Israel & the Surrounding Nations
by Prof. A. C. Sayce
Israel & the Surrounding Nations
by Prof. A. C. Sayce
The legendary history of David and Solomon in the 10th century BCE tells little about the origins of Judah. There is no archaeological evidence of an extensive, powerful Kingdom of Judah before the late 8th century BCE - Wikipedia
Canaan had been inhabited before any of them had found their way to it, and this prehistoric population of the country was known to the Hebrews by the name of Rephaim.
individual branches of the Amorite stock had names of their own. In the north they were known as Hivites, at Hebron they were called Anakim, at Jerusalem they were Jebusites. The Amorite kings of Bashan are described as Rephaim, a word which the Authorized Version translates "giants."
Assyrians, Babylonians and Egyptians again contended for the mastery on the plains of Palestine.
For centuries Palestine was the battle-ground of the nations; but it was so because it lay between the two great powers of the ancient East, between Egypt on the one side and Assyria and Babylonia on the other.
Levi was not a tribe in the same sense as the rest of his brethren; no territory was assigned to him apart from the so-called Levitical cities; and he represented the priestly order wherever it might be found and from whatever ancestors it might be derived
The Levitical priesthood had its centre in the temple which had been built by Solomon, and was, as it were, the private chapel of his descendants; here were preserved the rites and traditions of the Mosaic Law, and the ark of the covenant between Israel and its God.
The Levites also naturally attached themselves to the kingdom which contained the great national sanctuary, and to the royal family whose chapel it was
The Two Kingdoms
The Jewish kingdom (Southern Kingdom) was compact; its capital was central, and was not only a strongly-fortified fortress, but also an ancient and venerable sanctuary. As time went on feelings of respect and affection gathered round the royal house; the people of Judah identified it with themselves, and looked back with pride and regret to the glorious days of David and Solomon. Religion, moreover, lent its sanction to the Davidic dynasty
The northern kingdom, on the contrary, had none of these elements of stability. The first king was a rebel, who had no glorious past behind him, no established priesthood to support his throne, no capital even, around which all his subjects could rally. The sword had given him his crown, and the sword was henceforth the arbiter of his kingdom. The conservative forces which were strong in Judah were absent in the north; there the army became more and more powerful, and its generals dethroned princes and established short-lived dynasties. Northern Israel, moreover, was not homogeneous; the tribes on the two sides of the Jordan were never welded together like the inhabitants of Judah, and the divergence of interests that had once existed between them was never wholly forgotten.
Israel perished while Judah survived. Dynasty after dynasty had arisen in it; its capital had been shifted from time to time; it did not even possess a religious centre.
Tribe of Benjamin
Benjamin or Ben-Oni was, as a tribe, merely the southern portion of the house of Joseph, which had settled around the sanctuary of Beth-On or Beth-el. Benjamin means the "Southerner," and Ben-Oni "the inhabitant of Beth-On."
Assyrian & Babylonian Attacks
Judah...successfully defied the Assyrian power. The invasion of Sennacherib was rolled back from the walls of Jerusalem, and though the Jewish kings paid tribute to Nineveh, they were left in possession of their territories. Edom, indeed, had long since been lost, and with it the trade with the Arabian seas, but the Philistines continued to acknowledge the supremacy of Judah, and commercial relations were kept up with Egypt. It was not until the Babylonian empire of Nebuchadnezzar had arisen on the ruins of that of Assyria that Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed, and the Davidic dynasty passed away.
Mission of the Judites (Jews)
But they had accomplished their work; a nation had been created which through exile and disaster still maintained its religion and its characteristics, and was prepared, when happier days should come, to return again to its old home, to rebuild the temple, and carry out all the ordinances of its faith. From henceforth Judah realized its mission as a peculiar people, separated from the rest of the world, whose instructor in religion it was to be.
In the early inscriptions of Babylonia, Canaan is included in the rest of Syria under the general title of "the land of the Amorites"...The "land of the Amorites" had been overrun by the armies of Babylonia at a very remote period, and had thus come under the influence of Babylonian culture...Palestine and Syria became a province of the Babylonian empire.
The Amorites, however, though they were the dominant people of Syria, were not its original inhabitants; nor, it is probable, did they even form the largest part of its population. They were essentially the inhabitants of the mountains, as we are told in the Book of Numbers (13:29), and appear to have come from the west.
