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Re: [biblicalist] "Pit" in Exodus 21:33-34

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  • jimstinehart@aol.com
    Dr. Yigal Levin: You wrote: “Does anyone have an idea what kind of pit the verses [Exodus 21: 33-34] envision a person having on his property, that would
    Message 1 of 12 , Apr 5, 2011
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      Dr. Yigal Levin:

      You wrote: “Does anyone have an idea what kind of "pit" the verses [Exodus
      21: 33-34] envision a person having on his property, that would have a
      large enough opening for an ox to fall into and be deep enough for the ox to be
      killed?”

      In ancient Canaan, one common method for hunting was to dig a very deep pit
      at the end of a V-shaped row of hedges, cover the pit with branches, and
      then try to drive wild game into the hedges. Some of the wild animals would
      fall into the pit at the end of the V-shaped row of hedges. The pit would be
      so deep that an animal could not get out of it. If an ox fell in to such a
      big game hunting pit by mistake, the ox would likely break one of its legs,
      and so would die or would have to be killed. [Hunting of that type was for
      food for the community, not the selfish big game trophy hunting -- the “
      sport of kings” -- selfishly indulged in by Esau. For example, at
      Luz/Laish/Dan in northern Canaan, wild game likely was hunted on a routine basis in this
      manner in the Late Bronze Age.]

      The word BWR at Exodus 21: 33 more famously occurs five times in quick
      succession in the Patriarchal narratives at Genesis 37: 20, 22, 24, 28, 29, when
      Joseph is thrown into a pit by his older half-brothers. Genesis 37: 24
      says that there was no water in that pit, suggesting that it was normally a
      cistern, used for holding water. But Genesis 37: 22 refers to the pit being in
      the wilderness; that would fit a big game hunting pit, and the wilderness
      would be an unexpected place for there to be an active cistern.

      It’s true that most big game hunting pits would be in the wilderness,
      rather than on private property. But on occasion, a landowner could build a pit
      at the end of his property, where wild game sometimes roamed. The pit would
      be very deep, and would be wide enough for an ox to fall in.

      We know from Rivka Gonen’s work that in the Late Bronze Age, former
      cisterns were sometimes re-used as burial caves. Exodus 21: 33 talks about both “
      opening” a pit and “digging” a pit; that may suggest that sometimes a pit
      was dug for a specific purpose, but at other times a former hole in the
      ground of some sort was opened as a pit for a different, new purpose. A cistern
      would usually be dug out of rock, and normally the opening would not be big
      enough for an ox to fall in. A big game hunting pit, by contrast, would
      normally be dug out of earth, and would be purposefully designed to be big and
      deep enough to hold an ox or other large animal. Thus although cisterns
      were common on private property, and big game hunting pits would have been rare
      on private property, the more likely place for a neighbor’s ox to fall into
      and die would seem to be a big game hunting pit.

      Jim Stinehart
      Evanston, Illinois


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    • funhistory
      ... It wouldn t necessarily need to be deep or wide enough for a large animal to completely fall into. If a weighty animal were to stumble & fall partially
      Message 2 of 12 , Apr 5, 2011
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        > deep enough for the ox to be killed?
        > Yigal

        It wouldn't necessarily need to be deep or wide enough for a large animal to completely fall into. If a weighty animal were to stumble & fall partially into it, it might suffer a serious injury & need to be euthanized.

        G.M. Grena
        www.LMLK.org
      • Christopher Heard
        Dear Jim, ... I don t know much about Bronze Age pits, but I do know the biblical (Genesis) story of Esau intimately, and must object (exegetically) to this
        Message 3 of 12 , Apr 6, 2011
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          Dear Jim,

          On Apr 5, 2011, at 7:26 AM, JimStinehart@... wrote:
          > [Hunting of that type was for
          > food for the community, not the selfish big game trophy hunting -- the �
          > sport of kings� -- selfishly indulged in by Esau.
          >
          I don't know much about Bronze Age pits, but I do know the biblical (Genesis) story of Esau intimately, and must object (exegetically) to this characterization. On the precisely two occasions when the narrator(s) of Genesis link(s) Esau with hunting, his motive is explicitly identified as getting "food for the community"�specifically, his father.

