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Stela of Shalmaneser III, around 852 BC, Kurkh, near Diyabakir, Turkey
This stela shows Shalmaneser III (858 - 824 BC) worshipping the symbols of his gods (the moon disc of Sin, the tiara of Anu, the star of Ishtar, and the winged sun disc of Assur). The inscription describes his campaigns up to 853 BC. In the following year, Shalmaneser passed through Diyabakir region, and probably then ordered this stela to be set up in emulation of his father's.

In 853 BC Shalmaneser III fought with 12 allied princes at Qarqar in Syria, including King Ahab of Israel. Adadidri of Damascus (the second of three Ben-hadads mentioned in the Bible) was the leader of the allies. Although Shalmaneser claimed in high-sounding words to have won a brilliant victory, he could not hide the fact that his first encounter with the Syrian opponents had ended at best in a draw, perhaps even victory, for the allies.

Ahab of Israel seems to have been very strong militarily at the time. According to Shalmaneser's list of his opponents in the battle at Qarqar, which is inscribed on the back of this stela, of the 3,940 chariots fighting against the Assyrians 2,000 belonged to Ahab, whereas the other allies had mustered altogether only 1,940. Of the 52,900 foot soldiers Ahab furnished 10,000. When the battle at Qarqar had checked Shalmaneser’s advance, Ahab, conscious of his strength, immediately turned against Damascus to regain possession of the Transjordan city of Ramoth-gilead, but lost his life in that battle (1Kings 22). (source: SDA Bible Commentary Vol. 2, article on Ancient World from c. 1400 - 586 BC)

For more info on Shalmaneser III from the SDA Bible Commentary, click Here.

Another reference to look up: Mitchell, T. C., The Bible in the British Museum, (London: The British Museum Press) 1988, pp. 44-45.

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