[b-hebrew] a mystery regarding gen14:24?
jimstinehart at aol.com
jimstinehart at aol.com
Thu Aug 19 20:20:02 EDT 2010
Professor Yigal Levin:
Although I agree with much of what you wrote, I totally disagree with this key assertion of yours: “‘Bera’ would certainly be a fitting name for a king of evil Sodom….”
BR( as the ruler of SDM is presented in a positive light in chapter 14 of Genesis. BR( rightfully opposes the 4 attacking rulers who nefariously take Lot and Lot’s family as hostages. BR( is then very gracious in accepting Lot’s return, stating that he welcomes the return of Lot and Lot’s family even if Abraham should decide to keep all of SDM’s loot that had been taken by the attacking rulers [and recovered by Abraham]: “And the king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.’" Genesis 14: 21 Remember, accepting Lot back as a former hostage was risky for BR(. Though Lot, Lot’s family, and SDM’s loot had been liberated (apparently with few if any casualties on either side), the 4 attacking rulers were still at liberty to return again. An obvious target would be to re-take the loot that had now been repatriated to SDM, and perhaps Lot as their former hostage as well. So BR( is both very brave, and extremely gracious, at Genesis 14: 21. [Even if the claim that Abraham could keep all the loot was largely rhetorical, it still was gracious, and accepting Lot back into SDM was definitely not mere rhetoric. As opposed to BR( himself being so gracious about Lot, we later learn that the ordinary townspeople of SDM resented Lot as an outsider: “And they said, ‘This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you [Lot] than with them.’ Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down.” Genesis 19: 9]
What you have unfortunately overlooked is that when SDM is later portrayed in a very negative light in chapters 18 and 19 of Genesis, BR( is conspicuous by his absence! Some time a-f-t-e-r chapter 14 of Genesis, the people of SDM most unfortunately went over to the dark side, and no longer followed their gracious former ruler BR(.
As I see it, there simply is no basis whatsoever for the conventional view that BR( is a west Semitic pejorative nickname that means “In Evil”. Why would righteous Abraham be portrayed as turning over his own nephew to a ruler whose very name means “In Evil”? Is that a tenable theory of the case?
If you don’t see that BR( is a good character who is portrayed by the early Hebrew author in a generally positive light, then you will not see the terrible, terrible threat that the early Hebrews historically faced that is being accurately recalled here. The early Hebrews’ greatest fear was that the good non-Semitic princeling rulers in Canaan like BR( might soon be overruled by popular fear of the Hittites, and that all of Canaan might then iniquitously sell out to the fearsome aggressors, who historically were led by a powerful king who had seized the Hittite throne by the dastardly expedient of murdering his own older brother named TD(L [and whose apt Biblical nickname, TD(L, as such effectively means “Murderer”].
From: Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Thu, Aug 19, 2010 5:37 pm
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] a mystery regarding gen14:24?
Jim, regarding the names in Gen. 14, as in other biblical narratives, there are
eally only two possibilities: either the names are historical, or they are
If they are historical (by which I don't mean that every detail in the story
ctually happened as told, but that the writer used names that he was familiar
ith from his sources), then they are "real-life" names that once belonged to
eal people. In that case, just like with names today, their meaning might be
lear, but it might not. Does everyone named "Jim" in the English speaking world
now that his name is ultimately derived from the Hebrew "Ya'akov"? Would you
ttach the meaning of "heel" to every Jim?
On the other hand, if a name is made-up, we would assume that it would fit the
haracter in the story, but even that's not always true.
SO - if "Aner" was a real person, I really don't think that we can know what his
ame originally meant to his parents (or to whoever named him). We can guess,
ut considering that he lived at least 3000 years ago, a guess is all it would
e. I could be western Semitic, it could be Hurrian, it could be Girgashite or
adminite or Kryptonite.
n the other hand, "Bera" would certainly be a fitting name for a king of evil
odom, especially when juxtaposed with Melchizedek (king-justice) of
Jeru)salem. But that would only work if you think that the names were "made up"
y the author as a literary device.
Or maybe not. I always remind my students of the town of Yamit, the largest of
he Israeli settlements in Sinai to be disbanded when Israel handed the Sinai
ver to Egypt in 1982. The town was called Yamit because it was on the seashore
fantastic beaches!). But I'm sure that sometime in the future, it will be
obvious" to historians that the whole episode of Israeli settlements in Sinai
as made-up, and that the name invented for the town, which means "will be put
o death" was a play on it's fate...
rom: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org]
n Behalf Of JimStinehart at aol.com
ent: Friday, August 20, 2010 12:51 AM
o: George.Athas at moore.edu.au; b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
ubject: Re: [b-hebrew] a mystery regarding gen14:24?
ou wrote: “Jim, the mysterious -R suffix is so mysterious because it's no
ore a suffix than the 'm' at the end of 'Jim'. In other words, it's not a
uffix at all.”
. What, then, is your theory of the name (NR at Genesis 14: 13, 24? The
onventional explanation of (NR is that it is a west Semitic name that means
(R, or “boy”. To me, that conventional explanation makes no sense on any
evel. Why would the letters N(R be mixed up to produce (NR? And why
ould one call a brave princeling who helps Abraham rescue Lot and Lot’s family
. Do you think that Abraham is portrayed at the end of chapter 14 of
enesis as handing over Lot and Lot’s family to a princeling who graciously
elcomes Lot’s return, whose name is west Semitic and means “In Evil”? If not,
hat is your explanation of the name BR(?
am suggesting that if we don’t look at the non-Semitic elements of these
ames in chapter 14 of Genesis, we will not understand the Hebrew text of
he “four kings against five”. I myself see BR( as being a non-Semitic
rinceling, who has a non-Semitic name. I see (NR as being an Amorite
rinceling, but who has close contacts with non-Semitic princelings, and whose
as a non-Semitic suffix. But if you know that I am wrong about all of that,
nd that neither (NR nor BR( has any non-Semitic element [even though I
resume you may agree with the mainstream scholarly view that truly ancient
hapter 14 of Genesis was composed at a time when there was a considerable
on-Semitic presence in Canaan (or at least the remembrance of such)], then
lease set forth your own explanations for these two names. Based on my reading
of the scholarly literature, scholars have had a very difficult time trying
o explain these two names. But if you know the answers, then please set
hem forth, and we’ll all learn from you.
f the R at the end of the name (NR is not a suffix, then what does the
ame (NR mean? From what is the name (NR derived?
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