Published in the Vancouver Sun, Insight Page A15, Tuesday
October 10, 2000
The French say cherchez la femme (“look for the woman”) if a detective wants to discover the motivation for a crime. Knowing the motivation will point to other clues that may solve a case. Maybe this Gallic adage applies to archeology and history as well as police work.
On Monday, September 12, 2000 the University of Calgary announced that excavations of the site of “Marib” (Ma’rib) in Yemen might reveal the identity, life and times of the Queen of Sheba. The university’s Dr. William Glanzman, field director of an international archeological effort to investigate the queen’s traditional capital, said that Canadian-developed GPR, “ground penetrating radar”, would help to discover what might lie under 10 metres of sand.
Although Glanzman acknowledged that Ma’rib had been partly excavated in 1951-1952 by the U.S. archeologist Wendell Phillips of the American Society for the Study of Man, the Canadian-led expedition expects to reveal much more about the Queen of Sheba than the dramatically curtailed Phillips expedition. Perhaps, said Glanzman, the site would provide evidence of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon as related in the Bible.
They may find more than they bargained for beneath Ma’rib’s sand, including the battered corpse of Jewish history.
Ma’rib had long been revered in the Arabic world as the capital of Queen Bilqis who “ruled with the heart of a woman and the head of a man”. Bilqis was a queen of Saba, a long-lived kingdom that flourished in modern Yemen and southern Arabia from about 1500 BC to about AD 500. This now desert area was once much more fertile. It was called Arabia Felix (Happy Arabia) in ancient times before the climate became drier. Highly advanced cultures of Yemen and Oman, still mostly a mystery to archeologists, built giant irrigation works before the changing climate defeated them. Some scholars even believe that Eden was located in southern Arabia and that this location is hinted by the still-revered “Tomb of Eve” near Medina, Arabia and by the name of modern Aden in Yemen.
Saba has traditionally been identified as the biblical “Sheba”. The Sabaeans populated a territory made prosperous by the production of myrrh and frankincense. In spite of drier conditions, Saba flourished because of irrigation and domestication of camels about 1500 BC. Camels made possible the transport of Sabaean incense across stretches of encroaching desert. Saba declined only when Christianity displaced other Middle Eastern religions. Early Christians disapproved of the use of incense in religious services, and this, along with expanding Arabian deserts, spelled the end of Sabaean economy.
Some biblical scholars have suggested that Sheba’s visit to Solomon was primarily a trade conference. Probably Solomon wanted to deflect some of Saba’s Egyptian-bound incense to his own new Temple in Jerusalem (I Kings 10:10), while the queen was equally interested in opening up new export markets. But popular tradition has always insisted that the two monarchs were attracted by more than trade. This is hinted in the Old Testament (I Kings 10:13): “And King Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty.”
Coptic (“Egyptian”) Christians called the queen “Makeda” and believed that her child by Solomon had founded the great Ethiopian dynasties that ended with Haile Selassie in the 1960s.
The Queen of Sheba has enjoyed much more prominence in the Arab world than in Judeo-Christian tradition, and Westerners were therefore not allowed to visit her capital of Ma’rib in Yemen. In 1843 Frenchman Joseph Thomas Arnaud entered Ma’rib in disguise and made the first European description of the ruins. He was followed in 1869 by another disguised Frenchman, Joseph Halévy, who smuggled out forbidden copies of 686 inscriptions. Austrian Edouard Glaser made three incognito trips to Ma’rib between 1880-1893 and brought hundreds of artifacts and copies of over a thousand inscriptions back to Europe. In 1947, Dr. Ahmed Fakry, later Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Department, openly visited Yemen but was forbidden to see Ma’rib.
Then, in 1951 Wendell Phillips somehow convinced Yemen’s young Imam ibn-Yaha, who had recently come to power by beheading his regent and First Minister, to allow Americans to dig at Ma’rib. This was a highly unpopular move among the infidel-hating people of the ancient queen’s capital. In a little less than a year of nervous excavation, the Phillips expedition uncovered an exquisite 60 by 82-foot temple within a 250 by 330-foot royal or sacred enclosure bounded by a 30-foot wall. This was said to have been the queen’s royal apartment.
