Damien F. Mackey
Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky put forward the novel thesis in his Ages in Chaos I (1952) that the Hyksos people who invaded Egypt were – in a chronologically revised scenario – the biblical Amalekites with whom the Moses-led Israelites had had to contend.
This identification of the Hyksos as the Amalekites has been a popular one amongst revisionists, despite their disagreements over other aspects of Velikovsky’s revision.
Early in the peace I had tended to fall in line with Dr. Velikovsky’s identification of the Hyksos with the Amalekites. It seemed to be one area of his Ages in Chaos about which revisionists of varying persuasions had seemed to concur. However I, in the course of writing my thesis:
A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah
and its Background
had begun to wonder if the Amalekites, a desert tribe, could actually suffice to represent, by themselves, the mighty Hyksos power.
I simply give here my musings on the subject, taken from Volume One, Chapter 2 of my thesis (without references), beginning on p. 43:
[David] Rohl has proposed an alliance between these ‘Indo-Europeans’ and the Hurrians: ….
These foreign settlers were Indo-Europeans – in other words speakers of an Indo-European language rather than Semites. They came from the north, landing near the city of Ugarit before setting off on their march south towards Egypt, their fleet moving down the coast in support of the land army. During the first stage of this military migration, the largest tribal group of the Caphtorim confederacy – the Pelasts (known in the later Greek literature as Pelasgoi from an original Pelastoi) – had allied themselves with another group of migrants from the Zagros mountains known as the Hurrians.
In later years the Egyptians would refer to Syria as Hurri-land (or Kharu) after the new settlers in the region, whereas the Bible calls the allies of the Philistines
‘Horites’. In the Classical period, the Greeks knew them as the Kares (Carians).
Velikovsky too had, in a detailed discussion, argued for an identification of the enigmatic Hurrians with the Carians. ….
Together the two allies from the north virtually took over the territories which the Israelites (who were still contained within the hill country) had failed to occupy. They massacred the indigenous ethnic population known in the biblical text as the Avvim and even came to rule over the Aamu/Amalekites of the Egyptian delta. These élite Indo-European rulers founded both the ‘Greater Hyksos’ Dynasty at Avaris and the kingdom of Mitanni beyond the Euphrates river. The latter would be a powerful political and military force in the region during the Late Bronze I period when they at first became the principal enemy and then subsequently (during LB II-A) the main political ally of the Egyptian 18th-Dynasty pharaohs.
[End of quote]
Rohl has raised here a series of thought-provoking points. His view that the Hurrians
were the ‘founders of the kingdom of Mitanni’ seems to concur with the testimony of
both Grimal and van de Mieroop, who refer to Mitanni as a “Hurrian” entity.
According to Grimal, for instance: … “Mitanni is the name of the Hurrian civilization
which was contemporary with the Kassites in Babylonia”. Van de Mieroop tells that the “rulers of Mittani, the Hurrian state in northern Syria, bore Indo-European names and their charioteers were designated with the word mariyannu, a term that might include the Vedic word for “young man”.” …. Van de Mieroop has also attempted to explain here the connection between the Hurrians and the ‘Indo-Europeans’:
These [Hurrian] immigrants probably brought some cultural elements we usually associate with Indo-Europeans, even if Hurrian itself is not an Indo-European language. Later Hurrians honored the Indian gods Mitra, Varuna, and the divine pair Nasatya [and Indra]. There has been much speculation as to whether the Hurrians themselves were subjected to an Indo-European military upper-class: later rulers of Mittani, the Hurrian state in northern Syria bore Indo-European names …. The evidence is inconclusive as to the character of the military class, however, and it seems best to regard its members as men with a special training for warfare.
Perhaps it may be time to reconsider an earlier view that the new bichrome ware pottery that we have been discussing was Hurrian in origin. …. The Philistines would then be a part of the Hurrian polity. I should also like to see reconsidered the equation between the Hurrians and the Habiru (or Hapiru), referred to e.g. in the EA letters, given that I shall be arguing, in Chapter 4 (pp. 109-111), that Philistines were among the Habiru (Egyptian `PR.W) ‘rebels’ of EA. The Tikunani Prism, conventionally dated to c. 1550 BC, lists the names of 438 Habiru soldiers or servants of king Tunip-Teššub of Tikunani, a small citystate in central Mesopotamia. The majority of these names are typically Hurrian…..
