Reading the “Winged Disk of Judah”-Part 3

I continue in my description and debunking of Don Stewart‘s theses.

1. Making Redford’s Mistake with Ramesses

Stewart, like Donald Redford, makes the mistake of assuming the name Ramesses, if not transliterated during a late period, would be transliterated into Hebrew as Resh/Ain/Mem/Shin/He, when, in fact, it is transliterated Resh/Ain/Mem/Samek/Samek. However, when one compares Hebrew and Egyptian words, one finds that Egyptian “s” is usually transliterated “Samek” (Hoffmeier, in Sinai, pg. 55). Besides, the last letter of “Ramesses”, if transliterated correctly into Hebrew, would not be He, but Waw, or, as is actually transliterated in the text, Samek. Also, the name “Ramesses” comes in different forms, including Rmss, Rmsw, and Rms. The form “Rmss” is not necessarily a late one.

2. Hudet=Judah

The Winged Sun Hudet/Behdet was later interpreted as a manifestation of Re, and was often used to symbolize Horus. The name Behdet is first attested on the Step Pyramid of Djoser and became a district of Edfu in the Middle Kingdom. The Winged Sun first appeared in the 1st-3rd Dynasties and became referred to as “Behdet” only in the days of Sneferu and had already spread to Calah and Gozan by the 9th C BC.

The Winged Sun only appeared on royal seals in Judah and personal seals Israel in the 8th C BC, long after the winged sun had spread from Egypt and was part of the Syrian royal insignia. How, then, can any man who did his research ascociate Judah and Behdet? To use this as the foremost proof of Velikovskyan chronology is even more laughable!

3. Hophra=Africa=Ophir=Pharaoh

This is quite laughable conjecture. Ophir is mentioned as part of Joktan, between Sheba (Marib) and Havilah (the Arabian Desert), ergo, it should be in Arabia. The names “Pharaoh” and “Ophir” correspond in only three letters in the Hebrew. The name “Africa” came from the vicinity of Carthage, which, unlike Ophir, was not known for its gold (however, “Africa” and “Ophir” may derive from the same root word). Hophra/Apries is nobody but Wah-ib-re, meaning “Consort of the Heart of Re”-related neither to Pharaoh nor to Ophir.


Reading “The Winged Disk of Judah”- Part 2

Here, Stewart outlines some of his other theses.

1. Hatti=Kaldu

Now, this is really facepalm-worthy. The Indo-European Hittite language has been understood to a good degree. So has Semitic Chaldean. They are not the same. Chaldean is more related to Aramaic than any other language, as JD has shown in the Ur debate. While Stewart’s (Velikovsky’s) first presumption, that Ramesses II is Necho II is definitely false, I do not see how anyone with even a modest level of intelligence could believe the Hittites were the Chaldeans, except if one has been so indoctrinated in the works of Velikovsky as to purposely not to have read any literature relating to the Hittite and Chaldean languages. Indeed, Hatti-land (the land of the archeologically attested Aramaean-Hittite states) is known in numerous Assyrian and Chaldean sources to have been in North Syria, and, indeed, Nebuchadnezzar II claimed to have conquered Hatti-land only after the Battle of Carchemish.

2. Pithom/Ramesses=Memphis

Stewart’s idea that Pithom is merely a flipping around of Egyptian “nefert” and “men” is quite unlikely, since Israel had a good and fine word for Memphis, derived from “nefer[et]”, and it is extremely difficult to make “Pithom” out of the same word that made “Noph”. Pithom is best explained as “The House of Atum”, “pr itm”. The name is preserved in the Wadi “Tumilat”, Papyrus Anastasi VI, and in the so-called “Pithom Stele” found at Tell el-Maskhuta. Ramesses is an attested abbreviation of Pi-Ramesse/Qantir.

3. Shep=Sheba

Etymologically unlikely, both Israel and Egypt had the letter “p”. There was also a kingdom of Saba centered around Marib, which I think a much better candidate for Sheba.

