[b-hebrew] HALOT Etymologies

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Dec 6 10:51:47 EST 2010

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 question:
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) princeling”?
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.  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 
Note how perfectly the meaning fits with both the Biblical text and secular 
history.  The name is a Hurrian name effectively meaning “Hurrian princeling
”.  It is neutral, which fits the situation in chapter 14 of Genesis.  And 
the defeated league of 5 rebellious princelings in Year 14 historically was 
made up of “Hurrian princelings”.
3.   You again ask why Hurrian names in the Biblical text do not have the 
form of verb + name of famous pagan deity, or to use your language:  “The 

regular formation [of Hurrian names] is Verb+Noun.”  Please take a look at 
the 8 personal names of rulers at Genesis 14: 1-2.  What’s missing?  Not a 
single well-known deity’s name is there, even though most rulers’ names in 
the ancient world explicitly honored a pagan deity.  The early Hebrew author 
knew that the actual name of one of the 5 rebellious Hurrian princelings was 
Aki-Te$up, and he knew that one of the best-known Hurrian names was 
XuT-Te$up.  But it was against his religion to openly honor the name of a 
well-known pagan deity, something that never happens in the Patriarchal narratives.  
So the Hurrians are not called the XuT-Te$up people, but rather the generic 
theophoric -iYa is substituted:  XuT-iYa, which in defective spelling is 
XTY, the most commonly-used name for the Hurrians in Genesis.  Instead of 
Aki-Te$up, we get generic common words for the personal names of the rebellious 
Hurrian princelings:  (i) BR( literally means “lord”, and effectively means “
Hurrian princeling”;  (ii) BR$( literally means “lordship”, and 
effectively means “Hurrian princeling”;  (iii) $M-)BR literally means “hand of the 
lord”, and effectively means “Hurrian princeling”, and (iv) where $eni means “
brother”, $N)B literally means “my brother”, that is, “my fellow 
(Hurrian) princeling”, and so it too effectively means “Hurrian princeling”.  [Note 
the nice use of aleph there at the end of $eni, rather than ayin, because 
as you know, when the -b suffix is added, the I unexpectedly changes to A in 
Hurrian.  So whereas $eni + the comitative suffix is $N(-R at Genesis 14: 1 
(meaning “land of the Hurrian brothers”, that is, Syria), $ena-b at Genesis 
14: 2 is $N)B.  Nice!] 
Note that all four names of the rebellious princelings are simple plays on 
the two best-known Hurrian common words of all time, eb-ri and $e-ni.  All 
the early Hebrews could pick up on those two very basic Hurrian common words, 
and know that the historical league of 5 rebellious Hurrian princelings in 
Year 14 in the Orontes River Valley was being referenced.  For religious 
reasons, the Hebrew author refused to write down Aki-Te$up.  Rather, one sees 
four Hurrian common words, all four of which effectively mean “Hurrian 
princeling”.  That’s the utter brilliance of the early Hebrew author of the 
Patriarchal narratives.

4.  By the way, did either of you two guys check out that ultra-spectacular 
13-letter match of kdr l (mr mlk (lm as a Ugaritic curse?  You see, it was 
the king of Ugarit who initiated the Great Syrian War in western Syria.  So 
we should expect a highly pejorative nickname for Niqmaddu II at Genesis 14: 
1, 9, as well as a highly pejorative nickname for Suppiluliuma I that in 
context effectively calls the mighty Hittite king “Murderer”.  By contrast, 
it makes no sense at all for members of the defeated league of 5 rebellious 
Hurrian princelings, whose side Abraham is on in chapter 14 of Genesis in 
opposing the evil 4 attacking rulers, to be thought to have highly pejorative 
names.  No way!
The pinpoint historical accuracy of Genesis 14: 1-11 in the historical 
context of Year 14 [of Akhenaten’s troubled 17-year reign] is truly stunning.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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