Game of Thrones: Solomon’s ‘Succession Narrative’ and Esarhaddon’s Accession to the Throne

Nadav Na’aman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study I re-examine the vast literature that has grown around the work that Leonhard Rost called “the succession to the throne of David” (the Succession Narrative, or SN). I suggest that the SN is a unified literary composition that originally included 2 Samuel 13–19 and 1 Kings 1–2 and that it was composed at the time of King Manasseh in the first half of the 7th century BCE. The course of events rests in part on occurrences that took place in Assyria during the last years of Sennacherib and the early days of Esarhaddon. The author borrowed elements from an Assyrian oral story and fitted them to a plot he devised. In this creative manner he was able to adapt some major elements from the story of Esarhaddon’s accession to the throne and transplant them within his own work. Years later, the Deuteronomist wrote the story of David and Urijah, which culminates with Nathan’s prophecy of doom to David (2 Sam 11:2–12:25) and inserted it after the account of David’s successful wars against Israel’s neighbours. In this manner he explained the shift from the period of David’s rise and prosperity to the period of decline and the struggle among the members of the royal family over their father’s throne.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-113
Number of pages25
JournalTel Aviv
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2018


  • Absalom
  • Apology
  • Bathsheba
  • David
  • Esarhaddon
  • History of David’s Rise (HDR)
  • Solomon
  • Succession Narrative (SN)


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