Zimri-lim’s Mari Palace and King Solomon

Wall mural from the Babylonian city of Mari showing the home of the gods.  In the top panel is an unidentified god; possibly An, the god of heaven, or Utu, the god of the sun. On the upper right is a winged bullman. Bottom panel: Enlil, the chief god of earth, is attended by a minor female goddess (shown wearing a horned helmet) and by two kings wearing shepherds' hats. Wind pours out of a jar, signifying that Enlil is the god of the winds that bring life-giving rains.



Damien F. Mackey  




The Mari palace of Zimri-Lim, biblical “Rezon” and some time foe of King Solomon,

may show evidence of Genesis (Garden of Eden) and Solomonic (Temple) imagery.





If Hammurabi were, as the biblical artisan, Huram-abi, involved in the technical enhancement of Solomon’s architecture, then we might expect that the contemporary palace of Mari, belonging to Zimri-Lim (see my):


Hammurabi and Zimri-Lim as Contemporaries of Solomon



would exhibit some degree of Solomonic influence. Accordingly, one will read at: http://publications.mi.byu.edu/publications/studies/4/S00001-507d876e576a3Bradshaw.pdf


A number of scholars have found parallels in the layout of the trees in the Garden of Eden and certain features of Israelite sanctuaries.75 Significantly, the holiest places within the temples of Solomon and of Ezekiel’s vision were decorated with palms.76 Indeed, the holy of holies in Solomon’s temple contained not only one but many palm trees and pillars, which Terje Stordalen says can represent “a kind of stylised forest.” 77 The angels on its walls may have represented God’s heavenly council,78 mirrored on earth by those who have attained “angelic” status through the rites of inves­titure. Such an interpretation recalls the statues of gods mingling with divinized kings in the innermost sanctuary of the Mari pal­ace.79


And again at: http://cojs.org/jerusalem_as_eden-_lawrence_e-_stager-_bar_26-03-_may-jun_2000/


On the mountain of Yahweh, Mt. Zion,a the indissoluble triad of creation, kingship and Temple find their most profound visual and literary expression. Nowhere in ancient Near Eastern art is this triad more brilliantly illustrated than in the wall paintings of the Old Babylonian palace at Mari, built almost a millennium before [sic] Solomon’s palace and Temple in Jerusalem. In the palace at Mari, located on the banks of the Euphrates, in modern Syria, a large, sunlit courtyard decorated with wall paintings led into a vestibule in front of the king’s throne room. The courtyard enclosed a garden of live potted palm trees. According to one scholar, a tall, ornamental but artificial palm tree stood in the middle of the garden (compare the location of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden). This artificial tree had a wooden core and was plated with bronze and silver leaf.4 At eye level, just to the right of the doorway leading from the courtyard to the vestibule of the throne room, a large wall painting portrayed the relationship of divinity, royalty and creation. Luxuriant orchards and fantastic creatures surround the building in which the investiture of the king is taking place. In the upper register of the central panel, the goddess Ishtar as warrior, with weapons strapped to her shoulders, scimitar in one hand and “the ring and the rod” in the other, presents the emblems of authority to the king. Ishtar rests one foot on a recumbent lion, her emblem. Three other deities witness the ceremony. In the register below, two lesser goddesses hold vases from which four streams of water flow and vegetation sprouts. The setting for the ceremony is a paradise garden with date palms and stylized papyrus stalks. Guarding the garden and the palace are winged sphinxes, griffins and bulls. At the outer edges of the scene, two goddesses of high rank stand with upraised arms—a gesture of protection for all within the garden precincts.

[End of quotes]


I would suggest that the above would be only the tip of the iceberg of potential similarities between the religious imagery of the Mari era (revised) and that of the Solomonic era.

Huram-Abi King of Artisans

 Hiram Abiff with Jachin & Boaz


Damien F. Mackey



Explores the possibility that the biblical Huram-abi was King Hammurabi.



Abrahamic Connection


Hammurabi’s possible Amorite ancestry, tracing back to Abraham, might account for why we have been finding that the great king had been so influenced by Hebrew Law and protocol.

Herb Storck has shown, in an important article “The Early Assyrian King List … and the ‘Greater Amorite’ Tradition” (Proc. of the 3rd Seminar of Catastrophism & Ancient History, C & AH Press, Toronto, 1986, p. 43), that there is a genealogical link among:


(i) Abraham;

(ii) the genealogy of king Hammurabi; and

(iii) the Assyrian King List.


Storck commences his article with the following explanation:

The Assyrian Kinglist (AKL) is one of the most important chronographic texts ever uncovered. Initially it was thought to represent a long unbroken tradition of rulership over Assyria. A closer look at the AKL by Benno Landsberger (1890-1968) … however, dispelled this somewhat facile approach to AKL tradition. Subsequent studies by Kraus … and Finkelstein … have demonstrated a common underlying Amorite tradition between parts of the AKL and the Genealogy of Hammurapi (GHD). Portions of this section of the AKL containing 17 tent-dwelling kings have also been compared to biblical … and Ugaritic … Amorite traditions.


Storck’s purpose will be “to take a closer look at the 17 Assyrian tent dwellers and the greater Amorite tradition, as evidenced primarily in the genealogy of the Hammurapi [Hammurabi] Dynasty and other minor traditions”. The names of all 17 tent-dwelling kings are preserved in various lists. What is striking is that many of these names can be linked with names in the GHD, which gives the names in couplet form. Thus, for example, names 3 and 4, Janqi (Janqu) and Sahlamu are given in GHD as Ya-am-qu-us-ha-lam-ma. Name 11, Zuabu, may be connected with Sumuabi, an ancestor of Hammurabi. Thus Storck:

Poebel sought to connect the name with Su-mu-a-bi, the name of the first king of the first dynasty of Babylon, even though in our list it is written with the sign ZU. …. Kraus, however, expressed his personal doubts as to whether this would work …. But in a recently published fragment of this portion of the AKL (E) this name was indeed written with an initial SU for ZU, thus supporting Poebel’s contention somewhat. “Nevertheless, the genealogy edited by J.J. Finkelstein has Zu-um-ma-bu in the apparently parallel line, hinting that the reverse may be the case. The presence of ma as restored eases the interpretation of the name Sumu-abu” ….


Storck concluded the first part of his study by claiming that: “Nine of the 17 tent-dwelling AKL kings can reasonably be identified with GHD ancestors of Hammurapi. This would appear to be sufficient to establish that these two genealogies drew upon a common ‘Amorite’ tradition”.

That there was still that nomadic inclination within the kings of the Hammurabic era may perhaps be gleaned from the fact that Shamsi-Adad I of that time had no really fixed capital, but moved from place to place.

And we have found that Iarim-Lim (Hiram), though stationed in the west, had a political reach that extended all the way to Elam.


Who Was Hammurabi?


Who, then, was this Hammurabi, likely a non-indigenous ruler of Babylon, of Amorite, or northern Canaanite background, who had deepy absorbed Hebrew traditions and culture, and who was contemporaneous with the biblical King Hiram (Iarim-Lim) and, hence, with David and Solomon of Israel?

The most likely candidate for Hammurabi, I now think, would be that famous biblical artisan of very similar name, Huram-abi (Hiram-abi) – the fabled Hiram Abiff of the Freemasons – who was probably somewhat younger than King David, but older than King Solomon.

King Hiram had told Solomon (2 Chronicles 2:13-14):


‘I am sending you Huram-Abi, a man of great skill, whose mother was from Dan and whose father was from Tyre. He is trained to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, and with purple and blue and crimson yarn and fine linen. He is experienced in all kinds of engraving and can execute any design given to him. He will work with your skilled workers and with those of my lord, David your father’.


From I Kings 7:13, it appears that Huram-abi was located in Tyre at the time: “King Solomon sent to Tyre and brought Huram …”. Tyre would, of course, be a geographical problem obstructing an identification of Huram-abi with Hammurabi the king of Babylon.

Could he have become king of Babylon later? That is only surmise. But also see comments above re Shamsi-Adad I’s nomadic tendencies and Iarim-Lim’s power. Plus, our knowledge of Hammurabi’s Babylon is seriously disadvantaged by the high water table in Babylon at that archaeological level, preventing excavation.

I Kings 7:14 gives a variation on 2 Chronicles’ account of Huram-abi’s mother, “from Dan”, by telling us that his “mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali”.

That Huram-abi was a man with the technical skills necessary to assist King Solomon is abundantly apparent from the continuing narrative of I Kings 14:14-50:


Huram was filled with wisdom, with understanding and with knowledge to do all kinds of bronze work. He came to King Solomon and did all the work assigned to him.

He cast two bronze pillars, each eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits in circumference. He also made two capitals of cast bronze to set on the tops of the pillars; each capital was five cubits high. A network of interwoven chains adorned the capitals on top of the pillars, seven for each capital. He made pomegranates in two rows encircling each network to decorate the capitals on top of the pillars. He did the same for each capital. The capitals on top of the pillars in the portico were in the shape of lilies, four cubits high. On the capitals of both pillars, above the bowl-shaped part next to the network, were the two hundred pomegranates in rows all around. He erected the pillars at the portico of the Temple. The pillar to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz. The capitals on top were in the shape of lilies. And so the work on the pillars was completed.

He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. Below the rim, gourds encircled it—ten to a cubit. The gourds were cast in two rows in one piece with the Sea.

The Sea stood on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east. The Sea rested on top of them, and their hindquarters were toward the center. It was a handbreadth in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It held two thousand baths.

He also made ten movable stands of bronze; each was four cubits long, four wide and three high. This is how the stands were made: They had side panels attached to uprights. On the panels between the uprights were lions, bulls and cherubim—and on the uprights as well. Above and below the lions and bulls were wreaths of hammered work. Each stand had four bronze wheels with bronze axles, and each had a basin resting on four supports, cast with wreaths on each side. On the inside of the stand there was an opening that had a circular frame one cubit deep. This opening was round, and with its basework it measured a cubit and a half. Around its opening there was engraving. The panels of the stands were square, not round. The four wheels were under the panels, and the axles of the wheels were attached to the stand. The diameter of each wheel was a cubit and a half. The wheels were made like chariot wheels; the axles, rims, spokes and hubs were all of cast metal. Each stand had four handles, one on each corner, projecting from the stand. At the top of the stand there was a circular band half a cubit deep. The supports and panels were attached to the top of the stand. He engraved cherubim, lions and palm trees on the surfaces of the supports and on the panels, in every available space, with wreaths all around. This is the way he made the ten stands. They were all cast in the same molds and were identical in size and shape.

He then made ten bronze basins, each holding forty baths and measuring four cubits across, one basin to go on each of the ten stands. He placed five of the stands on the south side of the Temple and five on the north. He placed the Sea on the south side, at the southeast corner of the Temple. He also made the pots and shovels and sprinkling bowls.

So Huram finished all the work he had undertaken for King Solomon in the Temple of the Lord:


the two pillars;

the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;

the two sets of network decorating the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;

the four hundred pomegranates for the two sets of network (two rows of pomegranates for each network decorating the bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars);

the ten stands with their ten basins;

the Sea and the twelve bulls under it;

the pots, shovels and sprinkling bowls.

All these objects that Huram made for King Solomon for the Temple of the Lord were of burnished bronze. The king had them cast in clay molds in the plain of the Jordan between Sukkoth and Zarethan. Solomon left all these things unweighed, because there were so many; the weight of the bronze was not determined.

