.    Instructor: Dave Tamm / Term: Spring 2008    .






THE AGE OF EMPIRES: The first 'Age of Empires,' in point of fact, as empires have been the most common form of political organization throughout history. These ancient ones: Akkadian, Babylonian, Hittite, New Kingdom Egyptian, Assyrian, New Babylonian and Persian, set a powerful trend. This first age of empires is sometimes called the 'international bronze age', as bronze weapons and tools were used throughout the Near East. The empires battled each other at times, and also used these metals to rule subject peoples.



Small states big ideas

egyptians important cause they remembered, not what they did

hebrews different, because of what they did. because of what they

gave to

the western intellectual tradition. not strong politcally, but



a gap: 1200 - 700 BC is a quiet period- sea peoples came, PHILISTINES,

but did not leave any durable impact. raided and invaded.


but PHOENICIANS did. they could emerge cause for a moment, their

great and powerful neighbors were much weakened. actually they

were canaanites. why? cause they exported purple dye made of shellfish

, and they were called poine, the purple people! Merchants of the



200 years after the bronze age came to a close, they were flourishing.

tyre sidon byblos, beirut. very important cities. planted trading


all over the mediterranean starting 900 bc. first great commercial

empire. one stimulus, the search for metal ores.

like later athenians, venicians, dutch. not conquered enormous

territory, but what they did was as valuable.

they created glass, traded ivory, and solomons temple was built of

the famous ceder trees.


carthage... marsaille... iberia... southern italy, sicily...

stitching the world

together, one cultural basin, spreading ideas from mesopotamia etc. all

over the place. Carthage (New City) is in a wonderful harbor. twin

city opposite

the civilization of phoenicia itself at the top of an outcropping.

centerpoint between

levant and gibraltar. their gods like Baal were widely worshipped.

some even

sacraficed their first born son as an offering to Baal. or to save

the city or family.

you die so the rest of us can live. heroism or lunacy, or both.

faith. belief. Astarte

was the goddess of sacred prostitution. a priestess and males

copulated and

it was a symbol of the fertility of Astarte.


circumnavigated africa, not matched for 2000 years until europeans

set out again in the age of exploration.


but its the alphabet we remember. each letter represented a single


this alphabet could be used to record and reproduce the sounds of ANY


it spread around the mediterranean, and the greeks and romans took

it, roman became latin, and it became the source of all the

alpahabets of the west. they invented reading, because its way easier

to do that than memorize a thousand symbols. Alphabet is

written in straight lines because it was easier to make that in clay!


they circumnavigated africa in 600s... reached britannia 450... amazing.

nice gap! hittites and egyptians decline... assyrians etc. not yet




They are the only ancient peoples still around. one does not meet

Hittites in the street. absorbed a lot from Mesoptoamia and egypt.

flood story, creation story... one massive contribution, ethical

monotheism. the world was already “old” when they arrive!


most read book in the world. all time bestseller. the book gutenberg

printed first.


not powerful, not economics, not politics, deplomacy... but because

of religious ideal.

we know a lot but there is a lot we dont know. Ur of the Chaldees is

where a

pastoralist - abraham moved to a place God gave them... when? 1700

bc. During

the dynastic period of Ur in Ur.


did not come unified. settled in small bands. names of large numbers of

families in Bible. struggled with others, none of whom was strong enough

to conquer them, and not so weak that they could be conquered.


stories now about bondage. during hittite vs egypt, many hebrews pulled

away into egypt. or some came on their own cause of egyptian prosperity.

NKE empire- reduced the hebrews to bondage. but some (like Joseph) had

a good life then. Habiru lived in the land of Goshen, in the NE of



Hebrew: outsiders used it, Bene Yisroel, “people (children) of israel”


Moses 1220 forged his people into one. 100 or 200 years previous,

egypt was too

strong. unthinkable. but now it was weakened, about 1200. Exodus.

they left

egypt, wandered after 40 years and got to the promised land. Joshua

fights and

wins battle of jericho. disunified. Hebrews settled in Canaan, where

the Sea Peoples

had destroyed many cities and wrecked the local populations around



ark of the covenant, tribal government, 12 tribes.


JUDGES notables who were responsible for order, military leaders.

unified by a common enemy- the Philistines and others. Saul, David,

Solomon. small unified kingdom broke into two, Israel and Judah

(Samarra and Jerusalem) that for centuries struggled with each other

and within themselves.


