The Story of Ezer and Elead (and What It Means for the Exodus)

Tucked away amidst the genealogies of Chronicles almost no one reads, the tale of two cattle-rustling brothers from Ephraim might just be the most obscure story in the Bible. Like many such tales in the Old Testament, this one is brief and contains only the most essential details:

The sons of Ephraim…Ezer and Elead. Now the men of Gath, who were born in the land, killed them, because they came down to raid their cattle. And their father Ephraim mourned many days, and his brothers came to comfort him. He went in to his wife, and she conceived and bore a son; and he named him Beriah, because evil (beraah) had befallen his house. His daughter was Sheerah, who built both Lower and Upper Beth-horon, and Uzzen-sheerah. (1 Chr. 7:20-24)

In its larger context, the Chronicler is describing the family trees of the tribes and clans of Israel. Here, after listing the descendants of Ephraim’s first son Shuthelah, he relates a folktale about Ephraim’s second and third sons¹, named Ezer and Elead, who “go down” to Gath one day — that is, they descend from the hill country of Ephraim to the coastal plain of Gath — in order to steal the Gittites’ cattle. Some locals catch them in the act, and they are executed for their crimes. Ephraim, their father, mourns them for many days, and when his wife bears him another son sometime later, the child is given the name “Beriah” (which resembles the Hebrew word for “evil”) to remind the family of their loss. Such folk etymologies are common in Bible stories, though rarely (if ever) true. Beriah’s daughter Sheerah must have been a remarkable woman, for she founds three Ephraimite cities. Even more significantly, the national hero Joshua is born nine generations later, Beriah’s direct descendant (v. 27).

Perhaps you have already spotted the problem. Whatever the Chronicler’s sources, he is giving a version of Ephraim’s history in which the sojourn in Egypt and the exodus never took place! This is not the Ephraim who was born to Joseph in Egypt (Gen 41:52), and whose descendants spent 400 years in Egypt and another 40 in the wilderness before conquering the land of Ephraim². Although Chronicles is usually seen as a late work, this tradition seems to pre-date the canonical Pentateuch, portraying Ephraim and his immediate family as indigenous settlers of the land named after him³. In her commentary on Chronicles, Sara Japhet writes:

…the story as a literary work deals with the individual Ephraim, the son of Joseph – an approach emphasized by ‘their father’, ‘his brothers’, ‘his wife’, etc. The events described transpired in the land; this is where the historical emphasis of the narrative lies. The depiction of Ephraim as a real individual, settled in the land, is not a passing remark here but a fundamental element, and this is true also of ‘his brothers’, whose coming to comfort Ephraim in his grief reminds the reader of the story of Job’s friends…. Furthermore Ephraim’s daughter Sheerah is the builder of three cities, two of which are well-known Ephraimite localities. … The individual Ephraim, his sons, brothers, wife and daughter, are all here in the land, and as a person he could not have lived in both Egypt and Israel. The close bond established between Joseph and the land should be regarded as the Chronicler’s alternative to the Hexateuch tradition. (pp. 181-182)

Locations mentioned in the story of Ezer and Elead
Geography of Ephraim and the story of Ezer and Elead

The Aramean Heritage of Manasseh

The tale of Ezer and Elead isn’t the only biblical text oblivious to the exodus. When we look at the genealogy of Manasseh in the same chapter of 1 Chronicles (7:14-19), we see the same paradigm in effect. The Chronicler presents the tribe of Manasseh as having a strong Aramean character, for both of Manasseh’s sons are born to his Aramean concubine, Gilead’s wife⁴ has the Aramean name Maacah, and Manasseh’s daughter has the Aramean name Hammolecheth. In other words, the Chronicler describes a family whose women are all Aramean, implying the tribe itself is half Aramean — which makes sense, given its location in northeast Israel near the Aramean kingdoms, but only if we ignore the Pentateuchal story, in which Manasseh and many generations of his offspring live their entire lives in Egypt. As Japhet notes:

The Chronicler, by contrast, conceives of the bond between the Manassites and the Aramaeans as going back to the person of Manasseh himself. …ignoring the intermediate phase of sojourn in Egypt, it presents a continuity of territorial occupation. (p. 178)

It is, in fact, the same with all the Chronicler’s genealogies. At every step of the way, from the tribal patriarch down the line, these names, ostensibly presented as individuals, actually represent ethnic groups and place-names in Palestine; the Chronicler structures his genealogies according to his understanding of real-world geographic and ethnic relationships. It is impossible to conceive that these complex relations, including ties with non-Israelite neighbors, originated during a four-century period of slavery in Egypt.

Excursus on Asriel, son of Manasseh

There’s something else of interest in Manasseh’s genealogy. The Chronicler gives the patriarch Asriel a prominent place as Manasseh’s first-born son. In the Pentateuchal version (Num 26:31), by contrast, he is merely a fourth-generation descendant.

Who is Asriel? There are no stories about him, and no towns or regions by that name. According to André Lemaire (see references), who conducted a linguistic study of the spellings found in the Hebrew and Greek versions as well as two Samarian ostraca and several ancient stelae, Asriel is simply a spelling variant of Israel. He survives as a cultural memory of the original tribe of Israel first mentioned by the Merneptah Stele as Ysrir. The tribe’s territory lay on the border between Manasseh and Ephraim and probably included the religious sanctuary at Shiloh. In time, its name became synonymous with the kingdom of Israel, whose core territory consisted of Ephraim and Manasseh. These origins are lost in the exodus story, which makes Israel the ancestor of all twelve patriarchs in Egypt.

Arent de Gelder, Judah and Tamar (1681)
Arent de Gelder, Judah and Tamar (1681)

Judah Settles in Canaan

More examples of biblical traditions that preclude the Egyptian sojourn can be found, and not just in Chronicles. We have a strange story about Judah in Genesis 38 that disrupts the story of Joseph’s abduction and rise to power in Egypt. Abandoning his brothers, Judah settles in Canaan, finds a wife, and has several sons. His two oldest sons are killed by Yahweh in adulthood — Er for unspecified wickedness, and Onan for failing to fulfill sexual obligations toward his brother’s widow Tamar⁵. When Judah withholds his third son from Tamar, she poses as a prostitute and seduces Judah, producing twin sons. These events take place in various Judahite towns and clearly tie Judah and his descendants to that land. The chronology is irreconcilable with the exodus story. Egyptologist Donald Redford (see references) writes:

There is no time span between the end of chapter 37 and the beginning of chapter 39…to justify the presence of a digression. And yet the only reasonable explanation of the present order of the chapters must be chronological: chapter 38 could not follow the Joseph Story, since Judah is then in Egypt for the rest of his life, while the setting of 38 is in Palestine. It could not precede the Joseph Story, for Judah is an old grandfather at the close of 38, while at the outset of the Joseph Story he is still a young man. It should here be noted that no matter where chapter 38 be placed an insurmountable difficulty remains. Judah is there pictured as himself an aged patriarch, peacefully settled in Palestine. In the Joseph Story, however, he remains among the brothers and is apparently without wife or children, i.e. is still a young man. (p. 17)

The Exodus and Archaeology

One of the most significant developments in biblical archaeology over the past several decades is the near-universal conclusion, based on physical evidence, that the biblical exodus story never actually took place. Despite a few conservative holdouts, nearly all experts agree that the evidence from Palestine shows Israel developing in full cultural, material, and linguistic continuity with its Canaanite forebears; on the other side of the coin, there is zero evidence for Hebrew enslavement in Egypt, a large-scale migration through Sinai, or a violent conquest of Canaan. As archaeologist William Dever recently wrote:

To make a long story short, today not a single mainstream biblical scholar or archaeologist any longer upholds “biblical archaeology’s” conquest model. Various theories of indigenous origins prevail, in which case there is neither room nor need for an exodus of significant proportions. To put it succinctly, if there was no invasion of Canaan by an “Exodus group,” then there was no Exodus. …the ancestors of the majority of ancient Israelites and Judeans had never been in Egypt. They were essentially Canaanites, displaced both geographically and ideologically. (Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective, p. 404)

It is, perhaps, surprising how long it took for archaeologists and biblical scholars to arrive at this conclusion, when diverse and irreconcilable versions of Israel’s origins have been present in the Bible all along. For the majority of the Bible’s existence, however, interpretation has been entrusted to those who assumed there had to be a harmonized reading that made sense of it all. Rabbinical commentators had a variety of creative (if implausible) explanations for most discrepancies they found, and “Bible answer books” that propose solutions to the most obvious difficulties continue to find audiences today — particularly in evangelical and fundamentalist circles. But for those who take the Bible seriously, the findings of archaeology and other scientific fields can no longer be ignored; and the findings, though startling for many Christians, have freed us at last to read the text with a renewed open mind.

