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354 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 


The Supposed Inscription upon "Joshua the Robber." 

(Illustrated from Jewish Sources.) 

The historian Procopius makes mention of a Phoenician inscription 
that was found near the town of Tingis, in Mauretania, and which, it 
was said, was set up by Phoenicians who were fugitives from Canaan. 
He quotes the Greek as follows : foels to-per oi (pevyovrts anb 
Trpoa-imov 'irjuov -rov Xtjo-tov vlov Navi? ( Vandall. ii. 20). Suidas 
(s. V. Xavadv) gives it thus : 17/ms ea-fiev Xavavaioi, ovs t8ia>£ev 'Iqirovs 6 
Xgo-Trjt. 1 However unworthy of belief may be the notion of the 
existence of such an inscription, in which exiles from Canaan per- 
petuate the name of Joshua ben Nun, who expelled them, never- 
theless the idea which it expresses is attested by Jewish sources of 
even a much earlier date than the sixth century. In the second 
century R. Simon b. Gamliel said {Tosefta, Sabbath, VII., 25, ed. 
Zuckermandel, p. 119) : "No nation is more peaceable than the 
Amorites, for we find that, trusting in God, they made their way to 
Africa, where God gave them a land as fair as their own, while the 
land of Israel was still called after their name (Canaan)." What is 
here observed about the Amorites, was also said by a celebrated 
Agadist of the third century about another of the seven Canaanite 
nations. R. Samuel b. Nachman said (Jer. Shebiith, 36« ; Leviticus 
rabba, c. 17 ; Deuteron. rabba, c. 5, towards the end) : "Before entering 
the Holy Land Joshua promulgated a threefold decree (Kw 
niKDJirns, npoaraypa). It ordained that whoever desired to leave 
the country was allowed to do so ; whoever wished to make peace 
could do so ; and whoever wished to wage war was at liberty to 
do so. The family of the Girgashites wandered forth, relying upon 
God, and went towards Africa ; the Gibeonites contracted a peace ; 
the thirty-one kings came out to fight." This historical fiction 
relating to the emigration of one of the seven nations of Canaan, 
explains the circumstance that in the Book of Joshua (xii. 8 ; cp. ix. 
1) only six nations are mentioned as having been conquered ; the 

1 The quotations are taken from Winer, Biblisches Bealworterlueh 
(Article, " Josua "). 

Historical Notices. 355 

*5W12 (Girgashites) are omitted. At any rate, both the inscription 
spoken of by Procopius and the opinion of the Jewish sage3, which, 
it has been shown, assumed two forms, rest upon the apparently 
same hypothesis, that the settlement of the Phoenicians in North 
Africa is connected with the conquest of Palestine by Joshua. But 
whilst in the utterances of the Jewish sages a noteworthy superiority 
over a narrow nationalism is displayed, inasmuch as " trust in God " is 
ascribed to the Canaanite nation, in reward for which, as is expressly 
stated in Midrash Num.R. c.xiv., thename of the Holy Land was always 
to be that of Canaan, even long after Israel had dwelt therein ; the 
inscription of Procopius, on the other hand, by a single word manifests 
its hostile attitude against Israel, whose commander-in-chief, the con- 
queror of Palestine, it designates a " robber " (X^orijs). This word was, 
in fact, a favourite controversial phrase, hurled by heathens against 
Judaism. For this we have indisputable evidence in a well-known 
passage in the Midrash. In the beginning of Genesis rabba, it is said : 
" R. Levi (a famous Agadist of the beginning of the fourth century), 
explains the words of Psalm cxi. 6, ' He hath shewed his people the 
power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the 
heathen,' to indicate that God commenced the Torah with the history 
of the Creation, in order to provide Israel with an argument against 
the attacks of the heathens. When the pagan nations should charge 
them with being a people of robbers (as having stolen Palestine from 
the Canaanites), the Israelites, by pointing to the account of the 
Creation and the early history of the world, could prove that the 
Canaanites originally had also not been in possession of the Holy 
Land." The words in which the reproaches of the heathens are 
contained, run thus in the Hebrew, pDINI ^NIES" TIN piO ViV fb& 
OnX Onna bw HOIK *6n Dr6. The term pJIO (from ruin to vex, 
by word or deed) implies the worst kind of attack that could 
be made by the heathens against the national honour of Israel ; cp. 
Gen. rabba, c. 88, at the beginning (in a saying of R. Chama b. 
Chanina, of the third century) bv HD1X b*r\W HK D'OIO 1,T vb'& 
DHX D^DinDl D^lin ; and also Slur rabba, to the Sony of Songs, 
i. 6 (iu a saying of R. Isaac, a contemporary of the above-named 
R. Levi, and also a famous Agadist) HN D»J1» chiyn m»1KB> >s!? 
0*1133 lT'OH IT HOIK DnBIXl bxyw In the Midrash Tanchvma, 
the exposition of Psalm cxi. 6 is given in a somewhat different form 
in the name of the same R. Isaac (in the edition of Buber, "WN"13 
§ 11, only the beginning of it is quoted), and from this place Rashi 
took it, and with these words commenced his Commentary to the 
Pentateuch. The passage that concerns us here in this version is as 