Gradually powerful neighbors arose and the hebrews failed to take

enough note of it. 700s the Assyrians destroyed the north, Israel.

ten lost tribes. New Babylonians then.


CAPTIVITY: development of morals, predicted by prophets, keeping law,

sabbath, circumcision.


So a people: not united, not strong, not numerous, momentarily


significant, (unlike phoenicians)... but perhaps more important than

them all.


their imprint? large rich complex writings: the Hebrew Bible. Old


series of reveal insights from 1700 and abraham to 200, the roman


of the mediterranean world. especially 1000-500, the unified kingdom

to the



Assyria scattered the ten tribes of Israel

Nebuchadnezzer took Judah into captivity, and ezekiel and jeremiah


it was God’s punishment. But the Hebrews survived.


God is eternal, the creator of the universe, and invisible. An

Invisible God.


God is above nature, not part of it. no place for a sun god or moon

god, nature

demystified. not super natural, but natural. God’s handiwork, or


the Individual. monotheism helped develop the idea of the Self, or

the I. the individual

was conscious of his own worth. god is omnipotent but also just and

merciful. Human

beings can fulfill his morality by freely making choices, not by

being slaves to the God, not by being controlled by God.

God cannot be represented.

God is higher than kings or generals, so give no ultimate loyalty to

them, only to God

Hebrews were free- but free with one condition, that you volunteered

to be moral.


Hebrews were not preoccupied with understanding God, or proving his


but to know God, to be righteous, merciful and just. to be Godly. All

Jews “Equal” before God.


E, J, D, P strains in the Bible.


3 kinds of material:



DEUTERONOMY. the teaching. teach what? 1. tells about

the relationship of the hebrews with their God, and how they got

their land, and

laws. like hammurabi. not purely ethical statements, just law lists.


the Prophets. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel yet, but before that the

historical books

of kings... showing how when they keep the commandments the hebrews are

successful. creating a vision of the past, but also the vision of the

future. and

prophests, amos etc. great theoriticians of the historical material.

“you see, they

did well and things were good when the covanement was kept”


The writings: proverbs, wisdom, sayings, guide on how to do things.

they dont

tell a story cohecively. how to live well = not how to “be happy” but

how to

keep the laws of God. the favor of God.


We must understand what it meant then, in the many thens after then,

and now:

The covanent. Between God and a tribal leader. the tribe was abrahams


the covanent is renewed between God and Moses, for the people forged


exodus. “Now therefore if you will hear unto my voice indeed, and

keep my covanent, then ye shall be Mine own treasure among all

peoples, and be unto me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.” So,

there is a moral imperative.


covanent renewed with Ezra, understood as (in exile) as the people under

whatever place they live. insofar as they are in exile, the covanent

is with them.


idea is a reciprocal relationship between God and the people. psalms.


like them in anything from the religious traditions of others. “why

oh why have you

forsaken me!” We made a deal! pay off! So different from

mesoptoamia... “please gods dont let the tigris overflow this

year”... no reciprocity. a deal.


next: the idea of a uniquely chosen people. in meso you always added

divinities all around the middle east, but this was ONE GOD for one

people. more mature reflections

of the nature of that God. In early books, you get hints of

monotheism, but we also have plural gods. Like... when Moses goes up

on Mt. Sinai...


First Commandment: have no OTHER gods before me (strangers’ gods..

not that the others dont exist!)


Henotheism: you worship a god but dont deny there are others are

there. this is it. By Isiah, we have One God only. No others.

Covananet was between God and Abraham. then God and the people

reforged by moses. then between the torah and the people. In Jonah,

who had been told to preach in Nineveh. He tries to flee and takes a

phoenician boat and out in the mediterranean, and a whale eats him

and spits him out on a beach and God says, “I thought I told you to

go to Nineveh!” A story... meaning do a daunting thing. and he was

going to NINEVEH... is this universalism? can the Jews spread Judaism

to everyone or is Israel to be chosen alone forever- and the rest of

humanity consigned to godlessness?


ethical monotheism- profound social justice runs through the books,

not preasant in mesopotamia. not much in egypt. so it is

unprecedented. the fundamental demand of a particular kind of

behavior in exchange for his benevolence. not how just to honor god,

but also each other. dont lie steal cheat covet etc.


History: the hebrews are the first to have a sense of history and a


history has a purpose and meaning.


Finally: Western Literature. It is inconcievable without the Bible.





Also traders like phoenicians, but on land. camal caravans. socially


traders not fighters, decentralized. aramean language became the most


second language like english today.






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