Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Nebuchednezzar II makes a very poor “Nebuchadnezzar” of the Book of Judith

Image result for assyrians armies




Damien F. Mackey





A correspondent would favour the great Chaldean king, Nebuchednezzar II,

as the “King Nebuchadnezzar … ruling over the Assyrians from his capital city

of Nineveh” of the Book of Judith.







That correspondent has written:




As far as the Book of Tobit is concerned I note that Shalmaneser V did not die after the siege ended but it was he that led away the last of the Northern Tribes into captivity.


Some of his incidents occur during the reign of Sennacherib. That gem led me to my study of The Book of Judith and its historicity linked to the early years of Nebuchadnezzar.


Your thoughts on MB [Merodach-Baladan] 1st being MB of Sargon and Sennacherib had also occurred to me but I think I mention it just in passing. ….


What is the story of the army of 182,000 (+) that was defeated? What are your references, please?



Mackey replies:




Judith 7:2 (NSRA): "So all their warriors marched off that day; their fighting forces numbered one hundred seventy thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry, not counting the baggage and the foot soldiers handling it, a very great multitude".


Even I, with my bad mathematics, can determine that 170,000 + 12,000 = 182,000, just 3,000 short of Sennacherib's host of 185,000.

But then add "the foot soldiers handling [the baggage]".

How often does an Assyrian king have an army of 182,000 plus men defeated?


You reckon Nebuchednezzar II fielded armies this big?

He certainly did not suffer any defeats in northern Israel (near Dothan)?

He never suffered annihilations, in fact. In my opinion, Nebuchednezzar would be the worst choice amongst the various candidates for the king in Judith as served up by scholars.


Dr. Stephanie Dalley has shown how the ancients regularly confused Sennacherib and Nebuchednezzar, Nineveh and Babylon, and has explained, in her book,

The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon that the famous gardens were actually in Nineveh, not Babylon. ….



To which the correspondent replied:



Early on I lost faith in ALTER EGOS and determined that in most instances the guy named was the guy meant.


So when JUDITH says it was Nebchadnezzar that sent Holofornes towards Judah then I trust the scribe.


Also my trust in prophetic numbers is zero. 


The numbers I trust are from JOSEPHUS. When he says that Ahmose drove out the Hyksos 393 years before Setnakht drove out the invaders of Egypt then I know the dates will be correct.


The fact that no one can identify those invaders is an interesting fact. 


I trust the totals Josephus gains by listing the Biblical Kings. They add up correctly but the length is wrong because of co regencies.


Africanus gives us dynasty lengths by using the word, "altogether" When those numbers are used the dynasties mesh. So I trust these numbers also.


The Book of Judith dates Nebuchadnezzar's actions from two different starting dates.


One is when Nabopolassar made him king of Assyria in 612 BC and the other point is from his accession after Nab's death in 604 BC.


One can send one's self silly trying to make sense of most numbers in the Bible where prophecies are involved.


Josephus says that the Hyksos ruled Egypt for 511 years and that Israel was in bondage for 430 years till the Temple was started, IIRC.


BOTH THOSE NUMBERS MUST BE PADDED because Josephus just adds his internals with no recourse to overlaps.


SO, I implore you to be very careful of reliance on numbers unless those numbers have historic credibility. ….



Mackey replies:



All of the versions of the Book of Judith have the king of Nineveh campaigning in the east in his 12th year.


Although I am not good at mathematics, am no accountant, I must take that as intending only the one, not two, starting points.


This is a lead-up to the main drama of the book, the great western campaign, whose motivation was revenge upon the nations that had not assisted the king in his 12th year.


That second campaign will take place only after a period of time has elapsed wherein the king of Nineveh will manage finally to destroy the eastern king's city.  


Sargon II (my Sennacherib) is duly found to be campaigning in the east in his 12th year.


Now, in the life of Nebuchednezzar II, we find him in his 12th year (c. 593 BC, conventional dating) campaigning in the west - the exact opposite to the Book of Judith.


("Nebuchednezzar II", Wikipedia)

"In 594/3 BC, the army was sent again to the west, possibly in reaction to the elevation of Psammetichus II to the throne of Egypt.[9] King Zedekiah of Judah attempted to organize opposition among the small states in the region but his capital, Jerusalem, was taken in 587 BC (the events are described in the Bible's Books of Kings and Book of Jeremiah).[10]


This king never suffered anything like a massive defeat at the hands of Israel at any time in his reign, including within the range of the Book of Judith, after the king's 12th year.


How did he manage to go on and take Phoenicia, and lay siege to Tyre for 13 years, and conquer Egypt, if his army had by now been absolutely decimated?


I repeat, Nebuchednezzar II is about the least likely king of all to have suffered a massive defeat of his army in northern Israel. ….





For more, see also my article:


Book of Judith: confusion of names