Kaufman, Stephen A., “The Phoenician Inscription of the Incirli Trilingual: A Tentative Reconstruction and Translation,” MAARAV 14.2(2007): 7-26

The Incirli trilingual, not to be confused with Zincirl, was discovered in 1993. Unfortunately it had been exposed to the elements and is extremely weathered. Further complicating the reading, it was overwritten in Greek and is therefore sort of a stone palimpsest. A new website (much better than the old one) has been put together here  with pictures of the stone and more information. Pictures are also available from Inscriptifact. On seeing the stone, you will understand why this is presented as a tentative reading. 

The three languages of the original inscription are Phoenician, Hieroglyphic Luwian, and Neo-Assyrian. The two line Neo-Assyrian introduction has been read tentatively as well, but is not presented in this article. Unfortunately, Dr Kaufman reports that the Luwian and the rest of the cuneiform seem beyond reconstruction. 

The inscription is attributed Awarikku, King of the Danunites and commemorates a gift of land from Tiglath-Pileser III. Awarikku seems to have been rewarded for maintaining loyalty to Assyria during the well-known revolt led by Matiel of Arpad in the late 740’s BCE. It seems to follow the form of other lengthy stela texts by beginning with an introduction, the historical background for the erection of the stele, the narrative of the revolt, and finally ending with curses. I will leave the transcription and translation for you to read in the article, but summarize some of the more interesting findings and implications here.

First, Tiglath-pileser III is also referred to as Puˀ/wal with an intervocalic glide, spelled פאל quite clearly in at least one place (and probably the others) in contrast to biblical פול, vocalized Pûl. If it were pronounced according to the latter then one would expect פל in the Phoenician orthography. Also known as Pulu in later Babylonian records, this finally gives contemporary confirmation that Pul and Tiglath-Pileser III were indeed one and the same king. Also interesting is that Tiglath-pileser is spelled תכלתאפלסר (Tukulti-Apil-Ešarra) which corresponds to Assyrian orthography rather than the phonetic pronunciation as found in other Northwest Semitic texts (תגלתפלסר in 2 Kg 16:7 and תגלתפליסר in Samalian).        

More Assyrian influence is found in line 5 where Pul is referred to as פאל מל[ך] אשר רב “Puwal, the great king of Assyria”. Here, רב is the Assyrian word for great which seems to be reserved  for the Assyrian emperor as opposed to the “kings” of provincial areas and vassal states. See Hosea 5:13 and 10:6 where the Assyrian king is referred to as מלך ירב

Line 8 reads  אנך וריכס מלך ז בת מפש “I am (A)warikus, King of the dynasty of Mopsos”. Note the use of the demonstrative pronoun ז for the relative/genitive, similar to archaic Hebrew (יהוה זה סיני “YHWH of Sinai” Jd 5:5) and זי / די in Aramaic. This is not usually recognized by the grammars as a relative in Standard Phoenician which instead uses אש (though Old Byblian does use ז which was later replaced by אש).

Line 20-21 on the reverse reads וכרת ב.. ארצת אצר ותחת כל בת נפש which Dr. Kaufman translates (emphasis his), “Then I mined the treasure lands and beneath every tombstone.” Though a bit damaged, the reading כרת from כרה “to dig, mine” seems clear. In Is 3:20 וּבָתֵּ֥י הַנֶּ֖פֶשׁ refers to an “amulet worn around the throat”, but that seems to make no sense here. In later Aramaic and Post-Biblical Hebrew, נפש means “funerary monument”, thus something like “tombstone” is all that can make sense (I wonder, might this reading take some of the luster from Kuttamuwa’s so-called “soul”?).

Most importantly, perhaps, is the discussion within the narrative section of the practice of sacrificing a royal offspring in a crisis (see Mesha in 2 Kg 2:27) using the terms גזר, זבח and כפר. Unfortunately connections to the Punic molkomor and biblical Molek are not completely certain. In lines 11-12, Kaufman reads:

 וזבח מלך ארפד ליען הדד מלך וגזר מצפר כ ארפד פחד מלך אמ/שר חי/על

“And the king of Arpad (Matiel) sacrificed for the benefit of Hadad-Melek (or “for the purpose of a molk-offering for Hadad”), and redeemed [the human sacrifice] with butchered animal parts, because Arpad feared (a living molkomor/ the King of Assyria. He went up…)”

Thus in the first case הדד מלך can either be taken as one word, the god Hadad-Melek (See also Kaufman’s “The Enigmatic Adad-Milki”) or as two, “for Hadad, a molk“. In the second case we can either read that Arpad was afraid of a מלך אמר חי or that they were afraid of the מלך אשר, in which case על is a verb starting the next phrase “He arose…”

Explore posts in the same categories: Kaufman, SA

2 Comments on “Kaufman, Stephen A., “The Phoenician Inscription of the Incirli Trilingual: A Tentative Reconstruction and Translation,” MAARAV 14.2(2007): 7-26”

  1. George Says:

    Please help me out. I often read that Pul is confirmed to be Tilgathpilneser by this stelle, but no one explains how. Thank you

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