Rohl has also, above, made the fascinating suggestion that these foreigners were the founders of the ‘Greater Hyksos’ Dynasty, though apparently continuing to preserve the Velikovskian connection between (at least the broader) Hyksos/Amu and the Amalekites. But, given the view of Courville and Bimson, that the incursion of the ‘Indo-Europeans’ coincided approximately with the Exodus/Conquest – rather than Rohl’s estimation of its coincidence with a later biblical period – is it not now logical to consider the entire Hyksos invasion of Egypt, from its very beginning, as being the overflow of this new people into Palestine and Egypt? According to Keller: … “ “… rulers of foreign lands”. That is the meaning of the name Hyksos”. What better description for this new people? Moreover, Keller quotes Manetho in regard to the Hyksos as follows: “Unexpectedly from the regions of the East, came men of unknown race. Confident of victory they marched against our land. By force they took it, easily, without a single battle”. Likewise, Ramses III will later refer to the confident attitude of the ‘Sea Peoples’: …. “Their hearts were high and their confidence in themselves was supreme: ‘Our plans will succeed’.” According to Keller: …. “The reliefs at Medinet Habu indicate … the faces of the Biblical Philistines. … The tall slim figures are about a head higher than the Egyptians”. (See Figure 2, p. 50).
In the case of this second wave of ‘Indo-Europeans’ though, at the time of Ramses III, the attempted invasion was not successful; even though this people too had come fully confident of victory.
Manetho would not likely perhaps have referred to the indigenous Amalekites as “men of unknown race”; but he might well have said this of the first wave of ‘Indo-Europeans’. It is quite possible, however, that the Amalekites had allied themselves to this formidable host of invaders and had thereby become partners in the conquest of Egypt; just as indigenous Philistines would no doubt later have been caught up in the relentless southward movement of the ‘Sea Peoples’. Indeed one finds, late in the reign of Saul, Philistines and Amalekites apparently acting as allies against Israel (1 Samuel 30 and 31; 2 Samuel 1:1-16).
Rohl has provided archaeological evidence – for approximately the same era of MB
(towards the end of MB II B) in which Bimson had dated the beginning of Hyksos rule
(MB II C) – for the appearance of the new pottery type at ancient Avaris in Egypt. It makes sense, then, to connect the Hyksos – at least in part – with the first wave of ‘Indo-European’ invaders. …. Bimson has grappled with trying to distinguish between what might have been archaeological evidence for the Philistines and evidence for the Hyksos, though in actual fact it may be fruitless to try to discern a clear distinction in this case. Thus he writes: ….
Finds at Tell el-Ajjul, in the Philistine plain, about 5 miles SW of Gaza, present a particularly interesting situation. As I have shown elsewhere, the “Palace I” city (City III) at Tell el-Ajjul was destroyed at the end of the MBA, the following
phase of occupation (City II) belonging to LB I …. There is some uncertainty as
to exactly when bichrome ware first appeared at Tell el-Ajjul. Fragments have been found in the courtyard area of Palace I, but some writers suggest that this
area remained in use into the period of Palace II, and that the bichrome ware should therefore be regarded as intrusive in the Palace I level ….
It seems feasible to suggest that the invading Philistines were responsible for the destruction of City III, though it is also possible that its destruction was the work of Amalekites occupying the Negeb (where we find them settled a short while after the Exodus; cf. Num. 13:29); in view of Velikovsky’s identification of the biblical Amalekites with the Hyksos … the Amalekite occupation of the Negeb could plausibly be dated, like the Hyksos invasion of Egypt, to roughly the time of the Exodus …. But if our arguments have been correct thus far, the evidence of the bichrome ware favours the Philistines as the newcomers to the site, and as the builders of City II.
Part Two: In the Bible?
Damien F. Mackey
A correspondent has asked:
“So what do you think happened to ruined, leaderless, denuded Egypt immediately after the Exodus? Surely opportunistic ‘neighbours’ would have quickly worked out there was an opening for looting and an easier life… There is no biblical note of any population migrating N-S through Canaan/Sinai into Egypt while the Israelites were in the Sinai-Negev. When did this happen? (the Hurrians etc) In biblical times or not?”
