Saturday, March 04, 2006

Acting in Self Defense

It is common sense that when acting in self-defense, one is justified to commit some major violations of other people's rights. In fact, if your very life is being threatened, I think most people will agree that you are entitled to kill another human, if that's what it takes to remove the threat. The question therefore is, where do we draw the line? Are we to carry a pistol and shoot to death anyone who annoys us, however minutely? Or, are we to sit idly by and do nothing while our rights, financial entitlements and sometimes our lives are being threatened, because the law says that we're not supposed to be violent?

Before I proceed, let me make it clear that the law is meaningless when it comes to these matters. Common law is vital for a successful society to exist and someone who has no regard for the law of the land will invariably not be able to survive. But does the law always act in our best interest?

My car was once parked on a Brooklyn street some two years ago on a street-cleaning day and I got a ticket, as occurred countless times prior. But there was one major thing different that day. There was no sign on that entire block posting the street cleaning rules (SCR). The ticket wasn't that much and perhaps it would have been easier for me to pay it off rather than bother fighting it but being as I am -an extremely principled person- I decided to fight it. I took several high-res 8x10 pictures of the ENTIRE block from various angles and I presented them to the judge. Those pictures clearly showed that there was no SCR sign. Yet the judge denied my appeal claiming that the pictures were inadequate.

I was playing 10-20 Holdem in Play Station once and I posted my big blind while a gypsy asshole to my left was raking in the pot. He raked my $10 big blind in together with his pot. When I tried to get my money back, he wouldn't hear it. He was insistent that it was his money and that I never posted the blind. The floorperson ultimately sided with him and I had to post again.

These are just two among many examples where I was clearly wronged. In these two cases, there wasn't much I could do to make things right and so I swallowed the bullet and moved on with life. But the real question here is: am I "supposed" to put up with these just because there is no way I can legally fight them? If there was a way to reverse these wrongs, how far am I justified to go in doing so? The answer might surprise you!

When it comes to personal decisions, "common law" is irrelevant. What matters is how to serve your best interests while imposing the minimal injury or damage upon others. And the reason we try to avoid injuring others if possible is simply because it is not economical to do so. Each and every person on this planet serves and important role in the overall welfare of the global civilization. Evolution has worked extremely hard over Billions of years to create this marvelous creature we call "human" and it is therefore imprudent to "do away" with any human we dislike. In other words: it might be in our own best long-term interest to let the gypsy asshole and the unscrupulous judge --and other people like these-- live. Even if they don't serve my immediate best interest, they might do so in the future or they might be important to people who are important to me, thus indirectly acting out a constructive role in my life. It is also important to note that people are naturally kind and cooperative. If and when they act in a hostile manner it is usually due to a perceived threat. Thus even though the gypsy thief and the inept judge are hurting me, they are not doing so in premeditated, deliberate manner. In other words, they are not going out of their way to rob me or pervert justice. In other aspects of their lives --I am sure-- they serve some very useful roles. They might have loving wives, good children, productive jobs etc... Yet, even these guys only narrowly escape the death sentence if I had to judge and act according to my "personal law" (which is admittedly non-binding).

People who Deserve the Death Sentence

Do not be afraid to mete out the death penalty to your enemies! Remember that the nurse who saved Hitler's life when he was a baby was acting "mercifully" while in fact creating the biggest monster the world had ever seen. That act was not mercy; it was an act of hatred. Mercy would have been to take the baby and smother him to death, thus saving the lives of tens of millions of innocents.

People who continuously engage in behavior that is detrimental to the average person, do not have the license to live. With their "license to live" revoked, they are walking targets and may theoretically be shot to death at the hands of any person suffering under their wicked actions. It's really a question of weighing the person's pros and cons. If he is engaged in too much negative behavior and not enough positive behavior (not just towards you), then they have no right to live.

One example that easily comes to mind are traffic cops. These people often do nothing other than lurking on the side of the road waiting to pounce upon a speeding motorist. They do this on the first of the month, on the 15th and on the 30th, in the morning, afternoon and evening; that's all they ever do. If you get caught speeding or committing any traffic infraction, it does not matter how lenient the circumstances are or whether the intent of the law was for such a particular act to be illegal, they WILL give you a hefty summons (between $180 and $300 on the Garden State Parkway, NJ), no questions asked and no pleas for forgiveness accepted.

Are they providing any benefit to the common people? Absolutely not! Speeding is not the cause of accidents or any other harm to other people (and neither is not wearing a seat belt). These cops are essentially trying to raise money for the local town by unjustly accusing speeding motorists of committing a violation of the common good. There is, in fact, no violation of the common good in speeding; there is just one thing: municipalities and their cop agents lining their pockets by robbing innocent people at gunpoint; that's essentially what it is since if you don't pay the ticket you get your driver's license and registration revoked.

