Esther's Revenge at Susa: From Sennacherib to Ahasuerus

Esther's Revenge at Susa: From Sennacherib to Ahasuerus


By (author) Stephanie Dalley

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 280 pages
  • Dimensions: 3mm x 3mm x 3mm | 59g
  • Publication date: 9 February 2008
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199216630
  • ISBN 13: 9780199216635
  • Illustrations note: 54 in-text illustrations, 4 maps

Product description

Why are the names of the chief characters in the biblical Book of Esther those of Mesopotamian deities? Stephanie Dalley argues that the narrative reflects real happenings in seventh-century Assyria, where the widespread belief that revenge belongs to the gods explains why Assyrian kings described punitive campaigns as divine acts, leading to the mythologizing of certain historical events. Ashurbanipal's sack of Susa, led by the deities Ishtar and Marduk, underlies the Hebrew story of Esther, and that story contains traces of the cultic calendar of Ishtar-of-Nineveh. Dalley traces the way in which the long-term settlement of 'lost tribes' in Assyria, revealed by the fruits of excavation in Iraq and Syria, inspired a blend of pagan and Jewish traditions.

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Author information

Stephanie Dalley is Senior Research Fellow in Assyriology at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford.

Review quote

...a convincing contribution to biblical studies. International Review of Biblical Studies This is a delightful is likely to find much of interest in this study L.L Grabbe, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, fluently written Jonathan Stokl, Journal of Jewish Studies This intriguing and impeccably researched book provides the biblical scholar with much food for thought. Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer, Svensk Exegetisk Arsbok Dalley has produced an intriguing and thought-provoking book that will be read with pleasure by cuneiformists, biblicists, and classicists alike. Gary Beckman, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Table of contents

I. THE BACKGROUND IN ASSYRIAN HISTORY AND LITERATURE ; 1. Kings Sargon and Sennacherib, father and son ; 2. Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, son and grandson of Sennacherib ; 3. Troubles in Babylon and retribution in Susa ; 4. Dissemination in Palestine and Egypt ; 5. Some literature and its genres ; 6. Ishtar-of-Nineveh and her feasts ; II. TRANSITION TO A JEWISH STORY ; 7. Assyrian words, phrases, and customs in the Hebrew Book of Esther ; 8. Links between seventh-century Assyria, the Hebrew story of Esther, and the kingdom of Adiabene ; 9. From history into myth: evolution of a story