JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Aug 23 10:37:46 EDT 2011
Professor Yigal Levin wrote:
1. “Jim, that is rediculous. MQWM simply means "place" in a general way….”
That’s not true.
(a) All lexicons agree that MQWM has a range of meanings (as is the case
with most Hebrew words). For example, MQWM is variously translated by the
KJV, depending on the context, as “place, home, room, whithersoever, open,
space, country”. Usually the correct translation is “place”, but we must
always consider the context.
(b) The KJV translation of MQWM as “place” at Genesis 12: 6 is not a good
translation: “And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem”
. What sense does that make? Nowhere else in the entire Hebrew Bible is
that particular Hebrew phrasing used. Rather, once we see that MQWM can mean “
city” (Genesis 18: 24 below) and “country” (Genesis 29: 26) below, we will
come to see that a better translation of Genesis 12: 6 is: “And Abram
passed through the land unto the major city-state of Shechem”.
2. “In Gen. 29:26, Laban is using it to say ‘that's not how it's done
What you are translating as “here” in fact is referring to a “country” or
“large territory” or “land that is large enough to be a country”. MQWM
at Genesis 29: 26 unequivocally has a broad territorial sweep, and is not
referring merely to one town or a small place. The use of MQWM at Genesis 29:
26 is somewhat comparable to the use of MQWM at Genesis 12: 6, in that both
are referring to a large territory. The difference, though, is that by
placing $KM immediately after MQWM, the reference at Genesis 12: 6 is to a “
3. “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 country?”
Certainly not. In fact, Genesis 33: 17 is the normal use of MQWM, in a
phrase such as calling or naming a “place” such-and-such. But the particular
phrasing at Genesis 12: 6 is unique, not like the standard phrasing at
Genesis 33: 17, where the first word is H-MQWM, not just MQWM, and the phrase is
explicitly in the context of a place being “called” or “named” something.
That’s not Genesis 12: 6.
4. “In Gen. 18: 24, Abraham (or the writer) is using different words to
mean the same thing, as speakers and writers often do.”
That is not the case for Biblical authors, unlike people who write modern
English. As the preeminent Biblical Hebrew stylist Prof. Robert Alter of
Berkeley aptly observes at p. xxvi of “Genesis”: “The biblical prose writers…
revel in repetition, sometimes of a stately, refrainlike sort, sometimes
deployed in ingenious patterns through which different meanings of the same
term are played against one another. Elegant synonymity is alien to biblical
5. “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
(a) There was no sodomy practiced in Sodom, for heaven’s sake! All the
elders of Sodom approve of requiring Lot to produce the strange visitors, and
elders certainly would not have sodomy on their minds. Lot wouldn’t marry
off his two oldest daughters to male sodomists. Think Years 12-14 and Aziru
and Etakkama and you’ll understand the real sin of Sodom. “Sodom” is a
Patriarchal nickname for Rehov [near Beth Shean] that is based on both the
Hebrew word for “blasted” and the Hebrew word for “good fields”, and which in
Hebrew has nothing whatsoever to do with sodomy.
(b) MQWM at Genesis 18: 24 does mean “city”, as Gesenius explicitly
states. So with MQWM at Genesis 18: 24 meaning “city”, and MQWM at Genesis 29:
26 meaning “country”, we see that the unique phraseology at Genesis 12: 6
of MQWM $KM can mean: “the major city-state of Shechem”. You seem not to
be noting the unique phraseology at the end of Genesis 12: 6 and in the
second half of Genesis 14: 4, both of which are telling us something special.
At Genesis 12: 6, the Biblical author is trying to convey the important
message that rather than being a mere town, Shechem was more like a country in
Year 12, with Shechem seemingly poised during that one year to dominate all of
Canaan south of the Jezreel Valley.
Please note that Abram pitches his tent only at Bethel [Genesis 12: 8, 13:
3], n-o-t at Shechem! [Cf. Genesis 12: 6.] The early Hebrew author is
trying hard to tell us something important, if we will only listen.
6. “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.”
(a) Yes, you’re right that Abram stayed in the vicinity of Shechem, not in
the city itself. That’s certainly true.
(b) But more importantly, the odd, unique phrase MQWM $KM is telling us
that in Year 12, Shechem was more like a country than a regular city. Shechem
seemed poised to try to take over most of Canaan! That’s why Abram does
not pitch his tent there, and why Lot, whose destination is north,
nevertheless must leave Bethel going east, in order to make a wide detour around the
notorious “Canaanite” strongman ruler of Shechem.
The p-i-n-p-o-i-n-t accuracy of the Patriarchal narratives in a Year 12
historical context is simply stunning. Prof. Levin, since you yourself are
well-versed on Amarna, you should be able to see that JEPD couldn’t possibly
have had a detailed knowledge of the Amarna Age like that. No, the author
of the Patriarchal narratives must have been a contemporary, the first
Hebrew, in order for him to have p-i-n-p-o-i-n-t knowledge of
e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that was going on in Canaan in Year 12. [JEPD didn’t know who the “
Girgashites” were. But think Year 12 and it becomes obvious who the
Girgashites were. Gera-ga-%i-ya.]
On the Hebrew grammar front, the key is to note the unique Hebrew
phraseology in the second half of Genesis 14: 4 and at the end of Genesis 12: 6.
That unique Hebrew phraseology brilliantly and accurately describes the unique
situation in southern Canaan in Year 12.
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