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Tribes of Israel

(2,334 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
1. History and Results of Research From Numbers to 1 Kgs. 11:30, Israel is portrayed as a community of 12 tribes. Discrepancies in the lists (either with Levi and Joseph, the sons of Jacob, or without Levi and with Ephraim and Manasseh, the grandchildren of Jacob), as well as an older system of 10 tribes of Israel (Judges 5 [without Judah, Simeon, Gad, and Manasseh, but with Machir and Gilead]; 1 Kgs. 11:31) plus Judah (1 Kgs. 11:32), show the 12-tribe system to be a recent, theoretical construct (see 4). In their material culture and linguistically, the tribes of the 12…

Siloam Inscription

(301 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] a Judahite inscription discovered in 1880 in the Siloam Tunnel (also called Hezekiah’s Tunnel); it describes the construction of the tunnel, which links the Gihon Spring (east of the spur of the so-called City of David; Jerusalem: VIII, 2; with maps) with the Pool of Siloam to the southwest. The inscrip-¶ tion is now in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. The usual association of the inscription with Hezekiah’s defensive measures in 701 bce (cf. 2 Kgs 20:20) has been challenged by issues of hydraulic engineering, city planning, and paleography. Archaeol…

Moab

(964 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] (מֹאָב /mōʾāb, cf. Arab. waʾ ba, “rock cleft containing water”), primarily a toponym denoting the region on both sides of the Arnon (Israel and its neighbors in Syria-Palestine, map). The plateau produces a surplus of grain (cf. Ruth 1), the slopes of the hills a surplus of wine (cf. Isa 16:7–11; Jer 48:29–33), and the edges of the steppe a surplus of animal products (cf. 2 Kgs 3:4), but this economic potential is impeded by a geographic location that makes commerce difficult. There is evidence of several complex chiefdoms in southern Moab in the 3rd millennium bce. In the (…

Dibon,

(315 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] a Moabite city north of the Arnon (Num 21:30; Isa 15:2; Jer 48:18, 22), modern Dībān. Under Mesha' (mid-9th cent. bce) it was the center of the Moabite state-formation process (Moab), although the Mesha' inscription (the most important archaeological find from the site) still uses Dibon as a tribal or regional name ( KAI 181, ll. 1, 21, 28), while the city itself was still called *Qarḥō or similar (ll. 3, 21, 24, 25). According to Num 32:34, it was a Gadite settlement (thus “Dibon-Gad”…

Milestone

(199 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] Roman roads were provided with milestones every 1,000 double paces (Lat. milia passuum, hence “mile”), which not only served as landmarks but might also include the name and position of the person responsible for building it, its date of construction, and the distance to the destination. Multiple renovations resulted in groups of milestones. Alongside ancient maps, these milestones provide evidence for the existence and routes of Roman roads; they are a primary source for the administrative and economic history of ¶ the Roman provinces, their trade and traffic…

Palestine

(6,836 words)

Author(s): Hübner, Ulrich | Hütteroth, Wolf | Knauf, Ernst Axel | Eck, Werner | Carmel, Alex | Et al.
[German Version] I. Terminology – II. Geography – III. Archaeology – IV. History and Society – V. History of Religions I. Terminology The area settled by the Philistines, referred to collectively in Akkadian by such names as palaštu after their conquest by Assyria, probably provided the basis for the Greek ( Sýria hḗ) Palaistínē, first found in Herodotus (1.105; 2.104, 106; 3.5, 91; 4.39; 7.89), even though the hypothetical intermediate Aramaic expression of the Persian period, the likely basis of the Greek form, is still unattested. To the exten…

Cult Sites (in Palestine)

(502 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] In addition to the temple in Palestine and northern Arabia, there were open-air sanctuaries, demarcated sites whose inventory regularly included an asherah , a holy tree, and a massebah, a holy stone, at least since the late Neolithic era. As its Old Testament designation, asherah, indicates, the tree represents the goddess, while the massebah was considered the locus of the presence of the god (thus Beth-El, Bethyl [Bethel]; cf. Gen 28:18–19a). Masseboth/bethyls could be left in their natural state, decorated with reliefs, sculpted geometrica…

