[b-hebrew] Amalekites!

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Fri Aug 13 10:12:08 EDT 2004


Nowhere does the Genesis "claim" to be "accurate history", at least not in
the modern sense of the word, that is, a factual reconstruction of events
based, as much as possible, on critical evaluation of as many sources as
possible. Or, I'll put it another way - where do Gilgamesh or Kirtu NOT
claim to be "accurate history"? In what way is Genesis different? The
ancient simply did not have the same conception of "history" that we have.

Ask yourself, where would the Israelite writer have even gotten a list of
the descendants of Esau to the third and fourth generation - including
people who do not seem to have been particularly prominent in themselves? If
you assume, as Shoshanna does, that the Torah as we know it was given by God
to Moses directly, than no problems. As a scholar, I can not accept that as
a solution. So either he, or the tradition that he was following, "invented"
the list. Out of the blue? No. He used the traditions available to him (that
we now have no way to trace) and created the genealogy in order to connect
the tribes that he knew of that lived in the area, which he pictured as
being "Edomite" territory. Why do I think this. Because that's how
genealogies are used in tribal societies.

Is it possible that Esau had a grandson named "Amalek", whose name had
nothing to do with the tribe that lived in the same general area as did
Esau's descendants? Anything is possible, but not very likely. And if he
did, why would the author of Genesis bother to tell us about it?

Do you agree that Gen. 10 is a literary description of the relationships
between the nations of the world (as the author knew them)? Or did Japheth
just happen to have sons whose names were the same as several non-Semitic
nations, all on the northern periphery of the biblical world, and did his
son Yavan ("Greece") just happen to have sons named Cyprus, Crete and
Rhodes? If you see this, what makes Gen. 36 any different besides the scale?

----- Original Message -----
From: "Karl Randolph" <kwrandolph at email.com>
To: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, August 12, 2004 10:17 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Amalekites!

> Yigal:
> You *are* reading too much into the text.
> For example, how many millions have been named "Karl"? Therefore, if one
runs across a group with a name referring to their ancestor "Karl" should we
assume that they are my descendents? Similarly, Genesis names only a tiny
fraction of one percent of the people who lived before Abraham, how many of
the unnamed people were named Amelek? I get the impression that many
"Biblical" names were more common than as found in Tanakh. It could very
well be that Esau's grandson was named after someone who was, at that time,
famous but since forgotten.
> If Genesis is, as it claims, an accurate history, it would not have the
literary conventions that you apply to it. Or to put it into other words,
the Biblical authors did not make the literary assumptions and conventions
you make, nor did they expect their readers to do so.
> Karl W. Randolph.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Karl Randolph" <kwrandolph at email.com>
> > > Yigal:
> > > You assume that when Noah and his sons got off the ark, that they saw
> > same landscape with which they were familiar from before the Flood.
> >
> > Karl, I assume nothing of the sort. In fact, I don't know what to assume
> > about the Flood as a historical of geological event. All I'm trying to
do is
> > understand what the author of Genesis "assumed", and I think that he did
> > assume that the world "went back" to what it was before the flood. When
> > said "Havilah", he meant "Havilah", and not some "other" "Havilah" that
> > "Havilah" was named after.
> >
> >
> > >But if the flood were world wide, as reported in Genesis, then what is
> > prevent the old world from being completely wiped out and replaced by a
> > completely different landscape? Then, when Noah and his sons came across
> > river, they just named it with a name they knew from before, in the same
> > immigrants from England named towns and other features of America
(Canada &
> > U.S.) with English names?
> > >
> > > Nowhere in Tanakh does it claim that the tribe of Amalek was descended
> > from Esau. Who is to say that it was not named from a previous person
> > that name? Even assuming that the Bible is a true history does not
> > that it is an exhaustive history, and the people of Amalek is a loose
> > that comes into the story from who knows where, and were wiped out.
> > >
> > > Karl W. Randolph.
> > >
> >
> >
> > Karl, many of the names given in the biblical genealogies are also known
> > names of places, people and tribes/nations. In some cases, such as Edom,
> > Moab, Ammon and Israel, the author makes a point of telling us that the
> > character was the ancestor of the nation. But he only bothers to do this
> > when it is relevant to the story.
> > In a tribal society such as ancient Israel and Judah (and in many tribal
> > societies that have been studied by anthropologists to this day), it is
> > assumed that all members of the tribe (except, of course, "gerim") are
> > descended from an eponymous ancestor. Often, the ancestor's name is the
> > as that of the region that the tribe lives in, and is also used as a
> > geographical name (e.g. "Mount Ephraim"). The same is true for smaller
> > units, such as clans living in a village (that is, the inhabitants of
> > were assumed to be descended from a man named Tekoa), and for larger
> > such as nations (the Arameans were descended from a man called Aram).
> > genealogies are (in part - they have other purposes as well) a literary
> > convention for describing the "relationships" between these various
> > And so, the inhabitants of Tekoa would describe their "ancestor" Tekoa
> > being a "grandson" of Ephrathah, which they identified with Bethlehem, a
> > "wife" of Caleb (1 Chr. 2:24, 50-51). The Calebites were the main
> > phratry in the Bethlehem area, and the relationship of Tekoa to
> > reflects the relationship between the tiny village and the midsize town
> > the time reflected in the genealogy.
> > Now I know that "historically", Tekoa may not have been named after a
> > named Tekoa, and Caleb may never have had a "wife" named Ephrathah. And
> > may not have had a "real" grandson named Amalek. I also think that the
> > authors of Chronicles and Genesis might have known this. Or not. But I
> > think that when the author of Genesis bothers to "place" Amalek in the
> > genealogy of Esau, it is precisely because he wished to show how that
> > nation is related to Israel. So yes, Esau's "grandson" Amalek IS the
> > eponymous ancestor of the nation of Amalek, at least in the world of the
> > biblical authors.
> >
> >
> >
> > Yigal
> --
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