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The Song of the Muscles - Chapter Seven: Swimming as a combat sport

The manifestations of sport and its expressions during the biblical period in the kingdoms of the Euphrates and Tigris, like the pharaonic Egyptian culture, were usually gathered under one superlative roof, which can be called combat sports or military sports

a swimmer From Wikipedia
a swimmer From Wikipedia

The manifestations of sport and its manifestations during the biblical period in the kingdoms of the Euphrates and the Tigris, like the pharaonic Egyptian culture, were usually gathered under one superlative roof, which can be called combat sports or military sports. That is, various physical exercises designed to cultivate the warrior's physical skills and endurance while alongside them were no less important purposes such as worship and entertainment.

Among the sports considered to cultivate the warrior's physical fitness and improve his skills, swimming stood out, considering an exercise that was naturally accepted in those areas with rivers such as the Euphrates and the Tigris as well as the Nile.

A fundamental disagreement has been abandoned among the research community regarding the definition of swimming styles in the ancient period. And when this afflicts the classical Greek period, and even the Roman period, despite the many evidences and findings, it is easy to fail concerning the pre-Ralesian era. Indeed, it would not be surprising if anyone examining ancient paintings and reliefs, from the second and first millennium BC, would find it difficult to definitively determine whether it is a clear and visible swimming style, such as "breast", "rowing" or "side", or whether it is something that can be Call it a "natural" style ("dog swimming"). And in general, these images may feed a wide range of hypotheses.

It seems that a look at the biblical sources may open a window to the world of our discussion. Well, river crossings are mentioned a number of times in the Bible, but without any mention of a river, such as David crossing the Jordan River during the rebellion of his son Absalom, and at the same time Shimei ben Gera crossed the Jordan at the head of his army.

For the first time the expression "swam" is mentioned in the book of Isaiah, and it is in the way of the symbol: "And he spread out his hands in his midst when the swimmer spread out to swim" (Isaiah 12:XNUMX). The next to define precisely this style will, without a doubt, encounter difficulties. In general, we can assume that the verse outlines a style close to the "chest" style, even though much of it is hidden from the visible. It seems that the clarification of the difficulty is hidden later in the above verse: "...and humbled his pride with the fists of his hands".

In order to try and shed light on the opal of the aforementioned problems, we will follow the archaeological findings. Well, some Assyrian bas-reliefs found in the northwestern palace, which is the palace of King Ashurntsarfel II (859-883 BC) in Nimrod (Kalah), unfold before us a very interesting picture, folded in river crossings. Among the soldiers who swim across the river, a number of soldiers can be seen crossing the river with the help of inflatable leather nadas. They force the nadas into their midst by clasping their hands, while they use the movements of their feet in the water, to speed up their progress.

Well, it would be so far from assuming that our above verse in the book of Isaiah refers to a similar image in its symbol. We would say that the swimmer spreads his "hands in his bosom" while in this way he embraces the nad of the skin and "humbles his pride" - as a symbol of that nad of the skin in a hugging motion "with the locusts of his hands", and how interesting this is, that the expression "locust" in the Babylonian Talmud, under the influence of the local language, It is nothing more than a small ship, the one that also appears in another source as a "sheitin's barrel" (Mishnat Khilim XNUMX:XNUMX), that is, a wooden device for learning to swim, or an auxiliary accessory for a swimmer.

And as for the historical context, it seems that it is not for nothing that we found this verse in the words of Isaiah. This prophet lived in the land during the strengthening of the Assyrian kingdom and was a witness to the campaigns of the kings to the land (701-734 BC). Thus it is not so far from supposing that the swimming accessory discussed here was seen in Israel and practiced by the Assyrian soldiers.

We will end with the words of the prophet Ezekiel who lived and worked in the first half of the sixth century BC and was among the dignitaries of Jerusalem who exiled in 597 BC together with Jehoiachin, king of Judah. Ezekiel knows how to distinguish between the heights of the water's surface by the following linguistic phrases: "Ephesian water" which is very shallow, "waist water" as shallow and slightly deep and "swimming water" defined as deep, that is, a water crossing that can only be crossed by swimming. Did the Assyrian soldiers also appear before Ezekiel's eyes?!

In the book of Psalms, an image is given about the path of the symbol as follows: "I touched my sigh, I will bathe my bed every night, I will carry my cradle with my tears" (Psalm 7).

6 תגובות

  1. Strictly:
    come on!
    It starts with the phrase "it's not that far from a hypothesis" and you ask "why are you so sure".
    This continues in the "swimming accessory discussed here" and I emphasize: by Isaiah who lived at the time he spoke and not at another time.
    This refers specifically to a quote from the Bible (in direct contradiction with your words regarding the Bible).
    In short - there is no point in repeating what I have already said, but everything is true.

  2. My reference was to his hypothesis:
    "Thus it is not so far from assuming that the swimming accessory discussed here was seen in Israel and practiced by the Assyrian soldiers."
    All I meant, if I too may assume/assume, that the device of floating/swimming as a method is typical for the land of the rivers,
    It was known in Canaan as part of the travel stories of merchants and the like.

  3. Strictly:
    I don't think you read the article.
    After all, it doesn't say at all that the author is certain of anything.
    Nor does it say at all that someone had to wait for something.
    On the other hand - it actually quotes from the Bible that you claim is misleading.
    In short - it seems that your entire response was intended to harm the author of the article and for that you allowed yourself to invent a new article and writer.
    Now - be a man and apologize.

  4. Dear Amitai, there is indeed no story of a woman swimming there, but there is ancient evidence of a fairly free movement from place to place.
    Which means that the flow of information about culture, art and everyday life existed even before the conquest of Canaan
    And surroundings.

    (I'm not a man, but a woman)

  5. Why are you so sure that it was necessary to wait until the conquerors arrived here, along with their swimming equipment.
    After all, merchants and wanderers who came from here to there, and from there to here, must have seen these means of swimming long ago, and not only
    in the hands of soldiers (which are indeed documented in a painting from a later period).
    Biblical evidence (probably as expected of you, you are delusional) about the passing of times of peace, is found in the story of a search
    Bride for Yitzchak, by Eliezer Abdo and Avraham's confidant.

    It is also known that the same peoples created boats and rafts made of connecting such leather nadas to each other.

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