Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 16, 2014

The Historicality of the King: An Exercise in Reading Royal Inscriptions from the Ancient Levant

  • Matthew James Suriano EMAIL logo

Abstract

The problem with using royal inscriptions as historical sources is their inherent bias. The interests of the king drive the narratives of royal inscriptions. Yet this essential feature reveals their underlying concept of history. In royal inscriptions, historical thought is defined by the life and experience of the king. This article will present a hermeneutic for reading royal inscriptions that focuses on the individual king. The article will first look at the concept of historical time in epigraphic Hebrew and Old Aramaic sources before examining the complicated ways in which this concept is rendered in the principal genres of royal writings, the memorial and the dedicatory inscription. A survey of features found in memorial inscriptions from Dibon (the Mesha Stele) and Sam’al (Kulamuwa), followed by a study of the Old Byblian dedicatory inscriptions, will explore the complex process of configuring time and narrative around the king. In each genre of royal inscription, the linear time of the ruler intersects with cyclical traditions of kingship, revealing the historicality of respective king.

Bibliography

Albright, William F.1947. The Phoenician Inscriptions of the Tenth Century b.c. from Byblus. JAOS67: 15369.10.2307/596081Search in Google Scholar

Benveniste, Émile. 1965. Language and Human Experience. Diogenes13: 112.10.1177/039219216501305101Search in Google Scholar

Bonnet, Corinne.2010. Die Religion der Phönizier und Punier. Pp. 13–185 in Religionen in der Umwelt des Alten Testaments II: Phönizier, Punier, Aramäer, eds. G.Bitter, E.Dassmann, C.Frevel, H.-J.Klauck, and H.Vorgrimler.Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer.Search in Google Scholar

Bron, François, and AndréLemaire. 1989. Les inscriptions araméenes de Hazaël. RA83: 3544.Search in Google Scholar

Brown, Brian.2008. The Kilamuwa Relief: Ethnicity, Class and Power in Iron Age North Syria. Pp. 339–55 in Proceedings of the 5th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient near East: Madrid, April 3–8, 2006, eds. J.Córdoba, M.Molist, C.Pérez, I.Rubio, and S.Martínez. Madrid: Ediciones Universidad Autónoma de Madrid: Centro Superior de Estudios sobre el Oriente Próximo y Egipto.Search in Google Scholar

Çambel, Halet. 1999. Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions. Studies in Indo-European Language and Culture. Vol. I (Karatepe–Aslantaş). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110879759Search in Google Scholar

Charbonnet, André. 1986. Le dieu aux lions d‘Eretrie. AION8: 11773, Pls. 133–41.Search in Google Scholar

Clifford, Richard J.1990. Phoenician Religion. BASOR279: 5564.10.2307/1357208Search in Google Scholar

Cogan, Mordechai.2001. 1 Kings: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Bible, 10. New York: Doubleday.10.5040/9780300261974Search in Google Scholar

Collins, Terence.1971. The Kilamuwa Inscription–a Phoenician Poem. WdO6: 18388.Search in Google Scholar

Dearman, J. Andrew.1989. Historical Reconstruction and the Mesha Inscription. Pp. 155210 in Studies in the Mesha Inscription and Moab, ed. J.Andrew Dearman. Archaeology and Biblical Studies, 2. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press.Search in Google Scholar

Dion, P.-E.1997. Les Araméens à l’âge du Fer, Études Bibliques [Ns] 34. Paris: J. Gabalda.Search in Google Scholar

Dobbs-Allsopp, F. W., J. J. M.Roberts, C. L.Seow, and R. E.Whitaker.2004. Hebrew Inscriptions: Texts from the Biblical Period of the Monarchy with Concordance. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Donner, H., and W.Röllig.1966–69. Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften. Bd. 1 (Texte, 1966), Bd. II (Kommentar, 1968), Bd. III (Glossare und Indizes, Tafeln, 1969). Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.Search in Google Scholar

Drinkard, Joel. F.1989. The Literary Genre of the Mesha Inscription. Pp. 13154 in Studies in the Mesha Inscription and Moab, ed. J.Andrew Dearman. Archaeology and Biblical Studies, 2. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press.Search in Google Scholar

