[b-hebrew] Exodus Miracles and 'elep
villandra at austin.rr.com
Tue Aug 3 13:44:23 EDT 2004
Thankyou very much for informing us of the evidence that elan meant clan and
Of course it did. It makes far more sense.
villandra at austin.rr.com
----- Original Message -----
From: "Walter R. Mattfeld" <mattfeld12 at charter.net>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 6:27 AM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Exodus Miracles and 'elep
> Uri wrote :
> "It needs hardly be pointed out that the ancient authors and redactors of
> these narratives would have been mortified by the possibility of natural
> exlanations that detract in any way Yahweh's ability to perform miracles."
> I would have to agree with Uri's observation about an ancient Israelite's
> reaction. Yet I do believe that this methodology, for modern scholars, is
> "on target."
> It is quite evident that a number of physical phenomena associated with
> Exodus wanderings are attested in Nature. Seas do periodically dry up and
> then refill. For example the Nile delta is called the tongue of the
> "sea" which God will dry up. In antiquity this delta became a sea every
> upon the flooding of the Nile. An ancient Greek visitor remarked that the
> villages in the delta were built on high landforms that became islands at
> the time of the flood, reminding him of islands in the Aegean sea. Then
> Nature (God ?) would _dry up_ this sea with the abatement of the flooding.
> Another location is the head of the Gulf of Suez, where tides vary by ten
> feet, low tides exposing shoals east of the modern port of Suez.
> A wind from God blows over the sea, making a path. Powerful winds are
> attested in the Spring (when the Exodus is understood to have occured).
> are called Khamasine winds (howling dust storms) and can reach wind gusts
> 55 miles per hour ! These winds occur in the Isthmus of Suez area, the
> area associated by some with the route of the Exodus. A recent book
> exploring the miracles of the Exodus and relating them to natural
> of Egypt and the Sinai is by Professor Colin J. Humphreys. _The Miracles
> Exodus, A Scientist's Discovery of the Extraordinary Natural Causes of the
> Biblical Stories_. HarperSanFrancisco. 2003. pp.362).
> Humphreys also explores the notion of Mount Sinai possibly being a
> as noted by Peter Kirk in an earlier post. He suggests it might be Mount
> Bedr in Midian, just north of Medina in modern day Saudi Arabia. He
> attempted to argue that the Pillar of Cloud which led Israel to the sacred
> mount was an erupting Mt. Bedr.
> I was fortunate to recently be able to purchase a used copy of Baruch
> Halpern's book _The Emergence of Israel in Canaan_. Chico, California.
> Scholar's Press. 1983, and was intrigued by his critique of Professor
> Mendenhall's earlier proposal that Hebrew _'elep_ meant "clan" instead of
> the traditional reading of "thousand" in regards to tribal lists
> with the Exodus event. I found his arguments convincing that the
> reading of 'elep as "thousand" is correct and that Mendenhall was wrong in
> arguing it meant "clan."
> Halpern noted that a number of scholars have accepted Mendenhall's
> because it solved for them the fantastically large numbers involved in the
> Exodus, 600,000+ Hebrew armed warriors leaving Egypt, extrapolated with
> wives, children, and grandparents to a horde approaching 2 million souls !
> By reading "clan" much smaller numbers could be envisioned for the Exodus
> trek. By the way, Humpreys has accepted Mendenhall's reading.
> Having concluded that the traditional reading of 'elep meaning "thousand"
> correct, Halpern then argued that these huge numbers meant for him that
> tribal numbers were a creation of the Priestly redactor of the Exile, and
> not to be trusted as reflecting the real numbers involved in the Exodus.
> Regards, Walter
> Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld y de la Torre, M.A. Ed.
> mattfeld12 at charter.net
> Below is an excerpt of Halpern's argument on 'elep :
> The 'elep problem, "thousand" or "clan" ?
> Reference : Baruch Halpern. _The Emergence of Israel in Canaan_. 1983.
> Chico, California. Scholar's Press. pp. 334.
> Professor Halpern has critiqued Mendenhall's proposal that the tribal
> appearing in the various Exodus accounts are historical and of that
> He argues that they are unhistorical and most likely arise from the
> Source (rendered P in the below excerpts) in the Exilic period or later.
