[b-hebrew] M$QH at Genesis 13: 10: Where Did Lot Go?

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Wed Oct 1 16:34:34 EDT 2008

Jim, Lot was not looking for "city life", he was looking for good grazing. 
The Jezreel Valley is NOT used primarily for grazing, since the fields are 
sown and planted with grain. Most grazing by semi-pastoralists such as the 
Patriarchs was done on the desert fringe, including the Judean Desert. The 
whole point of the story is to contrast Abraham's righteousness with Lot's 
wrong choices - Abraham remains in the "clean" hill-country, while Lot goes 
to live among the Sodomites.
AND - the area of the Kikar, along the southern edge of the Dead Sea, is 
even today a lush area, watered by several large springs. Most tourists 
don't get to see this part of the Dead Sea shore because it's so close to 
the Jordanian border, but I've done some military service there, and the 
soldiers call it "Vietnam", because it reminds them of movie scenes of 
patrolling through the jungles of southeast Asia.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <JimStinehart at aol.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2008 4:41 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] M$QH at Genesis 13: 10: Where Did Lot Go?

> Bill Rea:
> You wrote:  “I think you're making a simple mistake in looking at current
> geography and climate when trying to deduce the meaning of Hebrew words. I 
> get the
> impression you believe that Abram lived somewhere around 3500 years ago. 
> In
> that case you need to know what the climate was then and what the land use
> was then. Climate is not static. There are long droughts sometimes in the
> order of several centuries and equally long wet periods. I've not studied
> Middle Eastern climate but it’s not a simple matter of looking at today's
> climate and assuming it was the same several millennia ago. Even if you 
> knew
> all those things they do not necessarily give you a good guide to the
> meaning of KKR.”
> It is fine for you and George Athas to talk about climate change.  But the
> fact remains that in the Late Bronze Age (which in my view is the 
> Patriarchal
> Age), the breadbasket of Canaan was the Jezreel Valley, whereas the Jordan 
> River
> Valley was (unlike today) of relatively little significance in the Late
> Bronze Age.
> 1.  Egypt’s only permanent garrison in inland Canaan during the Amarna Age
> was at Beth Shan, on the eastern edge of the Jezreel Valley.  It was there 
> to
> protect the breadbasket of Canaan:  the Jezreel Valley.  The Jezreel 
> Valley and
> the coastal road were the only parts of Canaan actively administered by 
> Egypt.
> Egypt basically ignored the unimportant Jordan River Valley.
> 2.  There were many important cities in the Jezreel Valley in the Late 
> Bronze
> Age, whereas there were almost no cities in the rest of the Jordan River
> Valley.  Megiddo, Afula the Big, Afula the Small, Jezreel and Beth Shan 
> are five
> important “cities of the valley”/’cities of the KKR”, and there’s also
> Aksapa/Achshaph, all being in the fertile Jezreel Valley.  After the fall 
> of Jericho
> in the mid-16th century BCE, at the very beginning of the Late Bronze Age,
> there were essentially no important cities in the Jordan River Valley 
> itself
> (excluding the Jezreel Valley) in the Late Bronze Age.  That’s because the
> Jezreel Valley was the breadbasket of ancient Canaan, whereas there was no 
> there
> there in the rest of the Jordan River Valley.
> 3.  If Lot wanted to live the soft city life, in rich cities in a fertile
> valley, then the only valley in Canaan that fits that description is the 
> fertile
> Jezreel Valley, the breadbasket of Canaan.  Life was not easy in the rest 
> of
> the Jordan River Valley, and there were virtually no cities at all in the 
> rest
> of the Jordan River Valley.  Lot and Abraham had just come from the east, 
> so
> they would know both the Jezreel Valley and the rest of the Jordan River
> Valley.  Both Lot and Abraham knew where the soft, easy city life was to 
> be found:
> in the M$QH, the well-watered pasture, of the eastern half of the Jezreel
> Valley.  The Jezreel Valley was world-famous for growing grain (some of 
> which was
> shipped to Egypt) and for rich cities, not for tent-dwelling herders of 
> sheep
