Watchman's Teaching Letter #78 October 2004


This is my seventy-eighth monthly teaching letter and continues my seventh year of publication. As I stated in lesson #77, at this point in time, I am compelled to write an additional lesson on Herodotus that I didn’t originally plan to write. With this lesson, it will be two lessons I had not planned on. Because of this, I will have to advance the numbers and dates on four already prepared lessons. All of this came about when I visited a used book store and found a book entitled History Of Assyria by A. T. Olmstead. Olmstead was a prolific historian and also wrote the History Of The Persian Empire. Again I would remind the reader, the reason I’m compelled to address this subject two additional times is because a very dear friend of mine tried to dissuade my effort in publishing William Finck’s presentation on the Genesis 10 nations. In my opinion, Finck’s outline on this subject is the best I have ever witnessed from an Israel Identity perspective.

My dear friend was very vehement and hostile, insisting that the Medes and Persians were Israelites and that any data from Herodotus and Josephus couldn’t be trusted. Though I highly value this person’s friendship very much, I absolutely refuse to deviate from the truth. I’m quite certain that a fast-talking third person has caused all this bad influence; which I now find it my Biblical duty to address so others will not stumble into this same dangerous pitfall.

Inasmuch as he was so impressed with Herodotus’ work, A. T. Olmstead, in his book History Of The Persian Empire, made reference to him 44 times. In his History Of Assyria, A. T. Olmstead speaks very flatteringly of Herodotus on pages 243-249 under the chapter heading Deioces And The Median Foundations.” The following will be the entire chapter:

DEIOCES AND THE MEDIAN FOUNDATIONS: The veracious Father of History’ sponsors an entertaining tale about the origins of the Median power. After the Assyrians had ruled Upper Asia for five hundred and twenty years, he says, the Medes first of all their subjects revolted and in a single battle completely freed themselves. The other dependent peoples followed their example, and thereafter all enjoyed what the Greek believed the greatest of all blessings, complete autonomy.

Such happiness was too great to last. In due course tyranny arose and in the following manner: Once upon a time there was a man named Deioces, the son of Phraortes, and he was a very wise man and a village chief. The Medes lived scattered here and there in villages, and if one wronged another, there was none to do justice.         So Deioces set up as a wise man, rendering righteous judgments till his fame grew nation-wide and all came to him to right their wrongs. Now Deioces found that this was wasting all his time, so he craftily refused to act longer as judge. He might be retained as judge in one only manner, and the Medes, perceiving this, called an assembly and offered Deioces the kingship. Like a good Greek tyrant, he refused to accept unless he were permitted to enroll a body-guard and was given a palace. Once in power, he forced the Medes to abandon their villages, and with them founded the great city of Ecbatana. After a reign of full fifty-three years, Deioces was followed by his son Phraortes, but not until he had laid the foundations of the Median empire that was to be. (Herod., I, 95 ff.)

Reality was in almost every respect different. The original home of the Medes had been that Iranian plateau whose importance as a centre of racial and cultural diffusion we are only beginning to appreciate. They seem to have been akin to the later Persians ethnologically, and their language may be considered a Persian dialect. Their culture was still essentially nomadic, though they had been settled long enough in the mountains to have taken on some of the characteristics of a sedentary people. Their cities were regularly on a hill commanding a stream. On the highest point was a citadel, and two or even three walls were not uncommon. Towers and battlements had been borrowed from their neighbours, and the gates were frequently arched. In dress and arms they had learned less from the Assyrians. Their hair was short and held by a red fillet, their short beard was curled. Over a tunic they wore a sheepskin coat which the Assyrian artist considered so curious that he repeated it times without number. High laced boots formed another conspicuous part of their costume, and occasionally we detect those same upturned shoes that we have come to consider Hittite. Unlike the desert nomad, they carried no bow or sword; their regular weapon of offence was a long spear, of defence a rectangular wicker shield.

Not the slightest sense of unity can be detected. Some leaders appear a little more important than others; in the typical list of Median names, no village chief appears superior to his companions. These names are perfectly good Iranian, and in meaning agree with the quasi-nomadic culture still the background of the earlier hymns of the Avesta. Mazda worship is already in existence, but the more developed deity, Ahura Mazda, is never invoked in their names, and this seems to prove that the prophet Zoroaster, the sacred books of the Avesta, and Ahura Mazda himself are yet in the future.

