Posted in Obituaries

Hayim Tadmor, 1923-2005

Hayim Tadmor, 1923-2005 Posted on December 15, 2005

By Avigdor Hurowitz and Jeffrey H. Tigay


The world of Biblical and Near Eastern scholarship lost one of its leading lights with the death of Professor Hayim Tadmor, a Corresponding Fellow of the Academy, on Sunday December 11, 2005 (10 Kislev, 5766) at the age of 82. Born in Harbin, China in 1923, he arrived in Israel in 1935 and later studied at the Hebrew University, the University of London, and the University of Chicago. From 1958-1993 he taught at the Hebrew University, where he founded the Department of Assyriology. He was a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and, since his retirement from teaching, had served as its Vice President.

Hayim Tadmor was an historian who specialized in Biblical and Mesopotamian history and historiography, in which fields he made numerous ground-breaking contributions. The crowning jewels of his illustrious and productive scholarly career are The Inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III King of Assyria (Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1994) and the Anchor Bible commentary on Second Kings, which he co-authored with Mordechai Cogan (II Kings: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Bible, vol. 11, Doubleday, 1988). In addition, he was the Editor of the final volumes of the Entsiklopedyah miḳraʼit (vols. 6-8). A volume of his collected articles will be published in 2006 in Hebrew with the English title Assyria, Babylonia and Judah.  Studies in the History of the Ancient Near East, edited by Mordechai Cogan (Mosad Bialik and the Israel Exploration Society, 2006).

Tadmor’s early training at the Hebrew University included Biblical studies and the Second Temple Period under the tutelage of Benjamin Mazar and Gedaliahu Alon. Fellows of the Academy will be interested in the fact that he played a role in the posthumous publication of Alon’s lecture notes as Toldot ha-Yehudim be-Erets-Yisraʼel bi-teḳufat ha-Mishnah veha-Talmud (1952; he is the Hayim Frumstein identified in E. Z. Melamed’s preface as supplementing Shmuel Safrai’s lecture notes). He later studied Assyriology with Sidney Smith at the University of London and with Benno Landsberger at the University of Chicago.

Among Tadmor’s notable qualities was his openness toward students, whom he welcomed and treated as peers, and with whom he developed warm friendships and fruitful collaborative relationships.

Tadmor was honored with two Festschriften, the first Ah, Assyria… Studies in Assyrian History and Ancient Near Eastern Historiography Presented to Hayim Tadmor, ed. M. Cogan and I. Ephʽal. Scripta Hierosolymitana 33 (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1991) and the second, dedicated also to his wife, the archaeologist Miriam Tadmor, Hayim and Miriam Tadmor Volume. Eretz Israel 27, ed. I. Eph`al, A. Ben-Tor, and P. Machinist (Jerusalem : The Israel Exploration Society, The Hebrew University, and The Israel Museum, 2003). He was also an honorary member of the American Oriental Society, a Fellow at the Annenberg Research Institute (now the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies of the University of Pennsylvania ) and a recipient of the Rothschild Prize in Humanities (2000). Most recently, he was honored by the Israel Academy with a symposium on “Assyrian Royal Inscriptions: History, Historiography and Ideology” (November 20, 2003 ).

Above all, Tadmor was a lively and colorful player on the Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern scene who was beloved by colleagues and numerous students whom he inspired, many of whom are today leading scholars of Biblical and Mesopotamian history and literature in Israel and elsewhere.

Hayim Tadmor is survived by his wife, Miriam, their children David and Naomi, and four grandchildren.

Further biographical information and lists of publications can be found in Prof. Tadmor’s Festschriften.