Eph’al, Israel, an. 1989. Hazael’s Booty Inscriptions. IEJ39: 193200.Search in Google Scholar

Fales, Frederick M.1979. Kilamuwa and the Foreign Kings: Propaganda vs. Power. Die Welt des Orients10: 622.Search in Google Scholar

Friedrich, Johannes, and WolfgangRöllig. 1999. Phönizisch-Punische Grammatik, 3. Aufl./ ed. MariaG.AmadasiGuzzo, Analecta Orientalia 55. Rome: Pontificio Istituto biblico.Search in Google Scholar

Gadamer, Hans G.1975. Truth and Method. A Continuum Book. New York: Seabury Press.Search in Google Scholar

Galil, Gershon.1996. The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah. SHCANE 9. New York: Brill.Search in Google Scholar

Galling, Kurt.1950. The Scepter of Wisdom: A Note on the Gold Sheath of Zendjirli and Ecclesiastes 12:11. BASOR119: 1518.10.2307/3218799Search in Google Scholar

Garr, W. Randall. 2004. Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestine, 1000–586 b.c.e. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.Search in Google Scholar

Gibson, J. C. L.1982Textbook of Syrian Semitic Inscriptions. Vol. 3. Phoenician inscriptions, including inscriptions in the mixed dialect of Arslan Tash. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Search in Google Scholar

Grabbe, Lester L.2004. A History of the Jews and Judaism in the Second Temple Period. Vol. 2. The early Hellenistic period (335–175 BCE), Library of Second Temple Studies. London: T&T Clark International.Search in Google Scholar

Grabbe, Lester L.2007. Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It?London: T & T Clark.Search in Google Scholar

Green, Douglas J.2010. “I Undertook Great Works.” The Ideology of Domestic Achievements in West Semitic Royal Inscriptions. FAT 2, 41. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.Search in Google Scholar

Greenstein, Edward L.1976. A Phoenician Inscription in Ugaritic Script?JANES8: 4957.Search in Google Scholar

Greenstein, Edward L. and DavidMarcus.1976. The Akkadian Inscription of Idrimi. JANES8: 5996.Search in Google Scholar

Gzella, Holger.2013. The Linguistic Position of Old Byblian. Pp. 170–98 in Linguistics Studies in Phoenician in Memory of J. Brian Peckham, eds. R. D.Holmstedt and A.Schade. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.10.5325/j.ctv1bxgz3w.13Search in Google Scholar

Hafthorsson, Sigurdur.2006. A Passing Power: An Examination of the Sources for the History of Aram-Damascus in the Second Half of the Ninth Century B.C., Coniectanea Biblica Old Testament Series. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International.Search in Google Scholar

Harrak, Amir.1992. Des noms d’année en araméen?WdO23: 874.Search in Google Scholar

Harris, Zellig. S.1936. A Grammar of the Phoenician Language. AOS, 8. New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society.Search in Google Scholar

Harrison, Timothy P.2001. Tell Ta’yinat and the Kingdom of Unqi. Pp. 115–32 in The World of the Aramaeans II, eds. P. M. M.Daviau, J. W.Wevers, and M.Weigl. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Publishers.Search in Google Scholar

Heidegger, Martin.1962. Being and Time. Trans. JohnMacquarrie & EdwardRobinson.New York: Harper.Search in Google Scholar

Herrmann, Wolfram.1958. Der historische Ertrag der altbyblischen Königsinschriften. MIO6: 1432.Search in Google Scholar

Ishida, Tomoo.1977. The Royal Dynasties in Ancient Israel: A Study on the Formation and Development of Royal-Dynastic Ideology, ed. G.Fohrer. Beiheft zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 142. Berlin: W. de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110853766Search in Google Scholar

Jauss, Hans R.1970. Literary History as a Challenge to Literary Theory. New Literary History2: 737.10.2307/468585Search in Google Scholar

