The Uzziah Seals

Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Louvre Museum

Historically speaking, the land of the Philistines was concentrated in the southwestern corner of the southern Levant, and encompassed towns with names familiar to modern ears, names such as Gaza, Ashkelon and Ashdod. In Exodus 13, after freeing the Israelites from servitude in Egypt, God steered Israel away from the northeastern route that led to the Philistine country. “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, if they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt. So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.”

2 Chronicles 26 tells of a king of Judah that did enter the Philistine region and defeated the Philistines. “Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah

, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in place of his father Amaziah…He went to war against the Philistines and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod. He then rebuilt towns near Ashdod and elsewhere among the Philistines. God helped him against the Philistines and against the Arabs who lived in Gur Baal and against the Meunites.”

In the ancient Near East, seals were used for administrative matters, for ensuring communications were authenticated and for record keeping. And two seals appear to be linked to this King Uzziah. King Uzziah is acknowledged on different ancient seals. One seal belonged to a “Shebnayau servant of Uzziyau.” Another seal, this one containing an Egyptian style motif, belonged to Abiyau servant of Uzziyau. These seals appear to be dated to the 8th century BCE, which accords with scholarly estimates of the reign of King Uzziah in the 8th century BCE.

The Shebnayau servant of Uzziyau seal is shown in the image above. It is housed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

Shema, Servant of Jeroboam (II)

Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Israel

In the Bible, God can direct the course of history through human agents. In Exodus 10, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, so when Moses asked to allow the Israelites to worship in the desert, he refused, and the Egyptians were punished with additional plagues. “Then the Lord said to Moses, Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.” Even after begging Moses to remove the plague, he would not change his position. “Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. And the Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea. Not a locust was left anywhere in Egypt. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.”

In 2 Kings 14, Jeroboam II King of Israel was not a righteous king. “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit.” Yet God still restored Israel’s fortune through Jeroboam. “The Lord had seen how bitterly everyone in Israel, whether slave or free, was suffering; there was no one to help them. And since the Lord had not said he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Jehoash.” Jeroboam is described as having had a successful reign, including capturing Damascus and Hamath.

Working backwards from later events, biblical scholars and archaeologists estimate that the biblical Israelite king Jereboam II reigned from approximately 786 BCE through 746 BCE, a period that the archaeology shows to have been an expansionary one for the kingdom of Israel.

Beyond the estimated time frame, there appears to be archaeological evidence for this King Jeroboam II.

In the ancient Near East, seals were used for administrative matters, for ensuring communications were authenticated and for record keeping. One such seal was unearthed at Megiddo, a location within the ancient Israelite kingdom.

In the Bible, there are two kings of Israel named Jeroboam. The first one, Jeroboam I, is remembered as the king who led the ten northern tribes to seceded from the Davidic United Monarchy of twelve tribes. The second, Jeroboam II, is described as a king who ruled 150 years later.

Archaeologists working at Megiddo discovered a seal that featured a lion and the inscription “Belonging to Shema servant of Jeroboam” – “L’Shema eved Yeravam.” From the seal alone, it is not known if this seal relates to the first or second Jeroboam. Indications are that it refers to the latter. The motif of a lion is more typical of seals from the 8th century BCE. And an epigraphic analysis of the letters suggests a later form of the archaic Hebrew alphabet that dates to the 8th century BCE, the period associated with the second King Jeroboam.

The image above is of a replica of the Seal of Shema.

Israel’s Peak in the Iron IIB

Credit: Bibleplaces.com, Samaria

In Exodus 6, God tells Moses to tell the people of Israel in his name that “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.” In the biblical account, this moment stands out as an inflection point, where Israel’s fortunes are reversed to eventually become a powerful state.

In the Bible, the Kingdom of Israel achieves its greatest stretch of relatively peaceful dominion under the reigns of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz and Jereboam ben Jehoash. Egypt had not invaded since the times of Shishak over a century and a quarter earlier. The Aramean threat was reduced due to a “deliverer.” The Assyrians had yet to conquer Israel.