This case is more severe --in my opinion-- than the previous two cases even though these cops seem extremely innocent and are supposedly acting within the framework of the law. The key incriminating factor here is that they do nothing else and they make a deliberate attempt to inflict harm on many innocent people. It's one thing if they helped some people and hurt others or if they stopped drivers who were really out of control. As it is, however, circumstances are irrelevant to them. Their mission is to "trap" speeding motorists by a fluke of the law. If you have a loaded gun in your car when you get pulled over and know that you could avoid State "retribution" for your justified cop murder in self-defense, then the correct thing for you to do is shoot him right in the head and take off. If enough people will do this, then these bandits will eventually learn to leave motorists alone. Palestinians fought Israelis for years and the Israelis finally realized that the best thing is "disengagement"; just leave your enemy alone. Hopefully, those criminal cops will disengage as well.

Some of the other outrageous tickets I received are listed below:

I was waiting in line for a toll booth at the Verrezano Bridge. The car in front of me was stopped at the booth and was not moving for a prolonged time. I noticed this from afar and so I hesitated while approaching him from behind, so as to be able to switch to another lane if he is indeed "stuck" or there is some other problem. The cop pulled me aside and cited me for "obstruction of traffic".

On Feb 12 2006 on a Saturday night while returning to Brigantine, NJ from Brooklyn, NY on a snowy and slippery night, I skidded on the GSP, I mistakenly braked in panic, spun out of control, slammed into a tree and totaled my car. Instead of sympathizing with my plight, the cop cited me for "careless driving" (a 4-point violation) and never asked if I was okay or offered me the warmth of his vehicle while I was waiting for the tow truck (40 minutes) in my cold shattered-rear-window car.

These are the kind of cops who deserve the death penalty, albeit it is unenforceable!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Feb 22 2006

In this document I will discuss passages in the Hebrew Bible where I believe the Masoretes mis-punctuated the text or there is a copyist error. This is commonly called "lower criticism". Masorete errors include:
  • wrong end of verse
  • wrong end of chapter
  • wrong vowels
  • wrong spelling - a waw is commonly confused with a yod and a daleth with a resh

Copyist errors are more difficult to identify and they usually involve mis-spelled words. I will also make note of all instances where I believe that a prefixed waw is an explanatory waw and not an appending waw. In other words, the "waw" indicates that the following verse is an explanation and elaboration of the previous phrase, NOT an addition to it.

When I want to eliminate or change a word, I will enclose it in parenthesis and the correct word will be placed in boxed parenthesis.

Article 1:
פרשת בראשית א בְּרֵאשִׁית (בָּרָא) בְּרֹא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ (: ב) וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחשֶׁךְ עַל-פְּנֵי תְהוֹם וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים מְרַחֶפֶת עַל-פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם:

This is the first verse in the Bible and it is so unfortunate that it has been misinterpreted by most scholars. The second word in the first verse could be pronounced "bara" and be a verb "created" and it could also be pronounced "beroh" (according to masoretic pronunciation) and be a noun "creation". The Masoretes mistakenly decided that it’s a verb and most --if not all-- subsequent translations followed suit. Big mistake! the P author is saying that in the beginning of god’s creation of heaven and earth, the earth was formless and void and there was darkness upon the face of the deep thus necessitating the special godly command that there shall be light. He is not saying that in the beginning, god created heaven and earth.

There are several indicators that the masorete understanding is wrong. First, The P creation account is modeled after the J creation account (2:4-25) and in the J account this introductory statement that at first there was nothing, is articulated very clearly: "every plant of the field had yet to be on earth, and every herb of the field had yet to grow" (2:5). Second, verses 6-10 explain how god created the heaven and earth on the second and third day, respectively. This is a direct contradiction to the statement made in verse 1 according to the masorete understanding that in the beginning (that is, on the first day, even before there was light), god created heaven and earth. Third, we see from the creations in subsequent days that each day was devoted to the creation of only one major element on earth. At the very least, the P author pauses after each major creation by saying that "god saw that it was good". According to the masorete understanding, however, there are three major elements created in the first day: light, heaven and earth. Lastly, the language used in verse 1 simply does not match the style of the P author for expressing creational events. In most of the other events, god orders that objects should come into existence, they do so ("wayehi ken"), and he then names the objects and he sees that they are good. Also, P always uses a verb that begins with a waw .(וַיַּעַשֹ וַיֹּאמֶר וַיִּקְרָא וַיִּתֵּן וַיַּרְא וַיִּבְרָא וַיְבָרֶךְ)

