The Joshua 15 Districts

In here, I shall look at the text of Joshua 15, describing the inheritance of the tribe of Judah. I have already looked at the Negev. The towns whose locations are known are highlighted in bold italics. It has been well known and agreed from the days of Alt that the lists of Joshua date to between 623 and 609 BC (any other dates would create absurdities).

33 In the Shephelah:

Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah, 34 Zanoah, En Gannim, Tappuah, Enam, 35 Jarmuth, Adullam, Socoh, Azekah, 36 Shaaraim, Adithaim and Gederahfourteen towns and their villages.

-This district (“Azekah”) is a fairly sizeable, encompassing both the Elah valley and Eshatol regions. Its borders can be fairly well determined, as can the timescale (Beth-Shemesh is not mentioned). Beth-Shemesh was settled lightly in the 7th century BC, when this list was composed, and it might have belonged to either Ekron or Judah.

37 Zenan, Hadashah, Migdal Gad, 38 Dilean, Mizpah, Joktheel, 39 Lachish, Bozkath, Eglon, 40 Kabbon, Lahmas, Kitlish, 41 Gederoth, Beth Dagon, Naamah and Makkedah—sixteen towns and their villages.

-This district (“Lachish”) is a very curious one. Only Lachish (Tell ed Duweir) is certain, and, possibly, Makkedah (from Eusebius’s Onomasticon, apparently Khirbet el-‘Qom). Eglon is not Tell el-Hesi, but rather either Tel ‘Erani or Tel Nagila. A good archaeological survey for 7th century sites in the area south of Lachish needs to be seen for any of the above sites to be identified. The district’s north border is that of the next one, and its south border is that of the Negev.

42 Libnah, Ether, Ashan, 43 Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib, 44 Keilah, Achzib and Mareshahnine towns and their villages.

-Since Mareshah is on the road from Lachish, and Keilah is on the road from Mareshah, we can be sure that this district (“Mareshah”) extends to Tel Burna. Ether is Khirbet el-‘Ater, 31°37’2″N, 34°52’58″E. Keilah is the mound at Qilla. Nezib is Khirbet Beit Nesib, a mile (not more) south of Keilah. Achzib may be Khirbet el-Beidah, 31°38’32″N, 34°57’9″E. Libnah may be identified with Tel Burna, since Tel Goded did not seem to reveal fortifications from the Hezekian era, nor did it seem to be inhabited in the 7th century. Idhna may be identified with either Iphtah or Ashnah.

45 Ekron, with its surrounding settlements and villages; 46 west of Ekron, all that were in the vicinity of Ashdod, together with their villages; 47 Ashdod, its surrounding settlements and villages; and Gaza, its settlements and villages, as far as the Brook of Egypt and the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea.

-Ashkelon is not mentioned due to its having almost no surrounding villages (though it did have some) and Gath being unoccupied in the 7th century. Ashdod was a remnant of an Assyrian province, ruled from present-day Ashdod-Yam, Gaza probably gained back the territory owned by Assyria by the time this was written, and Ekron was the most powerful kingdom.

48 In the hill country:

Shamir, Jattir, Socoh, 49 Dannah, Kiriath Sannah (that is, Debir), 50 Anab, Eshtemoa, Anim, 51 Goshen, Holon and Giloh—eleven towns and their villages.

This district (“Eshtemoa”) includes Shamir/el-Bireh, Jattir (Khirbet Yatir, 31°20’35″N,35° 1’39″E), Debir/Rabud, Anab at Khirbet Anab es-Seghireh, 31°24’44″N, 34°57’16″E, Eshtemoa at Samu’a, and the two Anims being on the NE and SW sides of Shani-Livne.

52 Arab, Dumah, Eshan, 53 Janim, Beth Tappuah, Aphekah, 54 Humtah, Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) and Ziornine towns and their villages.

Beth-Tappuah is Tapuah, Ziot is Si’ir. Hebron is Tel Rumeidah. Arab may be al-‘Arub, near Bayt Fajar.

