The Nature of The Biblical Patriarchs and Aristocratic Kingship

Discussion in 'Old Testament - False Dialectic' started by Richard Stanley, Dec 3, 2015.

  1. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    In the false dialectic framework that Jerry and I have discussed as for underlying Western Culture, we are led by our various institutions of learning to believe that the Hebrew patriarchs were of a significantly different nature than the supposedly 'secular' goy leaders that they are juxtaposed against throughout our historical legacy. Nothing could be further from the truth, including that the Heroic Age 'kings' of Homer can be accurately portrayed any different, for instance as being 'secular' - in the sense we think about it today that is. This because as discussed in the Introductory post, the Homeric works and Hesiod served the same function for the Greeks as the Judaic canon did as for presenting a unifying, national foundational narrative in an epic and sacralized form. In fact, both canons were regularly presented to their respective audiences in a chanted form, which I assume made it easier to remember.

    In this regard I will present some more excerpts from Professor Cyrus H. Gordon's The Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilization, discussing the correct manner in which these characters should be viewed. As I have already quoted, Gordon previously revealed that such as the ubiquitous 'Helen of Troy' motif found in the Hebrew (Sarah, Rebecca, etc.) and Ugaritic narratives did not exist in the wider region until the arrival of the so-called Indo-Europeans upon the scene. These same people also brought with them such as the chariot, which made its way to the usage of the Egyptians.

    From pg. 289:
    One of the chief themes in the Patriarchal Narratives is the preoccupation with leadership. A great issue is made over Abraham's heir. The text dramatises not only the birth of Isaac but also his triumph over Ishmael's rivalry. The same, mutatis mutandis, may be said of Jacob's triumph over Esau. This pervasive theme goes hand in hand with the fact that the text is royal epic, establishing the line founded by the first basileus [Greek for king - ed] of the Jews, Abraham. The royal prerogatives of the line are substantiated in the text not only by birth, but by blessings, birthright, and possession of the household goods.

    At first it seems strange to attribute to the Patriarchs the roles of aristocratic warriors and merchants, simultaneously. That this combination of roles is genuine, and not contrived, is borne out by the administrative texts from Ugarit, which list bdl.mrynm (400:III:6) "merchants of the chariot warriors" and similarly bdl.mdrglm (44:VI:17) "merchants of the m.warriors." However we interpret the syntactic relationship of the two nouns in each case, it is clear that commerce and the military elite could and did mix. It stands to reason that if the king had commercial agents to represent his interests throughout his commercial empire, his merchants would on serious occasions turn to him for protection against the threat of attack. ...

    In the next paragraph, Gordon unfortunately goes on to engage in some bizarre conceit to maintain the mythos (and probably his job) of the Judaic uniqueness, which has now been dealt a serious blow by the later archaeology in several ways. In any case, that Abraham and Jacob bought some land in Canaan, doesn't justify the later Conquest of the entire land, unless that is you really believe in divine Justification via Providence. But even this Conquest is rather dubious, its true nature being from other means: conversion by coercion, ethnic cleansing, and forced relocations - all administered by a foreign elite.

    From pp. 290-1:
    One of the differences between the Homeric heroes and the Hebrew Patriarchs is their contrasting methods of getting land. The Greek heroes acquired land by conquest. The Patriarchal Narratives depict the Fathers as purchasing land in Canaan. Genesis 23 tells of Abraham buying land from the Hittites around Hebron; Genesis 33:19 states that Jacob bought land around Shechem from the Sons of Hamor.

    We must shun one-sided approaches to complex questions. The near-sacrifice of Isaac is a case in point. The principal function of the story in epic saga may well be to remind the public to obey the behests of God, no matter how exacting they be. [To the benefit of the 'royalty' that is. - ed] If Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son and heir, we should certainly withhold nothing that God [or the king - ed] wants from us. But this application of the story does not explain all the factors inherent in the story itself. Just as God saved Isaac in the nick of time and provided a ram to substitute for him on the altar, Artemis saved Iphigeneia at Aulis be snatching her away and putting a stag in her place on the altar (Cypria, Loeb edition, pp. 494-5). This parallel shows that the essential elements of the story are East Mediterranean with relexes in both Greece and Israel.

