lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)
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For the forementioned cause, therefore, it was that the house of Ithamar was deprived of the sacerdotal dignity, as God had foretold to Eli, the grandfather of Abiathar. So it was transferred to the family of Phineas, to Zadok. Now those that were of the family of Phineas, but lived privately during the time that the high priesthood was transferred to the house of Ithamar, (of which family Eli was the first that received it,)were these that follow: Bukki, the son of Abishua the high priest; his son was Joatham; Joatham's son was Meraioth; Meraioth's son was Arophaeus; Arophaeus's son was Ahitub; and Ahitub's son was Zadok, who was first made high priest in the reign of David.
"Arophaeus"? What kind of Hebrew name is that!? <checks Bible> It's Amariah there! 2 Chron. 1:3–6 says:
So Shŏlomo, and all the congregation with him, went to the high place that was at Giv`on; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moshe the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness. But the ark of God had David brought up from Kiriath Ye`arim to the place which David had prepared for it: for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem. Moreover the brazen altar, that Beṣal'ēl ben Uri ben Ḥur, had made, he put before the tabernacle of the Lord: and Shəlomo and the congregation sought unto it. And Shəlomo went up thither to the brasen altar before the Lord, which was at the tabernacle of the congregation, and offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it. וַיֵּלְכוּ שְׁלֹמֹה וְכָל־הַקָּהָל עִמּוֹ לַבָּמָה אֲשֶׁר בְּגִבְעוֹן כִּי־שָׁם הָיָה אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד הָאֱלֹהִים אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד־ה׳ בַּמִּדְבָּר׃ אֲבָל אֲרוֹן הָאֱלֹהִים הֶעֱלָה דָוִיד מִקִּרְיַת יְעָרִים בַּהֵכִין לוֹ דָּוִיד כִּי נָטָה־לוֹ אֹהֶל בִּירוּשָׁלִָם׃ וּמִזְבַּח הַנְּחֹשֶׁת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה בְּצַלְאֵל בֶּן־אוּרִי בֶן־חוּר שָׁם לִפְנֵי מִשְׁכַּן ה׳ וַיִּדְרְשֵׁהוּ שְׁלֹמֹה וְהַקָּהָל׃ וַיַּעַל שְׁלֹמֹה שָׁם עַל־מִזְבַּח הַנְּחֹשֶׁת לִפְנֵי ה׳ אֲשֶׁר לְאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וַיַּעַל עָלָיו עֹלוֹת אָלֶף׃
Josephus, however, disagrees about where the Tabernacle was; I have no idea what his justification for thus disagreeing was:
He now resolved to go to Hebron, and sacrifice to God upon the brazen altar that was built by Moses.

(You will observe that I'm wavering back and forth between the familiar forms of names that have been dragged through a linguistic hedge backwards (Greek failing to render "sh" and "v", and then English misparsing Latin "J" and undergoing the Great Vowel Shift in the fifteenth century onwards), and representing names as they would have been pronounced in Biblical Hebrew. I haven't made my mind up consistently on this issue; besides, rendering them correctly takes more effort!)

Now the captains of his armies, and officers appointed over the whole country, were these: over the lot of Ephraim was Ures; over the toparchy of Bethlehem was Dioclerus;

Ures is a mangling of Ḥur, but who was Dioclerus, a name very evidently translated into Greek? A close study of 1 Kings 4 left me still trying to figure out whether he would be Ben-Deker or Ben-Ḥesed. Google helped me out (whilst I was trying to track down where the places these two were in charge of were, as Josephus gives landmarks known in his day rather than the placenames in Kings) and told me it was Ben-Ḥesed... but I can't see why. "Dioclerus" means something to do with G-d (any Greek scholars help me out here?), whereas "Ben-Ḥesed" means lovingkindness...

