[b-hebrew] Was Abraham Born in Mesopotamia?
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Nov 5 13:34:40 EST 2007
You wrote: “Did anyone raise the issue that Ur Kasdim didnt exist during the
time Avram was supposed to have lived? and that since Ur was a major
sophisticated city during Babylonian exile it is plausible that the editors of the
tanakh in the 6 century BCE inserted an Ur background to abraham to lend an
air of sophistication to Avraham and his
No one here has raised those issues. In my controversial view, those issues
are without merit.
1. In my controversial view of the case, the secular historical time
period of the Patriarchal Age is the mid-14th century BCE. Everything that’s
in the Patriarchal narratives fits that narrow, specific, peculiar time
period (except a tiny handful of phrases that were inserted later by an editor).
1. Ur was a major Babylonian provincial city in the mid-14th century
BCE. It was still wealthy, though it no longer wielded any political power.
Because the Babylonians always made a point of bragging that Babylonia
included Ur (the pre-Babylonian capital of Mesopotamia), ancient Ur’s former
glories remained fairly well known throughout the 2nd millennium BCE.
1. As to “Kasdim”, consider who the rulers of Babylonia were in the
mid-14th century BCE: the “Kassites”, the KS people. And as to the individual
ruler of Babylonia in the mid-14th century BCE, we know from the Amarna
Letters that the first four consonants of his name were KDSM. If one simply
inverts the order of the two middle consonants we get KSDM, or “Kasdim”. Thus
in my controversial view, “Kasdim” in the Patriarchal narratives is a play
on “Kassites” and “KDSM”. The fact that two consonants are inverted as to
the individual ruler’s name does not reflect a “mistake”, in my judgment,
but rather reflects the negative attitude of Egypt toward Babylonia in the time
period of the Amarna Letters, which the Hebrew author of the Patriarchal
narratives, who lived during this same time period in my controversial view, is
picking up on.
1. During the Babylonian exile, Ur became permanently extinct. Ur had
been nothing but a virtual ghost town since about the 10th century BCE.
People still remembered Ur, though, and experts argue whether a few religious
buildings still remained in place in the 1st millennium BCE. But for the most
part, Ur virtually did not exist in the 1st millennium BCE, except as a
nearly abandoned relic.
1. Nothing good about Ur is stated in the Patriarchal narratives.
Abraham’s brother Haran is stated to die there, and YHWH reminds Abraham that
YHWH had done a good thing in not letting Abraham suffer his brother’s
unfortunate fate of dying in far-off Ur. Thus I see no attempt whatsoever “to lend
an air of sophistication to Avraham and his descendents” by mentioning Ur.
For example, Abraham and YHWH are portrayed as speaking Hebrew, not as speaking
1. The most unusual aspect of ancient Ur had been its peculiar 6-month “
year” concept. In 5,000 years of human history, the only place that
celebrated a multi-day New Year/Akitu festival both in the spring, and 6 months
later in the fall, was ancient Ur. Thus by making Ur the very first
geographical reference in the Patriarchal narratives (which begin at Genesis 11: 26,
with Ur being mentioned at Genesis 11: 28), the author alerts us that the ages
of the people in his story may be set forth in terms of 6-month “years”.
Thus Terakh was not 70 years in 12-month years when he sired Abraham. No way.
Terakh was age 70 “years”, in terms of 6-month “years”, when he sired
Abraham, which is age 35 regular years. Likewise, Terakh cannot die at age 205
regular years. Those two facts stated in chapter 11 of Genesis clue us in to
the fact that all ages of all characters are set forth in the text in terms of
6-month “years”. Terakh died at age 205 “years” in terms of 6-month “years
”, meaning that Terakh died at age 102½ regular years.
1. Every single story, without exception, in the Patriarchal narratives
relates to the particular secular historical time period of the mid-14th
century BCE, in my controversial view of the case. That was virtually the only
time in history when a pre-Hebrew family could have a semi-realistic chance
of making a one-time caravan expedition to Mesopotamia, and selling the luxury
goods obtained there to Egypt for a huge price. That is exactly what is
portrayed in the opening chapters of the Patriarchal narratives, in my view.
Such a caravan trip would be a fantasy in most any other secular historical
time period, but it was realistic in the time period of the beginning of the
mid-14th century BCE.
The reason why Abraham’s “am”/people/ancestors are never stated to be in
Mesopotamia in the text is because Abraham’s ancestors had lived in Canaan, not
in Mesopotamia. The text always refers to “mowledet”/MWLDT as to relatives
in Mesopotamia: descendants of Abraham’s father, who were in Mesopotamia on
a one-time basis only, for one caravan expedition. Abraham’s father Terakh,
and Abraham’s brother Nahor, get stuck in Harran when they cannot make it
back to Canaan due to Terakh’s infirmity.
Abraham was not a native Akkadian speaker from Ur, or a native Hurrian
speaker from Harran, who came to Canaan for the first time as an old man and spoke
broken Hebrew. No way. Rather, Abraham spoke perfect Hebrew from day #1,
having learned pre-Hebrew on his mother’s lap -- in Canaan.
The one thing odd about the caravan expedition is that Abraham does not sell
the luxury goods from Mesopotamia to Lebanese middlemen for a moderate
price. Instead, pursuant to divine advice, Abraham goes straight to Egypt and
sells the luxury goods for a sky-high price in Egypt. Though that was
something of a long shot in the mid-14th century BCE, it was nevertheless possible,
for a monotheistic tent-dweller. That was the only time in the long history
of ancient Egypt when Egypt was moving in the direction of monotheism. Also,
the pharaoh’s heir was having a terrible time trying to sire a son by his
main wife #1. So Pharaoh could have been sympathetic to Abraham, both because
both were semi-monotheistic, and because both were experiencing a terrible
problem regarding siring a son. The one and only time period in which this
story is realistic is the mid-14th century BCE.
************************************** See what's new at http://www.aol.com
More information about the b-hebrew