Jehu, King of Israel

Depiction of Jehu

Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III (detail), Nimrud, circa 827 B.C.E. Limestone relief,  The British Museum, London, England.

This detail is part of a larger limestone obelisk commemorating the military victories of Shalmaneser III of Assyria. Excavated at Nimrud, this 9th-century B.C.E. relief is broken up into five registers, each one extending around all four sides of the obelisk. Each register depicts an act of tribute being paid to Shalmaneser in bas-relief. This particular detail shows Jehu, the king of Israel, paying tribute to the Assyrian king and is thought to be the earliest depiction of a biblical figure. Jehu or possibly an ambassador kneels before Shalmaneser, and a procession follows behind, carrying goods. A caption written in cuneiform above the scene describes what is shown in relief: “The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri: I received from him silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden vase with pointed bottom, golden tumblers, golden buckets, tin, a staff for a king [and] spears.”