Solomon also made all the furnishings that were in the Lord’s Temple:

the golden altar;

the golden table on which was the bread of the Presence;

the lampstands of pure gold (five on the right and five on the left, in front of the inner sanctuary);

the gold floral work and lamps and tongs;

the pure gold basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and censers;

and the gold sockets for the doors of the innermost room, the Most Holy Place, and also for the doors of the main hall of the Temple.


If Hammurabi were Huram-abi, then it would be no wonder that he dealt in bonze and that he favoured artisans and craftsmen, and that he imported his wood from Lebanon (http://www.fsmitha.com/h1/ch03-ham.htm):


Babylon was a city where trade routes crossed. Under Hammurabi it became a bronze-age city of commerce and agriculture. It was a city with skilled artisans, architects, bricklayers and businessmen, with an efficient secular administration and a chain of command. The city was at the hub of an intricate network of canals. It was surrounded by great fields of barley, melons, fruit trees and the wheat the Babylonians used in making unleavened, pancake-like bread. From their barley, the Babylonians made beer. They sheared wool from their flocks of sheep. And they imported wood from Lebanon and metals from Persia.


Hammurabi was a king of artisans: (https://prezi.com/uuaatljvjity/ancient-mesopotamia/): “Hammurabi had artisans carve almost 300 laws into a stone stele. This writing is now known as Hammurabi’s code”, with rules for artisans:


  1. If an artisan take a son for adoption and teach him his handicraft, one may not bring claim for him.


  1. If he do not teach him his handicraft, that adopted son may return to his father’s house.


  1. If a man hire an artisan, the wage of a … is 5 SE of silver; the wage of a brickmaker (?) is 5 SE of silver; the wage of a tailor is 5 SE of silver; the wage of a … is … SE of silver; the wage of a … is … SE of silver; the wage of a … is … SE of silver; the wage of a carpenter is 4 SE of silver; the wage of a (?) is 4 SE of silver; the wage of a (?) is … SE of silver; the wage of a mason is … SE of silver; so much per day shall he pay.


According to: http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/txt/ah/Assyria/Hammurabi.html “craftsmen” (artisans) occupied the highest class in Babylon:


The Code contemplates the whole population as falling into three classes, the amelu, the muskinu and the ardu. The amelu was a patrician, the man of family, whose birth, marriage and death were registered, of ancestral estates and full civil rights. He had aristocratic privileges and responsibilities, the right to exact retaliation for corporal injuries, and liability to heavier punishment for crimes and misdemeanours, higher fees and fines to pay. To this class belonged the king and court, the higher officials, the professions and craftsmen.


  1. van de Mieroop (The Ancient Mesopotamian City, p. 179) writes of ‘most craftsmen being employed by palaces and temples’ (reminiscent of the case of Solomon and Huram-abi):


The specialized class of artisans needed to be exempt from the tasks of primary food production, and this was only possible in an urban economy. It is clear that craft specialization took place in the early stages of the development of urban society, and that the sustainable size of the class of craftsmen was directly related to the size of the urban economy. It is often stated in current literature that, at least until the late second millennium Bc [sic], most craftsmen were employed by the central institutions of palace and temples, as only these rich organizations were able to support them ….

Favourite Wife of King Solomon



Damien F. Mackey


“Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh:

Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women …”.

 I Kings 11:1


In an intriguing article, “The Song of Songs Revealed — Chapter 6”, found at:


the author refers to four supposedly individual women associated with King Solomon, “Abishag the Shulamite” whom he later refers to, confusingly, as “Abishag the Shunammite”; “Pharaoh’s daughter”; “the Queen of Sheba”; and “Shulamith”:



  1. “King Solomon” in the Song of Songs


Solomon is called king several times in the Song — which has led to endless confusion as to its dating, authorship and subject matter. This is largely because the romance in the Song itself seems taken out of context. Solomon’s romantic interests are never mentioned in the royal chronicles. His implied right to Abishag the Shulamite (technically his father’s concubine), his political marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter, his reception of the Queen of Sheba, and his royal harem (according to one source, the third largest in recorded history) are all mentioned — but never his attachment in true Love to any of these women. Shulamith, overtly, seems to fits nowhere into Solomon’s regal sexuality.

Of course (as we will see), this does not stop commentators from trying to attach Shulamith’s name to Abishag, Pharaoh’s daughter, the Queen of Sheba, or even to an otherwise unknown member of Solomon’s harem. This effort is based on a false assumption — one disproved by the Song’s original melos, in the context of the full biblical background to Solomon’s reign.

[End of quote]


How many women are really involved here?

My proposal is that only one woman is actually intended amongst all of these various biblical designations. The reader will find my full account of this in the following revised series for Academia.edu:


Abishag Rising




This new series, most heavily reliant upon the use of alter egos, will explore Abishag pairings with the “Shunammite” of the “Song of Solomon” and Tamar, daughter of King David; with “the Queen of the South”/“Queen of Sheba”; and also with – now including the Egyptian link – “Pharaoh’s daughter” as Queen (and Pharaoh) Hatshepsut.


Abishag Rising. Part Two: Just Abishag


Abishag: “… a beautiful young woman … a Shunammite” (I Kings 1:3).


Abishag Rising. Part Three (i): Rape of Tamar


Tamar: “Now David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar” (2 Samuel 13:1).


Abishag Rising. Part Three (ii): Tamar – what becomes of the broken- hearted


Shunammite: “… fairest among women” (Song of Solomon 1:8).


Abishag Rising. Part Three (iii): Grandfather and Mother of Tamar


2 Samuel 13:37, 38: “Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur … he stayed there three years”. This Part Three (iii) will be a bridge, connecting Tamar – a princess of Israel – (and Absalom) to other royal connections in “the south”, to be considered fully in Part Four.


Abishag Rising. Part Four (i): Daughter of Pharaoh


Pharaoh’s Daughter: ” Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter ” (I Kings 3:1).


Abishag Rising. Part Four (ii): The Queen of Sheba


Queen of Sheba: “King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for …” (I Kings 10:13).


Abishag Rising. Part Five: As Hatshepsut


Hatshepsut: Whose name means “foremost of noble women”.

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When I Kings 1:3 tells, in relation to King David’s affliction in old age: “So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel”, I take this to mean that only beautiful girls of royal blood would be intended here. Thus I have further argued that Abishag (Hatshepsut/Sheba) was the virginal beauty, Tamar, daughter of King David and sister of Absalom.

King David, ever so indulgent towards his sons, may have proved, in his apparent senility, to have been a poor guardian of Abishag, if she were also the virginal Tamar, sister of Absalom; the girl having been raped by David’s oldest son, Amnon, whilst David was still alive.

Young Abishag (Tamar) was, as we read above, “technically [Solomon’s] father’s concubine”.

The Egyptian element may recur here again, for what might be done in Egypt, ‘such a thing’, the girl Tamar says, ‘is not done in Israel’ (2 Samuel 13: 10, 11-12):


Then Amnon said to Tamar, ‘Come, lie with me, my sister’.

She answered him, ‘No, my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this wanton folly. As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the wanton fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray you, speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you’.


The intriguing thing here, needing explanation, is that such a thing as is not done is Israel might nonetheless receive David’s approval if asked for. And this girl would have known intimately (so to speak) the mind of King David her father.

There is a lot to be read between the lines in this drama.

Hatshepsut (pharaoh’s daughter)/Sheba/Abishag/Tamar, hailing from Shunem, had been wooed by the young Solomon even whilst David and the king’s older sons were still alive. But, after Absalom’s rebellion and death, she, his sister, may have gone to the kingdom of Geshur, from whence she would later return, to marry king Solomon.

With this scenario in mind, the Song of Songs may reflect two distinct phases, pre-marriage and marital, in the lives of the two lovers.

Later, again, she would leave Jerusalem to dwell in Egypt/Ethiopia in order to rule there as Pharaoh Hatshepsut Maatkare.

The “Song of Songs Revealed” article continues, complicating matters by apparently splitting Abishag the Shunammite (i.e., from Shunem) from the Shunammite (still Abishag) of the Song of Songs, who is also rendered as Shulammite (or Shulamith) which is sometimes translated as Solomon-ite:


When Did Solomon Marry Shulamith?


If Proverbs represents Solomon the middle-aged father, and Ecclesiastes represents Solomon the disillusioned elder, the Song of Songs represents Solomon the young man. Its perfect balance between intense sexuality and idealistic spirituality suggests a median age between 20 and 30. It is not for nothing that the years between 24 and 26 are often recommended (for men) as the best age for marriage.


Solomon made a political marriage with Pharaoh’s daughter soon after he ruled in David’s stead, after his kingdom was “firmly established” and some time before his fourth year (1 Kings 2:46; 3:1; 6:1). ….

Indeed, this was a young Solomon.


However, the acute tension of the Song of Songs in places, with the young man being unable at first to gain proper access to the girl, and her being beaten and persecuted by her brothers, and being made to labour, perhaps recalling her plea to Amnon: ‘As for me, where could I carry my shame?’, gives a lie to any scenario of pure unfettered idyll.

The article continues now in quite reasonable fashion:


Solomon the Young Lover


…. Barring proof to the contrary, then, we think that Solomon married Shulamith in his early to mid-twenties. We think too that Solomon wrote the Song itself before he was thirty years old; like the music of the young Mozart, the Song has the stamp of youthful genius. Such qualities are not found in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes or the sagacious Psalm 127 (the latter probably written when Solomon had become a father of several children). Like these other works, though, the Song of Songs has the flavor of being written “on the spot” — shortly after Solomon experienced the events he describes. ….



In the next passage the author re-presents, all as potentially separate individuals, who I believe to be just the one young female lover:


Who Did Solomon Marry?


Who then is the Dear One? Even those who hold that the Song is a unified work differ among themselves. Some few suggest Pharaoh’s daughter, citing Shulamith’s “black” skin and dark hair as proof (Song 1:5-6; 7:5). Some suggest the Queen of Sheba, who alone seems (to some) a mental and social “match” for Solomon; others, the lovely Abishag the Shunammite (1 Kings 1:3-4). Still others say that Shulamith was none of these, but a country shepherdess not elsewhere mentioned in the Bible.


The ‘Dear One’ cannot be the Queen of Sheba according to the article:


A Queen, a Princess, and a Concubine


The oft-alleged, oft-celebrated love between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba seems to us apocryphal. 1 Kings 10:13 and 2 Chronicles 9:12 tell us the Queen returned to Sheba, something she would not have done were she wedded to Solomon.


Dr. Ed (Ewald) Metzler, however, argues that this “returned” constituted a divorce after about a ten-year period of marriage.

The article continues, ruling out Pharaoh’s daughter. Though the Egyptian element continues to linger with the comparison of the ‘Dear One’ to a “a mare of Pharaoh’s chariots”:


Pharaoh’s daughter became Solomon’s wife (via a political alliance) after Solomon became sole regent, a time which does not fit the freedom from royal responsibility which the Song implies. Again, Pharaoh’s daughter would know little or nothing of Israelite country life, especially since she lived in the city of David (1 Kings 3:1). Certainly she would not require Israelite artisans to make jewels for her (cf. Song 1:10-11)!

