Prophet Nahum as Tobias-Job Comforted

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

A further possible extension of holy Job, now as the prophet Nahum.

This article pre-supposes my:

Job’s Life and Times

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

in which I had identified the prophet Job with Tobias, the son of Tobit.

The possibility of a connection between the prophet Job and the obscure prophet Nahum occurred to me only as late as 8th May, 2014.

Nahum is similarly, like Job (qua Job), quite lacking in genealogical details – though I believe that we learn a lot more about Job from the biographical information supplied in Tobit 1.

For Nahum, as for Job (qua Job), we do not have even the usual patronymic; and nor is any tribe ascribed to Nahum (to Job).

So, with all of these negatives, what might be the points for comparison?

The Prophet’s Name

 

The Book of Nahum contains the “vision of Nahum” (1:1), “whose name”, we find (http://www.biblestudytools.com/nahum/) “means “comfort” … Nineveh’s fall, which is Nahum’s theme, would bring comfort to Judah.)”. So far so good, but then this same article goes on to deliver the bad news that: “Nothing is known about [Nahum] except his hometown (Elkosh), and even its general location is uncertain”.

It is highly conceivable that Tobit’s son, Tobias, whose name I think pertains to ‘Abdias, Hebrew ‘Obadiah, “Servant of Yahweh”, a common name for an official, might have been re-named Nahum/Nehemiah, “The Lord comforts”, at the end of his trials, as Job, when he was, as we read, “comforted and consoled” (42:10-11):

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

The Prophet’s Location

According to a tradition, Elkosh was in Simeonite territory and so Nahum would have belonged to this tribe; a view that I had pursued, but to no great ultimate effect in hindsight, in my thesis:

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah and its Background

http://hdl.handle.net/2123/5973

even to the extent of my having painstakingly compared, in Hebrew, the entire Book of Nahum to what I considered to be like passages in the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah himself I do believe to have been a Simeonite).

Far more promising, I now believe, is the opinion that Nahum’s “Elkosh” stands for Al Qosh (Qush), a town situated in northern Iraq, about 25 miles north of modern day Mosul, a city that is across the Tigris River from Nineveh. Thus, suiting my new theory, the prophet Nahum would have been a descendant of the northern exiles taken to Assyria in 722 B.C. (conventional dating). His tomb has in fact long been honoured at that very site of Al Qosh (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Shavuot). {I shall say more on the tomb later}. A location for Nahum in Assyrian Mesopotamia would give added emphasis, too, to the prophet’s preoccupation with Assyria and Nineveh.

The Prophet’s Era

Whilst commentators are generally unable to locate the proper era for Job, there is far greater certainty attached to that of Nahum, who recorded the destruction of Thebes, or “No-Amon”, known to have occurred at the hands of king Ashurbanipal of Assyria, in c. 663 BC (conventional dating). Nahum 3:8: “Are you [Nineveh] better than No-Amon, which was situated by the waters of the Nile, with water surrounding her, whose rampart was the sea, whose wall consisted of the sea?” Despite the fact that Thebes was not actually by the Sea, Nahum’s description can be properly understood with reference to the Book of Job, for (http://biblehub.com/topical/n/no-amon.htm): “The description of No-amon in Nahum 3:8 seems to be that of a delta city, but yam, “sea” in that passage is used poetically for the Nile, as in Job 41:31 …”.

That is perfectly applicable to the topography of Thebes, situated on both banks of the Nile. Now, in a terrific article, it has been shown that the Book of Nahum intertwines marvellously for the most part with the reign of king Ashurbanipal of Assyria (c. 668 BC – c. 627 BC,   conventional dating) (http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/05/28/nahum2c-nineveh-and-those-nasty-assyrians.aspx#Article):

Nahum, Nineveh and Those Nasty Assyrians

….

The Date of the Book of Nahum

Scholars have long debated the date of the book of Nahum. A wide range of dates has been suggested, from the eighth century BC (Feinberg 1951:126, 148) to the Maccabean period, early second century BC (Haupt 1907). Yet, the book gives us internal chronological parameters to date the book. Nahum describes the conquest of Thebes (No-Amon) by Ashurbanipal II in 663 BC as a past event, thus the book could not have been written before that date. The entire book is a prediction of the fall of the city of Nineveh in 612 BC. Thus, the book was written somewhere between 663 and 612 BC.

