How many Babylonians?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by franklinmonroe, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
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    In 2007 Dr. Michael Jursa deciphered an inscription on a clay cuniform artifact at the British Museum which is now known as the Nebo-Sarsekim Tablet. The museum had acquired it in 1920, but it had remained in storage unpublished; archaeologists had in the 1870s unearthed the clay document in the ancient city of Sippar (near modern Baghdad); it is dated to 595BC, the 10th year of Nebuchadnezzar II --
    Dr Jursa’s translation of the Babylonian tablet proves that his name was really pronounced as Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, and gives the same title, ‘chief eunuch’, in cuneiform script, thereby confirming the accuracy of the Biblical account." (read more at http://www.24hourmuseum.org.uk/nwh_gfx_en/ART48827.html )

    Irving Finkel, assistant keeper in the British Museum's Middle East Department, was very excited: "This is a fantastic discovery," he told The Telegraph, "a world-class find. If Nevo-Sarsekim existed, [then] which other lesser figures in the Old Testament existed? A throwaway detail in the Old Testament turns out to be accurate and true. I think that it means that the whole of the narrative [of Jeremiah] takes on a new kind of power."
    (read more at http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/123041)​

    Jeremiah 39:3 --
    and alle the princes of the kyng of Babiloyne entriden, and saten in the myddil yate, Veregel, Fererer, Semegar, Nabusarrachym, Rapsaces, Neregel, Sereser, Rebynag, and alle othere princes of the kyng of Babiloyne. (Wycliffe)

    And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, [even] Nergalsharezer, Samgarnebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, with all the residue of the princes of the king of Babylon. (KJV)

    And all the leaders of the king of Babylon went in, and sat in the middle gate, Marganasar, and Samagoth, and Nabusachar, and Nabusaris, Nagargas, Naserrabamath, and the rest of the leaders of the king of Babylon, (Brenton's translation of Jeremiah 46:3, Septuagint)

    and come in do all the heads of the king of Babylon, and they sit at the middle gate, Nergal-Sharezer, Samgar-Nebo, Sarsechim, chief of the eunuchs, Nergal-Sharezer, chief of the Mages, and all the rest of the heads of the king of Babylon. (Young)

    Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came and took seats in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer of Samgar, Nebo-Sarsekim a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer a high official and all the other officials of the king of Babylon. (NIV)​
    Notice that (in three of the above versions) there seems to be two persons with the same "Nergal-Sharezer" name; but isn't also possible that there could have been more than one Babylonian named "Nebo-Sarsekim"? So, the one named in Jeremiah could be a different person than the one mentioned on the tablet.

    The transliterated foreign word "rabsaris" is rab-cariyc (Strong's #7249) meaning the chief eunuch, a high ranking Babylonian official; this term is also found in 2 Kings 18:17 and Jeremiah 39:13.

    Wycliffe (and Coverdale, Geneva, Bishop's, Darby) seems to list eight princes; the KJV and LXX translation gives the appearance of six names; Young's rendering gives the impression of four named officers; the NIV indicates only three persons (the NIV's footnote is: Or Nergal-Sharezer, Samgar-Nebo, Sarsekim). Josephus would to seem to believe there was five men --
    The names of these generals who ravaged and subdued Jerusalem, if any one desire to know them, were these: Nergal Sharezer, Samgar Nebo, Rabsaris, Sorsechim, and Rabmag. (W. Whiston's English translation of Antiquities of the Jews, Book 10, section 135)​
     
    #1 franklinmonroe, Sep 30, 2008
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  2. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
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    It is interesting to note that in the immediate context of Jeremiah 39, that other Babylonians named are also identified with their office or title; we find Nebuchadrezzar with "king of Babylon" (in verses 39:1,5,11) and Nebuzaradan with "the captain of the guard" (every time he is mentioned - 39:9,10,11,13).

    Most all the other persons named in this passage also have qualifiers attached; for example, Zedekiah is also designated as "king of Judah" (only twice, although he is mentioned several more times), Gedaliah is "the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan", and Ebedmelech is also "the Ethiopian". Only Jeremiah is named without additional specific identifying details; well, except possibly these princes in question.

    From Matthew Henry --
    ... Rab-saris and Rab-mag are supposed to be not the names of distinct persons, but the titles of those whose names go before. Sarsechim was Rab-saris, that is, captain of the guard; and Nergal-sharezer, to distinguish him from the other of the same name that is put first, is called Ram-mag—camp-master, either muster-master or quarter-master: these and the other great generals sat in the gate. And now was fulfilled what Jeremiah prophesied long since (ch. 1:15), that the families of the kingdoms of the north should set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem. Justly do the princes of the heathen set up themselves there, where the gods of the heathen had been so often set up.​
     
    #2 franklinmonroe, Oct 9, 2008
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  3. Salamander

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    Could it also be possible, due to the nuances of ancient documentaion, if anyone could actually call it that, these are titles with names give to correspond with the title and are all actually the same person?
     
  4. Salamander

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    Yep, my thinking too, and this before i read this particular post.

    I've heard of many supposed discrepencies due to the way which titles and names that reflect the title are made.

    One funny way of keeping "score" in Jewish form is to count all the members of a regiment including their perspective leader, then counting him again in the next regiment which might have more important duties assigned to them. Jews have maintained many "secretive" ways which they record things about their history which confounds even themselves!
     
  5. franklinmonroe

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    Besides Nebo-Sarsekim it seems that Nergal-sharezer is also known from cuneiform artifacts and is identified by Greeks as Neriglissar who had evidently murdered the biblical Evil-merodach (the son of Nebuchadnezzar) to become the King of Babylon (about 560–556 BC) and married Kashshaia, the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. Nergal may mean 'protect the king' [some info distilled from Leick's 1999 Who's who in the Ancient Near East, p.122]. Is this Nergal-sharezer the Samgar (high official) or from Samgar (a place name)? Is the other Nergal-sharezer the same man? The word "Rabmag" seems to be deciphered as 'chief magus' (mag meaning 'great'), perhaps a sorcerer priest (magi, see Young's translation above). Was this intended to distinguish between two identities?

    Additionally, it seems Nebuzaradan (which means 'Nebu gave me offspring') is also found in Babylonian texts. Nebu is the name of the Babylonian god of wisdom & agriculture, and patron of scribes and schools. More Matthew Henry --
    ... The princes are here named, rough and uncouth names they are, to intimate what a sad change sin had made; there, where Eliakim and Hilkiah, who bore the name of the God of Israel, used to sit, now sit Nergal-sharezer, and Samgar-nebo, etc., who bore the names of the heathen gods.​
    Henry may be making referrence to "Nebo" in Isaiah 46:1, and we find in 2 Kings 17:30 (KJV) --
    Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put [them] in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.
    And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,​
     
    #5 franklinmonroe, Oct 10, 2008
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