[b-hebrew] Terakh

jimstinehart at aol.com jimstinehart at aol.com
Sun Jun 6 10:17:23 EDT 2010

George Athas:
1.  You wrote:  “There is so much circular argumentation and speculation in your theory, that I don't think it's worth anyone trying to engage meaningfully (mainly because I don't think it's actually possible).”
(a)  What is circular or speculative about my analysis of the consequences of TRX being a west Semitic name?  Having a west Semitic name, it makes perfect sense for Terakh to be indigenous to west Semitic-speaking Canaan.  It does not make sense for Terakh to be indigenous to Urfa (whose original name was Urshu), because that is a Hurrian name of a Hurrian-speaking city.  It also does not make sense for Terakh to be indigenous to Ur, where the languages were Kassite and Akkadian.
(b)  What is speculative about a caravan trip by west Semitic-speaking people in the Late Bronze Age from Canaan out to Ur in Karaduniyas to buy lapis lazuli, and then back to Canaan  (by way of Harran)?  Consider the following testimony from the Amarna Letters:
“Let the king [Pharaoh], my lord, send a caravan even to Karaduniyash.  I will personally conduct it under very heavy guard.”  Amarna Letter EA 255: 21-25
The person who wrote that letter had a west Semitic name (per Richard Hess at p.  115 of “Amarna Personal Names”) and lived on the east bank of the Jordan River, across the river from Beth Shan.  So we know that it was possible, and potentially lucrative (though very dangerous and difficult), for a caravan in the Late Bronze Age conducted by people in Canaan with west Semitic names to start in Canaan, go all the long way out to Ur in Karaduniyash to buy lapis lazuli at wholesale, and then return home to Canaan.  In my view, that is the opening act of the Patriarchal narratives.  Note the vintage west Semitic names of Terakh’s family:  TRX, HRN and )BRM.  People with west Semitic names like that could not possibly be indigenous to Ur! 
2.  You wrote: “This is compounded by the fact that in the past you usually baptise someone's objection into your own view anyway.”
Why do you object when I quote some of the finest previous posters that the b-hebrew list has ever had?
(a)  I quoted Jonathan D. Safren, Dept. of Biblical Studies, Beit Berl College, Israel, as to the following super-important bit of historical linguistic information:
  “BTW, you must take into account that in the Bible the Chaldeans are called kasdim <kasdu, whereas in the Babylonian inscriptions they are already called kaldu….”
George, are you surprised to learn that no word similar to Kasdim is attested in the secular history of the ancient world as a forerunner of the word “Chaldeans”?  That line of argument is coming from Daniel, not from secular history.  Kasdim has nothing to do with the Chaldeans, but rather is based on Karaduniyas under Kadasman of the Kassites, being vintage mid-14th century BCE nomenclature.
(b)  And let me now quote another fine poster from the past, Peter Kirk, as he demolishes the argument that Terakh may have been indigenous to Urfa, since Urfa is a mere 30 miles from Harran:
“Genesis 11:31 also seems to imply that (in the author's mind at least) Ur was quite a long way from Haran. It would be rather ridiculous to set out on a long journey to Canaan only to abandon it at the next town!”  [Posted 1/4/2000.]
And for what it’s worth, poster Niels Peter Lemche, the famous Biblical Minimalist, totally agreed with that analysis.  
Let me now paraphrase and expand upon another important observation Peter Kirk made in that same post.  The geographical locale of Bethuel and Laban is described in terms of NHRYM, Paddan-Aram, Aramean and Harran, not in terms of Kasdim.  Unlike Kasdim, all of NHRYM, Paddan-Aram, Aramean and Harran are documented terms in the Late Bronze Age for northwest Mesopotamia.  [In the Bronze Age, “Aramean” meant a person from northwest Mesopotamia, and did not connote any particular ethnicity or language.]  Kasdim is the odd man out in that regard, both in the Patriarchal narratives and in secular history.  That’s because Kasdim, unlike those other terms, is referencing Karaduniyas under Kadasman and the Kassites in southern Mesopotamia in the Late Bronze Age, and has nothing whatsoever to do with northwest Mesopotamia/NHRYM/Harran.
3.  You wrote:  “So, here's what we're going to do. You're going to send one more email on this topic summarising your view. And then I am calling an end to the thread, and no one is allowed to post on it.”
I had been planning to do a post on TRX being a Ugaritic verb that can mean “to pay the brideprice”.  I see that meaning as being critically important to understanding Terakh’s role in the Patriarchal narratives.  Terakh paid the brideprice in a special, historical way (documented at Nuzi) that meant that unlike Jacob, whose sons from four different wives were his heirs, Abraham’s heirs from the get-go were strictly limited to any son(s) that Sarah alone might bear.  If we don’t focus on the Ugaritic verb TRX, it’s hard to understand why none of Abraham’s many sons by other wives had a chance to inherit anything (especially by contrast to Jacob’s situation).
The intended focus of this thread was on TRX as a west Semitic name and the consequences of that.  To me, that seems like a good topic for the b-hebrew list.  Karl asked a question about Ur Kasdim, to which I gave a brief answer, and then Yigal Levin set forth the scholarly view of the phrase Ur Kasdim.  Of course, I myself welcome and treasure comments like that, but please note that it was Karl and Yigal Levin who effectively changed the focus of this thread.  Yes, I love to discuss the phrase Ur Kasdim, but my plan had been to focus on TRX as a west Semitic name and the consequences of that.  To me it seems somewhat unfair that this thread is being closed.  But as always, I will defer to your good judgment as to all moderator issues.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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