A case can be made for the proclamation of the message, and writing of the book, about 650 BC. If this is the correct date, the Spirit of God used this book to put King Manasseh into a position where he could come to faith and bring Judah back to the LORD. Up until this point in the reign of King Manasseh, the kingdom, led by the king, was “more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Chr 33:9). The LORD sent seers (prophets) to speak to the nation, but the nation would not listen to the Word of God (33:10, 18). While not named, one of the seers was probably Nahum.

The aged Tobit had also talked of “prophets” having been sent, but in this case regarding “Nineveh and Assyria”. And Tobit, too, supposedly mentions “Nahum”, though I myself would favour here the version of the Book of Tobit that gives, instead of Nahum, “Jonah” (Tobit 14:3-4):

But just before Tobit died, he sent for his son Tobias and told him, ‘My son, take your children and go at once to Media. I believe that God’s judgment which his prophet Nahum [read 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’.

  1. Reardon, who accepts the “Jonah” version, interestingly (in my context) points to the likeness between the Book of Tobit and the Book of Jonah, on the one hand, and also the Book of Job (http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=12-02-036-f#ixzz3):

…. The world of Tobit is, first of all, the world of biblical literature and history. Not only does the book provide an elaborate description of the religious deterioration of the Northern Kingdom in the eighth century, and then the deportation and consequent social conditions of those tribes after 722, but it explicitly … makes reference (14:4) to the preaching of Jonah at Nineveh…. Tobit thus presupposes the history narrated in Kings, Chronicles, and the eighth-century prophets.

Tobit’s explicit reference to Jonah is of considerable interest in the light of certain affinities between the two books. First and second, both stories take place about the same time … and both in Mesopotamia. Third, both accounts involve a journey. Fourth, the distressed Tobit, like Jonah, prays to die. Fifth and most strikingly, his son Tobias encounters a fish that attempts—with less success than Jonah’s fish—to swallow him! Finally, in each book the fish serves as a special instrument of Divine Providence.

Besides Jonah, Tobit shows several remarkable affinities to the Book of Job, some of which were noted rather early in Christian exegesis. For example, the title characters of both works shared a zeal for purity of life, almsgiving, and other deeds of charity (Job 1 and 31; Tobit 1–2), patient endurance of trials sent by God … a deep weariness of life itself (Job 7:15; Tobit 3:6), a final vindication by the Lord at the end of each book, and perhaps even a common hope of the resurrection…. As early as Cyprian in the third century, it was also noted that both men were similarly mocked by wives unable to appreciate their virtue and faith in God. ….

Now, returning to the article, “Nahum, Nineveh and Those Nasty Assyrians”:

[Nahum’s] vision concerning the total destruction of Nineveh would be seen by the Assyrian overlords as fomenting rebellion and insurrection, and possibly seen as support for Shamash-shum-ukin, the king of Babylon, in his current civil war with his brother Ashurbanipal II. If a copy of the book of Nahum fell into the hands of the Assyrian intelligence community stationed at the Assyrian administrative centers of Samaria, Dor, Megiddo or Hazor, King Manasseh would have had to give account for this book. The Biblical record states, the LORD brought upon them [Judah] the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon (2 Chr 33:11).

This event would have transpired in 648 BC, the year that Ashurbanipal II temporarily ruled Babylon after he eliminated his brother as a result of the four-year civil war (Rainey 1993:160).

Dragging someone off with hooks in their nose would be in keeping with Ashurbanipal’s character. In the excavations of Sam’al (Zincirli, in southern Turkey) a stela was found depicting Esarhaddon holding two leashes attached to the nose-rings of Baal of Tyre and Usanahuru, a crown prince of Egypt (see front cover). Flanking the stela, watching intently, is Esarhaddon’s son Ashurbanipal on the left and his brother Samas-sumu-ukin on the right. Ashurbanipal observed his father’s brutality and followed his example (Parpola and Watanabe 1988:20, 21).

During Manasseh’s interrogation by Ashurbanipal II (and it must have been a brutal one—the text used the word “afflicted”).

He implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God (2 Chr 33:12–13).