We have learnt a good deal about them from the Egyptian monuments, where the "Amurru" or Amorites are depicted with that fidelity to nature which characterized the art of ancient Egypt. They belonged to the white race, and, like other members of the white race, were tall in stature and impatient of the damp heat of the plains. Their beard and eye-brows are painted red, their hair a light red-brown, while their eyes are blue. The skin is a sunburned white, the nose straight and regular, the forehead high, and the lips thin. They wore whiskers and a pointed beard, and dressed in long robes furnished with a sort of cape. Their physical characteristics are those of the Libyan neighbors of the Egyptians on the west, the forefathers of the fair-skinned and blue-eyed Kabyles or Berbers who inhabit the mountains of northern Africa today.
Anthropologists connect these Libyans with the Kelts of our own islands. At one time, it would seem, a Kelto-Libyan race existed, which spread along the northern coast of Africa to western Europe and the British Isles. The Amorites would appear to have been an eastern offshoot of the same race.
Wherever they went, the members of the race buried their dead in rude stone cairns or cromlechs, the dolmens of the French antiquarians. We find them in Britain and France, in the Spanish peninsula, and the north of Africa. They are also found in Palestine, more especially in that portion of it which was the home of the Amorites. The skulls found in the cairns are for the most part of the dolichocephalic or long-headed type; this too is the shape of skull characteristic of the modern Kabyle, and it has been portrayed for us by the Egyptian artists in the pictures of their Amorite foes.
We even hear of Amorites in the mountain-block of Kadesh-barnea, in the desert south of Canaan; and the Amorite type of face, as it has been depicted for us on the monuments of Egypt, may still be often observed among the Arab tribes of the district between Egypt and Palestine
Amorites & Israelites
In the days of the Egyptian artists--the age of the Eighteenth and two following dynasties (B.C. 1600-1200)--the special seat of the Amorites was the mountainous district immediately to the north of Palestine. But Amorite kingdoms were established elsewhere on both sides of the Jordan. Not long before the Israelitish invasion, the Amorite king Sihon had robbed Moab of its territory and founded his power on the ruins of that of the Egyptian empire. Farther north, in the plateau of Bashan, another Amorite king, Og, had his capital, while Amorite tribes were settled on the western side of the Jordan, in the mountains of southern Canaan, where the tribe of Judah subsequently established itself.
Centers of Learning
From an early date libraries had existed in Babylonia stored with the literature of the country. Similarly, libraries now grew up in "the land of the Amorites," and the clay tablets with which they were filled made known to the west the legends and records of Chaldea. Amorite culture was modeled on that of Babylonia.
Amorites & Hittites
In the Old Testament the Amorites are constantly associated with another people, the Hittites.
When Ezekiel ascribes an Amorite parentage to Jerusalem, he ascribes to it at the same time a Hittite parentage as well.
...we are told that Kadesh on the Orontes, the Hittite capital, was "in the land of the Amorites." It was, in fact, on the shores of the Lake of Homs, in the midst of the district over which the Amorites claimed rule.
The Hittites of Hebron, however, may really have been an offshoot of the Hittite nations of the north. The "king of the Hittites" accompanied the northern barbarians when they invaded Egypt in the reign of Ramses III., and Hittite bands may similarly have followed the Hyksos conquerors of Egypt several centuries before.
The Canaanites were Semites in speech, if not in blood. The language of Canaan is what we term Hebrew, and must have been adopted either by the
Israelites or by the patriarchs their forefathers. Between the dialect of the Phoenician inscriptions and that of the Old Testament the difference is but slight.
In person, as we learn from the Egyptian monuments, the Canaanites resembled their descendants, the modern inhabitants of Palestine. They belonged to the white race, but had black hair and eyes
The general appearance, after intermarriage, of the Western Goth as he appeared in the Near-East. Pale skin, ruddy complexion and dark hair. Others of the race were lighter, and some darker. These men were the true Edomites or "Red Men." (Here for more...)
They dressed in brilliantly-coloured garments, stained with that purple or scarlet dying search of which they explored the coasts of the Greek seas, and which was extracted from the shell of the murex. On their feet they wore high-laced sandals; their hair was bound with a fillet. Their skill as sailors was famous throughout the Oriental world; the cities of the Phoenician coast already possessed fleets of ships in the age of the Eighteenth Egyptian dynasty, and their merchants carried on a maritime trade with the islands of the Aegean and the coast of Africa.
