[b-hebrew] Genesis 13:18 Appositional Phrase vs. Adjectival Phrase

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Jul 1 10:00:12 EDT 2011

1.  Of course Abimelek's water wells, both historically and in Genesis, are 
on the mainland.  Your two E-mails to me [perhaps only one of which was 
posted to the b-hebrew list] focus a lot on Abimelek, and do not seem to raise 
issues of Hebrew grammar suitable for discussion in this forum.  But your 
posts do also continue to raise the question of Lot’s role in the Patriarchal 
narratives, which is important to this thread [which, as discussed in #2 
below, will then return us to this thread’s Hebrew grammar focus on whether 
H-KN(NY at Genesis 12: 6 and 13: 7 can have a singular meaning:  “the Canaanite”
];  so in this post I will limit myself to that subject, because it is 
directly related to Hebrew grammar.  
In the Patriarchal narratives, the firstborn son gets the shaft in every 
generation, and properly so.  That’s Haran, Lot, Ishmael, Esau and Reuben.  
Haran predeceases his own father, but then Lot, as Haran’s only son, in effect 
thereafter represents the line of Terakh’s firstborn son.  The text 
emphasizes this by on four occasions referring to Lot as being Abram’s “brother”.  
Genesis 14: 14, 16;  Genesis 13: 8, 11.  At Genesis 13: 8, Abram could have 
forced Lot to leave Canaan, using some of Abram’s 318 armed men at Genesis 
14: 13 if necessary;  YHWH has already at Genesis 12: 7 promised all of 
Canaan to Abram, which implies that Lot, representing the line of Terakh’s 
firstborn son, will get none of Canaan.  But instead of booting out of Canaan the 
son of Abram’s older brother, and thereby commandeering all of Canaan of 
his own accord, Abram quite properly does just the opposite, and graciously 
allows Lot to go anywhere from Bethel that Lot may choose to go, provided that 
both Lot and Abram will leave Bethel, and Abram will go the opposite of 
whatever direction Lot chooses to go from Bethel.  “And Abram said unto Lot, 
Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my 
herdmen and thy herdmen; for we are brothers.  [Is] not the whole land before 
thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if [thou wilt take] the left 
hand, then I will go to the right; or if [thou depart] to the right hand, then I 
will go to the left.”  Genesis 14: 8-9.  Lot chooses to sojourn in the 
Jordan River Valley, the KKR of the Jordan, which is in Canaan, and is north of 
where Abram then sojourns at the Patriarchs’ XBRWN.  Although YHWH has 
promised Lot nothing, Abram has graciously and provisionally allowed his “brother”
/nephew Lot to lay claim to all of Canaan north of Bethel, at least for the 
time being, until such time as YHWH may divinely direct otherwise.  As I 
explained in my prior post, Abram on at least three occasions declines the 
opportunity to hasten Lot’s downfall or to remove Lot from Canaan [even though 
from the beginning, YHWH has promised all of Canaan to Abram and Abram’s 
descendants, while not promising anything to Lot]:  Abram does not kick Lot out 
of Canaan in chapter 13 of Genesis, he rescues Lot as a hostage in chapter 
14, and he pleads for Sodom (where Lot is living) to be spared if there are 
at least 10 righteous people there in chapter 18.  So even though YHWH has 
promised Abram all of Canaan a second time at Genesis 13: 14-15, nevertheless 
Abram cannot perfect his claim to all of Canaan until Lot’s provisional 
claim to the northern two-thirds of Canaan, which Abram effectively allowed at 
Genesis 13: 9-11, has been eliminated, and that elimination will be done by 
YHWH, not by Abram on his own motion elbowing Lot aside.  Though Abram 
graciously helps Lot, instead of unilaterally kicking Lot out of Canaan, 
nevertheless Lot as the firstborn/only son of Terakh’s firstborn son Haran does not 
have a chance, as we realize after we have read the entirety of the 
Patriarchal narratives.  As with the case of every firstborn son in the Patriarchal 
narratives, the firstborn son always gets the shaft, and properly so.  Haran 
predeceases his own father, Lot is reduced to living in a cave, Ishmael is 
exiled by his own father, Esau never gets the grand blessing that his father 
had planned to give him and ends up living outside of Canaan, and Reuben 
gets a final curse, rather than a blessing, from his father.  Jacob is going 
to win out over Esau, because Esau is Isaac’s firstborn son, and in every 
generation the firstborn son gets the shaft and properly so.  Ditto with Isaac 
being fated to win out over Ishmael, and Abraham regarding both Haran, his 
literal older brother, and Lot, the son of Abraham’s older brother who in 
effect represents in Canaan the line of the firstborn son of Abraham’s father.  
