurring coverage in films and television. This is another reason why they must find some place in modern catechetics. But these “new age angels” inhabit their own realm of fluffy clouds and bad art. They pop up in science fiction and adorn sugary little books and calendars. This trend can confuse us because the “sensitive new age angel” is not what the Catholic Church really teaches about angels.

The “new age angel” sometimes turns out to be a dead human being who “turned into an angel”, echoing the nonsense once told to bereaved children, “Daddy has gone to be an angel”. But people do not turn into angels. There is an essential difference between human beings and angelic beings. When we die, we do not turn into some other being.

 

The holy mystic and stigmatic, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, was one who was fully alive to the presence of the angels: https://www.ewtn.com/padrepio/mystic/angels.htm

 

It is the conviction of the Church that every human being is assigned an angel of God to be his guardian, an angel who has as his task to “lead (us) to the place that (God) has prepared,” heaven. Not everyone listens attentively to their guardian angel, however, as he seeks to enlighten them through the voice of conscience to avoid sin, or gives them good inspirations to the love and service of God and neighbor. Certainly Padre Pio was one who did, from the earliest years of life, so that God granted him the vision not only of his own guardian angel but those of others. Many times it was through the guardian angel of a person that their need was brought to Padre Pio’s attention, who then prayed for that person.

 

The archangel Raphael, will now step in to answer the prayers of Tobit and Sarah.

As part of the solution, Raphael will guide the Prophet to Sarah, so that he may marry her.

 

(iii) Road to “Ecbatana”

 

 

Despite the criticisms of biblical commentators, the angel Raphael

knows exactly which road to take.

 

 

 

Go West Young Man

 

Finding the road to “Ecbatana”

 

Totally sincere would have been the young Prophet when he replied to his father (Tobit 5:1): ‘Father, I shall do everything you have told me’. Much later he would, for instance, bury his parents as his father had just now requested (4:3-4):

 

‘When I die, give me an honourable burial. Honour your mother, and never abandon her all the days of your life. Do all that she wants, and give her no reason for sorrow. Remember, my child, all the risks she ran for your sake when you were in her womb. And when she dies, bury her at my side in the same grave’.

 

And would request again on his death-bed (14:10).

But the Prophet was yet inexperienced and reliant upon his father, and so, full of questions (5:2): ‘But how am I to recover the silver from him? He does not know me, nor I him. What token am I to give him for him to believe me and hand the silver over to me? And besides, I do not know what roads to take for this journey into Media [Midian]’. Upon his father’s advice to ‘find a trustworthy travelling companion’ (v. 3), the young man “went out to look for a man who knew the way to go with him to Media” (v. 4). Most conveniently: “Outside he found Raphael the angel standing facing him, though he did not guess he was an angel of God”. According to the Vulgate version (5:5): “Then Tobias going forth, found a beautiful young man, standing girded, and as it were ready to walk”. As I have written before, this wonderful moment was appropriated by the writer of The Odyssey: “In the Book of Tobit, this messenger is the angel Raphael (in the guise of ‘Azarias’). In The Odyssey, it is the goddess Athene (in the guise of ‘Mentes’). In both cases, the Hebrew and the Greek, the guide belongs to a family well-known to the father.

To the Prophet’s direct question to Raphael as ‘Azarias’ (5:5): ‘Do you know the road to Media?’, the angel replied with impressive detail (v. 6):

 

‘Certainly I do, I have been there many times; I have knowledge and experience of all the ways. I have often been to Media and stayed with Gabael one of our kinsmen who lives at Rhages in Media. It usually takes two full days to get from Ecbatana to Rhages; Rhages lies in the mountains, and Ecbatana is in the middle of the plain’.

 

Neither the fact that Raphael possesses an angelic intellect, however, nor his confident description of the way, will impress certain biblical commentators that he really knows what he is talking about in terms of geography.

 

Median Ecbatana, Nineveh and Har[r]an

 

 

Was the angel Raphael leading young Tobias

‘right up the garden path’?

 

On the surface of things, the angel Raphael got his geography badly wrong when attempting to lead the Prophet to the land of “Media”, and to “Rhages” and “Ecbatana” therein. And this despite the angel’s assurance to the ageing Tobit (5:10): ‘Yes, I can go with him, for I know all the routes. I have often travelled to Media and crossed all its plains and mountains; so I know every road well’.

However, departing from Nineveh, which is well west of Median Ecbatana (at far right in map), the travellers arrive in the evening at the Tigris River, which is even west of Nineveh. In other words, they are going in quite the wrong direction – exactly opposite to the way that they ought to be heading!

This absurd situation has prompted Fr. D. Dumm, in The Jerome Biblical Commentary (article “Tobit”, footnote comment on 5a), to remark that: “Raphael knows the journey of life far better than the route to Media!”

Whilst, according to The Jerusalem Bible, “the geography is inexact”.

The fact that the Douay-Rheims version of Tobit adds “Charan” (Harran/Haran, see map) as a ‘midway’ point in the journey (Tobit 11:1) serves only to reinforce the view that the travellers are going right away from their intended (as customarily estimated) destination in the east.

When Raphael and the Prophet are properly understood to have been travelling from Nineveh westwards, not the usually presumed eastwards, then their arrival at the Tigris River in the evening, and later at “Charan” in the midway, and finally at “Ecbatana”, makes perfect sense. “Media” then becomes, with a slight tweak (and that is all that is needed with this scenario), Midian. And indeed there are extant versions of the Book of Tobit that supply the appropriate place names here (“Midian” and “Bathania”). Median Ecbatana and Rhages (var. Rhaga, Rau) do not fit the Book of Tobit scenario either directionally or topographically, as the former is in the mountains, whereas Tobit’s Ecbatana was in the plain, whilst Rages, in the mountains in Tobit, is in the plain in Media.

It is simply all the wrong way around!

The Book of Tobit’s city of Rages must be the city of Damascus, which fits exactly insofar as it is in the mountain of Bashan, exactly two miles from where tradition places Job (our Tobias). Previously I have written on this:

 

… whereas the journey from Tobit’s Ecbatana to Rages normally took “two full days”, the almost 200-mile journey from the Median Ecbatana to Rhages would have taken significantly longer. In fact it took the army of Alexander the Great 11 days at full gallop to march from the one to the other …. Rightly then does Jan Simons observe (according to a Median context) that the journey referred to in the Book of Tobit “would be a forced ‘journey of two days’ even for an express messenger” ….

…. So we find that the real Raphael [not Fr. Dumm’s inept version of him] was escorting the young Tobias, not eastwards, but westwards from Nineveh, to the Tigris crossing, then to Haran, and on to Bashan (where the angel then leaves on an early flight for Damascus).

I … discussed all this in Volume 2 [of my thesis, A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah and its Background], Ch. 2, pp. 38-40, where I had specifically claimed that “Rages”, a city in the mountains, must be the city of Damascus that dominated the province of Batanaea” (p. 39).

Damascus, almost 700 m above sea level, is actually situated on a plateau.

Secondly, I gave there very specific geographical details in order to identify this “Rages” in relation to “Ecbatana” (Tobit 5:6), which I had in turn identified (following the Heb. Londinii, or HL, fragment version of Tobit) with “Bathania”, or Bashan (possibly Herodotus’ Syrian Ecbatana as opposed to the better known Median Ecbatana). According to Tobit, “Rages is situated in the mountains, two days’ walk from Ecbatana which is in the plain”. Now Damascus is precisely two days’ walk from Bashan in the Hauran plain, as according to Jâkût el-Hamawi who says of Batanaea’s most central town of Nawâ …: “Between Nawa and Damascus is two days’ journey” (as quoted on p. 39). …. Whilst Bible scholars today tend to dismiss the whole geography of the Book of Tobit as nonsensical, a simple adjustment based on a genuine version (Heb. Londinii), makes perfect – even very precise (“two days walk”) – sense of it.

The testimony of Jâkût el-Hamawi here was an absolute clincher for me, not only when trying to make sense of the geography of the Book of Tobit, but also for having Tobias, with the angel, heading to the very region in Naphtali from where Tobit himself had hailed (Naphtalian Bashan) … [and again] from the point of view of having the geography of Tobit converge with that of Job (my Tobias) … with the pair of travellers heading to the very geographical region, Bashan, where ancient legends of Job place his home of Uz and his final resting place.

 

Syro-Arabic Traditions

 

Again, this Damascene region is the very one in which the Syro-Arabic traditions place the home of Job.

The Jâkût el-Hamawi and Moslem tradition generally mention the east Hauran fertile tract of country north-west of Têmâ and Bûzân, el-Bethenîje (i.e. Batanaea), as the district in which Job dwelt. According to Abufelda …: “The whole of Bethenije, a part of the province of Damascus, belonged to Job as his possession”.

The Syrian tradition also locates Job’s abode in Batanaea, where lies an ancient “Monastery of Job” (Dair Êjûb), built in honour of the holy man.

 

 

All the larger works on Palestine and Syria agree that “Uz” is not to be sought in Edom proper. In these works we also find it recorded that Batanaea is there called Job’s fatherland. In Batanaea itself the traveller hears this constantly. If any one speaks of the fruitfulness of the whole district; or of the fields around a village, he is always answered:

 

‘Is it not the land of Job (bilâd Êjûb)?’;

‘Does it not belong to the villages of Job (diâ Êjûb)?’.

 

It seems that Batanaea (Hauran) and the land of Job are synonymous.

 

Job’s Tomb and other Relics

 

Regarding Job’s tomb, we read from Ibn er-Râbi that …: “To the prophets buried in the region of Damascus belongs also Job, and his tomb is near Nawa, in the district of Hauran”.

Delitzsch … notes, in favour of Batanaea, that the “heap of ashes” (Job 2:8) upon which Job sat in his misery is variously translated as “dunghill”, and that only in a Batanaean context is there no contradiction, since the two were “synonymous notions”. There the dung, being useless for agricultural purposes, is burnt from time to time in an appointed place before the town; while in any other part of Syria it is as valuable as among any farmer. This distinctive fact, he concludes, is yet another indication that Job’s “land of Uz” cannot refer to the land of Edom.

[End of quotes]

 

The key easily fits the lock and does not need to be forced.

 

In something of a reversal of Jonah, the Prophet, spurred on by his angelic companion, catches a fish that is about to bite him (6:3-4). Parts of this fish will serve some marvellous purposes, as the angel explains (vv. 8-9):

 

‘You burn the fish’s heart and liver, and their smoke is used in the case of a man or woman plagued by a demon or evil spirit; any such affliction disappears for good, leaving no trace. As regards the gall, this is used as an eye ointment for anyone having white spots on his eyes; after using it, you have only to blow on the spots to cure them’.

 

In short, these parts will provide a cure for Sarah’s suffering from the demonic obsession of Asmodeus, and for Tobit’s blindness.

 

 

Part Three (i): Marriage.

Demise of Sennacherib

 

 

 

The whole breathtaking drama will now only intensify.

 

 

 

An Arranged Marriage

 

 

The Unselfish Couple

 

Tobit 6:10-14:

 

They entered Media and had nearly reached Ecbatana

when Raphael said to the boy, ‘Brother Tobias’. ‘Yes?’ he replied. The angel went on, ‘Tonight we are to stay with Raguel, who is a kinsman of yours. He has a daughter called Sarah, but apart from Sarah he has no other son or daughter. Now you are her next of kin; she belongs to you before anyone else and you may claim her father’s inheritance. She is a thoughtful, courageous and very lovely girl, and her father loves her dearly. You have the right to marry her. Listen, brother; this very evening I shall speak about the girl to her father and arrange for her to be betrothed to you, and when we come back from Rhages we can celebrate the marriage. I assure you, Raguel has no right whatever to refuse you or to betroth her to anyone else. That would be asking for death, as prescribed in the Book of Moses, once he is aware that kinship gives you the pre-eminent right to marry his daughter. So listen, brother. This very evening we shall speak about the girl and ask for her hand in marriage. When we come back from Rhages we shall fetch her and take her home with us’.

 

So far so good.

But the Prophet was quite aware of Sarah’s previous history with the demon, Asmodeus, and the death of a succession of husbands. Apart from his natural fear, he was concerned that he – an only son – would die and hence would not be able to bury his parents.

