jimstinehart at aol.com
jimstinehart at aol.com
Tue Aug 23 21:13:15 EDT 2011
I agree that on hundreds of occasions in the Bible, MQWM has the innocuous meaning of “place”. Indeed, the most common use of MQWM in the Bible is in a phrase saying that a “place”/MQWM was called such-and-such or was named such-and-such.
Yet despite the fact that MQWM appears 402 times in the Bible, only o-n-c-e in the entire Bible do we see the particular pattern that appears at Genesis 12: 6: MQWM without any letter preceding it, followed immediately (with no intervening word) by a city name. That is unique to Genesis 12: 6. Why?
Moreover, the standard translation of Genesis 12: 6 does not make good sense: “And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem,,,,” What does the phrase “the place of Shechem” mean?
My proposed explanation for the unique Hebrew phrasing at Genesis 12: 6 is that the author is viewing Shechem as being both a city and a territory or country, and as such as being a “major city-state”. MQWM can mean place or city or country, but here, where it uniquely is followed by a city-name without having been preceded by any letter, the meaning is “place-city-territory-country of Shechem”, that is, “the major city-state of Shechem”. Note that Genesis 12: 6 does n-o-t say that the place was called Shechem, or that Abram named the place Shechem, which are the classic uses of MQWM in the Bible.
There is no phrase directly comparable to MQWM $KM in all the rest of the Bible. In my view, that special phrasing is trying to tell us something special about Shechem: before and after Year 12 it was a city, like many other cities in Canaan, but uniquely in Year 12, Shechem was more like a country, seemingly poised to control most all of Canaan south of the Jezreel Valley. The early Hebrew author came up with the unique phrase MQWM $KM in order to portray the unique situation of Shechem as a powerful, threatening city-state in Year 12.
I hope that people on the b-hebrew list may be excited about the fact that the particular phraseology of the second half of Genesis 14: 4 and the end of Genesis 12: 6 is unique. To me, the reference to “Year 13” at Genesis 14: 4 is telling us that Abram passed through Shechem in Year 12, and Genesis 12: 6 is telling us that in Year 12, Shechem was a powerful city-state ruled by a notorious “Canaanite”. It’s all right there in the received Hebrew text, if we simply pay close attention to the unique Hebrew phrasing.
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