[b-hebrew] Hebron, mountains, and flocks

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Oct 8 18:43:37 EDT 2008


On Wed, Oct 8, 2008 at 2:08 PM, <JimStinehart at aol.com> wrote:

> 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
> goats.

Here you are making a philosophical and historic error, namely making the
present as the key to the past.

We know from secular history that the Sahara was once the Saharan grassland
with patches of savanna that supported large herds of ungulates. Today
almost nothing grows there.

Similarly the area around Beersheba, which from the patriarchal histories in
Genesis was near Philistia, was indicated as a grassland capable of
supporting large flocks, which is no longer true.

Around the same time Abraham made regular visits to Hebron. From that we can
conclude that the land had far more grassland than it does today, in line
with other grasslands that existed in the past which are now deserts.

The present is not the key to the past.

> 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.
> 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.

That 93% of Hebrew villages were north of Jerusalem makes sense, because:

1) it fits the pattern of settlement under Joshua after the invasion of

2) Judea was on the southern border facing hostile tribesmen who regularly
raided northwards, not counting Philistine incursions, hence many Judean
towns would have had to be defensive fortresses.

3) you are not counting the east of Jordan Hebrew settlements.

4) you count as fixed dates that even secular historians consider
as untenable, namely those supported by Prof. Kitchen. There are those among
professional historians who consider that the early bronze age extended to
about 1800 BC, middle bronze age to about 1300 BC and the late bronze age to
about 1000 BC. I suspect that during David's sojourn in Philistia, that his
men learned the art of steel making, which made Philistine weapons superior
to bronze weapons, so that when his armies were armed with steel weapons
facing foes mostly armed with bronze, that his forces had a technical
advantage which he used to his advantage, and which allowed him to enforce a
pax Davidum that allowed for a great expanse of village life among the
Hebrews. That's what allowed for the great expanse of early iron age Hebrew
villages during the peace brought about by the David and Solomon reigns.

> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois

Karl W. Randolph.

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list