Exodus, Philistines, contra Bimson & Drews
Ian Charles Hutchesson
MC2499 at mclink.it
Thu Feb 3 06:33:02 EST 2000
You are facing the common problem found when attempting to deal with biblical matters in a coherent manner. People deny evidence for reasons that only seem to be related to a belief in the special position of the literature in the bible. The bible isn't wrong, therefore the other information must be wrong. Then follows all sorts of rationalisations.
The Philistines are not really a part of that wave of people who came in such force that they brought down Hatti, Cyprus, Kode, Karkemish and took lower Palestine from the Egyptians, so this rationalisation goes. No, let's make them something more manageable. They were a slim minority who became the ruling elite on the Palestine coast and really spoke a Semitic language, notwithstanding the fact that the few examples of Philistine writing is similar to Linear A which was found in Crete, where Hebrew tradition locates the Philistine origin, ie Kaftor. Why do these Semitic speaking Philistines introduce Greek pottery forms into local Palestinian production of pottery -- rather than using the local forms? Why do they introduce non-Semitic burial customs?
The problem is made more complex for we know that, while there were diverse groups involved in this dynamic movement from western Anatolia and the Aegean around to the Levant, the bible is only conscious of one, the Philistines, though we have Egyptian records of another group of the sea peoples in Palestine as well centred on the city of Dor where in fact there are Greek harbour works. These people, the Tjekker (as you note), were also mentioned in Ramses III's account of the struggle with the sea peoples. So, not only were there Philistines, but also Tjekker and probably others who have unfortunately left no historical traces. But because the bible only mentions the Philistines we may ignore the Tjekker as they are not our problem, isolate the Philistines from them and then claim that the Philistines were not part of the sea peoples. Bimson ignores the Tjekker. Drews probably ignores them as well. They are merely an inconvenience.
One should note other inconveniences while we are here. We have documented primary evidence that other groups of sea peoples actually were used by the Egyptians as mercenaries. The Sherden, for example are depicted a few generations earlier as Egyptian mercenaries. The Philistines use a form of pottery sarcofagus known from Egypt. Where did the Philistines get their Egyptian style pottery sarcofagus without having been exposed to the Egyptian culture that used them? Another group of sea people were involved with the Libyans during the time of Merneptah -- again primary documentation. The Egyptians clearly had a lot of experience of the sea peoples since the time when they first had relations with the Aegean. The Peleset, found in Hebrew in two forms (the other being Perizzites -- supposedly to do with villages, but there's no root to support the notion), are depicted on the walls of Madinat Habu in a similar manner to the other sea peoples, ie in Aegean dress with Aegean weapo!
ns. Nevertheless, people want the Philistines to be Semitic, so they either deny that the Peleset were the Philistines or they redefine the Philistines to suit their purposes.
The approach is well documented: deny, or subvert the data.
(It's not important that Trude Dothan is someone who actually has specialised in the study of Philistine archaeology, published *the* reference on Philistine archaeology and can truly be said to be one of the few experts in the field.)
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