Joshua and the Canaanite Conquest of Lycia in Turkey

by John Salverda

The Day of Miracles

    The first act of the newly commissioned Joshua consisted of three incidents that all miraculously happened on the same day. These were; the crossing of the Jordan River, the convocation at Shechem, and the mass circumcision at Gilgal.

Bellerophon had a very similar episode when he came to the Xanthus River. To quote Homer, "Bellerophon went to Lycia in the blameless convoy of the gods; when he came to the running stream of Xanthus, '" ("Iliad," book 6, Page 162) By the phrase, "convoy of the gods," Homer means to indicate that Bellerophon was traveling with the twelve gods of Olympus no doubt. (I have shown elsewhere, in an article entitled "The Council of the Gods" that the twelve gods are analogous to the twelve tribes, as in the story about the Egyptian exile of the Olympians.) The Scriptures say of Joshua at the Jordan; "Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of Yahweh, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap." (from Jos, 2:12,13) Notice how the waters "stand upon an heap." This spectacle, glossed over by many commentators, was well noticed by the locals who feared greatly the divine assistance afforded to Joshua. Here is a quote from Ginzberg's "Legends of the Jews," "The crossing of the river was the occasion for wonders, 'Scarcely had the priests, 'set foot in the Jordan, when the waters of the river were piled up to a height of three hundred miles. All the peoples of the earth were witnesses of the wonder." This wonder was reported by the Greek mythographers as well, for to quote Plutarch; " Bellerophon waded into the sea, and prayed to Poseidon that, as a requital against Iobates, the land might become sterile and unprofitable. Thereupon he went back after his prayer, and a wave arose and inundated the land. It was a fearful sight as the sea, following him, rose high in air and covered up the plain. The men besought Bellerophon to check it, but when they could not prevail on him, the women, pulling up their garments, came to meet him; and when he, for shame, retreated towards the sea again, the wave also, it is said, went back with him. ' For this reason it was the custom for the Xanthians to bear names derived not from their fathers but from their mothers." (From Plutarch, "On the Virtue of Women" Book IX. "The Lycian Women") Notice how the wave rose high in the air and "followed" him, this we are told, was to keep his enemies from being able to follow him. (as in Ginzberg where the Israelites were able to march the seventy miles to Shechem "un-assailed.") Notice also the bit about the matrilineal women, and keep it in mind for comparison with Joshua's role at Gilgal and "rolling back the reproach of Egypt" which we shall cover in more detail later in this article.

"' The day continued eventful. Un-assailed, the Israelites marched seventy miles to Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, and there performed the ceremony bidden by Moses in Deuteronomy ' Thereupon an altar was erected on Mount Ebal with the stones, each weighing forty seim, which the Israelites had taken from the bed of the river while passing through the Jordan. ' All this happened on one day, on the same day on which the Jordan was crossed, and the assembly was held on Gerizim and Ebal, ' the day on which the people arrived at Gilgal, where they left the stones of which the altar had been built. At Gilgal Joshua performed the rite of circumcision on those born in the desert, '" (From Ginzberg, "Legends of the Jews") Notice how in the "Legends of the Jews" the need is felt to explain the unbelievable ability of Joshua and the Israelites to miraculously jump from one distant location to another at this one juncture in their travels. This inconsistency of Joshua's movements is taken by some to be a flaw in the story caused by a poor editing job as tales from differing sources were cobbled together. However, it must be pointed out that this so called "inconsistency" turns up in the parallel Greek myth of Bellerophon at the exact same juncture in his story, thus arguing for it to be original to the tale. For Bellerophon had come to Xanthus in Lycia before he learned of his commission to kill the Chimera, he didn't need Pegasus up until this point, but now he did, and in order to acquire the winged steed he would suddenly and without explanation appear hundreds of miles away, (even across the sea) at a mountain in the city of Corinth, just as did Joshua at mount Ebal in the city of Shechem. As Strabo tells us, "Peirene (a spring of Corinth) was wont to rise over the surface and flow down the sides of the mountain. And here, they say, Pegasus, ' was caught while drinking by Bellerophon." (Geography 8. 6. 20) Furthermore Bellerophon, again like Joshua, would be required to build an altar, as Pindar says, "Then too that he should build an altar with all speed '" (Isthmian Ode 7. 44 ff). Thus he won divine favor and was able to capture Pegasus, which he would need to fight his battles. (Here it must be pointed out that Shechem, the city of Joseph's burial, is comparable to Corinth the city of Sisyphus, the altar on the mountain and Jacob's well, of "living water" do not pass un-noticed) Of course once mounted upon Pegasus he could return to Lycia in the wink of an eye and begin the conquest of the place.