Note that Tobit’s maxims and commands are still ringing in his ears, who had enjoined upon him (4:3-4): ‘When I die, give me an honourable burial. Honour your mother …. And when she dies, bury her at my side in the same grave’. Thus (vv. 14-15):

 

Tobias replied to Raphael, ‘Brother Azarias, I have been told that she has already been given in marriage seven times and that each time her bridegroom has died in the bridal room. He died the same night as he entered her room; and I have heard people say it was a demon that killed them, and this makes me afraid. To her the demon does no harm because he loves her, but as soon as a man tries to approach her, he kills him. I am my father’s only son, and I have no wish to die. I do not want my father and mother to grieve over me for the rest of their lives; they have no other son to bury them’.

 

Just as Raphael had known how to get to “Ecbatana”, so does he well know how to get around the young man, simply by reminding him of his “father’s advice” to him (vv. 16-18):

 

The angel said, ‘Have you forgotten your father’s advice? After all, he urged you to choose a wife from your father’s family. Listen then, brother. Do not worry about the demon; take her. This very evening, I promise, she will be given you as your wife. Then once you are in the bridal room, take the heart and liver of the fish and lay a little of it on the burning incense. The reek will rise, the demon will smell it and flee, and there is no danger that he will ever be found near the girl again. Then, before you sleep together, first stand up, both of you, and pray. Ask the Lord of heaven to grant you his grace and protection. Do not be afraid; she was destined for you from the beginning, and you are the one to save her. She will follow you, and I pledge my word she will give you children who will be like brothers to you. Do not worry’.

 

(V. 19): “And when Tobias heard Raphael say this, when he understood that Sarah was his sister, a kinswoman of his father’s family, he fell so deeply in love with her that he could no longer call his heart his own”.

 

We recall that it was this very same motivation, concern for her parents (specifically her father), that had enabled Sarah to overcome her sadness and refrain from killing herself.

 

It is apparent from the reception given to the Prophet (and the angel) that the young man was ‘a chip off the old block’ (Tobit 7:2-7. KJV):

 

Then said Raguel to Edna his wife, How like is this young man to Tobit my cousin!

And Raguel asked them, From whence are ye, brethren? To whom they said, We are of the sons of Nephtalim, which are captives in Nineve.

Then he said to them, Do ye know Tobit our kinsman? And they said, We know him. Then said he, Is he in good health?

And they said, He is both alive, and in good health: and Tobias said, He is my father.

Then Raguel leaped up, and kissed him, and wept, And blessed him, and said unto him, Thou art the son of an honest and good man. But when he had heard that Tobit was blind, he was sorrowful, and wept.

 

This Raguel, I have surmised, may have been the aged Eliphaz of the Book of Job, who, whilst he obviously thought highly of the Prophet, harboured, at the same time, some deep misgivings. We find that same attitude expressed towards father Tobit, who was both admired and ridiculed by his Israelite neighbours for his unceasing works of mercy.

The names Raguel and Eliphaz had already met in I Chronicles 1:35: “The sons of Esau, Eliphaz, and Raguel …”, the only other case of the name Eliphaz in the Bible.

Like Eliphaz, at least, Raguel is willing to call a spade a spade (Tobit 7:10-11): “For it is meet that thou shouldest marry my daughter: nevertheless I will declare unto thee the truth. I have given my daughter in marriage to seven men, who died that night they came in unto her …”. Raguel adds: “… nevertheless for the present be merry”.

Was he really thinking here: ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die’.

For, after signing the marriage agreement, and whilst the newlyweds were now alone together, “Raguel arose, and went and made a grave …” (8:9). Then (v. 12): “He said unto his wife Edna. ‘Send one of the maids, and let her see whether he be alive: if he be not, that we may bury him, and no man know it’.”

 

A Chaste Marriage

 

The marriage of the Prophet and Sarah is read at Christian marriage ceremonies as a model of right disposition (8:7): ‘And now, O Lord, I take not this my sister for lust but uprightly: therefore mercifully ordain that we may become aged together’.

Firstly, though, the Prophet must dispel the demon (vv. 2-3): “… he remembered the words of Raphael, and took the ashes of the perfumes, and put the heart and the liver of the fish thereupon, and made a smoke therewith. The which smell when the evil spirit had smelled, he fled into the utmost parts of Egypt, and the angel bound him”.

Even this episode might have its ‘echo’ at the beginning of The Odyssey, when the violent god, Poseidon (who seems to have a will of his own), is found amongst “the distant Ethiopians, the farthest outposts of mankind …” (I, 25).

 

The Prophet, once again mindful of his father’s maxims, this time the need to bless God at all times (4:19): ‘Bless the Lord thy God always, and desire of him that thy ways may be directed, and that all thy paths and counsels may prosper’, invited Sarah to pray with him (8:4-8):

 

And after that they were both shut in together, Tobias rose out of the bed, and said, Sister, arise, and let us pray that God would have pity on us.

Then began Tobias to say, Blessed art thou, O God of our fathers, and blessed is thy holy and glorious name for ever; let the heavens bless thee, and all thy creatures.

Thou madest Adam, and gavest him Eve his wife for an helper and stay: of them came mankind: thou hast said, It is not good that man should be alone; let us make unto him an aid like unto himself.

And now, O Lord, I take not this my sister for lust but uprightly: therefore mercifully ordain that we may become aged together.

And she said with him, Amen.

 

Raguel, for his part, satisfied that this marriage was not about to go the way of the seven previous ones, “bade his servants to fill in the grave” (v. 18).

The joyful wedding feast lasted for “fourteen days” (v. 19).

All the time, the Prophet was mindful of the fact that his parents would be counting the days. So he (9:1-6):

 

… called Raphael, and said unto him,

Brother Azarias, take with thee a servant, and two camels, and go to Rages of Media to Gabael, and bring me the money, and bring him to the wedding.

For Raguel hath sworn that I shall not depart.

But my father counteth the days; and if I tarry long, he will be very sorry.

So Raphael went out, and lodged with Gabael, and gave him the handwriting: who brought forth bags which were sealed up, and gave them to him.

And early in the morning they went forth both together, and came to the wedding: and Tobias blessed his wife.

 

In a situation somewhat reminiscent of Jacob and Laban – though far less intense and nasty – Raguel tries to detain the Prophet there longer (10:8-11):

 

But his father in law said unto him, Tarry with me, and I will send to thy father, and they shall declare unto him how things go with thee.

But Tobias said, No; but let me go to my father.

Then Raguel arose, and gave him Sara his wife, and half his goods, servants, and cattle, and money: And he blessed them, and sent them away, saying, The God of heaven give you a prosperous journey, my children.

 

Tobit’s Blindness Cured

 

The Prophet, upon his return home, along with his dog (11:4) – another detail in common with The Odyssey ­– is ecstatically greeted by his long-suffering mother, Anna (v. 9): ‘Seeing I have seen thee, my son, from henceforth I am content to die. And they wept both’.

And then occurs the wondrous cure of Tobit’s blindness, described with eyewitness-like detail (vv. 10-13):

 

Tobit also went forth toward the door, and stumbled: but his son ran unto him,

And took hold of his father: and he strake of the gall on his fathers’ eyes, saying, Be of good hope, my father.

And when his eyes began to smart, he rubbed them;

And the whiteness pilled away from the corners of his eyes: and when he saw his son, he fell upon his neck.

 

The newlyweds’ wedding feast, which could now be celebrated in the house of Tobit and Anna, would see the arrival of two very distinguished guests: Ahiqar and Nadab. These were two right-hand men of the notorious king of Assyria, Sennacherib, whose days of despotism were, however (as we shall read in Part Three (ii)), fast running out.

 

(ii) Demise of Sennacherib

 

 

And events will now intensify further, most dramatically, especially for Assyria’s king, Sennacherib, and his world-conquering 185,000-strong Wehrmacht.

According to the reconstruction offered in this series, events in the life of the Prophet and his family that one might think had occurred during the reign of Esarhaddon (viz., Tobit’s blindness; the journey to “Ecbatana”; marriage) have been set, instead, in Sennacherib’s reign.

What has prompted me to conclude this is the appearance, at the wedding of the Prophet and Sarah in Nineveh, of Ahiqar and especially Nadab.

The last that we had heard of Ahiqar, after his brilliant service on behalf of the victorious Sennacherib at Jerusalem, was Ahiqar’s kind attendance upon his blind uncle Tobit before his departure to Elam. We have also fleetingly encountered Nadab. This Nadab is variously called “Nadin”, which is the name by which I prefer to call him, given that I would identify him with Sennacherib’s eldest son Ashur-nadin-shumi, and as the elusive, the ill-fated, commander-in-chief “Holofernes” of the Book of Judith.

If, instead, we are by now (the wedding in Nineveh) in the reign of Esarhaddon, then part of my Judith reconstructions have a major problem.

Nadin should have been well and truly headless and dead by now.

The beautiful Simeonite, Judith, had certainly been one over whom to lose one’s head.

 

185,000-strong Assyrian Army

 

The legendarily wise Ahiqar, who is described in the Book of Tobit as Nadin’s “uncle”, was more likely Nadin’s mentor. Now, when Tobit, on his deathbed, had urged his son (14:10):

 

‘Remember what Nadab did to Ahikar his own uncle who had brought him up. He tried to kill Ahikar and forced him to go into hiding …. Ahikar came back into the light of day, but God sent Nadab down into everlasting darkness for what he had done. Ahikar escaped the deadly trap which Nadab had set for him, because Ahikar had given generously to the poor. But Nadab fell into that fatal trap and it destroyed him’ [,]

 

he was, I believe, referring to the incident when “Holofernes” (= Nadin) had left for dead his benefactor, “Achior” (= Ahiqar), beneath the hilltop city of Bethulia, Judith’s town.

However, as Tobit tells, without giving details: ‘Ahikar escaped the deadly trap which Nadab had set for him, because Ahikar had given generously to the poor. But Nadab fell into that fatal trap and it destroyed him’.

The missing details are fully supplied in the Book of Judith.

The Jewish heroine will show the head of “Holofernes” to “Achior”, presumably for verification amongst the Bethulians, who had taken him in.

This is the famous incident of the defeat of the 185,000-strong Assyrian army generally accredited to an angel. (The Douay version of Judith will include mention of an angel). It was not some kind of cosmic blast (Velikovsky), nor a plague of mice (Herodotus), that caused the disaster for Assyria. It was a rout, precipitated by the heroic action of Judith, and resulting in a massive loss of Assyrian soldiery.

It was after this western campaign by the Assyrians, Sennacherib’s Year 19-20, and not the first victorious one in his Year 11 (the Book of Tobit seems to be telescoping two invasions), that Sennacherib was shortly assassinated. The prophet Nahum may be telling of this same incident when he proclaims, regarding a certain “Belial” (בְּלִיָּעַל) (Nahum 1:11-13):

 

From you, Nineveh, has one come forth who plots evil against the Lord and devises wicked plans. This is what the Lord says: ‘Although they have allies and are numerous, they will be destroyed and pass away. Although I have afflicted you, Judah, I will afflict you no more. Now I will break their yoke from your neck and tear your shackles away’.

 

The prophet Nahum of Elkosh (1:1), or Ali Kosh, I take to be an alter ego of the Prophet featured in this series, whose home I have already located at Ali Kosh N. of Nineveh.

I shall develop this last identification later on.

 

(iii) Legends of the Fall of Sennacherib

 

 

So earth shattering was the episode of ancient Israel’s smashing of the 185,000-strong army of the Assyrian king Sennacherib that it became the stuff of legends far and wide.

 

 

Apart from the Book of Judith, which is the key that unlocks this most dramatic of historical incidents that has otherwise become somewhat misty in human memory, the catastrophic (for Assyria) defeat of Sennacherib’s army is referred to in greater or lesser detail also in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, in the Book of Isaiah, in Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), and in the Maccabees.

I suspect that it even has its reverberations in many colourful legends or pseudo-histories (whether BC and AD) of nations far and wide.

The supposedly Greek historian, Herodotus, had faint recall of it, but, in characteristic Greek fashion, he mangled it https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/212-herodotus-and-the-bible

 

The Bible, Herodotus, and Assyria

 

When Hezekiah was ruler of Judah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, marched against Israel’s southern kingdom (see 2 Kings 18:13ff; Isaiah 36:1ff). According to his records, the monarch took forty-six Judean cities. In fact, he sent his army to Jerusalem where he boasted that he shut up Hezekiah “like a bird in a cage.” He did not, however, take the holy city. Why not? Because Jehovah intervened, in response to Hezekiah’s prayer, and destroyed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night (2 Kings 19:35).

