[b-hebrew] Canaan as the Original Homeland of the Hebrews

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Wed Jun 25 14:25:38 EDT 2008

Dear Jim,

Before I actually reply to the content of your post, let me first comment 
that you have an annoyingly repetetive witing style. Please try not to make 
the same point more than once in a single post.

As usual, what you wrote is a combination of widely accepted hypotheses 
(which does not make them correct) and your own particular twist. You are 
correct in your statement that Canaanite and Biblical Hebrew are very 
closely related, which is one reason (among several) that have led many 
scholars to conclude that the Israelites were indeed indigenous to Canaan 
(although before making any judgements I'd read A.F. Rainey, "Whence Came 
the Israelites and their Language?", IEJ 57/1 (2007), 41-64). What follows 
from this is that the stories of the Patriarchs, the Exodus and the Conquest 
are largely legendary (although they may have some historical fact behind 
them). This is mainstream scholarship. But you insist that the Patriarchal 
narratives are historical in every detail. The problem is, that when the 
details don;t all match, you make some up. There is NO indication in the 
text that Terah was originally from Canaan and was on his way "home". The 
expression "gathered unto his people" or "gathered unto his fathers" is a 
euphamism for "died", because many people were buried in family tombs. It 
may also refer to "ancestors" in a more metaphysical sense. It's like we use 
"passed (away)" in English - it's just an expression.

The biblical authors depict Canaanites and "Hebrews" all speaking the same 
language, not because that's what happened, but because the difference in 
language was not important to the story. It's like science fiction series in 
which aliens all speak English. The authors only mention language difference 
when it adds to the plot or the message.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <JimStinehart at aol.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 6:16 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Bgdkpt: Canaan as the Original Homeland of the Hebrews

> 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
> central Canaan.
> 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.
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
> **************Gas prices getting you down? Search AOL Autos for
> fuel-efficient used cars. 
> (http://autos.aol.com/used?ncid=aolaut00050000000007)
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