David Roberts, Departure of the Israelites, between 1827 and 1829
David Roberts, Departure of the Israelites, between 1827 and 1829

Special thanks to regular commenter John Kesler for inspiring this article!

Footnotes

  1. Possibly Ephraim’s eldest son Shuthelah is included, but this seems unlikely, since an important line of descendants goes through him, and his name is separated from Ezer and Elead in the text.
  2. The names of the sons of Ephraim listed by the Chronicler don’t even match those given in the Pentateuch (Num 26:35-36). The Chronicler’s version may be older, since Ephraim’s son Becher in Num 26:35 seems to originate as a son of Benjamin (Gen 46:21, 1 Chr 7:6).
  3. The reality, of course, is that eponymous ancestors are fictional characters named after the territories or tribes they represent.

  4. Here, I’m going by Japhet’s interpretation of the somewhat corrupted text.

  5. Er died childless, and a tribal tradition similar to  levirate marriage required the next brother to have sex with the widow and impregnate her (actual marriage was apparently not required; see Westermann, Genesis, p. 269). 1 Chronicles 4:21–22 has another version of the Judah tradition that makes Er the grandson of Judah with offspring of his own. Nevertheless, the Chronicler’s version still places Judah’s immediate family in the region of Judah; Er, for example, is the founder (“father”) of Lecah, his brother is the founder of Mareshah, and other family members establish the linen industry at Beth-ashbea.

References

Sara Japhet, I and II Chronicles (Old Testament Library), 1993.

André Lemaire, “Asriel, Sr’1, Israel et l’origine de la confédération israélite”, VT 23, 1973.

Donald B. Redford, A Study of the Biblical Story of Joseph (Genesis 37–50), 1970.

William G. Dever, “The Exodus and the Bible: What Was Known; What Was Remembered; What Was Forgotten?”, Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective, 2015.

Additional Reading

Dr. Rabbi David Frankel, “The Book of Chronicles and the Ephraimites that Never Went to Egypt

40 thoughts on “The Story of Ezer and Elead (and What It Means for the Exodus)

  1. “diverse and irreconcilable versions of Israel’s origins have been present in the Bible all along. ”

    Yes, but as the bible is inerrant that just means that all contradictory accounts are still equally true if you compartmentalize enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] Peter, one of the regular readers here, pointed my attention to a post that shows a discrepancy in what the Bible claims about Jacob’s descendants spending 400+ years in Egypt. I won’t try to summarize it here — I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. Just check it out for yourself: https://isthatinthebible.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/the-story-of-ezer-and-elead-and-what-it-means-for-… […]

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  3. Paul wrote: Special thanks to regular commenter John Kesler for inspiring this article!

    You are welcome. Thanks for all the thought-provoking articles you produce. The only thing is, Paul, you showed how fast you can write one, so we’ll expect them to appear more frequently now. 😉

    …Asriel a prominent place as Manasseh’s first-born son. In the Pentateuchal version (Num 26:34)…

    Do you mean verse 31?

    The chronology [of Genesis 38] is irreconcilable with the exodus story.

    It’s even worse than Redford states, because we learn that Perez, one of Judah’s sons by Tamar, had sons named Hezron and Hamul (Numbers 26:21; 1 Chronicles 2:5; Genesis 46:12). The last passage is the most damaging to Bible inerrancy, because Genesis 46 lists Hezron and Hamul as part of the 70/75 members of the house of Jacob who entered Egypt (vv:8, 27). The problem is that there is no way to squeeze in enough time between Genesis 38 and Judah’s grandsons’ entry into Egypt, since only 22 years elapsed in the life of Joseph (cf, Genesis 37:2f, 41:46f, 45:6).

    As somewhat of an aside, the Chronicler mentions that some Israelites came out of Egypt (1 Chron. 17:21; 2 Chron. 5:10, 6:5, and 7:22), but he gives no numbers or states when this occurred, and he omits the chronological marker in 1 Kings 6:1a (cf. 2 Chron 3:1-2).

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    • Do you mean verse 31?

      Yes, thanks. Corrected. Good point about Hezron and Hamul as well!

      The Chronicler clearly knows the Pentateuch and exodus story in some form, but he doesn’t treat them as authoritatively as some of his other sources.

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  4. Even I picked up on the Judah thing long ago; he can’t live out his life both in Canaan and in Egypt. This other stuff was new to me, though.

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  5. Very insightful post.

    This highlights why the bible is so interesting!! Not because it is the inerrant dictation of a god but because it is a tapestry of legends, fables, truths, lies and at times the whispers of a long forgotten people who’s stories snuck past the scribes.

    Forget overated Sherlock on bbc – the bible is where the real mysteries are at!

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      • By coincidence, I just wrote another article for consideration by my local newspaper in which I make the argument that the Bible is much more than people realize. If anyone is interesting in reading a published article–keep in mind I’m writing for the general public–go to tinyurl.com/keslergazette1.

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  6. You know, this article reminds me of something I noticed a while back–but I am not an anthropologist or a scholar.

    The “children of Eber” took possession of the Promised Land no fewer than three times!

    1. When Abraham moved in from Ur of the Chaldeans.

    2. When Jacob (Israel) and his sons moved in from Paddan-Aram.

    3. When Joshua led the Israelites there from their massive trek in the desert.

    What does this mean? Aramaic (Syrian) was spoken more consistently by the “Hebrews” than Hebrew was; does the legend of Israel deriving from Paddam-Aram reflect some tradition of the Israelites deriving from Syria?

    Similarly, Abraham coming from the land of the Chaldeans seems ironic (just as his alliance with the king of the Philistines is). Is there a historical reason he comes from there?

    And, of course, the massive, mighty nation of Israel pouring out from Egypt in a nearly-perfectly formed manner…surely this must mean that SOMEBODY came from Egypt. Is there a tradition that there had been some sort of migration from there?

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    • The main reason Abraham is said to come from somewhere other than Canaan is to “historically” establish that the Israelites were not Canaanites, even though, As Paul has mentioned, evidence suggests that they were. Why is Abraham specifically to by from Ur of Chaldeans? I’ll quote from Steven DiMattei at http://contradictionsinthebible.com/where-is-abrahams-birthplace.

      So P has radically shaped the narrative so that it now speaks to its exilic community, and has in short set Abraham up as a mirror and example for them to follow in their own present circumstance. They too are second generation Israelites in captivity in Babylon, who are returning to Canaan, with hopefully wives from their own people. The reference to Ur of Chaldeans is another give-away. The term Chaldeans as a synonym for Babylonia did not come into vogue until the 6th century BC. Thus the Priestly writer has painted Abraham in the same plight as his exilic audience. The main storyline of Abraham leaving upper Mesopotamia and migrating to the land promised by Yahweh to his descendants would have resonated with exilic Jews in Babylon as a narrative of hope and comfort.

