[b-hebrew] Ruth 1:12 too old for a husband

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Jul 23 12:22:57 EDT 2013

Jonathan Mohler: 
Thank you so much for being somewhat amenable to my  assertion that Rebekah 
may have been implied to be age 15 years when she married  Isaac.  We at 
least agree she wasn’t  age 3! 
1.  You  wrote:  “The idea of a half year  "shanah" is a nice theory.  But 
even it suffers from what it would do the  stories of the patriarchal 
accounts.  Pharaoh's exchange with Jacob comes  to mind.  60 years would hardly 
deserve Pharaoh's comment: ‘How many are  the days of the years of your life?
Au contraire, that is a brilliant line in the Bible.  Jacob is stated age 
130 shanah, meaning  that he is age 65 years, in 12-month years.  In the 
ancient world, only a very spry  65-year-old could lead a large number of people 
from Canaan to  Egypt!  Very few people lived to age 65 in the  ancient 
world, yet Jacob not only lives that long, he at that advanced age leads  all 
the Hebrews from Canaan into Egypt. 
But by not saying 65 but rather stating that Jacob was  age 13 tenfold 
shanah, that focuses attention on the number 13 [a focus which  would not be 
possible if shanah were being used with its non-archaic meaning of  a 12-month 
year].  Note that just  after Jacob is said to be age 13 tenfold shanah, 
Joseph is portrayed as doing  what historically happened in Year 13 of Akhenaten
’s 17-year reign:  Joseph confiscates much valuable land  along the Nile  
River for Pharaoh at  firesale prices. 
Similarly brilliant is the statement at Genesis 47: 28  that Jacob was an 
early monotheistic leader of his people in Egypt for 17 shanah, knowing that 
historically  Akhenaten was an early monotheistic leader of his people in 
Egypt for 17  years. 
We begin to see that by using shanah with the archaic  meaning of a 6-month 
period, the early Hebrew author ingeniously lets us know  the  e-x-a-c-t  
years in which these various historical  events occurred. 
2.  You  wrote:  “The idea is novel, but  there is no direct entailment 
between equinoxes and a six month year.  Additionally, it can't overcome the 
fact that they kept twelve-month  years.  The very mention of a seventh month, 
which may or may not suggest  that they acknowledged the equinox, entails a 
twelve-month year.  The  language above simply shows that they recognized a 
turning point in the  year.” 
Yes.  And  accordingly, a brilliant early Hebrew author could decide to set 
forth the  stated ages of all people in the Patriarchal narratives in terms 
of how many  “turning points in the year” had transpired, that is, in 
terms of “equinox  years”, being periods of 6 months.   W-h-y  did he make that 
 seemingly odd choice?  Because it  instantly doubled his chances of using 
effective numerical symbolism, such as  allowing the stated age of 
65-year-old Jacob to recall Year 13 [per Jacob’s  stated age being 13 tenfold 
shanah].  One key proof that the early Hebrew author did in fact choose that gambit 
 is that  e-v-e-r-y  age throughout the Patriarchal  narratives, beginning 
with Abraham’s father Terah, makes perfect sense on all  levels, if and only 
if shanah is viewed as having its archaic meaning of a  6-month period. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston,  Illinois
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