"oaks of" vs. "Ayalon --"

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James Stinehart

"oaks of" vs. "Ayalon --"

Postby James Stinehart » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:21 pm

“oaks of” vs. “Ayalon --”

In the Hebrew Bible, the phrase “oaks of” appears three times, and it always has the identical spelling (in Biblical Hebrew). The three instances in the Bible of “oaks of” (construct state masculine plural, following all the normal rules of Hebrew grammar) are as follows:

1. Deuteronomy 11: 30: “oaks of [Moreh]”: אלוני / ’LWNY.

2. Isaiah 2: 13: “oaks of [Bashan]”: אלוני / ’LWNY.

3. Zechariah 11: 2: “oaks of [Bashan]”: אלוני / ’LWNY.

All three feature an interior vav.

We might also note in passing the mere plural of “oak”, namely “oaks” (masculine plural), as opposed to “oaks of”. There is still an interior vav, but the ending is now yod-mem / ים / -YM. Amos 2: 9: “[strong as the] oaks”: אלונים / ’LWNYM.

It is my controversial contention that “oaks of” can only be spelled one way in Biblical Hebrew, namely the way it is spelled at Deuteronomy 11: 30, Isaiah 2: 13 and Zechariah 11: 2, with an interior vav: אלוני / ’LWNY.

To my way of thinking, if there’s no interior vav, then the meaning is not “oaks of”.

As we will see in a later post on this thread, the only translators who agree with this controversial assertion of mine are Onkelos and KJV.

Jim Stinehart

James Stinehart

Re: "oaks of" vs. "Ayalon --"

Postby James Stinehart » Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:57 pm

University scholars worldwide who have published on the Patriarchal narratives say that they are certain that the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” is portrayed in Genesis as being located at or near the site of King David’s first capital city of Hebron, high “up” in southern “hill country” 20 miles south of Jerusalem, being the locale of the “oaks of” Mamre. But in this post, we will find that this certainty of Genesis scholars seems to have little to do with Biblical Hebrew words that appear in the Patriarchal narratives.

In terms of certainty, surely we cannot depend on the name “Hebron” itself, since (i) two different places could have the same name, (ii) in particular, King David’s first capital city could have been named in honor of the Patriarchs’ Hebron, rather than the two being located at one and the same place, especially since II Samuel never once says that King David established his first capital city of Hebron at the same place where the Patriarchs of old had sojourned, and (iii) we know for certain that in the Bronze Age, the site of King David’s later city of Hebron was not called “Hebron”. Accordingly, we on the b-Hebrew list should examine the Biblical Hebrew common words that comprise the description of the Patriarchs’ “Hebron”, to see if such Biblical Hebrew common words do or do not match the site of King David’s later first capital city of Hebron.

1. Oak Trees

The Patriarchal narratives reflect the drought-like conditions that were prevalent in Late Bronze Age Canaan by referencing a harsh drought-famine in all three generations of the Patriarchs: Genesis 12: 10 (Abram); Genesis 26: 1 (Isaac); Genesis 41: 57 (Jacob and Joseph). In that abnormally dry time period, the highest altitude city in southern Canaan, where King David later established his first capital, would not have had a magnificent grove of oak trees. The conventional English translation “oaks of Mamre” at Genesis 13: 18 is indeed an oxymoron, if the mountainous site 20 miles south of Jerusalem is being referenced: Abram has just returned to Canaan from Egypt after escaping a drought-famine in Canaan (Genesis 12: 10), and in that abnormally dry time period, there would not have been a notable grove of magnificent oak trees way “up” in southern “hill country”. Moreover, as shown in my first post on this thread, the Biblical Hebrew phrase “oaks of” requires an interior vav, and there is no interior vav in the applicable phrase at Genesis 13: 18.

2. “Up” / ‘alah / ‘LH / עלה

The city of Hebron south of Jerusalem is high “up” / ‘alah / ‘LH / עלה in “hill country” / har / HR / הר. The two most obvious attributes of the site of the modern city of Hebron are that it is located (i) “up” / ‘alah / ‘LH / עלה in (ii) “hill country” / har / HR / הר. But although those two Hebrew common words are frequently used in the Patriarchal narratives in other contexts, not once is anyone in the last 40 chapters of Genesis ever said to go “up” / ‘alah to the Patriarchs’ “Hebron”, nor is the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” ever said to be in “hill country” / har, or to be characterized by hills (har) or mountains (har).

In the first three verses of chapter 2 of II Samuel, David is said five times to go “up” / ‘alah to the high-altitude city of Hebron. But although the Patriarchal narratives use the word “up” / ‘alah a total of 51 times in other contexts, not once is anyone ever said to go “up” / ‘alah to the Patriarchs’ “Hebron”.

