[b-hebrew] Hebron, mountains, and flocks
GaryH at cjfm.org
Wed Oct 8 18:01:13 EDT 2008
Maybe we should be a bit more reserved in our extrapolations about the flora and fauna in and around Hebron based on what we observe there today. We know that there have been rather significant changes in the local ecosystem over the past couple of millennia. Contributing factors include deforestation, the ravages of military invasions in antiquity, human migration, natural erosion, and general neglect of the land for extended periods (we're talking many centuries here). If memory serves, Josephus even talks about a "scorched earth" campaign by the Romans (or someone) in that area. I haven't actually been in Hebron in a long time due to the political situation there. From what I remember, though, it is pretty desolate, like much of that area of Judea. But in the time of Joshua, the area evidently was quite different. It had abundant "common lands" (migrashah) for the grazing of livestock (cp. Joshua 21). It was one of the areas given to the Levites, in fact. I seriously doubt they would have gotten away with rewarding the Levites with a desolate wasteland.
San Antonio, TX
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of JimStinehart at aol.com
Sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2008 5:09 PM
To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [b-hebrew] Hebron, mountains, and flocks
Karl W. Randolph wrote: “[T]his prattle that the area around Hebron is too
mountainous for flocks is patently false.”
The problem is that there is not enough good pastureland in the near-desert
conditions of the high hill country at and near the city of Hebron.
1. Today, the Bedouins near Hebron have only small flocks of sheep and
goats, because there is not enough pastureland to support large flocks of sheep and
2. In the 12th century BCE, which is obviously a much more relevant time
period, we can tell from the distribution of the first Hebrew villages where the
good land was for herding sheep and goats and doing small-time agriculture.
If the early Hebrews were going to stay in hill country, where their presence
was basically not contested by outsiders, then the part of hill country that
was conducive for the early Hebrew lifestyle of herding sheep and goats and
doing small-time agriculture was the hill country north of Jerusalem (south of the
Jezreel Valley). We know that was the case, because historically 93% of the
first Hebrew villages are located north of Jerusalem.
The Hebron area was safe and secure, but it was a near-desert. There are
very few early Hebrew villages in the Hebron area because the high altitude city
of Hebron had such poor land.
Yes, sheep and goats have always been herded near Hebron. I am not denying
that. But I am saying that Hebron has very little good pastureland, so neither
the city of Hebron itself, nor the area near Hebron, is conducive to having a
huge flock of sheep and goats as Abraham is reported to have.
The one good thing about the Hebron area is something that Abraham did not
need: security from outside attackers, given its mountainous locale. That was
not needed by Abraham, who had 318 armed retainers of his own, and who was in
a confederate relationship with tent-dwelling Amorites.
Since 93% of the first Hebrew villages were located north of Jerusalem, we
should logically look north of Jerusalem for the locale of the Patriarchs’ “
Hebron”. The land north of Jerusalem, both the hill country directly north of
Jerusalem, and the Aijalon Valley northwest of Jerusalem, is much better
pastureland than the near-desert conditions that prevail at and near the high
altitude city of Hebron. Given that Abraham is portrayed as being divinely given all
of Canaan, it makes sense that Abraham would choose to sojourn in the best
pastureland in Canaan -- the Aijalon Valley, located 17½ miles west of Beth-el.
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