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

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Tue Jan 29 18:00:03 EST 2008


Jim,
There is possibly some truth in what you are saying about the  
curious, obviously compounded, name KDARLAOMER of Genesis 14:1,  
except that I would prefer to leave out some the imaginative addenda  
to the analysis.
I think that we may safely assume that the editor(s) of this  
narrative did not tamper with the accepted pronunciation of the name,  
nor that they did invent an instantaneous "nickname" out of thin air.  
Yet, these editors were certainly not above giving a name a  
contemptuous twist as here by interchanging the filler letters alef  
and ayin and the equivalent letters K and Q.
Indeed, if you rewrite the name as QDAR-LA-)OMER it appears to make  
full sense.
The root QDR essentially means 'pile up, stack, arch, bend over, roll  
over, be vast'. It is closely related to KTR from which KETER,  
'crown', is derived, and the latter kitchen utensil 'QDERAH',  
[KTERTAH], 'a round deep pot', and QADAR, 'potter'. It is also  
related to )DR, 'huge, rich, copious' as in Exodus 15:6 and Isaiah  
42:21. It appears in the personal name QEDAR, 'grand?', once in  
Genesis 25:13 for one of I$MAEL's sons. I have not as yet met a  
contemporary Hebrew first name derived from QDR, but QADAR is a  
common Arabic name.
The root )MR likewise means 'profuse, spread out, exalted'. It is  
related to TMR and CMR and appears in this sense as )AMIR, 'canopy of  
branches', in Isaiah 17:6. Both names )IMRI of Nehemiah 3:2 and ) 
AMARIAH of Zephaniah 1:1 contain this root. The name (AMRI [the  
Emir?] of 1 Kings 16:16 is possibly derived from the (MR form of this  
root.
Also (AMAR and (OMAR are common Arabic names. Hence to an Arab ear  
KDARLAOMER = KADAR-AL-EMIR.
Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Jan 28, 2008, at 9:35 AM, JimStinehart at aol.com wrote:

>
> The Name “Chedorlaomer” in Hebrew and Ugaritic
>
> Chedorlaomer is one of four attacking rulers in chapter 14 of Genesis.
> Chedorlaomer is viewed negatively by the author of the Patriarchal  
> narratives.  No
> ruler in secular history ever had the exact name “Chedorlaomer”.   
> Could “
> Chedorlaomer” then be a nickname, created by the author of the  
> Patriarchal
> narratives, for an historical princeling ruler of Ugarit, who was  
> viewed negatively
> by the northern pre-Hebrews for selling out to the dreaded Hittites  
> from the
> north and threatening to plunge all of Canaan into a terrible war?
>
> This theory of the case can be tested, in the first instance,  
> linguistically.
>  On this theory of the case, the name “Chedorlaomer” should make  
> sense both
> in Hebrew and in Ugaritic, and should convey a dark, sinister image  
> of a ruler
> who may be plunging Canaan into a terrible war involving the  
> dreaded Hittites.
>
> “Chedorlaomer” is kaf-dalet-resh-lamed-ayin-mem-resh or KDRL(MR.   
> If we use “
> Ao” to symbolize the ayin, per the usual English transliteration of  
> this
> name, we have KDRLAoMR.
>
> In Hebrew, the name “Chedorlaomer” easily breaks down into the  
> following
> three Hebrew words:  kaf-dalet-resh + lamed + ayin-mem-resh/K-D-R +  
> L + Ao-M-R.
>
> 1.  K-D-R/kaf-dalet-resh
>
> Here is the BDB definition of K-D-R (kaf-dalet-resh):
>
> “Shoot or rush down (of hawk, star, etc.;  also of an attacking  
> force)…
> annoy, vex reprimand,…oftener be dark, gloomy, turbid, whence
> kaf-yod-dalet-vav-resh [K-I-D-U-R] seething tumult, of battle….”
>
> If we add in implied vowels, BDB gives us two more words here, as  
> follows:
>
> K-I-D-U-R/kaf-yod-dalet-vav-resh:  “onset, [as in] Job 15: 24, a  
> king ready
> for the onset” [which presumably means a king ready for the onset  
> of the
> seething tumult of war].
>
> K-D-U-R/kaf-dalet-vav-resh:  “ball…;  circle, cordon”.
>
> When we get to the Ugaritic analysis, we will see a similar range  
> of meanings
> of the Ugaritic word “kdr”.
>
> Thus K-D-R, as the first component of the name “Chedorlaomer”, can  
> be viewed
> as meaning “an attacking force rushing down like a hawk or vulture in
> vexatious, dark, gloomy, turbid seething tumult of battle”.
>
> If one wanted to castigate a northern Amorite ruler for threatening  
> to bring
> on a terrible war in a feared invasion of Canaan by the dreaded  
> Hittites, it
> is hard to imagine a better word in the entire Hebrew language than  
> K-D-R.
>
> 2.  L/lamed
>
> According to “The Vocabulary Guide to Biblical Hebrew” by Van Pelt and
> Pratico, L/lamed is the third most common word in the entire Hebrew  
> Bible.  It
> means “to, toward, for”, and can be used in a wide variety of  
> applications.  For
> example, in context it could mean “leading to”.
>
> Thus K-D-R + L could mean: “an attacking force rushing down like a  
> hawk or
> vulture in vexatious, dark, gloomy, turbid seething tumult of  
> battle [K-D-R],
> which leads to [L]”
>
> We are well on our way to understanding the name “Chedorlaomer” in  
> Hebrew.
>
> 3.  Ao-M-R/ayin-mem-resh
>
> BDB gives Ao-M-R/ayin-mem-resh both as a noun and as a verb.
>
> As a noun:  “sheaf (swath, row of fallen grain)”.
>
> Adding one implied vowel gives us Ao-M-I-R/ayin-mem-yod-resh:   
> “swath, row of
> fallen grain”.
>
> As a verb:  “deal tyrannically with…cherish enmity, rancour,  
> malice, plunge
> into a conflict”.
>
> The name “Gomorrah” also appears in chapter 14 of Genesis.  The  
> spelling of “
> Gomorrah” is simply Ao-M-R/ayin-mem-resh with an H/he added at the  
> end.  (The
> ayin is probably an archaic ghayin, though, hence the Septuagint’s  
> use of a G
> at the beginning of this name.)  Strong’s explains “Gomorrah” as  
> coming from
> Ao-M-R/ayin[ghayin]-mem-resh, and meaning “a (ruined) heap”.
>
> So Ao-M-R/ayin-mem-resh could mean “(the land) being dealt  
> tyrannically with,
> cherishing enmity and malice, and plunging (the land) into a  
> conflict (that
> will result in the land [of Canaan] becoming) a ruined heap”.
>
> 4.  Summary of Hebrew Meaning of the Name “Chedorlaomer”
>
> Based on the foregoing, the name “Chedorlaomer” could have the  
> following
> incredibly dark, gloomy meaning:
>
> “an attacking force rushing down like a hawk or vulture in  
> vexatious, dark,
> gloomy, turbid seething tumult of battle [K-D-R], which leads to  
> [L] (the land)
> being dealt tyrannically with, cherishing enmity and malice, and  
> plunging
> (the land) into a conflict (that will result in the land [of  
> Canaan] becoming) a
> ruined heap [Ao-M-R]”.
>
> Ironically, “Chedorlaomer” is routinely referred to as being a “grand”
> name.  True, it is a long name, containing 7 Hebrew letters.  But  
> on the foregoing
> analysis, “Chedorlaomer” is just about the worst name/nickname that  
> could be
> imagined in Hebrew.  As such, on the foregoing Hebrew analysis,  
> “Chedorlaomer”
>  is an ideal nickname for a northern pre-Hebrew to apply to the  
> historical
> princeling ruler of Ugarit whose actions brought the dreaded  
> Hittites into
> Lebanon, and as such gravely threatened the very existence of the  
> fledgling new
> Hebrews.
>
> Next up is to examine the name “Chedorlaomer” in Ugaritic.
>
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
>
>
>
>
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