We are beginning to see that if we focus on Biblical Hebrew common words (the long suit of the b-Hebrew list), there is little or nothing in the Patriarchal narratives that indicates that the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” was located at or near the site of King David’s first capital city. The scholarly certainty that the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” is located at or near King David’s first capital city, 20 miles south of Jerusalem, does not seem to be based on any Biblical Hebrew words in the last 40 chapters of Genesis. Rather, we will find that the scholarly analysis of this matter is done on a completely different basis, and proceeds i-n s-p-i-t-e o-f (rather than being based on) the Biblical Hebrew words that are found in the Patriarchal narratives.

3. “Hill country” / har / HR / הר

On four occasions, the Book of Joshua refers to the city of Hebron as being characterized by har (“hill country” or “mountains” or “hills”). Joshua 11: 21 (twice); 20: 7; 21: 11. Yet although the last 40 chapters of Genesis use the word har / “hill country” 16 times in other contexts, not once is the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” ever characterized by use of the word har (“hill country” or “mountain(s)” or “hill(s)”).

How can university scholars be certain that the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” is located “up” in southern “hill country”, given that the words “up” and “hill country” are never used in the Patriarchal narratives in that regard? (Answer: the scholarly analysis of this issue proceeds i-n s-p-i-t-e o-f , rather than being based on, the Biblical Hebrew words that are found in the Patriarchal narratives.)

4. “Valley” / “vale” / emeq / ‘MQ / עמק

The Hebrew word emeq / ‘MQ / עמק means “valley”, but only in the sense of a “true valley” that is a large, low-lying tract of land surrounded by higher land. Throughout the Bible, when used in the context of southern Canaan, emeq consistently refers to the Shephelah: either the entire Shephelah, or any one or more of the valleys west of hill country and east of the coastal area (such as the Ayalon Valley) that collectively constitute the Shephelah.

Now consider that Genesis 37: 14 explicitly refers to the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” as being an emeq, that is, a “true valley”. Since the context is southern Canaan (southwest or south of Bethel), the Hebrew word emeq / “true valley” would be expected to refer to one of the constituent valleys of the Shephelah (such as the Ayalon Valley), certainly not the mountainous site of King David’s first capital city high “up” in southern “hill country”.

* * *

As we are seeing on this thread, it does not appear that Biblical Hebrew common words in the Patriarchal narratives support the scholarly view that the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” is allegedly portrayed in Genesis as being located by “oak trees”, at or near the site of King David’s later first capital city of Hebron, 20 miles south of Jerusalem. The Biblical Hebrew phrase that means “oaks of” is not present in the text, since the required interior vav is missing (per my first post on this thread); the words “up” and “hill country” are conspicuously absent; and the Biblical Hebrew common word that denotes the low-lying Shephelah, emeq, is right there in the text at Genesis 37: 14.

We begin to see that as to the location of the Patriarchs’ “Hebron”, university scholars who specialize in the Patriarchal narratives seem largely to ignore the Biblical Hebrew words in the last 40 chapters of Genesis. Instead, to a great extent they base their view of their alleged geographical location of the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” on the following totally bogus and false mantra: “hate Israel, hate Israel, hate Israel”. University scholars insist that the Patriarchal narratives are pure fiction ginned up by Assyria-hating, Israel-hating Jews in mid-1st millennium BCE Jerusalem. On t-h-a-t basis, and largely ignoring the Biblical Hebrew common words in the text, university scholars insist that the Patriarchs’ favorite place to sojourn m-u-s-t be located on land that later became part of Judah (not Israel). Not!

The b-Hebrew list could do the world a great favor if, in analyzing issues like this, we insist on looking at the Biblical Hebrew words that are in the text of the last 40 chapters of Genesis, and we totally reject -- as being totally false -- the scholarly mantra of “hate Israel, hate Israel, hate Israel”. It is my own considered opinion that the Patriarchal narratives were in fact composed in the Late Bronze Age by an early Hebrew tent-dweller who did not dislike Assyria or Israel or northern Canaan in the slightest. To overcome the erroneous, non-historical scholarly analysis of the Patriarchal narratives, we on the b-Hebrew list should focus on the Biblical Hebrew words that are in the last 40 chapters of Genesis. That’s the long suit of the b-Hebrew list.