4. The scholarly community is made up of many specialists, all interested in only their own field and relying on an unsound chronological framework.

Bullshit. Here are the pillars which hold up modern ANE chronology:

1. Greek Chronology-That which even scholars entirely divorced from the ANE knew.

2. Assyrian Chronology-Made dates up to 911 BC certain.

3. Archaeology and Stratigraphy-This set up the order of the Egyptian dynasties, and provides the most sure proof the 19th Dynasty came before any Israelite settlement.

4. King Lists and Astronomical dating- This limited the number of possible chronological schemes. For example, Sothic dating and Egyptian king lists with a combination of the above made sure there were only two possible beginnings of Ahmose I’s reign and three of Ramesses II’s. Assyrian and Hittite chronology helped solve this dispute. An example more easily solvable by physical dating methods is the four possible sets of Mesopotamian chronology caused by the Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa.

5. Physical dating methods (Dendrochronology, Radiocarbon, Thermoluminescence).

These are used as a last resort, and only if one wants to settle a long standing chronological dispute. Radiocarbon dating almost ceases to work between the 4th and 8th centuries BC, so it is of quite limited use in solving chronological disputes in that era, which, however, happens to be historically documented extremely well. At present, using a combination of physical dating and the archaeology of Hazor, the Mesopotamian High Chronology is impossible, the Middle Chronology is, in its current form, impossible, the Low Chronology is likely, and the Ultra-Low Chronology is possible. A combination of radiocarbon dating, the Shoshenq I list, and archaeology (as of and after 2007, see pg. 1679) confirmed that Solomon could not have built the six-chambered gates which used to be accredited to him and that Early Iron IIa began in the reign of Shishak.

As anyone can see, contra Stewart, the conventional chronology thrives on communication between disciplines. If there are any chronological assumptions done here, it is because others (like Velikovsky’s) are impossible.

Map of Memphis

As a follow-up to my previous post, I give you my map of Memphis (Noph)! Merenptah’s palace is just to the E. of the “Lesser Temple Ptah”. A temple of Ashtaroth used to exist around the Tyrian camp (Kom el-Qal’a), however, this cannot be clearly identified. As for Perie’s map, see here. The Building of Siamun should be 100 m to the SW.

Reading “The Winged Disk of Judah”- Part 1

Recently, I have debated former economist and current Velikovskyan Donald George Stewart. The debate ended after he was robbed of his work desk computer on the 26th of August and was forced to devote his time to other tasks. I have found, after closely viewing his blog, that he has written a book entitled “Memphis, Merneptah and Ramesses -And the Winged Disk of Judah-A New Framework for Ancient Middle Eastern History”. Since it marshals new Velikovskyan arguments others might use, it is my right and duty to read and review it.

Here, are some of Mr. Donald Stewart’s arguments for Velikovskyan chronological revision in the first pages of “Winged Disk”:

1. Misrepresenting Beth-Shean (pgs. 2-3).

Stewart claims that the 19th-20th Dynasty fortress at Beth Shean was built above that of the Iron I town. Contrary to Stewart’s claims, the Iron I stratum in Area S was built above the destruction layer (not easy to miss!) of the 20th Dynasty, contained recycled monuments from the 19th-20th dynasties, followed the same street plan as the 20th dynasty city, and was a Canaanite city, not, as Stewart assumes, a watchtower built by Saul. The fact the 19th-20th Dynasty Egyptian forts in area Q are found above the Iron I remains in Area S is merely a result of the fact Beth-Shean is a hill, not a flat plain. Mr. Stewart declares Beth Shean was not occupied during the days of Israelite control over the Beth-Shean valley, since the Israelites had no need to occupy it. Both these statements are patently false, since Beth Shean was, in fact, reoccupied as an unwalled city during the 8th-9th centuries BC, and had a “mighty building” upon it during the 9th century, largely due to its commending position over the Beth-Shean valley. It was then destroyed by the Assyrians, re-inhabited to a slight degree during the Iron IIC, then abandoned until the Hellenistic period. The results at Beth-Shean, contra Stewart, utterly contradict Velikovskyan chronology.