Testimony of Prophet Amos
Continuing on with sections from my university thesis on the subject,
A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah
and its Background
(Volume One, Chapter 2, pp. 32-43) I wrote, beginning with a quote from Dr. D. Courville:
- The Philistines in Early Scripture
According to the table of nations as given in Genesis 10, the Philistines are the descendants of Philistim in the line of Casluhim, son of Mizraim, ancestor of the Egyptians. Since the Philistines are stated to have come from Caphtor, which is undoubtedly correctly identified as Crete, they would certainly be closely related to the Caphtorims, who are also of the line of Mizraim and who, from their name, also must have settled in Crete (Caphtor) and have given the island its ancient name.
Courville is here following the general view that ‘Caphtor’ refers to Crete. Bimson has
noted, though, that this view has its critics: ….
According to Jeremiah 47:4 and Amos 9:7, the original home of the Philistines
was the island of Caphtor (hence their designation as Caphtorim). Caphtor of the scriptures, along with Keftiu of Egyptian sources, is usually identified with Crete, though this view has not been without its critics. For example, J. C. GREENFIELD comments: “… There is no evidence for a Philistine occupation of Crete, nor do the facts about the Philistines, known from archaeological and literary sources, betray any relationship between them and Crete”. …. Greenfield suggests that perhaps Caphtor was a term used very broadly for the Aegean area.
Bimson himself, at least in 1978, preferred Velikovsky’s view … that Caphtor was Cyprus: … “It also seems that Keftiu of Egyptian sources is Cyprus, in spite of the many claims that it is Crete, based on a misinterpretation of the literary and pictorial evidence”. Certainly Cyprus was an island of great geographical importance in relation to southern Anatolia and Phoenicia. However, I think that the standard view, that Caphtor was Crete, is the correct one, and that one can in fact trace an archaeological trail for the Philistines right back to Crete.
Scripture records the presence of the Philistines in the territory just to the south of Palestine from the time of Abraham. At this time, they may not have comprised a vast population, but neither were they an insignificant people, since they had a king over them (Abimelech) and his people (armies) are referred to as a host. At the time of the Exodus, the Philistines continued to occupy this same territory, as evidenced by the routing of the escaping Israelites to avoid passing through Philistine territory, though this was the more direct route.
Courville continues on, to a consideration of:
- The Philistines in Scripture for the Post-Exodus Period
The Philistines appear as a fully settled and organized people in the area south of Palestine at the time of the conquest under Joshua. At that time, the people were ruled by five lords or kings, each ruling over a city state. They also appear among the oppressors of Israel during the period of the Judges; the earliest mention is at the time of Shamgar.
This Shamgar, according to Bright, “was not even an Israelite”. And Bright refers to various sources in regard to “this enigmatic figure”, whose name, he says, “appears to be Hurrian”….. Bright has also suggested here a possible connection between the biblical Sisera (of the same approximate era of the Judges as Shamgar) and “Aegean elements” related to the Sea Peoples.
“Even at this time”, Courville continues, “the Philistines were evidently not a vast population, since the slaughter of 600 of them is represented as a significant victory”. He then proceeds on to discuss the Philistines in relation to Israel’s monarchy, including the reign of Hezekiah: ….
After an interval of somewhat less than 300 years, the Philistines had become sufficiently powerful to dominate the Israelites, at least locally. From this time on through the era of the monarchy, we find periodic mention of the Philistines, who continue to occupy territory on the southern border of Israel; at times they are even within Israelite territory. That their power was intermittently broken is
indicated by the stated results of the wars with the Israelites at the time of Samuel, at the time of David, in the reign of Uzziah, and in the reign of Hezekiah.
Just because the Bible tends to speak of the Philistines in connection with localized areas, though, does not mean that their geography was thus limited. This brings me to the introduction of a principle of biblical interpretation that will become important throughout this thesis. Liel has expressed it as follows, though not in terms of geography: …. “Remember–the Bible is a didactic history. Its goal is to teach ideas, not political science”. The biblical writers were not interested in writing a history or geography of the Philistines, or of the rulers of Mitanni, or of the Egyptians. They were essentially concerned with Israel, and any ‘accidental’ information with which they might have provided us concerning elements foreign to Israel would depend entirely upon the degree to which these elements impacted upon Israel itself. So, just because most of our biblical information about the Philistines pertains to their activity along the southern coast, close to the kingdom of Judah, does not mean that the historical Philistines themselves were in fact largely confined to that particular region.
