[b-hebrew] Benjamin

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Tue Jun 27 03:40:26 EDT 2006

I agree, although there are also limits on using the "it must be 
someone/somewhere else by the same name" excuse. You mentioned Dan. In Gen. 
14:14, Abraham persues Lot's captors "as far as Dan". However the city of 
Dan, as we know from Joshua, Judges and in fact from extrabiblical 
references as well, was called Laish or Leshem until it was conquered by the 
tribe of Dan and renamed after their progenitor. Since the original Dan, 
ansector of the tribe, was Abraham's great-grandson, the reference (as well 
as that in Deut. 34:1) must be anachronistic. To claim that "it must be 
somewhere else called Dan" does not work in this case, since the 
geographical contexts make it very clear which Dan is meant, and of course 
that Dan was a well-know city, often used as a geographical reference ("from 
Dan to Beer-sheba" etc.), and we DO know the biblical toponymy of Israel 
well enough, as to make it unlikely (albeit not impossible!) that there was 
another such city which we have never heard about.
Of course, to those who believe that the Torah was written by Moses, who was 
a prophet, this is no problem. God, who wanted the text to be relevant to 
people living in future generations, had Moses use a term that they would 
understand. Most of Moses' contemporaries didn't know the Land that well 
anyway. To those who do not use "prophecy" as part of their scholarly 
discourse, the ONLY probable solution is that these passages (at the very 
least!) were written many generations after Moses and refect the geography 
of the writer's day (or his concept of HIS past).

There are other examples as well.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Karl Randolph" <kwrandolph at email.com>
To: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, June 27, 2006 4:19 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Benjamin

> Yigal:
> Not anyone (last paragraph below) but there are
> some who so do.
> I was in a debate with someone online a couple
> of years ago, who made the claim that he had
> proof that the Bible was self-contradictory,
> because there was a report of Abraham visiting
> a place with a certain name, and he had done so
> before someone else was born who had the same
> name as the place where Abraham visited. He
> refused to admit to the possibility that there may
> have been at least two people with the same name
> with the place named after the first individual. But
> as my memory is fading of the incident, I don't
> remember the name in Tanakh that was mentioned
> (I think it was Midion), nor the name of the person
> I debated. For me, the impression I got from the
> discussion was that the person I debated thought
> that there was only one person with that name,
> therefore that Abraham visited a site with the same
> name that a later individual carried was evidence
> that the Biblical message was garbled.
> I have run into similar situations elsewhere.
> Similarly, there was a tribe and country in what is now
> southern Turkey that had the name of Dan, not to be
> confused with the Israelite tribe of Dan, and the Mari
> Benjaminites are a different people than Israelite
> Benjaminites. The names were reused. Maybe often.
> A similar argument is found that because a location
> had a name mentioned in Genesis, therefore there was
> a town there. Abraham visited Beersheba, there is no
> archeological evidence that there was a town there in
> Abraham's time, therefore Genesis report is garbled
> (despite Genesis' report that indicated that there was
> only a well and pastureland at Beersheba in Abraham's
> time, no town until later).
> Karl W. Randolph.
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
>> Karl,
>> If by "the claim you mentioned in the paragraph at the bottom of this 
>> note"
>> you mean "the insistance of some scholars that anything in the ANE must 
>> be
>> somehow related to the Bible, and that the "Patriarchal traditions" in 
>> the
>> Bible MUST reflect a "pre-Israelite" reality", than I agree, this claim 
>> is
>> also absurd.
>> Where I don't think that I agree with you is when your state that "they
>> assume that any name that is also reported in Tanakh therefore refers to 
>> a
>> Biblical individual is a de facto denial that names may have been reused 
>> by
>> ancient, Semitic peoples".
>> Do you mean that anyone who thinks that "Abraham" was a real person
>> automatically denies that there may have been other, unrelated, people 
>> who
>> were also named "Abraham"? Why?
>> Yigal Levin
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