      As far as the Exodus is concerned, I think that there was an exodus of Levites to Egypt, and this gave rise to the later notion that they and the native Canaanites/Israelites shared a common experience in Egypt. This is discussed at Peter Kirby’s BCH forum: http://earlywritings.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1533&start=20#p41160

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      • So my guess was on the right track. Abraham coming from “the Chaldeans” is related to the conquering and exile of Jerusalem by the Chaldean Empire. I imagine Abraham’s dealings with Abimelech, King of the Philistines, was specifically to have the Philistines acknowledge that Abraham (and by extension, the tribes) are the true inheritors of the Philistine land (despite the lack of archaeological evidence that the Hebrews ever controlled Gaza).

        As far as the Levites being the only tribe to enter Canaan from Egypt…this presupposes that the Levites were a “tribe” rather than a “profession.” I learned ON THIS WEBSITE that the ancient Levites were not actually a tribe. (They didn’t even get a piece of real estate in Joshua.) Still…the story had to come from somewhere.

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    • Several OT scholars have developed the theory that Samaria/Israel had two competing origin stories: the Aramean story (Jacob) and the Egyptian story. Abram was a folktale hero/patriarch in Judah. The compilers of Genesis and the hexateuch basically stitched all these patriarchal legends into one story, adding the Babylonian component to Abraham (as John describes above) and making everyone related to each other. I’ll try to write more on this eventually.

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  7. Andy Poe wroteAs far as the Levites being the only tribe to enter Canaan from Egypt…this presupposes that the Levites were a “tribe” rather than a “profession.” I learned ON THIS WEBSITE that the ancient Levites were not actually a tribe. (They didn’t even get a piece of real estate in Joshua.) Still…the story had to come from somewhere.

    You are referring to Paul’s article here: https://isthatinthebible.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/the-twelve-or-so-tribes-of-israel at which he writes the following:

    There are reasons to think that “Levite” originally designated a member of a cultic profession rather than a clan or tribe member. For one thing, the name itself may mean “a person pledged for a debt or vow” (i.e. to a deity).³ In Judges 17:7, we have a Levite who is clearly said to be of the tribe of Judah, and his professional skills as a Levite priest are a focus of the story.⁴ In Exodus 4:14, Yahweh speaking to Moses calls his brother “Aaron the Levite”—an appellation that only makes sense if Levite is to be equated with a priestly caste or group rather than an ethnic group. Under this reasoning, we can assume that the idea of Levites being a tribe was a later innovation.

    If you follow the link to the BCH forum that I posted, you will see that I agree. See http://earlywritings.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1533&sid=9948838ca62ed65b41161199510c2da7&start=30#p41812

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    • Oh, I think I should have focused on clarity rather than on cheekiness.

      It would be easier for me to imagine an exodus of Levites from Egypt if the Levites were actually a tribe or a clan or some sort of cohesive sociocultural body. But the Levites weren’t this; they were a cultic profession. It’s more difficult for me to imagine a bunch of religious leaders hanging out with each other and all deciding to travel together than it is for me to imagine a nomadic or semi-nomadic nation deciding to seek their fortune elsewhere.

      For example, I am more likely to believe a history involving, say, the Navajo, relocating and bringing with them their language and legends than I am to believe, say, the just the “medicine men” making this relocation. This is what I am not understanding.

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  8. John wrote:It’s even worse than Redford states, because we learn that Perez, one of Judah’s sons by Tamar, had sons named Hezron and Hamul (Numbers 26:21; 1 Chronicles 2:5; Genesis 46:12). The last passage is the most damaging to Bible inerrancy, because Genesis 46 lists Hezron and Hamul as part of the 70/75 members of the house of Jacob who entered Egypt (vv:8, 27). The problem is that there is no way to squeeze in enough time between Genesis 38 and Judah’s grandsons’ entry into Egypt, since only 22 years elapsed in the life of Joseph (cf, Genesis 37:2f, 41:46f, 45:6).

    Paul replied …Good point about Hezron and Hamul as well!

    It get better: Look at 1 Chronicles 2:21-22:

    21 Afterward Hezron went in to the daughter of Machir father of Gilead, whom he married when he was sixty years old; and she bore him Segub; 22 and Segub became the father of Jair, who had twenty-three towns in the land of Gilead.

    How could Hezron have gone into Egypt with Jacob’s family (see above), yet have a grandson who received 23 cities after the conquest of Canaan! Plus note that Hezron is listed as only 60 when he married the daughter of Machir, and this was not his first wife or grandchildren–see v:9f.

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  9. Amazing. It’s remarkable to me how it is that preconceived notions can prevent literally *everyone* for hundreds or thousands of years from reading what it is that a text actually says.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Is William Dever a reliable scholar? I’ve seen several people I respect cite him, but the only thing of his was a video where he repeated the long-discredited canard that the word “Easter” derives from “Ishtar”, which made me write him off as a charlatan… Was I mistaken about him? Was that just a gaffe in an otherwise-respectable oeuvre?

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    • Ishtar seemed to be a reasonable guess in that Easter seems to be derived from a pagan goddess with a very similar name from Anglo-Saxon or promo-German. I might be wrong but might not the term estrogen be related to either Ishtar or Easter via Greek? Paganism was strong in the Anglo-Saxons whose days of the week are a stark reminder of the Old Gods:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ēostre

      The name estrogen is derived from the Greek οἶστρος (oistros), literally meaning “verve or inspiration” but figuratively sexual passion or desire,[92] and the suffix -gen, meaning “producer of”.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estrogen

      If people truly want to understand the ANE and Mediterranean, follow the goddesses every bit as much as the gods. As we see, the stories of El and Yahweh tend not to make sense without a consort. People who are obscured from these various goddesses have an incomplete view of history. Christ and the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit seem to be a response to the lack of any significant female element in the Abramic religions. (Sorry, Abraham was a ready child killer so Abram shall I call him).

      Was/Is Lucifer male? I doubt it as most gods associated with Venus, seem to be female or perhaps androgynous. To me, the entire Bible is much more interesting if Lucifer is in fact female.

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  11. Is William Dever a reliable scholar? I’ve seen several people I respect cite him, but the only thing of his I’ve seen was a video where he repeated the long-discredited canard that the word “Easter” derives from “Ishtar”, which made me write him off as a charlatan… Was I mistaken about him? Was that just a gaffe in an otherwise-respectable oeuvre?

    Like

    • William Dever is one of the most famous and respected biblical archaeologists in the world, and is known for being quite conservative. (That’s one reason why it was significant when even he abandoned the idea of an exodus and Canaanite conquest.)

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  12. Hi Paul,
    I’ve done some checking into this passage and would like to submit some alternative interpretations for your consideration.

    1. To interpret these verses to say that two Israelite men were the aggressors in this narrative against the men of Gath seems counter intuitive to me. Doesn’t it seem quite foolhardy that two lone Hebrews would venture into Philistine territory to steal livestock? As herdsmen and shepherds, these Israelites would have had their own livestock. Why would they risk ‘life and limb’ to steal from the Philistines? I can’t find any other instance in scripture where a couple of Israelite men acted as you’re suggesting that Ezer and Elead did. Wiki has a list of Israel’s encounters with the Philistines, and they’re *all* battles.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philistines

    2. Further in Wiki, “Excavations in Ashkelon, Ekron, and Gath reveal dog and pig bones which show signs of having been butchered, implying that these animals were part of the residents’ diet.” So, I would submit that the men of Gath did not tend and butcher their own cattle; they were not herdsmen. Rather, it seems most likely from archaeological evidence that they would have been the ones to attack and kill the Hebrews, so they could steal the Hebrews’ cattle.

    Moreover, the men of Gath would have “gone down” (geographically speaking) from Palestine to Egypt in order to steal livestock from the Hebrews.

