The distinction in terminology between “Edomite” as referring to the Iron Age kingdom centered east of the Wadi ʿArabah and “Idumean” as referring to the region south of Judah in the Hellenistic period is a totally modern one, existing in neither ancient Hebrew nor Greek. Hebrew used אֱדוֹם, “Edom”, for both, while in Greek, the Septuagint often used Εδωμ, “Edom”, when referring to the descendants of Hσαυ, “Esau”, but usually used Ιδουμαίᾳ, “Idoumaia
”, to refer to their kingdom. Josephus followed this, but also used “Idoumaia
” when referring to the Hellenistic period province, as do other Hellenistic period sources (for which, see Marciak 2018a
). In this paper, we shall refer to the Iron Age kingdom as “Edom”, to the Hellenistic period province as “Idumea”, but we shall also use the form “Edomite” to refer to ethnic Edomites residing in Persian and Hellenistic period Idumea.
For a discussion of the way such relationships are reflected in biblical genealogies see (Tebes 2006
In this article, we use the terms ʿArabah and Wadi ʿArabah in their modern sense, referring to the section of the Jordan Rift Valley that runs from the southern tip of the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba, rather than in the biblical sense, in which “Arabah” usually refers to the section of the Rift that runs north of the Dead Sea.
(Aharoni 1979, p. 408
), thought that Edom had “collapsed under pressure from the Nabataeans who had penetrated the southern regions of Transjordan”, while (Bartlett 1999, p. 105
), attributed the “collapse and subsequent decay” of Edom to the disruption of trade following the destruction of Judah, rather than to a purposeful move by the Neo-Babyloneans. The Selaʿ carving seems to prove that the Edomite kingdom was purposely disbanded by Nabonidus, perhaps even after an armed struggle. See also (Crowell 2007
(Bienkowski 1995, pp. 60–61
), although in a later article (Bienkowski 2001
), he cited some evidence of both Neo-Babylonian and Persian period rebuilding and occupation at Busayra (biblical Bozrah, the apparent capital of the Iron Age kingdom of Edom) at Tawilan and at Tell el-Kheleifah near Eilat/Aqaba. He then speculated that there could have been “some sort of political entity called Edom” throughout the Persian period, while at the same time admitting that “at present there is no evidence” of this. In light of the data collected here, we consider this to be very unlikely. HHh.
xix 94–95, 98 (actually quoting the third century Hieronymus of Cardia), although we should note that this reference is geographical, meant to elucidate the position of the “Asphaltic Lake” (the Dead Sea), and cannot be taken as proof that Idumea was already organized as a political unit by this time. For a discussion of this source see (Marciak 2018a, pp. 879–83
For a brief overview see (Eph’al 2003
). For the shrine at Qiṭmit see (Beit Arieh 1995b
). For ʿEn Ḥaṣeva see (Cohen and Yisrael 1995
). On the other hand, see the warning of (Bienkowski and Sedman 2001
), against the “unrigorous” and “uncritical” use of the label “Edomite” for any particular aspects of material culture. They denied that ʿEn Ḥaṣeva was “Edomite” at all and question the “Edomite” identity of Qiṭmit as well.
(Beit Arieh 1995c
), although one must admit that some of the readings would have probably not been understood as referring to Qaus if found in a different context.
See, for example, the spelling “Qaus” in (Knauf 1984a
“Qôs” in (Knauf 1999
), although this probably had as much to do with editorial policy as it did with Knauf’s own preferences. On the other hand, (McCarter 1996, p. 36
), followed by (Kelley 2009, p. 256
), posited a diachronic differentiation, with “Qaus” being the pre-Persian period pronunciation and “Qôs” being used in later times.
This is contrary to the rather innovative idea put forth by Bartlett
(1999, pp. 112–13
), according to which there was no ethnic or linguistic connection between the Iron Age Edomites and the later Idumeans, except their similar name, which in both cases was derived from the Hebrew “adamah”—meaning red, “terra rosa” soil.
For the coins of the neighboring provinces, see (Mildenberg 2000
; Gerson 2001
; Tal 2007
). This is despite the suggestion by (Gitler et al. 2007
), to identify a group of imageless-obverse coins found in the area as “Edomite”, precisely because they have no inscriptions or mint marks. They may indeed have been produced by someone in the area, but for them not to bear the mark of their minting authority would indicate that they were not minted by an official government body, Idumean or otherwise.
The connection between Nebaioth and the later Nabateans is often assumed, but is problematic; see (Eph’al 1982, pp. 221–23
), who rejected it on both historical and linguistic grounds.
Which (Lemaire 1974
) has reconstructed as a previously unknown “ʿIyaš son of Maḥalai the king”.
