[b-hebrew] Genesis 20: 1
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Oct 18 12:43:07 EDT 2007
You wrote: "Also another point you seem to have missed is Genesis 19:37,38
which gives serious clues to the date of authorship of the narrative.
" 37 In time the firstborn became mother to a son and called his name Mo´ab.
He is the father of Mo´ab, to this day. 38 As for the younger, she too gave
birth to a son and then called his name Ben-am´mi. He is the father of the
sons of Am´mon, to this day."
These verses seem to indicate to me that the author was writing at a time
and to an audience of people who knew the Moabites and Ammonites to be
neighbouring nations. If we are to accept the traditional view that Moses
authored the Torah then this comment would make sense and we therefore need
to abandon any theory of a more ancient authorship."
James, you raise a difficult and important issue there.
In my view, over 98% of the received text of the Patriarchal narratives is
original, and dates to the mid-14th century BCE. However, there are a mere
handful of later glosses that crept into the text over the centuries. Genesis
19: 37-38 may be one of the rare later glosses in this text.
The following two items suggest that Genesis 19: 37-38 was not part of the
original Patriarchal narratives.
1. The phrase "to this day" or "unto this day", which appears at both
Genesis 19: 37 and Genesis 19: 38, is extremely suspicious. It suggests that these
two verses have been added by a later editor, who lived many centuries after
the historical Patriarchal Age. Indeed, this phrase may be an attempt by
the later editor to more or less openly disclose the fact that these two
verses have been added as later explanations, long after the original composition
of the Patriarchal narratives.
2. The presence of the Hebrew word "hiy" is also suspicious. "Hiy" is
usually translated either as "now" or "the same is". The translation you have
used hides the Hebrew word "hiy". Here is the 1917JPS translation, where you
can easily see the suspicious Hebrew word "hiy":
"And the first-born bore a son, and called his name Moab--the same ["hiy"]
is the father of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also bore a
son, and called his name Ben-ammi--the same [hiy] is the father of the
children of Ammon unto this day."
The joint presence of "unto this day" and "hiy" is very suspicious.
* * *
When you think about it, if a later editor wanted to add a later explanation
of a passage in the Patriarchal narratives to reflect later developments,
yet he did not want to pretend that this later knowledge had been in the
original Patriarchal narratives, about the only two ways to denote openly that this
is a later gloss is to do what we see at Genesis 19: 37-38. The phrase "to
this day" or "unto this day" is an obvious warning that the verse containing
that phrase may be a later editorial gloss. Secondly, the word "hiy",
sometimes translated as "now", and sometimes translated as "the same is", is also
inherently suspicious. That is not to say that every use of "hiy" in the text
denotes a later gloss, but every phrase that begins with "hiy" is inherently
suspicious as possibly being a later gloss.
Having said all that, it is still possible that Genesis 19: 37-38 was
composed in the mid-14th century BCE. I believe that the first attestation of the
words "Moab" and "Ammon" in secular history may have come in the 13th century
BCE. But for example, we first hear about "Moab" when an Egyptian pharaoh
brags about conquering Moab in the 13th century BCE. The early Hebrews in
Canaan may have been well aware of the word "Moab" in the mid-14th century BCE,
long before the Egyptians had occasion to use that local word.
So I am not sure how to treat Genesis 19: 37-38. The most likely scenario,
though, is that those two verses are later editorial glosses.
Let me emphasize that I myself see very, very few such later editorial
glosses in this text. Thus the story of Lot and his daughters is vintage mid-14th
century BCE, and does not seem to fit any historical time period other than
the mid-14th century BCE.. The last two verses of chapter 19 of Genesis may,
however, be a much later editorial gloss. Any phrase that begins with "hiy"
is suspicious as possibly being a later gloss, and when one adds the equally
suspicious phrase, "unto this day", these verses look like later glosses.
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