[b-hebrew] Robert Alter on Joseph

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Sat Jul 25 17:52:01 EDT 2009



On Sat, Jul 25, 2009 at 12:51 PM, <JimStinehart at aol.com> wrote:

> Rev. Bryant J. Williams III:
> I would never impugn anyone's religious beliefs, whatever they may be.  It
> would have been fine if Karl had said that it is Karl’s religious belief
> that Terakh and Ishmael lived miraculously long lives by grace of God.  But
> Karl did not say that.  Here is what Karl said:
> “Is this history or not? If history, then this is evidence that for
> whatever
> reason, people's lives have been getting shorter.”
> If I understand the plain meaning of those words, Karl is asserting that
> people in general in the historical Bronze Age lived to much older ages
> than
> people do today:  “people’s lives have been getting shorter.”

Oh, how long did Pepy II of the sixth dynasty reign? Was it 95, or only 94
years, after he ascended the throne at about age 20–25? Doesn’t that put him
in the same range as Moses, who lived 120 years? And don’t forget the first
vizier of Egypt, lived to the age of 110.

>  But that is
> demonstrably false, in secular history, and hence it is an inappropriate
> assertion for the b-Hebrew list.

LOL! This discussion group was set up to discuss the language of Biblical
Hebrew, and for you to complain that history is off limits for this group,
when your whole argument from start to finish is based on history and none
on the language, … isn’t that a bit hypocritical?

BTW it is your “secular” history that doesn’t square with archeology, so in
this context I don’t think it out of place to point that out.

> I have no problem whatsoever with people believing in religious miracles.
> And I myself see the Patriarchal Age as being historical.  But it is not
> proper on the b-Hebrew list to assert that people in general in the
> historical
> Bronze Age aged more slowly than people do today, and that “people’s lives
> have been getting shorter.”  We know that such is not the case in secular
> history.  People in the ancient world had shorter lifespans than today, on
> average (though occasionally some individuals in the Bronze Age would live
> to
> as old an age as old people do today, but not older than today’s oldest
> people).

OK, back it up. Where are your documented references to back that up? Where
are your census records from the Bronze Age that demonstrate your claims?
And if they aged more slowly, how would you disprove it?

> If the historicity of the Patriarchal narratives depends upon the
> proposition that people in general in the historical Bronze Age aged more
> slowly than
> people do today, and that “people’s lives have been getting shorter”, then
> we’re sunk as to there being an historical Patriarchal Age.

LOL!  Isn’t this overstating it a bit?

> Ishmael would not be carried into exile on his mother Hagar's shoulder if
> Ishmael were an adult male in the ancient world, age 16 years in 12-month
> years.

Two of my sisters could have done that when their sons were 17, though not
very far which is exactly what Genesis says of Hagar.

>  Joseph would not be called a N(R/“boy” by the narrator and tattle on
> his older half-brothers if Joseph were an adult male in the ancient world,
> age 17 years in 12-month years.

I have already shown examples in the Bible where this claim is false, and
all you have is double-talk to try to back yourself up. This is a linguistic
question. That N(R is used of young men up into their 30s in the Bible puts
a lie to your claim.

>  Those are not “miracles”.  What kind of
> bizarre “miracles” would that be?  Rather, the Hebrew author is saying that
> Ishmael had witnessed 13 total New Years when he was circumcised (3 years,
> in
> 12-month years, before Ishmael was exiled), and that Joseph had witnessed
> 17
> total New Years when he was helping his older half-brothers (by his
> father’s
> minor wives) tend the flock.  Total New Years includes both fall New Years
> and spring New Years in the Patriarchal narratives, in my controversial
> view.  I agree with your analysis of the Hebrew and Jewish calendars.  But
> one
> consequence of having both a 12-month calendar that begins in the fall, and
> a
> second 12-month calendar that begins in the spring, is that a New Year
> celebration then occurs every 6 months.  It is my contention that the
> Hebrew
> author of the Patriarchal narratives adopted the daring, unique gambit of
> increasing everyone’s age in the text by one “year” at every New Year,
> including
> not only fall New Years, but also spring New Years as well.  That is my
> controversial, unique theory of the case.

It is controversial precisely because it is false.  You have yet to show a
shred of contemporary (to the Bronze Age) evidence that that was the case.
All you have are speculations based on evidence millinnia after the events,
projected back onto those events and then you claim they are fact. That dawg
don’t hunt.

> I would never impugn anyone's religious beliefs.

Besides you, who said anything about religious beliefs?

>  But the b-Hebrew list is
> not an appropriate forum for anyone to assert that “people’s lives have
> been getting shorter”.  That is a demonstrably false proposition in secular
> history, regardless of whether or not there may have been divine miracles
> from
> time to time in history.

If it’s demonstrably false, then why haven’t you demonstrated it yet?

> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois

I couldn’t help but laugh out loud (literally) when I read this posting, so
I pointed out some of the places where I did so.

But seriously, it’s secular history that’s in trouble, precisely because it
does not square with the findings of archeology, nor other histories. The
first challenges to your beloved “secular history” came from secularists
like Velikovski (I disagree with much of his claims) but the latest
challenges are coming from within the secular historian community itself.

BTW how do you explain the long lives listed in Genesis 11? Shem 602?
Shelach 433? Serug 230? And all the others in that list?

Karl W. Randolph.

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