[b-hebrew] Kadesh-barnea

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Apr 13 10:56:26 EDT 2010


Anson Rainey is the #1 Biblical geography expert in the world.  He has done 
us all a great service by putting the Akkadian cuneiform version of the 
Amarna Letters on-line, a resource I use frequently.  Many years ago he also 
published a fine article on the Rephaim being maryannu charioteers.  
 
But look at his map at p. 15 of “The Sacred Bridge” as to the peoples and 
places referenced at Genesis 14: 6-7.  It’s virtually identical to what 
would have been sketched out 500 years ago in any church, synagogue or mosque.  
Haven’t university scholars learned anything about Genesis 14: 6-7 in the 
last 500 years?
 
1.  Horites
 
Rainey shows the Biblical Horites as being an unattested people south of 
the Dead Sea, rather than being the historical Hurrians in the Transjordan in 
the Late Bronze Age.  Here’s Rainey’s comment about this issue:
 
“The Horites (HXRYM) are the autochthonous dwellers of Mount Seir who were 
displaced by the descendants of Esau.  They can hardly have any association 
with the Hurrians of northern Mesopotamia or Syria.  The resemblance in 
names is strictly accidental.”  “The Sacred Bridge”, at p. 114.
 
As noted in a previous post, Genesis 14: 6 in fact does not refer to “Mt.” 
Seir, which rather is the reference at the very late Genesis 36: 8-9, using 
HR as a two-letter singular word for “Mt.”.  Rather, at Genesis 14: 6 the 
reference is to the “hill country”/HRRM, a four-letter word that is plural, 
that is “hairy”/“well-wooded”/Seir.  In Biblical times, the land in 
west-central Transjordan north and south of the city of Seir/Jazer was famous for 
being “well-wooded”/Seir “hill country”/HRRM.
 
And Rainey knows better than anyone else that Amarna Letter EA 197 from the 
Transjordan is chock-full of maryannu with Hurrian-type names.
 
2.  Amorites
 
Although university scholars claim that most of the Patriarchal narratives 
are “late”, nevertheless a majority of university scholars admit that 
chapter 14 of Genesis is extremely old, as we see in this comment by one of the 
leading scholarly commentators on the Patriarchal narratives:
 
“Gen 14 is usually considered a stray boulder within Genesis….  [T]he 
account antedates J.  …Generally it has been held that it does not belong to any 
of the usual pentateuchal sources, but that it comes from a special source. 
 Its annalistic style and international perspective set it apart from J, E, 
D, or P.  …[T]he chapter consists largely of pre-J material….  [I]t 
represents old tradition.  The presence of…some stylistic idiosyncrasies suggests 
that it may be based on an older written source.”  Gordon J. Wenham, “World 
Biblical Commentary:  Genesis 1-15” (1987), at pp. xxix, 306-307. 
 
But in the mid-2nd millennium BCE, when chapter 14 of Genesis was composed, 
everyone knew that the Amorites were prominent people in Late Bronze Age 
Lebanon, and were never found south of the Dead Sea.  Yet look at where Rainey 
places the Amorites of Genesis 14: 7 on his map:  south of the Dead Sea, in 
a locale where no Amorites ever lived.  I understand that authors of later 
books in the Bible did not know who the historical Amorites, now extinct, 
had been.  But why would the truly ancient chapter 14 of Genesis be thought 
not to know that the Late Bronze Age Amorites lived in Lebanon?
 
3.  South of the Dead Sea
 
Note that not a single people or place on Rainey’s map is attested in 
secular history south of the Dead Sea prior to Roman times. 
 
Why is it that no university scholar has ever looked at secular historical 
inscriptions from the Bronze Age north of the Dead Sea in evaluating Genesis 
14: 6-7?  Rainey, like all other university scholars, relies almost 
exclusively on later books in the Bible, written more than 500 years after chapter 
14 of Genesis, in identifying the peoples and places mentioned at Genesis 
14: 6-7, with all such peoples and places invariably, if totally 
non-historically, being placed south of the Dead Sea.  It is on that ultra-dubious basis 
that Rainey then confidently asserts that there is a “total lack of any link 
with known Ancient Near Eastern sources” for the military conflict reported 
in chapter 14 of Genesis.  “The Sacred Bridge”, at p. 114.
 
If university scholars are going to tell us over and over again that the “
four kings against five” is fictional, shouldn’t those university scholars 
be  r-e-q-u-i-r-e-d  to consider secular historical inscriptions from the 
Bronze Age north of the Dead Sea?  And shouldn’t they also consider that $WB at 
the beginning of Genesis 14: 7 may have the same meaning as it has 682 
other times in the Hebrew Bible, per HALOT at p. 1,429, instead of impossibly 
meaning “And then they made a very wide turn to the right (and proceeded into 
the Sinai Desert)”?
 
If we could get at least one university scholar to do that, it would create 
a renaissance in the scholarly analysis of the Patriarchal narratives.  The 
“four kings against five” would prove to have pinpoint historical 
accuracy, where the historical context is the Late Bronze Age, and the geographical 
locale is  n-o-r-t-h  of the Dead Sea (indeed as far north as Lebanon and 
even Syria).
 
There’s no QD$ or Kadesh-barnea attested by those names in the Sinai 
Desert.  There’s only one QD$ south of Syria that is historically attested by that 
name and that was worth attacking in the Bronze Age:  Qadesh of Upper 
Galilee.
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois



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