    3. The Bible, similar to any other piece of narrative literature, rests on plot, setting, as well as characterization. The men of Gath were known to be a warlike people, given to spoil and plunder, whereas the Hebrews were the shepherds and herdsmen. To try to reverse the roles is contrary to the overall depiction of these two nations. I think it’s very hard to justify it in terms of characterization.

    As per the following article, the Philistines had highly developed weapons which proved a threat to the Israelites, and according to the biblical narrative, the Israelites took the southern route rather than ‘The way of the Philistines’ in the north in order to avoid encountering the Philistines.

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-philistines

    4. Regarding Sheerah, the word ‘daughter’ can mean female descendant in Scripture, not just immediate offspring. I think it’s interesting to note that the name, Sheerah, means ‘kinswoman.’ So it would appear from the meaning of her name that she’s not a daughter in the sense of an immediate offspring but rather that she’s a relative or a descendant of some forebears. I would venture to say her forefather/ancestor was Ephraim, and that this detail in v24 is simply a later addendum because Sheerah was a descendant (a kinswoman) of the tribe of Ephraim.

    http://www.thenamemeaning.com/sheerah/

    Finally, I’ve read that rabbi’s article re: 1 Chronicles 7 and find his explanations very convoluted and implausible.

    Joyce

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    • Thanks for the comment, Joyce.

      To interpret these verses to say that two Israelite men were the aggressors in this narrative against the men of Gath seems counter intuitive to me.

      Nevertheless, that is what the text says. Every scholarly work I have that mentions this passage agrees that it describes a raid by Ezer and Elead against Gath. They include Japhet’s leading commentary as well as the ABD, HBD, and Shinan & Zakovitch (2012). Raiders going up from the coastal lowlands to the interior hill country could not be described as going “down”.

      Doesn’t it seem quite foolhardy that two lone Hebrews would venture into Philistine territory to steal livestock?

      Livestock raids in general are certainly not implausible. The folktale told here is extremely bare bones, with few details. Within the context of the story, though, it got them killed, so some foolhardiness may be implied.

      So, I would submit that the men of Gath did not tend and butcher their own cattle; they were not herdsmen.

      Two responses:

      1. The actual husbandry practices of the Gittites do not grant us license to alter what the text says, unless you assume that the text must be an inerrant journalistic account of events rather than a story written down for the writer’s own purposes.
      2. The Philistines’ diet did, in fact, include sheep, goats, and cattle. Cattle remains are found in large amounts throughout their territory. (See, for example, Maeir, Hitchcock and Horwitz, “On the Constitution and Transformation of Philistine Identity”, OJA 32/1 [2013].) Wikipedia is not a very good source for scholarly research.

      The men of Gath were known to be a warlike people…

      The Bible’s polemical and tendentious treatment of Philistines in such passages is of limited historical value, and it is a non sequitur to suggest that a nation that fought wars could not herd cattle. In any case, it is irrelevant to the Chronicler’s story. He wrote what he wrote.

      So it would appear from the meaning of her name that she’s not a daughter

      In the context of the story, which is the only thing I’m interested in here, she seems quite clearly to be the daughter of Ephraim.

      http://www.thenamemeaning.com/sheerah/

      Baby name sites are not an academic source. 🙂 I’m not an expert on Hebrew, but I believe kinswoman (literally “flesh”) is spelled שאר‎, without the ה‎ and with different vowels, so it’s a slightly different word. The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew does not associate her name with “kinswoman” or vice versa. At any rate, it would not change the story that the Chronicler actually wrote.

      Dr. Rabbi David Frankel’s article seemed very articulate and well-reasoned to me. Rather than being implausible, it reflects the general consensus of the scholarly community.

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      • Hi Paul,

        Thanks for your prompt and detailed reply to my comments.

        You (and some scholars) interpret the text of 1 Chronicles 7:21-24 to mean that the Hebrews were the aggressors in the incident. The RSV translation indicates that this is the case, but some others translations (eg. NET) render the verse more ambiguously such that the pronouns in the text could be interpreted to mean that the men of Gath were the aggressors and that the two Hebrew men were killed while trying to protect their property: “….Ezer and Elead were killed by the men of Gath, who were natives of the land, when they went down to steal their cattle.” (NET). So, I would interpret v21 as follows, “Ezer and Elead were killed by the men of Gath, who were natives of the land, when they (the men of Gath) went down to steal their (the Hebrews’) cattle.”

        This interpretation is one espoused by Matthew Henry in his commentary on the Bible. Of course, I realize his interpretation wouldn’t bear weight with you because it’s theologically based while you base your interpretation on what many scholars (mostly biblical minimalists) say. But I think I could also argue for this interpretation from a ‘literary’ perspective.

        I question the interpretation of scholars who deny that there ever were any Israelites in Egypt and therefore, there was no need for an exodus to occur. To date, there is ‘little’ evidence in this regard, but Dr. Ted Wright of http://www.epicarchaeology.org has proposed that Pharaoh Amenhotep II (15th century BC) may be the Pharaoh at the time of the biblical exodus. Austrian archaeologist, Manfred Bietak, has been excavating the ancient city of Avaris in the Nile region for a number of years. He says this city, the military garrison for Amenhotep II, shows evidence of Semitic habitation for hundreds of years before his reign. But in the ninth year of his reign, excavation is ‘blank,’ indicating something unusual happened at that time. It is known that he issued orders to overthrow many Egyptian priests during that year, also overthrowing the Egyptian god, Amon Ra. Amenhotep II was not a firstborn son, and his firstborn son did not succeed him. All of these cumulative facts *may* be evidence to support the biblical narrative of the Israelites’ sojourn in Egypt.

        I listened to the following interview with NT scholar, Craig Evans, recently, and he says (around 42:00) that only about 5%of the biblical world has been excavated. Of those sites, most are only 10-20% excavated. (He didn’t cite a source for these numbers.)

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TH5Tn_JfOLA

        I would venture to say, then, that in terms of archaeology supporting the biblical account of Hebrews in Egypt and a subsequent exodus, I think ‘the jury’s still out.’

        Re: the article by Maeir, Hitchcock and Horwitz, “On the Constitution and Transformation of Philistine Identity”, OJA 32/1 [2013], I checked for it online but am unwilling to pay a minimum of $6 to rent for 2 days of viewing! Guess I’ll have to take your word for it regarding the diet of the Philistines containing cattle. But I’m still not convinced that they raised their own livestock; I think it’s still possible *they* were the cattle rustlers!

        Yes, I understand the pitfalls of consulting Wikipedia, but the information I noted re: the bones of pigs and dogs, indicating that they were part of the Philistines’ diet was footnoted from publications by Lawrence Stager who is an American archaeologist and academic, specialising in Syro-Palestinian archaeology and Biblical archaeology (Google). Since 1985 he has overseen the excavations of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, the Philistine port city. I would hope his data and assessment of the data would be fair and trustworthy as it relates to the Philistines’ diet.

        Re: the meaning of the name Sheerah. I’m not a Hebrew scholar either and so must rely on other sources. I do have Strong’s Exhaustive concordance so checked what it says:

        1. kinswoman is #7607. Meaning is (near) kin (-sman, -swoman) near [of kin]

        2. Sheerah is #7609. Meaning is the same as 7608 which says feminine of 7607; female kindred by blood: near kinswomen

        As far as I can tell, there is only one letter that’s different (as per your comment). The vowel markings are also different as you noted, but the meanings are still very closely related, in fact, virtually the same.

        So, based on Strong’s, I would conclude that the name Sheerah means kinswoman. Therefore, I would re-submit that the text in 1 Chronicles 7:24 would not necessarily have to mean that .Sheerah is an immediate offspring of Ephraim; she could be a descendant (a kinswoman) of the tribe of Ephraim. I still think, then, that this piece of information about Sheerah could have been an added addendum by a later scribe when the Israelites were settled in Canaan following the exodus and conquest.

