& CREATION OF JUDAISM
4. Sacred History or Phoney History?
The Two Judahs:
Yehud Benjamin and Yaudi Bar Samal
The only two tribes not carried away when the statelet of Israel was
destroyed by the Assyrians, according to the Jewish scriptures, were Judah
and Benjamin. Now although these two are always given as two separate
names for different groups of people, the two sets of people have never
been distinguishable. Both have always simply been Jews.
Benjamin means “Son of the South” and could simply be a description
of Judah—Judah, the son of the South. A pointless speculation, you will
doubtless think, but it was a singularly apt description, in fact, because
there was another Judah in the north of the Levant! Not many people know
Several of the kingdoms of the south are parallelled by similarly named
northern kingdoms. Musri is in Sinai but is also in Asia Minor. The Judah
of the north also seems to be called Samal, or to be twinned with a
closely related neighbouring kingdom called Samal. The Judah of the south
was similarly identified with a closely related kingdom called Israel or
Samaria. The distinguished Assyriologist, Wolfram von Soden, tells us (The
Ancient Orient) that in an extensive area stretching from Asia Minor
through Syria to Egypt, the substratum language does not distinguish
between “l” and “r”. So, Samal is in Northern Syria but Samaria is
in Palestine, and Yahuda is in Palestine but Yaudi is in Northern Syria!
The names Samal and Yaudi seem interchangeable, and the names Judah and
Israel also are interchangeable.
The northern Judah is part of the same “highland” regions that are
named in Genesis as the homeland of Jacob and perhaps Abraham. In
short, it seems that the people who “returned” to Judah with the
Persian administrators to settle a land they called Judah came from the
very part of the world where Judah already existed.
Around 1300, the Aramaeans, Semitic people, arrived from Arabia, and
were well settled in Syria by about 1000 BC. They occupied some
formerly Hittite towns and built others of their own that became the
centres of several small city states in the north of the Levant and the
Upper Euphrates river. Their brothers, the Chaldaeans supposedly took over
southern Babylonia and called it Chaldaea. We know nothing much about
these Aramaean states although they undoubtedly have a much greater
significance in biblical studies than almost any modern scholar will
concede. Mostly we know about them from Assyrian inscriptions and official
records, and these are principally accounts of their military subjection,
and occasionally of rebellion, and, in respect of Damascus, particularly,
the bible, where it does not contradict the other sources. A small number
of Aramaean inscriptions pertaining to particular monarchs have been
found, the latest being the Tel Dan inscription, if it is genuine.
The most important of these northern Aramaean states were Arpad (Bit
Agusi), Bit Adini (Eden), Guzana, and Yaudi (Samal) at Zinjirli. Further
south were Hamath, La’ash and Khattina, still further south was
Damascus, the biblical enemy of Israel (Samaria) at this time, but a Beth
Rechob and several others are mentioned in 2 Samuel. These
squabbling minnows united under Irkhuleni, king of Hamath, against the
Assyrian pike in 853 BC. Shalmanezer claimed victory with the death
of 14,000 of the allies’ troops. Ahab of Israel (1 Kgs
16:29ff) participated if we are to take the “Akhabbu Sirla” mentioned
on the victory stele as the same man.
A century later, Tiglath-pileser III absorbed the Aramaean
kingdoms into his empire as provinces. At this point in the archaeology
there is a clear cultural disjuncture as Assyrian artefacts begin to
dominate the Aramaean culture, but no overall picture of the pre-Assyrian
states has yet been revealed by workers.
Samal has been excavated at Zinjirli (Sinjirli, Senjirli) and is often
considered as the capital city of the state of Yaudi. It was a city
surrounded by a ring of two walls on a plain at the foot of the Amanus
mountains. The walls had three gates and in the centre of the city was a
fortified acropolis with a single gate. The interior gates and palaces
were decorated with pictures and animal reliefs, like lions, in a style
called late-Hittite because it was in the Hittite tradition of its former
colonies, and courtyards were colonnaded. Other Aramaean cities had a
similar plan, as if the builders had an ideal in mind.
Palace buildings were in the Hilani style, having a porch with two or
three columns—the bases of which were richly decorated, sometimes with
an animal sculpture—leading into a large room with an oven and several
side rooms, usually with a bath. Access to the palace was by a flight of
stairs from a courtyard enclosed by walls or other buildings. Each
Aramaean city had at least one such palace. No temple was reported at
Samal, but a good example of a temple was found at Tell Ta’yinat, where
it stood next to the palace. Like the temple of Solomon described in the
bible, it faced east, was long, with a porch having two columns, and
having at the western end a recess or holy of holies for the cult image.
Nothing remotely as impressive has ever been found in Yehud, despite its
supposed ancient grandeur.
