[b-hebrew] The Name "Simeon"

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Dec 7 10:29:08 EST 2007

Isaac Fried:
1.  You wrote:  “I am afraid that your investigations into the meaning of the 
names of the children of Jacob is doomed.  You are in fact falling, I 
believe, into an etymological trap neatly set up for you by the later God fearing 
editors of the narrative.”
I see no evidence of “later…editors of the narrative” as to any matters of 
substance in the Patriarchal narratives.  Would a later editor allow Sarah to 
be portrayed as being in Abimelech’s bedroom right before she gets pregnant 
with Isaac?  No.  Would a later editor allow Patriarch #2 Isaac to be portrayed 
as being one of the least impressive individuals in the Torah?  No.  Would a 
later editor allow Judah, of all people, to be portrayed as siring his main line 
of descendants by his own daughter-in-law, Tamar, who impersonates a 
prostitute?  No.  Would a later editor go to the great effort of painstakingly having 
every firstborn son in the Patriarchal narratives get the shaft, and properly 
so?  No way.  There is no such editing in evidence here.  The entirety of the 
Patriarchal narratives is in fact cut from the same cloth.  Every Patriarch 
has a terrible time siring a son by his favorite main wife, and every firstborn 
son gets the shaft.  That’s the telltale sign of a single, truly ancient 
author, whose work was never edited.
2.  You wrote:  “It is possible that all these are originally and essentially 
 names of indigenous deities held dear by the foreign born matriarchs and 
their maids, and bestowed upon their children.”
You mean that in secular history, high-class brides from the far-off upper 
Euphrates River came all the way out to modest, backwards Canaan to marry Hebrew 
shepherds?  And those exotic foreign wives saddled the Hebrews with “sacred 
names of indigenous deities”?
Isn’t a more realistic scenario here that the author of the Patriarchal 
narratives, in truly ancient times, came up with these names of Jacob’s sons 
Note that Biblical Hebrew is a virgin pure west Semitic language, with 
amazingly few foreign loanwords from non-west Semitic languages.  So how can you 
postulate any significant influence from “foreign born matriarchs and their maids”
?  The virgin pure Biblical Hebrew language of the Patriarchal narratives 
shows no such foreign influences.
(If you like a west Semitic language with manifest foreign influences from 
non-west Semitic speakers, take a gander at modern Israeli Hebrew.  Or for a 
much more egregious example, consider the Akkadian vocabulary and west Semitic 
syntax of the Amarna letters.  There’s nothing like that in the virgin pure 
Biblical Hebrew of the Patriarchal narratives, which shows minimal non-west 
Semitic influence.) 
3.  You wrote:  “Later editors defaced the names [of Jacob’s sons]….”
Isn’t the name “Judah” a super-spectacular name?  How can you view that 
magnificent name as having been “defaced”?
And besides, there were no “later editors” of the Patriarchal narratives to 
do any such “defacing” of names anyway, as noted in item #1 above.  What you 
see in the received text of the Patriarchal narratives is exactly what was put 
there, by a single author, in truly ancient times.  In particular, all 
important Hebrew names would have been written down from day #1, and would not vary 
at all.
Although you and Yitzhak Sapir usually do not agree about much, note how each 
of you is trying to claim that the names of Jacob’s sons in the Patriarchal 
narratives are not accurate.  But they are accurate -- accurate to a fault.  
What you see is what you get, when it comes to important Hebrew names in the 
Patriarchal narratives.  Nobody ever tampered with any of those names.
4.  You wrote:  “The playful and obviously nonsensical etymologies attached 
to ‘explain’ the names are but a subtle message not to take them too seriously.
We have seen 6 great puns so far, and we’ve only looked at the names “Reuben”
 and “Simeon”.  How can the pun on Reuben’s name regarding “affliction”, 
and the pun on Simeon’s name regarding “hatred”, be called “playful”?  And 
rather than being “nonsensical etymologies”, we are seeing one masterful Hebrew 
pun after another in these names.  And we’re just getting started.  (As to the 
issue of etymology, I am going to post something on that in response to Pere 
The names of Jacob’s 12 sons are not “names of indigenous deities” that were 
“bestowed upon their children” by “foreign born matriarchs and their maids”
, with such names then having been “defaced” by “later editors”.  No way.  
All of these names are the real thing, coming directly out of the mid-2nd 
millennium BCE Patriarchal Age.  These names were never edited by anybody.
The puns we are seeing on these names are truly spectacular.  This is clever 
Hebrew wordplay at its finest.
You just can’t beat the pulsating excitement of the Patriarchal narratives.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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