[b-hebrew] Eastern Galilee

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Apr 13 10:00:47 EDT 2009

George Athas wrote:  “[P]lease engage in a methodologically appropriate way.
O.K., let’s ask whether GRR/Gerar in the Patriarchal narratives may be 
referencing northern Canaan (rather than southwest Judah as traditionally 
thought), by examining
what scholars say as to whether KRR at item #80 on the mid-15th century BCE 
Tuthmosis III list (“T III list”) may be GRR/“Gerar” in northern Canaan.  
[In asking whether the first two geographical references at Genesis 20: 1 
(NGB and QD$) are Late Bronze Age cities in eastern Galilee in northern 
Canaan (per my prior post), one critical issue is whether the fourth geographical 
reference at Genesis 20: 1, “Gerar”/GRR, means “Galilee”/GLL/GLYL in a 
Late Bronze Age context, or at least is a rough equivalent to the later notion 
of Galilee, in northern Canaan.]
In 1907, German scholar W.M. Muller argued that KRR at item #80 on the 
Thutmosis III list (which Yigal Levin and some other scholars see as being 
GLYL/Galilee in northern Canaan) is Biblical “Gerar”/GRR.  W.M. Muller, Die 
Palastinaliste Thutmosis III.  Mitteilungen der Vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft 
(1907) Eingetragener Verein.  12.  Jahrgang.  Berlin:  Wolf Peiser Verlag, at 
p. 24.  (See the Internet site and modern scholarly commentary referenced 
immediately below.)
In 2006, Finnish scholar Eero Kalevi Junkkaala considered this old German 
scholarly view of KRR as being GRR/Gerar, along with other more recent 
scholarly views of KRR, without coming to any definite conclusion: 
“Muller argues that the name [KRR at item #80] could be identified as 
Gerar, but it is also possible to consider Galal.  Helck is suspect about this 
reading of the name, but does not give any other suggestion.  Aharoni reads 
the name as Galil….”  “Three Conquests of Canaan” (2006), Abo Akedemi 
University Press, Biskopsgatan, Finland, at p. 165, a book that is reproduced on 
the Internet at:  
I realize that Prof. Muller’s view that KRR = GRR/Gerar is “old”.  But 
that view has been looked at by many fine scholars over the last 100 years, and 
has never really been refuted.  KRR on the Thutmosis III list is located in 
northern Canaan, and is a perfect linguistic match to GRR/Gerar.  (Egyptian 
K can be gimel/G, as in MKT on the T III list being MGDW (Megiddo) in 
Hebrew, and most scholars, including Yigal Levin, view the Egyptian K in KRR as 
being gimel/G;  Egyptian R can be resh/R or lamed/L.)  The problem is that 
despite the apparent linguistic match, scholars have been unwilling to 
question the Ezra era view (discussed later in this post) that Gerar is portrayed 
in the Patriarchal narratives as being located in southwest Judah.  In fact, 
there is no inscriptional support whatsoever from the secular history of the 
ancient world for the Ezra era view (which is identical to the modern 
scholarly view as to geographical locations), under which the locales of NGB, QD$ 
and GRR at Genesis 20: 1 are viewed as being in southwest Judah.  By sharp 
contrast, there are secular historical inscriptions from the Late Bronze Age 
to document an historical northern Canaan locale for each and every one of 
NGB, (unpointed) QD$, and GRR at Genesis 20: 1.  
As to the question of GRR vs. GLYL, which is the focus of this post, if, at 
the time of the composition of the Patriarchal narratives, either GRR or 
GLYL could have been used to reference northern Canaan, then it is no surprise 
that the author would opt for GRR (even if GLYL was already the more 
commonly used word), because of the clever Hebrew wordplay that results.  The 
first appearance of GRR in the Patriarchal narratives is at the end of Genesis 
20: 1, where the last few words are:  YGR B-GRR.  Note the nice play on GR, 
where “to sojourn” and “Gerar” in Hebrew both feature GR.  (As will be 
noted later in this post, GR is closely associated with northern Canaan in Late 
Bronze Age secular history.)
Whereas it is very possible that KRR may be an inscription from the Late 
Bronze Age attesting Gerar/GRR as being a rough equivalent of Galilee/GLL/GLYL 
in northern Canaan, it is widely acknowledged by scholars that there is no 
Gerar attested anywhere near Gaza in any ancient inscription:
“Gerar is never mentioned in any non-biblical source and its role as the 
principal city in the western Negeb during the ‘ancestral period’ is fraught 
with difficulties.”  Anson Rainey, “The Sacred Bridge” (2006), at p. 114.
Note in particular that Joshua never mentions “Gerar”, even though (i) 
hundreds of towns in southern Canaan are recorded on the Joshua city lists, 
(ii) we know from Genesis 26: 1-6 that Gerar is definitely in Canaan, and (iii) 
scholars recognize that many of the city names in Joshua are Late Bronze 
Age names.  That indicates that no “Gerar” was known as a city in southern 
Canaan in the Iron Age.
