Question Concerning Inspiration

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Fri Dec 1 19:11:02 EST 2000

Dear Michael,

This letter of yours marks the fourth approach to the problem, ie you've
tried four ways to avoid the implications of an Israelite presence south of
the territory you wish to see as having been Judaean. As I said the previous
time, you seem bent on nullifying the significance of this find rather than
getting at its significance.

>> This is not correct. I'm identifying the fact that the names are
>> names as indicated by the YW theophoric, that the artwork is Phoenician
>> influenced as one expects from Israelite artwork and done not only on the
>> pythoi but on the door lintels etc. Then the ceramics are northern or
>> Jerusalem in origin. Do you agree with all the substantive information in
>> this paragraph? If not, what don't you agree with?
>As I you can see, I have no problem with this. But since the YW cult in
>Kuntillet wasn´t reserved to the Jahweh of Samaria but also to that of
>we could expect at least a part of the YW theophoric names to be those of
>Temanite individuals as well. There is no way to make a distinction.

As you know nothing about Temanites (other than that there was a yhwh of
Teman) you can claim any possibility you like, but there are a number of
indications that show that the site was in the hands of the Israelites. Not
only are there YW names (which we know from Israel) and the yhwh $mrn but we
also have the Phoenician style art known from Israel. I'm not advocating
anything strange here. This is the common analysis of the data.

>> The word governor was in quotes. The word used was sar, which is used as
>> prince or governor, but it obviously has a slightly wider usage than I
>> convey, hence the quotes.
>Exactly. It could denote also the head of the merchants in the
>caravanserai. What I beleave we in fact have in Kuntillet.

And it is in the hands of Israel.

>> If you assume Judean controlled territory. Jerusalem controlled might be
>> more likely.
>May it be called as you wish.

No. It should be called what we can acertain is the most correct name.

>I don´t still see the grounds why you thought the biblical tradition to be
>seriously challenged by Kuntillet.

The biblical tradition is from the second century BCE, isn't it? That's at
least the earliest forms of some of the books, though I think some works are
earlier and some later. If they are no earlier than the third century, how
can you expect an apparently non-literate society to know much about what
happened beyond the society's vague communal recollections?

It is simply bad scholarship to use a text which has no pedigree as though
it were a historical work.

>The caravanserai is as outside the Judahite/Jerusalemite territory as it
>could be. The southern border of Juda/Jerusalem (snip) is the river of
>Musri, that is the Besor, by Beersheba.

I guess you're giving me what you have received from the biblical
literature, though what its relationship to reality is you don't know.

>Kuntillet is far south of this natural border.

"Natural?" Another assumption.

Maybe south of that border, but the only rational way for Israelites to get
there is straight through this hypothesized Jerusalem territory. It is more
likely that Israel had sway that far south. How tenuous, I don't know, but
they had a waystation there.

>> And how does one get to Kuntillat Ajrud without travelling south, through
>> what you want to call Judean controlled territory?
>I alluded to this already. Kuntillet is in a line between the port of
>Raphia and Elat. An intermediary station for caravans bringing the
>merchandise to and fro the Red sea and the Mediteranean. Simple isn´t
>it? The Israelite got a concession to make the trade, as soon as Elat
>was in Arab hands.

I won't bite on your theories, but how did the Israelites get there if they
did not cross territory you think was under the control of Jerusalem?
Obviously not through other people's territory. If they could do that then
the other people's territory would be theirs.

>Kuntillet wasn´t destroyed but was abandonned as soon as Elat got again
>in Judahite/Jerusalemite hands, and the trade flow to Elat had again to
>pass Judahite/Jerusalemite territory.

We're doing history here.

>> You assume Eilat was Judean. You simply cannot. You assume that Kuntillat
>> Ajrud was once in the hands of a hypothetical Judah of the era. You
>> cannot do that.
>I never assumed that. Exactly the opposite. But I assume that Elat was
>occasionally Judahite, occasionally Egyptian and occasionally Arab.

What's your contemporary evidence for any of this?

>Since we are quite informed about the main scope of the Elat trade, that is
>Ofir gold, I may remind you the Ofir gold ostraca from Juda (7-th or 8-th
>century BC?).

That confirms gold from Ophir, nothing else.

