Carthaginians, Phoenicians & Berbers became Jews; Freud sided with Hannibal as a Jewish proxy against Rome -

Peter Myers, August 29, 2008; update August 19, 2011.

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"If, as seems to have been the case, a large number of former Phoenicians and Carthaginians had joined the Jewish community via conversion, they must have brought some of their commercial skills and contacts into their new communities."

- Economic History of the Jews, by Salo Baron, Arcadius Kahan and others, edited by Nachum Gross (Schocken Books, New York, 1975), p. 21.

The inside back cover says "Professor Salo Wittmayer Baron is the most distinguished living Jewish historian".

(1) A Correction to Toynbee: the Zoroastrian influence
(2) Epic of Gilgamesh - the connection between Sex and Death
(3) Cyrus H. Gordon on Gilgamesh bull-grappling in Crete (Minotaur, Labrynth), bullfight in Spain
(4) Indus Civilization shared the bull-cult with Sumeria too - Alain Danielou
(5) After fall of Carthage, many Carthaginians and Phoenicians became Jews; origin of Jews of Spain (a Carthaginian colony)
(6) Sigmund Freud sided with Hannibal as a Jewish proxy against Rome - Thomas Szasz (7) Donald B. Redford on Israel's debt to Egyptian culture
(8) Toynbee says that before Ezra, Judaism was polytheistic
(9) Spanish Jews were descendants of Berber converts - Shlomo Sand
(10) The conversion of the Punics and Berbers to Judaism
(11) Zionist nationalist myth of enforced exile - Shlomo Sand
(Schlomo Sand)

(1) A Correction to Toynbee: the Zoroastrian influence

Arnold J. Toynbee says that the Judaism we know was created in Babylon among the exiles.

He writes, "Judaism is a development of the Pre-Exilic religion of Judah that was created in and by the Babylonian diaspora and was imposed by it on the Jewish population in Judaea. ... There has also been the aim of converting the gentile world to the worship of Yahweh under the aegis of a world-empire centred on Eretz Israel and ruled by 'the Lord's Anointed': a coming human king of Davidic lineage." (Reconsiderations, p. 486).

And "It needed the subsequent missions of Nehemiah and Ezra, backed by the Achaemenian Imperial Government's authority, to make them ruefully conform to the new ideals of monotheism" (Reconsiderations, p. 429).

More from Toynbee at toynbee.html.

Toynbee thus agrees on the pivotal role of the Persian Empire in the formation of Judaism, but, despite his encyclopedic knowledge, did not comprehend the influence Zoroastrianism, as the religion of the First Persian Empire, had on Judaism.

Mary Boyce has since articulated that influence; what Toynbee sees as Jewish Universalism was largly borrowed from Zoroastrian concepts. For example Boyce writes, "The particular Gatha which provides striking parallels for Second Isaiah is Yasna 44" (A History of Zoroastrianism, Volmue 2, p. 46); Second Isaiah being what Toynbee calls Deutero Isaiah.

Mary Boyce has dramatically expanded our knowledge about the Zoroastrian religion, since the time Toynbee wrote.

The religion of the First Persian Empire (559-330 BC) was Zoroastrianism; it has shaped Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Marxism and Radical Feminism: zoroaster-judaism.html.

The Zoroastrian religion and its progeny: the ancestry of religious fundamentalism, and Marxist millennialism: zoroastrianism.html.

The Torah (including the Book of Genesis) was produced by Ezra around 458 BC, in the Persian Empire, and under the influence of its Zoroastrian religion. The word "pharisee" is derived from "parsee": bible.html.

Ezra created the Torah as a collage from previous written and oral sources, giving them an editorial workover. He composed the Exodus theme to encourage those exiled in Babylon - who were enjoying life there - to return to Palestine, and imposed a Monotheism more in keeping with the Zoroastrian religion of the Persian Empire than with traditional Hebrew polytheism - which had much in common with Canaanite religion: toynbee.html.

Did Judaism once have a Goddess? jewish-taoist.html.

(2) Epic of Gilgamesh - the connection between Sex and Death

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story about the connection between sex and death.

Through having sex, we give birth to children. As they grow up, the older generation must die off, to make room for new generations. If they did not, the earth would become over-populated.

This was the original theme of the Flood story too: the Gods made the Flood because the human population was expanding too much.

The story has a surprising relevance ecologically, today when we are trying to increase the human lifespan indefinitely, even denying the right to die to those who wish it.

The authors of the Jewish Bible reworked the earlier Sumerian/Mespotamian creation stories, reversing their meaning to create a counter-myth overthrowing, as it were, Sumerian civilization, and instead portraying Jews as the founders of civilization.

The licentiousness of the Epic of Gilgamesh is replaced by the puritanism of the Jewish Bible, with its rejection of the Goddess cult and the temple-prostitute-priestesses.

S. G. F. Brandon shows that the story of Adam and Eve, in the Book of Genesis, is derived from the Epic of Gilgamesh:

S. G. F. Brandon, Creation Legends of the Ancient Near East (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1963):

{p. 131} A more likely source of influence for the Yahwist's conception of Eve in this respect is provided once more by the Epic of Gilgamesh, and most notably too in the story of Enkidu, to which we have already made reference. This wild man, representative as we have seen of humanity

{p. 132} before civilisation, is lured away from his simple harmonious life with the animals, by a sacred courtesan who is sent out for the purpose from the city of Erech. By her wiles she makes him sexually conscious, she teaches him to eat bread and wear clothes, and finally brings him into the city and so ultimately to his doom. In describing this process of weaning the primaeval man from his natural innocence, the Epic contains one passage of especial significance for our interpretation of the Yahwist story, as we shall see. Having seduced him and with him sitting tamely at her feet, the courtesan exclaims: "Thou art wise, Enkidu, art become like a god!" {footnote 1: Epic of Gilgamesh, Tab. I, col. iv 34; cf. Tab. II, col. ii. 10-11.} Later, however, when he lays dying, Enkidu curses the woman who had tempted him away from his original simple life. {footnote 2: Op. cit., Tab. VII, col. iii. 5-37.} We have, then, in the Epic of Gilgamesh the figure of a woman, undoubtedly one of the temple prostitutes of Ishtar, the great fertility goddess, who seduces the type-figure of a primitive man from his original innocence and well-being by giving him sexual experience, which makes him god-like, but which sets him on the course that leads inevitably to his death.

{endquote} More at adam-and-eve.html.

(3) Cyrus H. Gordon on Gilgamesh bull-grappling in Crete (Minotaur, Labrynth), bullfight in Spain

Cyrus H. Gordon, Before the Bible: the Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilisations, Collins, London 1962.

{p. 50} Graphic art and written literature are two parallel expressions of any civilisation, and for present purposes, they must be treated in relation to each other. They often cover the same subject matter, though with some divergence between the pictorial and written traditions. In ancient Assyria and Egypt, the same historic events are often covered simultaneously by word and in pictures. In Medieval Europe, the unlettered masses who could not read Scripture were able to follow the abundant pictorial versions of Scripture supplied by Church art. (We are now entering a parallel situation, with "comic" or picture book versions of the classics, in which the visual account has made heavy inroads on the verbal.) The interesting fact for Sumer is that pictorial representations of the Mesopotamian classics appear many centuries before our earliest texts thereof. For example, the greatest Mesopotamian classic is the Gilgamesh Epic. Seals depicting scenes from the Gilgamesh Epic are exceedingly common, and begin about 1OOO years before the earliest cuneiform tablets dealing with those scenes. Accordingly, the materials out of which the Gilgamesh Epic was fashioned by the second millennium B.C. were circulating orally, and pictorially, around 3000 B.C. For example, the seals, starting in early Sumerian times, depict the heroes (Gilgamesh and Enkidu) grappling with

{p. 51} ferocious beasts. Specifically, Gilgamesh is often shown grappling either with a bull or with the mythological human-headed Bull of Heaven. In all probability the Gilgamesh Epic reached the shores of the Aegean by the middle of the second millelmium B.C. Besides, translations of the Epic into Hurrian and Hittite in Asia Minor reflect its popularity in that part of the world, and it is hard to imagine how it could avoid circulation in Greek, perhaps in written but certainly in oral form, in Ionia and the Aegean islands. The advent of the Gilgamesh Epic to the Aegean explains the many intimate relationships between that Epic and the earliest Greek traditions embodied in the Heracles Cycle and in Homer and Hesiod. Against this background, Sumero-Akkadian bull-grappling takes on special significance.

Regardless of religious or other idcological content, Sumero-Akkadian bull-grappling had also its sportive side. This is abundantly clear from representations showing the beast wearing a wrestling belt on which the hero secures his hold. We are confronted by the fact that we can no longer dissociate the major sport depicted in Sumerian art from the same major sport depicted in Minoan art. The two schools of bull-grappling have differences in detail, but they are, nonetheless, reflexes of one tradition. From the Minoan centre, bull-fighting spread to different parts of the Mediterranean. No one will question that the different schools of bull-fighting in Spain, Portugal and Southern France are reflexes of one tradition. By the same token, a common origin for Sumerian and Minoan bull-grappling is indicated

{p. 52} by historic connections between the two peoples in time and place.

