Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"The great ideas which once inspired Europe ... replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions." Pope Francis

Pope Francis complains of 'haggard' Europe in Strasbourg

25 November 2014

Pope Francis has warned that the world sees Europe as "somewhat elderly and haggard" during a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The Pope said the continent felt "less and less a protagonist", in a world that regarded it with mistrust.

He also called for a "united response" to the help the boatloads of migrants arriving in Europe.

Pope Francis's whistle-stop visit to Strasbourg disgruntled some, who accused him of neglecting Europe.

Many of Strasbourg's Catholics were upset that the Pope would not meet them or visit the city's cathedral.

The four-hour visit - the shortest made by any Pope abroad - was his second European trip since his election last year. He travelled to Albania in September.
'Vast cemetery'
Addressing the Parliament on Tuesday, the Pope called for action following the deaths of thousands of migrants who have drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean.

"We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery," he said.

"The absence of mutual support within the European Union runs the risk of encouraging... solutions which fail to take into account the human dignity of immigrants, and thus contribute to slave labour and continuing social tensions."

The treatment of migrants was a subject he also touched on during a second speech at the Council of Europe, Europe's main human rights body.

His remarks came as the Greek authorities said they were trying to rescue a cargo ship, believed to be carrying some 500 migrants, that was adrift off the eastern Mediterranean island of Crete.


The Pope also used his visit to Strasbourg to call for the creation of jobs and better conditions for workers.

At the European Parliament, he spoke of a need to reinvigorate Europe, describing the continent as a "grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant" and saying it risked "slowly losing its own soul".

"The great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions," he said.

Pope Francis left his Popemobile behind on Tuesday, instead opting for a French-made Peugeot 407 family car.

Residents in Strasbourg were told they could watch both the pontiff's speeches on a giant screen installed inside the cathedral, which is celebrating its millennial anniversary.

One worshipper told Reuters: "I think there is disappointment but I think he also has reasons for making his decision.

"He knows what he is doing but we would have liked him to be here."

It was the second time a Pope has visited Strasbourg.

In 1988 Pope John Paul II visited the city and addressed the European Parliament, where he was heckled by Northern Irish MEP the Rev Ian Paisley.

During his speech the late Pope called Europe "a beacon of civilisation".


Laban in Greek Myth

Taken from John R. Salverda’s

 Sisyphus, the “Joseph” of Greek Myth


Autolycus as Laban


In the Hebrew scriptures, as soon as Joseph was born, there was a contest of wits between two famous thieves, Jacob, who stole his brother’s birthright, and Laban, who stole Jacobs wages. In the Greek myth, it was the well known thief Sisyphus who played the role, not of Joseph but of Joseph’s father, Jacob, and since it was Autolycus, just as well known as a thief, who was outwitted, it must be him, who is to be identified as a Greek version of the Syrian Laban. Sisyphus and Autolycus kept their flocks as neighbors, but Autolycus had a magic trick, he could change the appearance of cattle, from black to white, or spotted or mottled, or striped, even from horned to unhorned. So he started stealing his neighbor’s cattle and changing their looks, but Sisyphus noticed that his flocks were shrinking while his neighbor’s were growing. Sisyphus marked his cattle and discovered the deception, he called upon witnesses, showed them the scam, and got back his herds. Now, the discerning reader will argue, that in the Scriptures it was not Laban,who is here identified as Autolycus, that could change the color of the cattle. However, another, perhaps more precise, reading of the Scriptural account shows that it was Laban who kept changing, ten times, Jacob’s wages, and these wages were in fact the cattle. Furthermore, it is Joseph who is herein identified with Sisyphus, and not Jacob, but this is only a sleight discrepancy for it can rightly be said that the cattle in question did belong, at least, to the family of Joseph, who was born and was an heir to Jacob at the time. Regardless of the ostensive role reversal, the intricate theme of someone increasing his herds by changing the color of those belonging to his neighbor, and then appropriating them for himself, did not just popup in Greek mythology independently, and without any connection to the story of Laban and Jacob, that just does not seem possible, especially since we know that the ancient Corinthians were indeed Canaanite in origin and therefore would have been familiar with this theme. I’m not alone in recognizing the Greek debt to the Hebrew motif in this regard, for the well known modern mythologist, Robert Graves in his famous work, “The Greek Myths,” quite confidently states, “… Autolycus’ use of magic in his theft from Sisyphus recalls the story of Jacob and Laban.” Graves further cites as his reason for this statement, “The cultural connexion between Corinth and Canaan, …” Another probable clue to this identification may lay in the mythic assertion that not only was Sisyphus able to reclaim the cattle that Autolycus had taken but he, as Jacob did Laban’s daughter, also took the daughter of Autolycus. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tamar and Tyro Comparisons