        Further questions:
        1. Why would the Chronicler, a Hebrew writer, record this incident in direct contradiction of the rest of the Hebraic history in the books of Genesis and Exodus (if your interpretation is, in fact, correct)?
        2. On what basis are you critical of (as you say) the Bible’s “polemical and tendentious treatment of Philistines,” casting doubt on the historical value of its portrayal of the Philistines? Are you aware of extra-biblical evidence that demonstrates they were *not* as the Bible describes them?

        Thanks for an interesting discussion.
        Joyce

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        • “Ezer and Elead were killed by the men of Gath, who were natives of the land, when they (the men of Gath) went down to steal their (the Hebrews’) cattle.”

          This doesn’t make much sense to me. The men of Gath were natives of what land? (Surely the land where the cattle were stolen.) And where did they go “down” to?

          Of course, I realize his interpretation wouldn’t bear weight with you because it’s theologically based…

          Theology must come from the text; otherwise, it simply says whatever you want it to. Anyway, Henry was a 17th-century minister who predated critical study of the Bible.

          All of these cumulative facts *may* be evidence to support the biblical narrative of the Israelites’ sojourn in Egypt.

          I see no facts concerning the Israelites at all there.

          The weight of archaeology is heavily against any sort of exile in Egypt or mass exodus. There are very few hold-outs. In addition to the complete paucity of material evidence, the Israelites developed in linguistic, religious, and cultural continuity with the societies that preceded them in Palestine. They were Canaanites with a Canaanite religion and language through and through.

          You are welcome to favour the biblical story, but this is obviously a major question that has been answered only after tremendous discussion and debate, often quite heated.

          1. Why would the Chronicler, a Hebrew writer, record this incident in direct contradiction of the rest of the Hebraic history in the books of Genesis and Exodus (if your interpretation is, in fact, correct)?

          The stories of the Old Testament are replete with contradictions. It evidently concerned ancient authors very little to group stories related by topic together even if the narrative discontinuity would bother a modern reader.

          On what basis are you critical of (as you say) the Bible’s “polemical and tendentious treatment of Philistines,” casting doubt on the historical value of its portrayal of the Philistines?

          It’s a large topic, but here’s a quote from Emanuel, “Dagon our God: Iron I Philistine Cult in Text and Archaeology”, JANER 16 (2016):

          …Ashdod thrived as an urban center that, like the other cities of the Philistine pentapolis, was home to what Stager has termed “a diverse community of warriors, farmers, sailors, merchants, rulers, shamans, priests, artisans, and architects.”

          These sophisticated aspects of Philistine culture are difficult to find in the Hebrew Bible, which dedicates some of its strongest polemic to this group. During the Iron I and IIa … both were striving for autonomy over their respective geographic areas and the people within them, while simultaneously struggling to maintain their own distinctive ethnic cultures.

          …this conflict would feed centuries of negative portrayals of the Philistines, who are represented across their 294 mentions in the Hebrew Bible as being guilty of virtually every quality, trait, and action that the Israelites found unsettlingly different or abhorrent, including, inter alia, paganism, idol worship, lack of circumcision, and consuming unclean animals. Some of the biblical authors’ accusations were true of the Philistines, of course, and some were not. … However, the Bible’s demonization of this “ideological foe” was so thoroughly and completely accomplished that the term “Philistine” is still used to this day to refer to an uncultured or uneducated individual or population.

          All that said, if the story is supposed to take place in the Bronze Age, then it would be prior to the Philistine settlement of the costal plain. Tel Erani (Gath) was purely Canaanite throughout most of the Bronze Age.

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  13. Hello Paul,
    I never did thank you for your last post….for all the detail you provided in your response. Thank you!

    The reason I’ve stopped by your blog today is because I’ve just recently viewed the documentary, ‘Patterns of Evidence’ produced by Christian filmmaker, Thomas Mahoney, who spent 12 years pursuing his quest to learn whether or not the Old Testament stories about Israelite slaves in Egypt and their conquest of Canaan were historically true or just mythologies. In the course of his journey, he visited Egypt, Israel, England and the Netherlands, interviewing a number of scholars in the fields of archaeology and Egyptology — James Hoffmeier, Israel Finkelstein, Kent Weeks, Manfred Bietak, David Rohl, to name a few. On-location filming and relevant portions of interviews with the noted scholars, plus amazing computer-generated animation make for an excellent documentary in which Mahoney engages both sides of the issue.

    Mahoney’s findings, though not conclusive, are fascinating and definitely provocative. Here’s a link to a short preview of the two-hour documentary on YouTube:

    [Admin: link removed because WordPress converts Youtube links into embedded videos.]

    Also, check out the website: http://patternsofevidence.com/

    All the best,
    Joyce

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  14. Hi Paul. I read in Wiki that:

    “The Septuagint (LXX) agrees with the Samaritan in approximately 1900 of the six thousand variations from the Masoretic.[16] Many of these agreements reflect inconsequential grammatical details, but some are significant. For example, Exodus 12:40 in the Samaritan and the Septuagint reads:[27]
    “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers which they had dwelt in the land of Canaan and in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.”
    In the Masoretic text, the passage reads:
    “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaritan_Pentateuch

    Do you think that this destinction between LXX and MT is that the LXX version are based on the story of Ezer and Elead, and that MT is written on the basis of genesis 15:13?

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    • I don’t think the discrepancy has anything to do with that story. It seems that the LXX and SP include everything from the time of Abraham to Moses in the 430 years, as do Jubilees, Josephus, and various other Jewish texts. The chronology breaks down nicely: 215 years for the patriarchal period, 215 for the sojourn in Egypt. It may be that scribes realized that 430 years was simply too long for the 3 generations that lived in Egypt (e.g. Levi to Amram to Moses).

      A related passage at Gen 15:13–14 “predicts” that the offspring of Abram will be enslaved in a foreign land for 400 years. Whatever the number, it’s obviously somewhat contrived and symbolic.

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  15. Are you acquainted with Richard Elliott Friedman’s book ‘The Exodus’? Also, archaeologist Avi Faust cites 20 scholars to suggest that a majority of scholars think the exodus has a historical core, and that some of the Highland Israelites came from Egypt. I think you should have taken this into account.

    I don’t find all of Friedman’s ideas to be convincing, but I do agree that there is a historical core to elements of the exodus story, namely the idea that YHWH originated with nomadic peoples around Mount sinai, in the deserts South of Israel.

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    • Thanks for the comment. I agree that Yahweh probably originated with tribes to the south or southeast of Judah. I’ve written a bit about that here.

      As for a “historical core” to the exodus store, I assume you’re referring to Faust 2006 (Israel’s Ethnogenesis), where, on p. 174, he cites a number of scholars who have weighed in on the possibility that “some of the highland settlers came from outside Canaan”, which could be construed as a “historical core” in some sense. The way it is worded, Faust does not actually say all these scholars categorically support that position, and I haven’t read them all for myself to check.

      I guess, what I object to is the misuse of vague historical possibilities to encourage or defend reading the text in a naive way, especially when there is the suspicion of simply using scholarship to defend an apologetics position. (That’s not what you’re doing, but some people definitely are.) For all intents and purposes, the entire biblical story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt as written is not a historical tale, and there is widespread agreement on that point — as Faust notes on the same page of his book. I think acknowledging that lets us more productively explore what the story of the exodus really is and why it has such a core role in the Pentateuch.

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  16. In the primary (pre-biblical) story there were no logical contradictions. The righteous descendants of Jacob and Rachel: the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin were not slaves. They lived on the land of Abraham in Canaan.

