[b-hebrew] 1 Kings 20:14 Who are the young men, princes of the districts?

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Apr 30 10:35:44 EDT 2010

Dear Professor Yigal Levin:
You wrote:  “Please do not put words in my mouth. I have never claimed that 
Hazazon Tamar is the same as the Roman Tamar, at Hazevah south of the Dead 
Sea. In fact, if you look at 2 Chr. 20:2, you'll see Hazazon Tamar 
identified there with En Gedi, which makes perfect sense. This, however, does not 
make either Gen. 14 or 2 Chr. 20 ‘historical’.”
I certainly do not want to put words into anyone’s mouth, especially when 
such words undercut my own position.  Here is what you wrote on 2/15/10, and 
what I was referencing:
“Hazazon-Tamar in mentioned once more in the Bible, in 2
 Chr. 20:2, identified there with En-Gedi. En-Gedi, on the shore of the Dead
 Sea, is well-known, and one of the ravines in the area is called Wadi
 Hassassa. "Tamar" as a place-name, is attested (in the Bible and in
 "secular" Roman-period documents) as being south of the Dead Sea 
 at today's Hazevah).”
Did I misinterpret what you wrote on 2/15?  I thought you were agreeing 
with Anson Rainey and Israel Finkelstein, and seeing XCCN TMR at Genesis 14: 7 
as matching to the Roman-era village south of the Dead Sea, rather than 
matching to Ezra’s post-exilic II Chronicles 20: 2, which sees a XCCN TMR on the 
shore of the Dead Sea.  As I presume you know, the modern scholarly trend 
is to go with the Roman-era village, and abandon Ezra.
I guess what you literally said is that Tamar is a place-name that is “
 ’secular’ Roman-period documents as being south of the Dead Sea 
 at today's Hazevah)”.  You didn’t literally say that you match that 
village of Tamar with XCCN TMR at Genesis 14: 7.
So if I misinterpreted what you said on 2/15/10, I sincerely apologize.  
Based on what you said today, I understand now that you disagree with both 
Anson Rainey and Israel Finkelstein, who identify XCCN TMR at Genesis 14: 7 as 
being the Roman-era village Tamar, and instead you identify XCCN TMR at 
Genesis 14: 7 with Ezra’s post-exilic XCCN TMR of En-Gedi on the shore of the 
Dead Sea.
But why would you trust a post-exilic book of Ezra in identifying a 
geographical place name in a composition that many scholars see as dating all the 
long way back to the Late Bronze Age?  You are a well-known scholarly expert 
on Ezra.  Why would you, of all people, think that Ezra knew the identities 
of geographical place names in the truly ancient chapter 14 of Genesis?
As I mentioned in a prior post, many scholars point to many aspects of 
chapter 14 of Genesis that suggest the Late Bronze Age in general as the 
composition date, and the mid-14th century BCE in particular.  Without repeating 
that whole long post, let me briefly summarize that scholarly evidence I 
previously referenced that points to chapter 14 of Genesis as having been 
composed almost 1,000 years before Ezra’s post-exilic Chronicles:
The word XNYKYW at Genesis 14: 14, referring to Abraham's armed retainers, 
is not present in the secular record after the 15th century BCE, and is 
never used elsewhere in the Bible.  The word %DYM only appears in chapter 14 of 
HRRM is an archaic plural of HR or HRR that is only found in the Bible at 
Genesis 14: 6.   “[T]he number 318 in [Genesis] 14: 14 is analogous to the 
number of Hurrian handmaids plus the bride [from the Hurrian state of 
Naharim/Mitanni] in an Egyptian scarab of Amenhotep III”.  Gary A. Rendsburg.   The 
number 318 is the number of taxpaying citizens in Jerusalem (“porters”) 
referenced at Amarna Letter EA 287: 53-59 by Abdi-Heba.  Note also that both 
such aspects of the number 318 have a Hurrian connection, in the latter case 
because “Heba” is a Hurrian goddess.  Ezra knew nothing about the 
long-extinct Hurrians.  XCCN TMR makes perfect sense in Hurrian as meaning “the wisdom 
of nine”.  The Hurrians were only prominent in the Late Bronze Age, not 