 

[Mackey’s comment: This is a common fusing, into one, of two well-separated Assyrian invasions of the west during the reign of Sennacherib].

Herodotus has a garbled account of this disaster that crippled the Assyrian forces. He records that Sennacherib marched against Egypt. During a certain night, though, field mice supposedly invaded the Assyrian camp and gnawed the quivers, bow strings, and leather shield handles, thus disarming the military force. As a consequence, many of the soldiers were killed and others fled (ii.141).

 

The same famous biblical incident, again completely mangled, constitutes a defining moment in the received history of Islam, the Birth of Mohammed: 570 AD, the “Year of the Elephant” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_of_the_Elephant

 

The Year of the Elephant (Arabic: عام الفيل‎‎, ʿĀmu l-Fīl) is the name in Islamic history for the year approximately equating to 570 CE. According to Islamic tradition, it was in this year that Muhammad was born.[1] The name is derived from an event said to have occurred at Mecca: Abraha, the Christian ruler of Yemen, which was subject to the Kingdom of Aksum of Ethiopia,[2][3] marched upon the Kaaba with a large army, which included one or more war elephants, intending to demolish it. However, the lead elephant, known as Mahmud,[4] is said to have stopped at the boundary around Mecca, and refused to enter. It has been theorized that an epidemic such as by smallpox could have caused such a failed invasion of Mecca.[5] The year came to be known as the Year of the Elephant, beginning a trend for reckoning the years in the Arabian Peninsula used until it was replaced with the Islamic calendar during the rule of Umar.

 

Here, an “epidemic” is the cause of bringing to a halt the invading army.

Whereas: “… historians today believe that this event occurred at least a decade prior to the birth of Muhammad.[7]”, the real historical incident upon which it so loosely hangs occurred when the Prophet was by now a married man.

The Kingdom of Aksum [Axum] of Ethiopia seems to have taken the place of ancient Assyria in later legends. It recurs in the story of Gudit, or Judith (clearly based on the ancient Judith), supposedly of 960 AD, “who laid waste to Axum and its countryside, destroyed churches and monuments, and attempted to exterminate the members of the ruling Axumite dynasty.[1][2] Her deeds are recorded in the oral tradition and mentioned incidentally in various historical accounts”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gudit

 

In another garbled version of the life of the real Prophet of this series, we find that the anachronistic Mohammed is said to have been a contemporary of a young man from Nineveh, that city having been completely destroyed in c. 612 BC, however, about a millennium before Mohammed is supposed to have lived. Moreover, Mohammed was a “brother” of the prophet Yunus (Jonah). Note how the following story jumbles various elements from the Book of Tobit, such as the pity of Tobit for a fellow human being, his resting against a wall, his being attended upon by a young man (Ahiqar’s tending to Tobit) before the young man resumed his duties (Ahiqar leaving for Elam), and even the mention of the prophet Jonah (Yunus) (Tobit 14:4, 8).

 

When they had travelled a short distance, they rested against one of the walls of a vineyard. as Muhammad (pbuh) rested, a couple of Makkans who owned the vineyard recognised Muhammad (pbuh) and took pity on their state. They sent their servant Addas with some grapes for the two visitors. The prophet (pbuh) thanked Addas and ate the grapes beginning with the name of Allah. Addas was surprised with these words and began to talk to the prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Addas was a Christian slave and when the prophet (pbuh) asked him where he was from, he replied Nineveh. The prophet (pbuh) said the noble Yunus was from there. Addas was very surprised and asked the prophet (pbuh) “How do you know about Yunus?” The prophet (pbuh) replied, “He was my brother and I too am a prophet.”

Addas was very surprised and kissed Muhammad (pbuh) on the hands and forehead before returning to his duties. The two brothers had witnessed this and they asked Addas about his behaviour. Addas said that that man leaning against the wall is none other than a prophet. The two brothers shouted at Addas and told him that he should not leave his religion and follow Muhammad (pbuh). The Makkans were against the prophet and did not want anyone to follow him.

[End of quote]

Can you really blame them?

Part Four:

Married and Officiating

 

The Prophet was probably yet too young and inexperienced to have served in any position of official importance during the reign of Sennacherib. Though his being a cousin of the highly-influential Ahiqar, who had attended his wedding, would not have harmed his prospects.

But, come the reign of Esarhaddon, the Prophet, now married and maturing, began to embark upon a career that was to take him beyond that of his father and his cousin.

 

 

Introduction

 

We left the Prophet as a young married man, and with the family and friends rejoicing over the ageing Tobit now cured of his blindness. All of this in the reign of Sennacherib.

With the assassination death of Sennacherib, and his perhaps more favourably-disposed son Esarhaddon’s rise to the throne of Assyria,

 

http://www.geocities.ws/robertp6165/saitetimeline.html Esarhaddon, in contrast to usual Assyrian practice, is moderate in the implementation of the occupation of Egypt compared to past policies in other provinces, respecting local traditions as far as possible.

 

the way now lies open for a new phase of career for Tobit – who had so faithfully served king Shalmaneser, father of Sennacherib, and with yet some 40 years of health to look forward to – and for his to be long-lived son.

The illustrious career of the Prophet, not covered in the Book of Tobit, is glimpsed through Job’s recollections in various places, most notably in, as we have read, Job 29.

For any further information, we need to go outside the books of Tobit and Job, to writings such as The Testament of Job and, perhaps (for Catholic readers), the visions of the holy mystic, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich.

According to The Testament of Job, the prophet Job was a king in Egypt. David deSilva tells of this (http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195329001.001.1/):

Scholars generally agree that the work was composed in Egypt, especially since the author situates Job himself in Egypt as a king (T. Job 28:7) in contrast with the biblical setting in “Uz” (Job 1:1). Attempts to link the work more closely with the Therapeutae, a Jewish sect in Egypt with some resemblances to the Essenes, are interesting but inconclusive.20

 

But that is not all, for it seems that strong Egyptian influences can also be detected throughout the Book of Job, at least according to the Rev. G. Knight, in Nile and Jordan (1921).

This would make perfect sense if Job – and/or the author[s] of the book – had spent a substantial period of time in that country.

 

What I would be looking for at this stage in my historical search for an illustrious career for the Prophet – and perhaps also for his father, Tobit – would be an appointment during the reign of king Esarhaddon of Assyria (continuing on with Ashurbanipal in the case of Tobit’s son), and one that included serving in Egypt, presumably at a very high level.

And I think that, in Montuemhat [Mantimanhe] and his father Nesptah, at Thebes in Egypt, I may have found just the sort of pattern that I am looking for. We read about these two most significant characters at: http://www.newchronology.org/fullt/53.txt

 

Mayor Montuemhat is perhaps the most interesting Theban figure known to Egyptologists from the complex period of transition between the Kushite 25th and Saite 26th Dynasties. This was also, of course, the time of the invasions of Egypt by the Assyrian kings Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal which included the sacking of Thebes in 664 BC. His standing in the Theban community during this turbulent period of Egyptian history cannot

simply be measured by the great number of titles and offices which he held. Montuemhat was certainly more influential than a mere ‘mayor’ or ‘Fourth Prophet of Amun’. Indeed, Ashurbanipal records him as ‘king of Thebes’ on the ‘Rassam Cylinder where his name appears in the Akkadian writing as ‘Mantimanhe’.

 

Comment: This is the precise chronological era in neo-Assyrian history that I would expect to find the Prophet serving as an official, from the reign of Esarhaddon through to Ashurbanipal. “Esarhaddon appoints various native [sic?] noblemen as governors, functionaries and scribes in the provinces of Egypt” (http://www.geocities.ws/robertp6165/saitetimeline.html)

Note, too, that Montuemhat was a “Prophet”, and also that he was a servant of the god, Amun, like Senenmut (Solomon in Egypt). See my:

 

Solomon and Sheba

 

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

 

according to which (Amun) Amon-Ra was the King of All Gods.

Thomas C. Hamilton has written along similar lines in his “Amunism and Atenism” (http://kabane52.tumblr.com/post/132812715270/amunism-and-atenism):

 

I have pointed out in the past that the descriptions of Amun in Egyptian literature converge in fascinating ways with the biblical description of God. Amun-Re is a sun-god. The sun, of course, is one of the Lord’s chief symbols in Scripture, and the nations worshiped God as the “God of Heaven.” This is why the phenomenon of original monotheism is called the “sky-god” phenomenon. That a god was associated with the sun does not mean that he had always been identified with the sun. Indeed, I think the “fusion” of Amun and Re was the recovery of a pristine monotheistic religion. Just as Yahweh and El were two titles for one God, so also Amun and Re. Imhotep, whom I have identified with Joseph, served as High Priest of Re at Heliopolis.

[End of quote]

 

Above all, Montuemhat was – as tradition has recorded of the prophet Job – a “king”.

The great Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal, graces him with the title, “king of Thebes”.

Further on, we shall read that Montuemhat had ruled over a massive portion of Egypt. This would have become possible as the neo-Assyrian kings managed to push far southwards the Kushite rulers of 25th dynasty of Egypt.

Finally, Ashurbanipal even conquered the great city of Thebes (664 BC, conventional dating). This would likely mean that Montuemhat, who lived beyond this cataclysmic event, would have been an actual witness to it. No wonder then that he – if as Job, as Nahum:

 

Prophet Nahum as Tobias-Job Comforted

 

https://www.academia.edu/8729042/Prophet_Nahum_as_Tobias-Job_Comforted

 

could write of Nineveh (Nahum 3:8): “… are you better than No Amon [Thebes] …?”

The article continues:

 

Montuemhat’s noble descent was certainly of help in his acquisition of the various offices of state, positions which had been handed down for generations from father to son. Already before him his great grandfather, Harsiese, and grand-father, Khaemhor, had been mayors of Thebes, viziers and prophets of Amun during the late 22nd Dynasty and also under the hegemony of the early Kushite pharaohs Shabaka and Shabataka.

From his father, Nesptah, he directly inherited the title of ‘Mayor of Thebes’ and, in addition, he was holder of the office of ‘Governor of Upper Egypt’. Besides these significant civil and administrative posts, Montuemhat also acted as a religious functionary for the cult of Amun. However, in spite of his dominant position as mayor of the great religious centre of Egypt, he only reached the rank of ‘Fourth Prophet of Amun’

within the great temple of Amun at Karnak itself. He did record the title of ‘Second Prophet’ on certain monuments, but unfortunately without mentioning the deity to whom the post obtained. The position of ‘Prophet of Montu’, which also had been within the inheritance of this powerful Theban family, was transferred to his brother, Harsiese, who then handed the title down to his own son. Nevertheless, a son of Montuemhat named Paherienmut later rose to the rank of a ‘Third Prophet of Montu’.

 

Comment: Who were these illustrious forbears of Montuemhat from whom he could apparently boast “noble descent”? Surely not, though (in my context), “native” Egyptians, as historians naturally think. In this series we have observed that Tobit and other of his relatives, especially Ahikar – and later the Prophet himself – were extremely significant public figures, some attaining to the very highest official positions in the kingdom of Assyria.

The legendary ‘Story of Ahikar’ tells of Ahikar’s involvement with Egypt and its Pharaoh on behalf of king Sennacherib.

As we deepen our knowledge of the presumed Theban mayors, Khaemhor and Harsiese, “during the late 22nd Dynasty”, we may be able to get a better handle on the tortuous phase known as the Third Intermediate Period [TIP] of Egyptian history (21st-25th dynasties). The article continues, turning now to more of a consideration of Montuemhat’s father, Nesptah (Nesiptah):

 

While we possess a significant amount of information concerning Montuemhat’s father, Nesptah, very little is known about his mother, Istemkheb, a very common name of the time. Montuemhat seems to have had three wives. His principal spouse was apparently the lady Neskhons, for her son, Nesptah, became Montuemhat’s heir and successor. In his father’s tomb in Asasif (Western Thebes) Nesptah is depicted performing the funeral rites and making offerings to his deceased father (for the discovery of the burial of Nesptah see JACF 2, p. 82). His other wives were the lady Shepenmut and a Nubian princess named Udjarenes. The latter appears in the tomb of Montuemhat in statue groups and reliefs accompanying her husband. It seems likely that the marriage of Montuemhat to this Nubian princess was undertaken as a gesture of loyalty towards the Kushite kings under whose rule he began his career.

