Balaam's Kittim Oracle

Banyai Michael banyai at
Fri Sep 27 18:42:06 EDT 2002

Dear Mattfeld,

it is a poor argument to invoke Maccabees 1,1 for the identification of
Kittim with Cyprus or Kition. There is no Cyprus connection of Alexander
so does not Maccabees attest anything else than that the author of
Maccabees draw the Balaam prophecy on his own time, just as later on did
the Essens draw the contents of this prophecy on Rome, identifying Kittim
with Rome.

And just a couple of hours ago, a colleague identifying Kittim with the
Arabs. This is an ancient jewish habit to read the prophecies as if they
were intended for the present days and problems.

All this is however irrelevant for our historical understanding of Kittim.
You will never find in any historical sources the Greek or Romans called
Kittim, except one intended to allude to Balaams prophecy.

In the table of the nations is Kittim side by side with several
identifiable peoples, among other Tarshish (Tarsus)capital of Danuna
looking back on a much older period as Iron age, Elisha (Alasia) a city
which has been the capital city of Cyprus during Late Bronze age, and
later lost significance. It doesn´t make sense to assume with Kittim a
second Cypriotic place name since the list involves the names of
independent states or of capitals of states along the Anatolian coast,
while those of lands inside Anatolia appear in a separate branch of the

Besides is this list relevant only for a much older period as your "spin".
Alasia gives us a terminus ante quem, and this is Late Bronze age. Thus
there is a great probability that Kittim is a geographical name on the
Anatolian coast (I surmise Qode) existing much before the apparition of
Greeks in the region, so as Elisha or Tarshish were. Elisha and Tarshish
are sure identifications. Kittim is not.

You are building on a number of assumptions you are yourself not aware of.

Since Kittim certainly is no Kition, because not on Cyprus, it could have
existed as geographical name much earlier before the Greeks.

All the best,

Michael Bányai

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