    The slaves were the criminal descendants of Israel (brother of Jacob). Joseph himself turned his cousins into slaves. Israel was much older than Jacob. Judah, the main villain, was the eldest son. Rachel could not give birth for a long time. Therefore, Judas managed to become a grandfather to a great famine.

    The crime against Joseph occurred before the birth of Benjamin. The bastards thought that Rachel, who was in poor health, was not giving birth to a second child. The inheritance of Jacob will go to them as the next of kin. Judas “saved” Joseph to receive an extra bonus. Joseph still will not return from Egypt. So in addition to the inheritance of Jacob (which has yet to wait) you can get the money right now.

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  17. I am beginning to wonder if our children or grandchildren will laugh that people used to think the stories about Yahweh actually happened. I knew in my “spirit” that many of these tales were not as described if they happened at all and I did in fact read them intently unlike others.

    This constant attribution of piddling archaeology findings as supportive of Christianity is tiresome. Faith is the belief in things unseen, remember?

    Where are the folks looking to prove Thor existed because of some coin they found somewhere or because of Thursday? Even if some sort of “exodus” happened, that in no way assists Christianity in its inerrancy doctrines. We can call Saddam Hitler, but he wasn’t. Saying that a handful of people who ended up in Canaan came from Egypt does zero to redeem those Exodus scriptures as historical in terms of doctrinal relevance or “true” in the way that people usually differentiate mythology from stuff that you know, actually happened.

    It is a brutal blow for evangelical Christianity which depends upon passover for much of its symbolic punch–thank Goddess for that since I eschew anthropomorphic gods who target people for deaths except as casual reading. For people who didn’t grow up fundamentalist, they might not understand just how brutal a blow the lack of an historic exodus is to doctrine even beyond inerrancy. There’s tons of stuff about Aaron, Elijah and others that is quoted as “true” in the N.T.

    I tend to believe that Christianity emerged from a climate of mystery cults in which it was at least competitive with other cults for believers which often had similar doctrines or rites, at least partially. Part of why I believe this is that the doctrines in Christianity seem more orchestrated than ad hoc. In a mystery religion for many, it is largely unimportant whether Dionysus or Mithras really existed. For many, the point was direct knowledge of the divine and drugs and alcohol could often be part of this as was Soma in India and Persia. We can think of a festival to Demeter as ecstatic with a tightly regulated “doctrine” as to what happened with respect to say, Persephone, without necessarily believing in a real Persephone. The symbolism is in the act of worship itself which involves direct knowledge and often, if not invariably, entheogens.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleusinian_Mysteries

    I tend to be a fan of the Dionysian mysteries as They are someone that I relate to substantially.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysian_Mysteries

    So, literally, as seems so now, if most of the O.T. is both ahistoric and lacking credible doctrines, can Christianity survive? Judaism will survive fine as most Jews place little to no importance in the afterlife as compared with the survival of the Jewish people. In most of Judaism, interpretation is deemed to be above scripture anyway which deflates any need for inerrancy therein, for the most part.

    Even if there is a historic Christ, is he relevant if the exodus never happened? He seems largely irrelevant to Christianity doctrinally, meaning he was a bit of an empty vessel. This is where I jump off the Jesus as a great teacher boat. Teacher of what? Many insipid parables that are often deliberately obtuse and a handful of boring miracles and always of the same types as televangelists, meaning we never see any amputees regenerate limbs, just a bunch of things like a bunch of loaves and fish, which are clearly symbolic. I cannot think of really any teachings of Christ’s that are anything but ad hoc, which is very different from the structured doctrines that have otherwise come down to us.

    Siddhartha provided an entire system of how to live one’s life that was also somewhat cosmically oriented while not straying too far into paganism or monotheism.

    As you noted, what if Melchizadek (I am trying without looking up the spelling–oh it spelled itself, nifty) never existed. Where does that leave the Book of Hebrews? This is the utter and complete disaster for Christianity that people thought that the Dead Sea Scrolls might have been, except we knew the Catholic church at least picked a version of Christianity that was in existence. This is akin to the erasure of all of the fundamental pre-Christian documents and doctrines in terms of being non-Gnostic, i.e., gnosticism still works as a mystery religion to me in this context.. Word still has not gotten around about the weight of all of this. It was one thing for Van Seters to posit different writers in the Torah but for Christians (again, not Jews), it is Ostrich time.

    I have spent a lot of time considering Fear and Trembling by Kierkegaard(guard of the Church–some times names are accidents says William) as a way to maintain a viable path for Christians who are educated, but eh, not to mention the protagonist of that book is Abram and that example does not work well for modern readers.

    “If you build it, He will come” might work but that implies that gods seek those disposed to believe in them to begin with which is circular but eh, so is predestination. Here Christ would be disassociated from O.T. doctrine and perhaps from the Old Testament itself entirely but still be the god that the world was waiting for but this would work much better as a mystery religion or ecumenical religion.

    The sad thing there is that churches like the Anglican church tend to be empty now in spite of the fact that they used to have a huge non-religious effect on communities and societies that were non-dependent on the reality of the Bible but they all got boring. All the spark in Christianity since the 1400’s has come from the Protestants but they seem to have reached the end of their tether and are grasping at straws at this point to patch all of the leaks in the roof and foundation.

    Goddess Bless

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  18. I re-read posts frequently and you deserve comments beyond, “hey, what about this verse too” although those are fine and interesting too but you are a big picture person, maybe without even knowing it. Kudos on that and you might want to take a stab at literature based upon archetypes and themes especially with your background in languages and linguistics and ancient cultures.

    While it might not be laid out entirely in this one article, I think that you have pieced together with this and the Kenite article in particular a framework which seems more than plausible, even likely to me. If one adds in some of the history related to the Hyksos and Sea Peoples. Relating all or most of “this” to Cain is mind-blowing as he’s largely the first Satan and the enemy seemingly of the peoples of Yahweh, but maybe not of El or Asherah but it seems as though Cain should have been the shepherd representing the “old ways” versus agriculture but we have what we have.

    Where’s Abel? I guess I will look that up because no one ever really dies in ancient literature. They just pop back up in another guise. Eve seems more significant than Adam in terms of mythology but there are so few women of beauty and power in the Bible and most of them are negatively portrayed in one way or another except for whores, converts, traitoresses, and mad “circumcisonists”. What’s the deal with the circumcision of Moses? Utterly bizarre. Many of the rigid laws of Judaism up to today are anti-female and anti-female bodily fluids, to be more gross and precise. Females behind the scenes mostly if not all seem to be portrayed against Elijah and Elisha and that Yahweh crowd and now we are finding graven images…. and She can no longer be denied….

    And yet, many of the most interesting figures are the females in fact up to the Mary’s and Elizabeth and then up to a couple of mysterious magicians and female apostles of the New Testament where females seem important until they slam into the writings of St. Paul. The Abramic religions all fear the power of females and it’s possible that the enslavement of females and the loss of influence and power had to do with agricultural and being non-nomadic. But in general, women have never lacked power behind the scenes and they often dominate their families, men, women, sons and daughters all and set the culture since most XY’s seem not to care about these things.

    The bearded ones are always off conquering people to make up for the loss of a nomadic past that they miss. Adventure calls and farming is boring and yet, more scientific than many famers care to delve into, leading to larger and larger farms and an area with rigid and set laws that can push religion and mores on people when before, you could just set out for the next holler.

    Heights begin to fall dramatically as an aside, only recovering after WWII in many places with of course, the Slavic and Norse and Germanic women at the top of the height lists, as they are largely the goddesses of old in terms of looks and demeanor and yes, sorry, light and fair and often with reddish long hair along with the raven-haired beauties and all with eyes of varying beautiful colors but light ones around the blue/green framework.

