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Israelite tribes, or there are ten Cisjordanian tribes; or no number is mentioned at all, and instead, the tribes are referred to as "the tribes of Israel." Besides, three men from seven tribes makes 21 men, which is an "unelegant" number. It is very likely that the number seven was added later, since there are several occasions where 18:1-10 addresses the Israelites in general.27 The awkward position of the appended second subject a'fcat nsat, "seven tribes," at the very end of Josh 18:2 makes this particularly clear.28 The other occurrences of "seven" (18:5,6,9) can also be cut out without problems.29 At an initial stage the corpus of the land division, without the device of the lots, dealt with the Israelites in general and the land in general (13:1, 7aa; 14:1, 5). Only afterwards this was corrected by specifying and explaining the number of the nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasseh (13:7ap, b; 14:2b, 3,4). Remnants of this initial stage can be found in Josh 18:1-10 as well. Josh 18:2 (without "the seven tribes"), 3, 4*, 8ba, 9*, 10b* follow what is announced in Josh 13:1: the remaining land must be possessed (tT: 13:1; 18:3). Joshua commands a floor commission of three men per tribe to inspect the land.30 After their return, the land is divided to the tribes.
At this initial stage, the whole corpus of the distribution of the tribal areas had only one introduction: 13:1, 7aa; 14,1, 5. At a later phase, in order to alineate Joshua and the Pentateuch, chapter 13 dealt mainly with the Transjordanian tribes, which had already received their portions directly from Moses (Numbers 32).31 For the tribes which had not
27 '33: 18:1, 2, 3, 10, as well as rns in 18:1. Also D3Tn3X, "your ancestors" (18:3), and 13'n?x, "our God" (18:6), point indirectly to all Israel as well as the undefined distributive use of 03©, "tribe" (18:4).
28 The first subject is the whole phrase Qn?n3~nx lp?n~x? )©x, "those whose inheritance had not yet been apportioned."
29 I would like to reverse the statement of Seebass: "Schließlich ist an xviii 1-10 längst aufgefallen, daß mal die ganze 'Gemeinde' (ms) oder die Israeliten insgesamt, mal nur sieben Stämme unter ihnen, Josuas Gegenüber bilden, aber nur die Siebenzahl seine jetzige Stelle erklärt, ..." ("Versuch zu Josua XVIII 1-10," 370) into the statement that "die jetzige Stelle die Siebenzahl erklärt." Seebass himself considers 18:2, 5-6, and 8b as not belonging to his "Grundschicht" of Josh 18:1-10. So for him only the occurrence of "seven" in 18:9a remains (ibid. 379). "[Dort] lässt sich die Siebenzahl nicht so einfach herauslösen, und v. 9 ist der Erzählung sicher unentbehrlich" (ibid., 379). It is my opinion that v. 9a belongs to the Grundschicht, but only until nunD'l, "they wrote it [sc. the land] down," and maybe until □'"»?, "according to cities." That what comes afterwards (ns3©1
D'p?n, "in seven divisions in a book") is not necessary for the narrative.
30 For the term "floor commission" ("Flurkommission") see O. Bächli, "Von der Liste zur Beschreibung: Beobachtungen und Erwägungen zu Jos. 13-19," ZDPV 89 (1973) 114, esp. 11.
31 See for the status of Transjordan in Joshua 13: E. Noort, "Transjordan in Joshua received their land from Moses, a new introduction had to be created (Josh 14:1-5). By bringing in the device of the lot, a further introduction was needed, because, firstly, a piece of holy land had to be established, as outlined above, in order to cast the lots. At this stage Josh 18:1-10 was moved to its present position and it became necessary to mention and explain the number seven of the seven remaining tribes (18:2, 5, 6, 7, 9). By this move a "holy centre" of land was created.32
Joshua 13-19 is a late composition. It uses P- and Dtr-like language and plays with their theological concepts. The time of an "unbiased" encounter between God and the leaders of the Israelite people is over. God can only be perceived implicitly as being present in the land.
