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4 years ago  ::  Apr 10, 2012 - 10:06PM #11
Posts: 2,795

I gave you the short 'standard' version and Dan gave you the longer 'academic' version - we are actually broadly in agreement (broadly) and it is important to note that the Egyptian contingent was quite likely originally from that same hill country - they did, after all, speak either the same or closely related languages, and apparently believed they had some tenuous family connections in common (and they may have). The end of Genesis has Jacob and family traveling down to Egypt from Canaan due to drought, and settling in the north delta country (Goshen). It is recognized by archeologists that such movements of nomadic or semi-nomadic tribesmen into northern Egypt was something that happened during drought periods, and also digs in the Goshen region have found remains of small houses that are remarkably similar to hill-country small houses in 'Canaan' of roughly the same period (roughly covers a lot of years).

The Merneptah Stele (an Egyptian monument memorializing Pharoah Merneptah's military victories) mentions a 'people' (not a country or a city) called Israel that can apparently be placed in the hill country of Canaan. I believe it dates to the thirteenth century BCE, which would put it somewhere after 'Moses' and sometime before 'King David' - that is, in the time of the judges.

The line mentioning Israel is grouped together with three other defeated states in Canaan (Gezer, Yanoam and Ashkelon) in a single stanza, beside multiple stanzas regarding his defeat of the Libyans. The line referring to Merneptah's Canaanite campaign reads:

Canaan is captive with all woe. Ashkelon is conquered, Gezer seized, Yanoam made nonexistent; Israel is wasted, bare of seed.[6]

The phrase "wasted, bare of seed" is formulaic, and often used of defeated nations. It implies that the store of grain of the nation in question has been destroyed, which would result in a famine the following year, incapacitating them as a military threat to Egypt.

"Israel is laid waste; its seed is no more."



ysrỉꜣr[8] fk.t bn pr.t =f
Israel waste [negative] seed/grain his/its

The stela does make clear that "Israel" at this stage refers to a people or tribal confederation, the Ancient Israelites, and not a kingdom or city state, since the determinative used is that for "foreign people", not that for "country".[9]

Israel is wasted, its seed is no longer.

While the other defeated Egyptian enemies listed besides Israel in this document such as Ashkelon, Gezer and Yanoam were given the determinative for a city-state—"a throw stick plus three mountains designating a foreign country"—the hieroglyphs that refer to Israel instead employ the determinative sign used for foreign peoples: a throw stick plus a man and a woman over three vertical plural lines. This sign is typically used by the Egyptians to signify nomadic tribes without a fixed city-state, thus implying that ysrỉꜣr "Israel" was the demonym for a seminomadic or rural population at the time the stele was created.[3]

so says Wiki, anyway.

Blessed are You, HaShem, Who blesses the years.
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4 years ago  ::  Apr 11, 2012 - 10:22AM #12
Posts: 137

Hi nieciedo!

Thank you for all of this interesting information!  I really appreciate and thank you for taking the time!

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4 years ago  ::  Apr 11, 2012 - 2:40PM #13
Posts: 7,467

Apr 10, 2012 -- 2:31AM, nieciedo wrote:

Another version (and this one is just as true as the Biblical account):

Originally, the land called Canaan was a province of the Egyptian empire. It was divided between settled city-states in the lowlands that were vassals of the Egyptian pharaoh and semi-nomadic tribes of shepherds in the highlands that were more-or-less independent.

There was conflict between the settled agriculturalists of the city-states and the nomadic shepherds, and there was conflict within the city-states between the upper classes that were aligned with the Egyptian overlords and the lower classes, the peasants and unemployed and working poor, the underclass and outcasts that the Egyptians called apiru.

Around about the mid-13th century BCE, the Egyptian government collapsed and lost control over some of its provinces. At the same time, Egyptian imperial weakness enabled the apiru in the Canaanite city-states to rebel against their rulers, the Egyptian vassals. They joined forces with the semi-nomadic highland shepherds and with a third group, one that came out of Egypt itself.

The highlanders and the apiru, both being Canaanite in origin, worshiped a pantheon of gods, the most important and powerful one was named El. El was the king and father of the gods, the lawgiver and judge. The group coming up from the south, from Egypt, worshipped the warrior god Yahweh.

The chief people associated with the worship of Yahweh all had Egyptian names:

Moses = mss = Egyptian for "child of" or "born of" a god (cf Rameses, "child of Ra," Thutmose, "child of Thoth")

Aaron = a'o ron = Egyptian for "great is the name" (the first element is the same as the second element in "Pharaoh" = pr a'o, "great house")

Miryam = mry- = Egyptian for "beloved one"

Pinechas = pnhs = Egyptian for "Nubian"

All the other major figures in the Exodus narrative have Semitic Canaanite names.

Either during the revolution or after, the group from Egypt that worshipped Yahweh decided that their god was the same god as the Canaanites who worshipped El. "El" means simply "god" or "mighty one."

When the Egyptian vassals had been overthrown, the Egyptian immigrants, the highland shepherds, and the apiru from the cities organized themselves into a new confederation of tribes that called themselves Israel and began to weave together a common mythic history to unite themselves into a single people.

There appears to be more to the story in that most of the names, including "El", were from the Sumerian language and religion.  "El" was the base name for "Eloheim" and "Allah", and he was as you said above.

What I don't know is exactly how much sharing of names may have went back and forth between early Egypt and Sumeria or exactly what originated where.  There appears to have been contact between the two prior to Egypt becoming an empire, but Egypt eventually dominates the scene as you well know.

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4 years ago  ::  Apr 11, 2012 - 3:01PM #14
Posts: 5,617

Interesting. I was not aware of the Sumerian deriviation of "El."

I suppose it's at least possible that it's a loanword, since I can't think of any other words that some from that root besides "Elohim.:

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