[b-hebrew] SLM: Jacob's "ladder"
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Nov 28 14:22:09 EST 2012
1. The problem with the “basket-elevator” idea is not linguistic, but
rather is historical and geographical. Jacob had never seen an Egyptian
pulley-system or a Babylonian pulley-system in southern Mesopotamia, so he
wouldn’t dream of such things, which did not exist in Canaan.
2. University scholars who argue for an exilic dating of the Patriarchal
narratives make a linguistic argument similar to what you make, when you
say: “[SLM is] from a Hebrew root indicating raising above, other
derivatives include ramp, trellis for holding up plants, raised highway….” That
works well for a Babylonian ziggurat, which Jews would see during the Exile.
But it doesn’t work for Jacob, who had never seen a ziggurat, and whose
religious imagery is not coming from the Babylonians in southern Mesopotamia.
Those two ideas are not a major linguistic problem, but they don’t work
historically or geographically.
3. The purely linguistic argument only really bites as to the traditional
view of a “ladder”. Contra most modern scholarly analysts, you assert:
“…this derivative indicating a ladder….” Based on Hebrew linguistics
[but not historically or geographically], SLM fits a ziggurat and ramps, not a
ladder. Thus on a linguistic basis, scholar Robert Alter says: “
Mesopotamian ziggurat…the structure envisioned is probably a vast ramp with
4. You then say: “…or, as I have always pictured this, a stairway
leading upwards.” But linguistically, “stairway” is like “ladder”, being
hard to fit to the alleged Hebrew roots of SLM. “Ramp” fits much better
regarding Hebrew linguistics, but that once again would be a Mesopotamian
5. By contrast, my proposal of a Hurrian loanword eliminates all of these
problems. The Hurrian common word $ilum, which might well come into
Hebrew as SLM as a Hurrian loanword during the Amarna Age [being the only time
when Hurrian princelings dominated the ruling class of Canaan], literally
likely means: “something that allows (pleasant) relations to occur”. It
might be viewed as effectively meaning: “gateway”. Whereas the Hurrian
word a-a-pi refers to a tunnel to the netherworld, being a Hurrian concept
that definitely is not in evidence in chapter 28 of Genesis, the Hurrian word
$ilum would by contrast be a fitting word for the uniquely Hebrew
conception of Jacob envisioning a “gateway”/SLM up to the gate of heaven.
Unlike all other proposals I have seen, my proposed Hurrian loanword
gambit for the mysterious Hebrew common word SLM fits linguistically,
historically and geographically, while in no way impinging on the 100% Hebrew-ness
and true antiquity of this memorable Hebrew religious concept.
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