Moreover, Pharaoh’s daughter is not cited with approval by the Chronicler, who writes from the perspective of true religion (1 Kings 11:1). Moreover, such a woman (more because of her unconversion than her Gentile heritage) would not be a fitting type of God’s people, the kehal ha’Elohim.

And so the reference to “a mare of Pharaoh’s chariots” (Song 1:9) is no proof of Shulamith’s Egyptian origin (though it confirms young Solomon was a well-traveled man, or at least a well-heeled one).

Solomon’s politically “wise” (but spiritually foolish) marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter began the long series of marriages which netted him 700 wives and 300 concubines — the women who eventually turned Solomon’s heart from YehaVeh (1 Kings 11:14; cf. Ecclesiastes 7:26-28). All these marriages had a political background (it is generally conceded), however much “Solomon clung to these in love” (le’ahava, “to love” in the sense of sexual infatuation; cf. 1 Kings 11:2; Ecclesiastes 2:8, NIV)…. All of these women were non-Israelites (and pagans); none of them are possible candidates as the Dear One.


A somewhat more favourable candidate for the ‘Dear One’, according to the article, is Abishag:


Abishag the Shunammite has much in her favor, beginning with the similarity between “the Shulamith” (haShulamit) and “the Shunammite” (haShunamit). Yet a closer similarity lies between the names of Solomon (shelomo) and Shulamith, both taken from shalom (“peace”).

Abishag, chosen out of all Israel for her youthful beauty, was the “Miss Israel” of her day. As she was King David’s concubine (even if the king “knew her not”), a claim to her by one of David’s sons would imply that this son was the rightful heir to the throne. It was just such a request to marry Abishag by Adonijah that cost him his life at Solomon’s command (1 Kings 2:13-25).

Roberta Kells Dorr has written a very beautiful historical novel, Solomon’s Song, based on the assumption that Shulamith was Abishag the Shunammite. …. In Dorr’s rendition of events, Solomon married Abishag after he slew Adonijah. As plausible as the idea may seem, we must reject it — for it leads the commentator contrary to the indications of the Bible itself.


It is for this apparent reason that the author, favouring a total idyll, will proceed to reject Abishag as well:


Why Abishag is Not Shulamith


First, the time immediately after David’s death (when Solomon was forced to confirm his throne with strong political action) simply does not fit the relaxed [sic] circumstances described in the Song of Songs. The Song implies Solomon was still looking forward to his full kingship when he married Shulamith (Song 6:12). (To be fair, only the original melody could prove that this verse is spoken by Solomon, not Shulamith, or that it shows him looking forward to anything.)

Moreover, Solomon could reasonably have married Abishag shortly after David’s death (even before he slew Adonijah) out of political wisdom if not personal interest. Yet such a marriage is nowhere mentioned by the Chronicler, not even as an afterthought. Were Abishag the same as Shulamith, she would surely have been at least as important a personage as Pharaoh’s daughter or the Queen of Sheba (and loved far more than either). [sic] Instead, she is but a pawn in a political chess game (for which one can only pity her).

“Shunammite” means “an inhabitant of Shunem”, a town at the foot of Mt. Moreh on the northern edge of the Valley of Jezreel in northern Israel. The area would certainly fit some of the Song’s descriptions …. Moreover, Shunem was a regionally important town, an appropriate place for Solomon to meet his future bride.


The different geography that the author rightly goes on to note between Shunem and a more southerly desert is to be accounted for, according to my explanation above (“Abishag Rising”, by different phases and situations in the life of the royal princess:


Yet we find that Solomon’s wedding procession (after his visit to Shulamith’s “home town”) comes toward Jerusalem from the desert (haMidbar, Song 3:6): according to local usage, from the area east, not north of Jerusalem. (The same term is used in Song 8:5.) A procession from the Jezreel Valley would have come either over the main road in the hill country, or via Megiddo, then up the ascent from the coastal plains. A trip from Shunem eastward, then south through the Jordan Valley [sic], would needlessly expose the party to the hottest and most difficult possible journey.

Most important: Abishag was taken into the royal court before Solomon was made king; Shulamith, after (cf. 1 Kings 1:4, 15-17, 28-39 with Song 1:4). It cannot be King David who is taking Shulamith into his courts (where she would see Solomon for the first time) in Song 1:4; the “king” (in the musical context) is the Loved One. “The king has taken me into his chambers” marks a transition between Shulamith’s reactions upon first meeting Solomon and upon seeing him in his royal splendor “at home”. It certainly does not mark a “flash-forward” to the Lovers’ wedding night, as so many commentators have assumed.


She was a genuine princess, but was deeply humiliated by the incident with Amnon:


Shulamith is called a “prince’s daughter” by her admirers (Song 7:2, Hebrew versification). Though this was after her marriage as Solomon’s “queen”, the compliment no doubt was meant to reflect her beauty and bearing rather than her descent or original social status [sic]. Still, since Shulamith was made “keeper of the vineyards” by her brothers (Song 1:6), we may surmise her family owned a prosperous farm and vineyard near Mahanaim. Beyond that, the family no doubt “feared God, and kept His commandments”, and obtained blessings thereby (cf. Psalm 112).


As Queen of Sheba, though, her religious beliefs were somewhat ambivalent, it seems, at least by comparison with pure Davidic worship. Thus she would say to the now famous and much-glorified King Solomon (I Kings 10:9): “Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on his throne as king to rule for the LORD your God. Because of the love of your God for Israel and his desire to uphold them forever, he has made you king over them, to maintain justice and righteousness.”


“Your God”. Not My God?




Why Hatshepsut can be the ‘Queen of Sheba’



 Damien F. Mackey




Hatshepsut: Whose name means “foremost of noble women”.




Damien Mackey BPhil (1985), MA (1994), MA (2007) has two Master of Arts Degrees, from the University of Sydney (Australia). His first thesis ‘The Sothic Star Theory of the Egyptian Calendar’ (preceded by the study of Hieroglyphics at Macquarie University), scrutinized the documentary and astronomical basis of the conventional Egyptian dating. Mackey’s second thesis, ‘A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah and its Background’ (preceded by a year of ancient Hebrew study), was his attempt to develop a more acceptable alternative to the conventional chronology.





Patrick Clarke has recently written for the Journal of Creation two articles claiming that, contrary to Drs. Immanuel Velikovsky, Donovan Courville and David Down, and also Emmet Sweeney, the 18th dynasty pharaohs, Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, could not have been, respectively, the biblical ‘Queen of Sheba’, and ‘King Shishak of Egypt’.


Clarke has devoted a fair space in his ‘Hatshepsut’ article to pointing out Velikovsky’s apparent deficiencies, his lack of belief in the Scriptures (“who would not call himself a Bible-believer”), and his shortcomings in regard to ancient languages. But more suitably qualified scholars since (e.g. J. Bimson, P. James, D. Rohl) have also, basing themselves on Velikovsky’s



(i) rejection of Sothic theory, and


(ii) his lowering of the secular dates by several centuries,



arrived at revised systems more akin to Velikovsky’s original than to the conventional structure. Along the way, though, some of them, seemingly embarrassed by any suggestion of having been influenced by Velikovsky, will drop terms like ‘maverick’ and ‘wayward polymath’ with regard to him. Some will even claim their revision as a ‘New Chronology’.


Two points here. Firstly, ‘give credit where credit is due’; and, secondly, no need today to waste precious article space pointing out Velikovsky’s well-known deficiencies.



However, to dispose satisfactorily of Velikovsky’s 18th Egyptian dynasty reconstruction, complemented by that of Courville and others – all looming as a vast elabo-structure by now – it does not suffice for one simply to take pot-shots at three supposed ‘pillars’ (Clarke’s ‘all these pillars’ ) supporting this combination (namely, Hatshesput/Sheba and the sub-set of Punt, and Thutmose III/Shishak). There is to be considered a significant whole (some 200 years revised), with an underlying methodology. Thus:



(a) the significant Sothic theory, with resultant ‘Dark Ages’, that all leading revisionists reject – these, coupled with the ‘collection of rags and tatters’ admission of honest conventional Egyptology. And


(b) the correlations between the early 18th Egyptian dynasty and early Monarchy of Israel. Then, after


(c) the detailed theses of Hatshepsut, and


(d) Thutmose III, we arrive at


(e) the El-Amarna [EA] period with all of its many correlations with the Divided Monarchy (e.g. ‘Bit Šulman’, ‘House of Solomon’; ‘son of Zuchru’ and ‘son of Zichri’; captain Ianhamu as Syrian captain Naaman, the succession of Syrian kings, etc., etc).



Before some of the sharpest minds of the ‘Glasgow’ School to which Clarke refers went their own ways, some teaming up but then separating, they had, by modifying Velikovsky, brought the revision of the 18th dynasty to an impressive peak. Peter James showed that an excellent fit could be achieved by newly identifying EA’s idolatrous king of Jerusalem, Abdi-hiba, with King Jehoram of Judah, rather than with his pious father, Jehoshaphat, as according to Velikovsky. And Bimson, who had written impressively on the need for a revised stratigraphy, would later add a third Syrian king to Velikovsky’s EA succession of



(i) Abdi-ashirta = biblical Ben-Hadad I, and


(ii) Aziru = biblical Hazael; namely,


(iii) Du-Teshub, the post-EA son of Aziru, as Ben-Hadad II, thus further consolidating Velikovsky’s Syrian sequence for both EA and the mid-C9th BC.



And I still fully concur with James’s 1977/78 view re Abdi-ashirta and Aziru, that:



“With [these] two identifications [Velikovsky] seems to be on the firmest ground, in that we have a succession of two rulers, both of whom are characterised in the letters and the Scriptures as powerful rulers who made frequent armed excursions – and conquests – in the territories to the south of their own kingdom. In the letters their domain is described as “Amurru” – a term used, as Velikovsky has pointed out … by Shalmaneser III for Syria in general, the whole area being dominated by the two successive kings in “both” the el-Amarna period and the mid-9th century …”.



– so much so that these two kings became the very foundation of my thesis on the ‘Background’ section of the era of King Hezekiah of Judah.


Dr. Eva Danelius would also correct Velikovsky’s unconvincing geographical reconstruction of Thutmose III’s first campaign, which Velikovsky – though identifying it as the biblical foray, Shishak’s, nonetheless had it ending up at Megiddo in the north – by her showing that it was actually directed right at Jerusalem itself.



This (a-e above) is by now already a formidable package (and I have only just touched upon it). Some very solid ‘pillars’ indeed to be found here with a modified Velikovsky.


By contrast, the conventional chronology with its underlying stratigraphy has led to archaeologists systematically deleting ancient Israel (Moses; Exodus; Conquest; David, Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, etc.) from the history books … the leading Israeli archaeologist, Israel Finkelstein, was quoted as saying: “Now Solomon. I think I destroyed Solomon, so to speak. Sorry for that!” Not only Solomon, but all the others as well. That is because the likes of professor Finkelstein and his colleagues are always constrained by the erroneous Sothic chronology to look at the wrong strata for the Conquest, David and Solomon (Iron Age instead of Late Bronze Age in the latter case). Thanks to the conventional scheme, it is biblical history that is currently losing just about every battle.


And to set the 18th Egyptian dynasty back to somewhere near where the text books have it, in the c. C16th-C15th’s BC, then one is forced also to return to the standard view that it was Egyptian thought that had influenced the c. C10th BC biblical writings, instead of the other way around.



