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

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Nov 9 09:57:52 EST 2007

Yigal  Levin: 
1.  You wrote:  "I agree that the  story looks like it's talking about 
Jacob's first night 
of his  journey…." 
Thank you so very, very much for that.  That issue was the primary reason I  
started this thread.  I myself see  that as primarily being an issue of 
Biblical Hebrew grammar and word usage, and  as such as being a proper topic for 
this fine b-Hebrew list.  I am delighted that an expert in  Biblical Hebrew like 
you is reading Genesis 28: 10-11 the same way that I read  it. 
Based on the two fine posts by Dave Washburn  on this thread, it appears that 
the main basis for taking a contrary view would  be if one places reliance on 
the medieval Masoretic pointing system.  Since my entire theory of the case 
is  that the Patriarchal narratives are a truly ancient document, naturally I 
give  little credence to the medieval Masoretic pointing system in interpreting 
the  Patriarchal narratives. 
2.  If Jacob left Beersheba and got to the Jacob's Ladder locale the first  
evening of his trip, which is how both you and I read this text, then there is  
no way that Jacob could leave in mid-morning from Beersheba in the northern  
Negev Desert and make it to Abraham's Bethel/Ai, north of Jerusalem, by  
nightfall.  Bethel/Ai is 58 grueling  miles north of the Beersheba in the northern 
Negev Desert.  The story makes complete sense, however,  on my view.  Jacob's 
Beersheba is  located a few miles east of Sur ("Tyre") in southern Lebanon.  
Jacob's Bethel is Lus/Laish/Luz, a short  day's walk east of Sur.  The text  
keeps referring to "Luz", because Jacob's Bethel is at Lus/Laish/Luz, at the  
southwest foot of Mt. Lebanon, not at Ai, north of  Jerusalem. 
Here is your contrary analysis of that  critical issue of how long it took 
Jacob to get from Beersheba to  Bethel/Luz: 
"[T]he text does not actually say that it  was one day, so why is it 
important for you to know? …The text does not say how  long his journey to Haran was 
either.  The distances and times are not  important." 
Why do you say that "the distances and times  are not important"?  The Hebrew 
 author of the Patriarchal narratives knew Canaan like the back of his hand.  
He knew that you could not start out  from Beersheba in the northern Negev 
Desert in mid-morning and make it by  nightfall to Bethel/Ai, 58 grueling miles 
to the north.  Why would the author of the Patriarchal  narratives be saying 
something that his entire audience would know to be  false?  Isn't it more 
likely that  you are mistaken as to the locale of the "Beersheba" from whence 
Jacob starts  his trip, and as to the locale of the Bethel/Ai where Jacob has the 
profound  Jacob's Ladder experience?  I  categorically reject your assertion 
that "the distances and times are not  important" to the author of the 
Patriarchal  narratives. 
3.  Although you don't explicitly say so, I take it from your post that you  
view Abraham's Bethel/Ai and Jacob's Bethel/Luz as being at one and the same  
location.  You will have noted that  previously, I had erroneously attributed 
that view to Dave Washburn.  I sincerely apologize to Dave Washburn  for not 
realizing what his actual view on this subject was.  In fact, Dave Washburn and 
I agree on  this particular issue.  Here is how  Dave Washburn characterizes 
the idea that Abraham's Bethel/Ai and Jacob's  Bethel/Luz are one and the same 
"I  have never even hinted that it was the same place Abraham went, and I 
frankly  don't appreciate you putting such a cockamamey idea into my  mouth." 
Once again, I sincerely apologize for not knowing what Dave Washburn's  
actual view of this matter was.  But  please note that in fact we share the same 
view of this particular  matter. 
4.  I agree with the general  nature of Karl W. Randolph's comments that 
"Dan" is a common name in the ancient  near east, and cannot be relied upon, in 
isolation, for much of anything.  That is to say, certainly there were one  or 
more places called "Dan" before Jacob got married and sired a son called  Dan. 
5.  Finally,  you wrote:  "Absolutely  none of this has to do with 'multiple  
I disagree.  The standard academic analysis is that  (i) Abraham's Bethel/Ai 
and Jacob's Bethel/Luz are one and the same place, and  that (ii) the manifest 
outright contradictions inherent in taking that view  result from the fact 
that there are multiple authors of the Patriarchal  narratives. 
You state:  "The ancient reader would not have been  bothered by the fact 
that Beth-el had already been mentioned by name in chapter  12." 
I disagree.  How could Abraham have worshipped at  "Bethel", if that site was 
not named "Bethel" until Abraham's grandson Jacob  happened upon the same 
place over 100 years  later? 
Note that all such problems disappear  completely once it is recognized that 
Jacob's Bethel/Luz is at a completely  different geographical location than 
Abraham's  Bethel/Ai. 
Southern Lebanon was good to the Patriarchs,  no matter how evil Sur may have 
been in the days of Ezekiel.  Isaac gets rich growing crops in  southern 
Lebanon and selling them to Sur.  Jacob leaves Sur and makes it to Lus/Laish/Luz 
in one day, where he has  the Jacob's Ladder experience.  Southern Lebanon is 
part of the Promised Land, according to the  Patriarchal narratives.  It all  
makes complete sense;  distances and  times do count;  there was only one  
author of the Patriarchal narratives;  that author lived during the Patriarchal 
Age of the mid-14th  century BCE;  and that author knew  what he was talking 
about.  Yes, he  has used considerable artistic license to shape his material 
into a mesmerizing  storyline, I agree with that.  But  in my controversial view, 
it is all closely based on actual secular  history. 
Thanks again for your analysis of how to  read Genesis 28: 10-11.  Much 
appreciated, even if our views continue to  differ on other matters.  It is 
extremely important to start with knowing  what the Hebrew text actually says.  That 
is why I started this  thread.  

Jim  Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois

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