[b-hebrew] Benjamin

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sat Jul 3 18:05:35 EDT 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dora Smith" <villandra at austin.rr.com>

> The southern edge of Mount Ephraim?
Yes, "Mount Ephraim is a geographical term that includes what we today would
call "Samaria" - the area from just north of Jerusalem all the way to he
Gilboa. It includes the tribal territories of Manasseh (including Shechem),
Ephraim and Benjamin, and is thus much larger than the tribal territory of
Ephraim per se. Just two examples out of many: in Judges 4:5, Deborah sat
between Ramah and Bethel in Mount Ephraim, while elswhere (such as Josh.
18:21-28) these two town are part of Benjamin. In 2 Sam. 20:1, the rebel
Sheba ben Bichri was "a Benjaminite", while in verse 21 he is "a man of
mount Ephraim".

> So much for reading all the posts before answering.


> 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.

The two sons of Joseph were Manasseh and Ephraim, which, in accordance to
Jacob's blessing (Gen. 48:5). Joseph's younger full brother (Rachel's only
other son) was Benjamin. Not surprisingly, all three tribes "settled" in the
same area, with Manasseh in the north, Ephraim in the center and Ben-Yamin
on the south. And if you're looking for Shechem again, have a look at Gen.
48:22, at what Jacob promisses Joseph (in Hebrew!).

> Shechem itself has a fascinating history.   The stories about it in
> 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
> worshipped at the sacred altar just outside of Shechem which eventually
> became the great migdal temple of Shechem.   Now, the god of Shechem,
> of rthe Covenant", appears to be extremely similar to the Hurrian god
> (later Mithras); the god of justice who covenanted with his people to
> provide them with life itself in exchange for their loyalty.

None of this is provable in any way.

> I think it's the "Israel Stele" though I could have that wrong, that tells
> that Merenptah, pharaoh of Egypt, around 1220, I think,

Actually, the date that is accepted today is 1207/6.

> conquered four cities of Canaan and "Israel".

Actually three: Ashkelon, Gezer and Yeno'am, which are listed from south to
north. Then comes "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
> hill country with a very technologically sophisticated chariot being
> 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
> 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
> Apiru.
> The battle scene in the hill country was the defeat of Israel - and it
> 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.

This is all a matter of interpretation, since it's not clear just who, in
the picture, is supposed to be "Israel". If you ask me, they are the same as
the Shasu, and have nothing to do with the Apiru.

> A shockingly obscure fact

Only obscure to people who don't bother to learn history. Read any text on
the history of the Levant during the Bronze Age.

> is that Egypt had conquered Palestine, Canaan and
> Syria all the way to the Euphrates for most of the 18th and 19th dynasties

Actually, the Egyptian-controlled areas fell quite short of the Euphrates
for most of the period.

> and enslaved the people - and they periodically allied against the
> and revolted, whenever Egyptian control weakened and they thought they had
> chance.   Egypt had a policy of marching off tens of thousands of people
> 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.

I know of no text that mentions "Hebrews and Shasu" moving in. The Shasu are
mostly mentioned on the dessert fringes of the area. "Hebrews" ('Ibrim) are
not mentioned in any Bronze Age text. Assuming that Apiru=Hebrew is a huge

> 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.

Woah! That is pure science fiction!

   Not only does Thera correspond
> in time to mid Hyksos rule to mid 18th dynasty, but archaelogical finds
> tomb artwork, showing such things as pumice from Thera in a temple
> and the change of power in Crete that we know happened after Thera, make
> 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
> of thousands of people from Palestine to Egypt to work on state projects
> 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
> and Egyptian pharaohs rarely admitted loosing battles.   In fact, Ramses
> reported one of history's most ignominious defeats as a victory!     The

> Hyksos were Palestinian princes

Yassir Arafat and Abu-Mazen? (Sorry, I couldn't resist - I know that's not
what you meant!)

, albeit most likely Syrian ones, and they
> controlled all of Palestine along with Egypt.   The second wave of them
> probably Hurrians who had conquered all of Syria and ruled most towns of
> Palestine by the 18th dynasty.

More conjecture.

> Meanwhile the nobility of the tribe of Dan showed up in Mycenea and said
> they'd fled from "Egypt".

And this is based on...?

 They did.   They had recently been ejected from
> their own land, immediately northeast of Palestine,  by other invaders,
> 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
> 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,
> 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.

How do you know this? and Moabites "very integral to the early history of

> 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
> confederations.   Some were large and powerful.   One such confederation,
> 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
> David probably tells of an alliance between Moabite and Benjamite or
> Israelite chieftains.

What does Ruth have to do with Benjaminites?

   I am so vague on the details that I'm not sure it
> is not Saul who was a Benjamite!

He was.

But things in those hills were so chaotic
> David could easily have been part Benjamite too.

Why? What evidence?

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

I think I have.


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