[b-hebrew] OT- perspective (was Josiah's book of the Law)

Brian Roberts formoria at carolina.rr.com
Sun Aug 7 10:12:32 EDT 2005

On Saturday, August 6, 2005, at 08:03  PM, Yitzhak Sapir wrote:

> On 8/5/05, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:
>> Dear Yitzhak,
>>> Where is "and the empire that he fought?"  Besides building an ivory 
>>> house,
>>> I don't see any thing that is so different from other kings who didn't
>>> successfully defend against the Assyrian empire.
>> HH: You seem to be requiring the Bible to give a
>> certain piece of information to be fair or
>> complete. But that is a subjective, obviously
>> debatable position to take.
> Besides the following paragraph, I also relate to the comment of 
> subjectivity
> in my reply to Brian, below.
> I am not sure why it is so subjective.  If the Bible doesn't provide us 
> with
> a certain relatively important piece of information regarding a king, 
> it is by
> definition incomplete.  It may be due to the Biblical editor's 
> subjective
> assessments.  But essentially, we cannot take the Bible as historically
> complete since we are bound by the Biblical editor's subjective
> assessments on various events in history.  That is, we cannot make our 
> own
> assessments.  Now, the statement I originally responded to in this 
> thread
> went: "If only other historical sources were so complete and so honest 
> about
> the failings of their kings."  This statement reflects completeness
> and reliability
> only so far as "failings" are concerned.  In this case, the issue of 
> Ahab and
> Mesha is interesting in that it appears that a failing of Ahab is not 
> conveyed
> reliably.  However, in the precursor of this thread, Mr James Read made 
> a much
> more sweeping statement: "10) Fragments of ancient letters, while they 
> do give
> us the possibility to view things from the perspective of other
> nations, can hardly
> compete against the completeness of records such as Kings and Chronicles
> whose agendas were to faithfully represent the history of a nation
> that believed
> that lying was one of the worst and most punishable of sins."  Now 
> "fragments
> of ancient letters" appears to be James' belittling term for 
> archaeological
> evidence.  It is not signficant evidence, only "letters."  It is not
> complete, only
> "fragments."  This and other recent comments by James Read have the 
> effect
> of attacking scholarship for the reason that study is unnecessary.  
> Rather than
> studying scholarship written by scholars motivated to write conspiracy 
> theories
> against the Bible (it can't possibly be that their motivation is to
> better understand
> the true signficance of the Bible) because of the pressure to produce 
> original
> studies (impossible, since all knowledge is known beforehand and passed 
> by
> tradition) one should only study the "traditional" sources.  It almost
> appears that
> he would create a new commandment "Thou shalt not study!"
> It is in light of this extreme belief in the uselessness of
> scholarship that the Battle
> of Qarqar should be viewed.  A battle by Ahab against the Assyrian 
> empire is a
> signficant event.  But Read would have me believe that the Bible is so 
> complete
> that a "fragment" of the Assyrian king relating to the battle will
> teach me nothing
> about Israelite history but only about Assyrian history.  For Read,
> Israelite history
> is represented faithfully, completely, and honestly by the Bible.  And
> it is in light
> of this sweeping definition of completeness, that the absence of the
> Battle of Qarqar
> should be viewed.
>> HH: I am not sure that losing a dependency is
>> necessarily the disaster 1 Kings 21:28-29 had in
>> mind anyway. It is possible that Ahab did suffer
>> some losses of territory to the Moabites, but
>> that would not necessarily be disastrous like the
>> great wrath that came on Israel in Joram's time
>> in his war against Moab (2 Kings 3:27).
>> So we can well say that
>> the prophecy of 1 Kings 21:28-29 was fulfilled in
>> the days of Ahab's son, even leaving aside the
>> problems with Moab.
> The revolt of Moab is represented as the dissolution of the "Israelite
> empire" and
> the institution of vassalship that Israel instituted in Moab.  It
> should be clear that
> vassalship is related to a show of force.  "If you don't want me to 
> completely
> conquer you, you will pay tax."  Kings who refrain from paying the tax
> are due to
> see a show of force by the conqueror.  If the previous can indeed get 
> away with
> paying tax without the military price, he has successfully revolted.  If
> Israel cannot defend itself against a personal loss of territory to
> the Moabites, it
> evidently cannot impose the vassalship.  Thus, the revolt, as
> represented by the
> Bible, refers to a more initial stage than that represented by the 
> Mesha stele.
> The second issue is: Is this revolt related to the Biblical claim of
> evil upon Ahab's
> son.  The evil spoken of in 1 Kings 21:28-29, is related to the evil
> described in vs.
> 21-22.  Simply said, it described the fall of Ahab's house.  But this
> fall, while also
> having personal ramifications, must necessarily include also wider
> ramifications.
> Moab's revolt against Ahab's empire is such a ramification.  It 
> furthermore
> becomes clear that while the Bible does not tie the revolt of Israel,
> Libnah, or
> Edom to the death of a particular king, the revolt of Moab is directly
> tied to the
> death of Ahab.  In fact, in 2 Kings 3:5 the word "kmwt" (as opposed to
> ")xry") is
> used: "As Ahab died," which is ambiguous.  It could mean after, but it
> could also
> mean "in Ahab's last days."  It almost appears as if the author of 3:5 
> wants to
> make the point that the revolt occured after Ahab died, but can't, 
> because he
> realizes it did not, so he attempts to gloss it over.  And if we now
> ask "why did
> he feel the need to mark it after Ahab died," verses 1 Kings 21:28-29 
> come to
> mind.
> So the question is not "is the prophecy of 1 Kings 21:28-29 fulfilled
> even without the
> mention of Mesha's revolt."  The prophecy likely relates to not one
> evil, but to all the
> "evils" that would lead to the fall of Ahab's house, and this includes
> the dissolution of
> his empire, and the revolt of Mesha.  Of course, claiming that the
> prophecy was fulfilled
> anyway is a claim without supporting evidence.  The Bible says events
> that fulfilled
> the prophecy happened later, but we cannot confirm it, especially in
> light of the
> Mesha stele.  It is even worse to try to make a comment based on the 
> length of
> reign, accepting the length of reign given in the book of Kings as
> authoritative and
> hence dismissing the Mesha stele.  The Mesha stele is more
> authoritative for this
> issue than the figure of length of reign given in the Bible, and the
> reign lengths in the
> Bible are problematic anyway and at times are at odds with one another.
> On 8/5/05, Brian Roberts wrote:
>> On Friday, August 5, 2005, at 12:29  PM, Yitzhak Sapir wrote:
>>> Perhaps.  I mean, without a specific inscription I wouldn't know.
>>> But, in order to
>>> name such a specific inscription he has to (1) name one, then (2) to
>>> show that we
>>> know that it is not complete, then (3) to show that we know that it is
>>> not honest, then
>> So, the assumption here begins with the assumption of honesty on the
>> part of Egyptian inscriptions?
>>> (4) to show that there is a place in the Bible that is more complete
>>> than this
>>> particular source, then (5) to show that that same place in the Bible
>>> is more honest.
>> And the assumption here begins that the biblical text is more than
>> dishonest? Or more than honest?
>>> (2) and (3) are tricky, but not as tricky as (4) and (5).
> I did not create the logic of the statement.  The original statement was
> "If only other historical sources were so complete and so honest about 
> the
> failings of their kings."  What I wrote above is simply the necessary
> assertions needed to stand behind the statement.  Of course, simply 
> claiming
> that the statement is subjective and depends on the individuals personal
> beliefs reduces the force of the statement.  "Other historical sources
> are not as complete and as honest about the failings of their kings, if 
> you
> assume that the Bible is complete and honest" just doesn't have that
> same ring to it.  So claiming subjectivity reduces the force of the
> statement significantly.  Your problem with the apparent incosistency,
> however, should be alleviated by the fact that the completeness of one 
> is
> to be compared to the completeness of the other.  How do you measure
> completeness? I don't know.  Perhaps by drawing up a list of events in 
> the
> reign of the king and seeing how many are mentioned and disclosed and
> how many are related by external sources, then seeing which one has a
> greater percentage of mentioned events?  In any case, some measure
> must be developed for completeness, and the same for reliability.  Then
> the two can be compared.  Because the measures are compared, it
> appears to me that the assumptions behind the base claims are the same.

