Sunday, March 3, 2013

Lachish reliefs

Lachish reliefs in British Museum
Image bibleplaces

God of Israel is not "only" Creator but also God of history. In fact, Jewish Bible contains much more text in the history books than in the stories of creation. God's interest in human history is a deep matter but one aspect is the existence of extra-Biblical materials about crucial events and times in the long story of His people.

For example, the authentic memoirs  in the Story of Sinuhe illuminates the background of the Patriarchal narratives. Similarly, the father of history, Herodotos, talks about Persian period Gazza. Josephus gives in his Antiquities a complementary account of the life and times in the Kingdom of the Herods and in Jewish Wars particularly detailed account of the Jewish Revolt so intimately related with New Testament times and Messianic tensions.

The lack of any Jewish historical sources about the Bar Kochba Revolt during emperor Hadrian's rule is considered by many as a reflection of the utter darkness and lack of hope in the major catastrophe that almost totally ended two thousand years of Hebrew presence in the Promised Land.

For the crucial and horrible Assyrian period that is so important for the understanding of the Prophets of Israel and Judea we have photographic quality evidence in the Lachish reliefs. The artists were present following Sanherib's army. The great king was himself following the battle of Lachish. He was apparently  so proud of that particular conquest of a double walled city that a relief describing the progress of the war was made covering the walls of an entire room in his palace at Nineveh.

Today, the Lachish Reliefs are a priced trophy of the British Museum exhibited in the Lachish Room near the entrance to the building.

For an authentic eye-witness view of the architecture, weapons, clothing, means of transportation, war practices, the Assyrian ramp (which has survived) study the Lachish reliefs. With photographic accuracy and reliability they take you to the world at the times following king Jerobeam II, the time of the Assyrian conquest and prophet Isaiah.

The world, that the Book of Jonah remembers with shiver.

IMHO the Assyrian destruction of the Northern Kingdom gives better psychological and theological background to the Book of Jonah than the nationalistic tendencies in post-Exilic Judea visible in the books of Esra and Nehemia.

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