[b-hebrew] Where Is Jacob's Ladder?
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Nov 9 09:57:52 EST 2007
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
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
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.
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