[b-hebrew] 6-Month "Year"
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Oct 25 14:24:20 EDT 2007
Rev. Bryant J. Williams III:
You wrote: "Remember that Joseph in Genesis 39 was sent to prison because
of the false accusation of attempted rape by Potiphar's wife. He was a
full-blown adult at that time in charge of the entire household."
Let's consider the ages involved here.
Joseph is age 17 "years", in 6-month "years", when he is a mere helper of
his half-brothers by his father's minor wives, and Joseph tattles upon his
"Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren,
being still a [na'ar/]lad even with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of
Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph brought evil report of them unto
their father." Genesis 37: 2
That type of behavior makes perfect sense for an 8½-year old boy, but would
not make sense if Joseph were age 17 in regular, 12-month years.
Note that Joseph is not a servant; he is his wealthy father's favorite son.
Joseph is called a "na'ar" at Genesis 37: 2 because of his age: Joseph is
age 8½ regular years, so Joseph is a mere boy, a "na'ar", at this time. If
Joseph were a full-grown adult male age 17 regular years in the ancient world,
the narrator would not refer to Joseph as being a "na'ar" here. That would
be an insult.
About 12 months later, when Joseph is age 9½ regular years (the same age as
Ishmael had been when Ishmael was exiled), Joseph is sold by his older
half-brothers to slavetraders, who take Joseph to Egypt. Joseph is age 10 regular
years when he gets settled in Egypt with his Egyptian master, who is a top
officer with Pharaoh's bodyguards. Precocious Joseph handles his master's
finances, and gradually becomes entrusted with great authority over household
matters. But note that Joseph is too young to be considered yet for a coveted
slot as one of Pharaoh's bodyguards, which was his master's profession.
Directly relevant to your point, note that for 3 long years, nothing bad
happens between Joseph and his master's wife. That's because Joseph is still a
boy, ages 10, 11 and 12 regular years. But things then change for the worse
once Joseph attains the awkward, unlucky age of 13 regular years. Now, for
the first time, the master's wife no longer looks upon Joseph as being a mere
boy, but rather views him as being an attractive young man. Note how the ages
here are perfect. If Joseph had already been age 18 regular years or so when
he arrived in Egypt and started working for Potiphar, why then would so much
time have gone by before Potiphar's wife noticed handsome Joseph?
At unlucky age 13 regular years, Joseph, as a handsome young man who is in
the process of changing from being a boy to a man, fends off his master's
wife's advances, and for that Joseph lands in jail on false charges. We know
that Joseph is in that Egyptian jail for two Egyptian 12-month years. Genesis
41: 1 As discussed at some length in my prior post, Joseph is a "na'ar" at
age 13 regular years, when Joseph correctly interprets the dreams of two
Egyptian officials who are inmates of the jail that Joseph is effectively managing.
(Joseph could not be age 28 regular years and still be a "na'ar".)
When Joseph gets out of jail after 2 regular years and interprets Pharaoh's
dream, Joseph is age 15 regular years. That's age 30 "years", in terms of
stated 6-month "years":
"And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of
Egypt." Genesis 41: 46
Note how all the ages work perfectly.
Joseph is a young man, age 15 regular years, when he spectacularly rises to
the top of Egypt's officials. Alexander the Great was about that age when he
began preparations to conquer the world. Age 15 is a perfect age for
Joseph's meteoric rise to the top.
Every single age in the Patriarchal narratives makes perfect sense on the
6-month "year" view, without exception. Joseph's father Jacob is not an
impossible age 130 regular years (Genesis 47: 9) when Joseph invites him to Egypt
10 regular years later. No way. Jacob will be age 65 regular years (130
"years", in 6-month "years", being awkward 13, tenfold) when Jacob takes the
awkward, but necessary, action of leading all the Hebrews out of the Promised
Land of Canaan into Egypt. (Joseph himself will be age 25 regular years at that
point, having been born, sensibly enough, when his father Jacob was age 40
regular years. Joseph will die at age 55 regular years, as the text tells us
twice, at Genesis 50: 22, 26, which references 110 "years". Since Joseph was
born 120 regular years after Abraham's birth, that means that the
Patriarchal narratives end with Joseph's death exactly 175 regular years after
Abraham's birth, whereas Abraham himself had died at age 175 "years", in 6-month
"years", per Genesis 25: 7. Are those spectacular, divinely-inspired numbers or
All ages in the Patriarchal narratives make perfect sense, in the secular
historical context. Joseph is not a "na'ar" at age 17 regular years or age 28
regular years. No way. Joseph is a "na'ar"/boy at ages 8½ and 13 regular
years. The text is perfect, as is.
The reason why Potiphar's wife did not make a pass at Joseph when Joseph
first entered their household is because Joseph was still a mere boy ("na'ar")
at the time, age 10 regular years. Not until Joseph grew up to be a handsome
young man age 13 regular years, when she could view him as just beginning to
be a man rather than still being a mere boy, did Potiphar's wife try to force
Joseph's favors. The age factor here makes this story very realistic.
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