Kantor, Helene J.1962. Oriental Institute Museum Notes, No. 13: A Bronze Plaque with Relief Decorations from Tell Tainat. JNES21: 93117.Search in Google Scholar

Kaufman, Ivan T.1966. The Samaria Ostraca: A Study in Ancient Hebrew Paleaography. Th.D. Dissertation, Harvard University.Search in Google Scholar

Kaufman, Ivan T.1982. The Samaria Ostraca: An Early Witness to Hebrew Writing. BA45: 22939.10.2307/3209768Search in Google Scholar

Koselleck, Reinhart.1985. Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, trans. Keith Tribe. Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Koselleck, Reinhart.1989. Linguistic Change and the History of Events. Journal of Modern History61: 64966.10.1086/468339Search in Google Scholar

Krahmalkov, Charles R.2001. A Phoenician-Punic Grammar. HdO I: ANEME, 54. Leiden: Brill.10.1163/9789004294202Search in Google Scholar

Kyrieleis, Helmut, and WolframRöllig. 1988. Ein altorientalischer Pferdeschmuck aus dem Heraion von Samos. AM103: 3775, Pls. 39–15.Search in Google Scholar

Landsberger, Benno.1948. Sam’al: Karatepe. Türk Tarih Kurumu: Ankara.Lehmann.Search in Google Scholar

Lehmann, Reinhard G.2005. Dynastensarkophage mit szenischen Reliefs aus Byblos und Zypern: Teil 1.2: Die Inschrift(en) des Ahirom-Sarkophags und die Schachtinschrift des Grabes V in Jbeil (Byblos), Forschungen zur phönizisch-punischen und zyprischen Plastik. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern.Search in Google Scholar

Lehmann, Reinhard G.2008. “Calligraphy and Craftsmanship in the Aḥīrōm.” Maarav15: 11964.Search in Google Scholar

Lemaire, André. 1977. Inscriptions hébraïques. Littératures anciennes du Proche-Orient, 9. Tome I: Les Ostraca. Paris: Cerf.Search in Google Scholar

Lemaire, André. 1990. SMR dans la petite inscription de Kilamuwa (Zencirli). Syria67: 32327.10.3406/syria.1990.7159Search in Google Scholar

Lemaire, André. 1998. Formules de datation en Palestine au premier millénaire avan J.-C. Pp. 53–82 in Proche-Orient ancien: temps vécu, temps pensé, eds. F.Briquel-Chatonnet and H.Lozachmeur. Paris: Jean Maisonneuve.Search in Google Scholar

Lemaire, André. 2007. The Mesha Stele and the Omri Dynasty. Pp. 135–44 in Ahab Agonistes: The Rise and Fall of the Omri Dynasty, ed. L. L.Grabbe. London: T&T Clark.Search in Google Scholar

Lewis, Theodore J.1989. Cults of the Dead in Ancient Israel and Ugarit. HSM 39. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press.10.1163/9789004387188Search in Google Scholar

Lipiński, E.2000. The Arameans: Their Ancient History, Culture, Religion. OLA. Sterling, VA: Peeters.Search in Google Scholar

Liverani, Mario.1973. Memorandum on the Approach to Historiographic Texts. Or42: 17894.Search in Google Scholar

Lundberg, Marilyn J.2004. Editor’s Notes: The Aḥiram Inscription. Maarav11: 8193.Search in Google Scholar

Markoe, Glenn.2000. Phoenicians. Peoples of the Past. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Search in Google Scholar

Martin, Malachi.1961. A Preliminary Report after Re-Examination of the Byblian Inscriptions. Or30: 4678.Search in Google Scholar

Michalowski, Piotr.1983. History as Charter: Some Observations on the Sumerian King List. JAOS103: 23748.10.2307/601880Search in Google Scholar

Miller, J. Maxwell.1974. The Moabite Stone as a Memorial Stela. PEQ106: 918.10.1179/peq.1974.106.1.9Search in Google Scholar

Miller, J. M.1989. Moab and the Moabites. Pp. 1–40 in Studies in the Mesha Inscription and Moab, ed. J. A.Dearman. Archaeology and Biblical Studies, 2. Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press.10.2307/1519245Search in Google Scholar

