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Goshen/Gesem the Arabian

Goshen/Geshem/Gesem the Arabian Sheikh from the Qedar/Kedar Tribal Confederation

H. Abdul Al-Dahir

According to the Septuagint Genesis: 45:10, Goshen is in Arabia:

“And you (Joseph, Jacob and other tribal members) shall dwell in the land of Goshen of Arabia, and you shall be near me, you and your sons, and the sons of your sons, your sheep and your oxen, and as much as is yours.”

The origin of the word Goshen is one of the many biblical conundrums. According to Genesis, Goshen was the land which the Pharaoh, who reigned at the time of Joseph, assigned to Joseph’s family. This land has traditionally been assigned to the Nile Valley and/or Delta of Egypt. In Arabic, the word ‘goshen’ is ‘maghashan’ and means a place where one arrives. In Hebrew, the word has no meaning. Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary speculates that the word is of Egyptian origin. Strong’s is partially right if one considers ‘gsm’ to be a pun on the Egyptian word ‘gs’ and the Old South Arabian word ‘gshm’. The Egyptian word ‘gs’ Aa13-Z1 means side, border of land. The Septuagint authors transliterated the OSA name Geshem as ‘Gesem’, a name of a Qedarite king which can be found in the Book of Nehemiah, a book which the Septuagint authors used as a source for their tale of Joseph.

The word Goshen was used only in the Masoretic texts which were written by the Arabic speaking Masoretes, who authored their texts under the Arab Caliphates between 632 and 1000 BCE. All other texts as the Septuagint and Vulgate list this word as a variation of the Egyptian word ‘gs’ as well as the biblical name Geshem. So, Goshen is definitely a Masoretic rendering of the Egyptian word ‘gs’ or Aa13-Z1 and Geshem which was transliterated into Greek as Gesem by the Septuagint authors. The word ‘Geshem’ was transliterated into Greek as ‘gsm’ because the Ptolemaic Dynasty (305 to 30 BCE) was the ruling dynasty of Egypt at the time the Jews in Alexandria were writing their biblical texts. The language of Egypt at that time was Greek as the Ptolemies were descendants of Ptolemy I Soter, the first Ptolemy to govern Egypt on behalf of Greece/Macedonia.

According to Gen 45:10, Joseph tells his brothers:

“You shall settle in the land of Goshen (Gesem in the Septuagint), and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have.”

He further warns them in Gen 46:33-34:

33 When Pharaoh calls you, and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our ancestors’—in order that you may settle in the land of Goshen, because all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians.”

These shepherds were known as mnTw, Hryw Say and SAsw to the Egyptians. These bedouin were defeated by Djoser who brought the Sinai into the Egyptian empire.

According to Joshua 10:41 and 11:16,  Joshua conquered ‘all the land of Goshen’ which was in the region of Gaza and Kadeshbarnea, which was located on the border between the Egyptian Peninsula and the southern border of Canaan. The Egyptian Peninsula, aka the Sinai in biblical literature, was known to the Egyptian as Biaw and Ta Mefkat or ‘the land of mineral mines’ and ‘the land of turquoise’. So, the land of Goshen or Gesem, meaning border land, was located in southern Canaan somewhere between the the southeastern border of the Egyptian Peninsula, the southern border of Canaan and northern borders of Edom which included the port of Eliat (ancient Elath) located at its southernmost tip at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. In other words. the tribes of Jacob settled in the lands of the Shasu, who were under the control of Egypt and whose territory bordered the eastern edge of the Egyptian empire. The Hebrews, except for Joseph whom it appears was modeled on Imhotep, never entered the Nile Valley. They dwelt in the land of their fellow Shasu, who happened to be Edomites and Midianites. The Septuagint authors obviously identified these Shasu as Arabs which is why they said Goshen/Gesem was in Arabia.

So, it is unlikely Goshen is located in the Nile Valley or Delta, but in a land that abutted the eastern border of Egypt, which was the Egyptian Peninsula. Ancient Egypt included the Egyptian Peninsula, which has been a part of Egypt since the First Dynasty (3100 BCE). There were several border lands that were under Egyptian occupation. One Egyptian occupied land was the Negev which included Edom, which bordered the Egyptian Peninsula to the West and the Gulf of Aqaba to the East. This designation makes perfect sense, because Gen 46:34 mentions that the Egyptians viewed the Bedouin (Shasu) as an ‘abomination’. So, according to the Septuagint authors, Joseph’s pharaoh settled Jacob’s people with other Shasu like them which would be somewhere in the Negev, Edom and Moab or Shasu lands occupied by Egypt.  In other words, the Hebrews were never in the Nile Valley or in the Nile Delta. They remained in a land on the eastern border of the Egyptian empire, which was southern Canaan and northern Edom. So, the phrase ‘you shall be near me’ is a gloss or later addition to the text used by an interpolator in attempt to place Jacob, Joseph and clans in the Nile Valley and/or Delta instead of their real location in Egyptian controlled Canaan or ‘Gesem’.

