[b-hebrew] Benjamin

Dora Smith villandra at austin.rr.com
Fri Jul 2 15:23:07 EDT 2004

The southern edge of Mount Ephraim?

So much for reading all the posts before answering.

The personal and tribal names in the OT appear to have more historical
meaning than is apparent on the surface..    Now the details are not coming
back to me, though I researched it thoroughly and then wrote up what I
found.   Or atleast got three-quarters of the way through that process.
And with my seriously griping broken leg and sprained (other) hip I just
don't feel like crawling under the bed at the moment to get the stuff.

So here is the vague version.   Joseph had two sons.   One of them was the
tribe that occupied the land that included Shechem - and I think the OTHER
was Ephraim?   Shechem is in one of them, between two mountains, near the
border between them.   I could swear one of them WAS Ephraim - or was that
the big mountain (atleast I assume it was a big mountain) that nearly
everyone who figured in the Joshua stories came from - in the territory of
the tribe that was not the tribe that included Shechem.

Shechem itself has a fascinating history.   The stories about it in Genesis
appear to tell of relations and covenants between its Hurrian masters and
the Hebrew chieftains who grazed their flocks nearby.   It is made
absolutely clear by the fact that we are told of it at all, that the Hebrews
worshipped at the sacred altar just outside of Shechem which eventually
became the great migdal temple of Shechem.   Now, the god of Shechem, "Lord
of rthe Covenant", appears to be extremely similar to the Hurrian god Mitra
(later Mithras); the god of justice who covenanted with his people to
provide them with life itself in exchange for their loyalty.

I think it's the "Israel Stele" though I could have that wrong, that tells
that Merenptah, pharaoh of Egypt, around 1220, I think, conquered four
cities of Canaan and "Israel".   A little-known set of temple artwork in one
of the funerary temples, attributed to different pharaohs because it was
usurped twice but actually from the reign of Merenptah, DEPICTS this
campaign.   The four Canaanite cities, in order, a battle in a field in open
hill country with a very technologically sophisticated chariot being driven
by people dressed exactly like Canaanites, and off to the side, lines of
"Shasu", ie, "beduoin" or nomads of the hills, since they ranged all the way
through the Transjordan from the Negev to Syria and were a substantial
element of the hill country and in some cases cannot be distinguished from

The battle scene in the hill country was the defeat of Israel - and it makes
it absolutely clear that "Israel" was a coalition of Canaanite (mostly
Hurrian) chieftains of cities like Shechem, and Apiru and other nomadic
elements who were around.

A shockingly obscure fact is that Egypt had conquered Palestine, Canaan and
Syria all the way to the Euphrates for most of the 18th and 19th dynasties
and enslaved the people - and they periodically allied against the Egyptians
and revolted, whenever Egyptian control weakened and they thought they had a
chance.   Egypt had a policy of marching off tens of thousands of people to
Egypt as slaves mostly of the state and the temple priests - which
depopulated the hill country of Palestine and allowed Hebrews and Shasu to
move in.

If Israelites ever escaped from Egypt by the Nile enmasse, it probably
happened early in the 18th dynasty or at the end of the Hyksos reign, when
Thera blew up and caused the ten plagues.    Not only does Thera correspond
in time to mid Hyksos rule to mid 18th dynasty, but archaelogical finds and
tomb artwork, showing such things as pumice from Thera in a temple workshop,
and the change of power in Crete that we know happened after Thera, make it
clear that Thera blew its top before teh end of the reign of Thutmose III
and probably sometime earlier but certainly not more than a couple of
generations earlier than his reign.   Egomaniac Ramses II did not rule for
another couple of centuries; what is more, the Tuthmosis III, his
predecessor and his successor were the most notorious for carrying off tens
of thousands of people from Palestine to Egypt to work on state projects and
temple estates in Egypt.   Pharaohs from Tuthmosis II on had armies
stationed along the sea where they would have been directly in the line of
tsunamis from Thera.    On the other hand, parts of the Exodus story jive
remarkably well with the Egyptians' report of the Hyksos exodus from Egypt,
and Egyptian pharaohs rarely admitted loosing battles.   In fact, Ramses II
reported one of history's most ignominious defeats as a victory!     The
Hyksos were Palestinian princes, albeit most likely Syrian ones, and they
controlled all of Palestine along with Egypt.   The second wave of them were
probably Hurrians who had conquered all of Syria and ruled most towns of
Palestine by the 18th dynasty.

