Balaam's Kittim Oracle

Banyai Michael banyai at
Sat Sep 28 16:36:41 EDT 2002

Hallo Ian,

I don´t think it to be relevant what you say about Togarma. This is
Neo-Assyrian Till-garimu but Hethite Tegaramma/Tacharama. It is nice that
you point on the name of Ethiopian king similar to that of a land in
Genesis, nation´s table, but where does this list offer us kings´names
else as expresis verbis? This is simply accidental since you have also
other similar names pertaining to Kush: Seba, Sabtah, Sabteka. Are these
too names of Ethiopian kings? I surmise not. Than is Havilah too a

> >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.

This is quite irelevant, even if one would accept (I don´t mean one
should) your difference between Tarsisi and Tarsa, it is perfectly trivial
that the name of a city would be written according to the current
orthography. All German classics are now being published in Germany
according to the modern orthography ( this is going so far that the
publishers announce on the book cover "according to the orthographic
reform"). Nobody means this would be a legity, but it is everyday

> >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.

This is wonderful. And being this are you sure this makes this exception
to a rule we have to follow?

> >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.

This is what I call liberalism. Kittim is not even side by side with

> >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.

Don´t get your argument.

> 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. 

Where is the problem? Isa. 23 speaks of Tarshish ships making their way to
Sydon. Assuming Kittim to be different of the region about Tarshish
(Danuna has ceased to exist exactly at the time point of Isaiahs´prophecy
cca 701 and have fallen by grace of the Assyrians to the neighbouring
kingdom from which later emerged the 4th nomos, Syenesis´ kingdom of
Kilikia), we are maybe without necessity introducing a 3rd term (Cyprus)
into the equation.

In fact it is said that the ships of Tarshish coming from Kittim found
Sydon destroyed, so that they return crossing over to Tarshish. This makes
rather an identity between Tarshish and Kittim by the time of Isaiah, 701,
because of the new Assyrian reorganisation of the provinces after the fall
of Danuna.

> 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:

What makes you think of the coast? Is the Amanus, the "cedar forest" not
good enough as source of wood for you? It is one of the most famous wood
sources, while Cyprus is in the ANE quite unknown as a wood exporter.

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

Than you should read besides also the literature relating to the Greek
name for the region of Kizzuwadna, namely Kataonia. If you sense here a
big linguistic difference to Kition, which you admit as source for Kittim,
than I can not help myself. Since Kataonia is derived either from
Kizzuwadna ( luwitic wadna= heth. udne= land) or a common precursor of
both names, we may assume a shift to t from z or z to t (from some commin
source) on account of the t>z shift in the semitical languages.

> >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.)

We might however accept without evidence the possibility of some
difference between the "isles of Kittim" and Kittim as is existing between
Iadnana (Assyrian name of Cyprus usualy translated as the isle of Danuna)
and Danuna, Anatolian coastal state encompassing Adana, Tarsus,

> 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.

Vide supra. Till 701 Tarsus (thus Danuna) and Cyprus (Iadnana) seemed to
form according to the Assyrians a political unit. The flight 701 of the
Sydonian king Luli to the Danunans may have led to the decision of the
Assyrians to attack this Anatolian kingdom. Fact is: the destruction of
Danuna ensued on the flight of Luli.

> 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!

OK, Ian. We all may be more sensible on one side, and I appreciate this
conciliative tone from you. Num. 24:24 as the whole Num. 24 is quite
difficult to be understood on assumption Kittim=Kition. Since 90% is to be
brought clearly in connection with events attributed by 1 Samuel to the
period of Saul. Nobody could offer a model how such a text could be
created, landing little later under the false label of Balaam under the
assumption Kittim=Kition, because of Kitions founding at a late date.

Maybe we could agree with the possibility, that Kittim was a toponym
preceding in Cyprus the founding of Kition, going later over onto this

All the best,


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