From The Mailbag. . . -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 06:2 (Spring 1993)
Article: From The Mailbag. . .
Author: Anonymous

From The Mailbag. . .

The article of W. H. Shea, The Burial of Jacob, in ABR 5:2 (92), offers an interesting proposal connected with the Khu-Sebek stela. Two points not addressed in the article may alter the interpretation. There is no consensus on the location of the threshing floor of Atad in Genesis 50:10. The mention of the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites in verse 11, would indicate that Canaan, by definition, is the area west of the Jordan river and more “usually” associated with the coastal areas and near inland as far as the Jordan. Canaanites are usually identified as merchants or entrepreneurs in the Murex dyeing industry and others. See my note in ABR 3:65 (90).

The second point, often neglected in Bible study is the actual location of the writer (when Genesis 50 was being written). If this occurred when Moses was in Moab, then beyond the Jordan, would refer to west of the river. This point was mentioned as confirmation of the Mosaic authorship of Genesis, in The Pentateuch and Haftoras Ed. by Dr. H. J. Hertz, Soncion Press, London, 1966, p. 189. Also p. 395 relates the ‘Inconvenience Theory of Biblical Traditions’ in that writers of “fables” would not invent inconvenient traditions as a part of their history (example, the Hebrew ancestors were not natives born in Canaan, or that the wives of Isaac and Jacob were Aramean women). If the Pentateuch was not written down until the Monarchy period (Aram was a mortal enemy of Israel during that time) these statements would be very inconvenient.

A possibility exists, that the burial party of Joseph went direct to Hebron, stopping at the threshing floor of Atad, located on some elevated area just S or SW of Hebron, where the traditional “mourning followed by the burial” was held for seven days (Shivah). A grand tour of the old “homestead” would have been unnecessary, especially since Joseph was only a young child when Jacob crossed the Jabboc. This area east of the Jordan may have been unfamiliar to him. A mourning at Atad, east of the Jordan, and still several days travel to Hebron for the burial, would not be in keeping with Jewish burial practices. The party could have been ambushed as they returned, near any “shoulder” in the vicinity.

P.M., E. Windsor, NJ

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