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13638SV: [ANE-2] Elephantine

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  • Niels Peter Lemche
    Oct 6 8:00 AM
      Yes, as I said, we have the emic evidence but not the etic. But it was exactly what I had in mind. If only we have had a reply letter.

      The emic -- descriptive -- understanding was that they were Judeans.

      When it comes to the status of Jerusalem, we should not forget that high priest who in Maccabean times was thrown out of Jerusalem in order to go to Egypt and build his own at Leontopolis. Presumable he nourished the idea later current among Christians: Jerusalem is in my heart! but again it shows how something believed to be "canonical" was not really that canonical.

      Niels Peter Lemche

      -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
      Fra: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] På vegne af Lisbeth S. Fried
      Sendt: den 6 oktober 2011 16:55
      Til: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      Emne: RE: [ANE-2] Elephantine

      Dear Niels Peter,

      I wonder if their correspondence with the governor of Yehud would suggest
      that the Yehud community also saw these people as Judeans.

      At the very least, it seems to imply that the Judeans of Elephantine
      expected and assumed that the governor of Yehud and its officials and high
      priest would perceive them as fellow Judeans.


      Lisbeth S. Fried, Ph.D.
      Department of Near Eastern Studies
      and the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies
      University of Michigan
      202 S. Thayer -- Room 4111
      Ann Arbor, MI 48104
      www.lizfried.com <http://www.lizfried.com/>

      I sent (too much) rain on one city, and sent no rain on another city;
      and still you did not return to me, says YHWH. (Amos 4:7-8 )


      From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
      Niels Peter Lemche
      Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2011 7:21 AM
      To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: SV: [ANE-2] Elephantine

      It is a sad fact that the moment biblical matters are involved, everything
      breaks down into a discussion between those who takes the information of the
      Bible literarily or are able to see what we have in the Bible as texts
      reflecting the viewpoint of their authors, whether or not building on a real
      or an imagined world.

      Thus no doubt Liz, Aren and I will have different opinions about almost
      everything. But none of us would use this kind of translating biblical
      information into real world information.


      1) "Jew" is not a proper term, except if you measure everything according to
      the biblical standards for being a Jew. The moment you use this term, you
      have already said too much. Liz' Judeans, i.e., people who are tracing their
      origins to the landscape of Judah in central Palestine (real or imagined
      origins), is a proper and neutral term for the people at Elephantine who
      definitely considered themselves to be Judean. We don't know if people
      living in the Jehud in the Persian period did also reckon them as Judeans.
      So the ethnicity of these Judeans is not an established fact as we only have
      the emic and not the etic idea of their ethnicity. In this way, they can
      easily understand themselves as Judeans although living in Egypt for 200
      years. It is no more astonishing than the modern acceptance of the
      Falashians as Jews in modern Israel. It is a matter--as defined by Fredrik
      Barth and his many successors--of ascription and description.

      2) It is relevant to ask for the evidence we have from the Iron Age. As a
      matter of fact, this evidence is quite confusing and does not allow us to
      paint an image of "Israelites" and "Judeans" living in Palestine in that
      period. Thus we may doubt the existence in this period of law-abiding
      Israelites bound by the ten commandments and worshipping Yahweh alone. It is
      simply not the impression we get from the findings in the ground, and
      interesting enough, the Old Testament is in total agreement with this. The
      fathers were not law-abiding "Jews" following the demands of the law. Au
      contraire, mon ami, as Poirot would have said: the OT tells us a story about
      a sinful race unfaithful whenever it was possible to their God. So the
      parameter to measure the people from Elephantine with might be the Jews of
      the Old Testament, in which case they were not Jews. But they need not have
      been essentially different in their ideological world from people living in
      their homeland.

      3) We really do not know if the cult in Jerusalem was monotheistic. And
      again, this is not the impression you get from the Old Testament itself.
      (read about Josiah's reform). Name material, inscriptions etc has a
      different story to tell. I always remmeber Dever at a conference in Bern
      1993 speaking about figurines which abound in Iron Age excavations but were
      supposed to be absent in stratas from the Persian Period: Dever: But now we
      have found them! Aren can definitely bring light to this statement Anno
      Domine 2011! So your pagan Yahwism was simply the current religion in the
      Iron Age in the landscape which I here calls Palestine (without any
      political connotation, if possible). This is not a matter of official
      religion bound on Jerusalem and a popular religion found elsewhere. The cult
      in Jerusalem was in te Iron Age as "pagan" as it was everywhere else. As to
      the prophets I can recommend Bernhard Lang's the Uahweh-Alone-Movement: not
      that I agree, but his thesis is interesting to see the prophets as the real
      revolutionaries preaching a new religion.

