[b-hebrew] Hebron: The Linguistic Search for the Patriarchs' Bronze Age "Hebron"

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Oct 9 17:39:15 EDT 2008

Dave Washburn: 
You wrote:  “I'm not sure where you got the idea that the H- prefix would 
cause a 
 non-guttural to "drop out completely."  This is simply not the case.  There 
are two basic H- prefixes in biblical Hebrew, the article and the 
interrogative.  The interrogative has no effect at all on the consonant that follows it, 
while the article causes the following consonant to double, i.e. far from 
assimilating or dropping out, it actually strengthens.  This is why we have no less 
than 35 examples of HY$R ranging from Deuteronomy to Micah.  So this 
hypothesis breaks down at the very first step, and anything built on this step or 
corollary to it is likewise invalid.”
1.  Before we get to your examples of HY$R, let me first point out that when 
H/he is not a prefix (or separate word) meaning “the”, there are only 12 
Hebrew words in one of the dictionaries I consult where H/he is followed by Y/yod, 
and several of those words are of foreign origin.  Thus HY/he-yod at the 
beginning of  Hebrew word, where the H/he does not mean “the”, is not very 
common, although there are 12 words like that.  I know you are not referring to that 
situation, but it’s perhaps worth noting in passing.  Those 12 words do not 
include a single geographical place name, and it is geographical places names 
that are my concern.  Moreover, not a single such word begins with HY$, which 
is the case we are discussing in particular. 
2.  What you are referring to is Y$R, which in 35 cases, you assert, is 
preceded by the word H/he meaning “the”.  In particular, I think you are 
referencing Deuteronomy 6: 18, where Y$R means “straight” or “right” or “right (thing)
”.  Deuteronomy 6: 18 admonishes us to do H + Y$R or HY$R, that is, do “the 
right (thing)”.  There the word/prefix/article H/he/“the” appears before a 
noun that begins with yod/Y, and the yod/Y remains in place, not being swallowed 
by the he/H.  I presume that you have identified 34 additional instances like 
this.  Is that what you are saying?
I should not have used the word “swallowed”.  I stand corrected.  What I 
should have said is that in geographical places names, unlike in other instances, 
a he/H + a root word that begins with a yod/Y may result in the root word 
being abridged, and losing the yod/Y.  That is the standard analysis of how the 
word “the Sharon (Plain)” came about.
Thank you for pointing out that this is not a general grammatical phenomenon 
in Biblical Hebrew.  But I do see it as happening with H + Y$R + WN coming out 
as H$RWN, where we are dealing with a geographical place name. 
3.  I am quite sure that there is not a single Hebrew geographical place name 
in the entire Bible whose first two letters are he-yod/HY, where the he/H 
does not mean “the”.
Moving now to he/H as a prefix in a geographical place name, I see no such 
example where the first two letters in the root word are Y$.  Nehemiah 11: 26 
has Y$V( as a geographical place name, but it is not preceded by a he/H.  II 
Chronicles 13: 19 has Y$NH as a geographical place name, but it is not preceded 
by a he/H.
I see no other geographical place names that begin with Y$.  So I see not a 
single instance in the Hebrew Bible where a he/H precedes a geographical place 
name that starts Y$.  As stated in my post, Y$R is generally seen as being the 
root of “the Sharon (Plain)”/H + $RWN or H$RWN, where the yod/Y has 
Of course, “Israel” starts with Y&.  The word “Israel” appears almost 2,500 
times in the Bible, so I cannot check every instance.  However, in the 
instances I looked at, I did not see “Israel” preceded by the word he/H/“the”.
So if “the Sharon (Plain)” were spelled HY$RWN, that might be the only 
geographical place name in the Bible where H/he precedes Y$.
My point is that a geographical place name is different than the Hebrew 
common word Y$R.  HY$R is commonplace as meaning “the right (thing)”.  I agree.  
But by stark contrast, I myself have not seen any geographical place name that 
starts HY$, even if the H/he is a separate word meaning “the”:  H + Y$.  I 
may have overlooked it, but I have never seen it.
Do you know of a geographical place name whose first three letters are HY$ or 
H +Y$?  If not, I do not see how your example of HY$R invalidates my point, 
since HY$R is not a geographical place name.
4.  Do you disagree with the standard explanation of “the Sharon (Plain)” 
that I set forth?  Here is how Gesenius explains it:
“$RWN, for Y$RWN, ‘plain’, ‘plain country’, every where with the article H”
Strong’s is comparable, explaining $RWN as “prob. abridged from 3474”, where 
3474 is Y$R.
How do you explain the derivation of $RWN, which often appears as H$RWN?  Are 
you saying that both Gesenius and Strong’s are in error here?
I should not have used the word “swallowed”, which is misleading.  What I 
should have said is that in the geographical place name “the Sharon (Place)”, 
the yod/Y at the beginning of the root word gets dropped, and that word is 
often preceded by he/H meaning “the”.
5.  Of course, my real concern is the geographical place name “Hebron”, 
which begins with a heth/X, not a he/H.  But if you think that I misunderstand 
what is going on regarding H + Y$R + WN  =  H$RWN  =  “the level place”  =  “the 
Sharon (Plain)”, please let me know.  I see the root as being Y$R, where the 
Y/yod has disappeared in this geographical place name, as the H/he prefix is 
added.  I myself know of no geographical place name whose first three letters 
are either H + Y$ or HY$.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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