[b-hebrew] ezek 16:3

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Jul 16 17:02:00 EDT 2013

Nir Cohen: 
I’m not so sure that you and I are interpreting Ezekiel  16: 3 very 
differently.  It seems  rather that my phrasing was misleading. 
1.  You  wrote:  “all the three nations:  emorite, canaanite, hurrian, are 
simply mentioned there for having been the  lords of canaan at the time of 
the patriarchs.” 
Yes, that was the situation in Canaan right before the rise of the Hebrews. 
 That key historical fact is very nicely  encapsulated at Genesis 14: 13 as 
follows [where I will add my own comments in  brackets]: 
“Abram the Hebrew…dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite  [that’s the “
Amorites”], brother [that is, a fellow princeling, though having no  actual 
blood connection] of Eshcol [that’s a Canaanite name, representing the  “
Canaanites”], and brother of Aner [that’s a Hurrian name, representing the  “
So I agree completely with you that on the eve of the  Hebrews beginning 
their great rise to prominence in Canaan, “emorite, canaanite, hurrian, are 
simply mentioned  there for having been the lords of canaan at the time of the 
[Let me reiterate for the benefit of others reading this  post that there’s 
nothing in any of these passages about the classic Hittites  from eastern 
Anatolia.  The Hebrew letters XTY have nothing  whatsoever to do with the 
classic Hittites from Anatolia, who were never in  Canaan.  Rather:  XTY = 
xu-ti-ya = a  classic Hurrian personal name meaning “Praise Teshup” = an apt 
Patriarchal  nickname for the Hurrians.] 
So far, so good. 
2.  You  wrote:  “there is no indication in  the text to your allegation 
that the hebrews were
associated, in this text,  with the canaanites and emorites, more than with 
the hurrians. this is only your  personal interpretation.” 
My phrasing must have been misleading.  In fact, I’m the one who argues 
that the  Patriarchal narratives portray each Patriarch as marrying a 
woman/Matriarch  whose mother was an ethnic Hurrian.  So I’m the one who emphasizes 
the maternal Hurrian connection regarding  the early Hebrews, while not 
emphasizing so greatly any connection to Canaanites  or Amorites.  In fact, the 
greatest  villain to the early Hebrews was an Amorite:  Yapaxu. 
Moreover, one of the most prominent but totally  overlooked themes 
throughout the entire Hebrew Bible is how the Hebrews  gradually displaced the 
Hurrian nobles in Canaan who, at the time of the birth  of Judaism and the 
Hebrews, had dominated the ruling class of Canaan. 
The early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives in  fact had a quite 
low opinion of the Canaanites, because for over a century they  had been “
yesterday’s people”.  Both  the hill country north of Jerusalem, and the  
northeast Ayalon  Valley, being the two main  places where the early Hebrews 
sojourned, had lost about 90% of their Middle  Bronze Age population by the 
time of the Late Bronze Age Patriarchal Age.  That was mainly a startling loss 
of  Canaanite population.  In a real  sense, that opened the door to other 
peoples.  When one looks at the names of the  princelings in Canaan in the 
Amarna Letters,  it’s really quite shocking how relatively few non-Hurrian 
non-Amorite names  there are.  The Canaanites had ruled  the roost in Canaan 
during the Early and Middle Bronze Ages [when Canaan was as  strong as Egypt, 
and there  was a much better, wetter climate in Canaan].  But  now, in the 
mid-14th century BCE in the unduly dry Late Bronze Age,  the new normal was 
that Canaanites had become has-beens in Canaan.  The  Hurrians were more 
cultured, better fighters, more dominant, and more admired in  the eyes of the 
early tent-dwelling Hebrews than were the declining  Canaanites.  Amorites 
were much more  dynamic than the Canaanites, but were few in number.  And 
although the Amorite princeling  Milk-i-Ilu had been great through Year 13, his 
firstborn son Yapaxu was the  [short-lived] nemesis of the first Hebrews. 
3.  You  wrote:  “moreover, mention of these  nations (including the 
semitic ones) has in ezek. 16 a strong negative sense, as  nations that corrupted 
the nation, as clear from his 16:44-48.” 
Yes.  The  Hebrews are viewed as being YHWH’s Chosen People, and they 
should not follow in  the ways of other peoples.  But of  course Ezekiel is 
saying that in relation to his own day, whereas the situation  in the Patriarchal 
Age was quite different. 
I don’t really disagree with what you say;  it’s just that I was trying to 
make a  different point.  Historically, the  Hebrews first arose in a 
Canaan which had the following characteristics [as  accurately reflected 
throughout the Patriarchal narratives, and as fairly  accurately briefly summarized 
in one sentence at Ezekiel 16: 3]:  (i) the Canaanites, who had been  
dominant in Canaan for well over a millennium, were seemingly fading away;  (ii) 
Amorites were more dynamic, but  were few in number;  and (iii)  Canaan had 
for a generation now been dominated, oddly enough, by dashing Hurrian  
charioteers, yet even before the Patriarchs’ very eyes, it seemed that the days  
of the Hurrians too might soon be numbered as well [since the Hurrian 
homeland  of MDYN/Mitanni in eastern Syria was being utterly crushed by the 
Hittites under  mighty Hittite King Suppiluliuma (Biblical “Tidal”)].   Canaan was 
hollowing out.  But what was bad for Canaan as a whole was in fact a 
perfect storm that  benefited the fledgling Hebrews greatly.  No wonder the first 
Hebrews thought that YHWH was on their side!  For the time being the stars 
had aligned  exactly perfectly, against all odds. 
4.  You  wrote:  “by this i do not reject a  miscigenous picture of canaan 
in the early patriarchal time: quite on the  contrary.” 
I agree. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston,  Illinois
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