[b-hebrew] Habiru/Apiru/Ibrim

Jonathan D. Safren yonsaf at beitberl.ac.il
Sun May 23 13:01:49 EDT 2004

There's also the problem of the vowels.
(abiru after the Canaanite vowel shift would become spmething like {obir =
MT Hebrew {over, but never {ivri.
Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
Beit Berl College
44905 Beit Berl Post Office

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Uri Hurwitz" <uhurwitz at yahoo.com>
To: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>; "b-hebrew"
<b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Sunday, May 23, 2004 4:59 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Habiru/Apiru/Ibrim (was: Date of the Jericho Battle)

>    First, the linguistic association.  Clearly  the consonants are
identical in Akkadian and Heb. The Akkadian cuneiform sign for the first
consonant can be either Kha  as in Arabic, ( fused with H (.) chet in Heb.),
or -- Ayin. That the latter was the pronounciation in this case is  evident
in the first letter of the same social term in such disparate linguistic
cultures as Ugaritic and Egyptian, Ayin in both. The second consonantis B or
P , these are quite interchangeble as is known.The third  is R in both.
>   As for historical , anthropological  correspondence between )abiru and
Ibrim.: The first are known throughout the ANE mostly in the second
millennium,  not as an ethnicum, rather as landless outsiders, marauders but
sometimes as mercenaries. In short an ill defined appellation. Ibrim in  the
HB is a term used mostly by others such as the Philistines to describe the
Herews or Israelites, not by the latter to describe themselves. Again an ill
defined appellation.
>   The )Apiru of the El-Amarna tablets may refer to the groups we read
about in Genesis in the Patriarchial narratives that are involved in
skirmishes and even battles (see the enigmatic chapt. 14). It is  certainly
a period that preceeds the settlement/conquest,  but only five or six
generations seprate Amarna from Merenpath. Perhaps some Hebrews  remained in
Canaan, not all went down to Egypt, but this is ouside the scope of this
>   Uri
> Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il> wrote:
> 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.
> Yigal
> ----- 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
> appearance of anything that anyone could identify as "Israelites" until
> very end of the 13th century.
> Yigal"
> 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.
> Uri
> ,
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