What we find is that this King Manasseh of Judah, upon his return from Babylon, embarked upon restorative building works, including an “outer wall of the City of David, west of the Gihon spring in the valley, as far as the entrance of the Fish Gate and encircling the hill of Ophel; he also made it much higher” (2 Chronicles 33:14). And, according to the Nahum article: “This activity was in accord with what Nahum had challenged the people to do”:

Upon his return to Jerusalem, Manasseh began building projects in the city as well as elsewhere in Judah and removed the idols and altars he had placed in the Temple (2 Chr 33:14–15).

He also repaired the altar of the LORD, sacrificed peace offerings and thanks offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel (33:16).

This activity was in accord with what Nahum had challenged the people to do.

Behold, on the mountains, the feet of him who brings good tidings, who proclaims peace! O Judah, keep your appointed feast, perform your vows. For the wicked one shall no more pass through; he is utterly cut off (1:15).

The challenge was for Judeans to renew their pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the thrice-yearly feasts of Pesach (Passover), Shav’uot (Pentecost) and Succoth (Tabernacles) (Ex 23:14–17; 34:22–24; Dt 16:16, 17). There was also a command for the remnant that faithfully prayed to the LORD desiring to bring the nation back to Biblical worship and to bring the king to the LORD. They were to perform the vow they had made to the LORD. The Bible records a half-hearted attempt to return to Biblical worship, “Nevertheless, the people still sacrificed on the high places, but only to the LORD their God” (2 Chr 33:17). The only true place of worship was the Temple in Jerusalem, not the high places.

But is not this belief in Jerusalem’s Temple as “only true place of worship” pure Tobit, who recalls (1:4-9; cf. ch. 13)?:

In my young days, when I was still at home in the land of Israel, the whole tribe of Naphtali my ancestor broke away from the House of David and from Jerusalem, though this was the city chosen out of all the tribes of Israel for their sacrifices; here, the Temple — God’s dwelling-place — had been built and hollowed for all generations to come.

All my brothers and the House of Naphtali sacrificed on every hill-top in Galilee to the calf that Jeroboam king of Israel had made at Dan.

Often I was quite alone in making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, fulfilling the Law that binds all Israel perpetually. I would hurry to Jerusalem with the first yield of fruits and beasts, the tithe of cattle and the sheep’s first shearings.

I would give these to the priests, the sons of Aaron, for the altar. To the Levites ministering at Jerusalem I would give my tithe of wine and corn, olives, pomegranates and other fruits. Six years in succession I took the second tithe in money and went and paid it annually at Jerusalem.

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. ….

Getting back again to the Nahum article, reasons are now given as to why some scholars would locate the prophet to Al Qosh (Qush) near Nineveh:

Nahum prophesied the destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the sole superpower, at the zenith of Assyria’s power and glory. He boldly proclaimed a message that was not popular, nor “politically correct.” In fact, most Judeans would think his prediction of the downfall of Nineveh impossible.

….

Nahum was from Elkosh (Na 1:1). Some scholars have suggested [Elkosh] was located at the village of Al-Qush … across the Tigris River from Nineveh. These scholars take this position because: (1) the names are similar, (2) the local Christian tradition holds that Nahum was from there and his tomb was there, and (3) Nahum’s writings show his familiarity with the city of Nineveh. Some speculate that Nahum was an Israelite captive who lived in the area and was an eyewitness to the city.

There is, however, the possibility that Elkosh was in southern Judah and Nahum was part of the Judean emissary that brought the yearly tribute from King Manasseh to Nineveh.

[End of quote]

Whilst I would entirely accept for Nahum’s home the Al Qush in Iraq, rather than some vague Judaean location, I should not, however, rule out the possibility also that the prophet Nahum (as Tobias/Job) may have had something of a roving commission on behalf of the king of Assyria, in the same way that his father Tobit apparently had once had, when serving the earlier Assyrian king, “Shalmaneser” (Tobit 1:12-14):

And because I had kept faith with my God with my whole heart, the Most High granted me the favour of Shalmaneser, and I became the king’s purveyor. Until his death I used to travel to Media, where I transacted business on his behalf, and I deposited sacks of silver worth ten talents with Gabael the brother of Gabrias at Rhages in Media.

{Tobit’s “Media” was, according to my Job article, “Midian”, or the Bashan area}.

The Douay version of Tobit 1:14 seems to represent King Shalmaneser (“Salmanasar”) as having allowed Tobit virtually total discretionary freedom: “And [Shalmaneser] gave [Tobit] leave to go whithersoever he would, with liberty to do whatever he had a mind”.

