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Standard Inscription of King Ashur-nâsir-pal II

The Assyrian kings (and probably most kings in general) were rather full of themselves and very boastful, and you see this well illustrated here. This pride of the Assyrians God certainly found objectionable (see Isaiah 10:1-19, especially verse 12 onwards). The inscription below, especially the bits about the king building things, also reminds me of the pride of king Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30) before God humbled him. In Jonah's case, the Assyrian king and his citizens humbled themselves and repented, so God had mercy and spared them.

Below is the translation of the standard inscription, adapted from the British Museum sign (with some comments added by me) for the bas relief of Ashurnasirpal II (884 – 859 BC) flanked by protective spirits from the Nimrud Central palace.


The so-called Standard Inscription of Ashurnasirpal was carved across the centre of every wall panel in the North-West Palace, forming a decorative band around each room. Occasionally, on narrow panels, part of the text was omitted. Otherwise there was no significant variation and the catalogue of royal titles, claims and achievements was simply repeated over and over again.

Palace of Ashurnasirpal, priest of Ashur, favourite of Enlil and Ninurta, beloved of Anu (sky god symbolised by a tiara in wall carvings) and Dagan (thought by some to be a fish god), the weapon of the great gods, the mighty king, king of the world, king of Assyria; son of Tukulti-Ninurta (that is Tukulti-Ninurta II, 889884 BC), the great king, the mighty king, king of the world, king of Assyria, the son of Adad-nirari (that is Adadnirari II, 910889 BC, not the later Adad-nirari III who some suggest might be the king that ruled during Jonah's time), the great king, the mighty king, king of Assyria; the valiant man, who acts with the support of Ashur, his lord, and has no equal among the princes of the four quarters of the world; the wonderful shepherd (cf. Nahum 3:18) who is not afraid of battle; the great flood which none can oppose; the king who makes those who are not subject to him submissive; who has subjugated all mankind; the mighty warrior who treads on the neck of his enemies (cf. Joshua 10:24), tramples down all foes, and shatters the forces of the proud; the king who acts with the support of the great gods, and whose hand has conquered all lands, who has subjugated all the mountains and received their tribute, taking hostages and establishing his power over all countries.

When Ashur (or Assur, Assyrian sun god and later god of war, often symbolised by a winged sun), the lord who called me by my name and has made my kingdom great, entrusted his merciless weapon to my lordly arms, I overthrew the widespread troops of the land of Lullume (in Western Iran?) in battle. With the assistance of Shamash (sun god) and Adad (storm god), the gods who help me, I thundered like Adad the destroyer over the troops of the Nairi lands (southern Turkey / Armenia), Habhi, Shubaru, and Nirib. I am the king who has brought into submission at his feet the lands from beyond the Tigris to Mount Lebanon and the Great Sea [the Mediterranean], the whole of the land of Laqe (south Euphrates?), the land of Suhi (on the middle Euphrates) as far as Rapiqu, and whose hand has conquered from the source of the river Subnat to the land of Urartu (Arrarat or Armenia).

The area from the mountain passes of Kirruri to the land of Gilzanu (western Iran), from beyond the Lower Zab to the city of Til-Bari which is north of the land of Zaban, from the city of Til-sha-abtani to Til-sha-Zabdani, Hirimu and Harutu, fortresses of the land of Karduniash [Babylonia], I have restored to the borders of my land. From the mountain passes of Babite to the land of Hashmar I have counted the inhabitants as peoples of my land. Over the lands which I have subjugated I have appointed my governors, and they do obeisance.

I am Ashurnasirpal, the celebrated prince, who reveres the great gods, the fierce dragon, conqueror of the cities and mountains to their furthest extent, king of rulers who has tamed the stiff-necked peoples (this term commonly appears in the Bible too), who is crowned with splendour, who is not afraid of battle, the merciless champion who shakes resistance, the glorious king, the shepherd, the protection of the whole world, the king, the word of whose mouth destroys mountains and seas, who by his lordly attack has forced fierce and merciless kings from the rising to the setting sun to acknowledge one rule.

The former city of Kalhu [Nimrud], which Shalmaneser king of Assyria, a prince who preceded me, had built, that city had fallen into ruins and lay deserted. That city I built anew. I took the peoples whom my hand had conquered from the lands which I had subjugated, from the land of Suhi (on the middle Euphrates), from the whole of the land of Laqe, from the city of Sirqu on the other side of the Euphrates, from the furthest extent of the land of Zamua (in Media), from Bit-Adini and the land of Hatte (Syria and Palestine?), and from Lubarna, king of the land of Patina (Southern Turkey), and made them settle there.

I removed the ancient mound and dug down to the water level. I sank the foundations 120 brick courses deep. A palace with halls of cedar, cypress, juniper, box-wood, meskannu-wood, terebinth and tamarisk, I founded as my royal residence for my lordly pleasure for ever.

Creatures of the mountains and seas I fashioned in white limestone and alabaster, and set them up at its gates. I adorned it, and made it glorious, and set ornamental knobs of bronze all around it. I fixed doors of cedar, cypress, juniper and meskannu-wood in its gates. I took in great quantities, and placed there, silver, gold, tin, bronze and iron, booty taken by my hands from the lands which I had conquered.


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