In 2 Kings 13, “Jehoash son of Jehoahaz recaptured from Ben-Hadad son of Hazael the towns he had taken in battle from his father Jehoahaz. Three times Jehoash defeated him, and so he recovered the Israelite towns.” When Amaziah of Judah challenged Jehoash to war, “Jehoash went to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate, a section about four hundred cubits long. He took all the gold and silver and all the articles found in the temple of the Lord and in the treasuries of the royal palace. He also took hostages and returned to Samaria.” Jereboam ben Jehoash later restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, and “he recovered for Israel both Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah.”

These biblical accounts align with the archaeology of the Iron IIB period, a period stretching from the latter part of the 9th century BCE through the mid-to-late 8th century BCE.

In Egypt, after the 21st Dynasty pharaoh Shoshenq I’s foray into the southern Levant, the area encompassing today’s Israel, Egyptian rulers remained tethered to Egypt. The Libyan pharaohs of Egypt’s 22nd and 23rd Dynasties do not appear to have invaded the kingdoms of Judah or Israel, allowing for an extended stretch of peace in the southwest. The Arameans to the north were weakened by the Assyrian expansion out of the region of today’s northern Iraq, and the Assyrians had yet to expand into the Kingdom of Israel as they later would under the rule of Tiglath-Pileser III.

This period of peace and expansion of wealth is reflected in the archaeology.

Judging by the archaeology, the Iron IIB period was a prosperous one for the Kingdom of Israel. The Kingdom of Israel contained dozens of cities, the larger ones of which included fortification systems, administrative buildings and water supply systems. There were hundreds of villages and farms. The area of its control stretched from the port of Dor in the northwest, Hazor in the north, Gezer in the south and into the Jordan Valley at Tel Rehov and Tel Bet She’an. One estimate is of a population of 350,000 at that time. This population appears to have been heterogeneous, including non-Israelites, likely absorbed into the Kingdom of Israel as it expanded.

The image above is of the site of Samaria, from where the Kingdom of Israel was ruled in the Iron IIB period.

The Seal of a Servant of YHWH

Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Harvard Semitic Museum

In Exodus 3, Moses was tending to his father-in-law Jethro’s flock when God appeared to Moses from the flames of a burning bush. God revealed to Moses that he had seen the Israelite suffering and that he was appointing Moses to go to the Pharaoh and to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

Moses asked God what his name is. “God said to Moses, I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I am has sent me to you. God also said to Moses, Say to the Israelites, YHWH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.”

In the ancient Near East, seals were used to signify ownership or authority. A seal could be used to create an impression on wet clay, affixed directly to a letter, or be tied through a hole in the seal to the threads at the edge of document.

The Seal of Miqneyaw is a red jasper seal that appeared on the antiquities market in Jerusalem. The text on the seal reads “Belonging to Miqneyaw, servant of YHWH.” The letters are written in negative, meaning in reverse, so that when stamped the letters appear correctly. The language on the text is notable for the language “servant of YHWH,” as in the Bible Moses is referred to similarly: “and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.” And it is significant for being the oldest seal to feature the name YHWH.

The seal is written in the archaic form of the Hebrew alphabet, not on our modern day Hebrew letters. This alphabet evolved over time, originating as objects whose first letter was used to represent a sound, to more abstract forms. Based on the shapes of the letters, the seal is estimated to have originated in the early half of the 8th century BCE, during the Iron IIB period.

The Seal of Miqneyaw, shown above, is kept at the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East.

Israel’s Nameless Savior

Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Istanbul Archaeology Museum

In Deuteronomy 25, Israel is command to “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. When the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!”

