[b-hebrew] Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Lot's Wife, Akhenaten, and Nefertiti

Stephen & Rebecca Shead srshead at gmail.com
Wed Dec 26 15:41:26 EST 2007


Jim:

I have to concur with Kenneth Greiffer: "you only look for similarities, and you totally ignore differences". The lengths to which you go to press similarities on the text are impressive, but very forced.

* I gather you see both Abraham and Lot as representations of Akhenaten, and Sarah and Lot's wife both as Nefertiti - despite the enormous differences between the characters and their appraisals in the text. This would be a MOST peculiar narrative device. It seems to me this simply gives you more options for finding correlations: if some detail of Abraham/Sarah contradicts the comparison, perhaps you can find something less tenuous in Lot/his wife, and then you can ignore the contradiction (as with Sarah's barrenness). 

* When you say both Nefertiti and Lot's wife bore four daughters "who grew up to be teenagers", I presume this is because Nefertiti had (two?) other daughters who died as children; i.e. Nefertiti actually had SIX daughters, Lot's wife had 4, and Sarah had none.

* You claim that Lot's wife "appears to give up trying to bear Lot a son". Where is this implied in the text? Where is there any kind of comparison between Sarah and Lot's wife in the text itself, apart from your reading one in?

* You wrote: "Lot then impregnates his 14- and 12-year-old virgin daughters, which may result in siring a male heir on behalf of his main wife #1...". Lot did not INTENTIONALLY "impregnate" his daughters. His own desire for a male heir does not appear anywhere in the narrative.

* As you concede, Akhenaten did not sire a son through his daughters, whereas Lot sired two. Then you claim: "So at the 
end of the day, you see, Akhenaten was in Abraham’s situation". True at that moment, with regard to male offspring through Sarah - but not true "at the end of the day"! Summary: Abraham did father a son by his #1 wife; Akhenaten did not. Lot (unintentionally) fathered 2 sons by his daughters; Akhenaten did not.

* You claim that "Akhenaten’s very controversial actions" were "always approved of by the author of the Patriarchal narratives". How so? There is no indication in the narrative that the author approves of Sarah/Abram's scheme to produce a child through Hagar, and every reason to see an implicit rebuke for a lack of faith in the promise/power of YHWH. Job's fathering of sons through his daughters is his moment of utter shame and humiliation in the narrative, his disastrous "end" in the text - reaping the result of his earlier foolish decisions, in contrast to his generous and trusting uncle.

* I find utterly fanciful your dogged insistence that the identity of Isaac's father is left ambiguous. Quite the reverse - the text emphasizes Abraham's fatherhood of Isaac over and over. Gen 17:16, "I will give YOU a son by her", 17:17 "Can a child be born to a hundred-year-old man? Can Sarah, a ninety-year-old woman, give birth?" (Abraham's incredulity - note the pair of roles), 17:19 "Your wife Sarah will bear YOU a son", and so on: 17:21, 18:12 (again, the age of EACH of them is problematic), 21:2, 21:3 ("Abraham called the name of his son BORN TO HIM, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac"), 21:5, 21:7 ("I have borne him a son in HIS old age").

These are the points that I find forced from your last email. In addition, I wonder whether your approach ultimately does not cope with the fact that YHWH's multi-faceted promise to Abraham - by far the most important theme in the entire narrative - involves descendants, blessing, and A LAND. Everything else happens in the context of these promises. But what does the promise of the land have to do with Akhenaten? Or is the promise of the land really about the new Hebrews themselves - in which case Abraham is a conflation of Akhenaten and the original Hebrew, while Akhenaten himself is split between Abraham and Lot?

Stephen Shead
Centro de Estudios Pastorales
Santiago, Chile

-----Original Message-----
From: JimStinehart at aol.com [mailto:JimStinehart at aol.com] 
Sent: 26 December 2007 13:25
To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [b-hebrew] Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Lot's Wife, Akhenaten, and Nefertiti


Stephen Shead:
 
 
You wrote:  “Thought I'd step in with one objection, concerning your argument 
about Akhenaten's and Abraham's "obsession" to sire a son by their beloved 
main wife #1.  …Factor in the very striking non-correspondence that Abraham and 
Sarah had no daughters (why make Sarah entirely barren?), and the comparison 
is hardly convincing.”
 
