RE: [asa] A question on Genesis

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Mon Mar 23 2009 - 23:17:36 EDT

Dear George:


I have run out of ways to put it. If Genesis 11 follows Genesis 10 and is
read just that way it fits the chain of events. The dispersion followed the
death of Noah not the incident at Babel. Because the commentators thought
all the entire world (Chinese, Australian, Amazons, etc) were present and
accounted for at Babylon, their languages must have commenced there. We, of
course, know better. If you choose to believe the writer(s) of Genesis had
no earthly clue what was going on that is your prerogative. Just stop
harranging me because I give him/them more credit than that.


If the Bible writer wanted to tell us there was a topic of conversation that
was all the rage in Babylon he couldn't have done it. The Hebrew language
is too limited. You have to know that was what was going on (I do, you
don't) and presume the writer had the good sense to be saying that instead
of something we all know is dead wrong. Is that a controversial position to
take? You'ed prefer to believe, apparently, ignorance stems from the writer
and not the translation. This was Umberto Cassuto's attitude. He was a
preeminent Hebrew authority. His Genesis Commentary is still the hallmark
to this day. If one particular verse is contradicted by another verse,
however, the problem lay with the writer, his translation was sacrosanct.


If you want to read a good book, and God foirbid you take any of your
valuable time reading mine, read Hilprecht's The Babylonian Expedition. I
cited his book so much I was afraid they were going to go after me for
copyright infringement. He did take over 500 pages to cover what he could
have said in 200-300 pages but still it is a great read and will answer some
of your questions.


If you just know one thing, George, that the Garden of Eden was irrigated,
by extrapolation you can figure out everything. If you had only one more
nugget to add to that it would be that the city of Enoch that Cain built
dates to 4200 BC and was located just north of the city of Eridu via a canal
that linked the two cities. Just those two little tidbits of information
are totally absent in every commentary and in every Genesis translation.
And how did I discover these tiny bits of information? I dug it out of
archaeological publications, something Hebrew translators didn't think of.
They thought they could sit in their own libraries and fathom it all out
translating in the blind. Turns out they, and you, were wrong.


As for me being "silent," that sounds out of character for me. Do you
remember what it was about?


Dick Fischer, GPA president

Genesis Proclaimed Association

"Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"


-----Original Message-----
From: George Murphy []
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 8:41 PM
To: Dick Fischer
Subject: Re: [asa] A question on Genesis


My position is (a) irrelevant for the present issue and (b) one that has
been expressed here more than once.


The notion that because some Hebrew word other than saphah means "language"
in Daniel, saphah can't mean "language" in Genesis is ridiculous. Take a
look instead at Is.19:18 and Ez.3:5-6 where saphah obviously does mean


You still have given no justification for your paraphrase, & have not even
touched my point in my original post that with that paraphrase v.11 would
make no sense.


How many years you spent reading books proves nothing. You have given no
one a reason to believe that you know biblical Hebrew better than the
scholars who have worked on all the published translations and all the
commentaries. This of course is not the only case in which you've done
that. You made the same implicit claim with Gen.2 a few months ago, &
having been were called on it were silent. It's quite obvious that your
concordist scheme is what's in control, not any expertise in biblical



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

From: Dick <> Fischer

To: 'George Murphy' <>

Cc: ASA <>

Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 6:55 PM

Subject: RE: [asa] A question on Genesis


Hi George, you wrote:


Sorry Dick, my beliefs aren't the issue here. A YEC or atheist could pose
the same objections I did. The question is rather whether there is any
justification for your idiosyncratic translations. The fact that you avoid
the question entirely makes it easy to see why you would rather change the


George, I continually state my position. And my position is based solidly
on the written text as it pertains to the situation as I know it existed. I
do not take the position that The Bible says X, but we all know Y is true
(wink, wink), therefore the Bible writer was totally out to lunch or he must
have had something else in mind besides history. Since you won't state your
position let me characterize it for you.


What I believe is that X is true, the Bible writer wrote X in his own quaint
way which in ignorance was interpreted as Y. Therefore the discrepancy is
not in what was written being at odds with known facts, but what is being
interpreted as having been written being at variance with the facts of
history. Keep in mind the facts of history have not been widely known,
partly because of an ignorant interpretation of Genesis. So it's a vicious


 Of course context is important in establishing meaning but you give no
evidence that in the context of the biblical writer (rather than in some
other hypothetical ANE setting) the Hebrew sapheh echath means anything like
what you claim. & it is not just biblical commentaries who disagree with
your speculations (though dismissing von Rad and Westermann is pretty
arrogant). Can you cite a single recognized English translation of Genesis
that renders the text the way you want to have it?


Absolutely the book breaks new ground. Did any of the commentaries see
irrigation in the Genesis text? Of course not, they all presume Adam is
depicted as the first of our species. How could the Garden of Eden have
been irrigated if there was only one person? And that is exactly what the
writer meant when he said a river flowed out of Eden (edin) to water the
garden. We only know that because there are canals all over southern
Mesopotamia. The Atrahasis epic uses the term "fountains of the deep," a
typical Akkadian description of irrigation works. Knowing that is one more
indicator of a local flood not because we know it was local but because the
writer of Genesis also knew it. How many commentaries describe the flood as
being local to southern Mesopotamia? Yet the local Sumerians are on both
sides of the flood. That's a fact of history.


Translating saphah as "lip" fits the situation and "lip" is the primary
translation. It is only because the commentaries and translators thought
the entire world was concentrated at Babel (which we know can't be true)
that they got it in their heads that they all spoke one common language, and
thus the translation. Refer to Daniel: "Therefore I make a decree, That
every people, nation, and language (lish-shawn'), which speak any thing
amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in
pieces ."(Dan. 3:29). Here is where "language" is clearly intended and the
Hebrew word saphah is not used.


And who is dismissing von Rad and Westermann? They made mistakes, that's
all. All Genesis commentaries contain mistakes, just as all Bible
translations have mistakes, heck I'll bet there are mistakes in my own book
I don't know about. But these commentators didn't sit in the Library of
Congress for 25 years reading all this stuff like I did, and they couldn't
devote their entire effort to just ten chapters the way I could.


Dick Fischer, GPA president

Genesis Proclaimed Association

"Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"



To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Mon Mar 23 23:18:33 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Mar 23 2009 - 23:18:33 EDT