Sarcophagus of Eshmunazar II
The sarcophagus of Eshmunazar II, which is now in the Louvre, was unearthed in 1855 in a site near Sidon, and contains an inscription - known as KAI-14, in Phoenician Canaanite, inscribed using the Phoenician alphabet. Now located in the Louvre Museum in Paris, the sarcophagus was created in the early 5th century BCE. The inscription identifies the king inside and warns people not to disturb him. The language used in this inscription is a Canaanite dialect, mutually intelligible with Biblical Hebrew. As in other Phoenician inscriptions, the text seems to use no, or hardly any, matres lectionis. As in Aramaic, the preposition 'אית' is used as an accusative marker, while 'את' is used for 'with'.  The translation below is based on the translation of Julius Oppert, amended with the help of a more recent translation in Prichard & Fleming.
- In the month of Bul,[nb 1] in the fourteenth year of the royalty of King Eshmunazar,[nb 2] King of the two Sidons,
- son of King Tabnit, King of the two Sidons, King Eshmunazar, King of the two Sidons, said as follows: I am carried away,
- before my time, the son of (few) days, an orphan, the son of a widow. And I am lying in this coffin, and in this tomb,
- in the place which I have built. Whoever you are, of royal race or an ordinary man, may he not open this resting-place, and
- may he not search after anything, for nothing whatsoever has been placed into it. May he not move the coffin in which I am resting, nor carry
- me away from this resting-place to another resting-place. Whatever a man may tell thee, do not listen to him: For every royal race and
- every ordinary man, who will open this resting-place or who will carry away the coffin where I repose, or who will carry me
- away from this resting-place: may they not have any funeral couch with the shades (the Rephaïm), may they not be buried in a grave, and may there not be a son or offspring
- to succeed to them, and may the sacred gods abandon them to a mighty ruler who (might) rule them, in order
- to exterminate that royal race or man who will open this resting-place or who will take away
- this coffin, and also the offspring of this royal race, or of that ordinary man. There shall be to them no root below, nor
- fruit above, nor living form under the sun. For I am carried away, before my time, the son of
- (few) days, an orphan, the son of a widow. For I, Eshmunazar, King of the two Sidons, son of
- King Tabnit, King of the two Sidons, the grandson of King Eshmunazar, King of the two Sidons, And my mother Amoashtart,
- the Priestess of Astarte, our mistress, the Queen, the daughter of King Eshmunazar, King of the two Sidons: It is we who have built the temple of
- the gods, and the temple of Astaroth, on the seaside Sidon,[nb 3] and have placed there (the image of) Astaroth in Shamem-Addirim. And it is we
- who have built a temple for Eshmun, the holy prince, at the purpleshells River on the mountain, and have established him in Shamem-Addirim. And it is we who have built the temples
- for the gods of the two Sidons, in the seaside Sidon, tile temple of Baal-Sidon and the temple of Ashtart-Shem-Baal. Moreover, the Lord of Kings[nb 4] gave us
- Dor and Joppa, the mighty lands of Dagon, which are in tile plain of Saron, in accordance with the important deeds which I did. And we annexed them
- to the boundary of the land, that they would belong to the two Sidons for ever. Whoever you are, of royal race or ordinary man, may he not open it
- and may he not uncover me and may he not carry me away from this resting-place. Otherwise,
- the sacred gods shall abandon them and exterminate this royal race and this ordinary man and their offspring for ever.
Line # 16 "wyšrn" = "to set" or "to place" and Line # 17 "wyšbny" = "to establish" use the same root but were spelled by the engraver (the Scribe)differently. Line # 16 used "R" and Line # 17 used "B". In the Phoenician script they are similar and there could be a mistake here by the Scribe or by the person making the drawing of the inscription in the 19th Century. The correct useage is "wyšbn" and Line # 16 is the error,
The text of the 22 line inscription, on the front side of the sarcophagus, follows, with one-to one transliteration into the Hebrew alphabet. The original text contains no word breaks; these are merely suggested; numbers appear in the original inscription in an Egyptian standard.
|Original Phoenician text|
- "Kanaanäische und Aramäische Inschriften", Herbert Donner, Wolfgang Röllig , ISBN 3-447-04587-6
- Cline, Austin. "Sidon Sarcophagus: Illustration of the Sarcophagus of Eshmunazar II Found Near Sidon, Lebanon". About.com. Retrieved 2009-03-27.
- Records of the past. Being English Translations of the Ancient Monuments of Egypt and Western Asia. Vol.9 P.111. 1877.
- Prichard, James B. and Daniel E. Fleming. 2011. The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. P.311
- pages 42 "Ifil" and 107 "wyšbn", see Glossary of Phoenician, by Harris, Zellig S.,: A Grammar of the Phoenician Language, New Haven, 1936
- The eighth month of the Phoenician year which was identical with the Judaic.
- King Eshmunazar lived in the fourth century B.C., this is generally admitted on account of the form of the sarcophagus, which was certainly Egyptian; there are even in the middle of it traces of hieroglyphs which have been erased. The King Tabnit may be the Tennes of Greek authors.
- The seaside Sidon' Sidon eres yam, seems to be one of the two Sidons, the other may have been the Sidon of the mountain. Sennacherib speaks also of the two Sidons, the great and the little one
- The "Lords of the Kings" seem not to be the Kings of Persia, but an epithet applicable to a divine king.