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Elephantine Aramaic papyri

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  • David Hall
    I was reading translations of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine Island near Aswan, Egypt.  One papyrus stated there was a temple of YHWH at Elephantine
    Message 1 of 18 , Sep 29, 2011
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      I was reading translations of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine Island near Aswan, Egypt.  One papyrus stated there was a temple of YHWH at Elephantine Island from the times of Cambyses.  A different papyrus from the last decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius was a letter asking for advice from those in Israel about how to observe the Passover.  I cannot determine what late redactions or regulations might have been initiated that a community of Jewish people in Egypt would have needed to know about.  Shouldn't they have already known about this observance for generations? 
       
      There is little written about exactly when these regulations came into being.
       
      David Q. Hall
      Falls Church, Virginia

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • RUSSELLGMIRKIN@aol.com
      David, The Elephantine papyri are remarkable in their total absence of reference to a biblical text, biblical traditions, or biblical authority for religious
      Message 2 of 18 , Sep 30, 2011
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        David,

        The Elephantine papyri are remarkable in their total absence of reference
        to a biblical text, biblical traditions, or biblical authority for
        religious institutions. There is in fact no evidence that a biblical text existed
        by 400 BCE. See my discussion in _Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus:
        Hellenistic Histories and the date of the Pentateuch (New York-London: T &
        T Clark International, 2006), 28-33. The Passover Letter is a case in
        point. It contains no reference to the Exodus tradition nor does it cite a
        textual / biblical authority for the observance of Passover. A case can be
        made (and is made in my book) that the Passover festival as observed in ca.
        400 BCE predated the biblical Exodus tradition, but consisted at that time
        of a purely agricultural festival based on "Oral Torah" (priestly authority
        unsupported by a written text), for which the Passover Letter itself
        constitutes an important historical example. The ostraca found at Elephantine
        also suggest the sabbath was known to the Elephantine Jews (i.e. the
        appearance of the proper name Sabbatai, if my memory serves). So it appears
        reasonably certain that the Jews of Elephantine observed some religious days found
        in the (IMO later) biblical text, but the idea that these practices were
        supported by an existing biblical text appears unfounded (and indeed the
        practices at the Elephantine temple would have been condemned in a biblical text
        as heterodox).

        Best regards,
        Russell Gmirkin

        I was reading translations of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine Island
        near Aswan, Egypt. One papyrus stated there was a temple of YHWH at
        Elephantine Island from the times of Cambyses. A different papyrus from the last
        decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius was a letter asking for
        advice from those in Israel about how to observe the Passover. I cannot
        determine what late redactions or regulations might have been initiated that
        a community of Jewish people in Egypt would have needed to know about.
        Shouldn't they have already known about this observance for generations?

        There is little written about exactly when these regulations came into
        being.

        David Q. Hall
        Falls Church, Virginia






        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • drbrucekgardner@aol.com
        Dear David, The situation was that the Imperial, the Jerusalemite and local calendars need not have been the same. The ANE had a variety of calendars
        Message 3 of 18 , Sep 30, 2011
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          Dear David,

          The situation was that the Imperial, the Jerusalemite and local calendars
          need not have been the same. The ANE had a variety of calendars reflecting
          different mathematical calculations as well as different premises. In many
          cases, those basic assumptionswere not merely mathematical, but theological
          too. To ask what day it is, today, is to seek a shared norm but even
          today, one man may reply "December 25th" and another, "It's Christmas Day." In
          the ANE, to ask a simple question could open oneself to problematic
          complexities.

          The Elephantine community sought calendrical guidance from Jerusalem but
          differences in theology, added to by underlying personal enmity and imperial
          politics, made the apparently-simple request problematic. The option of
          Silence was therefore deemed best by Jerusalem, about which the Elephantines
          complained to the Persian administrator, Bagoas, Governor of Judea, an
          enemy of Johanan the High Priest, in a letter of 408/7 BCE, when asking for
          aid to help rebuild their temple, which was considered a heretical one in
          Jerusalem, not only because it did not conform to Deuteronomic centralism, but
          it included the worship of a goddess.

          [I offer (below) an extract from my book on Jewish calendar history which
          touches briefly upon the subject: The Genesis Calendar: The Synchronistic
          Tradition in Genesis 1-11 (Lanham MD: University Press of America: 2001,
          152-155). The Winton-Thomas volume to which I refer is: Documents From Old
          Testament Times, 4th. edn., 1965 (New York: Harper and Row).]

          Nor was it only theology that complicated calnders, It is important to
          recognise that ancient calendars were not as fixed and reliable as the modern,
          Gregorian. The main issue was Jewish synchronization of calendars with
          harvest-inspired events which were laden with complicating theological
          interpretations and with the issue of calendrical authority. He who controlled a
          calendar controlled the life of the community that the calendar followed,
          since everything was then in step with the central cultic and calendrical
          tune. However, how could Johanan offer mathematical precision to a Jewish
          community whose theology was repellent and community basis unacceptable to
          Jerusalem centrists? All this intensified the difficulty of a province of
          doubtful authority, such as the syncretistic Elephantine community, when it
          tried to consult Jerusalem's central authority on a calendar dtae. Later,
          the rabbis would fall out over which day a particular festival fell. Rosh
          Hashanah 2:9, for example, refers to a dispute over the dating of Yom
          Kippur between R. Joshua ben Chananiah and R. Gamaliel I, which the latter won.
          Such debates could hold massive significance for personal and cultic
          authority, even within one community. They were intensified when different
          communities tried to coordinate with one another. As with my earlier example,
          the question, "What is the date?" is one thing to one man and another thing
          to his colleague. When two communities with vastly-different ideas asked
          the questions, such queries could produce hostility and conflict.

          When one reads how 364-calendar devotees, associated with so-called
          sectarians, who may have been Zadokistic purists, utter strictures against other
          calendrists, one sees a greater intensity of feeling aroused, as in 1 En.
          80:2-8.

          "2 And in the days of the sinners the years shall be shortened, And their
          seed shall be tardy on their lands and fields, And all things on the earth
          shall alter, And shall not appear in their time: And the rain shall be kept
          back And the heaven shall withhold (it). 3 And in those times the fruits of
          the earth shall be backward, And shall not grow in their time, And the
          fruits of the trees shall be withheld in their time. 4 And the moon shall
          alter her order, And not appear at her time. 5 [And in those days the sun shall
          be seen and he shall journey in the evening on the extremity of the great
          chariot in the west] And shall shine more brightly than accords with the
          order of light. 6 And many chiefs of the stars shall transgress the order
          (prescribed). And these shall alter their orbits and tasks, And not appear at
          the seasons prescribed to them. 7 And the whole order of the stars shall be
          concealed from the sinners, And the thoughts of those on the earth shall
          err concerning them, [And they shall be altered from all their ways], Yea,
          they shall err and take them to be gods. 8 And evil shall be multiplied upon
          them, And punishment shall come upon them So as to destroy all.' " [1 En
          80:2-8, The First Book of Enoch, R. H. Charles, Clarendon]


          Such is the need to establish scholarly awareness of this lost uncertainty,
          the first third of my book is largely devoted to a technical analysis of
          the different kinds of calendars and the problems associated with them all
          and with the business of co-ordinating their measurement of time with
          calendars of other communities. As a scholar in New York calculates Pacific Time
          before calling up his colleague in Los Angles, different lands in the ANE
          had not only different time zones but different calendars, which may not
          have been easily managed.

          I was pleased to note that although I thought I had bored my readers with
          detail, the only person to complain about the amount of time spent
          explaining ancient calendars was Sacha Stern (who, as a Jewish calendrical expert,
          did not require such elementary tutelage.) Happily, however, he was able to
          accept my conclusions.

          Therefore, I offer these few extracted comments below, to see if they may
          hold any relevance to your query. Please do not hesitate to contact me at
          _drbrucekgardner@..._ (mailto:drbrucekgardner@...) if I can be of
          any further assistance. On a final point, regarding the "consort of YHWH",
          look at W. G. Dever, Did God Have A Wife? (Eerdmans, 2005), in which he
          traces the feminism of deity in Canaanite folk-religion and offers historical
          ideas on the issue.

          Thank you.

          *
          EXTRACT: THE GENESIS CALENDAR: THE SYNCHRONISTIC TRADITION IN GENESIS 1-11.

          To step aside briefly to consider the Elephantine question, the
          obvious problem, highlighted by Winton Thomas (1965) is that the Jews in Egypt
          had their own Temple, and a syncretistic one at that, combining worship of
          Yahu with Anath-Bethel and other minor deities. Winton Thomas considers
          that Anath, the Canaanite goddess, who is referred to elsewhere in the
          papyri as Anath-Yahu, may be the consort of Yahu, and thus the 'Queen of
          Heaven' (cf. Jer 7:18; 44:17)._[1]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn1) The
          thought of having Jerusalemite direction for the worship of another Temple
          would seem to require some background explanation which Talmon,
          concentrating as he does on the feature of the month's difference which he perceives
          between northern and southern Palestine, does not give. First, in line 2 of
          the Passover Papyrus itself (419 BCE) Hanan[iah] makes reference to "the
          gods", although Winton Thomas tries to ascribe this to a formulaic
          phrase._[2]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn2) If so, it is a strange one to
          use from a Deuteronomic point of view. The garrison is told to keep the
          Passover from 15-21 [Nisan] in accordance with the legislation, it seems, of
          Ex 12:18 (cf. Deut 16:1-8). After the Temple is destroyed by the
          Egyptians_[3]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn3) in 410 BCE (and after some
          possibly abortive attempts to get authority for rebuilding) another letter
          is written (408/7 BCE) to Bagoas, governor of Judæa, begging for his
          intervention to help restore their Temple._[4]_
          (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn4) In this letter they mention that the High Priest, Johanan (Neh
          12:22-23) has not replied to an earlier letter. It must be asked if a reason
          for the silence was that Johanan disapproved.