There is a further ramification of bull-grappling that cements the Sumero-Minoan tie-in. The Sumerian Bull of Heaven is an evil monster, partly bovine and partly human in form, slain by the heroes of the Epic. It is hard to dissociate all this from the story of the evil Minotaur, part bovine and part human, slain by the hero Theseus. It is true that the Sumerians represented the Bull of Heaven with human head and bull's body, whereas the later Greek representations of the Minotaur, depict him with human body and bull's head. Textual descriptions such as Plutarch's, state merely that he was partly bovine and partly human. In any case, variations are to be expected in two divergent schools stemming from a common heritage.

{end} More at gordon.html.

(4) Indus Civilization shared the bull-cult with Sumeria too - Alain Danielou

Alain Danielou, Gods of Love and Ecstasy: The Traditions of Shiva and Dionysus (Inner Traditions, Rochester, Vermont 1992; translated from the French by East-West Publications). Also published under the title Shiva and Dionysus.

{p. 24} The towns of the Indus were founded betore 3800 B.C. and lasted until their destruction in 1800 B.C. by the Aryan invaders. The principal religion of the Indus civilization was withbut doubt Shivaism. Extant seals represent an ithyphallic and horned Shiva seated in a Yoga position. or dancing triumphantly as Nataraja. Numerous Shivaite symbols are also found there, such as stone phalli, swastikas. and the images of the bull, the serpent and the Goddess of the Mountains.

"The likelihood that both Shiva and linga (phallus) - worship have been inherited by the Hindus from the Harappans is perhaps reinforced by the prevalence of the bull ... [and also] in less degree, to the tiger, elephant... and 'Minotaurs'... as well as man-faced animals." (Wheeler, ibid., p. 109. )

Given the importance of the contacts mentioned above. it is not at all surprising that the same religion and symbols are found extending from India to the Mediterranean. The problems posed by the Aryan invasions are the same and the survivals of this ancient religion and its periodic reappearance are similar in India, the Middle East and the West.

{p. 35} The birth of Dionysus

The beginnings of Minoan civilization seem to stretch back to the middle of the fifth millennium and are therefore contemporary with predynastic Egypt. The greatest Minoan period, however, as shown by its incredible artistic development, (which may well be a period of spiritual decadence and does not necessarily correspond to a parallel progress on an intellectual and religious level), stretches from about 2800 to about 1800 B.C. The monumental temples in Malta were built between 2800 and 20000. This Mediterranean civilization is thus contemporary with the postdiluvian Sumerian civilization and also with the greatest period of Mohenjo Daro and the cities of the Indus, with which there is an evident relationship. Whatever the importance of the most ancient archaeological data emerging from all over the Mediterranean world - Anatolia and the Middle East, as well as of Sumerian or Babylonian literary references - it is only with the Minoan civilization and its Greek heritage that Shivaite rites and myths, in their Dionysian version, make their real debut into what we know as the religious history of the Western world.

Cretan civilization developed due to a considerable contribution from Asian civilizations. "Neolithic Crete may be considered as the most important extension of the Anatolian province as a whole." (Evans, The Palace of Minos, chap. 1, p. 14.) Relations with Egypt, Greece and the Middle East were constantly maintained throughout Cretan history. "Trained... architects and painters... were invited... from Asia (possibly from Alalakh... ) to build and decorate the palaces of the Cretan rulers... The technique of fresco painting... and methods of construction ... employed in Yarim-Lim's palace. [on the Syrian coast] are the same as those... of Knossos... Moreover, Yarim-Lim's palace antedates by more than a century the Cretan examples in the same style." ( R. F. Willetts, Cretan Cults and Festivals, p. 17.)

According to Homer (Odyssey XIX, 178), Minos governed Crete and the isles of the Aegean three generations before the Trojan War, which took place during the thirteenth century B.C. He is therefore referrjng to the second Cretan civilization, which was influenced by the Achaeans. As in the Mesopotamian civilizations, many elements characteristic of Shivaism are found in Minoan Crete: the young god, the Goddess of the Mountain, the bull and the Minotaur, the snake, the horns, the lion, the he-goat, the sacred tree and the phallic pillar, the bull sacrifice and the esctatic dance of the Korybantes and

{p. 36} Kouretes, who are in all aspects identical to the Ganas, the young companions of Shiva and his followers.

{end} More at danielou-paglia.html.

(5) After fall of Carthage, many Carthaginians and Phoenicians became Jews; origin of Jews of Spain (a Carthaginian colony)

The fall of Carthage marked the end of the Phoenician/Carthaginian civilization, which Arnold J. Toynbee classed as part of Syriac Civilization.

After the destruction of Carthage by Rome, many Carthaginians and Phoenicians converted to Judaism, because Jerusalem was the only remaining centre of West Semitic civilization.

Spain had been a Carthaginian colony. This conversion by Carthaginians is the likely origin of the large Jewish communities of Spain and North Africa.

John Rose wrote, in his article Karl Marx, Abram Leon and the Jewish Question - a reappraisal (International Socialism: A quarterly journal of revolutionary Socialism, Issue 119, 24 June 08

{quote} ... Large numbers of Phoenicians and Carthaginians became Jewish, bringing with them "their commercial skills".26 Islamic expansion throughout the Mediterranean arena and beyond enhanced the Jewish trading role: "Jewish traders served as important mediators in a world divided by Islam and Christianity ... By the 9th century Hebrew had become a leading international language".27 {endquote}

Endnotes 26 & 27 are as follows:

26: Baron et al, 1975, p21. 27: Baron et al, 1975, pp28-29.

The reference is to Baron, Salo, Arcadius Kahan, et al (eds), 1975, Economic History of the Jews (Keter). Salo Baron is an eminent Jewish historian.

Equal attestation that Carthaginians and Phoenicians became Jews is provided by Lionel Curtis - the predecessor of Arnold J. Toynbee and Samuel P. Huntington as the most eminent intellectual in the Round Table and its CFR affiliate.

Curtis wrote in his book Civitas Dei: The Commonwealth of God (MacMillan and Co., London, 1938):

{p. 90} The Greek, Roman and Phoenician world had grown to be one economic unit. The premature death of Alexander and the absorption of his successors in the task of maintaining their various dynasties left Rome and Carthage to decide this phase of the long struggle between eastern and western ideas. As in the previous struggle of Greece with Persia, the issue was really decided by the relative merits of the two social systems. In the Roman polity the idea that a citizen owed more to the public interest than to himself was still uppermost, and stronger even than the passion for individual wealth. When all was lost the Carthaginians {i.e. Phoenicians} rose to heights of heroism, and, true to the tradition of the Semite race, they fought like lions when driven to their lair. With the total destruction of Carthage in 146 B.C. Rome was left with no serious rival in the Mediterranean.

{p. 91} In less than a hundred years from the fall of Carthage the Roman republic had mastered the entire basin of the Mediterranean, the west of Europe from the Rhine to the Atlantic, and the whole Greek world including most of the conquests of Alexander, that is to say, Egypt, Syria and Asia as far as the Euphrates. The civilisation imposed on this vast area was neither Greek nor Latin but a fusion of both, Greek elements prevailing in the east and Latin in the west.

{p. 96} In the earlier records of Greece and Rome we meet the Phoenician traders everywhere scattered along the coasts of the Mediterranean. But after the fall of Carthage they seem to fade from the pages of history. Before the time of Caesar we meet the Jews in every part of the Graeco-Roman world, filling the place which the Phoenicians once occupied in the commercial life of the Mediterranean. Paul in his journeys finds a settlement of his countrymen in almost every city which he visits.

The explanation is fairly obvious. So long as Carthage remained the greatest centre of Semitic life, the mistress of Greek cities in Sicily and the formidable rival of Rome, the Phoenicians wherever they lived and traded boasted their race and their name. The splendour and wealth of Carthage covered the monstrous religion of which she was the centre with a cloak of respectability. But when Carthage was wiped from the map the cloak fell off and the Phoenicians in the Graeco-Roman world learned to be ashamed of human sacrifice practised in its most revolting form.

Carthage fell in 146 B.C. It so happened that their near kindred, the Jews, at that very moment had reached a stage in their history which recalled the days of the house of David.

{p. 102} The Jews proudly viewed themselves as the people to whom the God of the universe had chosen to reveal not only his nature but the ritual and law by which men ought to live. Believing this, it was natural that, under Pharisee influence, they should wish to convert others to their faith. Their readiness at this stage of their history 'to compass sea and land to make one proselyte' is a well-established historical fact. The edict of Hadrian forbidding circumcision, at least of proselytes, was needed to quench it. With Jerusalem in her glory and Carthage in ruins the scattered Phoenician traders with their close racial affinity to the Jews were likely to be the readiest converts. From the time of Plato a certain drift towards monotheism had begun to affect the thought of the Graeco-Roman world. The Greeks and Romans viewed the religion of Jehovah with involuntary respect, and until the fall of Jerusalem regular provision was made by Roman emperors for sacrifice to be offered in the Temple on their behalf. The Jewish communities in Rome and elsewhere were allowed to lead their separate life and accorded certain privileges. Except in Judea and Mesopotamia they had generally adopted the Greek language, and after the fall of Carthage the Phoenician traders no doubt followed suit. They had thus every motive as well as every facility for abandoning the worship of Baal, with its hideous and barbarous rites, for that of Jehovah and for merging themselves in the Jewish communities. The process was gradual, and we know from Tertullian that up to the time of Tiberius they were still suspected of reverting to the practice of child sacrifice.