Phillips also discovered the secret of Saba’s longevity. A dam one-third of a mile long across the Wadi Dhana, three miles upstream from Ma’rib, had conserved water from rare torrential rains in order to irrigate market gardens and thousands of hectares of myrrh and frankincense trees. This dam was destroyed either by a flash flood or by unknown invaders about AD 525 and was never rebuilt. The Queen of Sheba’s ancient realm finally succumbed to time and circumstance.
In the spring of 1952, local animosity incited the Yemeni Army garrison in Ma’rib to make several armed attacks on Phillips’ archeological camp. The pretty Frenchwoman acting as the expedition’s secretary was publicly promised the traditional “fate worse than death” by Yemeni Army bullhorn broadcasts five times a day – following each of the daily Moslem calls to prayer. But Phillips and his people fooled the soldiers and contrived to escape in two expedition trucks, leaving all the rest of their equipment behind. After a hair-raising Hollywood desert pursuit, the Americans and their lone French damsel managed to reach the British-held enclave of Bayhan. But, presumably, times have changed and things will go better for men and women of the University of Calgary team.
The Queen of Sheba is fairly well documented in history. The real problem is David and Solomon.
Outside of the Old Testament itself, there is no trace of these two Israelite kings in the histories of surrounding people. Several modern Israeli archeologists, headed by Dr. Chaim Romanescu of Tel Aviv University, have pointed out that there’s also no archeological trace of them or of the far-flung and powerful kingdom supposedly founded by David and later ruled by Solomon. The lowest levels or foundation of the “Temple of Solomon” in Jerusalem, known today as the “Wailing Wall”, could not have been built about 1000 BC. As Egyptologist Ahmed Osman has pointed out, these fortifications were mentioned more than four hundred years earlier in the annals of Tothmosis III during his conquest of Palestine in 1468 BC. This Jerusalem fortress along with the battlements of Megiddo (Har Megiddo, “Armageddon” = Mount Megiddo) may even have been built by Thothmosis III at that time.
Solomon (traditionally ruled about 1000 BC) did not transform these military structures into magnificent temples. It is known that both the Jerusalem and Megiddo fortifications were renovated by Thothmosis’ great-grandson, Amenhotep III (1405-1367 BC). Biblical descriptions of Solomon’s personal palace are almost identical to the real temple complex that Amenhotep III built at Thebes in Egypt, according to American Egyptologist William C. Hayes and Egyptian scholar Alexander Badawy .
The Koran (“The Ants”, Chapter 44) preserves an anecdote about the Queen of Sheba’s visit to “Soloman” that is not found in the Bible. She encountered a tiled mosaic floor depicting a pond’s fish, frogs and water lilies so realistically that she lifted her skirts as if to wade through water. This mosaic exists – in Amenhotep III’s palace at Thebes. Also, Amenhotep III was known to have married many foreign princesses in order to cement diplomatic alliances, just as “Solomon” is supposed to have done.
Does the Queen of Sheba’s visit to “Solomon” supply clues to uncover real history?
In The Bible Came From Arabia, Islamic scholar Kamal Salibi suggests an answer. “Moses” (i.e. mosis = rightful child or heir in Egyptian) of the Exodus (about 1360 BC) led his followers out of Egypt toward the Promised Land. As Sigmund Freud was the first to suspect, “Moses” was probably Pharaoh Akenaten who was exiled for his unwelcome imposition of revolutionary monotheism onto Egypt. Mosis would have been a good name for him because he was the still the “rightful” Pharaoh, even if few wanted him. Akenaten’s monotheism attracted some followers, including Hebrews living in Goshen (northeastern Egypt), but not the majority of Egyptians.
Moses’ land of milk and honey was not arid Palestine. He led his few thousand followers across the torrid moonscape of the Sinai Peninsula and on along the northern Red Sea shore of Arabia toward Hijaz, then a fertile garden about half way along the Red Sea coast. If there was ever a Jewish kingdom, it was here and the Yemeni Jews were remnants of it who survived the region’s later climatic deterioration. Salibi demonstrated that many biblical place names fit the Hijaz region of Arabia, but not Palestine, as other archeologists have confirmed.
