MATTANBAAL I of ARWAD
The first known king of Arwad was called in Phoenician MTNB‘L = gift of Baal. It is very common name, but it was not a common man. Salmanassar called him Matinu-ba’il and he considered him as a king. His contribution to the allied army in 854 BC, who withstood the Assyrians, was only 200 soldiers, but he mobilized his dominion on the mainland. Ušnu (Ušanata) contributes also 200 soldiers and there were 30 chariots of Shianu. The amount of soldiers of Shianu is not exactly known by ARA, but it must have been thousands. Then there were 1000 soldiers of Sumur (Musreans). Arqa (Irqanata) was very powerful, but that didn’t belong to the dominion of Arwad.
We know almost nothing about this Mattanbaal. He is only mentioned by Salmanassar. Nothing is known about his successors either. Maybe he already died in the battle of Qarqar. He is also never mentioned by other Assyrian rulers. It is however strange that Arwad never paid tribute to Salmanassar or to his immediate successors. Maybe Arwad made a deal with the Assyrians: the town would care for an undisturbed supply of products and materials from across the sea through the valley of the Eleutherus to the east?
From the year 837 BC the Phoenician towns have little trouble with Salmanassar who is busy in the north, east and south of his empire. Under the next Assyrian king Shamsi-Adad V most of the Assyrian possessions in the west regained their independency, but from 810 the next Assyrian king Adad-nirari tries to restore the Assyrian position in the west.
On a stela of Adad-nirari III (810-783 BC) and Nergal-ereš from Tell al Rimah we can read:
“In one single year I left my footprints behind in the
land of Amurru
(and) in the in his entire
circumference. I received 2000 talents of silver, 1000 talents of copper, 2000
talents of iron, 3000 pieces of multi-coloured clothes and linen as a tribute
of Mari of the land
of Hatti . He (Adad)
received the tribute of Ya’su of the land of the Samaritans, of the land of the
Tyrians (and) the land of the Sidonians. I marched to the land
of Imerishu ,
where the sun goes to sleep. I erected a statue of my splendour in the city
Armadi (that is) in the midst of the sea. I climbed the mountain Great Sea . I cut
down 100 logs of cedar as building material for my palace (and) my temples. He
(Adad) received the tribute of the kings of the Lebanon ‘iri
in its entire circumference.” land of Na
This raises the big question: did Adad-nirari III enter Arwad in order to erect there a statue? It is doubtful. Maybe the ships of Arwad brought it there to erect it in the name of Adad-nirari. But this Assyrian king came for sure in the dominion of Arwad on the mainland.
Personally I believe, that, if there is anyone who deserves to have a statue in Arwad, then it should be Mattanbaal I who dared to fight the Assyrians with his tiny army.