RE: [asa] A question on Genesis

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Mon Mar 23 2009 - 19:20:00 EDT

Hi David:


While the three sons of Noah and their extended families remained
concentrated near the ark's landing site, I'm sure the story of their
origins was recited over and over round the campfires such that it was
widely known among all the families for four generations. The dispersion
sent the Japhethites west so none of them are likely sources. Mizraim and
his sons went to Egypt. I believe the impact on the culture of Egypt could
have been quite significant. Two pyramids were inscribed naming the one
created "out of the waters of chaos" as "Atum" who begat among others one
named "Seth." That's just too eerie for words.


The Hebrew word for Egyptian is "Mizraim." The Assyrian word was "Musri" as
is the Arabic word for Egyptian today. That is not without significance in
my estimation. Moses was schooled in Egypt with all the libraries at hand
available to him. Why would he not be drawn to texts about his family
origins written in a language related closely to his own? That's my best
guess, but naturally there are alternatives.


Dick Fischer, GPA president

Genesis Proclaimed Association

"Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"


-----Original Message-----
From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. []
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 2:43 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] A question on Genesis


I have a further question. Dick has shown that there are connections between
biblical and ANE sources. Without considering a late date, multiple sources,
and other claims that tend to negate historical validity to the biblical
text, which outlook is more likely? (1) Did the wandering shepherds retain
the history of the Israelites and their predecessors accurately? Did the
settled civilizations of ANE corrupt them to form the various recorded
legends found in the several cities? Or (2) did the Israelites clean up the
legends they encountered in the pagan civilizations to produce a
monotheistic apologetic? It is certain that the pagan records that we have
found greatly antedate those of the Jews and their ancestors. Another
relevant consideration involves whether a nomadic tribe would carry many
clay tablets, the only form of writing in the area of Mesopotamia and Syria.
What records would the Israelites have had even from the time of Abraham to
the Exodus, roughly 20th to 13th centuries B.C.?

Dave (ASA)


On Mon, 23 Mar 2009 10:54:00 -0700 Jim Armstrong <>

I understand the language issue, aware that words like gandydancer, gaffer,
"dime turn" [with a nod to the U-2 pilots!], and even "Jesus nut" rise
within particular vocations or other work or social group contexts. But I
was just struck that in vigorous concordist efforts such as yours (and I'm
no expert at all in this area), you've really worked hard to bring a lot of
cultural parallels into view, along with language interactions, and yet
don't seem to make room for legend to have been swept into the texts of
Scripture, though this particular explanation of language diversity quacks
and waddles with all the appearance of legend rather than history. To expect
the written capture of oral tradition - apparently from many voices - to
result in texts that are completely sterile with respect to any elements of
legend just seems very unlikely. And I don't recall having heard that word
"legend" mentioned in any of these discussions, even though a legend
interpretation of the tower of Babel story would not seem to sacrifice
anything significant other than personal literalist perspective. [My point
was still just the apparent absence of a legend perspective when discussing
the tower of Babel.]


JimA [Friend of ASA]

Dick Fischer wrote:

Hi Jim:


It isn't simply a matter of legends. Some words and phrases can be
difficult to decipher without an intimate knowledge of the background and
situation. By way of illustration here is a brief conversation between two
men engaged in a particular occupation. We'll call them Joe and Pete.


Joe: "Say your viz."

Pete. "We're popeye."

Joe: "We're oranges sweet. Where you at"?

Pete. "Angels twenty-two, how 'bout you"?

Joe: "Base plus seven."

Pete. "You feet wet"?

Joe: "Feet dry."

Pete. "Starting turn, roll out three two four."

Joe: "Roger."

Pete. "Got a talley"?

Joe: "Talley."

Pete. "Changing freaks."


I imagine a lot of people would not catch even the situation surrounding
this conversation, but a few probably would - certainly those astute fellows
on this list. If I disclosed these were two pilots, more people would make
some connections. If you knew these were two Air Force pilots conducting a
mid-air refueling rendezvous that would be a big help. "Viz" is short for
visibility. "Popeye" is in the clouds. Twenty-two thousand feet is "angels
twenty-two," but sometimes we used a base altitude which was classified to
keep the "Charlies" from knowing how high we were flying. "Talley" comes
from the English, "talley ho." Simple. But only if you had been there
actively involved in mid-air refueling would you be likely to know that
"oranges sweet" meant clear visibility, and feet wet or dry meant over water
or over land.


