Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Origination of North•ward – Part II

Continued from the previous post, regarding how the directional words were used in ancient Hebrew, and how the word Northward came about.
    As we have shown many times, Sorenson loves to cloud the issue. Take for example his claim about the sun being to the east. He writes (p38) “We in the European tradition say that east’ is “where the sun comes up”; but in the arctic the sun unconcernedly rises in the south.” However, since Lehi didn’t land, and the Nephites never were even close to the arctic, the example he uses has no meaning other than to try and confuse the reader so he can slip in his east-west Mesoamerican model instead of Mormon’s north-south Land of Promise.
In another example, Sorenson goes on to say: “The Assyrians referred to the Persian Gulf as “the sea of the rising sun,” when actually it was south-southeast from them.” This is actually totally misleading. To understand this label, we have to understand the Assyrian Empire and the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, often referred to as “the mighty king.” First of all, in the days of Empire Building, conquering kings boasted of their achievements and conquests, thus their power and might in order to frighten and cow leaders and peoples of surrounding lands. In Sennacherib’s case, when he came to power in the beginning of the seventh century B.C., he struggled to put down resistance to his rule. The peoples of Syria and Palestine had counted on Egyptian help to throw off the Assyrian yoke, but Sennacherib brought them all under control. In 701 B.C. he laid siege to Jerusalem and then ruled Judah through king Hezekiah who was “confined like a bird in a cage.” Although the Assyrians finally left without taking the city, they took large quantities of plunder and numerous captives. The following text comes from a series of inscribed prisms (viewpoints) on which the kings of Assyria recorded the warlike deeds by which they wished to be remembered.
    In the “Prisim of Sennacherib,” (Sennacherib’s Annals) a historical recording in cuneiform writing written in Akkadian in which the siege of Jerusalem is described, giving a different account than that found in the Bible. In this writing under regarding “An Assyrian King’s Wars,” Sennacherib describes the process of acquiring an empire, and how new territories and peoples are incorporated under Assyrian control.
    The first entry reads: “Sennacherib, the great king, the mighty king, king of the universe, king of Assyria, king of the four quarters (of the earth); the wise ruler (shepherd, "pastor"), favorite of the great gods, guardian of the right, lover of justice; who lends support, who comes to the aid of the needy, who turns (his thoughts) to pious deeds; perfect hero, mighty man; first among all princes, the powerful one who consumes the insubmissive, who strikes the wicked with the thunderbolt…”
    Obviously, it is easy to see that accuracy and exactness are not involved here, but the bragging of one’s greatness. Sennacherib then goes on to say that “the god Assur, the great mountain, an unrivaled kingship has entrusted to me, and above all those who dwell in palaces, has made powerful my weapons…” Again, laying claim to his right to control all the country round about, from the north (Assyria) to the south (Palestine), from the east (Persia) to the west (Mediterranean). He goes on “…from the upper sea of the setting sun to the lower sea of the rising sun, all humankind (the black-headed race) he has brought in submission at my feet and mighty kings feared my warfare.”
The Assyrian Empire in 700 B.C., showing the Lower Sea (Persian Gulf) and the Upper Sea (Mediterranean)

Now here we find an interesting fact. While Sorenson claims this statement of sea is about the Persian Gulf, we need to understand how the Assyrians in 700 B.C. referred to these seas. First of all, the “Lower Sea” was the Persian Gulf; however, the “Upper Sea” was the Mediterranean Sea. Thus, the sun rose over the Lower Sea (Persian Gulf) and set over the Upper Sea (Mediterranean).
    While Sorenson tries to say that the east sea to the Assyrians was really south south-east, it was never the “east sea” it was the Lower Sea, because it was in the lower quadrant of their empire or land; just as the Upper Sea was in the upper quadrant of their empire or land. In fact, to the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians, their land was not designated east-west, but Upper and Lower. Their directional designations within their land were called Upper and Lower, as in Upper Mesopotamia and Lower Mesopotamia, the Upper Euphrates or Tigris and Lower Euphrates or Tigris, the Upper Zab river and the Lower Zab river, etc. (J.N. Postgate and R.A. Mattila, From the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea, Studies on the History of Assyria and Babylonia, ed Grant Frame, Nederlands Instituut, 2004).
    When looking at the statements Sorenson made regarding the seas, the correct wordage of the statements Sorenson erroneously used, is:
“to upon the great sea of the rising of the sun"
"to upon the great sea of the setting of the sun” (Edwin Norris, Assyrian Dictionary, Cuneiform Inscriptions of Assyria and Babylonia, Part III, Williams and Norgate, London, 1872, p1023).