Aramaean pottery was usually not decorated, although was finished with
a red slip. Volkmar Fritz tells us that no catalogue of the pottery
remains has ever been produced, further evidence of the sheer
irresponsibility, if not idleness and willful destruction by these
so-called experts. It is read so often. De Vaux died without producing his
report on Qumran and some of the Qumran scholars spent themselves in
dipsomaniac studies rather than doing their jobs. Only John Marco Allegro,
much villified for alleged poor scholarship by the drunks and
time-wasters, had published his quota by 1970. Too many archaeologists are
desperate to continue digging to find something that will make their
reputation, and that alone, if found, will be written up because they have
no time to record the mundane findings that are actually in many ways the
most important. Meanwhile the site will have been ruined for any future
more conscientious worker.
Kings of Yaudi
on the throne with a scribe. An orthostat from Zinjirli.
the top, by the symbol of the god Sin, Lord of Harran, it says: My Lord
the Baal Harran I am Barekab the son of Panammu
The kings of Yaudi were:
|Gabbar, a contemporary of Asurnasipal
|Hani or Haiani, son of Gabbar, a contemporary of Shalmaneser.
|Kilammu, son of Haiani
|Panammu I, son of Qural
|Barsur, king of Yaudi
|Barrekab, son of Panammu II|
When Tiglath-pileser III became king of Assyria in 744 BC,
the Assyrian empire had control of most of the fertile crescent of Asia.
Only four small Aramaean kingdoms had vestiges of independence: Carchemish,
Hamath, Gurgum and Samal.
In 739, Assyria was faced with a threat from the north. Urartu had
arisen as a strong kingdom in the mountains around lake Van. It had the
natural corridors of the Tigris into Assyria in the east and the Euphrates
into Syria and the Mediterranean in the west. Assyrian kings felt obliged
to keep Urartu subdued, but the kings of Urartu plotted with the Aramaean
kingdoms in the west to rebel against Assyria.
Carchemish sought assistance from Midas in 717 BC to ward off the
Assyrian menace. Carchemish was an ancient and refined city, the last
remnants of Hittite culture, and had remained independent through clever
alliances and diplomacy.
Azriyau (Azariah) of Yaudi, a usurper, sought alliances with the
“Nineteen districts of Hamath” against Assyria. This rebel was seiged
in his city or in a mountain fortress by the Assyrians and seems to have
Emil Kraeling, who wrote a seminal work on the history of the Aramaeans,
warned us not to confuse Azriyau, a northern personality with Yehouah in
his name, of Yaudi (the northern Judah) with his more famous contemporay,
Azariah of Judah (Yehud, to the Persians). He is warning the people he
expected to read his book, experts on Near Eastern languages and history.
So he had reason to think that even experts might get the two mixed up. He
was not warning ordinary Jews or Christians because not one of them in a
million even know that there was a Yehuda Ben Samal or Yaudi Bar Samal—a
Judah, son of the North—to confuse with the one they all knew from the
bible—Judah Benjamin—let alone that both had a famous Azariah at the
The name Shaddayauda appears on one of the Elamite tablets at
Persepolis about 500 BC, and is assumed to be a Jewish name. Yet, it
does not contain the name Yahu for Yehouah, but Yauda, apparently the name
of the northern kingdom, Yaudi, even though by then it had presumably
disappeared. Shaddai is the ancient name of a rain-god that appears in the
bible and where scholars assume it to mean Yehouah!
Van Luschan, excavating Zingirli, found a shattered inscription that
the skills of the German technicians were able to restore. It was written
in a Semitic language, like Canaanite or Phoenician, but had some Aramaic
characteristics, such as using “bar” for son. The inhabitants seemed
to have been Aramaeans but had retained Canaanite or Phoenician as the
basis of their written records for civic and religious purposes. It had
been commissioned by Kilammu.
Kilammu complained that his country was surrounded by the realms of
powerful kings, each of which was “stretching out his hand against
us”—the very tone of the Jewish scriptures. He says he hired the
Assyrian king to help him against an enemy, who had no alternative but to
yield and give tribute. Kilammu must have yielded to the Assyrians first
and been given by them, as a reward, local rights and authority over some
neighbours, who therefore disliked the Yaudim.
As an Assyrian protectorate the kingdom seemed to have thrived, for
Kilammu boasts about his perfection as an economist and as a diplomat,
running his country so well that no one was destitute. He sounds like a
version of Solomon (which is not far in pronunciation from Kilammu, with a
softening of the initial letter). He says he is like a mother to orphans
in his relationship with his subjects, reminding us of Solomon judging the
proper mother of the infant.
He urges his successors not to allow the two factions in his population
to oppress each other. They might be the older population of Canaanite,
Phoenician and Hittite stock and the incomers of Aramaean stock. One of
the groups are the Barir, a word used later in Aramaic to mean a
foreigner. There might be an implication that the two groups were natives
and people forcibly settled their by Hittite or Assyrian kings. Whatever
the source of the two factions, the situation reflects precisely the
division in the history of Israel between the Jews and the Canaanites.
