Ashteroth Karnaim

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The capture of the city of "Astartu" (thought to be Ashteroth in the land of king Og of Bashan, east of the Jordan River), by the Neo-Assyrian emperor Tiglath-Pileser III about 730–727 BCE, as depicted on a palace relief now kept on display at the British Museum.[1]

Ashteroth Karnaim (Hebrew: עַשְׁתְּרֹת קַרְנַיִם, romanizedʿAštərōṯ Qarnayim, lit.'Astarte of the Two Horns'), also rendered as Ashtaroth Karnaim, was a city in Bashan east of the Jordan River.

A distinction is to be made between two neighbouring cities: Ashtaroth, and northeast of it Karnaim, the latter annexing the name of the former after Ashtaroth's decline and becoming known as Ashteroth Karnaim.[2]

Ashteroth Karnaim was mentioned under this name in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 14:5), and in the Book of Joshua (Joshua 12:4) where it is rendered simply as "Ashtaroth". Karnaim is also mentioned by the prophet Amos (Book of Amos 6:13) where those in Israel are boasting to have taken it by their own strength.

Karnaim/Ashteroth Karnaim is considered to be the same with Hellenistic era Karnein of 2 Maccabees 12:21, rendered in the King James Version as Carnion,[2] and possibly as "Carnaim" in 1 Maccabees.[citation needed]

Eusebius (c. 260/265–340) writes of Karneia/Karnaia, a large village in "Arabia", where a house of Job was identified by tradition.[2][3]

Ashteroth in the Assyrian relief[edit]

Tell Ashtara is mentioned in the Assyrian relief in 730/727 BCE, which is in the British Museum.[4] It is a town where Levites lived. It is mentioned twice in the cuneiform Amarna letters of 1350 BC. The relief depicts the Assyrians removing the people from Ashteroth in 730–727 BC. The relief was excavated at Nimrud by Austen Henry Layard in 1851. The name Ashteroth is inscribed in cuneiform on the top of the relief. The king in the lower register is Tiglath-pileser III. This is the first exile of the people out of Israel into Assyria. This event is mentioned in the Bible in 2 Kings 15:29: "In the days of King Pekah of Israel, King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria came and captured Ijon, Abel-beth-maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor—Gilead, Galilee, the entire region of Naphtali; and he deported the inhabitants to Assyria."

The Assyrians returned in 722/721 BC and removed the tribes of Israel to Assyria. This relief is hugely important because it shows the beginning of the exile of the 10 tribes of Israel. They never returned. The floppy turbans and pointed shoes and the style of the cloaks are typical for Israel at that period; the same clothes are shown on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III.[5] The Black Obelisk is dated to about 825 BCE. It was also excavated at Nimrud by Sir Austen Henry Layard in 1848. It shows Jehu, King of Northern Israel, or his representative offering tribute to Shalmaneser III on the second register down. The clothes are the same as on the Ashteroth relief.


The name translates literally to "Astarte of the Two Horns". Astarte was a goddess of civilisation and fertility in Canaanite religion.


The identification of the two sites is not straightforward, but there is some degree of consensus.[6]


Karnaim/Ashteroth Karnaim[edit]

All sites identified by different scholars at different times as Karnaim/Ashteroth Karnaim lay in modern Syria in the area of Daraa.

Other possible sites proposed in the past are:

  • Al Churak, a site proposed by 14th-century topographer and traveller Ishtori Haparchi, aka Astori Pharchi, being eight miles northeast of the ancient ruins known as 'Draä'[8]
  • Muzayrib, an ancient fortress town[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jones, Clifford M. (1971). Old Testament Illustrations. CUP Archive. p. 77.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Negev; Gibson, 2005, p. 277.
  3. ^ Eusebius, Section K: Genesis: Karnaeim. Astaroth Karnaeim.
  4. ^ "relief, Museum number: 118908". The British Museum.
  5. ^ "obelisk, Museum number: 118885". The British Museum.
  6. ^ a b c Wolf, Umhau C. (ed.), Notes. pp. 76-252.
  7. ^ Galil, Gershon. "Ashtaroth in the Amarna Period", Israel Oriental Studies XVIII, ed. Isre'el, Singer and Zadok, 1998, p. 373
  8. ^ a b Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, [1] and [2] A descriptive geography and brief historical sketch of Palestine, Philadelphia: A. Hart, 1850. Both sources accessed in July 2018


  • Negev, Avraham; Gibson, Shimon (2005). Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 277. ISBN 9780826485717.
  • Eusebius of Caesarea (1971). Wolf, Umhau C. (ed.). Onomasticon (Concerning the Place Names in Sacred Scripture). Karnaeim. Astaroth Karnaeim. There is now a large village of Arabia (in a corner of the Batanea) which is called Karnaia beyond the (river) Jordan. There according to tradition the house of Job is pointed out.
  • Wolf, Umhau C., ed. (1971). Eusebius of Caesarea, Onomasticon: Notes. The two villages are best located at Tell 'ashtarah and Sheih Sa'ad. The former is a large tell suitable for the Old Testament Ashtaroth (cf. K. 12:11). Perhaps the latter succeeded as chief administrative city of the district of Karnaeim (cf. K. 112:3). However in the Bible, Astaroth is merely identifying the site of a battle which took place near the city. If so, then Karnaeim added to the name gives the district in which the battle took place (cf. Biblical Archaeologist Dec. 1962, p.109). Eusebius seems to look for two sites.
  • Gershon Galil (1998). Isre'el, Singer and Zadok (ed.). Israel Oriental Studies XVIII - Past Links: Studies in the Languages and Cultures of the Ancient Near East. Eisenbrauns. p. 373. ISBN 1-57506-035-3.