Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Joshua Ben Nun - The Robber!

When the Hebrews had withdrawn from Egypt and had come near the boundaries of Palestine, Moses, a wise man, who was their leader on the journey, died, and the leadership was passed on to Joshua, the son of Nun, who led this people into Palestine, and, by displaying a valour in war greater than that natural to a man, gained possession of the land. And after overthrowing all the nations he [14-24]easily won the cities, and he seemed to be altogether invincible. Now at that time the whole country along the sea from Sidon as far as the boundaries of Egypt was called Phoenicia. And one king in ancient times held sway over it, as is agreed by all who have written the earliest accounts of the Phoenicians. In that country there dwelt very populous tribes, the Gergesites and the Jebusites and some others with other names by which they are called in the history of the Hebrews.[33] Now when these nations saw that the invading general was an irresistible prodigy, they emigrated from their ancestral homes and made their way to Egypt, which adjoined their country. And finding there no place sufficient for them to dwell in, since there has been a great population in Aegypt from ancient times, they proceeded to Libya. And they established numerous cities and took possession of the whole of Libya as far as the Pillars of Heracles, and there they have lived even up to my time, using the Phoenician tongue. They also built a fortress in Numidia, where now is the city called Tigisis. In that place are two columns made of white stone near by the great spring, having Phoenician letters cut in them which say in the Phoenician tongue: "We are they who fled from before the face of Joshua, the robber, the son of Nun."

That was an excerpt from Prcopius History of the wars book IV. Who? Wikipedia enlightens:

Procopius of Caesarea (LatinProcopius CaesarensisAncient GreekΠροκόπιος ὁ Καισαρεύς; c. AD 500 – c. AD 565) was a prominent Byzantinescholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History. He is commonly held to be the last major historian of the ancient world.
But does anyone else mention these two columns calling Joshua a robber? Weirdly enough they do show up again:

Moses spent forty years until his death with the chosen people, and he left behind Joshua the son of Nun as his successor, who took Israel to this land which was promised to the authority of Abraham: it is the circle from the river of Egypt across the sea and the desert. He cast out all the kings and the masters of the tribes there. Whoever was pursued by him across the sea of Egypt and Libya fled into the region of the Africans because the Egyptians did not welcome them, on account of their prior history, for they had suffered because of them and had been drowned in the Red Sea. So they fled for refuge to the Africans and the solitary country in which they lived, assuming their lands and customs, and they inscribed in tablets of stone the reason why they moved from the land of the Canaanites to Africa. And even up until this time those very tablets are in Numidia, which proclaim this: "We are Canaanites, who fled Joshua the raider."
This is a quote from Suda - a 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia under the headword "Canaan" (scroll down a bit). It is possible and even probable that the source for this entry is Procopius.

(the sources were found via A.S.K)

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