Clarke refers to “Liberal Christianity” in connection with Egyptologist Budge. Is it not this liberalism that always gives precedence to the pagan nations (e.g. the Mesopotamians and the Egyptians), by claiming that their myths and literature supposedly influenced the biblical texts? Thus we are told, for instance, that King David drew his inspiration for Psalm 104 from the ‘Sun Hymn’ of the heretic pharaoh, Akhnaton. All agree that these two texts are very similar in places. That is the wrong conclusion, however, if David preceded Akhnaton by more than a century as according to a Velikovskian context. Or they say that the Bible-like and sapiential writings of Hatshepsut, and the love poems of the 18th Egyptian dynasty, had influenced King Solomon’s writings. Some of Hatshepsut’s own inscriptions are clearly like those of Israel’s – especially Genesis, the Psalms and, most interestingly, the writings generally attributed to Solomon (Proverbs, Wisdom, Song of Songs). But that is just a further argument, I would suggest, in favour of the view that this great woman had visited him and had drunk in Solomon’s wisdom – Israel influencing Egypt, and not the other way around.

Here are just a few examples of:




Scriptural Influences on Hatshepsut




(i) An Image from Genesis




After Hatshepsut had completed her Punt expedition, she gathered her nobles and proclaimed the great things she had done. Hatshepsut reminded them of Amon’s oracle commanding her to ‘… establish for him a Punt in his house, to plant the trees of God’s Land beside his temple in his garden, according as he commanded’. At the conclusion of her speech there is further scriptural image ‘I have made for [Amon-Ra] a Punt in his garden at Thebes … it is big enough for him to walk about in’. J. Baikie noted that this is ‘a phrase which seems to take one back to the Book of Genesis and its picture of God walking in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening’. This inscription speaks of Amon-Ra’s love for Hatshepsut in terms almost identical to those used by the Queen of Sheba about the God of Israel’s love for Solomon and his nation.


Compare the italicised parts of Hatshepsut’s




‘… according to the command of … Amon … in order to bring for him the marvels of every country, because he so much loves the King of … Egypt, Maatkara [i.e. Hatshepsut], for his father Amen-Ra, Lord of Heaven, Lord of Earth, more than the other kings who have been in this land for ever …’.




with the italicised words in a song of praise spoken to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba ‘Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne as king for the Lord your God! Because your God loved Israel and would establish them for ever …’ (II Chronicles 98).




(ii) An Image from the Psalms




When Hatshepsut’s commemorative obelisks were com¬pleted, she had the usual formal words inscribed on them. However, Baikie states that, in language that ‘might have come straight out of the Book Psalms’, the queen continues:




‘I did it under [Amon-Ra’s] command; it was he who led me. I conceived no works without his doing …. I slept not because of his temple; I erred not from that which he commanded. … I entered into the affairs of his heart. I turned not my back on the City of the All-Lord; but turned to it the face. I know that Karnak is God’s dwelling upon earth; … the Place of his Heart; Which wears his beauty …’.




Baikie goes on, unaware that it really was the Psalms and the sapiential words of David and Solomon, that had influenced Hatshepsut’s prayer:




‘The sleepless eagerness of the queen for the glory of the temple of her god, and her assurance of the unspeakable sanctity of Karnak as the divine dwelling-place, find expression in almost the very words which the Psalmist used to express his … duty towards the habitation of the God of Israel, and his certainty of Zion’s sanctity as the abiding-place of Jehovah.




‘Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids. Until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.




– For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it’.’




(iii) An Image from Proverbs




In another related verse of the Punt reliefs about Amon-Ra leading the expedition to ‘the Myrrh-terraces … a glorious region of God’s Land’, the god speaks of creating the fabled Land of Punt in playful terms reminiscent of Solomon’s words about Wisdom’s playful rôle in the work of Creation (Proverbs 8:12, 30-31). In the Egyptian version there is also reference to Hathor, the personification of wisdom: ‘… it is indeed a place of delight. I have made it for myself, in order to divert my heart, together with … Hathor … mistress of Punt …’.




(iv) Images from the Song of Songs




In the weighing scene of the goods acquired from Punt (i.e. Lebanon, see below), Hatshepsut boasts:




‘[Her] Majesty [herself] is acting with her two hands, the best of myrrh is upon all her limbs, her fragrance is divine dew, her odour is mingled with that of Punt, her skin is gilded with electrum, shining as do the stars in the midst of the festival-hall, before the whole land’.




Compare this with verses from King Solomon’s love poem, Song of Songs (also called the Song of Solomon), e.g. ‘My hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh; Sweeter your love than wine, the scent of your perfume than any spice; Your lips drip honey, and the scent of your robes is like the scent of Lebanon’ (4:10-11; 55). (cf. 4:6, 14; 5:1, 5).




This Hatshepsut’s saturation with Davidic and Solomonic scriptural imagery is further strong support for the Egyptian queen’s visit to Jerusalem.



About the Woman Herself



…. from Josephus Flavius we learn that she was the ruler of Egypt and Ethiopia, as Queen Hatshepsut was, who is the only woman to have remained on the throne of Egypt for an extended period of time. ….

And Metzler adds that (as Velikovsky had already noted): ‘In Ethiopian tradition, her name is Makeda, which is derived from Hatshepsut’s prenomen Maatkare [Makera]’.



Bimson had argued, though – and Clarke would affirm this – that the biblical description had an Arabian, not Egyptian, flavour, with camels, gold, spices and precious stones. But, again, all the monarchs who came to hear Solomon’s wisdom brought ‘silver and gold … myrrh, spices …’ (cf. I Kings 10:25 & II Chronicles 10:24). Ever since the time of Joseph, an Arabian camel train had operated between Egypt and northern Palestine, carrying similar types of gifts (Genesis 37:25).


Still, Bimson had suggested that the biblical queen was from Yemen in Arabia. Likewise, Clarke has her from “somewhere around modern-day Yemen”. G. van Beek, however, has described the geographical isolation of Yemen and the severe hazards of a journey from there to Palestine. And none of the numerous inscriptions from this southern part of Arabia refers to the famous queen. Civilisation in southern Arabia may not really have begun to flourish until some two to three centuries after Solomon’s era, as Bimson himself had noted – and no 10th century BC Arabian queen has ever been named or proposed as the Queen of Sheba. If she hailed from Yemen, who was she?



Creating a Vacuum


Clarke is certainly right that: ‘The chronology debate is a serious issue’. But he is also mindful that: ‘There is always the risk that believers may base their thinking more on secular history rather than the Bible’. He is ‘very sympathetic’ towards revisionists. And in his Shishak article, Clarke tells: ‘I support the need for chronological revision …’. It will be very interesting, though, to see for whom Clarke opts in the future as Shishak, now that he has rejected Thutmose III as a candidate. And with what secular history will he align the Monarchy of Israel? And, with what biblical era, EA?


Critics who only take pot-shots at Velikovsky’s ‘pillars’, but who do not offer any sort of substitute system, are creating the sort of vacuum which allows free rein to the conventionalists and which must bewilder readers. Neither Bimson, nor Rohl with Ramesses II as his Shishak – and I suspect that Clarke will run into the very same problem – can propose any appropriately situated woman to take Hatshepsut’s place as the Queen of Sheba, who, surely, must have been a woman of some significance. Alasdair Beal, editor of SIS in 1997, wrote of the effect that Bimson’s 1986 critique had had on readers:


“Probably few articles caused more disappointment in SIS circles than John Bimson’s 1986 ‘Hatshepsut and the Queen of Sheba’, which presented strong evidence and argument against Velikovsky’s proposal that the mysterious and exotic queen who visited King Solomon was none other than the famous Egyptian female pharaoh. This removed one of the key identifications in Velikovsky’s Ages in Chaos historical reconstruction and was a key factor in the rejection of his proposed chronology by Bimson and others in favour of the more moderate ‘New Chronology’. It also took away what had seemed a romantic and satisfactory solution to the mystery of the identity and origins of Solomon’s visitor, leaving her once more as an historical enigma. …”.



Such efforts that offer no replacements cause ‘disappointment’ amongst readers who at least know enough to mistrust the conventional system. It is not even sufficient to do as some have done after having tossed aside certain ‘pillars’, and pick in isolation a few historical characters as biblical candidates (e.g. for Shishak). One needs at least to replace any set of discarded ‘pillars’ with a revised system, complete with a basic stratigraphy, that can accommodate major biblical events and persons – most notably, the Conquest (and Jericho), but also David and Solomon, the Queen of Sheba and King Shishak, and later ‘So King of Egypt’ (2 Kings 17:4). And definitely one must be able to find a suitable place for the very long-reigning (66-67 years) Ramesses II of Egypt’s 19th dynasty.


In 1997, about a decade after Bimson’s critique, I wrote an article for SIS, in which I acknowledged the excellent points that Bimson had made, but I also endeavoured to answer them. I fully concurred with Bimson that the Punt expedition could not have been the same as the biblical visit. Whereas the latter was made by a ‘queen’, Hatshepsut was then no longer a queen. She was now in her 9th year as Pharaoh. The title of Clarke’s article is thus suggestive by its juxtaposing of Pharaoh Hatshepsut and the biblical Queen.



The Punt Expedition



Bimson, from an in situ study of Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s Punt inscriptions at Deir el-Bahri, concluded for various reasons – and rightly so – that these texts could not be referring to the celebrated visit by the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon in Jerusalem. Clarke has again raised some of these objections. Bimson’s analysis of the Punt expedition constituted his most formidable argument against Velikovsky’s thesis. However, on the basis of P. Dorman’s chronology of Hatshepsut’s era, I suggested that the Punt expedition was a venture entirely separate from the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Jerusalem, undertaken years later, after Hatshepsut had made herself Pharaoh. Its chief purpose was to obtain myrrh trees for the garden (or park) surrounding the temple of Amon-Ra at Deir el-Bahri, to provide a continuous supply of this rare plant in Thebes. Hatshepsut, recalling the magnificent parks and gardens she had seen in Jerusalem, wanted to create the same for her capital city. Hatshepsut would also have noticed Solomon’s magnificent fleet (I Kings 10:11), and the parks and gardens in Jerusalem with their exotic myrrh trees (Song of Songs 5:1; 6:2). Presumably these were what later inspired her Punt expedition. Furthermore, Bimson had noted most significantly that Hatshepsut herself did not accompany this trip, as the Queen of Sheba obviously had hers. The purpose of the Punt venture was not to partake of the wisdom of the King of Jerusalem – we have found above that she had already done that years before.


And the miserable ‘gifts’ given by the Egyptian party to the reception committee at Punt, ‘an axe, a poignard in its sheath, two leg bangles, eleven necklaces and five large rings’, obviously bore no comparison with the lavish gifts brought by the Queen of Sheba: ‘The poverty and meanness of the Egyptian gifts’, wrote Mariette, ‘are in striking contrast to the value of those which they receive’.


The Egyptian inscriptions show Punt as a land of trees – e.g. the c-s tree that A. Nibbi equates with the pine. This is consistent with the view that Punt was Phoenicia/Lebanon; Lebanon being the most noteworthy place for trees in the ancient Near East. Solomon had a free hand building in Lebanon (I Kings (9:19, 20), where he used forced labour. The Song of Songs refers to a ‘mountain of myrrh’, apparently in Lebanon (cf. 4:6 & 4:8). Solomon’s palace was actually called ‘The House of the Forest of Lebanon’, because it was ‘built upon three rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams upon the pillars’ (1 Kings 7:2). All this priceless timber could have been obtained from the Phoenicians.


