[b-hebrew] Hebrew & Habiru

david.kimbrough at charter.net david.kimbrough at charter.net
Sun May 23 16:22:43 EDT 2004

I think it is interesting to note that  in the OT 
Israelites almost never refer to themselves as ?Hebrews? 
among themselves.  In almost ever entry for ?Hebrew? or 
?Hebrews? it is either an Egyptian or Philistine who refers 
to the Israelites as ?Hebrews?.  When Israelites do use the 
term ?Hebrew? to describe themselves, they are speaking to 
an Egyptian or Philistine.  The main exception involves 
purchased ?Hebrew? slaves who must be freed in their 
seventh year (Exd 21:2 , Deu 15:12, Jer 34:9 Jer 34:14).  
Since it seems likely that the Philistines were at some 
point employed by the Egyptians as regional surrogates, it 
would not be surprising that they would use an Egyptian 
term to describe the Israelites.  Thus it seems that the 
term ?Hebrew ? was not one the Israelites used for 
themselves but was ?given? to them by others, the Egyptians 
it would seem.
> From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
> Date: 2004/05/22 Sat PM 10:14:35 GMT
> To: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Subject: [b-hebrew] Habiru/Apiru/Ibrim (was: Date of the 
Jericho Battle)
> 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 
> 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 any
>   appearance of anything that anyone could identify as 
"Israelites" until the
>   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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David Kimbrough
San Gabriel

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