[b-hebrew] The Amorites
jimstinehart at aol.com
jimstinehart at aol.com
Sun May 9 08:24:28 EDT 2010
Dear Prof. Yigal Levin:
I agree with everything you said in your post, which is extremely helpful. I think you may agree that many scholars think that chapter 14 of Genesis, unlike almost all of the rest of the Bible, may date all the long way back to the Late Bronze Age. I can cite many scholars to that effect, but on the b-hebrew list I thought it was more appropriate to cite the vocabulary and stylistic issues that indicate a composition date somewhere around the mid-14th century BCE (when several Hittite treaties are similar to the end of chapter 14 of Genesis).
So the question then becomes this. Various books of the Bible understand Amorites, Hurrians, and Hittites in various ways. But does an historical mid-14th century BCE understanding of those three terms fit chapter 14 of Genesis, which because of its language seems to fit the mid-14th century BCE time period so well?
In that time period, the early Hebrew author would have known the historical Hurrians, and would have known that historically they were prominent in the Transjordan, per the three Hurrian-type names in Amarna Letter EA 197. Words which are redolent of the Transjordan duly appear in Genesis 14: 6 regarding the Horites/Hurrians: “well-wooded”/Seir; “hill country”/HRRM; “a magnificent, mighty oak tree”/the first half of El Paran. Yes, other explanations are possible for each of those words, but if one is looking for possible references to the Transjordan in Genesis 14: 6, they can’t be missed.
Likewise, we know there was an important enclave of Amorites at and near Hasi, per Amarna Letters EA 175, EA 176 and EA 363. If En Mishpat means Eye on Seat of Justice/Mt. Hermon, which seems logical and has historical support, then QD$ is QD$ of Upper Galilee, the troops of the 4 attacking rulers are moving north, and thus the place where they meet the Amorites in the second half of Genesis 14: 7 is historically perfect: the Beqa Valley. XCCN TMR can be viewed as being the Hurrian long-form name that got shortened to Hasi.
Finally, as to the Hittites, everyone agrees that Tidal is a bona fide Hittite kingly name from the mid-2nd millennium BCE. No Hittite king named Tidal ever did anything reported at Genesis 14: 1-11, so that name must be a nickname. Suppiluliuma did everything reported for Tidal in Genesis 14: 1-11, and Tidal is an appropriate nickname, since Suppiluliuma seized the Hittite throne by the dastardly expedient of murdering his own older brother named Tidal.
Thus if we confine our analysis to chapter 14 of Genesis, we see that all the nomenclature makes perfect sense in a mid-14th century BCE historical context.
I think it’s unfair to attack the historicity of chapter 14 of Genesis by citing sections of the Bible that were composed many, many centuries after the Amorites, the Hurrians and the Hittites had all gone extinct. Deuteronomy 1: 19 places Amorites south of the Dead Sea, and Genesis 36: 8-43 places Hurrians/Horites south of the Dead Sea, but that’s because those sections of the Bible were not composed until the 1st millennium BCE, long after the historical Amorites and Hurrians had faded from memory.
Likewise, if chapter 14 of Genesis pre-dates the 1st millennium BCE, then a Hurrian analysis of XCCN TMR makes more sense than your reliance on the post-exilic work of II Chronicles 20: 2, doesn’t it? Ezra is too late to know the historical identifications of places and peoples referenced in chapter 14 of Genesis, and in addition, Ezra wanted to re-characterize the Patriarchs as operating in the future state of Judah, though in my opinion the Patriarchs never sojourned in the land that would become the future state of Judah. But I digress.
Is there some nomenclature you would point to in chapter 14 of Genesis that shows that chapter 14 of Genesis was composed in the 1st millennium BCE, and could not have been composed in the mid-14th century BCE? When XCCN TMR makes sense on either a Hurrian analysis or per Ezra, but the locales in question are totally different, shouldn’t we look to the Hurrian analysis, from a Late Bronze Age time period, unless there’s something else that indicates that chapter 14 of Genesis is late?
My #1 point here is that since many university scholars assert that chapter 14 of Genesis may have been composed in the Late Bronze Age (unlike the rest of the Bible), then it does not make sense to insist that the author of chapter 14 of Genesis did not know who the Hurrians or the Amorites were, or where they lived. Even if no other Biblical author knew, he knew. So the Hurrians are portrayed in Genesis 14: 6 as being in the Transjordan, not south of the Dead Sea where they never lived, and the Amorites are portrayed in Genesis 14: 7 as being in Lebanon, near Hasi, not south of the Dead Sea where they never lived.
