[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Oct 15 17:50:11 EDT 2007
You wrote: "There need be no mention of Gaza in Genesis for it to have
before Genesis was composed, or for it to have existed in the time
Abraham is believed to have lived. The city evidently predates the
Amarna age and the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III. So the non-mention
in Genesis is for you merely an argumentum ex silentio."
I agree completely that Gaza was in existence, and was very well known,
during the Patriarchal Age. But that just means that the fact that Gaza is not
mentioned in the Patriarchal narratives is extremely important.
2. Qadesh and Shur
You wrote: "The same is true in the secular material for the Qadesh and
Shur located south of Hebron and Beer-Sheba."
I disagree with that assertion completely. As far as I know, there is no
secular historical evidence for a Qadesh or a Shur being in or near the Sinai
Desert in Biblical times. That is completely different from (i) Gaza, a
well-known historical city just northeast of the Sinai Desert, and (ii) the
Lebanese city-states of Qadesh and Sur, who were very famous during the historical
time period of the first Hebrews, and whose names are suspiciously similar to
the sites of Qadesh and Shur in the Sinai Desert that are mentioned in the
Bible but are not known outside of the Bible.
You wrote: "There is only one "biblical" city named Beer-Sheba attested in
biblical sources. …It is much simpler to see that Hagar's 'wilderness of
Sheba' (whatever the name of the place was at this moment) became
popular overnight once news spread that water was there. Abraham
later gave it the name Beer-Sheba which stuck, according to Genesis,
and the rest is Jewish history."
You say "later", but that is not what the text says. The transition from
Hagar's story to getting back to Abraham is introduced as follows: "And it
came to pass at that time,…." Genesis 21: 22 That logically means that at the
same time as YHWH was showing Hagar a pre-existing, functioning well at
Hagar's "Beersheba", Abraham was dealing with Abimelech and calling a well that
Abraham's men had dug "Beersheba", a well which Abimelech's men had violently
taken away from Abraham's men. It defies credulity that Abraham would exile
Hagar and Ishmael, and then Abraham would promptly follow in Hagar's
footsteps and go to the very place to which Hagar and Ishmael had been exiled.
Whereas Hagar's Beersheba is in the lonely wilderness, where both Hagar and
Ishmael are in grave danger of dying of thirst without a soul being around to
notice them, Abraham's Beersheba is the center of unbelievable hubbub, with all
sorts of various peoples everywhere one looks. "And it came to pass at that
time, that Abimelech and Phicol the captain of his host spoke unto Abraham,
saying: 'God is with thee in all that thou doest. … And Abraham reproved
Abimelech because of the well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently
taken away. … Wherefore that place was called Beer-sheba; because there they
swore both of them. So they made a covenant at Beer-sheba; and Abimelech
rose up, and Phicol the captain of his host, and they returned into the land of
the Philistines." Genesis 21: 22, 25, 31-32 All that activity and
commotion signify a very different geographical location than the deadly silence
and loneliness of Hagar's Beersheba.
You wrote: "Not everyone agrees that classic Philistines are being
the Patriarchal narratives. How about Proto-Philistines?"
That might address the problem of the classic Philistines being an
historical anachronism. But why would the leader of the proto-Philistines have the
purest west Semitic name on earth: "Abimelech"? Wouldn't a Hebrew author
portray the proto-Philistines as being foreigners to Canaan? And if the
Patriarchal narratives were composed after the classic Philistines had been deadly
rivals of the Hebrews for centuries (a view which is apparently unanimous among
secular scholars today, though it is not my view), why then would Abimelech
be portrayed as being so gallant? "And Abimelech said [to Abraham]:
'Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.' …And it came to
pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phicol the captain of his host spoke
unto Abraham, saying: 'God is with thee in all that thou doest.'" Genesis 20:
15; 21: 22
Abimelech, you see, is not a "Philistine" at all. Rather, Abimelech has
hired some foreign mercenaries to try to secure access to those all-important
water wells on the mainland. The author of the Patriarchal narratives
disparagingly refers to those foreign mercenaries as being "Invaders"/"Philistines".
