4.0141 Foreskins (1/56)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 29 May 90 18:31:18 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0141. Tuesday, 29 May 1990.

Date: Mon, 28 May 90 18:41:42 -0200
From: onomata@bengus (nissan ephraim)
Subject: [...] Philistine synecdoche?

Dear Humanists, dear Roy Flannagan, eureka.

Concerning Humanist 4.0071 (17 May 1990), here is what I found on p. 196,
note 66 of the Hebrew book "The Sea Peoples in the Bible" by Othniel
Margalith (Dvir, Tel-Aviv, 1988).

The point is: the Egyptians used to gather the foreskins of dead enemies,
but if they were circumcised, seemingly this motivated them to gather
cut hands, instead. In particular, this applies to the invasion of the
Sea Peoples, who included, it seems, uncircumcised groups (like the
Philistines from the Bible) and circumcised groups.

I disagree with Margalith's book on several accounts. Its estimation of
the Aegean cultural survival in the Land of Canaan reacts to its
underestimation in mainstream research, due to the absence of deciphered
inscriptions, but Margalith's enthusiasm leads him to an overestimate,
based on arguments that often are weak, albeit the book is a mine of
interesting details, data or sometimes more convincing intuitions.

Here is what we need. The text refers to the Egyptians defeating
the invading Sea Peoples. We quote from Margalith's note (as translated
from Hebrew):

Breadstead, Records, III, p. 247, note h, brought my attention
to the fact that from inscriptions it is unclear what were the
countries of origin of the invaders. Moreover, from the
inscription in Karnak it is not clear any more what is the
connection between the hands cut off and the uncircumcised
male organ: line 54 states "Ekwesh who had no foreskin
[=i.e, were circumcised] whose hands were carried off [for]
they had no foreskin." By the way, "[for]" is reconstructed
hypothetically. Then, the causal link "their hands were cut
[because] they were circumcised" is just based on a
hypothetical reconstruction. If the context is correct,
then according to line 53 also the Shekelesh and the Teresh
were also circumcised, and their hands, too, were cut, and then
we would have to accept the conclusion that many of the Sea
Peoples, not just the Ekwesh were circumcised.

Then, in his note, Margalith quotes definite or tentative opinions of
some authors about certain peoples involved being uncircumcised.
Margalith's book, in the passage that refers to the note, tries to
identify the _
of Genesis with the Achaeans. Elsewhere, he identifies the Israelite
tribe of Dan with the... Danaoi from Homer (!!!), claiming they had
assimilated to the Philistines, and moreover could have taken part
to the War of Troy along with other Sea Peoples; Samson, the hero
of the Danites, would have been... Heracles. (Relata refero!)

Of course, Milton, whom Flannagan's query mainly concerned, was unaware
of anything which is not explicitly stated in the (translated) Bible,
and he may well have used a synecdoche.

Ephraim Nissan onomata@bengus

[...] eds