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

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Dec 21 17:13:06 EST 2007


Stoney Breyer:
 
[Part 1 of 2]
 
1.  You wrote:  “[Re what Jacob says at Genesis 28: 20-22]  Well, you've 
turned "if" into "only if"; and the "if" there is, I believe, the translator's 
interpretation rather than unambiguously implicit”.
 
Here is the JPS1917 translation:
 
“And Jacob vowed a vow, saying:  'If God will be with me, and will keep me in 
this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so 
that I come back to my father's house in peace, then shall the LORD [YHWH] be 
my God”.  Genesis 28: 20-21
 
Would any 1st millennium BCE Hebrew say that?  What if Jacob had bad luck on 
his trip, never made it out to Haran, and was worried that he might end up 
being a bachelor his whole life who never sired a son?  Would that then be the 
time for Jacob to start thinking about worshiping a different deity?  No 
respected Hebrew religious figure in the Bible talks like that, outside of the 
Patriarchal narratives.  If this story was a myth created in the 1st millennium BCE, 
such words would never have been put into the mouth of Jacob/“Israel”.  The 
very reason why these words have such an authentic ring to them, both in the 
1st millennium BCE and in the 21st century AD, is precisely because no 
religious Jew from the 1st millennium BCE to the present would think like that.  This 
is coming straight out of the mid-2nd millennium BCE, in truly ancient times, 
at the very beginning of Judaism.
 
2.  You wrote (quoting me first):  “JS  2.  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
 don't.”
 
That’s precisely my point.  There’s no way that any 1st millennium BCE 
Levite would create a “myth” like that.  Nor would any other religious Jew who 
revered the Hebrew priests.  The author of the Patriarchal narratives is from 
such a truly ancient time that he did not know that the descendants of Levi would 
later turn out to be Hebrew priests.  No 1st millennium BCE religious Jew 
would create such a storyline to describe the ancestor of the Levite line of 
beloved Hebrew priests.
 
3.  You wrote:  “Well, David's heirs-apparent certainly get the shaft in 
favor of a
 possibly illegitimate third-stringer. "Properly so" depends on your 
perspective.”
 
It’s true that both David and Solomon are younger sons.  But you do not have 
a prolonged focus, for five generations in succession, on the firstborn son 
always getting the shaft, and properly so.  The Hebrews in the 1st millennium 
BCE loved and treasured their firstborn sons to no end.  If a 1st millennium BCE 
Hebrew were going to create a myth about the fictional origins of the 
Hebrews, he would not focus on the firstborn son, for five straight generations, 
always getting the shaft, and properly so.  That is a peculiar theme that was 
extremely important in the mid-14th century BCE, while not being redolent of the 
1st millennium BCE at all.
 
4.  You wrote:  “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.”
 
(a) Where in the text does “the author of the Abraham narrative
 …crow…about the badger game his hero pulls on Pharaoh”?  That’s not in the 
text, as far as I can see.
 
(b)  How can you say that “Joseph is portrayed as an unpleasant self-satisfied
 overreacher”?  Joseph in fact is quite magnanimous toward his older 
half-brothers who tried to kill him:
 
“‘And God sent me before you to give you a remnant on the earth, and to save 
you alive for a great deliverance.’”  Genesis 45: 7
 
That is well-spoken, like the fine gentleman Joseph is portrayed as being.
 
(c)  And how on earth can you possibly say that “Joseph… leads the sons of 
Israel into bondage”?  Joseph was sold to slavetraders by his murderous older 
half-brothers, and involuntarily taken to Egypt.  It was great Patriarch #3, 
Jacob/“Israel”, not Joseph, who leads all 70 Hebrews into Egypt.  Joseph in 
fact is portrayed in the text as allowing Egypt to save all the Hebrews from mass 
starvation.  And in the Patriarchal narratives, there is no “bondage” in 
Egypt.
 
No 1st millennium BCE would dream up pro-Egypt material like that.  Egypt 
killed popular Hebrew King Josiah in the 1st millennium BCE.  Egypt did little to 
stop first Assyria, then Babylonia, from destroying everything the Hebrews 
had:  both Israel and Judah, and finally Jerusalem itself.  Meanwhile, in the 
Patriarchal narratives Joseph is portrayed as speaking perfect Egyptian, 
dressing like an Egyptian, and heroically saving all the Hebrews from starvation as 
Pharaoh’s revered vizier.  None of this pro-Egypt storyline would be coming 
from any Hebrews in the 1st millennium BCE.
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois




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