Tel Dan (Ian)

Raymond de Hoop rdehoop at
Sat Mar 3 11:54:30 EST 2001

On 02-03-2001 15:51 Ian Hutchesson <mc2499 at> wrote:

> I don't know if those people (who have spoken out against its genuineness or
> even spoken against the assuredness of those who believe in the TDI)
> consider David to be historical or not. Do you? I would rather listen to
> what they say. 

You're right in that. I should have left that thought out of my mail. Yet
Garbini has a remark concerning the decline of the Albrightian optimism,
suggesting that adherents of that line of thinking now would need such
forgeries.  That is a remark that he did not need to make in his article.

> If you read the Garbini article I mentioned, I don't think
> there is any stated indication of the author's position on the question of
> David's historicity.
> What I pointed out is that some people do not accept its genuineness. This
> is before one starts to analyse the inscription itself.

Well, I do not agree. Garbini analysed the text and because it was in his
view not "correct Aramaic" we should expect, the incription was suspect of
forgery. But, I would say, we know too little of the languages and their
dialects to draw such a conclusion as fast as he did.

>> But next
>> to it, you also should say "one has to deal with the text and not what one
>> DOES NOT WANT it to mean".
> This of course is a corollary, yet the logic of your stating it is
> erroneous. Until a text can be in some way validated, its content has
> *little use*. One doesn't cite stuff just because it is old. Its relevance
> needs to be established.

I miss the logic of your argument. In case the inscription is old and
genuine, it would have some relevance (depending on its contents of course:

>> I regret to say, but much of the discussion with
>> regard to this stele has been governed by a fundamentalistic versus
>> anti-fundamentalistic position. And many of the oponents of the "House of
>> David"-interpretation made themself suspect in their publications that they
>> were opposing against a fundamentalistic reading instead of against a wrong
>> philological interpretation.
> You'll note that I supplied a range of positions other than the single one
> you have advocated:
>>>> _BYTDWD_ which refers to the house of David

You're right, but I did not argue against you. I just gave my impression of
the discussion of the TDI. In the line you quoted from me, I just gave a
short impression (with my prefered interpretation). But I also refered to
George's page, well, that's quite a range isn't it?  :-)
>> In Ugaritic for example you can frequently find such combinations
>> with AND without a word divider.
> Which such combinations?

For example:

Athiratu of the sea:    'aTrtym (without) KTU 1.4.i.22; iii.27; v.64
                        'aTrt.ym (with)   KTU 1.4.iii.29, 34

Almighty Ba`lu          'al'iynb`l (without) KTU 1.6.ii.21
                        'al'iyn.b`l (with)  KTU 1.6.i.64

The first is a construct, which might be parallel to BYTDWD. Of course we
are dealing here with an older language, a different dialect, etc. (NPL also
wrote this to me offlist, though I suppose he hit the wrong button). I am
very welll aware of it, but the point that is to be compared is the use of a
word divider: is it used consistently by the ancient writers: yes or no?
Well, in Ugaritic it is not. So this may be an indication that this could
also be the case in Aramaic.

>> It just seems to be a matter of coincidence that
>> it was not used here.
> As we are strictly dealing with a southern Palestinian context of around 800
> BCE, you need to establish some reason for introducing Ugaritic (circa 1200
> BCE) into the discourse. I mentioned a few examples that pointed to local
> usage of Beth- in placenames where the words involved are written without
> separation. I'd like a local example or two of unseparated beth-X referring
> to a dynasty or similar -- I'm sorry to say -- so that you can have a reason
> for your contentment here.

There is the Phoenician inscriptian of Kilamuwa (KAI 24) which refers to the
bt'by "house of my father" (24.5), without a word divider, acc. to the
edition of KAI (825 bce). Cf. also KAI 26 A.i.10, 16; ii.15; iii.11; C.iv.12
(720 bce). 
It is not in Aramaic, I'm aware. But it is from the same period, which
bridges the gap with the period of Ugaritic.

Of course there are also the Assyrian references to the Bit-X, which
supports an interpretation in the line of "House of PN", of which the most
famous is of course bit-khumri "house of Omri".

However, the use of byt-X is common to Aramaic. So next to the fact that the
writers did not have to use the divider very precisely and could leave it
out if they liked, this writing may be due to the fact that it is an Aramaic
inscription indeed and that the name was considered to be one word. However,
we just have a few examples of such a usage in Aramaic where the words BYT-X
were separated by a word divider that we simply have to say that there is
not sufficient data to deny the possibility that the divider was left out.

Furthermore, it appears to me that there are no examples of a geographic
unit (state or town), which was called BYTDWD. So, this gives me some reason
to consider the interpretation "House of David" at least as likely as (which
is an understatement) the geographical interpretation. This is based on the
fact that there are "some" (Biblical)-Hebrew texts that do use the
expression "House of David", while the expression may also occur in the
Mesha inscription acc. to Lemaire.



More information about the b-hebrew mailing list