September 19, 2017

Digging Into The Past

By Ferrell Jenkins

Jehu came to the throne of Israel as a fast driving, zealous patriot, and not unlike many politicians of today. He destroyed Baal worship, which had been introduced by Ahab, but departed not from the golden calves of Jeroboam which were in Dan and Bethel (2 Kings 9-10). The Assyrians were the supreme political and military power during Jehu's reign (ca. 841-814 B.C.). Shalmaneser III, who defeated a coalition of kings including Ahab at the battle of Qarqar, also claims to have taken tribute from Hazael of Damascus and Jehu, son (descendant) of Omri.

In 1846, A.H. Layard discovered a pillar, which generally has been called the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, in the king's palace at Nimrod. Finegan describes the obelisk as "a four-sided pillar of black limestone six and one-half feet in height with five rows of roughly executed bas-reliefs extending around it and with texts between and below them" (Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past, p. 205). The' obelisk depicts Jehu bowing in humility and paying tribute to Shalmaneser III. This payment took place about 841 B.C. Parrot points out that this monument is extremely important for biblical archaeology and is "the only example of a secular monument on which is depicted a historical personage from the Old Testament, whether Israelite or Judaean" (Parrot, Nineveh and the Old Testament, p. 36). Jehu is wearing the western Semitic dress--"a low turban and long over-garment" (Barnett, Illustrations of Old Testament History, p. 48).

Panel from the "Black Obelisk" showing Jehu doing homage to Shalmaneser III.

Courtesy of British Museum.

Above the scene showing Jehu paying tribute the following, in Assyrian cuneiform, is inscribed:

The tribute of Jehu son of Omri.- I received from him silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden vase with a pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, fin, a staff for a king and wooden puruhtu (Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 281).

Picture at Dog River

In one of his Annals, Shalmaneser III also tells about the tribute received from Jehu:

... I (also) marched as far as the mountains of Bali-ra'si which is a promontory (lit.: at the side of the sea) and erected there a stela with my image as king. At that time I received the tribute of the inhabitants of Tyre, Sidon, and of Jehu, son of Omri (Ibid, p. 280).

The place mentioned by the Assyrian monarch is a cliff at the mouth, of Nahr el Kelb (Dog River) about nine and one-half miles north of Beirut, Lebanon. Many rulers of antiquity, including Ramses II of Egypt, Esarhaddon, and Shalmaneser III of Assyria, and Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon, left inscriptions of images on the cliffs at Dog River. The inscriptions of Ramses, Esarhaddon, and Nebuchadnezzar can be identified with certainty. It is generally held that the Assyrian king pictured beside the rectangular table inscription of Ramses II is Shalmaneser III.

I find this most interesting. As one reads the Bible he gets the impression of the growing Assyrian menace to Israelite peace. Now we can see how real this threat really was. On the Black Obelisk, Shalmaneser tells of the tribute received from Jehu. In his Annals he says that he received the tribute at the time he left his image at Dog River. And the image is there!

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 6, pp. 6-7
December 10, 1970