[b-hebrew] Asher again

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Jul 16 12:27:43 EDT 2010

Dr. Fournet:
Let me first say that I have learned a great deal from your posts on this 
thread.  Thank you!  (And thank you to the moderators as well, for allowing 
all these posts concerning Hurrian.)
To me, it has become clear that the problem you and I are having is not 
really about Hurrian, but rather is about the orthography of early Biblical 
Hebrew defective spelling.  One of your recent comments illustrates this key 
point perfectly. 
You wrote:  “A syntagm like Summi Ebri-wi should have the Genitive mark -wi.

In all cases this is not an attested name formation.”
1.  As to your first point, see the Fournet/Bomhard Hurrian language 
website at p. 11:  “The Genitive of älami ‘oath’ is attested as <e-la-mi-ni-e> 
*[älaminiji] instead of the regular form <e-la-mi-ni-we>. The glide /w/, and 
even /b/, are sometimes pronounced [j] as shown by abi ‘face, front’ and the 
variant aye.”
The normal genitive mark in Hurrian is –we or -wi.  But as the F/B website 
aptly points out, a genitive mark in Hurrian does not have to have the true 
consonant W, as in ‘we’ or ‘wi’, but rather at times can be indicated by a 
pure vowel, ‘e’, at least where the preceding syllable ends with a vowel 
[which is the case for alami, elamini, and ebri].  Defective spelling Hebrew 
did not record pure vowels.  A final e would routinely not be recorded in 
defective spelling old Biblical Hebrew.
In effect, you keep demanding post-exilic Ezra-style full spelling of these 
Hurrian common words, where many Hurrian vowels would be expressly recorded 
in the Hebrew rendering.  That’s simply impossible at Genesis 14: 2, whose 
composition pre-dates the introduction of full spelling post-exilic Hebrew 
by about 800 years or so.  You’re just not going to find those vowels in 
old-style defective Hebrew spelling.  The early Hebrew author of Genesis 14: 2 
did the best he could to record these simple Hurrian common words, but there’
s no way that he could adopt Ezra’s post-exilic practice of using Hebrew 
vav/W and Hebrew yod/Y to record most, if not all, of the many Hurrian vowels 
in Hurrian common words.
You see, the real problem we keep having is about early Hebrew orthography. 
 When Genesis 14: 2 was composed, there’s no way that most Hurrian vowels 
would be expressly recorded by specific Hebrew letters.  No way.  That is 
antithetical to the defective spelling used in old Biblical Hebrew.  You must 
give up your demand to see multiple Hurrian vowels expressly recorded in 
old-style Hebrew.  Yes, Akkadian scribes wrote down all those blessed Hurrian 
vowels, but there’s no way that an early Hebrew would do that.  There is only 
one vowel indicator in each of the four personal names at Genesis 14: 2.  By 
defective spelling old Biblical Hebrew standards, that’s a lot of vowels.  
There’s no way a pre-1st millennium BCE Hebrew composition like chapter 14 
of Genesis could be reasonably expected to expressly set forth more vowels 
than that.  True, Ezra might have spelled it $WMY)BRY [or maybe, stretching 
things a bit, even $WMY)BRYWY].  That “looks” Hurrian, with all those many 
vowels.  But in the defective old Biblical Hebrew spelling of Genesis 14: 2, 
the expected spelling of that Hurrian common word is precisely what we see in 
the received text:  $M)BR.  It’s pure Hurrian, all the way, in every way.  
But very few of the Hurrian vowels are expressly recorded in the old-style 
defective spelling of early Biblical Hebrew.  
2.  The Hurrian common words at Genesis 14: 2 are not attested Hurrian 
names.  The fact that $umi-ebri “is not an attested name formation” is 
irrelevant.  The Hurrian common words at Genesis 14: 2 are simple, run-of-the-mill 
Hurrian common words, which the early Hebrew author is using as nicknames for 
Hurrian princelings.  The key there is to recognize that all four personal 
names at Genesis 14: 2, when viewed as being Hurrian common words, 
effectively mean “Hurrian princeling”.  In order to keep these personal names 
understandable to his contemporary Hebrew audience (who only knew a tiny handful 
of Hurrian words), all four personal names at Genesis 14: 2 are based on only 
two basic Hurrian common words:  ebri and $eni.  As such, the Hurrian 
common words used for personal names at Genesis 14: 2 are ideal nicknames for the 
Hurrian princelings who made up the five-party league of rebellious Hurrian 
princelings in the Great Syrian War in western Syria in the mid-14th 
century BCE.  That momentous historical event is accurately recorded at Genesis 
14: 1-11 as the “four kings against five”.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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