Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy
Who was Semiramis?
The picture is a detail from a painting by Adriaen Backer (1634â€“1684) a Dutch artist. It depicts the legendary Queen of Babylon and Assyria, Semiramis. Decades ago I did some preliminary research on the subject of Semiramis as background for a book that I authored, i.e. "Lost Israelite Identity," 1996, now out of print though adapted portions of this work have been re-published as sections of other of my books. Here are some of the relevant notes. Some of it may seem confused but it is all there. There could be something here worthy of further research:
Background: The norther Ten Tribes of Israel were exiled by the Assyrians in stages. The first exile was attributed to Tiglathpileser.
In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maachah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee all the land of Nephtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria (2-Kings 15:29).
Elsewhere the exile was attributed to both Tiglathpileser and Pul.
"And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria and the spirit of Tiglath Pileser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Menasseh , and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day (1-Chronicles 5:25-26).
The Hebrew text could be understand to be referring to one person who had two names i.e. Tiglathpileser and Pul. This is the view conventionally accepted at present. I had the notion that the Pul and Tiglathpileser were two different people or that there was someone named Pul and after that there was Tiglathpileser who was also known as Pul. The idea was to show that the Assyrians had exiled some of the Israelites prior to Tiglathpileser and that they had been settled in what later became the Kingdom of Urartu (Van). The identity of Semiramis was part of the thesis I was putting together. This is a thread I never continued. I now see it is somewhat confused BUT there may still be something to it. Here are some of the notes:
The Notes below are adapted from a footnote in â€œLost Israelite Identity,â€ by Yair Davidy:
- Semiramis the Assyrian queen.
Semiramis was the wife or mother of Pul (1-Chronicles 5:26) who in turn was one of the Assyrian kings who had exiled Israelites.
- Semiramus (Sammuramat) was described as "A woman of the palace of Samsi Adad, King of the World, King of Assyria,...King of the Four Quarters of the World". She was a Syrian princess and reportedly the wife of Samsi Adad (823-811) and mother of Adadnirari (810-783) and Queen Regent (ruling on behalf of her son) ca. 810-806. Vul-lush (i.e. Pul, i.e. Adadnirari) ascended the throne in 810 though his mother effectually reigned for four more years as Regent. Vul-lush (i.e. Pul) received tribute from the Medes, Parsua (Persians), Minni (Mannae), Nair (Urartu), and from Khumri [i.e. northern Israel, Samaria], as well as from Tyre, Sidon, Damascus, Idumaea, Philliistia, and other places. An inscription seems to make Semiramus wife of Pul whereas other information indicates that Pul was her son. Semiramis in legend was both the mother and lover of the Assyrian king Ninyas whom she bore from Ninus. Her husband, and/or son (i.e. Pul, i.e. Adadnirari), and grandsons ruled till Tiglathpileser began his reign in 745.
- As stated above, the name "Pul" has been found mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions together with that of Sammu-ramat meaning Semiramis. Semiramus was a legendary Queen of Assyria in whose reign, claim Classical accounts, Assyrian power reached to Bactria and the borders of India and beyond. She was accredited with building cities in Urartu. Semiramus came to power through marrying the Assyrian king, Ninus, who left her a widow. Feats ascribed to Ninus and Semiramus seem to fit both those associated with the era of Tiglathpileser and those of the kings who reigned before him.
Semiramis in legend (said Herodotus, Lucian, Strabo, Diodorus, & co.) was a foundling child daughter of the fish goddess Atargatis of Ascalon in Syria i.e. Phillistia. She was brought up by Summas the royal shepherd and married Onnes governor of Nineveh and a general of King Ninus. Semiramus went with the Assyrians to Bactria which due to her advice was conquered. Her husband suicided and King Ninus married her. She persuaded Ninus to make her sole monarch for five days. [The kings of Assyria did have a practice from time to time of appointing mock monarchs for five days: This was done to avert some predicted disaster. There are hints that attempts may have been made (and maybe with success) by "mock" monarchs to take over and make themselves the real rulers.] King Ninus acquiesced to the request of Semiramus and made her the ruler for what he thought would be only 5 days. Semiramis seized the opportunity to put Ninus to death and reign herself for forty years. Semiramus was accredited with building many buildings, with establishing settlements in Media and in the east, and with founding the Armenian city of Van -formerly called "Shamiramagerd" or Shamirmakert. This city (i.e. Van) was later known as Tushpa and was the capital of Urartu. She brought 12,000 workmen and 6000 craftsmen from Assyria and other parts of the Empire to build the city.
[It is interesting to note that from ca.840-780 the kingdom of Urartu was re-established as an independent unit based on Assyrian prototypes, using Assyrian script, and employing a workforce and population settlement of captives transported from elsewhere. Archaeological evidence (described elsewhere in this work) shows that many of the captives settled in the land of Urartu must have been Israelite.]
Semiramus attempted to conquer India but was defeated in the Punjab and died or abdicated in favor of her son Ninyas.
Conventional histories state that Shamshi Adad (826-811) [contemporary with king Jehu in Israel] king of Assyria was followed by Adadnirari (811-783) [while in Israel, Jehoahaz, ruled] and that Sammu-rammat (Semiramis) was the wife of one or the other, or of both, or wife of one and mother of the other. Sammu-ramat was either a Syrian or a Babylonian princess. Semiramus is identified according to an inscription with Sammuramut who for a time shared power with PUL and apparently had been also the wife of the predecessor of Pul.
An inscription mentions "Adad-nirari" and "Sammu-rammat, she of the palace, his lady". It has been suggested that Adadnirirai somehow became imaged as "husband of his mother" in line with tendencies of the MiddleÂ Eastern Great Mother and son cult.
During the reigns of Shamshi Adad and Adadnirari Babylonian influence greatly increased in Assyria. At that time Assyria ruled over Babylon and the permeation of Assyria by Babylonian culture has been credited to Sammu-rammat who was known to Classical Historians as Semiramis. Some of the Biblical Prophecies directed against Babylonia may have been also intended for what we now understand as having been the Empire of Assyria .
Adadnirari-iii (811-783) was followed by Shalmaneser-iv (783-773) and he by Ashurdan king of Assyria (773-755). Then came Assurnirari (755-745) who was succeeded by Tiglathpileser-iii (745-727). This means that not Tiglathpileser but rather one of his predecessors was equivalent with Pul though the name "Pul" may also have been applicable to Tiglathpileser. The Assyrian monarchs upon ascending the throne, changed their names. The argument equating Pul only with Tiglathpileser should therefore be (perhaps) modified.