Courville now proceeds to tell of the Philistine occupation of parts of northern Israel at the time of Saul. This will lead him to important archaeological considerations further on:
Pertinent to the problems to be dealt with is the appearance of the Philistines along the northern coastal region of Israel in the area of Megiddo and Beth Shan at the time of Saul, as well as in their more commonly recognized home in the south. To have maintained their presence in territories thus far separated suggests that they controlled the coast between these territories, either by land or by sea or both.
And, during the neo-Assyrian era:
The Philistines continued to occupy the territory in the south into the reign of Ahaz .… Since the Assyrians already were harassing the southern kingdom of Judah also, the Philistines would appear to have been competing with the Assyrians for the diminishing Israelite territory. Such a situation could be expected to be a source of difficulty between the Assyrians and the Philistines. It is apparent from the inscriptions of Tiglathpileser of Assyria and of his successor, Sargon, that untoward relations did exist at this time between these two peoples.
Having summarised the biblical account of the Philistines, Courville now proceeds to
introduce the somewhat different history of this people as held by the historians: ….
- Current Views on the Origin of the Philistines in Palestine
While Scripture indicates the presence of the Philistines in Palestine from the time of Abraham, this concept is generally rejected by archaeologists. This latter view is based on the absence of recognized archaeological evidence for such occupation prior to the incident of the invasion of Egypt by the Sea Peoples in the reign of Rameses III (c. 1200 B.C. by current views), or possibly a few years earlier in the reign of Merneptah. This invasion was a failure and the remnants of the abortive attempt were thrown back on Palestine and Syria.
These invaders, known as the Sea Peoples, represented a mixture of races who had origins in the islands of the Mediterranean, including Cyprus, Crete, and the islands of the Aegean Sea near Greece. However, some of the names indicate a possible origin in Greece or in southwest Asia Minor. The inscription of Rameses III mentions peoples by the names Palusathu (generally identified with the Philistines), the Shakalaha, the Sherdanu, the Zakkaru, the Ashwaka (thought by some to refer to the Achaeans of Greece), and the Danaus (whom Gordon would identify with the Danites of the tribe of Dan on the basis of Judges 5:17, but whom most scholars take to be one of the several peoples related culturally to the Philistines). The Egyptian list provides the names of ten different peoples who comprised the invaders.
Courville is here referring to the vast literary and pictorial account of this land and sea invasion as recorded by Ramses III on his mortuary temple at Medinet Habu. Scholars can vary quite considerably in their attempts to identify each of these peoples (even to transliterate their names), and as to the degree to which they managed to discomfort Egypt. Lloyd has high praise for the painstaking study of them by Sandars: ….
During Ramesses’ land- and sea-battles with the Peoples of the Sea, many prisoners were taken, and on the walls of Medinet Habu his sculptors not only
listed their supposed countries of origin but depicted in relief their national dress
and other peculiarities. The information thus provided has been studied with great care, notably by N. K. Sandars in a book which is a small masterpiece of patient scholarship.
Sandars herself, speaking of Merenptah’s time, has written thus of the ‘Sea Peoples’,
including the important Libyans: ….
With the Libyans, and their neighbours the Meshwesh, came a number of northern allies: the Sherden or Shardana and the Lukka, already well known; also three new names, Ekwesh (Egyptian ´Ikwš), Teresh (Trš) and Shekelesh (Škrš).
… The name Sherden-Shardana has, since it was first recognized, been connected with Sardinia … It has also, rather less convincingly, been linked with Sardis. That the Shardana wore horned helmets is one of the few sartorial certainties in the complicated history of Egypt’s friends and attackers. … Horned helmets were alien to the Aegean … but they were indigenous in Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the Levant. … The Lukka, who also joined the Libyan invaders, had been allies of the Hittites at the battle of Kadesh. We have met them already as pirates from south-western Anatolia. … Also among the Libyan allies are the Ekwesh, not heard of before this time …. They have been connected with the Ahhiyawa of the Hittite texts … and so with the Homeric Achaeans; if so, it is rather surprising that, as Indo-Europeans, they were circumcised. … A Hittite text … refers to Taru-(u)i-ša (Taruisha), which may be the same as the Teresh …. The Hittites located their Taruisha in northern Assuwa near the Troad, but they have also been placed not far from the land that was later Lydia … and from where, according to Herodotus, the Tyrrhenians migrated to central Italy. This would link the Teresh-Taruisha-Tyrsenoi with the Etruscans. …The Hittite texts appear to be silent concerning the Shekelesh …. But just as the Shardana are linked with Sardinia, and the Teresh with the Etruscans, so the Shekelesh have for a long time been identified with the inhabitants of south-eastern Sicily.
