Since the building of the city of Babel, not a single recorded dynasty originated in the city precincts of Babylon for over 1000 years. Not until the renowned First Dynasty of Babylon did it become the supreme seat of political power. Hammurabi — or rather each historian who has written about him — has made The First Dynasty of Babylon famous. It was a time of blossoming culture, of proverbial literature, of law. Vast quantities of written material have been recovered from this and succeeding centuries. Shortly after archaeologists uncovered the history of this period it was commonplace to connect Hammurabi with Amraphel of the Bible (Genesis 14). Today the equasion of Hammurabi with the generation of Abram has been abandoned. In its place confusion reigns. Dates for this famous king now range from the "short chronology" of Albright and Cornelius through the "middle" of S. Smith and the comparatively "long" chronological reckonings of Goetze. In other words, anywhere from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century before the present era.
Why Hammurabi Dated Early
To bring disrepute upon the Law of God critical scholars early indulged in speculating that Babylonian law was the basis of the Hebrew Torah. Proof? — There was none: History, when properly restored, overturns the hypothesis. Whatever influence there may have been was in the opposite direction. Culturally the Hebrews in Solomon's day led the world. The reigns succeeding Hammurabi's saw a rapid expansion in writing of proverbs and other wisdom literature — a consequence of Solomonic influence. Historians have assumed that this literature long antedated Solomon. Contrariwise, the writing of this kind of literature in Mesopotamia can now be proved a result of direct influence of Solomon's Empire on surrounding cultures. Egypt exhibits the same literary features at the same time — not centuries before. Now for the political restoration of the land of Shinar. In the days of Saul and David the cities of Sumer were in a three-corner struggle for supreme political dominion. In the struggle between Isin and Larsa, the latter won, only to be devoured by the city of Babylon. The events may be summarized in four concerted attacks. Babylon first reduced Isin, but was forced to yield to Larsa's military attack and final conquest of the city two years later. In another eight years, however, Babylon had grown in strength sufficiently to challenge the hegemony of Larsa over Shinar. Isin was recaptured. Then, 23 years later, Larsa succumbed to Hammurabi.
The Dynasty of Larsa
To date the First Dynasty of Babylon correctly, it is first necessary to restore the royal family at Larsa to its true place in history. This dynasty rose to power during the struggles between Elam and the Third Dynasty of Ur. The last king of Isin I — Damiq-ilishu — was driven from the city after completing a 23-year reign (1098-1075). Rim-sin, the victor, and king of Larsa won the war and incorporated the city of Isin into his realm in his year 29 — 1075-1074. (Where Damiq-ilishu fled, and how much longer he reigned elsewhere, will be discussed later under the First Sealand Dynasty.) From the synchronism between these two kings the entire Larsa Dynasty may be restored as follows (see "Journal of Cuneiform Studies", III, "Nippur und Isin", page 27, for lengths of reign).
Kings of Larsa Lengths of Reign Dates
Naplanum 21 1306-1285
Emizum 28 1285-1257
Samu'um 35 1257-1222
Zaba'a 9 1222-1213
Gungunum 27 1213-1186
Abi-sare 11 1186-1175
Sumu-ilum 29 1175-1146
Nur-Adad 16 1146-1130
Sin-idinnam 7 1130-1123
Sin-iribam 2 1123-1121
Sin-iqisham 5 1121-1116
Zilli-Adad 1 1116-1115
Warad-Sin 12 1115-1103
Rim-Sin 61 1103-1042
When Did Hammurabi Reign?
