Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Proof of Samson and the lion

Expand Messages
  • Graham Hagens
    ________________________________ From: Yigal Levin To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 3:49 PM Subject: RE: [ANE-2]
    Message 1 of 22 , Jul 31, 2012
    • 0 Attachment
      ________________________________
      From: Yigal Levin <yigal.levin@...>
      To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 3:49 PM
      Subject: RE: [ANE-2] Re: Proof of Samson and the lion


        ... the area in which he grew up, Beth Shemesh, is coincidental, why is the city
      itself never mentioned in the story. Samson wanders between Zorah, Eshtaol,
      Timnah, the Sorek Valley and so on, all right around the city, but
      Beth-Shemesh itself in never mentioned. Even stranger than the non-mention
      of Sepphoris in the Gospels. 
       
       
      why are either strange?
      why publicise a Shamash centre in a Yahwist tradition? Or mention a Roman economic hub at a time when the focus of the Judean church involved Jewish proselytization?
       
      Graham Hagens
      Hamilton
      .



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Yitzhak Sapir
      ... Hello Raz, Reading your message, I get the feeling that you see my position as slightly different than it really is. I do not see Samson as a historical
      Message 2 of 22 , Aug 1 5:22 AM
      • 0 Attachment
        On Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 3:25 PM, Raz Kletter wrote:
        > Dear Itzhak,
        > I think the facts are not in dispute, namely: lions existed throughout
        > the Bronze and Iron Ages (and later) and cannot date the Samson story;
        > people are familiar with their region in every period (so familiarity again
        > offers no date); also people from nearby regions could be familiar with the
        > Shephelah; this seal is not exceptional; there are various traditions in
        > place and time about human-lion encounters, and teh seal shows nothing
        > specific to the Samson legend.
        > I do not see how this unepigraphic seal proves literacy; and how it
        > "locates Samson".
        > You asked (perhaps a rethorical question) what type of evidence would
        > be needed to "locate" Samson. My answer: the same type that would convince
        > you about a specific "location" for Gilgamesh or Heracles.
        > In other owrds, suppose that this seal would have been found in a
        > Mycenaean level at Troy, would you accept it as definite "proof" for
        > Heracles and the Manean lion?
        > Raz Kletter
        > University of Helsinki

        Hello Raz,

        Reading your message, I get the feeling that you see my position as slightly
        different than it really is. I do not see Samson as a historical
        figure -- in fact,
        I said quite clearly that I see him as an eponym of Beth Shemesh, representing
        the city state or its king or the god that was presumably worshipped
        there. Also
        I do not see this seal as "'definite' proof for Samson" (or its
        legend). And while
        there are a few other seals showing men with lions in IA I, they all
        wield weapons
        whereas this does not.

        Just because there are various traditions about lion and men encounters in
        ancient times does not mean that Beth Shemesh had such a local tradition. I
        mean, why Beth Shemesh and not Megiddo? I could not make an argument
        for the antiquity of the Samson legend based on the general remark that there
        are various traditions in time and place about lion-men encounters.

        I agree that people are familiar with their regions, but they are not
        familiar with
        their regions in every period. This is true even today when we have much better
        documentation. A hellenistic author may have known that there was a place
        called Beth Shemesh which was destroyed by Assyria or he may have not. Maybe
        he knew Timnah survived longer and maybe he wouldn't care. To restate Yigal
        Levin's question, if the author (Hellenistic or otherwise) did know
        that there was a
        city called Beth Shemesh in the area in the Judges period, why didn't
        he mention it?

        While the seal may be unepigraphic, but the seal's function would have been used
        to stamp letters, especially as Beth Shemesh is one of the few places
        for which we
        have inscribed material from Iron Age I. But I agree that it does not
        say much in
        itself and bullae would have been much better.

        As for your very interesting Nimean analogy, I didn't think of it this
        way but now that
        you bring it up, it is a very nice one. First, I want to point out
        that I did not say this
        was "definite proof for Samson and the lion." Nevertheless, the Nemean lion is
        described in Hesiod's Theogony, traditionally dated to c. 700 BCE but the first
        witness appears to be a small papyrus labeled Rylands N54 which is from the 1st
        cent BCE-1st cent CE. Other witnesses are even later. Now, the Nemean lion
        served as background to explain the Nemean games which began in 573 BCE.
        This brings up a question: Even if the Theogony is to be dated to 700
        BCE, did it
        really mention the Nemean lion?