 

Comment: All of the names here are Egyptian: Montuemhat, his father, Nesptah, his mother, Istemkheb, his wife, Neskhons. The Hebrew versions, I suggest, were, respectively, Tobias/Job, (his father) Tobit, (his mother) Anna, (his wife) Sarah.

The name Montuemhat itself may have great significance following on from my argument, albeit most controversial, that the Prophet was in fact the template for the non-historical Prophet Mohammed. I have written this about the name similarities, or even equivalents:

 

Birth of Mohammed

 

Given as c. 570 … the “Year of the Elephant”. But revised here to the reign of Sennacherib. Mohammed’s parents are traditionally given as ‘Abdullah and Aminah, or Amna. Now, this information is what really confirms me in my view that Tobias is a major influence in the biography of Mohammed, because the names of Tobias’s parents boil down to very much the same as those of Mohammed. Tobit is a Greek version of the name ‘Obad-iah, the Hebrew yod having been replaced by a ‘T’.

And ‘Obadiah, or ‘Abdiel, is, in Arabic ‘Abdullah, the name of Mohammed’s father.

And Amna is as close a name as one could get to Anna, the wife of Tobit ….

Tobias (my Job) is the biblico-historical foundation for the young Mohammed!

 

[End of quote]

 

May we now include, alongside Tobit = ‘Abdullah and Anna = Amna, our alter ego for Tobias/Job, Montuemhat = Mohammad?

Whilst I have thought to identify Job’s wife as Sarah of the Book of Tobit:

 

Did Job’s Wife really say to the Prophet: ‘Curse God and die’? Part Two. Job’s Wife as Sarah of Book of Tobit.

 

https://www.academia.edu/12073444/Did_Job_s_Wife_really_say_to_the_Prophet_Curse_God_and_die_Part_Two._Job_s_Wife_as_Sarah_of_Book_of_Tobit

 

and now potentially, in an Egyptian context: “His principal spouse … lady Neskhons”, it is quite credible, given the progeny of Job, that he had other, lesser, wives as well.

“Montuemhat seems to have had three wives”, we read above.

Also of relevance is mention of Montuemhat’s “making offerings to his deceased father” in light of Tobit 14:11: “Then they laid Tobit on his bed. He died and was given an honorable burial”. According to the Montuemhat article, he was a man of “undoubted political skills”:

The first time we come across Montuemhat in the texts is during the reign of pharaoh Taharka (690-664BC). He continues in office, no doubt as a result of his undoubted political skills, throughout the trauma of the Assyrian sack of Thebes and is still attending to his duties when the Saite pharaoh, Psamtek I, sends his daughter, Nitocris, to Thebes to become the ‘God’s Wife of Amun at a special adoption ceremony in 655 BC. As was the tradition of the period, the incumbent God’s Wife, Shepenupet (daughter of the last Nubian king Tanutamun) formerly accepted the young Nitocris as her successor, thus handing over to the Saite princess much of the power and authority of the Amun cult and its estates. Since Montuemhat was the effective ruler of Thebes following the departure of the Assyrian forces in around 662, he was undoubtedly directly involved in the political manoeuvres which brought Nitocris to Upper Egypt and his long term experience of the machinations of Theban political life may have presented him with the opportunity to act as mediator in the negotiations between the Kushite faction still at Thebes and the new dynastic power of the western Delta which was based at the new capital of Sais.

 

Montuemhat’s territory of rule was extremely vast and he officiated there for a long period of time, “a full 30 years” according to the following:

 

With the Thebaid as his residence, Montuemhat ruled a region stretching as far south as Elepha[n]tine at the First Cataract and up to Hermopolis in the north. …. The political ups and downs of the time are also reflected in the contemporary art. By chance, numerous statues of Montuemhat have come down to us in remarkable condition – more than a dozen cut from dark hardstone. The early pieces, made during the 25th Dynasty, show the typical style of the Kushite rulers, in spite of the fact that Montuemhat was himself a native Egyptian [sic]. It is likely, therefore, that Kushite craftsmen were commissioned to undertake the work for the Theban mayor, or at least their influence was predominant at the local court. His later representations, on the

other hand, are characteristic of early Saite art, with the typical archaising canon which was such a feature of the 26th Dynasty ‘renaissance’. Even in his old age Montuemhat was responsible for an expedition to the quarries of the Wadi Gasus in the Eastern Desert. The rock-carved inscription left there by him is actually the last dated record of Montuemhat known to us. He died sometime around 648 BC. Thus his career continued on through the first 16 years of Psamtek 1’s reign and in total spanned a full 30 years.

His tomb (Asasif no. TT. 34) is the most significant monument in the eastern area of the

giant cliff bay of Deir el-Bahri. The impressive mudbrick pylon even today dominates the land-scape of this part of the necropolis, marking the location of the largest private tomb in Western Thebes. ….

 

 

Part Five:

His succession of trials

 

 

“Many are the afflictions of the just; but out of them all will the Lord deliver them”.

 

Psalm 33:20 (Douay)

 

 

Introduction

 

Finally, after having scoured the Book of Tobit for abundant information about the Prophet in his earlier years, and even having delved into 25th-26th dynastic Egyptian history, and the biblical Book of Nahum, we can focus upon the Prophet as we find him in the Book of Job. There we encounter him as a married man of the vastest imaginable worldly and spiritual experience, with many children, living in the fertile region of Hauran (“the land of Uz”).

And he was the greatest of the great (Job 1:1-3):

 

In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

 

After a very long career (much of it spent in Egypt) in service to some great kings of Assyria, the Prophet would have returned to bury his parents as his father had requested of him.

His father Tobit, “after his sight had been restored”, we are told, “lived a very full life”. I have surmised that some of this “very full life” was as an official for Assyria in Egypt.

By the time that Tobit, now aged 112 (according to one version), was on his death-bed, the Prophet, we are told, had seven sons (Tobit 14:5): “And at the hour of his death he called unto him his son Tobias and his children, seven young men, his grandsons …”.

This crucial piece of biographical information, seven sons, was the first link in the chain, for me, connecting Tobias to Job, who, as we read above, “had seven sons and three daughters”. Tobit told his son about what the latter surely well realised anyway, as Nahum, the imminent Fall of Nineveh (14:4):

 

My son, take your children and go at once to Media [sic]. I believe that God’s judgment which his prophet [Jonah] announced against Nineveh is about to take place. Everything that God’s prophets told Israel about Nineveh and Assyria will happen. It will all come true, every word of it, when the right time comes. I am absolutely convinced that everything God has said is sure to come true. God does not break his promises. It will be safer for you in Media than in Assyria or Babylon.

 

The Prophet, as an only son, would inherit the family inheritance, and then later that of Raguel and Edna, his wife Sarah’s parents (vv. 11-13):

 

Then they laid Tobit on his bed. He died and was given an honorable burial. Later on, Tobit’s wife died and was buried beside her husband. Then Tobias and his wife moved to Ecbatana in Media, where they lived with Raguel, Tobias’ father-in-law. Tobias took care of Edna and Raguel in their old age and showed them great respect. When at last they died, he buried them at Ecbatana. Tobias inherited Raguel’s estate, as he had inherited the estate of his father Tobit.

 

If Raguel were the Eliphaz of the Book of Job, as I think that he might have been, then these verses are again telescoping incidents (the death of Tobit and his wife and the death of Raguel and his wife) that had really happened some time apart.

In between, there occurred an incident of massive historical importance, as told right at the end of the Book of Tobit. The Prophet, we are informed (14:15):

 

… lived long enough to hear about the destruction of Nineveh and to see King Cyaxares of Media take the people away as captives. Tobias praised God for the way that he had punished the people of Nineveh and Assyria. As long as he lived he gave thanks for what God had done to Nineveh.

 

In his rejoicing over Nineveh, he was the prophet Nahum.

 

But his life continued significantly longer even than that.

In what follows, I am not interested in the interpretative side of the Book of Job, the dialogues – a most fascinating subject in its own right

http://www.ccel.org/contrib/exec_outlines/job/job_01.htm

 

 

“Tomorrow, if all literature was to be destroyed and it was left to me to retain one work only, I should save Job.” (Victor Hugo)

 

“…the greatest poem, whether of ancient or modern literature.”

(Tennyson)

 

“The Book of Job taken as a mere work of literary genius, is one of the most wonderful productions of any age or of any language.”

(Daniel Webster)

 

My interest here will be more biographical.

When and where did the Prophet’s famous series of trials occur?

 

 

The Trials of Job

 

The Fall of Nineveh, estimated at c. 612 BC, had occurred towards the end of the reign of the good king Josiah of Judah, whose violent death at the hands of pharaoh Necho, fighting on behalf of the beleaguered Assyrians, is thought to have happened just a few years later than this, in c. 609 BC (2 Kings 23:29-30):

 

While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Necho faced him and killed him at Megiddo. Josiah’s servants brought his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king in place of his father.

 

Whilst it is difficult to say at this stage when and where occurred the Prophet’s first two trials (Job 1:13-16):

 

One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, ‘The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’ [,]

 

the third one, with its reference to raiding Chaldeans (v. 17):

 

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’ [,]

 

may give us a real clue.

But to return to the first trial for a moment, “the Sabeans” (presumably Yemenites), we might not expect these peoples to have caused the Prophet any grief whilst he was dwelling in northern Assyria, nor even in Egypt. So, presumably this trial had struck the Prophet whilst he was living in “the land of Uz” as according to Job 1:1.

The third trial, at least, may enable us to set a date with some real precision.

The Assyrian empire has now dissolved and the Chaldean one has replaced it.

In Judah, the tragic death of king Josiah has been followed by the exile of his son, Jehoahaz, to Egypt, to be replaced by a new king, Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:31-35):

 

Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his predecessors had done.Pharaoh Necho put him in chains at Riblah in the land of Hamath so that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and he imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.Pharaoh Necho made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt, and there he died.Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh Necho the silver and gold he demanded. In order to do so, he taxed the land and exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land according to their assessments.

 

Jehoiakim, a rebellious king, had the misfortune to have ruled contemporaneously with the early years of the great Nebuchednezzar II, the Chaldean, against whom the king of Judah foolishly rebelled. What happened next enables us, I think, to know why the Prophet had trouble with raiding bands of Chaldeans (2 Kings 24:1-2):

 

In [Jehoiakim’s] days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years; then he turned and rebelled against him. The LORD sent against him bands of Chaldeans, bands of Arameans, bands of Moabites, and bands of Ammonites. So He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken through His servants the prophets.

 

But it was about to get even worse for the Prophet (Job 1:18-22):

 

While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!’

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

 

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised’.

 

The Prophet, now aged, and in the depths of distress, is still mindful, nonetheless, of his father’s consistent advice, to bless God on every occasion. And so we read (v. 22): “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing”.

And so the Prophet will continue to do, even as he enters, some time later, into his most terrible trial of all, his prolonged Dark Night of the Soul, when even the God who had carried him throughout his many years appears to have turned right against him.

 

Despite his severe losses, the Prophet would die at an advanced age, full of honour. “He saw his children’s children to the fifth generation” (14:15. Douay).

(Job 42: 16-17): “… Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years”.

 

 

 

 

The anti-Catholic bigotry of Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been laid bare in emails hacked by Wikileaks

Asia Bibi

Supporters of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance chant during a rally calling for an end to the blasphemy laws and the release of Asia Bibi. Photograph: KM Chaudary/AP
Top Clinton officials ridicule Catholics in the emails and call their faith “severely backwards”, fuelling fears of a modern Kulturkampf.

But it’s no surprise that left-wing elites despise Catholics and Christianity, in general.

That’s why we are berated constantly about Islamophobia while the plight of the most persecuted religious group in the world is ignored.

Christians could soon be extinct from whole swathes of the Middle East and Africa, ethnically cleansed by Islamists.


Asia Bibi, who faces the death penalty for blasphemy. (Pic: Supplied)

In Pakistan, for instance, Christian mother of five Asia Bibi has been on death row for six years, convicted of blasphemy after drinking water from the same bowl as Muslims while picking berries.

Last week, Liberal Senator Eric Abetz and Australian Christian Lobby boss Lyle Shelton took on her cause, meeting with visiting British Pakistani Christian Association chairman Wilson Chowdery, who wants Australia to tie its $47 million annual aid to Pakistan to blasphemy law reform.
Chowdery has also asked Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to take in 100 Christian refugees from Pakistan each year as part of our humanitarian program.

