This article was published in SIS Chronology and Catastrophism Workshop 1995 No 2 (June 1995). I have reproduced it here with the permission of the author. - Lisa

Baal-Manzer The Tyrian: A Reappraisal

Brad Aaronson

In 1951, Fuad Safar published a new version of the annals of Shalmaneser III which contained an important but puzzling Assyrian-Tyrian synchronism [1]. We know from other versions of Shalmaneser's records that in the campaign of his eighteenth year, he received tribute from "Yaua mar Humri" (Jehu of Beth Omri) and the Tyrians [2]. In this version, a name is supplied for the king of Tyre. The passage in question reads: "I received the tribute of Baal-Manzer the Tyrian and Jehu of Beth Omri" [3]. The question is, who is this Baal-Manzer?

Josephus gives us the names of all the Tyrian kings from Hiram son of Abibaal, a contemporary of David and Solomon, through Pygmalion, whose sister Elissa founded Carthage [4]. The names which come closest to Baal-Manzer are Baalbazer son of Hiram and Baalazor, grandfather of Pygmalion. The former is far too early to be mentioned by Shalmaneser III and the latter has taken this distinction by default. However, as Albright has pointed out [5], Baalazor is clearly the Phoenician Baal-Azar, meaning "Baal is my help". He therefore postulates a Baalbazer II as a successor of Baalazor, whose name has fallen out of the Tyrian king list as we have it because of the similarity of his name with that of his predecessor.

This kind of emendation may be legitimate but it seems a bit arbitrary. Is there no better solution? In his discussion of the element "manzer", Albright suggests that it is to be translated as something like "religious votary", from NZR, "to vow" [6]. The Hebrew nazir is one who has taken a religious vow (nazirite), and sometimes has the meaning of a kind of religious leader [7]. Additionally, nezer is the Hebrew word for "diadem", a royal or semi-royal emblem in almost all cultures. Yet Albright fails to draw the obvious conclusion from this. The phrase Ba'li manzer Suraya, which Albright translates as "Ba'li-Manzer the Tyrian", may also be translated as "Baal, manzer of the Tyrians" [8].

Is there a case in Tyrian history when a religious official would have been in a position to pay tribute to a conquering army? Ithobal, the biblical Ethbaal, father of Jezebel, was a priest of Astarte before he killed Phales and took the throne [9]. "Baal" could easily be a shortened form of "Eth-Baal". However it is unlikely that the father-in-law of Ahab would still be around at the time of Jehu and, in any case, once he took the throne there is no reason why he would not have been recorded as "king of the Tyrians". If we are looking for a religious official with near-royal power but who was not a king himself, we have only one candidate: Sicharbas the priest, the husband of Elissa.

When king Mattan-Baal died, the succession was inherited jointly by Pygmalion and Elissa. The former was ten years old and the latter married her uncle, the priest Sicharbas. Pygmalion killed his uncle for reasons having to do with money - we are told that he coveted his wealth - and Elissa fled the city to found a colony in North Africa, which she named Carthage (Kart-Hadsht, "New City"). The name Sicharbas has been interpreted as Zikar-Baal, a name attested in Byblos at the time of Wenamun (early 21st Dynasty Egypt) [10]. This name could have been shortened to Baal in the Assyrian records and we would not expect him to be called "king of the Tyrians".

The chronology gives us little problem. Josephus provides us with a synchronism between the fourth year of Solomon, when he began work on the Temple and the twelfth year of Hiram [11]. With the reign lengths of all the Tyrian kings from Hiram to Pygmalion, which he also gives us, we reach the accession of Pygmalion in either the twentieth or twenty eighth year of Shalmaneser [12], depending on whether Tyre used the Egyptian non-accession year method or the Mesopotamian accession year method to count regnal years [13] but this is a small difference. There exist variants in the reigns of Baalbazer and Baalazor [14] which would set the seventh year of Pygmalion and the flight of Elissa in Shalmaneser's nineteenth or twenty seventh year.

