Israel and the Arameans

Solomon's elaborate building operations and the lavish scale of his personal life led to forced labor, burdensome taxation, and other oppressive measures that produced increasing unrest among his subjects. His religious apostasy in the latter part of his reign further sowed the sees of internal rebellion. Of special significance among the foreign enemies, which were divinely raised up to chasten Solomon, is mentioned "Rezon, the son of Eliada" (1 Kings 11:23). This ambitious military leader, who as a young officer in the army of Zobah, had escaped when Hadadezer's kingdom had fallen to David, had subsequently established himself in the important city of Damascus, and as the founder of an important Aramean kingdom, which was later to prove an inveterate enemy of the Northern Kingdom of Israel for more than a century and a half, was a troublesome enemy of Solomon in the latter years of the United Kingdom (1 Kings 11:23-25).

The rapid growth of this powerful hostile kingdom on the northern borders of Israel, which at times threatened to extinguish its national life, was made possible largely by the breakup of the United Monarchy under Solomon's son and successor, the hapless Rehoboam. The less than bright choice of this young king in failing to heed the demands of the people to reduce the heavy burdons Solomon had imposed led to the disruption of the kingdom at Shechem, where all Israel had assembled to confirm Rehoboam in the succession (1 Kings 12:1-19). This tragedy brought in its wake nearly two hundred years of trouble.

Israel Under Jeroboam I

The man who was destined to be the first ruler of the Northern (breakaway) Kingdom initially appears in the biblical account as an Ephraimite chief in charge of Solomon's conscripted labor gangs working on the Millo section of the wall at Jerusalem. Being a man of courage, he opposed Solomon's tyranny and was compelled to seek asylum in Egypt (1 Kings 11:26-40). After hearing of Solomon's death, he returned to his native soil, apparently prepared to support Solomon's son, Rehoboam, on his ascension to the throne (1 Kings 12:4). But Rehoboam's stupidity alienated the northern tribes from the house of David, which in turn chose Jeroboam as their new king.

Jeroboam's Apostasies. In order to bolster his political position, the new king immediately took steps to lead his subjects away from the faith and worship of their fathers. He feared that pious Israelites, who were accustomed to making pilgrimages to the temple in Jerusalem, would turn to the Southern Kingdom of Judah not only in religious matters, but ultimately in political affairs as well (1 Kings 12:27). He therefore built two shrines to Yahweh -- one at Bethel in the southern part of his kingdom, a bare dozen miles north of Jerusalem, and famous as a place of worship since patricarchal times, when Abraham had built an altar there (Gen. 12:8), and another in the far north at Dan, likewise an ancient cultic center (Judges 18:30). By erecting a sanctuary at Dan, he attempted "to develop friendlier relations with the tribes farther to the north who always had held themselves more or less aloof."

To make the worship more attractive in the sanctuaries he built at Bethel and Dan, since those temples were not nearly so spectacular as that at Jerusalem, Jeroboam introduced an innovation: he "made two calves of gold; and he said unto them, it is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold your God, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel and the other he put in Dan." (1 Kings 12:28-29)

Although it has commonly been assumed that the "golden calves" were direct representations of Yahweh as bull god, it is scarcely conceivable that Jeroboam would have resorted to such a crude and violent departure from Yahwism, especially when his design was to consolodate his newly gained and somewhat precarious authority. Besides, such a gross conception is otherwise unparalleled in Biblical tradition, and is opposed to archeological evidence. Among Israel's immediate neighbors -- Canaanites, Arameans, and hittites -- deities were "nearly always represented as standing on the back of an animal or as on a throne borne by animals -- but never as themselves in animal form." For example, the storm god of Mesopotamia is picutred on seal-cylinders of the second millenium BC in the form of a bolt of lightening set upright on the back of a bull.