What happened to Moses? The Bible admits that Moses never entered the Promised Land of Canaan. Yemeni and Indian Jews believe that the tomb of Moses is on the Indus River of modern Pakistan and disputed Kashmir. Danish archeologists working on the island of Bahrain in “the (Persian) Gulf” have now discovered there was lively trade across the Indian Ocean, using the Monsoons, from Yemen and Oman to the Indus cultures. Ships had been sailing this route from at least 3000 BC. So, Moses as an aged and revered leader of a Jewish population in or near Yemen may have decided to visit India in old age and might well have died there.
Salibi’s ideas, supported by archeology, may explain why Moses never entered Palestine. Yemeni Jews, like Ethiopian ones, were very nearly forcibly “repatriated” to modern Israel where their traditions were safely submerged beneath orthodoxy, but 50,000 Indian, Pakistani and Kashmiri Jews still exist and revere their “Tomb of Moses.”
Any Jewish enclave on the northern Red Sea coast must have been a small one, and it would have been a neighbour of Saba. It may even have been ruled by the Queen of Sheba. Women of Sheba certainly played a prominent role in Jewish folklore because David also had an affair with Bathsheba (“girl of Saba”), the traditional mother of Solomon. Were some Jewish “kings” mere consorts of Sabaean queens? If the major Jewish population was on the northern Red Sea coast, what about Israel in Palestine?
Salibi suggests that a few hundred straggling Israelite families, with their herds, dropped out of the Hebrew horde during the brutal crossing of the Sinai Peninsula. Since not even a small population could subsist by agriculture and herding in the Sinai itself, survivors made their way north into Palestine and settled quietly among the Canaanites already there. This conforms to archeology. There’s no evidence of any large incoming Jewish population, and no evidence whatever of “Joshua’s” armed conquest of Palestine.
Later, when the Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC, Palestinian Hebrews were taken as captives to Babylon. During this “Babylonian Captivity” (circa 587-525 BC), scribes and rabbis sought to aggrandize the history of this minority of Jews in order to comfort their defeated people. They took the lore of the Jews in Arabia, which then represented the bulk of Jewish tradition, and transplanted the action to Palestine whenever they could, as well as they could.
They emotionally distanced Jews from Egypt by making Moses a Hebrew and not an outcast Egyptian Pharaoh, and “explained” why Moses never entered Palestine. They invented Joshua to conquer Palestine on behalf of the Hebrews. They modeled David on Thothmosis III, the greatest conqueror of antiquity. “David” (Dwd in biblical Hebrew) becomes “Toth” in Egyptian. They modeled Solomon on Amenhotep III, the greatest monarch of antiquity. However, David and Solomon may have been the real names of Jewish chieftains in Palestine or southern Arabia, names remembered in Jewish legends. .
But compilers of the Old Testament could not completely ignore Jewish associations with Saba because these were too entrenched in folklore. There was folk memory of Bathsheba. There were probably songs about the Queen of Sheba. In the Bible, these popular songs are collected in “The Song of Solomon”, although several of them obviously reflect a woman’s point of view and require a female singer. Some are popularly thought to have been sung by the Queen of Sheba, who described herself as black. It is very possible that these songs were included only because it was impossible to ignore them. They must have been among the well-known scraps of Jewish popular culture, and there is nothing harder to eradicate than a cherished love song.
Also, there were traditions about the exotic products of Ophir, the kingdom of Seba on the coast of Africa just across the Red Sea from Saba. The biblical solution was to have David marry Bathsheba, to have the Queen of Sheba visit Solomon and to have Solomon’s ships voyage to Ophir and import these products of folklore into Palestine.
The scribes and rabbis also had to invent the tale of the Lost Tribes to explain what had happened to the supposedly populous and powerful Jewish kingdom of David and Soloman in Palestine.
There never were any Lost Tribes in the Old Testament sense. Jews were in Ethiopia, Egypt, Yemen, India (and perhaps even further east) before the Israelites even got a secure foothold in Canaan about 1100 BC. These scattered Jewish communities, which became vaguely known to some Jewish traders in Palestine about 500-100 BC, could be passed off as remnants of these Lost Tribes. Television producer Simcha Jacobovici has recently exploited this biblical inference with his very successful 1999 documentary Search for the Lost Tribes. It has enjoyed many broadcasts.
