Joe Baker
Judges 11 and the date of the exodus
Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:03
120.145.13.231

Hi All

I again say that in Judges 11, the letter said to be written by Jephthah, commander of the Gileadites to to the Ammonites is actually a letter sent by Jehpram, king of Israel, to Mesha, king of Moab in 851 BC. The letter has three sections. The first section is an introduction which has been modified to adapt it to the account of Jephthah. The second section is an historical preamble, taken from the contemporary J source, giving Israel’s “pseudo-historical” reasons for claiming possession of the area of northern Moab. The third section argues why contemporary Israel has the right to possess the area against Moabite aggression. Here is the letter with the edited material crossed out in red.

INTRODUCTION (Judges 11:12-15a)

And Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king to say: “What is it (between) you and me that you have come to me to fight against my land?” And the king of the Ammonites said to the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel took my land, when he came up from Egypt, from Arnon to the Jabbok and the Jordan. Now restore them peaceably”. And Jephthah again sent messengers to the Ammonite king, and he said to him: Thus says Jephthah says:

HISTORICAL PROLOGUE (Judges 11:15b-22) - which uses the J source

Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. But when Israel came up from Egypt, and went through the wilderness to the Swp Sea and came to Kadesh. And Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, to say, “Now let me pass through your land”, but the king of Edom did not listen. Also he sent to the king of Moab, and he would not accept. So Israel dwelt at Kadesh. And he travelled through the wilderness and circled the land of Edom and the land of Moab, and came by (the eastern) sunrise to the country of Moab and they encamped on the other side of Arnon, but they did not come into the territory of Moab for Arnon was the border of Moab. And Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon, and Israel said to him, “Now let us pass through your land to my place”. And Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. And Sihon gathered all his people and encamped in Jahaz and battled with Israel. And Yahweh, God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they struck them. and Israel took possession of all the land of the Amorites who inhabited that land, and they possessed all the territory of the Amorites from Arnon even unto the Jabbok and from the desert even unto the Jordan.

ISRAEL’S CLAIM VERSUS MOAB’S CLAIM TO THE LAND NORTH OF THE ARNON (Judges 11:23-27)

And since Yahweh, God of Israel, has disposed the Amorites from before his people Israel, why should you possess it? Do you not possess what Chemosh, your God, caused you to possess? Likewise, all that Yahweh, our God, has taken possession of before us, we will possess it. Now are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or battle with them? Israel dwelt in Heshbon and here settlements, and in Aroer and here settlements, and in all the towns which along the banks of Arnon, three hundred years. Why did you not retake them during that time? Now I have not wronged you, but you are doing wrong to me by engaging in battle against me. Let Yhwh, the Judge, judge this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.

The diplomatic exchange failed and Jehoram called up his ally, Jehoshaphat of Judah who also brought along the king of Edom (whom Jehoshaphat had set up (nṣb) in that position - 1 Kings 22:47), and marched south around the Dead Sea to attack Moab (2 Kings 3:5-27) in 850 BC. Mesha lost the battle and then failed in his attempt to flee north to the king of Aram (MT has ʾdm = Edom but this is an obvious confusion due to the similarity of of r and d in the Hebrew script - as happens several times in the Book of Kings). Eventually the allies withdrew and Moab continued to hold northern Moab.

The idealised origin tale of a united Israel returning from Egypt was popularised in the royal courts of David and Solomon, but the first traceable literary work is an account written by the J source in the late 850's. As to this date: Firstly, J’s version of the List of Nations names amongst the inhabitants of Canaan, the people of the cities of ʿrq, Syn, ʾrwd, Ṣmr and Ḥmt. This combination only makes historical sense in the light of the western alliance that defeated Salmanu-ašared of Assyria at Qarqar in 853 BC. The northern most members of this alliance are given by Salmanu-ašared as Irqanata (a miswriting of Irqata), Šiana (with the usual Assyrian š = Canaanite s), Armada (Arvad), Muṣra (some take this as the typical Semitic name for Egypt, but it is clearly a miswriting of Ṣimyra, especially as the Assyrian list places it between Gua (a miswriting of Gubal = Byblos) and Irqata) and Amata (Hamath). (The inscription is from a provincial site and contains quite a few spelling and grammar errors). Secondly, J’s version of the return of Israel was used in the above letter, written in 851 BC.

