Re: ABH Re: Matriarch Qualifications
- It is fascinating to compare (i) the adoption marriage contracts at Nuzi,
of which we have over 40 examples, (ii) the marriages to Hurrian women of
Abraham, Isaac and Esau, which seem to follow a similar pattern, and (iii) the
marriage patterns that developed for the Hurrians generally in the last 150
years of their existence as an important people: the 15th century BCE and
the first half of the 14th century BCE.
One key aspect of the adoption/marriage arrangement that was popular at
Nuzi is that it relieved the bride’s father from the burden of providing a
dowry. If a Hurrian family of fairly modest means felt that its entire
inheritance needed to go to their son, and they could not afford to reduce the son’s
inheritance by providing a substantial dowry for their daughter, the
adoption/marriage arrangement solved that problem completely. If the groom’s
family either did not need, or did not demand, a dowry, then the
adoption/marriage approach was fine for the groom’s family as well, and indeed the bride’s
price that was thereby avoided was larger than the modest adoption fee the
groom’s father paid.
Thus at Nuzi, where Hurrian families perhaps were gradually being reduced
to providing primarily only for their eldest son, the adoption/marriage
contract was a nice way to provide for daughters to marry, while providing no
dowry at all. As to younger sons, one reason why so many Hurrian noblemen
flooded into Canaan just prior to Amarna and during Amarna, with Hurrian
princelings suddenly dominating the ruling class of Canaan for this one short
period of time, must have been that their fathers back home in eastern Syria did
not have enough wealth to provide for all their sons. The terrible droughts
that adversely affected Canaan likely were mild droughts throughout Syria
in the 15th and 14th centuries BCE, making the country of Syria poorer as a
whole, and putting additional stress on Hurrian families. Perhaps the double
share for the eldest son custom came into vogue in precisely this time
period, as Hurrian families were desperately trying to provide a decent estate
for the eldest son, even if their other children had to be shorted.
(Although we have much Late Bronze Age documentation from the province of Nuzi on
the eastern edge of Naharim/Mitanni, we have little documentation for the
Hurrians otherwise, either elsewhere geographically or in prior time periods.
So of necessity the analysis here is in part speculative.)
It may well have been that these dowry-less marriage customs arose in the
hard times of the Late Bronze Age. Syrian farming was going downhill, and
the Hurrians began losing most of the big battles they fought: first to the
Egyptians in the 15th century BCE, especially pharaoh Thutmose III, and then
later disastrously to the Hittites in the Great Syrian War in the mid-14th
century BCE. With no battle loot to divide up, and with farming not being as
good as before due to semi-drought conditions, life was becoming difficult
for Hurrian families in Naharim. (The Hurrians may not have been very good
at herding sheep and goats, a lifestyle that works better than most others
in semi-drought conditions. Note the easy assumption that Jacob from Canaan
was far better at tending sheep and goats than either Laban or Laban’s sons
or anyone Laban had previously hired in that capacity. Hurrians were great
at riding chariots, but tent-dwellers from Canaan were much better than
Hurrians at tending flocks of sheep and goats.)
One begins to suspect that one way in which Hurrian charioteers avoided
having their estates diluted was to provide for their daughters to be married
without providing any dowry. A non-Hurrian might desire a Hurrian bride
because of the reputation of Hurrian women for great beauty and being high
class. If the non-Hurrian groom’s family was willing to receive no dowry at all,
then the adoption/marriage approach would suit both families’ needs
Sarah’s parents and Bethuel provided no dowry at all, and Laban didn’t
volunteer any dowry for his daughters Leah and Rachel. Although we are not
told as many details about Esau’s marriages to Hurrian women, one strongly
suspects that Isaac technically adopted both Hurrian women as his adopted
daughters, since Terah and Abraham had proceeded in that fashion. If so, then Esau
’s Hurrian wives brought no dowry whatsoever to the Hebrews. We begin to
understand why Hurrian families were willing to allow their daughters to
marry non-Hurrians: if the adoption/marriage approach were used, then there
would be no dowry whatsoever for the Hurrian family to pay.
However, Isaac definitely did not adopt Laban’s daughters Leah and Rachel.
That is why Leah and Rachel bitterly complain that their father has
provided them no dowry, even though their husband Jacob (not Isaac) in effect paid
a high bride’s-price: working 14 years for Laban.
Yet everyone has missed the other implied meaning of the complaint by Leah
and Rachel that their father did not volunteer any dowry. Leah and Rachel
are in effect reminding Jacob that the share of their father’s flock that
Jacob is taking to Canaan (without Laban’s approval) is actually in large part
t-h-e-i-r property, being their (forced) dowry, as it were. Yes, Jacob
controls that property, but that property is actually owned by Leah and
Rachel. The otherwise inexplicable complaint by Leah and Rachel at Genesis 31:
14-16 now makes complete sense. Since Isaac had not adopted Leah and Rachel,
that meant that their father, Laban, should provide them with a fine dowry.
