[b-hebrew] Outline History (was Job and Sumer)

Michael Banyai Banyai at t-online.de
Sun Jun 13 03:29:00 EDT 2004

Thanks Uri,

>  Yes, this view is quite common nowadays. For a totally different approach that supports in broad outline the Patriarchial narratives based on a great deal of external evidence, please consult K. Kitchen's recent work  On ther Reliability of the Old testament. It is worth consulting for other periods too because of the large collection of extra-biblical sources.
>   The earlier parts of Israel's historical narratives, till the Divided Kingdom say, can be accepted cautiously as valid outline history.

I would like to avoid the impression, that my position denies the historicity of the patriarchs. Quite on the contrary. However I find, because the interest for the patriarchs aroused relatively late in Hebrew historiography, these stories are redacted late. I mean during the earlier part of the divided monarchy.

The Patriarch stories are answering 3 main questions answered between the lines in a more literary fashion:

a. Which are the boundaries of Israel? This question became interesting only during the divided monarchy as the the Mosaic attribution of the land couldn´t function anymore as an argument with the neighbouring countries and Israel could´nt discuss this from a position of force as in the period of David and Solomon. It became interesting to point at earlier boundary-treaties with the neighbours and these had existed apparently only during patriarch times. The period of the Judges has not known an Israelite statehood so also the notion of border-regulation was completely different.

b. When where the main temples in Israel founded? The foundation myths deal mainly with the temples of Schechem, Shilo (?), Beth-El. Jerusalem being later on introduced into the text in the place of an earlier mention of Shechem (as place of the sacrifice of Abraham - land of Morijah - Moreh, Hamor et al. being in fact attached as labels to Schechem). The hey-days of these temples and thus the greatest interest for stories relating to them was the early divided monarchy.

c. Who are we and where do we come from? Each person in the patriarch stories is identified by its ethnical origin. A single exception, so far I know, is made for Tamar. Which I think, is no exception in fact, because Tamar could mean to-meri i.e. Egypt.

So are the Patriarch stories an archivarian´s work, with some local colorit added from what he may have observed about the way nomad societies work and exist. What he assumed the society of the patriarchs to have been.

Best regards,

Bányai Michael

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