Thursday, 6 October 2016

Hebrew Origin by Cornelius Tacitus (56 - 111 A.D.)

The Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus (56-118 A.D.) had these thoughts on the origins of the Hebrews/Haribu/Habiru/Habibu. This is in the context of Titus Caesar, who had been selected by his father to complete the subjugation of Judaea (70 A.D.)

Tacitus: History Book 5
2. As I am about to relate the last days of a famous city, it seems appropriate to throw some light on its origin. Some say that the Jews were fugitives from the island of Crete, who settled on the nearest coast of Africa about the time when Saturn was driven from his throne by the power of Jupiter.

Evidence of this is sought in the name. There is a famous mountain in Crete called Ida; the neighbouring tribe, the Idaei, came to be called Judaei by a barbarous lengthening of the national name.

Others assert that in the reign of Isis the overflowing population of Egypt, led by Hierosolymus and Judas, discharged itself into the neighbouring countries. Many, again, say that they were a race of Ethiopian origin, who in the time of king Cepheus were driven by fear and hatred of their neighbours to seek a new dwelling-place. Others describe them as an Assyrian horde who, not having sufficient territory, took possession of part of Egypt, and founded cities of their own in what is called the Hebrew country, lying on the borders of Syria. Others, again, assign a very distinguished origin to the Jews, alleging that they were the Solymi, a nation celebrated in the poems of Homer, who called the city which they founded Hierosolyma after their own name.

3. Most writers, however, agree in stating that once a disease, which horribly disfigured the body, broke out over Egypt; that king Bocchoris, seeking a remedy, consulted the oracle of Hammon, and was bidden to cleanse his realm, and to convey into some foreign land this race detested by the gods.

Canaan Head
 The people, who had been collected after diligent search, finding themselves left in a desert, sat for the most part in a stupor of grief, till one of the exiles, Moyses by name, warned them not to look for any relief from God or man, forsaken as they were of both, but to trust to themselves, taking for their heaven-sent leader that man who should first help them to be quit of their present misery.

They agreed, and in utter ignorance began to advance at random. Nothing, however, distressed them so much as the scarcity of water, and they had sunk ready to perish in all directions over the plain, when a herd of wild asses was seen to retire from their pasture to a rock shaded by trees. Moyses followed them, and, guided by the appearance of a grassy spot, discovered an abundant spring of water. This furnished relief. After a continuous journey for six days, on the seventh they possessed themselves of a country, from which they expelled the inhabitants, and in which they founded a city and a temple.
Canaan Head

The Shasu: Shasu is an Egyptian word for semitic-speaking pastoral cattle nomads who appeared in the Levant from the late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age or Third Intermediate Period of Egypt. They were organized in clans under a tribal chieftain, and were described as brigands active from the Jezreel Valley to Ashkelon and the Sinai. The name evolved from a transliteration of the Egyptian word ลก3sw, meaning "those who move on foot", into the term for Bedouin-type wanderers. The term first originated in a fifteenth century list of peoples in Transjordan.

It is used in a list of enemies inscribed on column bases at the temple of Soleb built by Amenhotep III. Copied later by either Seti I or Ramesses II at Amarah-West, the list mentions six groups of Shashu: the Shasu of S'rr, the Shasu of Lbn, the Shasu of Sm't, the Shasu of Wrbr, the Shasu of Yhw, and the Shasu of Pysps.

The Gods of Canaan/Phoenicia
The Phoenician era saw a shift in Canaanite religion. The larger pantheon became pushed to the side in favor of previously less important, singular deities who became or were already, the patron Gods of Cities.
Different cities had different concepts of which Gods were most important and what some of the gods basic attributes were. While El or Il, whose name means 'god', is commonly described as the creator of the earth, the Aramaeans ranked Hadad before him. Also, many city gods were named Baal, meaning 'lord'. Baal-Sidon, the city god of Sidon was thus an entirely different deity than Baal-Hadad, the storm god.

El: (also called Latipan, and possibly Dagon)
He is known as the Father of the gods, 'the father of mankind', the 'Bull', and 'the creator of creatures'. He is gray haired and bearded and lives at Mt. Lel. He is a heavy drinker and has gotten extremely drunk at his banquets.

As a young god, he went out to the sea and, spying two ladies, one of whom is presumably Athirat, becomes aroused, roasts a bird and asks the two to choose between being his daughters or his wives. They become his wives and in due course they give birth to Shachar, Shalim, and possibly other gracious gods, who could be Athirat's seventy children and/or much of the rest of the pantheon. The new family raises a sanctuary in the desert and lived there for eight years.

He orders that Yam be given kingship and sets Kothar-and-Khasis to build the new king a throne. The gods warn that Yam has been shamed and may wreck destruction, so El ameliorates him by renaming him mddil - 'beloved of El' and throws a feast for him. El warns though that this is contingent on his driving out Baal, who may fight back. Following Yam's demise, he favors the god Mot.

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