The upshot was that after the fall of Carthage the

{p. 103} Jews replaced the Phoenicians as the champions of Semitic culture in opposition to Graeco-Roman civilisation.

{endquote} More at curtis2.html.

(6) Sigmund Freud sided with Hannibal as a Jewish proxy against Rome - Thomas Szasz

Thomas Szasz, The Myth of Psychotherapy: Mental Healing as Religion, Rhetoric, and Repression (Anchor Press/Doubleday, NY, 1978).

{p. 138} Sigmund Freud: The Jewish Avenger

{p. 146} In print and in public, Freud insists, with the voice of the wounded savant, that psychoanalysis is a science like any other and has nothing to do with Jewishness. In person and in private, however, he identifies psychoanalysis, with the voice of the prophet militant, as a Jewish creation and possession.

One of Freud's most powerful motives in life was the desire to inflict vengeance on Christianity for its traditional anti-Semitism. This idea has been suggested by Freud himself, and has been alluded to by others. In The Interpretation of Dreams, where Freud tells us so much about himself, he relates one of his dreams in which he is in Rome. To explain it, he offers the following episode about his childhood:

I had actually been following in Hannibal's footsteps. Like him, I had been fated not to see Rome; and he too had moved into the Campagna when everyone had expected him in Rome. But Hannibal, whom I had come to resemble in these respects, had been the favourite hero of my later school days. Like so many boys of that age, I had sympathized in the Punic Wars not with the Romans but with the Carthaginians. And when in the higher classes I began to understand for the first time what it meant to belong to all alien race, and anti-Semitic feelings among the other boys warned me that I must take up a definite position, the figure of the Semitic general rose still higher in my esteem. To my youthful mind Hannibal and Rome symbolized the conflict between the tenacity of Jewry and the organization of the Catholic church . And the increasing importance of the effects of the anti-Semitic movement upon our emotional life helped to fix the thoughts and feelings of those early days. At that point I was brought up against the event in my youth whose power was still being shown in my dreams. I may have been ten or twelve years old, when my father began to take me with him on his walks and reveal to me in his talk his views

{p. 147} upon things in the world we live in. Thus, it was on one such occasion that he told me a story to show me how much better things were now than they had been in his days. 'When I was a young man,' he said, 'I went for a walk one Saturday in the streets of your birthplace; I was well dressed, and had a new fur cap on my head. A Christian came up to me and with a single blow knocked off my cap into the mud and shouted: "Jew! get off the pavement!"' 'And what did you do?' I asked. 'I went into the roadway and picked up my cap,' was his quiet reply. This struck me as unheroic conduct on the part of the big, strong man who was holding the little boy by the hand. I contrasted this situation with another which fitted my feelings better: the scene in which Hannibal's father, Hamilcar Barca, made his boy secar before the household altar to take vengeance on the Romans. Ever since that time, Hannibal had had a place in my phantasies.
{end quote; endnote 28}

Hannibal, the African - whom Freud calls a "Semite" - takes vengeance on the Romans who conquered and humiliated the Carthaginians. Freud, the Semite, takes vengeance on the Christians who conquered and humiliated the Jews. Hannibal was tenacious and had a seeret weapon: elephants. Freud, too, was tenacious, and he, too, had a secret weapon: psychoanalysis. Hannibal's elephants terrorized his enemies whom the animals then trampled to death. Freud's psychoanalysis terrorized his enemies whom his "interpretations" then degraded into the carriers of despicable diseases. The story of Freud's life and the story of psychoanalysis in his lifetime are variations on the theme of justified vengeance in the pattern not only of the legendary Hannibal but also of the literary Count of Monte Cristo: the humiliated but morally superior victim escapes from dependence on his morally inferior victimizers; he hides, schemes, and grows powerful; he returns to the scene of his defeat, and there remorselessly humiliates and subjugates his erstwhile victimizers as they had humiliated and subjugated him.

{end} More at freud.html.

(7) Donald B. Redford on Israel's debt to Egyptian culture

Donald B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times (Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1992):

{p. 382} Akhenaten's circle was that of the most sophisticated court in the world, and it stamped his program indelibly. For generations this court had been strongly influenced if not dominated by the royal females, and its customs, life-style, and art are influenced by a sort of feminine energy. Cleanliness and purity were taken for granted. The cult arrangements were reduced to a minimum, but were anything but rustic. Elaborate altars of cut stone and cult paraphernalia of gold and electrum abounded in the centers where worship was carried on. While the simplistic perception of a people from the steppe dictated that Yahweh actually dwelt in his tent, the more sophisticated Egyptian concept promoted the notion that god did not have a terrestrial house: "Heaven is thy temple" sang the hymnist.65 Earthly shrines comprising open-air courts with offering tables were really viewing places and worshiping centers for the people, not the abode of the sun disk.

When we pass to the cult, it is similarly difficult to find more than a scattering of superficial features that recall Egyptian practices. The Israelite

{p. 383} offering cult has long since appeared in its rightful context within the Late Bronze Canaanite tradition, thanks to the evidence from Ugarit. Its festivals are tied to the Levantine agricultural calendar and the Egyptian prototypes suggested seem farfetched.66 On the other hand major festival cycles of the Egyptian calendar are not represented at all among the Hebrews.67

{p. 384} Certain it is, however, that some of the technical terms designating priestly costume are Egyptian in origin. The "sash" or "girdle" (Hebrew 'abnet: Exod. 28:4, 29:9, 9:29; Lev. 8:7,13, etc.) is a loanword from an Egyptian root meaning "to wrap"; while the "ephod" (Exod. 28: 4, 6;1 Sam. 2:18, 6:14, 22:18, etc.), often of linen, comes from a common Egyptian word for a type of linen perhaps distinguished by the weave.


It would be curious if the long association of Egypt and Canaan during the empire had not resulted in the transfer of certain Egyptian images and forms within the sphere of hymnology and poetry. Belle-lettristic creations in metric form constituted an oral tradition disseminated all over the Near East, but only in certain centers (like Egypt) was there an indigenous source powerful enough to foster mimesis in adjacent regions. A quick perusal of polite forms of address contained within the Amarna corpus will prove this to have been the case. The Canaanite mayors,

{p. 387} through their enforced sojourn in Egypt in their youth, were more familiar than the rest of their countrymen with polite forms of discourse current at Pharaoh's court; and these abound in their private letters to the king. It was solar "theology," to the exclusion of other more recondite aspects of Egyptian imagery, that cast a spell over the Canaanite. Pharaoh to them was "my god, my sun, the Sun in heaven," "the son of the Sun," "hale like the Sun in heaven," "the Sun of (all) lands" - all direct translations of native Egyptian phrases. In fact one extended salutation in a letter of the king of Tyre, Abi-milki (EA 147: 5-13), really constitutes an Egyptian sun hymn done directly and literally into Akkadian! "My lord is the Sun god who rises over the foreign lands every day as his gracious father the sun has ordained; one who gives life by his sweet breath and languor when he is hidden, who pacifies the entire land with the power of his mighty arm, who emits his roar in heaven like Ba'al, and the whole earth shakes with his roar."

The solar imagery remained firmly fixed in the poetic repertoire of Canaan, especially the coastal cities, long after the disappearance of the empire. The marvelous panegyric on the nature and activity of god in Psalm 104, written during the second-quarter of the first millennium B.C., draws on both ancient Canaanite epic and Egyptian solar hymns. Verses 3 to 18 describe Yahweh in terms of Ba'al, triumphant over Prince Yam, ensconced on the mountains and sustaining the earth, whereas verses 2 and 19 to 30 draw specifically on the phraseology and imagery of Akhenaten's hymn to the sun disk. (Table 6).

{p. 389} The penitential psalm is also attested in Egypt. ... The Egyptian penitential psalms are preserved on stelae, often with a depiction of the speaker in the pious attitude of adoration, and were destined for public display in a temple or shrine. The text betrays all the earmarks of oral-formulaic compositionl and usually incorporates an appeal to the god, a description of the sickness (blindness or a respiratory ailment), a confession of sin, and a vow to testify to the god's saving power. An extension of the situation has the victim, now healed and once again in the god's good grace, fulfilling his vow by delivery of a "testimony" and enjoying the praising of the deity by all and sundry.

Despite a number of parallels, there can be no question of Israel's dependence on Egypt for the penitential psalm. The "life situation" from which the psalm arises is too common to posit dependence; and it may not be fortuitous that it appears in Egypt only with the increased contact with Asia occasioned by the empire.

In poetry a certain similarity in genre and treatment can be established between extant New Kingdom love poetry and the Song of Songs.

{end} More at moses.html.

(8) Toynbee says that before Ezra, Judaism was polytheistic

ARNOLD J. TOYNBEE , A Study of History VOLUME XII RECONSIDERATIONS (Oxford University Press, London 1961).