Jim Stinehart

James Stinehart

Re: "oaks of" vs. "Ayalon --"

Postby James Stinehart » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:42 am

At three different places in the Patriarchal narratives -- Genesis 13: 18; 14: 13: 18: 1 -- we see the following eight Hebrew letters: ’LNYMMR’ / אלניממרא. All modern translators treat the first four of those Hebrew letters as rendering “oaks of”, b-u-t: (i) per my first post on this thread, “oaks of” is always spelled elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible with an interior vav, which is conspicuously absent here; (ii) there would be no magnificent grove of oak trees at the site of King David’s later first capital city, 20 miles south of Jerusalem high “up” in “hill country”, during the Patriarchal Age, which was so abnormally dry that each Patriarch faces a drought-famine in Canaan; (iii) nothing in the Biblical Hebrew common words in the last 40 chapters of Genesis matches to the site of King David’s Hebron; and (iv) it is perhaps a bit suspicious that university scholars have declined to ask if the interior yod in that 8-letter sequence may be a ḫireq compaginis.

This post is limited to the question of whether the interior yod in the middle of those eight Hebrew letters is a ḫireq compaginis.

The ḫireq compaginis is an archaic Hebrew grammatical form that functions exactly as a modern dash, --. The ḫireq compaginis is used throughout the Hebrew Bible in proper names and in poetry. For example, the normal form of Abraham’s birth name -- both elsewhere in the Bible and non-Biblically -- is Ab -i- ram, featuring a ḫireq compaginis. As with a modern dash, the ḫireq compaginis simultaneously separates, yet links, the two different components of this name.

The Patriarchal narratives is the only portion of the Bible where ḫireq compaginis is used in prose. That suggests that the Patriarchal narratives are older than the rest of the Bible, having been composed in the Late Bronze Age. If so, then the “hate Israel, hate Israel, hate Israel” typical scholarly analysis of the Patriarchal narratives goes completely out the window, because in the Late Bronze Age, there was no Hebrew hatred of Israel whatsoever.

Scott C. Layton of Harvard notes that the only use of ḫireq compaginis in non-poetic common words in the Hebrew Bible is in the Patriarchal narratives: “[T]he ḫireq 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.

Biblical Hebrew language expert Ronald Hendel notes that ḫireq compaginis is found in Amarna Letters (written in cuneiform) from Jerusalem: “[Re the first word at Genesis 49: 11:] The usage of the infinitive absolute with final i (usually called a ḫireq compaginis) 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.

If the interior yod in the above eight Hebrew letters is a ḫireq compaginis, then those eight Hebrew letters are properly divided as follows: ’LN -Y- MMR’ / אלניממרא. If so, then (i) there’s nothing about “oaks of” there, (ii) the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” is not located anywhere in the general vicinity of the site of King David’s first capital city of Hebron, high “up” in “hill country” 20 miles south of Jerusalem (with the words “up” and “hill country” never appearing in Genesis regarding the Patriarchs’ “Hebron”), and (iii) the Patriarchal narratives are really old, long pre-dating any anti-Israel sentiment, and indeed dating all the long way back to the Late Bronze Age.

So it is of h-u-g-e importance to ask on this thread whether the interior yod in ’LNYMMR’ / אלניממרא is a ḫireq compaginis. If those eight Hebrew letters are properly divided (per my view) as ’LN -Y- MMR’, then the entire scholarly analysis of the Patriarchal narratives to date is dead wrong: there’s no reference to “oaks of”, there’s no reference to the Hebron 20 miles south of Jerusalem, and there’s no anti-Israel sentiment in the Patriarchal narratives. Hey guys, it’s a whole new ball game!

Jim Stinehart

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1249
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Re: "oaks of" vs. "Ayalon --"

Postby Isaac Fried » Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:00 pm

As I see it, the ending -IY in אֹסְרִי of Gen. 49:11, is the contracted personal pronoun היא, 'he', for the performer of the act אסר ASR, 'bind, tether'.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1249
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: "oaks of" vs. "Ayalon --"

Postby Isaac Fried » Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:09 pm

Thank you for calling our attention to the Scott C. Layton book, “Archaic Features of Canaanite Personal Names in the Hebrew Bible”
Speaking about biblical names, it occurred to me to bring up the name אֵסַרחַדֹּן of Isaiah 37:37-38
וַיִּסַּע וַיֵּלֶךְ וַיָּשָׁב סַנְחֵרִיב מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר וַיֵּשֶׁב בְּנִינְוֵה וַיְהִי הוּא מִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה בֵּית נִסְרֹךְ אֱלֹהָיו וְאַדְרַמֶּלֶךְ וְשַׂרְאֶצֶר בָּנָיו הִכֻּהוּ בַחֶרֶב וְהֵמָּה נִמְלְטוּ אֶרֶץ אֲרָרָט וַיִּמְלֹךְ אֵסַר-חַדֹּן בְּנוֹ תַּחְתָּיו
which I think is composed of איש-שר-אח-אדוֹן

Isaac Fried, Boston University

James Stinehart

Re: "oaks of" vs. "Ayalon --"

Postby James Stinehart » Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:21 pm

1. Isaac Fried wrote: “As I see it, the ending -IY in אֹסְרִי of Gen. 49:11, is the contracted personal pronoun היא, 'he', for the performer of the act אסר ASR, 'bind, tether'.”

