Balaam's Kittim Oracle

Banyai Michael banyai at
Sun Sep 29 17:03:21 EDT 2002

Hallo Ian,

here I am after a hard weekend again.

Before going into detail with your points which I answered yesterday
because of lack of time only superficially, I´ld like to express my wish
to see aplied in our discussion similar standards of argumentation. If you
are treating a question please take into consideration both sides of the
medal: you can not expect anybody to accept your wondrous explanation of
the mention of Kition and Alasia in the same text on more as 5%
probability. Besides, you as usually forget to mention what you are
thinking to date by the list of allegedly anachronistic mentions, like of
Togarma, Sabteka, or Tubal: the last redactional intervention in the
Genesis table of nations or the date of its creation?

But beside such principial methodological critique, all the examples are

Hebr. Togarma = Neo-Assyr. Till-garimmu= Heth. Tegaramma/Tacharama. The
Hethite example coming closest to the Hebrew form dates to the age of the
Hethite empire.

Hebr. Tubal = Neo-Assyr. Taballu = Heth. Tabalka = Middle Assyr.
Timilkija. The Hebrew variant Tubal-Kain comes nearer to the older
spelling of the name with its Hurritic flavour.

Your Ethiopian kings from Genesis, is a theme frequently bringing me to
laugh. I know you haven´t imagined it for yourself, and I know it for
long, but its typical for the bad habit to avoid contextual reading and
make a theory out of few pieces.

If you would have attentively read this Genesis passus, you have had
observed that Kush is just a massoretic fault, staying for Kish, and most
of the text is almost a copy of the Sumerian kings list pertaining the
dynastic change from the 1st Dynasty of Kish to the 1st Dynasty of Uruk.
The list of Mesopotamian cities was certainly later amplified as the
source became obscure, but it is clear that in a first redactional layer,
this was merely a quote of the kings´list.

Kush (Kish) became father of Nimrod...He was a mighty hunter before the
lord...The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech and Accad...

1st Dynasty of URUK following on 1st Dynasty of KISH

Meskiag-Kash(er), son of the sun god (dUD)
Enmer-kár, son of Meskiag-Kash(er), king of Uruk, who built Uruk

KÀR, as the Sumerian word for hunter, allows one to read the name of the
builder of Uruk, as Enmer, the hunter. A duplicate of this list writes his
name in a complete syllabic way as: en-me-er-ru(d)-kár, thus enmerud, the
hunter, who built Uruk, a name we may link with the biblical Nimrod, the
hunter, builder of Uruk.
The name of his father could be read as: hero (MES), who divided (AG=ÀG)
the earth (KI),  Kash(er). Thus the biblical Cush, father of Nimrod.

We may with good reason doubt the historicity of Kash(er), son of the sun
god, of the Sumerian kings list. I rather see therein a copyist’s fault
since the gloss pertains to a Semitic name,  not a Sumerian one, as we
should expect from the first dynasty of Uruk. Furthermore, Uruk was built
only by his alleged follower on the throne EN-MER-KÀR thus making the
ground of his being enlisted quite mysterious. The Sumerian kings list is
probably a collation of disparate sources. For the part concerning the
first Dynasty of Uruk, the second Mesopotamian dynasty after the deluge
(according to the Sumerian kings list kingship descended from the sky
after the deluge), after the first dynasty of Kish, has stood at disposal
material of maybe this form:

Kish, son of the sun god,………………………………….(1-st Dynasty of Kish)
Enmer-kár, king of Uruk, following on Kish (1-st dynasty Kish), who built

But take now as example the name of the city of Hawilah, descending from
There exists a Samarran votive inscription of the early Hurrian king
Atalšen roughly contemporary with the dynasty of Akkad. It mentions an
offering to Nergal, Lord of Hawilum:Nergal, Lord of Hawilum; Atalšen the
good shepherd,the king of Urkiš, Nawar…
Copper plate of Samarra, in I.J.Gelb, MAD 2,  1961, 16 No. 1e

This Hawilum is according to Amir Harrak identical with the later Guzana,
capital of the Assyrian province with the same name. The Syriac
lexicographer Bar-Bahlũl (10th century) would mention the toponym HWYL´
(Hwilā, Huwaylā, and in one exemplar of his lexicon H/Kwilā or H/Kuwaylā);
which he associates with the city of GWZN (vocalised Gawzan; Lexicon
Syriacum ed. R.Duval [1888-1896] col. 426 and n .25). It is tempting to
associate Syriac GWZN with cuneiform Guzana.
Amir Harrak, to G.Wilhelms , The Hurrians, in Bibliotheka Orientalis,
XLIX, No. ½, 1992, pp185-186

Now is this Hawila is also mentioned in the Eden legend as being flown
through by the river Pishon, one of the rivers flowing through the Eden.