By compositional processes within Joshua 13-19 a graded holiness of the land was achieved. The centre of Israel lies in Shiloh (Josh 18:110). It is there where the tent of meeting is erected, and where the lots are cast before Yhwh, both attestations of the presence of God. If I am correct with my claim that there are allusions to the tabernacle and that the name of God is hidden in Josh 18:1, then the implied presence of God is even reinforced. This, so to say holy centre lies between the area of Judah and that of the house of Joseph (18:5), being areas, which had in Joshua 15-17 been described as lots (allotments). So, the areas itself are lots, and this, as the decision of the lots comes from God, makes them in some way divine. At the holy centre in Shiloh between the two less holier parts of the allotments of Judah and Joseph the lots are cast for the seven remaining tribes. Their areas are assigned by lots, they are themselves no lots. If npVna, "division," in 18:10b is really an allusion to the divisions of cultic personnel as known from Neh 11:36 and 1 Chronicles 23-27, then the tribal areas function as kinds of "servants" around the holy centre in Shiloh, making the whole area holy, although graded from centre to periphery. Only the status of the Transjordanian area and its tribes remains unclear. They are important insofar as they had received
13: Some Aspects," in Lectures Held at the Third International Conference on the History and Archaeology of Jordan (vol. 3 of Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan; ed. A. Hadidi; London 1987), 125-129.
32 Also Seebass ("Versuch zu Josua XVIII 1-10") concludes that Josh 18:1-10 was secondarily added to its present position.
their portions directly from Moses (Numbers 32; Joshua 13). In Joshua 22 they seem, however, to live beyond the borders of the land of Yhwh (Josh 22H9).33 The evoked mental map of Joshua 13-19 can therefore be visualised as follows:
33 Noort "Der Streit um den Altar," 169: "Die eigentliche Frage ist aber die nach dem Verhältnis zwischen Cis- und Transjordanien. Lang sind die Zeiten her, daß in einer deuteronomistischen Sicht Transjordanien noch zum verheißenem Land gerechnet wurde und eben dieses verheißene Land nicht beim Jordan, sondern beim Arnon anfing. Die Provinz Gilead ist politisches Ausland. Und in der schillernden Geschichte zwischen West und Ost kann die vermutete Unreinheit des Ostjordanlandes tiefe Wurzel haben. Das Land mag Ausland sein, aber die dort wohnenden, ethnisch verwandten Gruppen gehören sehr wohl zum Volk YHWHs." D.A. Knight, "Joshua 22 and the Ideology of Space," in Imagining Biblical Worlds: Studies in Spatial, Social, and Historical Constructs in Honor of James W. Flanagan (eds. D.M. Gunn and P.M. McNutt, JSOTSup 359; London 2002), 51-63, observes the same discrepancy and postulates a conflict between inhabitants of Yehud and those in exile in the east.
"AND THE LAND WAS SUBDUED BEFORE THEM ..."? SOME REMARKS ON THE MEANING OF »33 IN JOSHUA 18:1 AND RELATED TEXTS*
As E. Noort stated many scholars dealing with the Priestly source have pointed out a relationship between Josh 18:1 and Gen 1:28p.1 One of the main reasons for this opinion is the verb »33 that occurs in both verses together with f-N "earth/land."2 Therefore it has been assumed that Josh 18:1 belongs to the Priestly source or is at least the work of a Priestly or post-Priestly redactor.3 While Lohfink saw Josh 18:1 as "die Erfüllungsnotiz von Gen 1:28,"4 nowadays the opinio communis has come up that Josh 18:1 is part of a redactional Priestly work.5
While the literary preference of Gen 1:28 to Josh 18:1 seems to be reflected carefully by many scholars, the understanding of »33 which occurs in Qal in Gen 1:28 but in Niphal in Josh 18:1 lacks this intensive
* For Ed Noort on the occasion of his 65th birthday with best wishes from Hamburg.
1 E. Noort, Das Buch Josua: Forschungsgeschichte und Problemfelder (EdF 292; Darmstadt 1998), 178-179.
2 Other indications are the priestly words '33 ms, "the congregation of the Israelites," and TSia ?ns, "tent of meeting," in Josh 18:1.
