Cyrus H. Gordon on East Mediterranean Culture of 1500-1000 BC, precursor to Greek and Hebrew Civilisations; Phoenician/Babylonian influence on the Greeks

- Peter Myers, June 30, 2002; update October 7, 1010.

Write to me at contact.html.

You are at

(1) Cyrus H. Gordon, Before the Bible: the Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilisations (2) G. ELLIOT SMITH on the Phoenicians (3) David Livingstone on the Persian/Babylonian influence on the Greeks (4) Michael Hudson on Interest rates in Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome

"The Greeks perfected a new type of civilization that had been inaugurated by the Phoenicians" - Bertrand Russell, Authority and the Individual (London, Unwin Books, 1970), p. 27.

A maverick scholar, Cyrus Gordon cannot be blamed for the names (Cyrus Herzl) his Zionist parents gave him, in memory of Cyrus the Persian Emperor, and Theodor Herzl.

An interview with Gordon, a few months before his death, (Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2000 Vol 26 No. 6): science.html.

Sigmund Freud on Akhnaten as the founder of Jewish Monotheism: moses.html.

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

{p. 10} For centuries scholars have been forced to grapple with the problem of accounting for the parallels between Greek literature and the Bible.

{p. 11} Suffice it to say that the prevailing attitude1 (which is gradually losing its grip) may be described as the tacit assumption that ancient Israel and Greece are two water-tight compartments, totally different from each other. One is said to be sacred; the other, profane; one, Semitic; the other, Indo-European. One, Asiatic and Oriental; the other, European and Occidental. But the fact is that both flourished during the same centuries, in the same East Mediterranean corner of the globe, with both ethnic groups in contact with each other from the start.

As a university student, I studied Hebrew and Greek simultaneously. Interestingly enough, the professors of Hebrew were quite conversant with Greek, and the professors of Greek at least knew the contents of the Bible in translation. But each set of teachers taught their subject as though it were totally unrelated to the other.2 In retrospect it seems strange that so many generations of Old Testament scholars, trained in Greek as well as Hebrew literature, have managed to keep their Greek and Hebrew studies rigidly compartmentalised. Nothing could bring out more clearly the fact that we absorb attitudes as well as subject matter in the learning process. Moreover the attitudes

1 This refers to the numerical majority, which is by no means a monopoly, in academic circles. More than a quarter of a century ago, Franz Dornseiff called attention to the ancient Near East stratum underlying Greek and Hebrew literatures, and to the fact that the two literatures (specifically from 10OO to 200 B.C.) were never really isolated from each other. More recently the Greek side, without reference to the Hebrew, has received considerable attention. For example, Spyridon N. Marinatos has shown that the Mycenaean Greeks were part of the international East Mediterranean synthesis, and should not be equated with the later classical Greeks ("Diogeneis Basilees" in Studies Presented to David Moore Robinson, pp. 120-134). For a recent well-documented discussion, see Denys L. Page, History and the Homeric Iliad, Univ. of Cal. Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1959.

2 The reader will bear in mind that this book does not deal with the Hellenistic Age, when the union of Greece with the rest of the Near East is universally recognised. We are instead primarily concerned with the "Heroic Age" of Greece and Israel (ca. 15th to 10th centuries B.C.).

{p. 12} tend to determine what we see, and what we fail to see, in the subject matter. This is why attitude is just as important as content in the educational process. ...

If we want to understand the roots of our culture around the East Mediterranean in the second millennium B.C., we shall have to exercise our capacity to detect real sameness in apparent difference, and real difference in apparent sameness. Otherwise, a comparative study such as the one before us will lie beyond our grasp. We may begin our investigation by considering a few assorted parallels of limited scope. Exodus 17: 8-13 records the tradition of a victory secured through the agency of a divine implement: Amalek came and fought against Israel in

{p. 13} Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua: 'Choose for us men, and go out to fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I'll be standing on the summit of the hill, with the Staff of God in my hand.' Joshua did as Moses had commanded him to fight against Amalek. And Moses, Aaron and Hur went up to the summit of the hill. And it happened that when Moses raised his hand, Israel prevailed; but when he dropped his hand, Amalek prevailed. Because the hands of Moses were heavy, they took a stone and placed it under him and he sat upon it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on this side, and one on that, so that his hands were steadfast until the sun set. And Joshua vanquished Amalek and its people by the sword." Divinely fashioned staffs that serve as weapons to secure victory are common in East Mediterranean myth and saga, but Homeric epic confronts us with a divine implement closely paralleling the Staff of God in Exodus 17. Iliad 15: 318-322 tells that Phoebus Apollo determined the tide of battle by the way he held the aegis. Similarly, Odyssey 22: 297-309 relates that "Athene held up the aegis that consumes mortals," thus securing victory for Odysseus over the wooers who were forthwith routed and slain. In these passages the Greek aegis is functionally the equivalent of the Hebrew Staff of God. The parallel need not be attributed to either Greeks or Hebrews borrowing from the other. More likely both fell heir to an international heritage that included this feature.

Iliad I: 312-317 tells of a ritual whereby men made themselves ceremonially pure by casting their defilement into the sea: "Then they, embarking, sailed the watery paths; and the Son of Atreus ordered the people to purify themselves. So they purified themselves and threw the defilement into the sea, and sacrificed to Apollo perfect hecatombs of bulls and goats by the shore of the unharvested sea. And the savour reached heaven, curling amid the smoke." By washing away uncleanliness into the sea, people sought to get rid of their guilt and be set aright. "Cast into the

{p. 14} depths of the sea all their sins" refers to the same ritual in Micah (7: 18-20): "What god is like Thee, forgiving sin and excusing transgression for the remnant of His inheritance. He will not stay angry forever, for He desires loving kindness. He will relent and pity us; He will conquer our sins. And Thou wilt cast into the depths of the sea all their sins. Thou wilt ascribe truth to Jacob and loving kindness to Abraham, as Thou hast sworn to our fathers since days of old." Traditional Judaism still preserves, in connection with this passage, the custom of purifying oneself for the New Year, by throwing into a body of water crumbs that are fancied as laden with one's transgressions. The Homeric passage is interesting also for its reference to the sea as "watery paths." The Greeks viewed the Mediterranean not as a barrier but as a network of routes connecting the people who dwelt along its shores. This is familiar to any student of Greece. But what is not so well known is that the Hebrews express themselves similarly in passages like Psalm 8: 9 ("crossing the paths of the seas"). Sea-lanes connected the East Mediterranean peoples including Hebrews and Greeks, thus accounting for much of the cultural interchange. But there is another more specific aspect of the parallel under consideration in this paragraph. It is the religious aspect, for, as we shall note later, the priestly guilds were highly mobile, with the result that cultic practices crossed ethnic lines over wide areas.

Some of the parallels are due to common East Mediterranean

{p. 15} social institutions underlying Hebrew as well as Greek society. Manslaughter was requited through blood revenge. Accordingly the offender, to escape the avenger, would be forced to flee, cut off from his land and people, at the mercy of strangers far from home. Particularly pathetic was the man who, after slaying a kinsman, had to flee from an avenger of his own family. The situation is described from the mother's viewpoint in 2 Samuel (14: 5-7): "I am a widow for my husband has died. I had two sons who fought with each other in the field, with no rescuer between them, and one smote the other and killed him. And now the whole clan has risen against me and said: ' Hand over the fratricide that we may kill him for the life of his brother whom he has slain; and we shall destroy also the heir.' Thus they would extinguish my ember that survives, without leaving my husband any name or survival on the face of the earth." This tragic situation lends itself to sympathetic treatment. Iliad 16: 571-574 tells of "goodly Epeigeus, who had formerly been king in well-peopled Budeum; but when he had killed a worthy kinsman, he came as a suppliant to Peleus and to silver-footed Thetis." Note that another such slayer is also treated sympathetically in the Odyssey (15: 271-278): "Then godlike Theoclymenus answered him: 'Thus am I too away from my fatherland, for I slew a kinsman. Many are the brethren and kinsmen in horse-pasturing Argos, who wield great power over the Achaeans. I am in flight to avoid death and black fate from them, for now it is my lot to be a wanderer among men. But set me on the ship, for I, a fugitive, come to you as a suppliant lest they slay me. For I think they are in pursuit'." Just as Peleus and Thetis had compassion upon Epeigeus, Telemachus also shelters Theoclymenus. It is against this background that we are to understand the plight of Cain, who had slain his brother Abel. When Cain says: "I shall be a vagabond and wanderer in the land, and any who finds me shall slay me" (Genesis 4: 14), the ancient

{p. 16} Hebrew would be moved to compassion for Cain, rather than dwell on the enormity of the crime he had comn1itted. Indeed Cain is represented as the recipient of God's sympathetic protection: "Yahweh said to him: 'Therefore anyone who kills Cain will be punished sevenfold.' And He put a mark on Cain so that none who met him would slay him" (Genesis 4: 15). This parallel illustrates how we must be ready to revise our approach to familiar texts. Though his crime was heinous, Cain is represented not as a villain but as a tragic character. We are accustomed to think of him with revulsion; but the text of Genesis aims rather at evoking our sympathy for a man who atoned for his crime with homelessness and fear: a fate worse than death.

We may now turn to a type of parallel of a still more specific nature. Homeric tradition often represents military organisation as contingents of troops under a triad of officers for each contingent, as in passages like Iliad 2: 563-7 and Odyssey 14: 470-471. Iliad 12: 85-107 tells of five triads of officers in command of the five companies in the Trojan alliance (cf Iliad 2: 8I9-823). " Some went with Hector and flawless Polydamas; these were the most numerous and best, and prcssed on most eagerly to break through the wall, to fight by the hollow ships; and with them Ccbriones followed as the third; for by the chariot Hector had left another inferior to Cebriones. Paris, Alcathous and Agenor led the second company. Leading the third company were Helenus and godlike Deiphobus, two sons of Priam; the third was the hero Asius: Asius son of Hyrtacus, whom great tawny horses had fetched from Arisbe, from the river Selleis. Aeneas, the goodly son of Anchises, led the fourth company; with him were the two sons of Antenor: Archelochus and Acamas, well skilled in all kinds of combat. And Sarpedon led glorious warriors; and he selected (as colleagues) Glaucus and warlike Asteropaeus, for they seemed to him to be decidedly the

{p. 17} best of all after himself, but he was distinguished above all" (lliad 12: 88-104). This passage is to be compared with the list of David's officers in 2 Samuel 23 and I Chronicles II. Triads of officers appear in 2 Samuel 23: 9, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, and 23 to mention only the clear examples. Triads in this catalogue of David's officers are also reflected in problematic forms of the numeral "3," which may have been distorted in the course of textual transmission because the Davidic system was not fully understood by later generations. The Homeric terminology ties in with the Biblical in some detail. Just as Cebriones and Asius (Iliad 12: 91, 95) in the passage translated above, are called tritos "third," officers are frequently called salis (from the same root as salos "3") in Hebrew. It is furthermore not unusual in both traditions to designate one officer in each triad as the chief. Much as Sarpedon is called superior to his two associates (Iliad 12: 101-104), Abishai is honoured in 2 Samuel 23: 18 as "chief of the triad" and as having won special "fame among the three." I Chronicles II: 21 states that of the three "he was more honoured than the other two and became their general."

The agreement we have just observed between early Greek and early Hebrew usage is due to forces that can be pinned down in time and place. Regardless of the later stages of the fixing of the Greek and Hebrew texts, they reflect authentic traditions of what we may call the heroic age of the East Mediterranean during the last half of the second millennium B.C. The text of Homer about the Mycenaean Age with its memories of the Trojan War, and the Hebrew text covering from the Conquest through David's reign, cover ground with much in common geographically, chronologically and ethnically. Just as Mycenaean civilisation is a development of the Minoan, so too the Philistines who came to Palestine from Caphtor were an offshoot of the same general Aegean civilisation. Moreover, until David's victories around 1OOO B.C., the Philistines dominated the Hebrews

{p. 18} so that, militarily at least, the Davidic monarchy was the Hebrew response to the Philistine stimulus. Indeed, David served Achish, the Philistine King of Gath, as a vassal; and David learned much about the art of war from his Philistine associations. David and his successors for several generations made use of Philistine mercenary troops. Thus the Achaeans, Trojans, Philistines and Hebrews during the closing centuries of the second millennium belonged to the same international complex of peoples, sharing many conventions and institutions, specifically in military matters. When we read that the men of Jabesh-Gilead retrieved the corpses of Saul and his sons, who had been slain by the Philistines, and that they burned them (I Samuel 31: 12) prior to burial, we are dealing with an institution familiar from the Iliad. Hector's body was retrieved from Achilles by Priam and finally the Trojans "shedding tears, carried out brave Hector and set the corpse on the highest pyre and cast fire thereon" (Iliad 24: 786-787). "Later his brethren and companions gathered the white bones, weeping, and a great tear flowed down their cheeks. They gathered and put the bones into a golden vase, covering it with soft purple robes, and swiftly placed it in a hollow grave" (Iliad 24: 792-797). Also Patroclus was burned before burial. The Hittites practised somewhat similar rites. Mount Gilboa, where Saul met his death at the hands of the Philistines, and Troy, where Hector was slain by Achilles, were parts of the same East Mediterranean milieu during the closing centuries of the second millennium. The customs of both Greeks and Hebrews in that heroic age were often alien to their respective descendants in the classical periods. We shall have to bear in mind that the gulf separating classical Israel (of the great Prophets) from classical Greece (of the scientists and philosophers) must not be read back into the heroic age when both peoples formed part of the same international complex.

The Greco-Hebrew parallels need not conceal the evident and

[p. 19} profound Greco-Hebrew differences. No two nations forming part of a large cultural sphere are identical. Hungary and Norway, despite their unrelated languages and other major differences, are nonetheless component parts of what we recognise as European civilisation. Comparing Hungary and Norway alone might bring out their differences; but if the comparison be extended to include also Bantu and American Indian tribes, the genuine cultural relationship between Norway and Hungary would become evident. Similarly, a study limited to the Greek and Hebrew cultures has the effect of bringing out the many differences between the two. But the similarities between them come to the fore if we contrast them with cultures alien to the East Mediterranean.

The early Hebrews are no more different from the early Greeks than they are from the Egyptians or Mesopotamians where the interrelations (side by side with the drastic differences) are universally recognised.

It would be foolhardy to swell the pages of this book with an exhaustive list of Greco-Hebrew differences. Everyone knows that Homer is very different from the Bible. What is not sufficiently known is the fact that the two share a common East Mediterranean heritage. This common denominator is of prime importance in the history of our culture. This is why the parallels are worth discussing at length, and why the more numerous differences are not spelled out in detail.

The parallels that form the core of this book fit into a historical framework in the wake of the Amarna Age during the closing centuries of the second millennium. Prior to the Amarna Age (i.e., before 1400 B.C.) Egyptian, Canaanite, Mesopotamian, Anatolian, Aegean and other influences met around the East Mediterranean to form an international order, by which each was in turn affected. Out of the Amarna Age synthesis emerged the earliest traditions of Israel and Greece. ...

{p. 22} Channels of Transmission

Culture cannot be transmitted through abstract processes without human agency. Only people can carry culture; and cultural fusion results from the mingling of different groups of people. Because there is no one formula for the transmission of civilisation, we shall consider a variety of the more important channels attested around the ancient East Mediterranean.

Since remote antiquity, tribal units have been driven to seek grass and water for their flocks in far-off places when their native haunts have been hit hard by famine or drought. When, for this or any other reason, ethnic groups are on the move, some people are bound to be dispossessed so that a chain reaction of migration may be touched off.

Sometimes the migrants keep up contacts with their homeland. This is regularly the case when the travel is in the foreign service of the homeland. Diplomacy is not the only form of peaceful foreign service. Productive civilisations often require raw materials from abroad. While Babylonia is devoid of mineral resources, the Sumerian civilisation there required metals and stones for processing. Accordingly, through trade and foreign colonies, Sumer secured the raw materials indispensable for Sumerian life. Without stone seals and statuettes, or without metal knives, it is hard to imagine any culture that could be termed "Sumerian". {see footnote 1} This raises the question as to whether

{footnote 1} For an introduction to Sumerian culture, see S. N. Kramer, History Begins at Sumer, Doubleday (Anchor), Garden City, N.Y., I959.

