[b-hebrew] Asher again

Arnaud Fournet fournet.arnaud at wanadoo.fr
Thu Jul 15 15:52:48 EDT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: JimStinehart at aol.com
To: fournet.arnaud at wanadoo.fr ; uzisilber at gmail.com
Cc: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Sent: Thursday, July 15, 2010 8:34 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Asher again

Dr. Fournet:

Based on the beginning and the end of your post, your primary attack on my 
view of the personal names at Genesis 14: 2 seems to be based on history, 
not linguistics.  Unfortunately, you are completely wrong on the history 

Actually, it's not really an "attack", even though I agree that my 
disagreement is not ambiguous. I would say that my disagreement is primarily 
rooted in linguistics.
I'm rather neutral as regard history.

In the Great Syrian War in the Orontes Valley in western Syria in the 
mid-14th century BCE, which I see as being what the “four kings against 
 five” is accurately reporting, the defeated league of five parties were 
Hurrian princelings who lived in the Orontes River Valley.  They did not 
live in, or anywhere close to, Mitanni in eastern Syria.  Indeed, one key 
reason why the league of five rebellious princelings was effortlessly 
crushed by the mighty Hittites in a men-against-boys total mismatch was 
precisely because Mitanni never showed up to help out its fellow Hurrian 
‘brothers’!  So your comments about the names of kings of Mitanni are almost 
entirely irrelevant.

Maybe you are going a bit too fast.
We do have Mitanni-Aryan names outside Mitanni during that period 1500-1200 
when the Mitanni Kingdom existed.
The most parsimonious idea is to think that all Hurrians at that time were 
unified under the broad banner of Mitanni.
Now, we can also imagine that some Hurrians were out of the Mitanni 

In all cases, the most parsimonious and the expected hypothesis would be 
that Hurrian people should either have regular Hurrian names or 
Mitanni-Aryan names.


Let’s now examine the historical name of one of the historical members of 
the league of five rebellious princelings who were crushed by the Hittites 
in the Orontes River Valley in the mid-14th century BCE Great Syrian War. 
We know from Amarna Letter EA 53 the name Akizzi, the ruler of ill-fated 
Qatna.   Here is Richard Hess’s analysis of the name Akizzi, at pp. 27-28 of 
“Amarna Personal Names”:

“a-ki-iz-zi…The language represented by this PN is Hurrian.  A-ki-iz-zi is 
composed of the Hurrian verbal form, ag ‘to guide, lead,’ and the bound 
morpheme, -zzi.”

As to the first Hurrian word, at p. 80 of F/B we see:  “*[ag-ú] [P-x] ‘to 
bring, to lead’
EL ag- <a-ku-u>.  …UR <ag/j(u)>”

Note that this is a vintage Hurrian word, not a Sanskrit or Indo-Aryan word.

This cannot be a "vintage" Hurrian word.
This bound morpheme -zzi is completely un-heard-of.
Logically such a "name" should be segmented aki- # izzi and we should expect 
izzi to be a god: "Izzi brought him".
This does not exist. Among the hundreds of Hurrian names listed in Nuzi 
Person Names, none sounds like that.

We have discussed the second element in this name, -zzi, in prior posts, 
noting that it is Hurrian.
You stated it "was" Hurrian and I think I objected. I still object.
To be frank this formative does not exist in Hurrian but Nuzi Person Names 
lists it.
Judging from strange names like Umpizzi, i wonder if akizzi is not Kassite 
rather than Hurrian. The sequence -mp- is very much Kassite-looking and -zz- 
is much more frequent in Kassite than in Hurrian.

The early Hebrew author of Genesis 14: 1-11 used nicknames for all 17 names 
and titles of the nine contending rulers at Genesis 14: 1-2.  So we won’t 
literally see “Akizzi” at Genesis 14: 2.  But an appropriate nickname would 
be a Hurrian common word, which is not a Sanskrit word, and which 
effectively means “Hurrian princeling”.  That’s because the defeated members 
of the league of five rebelllious parties were Hurrian princelings, several 
of whose names are Hurrian names, and none of whose names are Sanskrit or 
Indo-Aryan names.

So BR%(, representing ebri-ssi in Hurrian (not Sanskrit), literally meaning 
“your brother”, and effectively meaning “Hurrian princeling”, is a perfect 
nickname used by the early Hebrew author for Akizzi of Qatna.