          The appeal to Bagoas, therefore, could well have political overtones, the
          more so for two specific reasons. First, Winton Thomas notes that Josephus
          records the historical fact of Bagoas' and Johanan's enmity, in which, as
          a result, the latter killed the former's brother._[5]_
          (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn5) Notably, the memorandum of the reply (not extant)
          that is given to the letter mentions Bagoas, but not Johanan._[6]_
          (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn6) Secondly, the papyrus mentions sending
          another, simultaneous, communication to Delaiah and Shelemiah, the sons of
          Sanballat, a clear reference to the anti-particularist party, as the book of
          Nehemiah repeatedly makes clear._[7]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn7)
          Delaiah is also mentioned in the above memorandum besides Bagoas, which
          further suggests a rift between Bagoas the administrator and Johanan, the
          High Priest, somewhat emphasised by the explicit link between Bagoas and the
          Samaritan Party of Sanballat. The association of Johanan with the Persian
          administration's particularists may even be glimpsed at an early stage when
          Ezra chooses the room of a certain "Johanan, son of Eliashib" to retire to
          (Ezra 10:6). Eliashib, his father, on the other hand, becomes involved
          with the Palestinians, and particularly Tobiah, arousing the ire of Nehemiah
          (Neh 13: 4, 7, 28). It is this last act which Josephus (Ant. XI, 7:2)
          cites as the cause of the Samaritan Schism, but it is likely the 'Schism' was
          a chasm of long standing, in the Divided Kingdom, in 722 and settlement (2
          Kings 17:1-40) and in 586 BCE and Return (Ezra 4:1-5). It can be seen
          within a history of troubled politico-religious relations between north and
          south Palestine which form a theme in Judæo-Christian writing._[8]_
          (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn8)
          To regress usefully in time a little, Morgenstern (1935) is cogent on the
          situation surrounding the letters concerning the Egyptian garrison, proving
          that his attempted historical reconstructions are not always
          unconvincing._[9]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn9) He sees the predominant use
          of Babylonian month-names as evidence of direct Persian influence. As we
          have seen already, the Persians adopted their captives' superior calendar.
          Behind this Persian throne, in the background of Exile, was a caucus of
          Babylonian/Persian Jewry with its evolving, particularist tendencies based on
          an abstracted and intellectualised version of a once-localised Palestinian
          faith._[10]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn10) Morgenstern sees
          the Palestinian Jews as more resistant to Toratist reforms and timing than
          the Egyptians. To Morgenstern, plausibly, Joshua was a Zadokite influenced
          by locals (Zech 3:8a)._[11]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn11)
          Ezra represents the Zadokite party against the Levitical priests who had
          asserted themselves in the power vacuum, and whose calendar may even have been
          different._[12]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn12) Eliashib, after
          an initial consonance with the wall-building programme under Nehemiah,
          turns to the Palestinian party, and is thereafter identified with that party,
          his name absent, for example, from the agreement of Neh 10, whereas his
          (grand)son, Johanan, becomes a firm supporter of Ezra and Nehemiah's
          administrative reforms._[13]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn13) When Nehemiah
          was replaced by Bagoas, a pro-Palestinian Persian, it represented,
          according to Morgenstern, a policy reversal of the Persian administration. It
          may be, then, that particularism about sabbaths and intermarriage, while
          acceptable to the Persian Jews of the zealous Zadokite party, was less in
          keeping with the more parallelistic and syncretistic Persian mindset. It had,
          after all, not been strict Yahwism, but a Persian kind of universalistic
          policy, which had caused the issuing of the decree of Cyrus, originally (Ezra
          1:2-4). I do not automatically exclude, here, a theologically-read First
          Mover.
          In this context, the appeal of the Jews of Elephantine to Bagoas for
          guidance with their syncretistic Passover, and the already-mentioned silence of
          Johanan, begins to build for us a picture of a luni-solar empire doing
          business with all and sundry, while a caucus of Zadokites, committed to their
          own, quite different programme, were at the centre of political tensions in
          Jerusalem. This party saw a victory with the accession of Johanan to the
          High Priesthood: he was of the body of Eliashib, but of the mind of
          Nehemiah. It was both a practical and symbolic triumph for the Zadokites, which
          explains the perplexity of the Elephantine Jews in 408/7 BCE, that Johanan
          gave them no help with their Temple rebuilding, not even a reply. The
          Persian empire was luni-solar, and Palestinians had been under local influences
          which were Assyrio-Babylonian in inspiration, as well as
          syncretistic._[14]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn14) Even in Egypt, where the sun
          was a god and the Pharaoh his divine son, the schematic calendar was a
          simplification of lunar months, and was matched by two luni-solar calendars.
          Jerusalem's silence towards Elephantine is consistent with Jaubert's view
          that the post-exilic Zadokites were solarist sabbatarians, out of sympathy
          with the implicit (and not necessarily overt) imperial drive towards a
          luni-solarism that was increasingly universal. Such a luni-solar calendar-model
          would not only have resounded in long echoes within occupied Palestine,
          and throughout its daily life and Babylonian-influenced leadership, but
          (possibly) also, in its pre-invasion past. This would have made the 364-day
          calendar, as a consequence, a touchstone of loyalty in the post-exilic
          Jerusalemite party and its dominant tradition. As a reminder of the need for
          caution, however, Davies (1983) is unwilling to follow VanderKam (1979) in a
          second century BCE dating for the tradition's demise. He accepts the
          existence of a post-exilic (and even a pre-exilic) cultic solarism, along with
          its characteristic 364-day (52-week) calendar, but does not accord
          VanderKam's longevity to a mainstream expression of it. In this, Davies is near to
          Jaubert's own view, which dates its end to the third century BCE, which is
          certainly arguable._[15]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftn15)


          ____________________________________

          _[1]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref1) Winton Thomas, op. cit.,
          257.

          _[2]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref2) Ibid., 259 and n2

          _[3]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref3) Nephayan, son of Widrang,
          encouraged by priests of Khnub (usually Khnum), partly demolished it, and
          as the letter says, offerings had ceased and the people were in mourning:
          ibid., 260-3 (ll 4-25).

          _[4]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref4) Ibid., 260. See his
          discussion on the probable historic precedence of Ezra over Nehemiah: 261.

          _[5]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref5) Ibid., 264 note on l. 18.

          _[6]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref6) Ibid., 266, l. 1.

          _[7]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref7) Kidner, 1979, 70; cf.
          153f.

          _[8]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref8) Margalith, 1991, 312-323.

          _[9]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref9) Morgenstern, 1935, 108-33.

          _[10]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref10) Ibid., 113-4.

          _[11]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref11) Ibid., 123-4.

          _[12]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref12) Morgenstern dates Ezra
          to 458 BCE; cf. Kidner, op. cit.,

          _[13]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref13) Ibid., 126 and n 204.

          _[14]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref14) Cf. Grabbe (1994,
          286-99) considers Ezra's mission enigmatic (297), and lost in history (299), but
          accepts as plausible a parallel of particularism in Ezra and Nehemiah. Nor
          is this taken as a new policy but one reflecting pre-exilic tensions
          between exclusivism and syncretism (297 n33).

          _[15]_ (aoldb://mail/write/template.htm#_ftnref15) VanderKam, 1979, 402-10.



          (c) Bruce Gardner, 2001.


          Best Regards,


          Bruce Gardner.
          Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.



          In a message dated 30/09/2011 04:37:11 GMT Daylight Time,
          dqhall59@... writes:




          I was reading translations of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine Island
          near Aswan, Egypt. One papyrus stated there was a temple of YHWH at
          Elephantine Island from the times of Cambyses. A different papyrus from the last
          decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius was a letter asking for
          advice from those in Israel about how to observe the Passover. I cannot
          determine what late redactions or regulations might have been initiated that
          a community of Jewish people in Egypt would have needed to know about.
          Shouldn't they have already known about this observance for generations?

          There is little written about exactly when these regulations came into
          being.

          David Q. Hall
          Falls Church, Virginia

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Lisbeth S. Fried
          Dear David, I think you are conflating two of the Elephantine papyri. The letter from the Jews of Elephantine to the governor and officials of Judah was to
          Message 4 of 18 , Sep 30, 2011
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            Dear David,

            I think you are conflating two of the Elephantine papyri. The letter from
            the Jews of Elephantine to the governor and officials of Judah was to
            request help in getting the satrap of Egypt to permit the rebuilding of
            their temple after it had been destroyed.