The end of Kilammu’s inscription is a curse on anyone who tried to
destroy it, to be upheld by the gods invoked:
Baal Semed, who is Gabbar’s, Baal Haman, who is Bamah’s, and Rekabel,
who is Baal of my House.
Darius the Great used the same threat against would be desecraters of
his monuments, and the same threat appears at the end of Revelation,
a book much older than Christianity, but Christianized.
Kilammu’s inscrption is marked by three symbols, one for each
god—horns, a bridle and a waning moon superimposed on a full moon.
Rekabel is a war god shown as a charioteer and so represented by a bridle.
This god is obviously the source of the name of the biblical Rechabites,
whose name is also taken to mean charioteers. Haman is a moon god, like
the Carthaginian Baal Hamon. Semed is an ox god representing a team of
oxen and therefore agriculture. Kilammu himself holds a flower not a
weapon, suggesting he is a vassal because independent kings show
themselves holding weapons.
Panammu I left an inscription on a huge statue of Hadad. Like Kilammu,
he boasts of how well off his subjects are. Another insciption occurs on a
memorial to Panammu II set up by his son, Bar Rekab. Panammu II was the
son of Bar Sur, king of Yaudi. Bar Sur meaning “Son of Assur” might
suggest Assyrian origins or at least a close association. Panammu had a
serious insurrection or coup to face in his reign. The stele gives no
details but the records of the Assyrians reveal that it was nothing other
than the rebellion of Azriyau. Bar Sur and 70 kinsmen were murdered by the
rebels. Many other loyal retainers and subjects must also have been killed
because the cities were left desolate. The distruption of production and
agriculture led to inflation and Panammu gives the price of commodities in
Panammu appealed to the Assyrians and the rebels were forced out. He
“took the hem of the skirt of his lord, the king of Assur,” who placed
him over “the governors and princes of Yaudi.” So, he even had power
over some Assyrian governors. He had been made a Satrap of the Assyrians.
“His lord, the king of Assur gave him preference over the powerful
kings,” and he accompanied Tiglath-pileser as an officer on his
He adds a note to the policy of pacification by deportation, showing
that local governors like himself carried it out in practice because
“the daughters of the east he brought to the west and the daughters of
the west he brought to the east.” He died during the seige of Damascus
and was returned home by the Assyrian king with full honours. The
insciption ends declaring itself to be a memorial and calling upon the
gods of Yaudi as witnesses including Hadad, El, Shamash and Rekabel.
Another Bar Rekab inscription, illustrated above, shows the king
greeting a scribe. It is surmounted by a short inscription and some
symbols of gods (as before) but including a five pointed star within
concentric circles. Again the king holds a flower. The inscription reads:
“I am Bar Rekab, son of Panammu,” and further across, “My lord Baal
Harran.” Above is the moon symbol of the god, Sin—Baal Harran! A
similar monument says the king built a better palace than the kings had
previously had from the time of Kilammu.
Panammu I and II both call themselves kings of Yaudi but Bar Rekab
calls his fathers kings of Samal while calling himself king of Yaudi.
Kilammu also called himself king of Yaudi. The Assyrians called Haiani and
Panammu kings of Samal but Azriyau is described as Yaudi. No one has an
explanation of all this but it remarkably parallels the confusion of the
Judah of the south and Israel.
The Palestinian Judah obviously existed after the exile, appearing in
407 BC in a letter from Elephantine to Bagoas, governor of Judah, on
Yehud (Judah) coins from the 4th century BC, and Yehud seals from the
4th-2nd centuries BC. But Judah is mentioned from time to time
throughout the Assyrian period, the earliest being in two references to
Ahaz King of Judah from the 700s BC:
|A clay seal (bulla) reads “Ahaz Jotham King of Judah.”
|An inscription of the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III at Calah (Nimrud)
says “Jehoahaz of Judah” paid tribute to the Assyrian king.|
The question is: Is this the Aramaean Yaudi or the Jewish country? Or
even, was Yaudi transported to the Palestinian hill country?
Yaudi in Syria disappears about this time and references to a Judah in
Palestine appear, and even the bible records that the Assyrians settled
Aramaeans in Israel. Were these the ruling nobility of Yaudi, who
effectively founded a new Yaudi, perpetuating the history of the older
one. If so, Judah was Israel, being the old kingdom, or part of it
re-named by the new rulers from Yaudi.
The “city of Judah” fell to Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC,
according to Babylonians records, and rations issued to Judean captives,
including Jehoiachin, are also recorded, appearing too in the bible.
Sargon II (721-705 BC) vigorously put down the rebellion of
Yaubidi (another northerner whose name contained the god, Yehouah) in
Hamath, then defeated the Arabs of Gaza and the Egyptians. His successor,
Sennacherib (704-681 BC) ravaged Judah except for Jerusalem which was
spared to pay tribute under Hezekiah (714-686 BC).
An inscription of Sennacherib shows that the Assyrians had the habit of
anointing with oil as a sign of veneration as well as offering sacrifices.
5. Persian Propaganda