Prioritising Christian refugees should be a no-brainer, but the left-wing elites of the West regard the idea as Islamophobic bigotry. US President Obama once called it “shameful”.

The hypocrisy is laughable.

….
Taken from: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/rendezview/the-lefts-bigotry-and-hypocrisy-toward-catholics-and-christians-is-alive-and-well/news-story/284e003986921189e24ea1fb19e41e04

Pope Francis puts French priest murdered by Isil extremists on path to sainthood

Image result for fr hamel martyr

 

A priest has throat slit in Normandy A priest has throat slit in Normandy Play! 01:04

“He accepted his martyrdom there on the altar,” the Pope said. “He is a martyr and martyrs are beatified.”
The remarks strongly suggested that the Pope intends to make Father Hamel a saint. Beatification is the first major step in the path towards sainthood.
For a person to be beatified, the Catholic Church normally requires that a miracle be attributed to them.  But that condition appears to have been waived by the Pope, who has established a reputation for “jumping over procedural hurdles”, as one Vatican insider put it.

Pope Francis said that to murder in the name of God is a "satanic" act

Pope Francis said that to murder in the name of God is a “satanic” act Credit: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
The Argentinean pontiff spoke at a special Mass for around 80 Catholics from Rouen, where the 85-year-old was killed after two men barged their way into his church in the suburb of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray.
They forced him to kneel and then slit his throat, while chanting in Arabic at the altar. The two attackers were shot dead by police as they came out of the church.
The Pope said that before he was murdered, Father Hamel yelled at his attackers: “Satan, get out!” He added: “What a pleasure it would be if all religious confessions would say: ‘To kill in the name of God is satanic’”.

Hundreds gather to mourn murdered priest Father Jacques Hamel Hundreds gather to mourn murdered priest Father Jacques Hamel Play! 00:50



He said Father Hamel was just the latest in a long line of martyrs in the history of the Church. Throughout the world there were Christians “who are murdered, tortured, imprisoned, have their throats slit because they do not deny Jesus Christ,” he said.
After the Mass, Dominique Leburn, the archbishop of Rouen, said the Pope had told him that the French priest should from now on be “venerated” – a further indication that his path to sainthood is all but assured.

Pope Francis declares Mother Teresa a Saint Pope Francis declares Mother Teresa a Saint Play! 00:34

Mangling of History by Islamic Scholar, Osman

 

Part One:

The Chosen People

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

Ahmed Osman, an Islamic author from Cairo, has proposed some astounding identifications in his book, Out of Egypt (a reference to Matthew 2:15), in his attempt to show that the roots of Christianity are to be found, not in Israel, but in Egypt.

 

 

Part I: The Chosen People

 

Introduction

 

It is heartening to find scholars more and more appreciating the importance of the east – Egypt being especially relevant here – in influencing ancient and modern civilisations. M. Bernal (The Black Athena, 1987) took a big step in this direction. Before him, Professor A. Yahuda (The Language of the Pentateuch in its Relation to Egyptian, 1933), perhaps setting the ball rolling, had shown in minute detail – against ‘pan Babylonianism’ – that the entire Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible) is saturated with Egyptian influence: e.g. the distinct parallel between Egyptian mythology and the patriarchal narratives of the Bible. Along these lines, Bernal has referred to M. Astour’s view that the Greek story of Io-Zeus-Hera closely resembles the Semitic one of Hagar-Abraham-Sarah (op. cit., p. 91).

Now Ahmed Osman, an Islamic author from Cairo, has brought a twist to this recognition of the east by proposing some astounding identifications in his book, Out of Egypt (a reference to Matthew 2:15), in his attempt to show that the roots of Christianity are to be found, not in Israel, but in Egypt. Osman states the aim of his book when making reference to the destruction of the great library of Alexandria by Christians in AD 391 (p. xii):

 

“As a result of this barbaric killing of Alexandrian scholars and destruction of its library, which contained texts in Greek of all aspects of ancient wisdom and knowledge, the true Egyptian roots of Christianity and of Western civilization have been obscured for nearly 16 centuries. The aim of this book is to rediscover these roots, with the help of new historical and archaeological evidence”.

 

He goes on to write (next page): “The time has come for Egypt’s voice to be heard again”. And he believes that he is the man for the job: “Because of my Islamic background, I feel confident that I am qualified to offer a balanced picture, which does not exclude any source from examination”. Osman’s main sources are the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran (Dead Sea) and the Gnostic literature of Nag Hammadi (Upper Egypt).

Perusing Osman’s book as a revisionist historian, I find it fascinating that he has located David and Solomon precisely where Immanuel Velikovsky did, to the early 18th dynasty of Egypt. No doubt Velikovsky’s 18th dynasty revision (Ages in Chaos, I and II) was his main achievement, that will stand in pyramid-like strength after much else of his historical revision has collapsed under the weight of scientific criticism.

The 18th dynasty is also Osman’s entire showcase, encompassing all of his major characters. However, nowhere in his book do I find reference to Velikovsky or to any other of the well-known revisionist historians. Osman either has not been influenced by Velikovsky at all, or perhaps does not bother to mention him because Osman retains the conventional dating of the early-mid 18th dynasty, instead of lowering it by the 500-600 years that Velikovsky had maintained was necessary.

More radical still – and even the most intrepid revisionists would baulk at this one – is Osman’s lumping together of Abraham, Joseph and Moses, into the same 18th dynasty scenario, with, not only David and Solomon (his Part I: “The Chosen People”), but even with Jesus (his Part II: “Christ the King”); thereby totally ignoring customary chronological spacings. According to Osman, the 18th dynasty characters: Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, Yuya, Akhnaton and Tutankhamun, are to be identified as, respectively: David, Solomon, Joseph, Moses and Jesus Christ. Thus, once traditional heroes of Israel – even a great father-figure like King David – are now transmogrified into Egyptian (or, in Yuya’s case, a Syrian). Osman’s excuse for so radical a bouleversement seems to be that he is the one best suited to rediscover “the true Egyptian roots of Christianity and of Western civilization”.

Well, I believe that he has gone about it all in a most biased fashion. I cannot see how Osman – himself a follower of both Sothic dating and Higher Critical view – can possibly escape the label of anti-semitism (here meaning anti-Israel) as described in my earlier TGN article (“Velikovsky and Academic Anti-Semitism”). Osman is guilty of historical piracy, ‘hijacking’ famous Israelites into an Egyptian environment and ‘forcing’ Egyptianhood upon them. But that is an old trick – the Greeks had done it (in favour of Greece) long before him. Whilst admittedly the revision that has grown out of Velikovsky’s efforts can be at times radical, its protagonists are generally careful not to up-end established sequences. Much of the revision revolves around the more plausibly allowable, like deleting ‘Dark Ages’, or shortening artificially over-stretched eras (such as Egypt’s “Third Intermediate Period”). Velikovsky in fact lost many supporters when he, flying in the face of hard archaeological evidence, had indulged in such a radical up-ending by separating the 18th from the 19th dynasty (sequentially) and inserting in between foreign dynasties of 150 years duration (his Ramses II and His Time, and Peoples of the Sea).

Though Osman certainly becomes most interesting when he departs from the conventional norm, this is only the case when he does so with some sort of coherence. He correctly maintains that his country, Egypt, exerted an influence upon biblical and Christian thinking. However, as I intend to show, he does not appear to have properly understood what he has rightly sensed. He tries to force his examples – thereby missing Egyptian influences that really are there, whilst creating ones that are not.

The Sothic chronology lets him down badly, exacerbating his mishmash.

Osman proposes David as an Egyptian pharaoh of the C15th BC, who impregnates Sarai. And, taking his cue from the Babylonian Talmud (Osman, p. 12), he recklessly makes David the father of Isaac. Despite his avowed aims, Osman lets himself down by his failure to appreciate the relevance of Egypt’s Old Kingdom; his lack of perspective regarding the 18th dynasty; but, most of all, by his anti-Israel bias. He locates the era of the Exodus to the 19th dynasty (New Kingdom), Late Bronze Age.

Professor Emmanuel Anati, a genuine archaeologist, has argued authoritatively (in The Mountain of God, p. 287) that the entire socio-political setting of the Moses story and Joshua’s Conquest pertains to the Old Kingdom/Early Bronze Age.

That is centuries earlier than even the 18th dynasty.

Osman adopts the view that the books of Genesis and Exodus were very late compilations (cf. pp. 1, 12 and 66), having been long handed down by oral tradition before being committed to writing during the Babylonian Exile (C6th BC).

Here I should like to suggest, following P.J. Wiseman (Ancient Records and the Structure of Genesis), that the eleven toledôt divisions throughout Genesis: “These are the generations of …” – as well as the regular occurrence of catch-lines – attest Genesis as being a compilation of family histories written on series of tablets, each history signed off by its owner, or writer. The toledôt is the classic colophon of ancient Near Eastern writings, but unfortunately read by most as a heading instead of an ending. The Book of Genesis claims to be a combination of histories for the great patriarchs, from Adam to Joseph. Moses is traditionally its compiler or editor, hence the Egyptian flavour of the entire book.

Osman does not give to the biblical date the same credence as he applies to his other sources: Qumran and Nag Hammadi.

Osman, in fact, really butchers the biblical chronology, showing scant respect for genealogical data and ensuing time spans.

He makes AD 391 a crucial, cutting-off point, his point de depart.

He completely ignores what could be a vital fact, that the library of Alexandria may have been totally destroyed by the Romans at the time of Cleopatra, centuries before AD 391. Julius Cæsar is supposed to have started that fire, to cripple the royal fleet (Dio Cassius 42. 38. 2).

Osman writes that the storehouse of old wisdom in Alexandria’s Serapeum (p. xiii):

 

“…proved irresistible for Diodorus Siculus … when he set out in the time of Julius Cæsar, to research his ambitious Bibliotheca Historica – the ‘bookshelf of history’. Diodorus, who was an enthusiast of the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus (which have survived until today in the teachings of Islamic Sufis, Jewish Qabbalah, Rosicrucians and Freemasons), became convinced of Egypt’s importance as a source of knowledge”.

 

The Serapeum, Osman writes on the next page, “later became also a center for Gnostic communities, both Hermetic … and Christian”.

As I argued in a previous TGN (“Rediscovering the Egyptianised Moses”, No. 4:6, 1998), Hermes was the Greek version of the Egyptianised Moses. Also, Freemasonry is, like ancient Baalism, a syncretism of Yahweh and Baal.

In Pt. II of this article, “Christ the King”, I shall comment further on Hermeticism and Gnosticism.

No doubt revisionists reading Out of Egypt would be thinking that they could propose identifications far more appropriate for the biblical characters with whom Osman deals, especially Joseph (see #4 below); identifications, too, that leave intact detailed genealogies.

 

  1. David = Thutmose III

 

Osman ‘becomes a revisionist’ when proposing that pharaoh Thutmose III’s march via the narrow “Aruna” road was actually an assault upon Jerusalem itself. This is an instance (about the only one) of where he really grabbed my attention; not only because he, too, has suspected that the Davidic era was synchronous with the early 18th dynasty, but because his interpretation of Aruna had already been proposed and strongly defended by Velikovskian modifier, Dr. Eva Danelius (“Did Thutmose III Despoil the Temple in Jerusalem?”, SIS, Vol. II, 1978, pp. 64-79), after Velikovsky had laid the groundwork by identifying Thutmose III as the biblical pharaoh “Shishak” who sacked the Jerusalem Temple in the 5th year of king Rehoboam of Jerusalem (I Kings 14:25) (Ages in Chaos, I, ch. iv).

No need here for Israelites to be turned into Egyptians.

Whilst Velikovsky’s “Shishak” argument was ingenious, in part, he rather spoiled his own argument, I think, by holding to the conventional view that the My-k-ty of the Egyptian Annals was Megiddo in northern Israel. Dr. Danelius really saved this whole package by identifying My-k-ty as pertaining to Jerusalem itself. She plausibly identified all three roads debated as to their appropriateness by Thutmose’s staff as roads in southern Palestine. The Aruna road that Thutmose eventually elected to take – the road most dreaded by his officers – was in fact the narrow and precipitous camel-road from Jaffa up the Beth-horon ascent approaching Jerusalem from the north.