That Tobias had himself been highly respected in Nineveh even in his youth, at least among the captives, may perhaps be gauged from the account of his and Sarah’s wedding there (11:17-18): “On this day joy came to all the Jews who were in Nineveh. Ahikar and Nadab, Tobit’s nephews, were also there, rejoicing with Tobit. And Tobias’ wedding feast was celebrated joyfully for seven days”.

The Nahum article continues:

While in Nineveh, [Nahum] would have observed the broad roads (Na 2:4), walls (2:5), gates (2:6), temples and idols (1:14), and its vast wealth (2:9). I’m sure the minister of propaganda would have shown him the wall reliefs in Ashurbanipal’s residence! These reliefs were intended “as propaganda to impress, intimidate and instigate by representing the might of Assyrian power and the harsh punishment of rebels” (Comelius 1989:56). Or, as Esarhaddon would say, “For the gaze of all my foes, to the end of days, I set it [stela] up” (Luckenbill 1989:2:227).

Let us examine the reliefs from the British Museum that were found on the walls of Ashurbanipal’s palace and see how they illustrate the word-pictures used by Nahum in his book.

Blasphemy against Assur (Na 1:14)

In 650 BC, Nahum would have seen the newly opened Room 33 in the Southwest Palace of Nineveh (Sennacherib’s “palace without rival”) with the reliefs depicting the campaign against Teumman of Elam and Dunanu of Gambula in 633 BC. One Particular relief would have caught his attention. On it, Elamite captives are shown being tortured. The caption above stated, “Mr. (blank) and Mr. (blank) spoke great insults against Assur, the god, my creator. Their tongues I tore out, their skins I flayed” (Russell 1999:180; Gerardi 1988:31). These two individuals are identified in Ashurbanipal’s annals as Mannu-ki-ahhe and Nabuusalli (Russell 1999:163).

The prophet Job too, man of vast experience as he was, had witnessed such things (Job 13:1): “My eyes have seen all this …”. All what things? “All this” (Job 12:17-25):

[God] leads rulers away stripped and makes fools of judges. He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties a loincloth around their waist. He leads priests away stripped and overthrows officials long established. He silences the lips of trusted advisers and takes away the discernment of elders. He pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty. He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light. He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them. He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he makes them wander in a trackless waste. They grope in darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.

Whilst the Nahum article would have the prophet, in his first chapter, boldly proclaiming destruction to Assyria around c. 650 BC, at the time of king Ashurbanipal, some of Nahum’s invective may well have been directed towards an earlier period, when the blasphemous king of Assyria, Sennacherib, sent his Commander-in-Chief against the west (including Israel). Nahum 1:15: “Belial shall no longer pass through thee; he is utterly cut off”.

For a reconstruction of this campaign, see my Achior articles:

Ahikar Part One: As a Young Officer for Assyria.

http://www.academia.edu/7048703/Ahikar_or_Achior._Part_One

 

and

Ahikar Part Two: As a Convert to Yahwism.

 

http://www.academia.edu/7067422/Ahikar_Part_Two_As_a_Convert_to_Yahwism

and

“Nadin went into everlasting darkness”.

 

https://www.academia.edu/7177604/_Nadin_went_into_everlasting_darkness_

Tobias/Job (= Nahum), as a cousin of the Ahikar (Achior of the Book of Judith) who had played such an important part in the whole episode, would thus himself have been fully aware of the famous historical incident that had culminated in Judith’s victory.

The Nahum article continues:

It was with great boldness that Nahum proclaimed,

The LORD has given a command concerning you [the king of Assyria]: “Your name shall be perpetuated no longer. Out of the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and molded image. I will dig your grave, for you are vile” (1:14).

These words were a direct attack on Assur and the rest of the Assyrian deities, as well as the king. Yet Nahum boldly proclaimed the message God gave him, in spite of the potential threat to his life!

Similarly, Tobit’s charitable zeal had led to his having had to flee for his very life from the wrath of Sennacherib (Tobit 1:18-20).

The Fall of Nineveh

 

What would incline me to prefer my combined Nahum as Tobias/Job, rather than Nahum as Job’s cousin, Ahikar/Achior, is the fact that Nahum had apparently lived to witness the Fall of Nineveh (conventionally dated to 612 BC), an event that had occurred late during the reign of King Josiah of Judah (c. 641-609 BC).

