Genesis as history, was [b-hebrew] Amalekites!

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at
Fri Aug 13 19:19:08 EDT 2004


Or does Genesis claim that it is based on previous sources?

I can’t point to any written sources, but I have heard in lectures that there was an ancient literary style that went out of use about the same time as Joseph went down to Egypt. That literary style had the title and author at the end of the document, not at the beginning as is modern practice. The phrase which points to the end of the document is )LH TWLDWT “These are the bringing forth
” followed by the author and title. There is nothing to say that Jacob couldn’t have kept track of his brother and his brother’s descendents through grandsons and even some greatgrandsons, seeing as Jacob was 110 when he went to Egypt.

If what the lecturers said was true, then Moses had earlier documents before him as he wrote Genesis. Did he merely transcribe them, or did he rewrite and edit them as did the writers of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles? We cannot rule out that Genesis is a historical document in the same manner as modern histories.

Just because modern tribal societies handle geneologies a certain way, does not mean that Genesis handled them the same way?

As for Genesis 10, that was a different situation. That was shortly after the Flood when people still lived long life spans and there could have been a doubling of the population every 15–30 years for several generations, and the earth was empty of people. Under those circumstances, a man who is still spry at maybe 150, could lead his children, children’s children, etc. numbering possibly up to a thousand or more, go to an empty land and start a new country claiming a large swath of territory, naming it after himself. By the time Abraham came along, most of the land had long been claimed, the good land settled and the rest gradually being filled in, at least in the ANE.

As for Esau’s grandson Amelek, seeing as he was born long after the tribe or territory of Amelek was mentioned in other documents, pretty much rules out his being the founder of the Amelekites.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at>

> Karl,
> 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?
> Yigal
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Karl Randolph" <kwrandolph at>
> > 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.
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