[b-hebrew] Joshua 15: 52-59: Hill Country Cities?

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Jan 2 15:52:09 EST 2009

1.  You wrote:  “Whereas Yigal Levin is "mainstream", I am historical in that 
I accept Joshua as a source that pre-dates Thutmosis III. But at the same 
time I recognize
 that my main contribution to this discussion is linguistic and literary, not
 archaeology. As such, I am willing to defer to those who have on the ground
 archaeological experience unless there is clear evidence to the contrary,
 which you also don't have.”
Let me first state that, although I disagree with Prof. Yigal Levin’s 
mainstream scholarly view of the city list at Joshua 15: 48-60, I well realize both 
that (i) Prof. Levin’s view is very mainstream and enjoys tremendous scholarly 
support (rather than Prof. Levin’s view being idiosyncratic, etc.), and (ii) 
we on the b-hebrew list are extremely fortunate (especially me) to have a 
moderator who is one of the best-informed persons there is on the critical subject 
of identifying Biblical cities in southern Canaan.  But having said that, 
please re-read Prof. Yigal Levin’s posts on this thread.  Prof. Levin has not 
cited any archaeological evidence.  Rather, if I understand Prof. Levin’s posts 
(which of course is not certain), Prof. Levin seems to be relying in large part 
on an analysis of  m-o-d-e-r-n  Arabic names of  m-o-d-e-r-n  Arabic towns to 
say that (i) each and every city listed at Joshua 15: 52-59 is located in hill 
country, and that (ii) this Joshua city list is “late”.  Jim Stinehart is 
citing the mid-15th century BCE Thutmosis III list to back up the historicity 
and antiquity of the city list at Joshua 15: 48-60, whereas Prof. Levin is, by 
sharp contrast, relying in large part (I think) on m-o-d-e-r-n  Arabic names of 
 m-o-d-e-r-n  Arabic towns to contradict Jim Stinehart’s assertions.  For the 
benefit of people who either did not read, or who forgot, Prof. Levin’s 
mainstream scholarly statements on this subject, here is a much-shortened version 
of what he said:
“Identifying biblical sites by their names being preserved in modern Arabic 
is a well-established procedure, which is…[based]…on continuity of settlement 
by speakers of Semitic languages through history, who passed the names, often 
without understanding them, from Canaanite to Hebrew to Aramaic to Arabic. 
True, this does not work in all cases, and many false identifications have been 
made in the past, but the fact that there just happens to be a village named 
Halhul in just the area which MOST people who have read Josh. 15 and know the 
land think that it must be, is probably not just a coincidence. If it looks like 
a duck, quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck, it probably is a duck.”
(For fear that I may be quoting Prof. Levin out of context, and/or 
misunderstanding Prof. Levin’s actual views on these subjects, I urge everyone to please 
re-read Prof. Levin’s post in its entirety.)
2.  You wrote:  “From a literary viewpoint, when the context says that the 
cities were in the hills, they were in the hills. Your theory is controversial 
precisely because it violates the linguistic and literary structure of the 
texts involved. Whether the text is historically accurate or not is beyond the 
purview of this group - Yigal says it is not, I say it is - but the linguistic, 
contextual and literary structure clearly places all these towns in the 
highlands. I have no choice but to reject your theory on that basis
 alone.  (Remember, B-Hebrew is not a site to argue about history, but to 
discuss the
 language and literature of Biblical Hebrew.  But where a theory has a 
literary and/or linguistic aspect to it, we may discuss that literary and/or 
linguistic aspect.)”
That is a key issue here.  As I read Joshua 15: 48-60, the text explicitly 
says that the cities listed at Joshua 15: 48-51 are located in hill country.  By 
sharp contrast, the text is silent as to the precise location of the cities 
listed at Joshua 15: 52-60.  I note that a majority of scholars, probably 
including Prof. Levin himself (based on what he said in his post), see “Rabbah” at 
Joshua 15: 60 as  n-o-t  being located in hill country (or at least as fairly 
likely not being located in hill country), but rather being the major city of 
Rubutu, located in the south-central portion of the low-lying Aijalon Valley 
in the low-lying northern Shephelah.  If scholars are quite willing to concede 
that a city listed at Joshua 15: 60 quite likely is not located in, or even 
very near, hill country, then on what “linguistic and literary structure” do 
you base your view that every single city listed at Joshua 15: 52-59 is 
necessarily portrayed as being located in hill country?
3.  You wrote:  “You are just plain illogical.  If the Bible is the most 
 record of the Bronze Age, then you have to admit that Abraham lived in the 
early bronze age, that the exodus took place during the middle bronze age, and 
so forth, because that's what the text explicitly says when correlated to 
modern nomenclature.”
The secular historical evidence points to the Patriarchal Age as being the 
Late Bronze Age.  I realize that, on your view, that would not allow enough time 
for an Exodus.  I have no expertise on the Exodus, and I do not post on the 
I am not being “illogical”, simply because my views differ from yours.  As I 
see it, the Patriarchal narratives have pinpoint historical accuracy in a 
Late Bronze Age secular historical context.  That’s what I am saying.  Whether or 
not there ever was an historical Exodus is for you and others to decide.