In his fine article on the boundaries of the land of Canaan and 
Kadesh-barnea, Yigal Levin never mentions Gerar.  “Numbers 34: 2-12, The Boundaries of 
the Land of Canaan, and the Empire of Necho”, in “Journal of the Ancient 
Near Eastern Society”, Vol. 30 (2006), pp. 55-76.  That’s because no Biblical 
author ever links Kadesh-barnea to Gerar, even though both such places are 
traditionally viewed as being located near the southwest border of Canaan.  
Outside of Genesis 20: 1, no Biblical author ever links QD$ to Gerar either. 
 (In fact, contra Yigal Levin’s view in that article, QD$ at Genesis 20: 1 
has nothing to do with Kadesh-barnea south of Gaza.  Rather, despite the 
medieval pointing done in the Middle Ages, QD$ at Genesis 20: 1 is an 
historical Late Bronze Age city in Gerar/Galilee, in eastern Upper Galilee in 
northern Canaan.) 
It was in the Ezra era, in post-exilic times, that II Chronicles 14: 13-14 
presents Gerar as being located between Judah and Egypt, presumably on the 
far southwest corner of Judah (since Gerar is explicitly stated at Genesis 
26: 1-6 to be in Canaan).  That geographical claim (which is the substantive 
basis for the later medieval pointing of QD$ at Genesis 20: 1) is made in a 
passage that has no equivalent in either secular history or the rest of the 
Bible.  There is no non-religious reason to give historical credence to that 
very late assertion in Chronicles, especially since the story told there has 
no basis whatsoever in secular history or in the rest of the Bible.  (In 
this post, I will not discuss Genesis 10: 19, which is the only other mention 
of Gerar in the Bible outside of the Patriarchal narratives.)
When we compare GRR, NGB and (unpointed) QD$ in Genesis 20: 1 to the 
mid-15th century BCE T III list and Ugaritic sources and the Amarna Letters, we 
come to see that GRR/Gerar is not a fictional name of a fictional town in 
southwest Canaan.  Rather, GRR/Gerar is an earlier or alternative version of the 
historical name of some ill-defined region in northern Canaan, whose later 
name, in the Iron Age and thereafter, was GLL/GLYL/Galilee.  GRR is the 
linguistic equivalent of KRR on the T III list, and given its location on the T 
III list, item #80 KRR must be referencing a town or region in northern 
Canaan.  (Note Yigal Levin’s view that KRR on the T III list is Galilee.)  In 
Ugaritic literature, the eastern part of Galilee is sometimes referred to as 
GR.  George A. Barton, “Danel, a Pre-Israelite Hero of Galilee”, in “Journal 
of Biblical Literature”, Vol. 60, No. 3 (Sept., 1941), pp. 216-218, 225.  
In the Amarna Letters, Garu or ga-ri, whose key consonants are G-R, at Amarna 
Letter EA 256: 23 appears to consist of cities in or fairly near Galilee, 
including Yanoam just south of the Sea of Galilee, and Anaharath a few miles 
southwest of Yanoam.  Although GRR and both versions of GR are ill-defined 
at this early point in time, all of them seem to include at least part of 
eastern Galilee.  (The view of Wm. Moran, the editor of the Amarna Letters, 
that “Garu” is not GR, but rather is a “scribal error” for Biblical Geshur, 
is untenable special pleading, being against all the manifest weight of the 
geographical evidence, despite the fact that at least on occasion it has been 
taken seriously by scholars such as B. Mazar, “Geshur and Maacah”, in “
Journal of Biblical Literature”, Vol. 80, No. 1 (Mar. 1961), at p. 20.)  In any 
event, one thing that is clear is that  n-o-r-t-h-e-r-n  Canaan is always 
front and center when it comes to GRR or GR as geographical place names in 
ancient times;  neither GRR nor either version of GR ever includes southern 
Canaan, much less any locale south of Gaza.  It is possible that GRR in the 
Late Bronze Age was a vague reference to what we today might term “Greater 
Eastern Galilee” or “the Greater Northwest Jordan River Valley”.  Though GRR 
and GR at that early time were likely nowhere near to being a close match to 
the precise Roman Era concept of Galilee, nevertheless the focus is always 
on northern Canaan, and at least part of eastern Galilee is always included 
in GRR or GR.  Whereas it is easy to find somewhat ambiguous references in 
the Late Bronze Age to GRR or GR referring to some ill-defined portion of  
n-o-r-t-h-e-r-n  Canaan -- on the T III list, in Ugaritic literature, and in 
the Amarna Letters, one never finds GRR or GR referenced anywhere near or 
south of Gaza prior to the common era.  Based on the foregoing examples from 
secular history, it seems clear that prior to the Babylonian Captivity and the 
Ezra era, the Hebrew letters GRR in the Patriarchal narratives would have 
connoted “north” to a southern Hebrew audience, that is, an ill-defined 
region somewhere in northern Canaan that may be roughly comparable to Galilee.
Scholars W.M. Muller and Yigal Levin are  b-o-t-h  correct, in my 
controversial opinion, as to KRR on the T III list.  KRR on the T III list is 
GRR/Gerar, per W.M. Muller,  a-n-d  KRR on the T III list is also GLL/GLYL/Galilee, 
per Yigal Levin.  GRR at Genesis 20: 1 is referring to a Late Bronze Age 
historical name of an historical region in northern Canaan, not a fictional 
name of a fictional city in southwest Judah.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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