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

Stoney Breyer stoneyb at touchwoodcreative.com
Fri Dec 28 11:39:17 EST 2007

-----Original Message-----
1.  I 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".

And you responded with a translation - which bypassed my first point and
sidestepped my second.

To get to YOUR point ... " 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."

You're distorting the story. Jacob says, without any 'if' and explicitly
in response to YHWH's promise that none of those dreadful things are
going to happen, that when he's in a position to do so he will render
YHWH the gratitude He is due. The tenor of this passage does not differ
in any significant respect from that of, say, three of any ten Psalms
picked at random.

2.  You wrote "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."
I responded "You seem to presume that this passage was written by a
Levite. I  don't."
You responded "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."

Again, you evade the point: Who says the Patriarchal narratives were
written by such a person? Whatever you may think of the DH in toto,
Wellhausen made it perfectly clear that many of the authors represented
in the Hebrew Anthology ignored or repudiated Levite pretensions...
Under your argument, 2Sam 8:18 was written in the 2nd Millennium BCE,
which is going to create real problems with any chronology.

3.  You wrote:  "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."

On the contrary. The disinheritance of beloved senior sons under
circumstances which include 
	a) a murderous response to a sister's rape, 
	b) cohabitation with the father's wives 
	c) conspiracy of a junior wife and her junior son to hoodwink
the father 

is of critical personal and political importance in the reign of David.

By the way, where do you get five generations in succession? I see only
four: Ishmael(dubious), Esau, Reuben/Levi/Simeon, Manasseh.
4. 	(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.

And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had,
and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in
silver, and in gold. 
	(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

Well, that's Joseph's read on it. Me, I don't like Joseph; Joseph's
brothers don't like Joseph; and I don't believe the author of the
narrative likes Joseph.

	(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.
Well, there's room for argument here. You see your Patriarchal
narratives as ending with Gen50, with Exodus from a later hand; I see
Genesis-Exodus as continuous and point out the difference: Abram went to
Egypt and came back rich; Joseph rose to 'glory' in Egypt, sent for his
family ("ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all
that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither")
and brought the sons of Israel into bondage. 

You wrote:	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.

Again, we differ in our assumptions about the context of the narrative.
I don't think it's pro-Egypt ... But even if it were pro-Egypt, there
were certainly Hebrew partisans of an Egyptian connection in the 1st
millennium BCE. Solomon, for instance ...

5.  You wrote:  "Assyria started its unrelenting attacks on Israel in
the 9th century BCE..."

Videlicet, after the reigns of David and Solomon ... And if I remember
correctly, hostility was hardly 'unrelenting' - some kings of Israel and
Judah allied themselves with Assyria, did they not? 

"No 1st millennium BCE Hebrew would portray 3 of the 4 beloved
Matriarchs as coming from the upper Euphrates River, because to the 1st
millennium BCE Hebrews, the upper Euphrates River area meant the hated

Yet "My father was a wandering Aramaean" ... Look: during WWI
anti-german sentiment was so fierce that the Germania Life Insurance Co.
changed its name to Guardian Life Insurance Co., and Berlin Avenue in
St. Louis became Pershing Avenue. This is not the same thing as "no 20th
Century American would portray his forebears as coming from Germany,
because to 20th Century Americans, Germany meant the hated Prussians." 

6.  As I said, "I defer to the archaeologists on this one." I'll just
point out that the identity of Biblical names like Horites and Hittites
with any historically identifiable peoples is controversial - not least
because names tend to linger long past their ethnonymic relevance
(consider for instance the Cajuns of Louisiana, or the official name of
7.  Are you beginning to see why Yitzhak Sapir says that no one except a
" fundamentalist" is permitted to question the 100-year-old Wellhausen
JEPD theory that the Patriarchal narratives are fiction ginned up by
four or more southern Hebrew authors in the mid-1st millennium BCE?  

Again, I can't speak for Prof. Sapir, except to point out that that's
not what he said. It's not what Wellhausen said, either.

"No mainstream secular academic scholar in the West has published
anything on that subject for the last 40 years or so."

What? What?! What subject are you talking about? 
Do you mean "no ... scholar has published anything on the subject of the
Documentary Hypothesis?" - not true. 
Or do you mean "no ... scholar has published anything critical of the
Documentary Hypothesis?" - not true.
Or do you mean "no ... scholar has published anything supporting a C14
BCE origin of the Patriarchal narratives?" - may very well be true,
possibly because no ... scholar believes it.

Stoney Breyer

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