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

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Thu Oct 16 16:57:19 EDT 2008


On Thu, Oct 16, 2008 at 12:24 PM, <JimStinehart at aol.com> wrote:

> Karl:
> 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.
> Sorry, Jim—while this is not directly connected to B-Hebrew, it does aid in
understanding some of the passages—there is disagreement among secular
historians as to the dates of all the personages you mention. For you to
ignore that is poor scholarship on your part.

From the text of Exodus, it is clear that the pharaoh that Moses dealt with
was either Hyksos or the last pharaoh prior to the Hyksos invasion. None of
the later pharaohs fit that picture. From that alone, it is impossible for
the Tell Amarna letters to date from the patriarchal period.

> 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".
> Again you are doing violence to the text. The Oaks of Mamre overlooked the
southern Jordan Valley. Where exactly that place was, we don't know, but it
was clearly in what later became southern Judea. There is no other way to
read the text.

And your insistence on the 8th century BC date for the founding of Hebron
ignores too many other factors, therefore it is untenable.

> 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.
> Didn't need to say "going up to" when "going to" is sufficient.

You have absolutely no evidence for your claim that it was in a different
place originally. Add to that that place names often show a persistence over
time, even across languages, making it highly unlikely that other places
originally had the names now born by historical Hebron and Kiryat Arba.

> 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.
> Already that's plenty. Add to that Kiryat Arba with the names often
interchangeable for the same place. More evidence than you have for your
screwy theory.

> 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
> conclusion
>  (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).
> Just because a person is a mainstream scholar does not mean that he is
right. In fact, there's so much evidence to question the mainstream
scholarly dates that for you to hang on to them could hang you.

And for yet another time, the fact that Judea south of Jerusalem was largely
agrarian, even pastoral, and distant from trade routes, makes it no surprise
that place names there were not of interest to other countries' historians,
therefore not mentioned. How could it be otherwise?

> 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.
> There's an old saying, "With friends like these, who need enemies?" By
twisting the narrative to one that is almost unrecognizable according to the
text, you undermine the historicity of the 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
> narratives.
> Not only to the patriarchal narratives, but to all.

> At least we agree on something.
> Barely.

> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois

Again you ignore the literary style preserved in Genesis that indicates an
early bronze age date for the patriarchal narratives.

Karl W. Randolph.

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