But it would be odd, wouldn’t it, for three Hebrew letters, he – yod – aleph, to be contracted to simply being yod alone? More likely is that the yod after the first word in the poetry of Genesis 49: 11 is a ḫireq compaginis.

2. If we accept (as I do) the scholarly consensus that the Patriarchal narratives have greater usage of the archaic ḫireq compaginis than in the rest of the Bible, that logically means (though university scholars are surprisingly reluctant to admit this) that the Patriarchal narratives may well be much older than the rest of the Bible. The two Biblical Hebrew questions raised by this thread are whether, in the phrase at issue at Genesis 13: 18; 14: 13; 18: 1, this is a truly ancient phrase that includes both (i) an archaic ḫireq compaginis, and (ii) an archaic 3-letter defective spelling of “Ayalon”. The rest of this post focuses on the second such issue.

Virtually every proper name in the Patriarchal narratives uses defective Hebrew spelling. (Unlike proper names, many common words in the Patriarchal narratives have plene spelling.) Thus although the plene spelling of “Ayalon” in later books of the Bible has both an interior yod and an interior vav, the spelling of “Ayalon” in the Patriarchal narratives would not be expected to use either an optional interior yod/Y/י or an optional interior vav/W/ו, because that is inconsistent with the defective spelling of proper names in the last 40 chapters of Genesis.

In later books in the Bible, “Ayalon” usually has full plene spelling, but on rare occasion it has partial defective spelling. The full plene spelling of “Ayalon” is ’YLWN / אילון. See e.g. Joshua 19: 42. The interior yod/Y/י near the beginning of the plene spelling of this name appears to be optional, as the name of a man from Ayalon is first spelled at Judges 12: 11 using the plene spelling of “Ayalon”, but then in the very next verse, at Judges 12: 12, that same man’s name is spelled without that interior yod/Y/י: ’LWN / אלון. The interior vav/W/ו near the end of the plene spelling of this name likewise is optional, as it is not used at I Samuel 14: 31: ’YLN / אילן. Therefore, the defective spelling of the name “Ayalon”, which is what we would expect to see in the Patriarchal narratives (rather than the plene spelling or partial defective spelling found in later books of the Bible), would have neither an interior yod/Y/י near the beginning nor an interior vav/W/ו near the end, and as such would be the following three Hebrew letters: ’LN / אלנ. [Note: Because the name “Ayalon” in the text of the Patriarchal narratives is always followed by another letter, the Hebrew letter for nun/N shown here is the form [נ] that applies when nun/N is followed by another letter, not the form [ן] that would apply if the nun/N were the final letter.]

It is my theory of the case that the Patriarchal narratives were both composed, and recorded in cuneiform writing, in the Late Bronze Age. The Late Bronze Age was the only time when, for example: (i) drought-famines in Canaan were common (as experienced by each of the Hebrew Patriarchs); (ii) Hurrians -- Biblical Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, “Hittites”, Perizzites, Rephaims, Girgashites and Jebusites -- dominated much of Canaan and Syria (per Genesis 15: 19-21); and (iii) early Hebrew tent-dwellers hoped that a Ra-loving semi-monotheistic pharaoh might be sympathetic to their cause (hence “ra” appears in the middle of all three divinely-changed names of Hebrew Patriarchs #1 and #3 and Hebrew Matriarch #1 -- Ab-ra-ham, Sa-ra-h, Is-ra-el). If the Late Bronze Age in general, and Year 13 in particular (per Genesis 14: 4), is the applicable historical time period, then we need to look at Late Bronze Age non-Biblical spellings of “Ayalon”.

The Late Bronze Age features five attested spellings of the geographical place name “Ayalon” in non-Biblical sources: three times on the 15th century BCE Thutmose III list of places in Canaan, and twice in the mid-14th century BCE Amarna Letters. On four of those five occasions, the spelling of “Ayalon” consists of a two-syllable root, plus a standard one-syllable suffix that means “place” or “city”: three syllables, which would be expected to be rendered in Biblical Hebrew by three Hebrew letters. Item #100 on the Thutmose III list has ya-lu -tu (or possibly, though less likely, ya-ru -tu, as Egyptian hieroglyphics do not distinguish R from L); -tu is one of the two standard suffixes meaning “city” or “place” (with the other being -na). The scribe of Hurrian princeling ruler IR-Ḫeba of Jerusalem likewise spells the name ia-lu -na (Amarna Letter EA 287: 57); that is comparable to ya-lu -tu, simply using a different standard suffix. Those four three-syllable spellings are similar to the three-letter defective Hebrew spelling one should expect in the Patriarchal narratives: ’L -N / אלנ. (The initial aleph is likely prosthetic. On one theory of the case, that initial prosthetic aleph may be shorthand for the aleph-yod beginning that one sees in the plene spelling of this name in later books of the Bible.)

