[b-hebrew] Joshua 15: 52-59: Hill Country Cities?

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Tue Dec 30 16:18:42 EST 2008

Dear Jim,

Excuse me for being "mainstream". Sometimes innovations are good - they
advance research. But most of the time, arguing with established scholarly
meathod will get you nowhere.

As I wrote, the specific date of the Josh 15 list does not really effect the
geography involved. The list clearly divides the land of Judah into four
well-recognized geographical zones: The Negev, the Shephelah, The Hills and
the Desert. Claiming that the list suddenly shifts to the Ayalon Valley
(which is actually part of the Shephelah, which had already been dealt with)
without saying so does not make sense.

Since Halhul apears together wth well-known Hill towns like Beth gader and
Beth-Zur, why look for it elsewhere? And since there IS an identical Arabic
toponym in the same area, why doubt that they are the same place?
Identifying biblical sites by their names being preserved in modern Arabic
is a well-established procedure, which is NOT based on the idea that "people
in Palestine in the Middle Ages and later would have logically chosen names
for their small villages based on Biblical names", as you write, but on
continuity of settlement by speakers of Semitic languages through history,
who passed the names, often without understanding them, from Canaanite to
Hebrew to Aramaic to Arabic. True, this does not work in all cases, and many
false identifications have been made in the past, but the fact that there
just happens to be a village named Halhul in just the area which MOST people
who have read Josh. 15 and know the land think that it must be, is probably
not just a coincidence. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and
waddles like a duck, it probably is a duck. The later sources only confirm 
this identification, they are not what it is based on.

As far as HRKR of the Thutmose III list: yes, 104 is Gezer and 105 is 
Raba(t)h, probably the same as the last "Hill-country" town listed in Josh. 
15:60, which only shows that the geographical logic of the 15th century 
Egyptian scribe was not exactly the same as that of the Judahite scribe 
centuries later. No surprise there. Most of the preceeding towns on the 
Thutmose list are unidentified - Aharoni lists them as being in the Upper 
Galilee, but there are other possibilities. Your claim that no. 100, YRT, is 
Ayalon, will doubtless be supported by more linguistic gymnastics and 
circular reasoning. I can't wait.
Yes, I know that Egyptian R can represent Semitic L. But K is not Heth, and 
the fact that "The Internet (sic!) states:  “In modern Israeli Hebrew the 
sound value of Chaph [kaf without the dagesh] is the same as that of heth….” 
is both false and irrelevant.

Both Karl and I have explained why the Ayalon valley is not listed in the 
Judahite list - it was part of the allotment of Dan, while Gezer itself was 
part of Ephraim. So why insist on what's not there?

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <JimStinehart at aol.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 4:40 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Joshua 15: 52-59: Hill Country Cities?

