The tribe of Dan

Michael Banyai Banyai at
Mon Sep 16 16:20:00 EDT 2002

Dear Ian,

I´ll answer your well found points only succintly, because within a month or so I intend going into length in a paper still in redaction.

> I'm sorry, Michael but it's not improved the second 
> time round: it still has the same methodological 
> difficulties it had the first time. You cannot 
> extract history from tradition, despite the fact 
> that it may contain history, unless you have some 
> external yardstick, some way of sustaining you 
> substantive claims, but you've got nothing up your 
> sleave. 

You are discussing in the wrong cathegories Ian. You and I and everybody else are offering theories, to explain difficulties within the text itself, between the text (once we have agreed what is later editorial layer within the text, what primary text layer) and external yardsticks. 

We can agree about what a good and what a bad theory is, just by observing how much it contributes to resolve problems or how much it contributes to rather obscure them. 

Once you took a detail out of Gen. 49, you agreed this part is historical (why?) and the rest you left unexplained and rather contributed to obscure it, is not (why?). Your choice of historical/ahistorical is arbitrary, explained but by your presupposition this short sentence would correspond some situation (you are forcing into the Sea-people texts). But what if this very sentence is also ahistorical, what if it doesn´t pertain at all to the historical period you are attributing it to (do you have independent dating abilities different of your wish to see in it some refference to the "Sea-peoples"?).

This I call wishfull thinking and a method Grabbe called "a promiscuous mix of textual and other data".

You have to be able to give at least this text a reasonable date on ground of internal evidence. Do you know how often there was textual reference in German history to a war with Poland? Do you think, if you retrieve some reference, than it automatically corresponds to the World War II? You will find refferences to the conquest and partition of Poland in German newspapers at least a couple of times in the last 250 years, so it would be good to make sure which date your edition of the local newspapers has, before wishing too much into the text.

I depart from the certainly sain premise that there is some kind of self consistence within the  Bible. Even if it should all be ahistorical and a late creation as some of us believe, it has to be widely selfconsistent because it is the creation of people which had first to agree about what they were writing. We can thus at least agree about what these people intended to themselves agree upon, and in a next step first compare this with data from other fields.

Methodologically it is strictly wrong to discuss things out of context, or do you think, the refference to the Danites doesn´t belong into the same context with the rest of the blessing? Which would be the reasons to assume this? 

You cannot assume what the general status 
> quo of a tradition is if you cannot date it, so 
> talking about Benjamin's "canonical" position in 
> the twelve can only reflect that undated period in 
> which the twelve tradition has currency.

Well, the whole argument didn´t depend on this assumption, since Benjamin was used in a context with Shechem, which certainly isn´t in Benjamin. Notice also to the refference to the isolated position of Judah in the text. How do you explain it? Secondly, since the canonical position of Benjamin is undoubtedly fixed for later times, you are seemingly assuming some very early date for this text. This assumption is very untypilcal for you.

On the other hand is this uncanonical position of Benjamin singular among texts which traditionally recquire a canonic adjustment. A canonical order is used only under certain ritualised conditions (thus for the nine bows in Egypt) but this doesn´t force any writer to use this order for the same peoples in texts which, due to their use, have to follow other orders: geographical, historical, (alphabetical). Once one eliminates such texts, this Deuteronomic text is left entirely alone.

> Then one has to ask, expecting some evidence to back 
> the answers up:
> 1) What amphictiony? (You can't assume it.)

Of course you can and must assume it. One can not assume it in speciae aeternis, but both texts are parade examples for our understanding of amfictyony: a common central temple (here Shilo, there Shechem), a loose polity.

> 2) What is the period of Gideon? (And how do you know?)

Read with great attention my next paper through. It is +/- 1247 .

> 3) What connection is there between the word play on 
>    shoulder [$km] in Gen 48:22 and the mention of 
>    shoulder [ktp] in Deut 33:12? (Perhaps the similarity 
>    between $km and $kn ["dwell"] in Deut? Surely not 
>    that trivial!?)

It is the simple hattrick of replacing a word $km with its synonim ktp, while still speaking of the dwelling place of Jahweh, which according to other pieces of biblical literature $km for a very long time was. Thus making almost every trace of fake vanish. But explain me still: if Benjamin belonged into the text, what did isolate Judah from their brethren in the same text? Jerusalem was Ebusite, but one could have joined the other fellow Israelites by way of Benjamin. Or is here Benjamin intrusive to the text?

This would be not the first case of such behaviour with Shechem. Notice the very creative replacement of mount Gerizim with mount Ebal, the Jewish identification of the land Moriah with Jerusalem, while the Samaritans identify it (with high probability) with Shechem.

> If it were a pious insertion, then you'd expect that the 
> "canonical" position was well known and Benjamin could 
> have been placed in the correct position, but, as it 
> wasn't, the contrary is suggested, ie this is a direct 
> negation of your claim in this matter.

Since you couldn´t provide a single example besides this very Deut. text, and all other texts having reasons to follow a cannonic order follow without exception, the cannonic order indeed, you have good grounds for suspicion.

But Ian, don´t be inconsequent it all only depends on the date you accord to the cannonic order. Does it predate this Deut. text or not? If it does, than I am right, if not, than is everything still possible.

All the best,

Michael Bányai
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