[b-hebrew] Akhenaten and the Hebrew Religion

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Thu Jul 22 23:25:13 EDT 2004

On Thursday 22 July 2004 20:46, MarianneLuban at aol.com wrote:
> In a message dated 7/22/2004 4:01:42 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
> dwashbur at nyx.net writes:
> > > formoria at carolina.rr.com writes:
> > > > Marianne, let me put a question to you: how do we know that biblical
> > > > Zoan is Tanis/San el-Hagar? Apart from the assumption that the
> > > > references must be to the capital of Ramesside Egypt, I mean?
> > >
> > > It is assumed mainly on philological grounds.  In hieroglyphs, Zoan is
> > > spelled "Dan.t".  As James Hoch ably demonstrates in his work "Semitic
> > > Words In Egyptian Texts", Egyptian /D/ corresponds with Semitic "z". 
> > > As you probably know, the Egyptians wrote only with consonants, /a/
> > > being one of them.  Mostly, it has been assumed this was vocalized like
> > > Semitic "ayin"--but this has been questioned by some philologists with
> > > good
> >
> > reason.
> >
> > >  There are many indications that /a/ was pronounced  something like "o"
> > > and, if not, some foreigners tended to hear an "o" there. The true "a"
> > > in Zoan was likely the unwritten vowel and, of course, final /t/ is
> >
> > silent--as
> >
> > > it usually is in Egyptian.  In the Coptic Bible(Coptic being the
> > > ultimate stage of the Egyptian language) Zoan is written "djane" (due
> > > to the fact that the final silent /t/ always demands a preceding vowel
> > > sound) and the Arabs call Tanis "San el Hagar" or "San of the Stone".
> > > "Tanis" is the
> >
> > Greek
> >
> > > version only.  The fact remains is that certain sounds can only be
> > > approximated with foreign graphic systems.  If Zoan is not Tanis--then
> > > one scarcely knows what other place it can have been.
> >
> > I see massive speculation here, as well as questionable phonology. What,
> > in your opinion, is the "questionable phonology"?  I would be happy to
> > discuss that with you, as Egyptian phonology is a favorite area of study
> > with me. As for the "massive speculation", that is not mine.  Zoan has
> > been accepted as Tanis for a very long time.  This place occupied a
> > strategic position on the east side of the Tanitic branch of the Nile and
> > therefore was important to peoples to the east when it came to dealings
> > with Egypt.  It was the refuge of Hadad the Edomite.
> > The fact that pharaoh lived there is indicated in Isaiah 19:11.  "The
> > princes of Zoan are utter fools; the wisest counsellors of Pharaoh are a
> > senseless council."  Isaiah 30:2 says "They walk to go down to Egypt...to
> > take refuge in the stronghold of Pharaoh and to take shelter in the
> > shadow of Egypt...for his princes are at Zoan..."

Isaiah is considerably later, of course, and so shouldn't enter into the 
discussion if we're talking centuries before his time.

> > At this time, the Tanite Dynasty was still strong.  One of their number,
> > Sheshonq I, had conquered Judah and looted the temple.  For that the
> > wrath of the prophets was directed at Zoan.  I prefer to shave my legs
> > with Occam's Razor.  The simplest explanation.  However, if you have
> > another site in Egypt that you think is a better candidate for Zoan, I
> > would be interested in hearing about that.

The Sheshonq/Shishak identification has been seriously called into question, 
and with good reason both linguistically and in terms of time line, but I 
won't go into that.  Suffice to say that stating such things as if they were 
absolute fact shouldn't be done.  The "conventional wisdom" THINKS it's the 
case, but again, we're not certain.  And apparently you didn't read my final 
paragraph below, because in it I said I don't really see the need to find a 
"better candidate."  It's clear that I'm not going to get through, so I'm out 
of this topic.

>  As for the
> > last sentence, who says it has to be a place that is already known?  I'm
> > all
> >
> > too familiar with the tendency to try and associate the unknown with
> > something known, but it's a tendency that often needs to be resisted if
> > we are to make true progress.  "I don't know where it was" really is a
> > legitimate answer in this type of context, and the fact is that we don't
> > know
> > where this Zoan was.
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Dave Washburn
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