Especially since Jacob’s bride’s-price was so valuable, having increased
the flock greatly by his excellent shepherding skills, Laban should have
given his daughters a fine dowry. But Laban never voluntarily offers a penny of
dowry. Laban had driven an overly-hard bargain in making Jacob work 14
years as the bride’s-price, and then he compounded the insult by not offering
anything as a dowry for his daughters. Laban agrees that Jacob can earn a
share of the flock, but that is based on Jacob’s work, not on Laban providing
his daughters with a dowry.
Although it’s a bit ambiguous, Genesis 31: 43 can be read as Laban in
effect agreeing, given the lack of any other viable alternatives, that the
portion of the flock Jacob has taken to Canaan will now be considered the dowry
that Laban should have provided in any event to his daughters Leah and Rachel.
Note in particular that Laban seems to imply that the flock now belongs to
Leah and Rachel, rather than being owned outright by Jacob:
“And Laban answered and said unto Jacob, [These] daughters [are] my
daughters, and [these] children [are] my children, and [these] cattle [are] my
cattle, and all that thou seest [is] mine: and what can I do this day unto these
my daughters, or unto their children which they have born?”
The only thing Laban can do for his daughters at that point was to agree
that the sheep and goats that Jacob had taken to Canaan would henceforth be
considered the dowry that Laban was obligated to provide for his daughters
Leah and Rachel.
What’s notable about all these marriages is that n-e-v-e-r is a
traditional dowry provided. Bethuel (and his wife and their son Laban) provide no
dowry whatsoever for Rebekah. It is implied, though we don’t know for sure,
that Sarah’s Hurrian father provided no dowry, and that neither of the
Hurrian fathers of Esau’s first two wives provided a dowry. One reason for that
implication is that Isaac treats his own marriage to Rebekah as “normal”,
where there clearly was no dowry; that implies that Isaac’s father and Isaac’
s son Esau also operate without dowries provided by their Hurrian in-laws.
Laban should have provided a fine dowry, but he doesn’t, until Jacob and
Leah and Rachel take matters into their own hands. Ironically, Jacob in
effect ends up with a stupendous dowry from miserly Laban: a magnificent, large
flock of sheep and goats that originated with Laban’s own poor flock years
earlier. When Laban says “these cattle are my cattle,…what can I do this
day unto these my daughters”, that appears to mean that Laban is reluctantly,
on a fait accomplit basis, agreeing that the sheep and goats Jacob took to
Canaan will now be considered Laban’s dowry for Leah and Rachel.
Like the dog that doesn’t bark, the dowries that are not provided are one
key to understanding the Patriarchal narratives in general, and the early
Hebrews’ marriages to Hurrians in particular.
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- Tin is required to be added to copper to make (superior) bronze, and move to a superior weaponry, and bump up to the Bronze Age. Copper was not the problem, the search for rare tin caused wars, because bronze weapons usually prevailed. In any case trade and economic superiority depended on "control" which usually went to the secretive marine traders. The Sea Peoples (of unknown ethnicity) knew the seas and the sources of the valued comodities and thus dominated without needing land based armies.Sincerely, Aris M. Hobeth
--- On Sat, 6/16/12, Holly <gmrf@...> wrote:
From: Holly <gmrf@...>
Subject: ABH Re: Midian/Atika/Aykati
Date: Saturday, June 16, 2012, 9:09 PM
The area described in the Harris Papyrus is Timna. Read the content. It is a copper producing region. The ore was copious enough to require ships to transport it. These ships were loaded at Ezion Geber. From there the ore was transported around the Sinai to Egypt. The mountain range you describe is devoid of mineral deposits and is located in a desert region west of the Red Sea. No ship would be required to transport ore or anything else from this region.
--- In AncientBibleHistory@yahoogroups.com, "Jon Smyth" <jon442@...> wrote:
> Hi Holly.
> The land of Atika/Ataka was mapped out by Naville, it is a mountain range just west of Suez.
> I suspect the erroneous association with Timna is due to biblical archaeologists.
> Regards, Jon S.
> --- In AncientBibleHistory@yahoogroups.com, "Holly" <gmrf@> wrote:
> > I sent my emissaries to the land of Atika, [ie: Timna] to the great copper mines which are there. Their ships carried them along and others went overland on their donkeys. It had not been heard of since the (time of any earlier) king. Their mines were found and (they) yielded copper which was loaded by tens of thousands into their ships, they being sent in their care to Egypt, and arriving safely." (P. Harris I, 78, 1-4)
> > end quote
> > The 'k' and the 't' have been transposed in the Arabic word 'Aykati' but it is the same place. Further Egyptian records mention the Shasu as the inhabitants of the region:
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