Before the Babylonian Captivity, most of the Palestinian Jews had been illiterate and had preserved Jewish lore in an oral tradition of songs and stories. The fall of Jerusalem and the massacre of much of the population, and the subsequent captivity of survivors, disrupted any certain knowledge of their previous true identity as part of the Jews. Songs and scraps of lore remained to them, but no cohesive history. Codified in writing by scribes and priests during the Babylonian Captivity, the newly created Old Testament was therefore enthusiastically accepted as history by Palestinian Jews when they were allowed to return to the Jerusalem area by Cyrus the Great (d. 529 BC).
Evidence that the Old Testament was “new” about 500 BC is suggested by the fact that although writing had been known in the Middle East for more than a thousand years, there is no trace of older written Hebrew history. To be sure, songs and names similar to biblical ones have turned up in various Middle Eastern writings, but no similar version of events. This concocted biblical history was later adopted by Christians, and because of that has since moulded the attitudes and foreign policy of the entire Western world.
The historical reconstruction offered by Kamal Salibi, Ahmed Osman and other scholars (Jewish, Christian and Moslem) agrees with the other histories of the Middle East, archeological evidence and C-14 dates. Within this historical resurrection, the Queen of Sheba may have ruled the Jews along with her other Yemeni subjects in southern Arabia. If she visited anyone on a trade mission, it would probably have been the greatest monarch of antiquity, Amenhotep III. Given the geographical location of ancient Saba in southern Arabia and contemporary Sebe across the Red Sea in modern disputed Eritrea, it seems that this southern Red Sea kingdom may have ruled both sides of the southern Red Sea. The Queen of Sheba’s lineage could actually have come to rule in Ethiopia. In short, Ras Tafarian believers may have a firmer grasp of history than our Western professors.
Note: In the above article I credited Dr. Chaim Romanescu with the recent Israeli archeology about the lack of evidence for David and Solomon's empire. I remember reading several articles to this effect, by this author. However, I may have done Dr. Ze'ev Herzog a disservice. Herzog may have been the real leader of these new archeologists. The article below outlines some of the archeological evidence. It should be added that in the 1950s, British archeologist Dr. Katherine Kenyon proved that there was no evidence of Joshua's conquest of Canaan.
Note: My article about the Queen of Sheba predictably inspired letters of protest, according to communications sent to me, to the Jewish owner of the Vancouver Sun, Israel Asper's Global Communications of Winnipeg. The idea was that a Jewish-owned newspaper should not print "anti-Semitic" articles. This had the effect that some of my upcoming articles (already written and submitted) were cancelled "for the moment" by editor Chris Rose of the Vancouver Sun. He explained that the "Insight" space had been taken from his editorial bailiwick. This naturally affected me financially, and was not the first time that concerted Jewish opposition has adversely affected me financially. Since the publication of Chosen People from the Caucasus in 1992, a combination of threats and failure to allow media coverage for my books has hurt me both financially and with regard to health and stress.
My own view is that inordinate Jewish representation in North American media, and disproportionate Jewish ownership of North American media, amount to the suppression of the available objective facts in favour of Jewish-Israeli myths and propaganda. This has had a direct influence on North American foreign policy in the Middle East -- and this propagandized support of Jewish myths may yet kill us all in a totally avoidable nuclear Armageddon, or freeze us all with totally unnecessary fuel shortages. Aside, of course, from the ever increasing number of Jewish and Palestinian victims in the Middle East. A truly informed North American response to the Palestinian-Israeli mess might have some hope of brokering a Middle Easten peace.
Something has to be done about inordinate Jewish representation in sensitive social sectors, and disproportionate Jewish control over sensitive social sectors (media-communications, education and finance). As just one example, all top seven editors of the New York Times are now Jewish and this major American newspaper greatly influences the rest of print and electronic media (which is also inordinately Jewish-owned). NBC is Jewish-owned, and six of seven owners of CNN are Jewish.