The region of Guzana belongs to the wider land of Subartu, written

Gihon = Ceyhan, the Tigris and the Euphrat as rivers of Eden are soon at
hand. Pishon might be a corruption from Gishon, due to the closeness of
the signs for g (gimel) and p (pei) in Hebrew, similar to our modern
arabic 7, thus the river of Guzana, not an infrequent name for the Chabur
river flowing past Guzana. At least do II Kings 17:6 and 18:11 speak of
Habor by the river Gozan; also I Chronicles 5:26 speaks of the river

Well, it is evident, that the redaction of the bible was only very late
definitively closed, allowing many changes on the original text. It is
obvious that the original quote from the Sumerian kings list for example
was later enriched by later redactors of Genesis.

But it is hardly usefull to look in this part of the table of the nations
for the names of some Ethiopian kings. But I know of persons who had
already seen a human mask on Mars. And it was realy convincing.

Don´t take this irony personal, since this was realy not your proposal.

> We are not dealing with modern forms of
> names, Michael. You for some reason
> make a connection between Tarshish and
> Tarsa/Tarzi/etc, but you don't give a date
> for the form you are trying to use.

A hethite ritual text mentioning in this order : Kumani, Adanija, Tarsa,
and the river Purana from the time of Mursilis. Read a plenty about in
Hellenosemitica of M. Astour. It is obviously identical with later Tarsus.

> So in the end, you can't really say anything
> because your linguistic appearances will
> disappear in modern scholars' rationalising
> orthography.

Yes, so it is. But sometimes you will have some older name form shimmering
through if the adaption to modern orthography wasn´t made always very

> >This is wonderful. And being this are you sure this makes this exception
> >to a rule we have to follow?
> Yours is a contorted conclusion, Michael.
> You are trying to give a terminus post quem
> when obviously you can't.

Ian, you may resort to such exotic explanations if you as in the case of
the Phoenician coin, you have the means to date the coin against any odd,
after the destruction of Kition.

> And you are trying to make coherence out
> of the table of nations by your own flavour
> of guesswork. You don't know how the
> writer put his table together, although there
> is a connection between the four, because
> they are sons of Yavan. Read what Javan's
> portion is in Jubilees 9:10.

OK, Ian, wouldn´t it be better we keep these post-cannonic books out of
discussion? Otherwise we may feel incited to take Kittim as a biblical
code for the Romans. I can imagine for both of us a better solution.

> It is a repeat of the assumption that
> because a name is used late it must
> have been current for the location --
> which a first century Hatti shows is
> absurd. You have no terminus post
> quem without such "conclusions".

Still not understanding you. I assume, and this is perfectly licit, that
as any text open over centuries to changes and correctures, the table of
the nations will display older redactional layers and younger ones. We can
not recognise in each case to which layer this or other could pertain, but
in extreme cases, like Calah (Neo-Assyrian capital) thus after the 9th
century, or Alasia (destruction cca 1050) we may assume that they can not
stem from the same redactional layer.

> I talked to Kuniholm once about Cyprus
> as an exporter of wood. He didn't have
> any problem with that idea. But then,
> that's his field, ancient wood.

Dear Ian, it is quite impossible even for Kuniholm to make out the
difference between Cypriotic pine-wood and Anatolian pine-wood. That he
doesn´t see any problem doesn´t mean anything. I don´t see any problem
either. The question is: was there such a pine-wood trade from Cyprus or
not. Find me better an Assyrian mention of pine-wood imports from Cyprus
and we settled the question.

> This is Astour and who in the field supports it?
> Umm, you. Because it's convenient.

OK. Ian, point to you. Offer me another reading.
> Again, this is only Astour's construction, trying
> to make sense of the linguistic data. Not a
> strong argument for anything, but it sounds
> good.

We are sometimes building theories in the sky because they sound good.

> The prophecy has no interest in your fancied
> big Danuna realm, but in the dire situation
> Tyre was in. Kition of course was a
> Phoenician city.

Danuna too. Don´t forget the bilingual Karatepe inscription.

> My bet is that we are dealing with an
> extremely late text. As is so frustratingly
> frequent, the text is not available from
> Qumran, so we can't say how late it is.
> But when Syria is called Assyria then
> Assyria is on the coast, and Syria gets
> called Assyria in late times. You don't
> need to turn landlocked Assyria into a
> sea-side nation just because a king
> or two went joy-riding on the big sea.

Ian, I don´t identify myself with your minimalistic model. I hope you will
find the patience to read my chronology paper in a month and chew a while
on it. Perhaps it makes yourself less sure.
All the best,

Going to sleep.
We should let the things now as they are, so I have more time to beend my

Bányai Michael

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