The argument seems so strong to me, but you never seem to give it any credence at all. Why? What am I missing? If chapter 14 of Genesis is truly ancient, as many scholars agree, then the author would naturally have placed the Hurrians and the Amorites where they historically lived -- in Lebanon and in the Transjordan, respectively.
Do you think that’s a strong argument I’m making? Why is it so unconvincing to you? If we could show that Genesis 14: 1-11 has pinpoint historical accuracy as an accurate account by a contemporary of the first year of the Great Syrian War, we could revolutionize the study of the Patriarchal narratives, and at long last place the entire Hebrew Bible on a rock-solid historical basis. In a word, everything’s riding on this question concerning Hurrians and Amorites at Genesis 14: 6-7. If the Hurrians and Amorites are portrayed at Genesis 14: 6-7 as living south of the Dead Sea, then my entire theory of the Bible is destroyed. I would honestly like to know why you seem to consider my arguments here unconvincing.
From: Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Sat, May 8, 2010 2:58 pm
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] The Amorites
In the Bible, the Amorites ("Emori")are on of the several "nations" of
anaan, although they do seem to the most prominent and the term is
ometimes even used for all Canaanites. Num. 13:29 seems to indicate that
hey lived in the hills, but other passages show them living elsewhere as
ell. Bottom line is that we have no way to know what the difference between
n "Amorite" and a "Girgashite" is.
The MAR.TU of Sumerian literature are called Amurru in Akkadian. "Amurru" is
very general term meaning "west" and can refer to the lands of the west
that is, anything west of the Euphrates), the people of the west, and
westerners" living in Mesopotamia (for example, the dynasty of Hammurabi
hat ruled Babylon in the 19-18th centuries were "Amurru" because they
riginally came from the west-lands). During the 14-13the centuries there
as also a small kingdom called "Amurru" in what would now be called
orthern Lebanon, known from the Amarna letters and other texts.
ince we now know that most of the people living in the "westlands" during
he Middle and Late Bronze Ages (about 2000-1200 BCE) spoke Western Semitic
anguages, we today conveniently lump them all together as "Amurru". There
ere obviously differences between the different groups and their dialects,
ut since they mostly wrote Akkadian anyway (and often Akkadian full of
Amurruisms"), we tend to think that they were all the same. The passage
hat you quoted below is one view from a particular time and perspective.
here were quite a few large fortified cities in "Amurru-land", including
ari, Alalah, Damascus, Hamath, Hazor, and so on. It's like assuming that
ll American Indians lived in tepees and rode horses. Most actually didn't.
Now, nobody knew any of this until the decipherment of Cuneiform about 150
ears ago. All anyone knew was what the Bible says. Then, when the term
murru began appearing in Cuneiform, it was immediately assumed to be the
ame as biblical Amorites, and people have been confusing them all this
ime. But the fact is, that the two are not identical. While I don't deny
hat there might be a connection, it's better to use Amorite for the Bible
nd "Amurru" for other connects.
The same, BTW, is true for Hatti-Hitite and Hurrian "Horite".
rom: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of James Christian
ent: Friday, May 07, 2010 10:06 AM
ubject: [b-hebrew] The Amorites
the Amorites are identified with the Martu of Akkadian literature. Here is
n example of the way they were viewed by their Sumerian neighbours:
*The MAR.TU who know no grain.... The MAR.TU who know no house nor town, the
oors of the mountains.... The MAR.TU who digs up truffles... who does not
end his knees (to cultivate the land), who eats raw meat, who has no house
uring his lifetime, who is not buried after death.*
he Amorites were primarily a nomadic people. They did not respect
erritorial boundaries and wandered wherever they pleased so their cattle
ould eat whatever the land offered. Civilised neighbours who worked and
ultivated the land obviously did not take a liking to Amorite tribes
andering in and eating the fruits of their labours.
The assumption that the wandering Amorites never reached as far as Oases to
he South of Dead Sea is not only baseless but almost certainly incorrect.
-hebrew mailing list
-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
-hebrew mailing list
-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
More information about the b-hebrew