Moscati, Sabatino.1968. The World of the Phoenicians. Praeger History of Civilization. New York: Praeger.Search in Google Scholar

Na’aman, Nadav. 2000. Three Notes on the Aramaic Inscription from Tel Dan. IEJ50: 92104.Search in Google Scholar

Na’aman, Nadav. 2007. Royal Inscription Versus Prophetic Story: Mesha’s Rebellion According to Biblical and Moabite Historiography. Pp. 145–83 in Ahab Agonistes: The Rise and Fall of the Omri Dynasty, ed. L. L.Grabbe. London: T&T Clark.Search in Google Scholar

Nam, Roger.2012. Power Relations in the Samaria Ostraca. PEQ144: 15563.10.1179/0031032812Z.00000000015Search in Google Scholar

Niehr, Herbert.2010. Religion in den Königreichen der Aramäer Syriens. Pp. 189324 in Religionen in der Umwelt des Alten Testaments II: Phönizier, Punier, Aramäer. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer.Search in Google Scholar

Niehr, Herbert.2011. König Hazael von Damaskus im Licht neuer Funde und Interpretationen. Pp. 33956 in “Ich werde meinen Bund mit euch niemals brechen!” (Ri 2,1): Festschrift für Walter Gross zum 70. Geburtstag, eds. ErasmusGass and H.-J.Stipp. Herders Biblische Studien, 62. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder.Search in Google Scholar

Niemann, Hermann M.2008. A New Look at the Samaria Ostraca: The King-Clan Relationship. TA35: 24966.10.1179/tav.2008.2008.2.249Search in Google Scholar

O’Connor, Michael. 1977. The Rhetoric of the Kilamuwa Inscription. BASOR226: 1529.10.2307/1356572Search in Google Scholar

Obermann, Julian.1948. Votive Inscriptions from Ras Shamra. JAOS61: 3145.10.2307/594342Search in Google Scholar

Parker, Simon B.1999. The Composition and Sources of Some Northwest Semitic Royal Inscriptions. SEL16: 4962.Search in Google Scholar

Parker, Simon B.2000. Did the Authors of the Books of Kings Make Use of Royal Inscriptions?VT50: 35778.10.1163/156853300506422Search in Google Scholar

Payne, Annick.2012. Iron Age Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions, Writings from the Ancient World. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.10.2307/j.ctt32bz1wSearch in Google Scholar

Porada, Edith.1973. Notes on the Sarcophagus of Ahiram. JANES5: 35472.Search in Google Scholar

Rainey, Anson F.1979. The Sitz Im Leben of the Samaria Ostraca. TA6: 9194.10.1179/033443579791130452Search in Google Scholar

Rehm, Ellen.2004. Dynastensarkophage mit szenischen Reliefs aus Byblos und Zypern: Dynastensarkophage: Teil 1.1. Forschungen zur phönizisch-punischen und zyprischen Plastik. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern.Search in Google Scholar

Reisner, George Andrew, Clarence StanleyFisher, and David G.Lyon.1924. Harvard Excavations at Samaria, 1908–1910. Harvard Semitic Series. Vol. 1. Text. Cambridge: Harvard University.10.1163/9789004385504Search in Google Scholar

Ricoeur, Paul.1980. Narrative Time. Critical Inquiry7: 16990.10.1086/448093Search in Google Scholar

Ricoeur, Paul.1984. Time and Narrative. 3 Vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Search in Google Scholar

Ricoeur, Paul.2004. Memory, History, Forgetting. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.10.7208/chicago/9780226713465.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Röllig, Wolfram. 1999. The Phoenician Inscriptions. Pp. 5081 in Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions, ed. H.Çambel, Studies in Indo-European Language and Culture. Vol. I (Karatepe–Aslantaş). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Search in Google Scholar

Rollston, Christopher A.2008. The Dating of the Early Royal Byblian Phoenician Inscriptions: A Response to Benjamin Sass. Maarav15: 5793.Search in Google Scholar

