[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Sun Oct 14 09:18:22 EDT 2007
Yitzhak Sapir :
1. You wrote: “Genesis 26 speaks of a special blessing of God to
So this is your view of this section of the Patriarchal narratives. Isaac
faces a terrible drought/famine in Hebron. So Isaac moves to the Negev
Desert (!?!?!). While in the Negev Desert, Isaac becomes incredibly wealthy by
growing crops in the Negev Desert (!?!?!). This sequence of events is easily
explained as follows: “Genesis 26 speaks of a special blessing of God to Isaac.
If that is what the Hebrew text of the Patriarchal narratives is saying (not
my view, by a long shot), that would sure sound like a ‘fairy tale’ to me.
1. You wrote: “ But look at the way the shepherds fight over water in
Gen 26:20. It doesn't seem like there's plenty of water.”
That’s exactly what was going on at Sur! Princeling Abimilki (Biblical
"Abimelech") is trying to use foreign mercenaries (“Philistines”) to obtain
access to the invaluable water wells on the mainland of Lebanon, with Sur being a
tiny island off the coast of southern Lebanon. Although at Genesis 26: 20 it’
s shepherds contending over those valuable water wells, how can you ignore
Genesis 26: 15, 18, where it’s not only shepherds, but also professional
foreign mercenaries/”Philistines” who are involved in this deadly serious
“Now all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of
Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with
earth. …And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the
days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the
death of Abraham….” Genesis 26: 15, 18
That’s Sur! We’ve got 8 Amarna Letters on this very subject. And the
princeling’s name is “Abimilki”. And the tent-dwelling habiru (Biblical “
Hebrews”) are there, in an ambiguous role. There were no classic Philistines or
foreign mercenaries (such as the Sherden) in the Negev Desert. But southern
Lebanon was rife with all manner of foreign mercenaries in the time period of
the first Hebrews.
Crops could be grown on the mainland of southern Lebanon, much better than
in the Negev Desert. Only in southern Lebanon did you have this very peculiar
phenomenon of a very rich island city-state, Sur, that was utterly dependent
for its water supply on water wells on the mainland, which water wells could
relatively easily be sabotaged by rival princelings, and by foreign
mercenaries (“Invaders”/“Philisitnes”) hired by those foreign mercenaries. And this
was all happening on the western edge of historical Garu (Biblical “Gerar”
1. On my view, it all makes historical sense. As to what S-type sound
is used at the beginning of the name “Sur”/"Tyre”, that certainly cannot be
definitive, given the incredible diversity of the spelling of foreign place
names in the ancient world. (Even the name “Hezekiah” is spelled three
different ways in the Bible, isn’t it? That name does not even always start with
the same letter, does it?)
The traditional view, which you are following, is to dismiss all analysis
with a wave of the hand: “Genesis 26 speaks of a special blessing of God to
Isaac.” No, chapter 26 of Genesis speaks of a heart-rending decision Isaac
must make. Should Isaac give up on being independent and go to Egypt in the
face of a drought/famine in Hebron? Or should Isaac risk the horrible politics
of southern Lebanon, complete with dueling foreign mercenaries, in order to
ride out the drought/famine by staying in Canaan?
There’s no way that Isaac could get rich growing crops in the Negev Desert.
As I see it, at Genesis 20: 1 “the land of the south” and “between Qadesh
and S(h)ur” are a slightly disguised reference to the southern region of the
area between the Lebanese city-states of Qadesh and Sur, and “Gerar” is
historical Garu. Then everything makes historical sense. Abraham goes to Sur to
have the baby, and Isaac returns to Sur when drought/famine hits Hebron in
Isaac’s generation. It all makes perfect sense.
Otherwise, there’s no sense or historicity in the Patriarchal narratives at
all, which are just one case after another of God giving special blessings to
the Patriarchs. I myself see the Patriarchal narratives as being, on the
contrary, very closely based on the well-documented secular history of the
mid-14th century BCE, the time period of the first Hebrews. There are so many
stunning matches, it cannot all be a mere “coincidence”.
But until I can convince you to look at Genesis 20: 1 with new eyes, and see
possible, slightly-disguised references to southern Lebanon there, I guess
we will just have to agree to disagree.
But thanks so very much for your insights into the Hebrew language. All of
that is very greatly appreciated.
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