[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Oct 16 16:51:38 EDT 2007
You wrote: "I still think it utterly absurd that a Judean or Israelian
living in the pre-monarchical period would read Gen. 20:1 and lift his eyes
Can you explain your reasoning there?
1. Southern Lebanon is just as close to Hebron as the Sinai Desert is.
2. Southern Lebanon would be a much better place to go with 318 armed
retainers and a huge number of animals (Abraham's situation, as portrayed in the
Patriarchal narratives). There is not enough water in the Sinai Desert to
support such a huge entourage. We know from the Amarna Letters from Sur that
many tent-dwelling habiru lived in southern Lebanon in the time period of the
first Hebrews. There's nothing "utterly absurd" about my view at all.
3. Every human being in the Middle East in that time period had heard of
the world-famous Lebanese city-states of "Qadesh" and "Sur".
4. By stark contrast, no one has been able to verify the existence of the
name "Qadesh" or the name "Shur" as a site in the Sinai Desert in Biblical
5. In the pre-monarchical period, there was no southern Hebrew bias against
the northern Hebrews. There was no Jezebel to hate yet. There is no
reason for an early Hebrew to look at southern Lebanon with hatred. In that early
time period, there was no "Judean or Israelian", there were only the early
Hebrews. The states of Israel and Judah were long in the future at that early
point. Why hate southern Lebanon at that point in time?
An early Hebrew could hate northern Lebanon for selling out to the Hittites
in the mid-14th century BCE. But the people in southern Lebanon were,
relatively speaking, the "good guys" in this time period, from an early Hebrew
point of view. Some Gentiles had to hold the line against the dreaded Hittites.
That unpleasant but vital task fell to southern Lebanon.
6. The phrase "settled between Qadesh and S(h)ur" at Genesis 20: 1 cannot
help but conjure up an image of Lebanon, given the fact that every human being
in the Middle East in that time period knew both Qadesh and Sur as
world-famous Lebanese city-states.
7. Why would a Hebrew audience hearing Genesis 20: 1 from the Patriarchal
narratives think exclusively of the desolate Sinai Desert, and never give even
one moment's thought to the world-famous city-states of Qadesh and Sur in
Lebanon? You would agree, wouldn't you, that the author of the Patriarchal
narratives himself was perfectly well aware of the existence of Qadesh and Sur
as famous Lebanese city-states? Wouldn't it be more magisterial for Abraham
to be an important factor in southern Lebanon, and to sign a peace treaty with
an important princeling ruler in wealthy southern Lebanon (historical
Abimilki, Biblical "Abimelech"), rather than Abraham wandering aimlessly for years
between the truly desolate Sinai Desert and the ultra-modest Negev Desert?
I honestly do not understand why you consider my view to be "utterly
My view is based on well-documented secular history, and a close reading of
the Hebrew text. How can that be "utterly absurd"?
There was no hatred of southern Lebanon or of the northern Hebrews by the
early Hebrews, so why wouldn't an early Hebrew audience look to Lebanon when it
heard the phrase "and he settled between Qadesh and S(h)ur"? Why is that an
"utterly absurd" view of the case?
In the Patriarchal Narratives, Does the Promised Land Include Northern
Furthermore, if neither Abraham nor Isaac ever stepped foot north of
Bethel/Ai after Abraham returned from Egypt, on what basis then do you see the
Patriarchal narratives as divinely vouchsafing all of Canaan, rather than merely
Judah in southern Canaan, to the Hebrews?
Abraham receives no divine promise of any Promised Land until Abraham is at
Shechem. Genesis 12: 6-7 When Abraham is north of Shechem, prior to Genesis
12: 6, no divine promises of the Promised Land are forthcoming.
The key to the geographical extent of the Promised Land in the Patriarchal
narratives lies with Isaac. If and only if Isaac went to southern Lebanon does
Isaac (and by extension the Patriarchs) receive a divine grant of all of
Canaan, not just the southern 40% of Canaan:
"Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar[, because YHWH
had said to Isaac:] …'Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and
will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these
lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father; and I
will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed
all these lands; and by thy seed shall all the nations of the earth bless
themselves'." Genesis 26: 1, 3-4
If Biblical "Gerar" is historical Garu, and extends all the way to the coast
of southern Lebanon, then as of the mid-14th century BCE, the first Hebrews
are claiming that YHWH has vouchsafed all of Canaan, not just Judah, to the
Hebrews. But if Gerar is south of Hebron, in the Negev Desert, then I see no
claim being made in the Patriarchal narratives that the Promised Land
extends north of Shechem. What happened to the northern 60% of Canaan?
Although Jacob/"Israel" often operates in the north, the geographical extent
of the Promised Land guaranteed to Jacob/"Israel" seems strictly limited to
what YHWH had previously promised to Abraham and Isaac:
"'and the land which I gave unto Abraham and Isaac, to thee [Jacob/"Israel"]
I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.'" Genesis
No matter how much you yourself may hate Jezebel from southern Lebanon, the
fact of the matter is that on my view, the author of the Patriarchal
narratives lived 500 years before the days of Jezebel. The author of the Patriarchal
narratives likes southern Lebanon. The author of the Patriarchal narratives
loves Egypt! (Egypt hadn't done anything bad to the early Hebrews yet,
though that situation wouldn't last long.) Indeed, believe it or not, the author
of the Patriarchal narratives even kind of likes Assyria!! All of those
views are impossible for southern Hebrews living in the mid-1st millennium BCE,
but they're writ large in the Patriarchal narratives. You see, the
Patriarchal narratives were composed before southern Lebanon, Egypt, or Assyria did
anything bad to the early Hebrews.
The Patriarchal narratives are really, really old. Much older than the rest
of the Hebrew Bible.
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