[b-hebrew] HALOT Etymologies

Arnaud Fournet fournet.arnaud at wanadoo.fr
Mon Dec 6 11:56:02 EST 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: JimStinehart at aol.com
To: fournet.arnaud at wanadoo.fr ; leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il ; 
b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Monday, December 06, 2010 4:51 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] HALOT Etymologies

Prof. Yigal Levin and Dr. Fournet:

1.  Prof. Levin wrote:  “I'd also suggest that the name [BR$(] is a play on 
the word "Rasha'", "evil", befitting the king of evil Gomorra.”

The traditional view is that BR$( is a west Semitic name, meaning “In 
Wickedness”, or per Gesenius, “Son of Iniquity”, or per HALOT, 
“Arabic...ugly”.  Likewise, the traditional view of the immediately 
preceding name, BR(, is that it is a west Semitic name meaning “In Evil”, or 
per Gesenius “Son of Evil”, or per HALOT, “Arabic…to triumph”.  But there 
was no Arabic in the Patriarchal Age, and BR( is not associated with 
“triumph”.  As to these names allegedly being highly pejorative [the 
traditional view], what if one of Prof. Levin’s students were to ask this 
BR$ appears to be a variant form of Semitic Root *B_R "powerful, lord".

Why would the great Patriarch Abraham, after leading a heroic military 
mission way up north to Syria to rescue Lot and Lot’s family from the four 
evil attacking rulers, be portrayed as turning over Lot and Lot’s family to 
a ruler whose name in west Semitic, being Abraham’s native language, means 
“In Evil”?  That does not seem sensible at all.  It is not until much later, 
in chapters 18 and 19 of Genesis, that Sodom and Gomorrah go over to the 
dark side, and note how their leaders in chapter 14 of Genesis, BR( and 
BR$(, are notably absent in chapters 18 and 19.  Besides, historically we 
know that in Year 14, a league of 5 Hurrian princelings was smashed by four 
attacking rulers in a valley of fields (the Orontes River Valley in western 
Syria) that is near a salt sea (the Mediterranean Sea) and that has pits, 
pits of bitumen (that was sold to Ugarit for its great sailing ships).  So 
shouldn’t we at least  a-s-k  if BR( is a dead ringer for the best-known 
Hurrian common word of all time, that effectively means “(Hurrian) 
As emphasized in a previous mail,
this supposedly Hurrian word is a Semitic borrowing.

2.  Dr. Fournet, let’s consider now the expected early Biblical Hebrew 
defective spelling of eb-ri, literally meaning “lord” or “king”, but 
effectively meaning “(Hurrian) princeling”, being one of the very few 
Hurrian common words that most early Hebrews would be expected to have 
known.  In my view there are 10 Hurrian names in the Patriarchal narratives 
that have an ayin.  In all 10 cases, that ayin is a generic vowel indicator 
for the Hurrian vowels A or E or I.
This idea makes little sense.

Thus KN(N [meaning “Canaan”] makes perfect sense if the ayin is the Hurrian 
vowel A, as the name then is kina + -N, with kina being the root of the 
Hurrian word for “purple”.  [We also know that both Phoenician and Punic 
used ayin to represent such vowels in names.]  On that basis, how would 
eb-ri be spelled in Genesis?  The first vowel would not be represented, 
because the Hebrews would have viewed it as being merely prosthetic.  But BR 
won’t do, because that’s the Hebrew word for “corn” at Genesis 41: 35, 49. 
So the expected early Biblical Hebrew defective spelling of the best-known 
Hurrian common word of all time is exactly what we see in the received text 
of Genesis 14: 2:  BR(.  The final ayin there represents the Hurrian vowel 
I, and shows that this is a two-syllable Hurrian word, not bar/BR in Hebrew.
As a matter of fact,
it seems Hebrew has as a word )abiYr "lord, ruler", does it not?

Arnaud Fournet

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