Well, take a bow, Nabu-sharrussu-ukin!

Ack! With no time to spare, I thought I would throw this out for some of my history buffs out there. I would spend more time commenting on it, but I am still neck deep (for a giraffe) in the task of finalizing my scripts to be filmed tomorrow.

But it looks as though an archaeologist has uncovered some dramatic proof of a minor Biblical character’s existence (mentioned in Jeremiah 39). Why would proof of the existence of a “minor character” be trumpeted so loudly? Chiefly for the fact that if the Old Testament were crafted after the events it describes — that is, if it were an ancient hoax or “made up” history — we would expect that some of the major personalities would be named accurately, but we wouldn’t expect minor figures’ names to be accurate.

Think about it: Who was America’s first president? Good! (I’ll assume you got it right.) Now, who drove the carriage on the way to his first inauguration? Ahhhhh…

I’m out of time (which I had none of anyway!), so I’ll just let you read the rest for yourself. Here’s the link (from the Telegraph.co.uk): “Tiny tablet provides proof for Old Testament.” For your viewing pleasure, the article also features a photograph of the “tiny tablet.”

(By the way, I’m curious to know how they got this name out of Jeremiah 39. As verse 3 is translated by my KJV & NKJV — and I believe that’s the verse in question, though the article does not say — I would have to take the last part of one guy’s name and attach it to the next guy’s name. BUT, that could be because I am reading a translation and not the Hebrew, and maybe the parsing is a bit subjective here. At this moment, I don’t have any time to check other translations, myself. Anyone familiar with the Hebrew want to comment? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?)

Break’s over — gotta go! (Hat tip to Robert Thiel on this one!)

4 thoughts on “Well, take a bow, Nabu-sharrussu-ukin!

  1. Dear Mr. Smith,

    Who’s Bueller? 🙂

    Very interesting! Here is what I wrote in response to the feedback (we will see if it gets published) — it answers your questions, mostly:

    > So far, many of you seem to be misunderstanding the nature of the evidence. The Bible — from Genesis to Revelation — is self-authenticating in so many ways that what it says can be taken as axiomatic. Finds like this tablet confirm, not “prove”, its validity. Such finds are merely what one should expect. They’re great to have, but no amount of such “proofs” will convince the skeptic, and no “proofs” of this kind are necessary to those who understand the internal evidence. But attempts to twist the literature related to the Old Testament, as Zecharia Sitchin does, can be ignored; such people only show their ignorance and prejudice. As for the name of this eunuch, Jeremiah has it right — as a Hebrew transliteration of Babylonian, accurately representing the common method of the time. Apparently Jeremiah abbreviates the name too, leaving off the *Nebo (Nabu)*; he renders the name as *Sarsekhim Rav-Sarim (Chief of the Princes)*. This too was a common practice; people often had multiple aliases in those days, even in the same official records.

    ————————-

    As for the rest, Mr. Smith, the Masoretic accentuation cannot be ignored here, nor can the verbal grammar and syntax it supports. “Samgar-nebo (actually -nevu)” means “sword of Nebo” and can’t be broken up. “Sarsekhim Rav-Sarim” hangs together too. It’s not impossible that the starting “Nebo-” in the original name dropped out in Jeremiah because of later scribal error (sometimes that happens when identical words follow each other); and adding it would not disrupt the accentual-verbal “picket fence” guarding the transmission of the text (adding to the possibility that a word has dropped out). It’s possible that the Assyriologist doesn’t trust the Masoretic reading and split the names arbitrarily (in which case he errs), or that he followed a logic similar to mine and added the word “Nebo-” (which is defensible), or that the journalist misunderstood what he was hearing (which is understandable).

    Clear as mud? 😀

  2. Howdy, Mr. Wheeler, and thanks. I greatly suspected that you would pick up on my request for info!

    And please note that the word “proof” wasn’t *my* word, but the word used by the article’s editors (or web editors). I will try to go back and add some quote marks or something to make sure that is clear. Things like this aren’t proof, they’re evidence. But, I can be a bit picky about choice of words sometimes (too picky sometimes, not picky enough other times!). But the math-guy in me places a lot of room around the word “proof.”

    As usual, thanks for the great info!

    Best regards,
    Wally Smith

  3. Dear Mr. Smith,

    Thanks, sir! Yes, indeed, I know that there are different meanings to “proof”, and that the word was the article’s (and that of some of the respondents), not yours. Mathematicians have a particular kind of “proof” proceeding logically from axioms, and in high school I used to enjoy the challenge of geometical and algebraic proofs. (That was a VERY long time ago by my standards.) Historical and legal “proofs” are of other sorts.

    But I notice that many people — in and out of the Church of God — get confused by the word “proof”. I know I was, when I encountered Mr. Armstrong’s “proofs” of the Bible and of God’s existence. I had to learn the difference between faith (which is the gift of God) and evidence in support of faith (which man can discover), and of the power of Occam’s Razor in integrating the two. We say the Bible is the foundation of knowledge partly because it leads one sooner or later to the simplest and yet the most complete explanation of the known evidence — its propositions pass the closest possible shave with Occam’s Razor, and thus can be taken as axiomatic (as God leads one “from faith to faith”, of course).

    Some people will not accept any “proof” of the Bible and its God as being sufficient, short of being omniscient (knowing all evidence) themselves — and I’m afraid I understand that temptation and what motivates it all too well. It’s not lack of evidence, but lack of faith, that’s the problem. Some people will accept faith in their own intellectual resources and nothing else, even if that leaves them with no hope of ever achieving what they want above all: knowing fully, as they have been fully known (in Paul’s words). That too I have had to accept: I will never know everything in this life, and whatever faith I choose must be chosen via kind, not degree, of knowledge, and that not of myself.

    I hope all that makes sense! Given your own background, I think it will.

  4. You might find these comments by Albert Barnes of interest too (they were made a long time ago, of course):

    Jer 39:3 –
    These princes were four:
    (1) Nergal, Sharezer, i. e., Nirgal-sar-usur (May Nergal protect the king);
    (2) Samgar-Nebo (Be gracious, O Nebo);
    (3) Sarsechim. No explanation is given at present of this name. He was Rab-saris, i. e., chief of the eunuchs (2Ki_18:17 note).
    (4) another Nergal-sharezer, who was Rab-mag, i. e., chief of the Magians. He is known in history as Neriglissar, the son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar, and probably his vicegerent during his seven years of madness. Two years after his death Neriglissar murdered Evil-Merodach, Nebuchadnezzars son, and seized the crown, but after a reign of four years was slain in battle against Cyrus, when disputing with him the crown of Media. See Dan_5:1 note.
    The middle gate – Probably that which separated the city of Zion from the lower town.

    ————————–

    Barnes correctly punctuated the names, or rather the Masoretic Text does and Barnes respected that punctuation (as it dovetails with Babylonian terminology as then known perfectly). With this new information, we can still respect the Masoretic Text, with the provisio that either Jeremiah or a later scribe shortened the Babylonian name of this “chief eunuch” (Rav Saris, not Rav Sarim — my mistake, the Hebrew letters *samech* and final *mem* look very much alike).

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