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orion Re: "BYTYHWH"
Judith did have one important point that we should all underline:
Hershel Shanks certainly knows how to put the cat among the pigeons.
In fact, on this one, the lion can lie down with the lamb, or
whatever other peaceful metaphor you prefer. The following is a
"critical-maximalist" reading of the evidence (forgive me the
1) According to Pardee at alii, in Semitica, the ostracon is "a receipt" but they
offer no evidence. The text is not located geographically; but they date it
to the late seventh century, bce without however a thoroughgoing
comparative analysis. Their own authority and knowledge of scripts
seems to be their reference. CNN reports that Cross et alii date it
"about a century earlier" which I translate as late-eighth century.
Shanks reports that McCarter (very diplomatically) dates the text to the
9th.-7th. century, but without giving reasons. Shanks, as a good
journalist, reports only what "experts" tell him. There is no real
disagreement here, as we are unable to distinguish our paleography
very well in this early period from the early Iron Age to the Persian
period, especially when we do not discuss the paleography of the script
on the basis of evidence.
2. The inscription mentions a King Ashyahu, unknown from any
inscriptions and not included in the stories of the bible as a king
of any "kingdom" in Palestine: neither Israel, Judah or Edom. Similar
names are found in the bible: namely, Yoash and Yehoash. Pardee et
al. suggest that it might be possible to identify this name with
Josiah. This of course stretches a bit. One is more likely to look
elsewhere among the patronates of Palestine for King Ashyahu.
3. the writing bytyhwh is interesting as it lacks the dot of the
byt.yhwh of Arad. A maximalist would certainly welcome this as
evidence in the bytdwd debate to show that bytx and byt.x are merely
variant script forms. A minimalist might also welcome it as evidence
that bytx (without dot) signifies a place name: and hence, a temple.
I find the coincidence with the bytdwd inscription overwhelming
4. bytyhwh as the name of a temple or of a place where there is likely
a temple seems inescapable.
5. But where? Evidence we have is considerable.
a) New Kingdom texts refer to a place name yhwh of the Shasu.
Scholars have long speculated that this implicitly refers to a
byt.yhwh in the Sinai.
b) Knauf et al., and Lemche and Thompson have argued independently
that bytdwd from Tel Dan refers to a place where there is a temple of
c) A similar argument has been made for the same name in the Mesha
d) Kuntillat Ajrud very likely refers to two temples of Yhwh: one in
Teman and the other in Samaria.
e) We have the Yhwh temple on Mt. Gerizim
f) e have Yhwh temples in traditional literature in the bible and
other Hellenistic literature which place Yhwh temples in Jerusalem
and Samaria. The Jerusalem temple has beenassociated with Moses,
David, Solomon, Ezra Maccabees and Herod. The historicity of much of
this traditional literature is doubtful.
And I think that is about the whole of it.
Thomas L. Thompson
professor, University of Copenhagen
> Dear Judith,
> I'm not sure I follow the point of this discussion but of course there are
> temples to Yahweh in Israel, even at the time that Josiah has supposedly
> gotten rid of all but the Jerusalem Temple. Arad is one such temple, for
> >>Dear Judith who thinks there is no evidence of temples to yahweh
> >>It is in fact the argument that here was only a temple in Jerusalem in the
> >>Iron Age that is speculative. The book of Kings (whether reliably or not
> >>does not matter at all) reports Josiah (for example) as clearing away
> >>foreign places of worship and that would be in the 7th century, shortly
> >>before the end of the kingdom of Judah