Osman has come to the same conclusion, that Aruna refers to the Beth-horon pass. But, with his unfortunate identification of Thutmose III with David, instead of the far more plausible “Shishak”, he has introduced an unwieldy ‘baggage-train’ onto that narrow route.

 

  1. Solomon = Amenhotep III

Another crucial peg in Velikovsky’s reconstruction was his identification of the biblical “Queen of Sheba” as Queen Hatshepsut, co-ruler with Thutmose III. Osman passes over this fabulous queen in a couple of pages (pp. 20-21), having far more to say about the influential Queen Tiye – whom Velikovsky argued to have been the prototype of the tragic Queen Jocasta of the Greeks (in Oedipus and Akhnaton). Osman identified Tiye all at once as – if I am still following him – Joseph’s daughter, Solomon’s “Great Royal Wife”, and Moses’ mother.

According to standard biblical chronology, Queen Tiye would have to have lived in excess of 800 years to have met all of these criteria.

Meanwhile Velikovsky’s reconstruction of the Solomonic age had its own hiccups. He had ventured to identify Hatshepsut’s 9th year expedition to Punt with the visit to Jerusalem by Queen Sheba, but revisionist Dr. J. Bimson (in “Hatshepsut and the Queen of Sheba”, SIS, Vol. VIII, 12-26) eventually destroyed this argument; so effectively in fact that many ‘Velikovskians’ who had already been badly shaken by Velikovsky’s proposed separation of the 19th from the 18th dynasty, now even abandoned Velikovsky’s 18th dynasty matrix and began to explore new chronologies.

I re-addressed the whole issue for C and CH Review (“Solomon and Sheba”, 1997:1) and may have salvaged Velikovsky here due to the fortuitous discovery (as I see it) of King Solomon himself in the Egyptian records, in the person of the mighty and seemingly royal Senenmut; a dominant figure during the co-reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. Senenmut had recorded of himself (P. Dorman, The Monuments of Senenmut, 1988, p. 175): “I was in this land under [Hatshepsut’s] command since the death of [her] predecessor …”. That, combined with Senenmut’s information that his name “is not to be found amongst the annals of the ancestors” (J. Baikie, A History of Egypt, Vol. II, p. 80), suggested that he was originally not from Egypt. A further possible hint that Senenmut was non-Egyptian were his “idiosyncracies in regard to the Egyptian language: the uncommon substitution of certain hieroglyphs” and his penchant for creating cryptograms, e.g., in relation to Hatshepsut’s throne name, Makera (Dorman, pp. 138, 165).

Velikovsky did not miss the point that the Queen of Sheba was known as Makeda in Ethiopian legend; a name almost identical to Hatshepsut’s throne name, Makera (Maat-ka-re).

The visit of Sheba/Hatshepsut to Solomon was essentially connected, I think, with her marriage to king Solomon, occurring while Hatshepsut was yet queen. She would soon become Pharaoh. Senenmut, who had unique prerogatives and who was favoured with many titles, came to dominate Egypt at this time, despite the presence there of formidable personalities like Hatshepsut and Thutmose. Most historians would agree with Baikie’s view (op. cit., p. 81) that Senenmut “was by far the most powerful and important figure of [Hatshepsut’s] reign”, and R. Hari’s, that few non-royal [sic] personages in pharaonic Egypt “have caused as much ink to flow as has Senenmut” (“La vingt-cinquième statue de Senmout” JEA 70, p. 141). The fact that his statues and inscriptions are still so abundant in Egypt is all the more remarkable considering the campaign of destruction that was waged against his monuments after his death.

But historians are not able to outdo the self-praise in which Senenmut himself (or his scribe) indulges in his statues. “I was the greatest of the great in the land …”, he announces on one (Baikie, op. cit., pp. 80-81). Due to Solomon’s profound influence on Sheba/Hatshepsut, the harsh administration of Israel (cf. 1 Kings 5:13f.) spilled over into Egypt. Her country, we are told, “was made to labour with bowed head for her …” (Breasted, A History of Egypt, p. 271). And, not surprisingly, Senenmut was the one whom she appointed in charge, “I was a foreman of foremen”, he tells us, “… overseer of all the works of the house of silver [treasury?] …. I was one to whom the affairs of [Egypt] were reported; that which South and North contributed was on my seal, the [forced] labour of all countries was under my charge”. As Solomon, Senenmut’s labour gangs spread into Egypt and other countries. Given Senenmut’s tutelage over the young Thutmose, I am not surprised – but rather grateful – to read where Osman has picked up marked similarities between Solomon’s taxation system and that of Thutmose III (op. cit., pp. 57-58).

Israel’s wisdom literature – much of which is attributed to David and Solomon – began to be reflected in Hatshepsut’s Egypt. I compared some of Hatshepsut’s inscriptions with Psalms, Song of Songs, and other Scriptures; and I followed Baikie (op. cit., p. 89) in noting that Hatshepsut had reproduced one of David’s Psalms (131 Vulgate; 132 Jerusalem Bible) almost word for word in places, though substituting “Karnak” for “Jerusalem”. Stratigraphically, the prosperous and internationalized Late Bronze I-II seems to reflect the opulence of this time. Thus there is no problem whatever with Osman’s correct assertion, in favour of his own reconstruction (op. cit., p. 18): “Indeed, no such empire [as David’s] can be said to have been created between the reign of Tuthmosis [Thutmose] III in the 15th century BC [sic] and the second half of the 6th century BC, when Cyrus of Persia conquered both Mesopotamia and Egypt”.

The unexpected discovery of Solomon in the Egyptian records seems to have further cemented Velikovsky’s 18th dynasty scenario. The revision is now able to cope with the formidable trio of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III and Senenmut, all in a biblical context.

 

Solon

 

A spin-off from this identification is that the exceedingly wise Solon of Greek folklore who went travelling by ship for a decade, notably to Egypt, for mercantile purposes, is most likely a Greek appropriation of the wise Solomon in the latter part of his reign, when he involved himself in foreign affairs and his fleet. There are strange anomalies with Solon as a C6th BC Athenian. Archaeology does not seem to favour so advanced a civilisation that early at Athens (see e.g. P. James, Centuries of Darkness, pp. 96-98). E. Yamauchi (“Two Reformers Compared: Solon of Athens and Nehemiah of Jerusalem”, The Bible World, pp. 262-292) found it doubtful if money was yet coined there, as Solon is supposed to have done; and he also, following Cyrus Gordon (another great pioneer defender of the east), has identified Solon’s reforms as Jewish, paralleling Nehemiah’s.

All of this strongly suggests that Solon was not Greek at all.

The phenomenon that was Senenmut is perhaps explained only by the revision. Akhnaton likewise is a phenomenon, and Osman goes to great lengths to explain him.

 

  1. Moses = Akhnaton

 

Akhnaton stands out as a singular individual throughout the history of Egypt, and it is not surprising therefore that scholars are intrigued by him. Osman is no different, he being prepared to turn chronology upside down to equate Akhnaton with Moses. Osman is not the first to have noted a likeness between Akhnaton’s Hymn and Psalm 104, indicating a close contemporaneity between Akhnaton and David – but this can better be met by Velikovsky’s scheme according to which el-Amarna (Akhnaton’s era) is to be re-located to the C9th BC.

And I think that Velikovsky’s equation of Akhnaton with the legendary Oedipus, if correct, more than adequately accounts for the Pharaoh’s personal idiosyncracies.

As for Moses, there is no need to repeat here all that I wrote about him recently in my:

 

Moses – May be Staring Revisionists Right in the Face

 

https://www.academia.edu/11915103/Moses_-_May_be_Staring_Revisionists_Right_in_the_Face

 

identifying him as, among others, Sinuhe of the so-called Middle Kingdom of Egypt. What I could mention here, perhaps, is Sir Flinders Petrie’s comment about Sinuhe (Egyptian Tales, p. 129): “The titles given to [Sinuhe] … are of a very high rank, and imply that he was the son either of the king or of a great noble. And his position in the queen’s household shows him to have been of importance … quite familiar [with the royal family]”.

The Talmud, Osman says, holds that Moses was a king (op. cit., p. 68). But a high official of pharaohs would be more accurate.

 

El-Amarna [EA]

 

Perhaps Velikovsky’s finest reconstruction was his detailed comparison between the EA letters of Amenhotep III and Akhnaton and the mid-C9th BC. Describing himself as if a Time Lord, with “the searching rod … of time measurement” in his hand, Velikovsky declared (Ages in Chaos, I, p. 224): “I reduce by six centuries the age of Thebes and el-Amarna, and I find King Jehoshaphat in Jerusalem, Ahab in Samaria, Ben-Hadad in Damascus. If my rod of time measurement does not mislead me, they are the kings who reigned in Jerusalem, Samaria and Damascus in the el-Amarna period”.

Chronologically, Velikovsky was not far off the mark here. The ruler of Jerusalem (Urusalim) during the el-Amarna period, Abdi-hiba, identifies far better as Jehoram, rather than his father, Jehoshaphat, according to revisionist, Peter James. I summarised this view in:

 

King Abdi-Hiba of Jerusalem Locked in as a ‘Pillar’ of Revised History

 

https://www.academia.edu/7772239/King_Abdi-Hiba_of_Jerusalem_Locked_in_as_a_Pillar_of_Revised_History

 

I have also accepted the conclusion of Velikovskian modifiers, notably in this case M. Sieff, that el-Amarna’s prolific correspondent, Rib-Addi, could not have been king Ahab of Israel as Velikovsky had thought. On this, see my:

 

Is El Amarna’s Rib-Addi Biblically Identifiable?

 

https://www.academia.edu/19259562/Is_El_Amarna_s_Rib-Addi_Biblically_Identifiable

 

Peter James and his colleagues were far more able to accept Velikovsky’s identifications of el-Amarna’s successive kings of Amurru, Abdi-Ashirta and Aziru, with the biblical succession of Ben-Hadad I and Hazael of Syria (“The Dating of the El-Amarna Letters”, SIS, Vol. 2:3, 1977/78, p. 80):

 

“With [these] two identifications [Velikovsky] seems to be on the firmest ground, in that we have a succession of two rulers, both of who are characterised in the letters and the Scriptures as powerful rulers who made frequent armed excursions – and conquests – in the territories to the south of their own kingdom …”.

 

And Dr. John Bimson clinched this by adding a third Syrian king, Ben-Hadad II, the Du-Teššub of the Hittite records. (“Dating the Wars of Seti I”, SIS, Vol. 5:1, 1980/81, pp. 21-22).

I think that we may be able to salvage Velikovsky even further by finding his cherished Ahab, not in his choice of Rib-Addi (clearly a Phoenician king), but in EA’s Lab’ayu. On this tentative theory, see my:

 

Is El Amarna’s Lab’ayu Biblically Identifiable?

 

https://www.academia.edu/19259562/Is_El_Amarna_s_Rib-Addi_Biblically_Identifiable

 

“In most scholarly works Labayu is referred to as the king or ruler of Shechem”, wrote D. Rohl and B. Newgrosh, adding “and this, we feel, has been misleading” (“The El-Amarna Letters and the New Chronology”, C and C Review, p. 18, 1988, pp. 23-42).

Since Shechem is only a few miles from Samaria, I suggest that Lab’ayu ruled from there.

Was Lab’ayu a Hebrew speaker? El-Amarna Letter 252, written by him, has been described by W. Albright as “no less than 40% pure Canaanite” (“An Archaic Hebrew Proverb in an Amarna Letter from Central Palestine”, JNES, 89, 1943, pp. 29-32); a comment that has evoked this response from Rohl and Newgrosh: “It is a pity that Albright was unable to take his reasoning process just one step further because, in almost every instance where he detected the use of what he called ‘Canaanite’ one could legitimately substitute the term ‘Hebrew’.”

Albright indentified the word nam-lu in line 16 as the Hebrew word for ‘ant’ (nemalah). Lab’ayu wrote: “If ants are smitten, the do not accept (the smiting) quietly, but they bite the hand of the man who smites them”. Albright recognised here a parallel with the two biblical proverbs (6:6 and 30:25). King Ahab likewise was inclined to use a proverbial saying as an aggressive counterpoint to a potentate (cf. 1 Kings 20:10, 11).

Lab’ayu’s son, too, Mut-Baal, also displayed in one of his letters (# 256) some so-called ‘Canaanite’ and mixed origin words. Albright noted of line 13: “As already recognized by the interpreters, this idiom is pure Hebrew”.