Trigger, Kemp et al. argue a relatively feeble Egyptian response to these incoming hordes: ….
During the reign of Ramesses III … the political and ethnic structure of Syria, Palestine and Anatolia was drastically altered as the result of a mysterious population movement, that of the ‘Sea-Peoples’, who surged along the eastern
Mediterranean and had to be repulsed at the seaward and eastern frontiers of
Egypt itself. At the same time, perhaps not coincidentally, Libyan pressure … reached a climax in two abortive invasions of the western Delta. To a degree, these developments were uncontrollable; neither the Hittites nor any other state in the region had been able to resist the ‘Sea-Peoples’ …. But it is significant that Egyptian reaction was comparatively weak.
According to Brewer and Teeter, the invasion altered the balance of power in the region: …. “The “People of the Sea” ultimately changed the entire balance of power in the Near East, sweeping away the Hittites and setting the stage for Assyria to step into the void as the new dominant power in the Near East”.
Courville now turns to the all-important consideration of a distinctive pottery type introduced by this new mix of peoples: ….
On the basis of the appearance of a new type of pottery in the area occupied by the Philistines following the attempted invasion, and in the absence of any earlier recognized evidence of the Philistines in Palestine, the new occupants are identified with the Philistines of Scripture in the time of the late judges. This
view, of necessity, must reject the earlier references to the Philistines in Scripture. Wright would explain this discrepancy by assuming that a later writer was bringing the account up to date in terms of the later occupation.
… Another example [of modernizing Scripture] is the mention of the Philistines as living along the southern coast of Palestine … but we now know that the settlement of the Philistines did not occur until five or six hundred years later … Later Hebrews were simply bringing the stories up to date, and what modern teller of tales does not do the same?
Courville proceeds to challenge the standard archaeological view on the Philistines: ….
- The New Pottery appearing in the Territory
of the Philistines is not of Cretan Origin
The archaeology of Crete … yields most damaging evidence for the view that
these invaders and their culture came from Crete; hence it becomes necessary to refer to one phase of Cretan history. Using the popularly accepted dates, the
following facts are to be noted. The dates by the proposed revision will be five to six hundred years later. The sea power and culture of Crete reached its zenith in the period dated c. 1500-1400 B.C. During this century, Crete represented the major sea power of the ancient world, and produced some of the most beautiful and elaborately decorated pottery known anciently. About 1400 B.C. Crete was the victim of an overwhelming catastrophe from which neither its power nor its culture ever recovered … The evidence indicates that the same culture survived the catastrophe but underwent a steep decline, so that by 1200 B.C. the power and culture of Crete was at its nadir, the residual culture being but a crude remnant of its predecessors. If the Sea Peoples who invaded Egypt at this time came from Crete under these conditions, then how could they suddenly be in full possession of a high level of pottery culture as indicated by the appearance of this new pottery type in southern Palestine? This new pottery is stated to be on a higher level than that used by the occupants prior to this (as compared to the pottery in the level below it) …. The anachronism that results from supposing that this pottery had a Cretan origin was recognized by Baikie who commented:
… But the remaining tribes [mentioned in the Egyptian inscriptions] are in all probability Cretans, fragments of the old Minoan Empire which had collapsed two centuries before, and was now gradually becoming disintegrated … There remain the Pulosathu, who are, almost beyond question, the Philistines, so well known to us from their connection with the rise of the Hebrew monarchy. The Hebrew tradition brought the Philistines from Kaphtor, and Kaphtor is plainly nothing else than the Egyptian Kefti, or Keftiu. In the Philistines, then, we have the last organized remnant of the old Minoan sea-power. Thrown back from the frontier of Egypt by the victory of Rameses III, they established themselves on the maritime plain of Palestine …. But all the same the Philistine was an anachronism, a survival from an older world.