The only exception to the 3-syllable spelling of “Ayalon” in the Late Bronze Age is at Amarna Letter EA 273: 20 [from an otherwise unknown female ruler adjacent to the Ayalon Valley], which is a four-syllable spelling: a-ia-lu -na. Only that spelling would correspond to a four-Hebrew letter spelling: ’YL -N / אילן. [In the Amarna Age, A- was sometimes added at the beginning of a name on an optional basis in order to lengthen it and make it grander, without changing the underlying meaning of the name. For example, instead of beginning a west Semitic name with Ad-du (meaning the god Hadad), the name could be lengthened to A- ad-du -mi at Amarna Letter EA 170: 17. There are numerous examples of this phenomenon for Hurrian names at Nuzi. Thus in the Late Bronze Age (when “Ayalon” is first attested as a geographical place name), the basic name of the town (the form normally used by non-locals) may likely have been ia-lu -na, with an optional, lengthened, grander form being a- ia-lu -na (perhaps used primarily by locals).]

Based on four of the five attested spellings of “Ayalon” in the Late Bronze Age, we would expect the following three-syllable / three-Hebrew letter spelling of this name in the Patriarchal narratives (if, as I view the case, the Patriarchal narratives are a written cuneiform text from the mid-14th century BCE): ’L -N / אלנ. [That is ia-lu -na, where the first syllable, ia-, is rendered by prosthetic aleph, perhaps being, though not necessarily being, a shortened version of a- ia / ’Y / אי.]

As an alternative explanation (to the above suggestion that A- may have been added to this town’s name on an optional basis by locals to make the name grander), note that in Biblical Hebrew, both ’L / אל and ’YL / איל can have as one of their meanings “strong”. (The former most often references the Almighty [God, who is strong]. While the latter most often references a ram [which is strong], it can also reference a strong tree, and in the plural it can mean “mighty men”.) It is uncertain which is the older form, and whether one derives from the other. It is possible that, at least in some ways, ’L / אל is merely a shortened version of ’YL / איל, with the focus in both cases being “strong, mighty”. In any event, it is not particularly surprising that (under various scenarios) way back in the Late Bronze Age, a city name could alternatively start with either ’L / אל or ’YL / איל, since both can mean “mighty”. Thus even though, by the 7th century BCE, the spelling in Jerusalem of the name “Ayalon” had settled on ’YL / איל at the beginning, it is very possible that 700 years earlier, the standard spelling (in cuneiform) of that town’s name in that much earlier time period may instead have in effect started with ’L / אל.

The scribe of the Hurrian princeling ruler IR-Ḫeba of Jerusalem spells “Ayalon” ia-lu -na, with only three syllables. His spelling of this name is very important, because he may have been the very scribe who was hired by the early tent-dwelling Hebrews to record the Patriarchal narratives in cuneiform writing. In that connection, consider his many peculiarities that exactly dovetail with the text of the Patriarchal narratives. (i) We have just seen that he spells “Ayalon” as ia-lu -na which, as discussed below, is an exact match to the Biblical Hebrew spelling of “Ayalon” that is found in the Patriarchal narratives: ’L -N / אלנ. (ii) In my previous post, I noted that he is the only Amarna Letters scribe in Canaan who uses a ḫireq compaginis, with the Patriarchal narratives being the only portion of the Bible that uses that archaic grammatical form in prose. (iii) The only place to find the number 318 in the Bible is at Genesis 14: 14, and in the Amarna Letters is from IR-Ḫeba at EA 287: 55. (iv) Note the odd penchant for frequent use of numbers generally, including the following round numbers: 10 and 20 and 50 and 80. (v) The Canaanite word zu-ru-uḫ, literally meaning “arm”, which is Biblical Hebrew ZRW‘ / זרוע [with the final Hebrew ayin rendering ghayin], is used in both sources in connection with describing the strength of a powerful monotheistic person in Egypt: Genesis 49: 24 (Joseph); Amarna Letter EA 287: 27 (pharaoh Akhenaten). (vi) “Naharim” at Amarna Letter EA 288: 35 matches Genesis 24: 10, and the phrase “land of the Kassites” (not Chaldeans!) appears both at Amarna Letter EA 288: 36 and (as KŠ-D-YM / Ka-ši -du -ym) at Genesis 11: 28, 31. And finally, (vii) there is a notable frequency of confusion of sibilants in proper names (more than in any other Amarna Letters or in any other part of the Bible, especially sin vs. shin), as routinely noted by many scholars as to the Amarna Letters from Jerusalem. All of these peculiarities suggest that the scribe who was chosen by the tent-dwelling Hebrews to record the Patriarchal narratives in cuneiform writing may very well have been IR-Ḫeba’s scribe from Jerusalem (with Jerusalem being located not far from the northern Ayalon Valley / the Patriarchs’ “Hebron”).