    These goddesses tend to be the goddess archetype for all men and women everywhere, rightly, wrongly, because of the media, or whatever but the fact remains that one thing that was so striking about one of the X-Men female members was that she was a black weather goddess who was beautiful and powerful. She had a mohawk and if I check it’s cheating but then again she pales next to the Celtic Stereotypical Goddess Phoenix who destroys a universe in yes, one version. Just like the Greeks, huh. There were two Venuses, and only one was born fully formed… These goddesses tend to blur and blend quite well and that “fat” archetypes seems to fade away entirely around the time of Christendom and Roman expansion Northward.

    Marvel has alternate “Watcher” tales and the watcher in many ways is the most important god of all in terms of psychological importance to all of us, especially during times similar to the movie Castaway of great duress and isolation. Right, mater dei? I break keys on my laptop like Beethoven on his piano and they are difficult to replace on Macs but some times there’s a verbosity in all of us….

    So, then, well, the O.T. in many ways seems to be a long, long work based upon self-hatred of the Jews/Hebrews, Jews critical of themselves for stemming from pagans all but entirely. The ficticious wars no longer cover up for that.

    None of this is anti-Jewish any more than my critiques of various aspect of the Greeks which are fundamental to understanding them but they are often distasteful to moderns, meaning things like pederasty, androgyny/eunuchs and the elevation of the Goddess ideal which I of course approve of, which except for the Slavs who didn’t exist until they took over Ukraine and had more archaic less developed mythology, the Greek goddess/Androgynous figures seem multifold in all of their splendor. They compete with the boys and often win and often the themes involved are tragic falls and humiliation like that of Lucifer. Wiles and wits (and I can’t help myself) tits, matter more than muscles on Olympus, far more. But not, never in Yahweh-land or I note in Islam, it’s close relative as opposed to modern Judaism in which Jewish women are the most liberated of all in many ways.

    Notice that Lucifer seems not to fear the Word or Yahweh at all and approaches them whenever he wishes in both the new and old books but Yahweh is destined to win due to more angels while we aren’t sure whether Christ is out there with lances or not. Mary is hoovering. Ang-El? Common on. Why did none of us ever pick up on these themes.

    It’s because except for Jews, people don’t deconstruct their own religions because it is heretical at times and carries heavy fines or at least it feels that way when we question what is written. God thunders back from Job: “where were you?” Paul’s eyes roll at this circular non-sequitur rhetorical question which means and says nothing as it is pure argumentum ad hominem but evangelicals and apparently Jews in exile ate it up. You go, Yahweh, tell that Job whose boss. Give him prettier daughters still even though he never wanted that. Ah, the goddess ideal in the Book of Job as brokered by Lucifer. Much hotter daughters if not princessess. Goats too. A symbol of Satan.

    Even kneeling is redolent of submissive sex and incapacitation before a dominant male and it’s quite dangerous potentially to him the dominant one but kneeling neigh to a goddess places her in no fear of harm at all for obvious reasons.

    But our Yahweh-loving merchants don’t come from Egyptians or Greeks or Babylonian lines of paganites. Instead, their very designation is associated with what Canaanites always were, merchants and traders, travelers and seafarers, pirates via the Sea Peoples whom they assimilated and yes, moneylenders, later, even strengthened as an image by anti-usury laws ironically which is what gave them an advantage in the business to begin until the Church finally relented; Islam has not and requires very strange structuring of business deals some places.

    And I see all of these things as positive in terms of classical liberal economics and their economists and literature and philosophy and legal literature all continue to be the best and most cutting-edge and interesting, not to mention iconoclastic but there is often still seen this self-deriding edge among Jews who are working class or who still associate with being working class and that accent, which is to a large extent the backstory of why the Beatles broke up which I won’t self-indulge in but being a lawyer, to me, eh, I am going to leave it there.

    Performers, magicians, ventriloquists (along with the Roma) and especially production writers are often from Jewish backgrounds while what they perceive as the dominant cultures is more out front so to speak with Danny Thomas promoting Christianity it seemed. Jack Benny was pretty staunchly Jewish on his shows which dealt heavily with Jewish stereotypes and Mr. Kitzel who is still remembered as well as the “Yyyesss” guy whom the Simpsons references. His close friend who ended up being God was only a culture Jew but still had slightly more muted themes on his variety show before the lackluster 4th wall television show.

    Yahwehism is a cross-roads religion which rarely if ever, historically tries to convert others in far flung areas which is a positive in my mind but bizarrely enough, other people like to be at least asked and notions of reserving and paying $$$ for the best seats at Passover Services is foreign to almost all of Christianity and Christians. We pay for seminars lol but we gots lots of places to worship for “free”. Jews are limited, some, by the one mile temple rule which pushes prices way up in often in “up and coming” areas. This appears to me to be non-intentional self-segregation caused by bizarre references to Talmudic law or Rabbinic sources from 2,200 hundred years ago.

    The Khazars are the main example that I can think of related to conversion/adoption of Judaism more or less in one gulp. It might have also significantly changed the DNA patterns of Askenazi females as opposed to Sephardic ones but both groups have plenty of overlap and often are subject to inbred-type recessive diseases if they do not scientifically try to pick a an apt mate which again contributes to Otherness although marrying gentiles is the easy way to go for females, but not males. Otherness.

    Judaism, unlike Christianity, seems to have no point to it or being Jewish at all except for the point of being Jewish which is circular. Jews have greater duties than Christians under the Noahite dispensation which I don’t recall signing. or agreeing to adhere to but I do anyway It’s sort of universalist and based upon natural law, no?

    Christianity tended to have doctrinal types that might not have been fully formed but were at least cohesive, gnosticism for example and all the versions that saw Christ or Mary as demi-gods or paired off Christ, Yahweh and Lucifer in different ways.

    So we see now that the very foundations of Christianity make no sense systematically not to mention never happened, and to Jews, that is irrelevant mostly and I commend them for that aspect.

    Evangelicals need to “prove” they are right which is another sort of self-loathing, that of the non-academic, scorned by universities and reduced to AM radio and the internet and markedly lower levels of academic achievement even in Canada. But lowest among these are the Scots-Irish, a truly “stricken and stricken” people going back to the Picts. These were the Dark Gaels and we see it in the creepy Children of the Corn names which are finally dying out in the Bible Belt but something you wrote, reminded me that words/names that end in the sound, “ya” and “ziel” or similar semi-morphemes which are often used in horror themes to indicate that someone is dangerous or as being “off” and creepy in terms of say, snake handling or being Satanic. There was a movie called Deliverance but it wasn’t about Exodus, oh no. Gomer is an indication not to take this person serously. Goober is not in the OT to my knowledge.

    The idea of having a national god is still appealing to the mislocated Caananites back in the times of Persian empire but it’s lessening, but they meld this with univeralist traditions about the Prime Mover and the Platonic God of perfection. All female or goddess imagery is obscured or even hidden on purpose and I have never been a conspiracy type as I put down my book about Christ being the Holy Grail and think this partially through. Although Jews themselves are top achievers in all of scholarship and science, there continues to be this notion of self-loathing that is built into it perhaps going back to Cyrus Envy and Skisha goddess envy. Goddesses are unnerving to people in a way that “male gods” are not. They same goes for androgynous gods like Dionysus, Lucifer and ….Jesus? Brother of Lucifer?

    The very word Goddess in Greek appears to mean “sensual verve” and who can resist a female who has that plus long blonde hair a la Aphrodite with the perfect ahem backstory? She’s made fully formed from Semen,

    Top that, Yahweh! And bow down to Her…. For Yahweh was inclined towards the prohibited, the Goddesses of other nations which was his secret shame…. The male god too is enveloped and shrinks immediately after regardless of strength or size and ultimately part of his essence is taken often against his “will of wills”. Compulsion is the true sin of the XY and estrogen in large amounts is the only cure…. Studies with people convicted of pederasty have shown exactly late although they use anti-androgens since that sounds somehow less feminizing.

