Re: origin and meaning of the term Israel/South Arabian origin of Hebrew names
Ok, I'm awake now so to add to the following post:
I looked up falaha in Arabic and it means, among other things, to cultivate and
to prosper. In the case of the inscription, it could just as easily read: Wadd,
Prosperity or Cultivator, my God, my Father, Jah. Wadd's attribute would be
prosperity or good fortune. Wadd is another name for both Eloh and Yh. The verb
falaha means to cultivate and ilu and El were both known as sowers of the seed
as in Jezreel and iludharaa.
I would like to add another thought. The inscription could also read, Wadd, The Cultivator (as in the Fertile One or Sower of Seed), my God, my Father, The Living One. I think this makes more sense than the author's interpretation.
As for the snake glyph representing Yah or Hyy, this would explain Moses carrying the nachashtan on the Exodus. Yah was aniconic so Moses carried his name in a glyph (Hy means life and Hyh means snake-snake would represent the word life). The nachashtan was meant to be read as Hyy or Yah, so Moses' people were the followers of Yah. This symbol would also explain the rod turning into a snake which consumed the Egyptian snakes. Yah or Hyh, the symbol of the Hebrews, defeated and consumed the uraeus or the cobra headed crown of Egypt. The uraeus dates to the Old Kingdom which is consistent with the statment of the Quran that Moses lived under Khufu. As for the radiant hand, I think you can find an allusion to that symbol around the radiant head of the snake. It means the radiant Yah or Yah of glory.
Now as for other animal associations. El was associated with the bull. The glyph for the aleph in the name El is a bull's head. The illiterate Israelites had associated the bull glyph with an actual animal and began worshiping the animal in the form of a statue. Moses destroyed the image to destroy the association. Unfortunately, the snake symbol came to be worshipped in its iconic form too and had to be destroyed by Hezekiah. As for the ram symbol, I think it is a glyph also. Ayl is an ancient spelling for Awl in Arabiac and it means The First, The Important One, The Chief. In other words the Ram or Ayl/Awl is another name for Ilu/Yah.
As for the menorah and the burning bush, I agree with the association.The burning bush was probably Leptadenia pyrotechnica, a bush that catches fire when the twigs rub together. The Arabs used it to start their own fires. This bush is referred to as the green tree (shajara Akhdhar) in the Quran. Although the bush is not specifically mentioned in the Quran in association with Moses, it may have been the bush associated with the burning bush incident. The bush does contain nitric acid so it burns even when it is not on fire.
Ok, that end my research for now. I am really thinking about putting all the info I have gleaned relating to Biblical characters starting with Noah in one post. Maybe, I'll do it in outline form.
- Hi John,
sorry for the belated reply but I have been buried in finishing a chapter. As ever, I found your thoughts very stimulating (another reason for taking some time) and the following are some exploratory comments.
I like your distinction between lumpers and splitters, though suspect that we all have both traits operative at different times. So for example you displayed splitter tendencies when you baulked at my use of "Israelite" for the Iron I inhabitants of the hill country (even though the levels of cultural continuity between them and the Iron 1 inhabitants are considerably greater than with the LB ones), and also when in your list of influences having bearing on Israelite practice you omitted the Egyptians (even though there is a whole complex of textual and artefactual links between early Israel and NK Egypt). Likewise I show lumper tendencies in these particular cases.
At the end of the day, human enquiry proceeds along both lines at the same time - we seek lumpiness in order to make analogies and broad categories, and splitteriness when we try to tease out what is unique about a specific set of circumstances. Trying to lump or split everything gives rise to problems. In passing, this seems to have been one of the drawbacks of the longue duree approach, for all its valuable insights into things. It can, perhaps, tell us what _normally_ would be expected to happen, but fails to explain what _sporadically_ happens. The classic example here is the United Monarchy - longue duree gives great insight into why it was doomed to failure (irrespective of the immediate trigger events), but is unable to address why it happened in the first place (Finkelstein said something rather similar a few years ago).
But back to your post... you said "... Hess (of whom I feel we both have immense respect)" - very true, but his areas of expertise are in textual analysis and religious studies, and he does not often write on straight archaeology. I suspect many of your quotes come from the "Israelite religions" book you mentioned a few days ago, where he is on strong ground, but I'd recommend referencing others as well for a current perspective on Iron I archaeology. Coincidentally I just received a book of which he is one of the editors, "Critical Issues in Early Israelite History", with a whole batch of articles covering the subject from quite different angles. That's the kind of integrative approach ("lumpiness"?) I very much enjoy. Amongst the authors (which include Hess himself talking about "The Jericho and Ai of the Book of Joshua") is Hasel, with yet another in his long-running series on the Israel Stele. I'll let you know how the book turns out... But to summarise that rambling paragraph, Hess has a lot of insights, but he is only one person with specific skills, and I prefer to take in a spectrum of scholarly positions on the matter.
