[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1
Bryant J. Williams III
bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Thu Oct 11 01:16:25 EDT 2007
I would have check out Gesenius Hebrew Grammar, pp.248-254, paragraph 90. This
sections deals with "Real and Supposed Remains of Early Case-endings."
Sureq, in compound proper names
Hireq-yod, or Holem (Full), in contruct state.
Of particular interest is pp. 249-250, section2, C,
(a) Most commonly to express direction towards an object, or motion toward a
place. 'eReTZAH, means "to the earth." This is the accusatice ending. When used
with a place name that place name has the article followed by a Genitive of
definition, or ar proper names; hence, "to the land of the south," Gn 20:1 [
'eReTZAH HaNeGeB]; "to the land of Egypt, Exod 4:20 [ 'eReTZAH MiTZRaYiM];etc.
Since the locale, or place/proper name, in this instance, is referring to a
piece of "land" in the south, i.e. the Negev. Furthermore, since chapter 20 is
the lie of Abraham regarding Sarah to Abimelech, king of Gerar, it requires us
to understand that verse 1 is indicating a movement from a previous location to
another location. Abraham moved from Mamre [Hebron,18:1] to the Negev.
Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
----- Original Message -----
From: <JimStinehart at aol.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 2:31 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1
> Yitzhak Sapir:
> Thank you so much for your specific comments on the Hebrew wording of
> Genesis 20: 1.
> A. You wrote: "However -ah is a locative case in Hebrew. My general
> impression is that it is more often used with proper place names. Thus, the
> ?arcah would mean
> 'to the Land.'…?arcah hannegev is an indivisible construct chain that means
> 'Land of
> the Negev', most likely a proper name because it ('Land') takes the locative
> Based on my investigation, your analysis of that key phrase is not borne out
> by the received Hebrew text of the Patriarchal narratives. In the
> Patriarchal narratives (beginning with the first mention of Abraham at
Genesis 11: 26),
> the Hebrew letter combination aleph-resh-tsade-he appears 22 times in 21
> verses. These 21 verses are referenced below, along with the relevant
> of the JPS1917 translation. We see that in a clear majority of cases,
> aleph-resh-tsade-he is not used with a proper place name.
> 1. Genesis 11: 31 "to go into the land of Canaan"
> 2. Genesis 12: 5 (twice) "to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land
> of Canaan they came"
> 3. Genesis 19: 1 "he fell down on his face to the earth"
> 4. Genesis 20: 1 "Abraham journeyed from thence toward the land of the
> 5. Genesis 24: 52 "he bowed himself down to the earth"
> 6. Genesis 28: 12 "behold a ladder set up on the earth"
> 7. Genesis 29: 1 "and came to the land of the children of the east"
> 8. Genesis 31: 18 "to go…unto the land of Canaan"
> 9. Genesis 32: 4 "Jacob sent messengers…unto the land of Seir"
> 10. Genesis 33: 3 "bowed himself to the ground"
> 11. Genesis 37: 10 "to bow down to thee to the earth"
> 12. Genesis 38: 9 "he spilled it on the ground"
> 13. Genesis 42: 6 "bowed down to him with their faces to the earth"
> 14. Genesis 42: 29 "they came…unto the land of Canaan"
> 15. Genesis 43: 26 "bowed down to him to the earth"
> 16. Genesis 44: 11 "took down every man his sack to the ground"
> 17. Genesis 44: 14 "they fell before him on the ground"
> 18. Genesis 45: 17 "get you unto the land of Canaan"
> 19. Genesis 46: 28 "they came into the land of Goshen"
> 20. Genesis 48: 12 "he fell down on his face to the earth"
> 21. Genesis 50: 13 "his sons carried him into the land of Canaan"
> In the Patriarchal narratives, the Hebrew letter combination
> aleph-resh-tsade-he is most often used in the phrase "bowed down to the
earth". The other
> common use is "go into the land of Canaan". No one translates the second
> phrase "go into The Land of Canaan" or "go into the Land of Canaan". (Of
> course, no one would translate the first phrase as "to the Earth".)
> In Genesis 20: 1, "earth" or "ground" do not fit the context. In Genesis 20:
> 1, the English translation of aleph-resh-tsade-he should either be "to the
> land" or "to the region" (before we get to the issue of how to translate
> he-nun-gimel-bet in this connection), not "to the Land".
> B. Now consider what would result if, per your suggestion, one were to
> translate the first third of Genesis 20: 1 to say that "Abraham journeyed
> thence to the Land of the Negev". Or, more consistent with JPS1917's usage
> prepositions elsewhere, the translation would be: "Abraham journeyed from
> thence into the Land of the Negev". That rendering would contradict the
> immediately following phrase, which tells us "and he dwelt between Qadesh and
> S(h)ur". The Negev Desert is not located "between Qadesh and S(h)ur".
> Excluding Genesis 20: 1 for one moment, note that in all 10 of the other 10
> uses above of aleph-resh-tsade-he in the Patriarchal narratives in connection
> with a geographical location (Canaan, the land of the children of the east,
> Seir, and Goshen), the person goes "into" or "unto" or "to" that place, and
> then stays there, rather than immediately passing through there. Only at
> Genesis 20: 1 is it claimed that Abraham went aleph-resh-tsade-he -- to the
> in question -- but did not stay there, instead immediately passing through
> Negev Desert to settle in the Sinai Desert. That to me is "special
> pleading": translating Genesis 20: 1 differently than all other uses of
> aleph-resh-tsade-he in the Patriarchal narratives, for the purpose of trying
> that each of "the land of the South" and Gerar is located "between Qadesh and
> S(h)ur". Note how JPS1917 uniquely comes up with the word "toward" at
> 20: 1, a word never used in the other 21 occurrences of aleph-resh-tsade-he
> in its translation of the Patriarchal narratives. Why is everyone straining
> so mightily to make Genesis 20: 1 nonsensical?
