[b-hebrew] What Does the Name "Hebron" Mean?

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Sep 16 12:45:36 EDT 2008

What Does the Name “Hebron” Mean?
1.  “Hebron” = The Binding Friendship Place
The conventional interpretation of “Hebron” correctly identifies its main, 
and most obvious, meaning.  
“Hebron” = heth-bet-resh-vav-nun = XBRWN = XBR + WN = “Binding Friendship” 
[XBR = “association”, etc.] “place” [-WN]
(a)     This meaning fits chapter 14 of Genesis perfectly, as “Hebron”/“the 
Binding Friendship place” is where Abraham has a binding 
friendship/confederate relationship/covenant with certain Amorites, who join Abraham in rescuing 
Lot way up north.  Genesis 14: 13
(b)    Note also that nun/N or vav-nun/WN as a suffix means “place”.
So far, so good, but we’re just getting started.
2.  “Hebron” = The Hebrew Place
A heth [X] sounds something like a he [H].  That is why both such Hebrew 
letters are usually transliterated into English as an H.  Also, a heth [X] is one 
of three guttural sounds in Hebrew, which have no exact equivalent in English, 
with the other two gutturals being an ayin [(] and an aleph [)].  The 
combination he-ayin [H(] may have had almost the same sound as a heth [X].  At least, 
the sound would have been somewhat similar.  Puns are usually based on 
similar sounds, not on identical sounds.  Consequently, for punning purposes, a heth 
[X] could be used to represent a he-ayin [H(].
On the basis of that similar sound, XBR-WN/Hebr-on could be viewed as 
representing H(BR-WN, since the sounds are similar.  That in turn produces H + (BR + 
WN, which means "the Hebrew place".  He [H] means "the".  Ayin-bet-resh [(BR] 
is the entire root of ayin-bet-resh-yod [(BRY], which means "Hebrew".  Vav-nun 
[WN] is a suffix meaning "place".
 “Hebron” = XBRWN = H(BRWN = H + (BR + WN = “the” [H] “Hebrew” [(BR = 
(BRY] “place” (-WN)
Or to put it the other way around, if one wanted to say "the Hebrew place", 
while not using the standard spelling for such phrase, probably the closest one 
could get by sound to that phrase is "Hebron" (where heth [X] substitutes for 
he-ayin [H(]).  Accordingly, "Hebron" works perfectly as a pun meaning "the 
Hebrew place".
Hebron certainly is “the Hebrew place”, since Hebron is where Abraham the “
Hebrew” settles for years after splitting with his nephew Lot.  Genesis 14: 13 
is the first place in the Bible where the word “Hebrew” is used, as Abraham 
is explicitly said to be a “Hebrew”.
Note that Genesis 14: 13 does two things.  First, it confirms that the Hebron 
place will be “the Binding Friendship place”, as Hebron is where Abraham’s 
confederate relationship with certain Amorites is first disclosed.  Secondly, 
Genesis 14: 13 is the first place where anyone is called a “Hebrew”, revealing 
the Hebron place to be “the Hebrew place”.  Which is just to say that we do 
not really understand why this place is called “Hebron” until we get to 
Genesis 14: 13.
Is all this just a “coincidence”?  I think not.  We know from the multiple 
puns on the names of Jacob’s 12 sons, some of which puns are openly disclosed 
and some of which puns are merely implied, that the author of the Patriarchal 
narratives is a master of using puns.  It stands to reason that the prominent 
name “Hebron” would have a series of meanings that fit in with what happens at 
that important location in the Patriarchal narratives.  One of those meanings 
is “the Binding Friendship place”, because Abraham has a “binding friendship”
 at the Hebron place with certain Amorites, who help him rescue Lot way up 
north.  But it seems unlikely that the name “Hebron” would only reference 
Abraham’s “binding friendship” with those Amorites.  The Hebron place is more 
important for being the place where the first Hebrews sojourn longer than any 
other place in the Patriarchal narratives.  The Hebron place is clearly “the 
Hebrew place”.  It is not a mere “coincidence” that if heth [X] is viewed as 
representing the similar-sounding he-ayin [H(], then “Hebron” means:  “the Hebrew 
place”.  The author of the Patriarchal narratives is using the name “Hebron” 
precisely in order to generate this double pun, that tells us two very 
important things about this locale:  (1) Hebron is where Abraham has a “binding 
friendship” with certain Amorites (who play an important role in rescuing Lot), and 
(2) Hebron is the place where the “Hebrews” will sojourn longer than any 
other place in Genesis.  On the basis of those two underlying meanings, “Hebron” 
is the perfect name for this important locale.
But there’s more.  There is a third pun that may be embodied in the name “
Hebron”, which is more controversial than the preceding two puns, and which is 
equally revealing.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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