A Biblical Treasure Hunt Part 3

April 26, 2010 by  

What are these Blessings? How do the founders of these oil and gas exploration companies, many of them oil and gas professionals with years of industry experience, come to connect Biblical verses with potential petroleum reservoirs located deep underground? Is there any possible connection between the Blessings and the story of Elijah’s sacrifice? With other references appearing in historical texts concerning what may possibly be oil seeps in the area of the Carmel?

In what follows I have tried to collect and present the various Biblical and historical references that I understand have inspired the founders of these petroleum exploration ventures.


THE TRANSLATION: Except where otherwise noted, the translation used is that of The Jerusalem Bible (Koren, Jerusalem, 2000). The Jerusalem Bible is a Bible published with the original Hebrew text and an English translation printed on facing pages. In the words of the editors:

The English Translation is not essentially new: it is rather a thoroughly corrected, modernized and revised version of those Anglo-Jewish Bibles which have long been accepted for home and synagogue use throughout the English-speaking world. As a basis for this edition, the ‘Jewish Family Bible’ of M. Friedlander, published with the sanction of the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, Dr. N. M. Adler in 1881, was selected. That version had two important merits: it was faithful to the MASORA, or received Hebrew text, and it retained as much as Jewish sentiment permitted of the unsurpassed language and rhythm of the ‘Authorized Version’ [King James] of 1611. These advantages have been preserved in the present version.

“In addition to the text of Friedlander, a comparison was made with the interesting nineteenth century Jewish Bible of Isaac Lesser, and with other later translations. As a result many fresh readings have been adopted. The language of the older versions has been modernized where it was felt that the ancient linguistic and grammatical forms would cause difficulty for the present-day reader. Also many points of detail have been corrected in the light of modern scholarship, or as a result of fresh application to the TARGUMIM and the classical Jewish commentators.

For ease of use, proper names do not appear in transliteration from the Hebrew as in The Jerusalem Bible, but in traditional English spelling. Also, rather than using colons followed by small letters to show breaks between sentences as in The Jerusalem Bible which follows the traditional Hebrew punctuation, I follow the modern English tradition using periods followed by capital letters.


1. Jacob’s Deathbed Blessing of Joseph:

Genesis 49: 22-26:

“Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall. The archers fiercely attacked him, and shot at him and hated him; but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made supple by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob (from thence from the shepherd, the Stone of Israel), by the God of thy father who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee, with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that couches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of thy father are potent above the blessings of my progenitors to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills, they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separated from his brothers.”

[Variant Translation: The Jerusalem Bible translation above is based on The King James Version. The Revised Standard Version translates the opening passage of verse 26: “The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the beyond the blessings of the eternal mountains, the bounties of the everlasting hills, ….” This translation is based on the Septuagint, the 3rd Century translation of the Bible into Greek by the Jews of Alexandria. The Septuagint translates the Hebrew “HOREI”, literally “parents”, as “mountains” based on the argument that the root “HOR” in this context can also mean mountain as in “HOR HA’HAR” (Numbers 20:22). The translation of the Septuagint was adopted by the Rashbam (Rabbi Samuel ben Meir), the grandson of the noted Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac (Rashi), who lived in the Rhine Valley in the 12th Century. Olam Ha’Tanakh (Davidson–Eti, Tel-Aviv, 1993) [“Olam Ha’Tanakh”], vol. “Breishit” [Genesis], p. 253.]

2. Moses’ Deathbed Blessing of the Tribes of Joseph (Manasseh and Ephraim):

Deuteronomy 33 : 13-17:

“And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew and for the deep that couches beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of primordial hills, and for the precious things of the earth, and its fullness, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush. Let the blessings come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him who was separated from his brothers.”


Moses’ Deathbed Blessing of the Tribe of Asher

Deuteronomy 33 : 24:

“And of Asher he said, be Asher blessed above sons; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.”


Deuteronomy 32 : 13:

“He made him ride on the high places of the earth, and he ate the produce of the fields; and he made him suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock.


Cartographical Note: There is a dispute among scholars as to whether the southern border of Asher extended down the Mediterranean coast to Caesarea and included the northern parts of Mt. Carmel or it ran along the Kishon Stream which flows along the northeastern flank of Mt. Carmel. In all cases it is generally agreed that the Lands of Manasseh abutted on and lay just to the south of the Lands of Asher.

Geographical Note: In the context of appreciating the geological implications of the map of the northern portions of the Lands of Manasseh, it should be mentioned that running approximately from somewhat east of Caesarea in the West to Megiddo in the East and representing the southern boundary of the Mt. Carmel range is Wadi Ara, the Ara Valley or Nahal I’ron (part of the ancient Via Maris or Way of the Sea that ran between Egypt and Damascus) which, from dipping beds and seismic data, geologists infer to be a major fault feature. A fault the size of Wadi Ara in a tectonically active area, in which the Carmel range and the northern Samarian hills (including the Umm-el-Fahm anticline) are located, is a phenomenon which is of major interest to petroleum geologists and explorationists.

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One Response to “A Biblical Treasure Hunt Part 3”

  1. A Biblical Treasure Hunt Part 4 | Oil in Israel on May 1st, 2010 6:30 pm

    [...] noted in the Cartographical Note to the Map, some biblical scholars are of the opinion that the southern border between the lands of Asher and [...]

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