Bible Evidence - Shalmaneser Provides Jehu's Portrait

The Black Obelisk

This takes us back to the time of Shalmaneser III, and provides the only known picture of a Hebrew king. It is a black, limestone pillar (about 6 1/2 feet tall) with four sides covered with pictures and writ­ing, recording (among other things) how Jehu king of Israel paid homage to Shalmaneser. Jehu is named and shown prostrating him­self before him, and the text states the value of the homage:

`I received from him silver, gold, a golden bowl, golden goblets, pitchers of gold, tin, a staff for the hand of the king ...'


After the death of Ahab (king of Israel) in 853 BC, his son, Ahaziah, ruled for two years, dying prematurely in 852 BC, then another son Jehoram (or Joram) ruled for ten years. This was an intensely evil reign, and in 841 BC a military captain named Jehu was `anointed' king of Israel by Elisha's messenger, and commanded to destroy the Ahab dynasty. All this is recorded in 2 Kings 9 and 10. Jehu went on to reign for 28 years, beginning a dynasty of some 100 years.

Jehu took a chariot to the town of Jezreel where Ahab's son, King Joram (recovering from battle wounds) was accompanied by another Ahaziah, the twenty-one year old king of Judah (a hopeless and wicked individual). Jehu's chariot raised such a cloud of dust that the Jezreel town watchman thought it was a large company approaching. However, as Jehu drew nearer, he reported - `The driving is like the driving of Jehu ... for he driveth furiously' (2 KINGS 9:20). Jehu shot Joram with an arrow as he tried to escape, and also fatally wounded Ahaziah. He entered the town and found the notorious Jezebel, Ahab's widow, who had `painted her face' and was looking out of an upper window. He ordered her to be unceremoniously thrown out of the window to her death, and dogs ate her flesh.

Jehu set about purging Baal worship out of Israel with considerable cunning and violence, exterminat­ing all the failed royal house of Israel, and the priests of Baal. From this obelisk we learn that Jehu (in the first year of his reign) attempted to buy the friendship of Assyria by paying homage to Shalmaneser III.

In this monument, discovered in 1845 at Nimrud, the existence of yet another Bible king receives solid corroboration from a contemporary secular record.


Excerpt from Peter Masters: "Heritage of Evidence in the British Museum", The Wakeman Trust, London 2004 (available in book stores)