Why?

Because we learn from the Book of Tobit that Tobias (my Nahum) himself had lived long enough to have witnessed it. This fact is narrated in the last chapter of the book, just after we learn about Tobit’s own death and burial. Note here, firstly, how old Tobit berates wicked Nineveh in terms that would be right at home in the Book of Nahum (Tobit 14:9-10, 11-15):

‘So then, my son, leave Nineveh, do not stay here. As soon as you have buried your mother next to me, go the same day, whenever it may be, and do not linger in this country where I see wickedness and perfidy unashamedly triumphant. …’.

They laid him back on his bed; he died and was buried with honour. When his mother died, Tobias buried her beside his father.

Then he left for Media with his wife and children. He lived in Ecbatana with Raguel, his father-in-law. He treated the ageing parents of his wife with every care and respect, and later buried them in Ecbatana in Media. Tobias inherited the patrimony of Raguel besides that of his father Tobit.

Much honoured, he lived to the age of a hundred and seventeen years.

Before he died he witnessed the ruin of Nineveh. He saw the Ninevites taken prisoner and deported to Media by Cyaxares king of Media. He blessed God for everything he inflicted on the Ninevites and Assyrians. Before his death he had the opportunity of rejoicing over the fate of Nineveh, and he blessed the Lord God for ever and ever. Amen.

This is where Tobias, having fled Nineveh with his family for “Media”, that is (Midian) Bashan (“land of Uz”), morphs into the Job who will there be so sorely tried. And from where he will, as an aged man, reminisce upon his glorious former career perhaps as a high official for Assyria. Not that every one of Job’s trials must needs have occurred in that same Palestinian location, however. For, though the text of Job as it is typically translated thrice reads, in the space of three verses (1:16, 17 and 18): “While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said …”, as if Job’s calamities had befallen the poor man all at once, that does not happen in real life (though people can admittedly experience a sudden run of misfortune). As I have noted in previous articles, the Hebrew here can be rendered along the lines of, “while this was still fresh in human memory”.

Actual years may have elapsed between at least some of these calamities.

Another point that needs comment is the discrepancy between the figure of 117 for the age of Tobias at death, as given in the quote above, and the age given for him as the prophet Job (42:16): “After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation”. But that the figures are uncertain in both cases is apparent from the fact that, for Tobias, it varies from this 117 (Good News), to 127 (King James), whilst Job’s 140 years is rendered in the LXX as Job living 170 years after his misfortune, for a total life span of 240 years.

What appears certain is that our composite prophet had lived for well over 100 years.

The Nahum article proceeds to describe the Fall of Nineveh:

Chariots, Not Volkswagens! (Na 2:3, 4)

The second chapter of Nahum describes the fall of the city of Nineveh to the Babylonians and Medes in 612 BC. He describes in detail the shields, chariots and spears of the Assyrian foes. While we do not have any contemporary Babylonian reliefs of their chariots, there are Assyrian reliefs of Assyrian chariots riding furiously. These chariots are depicted on the reliefs of the Assyrians attacking the Arabs.

Nahum mentions the broad roads of Nineveh. Ashurbanipal’s grandfather, Sennacherib, was the one who improved the streets of Nineveh. In the “Bellino cylinder” he boasts,

I [Sennacherib] widened its [Nineveh’s] squares, made bright the avenues and streets and caused them to shine like the day (1:61).

In the context of the book, Nahum sees a vision of chariots in the streets of Nineveh, not Volkswagens, as some prophecy teachers have speculated!

Take the Booty and Run! (Na 2:9, 10)

Nineveh was the Fort Knox of mid-seventh century BC Mesopotamia. On every Assyrian campaign they removed the silver, gold and precious stones and other items from the cities they sacked. When they bragged about the booty that was taken, silver and gold always topped the list. As an example, after the fall of No-Amon (Thebes), Ashurbanipal bragged that he took:

Silver, gold, precious stones, the goods of his palace, all there was, brightly colored and linen garments, great horses, the people, male and female, two tall obelisks…I removed from their positions and carried them off to Assyria. Heavy plunder, and countless, I carried away from Ni’ [Thebes] (Luckenbill 1989, 2:296, ¶778).