There was too much nomadism in the Median blood to permit them to be content in mountains more conspicuous for picturesqueness than for fertility. As early as 835, Shalmaneser had discovered them ousting the earlier tribes on the eastern frontier, and succeeding monarchs filled their annals with unmeaning lists of village chiefs and of the hamlets or tribes they ruled. Often they sent gifts which the Assyrians called tribute, sometimes the presence of an Assyrian general produced a temporary acceptance of the Assyrian yoke; if the Medes were never effectually controlled by the Assyrians, no more did they revolt and defeat them in one great battle.

A Deioces there was in truth and he was a village chief, but he did not end his days as the revered founder of a new Median empire in his splendid metropolis of Ecbatana; Daiaukku was a governor of the Mannai’ who had given his son as hostage to Rusash, fell into the hands of the irate Assyrians, and was deported to Hamath in Syria (715). Name, time, place nevertheless prove that this petty princeling is the historical Deioces. His house’ survived to a later date, and he may after all have been an ancestor of the dynasty which ultimately made Media the greatest power in the world.”

[C. E. Note: Among the deportees from Assyria was Deioces of Media”, the same mentioned by Herodotus or perhaps a relative (but maybe only someone of a similar name) who was interned at Hamath in the old Canaanite capital of Syria north of Aram.]

Thanks to the exertions of Tiglath Pileser III, Sargon was well situated on this frontier. Northwest and beyond the Mannai lay Andia, whose king sent tribute. An unknown correspondent tells how his son Iala has arrived with this tribute of fifty-one horses, and with him Abit-shar-usur, a Mannai official, who later writes that Nabu-eresh, the Chaldæan who had been sent in honourable exile to this far border with orders that he be watched secretly, has suddenly left with the statement that he was going to bear his greetings to the palace.

Between Arbela and Musasir was Kirruri, a province since the ninth century, whose governor was Shamash-upahhir. South of it was Parsua, and again to the south of this last, between the Zab and Diyala Rivers, on the first outliers of the eastern mountains, lay Arrapha under Ishtar-duri. East of this was Lulume, the later representative of Mazamua, an ill-defined district in the Median highland, whose governor, Sharru-emuranni, bore the brunt of the conflict.

Shamash-upahhir writes of the village chiefs who are under his feet, and the chiefs themselves complain of the king’s order to work in the mountain ravines; they are obeying his commands, but the work is heavy upon them, heavy exceedingly,and they cannot perform their task. May they receive their ration of oil and food as they enter the land.

The governor of Parsua, under the protection of the wicker shield held by his squire, sent his shower of arrows against the city of Kishesim, the postern gate was fired, and on the relief the flames appear as huge stag’s horns. The city’s name was changed to Fort of Nabu.’ Harhar had entered into close relations with Dalta of Elli, who had not yet earned the fame of a vassal who loved my yoke.’ This was sufficiently serious to bring out the king in person. The triple-walled city was commanded by an isolated rock citadel, and around it flowed a good-sized stream. The sheepskin cavalry was driven into the city, a frieze of fourteen impaled citizens was lined along its unbroken lower wall, the city was taken by escalade. In honour of the royal visit, the name was changed to Kar Sharrukin, the Wall of Sargon.’

Instructions were given Mannu-ki Ninua, the new governor, to go against the Medes. He reports that the royal officers established peace and returned in safety. He is building a great house in Kar Sharrukin and bringing the land under cultivation. The walls will be extended according to the written recommendations. The Medes round about are quiet and he is carrying on his work. The king has ordered him to go to the aid of Sharru-emuranni, governor of Lulume. The son of Ludu is to direct him, but no one is to be permitted to see him, since he is one of the supposed enemy. This manœuvre has been successfully executed, and he is now back at the capital. His royal master has demanded what he meant by not sending the grain; his reply is that the rains fall continually and the grain in consequence is cut off from the granary.