Accordingly, Velikovsky had referred to Mariette’s view that Hatshepsut’s fine building betrayed ‘a foreign influence’, possibly from ‘the land of [Punt]’. If the Puntites were the Phoenicians – and (according to the Bible) Phoenician craftsmen had assisted Solomon in his building of Yahweh’s Temple – then it is most interesting that Mariette had observed that Hatshepsut’s temple ‘probably represents … a Phoenician influence’. From this, Velikovsky had concluded that the design of the latter was based on the Jerusalem model.


According to the Bible, the Queen of Sheba made at least the latter part of her journey to Jerusalem by camel train …. The gifts she brought were of enormous value but Solomon allowed her to take them all back with her (II Chronicles 9:12).


Bimson – whilst favouring Velikovsky’s chronological view that Hatshepsut’s Punt expedition dated to about the time of King Solomon – had argued that the expedition had travelled southwards on the Red Sea, to NE Africa (modern Eritrea). Clarke gives ‘Ethiopia [as] the probable location of Punt…’. Bimson claimed that myrrh trees were to be found there, and he explained how the fauna and flora of the Punt reliefs reflected a NE African location. Interestingly, in Solomon’s own naval expeditions to Ophir (which certainly were southward bound voyages on the Red Sea) his servants brought back mainly gold (1 Kings 10: 11), and there is no mention at all of myrrh trees.


I would consider the logistics of the Punt expedition in the light of points raised by Nibbi, especially her insistence that the Egyptians did not travel on the open seas. This helps solve a problem with which both Velikovsky and Bimson had grappled: namely, that the Punt reliefs provide no evidence that the Egyptian fleet had at any stage been transported overland, from the Nile to the Red Sea. And this affects Clarke also, of course, with his Punt as Ethiopia. This led Bimson to assume that something must have been left out of the reliefs. In my scenario this would no longer be a problem, as the Red Sea was not involved at all. If Hatshepsut’s fleet had never left the Nile, there would have been no need for overland transportation of boats. I suggest that Hatshepsut’s expedition was northward bound, for Lebanon, but it was an expedition ‘on water and on land’. The fleet simply sailed northwards to the Nile Delta. There, Nehesi and his small army disembarked and marched northward through friendly territory to Lebanon. ‘Sailing in the sea, beginning the goodly way towards God’s Land, journeying in peace to the land of Punt …’; the naval leg being only the ‘beginning’ of the trip to Punt.


Early Egyptian expeditions to Punt were generally connected with a place they called kpn; commonly thought to be Byblos on the Phoenician coast. Nibbi has disputed this and has identified this kpn with a port in northern Egypt. She first mentions Canopus but prefers El Gibali in Sinai. Canopus, though, would have been an ideal place for the Egyptian fleet to have dropped anchor, close to the Mediterranean.


Hatshepsut stressed that the travelling was peaceful.


Any maritime venture would have needed the co-operation of the Phoenicians, making King Hiram of Tyre a third important power. And Velikovsky had claimed that King Hiram’s men had figured in Hatshepsut’s Punt inscriptions as ‘the chiefs of Irem [Hiram]’. The Phoenician ports were international marts where all sorts of exotic merchandise could be acquired – all that Hatshepsut did in fact acquire from Punt. I suggest that Hatshepsut’s fleet would have laid anchor at the mouth of the Nile, awaiting the outcome of Nehesi’s negotiations with the Puntite/ Phoenicians, who then transported the goods via barges or rafts to Egypt, to be loaded on to Hatshepsut’s ships. It is clear from Hiram’s own words to Solomon (I Kings 5:8-9) that the Phoenicians did transport cedar and cypress timber in this fashion to southern ports.


It seems that, today, everyone wants to create his own ‘New Chronology’. This article urges those who at least take the Bible seriously to pause and consider all that has gone before, to modify by all means wherever the evidence demands, but to be extremely wary about barging off in a completely new direction that means abandoning some by now very well established biblical and historical connections.



This thesis can be accessed at: http://hdl.handle.net/2123/1632


This thesis can be accessed at: http://hdl.handle.net/2123/5973


‘Why Pharaoh Hatshepsut is not to be equated to the Queen of Sheba’, Journal of Creation, 24/2, August 2010, pp. 62-68.

‘Was Thutmose III the biblical Shishak? – Claims of the ‘Jerusalem’ bas-relief at Karnak investigated’, Journal of Creation, 25/1, April 2011, pp. 48-56.



Thutmose I Crowns Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut had herself crowned (illustrated) in around 1,473BC, changing her name from the female version Hatshepsut - which means Foremost of the Noble Ladies - to the male version, Hatshepsu


 Damien F. Mackey



Comparing the tri-partite parallel crowning ceremonies of Solomon, by King David,

and of Hatshepsut by the 18th dynasty pharaoh, Thutmose (Tuthmosis) I.



The Coronation Ceremonies

The cultural overflow from the Israel of kings David and Solomon went to the very heart of the matter: to the coronation ceremony.

The very ceremonial procedure, in its three phases, that David used for the coronation of his chosen son, Solomon, was the procedure also used by pharaoh Thutmose I in the coronation of Hatshepsut, who is thought to have been the pharaoh’s daughter.

I have followed J. Baikie for the Egyptian texts below (A History of Egypt, A. and C. Black Ltd., London, 1929, Vol. 11, p. 63):


  • The Assembly is Summoned



“David”, we are told, “assembled at Jerusalem all the officials of the tribes, the officers of the divisions that served the king, the commanders of thousands, … of hundreds, the stewards of all the property … and all the seasoned warriors” (I Chronicles 28:1).

Likewise in the case of the young Hatshepsut, Thutmose I: “… caused that there be brought to him the dignitaries of the king, the nobles, the companions, the officers of the court, and the chief of the people.


  • The Future Ruler Presented



Next, David presented his son, Solomon, to the assembly as his successor, saying: ‘… of all my sons … the Lord … has chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord, over Israel. He said to me, ‘It is Solomon your son …. I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his Father’.’ (vv. 5-6).

So did Pharaoh present Hatshepsut to the august assembly: “Said His Majesty to them: ‘This my daughter … Hatshepsut …. I have appointed her; she is my successor, she it is assuredly who will sit on my wonderful seat [throne]. She shall command the people in every place of the palace; she it is who shall lead you …’.”


  • The Assembly Embraces King’s Decision



The assembly of Israel concurred wholeheartedly with David’s decision: “And all the assembly blessed the Lord … and bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord, and did obeisance to the king …. And they ate and drank before the Lord on that day with great gladness” (29:20, 22). Similarly, in the case of the Egyptian officials: “They kissed the earth at his feet, when the royal word fell among them …. They went forth, their mouths rejoiced, they published his proclamation to them”.”



Might not one have imagined that Egypt, so steeped in ceremony and cultic procedure over so many dynasties and centuries would by now have had its own inviolable court system?

How great, therefore, must have been the Israel of King David’s time that even its ceremonial procedures had flowed into Egypt?

Biblical History of Hatshepsut Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt


Part One: In the Kingdom of Israel



 Damien F. Mackey


This new article, most heavily reliant upon the use of alter egos, will explore Abishag pairings with the “Shunammite” of the “Song of Solomon” and Tamar, daughter of King David; with “the Queen of the South”/“Queen of Sheba”; and also with – now including the Egyptian link – “Pharaoh’s daughter” as Queen (and Pharaoh) Hatshepsut. 




Abishag: “… a beautiful young woman … a Shunammite” (I Kings 1:3).

Tamar: “Now David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar” (2 Samuel 13:1).

Shunammite: “… fairest among women” (Song of Solomon 1:8).

Queen of Sheba: “King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for …” (I Kings 10:13).

Pharaoh’s Daughter: “Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter” (I Kings 3:1).

Hatshepsut: Whose name means “foremost of noble women”.




Just Abishag



Abishag: “… a beautiful young woman … a Shunammite” (I Kings 1:3).





Why was Abishag the Shunammite important?


That is the question asked at: http://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/1521/why-was-abishag-the-shunammite-important which then, covering those portions of Scripture in which Abishag figures, will suggest a reason for it:


When we shift from Samuel to Kings, we start with this fairly benign story:


King David was now old, advanced in years; and though they covered him with bedclothes, he never felt warm. His courtiers said to him, “Let a young virgin be sought for my lord the king, to wait upon Your Majesty and be his attendant; and let her lie in your bosom, and my lord the king will be warm.” So they looked for a beautiful girl throughout the territory of Israel. They found Abishag the Shunammite and brought her to the king. The girl was exceedingly beautiful. She became the king’s attendant and waited upon him; but the king was not intimate with her.—1st Kings 1:1-4 (NJPS)


She is mentioned once more incidentally (1st Kings 1:15). In the next chapter, after David’s death, Adonijah asks Bathsheba to request Solomon to give him Abishag as a wife (1st Kings 2:13-18). She then delivers the request to Solomon:


So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him about Adonijah. The king rose to greet her and bowed down to her. He sat on his throne; and he had a throne placed for the queen mother, and she sat on his right. She said, “I have one small request to make of you, do not refuse me.” He responded, “Ask, Mother; I shall not refuse you.” Then she said, “Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to your brother Adonijah as wife.” The king replied to his mother, “Why request Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Request the kingship for him! For he is my older brother, and the priest Abiathar and Joab son of Zeruiah are on his side.”—1st Kings 2:19-22 (NJPS)


But why is asking for Abishag equivalent in Solomon’s eyes to asking for the kingship? I see two options (neither of which seem compelling):


1.    Abishag’s close relationship with David would link her (possible) husband to the throne.

2.    If Adonijah can manipulate Bathsheba, he could become the real power behind the throne.


After this, the text (and all of Scripture) cease to mention the woman. So what was her importance?

[End of quote]


If the identifications of Abishag to be proposed in this series may have any value, however, then Abishag the person far from ‘ceases to be mentioned in all of Scripture’.

Though she does cease to be mentioned by her name of ‘Abishag’:



Now this name, in itself, appears to be of uncertain meaning. Thus we learn, according to: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0001_0_00156.html


ABISHAG THE SHUNAMMITE (Heb. גשַׁיבִאֲ; “the [Divine] Father (?)”; meaning unknown; of *Shunem), an unmarried girl who was chosen to serve as sōkhenet to King David. The term comes from a root skn, “attend to,” “take care,” and its noun forms can be applied to high officials in Hebrew (Is. 22:15) Abishag’s role was of a lower status. She served as bed companion to David in the hope that her fresh beauty would induce some warmth in the old man (I Kings 1:1–4, 15), and as his housekeeper. The notice (1:4) that “the king knew her not” serves less to impute decrepitude to David than to inform the audience that there would be no other claimants to David’s throne than Solomon and Adonijah. When Solomon became king, *Adonijah, whose life Solomon had spared although he knew him to be a dangerous rival, asked *Bath-Sheba, Solomon’s mother, to intercede on his behalf for permission to marry Abishag. Solomon correctly interpreted this request for the former king’s concubine as a bid for the throne (See II Sam 12:8; 16:20–23), and had Adonijah killed (I Kings 2:13–25). Some see in Abishag, who is described as “very fair” (I Kings 1:4), the Shulammite of the Song of Songs (Shulammite being regarded as the same as Shunammite).

