[b-hebrew] Asher again

Arnaud Fournet fournet.arnaud at wanadoo.fr
Fri Jul 16 11:19:50 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: Friday, July 16, 2010 3:54 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Asher again

Dr. Fournet:

Richard Hess analyzes the name of a messenger from Mitanni, and the name of 
a defeated princeling in the Orontes River Valley in western Syria, as being 
Hurrian  names.  Why are you now talking about the Kassites?  The Kassites 
did not serve as messengers to Hurrian King Tushratta of the Hurrian great 
power state of Mitanni in eastern Syria.  The Kassites did not form a league 
of five rebellious princelings in the heart of Hurrian country in western 
Syria and get crushed by the mighty Hittites and three regional allies of 
the Hittites, in the historical “four kings against five” in the mid-14th 
century BCE.  All your talk of Mitanni and the Kassites is utterly 
irrelevant to discussing the ethnicity of the members of the league of five 
rebellious parties.

Both in secular history and at Genesis 14: 2, we only have names of four 
members of the league of five rebellious parties.  (That’s because both in 
secular history and at Genesis 14: 2, one member had no princeling ruler at 
the time.  That’s Tunip in Amarna Letter 59: 1.  “Tunip” is probably a 
Hurrian name.)  Of the four historical names we have of the members of the 
league of five rebellious parties, two are thought to be Hurrian, two are 
thought to be Akkadian, none are thought to be Indo-Aryan or Sanskrit, and 
none are thought to be Kassite.

Though you haven’t yet agreed with any of Hess’s analyses of these names 
yet, let’s try Aki-Teshup of Niya, at Amarna Letter EA 59: 15, 18.  Here is 
how Wm. Moran analyzes this name at p. 380 of his edition of the Amarna 
Letters:  “Aki-Te$$up (Hurr. ‘Te$$up is the guide’{?}, king of Nii”.  Aki 
sure looks Hurrian to me, per p. 80 of F/B:  “*[ag-ú] [P-x] ‘to bring, to 
lead’.  EL ag- <a-ku-u>.  …UR <ag/j(u)>”.  Tessup was the #1 god of the 
Hurrians.  I myself find it hard to imagine a more Hurrian-sounding Hurrian 
name than Aki-Te$$up.  Maybe “Te$$up” has an Aryan etymology, but it was a 
Hurrian god known by the Hurrian name of Te$$up.  Te$$up is all over the 
Mitanni Letter.  Wm. Moran observes at p. 387:  “Te$$up, Hurr. Storm-god.” 
The name Aki-Te$$up is not Indo-Aryan, it’s not Sanskrit, it’s not 
Mitannian, and heaven knows it’s not Kassite!
Yes this amounts to thrashing an open door.
Agi-TeSSub is an obvious and doubtless Hurrian name. As you can see the 
pattern is verb + god name. It means "TeSSub brought" (this child).
You can see that none of the names you propose to be Hurrian fit that 

So in order for the early Hebrew author of Genesis 14: 1-11 to come up with 
an apt nickname for Aki-Te$$up, we note the following characteristics:  It 
should be a Hurrian common word that effectively means “Hurrian princeling”. 
It should not be Indo-Aryan, Sanskrit, Mitannian or Kassite.

You will doubtless ask why the early Hebrew author did not either (i) write 
down the historical name “Aki-Te$$up”, or (ii) write down an attested 
Hurrian name.  For one thing, the early Hebrew author was not about to 
memorialize for eternity an outright, unambiguous blessing of a pagan god. 
So the historical name “Aki-Te$$up” was out for sure.  Choosing an attested 
Hurrian name would have been confusing, because the early Hebrew author was 
picking out a nickname, that should have the generic meaning of “Hurrian 
The last sentence is your hypothesis and for the time being this hypothesis 
stands unproven.

Now consider the four personal names that we have at Genesis 14: 2, and 
consider that the early Hebrew author may have made the non-obvious choice 
of using Hebrew ayin to represent Hurrian i.
It's perfectly fallacious to talk about a choice "made" by the author: this 
is your theory. You're deluding yourself with that kind of wording.
And this theory is definitely very strange and runs against what we know 
about alphabets and phonology.

All four names mean “Hurrian princeling” in Hurrian!  Is that neat or what? 
$M)BR starts out with two normal Hurrian syllables, not needing any vowel 
indicators:  $u-mi.  But then we have a more unusual Hurrian syllable that 
begins with a true vowel, an e.  So aleph is used there to represent that 
true vowel, primarily so that we can figure out the syllable division.  )B 
means the discrete Hurrian syllable ‘eb’.  The final R needs no vowel 
indicator here, because we already know the other syllables and the final R 
is a normal Hurrian syllable, -ri.  So $M)BR is $u-mi-eb-ri in Hurrian, 
literally meaning “on behalf of a lord”, and effectively meaning “Hurrian 
princeling”.  That’s a fine generic nickname for Aki-Te$$up, because it’s a 
Hurrian common word, it means “Hurrian princeling”, the name “Aki-Te$$up” is 
a virgin pure Hurrian name, and nothing here has anything to do with 
Indo-Aryan, Sanskrit, Mitanni or Kassite.

