[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sat Oct 13 18:06:35 EDT 2007

On 10/12/07, Jim Stinehart wrote:

> Because Version #3 has this inherent major problem, and because the  original
> Hebrew text had neither punctuation nor capitalization, we should look  to
> see if there is an alternative meaning possible in Genesis 20: 1, if the
> punctuation and capitalization are changed.  Here is Version #2:
> Version #2 (alternative view) of Genesis 20: 1
> "And departed from there Abraham to the southland -- and he settled --
> between Qadesh and Sur and he sojourned in Gerar."
> On Version #2, Biblical "Gerar" is viewed as being  historical Garu, whose
> western border likely extended to the southern two-thirds  of the land between
> the Lebanese city-states of Qadesh and Sur.  On Version #2, Abraham is viewed
> as  going "to the land of the south…between Qadesh and Sur", which would
> include the  mainland of southern Lebanon immediately northeast of the tiny island
> of  Sur.  On Version #2, Abraham settles  on the mainland opposite Sur, which
> is 'between Qadesh and Sur".
> Thus as opposed to the terrible geographical problems inherent in the
> traditional Version #3 view of Genesis 20: 1, where Gerar is located far from  the
> Sinai Desert, in Version #3 all references are to but one place:  the mainland
> of southern Lebanon  immediately northeast of the tiny island of Sur.
> II.  Yigal Levin says nothing  about any possible grammatical problems with
> my proposed Version #2 translation  of Genesis 20: 1.

That doesn't mean there aren't any.  First, it is not true that Hebrew did not
have punctuation marks.  Dividers for words or sentences are known in
inscriptional evidence, and the Hebrew Bible's vocalization and cantillation
marks do have some relevance as far as punctuation.  Furthermore,
comparison with the Septuagint allows us to see how people who still spoke
Hebrew read the same Biblical words.  But the main problem with your
"version 2" is that you have this verb "and he settled" inside dashes.
Hebrew did not have this syntax, and the word "and" preceding a verb is used
to introduce a new sentence throughout the Bible.  There is no reason to
read it differently here.  Your supposed problems with the traditional
translation are also not convincing.

Yitzhak Sapir

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