Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Little Bit of Documentary Hypothesis

Gen 21:22-31

22 At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, "God is with you in everything you do. 23 Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you are living as an alien the same kindness I have shown to you."
24 Abraham said, "I swear it."
25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech's servants had seized. 26 But Abimelech said, "I don't know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today."
27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelech asked Abraham, "What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?"
30 He replied, "Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well."


31 So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there.

...

Gen. 26:26-33

26 Meanwhile, Abimelech had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, "Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?"
28 They answered, "We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so we said, 'There ought to be a sworn agreement between us'-between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not molest you but always treated you well and sent you away in peace. And now you are blessed by the LORD."
30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they left him in peace. 32 That day Isaac's servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, "We've found water!"


33 He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.


Two very similar stories happening to two different patriarchs ending with two different reasons for the origins of Beersheba's name.

Curious, don't you think?

32 comments:

The Jewish Freak said...

These stories seem to make more sense as writers finding retroactive reasons for (then) current phenomenon. Two stories, two points of view.

Ben Avuyah said...

The truth (multiple authors) is more interesting, but never as entertaining as the apologetic...someone que lakewood yid, I'd like to hear the orthodox teich... perhaps their is a third posuk to be machriah beineiyhem.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Yeah, this dh 101, a classic doublet.

Godol Hador said...

There seems to be a lot of repetition in the Avraham / Yitzchak / Yaakov stories. The story of passing off his wife as his sister, having two sons, one good and one bad, this story here. Plus Noach seems to be two stories intertwined into one, and you have Breishis 1 and 2. But even with the DH it's strange, some of these are obvious contradictions or repetitions, wouldn't R have noticed? And if you say like Halivni, that R must have been trying to preserve the originals as much as possible, then why interwtine the Noach story? Thats not really preserving the original stories, its just making a mess of them. Strange.

Orthoprax said...

GH,

I am far from an expert of the DH and I have an only limited knowledge of all the different propositions made to explain the appearances of the text.

I've seen elsewhere the possibility that the Noah story may have been the work of a single author as it may be built upon a higher symmetry.

But, yeah, I think the different versions of history could be explained by the redactor, or other editor(s), wanting to keep as much material as possible from older authoritative sources. Where things conflicted, he might've put them side by side, but where they could be syncretized, he'd have merged them.

The Redactor probably wasn't trying to put his own version of history as authoritative. Who was he to decide which side of a conflict was the correct one? So he put them both in.

In any case though, while we may not be able to understand all the reasons behind the way the Torah is as it is or the motivations of the writers and redactor(s), the important thing to realize is that an omniscient divine source probably wouldn't have made such errors or have included such inconsistencies.

smoo said...

You might find my post on the documentary hypothesis at http://shmuzings.blogspot.com/
interesting. The post is called to DH or not to DH (march 5, 06)

Alex said...

Does anyone if Rav Soloveitchik commented on this issue? His commentary on Adam I and Adam II were so meaningful to me (apologetic, ben Avuyah?), I'm sure he would have something amazing to say about this "double-story", too.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>Does anyone if Rav Soloveitchik commented on this issue? His commentary on Adam I and Adam II were so meaningful to me (apologetic, ben Avuyah?), I'm sure he would have something amazing to say about this "double-story", too.

There are too many doublets for him to have commented on. If he had commented on them all, then he would have been fully engaged in offering an alternative to the documentary hypothesis.

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Ben Avuyah said...

(apologetic, ben Avuyah?),

Yeah, justifying an orthodoxy to fit it's preconcieved end point in the face of evidence opposing that belief....that's an apologetic. Judaism has lots of them, it's not just a christian phenomenon. Every time schroeder, or slifkin, or the flavor of the month gets up and starts yapping about how evolution and creationism are really the same if you just say/understand/believe/lobotomize yourself with X, they are formulating an apolegetic: and defense for their position, particularly a position relating to religious issues of faith.

alex said...

