[b-hebrew] The Priestly Stratum (Liz)
Lisbeth S. Fried
lizfried at umich.edu
Thu Feb 27 21:33:10 EST 2003
> > > > I disagree that the people of pre-Exilic Judah were
> > > > polytheistic. I don't know that the figurines represented
> > > > Ashera or that they were worshipped.
> > >
> > > If they weren't cultic figurines like all
> > > the others, what were they?
> > All what others??
> All the other cultic figurines found in the
> ANE. And isn't the basic representation of a
> woman or goddess holding her breasts the same
> image that you find in many other figurines
I don't know, I haven't studied them elsewhere.
> > Where were these found?? Were they found in any cultic setting?
> > I surveyed every Iron II cult setting between Megiddo and Beersheva,
> > plus the cult site at Tel Dan. I did not find one reference to these
> > pillar figurines. They are found in domestic contexts only and in
> > Persian period favissae.
> I would expect that worship of Ashera would
> principally be done by women at home, so one
> would expect the figurines in "domestic
> contexts" or in the grave.
You can expect that, if you want, but it doesn't demonstrate a *cultic*
it demonstrates a domestic use. So, how are you going to demonstrate a
use if there are no other cultic indicators around them?
> And I would have thought that favissae were
> dead give-aways for cultic activity. Are
> there any favissae that were not attached
> to cultic activity?
These favissae are buried trenches which contain both domestic
and cultic paraphernalia. They are primarily from the Persian period.
They are not associated with a cult site either, to my recollection.
> > > > I don't know who
> > > > wrote the grafitti on the Kuntillit Adjrud pithoi.
> > >
> > > Or the Khirbet el-Qom inscription or at Deir
> > > el'Alla (with its shadayin gods),
> > Neither of these sites is in Judah.
> This is interestingly territorial.
> Mark Smith says that el-Qom is "in the
> heartland of Judah", Early History of God,
OK, You are correct! I am wrong. I was not aware of Khirbet el Qom
It is indeed in the heartland of Judah. I did not discuss this site,
and it was not brought to my attention, probably because these
are tomb inscriptions and it is not a cult site, there is no cultic
material. I should have discussed it tho.
> Are names like Uriyahu and Oniyahu of no
YHWH is my light?
> And isn't Deir `Alla closer to Jerusalem
> than Arad is?
But it was still Edomite, and Arad was Judaean.
> > > but then the
> > > archaeological record says that the inhabitants
> > > of the area were polytheistic
> > What archaeological record???
> The one that provides only polytheistic
> indications from the pre-exilic period
> such as those figurines, the two altars
> at Arad (if not the two pillars), the
> artificial mound, bamah, at Malhah
> > > Who worshipped at the bamah just outside
> > > Jerusalem at Malhah (which is now a part
> > > southern suburbs)? (See de Vaux, Ancient
> > > Israel, p285.)
> > I looked up the reference you give. He gives
> > no footnote, I don't know what is referred to here.
> See p539 for his sources on high places.
Perhaps he's talking about the tumuli, they are
strange things, but also not cult places, i.e., no
cultic material found in them, and no figurines, no sacrificial altars,
no incense altars, no matsevah, nothing.
> > I looked up Malhah in the NEAEHL and found
> > nothing, I looked up Jerusalem and found nothing
> > there either. De Vaux seems to be speaking of
> > a barren hill. If so, it's hard to make anything of it.
> "artificial mounds... one... is made of
> earth and stones held in position by a
> polygonal wall: a flight of man-made
> steps. The pottery associated with this
> level belongs to the 7th & 6th c."
Yes, the tumuli then. No evidence of cultic activity, tho
there is evidence of eating. I suggested they were covenant-witness
heaps: Gen. 31:46. "Jacob said to his kinsmen gather stones, so they
took stones and made a heap, and they ate there on the heap."
Pretty weird, huh?
> > I find it amusing that people who spend so much
> > effort to discredit the biblical text, who debate the
> > existence of Solomon and David yet are so willing to
> > take the prophets' word for it that the Jews worshipped
> > other gods.
> (You're making veiled personal attacks,
> as yours is a response to me. That's not
No, not you alone, actually, everyone under the sun.
> You talk of someone's "discredit[ing] the
> biblical text", but I would think this is
> only possible if you have given it some
> credit -- which may not be appropriate in
> what you are crediting. I take your words
> as accepting the historical veracity of
> the biblical traditions. On what grounds?
