Time Travel in Genesis

June 4, 2008

Somewhat keyed off of Cam’s observations with Joe in Chronicles, I thought I’d throw in something I noticed in Genesis.

The text is Genesis 14:14.  The context is the beginning of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:1-9), Abraham’s apparent disobedient journey into Egypt (Gen. 12:10-20, note God’s silence, and Ishmael’s Egyptian mother Hagar), his seperation from Lot (Gen 13), Lot’s capture, Abraham’s intervention and the defeat of his enemies, including the incident with Melchizedek (Gen 14).

In the middle of this last event, the author and/or compiler of the Torah throws in a reference that is totally out of place.  As Abraham is beginning his pursuit of Lot and his captors, Genesis 14:14 says this:

“When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he mobilized his 318 trained men who had been orn in his household, and he pursued hte invaders as far as Dan.”

On the face of it, there is not too much that appears out of place about this description, except for the mention of Dan, which has no place in the text.  Dan the person is still two generations from birth (Gen. 30).  Dan the tribe is still many years from being established to a significant level (Exodus).  And finally, Dan in its northern location has yet many hundreds of years in the coming (they were originally allotted land in the southeast, but eventually moved to the north because they couldn’t take the land; Josh 19:40-48; Judges 18:27-29).

So what in the world is the author of Genesis doing with the insertion of such an apparent anachronistic reference in th emiddle os his story?