[b-hebrew] Terah

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Jun 3 14:35:08 EDT 2010

Prof. Yigal Levin:
1.  You wrote:  “Yes, the Hebrew text says "Kasdim", not "Chaldeans". But 
all "Chaldeans" is is the Greek rendering of "Kasdim", which was adopted by 
most English translations as well. The Bible uses "Kasdim" for the 1st 
millennium Babylonians in books like Kings, Jeremiah and Daniel, because at that 
time, the Neo-Babylonian Empire was in fact ruled by a "Kasdi/Chaldean" 
dynasty (this includes the infamous Nebuchadnezzar).”
Why are you relying on Greek and Daniel in evaluating the Patriarchal narra
tives? The Patriarchal narratives are not referring “to the 1st millennium 
Babylonians [as is done centuries later] in books like Kings, Jeremiah and 
Daniel”.  Rather, the Patriarchal narratives are a Late Bronze Age composition 
that is referring to the people in southern Mesopotamia in the Late Bronze 
Age.  Those were the Kassites.
2.  You wrote:  “And yes, during the Amarna Period (that is, what in Canaan 
we call the Late Bronze Age), Babylon was ruled by the non-Semitic 
We agree as to that.
3.  You wrote:  “But the fact is, that Genesis calls Abraham's birthplace 
 Kasdim", NOT "Ur Kassim".”
In a Late Bronze Age historical context, your proposed “Kassim” would 
refer to the Cushites in Africa.  Abdi-Heba of Jerusalem refers to the African 
Cushites as “Kasites” [ka-$i-yi] at Amarna Letter EA 287: 33.  
The historically-documented Kassite name we are dealing with here, rather, 
is Karaduniyash or Karadunishe (per Amarna Letter EA 1: 1 and variant 
spellings of this Kassite name in other Amarna Letters).  Given the prominent D in 
Karaduniyash, the presence of the dalet/D in K%DYM is not unexpected at 
all.  If there is confusion in these very different types of languages between 
R and %, as many scholars have suggested is the case, then K%DYM might 
likely be the expected way for Karaduniyash (or the people of Karaduniyash) to be 
referred to in Biblical Hebrew in the mid-14th century BCE.    
An historical analysis helps clarify the situation.  The formerly grand 
city of Ur, in southern Mesopotamia, basically did not exist after the 2nd 
millennium BCE.  The Chaldeans do not appear in historical records until the 9th 
century BCE.  Thus Ur and the Chaldeans do not overlap.  By contrast, Ur 
was still an important provincial city in the mid-2nd millennium BCE, when the 
Kassites ruled southern Mesopotamia.  Ur remained the best-known place to 
buy lapis lazuli at wholesale.  A reference to “Ur of the Kasdim” makes 
perfect sense in a mid-2nd millennium BCE historical context, if the Hebrew word 
“Kasdim” is coming from the Kassite word for southern Mesopotamia, “
Karaduniyash”.  A reference to “Ur of the Chaldeans” makes no sense in any 
4.  You wrote:  “As far as I know, the Kassites are not mentioned in the 
Bible at all.”
Only in the Patriarchal narratives, because the only prose section of the 
Bible that was composed prior to the 1st millennium BCE was the Patriarchal 
narratives.  Later Biblical authors knew nothing of the Bronze Age Kassites.
5.  You wrote:  “Now IF "Ur Kasdim" is the famous southern Ur, then calling 
it Ur Kasdim in Genesis is an anachronism - which I personally have no 
problem with.”
Au contraire, such phrase makes perfect sense in the historical context of 
the mid-14th century BCE, if Karaduniyash, or the people of Karaduniyash, in 
the Amarna Letters might be expected to come out in Biblical Hebrew as 
6.  You wrote:  “On the other hand, the reference COULD be to a more 
northern Ur (such as the long-standing tradition of identifying Abraham's 
birthplace at Urfa), in the Kasdi homeland in northern Syria, nearer to Haran (which 
makes a lot of sense anyway), precisely in order to distinguish it from the 
southern Ur. The main thing that leaves me undecided is the fact, which Jim 
pointed out, that both Haran and (southern) Ur were known centers of the 
cult of Sin, the moon-god, and I do think that the names Terah, Laban 
("Whitey"), Milkah and Sarah (both referring to the Queen of Heaven) hint that 
Terah's family were moon-worshippers. But that's not really proof of anything.”
The people of Urfa spoke Hurrian in the Late Bronze Age.  “Its original 
name, Urhai, may suggest connections with the Hurrians….”  
(http://www.livius.org/ea-eh/edessa/edessa.html)   That does not square with the west Semitic names of Terakh and his sons 
Haran and Abram.
Moreover, if Terakh was indigenous to Urfa, then why was he trying to go to 
Canaan as an old man?  And how could Terakh be portrayed as getting stuck 
in Harran (which is only 48 km from Urfa)?  The story makes total logical 
sense if Terakh is indigenous to Canaan, with both Terakh and 2 of his 3 sons 
having west Semitic names, and they are all on a long caravan trip from 
Canaan out to Ur in southern Mesopotamia to buy lapis lazuli.  Haran dies in Ur, 
at the farthest point of the trip.  An old and heartbroken Terakh cannot 
make it past Harran in trying to return home to Canaan.  Nahor stays with his 
father in Harran to take care of Terakh in Terakh’s extended old age.  Of 
Terakh and his 3 sons, only Abraham is the lucky one who makes it back home to 
7.  You wrote:  “Jim, you are correct in saying that the Terah family's 
names are all Western-Semitic. Which is one more reason to think that their 
home was in
 Syria, not southern Iraq.”
In the Late Bronze Age, most people in Syria spoke Hurrian, not west 
Semitic.  “Urfa” is a Hurrian name!  In fact, the name of Terakh’s middle son, 
Nahor/NXWR, is not west Semitic meaning “snorer” (what sense would that 
make?), but rather is based on a Hurrian word, N-XW, that references the bed of 
Hurrian goddesses.  That indicates that Nahor, unlike Terakh, “went native” 
when he got stuck living in the Hurrian state of NHRYM at Harran.
8.  You wrote:  “But even in the "Kassite" period, most people in southern 
Mesopotamia spoke and wrote Akkadian. The (non-Semitic) Kassite language was 
used mostly by the ruling class of Kassite invaders.”
That’s true.  In trying to keep my prior post short, I did not go into 
those details.  But as I showed in an earlier post on this thread, the Akkadian 
words for “moon”/Sin and “caravan”/harranu don’t match the name TRX at 
all.  No, it’s the west Semitic words that match.  Terakh/TRX is accurately 
portrayed in the Patriarchal narratives as being indigenous to Canaan.  Hebrew 
is a virgin pure west Semitic language, and the names TRX, HRN and )BRM are 
virgin pure west Semitic names, having nothing to do with Mesopotamia, and 
everything to do with Canaan.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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