There are also reliefs of Assyrian scribes writing down the booty that was taken from other cities.

In Nahum’s vision he heard someone say,

Take spoil of silver! Take spoil of gold! These is no end of treasure, or wealth of every desirable prize. She is empty, desolate and waste! (2:9, 10a).

….

The Lion Hunt (Na 2:11–13)

David Dorsey, in his outstanding book, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament (1999:301–305), places the lion’s den verses (2:11–13) at the center of the book’s chiastic structure. In commenting on the pattern of the structure he says,

 

This progression underscores the certainty of Nineveh’s fall: Yahweh’s prophet not only believes that it will happen; he composes dirges as though it has already happened. The placement of the eulogy over the “lion’s den” in the book’s highlighted central position reinforces this sense of certainty (1999:304, italics added).

Nahum used the lion and lion hunt motifs that both the Judeans and Assyrians would have been well familiar with. The Assyrians had a long history of depicting their king and warriors as mighty lions or great lion hunters (Johnston 2001:296–301). The Bible also depicts the Assyrian warriors as roaring lions (Is 5:29) and Yahweh as a lion who will tear up His prey and carry it off to His lair (Hos 5:14, 15; 13:7, 8; Johnston 2001:294, 295).

…. Ashurbanipal II, following in the footsteps of his predecessors, took charge of the lion hunts in order to control the lion population (Luckenbill 1989, 2:392, ¶ 1025).

Ashurbanipal also engaged in lion hunting as a sport. Apparently lions were captured alive and put in cages in the king’s garden in Nineveh and used for staged lion hunts (Weissert 1997:339–58). One relief that was found in Ashurbanipal’s palace at Nineveh, apparently from a second floor, had three panels depicting a lion hunt. On the top panel, a lion is released from a cage and Ashurbanipal is shooting him with arrows. The central panel is interesting because it shows the bravery of the king. On the right side of the panel, soldiers are distracting a lion. On the left side, Ashurbanipal sneaks up and grabs the lion by the tail as he rears to his hind legs. The inscription above says,

I, Ashurbanipal, king of the universe, king of Assyria, in my lordly sport, I seized a lion of the plain by his tail and at the command of Urta, Nergal, the gods, my allies, I smashed his skull with the club of my hand (Luckenbill 1989, 2:391, ¶ 1023).

The king attributes his bravery to the deities. Dr. J. E. Reade, one of the keepers of the Western Asiatic Antiquities at the British Museum, has observed,

It is notable that much of the lion’s tail has been chipped away, so that the lion had been, as it were, set loose; this defacement was probably the action, at once humorous and symbolic, of some enemy soldier busy ransacking the palace in 612 B.C. (Curtis and Reade 1995:87).

On the lower panel, Ashurbanipal is pouring out a wine libation over the carcasses of four lions. In the inscription above, the king boasts of his power by saying,

I, Ashurbanipal, king of the universe, king of Assyria, whom Assur and Ninlil have endowed with surpassing might. The lions which I slew, the terrible bow of Ishtar, lady of battle, I aimed at them. I brought an offering, I poured out wine over them (Luckenbill 1989, 2:392, ¶ 1021).

Once again the king attributes his mighty power to the gods, in this case Assur and Ninlil.

In contrast, Ashurbanipal boasts that kings and lions are powerless before him. At the beginning of one of his annals (Cylinder F) he states,

Among men, kings, and among the beasts, lions (?) were powerless before my bow, I know (the art) of waging battle and combat…A valiant hero, beloved of Assur and Ishtar, of royal lineage, am I (Luckenbill 1989, 2:347, ¶ 896).

Ashurbanipal has tied his lion hunting and military conquests together in one statement.

In the vision of Nahum concerning Nineveh, Nahum asks a rhetorical question,

Where is the dwelling of the lions, and the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion walked, the lioness and lion’s cub, and no one made them afraid? (2:11).

He sees Nineveh as a lions’ den that has been destroyed and the lions are gone. The “prey” in verse 12 is apparently the booty that the Assyrians have taken from all the cities they conquered in recent memory.

In verse 13, the LORD states directly,

Behold, I am against you. I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions; I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messenger shall be heard no more.

God also refers to “lions” in his challenge to Job (38:39-40; cf. 28:8): “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket?”

