[b-hebrew] Robert Alter on Joseph

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Jul 24 17:00:06 EDT 2009


Karl:
 
1.  You wrote:  “I’m still waiting for primary source data.”
 
O.K., if you insist, I’ll type up a synopsis of some primary source data 
from Ugarit about Late Bronze Age calendars and New Years in greater Canaan:
 
“…king Krt had to bake bread during the fifth and the sixth months for his 
campaign against Udm.  Thus it is likely that the campaign started in the 
seventh month.  After a week’s march his army encounters firewood gatherers…
..  As the gathering of firewood took place in September and early October 
it is almost certain that…refer to a year beginning about the time of the 
vernal equinox….Whereas the Ugarit cultic year appears to begin in autumn and 
the civil year in the spring….”  Mark E. Cohen, “The Cultic Calendars of the 
Ancient Near East” (1993), CDL Press, Bethesda, Maryland, at pp. 377-378, 
quoting J.C. de Morr, “The Seasonal Pattern in the Ugaritic Myth of Ba’lu”, 
AOAT 16, 61-62
 
2.  You wrote:  “Ugarit doesn’t count. 1) It is outside of Canaan 2) 
Dating, it could have dated from as late as a thousand years after the patriarchs.
”
 
(1)  As to geography, Ugarit is just north of Lebanon, and as such is in 
greater Canaan.  Ugarit is the  o-n-l-y  place where we have substantial 
written materials (excluding the Patriarchal narratives) from Bronze Age greater 
Canaan.
 
(2)  We’re discussing my theory of the case, which holds that the 
Patriarchal Age is the Late Bronze Age.  So the dating of Ugarit is perfect.
 
3.  You wrote:  “Where do you get your two basic meanings for N(R? Show 
Bible passages. Infact, some of the passages you mention argue against your 
theory.”
 
Meaning #1 of N(R is Genesis 37: 2.  It means “boy”.  It would apply to a 
named individual who is a male age 2 – 15. 
 
Meaning #2 of N(R is Genesis 22: 19.  It refers to unnamed mere servants, 
who are often in their late teens, but could have a broad age range, prior to 
middle age.
 
4.  You wrote:  “So Benjamin was only 15 when he already had at least seven 
sons, not
 counting daughters? That’s pushing it, even for regular years. Genesis 
46:21.”
 
Chapter 46 of Genesis is a convenient place for the author of the 
Patriarchal narratives to record every son and grandson of Jacob (plus a handful of 
other people), including Jacob’s grandsons who were born in Egypt, after the 
Hebrews moved to Egypt.  All of Benjamin’s sons were born in Egypt, after 
the Hebrews had moved to Egypt.  Benjamin is age 15 years at this time.  It is 
obvious from the preceding text that when the Hebrews moved to Egypt, 
Benjamin was not yet married, much less that he had already sired 10 sons.
 
5.  You wrote:  “I am still waiting for primary source data.”
 
(a)  As to Biblical material, anything not in the Patriarchal narratives is 
going to post-date the Patriarchal Age by at least 700 years.
 
(b)  As to texts from the secular history of Bronze Age greater Canaan, we’
re basically limited to Ugarit for any extensive material.  I am reluctant 
to spend too much time typing up snippets of Ugaritic documents, since you 
have already stated that you will not accept anything from Ugarit.  The rest 
of us are interested in what light the Ugaritic material may throw on the 
Patriarchal narratives.
 
6.  Karl, may I ask you why you are trying so hard to back up the scholarly 
view that the ages of the Patriarchs make no sense on any level?  Does it 
make historical sense to think that the Hebrew author of the Patriarchal 
narratives is presenting Abraham’s father Terakh as living to age 205 years, in 
12-month years?
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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