It might be suggested that the real reason for Pygmalion's murder of Sicharbas was that Sicharbas had sent tribute to Shalmaneser III. Pygmalion may have been opposed to yielding to Assyria and perhaps he was even more opposed to Sicharbas yielding to Assyria on his behalf. If this is so, Elissa's departure might be dated to Shalmaneser's nineteenth year, which is dated to 870/69 BC [15]. We do not know how long after her departure Carthage was actually founded and Josephus's conclusion that it was founded in the year of her flight is clearly his own conjecture.

What are the implications of all this for the revised chronology? Donovan Courville and the late Bronson Feldman have both suggested that the Abimilki king of Tyre in the Amarna letters was Pygmalion [16]. They cite the phonetic similarity and Feldman adds a suggestion that the name was an intentional sarcasm derived from the Greek pygmaion, from which the word "pygmy" is derived. Peter James, responding to Feldman's article [17], rejected the equation primarily on the basis of the "Baal-Manzer" of Shalmaneser's annals, whom he equates with Baalazor. As we have seen, this objection is groundless.

If Pygmalion was Abimilki, a loyal servant of Egypt, we might understand better why he would kill his uncle for paying tribute to Assyria. Sicharbas may well have decided that it was wiser to give allegiance to a powerful and dangerous Assyria than to a toothless Egypt. From the tone of his letters, it is doubtful that Abimilki would have agreed.

Another synchronism may tighten the connection between Abimilki and the eighteenth year of Shalmaneser III. In EA 154, Abimilki mentions one Yawa, a name which is phonetically identical with Yaua, by which name Jehu is mentioned by Shalmaneser [18]. EA 230 is a letter to Pharaoh from Yama, identified by Mercer with the Yawa mentioned in EA 154 (he cites the common m/w shift in Akkadian).

The letter begins:

"Say to the king, my lord
Thus says Yama, your servant
At your feet I fall down
Behold, I am your servant."

At no time does he refer to the king as "my god" or "my sun" or other such idolatrous statements [19]. This would be expected from the biblical Jehu, who destroyed the Baal worshipers in North Israel.

To conclude, we have the following information. The twenty eight year reign of Jehu began in the eighteenth year of Shalmaneser III [20]. In that same year, Shalmaneser mentions Baal, manzer-priest of the Tyrians, who can only be Zikar-Baal, or Sicharbas, uncle and brother-in-law of Pygmalion, whom Pygmalion killed shortly before the seventh year of his forty-seven year reign. Clearly, Pygmalion was king of Tyre for the whole of Jehu's reign. Abimilki of Tyre mentions Jehu by name. Even if the phonetic connection between Abimilki and Pygmalion was invalid (and I do not believe this to be the case), the historical information requires their identification.

Based on the above, we can put dates to the kings of Tyre as in the tabel below (note that the year of each king's accession counts as his first year; these dates are based on my The Jerusalem Chronology of the Israelite Monarchies, which pushes Shalmaneser III back by thirty years):

King of Tyre years from to
Abibaal ? ? 1008
Hiram 34 1008 975
Baalbazer 7 975 969
Abdastratus 9 969 961
Methusastartus   12 961 950
Astharymus 9 950 942
Phales 8 mo. 942
Ethbaal 32 942 911
Baalazor 8 911 904
Mattan-Baal 29 904 876
Abimilki 47 876 830

It is worth noting that in Shalmaneser's sixth year, at the Battle of Karkar, he faced a coalition which included a king Matinu-Ba'lu who came with troops from Arvad. Tyre is strangely absent from Shalmaneser's list of opponents at this battle. Yet Mattan-Baal was king of Tyre at this time (883 BC) and might well have been in a position to levy troops from Arvad.