[Moreover, Joseph’s firstborn son gets the shaft, at the express direction 
of Jacob/“Israel”, and Judah’s firstborn son by Tamar does not even get to 
come out of Tamar’s womb before his “younger” twin brother is born.  How 
can scholars see multiple authors here, when the monolithic unity of thought 
is readily apparent?]
2.  Of more direct relevance to the linguistic issue on this thread, 
however, is to ask why Abram properly insists that both Abram and Lot must leave 
the Bethel area, with neither man remaining in central hill country.  Based 
on Genesis 14: 4, we can deduce that Abram and Lot leave Bethel in Year 13.  
Now think what the historical situation was at the beginning of Year 13 from 
Shechem to Jerusalem.  Two leaders dominated that entire area, with Bethel 
in effect being a no-man’s land, if you will, separating their two spheres 
of influence.  Lab’ayu was a Canaanite strongman temporarily operating out of 
Shechem, who was trying to become the most powerful princeling in all of 
Canaan, largely by recruiting tent-dwelling Habiru to do his fighting for him. 
 IR-Heba was the Hurrian princeling ruler of Jerusalem, who rants and rails 
against the tent-dwelling Habiru in the Amarna Letters, and who would give 
no ground to anyone.  As we have seen on this thread, KN(NY and H-KN(NY and 
H-PRZY can all be understood as having a singular meaning, in addition to 
being singular in form.  As such, Genesis 12: 6 and 13: 7 refer to “the 
Canaanite” at Shechem, that is, Lab’ayu, the Canaanite strongman ruler of 
Shechem, north of Bethel.  Genesis 13: 7 by necessary implication then refers to 
the powerful Hurrian princeling ruler south of Bethel, H-PRZY, “the Perizzite”
, meaning “the Hurrian lord”, namely IR-Heba.  Abram has wisely decided 
that both Abram and Lot should vacate central hill country, because that area 
would obviously soon descend into civil war in Year 13, given rapacious Lab’
ayu, “the Canaanite”, and uncompromising IR-Heba, “the Perizzite”/“the 
Hurrian lord”.  The foregoing analysis as to non-biblical history is largely 
confirmed by Israel Finkelstein here:
“The fourteenth century BCE Tell el-Amarna letters confirm the partition of 
the central hill country between two city-states, or actually early 
territorial states, Shechem and Jerusalem….  A number of the letters refer by name 
to the rulers of these two city-states -- a king called Abdi-Heba who 
reigned in Jerusalem and a king named Labayu who reigned in Shechem -- each of 
whom controlled territories of about a thousand square miles. These were the 
largest areas held by a single local ruler…at this time….”  Israel 
Finkelstein, “The Bible Unearthed” (2001), at p. 155.   
So if Genesis 14: 4 is giving us Year 13 as the exact date when Abram and 
Lot were at Bethel in chapter 13 of Genesis, then Abram would have known 
about both “the Canaanite”/H-KN(NY/Lab’ayu of Shechem, and “the Perizzite”/“
the Hurrian lord”/H-PRZY/IR-Heba of Jerusalem, and would have known that it 
was wise not to have anything to do with either of those awful rulers.  
T-h-a-t  is why Abram insists that both Abram and Lot must leave Bethel [with 
Abram graciously and wisely trying to get Lot out of harm’s way, instead of 
Abram looking out solely for Abram], and that is why the two men go “east” and 
the opposite of east (that is, west) from Bethel (per Genesis 13: 9-11), 
thereby leaving hill country (which runs north and south of Bethel, not east 
and west).
If we can understand the Hebrew grammar here, where each of H-KN(NY and 
H-PRZY can be singular in meaning, in addition to being singular in form, we 
can then see the  p-i-n-p-o-i-n-t  accuracy of this Biblical text in the 
historical context of Year 13.  There is no way that multiple authors in the 1st 
millennium BCE would know all these precise details about the  e-x-a-c-t  
historical situation as of early in Year 13!  Nor would whoever composed the 
Genesis Apocryphon know such Year 13 details either.  My point is that 
chapters 12-14 of Genesis must have been composed by a contemporary in the 
mid-14th century BCE, the first historical Hebrew, because there is no 
non-miraculous way that multiple authors in the 1st millennium BCE, be they JEPD or 
whoever, could possibly know all the ins and outs of exactly what life was like 
in Canaan in Year 13.  The magnificent wealth of pinpoint accurate details 
about Year 13 in chapters 12-14 of Genesis is telling us that these three 
chapters were composed by a contemporary who knew exactly what he was talking 
about, rather than JEPD somehow conjuring up this material in the 1st 
millennium BCE.
I am trying to make the point that an analysis of Hebrew grammar can lead 
us to make great discoveries as to Biblical mysteries like this that have 
baffled analysts for millennia.  The key is simply to realize that each of 
H-KN(NY and H-PRZY at Genesis 13: 7 can be singular in meaning, in addition to 
being singular in form, which is the Hebrew grammatical thesis of this thread.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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