3 Cf. Noort, Josua, 177-181. Noort refers to the works and articles of J. Blenkinsopp, "The Structure of P," CBQ 38 (1976) 275-292; N. Lohfink, Die Priesterschrift und die Geschichte (VTSup 29; Leiden 1978), 189-225; A.G. Auld, "Creation and Land: Sources and Exegesis," in Proceedings of the World Congress of Jewish Studies 8A (Jerusalem 1982), 7-13; E. Zenger, Gottes Bogen in den Wolken: Untersuchungen zu Komposition und Theologie der priesterschriftlichen Urgeschichte (SBS 112; Stuttgart 1983); and E. Cortese, Josua 13-21: Ein priesterschriftlicher Abschnitt im deuteronomistischen Geschichtswerk (OBO 94; Freiburg 1990); Zenger, Gottes Bogen, 40, first thought that Gen 1:28 depends on Josh 18:1 and projects the gift of the land onto the creation story, but he revokes this idea in the 2d edition of 1987, 214.
4 Lohfink, Priesterschrift, 199 n. 30.
5 Cf., for example, Cortese, Josua, 94-96, and V. Fritz, Das Buch Josua (HAT 1.7; Tübingen 1993), 177.
reflection. In both cases—and even for the further occurences6—the translation of wan "to subdue" (Qal) or "to be subdued" (Niphal) is the common one and seems to be inspired by the idea of oppression and (land) conquering. The following table of versions of the Bible illustrates this:
Translation Lxx Vulgata Luther (1984)
New King James (1982)
New Revised Standard Version
New Jerusalem Bible NBG-vertaling
Groot Nieuws Bijbel (1997)
Gen 1:28: TO3D1 Kai KataKUQisuoats afrt^g . . . subicite eam . . . machet sie euch untertan
Jullie moeten de aarde aan je onderwerpen
... en breng haar onder je gezag
Josh 18:1: nn'JBV psm
... et fuit eis terra subiecta
... und das Land war ihnen unterworfen.
And the land was subdued before them.
The land lay subdued before them.
... the whole country had been subdued for them.
... aangezien de streek onderworpen was en te hunner beschikking stond
Het land was al door de Israelieten onderworpen
One could easily complete this table by mentioning translations of different commentaries on the books of Genesis and Joshua. In our case only a few examples concerning Josh 18:1 will be enough.7 M. Noth translated "... das ganze Land aber lag unterworfen vor ihnen,"8 and the new commentary by V. Fritz repeats this translation.9 R.G. Boling also underlines this understanding of in his commentary in 1982: "The land had been subdued before them."10
6 See Jer 34:11 (Hiphil), 16; Neh 5:5; 2Chr 28:10; Esth 7:8; 2Sam 8:11; Mic 7:i9aß; Num 32:22, 29; 1 Chr 22:18.
7 For Gen 1:28 cf. U. Neumann-Gorsolke, Herrschen in den Grenzen der Schöpfung: Aspekte alttestamentlicher Anthropologie am Beispiel von Psalm 8, Genesis 1 und verwandten Texten (WMANT 101; Neukirchen-Vluyn 2004), 274 n. 6.
8 M. Noth, Das Buch Josua (HAT 1.7; Tübingen 1938), 78.
9 Fritz, Josua, 177.
10 R.G. Boling; Joshua: A New Translation with Notes and Commentary (AB 6; Garden City 1982).
N. Lohfink,11 K. Koch, and other scholars have already criticized the "violant" understanding of ©33 in Gen 1:28 and have stated that "die europäischen Übersetzungen der Bibel [untermauern das] gängig gewordene Verständnis ..., in Gen 1,28 würden Erde und Tiere den Menschen zu schrankenloser Verfügung und beliebiger Ausbeutung übereignet"12 though the idea of subduing the earth does not go well with the situation of a just created world without any enemies and with the idea of a rich world of trees and green that gives food to men and animals. Nevertheless, the idea of oppression and conquering seems to match the book of Joshua and there seems, at first sight, no need for further reflection about the translation "and the land was subdued before them." But if there is a relation between Gen 1:28 and Josh 18:1, one has to ask whether the situation in Josh 18:1 is not much the same as in Gen 1:28: a situation of warfare is not mentioned in the latter text. The land is thought to be without inhabitants in both cases.13 How can an understanding of ©33 as "subdued" then be convincing?