            The letter regarding Passover was to the Jewish community at Elephantine,
            not from it. The letter is badly broken, so it is not clear whom the letter
            is from exactly. It seems to me clear however that the letter refers to the
            seven days of the holiday of matzot, and leaves off mention of the Passover
            sacrifice itself.

            Speculations abound in the literature about the meaning of it all.



            Liz



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



            _____

            From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
            David Hall
            Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 7:39 PM
            To: ANE-2
            Subject: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri





            I was reading translations of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine Island
            near Aswan, Egypt. One papyrus stated there was a temple of YHWH at
            Elephantine Island from the times of Cambyses. A different papyrus from the
            last decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius was a letter asking
            for advice from those in Israel about how to observe the Passover. I cannot
            determine what late redactions or regulations might have been initiated that
            a community of Jewish people in Egypt would have needed to know about.
            Shouldn't they have already known about this observance for generations?

            There is little written about exactly when these regulations came into
            being.

            David Q. Hall
            Falls Church, Virginia

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • David Hall
              Thanks for the correction.    I found the Passover letter as you described.  I supposed someone may have requested information about Passover observance
            Message 5 of 18 , Sep 30, 2011
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              Thanks for the correction. 
               
              I found the Passover letter as you described.  I supposed someone may have requested information about Passover observance in order to get detailed instructions in a letter.  I should not assume too much.
               
              David Q. Hall
              Falls Church, Virginia
               


              ________________________________
              From: Lisbeth S. Fried <lizfried@...>
              To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Friday, September 30, 2011 11:28 AM
              Subject: RE: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri


               

              Dear David,

              I think you are conflating two of the Elephantine papyri. The letter from
              the Jews of Elephantine to the governor and officials of Judah was to
              request help in getting the satrap of Egypt to permit the rebuilding of
              their temple after it had been destroyed.

              The letter regarding Passover was to the Jewish community at Elephantine,
              not from it. The letter is badly broken, so it is not clear whom the letter
              is from exactly. It seems to me clear however that the letter refers to the
              seven days of the holiday of matzot, and leaves off mention of the Passover
              sacrifice itself.

              Speculations abound in the literature about the meaning of it all.

              Liz

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

              _____

              From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
              David Hall
              Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 7:39 PM
              To: ANE-2
              Subject: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri

              I was reading translations of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine Island
              near Aswan, Egypt. One papyrus stated there was a temple of YHWH at
              Elephantine Island from the times of Cambyses. A different papyrus from the
              last decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius was a letter asking
              for advice from those in Israel about how to observe the Passover. I cannot
              determine what late redactions or regulations might have been initiated that
              a community of Jewish people in Egypt would have needed to know about.
              Shouldn't they have already known about this observance for generations?

              There is little written about exactly when these regulations came into
              being.

              David Q. Hall
              Falls Church, Virginia

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Ian Onvlee
              Hi Russel, Interesting note. It is thus possible that a Torah did not exist even as late as the third century BC and still needed to be compiled and eventually
              Message 6 of 18 , Sep 30, 2011
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                Hi Russel,

                Interesting note. It is thus possible that a Torah did not exist even as late as the third century BC and still needed to be compiled and eventually canonized. I do see a lot of evidence for that, although it says nothing about the historical kernel of certain parts of the Bible.

                Regards,
                Ian Onvlee
                Holland, Den Haag



                ________________________________
                From: "RUSSELLGMIRKIN@..." <RUSSELLGMIRKIN@...>
                To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Friday, September 30, 2011 1:00 PM
                Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri


                 

                David,

                The Elephantine papyri are remarkable in their total absence of reference
                to a biblical text, biblical traditions, or biblical authority for
                religious institutions. There is in fact no evidence that a biblical text existed
                by 400 BCE. See my discussion in _Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus:
                Hellenistic Histories and the date of the Pentateuch (New York-London: T &
                T Clark International, 2006), 28-33. The Passover Letter is a case in
                point. It contains no reference to the Exodus tradition nor does it cite a
                textual / biblical authority for the observance of Passover. A case can be
                made (and is made in my book) that the Passover festival as observed in ca.
                400 BCE predated the biblical Exodus tradition, but consisted at that time
                of a purely agricultural festival based on "Oral Torah" (priestly authority
                unsupported by a written text), for which the Passover Letter itself
                constitutes an important historical example. The ostraca found at Elephantine
                also suggest the sabbath was known to the Elephantine Jews (i.e. the
                appearance of the proper name Sabbatai, if my memory serves). So it appears
                reasonably certain that the Jews of Elephantine observed some religious days found
                in the (IMO later) biblical text, but the idea that these practices were
                supported by an existing biblical text appears unfounded (and indeed the
                practices at the Elephantine temple would have been condemned in a biblical text
                as heterodox).

                Best regards,
                Russell Gmirkin

                I was reading translations of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine Island
                near Aswan, Egypt. One papyrus stated there was a temple of YHWH at
                Elephantine Island from the times of Cambyses. A different papyrus from the last
                decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius was a letter asking for
                advice from those in Israel about how to observe the Passover. I cannot
                determine what late redactions or regulations might have been initiated that
                a community of Jewish people in Egypt would have needed to know about.
                Shouldn't they have already known about this observance for generations?

                There is little written about exactly when these regulations came into
                being.

                David Q. Hall
                Falls Church, Virginia

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Trudy Kawami
                A different papyrus from the last decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius Be careful of chronologies here. If the letter was dated to the last
                Message 7 of 18 , Sep 30, 2011
                • 0 Attachment
                  "A different papyrus from the last decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius"

                  Be careful of chronologies here. If the letter was dated to the last decade of the fifth cent BCE, i.e. 410-401, it can't be in the reign of Darius I. There were three kings by that name, and Darius II is usually dated (424-404), a century after Cambyses - long enough to forget some things or not be abreast of the latest trends in rituals.

                  Trudy S. Kawami

                  From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of David Hall
                  Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 7:39 PM
                  To: ANE-2
                  Subject: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri



                  I was reading translations of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine Island near Aswan, Egypt. One papyrus stated there was a temple of YHWH at Elephantine Island from the times of Cambyses. A different papyrus from the last decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius was a letter asking for advice from those in Israel about how to observe the Passover. I cannot determine what late redactions or regulations might have been initiated that a community of Jewish people in Egypt would have needed to know about. Shouldn't they have already known about this observance for generations?

                  There is little written about exactly when these regulations came into being.

                  David Q. Hall
                  Falls Church, Virginia

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • David Hall
                  Trudy,   There was also a Cambyses II.  In the case of the Jeroboam seal found at Megiddo, scholars determined that while it was inscribed, Jeroboam,  it
                  Message 8 of 18 , Sep 30, 2011
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Trudy,
                     
                    There was also a Cambyses II.  In the case of the Jeroboam seal found at Megiddo, scholars determined that while it was inscribed, "Jeroboam," it was likely the seal of Jeroboam II.  The seal disappeared and all we have are images made of the seal.
                     
                    I am not an authority about these papyri, but have been reading secondary sources.  The temple of YHWH was on Elephantine Island in the fortress.  The temple that was [in existence] from the time of Cambyses until it was looted and destroyed.  The Jewish residents desired to build another.  So far as I assume, the Passover letter is the earliest extant document mentioning the feast of the unleavened bread. 
                     
                    Donald B. Redford indicated some of the Egyptian toponyms used in Exodus were used no earlier than the times of "the 26th dynasty kings and early Persian overlords."  From, 'Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times,' D.B. Redford, Princeton U. Press, 1992 (pg. 409).
                     
                    David Q. Hall
                    Falls Church, Virginia
                     

                    From: Trudy Kawami <tkawami@...>
                    To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                    Sent: Friday, September 30, 2011 2:38 PM
                    Subject: RE: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri


                     
                    "A different papyrus from the last decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius"

                    Be careful of chronologies here. If the letter was dated to the last decade of the fifth cent BCE, i.e. 410-401, it can't be in the reign of Darius I. There were three kings by that name, and Darius II is usually dated (424-404), a century after Cambyses - long enough to forget some things or not be abreast of the latest trends in rituals.

                    Trudy S. Kawami

                    From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of David Hall
                    Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 7:39 PM
                    To: ANE-2
                    Subject: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri

                    I was reading translations of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine Island near Aswan, Egypt. One papyrus stated there was a temple of YHWH at Elephantine Island from the times of Cambyses. A different papyrus from the last decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius was a letter asking for advice from those in Israel about how to observe the Passover. I cannot determine what late redactions or regulations might have been initiated that a community of Jewish people in Egypt would have needed to know about. Shouldn't they have already known about this observance for generations?

                    There is little written about exactly when these regulations came into being.

                    David Q. Hall
                    Falls Church, Virginia

                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Liz Fried
                    I do not think it possible to generalize from what was known at Elephantine to what was known in Judah at the time. Liz Fried Ann Arbor Sent from my iPhone ...
                    Message 9 of 18 , Sep 30, 2011
                    • 0 Attachment
                      I do not think it possible to generalize from what was known at Elephantine to what was known in Judah at the time.