Now before I leave this P creation story, I must caution that the first day’s events are still quite problematic. Even according to my interpretation, light is said to be created on the first day and this contradicts the story of light’s creation on the fourth day. I think there is a possibility that the original story of creation from which the P account is derived (which is --by the way-- of Babylonian origin) did not say that anything was created on the first day, or possibly god himself is said to have been born on that day. To the Jewish P audience, however, god could not be perceived as an entity that was born at a given time and did not exist previously. They had to assign some object as the creation of the first day and they therefore took the light from the fourth day and placed it in the first day. According to this understanding, verse 18 originally read:

יח וְלִמְשֹׁל בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה וּלְהַבְדִּיל בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחשֶׁךְ וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים כִּי-טוֹב וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר יוֹם רְבִיעִי:

Upon moving the creation of light to the first day, the phrase "god separated light from darkness" ended up duplicated both on the first day (verse 4) and on the fourth day (verse 18) and the phrase "god named the light day and the darkness night" was completely moved from the fourth day to the first day.

If this understanding is true, then the first day’s creation was god and this is the hidden meaning behind the phrase "the spirit of god hovered upon the water". It means that the only living creature on earth was God. All that should be contained in the first day’s story is the following:

א בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחשֶׁךְ עַל-פְּנֵי תְהוֹם וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים מְרַחֶפֶת עַל-פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם: ה וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד:

And what is meant by this is that on the first day nothing but god existed. Gradually, all elements mentioned here are created. Heavens on the second day, earth on the third day, light on the fourth day, spirit/wind of water animals on the fifth day (as contrasted with the spirit of god-only being on the water) and land animals on the sixth day.

Article 2:
פרק ג כה וַיִּֽהְיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם עֲרוּמִּים הָֽאָדָם וְאִשְׁתּוֹ וְלֹא יִתְבּשָֽׁשׁוּ: (פרק ג) א וְהַנָּחָשׁ הָיָה עָרוּם מִכֹּל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־הָאִשָּׁה אַף כִּֽי־אָמַר אֱלֹהִים לֹא תֹֽאכְלוּ מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּֽן: ב וַתֹּאמֶר הָֽאִשָּׁה אֶל־הַנָּחָשׁ מִפְּרִי עֵץ־הַגָּן נֹאכֵֽל:

What exactly the word "gharum/gharumim" means is debatable. The KJV translates gharumim as naked and gharum as "subtle". I strongly suspect that both words have a similar meaning. However, even if the two words have no connection whatsoever, we still see from the overall account of the "Fall" (as Christians like to call it) that verse 2:25 is part of the Fall narrative that follows and not part of the preceding creation narrative. J is saying that Adam and his wife were at first naked and unashamed, to contrast this with when they were ashamed of being naked after they ate from the tree of knowledge, and were forced to sew garbs from fig leaves to cover their nakedness. Thus it is clear to me that verse 2:25 ought to be 3:1. I do not have the slightest inkling as to who made this verse part of chapter 2 and why, but this is how it is in the Jewish Pentateuch and it’s wrong.

Article 3
כא וַיָּרַח יְהוָֹה אֶת־רֵיחַ הַנִּיחֹחַ וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל־לִבּוֹ לֹא אֹסִף לְקַלֵּל עוֹד אֶת־הָֽאֲדָמָה בַּֽעֲבוּר הָֽאָדָם כִּי יֵצֶר לֵב הָֽאָדָם רַע מִנְּעֻרָיו וְלֹֽא־אֹסִף עוֹד לְהַכּוֹת אֶת־כָּל־חַי כַּֽאֲשֶׁר עָשִֽׂיתִי: כב (עֹד) עַד כָּל־יְמֵי הָאָרֶץ זֶרַע וְקָצִיר וְקֹר וָחֹם וְקַיִץ וָחֹרֶף וְיוֹם וָלַיְלָה לֹא יִשְׁבֹּֽתוּ:

The Hebrew word "od" (spelled ayin waw daleth) means "more" or "still" whereas the word "ad" (spelled ayin daleth) means until. The Masorete spells the first word in verse 22 with a cholem on the ayin so that it means "more": while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. This is wrong!! We see the word "od" with this meaning in the very previous verse spelled with a waw. Why is this one lacking a waw if it’s the same word?

