[b-hebrew] Joshua 15: 52-59: Hill Country Cities?
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Dec 31 10:47:46 EST 2008
Dear Prof. Yigal Levin:
A. As you and I review the city names at Joshua 15: 48-60, one of the key
issues to be decided is whether or not Joshua had a Late Bronze Age source for
at least some of those city names. If so, then we would expect Joshua 15:
52-59 to list some Late Bronze Age cities in southern Canaan that were important
in the mid-15th century BCE, but that were extinct and long-forgotten by the
time we get to the 1st millennium BCE. That is why it is so critically
important to cross-check the city names at Joshua 15: 52-59 against the mid-15th
century BCE Thutmosis III list.
Regarding your reliance on modern Arabic names of modern Arabic towns
concerning these matters, consider this. Regardless of whether or not Joshua had a
Late Bronze Age source, it is no surprise that beginning in the 14th century
AD, about 3,000 years later, people living in Palestine often looked to the
Bible to name their tiny villages. As you yourself expressly state regarding “
Identifying biblical sites by their names being preserved in modern Arabic”: “
True, this does not work in all cases, and many
false identifications have been made in the past….”
We have to remember what key question we are asking here. Does or does not
Joshua have a Late Bronze Age source of city names? Even if the Book of Joshua
was pulled together “late”, as you insist, nevertheless the open question
remains: Did or did not Joshua have a Late Bronze Age source of city names?
B. You wrote: “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?”
In my very first post, I stated: “I realize that Gezer, and the city of
Aijalon, are dealt with separately, at Joshua 16: 10; 19: 42.” I agree that
according to Joshua 16: 4, 9-10, Gezer and most of the territory north of the
Aijalon Valley were allocated to Ephraim. I also agree that according to Joshua
19: 40-48, quite a few cities in the Aijalon Valley area were tentatively
allocated to Dan. So far, so good.
But what about the towns in the Aijalon Valley that are not mentioned in
Joshua as being assigned to either Ephraim or Dan? Does Joshua 15: 52-59 report
Late Bronze Age cities in the Aijalon Valley that appear on the mid-15th
century BCE Thutmosis III list, and sometimes in the Amarna Letters as well, but
that then disappear from secular history for 3,000 years? If so, that
super-exciting news would mean that Joshua had a Late Bronze Age source of city names.
Let’s investigate that question.
FIVE MISSING CITIES IN THE AIJALON VALLEY
First and foremost here would be Rubutu, which was one of the most important
cities in Late Bronze Age Canaan. Rubutu was not located anywhere near hill
country, being located in the south-central portion of the Aijalon Valley. I
am somewhat surprised by your comment concerning that critical issue:
“105 is Raba(t)h, probably the same as the last "Hill-country" town listed in
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
If you are seeing Rabbah at Joshua 15: 60 as being historical Rubutu, then
you would thereby be admitting that not all the towns listed at Joshua 15: 48-60
are located in hill country. Interestingly, Nadav Na’aman specifically
insists that Rabbah at Joshua 15: 60 is not historical Rubutu, but rather that
Rabbah was a small town located in hill country:
“Rabbah is clearly located in the hill country of Judah, near Kiriath-jearim,
and its placement in the northern Shephelah is untenable.” Nadav Na’aman, “
Rubutu/Aruboth”, in Canaan in the Second Millennium B.C.E.: Collected Essays
(2005), at p. 206
I actually tend to think that Nadav Na’aman is probably right about that.
Are you really willing to give up your old position that all cities at Joshua
15: 48-60 are located in hill country? I am surprised you would consider making
such a huge concession. The historical city of Rubutu in the Aijalon Valley
is located nowhere near hill country. If you made that huge concession, then
you would essentially seem to be agreeing with me that we must look at each
city in Joshua 15: 52-60, individually, one by one, to see which cities are, or
are not, located in hill country. That’s precisely what I want to do. (I am
guessing that in the end, you are not going to be willing to make that huge
concession. But perhaps I am misunderstanding what you are saying here about
Rubutu and Rabbah.)
At a minimum, shouldn’t we at least look at Joshua 15: 52-59, to see if
historical Rubutu may be found there? That’s what I would like to do (in my next
Per some standard versions of the Septuagint (such as the classic Brenton
translation), this city at Joshua 15: 59 is shown as being “Magaroth”, with the
ayin being an archaic ghayin. On that basis, I have shown a letter-for-letter
exact linguistic equivalence between Biblical Magaroth (Maarath) and MQRT at
item #106 on the Thutmosis III list. That town is in the Aijalon Valley, is
not assigned to Dan in Joshua, and rather is assigned to Judah in Joshua per
Joshua 15: 59.
Scholars cannot locate any reference to Magaroth after the mid-15th century
BCE. That’s because it went extinct in the Late Bronze Age.
Now that we see a gamma/ghayin in the classic Brenton translation of “Magaroth
” in the Septuagint at Joshua 15: 59, Magaroth/Maarath appears to be MQRT at
item #106 on the Thutmosis III list. Is that spine-tingling excitement in a
geographical place name, or what? Have you and I made an exciting new
discovery, right here on the b-hebrew list? If Magaroth = MQRT, that would largely
prove my controversial case that Joshua had a Late Bronze Age source for city
names. That would be very big news.
I have shown a beautiful linguistic match between XLXWR/Halhul and HRKuR at
item #101 on the Thutmosis III list. The only question mark is that rare,
special Egyptian K, which on my view in part came over into Biblical Hebrew as a
heth/X here. We know for certain that the Egyptians in the mid-15th century
BCE did not use heths in the same way as Biblical Hebrew does (since Hebrew has
only one heth). So it should be no real surprise that this rare, special
Egyptian K (which represents two sounds) came into Hebrew as XW. That town is in
the Aijalon Valley, is not assigned to Dan in Joshua, and rather is assigned
to Judah in Joshua per Joshua 15: 58.
There is no mention of Halhul after the mid-15th century BCE until 3,000
years later, in the 14th century AD. That’s because Halhul went extinct in the
Late Bronze Age. Medieval people picked up the name from the Bible.
Assuming that the Gibeah at Joshua 15: 57 is not the same town as the
Gibbethon at Joshua 19: 44, we must wonder if that Gibeah is in the Aijalon Valley,
and not assigned to Dan. We will want to look at item #103, QPT, on the
Thutmosis III list in that regard.
Here is a 5th missing city. It may be in the Aijalon Valley, per item #102,
Y(QBJR, on the Thutmosis III list. It is not assigned to Dan in Joshua, but
rather may appear at Joshua 15: 56 as being a town assigned to Judah.
This city is never mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, because it went extinct
in the Late Bronze Age.
C. In order to confirm or refute my controversial theory that Joshua had a
Late Bronze Age source of city names, the way we should proceed is to check out
each and every one of these 5 apparently “missing” cities in the Aijalon
Valley. Do all 5 such cities show up both (i) at Joshua 15: 52-59, and (ii) in
items #100 - #106 on the Thutmosis III list?
I myself think that Joshua had a much better, and more accurate, Late Bronze
Age source of city names than modern scholars realize. The only way to verify
or falsify my controversial theory as to this important issue is to compare
items #100 - #106 on the Thutmosis III list straight up with the cities listed
at Joshua 15: 52-59.
With your permission, I would like to start, in my next post, with the
critically important city of Rubutu. Let’s take a look, and see what we find. Who
knows, maybe there’ll be some more pulsating excitement like
Magaroth/Maarath/M(RT = MQRT on the Thutmosis III list? We’ll never know unless we look.
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