Battle of Qarqar – 853 BC Rules of Evidence Part 2


Writer's Journal PhotoThis article was originally published many years ago on the old website as one of four articles in relation to applying Law Court Rules of Evidence to the archaeological and historical claims in relation to the history of Ancient Israel. Part 1 has already been republished on this new site. Part 3 has not yet been transferred to this new site.

Legally Acceptable Evidence regarding The Battle of Qarqar
Legal Issues related to Chapter Seven of the King’s Calendar
This article Continues on from Part 1


The intention of this article is to continue to offer a Polemical rebuttal of Academic methodology in reconstructing the history of Israel, specifically in relation to the Presence of King Ahab of Israel at ‘The Battle of Qarqar’ in 853 BC. (Please note that the Historical and Legal Bibliographies are at the end of the article.)

Last week’s article concluded that while there are two ‘Direct Documentary Evidences’ used to support the Academic contention that King Ahab fought at the Battle of Qarqar, in fact, their testimonies conflict with each other in that one completely omits the ‘fact in issue.’ Additionally, we saw that even if they agreed, they could not legally be considered ‘corroborative’ evidence, as corroborative evidence must be independent evidence.

Furthermore, it was demonstrated that the testimony of ‘expert witnesses’ does not qualify as either independent or unquestionably impartial.

In fact, no legally satisfactory evidence has been provided to justify the assertion that Ahab was at the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC.

Today, we will continue to look at the evidence from the perspective of ‘legally acceptable evidence.’

A. The Witnesses – Documentary Evidence.

There are only five (5) sources that qualify as legally valid witnesses to the historical event known as the Battle of Qarqar. They are:

i) The Witness of the biblical Narrative
ii) The Witness of the Syrian Documents
iii) The Witness of the Stele of Mesha
iv) The Witness of the Kurkh Stele and Throne base Inscription
v) The Testimony of the Expert Witness of Archaeology.

i) The Witness of the biblical Narrative

a) Direct Evidence

The bible does not provide any information at all regarding Ahab’s involvement in the coalition against Shalmaneser III. (Rule 602. Lack of Personal Knowledge)

That the Bible does not remark on this event, would normally disqualify it from giving evidence. However it does provide circumstantial evidence.

Circumstantial Evidence is evidence of facts which are not in issue, from which a fact in issue may be inferred. (Bates, 1985, p.2)

We could discuss the Bible’s silence about this event from several perspectives, but from a legal perspective, the only thing that counts, is that the documentary evidence it provides, does not support the accusation made.

Legally this is a neutral event equivalent to “sorry your honour, I can offer no testimony, or information that speaks directly to the issue of the Battle of Qarqar itself.”

Using this lack of testimony to their advantage, historians make a presumption (attempting to prove a point without evidence), that this silence results from a deliberate tampering with the evidence; that the redactors deliberately omitted the details of this event.

This allegation is made without any direct, circumstantial or corroborative evidence indicating that the accusation is true. It has no foundation or support in law, and is unacceptable in a court of Law. “He who accuses, must prove” their allegation.

The allegation is made based upon a presumption that despite its demonstrable inaccuracies, and failure to find corroboration in any other evidence, the Kurkh Stele of Shalmaneser III is a reliable witness and ought to be accepted as authentic and reliable.

But one cannot argue from silence. This argument is fallacious and completely unacceptable in a court of law. While it is always possible that the lack of any biblical record indeed indicates that the redactors chose not to include it, it is equally true and possible that the failure to include this event indicates that there was no such event to record during Ahab’s lifetime.

While no expert can legally prove that the record of Ahab’s actual involvement is definitely true and accurate, given what is known of the inaccuracies in these Assyrian records, it can be legally proved that there is reasonable doubt as to the probable reliability of the Kurkh Stele’s identification of Ahab.

b) Circumstantial Evidence

The biblical narrative is direct archaeological documentary evidence, and while it may not provide ‘Direct Evidence’ for or against Ahab’s participation at Qarqar, it does however provide ‘Circumstantial Evidence’ against it.

The Kurkh Stele identifies Ahab at the battle of Qarqar in 853 BC and The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser identifies Jehu as the King in Israel who paid tribute to him in 841 BC.

Between these two events 12 years transpire, however the biblical chronologies indicate quite clearly that between the death of Ahab and the succession of Jehu, 14 solar years elapse. (Actually Jehu ascended in 849 BC – so that there were only 4 years in which to fit the 14 years mentioned. This is a matter for a different article).

If Jehu ascended in 842-41 BC, as most academics commonly state (albeit unsubstantiated), then Ahab must have died in 856-55 BC, two to three years prior to the battle of Qarqar.

The Bible therefore can be seen to offer ‘circumstantial’ evidence to discredit the claim of the Kurkh Stele of Shalmaneser that Ahab was at the battle in 853 BC.

ii) The Witness of the Syrian Documents

There are no extant documents other than the Assyrian which provide any details of the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC.

