The Law, Rules of Evidence & Archaeology Part 4 continues on from where Rules of Evidence Part 3 left off in relation to Legal Issues related to “The Battle of Qarqar – 853 BC” – and – Includes Issues related to Kings Calendar Chapter Nine : 883 BC. to 756 BC. The Ancient Near East. See also:
The intention of this article is to offer a Polemical rebuttal of academic methodology in reconstructing the history of Israel.
Currently Historians insist that King Ahab of Israel was at the Battle of Qarqar which occurred in 853 BC. In Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series it was demonstrated that the direct evidence that they offer is (legally) unacceptable direct evidence, and that the circumstantial evidence rebuts the claim that Ahab was at the Battle. The ‘King’s Calendar’ chronology for Ancient Israel insists that Ahab died in 863 BC, a decade prior to the Battle of Qarqar (853 BC).
In this article we will discuss the issues pertinent to the current academic perception of events in Israel and Syria during this particular century, and will commence where Part 3 left off, with the deaths of Jehoram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah.
When did Jehoram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah die?
According to the chronology of the King’s Calendar, whose chronological reconstruction is calculated backward in time from the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, Jehoram and Ahaziah commenced their respective final years, (in both Artificial and Solar calendars), in Nisan of 849 BC.
Since the purpose of this chapter is not to justify the King’s Calendar chronology [in a court of Law the two sides do not argue at the same time], but to offer rebuttal to current academic opinion [referred to here as ‘The State of Opinion’], no argument is offered as to why the King’s Calendar date for Jehoram and Jehu should be accepted. [The chronology can be visually appreciated by going to Appendix 5 and comparing its’ presentation with the references provided in Appendix 13]
The following chart provides visualization of the reigns of the Kings of Israel and Judah, so that you can appreciate the King’s Calendar perspective.
From this chronological position it can be seen that Ahab was not at the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC. More importantly, acceptance of the King’s Calendar chronology as it pertains to Israel and Judah would require a change in the current academic position in relation to events in Syria.
According to Josephus [Antiquities 9:6:1] Hazael of Syria came to the throne prior to Jehoram’s death. [Bright, 1981, p.254 – places Hazael c. 842 BC – 806 BC]
Since the King’s Calendar puts Jehoram’s death at 849 BC., current academic opinion that Hazael of Syria commenced to reign around 842/841 BC. can be seen to be incorrect. (Be aware that there is absolutely no archaeological or historical evidence to support current academic opinion.)
There are three important reasons for putting Hazael on the throne around 842/841 BC.
The first is that it ‘reasonably’ allows Ahab to be at the Battle of Qarqar, ‘if he died immediately thereafter’ (so that Jehoram could rule and die before Hazael came to the throne of Syria).
The second reason is that the first documentary evidence of his reign is dated to this period. It is known that Hazael withstood Shalmaneser’s siege of Damascus in 841 BC. (Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1972, Vol 7, p.1516).
This, as Professor D.J. Wiseman of the British Academy put in writing to me many years ago, does not constitute proof that this was when Hazael commenced his reign.
(I can’t in this article prove that Prof. Wiseman wrote anything to me at all. Nevertheless, the actual document can be produced. It is in safe keeping in Australia. In this is an important lesson. Just because you can’t prove something right now, does not mean that it cannot be proved at all.)
The third reason relates to two subsequent battles (848 BC & 845 BC) to the Battle of Qarqar (853 BC), for which there is ‘evidence’ that Ben-Hadad II was still the ruler of Syria, for he is mentioned in the Assyrian records. Therefore Hazael could not have commenced earlier than 844 BC.
So what are the facts?
No. 1 The first ‘fact’ of which to be aware is that traditional chronologies for Ahab, Ben-Hadad II and Hazael have all depended on the Kurkh Stele and the dating for the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC., and the Biblical Narratives together with the Moabite Stone and other circumstantial evidence, discredits the ‘opinion‘ that Ahab was at the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC and that he died soon thereafter.
No. 2 The second ‘assertion‘ here is that Ben-Hadad II, according to Josephus, was replaced by Hazael prior to Jehoram’s death, which is established by the King’s Calendar at 849 BC. (For apologetics relating to the reliability of Josephus’ chronologies, GO TO Josephus, Ancient History and Biblical Contradictions See also Appendix 12 on the Precis Page)
Whilst modern academia may not put much credence in Josephus, the reality is that he had available to him documents no longer available to us and it cannot be stated that current knowledge of events from that period must be more accurate.
