[b-hebrew] Wellhausen: The Word "Iron"

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Jan 10 11:31:37 EST 2008


Yitzhak Sapir:
 
I.  The Word “Iron”  
 
You wrote:  “Using a concept that I read in a different connection 
(Zoroastrianism), I looked at the frequency of the use of the word "iron" in the Bible, 
and compared its frequency in the Pentateuch to other books.  One of the 
original considerations was that the Iron Age is pretty much only considered to 
have begun at 1250 BCE, which is
 widely accepted by conservatives as the date of the Exodus.  Of course, more 
conservative datings, such as yours [Karl W. Randolph], have more devastating 
results.  The book of Deuteronomy cannot be differentiated from other books 
of the Deuteronomistic History in its frequency of the use of the word "iron," 
although the other books of the Pentateuch have much lower frequencies.”
 
If I’m catching your drift here, it is that we would not expect to see the 
word “iron” in a pre-Iron Age composition.
 
On my view, the Patriarchal narratives were composed in the Late Bronze Age, 
in the mid-14th century BCE, prior to the Iron Age, whereas the rest of the 
Bible was composed in the Iron Age.  Let’s see how your view of the word “iron” 
checks out.
 
The word “iron” is used 101 times in the Hebrew Bible.  But the word “iron” 
does not appear even once in the Patriarchal narratives.
 
That is fully consistent with my view that (i) the Patriarchal narratives 
were composed  in the mid-14th century BCE, in the Late Bronze Age (prior to the 
Iron Age) (primarily in Year 15 of Akhenaten’s 17-year reign), whereas (ii) 
the rest of the Bible was composed in the Iron Age.
 
(Hey, this is fun.  Is linguistics always this easy?)
 
II.  Other Key Words You Have Mentioned
 
1.  “Pharaoh” vs. “Pithom”
 
These are two loanwords from Egyptian.  “Pharaoh” appears in the Patriarchal 
narratives, and has the R one would expect in the mid-2nd millennium BCE.  “
Pithom” does not appear in the Patriarchal narratives, and has lost the R, as 
one would expect in the 1st millennium BCE.
 
2.  “Ashur” vs. “Assur”  
 
“Ashur” appears in the Patriarchal narratives, and has the SH one would 
expect in the mid-2nd millennium BCE.  “Assur” does not appear in the Patriarchal 
narratives, and has lost the SH in favor of SS, as one would expect in the 
1st millennium BCE.
 
(I think I’m beginning to like linguistics.)
 
III.  Key Words You Never Mention
 
1.  “Chânîykîm”
 
“Chânîykîm”, a word unique in the Bible to the Patriarchal narratives, does 
not appear in secular history after the 15th century BCE.
 
2.  “Paddan-Aram”
 
“Paddan-Aram” , a word unique in the Bible to the Patriarchal narratives, 
does not appear in secular history after the 14th century BCE.
 
3.  “Naharim”
 
“Naharim” is used in the Patriarchal narratives to describe a state on the 
upper Euphrates River that went extinct at the end of the 14th century BCE.  
This word is in the Amarna Letters, but does not appear in secular history after 
the 14th century BCE.
 
4.  “Horites”/Hurrians
 
“Horites” (meaning Hurrians), a word unique in the Bible to the Patriarchal 
narratives, applies to a people who went extinct in the last quarter of the 
2nd millennium BCE.
 
5.  “Boy” (applied to a female youth)
 
The Patriarchal narratives refer to each of Rebekah and Dinah as being a “boy”
.  This peculiar usage is partially picked up in Deuteronomy, but nowhere 
else in the Bible.  This must be a truly ancient usage of Hebrew, meaning 
gender-neutral youth.  The rest of the Bible distinguishes the words “boy” from “girl
”.
 
IV.  Conclusions
 
All of the above linguistic considerations are fully consistent with my view 
that the Patriarchal narratives were composed in the mid-14th century BCE, 
whereas the rest of the Bible was composed in the 1st millennium BCE.
 
How on earth can you square the foregoing with your own theory that J, E, P 
and D ghostwrote most of the Bible, including the Patriarchal narratives, over 
a period of several centuries in the mid-1st millennium BCE?  Why is every 
book in the Bible except the Patriarchal narratives full of 1st millennium BCE 
vocabulary?
 
Why were JEPD so ultra-brilliant in ghostwriting the Patriarchal narratives, 
yet fall on their collective faces repeatedly in the rest of the Bible, as to 
the matter of trying to imitate a 2nd millennium BCE composition?  Is that a 
believable theory of the case?  Why are the Patriarchal narratives so very 
different, both linguistically and in every other way, from the rest of the Bible? 
 Isn’t that because the Patriarchal narratives are 700 years or so older than 
the rest of the Bible?
 
And why do you insist on repeatedly citing 19th century scholars?  19th 
century scholars knew practically nothing about the mid-14th century BCE.  Neither 
did Spinoza, who apparently claimed that Ezra ghostwrote the Patriarchal 
narratives.
 
Finally, why do you maintain your “faith” in a mid-1st millennium BCE, 
multi-author composition of the Patriarchal narratives, when all the evidence we 
have seen on the b-Hebrew list to date is thoroughly inconsistent with such 
100-year-old view?
 
It’s not 1889 any more.  Why is it so verboten to compare, straight up, the 
well-documented secular history of the mid-14th century BCE with the received 
text of the Patriarchal narratives?  The Patriarchal narratives are the 
foundation of Judaism, and the Patriarchal narratives are truly ancient, going all 
the way back to the mid-14th century BCE.  No matter how much Western scholars 
may hate that idea, that’s the way it is.  It ain’t 1889 no more.
 
The Patriarchal narratives are really, really old.  The Patriarchal 
narratives are not mid-1st millennium BCE fiction composed by JEPD.  No way.  All the 
objective evidence is to the contrary (if, that is, we are permitted to look at 
the manifold post-1889 historical findings concerning the secular history of 
the mid-14th century BCE).
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois




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