[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 
land…." 
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 
stool". 
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. 
Jim  Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois



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