[b-hebrew] Tithing and the Wellhausen JEPD Theory of thePatriarchal Narratives

Stoney Breyer stoneyb at touchwoodcreative.com
Fri Dec 21 15:52:10 EST 2007

OK, I'll play ... 

JS:1.  No Hebrew religious figure in the 1st millennium BCE would tell
YHWH that the Hebrews will worship YHWH only if YHWH allows the Hebrews
to prosper.  Yet that is what Jacob says at Genesis 28: 20-22, in the
passage that started this thread.
SB: Well, you've turned "if" into "only if"; and the "if" there is, I
believe, the translator's interpretation rather than unambiguously
implicit - I'll leave it to the genuine Hebraists to hash that one out.
JS2.  No Hebrew bearing the Levi priestly name would induce Gentiles to
adopt the sacred rite of circumcision in order to weaken them so that
those Gentiles could then be killed in a surprise attack, but that's
what Levi does in chapter 34 of Genesis.
SB: You seem to presume that this passage was written by a Levite. I
JS3.  No one in the 1st millennium BCE would craft a storyline in which
for five generations, each and every firstborn son gets the shaft, and
properly so. But that's what happens in the Patriarchal narratives.
(Haran, Ishmael, Esau, Reuben and Zerah all are firstborn sons who get
the shaft, and properly so. Zerah does not even get to come out of the
womb before his "younger" twin brother comes out.)
SB: Well, David's heirs-apparent certainly get the shaft in favor of a
possibly illegitimate third-stringer. "Properly so" depends on your
JS4.  No Hebrew in the 1st millennium BCE would be expected to wax
lyrical in praise of Egypt.  But the Patriarchal narratives are
fanatically pro-Egypt.
SB: Really? - It seems to me that the author of the Abraham narrative
rather crows about the badger game his hero pulls on Pharaoh. And I
myself believe that Joseph is portrayed as an unpleasant self-satisfied
overreacher who leads the sons of Israel into bondage. But of course I
could be wrong.

JS5.  No Hebrew in the 1st millennium BCE would posit 3 of the 4
Matriarchs as coming from a place (on the upper Euphrates River) which,
for most of the first half of the 1st millennium BCE, was synonymous
with hated Assyria, because hated Assyria destroyed both Israel and
Judah in the 1st millennium BCE.  But that's where Rebekah, Leah and
Rachel are from.
SB: Like I said, the 1st millennium's a long time. When did Assyria
start to become 'hated'?

JS6.  No one in the 1st millennium BCE remembered detailed information
about the Hurrians and Hittites in their prime, but it's right there in
the received text of the Patriarchal narratives.
SB: I'll defer to the archaeologists on this one. I think they'll give
you some argument.
JS7.  Shall I go on?   *** it should be very easy for Yitzhak Sapir to
come up with at least one story in the Patriarchal narratives that is
redolent of some particular time period in the 1,000-year time span of
the 1st millennium BCE ...
SB: Speaking for myself, and not Yitzhak Sapir, I'll say that the
Patriarchal Narratives echo the themes and concerns and tone of the
Succession Narrative so closely that I find it inconceivable (a term
fraught with danger, especially if you're a fan of The Princess Bride)
that they were written by different men (or, if you like, women). But
then I'm just a LitCrit guy with a vivid imagination and an ear for

I'd love to pursue this further; but I'm writing this from work, I hope
to escape very soon, and I'll be offline until after Christmas. So don't
feel neglected if I don't answer your next, there's no ducking intended,
much less discourtesy. On the contrary, I hope you will permit me to
take this occasion to wish you and yours

and everyone else on this list,

a very merry Christmas ...

Stoney Breyer
Writer / Touchwood 


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