    Note that it’s usually not the Christians who view Jews this way in terms of their having any reason to self-loathe at all. our ever loathing them at all. In the U.S. and Canada who have always been far less anti-semitic than Europe, virtually all upper milder class “gentiles” even in the South admire Jews and those of us further north, admire their “culture” and scholarship. We also tend to admire the ways that females have long spoken unabashedly which seems to be the opposite of what one might expect but many of them are obsessed with the themes of beauty and what it means for women if not primarily for Jewish women, who I note, seem to have quite different DNA from their males which again is a stereotype coming true to life for what it’s worth.

    Janey believes that stereotypes, while often misused are far more insightful in ways that we don’t always perceive, i.e., true as a generalization for many peoples and cultures as expressed in archetypes about say, Esther or Ruth compared to Rahab who appears to clearly be a successful merchant and at the crossroads of trivia, meaning rumors, so to speak. That’s why the scouts went to her “house”. They also had a few women almost certainly to matronize her so to speak.

    So, “Other” to me is not of Christians. An old-line Christian might say that we all wanted you until you were adamant and insisted that we stop trying to convert Jews so we stopped until the Jews for Jesus freaks started it up again but before we wanted you to be Anglicans and Catholics and not Jews for Jesus, for Goddess’s sake. Better to stay Jewish than wade into that morass and yet the focus is on Maccabean apocalyptic imagery and end times so the whole concept is ironic and unsurprising in many ways. From the Persians to the Jews to the Christians and now, we are givng you back Revelation and the end times, which Jews has stayed mostly clear of. Enjoy since it’s not Other.

    Other is the Jews’ own self-portrait. Bob Dylan said he changed his name because he didn’t feel like a “Zimmerman” but Jewish males were his most fervent fans of all even ‘cept for Janey even when he “converted” because like being baptized Catholic is for life, Jewish males still view the maternal Jewish mother as being for life and retaining them as Other for always. Jews were nice to Bobby Fischer when he was useful but then he became a “crazy Christian” and a person who loathed himself and his identity. Once he died, the Jews reclaimed him as a tragic Jewish figure after a lifetime of his trying to escape that fate. The boy’s sister raised him while mother eh, had friends from abroad but popped in to promote his financial prospects from time to time and even wrote to the Soviet Union to get him an invite where Jews continued to be influential even under communism.

    Ah irony and fate. Only Japan and Iceland helped this utter genius of beauty and splendor in how he played Chess so divinely, and yes, in that sense as Other. It was unescapable.

    Too heavy perhaps but I think the Babylonian exile essentially permanently changed the Jewish personality in terms of national identification but they were Canaanites then and they are again Canaanites as Israel has passed the U.S. as the largest repository of Jews. Many Jews continue to believe that the return is actually a sin against Yahweh but they end up there too when they piss someone off in Ukraine or Russia or the Orthodox Jewish community anywhere, really, and have nowhere else to go. One recent Israeli president actually referenced Cyrus as the great hero of the Jewish people and Cyrus was apparently of Indo-European lineage and simply respectful of most religions strategically but who cares right? Cyrus is Moses symbolically, the person from a great nation who created the Jewish people in fact out of mere Canaanite traders who spoke yes, Phoenician dialects and almost the alphabet where it was close but no cigar. Buy me a vowel please so I can pronounce the name of God….

    Their entire policy related to Jewish evangelical Christians and “the return” is bizarre if not outright offensive to international law as are the diminished rights of children who are only of Jewish males. They tried to fix that leak with the “if they consider you Jewish enough to kill, then we will take you” but this is a society fixated on lineage and maintaining a somewhat common culture although Hassidics are their own thing and often scorn Israeli. Jews would be the foremost lawyers to criticize such laws in the U.S. or Canada based upon religion of birth parent but essentially Jews have appealed to the whole world and asked for leniency due to their vulnerability as a “people” as opposed to a “race” in which Canaanites seem to be doing just fine, DNA-wise. Most, including Jews also believe that the other native cultures like the Samaritans and Palestinians should have rights commensurate with international law.

    Joyce above, not the author, seemed to imply non-violence on the part of the Israelites and I am thinking, oh my Goddess. Their book is dripping with blood, war, conquest, approved rape and repulsive ways of murdering others not to mention Yahweh and Lucifer targeting poor Job and his family for sport?

    They oppress even the young anti-bald crowd and an overarching message into the New Testament is a similar theme: Jews, contrary to Exodus and Joshua, always lose when they go to war and they lose badly or even worse, are simply subsumed but after Cyrus, they understood this and seldom assimilated, another underlying theme.

    As is:

    Do not piss off the surrounding gentiles for they are many and we are few and war is seldom if ever good for merchants except for the merchants of war. Trade is the liberation of womankind from war, conquest, rape, pillage, thuggery, oppression and from being simply ignored. Trade is voluntary; men give and women take and it’s much, much nicer and less disease-ridden than the way of Yahweh which leaves many dead and adds to the self-loathing aspect. Except for Moses, who appears to be not Jewish, the Jews of the book are portrayed in incredibly ugly lights. David? Solomon? Abraham? Even the snakes are worse than your average next door Snake. In different ways, these are all liars and idol worshipers and constantly at war. The prophets are all ahem, assholes who rarely do anything but rant and rave in terms of being productive but it’s their wisdom books, related to the prophets where much of the truth lies as you point out, Paul, the importance of what always seemed to me growing up to be marginal references in say, Psalms.

    Once we plunge into seeking El and Asherah, if not Ba’al, the true religion of the Bible opens up with all of its themes and becomes interesting and much more female-like with images of wailing/singing, angels, demons, goddesses, redemption, karma and so forth. The rigid parts are all pretty much putrid and all based upon a constant theme, Jews struggling with “God” but not in a good way. Instead, they are portrayed as constant backsliders who need to be punished by El/Yahweh again and again and again ending in predictions related to being scattered everywhere and now they are returning but clinging to a piece of ground, eh.

    Listening to apocalyptic rock as a mood enhancer related to Yahweh as opposed to Asherah and El….

    Yahweh was a usurper and not Elohim at all, mythologically speaking and your “stuff” makes that clear. Always remember that it is the popularizer of truth that often matters more than the actual archaeologist on the ground or the one with three dialects of Greek under their belt. It’s the connection making, i.e. interpretation that is elevated over the scripture by Goddess. Gods are always textualists.

    Hells Bells; they are calling for you, Joshua, you and your very evil and pernicious concept and conceit as an archetype you dwell among the lowest of the low, too low for the Witch of Endor to rouse from semi-consciousness. You belong in the lowest rung of Dante’s hell but…

    As a humanist, I only condemn thee to endless purgatory surrounded by Canaanite sluts, whores and mistresses of the night but they only sleep with those ahem, intact down there and yet you, Joshua will be rent asunder by their very fragrance as females and drawn forward always to provide them with favors as you see, they are in heaven, not you. Kneel and bow to your superiors for the last shall be first and the first shall be last and that theme comes straight from Babylonia to haunt you.

    Did Janey ever mention how much the story of Jericho obsesses her as the epitome of evil done by Men and praised by Men? It’s sick, sick stuff and anyone who types in genocide and Joshua gets thousands and thousands of Christians, maybe like Joyce who say things like, “well, who am I to question God; plus the children all went right to heaven”.

    I know this isn’t everyone’s thing but without an intimate knowledge of the Jews as fellow travelers and co-creators of Christianity, along with the Romans, there is not much western knowledge to comment on. The Rabbinic scholars lifted the efforts of humans above God and God’s children, have indeed defeated him.

    Goddess Bless,
    Janey

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