          Genesis 25:27�28 (NRSV) When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter � Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game �

          Genesis 27:1�3 (NRSV) When Isaac was old and his were dim so that he could not see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him � "See, I am old, and I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me. Then prepare me savory food, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you before I die." � (Cf. v. 7, where Rebekah reports this conversation to Jacob, and vv. 30�31, which report Esau's return and cooking.)

          The picture of Esau as a "big game trophy hunter" is pure imagination, finding no justification at all in the text of Genesis�the only source of data about Esau's hunting activities (whether you regard Esau as a purely literary character or as an historical figure). No other biblical mention of Esau�not even the scene in which Esau sells his birthright to Jacob�mentions hunting. (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan does make him out to be a "hunter of men" in its fanciful paraphrase of Genesis 25:27.) When describing biblical characters, we should work with the actual data rather than making moral judgments ("selfish � selfishly indulged in") based on stuff we made up.

          Chris
          --
          Christopher Heard
          Associate Professor of Religion
          Pepperdine University
          Malibu, CA 90263-4352
          http://drchris.me



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • George F Somsel
          I had subliminally noted the reference to Esau, but mentally substituted Nimrod though even there I thought it was going somewhat beyond the evidence to
          Message 4 of 12 , Apr 6, 2011
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            I had subliminally noted the reference to Esau, but mentally substituted Nimrod
            though even there I thought it was going somewhat beyond the evidence to
            characterize him as one who hunted for pleasure yet not without some basis.

             george
            gfsomsel


            … search for truth, hear truth,
            learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth,
            defend the truth till death.


            - Jan Hus
            _________




            ________________________________
            From: Christopher Heard <christopher.heard@...>
            To: "biblicalist@yahoogroups.com" <biblicalist@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Wed, April 6, 2011 8:40:41 AM
            Subject: Re: [biblicalist] "Pit" in Exodus 21:33-34

            Dear Jim,

            On Apr 5, 2011, at 7:26 AM, JimStinehart@... wrote:
            > [Hunting of that type was for
            > food for the community, not the selfish big game trophy hunting -- the “
            > sport of kings” -- selfishly indulged in by Esau.
            >
            I don't know much about Bronze Age pits, but I do know the biblical (Genesis)
            story of Esau intimately, and must object (exegetically) to this
            characterization. On the precisely two occasions when the narrator(s) of Genesis
            link(s) Esau with hunting, his motive is explicitly identified as getting "food
            for the community"—specifically, his father.

            Genesis 25:27–28 (NRSV) When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter …
            Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game …

            Genesis 27:1–3 (NRSV) When Isaac was old and his were dim so that he could not
            see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him … "See, I am old, and I do not
            know the day of my death. Now then, take your quiver and your bow, and go out to
            the field, and hunt game for me. Then prepare me savory food, such as I like,
            and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you before I die." … (Cf. v. 7,
            where Rebekah reports this conversation to Jacob, and vv. 30–31, which report
            Esau's return and cooking.)

            The picture of Esau as a "big game trophy hunter" is pure imagination, finding
            no justification at all in the text of Genesis—the only source of data about
            Esau's hunting activities (whether you regard Esau as a purely literary
            character or as an historical figure). No other biblical mention of Esau—not
            even the scene in which Esau sells his birthright to Jacob—mentions hunting.
            (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan does make him out to be a "hunter of men" in its
            fanciful paraphrase of Genesis 25:27.) When describing biblical characters, we
            should work with the actual data rather than making moral judgments ("selfish …
            selfishly indulged in") based on stuff we made up.