356 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

follows: Dns'aatr djik d*dd^> htmrh n?i$rn ni»iK now dne> 

D'U njDw' minx. Instead of the Aramaic expression D*I1T3> 
(Jalkvt to Ps. oxi. has the plural form WID, cp. TliD'nJ, Levy 

Wiirterbuch, I., 362a), this version has the Greek D'DD?, the same 
word as appears in the inscription of Procopius as an epithet of 
Joshua. That which, according to the evidence of the Agadists, was 
said of Israel, the conqueror of Palestine, that it was " a nation of 
robbers," is applied in the inscription to Joshua, the historical repre- 
sentative of that conquest, where he is entitled " the robber." A 
remarkable proof of the fact that the African descendants of the 
Phoenicians really asserted that Palestine had been acquired by Israel 
ia an unlawful manner, and properly belonged to them (the Africans), 
is to be found in a story in the Boraitha (Sanhedrin, 91«), in which 
the Africans (Np^BN 'OD) appeal to Alexander the Great for 
their right of possessing Palestine, explaining that in the Pentateuch 
it is called " the land of Canaan," and Canaan was their ancestor. It 
caa be at once seen that in this story the name of the land plays the 
same part as in the above-mentioned saying of Simon b. Gamliel. 

The use of the term " robber " in a hostile sense, in reference to 
one of the conquerors of Canaan, is further supported by another 
passage in the traditional literature. In Sanhedrin, 106 b, we read : 
" A. heretic (SO'D, transformed by the censor into 'pllX) asked 
Rabbi Chanina (of the first half of the third century) whether he had 
heard how old Balaam was ? " Chanina replied, " It is not recorded 
anywhere, but from the expression in the Psalm (lv. 23), ' Bloody and 
deceitful men shall not live out half their days,' it may be assumed 
that he was thirty-three or thirty-four years of age '' (and did not 
reach his thirty-fifth year, the half of the normal age of seventy years). 
Thereupon, remarked the heretic, " You are right ! I have seen the 
writing-tablets (or the book) of Balaam, and therein it was written, 
Balaam the lame ' was thirty-three years old when Phineas the robber 
slew him." DHV3 fWV W ID tfVjn DJ&2 p:K> n^m pn^n "O 
rtNOD*?. It is a well-known and also plausible supposition of 
Geiger (JUdisehe Zeitschrift, vi. 34), that in this anecdote, as well 
as in other places, Balaam is a typical name for Jesus, inasmuch as 
the age of thirty -three years here given agrees with that of the latter ; 
but, notwithstanding this, the subject of the conversation between 
Chanina and the heretic, it must be noticed, is Balaam himself, the 
old heathen prophet, and the record, which the heretic declares he 
had seen, written in Aramaic, has an undeniable relationship with 

1 The epithet NTJil is derived probably from the interpretation of the 
word '32', Num. xxiii. 3. 

Historical Notices. 357 

the Phoenician inscription of Procopius. Just as in the latter Joshua, 
is designated Xflurijr, robber, so also is Phineas, the leader of the war 
against Midian, in which Balaam was slain (vide Num. xxxi. 8 ; 
Joshua xiii. 22) given the same title in the former. The source, 
whence the information about the death of Balaam is taken, is called 

by the heretic DV71T rVDpJ^a. This must have been a work upon 
Balaam with apocryphal additions to the Biblical narrative, and of an 
anti-Israelite tone, perhaps a production of the Gnostics, who were 
fond of distorting figures of the Old Testament, and glorifying just 
those very persons who are described in the holy writings of the Jews 
as being godless. The light that the analogy of the phrase 'IijctoCj 

6 \rj<TTi}i casts upon the nXtSD 11 ? D!"UD of the Talmud renders the 
conjecture of Perles (Griitz, Monatschrift, 1872, p. 267), that we 
have to read i"IXt2D'9Q Dri3 v 3, which refers to Pontius Pilate, quite 

In conclusion, attention must be called to a passage in Josephus 
" Against Apion," where among the reasons that he gives why the Jews 
for so long a time remained unknown to the Greeks, he brings forward 
this, that the forefathers of the Jews did not, as the Greeks did, be- 
come sea-robbers, nor did they engage in wars for the sole purpose of 
gaining more wealth (Contra Apionem, I. xii. 4). For piracy he 
employs the term that indicates robbery in general, Xgore/a, in the 
use of which he could hardly have had in mind any charges that had 
been hitherto levelled against the Jews that they were a " nation of 
robbers." The remark of Josephus just quoted is not so much apolo- 
getic as aggressive, upbraiding the Greeks, whose ancient history was 
sullied by piracy. It was only after the time of Josephus that it was 
sought to prove from their own historical sources that the Jews were 
a " nation of robbers," and from this antagonistic conception of the 
ancient history of Israel there also originated the inscription spoken 
of by Procopius which is ascribed to the Phoenician fugitives. It 
must be remembered that this historian came from Cossarea, where hos- 
tility to the Jews was an old tradition among the inhabitants. This 
pseudo-inscription that is to be found in his works may at any rate be 
regarded as another ancient memorial of anti-Jewish feeling that 
strove to falsify history. 

W. Backer. 


The Church Father, Origen, and Rabbi Hoshaya. 
In his essay on Hillel, the Patriarch's son, Graetz has hazarded the 
conjecture that the Jewish sage, from whom Origen, a resident of