If one of three nations leaves contradictory, erroneous and uncorroborated records of events involving those three nations, and there is no reference to such events recorded in the annals and histories of those nations, then then is no legal reason to accept the only record (alleged documentary evidence) of the event. (See Rule 806. Attacking and Supporting Credibility of declarant The credibility of the Kurkh Stela may be attacked in the same way as if it were a personal witness in the courtroom.

Historians, commencing with the illogical assumption that the Kurkh Stele is (despite errors of fact) dependable, presume that the absence of Syrian records, that is to say, that the absence of evidence does not negate the validity of their assertion. They are of course entitled to their opinion.

However in law there is a little thing called ‘precedence,’ and in relation to the claims of one Hormuzd Rassam concerning ‘Balawat,’ academic precedence required that when there is an absence of evidence to support an assertion, the assertion must be rejected.

In all fairness however it must be pointed out that he was ultimately justified. British Museum. (1970) Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities: Assyrian Palace Reliefs p. 16

In effect, academics demand the right to ‘have their cake and eat it too!

In a court of law, he who accuses must offer the proof of the validity of the accusation, beyond what a reasonable person might doubt.

If the witness of the Syrian record is silent, offering no proof or evidence, academics ought also to be silent. Whatever evidence or proof is introduced in evidence, it must be ‘substantial, real, and concrete.’ It must never take substance from silence.

iii) The Witness of the Stele of Mesha

There is no direct evidence provided by this witness to substantiate the claims of the Kurkh Stele of Shalmaneser that Ahab was at the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC. However, it does provide ‘Circumstantial evidence’ that Ahab could not have been at the Battle of Qarqar.

This Stele, known also as the Moabite Stone, appears to claim that up until halfway through Ahab’s reign, the Omride dynasty had exercised dominion over the land of Medeba (Moab). (Miller & Hayes, 1986, p. 283)

The direct evidence available to us concerning the validity of Mesha’s claim, and his rebellion from Israel’s sovereignty is to be found in the Book of King’s [2 Kings 1:1 & 3:4-27].

a) The Direct Documentary Evidence of Mesha’s Stele states that:

Omri Occupied Medeba

Omri and his son ruled over it 40 years. (It does not say Omri and Ahab, but Omri and his Son.)

That rule ended halfway through the reign of Omri’s son.

b) The Direct Documentary Evidence of the Book of Kings states that:

After the Death of Ahab, Moab rebelled against Israel.2 Kings 1:1

When Ahab died, the King of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. So King Jehoram marched out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel. 2 Kings 3:4-27

We note Two important points here:

1. Mesha’s Stele maintains that the rebellion occurred midway through Omri’s Son’s reign.

2. In contradiction, the Book of King’s maintains that the rebellion occurred during Omri’s Grandson’s reign.

The prima facie evidence suggests contradiction between the two accounts.

However, when one examines the issue from the perspective of an already established Academic fact and precedence [See Bright, 1981, p.248, footnote 56], that the term ‘Son of’ frequently means ‘descendant of,’ we can see that Mesha’s reference to Omri’s son, refers not to Ahab, but to Omri’s grandson Jehoram.

These two accounts therefore corroborate each other.

The ‘King’s Calendar’ indicates that Omri commenced to reign in November of 894 BC (effectively 893 BC). If we apply the details from the biblical Narrative and the Moabite Stone to this date, the following picture emerges.

i) Omri’s reign commences November 894 BC

ii) Israel has suzerainty over Moab 40 (solar) years (893 – 853 BC)

iii) Omri and his son Ahab reign 31 solar years (894 to 863 BC)

iv) Mesha’s rebellion occurs in 854 BC Nine (9) solar years after Ahab’s death.

v) This is the year before the Battle of Qarqar if the 40 years is ‘exact/literal’

vi) If the 40 years is an approximate, then the event may have occurred after the Battle of Qarqar.

vii) 2 Kings 3:4-27 implicitly involves Jehoshaphat and Jehoram, therefore Mesha’s first rebellion can have occurred no earlier or later than 862 BC and 857 BC respectively (Jehoram’s First year and Jehoshaphat’s death), which is between four (4) and nine (9) years earlier than Qarqar.

viii) In 849/48 BC, four (4) years after the battle of Qarqar, the House of Omri and Ahab perished (in both Judah and Israel). With the deaths of Ahaziah of Judah and Jehoram of Israel, Israel (Omri’s house) perished forever.

Not only do these two documentary evidences corroborate each other, but they demonstrate that Ahab had been dead a decade prior to the Battle of Qarqar.

Therefore, the Moabite Stone and the Bible both act as witnesses providing circumstantial evidence contradicting the testimony of the Kurkh Stele of Shalmaneser.

[As Dixon. J. put it in the case of Martin v Osborne (1936) 55 CLR 367 at 375: “If an issue is to be proved by circumstantial evidence, facts subsidiary to or connected with the main fact must be established from which the conclusion follows as a rational inference.”‘ (Bates, 1985, p.2)]

iv) The Witness of the Kurkh Stele and Throne Base Inscription

Already discussed in Part 1, we have already seen that these two direct documentary evidences do not corroborate. Furthermore, there is every reason to be suspicious of them.

v) The Expert Witness Testimony of Archaeology

Academic reliance upon the Kurkh Stele of Shalmaneser III has as its foundation an inherent distrust of the Bible. Finding support in the biblical records only as a last resort, academics commence their chronological reconstructions for this time period with a presumption that the Bible is a ‘non-historical’ document, and does not constitute ‘evidence’ within the legal definition of the word.

