[b-hebrew] Autumnal Poisonous Quail and New Year ?
peter.r.kirk at ntlworld.com
Mon Jun 2 10:55:27 EDT 2003
Walter, are you now trying to argue that the dates in Exodus 16:1 and
Numbers 10:11 (cf. Exodus 12:1) relate to an autumn new year, so putting the
following visits of quail in the autumn? The problem with this is that it
would put the Exodus and the Passover in the autumn as well. But Clines
assumes that these occurred in the spring, e.g. in section 1 point 8 and
section 3 point 2. So Clines is no support for your attempt to make the text
say what you want it to say, that the quail arrived in the autumn.
Quail are known to fly north across Sinai in spring having crossed the Red
Sea. This is not as wide as the Mediterranean, but still a long journey for
a small bird, so doubtless they would have alighted somewhere to rest. And
the text as we have it describes an itinerary in southern Sinai. How much is
actually known about this northward migration, and whether and where the
birds ever alight in large numbers in the south? You state that "Exhausted
quail falling from sky occurs ONLY near El Arish and the Northern Sinai's
shoreline according to Professor Kraeling", but the extract you quote from
Kraeling does not say "ONLY". How much did Kraeling know about the northward
migration? How much is known now? Last year I visited the desert east of
Mount Sinai in a 4WD vehicle, but until quite recently this area was
accessible only to the Bedouin. So it is very unlikely that in the 1960s
Kraeling could have made with any confidence the kind of statement you
attribute to him. And more recent research may be unreliable because of the
serious decline in quail numbers.
Another problem is that according to Grivetti coturnism, poisoning by quail,
is not reported in Egypt or Sinai, but on the south side of the west
Mediterranean in spring and on the north side of the east Mediterranean in
autumn. So it would appear that the quail are poisonous before they cross
that sea, not afterwards.
Grivetti concludes that the cause of classic coturnism may be caused by the
birds eating Stachys annua. But he also notes: "Tullis (1977) speculated
that, given the observation quail consume seeds from cyanogenic plants
without apparent ill effects, humans effected by quail were poisoned by
cyanide." Cyanide poisoning would be a more likely cause of the nearly
instant deaths recorded in Numbers. Perhaps this particular flock of quail
had (whether as usual for the area and season or exceptionally) been feeding
on such plants which may be common in this locality, perhaps they landed
around the Israelites because they were partly poisoned, and so they would
have caused many deaths. That is, if we need a scientific explanation.
Also, Walter, you should correct your mention of "South Russia" to
"Georgia", as according to Grivetti that is "where most [ex-]Soviet cases of
coturnism have been reported". It is offensive to the people of Georgia to
have their independent country assumed to be part of Russia.
peter.r.kirk at ntlworld.com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-hebrew-
> bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Walter R. Mattfeld
> Sent: 02 June 2003 13:47
> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: [b-hebrew] Autumnal Poisonous Quail and New Year ?
> For those interested, I have "updated" my article on Kib`roth-hatta`avah's
> poisonous quail with **a url** to an insight made by Professor David J. A.
> Cline, namely, his observation that Pre-Exilic Israel may have observed,
> "originally" an AUTUMN New Year, rather than a Spring New Year. Cline
> investigates various verses in the Primary History (Genesis-Kings), the
> Prophets, and Nehemiah, noting statements suggesting an Autumnal New Year
> was in place. If he is correct, this anomaly would align with Poisonous
> quail alighting in the Sinai, in the Autumn. cf. the newly revised
> Regards, Walter
> Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld, M.A. Ed.
> mattfeld12 at charter.net
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
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