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Apiru -- Hap/biru -- Habiru

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jayhawker Soule, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    For those interested in the Habiru ...

    From Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times
    by Donald B. Redford
    • At the bottom of the class structure in Canaan society was the caste of farmers, the hupsu, or "rural host" (shabe name), who worked the farms and other units of agricultural production (cf. the gat or "olive press" as a term for such a unit). Effectually tied to the land in perpetuity, the hupsu provided the local militia that fought wars or engaged in construction projects for the state. A separate group called the 'Apiru lay slightlu beyond the fringe of "polite" Canaanite society of the Late Bronze Age. These were a collection of antisocial renegades, castoffs from society, who maintained a semi-independent community in the rural districts of the Canaanite states. Though often in the service of these states, the 'Apiru generally guarded their independence and freedom of movement. Much has been written in speculation on the adverse social conditions within Canaanite society that must have given rise to such a group; and it is not unlikely that a combination of mismanagement, economic straits, and natural phenomena may have combined, as in the Roman Empire in the third century A.D., to produce a "flight from the land" on the part of a disenfranchised element of the population. Whatever the reason, the 'Apiru, as their name suggests, ("dust makers," i.e. people who vacate the premises with speed) display a gypsylike quality, and proved difficult for state authorities to bring under effective control. THeir heterogenous nature is vividly illustrated by censis lists from Alalakh, wherein one 'A[iruband includes an armed thief, two charioteers, two beggars, and even a priest of Ishtar. [pg.195]

    From Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: 10,000 - 586 B.C.E.
    by Amihai Mazar
    • The Amarna documents often mention danger from the Habiru, a class of people without permanent citizenship who from time to time attack the territory of the city-states, though they may also serve the cities as military mercenaries, workmen and so forth. Shechem appears as the capital of a very large territory where many of the Habiru resided. Labaya, this territory's ruler during the Amarna Period, tried to gain control of an even larger area, the plains north and southwest of his territory, until he was stopped by a united force of several Canaanite cities.

      There was also a widespread nomadic or seminomadic pastoral population in the country, particularly in the mountains and on the desert fringes. The Egyptians used the general title "Shasu," to denote this population. In times of drought and crisis these pastoralists could become raiders and endanger the settled, cultivated regions.

      The economic exploitation of the country by the Egyptians for over three hundred years, the inner rivalry between the cities, and the invasions of the Habiru and seminomadic raiders brought about a gradual deterioration in the Canaanite culture. [pg. 237]

    From The Israelites
    by B.S.J. Isserlin
    • Settlements became fewer, smaller in size and the quality of material civilization declined. Egyptian exactions may be to blame, but also the insecurity caused by unsettled marauders and outlaws. Among these, a group featuring [sic] repeatedly in the Amarna letters - the international diplomatic archive of clay tablets written in Akkadian found at el-Amarna in Egypt and sating from the early fourteenth century BC - has been much discussed. Styled Hap/biru (corresponding to the transcription 'Apiru in Egyptian documents), they were at first related by scholars to the biblical Hebrews; the fact that they were active particularly in the western hill country and in league with the ruler of Shechem seemed to support the equation. However, it has since been shown that the term refers to a much wider class if 'displaced' people found from Mesopotamia to Egypt during the second millennium BC. Some too service as labourers or mercenaries, others became brigands; and runaway peasants might swell their ranks - the term was not mainlu an ethnic one. Some connection with the Hebrews of the Bible cannot be ruled out completely. The case seems similar to another group of unsettled freebooters - the Shasu or Shosu of Egyptian texts, who were active particularly in southern Transjordan in the thirteenth century B.C. The place name Y-h-w is located in their region, and some think they played a part in the formation of Israel, but this remains hypothetical. [pg. 55]
     
  2. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    And, from Exploring Exodus: The Origins of Biblical Israel
    by Nahum M. Sarna
    • Attempts have been made to find the origen of "Hebrew" in the phenomenon of Hab/piru or 'Apiru documented over a long period of time and in a wide variety of texts deriving from all over the ancient Near East stretching from Egypt through Canaan into Syria and the Hittite sphere and down into Mesopotamia. For about a thousand years covering the entire second millennium B.C.E., these people, wherever and whenever they appear, constitute an alien, inassimilable element in the population. They share in common an inferior social status. They may be mercenaries, slaves, marauding bands; only occassionaly do they hold important positions. Certainly, the term Hab/piru or 'Apiru has no ethnic coloration, and the names they bear betray widely varying linguistic and cultural connections -- Akkadian, Hurrian, West Semitic, and others. The term is overwhelmingly derogatory, and in cuneiform text is often written as SA.GAZ, which syllables are associated with murder, robbery, and razzia. From all this it is clear that there is no connection between the biblical "hebrews," who constitute a distinct ethnic group, and the Hab/piru or 'Apiru, unless the term simply indicates social elements marginal to society. [pg. 54]
    • A widely held view that the origin of the biblical term "Hebrew" is to derive it from 'eber, "beyond, across," and to connect it with the phrase 'eber ha-nahar, "Beyond the River (Euphrates)," whence the ancestors of Israel came. This is how the Greek translation of the Bible known as the Septuagint seems to have understood "Hebrew," for it renders it "the one from beyond," "the wanderer." Still a third explanation traces it to Eber, ancestor of Abraham. Both these attempts have the disadvantage of not being able to account for the biblical restriction of "Hebrew" to Israel, to the exclusion of the other ethnic groups that descended from Abraham or from Eber, Abraham's family in Aram-naharaim are "Arameans," while the other descendants of Eber are simply b'nei 'eber, literally, "sons of Eber." Until further evidence is at hand, the origin and significance of the term "Hebrew" must remain a mystery. [pg. 55]
     
