[b-hebrew] II kings 22 ENDING THREAD

Dave Washburn davidlwashburn at gmail.com
Thu Dec 13 01:32:12 EST 2012

Thank you, George. I quite agree with everything you said. My own view
can be seen in a couple of places: my 1991 article in Trinity Journal,
downloadable here:


and my novel about Josiah, based on the above article, which can be found here:


Again, thanks for your contribution, and thanks for ending this thread.

On Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 2:49 PM, George Athas <George.Athas at moore.edu.au> wrote:
> There is absolutely nothing in the text that demands the interpretation that
> the scroll which Hilkiah found was written in cuneiform. The suggestion
> comes from factors outside the text, but which again are in no way dependent
> on the text. Therefore, Jim's scenario has no evidence from the text itself,
> and is a purely speculative hypothesis that cannot in any way be proved or
> disproved. It is, therefore, for all intents and purposes, curious but of no
> value at all for understanding the text.
> I don't see why we need to continue this conversation any further on list.
> It is not advancing our understanding of Biblical Hebrew language or
> literature, though it is giving us a glimpse at Jim's interesting
> imagination (the proposed scenario would make a nice visual scene in
> "Josiah: The Movie (adapted from the Bible)".
> Everyone can have one final post on this subject, and then the thread ends.
> ONE post each, followed by END OF THREAD.
> Co-moderator of B-Hebrew
> Sydney (only for another couple of hours), Australia
> On 13/12/2012, at 8:48 AM, "jimstinehart at aol.com" <jimstinehart at aol.com>
> wrote:
> Gentlemen:
> The Biblical authors of II Kings were primarily interested in portraying
> King Josiah as a righteous ruler, who brought Judah back to the proper
> practice of true Judaism.  As such, King Josiah can also be expected to have
> a fine high priest of the Temple in Jerusalem, with whom King Josiah works
> well.  But the Biblical authors have zero interest in praising King Josiah’s
> scribe!!!
> Everyone is hung up on the first verse I quoted, II Kings 22: 8:  “And
> Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, ‘I have found the
> book of the law in the house of the LORD.’  And Hilkiah gave the book to
> Shaphan, and he read it.”
> Note what that verse does  n-o-t  say.  Though the high priest Hilkiah will
> be presented as being an important, positive religious figure, nevertheless
> the text does not say that Hilkiah read the sacred find, and specifically
> denies that Hilkiah gave the sacred text to King Josiah, much less read it
> to him.  No, the text says that Hilkiah gave the book to King Josiah’s
> scribe, who read it.
> Remember, the Biblical authors have no interest whatsoever in portraying
> Shaphan as being an important, positive figure.
> I have set forth a logical, simple explanation for the foregoing verse which
> fits everything the verse says and makes sense:  the sacred text was written
> in cuneiform (using west Semitic words), and therefore the only human being
> in Jerusalem who could read the darn thing was the guy whose professional
> duties required him to be able to read cuneiform letters written to Judah
> from Assyria and Babylonia.  Yes, those cuneiform letters were written in
> Assyrian or Akkadian, but cuneiform could be used just as easily to write
> west Semitic (as we know from the dozens of west Semitic words in the Amarna
> Letters).  A native Biblical Hebrew speaker who can read cuneiform letters
> in Assyrian and Akkadian could easily read a sacred Hebrew text written in
> cuneiform using west Semitic words.
> Now let’s look at the alternative scenarios that you fellows have creatively
> floated.
> 1.  Dave Washburn wrote:  “I don't know where you got this idea that there
> was such a sharp division between religious and secular matters….”
> I don’t know where you got the idea that I think any such thing.  On the
> other hand, the first inclination of the authors of II Kings and Chronicles
> would be to show high priest Hilkiah as working directly with King Josiah
> regarding this important sacred discovery.  Why bring King Josiah’s scribe
> into the picture?  Your comment that there was not “a sharp division between
> religious and secular matters” explains nothing.
> Dave Washburn continued:  “Now I remember why I usually don't read your
> material.”
> You mean you’re not super-excited about investigating the possibility that
> some of the oldest parts of the Torah may have been written in cuneiform
> using west Semitic words, thereby enabling there to be sacred Hebrew
> religious  w-r-i-t-t-e-n  texts dating all the long way back to the Late
> Bronze Age?  If that’s not an exciting possibility, then what in life is
> exciting?
> 2.  Prof. Yigal Levin made a series of alternative suggestions, starting
> with the following:  “Jim, I just re-read the passage.  Nowhere does it say
