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

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Oct 9 17:44:03 EDT 2008


George Athas:
 
1.  You wrote:  “Firstly, no there is no possibility in the text that ‘Hebron
’ means ‘not Hebron’.”
 
I am surprised that you would set forth such an argument.  The leading 
scholar in the field, Jeffrey Chadwick, is concerned about this very issue, instead 
of blithely assuming that there could not possibly be any issue here at all.  
On September 30, 2008, I received the following very informative E-mail from 
Prof. Chadwick (for which I am indeed truly appreciative), who in response to 
the question I had asked him clarified that, in his opinion, there is no city 
name “Hebron” attested in secular history prior to the Iron Age:
 
“Dear Jim --
 
 I have no knowledge of any documents prior to the Iron Age which mention 
Hebron (hbrn) by name, specifically or generally referring to the site we 
generally identify as ancient Hebron. Of course, we have the biblical references, 
which are generally dated to the composition of the biblical record in Iron Age 
II, and we have the name Hebron on jar seals from the ancient Judean monarchy 
(the LMLK HBRN seals).  But I know of no other references, particularly in 
Mesopotamian or Egyptian sources dating to any time in the Bronze Age periods, 
which mention Hebron.  If, by chance, you know of any, I'd appreciate you letting 
me know.  In my opinion, the site of Hebron referred to in the Genesis 
patriarchal narratives was indeed the site we know as Tell Rumeide.
 
 Here's wishing you all the best.
 
 Jeff
 
 Jeffrey R. Chadwick
 Jerusalem Center Professor of Archaeology and Near Eastern Studies,
 Associate Professor of Religious Studies, 
 Brigham Young University”
 
We see that although Prof. Chadwick thinks that the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” is 
the city of Hebron south of Jerusalem, (i) he is concerned by the fact that 
the city name “Hebron” does not show up in the secular historical record prior 
to the 8th century BCE or so, and (ii) he is open to looking at possible 
earlier instances of the name “Hebron”.
 
How can scholarship advance if we assume, with zero investigation, that the 
Patriarchs’ “Hebron” is the 8th century BCE city name “Hebron”, and is 
located at the same place as the city of Hebron?  I myself am very excited about 
investigating this issue.
 
2.  You wrote:  “The suggestion is special pleading because your case has no 
legs. It sounds to me like arguing, ‘Well, let's suppose that the words don't 
indicate what they seem to indicate, and that an ambidextrous, blue-eyed 
albino midget from the Yukon, with a pet fish called Winona, wrote the text...’"
 
I guess that’s good sarcasm.  But it shows no appreciation for the scholarly 
concern that there is currently thought to be no pre-8th century BCE 
attestation of the name “Hebron”.
 
3.  You wrote:  “Secondly, if "Hebron" as a proper noun does not appear until 
late, all that tells us is that the author of the patriarchal narratives 
lived at a late date -- certainly much later than the Amarna period.”
 
Yes, I actually agree with that completely.  That is why it is so important 
to me to be able to show Late Bronze Age inscriptions for all 15 of the 15 
places where the Patriarchs are portrayed as sojourning in Canaan.
 
So you and I do agree that it is a huge issue whether the geographical place 
name “Hebron” can be shown to date to the Late Bronze Age.  Yes, it’s a huge 
issue, that’s for sure.  That’s why I am so excited to be investigating it.
 
4.  You wrote:  “Thirdly, the -WN ending is recognised as a substantival 
diminutive ending, a bit like adding "-y" to English words. It can be found in 
place names, but it doesn't mean "place" -- that's not part of its semantics. 
That's why you find it also on a whole range of non-place terms, such as those 
Karl listed.”
 
See my response to Karl Randolph’s helpful substantive criticism of my post.  
I am well aware of the fact that WN appears at the end of many words and 
names that are not geographical place names.  In those instances, the WN does not 
mean “place”.  But as far as I have been able to determine, in each case 
where WN appears at the end of a geographical place name, the –WN is a suffix 
meaning “place”, that is not part of the root.  If you have an example to offer 
that contradicts that, being a geographical place name where –WN at the end 
does not mean “place”, please set if forth.  I come here to learn, like everyone 
else.
 
5.  You wrote:  “Once again, your theory seems to have no basis in reasonable 
logic.”
 
It is very logical that Abraham would be portrayed as sojourning primarily in 
the finest pastureland in Canaan, the Aijalon Valley.  It is very logical 
that item #99 on the mid-15th century BCE Thutmosis III list of places in Canaan, 
namely “JBR”, may well be a reference to the Aijalon Valley.  How would the 
first Hebrew, living in the mid-14th century BCE, turn JBR into a proper 
geographical place name in Biblical Hebrew, in order to reference the Aijalon 
Valley in Biblical Hebrew?  Following the example of how most scholars think the 
geographical place name “the Sharon (Plain)” came about, here is the way to do 
it.  First add H/he at the beginning, meaning “the”.  Then add –WN at the 
end, meaning “place”.  The “first draft” of this new Hebrew geographical place 
name is then H + )BR + WN, meaning “the well-watered meadowland place”.  So 
far, so good.  But then in order to create, simultaneously, a beautiful pun 
that would also mean “the Hebrew place”, since Abraham “the Hebrew” should be 
portrayed as sojourning at “the Hebrew place”, in the second, final draft the 
H + ) is deftly replaced by a heth/X.  Now that initial heth/X can have three 
possible meanings, neatly creating three separate puns.  X can mean X.  X can 
mean H + ).  And X can mean H + (.  So the name comes out as “Hebron”/XBRWN.  
That name has three different underlying meanings, based on those three puns: 
 (1) “Binding Friendship place” [X= X];   a-n-d  (2) “the well-watered 
meadowland place” [X = H)];  a-n-d  (3) “the Hebrew place” [X = H + (].  It’s a 
brilliant set of puns, created by the greatest Hebrew punster of all time, the 
early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives.  And it’s all based on the 
mid-15th century BCE pre-Hebrew west Semitic word for the Aijalon Valley:  “JBR
”.
 
In order to make sure we catch on to the fact that heth/X in a proper name 
may mean he/H or he/H + aleph as a pun, one of the very first names in the 
Patriarchal narratives is Nachor/NXWR, which is a pun on nahar/NHR, where heth/X 
represents he/H.  Abraham’s middle brother is in effect called “Mr. River”, 
referencing the fact that he stays behind at the Euphrates River when Abraham 
goes to Canaan.  Of even greater relevance is “Chamor”.  XMWR = XMR = H + )MR = “
the Amorite”.  Here heth/X represents he-aleph/H), just as is the case in the 
original pun embodied in the name “Hebron”, where XBRWN = H + )BR + WN.  In 
all three of these cases, X = X gives us only a secondary meaning, whereas X = 
H or X + H) gives us the primary meaning, as a pun.
 
Given the inherent logic of Abraham sojourning in a “well-watered meadowland”
, or JBR, I humbly reject your characterization that the above theory of mine 
has “no basis in reasonable logic”.  H + JBR + WN  =  H + )BR + WN  =  XBRWN/
“Hebron”.
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois




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