[b-hebrew] Jericho, Rameses and iron

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Wed May 26 19:33:51 EDT 2004


I've lost track of who's arguing what, but someone out there (Karl? David?
Herm?) reads 2 Samuel 12:31 as proof that David ran "fairly extensive iron
works".

My reaction was:
> >
> >  The Hebrew does mention the word "barzel", which means "iron". But the
rest
> >  is so unclear, that the translation is anyone's guess. I've always read
it
> >  as meaning that he put the Ammonites through some sort of Iron "rack",
maybe
> >  as a form of torture. B-Hebrew people, let's discuss 2 Sam. 12:31!
> >
> >  In any case, that is hardly proof "that David ran extensive iron
works".
>

To which he said:
> Then how do you read the verse, "And he took the people who were in
> it (the capital city of Ammon) and he placed them with ore crushing
> and dividing out of iron and smelting of iron and with the brick kiln
> (Qere, Ketib has MLKN, any clue as to what that means?) and such he
> did to all the cities of the sons of Ammon, and David and all the
> people returned to Jerusalem."
>

New Living Translation:
He also made slaves of the people of Rabbah and forced them to labor with
saws, picks, and axes, and to work in the brick kilns. That is how he dealt
with the people of all the Ammonite cities. Then David and his army returned
to Jerusalem.

KJV:
And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws,
and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass
through the brickkiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children
of Ammon. So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem.

RSV:
And he brought forth the people who were in it, and set them to labor with
saws and iron picks and iron axes, and made them toil at the brickkilns; and
thus he did to all the cities of the Ammonites. Then David and all the
people returned to Jerusalem.

NRSV:
He brought out the people who were in it, and set them to work with saws and
iron picks and iron axes, or sent them to the brickworks. Thus he did to all
the cities of the Ammonites. Then David and all the people returned to
Jerusalem.

JPS:
And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws,
and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass
through the brickkiln; and thus did he unto all the cities of the children
of Ammon. And David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem

Which one of these mentions "ore crushing and dividing out of iron and
smelting of iron"?



> >
> >  That's fine, but again, I ask, where's the archaeological evidence that
the
> >  Philistines or David or anyone else in the Levant in the 11th century
used
> >  steel weapons?
> >
> Let's turn this on its head, where is there evidence that they didn't?
>
> Lack of archeological evidence is no proof either way.
>
> Textual evidence indicates that they did.
>
> Did not Rameses II have steel weapons for his troops?

I don't know. Did he?

According to
> your dates, was he not two centuries before David? What is to prevent
> the technology of steel tempering from migrating across the border
> from Egypt to next door in the Levant unless they practiced
> restriction of access to the technology as was the practice of the
> Philistines? Is there evidence that Rameses did that?
> >  >
> >  > 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
> >  > origin.
> >
> >  Could be. But "hoplite" is Greek, and does not appear in the Hebrew
Bible.
>
> How about 2 Samuel 8:18, 15:18, 20:7, 23, 1 Kings 1:38, 44, 1 Chronicles
18:17.

I'm sorry. It's not there. How do you spell "hoplite" in Hebrew?

> >
>
> OK, OK, I'm reading into it the context that the Philistines had
> access to steel tempering which gave them military superiority. The
> farm tools mentioned are those best made of steel.

What you mean, is that you're reading your own assumptions into the text.

> >
> >  Generally speaking, the lack of archaeological evidence of widespread
use of
> >  Iron during what is called the "Iron I Period" has led many scholars to
the
> >  conclusion (with which I agree) that most mention of Iron in Joshua,
Judges
> >  and Samuel is anachronistic, and should not be made to much of.
> >  Let's remember, that the texts we are dealing with were written
hundreds of
> >  years after the events, by authors who no real knowledge of archaeology
or
> >  critical historical methodology.
> >
> Just because ancient peoples didn't make wide use of a metal does not
> mean that they didn't have access to it. For example, Scandinavian
> flint made excellent wood chopping ax heads. They were so good that
> even well into the iron age, woodsmen were still using flint axes to
> chop down trees (or so say the historians I read). Similarly, up
> until fairly recently, a typical Chinese peasant often had only three
> pieces of steel in his house-a wok, cooking knife and sickle after
> steel had been available for millennia.
>
And an archaeologist would probably find SOME woks, knives and sickles.


> But then the "Iron I Period" could actually have been either late
> bronze age or transitional period when some had access to steel and
> many not.

Don't be fooled by the names "Bronze Age" and "Iron Age". These names were
"imported" into Middle Eastern archaeology by early 20th century European
archaeologists who were used to using technological advances for
periodization, and then given "set dates" which match historical events. In
reality, the one thing that did NOT happen in the Late Bronze - Iron I
transition is the widespread use of iron. Some iron was used before, not
much more was used for a couple of centuries later.

>
> The dating of the texts has absolutely no basis in either history nor
> archeology. The "hundreds of years after the events" is totally a
> philosophical (a 50¢ word for religious) fabrication. I personally
> think that the record preserved in an ancient text, even if it is the
> only text dealing with a particular subject, tends to be more
> accurate than religiously based reconstructions,

You are right. The Bible, however, IS a "religiously based reconstruction",
and NOT a historical text.

Yigal






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