[b-hebrew] Was Abraham Born in Mesopotamia?

jason silber uzisilber at gmail.com
Tue Nov 6 10:47:56 EST 2007

1) I have to read and reread the narrative and your writing, especially your
contention concerning the beer sheva in southern lebanon near Tzor (im at
work now, so...
2) im sending my reply to earlier quesitons under separate cover, some of
the points which you reply to here.

let me say, that this group is very interesting and wonderful, and its great
to find a bunch of people who live and breath the mikra, both devout and


On 11/6/07, JimStinehart at aol.com <JimStinehart at aol.com> wrote:
> Uzi:
> You wrote:  "there are also references to towns  being known differently
> at
> one point )
> and Beit El which was once luz, and  hevron nee kiryat arba).  the semi
> mythical nature would explain the multiple versions of events, the
> doublets, the
> same events featuring different characters, the rounded numbers (in
> baylonian
> style) of 180, 120, 40.  so wouldn't  you agree that while some of the
> semi
> mythical information may originate from  sources from, say, the 15th
> century,
> that the writer who
> ultimately put this  fathers cycles together would have lived in the 8th
> century BCE at the  earliest?"
> I disagree completely.  We're not talking myths when we're  talking the
> Patriarchal narratives.
> In  this post, let me focus on your common misunderstanding about Luz and
> Bethel.  There are two Bethels in  the Patriarchal narratives.  The  name
> "Bethel" means "house of God", and so could be applied to any cite where a
> Patriarch encounters YHWH.
> Abraham's Bethel/Ai is the Bethel we know  today.  It is between Jerusalem
> and  Shechem.  That Bethel was located  next to the recently abandoned
> city of
> Ai in Abraham's day.  That Bethel is referenced after Abraham  travels
> south
> from Shechem, and Luz is never mentioned in connection with
> that  Bethel.  That
> site had the name  Bethel before the first Hebrews got to southeastern
> Canaan.
> Note that Abraham is not portrayed as  naming that site "Bethel", and the
> narrator uses the name Bethel as if that site  had long been called Bethel
> (long
> before Jacob's birth), which indeed was the  case.
> By sharp contrast, Jacob's  Bethel is in a completely different location,
> near Mt. Lebanon in southern  Lebanon.  It's secular name was  Luz.  In
> secular
> history, Luz  almost certainly is historical Luweiziyeh, located 4 miles
> northwest of  Banias at the foot of Mt. Lebanon in  the _Golan Heights_
> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golan_Heights) .  "Luz" is simply the
> shortened Hebrew
> version of "Luweiziyeh".  Southern  Lebanon is part of Canaan, so Luz is
> in
> Canaan.
> Jacob calls Luz "Bethel", because Jacob has  important encounters with
> there, including the famous Jacob's Ladder  experience.  Note that Jacob's
> Bethel always references Luz.  Your  basic contention that Luz was an
> older
> name, that became displaced by the later  name Bethel, is specifically
> refuted by
> the text itself.  The last reference to this place in the  text simply
> refers
> to it as "Luz" (with no reference to "Bethel").  That was not an old name,
> now abandoned,  but rather is the secular name of this place near
> Mt.  Lebanon.
> Here are the textual  cites:
> "And he called the name of that place  Beth-el, but the name of the city
> was
> Luz at the first."  Genesis 28:  19
> "So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land  of Canaan--the same is
> Beth-el--he and all the people that were with him."  Genesis 35:  6
> Note that Jacob's "Bethel" is always closely  associated with secular
> historical Luz  (Luweiziyeh).
> "And Jacob said unto Joseph:  'God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz
> in  the
> land of Canaan, and blessed me'".  Genesis 48: 3
> The Patriarchs knew that the actual name of this place in
> southern  Lebanon
> was Luz.  "Bethel" is just a  Hebrew nickname that Jacob applied to the
> place,
> because Jacob met YHWH on two  important occasions at that site.
> When the Patriarchs are in southern Lebanon, they sometimes use
> names  from
> southern Canaan to apply to a site in southern Lebanon as a new Hebrew
> nickname, if there is some connection in their experience between the
> two  different
> geographical sites.  The  Patriarchs know that there is a Beersheba in the
> northern Negev Desert.  That Beersheba is referenced, but only  once, in
> the
> Patriarchal narratives at Genesis 46: 1.  The rest of the "Beershebas" in
> the
> Patriarchal narratives are locales in southern Lebanon where a water well
> has
> been providentially found.  "Beersheba" means "on oath -- a
> well!".  Likewise,
> Jacob's "Bethel" is located in  southern Lebanon, at Luz.  That
> was  Jacob's
> "house of God", where Jacob had two profound encounters with YHWH.   So it
> makes
> sense for Jacob to give historical Luz the Hebrew nickname of  "Bethel",
> somewhat comparable to his grandfather's Bethel north of  Jerusalem.
> Everyone loves to hate southern Lebanon and Sur ("Tyre") because
> chapters  27
> and 28 of Ezekiel condemn Sur in such strident terms.  Evangelical
> Christians
> even see Sur in  chapters 27 and 28 of Ezekiel as symbolizing the Devil
> himself.  But that's all 1st millennium  BCE history, coming about 700
> years after
> the Patriarchal Age.  The Hebrews liked Sur and southern  Lebanon in the
> 2nd
> millennium BCE.  In the early 1st millennium  BCE, Solomon is portrayed as
> getting rich selling wheat to Sur.  I Kings 5:  15, 25  It makes sense
> for  the
> Patriarchal narratives to portray Isaac as getting rich growing wheat in
> southern Lebanon and selling the wheat to Sur.  Genesis 26: 12-14
> Jacob's "Bethel" is historical Luz/Luweiziyeh in southern Lebanon (not
> Abraham's Bethel/Ai north of Jerusalem).  Abraham's and Isaac's
> "Beersheba" is a
> site east of Sur ("Tyre") in  southern Lebanon (not the well-known
> Beersheba in
> the northern Negev  Desert).  If we can drop our hatred  of southern
> Lebanon
> and Sur, which makes no sense whatsoever prior to the  1st millennium BCE,
> we
> can see that the Hebrew Patriarchs are  portrayed as prospering in
> southern
> Lebanon in the Patriarchal  narratives.
> None of this is "semi-mythical".  Rather, it's all tracking the
> well-documented secular history of the  mid-14th century BCE.
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
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