Mark Leuchter, «Jeremiah’s 70-Year Prophecy and the ymq bl/K##Atbash Codes», Vol. 85 (2004) 503-522
Jeremiah’s famous 70-year prophecy (Jer 25,11-12; 29,10) and the atbash codes (Jer 25,26; 51,1.41) have been the subject of much scholarly discussion, with no consensus as to their provenance or meaning. An important inscription from the reign of Esarhaddon suggests that they be viewed as inter-related rhetorical devices. The Esarhaddon inscription, written in relation to that king’s extensive building program in Babylon, contains both a 70-year decree and the Akkadian Cuneiform parallel to the Hebrew Alphabetic atbash codes, claiming that the god Marduk had inverted the 70-year decree, thus allowing Esarhaddon to rebuild the city. This inscription was likely well known to the members of the Josianic court and the elite of Judean society who were carried off to Babylon in 597 B.C.E. This suggests that Jeremiah’s 70-Year prophecy and the atbash codes were employed to direct the prophet’s audience to the Esarhaddon inscription and its implications with respect to Babylonian hegemony as a matter of divine will.
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