However, it should be understood that neither Sennacherib nor the Assyrians referred to as “the rising sun over the Lower Sea” and the “setting sun over the Upper Sea” as meaning from east to west, but meaning over the powerful and all-mighty Assyrian Empire, from eastern border to western border, or all-inclusive of the entire Empire, as the map above shows. It might also be of interest to know that this Empire was referred to as the “Land of the Rising Sun,” and covered Assyria, Elam, Armenia, Media, Nairi, Syria, Phoenicia, Tyre, Sidon, Sameria, Edom, and Palestine. And it should also be noted that the Assyrians did not say “sea of the rising sun” or “sea of the setting sun,” as Sorenson states, but the “Lower Sea of the rising sun,” and the “Upper Sea of the rising sun,” as is stated in “from the upper sea of the setting sun to the lower sea of the rising sun, all humankind…” of Sennercherib’s Prism or viewpoint of his exploits.
“In ancient Mesopotamia, "the upper sea" and "the lower sea "were the common appellations for the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf respectively. It is evident that "upper" and "lower" in these names corresponded to the upper and the lower reaches of the Euphrates. These classical names, which were often used in a pair, originated in Sumerian literature and were inherited into the Akkadian literary tradition at the time of the Sargon dynasty” (Keiko Yamada, “From the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea: The Development of the Names of Seas in the Assyrian Royal Inscriptions,” Society for Near Eastern Studies, Japan, Vol XL, 2005) 
    Ancient Mesopotamians believed that the Mediterranean (the “Upper Sea”) and the Persian Gulf (the “Lower Sea”) represented the extremities of the entire world, and the idea that the two seas should be unified under the hegemony of a single Mesopotamian ruler was very influential, and recognition of this is crucial for understanding the Assyrians’ world view (Yifat Thareani, “The Empire and the Upper Sea: Assyrian Control Strategies,’ Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No.375, May 2016, pp77-102). In fact, the idea that the two seas represent the extremes of the entire world unified under the control of a single Mesopotamian ruler was also established in the inscriptions of the late Neo-Assyrian kings.
    Consequently, the Assyrian Royal Inscriptions, “from the upper sea to the lower sea” were often intended as ideologically motivated expressions of the extent of the Assyrian dominion rather than geographical information. In addition, upper, referring to the location of sunset, and lower, referring to the location of sunrise, in a geographical sense was also mixed with the term “great” (rabītu) to indicate tâmutu elēnītu, or the more common tâmtu elītu meaning the Upper Sea (Mediterranean), sometimes referred to as “the upper sea of the sunset” and sometimes as “tâmtu rabītu” meaning “the great sea,” was of far greater importance geographically than tâmtu šupālītu meaning “the Lower Sea” (Persian Gulf).
    In ancient Babylon, an empire preceding the Assyrians, the term “Upper Sea” also applied to the Mediterranean, and the “Lower Sea” to the Persian Gulf. In fact, there was the Upper Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and the Lower Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and kings and countries along “the Sea of the Setting Sun” were those on the eastern seashore of the Mediterranean. (Josiah M. Ward, Come With Me Into Babylon, Frederick A. Stokes Co., New York, 1902, pp176-179). In addition, the Babylonians called the area of the city of Aššur as being in the Upper Land, an area along the western bank of the Tigris River, north of the confluence with the Little Zab river in what is now northern Iraq. There  king Adad conquered the Upper and Lower Country, or all of Mesopotamia.
Another statement to show that this was a territory, not specific about the direction of seas, the ancient writing states: “Assur, the great god, has entrusted me a kingship without rival, and has made my weapons powerful above all those who dwell in palaces. From the upper sea of the setting sun to the lower sea of the rising rsun he has made the four quwearets submit to my feet” (Beate Pongratz-Leisten, Religion and Ideology in Assyria, Walter de Gruyter Inc., Berlin, 2015,  p151,153,155). 
(See the next post, “Origination of North•ward – Part III,” for more information regarding how the directional words were used in ancient Hebrew, and how and when the word Northward came about)

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