        You mention Troy, but I have something even better from the excavators of Nemea:

        "The only archaeological evidence of the myth discovered at Nemea consists
        of small bronze lions head attachments and a gold foil relief representation of
        Herakles' face with the lions skin tied under his chin (BR 1040 and GJ
        26; ...).
        The paucity of evidence is not surprising, however, for the connection between
        Herakles' victory over the lion and the founding of the Nemean Games was not
        mentioned in ancient literature until the 1st century after Christ."
        Miller, Stephen G., editor Nemea: A Guide to the Site and Museum. Berkeley:
        University of California Press, c1990, p. 25 - http://bit.ly/Q9H8tY

        Both mentioned artifacts are apparently found in c. 5th-6th CE
        disturbances of much
        earlier layers. We also find that the association of the Nemean lion
        and the foundation
        of the games is quite late, and this might be used to suggest that the
        legend about the
        Nemean lion itself is quite late. Yet, the point is not the dating
        but the terminology.
        A small bronze lions head is called by the excavators "archaeological
        evidence of the
        myth."

        Yitzhak Sapir
        Rosh Haayin, Israel
      • Raz Kletter
        Thanks Iztick, I am not trying to portray wrongly, I am just not sure where you are heading. If you want to make an argument about the antiquity of the Samson
        Message 3 of 22 , Aug 1 11:11 AM
        • 0 Attachment
          Thanks Iztick,
          I am not trying to portray wrongly, I am just not sure where you are
          heading. If you want to make an argument about the antiquity of the Samson
          legend, I doubt that this seal helps much, and I think it deserves healthy
          skepticism, like the Nemean myth.
          Mind that the lion-head you mentioned is late; the excavator did not
          try to push back a myth hundred of years earlier than its documentation,
          based on one find. Actually, he suggested that Nemea was related to a
          different origin-myth, while the lion-Heracles myth was associated with it
          very late.
          The Beth Shemesh seal alone does not prove literacy, as it could be an
          amulet, or used to mark ownership eg for pottery vessels. So a bullae of it
          would not be "better", unless if you can show that it was attached to
          writing material.
          What I meant about familiarity: it existed in all the periods we have
          mentioned; in each people could create such legend. Plus such legend could
          be transmitted with changes between periods, so "familiary" is not good for
          dating.
          Most of all, if one first reads this seal as "Samson related" (whether
          legend or flesh and blood), because of a wish to date Samson/Judges
          early; and then uses the same seal to interpret the Samson stories, we are
          in a circle.
          Eg Samson as eponym, king, or god of Beth Shemesh is assumed from the
          seal, since it was found at Beth Shemesh. But (if I recall right) biblical
          Samson came from Zor'ah? He was a hero, never mentioned in any context that
          can be seen as King/God/"Eponym".
          Best,
          Raz Kletter
          Helsinki university