            Chris
            --
            Christopher Heard
            Associate Professor of Religion
            Pepperdine University
            Malibu, CA 90263-4352
            http://drchris.me



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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          • Christopher Heard
            Dear George et al., ... Ancedotal evidence suggests that, in the American south at least, the number of bird dogs named Nimrod greatly exceeds the number of
            Message 5 of 12 , Apr 6, 2011
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              Dear George et al.,

              On Apr 6, 2011, at 9:10 AM, George F Somsel wrote:
              > I had subliminally noted the reference to Esau, but mentally substituted Nimrod
              > though even there I thought it was going somewhat beyond the evidence to
              > characterize him as one who hunted for pleasure yet not without some basis.
              >

              Ancedotal evidence suggests that, in the American south at least, the number of bird dogs named "Nimrod" greatly exceeds the number of bird dogs named "Esau." But I think I've gone off-topic.

              Chris
              --
              Christopher Heard
              Associate Professor of Religion
              Pepperdine University
              Malibu, CA 90263-4352
              http://drchris.me



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • George F Somsel
              As I said, I SUBLIMINALLY noted the reference to Esau but substituted Nimrod.  I nevertheless felt a certain dis-ease regarding the reference.  Your post
              Message 6 of 12 , Apr 6, 2011
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                As I said, I SUBLIMINALLY noted the reference to Esau but substituted Nimrod.  I
                nevertheless felt a certain dis-ease regarding the reference.  Your post caused
                me to recognize why I was uncomfortable with the reference.

                 george
                gfsomsel


                … search for truth, hear truth,
                learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth,
                defend the truth till death.


                - Jan Hus
                _________




                ________________________________
                From: Christopher Heard <christopher.heard@...>
                To: "biblicalist@yahoogroups.com" <biblicalist@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Wed, April 6, 2011 9:36:45 AM
                Subject: Re: [biblicalist] "Pit" in Exodus 21:33-34

                 
                Dear George et al.,

                On Apr 6, 2011, at 9:10 AM, George F Somsel wrote:
                > I had subliminally noted the reference to Esau, but mentally substituted Nimrod
                >
                > though even there I thought it was going somewhat beyond the evidence to
                > characterize him as one who hunted for pleasure yet not without some basis.
                >

                Ancedotal evidence suggests that, in the American south at least, the number of
                bird dogs named "Nimrod" greatly exceeds the number of bird dogs named "Esau."
                But I think I've gone off-topic.

                Chris
                --
                Christopher Heard
                Associate Professor of Religion
                Pepperdine University
                Malibu, CA 90263-4352
                http://drchris.me

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Christopher Heard
                Dear George, ... I understood that, George. I was trying to be funny with my comment about the bird dogs. I seem to have failed. This is why I do not make my
                Message 7 of 12 , Apr 6, 2011
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                  Dear George,

                  On Apr 6, 2011, at 9:48 AM, George F Somsel wrote:
                  > As I said, I SUBLIMINALLY noted the reference to Esau but substituted Nimrod. I
                  > nevertheless felt a certain dis-ease regarding the reference. Your post caused
                  > me to recognize why I was uncomfortable with the reference.
                  >
                  I understood that, George. I was trying to be funny with my comment about the bird dogs. I seem to have failed. This is why I do not make my living as a stand-up comedian.

                  To bring this reply almost on-topic, my current research concerns the reception history of Genesis, about as broadly conceived as possible. During the course of that investigation, I've listened to various performance of Sir Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations #9, "Nimrod," about a bazillion times. I simply don't "hear" Nimrod in the music. It's so stately and serene, full of "gravitas"�I don't hear hunting and battle, which is what I generally associate with Nimrod. Any biblicalisters got an idea what I'm missing, or what I'm doing wrong? Should I be thinking more about "kingship"? (I admit to having an unskilled ear and not much training in "reading" classical music. Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan I "get.")

                  Chris
                  --
                  Christopher Heard
                  Associate Professor of Religion
                  Pepperdine University
                  Malibu, CA 90263-4352
                  http://drchris.me



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • George F Somsel
                  The Enigma Variations of Elgar were impressions of Elgar s friends and a dog.  Nimrod was the dog.  I wouldn t attempt to associate the Nimrod of the Enigma
                  Message 8 of 12 , Apr 6, 2011
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                    The Enigma Variations of Elgar were impressions of Elgar's friends and a dog. 
                    Nimrod was the dog.  I wouldn't attempt to associate the Nimrod of the Enigma
                    Variations with the biblical Nimrod.

                     george
                    gfsomsel


                    … search for truth, hear truth,
                    learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth,
                    defend the truth till death.


