Nebo-Sarsekim Tablet is a clay cuneiform inscription referring to an official at the court of Nebuchadrezzar II, king of Babylon. It may also refer to an official named in the Biblical Book of Jeremiah.
The tablet is a clay cuneiform inscription (2.13 inches; 5.5 cm) with the following translation:
[Regarding] 1.5 minas (0.75 kg) of gold, the property of Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, the chief eunuch, which he sent via Arad-Banitu the eunuch to [the temple] Esangila: Arad-Banitu has delivered [it] to Esangila. In the presence of Bel-usat, son of Alpaya, the royal bodyguard, [and of] Nadin, son of Marduk-zer-ibni. Month XI, day 18, year 10 [of] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
Archaeologists unearthed the tablet in the ancient city of Sippar (about a mile from modern Baghdad) in the 1870s. The British Museum acquired it in 1920, but it had remained in storage unpublished until Michael Jursa (associate professor at the University of Vienna) discovered its relevance to biblical history. He noted that both the name and the title (rab ša-rēši) of the official closely matched the Hebrew text of Jeremiah 39:3. Additionally, the tablet is dated just eight years before the events in Jeremiah. According to Jursa, the rarity of the Babylonian name, the high rank of the rab ša-rēši and the close proximity in time make it almost certain that the person mentioned on the tablet is identical with the biblical figure.
According to Jeremiah (39:3 in the Masoretic Text; 46:3 in the Septuagint), an individual by this same name visited Jerusalem during the Babylonian conquest of it. The verse begins by stating that all the Babylonian officials sat authoritatively in the Middle Gate, then names several of them, and concludes by adding that all the other officials were there as well (implying that the named ones were the most well known).
Over the years, Bible translators have divided the named individuals in different ways (as seen in the table below), rendering anywhere from two to eight names. This cuneiform tablet may prompt more consistent revisions (i.e., alternate hyphenation or deletion of commas) in future versions.
נֵרְגַל שַׂרְאֶצֶר סַמְגַּר-נְבוּ שַׂר-סְכִים רַב-סָרִיס, נֵרְגַל שַׂרְאֶצֶר רַב-מָג
Μαργανασαρ και Σαμαγωθ και Ναβουσαχαρ και Ναβουσαρεις Ναγαργας Νασερραβαμαθ
|Vulgate:||NEREGEL SERESER SEMEGAR NABU SARSACHIM RABSARES NEREGEL SERESER REBMAG|
|Ρεγαλσαρος Αρεμαντος Σεμεγαρος Ναβωσαρις Αχαραμψαρις|
William Whiston's translation follows the KJV/ASV rendition, albeit reversing two of them:
- Nergal Sharezer, Samgar Nebo, Rabsaris, Sarsechim, and Rabmag
The literal translation by Christopher T. Begg and Paul Spilsbury is:
- Regalsar, Aremant, Semegar, Nabosaris, and Acarampsaris
- Jursa, M., Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires 2008-1 pp. 9-10 (link)
- Initial news coverage:
- Hillel Fendel (2007-07-11). "Babylonian King's Eunuch Really Existed!". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 2014-08-14.
- Times Online article by Dalya Alberge
- "British Museum Makes Important Breakthrough In Biblical Archaeology". 24 Hour Museum. 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2014-08-14.
- Telegraph article by Nigel Reynolds with alternate photo
- Moshe Inbar (2007-08-01). נבושרסכים רב סריס - תעודה חדשה [Nebo-Sarsekim Tablet - a new documentary]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2014-08-14.
- Josephus translations:
- Professional commentaries:
- An edition of the Nebu(!)sarsekim Tablet by an Assyriologist (providing transcription, transliteration and translation of its text along with some rudimentary observations on its content and context)
- Christopher Heard (initial observations)
- Christopher Heard (continued discussion)
- John F. Hobbins (with details on Assyrian names by Charles Halton)