Meaning of term "Hebrew", ringer
Yigal-Levin at utc.edu
Thu Aug 8 09:32:55 EDT 2002
At 08:23 AM 8/8/2002 -0400, Randall Buth wrote:
>> "The biblical record quite definitely indicates 'ibri is derived
>>from Eber, the name of one of Shem's sons (Gen 10:21; 11:14, 16).
>> Abraham is identified as a descendant of Shem, of Eber's line
>>(Gen 11:26)." 'ibri is used of the descendants of Eber,
>Yes, but there is a 'ringer'.
>The above could be expaned to argue
>that Canaanite is NOT related to Hebrew,
>because Gn 10 has Canaan linked with Egypt/Mitsrayim and
>not with Shem and Eber.
>For those unacquainted with Hebrew, Phoenician, Moabite, ElAmarna
>Canaanite IS Hebrew, or better the otherway around,
>Hebrew is Canaanite.
>And Canaanite is not the direct descendent of Hamitic languages.
>What would have been better is to read Gen 10 as reflecting the
>politics of the 2nd millenium BCE, and not to ask linguistic questions
While modern linguists and anthropologists tend to use language as THE main
criterion for defining the "relationship" between ethnic groups, the
ancients, including the composers of the biblical genealogies, used a
number of additional criteria as well (and probably never defined a
"methodology" for their use). These include their assumed cultural,
political, religious and ideological connections to each other. Remember,
for example, that Isaac and Ishmael are brothers, but Hebrew and Arabic
come from two different "branches" of the Semitic "tree". So, yes,
linguistically, Canaanite and Hebrew are very close (just how close is a
matter of debate). To the Israelites, however, it was ideologically
important to form a distinction between themselves and their predesessors
in the Land.
It was once widely assumed that the assigning of the Canaanites to the
Hamitic family reflected a memory of Egyptian domination of Canaan during
the Late Bronze Age, but this reality is not reflected anywhere else in the
Bible (such as the Patriarchal narratives of Joshua) and it is doubtful
that the editors of the Priestly genealogy in Genesis would have know about
Dr. Yigal Levin
Dept. of Philosophy and Religion
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
615 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga TN 37403-2598
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