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

dwashbur at nyx.net dwashbur at nyx.net
Fri Nov 9 12:56:42 EST 2007

On 9 Nov 2007 at 1:25, K Randolph wrote:

> Yigal:
> On 11/8/07, Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il> wrote:
> >
> > 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. ....
> >
> While I have no problem with Bethel, the story in Genesis 28 happened
> well before Abraham's sons died, possibly before they wrote about
> Abraham's life (assuming the "toldot" referred to "biography" (or
> something like it), but does the toponym "Dan" refer to the same
> place? I don't think so.
> First of all, "Dan" was not an unusual name in the ANE. Over the
> years, I have  read of different places in Semitic speaking areas that
> were named "Dan".
> Secondly, the impression I get in Genesis 14 is that Abraham pursued
> the kings along the main highway heading north from Sodom, while Laish
> was described as an out of the way place in Judges.
> Thirdly, there is the time element: if Genesis was written well before
> the events in Judges, there is no way that the same place was referred
> to in both books. Of course, that is taken as evidence by some people
> that Genesis was "pious fraud" in that it claimed earlier authorship
> than it actually had.
> My conclusion is that there were two different places that were named
> "Dan" and mentioned in Tanakh, The former place was heading north up
> the Jordan River, the later place in northern highlands. The former
> forgotten, maybe because the latter was more important to Israel.

I played with this idea some several years ago.  Another possibility, without the "pious fraud" 
aspect, is that the name was edited later by someone who realized nobody knew where 
Laish was any more.  I can go either way.

Dave Washburn
Why do it right when you can do it again?

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