[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. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois 

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