By Stephanie Dalley
Why are the names of the executive characters within the biblical ebook of Esther these of Mesopotamian deities? Stephanie Dalley argues that the narrative displays genuine happenings in seventh-century Assyria, the place the common trust that revenge belongs to the gods explains why Assyrian kings defined punitive campaigns as divine acts, resulting in the mythologizing of definite historic occasions. Ashurbanipal's sack of Susa, led through the deities Ishtar and Marduk, underlies the Hebrew tale of Esther, and that tale includes strains of the cultic calendar of Ishtar-of-Nineveh. Dalley strains the way the long term payment of `lost tribes' in Assyria, published through the end result of excavation in Iraq and Syria, encouraged a mix of pagan and Jewish traditions.
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Additional resources for Esther's Revenge at Susa: From Sennacherib to Ahasuerus
6 F. M. Fales, ‘West Semitic Names in the Sˇeh Hamad texts’, State Archives of Assyria Bulletin 7 (1993), 139–50. 7 Samaritan Chronicle II always adds the name Bethel to Mt. Gerizim. 8 J. Macdonald, The Samaritan Chronicle II (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1969). The tradition in Assyria of taking prestigious literature as booty for a royal library is discussed in Ch. 9. 9 S. Dalley and J. N. Postgate, The Tablets from Fort Shalmaneser, Cuneiform Texts from Nimrud 3 (London: British School of Archaeology in Iraq, 1984), 35.
Wide of understanding, deep in thoughtfulness, who could see the designs that bind the world. As for those of you who closed your ears to his commands, who tasted the forbidden, trampled the taboo: the terrifying splendour of his majesty will surge over you, dispersing you to the winds. This word shall be Wxed like a thorn in your heart. ’ Vague allusions are made to a conspiracy, and the text may be connected with an attempt to exculpate Esarhaddon and his Fig. 2. Avenging god and demon, stone sculpture, from the palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh.
From Israelite territory in northern Palestine Tiglath-Pileser had carried oV some 13,520 people as a result of campaigns against ‘the 14 Sargon and Sennacherib house of Omri’,3 and presumably he settled them in Assyria, around 733–732 bc. After the fall of Samaria in 722 Sargon deported 27,290 more Israelites, and on this occasion we know from 2 Kings 17: 6 the names of the places to which they were deported: to Media with its main centre at Ecbatana (modern Hamadan), where a tomb of Esther still exists;4 to Guzana (modern Tell Halaf) on a western branch of the Habur river, and to Halahhu, the Assyrian name for the region just north-east of Nineveh, where Tobit and his family might have witnessed the dusty days of construction while Sargon built his new city at Dur-Sharrukin.
Esther's Revenge at Susa: From Sennacherib to Ahasuerus by Stephanie Dalley