Meanwhile the nobility of the tribe of Dan showed up in Mycenea and said
they'd fled from "Egypt".   They did.   They had recently been ejected from
their own land, immediately northeast of Palestine,  by other invaders, and
had fled south with their people into Palestine.   Then those with the
resources set sail for Mycenae.   Palestine was part of Egypt at the time,
and anyone with a brain in their heads escaped from "Egypt".    But the
common people were left behind to become a sea people and a tribe of
dispossessed "Habiru".   The oldest songs and stories of Genesis clearly
tell us that Dan were a sea people, not yet well integrated into the culture
and structure of Israel at the time of the Judges.

Back to Ephraim and the Benjamites.   One of the few things that is clear
from the Bible about the Benjamites is that they, like Moabites, Ephraimites
and the other tribe that were very likely the original two tribes of the
Israelite confederacy, were very integral to the early history of Israel.

I don't think it is mere coincidence that "Benjamin" and "Shasu" almost
appear to be two different names for the people who ranged the Transjordan
between Syria and the hills.   Certainly Benjamin was a particularly large
and powerful tribal confederation of those people - and the Shasu had tribal
confederations.   Some were large and powerful.   One such confederation, in
the south, are the first people recorded, by teh Egyptians, to have
worshipped Yahweh by that name atleast, and not his other names of Yamm,
Yaw, Yahoo, Ea and Enkil.

It is not unreasonable to think that Benjamite chieftains played key roles
in the formation of Israel just as Moabite ones apparently did even while
other Moabite chieftains were enemies of Israel.

In the parlance of the Old TEstament, the story of Ruth and her ancestry to
David probably tells of an alliance between Moabite and Benjamite or
Israelite chieftains.    I am so vague on the details that I'm not sure it
is not Saul who was a Benjamite!   But things in those hills were so chaotic
David could easily have been part Benjamite too.

So now, tell us more about Benjamin on the southern side of Mount Ephraim.

Dora Smith
Austin, Texas
villandra at austin.rr.com
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Washburn" <dwashbur at nyx.net>
To: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>; "b-hebrew"
<b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, July 02, 2004 11:09 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Benjamin

> ?? I thought the "on" in this verse meant "sorrow," as in "son of my
> sorrow/distress," and Jacob chose to give him a less depressing name.
> On Friday 02 July 2004 09:10, Yigal Levin wrote:
> > At the risk of repeating some of the things already said in the thread
> > "Judah", certainly both meanings are used in different contexts. On one
> > hand, Ben-Yamin was the most "southern-born" of all of Jacob's sons,
> > all the others were born in Haran. Assuming this story to be somewhat
> > aetiological, the Benei Yamin were the southernmost of all the tribes of
> > the origial "Israel" (that is, excluding Judah), sitting at the southern
> > edge of Mount Ephraim (18th century Mari, by the way, supplies us with
> > another tribe called "Benei Yamin", who lived south of the city). The
> > "pre-monarchal" stories emphasize Benjamin's status as "Joseph's younger
> > brother". And, as I said, at least some of the references to the
> > Benjaminites' "left handedness" seem to me to be puns.
> >
> > On the other hand, the etymolgy given in Gen. 35:18 is quite clear: his
> > mother called him Ben-oni and his father called him Ben-yamin. "On"
> > "strength", usually sexual: look at Jacob's blessing for Reuben: "you
> > my firstborn, my might (KoXiY) and the begining of my strength (ONi)".
> >
> > Yigal
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Stoney Breyer" <stoneyb at touchwood.net>
> > To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> > Sent: Friday, July 02, 2004 3:39 PM
> > Subject: RE: [b-hebrew] The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune --
> > 1Chron
> >
> > > GFS:It does, however, refer to the south.
> > >
> > > SB: Does it? In light of their consistent characterization mightn't
> > > b'nei Yamin be banditti calling themselves something like 'Sons of the
> > > Strongarm' - and denoting their elite as something like the Masonic
> > > 'handfast'?
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> > b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> > http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
> --
> Dave Washburn
> http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
> Learning about Christianity from a non-Christian
> is like getting a kiss over the telephone.
> _______________________________________________
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