There is news of Dalta. The people of Zabgaga have left his house and are now with their brethren.        Mannu-ki Ninua, therefore, went to their town and imposed the oath upon them. The governorship has been restored and they are at peace, but they have besought him about the city of Zabgaga. Nabubel-ukin has been placed over them, and the governor has advised them: As Nabu-bel-ukin has poured out the libation at the time of the oath-taking, I will watch over you and your words, I shall summon the men before the king. Whatever news they hear of these people, they will send to me.’ The men are to attend to the welfare of the messengers and are to receive clothing and silver rings in return. They say: The king has given us command, before the governor we stand.’ The city of Sanir has likewise taken the oath, and he spoke kind words to them, such as the king his lord loves. As for those who would not come down to take oath, their brethren have promised that they should be forced to descend.

Fifteen of the fifty soldiers who went to Nikur before him are dead, but they went from the houses of the enemy and took cattle and sheep. When raiders started out from the Median country, he learned of it, and sent for aid to the Mannai and Mazamua, yet the king has chided him: Seize the foragers.’ The king should know whether he is careless or whether he has executed his tasks.

Details of the campaign of 716 are shown in the reliefs. A eunuch led the attack, aided by a body of most peculiar auxiliaries. Here they have a shirt of fringed cloth with stepped pyramid ornament on the lower portion. Under a cap their hair is short and so is their beard, their girdle is broad, they wear sandals.         Elsewhere, they have only a strip around their hips which is adorned with serrated lozenges. Their bows and arrows are red, the iron tip is blue, the long quivers are intricately decorated. An unknown city shows a royal stele inserted in the wall.

In 714 we begin to hear of Sharru-emuranni of Lulume. He insists most strenuously that he is not the son of a village chief, but a high official; the king has assigned him his position, and whatever he hears and whatever he sees he will report to the king his lord. He has in part stationed his troops as ordered, but the son of Bel-iddina has refused to take the road with him, the nobles hold back, only the baser sort went with him; if the king will only send an official of the mule’s stable to go with him, then will they desert and revolt. As to what the king has written, If the horses of which a rumour has arrived fall into your hands, come and bring them,’ the merchants of Kumesa are upright, he is awaiting them. When the sheep did not arrive, he sent the servants of the king to Kibatki, the people were terrified and laid down their weapons. When they send to him, he will put them in a net and bring them to the king. The king has demanded: Why have you delayed and not awaited the governor of Arrapha?’ Ishtar-duri has left Zaban and has taken the road to Parsua. They went up to Mount Nipur together. He agrees that the son of Bel-iddina should go with him. Let Nabu-hamatua do the king’s task in repairing the breaches of the royal forts.

Nabu-hamatua has himself received a personal letter from the governor of the Median country requesting that his messenger bring the people to the palace. He has spoken kindly words to them and set their minds at rest. But as for the son of Bel-iddina, he is a scoundrel and a liar, who will not hearken. In reality, Nabu-hamatua has made the natives abandon their six forts and has said to them: Go to, let each man build his house upon his field, and let him dwell there; let each of you do his work in his field. Let your hearts make you joyful, for you are the servants of the king.’ They are at peace and do their work, while the king’s servants have entered the forts and have made the watch strong. He has tabulated according to their flesh the five horses Ullusunu handed over to Asharidu. Three times a year the official of Asharidu of whom the king inquired has fled from Nabu-hamatua, let them bring down his land as a district. The king has also inquired about Bel-ahe the trader, the writer has sent secretly and will bring him.

Nabu-ahi-iddina is in trouble. The king gave him orders to transmit to various officials, but there has been little result. When he informed Nabu-hamatua, and he in turn the chieftains, they refused, since their land had been assigned to the second officer of Hamban. The king had ordered that fifty-two riding horses should be given to certain chiefs and the remainder sent on to the king, but they say: He has asked an evil thing, they shall all go with us.’