                      Liz Fried
                      Ann Arbor

                      Sent from my iPhone

                      On Sep 30, 2011, at 1:36 PM, Ian Onvlee <sambacats@...> wrote:

                      > Hi Russel,
                      >
                      > Interesting note. It is thus possible that a Torah did not exist even as late as the third century BC and still needed to be compiled and eventually canonized. I do see a lot of evidence for that, although it says nothing about the historical kernel of certain parts of the Bible.
                      >
                      > Regards,
                      > Ian Onvlee
                      > Holland, Den Haag
                      >
                      > ________________________________
                      > From: "RUSSELLGMIRKIN@..." <RUSSELLGMIRKIN@...>
                      > To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                      > Sent: Friday, September 30, 2011 1:00 PM
                      > Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > David,
                      >
                      > The Elephantine papyri are remarkable in their total absence of reference
                      > to a biblical text, biblical traditions, or biblical authority for
                      > religious institutions. There is in fact no evidence that a biblical text existed
                      > by 400 BCE. See my discussion in _Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus:
                      > Hellenistic Histories and the date of the Pentateuch (New York-London: T &
                      > T Clark International, 2006), 28-33. The Passover Letter is a case in
                      > point. It contains no reference to the Exodus tradition nor does it cite a
                      > textual / biblical authority for the observance of Passover. A case can be
                      > made (and is made in my book) that the Passover festival as observed in ca.
                      > 400 BCE predated the biblical Exodus tradition, but consisted at that time
                      > of a purely agricultural festival based on "Oral Torah" (priestly authority
                      > unsupported by a written text), for which the Passover Letter itself
                      > constitutes an important historical example. The ostraca found at Elephantine
                      > also suggest the sabbath was known to the Elephantine Jews (i.e. the
                      > appearance of the proper name Sabbatai, if my memory serves). So it appears
                      > reasonably certain that the Jews of Elephantine observed some religious days found
                      > in the (IMO later) biblical text, but the idea that these practices were
                      > supported by an existing biblical text appears unfounded (and indeed the
                      > practices at the Elephantine temple would have been condemned in a biblical text
                      > as heterodox).
                      >
                      > Best regards,
                      > Russell Gmirkin
                      >
                      > I was reading translations of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine Island
                      > near Aswan, Egypt. One papyrus stated there was a temple of YHWH at
                      > Elephantine Island from the times of Cambyses. A different papyrus from the last
                      > decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius was a letter asking for
                      > advice from those in Israel about how to observe the Passover. I cannot
                      > determine what late redactions or regulations might have been initiated that
                      > a community of Jewish people in Egypt would have needed to know about.
                      > Shouldn't they have already known about this observance for generations?
                      >
                      > There is little written about exactly when these regulations came into
                      > being.
                      >
                      > David Q. Hall
                      > Falls Church, Virginia
                      >
                      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      >
                      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      >
                      >


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Lukasz
                      Dear David, I do not like such answers, however it may be the most appropriate: Have a look at some literature, e.g. one by myself:
                      Message 10 of 18 , Sep 30, 2011
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Dear David,

                        I do not like such answers, however it may be the most appropriate:
                        Have a look at some literature, e.g. one by myself:

                        http://uw.academia.edu/LukaszNiesiolowskiSpano/Papers/733998/Passover_the_Jewish_cultic_calendar_and_the_Torah

                        With my best regards,

                        Lukasz Niesiolowski-Spano
                        University of Warsaw

                        --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, David Hall <dqhall59@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > I was reading translations of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine Island near Aswan, Egypt.  One papyrus stated there was a temple of YHWH at Elephantine Island from the times of Cambyses.  A different papyrus from the last decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius was a letter asking for advice from those in Israel about how to observe the Passover.  I cannot determine what late redactions or regulations might have been initiated that a community of Jewish people in Egypt would have needed to know about.  Shouldn't they have already known about this observance for generations? 
                        >  
                        > There is little written about exactly when these regulations came into being.
                        >  
                        > David Q. Hall
                        > Falls Church, Virginia
                        >
                        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        >
                      • RUSSELLGMIRKIN@aol.com
                        Yes, but at least we know what was known at Elephantine in the fifth century. We do _not_ know what was known in Judah in the fifth century, unless we make
                        Message 11 of 18 , Sep 30, 2011
                        • 0 Attachment
                          Yes, but at least we know what was known at Elephantine in the fifth
                          century. We do _not_ know what was known in Judah in the fifth century, unless
                          we make unwarranted assumptions about the historical value of undated texts
                          such as Ezra or Nehemiah or the Prophets. Surely contemporary non-literary
                          evidence from Elephantine that is secure in date should be given priority
                          over literary texts of unknown date.

                          Best regards,
                          Russell Gmirkin

                          I do not think it possible to generalize from what was known at
                          Elephantine to what was known in Judah at the time.

                          Liz Fried
                          Ann Arbor






                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • David Hall
                          Thanks for sending your paper.  I had not seen some of these theories before.  It was fluent in English and showed in depth research.   David Q. Hall Falls
                          Message 12 of 18 , Sep 30, 2011
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Thanks for sending your paper.  I had not seen some of these theories before.  It was fluent in English and showed in depth research.
                             
                            David Q. Hall
                            Falls Church, Virginia

                            From: Lukasz <niesiolowski@...>
                            To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Friday, September 30, 2011 3:26 PM
                            Subject: [ANE-2] Re: Elephantine Aramaic papyri


                             
                            Dear David,

                            I do not like such answers, however it may be the most appropriate:
                            Have a look at some literature, e.g. one by myself:

                            http://uw.academia.edu/LukaszNiesiolowskiSpano/Papers/733998/Passover_the_Jewish_cultic_calendar_and_the_Torah

                            With my best regards,

                            Lukasz Niesiolowski-Spano
                            University of Warsaw

                            --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, David Hall <dqhall59@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > I was reading translations of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine Island near Aswan, Egypt.  One papyrus stated there was a temple of YHWH at Elephantine Island from the times of Cambyses.  A different papyrus from the last decade of the fifth century and the reign of Darius was a letter asking for advice from those in Israel about how to observe the Passover.  I cannot determine what late redactions or regulations might have been initiated that a community of Jewish people in Egypt would have needed to know about.  Shouldn't they have already known about this observance for generations? 
                            >  
                            > There is little written about exactly when these regulations came into being.
                            >  
                            > David Q. Hall
                            > Falls Church, Virginia
                            >
                            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            >




                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • drbrucekgardner@aol.com
                            Leaving aside the debated Ezra Memorial, Ezra-Nehemiah makes specific reference to historical figures that must constitute a kind of historical comment,
                            Message 13 of 18 , Oct 1, 2011
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Leaving aside the debated Ezra Memorial, Ezra-Nehemiah makes specific
                              reference to historical figures that must constitute a kind of historical
                              comment, however cautiously they be used. As Schurer's History of the Jewish
                              People in the Age of Jesus Christ points out (III; 38-40) Elephantine
                              references to the establishment of Passover at an imperial level are consistent
                              with the biblical accounts of Nehemiah's mission. A Jewish settlement in the
                              6th Cent BCE is mentioned in Jer. 44:1 and 46:13-14, from which literary text
                              (Jer 44:1-23), also, we have the condemnation of "the Queen of Heaven",
                              which appears to be a reference to a consort of Yhw. See also W. G. Dever Did
                              God Have A Wife? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans: 2005). Nehemianic stories of
                              Sanballat the Horonite and other local enemies of the land also make the point
                              about a stricter Judaism founding itself in post-exilic Jerusalem,
                              determined to be the norm in the midst of what may have been wide theological
                              variations. All such references point to the same concept of normative,
                              monotheistic Jerusalem and, while one may wish to be cautious in their
                              application, their relevance as evidence seems undeniable.


                              To ignore all biblical testimony, therefore, merely on grounds of uncertain
                              dating, seems to be excessively dismissive. Besides, by what standard of
                              logic do we deny the probity of biblical writers, while automatically
                              ascribing the highest level of probity to non-biblical writers? We know of
                              Elephantine what a writer in a highly-politicised climate told someone else. If
                              one is going to be consistent one must maintain reserve about the
                              reliability of non-biblical witnesses. All reconstructions are tentative, as the
                              history of criticism reminds us.



                              To favour one source, apparently uncritically and unreservedly, while
                              excluding another one in the same way,
                              risks prejudice in sources. One accepts the cautious argument, therefore,
                              but one must reserve the right to cite biblical sources. And in those
                              sources there appears a reason for a distance between the Jerusalemite and
                              Elephantine perspectives that should not, be ignored, namely a centralist and
                              monotheistic ideology in Jerusalem. By all means let that theory be tested,
                              but let it not be shut out of possibility, merely because the sources are
                              "literary". What does that mean, in real terms, when writing letters is a
                              literary endeavour?


                              Rejection of biblical testimony per se has little critical merit and risks
                              seeming ideologically-driven, perhaps after the minimalism of the age. Gam
                              zeh ya'avor. In the meantime, let us keep a level head on all sources.



                              Bruce Gardner
                              Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.