> that Hilkiah and Josiah could not read the book that had been found.”
> It doesn’t?  Gosh, if two different Biblical authors (II Kings and
> Chronicles) are trying to build up King Josiah, and show him as correctly
> interpreting Judaism with his high priest Hilkiah, then why would the text
> not say that Hilkiah read the sacred find, or that Hilkiah took the sacred
> text to King Josiah?  Why say that Hilkiah gave the text to the scribe, who
> read it?
> Prof. Levin continued:  “Not because the king could not read, but because
> reading to the king was the scribe's job.”
> Is there any support in the Bible, or outside of the Bible, for that?  The
> assertion is that the King could read just as well as the scribe, but the
> King had a scribe read things to the King?  Doesn’t it make much more sense
> here that the sacred text was written in cuneiform, and only the scribe
> could read that writing system?
> Prof . Levin then specifically supported Dave Washburn’s odd comment above:
> “I agree with Dave.  And remember that Shaphan was in charge of the repairs
> to the Temple in the first place. So quite naturally anything of importance
> that was found would be brought to him.”
> Yes, any gold or silver found in the Temple would be handed over to the
> scribe, that’s for sure.  But an ancient sacred religious text?  What are
> high priests of Jerusalem good for if not for examining and commenting on
> ancient sacred Hebrew religious texts?
> 3.  Nir Cohen had so many alternative ideas that there’s not room to set
> forth all of them here.  Nir Cohen starts out:  “the scribe (SOFER) was
> there specifically to read and write.”
> Yes, but we know for a fact that King Josiah could read alphabetical Hebrew
> very well, as II Kings 23: 2 specifically says:  “And the king went up to
> the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the
> inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests and the prophets, all the people,
> both small and great;  and he read in their hearing all the words of the
> book of the covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD.”
> Nir Cohen continued:  “his job may have included not just the physical
> reading, but also the grammatical interpretation, and even political
> censorship of certain difficult passages in the text. it must have been
> considered a very responsible job.”
> Wait a minute!  The Biblical authors are bound and determined to build up
> King Josiah.  King Josiah, in conjunction with the high priest of Jerusalem,
> is interpreting this important ancient sacred Hebrew religious text.  King
> Josiah is definitely  n-o-t  relying on his scribe here for “political
> censorship of certain difficult passages in the text”.
> Ni Cohen then wrote:  “moreover, the SOFER had to read the text LOUDLY in
> front of a gathered assembly, a task which the priest or the king may have
> considered unworthy of office. could even be embarrassing if these
> dignitaries had glitched over a complicated word.”
> The text explicitly denies all of that.  See II Kings 23: 2 quoted above.
> Switching gears, Nir Cohen then came up with this interesting argument:
> “both priest and king may have been totally absorbed in the hectic
> reconstruction work in the temple and desperate defence plans in view of
> incoming invasions.  they did not have time to read.”
> But King Josiah  d-i-d  read the sacred text to himself, once it had been
> transformed from cuneiform to alphabetical Hebrew by the scribe, and then he
> d-i-d  take the time to read this text to all the assembled multitude of
> Jerusalem and Judah.
> 4.  Finally, Karl W. Randolph weighed in as follows:  “There’s another
> consideration that was common before the typewriter:  even in societies with
> near universal literacy, there was ready employment for anyone who could
> write with good, clear penmanship.”
> But that’s not the issue here.  First and foremost was determining precisely
> what this ancient text was.  Hilkiah gave it to the scribe to read, and then
> later the scribe read it to King Josiah.  Penmanship isn’t the issue.
> Rather, the problem was that this ancient sacred text was written in
> cuneiform (using west Semitic words), and accordingly the only one in
> Jerusalem who could read it was Shaphan the scribe, who as part of his
> regular duties read cuneiform letters sent to Judah from Assyria and
> Babylonia.
> *       *       *
> Guys, the only realistic way that part of the Torah can be a  w-r-i-t-t-e-n
> text dating all the long way back to the Bronze Age is if the writing system
> used was cuneiform, using west Semitic words.  That’s the “missing link” to
> discover the true antiquity, and pinpoint historical accuracy, of the
> Patriarchal narratives.
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
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Dave Washburn

Check out my Internet show: http://www.irvingszoo.com

Now available: a novel about King Josiah!

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