What's in a Name? Neo-Assyrian Designations for the Northern Kingdom and Their Implications for Israelite History and Biblical Interpretation.
Journal of Biblical Literature 2002, Winter, 121, 4
Journal of Biblical Literature
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Nearly a decade ago, Israel Eph'al published a brief study that examined some of the Assyrian designations for the northern kingdom in the ninth and eighth centuries B.C.E. (1) He operated with the basic claim that the Neo-Assyrian designations reflect various historical situations involving Israel from 853-720 B.C.E. In the course of this study, however, Eph'al reached a negative conclusion and asserted that these Assyrian designations "cannot be taken as indicative of the territorial extent (nor of the political conditions) of the kingdom of Israel." (2) This assertion represents a tradition of viewing the different designations for the northern kingdom as simple synonyms that had little, if any, relationship to Israel's changing political circumstances throughout the ninth and eighth centuries. There are several weaknesses in Eph'al's treatment that call for a new examination of this topic. First, he does not analyze all the appearances of northern designations. Additionally, new pieces of evidence (such as the Tel Dan inscription) and new issues have emerged in the last decade. He also deals mostly with texts that are not royal inscriptions and does not consider in an extended way the study of Israelite and Judean history. Furthermore, Eph'al's denial of territorial and political implications for the designations ignores the specific form (including the presence of determinatives) and context of the terms in the various inscriptions. Accordingly, the present article both builds upon and moves beyond Eph'al's study in order to reexamine the designations for the northern kingdom found in Assyrian royal inscriptions from Shalmaneser III to Sargon II. This examination specifically analyzes the various designations within this corpus by focusing on the differences in the terms, their relationships to one another, their literary and historical contexts, and their implications for Israelite history and biblical interpretation.
- Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
- Published: 22 December 2002
- Publisher: Society of Biblical Literature
- Print Length: 54 Pages
- Language: English