[b-hebrew] Tithing and Wellhausen: Part I of II

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Dec 28 12:43:52 EST 2007

Stoney Breyer:
[Part I of II]
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".  …
 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.”
Perhaps this is a question of how to understand the Biblical Hebrew words at 
Genesis 28: 20.  Every translation I have seen except one uses the English 
word “if” to translate the Hebrew word aleph-mem.  That Hebrew word usually 
means “if”, but there are limited exceptions.  The only different translation I 
found was Young’s Literal Translation (which often as not is not very literal, 
by the way), which instead uses the English word “seeing”.
All the mainstream translations see the word “if” as being there.  I agree 
that if the word “if” is not there, then my point is entirely invalid.  But I 
see the word “if” as being there.  Why don’t you see aleph-mem as meaning “if
” at Genesis 28: 20?
2.  You wrote:  “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.”
(a)  I do not think that II Samuel was composed in the 2nd millennium BCE.  
That’s impossible.
(b)  It may well be true, as you allege, that some writers of the Bible “
repudiated Levite pretensions”.  Yet my point still stands.  There is nothing in 
the Patriarchal narratives that indicates that the author of the Patriarchal 
narratives knew that there would be a line of Levite priests in the 1st 
millennium BCE.  That is consistent with my controversial view that the Patriarchal 
narratives were composed in the mid-14th century BCE.
3.  You wrote:  " 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.”
In my view, that is a 1st millennium BCE reaction to the truly ancient 
Patriarchal narratives.  The 1st millennium BCE Hebrews disliked a lot of the 
substance of the Patriarchal narratives.  Thank goodness for us, they did not 
re-write the Patriarchal narratives.  Rather, they used later books in the Bible to 
answer troubling questions raised by the Patriarchal narratives.  For example, 
the mid-1st millennium BCE Hebrews had the same misunderstanding of the end 
of chapter 12 of Genesis and of chapter 20 of Genesis as modern secular 
analysts have.  Those later Hebrews wanted to claim that Abraham was honestly afraid 
he would be murdered by a king on account of Abraham’s beautiful wife.  Never 
mind that Sarah is stated age 90 “years” in chapter 20 of Genesis.  So the 
later Hebrews portray King David as doing just that:  having a man (Uriah) 
killed, so that the king could have his way with the man’s wife.
Accordingly, when I try to explain that Abraham was not in fact honestly in 
fear of his life when he visited Pharaoh or when he visited Abimelech, I am not 
only going up against modern secular scholars, but I am also going up against 
a misinterpretation of the text that started in the mid-1st millennium BCE.  
In my view, Abraham and Sarah wanted a baby.  They were not afraid that 
Abraham would be murdered by Pharaoh or Abimelech on account of Sarah.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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