Per the analysis above, there are numerous reasons to think that the Biblical Hebrew defective spelling of the geographical place name “Ayalon” that we would expect to see in the Patriarchal narratives is: ’L -N / אלנ.

In the text of the Patriarchal narratives, we only see the name “Ayalon” (if we see it at all) in the following phrase: “Ayalon -- Mamre”. The dash [--] in the middle of that phrase is important, because it is one of the key reasons why this phrase is routinely misinterpreted as supposedly meaning “oaks of Mamre” (even though the standard spelling of “oaks of” does not appear in this phrase, since there is no interior vav). Per my prior post, I interpret the dash [--] in the middle of that phrase as being a yod functioning as a ḫireq compaginis.

Since use of the ḫireq compaginis is found in the Patriarchal narratives, and defective spelling of proper names is expected in the Patriarchal narratives, the expected spelling of the phrase “Ayalon -- Mamre”, used as a proper name / geographical place name, would then be the following eight Hebrew letters in the Patriarchal narratives: ’L -N -Y- MMR’ / אלניממרא. Conceptually, this name / phrase, comprised of eight Hebrew letters, consists of the following three component parts: (i) the defective spelling of “Ayalon”, namely ’L -N / אלנ; (ii) an interior yod/Y/י, being the ḫireq compaginis; and (iii) the name “Mamre”, spelled MMR’ / ממרא.

We see precisely those eight Hebrew letters on three occasions in the Patriarchal narratives, at Genesis 13: 18; 14: 13; 18: 1. This has nothing to do with “oaks of”. Rather, ’L -N -Y- MMR’ / אלניממרא means: “Ayalon -- Mamre”.

On the above reading (and to examine whether the above controversial reading is correct), the Patriarchal narratives flat out tell us that in Year 13 (Genesis 14: 4), the princeling ruler of the Ayalon Valley (Biblical “Mamre the Amorite”, at the Patriarchs’ “Hebron”) was, oddly enough, an Amorite (Genesis 14: 13). Historically, in Year 13 there was only one Amorite princeling ruler in the entirety of southern Canaan (per the Amarna Letters), and he was the princeling ruler of: the Ayalon Valley. No Jewish or Greek author in the 1st millennium BCE could possibly have known that. No way. Rather, the Patriarchal narratives are a H-e-b-r-e-w composition all the way, in every way, and the mindset of the Patriarchal narratives is consistently Year 13. It all checks out! Even down to the minute detail of the linguistic peculiarities of the scribe from Amarna Age Jerusalem who was hired by the early Hebrew tent-dwellers to record the Patriarchal narratives in cuneiform. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g matches. Forget Jewish and Greek. Think Hebrew.

Jim Stinehart

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1249
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: "oaks of" vs. "Ayalon --"

Postby Isaac Fried » Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:28 pm

A declarative name need not end in היא but in הוּא, as in
רְמַלְיָהוּ = רם-אל-יה-הוּא
יִרְמְיָהוּ = היא-רם-יה-הוּא
אֵלִיָּהוּ = אל-היא-יה-הוּא
אֲדֹנִיָּהוּ = אדוֹן-היא-יה-הוּא


Isaac Fried, Boston University

James Stinehart

Re: "oaks of" vs. "Ayalon --"

Postby James Stinehart » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:31 pm

On my theory of the case, which sees “Ayalon” as being expressly referenced at Genesis 13: 18; 14: 13; and 18: 1 and as being the geographical locale of the Patriarchs’ “Hebron”, it is critically important to confirm that Abram took the Diagonal Route southwest from Bethel at Genesis 12: 9, going right through the Ayalon Valley.

KJV translates Genesis 12: 9 as: “And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.”

Most modern translations are similar to KJV. But the New Revised Standard Version uses the phrase “by stages”:
NRSV: “And Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb.”

Robert Alter, who chooses his words carefully, translates Genesis 12: 9 almost the same as NRSV: “And Abram journeyed onward by stages to the Negeb.”