> Dear Prof. Yigal Levin:
> We all learned a lot from your informative post, and we thank you for
> that.
> But let me take issue with the fact that in your post, you support the
> following two mainstream scholarly views:
> (1)    Joshua was composed “late”:  “it cannot reflect the reality of
> Joshua’
> s day and so must reflect a later period, sometime during the Monarchy”.
> (2)    Joshua asserts that every city listed at Joshua 15: 48-60 is
> located
> in hill country, south of Jerusalem:  “the Hill Country 48-60”.
> If your view were correct, then none of the cities in the Aijalon Valley
> on
> the Thutmosis III list would be found at Joshua 15: 52-59.  Or to put the
> matter the other way round, I can prove that your mainstream scholarly
> view of this
> matter is wrong, if I can show that 5 cities in the Aijalon Valley are
> both
> (i) on the Thutmosis III list, and (ii) in Joshua 15: 52-59.
> In this post, I will limit myself to discussing one city that you yourself
> raised in your post:  Halhul.
> In your point #7, you wrote:
> “7. True, not all of the towns in the list can be identified. But of the
> towns that Jim would like to "transfer" from the Shephelah to the Ayalon
> Valley
> (52-59), quite a few ARE identified in the Hills, either through
> additional
> references to them or through preservation of their names to this day in
> Arabic,
> or by both means. These include Dumah, Beth-tappuah, Maon, Ziph, Carmel
> and
> Juttah in the southern district, and Halhul, Beth-zur and Gedor in the
> area north
> of Hebron and south of Bethlehem. Maarath, while itself unidentified, is
> clearly within this district.”
> Reading what you said closely, you seem to be saying that you have no
> support
> whatsoever for your view of Halhul from secular historical documents that
> pre-date the common era.  You talk about “preservation of their names to
> this day
> in Arabic”.  I myself cannot imagine a less credible source than that.
> Given
> the likelihood that people in Palestine in the Middle Ages and later would
> have logically chosen names for their small villages based on Biblical
> names, I
> cannot for the life of me see how an Arabic town name could possibly prove
> or
> disprove any Biblical city name under any circumstances.
> Your delicate reference to “additional references to them” means, I
> presume,
> other references in the Bible, not references from secular historical
> sources
> from a time period prior to the common era.  But there is no other
> reference
> in the Bible to Halhul.
> I fear that your view of Halhul may be based on a source from the 14th
> century AD, as well as two early common era sources whose letters do not
> seem at all
> similar to Halhul to me:
> “[Halhul] is conspicuous from a considerable distance on account of its
> ancient mosque, Wely Nebi Yulnas, the "shrine of the Prophet Jonah"--a
> tradition
> going back at least to the 14th century. The mosque, which has a minaret
> or
> tower, is built upon a rock platform artificially leveled. In the 14th
> century it
> was stated by Isaac Chilo (a Jewish pilgrim) that the tomb of Gad the Seer
> (_1
> Sam 22:5_ (http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=1sa&chapter=22&verse=5) ;
> _2
> Sam 24:11_ (http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=2sa&chapter=24&verse=11)
> f)
> was situated in this town. Beth-zur (Belt Sur) and Gedor (Jedur) are both
> near.
> In Josephus (BJ, IV, ix, 6) we read of an Alurus (where the Idumeans
> assembled), and in Jerome (OS 119 7) of a village Alula near Hebron, which
> both
> probably refer to the same place (PEF, III, 305; Sh XXI).”  From ISBE
> here:
> _http://net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Halhul_
> (http://net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Halhul)
> Do you have better sources for Halhul than the above?  The above seem to
> me
> to be very weak sources, that either do not pre-date the Middle Ages, or
> that
> do not seem at all close to the letters in Halhul.
> For my part, I see Halhul as being located in the Aijalon Valley, pursuant
> to
> a corresponding mid-15th century BCE inscription on the Thutmosis III
> list.
> Let me set forth my evidence for that assertion, based on the
> well-documented
> secular history of the Late Bronze Age (rather than relying on any common
> era
> sources).
> HRKuR = Biblical “Halhul”.  HRKuR is item #101 on the Thutmosis III list.
> In my view, items #100 - #106 on the Thutmosis III list are 7 straight
> cities
> in or near the Aijalon Valley.  Item #100 is the city of Aijalon (as can
> be
> discussed in a later post).  Everyone agrees that item #104 is Gezer.  So
> HRKuR,
> being between the cities of Aijalon and Gezer on the Thutmosis III list,
> should logically itself be located in the Aijalon Valley.
> The question then is whether HRKuR and Biblical Halhul are a linguistic
> match.  (On my reading of Joshua, the towns listed at Joshua 15: 52-59 are
> n-o-t
> expressly asserted by Joshua to be in hill country, so it is little
> surprise
> if many such towns are located in or near the Aijalon Valley, west of hill
