Iron and Bronze.

Yigal Levin Yigal-Levin at
Wed Sep 11 13:20:18 EDT 2002


This seems to be turning into a debate between your very minimalist views
on biblical historiography and my moderate views, which could of course go
on forever.

At 08:04 AM 9/11/2002 +0200, Ian Hutchesson wrote:
>>>> >This seems to be hard to fathom, but the HB/OT knows 
>>>> >nothing about the arrival of the Philistines in the twelfth
>>>> >century.

>>>> That's not quite true. Gen. 10:14 and Deut. 2:23 . And Amos 9:7 
>The basic mention of Caphtor is a red herring to the 
>original idea that there was no knowledge of the 
>arrival of the Philistines on the coast.
>The conquest model of the Hebrews gaining control of 
>inland Southern Levant, seems to have bit the dust at 
>the archaeological evidence which says that there are 
>no signs of intrusive culture in the highlands, but 
>that the same culture that was there at the beginning 
>of Iron IA was the source of the culture which was 
>there later, ie the same culture that faced the onslaught 
>of the Philistines et al. (probably including Dan whose 
>original territory coincidentally coincided with that 
>of Ekron and who still lived in ships according to Jgs 
>-- I wonder why --, ie the Dnnym/Denyen), 

That's another theory which has so far found no proof.

yet that 
>culture leaves no written traces of the events which 
>led to the ejection of the Egyptians 

What "ejection"? They left because they had their own problems at home, and
after the Hittites, Babylonians and so on had fallen appart, keeping
control of Canaan just wasn't worth the effort.

and saw the 
>destruction of innumerable cities including Lachish, 
>Megiddo, Hazor, Gezer, Ta'anach, Beth-Shean, etc. From 
>1140 onward, ie after the settling in of the Philistines, 
>they pushed inland, even into the Jordan valley. 

There is actually not a whole lot of evidence for that. Sure, "Philistine"
shards have been found at various inland sites, but is that evidence of
control, trade or what?

>What we have in the biblical tradition is not any 
>knowledge of the Philistine arrival, but stories of the 
>Israelites coming into contact with the Philistines 
>who were already in their lands. Joshua 13:3 acknowledges 
>the five srnym of the Philistines. 

No argument there - by the time the Israelites had developed an awareness
of their own identity, probably around 1000, the Philistines were already

Many other cities were 
>inhabited by the Philistines for a while, but the five 
>obviously became the de facto state of power in the 
>Philistine lands It reflects a later status quo.

Later than what?

>That the Jewish literature may be aware of the Caphtor 
>tradition doesn't change the fact that the anachronism 
>regarding the Philistines at Gerar, an integral part of 
>the Isaac version of the tale, is in keeping with the 
>indications found elsewhere in the tnk, ie that the 
>Philistines were in the land, and there before the 
>Israelites were -- or at least before any preserved 
>cultural traditions.
>(And let me add another logically similar anachronism: 
>Gen 14:14 talks of Abraham going as far as Dan, ie the 
>territory I gather after the migration of the Danites, 
>though Dan was born in Gen 30:6, a great-grandson of 
>Abraham. The removal of the reference to Dan from the 
>passage is difficult, as it will mean the removal of 
>other material.
>I think a fair case can be put together for a late 
>*creation* of many of the traditions, including the 
>Gerar stories, the first creation, Melchizedek, table 
>of nations...)

Again, no argumanet there. As I already wrote: As is evident from many
examples, this kind of anachronism, even when blatently obvious, did not
bother the biblical authors.

>>But if I remember correctly the Hebrews believed that Caphtor was
>>>located south of Egypt, given its position in the table of nations.
>>How could you know that?
>Straight from Gen 10:13-14. Caphtor was a son of Mizraim. 
>Are any of the other sons from outside Africa? Though 
>perhaps this may be academic when the text actually says 
>that the Philistines came from Casluhim, another son of 
>Mizraim. But again, Casluhim, Caphtorim, sons of Egypt 
>are from the south.

First of all, Canaan is obviously NOT south of Egypt. There are several
suggestions for "Phut" besides "Punt". Some of the "sons" of Cush seem to
be in Arabia, not Africa, and no-one knows where any of Egypts "sons" are
supposed to be located. 

>>>> >Had the Hebrews already been in Southern Levant at that time
>>>> >they had to know about their arrival. The texts simply show
>>>> >them as being there when the Israelites, as they spread into
>>>> >the area, became aquainted with them. This means that the
>>>> >stories of Abraham and Abimelek and Isaac and Abimelek post-
>>>> >date the arrival of the Philistines, but post-date them by
>>>> >far, so that there is no awareness that there were no
>>>> >Philistines at the time of attributed to Abraham or Isaac.
>>>> I think that, at least on some level, they knew full well that the
>>>> named "Philistines" of patriarchal-period Gerar were not the same as the
>>>> later Kaphtorian Philistines of Gaza etc. 
>>>Why on earth do you think that? There is no evidence for it. 
>>Just look at the geography. The Philistines and their "pentapolis" are not
>>mentioned among the "nations of Canaan" in the Pentateuch. While the
>>territory involved is clearly a part of Cannan, they are not "Canaanite".
>They are apparently viewed as Hamitic, as the Canaanites were. 
>I don't think the Hebrews could have confused the two groups, 
>so one couldn't make the Philistines depend on the Canaanites. 
>>The Philistines of Abimelech live in the western Negeb, while the
>>Philistines of Joshua and later live along the coastal plain and the
>The Gerar area suffered from the Philistines like most of the 
>rest and it's only about 15 kilometres from Gaza. I don't 
>understand your point.

15 kilometres seems like a short distance to us, but it's actually a whole
differnt region. Our argument is not whether the were "really" Philistines
in the western Negeb in the time of Abraham (whenever that was). As far as
we know, there were not. Our question is, did the 7-5th century (or later)
Judahite author, who conceved of Abraham as living in long-ago
pre-Israelite Canaan, really think that Abimelech and co. were the
ancestors (more or less) of Goliath and Achish (of David or of the Ekron
inscription), or of the Philistines/Ashdodites etc. of his own day?  I
think not. Just as the Ekron inscription would seem to indicate that the
7th century Philistines preserved a momory of their Aegean past, there is
no reason not to assume that the Judahites were aware of that tradition.
The fact that the author of Genesis used an anchronistic name to describe
the Gerar area is no more surprising than his using the name Dan in Gen.
14. The biblical authors simply did not care. They had other things on
their mind.
The same is true about "Moses's" use of Dan, Naphtali, Ephraim, Manasseh
and Judah in Deut. 34:1-2. Didn't the author, whoever he was, "know" that
these areas were supposed to be named after the tribes that supposedly
conquered them after Moses's death? Of course he did! But by using the
names known to readers in his own day, he insured that they got his message
- and that's what was important.

>>>> I suspect that the use of the title "Philistine" for Abimelech
>>>> and friends is just another anachronism, caused by the (later) 
>>>> reference to the Ziklag area as "Philistine-Land". 
>>>> As is evident from many examples, this kind of anachronism, 
>>>> even when blatently obvious, did not bother the biblical 
>>>> authors.
>>>And suggests late writing.
>>I never said otherwise. I'm not trying to defend a Mosaic authorship of the
>>Pentateuch. What i am saying is that the writers/redactors/editors had more
>>of a sense of history than you give them credit for.

Dr. Yigal Levin
Dept. of Philosophy and Religion
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
615 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga TN 37403-2598

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