.    Instructor: Dave Tamm / Term: Spring 2008    .






PHOENICIANS. Small states big ideas egyptians important cause they remembered, not what they did. Hebrews are different, because of what they did. because of what they gave to the western intellectual tradition. not strong politcally, but culturally.

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 mediterranean.

200 years after the bronze age came to a close, they were flourishing. tyre sidon byblos, beirut. very important cities. planted trading colonies 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 sound! this alphabet could be used to record and reproduce the sounds of ANY language. 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 prime.

Amongst the larger empires, and within the power vacuum of 1100-800 came other peoples, famed perhaps not for their physical might, but for their powers of culture. The Phoenicians were just such a people, living on the shores the the Mediterranean, in todays Lebanon. Many Canaanites moved north into Phoenicia, avoiding the Israel-Philistine conflict. Tyre and Sidon were built. Since the Minoans were gone, a vacuum existed in Mediterranean Sea trade, open to any sailors brave enough to venture forth. This the Phoenicians did wonderfully. They ventured even far out of sight of land, and learned to tell direction by looking at the sky. The Sun was always south in the light of day, and the big dipper is always to the north at night. Because the Phoenicians traded with both Egypt and Mesopotamia, they needed to know both languages. They needed a simple writing code, and invented the alphabet. This could handle any language, as it make letters out of sounds, and could be written down easily. Memorize the sound, and you can write! Writing developed in many places... but the alphabet was invented only once. All those today are descended from this first Alphabet.

They ranged far into the Mediterranean and the wonder tales they told inspired many. They established trading posts even in Iberia and North Africa. Tin ore was exhausted in the middle east (first case of a national resource disappearing) and had to be brought by the Phoenicians. They got tin from Britannia, keeping the location secret. In 814, Carthage is founded, gains freedom of action when Phoenicia is conquered by Assyria. Later they would be taken over again by Neo Babylon and Persia. But these empires knew it would be foolish to destroy them, so they allowed them to keep trading and bringing in prosperity. The Persian Navy that fought the Athenians at Salamis? Phoenician sailors. During Hellenistic times, and later Roman times, they assimilated readily and spoke Greek.



ISRAEL. In 1917 during WWI, the British Army defeated the Turks despite heavy losses at Gallipoli. They marched into Jerusalem led by General Allenby, and this was the 8th conquest of the Holy City. It made the newspapers around the ecumene, reminding people about historic memory of the Jews, scattered throughout the world, whose ancestors dwelt there, so long ago. The Hebrews wee a small people, pastoralists living in the desert grasslands of the fertile crescent. They turned the imperial idea on its head: saying that worldly things were of little consequence, and in a remarkable leap, that their God was the only God. They said the real God did not reveal himself to the powerful Assyrians, but to the lowly Hebrews. They laid the foundations for three great religions. 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 a religious ideal. we know a lot but there is a lot we dont know.

ABRAHAM. Abraham was their chief. In Ur of the Chaldees he was a pastoralist - he was told by God to abandon all others, the traditional gods of the land, like Baal and Astarte. In return, he entered into a covenant with the almighty, in which he was promised the land of Canaan, a 'holy land,' for all time, around 1600 bc, during the Babylonian period. Abraham and his people settled in small bands. All the Hebrews were descended from Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob, who had 12 sons, each of whom established a tribe. And, names of large numbers of families feature in Bible. Struggled with others, none of whom was strong enough to conquer, and not so weak that they could be conquered. Stories now about bondage. during the great clashes of the 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 there. The 'Habiru' lived in the land of Goshen, in the NE of egypt.

EXODUS. 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 1100s. ark of the covenant, tribal government, 12 tribes. They wrote down the books of the Bible, which contains their legends, history, poetry and ethical teachings. The Bible is the most important and influential book ever written. Their legends describe the story of the Exodus from Egypt's New Kingdom about 1200, and they joined after 40 years other tribes in Canaan, which was no longer under the control of a weakening Egypt. From the east across the Jordan they came, and from the west, Phrygians and Mycenaens came (Sea Peoples- now called the Philistines), who had wiped out the Hittites in Anatolia and were now on the coast of Canaan. Jericho, the oldest city (settled for 6,000 years) had its walls brought down by Joshua. For two hundred years the invading Israelites from the west and the invading sea people / Philistines from the west tore at each other in Canaan, along with the Canaanites. Israelites had Iron weapons. Around 1000, David put together the Kingdom of Israel and finished off the Philistine threat (symbolically and in reality). He founded Jerusalem as the capital.

JUDAISM. When Moses led the children out of bondage and into the desert of sinai, to the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey, and commemorated by the Passover, he climbed up Mt. Sinai and spoke directly to God. God gave him the 10 Commandments.

1. Thou shalt have no gods before me.

2. Thou shalt make no graven images.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.

4. Thou shalt keep the Sabbath day holy.

5. Honor thy father and they mother.

6. Thou shalt not kill.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultry.

8. Thou shalt not steal.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thou neighbor.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house nor anything that is his.

These are not the 10 Suggestions. Or, 10 Ways of Getting Rich. Or, 10 Self-Esteem Enhancing Tips. They are the 10 Commandments. Here is the line, do NOT cross it. When the children agreed to these commandments, they entered into a new covenant with God. They would fail many times to keep them, including the first, for they would accept other gods, sometimes even in secret, making sacrafices to Baal or Marduk, but this particular God was something else. All the other gods anyone ever heard of were a part of nature- the one God, a Sky God, transcended nature. The other gods were fallible, whimsical, cruel, pretentious, etc. This God was ethical and just. He was hard to approach for regular people, because he was so far removed from humans. An invisible sky God, yet who is around us. "The Lord sees not as man sees, for man looks at outward appearances, the Lord looks at the heart."

