[b-hebrew] SLM: Jacob's "ladder"

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Thu Nov 29 12:03:16 EST 2012


Jim:

On Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 11:22 AM, <JimStinehart at aol.com> wrote:

> **
>
> Karl:
>
> ** **
>
> 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**.
>

You are making an argument from silence, which is always a bad thing to do.
These are the sort of things that would have been outside, therefore the
least likely to survive long enough for modern archaeologists to find. You
can’t say they were not used, all you can say is that modern archaeologists
haven’t found them.

The Hebrew language has another word that refers to drawing up water using
a bucket suspended on a rope. How early is that word in Hebrew? We can’t
know, other than that it is attested to 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**.
>

Stairways existed in Jacob’s time, for the moment you have multi-story
houses, and they were built in towns in Jacob’s time, there you also have
stairways and ladders. Even for single story houses ladders were used to
get on roofs for construction and maintenance. So Jacob would have been
familiar with both. No need to refer to ziggurats.

Those were not the only places where stairways and ladders were used in
those days.

A trellis is like a ladder for plants.

The argument that Jacob would not have known about stairways apart from
ziggurats is silly and foolish. I don’t see how any thinking person can
give such a ridiculous idea a second thought other than to laugh at it.

> ** **
>
> 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 terraced landings.”
>
> ** **
>
> 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
> ziggurat.
>
> ** **
>
> 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.
>

See above. This idea is completely unnecessary. And linguistically not
supported.

> ****
>
> ** **
>
> 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.
>

Apparently you haven’t see that many proposals, nor information from
archaeology. That is not a mysterious Hebrew word, and fits quite well with
its root idea.

By the way, in your last message you yourself gave one of the best
arguments against your proposal that anyone can give, why don’t you follow
your own argument?

> ****
>
> ** **
>
> Jim Stinehart
>
> ****Evanston**, **Illinois****
>

Karl W. Randolph.
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