                    - Jan Hus
                    _________




                    ________________________________
                    From: Christopher Heard <christopher.heard@...>
                    To: "biblicalist@yahoogroups.com" <biblicalist@yahoogroups.com>
                    Sent: Wed, April 6, 2011 10:04:16 AM
                    Subject: [biblicalist] Pulling Nimrod out of the pit

                    Dear George,

                    On Apr 6, 2011, at 9:48 AM, George F Somsel wrote:
                    > As I said, I SUBLIMINALLY noted the reference to Esau but substituted Nimrod. 
                    >I
                    >
                    > nevertheless felt a certain dis-ease regarding the reference.  Your post caused
                    >
                    > me to recognize why I was uncomfortable with the reference.
                    >
                    I understood that, George. I was trying to be funny with my comment about the
                    bird dogs. I seem to have failed. This is why I do not make my living as a
                    stand-up comedian.

                    To bring this reply almost on-topic, my current research concerns the reception
                    history of Genesis, about as broadly conceived as possible. During the course of
                    that investigation, I've listened to various performance of Sir Edward Elgar's
                    Enigma Variations #9, "Nimrod," about a bazillion times. I simply don't "hear"
                    Nimrod in the music. It's so stately and serene, full of "gravitas"—I don't hear
                    hunting and battle, which is what I generally associate with Nimrod. Any
                    biblicalisters got an idea what I'm missing, or what I'm doing wrong? Should I
                    be thinking more about "kingship"? (I admit to having an unskilled ear and not
                    much training in "reading" classical music. Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan I "get.")

                    Chris
                    --
                    Christopher Heard
                    Associate Professor of Religion
                    Pepperdine University
                    Malibu, CA 90263-4352
                    http://drchris.me



                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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                    Yahoo! Groups Links



                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Revd. Stephen Williams
                    Dear Christopher, As a keen Elgarian, brought up just a few hundred yards from where Elgar lived here in the UK, can I say I honestly don t think you are meant
                    Message 9 of 12 , Apr 6, 2011
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                      Dear Christopher,
                      As a keen Elgarian, brought up just a few hundred yards from where Elgar
                      lived here in the UK, can I say I honestly don't think you are meant to hear
                      either hunting or battle in the Enigma variation Elgar titled 'Nimrod'. It
                      was not a tone poem in that sense. Rather, each of the Variations was
                      intended to capture the character of one of several of the friends of Elgar
                      and his wife Alice.

                      Variation 9 was no exception. The sounds you hear are meant to capture the
                      essence of someone Elgar had huge respect for, whose noble character Elgar
                      wanted to enshrine in tribute. It was titled 'Nimrod' because of a
                      literary pun. Elgar's main publisher was Novello, and they appointed a young
                      man of German extraction, Augustus Jaeger to be the music editor and agent
                      who had to liaise on a day-to-day basis with one of their premier composers.

                      Elgar loved puns and 'japes' - practical jokes. He was also a man of typical
                      Victorian understatement. It was not done to give a piece of music a literal
                      title. So, rather than prosaically give the variation the title of his
                      "go-between", however indebted he felt to him, instead, he punned on the
                      meaning of Augustus' surname in German - Jäger meaning hunter - and showed
                      his wide knowledge of the Scriptures by using the cryptic name Nimrod, whom
                      he expected those who thought about it to be intelligent and wide-read
                      enough to solve the puzzle by remembering the Biblical character was 'a
                      mighty HUNTER before the Lord'.

                      I hope this helps, and counters the mis-information of another of our
                      biblicalist circle who has just chipped in with a quick answer, and whose
                      theological expertise is surely better than his musical memory!

                      Stephen.
                      (One of the Anglican clergy who follows these threads, and a member of the
                      Elgar Society).