Here, Moses is referencing a battle that is mentioned in Exodus 17. “The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands. So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up, one on one side, one on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”

That the course of the battle was determined by the position of Moses’ arms, demonstrates God’s direct involvement in wars. This is a concept reiterated in Deuteronomy 20. “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

This concept of God as deliverer is reiterated in 2 Kings 13. For nearly a century, the Arameans were Israel’s greatest threat, invading, laying siege to Israel’s cities and holding the land. Then it stopped. “Then Jehoahaz sought the Lord’s favor, and the Lord listened to him, for he saw how severely the king of Aram was oppressing Israel. The Lord provided a deliverer for Israel, and they escaped from the power of Aram.”

The archaeological record can explain just who the deliverer was.

Adad-nirari III was the king of Assyria from 811 BCE until 783 BCE. As did earlier Assyrian kings of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, he regularly undertook military campaigns to dominate neighboring regions, including the area of Syria.

The Saba’a Conquest Stele of Adad-nirari III was recovered in Saba’a in Syria. It was recorded by an Assyrian officer Nergalerish. After the kings in Syria stopped paying tribute, Adad-nirari III ordered his army into the region. “I commanded the troops of Assyria to march to the land Hatti. I crossed the Euphrates in flood. … I commanded [my troops to march to Damascus]. I [confined] Mari in Damascus [… He brought to me] 100 talents of gold (and) 1,000 talents of silver as tribute. The word ‘Mari’ here is the Aramean term for a Lord, in this case, the Ben-Hadad of the Bible.

Thus it is the Assyrian king Adad-nirari III who is deliverer, who defeated the Aramenas and ended the Aramean threat to Israel.

The Saba’a Conquest Stele of Adad-nirari III is kept at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.

Samarian Tribute

Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Ashmolean Museum

Deuteronomy 17 discusses laws that relate to kings. “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us, be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite.” The king is also not to “take many wives, or his heart will be led astray” and not to “turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.”

In 2 Kings 9, Jehu the son of Nimshi set about to take the throne from Joram son of Ahab, the Ahab whose wife Jezebel had turned her husband towards other gods and who killed God’s prophets.

On Jehu’s dash to reach Joram son of Ahab, the lookout recognized who was coming. “The lookout reported, “The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi, he drives like a maniac.” Jehu found Joram and “drew his bow and shot Joram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart and he slumped down in his chariot. Jehu said to Bidkar, his chariot officer, Pick him up and throw him on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite.” Jehu then found the wife who led Joram astray. “He looked up at the window and called out, Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. Throw her down! Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.”

Jehu’s taking of the throne initiated a new dynasty. He would be followed by his descendants Jehoahaz, Jehoash and Jereboam.

In 2 Kings 13, Jehu’s grandson Jehoash, by then king, would retake territory from the Arameans. “Hazael king of Aram died, and Ben-Hadad his son succeeded him as king. Then Jehoash son of Jehoahaz recaptured from Ben-Hadad son of Hazael the towns he had taken in battle from his father Jehoahaz. Three times Jehoash defeated him, and so he recovered the Israelite towns.”

While Jehoash had success against the Arameans, he appears not to have been impervious to danger.

Adad-nirari III was the King of Assyria from 811 to 783 BC, and like many of his forerunners, he had a military policy to extract resources from neighboring states. In the Tell al-Rimah Stela, Adad-nirari III records that “I received 2,000 talents of silver, 1,000 talents of copper, 2,000 talents of iron, 3,000 linen garments with multicolored trim – the tribute of Mari’ – of the land of Damascus. I received the tribute of Jehoash the Samarian, of the Tyrian ruler and of the Sidonian ruler.” The Jehoash the Samarian appears to be the one mentioned in the Bible, identified by the city from which he ruled, Samaria.

It is notable that in the earlier Assyrian ‘Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser’ the Israelite king is identified as coming from the land of Omri, Ahab’s father. The Tell al-Rimah Stela appears to recognize that this king of Israel, Jehoash, is not a descendent of Omri and Ahab, but rather is from a different line and is identified by his capital city at Samaria.

