The Aramaic Inscription of Zakar, King of Hamath

 1. The stele which Zakar king of Hamath and Laash erected to El-Ur, and inscribed

 2. it Zakar king of Hamath and Laash. A lowly man was I and [helped

 3. m]e the Lord of Heaven, and he stood by me, and the Lord of Heaven made me king [over

 4. Ha]zrak. And Bar-hada son of Hazael, king of Aram1), united against me se-

 5. [ven]teen kings: Bar-hadad and his army, and Bar-raggash and his army, and

 6. [the king of] Cilicia and his army, and the king of Amk and his army, and the king of Gurg[um

 7. and his] army, and the king of Samal and his army, and the king of Miliz [and his a]r[my and the king of

 8. X and his army, and the king of Y and his army, and the king of Z and his army and] seven [kings, --

 9. t]hem and their armies. And all these kings laid siege to Hazrak,

 10. and they raised a wall higher then the wall of Hazrak, and dug a trench deeper than its tre[nch].

 11. And I lifted up my hands to the Lord of [Heaven], and the Lord of Heaven answered ,e, [and spo-

 12. ke] the Lord of Heaven to me through seers and astrologers, [and said to

 13. me] the Lord of Heaven: Fear not, for I have made [thee king, and I will st-

 14. an]d by thee, and I will deliver thee from all [these kings who]

 15. have set siege against thee. And he said ......

 16. all these kings who have set [siege against thee] ....

 17. ..... and this wall which ...

 1) The land of Aram/Arameans was centered around the city of Damascus, the Syria of today, while the land of Hamath stretched between Hamath (often shown located on the banks of the Orontes River south of Qarqar) and Aleppo further north on the way to Carchemish. Distance wise Aleppo is ca. 320 km north of Damascus. In the 9th century the following kings ruled in the region: Ben Hadad I, variously dated from either 880-841 or 860-841, where the first dates are mostly accepted. Ben Hadad I was followed by his patricide Hazael (841- ca. 795) and Ben Hadad II from -795 onward. See for a) 1.K. 15:18,20; b) 2.K. 13:3, 24-25; Amos 1:4; c) 1.K. 20; 2.K. 6:24; 8, 7,9. We are told that in the time of Jehoahaz (814-798), father and predecessor of Jehoash (798-782), "Hazael king of Aram oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Jehoash", but that Jehoash "recaptured from Ben Hadad (II), the son of Hazael, the towns he (Hadad I) had taken in battle from his father Jehoahaz. Three times Jehoash defeated him, so he recovered the Israelite towns." 2.Kings 13:22,25.

 Column II

 01. ...... Hazrak ....

 02. ...... for chariotry and cavalry ...

 03. ...... its king within it I ....

 04. ...... Hazrak, and I added ....

 05. ...... all the circuit ....

 06. ...... and I set him as king ....

 07. ...... ...... ...... ......

 08. ...... these enemies in all its midst

 09. I built gods' houses in all

 10. ...... and I built

 11. .......................

 12. ...... house ....

 13. ...... I set before [El-

 14. Ur] this stele and in[sribed

 15. i]t with the writing of my hands.

 16. [And] whosoever will remove the wri[ting

 17. of the hands of] Zakar king of Hamath and La-

 18. ash from this stele, and whosoever

 19. will remove this stele from [be-

 20. fore] El-Ur, and disturb it [from

 21. its] place, or whosoever will lay upon [it

 22. his hand] .... [shall curse him?]

 23. [the Lor]d of Heaven and El-

 24. [Ur] ..... and Sun and Moon

 25. ...... and the gods of heaven

 26. [and the gods of] earth, and Baal of Laa-

 27. sh .......

 28. .....

 One side of the inscribed arrow tip of Zarkabaal: Made up of the letters `lambda', `ayin' as found similarly on seal inscription, the letter `bet' from the Tell Dan inscription, the letter `resh' as found on seal impressions, next comes the well known letter `shin' which would substitute for an expected repeat `aleph' if the rendition in BAR is correct since this letter is not clearly seen in the image because of apparent damage, lastly the also hard to readily recognize letters `qof' and the paleo `aleph' follow. The `zayin' is easier to read. Thus reading: "zaqarbal". Conclusion: The name `Zakarbaal' of the arrow essentially appears to be the same name as the `Zakar' of the stele on which the name for the deity `Baal' also appears. If this correlation is valid we may have increased our knowledge of these Syrian kings just a little more.

  Comments: Earlier scholars wrote, `Concerning Zakar and his kingdom we know nothing but what his inscription offers. He gives himself no pedigree in his inscription, and tells us he was of humble origins...', however, since `Zakar's' name appears on the metal arrow tips we do know the name of his father. After studying the Hebrew letters on the arrow tip this writer reads the name as `Zakarbaal' and not as `Zarkabaal' as presented in the original article which appeared in BAR in 1996. So we wonder if that was a typing error. The date of the inscription and the events it records cannot be exactly determined from the source itself. According to the information the stele was found in northern Syria in 1903 by M.H. Pognon. Compare with 1. Kings 20:16 (the 32 kings coalition of Benhadad); 2.Kings 13:25 and 14:23, 28. If Bar-hadad was Ben-hadad is possible but not for certain. But this name and Hazael occurs. See also 2.Kings 8: 7ff; 13:25; Zechariah 9: 1. The approximate date of the inscription may be ca. the 9th century BC. One interesting personal name comparison may be provided by one named `Zakarbaal/(in Hebrew right to left: labrsqaz - Where the `s' may substitute for an aleph sound?) '. We concluded that the `Zarka Baal' of the particular article in BAR should be read `Zakar Baal'? See CIAS Encyclopedia . Unfortunately we could not make out the aramaic Hebrew letters on the stele itself to determine how `Zakar' was spelled. Notice the slight differences in the qop/kaf and zayin letters, etc.. Certainly do we find here numerous personal name similarities. If `Hamath' of the stele can correspond to `Amurru' of the arrow is another question. The name `Amurru' and its variations occurs frequently in the EA letters. While Benhadad claimed 32 kings in his coalition at the time of the battle of Qarqar, Zakar speaks of 17 allies from which supported his cause during his reign.

 Sources: a) M. Henri Pognon, `Inscriptions semitiques de la Syrie, de la Mesopotamie at de la region de Mossoul', Paris, 1907 (and 1908). The volume contains 116 inscriptions most of them in Syriac. b) Professor James J. Montgomery, Philadelphia Divinity School, `A New Aramaic Inscription of Biblical Interest' in The Biblical World, Vol. XXXIII, Febr. 1909, p. 79-84.; Pritchard, The Ancient Near East, ANET 501-502.

Inscribed Items

(01) The 3 inscribed El-Khadr Javelin heads bearing the same inscription `bdlb't, a name which also occurs in an Ugaritic census list of a bowman, ostensibly Bn-Ady or Lebiyya, `the lion'. [F. Cross, Inscribed Javelin Heads from the Period of the Judges in BASOR, Apr 1954, images p. 7.]

 (02) J.T. Milik, An Unpublished Arrow-Head with Phoenician Inscription in BASOR, Oct. 1956, p. 3.; Reads, "the arrow of Zakkur, son of Bin'ana", where `Zakkur' is considered to be a hypocoristicon of Zkrb'l of the Wenamon story.