[b-hebrew] Hurrian and the Masoretic Text

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Apr 28 09:49:28 EDT 2010

To my statement, “Karl, about the only part of the Bible that university 
scholars concede is very old, pre-dating the 1st millennium BCE, is chapter 14 
of Genesis”, you responded:
“Again, who are they that we should follow them? This sentence is an appeal

to authority logical fallacy. Secondly, looking at the history of why they

make that claim shows that such a claim is ideologically driven, and if I

reject their ideology (which I do), the whole superstructure of their

theories tumble down with that rejection.”
In fact, the scholarly view that chapter 14 of Genesis is much older than 
most of the rest of the Bible is largely driven by Biblical Hebrew language 
issues, which is your specialty.  Consider the following mid-2nd millennium 
BCE language aspects of chapter 14 of Genesis:
The word XNYKYW at Genesis 14: 14, referring to Abraham's armed retainers, 
is not present in the secular record after the 15th century BCE, and is 
never used elsewhere in the Bible.  “The Battle of the Kings  …It is now 
recognized that this entire account is based upon a document of great antiquity.  …
The language [of chapter 14 of Genesis] contains some unique or very rare 
words and phrases.  One such, hanikh [XNYK] (v. 14), meaning ‘an 
armed-retainer’, appears but this once in the Bible, but is found in the Egyptian 
execration texts of the nineteenth-eighteenth centuries B.C.E. and in a 
fifteenth-century B.C.E. cuneiform inscription from Taanach, Israel.”  Nahum M. Sarna, 
“Understanding Genesis” (1966), Schocken Books, New York, at pp. 110-111.
2.  %DYM
The word %DYM only appears in chapter 14 of Genesis.  Though there are 
various theories of this word, probably the majority view is that it is an 
archaic plural form, the singular of which is %D, meaning “field”, which in turn 
is based on the verbal root %DD, meaning “to till”.  Hence %DYM likely 
means “tilled fields”.
You have argued a different interpretation of this word.  But one thing 
that is clear is that it only appears in chapter 14 of Genesis, nowhere else in 
the Bible.
3.  HRRM
HRRM is an archaic plural of HR or HRR that is only found in the Bible at 
Genesis 14: 6.  It is a 4-letter plural word, and as such has a different 
meaning than the 2-letter singular word HR.  HR means “Mt.”, and is often 
followed by the proper name of a particular mountain.  By sharp contrast, HRRM 
is a plural word meaning “hill country”.  No plural form of HR or HRR, 
including the non-archaic plural forms, is ever followed by the name of a 
specific mountain.
The people who are referenced at Genesis 14: 6 immediately after HRRM are 
the “Horites” -- that is, the historical  H-u-r-r-i-a-n-s  of the Late 
Bronze Age Transjordan.
4.  318
O.K., this is a number, not a word, but it’s redolent of the 14th century 
(a)  “[T]he number 318 in [Genesis] 14: 14 is analogous to the number of 
Hurrian handmaids plus the bride [from the Hurrian state of Naharim/Mitanni] 
in an Egyptian scarab of Amenhotep III”.  Gary A. Rendsburg, “The Redaction 
of Genesis” (1986), Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, Indiana, at p. 116.
Please note the  H-u-r-r-i-a-n  connection there. 
(b)  The number 318 is the number of taxpaying citizens in Jerusalem (“
porters”) referenced at Amarna Letter EA 287: 53-59 by Abdi-Heba, per the 
original reading of Knudtzon referenced in footnote 18 at p. 330 of William L. 
Moran, “The Amarna Letters”, English-language edition (1992), The Johns 
Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
Note that “Heba” is a Hurrian goddess.  Are we beginning to see a trend 
here?  Think Hurrian.
That’s a vintage Hurrian name, meaning “the wisdom of nine”.  The Hurrians 
were only prominent in the Late Bronze Age, not earlier or later.
6.  $N(R
There’s another vintage Hurrian name, referring to the Hurrian “brothers”
/seni -- small-time Hurrian kings -- throughout Syria in the Late Bronze Age. 
True, scholars have never done a Hurrian analysis of HCCN TMR or $N(R.  But 
they do at times recognize the connection of the number 318 to the 
Hurrians, per #4(a) above.  And the Hurrians are prominent in #7 below as well.
7.  “A String or Sandal Lace”
Chapter 14 of Genesis concludes in vintage Ugaritic fashion (strongly 
influenced by the Hittites), circa the end of the first year of the Great Syrian 
War in the mid-14th century BCE, when Abraham promises not to take either “a 
string or a sandal lace” for returning Sodom’s looted goods:
“[E.A.] Speiser correctly observed that the phrase…neither a string nor a 
sandal lace [at the end of chapter 14 of Genesis] is based on Near Eastern 