Larsa's last king, Rim-sin, reigned full 60 years. Then, in his year 61, Hammurabi attacked the aging king and captured Larsa in Hammurabi's year 29 — 1043-1042. This victory became the "year-name" of the succeeding calendar year. A second synchronism (already referred to) between the First Dynasty of Babylon and Larsa is provided in a historical record from the reign of Hammurabi's father, Sin-muballit. Sin-muballit attacked Isin and reduced it to submission in his year 16, which was year 22 of Damiq-ilishu — 1077-1076. This event became the year name of Sin-muballit's succeeding year. ("Orientalia", series 2, no. 24, "Chronological Notes," by H. Levy.) Two years later the Babylonians were driven out and Isin was overthrown by Larsa in Rim-sin's year 29. The event became the "year-name" of Rim-sin's year 30. (It was the custom in that day to name each year after some famous event in the preceding twelve months.)
Then, in year 6 of Hammurabi, Isin was recaptured by Babylon. A tablet dating from the time of the conquest bears the following double dating: "the eighth and tenth year since Isin was captured" ("Chronology of Ancient Western Asia and Egypt", by P. Van der Meer, page 44). These chronological notes make absolutely certain the dates of the First Dynasty of Babylon as follows:
Names of Kings of First Lengths of Reign Dates Dynasty of Babylon from "Year-Names"
Sumu-abum 14 1174-1160 Sumu-la-ilum 36 1160-1124
Zabum 14 1124-1110
Apil-Sin 18 1110-1092
Sin-muballit 20 1092-1072
Hammurabi (often spelled 43 1072-1029 Hammurapi)
Samsu-iluna 38 1029- 991
Abi-eshuh 28 991- 963
Ammi-ditana 37 963- 926
Ammi-zaduga 21 926- 905
Samsu-ditana 26 905- 879
Of special note are the 26 years for the last king. Many books erroneously insert the figure 31. Only 26 year-names have ever been found. ("Journal of Near Eastern Studies", "The Date List of Samsu-ditana," by Samuel I. Feigin, vol. XIV, no. 3, July 1955.) The figure 31 is taken from a king list which dates the reigns differently. The two methods of dating should not be mixed promiscuously. From the king list the reigns of Hammurabi to the end of the dynasty are as follows:
Names of First Lengths of Reign Dates Dynasty of Babylon from King List
Hammurabi 55 1072-1017
Samsu-iluna 35 1017- 982
Abi-eshuh 25 982- 957
Ammi-ditana 25 957- 932
Ammi-zaduga 22 932- 910
Samsu-ditana 31 910- 879
The total from Hammurabi to the close of the dynasty is precisely the same — 1072-879. The early kings of the dynasty appear as follows from the king list:
Sumu-abum 15 1174-1159
Sumu-la-ilum 35 1159-1124
Zabum 14 1124-1110
Apil-Sin 18 1110-1092
Sinmuballit 30 1092-1062
It is to be noticed that the king list preserves a ten-year joint reign in the early part of Hammurabi's long government — from 1072-1062. These divergent figures are not mere scribal errors. They are genuine. Egyptian records and the Bible reflect the same practice. In most cases it is due to joint reigns — of father with son. On occasion they are due to internal political changes of which the divergencies in dating are the sole remaining testimony. In summary: Hammurabi is the contemporary of Saul and David! The ancient king lists recovered by archaeological excavation insert two lengthy dynasties after the First Dynasty of Babylon — the First Dynasty of the Sealand and the Dynasty of the Kassu or Kassites. The "Sealand" is referred to in the Bible as the "Desert of the Sea" in Isaiah 21:1, KJV. It was originally assumed that these dynasties were successive. Today it is recognized that they were, in part, contemporary with the First Dynasty of Babylon and with each other. The list of the Kassite kings is so badly shattered that it is not possible to restore it without recourse to Assyrian history. But it is possible at this point to present the history of the Sealand in full.