{p. 406} The civilization (whether unitary or multiple) that we find in Syria in the last millennium B.C. was not only contemporary with the Hellenic Civilization; it also displays some striking resemblances to it. In contrast to the irrigational civilizations in the lower Tigris-Euphrates basin, the lower valley and the delta of the Nile, and the Indus basin, the Syriac World resembled the Hellenic World in depending on rain for the watering of its rare fields and in eking out its scanty agricultural resources by long-distance maritime enterprise. (Even the landlocked highland canton of Judah took the Phoenicians into partnership for opening up sea-borne trade with countries on the Indian Ocean as soon as Judah had acquired a south-sea port at Elath at the head of the Gulf of 'Aqabah.) The Syriac World in this age also resembled the Hellenic World in its political configuration. It too presents itself, when the curtain rises on its history, as a mosaic of small sovereign independent states. These Syriac statelets, like their Hellenic counterparts, were perennially at war with each other; and, though they occasionally made common cause against formidable aggressors from outside, they too were eventually extinguished, as the Hellenic statelets were, by empire-builders on the grand scale.

Was the relation between the Syriac and Hellenic civilizations even closer than this? Was it a relation, not only of resemblance, but of affinity ? In previous volumes of this book I suggested that the Syriac Civilization might prove to be the Hellenic Civilization's 'sister', in the sense of being affiliated, as the Hellenic Civilization was, to the antecedent Minoan-Helladic-Mycenaean Civilization in the Aegean area. Indisputably the Minoan-Helladic-Mycenaean Civilization was one of the Syriac Civilization's sources. From at least half-way through the second millennium B.C. onwards, until the Mycenaean Civilization

{p. 407} foundered, Minoan-Helladic-Mycenaean cultural influences had been playing on the coast of Syria with increasing intensity; and, after that, the Volkerwanderung of the 'Sea Peoples', which had been set in motion soon after the beginning of the twelfth century B.C. by the Mycenaean Cilization's last convulsions, had deposited two peoples from the Aegean or from its hinterlands, the Zakkaru (Teucrians) and the Philistines, along the southernmost stretch of the Syrian coast, from the south side of Mount Carmel to the north-east frontier of Egypt.

{p. 425} 'The Book of Judges makes it clear that it was not by defeating

{p. 426} the Canaanites, but by defending them, that Israel obtained a dominant position in Palestine.' The common enemy in this chapter of history was the Nomad peoples who were now trying to force their way into Palestine at the Israelites' heels. In the period following the end of the Hebrew-Aramaean Volkerwanderung the Israelites were in danger of suffering the fate of being invaded and overrun that they had inflicted on the Canaanites - the more so because the domestication of the camel had given the Israelites' successors on the North Arabian steppe a new weapon that the Israelites themselves had never possessed. The Israelites, before becoming peasants, had been mere ass-nomads without prestige. The first recorded eruption of camel-nomads out of the desert into the sown is a Midianite raid on Palestine in the early eleventh century B.C. In the next chapter of history in Syria the pressure from the Philistines, that fused Judah into a unity and pushed her into association with Israel, led her war-lord David to make an alliance with Tyre. In the ninth century the pressure from the Assyrians moved Tyre and the Kingdom of Israel to make a similar alliance and to cement it by a royal marriage (Ahab and Jeebel). The extensive, though ephemeral, coalitions of Syrian states against Assyria have been noticed already.

In these conducive circumstances the intercourse between the different local peoples in Syria became both more intensive and more intimate in all the main fields of social and cultural activity. The local princes and their professional officials and officers might go to war with each other besides fighting side by side against common enemies; but all the time they were evidently on familiar terms with each other, and this familiarity was not confined to the diplomatic level. Before David made his political treaty with Tyre, the north-western Israelite tribes in the highlands of Galilee may already have been finding an economic outlet in Phoenicia. The Song of Deborah chides Dan for staying on board ship and Asher for sitting on the sea-shore instead of responding to the call to arms against Sisera. Solomon and Hiram went into partnership in maritime ventures in the Indian Ocean. In ninth-century treaties between the states of Damascus and Israel it was stipulated by the state which momentarily had the upper hand that the weaker contracting party should assign a quarter in its capital city to the stronger party's merchants. Solomon's temple at Jerusalem and the works of art with which it was adorned were made for him by Phoeni-

{p. 423} cian craftsmen lent by Hiram. And 'Israelite art, from the ninth to the early sixth century B.C., reflects a stage of Phoenician art during which the latter was diffused throughout the Mediterranean, transforming Greek art completely.'

We can follow the process of fusion in the field of language and literature too. The Hebrews (including the Moabites) adopted not only the Canaanite language but also the Phoenician alphabet for writing it. The Aramaeans kept their own language; but they too borrowed the Phoenician alphabet and adapted it to Aramaic by using four of the Phoenician consonants to stand for vowels as well. The discovery of the Ugarit texts shows that the Biblical Psalms, whatever their date, are indebted to a Phoenician hymnology that had a long tradition behind it. The Phoenicians also seem likely to have been the intermediaries through whom some of the Egyptian proverbs of Amenemope found their way into the Biblical Book of Proverbs almost verbatim. And the Canaanite origin of chapters viii-ix of the Book of Proverbs, on the theme of Wisdom, is attested by echoes here of themes in the Phoenician literature disinterred at Ugarit. The Sumero-Akkadian story of the creation of the World must have found its way to Palestine long before the Israelites' advent there, and must have been learnt by them from the Canaanites on whom they imposed themselves. Canaanite elements have not been detected in the eighth-century B.C. prophetic literature of Israel and Judah. But they reappear thereafter. 'There is a veritable flood of allusions to Canaanite (Phoenician) literature in Hebrew works composed between the seventh and the third century B.C.: e.g. in Job, Deutero-Isaiah, Proverbs, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, the Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Jubilees, and part of Daniel. Albright sees in this a a consequence of a Phoenician literary renaissance associated with the name of Sanchuniathon - a Phoenician historian whose date, in Albright's belief, is either the seventh or the sixth century B.C.

Robinson holds that the Israelites also acquired the 'Mosaic' Law from the same source at the same stage in their history.

'Not only are many of the laws designed for an agricultural and commercial community, and none of them confined to a nomad tribe, but they

{p. 424} closely resemble that type of code which we know to have been general current in Western Asia. Four forms are known a fragmentary Sumerian code, that of Hammurabi, proper to Babylonia, an Assyrian code and a Hittite code. ... A comparison of these with the Israelite code shows that they cannot be independent of each other. ... [But] none of them i directly derived from one of the others. ... As compared with the other codes, those of Israel were closely adapted to an agricultural community rather than to a commercial people.'

This brings us to the crucial and controversial question whether the religion of Israel and Judah, in the age between the immigrant peoples settlement on the land as cultivators and the rise of the revolutionary prophets about half-way through the eighth century B.C., differed in any significant way from the religion of the other contemporary communities in Syria. If a pilgrim from Ya'udi or Hamath or Damascus had visited a tenth-century or ninth-century rural shrine in Israel, or a fortiori, the temple at Jerusalem that had been built and furnished for Solomon by Tyrian artificers, would he have been conscious of any striking contrast with the shrines of his own country? The accounts, in the Second Book of Kings, of the successive purges of Solomon's Temple by Hezekiah in 705 B.C. and by Josiah in 621 B-C show that down to Hezekiah's time, the brazen serpent Nehushtan had held its own in the sanctuary of Jerusalem side by side with Yahweh's ark, and that in Josiah's time Yahweh shared the temple with the god Baal, the goddess Asherah (whose symbol Hezekiah was said to have cut down) and the heavenly bodies - in particular the Sun, to whom chariots and horses were dedicated there as votive offerings. In 621 B.C. the temple at Jerusalem also housed consecrated prostitutes, male as well as female; and in the valley of Hinnom, below Jerusalem on the city's south side, was a 'tophet' where children were sacrificed by being burnt alive - a cult to which the Carthaginians, too, were addicted.

Ritual prostitution was an agricultural fertility rite which was common to Syria and the Sumero-Akkadian world; and it may have come to Syria from there. Human sacrifice was an atrocity of Syria's own. If it had ever been practised in Sumer and Akkad or in Egypt, it was extinct there in historical times. The Assyrians were innocent of it. The slaughter and torture of which they were guilty had no religious sanction or excuse. In the Syriac World, both at home and overseas, human sacrifice was practised as a last resort in a public crisis. In the ninth century B.C. King Mesha of Moab sacrificed his eldest son on the wall of his capital city when the combined forces of Israel, Judah, and Edom were at the gates. In similar circumstances King Ahaz of Judah 'caused his son to pass through the fire' when Jerusalem was being besieged by the combined forces of Damascus and Israel in the eighth century. King Manasseh of Judah - Hezekiah's son and Josiah's

{p. 425} grandfather - 'made his son to pass through the fire' without, as far as we know, having Mesha's and Ahaz's occasion for performing the rite.

