[b-hebrew] Linguistic evidence for climate change

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Mon Dec 1 12:54:49 EST 2008

While the present state of the Negeb is a desert, and much of the rest of
the land fairly dry, historical references indicate that it was much wetter
in the past. The present is not the key to the past.
I had previously mentioned that the text as written in Genesis concerning
Abraham indicated that the Negeb was at least a prairie, able to support
large flocks of livestock, and that there were oaks around Hebron. But it
looks as if even I underestimated the fruitfulness of the land, as Ezekiel
21:1–5 (20:45–49 in English) talks about the "forest of the field of the
Negeb" and "forest of the Negeb". Seeing as Ezekiel was written during the
Babylonian Exile, which is late, that indicates that there were forests as
far south as the Negeb contemporary to Ezekiel, and unless they grew up
after Abraham's time, presumably in Abraham's time as well.

There are other references as well. Together they indicate that the land has
become much dryer since Abraham's time (and even Ezekiel's time) so that we
cannot look at present conditions as normative for the Biblical period.

Karl W. Randolph.

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