Hence we see that the word is "ad" meaning until: Until all the days of earth (that is, forever) seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

The phrase "until all the days of the earth" as used in this context in the J account, parallels the "perpetual generations" (darath gholam) covenant god makes with Noah in the P account (9:12)

Article 4
ד וַיֹּֽאמְרוּ הָבָה נִבְנֶה־לָּנוּ עִיר וּמִגְדָּל וְרֹאשׁוֹ בַשָּׁמַיִם וְנַֽעֲשֶׂה־לָּנוּ (שֵׁם) שָם פֶּן־נָפוּץ עַל־פְּנֵי כָל־הָאָֽרֶץ:

This verse should be compared to the verse in 2kings 6:2
ב נֵלְכָה-נָּא עַד-הַיַּרְדֵּן וְנִקְחָה מִשָּׁם אִישׁ קוֹרָה אֶחָת וְנַעֲשֶֹה-לָּנוּ שָׁם מָקוֹם לָשֶׁבֶת שָׁם וַיֹּאמֶר לֵכוּ:

It is the only other place in the Bible where these three consecutive words appear and clearly the word is pronounced "sham" in Kings and it means "there". Likewise, I believe that in our case it should be pronounced sham and translated as "there" and not "name" which is the translation of the Hebrew word "shem". I should also note that the expression "making a name" is not found anywhere else in the Bible and has no easily interpreted meaning.

The tower of Babel J account is very ancient and cryptic. It does not clarify precisely what prompted these people to build the city and a tower "whose top is in heaven" and what they were trying to accomplish. How would the tower prevent their dispersal and why is a dispersal bad? Furthermore, how did this plan threaten Yahweh?

Most likely, it refers to the ziggurats that the ancients built in Mesopotamia. These ziggurats were essentially terraced mounds on top of which a brick temple was built. They had a particular interest in building the temple on highly elevated ground, seemingly in order to be closer to god who presumably resides in heaven. It seems that these ziggurats were destroyed in the course of the Semitic raids (the amorites) on these ancient Sumerian cities during the early second millennium BCE. See the Wiki article on ziggurats

Accordingly, the reason why yahweh would object to such a projeact is simply that it was dedicated to another god and yahweh is jealous, fearing that a ziggurat dedicated to another deity would allow that deity to wield too much control over the earthly mortals and diminish yahweh’s control over them. The J author thus views the ziggurat destruction and the dispersal of humanity as an expression of yahweh’s anger at those who were worshipping another deity through the ziggurat built in Babel.

Regardless of what the precise purpose of this building project was and why Yahweh objected to it, one thing is clear: "making a name", as the Hebrew words in 11:4 literally mean according to the Masorete tradition, does not present any threat to yahweh and does not prevent dispersal.
Under our understanding, these words translate to "let us make there..." and it does not specify what they will make. In fact, this is probably why the Masoretes changed the meaning of the phrase. Something seemed amiss since it didn’t say what they will make and so the masorete interpreted it to mean "let us make a name". Personally, I believe that the verse should read:

ד וַיֹּֽאמְרוּ הָבָה נִבְנֶה־לָּנוּ עִיר וְרֹאשׁוֹ בַשָּׁמַיִם וְנַֽעֲשֶׂה־לָּנוּ שָׁם מִגְדָּל פֶּן־נָפוּץ עַל־פְּנֵי כָל־הָאָֽרֶץ:
They said, Come, let us build us a city whose top is in the heaven, and let us make a tower there lest we be scattered upon the face of the whole earth.

Note how I moved the word "tower" ("mijdal", which refers to the temple built on top of the terraced mound) from the beginning of the verse and placed it after the word "there". Now the verse reads perfectly fine and it also makes sense. By "city", the J author does not mean a traditional city; rather, what is meant is a series of receding tiers, each of which is filled with earth and enclosed by baked brick, upon which the "tower" (aka temple) may be built. If it is true that in the original text, "mijdal" followed the word "sham", then the reason it was moved is well understood in this context. The scribe could not imagine how a city’s top can reach the heaven and therefore restructured the verse so that it would be talking about the top of the tower and this ultimately caused the word shm to be mistakenly read as "shem". In our explanation, however, based on the construction of the actual ziggurats, "city" here means a mound and the intent is to build a very tall, tiered mound and so there’s no need to edit the text.

