Sunday, March 6, 2011

Narrow Neck of Land and the Fallacy of Mesoamerica’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec - Part IV

Continuing with meaning and intent of the scriptures regarding Hebrew words, one Mesoamerican theorists wrote: “The Lord said to Joshua, "…unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast." (Joshua 1:4) It makes sense in the land of Israel to equate seaward with "westward" (Genesis 13:14).”

Perhaps one might want to look at the scriptures quoted above. First of all, ancient societies did not think, write, or speak in the same manner as we do today. In describing distances, or in this case, land boundaries, we often see phrases that relate to known factors, that is, rivers, mountains, divides, valleys, oceans, lakes, etc. The Lord, in speaking to Joshua, said, “Therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel” (Joshua 1:2). The Lord goes on to describe the boundaries of this land by saying, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you” (Joshua 1:3).

At this point, then, the Lord lays out the boundaries of the land that has been promised to the children of Israel (this area is about the same as that which anthropologists claim was covered by the Natufian and the earlier Kabaran cultures). “From the wilderness and this Lebanon” which is a mountain range in north Canaan, the word meaning “white,” therefore the “White Mountains” are the northern boundary, “even unto the great river, the river Euphrates” which included all the land of the Hittites, “and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast” (Joshua 1:4).

The coast from Lebanon southward was the landmark to which the Lord referred. Obviously, he was not referring to the entire coastal region of the Mediterranean. So to single out this part of the coast from that in the north (Syria) or south (Sinai and Egypt), the Lord describes it as that part where, to one in Israel, the sun would set. This does not mean the words “going down of the sun” referred to the word west, though the terms obviously overlap, but that coast from the Lebanon Mountains southward to the Sinai. North of there the boundary cut inland toward the Euphrates

Today, in English, we could say the pioneers left on their trek from Far West to where the sun goes down upon the far mountains. This language, often described as metaphors or colorful or figurative language, is not used in the western world as it was in the eastern world. We would merely say the pioneers traveled to the mountains in the west, or the West Mountains. But if we did say to where the sun goes down on the far mountains, we would not be confusing the language of sun going down with the word west—though both would overlap in their meaning.

Now as to the Genesis quote, “And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward” which obviously says nothing about seaward with westward. Lot had “chosen all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east” (Genesis 13:11) and Abram (Abraham) “dwelt in the land of Canaan” (Genesis 13:12).

At this time, the land of Canaan was a region encompassing modern-day Israel, Lebanon and adjoining coastal lands, including parts of Jordan, Syria and northeastern Egypt. Where exactly Abram stood when the Lord told him to look around is unknown, but we are talking about an area some 80 miles wide and 240 miles long. It is not likely that wherever Abram stood, he could see the Mediterranean Sea. Consequently, for him to look westward had no connotation with the word sea, but only the land around him.

The following verse makes this quite clear: “For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever” (Genesis 13:15) and later, “Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee” (Genesis 13:17). This, then, suggests land—land as far as Abram could see, and walk through the width and breadth of it.

Following this, Abram took his tent and “came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron” (Genesis 13:18). Hebron is twenty miles west of the Dead Sea, about halfway between Jericho and Beersheba, and south of Bethlehem, and is pretty much in the middle of the vast arid land of Judea, about thirty miles from the Mediterranean Sea.

Far too often, Mesoamerican and Great Lake theorists, in their rush to prove their models, misquote scripture without taking the time to understand what the scripture actually meant.

(See the next post, “Narrow Neck of Land and the Fallacy of Mesoamerica’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec - Part V,” to continue the understanding of the Hebrew words used by Mesoamerican theorists to defend their model)

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