In Canada, things are much worse. The present head of the CBC is Jewish. I think that CTV is partly (or wholly?) Jewish-owned. CITY- TV in Toronto and Ottawa are Jewish-owned. Several major Canadian daily newspapers, including the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen and the Vancouver Sun, are wholly or partly Jewish-owned. As for TVO, it is a Jewish enclave with salaries paid by public money. Aside from ownership, from 30-40% of the editorial and production personnel in all these media outlets are Jewish.
Obviously, with this sort of Jewish involvement in media, we are not likely to get a "balanced" view of Middle Eastern crises and issues.
The Middle Eastern facts, insofar as facts are known at this time, are as follows:
1. The biblical Hebrews migrated into Palestine from the Caucasus Mountains perhaps 2000-3000 BC and were originally Indo-Aryan language speakers who gradually adopted a Semitic language. They were not originally "Semites" and so there is no such thing as "anti-Semitism" with respect to Jews. Most conventional scholars think that the biblical Hebrews were a component of the mixed Indo-Aryan/Mitanni/Ammurite/Hittite horde of Marianu warriors, whom the Egyptians called "Hyksos"
("Shepherd Kings", but the etymology is disputed), who invaded Palestine about 1800 BC. Some of these Hyksos, possibly including some Hebrews, invaded Egypt about 1650 BC and managed to rule about half of Egypt for a century or so. The Hyksos were expelled by Egyptian princes of Thebes and chased back into Palestine about 1550 BC. All these dates are only roughly accurate and are disputed. Later Egyptian campaigns pursued them even further into modern Syria and Iraq.
2. The Hebrews, although part of the mixed population of Palestine, never controlled or ruled the entire area of modern Israel. There is no factual evidence for an empire established by an Israelite "David" and subsequently ruled by an Israelite "Solomon". There were also never any "Lost Tribes" -- obviously, a large mythical population was needed to populate the equally mythical great empire of David and Solomon. The lack of any large Jewish population in Palestine some 300 years after the supposed time of David and Solomon therefore had to be explained, and the so-called "Lost Tribes" were that explanation supplied by the Exilic rabbis who concocted the Old Testament.
3. The present Jewish population of modern Israel consists very predominately of Central European Jews (and now their descendants) who have no genetic connection with the biblical Israelites at all. Their ancestors were Khazars, remnants of the Huns. Huns and Khazars "originated" on the northern Caucasus steppes of Russia and the Ukraine -- or, at least, they come to the light of history in the Volga valley as of AD 372. These Khazars were converted to Judaism in AD 740 for geopolitical reasons. Khazars specialized in slave raiding, according to Jewish historian Joseph Jacobs in Jewish Contributions to Western Civilization (published by the Jewish Information Service). These Jewish Khazars were later pushed into Eastern and Central Europe by the Mongol invasions beginning about AD 1215. They became the "Jews" we know today because they represent 95% of modern Jewry according to The Jewish Encyclopaedia (1960). According to the letter of biblical Israelite law, these people are not even Jewish.
4. The very few Jews who acutally descend from ancient biblical Hebrews, called "Sephardic" Jews (about 5% of modern Jewry, according to the Jewish Encyclopaedia), live mostly in Spain, France and were early settlers in the New World. They were largely responsible for stimulating and financing the transatlantic trade in black Africans as slaves, according to Jewish historian Jonathan Israel in his Jews in the Age of Mercantilism.
5. If we adhere strictly to the anthropological facts, there is ample evidence that both biblical Hebrews and European Jews originated in the Caucasus mountains thousands of years before "Judaism" was conceived. These mountains were a known refuge of late lingering Neanderthal populations.
6. Whereas it cannot yet be called a collection of facts, it has been my contention, based on anthropological evidence, that Neanderthals were more intelligent, more aggressive and were also more psychosexually disturbed than the other early human populations migrating into Europe and Western Asia at the close of the last Ice Age. Neanderthals retreating to mountainous regions were less affected by these newcomers and naturally remained less mixed with them. However, the preservation of Neanderthal traits by injunctions against outside marriage was characteristic of both biblical Hebrews and those Khazars who adopted Judaism in AD 740. I have tried to show, and reasonably (I think) how these intellectual and emotional characteristics account for the development of monotheism by these people, the survival of biblical Israelites against all odds and the inordinate representation of Jews in modern Western Culture.
