The tribe of Dan

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Tue Sep 17 13:08:42 EDT 2002

Dear Michael,

I don't think we are going to come to any agreement
over methodology, so I don't think we are going to
resolve anything in this.

>> 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) ...

(This parenthesis is a fundamental error of yours. If a
text is edited enough, you have no hope of recovering
a "primary text layer". You have to take what you can
from a text, using criteria that can be justified.)

> ... and external yardsticks.

What we can hope for is some external evidence which
reflects on the text, eg indications of terminus post
quem, or anachronisms (such as the assumed domestication
of camels in Genesis and Judges).

>Once you took a detail out of Gen. 49, you agreed this part is historical (why?)

External evidence comes to bear. There is a population
group, ie a sea people, which settled in Southern
Levant in a particular era which explains a number of
things in the text, such as why there was a "Southern
Dan" and why Dan would judge "like" a tribe of Israel.

>and the rest you left unexplained and rather contributed to obscure it, is not (why?).

I didn't have any external evidence regarding these

>Your choice of historical/ahistorical is arbitrary,

Saying this doesn't make it so.

>explained but by your presupposition this short sentence would correspond
>some situation (you are forcing into the Sea-people texts).

No, you have the subject the wrong way around. We have
a text which needs explanation. Why is Dan "like" a
tribe? External data explains why. Without the external
yardstick, you can say nothing about history from the
text. All the material you are working on may be from
some writer's fertile imagination: you have no way of
knowing without the external yardstick.

>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"?).

As I have pointed out other anomalies in the literature
which is on the subject, the what-ifs though interesting
are more in need of justification than the proposal I
have set forward.

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

You may call it so. It is only unsupportable ad hominem
to me here.

>You have to be able to give at least this text a reasonable date on
>ground of internal evidence.

This is a further error. You cannot give a date based on
solely internal evidence.

>Do you know how often there was textual reference in German history
>to a war with Poland? [..]

A text provides information which may or may not pertain to
what it claims to pertain to, or what one thinks it pertains
to based on (perhaps insufficient) knowledge.

>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.

I don't accept much of this logic. Self-consistency is
not a useful criterion, when you can imagine people
working on texts at different times with different
presuppositions, providing results which may be consistent
or may be at odds with what has been before.

>Methodologically it is strictly wrong to discuss things out of context,

This is why you must have an external yardstick.

>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?

I don't claim what you presuppose here.

>> 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.

This seems to me to be wilful. You haven't established
the necessary connection in your logic: you merely assume

>Notice also
>to the refference to the isolated position of Judah in the text. How do you
>explain it?

What is there to explain?

Perhaps you might argue as well that because Judah is not
in your "canonical" order it too was a late insertion.
(And why isn't Simeon in its "canonical" order. why isn't
it there at all?)

>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.

It depends on when the twelve tradition was established. It
could be very late.

>On the other hand is this uncanonical position of Benjamin singular
>among texts which traditionally recquire a canonic adjustment.

There are far too many assumptions here. We have been
through it all before and you have not improved on your
desire to say what is and what is not canonical when.
The order of the tribes in the distribution of lands in
Joshua is not "canonical"; those tribes in Jdg 5 are in
no way "canonical"; the tribes in Num 1 and Num 7 are
not in "canonical" order; the spies listed in Num 13:4ff
is not in "canonical" order. There are various other
examples. Your "canonical" order is not the birth order,
nor is it even that found 1 Chr 2:1-2, when such a thing
should have been established. Did all of these writers
have some ulterior purpose in not using your "canonical"
order? What about the gates in Ezek 48:30ff?

Neither Isaiah nor Jeremiah give any indication of the
"canonical" twelve tribes. Except for Ezek 48, most
tribes disappear after the end of Chronicles. What we
end up with from the prophets is this short list:

  Judah, Ephraim and Benjamin

Dan gets a mention in Jeremiah as a point of reference
which is far away and Manasseh once in Isaiah.

>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.

I.e. your "canonical" order is what you want it to be
when you want it to be.

>> 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.

Too many assumptions again. There is no necessity for any
amphictyony. It seems to be based on data which attempts
to explain why there are different groups who make up the

>> 2) What is the period of Gideon? (And how do you know?)
>Read with great attention my next paper through. It is +/- 1247 .

I will probably not believe you, based on you consistent
lack of yardstick.

When were camels, see Jdg 8:21, domesticated and when did
they start being used in Southern Levant? It suggests that
the story was written well after that date.

>> 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,

I.e. there is no tangible connection, but your desire to
read them together. You have a pun in Gen and nothing
regarding it in Deut.

>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?

If you could first show when the text was written then
there may be some way to answer your question.

>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.

I'm glad you can see the connection.

>> 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,

I have done so in this post. I had done so in the previous
round of this discussion.

>and all other texts having reasons to follow a cannonic order follow without
>exception, the cannonic order indeed, you have good grounds for suspicion.

This seems patently incorrect.

>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.

You need to make a case for your "canonical" order. You
cannot assume it as you have already assumed so much.

As you can see from this post, the length is already
starting to get out of hand and I can't see anything
resulting from continued conversation.


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