Taken from John R. Salverda’s

Sisyphus, the “Joseph” of Greek Myth



Salmoneus as the Patriarch of Judah

The enmity between the House of Joseph (as the Christians) and the House of Judah (the Jews) is comparable to that between Sisyphus and Salmoneus. Sisyphus keeps trying to establish his stone upon the archetypical mountain, while Salmoneus had appropriated the worship of god to his altars exclusively.
The story of Salmoneus seems to be based, however loosely, upon the history of the House of Judah with it’s holy city at Jerusalem, which was referred to once upon a time as, “Salem,” and made the capitol because it’s great Temple was founded there by it’s famous King Solomon. At the beginning of Judean history, is the story of Judah and Tamar. Here we have a tale that has perplexed Biblical scholars for centuries not so much for what it contains, but rather for where it is located. Right smack in the middle of the Joseph cycle, just as he is being sold to Potiphar at the end of chapter 37, comes chapter 38 which contains the entire story of Judah and Tamar with no mention of Joseph throughout, and then, at the start of chapter 39, the narrative returns to the story of Joseph once again right where it left off, at the selling of Joseph to Potiphar, the continuity of the Joseph cycle being completely interrupted. This, apparent artificial, location of the Judah story we are told, in what seems more like a stretch than an explanation, is positioned to contrast the steadfast virtue of Joseph against the incestuous unrighteousness of Judah. Regardless of the Judah episode’s placement, studying the Sisyphus cycle of Greek mythology as it relates to the Joseph cycle in the Scriptures, testifies in favor of  believing, at least, that the Judah story was already a part of the Joseph cycle, even before the Joseph cycle was included in the book of Genesis. This is evident because, the myth of Sisyphus, ostensibly a collection of the Joseph stories that was current before it’s inclusion in the Genesis narrative, already contains it’s own version of the birth of Tamar’s twins, as the story of Tyro’s twins.
Before we get on with the comparison of these two stories let us first compare the names of the two mothers. The name “Tyro,” we are informed by Robert Graves, author of, “The Greek Myths,” was the name of “… the Goddess-mother of the Tyrians …” this was, no doubt, merely a worn down version of the more well known form of the name for the mother goddess of the Canaanites, “Ashterah,” omitting the prefix, “Ash-” as perfunctory. Now, as is well known, the Greeks referred to the Canaanites as Phoenicians, a name that derives from the Greek name “Phoenix” which means, in their language, “palm tree,” however, in Hebrew the word for “palm tree” is “Tamar.” Thus, both women can be said to have names that associates them with the Phoenicians. Incidentally, the mother-in-law of Tamar, the wife of Judah, known only as, “the daughter of Shua” in the Scriptures, is identified as a Canaanitess, while the wicked step mother of Tyro, whom the Greeks called Sidero is thought to be the eponym of
Sidon theoriginal settlement of the Canaanites. Because, unlike the name Tyro, the name “Sidero” has retained it’s prefix, it is even more plausibly derived from the name of the widely known Canaanite goddess Ashterah. (those who doubt the original identification between the two names Sidero and Ashterah should consider the two comparable English terms sidereal and astro-.)