> and goats like Abraham.  The Jezreel Valley was definitely Lot’s kind of 
> place.
> The watershed in the Jezreel Valley is approximately at Afula the Small, 
> at
> about the midpoint of the Jezreel Valley.  Water from Afula the Small and
> points east drains east into the Jordan River Valley, whereas water from 
> points
> west of Afula the Small (such as Megiddo) drains west into the 
> Mediterranean Sea.
> So in that sense, Afula the Small and the eastern half of the Jezreel 
> Valley
> can be viewed as being the northwest corner of the Jordan River Valley,
> broadly construed.  That is the  o-n-l-y  place in the Jordan River Valley 
> where
> there are rich cities in M$QH, well-watered pastureland.  That is 
> historically
> where the “cities of the valley/“cities of the plain”/”cities of the KKR”
> were in the Late Bronze Age.  That’s the only logical place for Lot to go 
> in
> Canaan, if Lot is going to sell his herd of sheep and goats and commence 
> living
> the soft life in rich cities in a fertile valley in Late Bronze Age 
> Canaan.
> There’s no way Lot would go to the desolate Dead Sea!
> Afula the Small may have been commonly referred to in the Late Bronze Age, 
> in
> abbreviated form, as “Small” (in contrast to Afula the Great, which likely
> was referred to simply as “Afula”).  “Zoar” means “small”.  Afula the 
> Small
> is attested in the mid-15th century BCE as ayin-P-R S-R.  The S-R there,
> meaning “small”, is redolent of ssade-ayin-resh/C(R/“Zoar”, also meaning 
> “small”
> .  In Biblical Hebrew (unlike modern Hebrew), a ssade was an emphatic S. 
> So “
> Zoar” is in effect SS-a-R, which is close to the pre-Hebrew west Semitic 
> S-R
> that is attested in Egyptian on the mid-15th century BCE topographical 
> list of
> places in Canaan by conquering Egyptian pharaoh Thutmosis III.  The only 
> M$QH
> in the entire Jordan River Valley is “as one goest unto Zoar”.  That is, 
> from
> the perspective of Beth-el in central Canaan, then starting at Beth Shan 
> on
> the southeast and heading northwest and ending at Afula the Small/Biblical 
> “Zoar
> ” on the northwest, is the M$QH/eastern half of the Jezreel Valley, which 
> can
> also be viewed as being the northwest corner of the Jordan River Valley
> (since water in the eastern half of the Jezreel Valley drains into the 
> Jordan River
> Valley).
> Lot is portrayed in the text as going to the only logical place for Lot to 
> go
> in a Late Bronze Age context, if Lot wanted to live the soft city life in
> rich cities in a fertile valley in Canaan.  Biblical “Zoar”/SS-a-R in the
> Patriarchal narratives is historical S-R/“Small”, that is, ayin-P-R 
> S-R/Afula the
> Small.  Lot settled in the only M$QH in the greater Jordan River Valley, 
> namely
> in the “cities of the KKR” between Beth Shan and Zoar/Afula the Small.  It
> all makes perfect sense, in the secular historical context of the Late 
> Bronze
> Age.  Each of Megiddo, Afula the Great, Afula the Small, Beth Shan and
> Aksapa/Achshaph is attested by name in the fertile Jezreel Valley in the 
> Late Bronze
> Age.  Moreover, as noted previously the only permanent Egyptian garrison 
> in
> inland Canaan was at Beth Shan, so we know that the Jezreel Valley was 
> Canaan’s
> breadbasket in the Late Bronze Age.  There’s nothing remotely like that in 
> the
> rest of the Jordan River Valley, which in the Late Bronze Age featured no
> important cities at all (outside of the eastern Jezreel Valley).
> “Sodom” is not an historical name, but rather is a nasty Patriarchal
> nickname, meaning “burnt”.  The Patriarchal nickname Sodom/“Burnt” 
> obviously
> alludes to the fiery destruction of Sodom that is portrayed in chapter 19 
> of
> Genesis.  But “Zoar”, by contrast, is an historical name of an historical 
> town in
> the Late Bronze Age, namely S-R/“Small”/Afula the Small/ayin-P-R S-R, 
> which was
> located in ancient Canaan’s breadbasket:  the M$QH/well-watered 
> pastureland
> of the eastern Jezreel Valley.
> Genesis 13: 10, 12 is telling us that Lot settled, logically enough, in 
> the
> rich cities of the fertile Jezreel Valley:  the “cities of the KKR” -- the
> cities of the valley (that is, of the Jezreel Valley) -- the cities of the 
> “plain”
> .
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
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