Furthermore, according to the Bible, Gesem/Geshem is the name of an Arab sheikh from the tribal confederation of Qedar/Kedar.

Here is the reference to Geshem (Goshen) the Arabian used by Nehemiah. This king is mentioned in the biblical Book of Nehemiah who wrote at the very time Geshem (Gesem in Greek) was a ruler of the Qedarite tribal confederation. The writings of Nehemiah were obviously a source for the tale of Joseph which was composed by the Septuagint authors who used the Arabic name Gesem (Greek-no ‘sh’ phoneme thus the name Gesem) as a land of refuge for the clans of Jacob.

Nehemiah 2:19

But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?

6 When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— 2 Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages[a] on the plain of Ono.”

But they were scheming to harm me; 3 so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” 4 Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.

5 Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter 6 in which was written:

“It is reported among the nations—and Geshem[b] says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king 7 and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”

Here is the Septuagint Gen 45:10:

kai katoikeseis en gÿ Gesem Arabias kai esÿ eggys mou, sy kai hoi huioi sou kai hoi huioi ton huion sou, ta probata sou kai hai boes sou kai hosa soi estin,

And you shall dwell in the land of Gesem of Arabia, and you shall be near me, you and your sons, and the sons of your sons, your sheep and your oxen, and as much as is yours.

MT version:

10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have.

The region of Goshen here means the region controlled by the tribal confederation of Qedar which was ruled by Gesem/Geshem, the Arab. Here is a map of the territory occupied by the Qedarite tribal confederation which abuts Egypt.

Qedarites in the 5th century BCE

The name Gesem is a transliteration of the still very popular Arabic name Jasim (Jashim in Old South Arabian) and means ‘the great one’. This is a very apt name for a Qedarite tribal sheikh who ruled a domain which abutted Egypt and covered a vast territory. In Egyptian, gs Aa13-Z1 means ‘border land’, and as you see the Qedarite tribal confederation bordered Egypt.

One must address how the Egyptian word ‘gsm’ used in the Septuagint text became the word ‘Goshen’ in the Masoretic text. The Septuagint uses the Greek transliterated word ‘Gesem’ and the Vulgate uses the Latin transliterated from the Greek word Gessen. So, from whence did the word Goshen come. It was used by the Masoretes who back translated much of the Septuagint into Hebrew. The Masoretic texts were written and revised under the auspices of the Arab caliphs from 632 to 1000 AD in Palesitne and in Iraq. That is why there are so many Arabic words as well as Greek words in the Masoretic texts.

The Masoretes appear to have changed several Septuagint words and phrases such as the Septuagint description of Joseph’s Egyptian name Psonthomphanech to Tsophnath Pa`neach. It appears that they also changed Gesem to Goshen. Gesem, of course would have meaning to the Alexandrian authors in Egypt since they were exposed to the Egyptian language. However, the word obviously had no meaning to the Masoretes who did not understand Egyptian. So, they changed the Egyptian derived word to an Arabic word. Why Arabic? Because the LXX (Septuagint) Gen 45:10 said that Gesem was located in Arabia. They changed the word to the Arabic word maghashan meaning ‘a place at which one arrives’. They transformed this word into a Hebrew word by eliminating the initial ‘m’. The initial ‘m’ transforms the root ghshw into a verbal noun. So, the root ghshw, which means ‘to arrive at a place’ is transformed into ‘a place at which one arrives’ or maghashan.

Hebrew grammar does not use this method to construct gerunds, so they eliminated the letter ‘m’ which indicated that this word was an Arabic gerund. Thus, maghashan became Goshen. And since Hebrew does not have the letter ghayin, the Masoretes further hebraized this word by transforming the Arabic ghayin to the Hebrew gimel. The result was the replacement of the Greek transliterated Egyptian/Old South Arabian word Gesem, to the hebraized Arabic derived word Goshen; a word which had meaning to the Masoretes since they were working on their texts in Arab controlled Palestine and Iraq.  The native language of the Masoretes was Arabic. Many of the Hebrew scholars wrote beautiful treatises in Classical Arabic. So, the Septuagint authors identified the Shasu or Bedouin as Arabs and wrote that Gesem/Goshen was in Arabia. Arabia did not mean the Arabian Peninsula. Arabia meant a place were Arabs or Shasu dwelt. One of these locations included southern Canaan and Edom.

