Search SBL
 









SBL Forum Archive
<< Return to SBL Forum Archive Hayim Tadmor, 1923-2005

Hayim Tadmor, leading Assyriologist and historian of the ancient Near East, passed away at the age of 82 in Jerusalem on December 11, 2005.

Tadmor was born in 1923 in Harbin, China, and immigrated with his family to Palestine in 1935. As a student at The Hebrew University, he concentrated in Bible and History and wrote his doctoral dissertation, Problems in Biblical Chronology, under Benjamin Mazar, his lifelong mentor. In 1958, he was appointed the first lecturer in Assyriology at The Hebrew University, thus founding Near Eastern studies in the State of Israel.

Throughout his long and distinguished career, Tadmor was a welcome lecturer at many universities and professional conferences in Europe and the United States. He was a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and served as its vice-president (1995-2004), an honorary member of the American Oriental Society and a corresponding member of the American Association of Jewish Research. In recognition of his scholarly achievements, he was awarded the Rothschild Prize in 2000.

Tadmor's early work on Sargon II, king of Assyria, undertaken while at the Orien of Chicago, where he studied with Benno Landsberger, was a harbinger of the renewed interest in neo-Assyrian texts and history that marked the last quarter of the 20th century and to which he was a leading contributor. Tadmor recognized that behind the formulaic descriptions of Assyrian inscriptions lay a royal ideology whose tenets supported the creation of the first empire to reach from the Nile to the Persian Gulf. This insight led to the investigation of the elite classes of Assyrian society, especially the "intellectuals" (i.e., the scribes), who were partners in the creation of Assyrian culture that they immortalized in their writings.

Tadmor's magnum opus is surely The Inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III, King of Assyria (1994), which made available for the first time in a definitive edition all the surviving texts of the founder of the neo-Assyrian Empire. Complementing this research was Hayim Tadmor's continuous interest in ancient Israel. He wrote numerous entries for the Hebrew Encyclopedia Biblica and served as its editor for volumes 6-8. In individual studies, he showed how knowledge garnered from Mesopotamia could be used to enhance our understanding of biblical history and society. This approach is best displayed in the historicalphilological commentary that we wrote together on "Second Kings" (1988) in the Anchor Bible series. In all this, Tadmor never underestimated the individual contribution of each of the civilizations that made up the rich mosaic of the ancient Near East.

On a more personal note, all who knew Hayim Tadmor will remember his vivaciousness and will miss his forthright manner with colleagues and students alike.

Mordechai Cogan, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

This obituary was provided by the Biblical Archaeology Society { http://www.bib-arch.org/}.

Comments on this article? email: forum@sbl-site.org

 
JOIN SBL   |  DONATE TO SBL   |  CONTACT SBL   |  BIBLE ODYSSEY   |  REVIEW OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE   |  SBL TWITTER   |  BIBLE ODYSSEY TWITTER

© 2019, Society of Biblical Literature. All Rights Reserved.