Ben-Hadad I as El Amarna’s Abdi-ashirta = Tushratta

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

In my thesis I expanded Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky’s identification of

Ben-hadad I as El Amarna’s [EA’s] Abdi-ashirta,

to include the latter also as [EA’s] Tushratta.

 

The following is taken from my postgraduate thesis (Volume 1, Ch. 3, pp. 65-67):

 

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah and its Background

http://hdl.handle.net/2123/5973

….

Now, an apparent anomaly immediately strikes me in regard to this connection between Ben-Hadad I and Abdi-ashirta, though it is not one of Velikovsky’s making but one that pertains to the EA structure itself. It is this: Why do we never hear of a conflict – or perhaps an alliance – between this Abdi-ashirta and Tushratta (var. Dushratta) of Mitanni? Why, in fact, do we never hear any mention at all of these two kings together in the same EA letter?

I ask this firstly because, as Campbell has shown, Abdi-ashirta and Tushratta were exact contemporaries, reigning during at least the latter part of the reign of pharaoh Amenhotep III and on into the reign of Akhnaton, and, secondly, because their territories were, at the very least, contiguous.

At about the same time (judging that is by Mercer’s numbering of the EA Letters) as Tushratta’s raid on Sumur, generally considered to be Simyra north of Byblos, Rib-Addi made the following famous protest about Abdi-Ashirta to pharaoh (EA 76): “… is he the king of Mitanna [Mitanni] or the king of Kasse [Babylon] that he seeks to take the land of the king himself?” This huge region covetted by Abdi-ashirta (Mitanni to Kasse) would have, even in the most minimal terms, spanned from eastern Syria to southern Babylonia. Either Tushratta was trespassing all over Abdi-ashirta’s region, or vice versa. Whatever the case, we should thus expect some mighty clash between the forces of Abdi-ashirta and those of Tushratta, who ruled Mitanni.

Yet we hear of none.

Proponents of the conventional system would probably have a ready-made answer to this, insofar as experts on the EA period, such as Campbell, tend to divide the kings of the EA correspondence into ‘Great Kings’ or ‘vassal kings’, depending upon their status in relation to the EA pharaohs. For instance those kings who could aspire to call pharaoh, ‘brother’, having given the latter a sister or daughter[s] to marry – and hence meaning ‘brother-in-law’ (e.g. as in the case of the kings of Mitanni, Arzawa, Karduniash) – are classified by commentators as ‘Great Kings’, whilst the rest are said to be merely ‘vassal kings’. Nonetheless, even the Great Kings were expected to toe the pharaonic line, and commentators express surprise when they (most notably Tushratta) do not thus comply.

With Tushratta rated as a ‘Great King’, and Abdi-ashirta as a ‘vassal king’, it might be argued that there was never going to be any clash or coincidence between them; for Abdi-ashirta was simply subservient to Tushratta. Though I myself have not actually read where anyone has specifically written this.

Nor, as far as I am aware, has it been explained why Abdi-ashirta’s aspirations to become ‘king of [Mitanni]’ would not have caused some major preventative action on the part of Tushratta, the ruler of Mitanni.

Anyway, whatever might be the standard answer to my query above, the Velikovskian equation of EA’s Abdi-ashirta as Ben-Hadad I would seriously contradict the view that the latter was a relatively minor, though problematical, king in the EA scheme of things; for Ben-Hadad I was no lesser king: “King Ben-hadad of Aram gathered all his army together; thirty-two kings were with him, along with horses and chariots” (1 Kings 20:1).

Thirty-two kings! The great Hammurabi of Babylon, early in his reign, had only ten to fifteen kings following him, as did his peer kings. Even the greatest king of that day in the region, Iarim Lim of Iamkhad, had only twenty kings in train. But Ben-Hadad’s coalition, raised for the siege of Ahab’s capital of Samaria, could boast of thirty-two kings. Surely Ben-Hadad I was no secondary king in his day, but a ‘Great King’; the dominant king in fact in the greater Syrian region – a true master-king.

Indeed Ben-Hadad I was able to war against, and greatly discomfort, the son of Omri, Ahab.

And by whatever status in the EA scheme of things one might like to designate Abdi-ashirta and his successor, Aziru, and however much at times they might appear to grovel to the EA pharaohs, these kings were quite a law unto themselves. This is attested by Tyldesley when she writes: “Abdi-Ashirta and his son Aziru – both nominally Egyptian vassals – were able to continue their expansionist policies unchecked”. Such would hardly have been the case, however, if these really were merely abject vassal kings as they are generally presumed to have been.

With all of this in mind then it might not be so surprising that Ben-Hadad I, in his EA guise as Abdi-ashirta, whose kingdom, at the very least, must have been adjacent to that of EA’s ‘Great King’, Tushratta, was bent upon ruling Mitanni – which after all was, as we are going to find, a natural extension of Syrian territory into the Upper Khabur and Balikh regions. And he even apparently covetted rule over Babylonia.

So, my question persists: How is it that there is no record of a clash, or a treaty, between Abdi-ashirta and Tushratta?

Not only that, but they are never mentioned anywhere together in any context. Tushratta was the king of Mitanni, that apparently buffer state between Syria and Assyria which however scholars have found somewhat difficult to circumscribe, and it is even thought sometimes that Tushratta must have controlled part of Assyria itself, given that he was able to send Amenhotep III the statue of Ishtar of Nineveh, in the hope that it would cure the declining pharaoh of his serious illness. I shall be returning to this in (b) (on p.76). ….

And my answer to the puzzle is that the reason why history has left us no record of any encounter of whatever kind between the contemporary EA kings Abdi-ashirta and Tushratta is because this was one and the same king.

The so-called ‘Mitannians’ were in their origins, as we shall soon discuss, an ‘Indo-European’ people, and their names, such as Tushratta, Shuttarna and Artatama, are thus thought to have been likewise ‘Indo-European’. However, whilst Singh has given a highly plausible ‘Indic’ interpretation of the name Tushratta, from Tvesh-ratha, ‘one whose chariot moves forward violently’ (some echo of Dashrath), as he says, I would nonetheless like to venture an alternative suggestion: namely that the seemingly ‘Indo-European’ name, Tushratta, or Dushratta, is simply a variant form of Abdi-ashirta, var. Abdi-Ashrati, meaning ‘slave of Ashtarte’, being simply Ab-DU-aSHRATTA, or DUSHRATTA.

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