Key to Northwest European Origins
QR Code
Key to Northwest European Origins

Appendix I:

   Israelites. The name Israel does not occur in the inscriptions as a general term for the Israelites. Nor does it, as a rule, appear as the name for the Northern kingdom. Instead of this the name that is usually employed is mat Bit-Humri, i.e. land of the House Omri... compare above Bit-Amman "House of Ammon" or mat Humri "land of Omri" in the inscription of Ramannirar.... The name Israel occurs only once on the inscriptions, where it means the kingdom of Israel, viz. on the monolith of Salmanassar II in which Ahab of Israel is spoken of as (mat) Sir'lai i.e. "he of Israel...." (Schrader, The Cuneiform Inscriptions of the Old Testament, Vol. I, pp. 137, 138).

   We know now that Israel came in contact with Assyria at a much earlier period, and that the former was in fact tributary to Assyria as far back as in the ninth century. For example, not only does king Rammannirar of Assyria (who according to the Assyrian Canon of Rulers reigned from 812 to 783 B.C.) mention in a list of kingdoms that were tributary to him the "land Omri" (mat Humri) along with Sidon, Tyre, Edom and Philistia. .. not only do we find in the cuneiform inscriptions a generation earlier that "Jehu, son of Omri" offered tribute to Salmanasser II (2 Kings IX:2); but we also learn from the inscription of Asur-nasir-habal (885-860) that as early as in the first half of the 9th century the whole of Phoenicia was overrun by the Assyrians and made tributary (ibid., p. 144).

   Israel.... The usual term for the kingdom of Israel in the Assyrian inscriptions is not this, as we have already observed. The ordinary designation was rather mat Bit-Humri or mat Humri "land of the house of Omri" or "land of Omri," or merely "land Omri" (ibid., p. 177).

   Juda occurs as the name of the Southern of the twin Israelite kingdoms many times in the inscriptions after the time of Tiglath-Pileser II, under the form Jahuda, written (mat, ir) Ja-u-du-(di). First of all we meet with the gentile name Ja-u-da-ai "Judaean" in the inscription of Tiglath-Pileser... in which Ja-u-ha-zi i.e. Joachaz=Ahaz is mentioned as a tributary vassal, as well as in the other inscription... where there is a record of Az-rija- u Ja-u-da-ai i.e. "Azariah" (Uzziah) of Juda." In the same inscription line 4 we read the name of the country itself mat Ja-u-di. Sargon, who so often refers to mat Bit-Humri "Land of Omri," only mentions Juda in one passage, viz in the Nimrud-inscriptions... in the words... "(Sargon) who subdued the land of Juda whose situation (is) a remote one." Juda is mentioned frequently in the records of Sanherib; first in the Nebbi-Junus inscription at Constantinople line 15, where we read... "the wide district of the land of Juda its prince Hizkia (Hezekiah) I reduced him to subjection..."Juda is repeatedly named in the annalistic inscription of Sanherib, where Hizkia is several times designated Jahudai "Judean"... Moreover Asarhaddon mentions as his vassal... "Manasseh, king of Juda." the same who is called Mi-in-si-i in the inscription of Asurbanipal.... (ibid, pp. 177, 178).

   Omri, king of Israel. His name appears on the inscriptions in the form Hu-um-ri-i and also Hu-um-ri-a.... We first meet with it on the Nimrud-obelisk of the elder Salmanassar, in the small inscriptions which stand separate... in the phrase ma-da-tu sa Ja-u-a abal Hu-um-ri-i "tribute of Jehu, the son of Omri." On the same obelisk we find a reference to the kings of Damskus Hadad-'idri (Hadadezer) and Hazael.... Hence there can be no doubt that by Jehu, son of Omri, the Jehu of the Old Testament is meant who succeeded the rulers of the House of Omri.... The dynasty of Omri must on the whole have enjoyed a great reputation abroad. In this way we understand why the Assyrians designated Israel simpy as mat Bit-Humri "land of the house Omri," or more briefly mat Humri "land Omri"... It should be observed in this connection that according to 1 Kings XVI. 24 Omri built the capital of the kingdom, Samaria (ibid., pp. 179-81).

   I now propose to cite all the passages in the cuneiform inscriptions in which reference is made to "land of the house Omri" i.e. Northern Israel. Of course I omit the parallel passages in the inscriptions of Sargon. The most ancient extract is from the Nimrud-obelisk as well as the stele of Salmanassar II (see above). Then follows the mention of the mat Humri in king Rammannirar's list of tributary states. The sequence is: Surru (Tyrus), Sidunnu (Sidon), mat-Humri (Samaria), Udumu (Edom), Palastav (Philistia). Tiglath-Pileser II mentions Northern Israel in a fragment of his annals... in close connections with Gaza and the other Philistine or rather, Kanaanite towns.... Next come Sargon who refers to the land of the house Omri, first of all in the cylinderinscription ... in which we read Mu-ri-ib mat Bit-Hu-um-ri-a rap-si "Combatants (subjugators) of the land Omri, the extended"; next in the bull-inscription... sa-pi-in ir Sami- ri-na ka-la mat Bit-Hu-um-ri-a, "destroyer of Samaria, the entirety of the land Omri," Pave des portes.... ka-sid ir Sa-mir-i-na gi-mir mat Bit-Hu-um-ri-a "conquerors of the city Samaria and the whole of the land Omri." After the time of Sargon the "kingdom Omri" is never again mentioned. It was through Sargon that it was brought to a definite end (ibid., pp. 180-81).

