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Seventh to Sixth Century B.C.

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Leonhard Rost writes: "Ahikar is the wise vizier of Sennacherib. As had been predicted when he was still a child, he remained childless despite the sixty wives he married. He prays for guidance and is instructed to adopt Nadan, the son of his sister. He raises Nadan to succeed him and recommends him to the king, who places him in Ahikar's office. Ahikar instructs Nadan in wisdom to aid in the performance of his office. Nadan, however, takes part in intrigues and, with the aid of forged letters, succeeds in having Ahikar fall from favor and condemned to death by the enraged king. But the official charged with carrying out the sentence owes his life to the sage advice of Ahikar, who had once saved him from the rage of the king's father. Recalling this incident, he takes pity on Ahikar, slays a slave instead, and conceals the out-of-favor Ahikar. The news of Ahikar's death reaches Egypt. Pharaoh thereupon writes to Sennacherib, requesting a master builder who could build him a castle between heaven and earth and answer any question put to him. No one is capable of doing so. Now Sennacherib realizes what an incomparable adviser he had in Ahikar and laments his death, whereupon the intended executioner confesses that he did not carry out his orders and that Ahikar is still alive. Brought before the king, Ahikar declares himself prepared to go to Egypt, where his wise measures and answers win Pharaoh's admiration. Upon his return, he imprisons Nadan in a chamber beneath the door to his house, distracts him with parables, and lets him perish." (Judaism Outside the Hebrew Canon, p. 192)

James Charlesworth writes: "In the early years of this century at Elephantine, Egypt, German archaeologists discovered an Aramaic papyrus that dates from the fifth century B.C. This papyrus reveals both the antiquity of Ahiqar and the probability that Aramaic is the original language. . . . Ahiqar 8:15 probably influenced the last part of 2 Peter 2:22 and Ahiqar 8:38 (Arabic), the description of Nadin's death, probably has shaped—or been shaped by—the account of the death of another traitor, Judas, in Acts 1:18. Later editorial expansion by Christians is not the only explanation for the impressive parallels between Ahiqar and the sayings of Jesus, e.g. the injunction to be kind to enemies (2:19 [Arabic], cf. Mt 5:44, Lk 6:27, 35); the teaching not to treat your companion by that which seems evil to you (2:88 [Armenian], cf. Mt. 7:12, Lk 6:31 [The Golden Rule]); and the parables of the Prodigal Son (8:34 [Syriac], cf. Lk 15:19) and the wicked servant [4:15, cf. Mt 24:45-51, Lk 12:43-48). This folktale is outside the chronological limits represented by the Pseudepigrapha, yet is included in this corpus of literature because it is important for biblical studies but not considered for inclusion by other literary categories." (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, p. 76)

Leonhard Rost writes: "A Jewish recension can be discerned in Tobit 1:21-23 and 14:10, but it is no longer extant. It made Ahikar the nephew of the elder Tobit and presented the story in such a way that Nadan (in Tobit, Adam) led the man who brought him up out of light into darkness, but God delivered Ahikar and in revenge consigned Nadan to darkness. No trace of this judaized version of the old narrative appears in the later Syriac, Arabic, or Armenian recensions, with their exaggerated embellishment of the material; this means that the judaized version remained a side development, while the extant recensions emphasize the basically non-Jewish nature of the story by speaking of Aramaic and Phoenician gods and ceremonies. The Christian features that appear in the proverbial material at the end of the Syriac recension probably represent the final stage of development; thus the Syriac recension must be dated in the Christian Era, possibly in the second century." (Judaism Outside the Hebrew Canon, p. 194)

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