And that is exactly the point with Genesis translation. Just converting
Hebrew into English accurately will get you in the ball park in some cases.
That's what most commentaries are able to do. I read them all. Some are
better than others. Speiser was well aware of the Near East connection and
was an authority on ANE literature. Delitzsch recognized the similarity
between the Genesis patriarchs and the list of ten kings from Berossus, and
so on. But the most valuable connections didn't come from Genesis
commentaries, they came from archaeologist's notes, reports and books, soil
scientists, and anthropologists who spent time in Iraq and got their hands


Instead of reading Westermann and Von Rad, one needs to read Kramer,
Crawford, Hallo, Parrot, Pritchard, Gowlett, Pettinato, Layard, Hilprecht,
Barton, Synkellos, Postgate, Heidel, Clay, Barton, Langdon, Zimmern, Dalley,
Jacobsen, Cottrell, Mallowan, Woolley, Sollberger, Poebel, and good old
Archibald Sayce, to name a few. If someone did that, maybe I wouldn't catch
so much flak. (Oops, sorry, another old Air Force expression.)


Dick Fischer, GPA president

Genesis Proclaimed Association

"Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Jim Armstrong
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 1:05 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] A question on Genesis


Legend? I don't seem to hear that word used hereabouts.
Were these early folks without legends?
 JimA [Friend of ASA]

Dick Fischer wrote:

George, you're on record contradicting the Apostle Paul, why should I fare
any better? Jublees has no historical value, Genesis has no historical
value, where does it end? What would you believe? I can't imagine these
are the teachings of Martin Luther!


Let's start on a note of agreement. There was no point in the history of
the universe where everyone on this planet spoke one, common, universal
language. And there was no time that God scrambled one universal language
into different languages Let's start there.


So the question is did the Bible writer(s) think that and say that, or did
they not think that and say something we have interpreted as having said
that? Your opinion seems to be (and you always disguise your own opinion)
that the Bible writer(s) thought, believed, and wrote that the entire world
spoke one common language and that this basic language was changed into many
languages, which we know to be hogwash, and so the Bible writer(s) were
misinformed, ignorant and uninspired. Is that your position?


We all know what I believe, tell us what you believe.


Dick Fischer, GPA president

Genesis Proclaimed Association

"Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of George Murphy
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2009 4:07 PM
To: Dick Fischer; 'Preston Garrison'
Subject: Re: [asa] A question on Genesis


1) The independent historical value of the Book of Jubilees is slight if
not zero.


2) Note the assumptions buried in the statement "So the Bible writer
couldn't have meant the entire world spoke one unified language as there
were at least two languages spoken right there, Akkadian and Sumerian."
I.e., the Bible must be giving an accurate historical account & we know
historically that more than one language was spoken in the area so the text
can't mean what it says.


3) There is no evidence that that the Hebrew saphah echath, "one lip," is
equivalent to the English idiom "on everybody's lips." All the English
versions I've consulted (KJV, RSV, NRSV, NIV, TE, NEB, Goodspeed, Moffat),
as well as the commentaries of von Rad, Westermann and Speiser, translate
"one lip" as equivalent to "one language." Dick has no reason at all to
claim that it means anything else other than the desire to get out of a
difficulty for his concordist scheme.


4) But if we grant that baseless supposition, what sense do we make of v.7,
"Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not
understand one another's speech" (RSV)? ("Language" and "speech" there are
again saphah.) I'm sure Dick can come up with something about God making
them all interested in different topics of conversation, but the obvious &
correct meaning is the traditional one, that they couldn't understand one



----- Original Message -----

From: Dick Fischer <>

To: 'Preston Garrison' <>

Cc: ASA <>

Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2009 12:58 PM

Subject: RE: [asa] A question on Genesis


Hi Preston:


The dispersion of the sons of Noah occurred at Noah's death according to


"And in the sixth year, she (Azurad, wife of Eber) bare him a son, and he
called his name Peleg; for in the days when he was born the children of Noah
began to divide the earth amongst themselves. For this reason they called
his name Peleg. And they divided (it) secretly amongst themselves, and told
it to Noah. And it came to pass in the beginning of the thirty-third
jubilee that they divided the earth into three parts, for Shem and Ham and
Japheth, according to the inheritance of each ." (Jub. 8:8-10).


"And thus the sons of Noah divided unto their sons in the presence of Noah
their father, and he bound them all by an oath, imprecating a curse on every
one that sought to seize the portion which had not fallen (to him) by his
lot" (Jub. 9:14).


