[b-hebrew] Zech 9:10

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Aug 15 15:04:02 EDT 2013

Jerry Shepherd: 
You wrote, concerning Zechariah 9: 10:  “ ‘From sea to sea’ probably 
refers to  the Mediterranean and either of the two arms of the Red  Sea.” 
You are interpreting the Hebrew word YM as follows:  (i) it means “sea”;  
(ii) it may well imply, without  necessarily mandating, “Mediterranean Sea” 
[even though there is no explicit  reference here to the Great  Sea];  and 
(iii) it does not mean, at least  here, the Dead Sea. 
At Zechariah 9: 10, no qualifier is added, so YM also  could [at least out 
of context] conceivably be referring to a fresh water lake,  namely the Sea 
of Galilee.  See Numbers 34: 11, which uses YM to  refer to the Sea of 
Galilee, which is a fresh  water lake;  there, this  identification is clarified 
by adding “Chinnereth” after YM. 
If one wanted to limit YM to only salt water seas,  thereby excluding the 
Sea of Galilee and any other freshwater lakes, but by no  means necessarily 
excluding the Mediterranean Sea [which is comprised of salt  water], then one 
might add after YM  the phrase:  H-MLX, with such  phrase meaning “the salt”
.  Yes,  “sea the-salt” might refer to the Dead Sea, which is a salt water 
lake, but “sea  the-salt” could also refer to the Mediterranean  Sea, 
which is a salt water sea.  
I interpret YM H-MLX [“sea the-salt”] at Genesis 14: 3 as  referring, at 
least on one level, to the Mediterranean Sea, and not as  necessarily 
referring to the Dead Sea.  Since the Mediterranean Sea is a salt water sea, it 
could be  referenced, if a bit ambiguously, by the Biblical Hebrew term YM 
H-MLX/“sea  the-salt”. 
The reason for considering that “unorthodox”  interpretation of the 
intended meaning of YM H-MLX at Genesis 14: 3 is that then  the “four kings 
against five” [Genesis 14: 9] would match up with exactitude to  what is attested 
historically, instead of being completely unattested.  In Year 14 [cf. “In 
the 14th  year” at Genesis 14: 5], historically, a coalition comprised of a 
king of Ugarit  [whose pejorative Patriarchal nickname is “Chedorlaomer”
/KDRL(MR, which in  Ugaritic [kdr l ‘mr] means “the line of kings of Ugarit 
falls into excrement”],  a fearsome Hittite king [who had gained the Hittite 
throne by murdering his own  older brother named Tidal, hence the nasty 
Patriarchal nickname “Tidal”, which  in context is effectively calling mighty 
Hittite King Suppiluliuma “Murderer”],  a Hurrian princeling [the 
Hurrian-based Patriarchal nickname “Arioch”], and an  Amorite princeling [the west 
Semitic Patriarchal nickname “Amraphel”] totally  defeated five Hurrian 
city-states, which both historically and Biblically had  but four ruling 
princelings at the time [whose Hurrian-based Patriarchal  nicknames are “Bera”, “
Birsha”, “Shinab” and “Shemeber”].  The exact ethnicity [but not the  
historical name] of each one of the 9 historical combatants is accurately  
represented.  So also is the exact  year [Year 14, which is often viewed as being the 
year of the Second Syrian War,  confirming the Year 12 Hittite conquest of 
Syria in the Great Syrian War], and  so also is the precise outcome:  this 
coalition of four attacking rulers historically utterly destroyed  the five 
rebellious city-states.  Historically this happened north of Canaan, in the 
Orontes River  Valley, not far from the body of water  into which the Orontes 
River empties:  a salt-water sea, the Mediterranean  Sea.  [Note the  
reference to Damascus at Genesis 14: 15, which  suggests Syria as the 
geographical locale of  the “four kings against five”.]   
If YM H-MLX/“sea the-salt” at Genesis 14: 3 can possibly  be viewed as 
implying the Mediterranean Sea, then  e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g  about Genesis 14: 
1-11 checks out  historically.  Indeed, the pinpoint  accuracy of the Biblical 
account of the “four kings against five” is in that  event so stunning 
that surely the Patriarchal narratives must have been recorded  in writing 
shortly after the event, in cuneiform writing, about a year or so  after the end 
of the troubled reign of Egypt’s only monotheistic pharaoh in the  mid-14th 
century BCE.  [As to cuneiform, look again at Genesis 14: 15.  Logically, 
the reference there must be  to “the Obah”, that is H-WBH, being the 
historically-attested name of the  district of Damascus in the Amarna Letters, not 
the otherwise completely  inexplicable XWBH that we see in the received 
alphabetical text.  In cuneiform writing, cuneiform heth  stood for both Hebrew 
heth/X and Hebrew he/H, so when this Late Bronze Age  cuneiform writing was 
transformed into alphabetical Hebrew writing for the first  time under King 
Josiah 700 years later, it’s little surprise that the intended  Hebrew he/H 
mistakenly came out as Hebrew heth/X here:  both such alphabetical Hebrew 
letters  are rendered by the same cuneiform sign -- Akkadian heth.  This 
Biblical text, as a written text,  is  r-e-a-l-l-y  old!] 
Whether the “four kings against five” is historical or  not is riding 
primarily on the Hebrew linguistics question of whether YM  H-MLX/“sea the-salt”
 at Genesis 14: 3 could possibly be interpreted as referring  to the 
Mediterranean Sea, rather than as necessarily referring to the Dead Sea,  as 
heretofore thought. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston,  Illinois
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