[b-hebrew] Isaac's Age at the Binding Incident

Oun Kwon kwonbbl at gmail.com
Thu Jun 26 22:37:00 EDT 2008

Hi Jim,

Is 6-month year your idea? Intriguing to read as it explains the ages
of those people.

Have you read  "The Bible Dates Itself by Arthur Earle (1974)".  He
gives the solution: They were using base 7 system, not base 10 system.
And he pinpointed at what time (the king in the throne) the change
over occurred. [He does not cover those ages before Noah].


On Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 2:48 PM, <JimStinehart at aol.com> wrote:
> Rev. Bryant J. Williams:
> You wrote:  "You have stated that 'All ages in the Patriarchal narratives
> are set forth in
>  terms of 6-month 'years.'  This has not been proved to anyone's satisfaction.
> "
> What you say is correct.  Here is a representative sampling of scholarly
> opinion on this subject:
> 1.  "[P]rodigious life spans [are] attributed to the Patriarchs."  John J.
> Collins, Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (2004) at p. 84.
> 2.  "The actual chronological place of this event [Isaac's death, reported at
> Genesis 28: 29] is obviously considerably earlier in the narrative.  The
> biblical writers observe no fixed commitment to linear chronology, a phenomenon
> recognized by the rabbis in the dictum, 'there is neither early nor late in the
> Torah'."  Robert Alter, Genesis:  Translation and Commentary (1996), footnote
> 29 at p. 201.
> 3.  "The over-all chronological scheme [of the Patriarchal narratives]
> remains obscure."  E.A. Speiser, Genesis (1962) at p. 126.
> By contrast to modern scholars, the Hebrews understood the ages of the
> Patriarchs.  The Koran understands the ages of the Patriarchs.  And the medieval
> Christian scribes who put chapter and verse numbers into the Bible in the Middle
> Ages understood the ages of the Patriarchs.
> But you are right that modern scholars are totally baffled by the ages of the
> Patriarchs.  Although the internal timeline of the Patriarchal narratives in
> fact makes perfect sense, without a single number being a "mistake" or not
> fitting in perfectly, modern scholars have been unable to figure out that
> internal timeline.  Modern scholars also do not understand the way in which each
> character's ages are set forth in the text.
> The above scholarly quotations speak for themselves.
> The scholarly view is that P put in all the numbers, and that P's numbers are
> unfathomable.  But why would P take the time to put a whole series of numbers
> into the Patriarchal narratives, where allegedly all characters' ages are way
> too old to be believable, and even worse, allegedly the internal timeline of
> the Patriarchal narratives is incoherent to a fault?  Though that is the
> modern scholarly view of the case, is that scholarly view a rational explanation
> that is the slightest bit convincing?
> Do you realize that not a single modern scholar has taken the time to figure
> out that the reason why Abraham finds out about Rebekah at Genesis 22: 20-24,
> after the binding incident and before Sarah's death, is because that is when
> Abraham's father Terakh died?  That's straight mathematics, as shown in my
> post.  And it works regardless of how one interprets a "year".  No modern
> scholar for the last 50 years has made a serious, sustained attempt to try to figure
> out how the internal timeline of the Patriarchal narratives works.
> Modern scholars have not come up with any proposal for understanding either
> (i) the stated ages of people in the Patriarchal narratives, or (ii) the
> internal timeline of the Patriarchal narratives.  You are right that modern scholars
> do not endorse the concept of a 6-month "year" being used for all people's
> stated ages in the Patriarchal narratives, or for periods of time the
> Patriarchs spend in Canaan.  But it is also true that modern scholars have no
> alternative of their own to propose in this regard, other than to say that the numbers
> used in the Patriarchal narratives are "obscure".
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois

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