You said "I wonder if we are not arguing over the terms "ethnically distinguishable"", which is of course possible. Part of the problem is that it is hard to pin down. Sometimes people write as though racial origins were the key issue, but clearly not (as you will know from your anthropology background). Others as though religious belief defined it, but as we know religion can unite two people of otherwise radically different ethnicity, and it can divide two who are otherwise very similar.
A lot of the modern authors applying these concepts into the hill country affirm that an item is not usually chosen as an ethnic identifier at its point of inception or invention, but (typically) at some later date when it is perceived to be a clear distinguishing feature between "them" and "us". So the fact that the "four room house...collared rim pithos...plaster-lined cistern..terraces" are found earlier is a completely separate issue from whether the Israelites took them up and made them into ethnic signals (either within their own culture, ie "yes, I'm an Israelite too", or to outsiders, ie "we're Israelites together and we live like this"). Yes, all those items (with the possible exception of the four-room house, about which there is disagreement) can be found earlier... but not in anything like the same quantities and density as in Iron I (and in some cases Iron II), nor with such definiteness marking out a perimeter to the settlement area. Their invention may well not have been Israelite... but their adoption and somewhat aggressive use as a signal is.
Hess's summary of the various theories mirrors what most folk are saying nowadays - with the exception of the "revolting peasant" theory which is seriously out of favour for several reasons nowadays (not all good reasons - some people reject it simply because it sounds like it has Marxist overtones), an integrative approach where different groups that ended up making Israel had different background stories is definitely in favour. He is in agreement with most people (including me, when I did some work on population figures a while ago) that the numeric growth in the Iron I hill country is far too great to be explained by resedentarisation, or by normal reproduction. Someone arrived from somewhere, and the general trend of settlement is east-to-west, suggesting that at least their immediate origin was transJordan. You mention (from Hess) the accounts of Rahab and the Gibeonites joining Israel: there are also explicit statements of intermarriage during the Judges period, and it is clear that the Israelite reaction to the Canaanites was diverse and complex.
You mention linguistic evidence (paragraph left in below). I agree, this is most important. Personally (perhaps a splittery tendency) I think you need to put in some more stages - the Hebrew of the Bible has three main strata, not counting the Aramaic of Daniel and a few places elsewhere. There is an archaic level (hence my objection to your use of the word "archaic" for all of it) which remains only in a few poems such as Ex 15. Then a classical level, which predominates. Then a post-exilic level, which dominates in the obvious books like Chronicles, Ezra etc. The three levels are pretty recognisable, though clearly in a few places they are intertwined.
You say "Israel is basically Canaanite", apparently basing this on linguistic grounds which I feel is a little hazardous. Agreed that the Hebrew language is very like what we know of Canaanite. Agreed that Israelite religion owed a great debt to what we know of Canaanite religion. But beyond that? The available archaeological evidence suggests that as measured by other lifestyle markers there were considerable distinctions - such as the pottery decoration, burial customs, religious and domestic architecture etc. Since the Israelites, for better or worse, came out on top, the Canaanite ways of life were largely assimilated or disappeared, and looking into Iron II is not a good place to understand the Canaanites. If we go this late, it would be more appropriate to say that "Canaan had been made basically Israelite". It's only from the earlier periods we get much sense of how Canaanite culture might have been.
Must finish there, as ever I shall be most interested to hear what you have to say and go on exploring the matter,
Yours as always,
--- In AncientBibleHistory@yahoogroups.com, "jdcroft" <jdcroft@...> wrote:
> Dear Richard
> I feel that we can use linguistic evidence here. Hebrew is a West Semitic language, closely related to Canaanite. The difference is that there is early evidence of some Aramaean substrata from an early period. This Aramaean influuence grew duuring the historical period so that by the first century BCE Aramaean had totally displaced archaic Hebrew which became the classical liturgical language. This would suggest that Israel is basically Canaanite, with an Aramaean (nomadic?) influx adding as a "leavening" to the Canaanite influence. In this way it is similar to a continuum from Philistine coastal cities, a Canaanite coastal plain, fading to Trans-Jordanian and Syrian Aramaeans. I further posit that there is a gradual gradient along this line with Philistine influence extending really not much further than the plain (though with attempts to control the hill country militarily), Canaanite influence extending (and eventually predominating) in Philistine cities, but also extending into the hill country and later into the Aramaean states to a lesser degree (Moab, Ammon and Aram), and Aramaean influence extending westwards into the Hill Country, but predominating east of the Beqa Valley and the Jordan.