Let us now continue with the comparison of the two stories, of course, anyone who studies the two accounts will find many differences between them, no doubt the differences are as important, if not more important, than are the similarities, which are also many and are quite comparable. Both the stories of Tamar and Tyro begin with the killing of two brothers. In each case the pair of  brothers die as a prerequisite to explain two things, why the respective women had no children, and why they were sent away to the place where each would eventually become pregnant with, each their own, set of twins. The two brothers who die in the tale of Tyro were her own children, (by Sisyphus) while those in the story of Tamar were her two husbands and represented her chance to have children. Tamar was sent away to live with her father, while Tyro was banished from Thessaly along with her father. Tamar’s father-in-law Judah became a widower, while Tyro’s father Salmoneus became a widower. Each woman, in the land of their exile, desiring to become pregnant, made a plan that involved waiting at a place where they each expected their intended to pass, Tyro on the riverbank at the confluence of two rivers, the Enipeus and the Alphieus, while Tamar waited on the roadside where the road to Enaim branched off of the road to Timnah. In each case, the sex act itself was intentionally deceptive, because one of the partners wore a disguise so as not to be recognized. Of course, as we have said, twin boys were born, in each case, as a result of the deception. Furthermore, the paternity of each pair of twins came into question, Salmoneus, Tyro’s father, doubted the fatherhood of her twins, while Judah, Tamar’s father-in-law, also had to be convinced in regard to her pregnancy. In each story, before the respective twins were born, the true father was revealed and he gave a little speech to the respective women, the intent of which was to justify, each their own, pregnancies and to legitimize the eventual progeny of it. Another weird coincidence, is the fact that both tales include a report, so saying that the first born was marked at birth, and got a colorful name as a result, the Scriptural “Zerah” was named after the “scarlet” ribbon that was tied around his wrist to mark his preeminence, while the mythical firstborn “Pelias,” was named for the “black and blue” mark that he received when a horse stepped on his face at his birth. As it turned out, with each set of twins, both children grew up to be the founders
of illustrious houses among the Aeolians and the Judeans respectively. Well, so much for the part of the myth of Salmoneus which has to do, however little, with Sisyphus, we shall now continue with the rest of the saga of Salmoneus.
Besides having an echo of the earliest history about the nation of Judah, these Greeks seem to have a few more details to add, such as the name “Salmoneus” itself, which is an obvious Greek version of the name of that most illustrious of Judean rulers King Solomon. With this realization, an evolution of the myth of Salmoneus can be surmised to have occurred in three steps; firstly, the story about the birth of the Judean twins, Perez and Zerah, whose story, as we have said, precipitated the birth myth
of the Greek twins Neleus and Pelias; secondly, the addition of the city of “Salem” and the founding of the Temple by “Solomon,” is ostensibly what lead to the use of the name “Salmoneus” as well as the notion that he founded a city called “Salmonia,” and appropriated the worship of Zeus to his altar; and thirdly, in the end of the myths about Salmoneus, we are told of the divine destruction of Salmoneus and his city, Salmonia. This third point would appear to have been too late to have been included in Greek mythology however, as the famous mythographer, H. J. Rose has pointed out, “It is noteworthy that Homer knows nothing of any evil reputation of Salmoneus, of whom indeed he speaks respectfully.” (“A Handbook of Greek Mythology,” p.83). The Homeric writings are much earlier than the rest of Greek mythologies and it was probably not until the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC., that an evil reputation became attached to the character of Salmoneus. The destruction of Jerusalem was looked upon by some, including the Greeks apparently, to have been an act of punishment upon the city, brought about by God Himself, this no doubt, gave rise to the parallel Greek myth about the destruction of Salmonia.-