    Students of Scripture have long observed that the Isaac saga is smaller in scope and in detail than sagas of either his father Abraham or of his son Jacob. It is quite likely that his original saga has ben trimmed down for good reasons. Scripture makes it clear that unlike the conceptions of Abraham and of Jacob, Isaac was conceived through divine agency. Like the Mycenaean Greek heroes, Isaac could claim paternity at two levels; the human and the divine. His human father, through whom he obtained his specific position in his people's history, was Abraham; but his superhuman quality was derived from the deity that visited Sarah. This is of a piece with the dual paternity of Homeric heroes
    [such as Castor and Pollux who I have discussed in my posts - ed], who hold the office of their human father, but are supermen [sic] because of their divine fathers. Normative Judaism has divested itself of this ancient approach to the paternity of heroes, in spite of the tell-tale text in Genesis. Midrash does not hesitate to call Moses half-god and half-man, 1 but it too fails to pick up the thread of the nativity of Isaac, probably because the puritanic trend set in early enough to nip the Isaac midrashim in the bud. It is in every way conceivable that some of the original Isaac Cycle surviced to re-echo in Christianity. Jesus derives his human office of Messianic King from Joseph, but his divine quality from his Divine Father [Vespasian and Julius Caesar :rolleyes:]. Moreover, the Church tradition that connects the sacrifice of Isaac with the sacrifice of Christ apparently rests on sound exegesis, for the sacrifice of Isaac would have meant not only the sacrifice of Abraham's son but of God's.

    1 See L. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews III, 1911, p. 481. Actually the apotheosis of Moses is promised in Exodus 7: 1, where Yahweh says to him: "Behold I am making you a god (Elohim) vis-a-vis Pharaoh." Cf. Mark 9:4.

    The alternative interpretation for the last sentence is that since the near-sacrifice of Isaac was self-serving propaganda for the thinly veiled 'royals', the latter sacrifice was just of the same artifice.

    After discussing other bloody comparisons Gordon returns to the 'heroes' on pp. 295-6:

    The Hebrew heroes of the Conquest received inalienable land grants, in perpetuity, for their heirs, in exchange for which they owed continued military service to the nation. Leviticus 25 makes the theory of real-estate quite clear ['Real' in this sense means 'royal' - and still does, you Tea Party pilgrims and ousiacs. - ed] God owned the Land and the People. the Hebrews (as slaves of God because of His taking them out of Egypt) were entrusted with his Land as His tenants. They were at the same time to be the landed warrior and administrative ruling class. All this is basically paralleled in Greece [and far beyond, where you also got your inalienable land reassigned to someone else if you displeased the king - ed] where the aristocracy had inalienable land and where the subjected natives were reduced to servitude.

    The warrior class, who became the landed aristocracy, were called the gibbore hayil; from them came the leadership of the nation. Aristocrats (among Hebrews and Greeks) often had harems that included women of common or even servile origin, as well as well-born aristocratic ladies. Normally, the successors would be chosen from the sons born by ladies; but on occasion those born by servile or common wives achieved the ascendancy. In the latter case, tradition could dwell on the phenomenon as "worthy of saga." 1

    1 Note that Gideon is a gibbore hayil, although his becoming Judge is the more worthy of saga because he was the youngest in a family belonging to a poor clan in the tribe of Manasseh (Judges 6: 12, 15). This type of elevation is not from the dregs of society, but from the lower rungs on the ladder of aristocracy. [Akin to the English 'gentry' class. Which is the basis for the contextual deception over the current usage of the term 'Gentile' as opposed to 'goyim'. - ed]
    More to follow.

  2. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Gordon goes on to discuss the institution of Judgeship, which preceded the making of Saul the first king, to then be followed by David and Solomon. Typically we are told that this institution was preferred because of God's dislike of kingship, sometimes the disdain thought to mask peoples' disdain for hereditary kings just as was the case with the Republic era Romans. But, according to the biblical accounts it was the people who demanded a king and God acceded oddly.

    The judges were men who were chosen by their aristocratic peers to become temporary kings in order to resolve a transient crisis, and therefore could not create a hereditary dynasty via their sons. As I was writing the prior sentence, however, I realized that the narrative of the Patriarchs is ironically just such a hereditary and aristocratic dynasty. But since most people don't view the patriarchs as Gordon delineated from a straightforward reading of the texts and by examining other data, then there was never any reason to view them as a 'royal' dynasty.

    From pg. 296-8:
    Iliad 15:333-6 tells of Medon, the bastard son of Oileus, who slew a kinsman of his stepmother Eriopis. Now this Medon, who stemmed from a lowly mother and slew a relative of his father's well-born wife, is nonetheless a hero. [As we discussed in the intro post the context of the term 'hero' back then was radically different than today, and Gordon's comparison of the Greek and Hebrew aspects of 'heroism' destroys Francisco Gil-White's brave attempt to differentiate between Greek and Hebrew 'natures'. - ed] We are to compare his lowly maternity and his slaying of the kin of his well-born stepmother, with the account of Abilimelech. Abilimelech, the son of Gideon (Jerubbaal) by a Shechemite concubine, slew the many well-born sons of his father (except Jotham, the youngest, who escaped by hiding) and was made king by the grandees of Shechem (Judges 9:1-6) and ruled over Israel for three years (9:22). What we have to bear in mind is that Abimelech (for all the inferiority of his mother and for all his own rascality) was nevertheless a member of the ruling class because he was the son of the ruler Gideon.

