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1. The Name and Its Etymology:
This is the probable Sumerian reading of the well-known Babylonian name written with the characters for "servant" (Sem wardu or ardu) and the group standing for the Moon-god Sin (written En-zu = Zu-en), otherwise Aku, the whole meaning "servant of the Moon-god." This ruler, who was king of Larsa (ELLASAR, compare that article), is generally identified with the ARIOCH (which see) of Gen 14:9. Several Assyriologists read the name with the Semitic Babylonian pronunciation of Warad-Sin; and, if this be correct, there would be a certain amount of doubt as to the generally received identification; though this, on the other hand, might simply prove that the ancient Hebrews obtained their transcription from a Sumerian source.
2. Inscriptions Mentioning Eri-Aku:
In addition to a number of contract-tablets, the following inscriptions mentioning Eri-Aku or Warad-Sin are known:
(1) A dedication, by Kudur-mabuk, "father of Martu" (Amurru, the land of the Amorites), son of Simti-Silchak, of some sacred object to the Moon-god Nannar, for his own life and that of Eri-Aku, his son, the king of Larsa.
(2) A dedication, by Eri-Aku, to Ishtar of Challabu, for his own life and that of his father and begetter Kudur-mabuk. The text records the restoration of Istar's sanctuary.
(3) A dedication, by Eri-Aku, to the god Nannar, for the preservation of his own life and that of his father, Kudur-mabuk. The restoration of several temples is referred to.
(4) An inscription of Eri-Aku, "the powerful man," "the nourisher of Ur (of the Chaldees), the king of Larsa, the king of Sumer and Akkad; son of Kudur-mabuk, the father of Emutbala." The text records that he raised the wall of Ur, called "Nannar is the consolidator of the foundations of the land," high like a mountain.
(5) A dedication by Eri-Aku to Nin-insina (titles as above). It records the building of the temple E-u-namtila, for his own life, and the life of Kudurmabuk, the father his begetter.
3. The Nationality of His Family:
These inscriptions and others show that Eri-Aku belonged to an Elamite family which held the throne of Larsa, a state which, in common with Babylonia itself, acknowledged the suzerainty of Elam. Kudurmabuk would seem, from motives of policy, to have given his sons Sumerian and Semitic Babylonian names; and it is noteworthy that he did not retain the rule of Larsa for himself, but delegated it to his offspring, keeping for himself the dominion of Emutbala and, as his own inscription shows, the land of the Amorites. With regard to these it may be noted, that the expression adda, "father," probably means simply "administrator."
4. Eri-Aku and Rim-Sin:
Eri-Aku seems to have died while his father was still alive, and was succeeded by Rim-Sin, who, as Francois Thureau-Dangin points out, must have been his brother. As in the case of Eri-Aku, Kudur-mabuk inaugurated the reign of Rim-Sin by a dedication; but there seems to be no inscription in which Rim-Sin makes a dedication for the life of his father, implying that Kudur-mabuk died soon after his second son came to the throne.
And here the question of the identification of Eri-Aku with Eri-Eaku (var. -Ekua) claims consideration. This name occurs on certain tablets of late date from Babylonia, and is coupled with a name which may be read Kudur-lachgumal (for Kudurlachbgomar, i.e. Chedorlaomer), and Tud-chul,1 (NOTE: 1 Written Tudchula, but the syllabaries indicate the final a as silent.) the Biblical Tidal.
5. Is Eri-Aku to Be Identified with Eri-Eaku?:
These inscriptions are very mutilated, but from the smaller one it would seem that Eri-(E)aku had a son named Durmah-ilani, who ravaged some district, and there were floods at Babylon. (But) his son slaughtered him like a lamb, and old man and child (were slain) with the sword. Similar things seem to be said of Tudchul or Tidal. The larger fragment gives further details of the life of Durmach-ilani, who had usurped royal power and had been killed with the sword. If the events recorded belong to this period, they must have taken place after the death of Eri-Aku (-Eaku, -Ekua), but before that of Kudur-lachgumal. It is to be noted that, in accordance with Elamite usage, the crown did not pass to the eldest son after a king's death, but to the king's eldest brother. In Elam this led to endless conflicts, and the same probably took place in Larsa until incorporated with the states of Babylonia.
6. A Historical Romance:
The fact that the history of Kudur-lachgumal (?) forms the subject of a poetical legend suggests that the texts mentioning these kings may have belonged to a kind of historical romance, of which Chedorlaomer (Amraphel), Arioch, and Tidal were the heroes--and, in truth, this is implied by their style. That they are utterly apocryphal, however, remains to be proved.
See "Inscriptions and Records Referring to Babylonia and Elam," etc., Journal of the Victoria Institute, 1895-96 (also separately); and the articles CHEDORLAOMER and ELAM, section 12 (5).
T. G. Pinches
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'ERI-AKU'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE
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