[b-hebrew] Asher again

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Jul 14 12:48:47 EDT 2010

Dr. Fournet:
I had written to Uzi:  “[J]ust look at all the vintage Hurrian names in the 
Patriarchal narratives:  $N(R, )RYWK, BR(, BR%(, $M)BR, $N)B, XCCN TMR, 
(PRWN, )YLWN, and B)RY.  Those are vintage Late Bronze Age Hurrian names that 
would have been incomprehensible to all later Biblical authors.”
To that you responded:  “I cannot see what makes these names vintage 

What are the vowels exactly in those names?”
You are of course right to focus on the difficult issue of how Hurrian 
vowels would be represented (to the extent they are represented at all) in old 
Biblical Hebrew.  Consider the following initial thoughts.  Ayin/( is used to 
represent Hurrian i;  aleph/) is used to represent Hurrian e or a;  yod/Y 
is only used as a second vowel indicator in a Hurrian word where it follows 
an earlier aleph, in which case the yod can represent any Hurrian vowel, 
including i;  vav/W and he/H are not used as vowel indicators in representing 
Hurrian words;  the vast majority of Hurrian vowels are not represented at all 
in the defective spelling of old Biblical Hebrew, but rather the foregoing 
vowel indicators are used (sparingly) only as needed to indicate the 
syllable division of these Hurrian words.  Using that fairly simple scenario, all 
of the above Biblical names make perfect sense as Hurrian words (though in a 
majority of cases not being attested Hurrian names, but rather being Hurrian 
common words, which are used in the Patriarchal narratives as names for 
Hurrian persons).  $N(R is $eni-ra, )RYWK is Arawa-ka, BR( is [after implying 
an initial (prosthetic) aleph, which concept also applies to the next two 
words as well, with all three words appearing in a single verse, Genesis 14: 2, 
and referring to closely related people] eb-ri, BR%( is eb-ri-ssi, $M)BR is 
$umi-ebri, $N)B is $ena-b [where the usual i ending changes in Hurrian to a 
here, in the meaning “your brother”], XCC-N TMR is xaTSiTSi-na TM-R 
[meaning “the wisdom, nine”, which is super-exciting, because Hurrian XCC is a 
rare word with an Akkadian cognate, X%%, so that XCC-N TMR could be the long 
form of the Hurrian name “Wisdom”, XCC, whose Akkadian equivalent would be 
X%%, whose short form version in turn could well be Ha-si (with a heth) at 
Amarna Letter EA 175, so that Biblical XCC-N TMR is Hasi in the Beqa Valley], 
(PRWN is i-pi-ri-wa-n [meaning “the (Hurrian) lord of mine”, where I now 
see the vav/W as being a consonant and meaning “my” or “of mine”, rather 
than being a vowel indicator], )YLWN is i-i-al-la-a-wu-ne, and B)RY is 
Please note that the vast majority of those Biblical names are not attested 
Hurrian names.  Rather, they are simple Hurrian common words which the 
early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives is using as Hurrian names [for 
Hurrian individuals, who are confusingly referred to in the Biblical text 
as “sons of the Hittites” or as just “Hittite”, meaning the historical 
Hurrians].  Many of those Biblical names [like BR(] are super-simple Hurrian 
common words, being simpler than actual attested Hurrian names [such as )RYWK, 
which is complex in being the east Hurrian/Nuzi version of ebri which 
reverses the two consonants, and uses W for B, to which is added a diminutive 
ending;  but if Richard Hess’s analysis is right as to the name of the Hurrian 
princeling who ran Egypt’s garrison at Kumidu in the Beqa Valley, with such 
name arguably being Arawa-na at Amarna Letter EA 198: 4, then that is where 
the early Hebrew author would have picked up this slight variant of a complex 
Nuzi name].  We must remember that the early Hebrew author of the 
Patriarchal narratives only knew a few Hurrian words, mainly ebri/“lord” and $eni/“
brother” [though he was quite confident in doing many manipulations of these 
two basic Hurrian words].  Most of the above Biblical names are simple plays 
on those two Hurrian common words, being about the only two Hurrian words 
that a contemporary Hebrew audience in the mid-14th century BCE might be 
expected to know.
The presence of that plethora of Hurrian names/words in the Patriarchal 
narratives is one key indication that the Patriarchal narratives were composed 
in the mid-14th century BCE, with the 14th century BCE being the only time 
in history when Hurrian princelings were widespread throughout Canaan.  
Although Hurrian personal names continue to be present in northern Mesopotamia 
after 1100 BCE, as you properly point out, the language of Hurrian, and the 
Hurrian people as a distinct people, were basically extinct long before that.  
Most of the above Biblical names are based on the Hurrian common words ebri 
or $eni, whose meanings would have been unknown to the Hebrews soon after 
the end of the 14th century BCE.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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