Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Were Ophir and Tarshish in India?

PHILOLOGOS: Did King Solomon Trade with India? On the possible whereabouts of Ophir and Tarshish, and how to get there by ship from Palestine (Mosaic Magazine).
We seem to be trapped, indeed, in a form of circular reasoning. On the one hand, a number of biblical words are said to have originated in India because Solomon’s sailors reached it or the route to it. On the other hand, Solomon’s sailors are said to have reached India or the route to it because a number of Indian words occur in the Bible!

Is there a way out of this loop? If there is, it is connected to the “once in three years” (aḥat l’shalosh shanim) of 1Kings 10:22. Although nothing I’ve read on the subject treats of this phrase (it’s quite possible that I’m ignorant of scholarship that does), it seems reasonable to assume that it refers to a period of time in which Solomon’s ships regularly departed from Etsyon-Gever and returned to it. Where could they have been in this period?
Some entertaining but speculative ideas here.

A couple of past posts on Ophir are here and here. Philologos last discussed the name Tarshish when it came in as runner-up for the new Hebrew name of the planet Neptune.

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