Then Peleg takes a wife and begets Reu. They departed Ararat after the death
of Noah, as did all the sons, and this particular line of Semites headed
"eastward to Shinar" (Jub. 9:19). In the words of Peleg: "Behold the
children of men have become evil through the wicked purpose of building for
themselves a city and a tower in the land of Shinar" (Jub. 9:18).


And Genesis follows this same line of reasoning. Thus Japheth was
unrepresented at Babel. Furthermore, Asshur, a Semite, went to settle his
cities including Nineveh in chapter 10. So the incident at Babel in Genesis
11 affected those in the line of Arphaxad, the Line of Promise, and a group
of Hamites led by Nimrod.


Scrambling and altering of one basic language into many languages at Babel
is a common misinterpretation.


Gen 11:1 states in the KJV: "And the whole earth was of one language, and of
one speech."


And they dwelt in the land of "Shinar." Shinar is Hebrew for Sumer and the
Sumerians spoke an unrelated language. So the Bible writer couldn't have
meant the entire world spoke one unified language as there were at least two
languages spoken right there, Akkadian and Sumerian. In addition,
inscriptions found in various Semitic languages, Assyrian, Aramaic,
Canaanite, Amorite, and of course Hebrew are all variations of the original
Akkadian language. So the basic language structure was not changed at all.


The key to a better interpretation is in the original Hebrew where the word
"land" can be used for "earth" and the Hebrew word translated "language" is
the word saphah for "lip." So the whole land of Shinar or Sumer was of one
lip. This was during the era of the ziggurats from the time of the flood at
2900 BC and the destruction of Ur at 2000 BC. The topic of conversation on
everyone's lip was these massive ziggurat building projects that took place
in every major city in the region. In essence, it became a contest between
cities to out build their neighbors and thus to elevate the status of their
own particular city gods. These are the words of Gudea commemorating the
ziggurat at Lagash:


The bright crown of the temple rested upon it and as the

lapis-lazuli mountain of heaven and earth rose from the earth.

The pavement of the terrace of the great temple he laid; as a

pure vessel on which honey and wine are poured it was open

to heaven. The shrine with a couch which he built like a

perfect mountain, as the holy stone vessel of the deep it rose.

On account of the great name which he had made for himself

he was received among the gods into their assembly


Note the similarity in attitude with that of the tower builders who
declared, "let us make us a name" in Genesis 11:4.


In essence, the order of presentation in Genesis is correct. After the
flood the children of Noah remained in the area of where the ark landed
until they could reconstitute. The lands were divided or apportioned in the
days of Peleg (Gen. 10:25) while Noah was alive. At the death of Noah came
the dispersion of the sons of Noah described in Genesis 10. The incident at
Babel with the scattering of the descendants of Arphaxad caused Terah to
move south from Babylon to Ur where Abraham originated. The curse on Canaan
was fulfilled from his seizing a land not apportioned to him that Abraham
claimed under his inheritance.


This is all in my book, Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham.


Dick Fischer, GPA president

Genesis Proclaimed Association

"Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History" <>


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Preston Garrison
Sent: Saturday, March 21, 2009 11:54 PM
To: ASA list
Subject: [asa] A question on Genesis




This may be off topic, unless Biblical studies can be considered

something of a science, but such things have been discussed here

before, so here goes.


Has anyone else noticed that multiple languages are already mentioned

among the descendants of Jephthah in Genesis 10:5, nearly a full

chapter before the story of Babel, which concerns Nimrod, a

descendant of Ham.


 From the NASV:


"From these [the descendents of Jephthah], the coastlands of the

nations were separated into their lands, EVERY ONE ACCORDING TO HIS

LANGUAGE, according to their families, and into their nations."


The rest of chapter 10 concerns the descendants of Ham, one of whom

was Nimrod. His kingdom and the Babel story are described in chapter

11:1-9. Then the descendants of Shem are described in 11:10-32.


It starts to look like to me that Genesis 11 didn't originally refer

to a univeral unity of language - the unity described was something

that was imposed by the conquests of Nimrod.


It was the working out of the curse on Ham. They were cursed by

getting an able, effective and violent leader who unified them,

conquered surrounding tribes and imposed the same language on all of

them, which was followed by unified rebellion against God and the

resulting judgement.


Insert the usual admission that I haven't been to seminary, and I

have no idea what I am talking about.


Let the expertise commence.




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Received on Mon Mar 23 19:20:30 2009

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