[b-hebrew] Kadesh Barnea

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Dec 16 09:37:59 EST 2010


Kadesh Barnea
 
Our moderator, Yigal Levin, “wrote the book” on Kadesh Barnea:  “Numbers 
34: 2-12, The Boundaries of the Land of Canaan, and the Empire of Necho”, 
Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society 30 (2006).  Based on that article, 
here’s how “Barnea”, that is, BRN(, is explained at p. 63:  
 
“While the name ‘Kadesh’ obviously refers to a sanctuary or holy spot, the 
meaning of the appellation ‘Barnea’ is not clear.  For several innovative 
suggestions see H.C. Trumbull, ‘Kadesh Barnea: Its Importance and Probable 
Site’ (London, 1884), 24-25.”
 
If you’re wondering what passes for being “innovative suggestions” as of 
1884 regarding an author who is described as being “Editor of ‘The Sunday 
School Times’", here it is:  “Not only does the name " Kadesh " (" Holy ") 
seem to have been gained by the abiding there of the tabernacle; but the cog- 
iiomeu " Barnea " is thought by many to have been given, in consequence of 
the sentence of dispersion there passed upon the Israelites. Simon would 
derive this word from bar " desert/ and nca " wandering ; " rendering it, " 
Desert of the Wandering." Fiirst and others give a similar origin, but would 
take bar in its later signification of "son." Jerome held this latter view, and 
rendered " Barnea " " Son of Change," corresponding to the idea of "Bed 
wy." Others, again, think that "Barnea" was an earlier name for the locality; 
or, that it was the name of a prominent place in the neighborhood of Kadesh. 
Whatever may have been its signification, that name became subordinate to 
the name which memorialized the abiding there of God’s people with the sacred 
tabernacle.”  
http://www.bible.ca/archeology/bible-archeology-exodus-kadesh-barnea-henry-clay-trumbull-1884ad.htm 
 
Is that rambling 1884 guesswork the best that today’s university scholars 
can come up with as an explanation of BRN(/Barnea?  Rather than relying on 
that 1884 analysis (before the Hurrian language was known), and concluding 
that “the appellation ‘Barnea’ is not clear”, shouldn’t we take a glance at 
Dr. Fournet’s website?
 
1.  Numbers Has Hurrian Words
 
The first place where Kadesh Barnea appears in the Bible is in Numbers, at 
Numbers 32: 8; 34: 4.  Numbers 13: 22 refers to TLMY as a child of Anak.  
Many scholars see TLMY as a Hurrian word, talmi, meaning “great, big”, per p. 
102 of Dr. Fournet’s website.  So if we see a word in Numbers that does not 
make sense on a Semitic basis, we should ask if it may be a Hurrian word.
 

2.  Meaning:  “Holy Spot” vs. “Temple”
 
Prof. Levin’s article says that QD$ means “sanctuary or holy spot”.  Or it 
could mean “a sacred, consecrated place”.  That sounds a lot like a “temple
”.  So we should ask what the Hurrian word is for “temple”.
 
3.  BRN( = burni
 
P. 85 of Dr. Fournet’s website says that “burni” is the Hurrian word for “
temple”.  As to the Hebrew spelling, note that on 11 occasions in the 
Patriarchal narratives, a Hebrew ayin is used to represent a Hurrian vowel.  When 
not in initial position, that ayin always signifies a distinct syllable 
consisting of consonant-vowel.  So the last two letters here are -ni.  The 
first vowel isn’t recorded in this defective Hebrew spelling, but it could be U. 
 So BRN( = burni.  It’s a letter-for-letter spelling match.  And it has 
almost the same meaning as QD$.  What’s more, it’s found in a place (Numbers) 
where other Hurrian words are found.
 
4.  The Choice
 
So the two competing theories here as to the meaning of “Barnea” are as 
follows:
 
(a)  What Is Taught at University.  “While the name ‘Kadesh’ obviously 
refers to a sanctuary or holy spot, the meaning of the appellation ‘Barnea’ is 
not clear.  For several innovative suggestions see H.C. Trumbull, ‘Kadesh 
Barnea: Its Importance and Probable Site’ (London, 1884), 24-25.”
 
(b)  Hurrian Analysis.  BRN( = burni, which per p. 85 of Dr. Fournet’s 2010 
website is the Hurrian word for “temple”.  (i) The meaning is similar to 
the meaning of QD$;  (ii) in the Hebrew rendering of a Hurrian word, an ayin 
can represent a Hurrian vowel, so it’s an exact linguistic match;  and (iii) 
BRN( is found in a place, Numbers, where other Hurrian words are attested.  
 
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois



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