[b-hebrew] Asher again

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Jul 15 09:55:12 EDT 2010

Dr. Fournet:
I must confess that I am surprised by several of your assertions.
1.  Richard Hess is the #1 scholar in the world for analyzing names in the 
Amarna Letters.  Many of those names are Hurrian names.  I cannot lightly 
dismiss a published analysis by Richard Hess of the Hurrian name Pi-ri-iz-zi 
attested in Amarna Letters EA 27: 89, 93 and EA 28: 12.  As I noted in my 
prior post, Pi-ri-iz-zi is a messenger of Hurrian King Tushratta of 
Mitanni/Naharim, so we would expect Pi-ri-iz-zi to be a Hurrian name.  Richard Hess 
explicitly states at p. 125 of “Amarna Personal Names”:  “The language 
represented by this PN is Hurrian.  Pi-ri-iz-zi is a hypocoristic name, composed of 
ewri ‘lord’ and zzi, a (hypocoristic?) suffix.”
Yet you dismiss that entire scholarly analysis with a wave of the hand, 
“In all cases, Pirizzi and ebri/ewri cannot have any relationship.”
2.  On a related issue, I was shocked to hear you say this:
“The idea that p and b could be interchangeable is completely inacceptable.”
Unless I am taking that statement of yours out of context, I do not see how 
your statement could possibly be true.  Here is part of what the 
Fournet/Bomhard website says about this matter:

(a)  At p. 84:  (i)  “Letter/Phoneme *b.  The phoneme */b/ is extremely 
elusive word-initially. The alternations in Hurrian between <b>, <w> and <p> 
make it possible to reconstruct *b (probably at the Proto-Hurrian stage). In 
the historically attested “dialects” of Hurrian, it seems that #b- fused 
with either *w or *p, in coherence with the general absence of voiced initials 
in Hurrian.”
That’s B being interchangeable with P.
(ii)  And here are the first three entries under B at p. 84, with P being 
interchangeable in all three cases!
“*[baban] ‘mountain’.  EL pabani <pa-ab-ni, wa-wa-n> UG [p b n].
UR <baba>
*[babanγi] ‘mountainous’.  EL paban¯i <pa-ba-an-¯i> UG [p b n x].
*[baγ-] ‘to destroy’.  CA <pa/wa-a¯->.”
(iii)  P. 85 is more of the same:
“*[buru] ‘strong’.  CA <pu/wu-ú-ru>
*[burni] ‘house, temple’.  EL pur(u)li, purni <pu-ur-ni, wu-ur-ni>.
UR <purule>
*[buruγli-] ‘east or south’ (?).  EL wuru¯li <wu/bu-ru-u¯-li>
*[butki] ‘son’.  EL putki <pu-ut-ki, wu-ú-ut-ki93>
Subarean <pi-it-qu> *[pitku ?]”
Based on the Fournet/Bomhard Hurrian language website, P and B and W seem 
to be interchangeable on a fairly routine basis.  
(b)  At p. 97:  “Letter/Phoneme *p.  It can be noted that initial #p- is 
rather rare and #pu- attested in only one word, which Neu (1988) writes with a 
That’s P being interchangeable with B.
(c)  At p. 43:  “…šän-a-b ‘your brother’…”  There we see a final B.  But 
“your brother” is attested in the Mitanni Letter [Amarna Letter EA 24] at 
line I 89 as $e-e-na-a-ap-pe.  Note the double P.  [Also note that the final 
i in the root word $ani or $eni changes to a with this suffix, which is why 
we have $N-)-B at Genesis 14: 2.] 
E.A. Speiser in his 1941 classic “Introduction to Hurrian” states at p. 63 
regarding this general phenomenon:  “Now –b/w is a spirant….  The 
combination of two spirants (evidently voiced) yields the written form –pp-, a 
doubled sound (evidently voiceless stop).”
So once again, we see B being interchangeable with P.
*       *       *
Given the above, I don’t see how you can make the following flat statement: 
 “The idea that p and b could be interchangeable is completely inacceptable.
Au contraire, P and B being interchangeable in Hurrian is attested out the 
(d)  Finally, here is a Hurrian analysis (from a website that, most 
unfortunately, is no longer operational):
“Ep-r'i-ba-ta. To explain the name Eprip-atal (or perhaps Ewrip-atal) is 
not easy. The sound element atal, is common at Nuzi; the first element, eprip, 
could be epri, Nuzian erwi, plus the suffix -p.”
So epri is viewed as being interchangeable with ewri or, reversing the 
consonants as at Nuzi, erwi.  That’s P being interchangeable with W.  As shown 
above, P and W and B are often interchangeable.  To quote the F/B website one 
last time, at p. 106:  “Letter/Phoneme *w.  Many words historically 
attested with <#w-> can be traced back to *b.”
3.  I myself see BR$( at Genesis 14: 2 as being the Hurrian common word 
ebri-ssi.  [We need to imply a Hurrian e at the beginning, by analogy to the 
word $M)BR at Genesis 14: 2, where the aleph there is telling us that the B is 
preceded by a Hurrian e, as the discrete Hurrian syllable 'eb'.]  
BR$(/ebri-ssi means “your lord” in Hurrian, and as such implies “Hurrian princeling”
.  The early Hebrew author is telling us, by use of this Hurrian common 
word as an apt nickname, that this member of the five rebellious parties was a “
Hurrian princeling”.  In fact, all four personal names of the defeated 
league of five rebellious parties at Genesis 14: 2 effectively mean, in Hurrian: 
 “Hurrian princeling”.  Historically, that matches the fact that in the 
Great Syrian War in western Syria in the mid-14th century BCE, a coalition of 
four attacking rulers of various ethnicities (including a mighty Hittite 
king) destroyed a league of five Hurrian princelings in the Orontes River 
Valley.  The pinpoint historical accuracy of the “four kings against five” at 
Genesis 14: 1-11 is stunning.  But to see that, one must recognize that all 
four personal names at Genesis 14: 2 are Hurrian common words.  
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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