So, Fred, was that a "no", or was that a brush-off? And ben-Avuyah, was your "yeah" meant to say that you believe R' Soloveitchik was engaging in apologetics in his treatment of Adam I and Adam II?

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

For the record, Slifkin is opposed to creationism.

Alex, that was a no, not necessarily a brush off. No, he did not. But the fact is that there are lots and lots of doublets (and triplets) in the Torah. He would have had to write ten, twenty, thirty maybe more essays to have dealt with each one.

I do not believe RYBS was engaging in apologetics, because he wasn't trying to 'upshlug' Bible criticism, even if it is apparent that the motivation for presenting the two accounts in this fashion was the rise of source criticism. IOW, had he been living in the 17th century its unlikely that he'd have picked this theme.

I discuss apologetics here:

http://www.haloscan.com/comments/onthemainline/114667545822617068/#148381

I do distinguish between divrei Torah (and philosophy) and apologetics, although they might overlap too.

alex said...

Since my question didn't ask whether RYBS commented on ALL or "10 or 20 or 30" those doublets, rather ONLY on the subject of Beersheba, I thought your first response was trying to bury my question. So, thanks for finally answering it in your last post. By the way, how did you discover the answer so fast?

alex said...

In the beginning of the English language version of "The Conciliator", it refers to the original version, written in the mid-1600s:

"Another of the Frankfurt rabbis who appended a highly laudatory haskamah, Rabbi Simon ben Jacob Gunzburg, appraised the significance of the Conciliador

as going far beyond teaching the returning Jews how to understand the Torah and refute false interpretation, "Because in this manner the wisdom of the sages

of Israel will become recognized in the eyes of the nations and... all the nations of the earth will see that God has named us as His own." I guess Rabbi Gunzberg never would've fathomed that a man as brilliant as some of the guys who post here would enter this world.

The book indeed covered some interesting ways to reconcile the two Beersheva verses, quoting from ibn Ezra, Sforno, and others. I list some of the ideas, but I don't think I'd have a receptive audience. Of course, in ben Avuyah's mind, they're all just engaging in apologetics (perhaps disguised as divrei Torah, Fred?), but he feels a lot more comfortable limiting his insults to the Lakewood crowd.

Anonymous said...

If this were a novel, all of you would understand that the author placed repetition there deliberately, to play with the themes. You'd discuss the way the author highlights children following in the steps of their parents, and discuss ways in which the children diverge. All of you would see that in particular situations, choices are constrained, and there are only so many outcomes.
But instead, it's the bible, so the only thing discussed is superficial similarities in plot?

Ben Avuyah said...

>>>I do not believe RYBS was engaging in apologetics, because he wasn't trying to 'upshlug' Bible criticism, even if it is apparent that the motivation for presenting the two accounts in this fashion was the rise of source criticism. IOW, had he been living in the 17th century its unlikely that he'd have picked this theme.


I don't see why you draw a line between whether RYBS attempted to disembowel source criticism as a life calling, or defend against it's implications in one instance.

He was certainly aware of it's implications and made this one effort to deflect it's ability to explain duplicates in text.

He does not need to make it his life's work, or seek to solve the whole problem in order to offer an apologetic in this area.

Don't you think you limit the definition if apologists must endeavor to disprove entire scientific disciplines instead of just the points they choose to harp on.

Can a scientist offer one experiment on gravitational theory. Can we call it science even if it doesn't replace newtonian physics in one fell swoop or indeed attempt to.

Many christian apologist choose small portions of evolotion(fossil gaps...carbon dating validity...missing links) and offer alternate explanations in order to lessen the blow to fundamentalist understanding..... they may not have the wherewithal to challenge it all, yet we understand what they are doing in protection of their faith and both we and they call it an apologetic. If you watch the video with kirk cameron and Ray comfort, they unabashedly call their arguments against science and reason apologetics, becuase that's what they are. Now they are not endeavoring to bring down science, and many apologist don't endeavor to bring down evolution except for those parts that are most troubling to their doctrines.