2. The lack of Israelite remains at Joppa (pgs. 3-4)

The lack of remains really is not as drastic as Stewart states; the city was inhabited during the 9th-8th Cs BC (Iron IIA-B, not C). The stratum in which these remains are found (Stratum III) is the stratum between Ramesside IVA and Persian II. Even at a poorly excavated site like Joppa, the conventional chronology is still supported. Curiously, all mentions of the site in the OT are of Persian date, with the exception of Joshua 19:46. Joppa is also implied to exist in Judges 5:17; this is probably a reference to the poor Iron I occupation.

3. Misusing Memphis (pgs. 4-7)

Memphis is a very poorly stratified site. The last kings to revamp it were the Ramessides (confirmed not to be the 26th Dynasty by the simple fact the Ramesside strata come far below those of the Assyrian era and the simple fact that, on the Way of Horus, 26th Dynasty and 19th Dynasty forts and pottery are totally different, and the placement of 19th Dynasty forts make it impossible for Pelusium to exist). The 26th Dynasty, some six hundred years after the Ramessides, resettled some parts of the Ramesside buildings and built new ones. However, even in the case of Memphis the Velikovskyan chronology has been clearly shown to be wrong. The Temenos of Proteus could not have been Merenptah’s palace, since it was, in fact, covered over by, firstly, a bed of ash after a fire, and, secondly, five distinct occupational strata, including that of a foreign (Greek/Phoenician?) camp, the stratum of Ahmose II being the middle one, just below the Hellenistic and Roman strata.

4. Misunderstanding Hathor and Aphrodite (pg. 10)

Hathor was identified as Aphrodite by the Greeks, but the temple referred to is that of the “foreign Aphrodite”, that is, Ashtaroth. The foreign Aphrodite temple was probably established by the Phoenicians within an earlier temple (of Merenptah)? within the enclosure of Kom el Qam’a and has not been found.

It is quite dishonest to use old or misrepresented excavation reports on sites without destruction layers in order to do the factually impossible: make the 26th and 19th Dynasties the same. If Stewart had fully studied sites like Beth-Shean, Rehov or Megiddo -even Lachish would do- he would realize that Velikovskyan chronological revision is, despite all literary parallels, totally inconsistent with the physical evidence found in well-excavated sites in Palestine.

In any case, Stewart uses many irrelevant theological and doubtful etymological arguments along the way, whose validity I am not fit to question, however, I am sure that due to his general incompetence with details, and alternative explanations by real scholars, the majority of them have no basis in fact.

Pattern-Seeking: Ingeniousness and Stupidity

Or, “How Much Evidence Can One Ignore?”.

Velikovsky was ingenious. Avaris=el-Arish=City of Amalek? Ramses=Necho? Hatshepsut=Queen of Sheba? Jezreel=Gubla? Jerusalem=Thutmoside Kadesh? Carians=Hurrians? Carchemish=Ramesside Kadesh? All these false equations thought up by Velikovsky were ingenious. They are also spectacularly wrong. These identifications required Velikovsky to ignore mountains of evidence contrary to his thesis, yet, they had such seemingly powerful connections it was hard not to put them together. It is only on the degree of evidence one ignores one transforms from ingenious to stupid.

Penny Caldwell, for example, believed Saudi Arabia was part of the Promised Land, that the Israelites had no stop at Kadesh, that no pre-Israelite Arabian culture ever existed (why would anyone else attribute footprints found all over Arabia, but not in Jordan or the NE. Sinai to the Israelites?), that ANE massebot looked exactly the same as  Nabataean marble column remains, that Rephidim could have been Bethel (!!!), that Paul could have wrote Galatians at Sinai (he actually wrote it in 56 AD in Corinth) and that a C1 BC-C4 AD prayer to the goddess Lat was an Israelite inscription (see the newly added portion of Section 5 of AJaL entitled “Menorah”). This might have been the result of a combination of motive and pattern-seeking.
However, to ignore the biblical description of Bethel and the Wilderness Wanderings while thinking Arabia was part of the Promised Land (why then, was no Israelite except Joshua and Caleb never allowed to enter the promised land [Num 20:12]?), while stating opinions with such fervor certainly does mean that Jim and Penny Caldwell might suffer from extraordinarily bad reading comprehension, if not something more fundamental. Such bad reading comprehension and lack of common sense does translate quite well into stupidity.

