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Book 4. Sacred History or Phoney History?

The Two Judahs: Yehud Benjamin and Yaudi Bar Samal


The Two Judahs


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 that!

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

Barrekab on the throne with a scribe. An orthostat from Zinjirli.

At 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
Sheil (Saul)
Panammu I, son of Qural
Barsur, king of Yaudi
Panammu II
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 been killed.

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 same time.

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 shekels.

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 conquests.

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.





Book 5. Persian Propaganda




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