[b-hebrew] Year 14

Joel C. Salomon joelcsalomon at gmail.com
Thu Oct 22 13:57:40 EDT 2009

JimStinehart at aol.com wrote:
> If we cannot discuss a 6-month “year”, I wonder if we may instead be 
> allowed to discuss the apparent Biblical reference to Year 14, being one of the 
> most important 12-month years in mankind’s history?  Here is what Genesis 14: 
> 5 says:

Let’s take a look at the text, shall we?

‏ויהי בימי אמרפל מלך שנער אריוך מלך אלסר כדרלעמר מלך עילם ותדעל מלך גוים‎
‏עשו מלחמה את ברע מלך סדם ואת ברשע מלך עמרה שנאב מלך אדמה ושמאבר מלך
צביים ומלך בלע היא צער‎
‏כל אלה חברו אל עמק השדים הוא ים המלח‎
‏שתים עשרה שנה עבדו את כדרלעמר ושלש עשרה שנה מרדו‎
‏ובארבע עשרה שנה בא כדרלעמר והמלכים אשר אתו ויכו …‎

“[ויהי] in the days of ’Amrafel king of Shin‘ar, …
“They made war with Bera‘ kind of Sodom, …
“These all, joined, [came] to the valley of Siddim, i.e., the Salt Sea.
“Twelve years they served Chedorla‘omer, and in the thirteenth year they
“And in the fourteenth year Chedorla‘omer and the kings that were with
him came and smote …”

Note that none of the numbers have the definite “ה” before them in the
Hebrew; the articles in “the thirteenth year” & “the fourteenth year”
are artifacts of translation.  (There is therefore a possible rendering
of verse 3, “… and thirteen years they rebelled”.)


> Is the Biblical reference to “the fourteenth year” there a reference to 
> historical Year 14?  The number 14 never appears elsewhere in the Patriarchal 
> narratives.  The number 14 seems to have no symbolic value.  Is this, then, 
> an open reference to Year 14 in secular history?

What calendar is this “Year 14” that you speak of?

> This is no “myth”.  No way.  No, this is pinpoint accurate secular 
> history, coming straight out of the Bronze Age.

I can buy that. Except that lacking mention of this war external to the
Bible (as <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Vale_of_Siddim>
implies) we can’t use this to date anything.

I don’t get what point you’re trying to make.

—Joel Salomon

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