[b-hebrew] At Which Bethlehem Did Rachel Die?

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Wed Jan 9 14:14:57 EST 2008


Dear Jim,

Going 12 miles to bury a body in that period of time, even now, in the Middle
East would be courting disaster. Rigor mortis sets in, heat in that area would
horrendous, etc. Burial was immediate NOT delayed.

Regarding "that land" the Hebrew is referring to the previous antecedent,
Migdal-eder. The question is where is Migdal-eder?

Finally, Jerusalem is not mentioned because it is known as Salem as early as
Genesis 14 with Abraham and Melchizedek. It is not known as Jerusalem until
David captured it in the early 10th Century BCE.

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
----- Original Message ----- 
From: <JimStinehart at aol.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2008 6:07 AM
Subject: [b-hebrew] At Which Bethlehem Did Rachel Die?


> lehem.  But there are
> two Bethlehems in Canaan.  At which Bethlehem did Rachel die?
>
> Bethlehem of Judea?
>
> The more famous Bethlehem, namely Bethlehem of Judea, is located (i) 7 miles
> south of Jerusalem, and (ii) 12 miles north of Hebron.  (Hebron is 19 miles
> south of Jerusalem.)
>
> Bethlehem of Galilee?
>
> By contrast, Bethlehem of Galilee is located about 100 miles north of
> Jerusalem (120 miles north of Hebron), just north of the Jezreel Valley that
was
> dominated by Beth Shan, and on the southern edge of the sphere of influence
that
> Sur/Tyre often exercised from southern Lebanon.  [In the Jerusalem Talmud,
> Bethlehem of Galilee is referred to as "Beth Lechem Zoria" (that is,
“Bethlehem Sur
> ”), as it was within the sphere of influence of Sur/Tyre at the time.  We
> have previously noted that Jacob’s Bethel-Luz may be historical Lus, later
called
> Dan, in northern Canaan near Sur.  In chapter 35 of Genesis, Jacob leaves
> Bethel-Luz, which likely is in northern Canaan (as opposed to Abraham’s
> Bethel-Ai, which is located between Jerusalem and Shechem in southern Canaan),
and
> Jacob comes to Bethlehem (which, if this is Bethlehem of Galilee/Bethlehem
Sur, is
> located in northern Canaan, not in southern Canaan south of Jerusalem).]
>
> The key point here, in connection with Rachel’s death and burial, is that (i)
> Bethlehem of Judea is located a mere 12 miles north of Hebron, whereas (ii)
> Bethlehem of Galilee is located 120 long miles north of Hebron.
>
> In this post, we will focus on two key lines of text in Genesis that strongly
> suggest that Rachel died at Bethlehem of Galilee, 120 long miles north of
> Hebron, not as usually supposed at Bethlehem of Judea, a mere 12 miles north
of
> Hebron.  These two distinct lines of text indicate that Jacob’s family was not
> at or near Hebron when Rachel died.
>
> 1.  Rachel Is Not Buried at Hebron
>
> Genesis 35: 19 says that Jacob buried Rachel at Bethlehem.  Why didn’t Jacob
> bury Rachel at Hebron?
>
> Bethlehem of Judea is a mere 12 miles north of Hebron.  Instead of burying
> his favorite wife in an unknown place, why didn’t Jacob take beloved Rachel’s
> body a mere 12 miles south for burial at Hebron?
>
> Moreover, we know for certain that Jacob immediately proceeded past Bethlehem
> (going south toward Hebron, on the traditional view of the case), because the
> text tells us:
>
> “And [after burying Rachel] Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond
> Migdal-eder.”  Genesis 35: 21
>
> Thus Jacob immediately goes beyond Bethlehem.  If Rachel had died at
> Bethlehem of Judea, Jacob would have immediately journeyed south to a locale
just a
> few miles (if that) north of Hebron.  So then why not bury beloved Rachel at
> Hebron?
>
> This conundrum is instantly resolved once it is realized that Rachel died at
> Bethlehem of Galilee, not Bethlehem of Judea.  It was not possible to carry
> Rachel’s body 120 miles south of Bethlehem of Galilee to Hebron for burial.
> Moreover, at the moment of Rachel’s death, Jacob was still worried about
