[b-hebrew] Habiru/Apiru/Ibrim (was: Date of the Jericho Battle)

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Sat May 22 18:14:35 EDT 2004

OK, let's do it.

My impression has always been that the initial connection was made simply because, to the European scholars who first translated the el-Amarna letters, "Habiru" sounded  lot like "Hebrew". However, even assuming an etymological connection between (PR and (BR,
a. A careful analysis of the EA texts finds no mention of the Apiru as "tribes", "invaders", "conquerors" or anything else that is similar to the biblical account of the conquest. Many of the cities mentioned in the conquest story, such as Jericho, Ai, Gibeon, Hebron, Debir, Shimron, Achshaph are not mention in the EA texts (and indeed many were not even settled at the time). 
b. The term "Ibri" and its uses in the Bible are also unclear. DOES it refer to an "ethnicity"? Is it a social status?
c. IF the EA letters were to be taken as evidence of a "Hebrew" invasion of Canaan during the 14th century, such an invasion had no real effect: the "wave" of destructions, the appearance of "Israelite" settlements in the hill country and the end of Egyptian rule of the country all began in the 12th century. 

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Uri Hurwitz 
  To: Yigal Levin ; b-hebrew 
  Sent: Saturday, May 22, 2004 10:48 PM
  Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] True Date of the Jericho Battle

     Yigal wrote:  "However, even if that date is off by about a century either way it would not
  make a difference, as there is NO archaeological OR textual evidence of any
  appearance of anything that anyone could identify as "Israelites" until the
  very end of the 13th century.

        I believe you refer here to the the "Israel Stele" by Merenptah; indeed late 13th cent., and there the matter could rest.

    But some timid souls would still support Th. Meek's thesis, and he was not the first or the only one, that the infamous Habiru of the Amarna tablets in the 14th century were the Hebrews. He made this connection on clear linguistic grounds, which  makes this worth discussion on  this list. And it would push back the external references to biblical Hebrews by over a century. But please don't tell Rainey (among those who violently deny any connection with the Habiru) what I wrote here.


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