THE KINGDOM. David carves out a kingdom from Egypt to the borders of Mesoptoamia. This kingdom is remembered by Jews as their 'natural boundaries.' One of the miseries of history- each nation recalls its natural boundaries as the maximum of its extension. Naturally, they all overlap. David conquered Moab, Edom and Ammonites. Solomon attempted no further conquest, but built the temple. It was unique because it had no carvings or idols representing God. The conquered peoples were restive, as were the Samarian Jews of the north, resenting to some extent the domination of Judah. In 922 the split occurred, after the death of Solomon. Israel in the north, Judah in the south. The conquered could not remain so, and Israelite political glory faded. Older parts of the Bible, like the Song of Deborah, are written.

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. ISRAEL. In the 700s, the kingdom was almost reestablished, but Assyria stopped that with a vengance. Samaria was taken in 722 and Sargon II deported the 10 lost tribes, including all the nobles. The fragments left were leaderless and incapable of rebellion. They disappeared from history by becoming absorbed.

Eventually, Israel would have to face Assyria too. A coalition of Aram (Syria), Judah and Israel was formed, and actually defeated Assyria in a battle. But Ahab the king died in Syria and things looked dark. Monotheism of the Yahweh Jews conflicted with the polytheistic Jews, who looked to all manner of Canaanite and Babylonian gods. Ahab and wife Jezebel are written about in the Bible as bad, and they indeed were polytheists.

After Jerusalem fell to Assyria, they paid them off for a century. Josiah declared Judah independent, and the Book of Deuteronomy was written down, containing the Laws. It was said Moses wrote it, and it was found in the temple. Josiah died opposing Necho's attempt at the Levant. But when Nebuchadnezzar came, Judah was subjugated again under a Mesopotamian empire.

The Jews were taken into Babylonian Captivity. That should have been the end of the children of Israel, as it was with the 10 tribes. A strange thing happened, though, for the Jews 'found' themselves in Babylon. The prophets helped preserve national feeling. The One God would see them through. The Bible was complied and written down.

When Babylon was taken by Cyrus, the Jews were released to Israel. They accepted Persian overlordship and paid tribute. Some diaspora stayed in Babylon. New temple is built in 515, and Judea is the new name. Forever after babylon though, the Jews were absolute monotheists. God gave back the Jewish homeland. Isaiah even predicted the fall of Babylon, done by God using the Persians as his agents. Isaiah also preched that Yahweh was not only God of the Jews, but of all humanity.

CAPTIVITY: development of morals, predicted by prophets, keeping law, sabbath, circumcision. So a people: not united, not strong, not numerous, momentarily economically significant, (unlike phoenicians)... but perhaps more important than them all. their imprint? large rich complex writings: the Hebrew Bible. Old testament. series of reveal insights from 1700 and abraham to 200, the roman conquest of the mediterranean world. especially 1000-500, the unified kingdom to the captivity. Assyria scattered the ten tribes of Israel Nebuchadnezzer took Judah into captivity, and ezekiel and jeremiah declared it was God’s punishment. But the Children of Israel 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. Its God’s handiwork, or Creation.

THE JEWISH MIRACLE. 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 existence, but to know God, to be righteous, merciful and just. to be Godly. All Jews “Equal” before God.

THE BIBLE. It is not just a book, it is a whole world. It is history, poetry, prophecy, drama, practical advice, philosophy, letters, visions, songs, laws and more. But all put together, and unlike the great books of any other religion, it is a story. It is a story about real people that did real things in real history. It should be read like a form of prayer, in the 'presence' of God. Since both prayer and the Bible are meetings with God, they should be intertwined: prayer should be biblical and reading the Bible prayerful. The Bible is spirit's sword, that cuts our being apart, and when we proceed with it, it brings God's kingdom to Earth. How? First from the Word to your mind, then into your life, and through your life into the world. The Bible is a story of paradise, paradise lost and paradise regained. It describes a God different than all the other ancient deities:

1. only a few individuals in the ancient world believed in one single God. Socrates and Akenaton did, not many others.

2. only the Jews had knowledge of a God who created everything from nothing.

3. all others separate religion from morality, jews dont. other gods give laws, like those Marduk gave Hammurabi. But God is ethical in a perfect way they are not.

God gave laws to Moses, and words to the prophets as his mouthpieces. He used many characters: abel, not cain. noah, not anyone else, abraham, not lot, isaac, not ishmael, jacob, not esau, joseph, not his brothers, and the jews, not the gentiles.

GENESIS. The Bible is history but not scientific history. its style is poetic and its content selective. Genesis tells the beginning of not just something, but everything. The word it uses is not replicatable in any other langauge... bara... creation. Only God creates, we may form, or in other religions, some have formation history, but the Bible alone has the story of creation.


E, J, D, P strains in the Bible. 3 kinds of material:  

1. First 5 are the torah (the teaching). GENESIS, EXODUS, LEVITICUS, NUMBERS AND DEUTERONOMY. teach? teach what? it 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 don't 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 covenant. Between God and a tribal leader. the tribe was abrahams family the covenant is renewed between God and Moses, for the people forged from exodus. “Now therefore if you will hear unto my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, 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.

covenant renewed with Ezra, understood as (in exile) as the people under whatever place they live. insofar as they are in exile, the covenant is with them. idea is a reciprocal relationship between God and the people. psalms. nothing 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 single god but don't deny there are others are there. this is it. By Isaiah, 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 future. history has a purpose and meaning. Finally: Western Literature. It is inconcievable without the Bible.






ARAMEANS. Also traders like phoenicians, but on land. camal caravans. socially strong, traders not fighters, decentralized. aramean language became the most popular second language, like english today.




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