[b-hebrew] Torah (was: Amalekites)!

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sun Aug 15 03:47:35 EDT 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: "Shoshanna Walker" <rosewalk at concentric.net>
> In my experience, it is only people who do not believe in the Divine
> Origin of the Torah that believe it is historically not accurate.
> Shoshanna
> _______________________________________________

I disagree, Shoshanna.

At least, depending on your definition of "historically accurate". Our
modern conception, that everything must be either right or wrong, is just
that - a modern conception, that has its roots in Greek logic. It was
unknown in the Ancient Near East. Hazal (the sages of the Talmud) said it
correctly - the Torah has seventy aspects, and all are the word of the
living God. They also said that the Torah spoke in human language - that is,
in terms that would be understood by the people of the time. Its all a mater
of context. The purpose of the Torah is NOT to teach us history - it's to
teach us about our relationship with God. In many cases, this was done by
illustration, by use of literary genres such as Mashal, Midrash etc. These
genres were understood by the intended readers as just what they were -
literary means of getting the message across. It's us moderns who have
insisted on reading "history", in the modern sense of the word, into them.
Now that is not to say that the whole Tanakh is a fable. I assume that there
was a tribe called Amalek. What the Torah is trying to do in Gen. 36 is to
show how that Amalek is tied into the family of Israel (read what Obodiah
has to say about Esau, Jacob's brother, in general). Since the people of the
time were perfectly aware, that genealogies were used as a literary means
for reflecting on the "relationships" between tribes and their componants,
they understood that Gen. 36 was doeing the same.
Now how does any of that negate the Torah's divine origin?


(BTW, I'm taking off for a few days, so I probably won't respond until
Wednesday or so.)

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