The Hebrew author is trying to show some solidarity with Amorite princeling
ruler Abimelech, while subtly castigating the foreign
mercenaries/"Philistines" that Abimelech has hired. Only the head foreign mercenary, Phicol, has a
non-west Semitic name, befitting a Sherden foreign mercenary who is not a
west Semitic speaker. Note that all the facts in the received Hebrew text work
perfectly for viewing the "Philistines" as being foreign
mercenaries/"Invaders"/Sherden, who were important factors in Lebanon during the Patriarchal Age
of the mid-14th century BCE. These foreign mercenaries/"Philistines" have
no relationship whatsoever to the later classic Philistines, in my view.
There were no foreign mercenaries in either the Negev Desert or the Sinai
You wrote: "[T]here is certainly nothing in our text about
Abraham journeying to Ai where he then viewed the destruction of
Sodom from higher ground."
Au contraire, that is exactly what the text portrays. At Genesis 12: 8,
Bethel/Ai (just north of Jerusalem) is where Abraham first calls the name YHWH.
At Genesis 13: 2, those critical facts are repeated. Then at Genesis 13:
2-17, Abraham is at Bethel/Ai when he separates from Lot, and YHWH promises to
Abraham and his descendants all the land that can be seen from that
mountaintop at Bethel/Ai. Genesis 13: 14 Years later, after Abraham has been told
that Sodom will probably be destroyed by YHWH the next morning, Abraham goes
north from Hebron 27 miles to that same mountaintop at Bethel/Ai, in order to
witness the after-effects of the dramatic destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah:
"And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood
before the LORD [YHWH]. And he looked out toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward
all the land of the [kikkar/river valley/Jordan River Valley/"Plain"], and
beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the land went up as the smoke of a furnace."
Genesis 19: 27-28
The next time we hear about Abraham is when Genesis 20: 1 tells us that
Abraham departed "from there" and settled between Qadesh and S(h)ur.
Accordingly, the reference to "from there" at Genesis 20: 1 must be referring to
Bethel/Ai. Please note that the text does not state that Abraham returned south
from Bethel/Ai to Hebron. No, Abraham had already gone 27 miles north of Hebron
to Bethel/Ai. Presumably after waiting for the rest of his people and
animals to make it up to Bethel/Ai to join him, Abraham then leads his huge
entourage further north, to southern Lebanon, where Abraham settled between the
Lebanese city-states of Qadesh and Sur, in historical Garu (Biblical "Gerar").
Note how the entire text makes perfect sense on this view. The Hebrew text
is perfect, as is. The problem is our lack of understanding of what the
Hebrew text is actually saying. If one drops the millennia-long erroneous view
that the Patriarchal narratives were composed by a southern Hebrew from
Judah, who never would have considered portraying Isaac as being born in Sur on
the northern edge of, or just north of, Israel, then one can see what this text
is actually saying. There's nothing wrong with Isaac being born in Sur. Sur
was considered to be part of Canaan, as it was south of Sidon (south-central
Lebanon), which appears to have been the dividing line.
6. Secular History
In secular history, there is no "Qadesh", and there is no "Shur", as a site
in the Sinai Desert in Biblical times. In secular history, there is no
"Gerar" in the Negev Desert in Biblical times. But in secular history, in Lebanon,
we see "Qadesh", we see "Sur", and we see "Garu". Not only that, but in
secular history, during the time period of the first Hebrews, we also see in
Lebanon "Abimilki" as the princeling ruler of Sur, we see "habiru", and we see
Abimilki interacting in an awkward, ambiguous way with the habiru as he
desperately seeks to gain and maintain access to much-needed water wells. Can all
of that be but a bizarre "coincidence"?
Everything makes sense if Genesis 20: 1 is referring to southern Lebanon as
the place where Abraham and Sarah went to have the baby. The story is then
sensible, and it closely tracks many elements of the well-documented secular
history of the mid-14th century BCE, which is a likely time period for the
7. Genesis 20: 1
Why not give some consideration to a sensible, historical re-interpretation
of Genesis 20: 1? We know for sure that Qadesh and Sur were world-famous
Lebanese city-states during that time period. Why not then explore the
possibility that Genesis 20: 1 may be referencing those historical Lebanese
************************************** See what's new at http://www.aol.com
More information about the b-hebrew