[b-hebrew] The Name "Chedorlaomer" in Hebrew and Ugaritic

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Jan 28 17:09:10 EST 2008


Kevin P. Edgecomb:
 
You wrote:  “I write:  Frankly, no.  Both elements of Chedorlaomer, noted in 
Genesis 14 itself to be from Elam, are present in other Elamite royal names:  
Kudur- or Kutir- with the meaning of "servant/devotee" and Lugumur, an Elamite 
divine name. Similar names appear among Elamite royal names: Kutir-Nahhunte 
being one. The name itself is completely understandable as an Elamite name, and 
doesn't require any other hypothetical reading.”
 
I have not discussed ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM yet.  But note the following 
relevant points:
 
1.  No king of Persia or of any predecessor of Persia ever had the name “
Chedorlaomer”.
 
2.  “Lugumur” is not the same as “-laomer”.
 
3.  “Kutir-Nahhunte” is not very similar to “Chedorlaomer”.
 
4.  No king from Persia or from any predecessor of Persia ever did anything 
like what Chedorlaomer is reported to do in chapter 14 of Genesis.
 
5.  Based on everything else in the Patriarchal narratives, the author of the 
Patriarchal narratives had zero interest in, and zero knowledge of, Persia 
and its predecessors.
 
6.  If “Chedorlaomer” were the name of a king from a predecessor of Persia, 
we would not expect the name “Chedorlaomer” to make perfect sense in either 
Hebrew or Ugaritic.  Persia and its predecessors were not Semitic-speaking 
countries.  The very purpose of this thread is precisely to show that the name “
Chedorlaomer” makes sense in both Hebrew and Ugaritic.
 
7.  Prior to the late 6th century BCE, the Hebrews had little or no knowledge 
of Persia or any predecessor of Persia.  By sharp contrast, the northern 
Hebrews from the very earliest times, and the southern Hebrews later on, knew 
Syria all too well.  Indeed, most architectural and cultural influences in 2nd 
millennium BCE Canaan come from Syria, not from anywhere else.  If chapter 14 of 
Genesis was composed prior to the Babylonian Captivity, which seems very 
likely, it would make sense for the author of the Patriarchal narratives to be 
talking about Syria, just as it would be senseless for him to be talking about 
Persia or any predecessor of Persia.  And if chapter 14 of Genesis were composed 
after the Babylonian Captivity (certainly not my view), it would make no sense 
for Persia as the liberator of Jerusalem for the Hebrews to be painted so 
darkly and negatively.
 
8.  Ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM is not a very close match to hatamtu or NIM 
linguistically.  The pre-Persians called their own country hatamtu, and the 
Babylonians called their neighbor NIM.  Maybe you have no problem deriving the Hebrew 
word ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM, which you call “Elam”, from non-Semitic 
hatamtu or from Babylonian NIM, but I do.  It takes a big linguistic stretch to get 
from historical non-Semitic hatamtu or Akkadian NIM to west Semitic 
ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM in Hebrew.  Don’t you have any interest in examining that big 
linguistic stretch?  That’s a much, much bigger linguistic stretch than anything 
in my Hebrew analysis of the name “Chedorlaomer”.
 
9.  Most of the uses of ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM in the Bible manifestly do 
not refer to historical hatamtu.  In particular, many Hebrew men have the name 
ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM, strongly suggesting that this is a Hebrew word, not a 
non-Semitic word for non-Semitic-speaking hatamtu.  Why wouldn’t that 
consideration raise some doubts in your mind?  Hatamtu is not linguistically very 
close to ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM, and ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM is usually used in 
the Bible as a Hebrew man’s name.  That raises red flags to me as to why cha
pter 14 of Genesis should be automatically written off as being entirely 
non-historical on the basis of ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM supposedly having to mean 
hatamtu, without any Semitic linguistic analysis of either ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM 
or “Chedorlaomer” being done.  Why would the author of chapter 14 of Genesis 
deliberately make his story nonsensical by throwing in a totally bogus 
reference to a predecessor of Persia?  And why would he reference non-Semitic hatamtu 
by the Semitic-sounding word ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM, which doesn’t sound 
much like hatamtu at all?  Indeed, the only point of similarity that I can see is 
that both such words, hatamtu and ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM, have one mem/M.  
What objective person would consider that a “match”?  Why should we accept 
such a gigantic, gargantuan linguistic leap without even being permitted to ask 
if there may be a more sensible west Semitic derivation and meaning of the 
Hebrew word ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM?   Shouldn’t we at least be allowed to ask if 
ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM may possibly have a meaning or derivation other than 
hatamtu?  There’s no harm in asking, is there?
 
