[b-hebrew] Bgdkpt: Canaan as the Original Homeland of the Hebrews
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Jun 25 11:16:09 EDT 2008
Bgdkpt: Canaan as the Original Homeland of the Hebrews
Yaakov (J) Stein wrote: “The Bible tells us that Abraham and his family
originated from an area where the Horrites [Hurrians] were an ethnic majority
during the second millennium BCE.”
In my controversial view, that is a common mis-reading of the text.
Not once do the Patriarchal narratives say that Abraham’s “am”/ancestors
were in Harran, Ur, or Mesopotamia, or that Abraham left his “am”/ancestors when
he left his infirm father in Harran. Terakh had wanted to return home to
northern Canaan, but Terakh became too infirm to make it past Harran.
The Patriarchal narratives frequently use the word “am”, a word which
includes one’s ancestors, but never in regard to Harran, Ur or Mesopotamia. Rather,
the word used in that connection is “molodet”, which means “one’s father’s
descendants”. The term “molodet” excludes one’s ancestors. Abraham’s
ancestors were never in Mesopotamia, except that Abraham’s father Terakh got stuck
there when Terakh could not make it back to his homeland in Late Bronze Age
northern Canaan due to infirmity.
Note that when Abraham is buried in central Canaan, the text specifically
tells us that Abraham was gathered to his “am”, that is, to Abraham’s ancestors.
Genesis 25: 8 That sentence would not make sense if Abraham was the first
one of his relatives to come to Canaan, with most of the rest of Abraham’s
relatives, including all of Abraham’s ancestors, living and dying in Mesopotamia.
Moving now to a key language point, which was the main subject of your post,
Abraham did not learn a new language when he got to Canaan. The Hebrews are
indigenous to Canaan. The first Hebrew spoke “pre-Hebrew”, a west Semitic
language that would have been very, very similar to Biblical Hebrew. The Hebrew
language was never a foreign language to the early Hebrews.
Biblical Hebrew is a virgin pure west Semitic language, that has fewer
foreign (non-west Semitic) influences than most other languages. The very nature of
the language of Biblical Hebrew, which has very little influence from either
Mesopotamia or Egypt, strongly supports my contention that the Hebrews were
indigenous to Canaan, not foreigners who wandered into Canaan from northern
Mesopotamia. (It also supports the scholarly view that the Hebrews were not in
bondage in Egypt for 400 or 430 years.)
Most scholars today agree that the Hebrews were indigenous to Canaan. Where
I differ with the scholars is in my insistence that the text of the
Patriarchal narratives does not present the Hebrews as being foreigners to Canaan. The
Patriarchal narratives open with Abraham’s father Terakh taking a small band
of pre-Hebrews from northern Canaan on a one-time caravan trip out to
Mesopotamia. These pre-Hebrews never did this before or after: only this one time.
The linguistic clue that the text is not presenting Abraham’s relatives as
being indigenous to Mesopotamia is that the word “am” is never used once in the
text regarding Abraham’s relatives in Mesopotamia. Abraham left his father (“
leave your father’s house”), and Abraham left his brother Nahor and Nahor’s
12 sons (“leave your molodet/your father’s descendants”), when Abraham left
his infirm father in Harran. (Note that the term “molodet” does not include one
’s father.) A few weeks or months later, Abraham also leaves his father’s
other male descendant, Lot (“leave your molodet/your father’s descendants”).
Note that Abraham is never told to leave his “am” in Mesopotamia. That’s
because Abraham’s “am”, that is, Abraham’s ancestors, never lived in
Mesopotamia (except that Abraham’s father Terakh got stuck in Harran because of
infirmity). Abraham is gathered to his “am”/ancestors when Abraham is buried in
Abraham learned Hebrew (actually pre-Hebrew) on his mother’s knee. Abraham
did not speak broken Hebrew as a second language learned as an old man. No
way. The text does not present Abraham that way, nor does such a theory have any
support in secular history, nor is the nature of the language of Biblical
Hebrew consistent with such a theory.
Abraham from day #1 spoke Hebrew like a native. Abraham spoke perfect Hebrew
his entire life, including as a child.
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