Besides, the use of the preposition plus suffix a^iaV is exceptional in relation to a situation of subduing.14 Some translations even take it as the logical subject of the n©33! action and translate: "by them" (cf. lxx and Groot Nieuws Bijbel), but this is not within the grammatical rules15 and it is not in harmony with the intention of the verse. Josh 18:1 tells that the congregation of the Israelites assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting. This resembles a cultic situation, and the Israelites are waiting for the apportioning of their inheritance. The phrase n©332 pxm an^sV, mostly translated with "and the land was subdued before them," is a statement concerning the land, and the Israelites remain passive.16 The idea of oppression and violence seems to be strange in this priestly
11 N. Lohfink, "'Machet euch die Erde Untertan'?" Orientierung 38 (1974) 167-142.
12 K. Koch, "Gestaltet die Erde, doch heget das Leben! Einige Klarstellungen zum dominium terrae in Gen 1" (1983), in idem, Spuren des hebräischen Denkens: Beiträge zur alttestamentlichen Theologie (Gesammelte Aufsätze 1; ed. B. Janowski and M. Krause; Neukirchen-Vluyn 1991), 223-237 at 224. See also Neumann-Gorsolke, Herrschen.
13 Every time the idea of expelling or suppression is mentioned, the verb ©T Hiphil and a personal object are used; cf. Josh 14:14; 16:63; 17:13,18, while the possession of the land is expressed by the idea of stepping with the feet on the land (cf. Josh 1:3; 14:9).
14 See the exegesis of Num 32:22, 29; and 1 Chr 22:18 below.
15 "In the complete passive, the agent may be indicated by a prepositional phrase in 3 ... or V ...; the means or instrument may be given after 3 ... or |a ..." (B.K. Waltke and M. O'Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax [Winona Lake, Ind., 1990] 385: 23.2.2-3; cf. W. Gesenius et al., Hebräische Grammatik [Darmstadt 1991], § 121-122).
16 S. Wagner, "©33," ThWAT 4:55, is ofthe opinion that in all cases where kbs and earth are mentioned the Israelites are the logical subject.
influenced context. So the question is how this phrase and especially wan can be understood in Josh 18:1 and whether one can find a more convincing translation/understanding than "to be subdued."
The further investigation first deals with the Semitic root kbs and its different semantic realizations, especially when mentioned in relation to "land/earth" (2). Then, the biblical parallels in Numbers 32 and 1 Chronicles 22 that also share the syntagma an^sV are examined and compared with Josh 18:1 (3). Finally, in the summary we present the new way of understanding W3D and introduce its theological implication (4).
The dictionaries show the same picture about the Hebrew root as mentioned above. For instance, Brown-Driver-Briggs has as its general meaning "to subdue" (with regard to Mic 7:19 they mention a figurative sense) and in a context of slavery they have "to bring into bondage"17 as the dominant meaning of t3D. Comparable translations are proposed by D.J.A. Clines in his "Dictionary of Classical Hebrew." Corresponding to different objects he suggests a dominant meaning "subdue, make subservient, rape woman."18
S. Wagner19 is also of the opinion that Hebrew represents the Semitic root kbs and has the overall meaning "unterwerfen," i.e. to subdue. Besides this, Wagner formulates two main characteristics of this root. (1) belongs to those Hebrew verbs that articulate oppression and violence. (2) has always a "stronger" subject and a "weaker" object.20
Those characterisations might make sense when a relation between people is referred to, but it must be questioned whether they are helpful when the relation between the Israelites and their promised land is implied, especially when no further inhabitants are spoken of.
