King Cushan-Rishathaim. Part Two: Half a Millennium before Hammurabi

Image result for othniel


 Damien F. Mackey


Mention of “Jabin of Hazor” in one of the Mari letters has led even some astute revisionists, such as Drs. Courville and Osgood, seeking more solid ground for the Hammurabic era, to bind Hammurabi and his contemporary, Zimri-Lim, to the era of Joshua and his foe, Jabin of Hazor.




Dr. Courville, writing his important two-volume set, The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications (1971), was concerned about establishing an ancient history/archaeology that properly accorded with the biblical data. He, realising that uncertainty about the proper date for Hammurabi, the famous king of Babylon, had left that monarch, as Courville wrote, “floating about in a liquid chronology of Chaldea”, had set about to establish some sort of biblico-historical anchor for Hammurabi. (The great King of Babylon, gradually shifted down the centuries by historians, was then dated to the C18th BC).

Courville’s choice of an anchor for Hammurabi and his contemporary, Zimri-Lim of Mari, was one “Jabin of Hazor”, who figures in the correspondence of Zimri-Lim. Courville identified this Jabin with the King Jabin of Hazor at the time of Joshua, thereby pinning kings Hammurabi and Zimri-Lim to the C15th BC. Other revisionists have followed him in this, including the perceptive Dr. John Osgood, in his generally brilliant archaeological revision:

The Times of the Judges—The Archaeology:

(b) Settlement and Apostasy



Whilst Dr. Osgood probably does this better than anyone else, he has unfortunately (I believe) attempted to fuse two biblico-historical eras that were, in fact, separated the one from the other by about half a millennium.

Dr. Osgood, who will most convincingly in this article establish a precise archaeological phase (Khabur ware period) for the enigmatic:

King Cushan-Rishathaim


of the early Judges period (3:8-10):


The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. But when they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. The Spirit of the Lord came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. The Lord gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him.


will, however, on the flimsiest of evidence, date Zimri-Lim (and so Hammurabi) to “just prior to” this biblical incident. Dr. Osgood wrote:


The question of the Khabur ware period becomes even more intriguing when we turn to the Mesopotamian scene ….


A Synchronism Archaeologically


Just prior to the Khabur surge and dominance, we are in the period of Mari’s zenith under Zimri-Lim. It was during his early reign that a letter was written concerning the shipment of a significant quantity of tin to the Palestinian city of Hazor (among others)—no doubt to be used for bronze, and some of that most certainly for weapons.15


The king named was IBNI-ADAD, or the same as JABIN-HADAD, a name that brings to mind the king of Hazor JABIN (Joshua 11:1). He certainly would have an urgent desire for bronze and hence tin as he heard the news of the approaching Israelite conquests. Moreover, Jabin and Zimri-Lim fit archaeologically with the time surrounding the establishment of the MB I civilisation of Palestine, here identified with the Israelite conquerors. Though nothing is proved, the fit is excellent for such an identification.


[End of quote]


Unfortunately for both Courville and Osgood, and those who have followed them on this, the name “Jabin” was used by various rulers of Hazor down through the centuries.

We read, for instance, at (


Five different references to Jabin of Hazor


Archeology now has uncovered a total of three different references to Jabin, in addition to the two Bible references to Jabin of Joshua (1406 BC) and Deborah (1200 BC). This proves the Bible was right all along and that “Jabin” is a dynastic name for a series of kings rather than the one time use of a single king. Two 18-17th century inscriptions have been found at Mari and Hazor with the name Jabin. A third is on the names list of Ramesses II at the Amon Temple at Karnak 1279-1212 BC.


  1. The Accadian tablet from Mari reads: “Ibni-Addad king of Hazor.” (18th century BC)
  2. The Old Babylonian tablet letter from Hazor is actually addressed “To Ibni”. (18-17th century BC)
  3. The Ramseese II namelist at Karnak reads: “Qishon of Jabin”


Drs. Courville and Osgood have picked out quite the wrong Jabin of Hazor for the alignment with Zimri-Lim, and hence for the establishment of a rock-solid historical synchronism for Hammurabi. The correct era for Hammurabi and Zimri-Lim is clearly the time of King Solomon, as eventually pioneered by Dean Hickman (1986), and now flourishing with abundant synchronisms. See my:

Hammurabi and Zimri-Lim as Contemporaries of Solomon


Dr. Osgood’s view that “Jabin and Zimri-Lim fit archaeologically with the time surrounding the establishment of the MB I civilisation of Palestine, here identified with the Israelite conquerors”, whilst correctly identifying the Israelites archaeologically with the MB I people, is only because the conventional historians have incorrectly dated Zimri-Lim to the C18th BC, which is wrongly identified as the MB I phase.


However, he is wise enough to add to this that “…nothing is proved …”.




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