For the reasons set forth below, I would suggest the following translation of Genesis 12: 9:
“And Abram journeyed on, going by stages toward the south.”

It would be very natural for Abram and his large party to take the Diagonal Route “by stages” southwest from Bethel, whereas it would be virtually impossible to proceed along the mountainous Watershed Ridge Route straight south from Bethel “by stages”. Accordingly, it is actually quite important for us to ask here what the Masoretic text says in Hebrew. Did Abram take the Diagonal Route from Bethel through the Shephelah, passing through the Ayalon Valley? Or, as university scholars seem to assume is the case, did Jewish authors in mid-1st millennium BCE Jerusalem, who loved Jerusalem more than life itself, portray Abram as travelling straight south from Bethel, taking the Watershed Ridge Route, with the Biblical text oddly “forgetting” to mention that Abram literally went right by Jerusalem? How on earth could Jewish authors, for whom Jerusalem was the be-all and the end-all, allegedly “forget” to mention that Abram literally went right by Jerusalem? Is that scholarly view plausible?

On the b-Hebrew list, let’s be brave enough to ask what Genesis 12: 9 actually says (in Hebrew).

Genesis 12: 9 uses the Hebrew verb nas‘a / NÇ‘ / נסע, which means “to journey” or “to travel”, twice, with the Hebrew verb halak / ḪLK / חלך, meaning “to go”, in between the two instances of nas‘a. In m-o-d-e-r-n English (as opposed to the Elizabethan English of KJV), the KJV phrase “journeyed, going on still” does not accurately convey the Hebrew meaning here. Rather, use of the Hebrew verb nas‘a twice has the effective meaning of “to journey by stages”. That is to say, rather than making a beeline for the Negev Desert (which makes no substantive sense anyway), Abram is journeying “by stages” in a southerly direction (actually, southwest), taking his time, looking around, making frequent long stops, and being in no particular hurry. In m-o-d-e-r-n English, adding the word “still” implies that Abram is relentlessly pressing on, whereas the Biblical Hebrew text has the opposite meaning.

As usual, the Biblical Hebrew text here is perfect, whereas the English translations are poor, being quite misleading. Perhaps the best analysis of the Hebrew language used here is by Gordon Wenham, at pp. 267, 281 of “Genesis 1-15”:

“Notes…[Genesis 12:] 9.b. Inf absolutes נסע and חלך…. Inf abs of חלך expresses continuing action…. ‘Went on traveling toward the Negeb’ summarizes several stages in Abram’s journey southward. The grammatical construction (see Notes) suggests a series of encampments. The root נסע [means] ‘travel’….”

The Diagonal Route lazily winds its way southwest through the entire Shephelah, beginning with the Ayalon Valley on the north and ending on the northern edge of the Negev Desert. Abram, his people, and their animals proceed along the Diagonal Route “by stages”, taking their time, and making “a series of encampments” throughout the Shephelah.

Just as surely, such a travel pattern would be impossible along the Watershed Ridge Route, which goes from Bethel past Jerusalem to King David’s city of Hebron. It is a narrow, mountainous path, with no room to the left or right. Abram, his people, and their animals could not possibly proceed along the Watershed Ridge Route “by stages”, taking their time, and making “a series of encampments”.

Accordingly, Genesis 12: 9 could be annotated to read as follows:

“And Abram journeyed on, going by stages [first to the Ayalon Valley, and then southwest through the Shephelah] toward the south.”

Now consider that if Abram took the Diagonal Route, then the first and last place Abram saw after leaving Bethel, and before returning to Bethel, was the Ayalon Valley. Thus it would make all the sense in the world for Abram to decide to return to the Ayalon Valley after parting ways with Lot at Bethel. In the Late Bronze Age, the Ayalon Valley had lost 90% of its Middle Bronze Age population, due to drought conditions. Instead of farmland, perfect for viticulture, as it was during all other time periods, uniquely in the Late Bronze Age the rural northern Ayalon Valley had reverted to its natural state of being pastureland. With virtually no humans there, but plenty of grass for sheep and goats, the rural northern Ayalon Valley in the Late Bronze Age was the p-e-r-f-e-c-t place for Abram to choose to sojourn in tents, a veritable nirvana for Abram’s desired lifestyle, as it were. [“Hebron” / ḫa-bu-ru-u[n]-ne / ḪBRWN / חברון is the Hurrian word for “nirvana”.] In its 3-letter form (Hebrew defective spelling), we see “Ayalon” / ’LN / אלנ three times in the text (followed by a yod as a ḫireq compaginis) -- Genesis 13: 18; 14: 13; 18: 1 -- as being the locale of the Patriarchs’ “Hebron”. And Yes, both historically and Biblically, the princeling ruler of the Ayalon Valley in Year 13 [Genesis 14: 4] was, quite uniquely, an Amorite.