      4) It is clear that the Ten Commandments are central to Judaism, but
      probably more to protestant Christianity. Besides, are you sure that they
      knew these commandments at Yeb? Even Abraham in the patriarchal stories
      seems not quite well versed in them as he marries his half sister, although
      is definitely not allowed according to the Torah. That you find Akkadian
      terms and Egyptian legal practices is hardly surprising: You have a plethora
      of these not least in the Book of Covenant, Exodus 21-23.

      5) The literature you mention is immaterial and has no bearing on the modern
      discussion about the history of the southern Levant ("Israel"). The idea of
      the Judeans at Yab as deriving from Israelites left behind by the Exodus is
      simply ridiculous. It has never been discussed for serious in serious
      scholarship. Of course you reckon the Exodus as historical, as well as Moses
      and the Patriarchs. These are subject not gladly discussed here (many other
      lists available).

      6) Sorry to say, your approach is "amateurish". You are moving back and to
      biblical texts as now historical, now mythical. There are so many things you
      need to study. I should, say, begin with the modern ethnicity discussion.
      Then some literary theory, especially modern literature's talk about
      construction and deconstruction, and put some study of cultural memory on
      top of that (you should like it, as Jan Assmann also believes in a
      historical Moses). But you simply have to get to what is today said among
      specialists about these subjects. Only the most evangelical part would
      subscribe to your ideas of the information of the biblical texts.

      Niels Peter Lemche

      -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
      Fra: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>
      [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com> ] På vegne af
      Robert Feather
      Sendt: den 6 oktober 2011 12:16
      Til: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>
      Emne: [ANE-2] Elephantine

      Dear Elizabeth, and Aren,

      Of course you can have different definitions of who is or was a Jew. It is
      the relativity of the beliefs and practices of the 'Jews' in Israel to what
      was going on at Elephantine Island, that I am referring to. We don't need an
      agreed definition, only to acknowledge that there were highly significant
      differences in the forms of religion. This can only be assessed from the
      evidence we have and for the periods we know something about. You cannot
      possibly use the same 'Jewish' label for both varieties.

      In the background of Israel was the central monotheistic cult practiced in
      the Jerusalem Temple by its priests and preached by the Biblical prophets.
      There is an interesting article in the BAS library by Stephen Pfann on Pagan
      Yahwisn: the Folk Religion of Ancient Israel which spells out the many
      strands of Yahwism and a blanket name for all the different versions is
      quite misleading.

      You can of course define Judaism as you wish, but central to its values is
      the Ten Commandments. The people at Yeb broke at least two of the basic
      laws. They worshipped more than one god, and allowed work on the Sabbath. In
      addition they charged interest, married out, used Akkadian terms, followed
      the Egyptian legal, fiscal and social precedents - some dating back to 1700
      BCE, as well as numerous other anomalous markers.

      You should read E.C.B Maclaurin, Date of the Foundation of the Jewish Colony
      at Elephantine, Journal of Near Eastern Studies Vol 27, 1968

      You say: They are Judeans, even though they may not have lived in Judah for
      some 200 years.

      This appears to be saying the Pseudo-Yahwists came to the Island around 600
      BCE, although all the evidence says much earlier. Even if that was the case,
      settlers from Israel prior to 525 BCE would have written in early Hebrew,
      whereas the Elephantine Community wrote and communicated in Aramaic. You
      need to quantify when they arrived and why. The gods they worshipped, and
      their complete lack of any knowledge of Baal is also significant.

      If you want to respect the texts, as I'm sure you do, then you have to take
      these people at their word.

      So, are they YHWHists or Pseudo-Yahwists, as you style them? They have built
      and maintained a temple to YHWH from the time of their arrival at the time
      of Cambyses, according to their own words.

      Fine to respect the texts, but you need to interpret them and not always
      take them literally. We do not know exactly when they arrived and they
      themselves, in their texts, say their Temple was built before Cambyses
      entered Egypt (TAD A4-7). In fact they did not refer to the Temple as that
      of YHWH but that of YHH. Maclaurin is clear in concluding 'they worshipped
      (not just took oaths on them) other gods - Yahu, Bethel, and Anath. He says:
      "the evidence of these names points to the separation of the Yeb community
      from the rest of the Hebrews and from Canaan at a very early date." The
      period he assigns, as I do, is at least that of the Patriarchs. (I suppose I
      shoud amend my appelation to Pseudo-YHHists).

      His final conclusion is : "The evidence is not conclusive, but it seems more
      compatible with a suggestion that the Yeb colony was descended from a body
      of Hebrews left behind at the time of the Exodus than any other."

      When I visited Elephantine Island excavations were closing in on the
      location of the Temple, and I understand this has now been verified.

      Regardless of 'Jewish' definitions the real questions that need to be
      addressed are how did they get there and when and why did they go there in
      the first place? There do not seem to be any plausible consensus
      explanations. Nor do you begin to address the significance of the Temple's
      design and the layout of the Settlement.

      Robert Feather, Institute of Materials, London

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