[b-hebrew] Genesis 12: 5: RK$

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Wed Nov 14 11:19:33 EST 2007


I would include in REKU$ cattle, goats, tents, indentured servants,  
garments, jewelry, gold and silver, and the basic household articles  
and implements.

I am sure that the invading armies mercilessly and methodically  
picked Sdom and (amorah to their bare stones.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Nov 14, 2007, at 10:22 AM, JimStinehart at aol.com wrote:

> 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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