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ninus and Semiramis

John R. Salverda has made the following comments, following my article:

Tiglath-pileser King of Assyria

I have long held a theory that Tiglath-pileser III was a son, or the brother by a different mother, (He was not born to Semiramis. Therefore he was out of favor, and resentfully so, biding his time until he was quite old.) of Adad-nirari (Ninus), the father of the three successive kings Ashur-nirari V, Shalmaneser IV, and...
I have long held a theory that Tiglath-pileser III was a son, or the brother by a different mother, (He was not born to Semiramis. Therefore he was out of favor, and resentfully so, biding his time until he was quite old.) of Adad-nirari (Ninus), the father of the three successive kings Ashur-nirari V, Shalmaneser IV, and Ashur-dan III. He survived all three before he made his move toward the kingship, during a massive natural disaster (the "earthquake" of Uzziah). Once the old royal general was installed his exploits against the Phrygians as a general during the years when his three half brothers (or perhaps they were his nephews) were sovereign, may have been rewritten as his own "royal" accomplishments and, are currently misunderstood to be the deeds of another king, who was thought to have lived 500 years earlier. One obvious discrepancy is the fact that the Phrygians can't be accounted for archaeologically before the 8th century BC.

Interesting as always, John. But you may be making of TP III a very aged man if he was already old at the time of king Uzziah of Judah and reigned on down to, perhaps, early king Hezekiah. Certainly I would date TP III as late as Hezekiah since I have identified him with the much hated (by Sargon) Shalmaneser, given tha...
Interesting as always, John. But you may be making of TP III a very aged man if he was already old at the time of king Uzziah of Judah and reigned on down to, perhaps, early king Hezekiah. Certainly I would date TP III as late as Hezekiah since I have identified him with the much hated (by Sargon) Shalmaneser, given that the Book of Tobit identifies the exile of the Galilean tribes (considered to have been the work of TP III) with "Shalmaneser". The latter is then succeeded by Sennacherib, according to Tobit. No mention of Sargon - which supports my other view that Sargon II was Sennacherib.

Yes, I figure Tiglath Pileser to have been about 85 yrs old (certainly not an impossible age to have achieved) when he died in about 727 BC, a little more than a year before Ahaz (I had imagined that the youthful Ahaz was overawed and was being overly respectful of the senior status and majesty of the King in the meeting ...
Yes, I figure Tiglath Pileser to have been about 85 yrs old (certainly not an impossible age to have achieved) when he died in about 727 BC, a little more than a year before Ahaz (I had imagined that the youthful Ahaz was overawed and was being overly respectful of the senior status and majesty of the King in the meeting where the elder Assyrian patriarch's throne was copied for the use and enhancement of the royal trappings of the upstart Ahaz) placing his birth year at about 812 BC.
"Ahaz who was irresolute and impressible yielded readily to the glamour and prestige of the Assyrians in religion as well as in politics In 732 he went to Damascus to swear homage to Tiglath Pileser and his gods and taking a fancy to an altar which he saw there he had one like it made in Jerusalem which with a corresponding change in ritual he made a permanent feature of the Temple worship Changes were also made in the arrangements and furniture of the Temple because of the king of Assyria II Kings xvi 18 Furthermore Ahaz fitted up an astrological observatory with accompanying sacrifices after the fashion of the ruling people In other ways Ahaz lowered the character of the national worship It is recorded that he even offered his son by fire to Moloch" (From "The Jewish Encyclopedia").
Tiglath-Pileser III described himself as a son of Adad-nirari in his inscriptions, but it is uncertain if this is truthful. (If he was the son of Adad-nirari and, sired in the last year of that King's life, he could, I suppose, have been as young as 55 when he died.)
I'm not sure where I got the notion that he may have been the son of Shamshi-adad (I was under a possibly mistaken belief that one of the previous iterations of Tiglath or Tukulti had claimed to be the son of an earlier Shamshi-adad)
Adad-nirari (Ninus, son of Belus according to the Greeks) 811 to 783 BC. was a son and successor of king Shamshi-Adad V, and was apparently quite young at the time of his accession, because for the first five years of his reign, his mother Shammuramat (Semiramis) some have postulated that his mother acted as regent, He was the father of the three successive kings Shalmaneser IV 783–773 BC, Ashur-dan III 772–755 BC, and Ashur-nirari V 755–745 BC.
I had speculated (for what it is worth) that he patiently waited for about 35 years playing second fiddle and faithfully serving the three brothers (his own half brothers, or perhaps his nephews) before making his move for the throne during the last few years of Ashur-nirari's rule. I supposed that during this time the exploits of his campaigns in Asia Minor were recorded and that these accounts, kept separate from his later royal feats, became the source material for the chronicles of his supposedly more ancient alter-ego. I once spent a lot of time and effort looking into the matter, but not so much anymore Thanks for rekindling an old flame with this subject.