Finally, I should note that in this very J account (Genesis 11:1-9) the word "sham" meaning there is mentioned five times, which is a lot. "Shem" meaning name is mentioned once and that is the word "shemah" (her name) in verse 11:9 when referring to the name of the city Babel. And so we see contextually that this particular J author was fond of the word "sham".
Article 5
טז וְשַׂמְתִּי אֶת־זַֽרְעֲךָ כַּֽעֲפַר הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אִם־יוּכַל אִישׁ לִמְנוֹת אֶת־עֲפַר הָאָרֶץ גַּם־זַֽרְעֲךָ (יִמָּנֶֽה) יִמְּנֶה :

This is but one out of many instances where the Masorete prefers to use a passive verb than an active one. The word ימנה in modern Hebrew could mean "he will count" or it could mean "will be counted" depending on the pronunciation. This reflects a relatively advanced vocabulary used in later generations and at the masoretic times. The problem is that in ancient Hebrew, the one spoken during much of the first temple, there was no clear distinction between past tense, present tense and future tense. The same exact word could be understood as referring to the past, present or future depending on the context, while the spelling AND pronunciation are identical. Likewise, I don’t see any definitive evidence that ancient Hebrew had such passive words as "will be seen" or "will be counted". Thus, the spelling of the word ימּנה as "yimmaneh" rather than "yimneh" is a projection of contemporary Hebrew grammar upon an ancient generation who didn’t have such complex grammatical structures.

