[b-hebrew] Asher again

Arnaud Fournet fournet.arnaud at wanadoo.fr
Fri Jul 16 13:13:12 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 6:27 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Asher again

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.
The issue would here to know what cuneiform <e> really stands for. I don't 
think we can consider it to be a true vowel. I tend to think that this <e> 
should be read [ji] in some cases.
Cuneiform is tricky. Most readings have a huge conventional level, 
especially when a language cannot be safely compared with some other 
well-attested language. You have to be aware of that.

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.
Actually my "demand" is that Hurrian *consonants* should be written. This is 
why I object to your readings.
And you're the one who wants to convert ayin to a vowel.

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.
If SM)BR were Summi ebriwi as you want it to be, it should be written SM)BR 
plus Y or W depending on whether the Genitive is regular -wi or 
assimilated -yi.
In addition it's possible that SM-Y-BR-Y/W would be even better.
The conventional reading ebri does not mean that it can only be read ebri. 
Actually it can be )ibri or yibri as well.

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 
It is relevant.
It's neither a name nor a syntagm in Hurrian!

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.
You take that as a kind of given.
These people had names, why use nicknames if people have names. How many 
people in Genesis are not named by their real names?

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 
This key is your hypothesis which you have to prove.
It does not look like what you want to it to be.

In order to keep these personal names understandable to his contemporary 
Hebrew audience (who only knew a tiny handful of Hurrian words),
How do you know that?

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”.
I have well understood your theory.
And from a previous post from somebody else, I noted this is not the 
orthodox PoV.

Arnaud Fournet 

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