Shalmanezer III was one of the great kings of Assyria. He became a king after his father, Ashurnasirpal II, died. The name Shalmaneser means “the God Shulmanu is pre-eminent”. He ruled Assyria during 859 BC – 824 BC which is where he appears on the Old Testament Timeline along with the Biblical Kings of Judah and Israel. Shalmanezer stood as the King of Assyria for a very long time and it was said to be a constant series of campaigns against the Babylonians, Mesopotamians, Syrians, the nations of Urartu and Kizzuwadna. He was able to lead his army through the Lake Van, Taurus Mountains, the Hittites of Carchemish, and the Kingdoms of Aram, Damascus and Hamath.
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The Battle of Qarqar
On 853 BC King Shalmaneser III led the army of Assyria to battle against the allied army of the twelve kings at Qarqar in northwestern Syria. This allied force of the twelve kings was headed by Hadadezer (also known as Benhadad II) of Damascus and the King of Israel, Ahad. This battle was fought during 854 BC – 846 BC and is known as Assyrian Conquest of Syria. King Shalmaneser III conquered Syria and most of Palestine, but he was forced to withdraw his Armies because of having suffered heavy casualties. Ultimately, the invasion that he spearheaded was a failure. Today, located in the British Museum, there is an Assyrian monument that tells how the Battle of Qarqar ends. The monument is called: The Kurkh Monolith.
The Black Obelisk of Shalmanezer III
The Black Obelisk is an important artifact from Shalmanezer’s reign because it describes Shalmanezer’s military achievements. Henry Layard, an archeologist, found the black obelisk when he was excavating the site of Kalhu (an ancient Assyrian capital) in 1846. During the civil war, it was erected as a public monument. The black obelisk records thirty-one years of campaigns. Shalmanezer III, just like other Assyrian kings, collected exotic animals and plant to express his power. He had animals like rhinoceros, elephants, monkeys and camels. In 841 BC, King Shalmanezer III received a great tribute from many kings that symbolized submissiveness. The first to pay tribute to him were the kings of Israel and Judah, followed by the kings of Tyre, Sidon, and Jehu. He had also left more royal inscriptions and annals than any other Assyrian Kings.
The Black Obelisk expressed what the Jehu King of Israel had offered to Shalmanezer III in 841 BC. He also carved his image and name into a huge cliff just beside the so-called Dog River in 835 BC. Shalmanezer III had numerous buildings. His capital was Nimrud (ancient Kalhu) where he built gigantic walls, temples, and gates like the great Ziggurat and Fort Shalmaneser. He gave his forces to his commander-in-chief, Dayyan-Ashur because of old age. Within six years, his son, Ashur-danin-pal revolted against him.
Eventually, he had another son who rose to power and defeated his brother. Shortly after Shalmaneser III died of old age, his son took over as King Shamshi-Adad V. The reign of Shalmaneser III is significant to the Bible because of the Biblical figures that are on two of his monuments. About the Battle of Qarqar, the names Jehu son of Omri on the Black Obelisk and King Ahab on Kurk Monolith are in the bible under 1 Kings and 2 Kings of the old testament.
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