An image of the Tell al-Rimah stela can be seen in the image via this link below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tell_al-Rimah_stela#/media/File:Stele_of_Adad-nirari_III.jpg

The image above is of a cylinder seal of Adad-Nirari III, held at University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum.

Ancient Trench Warfare on the Landscape

Source: BiblePlaces.com, Louvre Museum

In Deuteronomy 11, Moses tells Israel what they will be required to do once they have entered the land of Canaan to capture it. “When the Lord your God has brought you into the land you are entering to possess, you are to proclaim on Mount Gerizim the blessings, and on Mount Ebal the curses. As you know, these mountains are across the Jordan, westward, toward the setting sun, near the great trees of Moreh, in the territory of those Canaanites living in the Arabah in the vicinity of Gilgal. You are about to cross the Jordan to enter and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you. When you have taken it over and are living there, be sure that you obey all the decrees and laws I am setting before you today.”

In the Bible, the Canaanites were just one of the nations that Israel was expected to defeat when they captured the land. Similarly, in 2 Kings, when Aram attacked the land, the Israelites were but one of the entities they were seeking to defeat. Another group was the Philistines.

The Philistines were centered in the southwestern corner of the land of Canaan. The Philistine Pentapolis of five major cities included the cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath. These cities ran along the trade route to Egypt and to the north, with ports that could transport shipped goods into the interior. As such the area would be attractive to an invader.

In the 9th century BCE, the largest and most powerful of these cities was Gath, which has been determined to have been at the site of today’s Tell es-Safi.

In 2 Kings 12, after defeating the Israelites, the Aramean king turned his attention from the Kingdom of Israel to the Philistines. “About this time Hazael king of Aram went up and attacked Gath and captured it.”

How Aram fought the Philistines is hinted at on an archaeological artifact and on the landscape.

The Stele of Zakkur is a monument that was created by King Zakkur of Hamath and Luhuti in Syria in the early 8th century BCE. In the stele, Zakkur records that “Bar-Hadad, son of Hazael, king of Aram, united against me seventeen kings . . .all these kings laid siege to Hazrach.” But the god “Baalshamayn” told King Zakkur not to be afraid, and he triumphed.

What the stele shows is that the Aramean method of attacking a city would be to lay siege to it.

Gath has a significant destruction layer that appears to have occurred in the latter part of the 9th century BCE. Moreover, after this destruction layer the city never returned to its former size, permanently diminished as a Philistine center after the invasion.

Along with the destruction layer, archaeologists identified a 1.5 mile long trench that extends around three sides of the ancient city. This appears to have been a siege trench dug to encircle the city and prevent an escape or attack by the besieged.

The destruction layer at the end of the 9th BCE is potential evidence of an Aramean invasion, and the siege trench, similar to that which is described in the Stele of Zakkur, may have been the method by which the Arameans defeated the city of Gath.

The Stele of Zakkur is on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

A Royal Whodunit

Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Israel Museum

In Deuteronomy 7 Moses gives the Israelites confidence for their anticipated invasion of Canaan. “You may say to yourselves, These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out? But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt…Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed. He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them.”

In 2 Kings, it was the Arameans who entered the territories of the Kingdom of Israel, but with a range of successes and failures in their battles. In 2 Kings 6, “Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria, before they experienced a reversal of fortune. In 2 Kings 8, “Ahaziah went with Joram son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. The Arameans wounded Joram.” 2 Kings 10, “In those days the Lord began to reduce the size of Israel. Hazael overpowered the Israelites throughout their territory, east of the Jordan in all the land of Gilead (the region of Gad, Reuben and Manasseh), from Aroer by the Arnon Gorge through Gilead to Bashan.” In 2 Kings 15, Aram reaches further south into the Kingdom of Judah. “In those days the Lord began to send Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah against Judah.”

In 1 Kings 12, after Jeroboam led the split of the 10 northern tribes from the Rehoboam’s kingdom centered in Jerusalem, he established two competing sites for ritual worship, one at Dan at his kingdom’s northern edge and another at Bethel near his southern border: “One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan.”