          2012/8/1 Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir@...>

          > **
          >
          >
          > On Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 3:25 PM, Raz Kletter wrote:
          > > Dear Itzhak,
          > > I think the facts are not in dispute, namely: lions existed throughout
          > > the Bronze and Iron Ages (and later) and cannot date the Samson story;
          > > people are familiar with their region in every period (so familiarity
          > again
          > > offers no date); also people from nearby regions could be familiar with
          > the
          > > Shephelah; this seal is not exceptional; there are various traditions in
          > > place and time about human-lion encounters, and teh seal shows nothing
          > > specific to the Samson legend.
          > > I do not see how this unepigraphic seal proves literacy; and how it
          > > "locates Samson".
          > > You asked (perhaps a rethorical question) what type of evidence would
          > > be needed to "locate" Samson. My answer: the same type that would
          > convince
          > > you about a specific "location" for Gilgamesh or Heracles.
          > > In other owrds, suppose that this seal would have been found in a
          > > Mycenaean level at Troy, would you accept it as definite "proof" for
          > > Heracles and the Manean lion?
          > > Raz Kletter
          > > University of Helsinki
          >
          > Hello Raz,
          >
          > Reading your message, I get the feeling that you see my position as
          > slightly
          > different than it really is. I do not see Samson as a historical
          > figure -- in fact,
          > I said quite clearly that I see him as an eponym of Beth Shemesh,
          > representing
          > the city state or its king or the god that was presumably worshipped
          > there. Also
          > I do not see this seal as "'definite' proof for Samson" (or its
          > legend). And while
          > there are a few other seals showing men with lions in IA I, they all
          > wield weapons
          > whereas this does not.
          >
          > Just because there are various traditions about lion and men encounters in
          > ancient times does not mean that Beth Shemesh had such a local tradition. I
          > mean, why Beth Shemesh and not Megiddo? I could not make an argument
          > for the antiquity of the Samson legend based on the general remark that
          > there
          > are various traditions in time and place about lion-men encounters.
          >
          > I agree that people are familiar with their regions, but they are not
          > familiar with
          > their regions in every period. This is true even today when we have much
          > better
          > documentation. A hellenistic author may have known that there was a place
          > called Beth Shemesh which was destroyed by Assyria or he may have not.
          > Maybe
          > he knew Timnah survived longer and maybe he wouldn't care. To restate Yigal
          > Levin's question, if the author (Hellenistic or otherwise) did know
          > that there was a
          > city called Beth Shemesh in the area in the Judges period, why didn't
          > he mention it?
          >
          > While the seal may be unepigraphic, but the seal's function would have
          > been used
          > to stamp letters, especially as Beth Shemesh is one of the few places
          > for which we
          > have inscribed material from Iron Age I. But I agree that it does not
          > say much in
          > itself and bullae would have been much better.
          >
          > As for your very interesting Nimean analogy, I didn't think of it this
          > way but now that
          > you bring it up, it is a very nice one. First, I want to point out
          > that I did not say this
          > was "definite proof for Samson and the lion." Nevertheless, the Nemean
          > lion is
          > described in Hesiod's Theogony, traditionally dated to c. 700 BCE but the
          > first
          > witness appears to be a small papyrus labeled Rylands N54 which is from
          > the 1st
          > cent BCE-1st cent CE. Other witnesses are even later. Now, the Nemean lion
          > served as background to explain the Nemean games which began in 573 BCE.
          > This brings up a question: Even if the Theogony is to be dated to 700
          > BCE, did it
          > really mention the Nemean lion?
          >
          > You mention Troy, but I have something even better from the excavators of
          > Nemea:
          >
          > "The only archaeological evidence of the myth discovered at Nemea consists
          > of small bronze lions head attachments and a gold foil relief
          > representation of
          > Herakles' face with the lions skin tied under his chin (BR 1040 and GJ
          > 26; ...).
          > The paucity of evidence is not surprising, however, for the connection
          > between
          > Herakles' victory over the lion and the founding of the Nemean Games was
          > not
          > mentioned in ancient literature until the 1st century after Christ."
          > Miller, Stephen G., editor Nemea: A Guide to the Site and Museum. Berkeley:
          > University of California Press, c1990, p. 25 - http://bit.ly/Q9H8tY
          >
          > Both mentioned artifacts are apparently found in c. 5th-6th CE
          > disturbances of much
          > earlier layers. We also find that the association of the Nemean lion
          > and the foundation
          > of the games is quite late, and this might be used to suggest that the
          > legend about the
          > Nemean lion itself is quite late. Yet, the point is not the dating
          > but the terminology.
          > A small bronze lions head is called by the excavators "archaeological
          > evidence of the
          > myth."
          >
          > Yitzhak Sapir
          > Rosh Haayin, Israel
          >
          >


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Yigal Levin
          Because, Graham, the same Yahwistic tradition in 1 Sam. 6 assumes Beth-Shemesh to be an Israelite city with Levites residing in it, just as Josh. 21 says it
          Message 4 of 22 , Aug 1 11:18 AM
          • 0 Attachment
            Because, Graham, the same Yahwistic tradition in 1 Sam. 6 assumes
            Beth-Shemesh to be an Israelite city with Levites residing in it, just as
            Josh. 21 says it is. And if the Yahwistic author was so concerned about
            Beth-Shemesh having been a center of Shamash worship, why ever mention it at
            all? And why name his character "Samson", which so clearly points to
            "Shamashism"? I don't think that that's the whole story. By the way, while
            Gaza, Ashkelon and Ashdod are mentioned in the Samson stories, the two major
            Philistine centers that are closest to Samson's home territory, Ekron and
            Gath, are also not mentioned.



            Another BTW; besides its name, which is recorded only in the Bible, there is
            absolutely no evidence that Beth Shemesh was specifically a center of
            Shamash worship. None of the handful of Late Bronze or Iron Age inscriptions
            found there hint at a Shamash cult, nor does anything else found at the site
            (so far: I recently read that some sort of cult room or "temple" from the
            Iron I was found there, but saw no mention of anything that looked like a
            Sun cult).