> C. Both the place to which Abraham goes ("the land of the South" per JPS
> 1917), and the land where Abraham sojourns (Gerar), should logically be
> "between Qadesh and S(h)ur", which is the place where Abraham "dwelt" or, in
> translations, "settled", or else Genesis 20: 1 reads very awkwardly. On my
> view of the case, Genesis 20: 1 reads very naturally, as it conveys the
> following substantive content:
> (i) Abraham traveled to a locale that is located between Qadesh and Sur, in
> the southern part of that area (near Sur); and
> (ii) Abraham settled between Qadesh and Sur; and
> (iii) Abraham sojourned in the part of Gerar that is located between Qadesh
> and Sur.
> On my view, Abraham did all three of those things simultaneously, in the
> same southern Lebanon locale: Sur ("Tyre").
> I see Genesis 20: 1 as telling us that Abraham traveled from Bethel/Ai to
> the southern region between Qadesh and Sur (in southern Lebanon, near Sur),
> he settled there between Qadesh and Sur (near Sur), and he sojourned in a
> part of Gerar that is located between Qadesh and Sur. It all makes logical
> sense. Southern Lebanon was a logical place to go to have the baby. At the
> he left Hebron, Abraham knew that Sarah would be getting pregnant with Isaac
> about 30 days after they left Hebron. A desert environment like the Negev
> Desert, or even worse the Sinai Desert, would not be an appropriate place to
> go to have the baby. It would make no sense at all, given Sarah's impending
> pregnancy with Isaac, to first go to the Negev Desert, then go to the Sinai
> Desert and "settle" in the Sinai Desert, and than go all the way back to the
> Negev Desert, to a locale not near either Qadesh or S(h)ur. And how could all
> that traveling be completed before Sarah gets pregnant with Isaac? Sarah
> apparently does not get pregnant with Isaac (in chapter 21 of Genesis) until
> after Abraham and Sarah have interacted with Abimelech at Gerar (in chapter
> of Genesis), yet Genesis 20: 1 tells us that Abraham "settled between Qadesh
> and S(h)ur". I just do not see how your proposed translation of Genesis 20:
> can possibly make substantive sense (even though it is possible
> grammatically). Why would Genesis 20: 1 tell us that Abraham "settled
between Qadesh and
> S(h)ur", if in fact Abraham settled, less than 30 days after leaving Hebron,
> near the site of the modern Israeli city of Beersheba, nowhere near to
> either Qadesh or S(h)ur? How are you interpreting the middle third of
> 20: 1, which explicitly tells us that Abraham "settled between Qadesh and
> S(h)ur"? We should not ignore that portion of Genesis 20: 1, should we?
> As to whether "negev" may mean "dry land", I will show in a later post that
> all that jousting over water wells in chapters 21 and 26 of Genesis is
> historically documented at Sur in southern Lebanon in this time period. And
> involves "Philistines", as frequently referenced in chapters 21 and 26. As
> you probably know, the urban classic Philistines were never in the Negev
> Desert or the Sinai Desert (in addition to not yet being in existence in the
> Patriarchal Age), and "Gerar" is not associated with the classic Philistines
> are described, more or less accurately, in many other books of the Bible, so
> we should be able to figure out whether or not the classic Philistines are
> being referenced in the Patriarchal narratives). Historically, the
> activities described in chapters 21 and 26 took place only near Sur, in
> Lebanon, and only in the time period of the first Hebrews. We need (i)
> "Philistines" who are (ii) jousting over water wells, (iii) a leader named
> and (iv) interaction with tent-dwelling people (v) in the secular historical
> time period of the first Hebrews. The one and only place to get all that in
> secular history is Sur in the Patriarchal Age. There's nothing like that in
> the secular history of the Negev Desert or the Sinai Desert (regardless of
> how oddly people may choose to translate Genesis 20: 1, or how insistent
> people are in resolutely ignoring the part of Genesis 20: 1 that explicitly
> that Abraham "settled between Qadesh and S(h)ur").
> Genesis 20: 1 makes perfect historical sense, if we will only use a
> sensible, literal translation of that key verse. Abraham went straight to Sur
> southern Lebanon from Hebron, Sarah bore Isaac near Sur, and Isaac was raised
> near Sur. Only after the binding incident did the family leave Sur in
> Lebanon and return to Hebron. After returning to Canaan from Egypt, Abraham
> on my view never again lived or sojourned in either the Negev Desert or the
> Sinai Desert. (Why would an extremely wealthy man with 318 armed retainers
> [Genesis 13: 2; 14: 14] move into a desert? Why would his son Isaac later
> move into a desert when drought/famine hit Hebron? Does any of that make
> sense?) Nor did Abraham move around much either. Rather, Abraham is at
> then at Sur in southern Lebanon, and then back at Hebron, with there being
> little wandering involved during this very long period of time.
> It all makes perfect sense, once we accept the fact that, per Genesis 20: 1,
> Abraham "settled between Qadesh and Sur".
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
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