    Another aristocrat born of a lowly mother was Jephthah.2 Jephthah was the son of a harlot, and he was scorned and driven out by his half-brothers, but he was still a gibbor hayil as Judges 11:1 plainly states. [2 For the nobility of his father, see Numbers 26:29 and Judges 11:1.]

    This has the greatest bearing on the institution of the leaders called sofetim "Judges." The prevailing view is simply that the Judges were inspired, not hereditary, leaders. But this misses the point; the Judges were normally from the ruling aristocracy, quite like the kings in Homer. Succession from the father to son was not the important thing. The Odyssey tells us that while there was no guarantee that Telemachus would succeed Odysseus as ruler of Ithaca, the ruler would be chosen from one of the many "kings" (=members of the ruling class) in Ithaca.

    The key to the institution of the Judges is Mycenaean kingship, whose heyday was precisely in the Period of the Judges (12th and 11th centuries) in the same East Mediterranean cultural continuum. The kings did not necessarily inherit rulership from their father but they sometimes did like Odysseus from Laertes, or Abimelech from Gideon. In any case, the kings came from the fighting and landed aristocracy whose Hebrew name is gibbore hayil. The title for "ruler" varies in both Greek and Hebrew. The two commonest designations in Greek are basileus and (w)anax. In Hebrew, nasi is familiar in the Patriarchal Narratives; and sofet in the Book of Judges. But melek, the normal Hebrew word for "king" also appears in both sets of documents. It is useful to remember that in Ugaritic, the cognates of melek and sofet are parallel equivalents of each other.

    As in Mycenaean society, so too in the Period of the Judges, petty groups would form coalitions in times of general emergency. The leader with the largest following would be the president [judge - ed] of the confederacy.

    The comparative study of the Judges and Mycenaean kingship shows that the prevailing theory of "charismatic leadership" in ancient Israel is based on one factor but misses the other factor. The Judges are not inspired leaders raised from the masses, but rulers who normally emerged from the aristocracy. They may come from smaller tribes, and even from smaller clans within the tribes; but such details only make their tale more worthy of saga. They regularly are sired by gibbore hayil, from whom the derive their membership in the ruling class.2 [2 The text, as we have indicated above, often bears this out specifically, and when it does not, it nowhere gives any reason to suppose that the Judge was raised from the common people by inspiration alone.]

    Saul is the son of Kish the gibbore hayil (1 Samuel 9:1), so that he was a member of the ruling class even though he was from a junior clan of a small tribe (v.21).

    So the common understanding that the 'Israelites' and 'Judeans' rulers were just a bunch of common folk, raised up to a Chosen status can be put to rest. The related term, 'Predestinated Elect', is another term for the 'elites' which caused untold hordes of Christians to kill each other over. Same with the term 'Gentile', really designating the gentil elites, the not so 'gentlemen' warriors, and not really the peasants.

  3. Jerry Russell

    Jerry Russell Administrator Staff Member

    About Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac: although they had so many perquisites of royalty, isn't it odd that they are depicted as lacking any people to rule over, aside from their retinue of spear-carriers? The empire is promised to their many descendants who haven't been born yet. And, this 'covenant' seems to imply an equal gentility bestowed on the entire people.

    Doesn't it follow that the Hebrews were different from the Greeks, at least in this fiction that the common people are the beneficiaries of a slave rebellion, as well as all equally descended from royalty? Not that I'm claiming that this was anything other than propaganda, while the reality was that the Judges and then the Kings were drawn from a very small royal family. But, the Greeks never made any similar pretenses.
  4. Richard Stanley

    Richard Stanley Administrator

    Good points Jerry.

    And just as I had laid out the change in context of the terms 'Gentile' and the 'Predestinated Elect' carried forward till today, it might be that this scheme is of one piece with playing to the vanity of the average Canaanite (and the imported others) cum Hebrew. Here amplified with the Chosen status. Then when this is combined with the ~600 Mosaic cultural 'law' inversions from that of their neighbors one can see that a clear notion of a distinctly different society has been manufactured from a previously similar, if not identical, substrate of people.

    Additionally, as I will introduce soon, the Levites are granted 'control' of 48 cities throughout the new tribal territories that have been cleared of the indigenous heathens by genocidal conquest, that is, if the heathens didn't peacefully surrender in fear of the former consequence. The import of this is that the non-Levites are occupying the rural areas, villages and such. This is where Finkelstein's archaeology says the settlements of the Canaanite serfs and slaves set up their highland villages upon abandoning the failed cities. Failed with no sign of a Conquest and preceding Exodus.

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