An examination of the new pottery that appeared in Philistia at the time of this attempted invasion of Egypt, and comparison of it with that used in Crete at this time, and prior to this for two centuries, provides no basis for presuming that this new pottery is of Cretan origin. ….
Courville next proceeds to argue that: ….
- This New Pottery in Philistia Is of Aegean Origin
A comparison of this pottery with that of the Aegean area for this and the preceding era leaves no room for doubt on this point. While this pottery found its way to Cyprus and even to the mainland to the north, its origin may be placed
unequivocally to the Aegean Islands and the immediate area. Miss Kenyon commented thus on this pottery:
There is, however, one class of archaeological material which may reasonably be associated with the newcomers. This is a type of pottery entirely new to Palestine [sic], decorated with elaborate patterns. The most characteristic elements in the decoration are metopes enclosing stylized birds, very often with back-turned head, friezes of spirals, and groups of interlocking semicircles. The form of the vessels and the elements in the decoration all have their origins in the Late Helladic ceramic art of the Aegean. ….
“But if the pottery is of Aegean origin, and not Cretan”, Courville continues, “then it is
most inconsistent to identify the pottery as Philistine on the basis of the Scriptural statements to the effect that the Philistines came from Crete”. “And if it is not Philistine, then what basis is there for presuming”, he asks, “that this pottery provides any evidence at all that this is the date for the first appearance of the Philistines in Palestine?”: ….
To be sure, it remains possible, though not demonstrated, that this pottery is Philistine of Aegean origin. But if shelter is to be taken under this possibility, then consistency would require that not only the early Scriptural references be rejected, but also the later references which so clearly portray a Cretan origin of the Philistines. It is to be noted that Miss Kenyon recognized the insecurity of the proposed identification of this pottery as Philistine.
It cannot of course be accepted without question that this pottery is necessarily associated with the Philistines, but the evidence does seem to be strongly in favour of this ascription.
Courville will eventually trace back this distinctive pottery type to the earliest phase of Cretan archaeology, in support of the biblical view that the immigrant Philistines were of Cretan origin. More on that later.
I think we need to recognize, with Rohl, that the coming of the Sea Peoples was “a secondary wave of migrants”, following on from an earlier influx of ‘Indo-Europeans’.
With that in mind, whilst Caphtor would still stand – as it does conventionally – for Crete, Cyprus may later have become prominent as a base and stepping-stone for these peoples during the second invasion. Here is Rohl’s account, with a corresponding stratigraphy (he juxtaposes here OC – Old Chronology dates – against his NC – New Chronology dates): ….
… who were these Philistines and where did they come from?
Of course, in the conventional chronological scheme, the Philistines appear in
Philistia not during the Middle Bronze Age but at the beginning of the Iron Age
(OC – c. 1200 BC).
They are identified with a group called the Peleset who attack Egypt by land and sea in the 8th year of Pharaoh Ramesses III (OC – 1177 BC, NC – 856 BC).
These Iron Age invaders are indeed Philistines – but they are not the first ‘Sea
Peoples’ to arrive in the region. In the New Chronology the original incursion of
Indo-European peoples from the Aegean occurs towards the end of the Middle
Bronze Age (NC – c. 1350 BC). The Peleset of Ramesses III’s time are a secondary wave of migrants moving into the Levant (to dwell alongside their ancestral Philistine kin) during the period of collapse of the Mycenaean Bronze
Age city states of Greece. This collapse was triggered by the long and debilitating campaign of the Trojan war (NC – c. 872-863 BC) and the subsequent Dorian invasion (NC – c. 820 BC) which ousted the Mycenaean élites onto the islands of the eastern Mediterranean and into the Levant itself. But these events are hundreds of years in the future as the original Philistine migrants arrive on the Canaanite coast during the Hyksos period.
I had earlier referred to the person of Shamgar, during the period of the Judges, and had noted Bright’s indication that his name, at least, might be Hurrian. Now Rohl has dated the arrival of the first wave of ‘Indo-Europeans’ precisely to this very same time of the Judges, conveniently, according to his New Chronology, in 1300 BC: ….