[End of quote]


Abishag’s home town of Shunem was an important location for Israel at least during the early Divided Monarchy period of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. For, in the el Amarna series of letters, in Letter 250, we read of Shunem, or Shunama, being under dire threat.

Abishag was, according to a Jewish tradition, a sister of the “Great Lady of Shunem” at the time of the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 4:8). The Jewish Encyclopedia site tells of it (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/5682-elisha):


Pirḳe R. El. (l.c.) reports, in the name of R. Joshua ben Ḳarḥah, that any woman who saw Elisha would die. The Shunammite was the sister of Abishag, the wife of Iddo, the prophet. When she repaired to Mount Carmel to seek the intervention of the prophet in behalf of her son, Gehazi, struck by her beauty, took undue liberties with her. Elisha sent his servant with his staff bidding him not to speak with any one; but Gehazi, being a skeptic and a scoffer, disobeyed the injunction.

[End of quote]


At best, though, chronologically, the “Great Lady of Shunem” could only have been related to the much earlier Abishag. What any such a connection between the two may indicate, however, is that this Shunem was a seat of some prominence at the time.

My guess is that when David’s courtiers “looked for a beautiful girl throughout the territory of Israel. They found Abishag the Shunammite and brought her to the king”, they were not actually checking out every beautiful girl throughout the land, whatever her status may have been. They, far more practically, would have been searching amongst only the royal and the noble – chiefly amongst the princesses of Israel. More than just endowed with beauty, though, the sōkhenet candidate would probably have been required to have had knowledge of health and healing.




Rape of Tamar




Tamar: “Now David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar” (2 Samuel 13:1).






The mysterious Abishag, about whom we know virtually nothing, biographically speaking, is thought to have – as we have already read occupied very little scriptural space: “… the text (and all of Scripture) cease to mention the woman”.

Yet we also found her to have been of such supreme importance that “… asking for Abishag [was] equivalent in Solomon’s eyes to asking for the kingship …”.

The next phase of Abishag’s life, which I believe the scriptural narrative picks up now in her guise as Tamar, will turn out to be a most wretched downturn in the girl’s fortunes, when she, abandoned by her closest relatives, plummets to the very nadir in “Abishag Rising”.


Amnon and Tamar


King David had taken Abishag as his sōkhenet nurse at some point in his old age – which presumably came earlier to David given the rugged life that he had lived. As I see it, the young woman was already performing her services for the king when David’s oldest son, Amnon, conceived his desire for her – in her guise as Tamar – and asked for her to be brought to him to serve him in his illness (actually love-sickness), to nurse him, as she had been doing for the aged king. So David “sent home” (note), for Tamar to come to Amnon’s house, with disastrous results for the girl.

Here, now, is the biblical account of the rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-30), to which I shall add some of my own comments along the lines of my proposed Abishag-Tamar identification (vv. 1-2):


… Ab’sa-lom had a beautiful sister whose name was Ta’mar; and David’s son Am’non fell in love with her. Am’non was so tormented that he ­made himself ill because of his sister Ta’mar, for she was a virgin and it seemed impossible to Am’non to do anything to her.


Comment: Recall that Abishag, too, was “beautiful”, and a “virgin” (I Kings 1:2, 3-4), and I have also surmised that she was probably a princess of Israel.

If Tamar were also, as Abishag, the “Shunammite” of the Song of Solomon – which will be an underlying theme in this series – then it would be fitting that King Solomon would there refer to her as Achoti (אֲחֹתִי), “my sister” (4:9).

She, for her part, wishes that he were her full brother (8:1): “If only you were to me like a brother, who was nursed at my mother’s breasts! Then, if I found you outside, I would kiss you, and no one would despise me”.

Tamar, Amnon and Solomon were siblings, all sharing the same renowned father, who was King David, but all having different mothers.

Later, another brother of theirs, Adonijah, will express a wish to marry Abishag (I Kings 2:17): “Please ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.” Note that Adonijah here calls the girl “the Shunammite”, which is thus unlikely to have meant “Shulammite”, as in “belonging to Solomon”, as some have proposed.


Now, returning to the biblical narrative of the story (vv. 3-6):


But Am’non had a friend whose name was Jon’a-dab, the ­son of David’s brother Shim’eah; and Jon’a-dab was a very crafty man. He ­said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after ­morning? Will you not tell me?” Am’non said to him, “I love Ta’mar, my brother Ab’sa-lom’s sister.” Jon’a-dab said to him, “Lie down on your ­bed, and pretend to be ill; and when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Let my sister Ta’mar come and give me something to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, so that I may see and eat it from her hand.'” So Am’non lay down, and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, ­Am’non said to the king, “Please let ­my sister Ta’mar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, so that I may eat from her hand.”


Comment: The cunning, Machiavellian Jonadab I have identified as:


King David’s Crafty General Joab




As we return to the biblical narrative, we find that King David himself really throws his daughter Tamar into the deep end (vv.7-14):


Then David sent home to Ta’mar saying, “Go to your brother Am’non’s house, and prepare food for him.” So Ta’mar went to her brother Am’non’s house, where he was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. Then she took the pan and set them out ­before him, but he refused to eat. Am’non said, “Send out everyone from me.” So everyone went out from him. Then Am’non said to Ta’mar, ‘Bring the food into the chamber, so that I might eat from your hand.” So Ta’mar took the cakes she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Am’non her brother. But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her, and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” She answered him, “No, my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do anything so vile! As for me, where should I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the scoundrels in Israel. Now therefore, I beg you, speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.” But he would not listen to her; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her.


Comment: What was “such a thing [as] not done in Israel”, yet might be done if the king so approved. Was Tamar, then, although a princess of Israel, not ethnically an Israelite?

It will help my later identifications if she were not.


Amnon, having done the vile deed, will now turn away from his sister with disgust (vv. 15-19):


Then Am’non was seized with a very great loathing for her. Indeed, his loathing was even greater than the lust he had felt for her. An Am’non said to her, “Get out!” But she said to him, “No my brother; for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me”. But he would not listen to her. He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence, and bolt the door after her.” (Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves; for this is how the virgin daughters of the king were clothed in earlier times) So his servant put her out, and bolted the door after her. But Ta’mar put ashes on her head, and tore the long robe that she was wearing; she put her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud as she went.


Comment: Was this the same “robe” that the watchmen would take from the distraught girl? Cf. Song of Solomon 5:7. “The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. They beat me, they bruised me; they took away my robe, those watchmen of the walls!”


According to the “Joab” article above, Jonadab (= General Joab) and Absalom, Tamar’s own full brother, had actually conspired to bring down the sensuous Amnon. Tamar was a complete victim in all of this, “an unwitting pawn of a devious schemer, an expendable token in the power play for the throne”. I wrote:


Jonadab, according to Hill, was not actually serving Amnon’s interests at all. He was cunningly providing Absalom with the opportunity to bring down his brother, Amnon, the crown prince:


More than this, I am inclined to see Jonadab as a co-conspirator with Absalom in the whole affair, since both men have much to gain.

Absalom’s desires for revenge against Amnon and ultimately his designs for usurping his father’s throne are clearly seen in the narrative (cf. 13:21-23, 32; 15:21-6). Amnon, as crown prince, stands in the way as a rival to the ambitions of Absalom. Absalom and Jonadab collaborate to remove this obstacle to kingship by taking advantage of a basic weakness in Amnon’s character.

The calculated plotting of Absalom and Jonadab is evidenced by the pointed questioning of Tamar by Absalom after her rape and his almost callous treatment of a sister brutishly violated and now bereft of a meaningful future (almost as if he expected it, at least according to the tone of the statements in the narrative; cf. 13:20-22). While a most reprehensible allegation, it seems Tamar may have been an unwitting pawn of a devious schemer, an expendable token in the power play for the throne.


Her self-interested brothers completely despised Tamar. Her shame reflected ingloriously upon the family, it was thought. Hence it is not surprising to read in the Song of Solomon (1:6): “My mother’s sons were incensed against me; they made me keeper of the vineyards”.

Menial work for a princess!

And she adds the words: “But mine own vineyard [virginity?] have I not kept”.


Abishag can, it seems, merge seamlessly into Tamar. The former, too, was “beautiful”, and a “virgin” (I Kings 1:2, 3-4). And I have also surmised that Abishag was likely a princess of Israel, as Tamar certainly was.

Tamar, for her part, like Abishag, lived “at [David’s] home”. And she, like Abishag, lived there during David’s later years.

And Tamar, like Abishag, appear to exhibit similar nursing and healing type knowledge. On “Tamar’s activity” here, we read at: http://www.icanbreathe.com/Habbirya.html:


…. I want to know: What are the nature and purpose of Tamar’s activity? What follows is a necessarily brief summary of my research so far.


The first possibility is raised by the term biryâ. In 2 Sam 13, the root brh 8 is used to designate preparation of the food (tabrenî) and the ceremony involved in making the food (habbiryâ) which Amnon expects to eat (‘ebreh). Words arising from brh in the Bible have to do with eating, but are specific for breaking a fast in a time of grieving or illness. Forms of brh appear only in 2 Sam 3:35; 12:17; 13:5, 6, 10; and in Lam 4:10. Another form, barût is found in Ps 69:22 as food for a mourner.9 David for example refuses to break his fast, lehabrôt, during mourning for Abner (3:35) and he will not eat, brh, bread during his seven day fast and prayer vigil for the ailing infant of Bathsheba (12: 17). In Lam 4: 10, children become the food (perhaps divination-offering), lebarôt, prepared by their desperate mothers during the siege of Jerusalem. These uses suggest that the word chosen to express eating in 2 Sam 13 includes a connotation beyond an ordinary meal.

The root has sacred connotations in Hebrew. Beriyt means covenant, perhaps arising from “binding” in Assyrian barû.


10 In the Bible beriyt commonly refers to being bound by the covenant with YHWH, but also by a covenant between humans (Gen 14:13; I Sam 18:3) and with death (Isa 28: IS, 18; 57:8).11 In later Jewish parlance there is a meal of comfort, called seûdat habra’â12 given to a mourner after the funeral. Biryâ may be related to beriyt, covenant. Conceivably this later custom was a restoration of some familial/tribal bond with the dead, a covenant meal prepared ritually by a woman.13


Though the divinatory meaning of brh is not common in Hebrew, it is among ancient Israel’s neighbors. In Akkadian, barû priests are diviners who inspect livers, and the related term biru, “divination,” 14 is conducted also by women who interpret dreams. Occult inquiry was known in Israel where reported practice is primarily about men. Priests, prophets, seers, and kings in ancient Israel drew lots, used the ephod, interpreted dreams and signs to divine YHWH’s will.15However, Barak (Judg 4), King Saul (1 Sam 28), and King Josiah (2 Kgs 22) learned the future by means of a woman. We may not assume that other people’s customs are identical to Israel’s; however, by exploring ancient approaches to healing we may apply to 2 Sam 13 a range of activities reflecting a frame of reference common to peoples of the ancient Near East.16


In Mesopotamia. besides priestly diviners, there are references to two types of women diviners who in particular are “approached in cases of sickness,”17 as is the case with Amnon. One passage reads, “We shall ask here the šã’litu-priestesses, the baritu-priestesses and the spirits of the dead …..”18 Elsewhere, the goddess of healing, Gula, sings in a hymn of praise of herself, “Mistress of health am I, I am a physician, I am a diviner (ha-ra-ku), I am an exorcist…..”19


Magic and medicine were one in the ancient Near East. ….