As usual, all aspects of the Biblical Hebrew words in the last 40 chapters of Genesis make perfect sense, on all levels. The Hebrew Patriarchs and Matriarchs were never anywhere in the general vicinity of either Jerusalem or the later site of King David’s city of Hebron. Not. Please note that no group of Israel-hating Jewish authors in 1st millennium BCE Jerusalem (the scholarly presumption as to the authorship of the Patriarchal narratives) would create an itinerary like that for the Hebrew Patriarchs and Matriarchs, where they are never at any time in the heartland of Judah. No way. Rather, the Patriarchal narratives are a H-e-b-r-e-w composition, from the Late Bronze Age, all the way, in every way, with no negative feeling toward the northern two-thirds of Canaan whatsoever. The Patriarchs’ “Hebron” is the rural northern Ayalon Valley -- being a true emeq / עמק, per Genesis 37: 14.

Jim Stinehart

James Stinehart

Re: "oaks of" vs. "Ayalon --"

Postby James Stinehart » Tue Mar 19, 2019 6:27 pm

Onkelos refused to translate ’LN -Y- / אלני at Genesis 13: 18 as “oaks of”. Onkelos is thought to have had the best understanding of Biblical Hebrew of any translator. He must have known that ’LN -Y- MMR’ / אלניממרא cannot mean “oaks of Mamre”, both on the basis of the interior vav being missing that would be required for “oaks of”, and also because the mountainous city of Hebron would not have featured oak trees during the abnormally dry Patriarchal Age, when drought-famines were commonplace in Canaan -- each Hebrew Patriarch is portrayed as facing a drought-famine in Canaan. Yet Onkelos was unwilling to upset the conventional wisdom that the Patriarchs’ favorite place to sojourn was supposedly at the site of the modern city of Hebron (in the heart of Judah), rather than in the rural northern Ayalon Valley (on the southern edge of Israel). So Onkelos, in translating Biblical Hebrew into Aramaic (about 100 A.D or so), came up with a word out of the clear blue sky (as he had a habit of doing on rare occasion), namely the word “plain”, which was in due course picked up by KJV. But as many people have correctly noted, the word “plain” is simply not possible in Hebrew for this phrase.

Instead of a non-standard (essentially impossible) spelling of “oaks of Mamre”, what we in fact have at Genesis 13: 18; 14: 13; 18: 1 is the expected (defective) Hebrew spelling of the phrase “Ayalon -- Mamre”, which has as its implied / intended meaning: “the Ayalon Valley in the days of princeling ruler Mamre the Amorite”. Note that “Mamre” always refers to a human being, rather than sometimes being a geographical place name as conventionally thought; Mamre the Amorite is the princeling ruler of the Ayalon Valley. (Biblical Mamre the Amorite = historical Milkilu the Amorite: the princeling ruler at Gezer of the Ayalon Valley at the beginning of Year 13. As per usual, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g checks out, including on the historical level.)

Here are the three Bible verses in the Patriarchal narratives that expressly reference “Ayalon”, using my literal understanding of this key phrase:

“Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in Ayalon -- Mamre, that is [asher], at [the place the Patriarchs affectionately called] ‘Hebron’, and built there an altar unto the LORD.” Genesis 13: 18

“And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in Ayalon -- [in the days of] Mamre the Amorite, brother [fellow princeling] of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.” Genesis 14: 13

“And the LORD appeared unto him in Ayalon -- Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day”. Genesis 18: 1

In all three cases, the text is telling us that Abram lived in the Ayalon Valley during the days when Mamre the Amorite was the princeling ruler thereof: “Ayalon -- Mamre” / ’LN -Y- MMR’ / אלניממרא. It’s right there in the received text, once we know to look for the defective Hebrew spelling of “Ayalon”, followed by a ḫireq compaginis.

Jim Stinehart

Mark Lightman
Posts: 88
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:33 pm

Re: "oaks of" vs. "Ayalon --"

Postby Mark Lightman » Wed Mar 20, 2019 6:43 pm

James Stinehart wrote:Onkelos refused to translate ’LN -Y- / אלני at Genesis 13: 18 as “oaks of”. Onkelos is thought to have had the best understanding of Biblical Hebrew of any translator.

Agreed Onkelos knew Hebrew well, as did, I think, the author of the Graecus Venetus:
Gen 13:18b: ...ἥκει τε καὶ ἐκαθέσθη ἐν ταῖς δρυσὶ μαμερέως ταῖς ἐν χεβρῶνι...
Mark Lightman


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