These are the historical, anthropological and ethnic facts, insofar as facts are presently available. Now, wouldn't our society be more explicable if these facts were simply taken into account? Wouldn't 20th century history make more sense? And wouldn't the Middle East be a more peaceful place instead of a potential Armageddon?
All we have to do is face the facts in order to achieve a somewhat more peaceful and harmonious world. Many of the crises that threaten us all presently, exist only because we of the Western World have chosen to accept, adopt and defend Jewish historical and religious myths. The reason is simple: our present Christian myths depend upon Jewish ones.
This is not really true, as both the earliest Alexandrian Church fathers (Clement and Origen) and Jewish priests knew very well. But it has come to be considered true because of Roman Catholic and Protestant propaganda since Rome became dominant with the semi-conversion of Emperor Constantine "the Great" between AD 312-325. This was followed by the conversion of Emperor Theodosius and the destruction of Alexandria's Christians and library by Bishop Theophilus in AD 391. Before that date (AD 391), when Alexandria was the centre of Christianity specifically and of learning in general, the real origins of Christianity were well known.
In actual fact, Christianity originated in Egypt about 300 BC or much earlier, influenced the "Dead Sea" Palestinian Essenes by 200 BC or earlier, but the basic story was then elaborated and distorted by the victorious early Roman Church to make it take place in 1st century Palestine. After the destruction of Alexandrian Christians and records in AD 391, there was no one to argue with Rome's version of events. Later Protestants of AD 1450-1750, although rejecting the pomp and excesses of the Roman Church, had perforce already accepted Rome's version of the New Testament.
We've all read newspaper and magazine articles claiming that the Dead Sea Scrolls do not threaten Christian orthodoxy and that "there's no evidence that Jesus was an Essene." The last assertion is at least technically true -- Jesus himself was not an Essene because he had been killed as the "Teacher of Righteousness" by a "Wicked Priest" (on a "tree"), which was why the Essenes began to worship and revere him in the first place. The modern Arabic word for Jesus is "Essa", and obviously also was the Aramaic word for Jesus because "Jesus" is just a Latinization of "Essa". In short, the "Essa-enes" worshipped Jesus -- but 250 years before he was born, accordding to the canonical New Testament.
Aside from the New Testament itself, there is no independent evidence of Jesus in 1st century Palestine. There is independent evidence of John the Baptist, much independent evidence of a previous Jesus who had lived many centuries BC and much evidence of the basic Messiah/Jesus story several centuries BC. These are just some of the lessons of the "Dead Sea Scrolls" -- which is why they have been suppressed.
Belief in Christianity does not depend upon acceptance and defense of Old Testament Jewish myths. As Hosea, probably an Essene, put it around 600 BC: "Out of Egypt I called my son." This was no "prophecy". Even in 600 BC it was already ancient history for the Dead Sea Essenes.
However, while the essential saviour story of Christianity does not depend upon Jewish Old Testament myth, modern Israel does depend upon the financial and military support of nominal orthodox Christians in North America and Western Europe. This may explain why the Israeli government has supported the Roman Catholic priests who have been studying the scrolls and who have suppressed their contents for 50 years.
The identity of this ancient Jesus, the son of God (in a way) has been established with reasonable certainty and with much evidence of "Christian" trappings, the sign of the Fish, the Holy Family, the Trinity, baptism with the Waters of Life, and so on.
However, to return to the Hebrews and Jews. The actual facts (insofar as they are presently available) show conclusively that there is no justification for the modern state of Israel "as the traditional Jewish homeland" in Palestine, and it is a gross farce as a "homeland" for Central European Jews. All of us are likely to pay a high price for the creation of this historical travesty and our continued support of it. Or, the non-Jewish majority of us can at last learn the facts, decide not to be propagandized and demand of our politicians some social structure whereby the facts (insofar as they are known) become the basis of domestic and international policies.
Policy based on fact, and an admission of these facts, might have some slim hope of negotiating a Middle East peace. Our present policies, based on the myths of just one ethnic group involved in the conflict, have no hope at all.
As the Good Book put it: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set your free." Or something like that. The question is, do we have the guts to face the truth?