It is possible that the tin which was needed in such large quantities for the bronze tools and weapons of the ancient East was derived from Cornwall; if so, it would have been brought, like the amber, across Europe along the road which ended at the extremity of the Adriatic Gulf
The wealth of the Canaanite merchants was great. The spoils carried away to Egypt by Thothmes III. after his conquest of Palestine are truly astonishing. Beautiful vases of gold and silver, artistically molded bronzes, furniture carved out of ebony and cedar and inlaid with ivory and precious stones, were among the booty. Iron, which was found in the hills, was freely used, and made into armor, weapons, and chariots. It was "the chariots of iron" which prevented the Israelites from capturing and sacking the cities of the plains. Wealth brought with it a corresponding amount of luxury, which to the simpler Hebrews of the desert seemed extravagant and sinful. It was associated with a licentiousness which Canaanitish religion encouraged rather than repressed.
The religion was a nature-worship. The supreme deity was addressed as Baal or "Lord," and was adored in the form of the Sun.
By the side of Baal was his colourless wife, a mere reflection of the male divinity, standing in the same state of dependence towards him as the woman stood to the man. It was only the unmarried goddess, Asherah as she was called by the Canaanites, who had a personality of her own. And since Asherah came in time to be superseded by Ashtoreth, who was herself of Babylonian origin, it is probable that the idea of separate individuality connected with Asherah was due to the influence of Babylonian culture.
The temples of Ashtoreth were crowded with religious prostitutes, and the great festivals of Canaan were orgies of licentious sin.
Canaan & Egypt
The fourteenth century B.C. was a turning-point in the history of Canaan. It witnessed the fall of the Egyptian supremacy which had succeeded the supremacy of Babylonia; it also witnessed the severance of western Asia from the kingdoms on the Euphrates and Tigris, and the consequent end of the direct influence of Babylonian culture.
The Philistine invasion preceded that of the Israelites by a few years. The Philistines were sea-robbers, probably from the island of Krete...and their features, as represented on the Egyptian monuments, are of a Greek or Aryan type. They have the straight nose, high forehead, and thin lips of the European.
The Amorites. Note their aquiline features.
Of the religion of the Edomites we know but little. The supreme Baal was the sun-god Hadad; another god worshiped by them was Qaus or Kos. Of goddesses we hear nothing. The Israelites, however, recognized in the Edomites brethren of their own, whose religion was not far removed from that of the descendants of Jacob.
Osiris & Horus
Horus was addressed as "the Redeemer;" he had avenged the death of his father Osiris upon his enemy Set, the lord of evil, and through faith in him his followers were delivered from the powers of darkness. Horus, however, and Osiris were but forms of the same deity. Horus was the Sun-god when he rises in the morning; Osiris the Sun-god as he journeys at night through a world of darkness; and both were identical with Tum, the Sun-god of the evening.
The Pharaonic Egyptian resembled in body and character the typical native of Central Egypt to-day. He was long-headed, with a high and intellectual forehead, straight nose, and massive lower jaw. His limbs were well-proportioned and muscular, his feet and hands were small. He belonged to the white race, but his hair and eyes were black, the hair being also straight.
Menes made himself master of the north, and so united all Egypt under one rule. He then undertook and carried through a vast engineering work, one of the greatest the world has ever seen. The Nile was turned aside out of its old channel under the Libyan cliffs into a new channel to the east.
On the embankment thus won from the waters Menes built his capital, which bore the two names of Men-nefer or Memphis, "the Beautiful Place," and Ha-ka-Ptah or Aegyptos, "the Temple of the Double of Ptah." On the north side of it, in fact, stood the temple of Ptah, the local god, the scanty remains of which are still visited by the tourist.
The objects found in the tombs of Menes and his successors prove that the culture of Egypt was already far advanced.
The hieroglyphic system of writing was fully developed, tools and weapons of bronze were used in large quantities, the hardest stones of the Red Sea coast were carved into exquisitely-shaped vases, plaques of ivory were engraved with high artistic finish, and even obsidian was worked into vases by means of the lathe.
