[b-hebrew] The Names for Mt. Hermon, Part III

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Jul 23 22:36:55 EDT 2008

Bill Rea: 
I certainly agree that there were variant spellings in  the ancient world.  
The question  then is this: 
Is “Shinar” at Genesis 14: 1 redolent of “Shenir” at  Deuteronomy 3: 9? 
If so, then chapter 14 of Genesis may be closely based on  a well-documented 
military conflict in the Late Bronze Age, which in secular  history occurred 
immediately north of  Canaan. 
But if “Shinar” means “Kasdim”, and is referencing the  place (southern 
Mesopotamia) where Babylon and Ur were located, as scholars  would have it, then 
chapter 14 of Genesis makes no historical  sense. 
If the name “Amrapel”, which begins with  A-M-R/aleph-mem-resh, is referring 
to an Amorite (A-M-R) ruler of Amurru (A-M-R)  in northernmost Canaan 
(northern Lebanon in today’s world), then historically  such ruler had no connection 
to far-off, irrelevant southern Mesopotamia at  all.  Rather, that Amorite 
ruler was  closely associated with (i) Mt. Hermon and (ii) Syria.  That Amorite 
ruler (whose most prominent  brother was named “Amur-bala”) sold out Amurru in 
northernmost Canaan to the new  masters of Syria:  the dreaded  Hittites. 
Whether chapter 14 of Genesis is closely based on actual  secular history, 
rather than being pure non-historical fiction as scholars would  have it, 
depends in large part on the meaning of “Shinar”.  If “Shinar” is redolent of “
Shenir”,  then we’re in business.  In secular  history we have four attacking 
rulers, all of whom are closely connected to  Syria and none of whom has 
anything to do with the southern Mesopotamia area,  who smash a league of five rulers 
and thereby imperil beloved Canaan.  We know that all of that happened in the 
 Late Bronze Age, which seems to me to be the secular historical equivalent 
of  the “four rulers against the five” chronicled in chapter 14 of Genesis.  
The numbers match (4 against 5), and the  military outcome matches:  the 4  
absolutely smash and destroy the 5, in a total military mismatch.  But do the 
words match?  Is “Shinar” redolent of Shenir/Mt.  Hermon, and also of 
Shinar/Singara/Sangar/Sanhar/Syria?  If “Shinar” = “Kasdim”, as the scholars  would 
have it, then nothing makes sense. 
The meaning of these particular words in the Hebrew Bible  is of critical 
importance in evaluating the historicity of the Patriarchal  narratives.  To me, “
Shinar” at  Genesis 14: 1 is redolent of “Shenir” at Deuteronomy 3: 9, 
despite the  difference of one letter in the Hebrew spellings.  That is the key 
issue I am  raising. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston, Illinois

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