4.  You wrote:  “Another practice where you do the same things as the ‘
mainstream scholars’ is to assume that place names were unique, that other cities 
or places did
 not have the same or similar names. It is that presupposition that makes 
many people claim that the reference to Dan in Genesis 14:14 is an anachronism….”
On the contrary, I agree with your analysis of that issue.
Let me cite another important example of that.  More than one place was 
called “Qadesh” in the ancient world.  Genesis 20: 1 makes complete sense if the “
Qadesh” referenced there is the historical Qadesh in Upper Galilee.  But 
scholars insist that Genesis 20: 1 is referencing a fictional “Qadesh”, deep in 
the Negev Desert near the Sinai Desert, even though scholars admit that no 
historical document from prior to the common era ever references any place named “
Qadesh” in that location.
Indeed, my #1 concern these days is to establish that the Patriarchs’ “Hebron
” is a completely different place than King David’s city of Hebron south of 
Jerusalem.  If we look at what the Bible says, and what historical documents 
from prior to the common era say, while largely ignoring post-Biblical comments 
by analysts of the Bible, we can verify that not a single Biblical author 
thought that the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” was the same place as King David’s city 
of Hebron.
5.  You wrote:  “[T]he listing of a city name on Thutmosis' list could very 
well refer to
 a similarly named place in a different area than among those cities given to 
Judah. Thus it is illogical to insist that similarly name places in 
Thutmosis' list and Joshua's list of cities assigned to Judah must refer to the same 
On this thread, I am documenting among other things that all 7 city names at 
items #100 - #106 on the Thutmosis III list are names of cities or towns in 
the Aijalon Valley.  It is logical to assume that some of the cities in the 
Aijalon Valley area are portrayed by Joshua as being assigned to Judah, even 
though we are certain that Gezer and the city of Aijalon are not portrayed in that 
fashion.  As to whether two different places might have the same name, a lot 
depends on how unusual the city name is.  On the one hand,  “Rubutu”/“Arab”/“
Rabbah” is such an extremely common name, meaning “Great City”, that it is 
little surprise that at least 3 different places had that same name.  By sharp 
contrast, “Magaroth” and “Halhul” and “Jokdeam” are strange names.  If those 
three strange names of obscure small towns in the area of the Aijalon Valley 
match between the Thutmosis III list and Joshua 15: 52-59, that strongly 
confirms my point that the city list at Joshua 15: 52-59 is not “late”, contrary 
to the views of mainstream scholars.  That is precisely the reason I am 
spending quite a bit of time on these obscure, “unimportant” cities that went 
extinct either in the Late Bronze Age or early in the Iron Age.  It is precisely 
tiny places like that, with unique names, that can be used to prove the great 
antiquity of a Biblical passage, despite the current unanimous position of 
university scholars to the contrary.
6.  You wrote:  “In conclusion, do you claim that the story of Abraham is a 
distorted set of legends from the 14th century BC Aijelon, or a true history of 
18th to 19th
 centuries Canaan?”
Neither.  The Patriarchal Age is the 14th century BCE.  The Patriarchal 
narratives have extraordinary, pinpoint historical accuracy in a Late Bronze Age 
secular historical context.  The Patriarchs’ “Hebron” is the Aijalon Valley.  
Every single Biblical author, as opposed to post-Biblical analysts, knew that 
the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” was not the same physical place as the city of 
Hebron, and most of the Biblical authors probably knew that the Patriarchs’ “Hebron”
 was either the Aijalon Valley, or at least was in or near the northern 
The Patriarchal narratives are not “distorted”.
The Patriarchal narratives are not “legends”.
But on my view, there is nothing about Canaan in the 19th to 18th centuries 
BCE in the Patriarchal narratives.
7.  You wrote:  “Your present theory that the Bible is accurate but talks 
about 14th century BC Aijelon makes no sense, as it is illogical to claim that 
the text is both highly accurate and a distorted legend.”
Karl, I know you are being honest and sincere, and you are not deliberately 
trying to distort what my controversial view of the Patriarchal narratives is.  
Yet you still, at this late date, do not understand my basic position.  I do 
not claim to know anything about the Exodus.  I do not claim that my view of 
the Patriarchal narratives “leaves room” for an historical Exodus.  I never 
post about the Exodus.  Rather, my position is that the Patriarchal narratives 
are very closely based on what actually happened in the 14th century BCE in 
secular history, and that the Patriarchal narratives were also composed in that 
same time period.
It is fine for you to point out, for the umpteenth time, that my view of the 
Patriarchal narratives conflicts with your view of both the Exodus and the 
Patriarchs, in that my view does not leave room for the Exodus that you posit.  
But I am not being “illogical”.  I am defending the historical integrity of 
the Patriarchal narratives, in a 14th century BCE historical time period, while 
not vouching for, or saying anything about, the Exodus.  That is not 
illogical.  It may be wrong, but it is not illogical.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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