10.  Genesis 10: 22 lists ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM as the first named 
descendant of Shem.  That makes perfect sense if ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM is referring 
to Semitic Syria, while being nonsensical if ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM is 
referring to the predecessors of Persia, located east of southern Babylon, who were 
not Semitic in any way.
 
11.  When Jeremiah castigates the foreign nations one by one, note how 
logical the geographical progression is if ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM is Syria, and 
Bozrah is the real Bozrah/Bosra (in southern modern Syria), in the northern 
Transjordan, with ancient Udumu/Udu/Edom being located in the northern Transjordan, 
not south of the Dead Sea (for Udumu in the northern Transjordan, see Amarna 
Letter #256: 24).  Chapter 46 of Jeremiah starts with Egypt.  Then chapter 47 
of Jeremiah moves to the southwest part of Canaan and the classic Philistines. 
 Then chapter 48 of Jeremiah logically moves on to Moab in the southern 
Transjordan.  Then the beginning of chapter 49 of Jeremiah moves on to Ammon in the 
central Transjordan.  Then Jeremiah 49: 7 moves on to Edom and Bozrah at 
Jeremiah 49: 13, which I see as being the northern Transjordan.  Then just north 
of the northern Transjordan is Damascus in southern Syria, which is next at 
Jeremiah 49: 23.  Then moving straight west we come to Hazor in northern Canaan 
at Jeremiah 49: 28, while also referencing the inhabitants of the north end of 
the Arabian Desert, to the east, as Kedar.  Then the text logically moves on 
to Syria generally, at Jeremiah 49: 34, under the name ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM. 
 With Assyria at this point in history being out of the picture, the next 
stop will of course be Babylon itself (the ruler of all of Mesopotamia), at 
chapter 50 of Jeremiah.
 
Note that the whole progression makes logical, geographical and historical 
sense if ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM is Syria, while being senseless if 
ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM is Persia or any predecessor of Persia.  If this prophecy was 
composed before the Babylonian Exile, Persia and its predecessors were essentially 
unknown to the Hebrews.  If this prophecy was composed after the Babylonian 
Exile, Persia had at that point become the “good guys” who restored the 
Hebrews to beloved Jerusalem.  Why castigate your liberators?
 
12.  Likewise, if both ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM and Shinar are referring to 
Syria (for Shinar/Shenir see Deuteronomy 3: 9), Isaiah 11: 11 makes sense, too.  
We start with a reference to Assyria, then there are 3 references to parts of 
Egypt, then ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM and Shinar reference Syria, and finally 
we get to Hamath, in southern Syria, and the islands of the Mediterranean, with 
whom Syria traded.  It makes no sense to put a reference to far-off Persia or 
a predecessor of Persia in with that group of nations.
 
So instead of insisting at the very beginning, before having done any Semitic 
linguistic analysis at all, that Chedorlaomer in chapter 14 of Genesis must, 
nonsensically, be a totally fictional king from the predecessor of Persia, why 
not take a look at the name “Chedorlaomer” first in terms of Hebrew words, 
and then in terms of Ugaritic words?
 
I presume that you agree with me that no one from Persia or any predecessor 
of Persia ever did the things that Chedorlaomer is said to do in chapter 14 of 
Genesis.  But a princeling ruler of Ugarit historically did all of those 
things.  Instead of woodenly insisting that ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM in chapter 14 
of Genesis can only mean a predecessor of Persia, namely hatamtu, why not do a 
Semitic linguistics analysis of first “Chedorlaomer”, and then later we can 
do a Semitic linguistics analysis of ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM as well?  Why try 
to prohibit such an analysis, before such an analysis even begins?  The only 
way that chapter 14 of Genesis may be historical is if “Chedorlaomer” is 
closely modeled on one particular historical princeling ruler of Ugarit.  Shouldn’t 
we investigate that possibility?  At a bare minimum, why not do a Hebrew and 
Ugaritic linguistics analysis first of the name “Chedorlaomer”, and then of 
ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM?
 
Hatamtu is not very close to ayin-yod-lamed-mem/(YLM.  And Kutir-Nahhunte is 
not very close to “Chedorlaomer”.  So why not do a Semitic linguistic 
language of both of those two fascinating words?
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois




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