[End of quote]


Finally, it would be fitting if one as significant as Abishag should receive further mention in the Scriptures – unless, of course, death had intervened.




Tamar –

what becomes of the broken-hearted?




Shunammite: “… fairest among women” (Song of Solomon 1:8).





Different Names


This series began with Abishag (the same as “the Shunammite” of the Song of Solomon), who then – according to what followed – merged quite seamlessly into Tamar, the daughter of King David and sister of Absalom.

The term “Shunammite” is appropriate for the young woman under consideration, since Abishag herself was “a Shunammite” (I Kings 1:3).

According to one interpretation of the Song of Solomon 8:10, ‘I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers. Thus I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment’: “The Shulammite testified that she was a virgin. Thus, she had found favour with Solomon” (https://books.google.com.au/books?id=igdqBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA897&lpg=PA897&dq=sh).

That was before her “vineyard” (virginity) had been ravaged.

But how to account for the different name, “Tamar” (Hebrew: תָמָר), meaning “palm tree”? Most interestingly, that very same word occurs in the Song of Solomon, 7:8, where the Shunammite is actually likened to a palm tree (תָמָר): “I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit’.”


זֹאת קוֹמָתֵךְ דָּמְתָה לְתָמָר, וְשָׁדַיִךְ לְאַשְׁכֹּלוֹת.


This was typical Solomon at work. Had he not, in his guise as Senenmut in Egypt:


Solomon and Sheba




amused himself by “creating cryptograms, e.g. in relation to Hatshepsut’s throne name, Make-ra …”?


May it be the case of a different book, with a different author, using a different name? Abishag appears in I Kings, Tamar appears in 2 Samuel. The story of the rape of Tamar (RT) is an example of “the short embedded narrative” situated within a larger narrative (http://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/vox/vol20/tamar_smith.pdf). Hence, just as the more familiar Joab may have been presented in the account of RT by the (slightly) different name, “Jonadab”, according to my:


King David’s Crafty General Joab




so may the author of RT have used the different name, “Tamar”, for the one we know otherwise as Abishag.

We have found the name, “Abishag”, to be of “uncertain” meaning. According to one view, which merges – as I have done – Abishag with the Shunammite of the Song of Solomon (https://jamesbradfordpate.wordpress.com/2015/12/21/book-write-up-solomons-song-by-roberta-kells-dorr/):


Shulamit [Shunammite] is known as Abishag by her brothers, because they see her as their father’s mistake: their father’s favorite wife had only a girl, but no sons. [sic] (In terms of the Hebrew, “Abi” means “my father,” and the verb sh-g-g and sh-g-h can relate to an error.) Shulamit’s father agrees to let her go, in exchange for a piece of Solomon’s vineyard, which is in the north.


Absalom and Tamar


Tamar, first ravaged and then detested by the lustful Amnon, would also be treated most shabbily by her brother, Absalom, who may have, anyway, with Jonadab, manipulated the whole sordid incident. We recall from earlier:


The calculated plotting of Absalom and Jonadab is evidenced by the pointed questioning of Tamar by Absalom after her rape and his almost callous treatment of a sister brutishly violated and now bereft of a meaningful future (almost as if he expected it, at least according to the tone of the statements in the narrative; cf. 13:20-22). While a most reprehensible allegation, it seems Tamar may have been an unwitting pawn of a devious schemer, an expendable token in the power play for the throne.


And we read in 2 Samuel 13:20: “Her brother Ab’salom said to her, ‘Has Am’non your brother been with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart’. So Ta’mar remained, a desolate woman, in her brother Ab’salom’s house”.

Cold comfort, indeed.

Absalom, who shared the same mother with Tamar, may have been one of those referred to in the Song of Solomon (1:6) “… my mother’s children [who] were angry with me [Tamar]”. Incorrect, though, would be the following assessment of this verse:



The reason for the punishment her brothers inflicted on her was because she did not keep her own vineyard. The symbolism behind the vineyard is probably a reference to her virginity, that is, that she gave herself sexually to her shepherd lover and as a result her brothers punished her for her indiscretion.

[End of quote]


On the contrary, at least one of her “mother’s children”, or “mother’s sons”, Absalom – who should have ensured that his sister retained her virginity – may actually have been guilty of facilitating her loss of it.


Back Home at Shunem?  


We might surmise, on the basis that Tamar was Abishag of Shunem, that “Absalom’s house” was situated there as well, and that the girl returned to her former home. Hence her references in the Song of Solomon to her “mother” and her “mother’s children”. For example (1:6): “… my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards …”. And (8:1, 2): “O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! … I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother’s house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate”.


Now (8:11), “Solomon had a vineyard in Baal Hamon; he let out his vineyard to tenants. Each was to bring for its fruit a thousand shekels of silver”. If the house of the mother of Absalom and Tamar – we shall be learning more about the mother later – were situated in Shunem, then it would not have been very far from Solomon’s vineyard in Baal Hamon – if the following estimation is correct (http://biblehub.com/commentaries/songs/8-11.htm):


Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges


…. at Baal-hamon] Oettli, following Rosenmüller, thinks this place is identical with Belamon or Balamon in Jdt 8:3, which, he says, was not far from Shunem, Dothan, and the plain of Esdraelon. If the keepers are the Shulammite’s brothers, Baal-hamon would naturally be in the neighbourhood of Shunem.


The Song of Solomon makes various reference to “vineyards”, e.g. 1:6; 7:12; 8:12.

The “mother’s children”, or “sons”, may have been “tenants” of Solomon’s vineyard. Part of their work could have been to control those pesky “little foxes” (2:15):


Catch for us the foxes,     the little foxes that ruin the vineyards,     our vineyards that are in bloom.


King David’s Reaction    


If Tamar were also Abishag, as according to this series, “Abishag Rising”, then she had already been put to a very strange usage – at least by our standards (I Kings 1:1-4):


King David had become very old. His servants covered him with blankets, but he couldn’t stay warm. They said to him, ‘Allow us to find a young woman for our master the king. She will serve the king and take care of him by lying beside our master the king and keeping him warm’. So they looked in every corner of Israel until they found Abishag from Shunem. They brought her to the king. She was very beautiful. She cared for the king and served him, but the king didn’t have sex with her.


Moreover, it was at King David’s command that Tamar had gone to Amnon in the first place. For, as we read previously:


… Am’non lay down, and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, ­Am’non said to the king, ‘Please let ­my sister Ta’mar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, so that I may eat from her hand’. Then David sent home to Ta’mar saying, ‘Go to your brother Am’non’s house, and prepare food for him’.


And now, in the case of her being raped by Amnon, there is no action on the part of the king. Ever indulgent towards his sons, King David, though “very angry”, does absolutely nothing (2 Samuel 13:21): “When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Am’non, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn”.

  1. Hill, from whom we have quoted previously in this series, will tellingly refer to “Amnon’s domination by sensuality … a trait he shared with his father David”.


Absalom Avenges the Violation of His Sister


The calculating Absalom, who hated his brother, Amnon – even before the latter’s rape of Tamar, apparently – waited “two full years” before he acted (vv. 22-23): “But Ab’salom spoke to Am’non neither good nor bad; for Ab’salom hated Am’non, because he had raped his sister Ta’mar. After two full years Absalom …”.

It may have been during this brief period of time that the Shunammite was able to enjoy her bucolic phase of life with the one she hoped to marry, Solomon. But, under the circumstances, it had to be done somewhat surreptitiously, ‘peering through windows and lattices’ (2:9): “My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look! There he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice”, or wishing and hoping (8:1, 2): “O that thou wert as my brother … I would … bring thee into my mother’s house”.


Absalom will now go seriously into action (2 Samuel 13:23-36):


After two full years Ab’salom had sheepshearers at Ba’al-ha’zor, which is near E’phraim, and Ab’salom invited all the king’s sons. Ab’salom came to the king, and said, “Your servant has sheepshearers; will the king and his servants please go with your servant?” But the king said to Ab’sa-lom, “No, my son, let us not all go, or else we will be burdensome to you.” He pressed him, but he would not go but gave him his blessing. Then Ab’sa-lom said, “If not, please let my brother Am’non go with us.” The king said to him, “Why should he go with you?” But Ab’­sa-lom pressed him until he let Am’­non and all the king’s sons go with him. Ab’sa-lom made a feast like a king’s feast. Then Ab’sa-lom com­manded his servants, “Watch when Am’non’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Am’­non,’ then kill him. Do not be afraid; have I not myself commanded you? Be courageous and valiant.” So the ser­vants of Ab’sa-lom did to Am’non as Ab’sa-lom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons rose, and each mounted his mule and fled.

While they were on the way, the report came to David that Ab’sa-lom had killed all the king’s sons, and not one of them was left. The king rose, tore his garments, and lay on the ground; and all his servants who were standing by tore their garments. But Jon’a-dab, the son of David’s brother Shim’e-ah, said, “Let not my lord sup­pose that they have killed all the young men the king’s sons; Am’non alone is dead. This has been determined by Ab’sa-lom from the day Am’non raped his sister Ta’mar. Now there­fore, do not let my lord the king take it to heart, as if all the king’s sons were dead; for Am’non alone is dead.”

But Ab’sa-lom fled. When the young man who kept watch looked up, he saw many people coming from the Hor-o.na’im road by the side of the mountain. Jon’a-dab said to the king, “See, the king’s sons have come; as your servant said, so it has come about.” As soon as he had finished speaking, the king’s sons arrived, and raised their voices and wept; and the king and all his servants also wept very bitterly.


Absalom, as we read above, had told his violated sister, Tamar, ‘not to take it to heart’, and now Jonadab tells King David the very same, ‘do not let my lord the king take it to heart’. David had not queried Amnon’s request for Tamar, but he did query Absalom’s request for Amnon. ‘Why should he go with you?’

In all of this it appears to have been Tamar herself who had acted the most honourably.



Grandfather and Mother of Tamar



2 Samuel 13:37, 38:

“Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur … he stayed there three years”.


This Part Three (iii) will be a bridge, connecting Tamar – a princess of Israel – (and Absalom) to other royal connections in “the south”, to be considered fully in Part Four.





Whether or not Tamar – who may have been under close surveillance during her stay in “Absalom’s house”, and by “the watchmen” of the Song of Solomon 5:7 – had also been carted away with Absalom when he fled to Geshur, the narrative of 2 Samuel 13 does not inform us. But here in this Part Three (iii) our main point of interest will be Absalom’s and Tamar’s other (apart from the royal Judaean) family, stemming from “Talmai king of Geshur”.

As we learn from I Chronicles 3:1-4, Absalom was “the third” son born to David in Hebron:


These were the sons of David born to him in Hebron:


The firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel;

the second, Daniel the son of Abigail of Carmel;

the third, Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;

the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith;

the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;

and the sixth, Ithream, by his wife Eglah.


These six were born to David in Hebron, where he reigned seven years and six months.


