A curse on resettling a city from the Hittite empire (Ezra 4)

Bilderesultat for King Anitta

Illustration: The Hittite imperial capital of Hattusas destroyed by King Anitta from Kussara, who set up a stela bearing this curse:

Whatever king after me tries to resettle Hattusas, let the Stormgod of the Sky strike him!

A Hittite document demonstrates the lasting results insurrection against one’s sovereign might have brought about in the ancient Near East. In the wake of the death of the Hittite king Pithana, numerous cities revolted as Anitta, Pithana’s heir, attempted to consolidate his control. King Anitta, however, proved to be a powerful ruler who was able to defeat the rebellious cities during his first regnal year (first partial year of his reign). He completely decimated the insubordinate towns and annihilated their inhabitants, proclaiming a curse upon any future king who might attempt to resettle the ruins. The remains would stand as a reminder of what had befallen those who had defiled the Hittite king.

A similar concern existed in the later Persian empire. When the returning Jewish exiles began to rebuild the Jerusalem temple, their enemies drafted a libelous letter to king Artarxerxes, reminding him of the previous rebellions of Jerusalem and suggesting that if the city were rebuilt it would exist as a seedbed of resistance to Persian rule. Their tactics were successful; the Isarelites were forced to desist from work on the temple.

In the ancient world kings were ever on the lookout for signs of rebellion. Reports that a city was about to revolt could prove disastrous for that city. The false accusation against the Jews was more than a nuisance: It could have provoked a holocaust.


 

 

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