Although conceptually there is little difference between representing the invisible Deity as entroned on the cherubim (1 Sam. 4:4; 2 Kings 19:15) or as standing on a bull, except that the former represent beings of the supernatural realm which uard the holiness (Gen. 3:24) and the throne of God (Ezek. 1:5; Rev. 4:6-9), nevertheless Jeroboam's innovation was extremely dangerous. The bull affiliations of Baal, lord of heaven, were too closely connected with the more degrading aspects of pagan cults to be safe, and there is every indication that the Northern Kingdom fell a prey to idolatrous pollution as a consequence. Time and again the Old Testament writers denounce Jeroboam as the one "who made Israel sin". Morevover, the "calves associated with Yahweistic worship at Bethel and Dan are repeatedly mentioned as abominations," and Jeroboam is referred to in connection with other apostasies (1 Kings 12:31-33). The subsequent spirtual declension in the Northern Kingdom with the introduction of fertility-cult groves (2 Kings 13:6), high places for the prostitution rites associated with Canaanite agricultural gods (1 Kings 12:31), and every type of idolatry, testify to the baneful effects of Jeroboam's apostasy (2 Kings 17:7-18).

War and Invasion Under Jeroboam. The serious weakening of the Israelite tribes by their division into two kingdoms was further exacerbated by the wars between them which began under Jeroboam and Rehoboam and continued intermittently under successive rulers. Specific and repeated notice is given to the fact that "there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually" (1 Kings 14:30; 15:6). This sad state of affairs exposed both kingdoms to the danger of common external foes. While Aramean power in Syria was steadily increasing during this period, it was not yet strong enough to take advantage of Israel's weakness. however, Sheshonq I of egypt (Shishak), (c. 935-914 BC) founder of the Twenty-second Dynasty, was able to avail himself of the unsettled conditions in Palestine to launch a full scale invasion in the fifth year of Rehoboam and to seize Solomon's golden shields and other temple and royal treasures (1 Kings 14:25-28).

The Egyptian records do not give the date of Shishak's expedition and with the uncertain chronology of the early kings of the Davidic line, scholars are not agreed on the precise date. Albright placed the accession of Rehoboam about 922 BC and accordingly his fifth regnal year would be about 917 BC. Other scholars vary within a decade or so.

The gold-masked body of Shishak was discovered in his intact burial chamber at Tanis in 1938-39. His triumphal inscription at Karnak (ancient Thebes) gives a long list of his conquests, which include towns in all parts of Judah and extend up the coastal plain, across the plain of Esdraelon into Gilead, "showing that he invaded the Northern Kingdom as well, in spite of his revious friendship for Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:40)." A part of Shishak's stela has been excavated at Megiddo, proving that he actually did take and occupy this important city, as recounted in the Karnak inscription.

Israel and the Rise of Aramean Power

The disruption of the Israelite Monarchy at the death of Solomon and the subsequent wars between the two divided kingdoms not only permitted Shishak to plunder Palestine, but also furnished the Arameans of Damascus with an unparalleled opportunity to consolidate their power and to make their kingdom the dominant Syrian state. The kingdoms of Israel and Judah, on the other hand, were so involved in mutual hostilities that they had little time to devote to the formidable threat of an unfriendly and increasingly powerful state forming so dangerously near at hand.

The Early Kings of Damascus. The succession of Syrian kings who reigned at Damascus and lifted the city-state to the apogee of its power to become the inveterate foe of Israel for a full century and a half has been remarkably illuminated by archeology. Veiled in obscurity and plagued with problems, this general period is now much better understood as a result of the discovery of the inscribed stele of Benhadad I, discovered in north Syria in 1940. This important royal inscription in general confirms the list of the early Syrian kings as given in 1 Kings 15:18, where "Benhadad" is said to be "the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Aram, who lived in Damascus." According to W. F. Albright's rendering of the Benhadad monument (with the somewhat uncertain restoration of a partly undecipherable portion), the sequence is identical: "Birhadad, son of Tab-Ramman, son of Hadyan, king of Aram." "Birhadad" is equivalent to "Barhadad" (Aramaic) or "Benhadad" (Hebrew), and Tab-Ramman and Hadyan are equatable with Hebrew Tabrimmon and Hezion.

Although the correct name of the first king of Damascus has been settled by archeological evidence, the problem of the identy of Rezon, who seized Damascus during Solomon's reign and apparently ruled there (1 Kings 11:23-25), is still unslved. Is Hezion identical with Rezon? If so, the form Rezon is secondary and is to be regarded as something of a corruption of Hezion. If this is not the case, which appears unlikely, Rezon must be excluded from the dynastic list of 1 Kings 15:18, which is improbable in view of the fact that he was clearly the founder of the powerful Damascene state, and imparted to it thet temper of hostility toward Israel which was to become hereditary in the kings who followed and which was to make it one of he most agressive and dangerous of enemies.