). One of these ostraca might even include the ethnonyms qdryn
(“Qedarites”) and ‘rbyn
(“Arabs”), although in (Eshel 2010, p. 62
) she admits that the readings are problematic.
(Levin 2007, pp. 247–49
). This, too, is not without precedent. From the Eshmunazar inscription, for example, we learn that “the Lord of Kings” (presumably the king of Persia) granted the areas of “Dor and Jaffa, great lands of grain that are in the field of Sharon” to the ruler of Sidon, “because of the great deeds which I have done”, apparently in aiding Persian naval operations; see (Galling 1963
; Aharoni 1979, p. 415
Diodorus xvii 48; Arrian, Anabasis
, ii 25–26; Quintius Curtius iv 6; Strabo, 16.2.30, writes that “the city was razed to the ground by Alexander and remains uninhabited”; see also (Devine 1984
; Giroud 2000
(Hodos 2010, pp. 10–13
), has pointed out the problems inherent in any definition of “ethnicity” vs. “race”, both of which may differ if discussed through emic (that is “inside”) or etic (“external”) perspectives.
For a recollection of the original “discovery” and publication of the latter, see (Porten and Yardeni 2006
). The publication of unprovenanced artifacts, including inscriptions, has been seen as problematic by the scholarly community, on both scientific (problems of authenticity and context) and moral (encouraging theft and illegal sale) grounds; see (Rollston 2003
; Vaughn 2005
). However see (Porten and Yardeni 2007a
) for their reasons for treating this as a special case. For a more recent summary see (Porten and Yardeni 2014, pp. xv–xxii
). For an ostracon, which obviously belongs to the same corpus, that was found in a controlled excavation at Ḥorvat Naḥal Yatir and actually mentions the site of Makkedah, see (Vainstub and Fabian 2015
A nice example of which is the Ostracon found at Tell el-Farʿah (south), originally published by Cowley and the re-read by (Naveh 1985, pp. 114–16
), as referring to sowing barley in a field.
For a general discussion of theophoric personal names and their distribution in the Iron Age II, see (Golub 2014
Following this, (Eshel and Zissu 2006
) speculated that Jews made up a significant part of the troops commanded by the Qedarites in the area, perhaps explaining the interest of “Geshem the Arab” in the affairs of the Jerusalem Temple, as recounted in Nehemiah 4 and 6. We should note, however, that if one follows the traditional mid-fifth century date for Nehemiah (for which see Demsky 1994
) this would have been about a century earlier than the Arad Aramaic ostraca.
The vast majority of which are attributed to Khirbet el-Kôm/Makkedah.
However, as emphasized by (Dearman 1995, p. 121
), the very “equation of Qos and Edom is essentially part of a circular argument (Qos = Edom; Edomite = Qos veneration)”.
(Dearman 1995, p. 123
). In note 8 there he added: “Given the particularities of rendering foreign terms in Egyptian syllabic orthography, perhaps all that can be said about these four names is that the interpretation proposed by Oded and Knauf is grammatically possible”.
This may be reflected in the biblical tradition of ‘Edom’/Esau’s being a hunter, as in Genesis 25:27; 27:3–4.
Erlich dated these figurines typologically to the late Iron Age or the Persian period and discussed Assyrian, Phoenician, and Achaemenid parallels to their iconography. See (Erlich 2006 and plates 1–3
“The Lord came from Sinai; He shone upon them from Seir; He appeared from Mount Paran” (Deut. 33:2); “O Lord, when You came forth from Seir, Advanced from the country of Edom” (Judges 5:4); “God is coming from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran” (Hab. 3:3); “Who is this coming from Edom, In crimsoned garments from Bozrah” (Isaiah 63:3). Psalm 68:8–9, 18 also uses Sinai imagery, but does not refer specifically to Edom.
See, for example, (Cornell 2016
; Levin 2014
). For the idea of a “national god” in nearby Ammon, see (Tyson 2019, pp. 3–7
; Bienkowski and Sedman 2001, p. 322
), who have raised the possibility that Qiṭmit was actually used by “Judahites
worshipping Qos” (italics in original), while (Kelley 2009, pp. 265–70
) suggested that Qaus and Yahweh were originally two epithets of the same deity, worshipped by the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Calebites, the Midianites, and the other southern tribes that eventually came together to form the tribe/kingdom of Judah, but subsequently “the Qos aspect of Yahweh was eventually lost, or perhaps censored, in the official religion of Judah”.
(Porten and Yardeni 2004
). However, see (Notarius 2018
), who has suggested that these names be understood, not as “clans” but as “collective clients”, while also admitting that a person who was authorized to deal in the name of such a “collective” may well have been a member of the family.
