[b-hebrew] The lost years of the Hebrew Bible

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Apr 26 15:12:49 EDT 2011

Randall Buth wrote:  “On the text, we can only "see" back into the Second 
Temple period. However, the spelling of the "First Temple Documents"

shows (statistically, not in any one word/sentence) that those documents 
were in their approximate shape by the mid-6th century BCE. Beyond that we are 
without data.”
I respectfully disagree.  
1.  The word chânîykîm at Genesis 14: 14, referring to Abraham's armed men, 
is not present in the historical record after the 15th century BCE.  That’s 
over 800 years before the mid-6th century BCE.
2.  The phrase is 318 chânîykîm, and the number 318 is redolent of the 
Hurrians and the Late Bronze Age.  The Hurrian ruler of Naharim sent 318 Hurrian 
women to Amenhotep III, and Hurrian princeing ruler IR-Heba of Jerusalem at 
Amarna Letter EA 287: 53-59 refers to 318 “porters”/taxpaying citizens of 
Jerusalem.  The number 318 is redolent of the Hurrians and the Late Bronze 
3.  No one in the mid-6th century BCE knew Ugaritic.  So they couldn’t know 
that KDRL(MR MLK (LM at Genesis 14: 1, 9 is a nasty curse in Ugaritic:  kdr 
l (mr mlk (lm.
None of that was known in the Second Temple period or later.  No, that’s 
all coming straight out of the Late Bronze Age.  Ditto for the word “Naharim” 
at Genesis 24: 10, for the dozens of Hurrian names in the text, for Abraham’
s un-doubled initial age at Genesis 12: 4, and for Abraham’s stated age at 
death at Genesis 25: 7.  Yes, there are, unfortunately, a handful of late 
editorial additions in the text.  But the vast bulk of the Patriarchal 
narratives, both as to vocabulary and numbers, is redolent of the Late Bronze Age, 
and has nothing to do with the world of the mid-6th century BCE.
As to themes, remember that the Assyrians destroyed most of Israel and 
Judah prior to the mid-6th century BCE, with the Assyrians taking particular 
pride and pleasure in skinning alive many Hebrews after the siege of Lachish.  
No Hebrew or Jew in the Second Temple period would be caught dead creating a 
storyline that features the mother of Jacob/“Israel”, and all four of his 
wives, being born and raised in Harran, the last capital city of hated 
Assyria.  Yes, the phrase “land of Ramses” may date to the mid-6th century BCE, 
being a very late editorial addition, but that does not date the Patriarchal 
narratives as a whole.  In fact, well over 90% of the received text of the 
Patriarchal narratives pre-dates the Second Temple period by about eight 
centuries or so.

Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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