Benhadad I. By the time Benhadad I entered into the succession of Syrian kings (c. 890 BC), Syria had grown so formidably in power that it was the strongest state in this region of western Asia and ready to seize any opportunity to expand its domains. Such an occasion presented itself when the hard-pressed Asa, king of Judah (c. 917-876 BC), sent an urgent appeal to Syria for aid against Baasha, king of Israel (c. 900-877 BC), who, pushing his frontier southward to within five miles of Jerusalem, proceeded to fortify Ramah as a border fortress commanding the capital of Judah (1 Kings 15:17).

In desperation the king of Judah sent what was left of the temple and royal treasure plundered so recently by Shishak to Benhadad as a bribe to lure Syria into an alliance with himself against Israel. In resorting to this expedient Asa followed a policy which Abijam his father had inaugurated of resorting to an alliance with Damascus whenever Israel's aggression toward the south became dangerous (1 Kings 15:19).

Asa's strategy was at least immediately successful for Benhadad invaded northern Israel and forced Baasha to abandon Ramah and retire to his capital city Tirzah (1 Kings 15:20-22). But the cost was more than the king of Judah bargained for. In courting the favor of Damascus against Israel, he gave an unparalleled opportunity for aggrandizement to what was in reality a common threat and placed both Hebrew kingdoms in the position which was actually that of semi-subservience to a mutual foe. With Israel and Judah in deadly struggle the rise of Damascus to power was virtually unhindered.

Benhadad I and II. Before the discovery of the inscribed stele of Benhadad, scholars were almost universally accustomed to distinguish between Benhadad I, son of Tabrimmon, son of Hezion, the contemporary of Asa and Baasha (1 kings 15:18) and Benhadad, the contemporary of Elijah and Elisha. Only occasionally did a biblical scholar, such as T.K. Cheyne, recognize the possibility that the two might be identical. The majority, however, assumed that the so-called Benhadad I died during the early years of the reign of Omri or Ahab (c. 865 BC), and was succeeded by Benhadad II.

However, evidence furnished by the stele of Benhadad strongly argues for the identity of Benhadad I and Benhadad II. In addition, careful researches in the vexing problems of the chronology of the Israelite and Judahite kings of this period have resulted in the reduction in the regnal years, notably of Israelite kings, and have obviated any serious objection to the equation on the ground of an impossibly long reign for Benhadad I.

A further argument of moment commonly urged against the identification of Benhadad I with benhadad II is the word of the vanquished Syrian monarch to King Ahab of Israel after the latter's notable victory at Aphek, recorded in 1 Kings 20:34: "the towns which my father took from your father, I will restore; and you will set up markets for yourself in Damascus as my father did in Samaria."

This reference can scarcely be to Ahab's father Omri (c. 876-869 BC), who founded the metropolis of Samaria as the capital of the Northern Kingdom, for available sources do not lend the least support to the theory that the latter suffered a defeat in a clash with Syria. The term "father", especially when used of royalty, must frequently be construed as "predecessor", as is clearly illustrated by the monuments.

Doubtless towns wrested from Israel by early Syrian kings such as hezion or Tabrimmon during the reign of Jeroboam I (c. 922-901 BC) or his son Nadab (c. 901-900 BC), concerning which, however, tere is no biblical record, are intended. This period, though extremely obscure concerning events in Damascus, certainly witnessed a formidable expansion in Syrian might. There is ample reason to conclude that the hard-pressed Jeroboam had to make important concessions to Syria at this time.

Benhadad's use of the expression "Samaria" was evidently formulaic. The city had been so strategically situated and enjoyed such a prosperous growth that very early after its founding by Omri its name was popularly transferred to the whole Northern Kingdom of which it was the capital, and many paralels from western Asia may be cited where the name of a country and its capital city became identical. The Syrian king was simply using a newer designation of Israel for the older one, and the commercial privileges to which he alludes may have been established in Tirzah, Shechem, or some other towns of the Northern Kingdom before, of course, it was styled "Samaria."

