Tel Dan (Ian)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Mon Mar 5 12:20:31 EST 2001


I've just discovered I hadn't sent this post responding to Raymond.

Thanks for the interesting post.

>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.

I translated the Garbini article because a number of people wanted to know
what he said. I therefore placed it on my website to make it available. I
will not defend Garbini. I cite him to show that the genuineness of the TDI
is not clear.

>>> 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:

One establishes some genuineness before any use of testimony. Would you do
the sort of
thing you advocate above in a court of law?

>>> 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

I was hoping for specific examples to counteract the southern Palestinian
examples of Bethel and Beth-Shamash. That, I think, is what is necessary
here, not merely perceived analogies.

>>> 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'd like a local
>> example or two of unseparated beth-X referring to a dynasty or
>> similar [..]
>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

Phoenician might, because of its closer geographical context, provide a more
useful analogy. But how can "house of my father", a reference to something
relatively literal, be analogous to a title like bytdwd? (It may be; I just
don't see it.)

(Garbini thinks Hebrew was a Phoenician dialect.)

>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.

Bet-Adini, Bet-Agusi, etc.

Note from Bethel and Beth-Shamash we have a formula House of (deity). When
did dwd become a name? Isn't it, in the case of bytdwd -- given its
genuineness for this discussion --, more likely to indicate a temple of a

>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,

Whoa! This is stating a case that hasn't been made in the *context*.

>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 called an argument from silence. However, the analogy with Bethel
and Beth-Shamash suggests a temple. Wasn't Dumuzi/Adonis the beloved (for
whom people wept)?

>This is based on the
>fact that there are "some" (Biblical)-Hebrew texts that do use the
>expression "House of David",

Perhaps you could supply some chronological precedence between bytdwd and
the biblical "House of David"?

>while the expression may also occur in the
>Mesha inscription acc. to Lemaire.

Then again...

I find myself forced into arguing a position that I don't hold, because you,
Raymond insist on your support for your interpretation of bytdwd. Yours
might be right. You simply have no way to eliminate others. Going back to my
original post, I was listing alternatives to the view you have consistently
set forth. As I don't think you have a way to show the merits of your
position over the others, I can see no way that one can assume it as
reflective of the TDI. So, I can't see that we can assume the significance
of the inscription in arguments.

However, I do appreciate the good data you've presented.


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