[b-hebrew] Genesis 15: 13, 16

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Sat Nov 10 22:45:05 EST 2007


Rev. Bryant J. Williams  III: 
    1.  My guess is that you may be reacting to a post I  addressed to 
Yitzhak Sapir.  I  only mention that because in that post, I was not saying what 
your view was, I  was saying what Yitzhak Sapir’s view is.
In fact, both of you take the same view, which is not only the  traditional 
religious view, but is also, strangely, the view of every academic  secular 
scholar I have seen.  All of  you insist on reading Genesis 15: 13, 16 from the 
perspective of the Book of  Exodus.  But the Patriarchal  narratives were 
composed long before the Book of Exodus.  The author of the Patriarchal narratives  
likes Egypt a great deal.  If you  doubt that, just look at the first half of 
chapter 50 of Genesis, where Pharaoh  is portrayed as sending all his top 
officials to Canaan for Jacob’s  funeral.  Genesis 15: 13, 16 does  not predict 
400 years of enslavement of the Hebrews in Egypt.  That is in the Book of 
Exodus, not in  the Patriarchal narratives.  Most of  the Bible is negative toward 
Egypt, but not the Patriarchal narratives.  That’s because the Patriarchal  
narratives were composed before Egypt did anything bad to the  Hebrews. 
I was trying to challenge Yitzhak Sapir to look at Genesis 15: 13, 16  with 
new eyes, on the text’s own terms.  When Genesis 15: 13, 16 was composed, the 
Book of Exodus did not exist  yet.  If we would look at Genesis  15: 13, 16 on 
its own terms, we would see how historically accurate it is.  I myself do not 
think it is fair to  attribute to the author of the Patriarchal narratives the 
things that are said  in the Book of Exodus. 
    1.  You wrote:  “I look at the Patriarchal  narratives as giving good 
history of the period of the beginnings of the  Hebrew people.”
We agree on that. 
    1.  You wrote:  “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.”
The first mention of Israelites in secular history is the Merneptah Stele  of 
1207 BCE.  Since the Hebrews were  a big enough tribe at the end of the 13th 
century BCE to attract the  attention of a conquering Egyptian pharaoh, that 
suggests that the first Hebrews  lived in the mid-14th century BCE.  There’s 
nothing in the secular record to  support an earlier date for the first Hebrews. 
    1.  You wrote:   “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.”
(a)    The  Amarna Letters from the mid-14th century BCE are replete with  
references to four attacking rulers demolishing a league of five princelings in  
greater Canaan.  That’s the “four  kings against the five” referenced at 
Genesis 14: 9.  What has confused everyone is that all  four names of the four 
attacking rulers, and all four names of their homelands,  are nicknames, rather 
than their formal names.  For example, “Amraphel” starts with AMR,  
referencing Amurru.  That’s  historical Aziru, the iniquitous Amorite of Amurru.  All 
four attacking rulers are like  that.  Every name is an appropriate  nickname. 
(b)  The English word “plain”  is a terrible translation for KKR/”kikkar”.  
The kikkar of the Jordan is the Jordan  River Valley.  The English word  “
plain” erroneously suggests a high area with little vegetation, which is the  
exact opposite of the Jordan River Valley.  The Hebrew text is perfect, but that 
English translation is terribly  misleading. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois

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