> country.)
> In HRKuR on the Thutmosis III list, the H has a dot under it, meaning that
> it
> is one type of heth/X.  (Hebrew has only one heth, so both of the two
> earlier
> types of heths come into Biblical Hebrew as heth/X.)  Each R, as is
> probably
> the case slightly over half the time on the Thutmosis III list, represents
> a
> lamed/L here.  (For example, RWS at item #31 on the Thutmosis III list is
> Biblical “Laish”/historical “Lus”, where the Egyptian R represents a
> Hebrew
> lamed/L.  That is why Nadav Na’aman in my earlier post said that Egyptian
> R could
> be either resh/R or lamed/L.)
> The K in HRKuR is not a regular K.  Rather, it is an unusual letter that
> only
> appears in 2 of the 119 items on the Thutmosis III list, and never at the
> beginning of a name.  This special Egyptian K represents two sounds, not
> just
> one.  The second sound is now often thought to be a U, so Anson Rainey
> shows a U
> after the K here.  That would be a vav/W in Biblical Hebrew.  The first
> sound
> is more difficult to pin down, as its pronunciation is not certain.  We
> might
> normally guess kaf/K (or perhaps qof/Q) as the Hebrew equivalent of the
> first
> sound, but then again, the Hebrew letter kaf/K is usually represented by a
> regular Egyptian K.  So we cannot be sure what the Hebrew letter
> equivalent would
> be here for this special Egyptian K.  A kaf/K in Hebrew sometimes sounds
> quite a bit like a heth/X.  So although kaf/K would probably be our first
> guess
> for this rare Egyptian K, a heth/X might well be our second guess.  The
> Internet
> states:  “In modern Israeli Hebrew the sound value of Chaph [kaf without
> the
> dagesh] is the same as that of heth….”  We do not know the exact
> pronunciations for either ancient, special Egyptian K or early Biblical
> Hebrew heth/X, but
> they likely were somewhat similar.  We do know for certain that the
> Thutmosis
> III list has a somewhat different usage of heths than does Biblical
> Hebrew.
> So our first guess as to this special Egyptian K would probably be
> kaf-vav/KW
> in Biblical Hebrew, and our second guess could well be heth-vav/XW.
> If we go with the second guess, we have a letter-for-letter equivalent at
> Joshua 15: 58!
> HRKuR = XLXWL = heth-lamed-heth-vav-lamed/Halhul, which is letter for
> letter
> what we find at Joshua 15: 58.
> Yigal Levin, do you have a secular historical source from prior to the
> Middle
> Ages that supports your contention that Halhul is located “in the area
> north
> of Hebron and south of Bethlehem”, and that is a closer linguistic match
> than
> my proposed match of Biblical Halhul to HRKuR at item #101 on the
> Thutmosis
> III list?
> We do need to consider that I am comparing what’s said in Joshua to a
> mid-15th century BCE listing done by an Egyptian scribe.  So it’s no real
> surprise if
> the treatments of heths are somewhat different in those two ancient
> sources.
> I myself see HRKuR on the mid-15th century BCE Thutmosis III list as being
> a
> much closer linguistic match to Biblical Halhul than, for example, either
> Alurus (Josephus, in the 1st century AD) or Alula (Jerome, in the 4th –
> 5th
> century AD).  I see no heth/X in either “Alurus” or “Alula”, yet certainly
> the
> heth/X, or some rough equivalent harsh sound, is a critically important
> letter.
> HRKuR starts with a heth/X, and the two sounds of the special Egyptian K
> probably are somewhat similar in sound to a heth-vav/XW in Biblical
> Hebrew.  So it
> seems to me that my proposed match is closer linguistically than anything
> else
> I’ve seen prior to the Middle Ages.  As to looking at modern Arabic town
> names, I myself give that approach zero credibility.  Arabic town names
> often were
> simply taken from the Bible in modern times.
> Do you have anything from a secular historical source prior to the common
> era
> to support your view as to where Halhul was located in ancient times?  I
> consider my proposed linguistic match from the mid-15th century BCE to be
> a very
> close linguistic match, which would place Halhul in the Aijalon Valley.
> Are
> your sources providing a linguistic match that is that close or closer?
> My
> approach would tend to validate the antiquity of some of Joshua’s sources
> of
> Canaan city names.  So a lot is riding on this issue.
> If you would set forth your secular historical source(s) for Biblical
> Halhul,
> then people on the b-hebrew list can evaluate what the secular historical
> basis is for Biblical Halhul.  I see Biblical Halhul as dating back at
> least to
> the mid-15th century BCE.  That’s a pretty exciting match to my
> interpretation
> of Joshua 15: 52-59.  If you want to recite the modern Arabic town name of
> Halhul, I guess I cannot stop you from doing that.  But for the life of
> me, I
> cannot see how that modern Arabic town name proves anything, other than
> that
> people in Palestine in  m-o-d-e-r-n  times often have chosen their village
> names
> from Biblical names.
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
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