{Toynbee's description of how the Torah was created by editors, below, should be supplemented by Richard Friedman's exposition: More at bible.html}

The Torah as we have it today has been edited and re-edited to make it conform with successive phases through which religion passed in Judah and in the subsequent Jewish diaspora in and after the eighth century B.C. Hence the recorded identification of Yahweh with other gods, and association of other gods with him, are represented in retrospect as having been lapses from a previous strict Mosaic monotheism, while purges such as Hezekiah's and Josiah's are represented as having been reformations. Considering that syncretism and polytheism seem to have been the normal practice in Israel and Judah, as well as in other Syriac communities, in this age, it might be nearer to the historical truth to think of Hezekiah and Josiah as having been iconoclastic innovators, and of Manasseh and Amon as having been pious conservatives. At any rate, this is how these posthumously anathematized religious reactionaries must have appeared to themselves, and they had history on their side. Among the theophoric names given to members of Saul's and David's families, there were names compounded with 'Baal' as well as names compounded with Yahweh. On the other hand, 'Yahweh', not 'Baal', was the god-compound in the names of all the three children of Ahab, the King of Israel who tolerated his Tyrian wife's propagation in his kingdom of the cult of her own national god. Ahab evidently did not agree with Elijah that, in showing this tolerance to Melkart, he was being disloyal to Yahweh. Of the personal names inscribed on ostraka found at Samaria and dating from the years 778-770 B.C., the ratio of personal names compounded with 'Yahweh' to those compounded with 'Baal' is 11:7. Conversely, names compounded with 'Yahweh' appear in kingdoms in which Yahweh was not the national god. An Azriyahu king of Ya'udi, who figures in the Assyrian records in the years 740-738 B.C., is an Azariah, but his kingdom is not Judah but Sam'al. A king of Hamath who was flayed alive by Sargon in 720 B.C. bore the name of Yahu-bi'di (alias Ilu-bi'di). Azriyahu's contemporary and neighbour King Bar-Ga'yah of Katka, may also have borne the mark of Yahweh in the second half of his name. Already in the tenth century B.C. the son of David's friend King To'i of Hamath had borne the name I Joram.

At this stage of religious development it was natural that the peoples of Syria, including those that were Yahweh-worshippers, should each tolerate and even welcome the association of its neighbour's gods with its own national god, so long as the national god's primacy on his own

{p. 426} ground was not challenged. Subject to this, it was felt to be prudent to conciliate the neighbours' gods since all agreed in believing, not merely in the existence of each local god, but in the potency of each of them in his own national domain. The Yahweh-worshipping besiegers of Qir-Hareseth evidently believed in the potency of Chemosh within the frontiers of Moab; for Mesha's counter-move of conjuring Chemosh by the sacrifice of his eldest son caused them to beat a hasty retreat in the belief that Mesha's action had heen efficacious in calling down on them Chemosh's wrath. This is surely the light in which we have to interpret Elijah's opposition in Israel to the Tyrian queen Jezebel's attempt to impose her national god Melkart on her husband's Yahweh worshipping subjects, and the subsequent revolution in which Jehu stamped out the Tyrian cult by ruthless massacres. Seen in retrospect through Jewish eyes, this counter-movement was interpreted as a return to a temporarily compromised Mosaic monotheism. Probably it would be nearer the truth to see in it an outbreak of national chauvinism of the kind that, at Athens in 399 B.C., inspired the prosecution of Socrates on a charge of addiction to new gods, and that repeatedly inspired the Roman Government to purge Rome and her territory of foreign cults. If an Israelite queen, married to a Tyrian king, had tried to impose the cult of Yahweh on her husband's Melkart-worshipping subjects, we may guess that she would have roused a Tyrian Elijah and a Tyrian Jehu to action.

Moreover, the issue that was fought out in Israel on this historic occasion was not simply one between Yahweh and Melkart; it was also an issue between Yahweh and Yahweh. The Yahweh of Jezreel might perhaps have co-existed amicably with Melkart, for this Yahweh, like Melkart, was the god of an agricultural and urban people. He and Melkart alike were defeated by a Yahweh from Israel's still semi-nomad desert fringe, which was the homeland of both Elijah and Jonadab. The struggle between the contending gods was an expression of the semi-nomad Gileadites' revolt against the process of settlement on the land and in the cities that had been transforming Israel west of Jordan at an accelerating pace. The Gileadite form of Yahweh-worship that now temporarily triumphed was provincial, fanatical, and archaistic; but there is no evidence that it was monotheistic in the eventual Jewish sense of the word.

In Jewish and Christian minds today prophets are associated particularly with Israel and Judah, but this is not warranted by the evidence In the history of Israel prophets make their first recorded appearance about half-way through the eleventh century B.C. as bands of devotees falling into infectious ecstasies. Saul caught the infection from a band with which he fell in on the first day of his political career, and he remained prone to prophetic fits for the rest of his life, but the phenomenon was not just a local one. At about the same date an Egyptian envoy

{p. 427} Wen Amon, came across the same phenomenon at Byblos. Anatolia may have been the source from which Syria acquired the institution of congregational ecstatic prophesying. At any rate, in Anatolia this institution has a long history. In the Hellenic Age it is represented there by the bands of 'galli' who were devotees of the goddess Cybele; in the Christian Age by the Montanists; in the Islamic Age by the Mevlevi dervishes who carried on this ancient Anatolian tradition on its native ground tili A.D. 1925, when the Islamic religious orders were suppressed in Turkey.

In Syria in the ninth century B.C. we find ecstatic prophets still operating in bands - by this date more or less under royal control. Ahab has his band of prophets of Yahweh; Jezebel has her band of prophets of Baal. But at this stage individual prophets stand out from the mass - for instance, Micaiah, Elijah, and Elisha in Israel - and these engage in politics as independent and redoubtable powers. Was this second phase in the evolution of the prophet confined to Israel? We do not hear, in the Israelite scriptures, of individual prophets who were Tyrians or Damascenes. But the argumentum ex silentio is hazardous, where one party has monopolized the telling of the story. It is more prudent to suspend judgement in the expectation that the Israelite scriptural monopoly may one day be broken, in this chapter too, by the progress of archaeological discovery. The Israelite scriptures themselves testify that Elisha, at any rate, did not confine his activities to his own country. According to this testimony, Elisha engineered a political revolution in Damascus before engineering one in Israel. The usurper Hazael as well as the usurper Jehu is said to have committed his act of high treason at Elisha's instigation. In the next phase, too, the prophets played their parts on an international stage. When Amos of Tekoa made his pronunciamiento circa 760 B.C., he made it in Israel, which was a bigger forum than his native Judah.

Prophets, as well as courtiers, craftsmen, and traders, felt themselves at home in any of the statelets among which the Syrian World was divided politically.

{p. 428} Thus in the Syriac World during its five centuries of political independence the prevailing social and cultural tendency was already the movement towards fusion that subsequently went with a run after the local political barriers to it had been swept away by the Assyrians. The subsequent process of standardization, in which the most impressive single development was the triumphal progress of the Aramaic koine had already been foreshadowed in the tendency of the preceding age, and it merely carried this tendency towards its logical conclusion.

The deportees from the Kingdom of Israel went the whole way. In exile they lost their distinctive communal identity completely and once for all. So too, we may guess, did those Judahite refugees in Egypt who saw in the liquidation of the Kingdom of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar a retribution for their neglect, not of Yahweh, but of the Queen of Heaven. They sharply rejected Jeremiah's thesis that their apostasy from Yahweh had been the cause of Judah's national disaster, and they vere unmoved by the prophet's threat that, if they remained obdurate, another stroke of Yahweh's vengeance would overtake them in their Egyptian asylum. The lesson that these Judahites had learnt from the disaster was to beware of ever neglecting the Queen of Heaven again. In this case we have no information about the sequel; but the Aramaic documents dating from the fifth century B.C., which give us a glimpse of the life and outlook of a Judaeo-Aramaean military colony at Elephantine in Upper Egypt under the Achaemenian regime, enable us to catch another expatriated Syriac community at a point part way along the road that the deportees from Israel undoubtedly travelled to the end. This colonial Jewish community followed Solomon, Ahab, Athaliah, and Manasseh in feeling it no disloyalty to Yahweh to associate other gods with him. Out of a fund of 628 (or 626) shekels collected by the colonists in 419 B. C., 246 shekels were allocated to Yahweh, 140 to Eshem Bethel, and 240 to 'Anath Bethel. Here we see a new cult arising within Yahweh's own domain. Archaeological investigation has shown that the sanctuary at Bethel was prosperous in the sixth century B.C. and, though it was burned down towards the end of the Neobabylonian period, the cult, which found a secondary focus in Babylonia, attained its maximum diffusion in the fifth century B.C. Theophoric names containing 'Bethel as one of their components begin to appear about 600 B.C. They are

{p. 429} all either Aramaic or Neobabylonian, and none are earlier than the reign of Nebuchadnezzar.

In the former territory of Judah the peasantry, whom Nebuchadezzar had not uprooted, started on the same road, and their drift towards fusion was not reversed by the return of a batch of exiles immediately after the fall of the Neobabylonian Empire. It needed the subsequent missions of Nehemiah and Ezra, backed by the Achaemenian Imperial Government's authority, to make them ruefully conform to the new ideals of monotheism and nationalism that had been conceived in adversity by the diaspora in Babylonia. An effective agency of religious fusion between the un-uprooted Judaeans and their Palestinian neighbours had been intermarriage. The foreign wives were carriers of their ancestral religions. The Babylonian Jewish innovators closed this avenue to fusion by insisting on the dissolution of mixed marriages and prohibiting them for the future. This was a high price to pay for satisfying the requirements of a new-fangled orthodoxy; and the Judaean peasantry's reluctant submission did not save these authentic heirs of the defunct Kingdom of Judah from being written off by the Babylonian Jewish puritans as 'the people of the land' ('am ha-aretz) - a label which carried the contemptuous connotation of the English word 'natives'. {p. 486} Judaism is a development of the Pre-Exilic religion of Judah that was created in and by the Babylonian diaspora and was imposed by it on the Jewish population in Judaea. The Babylonian Jew Ezra gave Judaism in Palestine the decisive impulse that eventually produced the Pharisaic movement and the rabbinical system. The survival and vitality of the diaspora has been a tour de force; but, just on this account, the diaspora has been, and still is, the supreme and characteristic instrument and monument of the Jewish people's persistent will to maintain its distinctive communal identity.