    #2 Jayhawker Soule, Sep 27, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  3. susanexpress1

    susanexpress1 New Member

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    Very good information.
     
  4. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    A text I have here at work presents an opposing view and raises an interesting question.

    From In Search of Pre-Exilic Israel: Was there an Exodus?
    by Graham Davies
    • We move now from direct evidence to some indirect evidence or evidence which provides an analogy to some of what the biblical narratives of the Exodus say. Most of this is well known. I drew attention earlier to the fact that in Exodus the Israelites are quite often referred to as 'Hebrews'. In texts of the Egyptian New Kingdom there are numerous references to people called 'pr(w), probably vocalized 'apiru, being in Egypt, though that is apparently not their place of origen: some of the texts refer to 'apiru being brought as prisoners of way from Palestine (for a listing of the Egyption texts see Loretz 1984: 35-44). For example, in Amenhotep II's second campaign (secnd half of the fifteenth century) he claims to have captured, among other groups, 3600 'apiru and 15,200 Shasu (Bedouin) (ANET, 247). The precise nature of these people is much debated, but further references to them in Palestine appear in the Amarna letters, and they seem best described as 'outsiders' from the point of view of the city-state population of Canaan: the term is used, however, all over the Near East. In Egypt the 'apiru are generally mentioned as workmen on state projects, in which they were forced to participate with other prisoners of war. A tomb-painting of a royal vizier (Rekhmire) of the mid-fifteenth century shows such prisoners-of-war making bricks (Hoffmeier 1977: fig. 8): some of them are said to have come from the Levant. More specifically, two Leiden papyri (nos. 348 and 349), which are dated to the thirteenth century, mention 'apiru as labourers: the former says 'Give grain rations to the people of the army and to the 'apiru who are dragging stones forthe great pylon of ... Ramses Miamu' (Galling 1979: 35 [D]), while the latter contains a response to a similar command: 'A further matter: have taken note of my lord's message to me saying, "Give grain rations [to] the soldiers and the Apiru(-labourers) who are drawing (water from) the well of Pre of Ramesses II, 1.p.h. south of Memphis". Farewell!' (Wente 1990: 124). Apparently 'apiru and othe foreigners also worked in agriculture: Ellen Morris has evidently made a study of Eighteenth Dynasty tomb-paintings from Upper Egypt which shows this (see the summary in Hoffmeier 1997: 115).

      This evidence might simply be valued, as it often is, as showing that the oppression og the Israelites in the Exodus has some general plausibility because of the way in which foreign prisoners of war were utilized in the New Kingdom period. Its significance is sometimes dismissed on the ground that the Israelites entered Egypt of their own accord, seeking food, and wer not prisoners of war. Can we be so sure. The historical link between the Exodus story and the Joseph story is not very tight: there is a long gap assumed during which the small family becomes a great people. May not the 'Exodus group' have consisted largely of prisoners of war? There is fter all the tantalizing similarity between the words 'apiru and 'Hebrew'. It is widely recognized that they could be and probably are connected. A connection is sometimes thought to be improbable because, while 'apiru is a sociological term for a certain kind of person ('outsider'), 'Hebrew' is an ethnic term. But is it so clear that 'Hebrew' in Exodus is an ethnic term? It seems to me quite possible that there too it actually has a social meaning and that it can be dissociated from any particular ethnic identity. If so, there is probably more significance than is usually recognized in the coincidence of nomenclature between what seems to be an early stratum of the Exodus tradition and the references to 'apiru in Egypt in the New Kingdom period. I am not suggesting one-to-one identity between an Exodus-group and any of the 'apiru mentioned in the Egyptian text - we are still dealing with an argument from analogy - but that the comparison may make us more confident that the biblical tradition is based on some knowledge of not only labour relations in general but specific nomenclature of the New Kingdom period.
     
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