During the judgeship of EHUD only one minor external conflict occurred in this long period of internal squabbling amongst the tribes. Shamgar, son of Anath, came up against a raiding party of Philistines (Hebrew Pelishtim) in the Shephelah hills which border the coastal plain. As had happened with the Edomites and the Moabites, here too the Israelites managed to push this new
enemy back from their territory. But behind this apparently insignificant biblical
story – which occupies just one line in the book of Judges [Judges 3:31] – is a
momentous event in the history of the ancient Near East. This first mention of the Philistine soldiers heralds the arrival of a new Indo-European-speaking political force in the region.
The year of Shamgar’s run-in with these strange foreigners from a far-off land was 1300 BC. In Egyptian terms, this places the Philistine ‘arrival’ on the biblical
stage right in the middle of the Hyksos period – a little over a century after the
invasion of the eastern Delta by King Sheshi (in c. 1409 BC) and the subsequent demise of the remnant native 13th Dynasty.
Mackey’s comment: Regarding this “King Sheshi” Maibre, I have more recently, in my:
tentatively identified him as the Pharaoh of the Exodus, with the Hyksos-like Amenemhet III (“Lampares”), and with St. Paul’s “Mambres”.
Back to the thesis:
Whilst it is perhaps arguable that the Old Testament, with its aforementioned emphasis upon pedagogy rather than having any particular concern for recounting the history of foreign nations, could relegate to “just one line”, in only one of its books, an event as momentous as the incursion of the ‘Indo-Europeans’ into the ancient Near East, I would nevertheless instead embrace the view of Courville … and Bimson (see next page) that there was an actual biblical tradition associated with the arrival of these foreign masses.
And, according to such tradition, this significant event pertains to a period somewhat
earlier than the one that Rohl thinks he has pinpointed to the time of Ehud and Shamgar, in the era of the Judges. Here I take up Bimson’s account of this biblical tradition: ….
There is a tradition preserved in Joshua 13:2-3 and Judges 3:3 that the Philistines were established in Canaan by the end of the Conquest, and that the Israelites had been unable to oust them from the coastal plain …. There is also an indication that the main Philistine influx had not occurred very much prior to the Conquest. As we shall see below, the Philistines are the people referred to as “the Caphtorim, who came from Caphtor” in Deuteronomy 2:23 … where it is said that a people called the Avvim originally occupied the region around Gaza, and that the Caphtorim “destroyed them and settled in their stead”. Josh. 13:2-3 mentions Philistines and Avvim together as peoples whom the Israelites had failed to dislodge from southern Canaan. This suggests that the Philistines had not completely replaced the Avvim by the end of Joshua’s life. I would suggest, in fact, that the war referred to in Ex. 13:17, which was apparently taking place in “the land of the Philstines” at the time of the Exodus, was the war of the Avvim against the newly arrived Philistines.
As conventionally viewed, the end of MB II C coincides with the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt. Bimson however, in his efforts to provide a revised stratigraphy for the revision of history, has synchronised MB II C instead with the start of Hyksos rule. He will argue here in some detail that the building and refortifying of cities at this time was the work of the Avvim against the invading Philistines, with some of the new
settlements, however, likely having been built by the Philistines themselves.
Rohl, basically following Bimson, has identified certain MB pottery as Philistine, and
representing his first wave of ‘Indo-Europeans’. And he will link it to a similar form of
pottery belonging, later, to the Sea Peoples – the second wave: ….
Towards the end of the Middle Bronze II-B era a new kind of pottery begins to appear in the Levant – particularly on the coastal plain and at Tell ed-Daba (ancient Avaris) in Egypt. This ‘bichrome ware’ is finely decorated pottery with
designs painted in black and red on a beige slip (background). The designs include metopes (rectangular boxes) running around the shoulder of the vessel,
within which stylized birds and geometric designs are placed.
Figure 1: Bichrome Ware
In the above illustration, the two bichrome vessels on the left belong to the first wave of Philistine migrations, whereas the two on the right belong to the second wave. “Note the backwards-looking bird
motif common to both types of ceramic decoration, four hundred years apart”. ….
Rohl continues: ….