This will to survive as a community anywhere and under any conditions has, since 586 B.C., been paramount over the will to survive as a community on the Palestinian soil once occupied by Judah and Israel. By comparison with survival itself, Zionism has been a secondary Jewish aim. There has also been the aim of converting the gentile world to the worship of Yahweh under the aegis of a world-empire centred on Eretz Israel and ruled by 'the Lord's Anointed': a coming human king of Davidic lineage.

{end} More at toynbee.html.

(9) Spanish Jews were descendants of Berber converts - Shlomo Sand


By Ofri Ilani

Ha'aretz, March 21/08

Of all the national heroes who have arisen from among the Jewish people over the generations, fate has not been kind to Dahia al-Kahina, a leader of the Berbers in the Aures Mountains. Although she was a proud Jewess, few Israelis have ever heard the name of this warrior-queen who, in the seventh century C.E., united a number of Berber tribes and pushed back the Muslim army that invaded North Africa. It is possible that the reason for this is that al-Kahina was the daughter of a Berber tribe that had converted to Judaism, apparently several generations before she was born, sometime around the 6th century C.E.

According to the Tel Aviv University historian, Prof. Shlomo Sand, author of "Matai ve'ech humtza ha'am hayehudi?" ("When and How the Jewish People Was Invented?"; Resling, in Hebrew), the queen's tribe and other local tribes that converted to Judaism are the main sources from which Spanish Jewry sprang. This claim that the Jews of North Africa originated in indigenous tribes that became Jewish - and not in communities exiled from Jerusalem - is just one element of the far- reaching argument set forth in Sand's new book.

In this work, the author attempts to prove that the Jews now living in Israel and other places in the world are not at all descendants of the ancient people who inhabited the Kingdom of Judea during the First and Second Temple period. Their origins, according to him, are in varied peoples that converted to Judaism during the course of history, in different corners of the Mediterranean Basin and the adjacent regions. Not only are the North African Jews for the most part descendants of pagans who converted to Judaism, but so are the Jews of Yemen (remnants of the Himyar Kingdom in the Arab Peninsula, who converted to Judaism in the fourth century) and the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe (refugees from the Kingdom of the Khazars, who converted in the eighth century).

Unlike other "new historians" who have tried to undermine the assumptions of Zionist historiography, Sand does not content himself with going back to 1948 or to the beginnings of Zionism, but rather goes back thousands of years. He tries to prove that the Jewish people never existed as a "nation-race" with a common origin, but rather is a colorful mix of groups that at various stages in history adopted the Jewish religion. He argues that for a number of Zionist ideologues, the mythical perception of the Jews as an ancient people led to truly racist thinking: "There were times when if anyone argued that the Jews belong to a people that has gentile origins, he would be classified as an anti-Semite on the spot. Today, if anyone dares to suggest that those who are considered Jews in the world ... have never constituted and still do not constitute a people or a nation - he is immediately condemned as a hater of Israel."

According to Sand, the description of the Jews as a wandering and self-isolating nation of exiles, "who wandered across seas and continents, reached the ends of the earth and finally, with the advent of Zionism, made a U-turn and returned en masse to their orphaned homeland," is nothing but "national mythology." Like other national movements in Europe, which sought out a splendid Golden Age, through which they invented a heroic past - for example, classical Greece or the Teutonic tribes - to prove they have existed since the beginnings of history, "so, too, the first buds of Jewish nationalism blossomed in the direction of the strong light that has its source in the mythical Kingdom of David."

So when, in fact, was the Jewish people invented, in Sand's view? At a certain stage in the 19th century, intellectuals of Jewish origin in Germany, influenced by the folk character of German nationalism, took upon themselves the task of inventing a people "retrospectively," out of a thirst to create a modern Jewish people. From historian Heinrich Graetz on, Jewish historians began to draw the history of Judaism as the history of a nation that had been a kingdom, became a wandering people and ultimately turned around and went back to its birthplace.

Actually, most of your book does not deal with the invention of the Jewish people by modern Jewish nationalism, but rather with the question of where the Jews come from.

Sand: "My initial intention was to take certain kinds of modern historiographic materials and examine how they invented the 'figment' of the Jewish people. But when I began to confront the historiographic sources, I suddenly found contradictions. And then that urged me on: I started to work, without knowing where I would end up. I took primary sources and I tried to examine authors' references in the ancient period - what they wrote about conversion."

Sand, an expert on 20th-century history, has until now researched the intellectual history of modern France (in "Ha'intelektual, ha'emet vehakoah: miparashat dreyfus ve'ad milhemet hamifrats" - "Intellectuals, Truth and Power, From the Dreyfus Affair to the Gulf War"; Am Oved, in Hebrew). Unusually, for a professional historian, in his new book he deals with periods that he had never researched before, usually relying on studies that present unorthodox views of the origins of the Jews.

Experts on the history of the Jewish people say you are dealing with subjects about which you have no understanding and are basing yourself on works that you can't read in the original.

"It is true that I am an historian of France and Europe, and not of the ancient period. I knew that the moment I would start dealing with early periods like these, I would be exposed to scathing criticism by historians who specialize in those areas. But I said to myself that I can't stay just with modern historiographic material without examining the facts it describes. Had I not done this myself, it would have been necessary to have waited for an entire generation. Had I continued to deal with France, perhaps I would have been given chairs at the university and provincial glory. But I decided to relinquish the glory."

Inventing the Diaspora

"After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people remained faithful to it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom" - thus states the preamble to the Israeli Declaration of Independence. This is also the quotation that opens the third chapter of Sand's book, entitled "The Invention of the Diaspora." Sand argues that the Jewish people's exile from its land never happened.

"The supreme paradigm of exile was needed in order to construct a long-range memory in which an imagined and exiled nation-race was posited as the direct continuation of 'the people of the Bible' that preceded it," Sand explains. Under the influence of other historians who have dealt with the same issue in recent years, he argues that the exile of the Jewish people is originally a Christian myth that depicted that event as divine punishment imposed on the Jews for having rejected the Christian gospel.

"I started looking in research studies about the exile from the land - a constitutive event in Jewish history, almost like the Holocaust. But to my astonishment I discovered that it has no literature. The reason is that no one exiled the people of the country. The Romans did not exile peoples and they could not have done so even if they had wanted to. They did not have trains and trucks to deport entire populations. That kind of logistics did not exist until the 20th century. From this, in effect, the whole book was born: in the realization that Judaic society was not dispersed and was not exiled."

If the people was not exiled, are you saying that in fact the real descendants of the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah are the Palestinians?

"No population remains pure over a period of thousands of years. But the chances that the Palestinians are descendants of the ancient Judaic people are much greater than the chances that you or I are its descendents. The first Zionists, up until the Arab Revolt [1936-9], knew that there had been no exiling, and that the Palestinians were descended from the inhabitants of the land. They knew that farmers don't leave until they are expelled. Even Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, the second president of the State of Israel, wrote in

1929 that, 'the vast majority of the peasant farmers do not have their origins in the Arab conquerors, but rather, before then, in the Jewish farmers who were numerous and a majority in the building of the land.'"

And how did millions of Jews appear around the Mediterranean Sea?

"The people did not spread, but the Jewish religion spread. Judaism was a converting religion. Contrary to popular opinion, in early Judaism there was a great thirst to convert others. The Hasmoneans were the first to begin to produce large numbers of Jews through mass conversion, under the influence of Hellenism. The conversions between the Hasmonean Revolt and Bar Kochba's rebellion are what prepared the ground for the subsequent, wide-spread dissemination of Christianity. After the victory of Christianity in the fourth century, the momentum of conversion was stopped in the Christian world, and there was a steep drop in the number of Jews. Presumably many of the Jews who appeared around the Mediterranean became Christians. But then Judaism started to permeate other regions - pagan regions, for example, such as Yemen and North Africa. Had Judaism not continued to advance at that stage and had it not continued to convert people in the pagan world, we would have remained a completely marginal religion, if we survived at all."

How did you come to the conclusion that the Jews of North Africa were originally Berbers who converted?

"I asked myself how such large Jewish communities appeared in Spain. And then I saw that Tariq ibn Ziyad, the supreme commander of the Muslims who conquered Spain, was a Berber, and most of his soldiers were Berbers. Dahia al-Kahina's Jewish Berber kingdom had been defeated only 15 years earlier. And the truth is there are a number of Christian sources that say many of the conquerors of Spain were Jewish converts. The deep-rooted source of the large Jewish community in Spain was those Berber soldiers who converted to Judaism."

Sand argues that the most crucial demographic addition to the Jewish population of the world came in the wake of the conversion of the kingdom of Khazaria - a huge empire that arose in the Middle Ages on the steppes along the Volga River, which at its height ruled over an area that stretched from the Georgia of today to Kiev. In the eighth century, the kings of the Khazars adopted the Jewish religion and made Hebrew the written language of the kingdom. From the 10th century the kingdom weakened; in the 13th century is was utterly defeated by Mongol invaders, and the fate of its Jewish inhabitants remains unclear.

