[b-hebrew] Ruth 1:12 "too old for a husband", cultic calendar, shanah

jimstinehart at aol.com jimstinehart at aol.com
Mon Jul 22 21:18:55 EDT 2013

If youbecome interested in this topic, the other good scholarly source to consult isDaniel E. Fleming, “Time at Emar: The Cultic Calendar and the Rituals from theDiviner’s Archive” (2000).
Flemingnotes that the term "head of the year" is known to have been used ofboth the first and seventh months in first millennium Assyria.  Records from Ur III some 2000 years earlier featuresemi-annual rites.  Many other authorshave recognised the importance of both spring and autumn in sacred and civilcalendars in the ancient near east.  Fleming'sown study was primarily focused on Late Bronze Emar.  Bickerman 1968 and Cohen 1993 are both citedas favouring a six month "year", although Bickerman bases this onreligious festivals, while Cohen prefers an astronomical approach based on thetwo equinoxes.  Cohen indeed uses theterm “equinox year” to describe this.  TheHebrew Bible shows some relics of this two-axis approach, with the autumnal "turnof the year" of Exodus 34: 22 balanced by the spring "return of theyear" of 2 Samuel 11: 1, together with the prominence of both spring andautumn festivals.
Flemingconcludes, "All three of these regions [Israel, Mesopotamia and HittiteAnatolia] show less interest in a single new year than in the two axes aboutwhich the year revolves".  It isclear that all around the Fertile Crescent, religious observations came to belocated at or near these axes;  in thecase of Israel these became the festivals of Unleavened Bread and ofIngathering.
In my ownopinion, the Patriarchal narratives are an ancient written text, and as such weshould consider whether an archaic meaning of shanah was used in setting forthpeople’s stated ages in terms of 6-month periods -- “equinox years”.  That results in every age of every person inthe Patriarchal narratives being reasonable.
Bycontrast, the non-archaic meaning of shanah is used in setting forth periods oftime the first Hebrews are portrayed as working in eastern Syria/Naharim and inEgypt.  The early Hebrew author of thePatriarchal narratives knew both the archaic and the non-archaic meaning ofshanah, and he used each in appropriate ways. That insight enables us to come up with an internal chronology of thePatriarchal narratives that is perfect in all regards, without a single mistakeor unreasonable age.  For example, we cancompute all of the following:
1.  Jacob’s 12th named child [countingdaughter Dinah], Joseph, was born 12 tenfold years after Abraham’s birth.
2.  Jacob’s 13th named child,Benjamin, was born 13 tenfold years after Abraham’s birth, when Jacob was thesame age [50 years] as Abraham had been at Isaac’s birth.
3.  The Patriarchal narratives end with Joseph’sdeath at un-doubled age 55 years, and since Joseph was born in Year 120, thatmeans the Patriarchal Age is portrayed as lasting 175 years, being 17½ tenfoldyears.
4.  Abraham dies at  e-x-a-c-t-l-y the half-way point of the Patriarchal Age, dying at stated age 17½ tenfoldshanah [which is age 87½ in 12-month years].
5.  Abraham’s father Terah dies 17½ years afterIsaac’s birth.
6.  Sarah has been barren for 17½ years whenAbraham first meets YHWH.
7.  Judah is born 17½ years after the centennialof Abraham’s birth.
And on andon.  Every number in the Patriarchalnarratives is absolutely perfect, and fits right into an internal Patriarchal timelinethat is fully coherent to a fault. Accordingly, we should not be content with how university scholars viewthese matters:
"The over-all chronological scheme [of the Patriarchalnarratives] remains obscure."  E.A.Speiser, "The Anchor Bible: Genesis”, (1962), at p. 126.
In fact, the internal chronology of the Patriarchal narrativesis perfect in all regards, including being internally consistent and neverusing impossible ages. 

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