No greater enigma faces Mesopotamian archaeologists and historians than the mystery surrounding the Sealand Dynasty. The total reigns of its kings — several of which are exceedingly long — still fall 22 years short of the total of 368 years assigned to the dynasty by the ancient scribes. At first numerous readings were proposed to "restore" the text. Critics simply could not accept the simple evidence of the tablets. Not until 1921 was a clear reproduction of an original tablet made available, by C. J. Gadd. (See Pallis' "Chronology of the Shub-Ad Culture", page 309.) The evidence was clear. The scribe had indeed added 22 years too many! Or had he? The mistaken figure was presumably that of king Damiq-ilishu. But why should his reign be shortened 22 years? Could it be that the missing 22 years were the same 22 years which had elapsed in the reign of Damiq-ilishu of Isin at the time of the conquest of Isin by Sin-muballit of Babylon? Was Damiq-ilishu of Isin the same man as Damiq-ilishu of the Sealand? Indeed! And the restoration of Mesopotamian history when completed will confirm it. Damiq-ilishu was king of both Isin and the Sealand. The scribe recorded in the Sealand Dynasty only those years of his reign which elapsed after Isin ceased to be independent. Isin, it will be remembered, was reduced to submission in year 22 of Damiq-ilishu by Babylon. Though Damiq-ilishu contained at Isin one more year — his 23rd — it was included in the reckoning of the Sealand because the king was independent only in the Sealand, not at Isin. Following are the kings of the Sealand (excluding the first two, which will be discussed immediately after).
First Dynasty of Lengths of Reign Dates the Sealand
Damiq-ilishu (before & (First 22 years) (1098-1076) after Sin-muballit's conquest of Isin) 16 1076-1060
Ishkibal 15 1060-1045
Shushshi 24 1045-1021
Gulishar 55 1021- 966
Pesgaldaramash 50 966- 916
Aidarakalamma 28 916- 888
Ekurulanna 26 888- 862
Melamkurkurra 7 862- 855
Ea-gamil 9 855- 846
Some transcribers have 26 years for Shushshi, but see Pallis' summary regarding the clear reading of 24 years. In 846 the Dynasty of the Sealand was overthrown by the Kassites in a famous war that involved Assyria and other Mesopotamian powers. In the king list appears a vague notation after Gulishar. Its implication is that another king reigned at the same time as Pesgaldaramash. Who was that other king? Listed before Damiq-ilishu in the Sealand Dynasty are two Kings of another branch of the royal house. Their reigns may readily be dated from synchronisms with the First Dynasty of Babylon. Van der Meer's study (page 21 of "Chronology of Ancient Western Asia", second edition) proves that the first of these two kings, Iluma-ilum, came to power in the year 14 of Samsu-iluna of Babylon. That is 1016-1015 (See the chart giving "year-name" sequence). Iluma-ilum reigned 60 years — 1016-956. He was succeeded by the second in the king list: Itti-ili-nibi, who reigned for 56 years — 956-900. Little else is known of the Sealand other than these royal names.
Nebuchadnezzar the First
The end of the First Dynasty of Babylon in 879 brought to prominence a new line of kings from the city of Isin. One of its kings is the famous Nebuchadnezzar I, a predecessor of the Nebuchadnezzar of the Bible. The new Isin royalty is often referred to as the Pashe Dynasty. It exercised its government both from its native city and from the city of Babylon. At that time in history Babylon played a role in Mesopotamia similar to the role of Thebes in Egypt. Both cities had become the political and religious capitals of their respective regions. It has been too long assumed by historians that the Second Dynasty of Isin followed the Kassite rule in Mesopotamia. It did not. It was contemporary with it. The kings of Isin record several wars with the Kassites. Nebuchadnezzar I attained the epithet "destroyer of the Kassites" consequent to his wars with them. Who the Kassites were will be discussed in the next chapter of this Compendium. The most thorough discussion of the new royal house at Isin is found in the University of Chicago Press publication: "Second Dynasty of Isin according to a New King List Tablet," by Arno Poebel. The Dynasty of Pashe or Isin II appears in chart form thus:
Names of Kings Lengths of Reign Dates or Isin II
Marduk-kabit-ahheshu 18 879-861
Itti-marduk-balatsu 8 861-853
Ninutar-nadin-shumi 6 853-847
Nebu-kudur-uzur (or 22 847-825 Nebuchadnezzar I)
Enlil-nadin-apli 4 825-821
Marduk-nadin-ahhe 18 821-803
Marduk-zapik-zeri 13 803-790
Adad-apal-iddin 22 790-768
Marduk- . . 1 768-767
Marduk- . . 12 767-755
Nabu-sum-libur 8 755-747
The names of two of the kings are partly broken away in the most complete tablet. But they may be restored by other records to be discussed later.