Based on Mackenzie's (see below) observation that a highly idiosyncratic form of worship, reminiscent of Atonism, had occurred in Mesopotamia at the time of Queen Sammuramat (Semiramis) and Adad-nirari III, I have been inclined to synchronise the two, as I wrote:
"My tentative identification of Queen Semiramis of Egypt...
Based on Mackenzie's (see below) observation that a highly idiosyncratic form of worship, reminiscent of Atonism, had occurred in Mesopotamia at the time of Queen Sammuramat (Semiramis) and Adad-nirari III, I have been inclined to synchronise the two, as I wrote:
"My tentative identification of Queen Semiramis of Egypt and Babylon with Queen Tiy/ Nefertiti (= biblical Jezebel) seems to find support in the fact that Donald A. Mackenzie, in Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, has identified a similar régime to Akhnaton’s quite unique one in Assyro-Babylonia at the time of Adad-nirari III (or IV: Mackenzie), with the legendary Queen Sammuramat (or Semiramis) then having unique power for a woman - likened (once more, as in the case of the Jezebel seal which has Queen Tiy like symbols) by Mackenzie to the powerful Queen Tiy. The god Nebo whom the ‘Assyrian’ pair worshipped almost exclusively may here substitute for El-Amarna’s Aton god. This now gives me added confidence that the legendary Queen Sammuramat/ Semiramis was Nefertiti/Tiy (= Jezebel) under her guise as a queen of Mesopotamia. This means that her son, Adad-nirari III (and Mackenzie comes close to Velikovsky’s view of royal mother and wife: “Sammurammat may therefore have been his mother. She could have been called his "wife" in the mythological sense, the king having become "husband of his mother".”), was Akhnaton himself. A strange king, indeed, this Akhnaton!"
Does this add anything at all to the Ninus and Semiramis legend as you see it?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"Dies Irae" (Day of Wrath)

Zephaniah the Prophet
of “the Day of Wrath” 


Damien F. Mackey




Continuing on with what I had concluded in my previous article concerning the Naphtalian prophet Job in his old age, at about the time of his most severe and final trial:


Job and his sons in Josiah’s kingdom



namely that the composite holy man, Tobias/Job (= Nahum), may have yet a further identification in the impressive Shaphan, high official of king Josiah of Judah – {Shaphan’s Yahwistic sons and grandsons being then, at last, those hitherto unidentified sons and grandsons of Tobias/Job} - I think that I may possibly have set the scene now, also, for an identification of this composite Shaphan, in turn, with the prophet Zephaniah.

I had hinted at this possible further identification in the previous article, when I wrote:


The fact that I now have another name, apart from Nahum, for Tobias/Job, namely Shaphan (Hebrew: שָׁפָן), does add a further complication. Though, “Nahum” implies [the Lord has] “comforted”, and a name associated with Shaphan apparently is “Zephaniah” (see: http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Shaphan.html#.VFloMmaKB9B) of similar meaning, “the Lord has protected”, or - again fitting for Tobias/Job - “treasured by God”. 


Genealogies and Royal Connections


Zephaniah (Hebrew: צפניה), like Shaphan a contemporary of king Josiah, has a lengthy genealogy befitting an official of no little importance. Thus (Zephaniah 1:1):


The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah.


Some have suggested that this is due to the fact that Zephaniah was of royal blood, he being related to, as they see it, king Hezekiah of Judah - though the “Hezekiah” in Zephaniah’s genealogy is nowhere actually entitled “king”, and is variously given as “Hilkiah”. 

What do we know of royal connections, or high office, with regard to my composite character, Tobias/Job (= Nahum)/Shaphan?


Royal Connections


(i)                 Tobias


The royal connections of Tobias’s father, Tobit, were most impressive, for the old man recalls (Tobit 1:12-14):


Since I took seriously the commands of the Most High God, He made Emperor Shalmaneser [king of Assyria] respect me, and I was placed in charge of purchasing all the emperor’s supplies. Before the emperor died, I made regular trips to the land of Media to buy things for him there. Once, when I was in the city of Rages in Media, I left some bags of money there with Gabael, Gabrias’ brother, and asked him to keep them for me. There were more than 600 pounds of silver coins in those bags.