Miriam

(313 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] מִריָם ( miryām, “the well-nourished one”), alternatively identified as the sister of Aaron (Exod 15:20) or the sister of Moses and Aaron (Num 26:59; 1 Chr 5:29). If it was not Miriam who sang (or composed) the song of triumph in Exod 15:21 (often, and probably correctly, considered one of the earliest of Israel's traditions), her traditio-historical roots are totally obscure. Exod 15 in its final form reacted to the scandal of a prominent female voice from Israel's distant past by …

Semitic Languages

(2,070 words)

Author(s): Müller, Hans-Peter | Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] I. General Survey 1. Origin and classification. Like the Indo-European and Hamitic languages, the Semitic languages are inflectional; in contrast to isolating and agglutinative languages, they can change the form of a root, for example Arabic singular rūḥ, “spirit, breath,” plural ʾ arwāḥ. The relationship between the Semitic and Hamitic languages is clearly the product of prehistoric migrations of groups speaking proto-Afro-Asiatic (formerly called Hamito-Semitic) from North Africa – from a Sahara still “green” from the …

Frankincense Road

(337 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] Frankincense Road, a caravan route from the incense producing region in southeast Arabia (Ḥaḍramaut, Oman) through western Arabia to Gaza (Pliny the Elder, Naturalis historia, VII 64). As a luxury item that combines limited volume with high value, frankincense was a typical international article of merchandise in antiquity. In turn, the flow of capital and technical expertise from the Fertile Crescent to Arabia resulted in secondary formations of tribes and states (formative phase of the Sabaean Kingdom [Sabaeans] c. 750–675 bce) and, in northern Arabia, in t…

Mamre

(369 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] (מַמְרֵא, genuine place name meaning something like “fat pasture”) stood in the middle of the hill country of Judah, about 3 km north of Hebron (Arab. name [until 15th cent. ce], Rāmat or Bēt al-Ḫalîl, “High Place/House of the Friend [of God]”). According to ancient tradition in Gen 18* a divine triad (from Hebron?) appeared here to the tent-dwelling peasant Abraham. When in the 6th century bce Abraham was made the mythic origin of the population of Judah, Mamre stood on the frontier between Judah and Idumaea (from 597/586 bce; Gen 13:18*; 16*). In the late 6th or ear…

Kinneret

(321 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] Kinneret, a city on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Galilee, Sea of; Heb. yam kinneret), today Tell el-'Orēme/Tel Kinrōt. A large settlement of the EBA I–II period (stratum IX) was followed by two cities of the 16th and 15th centuries bce (strata VIII and VII; MBA III/LBA Ia periods; mentioned in Egyptian sources under the name knrt) that covered an area of 7–9 hectares and were surrounded by a rampart-topped glacis. The city wall was rebuilt towards the end of the IA I period (late 11th to mid-10th cents. bce) and the settlement was repopulated. It seems v…

Ophrah (in Benjamin)

(191 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] (עָפְרָה; cf. for the meaning of the name ʿ āpār, “dust,” or more probably ‘ oper, “young deer, gazelle kid”), mentioned in Josh 18:23 in the list of places belonging to Benjamin. However, Ophrah lies beyond the northern frontier of Benjamin ( Josh 18:12f.) and has probably entered the place list from 2 Chr 13:19 (ʿ eprōn), plausibly identified with eṭ-Ṭayyibe (eudemonism because of the echo of the Canaanite Ephron with Arab. ʿ ifrīt, “goblin”), and matching details given by Jerome (5 Roman miles north of Bethel); probably to be identified with Aph…

Tyre

(340 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] (in Phoenicia); Hebrew רוֹצ/ ṣôr, Phoenician/Akkadian ṣurru, “rock”; modern Ṣūr. Tyre was an island city off the coast of Lebanon with a maximum area of 50 to 60 ha and a population of 12,000–15,000 (swollen to about 50,000 by refugees in 332 bce); it was associated with the mainland settlement of Ushu/Palaityros. Settlement began in the second half of the 3rd millennium bce, with the colonial expansion of Egypt into the Lebanon (Hdt. II 44); it is mentioned throughout the 2nd millennium as a subject territory within the Egyptian sphere of …

