[b-hebrew] To Jim: Genesis 20: 1

Shoshanna Walker rosewalk at concentric.net
Wed Oct 17 21:33:50 EDT 2007

Correcting you:

There were four cities that were destroyed:  S'dom, Gemorra, Admah 
and Zeboim  (Deut.  29 verse 22) - Zoar, the fifth city, was not 
destroyed.  (Torah here in this verse says cities of the district 
were destroyed,despite what you say, Torah does not say only S'dom 
and Gemorra were destroyed, does not say which ones, it tells us 

"To the place where he had stood before Hashem"  does NOT say it was 
Beit-El - YOU may say it was, but the Torah does not.  First you have 
to explain what the Torah means when it says "to the place where he 
had stood before Hashem"  Radak explains this phrase to refer "to the 
place to which he had accompanied the angels", FOR IT WAS THERE THAT 
THE 'HAND OF HASHEM' had come to rest upon him" (See chapter 18, 
verse 16).  That place was, indeed, was a place from which he could 
see S'dom and Gemorra!  The Torah does not lie!

(Even if it was 27 miles north of Hebron, as you claim, and S'dom is 
not so many miles east of that, after all, I can tell you from 
eyewitness experience, living in Jerusalem in Abu Tor, that I COULD 
days that there was no haze in the way!  If I could see the water, 
certainly anyone could see smoke in the sky.  So you estimate that 
distance.  Maybe you all forget how small Israel really is....)

Lot's daughters are not criticized for what they did - they were 
righteous women whose actions were nobly motivated.  Thinking that 
the world had been destroyed with the destruction of S'dom, etc., and 
even that Zoar had been spared only because they were there, they 
felt that it was their responsibility to save the world by bearing 
children, even though the only male was their father.  The Torah does 
not label their actions as incestuous, because they sincerely thought 
there was no other way to ensure propagation of the species. 
(Because their intentions were pure, they merited that among their 
descendents would be Ruth, ancestress of David, and Naamah, queen of 
Solomon and mother of Rehoboam, his successor and next in line in the 
even though he was intoxicated the first night, he knew in the 
morning what had happened (see verse 37), but allowed himself to be 
intoxicated again, knowing full well what the result would be. 
Unlike his daughters, HE knew from the angels that the upheaval was 
to affect only a limited group of cities, not the whole world.  So 
yes, that would corroborate that Lot got a bad reputation.

The Philistines lived in Ashkelon, Ashdod and Gaza - not in southern 
Lebanon, and not in the Sinai Desert.

The Torah does not say here that Kadosh is Kadosh-Barnea, and it does 
not say that Shur is a desert.  So don't make things up.

I agree with you that the Torah has been misinerpreted, 
mistranslated, for millennia.

The commentators who I quoted - and all who study them - did/do not 
NEED the Amarna letters to understand the Torah, which IS Divinely 
authored (If you can claim that "the author of the Patriarchal 
narratives presents it as being all divinely  blessed." then I can 
also present my claim - WITHOUT GETTING MUSSAR or being accused of 
being racist!)