Moreover, Tobit was the uncle of - and Tobias the nephew of the important Ahikar (1:21-22):


Another son, Esarhaddon, became emperor and put Ahikar, my brother Anael’s son, in charge of all the financial affairs of the empire. This was actually the second time Ahikar was appointed to this position, for when Sennacherib was emperor of Assyria, Ahikar had been wine steward, treasurer, and accountant, and had been in charge of the official seal. Since Ahikar was my nephew, he put in a good word for me with the emperor, and I was allowed to return to Nineveh.


This same Ahikar would later attend the wedding in Nineveh of young Tobias and Sarah (11:18): “Ahikar and his nephew Nadab were also present to share Tobit’s joy. With merriment they celebrated Tobias’s wedding feast for seven days, and many gifts were given to him”.

Not until Tobit and Tobias are identified as, presumably, high officials in the neo-Assyrian kingdom of the C8th-C7th’s BC, however, shall we be able fully to appreciate their proper status in relation to the kings of Assyria.  


(ii)       Job


In the case of Job, we learn from verse 19:9 that the great man had once worn “a crown”.

His power may have extended even into Egypt if we can believe the Testament of Job, according to which Job had been “a king [presumably a governor for the kings of Assyria] of Egypt”.

I, in my article:

Job's Life and Times



had written as follows regarding the greatness of the prophet Job:


To what degree Tobias himself was actually honoured in the kingdom of Assyria, due to his having so famous and influential a cousin as Ahikar, needs yet to be determined. That he was certainly honoured afterwards, in “the land of Uz”, is apparent from the fact that he was known as “... the greatest of all the people of the East” (1:1, 3).

In Job 29 we are provided with more specific detail, telling of just how mighty the holy man had formerly been:


... when I proceeded to the city gate and in the street they put a chair for me. The youths saw me and hid themselves, and the old men, rising in my presence, stood. The chief men stopped speaking and laid their hand on their mouth. The generals checked their voices and their tongues stuck to their throat (vv. 7-10). Since in those days judgments were handed down at the city gates, Job apparently had the authority of judging. The fact that “a chair” was provided for him, shows that he was not a petty judge, but a man of singular dignity. Furthermore he had authority, not only over recalcitrant youths, but even over old men, who “stood” in his presence. Even the chiefs did not dare to interrupt Job when he was speaking. And the generals, who are usually bolder and more prompt to speak, “checked their voices”, by speaking humbly and plainly, and sometimes they were so dumbfounded that they dared not speak at all. At this time Job describes himself as “sitting like a king with the army standing round about ...” (v.25).Moreover we are told in Job 19:9 that the great man had worn “a crown”. So a search needs to be made to identify him as a great official.


But Job, despite his awesome authority, “was nevertheless the consoler of the mourners” (v. 25); that is, a magnanimous man who looked down on no one. Indeed, he was “an eye to the blind man and a foot to the lame man” (v.15), and “the father of the poor” (v.16). Because of his graciousness, the people loved, rather than feared, Job (v. 11), and they awaited him when he was absent, missing him “like rainfall” (v. 23). Listening to his words of wisdom, all “kept silent”, he says, for “they dared to add nothing to my words” (knowing him to be far wiser than they) (v. 22).Well, therefore, does Job shape up as being a most fitting son of the Tobit who had himself “performed many acts of charity” to his brethren, giving of his bread to the hungry and his clothing to the naked, and burying the dead (1:16-17), and being greatly loved in return by his brethren for his charitable works towards them (7:7-8).

[End of quote]



(iii)             Nahum


A. Pinker has proposed in his article, “Nahum - The Prophet and his Message” (http://jbq.jewishbible.org/assets/Uploads/332/332_Nahump_4.pdf) that Nahum may have been “a royal scribe”. Though Pinker begins by admitting that: “Little is known about the man Nahum”, he then continues somewhat more encouragingly:


J.M.P. Smith describes Nahum as an enthusiastic and optimistic patriot. K. Spronk thinks that the Book of Nahum was written in Jerusalem, by a talented, faithful royal scribe, who used the pseudonym Nahum as an indication of his purpose: to encourage the people of Judah groaning under the yoke of Assyrian tyranny.

Indeed, there is inner-textual evidence for considering Nahum a well-educated man, with access to royal files, and Judah's intellectual and military elite. As a citizen of Judah and a sensitive prophet, his feelings of sorrow and revulsion for the state of both kingdoms under Assyrian despotism must have been magnified by several factors. He represents the state of mind of the average man of his times, who has been rankled by the long-lasting oppression and humiliation of his people, and who's faith in God's goodness and power had been tested daily.