However, a word of caution is in order. As pointed out by (Naveh 1979, p. 195
), based on Qaus-theophoric names with Arabic elements found at Beer-sheba, it is possible that some worshippers of Qaus were ethnic Arabs.
Interestingly enough, only one of the four, Šmryh
, has the expected post-exilic Yh
. The other three, Ywʾ[b]
, have the typically pre-exilic Israelean Yw
, as in the Samaria Ostraca or Kuntillet ʿAjrud. (Eshel 2010, p. 61
), takes note of this but does not offer an explanation.
(Stern 2012, pp. 11–15
) mentioned 18 stone phalli and one ceramic one. Three additional stone phalli were discovered subsequently, while the “ceramic phallus” turned out to be a finger. My thanks to Dr. Ian Stern for the updated information, and for additional helpful comments on an early draft of this paper.
(Kloner 2011, pp. 570–71
). These figures are very different from the bearded male hunters, which Erlich suggested represented Qaus, but if indeed both groups do represent the Edomite god, it is possible that different sectors within Idumean society had different perceptions of the deity, or that these perceptions became more aniconic over time.
(Stern 2007, p. 221
). (Wolff et al. 2018, pp. 37–40
) emphasized the increase in Phoenician influence in the Hellenistic period, even speculating on the existence of a Sidonian πολιτευμα (politeuma
), an official recognized “polity”, such as were known to exist at other cities.
). Also worth noting is the comment made by (Stern 2012, p. 17
), that such installations may have been used for both ritual and profane purposes. Stern also cited (Miller 2010
), who discussed the use of such finds as “identity markers” in general.
For an assessment of Antiochus’ “decrees” and their effect on the Jews, see (Doran 2011
(Eshel et al. 2007
; Amzallag 2015
) has gone so far as to credit “Edomite Ezrahites” with responsibility for much of biblical wisdom literature and poetry. On the other hand, see (Crowell 2008
) for an opposing view.
(Kasher 1988, pp. 46–48
), pointed out the problem of trusting Strabo on the Idumeans’ “joining” the Jews, where he was wrong about their origin, although he was correct in that they came from what in his time was “Nabatea”. For further discussion of this passage, see (Marciak 2018a, pp. 883–87
While it is true that Josephus (Ant
. 13.318–319), ostensibly quoting Strabo who was quoting Timagenes, claimed that Hyrcanus’ son Judah Aristobulus I forced the Itureans in the Galilee to convert, much in the way Josephus claimed that Hyrcanus forced the Idumeans, it has long been accepted by many scholars that, like in the case of the Idumeans, Josephus was repeating anti-Hasmonean propaganda. See (Kasher 1988, pp. 39–45
; Dar 1991
(Kasher 1988, pp. 46–74
). For the opposing view, that the Idumeans’ conversion to Judaism was at least partially forced, see (Shatzman 2005
; Schwartz 2009
; Rappaport 2009
), following Kasher, who suggested both that the Hasmoneans dealt differently with the Hellenized urban Idumeans than with the rural families, many of whom would have been willing to accept Judaism “out of common hostility to the Hellenistic cities and Seleucid rule”, and that in general it was only the clan leaders who were forced to actively undertake to keep the laws of Judaism; the rest of the population was simply supposed to follow suit.
) and references there. On p. 52* Ben-David suggested that Hebron “was possibly inhabited by Edomites who were converted to Judaism by John Hyrcanus earlier during the Hasmonean period”, but offered no further discussion of the matter.
But see (Schwartz 2009
), who claimed that the identification of this Joseph as an actual paternal uncle of Herod’s is a modern error.
That is, the sites’ being built by Herod; the sites themselves are mentioned many times. For one example, see Josephus, Wars
4.531. For archaeological and historical surveys of both sites, see (Magen 2003
; Netzer 2006, pp. 228–32
(Magen 2003, pp. 255–56
), mentions an altar with the name “Kos” inscribed in Greek that was found at Mamre, but does not offer a specific date or context.
(Steiner 2019, pp. 9–10
), recently listed only one “possibly cultic building” at Iron Age Buseira, no such structures at all are known from Persian-period Idumea, and the presumed temples at Hellenistic Mareshah were probably part of the Ptolemaic and then Seleucid state cultic apparatus.
For the rabbis’ negative view of Esau in general, with a focus on Genesis Rabbah
, see (Langer 2010
See translation and references in (Maher 1992, pp. 164–65
). Maher (p. 12) accepts the opinions of those scholars who believe that in its present form, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan “cannot be dated before the seventh or eighth century”.