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Re: [ANE-2] Re: Proof of Samson and the lion

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  • 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 1 of 22 , Aug 1, 2012
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      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 2 of 22 , Aug 1, 2012
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        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 3 of 22 , Aug 3, 2012
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          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]
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