[b-hebrew] Terakh

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Jun 2 09:56:36 EDT 2010

On a different thread, George Athas wrote concerning the names of 
characters in the Book of Ruth:  “Mahlon = 'Critically ill' (Guess what he does: he 
dies!)  Chilion = 'Terminally ill' (Guess what he does: he dies!) Orpah = 
'Back-of-the-neck girl' (Guess what she does: she turns her back on  Naomi) 
Ruth = 'companion' (Guess what she does: she acts as Naomi's companion) Naomi = 
'Sweetie' (She's anything but, and she knows it, too)  Boaz = 
'Strongly/Lively' (Guess what he does: he comes to the rescue)  Should these wordplays 
figure in a discussion on the dating of the book of Ruth?”  Dave Washburne 
commented that there are cognates in the west Semitic language of Ugaritic for 
these names.  James Christian then added:  “Isn't Genesis full of characters 
with names fitting what they did or would do?”
Now compare what I have started to show on this thread, where the name “
Terakh”/TRX is a west Semitic name that neatly encompasses virtually everything 
that Abraham’s father is portrayed as doing in the Patriarchal narratives.
1.  T + RX = TRX/Terakh, vs. Moon = Y + RX = YRX.  Many scholars agree that 
the name Terakh/TRX is in part a play on YRX, meaning “moon” or “month” 
in Hebrew, and being the moon god in Ugaritic.  TRX/Terakh is closely 
associated with Ur and Harran, which were the preeminent sites of moon god worship 
in the ancient world.
2.  T + RX = TRX/Terakh, vs. Caravan:  [i] ) + RX = )RX;  and [ii] T + ) + 
RX = T)RX.  As second person singular, T + ) + RX = T)RX, meaning “you 
travel on a caravan”.  The name TRX could be viewed as intentionally recalling 
the verbal form T)RX.  The Patriarchal narratives open with Terakh leading his 
family on a long, somewhat ill-fated caravan trip.
3.  T + RX = TRX/Terakh, vs. Harran:  )RX = XRN.   )RX is the west Semitic 
equivalent of the Hurrian word XR-N, meaning “the road” in Hurrian.  XRN is 
the name (derived from Hurrian) of the place where Terakh/TRX spends the 
rest of his life:  Harran.
4.  T + RX = TRX/Terakh, vs. Pay the Brideprice:  [i] T + RX + M = TRXM;  
and [ii] in Ugaritic, T + RX = TRX.  As second person singular, T + RX + M = 
TRXM, and means “you behold with tenderest affection”, which may move you 
to marry.  Psalms 102: 13.  TRXM is similar in sound to TRX (regardless of 
whether there is or is not any pure linguistic relationship here).  TRX is not 
only the name of Abraham’s father, but also TRX in Ugaritic means “to marry
” or “to pay the brideprice”, which is one of Terakh’s critical roles 
when he arranges for Abraham to marry Sarah as Abraham’s only main wife.
As with George Athas’s examples for the Book of Ruth, note that all of the 
above words are west Semitic words.  As I noted in my last post, the 
Akkadian equivalents of these various words are not similar to TRX at all.  That 
strongly supports the focus of this thread, which is not so much a dating 
issue (as George Athas has raised regarding the Book of Ruth), but rather is as 
follows.  In my controversial view, Terakh/TRX is portrayed in the 
Patriarchal narratives (historically accurately) as being indigenous to Canaan, not 
as being a lifelong resident of non-west Semitic-speaking Mesopotamia, as 
shown by the fact that TRX is a west Semitic name.  
I agree with George Athas’s approach of focusing on names.  On this thread, 
the implication is that if all of TRX, HRN and )BRM are virgin pure west 
Semitic names (as I myself think is the case), then the Patriarchal narratives 
would seem to be presenting the Hebrews as being indigenous to west 
Semitic-speaking Canaan.  The pinpoint historical accuracy of the Patriarchal 
narratives never fails to amaze.  If we could only get the underlying geography 
right, then the startling historical accuracy of the Patriarchal narratives 
would come shining through.  A good start in that regard is to focus on the 
name TRX/“Terakh”.  It’s west Semitic!
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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