Re: [ANE-2] Berossus and Genesis items of interest
- To Russel:
I read a list of topics discussed in your book. I found this:
"c. 833 BCE after the fall of Tarsus ("Tarshish") to Shalmaneser III"
I had read other scholars suggest that Tarshish was likely in Spain (Tartessus). The word Tarshish was used once in Genesis. Ezekiel gave one of the more lengthy descriptions of Tarshish.
Ezekiel 27 ( a description of the dealings of Tyre)
"Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kinds of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded for thy wares."
Diodorus described the silver mines of Spain as being the richest in the world. Currently the richest tin mines in Europe were in Portugul with some deposits in Western Spain also. The Phoenicians may have established settlements on the Spanish coast as early as 800 BC.
The Nora stone was found on the island of Sardinia, and mentioned Tarshish. Tarsis or Tarshish may have been from a root word meaning metal refining town. There might have been several towns or regions by that name.
Ezekiel was born in Israel and was deported to Babylon, he was supposed to a have been buried at Kefil, Iraq where a temple commemorating his burial exists.
If the Penteteuch contained words that some thought could be traced to the Hellenistic times, is it likely that they may have found traces of a Hellenistic edition of a work rather than the earlier writings from which the later revision was made? Some thought there was a Persian era form in the word Goshen used in Exodus.
David Q. Hall
Now that Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories
and the Date of the Pentateuch (New York-London: T & T Hastings, 2006) is
readily available at libraries and the internet, I would like to highlight a few
side topics discussed that may be of particular interest to ANE-2 participants.
* The Elephantine Papyri are discussed at pp. 28-33 in conjunction with
archaeological/inscriptional evidence weighing against the Documentary Hypothesis.
* Cuneiform sources translated / paraphrased in Berossus are discussed in
pp. 98-139 passim. The likely use of the Poem of Erra (based on indirect
evidence from Pseudo-Eupolemus) may interest some.
* Arguments for dating the Poem of Erra to c. 670 BCE are briefly discussed
at p. 133 and note 312.
* Manetho's stories (as found in Josephus) regarding the expulsion of
foreigners into Syria are subjected to source criticism and found to rely wholly on
native Egyptian traditions and Hecataeus of Abdera's Aegyptiaca. Of
particular interest is the demonstration at pp. 194-213 that the story of Osarseph
and the polluted Egyptians polemicized against the Ramesside revival of the
cult of Seth-Typhon at Avaris (not against the Jewish Exodus story as commonly
* The two stage construction of the Nile-to-Red-Sea canal under Ptolemy II
Philadelphus in 280/279 BCE (from Pithom to the sea) and 274-269 BCE (from the
Nile to Pithom) will be of interest to students of the Pithom Stele and/or
the First Syrian War (pp 236-237).
* Appendix E (pp. 271-276) argues that the Nora Inscription, an important
early Phoenician text from the west Mediterranean island of Nora, was written in
c. 833 BCE after the fall of Tarsus ("Tarshish") to Shalmaneser III.
* Appendix F (pp. 277-296) discusses the history of anti-Semitic slanders
equating Yahweh with the Egyptian anti-god Seth-Typhon. One notable conclusion
is that the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV in 167 BCE was a
transplant of traditional anti-Typhonian slanders and repressive measures from Egypt
in the wake of Antiochus IV's brief enthronement as Pharaoh and the posting
of former Ptolemaic governors and troops in Judea.
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You very competently summarize the traditional arguments favoring an
identification of the biblical Tarshish with Tartessos, the Phoenician outpost at Gades (modern Cadiz) in Spain. In the discussion of Tarshish at pp 150-152 in my chapter on the Table of Nations - which argues that the division into Shem, Ham and Japhet corresponds remarkably well to the political boundaries of the Seleucids, Ptolemies, and independent states in c. 273-272 BCE - I also make note of these same facts and a few others such as references to the mineral wealth of Tartessos in Pliny and Herodotus. Unfortunately, archaeological evidence for Phoenician presence at Tartessos begins no earlier than 770-760
BCE, which is a little late to accommodate the Nora Inscription, which is dated to the ninth century BCE on paleographical grounds.
Note that Ezek. 27:12-15 associates Tarsus with other Anatolian toponyms and that the Cilician mountains above Tarsus were an important ancient source for silver, iron and tin (and are indeed referred to in Assyrian records as the "Mountains of Silver"). Tarsus has thus been considered another important candidate for the biblical Tarshish.
The Nora Inscription translates approximately as follows:
From Tarshish he was driven!
In Sardinia he found refuge.
His forces found refuge.
Milkuton, son of Subon,
the previous commander.
Previous discussions have universally assumed without argumentation that Tarshish was a western Mediterranean location, Tartessos being the most common suggestion. Cross assumes that the "battle of Tarshish" was part of Phoenician measures to "pacify the native tribes and to protect mining interests." But there is nothing in the text to place Tarshish in the west, and both literary and archaeological evidence indicate that Phoenician trade in the west was conducted peacefully until the Carthaginians attempted to enforce a trade monopoly around 600 BCE after the fall of Nineveh, at which point the Phoecaeans, e.g., were forced to conduct trade in warships. This suggests that the Tarshish of the Nora Inscription was instead the Phoenician point of origin in the east. There are other examples in antiquity of western colonies having begun with a flight by ship from military troubles in the east. The fall of
Tarsus to Shalmaneser III in 833 BCE as part of his subjection of Que (Cilicia) is documented in Assyrian records (and indeed constitutes the first inscriptional mention of Tarsus) and falls squarely within the period assigned the Nora Inscription by paleographers. Phoenician presence at Tarsus is amply
demonstrated archaeologically. IMO these considerations settle the issue in favor of identifying Tarshish with Tarsus, which is also consistent with the geographical parameters of the Table of Nations.
As you note, the toponym Goshen appears to date no earlier than the Persian period. The LXX renders "the land of Goshen" by "the land of Gesham" or "the land of Gesham of Arabia," reflecting the dynastic name of the Qedarite rulers whose presence in eastern Egypt began as a result of the Persian conquest. Qainu the son of Gesham is famously mentioned in a Persian Era inscription from an Arab garrison at Tell el-Mashkuta in the Wadi Tumillat (which is
universally identified with Goshen). In my Chapter 10 discussion of toponyms associated with the Route of the Exodus, I also point out that Pihahiroth appears in the early Ptolemaic era Pithom Stele, and that Migdol and Baalzephon first appear (as adjacent fortresses) in a Ptolemaic era geographical text(Cairo Demotic Papyrus no. 31169).
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