1.  You wrote:  “A general problem I see here is that during the Mitanni 
Period, the Hurrian-Mitanni upper-class bore Indo-Aryan sounding names.”

That’s true but irrelevant.  The league of five defeated parties was 
composed of Hurrian princelings who were not kings of Mitanni, who did not 
have Indo-Aryan names, and who in several cases had vintage Hurrian names 
like “Akizzi”.  So a Hurrian common word that effectively means “Hurrian 
princeling” is a perfect nickname to use for such a person at Genesis 14: 2.

I'm sorry, but we are moving in circles here.
These names are *not* Hurrian.
The phonology is aberrant, this type is not attested and the items 
themselves are not attested.
All this "vintage" Hurrian is thin air, to put it bluntly.

2.  You wrote:  “[T]hese names should be Indo-Aryan sounding.  So the 
conclusion is that these names do not refer to persons who have anything to 
do with Mitanni and Hurrian people.”

Akizzi is not an “Indo-Aryan sounding” name.  It’s a pure Hurrian name that 
sounds Hurrian.  So a Hurrian common word that effectively means “Hurrian 
princeling” is an apt nickname for Akizzi at Genesis 14: 2.

True, the four names/nicknames at Genesis 14: 2 of members of the defeated 
league of five rebellious parties “do not refer to persons who have anything 
to do with Mitanni”.  That’s because that league formed in the Orontes River 
Valley in western Syria, far from Mitanni, and indeed was abandoned by 
Mitanni at crunch time.

"Far from Syria" ??
Hurrians were everywhere at that time. From Egypt to Anatolia to Northern 

Your further statement that the names/nicknames at Genesis 14: 2 “do not 
refer to…Hurrian people” relies almost solely on your assumption that the 
one and only Hebrew letter that could possibly be used to represent a 
Hurrian i would be a yod.  That is simply not true, as my post showed.  That 
choice would have been very poor for the Hurrian words “which” and “Ea”, 
which include both i and y in Hurrian, and for all the many Hurrian words 
where the first syllable consists solely of the Hurrian vowel i.  The 
superior choice was the choice actually made by the early Hebrew author:  to 
use an otherwise irrelevant Hebrew letter, ayin, to represent Hurrian i.  On 
that basis, all four names at Genesis 14: 2 are Hurrian common words that 
effectively mean “Hurrian princeling”.  BR( is ebri.  [I understand that to 
a Hurrian, the e at the beginning of this Hurrian common word was a vowel in 
its own right, not merely a prosthetic.  But from an early Hebrew point of 
view, that e would have been viewed as being in the nature of a prosthetic 
aleph, being there merely to facilitate the pronunciation of the true 
consonant B.  We know that such e must be implied here, because of the )B --  
eb -- discrete syllable in the related name $M)BR.]   BR%( is ebri-ssi. 
$M)BR is $umi-ebri.  And $N)B is $an-a-b.  It’s so straightforward that the 
early Hebrew contemporary audience, though only knowing a couple of Hurrian 
words, could catch it.  They knew that the key consonants in the Hurrian 
word for “lord” were BR,
lord is ebri: skeleton ?_b_r ; scheme _e_0_i (or maybe _i_0_i if you think e 
is not a real phoneme)
In addition the first vowel of ebri was probably long, which is one more 
reason it should not fall: it was stressed there.

and that the key consonants in the Hurrian word for “brother” were $N, and 
that both such Hurrian words used by the Hurrian ruling class princelings in 
14th century BCE Canaan effectively meant “Hurrian princeling”.  That’s all 
the early Hebrew contemporary audience needed to know, in order to figure 
out that the manifestly non-west Semitic names at Genesis 14: 2 are Hurrian 
common words being used as apt nicknames for the five members of the 
defeated league of Hurrian princelings, who were crushed by the Hittites 
under mighty Hittite King Suppiluliuma I [Biblical “Tidal”] in the Great 
Syrian War in the Orontes River Valley in western Syria in the mid-14th 
century BCE.
For the time being, the indications we have are *against* these names being 
None of them is plausibly or remotely Hurrian.
They just do not fit the mould of Hurrian phonology, of Hurrian Person 
names, of Hurrian words. They just do not fit.

What are the historical consequences if we consider these names to be 
Kassite instead of Hurrian?


Arnaud Fournet

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