Cornfeld (1982) in his introduction to the Jewish Wars, makes this statement:
‘Despite all discrepancies, ambiguities, contradictions and plain mistakes, the fact remains that Josephus was a highly reliable witness, not only with respect to events in Palestine and Jerusalem of his own time, but also, though to a somewhat lesser extent, with regard to earlier times, for which he depended on available traditional sources. In sum, despite ambiguities and exaggerations, his is the most comprehensive surviving account in existence…’
No. 3 Direct Documentary evidence has been provided to indicate that Ben-Hadad II of Syria was still on the throne of Syria as late as 845 BC. However, that documentary evidence is provided by the exact same ‘witness’ that provided discredited evidence in the matter of Ahab’s presence at the Battle of Qarqar.
The same witness (Shalmaneser III) who provided the documentary evidence to prove that Ben-Hadad II of Syria was present in two battles in 848 BC and 845 BC, has already been proven to have been either ‘false’ or ‘inaccurate’ in his documentary identification of another king.
(Rule 106. Remainder of or Related Writings or Recorded Statements Abbreviated: When a writing is introduced an adverse party may require the introduction of any other writing which ought in fairness to be considered contemporaneously with it.)
This then goes to a legal matter involving the ‘character of witnesses.’
It is the right of the prosecution and defense to call into question the character of a witness. Since the evidence provided by the witness of Shalmaneser’s Kurkh Stele has been shown to at best be ‘erroneous‘ and at worse ‘fabricated,’ it is justifiable to question the ‘competency‘ of this witness (Shalmaneser) in providing testimony on a related matter.
Rule 405. Methods of Proving Character : (a) Reputation or opinion : In all cases in which evidence of character or a trait of character of a person is admissible, proof may be made by testimony as to reputation or by testimony in the form of an opinion. On cross-examination, inquiry is allowable into relevant specific instances of conduct. – (b) Specific instances of conduct : In cases in which character or a trait of character of a person is an essential element of a charge, claim, or defense, proof may also be made of specific instances of that person’s conduct : NOTES TO RULE 405 : Of the three methods of proving character provided by the rule, evidence of specific instances of conduct is the most convincing.
The records of Shalmaneser cannot with any degree of confidence, be accepted as reliable. Furthermore the records of other Assyrian rulers are just as suspect.
Having established that the Kurkh Stele misidentified Ahab as the king involved at the Battle of Qarqar and in view of the fact that both Josephus and the King’s Calendar contest the basic premise that Ben-Hadad II was king of Syria during the period of Shalmaneser’s later attacks, it is worth looking wider afield to see just how accurate Assyrian record keeping was.
When we look into the accuracy of Assyrian record keeping, we note for instance that when a particular king is mentioned by name, the reference need not be legitimate.
(Refer to discussion on erroneous identification of Tubail of Tyre, in records of tribute to Tiglath-Pileser III. – Miller & Hayes 1986, p.332. They point out that with regard to the tribute paid by Menehem, there are two differing records. One states that Menehem of Israel, Rezin of Damascus and Tubail of Tyre, paid tribute, and the other that Menehem, Rezin, and Hiram of Tyre paid tribute.)
When it comes to the lengths of the reigns of the various kings, academics cannot be certain unless it is specifically stated in the historical records, that a particular king’s length of reign does or does not include his accession year. [Grayson.A.K. (Cambridge Ancient History, 1991, p.71/72) includes Tiglath-Pileser’s accession year, whereas Thiele (1966, p97) appears to not.]
When it comes to chronological events in the records, academics can’t even agree how the chronological data ought to be applied. Referring to Tiglath-Pileser’s campaigns, we have two different dates for the exact same campaign. (E.R. Thiele (1966, p.97) puts the 743 BC campaign in 738 BC.)
Even without these specific examples, it is already recognised that many of the historical records (eg the Eponym and Babylonian Chronicles), leave much to be desired. (Cambridge Ancient History, 1991, p 339/340). One writer (Peet. T.E. 1924, p.75) wrote:
“Archaeology is not an exact science, and deals more often in probabilities and possibilities than in irrefutable demonstrations.’
Although written in reference to Ancient Egypt, it is painfully obvious that evidence is not always clearcut and precise and inferences drawn from such evidences are not always susceptible to scientific testing.
When one examines the Assyrian records, there is no evidence to support the claim that Israel’s historical records are ‘less’ reliable.
Academic Guesswork, Prejudice and Bias
The few following brief notes provide an insight into how precise are the findings in Archaeology and History.