1.  You  wrote:  ’ÄúThe traditional views of  why Avraham left Hebron are very
Rashi explains:  ’ÄòWhen he  observed that the cities had been destroyed
and travelers ceased to pass to  and fro [and there were no wayfarers to whom
he might extend hospitality] he  went away from there’Äô [he moved to another
part of the  country].’Äù
That does not match what the text  says.
(a)    Only two cities  were destroyed:  Sodom and  Gomorrah.  Lot asked for
Zoar to be  spared, and it was.
(b)    Abraham goes way  up to Bethel/Ai, 27 miles north of Hebron, and sees
the after-effects of the  destruction of two cities in the distance.  Sodom
and Gomorrah are nowhere near Hebron.  I will quote the text and 
intersperse my
own comments in brackets.
’ÄúAnd Abraham got up early in the  morning to the place where he had stood
before the LORD [YHWH].  [That place is Bethel/Ai, 27 miles north  of Hebron.]
And he looked out  toward Sodom and Gomorrah [in the distance, even farther
away from Hebron], and  toward all the land of the Plain [i.e., the 
Jordan River
Valley], and beheld,  and, lo, the smoke of the land went up as the smoke of a
furnace.  [Abraham is seeing the smoke in the  distance.  The smoke is
nowhere near  Hebron.  The smoke cannot be seen at Hebron.  That is 
why Abraham went
 way up north to Bethel/Ai:  to be able to see the smoke.]  Genesis 19:
The destruction of far-off  Sodom and Gomorrah has no effect on Hebron
whatsoever.  There is no basis at all for the  assertion that 
’Äútravelers ceased to
pass to and  fro’Äù.  The people of Bethel and  Hebron were not evil, 
and did not
suffer on account of the sin of the people of  Sodom and Gomorrah.
    1.  You wrote:   ’ÄúAnother explanation for his move is that he wished to
himself from Lot, who had gained an evil reputation because of his
intimacy with his daughters".
(a)   Lot was located  nowhere near Hebron.  Genesis 13: 9  expressly states
that Abraham and Lot went in opposite directions from  Bethel/Ai.  Abraham
went 27 miles  south to Hebron, so Lot must have gone approximately 27 miles
(b)   Lot had no ’Äúevil  reputation because of his intimacy with his 
.  Even the much later book of Leviticus  would not have prohibited Lot from
having a son/grandson by his oldest remaining  daughter after Lot’Äôs 
wife died.
 Far  from condemning Lot’Äôs daughters for evil behavior, the author of the
Patriarchal  narratives praises Lot’Äôs daughters for bravely preserving human
’Äú'Come, let us make our father  drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we
may preserve seed of our  father.'’Äù  Genesis 19:  32
In the Patriarchal narratives, it is of paramount  importance for a man to
have a male descendant, to ’Äúpreserve the seed of our  father’Äù.
    1.  You  wrote:  ’ÄúSforno explains that Kadesh and Shur were very large
cities in the
Philistine part of C'naan, and Avraham chose to live there  because
the area was heavily populated and would provide him the  opportunity
to spread his belief in  G-d.’Äù
If Qadesh is not a Lebanese city-state, then it is Qadesh-barnea, a small
oasis on the eastern edge of the Sinai Desert.  If Shur is not a Lebanese
city-state,  then it is the Shur Desert on the western edge of the 
Sinai Desert.  If
these are sites in the Sinai Desert,  (i) they are certainly not ’Äúvery large
cities’Äù, and (ii) they have nothing  whatsoever to do with the Philistines,
because the Philistines never operated in  the Sinai Desert.  There is no way
that any part of the Sinai Desert was ever ’Äúheavily populated’Äù. 
There were so
few people living in the  desolate Sinai Desert that it would be the world’Äôs
worst place to go for ’Äúthe  opportunity to spread his belief in G-d’Äù.
As I have discussed at some length, it would make all the sense in the  world
for Abraham to go to Sur in southern Lebanon, which indeed (i) is a very
large city, and (ii) did have a lot of foreign 
mercenaries/’ÄùPhilistines’Äù.  The
Hebrew text is perfect as is.  It’Äôs just been misinterpreted for  millennia.
The Hebrew text fits the  historical time period perfectly, if it is
interpreted from an historical  perspective.  The commentators you 
are quoting did not
have the benefit of the Amarna Letters as we do, so they  could not have known
how accurately the Patriarchal narratives reflect the  secular history of the
mid-14th century BCE, which historically is  the time period of the first
    1.  You wrote:  ’ÄúRadak suggests that he settled in Philistia (no, not
Palestine) to
establish his presence - and thus the future claim of his  offspring -
in another part of the land G-d promised  us.’Äù
That is a great argument supporting my view that Abraham  went to southern
Lebanon.  If so,  then the Patriarchal narratives portray YHWH as vouchsafing
all of Canaan, from  southern Lebanon to Hebron, to the Hebrews.  But that
argument makes no sense if  Abraham went to the Negev Desert and the 
Sinai Desert.
The desirable part of Canaan outside of  the Hebron-Bethel area was primarily
to the north of Shechem:  Beth Shan and the Jezreel Valley, and  then up
north to the lush Bekka Valley and the tremendous ports of southern  coastal
Lebanon, such as Sur (’ÄúTyre’Äù).
    1.  The traditional view cannot account for why Abraham  left Hebron and
went to Gerar.   The actual reason is that Abraham and Sarah wanted to
interact with  Abimelech, in order to solve the fertility problems of all three
persons.  The Gerar test for Abraham is just as  awkward, unpleasant and
controversial as the later binding incident test.  But the author of 
the Patriarchal
narratives presents it as being all divinely  blessed.
The critical importance of having a son is the most  oft-repeated theme in
the entirety of the Patriarchal narratives.  That’Äôs what’Äôs going 
on at Gerar in
 chapter 20 of Genesis.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston,  Illinois

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