Sand revives the hypothesis, which was already suggested by historians in the 19th and 20th centuries, according to which the Judaized Khazars constituted the main origins of the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe.

"At the beginning of the 20th century there is a tremendous concentration of Jews in Eastern Europe - three million Jews in Poland alone," he says. "The Zionist historiography claims that their origins are in the earlier Jewish community in Germany, but they do not succeed in explaining how a small number of Jews who came from Mainz and Worms could have founded the Yiddish people of Eastern Europe. The Jews of Eastern Europe are a mixture of Khazars and Slavs who were pushed eastward."

'Degree of perversion'

If the Jews of Eastern Europe did not come from Germany, why did they speak Yiddish, which is a Germanic language?

"The Jews were a class of people dependent on the German bourgeoisie in the East, and thus they adopted German words. Here I base myself on the research of linguist Paul Wechsler of Tel Aviv University, who has demonstrated that there is no etymological connection between the German Jewish language of the Middle Ages and Yiddish. As far back as 1828, the Ribal (Rabbi Isaac Ber Levinson) said that the ancient language of the Jews was not Yiddish. Even Ben Zion Dinur, the father of Israeli historiography, was not hesitant about describing the Khazars as the origin of the Jews in Eastern Europe, and describes Khazaria as 'the mother of the diasporas' in Eastern Europe. But more or less since 1967, anyone who talks about the Khazars as the ancestors of the Jews of Eastern Europe is considered naive and moonstruck."

Why do you think the idea of the Khazar origins is so threatening?

"It is clear that the fear is of an undermining of the historic right to the land. The revelation that the Jews are not from Judea would ostensibly knock the legitimacy for our being here out from under us. Since the beginning of the period of decolonization, settlers have no longer been able to say simply: 'We came, we won and now we are here' the way the Americans, the whites in South Africa and the Australians said. There is a very deep fear that doubt will be cast on our right to exist."

Is there no justification for this fear?

"No. I don't think that the historical myth of the exile and the wanderings is the source of the legitimization for me being here, and therefore I don't mind believing that I am Khazar in my origins. I am not afraid of the undermining of our existence, because I think that the character of the State of Israel undermines it in a much more serious way. What would constitute the basis for our existence here is not mythological historical right, but rather would be for us to start to establish an open society here of all Israeli citizens."

In effect you are saying that there is no such thing as a Jewish people.

"I don't recognize an international people. I recognize 'the Yiddish people' that existed in Eastern Europe, which though it is not a nation can be seen as a Yiddishist civilization with a modern popular culture. I think that Jewish nationalism grew up in the context of this 'Yiddish people.' I also recognize the existence of an Israeli people, and do not deny its right to sovereignty. But Zionism and also Arab nationalism over the years are not prepared to recognize it.

"From the perspective of Zionism, this country does not belong to its citizens, but rather to the Jewish people. I recognize one definition of a nation: a group of people that wants to live in sovereignty over itself. But most of the Jews in the world have no desire to live in the State of Israel, even though nothing is preventing them from doing so. Therefore, they cannot be seen as a nation."

What is so dangerous about Jews imagining that they belong to one people? Why is this bad? "In the Israeli discourse about roots there is a degree of perversion. This is an ethnocentric, biological, genetic discourse. But Israel has no existence as a Jewish state: If Israel does not develop and become an open, multicultural society we will have a Kosovo in the Galilee. The consciousness concerning the right to this place must be more flexible and varied, and if I have contributed with my book to the likelihood that I and my children will be able to live with the others here in this country in a more egalitarian situation - I will have done my bit.

"We must begin to work hard to transform our place into an Israeli republic where ethnic origin, as well as faith, will not be relevant in the eyes of the law. Anyone who is acquainted with the young elites of the Israeli Arab community can see that they will not agree to live in a country that declares it is not theirs. If I were a Palestinian I would rebel against a state like that, but even as an Israeli I am rebelling against it."

The question is whether for those conclusions you had to go as far as the Kingdom of the Khazars.

"I am not hiding the fact that it is very distressing for me to live in a society in which the nationalist principles that guide it are dangerous, and that this distress has served as a motive in my work. I am a citizen of this country, but I am also a historian and as a historian it is my duty to write history and examine texts. This is what I have done."

If the myth of Zionism is one of the Jewish people that returned to its land from exile, what will be the myth of the country you envision?

"To my mind, a myth about the future is better than introverted mythologies of the past. For the Americans, and today for the Europeans as well, what justifies the existence of the nation is a future promise of an open, progressive and prosperous society. The Israeli materials do exist, but it is necessary to add, for example, pan-Israeli holidays. To decrease the number of memorial days a bit and to add days that are dedicated to the future. But also, for example, to add an hour in memory of the Nakba literally, the "catastrophe" - the Palestinian term for what happened when Israel was established], between Memorial Day and Independence Day."

(10) The conversion of the Punics and Berbers to Judaism

The invention of bourgeois nationalism, Zionist style

by Michael T. Ballard

November 24, 2010

[...] What Sand demonstrates, in his meticulously researched book, is that great mass of the people who lived in what was then the Roman province of Palestine in 70CE were not exiled. As he conclusively shows, conquerors of that era, including the Babylonian conquerors related in the Biblical story of the destruction of the First Temple and the Romans who destroyed the Second Temple, never exiled whole peoples because those peoples were the peasant producers of wealth and obtaining that wealth, along with the power that goes with it, is what being a ruling class is all about. Peasants are generally tied to their land and most people living in Roman Palestine were peasants. Peasants don't move around. They're sedentary. Ancient ruling classes always liked it that way. As Sand points out, conquering rulers of ancient times would routinely enslave defeated elites from the ruling class whom they had conquered but, they would leave the great mass of the people (mostly peasant farmers) on the land, to continue to produce wealth, as these peasants had done for various other ruling classes for centuries before. ...

So, where do most of the people of the Jewish faith in the world come from, if not from an ethno-biologically connected people who were exiled from their homeland by the Romans in 70 CE? Sand's answer is that most come from "proselytising". Sand demonstrates that the first great monotheistic religion, Judaism, was spread to eager pagan converts throughout the Mediterranean basin a long time before the competing monotheistic religions of Christianity and Islam arose. The question which came to this reviewer's mind was, "Why would polytheists find this monotheistic religion, with its invisible deity so attractive?" Shorter work time is one of Sand's fascinating insights. The weekly day of rest, the Sabbath, turned the practice of Judaism into a way of legitimising free time, much to the consternation of the slave owning ruling classes of the ancient, polytheistic world.

As Sand relates, a great victory for the proselytisers of the Jewish faith came with the conversion of the Punics. Punic Carthage was not a Hebrew speaking city state. It was located in what is today the political State of Tunisia. After the defeat of Carthage by the Roman Republic in 146 BCE, the Jewish religion continued to be practiced amongst the peasant people of this region. The faith also spread to nearby nomadic Berbers, who were later to accompany the Arabic Muslim conquerors of Spain as soldiers in 711 CE. The implications here are enormous, especially considering what happened to Jews who refused to convert to Christianity during Ferdinand and Isabella's reign in Spain, circa 1492CE.

Sand presents historically documented evidence of the many other conversions to Judaism within the confines of the heavily used trading routes of Mediterranean, in the late BCE and the early CE of the Roman Empire. He shows that this proselytising tendency was more or less suppressed with the rise of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 2nd century CE and of Islam after the 8th century CE.

"Proselytizing Jews were driven from the arena of rival monotheisms, Christianity or Islam, to the land of paganism, with immigrants who convinced the pagans that their faith was preferable. The great mass proselytizing campaign that began in the second century BCE, with the rise of the Hasmonean kingdom, reached its climax in Khazaria in the eighth century CE." (p. 220) ...

(11) Zionist nationalist myth of enforced exile - Shlomo Sand

Zionist nationalist myth of enforced exile

Israel deliberately forgets its history

An Israeli historian suggests the diaspora was the consequence, not of the expulsion of the Hebrews from Palestine, but of proselytising across north Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East

By Schlomo Sand (Shlomo Sand)

Le Monde Diplomatique September 2008

Every Israeli knows that he or she is the direct and exclusive descendant of a Jewish people which has existed since it received the Torah (1) in Sinai. According to this myth, the Jews escaped from Egypt and settled in the Promised Land, where they built the glorious kingdom of David and Solomon, which subsequently split into the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. They experienced two exiles: after the destruction of the first temple, in the 6th century BC, and of the second temple, in 70 AD.

Two thousand years of wandering brought the Jews to Yemen, Morocco, Spain, Germany, Poland and deep into Russia. But, the story goes, they always managed to preserve blood links between their scattered communities. Their uniqueness was never compromised.

At the end of the 19th century conditions began to favour their return to their ancient homeland. If it had not been for the Nazi genocide, millions of Jews would have fulfilled the dream of 20 centuries and repopulated Eretz Israel, the biblical land of Israel. Palestine, a virgin land, had been waiting for its original inhabitants to return and awaken it. It belonged to the Jews, rather than to an Arab minority that had no history and had arrived there by chance. The wars in which the wandering people reconquered their land were just; the violent opposition of the local population was criminal.

This interpretation of Jewish history was developed as talented, imaginative historians built on surviving fragments of Jewish and Christian religious memory to construct a continuous genealogy for the Jewish people. JudaismÕs abundant historiography encompasses many different approaches.

