[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
You wrote: “I'm not sure where you got the idea that the H- prefix would
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$.
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