[b-hebrew] Amalekites!

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Tue Aug 10 04:16:08 EDT 2004

What bothered Chris was that Amalek is supposed to be descended from Esau,
Abraham's grandson, and so could not have been around in Abraham's day. This
obviously did not bother the writer or editor of Genesis (that is, whoever
either wrote both Gen 36 and 14 or whoever put them in the same book).
Assuming that he took himself seriously, he could not have meant that "the
field of the Amalekites" had Amalekites living in it at the time.

Another such anachronism is in Gen. 2:11-14, where the rivers that flowed
from Eden went to Havilah, Kush and Ashur, all of which are descendants of
Noah in Gen 10. Once again, even is you ascribe Gen 3 to JE and Gen 10 to P,
someone still put them in the same book. What was HE thinking?

Well, he was not an idiot. But he was also not a historian. What we call
"anachronisms" did not bother him. What was more important, was that his
readers understand his story. What he meant to say was, "the rivers flowed
to what we now call the lands of Havilah, Kush and Ashur". AND, the kings
defeated the inhabitants of what you, the Judahite reader, would call "the
field of the Amalekites".

"The field of the Amalekites" is, in itself, a place name, but one named
after a people called "Amalek". According to Gen 36, Amalek was the son of
Eliphaz and Timna. As I already wrote, I don't think that the author of
Genesis necessarily understood any of these names as "real" people.
Genealogies are a literary expression of the relationships between nations
and tribes. Was the "tribe" of Amalek originally named after a place or a
region. It is a theoretical possibility, but we will probably never be able
to know for sure.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Karl Randolph" <kwrandolph at email.com>
To: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 7:04 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Amalekites!

> Yigal:
> You should mention a fourth possibility, that this is a historical record,
that the Amalekites mentioned in Genesis 14:7 were one of the many groups
who were not mentioned in the original 70 nations, but still an early
recognized people. After all, were all the other peoples mentioned in verses
one through six among the original 70 nations?
> And yet a fifth possibility, that this was a place name, that the
Amalekite people were a later development.
> (I haven't checked these out yet, but these are possibilities.)
> Karl W. Randolph.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
> > Dear Chris,
> >
> > Let's leave the apologies aside. We're all learning here.
> >
> > Your question was "WHY say this [the field of the Amalekite] and not
> > DIRECTLY to whoever was defeated in that particular land?  Surely that
> > be the same as if I said: "and Hitler invaded the lands of the Jutes,
> > and saxons"????
> >
> > There are three possible answers:
> > 1. The author of Genesis 14 did not really know who lived there in
> > time - which brings the historicity of  the whole section into question.
> >
> > 2. The author of Genesis 14 did not really care who lived there in
> > time -  remember, the Bible is not a work of history, but one of
> >
> > 3. The author of Genesis 14 purposely used "Amalekites" to make a
point -
> > what point I do not know.
> >
> > Yigal
> --
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