In the first half of the Patriarchal narratives, two couples are always 
contrasted.  Although one couple is usually front and center (Abraham and Sarah), 
the other couple is always there, in the background:  Lot and Lot’s wife.  The 
author of the Patriarchal narratives approves of Abraham, Sarah, Lot’s 
daughters, and, after a fashion, Lot, but not Lot’s wife.
 
Lot’s wife bore Lot four daughters who grew up to be teenagers.  Ditto for 
Nefertiti, who was Akhenaten’s Queen/main wife #1.  Lot’s two oldest daughters 
marry men of Sodom (hence the references to “sons-in-law” in chapter 19 of 
Genesis), and Lot’s two youngest daughters are virgins, who are just old enough 
to bear a child.
 
Lot’s wife never bore Lot a son.  Ditto for Nefertiti.
 
Lot’s wife, though younger than Sarah, appears to give up trying to bear Lot 
a son.  Ditto for Nefertiti.  Today, we would not criticize Lot’s wife or 
Nefertiti for that choice, because those two women were in middle age, and trying 
to bear another child could well have been very hazardous to their health.  
But that was not the view of Akhenaten or of the author of the Patriarchal 
narratives.  So you see, the old age of Sarah is in fact very, very relevant to 
Akhenaten’s family situation, as Nefertiti had become too old to bear another 
child safely, though Nefertiti may not have been too old to get pregnant again.
 
Lot’s wife is righteously turned into a type of statue.  Ditto for Nefertiti, 
all of whose iconography remains intact, but who is never seen alive again 
(though she has not literally died, as there is no funeral or mourning).
 
Lot then impregnates his 14- and 12-year-old virgin daughters, which may 
result in siring a male heir on behalf of his main wife #1, with such heir to be a 
son/grandson.  Akhenaten did exactly the same thing.
 
But unlike Lot, Akhenaten did not sire a son/grandson as an heir.  So at the 
end of the day, you see, Akhenaten was in Abraham’s situation.  There was no 
son, and no son/grandson either.  Sarah is praised for not complaining about 
spending one night in princeling Abimelech’s household, and for being willing to 
try to bear a son in advanced middle age (the equivalent of age 45 regular 
years, as her stated age of 90 “years” is set forth in terms of 6-month “years”
).  Abraham is praised for accepting Isaac as his son and heir, even though 
YHWH never is reported in the text as telling Abraham that Isaac was Abraham’s 
blood son, rather than being Abraham’s adopted son.
 
Akhenaten, you see, ended up having to adopt his heir.  Smenkhkare was, in 
effect, Akhenaten’s adopted “son”, and was certainly a close male relative who 
was Akhenaten’s sole heir.  The Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives 
was unwilling to portray Isaac as necessarily being Abraham’s adopted son.  So 
the text leaves that issue eternally ambiguous.  In fact, at the end of the 
day, it seems almost certain that Isaac is to be viewed as being Abraham’s blood 
son, not Abraham’s adopted son.  But the central point of the Patriarchal 
narratives remains intact:  the first historical monotheist should consider 
himself divinely blessed under either of the following two circumstances:
 
(1)  After trying for years, his main wife #1 bears him a son.  (Abraham’s 
situation.)
 
(2)  After trying for years, and with his main wife #1 unable to bear him a 
son, he has a close male relative whom he can adopt as his son and heir, and 
who will marry a close female blood relative.  (Akhenaten’s situation.  It is 
possible, though unlikely, that that is Abraham’s situation as well.)
 
So you see, if you look at Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Lot’s wife, and Lot’s 
daughters, you see brilliant variations on Akhenaten’s terrible fertility/succession 
problem.  Note that in every case, Akhenaten’s very controversial actions, 
which were silently condemned by Egyptians at the time, and which are loudly 
condemned by modern historians, are nevertheless always approved of by the author 
of the Patriarchal narratives.  The reason for that is that the author of the 
Patriarchal narratives was, in my controversial view, the first historical 
Hebrew, who desperately wanted to get Akhenaten out of his funk about his 
disastrous family situation, so that Akhenaten could focus on keeping the dreaded 
Hittites from invading Canaan and wiping out the new Hebrews.
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois






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