55 Maon, Carmel, Ziph, Juttah, 56 Jezreel, Jokdeam, Zanoah, 57 Kain, Gibeah and Timnah—ten towns and their villages.

Maon, Carmel, Juttah, and Ziph are well identified with the present-day villages of the same names.

58 Halhul, Beth Zur, Gedor, 59 Maarath, Beth Anoth and Eltekon—six towns and their villages.

Halhul, Beth-Zur, and Gedor have kept their identification well. Beth Anoth may be Bayt Ula (if Zior is Si’ir, Bayt Anun is an implausible candidate), Maarath may be Bayt Umar or Marah al-Baqr, Eltekon may be Umm ‘Allas. There is also a Khirbet el-Hubeila with Iron IIC remains just NE of Bat Ayin.

The district of Bethlehem and Tekoa, preserved only in the Septuagint, should also be mentioned.

It reads as thus: Tekoa, Ephrathah which is Bethlehem, Peor, Etam, Koulon, Tatam, Zobah, Karem, Gallim, Bether, and Manahath-11 cities and their villages.

Etam is just south of the cisterns south of el-Khadr, Manahath may be on the north side of modern Manahat, Peor is Khirbet Faghur half a mile ESE of modern Rosh Tsurim, Karem is modern ‘Ayn Karim/Ein Kerem, Bethlehem is Bethlehem, Bether is the mound just north of modern Batir, Zobah is less than half a mile east of modern Tsuba, and has the Castle Belmont at its top.

60 Kiriath Baal (that is, Kiriath Jearim) and Rabbah—two towns and their villages.

-Kiriath Jeraim is at 31°48’9″N, 35° 5’48″E . Rabbah is almost certainly not Aharoni’s Khirbet Bir el-Hilu, near Aijalon, apparently a part of Dan (=Ekron). Rabbah is most likely one of the hills east of Kiriath-Jeraim. This district was probably an attempt by the author to accommodate both the tribal and administrative boundaries of the kingdom of Judah.

61 In the wilderness:

Beth Arabah, Middin, Secacah, 62 Nibshan, the City of Salt and En Gedisix towns and their villages.

-Beth Arabah is (was?) near the pools at 31°50’46″N, 35°29’40″E, En Gedi is En Gedi, on the north side of the wadi. The rest are some combination of sites in the Judean Buqei’a (Khirbet Abu Tabaq (31°44’30″N, 35°24’23″E), Khirbet es-Samrah (31°43’1″N, 35°23’31″E) and Khirbet el-Maqari (31°41’57″N, 35°22’57″E)) along with Qumran, ‘Ain Ghuweir, and ‘Ain Feshkha. The sites have already been discovered, it’s just up to the observer to identify them!


Picture of the Day: Tell el-Hesi

The greater red area is the EB III city, the light blue lines are roads, the smallest red area is the one excavated by Bliss in 1891, and the medium-sized red area is the (pre-Assyrian) Iron IIB fortress-city. The Assyrian building was in Field I.


The name “Nimrod” is mentioned in Genesis 10:8-12 and Micah 5:6. The latter mentions Assyria as “the land of Nimrod”, and was clearly written during the time when the destruction of Lachish was still a fresh memory in the minds of Judahites. Due to the Micah reference, it may have been so that Nimrod is either a corruption of “Nineveh” or “Ninurta”. Ninurta was a warrior, which would argue for a connection of him with the The word is corrupted so as to make the name mean roughly “let us rebel”. According to Genesis 10:10-11, Nimrod began his conquests with Babylon, Uruk, Akkad, and Calneh (possibly Cuthah). This list probably reflects an early 1st milennium BC reality (Isin and Larsa are not mentioned; neither are Ur(im) or Lagash). Since Cush is mentioned as being the father of Nimrod, Nimrod might be loosely based on Sargon of Akkad.

So, it is likely that Nimrod originated in the early 1st milennium BC (8th-5th centuries) as a corruption of Ninurta with some element of Sargon of Akkad.

