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

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Thu Jan 3 17:47:17 EST 2008


On Jan 3, 2008 2:41 AM, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.

Then how do you account for that many Canaanites did survive?

> 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.

You have just described medieval feudalism, but was this the case of ancient
Near East as well? From what I read, that was only partially true. Those who
had something to fear from the invader, yes, would take refuge in the
fortified stronghold, but what about the rest? The most clear example is
Jeremiah 37:12–14 where Jeremiah attempted to wait out the siege of
Jerusalem "among the people" outside of Jerusalem. While it is true that
Jeremiah was centuries later, did his example show a change in
circumstances? I think it is unlikely, from what history I have read.

> > 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.…

Yet there is a literary standard for when the repetition is used. Follow
that when evaluating a text. Does this text follow that literary formula?

> …  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.

You are adding to the text. The fulfillment came in 1 Kings 16:34, during a
time of idolatry, the foundations were laid with human sacrifice, namely the
oldest son of the builder, the gates blessed with another human sacrifice,
namely the builder's youngest son. This was apparently a building formula
among certain idolatrous societies. There is nothing in the text about all
the other details you added above.

> > 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.

And are you sure that your "knowledge" is not modern mythology concocted to
push an ideology? For example, what about the use of human sacrifice? How
widespread was it? How was it expressed in the language? Do you deny that
Joshua 6:26 and 1 Kings 16:34 linguistically refer to that practice? Why?

Yet on another level, the personal level, do you claim that people were
different then than they are today? In other words, they don't share the
same loves, desires, sense of right and wrong, and so forth that modern
individuals have?

On a technical level, what do you know about agriculture, weaving, ceramics,
cooking, metalsmithing, etc.? Can you tell me why the locksmiths were
specifically mentioned in 2 Kings 24:14, 16? What tools do these trades use?

As far as culture is concerned, the Bible carries a lot of cultural clues,
if you can recognize them.

> Yitzhak Sapir

Which is the best preparation for a lexicographer? Is it good and
concentrated study on languages and linguistics? Or is a person of wide
interests, insatiable curiosity of many subjects, experiences in many
fields, better prepared to recognize how words are used in their contexts?

Karl W. Randolph.

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