But even if the J author did have the capacity to express himself in a passive way, it is quite clear that the author is talking here about a specific person who is counting either dust particles or the seed of Abram. He is not talking about whether the dust or seed can "be" counted. Rather, he is saying that whoever can count the dust of the earth can count the seed of Abram.
[רביעי] א וַיְהִי בִּימֵי (אַמְרָפֶל) אַמַרְפָל מֶֽלֶךְ־שִׁנְעָר אַרְיוֹךְ מֶלֶךְ אֶלָּסָר: (כְּדָרְלָעֹמֶר) כַּדְלַעֹמֶר מֶלֶךְ עֵילָם (וְתִדְעָל) וְתַרְעָל מֶלֶךְ גּוֹיִֽם (: ב) עָשׂוּ מִלְחָמָה אֶת־(בֶּרַע) בֶּלַע מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם וְאֶת־(בִּרְשַׁע) בַּרְשַּׂע מֶלֶךְ (עֲמֹרָה) עֲמֹרְהָה (שִׁנְאָב) שִׁנְאָר מֶלֶךְ אַדְמָה וְשֶׁמְאֵבֶר מֶלֶךְ צְבֹיִים וּמֶלֶךְ (בֶּלַע) בֶּלַךּ הִיא־(צֹֽעַר) צְעֹר: ג כָּל־אֵלֶּה חָֽבְרוּ אֶל־עֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּים הוּא יָם הַמֶּֽלַח: ד שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה עָֽבְדוּ אֶת־כְּדָרְלָעֹמֶר וּשְׁלשׁ־עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה מָרָֽדוּ: ה וּבְאַרְבַּע עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה בָּא כְדָרְלָעֹמֶר וְהַמְּלָכִים אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ וַיַּכּוּ אֶת־רְפָאִים בְּעַשְׁתְּרֹת (קַרְנַיִם) וְקַרְנַיִם וְאֶת־הַזּוּזִים (בְּהָם) בָּהֶם וְאֵת הָֽאֵימִים בְּשָׁוֵה קִרְיָתָֽיִם: ו וְאֶת־הַֽחֹרִי (בְּהַֽרֲרָם) בְּהָרֵי שֵׂעִיר עַד אֵיל פָּארָן אֲשֶׁר (עַל־הַמִּדְבָּֽר) בַּמִּדְבָּֽר: ז וַיָּשֻׁבוּ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל־עֵין מִשְׁפָּט הִוא קָדֵשׁ וַיַּכּוּ אֶת־כָּל־(שְׂדֵה) שָׂרֵי הָֽעֲמָֽלֵקִי וְגַם אֶת־הָאֱמֹרִי הַיּשֵׁב בְּחַֽצֲצֹן תָּמָֽר: ח וַיֵּצֵא מֶֽלֶךְ־סְדֹם וּמֶלֶךְ עֲמֹרָה וּמֶלֶךְ אַדְמָה וּמֶלֶךְ צְבֹיִים [צְבוֹיִם] וּמֶלֶךְ בֶּלַע הִוא־צֹעַר וַיַּֽעַרְכוּ אִתָּם מִלְחָמָה בְּעֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּֽים: ט אֵת כְּדָרְלָעֹמֶר מֶלֶךְ עֵילָם וְתִדְעָל מֶלֶךְ גּוֹיִם וְאַמְרָפֶל מֶלֶךְ שִׁנְעָר וְאַרְיוֹךְ מֶלֶךְ אֶלָּסָר אַרְבָּעָה מְלָכִים אֶת־הַֽחֲמִשָּֽׁה: י וְעֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּים בֶּֽאֱרֹת בֶּֽאֱרֹת חֵמָר וַיָּנֻסוּ מֶֽלֶךְ־סְדֹם וַֽעֲמֹרָה וַיִּפְּלוּ־שָׁמָּה וְהַנִּשְׁאָרִים הֶרָה נָּֽסוּ: יא וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת־כָּל־רְכֻשׁ סְדֹם וַֽעֲמֹרָה וְאֶת־כָּל־אָכְלָם וַיֵּלֵֽכוּ: יב וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת־לוֹט וְאֶת־רְכֻשׁוֹ בֶּן־אֲחִי אַבְרָם וַיֵּלֵכוּ וְהוּא ישֵׁב בִּסְדֹֽם: יג וַיָּבֹא הַפָּלִיט וַיַּגֵּד לְאַבְרָם הָֽעִבְרִי וְהוּא (שֹׁכֵן) שָׁכַן בְּאֵֽלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא הָֽאֱמֹרִי אֲחִי אֶשְׁכֹּל וַֽאֲחִי (עָנֵר) עֻנָן וְהֵם בַּֽעֲלֵי בְרִית־אַבְרָֽם: יד וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָם כִּי נִשְׁבָּה אָחִיו וַיָּרֶק אֶת־חֲנִיכָיו יְלִידֵי בֵיתוֹ שְׁמֹנָה עָשָׂר וּשְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת וַיִּרְדֹּף עַד־דָּֽן: טו (וַיֵּֽחָלֵק) וַיְּחַלֵק עֲלֵיהֶם לַיְלָה הוּא וַֽעֲבָדָיו וַיַּכֵּם וַֽיִּרְדְּפֵם עַד־חוֹבָה אֲשֶׁר מִשְּׂמֹאל לְדַמָּֽשֶׂק: טז וַיָּשֶׁב אֵת כָּל־(הָֽרְכֻשׁ) רֶכֶשׁ סְדֹם וְגַם אֶת־לוֹט אָחִיו וּרְכֻשׁוֹ הֵשִׁיב וְגַם אֶת־הַנָּשִׁים וְאֶת־הָעָֽם: יז וַיֵּצֵא מֶֽלֶךְ־סְדֹם (לִקְרָאתוֹ) לְקִרְאָתוֹ אַֽחֲרֵי שׁוּבוֹ מֵֽהַכּוֹת אֶת־כְּדָרְלָעֹמֶר וְאֶת־הַמְּלָכִים אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ אֶל־עֵמֶק (שָׁוֵה) שָּׂבִּי הוּא עֵמֶק הַמֶּֽלֶךְ: יח וּמַלְכִּי־צֶדֶק מֶלֶךְ שָׁלֵם הוֹצִיא לֶחֶם וָיָיִן וְהוּא כֹהֵן לְאֵל עֶלְיֽוֹן: יט וַֽיְבָֽרֲכֵהוּ וַיֹּאמַר בָּרוּךְ אַבְרָם לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן (קֹנֵה) קָנָה שָׁמַיִם וָאָֽרֶץ: כ וּבָרוּךְ אֵל עֶלְיוֹן אֲשֶׁר־מִגֵּן צָרֶיךָ בְּיָדֶךָ וַיִּתֶּן־לוֹ מַֽעֲשֵׂר מִכֹּֽל: [חמישי] כא וַיֹּאמֶר מֶֽלֶךְ־סְדֹם אֶל־אַבְרָם תֶּן־לִי הַנֶּפֶשׁ( וְהָֽרְכֻשׁ) וְהָֽרֶכֶשׁ קַח־לָֽךְ: כב וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם אֶל־מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם הֲרִמֹתִי יָדִי אֶל־יְהוָֹה אֵל עֶלְיוֹן קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָֽרֶץ: כג אִם־מִחוּט וְעַד שְׂרוֹךְ־נַעַל וְאִם־אֶקַּח מִכָּל־אֲשֶׁר־לָךְ וְלֹא תֹאמַר אֲנִי הֶֽעֱשַׁרְתִּי אֶת־אַבְרָֽם: כד בִּלְעָדַי רַק אֲשֶׁר אָֽכְלוּ הַנְּעָרִים וְחֵלֶק הָֽאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר הָֽלְכוּ אִתִּי עָנֵר אֶשְׁכֹּל וּמַמְרֵא הֵם יִקְחוּ חֶלְקָֽם: ס
I have made many corrections to this J narrative of Abraham fighting the Sodomite kings. One of the key corrections to this account is the pause after "Arioch, king of Ellasar". He is saying that the story took place in the days of Amarphal and Arioch; Chodollogomor is already part of the actual story. As we see in verse 5, Chodollogomor was the leading king in the war against the Sodomite kings and so the narrative starts with him, saying that he and Tharghal waged war against the Sodomite kings without mentioning that the minor kings Amarphal and Arioch (probably his vassals) were allied with him. The Masorete understanding is that "in the days of..." refers to all four kings mentioned in verse 1 and not just the first one or two.
While I do not have any definitive proof that the masorete interpretation is wrong, my interpretation is based on the LXX and the LXX (Septuagint) is generally more reliable than the MT (masoretic text).

