[b-hebrew] Benjamin

Jonathan D. Safren yonsaf at beitberl.ac.il
Sun Jul 4 08:42:25 EDT 2004

Oops, I sent that posting before it was ready.
Yigal Levin wrote:

> I agree. Of course 18th century NW Semitic tribal (and other) terminology
> useful for understanding biblical Hebrew. That BH is ultimately related to
> "Amorite" (that is, the NW Semitic dialects of "Amurru", including Mari)
> obvious. But Dora was making much more concrete connections, basically
> claiming that the Bene Yamin of Mari WERE the ancestors of the Israelite
> Benjaminites.
That's about as (im)probable as saying that OB Sumu'el or Sumula'el is
related to the prophet Samuel.
The DUMU.ME$ Yamina (Southerners) in Mari wre named for their geographical
location there (not South of Mari as someone on this list mistakenly
claimed - they were also to be found to the NW of Mari, as in the provinces
of Sagaratum and Naxur), and probably in relation to the DUMU.ME$ $im(x)al

> By the way, how would you explain the connection of Amurru to Emori
> (Amorite), and, for that matter, Hatti to biblical Hitti (Hittite). That
> term are related is obvious. But semantically, "Amurru" in the ANE
> a wide range of "western" tribes, including their Mesopotamian
> and we could say that "Canaanite" is as sub-group of "Amorite". In the
> Bible, the situation is reversed - the Amorites are a sub-group of the
> Canaanites (sometimes replacing them).

Don't forget the North Syrian principality of Amurru, a vassal state of the
Hittite Empire.
Amurru not only describes "Westerners" but also speakers of various NWSem
I think the biblical Emorim fit into this somewhere, but I haven't
researched this.
See Ignace J. Gelb's work; also Michael Heltzer, The Suteans, and Moshe
Anbar, Les tribus amurrites de Mari.
Kathleen Kenyon has a 1966 book on Amorites and Canaanites, but a lot of
water has flown under the bridge since then..

> The ANE Hatti, of course, are an Indo-European, Anatolian nation, that at
> one point took over northern Syria and then left "Neo-Hittite" kingdoms
> behind. The Neo-Babylonians used the term as a synonym for "Amurru". But
> again, in the Bible, the Hittites are a small and specific sub-set of
> Canaanites, living in Hebron, Seir etc.
> The same for "Horite" and "Hurrians".

This argument goes on and on in the scholarly literature. Othniel Margalit
has a Hebrew book on the Sea Peoples in which he deals with this problem.
The fact that the Bible designates them as Canaannites ain't necessarily so.
The Hittite Empire, defunct by time the biblical traditions were written
down, was out of the ken of the biblical authors. The most they knew, as in
Josh. 1, was of the Neo-Hittite kingdoms of N. Syria. In any case, their
ascribing the Hittites to the Canaanites is more a matter of geography than

As for the Hurrians/Horites, Shamgar (ben Anath) of Jud. 3 has been
explained as a Hurrian name.

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jonathan D. Safren" <yonsaf at beitberl.ac.il>
> To: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>; "b-hebrew"
> <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Sunday, July 04, 2004 8:55 AM
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Benjamin
> > Yigal Levin wrote:
> > >
> > > 2. Any direct link between anything in 18th century Mari and in 12th
> > century
> > > (or later) Israel is extremely conjectural.
> >
> > True. But sometimes, one can reasonably term used in the Bible with a
> > cognate used in Mari, generally identified as Amorite, when both the
> context
> > and the etymology permit.
> > This is especially true regarding tribal terminology. Malamat has
> identified
> > Hebrew goy with Mari gawu{m}, Hebrew xever (ha-keyni} with Mari
> > I have identified the Mari tribal official merhu(m) with (Ahuzzath)
> > mere'ehu, which I read mar'ehu.
> > On the Mari official and his identification with the biblical figure,
> >  Jonathan D. Safren, "merhum and merhutum in Mari", Orientalia 51
> > 1-29;
> > idem,  "Ahuzzath and the Pact of Beer-Sheba", Zeitschrift fuer die
> > alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 101 (1989), 184-198.
> > But not only tribal terminology. The Hebrew expression he$ib nepe$/4obeb
> > nepe$ has its cognate in the Mari expression napi$a(m) turru(m),
> a
> > loan translation from the Amorite; on this, see
> > idem, "'He Restoreth My Soul' - A Biblical Expression and Its Mari
> > Counterpart", Mari in Retrospect;Fifty Years of Mari and Mari Studies ,
> Ed.
> > by Gordon D. Young (Winona Lake, IN, Eisenbrauns, 1992), 265-271.
> > Sincerely,
> > Jonathan D. Safren
> > Dept. of Biblical Studies
> > Beit Berl College
> > 44905 Beit Berl Post Office
> > Israel
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >  This mail was scanned via Beit Berl PineApp
> >
> >
> >
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