[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1

biblical hebrew jcr.bhebrew at gmail.com
Mon Oct 15 04:38:32 EDT 2007

Hi Jim,

this is an interesting discussion you've aroused. Until now I've been a
passive bystander and listened to the arguments of both sides. Positive and
negative points worthy of consideration have been raised by both sides and
it has been interesting to listen in on. May I offer a few comments and
raise a few questions.

Firstly, I would like to say that the concerns raised with regard to
inseperable Hebrew constructions are valid concerns and any translation you
offer should be in harmony with them. At this point I would like to request
that you provide a colloquial English translation of what you are proposing
as the punctuation scheme you seem to be offering does nothing, in my mind,
to illuminate new meaning to the verse but does everything to completely
obscure any sensical meaning from it.

I understand your argument about 'to the South' versus 'to the Negeb
(desert)' and agree that you have a valid point worth considering, however,
your arguments based on where a nomad would go to have a child are, as
previously observed, meaningless and hardly worth considering.

Regards confusion over spelling of place names I would like to grant your
theory the benefit of the doubt as there are many multi lingual forces at
play with such things as ANE place names and so won't raise any serious
objections to these suggestions.

What is of greatest interest to this discussion is evidence you have offered
from the Armana letters regarding the situation with Abimelech. Could you
provide specific quotes from these letters regarding the hebrews and the
philistines and Abimelech? It would enrich the discussion no end to have
something concrete to look at. The reason I ask is that I am wondering if
there was any confusion between the Hebrews and the Philistines from
Abimelech's point of view. When the same story is told from different
viewpoints there are generally typical differences between the two accounts
as any experienced policeman will be glad to relate to you.

Finally, a polite request. Could you please separate your paragraphs with
empty lines and in some way signify where your quotation of another list
member ends (preferably also with a line space and some sort of indication
of where your comments start)? Some list members adopt the unofficial
protocol of initialising where their comments begin so that it is clear who
is talking. It would make your sizeable posts more readable if there were
some visual layout to them so that readers already familiar with the context
of points raised by other list members you quote can skip to the beef - that
is to say, your response to the points you are quoting. Also separating your
paragraphs with empty lines, for me, would make it more digestible to read
your long posts as when you can see one small paragraph at a time it makes
it less daunting to read in the brief spare moments our busy lives allow us
to have.

Thanks in advance. Great discussion!


James Christian Read - BSc Computer Science

http://www.lamie.org/hebrew       Thesis 1 - Aleppo codex machine translation
http://www.lamie.org/lad-sim.doc  Thesis 2 - language acquisition simulation