{p. 23} Sumerian civilisation got started in Sumer or elsewhere. It is incredible that in a land devoid of stone or metal, the Sumerians could have risen from barbarism to a remarkably developed culture excelling in the arts of the lapidary and smith. There is every reason to believe that the Sumerians came to "Sumer" with a considerable degree of civilisation, and with connections already established in areas producing the needed raw materials. Some of the mines may have actually been worked by Sumerians; but in any case Sumerians must have been stationed there in administrative capacity. In late Sumerian times, as we shall note, Ur of Sumer had trading colonies far to the north.

Pottery found at early Greek sites such as Lerna, Dimini and Sesklo often has unmistakable affinities with Mesopotamian pottery from as far back as the Tell Halaf Period, around 3500 B.C. We shall presently explain the character of the human agents that account for the transmission of ceramic production, but meanwhile we may observe that ceramic affinities between Mesopotamia and the Aegean are proof of contact between the two areas long before the dawn of writing; over two thousand years before the Amarna synthesis out of which the early Greek and Hebrew traditions sprang. At no historic time were the Near East and the Aegean out of touch with each other, though in some periods, such as the Amarna and Hellenistic Ages, the contacts were especially strong. Classical scholars know about the orientalising periods in Greek art; and Near Eastern specialists are familiar with Minoan, Mycenaean, Hellenistic and still later Greek influence in Western Asia and Egypt. The interconnections antedate not only the earliest Hebrew and Greek writings, but also the earliest texts of Sumer and Egypt.

The most familiar and swiftest form of ethnic impact is military invasion and conquest. The first Semitic empire,

{p. 24} namely the Akkad Dynasty in Mesopotamia (ca. 235O-2150 B.C.), could boast of conquests up to, and even beyond, the shores of the Mediterranean. Seal cylinders of the Akkad Dynasty have been found on the island of Cyprus, making it quite likely that Sargon, who founded the Dynasty, reached Cyprus and brought it under his sway. Other Mesopotamian monarchs whose operations reached the Mediterranean in early times, include Naram-Sin of the Akkad Dynasty, Sargon the First of Assyria, and Naram-Sin of Eshnunna. Quite often, great movements connected with these and other sovereigns are documented all too vaguely; but the testimony of written records and archaeological objects leaves no doubt as to their historicity. Often enough the texts in question are not contemporary with the events. For example, Sargon of Akkad's conquest of Asia Minor has given rise to an epic called "King of Battle". In the Amarna Age, this epic was so popular that it was studied and copied by cuneiform scribes as far off as Egypt. The popularity of this composition in the outposts of Babylonian influence during the Amarna Age may be due to the fact that the scribes, and more especially the Babylonian traders for whom they worked, sometimes needed the protection of the Babylonian king. Accordingly, the tradition that Sargon, in response to the appeal of his merchants in Asia Minor, victoriously reasserted his power there, was long cherished by Mesopotamia's sons, trading far away for their country.

The King of Battle epic tells of Sargon planning to march over the difficult road to Bursahanda, in Asia Minor. Inasmuch as we do not possess all of the text, and what we have is incomplete (with the opening signs of each line lost), it is hard to give a full translation. But "the chief of the merchants" (obverse, 1. 13) mentions the campaigns of Sargon, his suzerainty over the

{p. 25} four quarters of the earth, and control over "the throne-rooms from the rising of the sun to the setting of the sun"(11. 14-15). The strong feelings of the merchants (1. 16) are instrumental in getting Sargon to undertake the hazardous expedition. The merchants declare: "We have appealed to Sargon, King of the Universe. Let him come down to us so that we shall get strength. We are not heroes." They go on to say that they will foot the bill with gold (11. 18-20). The reverse side of the tablet portrays Sargon's opponent, King Nur-Dagan, and the latter's troops uttering taunts and comforting each other with the recollection that in the past no king had invaded their territory. But meanwhile Sargon was proceeding, and he finally captured his foes. Nur-Dagan, now vanquished, must take back the taunts he had uttered before his defeat, and in Sargon's presence he exclaims: "What lands can rival Akkad! What king can rival you!" (rev., 11. 20-21).

The popularity of this composition in the Amarna Age reflects the status of the merchant abroad. There came times when, far from home, he required the diplomatic or even military aid of his king. It is quite likely that although the merchants in the King of Battle epic disclaim any prowess as warriors, merchants often had to fend for themselves to cope with threats to their security on short notice. We shall soon note that Genesis 14 portrays Abraham as a fighting merchant prince. The influx of Indo-European immigrants into the Near East during the second millennium B.C. revolutionised the art of war. The newcomers introduced the horse-drawn war-chariot, which gave a swift striking power hitherto unknown in the Near East.

{p. 26} The elite charioteer officers, who bear the Indo-European name of maryannu, soon became a new aristocracy throughout the entire area, including Egypt. With them appears also a new type of royal epic, which we may call the Indo-European War Epic. Embedded in it is a motif that has become commonplace in world literature: the Helen of Troy theme, whereby a hero loses his destined bride and must wage a war to win her back. Greek and Indic epic illustrate this theme {The Indian one is the Ramayana}, and it is from the Iliad that it has become popular in the modern West. However, it is completely absent from the romantic literatures of early Mesopotamia and Egypt, and it appears in the Semitic World only in the wake of the Indo-Europeans with their maryannu aristocracy. The Helen of Troy theme first appears at Ugarit of the Amarna Age, in a community where the Indo-European elements are present, including a firmly entrenched organisation of maryannu. As we shall note later, the theme permeates the early traditions of Israel, particularly the saga of Abraham.

One of the major channels of cultural transmission was the colony or enclave. Whole communities were often transplanted to look after their nation's interests in far-offplaces. Sometimes these colonies were of a military character to secure the borders of a large empire. For example, the Egyptian Empire (which reachcd its maximum limits during the reign of Thothmes III), and later the Hebrew Empire of David and Solomon, seem to have planted colonies on their northern frontier, just east of Cilicia. In any case, the northern districts called Musur ("Egypt") and "Judah" ("Ya'udi" in the native inscriptions) may well have been named after the homelands of the colonising powers. Indeed, we have to be on the look-out in the texts we read, to

{p. 27} know whether Musur and "Judah" designate the homeland or the colony. In addition to military duties, such colonies often had commercial functions as well.

Some colonies were primarily commercial, others military. For example, it is quite likely that the Third Dynasty of Ur, in Sumer, established around 2000 B.C. a number of colonies called Ur in tablets from Nuzu, Alalakh and Hattusa. The Ur of the Chaldees, where Abraham was born, seems to have been one of the northern Urs. After the collapse of the Ur Dynasty, the colony continued its commercial way of life under the new masters who took over. As we shall see, as late as the 13th century B.C., one of the northern Urs was an active community of merchants in the service of the Hittite kings. Then again in 525 B.C., when Cambyses conquered Egypt, he found an already established military colony of Aramaic Jews guarding the fortress island of Elephantine far up the Nile. {see footnote 1} This military colony continued to function for a long time under the Achaemeniad rulers of Egypt. It is normal for people to continue their way of life even though new masters control their land.

The best-documented colonies are the Old Assyrian commercial settlements in Asia Minor, particularly the one at Kultepe. The establishment of such centres usually implies that the founding nation was stronger than the nation on whose soil the community was planted. At least such was the case subsequently when the Arameans of Damascus took cities away from Omri of Israel and established commercial agents in Samaria; whereas, when Omri's son Ahab vanquished the Arameans, he recovered the lost territory and posted his commercial agents in Damascus (I Kings 20:34). However, military supremacy did not always have to precede commercial expansion. The long Mesopotamian tradition of business, book-keeping and law was welcome

{footnote 1} See my "The Origin of the Jews in Elephantine," Journal of Near-Easten Studies 14, 1955, pp. 56-58; and World of the Old Testament, p. 272.

{p. 28} in areas that had no well-developed equivalent of their own. Thus the spread of Mesopotamian trade was due in part to conquest, and in part to the process of useful developments filling a vacuum.

The Old Assyrian karum (as the community of such commercial settlements was called) kept up its commercial interchange with the mother country by caravan, and maintained its business records in the Old Assyrian language. There is no better documented illustration of transmission of Mesopotamian culture to Asia Minor than the karum at Kultepe.

That Old Babylonian expansion paralleled the Old Assyrian, is suggested by the fact that the Akkadian language written in the Amarna Age throughout the Near East (from Anatolia, through Canaan, and into Egypt) is the Babylonian, rather than the Assyrian, dialect. Still more cogent is the evidence of the Babylonian tablets found at Mari, along the middle Euphrates, establishing connections with Canaan, Asia Minor and even Crete on the eve of Hammurapi's widest conquests. Hammurapi's Babylonian Empire reached out, perhaps in the form of Babylonian colonies and enclaves, into the Aegean, as well as into Egypt. These outposts of his Empire did not take the form of outright conquest, but rather of commercial expansionism. In the Amarna Age itself, when Kassite Babylonia was politically and militarily weak, we find Babylonian used widely in the spheres of diplomacy, business and law all over the Near East. This triumph of Babylonian cannot be the accomplishment of the shrinking Kassite kingdom; it is rather the legacy of the powerful Age of Hammurapi over three centuries earlier. It should come as no surprise if Babylonian tablets, spanning the period of Hammurapi and the Amarna Age, will some day be found in Egypt.

{p. 29} (This would be quite in keeping with what is known of the Hyksos Empire which ruled territory in Asia as well as Egypt during the 17th and early 16th centuries B.C.) Discoveries are largely a matter of accident; the Amarna tablets themselves were discovered quite by accident; reputedly by a peasant woman in 1887 digging for fertiliser.

It is not unlikely that a sort of karum was established in the Messara, near the south central coast of Crete. The plainest indication of Babylonian influence in the Messara are the finds discovered by Xanthoudides at Platanos in "Tholos B," including a typical Old Babylonian seal cylinder showing the goddess with raised hands, and the "Amorite" hero. Workmanship, theme and material are all Old Babylonian without any provincial deviation. The port, where perhaps the remains of a karum-type community may have flourished, may yet be found on the Messara coast, perhaps in one or more of the settlements at a site now called Komo. We shall examine, in Chapter VI, the evidence of the Hagia Triada tablets and Harvester Vase which point to Mesopotamian influence at Hagia Triada. These Hagia Triada materials, from about 1400 B.C., come in the wake of the Old Babylonian impact on the Messara, attested by the finds at Platanos.

The Hittites planted their enclaves abroad, too. In the 23rd chapter of Genesis, Abraham purchases real-estate from a Hittite, in the presence of the whole Hittite community near Hebron in southern Palestine. Until a few years ago, biblical scholars assumed that the Hittites of Genesis 23 (and of other biblical narrativeS pertaining to the Palestinian population) were not Hittites at all. However, it has been demonstrated that the real-

{p. 30} estate transaction in Genesis 23 conforms with Hittite law, now known to us from Hittite tablets.

Ugarit provides us with the clearest picture of what was happening in the Near East during the Amarna Age. The community might be called Semitic, because the official local language (Ugaritic) is clearly Semitic. However, there was an influential Aegean enclave there, attested by Cypro-Minoan texts, Mycenaean art objects, and the presence of a Caphtorian god in the Ugaritic pantheon. Hittites, Hurrians, Alashiyans and other segments of the community are mentioned in the tablets. Assyrian and Egyptian enclaves are recorded side by side, though Ugarit certainly did not belong to either the Assyrian or Egyptian kings. While King Niqmad of Ugarit paid tribute to the Hittite sovereign (Suppiluliuma), Ugarit was a member of the Hittite defensive alliance, rather than a conquered territory. The fact that Assyrian and Egyptian enclaves flourished at Ugarit shows that Ugarit enjoyed enough freedom to have peaceful relations with all nations, near and far. What we see at Ugarit is the interpenetration of commercial empires. At that important city, at the crossroads of east-west and north-south traffic, representatives of the Aegean, Hittite, Hurrian, Mesopotamian, Canaanite, Egyptian and other populations met to conduct their affairs in an international order.

The above sketch shows that the Levantine character of the Near East had got well under way by the third millennium, and was highly developed even before the Amarna Age. The Levantine pattern is the mingling of distinct communities side by side. If we contrast a Levantine city (such as Istanbul, Beirut or Alexandria) with an American city (such as New York or Boston), the difference between the Near East Levant and the American melting pot will become clear. The minorities in the Levant maintain their individuality for centuries, and even

{p. 31} millennia, whereas the norm in an American metropolis is assimilation. In America, immigrants speak their foreign languages, which their children can usually understand but not speak, but which their grandchildren cannot even understand. In a Levantine city, while the minority groups know the principal languages used in their area, they speak their own ancestral language at home. Thus Greeks, Armenians and other minority peoples of the Levant still preserve their own language in Church and home, even though they may live under the Turkish or U.A.R. flag. At the core of their individuality is the concept of separate peoplehood, whereas the children of immigrants in America want to be Americans, first and foremost. In America the high incidence of denominational intermarriage tends to break up the denominational continuity within the family. In the Levant, peoplehood goes hand in hand with religion. The Greek Orthodox are Greeks; the Armenian Orthodox are Armenians; the Coptic Orthodox are Egyptian Christians (who use a Coptic liturgy); etc. It is not a matter of theological persuasion; it is simply peoplehood that determines one's identity in the Levant. This is why a Levantine, when asked his nationality, will (in the case of the minority groups) tell what religion he adheres to. The institution of minority peoples forming a single state under one flag is different in the Levant from, let us say, Switzerland. In Switzerland, citizens call themselves Swiss regardless of whether their home language is German, French or Italian. In the Levant, a citizen calls himself a Greek, Jew or Armenian by way of signifying his primary identification. The traditional scheme in the Levant is called the Millet System, where the individual is related to the body politic, not directly or through the district in which he lives, but through his ethnic group (i.e., his millet, which is translated "nation" although it is rather ethnos). The Millet System is clearly documented for the Achaemenian Empire (6th-4th centuries B.C.), which probably

{p. 32} inherited most of the structure from the preceding World Empires of the Assyrians and Neo-Babylonians. But the fact of a patch-quilt of ethnic groups under one government is already discernible in the Near East kingdoms of the Amarna Age.

Only two of the ethnic groups that emerged historically in the East Mediterranean of the second millennium have enjoyed a historically conscious continuity down to the present: the Greeks and the Hebrews. The recorded history of the Greeks can now be traced to the Amarna Age when, around 1400 B.C., the Mycenaean Greek tablets in the so-called Linear B script appear in Knossos and go on until the 12th ccntury B.C. in the Peloponnesus. Although Greek paganism eventually yielded to Christianity, the Greek language has thus survived as a written language on the same soil for at least 3350 years (and probably much longer as a spoken language). The Jews have preserved their religion and Hebrew Scriptures in an unbroken tradition; but the use of spoken Hebrew, and the establishment of Statehood in Israel, are the results of a restoration. Regardless of the differences between the continuity of the Greeks and Hebrews from the Amarna Age to the present day, the fact remains that they alone have preserved across the millennia an unbroken awareness of their past, and an attachment to their ancient land and language.

In the Achaemenian Empire, segments of Jewry lived widely separated from each other geographically and in way of life. The Jewish community in Iran, as depicted in the Book of Esther, is quite different from the Jewish colony in Elephantine. Yet both claimed Jewish identification, and accepted the other Jews of the

{p. 33} world as fellow Jews. When the State of Israel welcomes all Jews as citizens (from black Falashas of Abyssinia, to blue-eyed blondes from West Europe), it is clear that psychological ethnic identity is still the thing that counts. Cyprus may never have belonged to Greece, although Greek colonies have been on the Island for over three thousand years. Nevertheless, Greece has in recent years claimed the Island because the majority of the people speak Greek and adhere to the Greek church. Makarios was the only real candidate for the presidency of the new Cypriote state, because as the religious chief of the majority group, he was de facto the Ethnarch of the Cypriote Greeks. The key to the Cyprus situation is the age-old conccpt of peoplehood. The Turks of Cyprus are just as much Cypriotes as the Greeks. But the criterion of peoplehood is more basic than citizenship in the West European or American sense. The barriers between the ethnic groups do not prevent the people from meeting in the market place and pooling their individual contributions into the fabric of Levantine culture. This process was already established in the ancient East Mediterranean prior to the emergence of the Greeks and Hebrews.