Israel and Aram in Conflict

Since his invasion of northern Israel in the reign of Baasha (c. 900-877 BC), Benhadad I had gained control of the rich caravan routes westward to the Phoenician ports. The result was that immense wealth flowed into Damascus, which enabled it to amass great strength for its important role as the dominant Syrian state. It was natural for Aramean merchants to take advantage of this circumstance to seek to monopolize Phoenician commerce and to attempt to capture the Israelite trade market.

However, Benhadad now faced a different situation after the death of Baasha and the founding of a new Israelite dynasty under Omri. Never before had the Syrian monarch been called upon to deal with such dangerous rivals as Omri and his son Ahab proved to be.

Benhadad I and Omri. The reign of Omri (c. 876-869 BC) ushered in a new era of Israelite power and influence in Syro-Palestinian affairs. Diplomatically Omri took steps to establish close ties of affiliation with Phoenicia to offset the threat of Syrian commercial monopoly, which resulted in the marriage of his son and successor to Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians (1 Kings 18:18).

In other directions Omri showed vigor in dealing with foreign powers. The famous Moabite stone set up by King Mesha of Moab at Dibon, north of the Arnon, about 840 BC, discovered in 1868, discloses that it was Omri who gained control of northern Moab, occupying its cities and exacting a heavy tribute. The inscribed stele which is of great importance, runs:

I am Mesha, son of Chemosh [a Moabite deity -- cf. 1 Kings 11, which mentions that Solomon started worshipping this god]...king of Moab, the Dibonite...Omri, king of Israel...oppressed Moab many days because Chemosh was angry with his land. And his son succeeded him, and he also said, I will oppress Moab....Now Omri annexed all the lands of Madeba, and Israel occupied it, his days and half his sons' days, forty years, and Chemosh restored it in my days.

Omri's choice of Samaria as a strategic new site for a capital and his elaborate building operations and extensive fortifications there greatly strengthened his kingdom against the increasing Syrian menace. Modern excavations at the site have verified the greatness of the ancient city and the stratigraphy of Israelite times shows taht periods I and II belong to Omri and Ahab; III to the time of Jehu (2 Kings 10:17); and periods IV to VI to the eighth c. BC when the city reached its height of prosperity. Remains of strong walls and numbers of large cisterns are mute evidences of Samaria's ability to hold out to terrible lengths against protracted siege, first by the Syrians (2 Kings 6:24-30) and then finally against the mighty Assyrians (2 Kings 17:5).

The virile measures adopted by Omri to cope with Benhadad's growing prestige were assisted by a new factor on the political horizon. The advance of Assyria, although it brought a new source of anxiety to Israel, acted as a further restraint upon the Arameans. This is doubtless the reason tehre is no evidence of a Syrian invasion of Israel during Omri's reign or that the Israelite king was ever a tributary to Benhadad I.

However, whether merely by virtue of his foreign reputation as a founder of a new dynasty and a rulder of energy or in some more direct way, the initial contact between Israel and Assyria evidently occured during Omri's day, for from that time on Israel appears in cuneiform recores at Bit-Humri ("house of Omri"). This official Assyrian appellation was applied to Samaria, the capital city. Moreover, the designation of an Israelite king became Mar-Humri ("son of Omri"). Tiglath-pileser III's reference to the land of Israel over a century later by its official name Bit-Humri evidences the significance of Omri as a ruler in Israel (despite the Bible's disparaging words about him. In fact, it illustrates that one can gain the whole world and yet lose one's soul. Omri may have been significant to the rest of the world, but to God, he was nobody).

Benhadad I and Ahab. Omri's son Ahab (c. 869-850 BC) assiduously continued the general policies of his father, strengthening his kingdom within and without against the day of eventually dealing with the Arameans. To this end he continued to develop Samaria as an imperial bastion and royal residence, besides building and fortifying many other places, including Jericho (1 Kings 16:34; 22:39). He also endevored to improve greatly his diplomatic position. To his treaty with Tyre, cemented by royal marriage and the introduction of the Tyrian cult of Baal-Melcarth into Israel, he added a protective alliance with the Southern Kingdom, sealed by another royal union when he gave his daughter, Athalia, in marriage to Jehoram, the crown prince of Judah (2 Kings 8:18, 26).

The long threatened attack from Syria came some five or so years before the end of Ahab's reign. At the head of a coalition of 32 vassel kings Benhadad suddenly appeared before the gates of Samaria (1 Kings 20:1). Ahab's brilliant strategy not only won this battle, on this occasion, but also the one during the following year, when he won an even more decisive victory over the Syrians at Aphek, east of the Sea of Galilee, on the road from Damascus to Bethshan (1 Kings 20:26-43).

