[b-hebrew] Is "Kiriath Arbe" in Genesis an Historically-Documented City Name?

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Oct 16 15:24:23 EDT 2008

1.  You wrote:  “When were the Tell Amarna letters written? According to 
secular historians, it could have been as late as the 11th to 10th century BC.  
The surviving
 Egyptian records are so poor as far as their dating that we cannot be sure.  
That's Israel's early monarchic period.”
The Amarna Letters were written in the mid-14th century BCE.  We know that 
because of the many historical rulers they reference, all of whom lived in the 
mid-14th century BCE.  Akhenaten was the strange pharaoh, Suppilliliuma was the 
fearsome Hittite king, etc., etc.  Based on the substantive content of the 
Amarna Letters, it’s clear that this was not Israel’s early monarchic period.  
That came later.
2.  You wrote:  “When Moses compiled Genesis during the middle bronze age, he 
included linguistic and literary clues that he used older documents to 
compile the
 book, specifically literary clues that indicate an early bronze age date for
 the source documents. As such, Genesis is the most extensive surviving
 record of early bronze age Canaan in existence, by far, at a time when
 highland Canaan (where Hebron, Kiryat Arba and the Oaks of Mamre were
 located) was a largely unpopulated backwater well away from the trade routes
 of the time, mostly ignored by the great empires of its day, whether Ebla
 and its successors to the north, or Egypt to the south. Therefore, it is
 highly unlikely that these names should show up in early bronze age
 documents from those empires, so unlikely that I would be, frankly, very
 surprised if even one of them is found. But their absence in empire
 documents does not mean absence of the names among the locals, as I
 indicated in an earlier message.”
There is nothing in the text of Genesis to support your traditional view that 
either the Patriarchs’ “Hebron”, or Kiryat Arba, or what you translate as “
Oaks of Mamre” were located in “highland Canaan”, rather than in the 
northeastern corner of the Shephelah.  The only city name that matches that 
traditional view at all is that beginning in the 8th century BCE, but not before, the 
city 20 miles south of Jerusalem took on the new name of “Hebron”.  
As an expert in Biblical Hebrew, you know how many, many times the words “up”
 and “hill” appear in the Patriarchal narratives and in the rest of the 
Bible, and how many times in the rest of the Bible one or both of those words are 
applied to the city of Hebron, south of Jerusalem.  But in the Patriarchal 
narratives, no one is ever said to go “up” to the Patriarchs’ “Hebron”, nor is 
the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” ever linked with a “hill” or “hill” country.  That’
s because the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” was located in the northeastern 
Shephelah, not in the high hill country south of Jerusalem.
Other than the name “Hebron”, there is  n-o-t-h-i-n-g  in the text of the 
Patriarchal narratives that suggests that the Patriarchs were buried in the high 
hill country south of Jerusalem.
3.  You wrote:  “Therefore, looking at the uncertain dates of the Egyptian 
records, connected with an analysis of what Genesis actually says, leads to the 
 (chips falling where they may) that your theory has no support in either 
historical or linguistic realms.”
On the contrary, it’s mainstream scholars who have been unable to match a 
single place, where the Patriarchs are portrayed as sojourning, to the historical 
name of any pre-8th century BCE locale south of Shechem.  In fact, in most of 
the 15 such places, scholars have been unable to match the names to any 
historical names attested prior to Roman times!   I by contrast match all 15 such 
places to historical names of historical cities or regions throughout Late 
Bronze Age Canaan (including several sites in Galilee).
By verifying the misunderstood historical geography of the Patriarchal 
narratives, I am trying to confirm, rather than to undermine, the historicity of the 
Patriarchal narratives.
Typical is my match of Kiriath Arbe to a well-known Late Bronze Age city in 
the Aijalon Valley, as I will post tomorrow.
4.  You wrote:  “By the way, I do not accept that the Documentary Hypothesis 
(JEPD Theory) has a shred of trustworthiness (for the record).”
I agree!  That is, regarding the JEPD theory as applied to the Patriarchal 
At least we agree on something.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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