In addition to the trading colonies, there were mobile traders who went abroad on itinerant or short-term missions. Hammurapi's Code (#103) regulates relationships between the business entrepreneur (tankarum) and his travelling agent (samallum). The tankarum himself is represented as conducting business personally in foreign territory, where, in addition to looking after his own business, he had to attend to wider Babylonian interests as the occasion might demand. Thus he had to redeem Babylonians in exile so that they could be repatriated. Law #32 requires the tankarum to advance the ransom for repatriating captive Babylonian soldiers. Laws # #280-281 regulate the

{p. 34} tankarum 's ransoming of runaway Babylonian slaves abroad, for repatriation.

The Hittites followed the Assyro-Babylonian precedent of sending merchants abroad. The Hittite Code (I: 5) protects the merchant by imposing the exemplary fine of 100 minas of silver (plus other restitution) on anyone who kills him abroad in Luwiya or Pala, or in Hatti land.

The Hittite kings sponsored merchants plying their trade in Canaan. Documents of Hattusili III (ca. 1282-1250 B.C.) have been found at Ugarit, regulating the activities of his merchants there. Complaints had been lodged against the merchants for their undue exploitation of Ugarit. Accordingly, Hattusili forbade his merchants to acquire Ugaritic real-estate, or to remain in Ugarit throughout the year. They were to function in Ugarit only during the summer season and return to their home base, the city of Ur(a), for the winter season. Thus the merchants of Ur(a) would be prevented from gaining a permanent foothold in Ugarit, by being kept on the move, and by being without land of their own in Ugarit. A number of tablets mention the Hittite-sponsored merchants of Ur(a), indicating that it was a commercial colony, whose citizens often embarked on foreign trading missions. This Ur(a) may possibly be Abraham's birthplace in the Haran/Urfa area. Hattusili protected the capital of his merchants by enforcing their right to enslave the debtors, together with their dependents, if loans were not repaid on time.

These tablets of Hattusili have corroborated the repeated statement in the narrative of Genesis, that the Hebrew Patriarchs

{p. 35} had mercantile interests. {footnote: Genesis 23:16; 34:10; 42:34} One can say with confidence that Abraham is represented as a tankarum from Ur of the Chaldees in the Hittite realm. Like many others from Ur, he embarked on a career in Canaan. But unlike the others, he succeeded in purchasing land and laying the foundation for his descendants' settlement there.

Genesis 14 portrays Abraham as the commander of his own company of troops, augmented by those of his Amorite allies. Moreover, he is successful in overtaking and defeating a coalition of invading kings. It is significant that in this chapter, Abraham is called a "Hebrew." This raises an interesting question, because many scholars are inclined to identify "Hebrew" with Apiru (written in Akkadian: ha-pi-ru). The phonetic difficulties in equating the words are considerable, but in the case of borrowings we cannot always establish the exact phonetic "laws" that are operative. The Apiru are widely distributed over the Near East throughout the second millennium. They are not an ethnic group, such as "Hebrew" came to designate early in Old Testament times. They are regularly outsiders, usually serving in some official capacity. Often they are warriors, though in Nuzu they are servile. Abraham is an outsider, serving in an official capacity, to judge from Genesis 23: 6, where the members of the Hittite enclave address him as "My Lord" and add "you are an exalted prince in our midst." In Genesis 14 he is a successful warrior, and it is precisely in that chapter that he is called the "Hebrew." Inasmuch as the tankaru "merchants" were sponsored by their kings, and had to look after their national interests abroad, the tankaru formed a guild with official duties and prerogatives. Since they were targets of attack (for it was always a temptation to rob them of their goods), they tended to develop a military capability for self-defence (and in some cases, perhaps, for offensive purposes such as eliminating rivals and

{p. 36} capturing new markets). Abraham the "Hebrew" has a combination of qualities that fit the Apiru well: outsider, trader, official, warrior.

Homeric epic shows no concern for trade. Homeric society gloried in an aristocracy of warriors who owned land and cattle as well as precious stuffs and gladly left commerce in the hands of Phoenicians and others with mercantile proclivities. Hebraic tradition, as epitomised in the saga of Abraham, combines Homeric with Phoenician values, and honours a fighting merchant prince as the founder of the People. Hesiod's ideal is different from Homer's. For Hesiod the best way of life is success in agriculture; but next comes success in trade.

The spread of the tankaru, culminating in the Hammurapi Age, brought Babylonian business, law and writing to the ends of the Near East, including the Aegean in the northwest and Egypt in the south. For keeping accounts, making contracts, and correspondence the tankaru introduced the Babylonian language wherever they went. Their scribes had first to be trained in the essentials of Babylonian literature so that a knowledge of the classics of Mesopotamia was exported wherever the tankaru opened offices throughout the ancient world. The tankaru also spread business methods. The seeds of the capitalist system were produced in Mesopotamia and sown throughout the ancient world by the tankarum and their successors. The most fundamental part of capitalistic economy is the encouragement of capital investment by the payment of interest. The Mesopotamians called such capital, or principal, qaqqadum (literally "head"). With the institution the name has been

{p. 37} carried through Hebrew ros, Greek hefalaion, and Latin caput, whence English "capital" is derived. Conducting business by leaving security (pending payment) was also fostered by the tankaru of the ancient Near East. In Canaan, the security was written 'rbn at Ugarit and pronounced 'erabon in Hebrew. The Greeks called it arrabon; the Romans, arrabo (gen. arrabonis); and the French still call it les arrhes - the same word, although worn down through linguistic wear.

All societies are stratified and their component parts often have different modes of life, as well as different functions. Usually several different forces are at work, resulting in a variety of stratifications crisscrossing each other so that many individuals, as well as whole groups, are affected by a number of factors simultaneously. For example, the stratification into rich and poor does not always go in the expected way with the stratification into free and slave. Free men were often poor; and slaves were sometimes wealthy. Hammurapi's Code has a three-fold division of society into patrician, plebeian and slave. But other divisions are also operative in the Code: native vs. alien; priesthood vs. laity; military vs. civilian; government vs. subjects; herdsmen vs. farmers; etc., etc. Amid all this complexity is the guild system whereby each craft has its own closed guild. One normally had to be born into the guild and learn the craft from his father. However, a childless craftsman could adopt a child and teach him the craft, thus bringing him into the guild.

Guilds were an important channel of cultural transmission, for the reason given in the Odyssey 17: 382-386: "Who of himself really invites and summons a stranger from abroad? Unless they

{p. 38} be demioergoi: a prophet, or a healer of ills, or a builder, or an inspired minstrel, who sings to a delighted audience. For these are called by mortals over the endless earth. But no one would call a beggar to impoverish himself." The implication of this passage is clear. Ordinary men such as dispossessed peasants and herdsmen were not welcome abroard. Only skilled specialists were desired and weelcome the world over.

{p. 41} The older Codes of Mesopotamia, down to Hammurapi's, show the guild structure of ancient Near East society. But after the impact of the Indo-Europeans, the stratification becomes much more complex. Ugarit has such a plethora of guilds that we suspect the influence of an Indo-European system, akin to the one that later became fossilised as the caste system of India. At the beginning, the system was merely one of professional specialisation, but it became more and more hide-bound and hereditary until guild-classes became castes. It seems that, while the Indo-Europeans did not start the guild system in the Near East, they added considerable impetus to it.

We have noted that religious personnel were organised into mobile guilds. Homeric epic includes prophets among the demioergoisought everywhere on the face of the limitless earth. Prophets and priests were, in those days, not so much adherents of a unique cult as professional men who offered their technical services to any employer. To be sure, they might insist on professional freedom, and refuse to act as mere rubber stamps, but their services were for sale within those limits. The Bible reflects the same situation in Numbers 22, where Balak, King of Moab, sought out Balaam from Pathor in Aram along the Euphrates, to secure his professional services for execrating Israel. Balaam had established a wide reputation for pronouncing effective curses and blessings, and Balak felt that a curse upon Israel from the distinguished prophet Balaam might strengthen him against Israel. It is of more than passing interest to note that Numbers 22-24 represents the gentile prophet Balaam as inspired by God; and his utterances, such as "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob; thy tabernacles, O Israel" (Numbers 24: 5) have remained among the most cherished passages in Scripture throughout Synagogue history.

{p. 44} The problem posed by ancient Cythera has not yet been answered. The Island is rather remote from Egypt and Asia for men to have sailed there, for religious purposes alone. And yet it is hard to discover any more practical reason. Cythera is not remarkable for its natural resources. Was it the last stop on the sea-route before the ancient mariners reached the Peloponnesus (for Laconia is in full view from Cythera) ? But then, what was there in the Peloponnesus to attract ships from afar? Probably not the wine and oil, for they were also produced elsewhere in the Levant. It has been conjectured that Greece produced enough lead and tin to attract merchants from the Cuneiform World. (Lead was one of the metals used as a medium of exchange.) Perhaps so. But since ancient mariners liked to hug the shore and engage in island hopping, perhaps Cythera was a major stop on

{p. 45} the route to the west, possibly ending in Spain. Much remains to be done by way of identifying the sea-lanes in the various periods of antiquity, through showing the periods of occupation of the Mediterranean ports. Meanwhile we must reckon with Cythera as a site where all the evidence so far points to its importance as a religious centre with international attraction.

When Solomon dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem, he is represented as saying to God: (I Kings 8: 41) "And also to the alien, who is not of Thy people Israel, but comes from a distant land on account of Thy fame; (42) for hearing of Thy great name and Thy strong hand, and Thine outstretched arm, he comes to this house to pray. ... (43) do Thou listen in the heavens, the place where Thou dwellest, and perform all that the alien begs of Thee, so that all the peoples of the earth may know Thy name, to fear Thee like Thine own people Israel, and to know that Thy name is proclaimed over this house that I have built." The thought put in the mouth of Solomon is not anachronistic. Great cultic centres (such as Jerusalem then aspired to become) attracted people from near and far, provided that the people were satisfied. Such shrines functioned around the East Mediterranean long before, as well as long after, the completion of Solomon's Temple in the tenth century B.C. Solomon, who had wide commercial interests, as well as extensive territorial holdings, would naturally want his Temple to command international respect and draw men from the ends of the earth. Such shrines have remained well known throughout the ages. In classical antiquity, the oracle at Delphi was sought within a wide radius. Today Lourdes attracts from every continent people in need of help that they have not succeeded in finding nearer home.

Cythera thus became a centre for Egyptians and Semites and still other people, from Abusir along the Nile to Eshnunna beyond the Euphrates. Such visitors brought their influence to

{p. 46} bear on the Aegean, and on returning home, carried some Aegean culture with them. Our survey of the channels of transmission is far from exhaustive but it should suffice to convey a general appreciation of the many avenues along which international cultural exchange took place.

{p. 47} The Cuneiform World

Sumer, the most southerly part of Mesopotamia, is of recent geological formation. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers deposit a vast quantity of silt each year so that the shore line of the Persian Gulf keeps moving perceptibly southward. At present, the Twin Rivers join to form the Shatt el-Arab, which flows into the Gul£. In Sumerian times, the Euphrates and Tigris emptied into the Gulf separately at points that are now far inland.

Sumer, formed of fertile silt and favoured with an abundance of water from the Rivers, had enormous potentialities requiring only the right human factor to develop them. The Sumerians arrived on the scene, and never was there a better combination of land and people. Where the Sumerians came from is still disputed. Typologically, the language of Sumer resembles Chinese, which suggests an eastern origin. Some scholars have proposed that the Sumerians came by ship, landing on the north shore of the Persian Gulf. Most authorities maintain that they swept down from the highlands on the east and north. Cultural connections between Sumer and the lands to the north (and north-east and north-west) tip the scales in favour of a land route for the advent of the Sumerians.

While Sumerian wealth and power depended on a richly productive agriculture, Sumerian civilisation from the start was intimately connected with the concept of mountainous terrain

{p. 48} and with the arts of the smith and lapidary that are dependent on mines and quarries in the mountains.

The typical temple structure of the Sumerians was the ziggurat, or stage tower with a shrine at the top. It was called the Mountain House and simulated a kind of shrine venerated on mountain tops by the ancestors of the Sumerians, prior to their migration into Sumer. Excellence in the working of stones for seals, and of gold, silver, electrum and copper for jewellery, implements and weapons, indicates early connections with, and exploitation of, the mineral resources of Western and Central Asia. Such a civilisation could not have grown up, from scratch, on the soil of Sumer, without outside connections.

As we have noted, early Mesopotamian pottery, from about 3500 B.C., has links as far afield as peninsular Greece, via Anatolia. Cultural links between Mesopotamia and Greece have persisted, in varying degree, from period to period, ever since.

Shortly after 3000 B.C., the Sumerians developed a system of writing from pictographs. At first the Sumerian script was linear, but it gradually became cuneiform, normally inscribed on clay tablets with a stylus. During the third millennium, Sumerian became a great medium for writing the records of business, law, religion and literature. If we are to measure greatness in such matters by impact on other nations, Sumerian is certainly the world's first great written language and literature. The late Edward Sapir listed Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek and Latin as the five great languages of the world, because of their impact on other speech groups. Sumerian ought to be added to the list.

The Akkadians borrowed the Sumerian system of writing and absorbed many Sumerian loanwords into the Akkadian language. Moreover Sumerian remained the classical language of Akkadian culture throughout the 2500 years that Akkadian texts continued to be written in cuneiform. When this script was borrowed by

{p. 49} the Hittites, the scribes of Anatolia continued to use Sumerian as well as Akkadian word-signs, even though the reader was supposed to pronounce them in Hittite. Sumerian as well as Akkadian words were borrowed into the Hittite language. Wherever Akkadian influence spread (among the Hurrians, Hittites, Elamites, Canaanites and still farther afield into the Aegean and Egypt), the Sumerian impact was felt. While Aramaic was displacing Akkadian in the course of the first millennium B.C., it absorbed a host of Sumerian words from Akkadian and transmitted them to the rest of the Near East. Some got into Arabic and have been carried to the ends of the eastern hemisphere by Islam. Of older date are the Sumerian loanwords in biblical Hebrew.

The greatness of Sumer can be measured in other spheres, too. Its sexagesimal system has reached us via the exact sciences. Our astronomers still divide the circle into 360 degrees with each degree divisible into 60 minutes and each minute into 60 seconds. The division of the hour into 60 minutes of 60 seconds each is also a legacy of Sumer. Whenever we look at a clock, we are reminded of our debt to Sumer.

The achievement of the Sumerians in the art of the jeweller first became fully clear when Sir C. Leonard Woolley unearthed the royal tombs at Ur. I had the good fortune to be a member of the expedition early in 1932, while the tomb-treasures were still emerging from the soil. I had just come from an expedition where most of the finds consisted of pottery, and it is impossible to describe the effect of such a sudden transfer to a site like Ur, where a symphony of colour (gold, carnelian and lapis-lazuli) came to view, wherever we would brush away the soil in the tomb area.

The most characteristic product of Sumerian (and later of Akkadian) art is the seal cylinder. Usually made of stone, the cylinder, often comparable in size with a human finger, bears

{p. 50} the artist's work in intaglio. Nearly always, the composition fits into a repertoire of common themes. The main purpose of the cylinder seals was to indicate ownership. Storage jars, and even store rooms, were sealed around the opening with clay over which the seal was rolled completely about the circumference. The need to seal any-size circumference evoked the cylindrical seal which could be rolled for any distance that might be needed. Eventually, the Sumerian cylinder seals were used as signatures by the contracting parties and witnesses on clay tablets.

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.

In the 24th century B.C., a new dynasty got hold of Mesopotamia. Sargon, of the city of Akkad, established a Semitic Empire that reached out into the Mediterranean. From his time on, southern Mesopotamia came to be known as Sumer and Akkad; Sumer designating the more Sumerian south, and Akkad the more Semitic north. His success marked a turning point in history. From his time down to the present, Mesopotamia became a predominantly Semitic land. Sargon claimed dominion over the entire world; a concept that has plagued mankind ever since.

