[b-hebrew] Was Abraham Born in Mesopotamia?

jason silber uzisilber at gmail.com
Mon Nov 5 13:46:13 EST 2007

controversial view indeed.  there are many 'ifs' in there.

another interesting point concerning this six month calendar:
Jews have two major new years as well
the first month -- chodesh rishon - in the jewish (babylonian) lunar
calendar is nissan -- the month of passover.
but rosh hashana (head of the year) is held on Tishrey  - chodesh shvi'i -
or the seventh month.

what is the prevailing opinion of modern secular scholarship regarding the
identification of kasdim with kassites?

On 11/5/07, JimStinehart at aol.com <JimStinehart at aol.com> wrote:
> Uzi:
> You wrote:  "Did anyone raise the issue that Ur Kasdim didnt exist during
> the
> time  Avram was supposed to have lived?  and that since Ur was a major
> sophisticated city during Babylonian exile  it is plausible that the
> editors of the
> tanakh in the 6 century BCE inserted an  Ur background to abraham to lend
> an
> air of sophistication to Avraham and  his
> descendents?"
> No one here has raised those issues.  In my controversial view, those
> issues
> are without merit.
>    1.  In my controversial view of the case, the  secular historical time
> period of the Patriarchal Age is the  mid-14th century BCE.   Everything
> that's
> in the Patriarchal narratives fits that narrow,  specific, peculiar time
> period (except a tiny handful of phrases that were  inserted later by an
> editor).
>    1.  Ur was a major Babylonian provincial city in the  mid-14th century
> BCE.   It was still wealthy, though it no longer wielded any
> political  power.
> Because the Babylonians  always made a point of bragging that Babylonia
> included Ur (the pre-Babylonian  capital of Mesopotamia), ancient Ur's
> former
> glories remained fairly well  known throughout the 2nd millennium BCE.
>    1.  As to "Kasdim", consider who the rulers of  Babylonia were in the
> mid-14th century BCE:  the "Kassites", the KS people.  And as to the
> individual
> ruler of  Babylonia in the mid-14th century BCE, we know from the Amarna
> Letters that the first four consonants of his name were KDSM.  If one
> simply
> inverts the order of the  two middle consonants we get KSDM, or
> "Kasdim".  Thus
> in my controversial view,  "Kasdim" in the Patriarchal narratives   is a
> play
> on "Kassites" and "KDSM".  The fact that two consonants are  inverted as
> to
> the individual ruler's name does not reflect a "mistake", in my  judgment,
> but rather reflects the negative attitude of Egypt toward Babylonia  in
> the time
> period of the Amarna Letters, which the Hebrew author of the  Patriarchal
> narratives, who lived during this same time period in my  controversial
> view, is
> picking up on.
>    1.  During the Babylonian exile, Ur became  permanently extinct.  Ur
> had
> been  nothing but a virtual ghost town since about the 10th century  BCE.
> People still remembered Ur,  though, and experts argue whether a few
> religious
> buildings still remained in  place in the 1st millennium BCE.  But for the
> most
> part, Ur virtually  did not exist in the 1st millennium BCE, except as a
> nearly  abandoned relic.
>    1.  Nothing good about Ur is stated in the  Patriarchal narratives.
> Abraham's  brother Haran is stated to die there, and YHWH reminds Abraham
> that
> YHWH had  done a good thing in not letting Abraham suffer his brother's
> unfortunate fate  of dying in far-off Ur.  Thus I  see no attempt
> whatsoever "to lend
> an air of sophistication  to Avraham and his descendents" by mentioning
> Ur.
> For example, Abraham and YHWH are  portrayed as speaking Hebrew, not as
> speaking
> Akkadian.
>    1.  The most unusual aspect of ancient Ur had been  its peculiar
> 6-month "
> year" concept.   In 5,000 years of human history, the only place that
> celebrated a  multi-day New Year/Akitu festival both in the spring, and 6
> months
> later in  the fall, was ancient Ur.  Thus by  making Ur the very first
> geographical reference in the Patriarchal narratives  (which begin at
> Genesis 11: 26,
> with Ur being mentioned at Genesis 11: 28),  the author alerts us that the
> ages
> of the people in his story may be set forth  in terms of 6-month "years".
> Thus  Terakh was not 70 years in 12-month years when he sired Abraham.  No
> way.
> Terakh was age 70 "years", in terms of  6-month "years", when he sired
> Abraham, which is age 35 regular years.  Likewise, Terakh cannot die at
> age 205
> regular years.  Those two facts  stated in chapter 11 of Genesis clue us
> in to
> the fact that all ages of all  characters are set forth in the text in
> terms of
> 6-month "years".  Terakh died at age 205 "years" in  terms of 6-month
> "years
> ", meaning that Terakh died at age 102½ regular  years.
>    1.  Every single story, without exception, in the  Patriarchal
> narratives
> relates to the particular secular historical time  period of the mid-14th
> century BCE, in my controversial view of the  case.  That was virtually
> the only
> time in history when a pre-Hebrew family could have a semi-realistic
> chance
> of  making a one-time caravan expedition to Mesopotamia, and selling the
> luxury
> goods obtained there to Egypt for a huge price.  That is exactly what is
> portrayed in  the opening chapters of the Patriarchal narratives, in my
> view.
> Such a caravan trip would be a fantasy  in most any other secular
> historical
> time period, but it was realistic in the  time period of the beginning of
> the
> mid-14th century  BCE.
> The reason why Abraham's "am"/people/ancestors are never stated to be in
> Mesopotamia in the text is because Abraham's ancestors had lived in
> Canaan, not
> in Mesopotamia.  The text always  refers to "mowledet"/MWLDT as to
> relatives
> in Mesopotamia:  descendants of Abraham's father, who  were in Mesopotamia
> on
> a one-time basis only, for one caravan expedition.  Abraham's father
> Terakh,
> and Abraham's  brother Nahor, get stuck in Harran when they cannot make it
> back to Canaan due  to Terakh's infirmity.
> Abraham was not a native Akkadian speaker from Ur, or a native Hurrian
> speaker from Harran, who came to Canaan for the first time as an old man
> and  spoke
> broken Hebrew.  No way.  Rather, Abraham spoke perfect Hebrew  from day
> #1,
> having learned pre-Hebrew on his mother's lap -- in  Canaan.
> The one thing odd about the caravan expedition is that Abraham does
> not  sell
> the luxury goods from Mesopotamia to Lebanese middlemen for a moderate
> price.  Instead, pursuant to divine  advice, Abraham goes straight to
> Egypt and
> sells the luxury goods for a sky-high  price in Egypt.  Though that was
> something of a long shot in the mid-14th century BCE, it was  nevertheless
> possible,
> for a monotheistic tent-dweller.  That was the only time in the
> long  history
> of ancient Egypt when Egypt was moving in the direction
> of  monotheism.  Also,
> the pharaoh's  heir was having a terrible time trying to sire a son by his
> main wife #1.  So Pharaoh could have been sympathetic  to Abraham, both
> because
> both were semi-monotheistic, and because both were  experiencing a
> terrible
> problem regarding siring a son.  The one and only time period in
> which  this
> story is realistic is the mid-14th century BCE.
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
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