[b-hebrew] Hebron: The Linguistic Search for the Patriarchs' Bronze Age "Hebron"
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Oct 9 17:10:41 EDT 2008
Karl W. Randolph:
You wrote: “I just took at random a dozen words ending in -WN:
$RYWN mail (a type of armor)
)BDWN making lost
)BYWN needy person
)GMWN rush, marsh reed
It is clear from this list that the suffix -WN does not mean ‘place’.”
This is an important issue to discuss on the b-hebrew list. I maintain that –
WN means “place” when it appears at the end of a geographical place name.
In those cases, -WN is a suffix meaning “place”, and is not part of the root
word. I do not dispute that words that are not geographical place names may
end in WN. What I am asserting, rather, is that geographical place names, like “
Hebron” and “Sharon”, that end in –WN feature a root plus the suffix –
WN, where the final WN means “place”.
What is your analysis of the geographical place name “Hebron”/XBRWN? As you
are probably well aware, the standard analysis is that XBR/“Hebr” is the
root, meaning “binding friendship”, “alliance”, etc., to which has been added
the suffix –WN/“on”, which effectively means “place”. Thus on the standard
analysis, “Hebron” means “alliance place” or “Binding Friendship place”.
XBRWN = XBR + WN. How else would you propose to explain the WN at the end of
the geographical place name “Hebron”?
2. The Sharon (Plain)
I set forth the standard analysis of the geographical place name “the Sharon
(Plain)”. The root is Y$R, meaning “level”, to which has been added –WN as
a suffix meaning “place”. A prefix has also been added, H/he, meaning “the”
, and that prefix “swallows” the initial yod/Y, resulting in H$RWN: “the
(Thank you so much for correctly pointing out that at I Chronicles 5: 16, the
Hebrew word “Sharon” appears without he/H/“the” preceding it. I had
improperly relied on the statement by Gesenius as to “Sharon” that “every where
with the article [he/H]”. I now see that such is not always the case. But in
the following cases, “Sharon” is preceded by he/H/“the”, being the majority of
the seven appearances of this word in the Bible: Song of Solomon 2: 1;
Isaiah 33: 9; Isaiah 35: 2; Isaiah 65: 10.)
For our purposes here, it seems clear that the WN at the end of the
geographical place name “Sharon” is a suffix meaning “place”. H$RWN = H + (Y)$R +
WN = “the level place”. Do you disagree?
Joshua 11: 1 and Joshua 19: 15 refer to “Shimron”
/shin-mem-resh-vav-nun/$MRWN as being a city. The standard analysis of this city name is that it starts
with the common Hebrew verb $MR, meaning “to keep, watch or observe”, and
then WN is added at the end as a suffix, which in the case of a geographical
place name means “place”. That is one standard way of turning a verb into a
geographical place name: add on –WN as a suffix meaning “place”. I realize that
either -WN or just -N, as a suffix added to $MR, also produces a person’s
name, called “Shimron”. So I am not saying that WN at the end of a word always
means “place”. But I am saying that –WN at the end of a geographical place
name always is a suffix that means “place”, and is rarely part of the root
“Ashkelon” is aleph-shin-qof-lamed-vav-nun/)$QLVN. This city name may
likely be of non-Hebrew derivation. It is a Philistine city. Gesenius opines: “
perhaps ‘migration’ from the word $QL, Aram. to migrate”. Even if the
underlying root word may be disputed or conjectural, the one thing that seems clear
is that –WN is a standard suffix for a geographical place name like this,
5. Mt. Hermon
“Hermon”, being a geographical place name for a famous mountain, is XRMWN.
We had a long discussion about that word on another thread. But I believe the
standard analysis is that XRMWN = XRM + WN, where XRM means “consecrated”,
and WN is a suffix meaning “place”. On that standard analysis (which I myself
see as being only one of several layers of meaning of “Hermon”), “Hermon”
means “consecrated place” (and hence can mean “sanctuary”).
6. Common Ending of City Names in Canaan
On another thread, I listed 19 names of cities in ancient Canaan that end
with “-on” in their English translations. In fact, that is the most common
ending for a city name in ancient Canaan. When part of a city name, I see the
ending –on as usually, and perhaps always, being a suffix meaning “place”. But
it is not only city names. “Sharon” and “Hermon” are important instances of
a WN ending where the –WN is a suffix on a geographical place name meaning “
I do not deny that in words that are not geographical place names, a WN
ending is not a suffix meaning “place”. But I continue to assert that in
geographical place names, -WN is a routine, generic suffix that means “place”. One
of the important things about that is that in trying to determine the
underlying meaning of a geographical place name such as “Hebron”/XBRWN, the –WN ending
can usually be ignored completely. (“Hermon” may be a rare exception to
that rule, but that is a controversial case.) In most cases, one simply lops off
the final WN, and then looks at what is left as being either the root, or as
being a prefix + root, to which the standard –WN suffix has been added,
meaning “place” in a geographical place name.
In particular, I see the –WN at the end of each of “the Sharon (Plain)” and “
Hebron” as meaning “place”. Do you have a different analysis of either of
those two geographical place names?
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