[b-hebrew] XBR vs. XBL: One Key to Understanding the Patriarchal Narratives

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Dec 9 15:00:31 EST 2008

1.  You wrote:  “Why do you keep wanting to make connections to a language 
which, by your own claim, did not exist at that time? That's nuts!”
I do not understand what you are saying here.  Biblical Hebrew is closely 
related to the Semitic languages that preceded it.  Moreover, in examining XBR 
vs. XBL, I am primarily looking at the usages of those words in Biblical Hebrew. 
 The theory I am advancing on this thread is that if we look at 
fully-developed Biblical Hebrew, there seems to be an unusual amount and variety of 
positive “rope imagery”.  You yourself have great expertise in Biblical Hebrew, so 
your opinion will be valuable in determining whether or not Biblical Hebrew in 
fact does have an amazing amount of positive rope imagery.
2.  You wrote:  “While linguistic study is the focus of B-Hebrew, insisting 
that it be tied to a certain interpretation of history is a no-no on this list. 
 You are violating the rules you agreed to join this list.”
You are the one who keeps citing references to a supposedly historical Sodom 
and Gomorrah on the southeast coast of the Dead Sea, and an historical Exodus. 
 I have said virtually nothing about those historical claims of yours, 
because they are not the main subject of the b-hebrew list.  By contrast, examining 
whether the language of Biblical Hebrew has a great amount of positive rope 
imagery, and then asking if that may help us pinpoint when Biblical Hebrew 
separated itself off from earlier Semitic languages, is exactly the type of issue 
that b-hebrew is designed to address, I would think.
3.  You wrote:  (a)  “But far enough different as to be different words:  XBL 
to tie knots.  XBR to join together.”
Yet note how the concept of “rope” neatly ties those two ideas together.  
One often uses “rope” “to tie knots”/XBL.  And “to join together”/XBR can be 
conceptualized as being “bound” together as if by a “rope”.  That is the 
type of “rope imagery” I want to explore on this thread.
(b)  “To be complete, you need to bring in other synonyms as well, such as:
 )SR to tie to, such as yoking oxen to a plow
 XB$ to bind on, e.g. saddle, bandages
 )QR to tie up, wrapping a rope around
 RKS to knot on and a few others. As you can see, some of the synonyms have 
meanings closer to XBL than does XBR, weakening your argument.”
Thank you for these helpful leads.  I will explore each of them.
4.  You wrote:  “You have already been repeated told that you need more than 
BDB to make an argument.  That this argument is based solely on BDB shows you 
don't know
 what you are talking about.”
My arguments are by no means based solely on BDB.  In my next post, I will 
quote primarily from the KJV translation.  A rabbi I know well recommended BDB 
to me.  I myself think it is a pretty good source.  Of course, I do not rely on 
any one source exclusively, nor is BDB even my primary source in this area.
Karl, I listen to what you say Hebrew words mean.  But I then balance that 
against what the classics of Hebrew language say as to what Hebrew words mean, 
and I look at many different translations.  I think all of us benefit by 
looking at numerous sources in trying to pinpoint the meanings of Hebrew words.
5.  You wrote:  In response to my assertion that “The basic meaning of XBL as 
a noun is "rope"”, you wrote:  “Wrong.  The basic meaning is something that 
is tied to something else, such as the fields around a city, contractual 
agreement, moral limits. A rope is only sometimes connected with the action of 
"tying knots".”
As to fields, they could be tied to a city.  But I see XBL here as 
referencing the fact that a field could be “measured”, and that such measurement of a 
field might well be done by means of a “rope”.  See Amos 7: 17 and Zechariah 
2: 5[1].  In a “contractual agreement”, the parties are “bound” as if by a “
rope”.  But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here.  In my next post I will 
look at all the many meanings of XBL that may arguably be connected to the 
concept of a “rope”, either in terms of measuring something or in terms of “
binding” two or more things or people together.
6.  You wrote:  “XBR is never used in connection with rope.  And when talking 
about people, it is about a voluntary association, without the idea of being 
tied down to
 remain part of the group.”
Here, you are starting to get to the key issue that I will begin to raise in 
my next post.  I will try to show that the Hebrews considered a “voluntary 
association” to be a situation where people agree to be “bound” together, as if 
by a “rope”.  Oddly and interestingly, the Hebrews viewed that “rope” 
metaphor as being very positive.  You instinctively reflect the view of most other 
languages, which generally see a “rope” as being a negative image.  You refer 
to a “voluntary association” not having the attribute of “being tied down”, 
where you seem to view a “rope” as a negative item that could “tie down” 
people in an unpleasant and undesired way.  In fact, most languages may think of “
rope” as being the means by which poor innocents are hanged!  This is 
precisely the point that I want to investigate on this thread.  In my view, Biblical 
Hebrew, uniquely among languages, may have an oddly positive view of “rope 
imagery”.  Though you and I and most other peoples on earth might view “rope 
imagery” as generally being negative, I see XBR and XBL as setting forth a great 
deal of positive “rope imagery” in Biblical Hebrew, where the idea of being “
bound” together, as if by a “rope”, was usually a good thing, not a bad thing.
But once again, we are getting way ahead of ourselves, as I have not yet set 
forth the meanings of XBR and XBL that I see as backing up my view of the 
case.  However, maybe now you can see the issue I am driving at.  If the first 
Hebrews had a uniquely positive view of “rope”, unlike other peoples, that may 
help us pinpoint the time at which the language of Biblical Hebrew emerged as a 
separate language from the ocean of other Semitic languages of the Canaanites.
7.  You wrote:  “Have you considered that maybe the context [of the 
Patriarchal narratives] did not call for a "rope"?  Did you check all the synonyms for 
"rope" such as (BT, MYTR, and others;  were they also not used?”
Thank you for these good hints.  I will pursue them.
8.  You wrote:  “With this language, you indicate that you are writing a book.
In fact, I am not writing a book.  Rather, I am trying to determine the 
historicity of the Patriarchal narratives, based in large part on a new look at the 
meaning of the Hebrew words in the text, especially regarding geographical 
place names in Canaan.  I have learned so much about Biblical Hebrew and the 
Patriarchal narratives since I became aware of the b-hebrew list.  I understand 
the Patriarchal narratives much better now than when I started posting on the 
b-hebrew list.
All comments by you and everyone else about Biblical Hebrew language matters 
are greatly appreciated.  I think we all learn from those comments.  I know I 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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