1. Aharoni’s (1978, p.183) observation that it is difficult for scholars to admit their errors.
2. In relation to Mazar’s (1986,pp231/247) preference for accepted dating despite his own evidence to the contrary – cited in James et.al. (1991, p.250)
3. Peter James et.al.(1991,p.162) discuss such issues as poor methodology and hypercritical treatment of Scripture, blindness, prejudice and a sectarian like rejection of the Biblical Record. (More from the same book)
(p.309), citing Hanfmann (1951, pp.355/65) and supporting Jagersma (1983,p.37), points out that the basis of all chronologies, that of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian, rests heavily on academic guesswork.
(p.222) cites Sir Alan Gardiner’s (1961) reference to Egyptian History as ‘a collection of rags and tatters.’
(foreword pp.xiii-xv) Colin Renfrew, Professor of Archaeology, Cambridge University (1990), discusses the probable chronological errors and circular arguments in estimating ancient history.
(p.227) citing: Roy.A. (1982) re: current astronomical calculations : also p 228 in relation to the theory of Sothic dating and it’s assumptions.
4. Miller & Hayes(1986,pp.67/75) provides a plethora of academic disagreements based on bias and preference. (relates to Egypt)
5. Compare Petrie (1931) Trigger (1983) Grimal (1992) and Aldred,( 1988 ) in relation to differing chronologies for the kings of the 18th Egyptian Dynasty – for which the same information is available, provide the following results.
a) Amenhotep I commenced somewhere between 1560 & 1515 BC
b) Thotmes II commenced somewhere between 1528 & 1482 BC
c) Amenhotep II commenced somewhere between 1447 & 1425 BC
6. Fall of Samaria: both Shalmaneser and Sargon claim to have completed the siege against Hoshea King of Israel. (Bright (1981, p275) and Herrmann (1981, p.250) both currently favouring a victory completed by Shalmaneser)
7. Herrmann (1981,p.249) believes Pekah’s (Hoshea’s predecessor) end came in 733 BC, the year before Damascus fell, while Ahlstrom (1993, p. 635) places it in the same year, that is, 732 BC.
8. Roux.G. ( 1982,p.308 ) Citing: Oates.J. (1965, pp.135/59) -and – Reade.J. (1970, pp.1-9) Identifies Kandalanu as the name by which Ashurbanipal ruled in Babylon from 648 BC onwards. – but – Wiseman (1961, p89) indicates that Kandalanu was Ashurbanipal’s appointee.
9. Bright, 1981, p.255, Adad-Nirari c.802 BC crushed Damascus which was ruled by Hazael’s son Ben-Hadad III. – Miller and Hayes 1986, pp 291-293 indicate that the actual date is uncertain. It could have been 802 BC or 796 BC.
10. Like the suggestion that Jehoram of Israel and Jehoram of Judah were the one and the same person, depending on where you read, the same question is raised in relation to Ben-Hadad I and II of Syria.
The Alternative to Guesswork
The alternative to Guesswork would be a system that is more scientifically testable. Reliance upon the Assyrian records mentioned in this series has led academics to conclusions that are not demonstrably correct or verifiable.
The mathematics of the ‘King’s Calendar’ demonstrates a preponderance of accurate specific predictions with regard to Kings and events of Judah and Israel, that do not rely upon personal preferences or opinions.
The guesswork for the period under discussion in this article presents possible scenarios for the reigns of Hazael, and Ben Hadad I & II which like those for the kings of the 18th Dynasty in Egypt, all depend upon ‘how’ an ‘authority on the matter’ likes to portray them.
Based upon the mathematical calculation of reigns for the Kings of Israel and Judah, The ‘King’s Calendar’ reconstruction of the reigns of Ben Hadad I & II would be:
Ben Hadad I Pre-893 BC to 883 BC (10+ years)
Regency 883 BC to Pre-868 BC (15 years)
Ben Hadad II Pre-868 BC to 850 BC (18 Years)
Apologetics for this may be found in Newsletter No. 17 : The Significance of Ahab’s death.
The documentary evidence provided for this period of time by archaeologists and historians lacks credibility when viewed through the lens of the Rules of Evidence. Nevertheless they have been preferred over the historical documents of Israel, precisely because they do come from Israel and because they contain unacceptably strong religious elements.
This combined with a complete failure to understand the chronological material presented therein has resulted in an historical reconstruction that is not only unreliable but extremely patchy to say the least.
The Mathematical basis of the King’s Calendar historical reconstruction for the History of Israel is a scientifically verifiable or falsifiable system.
To date, the conclusions drawn from this scientific system of Math has demonstrated itself to be reliable.
It is time to ‘throw out the discredited evidence’ and rewrite the history books.
The Jury has Returned:
The Judge has announced the Verdict:
The Academic Evidence is thrown out of court.
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Legal Information Institute : Federal Rules of Evidence