 

“Son of Zuchru”

 

Velikovsky also identified king Jehoshaphat’s captain, “son of Zichri”, with el-Amarna’s “son of Zuchru” (Ages in Chaos, I, pp. 228-230). Who could argue with that!

 

Queen Jezebel

 

Velikovsky had ingeniously identified the only female in the el-Amarna correspondence, Baalat-neše, with the biblical “great woman of Shunem”, whose son Elisha restored to life (2 Kings 4:8-37) (ibid., p. 220). But I think that, given Baalet-neše’s undoubted rank, a likelier candidate for her would be Ahab’s wife, Jezebel (i.e. Neše-bel-[at]?). On this, see my:

 

Is El Amarna’s “Baalat Neše” Biblically Identifiable?

 

https://www.academia.edu/26077125/Is_El_Amarna_s_Baalat_Ne%C5%A1e_Biblically_Identifiable

 

Kingdom of Mitanni

 

Many historians – though not Osman, who passes it over in one page (p. 56) – have puzzled long and hard over the so-called ‘Kingdom of Mitanni’ that figures in the el-Amarna correspondence.

What were its origins? Where was it located?

Its language – as with the name of its best-known king, Tushratta or Dushratta, who wrote to the el-Amarna pharaohs – is thought to be Indo-Iranian. But once again the revision may provide the key to unlock the enigma. DUSHRATTA would simply be a variant of the name, Abdi-Ashirta (i.e. AbDU-aSHRATTA). He is Ben-Hadad, Ahab’s contemporary. See my:

 

Ben-Hadad I as El Amarna’s Abdi-ashirta = Tushratta

 

https://www.academia.edu/8713376/Ben-Hadad_I_as_El_Amarna_s_Abdi-ashirta_Tushratta

 

The name therefore is probably not Indo-Iranian at all, but West Semitic; the last element being the name of the Canaanite goddess Ashtarte. The name DU-TEŠŠUB is a similar construction, substituting for Ashtarte the storm-god Teshub. The mysterious ‘Kingdom of Mitanni’ turns out to be simply the extensive Syrian kingdom of Ben-Hadad I and Hazael, a buffer state between Assyria and the Hittites.

 

  1. Joseph = Yuya

 

Osman maintains that Joseph was the highly credentialled Yuya, Syrian relative of Akhnaton. Yuya, like Joseph, he states, was the only official in Egypt ever to be called “Father of Pharaoh”. And he optimistically claims that the details of Joseph’s life after his interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams “are matched by only one person in Egyptian history – Yuya, the minister of Amenhotep III (p. 39). But again Osman’s apparent ignorance of pre-18th dynasty Egyptian history lets him down. Professor A. Yahuda (op. cit., pp. 23-24) had already found the equivalent title, “Father of Pharaoh” in Old Kingdom Egypt; the Genesis expression, ab, ‘father’, a title borne (centuries before Yuya) by the Vizier, Ptah-hotep, who was itf ntr mryy-ntr, ‘father of god, the beloved of god’; god here indicating Pharaoh.

Now, since Ptah-hotep was also a wise sage, whose writings resemble the Hebrew Proverbs, and since he – like Joseph – lived for 110 years, then it is worthwhile considering – as some scholars already have – that Ptah-hotep was Joseph in his guise as scribe and sage.

Osman’s identification of Joseph is a classic example, I think, of where revisionists would think that they could easily trump him. T. Chetwynd, for instance (in “A Seven Year Famine in the Reign of King Djoser with Other Parallels between Imhotep and Joseph”…” C and AH, 1987, pp. 49-56), has found numerous parallels between Joseph and the celebrated Vizier, Imhotep, of the 3rd dynasty (Old Kingdom), who supposedly saved Egypt from a 7-year Famine.

Imhotep, who according to J. Hurry (Imhotep, p. 90) was “one of the few men of genius in the history of ancient Egypt … one of the fixed stars of the Egyptian firmament”, is portrayed as a kind of ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ of Egypt: mathematician, scientist, engineer, architect. He was more besides. Carved on the base of a statue of Zoser in the Cairo Museum is a short inscription describing Imhotep as: “The seal-bearer of the King of Lower Egypt … the high priest of Heliopolis … the chief of the sculptors, of the masons …”. Imhotep has also come down through history as a thaumaturgist, healer and Egyptian patron saint of medicine.

Joseph also, according to Yahuda (op. cit., p. 24), would have been “of the high priestly caste” of Heliopolis – like Imhotep. Chronologically, 3rd dynasty Imhotep is perfectly situated in relationship to my 4th dynasty Moses connection. (Refer back to my Moses article).

 

Concluding Remark

 

Really, the presence of Israelites in positions of great power even in Old Kingdom Egypt is my answer to Osman’s belief in the Egyptian roots of the Chosen People. It was in fact a Hebrew influence that permeated Egypt and then came back to Israel. Would not Jacob have carried all of the treasured toledôt scriptures of his forefathers into Egypt, where they would have been handed on to the influential Joseph? He, as priest of Heliopolis and Vizier of Egypt, would have preached them to the Egyptian people. The theology of Heliopolis became pre-eminent in the land. Imhotep-Joseph was one of the real geniuses of Egyptian history.

Now we are beginning to understand why the early Old Testament reflects such an Egyptian influence. Some of its writers, Joseph, Moses and Solomon, were also key figures in Egypt’s destiny. Strictly speaking, the influence was from the side of Israel. Thus, Osman might have found rather more fertile subject matter had he chosen to write about Israel’s influence, rather than Egypt’s, upon ancient to modern culture. But his prejudices weighing against that may be too strong.

 

 

Part Two:

Christ The King

 

 

 

Part II: Christ the King

 

Predictably, now, Osman tries to ‘pour’ the Holy Family also into an 18th dynasty matrix; with Jesus as Tutankhamun; Mary as Nefertiti; and Joseph as the Vizier, Aye. Here again one encounters the emergence of various questionable patterns of argument that clearly and strikingly parallel those in Part I. Osman again:

 

– places a blind trust in the conventional chronology and archaeology.

 

Whilst the historical era of the four Gospels, once revised, might – and only might – turn out to be relatively more clear cut by comparison with events in early Egyptian dynastic history, one should nevertheless expect the chronological earthquake caused by Velikovsky to be still transmitting aftershocks right down the line, so as to plunge late BC events into an AD time frame. Moreover if Solon really is Solomon, as I maintain, and the ‘Ionian’ philosophers actually have their origin with Old Testament Joseph, and Athenian archaeology is not properly established before the late C5th BC, then Classical history – Greek, and Roman, too – must stand in need of a significant revision.

Of course I would not expect Osman to be able to produce a new model just like that. My problem with him is that he so uncritically embraces conventional late BC dates (e.g. for Herod and Pilate) as “the established historical facts” (Out of Egypt, p. 110). Chronologically, Osman seems to work hand in glove with Hershel Shanks, editor of the influential Washington-based magazines Biblical Archaeological Review and Bible Review, of whose conclusions I was so critical in The Glozel Newsletter (No 4:2, 1998).

 

– he treats with contempt the four Gospels.

 

Osman’s refusal to consider the Gospels as being significant eyewitness records is to my mind another classic example of what I noted in Pt. I, that not a shred of credibility ought to be conceded to the writings of Israel. He seems unaware of the papyrus discoveries from Egypt and Qumran that, according to German papyrologist, C. Thiede (Eyewitness to Jesus, Doubleday), call for an earlier dating of all four Gospels. {According to the article “Thiede’s Witness”, in The Wanderer (June 12, 1997), this book is now very hard to find. Is there being applied by the academic world a “Conspiracy of Silence” – to use the title of Osman’s ch. 17 – in the case of Thiede? And of Carmignac? (see below)}.

Shanks’ reaction to the new scholarship is the typically off-handed sort to which entrenched academics must resort whenever they cannot cope with the facts (Wanderer, ibid.): “Highly regarded scholars are often reluctant to spend the time it takes to debunk these far-out claims”. Well, it is not “the time” that they lack, but the answers.

 

An ironical note: I doubt if the Egyptian-oriented Osman would be over-impressed by the fact that: “… Hershel Shanks puts Thiede in the same category as those cranks who claim that Jesus was not Jewish but Egyptian”.

 

Thiede’s conclusions may not be mainstream, but they accord nicely with those of expert linguist, J. Carmignac (The Birth of the Synpotic Gospels, Franciscan Herald Press, 1984), who discovered many links with the New Testament whilst translating the Qumran texts. Carmignac was in fact “absolutely dumbfounded to discover [how] extremely easy” it was for him to translate back into Qumranic Hebrew the Greek texts of Matthew and Mark (ibid., p. 1). This led him to the inescapable conclusion that Matthew and Mark were originally written in Hebrew (or possibly its sister-language, Aramaïc), thus according with “numerous Fathers of the Church” that there was “a Hebrew Matthew”. Carmignac felt compelled thus to revise the dating for the synoptic Gospels (ibid., pp. 6, 60):

 

.… The latest dates that can be admitted for Mark (and the Collection of Discourses) is 50, and around 55 for the Completed Mark; around 55-60 for Matthew; between 58 and 60 for Luke. But the earliest dates are clearly more probable: Mark around 42; Completed Mark around 45; (Hebrew) Matthew around 50; (Greek) Luke a little after 50.

 

In support of this revision, Carmignac provided a most striking example from Luke 1:68-79 of the Evangelist’s dependence upon what he entitled Semitisms of Composition (pp. 27-29): “Is it by chance”, he asked, “that the second strophe of this poem begins by a triple allusion to the names of the three protagonists: John [the Baptist], Zachary, Elizabeth? But this allusion only exists in Hebrew; the Greek or English translation does not preserve it”.

Dr. Eva Danelius, whom we met in Pt. I in “Did Thutmose III Despoil the Temple in Jerusalem?”, SIS, Vol. II (1978), claimed for instance that the Book of Revelation (conventionally dated to c. 95 AD) ought really to be viewed from a pre-70 AD standpoint:

 

For the attentive reader it is obvious that a part of John’s visions – the 24 elders, the importance of clean white garments, the punishment of those who neglect their duty as watchmen – reflect details of the duties of priests and Levites in the Beth Moked, the northenmost building of the Temple compound, where the keys to the Temple mound were guarded under measures of the strictest security (p. 70, with reference to the Babylonian Talmud, Ch. 1. Midoth).

 

– he is quite biased in his methodology.

 

Osman employs a convenient modus operandi throughout especially the latter part of his book, sweeping aside as “fiction”, or “forgeries”, whatever documents oppose his viewpoint. Thus the entire Book of Joshua becomes “a work of fiction” (p. 168) because – according to Osman’s extraordinary thesis – Joshua should no longer by then have been alive. And whatever early AD documents do refer to the physical Jesus – contrary to Osman’s argument that there was no physical Jesus that late – must be dismissed out of hand by him as “forgeries”, without any backing up of his claims with solid evidence or footnotes.

 

Just as the mainstream archaeologists, basing themselves upon a faulty chronology, end up finding no Old Testament biblical traces (e.g. of the Exodus; the Conquest; David/Solomon), and need to dig deeper, so often, too, with the New Testament, which critics accuse of being ‘un-historical’, with ‘later additions’. Until one digs deeper. Here is a classic case in point (https://opentheword.org/2014/09/02/controversial-bethesda-pool-discovered-exactly-where-john-said-it-was/):

 

Controversial Bethesda pool discovered exactly where John said it was

written by Dean Smith

….

The remains of the Bethesda Pool found exactly where the Apostle John said it was located.

There is a story in the Gospel of John that proved problematic for liberals who don’t believe the Bible.

I am talking about Jesus healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15). In the account, Jesus came across a lame man lying by the pool. According to tradition, when an angel stirred the waters, the first sick person to enter the pool was healed.

When Jesus asked the man, who had been lame for 38 years, how he was doing, the man said because he did not have anyone to help him, when the waters stirred someone always stepped in before him. Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk” (v 8) and the man was instantly healed.

In the account, the apostle John provides some detail about the pool. First he said it was near the “sheep’s gate” and secondly it had “five porticoes” (verse 2). A portico, similar to a porch, is a covered entrance way. It was a five-sided pool.