As to $u-mi, it’s at p. 101 of F/B.  “*[summi] [P x-] ‘hand’.  EL šummi 
<šu-mi->. Prepositional use as ‘with, on behalf of’.”

$umi is a classic Hurrian word meaning “on behalf of”.

As to ebri, it’s at p. 17 of F/B.  [The word ‘ebri’ is at the end of the 
line of Hurrian text.  The English definition “lord” is near the very end of 
the English translation.]  “- < 14. dIM-ub URU kum-mi-ni-i-bi da-la-a-wu-ši 
eb-ri > -- x : x x x : x x x: -- x : -- x.  The paragraph means: ‘8. And 
Meki, on hearing the order, 9. whining about it: ‘woe on Meki’, said he, 10. 
he bends his two legs toward Teššub, 11. (empty), 12. Meki these words 
toward Teššub, 13. remaining knelt down, says: ‘May you hear, Teššub, 
strongmost lord of Kummi’.”

Ebri is a classic Hurrian word meaning “lord”.

As I told you before, this "Hurrian" word is most probably an Akkadianism 
from Akkadian abaru "strong".
A syntagm like Summi Ebri-wi should have the Genitive mark -wi.
In all cases this is not an attested name formation.

$umi-ebri makes perfect sense in Hurrian as literally meaning “on behalf of 
a (Hurrian) lord”, and as effectively meaning:  “Hurrian princeling”.

Thus we see a Hurrian common word, $umi-ebri, rendered in old Biblical 
Hebrew as $M)BR, effectively meaning “Hurrian princeling”, being used as an 
apt nickname for one of the five rebellious Hurrian princelings at Genesis 
14: 2.  How could it be any clearer than that?  There’s nothing about 
Indo-Aryan, Sanskrit, Mitanni or Kassite here.
I wonder if anybody else than you sees that.
In all cases, I consider this analysis to be unacceptable.

Dr. Fournet, I have shown that every single element of the four personal 
names at Genesis 14: 2 is right there on the Fournet/Bomhard website, 
without exception:  ebri, -ssi, $umi-, and $an-a-b.  Nothing is missing. 
The four personal names at Genesis 14: 2 are ebri, ebri-ssi, $umi-ebri, and 
$an-a-b.  It’s just the Hebrew spelling of these Hurrian common words that’s 
throwing you off:  BR(, BR-%(, $M-)BR, and $N-)-B.  You’re letting the old 
Biblical Hebrew orthography get in the way of seeing these simple Hurrian 
common words, all of which effectively mean:  “Hurrian princeling”.  You’re 
upset because the Hurrian true vowel e is not expressly set forth at the 
beginning of BR( and BR-%(, but that’s par for the course in the defective 
spelling used in old Biblical Hebrew.  You’ve got to imply vowels right and 
left in old Biblical Hebrew defective spelling.  That’s just the way it is. 
That’s the way an early Hebrew would have done the orthography (even if it 
makes modern Hurrian linguists role over in their graves).  It’s Hurrian 
common words with old Biblical Hebrew characteristics, as it were.  There’s 
nothing in those four personal names at Genesis 14: 2 that’s not front and 
center on the F/B website.  It’s very simple Hurrian.  Anyone can see it, if 
you’ll just widen the strike zone a bit as to how these simple Hurrian words 
might be rendered in the defective spelling of old Biblical Hebrew.  Forget 
Kassite.  Think Hurrian!

Dr. Fournet, I think the following hypothetical may change your mind.  As a 
hypothetical, assume that Ezra could read Akkadian cuneiform, and that Ezra 
found the following Hurrian word in a library in Babylon during the Exile: 
$umi-ebri.  Using full spelling Hebrew of which Ezra was the master, here is 
how Ezra could be expected to record that Hurrian word in post-exilic full 
spelling Hebrew:  $WMY)BRY.  It’s an 8-letter exact match.  In particular, 
all four Hurrian vowels are explicitly written down in Ezra-style, 
post-exilic full spelling Hebrew.  But Genesis 14: 2 was composed prior to 
the 1st millennium BCE, when full spelling Hebrew had not yet been invented. 
So at that time, the vav/W and yod/Y would not be used as routine vowel 
indicators, as they are in the later full spelling.  So dropping out those 
vowel indicators, which did not yet exist, this Hurrian word would be 
recorded in old-style defective spelling Hebrew as:  $M)BR.  That’s exactly 
what we see at Genesis 14: 2!  Yes, $WMY)BRY “looks” like Hurrian, because 
it has all those blessed vowels.  But there’s no way that a Late Bronze Age 
early Hebrew author would write down all those Hurrian vowels, since that 
Ezra-style full spelling was never done in Hebrew itself at that time.  The 
absence of express vowels means that $M)BR does not “look” Hurrian, but it 
is Hurrian, just done in old-style defective spelling Hebrew, that’s all.

Anyway before it got written the document was orally transmitted so the 
issue of defective spelling is irrelevant. These names were first memorized 
under their real phonetic forms.
This is actually another objection to your theory.

Arnaud Fournet

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