References and Footnotes

[1] Fuad Safar, "A Further Text of Shalmaneser III", Sumer VII (1951), pp. 3-21. return to text

[2] D.D. Luckenbill, The Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, volume I, p. 243. return to text

[3] Safar op.cit., p. 11. return to text

[4] Flavius Josephus, Contra Apionem, Book I, Chapter 18. return to text

[5] W. F. Albright, "The New Assyro-Tyrian Synchronism and the Chronology of Tyre", l'Annuaire de l'Institut de Philologie et d'Histoire Orientales et Slaves, tome XIII (1953), pp. 1-9. return to text

[6] ibid., p. 4. return to text

[7] Genesis 49:26 for nazir as "elect" or "leader"; Nahum 3:17 uses the form minzar, consonantally identical to manzer. return to text

[8] Safar (op.cit., p. 19) translates the passage in question as: "The tribute of Ba'li-ma-AN-zeri, the Tyrians, (and) of Jehu the son of Omri, I received". The lack of the word "of" (ša) before Suraya makes this translation unlikely. return to text

[9] Josephus op.cit. return to text

[10] J. B. Pritchard, Ancient Near East Texts Relating to the Old Testament, pp. 25-29. return to text

[11] Josephus op.cit. return to text

[12] Brad Aaronson, The Jerusalem Chronology of the Israelite Monarchies (JCIM), Tables A and D and Addendum. The eighteenth year of Shalmaneser III is one hundred and twenty-six years after Solomon's fourth year. The numbers given by Josephus are the remainder of Hiram's reign (34 - 12 = 22 years), Baalbazer (17 years), Abdastratus (9 years), Methusastartus (12 years), Astharymus (9 years), Phales (8 months), Ethbaal (32 years), Baalazor (6 years), Mattan-Baal (29 years), and the first seven years of Pygmalion's reign. The sum is either 22 + 16 + 8 + 11 + 8 + 31 + 5 + 28 + 6 = 135 years, or 22 + 17 + 9 + 12 + 9 + 32 + 6 + 29 + 7 = 143 years. return to text

[13] Albright (op.cit., p. 7) notes that "it is scarcely likely that the Tyrian kings of this early period followed the antedating system of Mesopotamia" but declines to correct Josephus's addition. return to text

[14] Albright, op.cit., pp. 6-7. We find variants of 7 years for Baalbazer and 8 years for Baalazor. return to text

[15] According to the correction of Assyrian chronology (the addition of the reign of Pul), as set forth in the JCIM.

The great variation among the traditional dates for the founding of Carthage - 814 (Timaeus), 825 (Trogus Pompeius), 846 (Appian) - gives us good reason to doubt the accuracy of any of them. Feldman suggested (op.cit., p. 80) that these may have dated from some later event, such as the founding of the council of Suffetes, the Chieftains or Judges of the city. In addition, we have no idea how much time passed between the flight of Elissa and the actual founding of Carthage. return to text

[16] Donovan Courville, The Exodus Problem and Its Ramifications, volume II, pp. 320-321 and Bronson Feldman, "Pygmalion, Prince of Tyre and the el-Amarna Correspondence", Kronos II:1 (1976), pp. 76-88. The two names match phonetically thus:

  A  B  I  -  M  I  L  K  I
     P  Y  G  M  A  L     I  O  N
The Greek ending "-on" is the same as in Straton (Astarte), and B/P and G/K are simply voiced/unvoiced pairs which often switch. All that is left is a simple metathesis of the G/K. The Greeks tended to drop initial vowels in transliteration (again, Straton is a useful example) and it is to be expected that consonants preceded by vowels would be voiced while those preceded by consonants would be unvoiced. return to text

[17] Peter J. James, Kronos IV:1 (1978), pp. 45-55. return to text

[18] Suggestions that this name should be read Yaw = Jeho(ram) do not make sense. The Hebrew YHW' (Jehu) differs from the Tetragrammaton JHVH only by the last consonant, which is silent in both cases. It is possible that the Masoretes intentionally altered the vocalisation of Jehu's name lest readers come too close to pronouncing the sacred Tetragrammaton. return to text

[19] A similar claim was made by Velikovsky for Abdi-Taba (or Abdi-Hiba) of Jerusalem when he attempted to identify this king with Jehoshaphat (cf. Ages in Chaos pp. 290f). As has since been pointed out by Peter James ("The Dating of the El-Amarna Letters", SIS Review 2:3, p. 81), though, Abdi-Taba's correspondence abounds with idolatrous references. Yawa's letter, however, actually is "clean". return to text

[20] op.cit., Aaronson, pp. 16-17 and Addendum. return to text

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