Tribes of Israel

(1,391 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] Biblical Israel (II, 1) is theoretically divided into 12 tribes (cf. also Rev 7:4–8). The oldest enumerations mention fewer tribes (2 Sam 2:9 [four]; Judg 5 [ten]) but include “non-canonical” tribal names instead (Machir, Gilead). Biblical Israel (II, 1) is theoretically divided into 12 tribes (cf. also Rev 7:4–8). The oldest enumerations mention fewer tribes (2 Sam 2:9 [four]; Judg 5 [ten]) but include “non-canonical” tribal names instead (Machir, Gilead). I. Tribe and State Tribes are political amalgamations of clans, which in turn represent territori…

YHWH

(601 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] (ketib הוהי, qere in codices A and L אמָשְׁ/ šĕmāʾ, in later manuscripts ינָֹדאֲ/ʾ ădonāy), the personal name of the God of the Israelites and Judahites. Historically YHWH is associated religiously and theologically with the prehistory of the one and only God as defined by the Hebrew Bible. Attested epigraphically since the 9th century bce (Mesha stele), saying the name became taboo in late biblical and rabbinic Judaism and it was replaced by Lord (hence the κύριος/ kýrios in the LXX, HErr in Luther’s trans., and Lord in most Eng. trans.). The reading of the tetrag…

Paleography

(6,872 words)

Author(s): Kooij, Gerrit van der | Knauf, Ernst Axel | Lemaire, André | Bloedhorn, Hanswulf
[German Version] I. Paleography Today – II. Palestine – III. Texts I. Paleography Today Paleography is the study of the development of writing; as an important element in codicology, it examines early forms of writing, particularly those of antiquity and the Middle Ages. The distinction between the use of ink and “epigraphic” writing is irrelevant. Writing is an empirical bridge between archaeology and the historical sciences (History/Concepts of history); it provides two starting points for paleography, one …

Midianites

(377 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] Midian (מִדְיָן/ midyān) was a son of Abraham and Keturah (Gen 25:2), but the name refers primarily to the land of east of the Gulf of ʿAqaba (1 Kgs 11:18). At least from the 13th to the 9th century bce, it thrived on terrace cultivation, copper mining, camel breeding (cf. Isa 60:6), and trade (cf. Gen 37:28; 36). During this period, Midian's influence extended well into the later territory of Edom (Israel and its neighbors in Syria-Palestine, map). Midianite pottery from the 9th century bce (carbon- 14 dating) has been found in the copper-mining regions of Timna…

Ophir

(209 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] is a semilegendary land of gold, reachable by ship from Elath (1 Kgs 9:28; 10:11; 22:49). According to Gen 10:29 (post-P), which makes Ophir a “son of Joktan” and a “brother of Havilah” (Hā’il or the Nufũd desert?), it was probably on the western coast of Arabia; the alternative Punt (Somalia) is based on the catalogue of trade goods in 1 Kgs 10:22, including ivory and apes, but Ophir may also have been a transfer station for the transport of Somali goods. In the mid-10th century bce, gold was mined in the vicinity of Medina. The gold of Ophir was proverbial (Isa 1…

Via Maris

(93 words)

Author(s): Knauf, Ernst Axel
[German Version] (Heb. derek yām; Isa. 8:23 [Vulgate and Eng. 9:1]; Matt 4:15), Vulgate designation of the Palestinian section of the main link between Egypt and Syria/Mesopotamia (Eng. “way of the sea” or “road by the sea”). It hugged the Mediterranean coast as far as Mount Carmel, entered the Plain of Jezreel at Megiddo, passed through Galilee, crossed the Jordan at Ǧisr Banāt Yaʿqūb/Gešer Bĕnōt Yaʿăqōb (“Jacob’s Ford”) near Hazor, finally reaching Damascus over the Golan Heights. Ernst Axel Knauf Bibliography D.A. Dorsey, The Roads and Highways of Ancient Israel, 1991.
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