>We know that the Egyptians before Hatschepsut never themselves traded with
>Punt, but with the help of the Byblite merchants, whom they offered their
>protection by the transit of the Negev. See for this an Egyptian
>inscription of the 11-th Dyn., the statement of an Egyptian official who
>fared 11 times to Byblos and Punt.
>By the time of Hatschepsut have the Egyptians lost controll of the access
>to Elat, and were in clinch with the fenkhu (statement of Thuthmosis III)
>they tryed to do it alone departing from Egypt.
>Similarly did according to the Bible the later Israelites with the help of

And when was that written?

>> You are making far too many assumptions. The archaeology of
>> the site -- as I said -- points not to Jerusalem but to Israel. There is
>> nothing to make one think that Jerusalem ever had any control over the
>> place.
>I didn´t even dream about such a possibillity.

OK. Point taken.

>> >Historical sources speak of a political influence of the Arabian king
>> >the region.
>> Which historical sources for the period?
>The Assarhadon expedition to Egypt, 671-669, bypassing Juda by Jordan he
>took than direction to Raphia by the Brook of Egypt (were there is no
>and so on. He made this with the accord of the Arab kings. The biblical
>sources simply state that this geopolitical situation should be
>to earlier times.

And why should we accept this? We are trying to get at what happened and we
don't have much chance when we use literature that is not even near

>> So you are admitting that one cannot show anything for this Teman idea.
>Nothing but that there is a missing actor on the scene in Kuntillet.

You can't show such a thing.

>one giving the trade concession. Since this one can not have been the king
>of Juda, whose territory Kuntillet is avoiding he may have been but X.
>Make a better proposition for this Mr. X. The israelites from Kuntillet
>didn´t come there from a position of power, to resist there without contact
>to their motherland, against the locals, who surely wanted their part in
>trade. They didn´t make fortifications. Don´t speak about having been built
>to be able to resist local attacks. It has to conform the contemporary
>standards to may speak of defenses.

It was a waystation near a trading route. Why do you keep insisting on
fortifications if it is a waystation? It is a trading presence. What other
places by this trading route were fortified to your liking? The others I've
looked at are just as "fortified" as Kuntillat Ajrud.

>> The question is of course was it so foreign? The particular place was
>> controlled by them. To have such an outpost of civilisation there means
>> they had some control that far.
>Oh, Jan. Don´t fool yourself with such arguments. (Please don´t take
>offense with last sentence).

I could say, "Mikel", but I won't. I'll simply omit the poor rhetoric.

>You can not conclude from the absence of
>defensive architecture on an israelite control of the Negev.

I am concluding from the fact of an obvious Israelite presence that there
was some control in the region, otherwise they wouldn't have got that far.
And I also said I don't know how tenuous it was.

>This is too far fetched.

I don't think you should talk about what you think is far-fetched.

>Control means massive military presence, in first line so far
>off the mainland. You don´t have it. Point.

It may mean that to you.

>You have than no Israelite control but only a caravan concession. It
>remains the question of how should this challenge our image of the
>biblical world. I have no idea.

You are still avoiding the fact that we have an Israelite presence beyond
your hypothesized Judah of the ninth century.

Peter, responding to my question of how one gets from Israel to Kuntillat
Ajrud, says:

>Very easy, you go round by the coastal plain.

Oh, if it were that simple. This of course means passing through the various
Philistine cities' territory. However, normally when one sets up trading
stations one does so near enough to one's area of control. Land trade is
strongly connected to power. (Much of Assyria's territorial gains were to
guarantee trade.)

If they could whizz down the coast, why put a waystation deep in the Negev?
Why not simply tap it in more acceptable conditions? The answer of course is
that they probably didn't go down the coast.

But then we know that cities like Gezer and Lachish each had a type of gate
in the late tenth century also found at Megiddo and Hazor -- the famous
six-chamber gates. The same gates indicate that they were built by the same
realm. In this case that realm was Israel, for we know that Megiddo and
Hazor were Israelite. (This is of course strengthened by the Finkelstein
redating of the archeological chronology.)

Strangely enough in the chambers of the Gezer gate there were found "low
plastered stone benches which run around the three sides". Such benches were
also found at Dan, Tell en-Nasbeh (Mizpah) and Khirbet el-Qom, this last
being south east of Lachish. Of course, the Judeans could have used the same
techniques and the same materials! But then during the ninth century,
Jerusalem seems to have been not more than a village, and constructional
methods do tend to represent the culture of the one realm which used them.

And don't you think it's strange that the first Jerusalemite king to make it
into history was Hezekiah? This was just when Israelite power hit the dirt.
Only a coincidence?

One can see that kuntillat Ajrud is not such an out-of-the-way place for
Israelite traders to be, if Israelite power reach well down into the


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