[b-hebrew] Genesis 12: 5: RK$
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Nov 14 10:22:38 EST 2007
1. Isaac Fried wrote: "I would translate RKU$ of Genesis 12:5 as
'assembled possessions', or 'mobile property' [German: Möbel, Moebel], or
'transportable possessions'. In particular, the word does not appear to refer to owned
Yes, all the sources agree with that, as far as it goes. But BDB goes on to
say regarding the meaning of RK$: "esp. as booty Gn 14: 11,12,16,16,21".
That is the specific question we need to investigate here. Does RK$ (the
'defective' spelling of this word that is used at Genesis 12: 5 and in chapter
14 of Genesis) imply "luxury goods"? Booty, by its very nature, consists
primarily of luxury goods.
2. Isaac Fried wrote: "'luxury commercial goods [a pillow and a stool?]'
is an added
flourish of the imagination."
In response, I would say that RK$ certainly does not mean "a pillow and a
stool" in chapter 14 of Genesis.
"And they [the four attacking rulers] took all the goods [RK$] of Sodom and
Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way." Genesis 14: 11
The four attacking rulers would not take "a pillow and a stool". Rather,
the looting done by the four attacking rulers would be of luxury goods.
Attacking rulers need to eat in the conquered territory. So it is not
surprising that they would take provisions/"victuals", which they would quickly
consume. But as to non-edible goods, the attacking rulers would take
primarily only valuable luxury goods, not pillows and stools, on their way back home.
"And the king of Sodom said unto Abram: 'Give me the persons, and take the
goods [RK$] to thyself.'" Genesis 14: 21
Here, the king of Sodom offers Abraham a share of the booty, that is, a
share of the valuable luxury goods that formerly had been stolen by the four
attacking rulers. The king of Sodom is not offering Abraham "a pillow and a
3. The key question, then, is whether RK$ at Genesis 12: 5 has a similar
meaning to RK$ the five times that word is used in chapter 14 of Genesis.
Abraham and Lot may have brought pillows and stools from Harran into Canaan. But
the critical question is whether Abraham and Lot also brought luxury
commercial goods into Canaan, which they had bought in Mesopotamia for the precise
purpose of selling such luxury goods in Egypt.
Since RK$ means "luxury goods" in chapter 14 of Genesis, why wouldn't we
then expect that the RK$ that Abraham and Lot bring into Canaan at Genesis 12: 5
may well include a substantial amount of luxury goods?
4. I own most of the book-length studies of Genesis that secular scholars
at leading universities have published. Not a single such book that I have
seen asks the question of what the RK$ was that Abraham and Lot brought into
Canaan from Harran at Genesis 12: 5. Why does no one appear to have any
curiosity about this critically important question?
5. Most analyses say that the reason why Abraham had silver and gold when
he got back to Canaan after leaving Egypt was because of the ravishing beauty
of his wife Sarah, age 65. Why doesn't anyone ask whether the RK$ that
Abraham and Lot are stated at Genesis 12: 5 to bring with them from Harran may
instead have been the real source of the silver and gold that Abraham has coming
out of Egypt? Sarah's beauty was probably a factor in Pharaoh's decision to
have his royal buyers purchase Abraham's luxury commercial goods at a high
price. In that sense, Pharaoh "dealt well with Abram for her sake…." Genesis
12: 16 Yet the real source of Abraham's silver and gold, in my view, is the
RK$/luxury commercial goods that Abraham had recently bought in Mesopotamia
on a one-time caravan trip there, for the express purpose of selling such
luxury goods in Egypt. Sarah's beauty probably helped Abraham sell those
valuable luxury goods in Egypt. But as I see it, it was the valuable luxury goods,
not some deception regarding the marital status of beautiful Sarah, that was
the fundamental basis for Abraham coming out of Egypt with silver and gold.
6. Does it make sense for Abraham to get rich in Egypt based solely on the
ravishing beauty of his wife Sarah, age 65? That seems neither logical nor
historical to me. And what theological point would that be making? Did YHWH
choose Abraham because Abraham happened to have a wife, age 65, who was a
ravishing beauty? Is that a sensible analysis of this text? Should we not
explore any other possible lines of analysis?
7. Why does no one ever seem to ask whether the RK$ that Abraham and Lot are
said to bring with them from Harran at Genesis 12: 5 is the real source of
the silver and gold that Abraham has upon returning to Canaan from Egypt?
Does everyone accept, without question, the basic analysis of Isaac Fried that
all that Abraham and Lot brought with them out of Harran were simple things of
little economic value, such as "a pillow and a stool"? Why doesn't anyone
challenge that peculiar notion?
What am I missing here? Why do I seem to be the only one who wants to
investigate the possibility that Abraham and Lot may have brought luxury
commercial goods out of Harran with them from a one-time caravan trip to Mesopotamia
and, as planned, then sold such luxury goods in Egypt for a fortune? Why does
virtually everyone, including university scholars so far as I can tell by
their published works, see Sarah, age 65, as being such a ravishing beauty that
she is the sole source of Abraham's possession of silver and gold coming out
of Canaan? I myself see the RK$ at Genesis 12: 5 as being luxury goods,
having the same meaning as RK$ does in chapter 14 of Genesis. On that analysis,
the primary source of Abraham's silver and gold in Canaan is the RK$ that
Abraham bought as luxury commercial goods on a one-time caravan trip way out to
Mesopotamia and sold in Egypt, not the ravishing beauty of Abraham's
long-barren wife, Sarah, age 65.
How one interprets the Biblical Hebrew word RK$ at Genesis 12: 5 (and in
chapter 14 of Genesis) is of critical importance in understanding the
Patriarchal narratives. If RK$ at Genesis 12: 5 is referring primarily to luxury
commercial goods (my controversial view), then the opening chapters of the
Patriarchal narratives make perfect sense in the secular historical context. But if
Isaac Fried is right that Abraham and Lot brought only mundane items like "a
pillow and a stool" from Harran to Canaan (which would appear to be the
prevailing view of university scholars, although they do not directly address this
subject), then it is hard to make any historical sense at all out of the
first three chapters of the Patriarchal narratives. Everything is riding on
how we understand the Biblical Hebrew word RK$ at Genesis 12: 5.
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