Therefore—in my opinion—it is necessary to look whether there are different understandings of the root kbss in other Semitic languages that can give a new input for this semantic discussion. Brown-Drivers-Briggs
17 F. Brown, S.R. Driver, and C.A. Briggs, eds., A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament with an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic: Based on the Lexicon of William Gesenius (Oxford 1957), 461.
18 D.J.A. Clines, ed., The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew (Sheffield 1998), 4:361.
19 Wagner, ThWAT 4:54-60.
20 Wagner, ThWAT 4:58.
refers to the root kbs in Aramaic and Arabian meaning "tread down, beat or make a path, (subdue)."21 The idea of "tread down" or "to step on" that fits the related Hebrew noun "footstool" mentioned in 2 Chr 9:18 is also well known for Akkadian/Assyrian kabasu. The Akkadisches Handwörterbuch and the Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago22 put the meaning "to step upon" in the first place and then in the second place "to trample, to crush, to defeat an enemy" and so on. It is of great interest that because of the wider spread occurrence of the verb kabasu the Assyrian dictionaries have much more semantic differentiations that depend on the specific contexts of the verb than the Hebrew dictionaries. With objects such as "land" or "area" the meaning "subdue" is not mentioned23 but "betreten, treten auf" (AHw) or "to stride, to walk upon, to pace off" (CAD 1). Some examples might show that this understanding of kabasu is convincing in this context.
In a building inscription of Esarhaddon from Ninive one finds the phrase:
... the mountains on which none of my royal predecessors ever set foot.
(sa ina sarrani abbeja mamma la ik-bu-su)24
Probably Esarhaddon wants to underline that his campaign has reached areas that no one else before even stepped upon. So he succeeded in increasing the territory of Assyria, i.e. "prevailing of cosmos over the surrounding chaos,"25 one of his royal duties.26
21 Cf. Brown, Lexicon, 461.
22 W.von Soden, Akkadisches Handwörterbuch (vol. 1; Wiesbaden 1985) and J.A. Brinkman et al., eds., The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (vol. 8; Chicago 1971).
23 Kabasu can have the meaning "to subdue" in combination with "land," but only if "land" is understood as ametonym for hostile inhabitants of the land. See for example the so called Nimrud-Letters, Letters of Sargon II (722-705 bc), cf. ND 2759, pl. XXXVII, 52-53: "Now Assur, Istar, Bel and Nabu (the apposition 'my gods' is missing in this translation, U.N.-G.) have put this land under your feet. It shall be subjugated (ta-at-tak-ba-as-as ki-ilib-bi-k [a d]u-ú [l] u)" (text and translation H.W.F. Saggs, "The Nimrud-Letters 1952—Part IV," Iraq 20  183-184), cf. R.F. Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters (vols. 1-3; Chicago 1892-1914), 292. These examples are comparable with 2 Sam 8:11, that also deals with the subduing of countries and their people.
24 R. Borger, Die Inschriften Asarhaddons, Königs von Assyrien (AfOB 9; Graz 1956), 55 Episode 16A; IV 48 (English text: CAD 1.8).
25 M. Liverani, "The Ideology of the Assyrian Empire," in Power and Propaganda: A Symposium on Ancient Empires (ed. M.T. Larsen; Mesopotamia 7; Copenhagen 1979) 297-317 at 307.
26 The same idea is expressed in Borger, Asarhaddon, 54 Episode 15 A, IV 36, where
On the Rassam-Cylinder col. VI 65-69 Ashurbanipal tells about his campaign against Elam and emphasizes that he did not even stop entering the sacred groves and destroying the mysteries by fire:
... the sacred groves into which no alien is admitted and within whose boundaries no alien may walk (la i-ka-ba-su i-ta-si-in).27
This example also shows that the understanding "to step on/to walk" for kabasu is convincing: Ashurbanipal wants to make clear that no part of the area of Elam was not conquered by the Assyrians. Even the sacred places were walked upon what perhaps implies that they lost their sacredness and now belong to the Assyrians.
