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A Tartan (Hebrew: תַּרְתָּן; Greek: Θαρθαν; Latin: Tharthan; Aramaic: ܬܵܪܬܵܢ Tartan) was the commander-in-chief of the Assyrian army. There are two references to Tartans in the Hebrew Bible: the Assyrian king sends a Tartan with two other officials to deliver a threatening message to Jerusalem in 2 Kings 18:17, and Sargon II, the king of Assyria, sends a Tartan who takes Ashdod during the reign of King Hezekiah at the time of the prophet Isaiah.
In Assyria, the Tartan ranked next to the king. The office seems to have been duplicated, and there was a tartanu imni or 'tartan of the right', as well as a tartanu shumeli or 'tartan of the left'. In later times the title became territorial; we read of a tartan of 'Kummuh' (Commagene). The title is also applied to the commanders of foreign armies; thus Sargon speaks of the Tartan Musurai, or 'Egyptian Tartan'. The Tartan of 720 BC was probably called Ashur-iska-danin; in 694 BC, Abdai, and in 686 BC Bel-emurani, held the title. It does not seem to have been in use among the closely related Babylonians.
- Isaiah 20:1
- Barnes' Notes on Isaiah 20, accessed 4 April 2018
- D. J. Wiseman, Tartan, in New Bible Dictionary – Third Edition, hrsg. von J. D. Douglas (First Ed.), N. Hillyer (Second. Ed.), D. R. W. Wood (Third Ed.) with the consulting Editors for the Third Edition I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, D. J. Wiseman, Nottingham 14. Edition 2013, S. 1154b.
- Assyrian Deeds C. H. W. Johns et al, Deighton, Bell and Company, 1901, Page 68. (Scanned book, University of Tronto Library website)
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