The basic principles of such decoration are witnessed once more, three hundred years later, when the so-called ‘Philistine ware’ proper appears in the
archaeological record at the beginning of the Iron Age (around the time of Ramesses III). This later pottery is Aegean in origin and is regarded as being a
rather degraded development from Mycenaean Bronze Age ceramics. Given that the earlier bichrome ware of the late MB II-B/LB I is very similar in terms of its decoration to the Iron Age ‘Philistine ware’, you should not be surprised to learn that the clay from which many of the earliest bichrome pots were made comes from Cyprus, thus confirming the Mediterranean connection to the culture which introduced it into the Levant and Egypt. It seems that the first generation of bichrome ceramics was made in Cyprus and brought by newcomers to the southern Levant who then began to produce these distinctive vessels from local clays found in their newly adopted lands.
[End of quote]
It thus appears that there were two major waves of ‘Indo-European’ migrations, connected the one to the other by this distinctive form of pottery: the first wave being
coincident in my revision with the early Conquest and the Hyksos invasion of Egypt, and the second wave occurring early in the reign of Ramses III (that era to be dated in Part III, Chapter 11 and Chapter 12). The prophet Amos even seems to synchronise for us the first wave against a biblical era (9:7): ‘Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor …?’ It remains to be seen if we can also find a biblical resonance for the upheaval that was the second wave: the ‘Sea Peoples’.
Whilst it was mentioned above that famine might have been a factor driving the second wave of immigrants, Bimson will, in his joint discussion of the Exodus and the arrival of the Philistines, the first wave, propose that plague had been a significant factor in both movements of peoples in this case.
Let us follow Bimson’s discussion, centring upon Cyprus, in which he believes “we find some interesting correlations emerging”: ….
Bichrome pottery began to be manufactured on Cyprus at the beginning of the period known as Late Cypriot I (abbreviated to LC I) …. Since, as we have seen, it occurs on the mainland at some sites before the end of Palestine’s MB II C period, it is clear that the transition from the latest Middle Cypriot period (MC III) to LC I occurred some while before the end of MB II C on the mainland. In terms of the scheme proposed here, we may tentatively place the beginning of LC I roughly at the time of the Exodus, the end of MB II C marking the Conquest …. This means that the first Late Bronze period on Cyprus, LC I A, was at least partially contemporary with the time the Israelites spent in the wilderness.
This synchronism is significant. A number of writers have noted that LC I was a period of considerable unrest of some kind. A striking feature of the first part of the period is the occurrence of mass burials, which are without precedent in the Early and Middle Cypriot periods. The reason for their sudden appearance
throughout the length of the island is much debated …., plague and warfare being the two most favoured explanations. Against the view that the people thus buried were killed in battle are the facts, pointed out by SCHAEFFER …, that no wounds are evident on the skeletons, and that the grave-goods do not suggest that the graves are those of warriors. Schaeffer therefore prefers to view many of these burials as the result of plague.
Here Bimson makes mention of Velikovsky’s novel view that the earth had suffered
catastrophes at the time of the Exodus and Conquest due to “the effects of a close
approach of the proto-planet Venus”, before adding:
But even without the global catastrophe theory, the mass burials would still provide support for our synchronisms of early LC I with the time of the Israelites’
wilderness journeys. There is ample evidence from the Old Testament that this
was a time when plague was rife on the mainland. Apart from the fact that Egypt
was affected by plague shortly before the Exodus (Ex. 9:8-12), the Israelites themselves were hit by plague no less than five times between the Exodus and the start of the Conquest (cf. Ex. 32:55; Num. 11:33; 14:37; 16:46-50; 25:9). I have referred elsewhere to KENYON’S conclusion that plague affected the inhabitants of Jericho shortly before the end of the MB II C city, and have noted the possibility that this outbreak should be linked with the plague mentioned in Num. 25:9 …. Thus if we follow Schaeffer, and see Cyprus suffering the effects of plague at the start of LC I, it is logical to synchronise this time with the period when the mainland was similarly afflicted ….
However we interpret the mass burials, there is no doubt that on Cyprus at the
start of LC I, “abnormal conditions had begun to affect the pattern of contemporary life” ….
One important result of those abnormal conditions was the abandonment of several previously important centres at the eastern end of the island …. In the light of the arguments presented above, that the Philistines arrived in Canaan from Cyprus in MB II C, it would be logical to identify them specifically with the people who were abandoning the island’s eastern centres in LC I ….
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