The Nahum article continues:

The phrase “the sword shall devour your young lions” draws our attention to another relief showing Ashurbanipal thrusting a sword through a lion. The inscription associated with this relief says,

I, Ashurbanipal, king of the universe, king of Assyria, in my lordly sport, they let a fierce lion of the plain out of the cage and on foot…I stabbed him later with my iron girdle dagger and he died (Luckenbill 1989, 2:392, ¶ 1024).

The book of Nahum sets forth an ironic reversal of the Assyrian usage of the lion motif. Gordon Johnston has observed.

The extended lion metaphor in Nahum 2:11–13 includes the two major varieties of the Neo-Assyrian lion motif: the depiction of the Assyrian king and his warriors as mighty lions, and the royal lion hunt theme. While the Assyrians kept these two motifs separate, Nahum dovetailed the two, but in doing so he also reversed their original significance. While the Assyrian warriors loved to depict themselves as mighty lions hunting their prey, Nahum pictured them as lions that would be hunted down. The Assyrian kings also boasted that they were mighty hunters in royal lion hunts; Nahum pictured them as the lions being hunted in the lion hunt. By these reversals Nahum created an unexpected twist on Assyrian usage. According to Nahum the Assyrians were like lions, to be sure; however, not in the way that they depicted themselves; rather than being like lions on the prowl for prey, the hunters would become the hunted! (2001:304).

The Nahum article then proceeds to a consideration of Nahum’s final chapter, on Nineveh:

Nineveh, a Bloody City (Na 3:1)

Nahum pronounces: “woe to the bloody city (of Nineveh)” (3:1). The city and the Assyrian Empire had a well-earned reputation for being bloody. Just a casual glance at the reliefs from the palaces of Sennacherib and Ashurbanipal shows the “gory and bloodcurdling history as we know it” (Bleibtreu. 1991:52). There are reliefs with people being impaled, decapitated, flayed, and tongues pulled out. Other reliefs show the Assyrians making people grind the bones of their dead ancestors, and even vultures plucking out the eyes of the dead!

One panel graphically shows their disrespect for human life. On it, a commander is presenting a bracelet to an Assyrian soldier who had decapitated the five or six heads at his feet. There are two scribes behind him recording the event. This bracelet, perhaps a medal of valor, is worth five or six lives! In Assyrian thinking, life was cheap.

Countless Corpses (Na 3:3)

There is an old adage that says, “What goes around, comes around.” The Bible would use an agricultural metaphor, “You reap what you sow” (cf. Gal 6:7). This is true in the geo-political realm as well as the personal realm. The Assyrians, over their long history, were brutal and barbaric people. Yet there came a point in history where God said, “Enough is enough,” and He removed the offending party (Na 2:13; 3:4).

Nineveh fell in 612 BC, yet it wasn’t until the 1989 and 1990 seasons of the University of California, Berkeley excavations in the Halzi Gate that graphic evidence of the final battle of Nineveh was revealed. Upwards of 16 bodies were excavated in the gate, all slain (Stronach and Lumsden 1992:227–33; Stronach 1997:315–19). Archaeological excavations have vividly confirmed the words of the Biblical text.

Horsemen charge with bright sword and glittering spear. There is a multitude of slain, a great number of bodies, countless corpses—they stumble over the corpses (Na 3:3).

[End of quotes]

 

Conclusion

 

My reconstructed Job, as Tobias son of Tobit, whose life began in the neo-Assyrian era approximately during the early reign of Sennacherib, and who must have (given his long life) continued down to at least the reign of King Josiah of Judah – when the sorely afflicted Job encountered the young Jeremiah, as Elihu (I believe):

Does the Prophet Jeremiah Figure in the Book of Job?

https://www.academia.edu/6910521/Does_the_Prophet_Jeremiah_Figure_in_the_Book_of_Jo

and

A Case for Multi-identifying the Prophet Jeremiah

https://www.academia.edu/6923241/A_Case_for_Multi-identifying_the_Prophet_Jeremiah

– and downwards even further, to very late in the reign of this same Josiah, when Nineveh fell (c. 612 BC, conventional dating), was a contemporary of the prophet Nahum, whose writings we have determined spanned the approximate period from Ashurbanipal’s destruction of Thebes (c. 663 BC) to the Fall of Nineveh (c. 612 BC).

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