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Esther's Revenge at Susa: From Sennacherib to Ahasuerus by Stephanie Dalley

By Stephanie Dalley

Why are the names of the executive characters within the biblical e-book of Esther these of Mesopotamian deities? Stephanie Dalley argues that the narrative displays actual 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 convinced ancient occasions. Ashurbanipal's sack of Susa, led through the deities Ishtar and Marduk, underlies the Hebrew tale of Esther, and that tale comprises strains of the cultic calendar of Ishtar-of-Nineveh. Dalley strains the best way the long term payment of `lost tribes' in Assyria, published by means of the culmination of excavation in Iraq and Syria, encouraged a mix of pagan and Jewish traditions.

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Additional info for Esther's Revenge at Susa: From Sennacherib to Ahasuerus

Example text

Blood and guts bathed the wheels of my battle-chariot called ‘Overthrower of wicked and evil men’. 61 Sennacherib avenged the death of his eldest son by sacking Babylon. Corpses were left unburied. Statues of gods were carried oV to Assyria, to ensure that festivals and ceremonies were discontinued. It was a shocking event because Babylon was regarded as a great centre for religion, culture, and learning in an ancient tradition harking back to the great Hammurabi: schoolboys throughout the main Mesopotamian cities still learned and copied out Hammurabi’s laws, with their exaltation of Marduk and his city Babylon.

Having discovered that his father had died as a result of neglecting a statue of Marduk, Sennacherib could then advise his son Esarhaddon exactly what was required to reconcile Marduk with Assyria, and to prevent future trouble. I said to myself daily: ‘Who can fathom any of the gods’ actions? I can only absorb into myself fear of their divinity, acceptance of their yoke, and frequent their shrines’. ’ Without knowing what sin had caused the tragedy, the royal family and the court in Assyria were fearful that the successor might quickly suVer a similar fate.

K. Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles (New York: J. J. Augustin, 1975), 76. 20 Radner, Prosopography (1998), i. v. Ahat-abisˇa. Sargon and Sennacherib 19 Ambaris with an anti-Assyrian coalition impelled Sargon to march to distant Cilicia and punish them for their disloyalty. Exactly what happened is uncertain, but the Eponym Chronicle records the event in its usual laconic style: ‘In the eponym year of Nashur-Bel, governor of Amedi, the king [went to Cilicia] against Gurdi the Kulummaean [ .

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