Why Gunnar Heinsohn Does Not Understand Stratigraphy

Stratigraphy is very important for understanding the history of Earth, from its beginning to the present. However, elementary mistakes can be made by those who have no training in its field. Let us then write the rules of stratigraphy, which Gunnar Heinsohn clearly does not understand.

1. Rates of stratigraphic deposition are not constant, and may be reversed. A corollary of this rule is that stratigraphic gaps do not necessarily indicate a gap in sediment deposition, though, in archaeology, a lack of artifacts does indicate a lack of occupation. Another corollary of this rule that gaps in sediment accumulation can occur.  For example, Tell el-Hesi (the first tell excavated in Palestine) only gained four feet of sediment between c. 300 BC and 1891. Roughly the same amount of ash and lime was deposited within two hundred years (between the Amarna era and that of Ramesses III). Some billion years are missing from the exposed strata in the Grand Canyon. At Jericho, the Early Bronze strata are the first ones found on top of the tell, even though settlement continued on and off into the Persian period. Sediment deposition rates may depend on environment, construction, stratigraphic composition, and climate.

2. Dateable remains (such as pottery, fossils, and other objects) within strata often date them better than anything else. These remains are either dated by the historical dates of strata (these can sometimes be determined by coins, scarabs, foreign pottery, cuneiform tablets, ect.).

3. The exception to Rule 2 is that contexts must be secure; for example, an MB Cuneiform tablet was found at Hazor in an Iron Age room, and, even more prominently, the fact the largest portion of lmlk impressions at Lachish, originating from stratum III, destroyed by Sennacherib in 701 BC, have been found on the surface, and some have been found in the Perso-Hellenistic (I) and the Iron IIC (II) stratum.

4. Physical dating methods are to be used only when historical dating cannot establish an absolute date and when contexts are certain.

For more criticism of Gunnar Heisohn’s bullshit, see the “Jerusalem” and “Chronology” pages of this blog. Also, see the previous post.

The Ultimate Conflater

Gunnar Heinsohn is a man who believes the Indus civilization, the Achaemenid Empire, the Babylonian Empire, and the Assyrian Empire were all the same thing. All by argument from artificial silence. Needless to say, everything original Heisohn has said in regards to ancient and prehistoric history is pure horseshit, so easily refutable as to require only a brief glance at my “Chronology” page and a little common sense to understand why it is so. Some of these arguments are based on outright lies (“ Nobody understands how this brilliant people, which blossomed between the time of Ninos (-750) and Alexander the Great (-330), which became the teacher of nations but left no deity, text, brick or even potsherd.“, “Mainstream scholars are in the process of deleting Ancient Israel from history books. The entire period from Abraham the Patriarch in the -21st century (fundamentalist date) to the flowering of the Divided Kingdom in the -9th century (fundamentalist date) is found missing in the archaeological record. The period from the -9th to the -6th century (fundamentalist dates) is bewildering, for a different reason. The corresponding strata are found immediately below Hellenism of -300. Moreover, there are no windblown layers between Hellenistic strata of -300 and Israel/Judah strata of 700/-600, and the material culture (architecture, artifacts, ceramics etc. ) between -600 and -300 is clearly continuous. From an unbiased stratigraphical point of view, therefore, what now is fundamentalistically dated -900 to -600 requires a hard evidence chronology of -600 to -300. Yet, if the strata now dated – 900 to -600 in biblical years are changed to -600 to -300 in evidence based years, Israel’s entire biblical history from -2100 to -600 is lost. Statements like “historical Israel remained as elusive as ever”, therefore, dominate the most ‘advanced’ level of Bible research (T. L. Thompson, Early History of the Israelite People, Leiden, 1992, p. 27).“), but all on such utter face-palming, unfathomable idiocy that it destroys almost totally the need for the satirist and the comedian (curiously enough, Heinsohn is ingenious when it comes to modern-day demographics). Since such idiocy would only be predicted in their works, but it is clear, indeed, certain, that all ideas which could ever be held by the mind of man have or will be so.

