[b-hebrew] Genesis 41: 1: "Two Years of Days"

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Jul 16 10:02:23 EDT 2009


James Christian:
 
The farther one goes back in history, the earlier the age at which a boy 
became a man.  For the tent-dwelling Hebrews in ancient Canaan, a male Hebrew 
age 13 regular years was definitely a man, not a boy.
 
Now let’s consider the stated ages of Joseph and Ishmael at death.  Joseph 
is stated twice to be age 110 “years” at death.  Genesis 50: 22, 26  
Moreover, all 10 of Joseph’s older half-brothers lived to an age over 110 “years”
.  In the ancient world, that would have been impossible, and indeed would 
be virtually impossible today as well, if the “years” in question are the 
12-month years that applied in Egypt and Mesopotamia (places that, unlike 
Canaan, had only one main harvest, and one New Year, every 12 months).
 
Some scholars say that these “prodigious” ages are intended to make the 
legendary Patriarchs look regal, like legendary Babylonian kings.  But it doesn
’t make beloved Joseph look regal if at Genesis 37: 2 the narrator calls 
Joseph a N(R/“boy” at age 17 years, if these are 12-month years.   And what 
about Ishmael?
 
Ishmael is stated to die at age 137 “years”.  Genesis 25: 17  If those are 
12-month years (Mesopotamian or Egyptian years), that is impossible.  Why 
would one think that the Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives wants to 
make exiled Ishmael look regal, like a mythical Babylonian king?
 
Note that the view that a person’s age in “years” means 12-month years in 
the Patriarchal narratives makes no sense on any level.  Joseph and Ishmael 
are too old to be called N(R in chapters 37 and 21 of Genesis, and Joseph 
and Ishmael die at ages that are way too old in the ancient world, if a “year”
 of a person’s stated age means a 12-month year.
 
But consider now if Ishmael is being stated to have witnessed 137 New Years 
in Canaan at the time of his death, counting both Canaan’s spring New Years 
and Canaan’s fall New Years, combined.  Then Ishmael dies at the reasonable 
age of 68½ regular years.  Likewise, on that view of the case, Joseph dies 
at the reasonable age of 55 regular years.
 
The fact that a male was an adult in the ancient world at age 13 years does 
not mean that a 13-year-old male should view that as the ideal time to 
marry and start earning his own livelihood.  The above website notes that the 
Talmud sees older ages as being the ideal ages for marrying, and for earning a 
livelihood.  But the Talmud recognizes that age 13 is the proper age for 
fulfillment of the Commandments.  That’s because a male entered into adulthood 
at age 13 in the ancient world, and was no longer a “boy”, no longer being 
a child.
 
So if people’s ages as set forth in the text reflect both fall New Years 
and spring New Years, combined, as is fitting for a composition that deals 
primarily with Canaan, then  a-l-l  ages in the Patriarchal narratives make 
perfect and total sense, on all levels.
 
Virtually no stated age in the last 40 chapters of Genesis (beginning at 
Genesis 11: 26) makes sense if people’s ages are being set forth the 
Mesopotamian way, when one counted a person’s age by how many spring New Years the 
person had witnessed.  But 100% of such stated ages make perfect sense, on all 
levels, if people’s ages are being set forth in the text in the Canaan way: 
 in terms of how many fall New Years and spring New Years, combined, the 
person had witnessed.
 
Check it out for yourself.  Every single stated age in the Patriarchal 
narratives makes perfect sense on that theory of the case.  The Patriarchal 
narratives are not akin to Babylonian yarns about mythically long-lived 
legendary Babylonian kings.  No way!
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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