I accept that every people had a king list, why shouldn't
Judah have had one too?
What were they writing then? Not history, what then?
> Were the writers writing history? Did an
> idea of history exist in the culture at
> the time the texts were written? Is
> attempting to find any history behind the
> text equal to discrediting? I fear a
> reductionism to either 1) historically
> correct or 2) rag of lies. I have just
> defended the biblical text against someone
> who wants to reduce it to plagiarism on
> ANE. Do I have to do similarly from those
> who want to retroject other modern
> commitments into them? The ancient writer
> is unaware of the epistemological
> responsibilities you are projecting onto
> him. He just believed that it was true
> because that is what he received.
YAY! We agree!
I agree with all of this.
> To respond to the apparent dilemma you
> pose: it is the devil in the details.
> If a writer defends a position, some
> aspect of it is relevant for the
> writer's period. The scourge of
> polytheism lurks there in many texts
> which defend against it. There aren't
> too many texts that don't confront the
> issue in some way. Even some interesting
> non-yahwistic theophoric names and
> placenames have survived in the text.
So what is the evidence for polytheism in Iron II Judah?
1) the polemics of the biblical writers
2) some pillar figurines that never appear in a cultic context
3) votive offerings and tomb inscriptions to YHWH and his Asherah.
These also are not in a cultic context.
What is the evidence against the idea that Judaeans worshipped other
1) No idols, no cult sites, no symbols of any other god in
a cultic setting.
Bronze age Judah had cult sites all over the place, in every city.
They were not there in Iron II, they were all gone by 701, they were
all destroyed by either Assyrians or Egyptians and they were not
> > > > I can tell
> > > > you tho that there was only one matzevah at Arad, the
> > > > other one you see in all the photos was part of the wall
> > > > and had fallen into the cella area.
> > >
> > > This is not how A.Mazar and others see it.
> > > There were in fact two altars in the temple.
> > > See Mazar's Archaeology..., Doubleday, p497.
> > That's an error, and that same error is perpetuated over
> > and over again. If you go to the site you can see for yourself.
> > -- which I urge everyone to do.
> Was the reconstruction also wrong on that page?
> > > "Placed inside the niche, against the rear
> > > wall, were two standing stones (massebot);
> > > one, painted red, was larger than the other.
> > > At the entrance to the Holy of Holies, there
> > > were two monolithic stone altars of different
> > > dimensions, each standing opposite the
> > > massebah of comparable size."
> > The other one, the one not painted, was just a fallen
> > stone. But yes, there are two small incense altars.
> Two altars usually indicate two separate
> worships, don't they? How do you explain
> the existence of two here and not one?
I don't know, they're right next to each other, on either side
of the entrance to the cella. These are incense altars only.
The (one) sacrificial altar is outside in the courtyard.
> > > Piera Arata Mantovani writes in an Italian
> > > analysis, "The Arad Temple, ...
> > > c... two stone stelae... two small stone
> > > altars..."
> > I have reanalyzed the stratigraphy,
> Could you supply some details?
I suggest that the whole temple was buried to protect it
from Sennacherib. It was not rebuilt.
> And I guess I'll have to re-read Ussishkin.
Which article? He disagrees with me or I with him on
the Arad stratigraphy. I don't think he's right.
> > > > All the polemics that you read in Ezekiel, etc. are just their
> > > > way of explaining the disasters. The temple was captured,
> > > > the people deported -- ERGO they must have worshipped
> > > > other gods.
> > >
> > > ... the onus is on
> > > you to contextualize it, otherwise your ideas
> > > about significance can't even be considered,...
> > You are the one who mentioned Ezekiel.
> I was just following your lead.
> > I mention
> > him and Jeremiah as well, and any other prophet you
> > like. Hosea and Amos said the same thing, speaking
> > about their fears of an Assyrian conquest. The point is
> > that the reason for the conquest is not to be found in
> > the political situation, but that the people must have
> > turned away from YHWH.
> > It is still a trope.
> And points to polytheism at the time of the
> writers of the works you cite, whenever that
> was. To use the texts for historical purposes
> one still has to attempt to date them.
> (You'll note that that's what I attempt to
I try to avoid dating them as much as I can.
It is a black hole.
> (You left out the bits which more interested
> me -- regarding the priesthood!)
Oh, fill me in, what did I leave out???
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
More information about the b-hebrew