While we must agree that the Caldwells show obvious signs of stupidity, at least regarding the Bible, the question is whether Velikovsky showed signs of stupidity. My conclusion is that he did, most clearly in the matter of astronomical history (see here, here, here, here, here, and here). His persistent belief in the idea that Venus almost crashed into the earth can only be sustained by pure stupidity. However, he, to a greater degree than the Caldwells, showed his ingeniousness quite well. However, his complete ignorance of archaeology does show beyond doubt Velikovsky was, while clearly ingenious, stupid. However, the Caldwells, through their lack of reading comprehension, have shown that they have far less mental capability (and far more emotion) than Velikovsky.

In short, it is one’s capability for ignoring evidence in theory formation that should be the true test of one’s stupidity. Sometimes, this stupidity can be mistaken for ingeniousness.

Dan’s bytdwd=City of David?

The Tel Dan Stele was probably erected by Hazael (if not him, who is the “ram son of…, King of Israel” in the stele, but Jehoram of Israel).

The “bytdwd” in the Tel Dan Stela (see Wikipedia) may have several interpretations; firstly, as a town or temple of a “beloved” (dwd) goddess, secondly, as “the House (dynasty) of David”-the most popular suggestion in both the popular and scholarly communities. George Athas thinks Dan stele’s “btdwd” refers not to the dynasty, but the city of David. However, since the City of David was not a royal capital, his suggestion is certainly wrong.

As far as I am concerned, there is, in the context of “I killed …iahu son of…….. bytdwd. and I set……..their land into………”, along with a highly likely mention of Jehoram in Line 7, who is, in 2 Kings 9, mentioned as being murdered along with Ahaziah, King of Judah, no reason no to disbelieve that “bytdwd” refers to anything but the House of David, and, as with the Assyrian usage of “House of Omri”, this implies David was known as the founder of the dynasty of Judah in at least the 830s BC.

Video Supporting Jebel al-Lawz Reaches a Million Views!

I am sad to announce that, on this very day, the most-viewed video supporting Jebel Maqla (blackened peak; falsely called al-Lawz) as Mount Sinai on YouTube has reached and surpassed one million views. It was posted less than a year before I began to investigate the claims of the Lawz proponents, and currently has 2661 likes, 787 dislikes. Dislike it folks! Read AJaL and help it get to the top of Page 2 on Google (It’s currently at the top of Page 3) when “jebel al lawz” is typed in! However, the results are looking pretty good, the top results being Wikipedia, Tentmaker, and Bryant Wood (biblearchaeology), the fourth result being Arkdiscovery.

Hector Avalos’s False Presumption (and other miscellaneous criticisms of a talk of his):

How does Hector Avalos get from “The Bible is completely irrelevant to the modern world” (true) to “therefore, biblical studies should end” (false)? He assumes that no one would study irrelevancies. This is, of course, a blatant falsehood. If his assumption is true, why not end all study of history and literature (actually, this is a good idea; it would save quite a bit of government money). He points out that Palestiniology began with the explicit purpose of identifying Biblical place-names, but of course, since the Bible was the only source on pre-exilic Palestine, and the primary source on post-exilic Palestine for those palestiniologists, they can easily be excused for not what we would today call “exercising sufficient historical caution”. Palestiniology was not primarily a result of Judeo-Christian apologetics at first (just read Edward Robinson’s book) until the late 19th-early 20th century, largely because the Tubingen/Wellehausen schools only originated after the great explorations of the Eastern Mediterranean. Before these explorations, there was simply no need for Christian apologetics, since everyone of any public importance in the West was Christian or had no basis on which to criticize the claims of the Old Testament after Genesis 11. There was only need to describe and further explain the geography of the Bible to the uneducated scholarly and popular public.