The next year, however, the appearance on the horizon of a powerful Assyria marching toward Syria-Palestine compelled Ahab and his hereditary foe, Benhadad, to ally themselves in a general coalition of neighboring kings to block the ambitious Assyrian move southward. Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC), whose formidable fighting machine had extended Assyrian power to the Mediterranean, kept clear of Damascus and Israelite territory. His son Shalmaneser III (859-824 BC), however, directed Assyrian might southwestward in rpeated campaigns against Syria and Palestine. The Monolith Inscription, now in the British Museum, recores the military expeditions of the king during the first six years of his reign and includes a description of his clash with the Syrian coalition headed by "Hadadezer [Benhadad] of Aram [Damascus]" in 853 BC. The battle took place at Karkar, north of Hamath in the Orontes Valley, a strategic fortress city, which guarded the approach to all lower Syria.

Conspicuously mentioned along with Hadadezer [Benhadad], is "Ahab, the Israelite". The Israelite ruler's prominence is indicated by the large number of chariots he is said to have furnished to coalition -- two thousand as compared to only twelve hundred with Hadadezer, and 700 of "Irhuleni of Hamath", mentioned third. But Hadadezer furnished twice as many soldiers as Ahab, 20,000 against his 10,000.

In extravagant terms, Shalmaneser claims a great victory, which can well be doubted, since he did not press on toward Hamath, which he certainly would have done had his victory been decisive. Nor was he able to report any further successes, nor did he resume his attack on Hamath or Damascus until some half dozen years later.

Benhadad and Joram. According to the available documents Ahab was the last ruler to be listed in the Assyrian records as a foe of Shalmaneser. The Israelite king met his untimely death (c. 850 BC) in his attempt to recover Ramoth in Gilead from the Syrians, when the old hostility flared up as the Assyrian menace abated after the battle of Karkar (1 Kings 22:1-51). The revolt of Moab on Ahab's death occupied his weak and sickly son Ahaziah (c. 850-849 BC) and Joram (c. 849-842 BC).

In 848 BC, in the eleventh year of his reign, Shalmaneser III made another thrust into Syria. In this campaign he was met by a confederation of "twelve kings of the seaboard", again headed by Adadidri (Benhadad I) of Damascus and Irhuleni of Hamath. On this occasion, however, no mention is made of Israel's participation in the coalition. The same is true of his fourteenth regnal year (845 BC), when he made a supreme effort to invade central and southern Syria, as the Bull Inscription records (recorded on two large bull-colossi recovered from the center of the mound at Calah [Nimrud]). Ahab's death at the hands of the treacherous Syrian in attempting to recover Ramoth in Gilead, which Benhadad perfidiously failed to return to Israel in accordance with the treaty of Aphek (1 Kings 20:34), doubtless was reason enough that his sons decided rather to face the Assyrian menace than join the Syrian coalition in 848 and 845 BC with Damascus in the old place of leadership.

Hazael and Jehu. Benhadad's long and energetic reign came to an end about 843 BC or slightly later. By 841 BC Hazael, an official of influence in the service of the court at Damascus, had already usurped the throne. On a pavement slab from Nimrud (Calah) Shalmaneser records his crossing the Euphrates River for the sixteenth time in the eighteenth year of his reign (841 BC) and his attack upon Hazael (Haza'ilu) of Damascus. A text from Asshur describes this significant change in the dynasty at Damascus and strikingly confirms the biblical account (2 Kings 8:7-15): "Adadidri forsook his land [idiom meaning, "died violently" or "was murdered"]. Hazael, son of nobody, seized the throne."

Hazael's contacts with Joram, who in the confusion incident upon the shift of dynasty at Damascus, evidently recovered Ramoth Gilead (2 Kings 8:28; 9:14), were destined to be short-lived. Not many months elapsed before the new Syrian king was confronted by a new Israelite ruler, a usurper like himself. Jehu (c. 842-815 BC), initiating a violent political and religious purge in Israel, incurred the implacable hatred of Hazael by submitting to Shalmaneser III in his invasion of 841 BC rather than joining Syria in resisting the Assyrian advance.