            Best,



            Yigal Levin



            Bar-Ilan University



            From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
            Graham Hagens
            Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2012 3:43 AM
            To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [ANE-2] Re: Proof of Samson and the lion







            ________________________________
            From: Yigal Levin <yigal.levin@... <mailto:yigal.levin%40biu.ac.il> >
            To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 3:49 PM
            Subject: RE: [ANE-2] Re: Proof of Samson and the lion

            ... the area in which he grew up, Beth Shemesh, is coincidental, why is
            the city
            itself never mentioned in the story. Samson wanders between Zorah, Eshtaol,
            Timnah, the Sorek Valley and so on, all right around the city, but
            Beth-Shemesh itself in never mentioned. Even stranger than the non-mention
            of Sepphoris in the Gospels.


            why are either strange?
            why publicise a Shamash centre in a Yahwist tradition? Or mention a Roman
            economic hub at a time when the focus of the Judean church involved Jewish
            proselytization?

            Graham Hagens
            Hamilton
            .

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





            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Graham Hagens
            Dear Yigal   You seem to assume the existence of a single Yahwistic tradition   The Samson passage is a version of universal story of a talented young
            Message 5 of 22 , Aug 3 9:37 AM
            • 0 Attachment
              Dear Yigal
               
              You seem to assume the existence of a single Yahwistic tradition
               
              The Samson passage is a version of universal story of a talented young man led astray by a pretty girl
               
              No one knows how old this story was when the Yahwists absorbed it into their complex weave of pseudo-historical morality tales.
               
              Because of the Samson/Shemesh/Shamash similarities it is possible to imagine the existence of an early Shamash cult at Beth Shemesh  at one time linked to an earlier  Samson story, which was later Yahwised and tranposed to a Philistine context.
               
              Unprovable of course, but that's beside the point, as is the absence of evidence of such a Shamash cult.
               
              If  a reasonable explanation for any event can be conjectured, then that event need no longer to be thought of as surprising
               
              Graham Hagens
              Hamilton, Ontario
               
               


              ________________________________
              From: Yigal Levin <yigal.levin@...>
              To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 2:18 PM
              Subject: RE: [ANE-2] Re: Proof of Samson and the lion


               
              Because, Graham, the same Yahwistic tradition in 1 Sam. 6 assumes
              Beth-Shemesh to be an Israelite city with Levites residing in it, just as
              Josh. 21 says it is. And if the Yahwistic author was so concerned about
              Beth-Shemesh having been a center of Shamash worship, why ever mention it at
              all? And why name his character "Samson", which so clearly points to
              "Shamashism"? I don't think that that's the whole story. By the way, while
              Gaza, Ashkelon and Ashdod are mentioned in the Samson stories, the two major
              Philistine centers that are closest to Samson's home territory, Ekron and
              Gath, are also not mentioned.

              Another BTW; besides its name, which is recorded only in the Bible, there is
              absolutely no evidence that Beth Shemesh was specifically a center of
              Shamash worship. None of the handful of Late Bronze or Iron Age inscriptions
              found there hint at a Shamash cult, nor does anything else found at the site
              (so far: I recently read that some sort of cult room or "temple" from the
              Iron I was found there, but saw no mention of anything that looked like a
              Sun cult).

              Best,

              Yigal Levin

              Bar-Ilan University

              From: mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com [mailto:mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
              Graham Hagens
              Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2012 3:43 AM
              To: mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [ANE-2] Re: Proof of Samson and the lion

              ________________________________
              From: Yigal Levin <mailto:yigal.levin%40biu.ac.il <mailto:yigal.levin%40biu.ac.il> >
              To: mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com <mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 3:49 PM
              Subject: RE: [ANE-2] Re: Proof of Samson and the lion

              ... the area in which he grew up, Beth Shemesh, is coincidental, why is
              the city
              itself never mentioned in the story. Samson wanders between Zorah, Eshtaol,
              Timnah, the Sorek Valley and so on, all right around the city, but
              Beth-Shemesh itself in never mentioned. Even stranger than the non-mention
              of Sepphoris in the Gospels.


              why are either strange?
              why publicise a Shamash centre in a Yahwist tradition? Or mention a Roman
              economic hub at a time when the focus of the Judean church involved Jewish
              proselytization?

              Graham Hagens
              Hamilton
              .

              [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]
            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.