Sunday, September 6, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Late-breaking news

I've talked before on this blog about my project, Narrating  the Torah.
At least I think I have.
Anyway, I have to point you to Deuteronomy 15:14.
This verse is about somebody who has just worked off their exclusive services contract.
When the time comes, this verse says to anaq the former contractor.
It uses the same root as Anaqim.
Now, you can see right away that it's impossible to make the former contractor a physical giant.
So it's clear that what you have to do is strengthen him.
Which means that the Anaqim didn't have that name because they were physical giants. 
They had that name because they were so mighty.

The verse in Deuteronomy has an interesting parallel.
I've been crawling all over the net looking for scientific articles on Linear B.
It showed up at digs in Thebes (in Greece), in Pylos, and in a palace in Sparta.
The provenance is from 1350 to 1200 BCE.
So use of Linear B was a long-term thing in a broad area, not a short-term curiosity from just one  place in ancient Greece.
Tablets at Pylos tally the pay of workers and what they produced.
The pay included not only manufactured goods but also raw materials.
Personally, I think this looks as if there was a common custom in ancient times.
A skilled worker might  have several levels of skill.   She might be able to produce for the luxury market.
But the luxury market had few buyers who needed a limited number of things.
While the skilled worker produced them, the buyer provided all her support, which used to be known among the British servant class as "all found."
When she was done, the buyer released her.  Now what does she do for support?
Well, she takes the raw materials the buyer gives her, and she produces knock-offs of the same products for less wealthy buyers.
That keeps her going until she can get another contract from a wealthy customer.
Later on the blog I'll get into a basic concept known to all archaeologists: the things that turn up in ancient writings weren't inventions of the time when the writings were made.
So providing raw materials to an outgoing contractor had a long history prior to 1350 BCE.
We can't tell how long.  Much of what was written in those times has  disappeared.
If anybody out there knows of evidence that the same kind of thing is recorded in Egyptian writings, and what the provenance of those writings is, we have strong evidence of a widespread cultural phenomenon. 
But once hieroglyphics and Linear B disappeared as recording languages, Torah remained as the only evidence of the custom until they were rediscovered and redeciphered.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

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