peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Mon Nov 29 18:29:38 EST 1999

Dear Jonathan,

I looked at the phrase "Elle toldot" (and similar) a year ago while 
checking a translation of Genesis. I didn't have time or opportunity 
to go into Wiseman's hypothesis, which I did hear of. I don't read 
Assyrian either, and have no reason to doubt that Wiseman's theory is 
correct for Assyrian. But I don't think it is correct for Hebrew, as 
there are some clear examples to which it does not apply: the name 
following "Elle toldot" is that of the main character of the account 
which follows rather than that which precedes. The clearest examples 
of this are Genesis 25:12,19, where "Elle toldot Yishma`el" precedes 
the account of Ishmael's descent and "Elle toldot Yicxaq" precedes an 
account of Isaac's descent. Similarly Genesis 36:1,9 introduces two 
accounts of Esau's line, but 37:2 reverts to Jacob's line.

My preference is to take the work of Genesis, and other biblical 
books, as a whole without presupposing the results of JEDP etc and 
look for the discourse markers which divide up this carefully 
constructed literary work. Within Genesis "Elle toldot" is the major 
such discourse marker, which, I think, introduces main sections of the 
book and gives the reader a clue to the subject matter, something like 
"And this is what happened to..."

I do not accept that Genesis as it stands is the result of some random 
shuffling or even patching together of sources. No doubt there were 
sources, but they have been combined carefully into a literary whole, 
and it is with this whole that I am interested. As for Moses' 
involvement, this suggestion can be neither proved nor disproved by 
historico-critical methods. The word "toldot" is also used mostly by 
the Chronicler in the sense of "genealogy", and that could indicate 
that the term was always used by those interested in genealogies as it 
often occurs at the head of genealogies in Genesis. On the other hand, 
it could simply mean that the word was later, simplistically, 
understood to mean simply "genealogy".

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Toldot
Author:  <jonathan.bailey at> at Internet
Date:    28/11/1999 14:36

Peter, you make the comment below in your post that Toldot signifies the beginni
an accounting. Have you seen P.J. Wiseman's research (from his book "New 
Discoveries in Babylonia about Genesis") in which he describes the Toldot 
as ENDS of accounts, where Toldot signifies a sort of a colophon, which were 
commonly placed at the end of Akkadian and Sumerian documents? I have just 
ordered the Huehnergard Akkadian Grammar and plan on beginning a forray into 
Assyriology sometime in the next few months so that I can eventually make 
decisions about such matters. As it is, I don't read Akkadian and have only a fe
scattered texts in translation here at the house.

But since it seems like you have already looked into the Toldot issue, I was 
what your thoughts on the matter are, or if you could point me in the direction 
easily attainable information on the subject. Why do you think they are beginnin
accounts? Whose accounts are they? I take it by what I have seen from you so far
that you believe that the writing of the Torah in some way involves Moses. Could
have been that Moses was patching together older, Babylonian accounts? If you ar
more liberal, could it be that the JEPD crew was using older, Babylonian 
Or would it be more likely to you that Moses was just using Toldot as a sort of 
heading phrase? Or on the liberal side of the house, what interest could the JEP
priests/scholars/politicians have in the phrase?

Jonathan Bailey
MA Kandidat
Hochschule für Jüdische Studien

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