Yigal.Levin at biu.ac.il
Tue Aug 23 08:01:35 EDT 2011
Jim, that is rediculous. MQWM simply means "place" in a general way (although it has been interpreted as sometimes having cultic connotations as well, but that's another issue). In Gen. 29:26, Laban is using it to say "that's not how it's done around here". In Gen. 33:17 Jacob builds "booths" or "huts" (Sukkot) for his flocks, and calls "the place" Sukkot. Does make it a major city or a coutry? In Gen. 18: 24, Abraham (or the writer) is using different words to mean the same thing, as speakers and writers often do. Since he already called Sodom "the city", now he says "than place". Later he says "there" (Sham). Does "Sham" mean "evil city in which sodomy is practiced"?
In Gen. 12: 6 "the place of Shechem" is without the article because it's in the construct form.
Now, what does "the place of Shechem" mean? Why not just "Shechem"? I don't really know. Maybe to indicate that Abraham stayed "in the vicinity" of Shechem, and not in the city itself.
From: jimstinehart at aol.com [mailto:jimstinehart at aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 2:37 PM
To: Yigal.Levin at biu.ac.il; b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Year 13 Hebrew Grammar
Prof. Yigal Levin wrote: “Jim, could you please explain why the word MQWM means ‘major city-state’? That Shechem was a major city-state throughout most of the Bronze Age we know, but where else in the Bible does the word MQWM refer to a place's size or status?”
At Genesis 18: 24, MQWM is used as a synonym for “city”/(YR [the city of Sodom].
At Genesis 29: 26, MQWM means “country” [the area in eastern Syria where Laban lived].
Thus where MQWM appears directly before a city name, with no modifiers before or after MQWM, as it uniquely does at Genesis 12: 6, it can have the meaning of “city” that is a “country”, that is: “major city-state”.
The Biblical author was struggling to find a Hebrew word to describe the unique phenomenon of Shechem in Year 12. For that one year, Shechem was more of a state than a city, controlling much of Canaan south of the Jezreel Valley.
The unique nomenclature of Genesis 12: 6 perfectly fits the unique situation that applied to Shechem in one year, and only one year: Year 12, when it appeared that Shechem, with its notorious “Canaanite” strongman ruler, was poised to take over most all of the southern half of Canaan. T-h-a-t is why Lot could not go directly north at Genesis 13: 11 [though Lot had looked north at Genesis 13: 10], but rather Lot had to make a major detour and leave Bethel going east. If we can get the historical time period right, these Biblical stories practically tell themselves, instead of being inexplicable.
The key is to focus on the Hebrew grammar of the second half of Genesis 14: 4, where the reference there to “And Year 13 they rebelled” points us to the exact year in which the events in chapter 13 of Genesis are portrayed as happening: Year 12.
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