In VIII.2.45, amongst talking about Solomon's wisdom and achievements, Josephus says:

God also enabled him to learn that skill which expels demons, which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed such incantations also by which distempers are alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return; and this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The manner of the cure was this: He put a ring that had a Foot of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils; and when the man fell down immediately, he abjured him to return into him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed. And when Eleazar would persuade and demonstrate to the spectators that he had such a power, he set a little way off a cup or basin full of water, and commanded the demon, as he went out of the man, to overturn it, and thereby to let the spectators know that he had left the man; and when this was done, the skill and wisdom of Solomon was shown very manifestly.
About the letters which Solomon exchanged with Hiram king of Tyre, Josephus writes (VIII.2.55):
The copies of these epistles remain at this day, and are preserved not only in our books, but among the Tyrians also; insomuch that if any one would know the certainty about them, he may desire of the keepers of the public records of Tyre to show him them, and he will find what is there set down to agree with what we have said. I have said so much out of a desire that my readers may know that we speak nothing but the truth, and do not compose a history out of some plausible relations, which deceive men and please them at the same time, nor attempt to avoid examination, nor desire men to believe us immediately; nor are we at liberty to depart from speaking truth, which is the proper commendation of an historian, and yet be blameless: but we insist upon no admission of what we say, unless we be able to manifest its truth by demonstration, and the strongest vouchers.
About the building of the Temple, 1 Kings 6:7 says:
And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building. וְהַבַּיִת בְּהִבָּנֹתוֹ אֶבֶן־שְׁלֵמָה מַסָּע נִבְנָה וּמַקָּבוֹת וְהַגַּרְזֶן כָּל־כְּלִי בַרְזֶל לֹא־נִשְׁמַע בַּבַּיִת בְּהִבָּנֹתוֹ׃
The midrash declares that as iron was used for tools of war, it would have been disrespectful to use it in the building of the Temple, at all, and that the stonecutters instead used a worm, the Shamir, which would bite its way through the stone when placed upon it. Josephus, however, goes for the plain meaning (VIII.2.60):
He also enjoined them to cut out large stones for the foundations of the temple, and that they should fit them and unite them together in the mountain, and so bring them to the city. This was done not only by our own country workmen, but by those workmen whom Hiram sent also.
Josephus would have us believe that the Temple was very big indeed (VIII.3.64):
They erected its entire body, quite up to the roof, of white stone; its height was sixty cubits, and its length was the same, and its breadth twenty. There was another building erected over it, equal to it in its measures; so that the entire altitude of the temple was a hundred and twenty cubits.

The only support I can see for this in the Bible is 1 Kings 6:5-6, which [livejournal.com profile] aviva_m's JPS translation renders:

Against the outer wall of the House—the outside walls of the House enclosing the Great Hall and the Shrine [i.e. the Holy of Holies]—he built a storeyed structure; and he made side chambers all around. The lowest chamber was five cubits wide, the middle one six cubits wide, and the third seven cubits wide; for he had provided recesses around the outside of the House so as not to penetrate the walls of the House. וַיִּבֶן עַל־קִיר הַבַּיִת יָצִיעַ סָבִיב אֶת־קִירוֹת הַבַּיִת סָבִיב לַהֵיכָל וְלַדְּבִיר וַיַּעַשׂ צְלָעוֹת סָבִיב׃ הַיָּצִיעַ הַתַּחְתֹּנָה חָמֵשׁ בָּאַמָּה רָחְבָּהּ וְהַתִּיכֹנָה שֵׁשׁ בָּאַמָּה רָחְבָּהּ וְהַשְּׁלִישִׁית שֶׁבַע בָּאַמָּה רָחְבָּהּ כִּי מִגְרָעוֹת נָתַן לַבַּיִת סָבִיב חוּצָה לְבִלְתִּי אֲחֹז בְּקִירוֹת־הַבָּיִת׃

The KJV, however, renders יָצִיעַ "chambers" rather than "storeyed structure". Nevertheless, it does seem to be the case that, even if not necessarily here, Josephus conflates the Temple of Solomon with that of Herod (VIII.3.87):

But he made that temple which was beyond this a wonderful one indeed, and such as exceeds all description in words; nay, if I may so say, is hardly believed upon sight; for when he had filled up great valleys with earth, which, on account of their immense depth, could not be looked on, when you bended down to see them, without pain, and had elevated the ground four hundred cubits, he made it to be on a level with the top of the mountain, on which the temple was built, and by this means the outmost temple, which was exposed to the air, was even with the temple itself.

This sounds to me like a description of how Herod extended the top of the Temple Mount by filling earth in between the originally small hilltop and retaining walls (of which the present-day Western Wall is one) so he could have a larger flat area to build a Temple atop than the original Second and First Temples. The Book of Kings does not mention Solomon doing any such thing.


