MISSING LINKS IN ASSYRIAN TABLETS #8
THE BEHISTUN ROCK
No better evidence can be desired to establish a fact or to
settle a date, than that of a monument created by a public
authority. It settles the question of a historical fact, and few
persons would be disposed to question a statement of a date found
on one. The testimony of written documents may undergo a change
due to fraud or accident, or may be liable to corruption or
The old caravan road from Babylon to Ecbatana (ancient
capital of Median) runs by a limestone mountain rising out of the
plain to a height of 1,700 feet. About 300 feet above the base,
on the perpen dicular side, is a rock face containing an
inscription made by the order of Darius the Great, about 515 B.C.
The inscription not only fixes the date of his reign but provides
some interesting references to the so-called "Lost Tribes of
Israel." The memorial measures about 150 feet long by 100 feet
The labor of preparing and polishing the mountain side on
the sheer cliff must have been a painstaking task. Where the rock
was defective or unsound, pieces were filled in and secured with
molten lead. Holes or fissures in the rock were filled up in the
same way, and the whole of the face of the rock divided into
panels and beautifully polished. The lettering had then been
engraved on the prepared surface, and treated with a coat of
The inscriptions were in three languages, Babylonian
(Accadian), Elamite (Susian) and Persian. They were chiefly in
the cuneiform or wedge-like characters. While many scholars
should be recognized for their efforts toward solving the puzzle
of the wedge-shaped script, a young English officer in the
Persian army, Henry C. Rawlinson, is given credit for
successfully deciphering the Old Persian signs. The trilingual
inscription on what today is known as the "Behistun Rock"
provided the 'key.' Once it was determined that the texts of the
three languages were identical it was only a matter of time till
scholars were able to read the Elamite and Accadian writings.
Before the Behistun Rock gave up its hidden secret, the
Babylonian-Assyrian valley was merely a cemetery of vanished
nations, covered with tombs of ancient cities and towns, whose
identities were a matter of conjecture. The relations of these
nations to other people and lands were also inferred from hints
here and there, and especially from representations of the Old
Testament. But only by the linguistic achievements of dedicated
scholars were past conjectures transformed into visions of a
valley full of thrifty cities, well-organized governments,
victorious armies and world rulers.
The dominant feature of the Behistun Rock inscriptions is
King Darius, in royal attire and surrounded by captives. Around
the captives are five main panels, twenty in all. The first panel
contains 19 paragraphs and 96 lines. Each paragraph commences
with the words: "I am Darius, the king of kings, the king of
Persia." The second panel has 16 paragraphs and 96 lines; over
each figure is a brief history of the man and the tribe he
represents. The tenth panel is most interesting to a Bible
student because it speaks of "Sarocus," the Sacan, who has the
Hebrew form of head-dress.
Most note-worthy is King Darius majestically standing before
nine persons united by a rope around their necks and their hands
fastened behind their backs. A tenth man is prostrate on his
back; the right foot of the king is upon his body. No two of the
prisoners are dressed alike. Some of them have short tunics,
others have long flowing robes. They are evidently the head
chiefs of the ten tribes of Israel. The word "Kana" occurs 28
times in the inscription and the word "Armenia" also occurs
frequently. This is the area from which the prisoners were taken
- the very area where the ten tribes of Israel had been placed by
The inscriptions include a list of 23 nations over whom
Darius ruled and named among these are the "Sakkas." In both the
Persian and Elamite versions the original word is "Sakka," but in
the Babylonian version the same people are called "Gimiri."
(verified on behalf of the British Museum by L. W. King and R. C.
Thomson - Sculptures and Inscriptions of Behistun - pg.161)
This proves that the Assyrians and the Babylonians called
the Israelite exiles "Gimiri" regardless of where they lived. It
also indicates that by this time (about 517 B.C.) a branch of the
Gimiri (called "Sakka" by the Persians) had already migrated a
long way beyond Bactria and dwelt on the eastern extremity of the
In another inscription, written on a gold tablet about a
foot square, Darius wrote: "This kingdom that I hold is from
Sakka which is beyond Sogdiana to Kush (Ethiopia) and from India
to Sardis." (Translation published by Sidney Smith of the British
Museum - 1926) This provides added evidence that by 500 B.C. some
of the Sakkas were far to the east near the upper Jaxartes Basin.
Additional evidence that the Sakka were a branch of the Gimiri
(Israelites) is provided by another trilingual inscription found
in the tomb of Darius, in southwestern Persia. The tomb is cut
into the face of a cliff in the valley of Naksh-i-Rustam, near
the ancient city of Persepolis. The inscription again included a
list of the nations over which Darius ruled. On this occasion,
Darius listed three separate groups of "Sakkas;" the "Amyrgian
Sakkas," the "Sakkas with the pointed caps," and the "Sakkas who
are beyond the sea." In each case the name "Gimiri," in the
Babylonian text, is translated "Sakka" in the Persian.
These inscriptions have been known for many years but the
publications dealing with them have generally passed over the
translation of "Gimiri" to "Sakka" with scarcely a comment.
Perhaps it seemed quite inexplicable to the historians. And yet,
the only conclusion that can be drawn from the inscriptions (also
the writings of Josephus) is that the Iskuza were called "Sakka"
by the Persians. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that the
"Iskuza," the "Sakka," and the "Gimiri" are the same people. Then
in reviewing the Royal Correspondence of the Assyrian Empire it
is evident that the "Iskuza," the "Sakka," the "Scythians," the
"Cimmerians," and the "Gimiri" are all Israelites.
In the next two chapters, we shall present a synopsis of the
migrations of these people into Central Asia and Europe.
To be continued