Obelisk of Shalmaneser
The "Black Obelisk" of Shalmaneser III (reigned 858-824 BC) is a black
limestone Neo-Assyrian bas-relief sculpture from Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), in northern
Iraq. Currently displayed in the British Museum. It is the most complete Assyrian
obelisk yet discovered, and is historically significant because it displays the
earliest ancient depiction of an Israelite.
It was erected as a public monument in 825 BCE at a time of civil war. It
was discovered by archaeologist Sir Henry Layard in 1846.
The obelisk features twenty reliefs, five on each side. They depict five different
subdued kings, bringing tribute and prostrating before the Assyrian king. From
top to bottom they are: (1) Sua of Gilzanu (in north-west Iran), (2)
Jehu of Bit Omri (ancient northern Israel), (3) an unnamed ruler of
Musri (probably Egypt), (4) Marduk-apil-usur of Suhi (middle Euphrates, Syria
and Iraq), and (5) Qalparunda of Patin (Antakya region of Turkey). Each scene
occupies four panels around the monument and is described by a cuneiform script
The second register from the top includes the earliest surviving picture of
an Israelite: the Biblical Jehu, King of Israel. It
describes how Jehu brought or sent his tribute in or around 841 BCE.
Jehu severed Israel’s alliances with Phoenicia and Judah, and became
subject to Assyria. The caption above the scene, written in Assyrian cuneiform,
can be translated:
"The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri: I received from him silver, gold,
a golden bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets,
tin, a staff for a king and spears."
For more on "Son of Omri" see the Moabite
The Monolith is an Assyrian document that contains the Battle of Qarqar at the
end. The Monolith stands some 2.2 metres tall and roughly covers years one through
six of the reign of Assyrian King Shalmaneser III.
Inscribed on the Monolith is a reference to King Ahab who
contributed 2,000 chariots and 10,000 soldiers to an alliance of kings that was
attempting to resist the conquering armies of Shalmaneser.
2 Kings 17:3 Against
him came up Shalmaneser king
of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant,
and gave him presents.
2 Kings 18:9 Shalmaneser king
of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged
2 Kings 9:13 Then
they hasted, and took every man his garment,
put it under him on
the top of the stairs, and blew with trumpets,
saying, Jehu is King.
2 Kings 8:26 Two and
twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began
and he reigned one
year in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was
Athaliah, the daughter of Omri
king of Israel.