The Thirteenth dynasty came to an end in the midst of internal troubles. The short reigns of the kings of the dynasty that followed show that the line of the Pharaohs was again becoming feeble. It closed in disaster and overthrow. Hordes of invaders poured into Egypt from Asia and overran the whole country. They are known as the Hyksos or Shepherds, and the greater part of them were of Semitic descent. For 669 years they ruled the valley of the Nile in three dynasties, and the recollection of their hated sway never faded from the Egyptian mind. At first they burned and plundered, then they established themselves in Memphis and Zoan, and from thence governed the rest of the country. But they soon submitted to the influence of Egyptian culture. The conquered people took their conquerors captive, and the Hyksos kings became veritable Pharaohs. The manners and customs, the writing and titles of the native monarchs were adopted, and, in course of time even the language also. The court was filled with native officials, the cities and temples were restored, and Egyptian learning was patronized. One of the few Egyptian treatises on mathematics that have come down to us is dedicated to a Hyksos sovereign. It was only in religion that the new rulers of Egypt remained foreign.
They continued to worship a form of the Semitic Baal, who was invoked under the Hittite name of Sutekh (Set). An attempt to impose his worship upon the native Egyptians led to the war of independence which ended in the expulsion of the stranger.
The Hyksos were driven back into Asia, and the prince of Thebes was acknowledged the Pharaoh of an united Egypt (BC 1600).
It was while the Hyksos kings were reigning that Abraham visited the Delta. Their court was held at Zoan, now San, close to the Asiatic frontier, and on the frontier itself stood their fortress of Avaris, which served at once to bar the way from Asia and to overawe the conquered Egyptians.
Amen-hotep IV. was one of the most remarkable monarchs that have ever sat upon a throne. His father died while he was still a boy, and he was brought up under the Asiatic influences of his mother Teie (Tiye).
Amen-hotep changed his own name to Khu-n-Aten, "the glory of the solar disk," and every effort was made to extirpate the state religion.
The religious reforms of Khu-n-Aten resulted in the fall of the dynasty and the Egyptian empire.
Ramses the Great
Ramses II. was the great builder of Egypt. Go where we will, we find the remains of the temples he erected or restored, of the cities he founded, and of the statues he set up.
...Its first settlers--those who had founded its cities, who had invented the cuneiform system of writing and originated its culture--were of a wholly different race.
Abraham took with him to the west the traditions and philosophy of Babylonia, and found there a people already well acquainted with the literature, the law, and the religion of his fatherland.
Israel traced its origin to Babylonia. It was from "Ur of the Chaldees" that Abraham "the Hebrew" had come, the rock out of which it was hewn. Here on the western bank of the Euphrates was the earliest home of the Hebrews, of whom the Israelites claimed to be a part.
While the influence of Egypt upon Israel may be described as negative, that of Babylonia was positive. Abraham was a Babylonian by birth; the Asiatic world through which he wandered was Babylonian in civilization and government, and the Babylonian exile was the final turning-point in the religious history of Judah.
The Semitic Babylonians were allied in race and language to the Hebrews; they had common ideas and common points of view.
Another name for the Babylonians, derived from Kalda. Beaumont traces this group to ancient Scotland or Caledonia - Mtsar
The Babylonian king-name Marduk comes from Merodach, or more correctly Murdoch, a name well known in Ireland and Scotland. The same goes for names such as Ammon or Amun, etc, more correctly Eamon. Even the name Ra turns up in Ireland as Ri, meaning "high king," a root giving Ray, Roi, Rex, Regent, Red, Resh, etc. The first king of the New Kingdom of Babylonia Lugal takes his name from the Western sun-god Lugh. Place-names such as Lagash, Eridu and Erech are also based on Western-Aryan antetypes - Mtsar
The Kalda were the advance-guard of the Nabateans and other Aramaic tribes of northern Arabia, who migrated into Babylonia and pitched their tents on the banks of the Euphrates, first of all as herdsmen, afterwards as traders - AS
Babylonian literature went back to a remote date. The age of Sargon of Akkad was already a highly literary one, and the library he founded at Akkad contained works which continued to be re-edited down to the latest
days of Babylonian literature. Every great city had its library, which was open to every reader, and where the books were carefully catalogued and arranged on shelves.
...the Babylonians had been from the first a water-faring people, and the ship of war floated on the Euphrates by the side of the merchant vessel and the state barge of the king.
Babylonian influence is deeply imprinted on the Mosaic laws.
When first we get a glimpse of Babylonian history, the country is divided into a number of small principalities. They are all Sumerian, and among them the principality of Kish occupies a leading place.
The small states of Babylonia were constantly at war with each other, even though they shared in a common civilization, worshiped the same gods, and presented their offerings to the same sanctuary of Nippur. Southern Babylonia - or Kengi, "the land of canals and reeds," as it was often named - was already divided against the north.