As we noted above, Sargon's merchants in Asia Minor summoned kim to reassert his power there. This implication that his Akkadian Dynasty had connections in Asia Minor from the start is confirmed linguistically. The Akkadian language, though Semitic, has some Indo-European words imbedded in it, from the very beginnings of recorded Akkadian literature. Whereas other Semitic languages express "in" by the prefix ba-, and "to, for" by the prefix la-, Akkadian is the only Semitic language to express them by in(a) and ana respectively. Akkadian in(a) cannot be dissociated from Greek en or Latin and

{p. 53} English in with the same meaning ("in"). Akkadian ana shares some meanings with Greek atta. Akkadian magal "greatly" is related to Greek megal-os "great-ly." Sometimes the Sumerian anticipates the Akkadian tie-in with Indo-European; thus Sumerian a-gar and Akkadian ugaru, meaning "field," cannot be separated from Indo-European angr-os (Greek), ager (Latin) and Acker (German) "field."

The basic Indo-European vocabulary in Akkadian is due to a process called linguistic alliance. This means only that when two different linguistic groups of people live together, their languages will interpenetrate each other. The above words, embedded in Akkadian and so attested from the first appearance of Akkadian texts, confirm the tradition of the "King of Battle Epic" that Sargon's Akkadian Dynasty had Anatolian connections from the beginning. Since the Akkadian records start around the middle of the third millennium B.C., the formation of the Akkadian language in linguistic alliance with Indo-Europeans in Anatolia must have taken place still earlier.

The western connections of the Akkad Dynasty are indicated in yet other ways. Only one western god, Dagan, obtained an important place in the old Mesopotamian pantheon, and he significantly is the patron god of the Akkad Dynasty. This western god appears in the Linear A tablets of Hagia Triada; he

{p. 54} is Baal's father according to the Epic of Kret from Ugarit; and he is the chief god of the Biblical Philistines. Still another bond connecting Akkadian Mesopotamia with the Aegean is the goddess that commonly appears on seal cylinders starting in Akkad times, growing in popularity during the Ur III period and becoming exceedingly common during the First Dynasty of Babylon. She wears a flounced dress and holds up her hands, bending her arms at the elbow. In the light of the other tie-ins just pointed out, we are led to compare her with the Minoan goddess with upheld hands and wearing a flounced skirt. Perhaps this goddess reached Crete and Mesopotamia from the intermediate area of Asia Minor. At any rate - as with so much of the evidence - we can no longer go on assuming tacitly that such Mesopotamian and Aegean phenomena are unrelated. The gap has been bridged with the result that we are beginning to see a continuum instead of two unconnected areas poles apart.

Under the Dynasty of Akkad, Mesopotamia launched on a programme of expansionism that carried its arms, commerce and culture towards the ends of the known world. The majestic concept of a World Empire favoured the notion of divine kingship. Kings of the Dynasty, notably Naram-Sin (one of Sargon's successors), often place the sign for divinity before their names, and are depicted in art as wearing the horned crown of godhood. In Greek epic, kings are accorded the titles and honours of divinity. To be sure, since the Pharaohs had been regarded as divine throughout Egyptian history, the concept was nothing new around the East Mediterranean. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that the early Sumerian rulers did not claim divinity; and,

{p. 55} therefore, the concept may have been brought into Mesopotamia by the Akkadians from Anatolia, and may also have persisted in the Aegean from third millennium into the Mycenaean milieu reflected in the Homeric poems. Spyridon Marinatos (op. cit., p. 134) has rightly pointed out that the concept of "divinely born kings" in Homer reflects the international culture of a Near East of which the Greeks were a component part. He notes in this connection that the Mycenaeans have much more in common with that international complex than with the later classical Greeks (op. cit., p. 126). We may say the same for early Israel, which belonged to the same international complex. The milieu of David and that of Achilles are, as we shall see, closer to each other than either is to the Age of the great Hebrew Prophets, or of Fifth and Fourth Century Athens. The synthesis out of which the early Greeks and Hebrews sprang in the second millennium was already in the making early in the third millennium.

Although the Akkad Dynasty marked the beginning of the end for Sumerian domination, a number of Sumerian revivals were attempted during the following centuries but were doomed to failure by wave after wave of Semitic immigration. The main revival was the Third Dynasty of Ur, in the twenty-first and twentieth centuries B.C. The population in the homeland was becoming more and more Akkadian, but the official written language and institutional structure of the realm was Sumerian. As in the case of all revivals, there were differences between Ur and the classical past. The chief of state was now a king (lugal in Sumerian) instead of merely the human agent (ensi in Sumerian) who ruled a city state for the city god. Indeed, Ur III,

{p. 56} far from being a Sumerian city state, was now an empire. Following the precedent of the Akkad Dynasty, Ur III had commercial colonies far to the north. We have noted why Abraham's birthplace, Ur of the Chaldees, was probably a northern commercial colony named after the Sumerian capital of the Third Dynasty of Ur. The cult of the daughter colony was the same as the cult of the mother city: the moon cult of the god Sin, and his wife, the lunar goddess Nin-gal. Many merchants from the northern Urs entered Canaan for trading purposes and introduced their Mesopotamian moon cult there. It is for this reason that Nikkal (= Nin-gal) was worshipped at Ugarit and even penetrated through Canaan into Egypt. Abraham was not an isolated immigrant, but part of a larger movement from Ur of the Chaldees (and similar communities) into Canaan.

It is from the reign of Ur-Nammu, the first king of Ur III, that we have fragments of the earliest extant lawcode in the world. The urge to regulate society by written ordinances had long been felt in Sumer. An older ensi of Lagash, named Urukagina, had written a social reform two centuries earlier. Urukagina's reform consisted mainly of ameliorating fees and prices, in the interest of the common man who had to pay them. Ur-Nammu's lawcode, written in Sumerian, is a more advanced type of document. It is arranged in the classical Mesopotamian form for lawcodes, with prose laws flanked by a poetic prologue and epilogue. The fully developed form of Ur-Nammu's Code shows that it is not a first attempt, but rather rests on a tradition of earlier codes, which may some day be found in Sumerian mounds yet to be excavated.

The importance of the Sumero-Akkadian lawcodes lies in their influence on the later Greeks and Hebrews, via the peripheral areas of Mesopotamian expansionism during the second

{p. 57} millenium B.C. Between Ur-Nammu and Hammurapi, two more codes have survived. The earlier is the Eshnunna Code in Babylonian; the later is the Li-pit-Ishtar Code in Sumerian. Hammurapi's Code marks the apex of Mesopotamian legal codification, and it is not without significance that precisely at this time, Mesopotamian influence reached out towards its farthest known limits in the West: attaining firm footholds even in the Aegean. Babylonian merchants carrying their native methods of business and law imported their legal system to the lands where Israel and Greece were destined to grow. For this reason Babylonian law can be felt in classical Hebrew and Greek law. For instance, the Hebrew principle of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" is anticipated in Hammurapi's Code. And lest this be considered too general a principle to prove anything, we may cite something more specific: The Hebrew legislation (Exodus 21: 28-32) about "the goring bull" (whereby the owner is responsible for the damage to life and limb, caused by the beast after its first offence), is in the tradition of the Mesopotamian Codes, starting with the Eshnunna Code #54 and continued in Hammurapi's Code ##250-252.

We are not to explain the Hebrew parallels as direct copying from the cuneiform codes. We are rather to picture Canaan, on the eve of the Hebrew settlement, as a land in which Mesopotamian law was already entrenched, so that the Hebrews absorbed that legal tradition as an integral part of the Canaanite culture they took over.

In the Greek world, Crete had the reputation of being the most law-conscious area. (Next came Laconia, with its intimate connections with Crete.) The oldest extant Greek code has been found at Gortyn in the Messara, on Crete. It is striking that the Gortyn Code was found specifically in the Messara, which is the part of Crete where Platanos and Hagia Triada are also situated. It may not be a coincidence that the oldest Greek code

{p. 58} hails from precisely the part of Crete where Babylonian activity is attested, archaeologically and epigraphically, since the middle of the second millennium B.C. ...

The Assyrians were confronted with the problem of coping with the hostility of the native Cappadocian population. Accordingly, they maintained a control over weapons and over the metal from which weapons could be made.

{p. 59} The cuneiform scribes in Asia Minor transmitted more than the art of writing. In the course of their training, they absorbed

{p. 60} the fundamentals of Mesopotamian law, business, science and literature. In all these fields, the Greeks received a strong exposure to Mesopotamian culture prior to the Mycenaean period, via Hittite Anatolia by land, as well as via Canaan by sea. The miracle of Greece did not happen suddenly. It resulted in part from repeated exposure to the accomplishments of the Assyrians and Babylonians through channels of transmission. Artistic evidence points to the same conclusions. ...

The Gilgamesh Epic may well have reached the Aegean in both Akkadian and in translations (perhaps including Mycenaean Greek), during the Amarna Age. We know for a fact that the Akkadian version of the Gilgamesh Epic was read on Palestinian soil prior to the emergence of Hebraic literature

{p. 61} because of an Amarna Age fragment of the Epic found at Megiddo.

... Odysseus, like Gilgamesh, travelled far and grew weary, becoming experienced and wise in the process. The Gilgamesh Epic and the Odyssey both recount the episodic wanderings of a heroic city-king, leading to a nostos or homecoming. The partial dependence of the Odyssey on the Gilgamesh Epic is clear from the agreement in a number of specific episodes; not merely from the general over-all scheme shared by both poems.

Gilgamesh was king of the matchless city of Uruk, over which he ruled not only proudly but tyrannically. Like Achilles and Heracles, Gilgamesh was of mixed divine and human parentage. As the goddess Thetis bore Achilles, the goddess Ninsun had borne Gilgamesh. These illustrations of human heroes born by goddesses are well-known, but for some strange reason it has not occurred to biblical scholars that the hero Shamgar, son of Anath (Judges 3: 31; 5: 6), had as his mother the warlike

{p. 62} Canaanite goddess Anath (now well-known to us from Ugaritic literature).

{p. 116} The Empire Period brought Egypt into the age of internationalism that produced the great East Mediterranean synthesis. Pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty contracted marriages with Mitanni princesses. An international language, Babylonian, now served as the means of communication from Mesopotamia to Egypt, including also Canaan, Anatolia and the islands of the East Mediterranean. A collection of about four hundred documents, known as the Tell el-Amarna letters, found at Akhetaton,2

1 Mercenary troops frequently transmitted such military lore from land to land.
2 Akhetaton is the ancient name of Tell el-Amarna.

{p. 117} the capital of Amenophis IV, preserves the diplomatic correspondence between the Pharaohs (Amenophis III and IV), on the one hand, and the rulers of Western Asia, on the other. These letters, reflecting the nature and extent of international give-and-take, show how the heritage of Semite, Hurrian, Indo-European, Egyptian, Minoan and other ethnic elements of the Near East funnelled into the Amarna Order, out of which proto-Israel and proto-Hellas emerged.

A large proportion of the Amarna letters deal with Phoenician relations, reflecting the prominence of that important maritime people in the East Mediterranean.

Ugarit, on the north shore of Syria, has long been known from the Amarna Letters. But since 1929, the French expedition there, under Claude Schaeffer, has unearthed a mass of texts and monuments that has made of Ugarit a cornerstone in reconstructing the origins of western culture (see Chapter V). The Ugaritic tablets mention Egyptian residents, and Egyptian inscriptions have been found there.

During the Empire Period, Egypto-Aegean relations are clearly attested both in Egypt and in the Aegean. The Egyptian term "Keftiu" corresponds to "Caphtorians." Caphtor (which is mentioned in Akkadian, Ugaritic and Hebrew texts) designated the Aegean World, whose hub was Crete.1 The influence of Egyptian and Minoan art on each other is unmistakable.

The new international order witnessed the penetration of

1 Most scholars would pinpoint Caphtor as Crete, though it has been proposed to localise it elsewhere in the East Mediterranean ranging from Cythera (so E. Weidner) to the southern coast of Asia Minor (so G. A. Wainwright, of whose valuable publications on the subject, we may note "Early Tin in the Aegean," Antiquity 18, 1944, pp. 57-64; N.B. p. 61, n. 23). Sea people, like the Caphtorians, were on the move. Accordingly we should not try to localise their land too narrowly. Originally "Caphtor" may have designated some specific and limited region in the East Mediterranean, but the solution of this moot question lies beyond the scope of this book.

{p. 118} classes of people across political boundaries. For example, the fighting charioteers, known by the Indo-European name of maryannu, appear in Egypt as well as all over Western Asia. The Apiru also appear all through Western Asia and Egypt throughout the second millennium B.C.

Since the Amarna Age was one in which men of such different origins and backgrounds came into contact, it was inevitable that the spirit of the Age should produce an over-all universal religion to run parallel with the local religions that flourished in the component parts of the Order. Egypt was divided up into districts called "nomes." Each nome had its own cult and among the inhabitants of the same nome, it was the provincial cult that satisfied the average Egyptian's religious needs. However, since Old Kingdom times, the Re cult had become the universal religion of life, straddling all the nomes and eclipsing their local religions. Some compromise had to be made with the deeply entrenched localisms. For instance, Amon the ram-god was the main deity of the capital, Thebes. He was fused with Re, to form Amon-Re, who thus became the universal god of what aspired to be a World Empire. The biblical tradition is quite clear in representing the Hebrews and other nations as being in complete agreement on the validity of Elohim,1 the God Who transcends all cults and rules the Universe. Under Amenophis IV, who changed his name to Ikhnaton, solar monotheism went too far for Egyptian sensitivities. It involved a revolution in religion, art and even language that strained Egypt beyond its capacity for change. With the death of Ikhnaton, the counter-revolution came on and restored religion and art more or less to their former state. However, his language reform (whereby the

1 "Elohim" happens to be the Hebrew designation for the One God. In Akkadian texts from Ugarit, the same God is called ilani: the exact Akkadian equivalent of Elohim. He was called by different names in different languages, but sophisticated citizens of the Amarna Order knew that the various names all referred to the same Deity.

{p. 119} classical Middle Kingdom Egyptian was supplanted by the contemporary New Kingdom Egyptian as the written language) was there to stay.

It cannot be overstressed that Egyptian developments were not in isolation during the Amarna Age. Its monotheism was in the air internationally. Geographically, Egypt was a lateral area in the Amarna Order; off to the southwest and exposed to the rest of the Amarna Order only via the Delta. Palestine, however, was the hub of the Order, forming the land-bridge between Asia and Egypt, and situated along the shores of the Mediterranean. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the monotheistic spirit of the age took permanent root in that hub which has come to be known as the Holy Land. Palestine was sufficiently international to digest universal monotheism and make of it a permanent factor in the future of mankind; Egypt could not digest it because of deep nationalistic institutions.

{The Hindu Nationalists of India claim that this "solar monotheism" derives from a Vedic/Sanskrit influence on Egypt, via the Aryan sun-god Surya (see rig-veda.html), and Egyptian royal marriages with Mitanni and Hittite princesses. However, the Vedic religion was polytheistic; this does not explain Akhnaten's iconoclasm. More at rosicrucian.html.}

{But polytheism - God as a committee rather than an individual - could be equally universal, by equating similar gods, among the different religions, with one another. Thus, the Greeks equated their gods with those of Egypt. A god associated with a planet or star would be seen as having different names among different peoples, but being essentially the same, and therefore one had no problem visiting temples in foreign countries. This is quite different from the intolerant, iconoclastic spirit Akhnaten introduced. Nor did the (later) multicultural but monotheistic/dualistic Persian Empire practice iconoclasm.}

{Sigmund Freud, like Gordon, sees Jewish Monotheism as derived from that of Egypt's heretic Pharaoh Akhnaten. Freud wrote his last book, Moses and Monotheism, on this topic: moses.html. He even admits to being embarrassed by the bloodthirsty, parochial character of Yahweh (Jehovah): "The Jewish people had abandoned the Aton religion which Moses had given them and had turned to the worship of another god {i.e. Jehovah} who differed little from the Baalim of the neighbouring tribes. All the efforts of later distorting influences failed to hide this humiliating fact." (Moses and Monotheism, Vintage Books, New York, 1967, p. 87). Jews are riven by this oscillation between Akhnaton's Universal God and Jehovah the Tribal God. For a follow-up of Freud's book, see Donald B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times, p. 377 ff., and Ahmed Osman's daring books Stranger in the Valley of the Kings (which equates the Biblical Joseph with the vizier Yuya) and Moses: Pharaoh of Egypt. Osman believes that Akhnaten was Moses; Redford refutes that claim, yet provides evidence Osman sees as useful for his case. Osman claims that Immanuel Velikovsky, like Freud a Jewish Psychoanalyst, was so outraged by Freud's book that he wrote Oedipus and Akhnaton to counter it. More on this topic at moses.html.}

The Amarna Age marks a decline in Egyptian power abroad. From that time on, Egypt experienced a number of revivals, but in general it may be said that Pharaonic Egypt went into a decline and never again equalled the splendours of the Pyramid Age, Middle Kingdom or Empire Period. And yet the early centuries of decline are precisely the era when Egypt was a major part of the synthesis that evoked the earliest literatures of Israel and Greece. For this reason, Late Egyptian literature (as the following compositions are called) is of prime importance in our investigation.

