[b-hebrew] Jericho, Rameses, & San Fransisco

kwrandolph kwrandolph at email.com
Tue May 25 04:24:10 EDT 2004

Dear Yigal:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>

>  ----- Original Message -----
>  From: "kwrandolph" <kwrandolph at email.com>
>  > Dear David:
>  But I'll butt in as usual,
>  >
>  > I read a book a while back attributing Beitek (sp?) claim that the
>  > site of the Hyksos capital, Avaris, was built on the site of an
>  > Egyptian port that had a pre-Hyksos name of pi-Rameses.
>  On what evidence? Textual? Archaeological? Why would a city be called
>  pi-Rameses before the reign of the first king by that name? Or does this
>  theory also know of a king Rameses that nobody else does?

Who says that the port had to be named after a pharaoh? Especially, 
as I remember it, it was a fairly unimportant port before the Hyksos 
came and made it their capital. The evidence, according to the 
attribution, was archeological.
>   That Israel
>  > called it by its pre-Hyksos name indicates that they had come to
>  > Egypt before the Hyksos. After the Hyksos were expelled, the site
>  > remained unimportant until the time of Rameses I or thereabouts.
>  >
>  > Thus there is no need to posit either a late date of Jacob's arrival
>  > in Egypt nor that later writers were writing anachronistically.
>  >
>  > Years ago I came to the conclusion that Exodus occurred during the
>  > time of the Hyksos who were concerned that Israel would pose a danger
>  > to them. Israel called the Hyksos pharaoh "Egyptian" because he ruled
>  > Egypt (the same way later writers called the Mongol rulers "Chinese"
>  > or in more recent times the Manchus).
>  This last part is possible.
>  The fly in my understanding is
>  > that the traditional dates for the Hyksos is earlier than the Exodus,
>  > but then I learned that other writers more learned than I also
>  > question the traditional dates, making my understanding a possibility.
>  ONE MINUTE HERE! You write as if the date of the Exodus is fixed and known,
>  while that of the Hyksos is only a "tradition" which is still debated. WHile
>  it is true that Egyptologists do still debate chronology, the dabate is
>  about decades, not centuries. The Exodus, however, is not even proven to
>  have BEEN a historical event, not to mention its chronology.

I have never considered any of the dates set in stone. Even if the 
dates in Tanakh were 100% accurate, (I accept the possibility of 
copyist errors) anchoring those dates to modern chronology can be off 
by decades, depending on who one reads. At least I've noticed that 
dates differ, depending on who I read.

So, taking a guess for the time of the Exodus, we get ca. 1450 ± 50 
years. Rameses II who lived ca. 1200-900 (he lived almost a century) 
falls well outside that range. The expulsion of the Hyksos, ca. 
1600-1400 falls within that range.

My understanding from history is that after the Hyksos were expelled, 
the native Egyptians tried to destroy all record of the Hyksos 
presence. So if the Exodus occurred during the Hyksos period, it is 
very unlikely that any record of that event from the Hyksos side 
should survive.
>  >
>  > If the traditional dates are off by two or more centuries as some
>  > have claimed, that would put the beginning of the iron age at the
>  > time of King David. Tanakh mentions that David ran extensive iron
>  > works.
>  Where?

2 Samuel 12:31 David took the people of Ammon (which I understand to 
be a good sized crowd which I understand to number into the hundreds, 
if not thousands) and put them to work with ore crushers and 
"refining and smelting iron". That would indicate fairly extensive 
iron works.
>  That would explain how Israel, a small, weak country with a
>  > history of being a vassal nation to its neighbors, could suddenly
>  > become a world power under David: he had wrested the secret of
>  > tempering iron into steel from the Philistines and armed his soldiers
>  > with steel while his enemies were all still armed with bronze.
>  What evidence is there that the 11th century Philistines used iron or steel?
>  And if they did, than David's learning the "secret" would make him only as
>  technologically advanced as they were, not more advanced.

Years ago, there was an article in Scientific American (my parents 
had those lying around the house while I was growing up) asking the 
question, why iron? There are many disadvantages to it: wrought iron 
is softer than bronze, more brittle, rusts, harder to smelt, and not 
as pretty. It was known, even fairly early in the bronze age, but not 
widely used for those reasons. But if one tempers iron into steel 
with the addition of the proper impurities, it is harder than bronze, 
holds a better edge, yet is more flexible, less likely to break and 
is stronger. So for "iron" to supplant bronze as the weapons of 
choice, we are talking about tempered steel, not wrought iron.

Even though technologically speaking, David was equal to the 
Philistines, apparently he had a larger army than they. Even so, I 
suspect several military terms (e.g. "hoplite") were Philistine 

Even as early as Joshua, the people of the plain, later identified as 
Philistines, were mentioned as having weapons of "iron". During the 
time when Israel was a vassal state to the Philistines, Tanakh 
mentions that Israelites had to go to Philistine smiths to have their 
farm implements worked on. Furthermore, it was repeatedly mentioned 
that Israel had no swords (fewer than 10 to the nation) so the 
picture I get is that the Philistines deliberately restricted 
knowledge of tempering steel as a state secret for its military 

>  >
>  > While my understanding is not the statements of an expert (my main
>  > interest being lexicography) I don't see how it can be ruled out.
>  How about lack of evidence?

Depends on what you count as evidence Š :-)
>  Yigal

Karl W. Randolph.

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list