formulae….  We now have a text from Ugarit remarkably close to Gen 14 in some 
ways.  Niqmaddu, [the Amorite] king of [the Amorite state of] Ugarit [on 
the west coast of Syria], has been plundered by his enemies [members of the 
league of 5 rebellious princelings].  His [newly-embraced] suzerain, the 
Hittite king Suppiluliuma, comes to his rescue and drives the invaders away.  In 
response Niqmaddu attempts to give Suppiluliuma a gift as a sign of his 
appreciation.  The text is damaged at this point, but may be restored to read as 
follows:  ‘Suppiluliuma, the Great King, saw the loyalty of Niqmaddu, and 
as far as what belongs to Ugarit…Suppiluliuma, the Great King, will not touch 
anything, be it straw or splinter….’  Abram appears to follow similar 
royal etiquette [at the end of chapter 14 of Genesis] in refusing anything from 
the king of Sodom [‘neither a string nor a sandal lace’] in return for his 
accomplishments.”  Victor P. Hamilton, “The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17” 
(1990), at p. 414.
That involved the Hittites oppressing the Amorites.  Now let’s see the same 
stylistic flash when the Hittites oppress the Hurrians.
Similarly, after the death of Hurrian King Tushratta and the Hittites’ 
complete victory in the Great Syrian War, “[i]n the historical prologue to the 
treaty between Suppiluliuma of Hatti and Mattiwaza of [the Hurrian state of] 
Mitanni, the Hittite overlord reminds his [Hurrian] vassal that…the Hittites 
had never taken from his property hamu or husabu…‘be it blade of straw or 
a splinter of wood’…!” Yochanan Muffs, “Abraham the Noble Warrior:  
Patriarchal Politics and Laws of War in Ancient Israel”, The Journal of Jewish 
Studies London, 1982, vol. 33, no. 1-2, at p. 84.
Note once again the  H-u-r-r-i-a-n  connection , a people who lived only in 
the Late Bronze Age, and who only lived  n-o-r-t-h  of the Dead Sea.
And from that same article by Muffs:  “[E]ach element of Genesis 14 has its 
exact counterpart in the laws of war and in the etiquette of booty 
restoration found sporadically in the [Late Bronze Age] international treaties of 
Boghazkoi [Hittites] and [the Amorite state of] Ugarit.”  At p. 82.
Amorites and Hurrians and the Late Bronze Age.  Chapter 14 of Genesis is 
all about the Amorites, the Hurrians, and the Late Bronze Age.  There’s nary a 
word in chapter 14 of Genesis about any people or place south of the Dead 
Sea.  In particular, the Amorites and the Hurrians lived exclusively north of 
the Dead Sea.  
*       *       *
Any author who could come up with all those mid-2nd millennium BCE words 
and styling has got to be a bona fide mid-2nd millennium BCE early Hebrew 
author.  Such an author would certainly have known that the Amorites were in 
Lebanon, not south of the Dead Sea.
Karl, don’t you think it’s strange that no university scholar has  e-v-e-r 
 looked north of the Dead Sea in evaluating Genesis 14: 6-7?  The key to 
re-establishing the pinpoint historical accuracy of the “four kings against 
five” at Genesis 14: 1-11 is to try to find at least one university scholar 
somewhere who is willing to take 20 minutes to look to Bronze Age historical 
inscriptions from  n-o-r-t-h  of the Dead Sea in evaluating Genesis 14: 6-7.  
Until we can get at least one university scholar to glance up north, 
college students will continue to be taught that there is a “total lack of any 
link with known Ancient Near Eastern sources” for the military conflict 
recorded in chapter 14 of Genesis.  Anson F. Rainey and R. Steven Notley, “The 
Sacred Bridge” (2006), CARTA Jerusalem, at p. 114.
Karl, the Achilles heel of the scholarly denial of the historicity of the “
four kings against five” is the underlying geography involved.  There were 
no Amorites south of the Dead Sea.  Both the ancient Hebrew author of chapter 
14 of Genesis, and today’s university professors, know that.  Ditto for the 
Hurrians.  All of Genesis 14: 6-7 (i) is fully historical, and (ii) is 
referring exclusively to peoples and places  n-o-r-t-h  of the Dead Sea.  
Chapter 14 of Genesis is redolent of the Amorites and the Hurrians out the wazzoo. 
 The Hurrians lived only in the Late Bronze Age, and both the Amorites and 
the Hurrians lived only  n-o-r-t-h  of the Dead Sea.
Karl, the scholarly view of the “four kings against five” is much,  
m-u-c-h  weaker than you imagine it to be.  In a composition as old as chapter 14 
of Genesis, it is  i-m-p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e  that the Amorites or Hurrians could 
be portrayed as living south of the Dead Sea.  No matter how many times, and 
how unanimously, university scholars say it’s so, it still ain’t so.  
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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