[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Oct 16 16:51:38 EDT 2007

Tory  Thorpe: 
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 
toward Lebanon." 
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 
35:  12 
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. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois

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