[b-hebrew] Amarna Letters: The Number 318

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Dec 26 10:14:34 EST 2007

Kenneth Greifer:
1.  In Amarna Letter #287, the ruler of Jerusalem, Abdi-Heba, says to 
Akhenaten at lines 53-59:
“I sent as gifts to the king [Akhenaten], my lord, …318 porters for the 
caravans of the king, my lord….”
2.  As to the peculiar number 318, compare Genesis 14: 14:
“And when Abram [at Hebron] heard that his brother [his nephew Lot] was taken 
captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and 
eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan.”
3.  The word translated there at Genesis 14: 14 as “trained men” is not seen 
in the secular record after the 15th century BCE.  That suggests that chapter 
14 of Genesis is a truly ancient text.  The ancient word chânîykîm is never 
used elsewhere in the Bible.
4.  Comparing the two uses of the number 318 above, although the situations 
are by no means identical, there are some surprising similarities.  Both in 
Amarna Letter #287 and at Genesis 14: 14, we are dealing with 318 good men 
mustered from southeastern Canaan for the good cause of the first historical 
5.  Moreover, the first historical monotheist, both in the Bible and in 
secular history, distinguished himself militarily by opposing the Hittites.  In 
chapter 14 of Genesis, Abraham rescues Lot from a force of four attacking rulers, 
one of whom has a classic Hittite name:  Tidal/Tudhaliya.  Akhenaten for his 
part distinguished himself by managing to prevent Hittite King Suppililiuma I 
from invading Canaan.  Although the names “Suppililiuma” and “Tidal”/“
Tudhaliya” are not the same, nevertheless those two names are truly joined at the 
hip.  Suppililiuma’s great-grandfather named Tudhaliya (“Tidal” in Hebrew) 
started this line of Hittite kings.  Suppililiuma’s immediate predecessor as 
Hittite king was his father, also named Tudhaliya (“Tidal”).  And last but not 
least, Suppililiuma became king of the Hittites by the dramatic expedient of 
murdering his older brother who was the rightful heir to the throne, and you can 
guess what the name of that murdered older brother of Suppililiuma was:  
Tudhaliya (“Tidal”), of course (known to historians as “Tudhaliya the Younger”).  
So in my view these Hittite kingly names match, though we are admittedly 
dealing with two different Hittite kingly names in comparing chapter 14 of Genesis 
to Amarna.
6.  The only other time that I myself have seen the number 318 is when 
Amenhotep III married a Hurrian princess from the upper Euphrates River, who brought 
with her 317 handmaidens from Nahrima (accurately stated at Genesis 24: 10 as 
“Naharim”), making a total of 318 women coming out from the upper Euphrates 
River.  Amenhotep III was the father of the first historical monotheistic 
leader of a people.  As such, Amenhotep III is somewhat comparable to Isaac in the 
Patriarchal narratives, who was the father of Jacob/“Israel”.  Isaac’s bride 
of course did in fact come from the upper Euphrates River, from 
Naharim/Nahrima, a state that went out of existence at the end of the 14th century BCE, and 
her name was Rebekah.  True, chapter 24 of Genesis does not say that Rebekah 
brought 317 handmaidens with her.  But note how oddly prominent Rebekah’s 
nurse and handmaidens are who come with Rebekah way out to Canaan:
“And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's 
servant, and his men.  …And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the 
camels, and followed the man.”  Genesis 24: 59. 61
And just when you had forgotten all about Rebekah’s nurse, who would seem to 
be as minor a character as possible, why she is mentioned again, and this time 
by name even:
“And Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried below Beth-el under the 
oak; and the name of it was called Allon-bacuth.”  Genesis 35: 8
7.  Note that both at Amarna and in the Patriarchal narratives, both the 
first historical leader of a monotheistic people (Jacob and Akhenaten), and his 
father (Isaac and Amenhotep III), marry women from the upper Euphrates River.  
In the older generation, the woman’s handmaidens are emphasized, and relations 
with the in-laws are fine.  But in the younger generation, the monotheistic 
son-in-law from far to the southwest rudely breaks off relations with his irate 
father-in-law from the upper Euphrates River/Nahrima/Naharim, with the last 
straw in both cases being certain statues (teraphim or gold statues) that the 
monotheistic son-in-law never delivered to his irate father-in-law from the 
upper Euphrates River.
Yitzhak Sapir can say that this is all fiction dreamed up by four mid-1st 
millennium BCE Hebrew ghostwriters, JEPD, but it just tain’t so.  There is no way 
that any mid-1st millennium BCE Hebrew ghostwriter would have known these 
specific historical details that come right out of the well-documented secular 
history of the mid-14th century BCE.
Like the number 318.
The fact of the matter is that the Patriarchal narratives are a truly ancient 
text, no matter how many times academic scholars tell us that we should 
accept the 100-year-old Documentary Hypothesis.  That old theory that was dreamed 
up when no one knew the Hittites existed, and when there was little knowledge 
of Amarna, the Hurrians, the Decapitation of the Shechem Offensive, the 
historical iniquity of the Amorites, when the Amorites sold out northern Lebanon and 
Ugarit to the dreaded Hittites in the mid-14th century BCE, etc., etc., etc.  
Since Mr. Wellhausen knew nothing about the secular history of the mid-14th 
century BCE, why should we accept his theory that the Patriarchal narratives are 
fiction ginned up by four Hebrew authors in the mid-1st millennium BCE, in 
the face of all the detailed matches between the text and what is now well known 
about the secular history of the mid-14th century BCE?
Note that Yitzhak Sapir has not set forth a single story in the entirety of 
the Patriarchal narratives that is out of place in a mid-14th century BCE 
setting.  Not one.  So why should we think that a storyline, all of whose 
components fit perfectly into the Amarna period, is fiction ginned up by multiple 
authors in the mid-1st millennium BCE?  On my view, the first historical Hebrew is 
the sole author of the Patriarchal narratives, and he lived in the mid-14th 
century BCE.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

**************************************See AOL's top rated recipes 

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list