earlier or later.  $N(R likewise makes perfect sense in Hurrian.  I disagree 
with Anson Rainey’s scribal error theory of a name similar to this inscribed 
on the inside of a chariot buried with Akhenaten’s grandfather, where absent 
a scribal error the meaning would be as I have asserted -- Syria, not 
southern Mesopotamia.  Finally, chapter 14 of Genesis concludes in vintage 
Ugaritic fashion (strongly influenced by the Hittites), circa the end of the first 
year of the Great Syrian War in the mid-14th century BCE, when Abraham 
promises not to take either “a string or a sandal lace” for returning Sodom’s 
looted goods.  In the context of the Hittites oppressing Ugarit and using this 
type of peculiar nomenclature, I quoted Victor P. Hamilton, “The Book of 
Genesis Chapters 1-17” (1990), at p. 414.  In the context of the Hittites 
oppressing the Hurrians and using this type of peculiar nomenclature found at 
the end of chapter 14 of Genesis, I quoted Yochanan Muffs, “Abraham the Noble 
Warrior:  Patriarchal Politics and Laws of War in Ancient Israel”, The 
Journal of Jewish Studies London, 1982, vol. 33, no. 1-2, at p. 84.
Prof. Yigal Levin, I presume you would agree that chapter 14 of Genesis 
contains bona fide Hurrian and Hittite names.  For example, “Tidal” is a Late 
Bronze Age Hittite name, and “Arioch” is a Late Bronze Age Hurrian name, 
just for starters.
With all those indications, noted by respectable mainstream scholars, that 
chapter 14 of Genesis is truly ancient, why then would you look to Ezra’s 
post-exilic Chronicles to identify XCCN TMR, instead of considering a Hurrian 
analysis of that name?  If chapter 14 of Genesis is as old as many scholars 
think it is, how can you see such an ancient text as being dead wrong as to 
the geographical locale of the Horites/Hurrians at Genesis 14: 6 and the 
Amorites at Genesis 14: 7?  By the way, I agree with you that the many parts of 
the Bible that were composed much later than chapter 14 of Genesis 
routinely get both the Horites and the Amorites wrong, but that’s because those 
parts of the Bible were composed, as I am quite sure you would agree, long after 
the Amorites and the Hurrians had gone extinct.
But that’s not the case for the truly ancient chapter 14 of Genesis.
Is there a “Big Secret” that university scholars are keeping from us?  Why 
look to a post-exilic work like Chronicles to identify a place referenced 
in the Late Bronze Age composition of chapter 14 of Genesis?  Why never ask 
what the )RYWK means, what )LSR means, or what XCCN TMR means, in various 
non-Semitic languages?  If, as you insist, chapter 14 of Genesis is not “
historical” (in a Late Bronze Age context concerning the Great Syrian War, which 
potentially threatened to wipe out the early Hebrews), then why the great 
scholarly reluctance to discuss those 3 non-Semitic names?  And why oh why do 
you trust Ezra, of all people, to identify peoples and places in the truly 
ancient chapter 14 of Genesis?  I understand why Karl trusts Ezra, but why do 
you, as a mainstream university scholar, see Ezra as being a good source for 
identifying peoples and places in chapter 14 of Genesis?  If you look at p. 
15 of Anson Rainey’s “The Sacred Bridge”, you can see that Rainey does not 
use Ezra to identify XCCN TMR.  If chapter 14 of Genesis is truly ancient, 
as many mainstream scholars think is indeed the case, then why would it 
place the Amorites non-historically south of the Dead Sea, immediately before a 
reference to a XCCN TMR that is never mentioned again in the Bible until Ezra
’s post-exilic Chronicles?
I will reiterate my 3-year-old plea for you to spend 20 minutes looking at 
Late Bronze Age historical inscriptions  n-o-r-t-h  of the Dead Sea in 
analyzing Genesis 14: 6-7.  Everything’s there, and it’s fully historical in a 
mid-14th century BCE context, if only you would glance  n-o-r-t-h.  
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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