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

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Oct 10 18:31:28 EDT 2008

Dave Washburn:
1.  You wrote:  “No, the text says Haran died "in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the 
land of his birth."  That's Gen 1128, NIV.”
But you read Hebrew, so you know that’s a mistranslation.  As Yigal Levin 
confirmed on a thread long ago, “molodet” in Biblical Hebrew refers to one’s 
father’s descendants.  Only in modern Hebrew has the word “molodet” taken on the 
new meaning of “birth”.  Genesis 11: 28 says that Haran died at Ur of the 
Kasdim (not “Chaldeans”) in the presence of his father, in the land of his 
father’s descendants, that is, where Haran’s “molodet” were at the time.  Haran 
died on the “road” on a long “caravan” trip way out to Ur.
Note that the Patriarchal narratives  n-e-v-e-r  refer to Terakh’s or Abraham’
s “am” as being from Mesopotamia.  That’s because they weren’t.  The text 
always carefully refers to “molodet” in Mesopotamia, referencing the fact that 
Terakh and the “molodet” of Abraham went on a long one-time caravan trip way 
out to Ur.
If we pay close attention to the words “am” and “molodet” and where each 
such word is used in the text, we can see that Abraham’s “am”/ancestors are not 
portrayed as being from Mesopotamia.  Historically, we know that Abraham’s 
ancestors were not from Mesopotamia, but rather were indigenous to Canaan.  
Rather than contradicting secular history, the text shows a fine knowledge of 
secular history.  But we must pay close attention to the particular words that are 
used in the text:  “am” vs. “molodet”.  
2.  You wrote:  “[I]f we take the text at face value, this was his [Haran’s] 
name at birth and had nothing at all to do with any travel plans by Terah or 
anybody else.”
So you are arguing that none of the people’s names in the Patriarchal 
narratives foreshadow what their main role will be in the Patriarchal narratives?  
The name “Nahor” doesn’t foreshadow that Nahor will be the brother of Abraham 
who lives near the Euphrates River/r-i-v-e-r/nahar?  And the name “Haran” doesn
’t foreshadow that Haran will die on the “road” on a long “caravan” trip, 
where Haran sounds like Charan, which means “road” or “caravan”?  Are you 
going to tell me that the name “Sodom” does not mean “scorched” and that the 
name “Gomorrah” does not mean “a wasted heap”?  Is it just a “coincidence” 
that the first two letters of Abraham’s name spell “father”, and the first 
third of the Patriarchal narratives focus on Abraham’s monumental problems in 
attempting to “father” a son by beloved Sarah?  Why does YHWH give Abraham’s most 
important son the name “Isaac”, which means “laugh”?  Is it relevant that 
Sarah had initially “laughed” at the idea that in her old age, she might still 
be able to bear a son, Isaac (Genesis 18: 13, 15);  that Sarah then later “
laughs” with joy at Isaac’s birth (Genesis 21: 6);  and that still later, 
Ishmael “laughs” with his toddler younger half-brother Isaac in a manner that 
Sarah deems inappropriate, leading to the immediate exile of Ishmael and his 
mother, Hagar (Genesis 21: 9)?
Shall I go on?  Every single important name in the Patriarchal narratives has 
an important symbolic meaning, based on puns.  When you and Karl Randolph try 
to deny that basic, objective fact, I do not know quite what to say.  Both of 
you know Hebrew so well.  How can you possibly miss every one of these puns 
after puns after puns after unending puns? 
Most scholars recognize that every single important name in the text of the 
Patriarchal narratives has obvious symbolism.  If you close your eyes to all 
those many puns, you will not be able to follow what the author of the 
Patriarchal narratives is telling us.
3.  You wrote:  “Gen 48:22 says nothing at all about Shechem….”
Heavens, Genesis 48: 22 uses the identical word in unpointed text as “Shechem”
, used as the common noun “shechem”.  How can a pun be any clearer than 
that?  It’s the identical spelling in the original, unpointed text.
4.  You wrote:  “Hamor is described in Gen 34:2 as a "Hivite, not an Amorite. 
 You're still getting nowhere.”
As I explained before, “Hivite” is a made-up, non-historical pejorative 
nickname, that is shrewdly designed to claim that the expansionist-minded Amorites 
in Shechem were nefariously acting like the regional equivalent of the 
dreaded international menace at the time:  the classic Hittites.  Genesis 48: 22 is 
important in confirming that Hamor is actually “the Amorite”.
5.  You wrote:  “There is no need for these names [Nahor, Haran, Hamor, 
Hebron] to have any particular meaning.  They may or may not, but it really doesn't 
matter.  As for coincidence, I'm reminded of the Bible Code:  we can find 
most anything we want to find if we look hard enough and use enough imagination.” 
Each name makes perfect historical and textual sense, as I have shown, once 
one realizes that the Hebrew author is engaged in clever Hebrew wordplay in 
playing off heth/X against he/H.  Every single important proper name in the text 
has an important meaning.
Since you know Hebrew, you certainly know that Hebrew names, unlike English 
names, almost always have a definite meaning.  The Hebrew author of the 
Patriarchal narratives is not going to use names that have no meanings.  That is not 
the Hebrew way.
6.  You seem to be not recognizing any of the ubiquitous puns the Hebrew 
author uses throughout the text.  The discussion we should be having is why the 
author chose the names Nahor, Haran, and Hamor, and what those names are 
intended to mean.  The discussion we are actually having, though, involves you 
denying that those names have any particular, important meaning.
If you are going to deny that names like Nahor, Haran, Hamor, Sodom, 
Gomorrah, Abraham and Isaac have any particular meaning, with no puns being involved 
with such names, then of course I will not be able to convince you what the 
geographical place name “Hebron” means.  Sadly, that also means that I will not 
be able to convince you where the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” was actually located.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

**************New MapQuest Local shows what's happening at your destination.  
Dining, Movies, Events, News & more. Try it out 

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list