The Non-Eternal Dynastic Promises of Jehu of Israel and Esarhaddon of Assyria

in Vetus Testamentum
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Abstract

Three Israelite kings receive promises of a dynasty continuing indefinitely (David, Solomon and Jeroboam I), but Jehu of Israel is the only ruler in the Hebrew Bible with a non-eternal dynastic promise. While many Assyrian rulers claim divine election and speak of “eternal” dynasties, the dynastic promise of Esarhaddon is unusual because of its modest nature. The dynastic promises of Jehu and Esarhaddon are therefore unique within their ANE context because of their lack of hyperbolic language, guaranteeing only four or two generations of continuity. Since both rulers assume the throne in the midst of a political crisis their reigns would have been reasonable times for promises legitimizing their dynasties. A comparison of these two oracles will not only allow the interesting parallels between the two promises to be clearly seen, but also reveal the crucial role that non-eternal dynastic oracles can play in establishing royal legitimacy.

Vetus Testamentum

A Quarterly Published by the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament

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