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

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Jun 25 18:44:36 EDT 2008


Tory Thorpe:
 
1.  You wrote:  “No-one speaks any language perfectly from the moment of 
birth, except maybe the likes of Dr. MLK Jr. We learn from our mothers first (dads 
too), and Sesame Street still plays a big role for many.”
 
What I meant was that in my controversial view, Abraham spoke perfect 
pre-Hebrew from the time he was a toddler, as his first language.
 
2.  You wrote:  “If the author of the PN has Avram not born and raised in 
Canaan, even if his distant ancestors were, what grounds are there for the 
presumption, other than say ethnicity, that the author of PN believed Avram spoke 
west Semitic as a first language? He presumably would not.”
 
On my controversial view of the case (not the scholarly view), the Hebrews 
were indigenous to Canaan.  Abraham is portrayed, in effect, as having been born 
and raised in Galilee, in northern Canaan.  Abraham is probably the first 
generation who never knew village life, Abraham having been born in a tent in 
northern Canaan, whereas his ancestors has been born in settled villages in 
northern Canaan.
 
When Abraham is age 35 regular years, in middle age, in his best years, his 
father, Terakh, who had been born in a village but was now reduced to living in 
a tent, decided to try the risky gambit of making a one-time caravan trip 
from Galilee all the long way out to Mesopotamia, a caravan trip that ended up 
taking them all the way to Ur in southern Mesopotamia/Kasdim.  All of Terakh’s 
relatives put in their money for this caravan trip.  A few young male relatives 
went along with Terakh’s family on the caravan trip, in part to guard the 
caravan from outsiders, but also to make sure that Terakh did not disappear with 
his relatives’ money.
 
In many ways, the caravan trip went well, but in other ways, it did not.  The 
trip ended up taking 2½ years, instead of the 6 months that had originally 
been hoped for.  Terakh’s beloved firstborn son, Haran, had the misfortune of 
dying in far-off Ur, predeceasing his own father.  Then when Terakh tried to 
lead the caravan party back to Canaan, Terakh was so infirm that Terakh could not 
make it past Harran, where Terakh ended up having to live the rest of his 
long life.  But the party had bought a lot of valuable commercial luxury goods in 
Mesopotamia, so that there was a possibility that the caravan trip, despite 
all of its many other failings, might turn out to be financially lucrative.
 
On this view, the Hebrews are indigenous to northern Canaan.  A small number 
of pre-Hebrews were only in Mesopotamia once.  Not a single one of Abraham’s 
ancestors was born in Mesopotamia.
 
Does the text support the foregoing view of mine?  Let’s take a look.
 
1.  Jerusalem Is Never Mentioned
 
Even though the Patriarchs spend a majority of their time sojourning in 
Canaan, Jerusalem is never mentioned in the text.  That suggests that the author 
was an early Hebrew who was indigenous to northern Canaan, and who had little or 
no interest in southern Canaan (including having no interest in Jerusalem in 
southern Canaan).  When Abraham is famously on the top of that mountain near 
Beth-el, the narrator never says that Abraham had a great view of Jerusalem, 
much less does YHWH vouchsafe Jerusalem to Abraham’s descendants.  That reveals 
the early northern Hebrew mindset of the Patriarchal narratives, so very 
unlike the mindset of the rest of the Bible.
 
2.  Lot Is Rich Coming Out of Egypt
 
Lot is rich coming out of Egypt.  Genesis 13: 5  The clear implication is 
that Lot had not previously been rich.  Why would Lot get rich in Egypt?  The 
answer is that the caravan party had very valuable merchandise from Mesopotamia 
to sell.  That’s the word “rekuwsh”/resh-kaf-vav-shin/“substance”/“valuables”
 at Genesis 12: 5, which is the same word that is used to describe the 
valuable “loot” that was snatched by various parties at Genesis 14: 11, 12, 16, 21. 
 Terakh’s original plan had been that the caravan party, having reached 
Luz/Lus/Laish in northeastern Galilee, would naturally proceed straight west to 
Sur/Ssur/“Tyre”, and sell the caravan’s goods for a modest price to middlemen 
there.  But with Terakh having stayed back in Harran, and with Abraham now 
leading the caravan party, Abraham has divine guidance as to where to lead the 
caravan:
 
“Now the LORD [YHWH] said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country…unto the 
land that I will show thee.’”  Genesis 12: 1 
 
In the first instance, that meant that YHWH was telling Abraham to lead the 
party straight to Egypt to sell the caravan’s goods at sky-high prices.  Note 
the following commentator’s lament that Abraham seemed to pass through Canaan 
awfully fast in going right to Egypt:
 
“The rapidity of the narration between Abraham’s journeying in 12: 9 and his 
leaving in 12: 10 gives the impression that he walked right through and out 
of the Promised Land.”  Bruce K. Waltke, “Genesis:  A Commentary” (2001), at 
p. 212.
 
Secondly, this divine direction meant that Abraham would then settle in 
central Canaan after returning from Egypt, whereas Abraham’s ancestors had always 
lived in northern Canaan.
 
3.  “Molodet” vs “Am”
 
As mentioned in two previous posts of mine, the text never says that Abraham 
left his “am”/people/ancestors in Mesopotamia.  That’s because he didn’t.  
Rather, Abraham left his “molodet”, his father’s descendants, either at Harran 
(Nahor and Nahor’s 12 sons), or soon after getting back to Canaan (Lot).  And 
Abraham left his father’s house at Harran (as Terakh was stuck in Harran).
 
As I see it, the text supports my controversial view that the Hebrews were 
indigenous to Galilee in northern Canaan.  Abraham is in effect portrayed as 
growing up in Galilee, speaking perfect pre-Hebrew from his toddler days onward.
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois




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