The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, which Austen Layard found in 1846 in the imperial palace at Nimrud, shows Jehu actually kneeling before the Assyrian emperor. Following the prostrate king come Israelites bearing gifts. The inscription reads: "Tribute of Iaua [Jehu], son of Omri. Silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden beaker, golden goblets, pitchers of gold, lead, staves for the hand of the king, javelins, I received from him."

Hazael, single-handed, withstood the Assyrian attack in 841 BC and was able at least to ward off a crushing blow. But Damascus took a terrific pummeling in the attack from "the giant among the Semites". For several more years Hazael was occupied with the peril of imminent aggression by Assyria, but after Shalmaneser's final effort to subdue central and southern Syria, in the twenty-first year of his reign (837 BC), he was compelled to abandon his Syrian campaigns to attend to more pressing problems in the north. Neither he nor his son Shamsi-Adad V (824-815 BC) was able to undertake a new campaign against middle or southern Syria.

Hazael, at last set free for ambitious plans of his own for territorial expansion, began relentlessly to harass Israel, especially in the East Jordanic country. As the Aramaeans pitilessly "threshed" Gilead and Bashan "with threshing instruments of iron" (2 Kings 10:32-33; Amos 1:3-4) and more and more encroached upon Israelite territory, Jehu must have realized how badly he had gauged the international situation in placating Assyria.

Hazael and Joahaz. At Jehu's death in 815 BC a renewal of Hazael's relentless attacks on Israel soon reduced his son Joahaz (815-801 BC) to such an extreme stage of abasement that the Israelite king became little more than a retainer of the Arameans (2 Kings 13:1-9, 22, 25). By imposing rigid military restrictions on Israel, whose territory had shrunk to include not much more than the hill coungtry of Ephraim, Syrian armies were free to pass at will through Joahaz's realm. Soon Hazael found himself in possession of the Philistine plain. Destroying Gath, he was in a position to attack Jerusalem. He was warded off only by the payment of a large sum raised by stripping the temple (2 Kings 12:17-18).

As far as the extension of his sway toward the south is concerned, Hazael appears as the greatest of the Aramean conquerors, who ruled at Damsacus. Although there is no concrete evidence of any extensive conquests of his in the north, his reign brought his country to the position of the chief power in all Syria and embraced the period of its greatest territorial control. The reappearance of Assyria in the west under Adadnirari III (805-782 BC), however, proved that Hazael's empire built up by brute force and coercion, lacked intrinsic solidarity.

Whereas a unified Syria had met and checked Shalmaneser's career at the time of Benhadad I, Adadnirari's westward march gave no evicence at all of such unity. Grating that Damascus escaped actual destruction, it apparently did so by its own resources, which, hoever, were insufficient to save it from an oppressive tribute. According to the Saba'a stele discovered in 1905 and now in the Constantinople Museum, Adadnirari says:

I gave the command to march against Aram. I trapped Mari' [Hazael] in Damascus, his royal city. I received ... one hundred talents of godl, and one thousand talents of silver.

Even such countries which Hazael is known to have taken, such as Bit Humri (Israel) and Palastu (Philistia), revolted in the crisis and sent tribute to Assyria. From the upper portion of a slab found at Nimrud (Calah) an inscription of Adadnirari lists among other countries, "Tyre, Sidon, Humri (Omriland=Israel), Edom, Palastu (Philistia)" as lands, he says "I brought in submission to my feet. I imposed tribute and tax upon them."

After a long reign of at least forty years, like David, Solomon, Asa, and Uzziah in Judah, and like Jeroboam II in Israel, Hazael died in 801 BC or slightly later. The fact that Adadnirari III for the year 802 BC (and perhaps several years earlier) names Mari' as king of Damascus must be explained under the supposition that his term is a second name of Hazael, and is merely a popular title of the kings of Damascus, and like an abbreviation of a name like "Mari'-Hadad", meaning "Hadad is my lord".

Doubtless significant in this connection is the inscription found on one of the ivories from the site of Arslan Tash in north Syria, which carries the name "our lord Hazael" and dates from the era of this famous Syrian king. Other similar ivories found at Nimrud, ancient Calah, are dated somewhat later, since an Assyrian tablet of inventory lists them as booty from Damascus in the time of Hazael's successor.