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

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Thu Jan 3 05:41:30 EST 2008

On Jan 2, 2008 7:22 PM, K Randolph wrote:

> 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.

A city state is not just the city.  It is the entire countryside surrounding the
city.  I cannot at hand offer a source for the following reconstruction of city-
state dynamics and life.  However, this is my understanding and I'm pretty
sure I did read it somewhere.  Also, it makes sense.  During a major attack,
it is unlikely that people would remain in their hamlets or villages.  Murder,
rape, and slavery are just some of the promising prospects that await those
who remain unprotected.  During an attack, the villagers in the city
state would
go to the walled city and take cover behind its walls, taking any
personal family
valuables with them.  Therefore, when the wall is breached, and all the people
in the city are killed, without survivors, it doesn't mean that others
remained in
hamlets or villages.  Anyone in a hamlet would have taken cover in the city.
Hiding out in the open, even in a cave, would mean lack of supplies for the
duration of attack -- and the possibility that you would be discovered.  So, the
reason the text does not list any hamlets or villages is because during the
attacks, all the people those villages and hamlets would have taken cover in
the city state capital.

> 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?

In general, yes.  We expect to see remains and indications of population
changes.  Even something simple, like a sudden disappearance of pork
bones could be an indication.

> 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.

Words are superfluous only in a view that the text gives you new
information with
each and every word.  Such an approach removes any possibility of
literary creativity.
In a more general view of the text, sometimes the text may repeat what
it says, and
say something over again in slightly different terms.  Thus, the text
says, "they
killed everyone, not a survivor was left."  Josh 6:26 doesn't say that
only an idolater
would rebuild Jericho.  It says that Joshua cursed Jericho that anyone
-- idolater
or not, Israelite or not -- who builds it, will build it with the loss
of his children.  All
his descendants (and evidently himself too) would be killed.  This is
part of the
upholding of the XRM, which means the destruction of anyone who lives in it --
Josh 6:17 -- as a continuous, non-momentary state.

> 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
> contexts.

When reading the Hebrew Bible, you need to understand the cultural
values involved
in the text, and not invent things of your own based on your presumed
meanings of
what the cultural values imply, and how other words in the Bible are
used, according
to your own personal understanding.

Yitzhak Sapir

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