Balaam's Kittim Oracle

Ian Charles Hutchesson MC2499 at mclink.it
Sat Sep 28 13:09:03 EDT 2002


>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.

Thus far I partially agree with Michael, 
though books of the Maccabees and even 
Jerome are historical sources for their 
*own* times and they definitely show the 
Kittim as either Macedonian Greek or 
Roman. But that doesn't interest us here 
so much.

What does interest me is how Michael 
doesn't look at other historical 
indications:

>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, 

This is of course not so transparent. The 
first notice of the name Tarsisi was from 
Esarhaddon. There were other forms of the 
name previously, but not close enough to 
Tarshish to justify the Hebrew form.

>Elisha (Alasia) a city
>which has been the capital city of Cyprus during Late Bronze age, and
>later lost significance. 

However, names have the ability to last 
longer than what they refer to, as in the 
case of Hatti, Mitanni, Assyria, Babylon, 
etc. Edwin Bevyn even cites a Phoenician 
coin of the epoch of Antiochus IV which 
mentions Kition despite the fact that 
that city had been destroyed a hundred 
years previously.

>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 list.

Kition was in fact a separate population 
from the Greeks and Cyprus was basically 
divided between the two peoples: it was an 
island divided in two. There is nothing 
out of place to find both Alayisha and 
Kition mentioned in the table of nations, 
especially when it does mix eras so much.

>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. 

This terminus ante quem is simply *wrong*, 
otherwise we have to start imagining Hatti 
lasted into the first millenium.

>Thus there is a great probability that Kittim is a geographical name 
>on the Anatolian coast 

There is no substantial reason to assume 
that, unless one needs to postulate some 
extremely vague reminiscence to order to 
fit one's theories, when there is a nice 
same-name place that already fits the 
bill. Kition is in the right place. It 
is across the sea from Tyre which it is 
closely related to and to which one could 
conceivably escape to as seen in 
Isa 23:12. 

And while Cyprus was richly wooded as to 
make sense in Eze 27 (another passage 
which relates the Kittim to the Phoenican 
world), neither the Cilician coast nor 
the north Syrian coast offered a source 
of wood. Hence the following guess is 
merely wishful thinking:

>(I surmise Qode) 

You should read the literature on Qode/Que 
first, as you apparently haven't. The 
linguistics of the name points elsewhere.

>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.

The only reason why it seems not to be sure 
is that biblical scholars have tended not to 
look at the evidence, of which there is quite 
a lot. A historical approach to the use of 
the term Kittim will reveal that it is quite 
coherent. (In fact, it was only around the 
time of the Hellenistic crisis that the term 
started to take on a wider meaning.)

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

Though this is addressed to Walter, I do 
find it auto-ironic, for Michael as usual 
is so full of assumptions.

>Since Kittim certainly is no Kition, 

Unfounded assertion.

>because not on Cyprus, 

Unfounded assertion.

>it could have existed as geographical name 
>much earlier before the Greeks.

Kition has little to do with the Greeks 
other than as a thorn in the side of the 
Cypriot Greek states. It was founded by the 
Phoenicians on an earlier site in the ninth 
century BCE (please see the archaeological 
reports by Marguerite Yon and naturally 
Vassos Karageorghis).

The Cypriot and eastern Greek pottery found 
in a northern Negeb contemporary to the 
Kittim mentioned in the Arad ostraca should 
make it clear who the Kittim were, when 
considered along with the other evidence. 

Isaiah and Ezekiel all place the Kittim 
in the Phoenician world in the vicinity of 
Cyprus -- you have to cross over to it (as 
Jeremiah also indicates), you can't simply 
go along the coast. It is seen as a place 
of refuge in Isaiah and not a nice town on 
the coast within easy reach of those nasty 
Assyrians.

The sad thing about Kition is that it 
sided with Antigonus and Demetrius in the 
war of the Diadochi and it was destroyed 
in 312 BCE, but that's not the end of our 
story of the Kittim for a sizable number 
migrated to Antioch on the Orontes, but 
that *is* another story -- the heart of 
what I am attempting to write at the 
moment. 

The reason why I mentioned Num 24:24 is 
that it deals with the Kittim, but unlike 
the other references this is quite opaque 
in significance. Perhaps I'm being obtuse 
but I am none the wiser regarding the 
verse!


Ian












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