[b-hebrew] Genesis 15: 13, 16 (was "Language, migration and Jewish identity")

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Sat Nov 10 21:02:50 EST 2007

Dear Jim,

I did not claim that the text in 15:13, 16 mentions Egypt; although it is clear
from the context of chapters 12-16 that that is what it is assuming.

You are reading into the text what is not there including the idea of 6-month
calendar instead of full years, that Lebanon is the base of operations for
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and a host of other items.

The Patriarchal narratives take place from ca. 2250- 1750 BC. (Abraham to
Joseph) +/- 50 years. You have not proven your case at all. Methinks thou
protesteth too much.

I look at the Patriarchal narratives as giving good history of the period of the
beginnings of the Hebrew people. I trace the story of Joseph to ca. 1875 BC and
the reign of Sesostris III. I find the Pharaoh who did not know Joseph to fit
the beginning of Hyksos Period (1750-1570 BC) very well. There is much that we
still do not know; and probably will never know due to various reasons among
which are destruction and time. Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of
absence, e.g. the list of kings mentioned in Genesis 14 who overthrew Sodom,
Gomorrah and the other cities of the plain.

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
----- Original Message ----- 
From: <JimStinehart at aol.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2007 5:16 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Genesis 15: 13, 16 (was "Language,migration and Jewish

> Yitzhak Sapir:
> You repeat the traditional view of Genesis 15: 13, 16, a view which is  the
> same as the view of academic secular scholars.  But have you ever considered
> that such  view is not supported by what the text actually says?  Let’s take a
> new look at Genesis 15: 13,  16.
> Here is the English Standard Version translation of Genesis 15: 13,  16:
> “Then the LORD [YHWH] said to Abram,  ‘Know for certain that your offspring
> will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there,
> and  they will be afflicted for four hundred years.  …And they shall come back
> here in the  fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet
> complete.’"
> 1.      Note  that there is no mention of Egypt regarding any period of
> enslavement.  The Patriarchal narratives never predict  that the Hebrews will
> enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, or anything remotely  like that.  Perhaps the
> Book of  Exodus says that, but there’s nothing like that in the Patriarchal
> narratives.
> 2.      The  reference to the early Hebrews being “sojourners in a land that
> is not theirs”  means that for the first 200 regular years of their existence,
> the early Hebrews  were living in Canaan, in tents, and not owning any land,
> like the Patriarchs  themselves.
> 3.      The  reference to the fact that the early Hebrews “will be servants
> there, and they  will be afflicted for four hundred years”, means that for 200
> regular years, the  Hebrews will not be landowners, but rather will be workers
> or “servants” in  Canaan.  They will be “afflicted” in  the same sense the
> Patriarchs were afflicted:  Abraham had to rescue his nephew Lot  from four
> attacking rulers, Isaac kept being pushed farther and father east of  Sur, and
> Jacob had to avoid having his family be absorbed by the men of  Shechem.  Such
> afflictions” could  not be avoided until such time, 200 regular years hence,
> when the early Hebrews  had become the dominant landowners of Canaan.
> Most of the  calendars from ancient Canaan had a New Year event in both the
> spring and the  fall:  the calendars of Ugarit, the  Gezer Calendar, and the
> Hebrew/Jewish calendar.  Accordingly, a 6-month “year” concept  was natural
> the Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives.  Sarah does not give birth
> to Isaac at  age 90 regular years.  Rather, Sarah  is age 90 “years”, in
> 6-month “years”, so she gives birth to Isaac at age 45  regular years.  That
was a
>  near-miracle in the ancient world, but not a biological  impossibility.
> 4.      The  reference to the fact that the early Hebrews “shall come back
> here [to Hebron]  in the fourth generation” means that Judah’s generation,
> after being in Egypt  for a fairly short time, will return to southeastern
> shortly after  Joseph’s death.  It will be another  generation or so, though,
> before the Hebrews are the dominant landowners in  Canaan.  The “fourth
> generation” is  Judah’s generation, following the three generations of
> Isaac and  Jacob.  All the rest of Joseph’s  predictions come true in the
> Patriarchal narratives, so why should we doubt  Joseph’s final prediction?
> “And  Joseph said unto his brethren:  'I  die;  but God will surely remember
> you, and bring you up out of this land unto the land which He swore to
> Abraham,  to Isaac, and to Jacob.'”  Genesis  50: 24
> 5.  The “iniquity of the  Amorites” is, as previously discussed, the fact
> that the Amorites in northern  Lebanon/Amurru and in Ugarit iniquitously sold
> out northernmost greater Canaan  to the dreaded Hittites in the mid-14th
> BCE.  The first Hebrews then had to resort to  living in tents, so they could
> move away from any part of Canaan where the  fearsome Hittites might decide
> to attack.  This lifestyle of living in tents went on for almost 200 years.
> But by the mid-12th century  BCE, the Hittites had disappeared, and Canaan was
> severely underpopulated.  That was when the Hebrews could finally,  at long
> last, establish settled, unwalled villages in the highlands of  southeastern
> Canaan, and become the dominant landowners  there.
> 6.      My interpretation of Genesis 15: 13, 16 is based on what the text
> actually says.  The text says  nothing about the Hebrews being enslaved in
> for 400 years.  My interpretation fits the  archaeological record perfectly.
> The early Hebrews were indeed “strangers in their own land” of Canaan for
> almost 200 years (400 “years”, in 6-month “years”), beginning in the  mid-14
> th century BCE.  Then in the mid-12th century BCE, the Hebrews became, for the
> first time, village dwellers in southeastern  Canaan.
> 7.  The pinpoint historical  accuracy of the Patriarchal narratives is
> breathtaking.  The analysis I have set forth above (i)  fits the text of
Genesis 15:
> 13, 16 perfectly, and (ii) fits the archaeological  record perfectly as well.
> I am defending the integrity, and historical accuracy, of the Patriarchal
> narratives.  I am saying nothing  about the Book of Exodus.  What I am
> rather, is that what the text of the Patriarchal narratives actually  says
> fits the secular history of the mid-14th century BCE  perfectly.
> Jim Stinehart
>                                                           Evanston, Illinois
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