[b-hebrew] Deportation of Judea and Samaria

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Sun Oct 28 06:41:56 EDT 2007


On 10/27/07, Bryant J. Williams III <bjwvmw at com-pair.net> wrote:
> Dear Yitzhak,
> It is clear from Jeremiah 40:1-43:7 that the Judeans remaining in Jerusalem and
> Judah fled to Egypt after the assassination of Gedaliah. This around 582-581 BC.
> Furthermore, it is clear from Jeremiah that those who would go to Egypt would
> never return, but die in Egypt. This did happen, even Jeremiah and Baruch died
> in Egypt since he was went with them. Exactly how many went to Egypt is a good
> question. The TEXT does not say. It does say "all" in 43:4-5. But you know as
> well as I do that "all" does not necessarily mean "all" at this point, but is
> being used by Jeremiah for rhetorical purposes (just as my teenagers would say,
> "Everyone else is doing it").
> Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

There is a difference: in 2 Kings 17 mentions that the totality of the
people were rejected, but it nowhere says that the totality of the
people were exiled. Contrast that with the record in Jeremiah and 2
Kings where both say that "all" those who remained after the three
times captives were taken into exile to Babylon went to Egypt.

Are you claiming the both the writer of Kings and Jeremiah were lying
when they claimed that all the people who were left went to Egypt, in
the same way as your teenagers (your teenagers know it's a lie, and
will admit it if you press them)? What sort of God is that who depends
on lies to make his points? If you can't trust a God behind the
writing the Bible on little points like that "all" in Jeremiah really
meant all, why should you trust him on important themes in the Bible?
While the above questions are admittedly theological, they show one
reason why some of us reject the claims of modern scholars who claim
that there was a pool of Hebrew speakers who remained in Judea during
the Babylonian Exile. Those questions also expose the fact that the
claim that there was a pool of Hebrew speakers left in Judea during
the Exile is just as much a theological claim as to trust the Biblical

There is also the historical question: who is more trustworthy,
ancient records written by people who participated in the events
recorded (Jeremiah) or were recorded shortly thereafter (Kings was
probably written about 500 BC), or the attempts of modern scholars to
reconstruct the events based on very fragmentary data at best? (The
claim that all of Samaria was exiled is just as much a modern
reconstruction as the claim that there were some Judeans who remained
in Judea throughout the Exile.)

Then there is the claim that a "dead" language, defined as one where
there are no native speakers, but one still spoken fluently by
millions for theological and other reasons, will not change, is belied
by the example of Latin which was a "dead" language according to the
above definition, yet was spoken by millions fluently for over a
millennium after it became a "dead" language and it continued to
change. The fact that it continued to change was instrumental in the
debate of Martin Luther with John Eck where Luther showed that some of
the documents written in Latin that Eck depended on were in fact later
forgeries (the forgers, too, thought that by writing in Latin that a
document could be passed off as from an earlier time, not recognizing
that medieval Latin was recognizably different from late imperial
Latin). So the same way the existence of Mishnaic Hebrew cannot be
taken as proof that Hebrew was not a "dead" language according to the
above definition, and had been "dead" for centuries preceding the
development of Mishnaic Hebrew.

So the question remains, when did Hebrew become a "dead" language
according to the above definition? There remains some evidence that
that happened as early as during the Exile, others claim much later,
there is not enough evidence either way to be conclusive.

Karl W. Randolph.

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