[b-hebrew] Hebrew-speaking Philistines

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Sat Oct 20 19:54:14 EDT 2007


Thanks for the informative answer.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Oct 20, 2007, at 7:43 PM, Yigal Levin wrote:

> A lot has been written about the Philistines' presumed  
> acculturazation. On
> one hand, we know that the Philistines arrived together with other  
> so-called
> "Sea Peoples", from the Aegean Sea area and there are aspects of their
> material culture and even the little we knw of some of their names and
> language which do signify an Aegean origin. The Bible also ties  
> them to
> Kittim or Chaphtor - Crete or maybe Cypress.
> On the other hand, those Aegean immigrants were a minority who  
> settled among
> a largely Canaanite population, and quickly began assimilating  
> Canaanite
> influences. For example, some of the Philistine cultic artifacts are
> different from Canaanite ones. On the other hand, "Dagon" and "Baal  
> Zebub"
> (or, more probably, "Baal Zebul") are Canaanite divine names. SO,  
> did the
> Philistines begin worshiping Canaanite gods, or did they identify  
> their old
> gods with equivalent Canaanite gods (such syncretism was very  
> common), or
> was it just the writers of  the Bible who did the identifying?  
> Remember,
> neither god is known from any Philistine inscription.
> So yes, chances are that Philistines and Israelites could  
> understand each
> other, even if the Philistine "upper classes" also had their own  
> Aegean
> language. But that's really not the point that interests the author of
> Judges. He has the Philistines speaking good Hebrew because it's  
> convenient
> for him to do so. Judges 13-16 is not a factual word-for-word  
> account of
> historical events. It's a story, a re-telling of events that may or  
> may not
> have happened, but in any case written in such a way as to get  
> messages
> across to a Hebrew-speaking audience, and so written in good  
> Hebrew. Having
> to deal with the question of just how well Samson and the Philistines
> understood each other would have made the storytelling complicated,  
> and
> since it's not important to the story, the writer did not bother  
> with it.
> Yigal Levin
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Isaac Fried" <if at math.bu.edu>
> To: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
> Cc: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2007 1:03 AM
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] b-hebrew Digest, Vol 58, Issue 18
>> Yigal,
>> You are right. Still here is a detailed story of a simple [very]   
>> young
>> Hebrew man, the son of simple God fearing people, freely   
>> interacting with
>> the Philistines [and their daughters]. It is, of  course, possible  
>> that
>> Samson, after years of dealing with them  learned their language  
>> and that
>> the famous, remarkably worded, XIDAH  is given to us in  
>> translation. It is
>> also possible that the town of  TIMNATAH was a mixed town. But it is
>> equally possible that the  Philistines spoke a Hebrew dialect.
>> As far as I can recall not one of their names, including that of   
>> their god, is unmistakably non Semitic.
>> Isaac Fried, Boston University
>> On Oct 20, 2007, at 4:38 PM, Yigal Levin wrote:
>>> In the Bible, or at least most of it, everyone speaks good  
>>> Hebrew.  So do
>>> the
>>> Egyptians in Genesis and Exodus, the Midianites in Exodus and   
>>> Judges,
>>> the
>>> Moabites in Judges, Arameans in Kings, all of the sailors and  
>>> the  people
>>> of
>>> Nineveh in Jonah and so on. This is just one more indication that  
>>> the
>>> biblical authors did not intend to write word-for-word historical
>>> accounts
>>> of actual events - they had messages to get across, and wanted those
>>> messages to be as clear as possible to their intended audience -   
>>> who of
>>> course spoke Hebrew. Only in those few places in which the  
>>> foreigners'
>>> language was a part of the story did the writers make an effort  
>>> to  make
>>> them
>>> sound foreign.
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