On 10/14/07, JimStinehart at aol.com <JimStinehart at aol.com> wrote:
> Oun Kwon:
> You wrote:  "A  question:  you place Gerar in southern Lebanon?  What
> about
> these texts:  Gen 10:19  'And the territory of  the Canaanites extended
> from
> Sidon in the direction of Gerar as far as Gaza, 2Ch  14:12  So the LORD
> defeated
> the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and  the Ethiopians fled.  2Ch
> 14:13  Asa and the people who were with him pursued them as far as
> Gerar,  and
> the Ethiopians fell until none remained alive, for they were broken before
> the LORD and his army. The men of Judah carried away very much
> spoil.'  Does not
> this Gerar sound like to be  located further south of Gaza?"
> With the exception of the Patriarchal narratives, which begin at
> Genesis  11:
> 26 with the first mention of Abraham (and do not include any material that
> appears earlier in the Book of Genesis), I agree with today's secular
> scholars
> that the rest of the Hebrew Bible was composed in the mid-1st millennium
> BCE.  This includes the Bible  passages that you cite.  That means  that
> the
> authors of those Bible passages had never heard of historical Garu,  which
> had
> disappeared 700 years earlier (after the 14th century  BCE).  To those
> authors, "
> Gerar" was  like "Qadesh" and "S(h)ur" as sites in the Sinai Desert, and
> like "Sodom" and  "Gomorrah".  No one in the  1st millennium BCE had any
> knowledge of such names relating to  secular history, but rather only knew
> such
> names from the Patriarchal  narratives.  Thus on my view, we  cannot look
> outside
> of the Patriarchal narratives in the Bible for accurate  information about
> the
> secular history of the mid-2nd millennium BCE,  or, for that matter, for
> an
> historically accurate interpretation of the  Patriarchal narratives.
> If the Patriarchal narratives are reflecting accurate information
> from  the
> well-documented secular history of the mid-14th century BCE  (which is my
> controversial view of the case), the Patriarchal narratives will  contain
> detailed,
> specific information about that time period that was unknown  to any human
> being in the mid-1st millennium BCE, but which we today  can verify based
> on
> historical sources, such as the Amarna Letters.  Thus regarding Genesis
> 20: 1,
> just look  at what the author of the Patriarchal narratives knew, and that
> no
> human being  in the mid-1st millennium BE could possibly have known:
>     1.  A west Semitic-speaking Amorite princeling ruler  in southern
> Lebanon
> in mid-14th century BCE was named Abimilki  (Biblical "Abimelech").
>     1.  This ruler's city-state was named Sur (Biblical  shin/sin-vav-resh
> at
> Genesis 20: 1).
>     1.  Sur is located on the western edge of a  vaguely-defined region
> (which included the area immediately east of the Sea of  Galilee) that in
> the
> mid-14th century BCE was called Garu (Biblical  "Gerar" in chapters 20, 21
> and 26
> of Genesis;  other parts of the Bible do not know  historical Garu).
>     1.  Abimilki/Abimelech has hired a small number of  foreign
> mercenaries ("
> Invaders"/"Philistines") to try to assure his access to  the invaluable
> water wells on the mainland of southern Lebanon immediately  northeast of
> the tiny
> island of Sur.   (These are the "Philistines" referenced in chapters 21
> and
> 26 of  Genesis, who have nothing to do with the later classic Philistines.
> The classic Philistines are  inseparable from their 5 great cities on the
> southwest coast of Canaan, none  of which cities is ever mentioned, even
> in passing,
> in the Patriarchal  narratives.  The author of the  Patriarchal narratives
> knew nothing of the classic Philistines, who were not  in existence yet at
> the
> time of the composition of the truly ancient  Patriarchal narratives.)
>     1.  But now rival princelings have hired their own  foreign
> mercenaries ("
> Invaders"/"Philistines"), who often succeed in denying  princeling
> Abimilki/Abimelech access to the much-needed water wells on the  mainland
> of southern
> Lebanon.   Genesis 26: 15, 18
>     1.  Tent-dwelling habiru (Biblical "Hebrews") are  present at Sur, and
> are an ambiguous factor in this volatile mix.  Abimilki/Abimelech is
> nervous
> about  the habiru (Hebrews), yet Abimilki's/Abimelech's real problem is
> with
> the  rival princelings, and the foreign mercenaries
> ("Invaders"/"Philistines")
> that  the rival princelings have hired to deny Abimilki/Abimelech access
> to
> the  much-needed water wells.
> No human being in the mid-1st millennium BCE could possibly  have known
> all
> those specific, detailed secular historical facts from the  mid-14th
> century
> BCE.  All those facts are in the Patriarchal narratives, in chapters 20,
> 21 and
> 26 of Genesis, and all those facts are fully documented in the Amarna
> Letters.
> The Patriarchal narratives cannot be mid-1st millennium BCE  fiction,
> because
> they track the well-documented secular history of the  mid-14th century
> far too closely for that.  The fact that the rest of the Bible
> is  confused as
> to where "Gerar" was located, as reflected in your post, does
> not  undercut
> the pinpoint secular historical accuracy of the Patriarchal narratives  on
> this
> and so many other matters from the mid-14th century  BCE.
> If we translate Genesis 20: 1 accurately, we come to see that this
> key  Bible
> verse accurately reflects a detailed knowledge of the well-documented
> secular history of the mid-14th century BCE.  The key, you see, is how one
> translates  and understands the Hebrew text of Genesis 20: 1.
> There's really not much dispute as to what happened in secular history
> regarding Abimilki of Sur.  Rather,  the key, somewhat surprisingly, is
> how people
> on this b-Hebrew list decide to  translate and understand the Hebrew text
> of
> Genesis 20: 1.
> Whether the Patriarchal narratives are mid-1st millennium BCE  fiction or,
> on
> the contrary, are closely based on mid-2nd millennium  BCE historical
> fact,
> depends primarily on how the experts on this b-Hebrew list  decide to
> translate, and understand, Genesis 20: 1.  The problem lies not with the
> secular
> history or with the Hebrew text.  The Hebrew text of Genesis 20: 1 is
> perfect as
> is.  Rather, as I see it, the problem lies  exclusively with the
> traditional
> translation and understanding of Genesis 20:  1.
> I can understand why the remaining Hebrews after 701 BCE
> reinterpreted  the
> truly ancient Patriarchal narratives from a southern Hebrew
> perspective,  which
> neatly cut Lebanon out of the picture.  It is no surprise that such
> southern
> Hebrew bias has continued throughout the common era, and is embraced by
> virtually all secular scholars today, including, but by no means limited
> to,
> Biblical Minimalists and staunch atheists.  But what I am asking people on
> this
> b-Hebrew list to do is to look at  Genesis 20: 1 anew, with new eyes, and
> see if
> a slightly-disguised reference to  southern Lebanon may be discerned
> there.
> If so, then the Patriarchal narratives are not mid-1st  millennium BCE
> fiction, but rather are very closely based on mid-14th  century BCE
> secular
> historical fact.  It's the translation and understanding of the Hebrew
> text that will
> determine whether the Patriarchal narratives are largely factual or are
> completely fictional.  There's  nothing wrong with the text.  The  Hebrew
> text is
> perfect as is.  In my  view, it's the perennial misunderstanding of that
> text
> that is standing in our  way.
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
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