Israel’s justification is that Yahweh had given them possession of northern Moab after they had taken it from Sihon. In Numbers 32:34-38, J also names the places in northern Moab that he says were taken over by Israelite tribes (the names in red are those that Mesha claims to have taken back). Here the tribe of Gad occupied the southern part of North Moab and the tribe of Reuben the northern part of North Moab - and this being the oldest list is more accurate than the hopelessly out of touch P sources whose tribal distribution places Gad totally outside of Moabite territory.

And the Gadites built Dybn and ʿṭrt and ʿrʿr and ʿṭrt-šwpn, and Yʿzr and Ygbhh and Byt-Nmrh and Byt-Hrn fortified cities and sheepfolds and
the Rʾwbnites built Ḥšbwn and ʾlʿlʾ and Qrytym and Nbw and Bʿl-mʿwn ... and Śbmt ...

One objection against placing this letter in 851 BC is the claim (in the third section) that Israel had (continually) held the land north of the Arnon since the days they came up from Egypt, 300 years before (a claim that is contradicted by the account of Eglon, king of Moab in Judges 3:28-30). But we know from the Mesha stele that Moab had possessed this country, prior to its conquest by Omri. How can we reconcile these competing claims? The answer is that the tribe of Gad was claimed by both Israel and Moab. J claims that the tribe of Gad occupied Aṭaroth and this is conformed by Mesha who says that the men of Gad had occupied Aṭaroth “from time immemorial” (mʿlm) until the king of Israel built it for himself. This is evidence that Mesha saw the Gadites as indigenous Moabite who had dwelt there since living memory. The Israelite J source does not deny that the area was once Moabite for it says that northern Moab had been taken from Moab by Sihon and the Israelites had taken it from Sihon (Numbers 21:26).

Now the letter adds that northern Moab had been occupied by the Israelites for 300 years. This is significant for it means that the Israelites of 851 BC thought their version of an “Exodus” happened 340 years before. That is around 1191 BC, within 10 years of Setnakht’s expulsion of the Asiatics - the only Pharaoh to have left us a record of expelling Asiatics and the very Pharaoh whom Manetho says (according to Josephos’ listing order) expelled Moses. On this see my many posts including
http://disc.yourwebapps.com/discussion.cgi?disc=177754;article=9107

Regards Joe


    • re: Judges 11 and the date of the exodusMarianne Luban, Fri Aug 25 13:03
      Joe Baker wrote: "That is around 1191 BC, within 10 years of Setnakht’s expulsion of the Asiatics - the only Pharaoh to have left us a record of expelling Asiatics and the very Pharaoh whom Manetho... more
      • Re: Judges 11 and rhe date of the exodusJoe Baker, Sat Aug 26 11:08
        Hi Marianne I am currently in London and so away from my references. But, from memory, Ahmose and Hatšepsut do not mention expelling Asiatics OUT of Egypt. Ahmose son Abana fiights Asiatics inside... more
        • Re: Judges 11 and rhe date of the exodusMarianne Luban, Mon Aug 28 09:57
          Joe wrote: "I am currently in London and so away from my references. But, from memory, Ahmose and Hatšepsut do not mention expelling Asiatics OUT of Egypt. Ahmose son Abana fiights Asiatics inside... more
          • Re: Judges 11 and the date of the exodusJoe Baker, Fri Sep 1 13:33
            Hi Marianne You said that the inscription in the tomb of Ahmose son of Abana tells how, after the capture of Avaris, "the people were driven out and went to a place called Sharuhen". This is not... more
            • Re: Judges 11 and the date of the exodusMarianne Luban, Sun Sep 3 09:56
              Joe wrote: "You said that the inscription in the tomb of Ahmose son of Abana tells how, after the capture of Avaris, "the people were driven out and went to a place called Sharuhen". This is not... more
      • re: AumuRich McQuillen, Fri Aug 25 17:57
        "Aamu being expelled from Avaris?" -- Thank you for the accuracy with Aamu, instead of using the normally translated and vague term Asiatics. "Aamu" kind of sounds like Amorites to me. That's my bet... more
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