A further example from the Rassam-Cylinder col. II 15-16 mentions the campaign of Ashurbanipal against Egypt. Ashurbanipal's coming and setting foot on the land made the leader of Memphis flee and implies that now Ashurbanipal was considered as possessor of the land of Egypt. kabasu with object matu "land" needs not to be understood as "to subdue" but just as "to step on/to set foot on the land":
... as soon as I set foot on Egyptian territory he abandoned Memphis (sa ak-bu-su-misir mat Musur alume-im-pi u-mas-sir-ma) and fled to Ni' to save his life.28
The Rassam-Cylinder also uses the root kabasu with the object "land of Assyria" to emphasize that Ashurbanipal has come back to his own kingdom after a successful campaign against Kirbet and the Mannians (col. III 68-70):
Mit vieler Beute (und) schweren Geschenken kehrte ich wohlbehalten zurück (und) betrat das Gebiet von Assyrien (ak-bu-sa mi-sirmatu assurk').29
To step on the territory of Assyria means to come back to his possession, and it emphasizes that Assyria is no longer without a king and therefore is no longer in danger to lose its stability and safety that the king is a guarantee for. In queries to the Sungod during the Sargonid period, one very often finds the question whether the king or the chief eunuch and the army at his disposal will return safely from a campaign and "set foot is mentioned that the Medes never stepped upon Assyrian land during the time of Esarhaddon's predecessors (la ik-bu-su qaqqarsa).
27 Text cf. M. Streck, Assurbanipal und die letzten Assyrischen Könige bis zum Untergang Ninives (VAB 7.2; Leipzig 1916), 54-55; translation: CAD 1.8.
28 Text: Streck, Assurbanipal, 16-17; translation: cf. CAD 1.8.
29 Text and translation Streck, Assurbanipal, 102-103.
on Assyrian soil." One example will be enough to illustrate this use of kabasu:
[Will Esarhaddon, king of Assyria], with his troops and camp, [return and set fo]ot [on Assyrian soil? Will he safely enter] his palace in Nineveh? [mdas-sur-SES-suM-na lugal KUR-as-sur].Ki a-di erim.hi-su u ki-kalxbad-su [GUR.MES-ni-i mi-sir KUR-as-sur i-kab]-ba-su-u i-na e.gal-su sa URU.ni-na-a.30
The return of the king or his eunuch together with the troops into the own country cannot imply the idea of subduing, but to set foot on Assyrian soil means the return of Assyrian power, might and strength. When the king and the troops set foot on the area of Assyria the danger of chaos and instability is gone: the king takes possession of his land again. So there might be again the notion of "taking the land as possession" in the root kabasu in this case.31
The last example is from an astrological report to an Assyrian king by Nabu-musesi:
If the moon is surrounded by a halo, and Ninurta stands in it: my troops will set foot in the enemy's land. (ki kur kur ERiM-ni i-kab-ba-a[s]).32
This astrological report tells the condition for conquering an enemy's land, but warfare or violence is not mentioned. Taking possession of the land is expressed by the idea of setting foot on the land. This is a well known symbolic act in Ancient Near East and also in the Hebrew Bible.33
M. Malul has shown that in Nuzi the transfer of property in sales adoptions was symbolized by a specific act: the adopter raised his foot from the property and placed the adoptee's foot upon it.34 This is to be understood as "a legal instrument of property transfer."35
This symbolic act seems to be the background of several Old Testament texts concerning the transfer of property, especially land. Even a shoe could
30 I. Starr, Queries to the Sungod: Divination and Politics in Sargonid Assyria (SAA 4; Helsinki 1990), nos. 87.10-11, cf. nos. 64.16; 79.11; 79 (r).io; 80.6.
31 See, for example Rassam-Cylinder col. II 15-16.
32 H. Hunger, ed., Astrological Reports to Assyrian Kings (SAA 8; Helsinki 1992), no. 154, 6.
33 Cf. M. Malul, Studies in Mesopotamien Legal Symbolism (AOAT 221; Kevelaer 1988),
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