According to Genesis, Edom (Esau) was the twin of Jacob (Israel). In other words, both kingdoms, the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel, had the same origin in Edom. According to the Book of Genesis, Edom (Esau) was the elder twin brother, which is correct when one considers that the kingdom of Edom pre-dated the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The kingdom of Edom dates to the 13th Century BCE. The kingdom of Israel dates to 1000 BCE. In addition, the first king of Israel was Saul Ben Qysh. Qysh is the Hebrew transliteration of the Edomite word Qws/Qwsh (‘y’ and ‘w’ are interchangeable in Semitic languages), who was the god of the Edomites. Qws was identified with YHWH. According to 1 Chron 1:15:17:

“17 So the Levites appointed Heman son of Joel; from his relatives, Asaph son of Berekiah; and from their relatives the Merarites, Ethan son of Quwshayahuw; 18 and with them their relatives next in rank: Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel, the gatekeepers.”

Qushayahuw means Qos is Yhw aka Yhwh/Yh/Yhh.

Furthermore, according to Wikipedia:

“The Edomites may have been connected with the Shasu and Shutu, nomadic raiders mentioned in Egyptian sources. Indeed, a letter from an Egyptian scribe at a border fortress in the Wadi Tumilat during the reign of Merneptah reports movement of nomadic “shasu-tribes of Edom” to watering holes in Egyptian territory.[12] The earliest Iron Age settlements—possibly copper mining camps—date to the 9th century BC. Settlement intensified by the late 8th century BC and the main sites so far excavated have been dated between the 8th and 6th centuries BC. The last unambiguous reference to Edom is an Assyrian inscription of 667 BC; it has thus been unclear when, how and why Edom ceased to exist as a state, although many scholars point to scriptural references in the Bible, specifically the historical Book of Obadiah, to explain this fact.[13]”

Edom is mentioned in Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions in the form “Udumi” or “Udumu”;..”

Furthermore, the Soleb Temple inscription (1386 to 1349 BCE) mentions these Shasu or Bedouin as the Shasu of Yhw or the Bedouin that reside in the land of (the god) Yhw.

So, there you have it. The kingdom of Judah began with the Shasu kingdom of Edom. The Shasu tribal confederation, which comprised the kingdom of Edom, split into 2 kingdoms: the kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Edom. The kingdom of Israel was later identified as the origin of the kingdom of Judah by Judean authors who were loathe to identify themselves with the Edomites, who they viewed as copper-mining forgers of molten idols and whose ante-diluvian patriarch they named as Qyn (Cain) which means smith. According to Genesis, after he murdered his brother Abel, Qyn ran to Nwd N35-U19-W24-Z7-D46-D54, an Egyptian word which describes the mining methods of the copper miners who mined the copper at Timna and Punon. The word ‘nwd’ means to sway and describes the method where miners were lowered into the mining shafts on swaying ropes. (This method of mining is alluded to in Job 28:4: “He breaks open a shaft away from where people live. They are forgotten by the foot. They hang far from men, they swing back and forth.). The biblical authors later named Esau as the patriarch of Edom. The name Esau may be the Hebrew version of the Egyptian word SAsw (Shasu in English) M8-G1-M23-Z7-T14-A1-Z2. In conclusion, the origin of Judah was Edom whose border was also once the brief home of Yhwh according to Deut 33:2:

“Yhwh entered from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir (mountain in Edom); he shone forth from Mount Paran. He came with myriads of holy ones from the south, from his mountain slopes.”

Yhwh entering from Sinai into Seir located on Edom’s border is a reference to the transport of the ark of the covenant from Mount Sinai to Mount Seir. (The Edomites refused Moses and his compatriots entry). Wherever, the ark of the covenant landed that is where Yhwh dwelt. So, according to Deut 33:2, Yhwh was transported from the Mountain of Revelation to a mountain in the Seir Mountain range (Mount Hor?) along the western border of Edom. From there, the ark was transported to another mountain (Mount Paran) then to Shiloh. From Shiloh, the ark was transported to Ashdod (captured by Philistines), then to Kirjathjearim and then to Jerusalem. So, the Judean authors did not recognize that Yhwh was also the god of the Edomites even though they recognized that Esau, the patriarch of the Edomites, worshiped Yhwh. This is one of the many biblical contradictions regarding the origin of Yhwh who was obviously worshiped in the area of Edom prior to the arrival of Moses according to Exodus chapter 3.  The land of Goshen was not in the Nile Valley or Delta, but in Egypt controlled Edom and Canaan’  lands occupied by the Egyptians between the 14th and 12th centuries BCE.

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