                              In a message dated 30/09/2011 22:02:16 GMT Daylight Time,
                              RUSSELLGMIRKIN@... writes:





                              Yes, but at least we know what was known at Elephantine in the fifth
                              century. We do _not_ know what was known in Judah in the fifth century,
                              unless
                              we make unwarranted assumptions about the historical value of undated
                              texts
                              such as Ezra or Nehemiah or the Prophets. Surely contemporary non-literary
                              evidence from Elephantine that is secure in date should be given priority
                              over literary texts of unknown date.

                              Best regards,
                              Russell Gmirkin

                              I do not think it possible to generalize from what was known at
                              Elephantine to what was known in Judah at the time.

                              Liz Fried
                              Ann Arbor

                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            • Niels Peter Lemche
                              Before I start: My forgot my glasses in my office in Copenhagen yesterday. It is an 80 miles drive! So if spelling etc is more compromised than usual, that s
                              Message 14 of 18 , Oct 1, 2011
                              • 0 Attachment
                                Before I start: My forgot my glasses in my office in Copenhagen yesterday. It is an 80 miles drive! So if spelling etc is more compromised than usual, that's the reason.

                                And to Gardner's mail:

                                first, before we get to far from the subject, the Elephantine papyri: This list is not about biblical historicity.

                                Second, the argument is wrong: It is nowhere to be proven that the mentioning of the names of Ezra and Nehemiah makes them historical. I could mention Tarzan without making him historical. Gilgamesh was probably in the hoary past a king from Lagash, but that will be the only historical part of the epic, etc etc.

                                Third: Jeremias has nothing to say about Elephantine. a) can we date Jeremias? except from conventional beliefs that be belonged where he is said to belong? b) the context of Jer 44 and 46 is N.E Egypt. Migdol, as one of the place names mentioned there could be everywhere (meaning "tower"), the other names is about something in the eastern delta. How long is the distance from, say the present Suez canal to Elephantine?

                                Fourth: The geography of Jerusalem in the Persian and Hellenistic periods is definitely a hot subject today. Some leading archaeologists like David Ussishkin would say that there was really nothing here before c. 200 BCE, making this discussion totally redundant

                                Fifth: The post-exilic period is a concept, an ideological one, that comes from the Old Testament. We are investigating whether or not the concept is meaningful, as the Jewish society persisted in Iraq until 1951.

                                Sixth: the term "Jew" in this connection is ideological and certainly not very precise. Which also means arguing that the Elephantine sociewty was Jewish is already presupposing something that is far from secure.

                                Seventh: Bill Dever did not find out that Iron Age Yahweh of Juda/Samaria was a bachelor -- although he would be happy to be reckoned so. Here it would be more precise to quote the specialized literature by Tilde Binger, Paolo Merlo, Wiggins and more.

                                But again, this is not the place to discuss the historicity of Ezra and Nehemiah. Such questions really belongs in biblical lists like Biblical studies. A remark like this "Rejection of biblical testimony per se has little critical merit and risks
                                seeming ideologically-driven, perhaps after the minimalism of the age" has nothing to do here.

                                Niels Peter Lemche




                                -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
                                Fra: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] På vegne af drbrucekgardner@...
                                Sendt: den 1 oktober 2011 12:16
                                Til: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                Emne: Re: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri


                                Leaving aside the debated Ezra Memorial, Ezra-Nehemiah makes specific
                                reference to historical figures that must constitute a kind of historical
                                comment, however cautiously they be used. As Schurer's History of the Jewish
                                People in the Age of Jesus Christ points out (III; 38-40) Elephantine
                                references to the establishment of Passover at an imperial level are consistent
                                with the biblical accounts of Nehemiah's mission. A Jewish settlement in the
                                6th Cent BCE is mentioned in Jer. 44:1 and 46:13-14, from which literary text
                                (Jer 44:1-23), also, we have the condemnation of "the Queen of Heaven",
                                which appears to be a reference to a consort of Yhw. See also W. G. Dever Did
                                God Have A Wife? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans: 2005). Nehemianic stories of
                                Sanballat the Horonite and other local enemies of the land also make the point
                                about a stricter Judaism founding itself in post-exilic Jerusalem,
                                determined to be the norm in the midst of what may have been wide theological
                                variations. All such references point to the same concept of normative,
                                monotheistic Jerusalem and, while one may wish to be cautious in their
                                application, their relevance as evidence seems undeniable.


                                To ignore all biblical testimony, therefore, merely on grounds of uncertain
                                dating, seems to be excessively dismissive. Besides, by what standard of
                                logic do we deny the probity of biblical writers, while automatically
                                ascribing the highest level of probity to non-biblical writers? We know of
                                Elephantine what a writer in a highly-politicised climate told someone else. If
                                one is going to be consistent one must maintain reserve about the
                                reliability of non-biblical witnesses. All reconstructions are tentative, as the
                                history of criticism reminds us.



                                To favour one source, apparently uncritically and unreservedly, while
                                excluding another one in the same way,
                                risks prejudice in sources. One accepts the cautious argument, therefore,
                                but one must reserve the right to cite biblical sources. And in those
                                sources there appears a reason for a distance between the Jerusalemite and
                                Elephantine perspectives that should not, be ignored, namely a centralist and
                                monotheistic ideology in Jerusalem. By all means let that theory be tested,
                                but let it not be shut out of possibility, merely because the sources are
                                "literary". What does that mean, in real terms, when writing letters is a
                                literary endeavour?


                                Rejection of biblical testimony per se has little critical merit and risks
                                seeming ideologically-driven, perhaps after the minimalism of the age. Gam
                                zeh ya'avor. In the meantime, let us keep a level head on all sources.



                                Bruce Gardner
                                Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.



                                In a message dated 30/09/2011 22:02:16 GMT Daylight Time,
                                RUSSELLGMIRKIN@... writes:





                                Yes, but at least we know what was known at Elephantine in the fifth
                                century. We do _not_ know what was known in Judah in the fifth century,
                                unless
                                we make unwarranted assumptions about the historical value of undated
                                texts
                                such as Ezra or Nehemiah or the Prophets. Surely contemporary non-literary
                                evidence from Elephantine that is secure in date should be given priority
                                over literary texts of unknown date.

                                Best regards,
                                Russell Gmirkin

                                I do not think it possible to generalize from what was known at
                                Elephantine to what was known in Judah at the time.

                                Liz Fried
                                Ann Arbor

                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



                                ------------------------------------

                                Yahoo! Groups Links
                              • David Hall
                                Niels,   I have read Finkelstein about the theory of a late Iron II expansion of Jerusalem after the fall of Hazor and the northern cities to the
                                Message 15 of 18 , Oct 1, 2011
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  Niels,
                                   
                                  I have read Finkelstein about the theory of a late Iron II expansion of Jerusalem after the fall of Hazor and the northern cities to the Assyrians.  There is a theory northern refugees moved into Jerusalem to avoid the Assyrian armies marching towards them.  There was a broad wall discovered on the slopes of Zion that is dated to pre-exilic times and is evidence of a much larger city than the Iron I Jerusalem of the SE ridge above the Kidron Valley.  This broad wall is a short distance from the Armenian Quarter and modern city wall of Old Jerusalem. 
                                   
                                  http://www.gojerusalem.com/discover/item_11470/The-Broad-Wall
                                   
                                  The old city was not exceedingly large in the 2nd century BCE.  The city growth was limited to the fact it had one spring at Gihon, cisterns, and at some time a well outside the city walls to the south.  The early first century Jerusalem had not yet expanded to the NE and its first NE wall was likely near the Via Dolorosa of modern times.  The Romans built an aqueduct from the south and Jerusalem expanded again out to the third wall.  Josephus wrote Pilate stole the temple korban (funds) in order to build an aqueduct to Jerusalem.
                                   
                                  It may be of interest; the book of Nehemiah and the Elephantine Island community both recorded the name Sanballat. 
                                   
                                  David Q. Hall
                                  Falls Church, Virginia
                                   
                                   
                                   
                                   


                                  ________________________________
                                  From: Niels Peter Lemche <npl@...>
                                  To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                                  Sent: Saturday, October 1, 2011 6:59 AM
                                  Subject: SV: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri


                                   

                                  Before I start: My forgot my glasses in my office in Copenhagen yesterday. It is an 80 miles drive! So if spelling etc is more compromised than usual, that's the reason.

                                  And to Gardner's mail:

                                  first, before we get to far from the subject, the Elephantine papyri: This list is not about biblical historicity.

                                  Second, the argument is wrong: It is nowhere to be proven that the mentioning of the names of Ezra and Nehemiah makes them historical. I could mention Tarzan without making him historical. Gilgamesh was probably in the hoary past a king from Lagash, but that will be the only historical part of the epic, etc etc.

                                  Third: Jeremias has nothing to say about Elephantine. a) can we date Jeremias? except from conventional beliefs that be belonged where he is said to belong? b) the context of Jer 44 and 46 is N.E Egypt. Migdol, as one of the place names mentioned there could be everywhere (meaning "tower"), the other names is about something in the eastern delta. How long is the distance from, say the present Suez canal to Elephantine?

