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

pporta at oham.net pporta at oham.net
Fri Oct 10 01:55:03 EDT 2008

> 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?

> Jim Stinehart



Let us take the English "Liverpool", a city noun.
Its literal meaning is "the pool of liver", namely a pond or puddle of the 
important body part that is called "liver".
It is a name having its own meaning which has then been applied or given to 
a particular town.
It is the same thing for suffix -WN.
Suffix -WN has a range of meanings:
-a noun that means the fulfilment of the basic concept
-a diminutive of a noun
-an adjective
(If you're interested, I can provide samples of each)

But, generally speaking, it has not the meaning "place".
So HEBRON means "(the) fulfilment of the friendship" and "SHARON" means 
probably "(the) fulfilment of the song" (shyr = song) the same as "SASON" 
means rejoicing, gladness (Psa 45:8) (sys = rejoice).
Now, once we have the noun that ends -WN.... then we apply it to cities, 
persons and so on.

-Shim'on, Simeon, ------- applies to persons (Ex 1:3)
-and Shimron applies, as you say, to a person (Gn 46:13) and to a place (Js 
11:1) as well.

But... of itself or by itself... the suffix -WN does not mean "place" (and 
this is the point where I think you're mistaken). The truth is that 
sometimes a noun ending -WN is given --or was given--  to a particular place 
(or to a human or to an animal or to a thing...): in itself it bears no 
meaning of "place".

My best regards.

Pere Porta
Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain)

But... maybe could we say that every noun ending -pool is a city noun?

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