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Ezekiel26:7 YLT

For, thus said the Lord Jehovah: Lo, I am bringing in unto Tyre Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, From the north -- a king of kings, With horse, and with chariot, and with horsemen, Even an assembly, and a numerous people.

Ezra 7:12 YLT

Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, a perfect scribe of the law of the God of heaven, and at such a time:

Why is the title "king of kings" given to Artaxerxes and Nebuchadnezzar?

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  • It is because that is the title they gave themselves - simple!
    – Dottard
    Feb 6, 2022 at 5:37
  • I thought it was their way of saying "emperor": a king whose subjects include other kings.
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 6, 2022 at 9:01

4 Answers 4

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It would be akin to any Jewish scholar acclaiming one renowned Rabbi as being "Rabbi of Rabbis". Or, of historians comparing the track-record of the most famous of conquerors and declaring that one was "Conqueror of conquerors" (say, Genghis Khan, for example.)

In the prophetic book of Ezekiel, Jehovah God was forewarning the pompous king of Tyre that he had better brace himself for king Nebuchadnezzar, who was to come (at God's sovereign decree). If the reading starts at chapter 26 verse 1, this is made plain. Then turn to chapter 28 and read verses 1 to 19 where details of the prophecy against the king of Tyre are given. One of the reasons for God destroying Tyre and its king was that the king proudly believed, and said in his heart:

" 'I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.' But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god" (ch.28 vs.2).

"Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'Because you think you are wise, as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most ruthless of nations" (vss.6-7 NIV)

God's prophet, Ezekiel, also penned other prophetic warnings against Ammon, Moab and Philistia. Read chapter 25.

The language, 'king of kings' is scathing for this is only true of human kings who like to think of themselves as superior to other rulers. Sinful humans love to consider themselves as greater than others, so God uses that phrase to ridicule the king of Tyre, for a greater human king than he is going to be raised up by God to bring the king of Tyre to a humiliating and fatal destruction.

However, in the related text you mention, Ezra 7:12, it is king Artaxeres himself who calls himself "king of kings". God does not call him that. That is how Artaxerxes' letter of authorisation to Ezra, God's priest, starts. This simply confirms that mighty kings back then viewed themselves as superior in kingship to other kings. It was a form of boasting and of giving the impression that their authority superceeded that of lesser kings.

Answer to your question: Why is the title "king of kings" given to Artaxerxes and Nebuchadnezzar? - That title was not given to Artaxerxes by God, but he took it to himself. That title written about Nebuchadnezzar was using scathing language to a human who had such illusions of grandeur that he (the king of Tyre) considered himself to be a god, as the whole of the address goes on to show.

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They were emperors. They ruled over rulers of nations. Thus, they were the king of kings. However, this form is the superlative in Hebrew:

(i) The absolute superlative, which manifests the outstanding feature, condition or state of something or someone can be expressed by:

a. A singular noun in the status constructus preceding the indefinite plural form of the same word.

הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים

‍ vanity of vanities = utmost vanities (Eccl. 1:2)‍ -- Van der Merwe, C., Naudé, J., Kroeze, J., Van der Merwe, C., Naudé, J., & Kroeze, J. (1999). A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar (electronic ed., p. 236). Sheffield Academic Press.

Ezra 7:12 is Aramaic but has similar grammar. This title means greatest king. However, this is a title the kings gave themselves, not a title the Scripture gave them.

Commentaries

King of kings, on account of the vanquished princes, along with Great King, a common title in the inscriptions. -- (Ezekiel 26:7) Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Schröder, W. J., Fairbairn, P., Findlay, W., Crerar, T., & Manson, S. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Ezekiel (p. 249). Logos Bible Software.

Ancient texts and inscriptions

To Ashur, his lord, Esarhaddon, king of the world, king of [Assyria], governor of Babylon, king of Kar-Duni[ash], king of kings, k[ing] of E[gypt] (M[uṣur]), Patur[isi] and Nubia (Kûsu), [has dedicated this door/building] for his (own) life and the prosperity (šulmu) of his country.

(3) From a clay barrel found in Ashur and published by E. Nassouhi, ibid, as No. XII, 22 ff. -- Pritchard, J. B., ed. (1969). The Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (3rd ed. with Supplement, p. 290). Princeton University Press.