Dalta had now changed his policy with the loss of five border towns to the Elamites; Assyria recovered them for him, and the letters of Nergal-etir, the chief hostler, show him sending his horses to the palace, though once he is reported for failure to pay his dues. He had departed this life by 708, and his sons Nibe and Ishpabare contested the throne. Nibe called in the Elamite Shutruk Nahhunte, his brother summoned Assyrian aid. Ishtar-duri of Arrapha regretted that the Assyrian troops were few in numbers and scattered in Media, but they will obey orders. He has observed the heavenly bodies, and has sent word for troops to take their position with Marduk-shar-usur. This Marduk-shar-usur has been asked by the king for news from Nagiu. The king of Elli on his own initiative declared that Sangibutu has been given to Marduk-shar-usur. The Assyrian has assured Kibaba: Your cities will be cared for, they have been taken away; if you attempt to attack them or try to overthrow them, I shall fall upon you.’ These men have a hundred horsemen and they are continually opposing the king. Twenty horsemen of Iptu and the remainder of the horsemen of Ishpabare who go with them, they cannot have.

Four thousand five hundred bowmen were sent from Elam to garrison Elli, but the seven generals of Sargon won the day, stormed the capital Marubishta on a high mountain, made Nibe a prisoner, and placed Ishpabare on the throne. His revolt a bare six years later is only one indication among many of the untenable position of the Assyrians in Media. The attempt to dam back the Median tribes was an impossible one, but Sargon did what he could, and at least postponed the evil day.”

For further information about the Medes and the reality that it would be virtually impossible for them to be Israelites, I will now take excerpts from The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. M-P, page 148, which does somewhat better than most references on this subject:

MEDIA ... The only sources of knowledge about their geographical distribution in antiquity is found in the annals of the Assyrian rulers who campaigned against them ... They seem to have settled in the plateau of Iran below the Caspian Sea and considerably northeast of the Tigris River. They were shielded somewhat from the Scyths by their related culture and the Cimmerians with whom they appear to have been allied. They are mentioned together as Madai and Gomer, the sons of Japheth, in Genesis 10:2. Ultimately Scythia fell upon the Cimmerians and the nearby kingdom of Urartu and the Medes were left alone to fend off further aggression. The origins of Media are obscure; however, the annals of the Assyrian, Shalmaneser III, mention them. He ruled from 858-824 B.C. and probably discovered them in the region of Ecbatana (Hamadan) around 836 B.C. The annals of Shamshi-Adad V (823-811) mention a ruler of Iran who had 1,200 cities north of Lake Urmia. Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 B.C.), one of the most methodical of Assyrian strategists, carried out a number of campaigns in Iran penetrating to the foot of mount Demavend. It appears that during the 8th century Media provided horses for the Assyrian army, but the alliance of the Iranian tribes were a constant threat to the settled villages and towns of Mesopotamia. Sargon II (721-705 B.C.) overcame Hoshea, the ephemeral king of Samaria, and placed the subject peoples in the cities of the Medes’ (2 Kings 17:5, 6; 18:11) which he controlled. He is known to have taken a certain Dayaukku as prisoner of war and deported him with his family to Hama [Hamath] in Syria. It has been suspected that this is, in fact, the Deioces mentioned by Herodotus as the founder of the Median royal line (I:96), the son of an unknown chieftain ... [C. E.: See the note at page 1, column b, paragraph 5] ... Herodotus adds that during this period Cyaxares learned the warfare and military organization of the Scythians and used it with success against Alyattes, king of Sardis, in a long campaign. During this war an eclipse of the sun occurred which greatly terrified the troops of both armies. This astronomical event had been forecast by the Milesian Greek sage, Thales, and is one of the few dates in Median history which may be pinpointed with accuracy as 28 May 585 B.C. ... Cyaxares overcame his Scythian overlords and annexed the regions of the Persians and the Mannai to his kingdom ...” [Herodotus 1. 170 has it, ... Thales of Miletus (a man of remote Phoenician descent )...”]

It is interesting to note here that the Medes learned the art of warfare from the Scythian Israelites!




For documentation on this phase of Media, I will quote excerpts from Cyclopædia Of Universal History by John Clark Ridpath, vol. 1, pages 222-223:

... In favor of this hypothesis of great antiquity may be mentioned the fact that elsewhere in the Old Testament the word Madai always signifies the Medes, and also the additional fact that Berosus succinctly declares that one of the earliest Chaldæan dynasties, long before the rise of the Assyrian Empire, was Median ...