> Halpern finds fault with Mendenhall's notion that 'elep in the tribal list
> means "clan" rather than the traditional reading of "thousand."
> Halpern (Emphasis mine) :
> "From this brief survey, it should be plain that the P lists represent a
> late monarchic or an exilic retrospective view of early Israel"
> ...Mendenhall maintains that the P lists of Numbers 1 and 26 are
> nevertheless pre-monarchic. He bases his claim on the observation that the
> term 'elep, usually a "thousands," can also denote "the muster of a
> mishpaha, or clan." As a result, he continues, it is legitimate to read a
> text such as Numbers 26:18 -"these are the mishpehot of the children of
> according to their musters: forty 'elep and five hundreds"- as stating
> Gad consisted of 40 clans: together these fielded 500 warriors. The
> attraction of this scheme is immediately apparent: it disposes of
> claims that correlate with no reality in ancient Israelite history, claims
> so exhorbitant as in fact to defy the agricultural and industrial
> of Israel in the pre-Mandatory period. Having thus simultaneously
> why any author would make such substantial claims (the author did not) and
> disembarrassed himself of the claims themselves, Mendenhall finds that the
> drastically smaller population figures he has produced are consonant with
> early date for the lists.
> The first element of Mendenhall's argument is indisputable. 'elep does
> the meaning "clan," "clan muster" in such passages as Judges 6:15; 1
> 10:19-21. Moreover, the advantages of Mendenhall's reading generally are
> manifest. However, there are problems that beset the hypothesis. The first
> two of these have to do with the totals of the muster in Numbers 1:46;
> Numbers 1:46 states that Israel could field 603,550 warriors. Even if one
> reads the foregoing list with Mendenhall, it is impossible to regard this
> a statement that Israel's 603 clans produced 550 warriors. First, the
> numbers do not tally (Mendenhall's reading produces 5,550 warriors in the
> Numbers 1 list). Second, it would tax our imagination to suppose that the
> avarage Israelite "clan" could field only .91663 warriors. The only
> to make is that the verse is in error. So, one reads Numbers 1:46 to say
> that Israel had 603 clans, which together fielded 5,550 warriors.
> rather than 730 warriors (the figure there being 601,730).
> This is the first weakness of the hypothesis: there is no reason to supply
> any figure before the 730 of Numbers 26:51 or the 550 of Numbers 1:46, let
> alone the specific figures that must be chosen. Moreover, there is no
> to suppose that the Israelite reader to whom these texts were directed
> divine that he was expected to supply these figures -how could the
> be expected to understand that the notation 601,730 or 601 thousands and
> really meant 601 clans and 5,730 people ? But this first difficulty is
> compounded by a more serious one. Read with Mendenhall, the lists and the
> summations do not tally. Numbers 1, read with Mendenhall mentions 598
> "clans" and 5,550 warriors. Numbers 1:46 has the same number of warriors
> we supply the figure 5,000; but it thinks there were 603 "thousands" or
> "clans". Numbers 26 has 596 clans and 5,730 warriors. But Numbers 26:51
> (601,730), even read with Mendenhall to imply 5,730 warriors, has 601
> "clans." (pp. 113-115. Halpern)
> ...If one reads Numbers 1 and 26 as they have traditionally been read-
> 40,500 meaning 40,500- then the totals reported in Numbers 1:46, 26:51 are
> accurate...If the traditionalist who arrived at the sums in Numbers 1:46,
> 26:51 treated the tribal census figures not as encipherments, but as
> figures, earlier traditionalists may well have done the same. That is, not
> only is there no evidence that the Israelite expected to understand
> "thousand" = "clan" code as Mendenhall understands it; there is evidence
> Israelite did not understand it so.
> (p. 115. Halpern)
> Overall the P lists hold out little hope for the recovery of pre-monarchic
> traditions. Quite the reverse, the census lists show every sign of
> artificiality in their recollection of early eras. The transmissional
> process has created an Israel so amply bestowed in its muster that only
> technological backwardness could possibly account for its failures on the
> field -against enemies numbering in the tens and hundreds. It follows
> logically that the P reports are not likely to be fruitful for the study
> pre-monarch Israel." (p. 116. Halpern)
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