Thus, I shall propose the next set of ideas which will be held by someone, probably within the next century, and probably by one who is either a Gene Ray-style crank (poor reading comprehension, good physical observation skills), someone like Velikovsky (good reading comprehension, awful physical observation skills), or, as in Heisohn’s case, someone who sets arbitrary standards and fulfills them with equally arbitrary conclusions.

Firstly, the world wars shall be combined, since having two massive-scale European wars only thirty years apart is simply implausible. The Soviet Union and China may be imagined as one (both Communist, both too large for their own good) with a different ethnic composition. Lincoln and Kennedy are, by any reasonable standard, alter-egos for each other, and Andrew Johnson would be a crude caricature of Lyndon, with all Andrew Johnson’s achievements being ascribed to Andrew Jackson, with James Polk being declared a general under his presidency. Thomas Jefferson’s presidency would be eliminated from history, he clearly being a noble, and Madison being Secretary of State throughout his career, the War of 1812 being assigned to John Adams, Quincy’s term being the same as Buchanan’s coming right before Lincoln/Kennedy’s. George Washington would be considered a symbol of American Democracy during its founding period, loosely based on a general of the same name. As for the late 20th century presidents; they could easily be linked to the equally unimpressive late 19th century presidents, Nixon being correlated with Grant, Ford with Rutherford, Carter with Arthur, Cleveland with Regan, Harrison with the elder Bush, and Clinton being McKinley combined with shades of Cleveland by Republican scribes. Roosevelt and Bush W. would become clear alter-egos for the same man, and Obama might be correlated with Taft.

Hell, I’m even beginning to think I’m right about somebody accepting this idea as fact!

Shoshenq I’s Purposes for His Campaign(s)

Several months ago, I proposed that the purposes of Shoshenq’s Palestinian campaign(s) were to take over strategic settlements on trade routes and turn them into fortresses for their use as tax-collection centers for the kings ruling these fortresses and, of course, his kingdom. I find this option unlikely, since Palestine could not, by Shoshenq’s time have an established statehood to build fortresses. However, Shoshenq could set up a framework for such an activity, which would certainly not mature in his time.

To help us find out the purposes of Shoshenq’s campaign, we must first know the areas which his campaign visited. There were four main areas to which Shoshenq I campaigned:

1. The Tulkarm-Megiddo-Taanach-Rehob-Hapharaim crescent. (#s 14-18, 27-38)

2. Benjamin (#s 23-26, 57)

3. The Jabbok area and Tirzah  (#s 22, 53-6, 59)

4. The Negev and North Sinai (#s 66-150)

The archaeological evidence shows clearly that Benjamin (Gibeon, et-Tell, and some single period sites) was severely negatively affected by this campaign, Gibeon being desolated. This was probably also so for the Jabbok area, and was likely due to the destruction of a rebellious Saulide polity. Tirzah should probably be excluded from this punitive action, since it was likely a tribute-paying city-state, no part of Samaria proper besides Tirzah being mentioned throughout the list.

The Jezreel Valley and the Negev, meanwhile, show not a single sign of discontinuity. The reason for the fact the Negev is mentioned in the list is clear: The chiefdom of Tel Masos, functioning by producing copper from Khirbet en-Nahas, Punon, and places even farther beyond, by way of the Mampsis road, was a polity any aspiring Egyptian ruler would control and protect. However, why was the Jezreel Valley and the cities of the Aruna road campaigned to (and it was campaigned to-a stele fragment of Shoshenq’s was found at Megiddo). The reasons for a campaign to the Jezreel Valley, whose Canaanite city-states were already broken in the early-to-mid 10th century, possibly by the Saulide polity, possibly by groups of Israelite chiefdoms, are obscure, at best. Perhaps it was for the putting down of a revolt of these regions from an Egyptian-friendly Hill-Country polity, perhaps it was a commemoration of the accomplishments of Shoshenq’s predecessors. We will, perhaps, never know the true reason for the Jezreel campaign.