The references by Berosus and the author of Genesis seem to point to the Medes as one of the primitive races of mankind, appearing on the horizon at a date as remote as two thousand years before the common era ...

The actual annals of Media, then, begin with the latter half of the ninth century before the Christian era. At this time Shalmaneser II was king of Assyria. This monarch, according to the records of his reign, made war into the country beyond the Zagros mountains, and while on one of his campaigns came in contact with the Medes ...

After the death of Shalmaneser and the accession of his son, Shamas-Vul, a second Assyrian invasion of Media occurred. The offense of the Medes seems to have been merely the manifestation of a belligerent spirit ...

Assyria was now in the heyday of her power. To save themselves and their country from further depredation the Medes adopted the expedient of tribute. As the price of peace they agreed to pay an annual stipend. This policy was adopted in the reign of Vul-Lush Ill., about the close of the ninth cetext-align: center; line-height: 18.0ptDefaultText2DefaultText1,ntury B.C.. During the following one hundred years the Medes became more compact and populous. They lay like a cloud along the eastern horizon of Assyria. Doubtless the tribute had been paid only by those western tribes who had felt more than once the vengeance of the Ninevite kings. The tribes to the east had remained comparatively free from foreign domination ...

... So Sargon the Great, in the year B.C. 710, determined to subdue the country and annex it to his dominions. Armies were marched through the mountain passes. Military posts were established and filled with soldiers. Whole colonies of Medes were deported into Assyria, and their places were supplied either with Assyrians or with captive bands of Samaritans [Israelites of Samaria], whom the monarch had recently brought home from his Western campaigns. Media was reorganized as a province of the Empire, and the tribute was systematically enforced, a part of the annual tax being a levy of horses for the stables of the king and for the captains of his armies.

The date of this subjugation of Media by Sargon corresponds almost exactly with the reign of the half-fabulous king Deïoces, who, according to Herodotus, became monarch of the Medes in B.C. 708 ...

About the middle of the seventh century B.C., we reach the solid ground in Median history. From the year 875 to 660 B.C., is the epoch of myth and fable [so-called]. Soon after the latter date the great Cyaxares appeared on the scene, and his coming heralded a complete change in the condition of the countries beyond the Zagros. The beginning of this change was precipitated by the incursion of new Aryan tribes ... The incursionists were welcomed by their kinsmen, the Medes, who at heart detested the Assyrian power, and were but too glad to find in an augmented and fresh population both the occasion and the material of revolt ...

As soon as his mixed [allied] host of Medes and Scythians was brought into proper subordination, the king again set his face towards Assyria. There was now an orderly invasion. Asshur-Bani-Pal took the field as before. The two armies met a short distance from Nineveh. The Assyrians were borne down before the new foe from the mountains, and were driven, after a decisive battle, behind the ramparts of the capital. Hard after them came the avenging Medes. A siege was begun, but before it had progressed to the extent of endangering the city, the attention of Cyaxares was suddenly recalled by a crisis in the affairs of his own country.

It was the Scythians. As already said the southernmost tribes of this barbaric race had been easily subdued by the Medes. The two peoples south of the Caucasus had to some extent mingled [lived in close proximity] together. A part of the army of Cyaxares was Scythic. But the great body of trans-Caucasian Scyths had felt only so much of this Median ascendency as to excite resentment. The hostile feelings of the north gathered head. While Cyaxares was still engaged with the Assyrians beyond the Zagros the Scythic host poured down into Azerbijan and headed for Ecbatana. But Cyaxares hastily returning from Nineveh confronted them and prepared for battle. A savage conflict ensued, in which the reckless audacity of the Scythians proved more than a match for the disciplined forces of the Medes. Cyaxares was defeated, and he and his subjects were compelled to seek refuge in the walled towns and to sue for peace. Madys, the Scythic leader, dictated terms, which were less severe than might have been expected from a barbaric chieftain victorious in battle. An annual stipend was imposed after the manner of civilized states, and Cyaxares was allowed to retain his crown, tributary to his conqueror...