Unless there is some technicality in the definition I am missing, enlighten me...

Ben Avuyah said...

>>Of course, in ben Avuyah's mind, they're all just engaging in apologetics (perhaps disguised as divrei Torah, Fred?), but he feels a lot more comfortable limiting his insults to the Lakewood crowd.

Pshaw....I have plenty of insult for all takers.

But why is identifying his argument as an apologetic offensive? If his Dvar torah is motivated by the difficulty that has arisen secondary to source criticism then I think it is a valid terminology.

S, may be splitting hairs on this topic, but I will be interested to hear him further define it as he sees it.....

Ben Avuyah said...

>>>I list some of the ideas, but I don't think I'd have a receptive audience

I hope your not refering to me...I'm always interested in the other side :-)

Orthoprax said...

Anon,

The Bible is generally considered a rather different type of work than your run of the mill novel, wouldn't you agree?

lakewoodyid said...

Hah Hah Hah.

19 comments and apparently no one thought of opening a chumash.

Because orthoprax fooled you all.

He quoted the verses in chapter 26 starting from verse 26.

BUT ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS GO BACK 3 VERSES TO VERSE 23:


Verse 23: "From there he went to Beer Sheva".

SEE?? IT WAS ALREADY CALLED BEER SHEVA (BY AVROHOM).

IN VERSE 33, THE TORAH SIMPLY SAYS THAT THE NAME REMAINED UNTIL TODAY BEING THAT BOTH AVROHOM AND YITZCHOK MADE A BRIS/SHEVU'AH/AGREEMENT WITH AVIMELECH.

Ben Avuyah said...

Um, yes, the narrator states that he goes up to ber sheva as the introduction to the second story of how it got it's name...

I'm not sure what your point is, do you feel the narrator should not have been privy to the end of his story a few pesukim later?

I don't think anyone feels the narrator didn't know it was called ber sheva. Indeed he is telling the story of how ber sheva came to be called ber sheva. I am not sure why you think that would require him to be coy about the name until the story is over. It makes sense to me that he is telling the story of Isaac going to ber sheva, and how it got it's name.

The root of the problem here is that there are two conflicting stories about the heritage of the naming of ber sheva.

Ain hacha nami, you could claim they are both true and complementary, but I don't see how that posuk either helps you or hinders the DH proponent.

Orthoprax said...

LY,

Yeah, I'm all about fooling people. It's not like the DH can stand by itself or anything.

Thanks Ben.

lakewoodyid said...

>I'm not sure what your point is, do you feel the narrator should not have been privy to the end of his story a few pesukim later?

In Chapter 21, the narrator there had no need to "been privy to the end of his story", why here in chapter 26 did he feel the need to?

Orthoprax said...

LY,

"In Chapter 21, the narrator there had no need to "been privy to the end of his story", why here in chapter 26 did he feel the need to?"

Tsk tsk, are you trying to fool Ben here or something? Scoundrel!

See 21:14, where does Hagar go? Seems the narrator is indeed privy to the geography of his tale.

Not only are you wrong, but you failed tremendously in the edict of dan lekaf z'chus and now you appear the hypocrite. Nicely done.

lakewoodyid said...

>See 21:14, where does Hagar go? Seems the narrator is indeed privy to the geography of his tale.

There it says "B'midbar Beer Sheva". Same place? Avimelech meets with Avrohom in the place where Hagar ran off to?

Orthoprax said...

LY,

In the wilderness of Beer Sheba, meaning the surrounding wilderness of that area. That makes sense doesn't it? Unless you have a better understanding of the text.

Anonymous said...

Ortho,

How about over shvu'os I look into it and report back here after Yom Tov?

LY

Orthoprax said...

LY,

Go for it, I'll still be here.

Anonymous said...