[End of quote]


In light of my multi-identifications of Tobias/Job that necessarily multiply names, I find most intriguing Spronk’s notion that that “Nahum” was an actual “pseudonym”. That being the case, then I am left dealing with only two sets of related names, Tobias/Job and Shaphan/Zephaniah, for my composite character. Tobias/Job - (the Greek may have replaced the original Hebrew yod (י) with a tau (τ) - could be, say, his name (akin to ‘Obadiah) in an near eastern environment; whilst Shaphan/Zephaniah was the name by which he was known further west, as an official of the king of Judah.


(iv)              Shaphan


For a reminder of the extremely high official status of Shaphan and his sons and grandsons in the late kingdom of Judah suffice it to recall both that quote from Encyclopaedia Judaica that I used in “Job and his sons in Josiah’s kingdom”: “The family of Shaphan dominated the bureaucracy [in the kingdom of Judah] and held the position of king’s scribe from the time of Josiah until the Exile”, and the archaeological evidence of seals for Shaphan and his family.

I had attempted, in that same article, to combine the lengthy genealogy of Tobit and his son Tobias with the brief genealogy of “Shaphan the son of Azaliah the son of Meshullam” (2 Kings 22:3). This yielded for me the following tentative overall result:


(Jacob and Bilhah)


Shillem (Meshullam)

Jahziel or Asiel (Azaliah)

(clan of Asiel)










There also I reproduced from another article the following list for Shaphan:    


The Family Tree of Shaphan





↓         ↓         ↓          ↓

Ahikam    Elasah    Gemariah   Jaazaniah

↓                   ↓

Gedaliah            Micaiah


What I find encouraging here is that the names of Shaphan’s offspring can generally be found amongst previous Naphtalian princes and leaders, e.g.


Ahikam is like Ahikar (Book of Tobit 1:21);


Elasah has the same basic elements as Asiel (“made of God”) (Book of Tobit 1:1);


Jaazaniah, interchangeable with Azriel (I Chronicles 27:19, Naphtalian), or Azariah (http://books.google.com.au/books?id=8Tq7); for we read this of a Jaazaniah: “A Maachathite (2 Kings 25:23; Jeremiah 40:8; 42:1). He is also called Azariah (Jeremiah 43:2)” (http://biblehub.com/topical/j/jaazaniah.htm);


Gedaliah, the name reappears in the genealogy of Zephaniah 1:1 (I have not yet established Zephaniah as a Naphtalian, however).


(v)                Zephaniah


Impressive (at least in terms of length) though the prophet Zephaniah’s genealogy undoubtedly is, it actually gets trumped in this regard by that of Tobias, through his father Tobit (Tobit 1:1), and trumped again even by the genealogy of a great female, the heroine Judith (Judith 8:1). Now I have tentatively proposed that Judith may also have been the enigmatic prophetess, Huldah, so well-known to Shaphan, to Zephaniah. See my:


Judith in Her ‘Increasing Fame’ as the Prophetess Huldah



Now, presuming that my composite biblical character so far:


1. Tobias/2. Job (= 3. Nahum) as 4. Shaphan


can be extended to include a 5., Zephaniah, a formidable challenge for me will be to show how the latter’s genealogy can be included also in the lengthy one that I have arranged above. Unfortunately - and this is where my reconstruction faces a real difficulty - I cannot immediately find a common resonance amongst the four names associated with the prophet Zephaniah (i.e., Cushi, Gedaliah, Amariah, Hezekiah - or Hilkiah) and those that I have listed above as Naphtalians. Nor can I find any resonance of Zephaniah’s ancestors with Naphtalian names as recorded in Numbers, Kings or Chronicles. So a royal link (say Hezekiah) is a tempting prospect.

I have already noted, however, a recurrence of the name Gedaliah, of Shaphan’s list, in the genealogy of Zephaniah. Moreover, the mysterious name “Cushi” may pertain to the “Al Qush”, or “Elkoshite” of Nahum 1:1. In fact comparisons with Nahum are amongst the strongest arguments that I can find for including Zephaniah as a 5. in my composite chain.