Around the 13th century B.C. was composed The Tale of the Two Brothers. For present purposes, it is only the plot of the first part of the composition that interests us. The story goes that two brothers lived together. The older one, Anubis, was married. The younger, Bata, was not. In accordance with the fratriarchal elements of society, Bata served his older brother faithfully. But Allubis's wife tried to seduce Bata, and when he resisted her

{p. 120} advances, she accused him of trying to rape her. This theme is familiar from the biblical story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife, and from the Homeric account of the virtuous Bellerophon and the lecherous Anteia. It is accordingly part of the ancient East Mediterranean repertoire.

By far the most important of the Late Egyptian stories for the history of Greek epic is The Misadventures of Wenamon. The manuscript itself dates from the tenth century, but it relates to events during the early years of the eleventh century when Egypt's claim to prestige abroad had already become a painful anachronism.

Wenamon was sent to Phoenicia to get lumber for repairing, or replacing, the sacred boat of Amon. En route, he stopped at Dor, near the Carmel Coast of Palestine, where the Aegean folk known as the Tsekel were in control. This ties in with the biblical account, which does not list Dor among the cities captured by the Hebrew tribesmen of the Conquest.1 It will be remembered that the tale of Wenamon is set in the biblical period of the Conquest and Judges. The coast of Canaan remained largely in the hands of the Phoenicians and Aegean folk such as the Philistines and Tsekel.

At Dor, one of Wenamon's own crew robbed him of the gold and silver he needed for defraying the costs of the expedition. Wenamon complained to the local ruler, but the complaint fell on deaf ears because, as the ruler retorted: "The thief who robbed you is yours; he belongs to your ship!" Yet, the ruler offered to try to locate the thief.

Wenamon proceeded to Tyre. En route he managed to lay his hands on some silver through skulduggery that was later to plague him. Next, he reached Byblos where the ruler rudely told him by messenger, "Get out of my port!" every day for twenty-nine days. For consolation, Wenamon had little except his

1 See Joshua 17; 11-22and Judges 1: 27.

{p. 121} statue of "Amon of the Road" that he carried with him for protection. The deadlock was broken when one day, while the Prince of Byblos was sacrificing to his gods, a priest of his was seized by a fit of ecstasy. The hieroglyph referring to the priest depicts a man quivering all over. Such fits are familiar to us from the ecstatic prophets of ancient Israel; e.g., those among whom Saul "prophesied." The Byblian ecstatic was inspired to declare this oracle to his prince:

Bring the g[o]d up!
Fetch the envoy in charge thereof!
It is Amon who has sent him.
It is he who has called him to come!

Note that the oracle consists of two verses, each with two parallel hemistichs. Poetry is also the regular medium for oracles in Hebrew, Greek and other ancient Near East literatures.1

Meanwhile, poor Wenamon had found another boat bound for Egypt and was ready to board it with "Amon of the Road," and give up his mission as futile. But then the harbour master came requesting him to stay till the morrow on orders of the Prince. Wenamon replied: "Aren't you the one who keeps coming to me every day and says: 'Get out of my port!' And now aren't you saying 'Stay this ni[gh]t' in order to let the ship I've found depart so that you can come once more and tell me 'Get out'." But the Prince was firm and commanded all concerned to see to it that Wenamon remained.

On the morrow, the Prince sent someone to conduct Wenamon up from the shore to the palace. One of the finest examples of the terse Egyptian way of indicating atmosphere is the following description of the prince sitting in his chamber with his back

1 This goes hand in hand with the belief that poets were divinely inspired (e.g., "by the Muse or Apollo" to give a Homeric formulation).

{p. 122} to a picture-window overlooking the sea. In Wenamon's words: "I found him sitting in his upper chamber, his back turned to a window, with the waves of the great Syrian Sea rolling up to his neck." The Egyptian artists may not have applied the principles of perspective, but the Wenamon text shows a full appreciation of perspective in the world as we see it.

There follows a dialogue between the Prince and Wenamon, in which the Prince asks a number of embarrassing questions. For instance, when Wenamon is asked for his credentials, it turns out that he left them with the authorities in the Delta. When the Prince inquires: "On what kind of mission have you come?" Wenamon answers: "I have come in quest of the wood destined for the great and splendid ship of Amon-Re, King of the Gods. Your father supplied it; your father's father supplied it; and you'll do it too." To this the Prince replied: "Sure, they supplied it! And if you give me the (pay) for doing it, I'll supply it. Of course, my forebears carried out the mission, but the Pharaoh had sent six ships laden with the wares of Egypt, which were unloaded in their warehouses. But what do you bring me?"

The Prince of Byblos makes it perfectly clear that he is not subordinate to any Egyptian master, although he expresses respect for the culture of Egypt and reverence for Amon. Wenamon took up the religious aspect of his case, instead of dwelling on the financial (which was all too weak at that point), stressing that the earlier Pharaohs had paid only worldly goods, whereas if the Prince respects the god's need for the lumber, he will give the Prince something much better: life and health. Yet, Wenamon was realistic enough also to dispatch a request to Egypt for gold, silver and other valuables to serve as payment. The Prince's messenger carried the request to Smendes and his wife, Tentamon - the rulers in the Delta - and came back to Byblos in the spring with the requested payment. The Prince was satisfied and sent a crew into the forest to fell the timber. Then he told Wenamon

{p. 123} to take the timber and depart with a warning not to delay because of any fear of the sea. He added that some Egyptian emissaries once tarried seventeen years in Byblos until indeed they died there. Then with sardonic humour, he offered to have their grave shown to Wenamon who, however, begged to be excused.

Wenamon's concern was now how to get the timber to Egypt. Apparently what he feared was not so much storms at sea, but piracy. He tried to persuade the Prince to provide a fleet to get him and his cargo safely to Egypt, which Amon would requite by adding fifty years to the Prince's destined lifespan. Wenamon was certainly resourceful with his tongue.

An ominous sight confronted him in the harbour. Eleven vessels were there, belonging to hostile Tsekel, apparently those from whom Wenamon had seized silver to replace what Wenamon's own crewman had stolen at Dor. The Tsekel were demanding his arrest. In anguish, Wenamon sat and wept. The Prince's secretary asked what ailed him, and Wenamon replied: "Don't you see the migratory birds that, for the second time, are going down to Egypt? See them going towards the marshes. But how long am I to stay, abandoned here? For can't you see those people who are coming back to arrest me?"

It was sad enough for any Egyptian to be away from home for the second year and, to make matters worse, he was faced with personal arrest and failure of his mission at the moment when success had seemed imminent. News of Wenamon's plight brought tears to the eyes of the Prince who, to console Wenamon, dispatched to him wine, a sheep, and an Egyptian singing girl with these instructions: "Sing for him. Don't let his heart take on cares."

The mention of the Egyptian singing girl in Byblos is an

1 That a god can add an extra period to a ruler's destined lifespan, appears also in 2 Kings 20:6, where God extends Hezekiah's fated lifespan by fifteen years.

{p. 124} important reminder to us that professional entertainers carried words and music from land to land in the area under investigation. The wandering minstrel is familiar to us from Homer. There, however, we get the impression (although the text doesn't explicitly say so) that the minstrel and his audience are always Greek. The Wenamon text, however, plainly states that the Phoenician Prince had the Egyptian artiste among his retinue.1

The next morning the Prince went with his guard to the Tsekel to inquire about their intentions. They plainly declared that they had a score to settle with Wenamon. The Prince refused to arrest the envoy of Amon, but he reminded the Tsekel that what they did on the high seas was their own business. With that, the Prince sent Wenamon off to sea. The wind blew his ships ashore on Cyprus, where the people wanted to kill him. But he appealed to the Princess of the City, first hailing her and asking her entourage: "Isn't there any among you who understands Egyptian?" One of them answered: "I understand it." Then Wenamon declared that Cyprus was famed the world over for its justice. He states his case against the hostile Cypriotes, and the Princess begins to give him a kindly answer, when the extant part of our manuscript ends abruptly.

We have noted that Middle Egyptian literature included (1) the theme of the wandering hero (Sinuhe) who at last comes home; and (2) the theme of the Shipwrecked Sailor who returns home after an amazing adventure on a magic isle in the Red Sea. In Wenamon, the two themes are fused with a shift of scene to the East Mediterranean. These Egyptian literary developments unmistakably foreshadow the Odyssey. The entertaining nature of the Odyssey is the culmination of a trend that we can so far trace only in Egypt: written literature for pleasure's sake.

1 To cite another example of importing foreign singers: Sennacherib tells us in his Annals that Hezekiah sent him male and female singers as gifts from Jerusalem to Nineveh.

{p. 125} Wenamon and Odysseus are men on a mission, beset with frustrating obstacles, sailing the East Mediterranean, yearning for their native soil year after year. The happy ending of Wenamon must be the nostos, just as with Sinuhe, the Shipwrecked Sailor and Odysseus. In scope, form and artistry, Wenamon and the Odyssey are, of course, poles apart; the one is in the pithy, prose tradition of Egyptian stories; the other is a long epic in hexameters. The one remains a minor composition; the other a masterpiece of world literature. But unfavourable comparisons serve no useful purpose. We should not lose sight of the fact that however humble, the Misadventures of Wenamon paved the way for Homer's Odyssey.

Among the remaining literary compositions of Egypt, we single out a twelfth-century manuscript that tells of the Contendings of Horus and Seth, for inheriting the divine kingship of Osiris. The story is quite vulgar and depicts the pantheon as behaving in a way that the modern man cannot square with divinity. But the modern student must not make the mistake of thinking that the ancient easterner had any difficulty in reconciling the notion of divinity with carryings on that included chicanery, bribery, indecent exposure for a laugh, and homosexual buffoonery. Crude foibles are attributed to the gods, not only in Egyptian, Babylonian, Ugaritic and Hittite texts, but even in Homeric epic.

Horus, the son of Osiris, is equated with the forces of good; Seth, brother of Osiris, is equated with the forces of evil. After all manner of contests, ordeals and legal bickering, Horus wins out to succeed Osiris in divine kingship. (Every historic Pharaoh claimed to be Horus incarnate.1)

Some of the notions incorporated within the text are of interest. When letters are exchanged among the gods, Thoth is

1 Except for a brief interlude during the Second Dynasty when the Pharaoh was identified with Seth.

{p. 126} regularly the scribe. Indeed, far from being ominiscient, the gods are as ignorant as mortals and are constantly being duped because of their ignorance. Moreover, the gods are illiterate except for the divine scribes, of whom we know only Thoth by name.

To get Seth to admit that Horus should inherit the office of his father, Isis appears as a pretty young woman to Seth, who becomes enamoured of her. She fabricates the story that her husband, a shepherd, had died and now a stranger wanted to defraud their son of the flocks. Seth replied: "Shall the flocks be given to the stranger, while the son of the father of the family is on hand?" Thereupon Isis transformed herself into a bird, flew up and perched herself on a tree and said to him: "Weep for yourself It is your own mouth that has said it; your own authority that has judged you. What more do you want?" Thus Seth was tricked into defending the claim of his opponent Horus, the son of Osiris. This device of inventing a case to get a person to condemn himself is familiar from 2 Samuel 12: 7, where the Prophet Nathan puts David in a position where he can tell him: "Thou art the man" worthy of the death penalty that David had decreed for Nathan's fictitious character.

One of the odd incidents in the story is the offence that Isis gives to her son Horus, so that he cuts off her head and turns her into a headless flint statue. Scholars suspect that the incident is etiological - explaining a natural rock formation that resembled a headless woman. In any event, we are to compare the punishment of Lot's wife and perhaps Niobe: who were turned into mineral effigies.

The main theme of the Contendings of Horus and Seth (i.e., divine kingship) is a central motif in much early religious literature: the Enuma Elish of Babylonia, the Baal and Anath Cycle of Ugarit, the Hittite Kingship in Heaven myth and Hesiod's Theogony. Most important of all, of course, are the enthronement Psalms (e.g., 24: 7-1O) of the Old Testament referring to

{p. 127} God's kingship. So basic was this theme that strict monotheism had to yield; for without other gods, Yahweh could not be king of the gods. Whence expressions like "Who is like thee among the gods, O Yahweh? (Exodus 15: 11).

The international character of East Mediterranean culture is reflected by the intrusion of Canaanite gods into the Egyptian pantheon during the Empire Period. Astarte and Anath appear in the Contendings of Horus and Seth. Astarte and the Canaanite sea-god Yamm are the main figures in another Late Egyptian text, probably dating from the early part of the 19th Dvnasty during the last years of the 14th century.

Contacts between Egypt and the rest of the East Mediterranean were so numerous and strong that the literary influence of the time-honoured Egyptian culture must have been powerful on the other ethnic groups in the area. Hebrew narrative prose style is heavily indebted to the Egyptian. In subject matter, we have noted tie-ins between Egypt, on the one hand, and Israel and Greece, on the other. The reason that the full contribution of Egypt to East Mediterranean literature is not yet realised, is the scholarly attitude. Once the nature of the problem is more widely appreciated, the rate of progress in evaluating Egypt's role will be stepped up.

{p. 132} For twenty years after the first discovery of the Ugaritic tablets, a vast number of biblical parallels were pointed out by many scholars in many lands. In comparison, the Greek parallels went virtually unnoticed. Meanwhile, I had been noting literary resemblances between Ugaritic and Greek epic. In the briefest way, I mentioned the relevance of Ugarit for the study of Homer, in a publication of 194I. World War 1l interrupted my studies, but the break enabled me to return to theme in 1946 with a fresh outlook instead of depending on "authoritative" attitudes. In gathering the Homeric parallels to Ugaritic literature and collating them with the biblical parallels to Ugaritic literature, a striking fact impressed itself upon me: there was a notable overlap that could not be accidental. The two-way parallels unmistakably linked Homer and the Bible. The most important of these parallels had to do with the central theme of the Kret Epic. King Kret (named after the eponymous ancestor of the Cretans) had lost Hurrai, his only wife destined to bear him the children who would carry on his line. Accordingly, he mustered an army and marched to the land where she was being held, and recovered her so that the divine promise of predestined progeny could be fulfilled.

This theme is completely lacking in the older literatures of the ancient East, including the Gilgamesh Epic and the Middle Egyptian Romances. On the other hand, the Helen of Troy motif is central in Indo-European epic, both in Greece and India {the Ramayana}. I refer to the hero who must recover his destined wife from her abductors. The divine promise of progeny through the destined wife is central in early Hebrew literature from Abraham and Sarah on, though this too is alien to the older Near Eastern literatures, such as the Gilgamesh Epic or the Egyptian stories. Moreover, the biblical narratives themselves assumed a new aspect because of the Ugaritic parallels. The destined bride of

{p. 133} Abraham was twice wrested from him, once by the King of Egypt and once by the King of Philistine Gerar. (The latter king, or one of his subjects, also came close to wresting Rebecca from Isaac.) But the hero Abraham retrieved the destined mother of his royal line, both times. In other words, the Helen of Troy motif permeates the Patriarchal Narratives of Genesis, but no one noticed it because ingrained attitudes kept our Greek and Hebrew heritages in water-tight compartments. Ugarit, being new and not part of our traditional heritage, was able to bridge the gap between Homer and the Bible. We shall note more of these triple parallels (Ugaritic, Hebraic and Greek) in this and the following chapters.