Rollston, Christopher A.2010. Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel: Epigraphic Evidence from the Iron Age. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature.Search in Google Scholar

Routledge, Bruce E.2004. Moab in the Iron Age: Hegemony, Polity, Archaeology. Archaeology, Culture, and Society. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.Search in Google Scholar

Sanders, Seth L.2008. Writing and Early Iron Age Israel: Before National Scripts, Beyond Nations and States. Pp. 97112 in Literate Culture and Tenth-Century Canaan: The Tel Zayit Abecedary in Context, eds. R. E.Tappy and P. K.McCarter. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.Search in Google Scholar

Schade, Aaron.2006. The Syntax and Literary Structure of the Phoenician Inscription of Yehimilk. Maarav12: 12124.Search in Google Scholar

Schloen, J. David.2001. The House of the Father as Fact and Symbol: Patrimonialism in Ugarit and the Ancient near East. Studies in the Archaeology and History of the Levant, 2. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.10.1163/9789004369849Search in Google Scholar

Schmitz, Philip C.2013. The Phoenician Words MŠKB and ‘RR in the Royal Inscriptions of Kulamuwa (KAI 24:14–15) and the Body Language of Peripheral Politics. Pp. 6883 in Linguistics Studies in Phoenician in Memory of J. Brian Peckham, eds. R. D.Holmstedt and A.Schade. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.10.5325/j.ctv1bxgz3w.9Search in Google Scholar

Suriano, Matthew J.2007a. A Fresh Reading for ‘Aged Wine’ in the Samaria Ostraca. PEQ139: 2733.10.1179/003103207x162997Search in Google Scholar

Suriano, Matthew J.2007b. The Apology of Hazael: A Literary and Historical Analysis of the Tel Dan Inscription. JNES66: 16376.10.1086/521754Search in Google Scholar

Suriano, Matthew J.2010. The Politics of Dead Kings: Dynastic Ancestors in the Book of Kings and Ancient Israel. FAT II, 48. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.10.1628/978-3-16-151146-2Search in Google Scholar

Suriano, M. J.2009. Dynasty Building at Ugarit: The Ritual and Political Context of KTU 1.161. Aula orientalis27: 10523.Search in Google Scholar

Tadmor, Hayim.1979. The Chronology of the First Temple Period. Pp. 4460, 318–20 in The World History of the Jewish People, ed. A.Malamat. Jerusalem: Massada.Search in Google Scholar

Tappy, Ron E.2001. The Archaeology of Israelite Samaria, Volume II: The Eighth Century BCE. HSS, 50. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press.10.1163/9789004369962Search in Google Scholar

Tropper, Josef.1993. Die Inschriften Von Zincirli. Münster: UGARIT-Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Van Seters, John.1983. In Search of History: Historiography in the Ancient World and the Origins of Biblical History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Vance, Donald R.1994. Literary Sources for the History of Palestine and Syria: The Phoenician Inscriptions. BA57: 219.10.2307/3210392Search in Google Scholar

White, Hayden V.1973. Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Younger, K. Lawson.1990. Ancient Conquest Accounts: A Study in Ancient near Eastern and Biblical History Writing, JSOTSupp, 98. Sheffield: JSOT Press.Search in Google Scholar

Zernecke, Anna.2013. The Lady of Titles: The Lady of Byblos and the Search for “True Name”. WdO43: 22642.10.13109/wdor.2013.43.2.226Search in Google Scholar


Note:

This article was produced through the generous support of several institutions. I would like to thank the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies and the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland for making possible my sabbatical in the spring of 2014. The Department of Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University generously provided me with fellow-by-courtesy status, allowing me to conduct research at their facilities during my sabbatical. Although I alone am responsible for the contents within, the article benefited from the comments of Benjamin Suriano, Kyle Keimer, Jacqueline Vayntrub, Chris McKinny, and an anonymous reviewer. The study is dedicated to my friend and mentor William Schniedewind.


Published Online: 2014-10-16
Published in Print: 2014-11-28

©2014 by De Gruyter

Downloaded on 25.2.2024 from https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/janeh-2014-0003/pdf
Scroll to top button