I was not addressing biblical completeness versus Egyptian inscription 
completeness. I was addressing honesty, as I thought was clear, since I 
did so several times. I am not sure how you or anyone else addresses 
honesty in this context. Both sides in every battle tells the story 
differently. Why should the biblical writers be different? As for 
completeness, of course we all know that the bible is not a complete 
record. To suggest that it mentions everything, or even everything of 
significance, (of course our interests as researchers and scholars might 
be more prurient than the ancients would appreciate) is to expose one's 
own ignorance of the fact that the bible tells a story. That is its 
focus. As to where it deviates from that focus, then maybe those 
elements give us better insight into the ancient Israelites than their 
overall story arc. Obviously, the intent of the biblical writings was 
not to record complete king lists. They may have done so elsewhere. We 
simply do not know. There are internal references which abound, 
referring to alleged source documents that may have filled in the blanks.

> On 8/5/05, Peter Kirk wrote:
>> How about Ramesses II's records of his "victory" at Kadesh, when we 
>> know
>> from other sources that it was at most a matter of salvaging some 
>> honour
>> from what was nearly an ignominious rout? No need to appeal to the 
>> Bible
>> for confirmation, we have that from other archaeological records.
> The following are Ahlstrom's comments: " ... The Battle is well known 
> not only
> from inscriptions, but also from scenes on the temple wall at Karnak 
> and at
> other temples in Egypt and in Nubia.  The texts are known as the 'Poem'
> and the 'Bulletin.' ... It is difficult to get a reliable picture of
> the events of
> this battle from the records of Ramesses II.  ..."  I do not find 
> reference to
> Hittite descriptions of this battle in various history books I have on
> hand, which
> suggests that the negative outcome of the Battle is known by comparing 
> this
> Egyptian inscription to other Egyptian sources (such as the fact that
> Ramesses makes more campaigns to the area).
> And even so, that is only proving that it is not reliable.  If Ramesses 
> II lies
> about his loss at Qadesh and describes it as a victory, then the 
> Ramesseside
> inscriptions are "complete" in the sense they also tell us about the 
> failings of
> the king.  They are just not reliable, in that they don't reliably 
> describe the
> outcome.  And then, you still have to compare it to the Bible. Now, in 
> the Bible
> you may be used to "reconcile" or "harmonize" inconsistencies, between 
> Biblical
> verses themselves or between the Bible and the Mesha stele (as with 
> Howard
> above).  But this analysis of the "victory" of Qadesh is necessarily a 
> result of
> not applying this harmonization or reconciliation to Egyptian
> inscriptions.  If we
> did, we probably could remain with a "honest" "reconciled and
> harmonized" account
> of a "true victory" at Qadesh.
> Yitzhak Sapir
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Best Salaams,

R. Brian Roberts
Amateur Researcher in Biblical Archaeology

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