I pointed out a group of Ugaritic and other Near East parallels to Greek epic in the American Journal of Archaeology 56, 1952, pp. 93-94. It had an immediate effect among classicists, one of whom wrote an article accepting twelve of my fifteen parallels. I continued my investigations and published a number of articles, culminating in a detailed, but over-compact monograph called Homer and Bible. Its results, including my thesis that the Kret Epic is an "Ur-Ilias" (as regards the Helen of Troy theme) in Semitic dress, were incorporated by T. B. L. Webster in his important book From Mycenae to Homer, London, 1958. Meanwhile, the Nestor of biblical scholars, Professor Otto Eissfeldt, in a review article of my Introduction to Old Testantent Times, indicated his deep understanding of the subject and its significance for classical and biblical studies. As we have already observed, the whole subject of early Greco-Hebrew relations is touchy.

{p. 139} The Minoan tradition of city planning did not reckon with city walls. Knossos, Phaistos, Mallia and the other Minoan towns are unwalled. Now it might be argued that islanders relied on the sea for protection, but I think this approach is unrealistic. Crete itself was fragmentised into various political entities that might be mutually hostile in various sectors at various times. Without concerning ourselves with origins, we know that Minoan cities were unwalled. It is human to persist in tradition long after the tradition has become obsolete. For example, Spartan institutions were close to those of Crete, and nowhere is this more striking than in the absence of a wall around Sparta. The Greek mainland consisted of city states hostile to, and often warring with each other. Yet Sparta continued to go on without a wall. Scholars have generally concluded that the absence of walls around the Minoan cities indicates a peaceful way of life. I question this. The Spartans were so warlike that they counted on their men to defend the city; their soldiers were their "wall."

{p. 145} The birth of seven sons to a hero is a recurring theme. ...

The fact that the crown prince, Yassib, is to be suckled by the

{p. 146} goddesses, fits in with the widespread doctrine of divinely nurtured kings.

{p. 150} The sacrifice is the same as a feast. In fact, all meals where a beast was slaughtered for food were both feasts and sacrifices simultaneously. Gods and mortals each received their share of the common feast.

{p. 157} In other words, Baal gets the gods to intercede with El (the head of the pantheon) on Daniel's behalf. "Bull" is the epithet of El even as Yahweh has animal epithets, including *'a-bir of Jacob (Genesis 49: 24; Isaiah 49: 26; 60: 16; Psalm 132: 2, 5) or of Israel (Isaiah 1: 24). God was worshipped as the golden calf in the wilderness, and we further compare the cultic bull calves at the Yahwistic shrines at Bethel and Dan. ...

There was no temperance movement in the heroic age. Canaanite heroes ate and drank copiously, even as their Homeric (or later Viking) counterparts.

{p. 174} Section # 1O opens at the seashore where two women are to be created over a fire. El is the aged god, and it is a question whether he will remain impotent, so that the women will function as his daughters and remain childless; or whether he will rise to virility for the occasion so that the women may serve as his wives and bear offspring. The myth and the drama whereby it was reenacted, are full of suspense; for El's impotence would mean the onslaught of lean years, whereas his virility would herald the inauguration of a cycle of plentiful years.

El fashions the two women and puts them in his house. His staff (symbolising his penis) is lowered, but he shoots heavenward, bagging a bird, which is plucked, cleaned and roasted over the fire. His prowess with the bow inspires hope for his virility. He then tries to copulate with the two women, whereupon the text brings us to a crisis of suspense, for

{p. 175} If the women cry 'O husband, husband!
Your rod is lowered
The staff of your hand has fallen'
While the bird roasts over the fire
Yea broils over the coals,
Then the women are the wives of El
The wives of El and his forever.
But if the women cry 'O father, father!
Your rod is lowered
The staff of your hand has fallen'
While the bird roasts over the fire
Yea broils over the coals,
The girls are the daughters of El
The daughters of El and his forever.

Marriage and adoption could be on more, or on less, permanent bases. A marriage contract could permit a short-term union, or call for a permanent and indissoluble marriage. The same variation could hold for daughtership (called martutu in Babylonian), a legal state into which a girl could be adopted. The permanence of whatever relationship emerges between El and the two women is in keeping with the seriousness of the drama; on it depends the long-range fertility of the land. What the women say will determine the future, whether for good or for evil. To the relief and joy of the populace, the women exclaim:

'O husband, husband!
Your rod is lowered
The staff of your hand is fallen'
While the bird roasts over the fire
Yea broils over the coals.

{p. 176} So the two women are the wives of El
El's wives and his forever.

This guarantees a favourable outcome, but not without further suspense, for, as we shall now note, the first children to be born of the union are not the Heptad but a pair of celestial deities:

He bends, their lips he kisses
Lo their lips are sweet, sweet as pomegranates.
From kissing, there is conception
From embracing, impregnation.
They go into labour and bear Dawn and Dusk.

Whatever importance Dawn and Dusk may have in the fertility cult, they are not the primary gods of fertility whose functioning is the goal of the text. The birth of children was announced by messenger to the fathers who left obstetrics in the feminine hands of the midwives and parturient women.

Word was brought to El
'El's wives have borne.'

But El knows the results without having to be told the details, for he first asks and then answers his own rhetorical question: What have they borne? My children, Dawn and Dusk.

Thereafter, he joins his wives in conjugal love again. Then he returns to his own abode till the women go into labour and bear

{p. 177} him another brood. Word is brought to him and this time the babes are the Good and Gracious Gods of fertility who suckle the Lady's breasts, thereby imbibing the nourishment that provides them with the power for their important role.

{p. 195} The construction of Baal's mythical house is a forerunner of the erection of Yahweh's historical First Temple in Jerusalem. The two accounts are organically related because of common background and attitudes. In both cases the god's interests had grown to a point where he could not condignly go on any more without a house. The Bible tells that it was no longer fitting that Israel's king should dwell in a cedar palace while God still lived in a tent (The Tabernacle). Times had changed; Israel had arrived; with the added stature of Israel among the nations, the cultic requirements for Israel's God rose. We have seen how Baal's rise to kingship required the building of a palace for him. The biblical and Ugaritic accounts of the building materials (cedars of Lebanon covered with metal) link the mythical house of Baal and the historic house of Yahweh.

{p. 206} The Minoan Tablets from Crete

From about 2000 B.C. the Aegean had a script of its own, inspired by the Mesopotamian and Egyptian systems of writing familiar in the East Mediterranean since fairly early in the third millennium. The process whereby those ancient systems evoked the invention of the Cretan Hieroglyphs, is "stimulus diffusion," not outright borrowing. The Minoans got the idea of writing from their predecessors; they did not slavishly copy the Mesopotamian or Egyptian system. In fact, Minoan writing marks a great step forward by way of simplification. The older scripts were highly complex with signs corresponding to all kinds of syllables: closed syllables and even polysyllabic words. The Minoan system has only open syllables. It marks the transition from the older cumbersome systems to the alphabet.

To be sure, the Minoan system did not sweep away all the clutter of its antecedents. Like the earlier scripts, it continued to use logograms (word-signs) for numerals and various commodities. Sometimes it combines a pictograph of an object with the word for the object spelled out syllabically. This results in a quasi-bilingual which provided a check on the decipherment of Linear B and the starting point for the decipherment of the tablets from HT (Hagia Triada), near the south shore of central Crete.

There is a continuity of Minoan writing, starting with the

{p. 207} Cretan Hieroglyphs, continuing through the various forms of socalled Linear A and Linear B, and the Cypro-Minoan, down to the Cypriote texts that continue until late in the third century B.C.

{p. 265} There were many conventions for warfare, practised throughout a wide area. It was conventional to stop hostilities at nightfall. Heralds acting as referees thus call off the fight between Hector and Ajax because nightfall is the sign to end hostilities and it is good for us to obey Night (Iliad 7: 282, 293). Cf 2 Samuel 2: 24-26 for calling off the battle after sunset.

The repertoire also includes the cessation of hostilities because a goddess tells one or more of the combatants that the continuation of the fight will enrage the head of the pantheon. In Odyssey 24: 54I-544, Athene tells Odysseus to stop fighting the Ithacans lest Zeus be angry at him. In Ugaritic mythology, the sun-goddess Shapsh orders Mot to stop fighting with Baal, lest El find out and strip Mot of his authority (49: VI: 22-29).

The brutality of war is universal, but the details of how the brutality is executed and recorded for posterity, differ from culture to culture. Moreover, certain types of brutality are considered right in certain societies. Iliad 6: 55-60 states that Agamemnon "rightly advised" (: 62) Menelaus to slay the captive Adrastus (instead of holding him for ransom) and not spare any Trojan male foetus in the womb. Such ruthless destruction in warfare is more or less the same as the "ban" or "devotion" (called herem in Hebrew) of conquered communities such as Jericho and Ai in the Book of Joshua. The obligatory slaying of captured enemy heroes is found, for example, in I Samuel 15: 18-33 ...

{p. 278} The older cultures did not develop the concept of canonical writings. There is no Bible in Egypt or Mesopotamia. Neither country had a collection of sacred writings that excluded other writings from comparable status. Unlike any canonical book of the Bible, there was never an official "Book of the Dead" in Egypt. Any Egyptian who ordered and could afford to purchase a "Book of the Dead" might have one made for him, and the various exemplars of the Book of the Dead diverge widely from

{p. 279} each other. So much so that we should not speak of The Book of the Dead, because there is no one copy that an Egyptian would have recognised as The (one and only) Book.

Only two people in East Mediterranean antiquity developed "canonical"1 Scripture: the Greeks and the Jews. The Greeks treated Homer as their Scripture par excellence, much as the Jews regarded the Bible. The establishment of the Textus Receptus of Hebraic Scripture and Homeric Epic were parallel manifestations of the same movement. Hebrew and pagan Greek scriptures were each considered the divinely inspired guide for life. Just as the Jew and Christian turn for guidance to the Bible, the ancient Greek turned to the Homeric text.

The analogy between the Greeks and Hebrews goes much further. Minos has rightly been compared with Moses. Both are greater-than-life-size figures who received the law from the supreme god on a sacred mountain (see Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 2: 61 concerning Minos). The law is the constitution of the world and society. So far the same general notion can be traced back to Mesopotamia, for on the stela of Hammurapi's Code, the god Shamash, enthroned on a mountain, reveals to Hammurapi the immutable law that must forever govern society. However, in some respects, Moses and Minos have analogues not shared with Hammurapi. The most notable is that Moses and Minos is each seconded by a master craftsman; Moses has his Bezalel, and Minos his Daedalus. As far as we can tell, this is an East Mediterranean feature. The East Mediterranean framework of the World of the Hebrews is a foregone conclusion for plain geographical reasons, but it is nonetheless interesting to see the Hebraic expression of

1 Strictly speaking, "canonical" is not quite exact for the Greeks; and anachronistic even for the Jews, who did not establish their Canon until around A.D. 1OO. But in retrospect, we see that both peoples shared parallel tendencies towards canonisation of Scripture.

{p. 281} the fact. In Genesis 10, where the people of the known world are arranged according to ethnic affinities, the very first group is the Japhethite, including the Aegean peoples such as the Ionian Greeks and their offshoots, such as the Cypriotes (v. 4). The linguistic diversity of the area is reminiscent of the Homeric description of the Trojan allies: "From these (i.e., the Ionian offshoots) were separated the islands of the nations in their lands - each according to its own language - according to their clans among their nations"(v. 5).

Sea-mindedness is built into the idioms of early Hebrew as well as Greek literatures. A great host can be compared with sand in Greek epic (Iliad 2: 800), even as Israel's progeny will be innumerable as the "sand of the sea" (Genesis 32: 12; cf.Judges 7: 12). A landlocked people would not use this and many other expressions showing familiarity with the sea.

Books and groupings of books in the Bible - and ultimately the Bible as a whole - should be understood in toto as well as in their component parts. The Pentateuch, with all its diversity, was considered an integral whole by Jews and Samaritans alike. If broken down into its component parts typologically, it appears to be a patch-quilt of badly stitched sources. For the Pentateuch tells about the cosmos, social institutions, litigation, war, agriculture, grazing, royalty, sacrifice, etc., It is interesting to note that these topics are all worked into the composition of the Shield of Achilles. The description of the Shield opens with the portrayal of earth, sea and heaven (Iliad 18: 483-489) and closes with the portrayal of the cosmic river Oceanus (: 607-608). Note also the portrayal of social institutions, litigation, war, agriculture, grazing, royalty, etc. (: 490 ff.). Even sacrifice comes into the picture (: 558-560). The Torah, being the guide for life, had to cover the various aspects of life as the ancient Hebrew conceived it. The Shield shows us that such diverse themes as cosmology, law,

{p. 282} sacrifice, etc., were "part of the same picture" according to ancient East Mediterranean Weltanschauung. We must, therefore, keep our eye on the totality of the Pentateuch, as well as on the, sum of its parts.

If we examine the sequence of the Hebrew books from Genesis through Kings, we find that they cannot be a group of books simply thrown together in chronological order, for they are not merely in chronological order. They fit together tightly. Where the Pentateuch leaves off, Joshua begins; where Joshua ends, Judges continues; and so with the books of Samuel and Kings. If we then examine the separate books, we find that they have earlier sources imbedded in them. Some of these sources were definitely in written form when they were excerpted by the biblical authors. "The Book of the Story of Man" (Genesis 5: 1ff.) can only be a pre-biblical written source because sefer "book" designates only an inscribed text; the same holds for the Book of the Wars of Yahweh (Numbers 21: 14). Some of the other named sources of the Pentateuch may also have been written even though they are not called sefer "a book"; e.g., "This is the Story of Heaven and Earth" (Genesis 2: 4), "This is the Story of Noah" (Genesis 6: 9), "This is the Story of the Sons of Noah" (Genesis 1O: 1), etc.

The high literacy of Canaan during the Amarna/Myccnaean Age is attested by the Ugaritic tablcts. The aristocratic, mercantile and off1cial character of the Patriarchs goes hand in hand with the literacy of the Age. Ugarit has yielded documents regulating the activities of the merchants of Ur(a). Ugarit has also yielded the Epic of Kret dealing with the promised line of King Kret. It would, therefore, be in keeping with Canaanite culture if the Patriarchal Narratives (qua Epic of Kings) was written during Mycenean times, before the Judges came along. Indeed for the Period of the Judges (ca. 11OO B.C.) one passage suggests a degree of popular literacy: "And (Gideon) captured a lad of the men of

{p. 283} Succoth, and interrogated him; and he inscribed for him (the names of) the princes of Succoth and its elders: seventy-seven men" (Judges 8: 14). Unless the word na'ar "lad" has some special meaning like "scribe" or "official," the passage conveys the impression that it was nothing unusual for a youth found at random in a Canaanite town to be literate.

That certain parts of our Bible circulated in oral form before they were committed to writing is not only possible but likely. However, the high literacy of the age points to a maximum of written sources lying behind Scripture.

{This is a reason why later scribes were easily able to alter the text, whereas the Rig Veda, being transmitted orally, was preserved intact: rig-veda.html}

The Book of Judges illustrates well what classical scholars called the work of the rhapsodes, "stitchers of songs." Judges is for the most part a number of different cycles about various Judges of different tribes "stitched together." Some cycles (like Samson's) are told in some detail. One (Deborah's) is given in two versions: prose (Chapter 4) and poetic (Chapter 5). Some are reduced to a tantalising minimum. Judges 5: 6 conveys the impression that Shamgar was so famous a figure that events in his day could be dated by being referred to him. And yet all we know of him is stated in one verse (Judges 3: 31): "And after him (Ehud), there was Shamgar son of Anath; he smote six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and also he saved Israel." It would be a gross mistake to conclude that the Book of Judges is only the sum of what an editor excerpted. The Book as a whole gives a coherent picture of an era and propounds the thesis that the institutions of pre-monarchic Israel were so chaotic (Judges 17: 6; 18: 1; 19: 1; 21: 25) - as the narratives in Chapters 17 bring out - that centralised, hereditary kingship was necessary.

It is clear that some of the carly sources were comprehensive writings excerpted more than once by the biblical author. For example, the Book of Jashar is excerpted twice: first, in Joshua 1O: 13; then, in 2 Samuel 1: 18. But the incorporation of such earlier sources does not mean that the Pentateuch or Former

{p. 284} Prophets is the work of an editor who pasted together various documents. Once we view the work as a whole, we see that it is a fresh creation though not a creatio ex nihilo. The same holds for Homeric Epic that has been subjected to the same kinds of modern literary criticism.

