Num 24:24

Michael Banyai Banyai at
Wed Sep 25 19:00:00 EDT 2002

Dear all,

first of all Ian to your objections:

> Would you like to reinvent the significance of "Kittim"? Before 
> you do have a good look at the prophecies against Tyre in Isa 23 
> and Eze 27 in which the only possibility I can see is that the 
> coasts of the Kittim is located approximately where Kition is. 
> Perhaps you can think of some other wood provider that the Kittim 
> could represent. Perhaps you could also note the geographical 
> indication of Gen 10:4. Perhaps you could also note that kty is 
> a gentilic which matches that produced by the Phoenician name. 
> The only conclusion I can draw is that anyone wanting to think 
> that Kittim refers to other than Kition in a pre-DSS period is 
> doing so based on no evidence whatsoever.

The question is more complicated, since the indications from the bible are neither perfectly concludent, nor precise, nor in any way to be said to pertain to the same period and same situation. So we may see Kaphtorites mentioned on the Philistine coast, this however doesn´t rule out the fact that Kaphtor originally designated Crete. Kittim experienced many interpretations during the late antique, as designating anything from from Cyprus and Greek till Rome.
We not always have to accept the opinion of Flavius Josephus for example, who identified Kaphtor with Katpatuka/Kappadokia, or have we? Were he could rely on good informations he was able to transmit us valuable tips, but he wasn´t infailible.

I think that Gen. 10:4 is rather a powerful argument against the identification of Cyprus with Kitim, than the other way round.

We know that Cyprus was ruled during the Bronze age from Alashia. This is the Elisha running a couple of names before Kittim. Thus we have: Elisha (kingdom of Cyprus), Tarshish (Tarsus staying for the Danuna/Adana kingdom), Kittim, Rodanim ( seen as Rhodos). Kittim could thus be either Kizzuwadna/Qode, or something else on the Anatolian coast. Quite improbable on Cyprus.

By the way Tiglatpileser I seems to have bordered with his conquests on Kizzuwadna, since he mentions Kumani in the North of it.

On the other hand I feel attracted indeed by an identification with Cyprus, even if it could be also some location on the Anatolian coast.

I know about the archaelogical surveys on Cyprus, but they are somewhat inconcludent for the question of the city name of Kition. Of course Karageorgis has dug up Kitions ruins, but who says that before the 10th century BC there was no city with the name Kition at a site nearby. Capua antica lies also a couple of miles away from medieval to modern Capua, this hasn´t so far stimulated anybody to try to highdate the Spartacus revolt into the middle ages. Cities are abandoned sometimes on various reasons and rebuilt at a new site not far away with the same name.

So let please the argument about Kittim to be what it is, an unidentified location with many favorits, not peculiarly relevant to our subject. 

Now to the other questionmarks raised by Yigal:

"It's difficult for me to see how you get from an royal fishing expedition to a naval battle. In any case, both Tiglath-Pileser I and Ashur-Bel-Kala were very much "masters of a land-locked country". Their expidition to Amurru (that is, the Levant) were no more than anecdotes, one-time marches that had no lasting effect on anything except later Assyrian royal propaganda. Tyre, for instance, didn't even bother to pay tribute to Tiglath-Pileser I as he was sailing by (actually he sailed to the north, from Arvad to Byblos, but Sidon did pay). And I very much doubt that the Israelites of the time (c. 1100 BCE) were even aware of these events. "

It belongs the eyes of a modern reader to read into a naval demostration of royal power, menacing at any time to overrun by by-passing by the way of the coast (in the manner of Tuthmosis IIIs naval desant at Joppe) the defence lines of the Syrians a simple fishing expedition. 

We could than call Amenophis II elephant hunt at Nija the real purpose of his presence in full force in this region of Syria. Or Thutmosis IIIs 20 or so expeditions to the Levante, anecdotes and one-time marches, as Tiglatpilesers 14 expeditions leading him over the Euphrates.

They all pretended to govern the Levante but this was no more than Egyptian or Assyrian propaganda. This we may prove for Thutmosis too, since one or other Syrian city declined too, at first to pay tribute, in the manner Tyrus did with Tiglatpileser I (but also with many  other Assyrian kings).

Concerning the ignorant Israelites not knowing what happens some 40 kilometers from their borders (Tiglatpileser I reached Sidon): I can not understand your argument or if this is indeed an argument or just a feeling. 

You are maybe simply shaping the reality and texts so as to fit your expectations. You accept half of the argument, because it is overwhelming in its clarity, concerning the identity of Agog, Kenites, and the Israelite king in Balaams blessing with those figures from the period of Saul and Samuel (cca 1050). At the same time you reject the identification of the Assyrians in the same sentence of "Balaam" with their (this time real) Assyrian counterparts in the 1050s.

Because this would be a deadly blow on those contesting the historicity of the figures of the early Israelite history,or why else? Israelite chronology and the Assyrian one might be shown to be synchronous even in their higher parts.

All the best,

Bányai Michael
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