   Samaria, capital of the Northern kingdom, founded by Omri, is frequenty mentioned under this name of Sargon's inscriptions, where it appears in the forms Sa-mir-i-na... Sa-mi-ri-na... and lastly Sa-mi-ur-na.... We also meet the form Sa-mi-ri-na in an inscription of Tiglath-Pileser II... in which there is mention of a king Mi-ni-hi-im-mi ir Sa-mi-ri-na-ai "Menahem of Samaria" in connection with Ra-sun-nu "Rezin" of Damaskus. Similarly in Layard 66, 18, where of a "king" of Samaria (sarru-su-nu) it is said that he ir Sa-mi-ri-na i-di-nu-us-su u-mas-sir "alone left the city Samaria."... From the passage first-cited, occurring in the inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser, it is evident that, at least in later times, the rulers of the territory situated North of Judah were simply named after the city Samaria. For even as late as the times of Asurbanipal (who reigned in Assyria after 668) we find a viceroy of Samirina (Sa-mir-i-na) mentioned as an eponymus. .. (ibid., p. 181).

   Thus we have no occasion to question the statement of the Bible and of the inscriptions, that with the conquest of Samaria by Salmanassar the independence of the state come [sic. came] to an end. And this is only confirmed by the intelligence that Samaria formed an alliance with Hamath, Arpad, Zemar and Damskus, and rose under the rule of and against Sargon, in the second year (720 B.C.) of that monarch's reign... (ibid., p. 182).

   Ahab is called by Salmanassar II A-ha-ab-bu Sir-'-lai i.e. "Ahab of Israel" in an inscription discovered on the banks of the Tigris... (ibid., p. 182, 183).

   Observe that here Ahab, the Sir'lite, and Hadadezer-Benhadad II (see below) of Damskus appear in conjunction; also that this same monarch (Salmanassar II) in the inscription subsequently drawn up, on the Nimrud-obelisk, mentions Jehu the son of Omri as well as Hazael of Damaskus. Hence there is no room for doubt that the Biblical Ahab of Israel is meant by this "Ahab the Sir'lite." On the other hand, the circumstance that Ahab appears in alliance with Damaskus is completely in accord with the Scriptural account. From the latter we learn that Ahab, after the battle of Aphek, concluded an alliance with Benhadad, which mainly involved the restoration to Israel of the cities which had been lost, and the session of "allys" in Damascus to the Israelites (I Kings XX. 34 Foll.Wellhausen) (ibid., p. 189).

   Jehu is mentioned twice in the inscriptions; both times in those of Salmanassar II (806-25). The first passage occurs in the king's obelisk among the separate inscriptions, above a figure, which represents a prince or deputy kneeling before the Great King, the former being followed by men bringing tribute. The passage runs thus.. "tribute of Jehu, son of Omri: bars of silver, bars of gold, a golden bowl, a golden ladle, golden goblets, golden pitchers, bars of lead, a staff for the hand of the king, shafts of spears: that I received" (ibid., p. 199).

   Hazael of Damaskus trusted in the multitude of his troops, assembled his hosts without number.... In Damaskus, his royal city, I besieged him; his plantations I destroyed.... To the mountains of Hauran I marched, towns without number I carried away.... At that time I received the tribute of the Tyrians, Sidonians, of Jehu, son of Omri (ibid., pp. 200, 201).

   ... the town, Ga-al-[ad=Gilead?]... the land Beth-Omri (Samaria) the distant.. .. the broad, I turned in its entire extent into the territory of Assyria, I set my officers, the viceroys over it. Hanno of Gaza, who took to flight before my troops, fled to the land of Egypt.... The land Beth-Omri (Samaria) the distant... the whole of its inhabitants, together with their property I deported to Assyria. Pekah, their king [I] slew. Hosea I appointed [to rule] over them. Ten talents of gold, a thousand of silver (?) together with their.... I received from them; [to Assyria brought] I them.... Indeed the towns of the land Beth-Omri itself are spoken of as cut off from it, among these two whose mutilated names may without difficulty be completed into those two which are mentioned in 2 Kings XV. 29 as taken away by Tiglath-Pileser, viz. Gal-ad=Gilead, and [A] bel- Beth-Maacha (ibid., pp. 247, 248).

   [I besieged and captured the town of Samaria; 27,280 of their inhabitants] I carried away; 50 chariots I took as my royal share [among them away]... in place of (them, the deported) I assigned abodes to the inhabitants of countries taken [by me]. I imposed tribute on them like Assyria. That we are here dealing with an account of the fall of Samaria, is evident from the mention of exactly 50 chariots taken away by the king which is the number furnished by the other inscription with reference to Samaria... (ibid., p. 266).

Previous      Appendix I      Next
Publication Date: May 1963
Back To Top