                                  Fourth: The geography of Jerusalem in the Persian and Hellenistic periods is definitely a hot subject today. Some leading archaeologists like David Ussishkin would say that there was really nothing here before c. 200 BCE, making this discussion totally redundant

                                  Fifth: The post-exilic period is a concept, an ideological one, that comes from the Old Testament. We are investigating whether or not the concept is meaningful, as the Jewish society persisted in Iraq until 1951.

                                  Sixth: the term "Jew" in this connection is ideological and certainly not very precise. Which also means arguing that the Elephantine sociewty was Jewish is already presupposing something that is far from secure.

                                  Seventh: Bill Dever did not find out that Iron Age Yahweh of Juda/Samaria was a bachelor -- although he would be happy to be reckoned so. Here it would be more precise to quote the specialized literature by Tilde Binger, Paolo Merlo, Wiggins and more.

                                  But again, this is not the place to discuss the historicity of Ezra and Nehemiah. Such questions really belongs in biblical lists like Biblical studies. A remark like this "Rejection of biblical testimony per se has little critical merit and risks
                                  seeming ideologically-driven, perhaps after the minimalism of the age" has nothing to do here.

                                  Niels Peter Lemche




                                  -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
                                  Fra: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] På vegne af drbrucekgardner@...
                                  Sendt: den 1 oktober 2011 12:16
                                  Til: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                  Emne: Re: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri


                                  Leaving aside the debated Ezra Memorial, Ezra-Nehemiah makes specific
                                  reference to historical figures that must constitute a kind of historical
                                  comment, however cautiously they be used. As Schurer's History of the Jewish
                                  People in the Age of Jesus Christ points out (III; 38-40) Elephantine
                                  references to the establishment of Passover at an imperial level are consistent
                                  with the biblical accounts of Nehemiah's mission. A Jewish settlement in the
                                  6th Cent BCE is mentioned in Jer. 44:1 and 46:13-14, from which literary text
                                  (Jer 44:1-23), also, we have the condemnation of "the Queen of Heaven",
                                  which appears to be a reference to a consort of Yhw. See also W. G. Dever Did
                                  God Have A Wife? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans: 2005). Nehemianic stories of
                                  Sanballat the Horonite and other local enemies of the land also make the point
                                  about a stricter Judaism founding itself in post-exilic Jerusalem,
                                  determined to be the norm in the midst of what may have been wide theological
                                  variations. All such references point to the same concept of normative,
                                  monotheistic Jerusalem and, while one may wish to be cautious in their
                                  application, their relevance as evidence seems undeniable.


                                  To ignore all biblical testimony, therefore, merely on grounds of uncertain
                                  dating, seems to be excessively dismissive. Besides, by what standard of
                                  logic do we deny the probity of biblical writers, while automatically
                                  ascribing the highest level of probity to non-biblical writers? We know of
                                  Elephantine what a writer in a highly-politicised climate told someone else. If
                                  one is going to be consistent one must maintain reserve about the
                                  reliability of non-biblical witnesses. All reconstructions are tentative, as the
                                  history of criticism reminds us.



                                  To favour one source, apparently uncritically and unreservedly, while
                                  excluding another one in the same way,
                                  risks prejudice in sources. One accepts the cautious argument, therefore,
                                  but one must reserve the right to cite biblical sources. And in those
                                  sources there appears a reason for a distance between the Jerusalemite and
                                  Elephantine perspectives that should not, be ignored, namely a centralist and
                                  monotheistic ideology in Jerusalem. By all means let that theory be tested,
                                  but let it not be shut out of possibility, merely because the sources are
                                  "literary". What does that mean, in real terms, when writing letters is a
                                  literary endeavour?


                                  Rejection of biblical testimony per se has little critical merit and risks
                                  seeming ideologically-driven, perhaps after the minimalism of the age. Gam
                                  zeh ya'avor. In the meantime, let us keep a level head on all sources.



                                  Bruce Gardner
                                  Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.



                                  In a message dated 30/09/2011 22:02:16 GMT Daylight Time,
                                  RUSSELLGMIRKIN@... writes:





                                  Yes, but at least we know what was known at Elephantine in the fifth
                                  century. We do _not_ know what was known in Judah in the fifth century,
                                  unless
                                  we make unwarranted assumptions about the historical value of undated
                                  texts
                                  such as Ezra or Nehemiah or the Prophets. Surely contemporary non-literary
                                  evidence from Elephantine that is secure in date should be given priority
                                  over literary texts of unknown date.

                                  Best regards,
                                  Russell Gmirkin

                                  I do not think it possible to generalize from what was known at
                                  Elephantine to what was known in Judah at the time.

                                  Liz Fried
                                  Ann Arbor

                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



                                  ------------------------------------

                                  Yahoo! Groups Links






                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                • Niels Peter Lemche
                                  dear David, Not Hazor, but Samaria. It is, however, contested that this was the reason. After all, it seems that Samarua was not destroyed, but a total of some
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Oct 1, 2011
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    dear David,

                                    Not Hazor, but Samaria. It is, however, contested that this was the reason. After all, it seems that Samarua was not destroyed, but a total of some 20.000 persons were taken away. However, in the south the falkl of Lachish in 701, and Sennacherib's destruction of the built-up areas of Judah may have coursed the changes.

                                    As to Sanballat, it is an Assyrian name: Sinuballit. Which is interesting and should be kept in mind as something remembered.

                                    Niels Peter Lemche




                                    -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
                                    Fra: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] På vegne af David Hall
                                    Sendt: den 1 oktober 2011 16:44
                                    Til: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                    Emne: Re: SV: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri

                                    Niels,
                                     
                                    I have read Finkelstein about the theory of a late Iron II expansion of Jerusalem after the fall of Hazor and the northern cities to the Assyrians.  There is a theory northern refugees moved into Jerusalem to avoid the Assyrian armies marching towards them.  There was a broad wall discovered on the slopes of Zion that is dated to pre-exilic times and is evidence of a much larger city than the Iron I Jerusalem of the SE ridge above the Kidron Valley.  This broad wall is a short distance from the Armenian Quarter and modern city wall of Old Jerusalem. 
                                     
                                    http://www.gojerusalem.com/discover/item_11470/The-Broad-Wall
                                     
                                    The old city was not exceedingly large in the 2nd century BCE.  The city growth was limited to the fact it had one spring at Gihon, cisterns, and at some time a well outside the city walls to the south.  The early first century Jerusalem had not yet expanded to the NE and its first NE wall was likely near the Via Dolorosa of modern times.  The Romans built an aqueduct from the south and Jerusalem expanded again out to the third wall.  Josephus wrote Pilate stole the temple korban (funds) in order to build an aqueduct to Jerusalem.
                                     
                                    It may be of interest; the book of Nehemiah and the Elephantine Island community both recorded the name Sanballat. 
                                     
                                    David Q. Hall
                                    Falls Church, Virginia
                                     
                                     
                                     
                                     


                                    ________________________________
                                    From: Niels Peter Lemche <npl@...>
                                    To: "ANE-2@yahoogroups.com" <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                                    Sent: Saturday, October 1, 2011 6:59 AM
                                    Subject: SV: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri


                                     

                                    Before I start: My forgot my glasses in my office in Copenhagen yesterday. It is an 80 miles drive! So if spelling etc is more compromised than usual, that's the reason.

                                    And to Gardner's mail:

                                    first, before we get to far from the subject, the Elephantine papyri: This list is not about biblical historicity.

                                    Second, the argument is wrong: It is nowhere to be proven that the mentioning of the names of Ezra and Nehemiah makes them historical. I could mention Tarzan without making him historical. Gilgamesh was probably in the hoary past a king from Lagash, but that will be the only historical part of the epic, etc etc.

                                    Third: Jeremias has nothing to say about Elephantine. a) can we date Jeremias? except from conventional beliefs that be belonged where he is said to belong? b) the context of Jer 44 and 46 is N.E Egypt. Migdol, as one of the place names mentioned there could be everywhere (meaning "tower"), the other names is about something in the eastern delta. How long is the distance from, say the present Suez canal to Elephantine?

                                    Fourth: The geography of Jerusalem in the Persian and Hellenistic periods is definitely a hot subject today. Some leading archaeologists like David Ussishkin would say that there was really nothing here before c. 200 BCE, making this discussion totally redundant

                                    Fifth: The post-exilic period is a concept, an ideological one, that comes from the Old Testament. We are investigating whether or not the concept is meaningful, as the Jewish society persisted in Iraq until 1951.

                                    Sixth: the term "Jew" in this connection is ideological and certainly not very precise. Which also means arguing that the Elephantine sociewty was Jewish is already presupposing something that is far from secure.

                                    Seventh: Bill Dever did not find out that Iron Age Yahweh of Juda/Samaria was a bachelor -- although he would be happy to be reckoned so. Here it would be more precise to quote the specialized literature by Tilde Binger, Paolo Merlo, Wiggins and more.

                                    But again, this is not the place to discuss the historicity of Ezra and Nehemiah. Such questions really belongs in biblical lists like Biblical studies. A remark like this "Rejection of biblical testimony per se has little critical merit and risks
                                    seeming ideologically-driven, perhaps after the minimalism of the age" has nothing to do here.