Tel Dan is an archaeological site in the northeastern corner of the Hula Valley, north of the Korazim Plateau and the Sea of Galilee. It is located where the Dan River feeds into Jordan River. This location would have been a potential entry point and target for an Areamean army heading south from Syria into the Israelite kingdom.

At Tel Dan, archaeologist Avraham Biran recovered the Tel Dan Stele. The consensus is that the stele dates to somewhere between the mid-9th to mid-8th century BCE. The language of the text is Aramaic, and the monument appears to have been set up by an Aramean king, who credits the Aramean god Hadad for his successes. The text is most famous for the claim that he defeated the king of Israel and the king of the ‘House of David,’ makings this is first generally accepted mention that attaches David of Judah to royalty.

While the stele is notable for its record of a battle between Aram and the combined forces of Israel and Judah, and specifically the mention of a political unit associated with (King) David, it differs from the Bible on one detail. In the Tel Dan Stele, as it is interpreted, the Aramean king claims to have killed Jehoram son of Ahab of Israel and Ahaziahu son of Jehoram kin of Judah, in the Bible the Arameans only wounded Joram, and in a palace coup, Jehu killed Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah.

A Tool of God’s Anger

Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Louvre Museum

In Deuteronomy 3, Moses tells the assembled that God was angry with him due to their actions. “But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. That is enough, the Lord said. Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.”

In 2 Kings 13, God was similarly angry, and this time Israel paid the price. “In the twenty-third year of Joash son of Ahaziah king of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord by following the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son.

This tool of God’s anger is found in the archaeological record.

During Hazael’s reign, he appears to have ruled over a swath of territory that included much of modern Syrian and the southern Levant. One record of his rule appears to come from Arslan Tash in northern Syria. The Arslan Tash Ivory Inscription is a small ivory plaque, dated to the 9th century BCE with an inscription in Aramaic, the language spoken by the Arameans. The inscription includes the words “son of Amma, engraved for our lord Hazael in the year.” The setting for the inscription was in an 8th BCE palace of the Assyrian governor, indicating that site was connected to executive function.

The Arslan Tash Ivory Inscription is held in the collection of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

Fragment of a Fragmentizer

Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Walters Museum

At the outset of Deuteronomy, Moses tells Israel that they will be going to war to capture Canaan. “East of the Jordan in the territory of Moab, Moses began to expound this law, saying: The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to their descendants after them.”

But Moses also clarifies to them that God fights Israel’s wars. “Then I said to you, Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”

In 2 Kings, the king of Israel does not maintain his fealty to God, and the Arameans defeat Israel in battle. In 2 Kings 8, “Ahaziah went with Joram son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. The Arameans wounded Joram; so King Joram returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds the Arameans had inflicted on him at Ramoth in his battle with Hazael king of Aram.” In 2 Kings 10, the next king of Israel, Jehu, “was not careful to keep the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit. In those days the Lord began to reduce the size of Israel. Hazael overpowered the Israelites throughout their territory east of the Jordan in all the land of Gilead, the region of Gad, Reuben and Manasseh, from Aroer by the Arnon Gorge through Gilead to Bashan.”

Hazael king of Aram is said to be the conqueror of Israel, and he is attested in archaeology.

Shalmaneser III was the king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, centered in today’s northern Iraq, from 859-825 BCE. His reign is marked by an expansionary military policy and he waged war to the south, east, north and west. One of those regions he attacked was Syria, the home of the Arameans.

A fragment of stele purchased on the antiquities market in Baghdad lists the genealogy of Assyrian kings and their exploits. It includes Assyria’s defeat of King “Haza’ilu” of Damascus, the Hazael of the Bible.

This ‘Fragment of a Stele’ that mentions Israel’s rival Hazael, who carved out pieces of Israel, is housed at the Walters Museum in Baltimore, MD and is shown in the image above.