They automatically and without question accept the Kurkh Stele’s assertion of Ahab’s presence, while rejecting the Kurkh Stele’s assertions with regard to the size of Ahab’s army; and realising that Jehu must be on the throne of Israel by 841 BC, they kill Ahab off very quickly after the Battle of Qarqar, thus leaving biblical Chronology in a shambles.

This methodology is not only an unsound and an unscientific approach to evidence gathering and examination, but derives from unsubstantiated bias. The direct documentary evidence of the biblical narrative is rejected in favour of ‘one’ and only one piece of ‘admittedly dubious’ evidence that places Ahab at Qarqar.

Academics promote the claims of the Kurkh Stele despite the following academic objections to it:

a) Shalmaneser’s boast was without foundation – It was pure propaganda. (Ahlstrom, 1993, p.579)

b) There is no mention of Tribute being paid – justifying the belief that Shalmaneser did not obtain victory

c) Shalmaneser did not return for four years – indicating a lack of victory and possible severe losses

d) Shalmaneser credits Ahab the Israelite ‘with a larger chariot force than all of his allies combined, and even more than Shalmaneser himself claims to have deployed.’ (Miller & Hayes, 1986,p.270)

e) Despite Ahab’s superior force, Israel was but a satellite state of Aram Damascus (Ahlstrom, 1993, p.576)

f) Despite Ahab’s superior force and prominent position, he is not mentioned in the throne base inscription

g) Judah and Edom did not participate in the Battle because they were farther removed from the Assyrian threat (Miller & Hayes, 1986, p.270). How much farther is Judah from Israel?


The only evidence to place Ahab at Qarqar comes from the Kurkh Stele. This Stele finds no support in the Syrian record, it is repudiated by the biblical narrative and Moabite Stone, and finds no corroboration in the Throne Base Inscription. Furthermore, the expert testimony of archaeologists and historians is that most of the information contained in the Stele is fabricated.

The King’s Calendar which provides precise chronological information for the Kings of Israel and Judah during this time period, is not an opinion (an inference drawn from facts), nor a presumption (an attempt to prove without evidence).

The King’s Calendar is direct, documentary, mathematical evidence, that the chronological data in the biblical narrative is encoded, reliable and reasonably accurate. As such, it is highly susceptible to falsification (disproof). This means that it can be tested to see if it is True or False.

In Part 3. we are going to look at the circumstancial evidence provided in the Bible. For Instance:

If Jehoshaphat commenced reigning in the 4th year of Ahab and Ahab reigned 22 years, then Ahab died in the 18th year of Jehoshaphat

If Ahaziah of Judah was slain in 842 BC (as academics Claim) after one year of reign, and Ahaziah’s father Jehoram reigned 8 years prior to that, then the 18th year of Jehoshaphat’s 25 year reign was in 856/857 BC. So Ahab died before the Battle of Qarqar

Part 1 on this new site.
Part 3. on the old site.
Israelite History 8th Century.

The KingsCalendar The Secret of QumranR.P. BenDedek
Articles at

Author of
The King’s Calendar : The Secret of Qumran
“Finding Myself in China: A Politically Incorrect Story”

Legal Bibliography

Bates.F. (1985) Principles of Evidence. 3rd Edition. Sydney The Law Book Company Limited.

Freckelton. I.R. (1987) The Trial of the Expert. A Study of Expert Evidence and Forensic Experts. Melbourne.Aust.Oxford University Press.

Ligertwood. A.L.C. (1988) Australian Evidence. First Edition. Butterworths P/l. North Ryde

Vinson.D.E. (1985) How to Persuade Jurors. American Bar Association Journal 72, 76

Gobbo. J.A., Byrne. D., Heydon J.D. (1979) Cross on Evidence 2nd Edition. Sydney. Aust. Butterworths Pty.Ltd.

Vinson.D.E. (1985) How to Persuade Jurors. American Bar Association Journal 72, 76

Legal Information Institute : Federal Rules of Evidence


Ahlstrom.G.W. (1993) The History of Ancient Palestine. USA Minneapolis. Fortress Press.

Aharoni.Y. (1966) The Land of the Bible (2nd Edn) London. Burns

Bright. J. (1981) A History of Israel. 3rd Ed. Philadelphia. Westminster Press.

Miller,J.M., Hayes,J.M. (1986) A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. USA. Westminster Press.

Na’aman.M. (1976) Two notes on the Monolithic Inscription of Shalmaneser III from Kurkh. Tel Aviv 3. pp89-106)

Bright. J.(1981) A History of Israel (3rd Edn) Philadelphia. Westminster Press. p 243.[/list]

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