[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: orion Re: "BYTYHWH"

    [The following text is in the "ISO-8859-1" character set]
    [Your display is set for the "US-ASCII" character set]
    [Some characters may be displayed incorrectly]

Jim West having kindly sent me a fairly good JPEG of the ostracon, I had a
look at it on the train this morning, and arrived at the following
transcription and translation:

k`$r mwk. `$y
hw. hmlk ltt by(t)
(z)kryhw. ksf tr
$$. lbytyhwh

"In accordance with the humility of king Ishyahu for giving: house of
Zechariah: silver of Tarshish for the house of Yahweh".

I re-emphasise that this is only a preliminary reading, and that I wouldn´t
want to stand by anything until I´d seen some excellent infrared
photographs and had the thing in my hands as well.

As we Copenhageners delight in data that can add nuance to the
understanding of the Biblical text, I would love to believe in the
genuineness of this inscription, and particularly in the notion of a "King
Ishyahu", which naturally retroverts as IshBa´al (ba´al is, of course, a
title, not a name, so anyone bearing the title as part of his theophorous
name could have worshiped YHWH or indeed called himself by the name of that
deity). Hebrew ish, "man", is never spelled in inscriptions with the Yod
familiar to us from the HB, a fact that is hardly a recondite secret of
epigraphers, as James Barr mentions the fact in his Variant Spellings, and
it may be seen in the name indices in SSI and KAI. 
It is unimportant in this connexion that the HB insists that Ishbosheth was
a 10th-century figure; as I mentioned yesterday, there is very little
reason to believe that the Biblical chronology is historical. 
It will be objected by conservatives that the reference to the bytyhwh
would then be to a "house" outside of Jerusalem, which they would regard as
inconceivable. In reality, the notion that worship was centralised on
Jerusalem by Josiah is an artefact of western European scholarship,
dependent on W.M.L. De Wette´s famous identification of the "book of the
Law" of 2 Kgs 22-23 with Deuteronomy, and on the attendant identification
of Josiah´s supression of the high places with Deuteronomy´s insistence
that YHWH will cause his name to dwell in a "place", understood as a SINGLE
Prior to De Wette, scholars noted that YHWH´s name seems to get called over
a *number* of sites by patriarchs and others (Jerubba´al builds an altar to
YHWH  for example, as does Saul). They accordingly understood the
Deuteronomic le$akken $em formula to mean "in (every) place where I cause
my name to dwell". 
As others have noted, this is not falsified by the discovery of a byt.yhwh
in Arad, by the fact that the citizens of Elephantine apparently never
heard that it was forbidden to hold sacrifices outside of Israel, or by the
establishment by Onias III of a temple in Leontopolis, even though, as a
former high priest of the Judaean cult of YHWH, he may be assumed to have
heard rumours of the exclusiveness of Jerusalem.

I understand completely the hesitation of the publishers, McCarter and
Sass, to commit themselves to a date closer than the 9th-7th centuries. As
I mentioned yesterday, the script of the Ekron inscription is so close to
that of Mesha that it destroys the notion that we can be more definite than
a few centuries. So when Frank Cross is arguing on behalf of an early date,
he does so by ignoring Ekron, or at least he is simply advocating the
earliest time that script is thought to have been in use in Israel and

Unfortunately, there are a few reasons for being hesitant about the
inscription, although the publishers, McCarter and Sass, are so competent
that this must weigh heavily in one´s considerations. The first reason is
that we did not know of the breadth of the chronological continuum of the
very Phoenicianising script until 1996, with the publication of the Ekron
inscription, and then, hey, presto maestro! a new inscription that fits
tidily into that virtually evolution-less sort hole from the 9th to the 7th
centuries. As I´ve mentioned in another context, coincidence doesn´t exist:
one does not as a rule just stumble over information that fits one´s
presuppositions just when one needs it.
Point two is epigraphic: the ink on the ostracon looks incredibly saturated
for an inscription that has been in the ground for over 2,000 years and
closer to 3,000.
The script seems such a hybrid of Mesha and Ekron that the scribe would
seemingly have to have been a student of them.
The syntax and morphology are very "Biblical", which clashes with what we
oterhwise think we know about the orgins of that language.

The best regards, and we should probably drop further posts out of
deference to the purpose of this list,

Fred Cryer