[b-hebrew] Where Was Jacob's Ladder?

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Nov 8 10:24:02 EST 2007


 
George  Athas: 
You wrote:  "Jim, is there a  specifically Hebrew notion in your discussion? 
If not,
it would be best not  to pursue this thread." 
The key issue is how to understand the Biblical Hebrew phrasing of  Genesis 
28: 10-11.  My reading is  that the reference to the sun going down means the 
first time that the sun went  down on Jacob's trip out to Harran.  It was the 
first night that Jacob ever spent alone in his entire life,  away from his 
family. 
If Jacob had already been on his trip for one or two or three days  already, 
why would the narrator be telling us about the sun going  down? 
1.  Here is my literal  reading of the Hebrew text of Genesis 28: 10-11: 
"And departed Jacob from  Beersheba, and went toward Harran, and lighted upon 
a place, staying all night  there, because went down the sun...." 
Am I misunderstanding what the Hebrew text actually  says?  To me, the clear 
implication  is that after leaving Beersheba and heading out in the direction 
of Harran,  Jacob traveled until the sun started to go down, at which point 
Jacob had to  stop traveling any further that first day.  The first day that a 
person is away from his family, and will sleep  outside all alone, with most of 
the long, dangerous trip to Harran still lying  ahead, is the perfect setting 
for the Jacob's Ladder  experience. 
The critical issue here is whether Jacob came upon the  Jacob's Ladder locale 
the very first evening after he left Beersheba, or rather  whether Jacob had 
been on the road for at least two days, and perhaps for many  days, when the 
sun happened to go down. 
Are you interpreting Genesis 28: 10-11 as follows?   
"And departed Jacob from  Beersheba, and went toward Harran.  And [one time 
on his trip out to Harran, he] lighted upon a place,  staying all night there, 
because went down the sun...." 
Does that interpretation make sense?  Obviously, the sun goes down every  
day.  To me, if Jacob has already  been on the road several days, it is strange 
for the narrator to be telling us  about the sun going down.  What  makes sense 
to me is that the first time that the sun went down when Jacob was  alone, 
far from his family, was a special moment, which is why the narrator  tells us 
about the sun going down in Genesis 28: 10-11. 
2.  My reading of the Hebrew  text of Genesis 28: 10-11 may be in error.  The 
fact remains, however, that the key to my whole argument rests  entirely on 
what one understands the Biblical Hebrew text of Genesis 28: 10-11  to be 
saying.  If the text is  clearly saying that Jacob happened upon the Jacob's Ladder 
locale on his trip  out to Harran, but by no means necessarily, or even 
probably, on the first day  of his trip, then my entire argument here disappears. 
As I see it, the issue I am raising is strictly a question of Biblical  
Hebrew grammar and word usage.  Does  or does not Genesis 28: 10-11, objectively 
viewed, strongly imply that Jacob  came upon the Jacob's Ladder locale the very 
first evening of his long trip out  to Harran?  That's the  question.  That's 
the "Hebrew  notion" here. 
If the experts on Biblical Hebrew concur that based on that sentence, it  was 
probably not the first evening of the trip that Jacob happened upon the  
Jacob's Ladder locale, then the argument I was making is defeated.  But the 
argument will be won or lost  based on our understanding of what the Hebrew text is 
actually  saying. 
Many of us like to post here because we're always worried that we may be  
misunderstanding the grammar or word choice used in Biblical Hebrew, and we  
greatly appreciate the different opinions that we get here from people whose  long 
suit is Biblical Hebrew.  If I  have misinterpreted the Biblical Hebrew 
meaning of Genesis 28: 10-11, I will  promptly drop my argument as being a losing 
argument. 
The question is whether, based on an objective reading of the Biblical  
Hebrew text, Genesis 28: 10-11 strongly implies that Jacob came upon the Jacob's  
Ladder locale the very first evening of his long trip out to Harran.  As I see 
it, that is purely a matter of  Biblical Hebrew grammar and Biblical Hebrew 
word choice, and as such is a  fitting topic for discussion on this fine 
b-Hebrew list.  
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois



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