Monday, October 27, 2014

Alexander The Great and Candace of Meroe

As someone who's been fascinated by Alexander The Great since I was very young, one of the most fun parts of the third volume of Ages in Chaos (Peoples of The Sea) for me is the material on Alexander The Great.

I agree entirely that the so called 21st Dynasty should be placed during the transition from the Persian to Hellenistic periods.  And that the The Maunier Stela is depicting Alexander's visit to the Siwa Oasis.  As I've said before the Specialtyinterests site is informative but also has ideas I disagree with.  (And now that site is gone entirely, meaning I have to find a new online summery of the argument).

I'm also very fascinated by Velikovsky questioning the traditional assumption that Alexander never traveled further South then Siwa.  He points out how the amount of time Alexander spent in Egypt (half a year, from fall of 332 to spring of 331 BC) seems absurd if he only ever visited three places.  And that travelling to Thebes down the Nile would be a much quicker and easier journey then the travel to Siwa through the Desert was.

He cites Curtius referring to how Alexander had a strong inclination to see Thebes and Ethiopia.  Alexander generally did whatever he felt compelled to do, Bible Prophecy says of him that he will "do According to his Will" Daniel 11:3.

There is even a possible piece of evidence for Alexander going to Thebes that Velikovsky overlooked.  In Josephus, Antiquities of The Jews, Book 11, Chapter 8, Section 6.  While dealing with Alexander's interaction with the Samaritans, at the end he says "And in this manner he took leave of the Shechenlites; but ordered that the troops of Sanballat should follow him into Egypt, because there he designed to give them lands, which he did a little after in Thebais, when he ordered them to guard that country. "

So his going into evidence from the 21st Dynasty information for Alexander going to Thebes is very interesting.  I have thought of another piece of the puzzle however.  Curtius also said Alexander wanted to see Ethiopia.  

So the idea entered my mind that maybe the Alexander Romance legend of Candace of Meroe has more historical basis then we thought.  The Legend says she defeated Alexander.  Maybe that's exactly why the main Classical Greeco-Roman historians are silent on his going further south.  They wanted to censor that this modern mythical Hero they're Deifying did have a defeat.

And indeed the quote on the Stele Velikovsky sites as referring to "his majesty" going to Thebes also refers to him seeking to defeat enemies.

The first known historically confirmed ruling Queen/Kandake of Nubia is much later then Alexander's time, Shanakdakhete (177 BC–155 BC) who was interestingly contemporary with the Hasmonean revolt.  But the word Kandake was affiliated with all Nubian Queens.

From Nubian records it seems that Nastaden was king at the time Alexander took Egypt. He reigned from 335 BC to 315 or 310 BC.  Nubian records do say he thwarted an attempted invasion of Nubia by a King of Upper Egypt refereed to as Kambasuten.  That there was a failed conquest of Nubia from Egypt during this period is usually not mentioned when historians write off the Candace of Meroe legend.

Kambasuten is usually identified with Khabash, a native king of Egypt who rebelled against The Persians just before Alexander came to Egypt.  Alexander and his successors kept him around, he was given the throne name of Senen-setep-en-Ptah in a decree by Ptolemy I

 Kambasuten could have been a name given to Alexander.  Or Maybe Khabash accompanied Alexander on his attempted campaign against Nubia.

As for why a Queen is mentioned in the Romance?  The oldest written account we have is from the 3rd Century AD.  So it could have been influenced by the Greeco-Roman world's experiences with later Kandakes they interacted with.  Most of our surviving Alexander Romance texts come through Christina scribes, so they may have wanted to connect Alexander to Acts 8.

We do know however that Nastasen had both a wife and a mother who were Queens.  The Dongola Stela names them both, implying his mother was still around during some of his reign.  His mother was Queen Pelkha and his wife was Queen Sakhmakh.

Some versions of the romance however separate his encounter with the Queen from the attempted conquest of Ethiopia.  His brief Romance with Candace is placed not during the time he was in Egypt but after his conquests when he is in Babylon, she comes to Babylon to visit him.  So there remains a lot of confusion.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Delilah was an Israelite not a Philistine

Traditionally it is assumed that Delilah was another Pagan Philistine woman that Samson got involved with.  In fact The Bible never says that.

Samson had two earlier relationships with Philistine women, the one he married early on, and the harlot in Gaza at the start of chapter 16.  Neither of them are named, in fact I don't think any male Philistine characters are named at any-point in the Samson narrative either.  But Delilah has a name.  Critics of The Bible starting with the assumption that we're supposed to think of Delilah as a Philistine like to point out that her name isn't a Philistine name.

It seems in fact perfectly Hebrew deriving from the Hebrew word for night Layil (Strong number 3915, the same root as Lilith interestingly) and/or Dalah (Strong number 1809) meaning to fail, to bring low or to empty, from which the Strongs interprets the name Delilah to mean "languishing".  It's similar to Strong number 1808 Daliah which means branch.

She's from a valley (not a city) called Sorek.  This location is never mentioned (not by the same name at least) again in Scripture.  We have no solid geographical clues to it's location.  Which means I'm inclined to be skeptical of the archeological site traditional identified with Sorek.  All we do know is the last place Samson was before coming here was Hebron, which is in the heart of Judah.

I think Samson went to Gaza to sow his wild oats, but after that his thing for Philistine women was done.

In the movies Delilah is always sent to seduce Samson from the start.  In The Bible it's not like that, the Philistines come to her after they've been involved for awhile.

The amount of Silver paid is debated.  Is it really 1100 pieces from each lord as the KJV translation clearly leads us to assume?  Or is that the total they all pulled together?  I don't know, either way works fine for me.

It's interesting that again we see betrayal linked with being paid in Silver, just like Judas with Jesus and Judah with Joseph.

I mentioned in an earlier post how there is disagreement of if Judges 17-18 actually follows 16.  Now I believe they do follow 16.

Judges 17 begins with a story involving Micah's mother having 1100 shekels of Silver, the exact same amount Delilah was paid (either once or multiple times).  I don't think that's a coincidence, I think this is Delilah.

Others who've noticed that possible connection then assume Samson is Micah's father, but I don't think so.  Judges tends to note when a key character it's following is conceived out of wedlock, and Samson and Delilah were never married.  Also, if Samson was his father Micah would be a Danite, and in chapter 18 Micah doesn't think of the Danites as his kin.  But maybe I'm wrong and he is the son of Samson.

Maybe she married someone afterwards, or perhaps she was a widow when she and Samson began their relationship.  Which leads back to my thoughts on our common assumptions, that Samson's relationship with Delilah was bad to begin with.  The text of Judges doesn't to me seem to say that, Evil enters the relationship when The Philistines bribed Delilah.

The notion that all Sex outside marriage is a Sin isn't Biblical.  The Law of Moses only addresses adultery, virginity, and prostitution (what Fornication meant in 1611).  Nothing at all says it'd be wrong for a Man and a Widow to have an extra martial relationship.

Micah's never called an Ephraimite, they're just living in Ephraim when Judges 17 happens.  They could be from Judah originally.

Basically, the whole narrative of Samson subverts expectations in a way.  He's kind of a failed Messianic Archetype.  The reader judges his foolishness in those relationships with Philistine women.  But then we learn an Israelite woman can be a traitor too.  In fact Delilah didn't have also being threatened as Samson's Philistine Wife did to make her more sympathetic, she was just paid the money.