Era of Nabonassar
At this point the history of ancient Babylonia is correct. Through all succeeding centuries the reigns after 747 have been known and available to the public. The year 747 marks the beginning of the "Era of Nabonassar" — named after the first of a new series of kings, native and foreign, who ruled at Babylon. The ancestors of Nabonassar are broken away in the king lists. The classic account of these later kings has always been, since its writing, the Canon of Ptolemy. In early days the Babylonian Chronicle, unearthed through archaeological expeditions, contained the same information — only in more detail. For those who do not have ready access to the Canon of Ptolemy for the Era of Nabonassar the following list is provided. The Greek spellings of Ptolemy are not used as generally the Babylonian names find complete acceptance with scholars. A list of the kings is available in "The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings", by Edwin R. Thiele, page 293.
Kings of Babylon from Lengths of Reign Dates the Era of Nabonassar to the Persian Conquest
Nabonassar 14 747-733
Nabu-nadinzir 2 733-731
Ukinzer and Pulu (Tiglath- 5 731-726 pilerer III)
Ululai (Shalmaneser V) 5 726-721
Marduk-appal-iddin (Mero 12 721-709 dach-baladan)
Sargon 5 709-704
Two kingless years 704-702
Bel-ibni 3 702-699
Assur-nadin-shum 6 699-693
Nergal-ushezib 1 693-692
Mushezib-Marduk 4 692-688
Eight kingless years 688-680
Assur-akh-iddin 13 680-667
Shamash-shum-ukin 20 667-647
Kandalanu 22 647-625
Nabopolassar 21 625-604
Nebuchadnezzar 43 604-561
Amel-Marduk (Evil-merodach) 2 561-559
Nergal-shar-usur 4 559-555
Nabonidus (father of Belshazzar) 17 555-538
Babylon fell to the Persian and Median armies at an annual festival — a new moon — in the seventh month in year 17 of Nabonidus (539). But the calendar year continued to the beginning of spring in 538. The succeeding kings of Babylonia were the Persian rulers, whose reigns are commonly available. The finest summary of the period after the fall of Babylon is "Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C.-A.D. 75", by Richard A. Parker and Waldo H. Dubberstein.
Three Succeeding Dynasties
Though the Second Isin Dynasty was succeeded at Babylon by king Nabonassar in 747, the king lists add three other short dynasties immediately after the Isin Dynasty. These ruled to 700, the year of the great Median rebellion against Assyria, recorded by Herodotus. These three short dynasties are listed next.
Second Dynasty of Lengths of Reign Dates the Sealand
Simmash-Shipak 18 747-729
Ea-mukin-shumi 5 months 729
Kashshu-nadin-ahhe 3 729-726
In 726 the Second Sealand Dynasty was displaced by kings from the House of Bazu.
Kings of Dynasty Lengths of Reign Dates of Bazu
E-ulmash-shakin-shumi 17 726-709
Ninurta-Kudurri-usur 3 709-706
Shiriktum-Shukamuna 3 months 706
The year 706 witnessed an Elamite incursion into the land of Akkad, an event which ultimately made possible the rebellion of the Medes (in 700) against their Assyrian overlords. The "Elamite Dynasty", the seventh to exercise authority at Babylon, was composed of one king: Marbiti-apal-usur. He reigned for 6 years 706-700. With this the history of Southern Mesopotamia is restored, except for the Kassite kings of Karduniash. This line of kings cannot be placed until the history of Assyria is presented.