The sacerdotal garments which belonged to the high priest, with the long robes, and the oracle, and the precious stones, were a thousand. But the crown upon which Moses wrote [the name of God], was only one, and hath remained to this very day.
This page comments:
The reader ought to take notice here, that the very Mosaic Petalon, or golden plate, for the forehead of the Jewish high priest, was itself preserved, not only till the days of Josephus, but of Origen; and that its inscription, Holiness to the Lord, was in the Samaritan characters. See Antiq. B. VIII. ch. 3. sect. 8, Essay on the Old Test. p. 154, and Reland, De pol. Templi, p. 132.
(For "Samaritan characters" read palaeo-Hebrew, i.e. the script the Jews used until they went into the Babylonian exile. The Samaritans use a descendant of it today; we, however, switched whilst in Babylonia to using Assyrian characters.)

I can't find any basis for the following (VIII.8.143ff) in the Bible at all:

Moreover, the king of Tyre sent sophisms and enigmatical sayings to Solomon, and desired he would solve them, and free them from the ambiguity that was in them. Now so sagacious and understanding was Solomon, that none of these problems were too hard for him; but he conquered them all by his reasonings, and discovered their hidden meaning, and brought it to light. Menander also, one who translated the Tyrian archives out of the dialect of the Phoenicians into the Greek language, makes mention of these two kings, where he says thus: "When Abibalus was dead, his son Hiram received the kingdom from him, who, when he had lived fifty-three years, reigned thirty-four. [...] Under this king there was Abdemon, a very youth in age, who always conquered the difficult problems which Solomon, king of Jerusalem, commanded him to explain." Dius also makes mention of him, where he says [...] that Solomon, who was then king of Jerusalem, sent riddles to Hiram, and desired to receive the like from him, but that he who could not solve them should pay money to them that did solve them, and that Hiram accepted the conditions; and when he was not able to solve the riddles proposed by Solomon, he paid a great deal of money for his fine; but that he afterward did solve the proposed riddles by means of Abdemon, a man of Tyre; and that Hiram proposed other riddles, which, when Solomon could not solve, he paid back a great deal of money to Hiram." This it is which Dius wrote.

I'm surprised this evidence for Solomon in the Tyrian history is not more widely cited, as what one generally hears is that there is no extra-Biblical evidence for the United Monarchy. Possibly the problem is that Menander's history is lost to us; we only have of it what Josephus quotes, and we don't know he's quoting accurately.

Finally, on Solomon, Josephus describes the Queen of Sheba (VIII.6.165) as "queen of Egypt and Ethiopia". I don't know where he got Egypt from.

In VIII.10.253, Josephus describes how the pharoah Shishak invades Judea and despoils the Temple. The majority opinion is that Shishak is Shoshenq I; however Josephus says:

But God sent Shishak, king of Egypt, to punish them for their unjust behavior towards him, concerning whom Herodotus was mistaken, and applied his actions to Sesostris; for this Shishak, in the fifth year of the reign of Rehoboam, made an expedition [into Judea] with many ten thousand men; for he had one thousand two hundred chariots in number that followed him, and threescore thousand horsemen, and four hundred thousand footmen.
This was interesting to me, as I read Herodotus last summer, and [livejournal.com profile] aviva_m had asked me to look out for anything Herodotus said concerning the Jews. In this case, Herodotus writes (II.102):
Passing these by I shall make mention of the king who came after these, whose name was Sesostris. He (the priests said) first of all set out with ships of war from the Arabian gulf and subdued those who dwelt by the shores of the Erythraian Sea, until as he sailed he came to a sea which could no further be navigated by reason of shoals: then secondly, after he had returned to Egypt, according to the report of the priests he took a great army 86 and marched over the continent, subduing every nation which stood in his way: and those of them whom he found valiant and fighting desperately for their freedom, in their lands he set up pillars which told by inscriptions his own name and the name of his country, and how he had subdued them by his power; but as to those of whose cities he obtained possession without fighting or with ease, on their pillars he inscribed words after the same tenor as he did for the nations which had shown themselves courageous, and in addition he drew upon them the hidden parts of a woman, desiring to signify by this that the people were cowards and effeminate.

I refer the reader to Wikipedia who wants to know more about the identification of Sesostris, and of Shishak.

