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Old 04-27-2001, 04:22 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Argument from Names against the Bible

Hear ye, O Bible inerrantists, I have a challenge! Open Genesis 14:2 and look at the names of two kings: Bera king of Sodom and Birsha king of Gomorrha.

Bera <- Hebrew "ben ra" = bad son.
Birsha <- Hebrew "ben rasha" = wicked son.

What kind of parents would call their sons such names?! Isn't it more logical to conclude the Bible is telling stories just like the Grimm Brothers? Attaching names which denote character or attitude is common among fictional stories.
 
Old 04-27-2001, 11:11 PM   #2
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Attatching names denoting characters was also popular in ancient times. Peoples from the Caananites to the Native Americans did that.
 
Old 04-28-2001, 05:25 AM   #3
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Names like "Blue Trout", "Running Bear", yes, but "Wicked Son"?! No parent would do that. And it's just fitting for the kings of Sodom and Gomorrha. Exactly what one would expect from human storytelling.
 
Old 04-28-2001, 08:40 AM   #4
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devnet, the name "Bera" seems to have some question as to its origin. Some lexicons say that it means "gift" and is derived from a mostly unused root. The name "Birsha" does, however, seem to mean "son of wickedness" or "in/with wickedness".

I'm curious, how often does "ben" contract into a prefixed "b"? That seems rather confusing since "b" also means "in/with".

Regardless, similar to what Freego said, it was popular in ancient times to "twist" real names into derogatory names for the purposes of the story. I'm sure that if we tried hard enough we could come up with examples of non-fictional works from Egypt, Greece, Rome, and possibly other cultures that contain this kind of thing.

I'm not sure that I believe the names are the real names of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrha, however, they might be "twisted" or "slightly altered" to yield these derogatory names. Or, the derogatory names may simply represent the names of these kings which people at the time would have known. It's kind of like when we speak of the enemies as the bad guys or the evil leaders or the despot...

Anyway, there are plenty of explanations that don't lead to the conclusion that they are "fictional stories".

Ish
 
Old 04-28-2001, 03:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Ish:
devnet, the name "Bera" seems to have some question as to its origin. Some lexicons say that it means "gift" and is derived from a mostly unused root.
</font>


That sounds interesting, I'm going to look it up more thoroughly in my Bible Encyclopaedia. Thanks.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I'm curious, how often does "ben" contract into a prefixed "b"? That seems rather confusing since "b" also means "in/with".
</font>


No, this is a regular assimilation of nr to rr, or geminate r, but since Hebrew does not permit geminate r, the vowel is lengthened before it, thus:

ben ra -&gt; ber ra -&gt; be ra
ben rasha' -&gt; ber rasha' -&gt; be r(a)sha'

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Regardless, similar to what Freego said, it was popular in ancient times to "twist" real names into derogatory names for the purposes of the story. I'm sure that if we tried hard enough we could come up with examples of non-fictional works from Egypt, Greece, Rome, and possibly other cultures that contain this kind of thing.
</font>


So you have "Mad Dog" as a nickname, for instance, but you can't expect any real name to be pejorative. I don't think parents would do such a thing. But let's hear an example, if there is one.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I'm not sure that I believe the names are the real names of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrha, however, they might be "twisted" or "slightly altered" to yield these derogatory names. Or, the derogatory names may simply represent the names of these kings which people at the time would have known. It's kind of like when we speak of the enemies as the bad guys or the evil leaders or the despot...

Anyway, there are plenty of explanations that don't lead to the conclusion that they are "fictional stories".

Ish
</font>
A relatively recent goodguy/badguy war was WW2, and you would say Hitler was the bad guy, yet Adolf Hitler isn't a pejorative name by itself. Funny the Bible gives an equivalent of "Mad Dog, the Sheriff of Gulch Creek" instead of the real name of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrha. Then again, the Bible is very much a piece of propaganda, not objective history.
 
Old 04-28-2001, 04:13 PM   #6
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devnet; that is extremely interesting. I think those several chapters of Genesis hold
the key to the Old Testament. I want to, someday, find out more about the five kings against four. Jacob had a master named Laban.
Could Laban and Melchizedek have been the same person. Also, when the sun sets it represents the death of a high priest, I wonder who died? (Gen 15:2) I know that Danascas was local to the Holy Land (within 15 miles of Jerusalem) so I wonder who Elizar
of Damascus was (Lot?). I also know that tthe Jordan river was really the Wady Kidron (as was the Nile river) and that "Ur of the Chaldees" was local to Jerusalem. There is so much information available when you realize these stories of Scripture are repeated stories given a different time frame.

thanks, offa
 
Old 04-28-2001, 06:20 PM   #7
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Or consider people's last names; they are seldom derogatory. Many of them are "son of &lt;&gt;" or occupations or place names. But there is a whole genre of "ornamental" last names; many Eastern European Jews had given themself such last names, names like "flower" and "gold" and "silver" and various gemstones (diamond, ruby, amber, etc.). But usually in Yiddish, which is a German dialect, which explains where the "Blums" and the "Steins" come from.
 
Old 04-28-2001, 07:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by devnet:
Names like "Blue Trout", "Running Bear", yes, but "Wicked Son"?! No parent would do that. And it's just fitting for the kings of Sodom and Gomorrha. Exactly what one would expect from human storytelling.</font>
I realize this may be off topic, but didn't "Running Bear" love "Little White Dove"?

rodahi
 
Old 04-29-2001, 01:18 AM   #9
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Wink

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by rodahi:
[B] I realize this may be off topic, but didn't "Running Bear" love "Little White Dove"?
B]</font>
Yes, why do you ask, Two Dogs F---ing?


[This message has been edited by TheCandle (edited April 29, 2001).]
 
Old 04-29-2001, 05:16 AM   #10
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by offa:
Jacob had a master named Laban.
</font>


Lavan (Laban) in Hebrew means "white" (reminiscent of a name like Schwarzkopf, I'd say), but it would be good to compare with another Semitic language, such as Arabic. Labn in Arabic means "milk, soured milk".

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Could Laban and Melchizedek have been the same person.
</font>


I don't know about Laban and Melchizedek, but Rashi, the greatest commentator of the Torah (10th century CE) says Melchizedek was Shem the son of Noah. I don't know how seriously one can take that comment, since Rahsi also says the Hebrew midwives in Exodus, Shifra and Pua, were actually Miriam the sister of Moses and Jochebed the mother of Moses. Commentators do have flights of fancy. Oh, and I now remember: Laban's name is also found in Akkadian as Labnu (indeed many Biblical names are: Lamech=Lumaku, Jacob=Yakobu, Amarphel=Amurupalu. But Bera and Birsha are not, so scholars think they are pejorative, as I suggested).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I also know that tthe Jordan river was really the Wady Kidron (as was the Nile river) and that "Ur of the Chaldees" was local to Jerusalem. There is so much information available when you realize these stories of Scripture are repeated stories given a different time frame.

thanks, offa
</font>
And the Red Sea in Exodus isn't what we know as the Red Sea at all, but may be Lake Timsah at Suez or Lake Bardawil in the north of Sinai.

[This message has been edited by devnet (edited April 29, 2001).]
 
 

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