[b-hebrew] xrm and the Canaanites' VIP treatment

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Jan 2 12:22:35 EST 2008


On Jan 1, 2008 11:36 PM, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:
> The Biblical account clearly states that all people of the city were
> killed.  The
> word &ryd at the very least means - survivors.  There were no survivors,
> so
> hence, no Canaanites who were missed in the attack to return.  Yes, this
> phrase is not described explicitly for Lachish, but it is described for
> Libnah,
> and for Lachish, Joshua is said to have killed everyone "just like in
> Libnah."
> So it must be read as having killed everyone without any survivors.

But were those the only Canaanites living in the land, or were there also
lesser cities, towns, villages and even hamlets that were skipped because
they didn't pose a military threat to Israelite settlement?  The context is
clear that not all Canaanites were killed, the only ones listed in the text
as being wiped out without survivors are just those listed in the cities
with kings, and with those kings, military forces.

Therefore, when Joshua and Israel went on after taking and looting a city,
would not those other Canaanites find those abandoned cities an attractive
place to squat? The text doesn't mention that action, but neither does it
rule it out. And those cities that were settled by Israelites, would their
settlements have left behind the indications of a new population, or would
having just come off of 40 years wandering in the wilderness, wouldn't their
materials goods easily carried by nomads (leather, cloth, wood) have long
ago been reduced to dust, while they would have used the materials that
would have survived the ravages of time (mainly pottery) left behind by
their former owners? In other words, given the context of the invasion and
settlement, should we expect to find in the archeological record easily
recognized traces of the new population?

> As for xrm, while "given special treatment" is a novel way to
> interpret the word,
> it is at the very least an understatement.  With "made sure they were
> captured"
> for clarification, it is also wrong.  When described here, it must
> refer to the same
> type of actions as Joshua is said to have taken in Josh 6:14 - Josh 7:26.

Of course!

> Therefore, not only were there no survivors, not only could Israelites
> not resettle
> the city (6:26), they could also not take from the spoils.
> (Essentially, resettling
> the city is a form of taking from the spoils).  This is what xrm means and
> the
> response by Joshua is to stone and burn the transgressor.
> Claiming the Biblical text says otherwise is to misinterpret the text.

Here you need to distinguish between between the actions carried by XRM and
those actions carried by the other words in the context. If XRM referred to
all the actions, then the other words are superfluous. If XRM refers to a
far more restricted set of action, then the other words in the context are
needed to show the extent at which marking out is to be taken: in the case
of Jericho, the city would be rebuilt only by an idolater (6:26), and the
spoils were to be dedicated to the service of the "temple" (tent of
meeting). The context also makes clear that those same restrictions did not
apply to other cities, therefore XRM indicates a more restricted action.

Furthermore, XRM is used in many contexts where it does not carry the action
you want to apply here.

> Yitzhak Sapir

When doing Biblical Hebrew lexicography, you need to look at all times a
word is used, not just a single time. If you base your understanding on only
one use, that can lead to some very strange understandings when you apply
that understanding in other contexts. Or you end up with many unique
meanings, which also doesn't make sense. You need to consider all uses, all

Karl W. Randolph.

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list