The only clear reference Herodotus makes to the Jews is in II.104:

The Colchians, Egyptians, and Ethiopians alone of all the races of men have practised circumcision from the first. The Phoenicians and the Syrians who dwell in Palestine confess themselves that they have learnt it from the Egyptians, and the Syrians about the river Thermodon and the river Parthenios, and the Macronians, who are their neighbours, say that they have learnt it lately from the Colchians. These are the only races of men who practise circumcision, and these evidently practise it in the same manner as the Egyptians. Of the Egyptians themselves however and the Ethiopians, I am not able to say which learnt from the other, for undoubtedly it is a most ancient custom; but that the other nations learnt it by intercourse with the Egyptians, this among others is to me a strong proof, namely that those of the Phoenicians who have intercourse with Hellas cease to follow the example of the Egyptians in this matter, and do not circumcise their children.
The only people who lived in Palestine who practised circumcision were the Jews, as Josephus points out (VIII.10.260):
Now Herodotus of Halicarnassus mentions this expedition, having only mistaken the king's name; and [in saying that] he made war upon many other nations also, and brought Syria of Palestine into subjection, and took the men that were therein prisoners without fighting. Now it is manifest that he intended to declare that our nation was subdued by him; for he saith that he left behind him pillars in the land of those that delivered themselves up to him without fighting, and engraved upon them the secret parts of women. Now our king Rehoboam delivered up our city without fighting. He says withal that the Ethiopians learned to circumcise their privy parts from the Egyptians, with this addition, that the Phoenicians and Syrians that live in Palestine confess that they learned it of the Egyptians. Yet it is evident that no other of the Syrians that live in Palestine, besides us alone, are circumcised. But as to such matters, let every one speak what is agreeable to his own opinion.

2 Chronicles 14:8-14:12 says:

Asa had an army of men: three hundred platoons from Judah bearing targets and spears; and two hundred and eighty platoons of shieldbearers and bowmen from Benjamin: all these were mighty men of valour. There came against them Zeraḥ the Cushite with an host of a thousand platoons, and three hundred chariots; they came to Mareshah. Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. Asa cried unto the Lord his God: "Lord, it is nothing with you to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, Lord our God; for we rest on you, and in your name we go against this multitude. Lord, you are our God; let no man prevail against you." So the Lord smote the Cushites before Asa, and before Judah; and the Cushites fled. וַיְהִי לְאָסָא חַיִל נֹשֵׂא צִנָּה וָרֹמַח מִיהוּדָה שְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת אֶלֶף וּמִבִּנְיָמִן נֹשְׂאֵי מָגֵן וְדֹרְכֵי קֶשֶׁת מָאתַיִם וּשְׁמוֹנִים אָלֶף כָּל־אֵלֶּה גִּבּוֹרֵי חָיִל׃ וַיֵּצֵא אֲלֵיהֶם זֶרַח הַכּוּשִׁי בְּחַיִל אֶלֶף אֲלָפִים וּמַרְכָּבוֹת שְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת וַיָּבֹא עַד־מָרֵשָׁה׃ וַיֵּצֵא אָסָא לְפָנָיו וַיַּעַרְכוּ מִלְחָמָה בְּגֵיא צְפַתָה לְמָרֵשָׁה׃ וַיִּקְרָא אָסָא אֶל־ה׳ אֱלֹהָיו וַיֹּאמַר ה׳ אֵין־עִמְּךָ לַעְזֹר בֵּין רַב לְאֵין כֹּחַ עָזְרֵנוּ ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ כִּי־עָלֶיךָ נִשְׁעַנּוּ וּבְשִׁמְךָ בָאנוּ עַל־הֶהָמוֹן הַזֶּה ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ אַתָּה אַל־יַעְצֹר עִמְּךָ אֱנוֹשׁ׃ וַיִּגֹּף ה׳ אֶת־הַכּוּשִׁים לִפְנֵי אָסָא וְלִפְנֵי יְהוּדָה וַיָּנֻסוּ הַכּוּשִׁים׃ וַיִּרְדְּפֵם אָסָא וְהָעָם אֲשֶׁר־עִמּוֹ עַד־לִגְרָר וַיִּפֹּל מִכּוּשִׁים לְאֵין לָהֶם מִחְיָה כִּי־נִשְׁבְּרוּ לִפְנֵי־ה׳ וְלִפְנֵי מַחֲנֵהוּ וַיִּשְׂאוּ שָׁלָל הַרְבֵּה מְאֹד׃

