[b-hebrew] The Name "Haran"

jimstinehart at aol.com jimstinehart at aol.com
Sun Mar 11 08:56:28 EDT 2012


Scholars split between Year 14 and Year 12 as the date of the Great Syrian War in western Syria, with the majority view since 1990 probably being Year 14.  K.A. Kitchen, writing in the early 1960s, tentatively suggested Year 12, but there are good reasons why his dating is often rejected (as is his peculiar 8-year co-regency theory, which no one accepts).  Much of Year 12 at Amarna was spent having a grand durbar, which was a foreign tribute festival, and having elaborate, gorgeous portrayals of that durbar done in two nobles’ rock tombs at Amarna.  It’s hard to believe that these triumphalist portrayals of foreign tribute were being done at Amarna precisely when Suppiluliuma was conquering all of northern Syria in Year 12!  

One major aspect of Amarna Letter EA 155 that you cite is almost certainly a mistranslation.  "Behold, I go away with all thy ships and my whole city" is said to apply to both Abimelek and Zimredda, but there’s no way that those rival princelings in Lebanon were both fleeing.  Wm. Moran’s later translation is now preferred, which sees this phrase as the princelings preparing boats for Egypt, not as “going away” with their ships.

The bottom line is that I go with the many scholars who favor a Year 14 date for the Great Syrian War in western Syria, which matches Genesis 14: 5 perfectly, rather than following Kitchen’s old, outdated view from the early 1960s:  

(1)  “[T]he Great Syrian campaign falls at the latest in years 14/15, but conceivably as early as year 12….”  Wm. J. Murnane, “The Road to Kadesh” (1990), p. 126.  

(2)  “At some point in the reign, the Hittite King, Suppiluliuma, conducted a major campaign in north Syria, seizing Egyptian vassal states.  This is probably to be dated between years 12 and 14 of Akhenaten’s reign.”  Robert Morkot, “Historical Dictionary of Ancient Egyptian Warfare” (2003), p. 5.

The following statement of yours is peculiar:  “Please name a scholar, 
any scholar, who places the Great War in Year 14. I can find no one, but it is 
possible I missed someone so please enlighten me.”  See Murnane and Morkot quoted above.

Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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