[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
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.
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
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
5. You wrote: “Once again, your theory seems to have no basis in reasonable
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/
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