Ashurbanipal, the great king, the legitimate king, the king of the world, king of Assyria, king of (all) the four rims (of the earth), king of kings, prince without rival, who rules from the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea and has made bow to his feet all the (other) rulers and who has laid the yoke (nîru) of his overlordship (upon them) from Tyre which is (an island) in the Upper Sea and (read: as far as) Tilmun which is (an island) in the Lower Sea—and they pulled the straps (abšānu) (of) his (yoke).

(7) From the inscription in the temple of Ishtar published (with autographs, transliteration, and translation) by R. C. Thompson, in AAA, XX (1933), 71 ff. Text: Pls. xc ff. Translation: ibid., 90 ff. -- Pritchard, J. B., ed. (1969). The Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (3rd ed. with Supplement, p. 297). Princeton University Press.

I am Xerxes, the great king, the only king (lit.: king of kings), the king of (all) countries (which speak) all kinds of languages, the king of this (entire) big and far(-reaching) earth,—the son of king Darius, the Achaemenian, a Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan (ar-ri-i) of Aryan descent (lit.: seed). -- Pritchard, J. B., ed. (1969). The Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (3rd ed. with Supplement, p. 316). Princeton University Press.

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Gen 6 says Nephlilium before and after the flood possibly correct? One reason we can make sense of all the bones and witness to Giants later on, towards our time right? So maybe the genes were in Noah's family line, including the wives? Gene expression reveals towards the later evidence of the Giants here? A King Nebuchadnezzar may have had some hybrid expression in him? And others like him too? When he goes out and eats grass like an oxe his hair and nails grow, etc. He clears the morning dew off of the "sweet" grass crops, he's now just wildcrafting. He became arrogant, self serving and absorbed with his power, wealth, his totally spoiled ways,etc. He was probably caught up in all the Worlds riches and forgot all kinds of humble ways? Causing neglect of things? God made him realize what was important in life and death? And used his position and heritage to teach lessons? He's a king so of course people were learning things this way as well. What is the/our King doing? He was relearning all the natural organic ways, some maybe new to him as well? What we see out there is our King living off of the land, that's it? Research what crops those were? What has a lot of Biotin in it? Biotin grows hair and nails. This King and the others like him may have been kind of different in that they had a gene expression of the giants in them?

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    Eric, just to add that you should have included this in your previous answer, above. It only really makes sense when read at the point in your previous answer where you start speaking about the Nephlilium. Standing alone, as it does here, it does not answer the question as it's almost entirely about the Nephlilum. If you merge it, please make a better layout (and drop most of the question-marks). I won't edit it myself but hope you will.
    – Anne
    Mar 19 at 10:34
  • I'm just learning this thing dude. Thanks tho. I just found out how to recover my long lost Facebook acct! I hope it works. Thx Mar 19 at 10:40
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We read as if Kings Nebuchanezzar and Xerxes held themselves as King of Kings, doing so out of the way typical at that time. Look at it differently.

They compared themselves as King of Kings as a special breed of King only. Their heritage may have been associated with the Nephlilium. So, folks would have a different understanding to the lingo and comparing back in time, history.

Pre-Flood times: Noah would be the true King of Kings. So if you are considering a lineage that includes the Nephlilium then this lingo just works in other ways. Having a society of citizens with that kind of education and knowledge of the past would shape the type of leadership that governs themselves. This with skills, talents, family, and resources would mean everything to a people. What higher society than Babylon exists to them to have to compare themselves? Probably none. So why say King of Kings if they are already so, naturaly?

It's likely that they are comparing themselves in more spiritual, historic ways to the past. What once was evidenced and recalled to them by others and themselves, thus they are not saying, "We Are Gods!" or "God Himself"... A practice we see all along.

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    Welcome to the site, Eric. I have made further layout and spelling corrections to your own, to make it more readable. I trust this will be acceptable in view of you having prayed about that! If you take the Tour link (below, bottom l.h.s.) you will see how this site differs from most others, and what is expected. A further comment follows your second answer.
    – Anne
    Mar 19 at 10:29
  • Thank you! Do you think you can make a group, or tag? A subject? The End And Prevention Of Homelessness USA, 2030? I have another one I haven't seen here too... Mar 19 at 10:41
  • You've lost me there, Eric. I don't know what you mean about groups. tags, subjects, regarding a topic that has no place on Stack Hermeneutics. Go to their list of 183 sites (bar at top, extreme right) where you might find one that fits the bill for USA homelessness.
    – Anne
    Mar 19 at 10:47

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