All other corrections in the pronunciation of the kings or their nations are based directly on the English translation of the Septuagint. Additionally there are some "material" changes as well, that effect a major change in meaning. For example, in verse 5 according to the MT, "Ham" is a name-place where the Zuzites were slain, whereas according to the LXX there are no "Zuzites". The Hebrew term "Zuzim bahem" means the strong amongst them and the Hebrew word for strong is "ghazuz" as in Isaiah 42:25.

Under this interpretation, verse 5 mentions only names of places; it does not name any specific people who were slain at these places. All three Hebrew words used in reference to the people slain have the connotation of "mighty ones". Rephaim are giants who reside in Astaroth. Zuzim are strong nations who reside in Qarnayim and Eimim are mighty ones who reside in the village Saweh. Note that "qarithim" is not part of the name of the village.
Article 6
פרק כט
[שני] א וַיִּשָּׂא יַֽעֲקֹב רַגְלָיו וַיֵּלֶךְ אַרְצָה בְנֵי־קֶֽדֶם: ב וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה בְאֵר בַּשָּׂדֶה וְהִנֵּה־שָׁם שְׁלשָׁה עֶדְרֵי־צֹאן רֹֽבְצִים עָלֶיהָ כִּי מִן־הַבְּאֵר הַהִוא יַשְׁקוּ הָֽעֲדָרִים: וְהָאֶבֶן גְּדֹלָה עַל־פִּי הַבְּאֵֽר (: ג) וְנֶֽאֶסְפוּ־שָׁמָּה כָל־הָֽעֲדָרִים וְגָֽלֲלוּ אֶת־הָאֶבֶן מֵעַל פִּי הַבְּאֵר וְהִשְׁקוּ אֶת־הַצֹּאן וְהֵשִׁיבוּ אֶת־הָאֶבֶן עַל־פִּי הַבְּאֵר לִמְקֹמָֽהּ:

I don’t know why the Masorete ended verse 2 after "there was a big stone at the mouth of the well". It is quite clear to me that this clause is part of the next verse and is intended to describe the routine shephered practice of combining their efforts to roll over the stone to enable access to the water when needed. Apparently they did not want the well to be exposed when not in use, for fear of contamination. In fact, it is possible that the new verse starts even earlier at "for the flocks were to drink from that well...". The conjunction "for" explains why the flocks were lying beside the well and is therefore the beginning of the new verse that describes the routine which required that all the flocks be present before they can roll the stone off and drink from the well.
י וַתְּהִי רֵאשִׁית מַמְלַכְתּוֹ בָּבֶל וְאֶרֶךְ וְאַכַּד (וְכַלְנֶה) וְכֻּלָנָה בְּאֶרֶץ שִׁנְעָֽר:

This is one of those instances where a major error was made in the pronunciation and thus interpretation of a word. While Erech and Akkad are known Sumerian city-states of the third Millenium BCE, there is no such place as "calneh". The word here is "kulanah" and it means "and all". The author is saying that all the aforementioned cities (Babel, Erech and Akkad) are in the land of Sina’ar, which is Sumeria. This is how the translation occurs in the NRSV.
כ וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה זַֽעֲקַת סְדֹם וַֽעֲמֹרָה כִּי־רָבָּה וְחַטָּאתָם כִּי כָֽבְדָה מְאֹֽד: כא אֵֽרֲדָה־נָּא וְאֶרְאֶה הַכְּצַֽעֲקָתָהּ הַבָּאָה אֵלַי עָשׂוּ (כָּלָה וְאִם־לֹא אֵדָֽעָה) כֻּלָהּ אִם־לֹא וְאֵדָֽעָה:
This is the context in which how the expression "I shall know" is elsewhere. See the following P passages in Exodus (2:23-25):

וַיֵּאָֽנְחוּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל מִן־הָֽעֲבֹדָה וַיִּזְעָקוּ וַתַּעַל שַׁוְעָתָם אֶל־הָֽאֱלֹהִים מִן־הָֽעֲבֹדָֽה: כד וַיִּשְׁמַע אֱלֹהִים אֶת־נַֽאֲקָתָם וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים אֶת־בְּרִיתוֹ אֶת־אַבְרָהָם אֶת־יִצְחָק וְאֶֽת־יַֽעֲקֹֽב: כה וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֵּדַע אֱלֹהִֽים: ס

God is listening to the cries of the Israelites and he "knows" what do in response, and that is, rescure the oppressed and inflict retribution upon the oppressor. Likewise, Yahweh is saying here that he will descend from heaven and see whether all the evils purported to have been done in Sodom had actually taken place and he will then punish the oppressor.

Note that the Hebrew word spelled {kapf lamed he} almost always has the meaning of completion, NOT detruction and in JE always has such meaning. In fact, this very word is mentioned by the J author in his telling of the very same Sodom story. Several verses later (Genesis 18:33) Yahweh goes (to Sofom) after completing his talk with Abraham. This word is also mentioned by J in Genesis 13:10 "Lot lifted his eyes and saw that the plain of Jordan was completely watered" and elsewhere.

The only place in the Pentateuch where calah obviously means destruction is a P passage in Numbers 16 and 17 where God is saying that he will destroy the assembly in a moment. In all other instances of this root, it denotes completion, including the verse in Genesis 41:30 translated by KJV "and the famine will consume the land". This is wrong! The correct defintion here is "the famine will encompass the complete land".

Note also that I have moved the waw from being prefixed to "calah", to being prefixed to "ed’ghah" (I shall know). The passgae reads much better this way and the Masorete version is therefore most likely the result of a copypyist error.
פרק ב כב וַיְצַו פַּרְעֹה לְכָל־עַמּוֹ לֵאמֹר כָּל־הַבֵּן הַיִּלּוֹד הַיְאֹרָה תַּשְׁלִיכֻהוּ וְכָל־הַבַּת תְּחַיּֽוּן: (פ פרק ב) א וַיֵּלֶךְ אִישׁ מִבֵּית לֵוִי וַיִּקַּח אֶת־בַּת־לֵוִֽי: ב וַתַּהַר הָֽאִשָּׁה וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן...

Verse 22 is part of the following story and not part of the preceding story. In fact, it is not even by the same author. Exodus 1:18-21 is by the E author as evidenced by its used of "Elohim" to designate the Hebrew god. Exodus 1:22-2:23A is by the J author as evidenced by the naming of Moses’s father-in-law "reghu’el" as opposed to "Jethrau".

The accounts also tell different stories of how Pharaoh attempted to stifle Hebrew expansion by having male babies killed and how Moses came to be born. In the E account, the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Pu’ghah are told to kill male Hebrew babies immediately upon giving birth. They do not listen to Pharaoh; they "fear god" and let the babies live and as a result, Hebrew "houses" are created (1:21). By "houses" the author means huge tribal clans, which are popularly known as the house of the founder of the tribe such as "bith dawid" for the house of David and bith Omri for the house of Omri (in the Moab Stele). There is no story about the birth of Moses in E because Moses was from the J tribe of Levi and not related to E.
J has the story slighly differnet. According to J, Pharaoh instructs all his people (as opposed to just the Hebrew midwives) to throw all male newborn babies into the Nile (Ye’or is the name of the Nile in Egyptian). This probably means Hebrew newborn babies only but we still see some major differences in the details of this episode between J and E.

I should also note that according to the E story, there would have been no need to take any measures to ensure the survival of a baby once it survived the birth-giving process. We see that the midwives claim as their defense for not killing Hebrew babies "because the Hebrew women are unlike the Egyptian... they give birth before the midwife comes to them". Thus, it is only their obligation to kill the baby while aiding in the birth process. Whereas in J, all newborn babies ought to be thrown into the river even after they survive their birth, and this gives rise to the necessity of hiding the newborn infant that was to be Moses. as detailed further by J.

כב וַיֵּט מֹשֶׁה אֶת־יָדוֹ עַל־הַשָּׁמָיִם וַיְהִי חֹֽשֶׁךְ־אֲפֵלָה בְּכָל־אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם: שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִֽים (: כג) לֹֽא־רָאוּ אִישׁ אֶת־אָחִיו וְלֹא־קָמוּ אִישׁ מִתַּחְתָּיו שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים וּֽלְכָל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמֽוֹשְׁבֹתָֽם:

"Three days" of the end of verse 22 actually belongs to verse 23 and it should read thus: Three days a man could not see his bother and no man rose from his place for three days.