But none have ever questioned the basic concepts developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Discoveries that might threaten this picture of a linear past were marginalised. The national imperative rejected any contradiction of or deviation from the dominant story. University departments exclusively devoted to Òthe history of the Jewish peopleÓ, as distinct from those teaching what is known in Israel as general history, made a significant contribution to this selective vision. The debate on what constitutes Jewishness has obvious legal implications, but historians ignored it: as far as they are concerned, any descendant of the people forced into exile 2,000 years ago is a Jew.

Nor did these official investigators of the past join the controversy provoked by the Ònew historiansÓ from the late 1980s. Most of the limited number of participants in this public debate were from other disciplines or non-academic circles: sociologists, orientalists, linguists, geographers, political scientists, literary academics and archaeologists developed new perspectives on the Jewish and Zionist past. Departments of Jewish history remained defensive and conservative, basing themselves on received ideas. While there have been few significant developments in national history over the past 60 years (a situation unlikely to change in the short term), the facts that have emerged face any honest historian with fundamental questions.

Founding myths shaken

Is the Bible a historical text? Writing during the early half of the 19th century, the first modern Jewish historians, such as Isaak Markus Jost (1793-1860) and Leopold Zunz (1794-1886), did not think so. They regarded the Old Testament as a theological work reflecting the beliefs of Jewish religious communities after the destruction of the first temple. It was not until the second half of the century that Heinrich Graetz (1817-91) and others developed a ÒnationalÓ vision of the Bible and transformed AbrahamÕs journey to Canaan, the flight from Egypt and the united kingdom of David and Solomon into an authentic national past. By constant repetition, Zionist historians have subsequently turned these Biblical ÒtruthsÓ into the basis of national education.

But during the 1980s an earthquake shook these founding myths. The discoveries made by the Ònew archaeologyÓ discredited a great exodus in the 13th century BC. Moses could not have led the Hebrews out of Egypt into the Promised Land, for the good reason that the latter was Egyptian territory at the time. And there is no trace of either a slave revolt against the pharaonic empire or of a sudden conquest of Canaan by outsiders.

Nor is there any trace or memory of the magnificent kingdom of David and Solomon. Recent discoveries point to the existence, at the time, of two small kingdoms: Israel, the more powerful, and Judah, the future Judea. The general population of Judah did not go into 6th century BC exile: only its political and intellectual elite were forced to settle in Babylon. This decisive encounter with Persian religion gave birth to Jewish monotheism.

Then there is the question of the exile of 70 AD. There has been no real research into this turning point in Jewish history, the cause of the diaspora. And for a simple reason: the Romans never exiled any nation from anywhere on the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean. Apart from enslaved prisoners, the population of Judea continued to live on their lands, even after the destruction of the second temple. Some converted to Christianity in the 4th century, while the majority embraced Islam during the 7th century Arab conquest.

Most Zionist thinkers were aware of this: Yitzhak Ben Zvi, later president of Israel, and David Ben Gurion, its first prime minister, accepted it as late as 1929, the year of the great Palestinian revolt. Both stated on several occasions that the peasants of Palestine were the descendants of the inhabitants of ancient Judea (2).

Proselytising zeal

But if there was no exile after 70 AD, where did all the Jews who have populated the Mediterranean since antiquity come from? The smokescreen of national historiography hides an astonishing reality. From the Maccabean revolt of the mid-2nd century BC to the Bar Kokhba revolt of the 2nd century AD, Judaism was the most actively proselytising religion. The Judeo-Hellenic Hasmoneans forcibly converted the Idumeans of southern Judea and the Itureans of Galilee and incorporated them into the people of Israel. Judaism spread across the Middle East and round the Mediterranean. The 1st century AD saw the emergence in modern Kurdistan of the Jewish kingdom of Adiabene, just one of many that converted.

The writings of Flavius Josephus are not the only evidence of the proselytising zeal of the Jews. Horace, Seneca, Juvenal and Tacitus were among the Roman writers who feared it. The Mishnah and the Talmud (3) authorised conversion, even if the wise men of the Talmudic tradition expressed reservations in the face of the mounting pressure from Christianity.

Although the early 4th century triumph of Christianity did not mark the end of Jewish expansion, it relegated Jewish proselytism to the margins of the Christian cultural world. During the 5th century, in modern Yemen, a vigorous Jewish kingdom emerged in Himyar, whose descendants preserved their faith through the Islamic conquest and down to the present day. Arab chronicles tell of the existence, during the 7th century, of Judaised Berber tribes; and at the end of the century the legendary Jewish queen Dihya contested the Arab advance into northwest Africa. Jewish Berbers participated in the conquest of the Iberian peninsula and helped establish the unique symbiosis between Jews and Muslims that characterised Hispano-Arabic culture.

The most significant mass conversion occurred in the 8th century, in the massive Khazar kingdom between the Black and Caspian seas. The expansion of Judaism from the Caucasus into modern Ukraine created a multiplicity of communities, many of which retreated from the 13th century Mongol invasions into eastern Europe. There, with Jews from the Slavic lands to the south and from what is now modern Germany, they formed the basis of Yiddish culture (4).

Prism of Zionism

Until about 1960 the complex origins of the Jewish people were more or less reluctantly acknowledged by Zionist historiography. But thereafter they were marginalised and finally erased from Israeli public memory. The Israeli forces who seized Jerusalem in 1967 believed themselves to be the direct descendents of the mythic kingdom of David rather than ­ God forbid ­ of Berber warriors or Khazar horsemen. The Jews claimed to constitute a specific ethnic group that had returned to Jerusalem, its capital, from 2,000 years of exile and wandering.

This monolithic, linear edifice is supposed to be supported by biology as well as history. Since the 1970s supposedly scientific research, carried out in Israel, has desperately striven to demonstrate that Jews throughout the world are closely genetically related.

Research into the origins of populations now constitutes a legitimate and popular field in molecular biology and the male Y chromosome has been accorded honoured status in the frenzied search for the unique origin of the Òchosen peopleÓ. The problem is that this historical fantasy has come to underpin the politics of identity of the state of Israel. By validating an essentialist, ethnocentric definition of Judaism it encourages a segregation that separates Jews from non-Jews ­ whether Arabs, Russian immigrants or foreign workers.

Sixty years after its foundation, Israel refuses to accept that it should exist for the sake of its citizens. For almost a quarter of the population, who are not regarded as Jews, this is not their state legally. At the same time, Israel presents itself as the homeland of Jews throughout the world, even if these are no longer persecuted refugees, but the full and equal citizens of other countries.

A global ethnocracy invokes the myth of the eternal nation, reconstituted on the land of its ancestors, to justify internal discrimination against its own citizens. It will remain difficult to imagine a new Jewish history while the prism of Zionism continues to fragment everything into an ethnocentric spectrum. But Jews worldwide have always tended to form religious communities, usually by conversion; they cannot be said to share an ethnicity derived from a unique origin and displaced over 20 centuries of wandering.

The development of historiography and the evolution of modernity were consequences of the invention of the nation state, which preoccupied millions during the 19th and 20th centuries. The new millennium has seen these dreams begin to shatter.

And more and more academics are analysing, dissecting and deconstructing the great national stories, especially the myths of common origin so dear to chroniclers of the past.

Shlomo Sand is professor of history at Tel Aviv university and the author of Comment le people juif fut inventé (Fayard, Paris, 2008)

More about Schlomo Sand. Translated by Donald Hounam

(1) The Torah, from the Hebrew root yara (to teach) is the founding text of Judaism. It consists of the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

(2) See David Ben Gurion and Yitzhak Ben Zvi, Eretz Israel in the past and present, 1918 (in Yiddish), and Jerusalem, 1980 (in Hebrew); Yitzhak Ben Zvi, Our population in the country, Executive Committee of the Union for Youth and the Jewish National Fund, Warsaw, 1929 (in Hebrew).

(3) The Mishnah, regarded as the first work of rabbinic literature, was drawn up around 200 AD. The Talmud is a synthesis of rabbinic discussions on the law, customs and history of the Jews. The Palestinian Talmud was written between the 3rd and 5th centuries; the Babylonian Talmud was compiled at the end of the 5th century.

(4) Yiddish, spoken by the Jews of eastern Europe, was a Germano-Slavic language incorporating Hebrew words.

English language editorial director: Wendy Kristianasen - all rights reserved © 1997-2008 Le Monde diplomatique.


The religion of the First Persian Empire (559-330 BC) was Zoroastrianism; it has shaped Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Marxism and Radical Feminism: zoroaster-judaism.html.

The Zoroastrian religion and its progeny: the ancestry of religious fundamentalism, and Marxist millennialism: zoroastrianism.html.

How the Torah (including the Book of Genesis) was produced by Ezra around 458 BC, with the authority of the Persian Empire (and under the influence of its Zoroastrian religion): bible.html.

Manfred Bietak and the Hebrew/Israelite Four-Room houses at Avaris, the Hyksos capital in the north of Egypt: four-room-house.html.

S. G. F. Brandon shows that what we know as Christianity emerged from the Roman defeat of the Jewish revolt of 66-70: jewish-revolt.html.

S. G. F. Brandon on the development of ideas of the Judgment of the Dead (including Karma) in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greco-Roman Culture, Hinduism and Buddhism: judgment.html.

Postmortem Journeys - Resurrections and Descents into Hell: postmortem-journeys.html.

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