Zephaniah has likenesses especially to Nahum


The prophet Zephaniah, who received “… the word of the LORD during the reign of Josiah … king of Judah” (Zephaniah 1:1), was at least closely contemporaneous with the prophet Nahum, “whose floruit was approximately”, as I wrote in


Prophet Nahum as Tobias-Job Comforted



from the fall of Egyptian Thebes to the Fall of Nineveh c. 664-612 BC (conventional dating) … a phase that embraces most of the 31-year reign of king Josiah of Judah (c. 640-610 BC)”.

Not surprisingly, then, as with Zephaniah, so with Nahum, does Assyria (or Nineveh), whose days were now numbered, figure most prominently.

Thus Zephaniah, echoing Isaiah 10:5-19, proclaims (2:13-15):


He will stretch out his hand against the north

and destroy Assyria,

leaving Nineveh utterly desolate

and dry as the desert.

Flocks and herds will lie down there,

creatures of every kind.

The desert owl and the screech owl

will roost on her columns.

Their hooting will echo through the windows,

rubble will fill the doorways,

the beams of cedar will be exposed.

This is the city of revelry

that lived in safety.

She said to herself,

“I am the one! And there is none besides me.”

What a ruin she has become,

a lair for wild beasts!

All who pass by her scoff

and shake their fists.


Whilst the Book of Nahum is largely “A prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite” (Nahum 1:1).

Both Zephaniah and Nahum treat of God’s wrath. Zephaniah’s famous contribution to literature is what has become known as the Dies Irae. Fr. R. Murphy (O.P.), when commenting upon the beginning of the Book of Nahum for his article, “Nahum”, in the Jerome Biblical Commentary, writes (18:23): “The prophecy opens … describing the wrath of the Lord; its threats and promises; reminiscent of Zeph (1:18; 2:12-15; 3:12-13), form a good introduction to the awesome fall of Nineveh that follows (2:4-3, 19)”.”

We read about it in Zephaniah 1:14-16:


Near is the great day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and battle cry Against the fortified cities And the high corner towers.…


Zephaniah 1:14-18 compares well with Nahum 1:2-3:


The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;

the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.

The Lord takes vengeance on his foes

and vents his wrath against his enemies.

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;

the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.


Fr. Murphy again, now commenting upon the “Day of the Lord” for his article on “Zephaniah”, likens Zephaniah in his vividness in 1:14-18 to the prophet Nahum (18:9): “As in Na 2-3, the Lord’s intervention in the affairs of man is described in terms so graphic as to have an almost audio-visual impact upon the reader”.

Nahum’s words: “His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet” (1:3) are perfectly echoed in Zephaniah’s “darknesses and mist, a day of cloud and whirlwind” (1:15: WYC/NIV).


Compare, again, Nahum 1:10: “Those people will be like tangled thorns or like people drunk from their wine; they will be burned up quickly like dry weeds”,




Zephaniah 2:9: “Weeds and salt pits will cover those countries. They will be dry and empty deserts forever”.


Whilst Fr. Murphy offers another comparison, Nahum 1:7 and Zephaniah 3:12 (op. cit., 18:24): “God knows his own and takes care of his own (Zeph 3:12)”.


Job and Zephaniah 1:17


Fr. Murphy also finds a word in Zephaniah that has its resonance only in Job. Commenting on Zephaniah 1:17, he writes (op. cit., 18:9): “their brains …: Lehem is generally translated “bread” or any kind of food (e.g., flesh). One obtains the CCD reading ‘brains” by supposing moham for lehem; the single parallel that occurs in Jb 21:24, however, has the meaning of “marrow”.”

In this Job 21:24, we read: “His body is well fed, and his bones are full of marrow” (Hebrew: עטיניו מלאו חלב ומח עצמותיו ישקה׃).  




For my composite biblical character (1-5) there largely runs a common thread of royal service as an official and a scribe of great competence and dignity; exemplary Yahwistic righteousness, coupled with extraordinary fame, yet being a charitable man loved by the multitudes and refusing no one; a wise judge and counsellor; and a man of vast wealth and experience.