The Conquest of Lycia

    Although little known, the conquering hero Bellerophon, has got to be considered as one of the most accomplished. Like Joshua in Canaan, Bellerophon in the vicinity of Lycia, was said to have undertaken a series of military campaigns designed to rid the entire country of every enemy. Lycia, was like Canaan in other ways as well, for as we shall recall, it was among the "Lycians" whom "Proetus" had lived and intermarried while he was in exile from "Acrisius," just as it was the "Canaanites" among whom "Esau" had lived and intermarried while "Jacob" took over the kingdom. (I have identified Jacob with Acrisius, and Esau with Proetus elsewhere.) Thus there is a kind of consistency here, as to the enemy nation, in both cases that had lasted right through the exile of the two comparable patriarchs Acrisius and Jacob, to the return of the equivalent deliverers Perseus and Moses, right down to the analogous conquering heroes Bellerophon and Joshua. It seems evident that many of the people, rather than fighting and possibly getting killed by the divinely assisted forces of Joshua, simply left the land of Canaan at that time to live in new lands. Lycia in Asia Minor was one of their main destinations, they also took with them to their new homes their stories, where we can find them in Greek mythology. It is thus apparent that the nation that became known to the Greeks as Lycia was largely made up of those people who once lived in Canaan but were flushed out in the days of Joshua, such as the Amorites, the Jebusites of Salem, and the Horites or Hurrians among others. I will return to this topic later in this article with evidence that the Scriptures actually report this mass departure.

The name "Bellerophon" is said to be Greek for "the destroyer of Beller," but this Beller remains, for the most part, unidentified. I would propose that the name Bellerophon is an extra-Biblical title of Joshua as "the destroyer of Bel," Bel being the chief god of the Amorites, the main enemy of Joshua during the conquest of Canaan. Unfortunately not a lot of archaeological evidence has come down to us from those Scriptural Amorites of Canaan, consequently we don't know much about them. However, there does seem to be a lot of information that has survived from Hammurabi's Amorites of Babylon. (These are referred to, by many modern scholars, because of their language, as the "Canaanites" of Babylon.) It is from these Amorites of Babylon, that we learn about their worship of Bel, also known as Marduk or under the combination name of Bel-Marduk, whose symbolic beast, or totem, was a very Chimera looking brute. Now, the Amorites did not call their national emblem, the symbol of their chief god, a Chimera, (they called it the "Mushussu,") and it wasn't exactly the same creature. It was however a three way beast with a lion at the front and a serpent at the tail, but it had eagle wings instead of goats legs. However, scholars who have studied the matter, having read descriptions of it and having seen the thing on ancient monuments, have called it a Chimera because that is what it reminded them of.

Furthermore the method by which Bellerophon, with divine aid, had accomplished this mission, namely, by pelting the Chimera from above with artillery, is suspiciously like the way that the scriptures say Joshua, with heavenly assistance, was able to defeat the Amorites, for they too were miraculously pelted to death with projectiles from the heavens (a unique motif, particular to Bellerophon amongst the Greeks, and to Joshua amongst the Israelites). It was the Greeks who named the mythical fire breathing beast, a tripartite composite monster, made up of a lion, a goat, and a serpent, the "Chimera." This name is easily a mere transliteration of the usual name for the Amorites that is attested to in dozens of ancient texts under the form, "Amurru." With this in mind, both the name Bellerophon and his foremost task, the destruction of the Chimera, are plausibly referring to the principal feat of Joshua, who defeated the Amurru, and thus, symbolically, was the destroyer of Bel.

Joshua did not defeat the Amorites in only one miraculous battle and there were many enemies of the Hebrews spread all over the land, called by many different names. In fact, the specific battle during which the stones fell from the sky was against the king of Salem, King Adonizedek, and his allies. Now, since the city of Salem, an ancient name for the city of Jerusalem, was also called "Jebus," these "Salemites" could also be referred to as "Jebusites," not to mention the less specific Scriptural term "Amorites." Bellerophon's name and the idea that he killed the "Chimera," were no doubt, a reflection of the accumulated deeds of Joshua, namely, the overthrow of the "Amurru," in only a general way. There were other stories about the wars of Bellerophon that were a bit more particular. Bellerophon was also said to have gone up against the "Solymi" and their allies the Amazons. There should be no doubt, in the reader's mind by now, as to the identity of these "Solymi." They were obviously the Jebusites of "Salem." The very capable mythologist Robert Graves, while not suspecting any association between Bellerophon and Joshua, does venture to speculate that the Solymi, whom he calls, "the Solymians," were named for the same "sun god" that the pre Davidic city of Jerusalem was named after. Not bad for a rank supposition, but in the light of all the evidence for associating Bellerophon with Joshua, the link between the Solymi and the Salemites becomes much more direct.

As we have said, these Salemites were the particular Amorites who met their demise as a result of their being miraculously rained upon by boulders from the sky, once again showing the Scriptural Salemites to be the Solymi of the Greek myths, for it is said that Bellerophon was able to defeat the Solymi by using his far famed military tactic of flying over them and dropping huge stones upon their heads. This leaves us to identify the allies of the Solymi, the Amazons.

For more articles by John R. Salverda on the Hebraic Connections of Greek Mythology, see:
"Helleno-Yishurin. The Hebrew Origin of Greek Legends"

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