[b-hebrew] Etymology of "'Eylam" at Genesis 14: 1: Part I
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Feb 5 10:58:12 EST 2008
Etymology of “’Eylam” at Genesis 14: 1: Part I
The Hebrew word at Genesis 14: 1 for Chedorlaomer’s homeland is
ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM. This has traditionally been thought, by Biblical Inerrantists and
modern secular scholars alike, to reference the far-off predecessor of
Persia, east of the lower Euphrates/Tigris River. But as we will see in this post,
there is nothing in secular history to support any linkage between the Hebrew
word ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM and the predecessor of Persia.
One standard English transliteration of the Hebrew word
ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM is: ’Eylam. (This is from the Blue Letter Bible.) This transliteration
is much more accurate than the traditional English rendering “Elam”, which
owes as much to an Akkadian phrase discussed below as it does to the Hebrew word
Note that both the Hebrew word ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM, and any actual
transliteration of that Hebrew word, such as ’Eylam, feature a dual initial vowel
sound. Whether it be ’Ey, or (as in the case of other Hebrew words that begin
with ayin-yod) Ey or ’Ay or Ay, any actual English transliteration of a Hebrew
word that begins with ayin-yod will always feature a dual vowel sound.
That is important, because there is no such dual initial vowel sound in any
version of the secular historical name of the predecessor of Persia. Nor does
much of anything else match either. As we will now see, neither the
predecessor of Persia itself, nor its Babylonian neighbor, ever referred to the
predecessor of Persia by anything approximating the Hebrew word
1. “Hatamtu” or “Haltamti” or “Atamti” vs. ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM/’Eylam
Prior to the arrival of the Persians, the locals east of the lower
Euphrates/Tigris River called their own country “Hatamtu” or “Haltamti” or “Atamti”.
Note that ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM/’Eylam bears no reasonable resemblance to
the locals’ name for their own country. This should be no real surprise, since
the Hebrews never interacted with Hatamtu, the predecessor of Persia. As we
are starting to see, ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM/’Eylam in Hebrew has no
connection to any name for the predecessor of Persia in the secular history of the
2. The Babylonians referred to their eastern neighbor in two different ways.
But let us note at the outset that although the Hebrews were conquered by
Babylonia in the 6th century BCE, the Hebrews in fact had little contact with
Babylonia prior to the 6th century BCE. If Genesis 14: 1 was composed prior to
the 6th century BCE, which is very likely, then it is hard to see why the
Hebrews would pay the slightest bit of attention to Babylonia’s name for Babylonia’
s eastern neighbor, a far-off country that was irrelevant to the Hebrews
prior to the Babylonian Exile.
(a) “NIM” vs. ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM/’Eylam
Sumer, the predecessor of Babylonia, apparently referred to the predecessor
of Persia as “NIM”. What we do know for sure is that the sumerogram used by
Babylonia for the predecessor of Persia was “NIM”.
NIM is not similar at all to ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM/’Eylam.
As discussed in my next post, one cannot get NIM to look like the Hebrew word
’Eylam without (i) referencing the Akkadian phrase “KUR elammatum” discussed
immediately below, and then (ii) making eleven, count them 11, changes to the
words “NIM” and “KUR elammatum”.
(b) “KUR elammatum” vs. ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM/’Eylam
The Akkadian phrase used by Babylonia for the predecessor of Persia was “KUR
elammatum”. Note that the Hebrew word ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM/’Eylam bears
no reasonable resemblance to KUR elammatum. The KUR is not there at all. Even
if KUR is dropped, the Hebrew initial dual vowel sound is not there. And the
final “-matum” is completely missing in Hebrew. BDB shortens KUR elammatum
to “Elamtu”. But even that conveniently shortened word “Elamtu” is not very
close to ’Eylam. There is no dual initial vowel sound, and the “-tu” ending
is conspicuously absent in ’Eylam.
Once again, none of this should be any real surprise. Why on earth would the
Hebrews prior to the 6th century BCE care a fig about the Babylonians’ word
for the Babylonians’ eastern neighbor? Prior to the Babylonian Exile, the
Hebrews had zero interest in Babylonia’s eastern neighbor, so why would one think
that the Hebrew Bible would be studded, nonsensically, with reference after
nonsensical reference to the predecessor of Persia?
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