We keep coming back to the principle of taking ancient writings on their own terms. Heroic epic and saga (Indic as well as Greek and Hebrew, etc.) combine action with genealogy. This is necessary because the action is performed by aristocrats who require genealogies. In biblical criticism, the old genealogies are usually detached and attributed to P of the 5th century, B.C. That they should not be detached from the narrative is indicated by Homeric epic, where the two are combined so artistically that no one should ever think of rending them asunder; especially since it would mean breaking the lines and destroying the meter.

{But see Richard Elliott Friedman, WHO WROTE THE BIBLE?: bible.html}

The most important document found at Ugarit for both Biblical and Homeric studies is the Epic of Kret. It anticipates the Helen-of-Troy motif in the Iliad and Genesis, thus bridging the gap between the two literatures. 1 Kings 17: 3 tells us that the Wady of Krit (which was probably named after the hero of the Kret text) was opposite the Jordan. We should note that in the Hebrew Bible "jordan" (Heb. yarden, Septuagint iordanes) is not a proper name but a common noun, because the River is called "The Jordan" or "This Jordan" or "the Jordan of Jericho" but never "Jordan"1 by itself in the manner of true proper names. That "jordan" is a noun meaning "river" is indicated by Mandaic, in which any river is a "jordan." The term is familiar in the ancient Aegean area; note, for example, "Crete where the Kydonians

1 In the two passages where the article is omitted (Psalm 42: 7; Job 40: 23), "Jordan" is not the specific river but harks back to the personified River God.

{p. 285} dwelt about the streams of Iardanus" (Odyssey 3: 291-2).1 In fact iardan seems to be an East Mediterranean word for "river." Aegean influence in Palestine probably accounts for the names of the Wady of Krit and of the Jordan, where the Philistines exercised control down to David's reign, for Beth-Shan overlooking the Jordan was a Philistine stronghold until after Saul's death.

The prevalence of royal epic (the Kret and Aqhat texts) in Canaan has shown us that the Patriarchal Narratives are (among other things!) royal epic. Like Kret, the Patriarchs are plainly described as the founders of a line of kings in Genesis 17: 6 and 35: 11. The Septuagint translators of Genesis 23: 6 knew enough Homer to realise that Abraham could properly be called "king" in the Mycenaean sense of an aristocratic warrior in command of a contingent of troops. A coalition of such "kings" wages war against another coalition of kings in Genesis 14, even as the Achaean and Trojan coalitions of kings wage war in the Iliad albeit on a grander scale.

Once we recognise the factor of royal epic in Genesis, we see that the Helen-of-Troy motif permeates the Patriarchal Narratives. We do not refer only to the abductions that wrested Sarah and nearly wrested Rebecca from their aristocratic husbands. The abduction and seduction of Dinah is a related theme in the Narratives, involving also a menis of her brothers Simeon and Levi that results in bloody vengeance. Neither Sarah nor Dinah is ever condemned. Like Helen and Hurrai, Sarah and Dinah are heroines according to the standards of royal epic. Like Helen, Sarah is wondrously fiir and ageless. Twenty years after Helen left her husband and child, she still retained the charms of youth. Sarah outdid her; for even after Sarah had passed her ninetieth birthday (Genesis 17: 17), kings could not resist her beauty (Genesis 20: 2 ff.).

1 For streams of Iardanus also in Elis, see Iliad 7: 135.

{p. 286} ... The Mycenaean kingship depicted in Homer is the best possible collateral information for understanding early Hebrew kingship, which is not yet recognised as kingship even though Midrashic literature not only understood it but called it by its right name.

As in all comparative studies, we must beware of equating parallel and related structures. Greeks were not Hebrews, however close their interrelations were during the Mycenaean Age. One difference is the commercial interests of the Patriarchs vis-a-vis the total disregard for commerce among the Mycenaean heroes. Unlike the Homeric sackers of cities, who thrived on plunder, Abraham refuses any personal share of the plunder acquired by his coalition after its victory over the four invading kings in Genesis 14: 22-23. Abraham is repeatedly describcd as wealthy in gold and silver as well as in livestock and slaves. In Genesis 23: 16, his commercial interests are hinted at by the phrase "current for the merchant" describing the four hundred shekels of silver that he paid out. The commercial pursuits of the Patriarchs are explicitly mentiolled in two different contexts confirming their commercial activities: once when the Shechemites invite Jacob's family to join the Shechecm community (Genesis 34: 10); the other when Joseph provisionally welcomes his brothes to settle in Egypt (Genesis 42: 34). On both occasions, trading privileges are offered. Abraham could afford to turn down a personal share in the plunder because he had a peaceful and adequate source of income; viz., legitimate trade: an occupation that his descendants continued for at least three

{p. 287} generations according to the text of Genesis. ...

Ur of the Chaldees, and Haran, were centres of the lunar Sinand-Nikkal cult like the mother city of Sumerian Ur. Nikkal (the moon goddess) came to be worshippcd throughout Canaan

{p. 288} and even penetrated Egypt. The movement that brought Abraham into Canaan explains why only Nikkal of the whole Mesopotamian pantheon, was widely worshipped in Canaan. (There was no need for the moon god "Sin," because the Canaanites were already worshipping the moon under his Canaanite name "Yarih"; since he had no consort before the Mesopotamian impact, Nikkal came in under her Mesopotamian name.)

{p. 289} One of the chief themes in the Patriarchal Narratives is the preoccupation with leadership. A great issue is made over Abraham's heir. The text dramatises not only the birth of Isaac but also his triumph over Ishmael's rivalry. The same, mutatis mutandis, may be said of Jacob's triumph over Esau. This pervasive theme goes hand in hand with the fact that the text is royal epic, establishing the line founded by the first basileus of the Jews, Abraham. The royal prerogatives of the line are substantiated in the text not only by birth, but by blessings, birthright and possession of the household gods.

{p. 290} One of the differences between the Homeric heroes and the Hebrew Patriarchs is their contrasting methods of getting land. The Greek heroes acquired land by conquest. The Patriarchal Narratives depict the Fathers as purchasing land in Canaan. Genesis 23 tells of Abraham buying land from the Hittites around Hebron; Genesis 33: 19 states that Jacob bought land around Shechem from the Sons of Hamor. ...

Scripture makes it clear that unlike the conceptions of Abraham and of Jacob, Isaac was conceived through divine agency. Like the Mycenaean Greek heroes, Isaac could claim paternity at two levels; the human and the divine. His human father, through whom he obtained his specific position in his people's history, was Abraham; but

{p. 291} his superhuman quality was derived from the deity that visited Sarah. This is of a piece with the dual paternity of Homeric heroes, who hold the office of their human fathers, but are supermen because of their divine fathers. Normative Judaism has divested itself of this ancient approach to the paternity of heroes, in spite of the tell-tale text in Genesis. Midrash does not hesitate to call Moses half-god and half-man, but it too fails to pick up the thread of the nativity of Isaac, probably because the puritanic trend set in early enough to nip the Isaac midrashim in the bud. It is in every way conceivable that some of the original Isaac Cycle survived to re-echo in Christianity. Jesus derives his human-office of Messianic King from Joseph, but his divine quality from his Divine Father. Moreover, the Church tradition that connects the sacrifice of Isaac with the sacrifice of Christ apparently rests on sound exegesis, for the sacrifice of Isaac would have meant not only the sacrifice of Abraham's son but of God's.

If we take the story of Israel as unfolded in Scripture, as a whole, there emerges the pattern of a national epic. The central event in the consciousness of Israel was the Exodus, rather than later developments such as the establishment of the Davidic Dynasty. The reason for this is evident and intelligible. The nationhood of Israel required the union of the various segments of the people, schematised as the Twelve Tribes. Accordingly, the Exodus Story is careful to make all of the tribes the equal recipients of God's salvation from Egypt to the Promised Land.

{p. 294} The capture ofJericho (and Ai) in some evident respects is the Hebrew reflex of what evoked the saga of the sack of Troy. The Greeks and Hebrews sacked many a city, but certain special cities assumed importance in the tradition. It is quite possible that behind theJoshua accounts of the capture of Jericho and Ai, lay one or possibly two epics that occupied a position in Israel comparable with the Greek epic cycle about Troy.

{p. 295} When Joshua needed more time for a victory, the heavenly bodies were immobilised to hold off the sunset until he might achieve victory. The incident is excerpted from the Book of Jashar - a pre-biblical national epic extending from at least the Conquest to the ascendancy of David. Battles ended with sunset or dusk; so heroes, on special occasions when they needed more time, were vouchsafed victory by the stoppage of the sun in Greek as well as Hebrew saga. Midrash also has it that God granted the prayer of Moses to hold back the sun until Israel destroyed the Amalekite foe.

The Hebrew institution of the ban (kerem), for all its ruthlossness, served practical purposes. It gave the foe good reason to surrender their city without a struggle, and it took the profit out of chaotic looting. The genocide aspect of the kerem is unfortunately paralleled in Homeric tradition, too.

The Hebrew heroes of the Conquest received inalienable land grants, in perpetuity, for their heirs, in exchange for which they owed continued military service to the nation. Leviticus 25 makes the theory of real-estate quite clear. God owned the Land and the People. The Hebrews (as slaves of God because of His taking them out of Egypt) were entrusted with His Land as His tenants. They were at the same time to be the landed warrior and administrative ruling class. All this is basically paralleled in Greece where the aristocracy had inalienable land and where the subjected natives were reduced to servitude.

The warrior class, who became the landed aristocracy, were called the gibbore-hayil; from them came the leadership of the nation. Aristocrats (among Hebrews and Greeks) often had harems that included women of common or even servile origin, as well as well-born aristocratic ladies. Normally, the successors would be chosen from the sons born by ladies; but on occasion those born by servile or common wives achieved the ascendancy.

{p. 297} The key to the institution of the Judges is Mycenaean kingship, whose heyday was precisely in the Period of the Judges (12th and 11th centuries) in the same East Mediterranean cultural continuum. ...

As in Mycenaean society, so too in the Period of the Judges, petty groups would form coalitions in times of general emergency. The leader with the largest following would be the president of the confederacy.

The comparative study of the Judges and Mycenaean kingship shows that the prevailing theory of "charismatic leadership" in ancient Israel is based on one factor but misses the other factor. The Judges are not inspired leaders raised from the masses, but rulers who normally emerged from the aristocracy. They may come from smaller tribes, and even from smaller clans within the tribes; they may be younger sons, or even sons of socially inferior mothers; but such details only make their tale more worthy of saga. They regularly are sired by gibbore-hayil, from whom they derive their membership in the ruling class.

{p. 300} EPILOGUE (9 MARCH 1962)

The evolution of this book has been dramatic from start to finish. While it was in galley proof, I first discovered that the Minoan language was specifically Northwest Semitic, of a type that the ancient Greeks would have called "Phoenician" (see the Postscript to Chapter VI). The correctness of this discovery might not have convinced Semitists, because the unfamiliarity of the Minoan syllabary would almost surely have failed to dispel their misgivings. But fortunately, while this book was going into page

{p. 301} proof, the unexpected happened. I re-examined the four "Eteocretan" texts from two Cretan sites. They are written in plain Greek letters and date from between 600 and 300 B.C. Scholars have agreed, since their first discovery in the 1880's, that they must be written in the pre-Greek speech of Crete. But the identity of that language remained a dark mystery until February 1962. Knowing at last the specific Semitic character of Linear A, I looked for Northwest Semitic words on the four Eteocretan stone inscriptions. All four turned out to be funerary, which is convenient because there are many Phoenician and other Northwest Semitic funerary texts for providing background material.

Scholars will find my first scientific reports on the Northwest Semitic decipherments of Linear A and Eteocretan in the July 1962 issue of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies ably edited by Professor Keith C. Seele. As a sample, and as a demonstration that the decipherment of Eteocretan is sound, I herewith offer the complete translation of a nine word phrase: meumarkrkoklesues to be divided into me u mar krk o kl es u es, in which any competent Semitist should be able to see "whoever he be, lord of a city or any man at all," referring to the passerby, be he lord or commoner.

No competent Semitist is likely to oppose the Northwest Semitic character of the Minoan language. The evidence, especially of Eteocretan, is too clear for that. There will probably be some difference of opinion as to whether "Phoenician" is the right label. I am using "Phoenician" in the broad sense that the Greeks used it. For reasons that I shall explain in a more technical study, I mean by "Phoenician" in this context all the Northwest Semitic dialects used along the Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian coastline, including biblical Hebrew.

As of now it appears that the common background of Greek and Hebrew civilisations is due mainly to the Northwest Semitic factor that covered the entire East Mediterranean (Palestine,

{p. 302} Syria, the coast of Asia Minor, Cyprus, Crete and the Aegean) down to 1500 B.C. For a clear statement of the essential unity and Phoenician character of the area, see Raymond Weill's important book, Phoenicia and Western Asia, Harrap, London, 1940, pp. 16-18.

Before the Bible was sent to press as a bold thesis (but whose truth I never doubted). It ends with the specific proof that establishes beyond cavil that Greek and Hebrew civilisations are parallel structures built upon the same East Mediterranean foundation. {end of quotes}

To the end of his life, Cyrus Gordon maintained, like Thor Heyerdahl, that the Phoenicians had sailed to the Americas. Being such an eminent scholar, he was a thorn in the side of the Dogmatic Sceptics. An interview with Cyrus Gordon, a few months before his death, (Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2000 Vol 26 No. 6): science.html.

(2) G. ELLIOT SMITH on the Phoenicians



{An elaboration of the lecture delivered in the John Rylands Library, on 10th March, 1915}

{The booklet in my possession has incomplete publication data; I give however the page numbers, and, below, a link to a bookshop which sells this booklet}

{p. 52} But there is positive evidence to prove that as early as 2800 B.C. maritime intercourse was definitely established along the coasts of the Eastern Mediterranean, bringing inlo contact the various peoples, at any rate those of Egypt and Syria, scattered along the littoral. Egyptian seamen were also trafficing along the shores of the Red Sea; and there are reasons for believing that in Protodynastic times such intercourse may have extended around the coast of Arabia, as far as the Sumerian settlement at the head of the Persian Gulf, thus bringing into contact the homes of the world's most ancient civilizations.

More daring seamen were venturing out into the open sea, and extending their voyages at least as far as Crete ... The Early Minoan Civilization ...were certainly inspired in large measure by ideas brought from Egypt.

{p. 53} In course of time, as the art of ship-building advanced and the mariners' skill and experience increased. no doubt more extensive and better-equipped enterprises were undertaken. ...

Such commercial intercourse cannot fail to have produced a slow diffusion of culture from one people to another, even if it was primarily of the nature of a mere exchange of commodities. But as the various civilizations gradually assumed their characteristic forms a certain conventionalism and a national pride grew up, which protected each of these more cultured communities from being so readily influenced by contact with aliens as it was in the days of its uncultured simplicity. Each tended to become more and more conscious of its national peculiarities, and immune against alien influences that threatened to break down the rigid walls of its proud conservatism.

It was not until the Minoan state had fallen and Egypt's dominion had begun to crumble that a people free from such prejudices began to adopt all that it wanted from these hide-bound civilizations. To its own esceptional aptitude for and experience in maritime exploits it added all the knowledge acquired by the Egyptians, Minoans, and the peoples of Levant. It thus took upon itself to become the great intermediary between the nations of antiquity; and in the course of its trafficking with them, it did not scruple to adopt their arts and crafts, their burial customs, and even their gods. In this way was inaugurated the first era of really great sea-voyages in the world's history. For the trafficking with these great proud empires proved so profitable that the enterprising intermediaries who assumed the control of it, not only of bartering their merchandlse one with the other, but also of supplying their wants from elsewhere, soon began to exploit the whole world for the things which the wealthy citizens of the imperial states desired.

There can be no doubt that it was the Phoenicians, lured forth into the unknown oceans in search of gold, who first broke through the bounds of the Ancient East and whose ships embarked upoo these ealiest maritime adventures on the grand scale.

{end quotes}

Thor Heyerdahl on the Phoenicians: before-columbus.html.

(3) Pre-Socratics reflect Persian, or more specifically, Magian influence

Date: Mon, 15 Sep 2003 20:17:12 -0400 From: David Livingstone <davidplivingstone@SYMPATICO.CA>

> If you look at the
> influence of India on English culture, then the influence of the east on
> Greece can be easily envisaged.