Aside from wondering why Cushites would bother to come all the way from Sudan to Israel to make war (Wikipedia says they were probably just Arabs), my reaction to this was: Hey, I know Maresha! I did a Dig for a Day at the there on my year off; we sifted earth that had been taken out of the Hasmonean layer of occupation in the caves there, and I found a bronze fibula (toga-clip). It was that which got me into archaeology, such that I used the three weeks at the end of my year off to volunteer for the excavation at the Asculapion at Shuni at the foot of Mt Carmel, and returned there twice in later years for more excavating too.

I already mentioned in my first set of notes about how the Phoenician historian Menander mentions the three year drought that the Bible credits the prophet Elijah's prayers with ending; here's the relevant quotation (VIII.13.324):

Now Menander mentions this drought in his account of the acts of Ethbaal, king of the Tyrians; where he says thus: "Under him there was a want of rain from the month Hyperberetaeus till the month Hyperberetaeus of the year following; but when he made supplications, there came great thunders. This Ethbaal built the city Botrys in Phoenicia, and the city Auza in Libya." By these words he designed the want of rain that was in the days of Ahab, for at that time it was that Ethbaal also reigned over the Tyrians, as Menander informs us.
After Elijah's showdown with the prophets of the Ba`al, he goes up to the top of Mt Carmel to pray for rain; and his servant reports (1 Kings 18:44):
It came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, "Behold, a little cloud has arisen out of the sea, the size of a man's hand." וַיְהִי בַּשְּׁבִעִית וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה־עָב קְטַנָּה כְּכַף־אִישׁ עֹלָה מִיָּם
Josephus, however, reports:
at the seventh time of his going up, he said that he saw a small black thing in the sky, not larger than a man's foot.

Where does Josephus get his variant tradition from? Answer: there is no contradiction: without the qualifier יַד or רֶגֶל, the word כַּף could mean either hand or foot (or spoon, or anything with a vaguely spoon-shaped concavity)!

After Elijah gets depressed when, after his big victory against the Ba`al, Queen Jezebel sends him word "So let the gods do to me, and more besides, if I haven't made your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow about," G-d sends him to Sinai where:

1 Kings 19:11-13 מלכים א יט יא-יט יג
Behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and smashed in pieces the rocks before the Lord—but the Lord was not in the wind. Then after the wind was an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire—but the Lord was not in the fire. Then, after the fire, a still small voice. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entrance of the cave. And, behold, a voice came to him and said, "What do you here, Elijah?" וְהִנֵּה ה׳ עֹבֵר וְרוּחַ גְּדוֹלָה וְחָזָק מְפָרֵק הָרִים וּמְשַׁבֵּר סְלָעִים לִפְנֵי ה׳ לֹא בָרוּחַ ה׳ וְאַחַר הָרוּחַ רַעַשׁ לֹא בָרַעַשׁ ה׳׃ וְאַחַר הָרַעַשׁ אֵשׁ לֹא בָאֵשׁ ה׳ וְאַחַר הָאֵשׁ קוֹל דְּמָמָה דַקָּה׃ וַיְהִי כִּשְׁמֹעַ אֵלִיָּהוּ וַיָּלֶט פָּנָיו בְּאַדַּרְתּוֹ וַיֵּצֵא וַיַּעֲמֹד פֶּתַח הַמְּעָרָה וְהִנֵּה אֵלָיו קוֹל וַיֹּאמֶר מַה־לְּךָ פֹה אֵלִיָּהוּ׃
Josephus does not mention this famous still, small voice:
When he both heard an earthquake, and saw the bright splendor of a fire; and after a silence made, a Divine voice exhorted him not to be disturbed with the circumstances he was in, for that none of his enemies should have power over him.

I had previously heard that "still, small voice" is a bad translation, as קוֹל (voice/sound) is masculine, but דְּמָמָה and דַקָּה are feminine. A better translation would be "the sound of fine silence", or "the sound of fine murmuring." But "still, small voice" is well-entrenched in the English language, and has a power of its own to move, regardless of whether it's right or not.

[Josephus] Josephus notes


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