[b-hebrew] Language, migration and Jewish identity

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Nov 8 17:39:00 EST 2007


 
Yitzhak  Sapir: 
You wrote:  "I note that most of those who accept  the Exodus as historical 
in light of archaeology, believe it took place around  the time of the Amarna 
correspondence.  Of
course, Jim Stinehart here  views the Amarna correspondence as dating to the 
time of the Patriarchs -- this  would also generally rule out Hyksos periods 
as the time of the  Exodus". 
1.  I am surprised to see you say that people who believe in an historical  
Exodus see the Exodus as being around the time of the Amarna period.  That is 
not a mainstream religious view,  is it?   
2.  If we're going to discuss these topics here, even generally, then I think 
 it should be pointed out that secular scholars at leading universities in  
the West will not permit any analogies to be asserted between the  Bible and 
the Amarna period.  That  applies both to the Exodus and to the Patriarchal 
narratives.   
Indeed, analogies of anything in the Bible  to Egypt are generally prohibited 
by academic secular scholars in the West.  Secular scholars insist that we 
should  look solely to Mesopotamia for inspirations for the Bible, despite the 
fact that  100 years of scholarly effort in that direction have produced 
surprisingly  little.  
3.  People naively think that secular scholars have carefully compared the  
Patriarchal narratives to the Amarna correspondence and have found very few  
similarities.  In fact, such a  comparison is not permitted by secular scholars 
in the West.  So if you were to say to a secular  scholar, for example, that 
the killing of Lab'ayu, the leader of Shechem, in the  Amarna Letters seems a 
lot like the killing of Hamor, the leader of Shechem, in  chapter 34 of 
Genesis, in that both killings were done by the forces of the  first historical 
monotheistic leader of a people (Akhenaten in secular history,  Jacob in the 
Bible), but not at that leader's direct order, and under morally  questionable 
circumstances, but with a fine result nonetheless, and with this  being the only 
moment in history when Shechem had a legitimate chance to  dominate all of 
central Canaan absent this Decapitation of the Shechem  Offensive, by organizing 
tent-dwelling peoples to do Shechem's bidding, here is  what would happen.  You 
would be  accused of being a religious fundamentalist, and the secular scholar 
would not  lower himself to even put forth an argument that the differences 
in the two  accounts allegedly outweigh the similarities.  Was it Lab'ayu in 
Amarna Letter EA 254,  or Hamor in chapter 34 of Genesis, who as the leader of 
Shechem utters this  immortal line shortly before his death?  "I did not know 
that my son was consorting with the  [habiru/Hebrews]."   
You would get the same scholarly reaction if  you were to assert that 
Akhenaten, the first historical leader of a monotheistic  people in secular history, 
and Jacob, the first historical leader of a  monotheistic people in the Bible, 
each oddly and rudely broke off relations with  his father-in-law on the 
far-off upper Euphrates River over the strange issue of  certain statues (golden 
statues in secular history, teraphim in Genesis) that  the first monotheistic 
leader, from far to the west, failed to deliver to his  irate father-in-law on 
the upper Euphrates River.  Was it Tushratta from the far-off upper  Euphrates 
River in Amarna Letter EA 29, or Laban from the far-off upper  Euphrates 
River in chapter 31 of Genesis, who utters these words to his  monotheistic 
son-in-law from far to the west, shortly before all relations were  permanently 
broken off by the monotheistic son-in-law:  "I asked for statues….  Now, may my 
[son-in-law] give me the  statues….  Why is it for you a  source of distress…?" 
    
The same would also happen if you were to  assert that the only substantive 
Amarna Letter we have that was written by  Akhenaten (Amarna Letter EA 162) is 
expressly on the topic of "the iniquity of  the Amorites", which is referenced 
so memorably at Genesis 15: 16.  Do you realize that secular scholars, in  
their published works, try to tell us that "the iniquity of the Amorites" at  
Genesis 15: 16 refers to untoward sex practices of Gentiles in Lebanon?  Why the 
heck would the Hebrews be  claiming in their sacred scripture that there 
would be a delay in the Hebrews'  return to Canaan, for hundreds of years, until 
the sex practices of Gentiles in  Lebanon changed?  Is that a sensible  reading 
of that fine text?  Wouldn't  the early Hebrews, by sharp contrast, be 
vitally concerned about the ominous  fact that in the mid-14th century BCE, both the 
Amorites in northern  Lebanon (Aziru), and the Amorites in Ugarit just north 
of Lebanon (Niqmaddu II)  [but not Abimilki of Sur in southern Lebanon, who by 
contrast was a good  Amorite], iniquitously sold out to the dreaded Hittites, 
thereby imperiling the  very existence of the new Hebrews?  That was the 
historical "iniquity of the Amorites".  Who the heck cares about the sex  
practices of Gentiles in Lebanon?  Isn't a looming potential genocide of the early 
Hebrews by the fearsome  Hittites a lot more important subject than that?  Just 
because Akhenaten excoriates the  historical "iniquity of the Amorites" in 
selling out northernmost Canaan to the  Hittites in Amarna Letter EA 162, does 
that mean that we are forced to go with  the secular scholars' view that the 
author of Genesis 15: 16 was supposedly  upset about some allegedly untoward sex 
practices of Gentiles in Lebanon?  Was it Isaac's wife Rebekah at Genesis  27: 
46, or Akhenaten in Amarna Letter EA 162, who utters these immortal words of  
invective?  "I loathe my life  because of the Hittites…." 
People naively think that secular scholars  have considered these issues 
objectively and in detail, and have rejected the  comparison of the historical 
time period of the Amarna Letters to the historical  time period of the 
Patriarchal narratives on the merits.  In fact, no secular scholar from a  leading 
university in the West is permitted to consider such  arguments. 
4.  As you know, secular scholars at leading universities in the West  
unfortunately consider the Patriarchal narratives to be "fairy tales", composed  by 
multiple authors and incoherently edited, with the Patriarchal narratives  
allegedly not being pulled together until a 1,000 years or so after the fact (of  
when the Patriarchs were supposed to have lived).  Yet there's nothing about 
the  Patriarchal narratives that is in the nature of "fairy tales".  All the 
stated ages of people make  perfect sense if viewed in terms of 6-month 
"years".  There is a monolithic viewpoint in the  Patriarchal narratives from 
beginning to end, which would be impossible to  sustain if there were multiple 
authors and incoherent editing.  And the pinpoint historical accuracy of  the 
Patriarchal narratives as to the mid-14th century BCE secular  historical time 
period could not possibly be coming from a mid-1st  millennium BCE composition. 
5.  In order  to bring this post back to Hebrew language issues, which is the 
long suit of  this b-Hebrew list, may I ask how you yourself explain the 
presence in the  Patriarchal narratives (at Genesis 14: 14) of the 15th century 
BCE  word chânîykîm?  If the Patriarchal narratives were not  composed in the 
mid-14th century BCE, during the historical  Patriarchal Age (my controversial 
view of the case), then how did that word get  into a mid-1st millennium BCE  
composition? 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois



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