                                    Niels Peter Lemche




                                    -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
                                    Fra: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] På vegne af drbrucekgardner@...
                                    Sendt: den 1 oktober 2011 12:16
                                    Til: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                    Emne: Re: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri


                                    Leaving aside the debated Ezra Memorial, Ezra-Nehemiah makes specific
                                    reference to historical figures that must constitute a kind of historical
                                    comment, however cautiously they be used. As Schurer's History of the Jewish
                                    People in the Age of Jesus Christ points out (III; 38-40) Elephantine
                                    references to the establishment of Passover at an imperial level are consistent
                                    with the biblical accounts of Nehemiah's mission. A Jewish settlement in the
                                    6th Cent BCE is mentioned in Jer. 44:1 and 46:13-14, from which literary text
                                    (Jer 44:1-23), also, we have the condemnation of "the Queen of Heaven",
                                    which appears to be a reference to a consort of Yhw. See also W. G. Dever Did
                                    God Have A Wife? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans: 2005). Nehemianic stories of
                                    Sanballat the Horonite and other local enemies of the land also make the point
                                    about a stricter Judaism founding itself in post-exilic Jerusalem,
                                    determined to be the norm in the midst of what may have been wide theological
                                    variations. All such references point to the same concept of normative,
                                    monotheistic Jerusalem and, while one may wish to be cautious in their
                                    application, their relevance as evidence seems undeniable.


                                    To ignore all biblical testimony, therefore, merely on grounds of uncertain
                                    dating, seems to be excessively dismissive. Besides, by what standard of
                                    logic do we deny the probity of biblical writers, while automatically
                                    ascribing the highest level of probity to non-biblical writers? We know of
                                    Elephantine what a writer in a highly-politicised climate told someone else. If
                                    one is going to be consistent one must maintain reserve about the
                                    reliability of non-biblical witnesses. All reconstructions are tentative, as the
                                    history of criticism reminds us.



                                    To favour one source, apparently uncritically and unreservedly, while
                                    excluding another one in the same way,
                                    risks prejudice in sources. One accepts the cautious argument, therefore,
                                    but one must reserve the right to cite biblical sources. And in those
                                    sources there appears a reason for a distance between the Jerusalemite and
                                    Elephantine perspectives that should not, be ignored, namely a centralist and
                                    monotheistic ideology in Jerusalem. By all means let that theory be tested,
                                    but let it not be shut out of possibility, merely because the sources are
                                    "literary". What does that mean, in real terms, when writing letters is a
                                    literary endeavour?


                                    Rejection of biblical testimony per se has little critical merit and risks
                                    seeming ideologically-driven, perhaps after the minimalism of the age. Gam
                                    zeh ya'avor. In the meantime, let us keep a level head on all sources.



                                    Bruce Gardner
                                    Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.



                                    In a message dated 30/09/2011 22:02:16 GMT Daylight Time,
                                    RUSSELLGMIRKIN@... writes:





                                    Yes, but at least we know what was known at Elephantine in the fifth
                                    century. We do _not_ know what was known in Judah in the fifth century,
                                    unless
                                    we make unwarranted assumptions about the historical value of undated
                                    texts
                                    such as Ezra or Nehemiah or the Prophets. Surely contemporary non-literary
                                    evidence from Elephantine that is secure in date should be given priority
                                    over literary texts of unknown date.

                                    Best regards,
                                    Russell Gmirkin

                                    I do not think it possible to generalize from what was known at
                                    Elephantine to what was known in Judah at the time.

                                    Liz Fried
                                    Ann Arbor

                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



                                    ------------------------------------

                                    Yahoo! Groups Links






                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



                                    ------------------------------------

                                    Yahoo! Groups Links
                                  • RUSSELLGMIRKIN@aol.com
                                    In light of NPL s comments below, I will refrain from engaging in Bruce Gardener s comments on biblical historicity other to state that he misunderstands my
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Oct 1, 2011
                                    • 0 Attachment
                                      In light of NPL's comments below, I will refrain from engaging in Bruce
                                      Gardener's comments on biblical historicity other to state that he
                                      misunderstands my position and that I welcome historical data from any literary
                                      source that has been subjected to proper historical criticism, which, I hasten
                                      to add, Dr. Gardner appears to attempt to perform.

                                      With respect to the archaeological debate on Jerusalem that NPL mentions in
                                      point 4 below, I would invoke the Elephantine Papyri no. 30 [Cowley],
                                      which is addressed to "Johanan the high priest and his colleagues the priests
                                      who are in Jerusalem" along with a body of "nobles" as contemporary evidence
                                      in 408 BCE of the importance of Jerusalem in religious matters and some of
                                      the social institutions present there. As an indisputably contemporary
                                      document, IMO this constitutes the best available evidence at present for
                                      Persian period Jerusalem (the archaeological remains remaining relatively mute
                                      at present date).

                                      Best regards,
                                      Russell Gmirkin




                                      Before I start: My forgot my glasses in my office in Copenhagen yesterday.
                                      It is an 80 miles drive! So if spelling etc is more compromised than usual,
                                      that's the reason.

                                      And to Gardner's mail:

                                      first, before we get to far from the subject, the Elephantine papyri: This
                                      list is not about biblical historicity.

                                      Second, the argument is wrong: It is nowhere to be proven that the
                                      mentioning of the names of Ezra and Nehemiah makes them historical. I could
                                      mention Tarzan without making him historical. Gilgamesh was probably in the hoary
                                      past a king from Lagash, but that will be the only historical part of the
                                      epic, etc etc.

                                      Third: Jeremias has nothing to say about Elephantine. a) can we date
                                      Jeremias? except from conventional beliefs that be belonged where he is said to
                                      belong? b) the context of Jer 44 and 46 is N.E Egypt. Migdol, as one of the
                                      place names mentioned there could be everywhere (meaning "tower"), the
                                      other names is about something in the eastern delta. How long is the distance
                                      from, say the present Suez canal to Elephantine?

                                      Fourth: The geography of Jerusalem in the Persian and Hellenistic periods
                                      is definitely a hot subject today. Some leading archaeologists like David
                                      Ussishkin would say that there was really nothing here before c. 200 BCE,
                                      making this discussion totally redundant

                                      Fifth: The post-exilic period is a concept, an ideological one, that comes
                                      from the Old Testament. We are investigating whether or not the concept is
                                      meaningful, as the Jewish society persisted in Iraq until 1951.

                                      Sixth: the term "Jew" in this connection is ideological and certainly not
                                      very precise. Which also means arguing that the Elephantine sociewty was
                                      Jewish is already presupposing something that is far from secure.

                                      Seventh: Bill Dever did not find out that Iron Age Yahweh of Juda/Samaria
                                      was a bachelor -- although he would be happy to be reckoned so. Here it
                                      would be more precise to quote the specialized literature by Tilde Binger,
                                      Paolo Merlo, Wiggins and more.

                                      But again, this is not the place to discuss the historicity of Ezra and
                                      Nehemiah. Such questions really belongs in biblical lists like Biblical
                                      studies. A remark like this "Rejection of biblical testimony per se has little
                                      critical merit and risks
                                      seeming ideologically-driven, perhaps after the minimalism of the age" has
                                      nothing to do here.

                                      Niels Peter Lemche




                                      -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
                                      Fra: _ANE-2@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com)
                                      [mailto:_ANE-2@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com) ] På vegne af
                                      _drbrucekgardner@..._ (mailto:drbrucekgardner@...)
                                      Sendt: den 1 oktober 2011 12:16
                                      Til: _ANE-2@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com)
                                      Emne: Re: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri


                                      Leaving aside the debated Ezra Memorial, Ezra-Nehemiah makes specific
                                      reference to historical figures that must constitute a kind of historical
                                      comment, however cautiously they be used. As Schurer's History of the
                                      Jewish
                                      People in the Age of Jesus Christ points out (III; 38-40) Elephantine
                                      references to the establishment of Passover at an imperial level are
                                      consistent
                                      with the biblical accounts of Nehemiah's mission. A Jewish settlement in
                                      the
                                      6th Cent BCE is mentioned in Jer. 44:1 and 46:13-14, from which literary
                                      text
                                      (Jer 44:1-23), also, we have the condemnation of "the Queen of Heaven",
                                      which appears to be a reference to a consort of Yhw. See also W. G. Dever
                                      Did
                                      God Have A Wife? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans: 2005). Nehemianic stories of
                                      Sanballat the Horonite and other local enemies of the land also make the
                                      point
                                      about a stricter Judaism founding itself in post-exilic Jerusalem,
                                      determined to be the norm in the midst of what may have been wide
                                      theological
                                      variations. All such references point to the same concept of normative,
                                      monotheistic Jerusalem and, while one may wish to be cautious in their
                                      application, their relevance as evidence seems undeniable.


                                      To ignore all biblical testimony, therefore, merely on grounds of
                                      uncertain
                                      dating, seems to be excessively dismissive. Besides, by what standard of
                                      logic do we deny the probity of biblical writers, while automatically
                                      ascribing the highest level of probity to non-biblical writers? We know of
                                      Elephantine what a writer in a highly-politicised climate told someone
                                      else. If
                                      one is going to be consistent one must maintain reserve about the
                                      reliability of non-biblical witnesses. All reconstructions are tentative,
                                      as the
                                      history of criticism reminds us.

