Tartan (Assyrian)

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A Tartan (Hebrew: תַּרְתָּן‎; Greek: Θαρθαν; Latin: Tharthan), Aramaic: ܬܵܪܬܵܢ‎‎ Tartan) was the commander-in-chief of the Assyrian army. In the Bible, the Assyrian king sends a Tartan with two other officials to deliver a threatening message to Jerusalem,[1] and Sargon II, the king of Assyria, sends a Tartan who takes Ashdod.[2]

In Assyria, the Tartan ranked next to the king.[3] The office seems to have been duplicated, and there was a tartanu imni or 'tartan of the right', as well as a tartanu shumeli or 'tartan of the left'. In later times the title became territorial; we read of a tartan of 'Kummuh' (Commagene). The title is also applied to the commanders of foreign armies ; thus Sargon speaks of the Tartan Musurai, or 'Egyptian Tartan'. The Tartan of 720 BC was probably called Ashur-iska-danin; in 694 BC, Abdai, and in 686 BC Bel-emurani, held the title. It does not seem to have been in use among the closely related Babylonians.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 2 Kings 18:17
  2. ^ Isaiah 20:1
  3. ^ D. J. Wiseman, Tartan, in: New Bible Dictionary – Third Edition, hrsg. von J. D. Douglas (First Ed.), N. Hillyer (Second. Ed.), D. R. W. Wood (Third Ed.) with the consulting Editors for the Third Edition I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, D. J. Wiseman, Nottingham 14. Edtition 2013, S. 1154b.

This article incorporates text from the 1903 Encyclopaedia Biblica article "TARTAN", a publication now in the public domain.