[b-hebrew] Sahaduta at Genesis 31: 47

Arnaud Fournet fournet.arnaud at wanadoo.fr
Wed Jul 14 13:42:53 EDT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: JimStinehart at aol.com
To: fournet.arnaud at wanadoo.fr ; b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 6:28 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Sahaduta at Genesis 31: 47

Dear Dr. Fournet:
1.  You wrote:  “Something that puzzles me is that a Hurrian or Mitanni 
Aryan could be attested as late as the 1st millenium BCE.”

Jim wrote
In my view, the Patriarchal narratives were composed in the mid-14th century 
BCE, and have no knowledge of the 1st millennium BCE (except for a handful 
of later editorial additions).  For a small sampling of the evidence I have 
to support that dating, see my earlier post today to Uzi.

May I ask what the "traditional" dating(s) is or are?
I perceive that your "view" is somewhat different from the conventional 


2.  You wrote:  “Leaving that aside, another issue is that NHRYM cannot be 
completely equated with Mitanni or Hurrian-peopled areas.”
Jim wrote
NHRYM is all over the Amarna Letters, with that precise meaning.  Amarna 
Letters EA 75: 39;  EA 140: 32;  EA 194: 23;  EA 288: 35.  NHRYM is vintage 
mid-14th century BCE nomenclature for Mitanni in eastern Syria.

I tend to think that Mitanni is a kind of state with a political content 
while NHRYM is more like an area.
I'm not sure both really coincide.


Jim wrote
3. As I noted in my earlier post today to Uzi, there are many reasons for 
viewing the Patriarchal narratives as having been composed in the mid-14th 
century BCE.  Your main point seems to be that the presence of a Sanskrit 
word Sahaduta used by a Hurrian is out of place in the 1st millennium BCE. 
I agree completely!  But consider that the  o-n-l-y  time in 5,000 years of 
human history when Hurrian princelings were widespread throughout Canaan was 
the 14th century BCE.  So the only time when it makes sense for a Biblical 
text like the Patriarchal narratives to have so many Hurrian words is 
precisely if such text was composed in the mid-14th century BCE.


Mitanni's "life-span" is ca. -1520 to -1330 BCE.
What makes it so clear that the bracket can be reduced to the mid-14th 
century only?


4.  You wrote:  “This meaning is not possible.  Hurrian never had 
person-names with that syntax or formation.”
Jim wrote
You may well be right about that.  But then again, the early Hebrew author 
of the Patriarchal narratives was no expert in Hurrian.  He only knew a few 
Hurrian words.  He might well have known the Hurrian princeling name 
$u-wa-ar-da-ta/$u-ar-da-ti, because that princeling in Year 13 lost Qiltu 
(later called the city of Hebron, 20 miles south of Jerusalem), operated in 
the Shephelah (at or near where the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” was located) while 
trying to find some non-Hurrian allies, and then ended up at the end of Year 
13 having regained Qiltu/Hebron in hill country, but only after embracing as 
allies the Hurrian princelings referenced in Amarna Letter EA 366: 20-28: 
IR-Heba, Surata, and Endaruta.  Sahaduta at Genesis 31: 47 can be seen as 
being a variant of Suwardata.  If the Biblical name is improper Hurrian as 
to syntax or formation, we must remember that (i) the name is Sanskrit, as 
filtered though the Hurrians, not Hurrian per se, and (ii) the early Hebrew 
author was no linguistic expert, knew very few Sanskrit words and very few 
Hurrian words, and was simply trying to come up with a word which would 
sound like a Sanskrit word the Hurrians might use, and which would have an 
appropriate meaning.

ok so we agree that Sahaduta is not Hurrian in all cases but may be of 
Mitanni Aryan origin, if we accept a metathesis Suhadata > Sahaduta.

I was referring to the last sentence of your previous mail trying to explain 
Yagar Sahaduta as Hurrian: this is definitely not possible.


5.  Your post seemed to focus on the issue of dating, more than on purely 
linguistic issues.  In order to keep my own post fairly short, I have 
responded primarily regarding the issue of dating, which is an issue I have 
studied for many years.  When I have time, I will re-examine the linguistic 
issues here.  I am only gradually coming to appreciate the subtleties of 
Hurrian and the Hurrian use of Sanskrit.  Both of those languages are 
totally different than Hebrew.  Moreover, I have recently modified my prior 
views as to how Hurrian words were rendered in Biblical Hebrew, and I have 
not yet gone back to re-examine my old analysis of Sahaduta on that basis.

For example, the Hurrian W plays several different roles in Hurrian, and it’s 
not immediately obvious how an early Hebrew author who knew only a little 
Hurrian might react to that.  The Hebrew vav/W in $HDWT) at Genesis 31: 47 
may be more important than I originally thought.


Judging only from the consonants and disregarding the vowels of -duta, DWT 
could also stand for -dewati. But this idea is precluded by -duta.

But let me react tentatively to your fascinating comment:  “What is 
interesting is that the laryngeal of "sun" *saH2w- seems to be still there!? 
All this would be coherent with this name being very much older than the 1st 

If *saH2w- is in the Biblical word $HDWT), then the literal meaning could be 
“sun” or “sky”, and the implied meaning could be “the sky-god/thunder-god 
(Tessup)”, who was the main Hurrian god.  So instead of your “given by the 
sun”, which is a more literal meaning, the implied meaning could be “given 
by the (Hurrian) sky-god (Tessup)”.  If Biblical $HDWT) has a similar 
meaning to Suwardata, and if one then pairs that with the Hebrew word YGR 
meaning “fear”, then one gets the following Biblical phrase at Genesis 31: 
47:  “fear, given by the (Hurrian) sky-god (Tessup)”.  That could be an 
appropriate oath (primarily in Hurrian, using Sanskrit, but being preceded 
by a west Semitic word) for bi-lingual Laban to give in a mid-14th century 
BCE historical context.  A few lines later, at Genesis 31: 53, Jacob 
mentions the “fear of his father Isaac”, which ambiguous phrase may imply: 
“fear, being the righteous fear of YHWH that Jacob shared with his father 
Isaac”.  That’s roughly comparable to a Hurrian phrase “fear, given by the 
(Hurrian) sky-god (Tessup)”.

Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

I think we cannot jump back and forth from Hurrian to Indo-Aryan.

“given by the (Hurrian) sky-god (Tessup)” is good Hurrian Ari(b/m)-TeSSub 
(in fact it means "TeSSub gave (him)")
Su(w/h)ar-data is good Indo-Aryan

Is YGR $HDWT not an imperative?  "Be afraid ! (you whose name is) $HDWT"



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