The condition was now that of foreign domination and terrorism. The Scythians after their manner pitched their tents here and there over the country. Their flocks and herds were pastured on the lands of the subject Medes, who with mixed feelings of hatred and fear found themselves unable to thwart or stay the fierce wills of the barbaric leeches that had fastened on the veins of their country. In such a situation energy and industry were at a discount. The more a district was cultivated the more it was ravaged. The less cultivated parts fared better. The roving habits of the oppressors carried them from one region to another. The walled town was about the only refuge for the galled and desperate Medes, who were afraid to offer resistance either by stratagem or open revolt.

For some years the reign of terror continued until the Scyths by dispersion into various provinces became less of a scourge – less imminently dangerous to the subject people. By and by the invaders filed off in large numbers into Assyria, Babylonia, and Palestine, renewing their ravages everywhere to the very gates of Egypt. Many bands remained under their chiefs in Media, but the native subjects of Cyaxares began to breathe more easily, and their long smothered wrath rose in proportion as the danger disappeared. In this juncture of affairs the king himself determined to set the example of revenge and destruction.

Cyaxares made a feast. Treachery was mixed in the cups. The appetite of the Scythians became the means of their ruin and overthrow. The invited chiefs were plied with drink until they lay stupid, whereupon the hidden bands of armed Medes broke into the banquet hall, and slew them all [rather, many] without mercy. The sound of the murderous work was heard beyond the palace, and a popular fury broke out against the savage oppressors of the land. The incensed people took up what weapons soever they could, and hewed right and left in a war of extermination. No records have been preserved of the struggle. It is known only that the [some of the] Scythians were completely overwhelmed. Those who escaped the avenger’s hand were driven through the passes of the Caucasus into their native haunts [rather new habitations]. So complete was the [local] overthrow that scarcely a trace of the foreign domination remained in the country which the barbarians had held and ravaged for a period of years.

As soon as the Scythians had ceased to be a terror, the Medes renewed their project of invading Assyria. That great Empire had fallen into decrepitude. Saracus, the reigning monarch, was an unworthy successor of those mighty kings who for centuries had dominated the better parts of Western Asia. The outskirts of the kingdom lay open and invited attack. The resources at the command of Saracus were as little adequate to supply the means of resistance as was the king capable of hurling back an invader. As soon as Cyaxares could muster and discipline his forces, he entered with renewed energy upon the cherished plan of Assyrian subjugation.

At this time the viceroyalty of Chaldæa, which had been a dependency of Assyria for more than a half century, had recovered in some measure the influence and renown of her pristine era. The Assyrian yoke, though not especially galling, was nevertheless a–yoke. No insurrections had occurred; but with the decadence of Assyria the elements centering at Babylon were rife for mischief. In this condition of affairs the Median invasion, led by Cyaxares in person, was precipitated. Before beginning his campaign, however, the king of the Medes took the precaution to test the loyalty of the Babylonian viceroy. That notable was in no mood to be virtuous, and readily yielded to the overtures of the Median king. It was arranged that an army of revolting Babylonians should march up the Tigris simultaneously with the approach of Cyaxares from the east. The Assyrians would thus be struck in flank and front, and the capital would stagger under the blow.”

Dates for the Median kings according to Herodotus: Deioces 700-647 B.C. (Her. 1:102); Phraortes 647-625 B.C. (Her. 1.103); Cyaxares 625-585 B.C. (Her. 1.103-107); Astyages 585-550 B.C. (Her. 1-107, 130); Cyrus begins at 550 B.C.

Such is the history of the Medes! The history of the Medes is not the history of the Israelites, and the history of the Israelites is distinct from that of the Medes, except for short periods of duration where they were reluctantly allied under duress. Actually, the Medes were White descendants from Madai, son of Japheth (Genesis 10:2). Once again we are indebted to historians such as Herodotus et al. and archaeology to fit together the puzzling pieces of history. We have to conclude, then, that the only time the terms Medes” and Persians” can apply to Israelites is when they are used to describe those few Israelites scattered in small isolated pockets throughout the region who chose to stay behind the main group migrating into Europe, keeping the knowledge of their roots rather than passing through the Caucasus and eventually forgetting their identity. So regardless of how much wishful thinking one does, it will not change the Medes and Persians into Israelites. For the Medes are Medes – the Persians are Persians – and the Israelites are Israelites!