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

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Thu Nov 8 23:38:11 EST 2007


I've been avoiding this whole thread, both because you keep repeating 
yourself and ignoring what other have written, and because I have already 
commented that the topic is not really apropriate for this list. But I do 
have a few comments.

1. When the text says that Abraham built his altar "between Ai and Beth-el", 
this says nothing of the state of either of those places in the time of 
Abraham. Abraham does not "name" Beth-el, has no interaction with the people 
there (if there were any), and the name is not important to the story. The 
author, whether Moses or whoevers, simply wanted his readers to be able to 
identify the general area in which Abraham had passed, and so used 
referneces that would have been would have been familiar to them. A similar 
anachronism appears in Gen. 14:14, where Abraham chases the kings as far as 
Dan. Dan, we all know, was actually called Laish at the time, and would only 
be named Dan at the time of the Judges, and named after Abraham's 
great-grandson. Since the story of the naming of the place is not important 
here, the author simply uses the better-known name.

2. In both cases, I think that the author does intend Dan to be the same 
Dan, and Beth-el to be the same Beth-el. This time, however, in Gen. 28, the 
naming of the place is important to the story, so we get the full details. 
The ancient reader would not have been bothered by the fact that Beth-el had 
already been mentioned by name in chapter 12. Remember, that even if you do 
believe that the patriarchal stories are "real history", the Bible is not a 
book of history in the modern sense, and is not bound by YOUR rules of 

3. I agree that the story looks like it's talking about Jacob's first night 
of his journey (although I don't accept your assumption that he had NEVER 
spent a night away from his parents. How do you know that? The Bible does 
not account for every day and night in Jacob's life), although that may be 
an illusion, since the text does not actually say it. So you ask how he 
could have gone from Beer-sheba to Beth-el in one day's journey? But that's 
just it: the text does not actually say that it was one day, so why is it 
important for you to know? For the text, waht's important is that he "met" 
God at the same place that Abraham had, implying, or maybe even "proving", 
that Jacob was Abraham's true heir, and not Esau. The text does not say how 
long his journey to Haran was either. The distances and times are not 

4. Absolutely none of this has to do with "multiple authors" or what my 
university with allow me to discuss.

Yigal Levin

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