본문 바로가기
  • Home

Revisiting Ezra 1 (vv. 1‒4) with the Temple Building Inscriptions of Mesopotamia

Hannah S. An 1

1횃불트리니티신학대학원대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

L. S. Fried and others have convincingly demonstrated that the book of Ezra foregrounds the ideology of temple destruction and reconstruction that was shared across the ancient Near East. This article offers further observations based on the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian building texts by tracing the ancient Near Eastern ideology that underlies Ezra 1:1‒4, especially with respect to the initiation of the temple rebuilding by a divinely ordained king who is styled as a royal shepherd. First, a careful examination of the building inscriptions provides further insights to the peculiar Hebrew idiom in Ezra 1:1 (i.e., hēʿîr, “stirred up”). In the Mesopotamian analogues, the Akkadian terms šudkû and šutbû are appropriated to indicate the divinely originated cause in the mytho-historical story of the destruction and restoration of the temple. In Nabonidus’s rebuilding account, both šudkû and šutbû are used interchangeably in a negative sense, as in “incite” or “arouse.” Remarkably, these verbs were distinctly deployed in the context of the deity’s abandonment of its own temple or the deity’s judgment of the enemy forces linked with the destruction of the temple. In the royal corpus of Nebuchadnezzar II, both šudkû and šutbû are attested. But the former usage predominates, conveying a positive connotation, as in “prompt” or “motivate.” Mesopotamian royal annals, inheriting the Sumerian legacy, describe the king as the shepherd of his people, often in combination with depiction of pastoral duties of gathering the scattered people. In the temple building texts of Mesopotamia, the shepherd metaphor is vividly woven into the monarch’s presentation of the renovation project. This idea is also evident in Cyrus’s royal rhetoric employing the Akkadian verb šeʾû, which showcases the sedulous attention of the Mesopotamian monarchs in rectifying cultic and civil aberrations. Rereading of the edict of Cyrus in Ezra 1 in light of such an ideological orientation yields a distinctive portrait of the Judean returnees, all of whom play an active role in rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.