Enjoy the cheesecake.

Its extra yummy at 5 in the morning.

(after learning through the night...)

LY

lakewoodyid said...

Orthoprax, here are the results of my research.

Ibn Ezra & Rashbam: There were two different cities, each called Beershevah.

Ibn Ezra: The Torah is giving two reasons for why its called Beershevah. (Was the Ibn Ezra any less of a scholar than today's so called bible scholars? Yet, he was fine with such an answer.)

Sopornu: By Avrohom, it was called Beershavah with a "Komatz" under the "Shin". By Yitzchok, the name changed to Beershevah with a "Segol" under the "Shin".

Ramban according to the "Tuv Yerushalim" (Someone who wrote a sefer on the entire Ramban Al Ha'torah): Yitzchok dug up the same well that Avrohom had originaly dug (after Avrohom died, the Plishtim stuffed Avrohom's well). By Avrohom the posuk doesn't specify that the name Beershavah was directly given on the well, but rather "So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there". Therefore the Torah repeats by Yitzchok that the name was given because of the well - "He called it Shibah". (The Ramban has a pshat that the names of all the wells were symbolic and references to future events).

Ramban according to my understanding: Since the Plishtim stuffed the well, there was no longer a reason to call it Beershevah. Now that Yitzchok re-dug it, he renamed it Beershevah. Thats why the Torah stresses "and TO THIS DAY the name of the town has been Beersheba" because the well remained open.

Another pshat. By Avrohom, it says "Al Kein Karah La'makom Hahu" they called the "place" Beershevah. By Yitzchok it says "Al Kein Shem Ha'ir" they called the "town".... (Think - New York, NY)


DH: Multiple authors. WRONG PSHAT!!

Orthoprax said...

LY,

The point is that all of those different pshats have no compelling evidence for us to rationally accept. How do we know which one is correct? Why should we believe that any of them are correct? Basically, where's the beef? Are these answers based on actual research or are they contrived ad hoc solutions without scholarly basis?

The DH, while it does suffer from its imperfections, manages to explain many of these types of anomalies with very few propositions. This is just one example of many where the DH can be used to explain the textual oddity. It is much more appealing than the multitude of ad hoc explanations offered by the traditional mepharshim for every weird item in the text.

Ben Avuyah said...

Good research LY, but I am afraid Othoprax has said it all. I don't have much to add, but somehow I'll manage :-)

It's all a question of methodology. The Problem is widespread, if you look through the Torah their are multiple incidences of doublets.
The universal question is why is this so ?

Our rabbinic tradition is fundamentalist in the sense that no data can ever be viewed as shedding light on the origins of the torah unless it is in line with our previous philosophy. Since our philosophy is divine authorship we are forced to asses each situation individualy, with a series of answers such as, "it teaches you x, y, and z."

The secular viewpoint allows for all evidence to lead, well, wherever it leads. And the DH is graceful in the regard that it looks for an overeaching solution to what is a systemic problem.

Think of it this way....someone could observe the world and notice that apples fall from trees....perhaps becuase seeds want to be in the ground. Rocks roll down hills becuase they desire lower earth, as is their nature. And autumn leaves fall off trees and reach the ground because their color darkens and they desire to be with the like colored earth.

Their is no evidence for these postulates, but they help resolve the myteries of the world around us in a primitive sense, but not in the eloquent and evidentiary manner that gravity does.

This is very similar to the rabinic literature, there are answers, but not explanations, because they are not based on evidence. We could answer a myriad of answers to explain the two stories, perhpas an answer is that it should be called bersheva bersheva....sound ridiculous ? Not much more than the other collected answers you have given.


I am not saying that DH is on as solid ground as physics, certainly not, i am just trying to point out to you the difference in methodology, the different ways one can look for truth...one can work from the evidence- up, or from the preconcieved notion- down.

I'll give you hint, one of the above does not clear the bar of intelectual honesty....