avoiding
> the neighbors of the murdered men of Shechem, so that Jacob could not have
> safely taken the most direct 120-mile route from Bethlehem of Galilee to
Hebron.
>
> 2.  Where Is “That Land” in Which, Shortly After Rachel’s Death, Reuben Has
> His Father’s Concubine Stay in Reuben’s Tent for One Night?
>
> Consider now Genesis 35: 21-22:
>
> “And [after burying Rachel] Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond
> Migdal-eder [Edor].  And it came to pass, while Israel dwelt in that land,
that
> Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine;  and Israel heard of
it.”
>
> Where is “that land”, where Reuben’s incident occurred?  Surely it cannot be
> a few miles north of Hebron, practically within eyesight of Hebron.  The text
> is referring to some other place, to “that land”, as opposed to areas of
> Canaan where Jacob (age 50 regular years) had lived before, and where Jacob’s
> elderly father Isaac (age 80 regular years) is currently living.
>
> The one and only time when a Patriarch is near the Jezreel Valley is when
> Jacob sojourns near Bethlehem of Galilee (Bethlehem Sur).  The area
immediately
> north of the Jezreel Valley is a perfect locale to be “that land”, where
> Reuben has his father’s concubine stay one night in Reuben’s tent.
>
> 3.  Why No Mention of Jerusalem?  What About JEPD?
>
> If Jacob is operating so very close to Jerusalem at this time (on the
> traditional view), why would the author (or authors, such as JEPD) bend over
> backwards never to mention Jerusalem?  That makes no sense.  On the
traditional view,
> Rachel must have been within eyesight of Jerusalem when she went into labor.
> Why then take such pains never to mention the most important city in the area?
>  If JEPD is making this stuff up over the course of several centuries in the
> mid-1st millennium BCE (not my view), or repeating and re-working old
> traditions (not my view either), why on earth wouldn’t JEPD take this golden
> opportunity to refer to sacred Jerusalem?
>
> What JEPD did do, in the mid-1st millennium BCE, was to apply a systematic
> southern Hebrew bias to reinterpret the geographical locations in the truly
> ancient text of the Patriarchal narratives.  “Sur”, the island city-state in
> southern Lebanon, was reinterpreted to be a reference to the western Sinai
Desert,
> despite the fact that Isaac is portrayed as getting rich by growing crops
> near Sur.  Jacob’s “Bethel-Luz” was reinterpreted to be the same locale as
> Abraham’s Bethel-Ai, despite the fact that Jacob could not leave the Negev
Desert
> and get to Bethel-Ai the first night of his trip out to Harran, whereas Jacob
> could easily travel from near Sur in southern Lebanon to Lus, or Bethel-Luz,
in
> one day.  And Rachel’s burial at “Bethlehem” was reinterpreted to mean
> Bethlehem of Judea, even though Jacob would in that event certainly have taken
> beloved Rachel’s body a few more miles south for burial at Hebron.  The story
> makes complete sense if and only if Rachel died at Bethlehem of Galilee,
Bethlehem
> Sur, for then we see that Jacob could not travel 120 long miles (and go right
> past still dangerous Shechem) in order to bury beloved Rachel at Hebron.
>
> Why should we be stuck today with JEPD’s reinterpretation/misinterpretation
> of the truly ancient Patriarchal narratives?  The text itself has not changed.
> So why not look at that truly ancient text with new eyes, and see that it
> makes perfect sense, in all ways, if we will only drop the 2,500-year-old
> southern Hebrew bias of JEPD?
>
> 4.  Conclusion
>
> Rachel did not die between Jerusalem and Hebron, at Bethlehem of Judea, a
> mere 12 miles north of Hebron.  No, Rachel is presented in the Patriarchal
> narratives as dying 120 long miles north of Hebron, at Bethlehem of
> Galilee/Bethlehem Sur.  That’s why Jacob did not bury Rachel at Hebron.
>
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
>
>
>
>
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