[b-hebrew] Xireq Compaginis

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Jul 19 17:10:48 EDT 2013


 
Chris Watts: 
You wrote:  “Are you saying that, for example, the first five books of 
Moses  were written when? in your opinion.” 
Let me first answer in terms of xireq compaginis, and  then I’ll answer 
your question in more general terms. 
1.  Xireq  Compaginis.  In the Amarna Letters  from mid-14th century BCE 
Canaan proper [excluding  Lebanon], the only use of  xireq compaginis is by 
the scribe of the Hurrian princeling ruler of Jerusalem, IR-Heba.  Likewise, 
in the entire Hebrew Bible,  the only use of xireq compaginis in prose 
[excluding poetry and proper names] is  in the Patriarchal narratives.   That 
suggests both that (i) the Patriarchal narratives are older than the  rest of 
the Bible, and that (ii) the same scribe who was retained by the first  
tent-dwelling Hebrews in south-central Canaan to record the Patriarchal  
narratives on cuneiform clay tablets may have been one and the same person as  the 
scribe who a few years earlier had worked for IR-Heba, the Hurrian  princeling 
ruler of Jerusalem in the Amarna Letters.  Is that exciting or what?  Here’
s the scholarly documentation of  the foregoing. 
Per Wm. Moran [the editor of  the Amarna Letters] and Robert Hendel [a 
famed Hebrew language expert] (the  latter in 2012), we know that the archaic 
xireq compaginis was occasionally used  in Amarna Letters from Jerusalem and  
Lebanon.  “[Re the first word at Genesis 49: 11:]  The usage of the 
infinitive absolute with final i (usually called a xiriq campaginis) is known from 
the  fourteenth century Amarna Letters from Jerusalem  and Byblos[, Lebanon].”
  Ronald Hendel, “Historical Context”, in  Craig A. Evans, Joel N. Lohr, 
David L. Petersen, editors, “The Book of Genesis:  Composition, 
Interpretation, Reception” (2012), pp. 52-53.  Thus the only  use of xireq compaginis 
from Canaan  proper in the Amarna Letters is by the scribe of IR-Heba, the 
Hurrian princeling  ruler of Jerusalem.   
Several of the peculiarities  of this particular scribe are found in the 
Patriarchal narratives, leading one  to surmise that after leaving IR-Heba’s 
employ in Jerusalem, this particular scribe may have been  the very person 
who was retained by the first tent-dwelling Hebrews to record  the Patriarchal 
narratives on cuneiform tablets.  For example, Scott C. Layton of  Harvard  
University notes that the  only use of xireq compaginis in  non-poetic 
common words in the Hebrew Bible is in the Patriarchal  narratives.  “[T]he 
xireq compaginis is definitely an  archaic morpheme.  With the  exception of two 
occurrences of this morpheme in Genesis 31: 39 [in the  Patriarchal 
narratives], a prose passage, all the remaining instances [in the  Bible] are 
confined to poetry [and proper names, including] Gen. 49.11 [in the  Patriarchal 
narratives]….”  Scott C.  Layton, “Archaic Features of Canaanite Personal 
Names in the Hebrew Bible”  (1990), p. 116. 
2.  Now let  me answer more directly the question that you asked.  I see 
the Patriarchal narratives as  having been composed, and written down on about 
50 cuneiform clay tablets, in  the mid-14th century BCE. 
By contrast, as to all the rest of the Bible, I basically  go with 
mainstream scholarly opinion.  Thus I see the rest of the “five books of Moses”, 
including chapter 36 of  Genesis but excluding all the rest of the Patriarchal 
narratives, as having  multiple authors and as not having been recorded in 
writing until well into the  1st millennium BCE. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston,  Illinois
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