                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: "Christopher Heard" <christopher.heard@...>
                      To: <biblicalist@yahoogroups.com>
                      Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2011 6:04 PM
                      Subject: [biblicalist] Pulling Nimrod out of the pit


                      Dear George,

                      On Apr 6, 2011, at 9:48 AM, George F Somsel wrote:
                      > As I said, I SUBLIMINALLY noted the reference to Esau but substituted
                      > Nimrod. I
                      > nevertheless felt a certain dis-ease regarding the reference. Your post
                      > caused
                      > me to recognize why I was uncomfortable with the reference.
                      >
                      I understood that, George. I was trying to be funny with my comment about
                      the bird dogs. I seem to have failed. This is why I do not make my living as
                      a stand-up comedian.

                      To bring this reply almost on-topic, my current research concerns the
                      reception history of Genesis, about as broadly conceived as possible. During
                      the course of that investigation, I've listened to various performance of
                      Sir Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations #9, "Nimrod," about a bazillion times.
                      I simply don't "hear" Nimrod in the music. It's so stately and serene, full
                      of "gravitas"-I don't hear hunting and battle, which is what I generally
                      associate with Nimrod. Any biblicalisters got an idea what I'm missing, or
                      what I'm doing wrong? Should I be thinking more about "kingship"? (I admit
                      to having an unskilled ear and not much training in "reading" classical
                      music. Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan I "get.")

                      Chris
                      --
                      Christopher Heard
                      Associate Professor of Religion
                      Pepperdine University
                      Malibu, CA 90263-4352
                      http://drchris.me



                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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                    • Christopher Heard
                      Dear Stephen, Thank you for your very enlightening response regarding Elgar. This is one of the occupational hazards of doing reception history or the
                      Message 10 of 12 , Apr 6, 2011
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                        Dear Stephen,

                        Thank you for your very enlightening response regarding Elgar.

                        This is one of the occupational hazards of doing "reception history" or the "history of influence" (Wirkungsgeschichte): I end up playing in other people's sandboxes, where you know relatively little. One is almost forced into dilettantism when one's assignment is as broad as "the use, influence, and impact of Genesis 1-21 in/on Western culture." One also finds oneself overwhelmed and tending to withdraw from one's online communities as one reads far and wide on these subjects. :-)

                        Chris
                        --
                        Christopher Heard
                        Associate Professor of Religion
                        Pepperdine University
                        Malibu, CA 90263-4352
                        http://drchris.me



                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Revd. Stephen Williams
                        Dear Chris, De nada! Very kind of you to reply. Stephen. PS. Dr Percy Young, in his Elgar O.M. , p.281 tells that Elgar had had a long summer evening talk
                        Message 11 of 12 , Apr 7, 2011
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                          Dear Chris,
                          De nada!
                          Very kind of you to reply.
                          Stephen.
                          PS. Dr Percy Young, in his Elgar O.M. , p.281 tells that Elgar had had 'a long summer evening talk' with his dear friend, valued advisor, and sternest critic, Jaeger, where Jaeger had spoken eloquently on the slow movements of Beethoven. As a result, Elgar explained, "It will be noticed that the opening bars are made to suggest the slow movement of the Eighth Sonata (the Pathétique)."

                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: Christopher Heard
                          To: biblicalist@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2011 7:53 AM
                          Subject: Re: [biblicalist] Pulling Nimrod out of the pit



                          Dear Stephen,

                          Thank you for your very enlightening response regarding Elgar.

                          This is one of the occupational hazards of doing "reception history" or the "history of influence" (Wirkungsgeschichte): I end up playing in other people's sandboxes, where you know relatively little. One is almost forced into dilettantism when one's assignment is as broad as "the use, influence, and impact of Genesis 1-21 in/on Western culture." One also finds oneself overwhelmed and tending to withdraw from one's online communities as one reads far and wide on these subjects. :-)

                          Chris
                          --
                          Christopher Heard
                          Associate Professor of Religion
                          Pepperdine University
                          Malibu, CA 90263-4352
                          http://drchris.me

                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





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