Some of Avalos’s other errors in this talk:

Avalos totally misrepresents (or lies about) the archaeology of Jerusalem during the 10th century. The statement there are “no proven remains from the 10th century in Jerusalem” is true, but only if he leaves the word “proven” in there. One can conceive a thriving City of David which was somehow was abandoned at the end of the 11th century and immediately restarted during the early 9th, yet, no scholar has ever proposed such an absurd scenario, since both Late Iron I and Iron IIa pottery is well represented in the City of David and there is not the least bit of evidence for abandonment during the 10th century. His statements about Solomon’s Temple are so utterly asinine that I could not possibly believe how Hector Avalos ever got a PhD in Biblical Studies. Simply put, no excavations have ever been done on the Square Temple Mount, there is excellent reason, both Biblical and archaeological, that a fort and temple existed there between the 10th and 6th centuries, and explorations around the Mount have revealed evidence that an 8th century fortified compound did exist there. No serious scholar supports Temple Denial, a product of nothing but pure anti-Judaic sentiment.

His statement we have no evidence for David and Solomon from their lifetimes is true, but irrelevant, since both probably had small kingdoms, and there is not the least bit of evidence for Omri and Ahab or Jehu from within their own kingdoms. His not mentioning the Tel Dan stele is simply inexcusable, just like not mentioning the Mesha Stele would for Omri and Ahab.

He overstates the case for the Low Chronology during his time, the only legitimate piece of evidence he tells us about is the Sharon/Boareatto report, which only came out in 2007.

He gets it totally wrong on Jesus, what “new evidence” is Avalos expecting here? Many 1st-century religious revolutionaries are only written about in Josephus and no other source. Christianity is lucky to have originated in a time of good textual preservation and be a popular religion-otherwise, Josephus would be the only source for Jesus’s existence (I find Neil Godfrey’s argument against Origen’s reliability unpersuasive)! Avalos’s blathering about late manuscripts makes it certain to my mind that Avalos is an idiot-what other kind of person could complain about having textual fragments from the NT before Christianity became a state religion? Our good friend Josephus for example, our best authority on the siege of Jerusalem, while quoted by several authors from the 2nd century onwards (and even then, in late manuscripts), is first known completely from manuscripts dating over 300 years after Josephus’s death! And this is for a relatively famous author on Palestine and the Jews! If we only count manuscripts dating to the authors’ lifetimes as legitimate, one might as well completely discard almost all Greek literature (Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Strabo, ect.)! This very statement of Avalos discredits almost everything he ever said relating to history before at least 2008 as legitimate information. In the reality, however, over half of textual interpolations are easy to spot, and a little under half of the rest are insignificant.

Hebron, Beersheba, and Biblical Dating

Hebron (Tel Rumeida) was inhabited as a Pre-Roman city of any size in four main periods: EB III, Middle Bronze IIB-C, Iron IIB-C, and the Hasmonean period. This fact is not all that useful for dating the Pentateuch, but it is important for dating the Deuteronomistic History. Joshua (21:13), for example, must be dated to the latter two periods, most likely Iron IIC, the commonly accepted date for its composition (the political geography of the land in Joshua, contra the Minimalists, does not resemble that of the Hellenistic period, but does have an uncanny resemblance to that of the Iron IIC). If Joshua goes, so does Judges and Samuel. Samuel is a more interesting case, however, since, while the Conquest was obviously nonhistorical, David’s rise to power seemingly has a far more solid historical basis. Yet, Hebron is mentioned numerous times in Samuel as a power center, even though it contained a relatively limited amount of Iron I pottery and yielded no building remains. This shows that even the Davidic narratives were highly fictionalized and perserve much late among with early tradition. Most of the Chronicles accounts are copied from Samuel, and, therefore, are hardly datable. There last reference is from the Hasmonean period.