“… the second, Daniel”, about whom we read nothing more, may have died early. But we have already met Amnon the rapist; Absalom the conspirator; and Adonijah the would-be-king.

A truly dysfunctional state of princes!

Solomon, whom we have met as well, was born after “these six”, in Jerusalem (v. 5).

“Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur”, was, as we have learned, the brother of the person of main interest in this series: “Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David” (2 Samuel 13:1).

Most interestingly, their maternal grandfather, Talmai, was, like their father David, a “king”. Apart from the great Hiram of Tyre, few kings in the approximate region are actually named – as far as I know – during David’s late phase of kingship and Solomon’s early reign. One is (named by his title) “Pharaoh king of Egypt” (I Kings 3:1): “Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter”, who “had attacked and captured Gezer. He had set it on fire. He killed its Canaanite inhabitants and then gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter, Solomon’s wife” (9:16). “Talmai king of Geshur” is another such monarch.

I am going to propose in Part Two that “Talmai” was the same as this “Pharaoh king of Egypt”, thereby also connecting our Israelite princess, Tamar, to Egyptian royalty.


Amenhotep Son of Hapu Most Like Senenmut

Statue of Senenmut and Neferure 



 Damien F. Mackey



The career of Amenhotep son of Hapu seems to have been

closely modelled on that of Senenmut.



Amenhotep son of Hapu was a highly influential figure, whose fame reached down even into Ptolemaïc times. Horemheb, for one, may have been stylistically influenced by Amenhotep. For according to W. Smith and W. Simpson (The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt, 1998, p.195): “The large grey granite statue of Horemheb in the pose of a scribe … is related stylistically to those of Amenhotep son of Hapu … Horemheb has the same plump, well-fed body and wears a long wig similar to that of the aged wise man …”.

Who really was this Amenhotep son of Hapu, upon whom there were bestowed “unprecedented” honours, investing him with virtually regal status?


Statuary and Privileges


Joann Fletcher offers us a glimpse of his extraordinary power (Egypt’s Sun King. Amenhotep III, Duncan Baird, 2000, p. 51):


In an unprecedented move, Amenhotep III gave extensive religious powers to his closest official and namesake, Amenhotep son of Hapu, not only placing the scribe’s statuary throughout Amun’s temple, but also granting his servant powers almost equal to his own: inscriptions on the statues state that Amenhotep son of Hapu would intercede with Amun himself on behalf of those who approached. The king’s chosen man, who was not a member of Amun’s clergy, could act as intermediary between the people and the gods on the king’s behalf, bypassing the priesthood altogether.

[End of quote]


In light of what we learned, however, in:


Solomon and Sheba




the powers accorded by pharaoh Amenhotep III to his namesake, the son of Hapu, were not “unprecedented”. All of this – and perhaps even more – had already been bestowed upon Senenmut, the ‘power behind the throne’ of Pharaoh Hatshepsut. I have identified this Senenmut as King Solomon in Egypt.


We read in that article of Senenmut’s quasi-royal honours (compare son of Hapu’s “virtually regal status” above):




Hatshepsut’s Coronation


In about the 7th year of Thutmose III, according to Dorman [52], Hatshepsut had herself crowned king, assum­ing the name Maatkare or Make-ra (‘True is the heart of Ra’). In the present scheme, this would be close to Solomon’s 30th regnal year. From then on, Hatshepsut is referred to as ‘king’, sometimes with the pronoun ‘she’ and sometimes ‘he’, and depicted in the raiment of a king. She is called the daughter of Amon-Ra – but in the picture of her birth a boy is moulded by Khnum, the shaper of human beings (i.e. Amon-Ra) [53].

According to Dorman, Senenmut was present at Hatshep­sut’s coronation and played a major rôle there [54]. On one statue [55] he is given some unique titles, which Berlandini-Grenier [56] identifies with the official responsible for the ritual clothing of the Queen ‘the stolist of Horus in privacy’, ‘keeper of the diadem in adorning the king’ and ‘he who covers the double crown with red linen’. Winlock was startled that Senenmut had held so many unique offices in Egypt, including ‘more intimate ones like those of the great nobles of France who were honored in being allowed to assist in the most intimate details of the royal toilet at the king’s levees’ [57]. The rarity of the stolist titles suggested to Dorman [58] ‘a one-time exercise of Senenmut’s function of stolist and that prosopographical conclusions might be drawn’, i.e., he had participated in Hatshepsut’s coronation.



And, even more startling:


…. of special interest is the astronomical information in tomb 353, particularly the ceiling of Chamber A [75]. Senenmut’s ceiling is the earliest astronomical ceiling known. We are reminded again of Solomon’s encyclopaedic knowledge of astronomy and calendars (Wisdom 7:17-19). The ceiling is divided into two parts by transverse bands of texts, the central section of which contains the names ‘Hatshepsut’ and ‘Senenmut’ [76]. The southern half contains a list of decans derived from coffins of the Middle Kingdom period that had served as ‘a prototype’ for a family of decanal lists that survived until the Ptolemaïc period; whilst ‘The northern half is decorated with the earliest preserved depiction of the northern constellations; four planets (Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn) are also portrayed with them, and the lunar calendar is represented by twelve large circles’. [77]

In tomb 71 at Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, · the sarcophagus itself is carved of quartzite in a unique oval form adapted from the royal cartouche shape. Dorman [78] says ‘… the sarcophagus seemed to be yet another proof … of the pretensions Senenmut dares to exhibit, skirting dangerously close to prerogatives considered to be exclusively royal’. Winlock [79] would similarly note that it was ‘significantly designed as almost a replica of royal sarcophagi of the time’,

  • one of the painted scenes features a procession of Aegean (Greek) tribute bearers, the first known representation of these people [80] – the only coherent scene on the north wall of the axial corridor portrays three registers of men dragging sledges that provide shelter for statues of Senenmut, who faces the procession of statues.

Senenmut had presented to Hatshepsut ‘an extraordinary request’ for ‘many statues of every kind of precious hard stone’, to be placed in every temple and shrine of Amon-Ra [81]. His request was granted. Meyer [82] pointed to it as an indication of his power.


[End of quotes]



Amenhotep son of Hapu, likewise, had some most imposing titles



Hereditary prince, count, sole companion, fan-bearer on the king’s right hand, chief of the king’s works even all the great monuments which are brought, of every excellent costly stone; steward of the King’s-daughter of the king’s-wife, Sitamen, who liveth; overseer of the cattle of Amon in the South and North, chief of the prophets of Horus, lord of Athribis, festival leader of Amon. ….

Several inscriptions outline his career and show how he rose through the ranks.

Amenhotep started off as a king’s scribe as mentioned on his statue:


I was appointed to be inferior king’s-scribe; I was introduced into the divine book, I beheld the excellent things of Thoth; I was equipped with their secrets; I opened all their [passages (?)]; one took counsel with me on all their matters.


After distinguishing himself, Amenhotep was promoted to the position of Scribe of Recruits.


… he put all the people subject to me, and the listing of their number under my control, as superior king’s-scribe over recruits. I levied the (military) classes of my lord, my pen reckoned the numbers of millions; I put them in [classes (?)] in the place of their [elders (?)]; the staff of old age as his beloved son. I taxed the houses with the numbers belonging thereto, I divided the troops (of workmen) and their houses, I filled out the subjects with the best of the captivity, which his majesty had captured on the battlefield. I appointed all their troops (Tz.t), I levied ——-. I placed troops at the heads of the way(s) to turn back the foreigners in their places.


Amenhotep mentions being on a campaign to Nubia.


I was the chief at the head of the mighty men, to smite the Nubians [and the Asiatics (?)], the plans of my lord were a refuge behind me; [when I wandered (?)] his command surrounded me; his plans embraced all lands and all foreigners who were by his side. I reckoned up the captives of the victories of his majesty, being in charge of them.


Later he was promoted to “Chief of all works”, thereby overseeing the building program of Pharaoh Amenhotep III

His connections to court finally led to Amenhotep being appointed as Steward to Princess-Queen Sitamen.

[End of quotes]


Official Relationship to Amon


The son of Hapu was, as we read above, “overseer of the cattle of Amon in the South and North … [and] festival leader of Amon”. ….

Now regarding Senenmut, as I wrote in “Solomon and Sheba”:


Historians claim ‘Steward of Amon’ was the most illustri­ous of all Senenmut’s titles. This would be fitting if he were Solomon, and Amon-Ra were the Supreme God, the ‘King of Gods’, as the Egyptians called him. Senenmut was also ‘overseer of the garden of Amon’ (see Appendix A). Like Solomon, a king who also acted as a priest, Senenmut’s chief rôle was religious. He was in charge of things pertaining to Amon and was ‘chief of all the prophets’. Solomon, at the beginning of his co-regency with David, had prayed for wisdom and a discerning mind (I Kings 3:9). On the completion of the Temple, he stood ‘before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, [he] spread forth his hands towards heaven’ (I Kings 8:22). Likewise, Senenmut is depicted in Hatshepsut’s temple with arms up-stretched to heaven, praying to Hathor, the personification of wisdom.


Thomas C. Hamilton has provided this most perceptive comment about Amonism (Amunism) in a revised context (http://kabane52.tumblr.com/post/132812715270/amunism-and-atenism):


Amunism and Atenism


Akhenhaten is widely known as the “monotheistic Pharaoh” and his cult of the Aten has absurdly been described as the “first monotheism.” This ignores the abundant evidence that monotheism is the earliest religion of the human race, as was documented in detail by Wilhelm Schmidt in his twelve volume work on the subject, popularly summarized lately by Winfried Corduan. My intent, however, is not to complain about that. Instead, it is to present a revised view of what Atenism was on a revised chronology, largely drawing on the fascinating work of traditional Catholic scholar Damien Mackey.


I have pointed out in the past that the descriptions of Amun in Egyptian literature converge in fascinating ways with the biblical description of God. Amun-Re is a sun-god. The sun, of course, is one of the Lord’s chief symbols in Scripture, and the nations worshiped God as the “God of Heaven.” This is why the phenomenon of original monotheism is called the “sky-god” phenomenon. That a god was associated with the sun does not mean that he had always been identified with the sun. Indeed, I think the “fusion” of Amun and Re was the recovery of a pristine monotheistic religion. Just as Yahweh and El were two titles for one God, so also Amun and Re. Imhotep, whom I have identified with Joseph, served as High Priest of Re at Heliopolis.

[End of quote]


The career of Amenhotep son of Hapu in relation to Egypt reminds me in many ways of that of that other quasi-royal (but supposed commoner), Senenmut, or Senmut, at the time of Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Amenhotep son of Hapu is in fact so close a replica of Senenmut that I would have to think that he had modelled himself greatly on the latter.

Senenmut was to pharaoh Hatshepsut also a Great Steward, and he was to princess Neferure her mentor and steward.

So was Amenhotep son of Hapu to pharaoh Amenhotep III a Great Steward, and he was to princess Sitamun (Sitamen) her mentor and steward.

Again, as Senenmut is considered by scholars to have been a commoner, who, due to his great skills and character, rose up through the ranks to become scribe and architect and steward of Amun, so is exactly the same said about Amenhotep son of Hapu.

Each seemed to be a real ‘power behind the throne’.

Son of Hapu, like Senenmut, is thought not to have (married or to have) had any children.