In fact, we wouldn't have to venture are far as Greece. Phoenician influence on Greece was persistent. It was such that, "In The East Face of Helicon", M.L. West, remarks that, "Near Eastern influence cannot be put down as a marginal phenomenon to be invoked occasionally in explanation of isolated peculiarities. It was pervasive at many levels and at most times."

What I point out in my book however, is that Greek philosophy grew up in an area of Greek settlement that at the time was under Persian occupation. So why do we call it Greek? Greek philosophy emerged from Ionia, which, from the beginning of the mid-sixth century BC, to the conquests of Alexander, was, for the most part, an area of Persian domination.

Not surprisingly, we find that consistently the thought of the pre-Socratics reflects Persian, or more specifically, Magian influence. Some scholars have tried in vain, I believe, to trace Zoroastrian influence among the Greeks. More properly, it is the influence of a heterodox version of the faith that we should be trying to trace.

Precisely, the reason for which this point has been missed is because of the persistent focus on the Greeks. This point has been recognized by ML West, who describes, in "Early Greek Philosophy and the Orient":

"It is understandable that it should be the most scholarly scholars, so to speak, who show the least interest in non-Greek material. They are used to operating with texts whose language and background they have learned to understand at the cost of much effort. In a foreign field they feel incompetent, and especially where fools have rushed in, they fear to tread. It is easiest to put up the barriers, and to persuade themselves that what they know and can manage is all they need to know and manage. Besides, scepticism is always respectable in a scholar; it is thought better to disbelieve something that may turn out to be true than to believe something that may turn out to be false."

While we persistently refer to the "Greek genius", we have failed to adequately represent the revolution that took place in Babylon in the sixth century BC, which made the city the world center for science, thus explaining its subsequent influence. Babylon was then also under occupation by the Persians, who at their height, controlled a massive territory, including the whole of the Middle East, Egypt, parts of India, Armenia, Afghanistan, Turkestan, Asia Minor and Thrace.

Ultimately, according to Strabo, "the Persians, of all the barbarians, became the most famous among the Greeks, because none of the other barbarians who ruled Asia ruled Greeks." He continues:

"The Persians were the first people to rule of over Greeks. The Persians, as soon as they broke up the power of the Medes, immediately mastered the Lydians and also got as their subjects the Greeks in Asia; and later they even crossed over into Greece; and, though often defeated in many battles, still they continued to hold Asia as far as the places on the sea until they were subdued by the Macedonians."

That area of scholarship which has been neglected by scholars has been defining the cult of the Magussaeans. This subject has been detailed in the definitive work on the subject, "Les Mages Hellenisees", by Franz Cumont, which, unfortunately, remains untranslated into English. Here Cumont indicates that the Magi known to the Greeks were not orthodox Zoroastrians, but had formed a heretical version of the faith, which had combined into it Chaldean astrology. Its main tenets included a divine trinity identified with the Sun, the Moon and Venus, dualism, pantheism, astrology, four elements and reincarnation.

It is various combinations of these ideas that we find among the pre-Socratics. Momigliano cautions that, "there is one simple consideration which makes me hesitate in this game of searching for the Zoroastrian origins of Greek thought. If we do not know much about the Pre-Socratics we know at least that their ancient readers found each of them very different from the others. It they had all been inspired by the Magi, there would be less variety of problems and solutions."

However, Diodorus of Sicily, writing in the first century BC, explained that the reason for the divergence in ideas between the Chaldeans and the Greeks, is due to the particular manner in which the Greeks borrowed their learning. He maintained that, among the Chaldeans, there was greater cause for them to remain faithful to the original doctrines, because the study of astrology, divination and magic, what he terms "scientific" subjects, are taught to them from childhood, and, being the pupils of their parents, are more prone to trust their teachers. As well, the Chaldeans, relieved of all other service to the state, are not distracted in seeking a means of livelihood, and are therefore afforded the leisure time to concentrate fully on their studies.

On the contrary, Diodorus maintained, the Greeks learned such practices quite late in life, and their attention was diverted by a need to earn a living. He remarked:

"The result of this is that the barbarians, by sticking to the same things always, keep a firm hold on every detail, while the Greeks, on the other hand, aiming at the profit to be made out of the business, keep founding new schools and wrangling with each other over the most important matters of speculation, bring it about that their pupils hold conflicting views, and that their minds, vacillating throughout their lives and unable to believe anything at all with firm conviction, simply wander in confusion. It is at any rate true that, if a man were to examine carefully the most famous schools of the philosophers, he would find them differing from one another to the uttermost degree and maintaining opposite opinions regarding the most fundamental tenets."

This Magian influence makes itself most apparent in Orphism, which then influenced Pythagoras. The worship of Dionysus underwent a transformation in the sixth century BC, which scholars have generally been unable to account for. Few have considered the influence of Magian mysticism. Heraclitus in the sixth century BC had already maintained that Dionysian rites were practiced in imitation of those of the Magi, and foretunately, his claim has now been corroborated by a papyrus found at Derveni, near Thessalonika, and belonging to the fourth century BC.

According to F. M. Cornford, in "From Religion to Philosophy", "whether or not we accept the hypothesis of direct influence from Persia on the Ionian Greeks in the sixth century, any student of Orphic and Pythagorean thought cannot fail to see that the similarities between it and Persian religion are so close as to warrant our regarding them as expressions of the same view of life, and using the one system to interpret the other." Also, in "Orpheus and Greek Religion", W.K.C. Guthrie remarked that, "the depicting of ageless Time himself in this form shows correspondences with Oriental, and in particular with Persian religion, which are too detailed and exact to be passed over." As Guthrie further noted, we might be disposed to suspect later alteration of the myth if there were no evidence at all for the presence of Time in Greek cosmogony before the Hellenistic age, though, "against this is its prominent position in the cosmogony of Pherecydes as well as in that attributed to Orpheus."

However, again, these ideas should not be confused with Zoroastrian beliefs themselves. Rather, they are to be attributed to the chtonic cult of the so-called Magussaeans. Franz Cumont maintained that the beliefs of these Magussaeans were Zurvanite in origin. Though, in "Zurvan, A Zoroastrian Dilemma", RC Zaehner commented that in many cases it was more than Zurvanism, it was sorcery and demon-worship. Zaehner continues:

"The practice of worshipping the demons is also referred to by Clement of Alexandria: "the Magians", he says, "worship angels and demons." This as we have seen, is the practice not of the Zoroastrians or Zurvanites but of the "devil-worshippers", the third Iranian sect mentioned in the Denkart. With these facts in mind it will, perhaps be safe to conclude that Xerxes, in suppressing the deava cult, caused a large-scale emigration of dissident Magians. These, after absorbing much of Babylonian speculation, transported their beliefs to Asia Minor; and from them arose the Graeco-Roman religion of Mithra."

Again we have yet another Western tradition born from the occult. Ultimately, as describes M. L. West:

"In some ways one might say that it was the very extravagance of oriental fancy that freed the Greeks from the limitations of what they could see with their own eyes: led them to think of ten-thousand-year cycles instead of human generations, of an infinity beyond the visible sky and below the foundations of the earth, of a life not bounded by womb and tomb but renewed in different bodies aeon after aeon. It was now that they learned to think that good men and bad have different destinations after death; that the fortunate souls ascend to the luminaries of heaven; that God is intelligence; that the cosmos is one living creature; that the material world can be analyzed in terms of a few basic constituents such as fire, water, earth, metal; that there is a world of Being beyond perception, beyond time. These were conceptions of enduring importance for ancient philosophy. This was the gift of the Magi."

Therefore, contrary to the Humanistic interpretation again, which regards history as the evolution of "rational" thought, Greek philosophy did not represent the abandonment religion, or superstition, for free-thought. Rather, as advised by Plato in the "Epinomis" (or whoever wrote it), the Greeks abandoned their traditional belief system in favour of the worship of the stars and planets, the "real gods", a cult learned from the Egyptians and Syrians, "from when the knowledge has reached to all countries, including our own, after having been tested by thousands of years and time without end."

I have written an article describing the beliefs of the Magussaeans, and included an extensive library of ancient sources on the subject, to be found at {end}

Alain Danielou says the religion of the Dying-and-Reborn God Oriris/Dionysius/Shiva predated the Aryan Invasions: danielou-paglia.html.

Mary Boyce on the history of Zoroastrianism (including Zurvanism): zoroastrianism.html.

(4) Michael Hudson on Interest rates in Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome

Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2003 13:44:15 EDT From:

Dear Peter, How curious that you should emphasize Persian philosophy so highly (though I accept Mr. Livingston's ideas) while neglecting banking and finance. The Greek financial vocabulary itself was largely Syrian (i.e., "Phoenician,") as was the practice of charging interest, monetary weights and measures, and so forth. I summarize this economic priority and influence in

"Did the Phoenicians Introduce the Idea of Interest to Greece and Italy - And if So, When?" in Gunter Kopcke, ed., Greece Between East and West: 10th-8th Centuries BC (Berlin:1992): 128-143.

It is available on my website, {end}

If you can't find it there, try

4.1 How Interest Rates Were Set, 2500 BC - 1000 AD
4.2 Did the Phoenicians Introduce the Idea of Interest to Greece and Italy - and if so When?
4.3 It Shall Be a Jubilee Unto You
4.4 From Sacred Enclave to Temple to City
4.5 Music as an Analogy for Economic Order in Classical Antiquity

4.1 How Interest Rates Were Set, 2500 BC - 1000 AD

by Michael Hudson © (Peabody Museum, Harvard)

Published in: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 43 (Spring 2000):132-161

Más, tokos and fænus as metaphors for interest accruals*

* An earlier draft of this paper has benefited from comments by William Hallo, the late W. F. Leemans, Johannes Renger, Piotr Steinkeller, Cornelia Wunsch and Norman Yoffee. For the points on which I was unable to convince them, I take full responsibility.

ABSTRACT. The earliest interest rates in Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome were set not economically to reflect profit or productivity rates, but by the dictates of mathematical simplicity of calculation. The interest that was born calendrically did not take the form of young animals, but rather of the unit fraction, the smallest unit fraction in each of the above fractional systems: 1/60th in Mesopotamia, 1/10th in Greece, and 1/12th in Rome. The birth or calf/kid metaphor for interest thus referred to "baby fractions," not literally baby animals.

For economic historians, the Riddle of the Sphinx (if not the Holy Grail) has long been to explain how interest-bearing debts originated, and why interest rates differed from one society to the next. Interest rates are known to have been set in three primary civilizations at the outset of their commercial takeoff -- Bronze Age Sumer, classical Greece and Rome -- and to have remained remarkably stable over the course of each society. On an annualized basis, the rate for each new society was lower than that for its predecessor: 20 per cent for Mesopotamia, 10 per cent for Greece and 8 1/3 per cent for Rome. ...

4.2 Did the Phoenicians Introduce the Idea of Interest to Greece and Italy - and if so When?

by Michael Hudson, NYU ­ IFA*

(from the Temples of Enterprise book in progress)

*Delivered at a symposium at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, March 15th-16th, 1990, this article was published in Gunter Kopcke and Isabelle Tokumaru, eds, Greece between East and West: 10-th ­ 8th Centuries BC (Mainz: Verlag Phillip von Zabern, 1992).

This paper seeks to establish that interest-bearing debts were introduced to the Mediterranean lands from the Near East, most likely by Syrian ("Phoenician") merchants in the 8th century BC along with their better known innovations such as alphabetic writing. Contrary to what was believed until quite recently, such debts ­ and for that matter, commercial and agrarian debts even without interest charges ­ are by no means a spontaneous and universal innovation. No indications of commercial or agrarian debts have been found in Early Bronze Age Egypt, the Indus valley, or even in Ebla, much less in Mycenaean Greece. They are first documented in a particular part of the world ­ Sumer ­ in the third millennium, and can be traced diffusing from southern Mesopotamia upward along the Euphrates and westward into the Levant as part of the Sumerian commercial expansion. Originally documented as being owed to temple and palace collectors, interest-bearing debts became increasingly privatized as they became westernized.

This implies a diffusionist explanation of how interest-bearing debt came to be introduced into the Mediterranean lands. But diffusion usually involves change. As commercial and agrarian debt practices spread, they did so in new contexts, often without the public checks and balances that had been developed in southern Mesopotamia. For instance, the periodic royal debt cancellations found in Sumer, Babylonia and Assyria from 2400 to 1600 BC were not transmitted to Greece and Italy. As a result, debt-servitude tended to be irreversible, at least prior to Solon's seisachtheia in 594 BC. This made the debt problem more serious in the Mediterranean periphery to what had been the Bronze Age core. ...

4.3 It Shall Be a Jubilee Unto You

by Michael Hudson


... Rome was the first society not to cancel its debts. And we all know what happened to it. Classical historians such as Plutarch, Livy, and Diodorus attributed RomeÕs decline and fall to the fact that creditors got the entire economy in their debt, expropriated the land and public domain, and strangled the economy.

Michael Hudson is distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and author of Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (new edition forthcoming November 2002). This article is based on "Reconstructing the Origins of Interest-Bearing Debt and the Logic of Clean Slates," in Debt and Economic Renewal in the Ancient Near East, by Michael Hudson and Marc Van De Mieroop.

4.4 From Sacred Enclave to Temple to City

by Dr. Michael Hudson, ISLET © 1999

On the origins of cities as offshore banking centers - chapter 3 from my Urbanization volume, Urbanization and Land Ownership in the Ancient Near East (ed. with Baruch Levine) Cambridge, Mass.: Peabody Museum, Harvard University, 1999 ...

4.5 Music as an Analogy for Economic Order in Classical Antiquity

by Michael Hudson ©

in Jürgen Backhaus (ed.), Karl Bücher. Theory, History, Anthropology, Non-Market Economies (Marburg:Metropolis Verlag 2000): pp. 113-35

(page 11-15 of the manuscript uploaded here)

Music and economics each are abstract in their own way, and few people see much of a connection today. There is of course the "economics of music," but as Prof. Senn observes, music is a profession whose members are among the least economically motivated. Performing a musical work is so creative an act that amateurs do it without remuneration, and aspiring musicians sometimes even pay for the privilege of performing in major concert halls.

Not many people deem the Dismal Science to be aesthetic. Few economists practice it for their own creative enjoyment. Whereas music may be performed simply for the joy of it, economics subjects everything to the measuring rod of money, and deals on a mundane level only with that part of life that can be quantified in terms of prices and costs.

The term "harmony of interests" is of course well known, and Henry Carey wrote a book by this title, which inspired Friedrich Bastiat's "economic harmonies." The metaphor extends back at least to classical Greece. This essay sketches how musical principles were used as early analogues for economic relations and good social order. ...


Aryold J. Toynbee on Hebrews as part of the Syriac Civilization:

A Study of History VOLUME XII RECONSIDERATIONS, Oxford University Press, London 1961.

{p. 423} The Hebrews (including the Moabites) adopted not only the Canaanite language but also the Phoenician alphabet for writing it. ... 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. ... {endquote} toynbee.html.

More on the Phoenicians:

Martin Bernal on the Aryan Invasions:

Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization Volume II The Archaeological and Documentary Evidence (Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick NJ, 1991):

{p. 322} Hurrians and Indo-Aryans have also been linked to the development and use of the light war chariot, and diffusionists have tended to see this as the secret of their military success. This seemed plausible as there is little or no trace of horses and chariots in Middle Kingdom Egypt, while they played an important role in the 15th and later Dynasties. Against this attempt to link the Hurrians and Hyksos scholars were able to argue, until recently, that, as chariots were first mentioned in Egypt at the end of the Hyksos period, there is no reason to suppose that they had been present at its beginning. In the 1960s, however, horses or at least 'equids' were found buried in association with Hyksos graves dating from the second half of the 18th century BC. Thus, there would seem no reason to deny the inherently plausible notion that horses and chariots came in with the Hyksos, and that the Hyksos 'invasion' was directly or indirectly connected to the Hurrian expansion and further that there may have been Indo-Aryan speakers involved in the movement. {endquote}

More of Bernal at gimbutas.html.

To order G. Elliot Smith's booklet The Influence of Ancient Egyptian Civilization in the East and in America from AddAll:

Cyrus Gordon's book Before the Bible is of print. To purchase a second-hand copy via Abebooks:

Write to me at contact.html.