                                      To favour one source, apparently uncritically and unreservedly, while
                                      excluding another one in the same way,
                                      risks prejudice in sources. One accepts the cautious argument, therefore,
                                      but one must reserve the right to cite biblical sources. And in those
                                      sources there appears a reason for a distance between the Jerusalemite and
                                      Elephantine perspectives that should not, be ignored, namely a centralist
                                      and
                                      monotheistic ideology in Jerusalem. By all means let that theory be
                                      tested,
                                      but let it not be shut out of possibility, merely because the sources are
                                      "literary". What does that mean, in real terms, when writing letters is a
                                      literary endeavour?

                                      Rejection of biblical testimony per se has little critical merit and risks
                                      seeming ideologically-driven, perhaps after the minimalism of the age. Gam
                                      zeh ya'avor. In the meantime, let us keep a level head on all sources.



                                      Bruce Gardner
                                      Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.








                                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                    • Niels Peter Lemche
                                      Dear Russell, Jerusalem is a most elusive place, It is never there when you need it the most. We have a series of letters from Jerusalem in the Amarna period,
                                      Message 18 of 18 , Oct 1, 2011
                                      • 0 Attachment
                                        Dear Russell,

                                        Jerusalem is a most elusive place, It is never there when you need it the most. We have a series of letters from Jerusalem in the Amarna period, but so far nothing that looks like a city has been found dating to the LB period. Then the 10th century BCE ? An area of conflict, and I stay with my Tell Aviv friends and Margreet Steiner saying that it is not there, in spite of the traditions said to belong to this century. Then we have the Persian period and early Hellenistic period which is now also getting into trouble.

                                        I have aired the possibility that it is not the city that is important but its religious tradition. There need not be a city in order that a kahan rab should be there. A temple would do fine even a sanctuary of some sort (think also of recent downdating of the second temple of Jerusalem to the second half of the 5th century [Edelman]).

                                        The place's religious prestige is difficult to doubt. It But there is a kind of cultural memory to the idea that David opened for the religious tradition by pkacing the ark of the Lord at Araunah's treashing ground and in the discussion in connection with the plans of building a temple, if this God really needs a temple.

                                        Te argument that not enough diggings have taken place in Jerusalem is rubbish although often heard. I suppose that it would be impossible to find another place on earth as extensively digged as Jerusalem (maybe Rome can compete). As to an administrative centre in the Persian Period, other candidates have been aired, such as Ramat Rahel.

                                        Niels Peter Lemche




                                        -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
                                        Fra: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] På vegne af RUSSELLGMIRKIN@...
                                        Sendt: den 1 oktober 2011 17:35
                                        Til: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                        Emne: Re: SV: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri


                                        In light of NPL's comments below, I will refrain from engaging in Bruce
                                        Gardener's comments on biblical historicity other to state that he
                                        misunderstands my position and that I welcome historical data from any literary
                                        source that has been subjected to proper historical criticism, which, I hasten
                                        to add, Dr. Gardner appears to attempt to perform.

                                        With respect to the archaeological debate on Jerusalem that NPL mentions in
                                        point 4 below, I would invoke the Elephantine Papyri no. 30 [Cowley],
                                        which is addressed to "Johanan the high priest and his colleagues the priests
                                        who are in Jerusalem" along with a body of "nobles" as contemporary evidence
                                        in 408 BCE of the importance of Jerusalem in religious matters and some of
                                        the social institutions present there. As an indisputably contemporary
                                        document, IMO this constitutes the best available evidence at present for
                                        Persian period Jerusalem (the archaeological remains remaining relatively mute
                                        at present date).

                                        Best regards,
                                        Russell Gmirkin




                                        Before I start: My forgot my glasses in my office in Copenhagen yesterday.
                                        It is an 80 miles drive! So if spelling etc is more compromised than usual,
                                        that's the reason.

                                        And to Gardner's mail:

                                        first, before we get to far from the subject, the Elephantine papyri: This
                                        list is not about biblical historicity.

                                        Second, the argument is wrong: It is nowhere to be proven that the
                                        mentioning of the names of Ezra and Nehemiah makes them historical. I could
                                        mention Tarzan without making him historical. Gilgamesh was probably in the hoary
                                        past a king from Lagash, but that will be the only historical part of the
                                        epic, etc etc.

                                        Third: Jeremias has nothing to say about Elephantine. a) can we date
                                        Jeremias? except from conventional beliefs that be belonged where he is said to
                                        belong? b) the context of Jer 44 and 46 is N.E Egypt. Migdol, as one of the
                                        place names mentioned there could be everywhere (meaning "tower"), the
                                        other names is about something in the eastern delta. How long is the distance
                                        from, say the present Suez canal to Elephantine?

                                        Fourth: The geography of Jerusalem in the Persian and Hellenistic periods
                                        is definitely a hot subject today. Some leading archaeologists like David
                                        Ussishkin would say that there was really nothing here before c. 200 BCE,
                                        making this discussion totally redundant

                                        Fifth: The post-exilic period is a concept, an ideological one, that comes
                                        from the Old Testament. We are investigating whether or not the concept is
                                        meaningful, as the Jewish society persisted in Iraq until 1951.

                                        Sixth: the term "Jew" in this connection is ideological and certainly not
                                        very precise. Which also means arguing that the Elephantine sociewty was
                                        Jewish is already presupposing something that is far from secure.

                                        Seventh: Bill Dever did not find out that Iron Age Yahweh of Juda/Samaria
                                        was a bachelor -- although he would be happy to be reckoned so. Here it
                                        would be more precise to quote the specialized literature by Tilde Binger,
                                        Paolo Merlo, Wiggins and more.

                                        But again, this is not the place to discuss the historicity of Ezra and
                                        Nehemiah. Such questions really belongs in biblical lists like Biblical
                                        studies. A remark like this "Rejection of biblical testimony per se has little
                                        critical merit and risks
                                        seeming ideologically-driven, perhaps after the minimalism of the age" has
                                        nothing to do here.

                                        Niels Peter Lemche




                                        -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
                                        Fra: _ANE-2@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com)
                                        [mailto:_ANE-2@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com) ] På vegne af
                                        _drbrucekgardner@..._ (mailto:drbrucekgardner@...)
                                        Sendt: den 1 oktober 2011 12:16
                                        Til: _ANE-2@yahoogroups.com_ (mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com)
                                        Emne: Re: [ANE-2] Elephantine Aramaic papyri


                                        Leaving aside the debated Ezra Memorial, Ezra-Nehemiah makes specific
                                        reference to historical figures that must constitute a kind of historical
                                        comment, however cautiously they be used. As Schurer's History of the
                                        Jewish
                                        People in the Age of Jesus Christ points out (III; 38-40) Elephantine
                                        references to the establishment of Passover at an imperial level are
                                        consistent
                                        with the biblical accounts of Nehemiah's mission. A Jewish settlement in
                                        the
                                        6th Cent BCE is mentioned in Jer. 44:1 and 46:13-14, from which literary
                                        text
                                        (Jer 44:1-23), also, we have the condemnation of "the Queen of Heaven",
                                        which appears to be a reference to a consort of Yhw. See also W. G. Dever
                                        Did
                                        God Have A Wife? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans: 2005). Nehemianic stories of
                                        Sanballat the Horonite and other local enemies of the land also make the
                                        point
                                        about a stricter Judaism founding itself in post-exilic Jerusalem,
                                        determined to be the norm in the midst of what may have been wide
                                        theological
                                        variations. All such references point to the same concept of normative,
                                        monotheistic Jerusalem and, while one may wish to be cautious in their
                                        application, their relevance as evidence seems undeniable.


                                        To ignore all biblical testimony, therefore, merely on grounds of
                                        uncertain
                                        dating, seems to be excessively dismissive. Besides, by what standard of
                                        logic do we deny the probity of biblical writers, while automatically
                                        ascribing the highest level of probity to non-biblical writers? We know of
                                        Elephantine what a writer in a highly-politicised climate told someone
                                        else. If
                                        one is going to be consistent one must maintain reserve about the
                                        reliability of non-biblical witnesses. All reconstructions are tentative,
                                        as the
                                        history of criticism reminds us.

                                        To favour one source, apparently uncritically and unreservedly, while
                                        excluding another one in the same way,
                                        risks prejudice in sources. One accepts the cautious argument, therefore,
                                        but one must reserve the right to cite biblical sources. And in those
                                        sources there appears a reason for a distance between the Jerusalemite and
                                        Elephantine perspectives that should not, be ignored, namely a centralist
                                        and
                                        monotheistic ideology in Jerusalem. By all means let that theory be
                                        tested,
                                        but let it not be shut out of possibility, merely because the sources are
                                        "literary". What does that mean, in real terms, when writing letters is a
                                        literary endeavour?

                                        Rejection of biblical testimony per se has little critical merit and risks
                                        seeming ideologically-driven, perhaps after the minimalism of the age. Gam
                                        zeh ya'avor. In the meantime, let us keep a level head on all sources.



                                        Bruce Gardner
                                        Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.








                                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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