However, because the healing by this pool is only mentioned in John’s Gospel, the liberals quickly concluded it was a later addition by someone not familiar with Jerusalem. That theory prevailed until the late 19th century when archaeologists discovered the pool exactly where John said it was — by the Sheep’s gate now located in the Muslim-controlled sector of Jerusalem.

Not only that, the pool had five porticoes, just as John said it did. It was five sided because the rectangular pool had two large basins that were separated by a wall/portico. This made five in total for the pool. The northern pool collected water which replenished the southern side.

Because of the broad steps located beneath a portico leading down to the southern basin, it is believed this pool is also served as a mikveh or ritual bath for the Jews.

In addition, they even found evidence of the healing tradition associated with the pool as they discovered shrines dedicated to a Greek god of healing — Asclepius (a god of medicine/healing). It was part of a Roman medicinal bath built on the site between 200AD and 400AD.

Obviously, pagans recognized the healing attributes of the pool and transferred them to their pagan gods. A similar thing happened in Acts 14:9-18 when villagers in town of Lystra mistakenly believed Zeus and Hermes had performed a miraculous healing after Paul and Barnabas healed a lame man from the city.

So John was right.

 

Osman’s ‘Jesus’

 

(i) As Tutankhamun

 

Osman has to make much of Tutankhamun, whose tomb inscriptions rather than the four Gospels, he seems to think, hold the true account of Jesus’ fate. He calls the young Pharaoh “the charismatic Tutankhamun”, adding (p. 135): “It is, I believe an unconscious recognition of the truth about his identity that impels millions to visit his tomb … each year in what might be described as a form of pilgrimage, and more millions to queue for hours to view … the treasures recovered from the tomb by Howard Carter …”.

Or, one might wonder, may not such fascination be due to the fact that people just love to view magnificent treasures of gold and lapis lazuli?

The truth is, as P. Fox wrote: “… curiously enough, for all the splendour of his burial, Tutankhamun was a ruler of little importance” (Tutankhamun’s Treasure, OUP, 1951, p. 20). And H. Carter, the discoverer of Tutankhamun’s tomb, wrote similarly (The Tomb of Tut-ankh-Amen, I, 45):

 

In the present state of our knowledge we might say with truth that the one outstanding feature of [Tutankhamun’s] life was the fact that he died and was buried. Of the man himself – if indeed he ever arrived at the dignity of manhood – and of his personal character we know nothing.

 

Dr. Velikovsky had used the supplementary (as he saw it) information of the Oedipus drama to help him account for anomalies of this period, such as why so insignificant a king as Tut (Velikovsky’s Eteocles) was glorified with so magnificent a tomb by Aye (his Creon) (Oedipus and Akhnaton, Abacus, 1969, Ch. “Crowned with Every Rite”, pp. 131-141).

 

Not at all convincing either is Osman’s forcing of Egyptian texts and the Bible to support his theory that ‘Jesus’/Tutankhamun was killed by an 18th dynasty priest, Panehesy, so as to tie in with his interpretation of the Talmud, according to which a priest, “Pinhas … killed [Jesus]” (b. Sanh, 106b, as cited by Osman, p. 132). Osman reaches the new conclusion – without offering any primary evidence in support – that Tutankhamun was killed by Panehesy; who, as Akhnaton’s “chancellor and Chief Servitor of the Aten”, may indeed have been a priest. He then really complicates matters by identifying Panehesy, firstly with the Israelite priest Phinehas (Numbers 25:6-15), before going on to equate both priests with the Talmudic Pinhas. But nowhere does he bother to show where the Talmud identifies this Pinhas as a priest.

The names Panehesy and Phinehas are indeed strikingly similar [the name Phinehas is clearly of Egyptian origin], but their circumstances are not. The zealous Phinehas had intervened when an Israelite had, in flagrant breach of the Law, brought a Moabite woman into his family “under the very eyes of Moses and the whole community of the sons of Israel as they wept at the door of the Tent of Meeting”. Phinehas arose, “seized a lance, followed the Israelite into the alcove, and there ran them both through, the Israelite and the woman, right through the groin” (vv. 6-8). This incident is said to have occurred in Transjordania, not “at the foot of Mount Sinai” where Osman would have ‘Jesus’/Tutankhamun meet his violent death. To get around this inconvenient snag, Osman – taking his cue from documentary theorist, E. Sellin (Osman, p. 144) – argues that the biblical account of Phinehas has been “subjected to some priestly sleight-of-hand in the editing in order to cover up what actually happened”.

This neat piece of subterfuge sets Osman free then to pursue his own far-fetched Whodunnit.

 

(ii) As Joshua

 

Osman also equates Jesus (Hebrew Ye-shua) with Old Testament Joshua (Ye-ho-shua), enabling him to synthesise the episodes of Moses and Joshua on Mount Sinai (Old Testament) with the Transfiguration (New Testament), with Moses and Jesus together on the same mountain (for him also Mount Sinai). But here Osman quite undoes himself:

 

firstly, by adhering to the traditional view that Mount Sinai was Jebel Musa in the Sinai Peninsula (he calls it Gebel Musa, p. 101). [Egyptians may understandably be reluctant to let go of the centuries long tradition of having a ‘Mount Sinai’ in their own (or neighbouring) territory]. Professor Emmanuel Anati (The Mountain of God: Har Karkom, Rizzoli, 1986) had proved Jebel Musa to be quite lacking in Late Bronze Age archaeology (relevant to the 18th dynasty). Osman will later have St. Paul trekking off to Jebel Musa, thus enabling him to develop further his pro-Egyptian thesis, with the Apostle supposedly being influenced by Alexandrian Hermetic and Gnostic thinking. But his case for Paul’s dependence upon Alexandrian lore cannot be sustained given that Mount Sinai could not have been anywhere near Egypt. St. Paul says that Mount Sinai was “in Arabia” (Galatians 4:25).

 

secondly, as if that weren’t bad enough, his reconstruction leads him into the absurd situation whereby his ‘Jesus’/Joshua, who had already been slain, later resurfaces in the Book of Deuteronomy; not to mention – after that – in what Osman calls “an entire book devoted to his exploits” (Book of Joshua) (p. 168).

 

Joshua/Jericho

 

Archaeology’s original impulse was to recognize the Early Bronze Age walls at Jericho as the famous fallen walls of the Book of Joshua. But that notion was abandoned once the Sothic scheme of chronology was applied to the site, re-dating those particular walls to about half a millennium earlier than Joshua. Osman naturally swallows this line of reasoning, calling the entire Book of Joshua “a work of fiction” (p. 169). The fact is that the book has in support of its narrative a complete stratigraphy.

 

Jesus

 

Osman claims that the physical Jesus is not referred to in contemporary records, either Roman or Jewish. I say physical Jesus because a key distinction in Osman’s thesis is that Jesus had both (a) a physical persona, as Joshua/Tutankhamun; and (b) a spiritual persona, as known by the Apostles (p. 109). Osman is even bold enough to claim that, in this very convenient (for him) split theory – which has something of a Docetist ring about it [the Docetists denied that Christ ever had a real body or a narrowly ‘historical’ existence] – he is supported by the Church Fathers. But from my reading of the Fathers, I think that Osman has badly misunderstood their use of allegory, according to which all the holy men of the Old Testament were to be regarded as forerunners – in one way or another – of Christ; but not as the actual Christ; just as they regarded the holy women (e.g. Sarah, Ruth, Judith and Esther) as types of Mary.

In the minds of the Church Fathers (e.g. Sts. Irenaeus, Adv. haer., III, 22, 4; Epiphanius, Haer., 78, 18; Jerome, Epist., 22, 21), Jesus Christ and Mary were the ‘New Adam’ and the ‘New Eve’, and they believed the Old Testament to be replete with symbolical prefigurations of the two. Osman, referring to the physical Jesus, writes (p. 109):

 

Two thousand years ago, at the time Jesus is said to have lived, Palestine was part of the Roman Empire. Yet no contemporary Roman record exists that can bear witness … to the physical appearance of Jesus. Even more surprising is the absence of any reference to Jesus in the writings of Jewish authors living at that time in Jerusalem or Alexandria ….

 

I think that there is a bit of legerdemain involved here as well. It is all too easy for Osman to say “no contemporary … record exists”, when he is going to, one by one, dismiss as “forgeries” any contenders, and brush aside the Gospels as contradicting each other (p. 110). Contemporary Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote, not only about the Essenes – and about Pontius Pilate, John the Baptist, and James – but he also wrote directly about Jesus Christ (Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. 18, ch. iv):

 

Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works – a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was (the) Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the Cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him ….

 

Osman claims that this passage, “greatly valued during the Middle Ages as the only external testimony from the C1st AD pointing to Jesus having lived at that time” has since “become an embarrassment, having been exposed in the 16th century as a forgery” (op. cit., ibid.). He offers not a single name or footnote to verify this, only an argumentum ab silentio, that the prolific Origen never referred to this passage.

Re the supposed contradictions amongst the four Gospels, Osman [who believes that the earliest versions were written only “several decades after the events they describe”] writes (pp. 109-110):

 

… when we attempt to match the four gospels … against the facts of history we cannot escape the implication that with the gospels themselves we are dealing with a false dawn. We find no agreement about when Jesus was born or when he was put to death.

… Only two of the four gospel authors, Matthew and Luke, refer to the birth of Jesus, but their accounts do not agree. … Matthew places his birth firmly in the time of Herod … Luke … relates the birth of Jesus to that of John the Baptist, who was also born ‘in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea’ (Luke 1:5).

…. Luke goes on to tell the familiar story of the birth of Jesus in a Bethlehem stable … and contradicts both Matthew and his own earlier account by placing these events a decade after the death of Herod the Great: ‘And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius (Quirinius) was governor of Syria). … We know from Roman sources that this event could not have taken pace before AD 6, the year in which Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria and Judaea became a Roman province.

 

Of course the Roman people themselves did not date in terms of BC or AD.

Scholars and historians would be reluctant today to assert that the date for Jesus’ birth has been fixed with chronological precision. John Paul II, for instance, writing his first encyclical “Redemptor Hominis” (1978), referred to the date of the Jubilee Year 2000 “without prejudice to all the corrections imposed by chronological exactitude …” (#1). I am very much impressed with the work of Daryn Graham on this controversial subject area. See e.g. his:

 

Ancient History, Archaeology and the Birth of Jesus Christ

 

http://thebirthofjesuschrist.blogspot.com.au/2009/09/ancient-history-archaeology-and-birth.html

 

Osman, after conveniently sweeping aside all opposing data, will direct our attention towards what he calls “the established historical facts”. But while such an authoritative sounding phrase might be enough to coerce many into an immediate passive conformity, it probably does not have that sort of hypnotic effect upon hardened revisionists, who might straightaway ask: “What “facts”? How “established”?

As with the Old Testament, so with the New, it is easy to point out anomalies with the conventional history; but then to go on and say that the writings of Israel contradict real history, or one another, because they do not fit the Procrustean bed of textbook chronology, is to say too much – until that bed has been properly made and set on solid foundations. There is enough evidence in the case of Jericho (Tell es-Sultan), for example, to indicate that establishment figures such as Hershel Shanks are not reliable guides as to archaeological interpretation.

And certainly Ahmed Osman does not inspire much confidence in this regard.

 

Pope Francis meets top Sunni cleric after five-year freeze

Sheikh al-Tayeb and Pope Francis standing side by side, in conversationImage copyright AFPImage caption Relations between Roman Catholicism and Sunni Islam have improved since Pope Francis took office in 2013

Pope Francis has met the grand imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque after a five-year pause in dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the mosque, the highest authority of Sunni Islam.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb visited the Vatican en route to a Paris conference involving Muslims and Catholics.

Al-Azhar froze meetings in 2011 after taking offence at some comments made by the previous pope.

It said Pope Benedict made “repetitive and negative statements” about Muslims.

At the start of the half-hour meeting on Monday, the Pope said that the fact it was taking place at all was significant.

“The meeting is the message,” he said.

Relations between Al-Azhar and the Vatican soured in 2006 after Pope Benedict quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor in remarks taken by some Muslims to imply that Islam was a violent religion.

Pope Benedict repeatedly said the words did not reflect his personal views, but he stopped short of issuing a clear apology to Muslims.

On Monday, a Vatican spokesperson told AFP news agency that the meeting between Sheikh Tayeb and Pope Francis had been “very cordial”.

The leaders exchanged gifts, embraces and discussed conflicts and tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East.

….

Taken from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36364478