Nebo-Sarsekim

Nebo-Sarsekim Tablet is a clay cuneiform inscription referring to an official at the court of Nebuchadrezzar II, king of Babylon. It may also refer to an official named in the Biblical Book of Jeremiah.

It is currently in the collection of the British Museum dated to circa 595 BC, The tablet was part of an archive from a large sun-worship temple at Sippar.

Description

The tablet is a clay cuneiform inscription (2.13 inches; 5.5 cm) with the following translation:

[Regarding] 1.5 minas (0.75 kg) of gold, the property of Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, the chief eunuch, which he sent via Arad-Banitu the eunuch to [the temple] Esangila: Arad-Banitu has delivered [it] to Esangila. In the presence of Bel-usat, son of Alpaya, the royal bodyguard, [and of] Nadin, son of Marduk-zer-ibni. Month XI, day 18, year 10 [of] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

Discovery

Archaeologists unearthed the tablet in the ancient city of Sippar (about a mile from modern Baghdad) in the 1870s. The museum acquired it in 1920, but it had remained in storage unpublished until Michael Jursa (associate professor at the University of Vienna) made the discovery in 2007.

Bible comparisons

According to Jeremiah (39:3 in the Masoretic Text; 46:3 in the Septuagint), an individual by this same name visited Jerusalem during the Babylonian conquest of it. The verse begins by stating that all the Babylonian officials sat authoritatively in the Middle Gate, then names several of them, and concludes by adding that all the other officials were there as well (implying that the named ones were the most well known).

Over the years, Bible translators have divided the named individuals in different ways (as seen in the table below), rendering anywhere from two to eight names. This cuneiform tablet may prompt more consistent revisions (i.e., alternate hyphenation or deletion of commas) in future versions.

Hebrew:

נֵרְגַל שַׂרְאֶצֶר סַמְגַּר-נְבוּ שַׂר-סְכִים רַב-סָרִיס, נֵרְגַל שַׂרְאֶצֶר רַב-מָג

Greek:

Μαργανασαρ και Σαμαγωθ και Ναβουσαχαρ και Ναβουσαρεις Ναγαργας Νασερραβαμαθ

Uncial:

ΜΑΡΓΑΝΑΣΑΡ ΚΑΙ ΣΑΜΑΓΩΘ ΚΑΙ ΝΑΒΟΥΣΑΧΑΡ ΚΑΙ ΝΑΒΟΥΣΑΡΕΙΣ ΝΑΓΑΡΓΑΣ ΝΑΣΕΡΡΑΒΑΜΑΘ

Vulgate: NEREGEL SERESER SEMEGAR NABU SARSACHIM RABSARES NEREGEL SERESER REBMAG

Josephus

In Book 10 (chapter VIII, paragraph 2; or line 135) of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus records the Babylonian officials as:

Ρεγαλσαρος Αρεμαντος Σεμεγαρος Ναβωσαρις Αχαραμψαρις

William Whiston's translation follows the KJV/ASV rendition, albeit reversing two of them:

Nergal Sharezer, Samgar Nebo, Rabsaris, Sarsechim, and Rabmag

The literal translation by Christopher T. Begg and Paul Spilsbury is:

Regalsar, Aremant, Semegar, Nabosaris, and Acarampsaris

See also

External links

  • Initial press releases:
    • Arutz-Sheva article by Hillel Fendel
    • Times Online article by Dalya Alberge
    • Culture24 article with photo
    • Telegraph article by Nigel Reynolds with alternate photo
    • Haaretz article by Moshe Inbar
  • Josephus translations:
    • Antiquities book 10, section 135 via Perseus at Tufts University (English)
    • Antiquities book 10, section 135 via Perseus at Tufts University (Greek)
    • Antiquities via PACE at York University (enter Book 10, Section 135 manually)
  • Professional commentaries:
    • sarsekim Tablet by an Assyriologist (providing transcription, transliteration and translation of its text along with some rudimentary observations on its content and context)
    • Christopher Heard (initial observations)
    • Christopher Heard (continued discussion)
    • John F. Hobbins (with details on Assyrian names by Charles Halton)
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